Family Drama

Book Review: Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

Posted on

Book Review: 4 out of 5 stars to Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak.

even.jpg

Why This Book
I was surfing NetGalley when this one appeared on my screen. Given it’s a family drama, one of my favorite sub-genres, I had to read it. I’m on a kick to finish reading all my NetGalley books by 12/31 before I can request anything else, so this moved to the top of the list. I added it as a book on my ‘Book Bucket List’ on my blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com/my-very-own-book-bucket-list/, where my followers choose one book for me to read each month. This was the winner for December, so I moved it up the queue.

Plot, Characters & Setting
The Birch family, parents Emma and Andrew, have two daughters, Olivia and Phoebe, in a small lovely English town. Olivia is visiting for the first time in a very long time, taking a week’s vacation from her work in Africa. Due to working with a particular type of disease, she and her family must live in quarantine for 1 week to ensure the disease doesn’t spread. Each family member has their own secret, which are all starting to come undone during this week long exercise in re-connection. I won’t spoil anything, but it’s a very warm-story about how everyone relates with each other, or fails to connect, over the course of this 7-day period. A few visitors stop by the house, not realizing they must stay once they’ve been exposed, which makes the drama level heightened.

Approach & Style
I read the Kindle version on my iPad of this 350 page book over the course of a week. It’s a contemporary fiction family drama novel told from the perspective of each of the major characters in the main family. The novel is in third person POV with relatively short chapters.

Strengths & Concerns
Hornak excels at creating distinct family members with believable characteristics and stories. I liked them all for different reasons, but even better as a family unit. The English setting is quite charming and helps shine a light on the type of ‘off-balance’ relationships going on in the Birch family. The story doesn’t get nicely wrapped up in a bow at the end, which is always a good thing — it’s nice to leave a bit of drama still circulating around the edges. The writing is crisp and clean. I find myself thinking about the family days after I’ve finished reading it.

While I enjoyed the construct of the seven day period, it felt a bit rushed as there is a bit of history to get caught up on with each character. It’s minor, and there’s really no other way around it (I’ve written a novel in a similar structure, so I totally get it!). I would have liked some additional content in the Epilogue to know where the characters went eventually; the current version was way too short. Both are minor and nothing to even distract or worry. I always try to leave a small suggestion.

Author, Other Similar Books, & Final Thoughts
I believe this is her debut, and it’s outstanding under that context. I truly look forward to reading more from her. Thank you to NetGalley for granting me the ability to read this book, as well as the publisher and author.

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.

Advertisements

My Novel: Father Figure – Status

Posted on Updated on

I’m happy to report everything is on schedule for Father Figure to be released in early 2018 (by March). Discussions with the publisher will begin after the Thanksgiving holiday to set the publication date and begin considering book covers. Below is the current status of this novel:

writer

Editing Round 2 (November 2017)

  • All editing has been completed. After the first round of beta reading at the end of September, I removed/re-structured about 20% of the content and added 20% new or enhanced story arcs. The novel is stronger and more powerful in the current version, but it is not yet finished.
  • I have added more mystery and suspense to the beginning of this work, but I think it may need a little more splash to immediately pull in readers. I’ll decide next week once I finish a read-thru.

Next Steps (December 2017)

  • Over the next week, I plan to read the book aloud to myself, making notes and correcting anything that sounds awkward or needs some minor adjustments. The target is to be complete on Friday 12/1 — one week from today.
  • I will prepare an overview for a group of 5 to 8 beta readers for a second read-thru. I will have a series of questions plus a list of a few things I am still considering changing. I want to get both sets of feedback before I finish the final version for proofreading. Beta readers will have from 12/1 thru 12/10 to read the book and provide feedback.
  • Once I have all input, I will make final revisions and send the book off to an editor and the publisher to design the cover and provide any final input. The target is to complete the final version from 12/11 through 12/31.

What’s on the author’s mind?

  • I need to select the beta readers. I am ‘starting from scratch’ with the next read-thru meaning I am not automatically sending it to the group who read the September version. If you are interested, let me know and we can discuss. I want to get a broad range of feedback, but it also needs to be fairly detailed, constructive, and analytical. I received good feedback in the first round, but I’m pushing harder in this next round to truly get to the heart of the book and determine what if anything is not working.
  • It’s a good feeling to see the growth in my writing since ‘Watching Glass Shatter’ was written almost one year ago. My style has evolved in a few ways, ranging from a bit less wordy to a stronger voice with each character. Having fewer characters to work with provided an opportunity to reach deeper into each person’s emotions; I’m hoping there is a more intense connection with readers in this novel. In Watching Glass Shatter, they were all relatively good people, despite a few annoying habits and secrets. In Father Figure, there’s a fair balance of good versus evil in our new characters, and well… it’s too early to say much, but I’ll certainly reveal…

I appreciate everyone’s input and feedback. Thank you and have a great weekend!

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________

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 an author who recently published his debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, which has been well received my readers. I am writing my second novel, Father Figure, with plans to finish and submit it to a publisher in December, 2017. As part of the process to engage with my fans and followers, I am publishing a regular status on the progress of this second book. For a description of this book, check out the post where my fans 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 Alerts, 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.

Watching Glass Shatter: Blog Tour Day 10 – Jessica Rachow

Posted on Updated on

It’s Day 10 on the Watching Glass Shatter Book Blog Tour and we have the amazing Jessica Rachow… thank you to her for a 5-star review and for the great feedback and friendship the last few months. She’s currently writing her own novel on Nano this month — you must check her out… She’s friendly, interactive, smart and funny. Click the link below to read her post on today’s tour and then spend more time on her awesome blog.

Don’t forget today’s 6pm EST RADIO SPOT where I will discuss the book launch for 1-hour on the internet @ http://www.artistfirst.com/

via Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney – Blog Tour

Watching Glass Shatter: Blog Tour Day 4 – Misifusa

Posted on

If you’re following along on the blog tour, today’s stop is misifusa and the link is below. She’s got a fantastic review to share and I am very appreciative.

via Watching Glass Shatter

My Novel: Father Figure (Week 13 – Thursday, November 2nd, 2017)

Posted on Updated on

It’s been a few weeks since I posted the current status of my second novel, Father Figure. As many of you know, my debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, launched 3 weeks ago and has taken over a majority of my time. In between marketing plans, book review, blog tours and promotions, I have been slowly making progress with all the edits for the next round of Father Figure beta reading. When I set a date, I don’t change it unless absolutely necessary; I’m happy to report I am still on target for an early 2018 release. Below is the current status:

writer

Status: Thursday, November 2, 2017 – Week #13

 

Round 1 Edit – The First Draft

  • Every potential change suggested by the initial beta reading team has been reviewed, digested and addressed with the exception of 3 major items that all require a dedicated about of time where I can focus and plan. This is where I need to start turning off the internet for 4 hours each day to dive into the details without interruption.  To give you a flavor of what I am referring to:
    • Add more raw/griping emotion to the initial few chapters and remove/move some of the background information (Get less wordy and get into the action!)
    • Tighten up the character details, voice and tone for 1 protagonist who is a little too wishy-washy (Be clear on what she wants from others!)
    • Lengthen and draw out the ending a bit more to keep the suspense even more climactic (Don’t end this journey so quickly!)

 

Next Steps: Plan for Upcoming Week

  • Complete editing for 2 of the 3 key areas, as noted above
  • Read entire novel aloud with a focus on dialogue and point-of-view to ensure everything is consistent, clear and distinct
  • Determine who is interested in being a beta reader for Round 2 (target for readers to review from 11/20 to 11/30)

 

What’s on the author’s mind?

  • How believable do readers expect the plot of a novel to be? For example, if in reality, a situation occurs 2% of the time, and the book takes advantage of that situation, is it fair to judge the author or book by calling it out as unbelievable? Some say books should push the envelope and encourage limitless boundaries. Others feel if its a contemporary novel it should be something more common and relatable. I tend to fall somewhere in the middle. If the actual occurrence of the situation happening is fairly minimal, but still achievable, I think the author should do as much as possible in the novel’s narrative, dialogue and tone to clearly explain and show why even though it’s rare, it can happen. How do you feel?
  • Sometimes a character in a book is going on a journey and has certain beliefs or ideas about life. It may be different than the readers’ beliefs or expectations on how the journey should happen. There may be less action and more conversation in the story to help the character determine their goals. How do readers feel about this being a bigger part of the plot of a book? For instance, if someone is trying to make a decision as part of their story arc, is putting them through a few situations that might see like inconsistent behavior for them considered ‘acceptable’ or ‘frustrating’ to the reader? How do you feel?

 

I appreciate everyone’s input and feedback. Thank you and have a great week!

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________

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 recently published my first novel, Watching Glass Shatter, with multiple 5-star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I am writing my second novel, Father Figure, with plans to finish and submit it to a publisher 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 Alerts, 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.

My Novel: Father Figure (Week 12 – Sunday, October 8th, 2017)

Posted on Updated on

Welcome Back! When I last updated everyone, I had sent a very early alpha/beta read to several people to review while I was away on vacation. I returned earlier this week and am ready to get back into the swing of things. I had to take a short hiatus for two days since returning so I could focus on my first novel, ‘Watching Glass Shatter,’ as a few things came up (cover and final editing!); however, I squeezed in a couple of days focus on ‘Father Figure’ towards the end of the week. Below is the current week’s status:

writer

Status:  Sunday, October 8, 2017 – Week #12

  • Round 1 Edit – The First Draft
    • I read all of the feedback from the alpha/beta reading team. I am very appreciative to everyone who took the time to read my draft, answer the ten primary questions, suggest areas for improvement and fix some of the grammar/spelling items I missed. Overall, it was a successful process that has definitely provided me clear direction on what I need to focus on next.
    • I broke down all the suggestions into three key areas: (1) easy fixes, (2) mid-level fixes and (3) hard fixes. By this morning, I’ve completed all the (1) easy and (2) mid-level fixes in the next version. What remains are the (3) hard fixes — approximately 20 areas that need to be thought through before I can begin any additional changes. More on these items in the area below for the upcoming week’s plans.

 

Next Steps: Plan for Upcoming Week

  • Focus on the ’20’ areas for improvement. I will map out a plan for each of the items and introduce 5 of the 20 changes next week. I will work on the other 15 the following week. My goal is to be done with the next version before October 31st so that I can send out for the next ‘beta read’ version.
  • Key ares to focus on include:
    • I’m considering rolling back from a 1998/2018 time period to a 1983/2003 time period. This allows me more flexibility in terms of character arc matching background setting — to help with a few rationale and believe-ability concerns.
    • I’m considering moving the location setting for one arc from Ohio to Mississippi. It fits better with my character arc and background setting and will help me accomplish more realistic portrayals of what’s happening.
    • Some of the background in the first few chapters needs to be condensed. It’s a bit wordy and subsequently delays me from getting to the good part of the story action in an early enough fashion.
    • Refine a few character personality issues. A few readers loved them, a few thought there were some discrepancies in personality and actions.
    • Match voice and dialogue for each character more distinctively and consistently. Some areas were very tight. Some were a little weak. A few folks thought the characters were quite alive, jumping off the page. A few thought the dialogue wasn’t as unique as it needs to be.
    • The ending was a little too rushed. It needed a few more chapters to flush out the reactions after the big climax scenes.

What’s on the author’s mind?

  • Although I’ve been through the alpha/beta read process in my first novel, Watching Glass Shatter, I learned a lot in my approach for my second novel, Father Figure. Given I rushed the last few days to leave for vacation, it all came together about as well as I’d hoped; however, it could have been better had I made some additional time to prep everyone. I should have had more clear questions and provided a stronger picture to the readers of what areas still needed work. Unfortunately, it left a few folks thinking it was a finished product, and others thought it was supposed to be error-free. Once I clarified, the process went a lot smoother. I have a good plan for the next round!
  • It’s amazing to see how people’s opinions can range on the same material. 1 beta reader loved the first 5 to 6 chapters, but thought the rest was not as good. Another beta felt the first 5 to 6 chapters moved too slowly, but highlighted the rest as fantastic. My biggest takeaway, besides agreeing that everyone is probably right, is that I have to get to the crux of what the readers liked and disliked, so I can decide what my intention is versus what actually happened in the story. I love this process. I love hearing why someone thought a particular scene was brilliant and another person felt the dialogue was off, or the setting was weak or the plot was not believable.  As a writer, it’s a challenge to apply what I hear to the direction I want to take. I am grateful for such strong and open-minded beta readers, as it has been very helpful to hear all sides and angles.
  • I’m really excited to dive into these changes next week. I have so many creative juices flowing right now, I don’t know what to do with myself!

 

Side Note: ‘Watching Glass Shatter’ is nearly complete. I will have a COVER REVEAL and LAUNCH DATE within the next week. Look for the post soon!!!

_____________________________________________________________________________________

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 have signed a contract for a publisher on my first book, Watching 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 and submit it to a publisher in November, 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.

My Novel: Father Figure (Week 11 – Friday, September 15th, 2017) – Sending to Beta Readers Tonight

Posted on Updated on

Round 1 Edits are complete. I’ve even incorporated a few pieces of feedback on the first two chapters from the beta reading team. I feel sadness over putting the novel on hiatus for two weeks, but the break will give me the energy boost when I return from vacation to power through the next phase. In the meantime, this will be the last Father Figure update until Friday 10/6. For now, I am thrilled to present Father Figure’s weekly status:

writer

Status:  Friday, September 15, 2017 – Week #11

  • Round 1 Edit – The First Draft
    • All grammar and spelling has been corrected to the best of my ability. I plan to step away for a few weeks and look at it again with a fresh set of eyes, as I know I’ll find a few minor updates once I’m relaxed. Those types of items will be easy to fix in Round 2 Editing.
    • I removed 5% of the pages / content, leaving me at 378 pages and 112K words. I know I have another 5% that will need to be cut to clean up excess wordiness, but I plan to wait until after beta readers have some input before I slash and burn!
    • I corrected 95% of the perspective or point of view (POV) issues that I could find. I’ll fix the remaining ones after receiving beta feedback as depending on whether I keep a few small sections, the POV issues may disappear on their own.
    • Character and setting descriptions have been enhanced and made consistent throughout all chapters.
    • It will be released to a few beta readers this evening!

 

Next Steps: Plan for Next Few Weeks

  • Vacation: 9/17 thru 10/2 – No work to be done on Father Figure.
  • Round 2 Edits (beta feedback incorporation) will occur from 10/3 thru 10/20.

What’s on the author’s mind?

  • I am looking forward to putting this out of my focus for two weeks, but I’m also looking forward to jumping right back in on 10/3 to review beta feedback and begin Round 2 Editing. I hope it only takes 2 to 3 weeks to finish this effort, as I’d like to send it to agents and the publisher in early November, pending how much remaining work I have to do with Watching Glass Shatter, my first novel. I’m really excited to think about this second one coming to a conclusion, but also shocked that it will have taken just under 4 months to dream, write and edit a ~375 page novel.
  • In October, it will be time to start thinking about novel #3. I already have ideas, but I will not let myself work on it until  Watching Glass Shatter is on on the market and the initial 30 days of advertising and sales have occurred. Anyone interested in participating in another poll again to let readers and fans pick the third novel?
  • In November, Book Reviews, Blog Tours and Interviews will be the priority for Watching Glass Shatter, but I will also prepare an outline for novel #3. While Watching Glass Shatter starts to enter normal reader mode, around 12/1, I’d like to start writing again, assuming Father Figure’s edits are complete and in final stage review with the publisher.

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________

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 have signed a contract for a publisher on 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 and submit it to a publisher in November, 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.