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Book Review ~ Schugara by Joe English

 

reviews, authors, writing

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5 out of 5 quills.  Book Review  

 

If you like words as much as I do (and you know how much I do) you will love this book. Words chosen and arranged so masterfully. English’s use of language is superb. No surprise, maybe, as the author took thirty years to complete the book. And he was still editing when he sent me the advanced reader’s copy. That’s dedication…but it also shows in the final product. 

I don’t writer spoilers…that is, I don’t include the whole story (as so many reviewers do) in any of my book reviews. I review the writing and the story. Is the writing good? Is the story entertaining and complex? Are the characters believable and do I care about them?  In the case of Schugara the answers are a resounding ‘YES’!

We’ve all wanted to run away and reinvent ourselves at some point in our lives. I certainly have…upon reflection I have actually done it! And that’s what this story is about. Several characters run away and they end up on the same remote island in the Caribbean. This book will require your full attention. It is not ‘light reading’ as the multiple characters are rich and the story complex. 

My only negative critique is with the publisher. The back cover of the book does not give a synopsis of the story to lure a reader into buying it. Reviews are fine but they should be taglines on the back cover and full reviews saved for inside the book.   The format is very distracting. (Maybe the issues were only in my advanced copy. Let’s hope so.) Unjustified spaces. Indents too deep. All these issues, including line spacing, contribute to the final number of pages, 500+, and may be a negative when a reader considers buying the book. Believe it or not, buyers check to see how many pages there are. No effort was made to create an author’s page on Amazon.com and other outlets, which is basic marketing. The readers want to know more about the book and its author. 

Having said my piece about the production of the book, it’s a fine piece of writing and I congratulate the author. Waiting anxiously for his next book. I think there’s a book in Joe Rogers, Zero and the bookstore, The Yellow Harp. 

Did you catch my interview with this author?

To purchase Schugara
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  other AUTHORS!   August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. September: Jonathan Rabb.  October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss and in early 2019  Patrick Canning.
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Interview with author, Joe English (part 2)

Q.  Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?   

JE.   Definitely.   The rest of the world goes on, I am told and occasionally realize, while I am puzzling over a phrase, a sentence.   Should I add a poem to the beginning of a given  chapter to foreshadow  the chapter’s worth?   Should I use the word large or big?  Is the simile in the sentence “The sky was as blue as the bluest  eye. . .” apt?   [Answer:  no.  Why not?  Well, the sky is vast; the eye, small]. How about “The sky was as blue as the bluest eye and the jungle as green as gold”?  The second half not as bothersome, but still not quite there yet.  So, after hours and hours (literally) of tinkering, thinking, playing, rewriting:   throw the sky overboard.  Go with just the jungle:  “The rising sun stoked greens—emerald and jade, myrtle and moss—into glistening gold.”   There! 

Q. You have a new book coming out soon? If so tell us about it.  

JE.   I am working on a short story.   What has kept me going all these years is that many, many readers have praised SCHUGARA.    Gratifying.   But the bills must be paid.  I am not sure I want to  put myself through the torture, abuse, neglect, duplicity, that an unestablished  novelist must endure.   Tell me:  is posthumous  recognition appealing?  I think frequently of Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”:  

Full many a gem of purest ray serene, 
The dark unfathom’d caves of ocean bear: 
Full many a 
flow’r is born to blush unseen, 
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
  

Q.  When did you begin to write seriously?    

JE.  Since I was a child, ten years of age of thereabouts.  I have always been fascinated with words.   Elegance has all but disappeared from writing.   From our use of language.   From our culture.   From the ways we interact with others. 

Q. How long after that were you published? 

JE.   High school.  Literary publication. 

Q. What makes a writer great? 

JE.   Having something to say and saying it well.  

Q.  (Note to Self: a life lesson you’ve learned.) 

JE.   I quote Lily Tomlin in SCHUGARA:  “No matter how cynical you become, it’s never enough to keep up.”  I don’t like saying so, or recognizing this, but I have come to the conclusion that, for the most part, people simply don’t care, don’t give a damn, pay lip service to the concerns of others, and live inside solipsistic bubbles.  My advice to aspiring writers:  get off the beaten path.   If you are in a city, move into one of the many “ghetto” areas the United States cultivates, dumping grounds for people without money, for the most part people of color.  Do not get sucked into the television world of lies and happy faces:  YOU DESERVE A BREAK TODAY!  HAVE IT YOUR WAY!   Those who are idealists in their teenage years and twenties sell out by age thirty without ever realizing so.     Do we need more stories about suburban angst?

 Q. and the all-important:  What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?   

JE.   A book is NEVER finished.  The writer must force himself/herself to stop.   Now that I have been forced to stop, I suffer the slings and arrows of trying to get attention paid.   The literary gatekeepers keep a close-knit mutually praising society, frightened, so it seems, at anyone or anything that goes against the grain.

Ours is a close minded culture, wherein those who know know they know better.   They are the tastemakers.   Do you think a novel published by a struggling tiny press located in Louisville, Kentucky, clearly the hayseed  capital of the nation, has a chance of being reviewed by the New York Times?

Did you miss part 1: Click here 
To purchase Schugara
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. September: Jonathan Rabb.  October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss and in early 2019  Patrick Canning.
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Book Review ~~ Mistletoe Miracles by Jodi Thomas

 

reviews, authors, writing

reviews, authors, writing

reviews, authors, writing

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing

 

5 out of 5 quills ~~ A Review

I didn’t want this one to end. 

Jodi Thomas weaves three stories into one. Three sets of lovers finding each other, getting lost again, and finding each other for keeps.
The lovers are diverse with really only one common thread, that being a tiny town, Crossroads, Texas. An arranged marriage, a wounded warrior, and mistaken identity all meld into a wonderful trilogy within one book. I loved it!

There’s never a misplaced word when this writer tells a story. The characters capture the reader within the first few pages. The story line (in this case three) is interesting and believable.
You won’t get a spoiler from this reviewer. For me it’s all about the writing and this author writes like a dream. Interesting settings, great, colorful characters richly drawn and wonderful dialog. 

To Purchase Mistletoe Miracles Click Here 

Did you miss my Interview with Jodi Thomas?

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. September: Jonathan Rabb.  October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December: Molly Gloss. Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick) and Patrick Canning.

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Book Review ~~ Colorblind by Reed Coleman Farr (Robert B. Parker)

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing5 out of 5 quills    A Review  ~~ Colorblind

I have been wandering the streets of Paradise, Massachusetts with Jesse Stone for over 15 years and {over two decades with Spenser in Boston}. Following Jesse as he tries to make his little town a little safer. We all loved the creator of these wonderful mysteries, Robert B. Parker. After his death, Reed Farrel Coleman and Ace Atkins took over these series, helping the Parker estate to keep them alive. 

The latest offering is Colorblind. Whether by intent or coincidence, it’s a timely story of racism, bigotry and tribalism. The plot is complex while remaining very entertaining and keeps readers on their toes.  And if you’re a series fan of any writer, as I am, it’s always fun to meet back up with recurring characters, such as Molly Crane, Luther ‘Suitcase’ Simpson, and Healy. 

I am constantly amazed at the writer who can speak in another writer’s voice. Reed Farrel Coleman does this flawlessly. Giving the fans of Robert B. Parker years more of his stories, even though he is gone. I’ve never been one to write spoilers in my reviews. It’s all about the writing for me. The story. The Characters.  But I will tell you, there is a huge surprise in Jesse Stone’s story line. I mean HUGE! 

Another winner and I highly recommend it. 

Did you miss my Interview with Reed Farrel Coleman?
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. September: Jonathan Rabb.  Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)

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Interview with Best Selling author, Susan Mallery

Photo: Annie Brady

TS.   I have read everything that Susan Mallery has written and I am here to tell you, she’s never written a bad book.  Just good, solid stories about real people and their lives. And I love me some good storytelling! After, literally, years of requesting an interview from this busy author (at least four new books a year!) I have finally caught her at maybe a not so busy moment. For whatever reason I succeeded in interviewing this best selling author.  I am so happy to share with my readers a few casual moments with one of my favorite writers.

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing?  Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

SM. When life is going smoothly, I write in my home office, surrounded by sleeping pets. (Two ragdoll cats and a small poodle.) But when there’s chaos at home, I go to what I call my “faux

Stark rented space

office.” It’s a real office space that I rent outside my home, but I hate it. It’s very utilitarian, with no personal touches whatsoever—deliberately. Just a boring box. No artwork on the walls, no internet, not great cell phone service. I make it as unpleasant as possible so I’ll get my pages done and can go home. There is a window, but I keep my back to it so I will be less likely to be distracted. (I’m very distractible.)

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

SM. I’m afraid of flying. Not to the point that I won’t do it, but I’m wildly uncomfortable every time. I was once on a plane that depressurized during turbulence, and I was already a little nervous before that. I’m a writer, with a writer’s overactive imagination, so every time I get on a plane, my brain goes through all the possible horror stories. I usually distract myself with a Disney movie.   So if you ever come to one of my book signings, just know that I truly sacrificed for my readers in order to be there.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

SM. If you want to be a professional writer, you have to write. When the writing isn’t going well, everything will sound more appealing than putting words on the page—even cleaning your baseboards with an old toothbrush. No one is going to stand over your shoulder and make sure you write. The motivation has to come from you. If you give yourself an inch, you’ll take a mile. You must require more of yourself. Have a goal for the number of pages or scenes you want to write that day, and don’t let yourself do anything else until that work is done. Even if you’re not happy with what you’ve written, at least you have moved the story forward. You can always come back and revise, but the first step is to get the story down, from opening line to The End.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

Head Shot. Lucy and Susan

SM. They’re intrinsically tied together. What comes to me first is usually a character in a specific situation, and then the story builds from there.

Q. Do you have a new book coming out soon? If so tell us about it.

SM. I always have a new book coming out! I usually publish four books a year, sometimes more. I think it ties in to the whole “I’m easily distracted” thing. If I don’t write fast, I get bored, so I need to write multiple books a year to keep myself entertained.

Next up is WHY NOT TONIGHT, part of my Happily Inc series. (A Fool’s Gold spinoff. Happily Inc is a wedding destination founded on a fairy tale.) Ronan Mitchell has been wounded by his parents—emotionally. A couple years ago, he discovered that he is the result of his father’s affair. He is not his brother’s twin at all, but a half brother. And the worst part of it is that his beloved mother lied to his face his entire life. He doesn’t feel he can count on anything, and it has shattered his self-image.

When he meets Natalie, she’s so filled with joy that he assumes incorrectly that nothing bad has ever happened to her. But Natalie has had tragedy in her life, too, and has made the decision not to let sadness bog her down. Ronan will learn a lot from her as they fall in love. Readers can learn more at HappilyInc.com.

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

SM. My life is far too boring for fiction. (Thank goodness!) To be interesting, fiction must be dramatic in a way that I’m glad my life is not. Happily married to the same guy for many years, a lot of peaceful time at home with the occasional dinner out… not really riveting fiction. And if I did use my life for inspiration, readers would get really weary of reading variations on the same stories over and over again.

My stories come purely from my imagination, and always grow from a point of me asking how the characters might feel about what’s happening in the story. Our emotions drive our actions unless we deliberately choose not to let them—and that says something about a character, too. My job is to take readers out of their everyday lives and let them experience the world through someone else’s eyes, at least for a little while.

Did you miss my REVIEW of Mallery’s When We Found Home?

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Want to see more interviews? Click here

 

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    June: Manning Wolfe. July K.M. Ecke. August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. September: Jonathan Rabb  Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)

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Book Review ~~ When We Found Home by Susan Mallery

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5 out of 5 quills ~~ A Review

 

Perfection!  Saying anything more would be superfluous.

If you’re a fan of Susan Mallery, you must read this one!  If you’ve never heard of Susan (fat chance) you must read this story. The writing is (like I said) perfect. The characters are so interesting and believable. And the plot…oh, the plot.  Delicious! 

Readers of my reviews know that I don’t write spoilers…nothing has changed. I’m not a writer of cliff notes. You have to experience this entire journey that Susan takes her readers on.  But I will say this; the way Mallery brings the four main characters together is flawless writing.  

Reminder: In August I will be interviewing Susan Mallery and asking her about her writing processes.

To Purchase When We Found Home 

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   June: Manning Wolfe. July:  K.M. Ecke. August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)

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Interview with filmaker turned author, K. M. Ecke

 K. M. Ecke: Hailing  from  the  original  birthplace  of  the  atomic   bomb,    Los  Alamos,  NM,    K.M.  Ecke  is  an  organic,   free-­range,  preservative-­free,  philosopher-­poet  using   universal  truth  to  battle  cultural  insanity.  Ecke,  which   is  German  for  ‘corner’,  is  the  child  of  a  physicist  and   musician  and    grew  up  at  the  corner  of  creativity  and   logic.

 

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing? Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

KME. My dream work space is a plexiglass shed/dome that allows a ton of natural light. It would be in a massive backyard with a view of the mountains, and I’d have a standing desk or something where I could change positions.

Q. Do you have any special rituals when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

KME. I keep my phone off and my wi-fi turned off. Anything that can district me, will distract me so I need to get out of the digitally addictive world to focus.

Canadian Rockies

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

KME. I’m an Eagle Scout.

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

KME. I’d like to be more consistent about this, but it definitely varies depending on my schedule.
Ideally I like to write between 11-5

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

KME. Think about the fact that any day you wake up could be your last. If, by procrastinating, you died before you were able to get your project out into the world—this would be a true artistic tragedy. It’s better to die after you’ve made the work, because at least you left something behind.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

 KME. I pull from real life, my imagination, and my own study of the world. Sometimes I’ll read a news article and then imagine what it would be like to be the perpetrator or the victim. This helps me widen my own psychological frame of reference.

Q. What first inspired you to write your stories?

KME. I can’t not create.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

KME. Situation.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

KME. Yes, I have the ability to completely tune the world out when I’m creating.

Q. Who or what is your “Muse” at the moment?

KME. New life experiences.

Q. Do you have a new book coming out soon? If so tell us about it.

KME. Yes, I’m working on a selection of essays about environmental philosophy.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

KME. I started writing poetry and lyrics in college, and I’ve been writing down story ideas since then. It’s been about 10 years at this point.

Q. How long after that were you published?

A. 10 years.

Q. What makes a writer great?

KME. The ability to distill the world into a story.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

KME. A ton of $#@!ing work

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

KME. Quite a bit, but I think imagination is more important than personal experience for storytelling.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

EKE. I want to write in all genres, that’s partly my problem.

Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

KME. Be sure your co-collaborators have similar life goals and take time to figure that out.

To Purchase Moral Panic: click here
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!  April: International adventurer, writer, Tal Gur.  June: Manning Wolfe. July K.M. Ecke. August: Susan Mallery. Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)

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One Candle Can Light Another…

   Happy anniversary, ‘A Writer’s Take’ Blog.  Six+ years of trying  (hopefully) to find relevant and interesting topics (motivation, poetry, interviews, reviews, books, how to write a play).  And then  writing about them. I can’t believe I have found this much to write about.  

Once or twice a week without fail!  When I looked back to 2012, my first blog surprised me ….it was about lighting someone else’s candle. 

I recently received this critique/note from a fellow author and fan. 

“Trisha! Thank you for including me on your blog. It is one of the nicest I’ve ever been on. Often, a blog is laid out clunky or the pics don’t go with the interview. This is top notch. I have the Wolfe Pack sharing it on FB and am proud to sent it out to my readers. Great job on a great site.    What a personal piece. I don’t think I’ve every had anyone go to this length to show my writing and my life as a writer like you have. Thank you so much, Trisha!!  Manning Wolfe

We writers can all agree that writing is a lonely job. A comment once in a while keeps me going, helps me to write that next post. Manning reached out and
lit my candle. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~                                Looking Back:  One Candle Can Light Another…My first post May 6, 2012.

‘ A good friend called me the other day; He was reading my book of poetry, Butterflies and Bullets. He’s a very accomplished pianist and songwriter. He went on to say that while reading my work he kept hearing music in his head. And could I give him permission to use my poetry for lyrics. What a compliment! He said he was especially taken with, “Hair-cut…Two Bits”, about a down-and-out cellist, gambler and barber in New Orleans.’

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!  April: International adventurer, writer, Tal Gur.  June: Manning Wolfe. July E.K. Ecke. August: Susan Mallery. Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)

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Sisters Like Us by Susan Mallery ~~ A Review

   5 out of 5 quills     

I have read dozens….correction…..I have read everything that Susan Mallery has written.  I am here to tell you, she’s never written a bad book.  

But, she has outdone herself with Sisters Like Us!  It is delicious!!  My only complaint is that it ended too soon. As my readers well know, I do not include cliff notes of the story line (in my reviews) or spoil the joy of cracking a book open and meeting its characters. 

I am certain, however,  fans will soon rise up in revolt, demanding a sequel.

Did Ashton and Becca survive being separated?
What was Becca’s next year like?
Did Harper’s wonderful business blossom into an empire?
Did the partnership with Dean flourish?
Did Lucas continue as a detective with LAPD?
How did Jazz do at the memory care unit?
Did Stacey ever warm up to her baby daughter?
Did Kit ever run out of patience?
Did Bunny soften toward her own daughters?

Susan Mallery

I would recommend any of Susan’s books…but I highly recommend this one. It is a flawless story and you will fall in love with the characters. It’s one of those “I couldn’t put it down” books. 

Reminder:  Susan will grace my blog, in August, with an interview!

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 MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!  April: International adventurer, writer, Tal Gur.  June: Manning Wolfe.  July:  K.M.Ecke.  August: Susan Mallery. Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)

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Happy Father’s Day…..

Dear Dads and Grandads,

As you sit with your children or grandchildren today, eating Bar-B-Q or enjoying a picnic or having a traditional Sunday dinner with all the fixin’s….

Getty image

Look across the table at the little ones….now picture them torn away from your family/parents and segregated (by gender) and placed in concentration camps.  YOU don’t know where they are, you may not able to find them…ever.  Picture your six year-old daughter or granddaughter in a cage, alone, with 100 other little girls. Hard to imagine, huh?

Put ethnicity, skin color, legality aside for a moment. LOOK at your kids and picture them in concentration camps, locked up, defenseless…..alone. 

How does that feel?  What would your precious children be thinking? Feeling?  What level is their terror?

 

One news report stated that in order to get the children away from their parents, ICE told them the kids were being taken for ‘showers’.  That sent a chill up my back….at the German Camps the human line that was to be exterminated were told that was the line to go to the showers. But instead of water coming out of the nozzles, deadly gas was released.

Getty image

Read your history….this is how it all started in 1938 in Nazi Germany.

‘Once in power, Hitler moved quickly to end German democracy. (Sound familiar??) He convinced his cabinet to invoke emergency clauses of the constitution that permitted the suspension of individual freedoms of press, speech, and assembly. Special security forces — the Gestapo, the Storm Troopers (SA), and the SS — murdered or arrested leaders of opposition political parties (Communists, socialists, and liberals).’
(credit: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/1933-1939-early-stages-of-persecution/)

Who’s next?  Your Jewish children? Your Asian children? Your Muslim children? Your Catholic kids?

My purpose, with this post, is to make the food STICK in YOUR THROAT!

 Is this our America?  A country built on the backs of Irish, Chinese, Japanese, Native Americans, Africans, Germans, Jews….all immigrants. With the exception of the Native Americans, there isn’t a person who lives in this country today who cannot trace their lineage back to ‘the old country’. We are all immigrants! Even our Beloved Leader, Herr Trump.

(I thought to myself: Gee, maybe I should apologize to my followers for digressing so far off my mission…to write about writing. But, no, I can’t. The idea of little precious children being placed in camps with an excellent possibility of never seeing their parents or siblings again STICKS in MY THROAT.)