Tag Archives: Ellen King Rice

Review of The Slime Mold Murder by Ellen King Rice #amreading

I did receive an advance copy of The Slime Mold Murder. I usually decline to do advance reviews as my blogging and writing schedule means I just don’t have time to write a proper review anymore.

magicAlso, if you have been a reader of mine for a while, you know I rarely write reviews for books I don’t like, no matter how much I like the author because I hate hurting peoples’ feelings.

However, when I was approached about drawing the map that is featured in the front, what I was told about the book intrigued me. I had read and loved other work by this author, most especially Larry’s Post-Rapture Pet Sitting Service.

But first, The Blurb for The Slime Mold Murder :

A Winner of the 2020 IPPY Gold Medal for best regional fiction, Ellen King Rice is back with a fourth biological adventure set in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, this time exploring the fascinating world of the Myxogastria slime molds.

At nineteen, Dylan’s brilliant mind is an asset as he struggles with severe ADHD and deteriorating living conditions. He’s one semester away from completing his college degree in ecology, but he’s out of cash, out of soap, and about to be evicted.

A post-pandemic opportunity to survey a rural property sounds like a lifeline. The owner of a creepy faux-chateau is ready to pay a handsome wage for a list of species found on the property. Dylan can’t believe his good luck. He’s about to be paid to wander in the woods. Sure, there’s some bookkeeping, but how hard can it be to make a plant list?

The neighborhood, however, has other residents, including a metal sculpture artist, nudists, two homeless men, and a conservative county commissioner, each with their own definition of freedom and their own ways of interacting with the land.

When a body is found in the woods Dylan’s work opportunity is threatened. He needs to uncover the reason for the death, but Dylan’s lightning-fast mind is constantly undermined by his poor executive functioning. He can discourse eloquently on the significance of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, but he can’t find his wallet. He longs to adopt an orphaned West Highland terrier, but he’s not sure he’d remember to feed a dog. He certainly can’t afford a bag of dog kibble, much less the repairs needed on his vintage Honda.

How can Dylan’s intuitive grasp of ecology and the complex life cycles of the Myxogastria help to expose a killer? And how does he protect his employer, his professor, his friends and a small, confused dog from those who eagerly embrace violence?


My Review:

51v0Z1IolxSDylan Kushner is a 19-year-old genius coping with absentee parents, financial insecurity, looming homelessness, and worry about paying for his last semester of school. He also lives with ADHD and dysgraphia, which impairs his ability to translate his thoughts into handwritten words. Through his college classes, he is befriended by good people who give him the tools to be independent.

Mari is a fellow student, bumbling her way to adulthood. Alyson is the precocious twelve-year-old daughter of Wade Witecki. All the many characters in this mystery are engaging and either likable or unlikeable as they would be in real life. One even empathizes with the characters who fall into the gray area between good and evil.

I enjoyed how Rice framed opening chapters, introducing us to the players. She uses action and interaction to show the lengths some powerful people are willing to go to when their cherished beliefs are threatened. Once we have met everyone, it’s clear that a clash of epic proportions looms.

While the narrative is a little science-heavy at times, it moves along well, with the events occurring as they might in real life. Each character’s reactions and subsequent actions are logical, yet just when you think you have it figured out, you don’t.

The world Rice presents to us is solidly formed. I found it easy to be immersed in the dampness and subtle smells of the forest as the characters worked their way through the mystery. In the process, we see the general unpleasantness some people have a knack for, the kindnesses people are capable of, and the evil that lurks in the soul of others.

If you love learning about the natural world and also love a good mystery that is strong on science, the Slime Mold Murder is the book is for you.


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Ellen King Rice is a wildlife biologist who explores the woods while wearing leg braces. Her slow pace has provided opportunities to learn about the Northwest’s small and cryptic species. Her vivid adventures shine a spotlight on the richness found on the forest floor, augmented by crisp illustrations from Olympia artist, Duncan Sheffels. This award-winning pair have been charming woodland lovers since 2016.

You can find Ellen and her books at www.ellenkingrice.com

Please join her on Instagram at:

https://www.instagram.com/mushroom_thrillers.

And on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/mushroomthriller/

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Author Interview: Ellen King Rice on characters #amwriting

51v0Z1IolxSOne of the best ways to learn about the craft of writing is to talk with other authors. We all have different ways of creating our work, so hearing how another author works always gives me new ideas.

Ellen King Rice writes mysteries set in the South Puget Sound area of the Pacific Northwest. She is a wildlife biologist and is happiest when out in the woods on a fungi hunt with her camera.

Ellen has a new book out, The Slime Mold Murder, and as one the advance readers, I found it witty and the series of events are well-plotted. The characters are engaging, and their stories emerge as the plot unfolds. She has agreed to talk about her characters in this book, and how she came to know them.


CJJ: Tell us about Dylan. When did he first come into your mind as a protagonist?

EKR: Dylan was in my first book, The EvoAngel, as a precocious eleven-year-old with impulse-control challenges. He channels my own life as someone who speaks boldly and often irritates others.

CJJ: This book has number of credible characters. Which character was most difficult to write, and why?

5EKR06042021LIRFEKR: Mitchell and Mark are a gay couple, but I didn’t want to write them as caricatures. I spent a great deal of time trying out descriptions to come up with two men who are individuals in their own right but collectively a pair who would rattle the conservative county commissioner.

CJJ: Which character do you identify with on a personal level. Why?

EKR: Mari reminds me of myself at eighteen. I was keen to explore romance but terribly inept.

CJJ: Do you create an outline for structuring a character arc, or do you wing it?

EKR: Authors are often divided into the pantser or plotter groups. Some of us are plontsers – a lovely hybrid who think they have a plan but are really making it up as they go along. No kidding. I do start with a plan and then I get distracted with new ideas.

CoralRootEKR06042021LIRFjpgCJJ: Do you think your characters or events drive the plot? How are your characters shaped by the events they live through?

EKR: For me it is the events that drive the plot and the characters respond, hopefully growing as they take action.

CJJ: Are there any final words you would like to say regarding the characters and events of The Slime Mold Murder?

EKR:  The inclusion of the sclerotia in the story is meant to be inspirational. Slime molds can enter a dry phase where they do not grow. This phase can last for years, but when conditions improve, there can be a vibrant response. I so hope that we humans can move past months of a global pandemic to build a better world where more of us thrive.


Ellen, thank you for taking the time to talk about how you approach the craft of writing and creating your wonderful characters.

If you are curious about this book, The Slime Mold Murder is available at Amazon as a paperback, and will be released for the Kindle on June 24th, 2021: The Slime Mold Murder.


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About Ellen King Rice:

I am a wildlife biologist who suffered a spinal cord injury many years ago. Although my days of field work are over, biology continues to intrigue me.

I am fascinated by sub-cellular level responses to ecosystem changes. I also like the predictability of animal behavior, once it is understood.

A fast-paced story filled with twists is a fun way to stimulate laughs, gasps and understanding. I work to heighten ecological awareness. I want the details and your new insights to remain in your thoughts forever.

You can find me and my books at www.ellenkingrice.com

Please join me on Instagram at:

https://www.instagram.com/mushroom_thrillers.

And on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/mushroomthriller/


Credits and Attributions:

All photos copyright 2021 Ellen King Rice. All images used in this post are the work and intellectual property of Ellen King Rice. She has kindly given me permission to use them in this post.

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Larry’s Post-Rapture Pet-Sitting Service, By Ellen King Rice #bookreview #beachread

While I was on vacation, I read Ellen King Rice’s new book, Larry’s Post-Rapture Pet-Sitting Service. What a hoot!  As with her previous books, it’s set in the South Puget Sound area of the Pacific Northwest. This book is a joy.

So, without further yak-yak, here is my review of

Larry’s Post-Rapture Pet-Sitting Service: A loser’s account of surviving the righteous and other afflictions, by Ellen King Rice

  • Publisher:Undergrowth Publishing (August 20, 2020)
  • Publication Date:August 20, 2020

But First, the Blurb:

One man with highly flexible morals and a dodgy past.

His mother, in dire need of beer and pretzels.

A history-mad teenager in search of a job.

And cats. Lots of cats.

As the alleged man of the house, Larry has to make ends meet, one way or another.

Selling post-Rapture pet care insurance seems simple enough.

Until Larry crosses paths with a left-behind televangelist looking to carve a new domain. Out of his hide, if he lets her.

Review: “A large and colorful cast of characters fills the novel, and their experiences and coping mechanisms in the rapture-altered world give the story a welcome variety of perspectives.” – Kirkus Reviews

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My Review:

I’m still smiling about this book. Larry is the most perfectly imperfect man ever. Marjorie is a wonderful person, a little rough around the edges, but possessing a heart of gold. Every cloud has a silver lining, but sometimes you have to hustle to get there first. Marjorie excels at keeping her son hustling.

Larry is accustomed to not flying first-class, so to speak, so he’s not surprised that he was left behind. He loves life and all the pickles he’d have missed had he been raptured or sent the other way.

I loved the notion that all the dogs went to Heaven.

Abigail Ross is a credible villain. The varying degrees of devotion her entourage of now-unenthusiastic minions feels for their employer since the rapture began is well-drawn. The many snake-like ways she tries to thwart Larry’s success kept me turning the page. I had to find out how everything was resolved.

Larry attracts a good posse. Every character in this group and their circumstances are unique, and yet they fit together, becoming stronger by virtue of being not quite saintly enough for the rapture.

I laughed out loud in many places, worried for Larry and his crew, and celebrated when certain animals were rescued.

If you like humor, dark or otherwise, and love thought provoking character-driven novels, this is one you should read.



About Ellen King Rice: Ellen  usually writes mysteries with mycological elements, but recent political events have drawn her out of the woods to admire the resilience of the people of the Pacific Northwest. Call it a Menippean satire for the modern era, or a rollicking tale of imperfect people surviving in uncertain times, this is a story of doggedness and pickles. Winner of a 2020 IPPY Gold medal for Best Regional Fiction for “Lichenwald” (and a 2019 Silver Medal IPPY award for “Undergrowth” and a Wishing Shelf Book Awards finalist for “The EvoAngel”) Ellen King Rice is a former wildlife biologist with passions for epigenetics and fungi. In her younger years she served as a wildlife conservation officer, a big game manager, an endangered species biologist and as a lobbyist for environmental issues.

You can find Ellen and her books at https://www.ellenkingrice.com/

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#PNWA2019 Conference Ramblings #amwriting

Those of you who regularly follow my ramblings may have noticed you received a “bonus” post yesterday. I was in the process of scheduling the post for today but hit the publish button before I set the calendar.

Oops.

Anyway, for those of you who are just happening by, the post is called Employing Polarity, and it deals with Shackleton’s expedition to Antarctica.

Or not. What I was riffing on yesterday is the use of opposites and contrast in your narrative. Check it out if you’re in the mood for writing craft.

So why was I so punch-drunk I misposted my post? The blurry photo at the top left shows my little piece of turf, and I wish I had thought to show my neighbor’s booths. They were amazing compared to my offering.

I just spent four jam-packed days in Seattle at the PNWA Writers’ Conference. My goodness, what a fun, educational experience it was.

I also had the honor of being the moderator for award-winning narrator, Brian Callanan’s seminar, Audiobooks: A New Chapter for Writers. Wow! Did I learn some stuff about the process or what!

Cat Rambo had some excellent words on world-building, of course, in her seminar The Realistic Fantastic. That woman has a real way with words, and trust me – if you get a chance to attend one of her seminars, you are in for a treat.

An author I was unfamiliar with prior to the conference, but who is now on my “Never Miss This Show” list is Romance author Damon Suede. What he had to say about Verbs was not only extremely hilarious, it was a look at action words from an angle I hadn’t considered—that of a person who writes screenplays.

Anyone who has ever heard Chris (C.C.) Humphreys speak knows what a hilarious and informative speaker he is. I’ve never enjoyed gagging down terrible food so much in my life as I did that final buffet breakfast on Sunday morning.

And last of all, thanks to the kind intervention of Indie author Ellen King Rice, who had a spare Square device that would fit my new phone, Grandma sold a few books.

I met a lot of old friends, made a great many more new friends, and on Sunday afternoon, after four days of partying like a rock star, Grandma was too tired to be scheduling blogposts.

Live and Learn!

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