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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 Catherine Ryan Hyde

TS.  I found Catherine when I stumbled across her stunning novel: Have You Seen Luis Velez?” By now most of my followers know that I am a voracious reader so it’s really something when I tell you,  …Luis Velez is the best book I have ever read.
Catherine Ryan Hyde  is the author of 39 published and forthcoming books. Of all of them, Pay It Forward seems to be the most important to other people. Catherine says it’s not the most important to her. She says she writes two books a year, because she  has always written fast, and now, “I have a publisher who is willing to keep up with me. When not writing, I ride my horse, travel, and take photos of distant galaxies and nebulae (spoiler alert: this is not easy). I’m also learning to play the cello, but not well. Yet.”

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.

CRH. I write in my easy chair in the living room. When my mom was alive, and shared my home with me in her retirement, and my sister and her kids came up to visit regularly, we created a writing studio for me. We had it built over the garage. But my mom passed away in 2012. My sister is also deceased, as is one of her children. The other is a full-grown adult. So now the main house is very quiet. I have a zero-gravity chair, which is better for my back than sitting up in a desk chair at a desktop computer. It has a sort of lap-desk arrangement, and I write on a notebook computer. There’s a seed feeder and a hummingbird feeder hanging right outside the window on my right, and plenty of light. So this is where everything gets done. The studio is now a guest quarters.

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

CRH. Nope. The only thing I need is a good enough sense of the next scene. I’m not putting down people who do. Whatever works. But I think we need to be careful about stating what we “need” to write. I just need an idea and I’m good to go. If I sat down with a cup of tea it would only get cold.

PS: What exactly would a #2 pencil have to do with writing a novel? (Kidding. Half. Well… mostly kidding. No, not kidding so much at all. It’s 2019.)

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

CRH. Hmm. Let’s see. I’m a big Randy Rainbow fan, and I know his mom. She’s one of my readers, which got me all fangirling, and then she was all fangirling because I’m a Randy fan, and we fangirled our way into a friendship.
I ride classical English dressage with my horse, because I guess nothing is ever too challenging for me. I am a major glutton for punishment.
I spent a week in an ashram in Rishikesh, India, at the invitation of a very well-known and venerated swami who was (he is since deceased) a big fan of the book and foundation (Pay It Forward). 
About three years ago I celebrated my 61st birthday by flying to Nepal, taking a small STOL plane to “the world’s most dangerous airport” (Lukla) and then trekking several thousand feet uphill for a stay at the Hotel Everest View. As previously stated, I like a good challenge.
Anybody who follows me on Facebook knows I’m learning astrophotography (speaking of being a glutton for punishment) but I’m sure there are also many people who don’t know.

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

CRH. Yes and no. If I have something ready to go, I’ll sit down in the morning. I get up in the morning, do some Yoga and deep stretches, a little bit of meditation, then one cup of coffee and I’m off. But there are mornings when I don’t write. It comes and goes in fits and starts.

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

CRH. If you haven’t started the project, make a digital file for it. Put the title and author in the header. Number the pages. Type “Chapter One.” Then challenge yourself to write a first sentence. Nothing beats an inability to start like starting.

If I have something in process, but can’t seem to get the next chapter or scene going, I’ll get into the file to just add one sentence or paragraph. In almost every

case I end up with several new pages before I close the file again. If that doesn’t do it, it might be time to look at what you’re writing. Have you lost interest in it? This may surprise you, but my advice might be to dump it. You may have lost interest in it for a reason. Don’t throw it away. Never throw anything away. Just give yourself permission to work on something new. If it’s not inspiring you to write it, it may have trouble inspiring total strangers to read it. Try to find a project that’s exciting, and that calls you back to work.

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

CRH. When I have finished a novel and turned it over to my agent, and I know I need a new idea. I open up for a new idea, and I meet a character. I generally just see a glimpse of them, having some sort of life experience. Then I spend a few weeks in my head, with nothing down on paper yet, coaxing them to tell me more.

Q. Q. Where did the concept for ‘Have You Seen Luis Velez?‘ come from?

CRH. Oh, how I wish I knew. I have no idea where any of this comes from. Sheer imagination, and anyone who understands it has a better brain than mine.

Interviewer:   I so understand. Most of my stories I can identify where they have their Origins. My mother and her equally outrageous sisters are the basis for that fiction. But I also write rather bloodthirsty True Crime Mysteries and I have no idea where they came from. I just hang on for the ride.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

Continued…July 26th: Part Two

Did you miss 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
 
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Have You Seen Luis Velez? ~~ Book Review

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6 out of 5 quills  ~~ A Review 

PERFECTION!! A masterpiece of a story. Every word impeccably placed.

I don’t write spoilers, (as my fans already know) so I will write about the universal message of this story. It begins with the improbable friendship between Raymond Jaffe and Mildred Gutermann, two of the most unlikely people to ever meet and develop a bond. But it’s about more than that. This is a story about ‘us’ and ‘them’. About all of ‘us‘ and the kindness that runs deep in every one of us. The instinctual compassion for one another that transcends the differences, the tribalism, the fear, the suspicion. 

“Oh,” you might say to yourself, “who needs another feel good book?” This book is not another feel good book. The story represents us and the unique characteristic in the human species. Empathy. An emotion that bubbles up easily or sometimes unwillingly in spite of ourselves.  The message is so subtly and cleverly woven into such a terrific story-line that you don’t even realize there’s a message until the last few pages.

If I hadn’t read this book and then I discovered how good it was but wouldn’t have an opportunity to read it, I would be profoundly bereft at the loss. Exaggeration? No. It’s that good. You can’t go through life and not read this book.

 

I hope to announce soon that I will be interviewing this special writer…so stay tuned.

Release date: May 20, 2019  To Purchase click here
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning, April: Poet, Joe Albanese and May: Boo Walker 
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Book Review~~The Orchid Sister by Anne D. LeClaire

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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

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning, April: Poet, Joe Albanese and May: Boo Walker 
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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. 

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning, April: Poet, Joe Albanese and May: Boo Walker 
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Book Review ~~ Marry in Scandal by Anne Gracie

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

 

 

Delicious from the first page to the last. Anne Gracie is one of my favorite authors and it’s always a pleasure to read and review her latest offering. Marry in Scandal was no exception. It’s always a hit for me when Gracie adds old people or young kids as characters in her stories. Lord Galbraith, grandfather to the hero,  is painted with subtlety and quiet humor. Edward has dark secrets from the war, that block him from enjoying his family. Lily has secrets of her own that she must divulge if she is to find and keep love.

The writing is superb as always. The ‘Marry in...’ is an entertaining series and should not be missed. 

Did you miss my Interview with Anne Gracie?

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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Writing Non-Fiction, by Guest Blogger Kai Nicole

TS. I would like to welcome this wonderful writer with a lot to say about what most single people are thinking about. Enjoy!

When I think about the experience of writing a nonfiction book I have to look to my other experiences to try and figure out how to describe it. Honestly, since I am currently writing a script, which is technically fiction, I find that writing a nonfiction book is very similar. I think the major difference between writing fiction vs. nonfiction is the purpose for which they are written. Fiction is written for the purpose of entertainment whereas nonfiction is written for the transfer of information.

While I was writing my book, Date Like A Woman, my purpose was to share the knowledge I had around dating and relationships that I noticed many women didn’t have. My purpose was to give others an opportunity to “pick my brain” about dating without actually knowing me personally. Through my book I become a close friend that my readers become connected to. My book becomes a window to my thoughts and insight, not for the purpose of entertainment or escape as many fiction books are but as a resource and place of comfort to help my readers along the way.

I think this is the motivation behind nonfiction writers. We write to share information. And, if you are also entertained, well, that’s a bonus. However, whether writing fiction or nonfiction, you are drawing from your personal experiences. For me, I was not only drawing from my experiences but also from what I had learned from reading and research. The biggest difference between fiction and nonfiction books is that nonfiction books have to have evidence of being truthful and plausible. There has to be an effort to support the main premise of the book as true. Fiction doesn’t have this restriction. Nonfiction writers must be able to tout their “knowledge” as true, which is not an easy task.

Authors of both nonfiction and fiction must draw on personal experiences to create a story, nonfiction being a truthful story, fiction being a possibly true story. But, only nonfiction authors must back their stories up with evidence of truthfulness.

I am sure other authors, whether of fiction or nonfiction, can attest that when you are writing, you rarely just make up a false scenario. While the fiction writer may have the liberty to embellish more than the nonfiction writer, there is usually truth to every story. I am having this very experience now as I write my script. Many of the scenes that I am creating in my script are drawn from very real experiences in my life. While the story is fiction, much of what I am writing is true.

Now when it comes down to it, I don’t see writing fiction or nonfiction as easier than the other. Both require major effort on the part of the author. Good writing is a long and arduous process. As best said by George Orwell, “Writing a book is a long, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”

And let’s just say, most authors, myself included, have a demon they will never get rid of.

Kai Nicole, Author

Date Like A Woman

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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Book Review ~~ A Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen

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5 out of 5 quills   ~~  A Review

Everything you want when you sit down and open the cover of a new book. Friendship, hardship, love, heartbreak, history and finally…hope.  Rhys Bowen’s writing never disappoints whether I am reading her Royal Spyness series or her Molly Murphy series or her stand alone fiction (all excellent). 

Just a hint of the story as I do not write spoilers. Emily Bryce  is a debutante who never had a ‘come out’ as World War I rages in Europe. She is stuck in time, in place, with nothing worthwhile to do except follow her society-ladder-climbing mother around.  The opportunity to join the Women’s Land Army  and become a ‘land girl’ frees her from her stifling existence and her mother.  And this is where her adventures begin. 

I was a little put off by the title of this book as I read along. There isn’t one victory garden (in the traditional sense of the term) in the entire book.  But then I realized Bowen’s ‘victory garden’ were all the gardens in the story combined making it ultimately The Victory Garden. Sneaky Devil!   I highly recommend this book. 

Available: February 12th
Did you miss my Interview with this author?
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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Interview with Author, Molly Gloss (part 2)

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

MG. Yes, absolutely. The best part of writing is “getting lost” in the story you’re telling. My own words can (pathetically) make me cry, or make my heart race from the stress I’ve put my character under. But then I do have to pull away and look at it objectively, cooly, so I can revise, revise, revise.

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

MG. I have three previous novels returning to print, soon—Outside the Gates (Jan), Wild Life (Feb), and The Dazzle of Day (Mar) from Saga Press/Simon & Schuster. And in July from the same press, my first collection of short stories, titled UNFORESEEN. Sixteen stories, including three written just for this collection.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

MG. I had written bits and pieces of things while my son was little, but had never finished anything. Then, when he started kindergarten and I had big unclaimed blocks of time, I buckled down and wrote a whole novel. It wasn’t very good, but I learned a lot by writing it…and I also learned that I wanted to keep on writing. That was 1980. My husband and I had earlier agreed that I’d return to the workforce after our son was in first grade, but now we agreed that I should give “this writing thing” a serious try. And I never looked back.

Q. How long after that were you published?

MG. My first short story was published in 1981, and several more in the following years. My first novel—Outside the Gates, a fantasy marketed as young-adult—in 1986.

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

A. Never! People will always want to hold a book in their hands, turn the pages, feel the paper, leaf back to reread favorite passages, leap ahead to read the last paragraph! The e-book craze has already peaked, and paper book sales are holding steady. Don’t worry, books will always be with us. But any way you choose to read—e-book, paper book, or audio book—is fine by me. I listen to a lot of audio books, myself, because I have a daily 30-40 minute commute each way to my horses. Is an audio-book “reading”? Yes, of course it is!

Q. What makes a writer great?

MG.  Huh. I may not have an answer for that question. What does “great” mean? Best-selling? Admitted to the “canon” by literary gate-keepers? In print more than 100 years? (Think how few writers are still being read, who were popular in 1918?) There are books and writers I have not loved, though everyone is calling them great, and I have loved books that disappeared quickly without anyone else seeming to notice, and loved writers who fell out of print and were forgotten. (This has happened especially to women writers.) So I think “greatness” would be defined differently by every reader and every generation. As perhaps it should be.

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

MG. Slow, difficult, daily grind. Revision, worry, uncertainty, more revision, groping and mucking through the middle, then skating to the end in a joyous rush, or inching up to it in an agony of doubt, feeling fragile as you hand it off to a couple of trusted readers, and later, holding a hardbound copy in your hand, a mix of elation and disbelief. Oh, and then all the new worries, will anyone read it? will anyone like it? will it sell, will it be reviewed, will it stay in print? and will I ever write again? Ah, the bittersweet writing life.

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

MG. Long road trips back to Texas when I was a young teen, reading cowboy novels in the back seat of the car, absolutely imprinted on me and is the reason I’ve so often written about the history, mythology and culture of the ranching west.

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

MG. I write poetry, does that count? And I’ve written one fanfiction for the television series Person of Interest. (I have ideas for more.) My novels and stories range from historical/western fiction to science fiction/fantasy, though to my mind these are all on the same spectrum. (That’s for another essay.) I love a good, well-written detective novel, so maybe someday I’ll try one?

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

MG. Life is so short. Tell your friends and family you love them, every time you see them. And get over your reluctance to hug, even if you grew up in a family of non-huggers.

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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Book Review ~ The Best of Us by Robyn Carr

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5 out of 5 quills   ~~  A Review

 

Robyn Carr writes with a casual flaire that makes the reader feel like they’re sitting in a comfy chair, by a crackling fire, wearing warm socks.

I am a huge fan of the Sullivan’s Crossing series and this latest contribution is a winner. At least three love stories are woven together like a fine tapestry in The Best of Us. Catching up to what’s been happening to the recurring characters in her stories is like running into some good friends  you haven’t seen in a while. While a new character drives the whole story when she meets and falls for Rob Shandon, the pub owner.

And the writing is without a misstep. A perfect blend of encounters, conflicts, reunions and  happy endings. Bubbling along like a happy creek, you hardly know you’ve finished the book and are left wanting the next in the series….right now!

Released January 8th so get your copy now!

Did you miss my Interview with Robyn? Click here
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss. February:  Patrick Canning and March: Poet, Joe Albanese
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