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Archive for May, 2009

victoriahoward1The girls at WGR are honored to have romance/suspense author, Victoria Howard with us today. Welcome, Victoria, and thank you for spending some time with us.

WGR: You say on your website that you consider Scotland your spiritual home, could you tell us what it was like living in the Highlands and what you enjoyed most about the area?

Victoria: Until my mid-twenties I had always lived in an urban environment and worked in the city, so moving to a croft in rural Scotland was a big culture shock.  You can’t just pop out to the shop if you forget to buy a bag of sugar, as the nearest shop might be twenty-five miles away.  My most vivid memory of those first few days in my new home was waking up to the sound of birdsong rather than the hum of traffic. 

It’s exceedingly difficult to say what I enjoyed most about my time living in Scotland, it’s more a culmination of the whole country.   Scotland is a place of contrasts; on one side you have the bustling modern cities, such as Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow, with their vibrant nightlife and on the other, you have remote, wild open moors, stunning mountains, and lochs.

WGR: Victoria, when reading through your bio, I saw you have a background in medical secretary, legal secretary, and managing a company. How did the writing come about and has your other careers influenced your writing?

Victoria:  I’ve always enjoyed writing, although I think my English teacher might be surprised by that statement!  As I child I found the task of writing essays on a given subject boring, and it was only when I started writing to friends, sharing travel adventures with them that the idea of writing a novel came about.  In May 2000, I travelled to Seattle and that’s where I got the idea for my first novel, Three Weeks Last Spring

I don’t think my careers have influenced my writing, but they’ve certainly given me inspiration.  For example, in 1975 Howard Doris was granted permission to use Loch Kishorn on the west coast of Scotland for a deepwater construction facility for the production of oil platforms for the North Sea Oil industry.  It was this personal knowledge that gave me the idea for The House on the Shore

WGR: Your newest release, The House On The Shore, is coming up for review here at WGR. Please tell us a bit about the story.

Victoria: The House on the Shore is a suspense romance set in Scotland.

When Anna MacDonald’s boyfriend—and boss—cheats on her and gives her promotion to someone else, she resigns and decides to get as far away from Edinburgh as possible.  She packs up her old Land Rover and moves to her late grandmother’s cottage on the shore of Loch Hourn in the Highlands. 

With no phone or neighbours, and only two border collies for company, Anna sets out to finally achieve her dream; to write—and sell—the novel that has burned within her for years. 

She’s finally on the verge of healing her heart and finding some peace when handsome American artist, Luke Tallantyre, sails into the loch with engine trouble.  He’s sailed across the Atlantic to escape an artistic dry spell and to come to terms with his dangerous past.  He rows ashore, and knocking on the door of the croft, asks to use the telephone, but the reception he receives is less than welcoming – in fact it’s downright frosty. 

Anna resents the cranky American’s intrusion to her seemingly idyllic life.  Luke thinks she’s an ill-mannered hermit.  But an unseen assassin is after one of them.  So they unwillingly join forces and embark on an adventure neither ever imagined…including a chance at true love.

WGR: What books do you enjoy reading and do you have a favorite author?

Victoria: I love reading, but I try not to read other authors’ work while I’m working on a novel.  I don’t want to be influenced by their “voice” and word choice, so I tend to read when on vacation or when I’m not working on a manuscript.

While in Florida last Christmas, I picked up a copy of Linda Fairstein’s novel, “Final Jeopardy” and was hooked, due in part to my interest in anything legal.  Since then, I’ve read more of her novels, and I find her one of the most exciting crime novelists I have ever read.  I also enjoy novels by Elizabeth Alder, Katie Fforde, Dana Gabaldon, I could go on, but the list would take up too many pages!

WGR: If The House On The Shore was contracted for film and you could choose the actor/actress to play the leading roles, whom would you choose?

Victoria: What a difficult question.  I think I’d choose Gemma Arterton for the role of Anna MacDonald. She was excellent in the role of Tess of the D’Ubervilles in the recent BBC production. Hugh Jackman would make an excellent Luke, as he has a cheeky smile that lights up his face. 

WGR: What’s a typical writing day like for you? Do you have a set schedule and a specific place/office for your writing?

Victoria: Just because I’m at home all day, doesn’t mean I can sit and write all day – there are household chores as well as shopping, and cooking to attend to, so my writing tends to fit in around them. But on an ideal day, I’ll settle down in my office by mid-morning.  My first task is to see if any emails have come in overnight from my publisher in Everett.  I will answer these first, along with any requests for interviews, media packs or copies of the free first chapters booklet my publisher has produced. Once I’ve done that, I like to read over the previous day’s work, making any changes I think necessary, and any notes I may have made about what should happen next. Then it’s down to the hard work of writing. I’ll break for lunch, and then again to cook and eat dinner. 

WGR: Where does your inspiration come from and how do you start? Do you use an outline or are you more of a ‘lets just start and see where it goes’ writer?

Victoria: Ideas for plots and scenes can strike at any time.  I might hear something on the news, or read an article in the newspaper and think “that would make a good plot.”  Or I might be on holiday and the town or city I’m visiting might become the setting for a novel. 

Once I have an idea for a plot and have given my characters names, and identities, I like to write a 2 -3 page outline of the major plot points.  I don’t plot scene by scene as some of my writing colleagues do. I find that too restrictive. Occasionally, as with the novel I’m currently working on, my characters will take me off in a slightly different direction than I first intended. This can slow my writing down, as I have to re-think how to get them out of a situation. However, I’ve never yet had to delete more than a few pages to get back on track.  

WGR: Do you have any secrets you’d like to share…something your readers would never guess about you?

Victoria: Before I started writing full-time, I designed and produced knitwear using traditional Celtic knotwork patterns.

WGR: Other than writing, what are your other passions?

Victoria: I enjoy listening to music – anything from classical to jazz. I’m also a keen gardener, although I don’t have as much time to indulge the hobby, as I would like.  I love to travel, and again don’t do nearly as much as I would like. 

WGR: Is there anything else you’d like the readers to know and where can we go to find out more about you and your books?

Victoria: I have just signed a contract for the publication of my third novel, Ring of Lies, set in the steamy heat of Florida. It is scheduled to be released later this year under the Vanilla Heart label. 

I have a website, www.victoriahoward.co.uk and a blog, where I post news and articles about writing, www.victoriahoward.wordpress.com     Vanilla Heart also has a website with details of all its author’s novels, www.vanillaheartbooksandauthors.com

Victoria, thanks so much for being here at WGR. It was great fun! 🙂

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tikaThe girls at WGR are thrilled to welcome author, Tika Newman. Tika, thank you for being with us today.

WGR: We will soon be reviewing your book, The Eyes Of Innocence, here at WGR and I understand it’s the first in a series, please tell us a little about the book and the series.

Tika:  Thank you so much!  I am delighted to be here.  I would like to mention that the series name, as well as the name of the first book is The Eyes of Innocence.

The Eyes of Innocence series is the story of a psychic girl with the power to heal, as she grows up helping people and animals. 

Kalina was orphaned at the age of three and adopted by her aunt and uncle.  Imagine how they feel when they witness Kalina heal an injured baby bird at the tender age of five.  This is only the beginning.  Kalina’s abilities blossom from there and she attracts a lot of publicity.  Her aunt and uncle worry for her safety and the family makes the first of many moves. 

 The story opens when they settle in a small town in upstate New York.  Kalina begins to dream of a white horse with black mane and tail.  The exact horse shows up on her sixteenth birthday as a gift to her.  Nobody has any idea where the horse came from, including Kalina, but she knows that the horse is indeed a gift.  The story takes many twists and turns until her secret heritage is revealed.  Kalina is thrilled.  Her aunt and uncle panic, thinking they will lose her.

I believe this series is an original story and not a copy-cat version of any other book, movie or TV show.  It is believable, as well as heartwarming.  Readers have cried with happiness and sat on the edge of their chair at other times.  My favorite comments are when readers feel like they are there, in the story as it is happening.

WGR: You had a long and successful career in real estate, when did you first begin writing and where did the inspiration come from for The Eyes Of Innocence?

Tika:  It was the summer of 2004 when the urge to write first became a driving force within me.  Although writing newspaper ads and fact sheets for the homes I sold always came very easily to me, I never dreamed I would write novels. 

The inspiration part is actually very silly.  My husband and I rented a movie for the kids to watch.  It is a very popular series and I was looking forward to watching it.  To say I didn’t like it, is putting it lightly.  All the way through the movie I kept saying that I could write a better story than this.  It’s too fake.  My husband said, “Do it.”  I did it.

 I had NO idea how much I would dedicate myself.  I had NO idea that I could actually write stories that people would love.  When the first book was released, I was actually taken aback by the comments from the readers.  They loved it!  I was thrilled! 

WGR: What do you hate most about the writing process and what do you love most about it?

Tika: The only thing I dislike is the editing, because I’m never satisfied.  I edit, re-edit, tweak, make a few adjustments, edit again, etc.  I am a fanatic and make myself crazy!

The things I love about writing?  I could talk endlessly about that.  The entire creation process has captivated me.  I love working with the graphic artists to get my covers exactly as I want them.  I always have a vision as to how they should look.  The writing itself is wonderful.  I have a vivid imagination and a resourceful mind, but to create these characters and bring them to life is still amazing to me.

Some may consider me to be non-conforming, as I do not use outlines.  I have a general idea in my head of the main gist of the story and I write as I go along.  For instance – I am working on the final edits of the third book now.  The fourth book is half written.  I couldn’t tell you how many books will be in the series, but I could tell you how it will end.

WGR: Which book in your series do you feel would be most suited for being made into a movie and whom would you choose for the leading roles?

Tika:  A movie would absolutely have to begin with the first book; The Eyes of Innocence.  Since Kalina grows up during the series, the background is too important to miss.  Kalina will be an adult as the series progresses, so there will have to be a number of different actors playing the lead roles.

WGR: From your bio, I see you’re from upper state New York. What’s the best thing about living in such a beautiful part of the country? 

Tika:  I love the change of the seasons.  Actually, even though New York is our primary residence, we spend from late spring until November on a small lake in Pennsylvania.  It is very secluded, as we are surrounded by hundreds of acres of state game lands.  It is a writer’s paradise and I am in my element, surrounded by nature.

WGR: What’s your favorite thing to do on rainy days (besides writing)?

Tika:  Cook, write, cook some more, write, leave the dishes for later because I need to write.  In between, I play backgammon on http://www.gammonsite.com

WGR: Since you love to cook. What are some of your favorite dishes?

Tika:  I am writing the never-ending cookbook.  I’ve been working on it for years.  I love making up new recipes including breads, main dishes, cakes, etc.  Since I love to experiment and be creative, I simply cannot follow another recipe without altering it.  Even making something as simple as rice, I catch myself adding herbs and garlic, as well as cooking it in broth instead of water. I make bread from scratch. There is something so satisfying about taking yeast, flour and water and kneading it with my own two hands.  Of course slathering the warm bread with butter is pretty great too..

I can’t say that I ever cook anything with the idea of it being for calorie conscious people. I go for taste, taste, taste!  Main dishes are the ones I love creating the most.  Some examples are four cheese meat stuffed shells, lump crab cakes, easy stuffed pork chops, company meat loaf with glaze, scallops and mushrooms, seafood alfredo and lots more.

WGR: Have you ever done anything totally bizarre/crazy/zany?

Tika:  Me?  No, never.  Ok, there was one time I was a little bizarre, crazy and zany, but only this once.  My husband had been away on a business trip.  My son and I went to the airport to pick him up and we brought the beagle with us.  We didn’t have a leash for her, so I had her on a long chain. I can’t remember why the devil made me do it, but we brought the dog into the airport with us. Not one person said a word!  Well, my husband did, but my son and I giggled like crazy.

WGR: What’s one thing about you that your readers would be surprised to learn?

Tika:  There is a little bit of me in Kalina and Amy Sue McAllister. I want to be a healer when I grow up.  Toby was real.  His picture is on the back cover of the first book.

I am on my third donation for Locks of Love, an organization that collects hair to make hairpieces for children who have lost their hair to illness and can’t afford a human hair wig. I figure these children and their families have enough to worry about. This is the least I can do.  At my age, it’s a bit juvenile to walk around with long hair, but I do it for a reason – to help children. 

Giving back is important to me.  When my Real Estate Office was open and I had lots of money, I used to donate a number of Thanksgiving food baskets and Christmas breakfast baskets to two local churches. The breakfast baskets were so much fun!  I’d buy Danish, eggs, jelly, peanut butter, butter, bread, sausage, bacon, pancake mix, syrup, English muffins, juice and milk.  I always stuck a bit of candy in for the kids and sometimes a little house decoration.  The churches knew who I was, but the baskets were donated anonymously.

Other than that, I am just an ordinary woman. My family comes first in my life.  I adore my husband and have friends that mean the world to me.  I believe in love and always try to do the right thing, no matter what. Honesty is important and probably part of the reason why I was a respected Realtor. If I saw a reason why a family shouldn’t purchase a certain house, I would attempt to talk them out of it.  My philosophy was that I’d rather show them ten or twenty more houses instead of letting them purchase one that I felt was not the right house or had a defect that would hurt the future value. I treated my customers fairly and honestly. As the years went on, 90% of my business was referral business from past customers. That was something I was very proud of.

WGR: Is there anything else you’d like to share and where’s the best place to go to learn more about you and your books?

Tika:  I have a new blog where readers are welcome to meet me, ask questions and interact with other fans. It’s located at http://tikanewman.blogspot.com/

Of course everyone is welcome to keep their eye on www.thistlewoodpublishing.com for the latest releases.  I’m planning on releasing Window to Her Soul, the third book in the series as soon as I edit it one more time.  I promise – only once more!  Seriously, look for Window to Her Soul sometime in late June. 

I would also love it if readers would watch for For the Love of Anne, an historical novel that will be released in 2009. Set in the late 1800’s, the novel tells of the hardships facing a young brother and sister when their father abandons the family. After the tragic loss of their mother, Anne refuses to be separated from Billy, no matter what the judge says. 

They pack their belongings and escape to Chicago under the cover of darkness. Their intent was to find their father, hoping that he would take them in.  Unfortunately, things do not go as planned. Chaotic adventures become commonplace to Anne and Billy as they try to survive on their own.   Anne’s creativity and good business sense set them off on many adventures as they make their way alone. 

Anne witnessed first hand, what love did to her mother and vows to never let a man do that to her. 

If the heart wants love, the head cannot stop it.  Anne can run, but can she hide? 

WGR: Thanks, Tika, for being here with us at WGR and the best of luck with your series of books. 🙂

Tika:  It was my pleasure.  I thank you for the opportunity to share my story.

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Book Reviews:

The Perfect Poison by Amanda Quick

Jewel by Brett Lott

The Eyes Of Innocence by Tika Newman

The House On The Shore by Victoria Howard

Author Interviews:

May 26, 2009 – Tika Newman

May 29, 2009 – Victoria Howard

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Congratulations to Tanya Wilson, the winner of our Spring Contest here at WGR. Enjoy your Amazon gift card, Tanya, and thanks for entering. 🙂

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brenda_hillThe girls at WGR are excited to welcome author, editor, and writing instructor Brenda Hill to our site today. Brenda, thank you so much for granting us an interview! 

1.) In your role as a writing instructor you often conduct workshops for aspiring authors. What is the most important piece of advice you give to a beginner?

To learn all you can about the craft of writing and never give up.

After welcoming new students and chatting about the different genres, I weave a glowing scenario similar to what we’ve seen in movies: someone decides to write a book, so they sit at a typewriter or computer, pound out a few sentences when they have time, and after completing the book, they send it off to instant riches and fame.

It sounds wonderful, and most of us have been led to believe that’s how it is. People still tell me they’re going to write a book ‘when they have time,’ as if time is all it takes. I tell my students how it truly is, which is often discouraging. 

While I may agree to other projects to pay the bills, my first love is the novel, and that’s what I’ve concentrated on for most of writing life. I made several attempts in the early years, hiding them away when I’d get stalled. 

But when I decided to take it seriously, to devote my time to writing and finishing a novel, I discovered the truth, that the Hollywood version of novel writing was a myth, a complete fabrication. Perhaps it was closer to reality years ago before the days of personal computers with novel writing software, instant research abilities, and online classes available to most everyone. Publishing houses and agents weren’t so snowed under with submissions and they could afford to take the time to work with a promising new writer. Some wined and dined them, even going as far as covering expenses while the agent or publisher worked with them to get that glorious novel written on a professional level.

Today, that seldom happens. Now, because of the enormous amounts of submissions, downsizing, budget cuts, and consolidations, few publishing houses accept manuscripts directly from new writers. Instead, they prefer submissions from agents who act as gatekeepers or first readers. And agents today are as demanding as the publishing houses. They’ll only consider manuscripts relatively free of errors, written well as to structure, pacing, believable dialogue, and of course, a page-turning story. Even then, they’re attuned to the market and will only sign what they believe will sell.

All of the techniques involved in telling a story good enough for other people to want to read require knowledge of the craft of writing. And it is a craft, just like playing the piano or any other musical instrument, painting a portrait or landscape, or even handling a car well enough to provide a smooth ride for the passenger. While some of us might be musically inclined or have watched someone else drive until we can recite the steps in our sleep, it takes knowledge and time to develop the skill to hit the exact right key, or to know exactly how much gas to give the car to get it to cruise instead of skipping like a flat rock in water.

I thought I could write a saleable novel the first time out. I’d read all my life, critiqued manuscripts at the bookstore I owned and had even taken several classes. But in the actual process of writing, I found myself frustrated by simple things such as condensing time or how to get my character through the door of a room and into another – all without boring my reader into a coma.

At one writers’ conference, a New York Times bestselling author said it took her years of learning, and when she took an unofficial poll of other authors, the average was eight years of writing, of rejections, of learning the craft before they ‘got it.’

Eight years. 

By then, I was so discouraged I could’ve cried. I’d already spent several years on my one story, writing, sending to agents, receiving rejections. And each time an agent said I needed improvement in a particular technique, I went on a quest to learn.

So yes, it took years, and I’m still learning.

But, when I finally received that offer of representation, I burst into tears. Even celebrating later, I was still so emotional that I couldn’t stop crying.

My books are now with a small indie publisher and I’m still hoping for that big contract with all the riches and fame. I still believe in those magical fairy tales, but like other big, important steps in my life, I have to work for it. Some writers are fortunate enough to have the novel-fairies guiding them to instant success, and while I may grudgingly read their books, I want to push them off a cliff.

So I tell my students that if they, after hearing all of that, still want to write, welcome! If they have that burning desire to create stories, perhaps there’s a reason. Perhaps something they’ll say in their novels will touch someone else in a positive way. So learn all they can and never give up. But I also tell them that if they don’t want to work, they should go home and take up a stress-free hobby.

Because writing well is hard work, you have to want it with a hungry desire that will not be appeased until you see your name on a newly-released novel. When I held my first book, saw the fantastic cover with my name on it, I hugged it to me in boundless joy and danced around the room. Only one other time in my life compared with that moment – giving birth to my son.

But with books you don’t have to change diapers.

2.) Brenda, it looks like as a writer you do a little bit of everything — short stories, novels, newspaper articles, and even restaurant reviews. What is the most unusual restaurant you have visited, and what are some of your favorite foods?

I grew up in Louisiana, and I love southern cooking – which usually means a lot of fried foods. And as much as I realize baked or broiled foods are healthier, my favorites are fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, bacon and tomato sandwiches, bbq ribs, buttered corn on the cob, biscuits, mashed potatoes and gravy. And of course, Mississippi Mud Pie, which is a rich, chocolate-fudge pie. That’s why I’ve battled weight all my life. I’ll eat ‘right’ for a while, even lose some weight, but as soon as I have a problem in life, I reach for my comfort food. They say, “Reach for your mate instead of the plate,’ but unfortunately, that only worked for a short time. Now if I could meet a Terry O’Neal from Beyond the Quiet in my own life, I might not need so much comfort food.

An unusual restaurant? Have to think on that one, as I choose the restaurant, and of course I pick ones that serve food I like. I will say that it took quite a while for me to try sushi. Raw fish is not one of my favorites. Even the thought of it makes me want to dash out the back door for the nearest KFC. But it’s my son’s favorite, so I broke down and gave it a try. I took him along so that if I didn’t like it, I could pawn it off on him.

However, it turned out to be a delightful experience, and I wrote a review of the Japanese restaurant, Sayaka, complete with photos of the dishes on my http://www.cuisinescene.org site. While I enjoyed the evening, I’m not in any hurry to go back.

3.) Please tell us a little bit about your new book, Beyond the Quiet.

It’s a story of self-discovery, a journey of learning and embracing who you truly are as opposed to what you believe others require of you.

Lisa Montgomery thinks her husband’s death after twenty-five years of marriage is the worst that can happen – until she discovers his secret life.

She struggles though loss, betrayal, and bitterness, finally examining her life as a wife, mother, and as a woman. She learns to open her heart, to let go of the sterile woman she’d become to passionately embrace the woman she wishes to be. She learns to cherish each moment and follow her long-buried dreams.

4.) What is the most rewarding part of the novel writing process?

When I finally get a difficult scene to flow like I want, when the words finally match the rhythm in my head.

5.) What is the most frustrating part of the novel writing process?

I’m not a writer who whizzes through and gets everything down. Instead, I plod along, writing a scene or even a sentence, needing to feel that certain satisfaction before I can concentrate on the next one. If I’m not satisfied, I’ll write it again and again, changing this word or that one, trying the sentence in a different way. When I’m feeling pressured for time, I’ll eventually let it go, but it’ll nag me until I go back for yet another round of revisions. I’ll keep at it until I can read it and know it’s right. Then I can finally breath a sigh of satisfaction and move on. 

6.) Both of your novels, Ten Times Guilty and Beyond the Quiet seem to feature women overcoming incredible hardships. Are your books based on personal experience?

Like most people, I’ve faced hardships and have struggled to overcome them, so I think there’s a little of me in everything I write. 

In my first novel, Ten Times Guilty, my female lead, Tracy, is a struggling single mother trying to do the best for her son. At one time I had the entire responsibility of raising and providing for my own child, so I knew of Tracy’s desperation and her struggle to do better on limited funds. While I didn’t experience her sexual assault, I’ve coped with other traumas, so I could write about panic, hopelessness, and finally, the determination to take control and survive. 

Beyond the Quiet tells about a grieving widow who discovers her happy marriage was a sham. I wasn’t a widow, but I did lose my husband of thirty years to divorce, so I knew all the emotions: loss, shock, grief, betrayal, and rage. Some of my character’s other experiences, such as meeting a man who made her toes curl, haven’t happened yet, but I have an active imagination. 

My Amazon Short, Am I Wife or Daughter? is based on my own experience with my mother’s care. Again, what happened in the story wasn’t my actual experience, but the dilemmas and emotions – the indecision, the resentment, and guilt – were all there.

The women in my novels wind up stronger than they were when their stories began, and I’m still working on that strength for myself. Tracy and Lisa inspire me with their gained wisdom and strength. 

7.) What are some of your favorite books? Movies?

My favorites range in genre from The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler to Memoirs of an Invisible Man – the book, not the movie. The book was a wonderful, engrossing story of a man in desperate circumstances, but to me, the movie was a disappointing attempt at comedy. Another favorite is the original The Day the Earth Stood Still, and again, I was disappointed in the later movie, which lacked the charm of the original. But I loved the movie version of Somewhere in Time better than the book, and I enjoyed both versions of Where the Heart Is. The Flame and the Flower and The Wolf and the Dove by Kathleen Woodiwiss are two of my favorite historical romances, and I love most books from Joy Fielding. 

8.) Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Only that publishing your writing is a tough, competitive business, full of setbacks, disappointments, and frustrations. Yet if you persevere and succeed, the sense of personal accomplishment you feel when holding your book for the first time is a satisfaction that never fades. And when someone tells you they loved your novel, that they stayed up reading when they should’ve been sleeping, it’s like a standing ovation at the end of a glorious, grueling performance. To touch someone in some way with your stories is a wonderful thing, so if you have that desire, keep trying and never give up.

19.) Where can we go to find out all the latest B.H. news?

My website, http://www.brendahill.com  or my Author’s Den site, http://www.authorsden.com/brendahill , where I post news, short stories that have been published, and features on writing.

Thanks again, Brenda, for chatting with us today. Best of luck with Beyond the Quiet!

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beyond_the_quietBeyond the Quiet
by Brenda Hill
Vanilla Heart Publishing, 2009
Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Quiet-Brenda-Hill/dp/1935407082

 
Emotionally abused as a child, Lisa Montgomery learned at an early age to keep her feelings well hidden, believing that the only way to be loved and accepted was to be perfect. As an adult, she finds stability and happiness in Mac Montgomery. When Mac loses his battle with cancer after twenty-five years of marriage, forty-four year old Lisa is devastated. On her own for the first time in over two decades, she returns to her job as a real estate agent, desperate to escape the pain of losing her husband and determined to carve out a new life for herself. Just when things seem to be getting better, she receives a strange notice in the mail; a letter stating that Mac’s post office box is due for renewal. The couple had always received their mail through home delivery, so thinking it must be a mistake, Lisa heads to the post office to straighten it out. What she discovers is the beginning of a nightmare as Mac’s secret life of lies and betrayal begin to unravel.

This book took me on an emotional roller coaster ride; a ride that pulled me along and refused to let me go until it reached its final destination. I was gripped by Lisa’s situation from the opening scenes, and with each turn of the page I found myself making more of an emotional investment. Lisa deals with some tough issues that any woman can sympathize with: an alienated daughter, a friend’s betrayal, a husband’s deceit. The plot took many twists and turns as Lisa made her journey to self-discovery, learning how to love again, how to live again. I was right there in every scene, feeling her joy, her anguish, and her outrage.

Brenda Hill succeeded in creating a character that I truly cared about and even loved, and placed her in a setting that became as real to me as my own neighborhood. Beyond the Quiet is a love story, but more than that, it is a life story. It is the story of what it means to be a woman.

Honeybee

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dancingwiththestars

 

Dancing With The Stars

By Norman Borine

Fideli Publishing, Inc. 2008

Genre: Memoir

Buy Link: http://dancingwiththestarsbook.com

 

It’s a wonderful thing to be able to live your life doing the thing you love the most and being well paid for it. Norman Borine was fortunate enough to do just that. He lived his dream. In Dancing With The Stars, Mr. Borine details his years as one of the elite, MGM contract dancers in the 1940’s. Working with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, he went from earning $100 a week to $1000 a week.

I’m one of those people who love old movies and especially those from Hollywood’s Golden Era. This was a time in film history that has never been repeated and probably never will be. Many an evening, I’ve been entertained by the big, Hollywood musicals of the forties and Norman Borine didn’t escape my notice. In my opinion he was one of the best dancers from that time period, and not just among the contract dancers, but the superstars as well.

I found Mr. Borine’s writing style fresh, emotional, and highly entertaining. Written in first person, I felt as though I was visiting with an old friend or reading a vastly interesting fiction novel. I was giving mental high fives whenever his career took a fortuitous turn and almost cried when weeks of work would end up on the cutting room floor. I was angered when one BIG break came and then was taken away by the hand of superstar. Through it all, the ups and downs, Mr. Borine seemed to take it all with a grain of salt. Even though, frustrated and disappointed at times, he never lost his cheerful optimism and remained grateful for the opportunities life granted. Always a fan of the dancer, after reading his own words, that admiration now extends to the man. 

If you’re a fan of this time period or any of the many stars Mr. Borine worked with, (Judy Garland, Lucille Ball, Cyd Charisse, Fred Astair, James Dean, Frank Sinatra, to name only a few), you’ll love getting a behind the scenes look at the making of these films. You’ll also have a rare opportunity to get better acquainted with some of these stars from the prospective of someone who worked with and was considered a friend by many of them. Included in the book are many photos from the author’s personal collection, and are perfect compliments to the story.

As a tribute to Norman Borine, the author’s nephew, Bill Borine, published Dancing With The Stars posthumously. Norman Borine passed away in 2005. Family and friends sadly miss the man, but fortunately for his fans, his work lives on for all to enjoy.

 Willow

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