The Purpose and Practice of Revision

These past few months I have been submerged in revising one of my novels. It has been sluggish, at times arduous and discouraging, taking up a good chunk of my energy, which partly explains why I have been less present on this blog.

I tend to approach revision of my work like a ten year old might approach having to clean her room on a Saturday morning.

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There are so many more interesting things to do, right? After all, the sun is shining and I really should take advantage of one of the few nice days left before winter settles in.

When it comes to editing my work I need all the help I can get not only to get my brain cells functioning out of slumber but also to once again get excited about my work.

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This week, to help boost my enthusiasm over my novel, one of the members of the writing group I belong to forwarded to the gang this article on revising by Jane Smiley. Her essay titled The Purpose and Practice of Revision was published in  Creating Fiction, edited by Julie Checkoway.

 

 

 

So, I was gleefully pleased when I read this passage in Smiley’s essay:

A good revision should involve you more deeply in your work and make you more eager to get at it. As a good reviser, you will gain two boons. First, your work will get better, and so will  be more likely to get published. Second, you will like doing it so much that you will care less and less about whether it ever gets published.

Hmm. Like doing it so much. That sounds like an enticing promise to me. Somewhere between first draft and God only knows how many more drafts I lost interest. What was the point of going on when I already knew the story? Obviously, the point was to keep improving. We’ve all heard some form of this: a real writer writes.

The first idea you need to give up when you begin to revise is that you know what this story is about.

Sue Miller

 

If you’re in revision mode, Jane Smiley’s article is a guiding light to shine on your process. In less than a dozen pages, Smiley has managed to capture the soul of revision, not a small feat when you consider that many books attempt to do so in hundreds of pages.

Her advice is precise, concrete and uplifting.

You can read the entire article here.

 

 

 

 

Again Indie Books

 

 Hi Everyone,

Thanks for being here. I appreciate it. A lot!❤

Here are a couple of my latest e-book reads that you might like.

Unhappy Endings is certainly a fitting title for this collection of three flash fiction stories. The endings are also unexpected. In Sylvia’s World a young woman dreams of escaping from a marriage to a man who has little interest in her life. In the middle story, Cleopatra’s Slippers, the author takes us into curfews and the  thorny moral question of the right to die from a teenage daughter’s viewpoint. The last story, Emmaline, lets us  draw our own conclusion on a sixteen year old girl’s pregnancy.

These days, I’ve been  finding myself pressed for time and so the flash fiction format was perfect. Unhappy Endings provided me with my literary fix and boosted my imagination.

This is not the first time Judy has been on my blog. You can read  more about her on my series  How I Got Published and on her interesting website.

Unhappy Endings will be a free Kindle download from Dec. 1 to Dec. 5. Her collection of short stories, Live Free or Tri, will be free on Kindle at the same time. She’s hoping to get some Amazon and Goodreads reviews!

 

 

I was initially attracted to this debut mystery novel  because of its setting. I have been following Jet Eliot’s Travel and Wildlife Adventures blog for some time now and so I felt that I could count on a vicarious Australian escape. The author’s description of snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef is worthy of any good travel book. Then there’s Jet Eliot’s  grasp on Australian nature, the cacophony of jungle sounds in the rain forest and her casually inserting Aussie words such as the chocolate covered pastry named the Lamington – the same name as her protagonist – Anne Lamington – a perky, middle aged-woman whose curiosity leads her to sleuthing.

Wicked Walkabout is a mystery, much in the style of the classic who-dune-its. Lately, I tend to lose interest very quickly on the many novels I’ve been coming across. Not so with this book. The author did a terrific job of holding my interest. I liked the characters in the book and loved the relationship of the protagonist with her police officer son back in America. I suspect that in her 2nd installment of the Anne Lamington series – The Golden Gate Graveyard – we’ll be hearing more about her son.

You can read more about Jet Eliot here.

More Indie Books I’ve Read

 

Here are two more books by fellow bloggers that you might enjoy reading.

 

Get  your copy of P.S. I Forgive You today!

 

Like all of D.G. Kaye’s books, I was eager to read her latest – a follow up to Conflicted Heart.  P.S. I Forgive You – A Broken Legacy  is Kaye’s most heart wrenching and intense book to date. Not surprising, considering the subject of this memoir.  It is D.G. Kaye’s and her siblings’ attempt of freeing themselves from the clutches of emotional neglect.

P.S. I Forgive You – A Broken Legacy is a testimony to the painful effects of her mother’s gambling addiction on her and her siblings. Anyone who has lived with an addict knows how destructive it can be, how much it creates guilt, resentment and a feeling of low self esteem.

P.S. I Forgive You  is heartbreaking to read but D.G. Kaye’s strength and ability to offer an honest examination of her experience is an inspiration to anyone who has found themselves with the difficult decision of turning away from a toxic relationship. Most importantly, in Kaye’s difficult journey to self love and acceptance she offers hope in her struggle to love a mother who was not able to provide the same for her children.

A tender, well written book.

Visit D.G.Kaye’s blog here: http://dgkayewriter.com/

 

 

Glass Slippers and Stilettos is a collection of ten short stories as seen through the eyes of Linden’s protagonist, Regina. In the story titled Driving Regina, whereby Regina is involved in an accident, Ana Linden writes: Little does he (the driver of the car Regina has run into) know that Regina has such emergencies once a week. This pretty well sums up Regina, along with this other line:  Men lovers are  her recreational drug.

Linden’s characters don’t have names. Instead she refers to them as Boyfriend, Lover, The Assistant, Kid, Mr. Impeccable Pedigree, and Inconsiderate. Using this technique is clever as it allows the reader to identify easily with the characters. Haven’t we all met such people in our own lives?

In some ways, Regina is a contemporary femme fatale (minus the crime) for she possesses traits often found in this archetype of literature: gold digger, selfish, heartless, manipulative, opportunist, sense of entitlement both with her friends, lovers and at work and an accomplished liar.

Although it is difficult to like Regina it is also difficult to put her down.

You can read excerpts from Glass Slippers and Stilettos here.

 

 

 

SOME INDIE BOOKS I READ

One of my goals during my time away from blogging was to catch up on my Kindle’s TBR list. Although I still haven’t gotten through the list here are a few books I did read that I’d like to share with you.

 

Islamic terrorists have managed to shut down an American submarine’s computer system while Kalian Delamagente (a PHd student at Columbia University) and the protagonist of this well researched novel, has invented a robot which is able to detect subs thus leading  multiple attempts by the terrorists to get their hands on Delamagente’s research.

This political thriller plays on both robotics and paleontology – an interesting and unique mixture. Aside from the plot, I was impressed by the number of characters in the novel and how the author was able to characterize all of them. I was also impressed by the descriptions offered in the book: She absorbed the cacophony of African life – the trill of insects, the distant hoots and hollers, and the rustle of wind. It was hard to accept that this overpowering beauty hid such danger.

Although the terrorists’ attempts to steal America’s most potent nuclear weapon is at the heart of this novel there are cultural gems interwoven throughout. For example, through one of the characters,  Laslo Hamar from Iran – we learn about the Islamic toiletry etiquette before prayer.

It has been a long time since I read a novel of such complexity (submarines, computer hacking, kidnapping). Although I did not find it an easy read – perhaps because of the author’s skilled technical knowledge incorporated in the novel – it was a stimulating and informative read.

Follow Jacqui at: https://worddreams.wordpress.com/

 

 

If you’ve ever wondered why relationships are so difficult, Ana Linden’s book Parallel Lives offers ample reasons for this diversity and complexity between a man and a woman.

Amalia, the main character in the book, provides contemplative insights into finding someone she can like, accept and respect for who he is, from the very beginning. The book reads like a psychological treatise on such subjects as cheating, the death of feelings, suffocation familiarity, compromises, high school love, jealousy and intense sensations.

As a character, Amalia is strong and in control of her life.  She has a take me or leave me attitude and offers no apologies for her feelings or lack of them towards the men she becomes involved in, challenging some of them about their own infidelities and double lives – thus the title Parallel Lives.

Every woman who has ever questioned why she doesn’t have any physical desire for a kind man who worships her, will find she is not alone here:  you just can’t fake chemistry.

What I liked and admired the most about Amalia was that she remains true to herself and her value system. In her affair with the married man, Robert, I couldn’t help but think of Fifty Shades of Grey with a feminist twist and without the dominant/submissive contract. Submission is not at all part of Amalia’s make-up. She is much too strong willed and independent. Parallel lives is a refreshing, insightful and encouraging look at what happens when women take charge with confidence of their own desires.

The book also offers some tender and sensual moments and a clear look at how differently men and women view relationships, especially sexual ones.

Follow Ann at: https://analindenblog.wordpress.com/

 

ConneXions: A dating site where lonely women have become prey

Mariano’s novel illustrates that the world of online dating can be a dangerous trap for women seeking sexual excitement and escape from a loveless life. It becomes especially risky when the man they meet is Kyle whose modus operandi consists of smooth talking, seductiveness and a “getting to know” each other attitude.

Mariano keeps up interest by first focusing on Kyle who preys after married women. Interest is later upheld as the author introduces a second serial killer and the reader understand that Kyle is a copy cat killer. My suspense was maintained as I wondered who among the men that these married women were dating could be the original killer.

Although the author places much attention on the copy cat killer, his violent past and his life style, it is her concentration on the victims – along with failed marriages, disappointing careers, lonely lives – that add to the novel. These women could be your next door neighbor or even yourself. They are believable in their pursuit of meaningfulness in their lives and their vulnerability makes them easy prey for a charming, handsome man like Kyle.

As a sub-plot, Dana, a PH student in Psychology, is doing her thesis on the relationship between low self-esteem and married women’s affairs. She goes online in search of married women seeking intimate relationships. When Elaine, one of the women in her study is found strangled and another has disappeared she decides to take matters in her hands. The suspense is then upped as Dana goes online in search of the serial killer.

The characters in this novel were well developed and the story line flowed smoothly. Mariano is best known as a romance writer and her skills in this genre are reflected in this easy to read novel.

Follow Thelma at : http://www.thelmamariano.com/books/

 

 A series of misunderstandings is at the heart of this romantic suspense novel.  What is interesting in this novel is not so much finding out whodunit but rather how the protagonist will get out of the mess she finds herself in.

Sandra Eastman has finally got her life on track after the tragic deaths of bother parents. But then she finds herself being accused of planting a bomb in her boss’s office. Motivation for her doing so is not lacking and to add to the intrigue Lieutenant Harris is on the case – the same officer who remembers her as a teenager when he was the duty officer assigned to tell her that her father had died. There are many twists and turns to the plot, some having to do directly with Sandra and others like murder and fraud add parallel suspense and interest to the story.

And then there’s the romance. The ending is so very romantic.

The novel is written by two authors and I would be very curious to know how they worked together to create such a seamless novel in terms of characterization, tone, voice and style. As a bonus the novel is set in San Francisco.

Follow Pamela at: https://roughwighting.net/

 

If you’re looking for a good whodunit book consider reading Margot Kinberg’s B-Very Flat. The setting takes place on a university campus where Serena Brinkman, an up-and- coming violinist is found dead. The motives for her murder are many: money, career advancement, obsession, jealousy and Kinberg makes sure through her swift pacing to keep us on our toes.

The characters are well-drawn and the dialogue moves the plot forward. Although the novel is light and entertaining it does not lack in describing the foibles of human nature and the lengths people will go to maintain their status quo. As a sub-plot is a beautiful love relationship between Serena and her partner. If you like mystery puzzles you’ll love this book.

Follow Margot at: https://margotkinberg.wordpress.com/

The Golden Age of Charli

Charli and her husband Stewart (Pud) are on a mission to get healthy again and bring zest back into their 30 year marriage by bonding with their younger relatives and growing more mindful about their food uptake in spite of their love of wine and gourmet food.

This is an entertaining novel about retirement, being a golf widower and trying to shed the pounds. It is also a warming novel about a close knit family going through the transitional stage that comes with retirement.

What I most enjoyed about the book was Charli’s optimistic outlook on life. Although much of the book is about the health issues associated with being overweight, the author shows us, through Charli, that being healthy also consists of having a right attitude.

Follow Jena at: http://www.jenabooks.com/

The two  short crime stories in this book read like hard boiled fiction. Like any good short story both stories in Murder with a Twist are tightly written and we jump into the action right away.

Both stories were written from a woman’s point of view and whether in the first person view point (Salt Free) or the third person point of view (The Green Light) John Greco accurately portrayed the mindset of, in one case, a woman cheated by her husband and in the other a women using sex to get what she wants. I found the twists at the end of both stories to be surprising and satisfying. I’m hoping that these two stories are the beginning of a larger collection of stories by this author.

Follow John at: https://twentyfourframes.wordpress.com/

Product Details

This story took me down memory lane to my own childhood filled with penny candy, candied apples, two cent empty Orange Crush bottles. Will (5) and Shawn (9) are brothers out to enjoy a great day together.

The author gives us a play by play of this day along with background on the young boys’ home situation of a dad’s drinking and parents fighting over money. It is a sweet story that made me feel good inside.

Follow Bette at: https://4writersandreaders.com/tag/wordpress/

 Versions of the SelfChristy Birmingham’s latest collection of poems takes off where her book Pathways to Illumination left off. In Versions of Self Christy Birmingham offers hope, inspiration and celebrates the strength of healing.In her own words her objective in writing this collection is “…(to) long for words I can to heal someone else.” This is what good poetry does and Birmingham succeeds on many levels.

I have always found reading poetry a catalyst for my own writing, particularly in its ability to fill my mind with inimitable images. Here’s an example:

Take off the uniform that smothers

Your hopes for a stable embrace, and

Listen for the words you are sure to hear,

When you dance one day, when

You tilt your lips into a smile.If you’ve followed Christy Birmingham’s blog, you know that she is a feminist and her poem Equality and Vision is a tribute to Women’s Equality Day, August 26.

Honor and represent the women who

Have brought us to the path we travel today.

Like a good wine, this collection is to be savored; unlike a good wine, her metaphorical bottle is always full ready for you to return to, each time enlightening you in a different way.

Do not add despair to your breath today sums up the optimism in this collection.

Follow Christy at: https://poeticparfait.com/ and https://whenwomeninspire.com/

 

 

Book Review – Not by Design

Even though I am on a blogging sabbatical, every now and then I check into my WordPress account and today I got this unsuspected surprise. Thank you so much Ann Fields for your very kind and generous review of my book.
If you are not familiar with Ann’s blog and her writing this is a good time to visit her at https://annfields.com/. Not only is Ann a talented writer but she is also an advocate for peace and harmony. Ann, I am grateful and honored to be on your blog and part of your community!

Ann Fields

Not by Design “Not by Design” is the latest offering from multi-published women’s fiction author Carol Balawyder. It is a sequel to “Getting to Mr. Right,” which you should read if you haven’t. “Getting to Mr. Right” is the story of four women who meet at a support group (the focus of which is women who have men/father issues) and form lasting, sincere friendships.

“Not by Design” is Felicity Starr’s story. She is one of the women in the support group, and she has it all—looks, youth, a rich father, talent, true-heart friends and the love of a handsome, successful man. She is living a fairy tale life in France, studying art and pursuing a career in art, while enjoying an active social/love life. But even fairy tales are wrought with obstacles and that’s exactly what our heroine encounters—one setback after another. There’s the death of her father, a dwindling bank account which…

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Mourning Has Broken: A Book Review

Just at the beginning of my blogging break this post appeared on Annika Perry’s Writing Blog. How could I not reblog!:)
To learn more about Anna visit her home page and her many posts.  

Annika Perry's Writing Blog

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I read this book during a time of loss and sadness. When my spirits were so low neither music nor books could enter my heart. Numerous books remained unread, the words and stories therein unable to penetrate the wall. 

Then I recalled reading about Carol Balawyder and ‘Mourning Has Broken’; her book on loss and grief. On a whim I bought it.

My attention was seized from the very first few sentences and as I devoured it within two days ‘Mourning Has Broken’ left a deep and profound impact on me.

The writing is exceptional and beautiful. Poetic in places, full of wisdom. Her words spoke directly to me, then at times mirrored my experiences of loss exactly. I have never highlighted so much in a book since my student days. Nor have I I talked so much about a book – I am sure my family by now feel…

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