Thursday, March 31, 2011
Just because I've been published in several media, the final goal--as I keep repeating--is developing a readership. Developing a readership is an ongoing and scary process for me, as it involves talking to people and asking them to buy something from me, something they may not like. And I hate to disappoint people out of their hard-earned cash. I love my stories, but I realize that every reader prefers a particular style, whether fiction, non-fiction, poetry, short stories, or magazines. It's okay. I'm quite an eclectic reader; I have preferences, but the book clubs and review sites I belong to force me to expand my horizons. I learned I don't necessarily care for dog stories, but had a tear at the end of Marley and Me, which I never would have picked up; missed out on reading The Other Wes Moore when the book club last month didn't have a copy and I didn't want to buy one. I still attended and was able to participate in the discussion because I researched the book.
I submitted one of my stories to a small press and got turned down fairly quickly; I submitted to an agent and hope that the fact I didn't get a form reject means something; I'm about to send a project to Black Lyon today after getting an okay from the publisher. See--here is where being published means nothing; in fact it almost hurts my chances of getting more contracts because my sales figures are putrid. So, I'm trying to learn more about helping myself out in that department, but it's excruciating. I'm also writing short stories, and sent another to Harpstring for the May edition; will let you know, and one to ShortStoryAmerica.
And...looks like the kitty escaped the bag--Meander Scar is up for a Grace Award - wasnt' supposed to tell until Monday. Announcements in May. I'm shocked, truly, that I got enough votes, and also learned I'm up against respected friends.
I also met with Darla and Dawn at the Random Lake Library to introduce ourselves and brainstorm about upcoming workshops and sales ops. What are your best tips for selling your books?
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Awakening by JoAnn Durgin
JoAnn Durgin's debut novel, Awakening, is a romance to tickle your fancy, keep your pulse hopping and your hands busy turning pages.
Lexa Clarke wants to satisfy an elusive longing to do the right thing. Sam Lewis tried love once, but it didn't work very well, so he figures he's done looking. He might have been done looking, but it found him anyway, and with the most inconvenient timing – right in the middle of his eight-week TeamWork Christian work camp rebuilding houses on the Texas coast after a hurricane.
Lexa, a citified financial professional, takes a big chance with her job when she takes a two-month leave to try to scratch her itchy conscience and make a difference in the world. How better than to help people make a new start after the hurricane? She picks TeamWork and moves to San Antonio for the summer, realizing the organization is Christian, but not undertanding what an impact the people and the experience would have. Sam is also a financial professional, successful in his own right, from a large loving family, and faithful from the crown of his Stetson to the tips of his cowboy boots. From the start, Lexa is a problem child; one who rattles his cage and makes him step back and look at his well-practiced faith from a fresh angle. Lexa learns not only how to wield a hammer and how to be useful in a group setting, she finds that elusive joy through faith she's been missing her whole life.
Lexa and Sam's relationship is tested through the camp setting, and through a strange twist of a scary intruder bent on hurting one of the other TeamWork members. As Sam and Lexa work out this problem together, they grow in faith and love. Sam, however, finds a new calling that Lexa can't share. Will their love withstand a separation?
JoAnn's story is filled with lots of good kissing and intense moments of danger and high emotion. She describes her settings so faithfully that you feel like you're there. Lovers of romantic stories set in wonderful locations like San Antonio will truly enjoy this story.
I read this on Kindle!
Saturday, March 26, 2011
The Road to Deer Run
c. March 2010
Colony. Red Coats. Continental Army. Well, we know who didn’t win, but now we have another story behind the scenes. And the best part is that The Road to Deer run is based on family history. Massachusetts
The Thomsen family has already lost husband and father, a young brother to the ravages of hostile environment and the Revolution; another brother is currently serving in the war effort. Widow Ruth Thomsen is left to run her farm with the help of her eldest and youngest daughters. Deer Run settlers are a close-knit community, and the widow is also a healer and midwife. When Mary Thomsen makes a disturbing discovery on the family property, she must decide whether or not to keep the secret.
Daniel Lowe is a young Lieutenant in his majesty’s forces, wounded and taken prisoner after the loss at the Battle of Saratoga. Daniel’s physical wound is secondary to the loss of his young brother, who had died in his arms. Daniel accepted his fate when a Continental saber threatened to end his life, but Daniel’s life was spared. As a prisoner, the lieutenant attempted to keep his fellow soldiers’ spirits up on the terrible march to Boston, even knowing his festering gunshot wound would end his life sooner than later. Hoping for a lonely place to crawl off and die, Daniel takes advantage of a distraction and escapes…or so he thinks. He may not only lose his leg, but also his heart to a lovely American woman.
It doesn’t take long for Daniel to appreciate the cause of the Americans and for Mary to give him her heart.
Told in a dynamic flowing omniscient voice, Cooper’s story unfolds with the coziness of a family hearthside story. The fact that she based this lovely little story on her own family history makes it that much more precious. Well-done research and interesting farming and government details make The Road to Deer Run a very sweet historical love story.
She's got a pretty cool trailer on her web site too!
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
March 15, 2011
From the publisher: Kristin Taylor wants to go to Vietnam to report on the war, and honor her father’s memory by becoming an award-winning journalist like he was, as well as to keep tabs on her brother who's in service. But no editor will send her. So she strikes out on her own and steps into a world more terrifying than she’d imagined. When she meets photographer Luke Maddox, Kristin knows she’s found a story. With war raging all around them, they engage in their own tumultuous battle of emotions and private agendas. Kristin is after a story that might get her the Pulitzer. Luke wants retribution from the enemy that took away his family. In the face of death, Kristin and Luke must decide if they’re willing to set aside selfish ambition for the love that seems to have ambushed them and captured their hearts.
My review: I intended to take this book in chunks, but when I reached my first self-imposed stopping point, I ignored it. Yesterday's Tomorrow is so compelling that I had to keep turning pages. Delicious characters who live so fully that they allow themselves to get filthy and face evil and temptation from friends as well as obvious foes will make you remember them for a long time. Cathy's story isn't about women's rights, although the late sixties in America is a testing time. The character of Kristin isn't out to prove that a woman can do a war-time correspondent job; she's out to prove that she has an eye for a story like no one else. A chance meeting with international journalists gives Kristin a roommate in Saigon; the roommate has a brother who's a mysterious photo-journalist. Although Kristin has defied her mother and her boss to go to Vietnam, she quickly grows up, finds the right connections and the chance to write the story of a lifetime on the unspoken role of the US government behind the scenes. Luke lives fast and recklessly, and when he and Kristen are thrown together as a team for Life magazine, they share secrets that bind them long after the war is over.
I remember all those messed-up soldiers coming home. I was in junior high and very impressionable, and lived through some pretty gruesome aftereffects in our neighborhood, including the stabbing of a neighbor's wife. As I read the book I wondered if Cathy had lived through the era, and found out later that she had researched well. The book is so complex in that Cathy touches on women's rights, racism, espionage, the fallout of war on orphans, temptation and the aftermath, besides a raw faith element. All of the beautiful ingredients create a rich and sensuously satisfying meal. She also has a great book trailer.
When I first received this book for review, I read the opening and part of the first chapter, then went to check out the author. I still have trouble believing that this is Cathy's debut novel. I read a lot of books for review and I rarely give raves, but this book is rave-worthy. For readers who like thought-provoking, gritty, death-defying and fast-paced realism in their recent history entertainment, or for those who just want a taste of what it was like for people going through this devastating time in American history, Yesterday's Tomorrow will satisfy you for the moment and stay with you long afterward.
Monday, March 21, 2011
Left at the Altar
By Kimberly Kennedy
Kennedy's story was not a familiar one, despite it being told several times by Diane Sawyer. Kennedy attempts to make lemonade out of the tragedy of being a 35-year-old fiancé whose wedding was interrupted on the rehearsal night when the groom-to-be backed out. The true story begins in chapter five when Kennedy is able to finally step back and take an objective look at herself and the relationship. Along the way, she realizes what commitment means, and the places in her life that were empty because of the damaging way she treated others and herself.
Kennedy interviewed a few other women who shared their stories about being abandoned at crucial moments, as well as men who shared some of the reasons of their need and timing of backing out of relationships. The author presented a brief sketch of traditional grief and ten lessons she'd learned in the process of recovering from the huge blow to her ego and psyche, and ten pieces of advice for those who undergo similar situations.
While I'm not familiar with Kennedy, local television personality from Atlanta GA, I believe that people who might not otherwise pick up a book about a faith revival, this book is also a personal testimony to the power of God's healing spirit. Left at the Altar would make a good gift book for a friend or loved one who's suffered a loss and has questions and doubts of self-worth and faith.
I received a copy of this book for review purposes.
I admit it - I'm really a fantasy junkie. Not truly hardcore, but enough to qualify as pleasant escapism. Since I began reviewing books a few years ago, I'm asked what I really like to read. I'll go for the sci fi/fantasy new books shelf first in the library. Then I check out the latest thrillers, and I have read exceptionally gory ones, but have lately come to adore Steven James. Still like Ludlum, though. Learning to like Irene Hannon. Since joining a couple book clubs I've been forced out of my element to reading some non-fiction. Still "eh" for me; I like escapism, I repeat.
I received a copy in a contest from the publisher of Alpha Redemption by PA Baines through Splashdown Books, an down-under publisher with Grace Bridges. It's also the selection of the month for the ACFW book club going on right now - hop on over to join the fun. I saw the first question come through the loop yesterday and thought I'd read a couple chapters to keep up. Yeah, three hours later, and change, the story was over. I love moments like that.
Part Best of Robert Heinlein, maybe a smattering of Clarke, with the good old days of Ray Bradbury--I love stories like this. Take a regular guy with nothing to lose, experiment on him and see what happens. Stick in an AI with the capabilities of expanding beyong its original parameters, and let it choose what to be, and let them hash it out.
We were talking about the importance of setting at a writer's workshop last Saturday, and someone mentioned what if the book was set in one house? Another person mentioned reading a book set entirely in a stuck elevator car. Alpha Remption is stuck in a space ship. Author Baines uses incredibly sophisticated stroy-telling technique of telling present time backward through the eyes of Brett, our astro-not hero, interwoven with the real time forward on a several-year journey to Alpha Centauri. The ship, Comet, is run completely on automatic by AI. Brett spends time in a liquid-goo tub for protective periods of faster-than-light speed, and a month's down time to recover. During these month-long intervals, Brett begins to encourage the AI to develop a personality. It's not as silly as one might think, as Brett's back story is crucial.
I kept coming up with "Oh, I know what'll happen" several times while reading. I did not choose to skip to the end this time (Bad habit, but it's Mine), and was thoroughly pleased with the author's conclusion. I look forward to the book club discussion!
Friday, March 18, 2011
Give the Lady a Ride
By Linda Yezak
Contemporary western romance
From the publisher: Patricia Talbert is a high-class social coordinator from New York. Talon Carlson is a rugged bull rider from Texas. He thinks she’s too polished. She thinks he’s insane.
Opposites aren’t quick to attract when the lady who enters the cowboy’s world is on a mission to sell the ranch. But a box of letters changes her mind and her heart.
Opposites aren’t quick to attract when the lady who enters the cowboy’s world is on a mission to sell the ranch. But a box of letters changes her mind and her heart.
So I'm a sucker for westerns, what can I say with Zane Grey as one of my favorite authors. I fell in love with Linda's as yet unnamed story when it first crossed my desk. Already polished, I often forgot to edit as I read, which is something that rarely happens to me even with big-name publishers.
Talon (doncha love the name, but there's a reason for it, which you'll have to find for yourself), was left in charge of a Texas spread after Jake and Loretta, the owners, passed on. Leader of a rag-tag group of cowboys, he's waiting on Jake's will, hoping to be named the new owner since Jake and Loretta had practically raised him. When Jake's lawyer mentioned that Jake had left the place to a distant relative, who turned out to be a big-city socialite, Talon is devastated. Even more so when the hoity-toity young lady, senator's daughter Patricia, lets him know the place is for sale.
The cowboy's a man of faith, whereas the socialite hasn't had much time to spare for religion. When Patricia sees her first rodeo, all the horse-back riding lessons, and even a long-forgotten visit to the ranch, come flooding back. This ranch lifestyle tugs at her, and is much more appealing than the brittle glitter of New York. Talon might have an ulterior motive for convincing the lady to stay so that he can convince her not to sell; and Patricia a not-so-subtle reason for asking for bull-riding lessons, but they soon realize they're smitten with each other.
I love the behind-the-scenes looks Linda adds to the story to make bull-riding and rodeos and ranch life feel natural and alluring. In my mind those touches, along with appealing characters and heart-felt, heartstring-tugging romance makes Give the Lady a Ride a very sweet read indeed.
Bound by Guilt
2011 March Tyndale Fiction
General Christian fiction
From the publisher: Roxy Gold is a throwaway, shuttled from one foster home to another. She longs for a family and will do anything to fit in.
CJ Darlington's sophomore novel avoids the slump. Completely. In fact, I liked Bound by Guilt much better than Thicker than Blood. Bound by Guilt has a more-rounded feel, a better linear story line and complete characters who participate fully in the narration.
Readers plunge into the seamy world of tramp life looking to take advantage of others right from the opening paragraphs. How could two teenagers become so lost and so troubled by their actions? One has been taken from a negligent mother and passed around like a hot potato; the other raised by a single doting mother. Related by blood only, Bound by Guilt is a very smooth transition from Thicker than Blood, using peripheral characters to create a sense of familiarity while devising a whole new story. Roxy is a sixteen-year-old girl who, contrasted with police office Abby Dawson's same-aged daughter, has nothing and no one to lean on or love, except for her second cousin Diego and his mother, Irene. The Tonelli's live by white collar crime, claiming not to really hurt anyone. When those conditions change, Roxy's conscience takes her on a God-directed journey toward all her heart's desires. That same guilt, however, must have closure and eventually her secret is discovered.
Abby Dawson has reason to hunt down Irene and Diego and Roxy. Although suspended on an unrelated incident, Abby uses her cop influence to sift through clues that lead her to her brother's killer. Things are not what they seem, however, when Abby catches up to Roxy. Bitterness, hardness of heart and guilt all come to a head as no one gets what she or he expects.
I can smell the dust and ancient ink, hear the crackle of pages and creak of bindings as CJ skillfully unrolls her story. Heartache, tissues, anger, relief, and remorse will be your constant companions as you read Bound by Guilt. CJ's style has definitely matured and I look forward to more from this talented young woman.
Catch an interview with CJ at The Barn Door on March 23.