BOOKS BY MY FRIENDS: Wave in D Minor by LAURY A. EGAN

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Wave in D Minor by Laury A. Egan

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Welcome to Books By My Friends, Laury! Thanks for popping in to tell us about Wave in D Minor.

JH: What’s the blurb for your book?

LAE: Leslie Chase, a young composer, receives the use of an ocean-side Maine house from her patron so she may complete her first opera. As Leslie battles loneliness and winter snowstorms, she meets a handsome but troubled man, Matti, and becomes enmeshed with him and his enigmatic relationship with her benefactor. When three opera singers visit, one of them, Sasha, begins to flirt with her, evoking Leslie’s sexual ambivalence and traumatic memories of an affair between her mother and another woman that inspired the choice of her opera’s subject—the relationships of Vita Sackville-West with Violet Trefusis and Virginia Woolf. As the emotional spaces between the characters compress, mysteries are exposed that lead to violent conflict.

JH: What inspired you to write Wave in D Minor?

LAE: Although the book is for non-opera lovers as well as those enjoy opera and classical music, I wanted to describe the creative process and the solitariness that is often inherent with following a creative life. The setting–Maine coast in winter–added to the bleakness, which, in turn led to suspense.

JH: What one thing do you love most about writing?

LAE: I began writing at age seven (poetry) and have always felt that it was my life’s chosen calling. I love how an idea arrives and a plot and characters are revealed.

JH: What’s next for you in the way of writing/publishing?

LAE: I have my “big” novel being published September 2022, “Once, Upon an Island,” and several projects under consideration with publishers. Currently, I’m working on “Jack & I,” a novel about a teenage boy who suffers from dissociative personality disorder. A real challenge!

JH: How can readers contact you?

www.lauryaegan.com

Laury A. Egan

BIO:

Laury A. Egan is the author of two YA novels, “The Outcast Oracle” (a Kirkus Reviews “Best Book of 2013”) and “Turnabout;” “Fog and Other Stories;” three psychological suspenses, “Jenny Kidd,” “A Bittersweet Tale,” and “Doublecrossed;” a comedy, “Fabulous! An Opera Buffa;” a mystery/romance, “The Ungodly Hour,” a literary work with magical realism, “The Swimmer,” and a literary suspense, “Wave in D Minor.” Four limited-edition poetry volumes have been published: “Snow, Shadows, a Stranger;” “Beneath the Lion’s Paw;” “The Sea & Beyond;” and “Presence & Absence.” For many years, she worked as a senior designer and administrator for Princeton University Press. Eighty-five of her stories and poems have appeared in literary journals.

JH: Thanks, Laury! You are welcome to visit Books By My Friends anytime. We’d love to hear more about Once Upon an Island when it’s available.

All good things,

Joy

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Writer Wellness: A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity
Joy E. Held

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BOOKS BY MY FRIENDS: Sitting On Top of the World by CHERYL KING

 

Sitting On Top of the World by Cheryl King

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Welcome to Books by My Friends, Cheryl! Thanks for dropping by to share your debut novel Sitting On Top of the World.

 JH: What’s the blurb for your book?

CK: Fourteen-year-old June Baker never in a million years thought she’d be dressing like a boy, sneaking into a hobo camp, and jumping onto a moving freight train to travel across the state of Tennessee. But that’s what she has to do to find work so her family’s farm can survive. It’s 1933, and the Great Depression is spreading misery throughout America. Where once June was sitting on top of the world, now she’s carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. Once she was picking fruit from the pawpaw trees, and now she’s picking up the pieces of a family torn apart. Once she was climbing and falling from trees, and now she’s jumping from moving trains. June knows the risks. What she doesn’t know is that the railroad bull she’s falling for has a devastating secret that will change the course of her life. Sitting on Top of the World is appropriate for ages 11 and up and would be a great addition to any classroom, library, or family collection.

JH: What inspired you to write Sitting On Top of the World?

CK: This book began as an idea for a flash fiction contest and was inspired by a story I’d read years ago about the hobos of the Great Depression. I thought, what if I had an awesome teen girl as my protagonist who’s forced to ride the rails looking for work to help her family? But instead of a 1,000-word flash piece, it grew into a roughly 67,000-word novel!

JH: What one thing do you love most about writing?

CK: For me, it’s a release. I have so much going on in my head all the time, and writing allows me to let go of some of the noise.

JH: What’s next for you in the way of writing/publishing?

CK: I’m working on a sequel to Sitting on Top of the World, and I have an idea brewing for a YA dystopian book. Both of these I will likely self-publish.

JH: How can readers get in touch with you?

HTTPS://CherylKingWritesThings.com

 

Cheryl King

BIO:

Cheryl King is a dyslexia therapist and longtime educator, and Sitting on Top of the World is her debut novel.

JH: Thanks, Cheryl! Please come back soon and update us on the sequel to Sitting on Top of the World!

All good things,

Joy

Note: Possible triggers- Some instances of physical violence, death, mention of suicide, mention of miscarriage, and characters encounter racial bigotry.

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Writer Wellness: A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity
Joy E. Held

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BOOKS BY MY FRIENDS: Jewels of the Sea, The Hunt for Floating Treasure by BETSY FRANCO FEENEY

Jewels of the Sea by Betsy Franco-Feeney

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Welcome to Books By My Friends, Betsy! Please tell us about your new book JEWELS OF THE SEA, THE HUNT FOR FLOATING TREASURE.

JH: What’s the blurb for your book?

BFF: Jewels of the Sea… The Hunt for Floating Treasure tells the magical tale of Amy and Bart who go on a treasure hunt with their Grandfather. The second half of the book is packed with real science all about diatoms… nicknamed the ‘jewels of the sea’ because of their breathtaking beauty. Diatoms are also priceless for what they do for life on earth.

JH: What inspired you to write JEWELS OF THE SEA, THE HUNT FOR FLOATING TREASURE?

BFF: My love of Diatoms and the scientist who asked me to create the book.

JH: What one thing do you love most about writing?

BFF: I love to create a story filled with creativity and wonder!

JH: What’s next for you in the way of writing/publishing?

BFF: The Squirrels of StuyTown.

JH: How can readers contact you?

BFF:

betsfeeney@gmail.com

www.betsyfrancofeeney.com

Betsy Franco-Feeney

BIO:

Betsy grew up and still lives in the beautiful Hudson River Valley just north of New York City. Her training includes classes at School of Visual Arts (SVA) and an AA at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), where she was awarded the highest honor in Illustration.

JH: Thanks, Betsy. Please come back and tell us about THE SQUIRRELS OF STUYTOWN when it’s available.

All good things,

Joy

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Writer Wellness: A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity
Joy E. Held

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BOOKS BY MY FRIENDS: Deadly Setup by LYNN SLAUGHTER

Deadly Setup by Lynn Slaughter

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Welcome to Books By My Friends, Lynn. Thanks for dropping by to tell us about your brand new book DEADLY SETUP!

JH: What’s the blurb for your book?

LS: When her New England heiress mom announces she’s marrying Adam Holloway, Samantha (Sam) is horrified. She’s almost sure he’s after her mother’s money, but her mom is convinced she’s finally found her “happily ever after.” And then Sam’s life implodes. Holloway has been shot to death, and Sam gets arrested for his murder. She fights to prove her innocence with the help of her boyfriend’s dad, an ex-homicide cop.

JH: What inspired you to write DEADLY SETUP?

LS: The premise was inspired by a famous case in the 1950s when the daughter of actress Lana Turner was accused of murdering her mother’s boyfriend. The strained relationship between Sam and her heiress mom was partially inspired by all the dysfunction and emotional neglect I observed growing up in ultra-wealthy Greenwich, Connecticut.

JH: What one thing do you love most about writing?

LS: I love immersing myself in the lives and world of my characters.

JH: What’s next for you in the way of writing/publishing?

LS: I have two projects I’m working on. One is an adult mystery novel, MISSED CUE, in which a homicide detective is investigating the suspicious onstage death of a ballerina while also dealing with the hot mess of her personal life. The second is a middle-grade fantasy about Varney, a kid vampire who hates the taste of blood and is convinced he’s landed in the wrong body.

JH: How can readers contact you?

LS:

www.lynnslaughter.com

lynnslaughter03@gmail.com

 

Lynn Slaughter

BIO:

After a long career as a professional dancer and dance educator, Lynn Slaughter earned her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She writes coming- of- age romantic mysteries and is the author of the newly released Deadly Setup. She is also the author of: Leisha’s Song, a Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards bronze medalist, Agatha nominee, Silver Falchion finalist, and Imadjinn Award recipient; While I Danced, an EPIC finalist; and It Should Have Been You, a Silver Falchion finalist. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where she’s at work on her next novel and serves as the President of Derby Rotten Scoundrels, the Ohio River Valley chapter of Sisters in Crime.

JH: Thanks, Lynn. This book sounds like a great read. I love how you utilized real life crime as the inspiration. Please come back soon and update us on those great works-in-progress!

All good things,

Joy

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Writer Wellness: A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity
Joy E. Held

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BOOKS BY MY FRIENDS: A Brooklyn Memoir by ROBERT ROSEN

 

A Brooklyn Memoir by Robert Rosen

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Welcome to Books By My Friends, Robert!  

JH: What’s the blurb for your book A Brooklyn Memoir?

RR: A darkly comic and deeply moving memoir of a New York City lost to time From the final days of the Brooklyn Dodgers in the mid-1950s to the arrival of the Beatles in 1964, A Brooklyn Memoir is an unsentimental journey through one rough-and-tumble working-class neighborhood. Though only a 20-minute and 15-cent subway ride from the gleaming towers of Manhattan, across the East River, Flatbush remained insular and provincial—a place where Auschwitz survivors and WWII vets lived side by side and the war lingered like a mass hallucination. Meet Bobby, a local kid who shares a shabby apartment with his status-conscious mother and bigoted father, a soda jerk haunted by memories of the Nazi death camp he helped liberate. Flatbush, to Bobby, is a world of brawls with neighborhood “punks,” Hebrew-school tales of Adolf Eichmann’s daring capture, and grade-school duck-and-cover drills. Drawn to images of mushroom clouds and books about executions, Bobby ultimately turns the seething hatred he senses everywhere against himself. From a perch in his father’s candy store, Bobby provides a child’s-eye view of the mid-20th-century American experience—a poignant intertwining of the personal and historical.

JH: What inspired you to write A Brooklyn Memoir?

RR: In my previous book, “Beaver Street,” I described the scene in my father’s candy store in 1961. I realized I was only scratching the surface of that time and place. There was something happening in Flatbush that demanded further exploration, and I explored it in depth in “A Brooklyn Memoir.”

JH: What one thing do you love most about writing?

RR: Getting published.

JH: What’s next for you in the way of writing/publishing?

RR: A book about the 1970s, set at a radical student newspaper at the City College of NY.

JH: How can readers contact you?

https://www.robertrosennyc.com/

Robert Rosen

 

BIO:

Robert Rosen is the author of Nowhere Man: The Final Days of John Lennon, an international bestseller that’s been translated into many languages. His latest book, A Brooklyn Memoir, is about growing up in Flatbush in the 1950s and 60s, surrounded by Auschwitz survivors and WWII vets who fought the Nazis. His investigative memoir, Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography, received critical acclaim across the cultural spectrum, from Vanity Fair to academic journals to Adult Video News. Over the course of his career, he’s edited pornographic magazines and an underground newspaper, written speeches for the Secretary of the Air Force, and was awarded a Hugo Boss poetry prize. Rosen’s work has appeared in publications all over the world, including The Village Voice, The Independent (U.K.), Uncut (U.K.), Erotic Review (U.K.), Mother Jones, The Soho Weekly News, La Repubblica (Italy), Dagospia (Italy), VSD (France), Proceso (Mexico), Reforma (Mexico), and El Heraldo (Colombia). Born in Brooklyn, Rosen attended Erasmus Hall High School and the City College of New York, where he studied creative writing with Joseph Heller and Francine du Plessix Gray. He lives in Manhattan with his wife, Mary Lyn Maiscott, a writer, editor, and singer.

Thanks, Robert. Hope you’ll come back and tell us about your next publication when it’s available.

All good things,

Joy

Revisiting Radway for a Renewing Perspective on the Future of Romance Fiction

READING THE ROMANCE BOOK COVER JANICE RADWAY_51XX-EHPDSL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Writing in The Cambridge Companion to Popular Fiction, Fred Botting’s piece “Bestselling Fiction: Machinery, Economy, Excess” reminds me that there are two sides to a coin, and I understand that an individual can realistically only see one physical side at a time. When Botting invokes Janis A. Radway’s assertion that women read romantic fiction because of “…an underlying dissatisfaction” (164), I remember that the Radway study is one good source for understanding not only an academic perspective on the topic of why women read romance but for some of the history of my favorite genre.

Revisiting my copy of Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature by Radway, I was rewarded with a refreshing look at a historical perspective on the popularity of romantic fiction through the lens of how the publishing industry developed in America. Radway provides a thorough yet succinct review of books as a commercial commodity leading me, the reader, from the first printing press at Cambridge (America) in 1639 to how newspapers created a national hunger for serialized stories to the explosion of gothic romance novels in the early 1970s and how that set the stage for the contemporary world of publishing and reading romance.

What Radway reemphasized for me was the cold, hard truth that publishing is a business whose goal is to trade a relative product for the consumer’s money on a repetitive, reliable, and consistent basis. And that the romance novel industry led the way with particular publishers (i.e., Avon, Harlequin, etc.) intentionally seeking out emotionally stimulating content and consciously creating then delivering a targeted advertising campaign to a particular customer base: women. This foundational market took the bait, so to speak, beginning in the 1960s and have been the bedrock of the romance novel buying population ever since.

Radway’s chapter “The Institutional Matrix: Publishing Romantic Fiction” on the history of paperback publishing juxtaposed with the rise of romance reading actually allowed me to understand what Botting expressed in Cambridge Companion Chapter 9 about bestsellers and how the pulp novel industry led to the current state of affairs in popular genre fiction publishing.

Simply put, Radway’s history of publishing chapter (written several years before Botting in Cambridge Companion) culminates with claims that American women did and do devour large numbers of romance novels in order to repeat a specific type of reading experience, but that it isn’t sufficient to say that this is the only explanation for the popularity of the genre and the historically high sales. She makes it clear to me when she states, “The romance’s popularity must be tied closely to these important historical changes in the book publishing industry as a whole” (45).

Whether this ‘reading romance repetition habit’ is due to “an underlying dissatisfaction” with women’s position in the patriarchy as Radway and others propose, there is no definitive conclusion for me to glean except to say that the reading experience can’t be discounted and nor can the direct relationship to the industry at large.

In my opinion, the Cambridge Companion writers echo Radway. Botting ends with external forces-alteration, novelty, and desire-contributing to the production of bestsellers. Another contributor to CC, Erin Smith, wraps up her thoughts in a similar fashion by indicating that production, marketing, and consumption are king. Radway reiterates her accounting of romance novels as a point of consumerism by, what I see as a precursor of Botting and Smith, by claiming, “Commodities like mass-produced literary texts are selected, purchased, constructed, and used by real people with previously existing needs, desires, intentions, and interpretive strategies” (221).

They all agree that bestsellerism is mostly about marketing to consumer desire.

It’s evident to me from these three perspectives that the business of publishing is an important side of the coin. As a genre writer, I must keep a keen eye on it, but that I must also approach my work as marketable merchandise that will slake the buyer’s thirst but will also create a craving (dare I say addiction?) in the reader to return to take sip after sip after sip.

I believe my soon-to-be-released historical romance novel has the potential to quench readers’ thirst for unique historical settings and because I have two characters whose stories I plan to expand on for sequels, the possibility exists for repeat buyers. I’ve done a considerable amount of specific research on the American frontier in the late 1700s, but not everything I learned appears in the first book of the series. I have research and plot ideas in reserve to write at least two more books set in the same time period.

Considering that Radway and Botting point out as imperative the importance of marketing a novel to create long term reader relationships, the challenge for me will be finding historical events and or commemorations to “hook” my stories on to show a publisher that there is valid potential for interest in my themes and stories today and in the future.

All good things,

Joy

Works Cited

Botting, Fred. “Bestselling Fiction: Machinery, Economy, Excess.” The Cambridge Companion to Popular Literature, edited by David Glover and Scott McCracken, Cambridge University Press, 2012, pp. 159-174.

Radway, Janice A. Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1991.

Fear takes longer to experience in the human brain

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I’ve been rereading The Cambridge Companion to Popular Fiction, edited by David Glover and Scott McCracken. I can’t explain why except that the current upheaval in publishing is making me ask questions about the history of the business. In Chapter Six “”Reading time: popular fiction and the everyday,” editor McCracken makes some important points about what happens to readers when they read. Knowing more about reading and how a reader’s experience might affect my writing is definitely a question worth asking. McCracken provided me with a variety of diving boards from which to jump into my own head or other texts. I am drawn to this sentiment from Chapter Six:

The thriller thus allows for different forms of attention, which rely on a comprehensive knowledge of what to expect from the genre, a knowledge culled not just from written fiction, but also from film and television. Yet despite the familiarity of the structure, like the popular song, the successful thriller has to have a ‘hook’, an intriguing element of originality, which draws the reader in (Cambridge 112).

McCracken’s “forms of attention” triggered my curiosity about how I could understand his meaning and apply it to writing romance. While McCracken focuses on thriller novels for this thought, he is really talking about the tension and pacing of a novel. Romance has a sub-genre of romantic suspense, but all romance fiction has some degree of tension derived from the question “will they or won’t they?” The suspense of not knowing the answer and vicariously living the struggles the heroine and hero endure on the way to resolving the question is the same as “will the detective figure this out?”

McCracken emphasizes his premise with three primary examples that thriller novels can/do focus on different forms of attention, and I wondered what that meant in terms of how the brain deals with time (which underlies McCracken’s chapter) during different kinds of stress/excitement/worry/etc. Why does one form of attention in a thriller appeal to readers more than others?

I found a kernel of an answer in  The Secret Pulse of Time: Making Sense of Life’s Scarcest Commodity written by Stefan Klein who says:

The way we judge the length of an interval of time depends not only on the gauge the brain uses to estimate the elapsed time but also on the degree of our focus. If consciousness is occupied with other matters at the same time, we underestimate the time that has passed; if we are hyperalert—for example while watching an act of violence in a film—the seconds expand (62-63).

My interpretation of this is if a reader (or viewer) is thoroughly absorbed by a scene, paying more focused attention, the time will feel longer to them. The less engaging the writing or the acting, time will seem to pass more quickly for the reader/viewer because the brain is susceptible to distraction. It’s the difference between quickly scanning the pages of a magazine (distracted focus) and examining every detail of one particular page for several minutes (deep attention.)

Klein claims that during intense action it is the “sense of dread that makes the scene seem agonizingly long—like waiting in the dentist’s chair in view of the drill” (63) that captures the reader’s brain and holds them spellbound.

Therefore, my writing needs to include more showing and less telling to increase the reader’s vicarious experience with the action, and this will have positive effects on the degree of tension and pacing in my story.

All good things,

j

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Klein, Stefan. The Secret Pulse of Time: Making Sense of Life’s Scarcest Commodity. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2007.

McCracken, Scott. “Reading Time: Popular Fiction and the Everyday.” The Cambridge Companion to Popular Fiction. Ed. David Glover and Scott McCracken. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012. 86-102. Print.