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Review ~~ Dreaming of Flight by Catherine Ryan Hyde

5+ out of 5 stars  Book Review

 

Odd, loveable, quirky characters are sprinkled throughout this story. From the first page they  seduce and beguile the reader.

Stewie, a 10 year old boy (when we first meet him) is passively neglected by his overly taxed, older sister.  His Gam has recently died and as a way to stay connected to his much beloved grandmother, he adopts and takes over the care of her chickens.  During his ‘egg route’ he meets Marilyn, another grandma-type with the same rough edge as his Gam. 

And that’s where I’ll leave the spoiler alert.  The writing is done with the same brilliance we have come to expect from Catherine Ryan Hyde. Her turn of phrase is unapparelled.  Her balance of descriptive text and dialogue is near-perfect. And my readers know how too little dialogue irks me!  This will never happen in a Hyde book.  The characters are well thought out and deeply written. Hyde ‘shows’ you her characters; never tells you who and what they are. And who else could get a beautiful story out of a young boy and his chickens?

I highly recommend this book to my readers. If you loved Allie and Bea (and I did!) you will certainly love Dreaming of Flight.

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Did you miss my interview with Catherine Ryan Hyde
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Writing isn’t a calling; it’s a Doing!

Lillian Hellman said this. ‘If you hope to be any good, nothing you write will ever come out as you first hoped.’     It is true and if you are truly lucky it will happen to you.

In my novel, Women Outside the Walls, I have waited until Joe dies at Charlie’s hands to share with you the back story of how the last chapters of my book came to be.   How I experienced this lucky event of my book not turning out as I had first hoped.

In the play script version , this is where the story ends; Joe dying on the cold floor of a prison and Charlie’s line:  “I got you to find Chelsea, didn’t I?”  And this was where I had planned for the  novel to end too.

IF I had not been working closely with a woman who had ‘stood by her man’ for 15 years while he was in prison. Women Outside the Walls Shortly after he was paroled, her son received 13 years for manslaughter.  She has been there, done that, times two!  After SK (the woman outside real walls) read the last pages, she looked up and asked: “What happened to Charlie?  To Alma?”

I looked blank for a moment. I was, first and foremost, a playwright after all. Then replied, “do you think anyone would care?” She said, “Absolutely.  Is Charlie in a death penalty state?  Does Alma stick by him?” she asked.  And “By the way, what happened to Hattie and her kids?”

The problem was I had no experience with death row……BUT I did have SK, whose son narrowly avoided the death penalty when he  pled down from murder two to voluntary manslaughter.  SK never spoke of those dark days when she thought she would lose her son when the state executed him.  Now she was willing to speak of it with me.

Based upon her stories and the stories of her friends (other women outside the walls) I was able to write those
final chapters.  Did Charlie walk down that long hallway to the ‘needle’?  Was anyone there to witness his death?
You might be surprised.  And yes, what happened to Hattie and Kitty?

Try to explore everything you can about your characters’ lives.  Don’t leave a single road untraveled.  We all care about what happens to the villain!

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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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Conclusion: Interview with Regency Author, Jennie Goutet

Author, Jennie Goutet

Q. What makes a writer great?

JG. There is natural talent, of course. But I think what makes a writer great is being able to handle critique and to incorporate the good critiques into future works – to constantly learn and grow in the craft.

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

JG. I get a rough idea and write a few chapters that I love. Then I crash and don’t know what to do next so I call my development editor and we talk through the ideas. I write a really skeletal first draft and hate it. Then read through and think it’s not quite so bad. I get my critique partners to have a look and take their advice. I edit again then send it to the developmental editor in completed form (or at least at 80%). I edit again on the computer then on paper and send it to the line editor. I edit again with her changes and do text to voice to catch repeats or strange wording. Then I read it on my kindle to see it as a reader would before sending it to the proof editor. In the final stages, I send it to early readers who catch all the typos and other mistakes no one else caught. Then it’s ready to go out.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

JG. I’ve lived in a lot of places. I’m curious about human nature. I observe. I’ve suffered from the darker things like grief and depression. I’ve known wild joy and adventure. I think my characters come to life from what I’ve experienced.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

JG. This is a weakness of mine. I do not have down time. I work all day on writing or the other aspects of the business (marketing, social media, production, translation, audio), then make dinner and listen to my teens talk about their day. On the weekend I’m doing ministry stuff. (We serve the teen ministry). I know this is just a phase, though – these teen years – so I’m okay with it. I really enjoy reading in bed at night. And we go away a few times a year, which is great. Sometimes I take a walk by the Seine river, or visit a friend, or go into Paris, but there is no regular downtime.

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

JG. I’ve written contemporary romance. A Noble Affair was my first novel and it’s not the finest in terms of literature but it was good practice for a full-length fiction work. And A Sweetheart in Paris is a decent book, I think, but it hasn’t attracted much attention. I’ve written a memoir as well, Stars Upside Down. I think if I were to switch genres I wouldn’t stray far. Georgian or Victorian as opposed to Regency. But I really love what I write.

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

A. Well, this won’t be relatable to everyone, but my main life’s lesson is that when I draw my last breath my books won’t matter. Only my relationship to God will. So I need to make sure that success doesn’t go to my head and that failure doesn’t destroy me. I am just God’s kid, and He’ll make sure I have all I need.

Did you miss Part 1 or Part 2?
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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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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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I Guess It’s All In the Writing…

What makes us, as readers, care about the characters in a book?  What is it about one book over another? I recently took a chance on a couple of new authors (to me) and was pretty disappointed. The books were like eating a slice of Wonder White Bread, with nothing on it; not even butter. Bland, tasteless and of little interest. 

Sophie was listless, I’m sorry to say with long run-on sentences. Beachcomber Motel was not interesting for a different and ‘deadly’ reason; the characters were not well drawn. They could have been more interesting; instead all three had been ‘done wrong’ by life. And quite frankly, I didn’t care about them. The love story of Jules didn’t develop until the last few pages and was more like: ‘Oh! I forgot to finish up Jules and Nick’s story.’  But, I misspoke, it wasn’t finished up but left the reader dangling mid-relationship with those two. Probably in the author’s hope that readers would be enticed to read a sequel.  Both of these are going to be a series, which I cannot recommend.  
  1 out of 5 stars 

This is beginning to sound more like a book review but hang in there….I will get to my point about writing. 

4 out of 5 stars

So I gave up on those two and cracked another new one; The Stationmaster’s Daughter.  I was instantly engaged and worried about Tilly and her dad, Ken, Ted and Annie. Of course, the setting didn’t hurt; a discarded railway station out in the wilds of Dorset. (UK)  Through no fault of her own, Tilly’s been kicked pretty hard by life. We find that out (artfully written) pretty soon after page one but with no feeling of being rushed.  Then there are flashbacks to 1935 when the trains were running in rural counties.

So no surprise, the difference is simple. It’s all about the writing. That something that a writer has in their storytelling that weaves a charming, enticing, well-drawn and interesting tale. This one’s about trains; I don’t care about trains except if they are on time and relatively clean. But the writer based the back story on trains in their heyday; the steam locomotion. And it was just enough that a reader like me didn’t grow weary with the history of trains.  It was well balanced with beautifully drawn characters. And the dialogue was excellent; I could hear their voices.             
It’s all in the writing. Full stop!
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary, December: Mimi Matthews 
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Author Interview with Susanne O’Leary

Swedish by birth and Irish by marriage, Susanne O’Leary is the author of 35 novels, mainly in the romantic fiction genre. She has also written four crime novels and two in the historical fiction genre. She’s been the wife of a diplomat (still married to the same man, now retired), a fitness teacher and a translator. Susanne now writes full-time from either of two locations, a big old house in County Tipperary, Ireland or a little cottage overlooking the Atlantic in Dingle, County Kerry. When she is not scaling the mountains of said counties (including MacGillycuddy’s Reeks), or keeping fit in the local gym, she keeps writing, producing a book every six months or so.

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

SO. I usually write in my little office in our house in County Tipperary, with views of the green hills and mountains. When I’m in Kerry, I write sitting in an IKEA chair by the fire, looking at the ocean when I take a break.

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.?

Work space in Tipperary

SO. I always write in my pajamas and sheepskin slippers, tea in my favourite blue mug with a slice of toast with marmalade that I

nibble on while I read through what I wrote yesterday. Then I write new material for an hour or two, and then I do some yoga (still in my pyjamas) before I get dressed.

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

SO. My real first name is Karin. Susanne is my middle name.

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

SO. Always on the keyboard on my good old Lenovo laptop.

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

SO. Early in the morning is my best and brightest time to write!

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

SO. Make a particular time each day your writing hour. If you stick to that, it’ll be easier to get going.

One of the Interviewer’s favs

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

SO. That’s an interesting question. My books always start with a

situation, then I put the characters into that, and then they become stronger and stronger right through the first draft. Then I go back to the beginning and flesh them out, because now I really know them.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

Starting the day with an ocean swim

SO. I started my writing career by writing non-fiction and wrote two books about health and fitness (I am a trained fitness teacher). While writing these books, I discovered how much I loved the actual writing process. My then editor gave me the idea to write a fun novel based on my experiences as a diplomat’s wife. This became my debut novel, ‘Diplomatic Incidents’ (now also an e-book with the title Duty Free‘).

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

SO. Usually the situation.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

 

Part two of this wonderful Interview will be posted Nov. 6th
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary.
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Shaman, Author, Jennifer Monahan shares ‘a moment’….

  What’s Your Moment?

I’m a firm believer that each one of us has specific moments during our lives that shape us. Usually uncomfortable, and sometimes downright painful, these moments move us in a direction that we might never have gone in. For me, one of those moments happened on November 2, 2014.
It was a gorgeous, clear Sunday afternoon in San Francisco, one of those days where you just feel alive because everything is so bright and sunny. I was at an intersection in the Financial District, walking to the downtown area to do some errands. Even though the Financial District was virtually deserted, I waited for the “Walk” signal before crossing the street. I was about halfway across when something blue caught the corner of my eye…a split-second before a man hit me at 25 miles an hour with his blue minivan.

I don’t remember much after that. Eyewitnesses said that I rode on the hood of the minivan for about half a block until the driver slammed on the brakes to stop. (I later found out that the driver got confused and stepped on the gas pedal instead of the brake.) I have no memory of riding on the hood, but I do remember falling. I landed on the pavement on my hands, knees and face and knew immediately that I wasn’t going to be able to move.
At the emergency room, all the doctors and technicians said that they had never seen a “human vs. minivan” outcome look as good as I did. “Good,” of course, is relative, as I later learned, and basically meant that I wasn’t dead. I had plenty of time to think about that during the six months I was laid up on my couch and the subsequent months of physical therapy.

The most difficult day of my healing process was when my doctors told me I wouldn’t walk again and that I would need to use both crutches and a brace for the rest of my life. I cried that day and then woke up the next morning filled with resolve. At my next appointment, I brought a pair of 6-inch heels into the doctor’s office, told the doctors my goal was to wear them, and suggested that they get on board because I was going to walk again.
I still remember the sense of pride I felt as I accomplished what in the past had been mindless simple activities: being able to curl my toes and pick up a facecloth was one of my first successes and gave me the confidence to continue to push myself to re-learn how to walk. I celebrated the day that I graduated to a walking cast and took my first steps without crutches. Friends cheered me on the first time that I walked (slowly) in a brace down a short flight of stairs. The day I walked a few steps without crutches, cast or a brace was the day I knew I had proved the doctors wrong. I was exhausted, covered in sweat and shaking, but was, in my doctor’s words, “a miracle.” It took fourteen months.
But the point the doctors had made about how “good” I looked after the accident kept swirling around in my head. There was no doubt in my mind that I had been lucky: had I fallen under the wheels of the minivan instead of going up on the hood, I would have died.

That moment and realization changed my life completely. I began looking at every aspect of my life and realized that while my life had been a good life, I had played by the rules and hadn’t taken many chances.  I realized that I didn’t want to play it safe anymore; I wanted to follow my heart and truly live life.

Tikal in Guatemala

Lake Peten Itza

And so, I did what at the time was one of the scariest things I had ever done: I quit my job and walked away from the security that it represented. Once I had given my notice, the next change was a lot easier: I gave up my rent-controlled apartment in San Francisco (a big deal, given how crazy rents are in San Francisco). I sold and donated a lot of my belongings and put the rest in storage. I had decided to travel.
I’m a nomad at heart, a gypsy. My work as a consultant suits me well, since I’m typically on a plane every week, going somewhere different. But that travel was for work and didn’t give me the opportunity to do what I wanted to do: really immerse myself in different cultures and locations.
First on my list of places to visit was Guatemala. I had become fascinated with Mayan archaeological ruins two years prior and had explored over a dozen sites in Mexico. Everyone told me that I needed to see Tikal in Guatemala. So, once I finished my book tour for my first book, I packed my carry-on bag and headed to Guatemala.

Jaguar-About to depart on another worldwide trip

I ended up in the small village of El Remate, in Peten, about 30 minutes away from Tikal. The village is in the jungle and home to a couple hundred families. The main road through town is the only fully paved road in the village and is dotted with tiny shops, restaurants and churches and runs alongside Lake Peten Itza. Chickens, dogs, and pigs wander around freely, holding up traffic when they decide to sleep in the middle of the road.
I rented a one-room thatched-roof hut, near the lake and village cemetery and about a 20-minute walk to the center of town. It had a covered outside patio with a couch and chair. The front door opened to the sleeping area. To the left of the sleeping area was the bathroom – with running water. To the right was the kitchen and eating area. But what really made the hut was the thatched roof. It rose about two and a half stories high, with a bamboo framework and dried palm leaves making a water-tight roof.

Join us next week for the conclusion of this fascinating journey! 
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary.
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Book Review ~~ Miss Delectable by Grace Burrowes

reviews, authors, writing

reviews, authors, writing

reviews, authors, writing

reviews, authors, writing

reviews, authors, writing 

   5 out of 5 quills    

When you pick up a book written by Grace Burrowes you are one hundred percent certain you are in store for a good story. Filled with interesting characters and an fascinating plot.  Full stop! 
 
Grace Burrowes has begun a new series, Mischief in Mayfair. Miss Delectable is Book One, and it’s delicious!  Rag-a-muffin rapscallions abound with a hero who rescues them and the damsel in distress.  Book Two, Miss Delightful, is to be released shortly.
Burrowes is very prolific in this genre and what is amazing is how FRESH her plot lines remain.  She is constantly thinking of new story lines that have not been done before. 

Miss Pearson has dedicated years to learning the exacting science of the culinary arts.  She will never hold the title of ‘chef’ as that is strictly reserved for men. She will always be a ‘cook’, no matter how talented and creative she is.  It is, after all, only the 19th century. 
Colonel Sir Orion Goddard is Miss Pearson’s employer’s brother by marriage. They are slightly acquainted and really have no reason to meet each other. Persistent, vague scandal and rumors have haunted Goddard and being a recluse solves many of his problems.  That is, until his young protégé needs placement and only his brother-in-law’s kitchens will do. 

Burrowes gives her readers a good tale, characters that are deeply drawn, a little intrigue and a sweet love story. Recurring individuals keep her fans very happy. 

Available Soon! Miss Delightful  (9/14/21)

Did you miss my Interview with Grace Burrowes?

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry.
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Interview with author, Jenny Colgan (part 2)

TS.  As my readers know, I am (1) a voracious reader and (2) always looking for new (to me) authors. My first exposure to Jenny was
The Cafe by the Sea. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t certain that I would continue to buy her books. So quirky; I hadn’t before  heard this particular ‘voice’ in an author.  15 books (and counting) later, I admit to being a girl-fan.  I love her stories! The characters are real people trying to stumble through life, as we all are, as best we can. So imagine my joy when this prolific and busy author agreed to be interviewed. And she was so generous with her answers! 

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

JC. You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to. Lots of people think they’d like to be writers, but then just can’t get it done, and you know what, that’s fine, that’s okay, go do something else, don’t make yourself miserable. I wanted to be a stand up comedian, but I hated every single second of being onstage, and I realized I just wanted to call myself a stand up, I didn’t actually want to do the work. That’s fine. There’s plenty of books out there already, there’s absolutely no need to do it if you don’t want to, so find something else fun to do.

If you really want to, you’ll set your wordcount in your head, even if it’s only 500 words a day, and you’ll do it. Somehow. They never have to be your best words, they don’t even have to be any good. All that kind of stuff you fix in the edit. Your first draft you just have to find the momentum to get 1000 words down every day for 80 days, then look at what you have at the end.

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

Husband, Andrew

JC. All over the place. Sometimes bits and pieces of people I’ve met, sometimes I just start them off and see. I’m writing a character now who is very beautiful. I wanted them to be difficult and impossible, but actually that didn’t work at all.

What turned out to be much more interesting are normal people’s reactions to someone who is extremely beautiful. It isn’t her fault at all; other people just become really weird around her when she’s in the room, and her experience of life is different from most people’s. So, they develop as you go. I worked with a scientist last year- I don’t usually meet a lot of scientists in my line of work- and he never said anything unless he knew it was absolutely a fact, the case. You could see the gears working in his brain every time he was asked for an opinion on anything. And I thought, that’s interesting, and wrote a character (who isn’t based on my colleague at all) who has that kind of rigorous thought process.

Q. What tools do you begin with? (from last week)

Sketch of Mure

JC. Sometimes I like to sketch my characters to get a view for what they look like and what they’re doing. If I’m a bit stuck, I’ll start drawing…..

Q. What first inspired you to write?

JC. Oh I was just a massive bookworm. Writing books is the closest you get to reading books your entire life. I write the kind of books I absolutely love reading and if I can’t find a book I want- eg a series for adults set amongst teachers in a boarding school- I just go write it myself.

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

JC. The situation, generally. ‘What if you were a refugee and posted to a remote Scottish island?’ ‘What if you lost everything and could only get a really lowly job in a bakery?’ ‘What if you met an alien?’. Things I think might be interesting.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

Another favorite

JC. Yeah, sometimes. Generally near the end of something. Not always, and it doesn’t have a huge effect on the work, really, I mean I don’t think the reader could tell the points where I’ve got very obsessed with it, but sometimes I get completely wrapped up in them and can’t think about anything else. My husband can always tell. 🙂

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

Did you miss Part 1 of this in-depth interview?

Don’t Miss part 3 of this spectacular Interview with Jenny. Coming May 21st. 
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy.
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