Monday, April 28, 2014

Mailbox Monday: Books to Think By


Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday! MM was created by Marcia, who graciously hosted it for a long, long time, before turning it into a touring event. Mailbox Monday has now returned to its permanent home where you can link to your MM post.

Four diverse nonfiction books came into my house last week:



An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of States: How Taxes, Energy, and Worker Freedom Change Everything by Arthur B. Laffer, Stephen Moore, Rex A. Sinquefield, and Travis H. Brown.  Now, cozying up with a critical and detailed analysis of state tax policy may not sound like the most exciting way to spend your evenings, but the writing is not as dry as the title and description suggest.  It actually looks really interesting.



To Win the Indian Heart: Music at Chemewa Indian School by Melissa D. Parkhurst, published by Oregon State University Press, as part of its collaborative First Peoples series.  Chemewa Indian School in western Oregon is one of the oldest, continuously operating federal boarding schools for Native American children. Parkhurst relies on archival records and oral histories of Chemewa alumni to examine the role of music in the school's teaching program and social life.



The Wax Bullet War: Chronicles of a Soldier & Artist by Sean Davis, published by Ooligan Press, the graduate student run publishing company at Portland State University.  Davis enlisted after September 11, served in Iraq, and came home to, eventually, use art and writing to deal with his demons.



The Queen of Katwe: One Girl's Triumphant Path to Becoming a Chess Champion by Tim Crothers. Phiona Mutesi is an 18-year-old Ugandan chess champion who grew up in the Katwe slum.  She was the speaker at a Chess for Success fundraiser here in Portland last week.  Her story is amazing and inspiring, as is the educational achievements of the Chess for Success organization.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Book Beginning: The Black-Eyed Blond by Benjamin Black



THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author's name.

EARLY BIRDS & SLOWPOKES: This weekly post goes up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. But feel free to add a link all week.

FACEBOOK: Rose City Reader has a Facebook page where I post about new and favorite books, book events, and other bookish tidbits, as well as link to blog posts. I'd love a "Like" on the page! You can go to the page here to Like it. I am happy to Like you back if you have a blog or professional Facebook page, so please leave a comment with a link and I will find you.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I try to follow all Book  Beginnings participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING



MY BOOK BEGINNING



It was one of those Tuesday afternoons in summer when you wonder if the earth has stopped revolving. The telephone on my desk had the air of something that knows it's being watched.

The Black-Eyed Blonde by Benjamin Black. Brilliant idea! Take Raymond Chandler's anti-hero, Philip Marlowe, and get the literary author John Banville to write a new mystery under his noir-novel pen name, Benjamin Black.  A recipe for a terrific read!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: A Farm Dies Once a Year by Arlo Crawford



My father once told me that Bert's murder was a freak event, more like getting hit by lightning than a story with a logical conclusion.  I knew he was partly right, but I also knew that Bert's ambition and personality had been part of the story too.

--A Farm Dies Once a Year: A Memoir by Arlo Crawford.

Crawford uses the annual agricultural cycle to frame his memoir about growing up on an organic farm in Pennsylvania. You've heard of "armchair travel" as a genre? How about "armchair farming"? It appeals to me!

But there is this whole murder-of-a-neighbor angle that gives the story a little edge.



Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Mailbox Monday: The Rise & Fall of Great Powers



Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday! MM was created by Marcia, who graciously hosted it for a long, long time, before turning it into a touring event. Mailbox Monday has now returned to its permanent home where you can link to your MM post.

I got one book last week, and I am very excited to read it:



The Rise & Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman.  My books club read and enjoyed his debut novel, The Imperfectionists, about an ex-patriot newspaper in Rome.  The Rise and Fall of Great Powers, like so many sophomore efforts, is getting mixed reviews, but it sounds thoroughly entertaining to me.  The heroine is a 30-something bookshop owner in Wales, and the story of her adventuresome past is told through a series of flashback-and-forths.

The Welsh setting means I can count it as my UK choice for the European Reading Challenge.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Author Interview: Scott Frey



Scott Frey is the author of The Founder's Find, the first book in a new YA "philosophical fantasy" series called Watchers of Worlds.  Scott recently took time from his writing of the second book in the series to answer questions for Rose City Reader readers.  (And please watch the trailer, below -- it is great!)


How did you come to write The Founder’s Find?

In college I studied philosophy. As I did, I realized two things: 1) some of the most epic and fantastic ideas live in the philosophical canon, and 2) philosophy is dense, challenging reading. I saw a treasure trove of great ideas unintentionally locked away in the jargon of philosophers. I believe these are ideas that should be made accessible to larger audiences (especially young people), and what better way to explore big questions than with a great adventure series?

Can you recommend any other books about philosophy for younger readers or those unfamiliar with the philosophic ideas you explore in your novel?

When you first start reading philosophy it’s a bit like being added to a really long e-mail chain. Jumping in midstream is confusing and potentially incoherent. So, it’s important to read philosophers with the question, “To whom or what is this author responding?” Reading anything in isolation is a recipe for misunderstanding.

With that in mind, I would either start in the beginning with Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates (Anaximander if you’re feeling wild), read something like The Oxford Companion to Philosophy as a survey of everything or just find something you’re especially interested in on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and then go from there. As much as I love Wikipedia when researching other topics, I don’t recommend it for a new philosopher. For your quick queries/questions go to the on-line Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy instead.

As an aside, I recommend people avoid "intro to philosophy" books. The over simplification can be confusing and lead you astray.

What did you learn from writing your book – either about the subject of the book or the writing process – that most surprised you?

I guess I was most shocked by how much I enjoyed the story making process. When I first picked up a pen, in the back of my mind I was thinking, “this is going to be laborious, tedious etc.” I was planning on gutting my way through the first book. It was only a distant hope that I would keep going. But, a few chapters in, I realized how much fun I was having, how free I felt. Pretty soon the question shifted from, “How do I keep going?” to “How do I stop?”

Who are your three (or four or five) favorite authors? Is your own writing influenced by who you read?

Immanuel Kant, Martin Heidegger and George Berkeley. Stylistically they are of no real use to my work, but many of their ideas are fundamental to Watchers of Worlds (especially Berkeley).

What are you reading now?

The Future of the Mind by Michio Kaku and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

You have a terrific website and trailer for The Founder’s Find. From an author's perspective, how important are social networking sites and other internet resources to promote your book?

It’s hard to answer this question in any sort of quantitative way. I will say, as a young author, I know my name alone doesn’t widen the eyes of potential readers, which is why I spent extra time on cover design, the website and the video. Well-crafted collateral can certainly build credibility. At a time when people google everything and with all of the great tools for building sites, I feel as though I am doing the bare minimum. That said, the site alone doesn’t drive book sales. Talking to book clubs, book blogs (like Rose City Reader) and doing readings seem to create the largest spikes in actual sales.

What have you learned from self-publishing that you think is the most valuable lesson?

Professional editors are worth what you pay them. Most authors need somebody who is removed from them to objectively evaluate your work and provide criticism. Your friends and family will always be in a somewhat compromised situation when they read your work.

Any tips or hints for authors considering bringing out their own self-published books?

Learn to love criticism. I’ve learned compliments are rarely as helpful as criticism. I always want people to be as blunt with me about my work as they possibly can.

What is the best thing about being a writer?

There is little in life as limitless as a blank page. Each is an opportunity, a dare to make something nobody has seen before. Writers are just explorers with pens.

What’s next? Are you working on your next book?

Yes, The Founder’s Find is the beginning of a series of eight books. I've completed rough drafts for two other books in  the Watchers of Worlds series.

I’ve just begun the editing process for the second, yet-to-be-titled, book in the series. Kade (the protagonist) will be exploring some really beautiful new places and the intensity of his story gets turned up quite a bit. There’s a lot of adventure, danger and self-discovery, as well as Kade’s first romance. The Founder’s Find built Kade’s world and this second book is my first chance to truly play in it.

There isn’t anything set in stone for the release of the second book, but I am hoping it goes to press this autumn.

THANKS SCOTT! THE FOUNDER'S FIND IS AVAILABLE ON AMAZON AND THE KINDLE EDITION IS ON SUPER-SALE RIGHT NOW FOR ONLY $.99!



Thursday, April 17, 2014

Book Beginning: A Farm Dies Once a Year by Arlo Crawford



THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author's name.

EARLY BIRDS & SLOWPOKES: This weekly post goes up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. But feel free to add a link all week.

FACEBOOK: Rose City Reader has a Facebook page where I post about new and favorite books, book events, and other bookish tidbits, as well as link to blog posts. I'd love a "Like" on the page! You can go to the page here to Like it. I am happy to Like you back if you have a blog or professional Facebook page, so please leave a comment with a link and I will find you.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I try to follow all Book  Beginnings participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING



MY BOOK BEGINNING



When I was thirty-one years old, I went to spend a summer with my mother on the farm in Pennsylvania where I grew up.
--A Farm Dies Once a Year: A Memoir by Arlo Crawford. The visit Crawfod describes in the opening sentence inspired him to write a memoir about life on a family farm. The Kirkus review recommends it for "aspiring organic farmers" but anyone who has ever fantasized about country life or having a farm will love it. But don't expect only bucolic reminiscences -- the story gets a jolt from the past murder of a neighboring farmer.

Author Interview: Jessica Null Vealitzek



Jessica Null Vealitzek is the author of the soon-to-be-officially-released novel, The Rooms Are Filled, a coming-of-age story set in the Chicago suburbs of the early 1980s. Jessica took time from her writing to answer some questions for Rose City Reader readers.



How did you come to write The Rooms Are Filled?

The book is loosely based on a story my father told me—his own story of moving from a farm in Minnesota to working-class Franklin Park, Illinois, as a boy. He was bullied at his new school, and his teacher—a rumored lesbian—took him under her wing and really helped him adjust. This teacher was made fun of relentlessly by the kids, even after she died, and my father says it is one of his great regrets in life that he never stuck up for her.

Up until this book, I’d only ever written short stories. I needed a story that I could stay with, that I cared about enough to dedicate a whole novel to. For ten years, ever since first hearing the story from my father, it had stayed with me, so I chose it. And I wasn’t wrong; it was an absolute joy to write this novel.

Wolves play a small but vital role in your novel. Do you have a background in animal biology? Or are you an amateur enthusiast?

Amateur enthusiast, and a passionate one. When I was in high school, I had to write some report and I remember scanning the library catalogues for a subject. At the time, wolves were being reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park after being wiped out in the early 1900s, so there were a lot of articles about that. I had no real interest, but it seemed an easy subject with all the current information available.

I’m glad for my laziness in that instance, because I’ve grown to absolutely love what is a fascinating animal. Wolves are a keystone species—meaning they play a huge role in the health of the wild. They positively affect everything from beavers to birch trees. There are many groups that, for reasons I still don’t completely understand, hate wolves—and that’s not an exaggeration. Some groups out west regard wolves not just as a nuisance, but also as some sort of evil animal that needs to be wiped out. There are also many groups who are doing their best to advocate for wolves, and I fully support them whenever and however I can.

What is your "day job"? How did it lead you to writing fiction?

My day job is caring for my two children, ages 3 and 6. And, interestingly, they did play a huge role in my writing this book. I’d wanted to write one since I was a child, but I kept putting it off. I even went to grad school for creative writing, but then found jobs writing for others—as a reporter, an exhibit writer, a communications director.

It’s no surprise that children changed me, and I began to realize how finite and fleeting life is. I started to question whether I really would ever write a book and achieve this dream that I’d been carrying along with me for years and years. My children helped me see I needed to get going.

Did you know right away, or have an idea, how you were going to end the story? Or did it come to you as you were in the process of writing? 

In real life, my father’s teacher was murdered and the townspeople sort of chalked it up to what happens when you live a “deviant” lifestyle. In my first draft, I followed that storyline but it didn’t feel right. You know how sometimes truth is stranger than fiction? That’s what it felt like. So I changed it, though it’s still not all sunshine and roses for her. But I don’t want to give anything away.

What did you learn from writing your book – either about the subject of the book or the writing process – that most surprised you? 

When I started writing, my goal was fairly simple: write a book. I didn’t put any time limits on myself or any daily writing requirements. I had two very small children and I wanted to make it as easy as possible. I thought about keeping a writing journal—I’d read and enjoyed one of Steinbeck’s—but the thought of writing even more seemed overwhelming and, frankly, needless. I’m surprised now by how much I wish I had one. I have no idea how often I wrote or how long it really took me to write it (and this is the question I’m asked the most); it’s hard to remember all the storyline decisions along the way. It would be fun to be able to relive it through a journal.

Who are your three (or four or five) favorite authors?

It’s hard to pick a favorite author, because my favorite books are all by different authors, and I rarely read the same author twice, except for Steinbeck. Some of my favorite books are To Kill a Mockingbird, The Things They Carried, The Grapes of Wrath, and the Anne of Green Gables children’s books.

What are you reading now? 

Dear Life by Alice Munro and For Whom the Bell Tolls by Hemingway.

What kind of books do you like to read?

My tastes have changed over the years. I used to like longer, drawn-out storytelling. I loved Steinbeck, and I actually don’t want to read him right now because I don’t want to ruin my love for him! Because now I’m more drawn to stark, spare writing and quieter, simpler stories, like those of Denis Johnson, Jim Harrison, and Alice Munro. I hated Hemingway in high school, but I just read The Old Man and the Sea and it jumped to my all-time favorites list.

You have a terrific website, blog, and facebook page. From an author's perspective, how important are social networking sites and other internet resources to promote your book? 

I think online resources are important, especially for unestablished authors, but you have to look at all the options and take only what you’re comfortable with, otherwise you won’t do it well. The blog I created made sense for me, because I love writing about the everyday stories of everyday people. And people have told me they’ve bought my book because they already loved my blog writing. But it only works, I think, if you really love doing it. I don’t love Twitter, so I’m rarely on there.

Do you have any events coming up to promote your book? 

I do, thank you. I have an online Google Hangout scheduled for publication day, April 22. I’ll be in Minneapolis May 2, Denver May 12, Michigan May 21, and Milwaukee May 28. The details are on my web site.

What is the best thing about being a writer? 

Being able to spend time doing what I love, hands down.

What’s next? Are you working on your next book? 

I am, though it’s hard to concentrate in the middle of a book launch. But I have a general outline and several pages on the story of an 18-year-old runaway pregnant girl. I write when I can, when I feel like it. That’s good enough for me right now.

THANKS JESSICA! THE ROOMS ARE FILLED WILL BE PUBLISHED BY SHE WRITES PRESS ON APRIL 22, 2014. FIND IT ONGOODREADS. PREORDER THROUGH INDIEBOUND, OR ON AMAZON OR BARNES & NOBLE.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: The Founder's Find by Scott Frey



Following the ensuing applause, silence once again came over the auditorium as the dark figure of the Pemich shepherd stepped forward. He threw off his hood and stared out at the young faces, evoking a collective inhale from the firsties at the sight of him.
-- The Founder's Find by Scott Frey.  This teaser gives a pretty good feel for this YA fantasy story, the first book in a new fantasy series called Watchers of Worlds. See the trailer about the creation of The Founder's Find and read more about this enthralling new series on the author's website, here.

The Founder's Find is available in a paperback edition, but the Kindle edition is on super sale right now for only $.99!

PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION

This is the story of Kade Mackenzie, a thirteen-year-old boy born into the foster system of Los Angeles and plagued most of his life by seizures and inadequate guardianship. Despite his circumstances Kade has not given up hope that something better lies ahead for him. One day, desperate to leave the confining walls of his foster parent’s apartment, Kade puts his faith in a man promising him a new beginning far, far away. Soon Kade finds himself immersed in a world he could have scarcely imagined to be possible. It is a world of many fascinating beauties, enlivening ideas and deep, dusky mysteries. Not everyone is as they first appear. It is in this new world that Kade Mackenzie will be forced to find who he truly is.




Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Mailbox Monday: Honey & Oats




Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday! MM was created by Marcia, who graciously hosted it for a long, long time, before turning it into a  touring event. Mailbox Monday has now returned to its permanent home where you can link to your MM post.

I got one terrific book last week:



Honey & Oats: Everyday Favorites Baked with Whole Grains and Natural Sweeteners by Jennifer Katzinger (Author), Charity Burggraaf (Photographer), and Julie Hopper (Contributor).

Filled with beautiful photographs on matte pages, Honey & Oats offers 75 friendly recipes for home bakers trying to incorporate healthy alternatives into their sweet and savory baked goods.

Sasquatch Books just keeps turning out lush, gorgeous cookbooks like Honey & Oats.  They have harnessed some great talent and produce a first-class product.


WEEKEND COOKING




Dumas Law Group -- Now on the World Wide Web!



The website for Dumas Law Group went live today! This is very exciting for us! Please visit.

We are still polishing up the content, so apologies for typos and formatting glitches. If you spot errors, please send me an email at gilion@dumaslawgroup.com. No need to post them here and shame me.




Saturday, April 12, 2014

Author Interview: Judy Nedry



Judy Nedry grew up in small towns, reading and imagining mystery stories since she first got hooked on Hardy Boys books.  Her journalism degree took her to New York City, where she worked at Mademoiselle Magazine, before returning to Oregon as the managing editor of an alternative monthly magazine and newspaper features editor.

After she and her husband bought an Oregon winery, the focus of Judy's writing turned to her new industry. She founded Northwest Palate, a magazine about wine, food, and the Northwest lifestyle.  She published guides to Oregon and Washington wines.  And she wrote freelance articles for national and international wine publications.

Her first novel, An Unholy Alliance, combined Judy's love for mysteries with her wine writing and introduced amateur sleuth Emma Golden.  Judy took time from promoting her second Emma Golden mystery, The Difficult Sister, to answer some questions for Rose City Reader readers.




How did you come to write The Difficult Sister?

The Difficult Sister is the second in the Emma Golden mystery series, and there was always going to be a second book. I’d planned to locate them in different wine regions, however this book sneaked up on me. It happened when I read an article in the Newberg Graphic about a 54-year-old woman whose husband left her. Lonely, she met a man on the internet. After a brief courtship she moved to Montana with him. Not too long after that her sister, announced that she was going to Montana to look for her because she’d lost contact and was concerned. I don’t know the outcome, but it didn’t sound good because the missing sister’s jewelry was found in a local pawn shop.

I get a lot of ideas for my stories in the news media because the stuff there is weirder than anything I could make up, but also rooted in some sort of truth. After the idea goes through my head, of course, it bears faint resemblance, if any, to the original idea. Emma had to get in there and help set things right . . . and all kinds of stuff happened.

The book is permeated with the atmosphere of small towns on the Oregon coast. Did the setting influence the plot? Or vice versa?

The plot was already bubbling away in my head before I found the setting. I’d created a small town in Montana called Radnor, up by the Idaho panhandle, and was planning a trip out there to get a sense of the precise setting. Meanwhile, my daughter was graduating with a Master’s in Enology and Viticulture at UC Davis. A girlfriend and I drove to Davis the long way, down the coast. When we hit the Bandon-Port Orford area THAT WAS IT. I knew that was where my story happened. Later that summer, I went over with another friend. We spent four days. Seeing the Face Rock and the properties in the back woods inland from the coast only solidified my feelings that I’d found the right location.

What is your professional background? How did it lead you to writing the two books in your Emma Golden series?

I have a journalism degree and I wrote about Northwest wine, starting out as a freelancer when our children were small and I was at home and needed an outlet. Nobody was writing about it then, at least not with any regularity, and wine magazines liked what I sent them. I later co-founded Northwest Palate magazine and got more into the food writing as well. All too much fun to be believed. When I decided to write fiction – a lifelong dream, by the way – I created Emma as a person who, like me, found her own way in that industry and was successful.

Your heroine, Emma Golden, is a feisty but flawed freelance writer of a certain age. How much of her character reflects your own? Is she an amalgam of people you know?

To an extent Emma’s character reflects mine. Mainly this is through the character’s observations of the world around her. Our minds tend to wander down the same, somewhat twisted paths. In the situations Emma finds herself in, many of her wry observations mirror my own. I think we both have a sense of wanting to see Justice, however that may manifest.

But Emma is very much a creation. In this series I try to give due to some of the mystery writers and characters who’ve gone before me. Like the protagonist in Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca, the reader doesn’t know much about Emma’s appearance except that she is rather ordinary and doesn’t have a fancy wardrobe. Like Kinsey Milhone, she’s a loner. Like Miss Marple, she is snoopy and invisible.

Most people don’t pay much attention to Emma because she is over 50 and unremarkable. Only the few people she is close to know of her abilities and appreciate her. She’s got an ego, and she’d like to be in the limelight as she was in her past, but everything in her life was upended and she’s no longer that person. Like the hard-boiled detectives, she has a past and plenty of flaws.

What do you admire most about Emma Golden? What is her least endearing trait?

I like that Emma tries to do the next right thing. I like that she has lots of warts and that sometimes her choices aren’t the best, because that makes her real. Emma’s real, whatever one thinks of her. She does things her way. She has a belief system in something larger than herself, and she is a good and loyal friend. Like many of the hard-boileds, or the John Wayne characters in the old westerns, she has a code. And a mystery is just another form of the old western, with the good guys versus the bad guys. For me, Emma’s age, her hatred of firearms, and her less-than-intrepid nature are great traits because they limit her in many of the traditional arenas occupied by other sleuths. Fortunately she is an unapologetic snoop and social commentator. She’s funny – sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. And she and her friend Melody LOVE to eat!

What I don’t like about Emma is that she’s self-righteous, can be petty when her feelings get stepped on, and because she usually tells it how it is (for her at least) she often pisses people off. She can be obnoxious. While these traits certainly can annoy, they also keep things moving. There’s a reason she has them.

What did you learn from writing The Difficult Sister – either about the subject of the book or the writing process – that most surprised you?

The Difficult Sister and its predecessor, An Unholy Alliance, both taught me a great deal. The biggest learning curve came in writing that first novel. It took me to places in my head I didn’t even know were there. That is one of the absolute joys of writing fiction. Both books presented me with huge problems that needed to be solved. With both, I knew the beginning and who-dunnit, but the journey between those two points was long and convoluted.

Most surprising to me is the way many of the in-between issues of the story resolve themselves. It takes a great leap of faith to write a novel. I must have this subconscious belief that all will be well in the end. It’s similar to the belief we mystery readers have when we begin a novel. We believe the loose ends will be tied up – that’s what we love about mysteries, the very reasonable expectation that all will be well in the end and we will UNDERSTAND.

Who are your three (or four or five) favorite mystery authors. Are you influenced by the authors you read?

I grew up reading mysteries – Hardy Boys, etc. But the person who had the most profound influence on me in early adulthood was Daphne DuMaurier. She was the Queen. Real characters, innocents dragged into situations beyond their control, who had to figure out how to get to the bottom of things. I also was a big fan of Agatha Christie, but one outgrows the formulaic treatment after a time. She was amusing, but always at a distance. Then along came P.D. James and Elizabeth George and Caroline Graham and Ruth Rendell. J.K. Rowling – what a storyteller!

Do you have favorite mystery series you love to read? Which ones?

Series are my favorite. Once I find a storyteller who strikes a chord with me, I stalk her! Tana French’s Dublin homicide series; Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone; Louise Penny – I secretly hope Armand Gamache will marry me someday!; Craig Johnson’s Longmire series; Elizabeth George’s Lynley/Havers series…. I like Dona Leon, just discovered Christobel Kent and am a follower. I enjoy Nevada Barr’s Anna Pigeon and am completely captivated by the masterful poetry in James Lee Burke’s novels. Alan Bradley’s Flavia DeLuce series is lovely fun. (Get out the shepherd’s hook. I could go on forever.) I look for great characters first, but certainly an engaging and almost-believable story has to be there too.

What are you reading now?

I am beginning Buried by the Roan, the second of Colorado author Mark Stevens’s Allison Coil series. I’m learning a lot about elk hunting. I think Stevens is very promising, and, reminiscent of Nevada Barr, he definitely takes me to a different world.

Next after that: The Boys in the Boat for my book group. I also love really good biography.

What do you do to promote your books? Do you use social networking sites or other internet resources?

There’s the rub. It’s so much easier to write a book, challenging as that may be. I did my own book launch last December – a huge success – and am lining up more signings at local book stores after a very successful event at Annie Bloom’s Books in February. Recently got back from the Tucson Festival of Books where I did some networking and sold books. (Fabulous event!)

I have a website, promote on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networking sites. I am happy to talk at any local book club that will have me, and have an event at the Milwaukie Public Library coming up early this summer. I also have done giveaways on Goodreads and have offered free downloads on Storycartel. I know there is more I can do, and the problem is finding the time.

Do you have any events coming up to promote your book?

The Milwaukie Library is the next one. I’ll have a couple more firmed up in the next couple of weeks. And I’m doing a private one at Manzanita for a book group next month. The main thing with me is that I am building, doing something every day to promote the books. I’m not going anywhere.

What is the most valuable advice you’ve been given as an author?

Don’t quit.

There’s also my own motto: To paraphrase Bill Clinton, “It’s the story, stupid.”

What is the best thing about being a writer?

The absolute freedom of possibility.

What’s next? Are you working on your next Emma Golden book?

The next Emma Golden novel is in the hopper. I’m having fun. I’ll be sitting in the bathtub or walking the dog and find myself “writing” in my head. I love that part, where I have a rough framework and the ideas start rushing in to fill the space.

I’m also working on a memoir of “my year as an anarchist” set in the early 1970s. It could be pretty hilarious.

THANKS JUDY! THE DIFFICULT SISTER AND ITS PREDECESSOR, AN UNHOLY ALLIANCE, ARE AVAILABLE ON JUDY'S WEBSITE, AMAZON, POWELL'S, OR ORDER IT FROM YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Book Beginning: The Founder's Find by Scott Frey


THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author's name.

EARLY BIRDS & SLOWPOKES: This weekly post goes up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. But feel free to add a link all week.

FACEBOOK: Rose City Reader has a Facebook page where I post about new and favorite books, book events, and other bookish tidbits, as well as link to blog posts. I'd love a "Like" on the page! You can go to the page here to Like it. I am happy to Like you back if you have a blog or professional Facebook page, so please leave a comment with a link and I will find you.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I try to follow all Book  Beginnings participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING



MY BOOK BEGINNING



Aids, secretaries and all manner of staff did their best to get out of the way of the hulking man striding through the corridor.
-- The Founder's Find by Scott Frey.  That's a pretty good scene-setter for a first sentence.  We know it is some kind of institution, but whether it is a school, government agency, or what is still up in the air.

The Founder's Find is the first book in a new YA "philosophical fantasy" series called Watchers of Worlds. See the trailer and read more about this absorbing new series on the author's website, here.  The Kindle edition is on super sale right now for only $.99!

PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION

This is the story of Kade Mackenzie, a thirteen-year-old boy born into the foster system of Los Angeles and plagued most of his life by seizures and inadequate guardianship. Despite his circumstances Kade has not given up hope that something better lies ahead for him. One day, desperate to leave the confining walls of his foster parent’s apartment, Kade puts his faith in a man promising him a new beginning far, far away. Soon Kade finds himself immersed in a world he could have scarcely imagined to be possible. It is a world of many fascinating beauties, enlivening ideas and deep, dusky mysteries. Not everyone is as they first appear. It is in this new world that Kade Mackenzie will be forced to find who he truly is.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: The Other Side of Paradise by Julia Cooke




A Caribbean idyll that was slowly turning gray, wrinkled, and arthritic was only the final detail of a period when real life surpassed fiction in its surrealism.  During the Special Period, entire swaths of the city went without running water for years.

-- The Other Side of Paradise: Life in the New Cuba by Julia Cooke

In the aftermath of Fidel Castro's regime, journalist Julia Cooke spent five years examining modern Cuba.  In her new book, she analyzes life in a country scarred by Castro's failed promises.

Julia Cooke recently answered Jeff Baker's questions about Cuba and her new book in a fascinating interview, here.


Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.





Monday, April 7, 2014

Mailbox Monday




Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday! MM was created by Marcia, who graciously hosted it for a long, long time, before turning it into a touring event. Mailbox Monday has now returned to its permanent home where you can link to your MM post.

Three terrific books came into my house last week, all different from each other:



The Founder's Find by Scott Frey. This is the first in a new YA "philosophical fantasy" series called Watchers of Worlds. See the trailer and read more about this absorbing new series on the author's website, here. The Kindle edition is on super sale right now for only $.99!



A Farm Dies Once a Year: A Memoir by Arlo Crawford. This is the personal story of one year on a family farm, inspired by Crawford's adult return to the organic farm in Pennsylvania where he grew up. The Kirkus review recommends it for "aspiring organic farmers" but I think "armchair farmers" ("farmer fantasists"?) like me will love it.



The Black-Eyed Blonde: A Philip Marlowe Novel by Benjamin Black. I've had my eye on this one because I love Raymond Chandler’s originals, Black's Dublin-based Quirke series, and the literary novels he writes under his own name, John Banville.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Author Interview: Jeannie Burt



Jeannie Burt grew up on an eastern Oregon farm. Her rural community was so small and close knit that she was related to three of the other five kids in her high school graduating class. It is easy to understand why she left this small-town life to find big-city adventure in the corporate world of San Francisco, New York, and Milan.

After publishing two non-fiction books, Burt found inspiration in her rural childhood for her first novel, When Patty Went Away. This heart stirring story is set in 1976 in a remote farming community and centers on one farmers search for a missing teen, his daughter's best friend.



BURT GRACIOUSLY AGREED TO ANSWER SOME QUESTIONS FOR ROSE CITY READER READERS.

How did you come to write When Patty Went Away?

Originally the idea came when a young man I knew was grappling with drug addiction. Seeing what it did to his family broke my heart. To exorcise my own feelings about their struggles I decided to write a story dealing with what might be going on in his life. After a lot of work on it, I didn’t seem to be able to hang onto a story told from a young man’s point of view, so reworked it again from a girl’s viewpoint.

That girl was Patty. Her character had a wonderful in-your-face voice and I loved her intelligence and rebellion. But in the end it, too, just didn’t work.

My anguish about things in the young man’s life didn’t dissipate, though, and I knew for my own sanity I needed to stick with the story, but someone else had to tell it, someone who would need to face his own fears to do it. That someone was quiet farmer Jack McIntyre.

The book takes place in Eastern Oregon farm country in 1976. Why did you choose this setting?

I was raised in the same country the story takes place, but had moved away for college, then for studies in Europe, then for a job in San Francisco. I bought into the frenzy of the city/corporate world when I moved back to the Northwest to work in corporate Human Resources. It wore me out.

I think the setting of the book was a way to return to the quiet, open place of my past. They say your first novel is biographical. When it comes to the setting in Patty, mine certainly is. But returning took me back not only to the quiet beauty and silence of farm country, but to the pain of trying to live in the narrow way required in order to be accepted in a small community. Writing the book brought all that up again. The cultural strictures and confinement were, in the end, what made me leave in the first place.

What did you learn from writing your book?

It really did teach me to write. I remember, long before I could say I was a writer, taking my first writing class and being so naïve as to thrill at my first compound sentence. I was not a talented writer by nature, but I was persistent. It took years to get When Patty Went Away to a place I felt I could show it to anybody.

As an update to the young man who prompted me to write the book; he has worked very hard. He has a family now and has carved out a life of health for himself.

Who are your three (or four or five) favorite authors? Is your own writing influenced by who you read?

I’d say today my five favorite authors are probably Barbara Kingsolver, Julian Barnes, Colum McCann, Russell Banks, and Jennifer Haigh, though the list morphs and changes every time I pick up a good book. Every sentence a book utters influences my writing—a whole lot.

What kind of books do you like to read?

Literary mostly, with a dollop of a good mystery thrown in. I just finished The Greenhouse by Audur Ava Olafssdottir, and have just started The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

What is the most valuable advice you’ve been given as an author?

I think my best advice comes from my first writing teacher years ago in a Parks Bureau class. She hammered to us that the real value of a first draft is to give you something to edit. It let me know that I could make mistakes; I could fix them later. And, man, I made a whole tankload of mistakes! Still do.

What do you do to promote your books? Do you use social networking sites or other internet resources?

Being an introvert, I am being dragged into the whole social network scene by my toes. It is amazing to me the amount of joyful noise there is on social media, and am focusing on that aspect rather than the urge to curl with another book and tune it all out. It is, I can see, a wonderful way to connect and I am connecting in ways I never did before. So, I’m Facebooking, and Tweeting, and blogging along with everyone these days.

Do you have any events coming up to promote When Patty Went Away?

I have just started scheduling again, after recent surgery.  Mid April, I will be attending the Oregon Library Conference in Salem. I will also be reading the evening of April 26, at Three Mugs Taproom in Hillsboro. In May and June, my publisher, Muskrat Press, has planned a book tour to Seattle, Boise, Pendleton, Spokane and Walla Walla.

What’s next? Are you working on your next book?

Oh! It’s so scary to actually come out and admit this. I have two more novels in the works. One should be ready to go by the end of the spring, the other probably by the end of summer. They’re both related historical stories which take place at the end of the Nineteenth century into the early Twentieth. They are set around the life and times of a little-known, but incredibly influential American artist named Robert Henri. Down the pike a long way, I have the draft of a light, modern love story on some thumb drive somewhere. I’m antsy to get back to it as well.

THANKS JEANNIE! WHEN PATTY WENT AWAY IS AVAILABLE ON-LINE FROM POWELL'S, AMAZON, ETC., OR ASK YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE TO ORDER YOU A COPY. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Book Beginning: The Other Side of Paradise by Julia Cooke


THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author's name.

EARLY BIRDS & SLOWPOKES: This weekly post goes up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. But feel free to add a link all week.

FACEBOOK: Rose City Reader has a Facebook page where I post about new and favorite books, book events, and other bookish tidbits, as well as link to blog posts. I'd love a "Like" on the page! You can go to the page here to Like it. I am happy to Like you back if you have a blog or professional Facebook page, so please leave a comment with a link and I will find you.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I try to follow all Book  Beginnings participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING



MY BOOK BEGINNING



There's a bar in downtown Havana, a backroom bar next to an outpost of the government-run Sylvain bakery chain where foreigners by 65-cent bottles of water.

-- The Other Side of Paradise: Life in the New Cuba by Julia Cooke.

Journalist Julia Cooke spent five years "embedded" in Cuba after Fidel Castro gave up his position as President.  Her intimate in in-depth observations are collected in her new book, in which she examines modern Cuba through the eyes of the country's young adults.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Night in Shanghai by Nicole Mones



Each night Thomas listened closely to the jazz in the basement, especially the piano work of Julian Henson, which was tightly controlled even when he improvised. There was restraint to it, it kind of glassy hardness.

-- Night in Shanghai by Nicole Mones.

Thomas Greene, the hero of Nicole Mones's new novel, is a black American pianist who emigrated to Shanghai in the 1930s to lead a jazz orchestra.  Greene is fictional, but many of the other characters are real jazz musicians who created China's Jazz Age.      

The book is already generating a lot of buzz. Alan Cheuse, of NPR's All Things Considered, says "Night in Shanghai, an intelligent historical romance, shows off with forceful insight, terrific characters, and a telling sense of detail. And, folks, it swings." Read his full review here.

Night in Shanghai is the fourth novel by Nicole Mones, following Lost in Translation (reviewed here), A Cup of Light, and The Last Chinese Chef (reviewed here).



Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.

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