In Praise of Librarians

– Display at Mt. Pearl Library, NL

 

I love public libraries and I use our local one often. The latest book I’ve borrowed is The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton, the bestselling young adult novel of all time.

I think working in a library must be one of the coolest jobs there is. Most bibliophiles would probably agree.
One of my favourite librarians is also a fellow blogger. Barbara Vitelli, a.k.a. Book Club Mom, reviews books, interviews authors, and if you click on her link, you just might follow her too.

Do you frequent your local library? Do tell!

My Eighth Year in the Blogosphere

Dear WordPress bloggers, fellow writers, followers and friends,

December 31, 2018 marked my seven-year blogging anniversary.

Yikes! I’m into the eighth year! Who knew that when I published my first post, Follow the Yellow Brick Road on New Year’s Eve of 2011, my blog would still be active in 2019? I genuinely hope I’m not wearing out my welcome here and that you continue to let me into your in-boxes, your readers, and your lives for my brief visits once or twice a week. 🙂

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I’m not one to get hung up on blog statistics, as I value quality of interaction over quantity any day, but I’d like to share a few highlights from my 70 posts of 2018.
I’ve set aside statistics on my About Me and Author Page  to concentrate on regular posts.

The three most-liked posts of last year:

Beach Love
When your address is Sandy Beach Avenue and you live near one of the longest beaches in the province, posts like these are bound to show up regularly. These photos taken at Lumsden North Beach grabbed the most likes of 2018.

Winter Morning Haiku
Summery beaches didn’t get all the love.
A haiku poem with one of my best-loved winter photos,
taken from my back yard.

Book Review – Encounters: Relationships in Conflict by Fred Rohn
So happy to see the traffic this one generated.
I loved this book and I love my book friends.
Rest in peace, Mr. Rohn.

The three most-commented:

Imagination
Kids with coffee filters.
How could one possibly resist a click?

Morning Coffee
(Again with coffee?)
No surprise – this beverage is a vital part of the day for many of us.
Even some of you who prefer tea were moved to give your two cents worth!

Blog Hop: Born in a Treacherous Time by Jacqui Murray
Once again, I’m delighted to share news from my author colleagues.
I loved this book of the prehistoric fiction genre.
So much so, it got me reading the Earth’s Children series by Jean M. Auel.
I look forward to Murray’s next novel in her Man vs. Nature saga.

***

2018 was a special year all around, but it didn’t exceed previous records set by my blog.
January 18, 2016 still holds the favored position as the day that generated the most views thus far, when I introduced the ever-popular Newfoundland and Labrador page…

Newtown, Newfoundland
…and the individual post that has scored the most views to date under that Newfoundland banner is Berg Watching, originally shared on June 2, 2015.
Springtime in Iceberg Alley at its beautiful best.

Iceberg Alley

The Sunday Snap series has gained in popularity since its inception in August 2017, and my new addition for 2018, Friday Fiction, has met with positive reviews as well.

Many thanks to everyone who visits my blog. However long I continue, I appreciate all the follows, likes, comments, and shares. Love to you all, and blog on!

Sincerely yours,
Jennifer

P.S. to bloggers: Have a favourite post from your own blog I may have missed or you’d like to highlight? Don’t be shy – share a link with me in the comments below. 🙂

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

The Heart is a Lonely HunterThis is one of my favourite books of all time. Though I read it in my twenties, it has always stayed with me.

I was delighted when my husband Paul bought a copy recently and read it. I was equally delighted that he enjoyed it as much as I did!

A small sampling of reviews:

“Besides telling a good story, the author has peopled it with a small group of characters so powerfully drawn as to linger long in memory.” – Philadelphia Inquirer

“To me the most impressive aspect of ‘The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter’ is the astonishing humanity that enables a white writer, for the first time in Southern fiction, to handle Negro characters with as much ease and justice as those of her own race.” – Richard Wright New Republic

“The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter has remarkable power, sweep and certainty . . . Her art suggests a Van Gogh painting peopled with Faulkner figures.” – The New York Times Book Review

Carson McCullers (1917-1967) was the author of numerous other works of fiction and nonfiction, including The Member of the Wedding, Reflections in a Golden Eye, and Clock Without Hands. Born in Columbus, Georgia, on February 19, 1917, she became a promising pianist and enrolled in the Juilliard School of Music in New York when she was seventeen, but lacking money for tuition, she never attended classes. Instead she studied writing at Columbia University, which ultimately led to The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, the novel that made her an overnight literary sensation at the age of twenty-three. On September 29, 1967, at age fifty, she died in Nyack, New York, where she is buried.

What novel have you read that stayed with you for many years?

Blog Hop: Born in a Treacherous Time by Jacqui Murray

FYI: Sunday Snap will be back as usual next week.

Today, I’m delighted to welcome author and tech teacher Jacqui Murray from over at WordDreams. She has a brand new release out now in an unusual and fascinating genre.

Book Info:

Title: Born in a Treacherous Time
Series: Book 1 in the Man vs. Nature series
Genre: Prehistoric fiction
Cover by: Damonza 
Available at: Kindle

Jennifer: Good morning, Jacqui. Born in a Treacherous Time sounds intriguing! Can you tell me a bit about it?

Jacqui: Thank you for having me, Jennifer. Here’s a short summary:

Lucy and her band of early humans struggle to survive in the harsh reality of a world where nature rules, survival is a daily challenge, and a violent band threatens to destroy everything Lucy thinks she understands.

If you like Man vs. Wild, you’ll love this book. If you ever wondered how earliest man survived but couldn’t get through the academic discussions, this book is for you. It will bring that world – East Africa 1.8 million years ago – to life in a way never seen before.

Jennifer: I can’t wait to read it. I’ve never read prehistoric fiction before, but it has been of interest to me ever since I saw the movie Quest For Fire. What prompted you to write the book, and your switch to this niche genre?

Jacqui: Born in a Treacherous Time is a spin-off of my previous book, To Hunt a Sub.
More specifically, it is a spin-off of Lucy, the ancient female who mentored Kali Delamagente, the female protagonist of that series.

Jennifer: Lucy was such an interesting part of that story. But why did you write a book in such a tiny niche?

Jacqui: Born in a Treacherous Time is written in the sub-genre of historic fiction called prehistoric fiction, a time before recorded history. There aren’t a lot of readers in this genre but they are devoted!
Because the only records are rocks, world building has proven difficult but Lucy (the heroine) really didn’t give me a choice. She nagged me to tell her story from my first page twenty years ago to my final draft. Now maybe Lucy will leave me alone!

Jennifer: You have a couple of noteworthy reviews you’d like to share with our readers, including a Kirkus review. Here they are:

Kirkus review: “Murray’s lean prose is steeped in the characters’ brutal worldview, which lends a delightful otherness to the narration …The book’s plot is similar in key ways to other works in the genre, particularly Jean M. Auel’s The Clan of the Cave Bear. However, Murray weaves a taut, compelling narrative, building her story on timeless human concerns of survival, acceptance, and fear of the unknown. Even if readers have a general sense of where the plot is going, they’ll still find the specific twists and revelations to be highly entertaining throughout.
A well-executed tale of early man.”  (Click here for the entire review)

 An early reader’s review: “Born in a Treacherous Time sheds light on a period of time that gave birth to the human race, and allow us to bear witness to the harshness and tenacious spirit that is uniquely human—to survive and endure. Readers with a thirst for knowledge and who enjoy historical fiction, this is a must read. I am looking forward to reading book 2 when it is published. I devoured the book in 2 sittings.”Luciana Cavallaro, author of Servant of the Gods series and webmaster of Eternal Atlantis

Jennifer: Those are wonderful reviews. I love that this book has a strong and unique female lead. Thank you so much for this, Jacqui!

To learn more about my guest today, check out the following:

Author Bio: Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature series. She is also the author of over a hundred books on integrating technology into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

Social media links:
http://twitter.com/worddreams
http://linkedin.com/in/jacquimurray
https://worddreams.wordpress.com
https://jacquimurray.net

Book Review – Encounters: Relationships in Conflict

I’ve been reading various collections of short stories lately, the latest of which was written by Fred H. Rohn.
Encounters: Relationships in Conflict is a unique, insightful and entertaining read.

The preface alone is a treat, where Rohn explains how he came to create this collection from accumulated notes and short stories over the years, and how each of them exhibit relationships and the “conflict between people resulting from differing perceptions, often between men and women and between different generations.”

In his preface, he also sets forth the belief that creativity does not have to end as you age, and that many seniors like himself are productive in a variety of artistic and creative endeavors. After all, they’ve lived through some pretty tough experiences which, I surmise, affords them a better grasp and understanding of the human condition. Reading this book only further convinces me of that!

As I began each short story selection, I found myself immediately engaged by the author’s sublime writing style and smooth but compelling narrative and voice. Each piece has its own charm, but I do have my favourites. The Piano Recital, Reunion Deals, Jennifer (!), Doc Brunner (that one brought a tear) and Harry particularly resonated with me, while others, such as The Old Man, made me chuckle.

This book offers clever insight to young readers and familiar life experiences for older readers. I highly recommend this lovely collection.

Review has been published on Amazon.ca and Goodreads.

Readers: do you enjoy short story collections?
Do you have any recommendations for a short fiction fan?

Happy…and Busy!

It’s a cold and snowy day here at home, but the following warms me down to my toes.

I’m thrilled to see another powerful 5-star review on Amazon for Calmer Secrets!

Take a look:

“Calmer Secrets is a fascinating and mature, well-written second look into the lives of the Cross girls which takes place some four or five years after the events of the first book. The time gap and the substantial content in each novel support Jennifer Perry’s decision to split this story into two books.
Samantha is all grown up, Ben is gone, and against her self-centred, irritating sister’s advice she tumbles into a relationship with old friend Kalen – who has turned into a hot rocker. Their mother continues to wrestle with her issues, and the charming Henry, Veronica’s four-year old boy, is Samantha’s darling. The scene is set for a gritty, realistically told and engrossing unravelling of events, and old secrets, which will change everyone’s lives.
The gripping story kept me helplessly reading on, late into the night. Hints are dropped, with a thud, or a tickle of the mind, and I yelled at Samantha not to be such a fool, at Ronnie for her attitude, at Kalen, at Ben, at Darlene, at Cash… the only one I didn’t yell at was little Henry.
*Much* is explained as the final secrets are revealed and the ends of the story are resolved, and one begins to understand the complexity and depth of these beautifully crafted characters.
This is an excellent novel of family, love, and the damage that secrets can do. Highly recommended, but you have to read the first book first. Together, they make an epic story of ordinary life.”

https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R1D4NN653C42PN

*Comments are closed because I’m feverishly writing this week and trying to minimize distractions. See you on Sunday!

Author Blog Hop: Twenty-Four Days

Fellow blogger, author, and e-friend Jacqui Murray has a new book out:
Twenty-Four Days.

It’s the exciting sequel to her first novel, To Hunt a Sub.
Here’s the scoop on it, as well as my review.

Short Synopsis of Twenty-four Days:

A former SEAL, a brilliant scientist, a love-besotted nerd, and a quirky AI have twenty-four days to stop a terrorist attack. The problems: They don’t know what it is, where it is, or who’s involved.

Long Synopsis of Twenty-four Days:

What sets this story apart from other thrillers is the edgy science used to build the drama, the creative thinking that unravels the deadly plot, and the sentient artificial intelligence who thinks he’s human:

An unlikely team is America’s only chance

World-renowned paleoanthropologist, Dr. Zeke Rowe is surprised when a friend from his SEAL past shows up in his Columbia lab and asks for help: Two submarines have been hijacked and Rowe might be the only man who can find them.

At first he refuses, fearing a return to his former life will end a sputtering romance with fellow scientist and love of his life, Kali Delamagente, but when one of his closest friends is killed by the hijackers, he changes his mind. He asks Delamagente for the use of her one-of-a-kind AI Otto who possesses the unique skill of being able to follow anything with a digital trail.

In a matter of hours, Otto finds one of the subs and it is neutralized.
But the second, Otto can’t locate.

Piece by piece, Rowe uncovers a bizarre nexus between Salah Al-Zahrawi–the world’s most dangerous terrorist and a man Rowe thought he had killed a year ago, a North Korean communications satellite America believes is a nuclear-tipped weapon, an ideologue that cares only about revenge, and the USS Bunker Hill (a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser) tasked with supervising the satellite launch.

And a deadline that expires in twenty-four days.

As America teeters on the brink of destruction, Zeke finally realizes that Al-Zahrawi’s goal isn’t nuclear war, but payback against the country that cost him so much.

My Review:

5 out of 5 stars: Fast-paced suspense in this page-turning sequel
Format: Kindle Edition
What a wild ride! This was an enthralling followup to To Hunt a Sub, which I also read; I loved the characters, including Otto the AI (I actually would have liked to read more about him), and the edge-of-your-seat suspense as the book built to a riveting climax. I also appreciated how strong and capable the female characters in the story were drawn, especially LT Paloma Chacone. Refreshing to read of this brand of heroism from both genders.
It boggles my mind to think of the research it must have required to tell this tale. I’m sure fans of the thriller and military genres would enjoy it.

Kirkus Review:

A blistering pace is set from the beginning: dates open each new chapter/section, generating a countdown that intensifies the title’s time limit. Murray skillfully bounces from scene to scene, handling numerous characters, from hijackers to MI6 special agent Haster.
… A steady tempo and indelible menace form a stirring nautical tale.

Book information:

Title and author: Twenty-four Days by J. Murray
Genre: Thriller, military thriller
Cover by: Paper and Sage Design
Available at: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

Author bio:

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular
Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and  Twenty-four Days. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics.
You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

Social Media contacts:

http://twitter.com/worddreams
http://facebook.com/kali.delamagente
http://pinterest.com/askatechteacher
http://linkedin.com/in/jacquimurray
https://plus.google.com/u/0/102387213454808379775/posts

Blogger Bouquet #36

blogger bouquet spring

Barbara Vitelli is a book reviewer and blogger at Book Club Mom here on WordPress. She also shares author interviews, indie author profiles and blogging advice.

In addition to all of that, Barbara is a book-clubber, an avid reviewer on GoodReads, and she has over five thousand followers on Twitter.

I chose the following post from her lovely blog, not because it is her most recent, but because I appreciate that she reviews the well-loved classics by famous authors as well as newer selections by current and lesser-known authors.

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Comments are closed here but you can leave a comment on the blogger’s page.

Have an inspiring week, everyone!

❤

Remembering Rhonda

I started following Rhonda Elkins’ blog around this time last year, and was profoundly moved by her tragic story. It had only been months since she, a registered nurse, lost her 23-year-old daughter Kaitlyn to suicide, and writing about it in her blog, My Bright Shining Star, was her way of dealing with the devastation she was experiencing.

As tough as it must have been for her, Rhonda’s heart-wrenching posts turned into a new project: a book about her daughter to help raise awareness of the rampant depression and high number of medical students who take their own lives. Like her blog, it also proved to be a source of comfort for others who were going through the pain and anguish of losing a child to suicide.

With her permission, I reblogged this post back in February to help get her message out there, that even those closest to us often keep their depression hidden.

Earlier this week, I was shocked and saddened to learn Rhonda had followed Kaitlyn last Friday, leaving her husband and older daughter to pick up the shattered pieces of what remained of their family.

Rhonda had blogged recently about the good reviews her book was getting, as well as her decision to return to her nursing profession part-time (she hadn’t worked since Kaitlyn died in April of 2013).

I, like many others, had believed she had gotten through the worst of it, and was ready to go on with her life.

We were so wrong.

Your life had a purpose, Rhonda. You shared your heart and soul with your readers, painfully, yet with great eloquence. I’m so sorry you were suffering and unable to get past your grief and depression. I’m sorry we couldn’t help you more. And I pray you have finally found peace, and are reunited with your beautiful daughter Kaitlyn.

I will never forget either of you.

Links for Rhonda:

http://hosting-9605.tributes.com/obituary/show/Rhonda-Elkins-101642909

https://www.facebook.com/inmemoryofrhondasellerselkins

https://www.facebook.com/events/771748509514127/

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One Thing These Famous Novels Have in Common

As I await responses from various publishers on my novel queries, I’ve been reading reams of info on the publishing world. Learning what to expect in terms of selling your work can make you wonder if it’s worth it at times, when you think of all the love and effort you put into your project.

If there is one tidbit of advice I keep reading, it’s that you better be in it for the enjoyment and satisfaction of writing, and not for making a ton of money, or even a living. But that’s a topic for a future post.

I wanted to share this book list with you. It may give you more incentive to keep striving for that goal, to get your own work in print.

  • Emily BrontĂ«’s Wuthering Heights
  • Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees
  • Harper Lee’s only novel To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Margaret Mitchell’s only novel Gone with the Wind
  • Boris Pasternak’s only novel Dr. Zhivago
  • Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones
  • Nicholas Sparks’s The Notebook
  • Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants
  • Daniel Dafoe’s The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe
  • Kim Edwards’ The Memory Keeper’s Daughter

All of these ten wonderful works of fiction, are, of course, bestsellers. Some of them even won the Nobel and/or the Pulitzer Prize. 

But what is most interesting and inspirational to me about this list is this: they were all first novels. Yes, that’s right, these were debut novels that were wildly successful, and in fact there are many more ( I shortened the list). The older classics are known to still sell thousands of copies a year.

And many of them were rejected by numerous publishers before ultimately being signed.

As an example, Kim Edwards found great success with her first novel The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, the last one on my list, and the second to most recent I’ve read on the list. Published in 2005, it made it to #1 on USA Today’s list of bestselling books. As a result, in 2006 USA Today chose her novel as the Book of the Year. As they put it:

Book clubs and word of mouth helped send The Memory Keeper’s Daughter to Kite Runner heights, and once you’ve read this heart wrenching story, it’s easy to understand why it has connected with millions of readers.

On a stormy winter’s night in the 1960s, a doctor delivers his own twins. One is a perfect son; the other is a daughter with Down syndrome. He tells his wife the little girl died, and his lie reverberates across the years and affects every character.

Prepare for tear-blotched pages and a redemptive, hopeful ending that makes the tears easier to bear.”

I loved that book and loved finding out it was a first novel. So take heart, burgeoning writers. Perhaps your debut novel will make money. And if the stars align, perhaps it could be added to this list before long. Wouldn’t that be a dream realized? Stories like these are what keep me hopeful in selling and promoting my work.

You miss 100% of the shots you didn’t take. ~ Wayne Gretzky

What keeps you optimistic in your writing life?