Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books On My Fall To-Be-Read List

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of the bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

Top Ten Books On My Fall To-Be-Read List

I'm pressed for time this week, so pardon the fact that I'm not posting pictures for every book on my list. 

Just learned about this one this week while exploring Charlotte Hubbard's website. Can't wait to read this one. Amish fiction and Christmas---what could be better? Add to your Goodreads list.

Number 2: The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin. This one has been on my radar for a while. Not only does the plot sound intriguing, the woman on the front cover reminds me of Lady Mary from Downton Abbey. That makes it a must read for me. Add to your Goodreads list.

Number 3: A Quilt for Christmas by Sandra Dallas. Historical fiction set during the Civil War and Christmas. Need I say more? Add to your Goodreads list.

Number 4: The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy. A wartime love story. Perfect. Add to your Goodreads list.

This is a book I started a long time ago. Because I was so heavy into review books at the time, I couldn't read this one that I had gotten for myself from Amazon. I would like to go back to it. Add to your Goodreads list.

Number 6: Get Even by Gretchen McNeil. A high school revenge story billed as The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars. Must read it. Add to your Goodreads list.

Number 7: Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot. Another private school story. Love them, even if I don't get to read a lot of them. Add to your Goodreads list.

Number 8: Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes. Touted as Mean Girls meets The Perks of Being a Wallflower, this one is about a popular girl trying to maintain her social position. I find the topic fascinating since I was probably one of the least popular kids in school. Add to your Goodreads list.

Number 9: Falling into Place by Amy Zhang. This is about a girl who unsuccessfully tries to kill herself and then has to deal with aftermath. The sad reality of being a mother of a teenager and a pre-teen is that suicide among friends is an issue that must be dealt with. My daughter came to me one day in tears because one of her online pals planned to drink bleach. I had no idea how to help except to talk her through it and see what kind of information we could find out about the girl to try and alert authorities. Thankfully, the girl changed her mind; but it made me realize I can't pretend this type of stuff doesn't happen. Add to your Goodreads list. (Sorry for the downer.)

This one has been on my radar since it released in August. Set in 1941, this is the story of an Irish immigrant named Eileen Tumulty who marries Edmund Leary. Ed is a scientist, and Eileen sees him as the vehicle toward the better life she craves. She soon discovers, however, that she and Ed don't want the same things. In a cruel twist of fate, Ed is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 51, and Eileen's struggles become something different. Sounds fascinating, even if it's a bit dark. Add to your Goodreads list.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Musing Mondays - September 22

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme from MizB at Should Be Reading. It asks you to muse about one of the following each week…

• Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it!
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.
• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!
• Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!

My Musing:

I've enjoyed having the freedom to read what I want these days because I'm not participating in so many virtual book tours. My job, however, isn't allowing me to sit down and write reviews for what I read quickly enough. Sigh!

Here is what I've read lately:

  • Real Skills, Real Income: A Proven Marketing System to Land Well-Paid Freelance and Consulting Work in 30 Days or Less by Diana Schneidman
  • The Hybrid Author by Dianne G. Sagan
  • Little Author in the Big Woods by Yona Zeldis McDonough
  • The Truth: Diary of a Gutsy Teen by Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein
  • Seated Above, Looking Below by Bobby Brown
  • The Red Sheet by Mia Kerick. This one is reviewed today at TC&TBC

Do you have trouble keeping up with writing reviews? Any tips you can share? What have you read lately?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Interview with Helen Wan, Author of The Partner Track

Helen Wan is the author of THE PARTNER TRACK, about a young Chinese-American woman competing for partnership at a prestigious “old-boy” law firm. Before becoming a full time author, Helen was a corporate and media lawyer for many years in New York. She is a frequent speaker on advancing women in the workplace and has written for The Washington Post, CNN, and The Daily Beast. She’s also a new mom, and lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York, where she’s at work on a new novel. Helen’s author website is www.helenwan.com. She loves to hear from readers, so please follow her on Twitter @helenwan1 and like her Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorHelenWan

Where did you grow up? 

I was born in Carmel, California but raised in the suburbs of Washington, DC. (I know – people always say, who moves away from Carmel, California??! My parents still talk about that as the House That Got Away.)

When did you begin writing?

Oh, as a kid. I’ve always loved writing. In elementary school, I wrote and illustrated a bunch of little mystery books about this crime-fighting family called The Dixon Detectives. It was always my childhood dream to be a published author one day, but I ended up taking a thirty-year detour as a lawyer. Better late than never, I guess!

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

Ha.  Well, it only took me twelve years to finish my novel, as I was definitely writing in whatever random moments I could find. I had a full-time law job, and of course family and personal responsibilities as we all do, so I wrote in spare bits of time: on weekends, late at night. I would hoard my precious few weeks of vacation each year and use them to churn out as many new pages as I could.

What is this book about?

THE PARTNER TRACK is the story of a young woman of color trying to make it in corporate America. It’s an American Dream story. It’s about how sex, race, class, and “outsider” status complicate the lives of talented people climbing the corporate ladder. It’s about women and men in the workplace and the clashes that come up in ways both predictable and unexpected. Finally, it’s about loyalty, sacrifice and ambition itself – I am very interested in our complicated relationship with ambition, and what drives us toward success.

What inspired you to write it?

That’s easy. Years ago, as a young woman who’d just landed at her first corporate law job, I felt I might as well have landed on the moon. I was good at school, but I was utterly unprepared to navigate all the subtle games of politics, all the unwritten rules, of the corporate world. And no one was passing out decoder rings. Yet many of my peers at the firm – mostly men – seemed to understand the unspoken rules innately. So, dutiful law student that I was, I went out in search of a book that could tell me how a young minority woman could succeed on the corporate ladder while still being true to herself and trying to live an “authentic” life.  But I couldn’t find any books that spoke to me.  I was not seeing any credible, authentic, contemporary stories out there about young women (let alone a woman of color!) trying to navigate all the challenges of the corporate world.  Finding none, I decided to write one myself.  All these years later, I’m just thrilled that THE PARTNER TRACK is finding an enthusiastic audience.  Every time I hear from a reader who tells me my novel has made them feel they’re not alone, I’m so happy.  It makes the twelve years it took to write this book completely worth it.

Who is your favorite character from the book?

The one I most identify with? Ingrid.
The one who was most devilishly fun to write? Murph. Definitely, Murph.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Your favorite bookseller, either digital or the old-fashioned kind, so that would include Bames & Noble, Amazon, all the usual suspects.  The paperback edition -- with a fresh new cover and a nifty set of reading group discussion questions! -- is coming out on Tuesday, September 9th.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

I’ll share the writing advice that finally made me get off my butt and finish my novel in earnest:

There were years when I just wasn’t writing at all, given the life stuff that gets in our way. Then one night, I attended an event where the wonderful journalist turned novelist Anna Quindlen was speaking. Someone in the audience asked for advice for aspiring writers, and she said, “Be sure you’re someone who really wants to write, not just someone who wants to have written.”
I realized at that moment she was describing my predicament. To be someone who had written, I needed to actually write! Enough excuses about having too stressful a day job, being too tired when I got home from work, being too scared to embark on a novel, etc.
I signed myself up for an “Intro to Fiction” workshop. Like many busy women juggling too many balls in the air, I work best under deadline. If I owed 12 random strangers 20 pages for class Tuesday night, you can bet I got those pages out! The homework pages I wrote for that class became the seed for my novel. I’m thrilled that THE PARTNER TRACK is finally out in the world. It was a labor of love.

What is up next for you?

Thanks for asking! I’m currently working on my second book. It’s not a direct sequel to THE PARTNER TRACK, but it does tackle similar themes, and it features strong, smart, successful women.  It’s a deeper dive into people’s complicated relationship with ambition itself, how we define success, and what truly influences our pursuit of happiness.

Anything you’d like to add?

I genuinely appreciate feedback from readers, and learn a lot from you, so please stop by my author website (www.helenwan.com) and come find me on Twitter (@helenwan1) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/AuthorHelenWan)! Thank you! Happy fall reading!

- Helen Wan

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

W...W...W...Wednesdays - September 17

This meme was created by MizB at Should Be Reading. To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

Is this you?

You are unemployed and fed up with the dysfunctional job market.
You are underemployed and eager to use your skills to make more money in work of your choice.
You have been freelancing or consulting but you don’t have enough paying work.
You are working your buns off for bad clients and you’re underpaid to boot.

Diana Schneidman wrote Real Skills, Real Income: A Proven Marketing System to Land Well-Paid Freelance and Consulting Work in 30 Days or Less to help the unemployed, the underemployed, and current solopros who underearn to land more clients quickly. The book explains exactly what to do and say to start building your clientele in less than a month.

Put your real skills to work earning a real income from business clients (because businesses have the money to pay for services and they want your help).

Loving this so far. It has a ton of helpful information.

What did you recently finish reading?

A publishing industry in constant change, authors find themselves trying to make decisions about whether or not to self-publish or traditionally publish. Now you have a book that explains the Hybrid Author path.
• What it is.
• What the options are.
• How to decide.
Including interviews with C. J. Lyons, J. A. Konrath, Hugh C. Howey, Marie Force, Barbara Morgenroth, Jennifer Archer, and Travis Erwin. The Hybrid Author is "a treasure house of useful suggestions and resources for any writer."

Fabulous book. If you are looking for information on what it means to be a hybrid author, the advantages, the challenges, and more, this is an excellent resource. Look for my review coming soon.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I haven't really decided yet, but here are some options:

Every parent wants the golden key to raising well-behaved, academically gifted, successful, happy children. Embedded in our collective psyche is the notion that discipline is the cornerstone to achieving these goals. This book lambasts this notion, offering a never-before-published perspective on why the entire premise of discipline is flawed. Dr Shefali Tsabary shows that the very idea of discipline is a major cause of generations of dysfunction.

Out of Control goes to the heart of the problems we have with our children, challenging society’s dependence of discipline, daring us to let go of our fear-based ideologies and replace them with an approach that draws parent and child together instead of alienating them. The key is ongoing meaningful connection between parent and child, free of head games such as threats, deprivation, punishment, timeouts—indeed, all forms of manipulation. Parents learn how to enter into deep communion with their children, understanding the reasons for a behavior and how to bring out the best in the child. Far from a laissez-faire anything goes approach, this is how a child learns responsibility and takes ownership of their life, equipped with character and resilience that flow naturally from within.

Many girls in elementary and middle school fall in love with the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. What they don’t always realize is that Wilder’s books are autobiographical. This narrative biography describes more of the details of the young Laura’s real life as a young pioneer homesteading with her family on many adventurous journeys. This biography, complete with charming illustrations, points out the differences between the fictional series as well as the many similarities. It’s a fascinating story of a much-celebrated writer.

Yell and Shout, Cry and Pout: A Kid's Guide to Feelings is an essential guidebook for adults in helping children identify and understand their emotions. Each of the eight emotions is clearly defined thorough vignettes and illustrations, keeping both adult and child captivated, thus creating an opportune time for discussion. By recognizing that all humans experience these emotions throughout their lives, the book provides a true sense of comfort. Emotions are not to be shunned, but rather embraced and explained to provide a positive development environment for all children.

What are you reading right now?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Interview with Donna Galanti, Author of A Human Element

Donna Galanti writes murder and mystery with a dash of steam as well as middle grade adventure fiction. She is an International Thriller Writers Debut Author of the paranormal suspense novel A Human Element, the short story collection The Dark Inside, and Joshua and The Lightning Road.

She’s lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer. Donna dreamed of being a writer when she fell in love with the worlds of Narnia and Roald Dahl attending school in a magical English castle where her dark imagination ran wild in an itchy uniform (bowler hat and tie included). She now lives in Pennsylvania with her family in an old farmhouse. It has lots of writing nooks, fireplaces, and stink bugs, but she’s still wishing for a castle again—preferably with ghosts.

Her latest book is the paranormal romance, A Hidden Element.

For More Information

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?  

I am adopted and an only child, which both come to play in my books, and I love being alone! My other loves are bicycling, kayaking, and reading. I was a bit of a nomad until I settled into the career of novelist. I wandered from being a U.S. Naval photographer stationed in Hawaii to marketing bomb detection devices to running my own resume writing service.

What is your fondest childhood memory?

Soon after adopting me my parents moved us all over from England to owning a campground in New Hampshire. Cobham Surrey, England was my favorite place in the world to live as a child as it had such a medieval feel, and my favorite memories are from there. We lived in the old caretaker’s house of this old grand estate called White Tops. It even came with a gardener. It was a place of days gone by where I’d walk down the country lane to school and feed horses sugar cubes along the way. Each day the fish man would bring kippers for breakfast and the milk man would drop glass bottles at our door…and clotted cream some days. I even made my parents take me to Tintagel in Cornwall, the supposed castle ruins of King Arthur, because I love all things King Arthur.

When did you begin writing?

I’ve been a writer all my life since I was seven and fell in love with C.S. Lewis and Roald Dahl.  The tooth fairy would leave books by them under my pillow! Not surprising my first piece was a murder mystery screenplay that I had the neighborhood kids act out! I knew I was born to be a writer. It’s all I ever burned to do. When my mother died five years ago I began writing novels out of grief. Eventually that grief turned to peace and then at discovering what I love to do, be a true storyteller.

What is this book about?

In A Hidden Element evil lurks within...One family must risk everything to defeat an enemy that wants to rule the world with their son, but their enemy’s son may be their only hope to escape—if he survives.

A Hidden Element contains universal elements that people can relate to; abandonment, loss, redemption, acceptance, grief—and yearning for something you can never have. While there are paranormal and science fiction elements to A Hidden Element, there are some very real dimensions played out. These include the tensions within a family, specifically between fathers and sons, and the dilemma posed of how far a parent will go to save a child.

What inspired you to write it?

Writing in the paranormal allows me to tap into the “what if”. What if we possessed the power to do the unbelievable? Like telepathy, telekinesis. And what if we could use those powers to heal – or to kill? Some people like to imagine that aliens would have such power, as eluded to in A Hidden Element, but what if it was inside us all along and we just had to tap into it? And what if we could get people to follow us with our mind powers and do whatever we wished? Cults have fascinated me and how one person can inspire people to do terrible things. My cult fascination began with the horrifying story of Jim Jones played out in the news when I was a child.      

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?
You can purchase the Element Trilogy books here:

Book 2 in the Element Trilogy, A Hidden Element: http://amzn.to/1zjpIjM

Book 1 in the Element Trilogy, A Human Element: http://amzn.to/1mNcyCO

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

To me, success in writing comes from continuing to learn the writing craft and applying all I learn along the way. Success in writing can also only truly come when you let go—let go of your ego that is. I believe that this is the biggest reason why I am published, have a wonderful agent as my champion, and have four books coming out in the next year. And this is the biggest reason I see writers fail because they do not accept criticism and are not willing to do the hard work to make their writing better. This writing business is hard, but worth it! 

What is up next for you?

I am now plotting the third and final book in the Element Trilogy, A Healing Element, and also a young adult medieval fantasy series. I also write children’s books and in 2015 have the first two books coming out in my middle grade adventure fantasy series, Joshua and the Lightning Road. In book 1, Joshua Cooper learns the hard way that lightning never strikes by chance, when a bolt strikes his house and whisks him on an adventure to a world where stolen kids are work slaves for the frustrated heirs of the Greek Olympians. You can learn more about it here: www.donnagalanti.com

Monday, September 15, 2014

Musing Mondays - September 15

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme from MizB at Should Be Reading. It asks you to muse about one of the following each week…

• Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it!
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.
• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!
• Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!

My Musing:

Over the summer I traveled to the Midwest to follow one of my dreams: seeing some Laura Ingalls Wilder sites. I met friends from Austria, Toronto, and Wisconsin and we hopped into a couple of cars and drove to De Smet, SD to Walnut Grove, MN to Spring Valley, MN and to Burr Oak, Iowa before crossing the mighty Mississippi back into Wisconsin.

Now, you have to realize why this is such a big deal for me. First of all, I have never flown alone. I don't like flying as it is, but I have never had to get my silly little person through the airport and then fly into two unfamiliar airports by myself. I was so scared that something bad would happen that I carried my luggage on and didn't take anything with me that might get me in trouble with security.

Once I landed in Wisconsin I was fine, but then I had another hurdle to jump over. I don't care to drive in unfamiliar places. Luckily, the ladies I was with had traveled to these places more than once, so really, I was just following along. The neat thing is that we didn't use a GPS. As I said, they had taken these roads before, but they also used maps--like actual road atlases (the kind that I haven't seen or looked at in about 20 years). I would have brought my GPS, but I sure didn't want that confiscated by airport security. Now that I am selling real estate, I use my GPS almost daily.

This was by far the most exciting and amazing thing I have done in years. The kids were always too small for me to consider joining the group in the past. Another motivation for me to join them was that the 40th anniversary of the classic TV show, Little House on the Prairie is this year (September 11, 1974 to be exact), and they were having a three-day cast reunion in Walnut Grove. I didn't want to miss it. I figured this chance wouldn't come again anytime soon. They tied the reunion into the annual Wilder Pageant they hold in July, so we also got a chance to see the show. Actually, because I was traveling with an Ingalls relative, our seats for the pageant were so close up we got to sit next to some of the Little House on the Prairie cast members that were watching that night.

I had such an awesome time. It encouraged me to plan a road trip for me and my family next year. Not sure where we'll go, but I was thinking BEA might be part of the plans. I would also like to visit Prince Edward Island one day and see the areas I learned about from the Anne of Green Gables series.

Has your love of certain books or a television show ever prompted you to visit the places they are set in? What is the one place that served as a setting for a book or television show that you desperately want to visit?

P.S. If you visited before, you will notice I updated this musing. I wasn't feeling very inspired when I wrote the first one. :)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Book Spotlight: The Snows by K.M. Daughters

A UNIVERSAL SIGN WILL APPEAR PRECEDING THE APPEARANCE OF GOD. A PERMANENT SIGN WILL REMAIN – WONDROUS AND INEXPLICABLE ON EARTHLY TERMS The world's reckoning with God is imminent. Anna Babic Robbins, a Marian visionary from the remote Adriatic village, Valselo, is entrusted with the mission of delivering a parchment that documents unprecedented future events to a Chicago parish priest. The priest is charged with "shepherding" mankind to fulfill God's plan. Four devoted friends since grammar school at the Chicago suburban St. Mary Academy, the “Belles of St. Mary’s”: Bernadette O’Neal, a local television journalist on the Now Chicago show, married to an atheist; Tina Hernandez, a teacher at the women’s high school alma mater, married to a former teacher falsely accused of child molestation; Marlo Waters, a single supermodel; and Laci Marshall, the CFO for a non-profit organization engaged to a homicide detective, visit Las Vegas for Laci’s lavish bachelorette party when the universal sign appears. When God speaks, He whispers in the form of a seven-day, worldwide, impossible snowfall. The women and their loved ones witness the spectacle of the permanent sign, join humanity in facing judgment “before the throne” immediately after the sign appears, and grapple with how best to alter their lives before it’s too late after a preview of final judgment. WHEN GIVEN BY THE CREATOR HIMSELF, WILL THE HUMAN RACE TAKE THE SECOND CHANCE?

Paperback: 350 pages
Publisher: K.M. Daughters (August 21, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0990691101
ISBN-13: 978-0990691105

"Every story we have told has led us to this book…THE SNOWS."

K.M. Daughters is the penname for team writers and sisters, Pat Casiello and Kathie Clare nee Lynch. The author name is dedicated to the memory of their parents, Katherine and Michael, the "K" and "M" in K.M. Daughters. Inspired by their father who wrote children's books for them when they were small and their mother's love of romance novels, K.M. Daughters was "born" in 2005 at a Romance Writers of America national conference when the sisters plotted their first manuscript. K.M. Daughters has written eleven award-winning novels that have garnered rave reviews. The Sullivan Boys Series: AGAINST DOCTORS ORDERS, BEYOND THE CODE OF CONDUCT, CAPTURING KARMA, ALL'S FAIR IN LOVE AND LAW, IN THE ST. NICK OF TIME. The Adriatic prequel and sequel: JEWEL OF THE ADRIATIC, ROSE OF THE ADRIATIC. Gospa Journey novellas: LEFT AT THE ALTAR, JUST THE WAY YOU ARE, RESURRECTED LOVE.

Social Media links: Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/KM-Daughters/254548634579413