Interview with Laura Nicole Diamond

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Laura Nicole Diamond, whose latest book Shelter Us was recently released. You can read our review here. I asked her to share something about the book that wasn’t in her blurb.

“Sarah’s maternal grandmother Bibi is an incredibly important person in her life. Bibi came to the U.S. from Guatemala alone, 17-years-old, pregnant with Sarah’s mother, and determined to make a better life for both of them. She’s strong, vibrant, and independent. Some of those personality traits are based on my own grandmother, who is positive, full of energy, and was a huge force for fun in my childhood. Her immigrant background is based on my living in southern California, where so many people come from Central America looking for a better life.

Another important element of Shelter Us that is not in the book jacket is the influential role of Judaism on Sarah. Her late mother was a convert to Judaism. One of the foremost memories Sarah has of her mother is her commitment to ‘welcome the stranger,’ a fundamental tenet of Judaism. The title Shelter Us comes from a lullaby Sarah’s mother used to sing to her, and which Sarah sings to her children, a song adapted from a Jewish prayer.”

The characters came first for Shelter Us. Laura started writing scenes from Sarah’s perspective.

“She was almost fully developed, although I knew next to nothing about what would happen to her. I say ‘almost fully’ developed because she evolved and deepened as I got to know her better,” Laura explained. “In fact, when I started writing, I did not know that she had had an infant die. I knew only that she was a mother of two young boys who was in a deep funk, that she was searching for elusive happiness. As I wrote, I discovered what had happened to create that depression.”

Shelter Us is Laura’s first foray into fiction. She’s always kept a journal and published personal stories on her blog, but she never had an inclination to write fiction.

“I was not a child who made up stories. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up (because adults have a strange need to press children into a corner on this subject), I answered: ballerina, actress, lawyer, teacher – even President of the United States – but never writer,” she told me.

Once she became a mother, writing became even more important to her as a way of preserving memories as well as puzzling through decisions.

“When I decided to take a break from practicing law and have more time for my then-toddler son and myself, I realized with a thrill that I could spend more time writing. It had always been a pleasure for me, because it was only for me,” she said. “Gradually I realized that I wanted to publish and share my work. I was writing about was parenthood, my daily struggles and joys. After I published a non-fiction collection of essays called Deliver Me: True Confessions of Motherhood, I was writing one afternoon about a mother (guess who?) but felt compelled to start making things up. I wanted her to do things that I hadn’t done, or wouldn’t do, and that is how my fiction career began.”

“What is your writing space like?” I asked.

“Describing my writing space is a tour of my home and neighborhood. At the moment, I am in my backyard at our large blue-tiled table, straining against the glare of my laptop screen because it is such a gorgeous day that I couldn’t stay inside any longer. Frequently I am in the dining room, facing toward the casement windows and the trees outside. Hummingbirds love the one closest to the house, and I love the light and views in this room. When I get stuck, I’ll sometimes just describe what I see, or sit for a minute in silence and wait for words to strike me. Other times, the house is filled with noise – my two boys, their friends, the Xbox games, shouting, music – and I’ll retreat into my bedroom, sit on my bed, and try to get something done.

I wrote the scenes that would make up the first draft of Shelter Us in the writing studio of Elana Golden, in the Rockenwagner café on Arizona street in Santa Monica (which is now closed), in the Village Pantry in Pacific Palisades (also closed), and the public library in Pacific Palisades (blissfully still open).”

“What was the scariest moment of your life?” I wondered.

“I have had several scariest moments, but they all have the same reason: I thought I’d lost my son. Once, at eighteen months, I was with my two boys at home and suddenly he was gone. I looked all over my house and couldn’t find him. That story, ‘Finding Emmett,’ is in Deliver Me, so I won’t tell you where I finally found him. Later, at two years old, he wandered off while we were on a pier. We found him entering the teacup ride, tagging along with another family. The worst was when he was nine years old and I watched helplessly as he fell out of a tree and came within inches of smashing his head at high speed on a driveway. It’s a wonder I don’t make him go through life wearing a helmet.”

She loves hearing from readers, and it always surprises her with someone she doesn’t know tells her they’ve read her books or blog, because she still feels like it’s only friends and family who read them.

“Most often people reach out to tell me that they’ve connected with something I’ve written, that they’ve felt the same way and I’ve expressed it for them. It feels like a privilege to be trusted with that intimacy, and an honor to have gotten it right,” she said. “I had one snarky comment on a blog about a field trip my 10-year-old son was taking to Sacramento, flying on an airplane without parents. I confessed that I hugged him so hard that he said, ‘Too much love, Mom.’ The commenter flew off the handle about what a controlling, smotherer I was, and that he hoped my child would get away from my apron strings soon. I laughed.”

usSince the death of her newborn baby, lawyer-turned-stay-at-home mom Sarah Shaw has been struggling to keep it together for her law professor husband and two young sons. With her husband burying himself in his career and her friendships all having withered, she is lost in a private world of grief. Then one day, walking in LA, Sarah s heart catches at the sight of a young homeless woman pushing a baby in a stroller and saving them becomes her mission. An unlikely bond grows between Sarah and the mother, Josie, whose pride and strained relationship with her own mother prevent her from going home to Oakland. Through her friendship with Josie, Sarah slowly learns that those we love are never far, even in death and that sometimes it is the people we set out to save who save us.

About the Author:6_26 laura-nicole-diamond-headshot-2015-4-251Laura Nicole Diamond is the author of Shelter Us and the editor of Deliver Me: True Confessions of Motherhood, a collection of true stories by 20 writers. She is a civil rights lawyer and former Editor-In-Chief of L.A. Family Magazine. Laura also writes about family, parenting, and social justice for several publications, and on her blog, Confessions of Motherhood. She sits on the Board of Trustees of PATH (People Assisting the Homeless). Laura is a native of Los Angeles, where she resides with her family.

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Uncovering Secrets by Barbara Hinske – Cover Reveal and Giveaway

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This post is part of a cover reveal organized by Goddess Fish Promotions, for the third book in the Rosemont series by Barbara Hinske, Uncovering Secrets. Barbara will award a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn commenter via Rafflecopter. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour. Without further ado, here’s Barbara’s beautiful cover:

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Mayor Maggie Martin is knee-deep in the financial problems facing Westbury. The investigation into the fraud and embezzlement that created these problems is going nowhere and she’s on the hot seat to produce results. The bad guys are always one step ahead, with bribes and blackmail at their disposal. Her late husband’s mistress also has an ace to play against Frank Haynes. But will he slip through the net once again?

Meanwhile, Rosemont’s attic gives up its secrets; some welcome, some not. Will Frank Haynes establish his claim to Rosemont?

About the Author: MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_UncoveringSecretsBarbara Hinske is a practicing attorney in Phoenix, Arizona. She has two grown children with her exceedingly kind and good second husband, who died of cancer in 2006. Lucky in love, Barb married another exceptional man and father of two in 2010, and they live in their own Rosemont with two adorable and spoiled dogs.

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Buy the first two books in the series at Amazon: Coming to Rosemont and Weaving the Strands.

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Pondering The Muse with Alli Marshall – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Alli will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Pondering the muse

I have this distinct memory of being in my car, coming home from the gym, and hearing the Counting Crows song “Rain King.” I’ve never been a fan of that band, but the line, “I belong in the service of the Queen / I belong anywhere but in between” struck me as an exact statement of how I felt about writing at that moment. Replace “queen” with “muse” and there you have it. That simple sentiment gave me the push I needed to write my just-published novel, How to Talk to Rockstars: It wasn’t just a hobby or a test of my own stamina. It was a mission.

Rockstars is a totally muse-driven book, a creative impetus that took on a life of its own. So much so that I would hear the voice of my main character, Bryn — a music journalist — speaking to me and telling her story, even when I wasn’t writing. Sometimes Bryn would narrate my walk home at the end of the day. Her character has such a raw and poetic way of describing her world, that some of the passages in the book were actually taken from those narrated walks.

I think most writers have that experience to some extent. I interviewed author Khaled Hosseini after his novel A Thousand Splendid Suns was published and he talked about missing his characters after he finished a book. Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants and At the Water’s Edge, told me that one thing she liked about going on book tour was that it gave her a chance to revisit her characters.

But what is it that makes those characters so real, so personable and imbued with their own personalities and agendas? Real enough that we miss them when we’re no longer transcribing their dialog? To call that “the muse” seems too easy and detracts from the considerable effort of the writer. I’ve never actually channeled anything — I know I used the word transcribing two sentences back, but that was mostly to be fancy — and I don’t know what it feels like. I do know that writing a novel is, at turns, thrilling, exasperating, exciting, devastating, energizing and exhausting. It’s an emotional roller coaster, a volatile relationship with little more than a laptop and a half-hatched idea.

But something — someone — has to drive the roller coaster. Maybe that’s the muse. Or maybe the muse is the one who waits in the quiet place where the words come from. The muse is the one with whom every writer is in community; the greater power to whom we answer.

How to Talk to Rockstars deals a lot with loneliness. Bryn is a loner. Much of her work has to do with talking to touring musicians who are isolated by being on the road for long stretches of time, or by a contrived stage persona, or by the strange trappings of fame. But what Bryn learns is that — even though professionalism prevents her from turning into a fan or trying to be friends with the musicians she interviews — the minutes she spends talking to a rockstar is absolute intimacy. It’s an encapsulated moment that might be awkward, might be strained, might not go according to plan. But it might also be pure magic.

Writing is kind of like that. It requires a lot of trust, and a willingness to get through the awkward moments to find the magic. I suspect the muse doesn’t judge between the two; the muse just asks us to show up and listen and do the work. It’s hard work. But it’s the best work.

 

“How to Talk to Rockstars” — think “Almost Famous” meets “The History of Love” — follows wallflower-turned-journalist Bryn Thompson. She has a dream job: she interviews rock stars. Bryn’s professionalism keeps her on track, but also emotionally removed from the gritty world of back stage, bars and drugs that she writes about. That is, until she meets musician Jude Archer, whose songs haunt her. As an unlikely friendship grows out of Bryn’s obsession with Jude’s album, Bryn begins to rethink all of the carefully-contrived rules that until now have helped her maintain a professional distance.

Enjoy an excerpt:

At the edge of the stage, in the limbo between darkness and spotlights, between anonymity and fame, Jude Archer knows two things: That he is a rare genius. And that he is a complete fraud.

Sometimes he turns these dual realizations over and over like a penny in his fingers. Sometimes he lets them alternately punish and soothe his soul, these words. One a barb and one a balm. The devil and the angel on his shoulders, but which is which?

Sometimes he lets the needles of knowing fill him with doubt, with hope. With fear, with excitement. And sometimes he just turns away from the knowing, tucks the coin away into a pocket for later.

Or for never.

Just off stage, Jude Archer is no one. It’s the moment of the day he hates most, those few seconds of not being. And then he hears his name.

For one night only —

And he’s already in the light, bathed in it, blinded by it. Soaking it in and becoming. Not just someone, but the one.

All eyes are on him, and he’s reflected back in their fevered glow. The one he’s become. But which one? The genius or the fraud?

Fame, fame. Remember my name.

Alli Marshall grew up in Western New York and has called the mountains of North Carolina home for more than 20 years. She’s a Warren Wilson College graduate and completed her MFA in creative writing at Goddard College. She’s been named the best arts reporter in Western North Carolina in the annual Best of WNC reader’s poll, 2011-2014. She received awards in editorial reporting from the North Carolina Press Association in 2005 and 2014, and from the International Festivals & Events Association in 2004. She also took home top honors in the Cupcakes for the Cure bake-off (local ingredient category) — but that’s another story. And though Alli doesn’t like to brag or anything, over the course of her career she’s interviewed Yoko Ono, Cyndi Lauper, Chris Robinson (The Black Crowes), Aimee Mann, Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys), Britt Daniel (Spoon), Michael Franti, Neko Case, Daniel Lanois, Ziggy Marley, Peter Murphy, Grace Potter, Jamie Lidell, Kishi Bashi and many, many others.

For more information:

WEB: http://www.alli-marshall.com

FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/allimarshallauthor

PUBLISHER: http://www.logosophiabooks.com

Follow Alli on Twitter and Instagram @alli_marshall

Read a sample chapter at http://www.spdbooks.org/Producte/9780981575780/default.aspx
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Top Five Books by George T. Chronis – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. George will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

“TOP FIVE” BOOKS OF ALL TIME ¬– GEORGE T. CHRONIS

Let me preface this list by saying these are my personal choices not the five best books based in any objective criteria. These five say something about what kinds of stories I appreciate and something about me as a person. So without further adieu…

#5: Foucault’s Pendulum, Umberto Eco

Part of my daily routine is finding time to have an interesting conversation with someone. Every once in a while the topic will stray into philosophy, science or the metaphysical. Those are fun discussions, and during a time of my life I was having quite a few of them I read Foucault’s Pendulum. The book sort of wraps all of these arcane subjects into a conspiracy story in a fascinating fashion that was a great read. It was like all of these esoteric conversations came alive in a way that had me looking over my shoulder. Definitely not for everyone but if you are into this stuff it is a great ride.

#4: Inherit the Stars, James P. Hogan

Okay, you do not read Hogan for grammatical flourish or rich character development. Yet the man had a knack for conjuring up these amazing science fiction stories that teased the mind, and in their own way, were very visual in concept. Inherit the Stars was the first of his novels published that I found it my first year of college and could not put down. The plot is something of a detective story. In the near future, a survey team on the moon finds a dead fellow in space suit stuffed back in a rock crevice. By the look of it he has been dead a while. Under examination back at base, they nickname him Charlie. The features of his suit are kind of weird. The design is perfectly understandable but doesn’t fit standards present or past, and can’t be placed with any known suit made in the past. Then comes the big head scratcher after the carbon dating results come in. Charlie is 50,000 years old. His DNA is totally human – he can only come from Earth. So how did this guy die on the moon 50,000 years ago when modern humans were competing with the Neanderthals?

#3: Memoirs of Service Afloat During the War Between the States, Raphael Semmes

Although not fiction, the voyage of the C.S.S. Alabama is one of the great American stories. Semmes was her captain and a sly rapscallion who tells of the multi-year expedition to raid Union shipping from the Atlantic coast, Gulf of Mexico, South America, the South Atlantic, the Indian Ocean, South Africa, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean and back until bottled up at Cherbourg, France. With no escape possible, Semmes challenges the captain of the U.S.S. Kearsarge to a ship-to-ship duel. This is simply an amazing narrative and a fascinating window on American politics and points of view during the Civil War. You have to get past that Semmes is a man who resigned his naval commission to fight for the South and thinks this is a just cause. But he is a prickly type who is not what you expect. Also a lawyer, he goes on tangents regarding legal justifications the North employs to justify its actions. Seeing hypocrisy in how the Union confiscates slaves in Southern states as contraband of war in order to free them while ignoring slaves in Northern states, Semmes takes the first opportunity to liberate a young slave from his Maryland owner using the same pretext. The kid is given the choice of being put off at the port of call of his choosing or joining the crew, and the youngster chooses to become a paid member of the crew. Only recently did I learn that there is an old folk song they still sing in Cape Town about the return of the Alabama. The ditty has nothing to do with the politics of slavery but about the captured libations and food stores Semmes brought back to be sold off that made their way to the local population.

#2: The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett

The 1930s is an era I adore and The Maltese Falcon is a complete gem that never gets old or seems dated. Hammett sets the ground rules for all the detective fiction and Film Noir exposés that came later. There is an immediacy and drive to first-person pulp fiction that I find hard to resist. You can see the same virtues in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars. Hammett paints a world full of greed and avarice that is dark, grimy and completely alive. And he gives us a hero in Sam Spade who is hardened, rough around the edges and not exactly virtuous… yet completely irresistible.

#1: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne

Forget about the Disney movie, read the original material. Nemo is one of the great tortured villains ever written. He is one man at war with the British Empire and you can’t discount his reasons. There are huge doses of politics and moral outrage at play in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and in many ways modern readers have a hard time understanding why the guy is so pissed off. Not that the reasons are not presented, but that we lack the context. For example, I don’t remember being taught in school that the industrial revolution in Great Britain was funded by plunder from India. The history books I remember reading attributed the Industrial Revolution solely to the innate creativity and natural talents of the British. You have to read something like The Law of Civilization and Decay by Brooks Adams to learn differently. Nemo is a man whose entire life has been plundered by the British and he is out for payback. It is a rich and compelling character study that still haunts me.

MediaKit_BookCover_SudetenlandSudetenland is the premiere novel by author George T. Chronis. The book delivers suspenseful and sweeping historical fiction set against Central European intrigue during the late 1930s leading up to 1938’s Munich Conference. Having swallowed up Austria, Adolph Hitler now covets Czechoslovakian territory. Only France has the power to stand beside the government in Prague against Germany… but will she? The characters are the smart and sometimes wise-cracking men and women of this era – the foreign correspondents, intelligence officers, diplomats and career military – who are on the front lines of that decade’s most dangerous political crisis. If Czechoslovak president Edvard Beneš ignores the advice of French premier Édouard Daladier and refuses to give up Bohemian territory willingly, then Hitler orders that it be taken by force. The novel takes readers behind the scenes into the deliberations and high drama taking place within major European capitals such as Prague, Paris, Berlin, Vienna and London as the continent hurtles toward the crucible of a shooting war.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Ros strutted into Lasky’s office, coming to a dead end in front of the wood desk that was as long as Rhode Island. She tapped the sole of her shoe on the floor impatiently while Lasky bellowed at someone else in the newsroom. At least the afternoon view over Manhattan was pleasing. Blowing in like a foul wind, Lasky slammed the door and walked right past her.

“Boss, I’m sorry to run a little fast with your image back there,” Ros offered up in appeasement.

Still rounding his desk, Lasky shook her off with a wave of his hand. “Forget it. That’s not why you’re here. I have a job for you.”

Wondering whether she should be concerned or happy, Ros decided to play along. “What kind of job?”

Sitting down, Lasky rifled through some paperwork until he found the document he was looking for.

“Yeah, go find this guy Lester downstairs, he’ll get you all set up. Lodging, fares, advances, the whole low-down,” Lasky finished, handing her the form.

“Who’s Lester? What are you talking about? Where am I going?” she blurted out before taking a wild glance at the paperwork.

Lasky thought if he could keep Ros distracted, maybe he could get the problem child on the boat before she could cry about needing a raise. He reached out and grabbed the form back. Throwing it on the desktop, Lasky signed the paper with his fountain pen.

Done, he thrust the page back at Ros. “Paris. I’m sending you to Paris.”

Ros looked down at the form, then at Lasky, then back at the form. “I’m going to Paris? When did someone around here start liking me?”

“Stop dreaming, no one around here likes you,” Lasky taunted her while he walked back around to the front of his desk. “That screwy Miranda just stabbed me in the back. She found herself some guy over there, got married, and now she’s running off to some French island in the Caribbean. I need someone to pick up the pieces in Paris. That’s you.”

“Just slow down. Miranda got hitched?” all of the angles weren’t coming together in Ros’ head.

“Yeah, nice announcement: Hi Harry, I got married, and I quit,” Lasky mimicked a feminine voice. These damn ditzy broads were always letting him down. But Ros showed promise. Pointing his finger repeatedly at her nose, he continued his rant. “Miranda left me high and dry, so I’m sending you to pick up the pieces. You, I don’t have to worry about. With that mouth, no one is going to be marrying you.”

“Harry!” Ros yelled indignantly. “You’re not painting a very enticing picture for me here. What if I don’t want to go to Paris?”

Lasky stared at her incredulously. “Who doesn’t want to go to Paris? Any one of those stooges out there would kill to go to Paris but none of them have what you’ve got.”

With her natural skepticism starting to boil over, Ros leaned in closer and started jabbing Lasky in the shoulder with two fingers, slowly backing him up against the desk.

“I know what you’re up to Harry,” her tone low and threatening. “Miranda was on a fashion beat. That means to you the only thing I got that those mugs out there don’t have, is boobs. It’s another glorified gossip beat, you rat!”

“It’s Paris! C’mon, every woman wants to go to Paris,” Lasky shouted in his defense.

“That’s not the point,” Ros continued poking him. “I’m tired of going to county fairs. I’m tired of the only labor unrest stories coming my way having to be in washing machine factories. I’m tired of reporting on this ditzy socialite, and that boring dolt of a millionaire. I want a real beat like a real reporter, Harry. I can do the job just as good, or better, as those guys out there and I cost less.”

“Stop trying to get on my good side,” Lasky retorted, readying his counter attack. He hadn’t expected this much of a fight. But he needed her and he couldn’t run the risk of her bolting.

“Listen, give me a chance here. You’re the only person I’ve got who can jump in and take over for Miranda. But you’re also a hell of a lot better than she is… err, was. You won’t have to work as hard to cover her beat. In case you haven’t noticed, between the Nazis and Mussolini, there’s one crisis after another going on over in Europe. I’m sure there’s going to be some important stories Walter and our boys won’t be able to get to. What you do with your free time is up to you.”

Somewhere in there were a couple of compliments, but she wasn’t going to let him twist free that easily. Paris did sound kind of nice, and he was throwing her a bone in the way of real work, but Ros was sure the beat would take up more time than Lasky was promising, and she wanted something else from him… for pride, and because she could. So Ros just silently stared Lasky down, daring him to add one more carrot to get her to sign on.

“Okay, and I’ll throw in a raise,” Lasky conceded after a long standoff.

“Done!” Ros threw her arm out to shake hands with Lasky to seal the deal.

About the Author: MediaKit_BookCover_SudetenlandAfter years as a journalist and magazine editor, George T. Chronis decided to return to his lifelong passion, storytelling. A lover of both 1930s cinema and world history, Chronis is now devoted to bringing life to the mid-20th Century fictional narratives that have been in his thoughts for years. Sudetenland is his first novel. Taking place during turbulent times in Central Europe during the 1930s, the book took eight years to research and write. The author is already hard at work on his second novel.

Chronis is married with two daughters, and lives with his wife in a Southern California mountain community.

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Character Interview with Libby from Adding Lib by Kathryn Elliott – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Kathryn Elliott, author of the women’s fiction Adding Lib has stopped by with a character interview with Libby.

Welcome Libby! Tell the folks a little bit about your home life?

Why, don’t they have cable?

Fine, but I’m not all that exciting. I’m married; my husband Bo is a public defender and sexual God. (I had to say that so he’ll finish mowing the damn lawn.) We’ve got two kids, Shannon is thirteen and blissfully hormonal, while Charlie thinks second grade is the perfect place to exert his independence and declare war on bathing. Oh, and we’ve got a dog, Stump. He’s a rescue with flatulence issues. Yeah, we didn’t know that at the pound – not the kind of thing they disclose to eager adopters blinded by Labrador cuteness.

Then there’s my mother, Mae. (Insert ominous music here.)

Uh oh, how is your relationship with Mae?

Until a few weeks ago it was the typical mother-daughter stuff. Nagging, good-hearted teasing, nothing done without equal doses of love and laughter, but she’s getting strange – secretive almost, like she needs to tell me something but can’t find the words; even Jesus noticed. (Jesus is my pet name for my older brother, Sean. Mom treats him like the second coming – my younger brother Kevin and I feed the divine stereotyping at every opportunity.)

Mom asked me to take her to see a neurologist next week. Actually, she asked me more than once; that’s part of the problem. I mean I know it’s normal to get forgetful as we age – but there is something bigger going on.

Don’t misunderstand, Mom isn’t wearing her bra on the outside or anything like that, it’s just little things, out of place things. Caroline mentioned it the other day, too.

Who’s Caroline?

Oh, Car and I have been best friends since before we had permanent teeth. We met in second grade at Immaculate Conception Elementary and we’ve been raising hell ever since. She’s an honorary part of the family, always has been. She moved back to town after finally divorcing Steve-The-Schmuck; the man was a tool – good riddance! We all love having her back.

Well, that’s not exactly true.

Sean’s been an ass to Car the last few times we’ve all gotten together and I haven’t got a clue why. Wonder what’s up with that? If I didn’t know better I’d think they were hooking up but that’s just creepy. My brother and my best friend? Gross. I’m sure Mom would, LOVE it though; she’s tried to marry Sean off to every woman within a 100 mile radius. And let me tell you, the pickings in Rhyme, Connecticut are slim. Poor guy is swimming in a shallow dating pool – it ain’t pretty.

It sounds like life keeps you fairly busy; do you work outside the home?

Never harder than inside, but yes, I’m a librarian. Sexy, right? My boss, Dolores is a cardigan and pearl-clutching stickler for rules and regulations – a late-fee sadist, overdue fines get her hot. Last week someone slipped a DVD in the overnight drop slot two days tardy and she nearly fainted with glee- audio visual materials are double. Swear to God, I thought she was going to need an hour alone with Modern Senior Man and a refill on the estrogen pills.

What one piece of advice do you have for other women trying to balance it all?

Don’t.

You can’t.

I gave up worrying what other people think of me a long time ago and decided there’s no right or wrong way to live life – only your way. Sometimes that gels with the rest of the world, and sometimes you need to tell the PTO president to stick her bake sale in a body cavity and focus on family; family comes first, always – even my crazy bunch. We may not be perfect, but we know how to laugh, and life is better with laughter.

Thanks for stopping by, Libby. Anything else to add?

Nope, and it was my pleasure! But I need to get back to my chaos – if I leave Bob in charge too long Cub Scout meetings turn into Lord of the Flies reenactments.

Libby O’Rourke has a short fuse. Her mother, Mae, carries a big match. Engulfed in the never-ending life-juggling of suburbia, Libby fails to notice Mae’s emerging dementia symptoms until a kitchen fire puts the problem on the front burner.

Proficient in the art of denial, Mae brushes the shattering diagnosis aside and sets her sights on a matchmaking crusade for her eldest son. After all, if her lucid days are numbered, Mae’s going to make damned sure he makes it down the aisle while she still recognizes the groom.

It’s going to take a razor wit and an iron stomach to handle Mae’s diagnosis. Thankfully, just like her mother Libby has both.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Libby felt the weight of the coming conversation bear down on her shoulders like a lead blanket and struggled to find the right words.

“It’s all right, Libby,” Mae said, interrupting her thoughts. “Say what you need to. We’re here for a reason. We both know it.”

Shocked by her mother’s perception, Libby stared at Mae.

The older woman’s eyes were moist but holding back. She continued. “Spit it out, honey. I won’t have a public tantrum. It’s obvious you have something important to talk to me about, and I think you’ve delayed long enough.”

Libby’s shoulders slumped. “How’d you know?”

“Well, let’s examine the facts…” Mae grinned despite the gravity of the moment. “You took me to church, plied me with brunch, and now you’re standing there biting your bottom lip raw. Daddy used to call that your tell. We always knew something was wrong if your bottom lip looked like it had a run-in with a cheese grater.”

“Huh?” Libby ran her tongue over her bottom lip. “I never noticed.”

“In your teens, we were pretty sure you were going to bite clean through it,” Mae joked. “At least your nervous habit isn’t offensive; whenever Kevin lies, he grabs his testicles. Since the day he was born that boy treated his penis like an accessory. It’s terribly inappropriate, especially at parties.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kathryn Elliott is a lifetime journalist with awards in political satire, human interest, and commentary. A Connecticut native, she is a happily married mother of two sons with high hopes one of them will pay for a delightful rest home.

A true believer in laughter’s healing power, Kathryn writes characters whose flaws resonate with readers long after “The End.”

ADDING LIB is her debut novel, and the first in The McGinn Series.

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Hope, Feathers, and Blogging: Advice for Being a Writer Today by Scott D. Southard – Guest Post and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour. NOTE: the book is on sale for $1.99 during the course of the tour!

Hope, Feathers, and Blogging: Advice for Being a Writer Today
Scott D. Southard
Being a writer is not easy.

I’ve been chasing this dream since I was a teenager. I have had three different agents in my time, worked with numerous publishers and I have had highs (for example, the publication of my new novel Permanent Spring Showers) and lows. I’ve gotten close to achieving some of my dreams, and I’ve fallen a few times from them as well. There was even a point where I walked away from writing for four years.

Four years.

That is not to say I wasn’t getting ideas during that time and still dreaming something might happen, I was just exhausted and nothing felt worth the inevitable disappointment that I was sure would follow. Everything looked like a negative query letter waiting to happen. Yeah, I was fun to be around.

~~~~~

The market today is congested. It could be argued that there are more writers than readers out there, especially with the explosion of indie presses, eBooks, and self-publishing. In many ways, I think this shows a strong future for the artform, but right now it is a lot of noise and it is hard for readers sometimes to find those new voices in the masses. In time, the right filters will come in and it will be easier to sort; that just hasn’t happened yet. So our books hide in the search pages on Amazon and we authors wait with bated breath.

Also, there are less agents and bigger publishers willing to take a chance on a new voice (especially one daring to do something truly innovative). The agents take a risk with each new author they sign, and publishing houses are based on business models. In other words, you need to prove almost that your work is sellable and will not be a loss for them. I think that, right there, is one of the reasons so many complain about how so many books feel the same on the market. It’s like how Apple creates an iPad and suddenly every company wants to make a tablet.

Honestly, tablets are pretty cool, but you get where I’m going.

~~~~~

From time to time I will answer a question from a new writer (when I’m speaking at a writing event or at a college), seeking advice for how they can succeed in their own writing dream. While a part of me wants to tell them it is all about luck (like winning the lottery or, as in the world of publishing, being Anne Rice’s or Stephen King’s kids), that is not always entirely true.

The fact is that in today’s writing world, I have found that if you want to be an author, you need to focus on your own career first. What I mean is, you need to convince an agent or publisher that you are even worthy of their time to review even a snippet of a manuscript. Yes, you need something beyond the fiction to back up the query letter.

What has worked for me, and what I would recommend to other writers hoping to find a readership is… start a blog.

A blog is great practice (you want to see if you have the chops to be a writer, keep an active blog for a year and get back to me) and a blog will give you actual data that you can use to find that agent or publisher. I started my blog (The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard at sdsouthard.com) over two years ago and it has really turned things around for me as an author.

That is not to say this is easy, you need to generate a lot of posts and they have to be more than just on one thing. You need to have a voice so that the people following you feel that they know you. I’m not saying you have to share every aspect of your life, but you need to share enough so people feel they are along with you on a journey.

For some that might sound scary, exposing yourself like that (and aren’t many of us introverts, really?), but for me I still find it empowering. And because of that blog, I have had my social media accounts skyrocket. For example, I have over 35,000 twitter followers. Sure, some of those found me simply because I am a writer, but many went on to find my website and then my own writing. I have the data.

And how about this- my twitter and blog introduced me to the publisher of my novel A Jane Austen Daydream and to the publisher of my new novel Permanent Spring Showers. Neither of those books today would be on the market without my blog.

There are few guarantees about anything in the writing world, but a blog is… a piece of awesomeness.

~~~~~

If my own kids were to come up to me and say they want to be an author, I’m not sure what I would say exactly.

I’d probably have a heart to heart about how difficult the field is, but I think a person should follow their passion. Life is short, why spend it doing something you don’t want to? And for as much as I have had highs and lows, I’ve always followed my heart on this and it is really hard for me to look back at my life as a missed opportunity. They are all part of the path I’ve chosen.

Yeah, I would say I’m living the life of an author, it is just different than what it traditionally has been viewed as. And I still have hope that my career will continue to grow, and hope is a powerful thing. Emily Dickinson said hope is the thing with feathers. The trick really is sometimes learning to recognize the feathers. I recognize my blog as one of them.

Professor Rebecca Stanley-Wilson is having a very bad season. The ramifications of one torrid evening with one of the great upcoming painters of his generation, will not only be felt across her life but over the entire art world. Sexy, funny, and very surprising, Permanent Spring Showers is the tale of one very memorable springtime and how it impacts a group of unique artists and dreamers. From the the hopeful Olympian with the failing marriage to the writer who is creating a new literary movement (through outright manipulation) to the romantic wondering what he did wrong to drive away the love of his life, each tale walks the line between reality and fantasy. And waiting at the end of the line is a very important painting… and possibly the revolver used in the Lincoln Assassination.

Enjoy an excerpt:

“What are you thinking? She’s an escort!”

“I’m in love, Steve. After sitting through the first twenty minutes of this lunch, it’s obvious you certainly still remember what that feeling is like.” He pushed his plate forward.

“But Clark…” I began.

He interrupted, “And it’s not like she wants to do that her entire life, Steve, if that is what is troubling you. She is doing it to pay for college.”

I stopped, the car of my mind shifting gears again. “Wait, did you say ‘is’? Do you mean she is still doing it?”

“Well, times are tough all over,” Clark replied far too calmly for my taste. “Have you seen college tuition rates this year?”

“And she’s really in college?” I asked, shocked. I began to wonder if I was on one of those TV shows and a camera was hidden in a bush nearby me.

My shock was perfectly mirrored by the opposite reflection of the casualness of my brother.

“You didn’t think I would marry an idiot did you, Steve? I need to be mentally challenged, you know that. She is studying education; her dream’s to teach third graders.”

“You’re engaged to a hooker…”

“Escort,” he corrected quickly for a third time.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” I said sarcastically. “You are engaged to an active escort who wants to be an elementary school teacher?”

“Yes,” Clark said with a dramatic point across the table at me. “And Steve, this is where you come in. You need to help me introduce her to mom and dad.”

Scott D. Southard is the author of A Jane Austen Daydream, Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare, My Problem With Doors, Megan, 3 Days in Rome and Me Stuff in addition to his latest release, Permanent Spring Showers. His eclectic writing has also found its way into radio, as Scott was the creator of the radio comedy series The Dante Experience. The production was honored with the Golden Headset Award for Best MultiCast Audio and the Silver Ogle Award for Best Fantasy Audio Production. Scott received his Master’s in writing from the University of Southern California. Scott can be found on the internet via his writing blog “The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard” where he writes on topics ranging from writing, art, books, TV, writing, parenting, life, movies, and writing. He even shares original fiction on the site. His blog can be found at http://sdsouthard.com. Scott is also the fiction book reviewer for WKAR’s daily radio show Current State.

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The Chapels on the Hill by Virginia McCullough – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Virginia will award one randomly drawn winner a digital copy of one of her fiction books via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

When tragedy struck, Sonia and Aaron’s reason to be together seemed to slip away, along with the love they once shared. Both believe they’ll find closure at an event dedicating a music pavilion to their son, allowing them to say a final goodbye and freeing them to commit to new relationships. But instead of finding peace, memories of the life they shared with their son, Matt, stir up unexpected feelings, prompting them to relive both sweet and painful times of their shared memories of the life they shared…

And they can’t forget Matt’s special gift…

By age five, Matt’s cello teacher declared him a child prodigy. But life with a prodigy can become complicated and even strains Aaron and Sonia’s marriage. Sonia is forced to balance her commitment to Matt and his music with running Chapel’s Botanical Garden, a business she created to save Aaron’s family’s land. Aaron’s law practice leads him to high-profile cases all over the country. Aaron is concerned about music dominating Matt’s childhood, but he eventually understands his son’s gift is already leading him to a life far away from their home in Lady’s River, Wisconsin.

When Matt is taken from them unexpectedly, Aaron and Sonia turn in different directions, eventually going their separate ways. It seems to be working…or is it? For Sonia and Aaron, only a trip through the past will allow them to redeem the future—perhaps even find a shared future again.

Enjoy an excerpt:

He had to make a decision and stick to it. For days, Aaron had shifted back and forth between a firm choice to attend the dedication of the pavilion and an equally strong conviction to skip the event altogether. Nothing worked harder on the knot of tension in his gut than indecision.

He picked up the announcement and scanned it once again. It had Sonia’s fingerprints all over it. Well, not literally, but the neat, easy-to-read embossed lettering matched her taste. Aaron no longer followed the Unity Flight Family Group’s activities as closely as he once had, but when he’d first heard their plan to build an open-air pavilion on the site of the plane crash he’d known instantly it had been Sonia’s idea. The dedication of this final memorial also marked the five-year anniversary of the day they lost Matt forever.

Aaron pushed his chair back from the desk and made his way to the window that spanned the outside wall. On a clear day, he could look down from his twentieth floor office and see the Chicago River below, but that afternoon heavy rain pelted the glass, blocking the view he usually found comforting. He’d lived most of his fifty years in a small town where a river served as the one constant, a reference point for home. Maybe that explained why he’d been drawn to the river in his adopted city, the place where he’d resolved to start over and build a new life.

Absently slapping the announcement into the palm of his other hand, he rationalized that he could use the weather as an excuse not to go to the dedication ceremony. Or, he could beg off because of scheduled weekend depositions.

Bestselling author Virginia McCullough’s fiction titles include Amber Light, Greta’s Grace, Island Healing, Book 1 of her St. Anne’s Island Series, and The Chapels on the Hill. The Jacks of Her Heart, which releases in May 2015, offers a lighter take on romance in middle-age. Her novels offer hope, healing, and plenty of second chances—and her characters always share some fun and laughter along the way, too.

A lifelong writer, Virginia has written over 100 books as a ghostwriter or coauthor. Her clients include well-known doctors, lawyers, professional speakers, and individuals with a story to tell. She’s come to see that her nonfiction work also offers readers hope and healing. Virginia coauthored (w/Lynda McDaniel) Write Your Book Now and Storytelling Toolkit, both available on amazon.com. She currently lives in Wisconsin. Visit Virginia online:

Website: http://www.virginiamccullough.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/virginia.mccullough.7

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VEMcCullough

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/virginia-mccullough/12/835/84

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/468913.Virginia_McCullough

Buy the book:

Barnes and Noble: www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-chapels-on-the-hill-virginia-mccullough/1118731987

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Virginia-McCullough/e/B001JRXBNQ

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Dueling Personalities by C.M. Subasic – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Dueling personalities

“In your dreams you can have your eggs any way you want them, but you cannot eat them.” ~ Anna Freud

Developing a good story is a lot like sex (in a snow globe).

The story starts as a small shiver of hope, a spark in my imagination. The tricky thing is, I can dream about my story all I like, but until pen is put to paper, it doesn’t exist. Even then, getting from concept to satisfaction rarely happens in one stream of consciousness spill. Just like sex, it’s a lot messier than that, full of wrong moves and embarrassing passages.

One process I use to get through all the confusing messiness is to recognize the difference between my creative inner voice and my inner critical voice. Each has its purpose, but at different stages of the process.

The artist’s role is to feel out the scene rather than think it out, get into the skin of the characters, see the world from their perspective. That, is, they go into the snow globe and look around. Their job is to look in all directions, no matter how crazy. It’s messy good fun.

I’ll jot notes in a word document, on index cards, write by hand, draw little pictures, sometimes even writing with crayons on big pieces of paper. What colour is the room? What am I writing about? Details come in snippets: Is Josie in a rush, if so where is she going, what will she do there, what is she thinking as she hurries along? Thoughts, feelings, colours, textures, smells, essences. These are my artist swatches.

In this work I must banish the critic because she will always find some rule or such to ruin the party.

But eventually, I need the critic to pull on her glasses and take a look at the mess. Her job is to find the shape, the structure, the through-line. In some cases she gets all academic on me, looking up different story types or references, identifying the rules of storytelling. Is the story a rags to riches tale, or is it about conquering a monster? If so, what elements are required so I can make sure they are included. Like, a monster story isn’t a monster story without a monster, right? Well, duh… (the artist tends to forget such picky details).

There are points where both roles need to work together. Say, when I’m looking at upping the drama ante. In a scene where two people decide to go out on a date, how I can make it so they reveal more of themselves to each other? Should I put them in a rain storm so the girl has to share her soggy but large newspaper with him? Does he spill a coffee on her in a most embarrassing way (and then, does she hold her purse over the stain, or insist on getting it wiped up immediately?)

Back and forth I go, from artist to critic. Big picture to details and back again. Inside the snow globe, outside the snow globe. It’s a dance, a seduction, as we go back and forth looking at a single scene, or sometimes the entire work.

Before I discovered this ability to switch I was always at war with myself, not knowing when to dissect or when to freewheel it. I believe it’s a part of any artist’s job to develop this split personality awareness.

For readers out there, how does the overall journey of a story impact the words on the page you’re reading right now? How does the relationship between the whole story and the individual moment you are reading right this minute affect your experience of the whole?

TheFortyWattFlowers_coverAll Trisha wants to do is create something meaningful. Since she’s living in Athens, GA, she brings four other women together and the rock band The Forty Watt Flowers is formed. But making good music isn’t as easy as it sounds. From the jock atmosphere of the garage where they rehearse to the beer-soaked bars when they gig, these five young women struggle to find beauty in the mess of notes they try to play and the chaos of their lives.

Enjoy an excerpt:

First Rehearsal, Aline & Trisha

Trisha sat on the curb beside her. “Aline, I’m not an experienced musician or anything. I have no idea what we’re doing. I’m just—”

“You’re going to do very well at this, I can tell,” Aline said.

“How?”

“I just can, that’s all.”

Their gazes met. Aline’s smile was so open, like a warm bath.

Trisha asked, “When you write a poem, how do you do it?”

Aline bit her lip. “A poem for me …” She shook her head, started again, “The first thing I do is I get all quiet and I listen.”

“Listen?”

Aline nodded. “I start with something that resonates with me,” she said. “It’s like I’m looking for the seed. That seed has to shake, like all of inside me is just going B-O-I-N-G-! B-O-I-N-G-!”

Trisha repeated, “Boing.”

Aline sang, drawing it out, “B-O-I-N-G —I-N-G!”

Trisha repeated, “B-O-I-N-G —I-N-G!”

Aline smiled. “You got it.” Then with eyes intent on that interior space of hers, she continued, “Well, that boing gives me a beat. Some days, there’s nothing there. Other days, there’s ten or twelve ideas screaming and it scares me. And then I—”

A thought rang like a chord, high and clear in Trisha’s thoughts. She wasn’t sure if it was because of what Aline had said, or if she’d just needed the space to let it appear. But there it was. She jumped up.

“Aline?” she said.

“Yes?”

“We need to get back in there.”

About the Author:MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_TheFortyWattFlowersColleen is award-winning editor who started her writing life as a playwright. She has had 7 plays produced across Canada and worked with the likes of Samantha Bee (yes, from The Daily Show) and Leah Cherniak.

Her plays include Back Alley Boys about the hardcore punk scene in Toronto, Eye am Hear which tells the tale of a luddite teenage squatters at some undetermined punkish time in the future, A Brief Case of Crack Addicted Cockroaches about the relationship between the media and politics featuring a city councillor who smokes crack (which was never produced because it was too off the wall) and Interbastation about the beauty in ugliness and the ugliness in beauty. Her novel Public Image tied for second in the Anvil Press International 3-day Novel competition.

In addition to her work as a playwright, Colleen puts on the dramaturgy, editor and script doctor hats for a range of publishers, producers and writer clients. She has a Master in Creative Writing from the prestigious UBC Department of Theatre, Film and Creative Writing and has taught play writing at the university level. She’s also done the Board of Directors thing with the Playwrights Guild of Canada, The Playwrights Theatre Centre in Vancouver and other arts organizations.

She was managing editor of Taking the Stage: Selections from plays by Canadian Women which was selected as the “most saleable dramatic publication of the year” by the Canadian Booksellers’ Association. She has also been awarded Arts Council grants by the province of Ontario and Nova Scotia. She has served on the judging panel of several internationl novel awards. Her one-person play Interbastation was selected as one of the top-10 best shows by CBC Winnipeg in 1998.

She lived in Athens from 1999 to 2001 and, while there, reviewed and edited manuscripts for Hill Street Press.

Colleen currently resides in her birthplace, Toronto, with three grey cats and a drawer full of lint brushes.

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The Tyranny of Facts by Joel Fishbane – Guest Blog

THE TYRANNY OF FACTS
or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Fiction
Joel Fishbane

There’s that old proverb about writing being one-tenth inspiration and nine-tenths sweat, but I think that ratio needs adjusting: at least one of those tenths has to be reserved for the act of reading other people’s books. A good writer is a great reader. Archimedes famously got inspiration while taking a bath but he was in mathematics; my own Eureka-moment came while reading P.T. Barnum’s 1869 autobiography, Struggles and Triumphs.

Writing about the various marvels he showed at his “American Museum”, Barnum wrote briefly about Anna Swan, declaring that “she was an intelligent and by no means ill-looking girl.” The comment intrigued me. Here was a woman who was around eight feet tall and Barnum had reduced her to a paragraph that was 160 words long – 161 if you count “ill-looking” as two separate words.

The idea of using Anna’s life as the basis for a novel did not come all at once. She simply began to sweep around my head, where she eventually mingled with a short story I was writing in which an actor named Nicholas was in love with a very tall girl named Andorra. Creative evolution did the rest.

Researching Anna’s life revealed a frustrating truth: everything we know about her comes from someone else. There are no letters, diaries, or quotes. Barnum tells us she was intelligent but we have no proof for ourselves: history has robbed us of her voice. This is a shame because Anna witnessed the American Civil War, Canadian Confederation, the reign of Queen Victoria, the abolition of slavery, and the beginnings of the woman’s right’s movement (the first woman’s right’s convention happened two years after her birth). She must have had some interesting thoughts – already unique, she almost certainly would have had the perspective of an outsider looking in.

Anna was silent but her world wasn’t: there is no shortage of information about the era in which she lived. The first draft of my novel was 190,000 words, which is almost three times as long as it is now. It had been weighed down by what I like to call the Tyranny of Fact: I had tried to put every last bit of research onto the page. It was good history but it was bad fiction. And so the rebellion began.

The novel belongs to two women – Anna Swan and Andorra, the woman hired to play Anna in the movie based on her life. Any fact that helped me tell their story stayed; anything extraneous was promptly deleted. I was surprised by what I cut. In 1865, for instance, there was a fire at Barnum’s Museum and it was reported that Anna was carried to safety via a fireman’s derrick. I always assumed this story would make it into the book but the attentive reader will not find it in the final draft. Given that the book jumps from 1863 to 1871, the story of the fire became a digression. The book never suggests it didn’t happen; it’s simply a tale that now lives between the lines (or the chapters, as the case may be).

I was also saddened to cut the story of Isaac Sprague, the living skeleton who the newspapers called Anna’s “best friend.” Possible reporter’s hyperbole aside, there is something enchanting about the idea of an eight foot tall girl being friends with a man who is only 43 pounds. Yet as I edited, I found I couldn’t give Isaac a narrative role that wasn’t already being fulfilled by others. This is the harsh part of historical fiction. Isaac was no doubt important to Anna, but I exiled him so I could write a stronger book.

In the end, Anna Swan lived in the world of myth and while most myths are based on fact, they always spin off into a fictional extreme. It is appropriate, I think, that fact and fiction should be blended in the retelling of Anna’s life. Let the actual historians set the record straight; as for me, I’m satisfied that I didn’t reduce her life to a handful of pithy sentences. She was more than the sum of her measurements – and of the few words that Barnum used to describe her.

4_23 fishbane thunder of giantsFrom Canadian novelist and playwright Joel Fishbane, comes the extraordinary, out-of-this-world tale of The Thunder of Giants. Nearly 8-feet tall and hoping to build a better life for her children, Andorra Kelsey escapes to Hollywood to star in a film about Anna Swan, the giantess who toured the world as part of P.T. Barnum’s American Museum decades earlier. Their stories parallel each other as both women struggle to find tranquility in a world that sees them as anything but human. Anna and Andorra long for normalcy, but first must tackle the society that is too small to contain them. Will Anna and Andorra find love and peace? Will society see them as more than the mere sum of their measurements? This story, with its underlying themes of the ever-present issues of body image in society, captivated my heart and blew me away.

About the Author:4_23 author photo 8188251
JOEL FISHBANE is a novelist, playwright, sous-chef, actor, trivia host, amateur boxer, occasional clarinet player and general man about town. His various plays, short stories, articles, critiques and literary musings have been published, performed, honored, and otherwise applauded in Canada, the United States and Europe. He lives in Toronto and almost always wears a hat. For more information, visit www.JoelFishbane.com.

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Square Affair by Timmothy J. Holt – Guest Blog

4_22 timmporchLong and Short Reviews welcomes Timmothy J. Holt, whose latest book Square Affair was released earlier this year.  Please see our review here.

Guest Blog
 

Ann Buxton, founder of Straight Spouse Network, has estimated that in at least two million marriages, a spouse has revealed being gay, lesbian, or bisexual. I am one of those men.

Growing up in a small Midwestern town during the 60’s, I was expected to marry and have children, even though I knew, deep down, it wasn’t for me. I knew about the affair in the courthouse and secretly longed to have known the men. I didn’t find gay sex in the courthouse, but found it in many places after my marriage and move to Chicago. I found it in store restrooms, movie houses, peep shows, steam rooms, and forest preserves looking for anonymous sex with other men. The police never caught me, but my wife did. My subsequent divorce outed me to my family and to the world. The story of Square Affair became my story, a complex tale of social norms that didn’t match my biological need. I loved and still love my ex-wife, but it was not fair to continue the betrayal, no matter how hard it was to face the truth. My world needed to eliminate the lies, no matter how painful, just as did the city of Dewers.

4_22 SquareAffair_Cover ImageIn the small Midwestern town of Dewers, among the turmoil of the 1960s, the conversations of five men leads to sexual exploration, which takes them and the town on a journey through good and evil that will change the entire community and confirm the town’s resolve to survive.

Arrested on charges of public indecency for anonymous sex in the courthouse restroom, five men reveal complex, unknown, and differing motivations for their actions. As they face not only criminal prosecution, but also the tribunal of Dewers, two questions are on their minds: Who am I, and is anyone out there like me?

Clara May and Frieda, guardians of Dewers gossip, narrate Square Affair, where the reader becomes a citizen of Dewers: walking the square, in a bar drinking, trick-or-treating, in a store buying a hat, or in a car gossiping. It is not erotic, but gives the reader an insight into the behavior’s erotic appeal.

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