Just I started the book, Distant Shores by Kristin Hannah and am enjoying it very much. Birdie loves her home along the ocean and her children. Her husband was once the love of her life, but now something is missing. Birdie wonders if she’s the one whose missing out on life.
I originally wrote this short story for a Write In Weekend Challenge for WriteOn Refugees. Recently, Neoleaf Press decided to publish a “Strong Women” anthology for Mom’s Favorite Reads group. I figured this was the opportunity to expand on this particular story. My friend, author Sue A. Hart, had encouraged me to tell readers more about Elle.
My grandma used to say that ‘everyone is talented, but some people haven’t discovered their talent yet.’ Grandma was a wise woman. I don’t know if she would be proud of my new-found talent, but I’m getting ahead of myself…
My name is Elle. My dad was a fan of Elle MacPherson. What can I say? It was the 80’s, and my dad was a scumbag who left us years ago. I was as far from the supermodel type as someone can be. I’m short, plump and unremarkable. No one notices me. This fact helps me as I hone my new talent.
I discovered my new talent quite by mistake. I was minding my own business walking down the Las Vegas strip towards my hotel. I was at a conference of greeting card writers. You know — those little sayings inside of special occasion cards. In the age of the internet and social media, the greeting card business is looking for innovative opportunities to expand their market. And that is how I happened to be in the wrong place at the right time.
I was sipping on my diet soda running through some ideas for a “Happy Divorce” card, and I heard the squeal of tires. Turning, I saw a black sedan jump the curb and continue to skid in my direction.
My little stubby legs didn’t carry me very far. I stood with my mouth hanging open and my diet soda spilling onto the sidewalk awaiting my imminent death. I squeezed my eyes shut and said a quick prayer. But death never came. I cracked open one lid far enough to see the black sedan inches from me. Prayer does work! Hallelujah!
What happened next defies any rational explanations.
Two beefy guys sprang from the car; their guns were drawn. I sidled back hoping they weren’t interested in a greeting card writer.
“Stop right there, toots!” One of the behemoths rumbled in my direction. I felt the cool press of steel against my temple. Sweet Lord! I’m gonna die! In Vegas!
I don’t know what came over me, but I decided right then and there that if I were going to die, I would go out fighting. I stomped on the guy’s foot, slammed into his solar plexus with my bent elbow, and as he leaned forward gasping, I socked him in the nose with my clenched fist. Blood gushed out of his nose, and the dumbass dropped his gun right where I could grab it.
I didn’t hesitate. I put a slug into my attacker’s forehead. His friend was frozen for a second before he charged me. That second was all I needed to put gangster #2 in my sights. I hit him in the chest and the forehead. They call those “kill shots.”
I wiped my prints off the weapon with my shirt, picked up my cup (DNA, you know) and blended into the growing crowd. Remember, I said no one ever notices me. It comes in handy when you moonlight as an assassin.
I’m not in the greeting card business any longer. I’ve found my talent.
I wish I could read more often than I do, but Need to Know by Karen Cleveland was a super quick read because it was sooo good! I love reading thrillers and suspense stories, and this novel was one of the better ones I’ve read in a while.
Cleveland weaves you through the intricacies of being a CIA analyst and having a family while trying to uncover Russian sleeper cells embedded in the US. Things get more complicated when she uncovers evidence that implicates someone close to her.
The rollercoaster ride is only beginning. When I reached the end, I closed the book firmly saying, “Brilliant ending” out loud. I don’t do that every day. I’d give this book 5 stars.
The March issue of our Amazon #1 magazine!
In this issue…
• An exclusive interview with Terry Deary, bestselling author of the ‘Horrible Histories’
• Our new series of travel features, Off the Beaten Track
• How to start your own small business
• How to learn a new language
• The difference between psychology and
psychiatry, and so much more…
Every writer I’ve ever communicated with over the past few years will tell me that they want people to like what they’ve written. I do as well, but I also want them to feel something beyond “liking” my story.
I want the reader to feel a multitude of emotions when they read my books — fear, sorrow, anger, indignation, love and happiness. In essence, I want them to feel what the main character is feeling at that time. My goal is to have them step into the story become a part of what is happening by playing it out in their minds.
I read somewhere recently that when we listen to a story various areas in our brain are stimulated. If a passage talks about how something feels or sounds, the sensory cortex becomes active. If we are reading about some type of physical activity, our brain’s motor cortex responds. As storytellers, we can affect our readers deeply.
My characters aren’t perfect, and I don’t want them to be. Real people cannot be assigned labels like “good” or “bad”. People are too complex to be deemed one thing or another. I want my readers to react to the fictional characters inhabiting my story’s world. Whether it’s a negative or positive emotion, I want them to feel something.
Clare Thibodeaux is the main character in my suspense series. Clare can be distant, stubborn, and can make some very bad decisions. She can also be a loyal friend; and at times, she cares about people many readers dislike. Clare resists being told what to do, being overprotected or treated like she’s weak. Throughout the series, she struggles with letting someone else help her. Some of the other characters are overbearing and too protective to the point of being dismissive at times.
Because of these unflattering character traits, some of my readers won’t care for my books. That’s okay, I don’t like every book I read. No matter what, I have elicited an emotion, and that is what art is all about!
I never thought of myself as being particularly fond of winter, but I have noticed as I’ve gotten older I do like many aspects of this frosty season.
I’m not really a snow bunny; although, I was born with large ears to my sincere regret. My favorite Lab isn’t really bunny material, either. Except, I seem to remember watching him hop, hop, hop through the deep snow from time to time.
During the winter, his nose turns from black to pink, a condition aptly called “snow nose”, because he is always sniffing the ground and coming up with a coating of snow on his nose. He loves winter!
I liked cross-country skiing when I was younger, but recently, I discovered I really enjoyed snowshoeing. It is a great workout and gets me outside. Unfortunately, we have snow but the temps are in the double-digit negatives, so being outdoors for extended periods isn’t necessarily a good thing.
This leaves me no other alternative except to turn to another favorite activity — writing. Winter days are perfect for sitting down with my laptop and pounding the keys as I peel back the layers of my characters and create something worth reading. By my side is a piping hot cup of coffee, tea or cocoa assisting in the efforts to keep me warm.
Most of my writing over the past three years has occurred during the winter and springtime and have published most of my work during the summer or fall time frame. Could that be why the winter season figures prominently in the books? The second book in the Clare Thibodeaux Series is aptly named Winter’s Icy Caress.
What impact does environment have on a writer’s creativity? Princeton English Professor Diana Fuss explored the habitats where her favorite writers penned their literary works in her study, “The Sense of an Interior: Four Writers and the Rooms that Shaped Them.”
Professor Fuss researched for eight years and visited the very rooms where the subjects of her study wrote their books. It seems each environment was as different as the subject from Freud’s antiquity-filled Victorian office to the surprise of finding Emily Dickinson’s light and airy cupola with views over the countryside. Dickinson’s writing space was unexpected, because she was widely portrayed as being a helpless agoraphobic, and many envisioned her shut up in a tiny, dark room in her father’s home.
I like to write in my library surrounded by hundreds of books and mementos from past travels. Three large multipaned windows allow the space to be flooded with the morning light, and I can look out and see the snow swirl down or watch the birds play in the fountain outside.
I know my environment plays a fundamental role in my writing. I’m happier on sunny days, morose on rainy ones, and energized by the cold snap of fall and winter weather. I get my best ideas after periods of physical activity particularly those activities that occur outdoors. My mood and my muse tend to go to the dark side after too many days when I’m stuck inside.
Unfortunately, I’m not a snow bunny, but the winter weather does influence my mood and my writing. I like to think I’m attuned to the changing environment around me whether that involves the change of the seasons or a swing in the mood of a room full of people. I strive to put my observations down on paper using them to create the imaginary worlds my characters inhabit.
What influences your writing, your art, and your moods? Does it matter what desk you write on? Do you like to shut out sensory stimuli like Professor Fuss found during her research on Proust? Or doesn’t it matter to you?
It is an interesting subject and I’d love to hear whether your environment affects your creativity.
My local book club selected the novel Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford for January’s meeting. I had two days to read it and let me tell you, I couldn’t put it down.
The story is set in Seattle’s Chinatown area, and the story’s protagonist, Henry, is in his mid-fifties at the story’s beginning. Henry is passing by an old hotel in what was once the Japanese section of their community. It has been recently purchased for restoration, and the new owner has called a press conference after making an unbelievable discovery. After 40 plus years, she has found the stored belongings of Japanese residents of the area who were taken to internment camps after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The news has Henry thinking back to those days when he was eleven years old and struggling with his place in this wartime world where the slant of your eyes and the color of your skin could make you a target.
The author does an insightful job of weaving his WWII tale of growing up in a strict Chinese family. Henry faces conflicts with his father, children at the “white” school and his former classmates at the Chinese school. His life seems dismal, and then he meets Keiko, a fellow scholarship student at the school.
The only problem is that Keiko is Japanese, and his father hates all the Japanese people because of their invasion of China. Henry’s father makes him wear a button that states “I am Chinese” on it, Whether it was for his protection so he wouldn’t be labeled as Japanese or because of his father’s hatred for the Japanese people or not, Henry detested wearing it.
The story painted a raw, detailed portrait of life for immigrants in this country; and especially for Japanese-Americans as they were forced to leave everything behind and were taken hundreds of miles away from their homes until after the war ended. The conditions they lived under at the internment camps is a terrible stain on the history of the United States.
The story jumps back and forth between the 1980s and the 1940s as Henry tries to mend his relationship with his son as he searches for a treasure from his past.
This is a story of families, of different cultures, of generational conflict, of love, of loss and of prejudice. I would recommend it to readers who like historical fiction, romance, and stories set in the WWII era.
I’m happy to be a member of this fast growing group, and wanted to introduce to the organization and one of its founders, Hannah Howe.
Hannah Howe writes psychological and historical mysteries. Her books can be found at over 300 outlets worldwide. Her novels have reached number one numerous times on the Amazon charts and her book, Saving Grace, a Victorian mystery was a bestseller in Australia this summer. With all of this activity, Howe found time to co-found the new magazine — Mom’s Favorite Reads.
What is Mom’s Favorite Reads? It’s a community of book lovers which produces a quarterly book catalogue, featuring over 400 books, and a monthly magazine. The magazines, available as eBooks, in print and audiobooks, have topped the Amazon Contemporary Women charts, the Seasonal charts and the Graphic Novel charts in America, Australia, Britain and Canada. Alongside leading independent authors our magazines also feature contributions from high profile mainstream authors. For example, in the new year the magazine will feature exclusive interviews with a Dr Who screenwriter, an expert on Sherlock Holmes and Terry Deary, author of Horrible Histories, one of the most popular series in the history of publishing.
Also, in 2019, the plan is to develop the community to support literacy amongst adults and children. One of the ways we will do this is by offering schools, societies and literacy projects bundles of free books.
If you are an author, you are welcome to join Mom’s Favorite Reads. If you are a reader, please visit our website and check out our video, book catalogue and magazines https://moms-favorite-reads.com
If you would like us to support a literacy project, please email Hannah Howe at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will explore the possibility of supporting your project.
It is those quirky differences which make humans so interesting. Jane Austen had a knack at finding the humorous in her interactions with her neighbors and acquaintances that she later immortalized in print. The outrageous, bizarre and laugh-out-loud hilarious moments are the stuff of writers’ dreams.
I’m an odd duck. Always a bit nerdy, I loved school, reading and history. In elementary school, I read every biography of the founding fathers of the United States. They were my heroes. I loved playing “Landslide” — a board game about U.S. Presidential Elections where you collected Electoral College votes to win the Presidency. How many ten to eleven-year-old girls today would find that game captivating?
I asked for a globe for Christmas one year and on my bedroom wall, I had a poster of the universe. I would force my younger sisters to sit through my rendition of the Catholic mass or would drill them as their teacher using old school books of my mother’s from her youth. (I wonder what happened to them?)
I had a rock collection when I was young and kept it in an empty cardboard egg carton. Way before Indiana Jones had youngsters wanting to be an archeologist, I wanted to explore ancient ruins for artifacts. I also wanted to be a pop singer, Peace Corps volunteer and a nun. I ended up being a nurse, an Army Reserve officer, a bed & breakfast owner, and an indie writer, go figure.
We all have our stories about our youthful fascinations and dreams. They are the very things which mold us into the individuals we are today. What were yours? Did you follow through on your dreams?