Bau: It’s here!

It’s finally on sale – a book which I have been working on for years.

Throughout these years the book’s title has changed. It first was Only the Lonely, inspired by Roy Orbison’s iconic song Only the Lonely and which I also included as a quote in the beginning of the novel.

Then the title became The Boy Next Door but I found it told only part of the story. The Set Up was the third title but after a bit of research I found that there were too many books with that title.

Finally, I settled with Just Before Sunrise because it evokes the question: What happened just before sunrise? Which is the whole point of the story.

Right now, Bau, who has been so tolerant throughout this process is still manifesting his patience and control. He is just eagerly waiting for me to finish this post and press publish so that he can go for his well earned walk.

I am very proud to present my dog Mom’s latest novel Just Before Sunrise. It is available in both e-book and paperback.

I hope that those of you who will read it will enjoy it.  

Description on AMAZON

How I Got Published: Wendy James

wendy-james

Wendy James is the author of six books, including The Mistake (2012) and Out of the Silence, which won the 2006 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Crime fiction and was shortlisted for the Nita May Dobbie Award for women’s writing.  James writes about women’s lives: their domestic and interior lives as well as the bigger picture – the intersection of the political and the personal. She currently lives in Newcastle, New South Wales, with her husband and two of their four children.

HOW I GOT PUBLISHED

I actually started out writing short stories, so my first published work was a story that was published in the lovely literary journal, Voices, which was put out by the National Library of Australia, back in the mid nineties. A few months before the story was accepted I’d won a university short fiction competition, quite unexpectedly, and that gave me the confidence to reach for the stars — publication.  I was young and naive, and had no idea about the realities (and hard work!) of writing and publishing, and somehow imagined that everyone would be just as thrilled as I was  …  I remember feeling really silly when I asked the publisher’s assistant whether she’d enjoyed the story (who asks this?) and she replied rather tersely that she didn’t really know, as she was too busy typing up the damn manuscript to read it. This was back in the early-ish days of home computers, and my already outdated Mac didn’t have a word-processing doc that was compatible with the publisher’s computer. I’d written the story as a bit of an experiment – there’s a bit of playing around with language and technique – and to be honest, these days I find this story a little painful…

 There’s not quite any feeling to match the exhilaration of that first publication, but even now, almost twenty years later, and with a quite a few stories and articles and novels out there, I  still find it incredibly exciting to see my words in print, available for all the world to read. These days I do manage to resist the temptation to ask readers whether they enjoyed it …

HER LATEST BOOK 

 From the bestselling author of The Mistake comes a hauntingly powerful story about families and secrets and the dark shadows cast by the past.

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Why I Like Suspense Novels

I recently read Joan Hall Hovey’s novel Chill Waters and it made me think of what it is about suspense novels that I like.

Why do I enjoy this stressful, sitting on the edge of my seat, my heart pumping with fear activity?  

Ok. Chill Waters, to be fair, is not all suspense. There’s the intriguing plot, and interesting smart female protagonist. There’s romance as well. But there’s a murderer to discover which I find stimulating – like intellectual exercise for my brain. I want to figure out the ending of the novel before I read it. There’s a great satisfaction when that happens.

Also, suspense novels, in particular, deal with a sense of justice. Rationally, I know that good will prevail. That’s the way these novels work. Yet, on a visceral level the concern is not so much that good will prevail but how. And, it is in Chill Waters protagonist’s chilling situation that the thrill took over and I found my heart rate rising casting rationality aside. Joan Hall Hovey has the skill to play on the readers’ emotions with her Hitchcockian imagination.

I have to admit that I had not figured out the true identity of the murderer but that no longer mattered as I’d already taken the thrilling, satisfying ride.

Bau: Back to Work

Things are starting to move again and so last Saturday I had another volunteer gig. It took place at the McConnell Student Residence at McGill.

Lots of students took time off their studies to come and see me.

It was a lot of fun being petted by so many different hands.

Some even took out their phones and showed pictures of their dogs in different parts of the world. They all missed their dogs whether they came from Iran, Boston, Dubai, Libya, Germany or anywhere else.

Goes to show how popular dogs are!

Having so much fun!
Ah, this feels sooo good!
 
Here I am showing off one of my tricks!
So many people to visit. I’s all overwhelming!
Volunteering is exhausting!

Sara Nisha Adams: The Reading List

Reading this stunning debut novel made me think of friends in my past whom I hadn’t thought of in years. It made me think of places I had visited; trips I had taken and experiences I’d had that I’d forgotten about. The novel brought me back to many of the books on the list that I had read giving me a glimpse into my past and a dream of my future.

A mysterious person has left Just in case you need it a list of eight books to read in: library books, at the bus stop, at the yoga studio, in the supermarket, the community garden and other places. The novel centers around two main characters. Seventeen-year-old, Aleisha who has a summer job working in a library and who lives with her older brother and her mother who suffers from severe depression. The other main character is Mukesh, a man in his seventies who is grieving the death of his loving wife and trying to cope with his loss. A friendship evolves between these two characters as Aleisha recommends books (from a list left in a novel) to Mukesh. As they discuss these novels their reflections comfort them on their grief.  

This is a novel about how books have the power to heal. It is a novel about the injustices in the world, about terror, guilt and regret. It is about the magic of books to enhance lives and bring a community together.

The Reading List is a vivid and beautifully written story with unforgettable characters that will crush your heart.

 As an added bonus to this book, I would recommend it to anyone who must write a synopsis of their own novel for it succinctly illustrates how the author captures the essence of each of the novels on the list.    

Ellie Marrandette: A Place to Belong

Most of us at one point in our lives struggle to find our purpose in life. A Place to Belong is Katerine LeVay Cunningham’s (Kate) personal battle in search for her purpose in her life.

It is not enough that she is married to a wealthy movie producer who adores her and that her marriage is one full of romance and tenderness. Following her husband on his movie shoots does not satisfy her personal needs for fulfillment.  

A Place to Belong is the third of a trilogy (although it can also standalone) and when we meet Kate she is in NYC with her loving British husband, Robert, who is directing a movie on the American Revolution. Throughout the novel the relationship between Kate and Robert is a romantic, tender one.

However, Kate is haunted by her past and until she puts to rest the secret, perfect crime which she has committed there will be no peace for Kate.

But before Kate gets to this peaceful place the novel veers towards her newly found relationship with Casey, her daughter, a pro golfer champion who was abducted when she was five. There is also the discovery of a brother Kate did not know she had.

The novel has revenge, success, Christian values, a wedding in a hospital, close friendships, adultery, courage, an entertaining wake and a surprising explanation for her deceitful and womanizing first husband’s death.  

There are several settings which the author does an excellent job taking us through such interesting places as: Boston, NYC, Charleston, Sorrento, Italy and Ayrshire, Scotland.

The prose is smooth and the dialogue is authentic while the entire novel flows at a fast pace.

I was a Beta reader for this novel and when I read it again in its final version, I was even more captivated by the story and marveled at Ellie’s strong story telling talent.

There are several memorable characters in the novel. It is refreshing to read a novel filled with good people with strong family values.

Carrie Rubin: The Bone Elixir

Are you looking to get in the mood for a really scary, macabre novel to read this Halloween season? A novel that, although it will frighten you, you won’t be able to stop reading it.

Carrie Rubin’s rational minded orthopedic surgery resident Benjamin Oris (and the protagonist of her last two novels) has just inherited an inn in Massachusetts. Trouble is that the inn is haunted and Benjamin doesn’t believe all that hocus-pocus stuff. Until he visits the inn and stays in it alone for a week as he waits for his girlfriend Laurette along with her sixth sense to join him.

In the meantime, Ben is confronted with secret passages, doors that creek open in the middle of the night, lights that turn on and off and a basement pit that raises the hair on his neck.

Benjamin is designated to become the heir of the inn by taking part in one of the spookiest ceremonies I’ve ever read. He must drive away the evil spirits inhabiting the house along with its promise of immortality and eternally free from sickness – which, by the way, is pretty enticing for a medical doctor.

Once Laurette arrives, there are Ouija boards, crystals, levitations, a manuscript describing people disappearing after visiting the inn, remnants of an insane asylum, people murdered, ghosts and lingering spirits.

This is not the genre of book that I usually read but Carrie’s usage of suspense kept me turning the pages wanting to know the next thing that Ben would be confronted with and how he would handle it.

Besides the spooky part of the novel there is lots of very interesting writing. For example. “Come morning, he (Benjamin) felt about as rested as a squirrel on crack.”

If you’re thinking of getting into the Halloween mood of haunted houses, gravestones and divinations this is certainly the book for you.

Well done, Carrie!  

Bau: The Magic of Play

It has been a while since I had children reading to me because of Covid but recently 
I had the opportunity to work with Daniel, a young boy who happens to live in
the same apartment building as I do.

Although I liked all the children that read to me either at the library on
the island here or at the library in Verdun, Daniel is my favorite. Daniel has
a lot of ENTHUSIASM and an hilarious IMAGINATION but what I like the most about
him is that he never forgets to PLAY.

I have noticed that adults, in particular, seem to have lost their ability
to play and that makes a dog like me, who loves to play, want to go to sleep. There’s
more to life than being serious all the time!

Another thing I really like about Daniel is his SUPER POWER to read my mind.
He knows just when I need a break and will tell my dog mom:

I think Bau needs
to run.

So, Daniel and I play a game of tag. But he is always way too fast for me.

Another neat thing about Daniel is that he uses his SUPER MIND READING POWER
to say:

Bau is tired of running

And then he gives me a little pat on my head. Which I love!

We then return to our desk and I continue to listen to him read his stories.
Playing for just a short time allows us to concentrate once more. I guess
that’s the MAGIC OF PLAY.

Sometimes, I see Daniel in the elevator and I can’t help myself. I get so excited and want to jump on him
because I’m so happy to see him even though in my dog therapy training I was told not to jump on people.

It’s really difficult for me not to express all the joy in my little heart when I see him.

Soon Daniel will be moving away and that makes me sad. Already I miss him.

Robyn Harding: The Arrangement

It was a pleasure to read Robyn Harding’s the Arrangement. I was immediately hooked into this novel.

The first half of the novel reads like a romantic novel where poor girl finds her prince charming (put aside the sugar daddy and sugar baby dynamics). What woman wouldn’t want the kind of attention and love which Gabe showered so generously on Nat? Think Pretty Woman.

Through Robyn Harding’s intensive research on sugar babies, (which she describes in her Acknowledgements), we get a good glance into this dark and tightly controlled world.

Natalie, a young art student in New York City, is struggling to pay her bills when a friend makes a suggestion: Why not go online and find a sugar daddy—a wealthy, older man who will pay her for dates and even give her a monthly allowance? Lots of girls do it, Nat learns. All that’s required is to look pretty and hang on his every word. Sexual favors are optional.

Though more than thirty years her senior, Gabe, a handsome corporate finance attorney, seems like the perfect candidate, and within a month, they are madly in love. At least, Nat is…Gabe already has a family, whom he has no intention of leaving. *

The second half of the novel is a mystery/court case/crime novel.

So when he abruptly ends things, Nat can’t let go. But Gabe’s not about to let his sugar baby destroy his perfect life. What was supposed to be a mutually beneficial arrangement devolves into a nightmare of deception, obsession, and, when a body is found near Gabe’s posh Upper East Side apartment, murder. *

I was surprised that one of the categories in the product description was kidnapping thriller, which I did not find pertinent to this novel. Unless I’m missing something.

The ending was satisfactory and somewhat unexpected; it had a comfortable feel to it and the novel moved at a relatively fast pace. It was a rather long book but well worth my time.

* Italic text is from the book description on Amazon.

Ten Tips On Writing Mysteries

First off, these writing tips are not just for mystery writers. Gail Bowen is the author of the Joanne Kilbourn mysteries. She’s written 16 of them so far and if you’re a fan of Joanne Kilbourne you’ll learn a lot about her in this book. Secondly, the tips aren’t just for writers of series although quite a long section in a chapter titled Creating a Robust Series is devoted to that.

  1. When writing take breaks. Well, this is hardly new advice but the author suggests writing for twenty-five minutes and then take five-minute breaks. I’ve tried it and set my timer for twenty-five minutes which works marvelously well and am always surprised at how quickly the time goes by and how I get into my writing although my five-minute breaks tend to be much longer.
  2. Write early in the morning. She gets up at five am to write claiming that two hours of writing in the mourning is worth four hours of writing later in the day. I’m with her on that although not that early!  
  3. Select brief but telling details about weather and its effect on character in order to create a mood to draw the reader into the story.
  4. Make your characters deeply flawed so that your reader will be able to identify and connect with them.
  5. Use minor characters to lighten the mood while still keeping the plot moving.
  6. Give your first draft a rigorous edit before sending it off. Rigorous being the operative word.
  7. Try to give your book a title as early in the process as possible. This will guide you in keeping to the theme of your novel.  
  8. Almost every piece of writing can be improved if you cut it by a third (ouch!)
  9. Your first obligation as a writer is to offer a powerful human story.
  10. If you can’t imagine your life without writing, then you’re a real writer. Stay the course.