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Review~~Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing4 out of 5 quills     Book Review

Sold on a Monday is riveting. Based on true events during the great depression; the selling of children was all too common. A last resort by mothers who could no longer feed their own children. The writing is very good and the book is a page turner for sure. 

The story begins when the oh-so-flawed hero and cub reporter discovers a sign outside a clapboard shack; KIDS FOR SALE. (Similar to this one below, caught and reported in an actual newspaper of the time.)  His intentions are true when he snaps a photo and returns to his office in the hopes that his story and photo will be published. When the photo is accidently destroyed he stages a new photo with the same sign but different children. (Not for sale.) Leading to his big break but with devastating consequences.

This story touched a very personal chord with this reviewer. I learned, very late in life, that before I was born my own mother had ‘farmed out’ my older sister and brother. (Not once but several times.) Sending them to strangers to work as indentured workers.   I had begun to write a loving and warm memoir (Wild Violets). The story plot was based upon my mother in her younger, entrepreneurial years when she was a bar owner in San Francisco (1920’s). Shortly after, I learned about the ‘farming out’ of my brother and sister.  If I was going to be true to myself as a writer, I had to write about this side of my own mother. Her motives were much more selfish. She was doing well and could feed her kids. But they were frequently in the way of her life style. Working hard, playing hard and many men.

After reading Sold on a Monday I have wondered if my mother’s circumstances had been slightly different would she have sold my siblings outright. A terrible thought.

I know my readers will enjoy this story and I highly recommend it. 

Did you catch my interview with Kristina McMorris?

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs  September: Alan Foster (sci-fi) and October: Kristina McMorris
 
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Interview with Author, Kristina McMorris

TS. Kristina was inspired to write by the newspaper photo shown below. I was inspired by the beautiful cover of Sold on a Monday to buy the book and subsequently interview her. Kristina McMorris is an acclaimed author of two novellas and five historical novels, including Sold on a Monday, which is now celebrating five months on the New York Times and USA Today bestsellers lists. Initially inspired by her grandparents’ WWII courtship letters, her works of fiction have garnered more than twenty national literary awards. Prior to her writing career, she owned a wedding- and event-planning company until she had far surpassed her limit of YMCA- and chicken dances.  She lives in Oregon with her husband and their two sons, ages thirteen and fifteen going on forty.

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.

KM. Something that’s probably unique about my writing space is that, although it’s always located somewhere in my house, the specific spot changes with every book I write. By the time I spend a year or more working on a manuscript, I’m so tired of sitting in the same place day after day (my rocking chair, office desk, kitchen table, living room couch, etc) that I have to switch it up for the next book. I often joke that after a few more books, we’ll have to move to a new house because I’ll have run out of fresh spots for writing!

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

KM. As a recovering event planner, I still absolutely have to have a clean work space. A large tumbler of decaf tea is a must (admittedly with an embarrassing amount of vanilla creamer) and fuzzy socks are the norm.

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

KM. I was fortunate enough to spend an entire college year living in Florence, Italy, an incredible experience that taught me an enormous amount about pasta and wine and, best of all, tiramisu. Ha. Seriously, though, I learned so many important life lessons there, and now even enjoy weaving Italian characters into my stories.

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

KM. That’s an easy one to answer: school hours. The clock starts when the kids get on the bus and stops when they come charging back through the door full of stories from their day!

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

KM. Unplug from the Internet. (It’s hard, I know!) Take a walk, think about where the story is going, write the next scene by hand if needed (in other words, change things up), and sit down in the chair and just write.

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

KM. A nugget of a premise always comes to me first, then I start to imagine who landed in that situation. I figure out how they got there by backtracking and digging deeper into their lives until I finally understand who the characters are at their core.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

KM. About a dozen years ago, I was creating a homemade cookbook featuring my grandmother’s recipes, meant as a Christmas gift for the grandkids. When I interviewed her for the biographical section, she shared that she and my late grandfather had dated only twice during WWII, fell in love through an ongoing letter exchange, and were married for fifty years until he passed away. Then she said, “Would you like to see the letters?” After spending an afternoon poring over those beautiful wrinkled pages, I envisioned a Cyrano de Bergerac-type story set during WWII, which ultimately became my debut novel, Letters from Home—and the course of my career at that point completely changed.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

Review of Sold on a Monday

Don’t miss Part II of this Interview next week.
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs  September: Alan Foster (sci-fi) and October: Kristina McMorris
 
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Dust Off that Play and do Some Rewrites…

Don’t be shy about looking at something you wrote a few years ago and rewriting and revising it. Most reputable publishing platforms will allow you to change the interior files and upload a revised, improved edition. I reviewed this children’s play of mine and in doing so found some editing and new writing. 

It’s October, Halloween is right around the corner. So I hauled out a play script that I wrote in 2013. Wow!  Did it need work. So I edited, did some extensive rewrites, gave it a new, more contemporary cover and then re-published. 

Synopsis: A young family rents a deserted lighthouse so that their critically ill daughter can enjoy the sea breezes and beautiful countryside. Little do they know that, for centuries, the lighthouse has been the home and is in the ‘possession’ of four outrageous spirits.  
 
Ben, an eight year old boy, has no trouble whatsoever making friends with two of the spirits, Baubles and Chaos.  The story climaxes as Claire, ill with cancer, slowly fades toward death. Baubles and Chaos have no intention of letting that happen! 

Available now!

 
While this play has it’s serious moments, for the most part, it is a comedy and makes for great fun as the spirits romp around the stage. The adults can neither see nor hear Chaos and Baubles as they converse and play with the children and terrorize a ‘Man of the Cloth’! All in innocent fun, of course!  4f. 4m. 2 children

If you’re an aspiring playwright you might want to take a look at >>>>>>>>>>>>>

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs  September: Alan Foster (sci-fi) and October: Kristina McMorris
 
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Available now!

Review~~Coming Home for Christmas by RaeAnne Thayne

4  out of  5 quills     A  Review

Coming Home for Christmas is the long awaited sequel in the Haven Point series. Fans really invested and empathized with Luke, a single Dad, in previous books set in Idaho. A good man and husband, he and his two adorable kids are suddenly abandoned by his wife with no explanation. It takes seven years to find Elizabeth and bring her home to clear Luke of charges of murdering his wife. 

And that’s just for starters!  As a reviewer, I don’t write spoilers so you will not see a synopsis of the story. I have been a fan of Thayne’s writing for many years so this was a read for pleasure as well as reviewing it. The author always writes cleanly and keeps her readers enthralled in the story she is weaving. 

 I highly recommend it to my readers. 

Available September 24th at your favorite book store.

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs  September: Alan Foster (sci-fi) and October: Kristina McMorris
 
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Book Review~~Allie and Bea

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 5 out of five quills      A Review

Allie and Bea by Catherine Ryan Hyde is breathtakingly beautiful. Once again the author takes two unlikely characters and puts them together in such a way that the reader doesn’t question how or why it happened. It becomes believable and a delightful read. 

I could especially relate to Bea. Senior citizens are mostly only a social security check away from destitution. One little thing can tip the scales. And since I avoid writing spoilers, at all costs, that’s all I’m going to say. 

The story is crafted by this author, word by word. It had everything for this reviewer. Struggle, pathos, heartbreak, friendship, love, and a surprise ending.
My favorite book in the world is Hyde’s Have You Seen Luis Velez? but Allie and Bea runs a very close second. I loved this story!
A must read!

Did you see my Interview with CRH?
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs  September: Alan Foster (sci-fi) and October: Kristina McMorris
 
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Book Review ~ Oysterville Sewing Circle

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   5 out of 5 quills ~~ A Book Review 

Domestic violence is when a husband or boyfriend physically abuses a mate and only in the privacy of their home. Right? Wrong. Who would have thought that the bigger than life, extraordinarily beautiful models strutting down the runway, would be hiding a dirty little secret? And had the bruises to show for it? You don’t imagine their life filled with anything but exotic locations, Krystal Champaign, fancy yachts and handsome escorts.

In Susan Wiggs’ newest novel, The Oysterville Sewing Circle, she explores the fashion industry and the mental and physical abuse that regularly occurs there. But, oddly, this is not a dark story. It’s filled with love and hope and two of the most adorable children you could ever hope for. 

The characters are well drawn. The reader is rooting for Caroline and the two orphans from page one. Sewn into the fabric of the tale is a wonderful love story. And redemption for the survivors of domestic abuse. 

As my readers know, I don’t write spoilers in my reviews.  For me it’s all about the story and the writing. Susan Wiggs never disappoints. Her latest offering is filled with surprises, twists and turns. I highly recommend this book. 

Did you catch my Interview with Susan?

For more information about domestic violence:
#MeToo
www.thehotline.org
1-800-799-SAFE
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs and September: Alan Foster (Sci-fi)
 
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Interview with Best Selling author, Susan Wiggs

TS. Susan Wiggs’s life is all about family, friends…and fiction. She lives at the water’s edge on an island in Puget Sound, and in good weather, she commutes to her writers’ group in a 21-foot motorboat. She’s been featured in the national media, including NPR, and has given programs for the US Embassies in Buenos Aires and Montevideo. She is a popular speaker locally, nationally, internationally, and on the high seas.

The author is a middle child, a library enthusiast, a former teacher, a Harvard graduate, an avid hiker, an amateur photographer, a good skier and terrible golfer, yet her favorite form of exercise is curling up with a good book. She lives on an island in Puget Sound, where she divides her time between sleeping and waking.

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

SW. I write all over the place and always have. On the patio, on the sofa, on the ferry, on planes and boats…pretty much everywhere. I write when I travel. A good portion of The Oysterville Sewing Circle was written during storm season in Ilwaco, WA, close to the historic town of Oysterville. I learned early on that I can write anywhere. For me, the place is not as important as a good span of time to focus.

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

SW. Oh, where do I begin? Clairefontaine grid-ruled notebook—check. Sheaffer fine point fountain pen with peacock blue ink—check. Mariage Freres French blue Earl Grey tea—check. Lenny (spirit animal)—check. After my first handwritten draft, I read the copy into WordPerfect. then edit on screen. And then print off that draft and edit by hand. It’s a messy process, but I’ve been at it for 30+ years and it seems to be working. The actual writing never gets easier, though. Every book is its own unique challenge.

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

SW. I’m left-handed, a middle child, I speak French, I have several art pieces by Dr. Seuss, and I’m working on an unauthorized screenplay about his life.

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

SW. I try to do the “heavy lifting” (composition, revision) first thing in the morning before the internet wakes up to distract me.
Emerging writers often lament that they don’t have time to write. I’m not having it. You make time for what’s important to you. There was a time when I was a full-time teacher with a small child, a house, dogs, etc. And yet I still wrote 2 books per year. My writing session began at 9pm after a full day. I’m grateful that I don’t need to do that these days, but the point is, it can be done. It’s all in the motivation.

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

SW. Do as I say, not as I do! Minimize distractions and set realistic goals for the day. Decide you’ll write a scene, or a minimum number of pages (3 or more is good). Try not to get lost in your own process, “plotting it out” should not take six months.

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

SW. It varies from book to book. In The Oysterville Sewing Circle I discovered Caroline in bed next to me. My husband Jerry is an apparel designer, and I wanted to write about his world. The story took a dark turn, however, as I interviewed women in the industry who dealt with workplace harassment and worse. Their stories fueled one of the most heartfelt novels I’ve written—the explosive issues around domestic violence and the drama and healing that can result when women come together.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

Part 2 of my interview with Susan ~~ August 23rd.
Book Review for The Oysterville Sewing Circle ~ click here

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs and September: Alan Foster (Sci-fi)
 
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NEW Journal…How To Write a Play

My newest Journal created for aspiring and established PLAYWRIGHTS has just been published and can be found in your favorite bookstore. 

245+ lined, blank pages for your writing PLUS Sections with instructions on ‘how to‘. 

Section 1……How to Begin… 
Section 2……How to Write a Play… 
Section 3……Creating Rich Characters…
Section 4……Story Telling 
Section 5…… How to Block… 
Section 6…… Snappy Dialogue… 
Section 7…… Set Design… 
Section 8…… Formatting your Play… 
Section 9…… Terminology..

To Purchase 

Other custom journals for your journaling pleasure: 

 

 

 

 

How to Create a Tantalizing Book Cover 

 

What Other Writers are Saying…

TS. I am currently developing a new journal for creative writers who are or want to be writing plays. If my fans and readers are familiar with my journals, it is traditional for me to embed quotes from other writers, authors, actors, directors, etc., into the blank pages of the journal. These are meant to inspire the owner of the journal with their own story writing.

Louis L’Amour

So I am always looking for new quotes as I hand pick every one when considering them for my journals. Here are what other writers have said about the joys (and heartbreak) of being a writer.

 

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” Louis L’Amour

“Write hard and clear about what hurts.” Ernest Hemingway 

Mary Y-Arr

“What would you write if you weren’t afraid?” Mary Y-Arr

 

“The thing all writers do best is find ways to avoid writing.” Alan Dean Foster

Alan Dean Foster

“You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” Jodi Picoult

“The desire to write grows with writing.” Desiderius Erasmus

“I must write it all out at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living.” Anne Morrow Lindbergh

“As a writer you try to listen to what others aren’t saying…and write about the silence.” N.R. Hart 

MJ Bush

“Step into a scene and let it drip from your fingertips.” MJ Bush 

“We write to taste life twice. In the moment and in retrospect.” Anais Nin

Anais Nin

“I think new writers are too worried that it has all been said before. Sure it has but not by you.” Asha Dornfest 

“An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.” Stephen King

Stephen King

“Be courageous and try to write in a way that scares you a little.” Holley Gerth

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August: My interview with Susan Wiggs and in September: Alan Dean Foster (sci-fi)
 
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Interview with Catherine Ryan Hyde (conclusion)

One of my favorite writers; the interview reveals the thinking and processes of a gifted author. Did you miss part 1?

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

CRH. January of 1991. I was working as a baker and pastry chef in a local restaurant. I live in a tourist town, and the restaurant closed its doors in January. That’s not the time to find a new job in a tourist town. So I got stuck home on unemployment. I woke up one day and realized I should write that novel I always swore I would write if I ever had the time. Because, like it or not, I had the time.

Q. How long after that were you published?

CRH. Depends on what you mean by published. I started getting stories published in literary and small circulation magazines in 1994. But that’s probably not what you mean. You probably mean when did I get my first novel published. 1997. Felt like a slow slog, but it’s not the saddest story ever told in the publishing business.

photo by Catherine R.Hyde

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

CRH. No. We will not. And, strange though it may sound at first, I say this as a horse owner. When I decided I wanted a horse to own and ride, I was not told, “Sorry, they no longer exist. The horseless carriage caused their total demise.” The world is still full of millions of horses. All the horseless carriage could do was bump them out of their spot as the mainstream form of transportation. The law of supply and demand will always assure the survival of anything people want.

I’m older than a lot of readers and writers (seriously, I’m pretty old) and I actually remember when “books on tape” (modern translation: audio) was going to kill the book. The book is still alive, and audio is thriving alongside the book as an alternative reading style. EBooks add another alternative. They take nothing away.

Q. What makes a writer great?

CRH. No idea. If I knew, I would bottle it and sell it. I do know that, for my own reading pleasure, an author has to make me feel something. Shed some light on the human condition without making it feel hopeless.  Good story-telling skills are, of course, a plus.

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

CRH. It looks like a lot of two- or three-hour mornings in front of the computer, doing what I love to do best. You probably wanted a more complex answer, but it feels simple. I sit down and do the work until it’s done.

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

CRH. Hard to say, because I don’t consciously go to my own life experiences to find a story. Looking back at the work, I can see patterns. I felt a bit lost as a child, so my books are full of coming-of-age characters getting found, usually by grownups who are not rightfully in charge of finding them (see previous link to Lenny story). And I do have questions about humans. Why we do what we do and don’t what we don’t. And they tend to come out in the work. But my fiction is far less autobiographical than people tend to guess. I really do make this stuff up.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

CRH. It has a fair amount of horse hair on it.

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

CRH. Not really. I do have one book of photos and an essay collection. And I’m not a huge fan of genre fiction per se. The work tells me what to do more than vice versa. So I just keep writing character-driven stories.

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

CRH. Take what you believe and apply it to yourself. Leave everybody else alone. What they’re doing may look wrong to you, but they are on a path, and it’s really none of your business. You will be happier and so will they. Besides, if people didn’t do strange things, fiction writers like me would be out of a job.

See my review of ‘Have You Seen Luis Velez?’
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  Coming Soon!  My interview with Susan Wiggs
 
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