college

Book Review: Kalorama Road by E. Denise Billups

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After reading a few articles written by E. Denise Billups in Conscious Talk Magazine, I found myself intrigued with her writing style and voice. After some research, I noticed she’d written a few books, so I selected the one that appealed to me the most, Kalorama Road. If you’re a fan of mysterious character connections, someone with memory loss trying to unearth what happened during a missing 24-hour period, or a subtle tense feeling of “uh oh” while reading, you will definitely enjoy this one!

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The story takes place in modern day NYC (blocks from where I live) and the Washington DC / Virginia area. Allie, an editor at a big publishing company, can’t remember what happened one night at a party during her college years. She remembers being invited by a strange girl, showing up and seeing some peculiar behavior, but then all she knows is that her roommate saw a handsome guy drop her off the next morning. What happened overnight? Well… Allie’s been getting monthly text messages and emails asking her what happened at Kalorama Road that night. They scare her but also intrigue her. Is it someone else who doesn’t recall? Is it someone who wants her to remember? Is it the person who took her there who has since disappeared? It all begins coming back together when she’s let go from her publishing job and begins writing a blog. Someone submits a book for her review but it seems like a real life mystery, then it begins to resemble her own experience at Emsworth University. Allie never told anyone but she’s compelled to reveal all the details to her former colleague and the former roommate. At the same time, Allie’s sister has a secret she wants to keep hidden and a new man enters Allie’s life that seems very familiar. How does everything come together?

The book jumps back and forth between a few main characters, sharing their stories and actions over the course of a few weeks. We see a few memories from the past and learn who is really connected to who. As each chapter unfolds, a piece of the puzzle gets more clear but also opens up more confusion to leaf through. Throw in a powerful senator and his family, a suicide, a newspaper reporter trying to find out what happened in the past, a murder, and a family with a large endowment given to the university yet some secrets worth protecting, there’s bound to be a few explosive moments. What a wild ride, both in terms of how all the connections are revealed and in the build-up of tension between all the new people suddenly just appearing in Allie’s life as she’s trying to solve the puzzle of her missing memories.

Billups drew me in from the first few chapters. I’m a sucker for a lost memory story, but when it straddles that line of “oh, this seems obvious” but then throws you a curve where you’re like “wait, WHAT?” it’s even more appealing. It takes a lot to plan a story where you reveal things bit by bit. It’s also difficult to cover a story from multiple points of view without confusing readers. Billups handles both with great aplomb and talent, as it came together solidly without any concern.

Her character sketches of different women and men in their 20s, living in NY, were on point and realistic — there were moments were they annoyed me because of typical behavior, but that’s a good thing as it means Billups has evoked intense emotion and a strong connection to the story. I enjoyed the slow-build romance and potential eerie connections with her new friends, but I also could tell she had some blinders on when it came to all the ‘coincidences’ going on in her life. And there’s an explanation for it… as the tidbits of history we learn about Allie and her sister’s lives growing up clearly show why they act the way they do now. A great way to make things seem quite reasonable in a story that has you guessing who to trust.

I’m quite intrigued by what else might come from the author’s clever mind. I’ll be taking another look at her previous books and seeing if I can find out what’s coming up next… as I’ll definitely be reading another one this year. And I don’t want to wait a year for another book! 🙂

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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Father Figure: My Novel is a FREE Download 5/6 thru 5/10

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You’ve seen the Father Figure Book Blitz all week long… now you can Download it for FREE via Amazon as a Kindle e-read from Sunday May 6th through Thursday May 10th.

FREE DOWNLOAD-FATHER FIGURE

Key Facts

  • Published on April 2nd, 2018
  • Genres: Contemporary Fiction / Family Drama / Mystery
    • ‘New Adult’ with focus on two 18-year-old women in college
    • Suspenseful cliffhangers in each chapter
    • Two timelines / story lines
    • Some romance elements in both story lines
  • It’s my 2nd novel

Description

Between the fast-paced New York City, a rural Mississippi town and a charming Pennsylvania college campus filled with secrets, two young girls learn the consequences of growing up too quickly.

Amalia Graeme, abused by her mother for most of her life, longs to escape her desolate hometown and fall in love. Contemplating her loss of innocence and conflicting feelings between her boyfriend and the dangerous attraction she’s developed for an older man, Amalia faces life-altering tragedies.

Brianna Porter, a sassy, angst-ridden teenager raised in New York City, yearns to find her life’s true purpose, conquer her fear of abandonment, and interpret an intimidating desire for her best friend, Shanelle. Desperate to find the father whom her mother refuses to reveal, Brianna accidentally finds out a shocking truth about her missing parent.

Set in alternating chapters two decades apart, the parallels between their lives and the subsequent collision that is bound to happen is revealed. FATHER FIGURE is an emotional story filled with mystery, romance, and suspense.

Recent Review Highlights

  • “A book I stayed up all night to finish. Practical as I am, I’ve never done that before. This is Cudney’s second book and I have read both. He has the ability to create human emotion as specifically required by the characters he creates. He tells this story from the point of view of the two female characters. Surely, he has a deep understanding of and human nature… All the character threads are intrinsically entwined, the twists and turns unexpected. It makes me wonder how this young author understands so much that he is able to turn his knowledge of life into a story such as this. Surely, he has a phenomenal imagination.”
  • “Secrets are unearthed, revelations come to light and you realize that Cudney truly IS a mastermind. A genius scheming writer. He places seemingly innocent facts here and there, fortuitous encounters, little crumbs and we don’t realize all the intricate connections between these threads before a big reveal!”
  • “Father Figure took me down a new emotional highway revisiting places I’d been before and felt uncomfortable visiting again but knew I needed to see to understand these characters, along with some new places that made me feel bonded to these characters in an unusually intimate way. This is a cracking novel that you don’t want to miss.”
  • “The angst I had reading this book, stays with me long after. My heart aches for the characters, yet I see a story that was beautifully written. I never got lost in the course of this book, and in the end I was blown away! Seriously folks, I am letting the emotions I am free falling from write this review.”
  • “Father Figure is powerful, emotional, and breath taking! With a hard-hitting story line, and amazingly dynamic characters, this one is sure to impress! For those who love stories of struggle, heartache, and overcoming obstacles, you need to pick this one up!”

Key Book Marketing Links

 

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Book Review: Apple Turnover Murder by Joanne Fluke

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I’m a committed Joanne Fluke & Hannah Swensen fan. I love the cozy mystery and these novels just have such a calming and positive effect on me. I’m giving 3.5 stars to Apple Turnover Murder, the 13th in this series. It was good and hit all the right spots, but left room for growth and more complexity. With 20+ books in the series, I can’t give them all a 5, and even a 4 is sometimes too high. It doesn’t mean I don’t adore them. I just think it wasn’t one of the top ones in the series. I like re-visiting all the characters and seeing the wonderful relationships between Hannah, her sisters, and her mothers. And I was even excited that there’s quite an interesting turn-of-events in Hannah’s relationships with her two suitors, Mike and Norman. Perhaps it’s finally moving in the right direction. That said… not enough time was spent exploring the possible culprits or the depth of the victim who was murdered. I think there was more history to be told… I’ve already got books 14 and 15 from the series in my queue, and I was awarded the most current (22?) on NetGalley, so I have to catch up soon!

apple turnover

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

365 Challenge: Day 192 – Elements

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Elements: experiencing all four of them on the trip today: earth, air, water, and fire

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Today’s 365 Daily Challenge word is ‘elements’ because on this third day of the vacation, I see all four of them: (1) earth in the tree and greenery, (2) air in the wind blowing the Spanish moss, (3) water in the lake in the background and (4) fire in the hickory smell in the air all around. And I was also completely in my element in this beautiful arboretum at Airlie Gardens in Wilmington, North Carolina. We spent a few hours this morning at this lovely place, where you can see tons of pictures below, or also on my Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts. Afterwards, we drove to Wrightsville Beach, which was exactly like the seaside town I wanted to visit. Lunch at the Oceanic right on the beach while we watched surfers crash, bathers play on the sand and people mulling about the small island space.

We drove three hours this afternoon to Chapel Hill and checked in at the Siena Hotel, which is gorgeous. More on that in tomorrow’s post. We toured UNC Chapel Hill and are now back at the hotel for a short break before going out to dinner and a few bars this evening. Or maybe I’ll enroll in a Master’s program and start auditing classes. Or possibly find a party at one of the fraternities or sororities, as we saw at least ten houses the size of mansions…. makes me miss my college years and my fraternity days when I was our president. Oh well, feels like a different life… but it’s also given me two fantastic book ideas. One is called ‘Alternate Lives,’ which I’ll explain in a post once I get back home. Another is called the ‘Elements of Living,’ a book about how to experience all the things in life you should embrace regardless of who you are. I need more time to write all these books, but that’ll have to wait. I need to finish and schedule this post, then head to dinner. Ciao!

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500 year old Airlie Oak Tree with Spanish Moss – Stunning

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Lake in the middle of Airlie Gardens

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Sitting area built in an old oak tree

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Random trees in between the various gardens

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Cemetery with graves from the 1700s (creepy lighting effect!)

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Bridal Walk to the lake where they hold weddings

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States built all throughout with small sitting areas

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Brunch at Wrightsville Beach @11:40 (oops, drinking before 12 noon, I’m bad!)

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View from our table of the surfers while we had brunch

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

365 Challenge: Day 154 – College Jobs

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College Jobs: jobs I held during college years to pay for tuition and have some spending money

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Sunday posts, the end of each week, have become a theme on This-Is-My-Truth-Now, organized by groups of five (5) focused on interesting things about my life. I’m continuing the trend of the seventh day, ending the week on Sunday, as a list (we know I love them) that provides more in depth knowledge about me.

  • Weeks 1 – 5: Primary ethnicity groups and nationalities
  • Weeks 6 – 10: A to Z Favorites
  • Weeks 11 – 15: Colors with an important meaning
  • Weeks 16 – 20: Cities I’ve lived

The current set of 5 Sundays covers the major groups of roles / jobs / positions I’ve held over my career. Though I have had about fifteen titles over the years, when I broke it down into smaller groups, week two is all about the jobs I held during college.

  • Day Care Worker
  • Waiter
  • College Department Office Clerk

First semester students were not permitted to work in lieu of having time to adjust to being on your own, away at a college campus. It’s probably for the best, as it not only gives you the ability to sort out your friends, schedule and identity, but it also lets you focus on looking for the the right kind of job. When I enrolled at Moravian College, I knew I wanted to major in English and Education, so I talked to both departments. The Education Department had already hired someone for the spring semester, but the English Department wanted to see how I did in the first year writing course before I started in the Writing Center as a tutor. I needed a job! I had a phone bill to pay. And needed cash to go on dates. To buy books. Whaaattt??

By luck, I met and chatted with the Catholic Chaplain at mass each Sunday, as I went to church back then. Father Pete was a great man. We talked for hours about life, pursuing hopes and dreams and figuring out our connection to God and others. I worked in the on-campus seminary office for a few months, helping as a clerk with various responsibilities until he moved on in the beginning of my sophomore year to a different school. I chose not to return to that office as a student worker, as the only reason I had taken the role was the friendship with Father Pete. At that point, the English Department hired me as a tutor for 10 hours per week.     Thye sed i culd right wel!    I worked with first year students to offer advice on papers, help them understand basic grammar rules and provide guidance on research options for their course topics. I was also offered 10 hours in the Education Department, helping to coordinate the senior year student teaching program with all of the local schools. Both were fantastic jobs, but I had to quit the Writing Center position in my junior year because the Education Department’s office manager had become sick. She was taking a 3 month leave of absence and the Department Chair hadn’t wanted to hire anyone else. I ran the office with another student, taking on about 25 hours per week, which was the maximum for any student worker.

All of these experiences taught me essential and critical office and business skills, eventually preparing me for my future in post-college jobs — an upcoming post. I made several great contacts, learned the art of negotiation and developed ways to build relationships and trust, beyond that of a professor and a student. It also helped push me towards obtaining teaching certification, which I ultimately stopped just before the final stage. After a year of student teaching, I had realized that if I taught children all day long, I might not be such a great parent at night, needing a break from it and wanting the opportunity for adult conversation. Ultimately, though I love the concept of teaching, I would not handle the politics in grammar and secondary schools these days. I finished out college with a minor in Education, added in Spanish and Business courses, and obtained a degree in English with two concentrations in writing and literature.

While school was out for the summers, or had minimal classes, both departments cut hours for students, which was fine for me. I ended up searching for jobs and took one related to my field and one unrelated to my field. Let’s start with my job as a waiter, perhaps one of my favorites. My father’s cousin owned an upscale Italian restaurant and hired summer workers. I had been there a few times, helping her with setting up menus on the computer and the screens for the cashier registers. She gave me a chance working as a waiter on the lunch shifts, a sort of test run to see if I could hack it. Apparently, I could! She soon put me on the schedule for Friday and Saturday nights. Despite being shy, I had a different persona when I was a waiter, one in which I was super friendly, slightly flirty and extremely attentive. I never dropped any food or drinks, rarely got abused my rude customers and usually came home with a really good amount of tips. I learned a lot from the kitchen staff, how to order food from suppliers and how to make drinks. Another great set of skills to pick up when you are 19 / 20, as I did this for both the summers after freshman and sophomore year.

Additionally, during my sophomore year, and then again during my junior year summers, I worked for 35 hours per week at a day care nursery school. I was assigned the first year as the helper in a room for two-year-olds, and then I was given primary responsibility for a room of 3-year-olds. Knowing the kids were much younger than I planned to teach, it wasn’t a perfect fit; however, it was much better than working inside all day in a job that felt claustrophobic over the summer. I had two fifteen-minute breaks, plus 30 minutes for lunch. We took them to the gym for 30 minutes each day, plus 30 minutes outside for a walk around the property. We played games, read and tried to teach a few things around nap schedules. It was a really fun job, as I love children. I’m usually the one crawling on the floor, acting like a child myself.

It was a little awkward at first, as some of the two-year-olds needed their diapers changed, which although not something new for me (I had tons of younger cousins I often babysat), it felt weird to do that in public in a room with other kids and adults, knowing I was the only guy in the entire school. I think I might have been a ‘diversity’ hire — I mean no offense by that in terms of race or ethnicity, simply a little humor in that the owner was overly-thrilled I wanted to work there but also nervous what the parents would think. I wasn’t out to anyone during college, nor very obvious, but they must have known. Some of the girls flirted at first, but either I gave off signals or they realized their bark was climbing the wrong tree! I had to go through an extra interview process to meet all the parents at a drop-off and pick-up prior to being approved in the classroom. It was right at the height of all the laws changing to be more protective of children (rightfully so) and still at a time when it wasn’t quite normal for a guy to work in that field. It probably helped that at 20, I still looked 14 (just like at 40, I still look 18 21 27 33, and keep your mouth shut if you feel the need to say anything else), and although I was quite smart and adult-like in everything I did, I always came across as quote young and innocent.

I don’t think I could or would do that job again now. Not because I don’t love children, but because parents and schools are nightmares when it comes to all the do’s and don’ts in the classroom. I understand the policies and different teaching methods, but I have little tolerance for all the BS politics. I also probably wouldn’t want to be a waiter again, not because of the tasks or the duties, but because people are so rude on their cell phones to wait staff, it doesn’t feel worth it anymore. Whenever I’m a patron in a restaurant, I ensure I know the server’s name and find a connection point to keep dialogue moving throughout the time (s)he is serving us. That’s sorta the issue for me… they might be ‘serving’ us for that 90-minute period, but seriously, let’s all be friendly and open-minded about it. If the waiter is a jerk or difficult, then I just let them be cold and distant and won’t connect. Always their choice in the beginning…

How about you? What did you learn from your college or summer jobs after graduating from high school? Or what are your kids thinking about doing?

RECOMMENDED BLOGGER

  • Today’s 365 Daily Challenge recommended blogger to know is Karen @ Run Wright. I don’t exactly recall how or when Karen and I connected, but it was a good thing it happened. She’s a published author, has a fantastic personality and a bit of a fun quirky humor in all our conversations. We’ve chatted about everything from TV shows to running to what to do if your date showed up wearing a romper or a jumper matching the one you’d chosen. Yikes! We both live in NYC and might meet up one day, which could just blow the whole blogging world up — as there are many of us here (I already met one lovely lady). We could all start a club. Karen is a delight to chat with, interacts frequently and always pushes you to think outside the box a little. I’m very curious to see if she’d take over a 365 post one day, simply to see what kind of angle she’d pursue. I’m also very curious about this accent she tells us about. When I read her comments, I try to think about her typing it out on a mobile phone while hopping on the subway three cars down from me — wouldn’t that be ironic! If you want to learn more about her, check out the below blurb from her About Me section and then go visit the site yourself:
    • “I’m Karen but people who know me through the blog now call me Run Wright. It’s always funny for me to hear that but I love the validation.I’m a published author and my collection of stories, It’s Complicated: Short Stories About Long Relationships is now available on Amazon. I’m Jamaican but I’ve lived in New York City almost long enough to have lost my accent (not really)… My accent is most distinct when I’m excited (at least once a day) and always when I talk to my mom. I love running even though I’m not very good at it. I am a Chemical Engineer by training but my true passion is writing – it’s how I express myself best and it’s how I share my dreams with others. I write fiction, poetry, articles, short stories and I have a several novels on my computer that are almost ready to be published. I blog about running, fitness, goals, lessons learned, books, food and balanced living. I’m passionate about being a Christian and live to reflect God’s character.”

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

My Novel: Father Figure (Week 6 – Friday, August 11th, 2017)

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Writing a book runs the range from easy to difficult. At times, the words are exactly as captivating as you need them to be. In others, the words feel more stilted than one could possibly imagine. First drafts are only meant to be the initial release of the story in your head. I encountered both extremes during the course of the week, but in the end, it all came together quite nicely. I’m still baffled how six weeks ago this was barely a figment of my imagination and now here we are with 40% of the first draft written. I present to you Father Figure’s weekly status:

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Status:  Friday, August 11, 2017 – Week #6

  • Research
    • Let’s not discuss.
  • Chapters 1 thru 6
    • Editing went well. I cleaned up a few grammar issues. Dropped in a few connections for surprises in later chapters. Overall, there are moments in the story where I find myself a bit teary and at others excited. I should be ready to share two chapters with the beta team before the end of August.
      • Describing the onset of a winter blizzard in the deep fields of a small Ohio town has been intense. But some of the descriptions I’ve included feel like a few paragraphs of my best writing.
  • Chapters 7 thru 9
    • I committed to drafting three chapters this week and I’m happy to say I met the goal. I’m finally back down with a count around twelve pages per chapter, which is what I had planned. I feel good about not being too wordy, and I’m inclined to think the initial chapters have some backstory and/or descriptions which might be pushed forward a bit to balance out the page count and keep the interest in the action growing more fervent.
  • Chapters 10 thru 11 (BONUS!)
    • Ever the Type A personality, I wrote an additional two chapters this week. I have not edited them, just let the words fly from my fingers to the characters on the laptop screen. I’ll decide next week if that was a good idea or a bad one based on how well written they seem after a few days distance. But… it was important to push myself if I want the entire first draft complete sooner than the original plan.
      • TIP: Sometimes writers get caught up in details along the way. I wanted to name a specific music artist or song in a paragraph, but needed to research the perfect option. I had a choice: (a) take 15 minutes to find it and get lost down a rabbit hole where I lost the momentum or (b) add a “____” to be filled in later. Always add the line, you will get more done in the end.

 

 Next Steps: Plan for Week #7

    • Edit Chapter 7 thru 11 to match tone and voice of earlier chapters, include additional details and check repetition in words or phrases
    • Write chapters 12 thru 15 with a target to end up in total at ~ 210 pages & 65K words
      • At that point, I’ll be 55% complete with a first draft
      • At that rate, with 5 more weeks to finish the remaining 45%, a first draft needs to be complete by 9/16 when I leave on vacation. It will sit untouched for 2 weeks to let my mind process in the background, then I can begin editing in early October upon my return home.

What’s on the author’s mind?

  • Building characters is an incredibly fun experience. I’m not certain how other writers embrace the process, but for me, each one lives and breathes with me throughout the day. Let’s take Amalia, the main character, as an example. I know what she looks like and I watch in my head as she walks around a college campus.
    • I know the little flip she does with her curly hair
    • I notice the way the wind carries her perfume across the library entrance
    • I knew the adrenaline markers across her body when she’s afraid of the guy who appears to be following her
  • The campus is remarkably similar to where I went to school merely because I need a setting. I’ll adjust those particulars later as the visualization is about how Amalia behaves. She has a few distinguishing features (no reveals here!) and in order to convey them throughout the story without constantly repeatedly saying the same thing, I have to imagine
    • how her body would walk
    • how it would sit
    • how it would interact when she was intimate with someone
  • I’m not one for fluff, so I need to have a strong sense of not only how her body moves, but how she feels about the way it moves. When I add in the backstory of her relationship with her mother and father, it gets more complicated.
    • what words did her mother use to teach Amalia about femininity
    • how did her father handle his daughter becoming a woman
    • what happens when she goes from small town to college campus.
  • These are things that, at least for this writer, don’t just flow out of my head and onto the page as I’m writing. I need those details worked out in advance, incorporated from the outline into the book at the proper time. It’s a rather organized approach, but at the same time, I feel it brings depth to the character whereas if I just wrote it as I thought of the sentiments, it may not feel strong enough for what I’m trying to accomplish.
  • On a scarier note, I stumbled upon a few potential changes to an event that I’d planned to occur in a chapter I wrote this week. When you have a character with more than one love interest, you need to be careful to clearly show why (s)he would feel attracted to each potential suitor. Though I’d summarized a half page about each relationship in the outline, it didn’t feel distinct when I wrote it. I wasn’t convinced that I’d built a proper explanation or desire to distinguish what each love represents. I have some re-thinking to do which at first made me nervous, but now I realize it will help set up the conflict in a way that readers might not even be sure who they want to be together. I love a good challenge!

Are these tidbits confounding you? Raising and peaking your interest? Or you’re just waiting until I have something more real to share? Thanks for listening.

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Summary of Father Figure (only read if you’re new to the book)

  • Amalia Graeme, sheltered and abused for most her life in Mississippi, longs to escape her difficult family and small hometown in 1984. When her older brother returns with his best friend, Amalia is tempted to have her first experience with a boy that summer. As they head off to college for her first year and his senior year, she begins to learn about life and love, battling her loss of innocence with the attraction she’s developed to an older professor. After she suffers a few personal tragedies, Amalia is forced to head back home, uncertain how to handle the permanent impacts on her life and future. No matter where she turns, someone or something always takes away her possibility of hope.
  • Brianna Porter is desperate to discover the purpose of her life, develop confidence in who she is, accept the consequences of who she has fallen in love with, and discover her father’s identity. Set twenty years in the future in New York City, there’s a connection between these two women’s stories that is about to be discovered. As Brianna stumbles upon her mother’s old journal, she learns a shocking secret about her father, rocked by a truth that could completely change the future. It may be too late to deal with the impacts of unleashing a history that was meant to stay buried for many reasons. When it leads to someone’s death, Brianna must come to terms with the choices she’s made and what is left of her own future.

 

About Me
I am a writer. I am currently searching for an agent and looking at independent publishing options for my first book, Watching a Glass Shatter. To see more, please check out the website for this novel where you will find the first 3 chapters, character bios and sample quotes.

I am writing my second novel, Father Figure, with plans to finish it in December, 2017. As part of the process to engage with my fans and followers, I am publishing a weekly status on the progress of this second book. For a description of this book, check out the post where my friends and followers voted for this book as my second novel.

Beyond these two books, I have a number of short stories, poems and other novels in various shapes and forms. I also read A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, Tags, Awards, Age/Genre/Book Reads and Author Spotlights, as well as the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge.

You can also access my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

365 Challenge: Day 133 – Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

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Bethlehem, Pennsylvania: Christmas-town in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania, home of Moravian College, where I went to school for four years

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Sunday posts, the end of each week, have become a theme on This-Is-My-Truth-Now, organized by groups of five (5). In the first set of five, we explored my primary ethnicity groups and nationalities. In the second set of five, we had the AtoZ Challenges for various favorite things in our lives. In the third set of five, we discovered all the colors (excluding black and white) that have an important meaning to me. And so… I’m continuing the trend of the seventh day, ending the week on Sunday, as a list (we know I love them) that provides more in depth knowledge about me. This is our fourth grouping, covering weeks #16 thru #20 of the 365 Daily Challenge, and the topics will be: the 5 Places I’ve lived! Last week was the city where I  where I grew up — Long Island, New York, but this week is the city where I went to college: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Before we get into those details, a few interesting facts about this lovely place as well as the Wikipedia link for more information:

  • One of the centers of steel trade during the Industrial Revolution
  • Over 20 colleges and universities in the surrounding cities of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton
  • Christmas village setup every year
  • Large population of Moravian religion followers

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After I took the SAT, I received hundreds of brochures based on my scores and profile. I picked a few schools on Long Island, but I also wanted a few that would bring me to another state. I found three schools of interest in the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania. Given my uncle and his family moved to the Lancaster area the prior year, and this was only about an hour north, we took a family trip and killed two birds with one stone. {Aside: No birds were really harmed, I promise.} We toured the college campus for each school, and by the time I’d finished, I decided which school was best for me. I won’t bring up the negatives on the other ones, as that’s not fair; we all have our own taste and interest. I chose Moravian College, right in the heart of Bethlehem.  It had two campuses, North and South, separated by about 1 mile of the central part of the village. It’s the sixth oldest school in the country and was originally a women’s college.

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Moravian was where I became an adult. I went from being an incredibly shy and quiet only child who rarely went out… to a fraternity guy (YES, I know… shocker!) — and our frat’s president in my junior year… to a theatre performer and a middle school student teacher. I’ve had so many different lives, but it all began with living on my own for the first time at 18 years old. I cried when I said goodbye to my parents. I started making friends, drinking at a few parties, building up courage and confidence. It’s where I learned to become my own man. I still chat with many of my frat brothers, sorority friends and dorm buddies. It was an amazing experience, as I love the academic life and culture. Some day, perhaps I’ll be a professor of something and be able to give back to students and colleges.

During the 4 years, I lived on campus for 2 years and off campus in the fraternity house for 2 years. I came home for major holidays and a few weeks each summer, otherwise, I lived in Bethlehem. I had my own car, a kitchen to cook in and a house to party in. I considered staying there after graduation, but it was a strange year for me, ultimately sending me back to Long Island. Everything changed when I graduated: My grandfather had recently passed away, my godmother passed away and I accepted that I was gay. I’d never explored that side of me before, though I had known it was always who I was. I’ve gone back a few times to visit friends, to speak at the college for alumni meetings, graduations and and guest spots at conferences. I miss it, to be honest. But it helped make me who I am today, and for that, I will always be grateful. Though it only last 4 years, it has a lifetime of memories:

  • Where I dyed my hair rust
  • Where I earned the nickname Saturday Night Fever
  • The only time I’ve been hospitalized (dehydration, and not from drinking!)
  • Where I rushed and pledged a fraternity — don’t ask me about hazing!
  • Where I met amazing friends and professors
  • When I became a man (an adult)
  • How I learned multi-tasking skills
  • Where my thirst of history was quenched
  • Where I was elected to read several verses and readings at the annual Moravian Vespers ceremony in the Moravian Church full of thousands of people
  • Where my love of Christmas was normal

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Imagine being in Bethlehem during Christmas season… when it snowed… at an outdoor village… buying presents… with reindeer and elves running all around against a forest backdrop and the river banks just on the other side… in a valley and on a hill… sheer perfection. It’s a wonderful place to visit, and many of my friends and former college buddies still live there. I’ll visit again soon.

How about you? Have you been to Bethlehem? Moravian College? Lehigh Valley? Share away this week before we finish the last in this 5-week arc revealing all the places I’ve lived. Next and last is San Francisco one week from today. Thanks for being part of this fun series!

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RECOMMENDED BLOGGER

  • Today’s 365 Daily Challenge recommended blogger to know is Mama Cass @ Aspen Tree Book Reviews. We connected a little less than two months ago probably over a book we both enjoyed. Her website is dedicated to many great books in a range of genres and sub-genres. She’s quite funny and we’ve had tons of conversations about genealogy and technology. She’s done a lot of research and is always searching for more great finds. She also calls me Superman, which I find quite funny, given how I always refer to myself as average. But if you want to see some humor, get a little inspiration and meet a new friend, check out her site. A few words from her About Me section:
    • “I have been reading since the time I could walk.  50 years later and I read approximately 150 books a year.  I want each author to take me to a land, a time, a place of their choosing.  I am merely along for the ride. I read many different genres of books, because I love diversity, sociology and culture. So, that being said, you might find books about African American literature, books about Buddhism or Muslim, or a gay or lesbian love story.  I don’t believe in just reading what is familiar, that’s a good way to miss out.”

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.