Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Book Pusher: May

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You know you need books for the summer... ;-)


THE TASTE OF AIR Gail Cleare: Women's Fiction

Life is short. Be happy. How long does it take to learn this deceptively simple idea? For Mary Reilly and her daughters it takes a cottage in Vermont.


LOOK LIVE Patricia McLinn: Mystery

With another snappily plotted mystery, McLinn extends her Caught Dead in Wyoming series into high tech and missing sons.



THE SCARLETT THREAD Francine Rivers: Christian Women's Fiction

Good story in an older style. A CBA classic. This is one of the best Christian Women's Fiction title available. Be sure to read with the time it was written in mind. 


UNSTRUNG Laura Spinella: Women's Fiction

This is one of the most amazing books I've read lately. Olivia Klein's life is both haunting and uplifting. I'm amazing and transported as only singing choral music has in my life. Her main character is a symphony violinist, and Spinella describes the feeling of providing the door knob into Heaven that I've experienced singing in a choir. An amazing read. Get this one! Read it now! You'll never forget it.

What are you afraid of? Check out "Time to be Honest About the Fear That's Getting in Your Way".

"How to Embrace Your Strengths--and Flaws--To Find Your Writing Voice" says it all.

By all means, read Chip MacGregor's answers for writers' questions.

Check this one out, too! "Literary Agents Aren't Dead, Part 1"

Next Post: IWSG, of course!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day: My Momma Had Words With Me

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Momma with my siblings and me
I do post this every year, but this year it's even more special. On April 29, I was honored to read "My Momma Had Words With Me" at Atlanta's Listen To Your Mother show.

Momma, I love you and honor your gift of the love of reading. And always will.
My Momma Had Words with Me


            I don’t know if it’s true anywhere else, but in the South, to “have words with” someone means to fuss, argue, or reprimand. My momma had another purpose for having words with me, for me, and around me. We didn’t discuss why people read or why it was important. My siblings and I just read. The power, magic, and glory of words surrounded us. No lectures were needed. No punishment was forthcoming to make us read. It was second nature to read. After all, our parents read in front of us every day. Momma focused on fiction while Daddy read the newspaper, biographies, and his professional journals.
So, it was all Momma’s fault that my father-in-law was shocked when my daddy built bookshelves that covered half the walls in our study from the floor to ten-foot ceiling. With wide eyes, he said, “No one has that many books!”
            My husband shrugged. “She does. Everyone in her family does.” He knew there would be no wasted space in our study.
            It was Momma’s fault that we take delight in words. She gave us no choice in the matter. From the time we were toddlers, we all had library cards and joined the summer reading program at the regional library branch in our home town. Every week, we checked out five books. All the librarians knew us by name.
How do you feed a growing reading habit? Momma knew. She made sure there were books to read that challenged us. She made reading more books fun and expected. When our abilities to read outstripped our ages and we needed bigger, more complex books, Momma checked out adult books for us on her own library card. As the school librarian at my elementary school, she found harder and harder books for me to read when I had read everything at the lower levels. I clearly remember reading Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson in the fifth grade. It was my first adult novel and I’ll never forget holding the large book and being carried away into the Southwest by the words.
In time, my siblings and I found our own preferred genres. When given a list of three hundred books for college-bound students in the 1960’s, we attacked it from different angles. The fact that the complete works of Shakespeare and the great Greek historians were available in our home, made it easy to get started. My sister loves literature. My brother has a taste for biography, science, history, and true life adventure books. I read history, fiction of all types, and poetry.
            As voracious readers, we are the people who keep bookstores—large, small and online—in business. We are the people who always have up-to-date library cards. Our to-be-read lists of new books and old favorites are extensive. None of us is bored as long as there is something to read. And that isn’t likely to happen if we live a thousand years.
            It’s Momma’s fault that there is a longstanding family joke about the end of civilization. If an asteroid or other near extinction event occurred, our combined libraries would form the basis for restarting science, math, history, and literature. We could quickly raise man’s knowledge back to its former heights.
            The majesty and beauty of the words I grew up with created the desire to shape and form my own stories, to create new adventures, new people to meet, and new places to go. Momma encouraged me. She kept the poetry I wrote as an eight-year-old. Her simple acceptance made no obstacle insurmountable. Her faith that I could do anything I wanted allowed me to experiment and try different styles. She not only taught me to love words, but the persistence it takes to shape, order, and arrange them in coherent ways. When she gave me the love of words, she gave me the tools to accomplish what I desired to do. She gave me the ability to tell stories that soothe hurts, inspire challenges, and entertain. My mother gave me life—physically, mentally, and emotionally. She gave me dreams and encouraged me to strive to reach for them. My mother gave me words to share and the persistence to achieve the dream of being a writer. She still encourages me to write and inspires me with her own voracious reading.
            Thank you, Momma, for having words with me. I love you.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

IWSG: May

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Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Co-Hosts:
Michelle Wallace
Nancy Gideon
Tamara Narayan
Liesbet @ Roaming About

Feather Stone

Question: What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?

Short Answer: Everything! ;-)

Long Answer:  Since I write contemporary Women's Fiction, the adjectives "weirdest" and "coolest" doesn't mean the same as I think it would to a writer of SF or Fantasy. My research is grounded in the reality of families. The saddest, most unforgettable, and important thing I've researched so far is the foster care system--both nationwide and in Georgia in particular. My stats are for back in 2006-2010, but there were 854 case workers over fourteen thousand children in foster care and under the watch of the Department of Family and Children Services.

As one of my characters says:
“When home becomes a war zone, the first casualties are the children.”

And: “Consider just one form of abuse—sexual. One in three girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused during their childhood, and only one in ten will tell someone about it."

There you have it. The sad state of our abused children and the families that need help. It's one of the reasons for my first WIP--MOTHER'S DAY--to show the need and the scope of the problem. It's a huge topic, but when you get to the nitty-gritty, it's about the children in the cracks.

So, you can see what research means to me. I'm a retired teacher, and I was a trained mandated reporter. I taught the children of the foster care system and the abused. I still worry about the ones in the system today.

It's research that makes that come alive in my story, and research that causes others to get involved in the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), as foster parents, or working to offer respite for the caregivers.

Next Post: A special return of my essay, "My Momma Had Words With Me." On Saturday, April 29, I was honored to be included in a cast of eleven marvelous women in the Atlanta Listen to Your Mother 2017 show. Check out my cast spotlight. We share essays of and about motherhood. It was a fabulous show!