Tag Archives: k.e. garvey

The Art of Keeping Secrets

It seems I go through reading ‘spurts’ where I tend to read compulsively. Then I write. The last month or so has been a spurt. My latest reading, a book by an author I’ve read in the past, The Art of Keeping Secrets, by Patti Callahan Henry.

Synopsis:

Since a plane crash killed her husband two years ago, Annabelle Murphy has found solace in raising her two children. Just when she thinks the grief is behind her, she receives the news that the wreckage of the small plane has been discovered and that her husband did not die alone. He was with another woman. Suddenly, Annabelle is forced to question everything she once held true.

Sophie Parker knows the woman who was on that plane. A dolphin researcher who has lived a quiet life, Sophie has never let anyone get too close. But when Annabelle shows up on Sophie’s doorstep full of painful questions, both women must confront their intertwining pasts, and find the courage to face the truth.

Review:

This is a story about two women: one who doesn’t know the truth, and one who knows it but can’t share it.

the-art-of-keeping-secretsAnnabelle is living on autopilot since her husband died in a plane crash. She has her friends, her kids, and her job and is quite content to live a predictable life filled with memories. Sofie is trying to find her way through life. She has a job she loves, a man who loves her (even if it isn’t exactly healthy love), and a lifetime of secrets. The one thing these women have in common is that they are both weak characters. Annabelle can’t stand up for herself or to anyone, including her obnoxiously entitled daughter, while Sofie can’t fight her way out of a relationship where she is treated like the cute new puppy of a much older man.

For what the story was, it took the author a long time to get there, especially considering Annabelle found Sofie so early on. It was a bloated story filled with stiff characters. In far too many cases, the dialogue was too formal to feel real.

I hate to see one book take away from an otherwise good author, but this one did. I have read her work in the past and enjoyed it, but found little to redeem this title. The book was extremely predictable, the characters less than believable, and it took the very long way to get to the meat of the story.

I believe this is one of Henry’s earlier works. Although I haven’t read her titles in order, it seems to me that the more she writes, the better she gets – as it should be. Unfortunately, for some that isn’t the case.

This book wasn’t a horrible read. It simply did not stand up to the standards of many of her titles. Don’t let that fact keep you from picking up a Henry book, but in my opinion, make sure it was published 2012 or later.

Patti Callahan Henry is usually a 4+ star writer, but The Art of Keeping Secrets fell a bit flat at 3-stars (Just okay).

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The Innocent Sleep

I hope you all are having a wonderful Thanksgiving and were able to spend it with loved ones. I was able to come home for a short stay to see my daughter and her family. Until he teaches me how to fly the plane (I say that like I’m serious), I’ll spend my in-air hours reading.

Karen Perry, the author of The Innocent Sleep is actually two authors: Paul Perry and Karen Gillece, both prize-winning authors and both having written critically acclaimed books. I didn’t know that fact before reading this title and only learned of it as I read the back matter of the book. The reason I mention this fact is that it runs parallel to my review.

Synopsis:

Tangiers. Harry is preparing his wife’s birthday dinner while she is still at work and their son, Dillon, is upstairs asleep in bed. Harry suddenly remembers that he’s left Robin’s gift at the café in town. It’s only a five-minute walk away and Dillon’s so tricky to put down for the night, so Harry decides to run out on his own and fetch the present.
Disaster strikes. An earthquake hits, buildings crumble, people scream and run. Harry fights his way through the crowd to his house, only to find it razed to the ground. Dillon is presumed dead, though his body is never found.
Five years later, Harry and Robin have settled into a new kind of life after relocating to their native Dublin. Their grief will always be with them, but lately, it feels as if they’re ready for a new beginning. Harry’s career as an artist is taking off and Robin has just realized that she’s pregnant.
But when Harry gets a glimpse of Dillon on the crowded streets of Dublin, the past comes rushing back at both of them. Has Dillon been alive all these years? Or was what Harry saw just a figment of his guilt-ridden imagination? With razor-sharp writing, Karen Perry’s The Innocent Sleep delivers a fast-paced, ingeniously plotted thriller brimming with deception, doubt, and betrayal.

Review:

the-innocent-sleep

The story follows Harry and Robin in a non-linear fashion through their relationship. It switches viewpoints at almost every chapter, between Harry and Robin, but not always in chronological order. This isn’t a huge problem, although there were a couple times I had to pause to figure out if I was reading ‘now or then’.

The characters were fleshed out enough to sympathize with, their personalities different and consistent. There was not a lot of setting description, which I liked, as I am not one who wants every little detail written out. I’d rather garner a few details from the book and imagine the rest for myself.

When I say the fact that there were two authors for this title runs parallel to my review, I am referring to the actual writing. The first three-quarters of the book are written out, a pace set and maintained, until the three-quarter mark. At that point, it changes. It begins to read like elaborate bullet points, the narrator telling the sequence of events one paragraph at a time. It reads like a narration to no one in particular, even though it is basically precise details being told to one particular person, in most cases Dillon. Even after Harry is killed, he relays the account of what happened to his son. I found that awkward as the entire book was written in real time, so this transfer of information did not seem to fit. It was obviously for the reader’s benefit. I saw it as a lazy way to reveal what had happened in as few words as possible. At one point, the thought crossed my mind that it wasn’t reading like the same author anymore. I have no way of knowing how these authors split the writing, and I may very well be wrong about one person writing the last quarter of the book, but learning there were two authors somehow vindicated my initial impression.

At one point near the end, a new POV character, Garrick, is introduced. Even though it is not the first mention of him in the book, the fact that a new POV was introduced so late in the story had an odd feel to it. It went from being Harry and Robin’s story and all of a sudden, it was Garrick’s story, too.

Entertainment Weekly said, “You won’t see the twist coming.” I don’t agree. The main storyline was predictable, and a little drawn out. What I didn’t see coming and saw no real reason for other than shock value, was Harry’s death.

There were reasons to keep reading, but there were also things that slowed it down. The Innocent Sleep was not a bad read and worthy of 3.5 stars on Amazon’s review system.

Have you read The Innocent Sleep? Share your thoughts…


Troubleshooting Your Novel… by Steven James

I own a number of writing reference books. A ridiculously, too-large (463) number if I were being honest. I suppose you could say I collect them as others might collect tiny spoons emblazoned with artwork of their corresponding state or coasters from their favorite bars.

I haven’t read each one in its entirety, although I have read parts of each of them. I use them for exactly what the genre suggests: reference. Sometimes I turn to them for an answer to a question I am grappling with. Other times, I skim through and read particular sections that seem to jump-start my mind when it has stalled. But every once in a slim while, I read one because it is just THAT informative (and useful). I recently purchased one such book. This is going to sound more like a plug for the book rather than a review, but it is just that good.

Troubleshooting Your Novel just came out. Actually, it was in bookstores before the publication date Amazon has listed. It’s so new that, who knows, I may have actually been the very first person to purchase it!

Writer’s Digest puts out some of the best writing reference/guides on the market. They make use of many authors, Steven James (author of Story Trumps Structure)  being one of them.

I am not going to give a blow-by-blow of what is offered within the pages of the book, as there is just so much, but I will highlight some of my favorite parts.

First, my personal favorite part: Fine Tuning My Manuscript. This section ends each chapter of the book. Rather than tell you what you should be doing, it engages you by making you ask yourself the how, what, where, why type questions that are the basis of your novel. At least for me, it caused me to look at my current WIP a bit differently, seeing crucial aspects that had gone unnoticed up until that point.

Another section I really like is the Fixing _____ Issues, which correlated with each chapter heading (transitions, symbolism, theme, etc.)

There are eighty different sections divided into five parts to help you troubleshoot any issue you could possibly find within your manuscript.

I can’t think of a single aspect of storytelling that isn’t covered within the pages of this book. I rarely review reference books but felt compelled to do so with this book because it is so new on the market and at the time of this review, there aren’t any on Amazon to help a potential reader make their decision.

As I said, I have far too many (useless) reference books on my shelves. If I had to pare down, this book would definitely make the cut. I’d even go as far as to say it’d make the top 10. It’s. That. Good.

troubleshooting-your-novel

Troubleshooting Your Novel


Kenyan Smith

It’s been so long since I’ve done an interview, I almost feel like a newbie again! I have been so busy lately between a move, a new job, and a new release that I have had to learn to juggle a few more balls.

Today, after my hiatus from Ink Drop, I am happy to have Kenyan Smith with me. I interviewed Kenyan five years ago (You can check out that interview Here).

IDI – Welcome back, Kenyan. Those five years flew!

KS – Thank you for having me, again.

IDI – We all like to receive positive reviews. What is your reaction to a negative review? Be honest.

kendrasdiaries3D

Kendra’s Diaries

KS – It’s like a punch in the gut. The first time I received a negative review I felt sick the entire day. But you learn you will get negative reviews everybody does. So you have to read/listen with an open mind.  You pick out what you can use to improve and shake off the rest. It’s not always easy but in order to move past negative reviews you must do it.

IDI – Think back to the first book you wrote and then the last book you wrote. In what ways have you grown?

KS – In 2011 when I wrote my first book, I was greener than grass in many ways. One of the most important ways was back then I was focused far too much on writing the book and not enough on what comes next.

Writing and marketing can’t be mutually exclusive. And marketing isn’t screaming “buy my book!” But it’s developing and nurturing relationships that can and should go beyond me as just a writer.

My writing is a reflection of who I am. But the key to attracting and maintaining my readers/fan base is to give them me. The biggest way I’ve grown has been to expand my capacity to give of myself.

IDI – What are you working on now? Can we get a peek, an excerpt maybe to tickle our taste buds?

KS – I’m currently working on my first non-fiction book tentatively titled Gurl Let Him Goooo! It’s nonfiction however it’s based on one of my real life relationships.

The book will discuss what happens when you fall in love, then realize the relationship is not good for you and the pain and process of letting go.

IDI – I’ve had one of them! (As I’m sure many of us have). The only difference for me was the pain came during. Letting go was the relief from it.

What works for you? Give us a rundown of your ‘writing process’ from beginning to finished product.

KS – It would look like this:

  1. Develop a concept for a book/What I want the book to say/do.
  2. Outline each chapter
  3. Write each chapter with paper and pen
  4. Type out each chapter
  5. Complete the manuscript
  6. Have it edited by professional editor
  7. Redo based on edits
  8. Final proof

IDI – What is the kindest comment/compliment you have ever received from a fan regarding your work?

KS – A young lady told me she felt like she was Kendra (the main character of my Young Adult Growing Pains Series). She felt as if she was reading about herself. She totally identified with her.

IDI – Favorite author, and why?-Sidney Sheldon.

KS – He was a master story teller.

IDI – What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about writing? How has this helped you as a writer?

KS – The most beneficial thing I can be for my readers is real. I believe I have something positive and valuable to offer the world and I want to share it.

It helped me as a writer because I’m not trying to be this writer or that writer; I’m being me. I have confidence in that.

IDI – How much time/effort do you give to social media as a means of self-promotion?

KS – I believe you are always self-promoting whether you mean to or not. So, I spend a lot of time on social media connecting and sharing about life in general.

IDI – Is there a particular area of your writing (getting ideas, revision, editing, et cetera) where you seem to struggle the most and how do you overcome it?

KS – I don’t like editing. For me it’s the most painful part of the writing process.

I try to take more care with the initial manuscript which can make editing a much less egregious process.

IDI – I’ve heard that more than a few times!

What’s the best advice ever given to you, and by whom?

KS – One of my closest friends told me when I was struggling with the fear of making a wrong decision, “What you think you are going to go through the rest of your life without making another mistake? You will make mistakes but you will do what you always do. You’ll learn and grow from them.”

It was one of the most freeing moments of my life. I’m free to move forward with what I know and can do at any given time. When I make mistakes I learn, grow, and move on.

newbeginnings3D

New Beginnings

IDI – That’s sound advice.

Have you ever wanted to give up? What stopped you?

KS – Absolutely but not anymore. It’s easy to give up. It takes strength and courage to keep going no matter what. That’s who I am so that’s what I do.

IDI – In your opinion, what are the biggest misconceptions new authors have about the publishing industry?

KS – The same two I had when I began.

1. If I write a great book interested readers will just somehow magically appear.

2. Social media followers automatically = paying customers. They can be but there is a process a bridge between the two and that’s developing and nurturing the relationships.

IDI – They are misconceptions many new authors have, among others.

You’ve said that editing is your least favorite aspect of the writing process, what is the hardest or most frustrating aspect of writing: ideas, getting started, writer’s block, re-writing?

KS – Fortunately I’ve never had a problem with coming up with ideas or have experienced writer’s block. The hardest thing for me is finding significant amounts of time to write. My blocks are finding blocks of time to steal away and release all the ideas and thoughts inside. When I can find the time everything just flows.

IDI – Why don’t you tell the readers a bit about your other profession.

KS – I’m also a life/relationship coach. I allowed a major wrong decision take too many years from me. I’m committed to helping people not to fear making decisions. But to have confidence in their decision making ability and to see each decision as a step forward on their path to their individual destiny.

I want to help each person I’m fortunate to come in contact with to Live Their Best Life Possible.

IDI – Fun question. Your last book is racing up the best seller list. You’ve been invited to a sit down with Oprah. Describe your reaction to the news and your preparation for the show.

KS – I scream for about an hour really I would. Oprah is my girl crush!!

Honestly, my prep wouldn’t be that much. Oprah can smell a line a mile away. I would mainly focus on staying calm and being myself. I believe that would ensure an awesome interview!

IDI – I don’t know of an author who hasn’t dreamed of sitting on Oprah’s couch at some point!

One last question, what is the single most important thing you share with others?

KS – Life is truly what you make it. We can’t sit idly by while life happens to us and then complain when we don’t get what we want.

We are the captain of our own ship. It’s up to each one of us to be accountable for our own lives, success and happiness.

IDI – Thank you so much for joining me again, Kenyan. You’re one busy lady and we wish you the very best with your current and future endeavors.

To learn more about Kenyan and her work, please visit her at the following links:

http://www.iamkpsmith.com/
https://twitter.com/IAMKPSmith
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4825693.K_P_Smith
http://www.thegrowingpainsseries-shortstories.com/

K.E. Garvey is the award-winning author of Lily White Lies, The Red Strokes, and her latest release, Cry Like A Girl.

www.kegarvey.com


A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman

It’s been a while since I have given a review… but then, it’s been a while since I’ve had time to read for pleasure. I took advantage of a recent break in my work schedule and caught up on my reading. The first book I read was A Man Called Ove.

I’m going to keep my review brief due to time constraints, and vague as not to give away spoilers.

Synopsis:

In this bestselling and delightfully quirky debut novel from Sweden, a grumpy yet lovable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time? Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations. A feel-good story in the spirit of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Fredrik Backman’s novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful and charming exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others.

Review:

This book was a little different than many of the books I read. If you can stick it out, it is a good book. But for some, the beginning will be too hard to stick with. It starts off slow and other than to be a truly stand-up guy like his father before him, there wasn’t much to hold my interest in Ove or his life. I don’t want to give spoilers, but I will say, stick it out. Touching and heartfelt, overall worth the read.


Wade Fransson

Today I welcome Wade Fransson, author of The People of the Sign, and other titles. He’s here with me today to talk about his books and writing, but before the interview I just wanted to say when you’re through here, you might want to take a peek at his website as it is one of the most eclectic and interesting author websites I’ve ever seen.

IDI – Wade, lets start off by giving everyone a taste of what you’re working on now.

Wade Fransson

Wade Fransson

WF – The Rod of Iron is the conclusion to a trilogy that began with The People of the Sign. This final volume reaches back to the origins of mankind and the recent archaeological finds at Goebekli Tepe to answer questions about who and what we are today, and where we’re headed.  This book has been submitted to the voting process with Something Or Other Publishing, and I’m about 300 votes away from the 1,000 vote target. http://tinyurl.com/V4TRoI

IDI – I voted for you! I hope you reach your goal. When did you first know that you were meant to be a writer?

WF – I don’t know that I was, but darn it, I’m going to force myself upon the world, like that Blind Melon Bee-girl. Now that I am a published author I rarely meet anyone who doesn’t believe they’ve got one good book in them, if they only had the help to bring it forth – so I guess we’re all just pregnant women looking for a competent midwife.

IDI – Give us a rundown of your writing process, beginning to finished product.

WF – The ideas simmer for ages, then I write randomly, in spurts, at first, and then under self-imposed deadlines. The basic broad brush strokes are laid down when I’m awakened at night and can’t sleep, or when I lock myself in a place away from home, and then it all gets finished in rewrites that are typically reviewed, chapter by chapter, by a hand-picked set of 3-5 fans. Their input is invaluable, not so much on plot, but on broken and missing pieces, and most importantly, I need cheerleaders to write.

IDI – Your process sounds very much like my own (and I don’t think any of us mind getting a boost from a cheerleader or two!)

Everyone has their own style/voice if they’re doing their job right, but who would you say your work most resembles?

WF – I’ve patterned my work after Robert Pirsig – of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle” fame. There is some vague similarity to the subject matter, but it’s the way the story is told which gave me wheels (pun intended). I actually look forward to my next book, in which I’m going to try a new approach, but my trilogy owes everything to that seminal book.

IDI – In this era of the hashtag, how much time/effort do you give to social media as a means of self-promotion?

WF – Way too much. And yet it is critical. What I’m trying to do is constantly improve and find ways to build on what I learn. It’s a social school of very hard knocks, but you certainly can’t ignore it. And in the beginning fans are won one at a time.

IDI – You’re right, it is critical – and time-consuming!

Tell us, what do you feel are the biggest misconceptions new authors have about the publishing industry?

WF – I feel writers approach it in two ways. On the one hand, many view it as a lottery system, they pay their dues and

The People of the Sign

The People of the Sign

hope one day to get lucky. On the other hand you have the tortured artist vs. the evil empire syndrome. To me, the truth is in the middle. It’s a business, and Vitamin C is important. Contacts. Who you know. But emerging authors should look to mentors to guide their activities, and realize that their odds of ultimate success are relatively high, if they are willing to define success as something less than being a superstar, and are willing to approach it as though it’s the Iron Man Triathlon, vs. a 100 yard dash.

IDI – What is your absolute, all-time favorite book?

WF – Frank Herbert’s Dune. I’ve read that mammoth book 3 times. And though it was years ago, it had it all. Two movies later, nobody has come close to capturing 1/100th of it.

IDI – Who, in your opinion, was the best character ever written, and why?

WF – Well, since I went with Dune I’ll go with Paul M’aud Dib – the “Dune Messiah”. He had the tragic childhood story, he was a conflicted hero, torn by great pressure and the weight of decisions, an exceptional human being in an extraordinary situation, whose entire life is determined by forces way beyond his ability to deal with them. It is these external forces that define him as an individual, and Frank Herbert creates a complex character that is flawlessly integrated into the complex universe of Dune.

IDI – He sounds interesting.

Popular music features heavily in your work. How did you decide which songs and lyrics to feature in your book?

WF – Music impacted my life in powerful ways. I gradually came to understand that music is a universal language of the heart. There is a lot of intellectual “stuff” in my trilogy so I knew it needed to be laced with the music to reach people in the right way emotionally, compared to telling stories about real people and events in a sensationalistic manner. Once it became clear that I could, and should, use a Beatles song title not only for the chapter titles, but every single subheading, that eliminated the need to quote Beatles lyrics, for which I probably wouldn’t have been granted permission. The lyrics that did present themselves to me I consider a gift. Then I ended up having to erase key pieces when I failed to obtain publishing rights – thankfully I got a few critical ones. There’s a tip for new writers, start the process of obtaining rights early.

IDI – I’ve never had to obtain publishing rights for music, but I’ve always thought it wouldn’t be nearly as easy as some might think.

What got you off the couch to actually start putting your ideas on paper?

WF – I was newly married, and my wife was pregnant, and there was something about having a child on the way that drove me, relentlessly, to do this. Some kind of “dysfunctional family” male nesting instinct – which has something to do with the lost personal connectivity between my grandfather and father. While my wife was pregnant I had a painful move from California to Wisconsin, and United Air Lines was so much to blame for my pain, that I wrote a 16 page story called “A Thousand Little Pieces” just to get it out of my system. In that story United Air Lines was the metaphor for an organization I had been a part of, and although it is humorous, not a serious story, it is to The People of the Sign as Hobbit is to The Fellowship of the Ring. I say that knowing my 16 pages are infinitely inferior to The Hobbit, so don’t take that as narcissistic Hubris – it’s more like a fractal pattern.

IDI – It’s funny what sparks motivation. Wade, thank you so much for joining me today, I wish you the very best with your writing and invite readers to check out the links below to learn more about you and your work.

WF – Thank you for having me.

Visit Wade’s author blog for The People of the Sign. And be sure to stop by his WEBSITE as there is something to interest everyone there.

K.E. Garvey is the author of the award-winning Lily White Lies, The Red Strokes, and the Like A Girl series (Cry, Run, and Fight Like A Girl)

Kathy Reinhart

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