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Reading Books!

This was my journey with books except for the frustration part.

Somewhere around #7 “Rediscovering books” I began to seriously write. Stage plays to begin with…then children’s books….

then full length novels and poetry. And then more stage plays. But always reading…reading…reading.  Non-Stop! 

Books take you away…to far off lands, to adventures which you’d probably never have, and
to meet other people from all walks of life. 

Keep reading, keep writing……remember,

Writing isn’t a calling….it’s a doing! 

 

 

 

(acknowledgement: www.grantsnider.com)

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Book Review ~ Olivia Holmes Inherited a Vineyard

 4 out of 5 stars ~~ Book Review

In one of my recent searches for new authors to read (and maybe review) I bought this one by Mark Daydy. I wasn’t

 enamored of the title…too long, not very creative and certainly a spoiler alert. Why did the writer give away the plot of the whole story? I thought, ‘a much better title would been  Vineyard in the Moonlight or Grapes to Glass or The Vines. I could go on and on about the wrongness of the title but instead of giving it a pass, I bought the book. 

Next I’m not a fan of a man writing chick lit (fiction for women). They simply don’t have the empathy to write about women for women. I scoffed but ran my credit card anyway. 

I’ve been eating crow with each page that I turned.  This was an excellent story, with well drawn characters.  There was a certain crispness that I don’t find with female authors, much as I luv ’em.  My only critique was that Olivia was a bit ‘wishy-washy’ at times. It would have been a stronger story if she had been more decisive about (for example) leaving her job. She could have done it sooner in my opinion.  But what PANACHE! when she finally did it!  

I’m looking forward to reading the sequel very soon.  

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Review ~~ Sunday at the Sunflower Inn

5 out of 5 stars   ~~   Book Review

First page, first sentence, the reader meets McCoy and is hooked.  A broke-down, wounded, homeless handsome cowboy. Who can resist?  This new book is part of the “Honey Creek” series. 
   
The other characters in this story are equally empathetic and interesting. Jam, Tucson, Pecos, Pop Sadler, to name just a few. My only criticism (if you can call it that) is I would have liked more paper and ink dedicated to McCoy’s story. 

This is a story of small town, USA; Honey Creek.  Infused with colorful and interesting characters that only Jodi Thomas can serve up. 
The writing is supurb…it is Jodi Thomas after all. 

On Sale: April 26, 2022
Did you miss my Interview with Jodi? 

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary, December: Mimi Mathews, February: Jennie Goutet
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How Protagonists Engage Readers….or Not

What’s the secret?  Why does one protagonist immediately engage the reader when another is slow to achieve this or never does?  I recently read two novels, back to back, (it sounds like I read sporadically; not true, I have a book in my hand 24/7). 

Anyway, back to my point…..one book (Growing Season by  Melinda Foster) had a single woman, late 30’s, who’s life falls apart.  Long time relationship ends suddenly, and she is found to be redundant at her job of 14 years with the same company. (Most of us can relate to some or all of this.) She is called away to her home town to help family with the business and a small farm.  She was immediately empathetic due to the excellent writing and character development. 

The other book, House on the Harbor by Elizabeth Bromke was not engaging. The four sisters, Kate, Amelia, Megan, and Clara came across as mealy-mouthed and victims. Yep, all four of them. Maybe if the development of the characters had been stronger. Maybe if the author had the reader spend more time with each sister. And the house on the harbor was a non-entity. The house should have been the fifth character.   At first glance, they have  each inherited 1/4 of the house. At first glance….

But this reader didn’t care about any of these women.  I kept speaking to them: “put your big girl panties on and move forward!”  I did finish the book but felt relieved when I had, not satisfied. 

What’s the secret?  Good writing, finely drawn characters, people the reader can relate to.  
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Book 1 in series

 

 

 

 

Book Review ~~ The Raffle Baby

 5 out of 5 stars ~~~~ Book Review

 

This is one of those rare books where the reviewer wants to give it ten, no, a hundred, no, two thousand stars!  The writing is stunning. Ruth Talbot has a delicate, beautiful usage of words that we mortal writers can only dream of for ourselves. 

And her words craft a wonderful story. Griping, grim, tragic at times, nostalgic and loving. About friendship, perseverance, crushing hardship, with no real happy ending.  Talbot takes us tramping across this great nation of ours during one of the bleakest times in our history. The Great Depression. I, for one, never imagined that children….yes, you heard me correctly….children were cast out into the world to join the thousands of ‘hoboes‘ who jumped on and off trains and used them as their only transportation. Following work and seasonal harvests in order to not starve to death. 

Beautiful writing….a book you’ll want to take your time with. Mulling over a turn of phrase in the prose if you are a ‘English literature’ buff….or view, in your mind’s eye, the stunning visuals Talbot paints for her readers. 

This appears to be Talbot’s debut novel and we can only hope that she is working on her next one.  
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary, December: Mimi Mathews, February: Jennie Goutet
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Interview with Regency Romance Author, Jennie Goutet

Jennie Goutet is an American-born Anglophile who lives with her French husband and their three children in a small town outside of Paris. Her imagination resides in Regency England, where her best-selling proper Regency romances are set. She is also author of the award-winning memoir Stars Upside Down, two contemporary romances, and a smattering of other published works. A Christian, a cook, and an inveterate klutz, Jennie sometimes writes about faith, food, and life—even the clumsy moments—on her blog, aladyinfrance.com. You can learn more about Jennie and her books, and sign up for her newsletter, on her author website: jenniegoutet.com. Oh! Did I mention that she’s funny?

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.

JG. My main writing spots are the desk in my bedroom, my living room couch, or my bed if it’s one of those kinds of days. Work happens amidst the shouts of my boys as they wrestle or is sometimes interrupted by my daughter to tell of her character development. (She’s studying to be an illustrator / storyteller). My husband turned the outside studio into an office for me, but he ended up using it. I find I like to be where the action is, and someone needs to stir the soup for dinner.

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.)

JG. Very often, for new content / first drafts, I record the story then translate it into text and rework it afterwards. In this case, my ritual is to pace back and forth trying to gear up enough courage to speak the story. I’m never in the mood. First drafts are my nemesis. However, later drafts and edits are done with music through my sound-canceling headphones. And if I’m lucky, it’s with a cup of coffee and gluten-free cake at my elbow. (But not too close to my elbow. Cue the panic: have I emailed the latest draft to myself in case I lose everything?)

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

At a retreat

JG. I’ve lived in four continents. In Asia, it was in Taiwan, and I used to speak Mandarin pretty fluently. I now live outside of Paris and have French citizenship through marriage. My husband and I spent a year in East Africa as newlyweds on a humanitarian mission. And the other continent, of course, is North America where I grew up. I’m from Upstate New York. My dad was a symphony musician before retiring, so we went to the symphony a lot, and I think that’s pretty interesting.

Q. What tools do you begin with? Legal pad, spiral notebook, pencils, fountain pen, or do you go right to your keyboard?

JG. As I said, I use a recorder for first drafts. Other than that, I have colored notebooks for each book to note details that are important to the story. But mainly I use my computer. Writing longhand seems like a colossal waste of time to me, although I know it’s an important step for some writers. But I’m a Type-A, ‘get-er-done’ type of person, so I generally just dive right in.

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

JG. My preference is always to write in the morning. That way it’s done and I can feel accomplished and free the rest of the day. But writing competes for the morning slot with quiet times (I like to start my day with reading the Bible and praying), working out, grocery shopping, organizing my paper clip collection … basically anything that distracts me until the deadline is looming too near and I have no choice but to get to work.

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

JG. Um. Given my answer above, I’m not sure I’m the best person to answer that question. But, all right, I’ll give it a stab. Although I know a few authors whose story ideas flow fast and furious so that their fingers can’t keep up, for many authors it’s just work. You show up and you get your word count in, whether or not you feel like it. Eventually something will tug at your heart and you’ll be glad you’re telling that particular story. And you can always make it all shiny later on in the subsequent drafts. You just have to get the first draft out before you can get anywhere.

Q. What does it feel like to be an American writer, living in France, writing in an English, historic romance genre. (Special challenges? Funny stories?)

Join us next week for Part II of this entertaining Interview!
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary, December: Mimi Mathews, February: Jennie Goutet
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To Write or Not to Write….more Dialogue…more Description?

(Some posts deserve another airing. Thought I’d share this again from July, 2013)
Most of the authors that I have interviewed are avid readers like myself.  We seem to all agree that is what makes us better writers.   I was reading Caroline Leavitt’s,  ‘Is This Tomorrow’  and it struck me how very different our writing styles are.  Caroline writes pages of beautiful, meaningful description with a few lines of dialogue.  Much like Edna Ferber did.

My fiction has tons of dialogue (probably as a result of my being a playwright) and just enough description to set the time, location and who my characters are.  I have to repeatedly check myself to make certain that I am giving my readers enough description.

Why am I telling you about this?  I need to be sure that you realize that there is no WRONG way.  If you tend to write in story telling form, a narrative, that’s great!  If, like me, you write a lot of dialogue and let that method tell the reader what your characters are doing, what the weather is like, who just showed up at the house, who she/he is in love with, who died, (well, you get the idea).  That’s okay too.

Aspire to write better every day….but don’t worry about your ‘style’, if it turns out that an author you really respect writes differently than you do.  It’s a DIFFERENT style but that doesn’t mean that your writing style is wrong.  Or that their writing is right.  It’s just about style, and what we feel comfortable writing.

If you are more a descriptive writer be certain that you keep your paragraphs short.  Don’t ramble on and on in one paragraph.  The eye of the reader needs a rest.  

 

 And double, triple check your grammar!   

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Available Now!

Writer’s Sprints/Writer’s Block (part 2)

Writing Sprints (Part 2)

In writing my sample of a writing sprint (for this blogging session) it WORKED!  I had been ‘resting’ from my creative writing; fiction, scripts, etc., but writing every day, my blog, etc. But after writing a couple of ‘sprints’ I seemed to have kicked aside whatever was holding me back and wrote a short, one act play in less than a week.  And returned to an unfinished novel in my true crime series. 

If you want extra accountability, start your writing sprint by posting “Starting a 30-minute writing sprint” on one of your social

A new short play

media sites (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) with the hashtag #writingsprint.
Before you start, double check one last time that you have everything you need to do your writing sprint. Preparation is critical to a successful sprint.
Once you are ready, start your timer. As soon as you start the timer, start writing and don’t stop until the timer stops. Don’t pause to consider word choice. Don’t stop for a sip of water (or wine). That can wait. Don’t think about what to do next (hopefully, you have planned it out earlier, so just implement your plan). It doesn’t matter what you write as much as that you keep your fingers or hands moving and words going down on the page or screen.
You can always edit your writing later. Remember:  “Writing is not a calling; it’s a doing.” (t. sugarek)
Stop only when the timer goes off. Then celebrate your successful sprint (and motivate others) by posting your word count achieved on social media and in any group forums if you are participating in an event.
Finally, record your sprinting session to track your progress.

When to Do a Writing Sprint

There are certain times where writing sprints can be extremely useful.
• When you have writer’s block
• When you only have a limited amount of time to write
• When you want to increase your writing speed
• When you want to reach a specific word count goal by a specific time
• When you want to break out of editing mode

There is no right way or wrong way to do writing sprints. So you can’t write 500 words in fifteen minutes. So what?  Just do your best. Stop over thinking it and just write as fast and furiously as you can. Put words down and see what happens. That blank page isn’t going to fill up by itself. 

Did you miss Part I of this post? 
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary, December: Mimi Mathews
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Boy Underground by Catherine Ryan Hyde **Review

5 stars     ** Book Review **

Catherine Ryan Hyde’s brilliance as a story teller knows no bounds. In Boy Underground she creates wonderful characters that the reader loves
and cheers for by page three. Secondary characters shine with believability. While the reader may hate some of them, Hyde gives the reader some insight to why they are such terrible parents, friends, and classmates. Dross and riffraff of a small town. 

While weaving this wonderful story about four high school misfits, Hyde brings forth a time in America’s history that should drip with shame for all of us. Woven through this fiction is non-fiction history about social norms and the betrayal of US  citizens, on so many levels.
(Note: This is as much as I am willing to say about the story to avoid, as I do, spoiler alerts.)  

This book is a must for your library; to read and read again and then to keep on the shelf that holds your most treasured books. 

Now available at your favorite book store.
Did you see my Interview with Catherine Ryan Hyde
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary, December: Mimi Mathews
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Interview with author, Mimi Matthews (conclusion)

Mimi with her horse, Centelleo

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

MM. Both. The ideas for my novels usually start with a single disconnected scene. I imagine the characters in a specific situation. That scene helps me to understand them and their motivations, but it also helps me to understand the goal of my story as a whole.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

MM. At the best of times, yes, when the words are flowing and the story is unfolding without too much mental anguish on my part. It’s one of the primary reasons I write. Because of my spine injury, I suffer a lot from pain. When I’m lost in a story, I can forget the pain, at least temporarily. For that reason alone, writing is incredibly therapeutic for me.

Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up? If so tell us about it.

MM. I’m really excited about my upcoming January release, The Siren of Sussex. Set in Victorian London, it features Ahmad Malik, the half-Indian tailor from my Parish Orphans of Devon series, and Evelyn Maltravers, a bluestocking equestrienne who hires him to make her daring riding habits. Siren is the first in a new series I’m writing for Berkley/Penguin Random House. It will be out on January 11th.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

MM. I wrote my first novel at thirteen. At eighteen, that novel got me my first literary agent. That novel didn’t sell, nor did the next one I wrote. After that, I took a very long break from writing fiction while I went to college and law school, traveled a bit, and did some other exciting things. It was only my spine injury that brought me back to writing fiction again.

Jet trying to find the delete button

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

MM. Gosh, I hope not. I love the look, feel, and smell of books—both old books and new ones.

Q. What makes a writer great?

MM. I love an author who can tell a compelling story that grabs hold of you from the start and won’t let you go. Beautiful prose is a bonus.

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

MM. For me, the process involves lots of work and lots of writerly angst. It usually starts with me loving my characters and ends with me being sick to death of them. Seriously, by the time a book is finished, I’ve reread it so many times I can’t take it anymore. Hopefully, all those rereads and revisions result in a polished story that my readers are going to love.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

MM. My own experience with a life altering injury has a huge impact on the stories I tell. I write a lot about people who are experiencing similar life altering circumstances—a devastating loss, a debilitating physical injury, or a change in fortune. My characters have to work through these situations, to adapt and grow in order to ultimately find happiness again.

Stella

Q. What’s your down time look like?

MM. I’m terrible at down time. My laptop is often open on my lap, even when my family is watching a movie. Shutting off technology and learning to relax is something I’m struggling to get better at.

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

A. Yes! I recently indulged the urge to write a Victorian gothic vampire novel. I had so much fun. Not sure I’d do it again, but I loved that I could—and that some of my readers even enjoyed it.

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

MM. Be kind, both to other people and to yourself.

Did you miss Part I of our interview with Mimi Matthews?
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary, December: Mimi Mathews
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  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK