Thursday, June 30, 2016

Book Beginning: Caught Bread Handed by Ellie Alexander



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.

TIE IN: The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING



MY BOOK BEGINNING



They say home is where the heart is.

Caught Bread Handed by Ellie Alexander. That's a teasing beginning for a mystery that finds amateur sleuth and small town baker Jules Capshaw contemplating a reunion with her ex-husband.

This is the fourth book in Alexander's Bakeshop Mystery series that is proving to be a treat for fans of culinary cozies.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Review: Honey in the Horn by H. L. Davis



There was a run-down old tollbridge station in the Shoestring Valley of Southern Oregon where Uncle Preston Shiveley had lived for fifty years, outlasting a wife, two sons, several plagues of grasshoppers, wheat-rust and caterpillars, a couple or three invasions of land-hunting settlers and real-estate speculators, and everybody else except the scattering of old pioneers who had cockleburred themselves onto the country at about the same time he did.

Honey in the Horn starts off with this shaggy, homespun sentence that sets the tone for the whole pioneer-themed story. H. L. Davis's classic coming-of-age novel about homesteading in Oregon in the early 1900s has charm enough to still win over readers with its continuous movement and steady introduction of quirky characters.

The story follows orphan Clay Calvert on a series of adventures around Oregon, from his first job on a sheep ranch, through the forests of the rain-sodden Columbia Gorge, to high deserts and wheat fields east of the Cascade Mountains. Davis celebrates the beauty of the Pacific Northwest and the diversity of her citizens and settlers.

Honey in the Horn won the 1936 Pulitzer Prize -- the only Pulitzer for an Oregon novel. Some of its social views don’t fly today, but it captures the pioneering spirit and history of its time. The new reprint edition from OSU Press features an introduction by Richard W. Etulain.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Teaser Tuesday: The Book that Matters Most



To Ava's surprise, when they got to the library, Luke was presiding over the drinks and snacks rather than Emma. He looked so young standing there in his silly hat that Ava actually blushed thinking about their foolish relationship.

The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle. Ava is getting a divorce after 25 years, so foolish relationships are par for the course!

The Book that Matters Most is a fun book with a little adventure, a book club theme, mother/daughter conflicts, and family mysteries -- all the ingredients for a perfect beach book.


Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB at Books and a Beat, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Author Interview: Ellie Alexander

Ellie Alexander writes a series of Bakeshop Mysteries set in Ashland, Oregon. The series features Jules Capshaw, owner of a bakery called Torte and, like beloved amateur sleuths through the ages, seems to stumble across a lot of dead bodies.


Ellie is launching the fourth book in the series, Caught Bread Handed, this coming Tuesday, June 28, in Vancouver, WA. There will be plenty of books and Bakeshop treats! Details here.


Ellie took time from her busy schedule to answer questions about her latest mystery, the writing life, and growing up in a home filled with books and baked goods:

You just released the fourth book in your Bakeshop Mystery Series, Caught Bread Handed. How did you get the idea for such a fun series?

Baking was always a love language in our house. My mom was a home baker who made everything from scratch—cakes, cookies, and fresh pies. My dad was more artistic in his baking. He would spend a Saturday making a dark chocolate cherry torte with whipped cream and chocolate shavings adoring the top.

My parents also loved to host parties. One of my favorite memories is of a Midsummer Night’s Dream Party they held in our backyard complete with Shakespearean food, Elizabethan costumes, and twinkle lights. I thought a little touch of Shakespeare and lots of delicious pastries would make a good pairing for a mystery. And, a small town bakeshop seemed like an ideal place to set the series because all of the locals come to Torte for a warm strawberry scone, a listening ear, and a side of gossip.

Why did you decide to set your series in Ashland, Oregon?

My dad taught honors English when I was growing up and is a huge Shakespeare aficionado. He had me quoting sonnets at a young age, and we went to Ashland many times to see productions at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I think Ashland is the perfect setting for a culinary cozy because it has touches of an old English village, but with plenty of Northwest culture. It’s such a unique place with a thriving community of artists, outdoor lovers, hikers from the PCT passing through, college students, tourist from all over the world, and retirees. Plus it has a thriving food, craft beer, and wine scene.

Because the focal point in town is the OSF, setting the books in Ashland allows me to add a touch of drama to the series. For example in Caught Bread Handed there is a character who dresses up like a court jester. That totally works in Ashland, but might turn heads somewhere else.

The titles of all your books are hilarious cooking/mystery puns: Meet Your Baker, A Batter of Life and Death, On Thin Icing, and now Caught Bread Handed. How do you come up with these funny titles?

Coming up with titles it one of my favorite things about writing the series. I have so much fun playing around with puns. Usually it ends up being organic. I’ll start with an idea for the book which will lead to the title. It’s a family affair and even my editor and the team at St. Martin’s come up with titles. Readers too! I was giving a library talk a few weeks ago and a reader came up with a brilliant title that I’m saving for a future book.

What do you admire most about your heroine, professional baker and amateur sleuth Jules Capshaw? What is her least endearing trait?

Well first and foremost I admire her talent when it comes to pastry. Baking is her medium and she believes that food should be infused with love. That comes through in everything she does and how she treats each customer who walks through Torte’s front door. I also think she’s a strong heroine. She returned to Ashland to heal her broken heart, but she isn’t broken, which is an important distinction. She’s finding her way home and finding herself, and that’s something I think we can all relate to.

I think her biggest challenge is getting out of her own head (something I struggle with too). She’s a thinker, which can be an asset when piecing together clues, but sometimes she needs to give herself a break when she’s worrying about what’s next. That’s why baking is a great outlet—when she’s kneading bread dough or tempering chocolate she has to be completely in the moment and absorbed in the sensory process.

Do you know right away, or have an idea, how you are going to end your stories? Or do the endings come to you as you are in the process of writing?

I do a ton of work before I actually start writing a first draft. I start by sketching out the actual murder and my list of suspects. Once I’ve figured out potential motives for each suspect and what they’re all lying about or hiding, then I write twenty to thirty page outlines so I have a very clear idea of where I’m going before I start writing. Usually the final book ends up pretty close to my initial outline, however I always give myself permission to see where the story takes me.

When I wrote Meet Your Baker, I thought I had the perfect killer and motive, but when I finished the first draft I realized that I loved the character I had pegged as the killer and I wanted to bring him back in a future book. That doesn’t really work if he’s sitting in jail, so I ended up re-working the entire plot.

What is your work background? How did it lead you to writing a mystery series featuring a professional baker as your sleuth?

Believe it or not my degree is in speech pathology. It seems like a strange mix, but there are many things I use from my work background in my writing. I had to spend a lot of time studying normal speech and language development to understand where it breaks down. I also learned how to be a good listener and take copious notes when I was working in the field. When I’m sketching out a new book, I’ll take a notepad and go sit in the corner of a coffee shop or bakery and watch and listen. How are the baristas talking, what the customers ordering, how are the chefs interacting etc. It really helps lend credibility to my writing and creates rich dialog. Be kind to your barista because you never know who might be listening!

What have you learned from writing your Bakeshop Mysteries – either about the subject of the books or the writing process – that most surprised you?

I’ve been surprised by how incredibly welcoming the baking community has been. I’m not a professionally trained pastry chef, so I’ve spent many hours interviewing and shadowing real chefs. They’ve all been so willing to share tips of the trade and even a few ways to kill someone in a commercial kitchen—yikes!

Were books an important part of your household when you were growing up?

Absolutely! My mom loved mysteries and would take me to the library once a week. I’d return home with a stack of books that I would devour. She read aloud to us when we were young and really embedded a love of reading. Thanks to both of my parents I have very eclectic taste when it comes to reading. I’ll read pretty much anything I can get my hands on from the classics to sci-fi.

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

Laura Ingalls Wilder, Jane Austen, Maude Lovelace, and Willa Cather. They all helped shape my writing style. I think our early reading experience frame our writing and it’s interesting that my four favorite authors all write about family. Even though the Bakeshop Mysteries are whodunits they really center around the idea of family and home.

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

I grew up reading mysteries. I started with Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden, and then one summer when I was about twelve or thirteen I read all of Agatha Christie’s books. I think throughout my teens and twenties I read every mystery on the shelves from Diane Mott Davidson to Sue Grafton.

The only con of writing mysteries that no one ever warned me about is that now it’s really hard for me to read mysteries, especially when I’m working on a new book. I tend to read a lot of non-fiction and historical fiction when I’m writing because I don’t want someone else’s plot or voice to get in my head.

What are you reading now?

The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop and Café by Mary Simes.

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

Meet every deadline! I think that those three words have much more meaning. Writing is a profession like anything else. Many aspiring writers assume that because writing is a creative profession that the same standards don’t apply, but they do. It’s the same as a doctor showing up three hours late for an appointment or an accountant missing the deadline to submit tax returns.

The advice that I always give aspiring writers it to take your work seriously, but don’t take yourself seriously.

What is the best thing about being a writer?

Meeting and hearing from readers who love my books. It still makes me smile and sometimes I have to pinch myself when I get an email from a reader halfway around the world about Jules and her team at Torte. I can’t believe that these fictional characters I created in my head have a life outside of me.

What does a typical writing day look like for you?

I write 2,000 words every day. Sometimes that takes me three or four hours and sometimes it takes all day. Once I finish my word count I get outside and go for a walk or hike to clear my head. I often find that the best ideas or breakthroughs happen when I’m not sitting in front of my laptop.

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

I think it’s really important to connect online and in the real world. Publishing has changed dramatically in the last decade and social media is essential for promotion and finding an audience for your books. Of course it’s all in balance. My number one priority is writing so my word count comes first, but I try to carve out time each day (even if it’s just a few minutes) to comment and share interesting links and giveaways with readers. It’s amazing to hear from readers in New Zealand or Germany who have discovered my books. My readers have become friends over the years too. I’m always touched by those personal connections. The same goes for doing launch events and book tours. I spend so much time in my own head with my fictional characters that it’s always a great break to meet people face to face or online.

Do you have any events coming up to promote Caught Bread Handed?

Yes! I’m having a launch party on Tuesday, June 28th at 6:00 in Vancouver, WA. We are recreating Torte and bringing the book to life with an artisan bread and pairing market. You can taste breads by local bakers, organic honey, savory sauces and much more. There will be complimentary infused water, swag, tons of baking themed giveaways, books, and wine available for purchase. The event is free. You can find all the details here.

Then I’ll be on tour for most of July with stops throughout Oregon, Northern and Southern California and Seattle.

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

The 5th book, Fudge and Jury, will come out at the end of the year. Jules and her team at Torte are going to be a showcase vendor at Ashland’s annual Chocolate Fest. If you’re a chocolate lover this is the book for you! My office looked like it had been hand-dipped in chocolate when I was working on the book.

I’m working on the 6th book as we speak, A Crime of Passionfruit. In this book Jules is heading back to the cruise ship for a short trip! It will be out in June 2017.

THANKS, ELLIE!

CAUGHT BREAD HANDED AND ELLIE'S OTHER BAKESHOP MYSTERIES ARE AVAILABLE ON-LINE OR ASK YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE TO ORDER THEM!


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Book Beginning: The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood



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.

TIE IN: The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING



MY BOOK BEGINNING



Ava saw it as soon as she turned the corner. She stopped, squinting as if that would change what she was looking at.

The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle. Ava's husband leaves her after 25 years. She joins a book club where each member chooses the book that matters most to them. The book Ava chooses will unravel secrets of her own traumatic past and help her adult daughter who is struggling in a destructive relationship of her own -- in Paris.

Does this sound like the PERFECT summer book or what?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Favorite Author: Amanda Cross



Amanda Cross is the pen name of Carolyn Gold Heilbrun, a tenured English lit professor at Columbia University. She wrote many non-fiction books under her own name, including a biography of Gloria Steinem. But she wrote her series of mystery novels featuring Kate Fansler, English professor and amateur sleuth, under her pen name.



There are 14 books in the Kate Fansler series. I started the series because I like the idea of an English professor solving mysteries. Duh. I was an English major.

I've only read the first two, which is why those titles are in red. The rest are in blue because they are all on my TBR shelf, because I've been a little compulsive about finding them all.


UPDATED December 17, 2016. The entire series belongs on my list of Campus Novels


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Teaser Tuesday: The Light of Paris



I was the one who had married him, and here he was, charging in on his white horse to rescue me. Or, more likely, to rescue himself.

The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown. When Madeleine's marriage hits a rough patch, she takes inspiration from her grandmother Margie's diary to spend an adventurous summer in Paris, reconnecting with her creative self. The book alternates between Madeleine's and Margie's stories.

Eleanor Brown wrote the bestselling novel, The Weird Sisters. She drew on the true story of her own grandmother's romantic trip to Jazz Age Paris in writing The Light of Paris.

I just added The Light of Paris to my French Connections list.


Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB at Books and a Beat, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Mailbox Monday: Caught Bread Handed by Ellie Alexander



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 it looks like a lot of fun:



Caught Bread Handed by Ellie Alexander. This is the fourth book in Alexander's Bakeshop Mystery series featuring baker sleuth Jules Capshaw and set in Ashland, Oregon.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Author Interview: Diana Abu-Jaber


Diana Abu-Jaber's new memoir, Life Without a Recipe: A Memoir of Food and Family, celebrates the author's cross-cultural heritage and examines how she built a whole life out of the different parts of family, marriage, career, and motherhood.


Diana recently answered questions for Rose City Reader:

You’ve written four novels and a previous memoir, The Language of Baklava. How did you come to write this new memoir, Life Without a Recipe?

It started with the title. When my daughter was still a baby, I was telling a friend about how much I was looking forward to cooking for Gracie. She stopped me and said: there’s the title of your next book -- Cooking for Grace. I ended up with a different title, but the idea of the book took hold right away. My first memoir was all wrapped up with my father and his cooking; I realized it was time to claim my own recipes, in a sense, to write my next life chapter. Life Without a Recipe is my grown up story -- about my attempt to create a creative life -- as a writer and a parent -- to see if I could begin to make my own path.

Your memoir is intensely personal, dealing as you do with your three marriages, the death or loved ones, and your decision to adopt a child in your forties. Did you have any qualms about sharing so much?

Oh yes! There was a time when my editor and I were calling it Three Weddings, Four Funerals, and a Baby. When I first started writing this memoir, my father-in-law and father were both still alive, my daughter was still a baby, we hadn’t moved, I hadn’t been diagnosed with high blood pressure, and so on. About two-thirds of the book’s contents happened while I was still writing it. And each of these big life events required me to undertake a kind of mental negotiation. At first, I didn’t even consider addressing my father’s death. Then it was sort of like, well, what if I just wrote about it for myself? Or my family? Through writing the book, I began to understand that it’s exactly the most difficult, elusive, private things that become the most central to one’s project. Any writer worth her salt knows the first rule is to dig deep, be brave, be honest. Otherwise, what does any of it matter?

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

Well, my novels generally come from story ideas -- a sort of what-if approach to story-telling. Eventually, certain kinds of thoughts, experiences, and characters may filter in from “real life,” but more as a way of enlarging the whole. My memoirs, on the other hand, are descriptions of lived experience. They’re such different animals to me, when I embark on one I feel committed to that genre and that approach.

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

Thank you! There are so many memoirs I admire, but just a few of my favorites are:


What are you reading now?

These days, I’m always reading a novel and some sort of health or nutrition book at the same time. Since I’ve started trying to control my blood pressure, it’s become a sort of hobby of mine. So right now I’m alternating reading The Little Red Chairs [by Edna O'Brien] and Controlling Heart Disease. A bit of a bipolar approach, I suppose, but the books are equally fascinating in their very different ways, they provide me with different literary nutrients, if you will -- mental and physical.

You have a terrific website and are active on twitter. From an author's perspective, how important are social networking sites and other internet resources to promote your books?

I wish I knew. For my own purposes, I love social media because writing is such solitary work, Twitter and other such sites provide a way to feel quickly and easily connected to others. And I enjoy how uncomplicated it is -- at least, my approach is. For those of us who don’t have to report to offices, sites like Twitter in particular can function as a sort of virtual water-cooler. As for selling books -- hmm, seems like the jury’s still out on that one.

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

I’ll be speaking at the Orlando Book Festival today, June 18th; Murder On the Beach Bookstore in Delray Beach, FL on August 10th; at Wordstock in Portland, OR, on November 5th; and the Miami Book Fair in mid-November. I try to keep my website events page updated with new events also.

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

  1. Read as much as you possibly can. Read the sorts of books you aspire to write.
  2. Trust your instincts. Nobody’s happy unless Mommy is happy.

What is the best thing about being a writer?

Freedom of the mind, the imagination, the spirit. The sense of making something new and personally meaningful is deeply gratifying and difficult. Writing stretches you -- it’s hard in all the ways that feel essential and most rewarding.

How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite?

Life Without a Recipe is my 6th published book, and I always seem to feel like my most recent work is my best. Second place would have to go to my novel Birds of Paradise, which required an enormous effort for me as a writer and artist -- when I finished that novel, it felt like I’d somehow written the sort of book I’d wanted to write for years.

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

Always. I have a young adult fantasy called SilverWorld which should be coming out next year. And I’m at work on the next novel, but it’s still too soon to unveil!

THANKS DIANA!
LIFE WITHOUT A RECIPE IS AVAILABLE ON-LINE AND AT MAJOR BOOKSTORES, OR ASK YOUR LOCAL STORE TO ORDER IT!




WEEKEND COOKING



Thursday, June 16, 2016

Book Beginning: The Light of Paris



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.

TIE IN: The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING



MY BOOK BEGINNING



I didn't set out to lose myself. No one does, really.

The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown. Brown's new novel of Jazz Age Paris is based in part on the story of her own grandmother, who spend an adventurous summer in Paris in the 1920s.

Eleanor Brown's bestselling debut, The Weird Sisters, won popular and critical acclaim. The Light of Paris has all the makings of an equally successful novel.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Teaser Tuesday: Miss Jane by Brad Watson



So in the fall of 1932, when she was sixteen going on seventeen, she went to live with Grace in town. Grace's personality hadn't changed much, but it did seem that she took things easier here, on her own.

Miss Jane by Brad Watson. Watson based his new novel on the story of his own great aunt, who was born in rural Mississippi in 1915. She had a rare congenital condition that made sex and childbearing impossible for her. This is the beautiful story of how she lead a fulfilling, solitary life despite her physical limitations.


Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB at Books and a Beat, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.


Thursday, June 9, 2016

Book Beginning: Miss Jane by Brad Wilson



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.

TIE IN: The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING



MY BOOK BEGINNING



You would not think someone so afflicted would or could be cheerful, not prone to melancholy or the miseries. Early on she acquired ways of dealing with her life, with life in general.

Miss Jane by Brad Watson. Watson's new novel is inspired by the true story of the author's great aunt, a woman born in 1915 in rural Mississippi, who never married because of a birth defect, but lived a rich, if quiet, life nonetheless.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Author Interview: Wendy Gordon



Wendy Gordon's debut novel, Wrong Highway, gives fresh energy to the story of a frazzled suburban mom trying to meet her family obligations and what happens when she takes that first wrong turn.

Wrong Highway comes out this week. Wendy Gordon will launch the book at Powell's Books in Portland on June 15, 2016 at 7:30. She is also having a reading and book signing at Book Revue in Huntington, Long Island on June 21 at 7:00.


Wendy recently took time from her busy book launching activities to answer questions for Rose City Reader:

The book takes place in 1980s and has a strong ‘80s vibe. Why did you choose to set your novel 30 years in the past?

The eighties fascinate me. While most decades bleed into one another (the “sixties” for instance, really refer to the late sixties and early seventies) the eighties began and ended right on schedule. Eighties culture was distinctive—brash, artificial, over the top, hopeful in its own energetic way—yet carrying within it the seeds of its own destruction.

Many of Wrong Highway’s themes are timeless, but I do not think that particular story could take place today. Too many things have changed, many of which were barely imagined thirty years ago—cell phones, the internet, social media. I think it is harder to keep secrets now.

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 always had the ending image in my mind—baby Sophia overwhelmed and exhilarated by the abundance of “doggies”, and Erica following her. The rest came to me during the writing process.
I am a fan of ambiguous endings. Life is way too complex, mysterious and open ended. Good deeds aren’t always rewarded and bad deeds aren’t always punished. And what constitutes good or bad may be a debatable question.

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

That in order to write a riveting story I could hold nothing back. My characters needed to take big risks, and in the process forced me to become ever more soul-baring in my writing. I felt like the story was always out there, and if I stripped away enough defenses, I could find it.

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

I have two degrees in clinical nutrition and write restaurant reviews, recipes, and articles on health and nutrition, as well as human interest feature articles. My other “day job” is that of a mother and homemaker. My youngest (of four) is now sixteen, but I help care for my four preschool granddaughters so young children are still a big part of my life.

While I enjoy writing nonfiction, I find it limiting. I’ve always been an observer and a storyteller, without a super literal take on reality. I’ve written fiction since I was a little kid but did not have the confidence to call myself a “writer.” Gradually the compulsion to put down my stories on paper became too strong too ignore.

Were books an important part of your household when you were growing up?

Oh, yes. My father was a professor and my mother a librarian. Books spilled over every surface of our house. I taught myself to read when I was three.

My father adored bookstores and every time he visited Portland he announced he was “going to make a visit to Mr. P” (Powell's). I wish he was alive today to hear me do a reading there.

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

As a teenager I was a big fan of Hermann Hesse. I’ve re-read several of his novels recently, together with my teenage son and they are just as visionary forty years later.

Generally I like books that are accessible and page turning while still probing deeply into people, relationships and society. I like books that shake me out of my comfort zone, keep me awake at night, and leave me a little different than I was before I read them. A few favorite authors; Donna Tartt, Margaret Atwood, Andre Dubus (both father and son), Janet Fitch, Deborah Eisenberg.

What are you reading now?

I just finished the The Girls, by Emma Cline, which was fantastic. I am currently reading The Reasons I Won’t be Coming, by Elliot Perlman.

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

Internet sources are one of the best things going for book promotion. They are the best way to reach your wider circle of friends and acquaintances as well as the general public. I have been surprised and pleased at the response I’ve gotten so far.

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

I am reading at Powell's downtown in Portland, OR, on Wednesday, June 15; at the Book Revue in Huntington, NY, on June 21; and Broadway Books in Portland, OR, on September 21.

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

Write every day. Hold nothing back.

What is a typical writing day like for you?

I try and write for a couple hours every day, whenever those open hours arise.

What is the best thing about being a writer?

Creating characters in my head and bringing them to life on paper. My character Erica says that “childbirth is the best rush ever.” I agree, but writing fiction comes close.

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

I have two projects going. One is turning a screenplay I wrote in 1999 into a novel. The other is a novel entitled It’s Always 9:11 because whenever I look at the clock, that’s the time it seems to be.

THANKS WENDY!

WRONG HIGHWAY IS AVAILABLE ON JUNE 10 ON-LINE OR ASK YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE TO ORDER IT.


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Teaser Tuesday: Life Without a Recipe by Diana Abu-Jaber



But I haven't written. Not for two, three, four months: This becomes frightening to me.

-- Life Without a Recipe: A Memoir of Food and Family by Diana Abu-Jaber.

Diana Abu-Jaber has written four novels and one prior memoir, The Language of Baklava. Her new memoir, Life Without a Recipe, honestly explores what what it takes to build a whole life out of the different parts of family, marriage, career, and motherhood.

Diana writes a lot about food in this book, because food was so central to her family life growing up and her relationship with her adopted daughter. The book does not include recipes, but Diana shared this recipe for a simple dish her Jordanian father ("Bud") liked to make.

JORDANIAN EGGS

You can make these eggs in a snap. Good for lunch or dinner too, they’re quick and full of flavor. Use the ripest tomatoes available. Serves 2-4

4 large eggs
2 garlic cloves, well mashed
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon sumac
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 ripe chopped tomato
Optional: grated parmesan cheese.

Stir mashed garlic with some salt, pepper, red-pepper flakes, cumin, sumac and the oil in a small bowl. Heat frying pan over medium heat then pour in the oil mix and heat for a minute. Stir in the tomato and fry for a minute or two—don’t let garlic get too brown.

Crack eggs into a small bowl then add to pan and fry—you can break the yolks and let them swirl into the white like Bud does, or just let the yolks set in place. Just before done, you can sprinkle some parmesan cheese over the top.

Great served with warm pita or baguette and oil-cured black olives.



Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB at Books and a Beat, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.

Monday, June 6, 2016

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 got one book for work last week and three for fun:



Know Tiny Secrets: How To Keep Your Body Private and Safe by Latasha Fleming with illustrations by Colleen Madden.

This is a book for parents to read with their 4 - 9 year olds to teach them how to be safe from sex abuse in an age-appropriate way. It is very well done and is available in paperback or Kindle. Learn more at www.knowtinysecrets.com.



Diary of a Provincial Lady by E. M. Delafiel. Published in 1930, Diary is a humorous account of the domestic life of a middle class British wife and mother.



God's Pocket by Pete Dexter. This is his debut novel, reprinted. I've read his more famous Paris Trout and The Paperboy, so I'll try this one, although I think they made a movie out of it that I couldn't get through.



The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession by Susan Orlean. I've never read this.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Book Beginning: Life Without a Recipe by Diana Abu-Jaber



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.

TIE IN: The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING



MY BOOK BEGINNING



The air was shaking. That's what it felt like – enormous, roaring machinery, prowling over the street.

-- Life Without a Recipe: A Memoir of Food and Family by Diana Abu-Jaber. The opening scene describes a six-year-old's vivid memory pretty clearly.

Diana Abu-Jaber's new memoir embraces the mess and struggle of growing up and learning to live your own life, not according to the "recipes" you learned as a child.




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