This story had me baffled from the first few pages. The story starts where main character Nicole is getting ready for a Valentine’s party and a romantic evening with her boyfriend. He will finally meet her best friends, I’m thinking he might propose––until I find out he is merely Nicole’s sex-buddy of two weeks. Um, what? And that’s when I knew I was going to be in for a ride––a very unpleasant ride. This book desperately needed an editor, there were scenes that were crammed in for reasons I couldn’t figure out, the characters were immature (think peeing on sidewalks) and Nicole just came off as a big slut. I think Becky Due was trying to show an insecure woman, but I didn’t make the connection. The writing was crass (too many bathroom trips and bodily functions for me to handle) and I was basically bewildered throughout the book. And slightly horrified. I did some research on Due and her website says her books are “inspiring novels” for women, and that she is “the new voice of women’s fiction.” I’m a little scared. The reviews and ratings are scattered from a 1-5, but this truly is not a book or genre for me. Though I’m not exactly what genre it should fall under. I can’t recommend The Dumpster in good faith. It left me depressed, and I think it portrayed women badly. The main character wants a man so badly (hello, do we need a man to complete us?) that she would jump in bed with anyone. I’m not sure how that is supposed to be inspiring or leave me with confidence. I actually felt a little dirty reading the book. I will not be trying any further novels from Becky Due.
Becoming a Writer
I wrote, but I wasn’t serious about writing until the summer of 1995 when I sold my car, quit my job, and jumped on a greyhound bus with no idea where I was going. My life was a mess and I needed to find myself. I got off the bus to discover new places like Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC, before I ended up in Moorhead City near Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. There I rented a small house (I think it may have been haunted), bought a typewriter and started writing my story, which became my first novel, The Gentlemen’s Club: A Story for All Women.
“No matter where you go, there you are,” kept ringing in my mind. I had heard the saying years earlier but it didn’t make sense until I was alone, sitting in that house, looking for the answers that were hidden deeply inside of me. While writing my book I got honest with myself, and wanted to face my problems the way Angie, my main character, was facing hers. I had to stop running, get strong and stand up for my life. So with the first draft of the manuscript in my hands, I got back on the bus and headed back to Minnesota.
Once back in Rochester, Minnesota, I returned to my old job at Dison’s Drycleaners. I rented a hotel room; I had to pay rent by the week and had to share the shower with others, but at least I had my own toilet and sink. I liked it. The place was perfect for a writer—old, rundown, lots of character and lots of characters living there; I was one of them. With my feet planted firmly on the ground, I focused on work and my writing.
My writing was giving me purpose and a deeper understanding about life. Feeling confident that I wouldn’t run from my life anymore, and being tired of paying for phone calls and eating out for most of my meals, I decided it was time to find a place to live and sign a year’s lease like normal people. I rented an apartment in an old building—another great writing place. I lived above a variety of always failing businesses—furniture store, hobby shop, record store—and the people in the store below controlled the thermostat for my apartment. When the store was empty, I had no heat. So during the winter, I’d pull a folding chair in front of the open oven door, sit down and write for hours.
Around that time, my mother was cleaning closets in her house and wanted to get rid of a lot of old school art projects, report cards and other keepsakes from my younger years. She packaged it all up and mailed it to me. As I sifted through the box, throwing most of it away, I came across an old test comparing students in the same class throughout the state. As I looked down the column of my x’s, it was clear I was average in everything. But I noticed one x that was further to the right, meaning above average. I curiously followed the x to see what it represented—written expression. I started crying and knew this was a sign that I was on the right path.
Never having had a father, I was taken in by a man who owned a small publishing company. Ray offered to help me but refused to publish my books, claiming I needed a bigger publisher. I took the bus or walked to his place almost every day after work all year long. I didn’t have a car, a warm coat or winter boots, but I’d trudge my way through the Minnesota seasons to his place to use his computer and to get his guidance. Ray disciplined me, motivated me, inspired me and encouraged me to be great, just the way I envisioned a real father would.
At night I’d leave his place and walk two blocks to catch the bus back to my cold apartment. If I was early, I’d step inside the gas station and grab a vanilla coffee from the machine before getting on the bus. Then high on caffeine, I’d write into the early morning hours.
I was writing constantly but publishing nothing, so Ray helped me send out about fifty query letters. Eight agents were interested in The Gentlemen’s Club until they read the manuscript. I was told that the story was good, but the manuscript needed some work. I couldn’t afford a professional editor, so my written books were put on hold and I continued writing.
In spite of this, my many rejection letters gave me a sense of accomplishment—at least I had tried. Every small step I took in my writing career was a step in the right direction, and one step closer to achieving my goals. So for two years, I lived a disciplined life of work, writing and living below my means. I went back to school and I started volunteering with Victim Services. I wanted to do better, and I wanted to be better.
When the hard work paid off and I had money in savings, I started looking for an editor and investigated independent publishing, which is basically starting your own publishing company. You put up all the money, do all the marketing, promotion, etc., and hope your book sells. The idea was exciting: Instead of going back through the long route of looking for an agent to look for a publisher, I started Due Publications, found amazing people to help me and the rest is history. I published The Gentlemen’s Club, Blue the Bird On Flying, Touchable Love, Returning Injury, The Dumpster and I’m working on my sixth book, and all of my books have either won or been finalists in several national independent competitions. I’ve made many mistakes; I’m still making them, but I love my career.
In My Mailbox: Week of June 19, 2011
Title: The Dumpster
Received: From Becky Due
Synopsis: Nicole, a cute, chubby, twenty-something woman, is looking for love in all the wrong places. Who would have guessed that a dumpster in the back alley below her bedroom window would hold the key to finding love?
Title: Hotel No Tell
Received: From Crystal @ Book Sparks PR
Synopsis: Now working as a junior detective with the New York City Special Investigations Commission, Zephyr’s gone incognito as a concierge to find out who laundered a hundred grand off the hotel books—and why. But the discovery of a prone, flush-faced guest gasping for air in room 502 only hints at the sinister goings-on inside this funky establishment. While the rapid response of the fire department leads to a sweaty date with a smooth-talking, rock-climbing rescue worker, Zephyr finds herself even more hot and bothered by an attempted murder on her watch. Could the smart-mouthed Japanese yenta across the hall know more than she’s telling? How are cryptic phone calls from a mysterious corporation linked to the victim in 502?
Under pressure and overwhelmed, Zephyr soon finds that a concierge cover is no protection in a place where crime, like the city itself, never sleeps.
Author: Allie Larkin
Received: From Crystal @ Book Sparks PR
Synopsis: Savannah “Van” Leone has loved Peter since the day they met. The problem is, Peter has loved Van’s best friend, Janie, since the moment they met. And now they’re walking down the aisle, with Van standing nearby in a Halloween orange bridesmaid dress, her smile as hollow as a jack-o-lantern. After the wedding, Van drowns her sorrows in Kool Aid-vodka cocktails and reruns of Rin-Tin-Tin, and does what any woman in her situation would do: She buys a German Shepherd over the internet.
The pocket-sized puppy Van is expecting turns out to be a clumsy, hundred-pound beast that only responds to Slovakian. Van is at the end of her rope—until she realizes that this quirky giant may be the only living being who will always be loyal to her, no matter what. And thus begins a friendship that will alter Van’s life in ways she never imagined.
Joe leads Van to Dr. Alex Brandt, a rugged vet with floppy blond hair and winning smile. But just as things are starting to heat up, the newlyweds return from their honeymoon, forcing Van to decide just how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to have everything she ever wanted. Warm and witty, poignant and funny, Stay marks the arrival of an irresistible new voice.
Author: Elisa Lorello
Received: From a friend
Synopsis: Thirty-four-year old professor Andi Cutrone has broken up with her fiancé in Massachusetts , moved back to her native New York, and wants to be a better lover. So after meeting Devin, a handsome, charming escort, she proposes an unusual arrangement: lessons about writing in exchange for lessons about sex. When Devin accepts Andi’s proposal, he draws up a contract in which the two are forbidden to see each other socially. There’s just one problem: Andi also wants Devin.
Halfway into their arrangement, Devin and Andi break the rules of their contract and begin spending time together outside their weekly tutorials of drafting essays and dancing while stripped down. As they grow closer, Andi struggles to hide her feelings from Devin and accept herself as just another client while Devin attempts to maintain a “business as usual” attitude. Enter Sam, a New England professor with whom Andi begins a long distance relationship.
As their protective layers peel away, Andi and Devin discover each other ‘faking it’ and hiding their true selves from the world. However, once fully uncovered, both must decide how (and with whom) they will honor these truths. Will she give up her New York life for Sam? Will she hold out for Devin? Is it even possible to be in love with two men?
Faking It is a witty, sometimes hilarious, sometimes heart-wrenching story about relationships, writing, and getting real.