Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Written by ten-year-old Theresa Seidltz, Countdown to Christmas tells the story of her family's Christmas tradition. Each night from the first of December, the family sings, Come of Come Emmanuel, reads a Bible story, and hangs an ornament on their small tree. The ornaments bear the likeness of the person the story is about. As the family progresses through the Bible from Adam and Eve, to Abraham and Sarah, Saul and David, and Jesus, the tree becomes adorned with the people who helped shape Judaism and Christianity.
The stories in the book are short, each being one page. They're suitable for an adult to read to younger children, but older children could read them for themselves or read them aloud to younger brothers and sisters. Each story is accompanied by a drawing introducing the characters. At the end of the book, the family places the final ornament for Jesus and sings Silent Night. The paper ornaments are included in the book and could be used for many years.
I highly recommend this book. It's a good way for families to be together to enjoy the religious aspects of the Christmas season. It's also a good time for parents and children to talk about the Bible stories and what they mean in their own lives.
I received this book from PR by the Book for a review.
The book is available from Amazon,com
Thursday, October 8, 2015
Elia, a lit student, is infatuated with Cameron Beck's masterpiece, Secrets of Odysseus. The book is a compilation of poems Beck wrote to his mysterious muse, but no one knows who she is. Elia is determined to find out. She desperately wants to know what love is and Cameron seems to have the answer.
In a coffee house one night before the end of term, she thinks she hears Beck read a new poem. The poem is left behind when the poet vanishes. Elia rescues it and now is determined to find Beck. The search leads her to a remote Caribbean Island. The islanders have befriended Beck and resent the stranger's intrusion, but she persists.
This love story is told from several perspectives. Elia is the protagonist in the present day, but we also see Cameron. In the past, we see him and his lost love. Usually, I find stories told in two time periods don't work well. However, in this case with the secret of lost love as the thread holding the story together, it works well.
Elia is a delightfully naive character. She is desperately searching for the meaning of love, but she is also capable of determination to see her adventure through to completion. Beck is a more nebulous character. We glimpse his total infatuation with his lover, but in the present day he is more subdued yet willing to part with his secret to the right person.
The characters who inhabit the island: Isabella, the island matriarch, Fatty, the medical doctor with a drug habit, Paco, the cantina owner, and Falcon, the pilot, are extremely well drawn. Each is unique and each fits the setting perfectly. They were some of the best parts of the book.
If you enjoy an adventure wrapped in a romance, you'll enjoy this book.
I reviewed this book for PR by the Book.
What inspired you to write The Poet’s Secret?
At the time I wrote The Poet’s Secret, I was on a personal pilgrimage. I essentially took a threeyear sabbatical, sort of an adult “time out,” and embarked on a new path. I dedicated myself to explore the meaning of life and love and particularly the arc of passion. I became consumed by the idea of living in the present, honoring the “now” as the only real moment in time, the only authentic eternity, which allowed me to both disconnect and connect like never before and let go of the constructs of past and future as fictions created by the mind. I gained a new appreciation for relatively brief moments and encounters as having potentially profound effects. I was living abroad, reading, writing, surfing and slowing down my existence.
The tale that became The Poet’s Secret was conceived in a hovel perched atop a onetable taverna in the hillside village of Avdou, just a scooter ride from the blue waters of the Aegean Sea on the island of Crete. I was sequestered alone, halfway around the world from my home, and recovering from a life, and a relationship, that had left me hollow, or at least I thought at the time. But it turned out words kept flowing out of me, first in raw, chunky verse that faintly resembled poetry and then in images and scenes that bore an even fainter resemblance to a novel. For months I wrote, swam in healing waters and disappeared into this remote, antiquated Greek village. I had never done anything like that before, but at the time it was the only existence that made any sense.
So many miracles happened during those months. I experienced a cleansing, a healing and an awakening, and I began to perceive light and water and imagery and words and the souls around me like never before. I eventually returned to California, and then traveled to Bali, Mexico, Costa Rica, Thailand, Cambodia and South America, following the sea and surf with laptop in hand and continuing to write. The backstory to writing The Poet’s Secret is a story in itself.
How did you select the locations for the novel?
It was tempting to set the bulk of the novel in Greece, a country I adore. However, as the story evolved the compass for the island setting spun toward the West Indies, and the story’s life raft washed ashore on the fictional island of Mataki. I was fortunate to spend a good part of my sabbatical on tropical islands and coastal villages that certainly informed the setting. As for the early campus setting, I based it on a fictionalized version of my beloved alma mater, The Ohio State University.
What was your particular process in terms of plot, outlining and character?
I essentially began the novel with two scenes that were haunting me. First, I had a reclusive poet on a remote island cliff about to attempt suicide. Second, I had a bookish young woman captured within the confines of the great romances of literature. I really had no idea about their connection, if any, but those two images would not let go of me. As I began to write, the concept of the woman yearning for what nearly kills the poet began to take hold.
The process was fairly organic. I let the characters breathe and lead me into the story. I wasn’t even sure whose story it was until shortly after the first draft. Once the closing scene appeared to me I realized that it was really Elia’s story. I then just had to navigate getting there. While I did not develop any formal outline, I downloaded scenes as they appeared, stockpiled them and later wove them in when they seemed to make sense. It was a bit like swimming across a sea, not sure which direction land might be but hoping that if I kept going I would eventually find my way.
Stumbling, a bit blindly, through this creative process was both exasperating and exhilarating. As I was working on revisions, I attended several writers’ conferences that stressed the necessity of thorough plotting, which made me feel a tad vulnerable. I later read an interview about Michael Ondaatje’s process in writing The English Patient and realized I was in good company.
The novel is filled with excerpts of poetry, which came first, the poetry or the narrative arc?
Most of the poetry was written before any narrative took form. The poetry came in often painful and soulsearching flourishes, and then was revised over time. There is a line in The Poet’s Secret where Dean Baltutis refers to the poet’s inspiration being “survival.” That is precisely how it felt at times. I also wanted to combine both poetry and prose into one novel and attempt to slow down the reader a bit at the beginning of each chapter to contemplate and absorb the poetry, to be in that moment so to speak, before continuing on the narrative journey.
What in particular surprised you about the process of writing The Poet’s Secret?
I didn’t want to force plot twists or preconceived outcomes. I let the characters find the story. I let go of expectations and trusted the story to evolve. Tapping into this creative process was freeing, exhilarating and challenging, sort of like jumping off a cliff into the sea for the first time. I had never done anything quite like it, but this particular process for me felt authentic. I certainly was surprised how well the early drafts of the poetry and manuscript were received, which bolstered my confidence to pursue the project through publication.
Water imagery is abundant throughout the novel, what is the particular connection for you with water and particularly with respect to this novel?
I was thrown onto a swim team at age 8 even before I passed beginners swim lessons (I was terrible at the back float). But water soon became my life and in many ways my salvation. Throughout my youth I swam, played water polo, lifeguarded and hung around Lake Erie in northeastern Ohio. Somehow, I didn’t even see an ocean until I was 18. But I recall climbing out of the backseat of a Datsun 210 hatchback (or what they claimed to be a backseat) after driving for twentytwo hours to Ft. Lauderdale for spring break and telling my college buddies to just pick me up in a few hours. I was mesmerized. I sprinted into the Atlantic Ocean and swam and bodysurfed until dark. Today, I surf or swim almost every day. I feel like I am about eighty percent water, the remaining twenty percent made up mostly of curiosity and mischief.
Much of the water in the universe is said to be a byproduct of star formation. I’m no scientist, but I like the way that sounds. Because when I look up at the night stars it feels a lot like gazing west an hour before the sun dips into the sea, at least at my secret little spot by the water. Flickering diamonds scatter everywhere along the surface, and if I squint just right, I forget the sea is even there. Instead, it looks like a galaxy of stars shimmering right into me, washing across my heart, reflecting off my smile and filling me with the belief that I can just float away into the universe. So I often do.
Spiritually, water often represents purification and healing. To me, water represents so many things, perhaps most importantly love and life and the sacred feminine. I once nearly died underwater while surfing in Uluwatu, a place few have ever heard of and even fewer have visited. But I know on so many occasions water has saved me, water has healed me, and water has reset my compass when I have been spinning in some uncontrollable vortex. So for me, my life and my love seem to be tied to returning to the great aquatic source, again and again, maybe just to fill the chasm that still exists in me, and maybe to some degree still exists in all of us.
I have been fortunate to swim with sea turtles and dolphins in the wild on many occasions. When I stare into the eyes of a sea turtle or a dolphin I cannot help but believe that they understand this great aquatic connection, a connection beyond humanity, beyond species, beyond even the stars. So when I am writing about passion, heartbreak, healing, life and love, it is only natural for me to write in a particularly aquatic language and style.
Sunday, October 4, 2015
Jules Landeau is a private investigator, although both his father and grandfather were in the mob. He's mostly playing it straight, but his knowledge of the criminal underworld helps when an ex-con, Eddie, hires him to search for Tanya, his missing girl friend.
Jules is reluctant to take on the case. Eddie is newly released from prison, and he's an unpleasant character. But Jules is a sucker for a Jersey boy who wants to find his lost love. After searching through Chicago's North side, Jules realizes that the case is not as simple as finding the girl. A valuable French wine and a dirty Jersey cop complicate the case. After plenty of twists, Jules succeeds with a surprising ending.
If you like stories featuring tough investigators, the mob, and a convoluted plot, this is your kind of book. The Chicago background is a perfect setting for the hunt for the missing girl.
I enjoyed the book, but thought there were almost too many characters. Once Jules leaves Chicago for New Jersey the plot twists come fast and more characters complicate the action. Although I found the subplot with the expensive wine engrossing, it seemed like a detour from the major action until about halfway through the book. The other problem with the book for me was that the character motivation seemed thin. This was particularly true of Margot and Doug, the owners of the wine.
I recommend this book if you like a fast paced mystery with plenty of twists.
I reviewed this book for Net Galley.
Around West Wacker Drive and Orleans Street, the Chicago River forked north-northwest, roughly parallel to busy Clybourn Avenue, which served as an excellent boundary to neighborhoods I thought might accommodate a nice wine bar. Webster Avenue ran through one of those neighborhoods and when I saw the Auvergnat Vin Bar, I slowed down before parking across the street, at Pâtisserie GrenouilleA violin-playing frog dressed as a maître d’, and standing on a hunk of Camembert, graced its window.
A black Porsche SUV with the license plate VINMSTR was parked in front of the Vin Bar. Although a wine tasting wasn’t scheduled until four, the door was unlocked, which I took as an invitation to enter. The venue reeked of country cottage schmaltz. Large paintings of sweeping Rhône sunsets and Loire Valley vineyards covered the walls. Antique wooden cabinets and wine racks hung from exposed brick. A few tiny shelves of distressed wood blended in perfectly despite holding pamphlets advertising something called a “wine equity trust.”
Behind the bar, a man carefully arranged a row of sidecar cocktail carafes. Near him, a gangly redheaded kid, who looked too young to be legally standing behind a bar, held a small spiral-bound notebook while studying a row of glass stemware, each holding a different shade of red wine. Standing in front of the bar, a man wearing a full-length black apron garnished with a stickpin of gold grapes looked thoughtfully over tables covered with bottles, glasses, and menus. He was tall with thick, black wavy hair, and his nose was slender and shiny. Around his neck hung a small silver saucer attached to a chain. I was practically in his face before he glanced at me and said, “Can I help you?”
“I’m sorry, I guess you’re not open yet. But your door was unlocked.”
“Yes, we don’t mind if people curious about wine wander in. Unfortunately, the Provence tasting doesn’t start for another hour.”
“What’s a wine equity trust?” I said.
Grape Man looked me over. Then he kind of shook his head a few times with a look of utter confusion. “Sorry. Who are you exactly?”
“I’m looking for a girl named Tanya Maggio. I was told she works here.” I showed him my investigator’s license.
“My god, you’re serious.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
Grape Man let out a laugh-snort. “I’ve just never met a private eye before. I thought you guys only existed in the movies.”
“Next time, I’ll wear an overcoat and fedora. Do you know Tanya?”
“I’ve never known anyone named Tanya, and she certainly doesn’t work here.”
“What about the other staff members? Maybe they knew her before you arrived?”
Grape Man snorted again. “Ahhhh—no. None of them arrived before me. I hired them all—stole them all, some say. Only people with a proven background and education in serving and tasting wine can work here.”
“Any other fancy wine bars on the North Side, near the river?”
Grape Man’s face lit up. “Any wine north of here along the river is poured from a cardboard box into a plastic cup.” A hearty laugh. I was the perfect straight man. “I put this place out of its misery six months ago.”
“You’re the owner?”
“Six months ago. That’s what I just said.”
I wondered how long this guy would last in Eddie’s world before someone shoved that pin down his throat. “And the poor huddled masses that made up the staff of the previous miserable establishment? All fled from the black-caped wine taster with the silver spoon around his neck?”
Grape Man gave me a savage look. “I hold diplomas from the Court of Master Sommeliers, the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, and the Institute of Masters of Wine. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to let you walk into my wine bar and insult me.” As he continued describing my disrespectful behavior, I put a card on the bar, then bowed deeply as I backed away.
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Review: A Family Tragedy Intersects a National Emergency
Wes Avery, a tail gunner during WWII, is a good man. He loves his wife and daughter and works hard at his Texaco Station not far from McCoy Air Force base near Orlando, Florida. His wife, Sarah, has not been the same since her hysterectomy. Now with an approaching hurricane, she is withdrawing from reality and popping pills.
Wes Avery, a tail gunner during WWII, is a good man. He loves his wife and daughter and works hard at his Texaco Station not far from McCoy Air Force base near Orlando, Florida. His wife, Sarah, has not been the same since her hysterectomy. Now with an approaching hurricane, she is withdrawing from reality and popping pills.
His daughter Charlotte is in her senior year of high school. She's caught up in being selected as a member of the homecoming court and falling in love with Emilio, a Cuban refugee boy. Avery likes the boy well enough, but Sarah doesn't want Charlotte associating with him. This creates tension in the family and raises the specter of the family secret.
As if the approaching hurricane weren't enough, Avery notices the buildup of aircraft, including U2 stealth aircraft, at McCoy. This is the start of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Everyone is worried, but it affects Sarah especially.
The description of Florida at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis is excellent. For anyone alive at the time, it will bring back memories; for younger people, it provides a glimpse of what life was like at the time.
Wes Avery, the main character, is well done. He's struggling with a family situation he doesn't understand, trying to manage his gas station, and keep his fear for his family in check. The other characters, Sarah and Charlotte, felt sketchy. Sarah is a fairly typical wife and mother caught in the trap of too many pills and a harrowing time. Charlotte makes only fleeting appearances except for the beginning and end.
I enjoyed the book for the glimpse of history and recommend it for that reason. Some of the plot didn't work for me. The family secret seemed to be dragged in at the end, and the conclusion wasn't satisfying.
I reviewed this book for BantamDell.
McCarthy on the Writing Process:
I guess my “writing process” is a holdover from when my two sons were young and my writing time was bookended by school drop offs and pickups. I was then, and still am, a morning person, which by default makes me a morning writer. These days, I brew strong coffee and attempt, by the end of the first cup, to have conquered the daily Sudoku in The LA Times. I carry my second cup to my desk and check emails, answering only those that can’t wait till the afternoon. Then I write, sometimes well, sometimes not, for three to four hours every day. What’s important—I know this from years of experiment and experience—is keeping my butt in the chair and my fingers moving on the keyboard till the good stuff shows up. Early or late, it eventually shows up. I break for lunch, always, and then edit afterward in the afternoon. I should probably cop to the fact that my morning process often begins the night before when, head on my pillow, I send a message to my subconscious about what I hope and need to accomplish writing-wise the next day, and I ask for any assistance available. More often than not, the answer is there when I wake up. I’m not always writing historical fiction, by the way. I also do a fair amount of commercial freelance writing, too. Gotta pay the bills between pub dates, you know? Alas.
About the Author:
Susan Carol McCarthy is the award-winning author of three novels, Lay That Trumpet in Our Hands, True Fires, and A Place We Knew Well, and the nonfiction Boomers 101: The Definitive Collection. Her debut novel received the Chautauqua South Fiction Prize and has been widely selected by libraries and universities for their One Book, One Community and Freshman Year Read programs. A native Floridian, she lives in Carlsbad, California.
Sunday, August 30, 2015
AFTERMATH LOUNGE is a compelling tribute to the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Resurrecting the place and its people alongside their heartaches and triumphs, Margaret McMullan creates a riveting mosaic that feeds our wish to understand what it means to be alive in this day and age.
The devastation and heartbreak caused by Hurricane Katrina are in the past, but the people affected by the tragic events are still living with the aftermath. The Zimmer's house was gutted by the storm. They were forced to move in with their daughter and her son, Teddy, in Chicago. The hurricane changed their lives, but being forced to live together changed them even more.
The Zimmers are only one of the families whose stories are told in this collection of short stories. However, their's is the thread that holds the collection together. It's a story of bravery, and growing, and giving in. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting this family.
The collection of stories captures the triumphs and tragedies that resulted from this terrible event. The author does an excellent job of making the people come alive. Although I'm not familiar with the Gulf Coast. I felt that I came to know the area and the people.
I usually prefer novels to short stories, but the combination of short stories with a continuing set of characters made the book very satisfying. I think the vignettes showing how lives were affected at various positions on the socio-economic spectrum was a very effective way to bring the story of what happened to people after Katrina to life.
I highly recommend this book. If you're a survivor of the hurricane, it's a must read. If you love well done glimpses of people's lives, you'll enjoy this book.
I reviewed this book for PR by the Book.
Author Q & A:
1.Aftermath Lounge honors the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Can you tell us about your experience during those days when the storm hit?
Shortly after the storm hit, my husband and I drove down from Evansville, Indiana to Pass Christian, Mississippi. We saw aerial footage of the town and we could see that the roof on my parents’ house was mostly intact – that’s all we could see. We brought water and a lot of supplies to donate. There was a gas shortage then, and limited cell phone coverage. The closer we came to the town, the more it became like a war zone. The National Guard was there to keep people away, but we got through, thanks to a relative.
The night before we left, my mother told us to forget about everything else -- all she really wanted was the painting of her mother, which had been smuggled out of Vienna during WWII. We had house keys but there were no doors. When we got there, the house was gutted – the storm surge had essentially ripped through the house.
We put on rubber gloves and spent the day sifting through the debris, dragging out any salvageable pieces of furniture. The water had shoved through the closed shutters, plowed up under the foundation and tore open the back walls, bashing around the furniture, sinks, toilets, stoves, washers, driers.
We never did find the painting.
Elizabeth Bishop wrote a wonderful villanelle called “One Art.” She wrote about losing small items like keys and an hour badly spent, then she progresses to the greater losses -- her mother’s watch, a house, cities, rivers, a continent, and finally, a loved one. “The art of losing isn’t hard to master,” she starts. “So many things seem filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster.” I thought of that poem a lot.
2.Your family played a key role, helping Pass Christian rebuild. What were a few moments that influenced you during that time?
We saw so many people from all walks of life and they were suddenly homeless. My father organized financial donations. There were no fire trucks left after the storm, so he made sure Pass Christian got a fire truck. We were always big supporters of the library too. The Pass Christian Policemen had stayed during the storm to make sure everyone was safe. They had tried to stay safe in the library, but then when the water rose, they had to shoot out the windows to swim away to safety. I used that information in the title story of Aftermath Lounge. These men were real heroes.
3.Did you know from the moment the storm hit that someday you would write a novel about it? Or did a later experience give you the idea? If so, what was it?
At first I just witnessed. I think that’s what writers do mostly. We witness. Then the material lets us know what it wants to become. I just took notes. Later stories started taking shape and they were all in different voices. It was the only way I could work at this material.
4.Part of your inspiration for the novel came from your family's beautiful mansion. How did your own experiences in that house shape each of the stories you wrote?
Well, it’s hardly a mansion, but I was surprised to discover just how much a house could mean. Everyone always says it’s just stuff, but there were so many collective memories there. When we stood and looked at everything so undone, it felt like our times spent there were gone too.
Katrina had such a huge impact on the coast, on my family, and on me. I am always telling my students to write what they most care about, to write what keeps them up at night. I had to write about Katrina. I had written about the Civil War, Reconstruction and WWII, so I saw Katrina as an historical event. I treated the hurricane more as setting. It’s in the background. The human drama is in the forefront. I’m always interested in what people do or don't do in the face of real catastrophe. I didn’t want to write from one point of view either. I wanted to give voice to a variety of people because Katrina affected everyone.
5.What was your writing process like for this novel? Did you know from the start it would be a novel in stories? Or did that become apparent only after you began writing?
There were so many news stories coming out at the time. I write nonfiction, but I couldn’t get my thoughts together. I couldn’t make sense of anything. Out of habit, I took a lot of notes. I could only deal with writing about all that was happening a little bit at a time. And my own personal story just wasn’t that interesting.
I personally witnessed and experienced the best in human nature. People and communities came together and helped one another in the most meaningful way. They endured with a great deal of kindness and grace. So I chipped away at the material. I wanted to tell a community’s story.
About the Author:
Margaret McMullan is the author of seven award-winning novels including In My Mother's House, Aftermath Lounge, Sources of Light, When I Crossed No-Bob, and How I Found the Strong. She also edited the popular anthology Every Father's Daughter. Margaret writes for both adults and young adults, and she is especially interested in how historical events affect ordinary people. Her work has appeared in the The Huffington Post, the Chicago Tribune, Glamour, The Millions, Southern Accents, TriQuarterly, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Greensboro Review, Mississippi Magazine, Other Voices, Boulevard, Ploughshares, Teachers & Writers Magazine, and The Sun among others.
Media Contact: Stephanie Ridge, email@example.com
Thursday, August 27, 2015
In Book 1 of the Resistance Trilogy, Tommy and Careen, college students, meet when a drug to help protect the population from terrorism is passed out. The drug is not what it seems and Tommy and Careen band together to fight the web of lies that is causing the population to become unable to do anything but what the government decrees.
In Book 2, Resist, Tommy and Careen are on the run. They've joined the resistance. Their goal is to rescue a group of dissenters that includes Tommy's parents. As they pursue this goal, they meet other people who think as they do and some who are deceptive. Their relationship is tested when they find they can't agree about everything, but they continue to work through their issues and help the other freedom fighters.
This is a fast paced dystopian thriller. The action begins in the first chapter and continues at a relentless pace throughout the book. Although Tommy and Careen are the main characters, other characters, including those behind the evil, have chapters written in their point of view. This provides a vehicle for giving information about what is happening in the enemy camp, things Tommy and Careen can't know.
I enjoyed the book. The characters are likable and the plot has numerous twists. If you enjoy dystopian novels, you may find this trilogy appealing.
I reviewed this book for PR by the Book.
What was the inspiration behind The Resistance Series?
I was mentoring a friend of my daughter’s when the initial idea for Counteract came about. Chase is a pretty sharp guy and an excellent writer—and when he was in high school I had a lot of fun working with him and editing some of his short stories. We had finished working on a story about baseball, a broken nose, and a broken heart, and were ready to start something new, when he suggested we write scenes in response to the prompt: “What if everyone were on LSD and all thoughts were communal?” It was certainly thought provoking! Chase created the characters Tommy and Eduardo, I created Careen, and right away, we knew we were onto something. Obviously, the story morphed and changed a lot before it became the finished version of Counteract—but that was how it all began.
Did you always plan to write another book in the series?
I let my husband read the first draft of Counteract when I was about a third of the way through the original outline. He was enthusiastic and supportive and suggested developing a story line that could be carried forward if I chose to make Counteract the first in a series.
I liked the idea of doing more than one book about Tommy and Careen, and as I wrote the rest of the first draft, I pinpointed elements of the story I’d need to develop and expand to pave the way for a series.
How do the characters of Tommy and Careen develop in Resist?
Tommy and Careen are law-abiding citizens until they accidentally discover that the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense lied about the terrorist attack and why it mandated the use of the Counteractive System of Defense drug. They go from being accepting and compliant to impulsively joining a rebel group that’s working to overthrow the oppressive government agency, without having a chance to think about what they’re doing and why.
They’ve only known each other for a week, and their relationship has progressed far too quickly—they became a team, then a couple, without really getting to know each other, and soon they realize they don’t have much in common.
Tommy’s all for the physical aspects of revolution, and is eager to learn about guns and explosives. Careen finds kindred spirits among the older leaders of the group, who are committed to sway the public’s allegiance away from the OCSD by waging a war of information. Her pacifistic approach clashes with his need to prove himself on the field of battle, and further complicates their partnership.
Where we can find your book and more information about you?
My books are available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle, and on Barnes & Noble’s online store. If you live near Columbus, Ohio, you can buy signed copies of my books at three independent stores: The Book Loft of German Village, Mary B’s, and Urban Emporium.
You can get the behind-the-scenes scoop on all things Resistance Series, see book trailers, and check out my blog at http://counteractbook.com. You can also find me on Twitter @TracySLawson and on Instagram as TracyLawsonAuthor.
About the Author:
Tracy Lawson is an Award-winning author of two nonfiction books, and The Resistance Series is her first in the world of young adult novels. Tracy lives in Dallas with her husband, daughter and three spoiled cats.
Media Contact: Alessandra Wike, alesandra@prbythe book. com
Saturday, July 18, 2015
Thomas Shawver, author of The Dirty Book Murder and Left Turn at Paradise, returns to the surprisingly lethal world of rare books with a third enthralling novel featuring a most unlikely hero -- antiquarian bookseller Michael Bevan.
A furious man from nearby Independence, Kansas demands that Michael Bevan return a rare first edition of the Book of Mormon, claiming that it was mistakenly sold by a disgruntled descendant of A.J. Stout. Contained on the frontispiece are a list of Ford names dating from 1845 to the present. Beside each name, save the last two, is a check mark - but what could the checks signify? With this discovery, Michael Bevan stumbles onto a trail of hatred and murder stretching back to 1844.
A Mormon Vendetta, A Rare Mormon Book, and Murder A murder in 1844 is the basis for a vendetta. The Mormon Prophet, Joseph Smith, and several of his followers died at the hands of a mob in Carthage, Illinois. Several of the men who escaped the massacre vowed to kill everyone involved down to the last living descendant. Michael Bevan, a rare books dealer, has never heard of the Mormon vendetta, but Natalie Phelan, his friend and director of the Celtic Heritage Center, has fallen in love with Emery, one of the descents of the original Mormon vigilantes. He claims to love her and wants to marry her, but they need money. He has an original copy of one of the early Mormon books, which he gives to Michael to authenticate. For Bevan this is an opportunity to get a book good enough to allow him entry to the AABA, Antiquarian Book Association of America, but nothing is simple. This is a fun mystery with an interesting plot that revolves around an historical incident. It's a quick read. The characters are interesting. Michael Bevan is a mix of scholarship and physical ability. The small town he lives in is like having a vacation from the real world. The other characters Natalie, and particularly, Michael's lover Josie, and sympathetic and well drawn. If you enjoy mysteries with little violence and an interesting historical plot, you may enjoy this book.
How did you Get the idea for your hero?
I decided to write about a trade I know with a protagonist who somewhat resembles me. Then I made stuff up.
Josie Majansik plays a small role in the present book. However, she and Michael Bevan have now married. Do you see this changing the series?
Good question. I’m going to give Michael and Josie a rest for the time being while I write a different series featuring a Frenchman who solves crimes in a Missouri river town. With them married it does present challenges. Obviously, Mike can’t get away from flirting (or whatever you want to call it) with other women. But Josie is an independent gal who might just take off on her own someday. We’ll see.
Would you like to share anything else about the series?
The series is really a love letter to the independent book trade that is rapidly disappearing, to my wonderful neighborhood, and to the customers from whom I mined so many characteristics for my stories—except for the evil parts.
Thomas Shawver is a former marine officer, lawyer, and journalist with American City Business Journals. An avid rugby player and international traveler, Shawver owned Bloomsday Books, an antiquarian bookstore in Kansas Cit
Friday, July 3, 2015
Seattle Chief of Detectives Mort Grant is still reeling from losing his daughter -- again. Now, Mort investigates the gruesome murder of a beautiful young woman whose death was captured in a snuff film. When a second victim--and film--are discovered, Mort knows he's not dealing with an ordinary criminal. Mort hunts a twisted menace from a chain of sleazy loan shops to the dark underworld of the sex trade. But he's not the only one. Once again, The Fixer is on the hunt--and she's desperate to make things right.
Lydia and Mort Team Up to Solve the Murders of Young Prostitutes
Lydia, alias the Fixer, and Mort. Seattle's chief of detectives, have been estranged since, Allie, Mort's wayward daughter, left Lydia's care to go away with Vadim Tokarev, a Russian drug lord. Mort is living on a houseboat and continuing his work as chief of detectives. Lydia is a practicing psychologist. She misses Mort's friendship and feels that she was unfairly accused of letting Allie escape. In Mort's latest case, a young woman's body is found, and it's evident that she was tortured before being killed. Then another young woman is found also tortured before being killed. Both are prostitutes and were involved with an unscrupulous loan shark who charged exorbitant interest rates designed to lead the women into prostitution. When Lydia's patient, another young woman, disappears, Mort and Lydia decide it's time to work together again. This is another fast paced Fixer novel. The characters of Mort and Lydia are more developed than in the previous books. He's devastated by his daughter's actions. Lydia is trying to leave behind her life as the Fixer. This book gives us insight into their struggles and their need for each other's friendship. The plot is fast moving and the author does a good job of misdirection. It's hard to tell until the very end who is responsible. Although the idea of young women being tortured and killed is horrendous, the violence is handled tastefully with a minimum of gory details. I recommend this book if you're a fan of the Fixer series, or if you enjoy a good mystery.
How did you decide on the character of Lydia?I’ve long been interested in the word “justice”. Is there any such thing, really? Can a wrong truly be atoned? Let’s take even the smallest infraction. Let’s say we’re at a dinner party, chatting. You say something incredibly funny to me and in my laughter I lean forward and clumsily spill my red wine on your beautiful white wool skirt. A minor sin, to be sure. But what could truly serve as justice for my crime? I could apologize. But there’s still that matter of that ugly red blotch on that soft white fabric. I could pay for dry-cleaning. But you might always have the perception of the skirt being “less than” whenever you took it out to wear. Perhaps you’d always be looking for a faint hint of stain the cleaners missed. I could even buy you a new skirt. But it wouldn’t be the one you fell in love with at Nordstrom’s, would it? It could never be the skirt you bought after a long search with your best friend on that fun Saturday afternoon when you stopped for coffee at that cute little place on Elm Street and those two good-looking men in running gear flirted you both.Could I ever really make you whole again?Take that same concept and apply it to major crimes…especially murder. Is there any way a murder can be truly and wholly avenged? I mean, even if you kill a killer, the person the killer killed is still dead, right? Those are the kinds of musings that led me to create a series dealing with the notion of justice. And once I decided to write the series I, of course, needed a main character. The Writing 101 tattoo is write what you know. I know how to be a psychologist. Bingo, my main character became a psychologist. My profession has given me entry to the lives of many who have been battered, abused, and abandoned. Presto, my psychologist main character is a woman who continues to struggle with her own history of abuse and abandonment. I’ve long been interested in the notion of justice. Voila, justice becomes the driving force of my abused and suffering clinical psychologist.I write what I know.Now, lest you think I am secretly a vigilante assassin with hands so bloody a gallon of Clorox wouldn’t dent the stain, well…you’ll just have to take my word for it that writing what you know can turn the corner and become the foundation for writing what you make up.The series seems to be progressing from the violence of the first book toa much more psychological approach. What do you envision for the restof the series?Oh, there’s gonna be a whole lot of violence coming. The next book inthe series, Fixed In Fear, comes out in October, 2015 and opens with a mass murder that is, as they say, not for the faint of heart. But you’re right, as the characters develop, we do get more of an insight into their motivations and musings. As relates to the rest of the series, I envision Lydia and Allie growing closer to an inevitable showdown. Will Mort have to choose between the two of them? And if so, where will his allegiance come down? Will he stand by his sociopathic daughter out of dedication to family? Or will he turn toward Lydia, the woman struggling so hard to live within the rules of society? As relates to Lydia’s destiny with the series, I see her continuing to wrestle the demons inside her. Most times she’ll be successful. But I’m sure there’ll be times when, despite how much she’s trying to keep her Fixer tendencies chained and bound, she’ll give in and apply her special brand of repair to those who have escaped justice.We’ve still got plenty to learn about the other characters in the series as well. Will Jimmy ever be able to step away from the humor and cynical world-weary posture that has served to protect him from his grief? What’s with Micki? Why is a young, smart, successful, beautiful woman like her alone in life? And speaking of alone, what will happen as relates to Oliver Bane and Paul Bauer? What’s next for Larry?There’s plenty of plot lines and character arcs knocking around in my head. I can’t wait to get them down in readable form…and I certainly can’t wait to hear what readers think.Would you like to share anything else with my readers?I’d like to share so much with them! Readers have made my long-standing dream of being a writer come true. I’d like to share more stories with them. And I’d like to hear theirs. I’d like to share how much I appreciate the support and kindness they’ve shown this series. And I’d like to give them more. I’d like to share a cup of coffee with them. Wouldn’t that be a hoot? To actually be able to have a leisurely conversation with someone I don’t know, but who has read my books? I’m sure most authors would love to stumble across someone reading their book, sit down next to them, and, without the reader knowing they’re speaking to the author, ask them what they think of what they’re reading. No filters. Just a straight-up, person-to-person report.If any of your readers are interested in having a conversation with me, please contact me on Facebook (T.E.Woods) or on Twitter (@tewoodswrites) or on my website tewoodswrites.com. I’d love to hear from them.Author Bio:T.E. Woods is a clinical psychologist inprivate practice in Madison, Wisconsin. Her scientific writings are well represented in peer-reviewed journals and academic texts. Her literary works earned her first place for Fiction at the University of Wisconsin Writers’ Institute. Dr. Woods enjoys kayaking, hiking, biking, and hanging around the house while her two dogs help her make sense of the world. Her habit of relaxing by conjuring up any manner of diabolical murder methods and plots often finds her friends urging her to take up knitting.
Monday, June 15, 2015
“What is it about the relationship between fathers and daughters that provokes so much exquisite tenderness, satisfying communion, longing for more, idealization from both ends, followed often if not inevitably by disappointment, hurt, and the need to understand and forgive, or to finger the guilt of not understanding and loving enough?” writes Phillip Lopate, in his introduction to Every Father's Daughter,a collection of 25 personal essays by women writers writing about their fathers. The editor, Margaret McMullan, is herself a distinguished novelist and educator. About half of these essays were written by invitation for this anthology; others were selected by Ms. McMullan and her associate, Philip Lopate, who provides an introduction. The contributors include many well-known writers—Alice Munro, Jayne Anne Phillips, Alexandra Styron, Ann Hood, Bobbie Ann Mason, Maxine Hong Kingston, among others—as well as writers less well-known but no less cogent, inventive, perceptive, lacerating, questioning, or loving of their fathers.
Fathers come in all types from successes to failures, from loving to abusive, and from companionable to distant. In Every Father's Daughter twenty-four women write about what their father meant to them. For me, the theme is expressed best by the author's introduction and the first essay in the book where Jane Smiley writes about her absent father. It shows the way two very different fathers were viewed by their daughters and how this view affected their lives.
The author had a very close relationship with her father even to taking care of him during the last days of his life. Smiley had a different experience. Her father disappeared from her life as a small child. He returned for only brief moments and that lack of a father is what she believes gave her the opportunity to grow into her own person.
The essays run from daughters growing up with famous fathers, like Lily Lopate with Alex Styron, to a father descending into alcoholism as described by Barbara Shoup. When most of these women were growing up, fathers were a glimpse of the world outside while many mothers stayed at home. This gave the fathers an exotic image, tall, handsome and charismatic.
This is a wonderful book for father's day, or any day when you think about your father. It made me laugh and cry, and most of all it reminded me about the things I loved about my own father.
I reviewed this book for PR by the Book.
Interview with the Author:
1.How did you decide which authors to reach out to for this collection?
In the last month of my father’s life, I read to him Alice Munro’s essay, “Working for a Living.” We had one of our last book discussions about that fox farm, the cold work, and the landscape of Canada. She was the first person I contacted. I wrote her a letter and a few months later she called and said yes, of course you can reprint my essay. I was just stunned. The other authors followed. I invited the authors my father loved or had met at some point in his life. He had dinner with Lee Smith once and she was so quick to respond. Lee led me to Jill McCorkle. I also included three former students. In the end, this collection of women writers became one big circle of friends.
2.How did your vision for this collection evolve from the start to end of this project?
At first I saw this as a collection of southern writers, men and women. But then I realized I just wanted to hear from women, daughters. I moved away from regionalizing it when I began thinking of my father’s literary tastes and what kind of man he was. He was southern but he was also very much shaped by Chicago and the Mid-West. Each time I read an essay, I would think, Would Dad like this?
3.What most surprised you about the creation of Every Father's Daughter?
I was surprised how difficult such a great collection was to get published. Jane Smiley had a Pulitzer, Maxine Hong Kingston won the National Book Award, and Alice Munro had just won a Nobel Prize. I felt this book was no-proof. Who wouldn’t want to read these writers on this particularly personal subject? And who wouldn’t want to read about fathers? I’ve always thought this collection was a sure thing, but it was much more difficult to find a publisher than I had imagined. Apparently, anthologies were no longer fashionable in the publishing industry. One editor, who declined the book, has since contacted me to tell me how she genuinely regrets not taking it.
In your introduction, you talk about how this book was a way for you to grieve. How did you come to realize this?
This particular work felt meaningful because all along I thought so much about my father. I started soon after my father died. The work – reaching out to other women, asking for their stories, and then reading them was therapeutic because it reminded me that there are other emotions besides grief. After a while, after I organized and put together the book, after I wrote my own essay, my grief transformed. It felt less like sadness and more like love.
I have encountered so many readers who have read the book and want to talk about an essay, and then, inevitably, these readers begin to tell me about their fathers. A conversation starts. This book has a power. We are remembering our fathers, and, in some cases, bringing them back to life.
4.Did you come to realize anything about your relationship with your father as you read through the essays in this collection?
I knew from the start that we were close, and that a good part of that closeness was how we stayed connected through literature. Now, I realize exactly how close we really were.
About the Author:
Margaret McMullan is the author of six award-winning novels including Aftermath Lounge, In My Mother’s House, Sources of Light, How I Found the Strong, and When I Crossed No-Bob. Her stories and essays have appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Ploughshares, Southern Accents, TriQuarterly, Michigan Quarterly Review, and The Sun, among several other journals and anthologies. She has received an NEA Fellowship in literature and a Fulbright award to teach at the University of Pécs in Pécs, Hungary. She currently holds the Melvin M. Peterson Endowed Chair in Literature and Writing at the University of Evansville in Evansville, Indiana.
Contact Information: @margaretmcmulla @prbythebook