Thursday, October 30, 2014

Book Beginning: Your Life is a Book by Brenda Peterson & Sarah Jane Freymann



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



With this book, we hope to help you write the best memoir possible from the often confusing, exhilarating, and unexpected raw material of your life.

-- From the authors' User's Guide to Your Life is a Book: How to Craft and Publish Your Memoir by Brenda Peterson and Sarah Jane Freymann, published by Sasquatch Books.

A memoir is like a love story, with all the ecstasies, disappointments, and turning points of any relationship. And at the end, you might be surprised to discover that the love of your life is – your life.

– From Part 1: "Crafting Your Memoir."

Your Life is a Book is an indispensable companion for anyone thinking of writing their memoir, especially with the hope of getting it published. Peterson is a writing teacher and author. Freeman is a literary agent who has led memoir workshops since 2009.




Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Make It Mighty Ugly by Kim Piper Werker



This grand adventure is what led me directly into the arms of Mighty Ugly just a couple of years later. All my fear of being misunderstood, my shame about being different, how stuck I felt about what to do next – I found it all together and started making ugly things.
-- Make It Mighty Ugly: Exercises & Advice for Getting Creative Even When It Ain't Pretty: A Handbook for Vanquishing Creative Demons by Kim Piper Werker.

Make It Mighty Ugly is about overcoming "demons" like procrastination, self-doubt, and perfectionism to be more creative.  Werker identifies common demons, then provides advice and hands-on exercises to start creating things and sustain your creative habits,

I usually associate creativity with arts-and-crafts, DIY projects, and maybe fiction writing. My hope is to apply Werker's advice and techniques in my law practice to think more creatively of how to help my clients and resolve the conflicts they are involved in.

This is one of the great books in the Sasquatch Books fall catalog.



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

Sunday, October 26, 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.

Two books came into my house last week, both fun and entertaining novels:



Fallon's Orphans by Bill Kroger. A new thriller set in Cairo, Istanbul, and other exotic locals. Also available in a Kindle edition.



Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.  I've never read any novels by this enormously popular author.  Susan Winkler, author of the recently release Portrait of a Woman in White, just turned me on to Moyes and I am enjoying this romantic novel a lot.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Book Beginning: Make It Mighty Ugly by Kim Piper Werker



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



You could fill a very big boat with books like this one, about creativity and overcoming creative challenges. . . . [T]hose books seem to share a couple of troubling qualities that defeat the purpose of encouraging creativity and habits. Those useless qualities are cheerleading and hand-waving.

-- From the author's Introduction to Make It Mighty Ugly: Exercises & Advice for Getting Creative Even When It Ain't Pretty: A Handbook for Vanquishing Creative Demons by Kim Piper Werker.

I make ugly things on purpose.

– From "Part 1: Name the Demons."

Make It Mighty Ugly is about overcoming "demons" like procrastination, self-doubt, and perfectionism to be more creative. I usually associate creativity with arts-and-crafts, DIY projects, and maybe fiction writing. But I think Werker's book can help me  in my law practice because I think the same demons restrict creative thinking in the workplace.

This is one of the great books in the Sasquatch Books fall catalog.

Author Interview: Ann Hedreen



Her Beautiful Brain is Ann Hedreen's memoir about her mother's decades-long fight with Alzheimer’s. Ann lives with her family in Seattle where she works as a writer, filmmaker, and teacher and publishes The Restless Nest.



Ann has bee on a busy book tour with Her Beautiful Brain, but took time to answer questions for Rose City Reader:

How did you come to write Her Beautiful Brain?

Without quite realizing it at the time, I began writing Her Beautiful Brain in 2003, when my husband and I filmed a documentary about my mom and Alzheimer’s disease called Quick Brown Fox: an Alzheimer’s Story. Making the film made me realize I had so much more to say about my mother’s life and about Alzheimer’s. It also made me realize that, while I love filmmaking (which is what I do for a living), I have been a writer since I could hold a pencil and I longed to write more than I was as a filmmaker, sometime journalist and OpEd writer.

Her Beautiful Brain is a memoir about slowly losing your mother to Alzheimer’s. Was it difficult to tell such an intimate story?

Yes, it was difficult. And not everyone would want to tell such a story. But for me, it felt important and necessary: as a way to honor my mother by describing what happened to her, and in a way that would make readers experiencing the same thing feel less alone. I wanted to give people a story that they could share with their friends and say: Here. Read this. This is what my family is going through, too. This is what it feels like to watch someone you love disappear into Alzheimer’s.

Did you think of turning your own experience into fiction and writing the book as a novel?

Yes, I did. But I knew I didn’t want to embark on this project in a vacuum, so I enrolled in the wonderful low-residency Goddard MFA program. My first advisor, poet and memoirist Michael Klein (Track Conditions, The End of Being Known), urged me to embrace the immediacy and honesty of memoir and helped me understand what memoir is: not biography or autobiography but something closer to essay-writing; a weaving of memory and reflection with the goal of telling the emotional truth.

Can you recommend any other memoirs that deal with major life issues with the kind of heart and humor you put into yours?

I was really inspired by Elizabeth McCracken’s An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination, a poignant, heartbreaking and even sometimes funny memoir about the stillbirth of her first child. She tells you on page six that “a baby is born in this book, too,” which makes it possible to read, rather than impossibly sad.

I loved Cheryl Strayed’s Wild. Ditto Claire Dederer’s Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses. Floyd Skloot’s In the Shadow of Memory. Terry Tempest William’s Refuge. Lisa Genova’s novel, Still Alice, gets inside the head of someone with Alzheimer’s in riveting, poignant detail. And I am a great fan of everything Anne Lamott writes.

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

What continually surprised me were the emotional insights—about my mother, myself and various moments, both small and large, in family history—that came through the act of writing. I am very grateful for that unexpected gift. (This, more than anything, has inspired me to teach memoir writing.)

As for insights about Alzheimer’s, the more I dwelled on its insidiousness, the more I was filled with empathy for every person and every family that experiences it. I am also in awe of the scientists who have devoted their careers to finding answers. Until I began to participate in research as a control subject and to write about it, I don’t think I fully understood how long it can take: years, decades, lifetimes.

What is your work history and did it prepare you for writing a memoir?

After college, I started with a brief, low-level stint in publishing (law books and college textbooks)—staying just long enough to realize I wanted to write, not edit other peoples’ writing. I got my first journalism job covering local crime and other stories for the City News Bureau of Chicago and then UPI. I returned to Seattle and worked as a producer/writer for KIRO, the CBS affiliate, for 5 years. I worked in public relations for the Seattle Art Museum and later did lots of freelance PR writing for nonprofits, especially environmental groups. Meanwhile, my husband was an independent cameraman for CBS and other networks. Finally, we were able to combine our skills and started White Noise Productions, producing short films for nonprofits and independent documentaries. Rustin directs, shoots and edits; I produce, interview and write.

A big part of my work life is interviewing: listening to people tell their stories, then transcribing what they say and pulling out the most important parts. This helps me to “listen” to my own writing, to sharpen it and get to the heart of the matter. I hear everything I write spoken out loud, in my head.

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

Hemingway, for his economy and care in choosing every word. Wallace Stegner, because he wrote so beautifully and insightfully about the West that shaped my immigrant forebears. Anne Lamott, for her brilliant weaving of everyday life and spiritual insights. Poets Denise Levertov and Sharon Olds.

The first memoir I ever read was Gerda Weissmann Klein’s All But my Life, a holocaust survival story. I was about 13 and I have never forgotten it.

What are you reading now?

I just finished Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being. What a feast of a book: I loved the way she wove two narratives into one rich, intertwined, complex story. I have also been working my way through Coleman BarksThe Essential Rumi, reading just a few poems every morning. I will be so sad when I reach the end.

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

This is my first book so I’m very new at this. Yes, I’m on FB, both personally and with a new “Ann Hedreen/Author” page. I’m on Twitter (@restlessnest) and I have a website which hosts my “Restless Nest” blog (which can also be heard once a week on KBCS.fm radio and is available via podcast). My husband and I also produced a book trailer.


Her Beautiful Brain from White Noise Productions on Vimeo.

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

I do! They are listed on the contacts/calendar page of my website. On October 23 at 6pm, I'll be at Book Passage in San Francisco (1 Ferry Terminal Plaza) and on Tuesday, October 28 at 7pm, I'll be at Village Books (1200 11th Street) in Bellingham, WA. Check the calendar for future events.

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

Don’t wait for inspiration. Sit down. Write.

Any tips or hints for authors considering writing a memoir?

Here’s the secret formula (with gratitude to Lucy Calkins and the Columbia Teachers College Writers Workshop, who teach this to students of all ages—I learned it from Melissa Rysemus, a gifted and intuitive writing teacher, when I was guest-teaching memoir writing to her 8th graders in a Seattle public school classroom): Memoir = small moments + reflection.

What is the best thing about being a writer?

Having a voice: a way to express what’s roiling around inside; a way to reach people, to touch people.

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

Yes. My working title is The Observant Doubter. It’s a memoir of my own story of faith and doubt. I was religiously fervent as a young teen and then returned to church, less fervently and more doubtfully, about 20 years later. I think so many of us dwell in the hopeful/doubtful middle of the spectrum and can’t relate to the noisy extremists on either end. I want to write about that. I hope to weave in some other stories too, from both well-known faithful and doubtful people and others who I’ve known personally.

THANKS ANN!
HER BEAUTIFUL BRAIN IS AVAILABLE ON-LINE, AT YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE, OR IN A NOOK EDITION.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Book Review: Of All the Gin Joints



by Mark Bailey, illustrated by Edward Hemingway, published by Algonquin Books.

A terrific companion to their Bartending Guide to Great American Writers, Of All the Gin Joints focuses on the drinking careers of Hollywood's famous dipsomaniacs. Beginning with the era of silent movies through the "New Hollywood" of the 1960s and 70s, Bailey presents an alcoholic history of Hollywood illustrated by Edward Hemingway.

Each chapter focuses on a star of the silver screen and includes a brief biography followed by a drinking-related anecdote and a recipe for a favorite cocktail. Most chapters include a description of a famous Hollywood watering hole and amusing stories related to specific movies are interspersed throughout.

Of All the Gin Joints would make a perfect gift for the movie or cocktail buffs on your list.

OTHER REVIEWS

If you would like your review of this book listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Under False Flags by Steve Anderson



Heloise's fellow villagers managed the destruction as best they could. Piles of salvageable belongings lined the street of half-standing buildings, a heap of clothing here, a cluster of furniture there.
-- Under False Flags by Steve Anderson, available at Powell's and other bookstores, also in a Kindle edition and an audio edition. Under False Flags is set at the Western Front of WWII when an American GI and a German soldier are both sent behind enemy lines on "false flag" missions.  Their fates collide at the 1944 Battle of the Bulge.

I know what my dad is getting for Christmas!

My 2010 interview with Steve Anderson is here. My review of The Losing Role, one of his earlier novels, is here.



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

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mailbox Monday: Brian Doyle



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 -- a new collection of essays by Brian Doyle:



Children & Other While Animals by Brian Doyle, published by OSU Press.

The self-description is terrific: "Notes on badgers, otters, sons, hawks, daughters, dogs, bears, air, bobcats, fishers, mascots, Charles Darwin, newts, sturgeon, roasting squirrels, parrots, elk, foxes, tigers, and various other zoological matters."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Book Beginning: Under False Flags by Steve Anderson



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



Corporal Wendell Lett and his buddies spent most of the time crouched or prone, breathing dust and bitter black smoke, the passing NCOs screaming instructions so fast that they ended up asking each other just what the orders were.

-- Under False Flags by Steve Anderson, also available in a Kindle edition and an audio edition. That is an attention-grabbing beginning! Under False Flags is the latest WWII novel from a terrific author whose loyal following grows with every new book.

My 2010 interview with Steve Anderson is here. My review of The Losing Role, one of his earlier novels, is here.

List: The Booker Prize



The Booker Prize is awarded each year for a full-length novel, written English and published in the UK. The Booker was traditionally awarded for novels by British, Irish, and Commonwealth authors published in the UK. In 2014, the award was opened to any novel originally written in English, mostly meaning Americans became eligible.

The winner is awarded £50,000. The winner and the shortlisted authors see a significant increase in sales.

If anyone else working on this list would like me to post a link to reviews or your progress report(s), please leave a comment with a link and I will add it below.

So far, I have read 32 of the 50 winners.  Here is the list, with those I have finished reading in red; those on my TBR shelf in blue:

2015: Marlon James, A Brief History of Seven Killings

2014: Richard Flanagan, The Narrow Road to the Deep North

2013: Elinor Catton, The Luminaries

2012: Hilary Mantel, Bring up the Bodies

2011: Julian Barnes, The Sense Of an Ending (reviewed here)

2010: Howard Jacobson, The Finkler Question (reviewed here)

2009: Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall (reviewed here)

2008: Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger

2007: Anne Enright, The Gathering (reviewed here)

2006: Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss

2005: John Banville, The Sea (reviewed here)

2004: Alan Hollinghurst, The Line of Beauty

2003: DBC Pierre, Vernon God Little

2002: Yann Martel, Life of Pi

2001: Peter Carey, True History of the Kelly Gang

2000: Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin

1999: J. M. Coetzee, Disgrace

1998: Ian McEwan, Amsterdam

1997: Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

1996: Graham Swift, Last Orders

1995: Pat Barker, The Ghost Road

1994: James Kelman, How Late it Was, How Late

1993: Roddy Doyle, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha

1992: Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient, and Barry Unsworth, Sacred Hunger (reviewed here)

1991: Ben Okri, The Famished Road

1990: A.S. Byatt, Possession

1989: Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day

1988: Peter Carey, Oscar and Lucinda (reviewed here)

1987: Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger

1986: Kingsley Amis, The Old Devils

1985: Keri Hulme, The Bone People (reviewed here)

1984: Anita Brookner, Hotel du Lac

1983: J. M. Coetzee, The Life and Times of Michael K (reviewed here)

1982: Thomas Keneally, Schindler's List

1981: Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children (reviewed here)

1980: William Golding, Rites of Passage

1979: Penelope Fitzgerald, Offshore

1978: Iris Murdoch, The Sea, the Sea (reviewed here)

1977: Paul Scott, Staying On

1976: David Storey, Saville

1975: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Heat and Dust

1974: Nadine Gordimer, The Conservationist, and Stanley Middleton, Holiday

1973: J. G. Farrell, The Siege of Krishnapur

1972: John Berger, G (reviewed here)

1971: V.S. Naipaul, In a Free State

1970, The Lost Booker: J. G. Farrell, Troubles

1970: Bernice Rubens, The Elected Member

1969: Percy Howard Newby, Something to Answer For


NOTE

Last updated on July 16, 2016.

OTHERS READING BOOKER WINNERS

The Complete Booker (a group blog)
Farm Lane Books
Fresh Ink Books
Hotch Pot Cafe

If you would like to be listed, please leave a comment with links to your progress reports or reviews and I will add them here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Booker Prize: 2014 Winner


The 2014 Booker Prize went to Richard Flanagan for The Narrow Road to the Deep North, a “magnificent novel of love and war” that tells the agonizing story of prisoners and captors on the Burma railway in WWII.

This is the first year the prize was opened up to Americans. The Booker has traditionally been awarded for novels by British, Irish, and Commonwealth authors published in the UK.  Then they added a biennial "international" prize for any book written in English.  That one would cover American authors and seems enough to me.  I really don't like that they opened the regular Booker prize to Americans. We already have the Pulitzer and the National, we don't need to horn in on Britain's big prize.

But I guess it's not an issue this year, since the prize went to an Australian author.




Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: A New Lease of Death



Wexford opened the bottom drawer of his desk, the one where he kept personal, semi-official things, grotesqueries that had interested him. He hadn't much hope of finding what he sought.

-- A New Lease of Death by Ruth Rendell. This is the second book in her mystery series featuring Inspector Wexford.  I read the first one, From Doon with Death, a while back and am glad to finally get back into it.


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

Sunday, October 12, 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.

I've been out of town for a while and three very different non-fiction books came to my house in my absence:



Of all the Gin Joints: Stumbling through Hollywood History by Mark Bailey, illustrated by Edward Hemingway.



Your Life is a Book: How to Craft and Publish Your Memoir by Brenda Peterson and Sarah Jane Freymann.



Their Name is Today: Reclaiming Childhood in a Hostile World by Jackson Christopher Arnold.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Book Beginning: A New Lease of Death



THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

Sorry for the missing linky! I set up the post early because I am on vacation this week and apparently forgot the linky.  I have had no luck trying to fix it on my phone. Please leave your link in a comment. Things will be back to normal next week!


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 five in the morning. Inspector Burden had seen more dawns than most men, but he had never quite become jaundiced by them, especially summer dawns.

-- A New Lease of Death by Ruth Rendell. This is the second book in her mystery series featuring Inspector Wexford. It bothers me that the title has "of" in it instead of being A New Lease on Death, like a play on "a new lease on life."

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Author Interview: J.M. Mitchell


Author J.M. Mitchell had a long career with the National Park Service before he turned his attention to writing a series of mysteries featuring Ranger Jack Chastain. The series started with Public Trust and will soon continue in the even more exciting sequel, The Height of Secrecy, scheduled to be released next week. Mitchell draws on his own work in Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Zion National Parks to craft a unique series of "national park mysteries."



Like the friendly park ranger he used to be, Mitchell took a break from his writing adventures to answer questions for Rose City Reader.

How did you come to write The Height of Secrecy?

Most people probably think of national parks as simply places of great beauty, but they are more than that. They're places with conflict and controversy, places where greed, self-interest and politics play out every day.

The conventional wisdom says, write what you know. The Height of Secrecy continues the story started in Public Trust, and in both I've used what I know to weave together stories of mystery and political intrigue, from an insider's perspective, because, for one, someone needed to tell that side of the story, and I realized it could be me.

The book is permeated with the atmosphere of New Mexico and its National Parks. Did the setting influence the plot? Or vice versa?

Good question. It was the latter; the plot influenced the setting. I did not want to write about places like Yosemite, Grand Canyon and Zion. I had worked in those places and I did not want people jumping to conclusions about who the characters were based on, or what parts of the story were surrogates for actual events. I had things I wanted to say, and I didn't want people losing sight of them by jumping to those kinds of conclusions.

Piedras Coloradas National Park is a fictional park in New Mexico. I needed a place where unique communities, and communities within communities, could give me a colorful pallet to use in painting a meaningful picture (story). There in northern New Mexico you have the histories and cultures of the Pueblos, the Hispano, the Anglo, and now the influences of the modern world. The plots of the books I've written, and the several more I hope to write, can play out in that setting, but the mysteries and conflicts are common the world over.

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

I'm a biologist, hard-wired for public service. I was Chief of Biological Resource Management for the National Park Service, also worked at Yosemite, Grand Canyon and Zion, and retired after 36 years of service. My last position was a fairly political one--even though that's hardly how you would characterize me. I observed many conflicts in the course of my career, and with them many ironies. I also saw lots of games. I figured those experiences gave me lots of material for mysteries in the kinds of places people love.

What do you admire most about Jack Chastain? What is his least endearing trait?

What I admire most about Jack Chastain: he's not in it for himself.

His least endearing trait: he's naive as hell, but he knows it, which means he's not.

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?

I knew exactly how I wanted the story to end. The trick--and I suppose the art--was in writing the story to arrive at that point, or actually, those points.

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

In this second novel I've continued to work on mastering conflict and suspense, and giving the reader the feeling that something is at stake. What I stumbled onto in book one and became more aware of as I edited the draft of book two was that, for me, building a mystery with something at stake means you need characters who value something. You need to know them well enough to know what they value. Ultimately, you'll toss them into situations where they'll either stick to those values or turn their back on them. Some of my characters surprised me, but I needed to know them well enough to figure out how it would affect the outcome.

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

John Grisham, Trevanian, Ian Fleming, Tony Hillerman, Daniel Silva.

Yes and no. For the yeses, I study what impresses me and I try to learn from it; Grisham's work, for example. After being told my action scenes flow like Silva's, I found one of his books (liked it and read more) and studied it to understand what he did well.

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

Tony Hillerman (okay, I admit, I have the complete works of Agatha Christy, and I love to listen to Sue Grafton on long drives).

What are you reading now?

The Rembrandt Affair by Daniel Silva.

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

My publicist knows the industry better than I do, and she's better at promoting my books, however, I do have an author's page on Facebook (J.M. Mitchell), and a website for Prairie Plumb Press.

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

Book Passage, San Francisco, November 6
Book Works, Albuquerque, November 16
Moby Dickens Bookshop, Taos, Mystery Book Club, November 19

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

Have something to say, and don't overwrite it.

What is the best thing about this kind of writing?

In contrast to scientific and technical writing, I can let my imagination run wild. I can be more creative. I can let down my objectivity and tell you what I think, or rather, I can create circumstances where someone gets theirs in the end. If I think my protagonist is having a hard time of it, I can let him stumble onto a beautiful woman swimming in the creek, and I can find a way to make it important to the rest of the story.

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

Yes, Jack Chastain returns. Book three is nearly finished. I can't wait to share it with you.

THANKS J.M.!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George



Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers tugged the door of the super's office shut, walked stiffly past his secretary, and made her way into the corridor. She was white with rage.

– A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George. This is the first mystery in her series featuring Inspector Linley. Detective Havers is a Linley's sidekick.

I am enjoying this book and look forward to the rest of the series. I always like to read the books before I watch the TV or movie versions.




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

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Book Beginning: A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George



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 a solecism of the very worst kind.  He sneezed loudly, wetly, and quite unforgivably into the woman's face.

– A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George. This is the first mystery in her series featuring Inspector Linley.

I admit I had to look up "solecism" because I had only ever heard the term used to describe a grammatical mistake. I learned that solecism can also mean a breach of good manners.

I collected several Inspector Linley books from garage and library sales this summer, based on nothing more than watching one Linley BBC episode and hearing good things. I'm excited to finally start the books!




Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Five Faves: Food-Centered Memoirs


Food-centered memoirs are a big hit with me.  Reading these memoirs -- either classics or newer books -- is what makes the Foodies Read Challenge so much fun for me each year.

Here is a list of five of my particular favorite food memoirs:



FIVE FAVES

There are times when a full-sized book list is just too much; when the Top 100, a Big Read, or all the Prize winners seem like too daunting an effort. That's when a short little list of books grouped by theme may be just the ticket.

Inspired by Nancy Pearl's "Companion Reads" chapter in Book Lust – themed clusters of books on subjects as diverse as Bigfoot and Vietnam – I decided to start occasionally posting lists of five books grouped by topic or theme. I call these posts my Five Faves.

Feel free to grab the button and play along. Use today's theme or come up with your own. If you post about it, please link back to here and leave the link to your post in a comment. If you want to participate but don't have a blog or don't feel like posting, please share your list in a comment.

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