Crow Mary by Kathleen Grissom ~~ Review

    4 out of 5 stars   ~~  Book Review

 

A much-awaited novel by Kathleen Grissom, who is well known and touted for her two previous books, The Kitchen House and Glory Over Everything.  While she never mis-stepped when writing the latter and, as far as I could tell, got it mostly, if not entirely right, there were a few things that made me itch to correct her while reading Crow Mary.  Maybe I’m overly sensitive as I myself lived on tribal lands (Makah Nation) as a young woman for over two years in Neah Bay, Washington. (Pacific NW.)

I had a problem with several nation lineage issues regarding Crow Mary’s knowledge of her own people. Wouldn’t Mary mention that the Crow People were originally a minor subset of the Sioux Nation and now were at war? The Crow had migrated from the Great Lakes area to the Dakotas and Montana.  Know that in spite of the fact that the Sioux were now an enemy of the Crow People?

Secondly, Nakoda is spelled in the book with a ‘D’ when the correct spelling and the most commonly used name is Nakota with an ‘t’. 

Mary is a proud Crow woman who really doesn’t take any guff off of any man, native or white.  Yet she refers to herself and to her tribe as “Indians”, a derogatory term invented by the white man.   I don’t know of any written history of where the People in question thought or spoke of themselves as “Indian”.  I think the author also missed an opportunity to weave in Mary’s nation’s full name that the white man bastardized it to simply, “Crow”. 

Please don’t misunderstand, this is a really, really good story, and maybe the average reader wouldn’t pick up on any of the things that bothered me but be that as it may…..I could not give the book the resounding 5 stars that I had anticipated doing.  

Spoiler Alert:  Don’t read the prologue. It’s a clear indication of how the book ends. (or one of the endings) Within the book itself once I read of the practice of the ‘wolfers’ using strychnine when trapping, I thought I knew how the book would end and that spoiled it for me somewhat. 

Did you miss my interview with Kathleen Grissom?
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Monday Motivations for the Writer! #18

TS: A fellow writer that I have interviewed was kind enough to contribute to my Motivational Moments…  Thanks, Mike!

‘One of the most common questions that novice writers ask me is “How do you overcome writer’s block?” I would define
writer’s block as a heavy psychological state in which you’re completely out of ideas about what to write. Usually, writers seem to experience it somewhere in the middle of a story rather than near the beginning or end. It can last for days or even weeks, getting you down and undermining your confidence.

My solution is simple, and many writers report that it also works for them. When you experience writer’s block, jump to some other point in the story, some other scene or episode that you already know will be there, and start working on that. This can include jumping all the way to the very end and working backward. Writers who prefer to write their stories sequentially, from start to finish, may feel uncomfortable with leaping over to some faraway section of the story, but believe me, if you force yourself to do this, there’s a strong chance that you’ll break through the barrier.

I don’t know how this solution works–maybe subconscious plot connections take place or it’s simply getting your creative energy flowing again, but it usually does. Give it a try next time you’re stuck and see if it works for you.’ ~ Mike Wells

Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?” ~ Kurt Vonnegut

“A straight line is not the shortest distance between two points.”― Madeleine L’Engle

Did you see my interview with Mike Wells? Click here
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A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK 

Monday Motivations for the Writer! #17

TS. My friend and best-selling author, Jodi Thomas, did me the honor of contributing to Monday Motivations.

‘The hardest thing a writer does each day is sitting down to work.  In 28 years as a working writer, I’ve published 45 books and 13 novellas.  The hardest thing wasn’t learning to write but learning to manage time. I picked up a few tricks but it is still the dragon I fight every day.

Jodi.photo (Small)
Jodi Thomas

Build your nest.  I find this makes it easy for me to step into fiction.  It doesn’t matter if your nest is in a secret room in the attic or a small desk in a hotel room. It needs to be your nest. I usually start with a notebook. 

My facts book, my bible for the series.  It includes all characters’ names and basic facts.  Maps of the area—if you’re making up a town, make up the map.’ ~~Jodi Thomas

‘Peace and rest at length have come, All the day’s long toil is past; And each heart is whispering “Home, Home at last!‘- Thomas Hood

Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.’- Robert Frost
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A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK 

 

The Guyer Girls will open soon in the Black Hills of South Dakota

The Black Hills Community Theatre of Rapid City, South Dakota is opening performance dates for my play, The Guyer Girls, beginning March 31st.  

 

Writing down my memories of my mother telling me these wild stories about herself and her four sisters when they were teenagers in the 1920s in a tiny town

Mama, Violet, Gladys, Ivah, Youngest sisters

in the Pacific Northwest was a joyful trip down memory lane and a perfect genre to preserve her stories.  When I was a child, thankfully, I knew all of my aunties as older women. It’s a special event when I am notified by Samuel French, my publisher, that this particular play has been licensed to produce by a theatre group.

Synopsis:

Critics have described The Guyer Girls as a cross between Little Women and I Remember Mama. From the opening moments when Ivah cuts Violet’s eyebrows off, this story romps through the sibling antics and rivalry of a large family. The first act takes place as the young teenage girls are growing into lovely women.

The five sisters grown: (left>right) LaVerne, Violet, Gladys, Ivah and Lillias.

 

(left>right) Tish Evans as LaVerne, Carol Cameron as Violet, LaRee Mayes as Mama, Wendy Lowe as Lillas, and Marilyn Hovland as Ivah

In a series of family stories set in the 1920s, we enjoy the girls’ hilarious pranks, antics, joys and humiliations. There is laughter in abundance. Tears, love, and sibling rivalry as these four delightful sisters grow up under the guidance of their matriarch, ‘Mama’. A prestigious marriage, a female pro-basketball player, and a run away to Alaska, these young women couldn’t be more diverse. Fast forward to the 1940s. The sisters are adults, starting their own families and Pearl Harbor has just been attacked.

The Guyer Girls are the children of Sophia and Levi Guyer who migrated to America and then moved out west. The stage play is a rich tapestry of an American family spanning three decades and based upon the true story of the Guyer family. 4f.
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Watch for more interviews with authors.  December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY
March-Apr:   
Joshua Hood, author of ROBERT LUDLUM’S THE TREADSTONE RENDITION  April: Author, H.W. ‘Buzz’ Bernard 

A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

Monday Motivations for the Writer! #16

Why momentum is more important than quality. Blasphemy, right? Wrong. Momentum is more important, in this writer’s opinion, than quality.

The writer with momentum is an author who is MOVING FORWARD.  Writing every day, six or seven days a week, if only a page or two a day.

The writer who is so stuck on ‘quality’ that they have only written one book in their life time, and they are still writing it, is the writer who is not moving forward or growing.  If you only write one or two words a day, your manuscript is moving forward.

Many writers, who believe a,s I do, say that if you leave a project for a month, six months, a year, it is likely that you will never go back to it. And during that time the doubt creeps in: “who do I think I am?” “I’ll never be a great writer.”  “I’m no good at this.” “My mother was right, I’ll never amount to anything….” “how good could I possibly be?” “I should go get a day job.” “How dare I?”

Remember, Quality gets layered in, draft by draft. Some newbie writers think that the first draft should be perfect. Sorry, that’s simply not the case. You’ve heard me say over and over:  ‘that’s what rewrites are for.’
Quality is a multi-draft proposition. Momentum is the only thing that will get you a FIRST DRAFT!

Write until it becomes as natural as breathing. Write until NOT writing makes you anxious.” Unknown

The role of the writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say.” Anais Nin

When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write a brave new ending.” Brene Brown
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Watch for more interviews with authors.  December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY
March-Apr:   
Joshua Hood, author of ROBERT LUDLUM’S THE TREADSTONE RENDITION, April:  H.W. ‘Buzz’ Bernard, WWII historian

A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

Monday Motivations for the Writer! (#15)

When characters stroll into your story….LET THEM! A little while back, I completed an interview with FreshFiction.com and was relating to the interviewer that several characters had walked into my story (Song of the Yukon) quite unexpectedly.   I welcomed them in. It happens to me frequently.  They contribute interesting tributaries to my main story stream. Even though I had to stop and do some extra research, it was so WORTH IT!

Keep writing, my fellow writers!

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are  thrown on the scrap heap.’~~George Bernard Shaw

An original writer is not one who imitates nobody, but one whom nobody can imitate.’ Francois Rene De Chateaubriand

‘I’m not the heroic type, really. I was beaten up by Quakers.’ ~Woody Allen
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Watch for more interviews with authors.  December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY
March-Apr:   
Joshua Hood, author of ROBERT LUDLUM’S THE TREADSTONE RENDITION, April:  H.W. ‘Buzz’ Bernard, writing for TOM CLANCY.  

A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

Monday Motivation for the Writer! #12

                      How to Write Rich Characters.

After many years of writing, my characters just show up in my head, but it’s my job to ‘flesh them out, and’ breathe life into them. Many times I will meet or see a character in

 real life, and they inspire a character in my storytelling. If you’re a new writer, take the time to write it down. It’s not the same as a few random thoughts about your character. Some intangible thing happens when I put pen to paper and get to know who my character is.

Read through your story and write down EVERYTHING the other characters say about the character you are creating. These exercises do not have to show up in your book. They are merely ways to research and explore who your characters are. When I am editing and rewriting, I look for additional ways to bring my characters to life.

I keep asking myself about the character’s motivations, goals, and needs.

One of the things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time.

 Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. Something more will arise for later, something better.”
— Annie Dillard

A director becomes a diplomatist, a financier, a pedagogue, a top sergeant, a wet nurse, and a martyr, the kind of martyr who used to be torn into pieces by wild horses galloping in all directions at once.” ~Margaret Webster, Stage Director (This quote SO applies to writers, I thought I would include it.)

(Watercolor portraits by Trisha Sugarek)
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Watch for more interviews with authors.  December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY
March-Apr:   
Joshua Hood, author of ROBERT LUDLUM’S THE TREADSTONE RENDITION 

A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

Monday Motivation for the Writer! #11

I had a friendly debate with another author when she responded to my Stephen King’s quote about ‘plot being the  last resort of bad writers.’  One of her comments to me was, “writers have to accept that their readers might not care as much about your characters as you do.”

My vehement answer was if my readers don’t care as much as I do, then I haven’t done my job.  I just finished reading a book by a new (to me) author, and I found her characters boring and unsympathetic.  She didn’t tell me enough about them through dialogue and description for me to care.  I suspect that since this was a series, she relied too heavily on her readers already knowing her characters from previous books.  Big mistake!  Even with a series, each book, and character, must be able to stand alone. #writing

Writers!  You have to know your characters in order for your readers to know and care about them.  With the most despicable villain, you must give your readers something to love about that character.

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets, their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.”  Elisabeth Kabler-Ross

“When you are completely absorbed or caught up in something, you become oblivious to things around you, or to the passage of time.  It is this absorption in what you are doing that frees your unconscious and releases your creative imagination.”  Rollo May
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Watch for more interviews with authors.  November:  Horror writer, Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

Monday Motivation for the Writer! #10

Okay, your first attempt at creative writing is finished.  In your journal or notebook or in a password-protected file on your laptop, your first completed story awaits you.  Now, what are you going to do with it?  You can’t possibly let anyone read it!  What if they laugh and it’s not a comedy?  What if it’s met with poorly hidden scorn? Or when they read the last page, what if they look up,  their eyes filled with pity…for you.

Sorry, but you’ve just entered the world of writing.  You must brave the experience of having someone actually read your work.  That is, if you intend to go any further.
Here’s the good news: pick people you trust who will give you constructive criticism. If you ask a family member, make certain that they aren’t threatened by your new passion for writing.  They might sense that if you pursue your writing, it will take you away from them (and it will).  Or, worse, they tell you it’s wonderful, perfect….which you and I both know it isn’t at this point.
Keep writing!  Don’t let anyone or anything stop you.  And I can keep this promise: if you keep writing, you will get better.

“Writing is a lonely business.  You pour your heart and guts into the written word, often exposing what you’ve experienced in your own life.  You nurture it, feed it, trim its toenails, wash its hair, dress it up, and send it out into traffic.” Trisha Sugarek

“Planning to write is not writing.  Outlining a book is not writing.  Researching is not writing.  Talking to people about what you’re doing is not writing.   None of that is writing. Writing is writing.”   ~~ E.L. Doctorow
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Watch for more interviews with authors.  November:  Horror writer, Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

So Long, Chester Wheeler by Catherine Ryan Hyde (Review)

5 out of 5 stars           Book Review

 

Spoiler Alert:  In order to write a formal review (which would include telling a little about this fascinating story), it would be riddled with “spoiler alert” warnings.  So I won’t.

Instead, I want to write about this author’s uncanny talent for concepts.  She writes about people, everyday people, about life, and how messy it is.  It may not be a conscious thought, but somewhere inside you, you are wondering, ‘How did she come up with this concept for a story?’ 

In my interview with Catherine, she addresses how she comes up with her stories:

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

CRH. When I have finished a novel and turned it over to my agent, I know I need a new idea. I open up to a new idea, and I meet a character. I generally 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. (end quote)

That’s what I tell my writers (fans); to keep their eyes and ears open because you may get a mere glimpse of your next character. Just waiting there, in the shadows,  for you, so they can tell you their story. 

But I digress.  If you have never read another book, be certain to read So Long Chester Wheeler. It’s a distillation of everything that’s so wonderful and horrid about the humane species. Beautifully written. Like Catherine examines each word to make sure it’s worthy to be in her story before she lays it down.  And, as with most of her books, there are lots of surprises, plot twists and turns the reader never sees coming. 
This author is everything we mere mortal writers should aspire to be.  Sharpen your pencils!!  

Available now at your favorite book store!

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To receive my weekly posts, sign up for my  On the home page, enter your email address. 

Watch for more interviews with authors.  November:  Horror writer, Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK