Thursday, April 27, 2017

Book Beginning: The Hour of Daydreams by Renee Macalino Rutlidge

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!


MY BOOK BEGINNING



They whisper that my mother was not one of us, and whatever she was disappeared beneath a pair of wings.


Manolo watched his new bride and felt like he had stolen the luck of the gods.

-- Chapter 1, "Stolen Luck."

This debut novel, inspired by a Filipino folktale, weaves together the perspectives of a new family -- the husband and wife, their child, his parents, and an all-seeing housekeeper -- as build a life and wrestle with the past.





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, Instagram, 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







Monday, April 24, 2017

Mailbox Monday: The Hour of Daydreams and Library Sale Loot

What books came into your house last week? One new release from Forest Avenue Press came to me that looks super cool:



The Hour of Daydreams by Renee Macalino Rutledge. This debut novel reimagines Filipino folklore in the setting of a contemporary marriage. It looks wonderful!

And I got a great little shelf of new books at the Multnomah County Friends of the Library spring book sale, which I won't list, but here's a picture. What looks good?






Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday, a weekly "show & tell" blog event where participants share the books they acquired the week before. Visit the Mailbox Monday website to find links to all the participants' posts and read more about Books that Caught our Eye.

Mailbox Monday is graciously hosted by Leslie of Under My Apple Tree, Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit, and Vicki of I'd Rather Be at the Beach.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Book Beginning: Spotted Dick, S'il Vous Plait



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, Instagram, 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



Lugdunum, ancient capital of Gaul, Roman town, medieval centre of culture, city of science, learning, medicine and theology . . . Lyon has many claims to fame.

Spotted Dick S'il Vous Plait: An English Restaurant in France by Tom Higgins. I love memoirs about British or American expats hauling off to sunnier climes, and I love restaurant memoirs -- this combines both. Perfect!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: Kinship of Clover by Ellen Meeropol



The plants weren't touching any of the other students. Just him, and he had better get out of here.
--  Kinship of Clover by Ellen Meeropol

In her new novel, Kinship of Clover, Ellen Meeropol explores how individuals are inspired to try to change what they cannot accept about the world, even while they grapple with their own limitations.



Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by The Purple Booker, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Author Interview: Ellen Meeropol


Ellen Meeropol is the author of two previous novels, House Arrest and On Hurricane Island. Her new novel, Kinship of Clover, puts a human face on some big topics, like the environment and mental illness.



Ellen recently answered questions for Rose City Reader:

How did you come to write Kinship of Clover?

I wrote this novel because two of the characters wouldn’t leave me alone. Jeremy and Zoe, who were children in my first novel, House Arrest, kept whispering to me, “Don’t you want to know what happened to us?” Of course, I did want to know. In House Arrest, Jeremy was nine and Zoe was five; their families were intertwined in complicated ways. I’m fascinated by the way children are affected by the big events in their families and the world. Imagining the Jeremy and Zoe eleven years after the end of the first novel, as they grow into adulthood, gave me the opportunity to further explore how individuals are inspired to change things in the world, things they simply can’t accept.

What is your background? How did it lead you to writing novels?

I worked as a registered nurse and then a pediatric nurse practitioner for almost 30 years. Throughout my life, I’ve been a voracious reader, primarily of literary fiction. I always wanted to write, and always dabbled a bit, but never took that desire seriously until the year 2000. As I arranged a two-month min-sabbatical so that my husband could write a nonfiction book, I saw my opportunity. On an island off the coast of Maine, I started writing stories. Those two months changed my life. Three years later I started a low-residency MFA program, five years later I left my day job, and eleven years later my first novel was published.

You use unforgettable imagery in your story, including vines burrowing into nine-year-old Jeremy’s skin and plants whispering in his ear. What are some of the themes these images are meant to invoke?Did you know how Kinship of Clover would end?

I’m not a very cerebral writer. I don’t use an outline and rarely know where a story is going when I begin. I follow the Kurt Vonnegut school of writing fiction; he said that, “We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” So no, I had no idea of how Kinship of Clover would end. Honestly, I wasn’t sure for a long time whether the imagery of the vines burrowing under Jeremy’s skin made sense. But by the time the first draft was completed, I understood that breaching the barrier between plants and humans, like bridging the gaps between the generations and the races and disabled/able-bodied people, is a big part of what this novel is about.

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

Two things surprised me writing this novel. First of all, early in the writing, elements of magical realism snuck in – primarily those burrowing vines you mentioned. While I’ve loved reading novels in which elements of fantasy show up in a primarily realistic setting, I never planned to write that way. But one thing I’ve learned is to simply trust the process. So I wrote, not knowing if the vines were “real” or not, but hoping that by the end of the writing and revision process, I would understand why it happens. The second surprise was the use of omniscient point of view. I had been interested in trying that, but was intimidated. The surprising part was that I loved being able to both delve deep into several characters’ perspectives and to step way back, and look at the big picture from time to time. Again, it meant trusting that the process – just writing the manuscript and not worrying too much about the final product – would get me someplace new and worth going.

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

I read a lot of contemporary fiction, and am always finding new favorite authors, like Yaa Gyasi and Mohsin Hamid recently. Some of my long-time beloved authors are Rosellen Brown and Andrea Barrett and Ann Pancake and Paule Marshall and Octavia Butler. And yes, these writers have definitely influenced me. I love how each of them write fiction that balances on the tightrope between big issues and authentic characters. I love how their books are both provocative and tender, never letting the big issues addressed in the book overpower their characters and the story. Ann Pancake taught me never to rant. Andrea Barrett modeled creating a universe of characters who populate novels and stories over the years, like old friends who you never forget.

What are you reading now?

I work part-time at an independent bookstore where one of my jobs is to read fiction four or five months before publication, to help select titles for the bookstore’s First Edition Club. Right now I’m reading Elizabeth Strout’s new linked story collection, Anything is Possible and I recently finished Jeff Vandermeer’s Borne and Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West. All three are amazing reads.

What do you do to promote your books? Do you use social networking sites or other internet resources? Do you have any events coming up to promote your book?

I love doing events – readings in bookstores and libraries – and book groups, as well as my Facebook pagetwitter, and my website. Lots of events are being planned. Check them out on my website events page.

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

I’m close to finished with my fourth novel, tentatively titled Her Sister’s Tattoo. This was actually the first novel manuscript I wrote but it was too complicated, encompassing 50 years in the lives of two sisters, activists who were estranged over a major political disagreement. So I put it away, started an MFA program, and wrote three other novels. After each book, I’d revisit the sisters and do another draft or four, but still couldn’t get it right. Finally, after about 17 years, I think it’s close to ready and I’m very excited to bring Esther and Rosa into the world.


THANKS ELLEN!

KINSHIP OF CLOVER IS AVAILABLE ONLINE, OR ASK YOUR LOCAL BOOKSELLER TO ORDER IT!


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Book Beginning: Make Me by Lee Child



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, Instagram, 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



Moving a guy as big as Keever wasn't easy. It was like trying to wrestle a king-sized mattress off a waterbed.

Make Me by Lee Child. This is the 20th Jack Reacher book.

I'm a big fan and I'm enjoying this one enough. But I'm two-thirds of the way through and I'm still waiting for the plot to gel. And I'm getting a little tired of Reacher books that start with him in a two-track town in the middle of Nebraska. Make Me came out in 2015 and I am only reading it now because, based on the description, I was sure I had read it already.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Author Interview: Susan DeFreitas


Susan DeFreitas was born in Michigan, lived in Arizona, then moved to Portland, where she now writes realistic fiction and sci-fi. Her debut novel, Hot Season, has generated plenty of high praise in book circles. She's one to keep an eye on!


Susan recently answered questions for Rose City Reader. You can also listen to a long interview of Susan on Between the Covers.


How did you come to write Hot Season?

I wrote the stories that would become the chapters of this novel during the course of my MFA at Pacific University. I had just moved to Portland from Prescott, Arizona, where I had lived for the past fourteen years, and I suppose these stories were portraits of people and places and experiences from that time in my life I wanted both to pay homage to and make sense of.

What is your professional background? How did it lead you to writing fiction?

I began writing fiction as soon as I was old enough to read it. My first stories were mysteries—by the time I was in junior high, it was fantasy and science fiction. But I had an English teacher who insisted I write realist fiction in his class. I thought it was snobbish at the time, and I still do, but it did lead to me to attending a boarding school, in my senior year of high school, for the arts.

I took a break in my study of creative writing between undergrad and graduate school—during which wrote for magazines, directed an arts nonprofit, and wrote marketing copy—but I was always working on a novel. In my early thirties, I decided to go back to school for fiction.

What is the significance of the title? Does it have a personal meaning for you besides its connection to the story?

Hot season in central AZ is not quite summer. It comes on with a vengeance around the end of April and tends to hit its apex right around the Fourth of July. That’s when the monsoons begin, and the rain cuts down on both the danger of wildfire and the heat.

But in those parched two months leading up to the monsoons, there’s a hallucinatory quality to the heat, as well as a real sense of danger. I found it an apt metaphor for the paranoia around government surveillance in this novel, as well as the sparks of attraction that fly between its characters. Hot season is also the time of year when much of the novel is set.

How closely does the plot of Hot Season hew to the real events that inspired the story?

The outlaw activist around whom much of the plot revolves is based on a real person, Bill Rogers, who was part of a group of radical activists based out of Eugene, Oregon, in the nineties, which was responsible for some of the largest acts of so-called terrorism in US history, totaling $45 million in damages. Like the character Dyson in the book, Bill was a graduate of Prescott College, my alma mater, and he, like Dyson, did establish an activist center that was raided by the FBI.

There are also some characters and circumstances based on the time when I owned a house in the barrio of Prescott and rented rooms to college students, all of them younger women. But that’s where the similarities end; in many ways, the book is an imagined version of their lives, as I graduated college in 2000, before the era when the novel is set.

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?

Because these chapters started off as short stories, my process with this novel was a little different than is typical. The story that would become the title chapter—the final chapter of the book—was probably the third or fourth piece I wrote in grad school, in my first semester. I had the feel of it, the swing and sound of it, the aesthetic and the images, before I really had any idea what the story was about.

To get that—i.e., who these characters were, what they were doing together, and what these events were, in fact, the resolution of—I had to go back and discover the bones of the book, the plot. I had to develop the arcs and the through lines, the threads of connection that would converge there. But did I always know that piece was the ending? Absolutely.

Hot Season has been compared to another college novel, Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. The eco-sabotage storyline is reminiscent of Jim Harrison’s A Good Day to Die. How do you feel about these kinds of literary comparisons?

Donna Tartt is brilliant, so any comparison to her is welcome. =) And I do think the comparison to The Secret History holds, in that college is a time, I believe, when we’re both really smart and really dumb—a time when a philosophy or idea or commitment can get ahold of you in a way that may define, for better or worse, the rest of your life.

I’m also happy you brought up Jim Harrison, as I am a native of the Great Lakes State. But in contrast to A Good Day to Die—and that other rollicking, wisecracking classic of eco-sabotage, The Monkey Wrench Gang—this is a novel first and foremost about women, young women in particular. As such, it’s not so much about high-stakes heroics as it is about the being willing to dedicate your life and career, early on, to incremental changes in culture and society that you may not even live to see. That, to me is real courage, and it’s completely unglamorous. Megan Burbank noted in her review of the book in the Portland Mercury, that Hot Season “depict[s] social agitation as, really, what it is: a gradual, infuriating, complex effort performed by smart, dedicated, flawed humans to varying degrees of commitment and success.” I really consider that the essence of what I’m getting at here.

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

I learned how to build a novel out of linked stories. Not just linked stories billed as a novel (increasingly fashionable these days) but a novel with real arcs, real stakes, and resolutions. For me as a writer, that often means looking at the end of the story and determining what needs to be set up in the beginning.

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

Alberto Luis Urrea: “Nil carborundum illegitimi—don’t let the bastards wear you down.” =)

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

As an author, I’m influenced by all sorts of authors, and my favorites include Ursula K. Le Guin, Denis Johnson, and Lydia Millet. But this particular book was most directly influenced by Ed Abbey and John Nichols, as well as the punk writer Aaron Cometbus.

What kind of books do you like to read? What are you reading now?

I write both realist fiction and speculative fiction, so my tastes are all over the map. But right now I’m really enjoying the work of an author who’s new to me, Laura Pritchett—her latest novel, The Blue Hour, set in small-town Colorado, is just a dream. I’m also enjoying revisiting the weirdness of Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link.

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

I’m a big fan of Jane Friedman, so I knew, long before I signed the contract for my first book, that I needed to own the domain associated with my name. I also used to work as a journalist and blogger, so I know how important it is to ensure that all the info these time-strapped folks need to cover us can easily be found in one place. That’s why I have all of my press materials—as well as links to all of my reviews and interviews—online at susandefreitas.com.

As for my Facebook and Twitter pages, I consider them not just a place to share my own news and views but links to articles of interest and to the work of other authors I love. That kind of literary citizenship interests me more than “look at me!” all the time (though I do think there’s a thrill for readers in sharing the writer’s journey). As for how important social media is—how else would anyone know about me or what I’m doing? Unless they happened to find me in person? In this day and age, social media is the marketplace of ideas, the big town square where we gather to discuss the issues of the day. Though it has its vagaries, I can’t imagine not wanting to be part of that discussion.

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

Yes! In fact, I have a bit of a Northwest mini-tour set up for April, both as an author and an editor. Here are my upcoming dates (click links for details):

4-8-17:  Panel Appearance and Editing Consultations at IBPA's Publishing University (Portland, OR)
4-11-17:  Author Appearance at Broadway Books (Portland, OR)
4-17-17:  Group reading for the City of Weird anthology at Post 134 (Portland, OR)
4-18-17:  Author Appearance at Annie Bloom’s (Portland, OR)
4-20-17:  Group Reading at Another Read Through (Portland, OR)

Upcoming events can be found on the home page of my website.

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

Right now, I’m working on a series of speculative short stories with a strong sense of place in the three states I’ve called home—Michigan, Arizona, and Oregon—called Dream Studies, a project that’s being supported by my Patreon subscribers. I’m also preparing to dig back into the next novel in the series that begins with Hot Season, which is called World’s Smallest Parade.


THANKS, SUSAN!

HOT SEASON IS AVAILABLE ON LINE,
OR ASK YOU LOCAL BOOKSELLER TO ORDER IT!


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Book Beginning: Back Roads by Tawni O'Dell



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, Instagram, 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

All those times me and Skip tried to kill his little brother, Donny, were just for fun.

-- Back Roads by Tawni O'Dell. This has been sitting on my TBR shelf since Oprah picked it for her Book Club back in 2000!

Good first line. It sets the mood by giving an idea of what the main character is like.



Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: Hot Season by Susan DeFreitas



Arin sipped her tea, as if choosing her words. "He was part of the crew that blew the Snoquomish Dam."

Hot Season by Susan DeFreitas. Three women studying at an environmental liberal arts college in Arizona have to decide where to draw the line when it comes to love, trust, and radical politics.

Huffington Post, Book Nudge, and and some pretty cool authors have praised DeFreitas's timely debut novel, including comparing it to Donna Tartt's campus classic, The Secret History. Listen to a long interview of Susan DeFreitas on Between the Covers.

Susan DeFreitas will be in Portland on April 7 & 8, 2017 as a panelist and editing consultant at IBPA's Publishing University, the annual publishing conference for self-published authors, indie authors, and independent publishers.

DeFreitas will also be doing a reading at Broadway Books in Portland on April 11, 2017 at 7:00 PM.



Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by The Purple Booker, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.

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