By Dawn Farnsworth
About "Ashes in the Ocean: A son’s story of living through and learning from his father’s suicide"
Dawn's Book Review
I truly enjoyed reading Ashes in the Ocean by Sebastian Slovin. This is a brutally honest book although it is not written in a way that makes you feel sorry for the author. Sebastian has shared the story of his father's suicide but it is more so a story about how he used that event to become empowered instead of using it as an excuse. Sebastian has risen above this tragedy and uses his book, Ashes in the Ocean, as a platform for helping others.
Ashes in the Ocean goes deep into human behavior--this is not a book to be taken lightly (as of course suicide is not either). A child survivor of parental suicide is so much more than a child. The child is forever changed because of what they have experienced and what they will never experience. Sebastian has become a mentor and an example for others. He takes a situation that could break someone and becomes a shining beacon of hope for others with similar experiences.
So many lives are touched by suicide. I recommend this book, not necessarily for those who have survived suicide, but for any reader who is interested in learning more about those around them. Everyone has a struggle and emerging from that struggle as a stronger individual is something anyone can and should want to know more about.
Reading is the ultimate inspiration!
A Corner of Our Bookcase
“We never stop reading, although every book comes to an end, just as
we never stop living,although death is certain.”
“As citizens, we all have an obligation to intervene and become involved -
it's the citizen who changes things.”
By Cathy Hansen
-About The Book-
Coated with a life of lies and deceit, Burtrum Lee Conner is sick to her stomach. Dozens of times throughout her life the feeling of not being who she is has tormented her. But she kept it to herself, believing that maybe it’s just a chemical imbalance of some kind considering she is one of the first artificially-inseminated babies of the nineteen sixties. Now, there’s more though, something much deeper, much more maniacal than she could have ever imagined. She’s not the first test tube baby at all, but the first….
Burtrum Lee Conner, born into a world of scientific mystery, discovers that the life she’s been leading for the past forty years, is the wrong one. Her parent’s Jed and Jane Conner, stealing her as an infant, brought Lee up as their own. Even her devoted grandmother, Clair Conner, kept this secret close to her chest until they were found out. And now, Lee Conner’s biological mother, Katie Lee, wants her back, but not before the diabolical Dr. Stone has his say.
-About Mary Maurice-
After attending Western Michigan University for two party filled years, I decided to leave academia and explore the real world to learn what life is truly about. For fifteen years I’ve traveled the country working in restaurants, writing and doing readings wherever I was welcome.
While living in Minneapolis during my twenties, I was fortunate enough to be tutored by Dr. Jonis Agee, who was at the time head of the creative writing department at St. Catherine’s College in St. Paul. Her lessons were imprinted in me for all of these years, and have influenced my writing ever since.
My adventures landed me in San Diego, Chicago, San Francisco, and Oregon, finally leading me tos the Land of Enchantment where I’ve resided since 1994. Living in Santa Fe, and the beauty and isolation that surrounds me, has inspire my creative muse in ways that no other place has. While still working in the hospitality industry, my passion for the craft of writing has never been stronger. And I know with each sentence I write, and every paragraph I compose, my ultimate goal is to find the perfect word.
Keep on bookin!
You can visit Mary at marymaurice.com
-Cathy's Book Review-
I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read Burtrum Lee, by Mary Maurice. The book is a tale of identity crisis and mystery, with a bit of greed and conspiracy thrown in for good measure. The twists and turns of this book, as well as shifts between 1960 and 2004 kept me at the edge of my seat and unable to put the book down. It is a fast read and held my interest throughout, as I just couldn’t wait to find out what happened next, or what the rest of the family secrets were.
Having lived her whole life questioning who she was and feeling that something just wasn’t quite right, Burtrum Lee suddenly finds herself the focus of attention of a peculiar and potentially dangerous stranger, raising many questions about her birth that her parents and grandmother seem unwilling to answer. Frustrated by her family’s secretive behavior, Burtrum enlists her new friend Megan to assist her in finding out all she can about her past. The truth winds up being far more complex than Burtrum Lee ever could have imagined.
-About Cathy Hansen-
Cathy Hansen is a wife, mom, teacher, independent
beauty consultant, and small business owner. She and her husband operate SeedsNBeans, a local nature store, in Two Rivers, Wisconsin.
Guest Post by Santa Fe author, Michael French
There may be a thousand and one books on how to write a novel, filled with sound observations, but when it comes to creating and developing characters, many emphasize the mechanical over the intuitive. Over decades, here’s what I’ve painstakingly learned about making your characters authentic, original and memorable.
1. Most writers begin the writing process by working on plot. While plot is obviously important, I also like to know everything possible about my main characters, even if I never use many of their details in the novels. Whether you take voluminous notes about them, or talk out loud to them (and they talk back to you), it’s rarely enough. You need to imagine what they would do off the page, i.e., if they had to attend your Uncle George’s July fourth barbecue, or somehow landed in another novel altogether. Make them your best friends or worst enemies. Whether they come from your imagination or real life (or a combination thereof), you should be inside your characters a few hours every day—before you write a single word. Think of method acting. Characters aren’t simply pawns in a plot—they transcend it. They are what you remember long after the plot is often forgotten.
2. Great characters, to enhance their arc, should have a fourth or fifth gear that seems to come out of nowhere. For example, villains can turn into heroes with an act of kindness that we would never have anticipated, yet when we read the novel closely, we realize that the seed of kindness was planted by the writer from the beginning. Similarly, characters we start off admiring suddenly disappoint us when they hurt someone they love. If they don’t realize what they’ve done, figuring out the “why” makes them even more interesting. Well-conceived characters can help with plot troubles, too, if the writer wakes one morning and isn’t sure where his or her story is going (happens to most of us). Instead of robbing a bank, for example, your destitute character decides to give away his last fifty dollars to a stranger. The wife who has been cheated on, instead of taking revenge on her husband, is filled with insights about her father. A deeply-felt, richly-imagined character is your writing buddy, your co-conspirator, and their importance to the final product can’t be overstated.
3. It’s great to surprise a reader with the unexpected, helping give a twist to the plot and the character, but whatever transpires, it must have credibility. Unless she’s a prodigy, a twelve year old girl is not going to solve the murder of her parents that happened ten years earlier. A surgeon who graduated from Harvard is not likely to leave a sponge behind in his patient’s abdomen. If you go for low probability events, or extreme twists, you have to back them up with plausible explanations. The “willing suspension of disbelief” only goes so far. Once a reader becomes skeptical that the writer doesn’t know what he or she is talking about, it’s tough to win them back.
4. Most writers are more comfortable delineating one sex (or gender) over another, which often dictates their main characters and the genre a writer chooses. You can still be a male and write fantasy romances, or a female skilled at describing war scenes, but whatever your strength, play to it. Very few writers do everything well. The best write about what they know, and their characters evoke passion, empathy or curiosity in a reader.
5. Building a character arc should be done over the span of the novel. Just like it’s a writing sin to have an information plot dump in the first chapter of your book, likewise your characters shouldn’t reveal themselves right away. One aspect at a time—brought out by action rather than exposition—keeps the reader engaged.
6. Try to have one of your characters do or say something in the course of the narrative that’s totally original…something that’s never been done in another movie or film. This is not easy to achieve, but if you have an imagination, have some fun with it. You’ll go down a lot of dead ends, but if you’re lucky, you’ll end up on a mountain peak. Remember that the event has to be plausible, but originality is usually memorable. No matter how many crime stories we read, for example, the great ones take our thoughts and emotions to unexplored places. It’s what readers talk about in reviews and blogs.
7. All good writing, whether its plot, theme or characters, involves a high degree of problem solving. You start your novel after doing the prep work described above, yet as the words march across the page, something feels a little off. You can’t put your finger on it. What have you forgotten or overlooked? Where is the spontaneity and energy? The pieces fit beautifully when your first imagined them, but suddenly they’re like reading a foreign language. Take a break. Do something else with your life that week, or work on a different part or aspect of the novel. Ultimately, the biggest problem, when you finally solve it, can becomes your best writing.
My Latest Novels
By Crystal Otto
-ABOUT THE BOOK -
-ABOUT ERIC TRANT-
-CRYSTAL'S BOOK REVIEW-
Eric Trant does with words what Rembrandt did with paints. I have never been to the depths of hell or within the walls of a sulfur mine, and yet I physically experienced with Alberto and Paolo were experiencing because of Trant’s imagery and mastery of words. My heart rate quickened and I felt anxious. As an example, how can readers read this passage without being moved as if experiencing it themselves?
He held his breath and fought the pulsing in his temples as the climb
became something external to him, a thing imagined in the pitch and his faraway
palms, his faraway feet and the melting of his flesh
in the belching, stagnant atmosphere.
Alberto and Paolo’s father was a man I instantly disliked. Within the first few pages, I felt the hair the back of my neck prickle every time he was mentioned. Each character plays an integral part in the plot of this thriller and each was depicted expertly by Trant.
Risen is a quick read and is well-paced. I was drawn in from cover to cover and couldn’t wait to turn each page to find out what would happen next. Definitely a book I would recommend (whether the reader is generally drawn to historical supernatural fiction or not). I have read previous works by this author and this book did not disappoint. I look forward to future books by this author.
-ABOUT CRYSTAL OTTO-
-FOLLOW THE REST OF THE BOOK TOUR-
REVIEW OF THE DIGITAL RABBIT HOLE
The Digital Rabbit Hole by Larry Kilham discusses the digital technological world and our attraction to everything about it, especially the smartphone. He talks about how it is in our human nature to incline towards convenience and ease for instant gratification, but at what cost? He discusses ways to inspire creativity and how to recapture the days prior to the digital age.
I am part of a generation who grew up watching the digital age come about; I have witnessed some of the pros and cons of living in a digital society which the author addresses in his book. Some of the cons of digital technology he lists in the book are the Millennials performing below average in key employment skills, the rise of narcissistic attitudes, and social awkwardness.
As an instructor, I have witnessed the younger generation having issues holding a conversation, they seem to have shorter attention spans and difficulty retaining new information. I do not know if the root cause of this is technology, but it may play a role in the issues mentioned. I mention this because in the same chart that shows U.S. ranking low in literacy and high in smartphone use, it also shows Australia and Sweden ranking high in literacy and high in smartphone usage. Is it something else in the U.S. that is failing when it comes to the education of younger generations?
The book is an interesting read and will stimulate many debates and lively conversations concerning the use of technology in our everyday lives. For the most part, I believe the digital world isn’t going away anytime soon. We need more books like this to get us thinking about how to find solutions to new problems that have risen with the advancement in digital technology.
ABOUT THE DIGITAL RABBIT HOLE
Will digital media sweep us into a new era of prosperity?
What new advances in entertainment, culture, education, and knowledge can we expect?
Will we get stuck in Cyberland only to be saved by digital detox?
The Digital Rabbit Hole reveals that we are becoming captive in the digital universe. The portals are smartphones and the world is the Internet. We immerse ourselves in social media; we learn through packaged feel-good information; and we will leave the hard work to robots and AI. The book details digital media and discusses smartphone addiction problems. It proposes solutions to stimulate creativity and education and to recapture our humanity.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Tangalene Dudt served in the Army for eight years and now works as a contractor for the US government.
She lives in beautiful Arizona with her wonderful husband and loves to read, garden, hike, and run ultra-marathons.
Each year Tange resolves to read 100 books.
I feel that death has become a taboo topic in the U.S and we tend to not talk about it enough nowadays. We need more books like this one. She is definitely a role model of strength and courage and I hope I can be just as strong when faced with these situations in life.
ABOUT SHIRLEY MELIS
Shirley Melis is a longtime business writer, travel writer, and newspaper columnist who traveled the world interviewing everyone from busboys to heads of international organizations before launching a career in public relations in Washington, D.C. With Banged-Up Heart, she now takes her writing in a new direction, delving deeply into her own personal story of finding love late, losing it early, and discovering the strength to choose to love again. It is a fascinating odyssey, a journey both creative and erotic as Shirley and John work lovingly together to blend their dreams—until a mysterious bump on his forehead starts them on a tragic struggle against the dark hand of fate.
A graduate of Vassar, Shirley Melis has created an intimate memoir bearing eloquent witness to the kind of wild trust that can grow in the heart of an ordinary woman thrust into circumstances that few others must face. Now retired, she lives in Galisteo, New Mexico.
By Tangalene Dudt
Wave Rider describes Rebecca Fitton’s healing journey through a combination of poetry and memoir. She was sexually abused at a very young age and then abandoned emotionally and physically by her mother which led to a difficult personal life as an adult. She decided to take charge of her life in order to become the person she wanted to be. Her poetry is part of that healing process.
Fitton's poetry felt universal to me. One poem that had me laughing, because it rang so true, was ‘Electronic Self.’ It's about trying to connect with another person when electronics are getting in the way of that simple human connection. I can relate to this. Even for myself, it's a way to create a barrier and not let anyone get to know the real me.
As others who retire know, retirement is a busy time. She served on five non-profit boards bringing her business acumen to each. She and her husband Richard built a new home on his farm, and then he died suddenly. Recovery from his shocking death took time. Finally she realized that the time had come to remake herself. As the lyrics of the song go, “I’d built a life wrapped so tight it was strangling me.” Freedom was a spirit call from Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Rebecca arrived in Santa Fe in 2008 and fell in love with the blue skies, clean mountain air, a vibrant community and the arts. Her first poem was written under a juniper tree.
by Mari Angulo
Creative Visualization for Writers: An Interactive Guide for Bringing Your Book Ideas — and Your Writing Career — to Life
Author: Nina Amir
Publisher: Writer’s Digest Books (October 18, 2016)
Paperback: 224 pages
To become a more creative, confident, and productive writer, you need to focus your attention, visualize your desires, set clearly defined goals, and take action toward your dreams. Let Creative Visualization for Writers be your guide on this journey of self-discovery. You’ll learn how to:
About the Author
Nina Amir started as a journalist. She has a BA in magazine journalism with a concentration in psychology. After working as an editor and writer for a variety of regional magazines, a national corporation in New York City, and a small consulting firm, she started my own freelance writing and design business.
Working on other writers’ manuscripts sparked her desire to write a book of on topics she felt passionate about: personal development and practical spirituality. More than publishing a book, she wanted to build a business around those books.
Setting out to learn all she could about the publishing industry she got involved with the San Francisco Writer’s Conference and started the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge (now known as National Nonfiction Writing Month). In April 2012, her first book How to Blog a Book was published, became an Amazon bestseller almost immediately, and has remained one ever since. The Author Training Manual was published by Writer’s Digest Books just two years later and was a bestseller before any books passed through the register on Amazon. In addition she’s self-published several more ebooks, all of which have made it onto the Amazon Top 100 right away. In fact, she’s had as many as four books on one Amazon Top 100 list at the same time!
Thoughts on the Book
Amir's new book is hard to categorize. It's an activity book, it's inspiring to read, yet highly informational. She's going deep, bringing in research about left/right brain, and even chromotherapy to support her material. It's a book that asks you to dig deep and know yourself in ways you might not expect. It's a call to action.
I, myself am not an author, and writer is far from a noun I'd use to describe myself. However, I found this book to be a fantastic exercise even for "non-writers." Interestingly enough, my background is in business and marketing and I found direct correlations to crucial elements of business and strategic planning in "Creative Visualization." Even the sections are organized in a way that flows like a strategic planning process (except it's so fun you barely notice). You can practically write your own author Mission and marketing plan once you're done with the book!
Amir makes it clear at the beginning, that you don't have to read the book from start to finish to get what you want out of it "You may want to focus on the Goals section if you need to set intentions, or spend time with the Creativity section if you want to develop ideas or stimulate your muse. Use the coloring pages when you want to relax or focus. Use the affirmations when you are ready to commit to changing a particular negative thought." I found this to be true. This book is a companion that you can read again and again and build your own adventure each time.
There are six clearly outlined sections in the book. She begins with Self Exploration, she's asking you to dig deep and ask questions about what you know about yourself. Where are you now as a writer and person? As Amir explored the concept of "knowing yourself" as essential to being a good writer, I couldn't help but think of Hemingway, who wrote his weight down and kept a log of what he ate on the wall of his bathroom. Talk about really striving to know oneself. In the next section, Vision, you're looking at the future. What's next for you? Can you visualize your book, your success, even your ideal reader? In the Goals section, she addresses intention and goal setting, and she's literally asking you to draw a map to success. In the Creativity section, there are exercises to help develop ideas and stimulate your own creativity. In Focus, there's even a section with coloring pages, but it's not all "fun and games," even in the creativity section you're prompted to brainstorm and plan ideas for things like your author website, a potential talk about your book, and even blogging topics. All things that authors need to know and think about "outside" of their writing. I think the section about focus is extremely important because writers/authors tend to be creative, interested individuals at the core, so it's easy to jump from one thing to the next. Amir is asking you to check yourself and stay accountable to the plans you make and outline a clear path. And finally, there are the Affirmation Pages that lead with a Muhammad Ali quote: “It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.” This is literally a section of affirming prompts where writers (or anyone!) have a chance to build confidence and weed out negativity by writing about themselves, in their craft, in an positive way.
There's so much to be learned and practiced in "Creative Visualization." It's not just about the ideas and the craft itself, it's also about accountability and goal setting. Amir is not only asking the reader to make a plan but also to believe enough in oneself to know that you can do it.
This book will make an excellent gift for so many writers I know.
by Tange Dudt
My Name Is Wonder Synopsis
My Name is Wonder is a tale of adventure that will have you thinking from the first page until well after you’ve closed the book. This beautifully written novel chronicles the transcendent adventures of a little goat with big dreams. Join Wonder and his wisecracking guide, the mysterious crow Mac Craack, on a journey through the scenic landscapes of the American Southwest and into the heart of a mindful presence. Along the way, you’ll meet an unforgettable cast of creatures, each with an important lesson to teach.
About The Author
Ronald Chapman is owner of an international speaking and consulting company, Magnetic North LLC. In addition to international accreditation as a speaker and national awards for radio commentary, he is the author of two novels, My Name is Wonder (Terra Nova Publishing, 2016) and A Killer's Grace (Terra Nova Publishing, 2016 and 2012), two works of non-fiction, Seeing True: Ninety Contemplations in Ninety Days (Ozark Mountain Publishing, 2008) and What a Wonderful World: Seeing Through New Eyes (Page Free Publishing, 2004) and the producer of three audio sets, Seeing True: The Way of Spirit (Ozark Mountain Publishing, 2016, 2005), Breathing, Releasing and Breaking Through: Practices for Seeing True (Ozark Mountain Publishing, 2015), and Seeing True – The Way of Success in Leadership (Magnetic North Audio, 2005). Ron provides a wide array of social media content at www.SeeingTrue.com, content for people in substance abuse recovery at www.ProgressiveRecovery.org, and other content from his master site, www.RonaldChapman.com. He holds a Masters in Social Welfare from The University at Albany (New York.) Prior to his relocation to Atlanta, Georgia in 2008, he was a long-time resident of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Ronald can also be found online at:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/seeingtrue/
My Name is Wonder Review
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It is an anthropomorphic book which follows a goat named Wonder as he travels through life trying to figure out where his place is in the world. As a young goat, Wonder knew he never truly belonged at the farm and was different from the other animals. He wanted to explore and know more of what the world has to offer. His father finds him a teacher, Oren, to make him strong spiritually to help prepare him for his upcoming adventures. When Wonder finally leaves the farm, a trusty side-kick, a crow named M.C., acts as a guide in order to help him along this journey. All along the way, Wonder meets interesting characters and faces new challenges.
I took away many messages from this book such as to keep your head up and eyes on the ‘Light’ when others try to keep you down or when facing sorrow; it is okay to be different and follow the path laid out for you; and do not live your life as others would have you live it. These are wonderful messages for children and adults alike. I know I would have benefited from this as a child, but reading it as an adult it doesn’t hurt to be reminded from time to time how it is important to live in the moment and show kindness to everyone around you. This would be a great book for parents to read together with their kids to discuss the messages in the book. The children will love the characters and adventures Wonder encounters, but the adults will love the spirituality in this book. I know I will reread this one again and probably learn something new that I didn't catch the first time around. It will be fun to accompany Wonder along the way once more.
About Tang Dudt
Book Santa Fe
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