Living Life and Writing Fiction
The Summer We Came to Life is set in Honduras, where I lived for six months in 2006. It depicts best friends dealing with the death of a fourth, as their parents share tales of love and loss, before the story takes a supernatural, quantum metaphysical twist. The book is definitely fiction, but was inspired by my travels, and by friends and family in real life.
The seed for the novel came from a discussion with my best friend in Honduras – the meeting of Baby Boomer parents and their adult daughters. Then I barely survived two near death drowning experiences, white-water rafting in Honduras and on vacation in El Salvador, and I had my motivation – exploring the deeper mysteries about love and loss and mourning.
Then, add to these factors the crazy thing that happens to writers as we go about our day. I collect little pieces, like a shag carpet collects crumbs – something hilarious a friend said, something hurtful I can’t make sense of, a conversation I overhear at a restaurant. The pieces glom onto a central story idea I can’t escape. In the case of The Summer We Came to Life, it was a combination of my own brush with death and the ever-presence of my childhood best friend as I approached thirty and had all these big life decisions to make.
I believe writing is unavoidably tied to our stage in life. In my twenties, I wrote wild stories about the single life (that I thank my lucky stars will never see the light of day!), this book was very much about the modern woman turning thirty, and I’m sure the books I write in my forties will be about very different central themes.
Isn’t writing fiction one of the most fascinating psychological processes of the human mind? It encompasses worldview, cultural bias, echoes and obsessions of memories, rites of passage, inspiration of the Muse, the zeitgeist, and collective unconscious. And still it is a manifestation of a completely unique creation by the imagination of a single human being on earth.
How’s that for a job description?!
So, this summer, please check out The Summer We Came to Life and journey through my memories and my ‘what-ifs’ with me to four countries through two generations, and even parallel universes.
Big thank you to Deborah for stopping by and please visit her website for more details!
Wherever Grace is Needed by Elizabeth Bass isn’t a chick lit novel, but this story definitely won me over and deserves a five star review. The story centers around two very different families, neighbors living in Austin, Texas. Grace Oliver leaves behind her house, boyfriend, and business in Portland for a few weeks to help her father recuperate from a car accident. Grace loved her life in Texas, her father and her older half-brothers, but moved to Portland with her mother after the divorce. Feeling unsettled with her life, she jumps at the chance to go back to Austin. But while there, doctors discover that Lou, Grace’s father and usually a sharp as a tack retired college professor, is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. The family is devastated by the news, and the diagnosis opens up a lot more questions on caring for Lou, his house, and his possessions.
The family next door to the Oliver’s are suffering from their own tragedy. Ray West and his three young children are trying to cope with the loss of a mother and young daughter. While Ray moves around like a zombie, not sure how to get past grieving for his dead wife, his children suffer from being left on there own. Especially Jordan, who feels guilty for the accident that left her mother and twin sister dead. Grace realizes that the family needs help, and the children need their father back. She becomes a support system for the children, and eventually Ray as well, and tries to help the healing process after such a loss.
I thought Wherever Grace is Needed was an incredibly touching story. Even though most of the book is filled with sad topics, I thought it was more uplifting and inspirational than making me want to cry throughout. Grace’s character is one who wants to help everyone, but at the same time she is trying to bury her own problems beneath the surface. That made her very real while reading the story, and all the supporting characters were phenomenal. Even though there were quite a few, Grace’s family, the West family, the other neighbors in Austin, etc., I never felt overwhelmed by all the lives I was keeping track of, which can happen with large casts. The writing flowed smoothly along, pushing me deeper into their lives instead of making me pull away in frustration. There are great lessons about family, loss, friendships, and love, and I wish I could find more words to praise this beautiful story. Five stars from me and advice to put this on your to-read list.
Marika Christian is going on tour June 27-July 10 with her novel Phone Kitten
Shy, slightly overweight Emily would die if she had to talk dirty face-to-face—especially to her hot cop boy friend. She sure didn’t set out to do phone sex—she wanted to be a writer. But when her BFF framed her for plagiarism, she got in a tiny financial hole and saw this ad for “phone actresses”… Hey, it’s not nearly as bad as it sounds. No pantyhose or pantsuits, no regular hours, you’re your own boss, and lots of people to talk to. Guys, that is. But here’s the odd thing—lots of them want to talk about more than Emily’s imagined attributes; they start to think of her as the best friend they’ll never have to meet. Next thing you know, one of her customers gets killed and Emily knows a lot more about it than she should. But she can’t tell the nearest cop, who’s also her own true love, because then he’ll find out about her secret life. What’s a phone kitten to do? Solve the murder herself, of course—because wouldn’t it be a great story for the newspaper that wrongly fired her? It’s her ticket back to her real life—if it doesn’t get her killed.
PHONE KITTEN is your ticket to hours of giggles—so long as you’re not looking for raunch. Because this is so not it. Somehow, first-time author Christian manages to handle a potentially smokin’ subject with such sly wit, authentic detail, and clever writing that you’ll wonder why this subject was ever considered taboo.
Be sure to visit CLP Blog Tours to see the full calendar of tour stops!
In My Mailbox: Week of May 30
Title: The Kitchen Shrink
Received: From Dee DeTarsio
Synopsis: When did Lisby Shaw’s life turn into a country music song? Probably when her best friend signed her up for the debut of the new reality TV show, The Kitchen Shrink, for the ultimate life and home makeover! Unable to squirm out of this “it will be fun” opportunity, Lisby tries to juggle her upstairs-behind-the-scenes-life with her downstairs-in-front-of-the-camera persona, where everything she says and does can and will be used against her.
Hopefully, the show doesn’t find out about her fling with that hunky carpenter. Or that she and her friend smoked hootch she found in her daughter’s room. Lisby cannot believe what a freak show her life has become. At least no one knows about her crush on Sam, Sam, the Cameraman…
Lisby tries to find her way as the TV cameras capture her every move, zooming in on drama with her kids, her ex, her mom and her best friend. Stay tuned for Lisby’s extreme close-up as she becomes a jilted laughingstock on national TV. All is lost…or is it?
Author: Cathy Lamb
Received: From Kensington Books
Synopsis: Madeline O’Shea tells people what to do with their lives. A renowned life coach, she inspires thousands of women through her thriving practice – exuding enviable confidence along with her stylish suits and sleek hair. But her confidence, just like her fashionable demeanour, is all a front. For decades, Madeline has lived in fear of her traumatic past becoming public. Now a reporter is reinvestigating the notorious crime that put Madeline’s mother behind bars, threatening to destroy her elaborate facade. Only Madeline’s sister, Annie, and their frail grandparents know about her childhood – but lately Madeline has reason to wonder if her grandparents also have a history they’ve been keeping from her. As the demons of the past swirl around her, a tough, handsome judge with a gentle heart is urging Madeline to have faith in him – and in herself. And as she allows her resistance to thaw, the pain she expects pales in comparison to the surprises headed straight to her door. With one bold, unprecedented move, Madeline O’Shea may just wake up out of the sadness and guilt that have kept her sleepwalking through life for so long – and discover that the worst thing that can happen is sometimes the very thing we desperately need.
Author: Lori Foster
Received: From Tricia Carr @ Media Muscle
Synopsis: Undercover mercenary Trace Rivers loves the adrenaline rush of a well-planned mission. First he’ll earn the trust of corrupt businessman Murray Coburn, then gather the proof he needs to shut down the man’s dirty smuggling operation. It’s a perfect scheme—until Coburn’s long-lost daughter saunters in with her own deadly plan for revenge.
With a smile like an angel and fire in her eyes, Priscilla Patterson isn’t who she seems to be. But neither is the gorgeous bodyguard who ignites all her senses. Joining forces to plot Coburn’s downfall, Priss and Trace must fight the undeniable heat between them. For one wrong move, one lingering embrace, will expose them to the wrath of a merciless opponent….
Eve Carpenter has a tarnished reputation in the public eye, a mother that ran off with all her money, debts to the tax man the she could never pay, and is working a dead end job. She didn’t think things could get much worse- until she falls through a hole that leads her into a parallel universe- where England is definitely not the England she knows. Practically no landline telephones- forget cell phones. No one knows what a computer is. Princess Diana is still alive. Eve doesn’t know what happened to her, but she needs to figure out a story, and quick. People think Eve is a spy, and they aren’t afraid to get rid of her- by killing her. She finds out that there is a civil war taking place, and she has luckily fallen in with the good guys- including Major Harker. Harker is dealing with his own set of baggage- including a divorce- and doesn’t take to Eve right away. But when a mission involving a mysterious technological gadget- a computer- is called for, Eve must go along for the ride. From there, Harker and Eve develop an awkward type of romance, since these two people are from very different worlds. But is Eve destined to stay in her new world? Or go back to her real life and leave Harker forever?
The UnTied Kingdom by Kate Johnson is a very unique and complex story. The synopsis was hard to decipher, and even harder to write one of my own for the above paragraph. If it confuses you, I say still go for it. I’m glad I did. I was first confused when reading the story, because I thought Eve actually went back in time. She was comparing the hospital and all the scenes to a war zone, so I figured she had stumbled back in the past, but that is not correct. This is where the title comes into play- it is the “untied kingdom” instead of the United Kingdom, nice play on words there. Though the year is still the same as the one Eve came from, she landed in a world that was without the British Empire, only had one World War, and more events that left England in a very different state that what we know now. It was thrilling to think about what the world would be like if certain events in the past never happened, or if the outcomes were different. Johnson clearly has a wild imagination, and to be able to capture such an interesting take on what the world could have been takes talent. Besides the plot being highly engaging and quite thrilling, the characters are also gems in their own ways. Besides Eve and Harker, readers will meet more soldiers in depth when the group goes on their mission, and each will shine. I had a lot of fun reading this novel, but I will warn you to read carefully. If you skip over a paragraph, you could become confused. There is a lot going on, a lot of characters, and an intricate plot. I would have given this book five stars, but the ending was a little disappointing. I won’t give any spoilers, but I just didn’t feel the ending was very believable- it seemed just a bit too easy for the situation that was happening. I know the whole book has a time traveler/unbelievable feel to it, but to wrap everything up so neatly and quickly was a little bit of a downfall for me. Other than that, great book and a definite recommendation.
Bio: Heidi was born and bred and still lives in London, England with her two sons, who love to bicker, her husband who, luckily for everyone, has the patient of Job and a hamster that looks suspiciously like a rat.
As much as Heidi adores The Big Smoke she also loves America and every two years she and her best friend leave hubby and kids (and rat) behind and Thelma and Louise it across the States (although they always leave out the driving off a cliff bit). She’s been a film buff since her early teens and a romance junkie almost as long. She indulged her first love by being a film reviewer for the last ten years. Then a few years ago she decided to spice up her life by writing romance.
It was a wild and wonderful ride to her first Harlequin/Mills and Boon novel and she’s still going strong, becoming a RITA finalist in 2008 with her second novel The Mile High Club and topping the Waldenbooks Series Romance Bestseller list twice in a row in February 2009 with her fourth book Pleasure, Pregnancy and a Proposition. She became a USA Today best-selling author with her sixth book Public Affair, Secretly Expecting in 2010, and is still basking in the glow of that one!
Titles: Bedded By a Bad Boy, The Mile High Club, They Tycoon’s Very Personal Assistant, Pleasure Pregnancy and a Proposition, Hot Shot Tycoon Indecent Proposal, Public Affair Secretly Expecting, Unfinished Business with the Duke, Surf Sea and a Sexy Stranger, Cupcakes and Killer Heels
See my review of Surf Sea and a Sexy Stranger
Bio Retrieved from Heidi-rice.com
Kim K finally landed her man. After years of wanting to be married (for a second time) Kim Kardashian said yes to New Jersey Nets forward Kris Humphries, her boyfriend of six months. Kardashian, 30, let People Magazine in on her exciting news, telling them Humphries proposed to her at home in her bedroom, and had rose petals spelling out the words,” WILL YOU MARRY ME?” Kardashian’s mom/manager, Kris Jenner, was in on the surprise, and helped plan an intimate family celebration for later that evening. Kardashian told People, “I didn’t expect this at all. I was in such shock. I never thought it would happen at home, and I never thought now.”
Oh, were you wondering about the ring? Kim seems to be giving little sister Khloe a run for her money. While Khloe’s sparkler from husband (also a NBA player) Lamar Odom, weighs in at 12.5 carats, Kim beats that with, ready for it, a 20.5 carat custom designed Lorraine Schwartz engagement ring. How big will Kourtney’s ring be if she ever gets engaged? I’m not sure I want to know.
Photo Credit: Todd Williamson/WireImage.com
Mona Warren is 31, has a great job and lots of money, but no family and no husband. She is tired of who she has become, someone just fading into the light, going from her day to day activities with no enthusiasm and no spark. She needs to change. She needs to be reinvented. She decides she needs a makeover, and that is easy enough. She exercises, whitens her teeth, straightens her hair and buys a new wardrobe. But she needs more. She needs…a man. Specifically, Adam Ziegler, her accountant and dream man. But since her last real boyfriend had been when she was in her teens and died tragically, she needs help. So she hires male chauvinist/magazine writer Mike “The Dog” Dougherty to help her become irresistible to Adam. His outrageous and female degrading ways actually seem to be working…but somehow, Mona stars to develop feeling for Mike! How could this level headed woman fall for such a man?
Reinventing Mona is the second novel I read from Jennifer Coburn. The first book I read, Tales From the Crib, had me looking forward to another go-around with this comedic author. Unfortunately for me though, I didn’t think this one lived up to what I imagined it would be. Something was just off all the way through. Mona was a nice enough character, but she was someone who supposedly didn’t have a life and didn’t have any idea on how to dress nice or have a real care about her appearance. But pretty quickly, she was dropping designer names and it just didn’t feel real to me. And the background she has was a little strange. Mona lived in commune for the first part of her life, with hippie parents and a terrible tragedy that took away her family. Interesting…but I really didn’t feel that it meshed with the other half of the story- trying to get a man. I think those aspects, combined with a really flat Adam character and way too over-the-top chauvinist turned good boy Mike, just didn’t interest me. The comedic chops that I felt were so on point in Tales weren’t happening in this book either. I think maybe Coburn was trying to fit too many points into one story, and they just didn’t flow well together. I will still keep reading from this author, just because I loved Tales so darn much. I thought the writing was still good in this book, just not the comedy so much, and overall I could recommend Reinventing Mona because the main character was likeable and nice lesson is learned in the end. And there are cute moments along the way, and I didn’t get bored while reading. It just sometimes was a little too unbelievable. While I will say this isn’t her best work, Jennifer Coburn is still an obviously talented writer, and I will read The Queen Gene, which picks up where Tales left off.
Elsie Love is going on tour July 25-August 8 with her novel Confessions of a PTA Mafia Mom
Elaine Jackerson is in quite a predicament.
Her husband, Bob “The Bulldog”, is sleeping with his secretary, her daughter Lexi is experimenting in the backseat with random boys, and copper top eight year old Charlie wants nothing to do with her.
Enter the Herschel Grammar School PTA. They are women and they are not messing around.
Elaine reluctantly joins the PTA when she slips into the gymnasium for coffee on the first day of school. As soon the ink is dry on the sign up sheet, Elaine is thrust into a world that she never knew existed. A world where the PTA gets things done with blackmail, bribes, threats and quite possibly guns. A world that hummed right under her nose, taking over the town one woman at a time.
Please visit CLP Blog Tours for the full calendar of blog stops!
Here, Home, Hope by Kaira Rouda is a five star worthy read! I was in love with this novel, from the first page and the hilarious dentist office scene, to the last page where I felt I was left with life lessons, and all the scenes in between. The story centers around Kelly Mills Johnson, a suburban wife who has become bored as her fortieth birthday nears. Her husband, a successful and supportive attorney, has a thriving career and love for golf, and her two young sons are active and away at camp for the summer. This leaves Kelly drumming her fingers, trying to figure out how to overcome her midlife crisis. Her two best friends appear perfect to an outsider- wealthy husbands, interesting careers, and Kelly decides to try to be more like them. She decides to act on her passion for decorating, but before she can even get started, life intervenes with the appearance of her friend’s anorexic daughter. And an affair that shakes the neighborhood. And a friendship that is on the rocks. Kelly tries to tackle many subjects- her start up business, her family, her friends and their problems, and by doing so, realizes what the important things in life are.
I absolutely adored Here, Home, Hope. What I found interesting is that I completely connected with Kelly, even though I am nothing like her being in my twenties, not married and have no children. But I think that shows the strength of a great writer and character that they create- anyone can relate to them, no matter how far off they are from your real life. And I loved that Kelly’s husband was one of the good guys. I will admit that I was almost waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting for him to be having an affair because that is often how the story goes these days, but he was faithful and supportive through it all. The Things to Change List that Kelly makes along the way was also really inspiring. I thought of a few changes that I could make myself, and I think readers will take a lot away from that. But what really got me with this novel is how empowering it was to read as a women. Kaira Rouda says on her website that she has a particular interest in empowering women and children, it showed through her writing. I closed her first novel feeling like I could do anything, and that is special. Here, Home, Hope is only the first in a series that center around Grandville, the fictional town where Kelly Mills Johnson and friends reside, and I know the others will all be must reads for me.