Book Review ~ The Physics of Relationships

 

2 out of 5 stars  ~~  Book Review

Even though this narration was supposed to be from the Mom, the author’s masculine voice frequently leaked through.    I can’t quite put my finger on the whys or hows but there is a definite masculinity to her/his ‘dry’, analytical tone. And  I never discovered her name.  

The narrator is the Mom figure in the story. Unfortunately, she is just that. A talking head. Her deeper feelings aren’t explored. The narrator talks at the reader with conclusions rather than a true exploration.  Is Chas guilty of ‘man-splaining’?  

Early on the family unit fell into being a clique.  Two husbands, one divorce, 1 male child, 1 female child, 1 best friend. 

Speaking of the BFF. Amy  moves in with Mom for awhile. She also is having troubles in her marriage.   They end up sharing the same bedroom and bed and eventually Amy makes tentative sexual ovatures to her good friend.  (This is an 8  on the ‘ick’ scale.) First of all, middle-aged BFFs would not share a bed. Except at a hotel, on holiday, and there was only one room/1 bed available and they were desperate for lodging.  (Guilty!)
Why do most men think that if two women are very close friends, they must have lesbian tendencies just under the surface of the friendship? 

This might have been a better book if the author had written in his own voice (as narrator) and told the story from the three men’s point of view. Greg, Lawrence, and Phil.
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Interview with Author, Donna Everhart (part 2)

Donna & her grandkids

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

DE. You’re “looking” at a procrastinator. I’ll come to my desk every day and have a word goal in mind (usually 1,000 words) and oftentimes do everything but start working toward that goal. What follows is GUILT as time ticks by. By the end of the day, if I haven’t made the word count because of lost time on something unrelated to my writing goal, there’s the inevitable slump in mood. My best days are when I make a concerted effort to get the word count in. Even if I don’t, and get, say, 500 words, I’m happier for it because I know the effort was honestly made. It takes discipline to not get onto social media or think of the other million ways to avoid doing what needs to be done to accomplish the end result – i.e., a finished book. What I’ve found works best, write first; everything else comes after – even laundry.

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

DE.  Usually through an idea for a story. Sometimes a name comes to mind first, and I start to think about who this person would be, and what is it they want, what they’re good at, what they’re bad at, and if they have any enemies. It’s kind of all over the place. A messy, messy process.  

Q. What first inspired you to write?

Donna with hubby

DE. Reading stories that made a big impact on me were the main influence or motivator. The enjoyment I got from books where I wouldn’t stop reading for a long time, and when I finally took a break, I’d look around in a daze. I’d become so invested in that world, I think I was surprised I wasn’t “there,” instead of sitting on a couch in my living room. That kind of story made me want to create something similar. The idea of affecting a person’s mood, thought process, and emotions resonated for whatever reason.

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

DE. It’s actually been both. It’s never always this, or that. For example, in my debut, The Education of Dixie Dupree, it was the character of Dixie. In The Road to Bittersweet, it was the situation – the 1940 flood in western North Carolina. It just depends. When I begin to search for a story, I’m often lookin g for a situation, but out of nowhere, a name will come to mind – and then I’m thinking, who is this? (I have to have a name before I can develop a character)

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

DE. Absolutely. When I’m really in that zone, hours can go by and I’ll sort of come out of it and realize, oh, wait. I haven’t eaten. I’m often shocked half the day is gone. It’s kind of scary sometimes!  

Donna with her granddaughter

Q. What compelled you to choose and settle on the genre you now write in?

Donna with daughter

DE. I love, love, love reading stories set in the South where I’m from, and so I guess it makes sense I’d want to write about my culture and the region I love. Aside from the classics out there for Southern literature, like Flannery O’Connor, William Faulkner, etc., it was reading the more contemporary writers like Kaye Gibbons (Ellen Foster) and Dorothy Allison, (Bastard Out Of Carolina) that jumpstarted my urge to pursue it. After I read their books and I was on the hunt for more stories like theirs. This was around 1987, or so, and as I began to discover these Southern stories which really resonated with me, I knew if I ever wrote anything, it would be something like this.

Did you miss the start of this interview?
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Much Anticipated Interview with Laila Ibrahim

Luca is the Frenchie. The mini Aussie is named Hazel

Laila Ibrahim grew up in Whittier California. She has lived in Oakland and Berkeley for 40 years, when she moved there to go to Mills College where she studied Human Development and attachment theory. Since 1993 Laila and her wife have lived in a small co-housing community with two other families. Her adult children are a great joy, as is her dog, a toy Australian Shepherd named Hazel. She is beyond excited to welcome her first grandchild in July.

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, or special space for your writing?  Or tell us about your ‘dream’ workspace.

LI. Since my last child moved out I have had a room of my own to write it. I LOVE it. It’s in the back of the house with a view of a beautiful redwood tree. Before that I worked at the dining room table when my kids were at school or a small desk sandwiched in the living room.

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

LI. I don’t get dressed before I write. I usually make myself a cup of rooibos chai tea. I generally write for 45 minutes to an hour. Take a break. And then do it again. I can’t usually write for more than 3 hours in a day.

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

LI. I often write my very drafty, first drafts in bed, in a half dream state.

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

LI. I write on a lap top, though I have used a full size external keyboard at times.

Wedding Party

Q. Do you have pets? Tell us about them and their names. 

LI. My toy Aussie, Hazel Nut Ibrahim-Bartley, often sits by my desk as I write. She’s 18 months olold and we LOVE her. She enjoys laying on our legs, playing fetch and running in big wide circle on grass.

Q. Do you enjoy writing in other forms (playwriting, poetry, short stories, etc.)?
If yes, tell us about it.

LI. I enjoy making visual art, but not other forms of writing, so far. Though when COVID first struck I wrote a poem for the first (and so far only) time.

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

LI. Create routines that work for you, and know why you are writing in the first place. I find if I’m sitting at my keyboard and nothing is coming out then I’m not working on the right story for me.

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

LI. With the Yellow Crocus series, I am continuing with the descendants of the characters in the first book. With the other two, Living Right and Paper Wife, it was a mystery. In many ways all my characters are parts of who I am, or who I wish I aspire be.

Rome

Q. What first inspired you to write?

LI. I was very surprised when I got the call to write a story. In 1998 I had a flash that conceived Yellow Crocus. Before that flash, I had no desire to write fiction. I was with a group of people talking about Tiger Woods. Someone mentioned the fact that he identifies as Asian as much as African American….

Join us for part two of this interview with this wonderful writer on June 16th
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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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Interview with Victoria Costello (conclusion)

Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up?

VC. My new book comes out on June 13, 2023, and I couldn’t be more excited to bring it to readers. As mentioned, it evolved from the true story of my tragedy-plagued Irish American family I told in A Lethal Inheritance, but with me giving myself permission to ask, What if? What if the youngest family members dared to confront and reverse this legacy of violence and madness? The result is Orchid Child, a mix of history and fantasy inspired by Celtic folklore, along with science, and bits of mystery and romance. It’s a story told in three voices, one per generation, over a century.
Teague is the novel’s orchid child, who hears voices and talks to trees, but rarely people. Bullied back home in New York, he finds validation when his Aunt Kate takes him to West Ireland, where neo-Druids identify his strange perceptions as the gift of second sight, putting Teague at odds with Kate who sees his mental differences as a medical problem to be fixed.

Kate is the family success story, whose rising star in neuroscience has crashed in a sex scandal. She vows to salvage her career by taking on a study on the epigenetics of family mental illness in a rural Irish county. Only to discover she’s unknowingly come to her ancestral homeland, meaning she’s studying her own genes. As Kate’s research is blocked by hostile locals, Teague drifts further into his pagan fellowship, pushing Kate to confront the limits of science and the power of ancestral ties. Ellen is the apothecary’s daughter who will become Kate’s grandmother. Forced to flee Ireland for New York City after her beloved, also a holder of second sight, is accused of betrayal in the 1920 Irish Rebellion, Ellen lives to her eighties as the matriarch who struggles with the burden she’s accepted to keep the gift alive—until the family wound, past and present, can be healed.
I’m feeling gratified by the early positive reviews, the feeling that the story you’ve slaved over for ten years, is touching people, making them think and have hope when times are tough.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

VC. A weird thing about me is that even as a kid, when I kept a diary, or scribbled poems, I always took my writing seriously. It probably has to do with the fact that I’m a Scorpio and writing has always been my secret life. And that’s probably why it took until this year, when I’ve just turned seventy, to share my most secret story with actual readers around the world.

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

VC. I, for one, love paper books, especially hard cover, fine paper books, but I read e-books and listen to audiobooks more often

for practical reasons. I imagine I’m typical that way. So until we run out of trees, that will probably stay the norm.

Q. What makes a writer great?

VC. Oooh, hard one. Maybe the courage to bare their soul, regardless of what anyone thinks or says. The ability to find the right, and the fewest, words to express the ineffable.

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

VC. It all comes down to perseverance. Orchid Child took ten years from beginning to end. You have to want it more than anything else in your life during that time of writing, revising, querying, and promoting. There may not be room in your life while you have young kids to raise. That’s why I think a lot of women publish later. But I believe our books are richer for it.

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

VC. It’s all there in my writing.

Q. What’s your downtime look like?

Top of Mt. Victoria

VC. Walks with friends in our wonderful downtown Ashland, Lithia Park. Hikes in the hills. Cat play. I really don’t have what you would call hobbies. I eat but I’m not a cook. I read and watch endless Scandinavian and British mysteries, from Shetland to Inspector Morse, I find are the perfect diversion when my mental energies need a rest.

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

VC. Being new to fiction, I’ll stick with it for the time being as my main creative output. I’ve also been writing essays on craft and theory of fiction and especially autofiction.

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

VC. I’m good enough. Pretty enough. Smart enough. Why, oh why, did I, like most women, take so long to learn this? Being enough is wonderful. Try it!

Did you miss the beginning of this interview?
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H.W. ‘Buzz’ Bernard tells us more…Interview (part 2)

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

HWB. Little elves are not going to come in the dark of night and write your book for you. So: BUTT IN CHAIR, FINGERS ON KEYBOARD.

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

HWB. I don’t have a magic formula for that. Since I write historical fiction, some of the characters I run with are real. Many others that I create and plop into historical situations are an amalgam of traits and backgrounds drawn from friends, family, and coworkers I’ve known over the years . . . many years. And a few are just flat out made up.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

HWB. I’m not sure. I always enjoyed reading. Then in high school I discovered I could write pretty well, too, and received some recognition for that. I was also sports editor for the high school newspaper. At the University of Washington, even though I was a physical science major, I took some courses in creative writing and managed to hold my own.

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

HWB. Usually the situation, although I often develop the characters in tandem with the plot. In the end, it’s the characters that carry a story. If you don’t have 3D, believable people in your tale, nobody’s going to care about it.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

HWB. Not really. But I hate to leave a scene unfinished, so I’ll keep plowing through one until it’s complete, or until I find a logical break in it. It’s then I may discover it’s 4:30 in the afternoon, not 3 p.m. like I thought.

Q. What compelled you to choose and settle on the genre you now write in?

HWB. The history of WWII is packed with stunning tales that totally fascinate me. They are stories filled with facts and statistics, and strategies and timelines. But I want to bring these things alive. I want readers to realize that real people, just like them or their friends, lived these dramas. I want folks to pick up my novels and not just read about history, but experience it, live it. I want them to sit beside a pilot on a bombing raid, to experience the mind-numbing shock of discovering a Nazi death camp, to become lost in a Burmese jungle crawling with enemy troops, native headhunters, and blood-sucking leeches. I want my readers to keep turning the pages in my books long after they should have turned off the lights and fallen asleep. Or I want them to tear up because a character they were rooting for didn’t make it . . . or had something surprisingly good happen when all seemed lost.

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

Book signing

HWB. DOWN A DARK ROAD will be released May 9th. It’s a “gut punch of a novel” based on the WWII exploits of a prominent Oregonian, Jim Thayer. You’re side-by-side with Jim when, as a young infantry lieutenant, he and his platoon stumble into the very heart of darkness near the end of the war. The scenes are chilling and unforgettable, and Jim refused to discuss what he had witnessed for decades after. When he finally did, my wife—who had worked for Jim when she was a young girl—was one of the people he talked to. After that, she kept a scrapbook of write-ups about Jim. She showed it to me after our recent marriage (and after Jim’s passing) and insisted there was a great story there. I was reluctant to agree initially, but after further research and getting support from Jim’s family, I saw the light, and DOWN A DARK ROAD was born.

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

HWB. Always have a Plan B, and maybe a C and a D. You’ll need them.

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A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK 

 

Interview with writer, Joshua Hood, writing Robert Ludlum’s newest book

Joshua Hood is an Army vet, former SWAT sniper, and “current full-time author with a beautiful wife and two wonder-kids.”

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, or special space for your writing?  Or tell us about your ‘dream’ workspace.

JH. I have a small office next to a gas station on the historic Collierville Square.

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat workspace, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, a glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)
JH. Can’t think of any.

Q. How do you ‘get inside’ Robert Ludlum’s head and write for him?

JH. Besides his books, I spent time reading articles and watching interviews.

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

JH. I almost quit writing last year, but the hardware store I wanted to work at wasn’t hiring. And no, I’m not kidding.

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

JH. I use a white board and a legal pad for each book.

Q. Do you have pets? Tell us about them and their names. 

JH. I have a Chocolate Lab named Meg.

Q. Do you enjoy writing in other forms (playwriting, poetry, short stories, etc.)?
If yes, tell us about it.

JH. I writing articles for gun magazines like Personal Defense World, Tactical Life Soldier of Fortune and Ballistic.

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

JH. Creativity isn’t a vending machine; you can’t just drop in some quarters and hope to come away with a good idea. It takes time. Time to let your ideas incubate and grow. To an outsider this might look like procrastination, but in reality, it’s a process.

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

JH. They just kind of show up during the process.

 

Q. What first inspired you to write?

JH. The summer before junior high I was watching an old James Bond movie called Goldfinger. I remember not wanting it to end and when it did, I started my first short story to try and recapture that magic.

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

JH. The situation.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

A. Yes. I think all writers get lost in the flow.

Join us next week for the conclusion of this interesting interview with Josh.  
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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: 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

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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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

Women of Straw ~~ Book Review

1 out of 5 stars

 

This book was a real disappointment.  The writer has few, next to no, writing skills.

The dialog was average in this book, relying heavily on colloquialisms and platitudes. This writer needs to focus on her dialog writing skills rather than using these crutches. The story is told with “one voice,” and I suspect that voice was the author.
The fact that the uncle was a predator, set loose in a house full of women, was telegraphed way too soon in the storyline.

The POV was jumping around. As frequently as in the next paragraph rather than in a specific time span or the next chapter. I found it very distracting.

The women were too namby-pamby ( regards the uncle), considering that they had survived the father’s death and still maintained the running of their business.

The straw hat-making was the most interesting thing in the story…it should have been the story. And there were a couple of characters that were not fleshed out (developed) and should have been.  

I try very hard to read books I know will win a great review.  As my mission is always to lift up and support other writers.  Couldn’t do it this time, sorry! 
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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