Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My Life as a Book 2011


So, I was lacking a little inspiration for writing my next entry until I saw Jenn aka Picky Girl's post about My Life as a Book, which was originally conceived by Elyse at PCN (Pop Culture Nerd).

All you do is fill in the blanks with book titles. So get on it!

One time at band camp I went about Saving Fish from Drowning. (Amy Tan)

 I was supposed to play the clarinet? I'm always up for a good exercise in absurdity.

Weekends at my house are Where the Stress Falls. (Susan Sontag)

Five females and hormones gone wild. You can only imagine...


My neighbor is the Banana Republican. (Eric Rauchway)

Seriously. He still has a W sign on his SUV. I'm sure he's still pissed about integration and all that shit...

My boss is The Terror of Living. (Urban Waite)

You'd know what I meant if you met him...

The ex is The One That I Want. (Allison Winn Scotch)

Wait. Did I just say that? No, what I meant was he was A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. (Dave Eggers) We'll leave it at that.

My superhero secret identity is Domestic Violet. (Matthew Norman)

Because I can cut you off at the knees with devastating accuracy and a couple razor sharp words. And then I'll stress about what life really means and what's the point of it all while I write furiously and hope to get some damned validation.

You wouldn't like me when I'm angry cause it's The Lunatic Express over here. (Carl Hoffman)

See below.

I'd win a gold medal in A First Rate Madness. (Nassir Ghaemi)

I should probably be on meds. But I wouldn't know what to do with all that sanity...

I'd pay good money for A Hundred Secret Senses....because really, basic observations escape my notice. I never see the truth till it knocks me in the windpipe. (Amy Tan)

If I were president, I would Go To Sleep. (Helen Walsh)

Classic depressive. Why bother trying to save the world when you could get in a little nap?

When I don't have good books I ask Does A Bear Shit in the Woods? (Caroline Taggart)

...because what else is there to do? Work? Nah. Conversation with other human beings...pshaw! Nope, I'd consume myself with inanities and mindless meandering...

Loud talkers in the movies should Lie Down in Darkness.....

Because who knew misery and immobilization better than Styron?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Review: Sisterwives by Rachel Connor

Sisterwives


by Rachel Connor


Crocus Books


Release Date: Oct. 19, 2011


169 pages


ISBN13: 9780946745586





"None of us has a choice, we do what's asked of us."


Ammie and Rebecca live in a idyllic,small religious community. Today, they will pledge to share more than friendship. Today, Ammie is to be sealed to Tobias, Rebecca's husband. Together, these women will try to balance life, love, children, and faith.


As the ceremony ensues, a young radiant bride is joined with her new bridegroom. But will Rebecca be able to set aside her uncertainty, her frustration, her jealousy with Ammie in the picture now? After all, her and Tobias have been together for many years, raising children, making a life together in a place where everyone has to work harder than they did back in their old world, the city of Lot. Their families left and founded a place where they could live peacefully, practice their beliefs without punishment, and instill in their children a pure, uncorrupted vision for the human spirit. 


But is their religion everything the Elders have said it is? Are its origins grounded in spirituality or selfishness and fear? 


"Two people can be right and wrong at the same time."


With Ammie's abrupt departure, secrets surface that will shake an entire community, cause them to question the fundamental nature of their spiritual quest, and re-evaluate the future of their religious practices. 


Connor was inspired to write Sisterwives after listening to a radio interview with an escaped wife from a Mormon compound in Utah. Practically imprisoned, the woman was caught in a rigid system of oppression and yet spoke of community and female friendship.


"The whole situation was laden with passion, tension and conflict." Connor writes in her blog 


Sisterwives isn't a book I would have normally chosen for myself, but it's one I'm grateful to have read. Although I like to preach tolerance and acceptance, I still form snap judgments, only to catch myself later. I've watched the show Sister Wives and felt a rapid emotions ranging from dismay to anger to envy and then circle back to feminist fury.


 It's easy to write a book about a type of religion, cast in your views of it, and let the chips fall where they may. But Connor writes about her fictional community and its individuals with empathy, and a clear, steady eye for their flaws and their motives. And she writes about the genesis of this religion in a way that makes one question the entire bedrock of any sort of structure. 


For, what is the purpose of indoctrination? And whom does it serve, ultimately?




About Rachel (from her blog):



"I was born in the north east of England and educated at the Universities of Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester.  In former lives, I taught creative writing to adults for the Workers’ Educational Association and lectured in English and American literature at Salford and Glasgow Universities.  In my 20s, I had stints of driving around northern France in a Renault Clio, supervising people putting up tents for a camping holiday company.  I’ve cleaned hotel bedrooms in Australia and contributed to a zoological project on dik-dik (pint sized antelopes) in northern Kenya.  For some reason I’ve never written about any of these things.  But then I’ve always taken issue with the careworn phrase ‘write what you know.’ 
These days, I combine writing with working for the Arvon Foundation , a charity which runs residential courses for writers in historic, rural houses.  It’s a privilege – and great fun – to host and meet so many interesting and engaging people each week.  And since my role also involves designing menus and managing the centre’s catering, I’m able to indulge yet another passion in my life: food."
You can find rachel here:
Rachel Connor's Blog

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Interview with Terri Giuliano Long

Announcing the In Leah’s Wake Social Media Whirlwind Tour—WooHoo!

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the In Leah’s Wake Kindle edition has dropped to just 99 cents this week.

What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes, including a Kindle, 5 autographed copies of the book, and multiple Amazon gift cards (1 for $100, 3 for $25, 5 for $10, and 10 for $5 – 19 in all)! Be sure to enter before the end of the day on Friday, August 26th, so you don’t miss out.

 

To win the prizes:

  1. Purchase your copy of In Leah’s Wake for just 99 cents
  2. Fill-out the form on the author’s site to enter for prizes
  3. Visit today’s featured event; you may win an autographed copy of the book!
And I can win $100 too if you vote for my blog over on the author’s website. The blog host that gets the most votes in this traffic-breaker polls wins, so please cast yours right after purchasing In Leah’s Wake and entering the contests!

 

The featured events include:

Monday, Blogaganza on Novel Publicity! We’re kicking-off on the Novel Publicity Free Advice blog. We’ll ask the writer 5 fun and random questions to get everyone talking. Leave a comment or question in response to the post, and you may win an autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake. Don’t forget to visit the author’s blog to enter for the other prizes!

Tuesday, Twitter chat with the author! Tweet with us between 4 and 5 PM Eastern Time, using the hashtag #emlyn. We’ll be talking with the author about her favorite books and best writing advice. Bring your questions about In Leah’s Wake and don’t forget to use #emlyn or to follow Terri @tglong. By joining in the tweet chat at the designated time, you may win an autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake. Don’t forget to visit the author’s blog to enter for the other prizes!

Wednesday, Google+ video chat with the author! Join our hangout between 12 and 3 PM Eastern Time to talk with the author and us via video chat. We’ll be gabbing about great books including In Leah’s Wake and about writing. Did you know that Terri is a creative writing instructor at Boston College? She’s got tons of good advice for aspiring writers. By joining in the Google+ video chat at the designated time, you may win an autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake. Don’t forget to visit the author’s blog to enter for the other prizes!

Thursday, Facebook interview with the author! Stop by Novel Publicity’s Facebook page and ask Terri questions. She’s chosen three of her favorite topics to talk about: writing, parenting, and gourmet cooking. Of course, you’re welcome to ask about In Leah’s Wake too. Leave a comment or question as part of the thread, and you may win an autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake. Don’t forget tolike Terri’s Facebook page or to visit her blog to enter for the other prizes!

Friday, Fun & games based on the book! We want to close this whirlwind social media tour with a gigantic bang, which is why we've set-up two interactive book-themed features on the author’s blog. You can take the official Facebook quiz to find out which In Leah's Wake character is most like you and learn how that character ties into the story. Then try out our crossroads story game. Throughout the course of the narrative, you'll have several decisions to make. What you choose will affect the outcome of the story. Play as either rebellious teenager Leah or the trampled peacemaker and mother Zoe. Leave a comment or question on any of Terri’s blog entries, and you may win an autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake. Don’t forget to check out the other give-away contests while you’re on Terri’s blog!

AboutIn Leah’s Wake: The Tyler family had the perfect life – until sixteen-year-old Leah decided she didn’t want to be perfect anymore. While Zoe and Will fight to save their daughter from destroying her brilliant future, Leah’s younger sister, Justine, must cope with the damage her out-of-control sibling leaves in her wake. Will this family survive? What happens when love just isn’t enough? Jodi Picoult fans will love this beautifully written and absorbing novel.

 

 

 

An interview with Terri Giuliano Long, author of In Leah’s Wake

*Questions courtesy of BookBundlz

Terri's book was voted the 2011 book club pick of the year by the BookBundlz staff and community!

 

Author Terri LongAbout Terri:

1. If you could have coffee with any 3 authors, living or dead, who would they be?

This is a tough question. Let’s see: Joan Didion – I love her work. The Year of Magical Thinking is a powerful book. I’d like to have coffee with her because she’s a brilliant, courageous woman, a true pioneer, and she’s led a varied and interesting life. I’d love to hear her stories.

Cormac McCarthy - although I’m not a fan of his early work – too macho for my taste - he hooked me with No Country For Old Men. I enjoyed the novel so much that I taught it in one of my classes. The Road is the most moving novel I’ve ever read. The man says to his son: "You have my whole heart. You always did.” That line has stayed with me – as have so many stark, tender moments. I’m in awe. I think I’d be too dumbstruck to talk. I’d probably just sit there.

Alice Hoffman – I love her work and I admire her ability to write a bestselling novel, year after year. It took me several years to finish In Leah’s Wake. To produce a book a year requires tremendous determination and discipline. You’ve got to be willing to sit down and write, whether you feel like it or not. That discipline helped her overcome breast cancer, after which she established the Hoffman Breast Center at the Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA. She’s also written screenplays and children’s books. And friends who know her say she’s a lovely, giving person.

2. If you could only take one book, food item and drink with you to a deserted island what would they be?

Oh, goodness, another tough question! If I had to choose one book, I’d take the Bible. The stories are fascinating, with so many layers of meaning, and the imager and language are captivating. You can read the stories over and over and never grow tired. For nourishment, champagne and dark chocolate – I’d be tipsy and fat, but I would be smiling.

3. What are your secret indulgences?

Travelling and trying new foods - my husband, Dave, and I have had the great fortunate of visiting many beautiful, interesting places. I love ethnic foods and I’m fairly gutsy when it comes to trying new dishes. In Beijing, a few years ago, we went to a tiny restaurant with two students we met. The restaurant was a local spot, as opposed to a tourist trap, the menu written in Chinese, so they ordered for us. When the steaming bowl arrived, I dipped my chopsticks into the stew – and pulled out a frog. The head was gone, thank goodness, but the body was fully intact. I realize that a lot of people eat frog; this was actually green. I thought Dave would gag when I ate it. To his credit, he didn’t.

4. What about you would surprise your readers?

When they meet me, people almost always assume I’m in my thirties, so they’re surprised to learn that I have adult children and grandkids. I was 18 when I married Dave and he’s the love of my life. Like all couples, we’ve had our ups and downs, but we still enjoy each other’s company, we have fun, and we love being together. This surprises people.

5. What is your perfect day as an author?

Being in a quiet place, with beautiful scenery, and no phone or Internet. A few years ago, we spent a heavenly winter in Stowe, Vermont. I would sit at my desk, looking out at the mountains. Dave would be working in the other room, so I wasn’t alone; we’d work all day, then have dinner together, maybe a glass of wine by the fire. Now I’m actively involved with social media, which I really enjoy, but I long for a quiet day with no interruptions, no distraction.

6. If you could be any fictional character who would it be?

Sara Paretsky’s PI, V.I. Warshawski – I have a special place in my heart for police officers. They risk their lives for us, every day, and they’re the connectors, the glue that holds communities together. I’ve always admired Gail Mullen Beaudoin, a police officer in Chelmsford, MA. Gail brings strength, dignity and grace to a very difficult job. In a fictional character, V.I. is the closet I can come to Gail - two very strong, caring, centered women. Theirs are very big, wonderfully feminine shoes to fill.

7. What are the book(s) you are reading now?

The Trust, an engaging, fast-paced legal thriller by Sean Keefer, and A Walk in the Snark, a wise, sexy, very funny nonfiction read by Rachel Thompson, and Take One Candle Light a Room, an insightful, gorgeously textured literary novel by National Book Award finalist Susan Straight.

8. What was your favorite book as a teenager, and why?

Please don’t laugh – The Exorcist. By today’s standards it’s tame; then The Exorcist was a shocking literary sensation. I was a bit of a rebel when I was younger. I didn’t use drugs or take the risks Leah takes in my novel, but I hated being told what to do. Although I’ve always loved reading, I never got the full enjoyment from the classics we were forced to read in school. That The Exorcist was forbidden gave it a wonderfully sweet edge. I also loved Exodus, a glorious book by Leon Uris, about the birth of the nation of Israel. It was, to my mind, the first truly important book I ever read.

9. (Aside from your own) What book(s) have you read that you think are perfect for book clubs?

Elizabeth Strout’s heartbreaking novel Abide With Me would make a terrific book club selection. Her Pulitzer Prize winner, Olive Kitteridge, is one of my favorite books. Abide With Me, a moving story about a young minister struggling to raise two small children after the premature death of his wife, is so real and relatable on so many levels, and it raises thought-provoking questions about family and life.

 

About In Leah's Wake:

10. Where did the inspiration for your book come from?

Years ago, I wrote a series of feature articles about families with drug and alcohol-addicted teens. The moms talked candidly about their children, their heartbreaking struggles. Those stories stayed with me.

My husband and I have four daughters. Most families struggle during their children's teenage years. We’re no different - though, thank goodness, we experienced nothing remotely akin to the problems and challenges the Tylers face in the book. As a parent, I knew how it felt to be scared, concerned for your children’s welfare and future. These were the primary forces driving me to write this story.

My work with families, my personal experiences and core beliefs – all these things played on my conscious and subconscious mind, and ultimately emerged as this book.

11. They say every book written is the author telling a personal philosophy. What personal philosophy are you trying to get across?

The epigraph, from The Grand Inquisitor, says it best: “everyone is really responsible to all men for all men and for everything.” Hillary Clinton famously said that it takes a village to raise a child. I believe we must all do our part, be supportive members of the village. The Tyler family is far from perfect, but they love one another. Our flaws make us human and that humanity connects us. I very much hope that readers feel this sense of connection—and hope.

12. Writers are often surprised by something that happens in their book. Perhaps a character says or does something you did not think they would, or something you thought would only be a couple of paragraphs turns into 10 pages. What surprised you about your book?

The challenges Leah faces in the aftermath of her sexual awakening. In the first draft, she lost her virginity; in the context of her rebellion, that felt right. In later drafts, darker incidents emerged. As a mom, I found these scenes hard to write, but they felt very true to Leah’s character and experience.

 

About Terri's Writing Process:

13. What is your writing process like?

With the first draft of In Leah’s Wake, I had no idea where I was going – in writing programs, this sort of organic writing is usually encouraged. In the revision process, I looked for and developed themes. In Leah’s Wake is character driven, so outlining would have produced a different book. I think it’s helpful to know who we are, as writers, and what our goals are. For literary fiction, the goal is to develop and understand character. I hope I’ve done this adequately.
My novel-in-progress, Nowhere to Run, is a psychological thriller, so I’m approaching that differently. I’ve mapped a partial outline - plot points to use as markers - and writing the sections organically. While I recognize the benefits of outlining or plotting, sticking firmly to either feels limiting. Giving myself this freedom allows for possibilities. Of course, it also makes for a messier process.

14. What gets you in the mood to write?

When I first sit at my desk, especially if I’ve been away for a few days, I often feel blocked, the nasty editors on my shoulders heckling: A writer? Are you crazy? Nine times out of ten, I dig in; the writing may be choppy at first, but eventually I regain fluidity. If the demons are too loud to ignore, I read. Reading, like meditation or yoga, settles my mind, calms me. Soon I find my mind wandering to my story, and I can’t wait to start writing.

15. What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Believe in yourself. I know wonderful writers whose first, second or third books, really good, strong books, were rejected. To deal with the rejection, boot your computer, day after day, when it seems as if no one cares, the stars misaligned – or to indie publish in a world that still privileges the traditionally published - you have to believe in yourself.
Writing is a lonely profession. Most of the time, we’re alone with our work. The loneliness can wear on you, and cause you to question yourself. A few supportive writer friends, supporting and encouraging you, can make all the difference.
Hold onto your dreams. You can make them happen. Don’t ever give up!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Review posted on Her Circle E-Zine

My review of Helen Walsh's Go To Sleep is posted on  inContext: The Politics of Feminist Literature.

Here's a teaser:

I was 19 when I had my first daughter. The pain of labor was beyond my imagination, and the brutal back pain that accompanied it was my introduction to motherhood: the painful proliferation of things I hadn’t even considered. 
I was young and probably never should have married at that age, but I considered myself mature and competent. I could do this. I’d sidestep the pitfalls my mother fell into; I’d keep an open mind and not sweat the small stuff and I’d take into account all the self-help headlines that flooded my local bookstore.
You can find the entire review HERE.

If you're interested in contributing, email the blog coordinators @ inContext@hercircleezine.com.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Kid Review posted over on BlogHer

Today my review of Sapphire's The Kid goes live on BlogHer!
I had a tough time reading this book, and an even tougher time reviewing it.

Most of you will associate Sapphire with the award winning Precious, the movie adaptation of the novel Push. In this gritty, shocking novel, Precious Jones has to survive physical and sexual abuse at the hands of both her parents, and nearly being thrown out of the public school system because the administration doesn't want a pregnant girl walking around in their hallways.

The Kid, Sapphire's follow up to her debut novel, is no less shocking, which is an accomplishment in a publishing climate where pretty much anything goes...

You can read the review HERE.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mailbox Monday #14



It's that time of week again: ...Mailbox Monday. Mailbox Monday was started by Marcia of The Printed Page. It is currently on blog tour and this month is being hosted by Life in the Thumb. It's a great opportunity for all of us to share what books have come into our home the previous week.


Hedge-fund manager, wife, and mother of two, Kate Reddy manages to juggle nine currencies in five time zones and keep in step with the Teletubbies. But when she finds herself awake at 1:37 a.m. in a panic over the need to produce a homemade pie for her daughter’s school, she has to admit her life has become unrecognizable. With panache, wisdom, and uproarious wit, I Don’t Know How She Does It brilliantly dramatizes the dilemma of every working mom.




Emma and Dexter meet for the first time on the night of their graduation. Tomorrow they must go their separate ways. So where will they be on this one day next year? And the year after that? And every year that follows? Twenty years, two people, ONE DAY. 














In Wendy and the Lost Boys bestselling author Julie Salamon explores the life of playwright Wendy Wasserstein's most expertly crafted character: herself. The first woman playwright to win a Tony Award, Wendy Wasserstein was a Broadway titan. But with her high- pitched giggle and unkempt curls, she projected an image of warmth and familiarity. Everyone knew Wendy Wasserstein. Or thought they did. 










In the sweltering heat of an Atlanta summer, a killer is pushing the city to its breaking point, preying on the unsuspecting, writing taunting letters to the media, promising more death. Desperate to stop the Wishbone Killer before another victim meets a shattering end, A.P.D. lieutenant Aaron Rauser turns to the one person he knows can penetrate a deranged mind: ex–FBI profiler Keye Street.










 In lvan and Misha, Michael Alenyikov pottrays the complexities of love, sexuality, and the bonds of family with boldness and lyricsensitivity. As the Soviet Union collapses, two young brothers are whisked away from kiev by their father to start lite anew in America. The intricarely linked stories in this powerful debut, set in New York City at the turn of the millennium, swirl about the uneasy bond between fraternal twins, Ivan and Misha, devoted brothers who could not be more different: Bipolar Ivan, like their father, is a natural seducer, a gambler who always has a scheme afoot between fares in his cab and stints in Bellevue. Misha struggles to create a sense of family with his quixotic boyfriend. 




Shame the Devil tells the remarkable and true story of Fanny Fern (the pen name of Sara Payson Willis), one of the most successful, influential, and popular writers of the nineteenth century. A novelist, journalist, and feminist, Fern (1811-1872) outsold Harriet Beecher Stowe, won the respect of Nathaniel Hawthorne, and served as literary mentor to Walt Whitman. 












Chamara is difficult to translate from Korean to English: To stand it, to bear it, to grit your teeth and not cry out? To hold on, to wait until the worst is over? Such is the burden Samuel Park’s audacious, beautiful, and strong heroine, Soo-Ja Choi, faces in This Burns My Heart, an epic love story set in the intriguing landscape of postwar South Korea. On the eve of marriage to her weak, timid fiancÉ, Soo-Ja falls in love with a young medical student. But out of duty to her family and her culture she turns him away, choosing instead a world that leaves her trapped by suffocating customs.










A LOT of books, and as you probably have noticed, I haven't been able to post as much as usually do. August has been a busy non-blogging month, with getting ready for school, getting the house in order, and taking Maddie to her orchestra lessons. 


As for the books posted above, they all sound like great books and I'm particularly excited about This Burns My Heart. I've taken a glance at the first page and had to talk myself out of reading it then and there, since I have so many other books that need to be reviewed first. 


I hope your mailbox is as full and enjoyable!





Friday, August 5, 2011

Review: The One That I Want by Allison Winn Scotch


The One That I Want

By Allison Winn Scotch

Published by Crown, an imprint of Random House, Inc.

ISBN: 978-0-307-46451-4

276 pages

"People have unanticipated layers even when you've stared at their surface for years..."





Tilly Famer is living in the same ole town she grew up. Works at the same ole high school she attended. And is married to the same guy she dated as a teenager. She treasures her routine, the predictability of her life and work (especially the prom she gets to plan every year), and the proximity of her family.  

What’s next? Why, a baby, of course!

But her life begins to rapidly come apart at the seams when she bumps into an old friend from high school at a fortune-teller’s tent. A friend with whom she lost touch when her mother died of cancer during Tilly’s teen years. When she began hanging out with the cheerleaders and the jocks. When taking care of everyone else meant she forgot about herself.

And though she’d forgotten about her childhood friend, Ashley never forgot about her. In a single moment, Ashley gives Tilly the gift of clarity.  

And just like that, Tilly begins to have visions: her best friend making out with someone who looks a lot like her husband, her husband packing up in a U-Haul, her recovering alcoholic father drinking again… And the worst part is that – one by one—these things begin to come true.

Can she reroute her life from the calamitous future? Can she save her loved ones from themselves? Can she salvage the life she has? And is it even the one she wants, after all?

The One That I Want is about an examination of a life, of the things that happen to us, of the ways we become fearful of the unknown, the unexpected, and the unpredictable. And of how we become a little bit less of ourselves when we faithfully follow our own sketches of what we think our lives should be.

Quotes:

“Life lessons are meant to be learned, honored even, or else you can spend your life running so far from them that you erect a false existence around the very thing you should be embracing. “

“Our initials have been overgrown; the tree’s bark has shed and renewed itself in the last dozen years, and even though we once etched something indelible there, it turns out that you can never be sure what is permanent, what will stick, and what will fade even when you are so certain that it won’t.“

Allison Winn Scotch is the  New York Times bestselling author of The One That I Want, Time of My Life and The Department of Lost and Found.

She can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.