Tag-Archive for » friendship «

We’ve Lost One of the Great Writers

Dorothea Benton Frank

TS.  By now fans around the world have heard about Dorothea Benton Frank’s passing earlier this month. A rare blood cancer swiftly took her life at age 67. When I interviewed Dorothy Benton Frank back in 2015 it was a large feather in my cap as I had been a fan for decades. I found her warm and friendly, much like her stories. As a tribute to this wonderful story teller, I have resurrected that interview so that we might once again enjoy her humor and inspiration. You and your stories will be sorely missed, Dorothea.

The interview

dottie.lowcountry.5

in her office

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.

A. I write in my office in my home in NJ or in my office in my home in SC. My dream work space would be to occupy my little office in SC full time. This cruelty of this past winter’s plummeting temps, deep snow and black ice has cured me of any desire I may have had to remain in NJ. It’s not that I have anything against NJ. I have had many wonderful years here. It’s that I’m trapped indoors for months. But check back with me in a few years when I finally do reside in SC and hurricanes have me screaming for higher ground. Is anyone ever completely happy?

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.)

New Release 2019

A. Water. Solitude. My work space is neat and tidy in chapter one. By the end of a book it looks like someone dropped a bomb on my desk. Usually I dress for work the same way you would if you reported for work in a very casual corporate environment.

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

A. The nuns who taught me in high school told my parents I wasn’t “college material.” Nice, right? In 1970, parents believed teachers, especially clergy, as though their words were spoken Ex Cathedra.

Q. Do you have a set time each day to write or do you write only when you are feeling creative? 

Click here for more

The book that started it all….stories about the low country>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs  September: Alan Foster (sci-fi) and October: Kristina McMorris
 
To receive my posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review~~Allie and Bea

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing

 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?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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
 
To receive my posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review ~ Oysterville Sewing Circle

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing

   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
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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)
 
To receive my posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Author, Susan Wiggs (part 2)

Q. What first inspired you to write?

SW. It wasn’t an inspiration but a suspiration. Seriously, I thought everyone thought in stories and to me, it was as natural as breathing. I know this is true because I had a very patient mom who would write down my stories as I dictated them to her, because I was too young to read or write.

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

SW. This varies from book to book. For The Oysterville Sewing Circle, the characters and situation are so entwined that they appeared concurrently on the page. Caroline, an aspiring designer, is not inherently interesting until we see her confronted with a situation of epic proportions—a shocking tragedy and the need to protect two small children. That sets the story in motion. I’m a sucker for stories about an ordinary person thrust into extraordinary circumstances he or she never expected.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

Susan’s first novel

SW. I love when that happens! When the world of the story and the characters feel as real as life itself. The downside is, there are situations and characters that break my heart, as in The Oysterville Sewing Circle. I have to confess; I experienced a lot of anger when I was researching and writing this book. I hope I did justice to the women who shared their stories with me.

Q. Are you working on something now? If so tell us about it.

SW. I’m desperately trying to finish The Lost and Found Bookshop (Summer 2020), set in a vintage bookshop in historic San Francisco. The main character finds hidden artifacts in the old building that turn out to be clues to her family’s past.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

SW. I wrote my first novel while studying for my master’s degree at Harvard. I wrote it on a typewriter and it was probably awful but the experience was completely exhilarating, and I never looked back.

Q. How long after that were you published?

SW. A few years. I sold my first book in 1986 and it was published in 1987. My very first editor was Wendy McCurdy and we’re still friends to this day.

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

SW. No.

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

SW. It’s like holding up a distorted mirror. A character might reflect an old memory of mine (Caroline’s first love in The Oysterville Sewing Circle or the first time I learned to surf…) More importantly, my world view and heart are reflected in my writing. I believe in the fundamental kindness of humanity, the power of following your passion, and the absolute necessity of opening our hearts to one another.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

SW. Reading. And more writing. I also enjoy hiking, biking, and skiing. Spending time with my mom and granddaughter. They’re both named Clara, and my daughter Elizabeth.

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

SW. Sure! I want to learn the craft of screenwriting, for sure. I keep wanting to write a mystery or thriller, but I’m too squeamish.

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

SW. Probably one of the biggest life lessons came from The Oysterville Sewing Circle! Believe women. Believe your gut. If something doesn’t “feel” right, it’s not right. And if something’s not right, speak up. For some women, this takes enormous courage—but the rewards are boundless.

Did you miss Part I? Click here 

 My Review of The Oysterville Sewing Circle

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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)
 
To receive my posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

 

 

 

Interview with author, Catherine Ryan Hyde (part 2)

Q. What first inspired you to write?

Astrophotography by CRH

CRH. I can’t define myself as a writer without mentioning Lenny Horowitz, my high school English teacher. I never called him Mr. Horowitz. He let us call him Lenny. Lenny sent my world in a completely different direction (and if you’d seen the direction I was going at the time, you’d understand that he was a lifesaver): he taught me to love reading again, and he told me I could write.

When I was little, nobody had to teach me to love reading. Books were water; I was a duck. I pitched into Dr. Seuss, Winnie the Pooh, the Black Stallion series. I was unstoppable. Then came school, in which my irresistible force met an immovable object. I hated the books I was given to read. They didn’t speak to me. They were almost as bad as–I hate to even utter the word–homework.

I began to avoid reading if possible. I honed the talent of writing book reports on books I hadn’t read. To this day, I have a chip on my shoulder about the classics. I’ve tried twice to read Moby Dick. I give up. I’m not ashamed, either. I like modern, fast-moving fiction. I’ve taken my last run at the great white whale. Ever. It’s over.

Back to Lenny. He gave us different books. Books written in the same century he assigned them. Books with down-and-out characters, people outside the mainstream. I understood these people. I was outside the mainstream. I was overweight and had braces on my teeth. My peer group thought I was from outer space. I liked reading about characters on the margins. We had something in common.

Miracle of miracles, I woke up. One day Lenny gave out a creative writing assignment: an essay, on any subject. I still remember how he walked up to the blackboard and wrote, in big block letters: I AIN’T TAKING IT AFTER FRIDAY. Not exactly your run-of-the-mill English teacher, right? I was so impressed by his willingness to meet us where we lived that I decided to impress him back. I wrote an essay intended to be funny. Always risky. It was a takeoff on the “my dog ate my homework” excuse note, a long, rambling, slapstick story explaining why I was not able to hand in my essay on time.

Sight unseen, Lenny read it out loud in front of the class. They laughed. Everybody, including Lenny. They laughed a lot. For a long time. It was my first whiff of the rare smell of success. Lenny told the class my essay was clever. Later I found out he was still talking about it in the staff lounge that day. He told all my other teachers I could write.

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

CRH. It’s a tie. What comes is a character in a situation. For example, Jody in WORTHY, watching as someone puts a dog out of a car and drives away. Or Pete in SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW, finding the injured wolf hybrid beside the highway. Or Roseanna in HEAVEN ADJACENT, getting into her car and driving away from the city to some remote location and never going home. Or Ruth in ASK HIM WHY, arriving home from school to find that her brother has returned prematurely from the Iraq war in less-than-honorable circumstances. It’s not enough (for me) to find a character. I have to know what is making their life so interesting/challenging in that moment.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

CRH.   Not really. I’ve been doing this for quite a while. I’m on my 39th book, and that doesn’t count anything that ended up in a drawer. If I get lost, I might get lost. End up nowhere, or somewhere I did not intend to be. Now I’m more like a person following a roadmap. Not calculated, exactly. But fairly organized.

Q. Are you working on something now? If so tell us about it.

CRH. Always. I’m on a two-book-a-year contract. There is never a time when I am not working on something new. And here’s what people don’t tend to see, unless I tell them. You see the book that just came out, and then you want to know if I’ve started another. I’ve started three others. And finished two of them. The one I wrote after Have You Seen LUIS VELEZ, I just finished reviewing the copyedited manuscript. The one after that, I’ve finished with the developmental editing, and we’re going over cover design. The one I have in progress is almost done. But I don’t want to talk about that one, because I haven’t even finished writing it yet. So I’ll tell you a tiny bit about the other two.

STAY is a novel set in the Vietnam War era (but here at home, not in Vietnam). Its hero is a teen boy whose brother is overseas, and who is trying to hold his family and friends together at home. Of course the plot is more complex, but this is just a quick glimpse. Its theme is more or less suicide-related, but there is no suicide in it. It’s about the opposite of suicide. It’s about staying.

PAs to the author, Ella & Jordan

BRAVE GIRL, QUIET GIRL is about a woman who briefly loses her infant daughter in a carjacking, and her eventual relationship with the homeless girl who finds her.

Did you miss Part I?

Conclusion to this wonderful interview is August 2nd.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

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
 
To receive my posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review…’Before and Again’ by Barbara Delinsky

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing

5 out of 5 quills           

A  Review

 

Are second chances very common? Can divorced people reconnect and put all the bitterness and heartbreak behind them? Mackenzie Cooper ran far, far away from unimaginable heartbreak and pain. She rebuilt her life and was relatively happy, until her ex-husband showed up. Not in town just for a visit but  purchased an Inn and a house.

Once again, Barbara Delinsky has crafted a beautiful story about real people and real places. The reader is immediately drawn in and becomes a resident of Devon, Vermont, until the last page. What a delightful trip.

This reviewer has been reading Barbara Delinsky for well over 20 years. She never disappoints. Rich, well drawn characters that the reader readily relates to and cares about. 

I highly recommend Before and Again to my followers. 

Did you miss my Interview with Barbara Delinsky?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde, August: Susan Wiggs and September: Alan Dean Foster 
 
To receive my posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

New 10 Minute Play, ‘Parkland Requiem’

Requiem: an act or token of remembrance…

Mass shootings are a part of our current culture. Not until now did I have something to say (write) about the mass murders that plague our nation. One day after the horrendous mass shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal building did I begin writing. 

Synopsis:

This ten minute play for teens (in the classroom) is to honor and memorialize the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. It focuses on a small class of students hidden away in safety by their English teacher and what happens while they wait for the shooting to stop. But the question begs will they ever be safe again?

The murdered victims:

My character, Mr. Hale is fashioned after Scott Beigel, 35, a geography teacher and the school’s cross-country coach. He was killed after he unlocked a door to allow students in to hide from the shooter,

Alyssa Alhadeff
Aaron Feis
Martin Duque Anguiano
Nicholas Dworet
Jamie Guttenberg
Chris Hixon
Luke Hoyer
Cara Loughran
Gina Montalto
Joaquin Oliver
Alaina Petty
Meadow Pollack
Helena Ramsay
Carmen Schentrup
Peter Wang

Want to see more one act plays? Click here 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   April: Poet, Joe Albanese, May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde
 
To receive my posts sign up for my 

 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

 

 

Book Review~~The Orchid Sister by Anne D. LeClaire

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing

5 out of 5 quills        A Review

How do I write a review, for this book, without giving away the twists and turns of the story and end up writing a spoiler? I can’t.  This beautifully written book has plenty of twists and turns. It’s a love story sort of, a story of intrigue sort of, a story of grief, revival and survival in huge doses. The threads of this tale are so tightly woven that to write about the plot is a spoiler x ten.  I just can’t do it. 

The writing is superb.The characters are well drawn and I cared about every one of them. If I had one tiny criticism (and it disappeared within the first six pages) it was that it had too much narrative for my taste. But after page six, I understood how the author constructs her story.   So I was immediately drawn into the story so much so that long descriptions (rather than the dialogue telling the tale) didn’t bother me.  

I highly recommend this book to my readers. 

Available now.Click here to buy

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning, April: Poet, Joe Albanese and May: Boo Walker 
To receive my posts sign up for my 

 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

Interview with author, Boo Walker

TS. After picking a five-string banjo in Charleston and Nashville and then a few years toying with Wall Street, Boo chased a wine dream across the country to Red Mountain in Washington State with his dog, Tully Mars. They landed in a double-wide trailer on five acres of vines, where Boo grew out a handlebar mustache, bought a horse, and took a job working for the Hedges family, who taught him the art of farming and the old world philosophies of wine. Recently leaving their gentleman’s farm on Red Mountain, Boo and his family are back on the east coast in St. Pete, Florida. No doubt the Sunshine City will serve as a setting for a novel or three soon. Boo’s bestselling page-turners are instilled with the culture of the places he’s lived, the characters he’s encountered, and a passion for unexpected adventure. 

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.

BW. I write in my dream space, my mancave in a Spanish-style house built in 1925 by an opera singer in St. Pete, Florida. I’m surrounded by guitars and banjos that constantly try to distract me.

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.)

BW. I have a pretty serious coffee ritual to start my morning and writing day. I always have a bag of single-origin, fresh-roasted beans, which I grind that morning. I measure out an exact amount with my scale, and then brew using a Chemex coffee pour-over. Once the caffeine starts to kick in, I’m sit at my desk. I’ve come to rely so much on this routine that my entire day is shot if I don’t have my perfect cup.
Depending on my mood, I most always write to music without words, be it jazz, classical, or electronic.
I also have a couple less productive rituals that are actually more like procrastinating actions. I’ve somehow come to think I need to restart my computer before ever writing session. It’s totally stalling. And then I’ll grab my guitar for a little warm-up session. Another stalling tactic. Once I’m ready to dive in, though, I use an app called Be Focused, which sets 25-minute intervals where I do writing sprints. I don’t allow myself to surf the net or answer calls or texts. The sprints are writing only. No distractions.

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

BW. R.D. Blackmore lingers somewhere high up in my family tree on my mother’s side. He wrote a book called Lorna Doone. He was a big inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson, among others.

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

BW. If I haven’t written by noon, I’m in trouble. I’m such a morning person, so only under deadline and at gunpoint can I write much in the later afternoon or at night.

Part II of this fascinating interview posts May 24th.    Click here to read my REVIEW of Red Mountain.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning, April: Poet, Joe Albanese and May: Boo Walker,  June: Anne D. LeClaire,  July: Catherine Ryan Hyde 
To receive my posts sign up for my 

 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

 

Book Review ~~ Red Mountain by Boo Walker

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

Once in awhile I troll through bookstores online looking for an interesting author that I have never heard of. I kiss a lot of frogs but it’s worth it when I find an author like Boo Walker.

Red Mountain is a special place. It has the perfect soil and weather for growing wine grapes.  And growing people too, who gravitate to the mountain, often to hide or to find themselves. Besides the interesting characters that Boo Walker has drawn, I felt as if the wine was a character unto itself. The growing, the nurturing, the fermenting, the aging and sampling the final product. Resembling what life is all about. 

Boo Walker weaves a wonderful story with rich, flawed characters that you can love or love to hate. I can’t wait to read the sequel, Red Mountain Rising. And don’t miss my interview with Boo later this month. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning, April: Poet, Joe Albanese and May: Boo Walker 
To receive my posts sign up for my 

 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!