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I posted this review about Linton Robinson’s book, Sweet Spot, several years ago, but with all the political upheaval recently, this particular book keeps coming to mind. I loved it then and love it still.

Mazatlan Confidential Sweet Spot, Linton Robinson

Linton Robinson’s  novel of corrupt politicians, Mazatlan Carnival and baseball has all the credentials for a block-busting read: gritty, graphic and gripping. This is a fortuitous find among the many thousands of titles that are published every year and well-worth the effort. Fans of Elmore Leonard, Raymond Chandler and Tennessee Williams will discover resonances with Robinson’s main character, Raymundo Carrasco – retired, short-haul, major league star turned investigative journalist and local government flunky.

The depth of this novel is astonishing and the skill with which Robinson interweaves his dramatic motifs is a lesson in craft for any writer. Robinson’s command of his metaphors is masterful. The background information needed to create the depth of this story is fed through Carrasco’s columns and his insights about his native city and fellow citizens. If you thought you knew something about Mexico, this book will set you straight.

Carrasco has returned to his native Mazatlan after a few seasons over the border where he held his batting average steady – good enough for the Majors. Despite his success, he hasn’t found that “sweet spot” in his life. Although it seems a foolish choice, with the murders and mayhem of all the vultures surrounding him, he seeks that moment working for the mayor’s office press team. Just when his life can’t get worse, it does, spiraling into gruesome hilarity and poetic decadence.

Despite the relentless brutality, this novel is a glorious celebration of humanity in all its joyful exuberance and soul-destroying routine.

Sweet Spot is a novel I can recommend. It is thoughtful, intense and violent. It is also hilarious and beautiful in its compassion for all we poor/pure souls seeking that moment of absolute perfection.

While I read this, word for unrelenting word, I realized that the United States’ most intimate foreign relationship is mutually dependent and as destructive as Mundo’s love affair with Mijares.

 

Book Cover Image of City of Cats

 

It’s 384 A.D., the dawn of the monotheistic state. City of Cats follows the tumultuous events of one decisive year in the life of Lupicinus, powerful advisor to the Pope, who lives a duplicitous life as a clandestine non-believer, and Saturnine, wife of a Christian senator who secretly writes against the Church. Lupicinus and Saturnine are brought together and their lives changed forever by Kharapan, a Stoic from a remote land outside the Empire.

City of Cats, by Max Diksztejn

Cover Image of Seeking PatienceInspirational Regency Romance

SEEKING PATIENCE by Josie Riviera

Do people prove their worth by strength, or by character?

Half-Romany, half-English lord, he lives a perilous Gypsy life … until a sweet English rose saves his life, and perhaps his soul. Widowed by a cruel husband, she’s given up all hope of love. Brought together in peril, they dare to reach for a brighter future together.

Luca Boldor, Romany leader, lives a nomad’s life in Regency England with his Gypsy caravan. Believing his noble father abandoned him at birth, he refuses to acknowledge his English blood, or live a settled life. But when a vicious attack by a rival leaves him bleeding on an English lady’s doorstep, he has no choice but to accept her help. Her gentle faith stirs his heart in a way he has long denied.

Lady Patience Blakwell, widowed countess, lives in near poverty. Her husband’s heir uses threats to keep her from demanding her rightful inheritance. With a few faithful servants, she exists quietly in the country, only her faith keeping her strong … until the day a bold, handsome Gypsy collapses in her hall. He’s unlike any man she’s ever known, and she’ll confront any subterfuge to keep him safe.

But when a secret from Lady Patience’s past emerges, Luca must face his own past, or lose her and all hope of love. Will this strong man humble himself to open his heart for his lady?

Travel back to Regency England for this sweet, inspirational romance.

Watch the Trailer. Seeking Patience is available at many online booksellers in ebook, print and audio as well as on Amazon.

Historical Mysterydeath-visits-a-bawdy-house-small-1

DEATH VISITS A BAWDY HOUSE by Adele Fasick

A Charlotte Edgerton Mystery, set in the 1840s in New York City

When Charlotte Edgerton, moves from staid Boston to bustling New York City in 1843, she finds the crowds on Broadway thrilling. She is young, idealistic, and in love. But when first one and then another of the glamorous “sporting girls” who work in the city’s famous brothels are murdered, Charlotte becomes aware of the darkness that lurks behind the bright glow of  Manhattan. In a city where abolitionists are not popular and suspicion of free blacks runs high, the arrest of a black man for the crimes enflames much of the city. Charlotte  discovers that police can be prejudiced, politicians are not always honest, and kindness can lead to danger. Will she be able to find safety for herself and end the terror gripping women throughout the city ?

Death Visits a Bawdy House is available on Amazon and is the 2nd in the Charlotte Edgerton Mystery series.

death-visits-a-bawdy-house-small-1A new book has been added to Featured Books today, Death Visits a Bawdy House, Adele Fasick’s recent Charlotte Edgerton Mystery.

Featured Books will be a new page on this site to introduce books by authors in my various writing networks. These featured books will include a descriptive blurb and a cover image but are not reviews; the authors’ blurbs speak for themselves. A link to the author’s website or to the book may also be included.

To start, the featured books are new or soon to be released from two friends from Romance Writers of America as well as other networking groups, Kathleen Bittner, contributes a Regency Romance, and Lynn Cahoon, shares a Romantic Suspense.

I hope you enjoy the new page, Featured Books.

Leigh

yellodaisyMany of us experience trepidations when we offer something of ourselves to others.

The classic and often humorous question, “Suppose I give a Party and nobody comes?” is all the more poignant for actors, dancers, artists and writers who are always at the mercy of “invited” guests when they exhibit, perform or publish a work of their own creation.

A saying in the performing arts goes, “As long as there are more people in the audience than on stage…” but imagine what you feel when that is not the case.

A writer is always a singularity—in no danger of being in the majority—as long as you have more than one reader.

As one of my colleagues once commented, “If one person reads your book and loves it, you are a best-selling author.”

There is no monetary security in the Arts, probably least of all in the written word. Here are the statistics one author presented to a workshop a few years ago (regarding fiction authors):

  • Only 3% of authors/writers are ever published.
  • Only 3% of those authors who are published get their name of the cover of the book.
  • Only 3% of published authors with their name on the cover of the book make a living from writing.

That works out to .00027% or roughly 8100 authors out of an estimated 30,000,000 writers.

1384050607361Do not quit your day job until you get that movie deal.

Many more of us in this century can tick off the first two of the statistics largely due to the advent of independent/entrepreneurial publishing. Some of us were among the fortunate .009% who ticked off the first two in traditional/legacy publishing but are still far from being among the 8100 who can make a living from writing alone.

Like most creative people, writers find other ways to bring in the payola, bread, dough, green, bacon. Some of us find employment in a field related to our vocation such as writing copy, journalism, grant-writing, advertising, web content—hoping that such activity won’t kill our creative impulses. Others make our daily bread from sideshows such as teaching, talks, workshops.

1384050603906And many choose to work in jobs and professions that have nothing to do with writing and everything to do with keeping a roof over our heads and food in our children’s mouths.

Fortunately for all of us, we live in a culture and society that gives us the freedom and tools we need to create and dream and speak our minds.

Imagine if we didn’t.

What kind of party would that be?

Last summer, I had the privilege of attending a workshop offered by Ursula Renée, who writes historical novels set in the 1930s in New York City. Renée had a long list of ways to discover information about the time period, the activity, the product or just about anything a writer needs to make their book—whether fiction or non-fiction—authentic.

The book I’m writing at the moment takes place in the 1870s, in Maine, beginning in the summer, in a small village about six to seven years after the American Civil War. There are aspects of this story that are familiar to me, such as village life in Maine—regardless of the era—and human behavior.

Less familiar to me but researchable are:

  • When is the best time to prune a tree—in the manuscript, I have written that the male protagonist starts chopping away at an 100 year old oak in the heroine’s front yard at the end of summer. NO! I would be excoriated by my good friend, Paul (arborist and my former singing teacher) if I allowed that error to survive into a published novel. Laughable but it is the sort of error that can stop a reader and destroy our credibility.
  • My hero travels from Wyoming to Maine, part of the journey is by train. So. What type of train engine was hauled carriages up the coast and into Franklin County from Boston? It might be excusable to leave the details of the train as vague and non-committal. But, isn’t it better to add some meat on the bone? My research presented the Achilles. Perfect! The flawed hero of Greek tragedy carrying my flawed hero toward his destiny.
  • Speaking of post-Civil War travel, is it good enough to say coach or carriage or would landau be more authentic?
  • A young woman of this period doesn’t just wear a dress…she wears a steel hoop crinoline ‘pouf’ and pantalets, a corset with detachable sleevelets, a flat derby with ostrich feathers and bloomer skirt.
  • The American Civil War is thoroughly documented from every angle and perspective—a surefire cesspit of quicksand to sink my book to the unforgivably forgettable regions of ‘false history’. With so many truly magnificent non-fiction and fiction books available to the thousands of enactors/enthusiasts/history readers, how do I write this book?
    • Read wide – not just what is ‘accepted history’ but alternative views
    • Reject the notion that there is only one true side of history
    • Know that history is written by the victor but there is always an opposing view
    • Avoid capitulating to those who threaten you with “You’d better be on the right side of history”—see point directly above
    • Write as honestly and as judiciously as possible
  • No matter how well-researched we think our book is…someone will find a fault. Or disagree. Or think our book is the ‘worst book ever written’. There’s no remedy for this. We must write our best, write what we believe is important to say and take the criticism on the chin.
  • Writers of genre fiction have a particularly prickly relationship with the ‘expected’ but, Agatha Christie aside, a little curve ball (mixed metaphor acknowledged) can make a formula a chemical explosion. To paraphrase  Steven Pressfield from his book, The War of Art, following the recipe may make a soufflé but it doesn’t make a meal.

Of all the pitfalls we face as writers, getting our facts wrong can lead us into a hinterland from which there is no escape. Always get a second opinion.