Friday, May 10, 2013

Another amazing review...and a new book I think you would enjoy

Before I published The Color of Thunder, I didn't think much about other least writer's I don't usually read. For some reason I had it in my head that there is a big competition out there...or that author's were each on their own fighting to be on top. This, my friends, is not the case, and I'm so glad that it isn't. 

Mind you, I wasn't really sure what it was going to be like to be published. I started The Color of Thunder  way back in the late 90's. I was afraid for a long time, rewriting and editing the same chapters over and over again because I was fearful of actually putting myself out there to be read and judged. Then my husband and I began our family and, although I thought about this unfinished novel a lot, I was immersed in this wonderful thing called motherhood. When I went back to it, really got serious about it, it wasn't that I wasn't afraid any longer, (truthfully, in many ways I still am,) but the time to finish it and to get it published had arrived and I decided that I wasn't going to quit until it was out there.


My experience has been amazing...mind-blowing and wonderful. I have met some incredible authors who I am excited to call my friends. That whole competition thing? Not so much. All of us want to help one another, we want the other to succeed. We email, read each other's novels, post reviews and encourage. It's awesome.

I've already written about an author by the name of RP Dahlke. She writes mysteries and I'd already read and enjoyed all four of her books before we had an occasion to talk to one another. She's writing a fifth book right now and if you like a good mystery with a bit of humor and a great cast of characters, I suggest you check her out here:

There's another author I'd like to encourage you to read as well. Actually, a pair of them. They are a husband and wife writing team, one from New Zealand and one from England, and their pen name is Lambert Nagle. This is the review of The Color of Thunder that I received a few days ago from them.

The Color of Thunder is a beautifully written coming-of-age story told from the viewpoint of Faith, one of three sisters in the Lindsay family. The story begins in 1946 in Jackson, Mississippi. These folks are model citizens: fine, upstanding, and pillars of the community and none is more self-righteous than the Lindsay family patriarch. Or at least this is what Pastor Lindsay would like his family to believe but one night Faith witnesses her father's dirty little secret first-hand, which forces her to confront Pastor Lindsay's warped religious belief system. By day he likes to preach God's word, spouting homilies such as 'love thy neighbour.' But by night, he and his fellow citizens have no qualms in carrying out vigilante acts of unspeakable violence towards their fellow man. And all the while the womenfolk either don't know or worse still, pretend not to know and turn the other cheek.

As a fellow reviewer has noted, there are parallels here with Louisa May Alcott's Little Women here and this is what lifts this story above its peers. To re-imagine the family saga and update it for the 20th century, replacing the Civil War with the Civil Rights movement is astute and brave. In the hands of a lesser writer this might have been difficult to pull off but J.C. Wing does a magnificent job and does so with such accomplished writing that I can't imagine why no agent or publisher has yet seen the commercial potential in her work. More fool them.

I would give this book 5 stars for the characterisations alone. Faith and her sister Hope are living, breathing, three-dimensional characters. Faith is as patient as Hope is feisty and for much of their childhood Faith despairs that her sister will ever grow up. But the bonds of sisterhood are too strong to allow the temporary setbacks to dent their solid friendship, although Hope at times seems to be a very hard person to love. As Faith says,' I love my sister unconditionally and no matter how mean and rotten she'd been to me or how many names she called me, I was there for her and she always knew where to find me.'

The other achievements in this richly evocative tale were the finely observed details that invoke all the senses. You can almost taste the food made by Faith's downtrodden mother - from the peach cobbler to the fried chicken and creamy mashed potatoes. And as I finished the book I imagined I could smell the unmistakable fragrance of magnolia as it was just beginning to fade...
But the lingering memory I will have of The Color of Thunder is the advice that Faith's friend Ruby gave her as a lasting legacy - 'grab all the sweet you can in this life.'

Move over Jane Smiley, J.C. Wing has arrived!

Right now I am in the process of reading Lambert Nagle's book Revolution Earth and I am enjoying it immensely. It takes place in four different continents and is written in a rich, colorful and engaging language that is so entirely entertaining. It's a thriller involving a Metropolitan Police Detective, a Big Oil PR guru, a group of eco-terrorists and one determined girl suffering from the injustices of a seemingly uncaring legal system. I will save the rest of my narrative for the glowing review of this book that I plan to post shortly but I will say this: Read this will not be disappointed!

Check out this link to read more about this writing team and to purchase Revolution Earth
It's available from amazon in paperback for $8.97. The Kindle version is only $2.99. 

Summer time is nearly upon us and a lot of us will be traveling. You need a book to read on the bus/train/plane/boat. This one would be an excellent one to have on hand.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

a little something about spring

I belong to a writing group set up by an awesome librarian and friend of mine by the name of Holly. She runs the library on the Vogelweh base and back in February she asked me to join.  It's called the Writer's Emporium and I wasn't exactly sure what to expect from the experience but was very happy I chose to attend the first meeting. I was newly published and very excited to go and talk about my new book and share with the group the things I'd learned from self publishing.

We decided that our first writing assignment would be about the month of March. A lot of things happen for me in's kind of a big month for me, but I chose to take a fanciful path with this prompt. I thought I'd share it here. Hooray for spring! I'd love to hear your comments. Please leave one for me if you're so inclined. 


           The young woman’s arm, outstretched and hanging over the shining metal of the car in which she rode bucked gently in the wind, her fingers pressed together in a mock salute and her hand riding the air currents rushing past the open window. Clouds were forming in the sky looking like swollen dirty cotton balls as they rolled in and began spitting cold rain that dotted the pale protruding limb. The only color she could see was the shiny, bright, neon pink polish she’d picked up on sale a few days ago at the mall that covered her short oval nails like enthusiastic little flags moving in the chilly wind. March comes in like a lion so the old saying goes, and that was the truth of it. What used to be the first month of the year many years ago in Rome was arriving quickly on the coat tails of winter, full of boisterous bluster much like the growling and grumbling in the back of a big cat’s throat.
Brown eyes raised upward and squinted against the oncoming rain to watch the clouds that now looked like thick plumes of smoke rising from the ruins of a city demolished in heated dusty battle. From within the amorphous swirls of darkening silver and gray, the girl almost believed she could see the figure of a man, tall and broad shouldered carrying a spear in one meaty fist, the weapon wrapped in a thick vine of laurel. Mars, the Roman god of war looked to be treading upon an unstable ground of moving gray with a pair of large bare feet and hairy unclothed legs beneath a skirt that looked surprisingly masculine while motioning time itself to move forward with a wave of his powerful arm. The thirty-one days of this unpredictable month boasted the name of this esteemed mythological deity who was said to have used his military power to secure peace, and each minute ticked by like an attentive and patient soldier in his army as the rain continued to fall and slowly obliterate from view the swirling clouds that moved above the speeding car.
With a turn of the head and a pair of raised eyebrows from the front passenger seat the girl acquiesced to the silent maternal request, first tossing a temperamental roll of her eyes before moving her wet arm into the warmth of the vehicle as the window whirred silently upward and locked itself into the frame. Almost instantly the glass was covered in a countless array of dots of cool rain, each one a round wet orb that splintered and multiplied her view of the outside world. If there had been a question of the god of war’s existence just moments before it was all but obliterated now as the sleek lines of the car moved quickly above wet pavement, throwing up a pair of plumes the color of ice behind the rear tires. The clouds above continued to move and churn as the chill in the interior of the car was chased away by the warm air spewing from the vents in the dash board. The change in temperature and the weather stubbornly limited her view and encouraged the teen to relax in her seat, her blond head pressed against the soft pliable leather as the film of limitless road and soft-edged scenery rushed past in a watery colorless blur.
Like the rhythmic beat of the windshield wipers that cleared the driver’s view in the front seat, the words in the ten syllable pattern of Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter telling the tale of Julius Ceasar marched silently into her memory. She thought of her English class situated teasingly before the forty minutes of freedom that was lunch period and the steady, not completely unpleasant drone of her teacher’s voice as he recited the dying words of the Roman dictator uttered while he is being brutally murdered by a pack of conspirators at the Senate. “Et tu, Brute?” the dying man whispers as he falls dead upon the ground on the ill-fated day now remembered as the Ides of March. As the girl slowly drifts to sleep, a thoughtful smile plays along the line of her lips. A soothsayer’s warning and a wife’s premonition be damned. Sometimes it just doesn’t pay to be stubborn. Behind her now closed eyes she sees a vision before her; one of many a teen girl’s dreams in the shape of a handsome hulking vampire with a very unsexy moniker that hardly matches the body seen beneath the Calvin Klein underwear campaign he modelled for. The fifteenth day of March hadn’t been lucky for old Ceasar, she thought, but that was way back in 44 BC. It was so hard to mourn the death of someone she never even knew when more than 2,000 years later God saw fit to bring Kellan Lutz into the world on that very same day. Her smile widened just for a moment with the thought that the Ides of March was not entirely bad before she allowed the thump of the wipers and the movement of the car to lull her into the land of dreams.
It felt as though winter had shown up, liked the surroundings and settled itself for an interminable amount of time with its sharp claws imbedded firmly into the very fabric of the young woman’s being. The grayness and bitter temperatures seemed more like permanent residents instead of seasonal visitors and the twitch beneath her skin that felt like spring time had grown into an uncontrollable itch that no amount of scratching could diminish. She was no snow bunny and the bleak white canvas filled with nothing but shadows of screeching, dark winged birds and tall scraggly arms of bare trees reaching eerily up into the dense milky sky had her inner beach bum screaming to be heard. The girl longed for March’s lions, their eyes dark green with spots of red the color of bloodstones to stalk across the sky on big padded paws and pull from behind their muscled backs the wide warm banners of crisp aquamarine like bright Mardi Gras flags brightening up the sky to usher in the first day of spring. Nothing could bring out the drama queen in this sun worshipping girl more than winter’s never ending cold and snow, and no doubt the Old Bard himself would have happily awarded her over enthusiastic mental rumblings a well-deserved round of applause.
She barely heard the noise at first, so immersed in her silent diatribe against the bleakness of the first two months of the year that it took her mind a handful of minutes to register the tapping somewhere near the vicinity of her right elbow. She slit one eye open and focused on the culprit; one small and rather dirty troll strapped tightly into a heavy duty car seat next to her. There were square shaped books with hard unbendable pages and a cup with a supposedly spill proof lid leaking a suspicious honey colored liquid that smelled like sweet white grapes lying across a pair of rather chubby denim-clad legs. On the ends of those legs were two kicking feet keeping time with the almost lyrical gibberish flowing out of the toddler’s graham cracker encrusted mouth, and hair several shades darker than his older sister’s stuck out at wild angles giving him the look of a very young but energetic rock star. The girl wanted to be annoyed by the interruption of her nap but upon resting her eyes on her baby brother’s chubby pink tinted cheeks she found herself smiling at him instead. Okay, he wasn’t a troll she silently conceded. A pixie, maybe, or perhaps a leprechaun. Yes, she thought with a nod of her head, that’s what he is. He’s a leprechaun though cuter than most she’d seen depicted in books or movies but still as short and unruly. The stripes in his long sleeved shirt were the bright green color of the three-leaved shamrocks that St. Patrick used to teach the Trinity to the pagan Irish. The little imp grinned as he twisted in his chair to look at his sister and the smile on her face widened in return. The only rainbow he was liable to lead her to was perhaps a pilfered package of Skittles candy broken open and spilled on the floor, or a bright array of building blocks that hurt the tender insteps of her feet when she tried to traverse the messy landscape of the child’s room in the dark.
She reached for the upended cup and felt the stickiness of the juice coat the pads of her fingers. Score another point for false advertising, she thought. The lid was definitely not spill proof but who in the world would notice after looking at the mess her brother had become since he’d climbed into the car seat more than an hour before?
“Be like the Irish, little man,” she said quietly handing the cup over to him. The little sprite reached over with a pudgy hand and took it from her exchanging the juice for a wide gap-toothed smile. “Drink up.” When he wrapped his lips around the spout and took a pull from it the girl laughed. With that diaper of his bowing his short little legs he walked a bit like a drunkard much like any other toddler she’d ever seen, and without a nap he was nearly as surly and cantankerous as a few of the drunks she’d encountered.
With a shake of her head she turned and peered out of her window once more to find that the thick veil of clouds had begun to part. The rain was still spitting at her window but with much less intensity and the drone of the windshield wipers had slowed to a sluggish beat. She had to squint to see it but she was sure that the tiny little triangle of sky she saw behind the gray curtain was actually blue. Her eyes held fast to it as if they were daring it to change but she remained hopeful that it wouldn’t. It was the pale soft color of a robin’s egg nestled in a nest and the shell grew a little bit bigger as she focused on it, the cars and highway signs a blur in her peripheral vision.
Gradually the rain let up altogether and what remained was a world left shiny and clean if not still a bit chilled by the cool air. It looked reborn, almost fragile in its new state and as the clouds loosened the threads of their fabric and the weave became looser and looser, more of the pale blue sky was revealed. The girl silently coaxed the sun out of its den like she would a baby bird out of its shell. “Come on out,” she thought, the voice in her head gentle and soothing. “Come out and meet this cold winter world that needs your heat and light.” As if it had actually been listening to her the soft rays of sun peeked through, rays as warm and soft as thick creamy butter burned off more of the clouds and ever so faintly there appeared to be the smallest hint of a rainbow, the streams barely creating the merest suggestion of pastel colors reflected in the moisture that still hung in the air.
The car slowed and veered right off of the highway and the quiet clicking sound of the blinker faintly filled the warm air. Smoothly the girl’s father turned left and the scenery from the other side of the window moved but not on high speed as before. The girl caught glimpses of shiny rain washed windows glinting in the increasingly courageous rays of the sun above and the bare limbs of the trees were showing small tightly folded buds dotted along the wooden sleeves like little decorative buttons. Dirt as dark as coal filled planters and roadside gardens, the brave thick stalks pushing up through it the color of emeralds and sporting long wrapped hats the shade of downy feathers on a newly hatched chick.
A smile floated across the teen’s glossy lips once more as she peered up and watched the movement of the clouds, their shape rounded and snowy white now and moving across the sky like a herd of lazily grazing sheep. These were March’s lambs quietly following the thunderous noise of the lions and she decided she liked them just fine. Yes, she liked them very much indeed.