Remarkable Reads for 2018, Part One

I began my first Goodreads challenge in 2013, a year and a half after I signed my first book contract. It always seems I get more done if I challenge myself, and I knew that in order to be a better writer, I needed to read more. The first year, I set my goal low – ten books – and I met it easily. The next year, I pushed myself to read 40 books, and when I managed to meet that goal I increased it to 50. That’s almost one book per week. My goal has been 50 books a year since 2015, and as busy as my days are, I don’t think I’ll raise that expectation any time soon. I often read while eating, when taking a break from writing or schoolwork, or just before I go to bed. Every now and then I’ll have time when waiting at the doctor’s office with my mom or my husband, and I’ll read on my phone. But there are so many great books out there my TBR list never seems to shrink.

January has been a great month for reading! Here’s what I’ve finished so far:

Love UnmaskedLove, Unmasked by Vivian Roycroft
This is a fascinating story in which Fidelity, a young lady in her seventh season, discovers that her attraction to the toast of the ton has not gone unnoticed. The dashing gentleman has also caught the attention of her two younger cousins and Fidelity is mortified to discover her preoccupation is well known to them. Fidelity makes the rash decision to leave the social scene and retire to the country as an official spinster – but before she leaves, she hopes to create some juicy memories to take with her. The story is told from both her point of view and that of her good friend John Greysteil, also known as Grey. I loved reading about Fidelity’s journey to self-discovery and look forward to reading more of Vivian Roycroft’s regencies.

Crash CourseCrash Course by E. A. West
I don’t usually read books about the high school scene, but I enjoy E. A. West’s writing, so when I heard about her recent release set in the world of motocross racing, I jumped at the opportunity to read it. Angie is a teenager who’s experienced more hardship than most adults see in a lifetime. Reading about the abuse she suffered made me fearful for the potential dangers my grandkids face each day. Angie’s sudden move from California to Virginia means that she’ll suddenly have rules and expectations, and she doesn’t trust the clean-cut kids in the youth group. Her fears and anxiety are well-portrayed, and I had no trouble reading this in a few days, because I didn’t want to put it down.

Lady FallowsLady Fallow’s Secrets by Suzanne G. Rogers
I’m a huge fan of Suzanne G. Rogers’ historical romances, and I usually order them as soon as they’re available. Her books always contain nail-biting drama and sigh-worthy romance, and this one certainly delivers. It’s quite a bit longer than most of her other romances, so I’m glad I put it in my reading cue at a time when I’m not as pressed for time. Euphemia has been promised in marriage to Lord Fallows, and her uncle is determined to see that the wedding takes place – even though she’s in love with someone else. The lengths that her uncle goes to can only be described as abuse, and my heart bled for her when her efforts to escape his clutches were thwarted.

Drive me CrazyDrive Me Crazy by Mysti Parker
Country girl Ellie goes to the Big Apple for her first job after graduating from college. Luke is a native New Yorker. Though they come from totally different backgrounds, they actually have a lot in common. They both take pride in their work, they are fiercely loyal to their friends, and they have both suffered, physically as well as emotionally. The attraction between them is immediate and powerful, but they have a lot to overcome before they can reach their happily-ever-after. I enjoyed reading about their journey, and recommend it highly. This is the first in a series, and I look forward to the next installment.

What are you reading?

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From Captain Kangaroo to Stephen King

The question of the week is: Which celebrity do you wish would hold up one of your published books on a national stage (or TV) and say, “Hey, everybody should read this!”?

I am not someone who is in awe of celebrities. I know they all have foibles. Although I am somewhat in awe of everyone I meet. Every person. Everyone else has something within them that I don’t have. That isn’t to say that I love them all; I just admire the capabilities which I seem to lack.

But other people listen to celebrities. However, most of those I could come up with this week might have a teensy problem:
most of them are dead.

As for my poetry, I’d love for Walt Whitman or Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to endorse me, but that won’t happen. I can’t come up with a modern poet who is a ‘celebrity’ and would enjoy my lines.

For my serious story, I would have been beyond thrilled to Stephen Vincent Benet or Robert Louis Stevenson, (who could also have supported my poetry). Alas, they are no more.

I have one completed a rhyming children’s story and I would LOVE to have had Bob Keeshan, aka Captain Kangaroo, read it and record it. It has a Christmas theme and I’d love to have had him do it much like “The Littlest Snowman with the Red Candy Heart” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ugx7p5UPHYs.

For those of you who did not have the joy in their childhood to watch Captain Kangaroo, particularly in the 1960s, here is a look at the man, who left us in 2004: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EW3r-Sgkq8

I have one novel, (which I have put off completing, don’t ask me why, I think of it nearly all the time. My biggest problem is that I have several stories going at once; picking one to sit down and finish is a problem for me). But, who to endorse it? Is it a romance? There is the question. There are several couples and others involved. It is not as deep as the novels of Liane Moriarty or the better works of Cecelia Ahern, but those authors are good, famous and very much alive. (Please don’t judge their writings by movies and shows, either.)

There are a few supernatural stories; they are not as intense as Stephen King’s work, but he’s still with us and a great writer .If you judge his writing by the movies made of his works, please don’t. If you don’t have time or access to his works, his short stories are on YouTube, and some are read by the man himself. He could do a pitch for me any day.

I have one with a real twist and who better than Alfred Hitchcock to endorse me? Maybe Graham Greene, (the writer, not the actor, although the actor is a great talent). Again, both gone. However, since it is based on the real events of one night when my niece and I went to a book signing, I could ask the author we went to see, Mary Janice Davidson. Besides being a NYT bestselling author, she is very open and kind to her fans.  Although she is an international best seller, I don’t know how readily recognizable she may be.

Some have already mentioned Oprah and her book list; Kelly Ripa also has a list, and getting on either one would certainly bump sales skyward.

Politics or lifestyles aside, I’d pick Sean Bean, George Clooney and Brad Pitt, because gosh, they are well worth looking at. To sell to men, maybe I’d get Allyssa Milano, Halle Berry and Penelope Cruz.

Never mind.

As I finished typing the lists, I realized that it probably wouldn’t help sales since the men and women will be looking at my celebs and paying no attention to my stories!

Posted in authors, Books, careers, goals, horror stories, imagination, inspirational people, Lists, novels, reading preferences, short stories, Tonette Joyce, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Everybody Should Read This Book

My Celebrity Spokespersons

By Jeff Salter

This is another example of a topic I’d originally suggested, but for which I no longer recall whether I had anything particular in mind. Indeed, as I’ve read the offerings of the Resident Foxes so far this week, I see completely different directions than what I had likely imagined. All to the good, of course.

I suppose what got me on this topic was musing whether Ian Fleming’s short novels about a British agent (with a license to kill) – would have gone very far… if not for the famous mention by American President John F. Kennedy. Not long afterward, James Bond was not only a household name, but the idol of most red-blooded males old enough to read the stories. Not to mention that those handful of novels and stories spawned one of the most prolific franchises in film and merchandise that the world has ever known (outside of Star Wars, of course).

One of the Foxes mentioned celebrity AUTHORS. Another mentioned Celebrity ACTORS who might play the roles of her characters, if/when those stories made it to the screen. A third Fox mentioned endorsements from sources directly connected to the subjects of her stories — whether those be organizations, TV shows, or competition athletes.

ALA-Sean

Don’t you know this book sold a bunch of copies after Sean Connery — one of my favorite movie stars — so prominently endorsed it?

All those wonderful ideas got me to thinking about a public awareness campaign created by the American Library Association several decades ago (at least by the late 1970s, when I entered the library profession). This campaign at one time focused, I believe, on National Library Week… but later the celebrity poster series was so popular that many libraries used them as semi-permanent interior decoration. ALA took celebrities from screen, stage, politics, business, industry, music, sports, and just about any other endeavor in which popular people may be found. Each was to select her / his favorite book (or one of their favorites) and pose for a photo. The campaign was wildly successful and you can only imagine what a sales PUSH each of those titles got from the hundreds of thousands of each poster which were purchased and posted in libraries across the country.

ALA-Denzel-1

Denzel Washington is another of my favorite actors. I’ll bet a lot of kids checked out this Dr. Seuss classic after seeing this poster.

And imagine the effect on children who idolized celebrities (such as the sports figures) and realized, “Hey, those athletes also READ.”

So what would I hope for?

Well, certainly, I’d love for the TV show that deals with tree houses to mention, on air, my novel, Stuck on Cloud Eight — because my heroine (in that tale) lives in a custom tree house. And I’d love for one of the TV shows that investigate spooks and hauntings to mention, on air, my novel, The Ghostess and MISTER Muir — because my hero (in that tale) takes up residence in an apartment carved out of a former luxurious hotel suite which is now haunted by a lovely 100-year-old ghostess.

Here are a few other celebrities whose attention I wish I could get long enough for them to read my stories and publicly endorse them:
Dale Dye – former Marine officer who now acts in various military-themed movies and also serves as a consultant on many others – could endorse my tribute to the Greatest Generation, Called to Arms Again.
Lucille Ball – (were she still living) who was superb at screwball comedy – would be a terrific endorser for my screwball comedies, Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold and Scratching the Seven-Month Itch. I can’t think of another living actress or actor who is known for that type of comedy… and please don’t suggest Will Ferrell.

Dedications

My chances (of reaching a celebrity and securing their public endorsement) are pretty slim — let’s face it. But I have been thinking this week of endorsements which would not likely be as financially advantageous… but would mean a lot to me, nonetheless.

As might be expected, most of my 14 titles already released (and two more titles expected this year) have been dedicated to relatives or friends. But three (so far) and one (expected soon) are dedicated to former teachers who meant a lot to me at the time I was in their classes and whose interest and encouragement kept me writing when I may otherwise have given up.

Not necessarily because of the story’s content, the following titles are dedicated to these former teachers:
* The novella Don’t Bet On It — dedicated to my third grade teacher, Ray Katherine Netterville Dunaway.
* The novel Scratching the Seven Month Itch — dedicated to my senior English teacher, Earlene Howser Ward.
* The novella Pleased to Meet Me — dedicated to my sophomore English teacher, Rosalie Sherman.
* The as yet un-released (but hopefully soon) novel Not Easy Being Android — dedicated to my high school drama teacher, Judith Lacour.

Something that would really be meaningful to me would be if each of those teachers
* would learn that I’d dedicated a book to them (some I have not been able to track down),
* would read my story and really (sincerely) LOVE it,
* would tell all their friends and relatives about my story, and
* would brag (to everyone who would listen) about that student they knew so long ago who still remembered them (and their encouragement) so kindly.

Now that’s an endorsement that would warm the cockles of my heart!

[JLS # 367]

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How about a shout out?

Each of my books probably would require its own celebrity endorser. Each one has a different hobby or group that would be an interested audience.
Sucker_withseriestitle_500x750For Sucker for a Hot Rod, If I could get a shout out from David Freiburger and Michael Finnegan of Roadkill fame, that would be awesome. Their showcasing of barely running cars would be a perfect connection to Judi’s Datsun 240Z. Her old car has a variety of mechanical and electrical issues, not because the vehicle ‘never fails to fail’ like the Rotsun (also at Datsun 240Z) on the show, but because of the Meddlesome Matchmakers’ shenanigans. I could see Bryce and Judi binge-watching their show on YouTube. Bryce would probably join them on one (or more) of their events and maybe even be the professional help they seek when on location in Michigan. While I’m not a gear head, I love the show Roadkill. Freiburger and Finnegan make me laugh.
My upcoming story involving Bigfoot could use a shout out from the folks at the BFRO (Bigfoot Research Organization). Their show provided a lot of the information about Bigfoot habits and habitats that Marshall describes in the story. Marshall’s physical description even evolved from Bobo’s.
Climbing Heartbreak HillA professional marathoner would be a great endorsement for Climbing Heartbreak Hill. They could speak to Ryan’s challenges with injuries and missing goal races. They could also relate to the heartbreak and mental anguish of career-ending injuries.
I could probably find a specific celebrity to give a shout-out to any of my books.
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Proclaiming Books

This week we were asked which celebrity we would want to hold up one of our books to tell the world that they should read it. There are of course the obvious answers like Oprah or Reese Witherspoon who share with their fans the books that they love. These two get the word out about books and people listen. While I would love if they decided to share one of my books they are not the first ones who popped into my mind when asked this question.

You see, for me I would want the celebrity to be someone who I could picture portraying one of my characters. So, for me I think I would have to say that I would want Richard Armitage to possibly proclaim a fondness for Love Overcomes and a desire to portray Jeremy. He comes across as a man who loves the written word and bringing characters he enjoys to life on the screen and stage.

a01ba669d63f2b31860b1307444199a0--richard-armitage-fandom

I do not believe that he has a big social media following like many celebrities have so while him holding up one of my books and saying it is a good read might not boost sales it would boost my confidence. Which is something that writers need a lot of in order to put their works out there for others to devour and pick apart.

It would be even more amazing if he would recommend the book to be made into a movie. Can actors do that? Do you think they have the pull to get a book they love turned into a feature film? I have heard of actors who start their own production companies so they can work on projects that they really want to work on.

Like I said if I wanted my book held up just for a boost in sales ranks and to make the USA Today bestseller list then I should wish for Oprah to hold up one of my books. However if anyone,whether the teacher who lives down the street from me, Peter Jackson (my favorite director), The Queen of England, or the gas station attendant who works around the corner were to hold up one of my books and proclaim, “Hey everybody should read this!” Then I would be so incredibly elated. Someone thought well enough of my writing to recommend it to others! That single recommendation makes all the difference.

Is there someone you would want to talk about your books?

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Listen to the Experts

This week, our resident hound asked us to choose a celebrity we’d want to hold up and endorse one of our published books on a national stage (or TV).

My first thought is that it would be an honor to have any well-known person support my writing. But accolades coming from someone in the same field, whose work you’ve admired, mean even more. And there are two authors who lead the way in my genre of sweet romance. Back in my super hectic working mom days, reading romances helped me keep my sanity. It wasn’t so much the mushy romance stuff, but it was the way the heroine managed to overcome whatever obstacle she faced, often with the hero’s help. Sometimes the hero was the obstacle. Anyway, two authors whose work I devoured were Rebecca Winters and Debbie Macomber. Their books made me laugh, cry, and sigh with contentment at the happily ever after. I read everything on my local library shelves with their names on them, and then I faithfully checked the paperbacks in the department stores for new titles. If their names appeared on the covers, I didn’t even look at the title or the rest of the cover – the book went in my cart.

RW CollageRebecca Winters is a prolific author, with almost 50 books published by Harlequin, the premier publisher of romances. She’s also won numerous awards, so her talent as an author is well known. I first discovered her when I read Bride of My Heart and found myself re-reading it over and over. Then I discovered that it was part of a series and searched the library shelves for the other two titles (The Rancher and the Redhead and The Mermaid Wife) as well as anything else I could get my hands on by her. Her books are often set in Europe, and the way she incorporated the various settings in her stories made me eager to write about the places I’ve visited. This past year, she published her 150th book – quite a feat! So if someone who has spent enough time researching and writing that many books actually read MY book, it would be a true honor. I had a lot of trouble locating a picture of Rebecca Winters, but this one is on her website – and beside her tiny picture is the cover of her 150th book.

Debbie M collage

The Forgetful Bride is one of the first Debbie Macomber books I read.

Debbie Macomber is another prolific author I admire. Her books range from sweet to steamy. Many of her books are part of a series, often about large families. Like Rebecca Winters, her books are set in various locales, though most are in the United States. I admired the way she wrote entire series set in different locations: Washington state, Texas, California, and Alaska, among others. She also seems to share my love of hand crafts, especially knitting, and I read most of her Blossom Street series. I was delighted when some of her holiday stories were made into Hallmark movies, and when the Cedar Cove series appeared on television I watched every episode! Her success is truly an inspiration, so if she were to even hear my name, let alone read one of my titles, I’d be blown away.

So there’s my answer to this week’s question. If I could choose a celebrity to endorse my writing, it would be one of the romance authors who first inspired me to write.

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Guest: Author Patricia Gulley

Like so many of my guests, Patricia and I met on Facebook through writer friends. Also, like a number of my guests, Patricia originally hales from my mother’s neck of the woods, near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

Patricia Gulley.

To learn more about her, let’s get right into the questions.

Welcome, Patricia! I am so happy that you are here with us.

The books which you have published so far are somewhat autobiographical, “Brownstone Burial” features a young woman who couldn’t wait to leave her small town to go to New York City, where she became an airline booking agent; that was essentially you, right? What inspired the rest of the story?

Yes, that was me. Travel the world became a ‘calling’ when a friend got a job as a res (reservations) agent and talked to me about it. An aunt lived in New Jersey and she let me stay with her until I got the job, then I found other new agents who wanted to share an apartment, so I moved into the city. We had a one bedroom in a brownstone, and that’s where I fell in love with the buildings. So old, so much renovation in most of them to convert to small apartment houses. They HAD to be haunted. And at the time, so many people of first and second generation used their ethnicity to identify themselves. So, I just used mine, conveniently, to create some of the people who lived in our brownstone. That would be Ukrainian. I’m first generation on one side, second on the other.

Gulley1

The main character in “Downsized to Death” is also basically “you”, in the sense that she is a middle-aged travel agent whose company is drastically downsized, and she lives in a floating home. You have lived that much of the story. Again, can you tell us how you came to write the rest? (And please tell everyone about your ‘floating home’.)

Yes, again me, as I was a travel agent for a world company, and they just closed all the US offices at the end of 2001. I adjusted it to a national agency, and they only downsized by firing, laying-off and demoting management. And many may be familiar with the trials and tribulations of upper management when they are desperate to keep their jobs, so I put them all together and got a murder mystery.
I live in a floating home. It is not a boathouse or a houseboat. It is a house that anyone would identify with anything on land, but it sits in/on water and is floated with logs and wrapped Styrofoam blocks. I live on the slough side of an island in the Columbia River. Definitely for people who dislike yard work. Our neighborhood is called a moorage, and we operate like condos. We are a gated community and we own the very narrow strip of land along the length of our moorage, but the state owns the water. We own our homes and the docks. [See link below to photos of the Floating Home-T]

This is meant to become a series, is it not?

Not Downsized To Death, but yes to Brownstone Burial.

Gulley2

 

“Paulette Palinsky” and “Prudence Peters” are the protagonists in the above-mentioned books. Is there meaning in the alliterations?

All my protags have the initials, PP, as I did when I moved to NYC.

After Pennsylvania and New York, the other side of the country is what you call home. Oregon is about as far from them as you are going to get and still be in the continuous United States! How did you end up on another ocean?

My husband was still in school when I got pregnant. His mother and sister moved to Oregon, had a huge six-bedroom farmhouse, and they invited us to come. We didn’t like being out on the farm, so we moved into Portland and stayed.

You have traveled extensively. Will any of the many locales show up in your stories?

No, doubtful. I know when you see books about travel people it seems obvious that the book will be about travel destinations and people traveling and enjoying the sights. Of course, as a mystery lover, they want some murder thrown in. NO, my books are about the working people who spend their time getting you there, make sure all your documentation is in order and can give you advice and tips about what will make your experience enjoyable and hassle free. YOU should know where you want to go, and I would have advised you accordingly, worked on your itinerary, and sent you happily on your way. Yes, you may expect the agent to be a devoted traveler.

What is the most exotic locale which you have visited? How did you choose your destinations?

My most exotic and thrilling destination was Botswana. I went with a group of my fellow travel agents (all from my company at the time, as we were a world company) and flew with the bush pilots. We stayed at 4 very exclusive camps. From private bathtubs that looked out over an elephant walk, to tents with a toilet bowls that you dropped sand into instead of flushing, showers that were 10 gallon tanks hanging over you, and artwork hanging on the walls to tents with perfectly working bathrooms built along side termite mounds. My roommate and I had a walk through the bush with two armed guards when we refused to do the dugout canoes on hippo and crocodile waters.

Patricia, you are now ‘retired’, but consider yourself a full-time writer. This isn’t the first time that you have dedicated your time to writing, though. You took a hiatus to write before, right?

Yes, but it was very different times and I was trying to break into the Science Fiction short story market. Tough even today.

You are always a delight to see on Facebook. One thing I love seeing is the many imaginative wreaths you post for every occasion and holiday, where do you find them? Do you make wreaths? Do you do anything in the arts or arts and crafts?

I used to be crafty, but no more. I do have a lot of holiday décor, but am ‘downsizing’. I like themes, this year was wreaths, but last year was trees. I do Pinterest and find a lot there.

Thank you so much for being with us, Patricia. Please let everyone know how they can find out more
about you:
www.patgulley.com
You can see pictures of my floating home there.

Facebook:
Author page: https://www.facebook.com/DownsizedToDeath/
Personal page where there is more action:
https://www.facebook.com/patricia.gulley.9
Twitter:
https://twitter.com/PatriciaGulley1
Pinterest:
https://www.pinterest.com/patgulley/

Brownstone Burial
Kindle or Tradepaper www.amzn.to/1BTZ6FY
For Apple, Kobo, B&N, 24 Symbols, Scribd:
https://www.draft2digital.com/book/89357
Downsized To Death
Kindle and Tradepaper:
www.amazon.com/dp/B01CO4E0A0
DTD
https://www.draft2digital.com/book/154302

Thank  you so much for being my guest this month, Patricia Gulley!

Posted in author interview, author's life, authors, Books, careers, characters, experiences, Guest, Guest author, hobbies, inspiration, jobs, memories, Tonette Joyce, Travel, Uncategorized, using talents | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments