Mother’s Day Bookish Gifts

mother child book color drawing

Below are some Mother’s Day gift ideas with book choices recommended through a Facebook poll I recently ran. If you order them now (titles are linked to Amazon for convenience), maybe they’ll arrive in time for the special woman in your life – mother, mother-in-law, sister, daughter, daughter-in-law, niece or friend – anyone who should be celebrated for their role as a mother.

IDEAS

My Recommendation: Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See paired with a sampler of Pu’re tea, and a delicate English tea cup and saucer (available from any second-hand or antique store as attics get emptied of Grandma’s favorites). As usual, Lisa See delivers a powerful story of mothers and daughters, this time set among the Akha people of the mountain area of southwest China combined with the economics of growing tea. Below: China pattern inspiration for appearance in Eliza’s story. china

Other Top Suggestions

  • The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. Is this a trend? Asian-American women writing about mother-daughter relationships? Maybe. Doesn’t matter – another great suggestion. Pair it with you own Mah Jongg set for an extra special gift to spend time together.
  • Mothers come in all forms, shapes, sizes, and colors. Sue Monk Kidd’s debut novel, Secret Life of Bees, evokes the idea a mother’s love can come from those beyond the ones that gave us life. Add a delicious jar of honey to accompany this tender story.

little candles

  • Another Hulu adaption which hit the best-seller lists and explores a whole other, dystopian idea of motherhood is Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid Tale. Along a similar vein, if not quite as radical, is The Farm by Joanne Ramos. Both choices would fuel provocative discussions with any mother. Well, maybe not any mother. I’m not sure I could have discussed surrogacy with my Mom. Loved her and miss her, but she was definitely a woman from past generations. Janis Mom Spring 1967 A
  • Another one I’m not familiar with but was mentioned several times: Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss. 
  • The Beach House by Mary Alice Monroe – everyone needs a beach book to read, especially one which extolls how true love involves sacrifice, family is forever and the mistakes of the past can be forgiven. Of course, beach reads means the perfect tote to carry them off to sandy stretches by the shore. beach tote
  • Plenty of others as well which I didn’t have time to fully research. Maybe consider an Amazon gift card for the special Mom in your life to choose her own:
    • A Mother’s Goodbye – Kate Hewitt
    • Charms for the Easy Life – Kaye Gibbons
    • Mama’s Bank Account – Kathryn Forbes
    • Amy and Isabelle – Elizabeth Strout
    • First Mothers – Bonnie Angelo
    • This is How It Always Is – Laurie Franke
    • The Red Tent – Anita Diamant
    • Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood
    • Shell Seekers
    • When I Married My Mother
    • Mama’s Boy – Dustin Lance Black
    • Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Bowers
    • The House of the Spirits – Isabel Allende
    • The Mermaid Chair – Sue Monk Kidd
    • Mom & Me & Mom – Maya Angelou
    • Pachinko – Min Jin Lee
    • Beloved – Toni Morrison
    • Terms of Endearment
    • The Wednesday Sisters
    • The Mother Daughter Book Club
    • A Very Distinctly Outrageous Mother
    • The Habit
    • Joanna Brady series – JA Jance
    • Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
    • Motherest
    • Dream Daughter
    • A Grown Up Kind of Pretty
    • The Mummy Bloggers
    • Karen Kingsbury’s Baxter Family series
    • Janette Oke’s Love Comes Softly series
    • The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinback
    • The Last Anniversary – Liane Moriarity
    • The Bean Trees and Pigs in Heaven – Barbara Kingsolver
    • The Almost Sisters
    • The Family Upstairs
    • Ginny Moon
    • Lots of Candles, Lots of Cake – Anna Quindlen
    • Caroline – biography of Caroline Ingalls
    • One True Thing – Anna Quindlen
    • Dream Daughter – Diane Chamberlain

Finally, I’m treating myself to a few choices by taking advantage of a great offer available on Amazon through May 3rd – 100 e-books under $5 each. I’ve already picked out Elton John’s biography, Me, and Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. Someone can tell my boys to load a gift card onto our Amazon account to cover them. They’re getting off the hook easy this year!

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I invite you to follow my blog for book reviews and to follow my journey toward writing my first historical fiction.  More information in my Novel Synopsis. You can sign up from this page with the pop-up, or send me a note through the CONTACT page and I can email you an invitation to follow. I’m on social media, too:

  • On Facebook @ Janis Robinson Daly – Author — Follow me on Facebook where I also post info on the Amazon Deals I find on books I recommend
  • On Instagram @janisrdaly_writer
  • On Twitter @janisrdaly_writer

Winning the Publication Game

“You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”
― Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird

As in legal cases, the same goes for publishing – you rarely win, but sometimes you do. The only way you’ll ever find out is by fighting the good fight.

I’m continuing my fight toward publishing Eliza’s story with another step closer. Yesterday, I sent the fifth draft out to a professional editor. Over the last two months, I’ve refined my characters and story arc based on feedback from my writing mentor. I also heeded the advice I received at the St. Augustine’s writers’ conference and cut the 50 years span down to 23 years (1897-1920). This rework allows me to focus the story more on Eliza becoming a doctor, and leaves the door open for Book 2 when she is a doctor. 

As I try to remain a realist, I’m bracing for another re-work when I hear back from this editor. She provided me with sample comments for my first eight pages and I realize there will be more work ahead. 

In the meantime, while I wait for those suggested edits, I’m continuing my efforts to build followers of potential readers- like you! – who will be eager to read Eliza’s story when I win the holy grail of publication. To increase my odds of winning those followers, I’d like to enlist your help. 

Enter to Win an Amazon Gift Card  

 amazon gift card giveaway

Between now and April 30th, I’m running a sweepstakes to giveaway a $25 Amazon gift card. It’s free, and easy, to enter and I’ve included methods to award bonus entries. All you have to do is any one of the following:

entry method

RULES

  1. To follow this blog (if you’re not already) – sign up through the pop-up or fill out the form on the Contact page to send me a note. I’ll send you an invite and you need to confirm you want to follow.
  2. To follow me on Facebook (if you’re not already) – click here Facebook @ Janis Robinson Daly – Author Hit follow/like and post a comment to the page that you’re entering the sweepstakes. FYI – I’m posting lots of cool tips on the page, including special deals I find on Kindle – like $1.99 deals.
  3. Send me (5) email addresses of friends – PLEASE OBTAIN PERMISSION FIRST to share these email addresses with me.
    1. Send them through the Contact Page or email to janisrdaly@comcast.net
    2. I’ll be sending them an invite to follow the blog. Even if those friends already follow my blog, you still receive the points. If any new ones sign up, you receive 2 more entries. Same if any of them follow my blog.
  4. On April 30, 2020 at 9pm EST, I will assemble all the entries, including the bonus entries, and will pull the winner through a random number selector.
  5. Winner will be notified by email and sent an e-gift card from Amazon. $25 should buy a good number of Kindle specials to get you through (hopefully) the final stay-at-home weeks.

Questions? Just shoot me a note through the Contact page or comment below.

Good Luck!!  And, Thank You!

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I invite you to follow my blog for book reviews and to follow my journey toward writing my first historical fiction.  More information in my Novel Synopsis. You can sign up from this page with the pop-up, or send me a note through the CONTACT page and I can email you an invitation to follow. I’m on social media, too:

  • On Facebook @ Janis Robinson Daly – Author — Follow me on Facebook where I also post info on the Amazon Deals I find on books I recommend
  • On Instagram @janisrdaly_writer
  • On Twitter @janisrdaly_writer

 

Bookmarked: Reviews Q1 2020

Q1 2020 books

The first three months of the new decade, 2020, will be marked in history. Our surreal month of March has made everyday utterances of Covid-19, social distancing and N59 masks. We’ll all hope these terms will fade into the pages of history very soon. Until then, here are the books I read to start the year. Perhaps one will spark your interest to download to your Kindle account or order up from your Libby app.

From homesteading in late 1800’s Wyoming, to the hospitality of Gander Newfoundland after 9/11, to a commencement speech at U Texas in 2014, my range has been wide and pleasurable.

In no particular order that the design template assembled:

*** Where the Forest Meets the Stars  I’m doubtful I would have chosen this one if it hadn’t been the choice for a library book club I wanted to attend in FLA during our February trip. In some manners, the story evoked another “Where” book – Where the Crawdads Sing. The main characters are both female naturalists who have suffered the loss of their parents. They replace those losses with other forms of love. In Forest, Joanna Teale encounters a lost child who claims to be from another world. Jo struggles with moral questions of keeping the child instead of turning her over to social services. A fairly predictable story unfolds. I did enjoy the meeting, however, and met a few more potential readers for “Eliza’s Story”.  For another look at parallels in storytelling: Parallel Lines

IRB library

**** A Doll’s House  Ibsen’s classic play from 1879. I picked it up for a quick research study into the idea of a New Woman as, like The Awakening by Kate Chopin, it explores a woman’s desires to find a deeper meaning to her life. The opening of my novel delves into this question, too, for 18-year old Eliza Pearson Edwards.

**** One for the Blackbird One for the Crow  A 180-degree turn from Doll’s House to another 1870s came with One for the Blackbird set in the homesteading days of Wyoming. An interesting twist of a murder in the first chapter leaves a wife and her husband’s lover to rely on each other to survive a Wyoming winter. United by a friendship which develops between their children, the women realize the only way to survive is to accept their reality. Rich details of prairie life throughout the nearly 500 pages – my only complaint, it dragged in some spots.

*** Indigo Girl  I had high hopes for this fictionalization of the true story of Eliza Lucas, a South Carolina plantation owner’s daughter who in 1739 was left in charge of the household and managing her father’s businesses while he returns to Grenada seeking a higher military appointment with the Crown. As an untold story of a woman’s success in history, I thought there would be similarities to draw upon for my novel. While the research and information around growing indigo were interesting, I found the writing basic and uninspiring. God, I hope readers don’t say that about my work. Perhaps because I read it right after my writer’s conference, my antennae was pricked to look for over-use of adverbs, redundancies and run-on sentences.

***** Answer Creek  My Good Reads review of the ARC follows. Answer Creek releases May 19, 2020 from my writing mentor and fellow Wheaton alum, Ashley Sweeney. Sending positive thoughts to Ashley that she’ll be able to commence her planned book tour by May. More information on our connection and Ashley’s debut, award-winning novel, Eliza Waite here: I Love My Village.

My feet are sore. My lips are cracked. My stomach yearns. My bones rattle. My eyes freeze. My body aches. My skin burns. My heart weakens. I have walked over two thousand miles from Missouri to California. I have walked in Ada Weeks’ worn boots, with their soles flapping against dust-filled, wagon-rutted paths. I have walked in the boots Ada removed from a dead man to trudge through snow drifts up to her chest.

Ashley Sweeney’s talent to dig deep and pull forth the physical and emotional aspects of a character shines in her second novel, Answer Creek. Ada Weeks, a fictional character inserted into the overland California Trail of the ill-fated Donner Party in 1846, is the heroine of Answer Creek. She earns her title, and then some, through her sheer will and fortitude to survive against the odds and reach the promised land of California where she can start a new life, with or without a man by her side.

Other characters complement Ada on the journey west, but it’s the vivid details and descriptions of the terrain and weather which cast them as antagonistic characters in the story that help them stand on their own.

In a time when women of today still search for the women of history to learn from and lean upon, Ada Weeks is a pioneering character who embodies our pasts and drives our futures. We all need more Ada Weeks in our lives.

P.S. How cool is this? Ashley made an ad of my review – watch for it through social media.

Answer Creek ad

***** What the Wind Knows I discovered this one and the talented writer, Amy Harmon, when I put out a query through my Facebook reading groups for recommendations of a dual timeline novel. I had begun playing with an idea for my second novel during a writing lull while I waiting for more feedback. What the Wind Knows is more of a time travel akin to Outlander than a dual time line (Fall of Marigolds is a better example of a dual time line). Regardless, I’m glad I picked it up for an intriguing story of Ireland in 1921. Our family trip to Ireland came to life reading the fictional love story of Anne Gallagher and Tom Smith entwined with real-life events and the leader of the Irish revolt, Michael Collins. More information here: Imprisoned by Research Details

**** The Day the World Came to Town  How is it I never heard the true story of 38 international flights being grounded in the remote island community of Gander Newfoundland as 9/11 happened? Talk about a community coming together to care for others. Thousands of passengers and crew found themselves spending four days crammed into schools, churches and community centers with bed linens loaned by the townspeople. Those residents also fed them and welcomed strangers of all nationalities into their homes to use showers and phones. A real-life reporting of the experiences, it is now a Broadway show. Let’s hope Broadway opens up again soon. I’d love to see these uplifting story brought to life.

**** Labyrinth of Ice  Forty-eight hours in a car for a round-trip drive from NH to FL gave Jim and I (and Taylor, too) plenty of time to listen to Labyrinth of Ice, a recounting of the Lt. A. W. Greely Expedition to the far reaches of Greenland near the Arctic polar cap beginning in 1881. My God. Being asked to stay inside and watch Netflix is not a story of survival. Twenty-five men spending eight months in make-shift huts living off an occasional seal kill and shrimp caught in hand-made nets, that’s survival. An epic saga of will and faith.

packed for FL

**** Make Your Bed To end the month, I read the short book of former Navy Seal and Admiral William H. McRaven’s address and back story of his speech delivered to the graduating class of the University of Texas at Austin on their Commencement day in 2014. The simplest lessons of succeeding in life can begin with making your bed and being aware of the power we carry within us to overcome. Amen, Admiral. 1850844

I invite you to follow my blog for book reviews and to follow my journey toward writing my first historical fiction.  More information in my Novel Synopsis. You can sign up from this page with the pop-up, or send me a note through the CONTACT page and I can email you an invitation to follow. I’m on social media, too:

  • On Facebook @ Janis Robinson Daly – AuthorFollow me on Facebook where I also post info on the Amazon Deals I find on books I recommend
  • On Instagram @janisrdaly_writer
  • On Twitter @janisrdaly_writer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bookish Report of March 2020

2018 books

Exhausted by an endless stream of news reports, without even the whir of the annoying dribble of March Madness to break up the facts, figures, myths and rumors?

Feeling cabin fever set in after only two days of social distancing?

Afraid binge-watching ten seasons of “Friends” in a single sitting may expand your derriere to the size of a 24-pack of Charmin – which apparently is rarer than a white rhinoceros these days?

Nervous your boss may ask for a video chat while you’re still in your PJs, the kids are in theirs and running amok in the background, and the dog is constantly pawing your leg to remind you it’s ok to open the door and let her out?

It’s time to take a deep breath, hit the remote’s Power Off button, and say thank you to Amazon for inventing the Kindle app and Overdrive for connecting Libby to our local libraries so we can still access books without visiting stores and libraries, which are mostly closed now anyway.

While I have not used Libby and cannot attest to its pros and cons, I am a long-time Kindle user and most recently a Kindle Unlimited member which allows me to download up to ten books a month for a flat monthly charge. I’m never without a full library books right on my tablet with the flick of an ON button.

The best part? A Kindle Unlimited membership is free for your first month – you can try it for the next four weeks of social distancing to get close to thousands of books of your choice. Click HERE for more info and to start your free month trial.

The next dilemma may be – What to Read? I’ve got you covered there, too.

  1. Included on my blog is a separate section of Book Recommendations, many with direct links to Amazon for easy Kindle access.
  2.  Follow my Facebook page where I post book reviews, Special Deals I find on Kindle books – like $.99 – $2.99 – less than a cup of coffee, and of course the continuing journey of writing Eliza’s story.  Facebook @ Janis Robinson Daly – Author

I hope you Stay Well, Stay Calm, and Read On!

Imagination_Susan Cooper

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I invite you to follow my blog for book reviews and to follow my journey toward writing my first historical fiction.  More information in my Novel Synopsis. You can sign up from this page with the pop-up, or send me a note through the CONTACT page and I can email you an invitation to follow. I’m on social media, too:

  • On Facebook @ Janis Robinson Daly – AuthorFollow me on Facebook where I also post info on the Amazon Deals I find on books I recommend
  • On Instagram @janisrdaly_writer
  • On Twitter @janisrdaly_writer

 

A Shell Seeker’s Saga

shells

Among the broken and barnacled, somewhere lies the perfect shell. The challenge lies in patiently picking through them all to find the treasured prize. The shell seeker’s saga reflects my thoughts after attending a writers’ conference in St. Augustine. I continue to search among  broken plot lines and marred character descriptions to find the novel which will shine enough to capture the interest of an agent, publisher, and readers.

Beachside for four days was the simplest difference from the other writer’s retreat I attended in the woods and lakes area of New Hampshire. At that first retreat, time was spent writing and sharing a few selections with the rest of the group along with a couple of moderator-led discussions. At that time, Eliza’s story was young and my writing was naïve and unpolished. Now, I have a finished manuscript, which still needs more polishing, but is at a stage where I can at least describe and “pitch” the story to garner its commercial value and interest.

Led by author/agent, Paula Munier, and author/mentor, Michael Neff, these two professionals guided us in developing our 200 word pitch (hit upon the core plot line, conflict and main character’s story arc), our bio, identifying our genre and choosing appropriate comparables for our story. “Comps” are recent publications which are similar to our stories to capture a reader’s interest and level-set their expectations.  For Eliza’s story – yes – title STILL TBD – I chose Call the Midwife, the PBS series based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth for the theme of women in medicine and episodes related to patient cases. The other comp I provided was Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly for the time period of the early 1900s and the theme of privileged women helping others.

After fine-tuning the pitch based on feedback from Paula and Michael, we began the real practice pitches beginning with a phone call with an Executive Editor from Harper Collins. EXCITING!!  And, even more excited over her feedback:

Sounds great, fascinating theme . . . Would love to pick up and read – loves Call the Midwife… It sounds a little bit sad – nothing has changed – women’s health care, women in science…Stories deserve to be told

She had other feedback as well to hone the pitch even more, which I did that night as homework and then came back again to pitch in person to two other agents / editors. All for practice. They were split, interestingly enough, along gender lines. The man was not interested at all. The woman found the concept compelling and appreciated my personal connection, but I needed a stronger character arc presented.

The biggest take-away from the weekend was the consensus that a fifty year saga would be very difficult for a debut author to pull off and to convince an agent/editor upfront that I can pull it off. This means it’s back to the deep editing stage to re-configure Eliza’s story. I believe, and hope, I have enough material from later chapters I can re-purpose and weave into earlier parts of the story. New writing will be needed to make sure those inserts are coherent.

Beyond the excellent writing feedback from the weekend was the opportunity to meet nine other aspiring authors. Eight women and one man from the eastern US and Midwest. Each of us are writing vastly different novels, from mysteries and thrillers to a memoir to contemporary literary fiction, each story sounds interesting and compelling. I hope we can all stay in touch and abreast of our successes, and struggles, along the way.

I’m taking this week off to drive home and clear my head. Upon arrival home, I should be ready to dive in again and get back to crafting the best story I can to tell the untold stories of the early graduates of the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania.

I just hope our weather back in New England will now be edging toward the sunny days we enjoyed in FLA. PS – If you’ve never been to St. Augustine, I highly recommend it for the great dining options, the beach, and of course, we could all use a splash from the Fountain of Youth!

One more recommendation – If you’ve never watched Call the Midwife on PBS, Season 9 premiers on March 29th in the US. The first eight seasons are on Amazon Prime and other services. Season One HERE.

St Aug comboAdded Note: According to the publishing professionals I spoke with the once popular family sagas over the years and generations is on the wane. Is that a reflection of the emergence of the “instant gratification” generation of readers? Or is it a means to help authors have a second novel at the ready with “Part Two”?

When was the last time you picked up a 650 page novel like Rosamunde Pilcher’s The Shell Seekers? Published in 1988 I know it’s been years for me. But, if you’re looking for a spring beach vacation read, check it out. It’s available on Amazon. Click HERE.

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I invite you to follow my blog for book reviews and to follow my journey toward writing my first historical fiction.  More information in my Novel Synopsis. You can sign up from this page with the pop-up, or send me a note through the CONTACT page and I can email you an invitation to follow. I’m on social media, too:

  • On Facebook @ Janis Robinson Daly – AuthorFollow me on Facebook where I also post info on the Amazon Deals I find on books I recommend
  • On Instagram @janisrdaly_writer
  • On Twitter @janisrdaly_writer

Are you an avid Kindle reader? You may want to check into a Kindle Unlimited membership – totally worth it! Click HERE for more info and a free month trial.

And The Winner Is…

Wings

Who’s watching and making predictions for the Oscars tonight? Since Little Women is the only nominated film I’ve seen (Adapted Screenplay and Costume Design), I can claim no rights to make any valid predictions.

What I will be curious to hear is whether any discussion around the Best Picture nominee, 1917, includes talk of the very first Best Picture winner at the 1927 Awards show: WINGS. Released nine years after the end of WWI when silent movies were taking Hollywood by storm, WINGS tells the story of the daring aces of the Lafayette Air Corps. Directed by William Wellman, who went on to other movie fame and received the Directors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, the movie is loosely based on Wellman’s experience as an American aviator during WWI as told in the novel, Go Get ‘Em, which he wrote. Or, so the story goes.

The introduction to Go Get ‘Em was penned by one Eliot H. Robinson, my grandfather. Given the style of prose and his future success in publishing, Robinson family lore contends Eliot ghostwrote Go Get ‘Em for Wellman, who was a family friend from Brookline, MA. My grandfather died in 1942 before any of his grandchildren could ask him about the truth of the story. But, it’s an interesting thought to consider and a myth to carry on.

For my beta readers of Eliza’s story to date, you’ll notice references to Go Get ‘Em. Like Sam Mendes who notes the inspiration for 1917 came from stories he heard from his grandfather, I have also been inspired by stories about my grandfather. Family history is rich fodder for ideas for novels, especially historical fiction.

If 1917 wins tonight, and even if it doesn’t, I wonder if the allure of it is large enough to create a shift in publishing? Will historical fiction finally plug the onslaught of stories tied to WWII and creep back in time to WWI? I’ll be keeping a close eye on new releases, with the hopes that by the time Eliza’s story is finally published, the chapters devoted to the era and events around WWI, will help to capitalize on that hoped for trend.

WINGS – Available on Amazon Prime Video

For anyone interested, WINGS, is available on Amazon Prime Video to rent for $3.99, click HERE. Starring Clara Bow, an actress my mother used to mention, and a small appearance by Gary Cooper, it’s a great look back to the heydays of Hollywood, and makes you appreciate all the more the advances in cinematography. 

EHR Sr WWI

Eliot H. Robinson, Sr. served in WWI as a Field Secretary for the American Expeditionary Forces and fitness trainer with the YMCA, ended up as an ambulance driver.

Of course, I’ll also be watching tonight for the red carpet fashions. Our niece, Maggie, works in celebrity relations for Louis Vuitton. I’m always excited to see who she’s worked with to showcase dresses from LV. Last year’s dress for Emma Roberts at the Golden Globes was beautiful, IMHO. Fashion Forward, January 13, 2019.

And, anyone interested in the early days of Hollywood, I recommend City of Flickering Light by Juliette Fay. More information on the book and my connection to Juliette here, Shine a Spotlight, April 30, 2019.

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I invite you to follow my blog for book reviews and to follow my journey toward writing my first historical fiction.  More information in my Novel Synopsis. You can sign up from this page with the pop-up, or send me a note through the CONTACT page and I can email you an invitation to follow. I’m on social media, too:

  • On Facebook @ Janis Robinson Daly – AuthorFollow me on Facebook where I also post info on the Amazon Deals I find on books I recommend
  • On Instagram @janisrdaly_writer
  • On Twitter @janisrdaly_writer

Are you an avid Kindle reader? You may want to check into a Kindle Unlimited membership – totally worth it! Click HERE for more info and a free month trial.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Growing a Thick Skin

subject-armadillo

I’ve spent the past twenty years in sales, a career I never thought I’d be in when I began in marketing where creativity is balanced with strategic thought. In sales, success comes from an ability to think strategically to assess the best approach to use with a potential client. When a 15% close rate is considered above average, you quickly learn how to grow a thick skin in order to pick up the phone or send the next email again the next day.

My thick skin served me well this week as I read the feedback from my writing mentor. Eliza’s story needs more work. The potential is there to take a good story and make a great story, if I’m willing to put in the work.

I’m ready to dig in buoyed by previous positive reinforcement from my beta readers. They provided me with the initial confidence I needed to send my full manuscript out to Ashley for a critique. Comments such as:

From a writing retreat peer: Eliza feels so real now, which means you have absolutely succeeded as a writer.

From a book club friend: The changes you made to the beginning of the book are beautifully thought out and really set the stage for the entire story. The scene with <Character X’s> passing brought me to tears. 

From a writing group peer and medical professional: … patient case is very moving. Certainly reminiscent of my feelings of losing my first patient.

While I will continue to cling to these words, I will also take to heart Ashley’s recommendations:

Be loyal to Eliza’s story. It’s her story.  

Strip the fluff, and some of that is your hard earned research.

Work on Character X so he’s not one-dimensional. You want readers to be conflicted too. 

Befriend dialogue, use it, read it aloud.

Write tightly, eliminate articles (a, the) as often as possible.

Linger in some of your scenes.

And, the bane of a writer’s existence – Show, don’t tell.

I am grateful Ashley took me on in the middle of her own busy writing and publishing schedule (second historical novel, Answer Creek, launching in May – watch for my ARC copy review soon, and working on her third novel due out in 2022). Keeping her notes handy, even to the point of placing a sticky note with one directive onto my screen as a reminder, I will move forward. I’ll pick up my red pen and get to a spot where every spot of the story shines.

As Ashley also pointed out, I have something very special here. And, the other note I’ll post to my screen is her encouragement for my work:

I remain a steadfast champion of you and your work and see a bright future ahead for you as a novelist. That said, there is hard work to do. You have something very special here, and I want to see it shine. 

Me, too.

More information about the power of networking and how I connected with Ashley, another Wheaton alumna, here: I Love My Village.

Ashley’s debut historical fiction and winner of the 2017 Nancy Pearl Book Award, Eliza Waite (yes! Eliza) is available on Amazon, click HERE.

 

I invite you to follow my blog for book reviews and to follow my journey toward writing my first historical fiction.  More information in my Novel Synopsis. You can sign up from this page with the pop-up, or send me a note through the CONTACT page and I can email you an invitation to follow. I’m on social media, too:

  • On Facebook @ Janis Robinson Daly – AuthorFollow me on Facebook where I also post info on the Amazon Deals I find on books I recommend
  • On Instagram @janisrdaly_writer
  • On Twitter @janisrdaly_writer

Are you an avid Kindle reader? You may want to check into a Kindle Unlimited membership – totally worth it! Click HERE for more info and a free month trial.

 

 

 

Imprisoned by Research Details

kilmanham gaol

One reason I wanted to start my writing journey with historical fiction is to fuel my interest in learning about places, people and things of our past. From the past we may learn for our future.

The challenge comes with balancing the pages and pages of research notes, and using them in my story without becoming a textbook, nor bog down the forward flow of the plotline and character developments. Today, I heard an initial comment back from my writing mentor I am guilty as charged in several spots of my manuscript. I may need to “slash mounds of background info”.

The details you write show your research, but is it all really necessary? Every single graf has to move the story along.

I intend to remain positive and look forward to seeing her suggestions for spots to slash so I can break out of my self-imposed jail of details and start fresh. The good news – there will be opportunities to share my research through future blog posts, speaking engagements, interviews, etc.

Another mark of well-written historical fiction, beyond the balance of details, occurs when the reader is compelled to conduct additional research on their own. Based on recommendations which came in from my query out through social media and my prior post, I received several suggestions to read What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon as an example of dual timelines / time travel.

While there are similarities with the Outlander series, weaving in a strong romance of a present day woman with a man of the past, the story of Anne Gallagher stands on its own as a powerful story of the love between a man and woman, a grandfather and granddaughter and between a country and her people. In this case, the country is Ireland and her people are the revolutionaries of the 1919-1921 rebellion. If you’re not of Irish descent, you may not have been exposed to much of the background of The Troubles and its leaders, like Michael Collins. What the Wind Knows in 400 pages provides an excellent history lesson.

While I was reading, I was looking on a map to find Dromahair to place it in context to Dublin and the areas we traveled to during our family trip in 2017. I also researched more about Michael Collins and the controversy over the Treaty he negotiated with Great Britain in 1922.

I hope with Eliza’s story readers will feel compelled to learn more about some of the topics I present. Whether it’s the start of the Spanish influenza, or the medical realities of women’s health issues of the first half of the 1900s, all I need to do is create a spark, not an entire raging inferno.

What the Wind Knows is available on Amazon  — click HERE.

Picture from Kilmanham Gaol, Dublin – highly recommended spot if you travel to Dublin. I would go there over the Guinness factory tour – more educational and Guinness should be enjoyed in one of the many pubs of Dublin for an authentic taste of Ireland.

I invite you to follow my blog for book reviews and to follow my journey toward writing my first historical fiction.  More information in my Novel Synopsis. You can sign up from this page with the pop-up, or send me a note through the CONTACT page and I can email you an invitation to follow. I’m on social media, too:

  • On Facebook @ Janis Robinson Daly – AuthorFollow me on Facebook where I also post info on the Amazon Deals I find on books I recommend
  • On Instagram @janisrdaly_writer
  • On Twitter @janisrdaly_writer

Are you an avid Kindle reader? You may want to check into a Kindle Unlimited membership – totally worth it! Click HERE for more info and a free month trial.

 

 

 

2020 Double Vision

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A new month, a new year, a new decade. Many exciting adventures lie ahead and I have huge hopes for this year on many fronts. Of course one of them is centered on securing an agent and bringing Eliza’s story a few more steps closer to publication. As 2019 wrapped up, I sat and listened to the entire novel through the Text to Speech function on Word. This helped me identify typos, punctuation errors and run-on sentences. The voice was a bit robotic, but it served its purpose for now and I was able to test out my new wireless headphones Santa Jim put under the tree.

Eliza is now in the hands of a critique partner for a deep dive into review for ways to craft an even more compelling story and characters.  So now what do I do while I sit on my hands and wait? Nibble my fingernails – yes, they’re looking ragged. Scroll through endless social media posts – yes, looks like friends all had wonderful, perfect holidays. Pack up the Christmas decorations – yes, all the storage boxes are back in the basement.

Next?

Give some thought to a potential second novel. Sounds crazy, but from what I’ve researched, agents will want to know you have more than one book in you. They are more willing to take a chance on you if they know you can produce. This weekend I tossed around a few ideas in my head. I’ve got a character and situation in mind which would be another historical fiction. I think the premise would be interesting to explore through a sequence of events to tie characters together through two stories/two time periods which fit together into one. More work to be done with the idea and an initial outline is in order, but I think it could be compelling.

One place to start my research will be to read comparable books with a dual timeline approach. Last night I posted through some “reading” Facebook groups for favorite historical fiction dual timeline titles. Wow – what a response.

In less than 24 hours, 116 people suggested 73 different titles! Some of them are I believe time-travel more than my intent of looking for a true dual timelines, but all sound interesting. I guess I’ve got my work count out for me starting with the most often recommended titles:

  1.  Outlander by Diane Gabaldon. Book One is on special on Kindle right now for $5.99. I’ve already read the first one in the eight-part series and can always catch up with the story on Netflix. Plus, I tend to think Outlander is more time-travel vs. dual timeline.
  2. A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner, or almost any title by Susan, including a couple of mentions for her latest, Last Year of the War. I read Marigolds last spring and loved it. I had it mind when I began to think of a dual timeline and how a single object can serve as a connection between two stories. Highly recommend.
  3. 11/22/63 by Stephen King. I had never heard of this one before and after reading the description and endorsement from five different people, I’m intrigued to find out how King worked a time-travel/dual timeline from sleepy Maine to the eventful day in Dallas.*
  4. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Also time-travel and something in my head makes me think I started to read this one years ago. Will have to give it another shot, plus it’s a romance. Sounds like a beach-side read.*
  5. The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. This one sounds great! Post WWII to escape from the over-done pile of WWII novels combined with WWI Europe which is getting a resurgence now with the movie, 1917, out in theatres.
  6. The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish. Checking in at close to 600-pages, there is a reason I abandoned this book. I tried to push to 100 pages and found the movement too slow and the stories too involved to follow in a coherent manner.
  7. The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. Hmm. Time-travel, set in Scotland, strong female main character. Written ten years after the first Outlander, sounds too similar to me, but many folks suggested it, so I may have to look at it closer.
  8. Timeline by Michael Crichton. Also sounds more like time-travel, but a Crichton novel is always a thriller, so worth a fuller review.
  9. Blackout and All Clear, two novels by Connie Willis. A two-part series around historians in 2060 who travel back to 1940 WWII events.
  10. Briar Rose by Jane Yolen. A German re-telling of Sleeping Beauty during WWII – yes, another WWII novel. May skip this one.

Anyone read any of the above? What might your recommendations be for me to read and learn how to craft this new idea?

*Bonus – these were questions tonight on the Jeopardy Champion of Tournaments and I could answer!

I invite you to follow my blog for those in-depth reviews and to follow my journey toward writing my first historical fiction.  More information in my Novel Synopsis. You can sign up from this page with the pop-up, or send me a note through the CONTACT page and I can email you an invitation to follow. I’m on social media, too:

  • On Facebook @ Janis Robinson Daly – AuthorFollow me on Facebook where I also post info on the Amazon Deals I find on books I recommend
  • On Instagram @janisrdaly_writer
  • On Twitter @janisrdaly_writer

Are you an avid Kindle reader? You may want to check into a Kindle Unlimited membership – totally worth it! Click HERE for more info and a free month trial.