Salutations August – September 2022

It’s cold. Rainy. Not summer. Alas.

Such is my ode every fall. I kick! I scream! It’s not that I hate autumn. It’s just that I LOVE spring and summer! And I transition S L O W L Y. With E F F O R T. I hold on. To people, to goals, to stuff I love. A strength. Also to stuff I no longer love. Ergo the clutter of my life. Alas. So I kick. I scream. And I will not wear socks until October. No matter how ridiculously cold my feet may get!

Writing News

Look up! No, the sky is not falling. You might remember I’ve delayed revealing a title for my work in progress? That’s it. Look Up! And you’re the first to hear it. Why? Could you not gape if your first sight in the big city was this Union Station ceiling? “So much beauty to notice in this world – if only we remember to look up,” says Ruby when Lee stops to…look up.

So big progress! A title and… Yes, another round – my fourth set of revisions is done! And while I’m way, way too close to know, I think…maybe… It could be a good story. I’ll know better with distance and

But listen to this! When I contacted the delightul Brooke Baker of StoryHouseEditing.com, she posed what she called a ‘cockamamie idea’ to use my manuscript as part of her curriculum for the college course about editing that she’s teaching this semester. So instead of just one new set of eyes, I’m going to get seven more! And since her students are in the same age range as my twenty-something protagonists, I am thrilled. Also nervous. Of course. This is my baby they’ll tear into. I’ve offered to meet with the class after they do their work, and the nerves will be on even higher alert then. But think of the insights I’ll gain. Let the games begin!

In the meantime…

I’ll Keep Reading!

Here’s my reading roundup for the last month.

Georgia, shortly after the Civil War. Newly freed slaves. Forbidden love. Landowners clinging to power. Unimaginable cruelty and even less imaginable consequences. And amid all these tensions northern-born George and his wife of many years, Isabelle want only for their son to be safe and to be left alone. Except George hires – and pays – former slaves Prentiss and Landry, which is unacceptable to the whites of their tiny rural town. Harris uses a non-linear story-telling style and flowery language that raised objection for some in my book club. But I enjoyed both. And the complicated relationship between Isabelle and George. I liked this debut novel a lot. And Harris is only 29. I expect to see more and even better books ahead.

My teacher/library sciences niece Marci has spoken about her fandom for Lemony Snicket for years, and I LOVED ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ when it came out on Netflix. So when I saw this Lemony Snicket tale for grown-ups on Bookbub, I couldn’t resist. It’s told in the same droll, tongue-in-cheek style as his books for kids which I mostly found fun – until it felt a tad tedious. And if you’re looking for the fast-paced adventures ala the Baudelaire orphans, you might be disappointed because there’s not a lot that actually happens here. This one is more a philosophical rumination on the role of death in living. We follow Lemony Snicket in his quest to discover why he received a note saying his breakfast was poisoned. I found that quest interesting if not quite as fun as I’d hoped.

The characters in this story face a heart-rending dilemma that makes it more than your typical fluffy romance. I felt for both protagonists and hoped they’d find a way to resolve the web in which they were caught. That said, could the resolution when it finally came, really happen so easily? Can attitudes shift from hate to empathy and acceptance so quickly? With zero testing to see if forgiveness is really deserved? If you’re looking for a worthy tale dressed up in lots and lots of sex, you’ll enjoy this and other Hoover tales I’ve read. For my taste, I’d have preferred less sex-fluff and a more realistic treatment of such a difficult topic.

I liked this one by Katherine Center far more than Hoover’s tale above. Not that I found the story itself more real, but I liked the characters more. They were funnier and kinder, and yes, more real. The story was plenty far-fetched, and had our hero not been the drop-dead gorgeous hunk movie star, I might have liked it more. But I still found plenty to like – including a kick-ass and take-no-prisoners female prtagonist with a mushy wounded heart beneath her chilly all-business Ann Taylor pantsuit. When Katherine Center writes another book, I’ll likely read and enjoy that one too!

Ditto for Sophie Kinsella! And this one was especially fun. Buckets of laughs. And buckets of heart. Effie does not know how to be estranged from her family, but when her parents divorce, she can’t accept that what she always saw as perfect could have the slightest flaw. And she sure can’t accept the floozie her father takes up with next. Or that the floozie has instigated the sale of the childhood home Effie has always adored. So when the floozie hosts a ‘house-cooling’ party and doesn’t invite Effie, she takes it on herself to crash the party – surreptitiously. And hilarity ensues. Along with enough reality doses to help Effie see and find ways to heal the cracks of her family. Buckets of fun!

I first discovered Paul Auster in a novel called The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald. I read his Brooklyn Follies and recommended him to my housemate whose habit when he finds an author he likes is to read everything said author ever wrote. In the last few months, he’s been working his way throuth Auster’s catalog and repeatedly saying, ‘He’s the real deal. I can’t think of an author I like more. You should read this.’ Ergo the four Auster novels piled on the headboard. I picked this one first because of the dog. And I did adore the dog and his insights. That the dog would tie his heart and life irrevocably to a character I could not like, however, felt like a stomp on my heart. It may be a while before I read another in my Auster pile just in case there’s another heart stomper.

Women at war. Spying. Kate Quinn’s tale brings to light the real Alice Network of women spies during WWI following a fictional woman of that historical network. Guiless looks are Eve Gardiner’s best disguise, but they don’t save her from hunger or sexual assault in the service to her country. Or the despair and guilt that follow her through the next World War. Enter pregnant Charlie St. Cloud, clueless college girl desperate to find the cousin no one in her family believes survived WWII. In that quest, Eve, Charlie, and Eve’s man of all work travel through France, following leads and the trail of the one collaborator Eve hates most. The book is told in alternate points of view – Eve’s and Charlie’s and felt like an important tale to read. If only to appreciate how far we’ve come – albeit not yet enough – to secure women’s equality.

I found this author using www.literature-map.com which helps you find authors like others you might like. It’s a dandy service that’s helped me find gems like this one. (A new goal is for my name to appear on their author list!) I’ll definitely be reading more of Juliette Fay. This story had lots of layers – questions like would you want to know if you’ll get a devastating hereditary disease or get romantically involved with somebody who might? Is it really your responsibility to care for your aging aunt and your brother’s son? And what can you do about that unruly dog? Big questions, right? But tempered with deep friendships, humor, and a darned good story, it was a joy to explore along with our hero Sean Doran. Oh yes, I’ll definitely be reading Fay again! Oh, and I actually listened to this one – and that made for an interesting change too!

And there’s one more to add to my list since my last post, but since my book club meets to discuss Better Luck Next Time by Julia Claiborne Johnson this afternoon, I’ll save it for next month’s Salutations. My review will be far richer when I can add the insights of my fellow ‘Really Readers’ along with my own.

Next Up…

The next novel... Wineries here I come to research the work-in-progress I began before the pandemic.

Butterfly Junctions will be at the Naples Grape Festival, September 24-25 with our wearable art. I’ve been creating like mad. Come see us for grapes, sunflowers, starry nights, and more…

And as always, check out my novels Come Back and Home Place on Amazon – and please remember how much I value and treasure you as a reader! If you’re a person who never writes reviews, just imagine how thrilled I was when someone just like you wrote this one…

“I read a lot. This book was fabulous. Not dirty and full of bad language. I feel like a lot of authors run out of steam and have to write smut because they have nothing else. The plot was good, storyline was well thought out and the characters were interesting. I highly recommend it and I never write reviews.”

Amazon Customer

I’ll just tell you – it made my day!

Here’s hoping you have such a thrill every day…till we meet again…

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