fiction

Book Review: The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse

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4 out of 5 stars to The Art of Hiding, a family drama novel published in July 2017 and written by Amanda Prowse. I adored this book and am so glad I read it; let’s get right into the review.

hiding

Why This Book
A few months ago, I’d finished reading ‘The Idea of You,’ by this author. I really enjoyed the book, and when ‘The Art of Hiding’ showed up on my NetGalley feed, I had to request it. I forgot that they approved my request until last week, when I went to select whatever was next to be published as my next book to start reading. I’d been so busy writing my own novel, I missed the publish date for this one. So I quickly read it in 2+ days to get caught up.

Plot, Characters & Setting
Nina McCarrick, a mid-30s mother of two boys, 10 and 14, lives a wonderful life on a beautiful Southampton, England estate. That is, until her husband unexpectedly dies and she learns all was not what he’d been telling her. Suddenly losing her life high up on the hill, she’s forced to turn to all her friends and family for assistance. One person takes her in, helping re-build a life for both Nina and the boys. Nina begins to learn the difference between losing your own identity and being part of a married couple. Sometimes, it isn’t a good idea to give up control of all aspects of your life, as when it comes crashing down, you’ll have no idea what to expect.

Approach & Style
I read this novel through Kindle Reader on my iPad over the course of two and a half days. It is about 300 pages long, divided into 15 chapters, all told from Nina’s perpsective in third person point of view. The language is simple but meaningful; it reads itself as you feel immersed in the world Prowse has created for her readers. You could probably read this all in one day over 4 to 5 hours if you kept focused, and it would definitely be an enjoyable read.

Strengths
Prowse tells intricate family stories full of complexity and drama; not so much with everyone around the main characters, but within their small family unit. I felt the same way about one of her other books, and I’ve now come to realize this is her style; this is who the author is and what she excels at.

Nina is easy to relate with, given she is a new widow and has young boys to care for. She has no job, her skills are mostly outdated according to anyone she runs into. You immediately feel a strong connection with the woman, wanting to see her succeed. She’s a wonderful mother. She doesn’t sugarcoat the truth either. She dances around it a bit, hoping not to devastate her children, but she also knows hiding their situation will do more harm than good.

It’s not a suspense story, yet I only put it down because it was midnight and had to wake up early the next morning. You feel as though the events unfold right in your own living room as you are reading, and simply do not want to miss a moment of the beauty and pain inside this family.

Concerns
Very little with this book. It wasn’t a huge and amazing story that captures a tremendous amount of ground. It’s simple and thought-provoking. I felt it could have used a little more clarity around the death of the father and the days leading up to it. At the same time, it all came as a shock to Nina, so why shouldn’t it come as a shock to readers, too. But in the end, I would have connected a bit more strongly if I had some current history. Just a smidge.

On occasion, the relationship Nina had with others felt a bit fake. I thought it was necessary to the plot in some places, but it was a little too much in other places. Sometimes the balance between her being a lonely and hidden wife versus a lonely and hidden widow losing everything wasn’t as clear as I’d have liked it to be. A few extra paragraphs explaining how she interacted with her ‘friends’ before she became a widow might have helped give it more substance and a range between the two people she needed to be during the course of the book. I also think her ‘lows’ weren’t low enough, meaning she needed to struggle more in finding a job, not being able to pay bills. There was some of this impact, but a few things were a little too hunky dory for my taste.

Final Thoughts
Amanda Prowse is quickly becoming 1 of my top 10 favorite authors. I actually marked five more of her books as ‘to-read’ today since I’ve read two and given then both 4’s. I’m going to search NetGalley after I post this review to see if I can get my greedy little hands on more. This woman can really write stories that straddle that line between heartbreak and the promise of a better day.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write 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 also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can 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. 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.

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Book Review: If the Creek Don’t Rise by Leah Weiss

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3 out of 5 stars to If The Creek Don’t Rise, an historical fiction novel set to be published in August 2017, written by Leah Weiss. I enjoyed reading the book, selecting 3 stars because it had several strong parts but also some concerns that I’ll share later. Overall, I’m glad I read it.

kdfsdsd.jpg

Why This Book 
I read the description of this book via NetGalley, where I search for all my ARCs, and thought it would be a great read prior to my upcoming trip to North Carolina, where I may be stopping in the same rural mountain area.

Plot, Characters & Setting 
This is an ensemble book about a cast of 10 characters in the mid 20th century who live in the rural area of the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina. It covers a few events that occurred to some of the townspeople in Baines Creek, providing the view points from different sides of the story. It centers around Sadie Blue, a 17-year-old girl who marries the man who has just gotten her pregnant. From there, the book covers domestic abuse, murder, religion, family, love and friendships. At its core, the novel covers the various relationships built in the town, understanding who sits back doing nothing versus who takes action when they are passionate about the outcome and protection of life.

Approach & Style 
I read the electronic version on my Kindle via an iPad over the course of five nights. The book is about 300 pages, each 20 pages long across 15 chapters. Each chapter is told from a different character’s point of view, written in the first person perspective. Dialect is important given the book is recreating life during a historical time period in a very specific region where culture and society are quite different.

Strengths 
The characters are very clear and distinct. Each of the major players has a voice you will recognize and understand. Sometimes you will love them and sometimes you will hate them, but each one will leave an impression.

The setting is quite strong. You will feel transported to this rural town in the mountains. From the description, to the dialect and to the way the story unfolds, it matches what you’d expect from the constructs of this type of environment. You will feel like you are in the town.

It deals with very specific personal and family issues that will resonate will a lot of people. From a social perspective, it highlights things that happened in the past that were almost condoned or allowed to happen, due to people’s fears and lack of education or knowledge.

Concerns 
When I read the description, I thought it would be a great plot and story. But when I read the book, it was quite different. This is not a novel where a primary plot point drives the chapters. It’s a character-driven story that tells of the happenings in a small town. The plot isn’t as important as the way each of the characters interpret it. I found myself skimming pages to get to the crux of the story, but it never happened. It’s a preference style, and I think the book should be marketed differently and have an alternative description or cover summary. It would help find a different set of readers who enjoy this type of book. Had I known, I might have spent more time investing in the characters in the beginning rather than trying to piece together a plot that wasn’t going to become any more clear. That said, it’s still a well-written book and will appeal to a wide audience.

Author & Other Similar Books 
Although they are not of the same caliber, it reminded me of the book Beartown by Fredrik Backman. Both books cover highly controversial social issues within a small town, telling the story of how everyone reacts to a few critical events. Where Beartown brings a focus on plot, this book is more about how people interpret society’s values and actions.

It’s the author’s first book, but she shows a lot of promise. I would read another of her books, but I’d want to be careful to understand the plot and approach to telling the story to verify it matches with the way I like to read a book.

Final Thoughts 
In my world, a 3 is a good review. It means you had good elements and a few things I didn’t quite latch on to. If this had a little more action and some clarity around the plot and point of the book, I might have given it a 4. That said, it will definitely resonate with many readers given it has a strong pull to connect you to the characters and the setting. Hope you enjoy it.

About Me 
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write 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 also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can 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. 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 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:

writer

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)

  • One young girl’s need to escape the mundane life she’s grown up in and another young girl’s quest to find her father, unaware of all the circumstances they’ve both been placed in due to decisions and actions occurring nearly 20 years ago and that both women have made in the present. How well do you really know your parents? Do they truly understand you? Can you ever truly escape the past?
  • A contemporary fiction novel set in two time periods with two primary characters:
    • 1998 – Amalia Graeme, about to turn 18, attends college, leaving behind a mother with whom she had a difficult relationship. While Amalia has a boyfriend, she’s secretly attracted to an older professor, Dr. Jonah West. She begins an affair with him and realizes she must come clean to her boyfriend. After she tells the boyfriend, they have a huge fight and she leaves to find Jonah who she thinks can comfort her. Along the path, she’s attacked by a stranger and her life is never the same again. Amalia makes a few choices which will later have disastrous consequences.
    • 2018 – Amalia, going by Molly and living in NYC, sends her daughter, Brianna, away to college. Just like her mother, Brianna begins dating one of her professors, probably looking for a father figure, as she’s never met her real father. Brianna has always accepted her mother’s story that her father was a military man with whom Molly had a one-night stand and later found herself pregnant with no way to find him. When Brianna uncovers her mother’s old journal, she learns the shocking secret that her mother never knew who the father was because it could have been more than one man. As Brianna searches for clues to find her father, she stumbles upon a few facts which could completely change the future. But when the stranger who attacked her mother re-surfaces, not even Molly knows if she can protect her daughter anymore.

 

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.

My Novel: Watching a Glass Shatter

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It’s been a few months since I mentioned anything about my first novel, Watching a Glass Shatter, which prompted me to assemble this post as a way to share its current status. As you already know about the second book, Father Figure, I wanted to reveal a little more about the first.

Watching a Glass Shatter is the story of a ~65ish widow, Olivia Glass, who receives shocking news after the unexpected death of her husband, Ben. In a letter Ben left behind as part of his will, he confesses a secret about one of their five adult sons, but fails to specifically mention which one. Wretched with anger and fear, Olivia asks the attorney to investigate Rowena Hector, the mysterious woman whom Ben names in his last communication. While the attorney searches, Olivia embarks on a journey with each son to share one final moment and connection before the secret Ben kept must be revealed, ultimately changing the face of their family’s future.

Olivia has neglected her family over the years, losing touch as each son became a man and built his own life and family. She grew too focused on her place in society and her own needs that she failed to realize how to be a good mother. When she visits with her sons, Olivia learns they’ve been keeping secrets from her, too. The journey becomes not only about accepting the decision Ben made without her years ago, but to help prevent each of her sons from destroying their own lives with the secrets they’ve kept.

Theodore, the eldest, should be taking over the family law firm, yet his focus is anywhere but on the family business. When his wife intervenes, everything could change.

Matthew’s always been the dependable son, but his struggle is one that could have long-lasting impacts on the family if Olivia can’t help him learn how to survive.

Caleb chose to abandon his family a decade earlier, unable or unwilling to share his life with those whom he once held a strong bond. Will he even return at this point?

Zachary’s given his parents the most grief over the years. Olivia berates him over how he cares for his young daughter, unaware he might be strongest of them all.

Ethan is the youngest, finishing up the final steps to becoming a doctor and falling in love for the first time. But is the pressure getting too intense for him after the loss of his father?

The novel is about the relationships between brothers, husbands and wives, parents and children. The Glass family were once a strong brood, but blood can’t always keep you together when people’s fears and desires takeover. The story is told from the viewpoint of Olivia and each of the five sons, sharing the perspective and points of view from all angles. As the secrets slowly unfold, the Glass family begins to shatter. Olivia knows it needs to be her to break down the barriers and re-assemble what was once a powerful family. But time is running out in more ways than she knows. When she meets Rowena, the final pieces of the puzzle come together, placing the decision to reveal Ben’s secret in her hands, and her hands alone. Has she learned the lesson or will she make the same mistakes again? It’s her no-nonsense sister, Diane, who helps Olivia determine the path; however, the path is one neither of them could have predicted.

____________________________________________________________________________________

My passion for this story is infinite. I lived and breathed the Glass family from September through December in 2016. It’s been through a few editing and beta reading stages in early 2017, and out with agents and publishers the last few months. I’m close to making a decision with a plan to publish the novel before the end of 2017.

If the story interests you, please check out the first three (3) chapters I’ve posted on the novel’s website:  https://theglassfamily.wordpress.com/watching-a-glass-shatter/

And tell me what you think! I’d love to hear from everyone. Thanks for reading.

 

-jay

 

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.

My Novel: Father Figure (Week 5 – Friday, August 4th, 2017)

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Shock accompanied my mouth as it dropped to the floor today when realizing it was Friday and another week had passed since our last Father Figure update. Are we seriously finishing the fifth week since I began writing this new novel? It must be true or I wouldn’t be writing up this post, so here we go with the weekly status:

writer

Status:  Friday, August 5, 2017 – Week #5

  • Research
    • I unfortunately avoided this again because I was heavily involved in editing and writing. It’s being pushed out another week. No real impact to the overall schedule.
  • Chapters 1 thru 3
    • I edited these chapters, cleaning up grammatical issues, passive voice, repetitions and missing dialogue tags.
    • It reads well, but I am not ready to share with with any beta readers at this point. I believe some of it might move to a later chapter and/or be pulled as background simply for me to know while writing future content.
    • Contains 23K words on 70 pages (way too long)
  • Chapters 4 thru 6
    • I wrote all 3 chapters this week, as per the plan and the outline.
    • I edited all three chapters on Friday afternoon similarly to the first few chapters, as noted above. They are in decent condition, but I’m not thoroughly happy with where they ended up. It needs a few days to idle before I re-read them and decide on the appropriate alterations.
    • Contains 13K words on 45 pages (about right)

 

 Next Steps: Plan for Week #6

  • Complete the research for setting locations and character personalities to incorporate very specific facts into the detailed descriptions and scenes
  • Write chapters 7 thru 9 with a target to end up in total at ~ 135 pages & 36K words
    • At this point, I’ll be 1/3 complete with a first draft
    • At that rate, with 7 more weeks to finish the remaining 2/3, a first draft will be ready by early October. I’m thinking I might have to pull this forward as I leave mid-September for a two-week vacation. I’d like a full draft completed beforehand, which means I need to start writing 4 chapters per week.
  • Edit Chapter 4 thru 6 to match tone and voice of earlier chapters

 

What’s on the author’s mind?

  • Who will beta read the first 3 chapters in late August? I’m searching for 4 people, as I have someone who beta read the first book and is formidable when calling me out for less than stellar writing.
  • Chapters 1 thru 3 are too long for the story I am telling. It’s important to capture readers’ attention by getting to the conflict and drama by ~ 15% into the book. My outline planned for that to happen in Chapter 5 and 6, which I’ve just completed; however, at this rate, the book would be 25% longer than planned due to my extra-wordiness. I’ve got a few options to mull over, but I think it will require a little bit of each of these items:
    • Do nothing except increase the planned total page and word count
    • Determine what needs to be cut as it was only initially included to help me flush out characters and relationships
    • Move a few small scenes and content to later chapters as I write future conflicts
  • I love these characters more than I had last week. Amalia has so much more depth than I had originally felt inspired to create within her. I Brianna has a wicked charm and sass about her, but I think it will resonate with those who enjoy the tone in my 365 posts.
  • I’m still a child, as whenever I reread the intimate scenes, I giggle. I can’t help it when I say certain words that don’t ordinarily come up in conversation. I might not make it through this exercise if I have to talk about cleavage anymore…

Not that I am the smartest, but the clip was too funny!

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Summary of Father Figure (only need to read if you’re new to it)

  • One young girl’s need to escape the mundane life she’s grown up in and another young girl’s quest to find her father, unaware of all the circumstances they’ve both been placed in due to decisions and actions occurring nearly 20 years ago and that both women have made in the present. How well do you really know your parents? Do they truly understand you? Can you ever truly escape the past?
  • A contemporary fiction novel set in two time periods with two primary characters:
    • 1998 – Amalia Graeme, about to turn 18, attends college, leaving behind a mother with whom she had a difficult relationship. While Amalia has a boyfriend, she’s secretly attracted to an older professor, Dr. Jonah West. She begins an affair with him and realizes she must come clean to her boyfriend. After she tells the boyfriend, they have a huge fight and she leaves to find Jonah who she thinks can comfort her. Along the path, she’s attacked by a stranger and her life is never the same again. Amalia makes a few choices which will later have disastrous consequences.
    • 2018 – Amalia, going by Molly and living in NYC, sends her daughter, Brianna, away to college. Just like her mother, Brianna begins dating one of her professors, probably looking for a father figure, as she’s never met her real father. Brianna has always accepted her mother’s story that her father was a military man with whom Molly had a one-night stand and later found herself pregnant with no way to find him. When Brianna uncovers her mother’s old journal, she learns the shocking secret that her mother never knew who the father was because it could have been more than one man. As Brianna searches for clues to find her father, she stumbles upon a few facts which could completely change the future. But when the stranger who attacked her mother re-surfaces, not even Molly knows if she can protect her daughter anymore.

 

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.

My Novel: Father Figure (Week 4 – Friday, July 28th, 2017)

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Last time we chatted, I’d just finished week #3’s update for Father Figure, the new novel I began writing earlier this month. For a summary of the novel, scroll to the bottom of the post. We have now arrived at the end of week #4 – and I cannot believe almost an entire month has occurred since I began this book; status follows below:

writer

Status:  Friday, July 28, 2017 – Week #4

  • Research Noted Last Week
    • Epic Fail! But that’s OK. I researched a few facts to keep myself pacing properly in the first few chapters, but I put off the remainder until next week because…
  • Writing Chapters 1 thru 3
    • Actually happened… well, 1 thru 2.75. I’m debating the end of the chapter.
    • 17K words, 53 pages
    • It’s too long, there’s a bit of fluff, and some will probably move to another chapter. But I expected 3500 words on average per chapter, which means I should have ended up at roughly 10K words this week. I’m 7k words ahead, which makes up for missing the research portions.

 

 

Next Steps: Plan for Week #5

  • Complete the research for the setting locations and character personalities to incorporate very specific facts into the detailed descriptions and scenes
  • Write chapters 4 thru 6 with a target to end up at about 85 pages and 25K words.
  • Edit Chapter 1 thru 3 to determine what stays, what goes and what moves to another chapter

 

 

What’s on the author’s mind?

  • In the last book, and a few other short stories, I included a few brief romantic scenes. Nothing too extensive, as it was mostly just closing out a chapter or an arc, referencing how someone met, etc. In this book, both the main characters have multiple love interests and there’s a critical story arc about the different men with whom the mother had a relationship and whom could be the girl’s father. I have to create very different seductive, romantic and passionate scenes and connections within each distinct relationship. That’s a challenge for me, as I haven’t done a lot of that type of writing previously.
    • I wrote two of them so far, one brief and one extensive. I have some editing to do, but I think I need to share those with a few people to see if hit the right balance between hot-n-bothered and falling-in-love; or not getting to R-rated!
    • I got all squirmy re-reading it, thinking to myself… “oh man, I’m like a voyeur right now in a dark room giggling at those two…”

  • I’m debating how ‘bad’ to make a certain character. (S)he is definitely not likable, but I’m experimenting with a range of “readers will want to kill her” versus “she’ll cause a few expletives from time to time, but otherwise, she’s typical for her role.” I can’t say much as I don’t want to reveal the story, but there’s something to be said for both angles… more thought needed here. For now, (s)he’s as bad as can be.
  • Who will beta read the first 3 chapters in late August? I’m searching for 4 people, as I have someone who beta read the first book and is formidable when calling me out for less than stellar writing.

 

 

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Summary of Father Figure (if you’re new to it)

  • One young girl’s need to escape the mundane life she’s grown up in and another young girl’s quest to find her father, unaware of all the circumstances they’ve both been placed in due to decisions and actions occurring nearly 20 years ago and that both women have made in the present. How well do you really know your parents? Do they truly understand you? Can you ever truly escape the past?
  • A contemporary fiction novel set in two time periods with two primary characters:
    • 1998 – Amalia Graeme, about to turn 18, attends college, leaving behind a mother with whom she had a difficult relationship. While Amalia has a boyfriend, she’s secretly attracted to an older professor, Dr. Jonah West. She begins an affair with him and realizes she must come clean to her boyfriend. After she tells the boyfriend, they have a huge fight and she leaves to find Jonah who she thinks can comfort her. Along the path, she’s attacked by a stranger and her life is never the same again. Amalia makes a few choices which will later have disastrous consequences.
    • 2018 – Amalia, going by Molly and living in NYC, sends her daughter, Brianna, away to college. Just like her mother, Brianna begins dating one of her professors, probably looking for a father figure, as she’s never met her real father. Brianna has always accepted her mother’s story that her father was a military man with whom Molly had a one-night stand and later found herself pregnant with no way to find him. When Brianna uncovers her mother’s old journal, she learns the shocking secret that her mother never knew who the father was because it could have been more than one man. As Brianna searches for clues to find her father, she stumbles upon a few facts which could completely change the future. But when the stranger who attacked her mother re-surfaces, not even Molly knows if she can protect her daughter anymore.

 

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.

Book Review: Lies She Told by Cate Holahan

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3+ out of 5 stars to Lies She Told, a thriller set to be released on September 12th by Cate Holahan. I enjoyed reading the book and look forward to sharing this review with you.

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Why This Book 
Many thanks to Crooked Lane Books, the publisher, for sending me this copy to read and review in advance as an ARC. They found me on Goodreads based on my reading tastes, reviews and ratings, suggesting this as a potential book I might find engaging. And they were right. I had it sitting on the shelf for a few weeks as I got through other books, but as all my NetGalley reads aren’t due until September, I had some time to squeeze this one in.

Plot, Characters & Setting 
Welcome to the concept of a book within a book… The primary story revolves around Liza Cole, an author living in the NYC metro area who’s had some good books and some not so good books. She’s been given a deadline to get the next one written since she won’t first draft an outline, which prompts her to dive head first into her own thrilling plot. While she’s writing the book, readers learn Liza’s trying to conceive a baby with her husband, David, but they’ve been unsuccessful due to a few issues she’s had in the past with uterine damage. David’s best friend, Nick, is presumed missing, which is setting off a few alarm bells. David starts worrying when they can’t find Nick and he’s being suspected of causing the disappearance. Eventually, his body is found in the East River, dying in a very similar way to the character in Liza’s book. Liza’s supported by her mother, agent Trevor and best friend, Chris.

In Liza’s story, her primary character, Beth, is a new stay-at-home mom who suspects her husband, Jake, is cheating on her. When she secretly monitors his behavior, Beth learns he has been spending a lot of time with a cop named Colleen. When she accuses her husband, he forces her to go to therapy, where Beth meets Tyler, a therapist who attempts to get her to realize she needs to end the marriage. Unfortunately, Beth isn’t ready and soon finds herself stalking Colleen. Next thing she knows, she’s killing Colleen and dumping her body in the East River, then sleeping with Tyler.

As the two stories begin weaving in and out, readers learn there are common things occurring in both, leaving us to question which one is real and which one is a story. Or perhaps… it’s all the same story happening from different perspectives. You don’t really know until the last few chapters when the random clues begin fitting together, revealing what has actually been happening along the path.

Approach & Style 
I read the paperback version sent to me by the publisher. It’s just under 300 pages, broken into three sections and alternating back and forth between the two story lines. There are 19 chapters, each dividing into two sub-chapters: (1) Liza and (2) Beth. As a result, chapters are relatively short, usually under 8 pages each. Both stories are told with first-person narration from the main female character’s point of view, and both are told in the present tense. I read the book over 3 days, about 100 pages each day.

Strengths 
The concept of the book is great. I love trying to solve not only the mystery within the novel, but also determining how the two stories would eventually link together and which was fake. I enjoy seeing parallels between the two lead characters and their families. The emotional aspects of the characters are strong and offer readers an easy connection. You can understand the pain and feel the impact of the actions happening around them. It’s full of suspense, some very descriptive scenes and lots of potential suspects and angles.

Concerns 
It was a hard read, and I’m normally good at keeping story lines separated. A few things that could have worked differently, which would have helped readers retain which characters belong in which section, as well as distinct from one another. Character names were too similar: Beth and Liza. I know this is supposed to help with the parallels, but it left you a tad confused at times. Jake and David. Sound a bit similar. Go with two very different options to help us keep it straighter. Something long, something short. I had to stop and start a lot. I don’t like to re-read the same thing over and over again. But I was OK here as it was a complex story, plotted out in a good way.

The ending came a bit from out of left field. You can guess the connection between reality and the made-up story, but why it happened was very unexpected. There were a few clues, but we needed more to not be fully surprised. I would have liked to be reading it and go “oh, now I understand how it ties all together.” Instead I went “Hmm… there were no clues of this before…” It wasn’t too much of a distraction, but it was enough to make me think the book needed another round of editing before its release. Add in a few more connected pieces of history. Make me impressed with the things I missed along the way.

Author & Other Similar Books 
The author has two other books prior to this one. I might give them a chance, depending on the plot and setting. I’ve read another book in the last few years like this one, but I can’t recall the title. It’s not a common story where there is 1 real story and 1 fake story an author is writing, which makes it a different type of read. You’re sure to be excited and thrilled at parts, but you will also be confused at some parts.

Questions & Final Thoughts 
The author can certainly write. She has a good eye for characters, setting and details. I’m glad the publisher sent this one to me, as I definitely found myself wanting to read it each night. But it was also one where I stopped a lot to check if the story had an error or if it was being written in a vague way on purpose. Overall, good book… lots of complexity in the details… good supporting characters and a treasure of relationship drama that you find quite engaging. Put it through another round of beta readers or editing and it would have been an easy 4 from me.

About Me 
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write 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 also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can 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. 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.