Tag Archives: Arts

Because it’s not always easy to know how to live.

Synopsis:

A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures a remarkable period of time and a love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.

Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway and her life changes forever. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.

Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill prepared for the hard-drinking and fast-living life of Jazz Age Paris, which hardly values traditional notions of family and monogamy. Surrounded by beautiful women and competing egos, Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history, pouring all the richness and intensity of his life with Hadley and their circle of friends into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises. Hadley, meanwhile, strives to hold on to her sense of self as the demands of life with Ernest grow costly and her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Despite their extraordinary bond, they eventually find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage—a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for.

A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.

I just recently finished this exciting new novel by Paula McLain, and even though I checked it out from the library, I will be buying this book, simply because this is one of my new top ten favorite novels of all time.  (Thanks, Dan, for the recommendation.)

It’s poignant.

It’s lovely.

It’s heart-warming.

It’s heart-breaking.

It’s a glimpse into the often chaotic mind of a classic American writer.

It makes you want to read The Sun Also Rises again. And again.

From the start of the novel, I identified with Hadley, Ernest Hemingway’s first wife.

But by the end of the novel, I kind of identified with Hemingway as well.

Or perhaps I simply felt sorry for him.

As a writer, I’ve had my own struggles with depression and alcoholism, and even thoughts of suicide.

Written from the perspective of Hadley, it paints a portrait of a man, a child, a lost soul, wandering through the darkness of the world, looking for light, inspiration, and acceptance.

The language is gorgeous. The POV changes between Hadley and Ernest. It makes you want to spend all day in a cafe, drinking coffee, and reading.

This book is a definite MUST READ for the Summer!

PAULA MCLAIN was born in Fresno, CA in 1965. After being abandoned by both parents, she and her two sisters became wards of the California Court

System, moving in and out of foster homes for the next 14 years. Eventually, she discovered she could — and wanted to — write. She received her MFA

in poetry from the University of Michigan in 1996, and since then has been a resident at Yaddo and the recipient of fellowships from the National

Endowment for the Arts. She is the author of two collections of poetry, a much-praised memoir called Like Family (Little Brown, 2003), and one

previous and well-received novel, A Ticket to Ride. Paula McLain lives in Cleveland, OH with her family.

You can find Paula McLain on Goodreads.com.

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Writer Unleashed on the World! Blog Tour 2011/Nice guys vs. Bad boys

Can I just say that I suggested that title for the blog tour? hee-hee 😉

Today, I have the honor of welcoming Sharon Gerlach to Random Musings. She’s on a blog tour, supporting the release of her first published novella, Malakh. Which is awesome, by the way. Today, Sharon and I will be discussing nice guys versus bad boys, good versus evil, the inherent humanity of her characters, and character development.

Excerpt from the book…

HE HUNTS, SILENT AND UNSEEN

The string of mutilated bodies points to a madman, but the police are stymied. Trace evidence yields no DNA, animal or human. Male, female, young, old—the victims fall without a struggle to the killer in the shadows.

HIS NEXT VICTIM HAS BEEN CHOSEN

For a brief time, Suzanne Harper wielded supernatural abilities and super-human athletic prowess, but that was while she had been the lover of an angel. The murders point to her former lover, and the trail of bodies tells a terrifying tale: he’s working his way to her.

PREY BECOMES PREDATOR

Icarus, an angel who hunts those of his kind who have fallen from grace, enlists Suzanne’s help to stop the killer, for only one as close as a lover can anticipate his next move. Now she must reconcile her heart’s longing for her lost love with her sense of justice and honor, and she must do it fast … because the next murder could be hers.

 

About the book…

Malakh isn’t just a tale about good versus evil. It’s about repentance, redemption, restoration. There is little to no romance—both of Suzanne’s relationships are far in the past—because the focus of the story is Suzanne’s journey from brokenness to reparation and peace, even though it means bringing judgment and justice to a treasured lover.

Malakh is available in several electronic formats from Smashwords, Amazon, and Amazon.com, for a special promotional price of $.99 through April 30.

Purchase the book here for 99 cents through April 30th!

Smashwords:   http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52440

Amazon:   http://www.amazon.com/Malakh-ebook/dp/B004VXK0NO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=books&qid=1302986173&sr=8-1

Amazon UK:    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Malakh/dp/B004VXK0NO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=digital-text&qid=1302986242&sr=8-1

Nice guys or Bad boys?

Oh, I’m a sucker for bad boys, have been all my life.  There’s just something so appealing about someone willing, ready, and unafraid to throw common sense and safety to the wind.

Which characters are the most fun to write?

Bad guys, without a doubt. There are no moral boundaries, no pesky conscience to elbow out of the way.

Who are your labors of love?

My biggest labor of love is my ultimate bad guy, Caleb Schaefer. He is still a masterpiece in progress, and I am quite pleased with him.

His counterparts – his nephew Aaron and Aaron’s wife Kimberly – are two more whose facets I’ve sculpted carefully and lovingly. They feel very real to me, and hopefully to my readers as well.

Note: Caleb Schaefer is the villain in the Wyckham House/Gothic/Sundown books. They are probably my personal favorite books Sharon has written. Unfortunately, they are still unpublished. (hint, hint, hint) 😉

Excerpt from Wyckham House:

Reckless and rash, that’s Kimberly Owens. From the impulsive act of marrying her high school sweetheart, which  ultimately leads to her broken marriage and damaged heart, to her imprudent decision to search for her may-or-may-not-be-missing father in a tiny Pennsylvania town, her life has been punctuated by consequence and regret.

With no regard to the potential danger, armed only with a borrowed identity and a false sense of indestructibility, Kim probes into the mysteries of her father’s disappearance and of the stone mansion in the thick woods behind town.

So it really can’t be much of a surprise to Kim when she finds herself chained to an ancient altar in a house of the damned,  waiting to be rescued by a man she shouldn’t love and who will, no doubt, finish the job of massacring her heart beyond repair. That is, if he manages to save her life before her captor ends it … or worse.

For there are things worse than death. <——-Best. Hook. Ever.

Alas, I digress…….

Physical characteristics that you consider inherently bad or good?

Ummm, not sure what you mean by that, but…as usual I will assign my own meaning. 😀  Generally when someone calls someone else “charismatic,” I think uh-oh, bad news!  Which is why my favorite bad guy, Caleb Schaefer (in my paranormal series), chills me to the bone at the same time he’s so darn compelling and unforgettable.

Do you prefer a balance of good/bad in your heroes/heroines?

I don’t like perfect characters. We’re all flawed, make mistakes, make bad decisions, have flawed judgment. Why should my characters be any different? Who would relate to them if they were the paper embodiment of perfection?

In my fourth novel, one of the main female characters becomes the victim of her own impetuousness and ends up wrecking her own marriage. She knows she’s wrong, she knows she made a mistake, she knows it’s her fault, but can she bring herself to apologize? Nooooo!

Do the good guys always win? Should they?

The good guys don’t always win in real life. Therefore, they don’t always win in my fictional worlds. The truth of the matter is, you can only keep evil at bay; you can’t ever completely stop its influence or eradicate its existence. My stories are about the efforts to hold it at bay, and to keep from succumbing to its siren song.

Would you/could you kill off a character that you’re in love with simply for the sake of the plot?

Funny you should ask that. Yes, I could kill off a character I’m in love with. In fact, one of my all-time favorite characters is poised on the chopping block. But that’s a book I haven’t started writing yet.

Why

 Sometimes you have to kill off a treasured character—even a main character—to keep things realistic. People lose the ones they love all the time in real life, and to think that fictional life is any different isn’t being true and isn’t being fair to the readers. Not everything is happily ever after. You want happily ever after, best not read my stuff. lol

Is redemption attainable by your villains?

Oh, definitely. Even dastardly Caleb Schaefer has his regrets. Will I allow his redemption? That remains to be seen.

How blurry do the lines between good/evil become when dealing with angels as opposed to humans?

Actually, for me, the lines clarify rather than blur when dealing with angels. The good angels—these still in service and obedience to God—are obviously held to a higher standard, which makes Raum’s affair with Suzanne and his subsequent murderous spree a greater affront to the heavenly realm.

Demons, on the other hand—well, one can’t expect too much by way of good from them, and they rarely disappoint.

It was actually harder to write the angels because good and bad with them are so clearly defined. It’s much easier when dealing with humankind, who can be flawed and yet still be good; or can come across as pure as the driven snow and have a heart as black as sin.

Thank you, Sharon for these awesome answers. I know we’ve discussed villains versus nice guys previously, and I think we’re on the same page, as far as bad boys go. 😉

Sharon Gerlach is a Program Specialist II in a financial aid office at a community college. She is also a writer in her spare time, and has completed three novel-length manuscripts. Two more are in various stages of production. She loves very dark beer, tequila, and scotch, although not at the same time. Her husband, Gail, is her best friend, and she loves her life!

In Sharon’s words:

  • I believe there is room in friendship for people to believe in different things without it affecting relationships.
  • I collect antique teapots, kids, and cats.
  • I have been writing since the age of 11. I didn’t complete my first novel until the age of 42. Go figure. Middle-age is my golden era.
  • I am not afraid to get old. I am enjoying life more now than I did when I was younger. Beauty fades; wisdom shines.

Find Sharon Gerlach here:

http://sharongerlach.wordpress.com/

http://forevernocturne.wordpress.com/

facebook.com/writerunleashed

http://www.goodreads.com/sharonlgerlach

http://twitter.com/SharonGerlach

“Let us go forth, the teller of tales, and seize whatever prey the heart long for, and have no fear.” William Butler Yeats, The Celtic Twilight

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“Now it’s time to jump.” / Flat Out Love by Jessica Park

I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

About Flat-Out Love

 
Flat-Out Love is a warm and witty novel of family love and dysfunction, deep heartache and raw vulnerability, with a bit of mystery and one whopping, knock-you-to-your-knees romance. 
Something is seriously off in the Watkins home. And Julie Seagle, college freshman, small-town Ohio transplant, and the newest resident of this Boston house, is determined to get to the bottom of it.When Julie’s off-campus housing falls through, her mother’s old college roommate, Erin Watkins, invites her to move in. The parents, Erin and Roger, are welcoming, but emotionally distant and academically driven to eccentric extremes. The middle child, Matt, is an MIT tech geek with a sweet side … and the social skills of a spool of USB cable. The youngest, Celeste, is a frighteningly bright but freakishly fastidious 13-year-old who hauls around a life-sized cardboard cutout of her oldest brother almost everywhere she goes.And there’s that oldest brother, Finn: funny, gorgeous, smart, sensitive, almost emotionally available. Geographically? Definitely unavailable. That’s because Finn is traveling the world and surfacing only for random Facebook chats, e-mails, and status updates. Before long, through late-night exchanges of disembodied text, he begins to stir something tender and silly and maybe even a little bit sexy in Julie’s suddenly lonesome soul.

To Julie, the emotionally scrambled members of the Watkins family add up to something that … well … doesn’t quite add up. Not until she forces a buried secret to the surface, eliciting a dramatic confrontation that threatens to tear the fragile Watkins family apart, does she get her answer.

 
First and foremost, I have to holler from the top of my lungs, “SQUEE!”
 
No, really! This book is awesome! I just happened to be scanning my Twitter account one day, and Jessica was looking for reviewers, so I thought “Hey why not?” I enjoy a good YA novel, and I was not disappointed. Immediately, I was sucked into the plot: lost and alone college freshman in a strange town. Cue flashbacks of my first night in the dorms. Fortunately, I was neither alone nor lost. Alas, I digress.
 
The initial rapport between Julie and Matt was eerily familiar, almost like siblings. And the humor?! Don’t get me started! Within the first chapter, I laughed out loud no less than four times. The characters were well-rounded, and strong while still vulnerable.
Being a female, I obviously identified with Julie, the narrator, but Matt satisfied my inner math-geek. I adored the descriptions of his geeky t-shirts.
 
 
 
Flat Out Love is a shining example of romance in the internet age, complete with IM chats, Facebook status updates, and email communications. I found it rather indicative of the technological advances society has made since the mid-nineties when I was in college. Heck, I didn’t even own a computer until 2000?! I always tell the youngsters the story of “How I Graduated From University Without A Computer”. With an English degree?!
 
They simply look confused. Apparently, they thought there was no life before computers.
 
You know, back in the Dinosaur Age, when people actually had to speak to each other in person (gasp), and busy signals were not a thing of the past.
 
In all seriousness though……oh who am I kidding?!? I’m not serious! Well, rarely anyway.
FLAT FINN! <——-coolest idea ever. Kind of makes me want to have a two-dimensional friend to cart around? Ya know, like maybe a Doppelganger? No. Too creepy. I mean, if Jessica can have a Flat Rick, maybe I should have a Flat Prince or something? You can check out Jessica’s inspiration for Flat Finn here: http://flatoutlove.blogspot.com/p/chapter-tidbits.html
 
Speaking of Flat Finn, there were hints of emotional instability from the get-go, as far as the family dynamic is concerned. For anyone who has ever dealt with depression, either their own or a loved one, the characters were true yet gritty. Whole, yet fragmented. Without spoiling the entire plot (go read it yourself), I questioned and suspected a few things, but even I did not figure out the whopper of an ending until just before the secret is revealed. Loved the suspense!
 
I highly recommend this book to everyone! Especially anyone who loves YA books or just humorous Romance!
 
Thank you, Jessica, for a lovely and enjoyable read! You’ve got a new fan here! 🙂
 
You can check the book out yourself over on Amazon:
 
Find Jessica Park here:
Flat Out Love website: http://flatoutlove.blogspot.com/
 
Jessica Park is the author of the young adult novel RELATIVELY FAMOUS, five Gourmet Girl mysteries (written as Jessica Conant-Park) and the e-shorts FACEBOOKING RICK SPRINGFIELD and WHAT THE KID SAYS (Parts 1 & 2). She grew up in the Boston area and then went to Macalester College in frigid St. Paul, Minnesota. During her freshman year, there was a blizzard on Halloween, and she decided that she was not cut out for such torture. So she moved back to the east coast where, she’d forgotten, it still snows. Oops. She now lives in New Hampshire with her husband, son, bananas dog named Fritzy, and two selfish cats. When not writing, she is probably on Facebook , pining over 80s rock stars, or engaging in “Glee” activities. Or some combination of the three. Probably with a coffee in hand. 
 
 

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Malakh: An Angelic Novella by Sharon Gerlach

 

Excerpt:

“He hunts, silent and unseen.

The string of mutilated bodies points to a madman, but the police are stymied. Trace evidence yields no DNA, animal or human. Male, female, young, old—the victims fall without a struggle to the killer in the shadows.

His next victim has been chosen.

For a brief time, Suzanne Harper wielded supernatural abilities and super-human athletic prowess, but that was while she had been the lover of an angel. The murders point to her former lover, and the trail of bodies tells a terrifying tale: he’s working his way to her.

Prey becomes predator.

Icarus, an angel who hunts those of his kind who have fallen from grace, enlists Suzanne’s help to stop the killer, for only one as close as a lover can anticipate his next move. Now she must reconcile her heart’s longing for her lost love with her sense of justice and honor, and she must do it fast … because the next murder could be hers.”

Can I just tell you how excited proud happy just plain SQUEE I am today?! 🙂

Sharon and I have been friends for years! We first met over on Writer’s Cafe in 2006 or 2007? I honestly can’t even remember how long, but it feels like forever?! This was prior to THE GREAT WC DELETE in 2008.  If you weren’t there then, it was the moment when the entire site crashed, and thousands of writers lost all their work. BACK UP YOUR SHIT PEOPLE!!!! I, of course, was still  a fledgling in the world of online writing, and I lost almost everything. Sharon managed to help me find a lot of my work. THANK YOU!!!

And as they say, it was all over from there?!

We (awesome writer peeps) all left the WC fairly soon after that incident, but it wasn’t just that one occurrence. WC had gotten extremely junior high-ish, and I don’t play that. So now, we all have our own blogs.

Don’t get me wrong, I made the core of my online writing friends through Writer’s Cafe. Writers I still follow, read and pimp when needed. (see below)

http://sharongerlach.wordpress.com/

http://nlgervasio.wordpress.com/

http://rblackbirdsong.blogspot.com/

http://www.carrieclevengerstories.com/

And years later, we all still keep in contact via Twitter or Facebook or whatever. I’ve read all of Sharon’s novels. At least three times a piece? 😉

Yes, they are all that good.

I’m just thrilled that Sharon has finally decided to self-publish?! She had played the traditional publishing game for too long, and while she’s definitely worthy of a huge publishing contract, it’s simply not that easy.

I’ve been telling her for a while to “Go Indie!” Not that it’s  cop-out from traditional, but for me, it’s all about control. And not having to wait for other people to pull their heads out their rears and realize what awesome potential is out there?!

And I’m thrilled that Sharon & Jinx have launched Running Ink Press with Malakh being their first release!

http://runninginkpress.com/

They also publish (bi-annually) an e-zine called Forever Nocturne. They even been gracious enough to publish yours truly, as well as many other up-and-coming writers!

http://forevernocturne.wordpress.com/

Somewhere, I seem to have lost the point of this…..oh yeah?!

NEW NOVELLA! 😉

Go buy it! Or if you can’t afford the $1.99, simply email Sharon for a free copy in exchange for an honest review. Seriously though, it’s cheap. So support your local Indie authors!

Email her at SHARONLGERLACH (at) GMAIL (dot) COM with the subject line MALAKH COUPON (so her spam filter doesn’t swat you into cyber-oblivion). She will e-mail all interested parties a coupon code for a free download at Smashwords.

I will be interviewing Sharon towards the end of the month, when she launches her WRITER UNLEASHED ON THE WORLD BLOG TOUR.

Ahhh……caps lock.

Anyway, here’s her links to pretty much everything….

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?id=100001552017705&aid=33275#!/writerunleashed

http://sharongerlach.wordpress.com/

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52440

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4762686.Sharon_Gerlach

http://twitter.com/SharonGerlach

Congratulations, Sharon!

And calm down. Everyone has a panic attack the first time they publish.

And try not to be a stat junkie. I have NO room to talk…..

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Werewolf cops! (book review)

Daemon’s Mark by Caitlin Kittredge

“Werewolf homicide detective Luna Wilder guards the fine line that separates Nocturne City’s humans from the weres and witches that roam its streets. Now, Luna must thwart a new evil more dangerous than anything she’s ever encountered.” ~ from the back cover

I’ve been following Caitlin on Twitter for years, but never managed to actually pick up one of her many books, and read it. Until one day when I walked into my local library, and immediately saw this book beckoning to me in the New Release section. My library is very small, so you can imagine surprise?! Apparently, this is the fifth book in the Nocturne City series, but honestly, I don’t think it truly matters what order they’re read in. I appreciate that. While I love series (who doesn’t), I enjoy a book that can also stand readily on its own.

I immediately fell for the narrator (Luna Wilder) because of her strength and no-nonsense attitude. I love me some kick-ass heroines! The character of Luna reminded me of Eve Dalles (J.D. Robb), only scarier?! And with werewolves?! Hell yeah! As with Eve’s character, Luna possesses the strength of conviction, as well as brief moments of vulnerability. Shhh…just don’t tell anyone….

This novel basically had everything I love in a good book: strong female, paranormal aspects, a romantic sub-plot, and a lead male who is emotional but not soft, and can keep up with his heroine.

I highly recommend reading this, if you haven’t already. I know I’m going to read the rest of the Nocturne City books, as well as her Black London series.

You can find Caitlin Kittredge’s webiste by clicking on the link below.

http://www.caitlinkittredge.com/

Or her Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001552017705&sk=wall#!/caitlinkittredge

Or her Twitter:

 http://twitter.com/caitkitt

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Filed under Blogs 2011, Book review