How old do you feel? Time to Reflect.

Recently, I felt the need to journal and reflect. But where to start? I recalled a social media post I read a few months ago that offered a list of questions. As usually happens, though, I couldn’t recall exactly when I read the post or the people involved in the discussion.

However, the list included the kind of questions Laurie Buchanan, a holistic health practitioner and transformational life coach, shares on her blog Tuesdays with Laurie. I took a shot and contacted her.

note-to-self_finalLaurie generously sent a list of 365 questions that form the core of one chapter of her soon-to-be-published book Note to Self. From the book cover:

Note to Self is about offloading emotional baggage – something that’s especially important when we realize that we don’t just pack for one, we pack for seven of our selves – self-preservation, self-gratification, self-definition, self-acceptance, self-expression, self-reflection, and self-knowledge. Each plays a vital role in harmony, overall health, and well-being.

Exploring one question

I chose this question from Laurie’s list: How old do you feel?

To begin, I catalogued my physical aches and pains of the last three years, including how breaking my wrist caused me to go from healthy to  invalid. The transition occurred in my brain, since the wrist healed quickly, and I recovered full movement. The broken wrist became an excuse to exercise less, to question my balance, to move cautiously instead of with confidence, to begin to see myself as “old.”

Understanding I had no legitimate physical reason to feel old, the catalogue led to an exploration of what I’ve done to regain control of my health – from ears to feet to core strength to weight.

All this led to what society and the media have to say about age. What they say someone who’s nearing 70 years can and can’t do. The decidedly mixed societal messages caused me to affirm that how old I feel can be my own decision, not one imposed by others.

So then I journaled about what I want to be able to do with my life. A long list included things like playing with my granddaughters, traveling, hiking, riding bike, gardening, having enough energy to do whatever I feel like doing. All activities associated with good health.

Concluding that barring serious illness, “old” is a state of mind, I meandered into the positive sides of being “old.” I realized I’m Old Enough:

  • to have enjoyed a good long career doing something I loved.
  • to have made some good friends; to know what a friend means, and to value having and keeping them.
  • to have figured out (finally) what I want to do while I’m still able to do it.
  • to have made lots of mistakes, learned from them, and be young enough to make more mistakes, but maybe handle them better now that I’m old enough.
  • to know I’m lucky to be as healthy as I am, to live where I do, to have the life I have.

While feeling old may be a physically-imposed reality, barring that, feeling old appears to be more of a state of mind. I don’t “feel” 68 any more than I “felt” 40 or 17. If I even know that that means. Some comparative measure against others, societal expectations or my own, I suppose.

After pausing to reflect, I realize I don’t feel any particular age.

I feel like me.

The result of reflection

What a journey, Laurie’s question inspired – journaling for three days and returning in thought to the topic repeatedly since. After pausing to reflect, I realize how much of age is perspective. Reflecting reminded me again to be grateful.

Laurie Buchanan, author of "Note to Self"

Laurie Buchanan’s philosophy is “whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”

If even half of the questions unlock such self discovery, I’ll be journaling not for 365 days but for several years. I pre-ordered Laurie’s book Note to Self and I encourage you to check it out too.

How old do you feel? What impacts your attitude about age? What tools do you use to reflect?

The Mystery of a Mystery – M.K. Tod

M.K. Tod wrote and indie-published two successful historical novels set during World War I. Her newest novel Time and Regret – published this month by Lake Union Publishing – stays true to Tod’s historical expertise while branching into new territory – mystery.TodMK-TimeandRegret-22790-CV-FT

Writing in a new genre stretches an author, and as a fan of her historical writing, I’m pleased to report that Tod not only stays true to her historical fiction core but also does a fine job weaving in a mystery. To read my review, click here.

I asked her to share her thoughts on why mysteries are so appealing and how she worked that into her new novel. This is what she said.

The Mystery of a Mystery
by M.K. Tod

Attracted by the front cover, you take the book off the shelf, peruse the brief description on the back and decide, yes, this is my type of book. A mystery.

Mysteries conjure excitement, the thrill of danger, the nail-biting question of will they or won’t they solve it in time. And then there’s the thrill of sleuthing as you become the detective, the cop, or the amateur accidentally stuck in the midst of a crime.

My new novel – Time and Regret – is a mystery with multiple timelines and a romance to sweeten the deal. In writing it – my first mystery – I’ve had to think a lot about this genre’s enduring appeal.

What is it about mysteries that makes them so satisfying? Why do some people read almost nothing else? Author Melissa Bourbon Ramirez offers this opinion: “I think one reason people love reading mysteries is because they are a safe thrill, kind of like roller coasters when you’re a kid.  They’re a safe adventure, as well.  Just as in any other type of book, we get to visit exotic or interesting places.  You can see the dark side of people, but you know that justice will prevail.  Good will overcome evil.”

Author Nancy Curteman has a different take: “Mystery readers are intelligent people. The mystery story appeals to their sense of curiosity. They enjoy action. They love to analyze the psychological makeup and motivational drives of characters. Most mystery readers are as interested in how and why a crime is committed as they are in who committed it. Sifting through clues and red herrings as the story progresses adds challenge.”

Other reasons have been put forward: to understand the behavior of criminals and the criminal mind; to live the intense emotions involved in crime; to vicariously experience a world of suspense, secrets, excitement and danger; to create order out of disorder and justice out of crime.

And then there’s the detective—typically a flawed but heroic figure who overcomes major obstacles while often making a mess of his or her own life. We can see ourselves in this individual and we root for them to successfully solve the crime while resolving some of their own life problems.

Here’s the premise of Time and Regret.

Time and Regret: A cryptic letter. A family secret. A search for answers.
When Grace Hansen finds a box belonging to her beloved grandfather, she has no idea it holds the key to his past—and to long buried secrets. In the box are his World War I diaries and a cryptic note addressed to her. Determine to solve her grandfather’s puzzle, Grace follows his diary entries across towns and battle sites in northern France, where she becomes increasingly drawn to a charming French man—and is suddenly aware that someone is following her.

When I set out to write Time and Regret, I didn’t fully appreciate the expectations involved. Gradually, I added more to the story: more subtle clues, more plot twists, more danger, more violence, more dead ends. I made my heroine more conflicted and gave her a difficult childhood and I added flaws to my other characters. I wrote and rewrote and rewrote the ending.

Does it work? Will it satisfy the needs of mystery readers? Readers will be the judge because another thing I’ve discovered is that no two readers are the same—and that is the biggest part of the mystery of writing.

Find Time and Regret on Amazon:

Amazon US 

Amazon Canada 

Amazon UK 

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union on August 16, 2016. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Google Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.

The Seven Year Dress – Devastation & Resilience

Today, I introduce you to Paulette Mahurin and her new WWII-era novel, The Seven Year Dress.

The Seven Year Dress covers one of the darkest times in human history from the perspective of one Jewish woman who lived to tell her story.TSYD-FRONT COVER The Seven Year Dress KINDLE(1) copy

The narrative tells how teenager, Helen Stein, and her family were torn apart as Hitler put in motion his plan to eliminate the Jews and other undesirables. With the help of one of those “undesirables,” a German boy who was also homosexual, Helen and her brother went into hiding for several years. Ultimately, they were discovered and Helen was interred in Auschwitz.

It was in that death camp that Helen suffered persecution, torture, and devastation at the hands of the Nazis. It was also in the death camp that she encountered compassion, selfless acts of kindness, and friendship. Ultimately, this is a story of the resilience of the human spirit.

The atrocities committed by the Nazis against the Jews aren’t easy to read about, but the story Mahurin tells in The Seven Year Dress is too important to miss. Click to read my review.

Telling stories for a purpose

Mahurin has written a number of books, most of them historical fiction. Her passion for telling stories supports another of her passions. The profits from all her books go to help rescue dogs from kill shelters. She tells me that so far this year, sales of her books have helped rescue 79 dogs.

More about Paulette Mahurin:

Paulette Mahurin lives with her husband Terry and two dogs, Max and Bella, in Ventura County, California. She grew up in West Los Angeles and attended UCLA, where she received a Master’s Degree in Science.

While in college, she won awards and published her short-stories. One of these stories, Something Wonderful, was based on the couple presented in His Name Was Ben, which she expanded into a novel in 2014. Her first novel, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, made it to Amazon bestseller lists and won awards, including best historical fiction of the year 2012 in Turning the Pages Magazine. Her third novel, To Live Out Loud, won international critical acclaim and made it to multiple sites as favorite read book of 2015.

Links to Mahurin’s books & more

Purchase The Seven Year Dress on Amazon

Check out all of Paulette Mahurin’s books on Amazon

Find Mahurin:

Blog:

Facebook
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Learn more about Mahurin’s efforts to help dogs

A different kind of book review – Deeply Odd

Memoirs and historical fiction are my normal reading choices. But every so often, I enjoy trying something different. Recently I caught a Dean Koontz interview on the CBS Sunday Morning show. Though I’d seen his books on bookstore and library shelves, I’d never cracked one open. A recent road trip gave me plenty of listening time, so I chose Deeply Odd, from Koontz’s Odd Thomas series.Deeply-Odd-MM

If you haven’t read any of the books, here’s the premise: Odd Thomas is a young man who can see and talk to dead people. He uses this skill to combat evil in the living world. In the process, he helps these dead people, including such luminaries as Elvis Presley and Alfred Hitchcock, resolve whatever earthly issues they have so they can pass on.

As a reader, I found the story a real page turner – or since I was on the road – a miles burner. As a writer, I was blown away by Koontz’s skill.  So here, in a book review of a different type – are some of the techniques I noticed in Deeply Odd and Brother Odd, another book from the series.

Complex, vivid, characterization
Koontz develops fascinating characters who are revealed through physical and personality descriptions, which are reinforced throughout the book. Odd Thomas, for instance, frequently describes himself as: “only a fry cook, currently unemployed.” This self-deprecating description is reinforced by Odd’s dialogue. For instance, Odd uses polite formality when he addresses others. He addresses others as, “ma’am” and “sir.” Every time, even if someone asks him to use their first name.

Attention to details of clothing and place
Koontz pays great attention to how people look, what they’re doing, and the physical surroundings. He dribbles this information in over time so the reader isn’t tempted to skip over paragraphs bogged down in description.

Here’s how Odd describes a policeman:

  • “In the side mirror, the man who got out of the patrol car looked like Hercules’ bigger brother, a guy who at every breakfast with his dozen eggs and pound of ham drank a steaming cup of steroids.”

A few paragraphs later, Odd adds:

  • “A massive cop loomed at my window blocking the morning sun as effectively as an eclipse. He bent down and looked into the car, mouth puckered in a frown, grey eyes squinted as if the Mercedes were an aquarium and I was the strangest fish that he had ever seen. He was a handsome bull, I’ll give him that, even though his head was as big as a butcher’s block.”

The writing is fresh and unexpected. Never cliched. With each paragraph, Koontz paints people and scenes so vividly, I grinned as I listened.

Interweaving physical traits with character traits
The physical traits Koontz chooses for a character have purpose and come into play both in how the person acts and also how Odd Thomas is affected by those traits.

Here’s Sister Angela, a nun with periwinkle-colored eyes:

  • “With the power of her personality, Sister Angela can compel you to meet her eyes. Perhaps a few strong-willed people are able to look away from her stare after she has locked on to their eyes, but I’m not one of them. By the time I told her all about bodachs, I felt pickled in periwinkle.”

Vivid back story in tantalizing bits:
Koontz shares back story in tiny snippets that are woven in with powerful effect. In his first description of Sister Angela, he says:

  • “Her eyes are the same merry blue as the periwinkles on the Royal Doulton china that my mother owed, pieces of which Mom, from time to time, threw at the walls or at me.”

Wow. Didn’t see that coming. Now I know Odd had a problematic relationship with his mother, and I’m not likely to forget.

Fixing time and place
A lot happens in each Odd Thomas novel but often in a very short period of time. In the course of a chapter, only a few minutes may pass. It would be easy for readers to get disoriented, but Koontz makes sure readers stay with him.

  • “From the time I had unlocked the bronze door with my universal key until I entered this room, not even two minutes had passed.”

These are a few of the writing gems I took away from reading two of Koontz’s novels. Is Koontz writing great literary fiction? No. Is he writing novels based on great characters and solid plot lines using original language? You bet.

As a reader, it’s a delight to try out a new author and come away a fan. As a writer, it’s inspiring to find an author who models writing techniques I aspire to use as well. I now count myself a Koontz fan, both as a reader and as a writer.

What about you? What new authors have you found that surprised and delighted you?

‘You got game, white girl’ – Home Sweet Hardwood

Mo’ne Davis pitches like a girl. A thirteen-year-old girl who throws a 70 mph fastball. The star of The Little League World Series may not even realize sports wasn’t always an option for girls like her.

Preston High School didn’t offer girls basketball in the 1960s. Or baseball. Or softball. The rumored reason was that a girl had died during a basketball game. That death proved to those who decided such things that girls weren’t constitutionally suited to strenuous physical activity. As a result, basketball for girls in anything more competitive than gym class was banned at my high school.

I wanted to play basketball. I practiced dribbling, doing layups, running no more than the two steps allowed in the six-on-six-girl, half-court version of the game played at Iowa schools. Actually playing a game competitively would remain a dream for me.

What I didn’t know in the 1960s, as I dutifully took my place on the sidelines as a cheerleader, was that the nation was on the verge of changing the game for all women with Title IX legislation, requiring that schools offer equal playing opportunities to women and men. Other women were not going quietly to the sidelines. Other women were fighting for the right to play. And winning.

Home Sweet HardwoodOne of those women, Pat McKinzie, had basketball in her blood. Her grandfather was nationally recognized college coach Ralph McKinzie “Coach Mac”; her father Jim Mckinzie was a championship team-leading high school coach. As soon as Pat could walk – probably even before – they were teaching her the game that became her passion.

McKinzie’s memoir Home Sweet Hardwood details her relentless pursuit to fulfill that passion. In high school when she had to give up hardwood time to boys who couldn’t beat her when she challenged them one-on-one. In college where she was the first woman to play in Illinois with a scholarship under Title IX. After college when she continued to push to play on professional teams in the U.S. and Europe.

“Before recruiters and TV highlights, women played ball, not to impress college scouts or become media darlings, but for our own entertainment. The only glory we needed was the game itself,” McKinzie says. When she played in the zone, men who played the game could not help but appreciate her skill and passion. She recalls a night when a player slapped her hand in front of his “brothers,” and said, “Give me five, white girl! Can’t jump, but you got game.”

Home Sweet Hardwood covers McKinzie’s entire sports career as she broke ground and broke barriers for herself and the girls who came after her. Girls like Mo’ne.

The story of how McKinzie continued to push to play, in the face of discrimination, broken bones, and a nearly life-ending auto accident is a story of heart and inspiration. Raised by people who believed and practiced gender and racial equity, McKinzie lived those qualities throughout her career and no matter where in the world she lived.

McKinzie’s writing style is as fast-paced, precise and fluid as she herself was when she took the ball down court and pulled up for a jump shot. The result is perfection: nothing but net.

If you played sports or wanted to, this book is worth reading. If you have a daughter or granddaughter who is playing sports, this book would make a great gift. It’s important for all of us to remember when we’re standing on the shoulders of women like McKinzie who had the passion to clear the path for the rest of us.

Her kind of historical fiction

girl-mountain.400x625.rev“I’m blown away.” That’s what I thought as I read The Girl on the Mountain, a novel set in the West Virginia mountains at the end of the 19th century.

The characters are vivid and likeable (except for the ones we shouldn’t like). The language precise and fresh. The plot engaging. Beyond that, author Carol Erwin knocked me out with the way she wove in historical details to make me feel as though I knew the people, place and time. There are no famous people in this story, no memorable historical events. Nonetheless, it’s terrific historical fiction.

I invited Carol to share how she came to write this story and how she looks at historical fiction. Her thoughts fit right into the “How much of historical fiction is history?” question I blogged about recently.

My kind of historical fiction – Carol Erwin

I like historical fiction that enlarges my sense of life in other eras. Though I’ve always liked history, in fiction I care less about the unfolding of actual events and more about what they meant to people of that time.

In other words, I’m interested in characters. They don’t have to be historical figures, but they do have to seem real. I’ve always been impressed by the capacities of ordinary people, especially women, and was privileged to know several who lived in my small corner of West Virginia in the late 1800s. These women aren’t the subjects of my historical series, but their qualities definitely inspired me.

Mt.Women450x601The Mountain Women series begins with The Girl on the Mountain, a novel about ordinary people in a time of no particular significance. I began imagining a story about two adventurous girls, one privileged and one homeless. Where and when did they live? I wanted a familiar setting, but one a bit wilder than the farm community where I live. I did not have to go far, for I live near a region of virgin forest that was cut down in the late 1800s. When I revisited a non-fiction account of logging and lumbering in West Virginia (with its hundreds of old photos) I found the setting for my story. Eventually my two girls became May Rose, the young wife of a logger, and Wanda, her stepdaughter.

Even in soft-core historical fiction (my term), some elements must be true. I believe the truest features in The Girl on the Mountain are the mountains and streams, the sawmill, logging operations, and the artifacts of daily life circa 1900.

Research helped me authenticate and populate the story with details, but I had personal experiences that made me comfortable with them. I know the look and sound of sawmills. I’ve ridden an old logging train, climbed steep hillsides to pick blackberries, dug potatoes, stepped through creeks, raised and chased pigs, participated in old-time hog butchering, and used pen and ink to keep account books.

I felt comfortable describing life in 1900 because it’s not too distant. As a child I sometimes visited outhouses where the pit was covered with lime and the seat worn smooth. I named many characters after grandparents, grand aunts and uncles, so I didn’t have to research to know if the names were valid for the period.

When forty years ago I moved to my present location, I felt like I’d stepped back in time. The whole valley was made up of farms that had descended through several generations, and many of my elderly neighbors still used implements and carried on practices from the 1800s. Because of them, I know about neighbors helping neighbors and details like the operation of wood cook stoves and the scrape of a shovel into a coal bucket.

I tried to substantiate every historical detail. In The Girl on the Mountain I included references to well-read books of the period, used calendars of 1899 and 1900, and researched to make sure certain items were in use then, like canned milk. I had such a good time researching that I found much more detail than I could use.

One funny story: a friend who read the first few pages told me I should have a hen instead of a rooster simmering in the pot, because people had many hens but one rooster. I didn’t refute her, but I’m the one who has raised chickens, and I know that from little chicks you get as many roosters as hens. Guess which ones go into the pot?

Finally, the historical detail I chose had to be important to May Rose, the main character. I tried to keep her in mind with every description – what she saw, understood or thought about and what those things meant to her.

How much history you put into your kind of historical fiction will depend on your purposes, plus how much history you know and care to research. If you want to dramatize well-known events and give historical persons a new breath of life, you will rely on your expertise as a historian or researcher. If you want to write realistic period fiction, you may need only to learn enough to feel like you’re living at your chosen time.

Thanks, Carol Bodensteiner, for asking the question: “How much of historical fiction is history?”

Thank you, Carol Erwin, for sharing your perspectives on historical fiction with my readers. I highly recommend Carol’s novels. Click to read my review of The Girl on the Mountain. Follow the links below to her books and to learn more about her.

Carol.Studio.web.sm.

Carol Erwin

Carol Ervin has been a teacher, business owner, and writer and designer of marketing materials. She lives with her husband on a hillside farm in West Virginia with a steep lane and a spectacular view of wooded mountains. She loves West Virginia’s rugged streams and foliage and the history and culture of the region’s hardy settlers. Her historical novels include The Girl on the Mountain, Cold Comfort, and Midwinter Sun. She recently published a science-fiction/dystopian, Dell Zero.

The Girl on the Mountain

Cold Comfort

Midwinter Sun

Dell Zero (science fiction)

Website

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How much of historical fiction is history?

Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard FlanaganThe 2014 Man Booker Prize winner was announced this past week. The accolades judging panel chair A.C. Grayling heaped on Richard Flanagan‘s WWII-era novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North, included this seemingly odd comment:

Historical fiction is not history.

The comment seems odd because by definition, historical fiction is about history. Or is it? Grayling’s comments raised intriguing questions: Is the story more important in historical fiction? Or the history?

Every writer of historical fiction makes choices about what and how much historical detail to include. I know I wrestled with this question as I wrote Go Away Home. Two historical novels I read this month demonstrated the broad history-to-story spectrum authors can explore.

a-time-of-traitors, David LawlorA Time of Traitors is David Lawlor‘s third novel featuring Liam Mannion, a young Irishman who fought in the Great War and then returned to Ireland and became active in the Irish war for independence in the 1920s. Lawlor’s books are fast-paced action stories featuring vivid characters and strong plot lines. Twists and turns kept me on the edge of my seat, totally engaged because I cared about the characters and what happened to them. Oh yes, I also learned a lot about the IRA and the fight for independence.

A Time of Traitors will appeal to readers who enjoy action adventure. They’ll learn about Irish history without realizing it’s happening.

Ambitious Madam Bonapart, Ruth Hull ChatlienIn The Ambitious Madam Bonaparte, author Ruth Hull Chatlain goes to the other end of the spectrum. Historical details abound – clothing, furniture, modes of travel, historical figures in government, design of cities, architecture. Chatlain’s research is meticulous. Characters and story line take a back seat to descriptions laden with historical details.

The Ambitious Madam Bonaparte may appeal to readers more interested in 18th – 19th Century history than the characters around which the story is built.

Fortunately for us authors, there are readers for all types of novels.

How do you react to the comment: “Historical fiction is not history?” If you write historical fiction, how do you balance telling the story with telling the history? As a reader what do you expect?

NOTE: A.C. Grayling’s comments were included in an article in the Daily Mail. His comments add nuance to the quote I pulled out for this post.

The Invention of Wings – Review – Historical Fiction

The Invention of Wings, Sue Monk Kidd

I’ve been a fan of Sue Monk Kidd since I read The Secret Life of Bees. So when Kidd released her newest novel The Invention of Wings, historical fiction set in the early 19th century, I was eager to read. The book did not disappoint.

The Invention of Wings tells the story of 11-year-old Sarah Grimké who is given 10-year-old slave girl – Hetty “Handful” Grimké – as a birthday present. The slave is intended to be Sarah’s handmaid for the rest of her life. But Sarah cannot countenance owning another human being and refuses the gift.

Raised by an educated father with educated brothers, Sarah believes she is capable of speaking her mind and being heard. She is quite wrong. Not only does Sarah suffer a speech impediment, she also suffers from being a woman.

Yet she pushes on, her personality encompassed in this early description of herself: “Drawing a breath, I flung myself across the door sill. That was the artless way I navigated the hurdles of girlhood.” Flinging herself forward in spite of obstacles is also the way Sarah navigates the rest of her life.

Meanwhile, Handful (the basket name given by her mauma) or Hetty (the proper name given by her owners) struggles just as mightily with her personality and her circumstances. Even at 10, Handful knows that the story her mother tells her about their people in Africa learning to fly is not true. Yet she engages in a life-long struggle to achieve just that.

Handful describes her dilemma this way: “I always had something smart to say, but my voice had run down my throat like a kitchen mouse.” A paragraph later she adds, “I stopped all my fidget then. My whole self went down in the hole where my voice was. I tried to do what they said God wanted. Obey, be quiet, be still.”

Obeying, being quiet, being still are not in Handful’s nature, exacerbating the challenges she faces but ultimately giving her the courage she needs for the crucial moment when she does fly.

Women finding their voices – figuratively and literally – is a powerful theme of this wonderful novel. The Grimkés are real people who lived in Charleston. Sarah and her younger sister Angelina grow into fearless pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements. While Handful is a fictional character, the juxtaposition of the two women – one a black slave and the other a free white – makes their journeys to empowerment all the more striking.

It doesn’t matter station. It doesn’t matter time in history. It doesn’t matter black or white. Women always seek to find their voices, to invent their wings.

As a reader, I found The Invention of Wings totally satisfying. Details of time and place that put me right in the center of the action without overburdening. A plot that intertwined the two stories and moved both along. Suspense. Emotion. A conclusion that wove it all together and did not feel contrived.

As a woman who worked in a male-dominated business and who was ordered at one point to “attend the meeting but don’t talk,” I could relate to the “voice” and empowerment issues Sarah and Handful faced.

As a writer, I am inspired by Sue Monk Kidd’s ability to find fresh ways to describe everything from water to clothing. I admire the way she creates voices for each character that are unique.

With The Invention of Wings, Sue Monk Kidd solidifies her place in the Top 10 of my all-time favorite authors. Do not miss this one.

What is Go Away Home about? Readers weigh in.

One of my college professors spent much of a semester dissecting T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Love-Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” I must admit, I left the classroom on most days shaking my head in dismay. I saw NONE of what the professor talked about.

Writers, painters and sculptors go about creating art out of their own souls. When they share their art with the world, readers and viewers apply their attitudes, emotions, and worldview to the art and create something new. They may see some, all or none of what the creator had in mind.

Now that my novel Go Away Home is out in the world, I’m seeing this happen. Recent reviews by bloggers on the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour offered these observations:

Svetlana at Svetlana’s Reads and Views suggested this theme: “There is more to life than satisfying self.”

Svetlana draws comparisons between Go Away Home and stories by Willa Cather and Sarah Orne Jewett who wrote on similar themes of responding to societal expectations versus satisfying self. “… the book is a bit of evolution when it comes to the question of “having it all,” Svetlana says.

“Whether or not the reader has familiarity with the era and what was going on, I found the story to be very resonating as well as relevant and modern,” Svetlana continues. To read more of her comments, click here.

The theme of inequality between women and men and the desire for that to change resonated with Darlene at Peeking Between the Pages

“At a time in history when women were made to accept being only housewives or teachers, she dared to be different and want more for herself,” says Darlene of the novel’s main character Liddie. “Go Away Home will tug at your heart and leave you feeling enriched for having read it.” To read more from Darlene, click here.

Midwest Book Review called it, “… a tale of choices, dreams realized and rejected, and how values evolve.”

Readers’ Favorite said, “Go Away Home is the perfect story of coming home.”

With each reader, I learn more about what I wrote in Go Away Home. Sometimes I find myself thinking, “I had no idea!”

Have you found yourself wondering whether what you took out of a novel or other artwork was what the creator intended? If you’ve read Go Away Home, please share what you think it’s about. I’m curious.

My virtual book tour continues throughout July. For more reviews, giveaways and guest posts on writing historical fiction, check in regularly on my blog tour.Go Away Home_Tour Banner_FINAL

Go Away Home – Blog Tour

Go Away Home_Tour Banner_FINAL

I’m thrilled to announce the participants in a blog tour for Go Away Home taking place from July 8 – July 25, 2014. Please join me from the comfort of your own chair as I travel through cyberspace.

  • Tuesday, July 8 – Amy Bruno at Passages to the Past (and organizer of this month’s virtual book tour) shares a Q&A with me about writing Go Away Home.
  • Wednesday, July 9 – P.C. Zick hosts me on Writing Whims for a wide-ranging Q&A on Author Wednesday
  • Thursday, July 10 – Ashley LaMar at Closed the Cover shares my guest post: “Six Networking Tips to Promote Your Book Online”
  • Monday, July 14 – Svetlana’s Reads and Views shares her review of Go Away Home.
    Darlene at Peeking Between the Pages reviews and hosts a giveaway
  • Tuesday, July 15 – Let Them Read Books hosts a giveaway and my guest post “Fact to Fiction – Researching Historical Fiction Just in Time”
  • Thursday, July 17 – Jorie at Jorie Loves a Story invited me to talk about “choices,” one of the novel themes. Read my guest post: “Is that a good choice? Only time will tell.”
    At the same time, a city girl turned goat farmer reviews & hosts a giveaway at Broken Teepee
  • Friday, July 18 – Kathryn Powell posts a review at A Bibliograph’s Reviews
    Back at Jorie Loves a Story, Jorie shares her review of Go Away Home.
  • Monday, July 21 – Kathleen Kelly posts a review at CelticLady’s Reviews
  • Tuesday, July 22 – Caroline Wilson will shine her spotlight on Go Away Home and offer a giveaway at Caroline Wilson Writes
  • Thursday, July 24 – Returning to Closed the Cover where Ashley LaMar will post a review and host a giveaway
  • Friday, July 25 – Lauralee Jacks does a book review and giveaway at History From a Woman’s Perspective
  • Friday, July 25 –Returning to Passages to the Past where Amy Bruno closes out this month-long blog tour by spotlighting Go Away Home and summarizing blogger reviews

It’s an honor to have so many authors and bloggers participate in sharing the news about the launch of Go Away Home. These sites are full of information about books and authors, writing and life. I encourage you to check them out.