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/

 

 

Your Responses To How Much Is Your Writing Worth

would you still write-

 

A few weeks ago in response to a post on my blog many of you commented on whether you would still write even if you won the lottery. The overwhelming response was

YES! YES! YES!

If you’re like me (and I’m guessing you are…most of the time) you rarely go back to read posts from fellow bloggers and if you’re one of the first readers of the post you’ve missed a lot of the comments posted there.

Here’s a summary of your comments left on the post How Much Is Your Writing Worth, not only as my way of responding to you but also because your comments illustrate how we all are in the same boat and share the same aspirations about our writing. Although our writing may be different in genre, style and voice we all seem to have this passion for writing.

We write to move others a bit. To connect with like souls. To give to our collectivity

Wild horses couldn’t stop us from writing.

Writing is a need within to satisfy ourselves.

It feels like something’s missing if we’re not writing.

Our lives would be empty without our writing

Money has nothing to do with the desire, the passion to write, the soul satisfying way of life. We write to express our voices and tell of our truths.

Writers write to be whole…to be sane…to connect to their heart and soul

Winning the lottery might pay for new desks, a better writing machine or even allow us to write in Paris or the Swiss Alps and pay someone to do the marketing for our books but

We write because it’s fun, we learn the value of doing things in life that we love because we can’t stop doing it

Writing stimulates our minds and imagination; provides us with the satisfaction of reading a good review of our work.

It’s a way of life. It’s a passion and a hunger.

Thank you all for your comments. As always, I am grateful for your presence on my blog but also for your own blogs and being part of your writing world!

Helping Author’s Gain Exposure

Today I’m at Don Massenzio’s blog. Don is not only one of the most prolific bloggers I know but he posts about a variety of interesting subjects. One of his series is helping authors gain exposure and strengthen the blogging community. Don is always looking for authors to feature on his blog so if you’re interested just click here.

Don Massenzio author photo

In the meantime, here’s my interview with Don. 

THANKS, DON! 

Comments are closed here but open on Don’s blog.

What Is Your Writing Worth?

Let’s say you won the lottery

would you still write-

Putting the idea of the lottery aside, let’s say you don’t need to write for food and rent. Somehow that’s taken care of. Inheritance. Another job. A spouse that brings in enough. So the question becomes, if there wasn’t money (or at least its possibility) at the end of the stick 

Would you still write (3)

What if your writing never gave you any financial gains. Didn’t allow you to quit your day (or night) job, travel, buy that cottage by the sea, and attend all the writing conferences you wanted to.

SODA (2)

What is your writing worth? Do you measure it by the hours spent in front of your computer?

Do you include the research? The café lattes? The bottles of wine that you emptied in the name of inspiration?

Is the success of your writing tangled up with how much of your writing you sell?

What about those hidden costs? The time not spent with friends or family? The hours struggling over a paragraph when you could be peacefully hiking in the woods or finally going to that film festival you’ve been promising yourself to attend ?

What does writing mean to you? What would make you stop writing? 

 

Mystery Mondays: Carol Balawyder on Subplots

Today I am fortunate to be featured on Kristina Stanley’s blog as part of her Mystery Mondays series. Make sure you check out the other writers who’ve been guest in this series and also to browse through Kristina’s blog where you can pick up some valuable tips from her Write Better Fiction series.
http://kristinastanley.com/?s=write+better+fiction

KRISTINA STANLEY

Welcome once again to Mystery Mondays.

I first connected with Carol Balawyder when she graciously agreed to have me guest blog on her seriesHOW I GOT PUBLISHED.  DESCENT had been published less than a month previously, and I was nervous about guest blogging. Carol’s generous nature made it easy for me, and now I feel very lucky to have her guest blogging on my series.

Carol writes the The Getting To Mr. Right series.

Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 8.14.27 AMTHE PURPOSE OF SUBPLOTS by Carol Balawyder

Thank you so much Kristina for inviting me as a guest on your Mystery Monday series. It’s a true honor for me to be in the midst of so many flourishing writers.

In my writing, whether it is women’s contemporary fiction or crime genre they both have in common a subplot which deals with the complexity of domestic relationships – specifically, relationships between an adult and…

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Investigating Agatha Christie

 

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About a month ago I went to Investigating Agatha Christie an exhibition on the life and work of one of the greatest 20th-century novelists. If that was not enough to get me to Old Montreal – a charming area of the city with its European flavour – the fact that it was being held at The Montreal Archaeology and History Museum got my curiosity along with my feet walking the cobble stoned street of the Old Port.  Here’s what I discovered:

I. With her husband, Max Mallowan, a prominent archaeologist, Christie spent plenty of time travelling with him and his team actively taking part on excavation sites in Syria, Iran and Egypt. Her day job was to photograph and film the artifacts that were being dug up. In the evenings she wrote and drew on her experiences in the Middle East for novels such as Murder in Mesopotamia and They Came to Baghdad.

II. Agatha Christie learned about poisons by being an assistant apothecary. Some 30 of the victims in her books died of poisoning.

Give me a decent bottle of poison,” she is supposed to have said, “and I’ll construct the perfect crime.”

Click here for more on how Christie’s fictions are profoundly shaped by the poisons that their characters skillfully employ

III. In Death Comes as an End Christie invents the historical whodunit.

IV. As a child Agatha was considered the slow one in the family.

V.  66 detective novels

6 novels

150 short stories

10 plays

and 2 memoirs.

Akhnaton

 

VI. Ariadne Oliver, the fictional character in several Agatha Christie novels is a mystery novelist and a friend of Hercule Poirot. She was patterned after Christie herself.

“People say things to me — you know — how much they like my books, and how they’ve been longing to meet me — and it all makes me feel hot and bothered and rather silly. But I manage to cope more or less. And they say how much they love my awful detective Sven Hjerson. If they knew how I hated him! But my publisher always says I’m not to say so.”

For more on Ariadne Oliver’s writing advice click here.

VII. Her most famous play The Mousetrap opened in the West End of London in 1952, and has been running continuously since then.

VIII. A rose is named after her.

Image result for The Agatha Christie rose

 

IX. She dedicated her novel Dumb Witness to her wire-haired terrier Peter.  In the novel, the dog Bob is directly inspired by her own pet.

Agatha Christie pictured in the 1920s

 

X. Total sales of her books are estimated at 2 billion exceeded only by The Bible.

Do you have a favorite Agatha Christie book? 

 

 

Marketing: Book Blurbs

Reading Debby’s post on book blurbing as well as Jack Eason’s post on the same subject I got to thinking about the blurb I’m currently writing for my novella, Not By Design and that got me searching the internet.

Here’s what I found

  • Finally, consider why your book is different from the others – what is unique about your book and make sure to include it.

(Silverwood. How To Write an Inviting Cover Blurb For Your Book)

  • When writing a novel, there are few selling tools as important as writing a solidly written blurb. Sure, the cover design creates intrigue, but, if you have caught a potential reader’s attention, the blurb is what will sell your book—and convert readers. 

(Milena Canizares: writing-blurbs-for-novels.)

  • “… when writing a summary, make it snappy. Less is more. Don’t tell them everything, just the dramatic core of the story.

(Beth Bacon: 4 Easy Steps To An Irresistible Book Blurb)

  •  try to encapsulate the tone of your book in your blurb so that a reader can instantly tell what genre your book is.

(Silverwood books: How to write an inviting cover blurb for your book)

Joanna Penn offers a superb video on book blurbs.

 

Of course, I’m not going to pass up this opportunity for a pre-publishing sales pitch. 🙂

Not By Design: A Feel Good Novella

In a life turned upside down, Felicity finds joy is sometimes just around the corner.

Ever since she first appeared in Getting To Mr. Right, Felicity Starr has been struggling to find her own kind of contentment. Now, at thirty-five and living in Rome, Felicity is about to break into the world of fashion design, and caught in a flurry of plans for her wedding when calamity strikes.

Her father’s sudden death brings into question the whole meaning of success. Then Marco, the man she’s about to marry, leaves her when he learns of her Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis.

Forced to return to Montreal, Felicity finds her life thrust into unexpected turns. As she confronts the on-going challenges presented by her disease, she gains the strength to let go of old beliefs and face her inner truths.

Love, friendship and rewarding work come in different forms and Felicity finds it all in ways she never imagined – in a life that’s not by design.

 

 Are you in the process of writing a book blurb for your book?  

 

#CHAMPIONSAWARDS

champions-awards

 

The “Champions Award’ was awarded to me by Debby at dgkayewriter.com. Although I tend to be award free I simply could not ignore Debby’s request, especially since the Champions Award is a way of saying thank you to those readers and writers who go the extra mile in support of others. Debby has done so much for me and this is my small way of saying THANK YOU. Debby, I am both touched and grateful for your friendship and support.

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Seeking Purpose

croppedjoanne

I’m pleased and honored to be featured on Joanne’s blog. A member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes paranormal romance, cozy mysteries, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.
If you haven’t yet been on Joanne’s blog I encourage you to browse through it. You’re sure to be inspired.

http://joanneguidoccio.com/

 

Joanne Guidoccio

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Canadian author Carol Balawyder musing about the two acts of her writing journey.

Here’s Carol!

carolbalawyderI am so grateful to be featured among so many (over 90!) wonderful writers in Joanne Guidoccio’s Second Acts series.

In life one has many second acts but the one which I wish to focus on here is my writing journey.

ACT ONE

Five years ago I retired from a successful teaching career with the luck of a pension that allowed me the freedom to write without the financial burden of having a day job. My initial intention was to put my heart and soul into writing crime novels. After all, wasn’t that the purpose for my going back to school to study criminology and later teach Police Tech and Corrections so that I would have credibility as a crime writer?

mourninghasbrokenBut then people around me…

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