Nobel Prize Laureate: Louise Glück

Born in 1943 in New York, Louise Glück who lives in Massachusetts and is also a professor of English at Yale University, is this years recipient of the Nobel Prize for literature.

Glück was recognised for “her unmistakable poetic voice, that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal” said the Swedish Academy, which oversees the award.

Her poetry focuses on the painful reality of being human and pens down poems around themes such as death, childhood, and family life. (Nithya Nair)

A former U.S. poet laureate, Glück had already received virtually every honour possible for a poet, including the Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for “The Wild Iris”

The book is a collection of 54 poems on the subject of gardening in which Louise Glück gives the flowers voices as they pass though their different stages. She also writes about the person tending the garden and the Almighty supervisor.

The Wild Iris

At the end of my suffering
there was a door.


Hear me out: that which you call death
I remember.

Overhead, noises, branches of the pine shifting.
Then nothing. The weak sun
flickered over the dry surface.

It is terrible to survive

as consciousness
buried in the dark earth.

Then it was over: that which you fear, being
a soul and unable
to speak, ending abruptly, the stiff earth
bending a little. And what I took to be
birds darting in low shrubs.

You who do not remember
passage from the other world
I tell you I could speak again: whatever
returns from oblivion returns
to find a voice:

from the center of my life came
a great fountain, deep blue
shadows on azure seawater.

For a writer, Louise Gluck’s poetry is an example of the efficacy of writing.

In an article for the Atlantic titled The Many Beginnings of Louise Glück , Walt Hunter cites the openings of two poems and clearly explains why these lines are perfect:

“Illuminations,” a poem about a child learning language by looking outside at the snow-covered world, starts with the line

My son squats in the snow in his blue snowsuit.

Another poem, “Happiness,” begins

A man and woman lie on a white bed.

These two images are remarkable not for their strangeness or novelty, but rather for their ordinariness and familiarity, and for their emergence from a kind of psychological family album. These single lines feel impossible to edit or to make more precise: Each has a figure (child, couple), an orientation (squatting, lying down), a place (snow, bed), and a single color (white bed, blue snowsuit). The simplicity of these images suggest exquisite craft and revision.

Because of the pandemic the Nobel Prize ceremony, normally held in Sweden in December, will be held in 2021.

For more information on Female Nobel Prize Laureates visit my series

HERE

Warning Signs: A Story about Obsession

It is always a pleasure to have someone write such a warm review of my book. I am so grateful for this opportunity to not only expose my latest crime novel to the many bloggers who follow me but also to introduce Anneli Purchase to those who may not yet know her and her beautiful photographs, her writing tips and her many novels that deserve to be discovered.
This weekend, is Thanksgiving in Canada and this review gives me reason to count all my blessings. Wherever you are, may you always find something to be thankful for.

Anneli's Place

Horror and gruesome killing upset me and I don’t like to read about these details. But author, Carol Balawyder, handles the murder scenes in her novel about a serial killer so deftly that I just wanted to keep turning pages – never having the urge to hide my eyes – only wanting to know more.

Once I was hooked (on the first page), she introduced the characters gradually, allowing me to get to know them as they each struggled with various dilemmas. Ms. Balawyder expertly slipped in details that would be needed later to make the culmination of the plot flow easily. Nothing happens that seems contrived, because the groundwork was laid earlier in the book.

Each of the characters had major flaws but they also had redeeming traits. Even Eugene, the serial killer, was not all bad. Imagine empathizing with a serial killer!

The tension regarding the murderer escalates…

View original post 149 more words

Anneli Purchase: Reckoning Tide

Two men want the same woman but for different reasons. Jim wants to love Andrea while for Robert she is a possession for him to do whatever he wants with her.

Anneli Purchase portrays a realistic picture of the lasting fear and degradation which victims of domestic violence endure.  After escaping an abusive marriage as shown in Anneli’s previous book The Wind Weeps,  Andrea finds herself, along with Jim, continuing to run from Robert’s violence and cruelty. He is determined to bring Andrea back to live with him.

Think of a book or film with a car chase in it. Now think of this chase being not in cars but in boats as Andrea and Jim try to stay a step ahead of Robert as they go through the many inlets, bays and arms off Vancouver Island on their way north to fish. The setting plays a major role in the novel as Anneli Purchase immerses the reader through the various channels and sounds.

Fitzhugh Sound was like a freeway, a huge, wide water highway.

The setting is also used as a metaphor for the novel’s plot where at times it is smooth sailing and calm while other times there are obstacles to face:

The tide would run into flats so quickly.

I got swiftly carried into this book. I particularly liked that the romance in the book was told from one of the male character’s perspective and the sex scenes between Jim and Andrea were absolutely enjoyable and surprisingly sizzling.

Jill Weatherholt: A Home For Her Daughter

It’s so comforting to read about good, honest people who care about each other.

A Home for Her Daughter is the fourth novel in Jill Weatherholt’s Love Inspired Series. The novel is character driven with the three stars Janie and her joyful, whimsical daughter Riley and Drew, a man Janie once had a high school crush on. I found it easy to get into the story and Jill made her characters come alive in a calm setting that I could easily visualize.

Both Janie and Drew have been hurt by love. For Janie hers was by an abusive husband and Jill Weatherholt shows the realistic long lasting damaging effects which abuse can have on a person. Not just physical abuse but psychological abuse. Janie believes that she is good at nothing while Drew carries with him the guilt over his wife and young daughter’s deaths.  

After her divorce from her abusive husband, Janie moves with her daughter to her home town, a beautiful place where everyone helps each other.  There she meets up with Drew, of all places, in a notary’s office, where they are both mentioned in a will. The catch: they must work together to build a camp for young children.

Although there are obvious sparks and chemistry between Janie and Drew their past pain keeps them from going there. Neither feel worthy of having a relationship. And neither is willing or ready to share the cause of their pain.

This is a very tender romance story which I found pure pleasure in reading. It’s compelling how three people can have such a strong loving bond together. This is a story about hope and how the world is a soft place when inhabited by kindness, caring, loving and the unwillingness to hurt anyone.

I’ve read two of her novels in this series (A Mother for his Twins and Second Chance Romance). After reading  A Home for Her Daughter I think it’s safe to say that you can count on Jill Weatherholt to deliver a story filled with tenderness, hope and a longing for goodness.  

Jacqui Murray: Against All Odds

It is ironic, I suppose, that my first post while learning how to use the new WordPress Block Editor is on Jacqui Murray’s latest novel Against All Odds. I say this because I am not very techy but Jacqui is a tech geek and trainer. I am quite certain that we’ll soon find some WordPress Block Editor tips on her blog.

https://jacquimurray.net/blogs/my-techie-side/

What has taken me hours to maneuver around this new WordPress editor and listening to YouTube tutorials would surely have taken Jacqui a much, much shorter time to process this new information.

Tech training requires analytical skills and sound research, two qualities which are present in her novels.

Spread throughout her novel are lovely literary gems bringing life to the many prehistoric settings the novel takes us to.

Xhosa increased their pace, up and down one rise and another, through a copse of lonely trees, and then around a rock formation as big as a family of elephants.

Xhosa trotted into the grove of narrow trees with spiky leaves, over a carpet of ankle-high leaves that muffled her footsteps. Her feet made a soft swishing noise as she walked, like the murmur of stream.

The enchanting names for her characters (Pan-do, Red Wolf, Spirit, Black Wolf, Seeker, Rainbow… give the story a fairy-tale fantasy genre. Although, Against All Odds is a fictitious story of migration in pre-historic times it also based on pre-historic reality.

Xhosa is the heroine and leader. She is on a mission to find for herself and her People a home base. She exhorts leadership traits such as empathy, caring for others, and collaboration with other tribes. Her kindness and persistence bring other tribes to join her fight for survival

…despite extreme adversity, well-equipped predators, and a violent natural environment that routinely asks them to do the impossible.

Jacqui Murray is a writers’ writer as well as being a writer for lovers of pre-historic fiction and strong female heroines.

If you’re feeling, like me, frustrated with learning this new editor, take a break and read Jacqui’s book. It will take you far away from the world of technology. Now how can I add a smiley emoji?

Bau: Portrait of a Dog

Portrait of Bau

Before the lockdown occurred I would go do volunteer work at a school in Point St. Charles which has been known as one of the Toughest Neighbourhoods in Canada.

Without sounding like I am bragging, the children and staff LOVED me. It’s nice to have someone show their appreciation towards you and openly express how happy they are to see you.

People don’t do that so much, I’ve noticed. As for me, I’m always happy to see my mistress and I can tell you that I don’t hold back. I race to her as soon as she comes in the door and jump up and down placing my front paws on her legs and sometimes even doing a little dance. I think people should take a lesson from me and show those they love how much they like being with them.

Because of the lockdown I haven’t been back to the school and so I keep this portrait (which Cameron, one of the young boys, drew of me) as a reminder of how great it feels for someone to care enough about you that they want to draw your portrait.

For all of you who love dogs

Artists will be featured virtually on our website, throughout our social media channels and in the Museum pending reopening guidelines, between August 24th – September 7th.

  

logo museum of the dog

 

 

 

 

Janet Gogerty: At The Seaside Nobody Hears You Scream

janet-gogerty At The Seaside Nobody Hears You Scream

 

Toby Channing, a young psychologist, is on a mission. His girlfriend Anna has gone missing. The problem is that he was the last person to see her alive and so her family (along with others) suspect him of murdering her. Did he or didn’t he?

In an attempt to find her, he uses his camping van and poses as a private investigator specializing in missing persons. As he tours around the many different areas he has gone with Anna, a slew of different characters approach him with their own cases of missing persons (one being even a robot). As Toby solves these cases his search for Anna intensifies.

Janet Gogerty  takes us into Toby’s head – his fears, his loneliness, his unpleasant relationship with Anna’s parents – especially her father who wants nothing to do with Toby as he suspects him of murdering his daughter, his relationship with his parents (rather warm) and his pregnant sister. The novel is a mixture of domestic gambol and a complex solving of finding Anna, the love of his life. It is a mystery full of suspense, romance and a study of ordinary people desiring to live a more satisfying life.

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like being a private detective, Janet Gogerty’s Toby Channing the Camper Van Detective, through his various cases, illustrates that the job is not all about solving murder cases. In fact, not all missing cases, as is pointed out in this novel, are about crime. But Anna’s case is.

 

Comparables: Where Does Your Book Fit In?

Not too long ago dgkayewriter  posted on her noteworthy blog a link to the app (I Write Like) which, when you paste a paragraph of your writing, the app compares you to famous writers by analyzing your word choice and writing style.

That amusing exercise got me thinking of comparables. Whether you are writing non-fiction or fiction, self-publishing or going the tradition route, comparables (comps) help the reader and book seller know where your book fits in. Knowing your comps will help you know where your niche is in the marketplace.

Where would your book be placed in a book store or library and within that category whose books would you compare yours to?

Michael Dellert, an award winning writer, editor, publishing consultant, and writing coach with a publishing career spanning 18 years posted an interesting article on comparables.

What makes YOUR book stand out?

Publishers and agents generally want to see “comparables”: other fiction books on the market today that have an audience comparable to yours, that have themes, settings, and characters comparable to yours, that have a market niche comparable to yours, and then they want to know what sets your book apart from those.

Editor Rachelle Gardner in a post titled Know Your Competition adresses the question of comps:

Search for possible competitive or comparable books using a variety of means; don’t limit yourself to one particular search term or one method. Go deeper than the titles to make sure you’re not missing anything. Search on various websites besides Amazon. If you’re writing a Christian book, use Christianbook.com.

And in another article on comps Rachel Gardener offers this advice:

Ask yourself, “Who are my readers? What are they reading right now?” Those are your comparable books.

Keep this line in mind:
“People who enjoy the following books are likely to enjoy my book.”

You can use that line in a proposal, then follow it with the comparable books, and for each one, a brief explanation of why your book would appeal to those same readers. This approach frees you from trying to decipher what an agent is looking for, and instead, use those comps to identify your audience.

It’s tricky finding comparables. For example, in my crime novel Warning Signs the protagonist finds herself in a relationship with a serial killer. The detective investigating the serial killer’s crimes has a romance going with a suspect. Taking those two important elements of the novel do I compare my novel with those which have serial killers in them or do I compare it to stories about romance? Warning Signs also deals with mental illness so should I compare the novel with other novels dealing with mental illness? Or do I compare it to a noir novel?

Here are some comps I found for Warning Signs. People who enjoyed these books are likely to enjoy Warning Signs.

The Perfect Husband by Lisa Gardner (What would you do if the man of your dreams hides the soul of a killer?).

The Last Victim by Karen Robards ( Obsessed with learning what makes human monsters commit terrible crimes).

A Good Marriage by Stephen King (a wife who discovers that her husband is a serial killer). Incidentally, when I took the I Write like Who the result was Stephen King.

The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thomson (a pitch-black glimpse into the mind of the American Serial Killer).

The Lies He Told Me by Sylvie Greyson (a police detective falls in love with his main suspect).

The Fix by Sharon Leder (Living with a Heroin Addicted Parent).

 

Warning Signs is now available in paperback as well as e-book.

Ana Linden: Frames

Ana Linden Frames

 

I’ve always liked Ana Linden’s books. She’s very good at getting inside her characters’ heads.

Frames consists of four short character driven stories. These are not ordinary characters and through their flaws Ana Linden gives us insight into relationships and human nature.

The subjects of her stories range from the damaged educational system, the cruelty of abuse, loneliness, losers and guilt.

Sometimes you just need to feel a bad day for what it is. Unpleasant. Unexplicable. Normal.

In the opening story, Choices, two strangers meet on a plane. One is planning a vacation while the other has been hired to follow her. It is a fresh twist to the “strangers on a train” theme, filled with its high dosage of suspense and an intriguing love story in a noir atmosphere.
The second story, titled Frames, is about two retired teachers, married to each other and disillusioned with the educational system and marriage. As the story progresses each character individually and separately finds meaning in his/her life and a closer connection to each other. It is a story filled with empathy, kindness and hope. Life is not all doom and gloom. There are treasures to be recognized.
Drive, the third story in the collection presents the sad, long term effects of abuse and the power of guilt. In this story, Ana Linden makes us see child abuse from the opposite angle where it is the mother who is the abuser and the father who silently stands by. The secret the son shares with his father is both touching and sad and as the young boy becomes adult we see how his abuse affects his relationships with women until he meets a woman who is worse battered than himself.

Read a sample of Drive here.

The last story Trespasser is also about abuse and once again here we have the woman abusing her boyfriend – both need each other in their twisted ways. Ana Linden presents a very in depth description of both characters and their inner workings, the abuser making the argument why they are not right for each other while the abused seems unable to let go. This is a good story for anyone interested in the dynamics between a dysfunctional couple and why someone stays in an abusive relationship.

Linden’s writing is not ordinary. She is unafraid to show the rawness of human nature in a unique literary voice. She is an artist using words as her medium. It is reflective writing.  The stories in Frames are the kind that you want to savor and allow the beauty of the writing sink in. There is no sermonizing in these stories and we understand what is not being said. This makes for quite satisfying reading.