Sunday, November 30, 2014

Your Sunday Book Reviews, Continued!

Hello Once Again to my Faithful Thirteen Followers! (and hopefully more of you who will soon sign up to follow my blog!)

It's Sunday, and that means, yep, more book reviews. Well, five more, at any rate. So, once again, here are five more books that I've read in 2014 that have won the full 5 stars from me, the dear and gentle reader. If you read any of my recommendations based on this blog, I would love to hear from you!

Happy Sunday, and enjoy! (All synopses borrowed with gratitude from Goodreads.)

1.  (Historical Fiction/Romance) My Lady of Cleves: A Novel of Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves (Harlequin Romance # 169) by Maragaret Campbell Barnes

Written by world-renowned historical novelist Margaret Campbell Barnes, My Lady of Cleves gives readers an intimate portrait of the warm, unpretentious princess who never expected to become Queen of England. Knowing the king's ravenous desire for a son, and aware of the disastrous consequences of not bearing an heir, Anne of Cleves bravely took on the duty of weathering the Tudor King's temper, whims, arrogance, and irresponsible passions--and won the hearts of his subjects in the process. A treat for readers of Tudor fiction and those fascinated by the complex relationships of Henry VIII and his wives, My Lady of Cleves leads readers into a world of high drama and courtly elegance.

(Linda's Note:  As I began to read this novel about Anne of Cleves, the fourth wife of Henry VIII, I wasn't sure I'd like it, as the "fictional" part took quite a stretch from what I've read in various biographies on Henry VIII. But I reminded myself that heck, The Tudors mini-series used many inconsistencies with the truth, and I loved it anyhow, so I continued on with the novel. I'm glad I did. The best compliment I can give an author is to read a line they wrote, sigh and wish I had written it. There were several instances in this novel where I felt that way. The story about Anne, who had the fortuitous misfortune (she outlived all of Henry's other wives) of Henry's dislike, is riveting start to finish, albeit the fictitious possible romance between her and painter, Hans Holbein, a reference  to Henry sleeping with Anne after the divorce, and oh yes, a flirtation between Anne and Thomas Seymour. Still, if you're a fan of historical fiction, especially the Tudor period, this is a don't miss!)

2.   (Non-Fiction) The Three Faces of Eve by Corbett H. Thigpen and Hervey M. Cleckley

The Goodread's synopsis was in German, so I'll skip posting that and just give a brief overview of the book in my notes below. Thank you.

(Linda's Note: This book is the factual account of the authors' treatment of Chris Costner-Sizemore, a woman with Multiple Personality Disorder and upon which the movie "The Three Faces of Eve" was based.

After watching "The The Three Faces of Eve", and realizing it was based on a true incident, I had to read the book. I was not disappointed by either movie or book. Actually the movie did the best it could given the time frame it had, but I was completely mesmerized by the book and the account of  Chris Costner-Sizemore (referred to in the book as Eve White), a woman with three personalities. Written by her psychiatrists, we follow Eve's journey as she presents as a troubled and meek housewife, yet, over time, reveals her other personalities in the forms of lively Eve Black and mild-mannered, Jane. The book explains in detail how the doctors got to know each personality, each "woman's" troubles and quirks, and how, through patience, diligence and understanding, helped integrate them back into one person. Although not as horribly traumatic as the Sybil story we've read, Eve White's plight to help her selves become whole again is a fascinating read and one I could not put down.)

3.  (Non-Fiction) Kitchen Privileges: A Memoir by Mark Higgins Clark 


In her long-awaited memoir, Mary Higgins Clark, America's beloved and bestselling Queen of Suspense, recounts the early experiences that shaped her as a person and influenced her as a writer.Even as a young girl, growing up in the Bronx, Mary Higgins Clark knew she wanted to be a writer. The gift of storytelling was a part of her Irish ancestry, so it followed naturally that she would later use her sharp eye, keen intelligence, and inquisitive nature to create stories about the people and things she observed. Determined to care for her family and to make a career for herself, she went to work writing scripts for a radio show, but in her spare time she began writing novels. Her first, a biographical novel about the life of George Washington titled "Aspire to the Heavens," found a publisher but disappeared without a trace when the publisher folded. (Recently it was rediscovered by a descendant of the Washington family and was reissued under the title "Mount Vernon Love Story.)" The experience, however, gave her the background and the preparation for writing "Where Are the Children?" which went on to become an international bestseller. That novel launched her career and was the first of twenty-seven (and still counting!) bestselling books of suspense.As Mary Higgins Clark has said when asked if she might consider giving up writing for a life of leisure, "Never! To be happy for a year, win the lottery. To be happy for life, love what you do." In "Kitchen Privileges," she reflects on the joy that her life as a writer has brought her, and shares with readers the love that she has found.
(Linda's Note: I would like to thank my friend, Jennifer Das, for recommending this memoir to me! Mary Higgins Clark not only writes great suspense novels, but a highly entertaining memoir as well. Starting from humble beginnings and rising to the famous novelist she became, I enjoyed reading how her life and writing career progressed. You'll laugh, you'll cry...give this book a try.)
4.  (Non-Fiction) The Invisible Woman by Claire Tomalin
Now a major motion picture directed by Ralph Fiennes, co-starring Fiennes and Felicity Jones with Michelle Fairley, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Tom Hollander: the unforgettable story of Charles Dickens's mistress Nelly Ternan, and of the secret relationship that linked them. When Charles Dickens and Nelly Ternan met in 1857, she was 18: a professional actress performing in his production of The Frozen Deep. He was 45: a literary legend, a national treasure, married with ten children. This meeting sparked a love affair that lasted over a decade, destroying Dickens's marriage and ending with Nelly's near-disappearance from the public record. In this remarkable work of biography, Claire Tomalin rescues Nelly from obscurity, not only returning the neglected actress to her rightful place in history, but also giving us a compelling and truthful account of the great Victorian novelist. Through Dickens's diaries, correspondence, address books, and photographs, Tomalin is able to reconstruct the relationship between Charles and Nelly, bringing it to vivid life. The result is a riveting literary detective story—and a portrait of a singular woman.
(Linda's Note:  I saw the movie "The Invisible Woman" first, and it really intrigued me into this true, but debated issue, that, for many years, Charles Dickens had a mistress whom he kept hidden away. This account goes into much more detail than the movie could, and I found it an amazing look into the societal morals and thinking of Victorian England in the 1800's. Actresses were akin to prostitutes, and so when Dickens fell in love with one, he divorced his wife (in a most ugly fashion) and kept his mistress hidden in homes in England and France and supported her mother and sisters for their silence, thus remaining the respected and honored author. Equally fascinating, was that after he died, his mistress, Nelly Ternan, was able to completely reinvent herself to live the life she then wanted, while still keeping her secret identity. I was completely absorbed in this book, and now want to see the movie again. Fascinating account.)  
5.  (Fiction) The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling
When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils ... Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

(Linda's Note:  I have yet to read a Harry Potter book. That said, should J.K. Rowling continue her journey into writing adult novels, consider me a fan. "The Casual Vacancy" had me hooked from the start, although at the beginning, I almost needed a spreadsheet to keep all the various characters straight. Once I got a bit further into the book, however, each character became so well-defined, each with his or her own goals, that they came alive on the page. I very much enjoyed this novel; it's a page-turner, but be warned...it's dark. It's not a happy story, but I became deeply engrossed, none-the-less. The ending fell a bit short for some of the characters, but perhaps this might be the set-up for a sequel? If so, I'd be first in line to buy it.)

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That's it for this time, friends. See you next week! Happy Belated Thanksgiving to you all!



 

 

Monday, November 24, 2014

More Five Star Book Reviews

Hey Friends!

I meant to get this blog out yesterday, but you know how life goes sometimes. The best intentions...and all that. So, without further ado, here are another five books that I gave the highest ratings to in the past year! Again, feel free to comment if you've read them and if you agree with my choices, or respectfully disagree. I'd love to hear from you!  Again, all synopses are borrowed from Goodreads, with my personal comments following after. Enjoy!

1.  (Historical Fiction) The Forgotten Queen by D.L. BogdanMarried by proxy to James IV, Margaret Tudor, the daughter of Henry VII, becomes the Queen of Scotland and, after a tragic loss, falls victim to the attentions of the ambitious Earl of Angus.  (Linda's Note:  I hadn't read anything by this author before, but will certainly again.  I hadn't read much on Margaret either, and this novel paints her as neither saint nor sinner, providing a highly entertaining glimpse into the turbulent, and often tragic, life she must have led. And now, of course, I want to read more about Margaret, a compliment to this novel's author!)

2.  (Non-Fiction)  Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail by Cheryl Strayed:  A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again. At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone. (Linda's Note:  This is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE books read so far in 2014. I didn't even expect to like it, as I thought it would be all about hiking, but it's not. It's so much more. It's also about a woman's emotional journey through grief to healing. Whether hiking interests you or not, this is still a must-read. Put it on your "To Be Read" list now. 

3.  (Fiction-Mystery)  So Pretty It Hurts (Bailey Weggins Mystery #6) by Kate White: 
Bailey Weggins, the Manhattan-based thirtysomething true-crime journalist, is in a good place. She's enjoying her regular gig at Buzz, a leading celebrity magazine, getting freelance work, and hoping her first book will garner attention. In the love department, she's finally back in the game with her recently-turned-exclusive boyfriend, Beau Regan. When Beau heads out of town one early December weekend, Bailey accepts an invitation from her office friend Jessie to a music mogul's house in the country, hoping for a fun, relaxing getaway. But a weird tension settles over the houseguests--a glamorous crowd that includes the famously thin supermodel Devon Barr. An impending snowstorm only adds to the unease. So when Devon's lifeless body is found in her bed, Bailey immediately suspects foul play: she can't stop thinking of the day before, when a frightened Devon shivered in the woods and pleaded, "I have to get out of here. . . . It's not safe for me." When Bailey starts to nose around, she finds herself a moving target--running closer to the truth and straight into danger. (Linda's Note: This is the last novel (so far anyway, I have hopes for more!) in the Bailey Weggins murder mystery series by author, Kate White. I've read all of them, and once again, I enjoyed this novel even better than the last. I've also enjoyed Ms. White's single title "The Sixes" and look forward to reading her latest novel, "Hush". If light mysteries are on your reading radar, you must give this series a try. Finishing this last novel feels like I'm saying good-bye to an old friend, and that speaks volumes, as mysteries are not usually a genre I read.)

4.  (Historical Fiction)  To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn (Ladies in Waiting #1) by Sandra Byrd: Meg Wyatt has been Anne Boleyn's closest friend since they grew up together on neighboring manors in Kent. So when twenty-five-year-old Anne's star begins to ascend, of course she takes Meg along for the ride.Life in the court of Henry VIII is thrilling... at first. Meg is made mistress of Anne's wardrobe, and she enjoys the spoils of this privileged orbit and uses her influence for good. She is young and beautiful and in favor; everyone at court assumes that being close to her is being close to Anne.But favor is fickle and envy is often laced with venom. As Anne falls, so does Meg, and it becomes nearly impossible for her to discern ally from enemy. Suddenly life's unwelcome surprises rub against the court's sheen to reveal the tarnished brass of false affections and the bona fide gold of those that are true. Both Anne and Meg may lose everything. When your best friend is married to fearsome Henry VIII, you may soon find yourself not only friendless but headless as well. (Linda's Note: One of the best historical fiction novels I've read. Told from the point-of-view of the fictional Meg Wyatt, we are given a first hand look into the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn. Meg is a childhood friend of Anne's, and follows her to court to become one of her ladies. The writing is spot-on, the voice engaging and the pacing perfect. I also liked how the author didn't paint Anne Boleyn as either sinner or saint, which in my mind was the correct way to go. An excellent and enjoyable read.) 

5.  (Historical Fiction) The Other Queen (The Tudor Court #6) by Philippa Gregory:  
This dazzling novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory presents a new and unique view of one of history's most intriguing, romantic, and maddening heroines. Biographers often neglect the captive years of Mary, Queen of Scots, who trusted Queen Elizabeth's promise of sanctuary when she fled from rebels in Scotland and then found herself imprisoned as the "guest" of George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, and his indomitable wife, Bess of Hardwick.The newly married couple welcome the doomed queen into their home, certain that serving as her hosts and jailers will bring them an advantage in the cutthroat world of the Elizabethan court. To their horror, they find that the task will bankrupt them, and as their home becomes the epicenter of intrigue and rebellion against Elizabeth, their loyalty to each other and to their sovereign comes into question. If Mary succeeds in seducing the earl into her own web of treachery and treason, or if the great spymaster William Cecil links them to the growing conspiracy to free Mary from her illegal imprisonment, they will all face the headsman. (Linda's Note: Philippa Gregory can do no wrong when she writes of the Tudors. This novel just proves it again. I could not put it down. Highly recommended!)
 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Book Reviews!

Hello Friends:

Believe it or not, I haven't blogged since March of this year (2014). Mostly, I just didn't feel like I had anything entertaining to say. But now I do. Or, at least, I hope I do!

I love to read and always have. I taught myself to read at the age of four, which, back in 1962, was a BIG DEAL, but today, let's face it, kids are coming out of the womb knowing how to read. 

I realized, as I recently perused my Goodreads lists, that I have read some FANTASTIC novels over the years, and decided that I might use my blog informatively to share these discovered gems with you, in hope that you might also find a novel or two from my picks that you will enjoy. I read a lot of everything with a few exceptions, but you will mostly find here fiction, nonfiction, historical fiction and non-fiction, biographies of all sorts, and the classics and contemporary novels.  

So, without further ado, I'll begin to share some of the more recent reads I've enjoyed. I will limit each blog to about five novels (non-genre specific) so as not to overwhelm.  I would love to hear from you if you read, or have read, these novels, and perhaps we can start our own little blog book group!  At some point later,  I'll also talk about some books I didn't care for, but for now, let's just stick with the positive!

These first five books I read throughout 2014 and have awarded five out of five stars on Goodreads. (Narratives of books are also lifted from Goodreads; my personal comments follow.)


1.  (Fiction) "The Husband's Secret" by Liane Moriarty - Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .
Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.


2. (Fiction)  "The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike #1)" by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)  -
After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.
(A note from Linda:  I haven't read any of Ms. Rowling's Harry Potter books, but have read both "adult contemporary" books she's written. Consider me a fan!)

3.  (Non-Fiction) "Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief" by Lawrence Wright -
We learn about Scientology's esoteric cosmology; about the auditing process that determines an inductee's state of being; about the Bridge to Total Freedom, through which members gain eternal life. We see the ways in which the church pursues celebrities, such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta, and how young idealists who joined the Sea Org, the church's clergy, whose members often enter as children, signing up with a billion-year contract and working with little pay in poor conditions. We meet men and women "disconnected" from friends and family by the church's policy of shunning critical voices. And we discover, through many firsthand stories, the violence that has long permeated the inner sanctum of the church.In Going Clear, Wright examines what fundamentally makes a religion a religion, and whether Scientology is, in fact, deserving of the constitutional protections achieved in its victory over the IRS. Employing all his exceptional journalistic skills of observations, understanding, and synthesis, and his ability to shape a story into a compelling narrative, Lawrence Wright has given us an evenhanded yet keenly incisive book that goes far beyond an immediate exposé and uncovers the very essence of what makes Scientology the institution it is.
(A note from Linda:  If you're even flirting with the idea of giving Scientology a try, this book will scare you straight out of that idea and most likely with good reason.)

4. (Historical Fiction): "Queen's Gambit" by Elizabeth Freemantle -
 Widowed for the second time at age thirty-one Katherine Parr falls deeply for the dashing courtier Thomas Seymour and hopes at last to marry for love. However, obliged to return to court, she attracts the attentions of the ailing, egotistical, and dangerously powerful Henry VIII, who dispatches his love rival, Seymour, to the Continent. No one is in a position to refuse a royal proposal so, haunted by the fates of his previous wives' two executions, two annulments, one death in childbirth, Katherine must wed Henry and become his sixth queen. Katherine has to employ all her instincts to navigate the treachery of the court, drawing a tight circle of women around her, including her stepdaughter, Meg, traumatized by events from their past that are shrouded in secrecy, and their loyal servant Dot, who knows and sees more than she understands. With the Catholic faction on the rise once more, reformers being burned for heresy, and those close to the king vying for position, Katherine's survival seems unlikely. Yet as she treads the razor's edge of court intrigue, she never quite gives up on love.

5.  (Non-Fiction) "Wave" by Sonali Deraniyagala -
On the morning of December 26, 2004, on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, Sonali Deraniyagala lost her parents, her husband, and her two young sons in the tsunami she miraculously survived. In this brave and searingly frank memoir, she describes those first horrifying moments and her long journey since. She has written an engrossing, unsentimental, beautifully poised account: as she struggles through the first months following the tragedy, furiously clenched against a reality that she cannot face and cannot deny; and then, over the ensuing years, as she emerges reluctantly, slowly allowing her memory to take her back through the rich and joyous life she’s mourning, from her family’s home in London, to the birth of her children, to the year she met her English husband at Cambridge, to her childhood in Colombo; all the while learning the difficult balance between the almost unbearable reminders of her loss and the need to keep her family, somehow, still alive within her.
(A note from Linda: This was one of the most heartbreaking but bravest books written that I've ever read. I  wish Ms. Deranivagala many blessings in her future.)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Hi Friends!

Every once in a while, I like to feature a fellow author on my blog because there's some dang good writing going on out there in the self-publishing world, and I think you need to know about it!

I'm proud to have had the opportunity to interview Sarah J. Bradley, who not only is an author in her own right, but my critique partner as well. Despite holding down a full-time job, being a wife, mother and the owner of numerous pets, Sarah is an amazing and talented writer, who, recently released  three novels and a short contemporary romance! How does she do it, you may ask?  Well, let's find out!

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1.  Sarah, you are a publishing maniac lately. Hot off writing "Fresh Ice" you released a short story "Love is Elementary: A Rock Harbor Short Romance" and two non-fiction comedic novels called "Not While I'm Chewing" and "Elsie W: Unsafe at Any Speed". Tell us a little about each!
2013 was a crazy year for writing.  I released "Fresh Ice" in December of 2012 and then released the Elsie books and the novella and then I got really good start on a new novel.  I'm exhausted!  :) 
"Love is Elementary" is the first of four novellas based on my novel "Lies in Chance."  For the longest time I've had these four stories, how the four couples from Lies wind up together before Lies begins, in my head.  "Elementary" is the first, it's Drew and Joanna's story.  They are by far the least dysfunctional of the couples, so theirs is the one readers of "Lies" will recognize as a stand alone story. The other three, Molly and Robert, Bryan and Jennifer, and Shara and Richard...those are a bit more challenging because I have to stay true to their stories in "Lies" but I still want to give the reader a clear idea of how each couple fell in love.
 The Elsie books, "Not While I'm Chewing" and "Unsafe at Any Speed" are under the name Sarah Jayne Brewster. Those are non fictional humor stories  (trust me, it's all true) about a woman I worked with in 2011.  Sad, but true, and you can laugh at my expense. Those are the perfect books for anyone who has ever had a disaster coworker in an office or other work setting.

2.  Having dabbled now in both romance and non-fiction comedy, do you have a preference as to which you'd rather write?
Non Fiction comedy comes easy to me.  I just talk about my day, my life, something from my childhood and for some reason people think I'm hilarious.  I've even started speaking engagements, if you can believe that!  One of the women at my church thinks I'm so funny, she invited me to speak at the Ladies' Luncheon in April. 
I've never thought of myself as a funny person.  I don't tell jokes. But I do seem to have a skewed view on life that makes even the most innocent, every day thing (I have been very public and detailed about my feelings and experiences in public bathrooms) turn into a source of hilarity.  I enjoy telling stories, but I never think of it as writing.  People tell me to write all this stuff down...and I do, but I never think of it as a writing project.  If you want to see what I mean, check out my blog:  http://itcanonlyhappentosarah.blogspot.com
I prefer writing fiction.  I don't knit or sew, but writing fiction is sort of like that.  You have to string together these lives and this story and when you're done you can't have loose threads or unfinished edges.  Writing romance, especially when there's suspense, is my escape from real life.  I create a world and people, and I go there.  I love it.  I love the whole writing thing, well, except for editing.  I'm not so good at it because when I'm done with a project I'm DONE!  But you can check out my views on writing at my OTHER blog:  http://authorsarahjbradley.blogspot.com

3. With two kids, four cats, and a full-time job, how do you find time to write?
I don't sleep much and I keep my flash drive with me always because you just never know when writing is going to break out.  I'm very much a mood writer.  I write like a demon when I'm in the right mood.  I don't have a set schedule, although Fridays are supposed to be my WRITING day.  Real life does find reasons to get in the way.  Still, I have goals and I work as best I can to meet them.  The kids are pretty independent now and the cats like it when I light candles in the office because then the room is warm.
 
4. What to you makes a compelling novel?
I can put aside a lot of disbelief if I like the characters and the pace of a novel.  It's not that I look for action in everything but I can't spend four pages on the color of the drapes.  I was in a writing group once with a woman who read aloud her 15000 word masterpiece.  We critiqued it.  Three months later, she read it again and asked us if we liked the changes.  None of us had a clue about the changes, honestly it all sounded exactly the same.  She said, "Well, I changed the color of the curtains and the table cloths from blue to aqua."  100% true story.

When I'm reading, I look for all kinds of books.  I don't have a "genre" I read more than any other.  I have a couple favorite authors, and I'll read anything they put out, but mostly I read anything and everything.  I have stopped reading a book that wasn't working for me from time to time.  Doesn't mean it was a bad book, it just wasn't for me.  The only book I'll say was a bad book was "Moby Dick."  I read that six years ago.  Worst book ever.  That's a book that would NEVER get published, as is, today.  Anyone who argues that it's a classic hasn't read the whole thing.  Anything else, a book is like a movie or food.  It's all a matter of taste.
 
5. What pre-planning do you do when you start a book? Or do you just plunge in?
I pretty much plunge in.  I have a good idea of what my hero and heroine look like because I create that much in my head.  I might have a setting.  After that, it's as big a surprise to me as it is to anyone else.  And my books NEVER seem to end the way I intended them to. My characters, especially my heroines, have very strong wills of their own.

6.  What's next for you? Any plans to move into other genres? What genre would you like to attempt and what one wouldn't you try? 

Right now I'm writing "Spark of a Hero" which sort of loosely ties "Fresh Ice" and "Lies in Chance" together.  I've never done any kind of sequel and to do one for two books has been fun.  The story itself will revolve around new characters except for the hero, who is Collier James.  You might remember him as the best friend in "Fresh Ice."  One of my critique partners told me Collier had to have a book.  I agreed, though I had no idea where it was going to go.  Thanks to a song by James Durbin, I got an idea that seems to work.
After that, I'll continue work on the novellas, but I'm really excited to get into inspirational.  I have an idea for a series of books.  Of course I'll be publishing under a different name, so those looking for my slightly spicy romances aren't grieved when they read inspirational mysteries.  But I have a main character in mind and I can't wait to get her stories told.
I doubt I'd be any good at historical.  I love reading historical novels, but the research is brutal.  That said, if I were ever to write full time, I'm sure I'd take a stab at it.  One genre I doubt I'll ever want to write is erotica.  My father reads everything I write...that would just be too much!

7.  What inspires your fiction? (We know who inspired your non-fiction).  

Sometimes I'll be watching TV and I'll think, "That guy would make a great romantic hero."  Or I'll hear a song, like I did for "Spark" and the framework of a story comes together.  I'm very inspired by music, all kinds of music.  I'm also inspired by things that happen around me.  My first novel, "Dream in Color' was born after I'd been to my very first Rick Springfield concert...back in 2000.  (Long after he was a teen idol and way past the age where I should be chasing a teen idol.)  "Fresh Ice" well, I knew I wanted to write something set in Nashville because I LOVE that city. 


8.  What is your writing routine like?
I really don't have a routine, but the closest thing is I have to clear my desk of everything else.  Bills, paperwork. all that has to be gone.  Then I light several candles, turn on the soundtrack I've made for the project, and go to work.  Sometimes I drink coffee, sometimes wine.  Depends on the time of day.

9.  Out of all your novels, which characters have you loved writing the most? Which is your favorite novel?
"Lies in Chance" is my favorite novel and I will love those characters until the day I die.  I started writing that when I was 13.  (So eons ago.)  Writing those characters, Bryan, Drew, Joanna, Shara, and Molly, got me through a lot of problems in high school.  They were my friends,my teachers, everything.  As I got older, they stayed as friends.  Their hurts were my hurts.  Their joys were my joys.  Even though it's in print now, I could go back to the book and rewrite it, giving those characters new adventures.  I think, too, Jennifer Tiel was probably my favorite villain because she was my first.  In some of the original work, Richard was the villain and Jennifer was just his pawn...but as I got older I realized that women made very, very good villains.  Hence, I will have three "Wicked Women" novels by the end of this year.  Jennifer was my first, and I loved writing her.

10 . What do you love to read and who are some of your favorite authors (other than me, LOL).

LOL!  I am a fiend for anything Billie Letts, Andriana Trigiani, or Phillippa Gregory put out.  Joyce Carol Oates is always a win.   If it's historical, especially war novels, I'm in.  Right now I'm obsessing about World War II and the Titanic era.  So your new novel, "To Find You" really fit the bill!
11.  What's next for Sarah Bradley and when we can expect another novel? 
Sarah Bradley needs a nap right now.  :)  I expect "Spark of a Hero" to be out and in everyone's hands by Valentine's Day 2014.  Oh, wait....that's passed?  Okay, I expect "Spark of a Hero" to be out for summer. Just in time for beach vacations.

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You can find Sarah's books at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, Smashwords.com or where ever find e-books and novels are sold! 


   

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Hey Friends!

I'm so excited! "To Find You" went live at Smashwords.com and BarnesandNoble.com today! That means you NOOK owners can now download it, if you like!  Here's the link:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/to-find-you-linda-schmalz/1118326267

Thanks and happy reading!


Monday, January 27, 2014

"To Find You" Excerpt

Hi Friends:

It's been nearly five months since I last posted a blog and I apologize for my slacking. The good news is that I've been busy finishing and publishing my third novel, "To Find You", a historical fiction romance set in 1912.




Below is a very brief synopsis of the story (no spoilers!) and half of the first chapter for your enjoyment. I was inspired to write this novel after watching a documentary on Typhoid Mary, and the question popped into my head...what happened to the immigrant survivors of the Titanic who were coming to America and lost their spouse, the bread winner in the family? How did these people, brand new to America adjust and survive?  While Irish immigrant Brigid O'Brien, the heroine of this novel, was not aboard the Titanic, someone she dearly needed  was...and when he did not return to America, her life changed forever.

So, go grab a cup of your favorite beverage and enjoy this excerpt from "To Find You". I hope it gives you as much pleasure to read as it did for me to write. If interested in the rest of Brigid's journey, links to the novel (print book and e-books) follow. And, as always thanks for following my blog.  And now, without further ado:



Synopsis:


Brigid O’Brien is not in love with David Cavanaugh, but agrees to marry him and move to America to escape an arranged marriage in Ireland.
All hope of a bright future fades, however, when David perishes on the Titanic. With nowhere to turn, Brigid finds work as a kitchen maid in the stately mansion of millionaire Charles Ransom and his wife Eliza. Unfortunately, Charles and Eliza each have their own plans for the new maid.
Thomas Ashton is a medical student, studying in New York. Hearing of the Titanic disaster, and hoping to aid the survivors, he goes to Pier 54, but can’t reach the ship due to the crowds. It is there, however, that he meets the beautiful Irish immigrant, Brigid. Over the next few weeks, Thomas and Brigid become friends, and romance blossoms.
Enter Charles Ransom who decides he’s waited long enough to put his ideas for Brigid into action. When Brigid inexplicably goes missing, Thomas teams up with Eliza Ransom, and together they search for Brigid and a missing child.
Set in the spring and summer of 1912, “To Find You” is a historical fiction novel and a mystery. Most of all, it is the tale of romance between a man and a woman, and a story about the never-ending love between a mother and child.


To Find You

Chapter One



Brigid Mary O’Brien noted the date - April 18th, 1912 - and tried not to cry. Today should have been her wedding to David Cavanaugh. But instead of standing before a New York City justice of the peace, she stood on Pier 54 in the cold and drizzle, while David’s sister, Clara, clenched her arm in a vise-like grip.
Not that Brigid could blame Clara, nor think to ask her to let go, even though she was fairly certain her arm would be bruised within hours. That didn’t matter. None of it did anymore. Not the wedding, not the weather, not even the homesickness in Brigid’s heart for her beloved County Donegal. The only thing that mattered now was seeing David Cavanaugh walk off the Carpathia and home to safety.
Deep in her heart, however, Brigid knew the chances of David surviving the sinking of the Titanic were slim. The latest reports on the ship’s disaster said that only seven hundred people or so had been saved, mostly women and children. Thousands perished in the early morning hours of April 15th when Titanic sank, and Brigid prayed that David was not one of them. But, given the thousands of people on and near the pier, each waiting for a relative or friend as she and Clara did, Brigid knew odds were against them.
“Here they come!” A man a few rows ahead shouted and pointed at the Carpathia now docked against the pier. Brigid lifted her eyes from the rosary she held between her chilled fingers. The gigantic ship stood magnificent, illuminated by the many powder flashes from photographers who perched aboard a trailing tugboat.
Passengers crammed the Carpathia’s deck. Brigid’s heart wrenched as a gangplank lowered and they began to disembark. The crowd strained and stretched in hope of finding a loved one.
Brigid said a silent prayer that David was among the passengers. Beside her, Clara stifled a sob. Brigid patted Clara’s hand, but remained silent, for what words would comfort this woman who most likely lost a brother? She was also afraid that if she tried to help Clara, her own emotion would boil up and erupt, and she might say something to upset Clara further. For, should David be dead, not only would Brigid not marry, but she’d be dependent on Clara’s kindness and generosity to help her adjust to this new country. She did not know a soul here, and she didn’t wish to be a burden, especially if Clara would be grieving. But without David, Brigid would be lost. He was her future. Her past was in County Donegal, to which she certainly could not return. Those bridges had been burned.
Brigid pushed the memories of home far into the recesses of her mind and returned her attention to the Carpathia.
“Those aren’t the Titanic survivors.” A baritone voice startled her from her thoughts. Brigid looked to her left. The voice belonged to a tall man with sun-streaked, light-brown hair, a tailored overcoat and dark bowler hat.
“No, I be supposin’ not,” Brigid answered.
“How do you know?” From somewhere behind Brigid, a woman spoke, her voice choked with accusatory anger and angst.
“They have luggage.” Brigid and the gentleman spoke in unison. They turned sad glances on each other, and their eyes locked. Brigid could not help but be drawn to the compassion the man’s brilliant light blue eyes conveyed. She didn’t even know him, yet his sympathetic expression seemed to say he understood what was in her heart at this moment. She forced her gaze back on the ship.
Brigid watched as more passengers descended. From what she could see, the original Carpathia passengers wore furs or stylish coats like the one David had bought her in England. He had wanted her to look smart when she sailed with Clara on their earlier voyage over on the Olympic. He had given her so much in the brief time she knew him, not only a fancy coat, hat and dresses, but his unwavering love. And she hoped that one day, she’d return that love with her own. In time she’d fall in love with David Cavanaugh and repay him for helping her escape a marriage to a man of her parents’ choice. But perhaps now, it was too late. If David had perished, he did so believing she loved him. She had truly wanted to.
As the last of the original Carpathia passengers left the ship, Brigid felt her toes begin to numb in her new, tight-fitting button shoes. Her stomach growled with hunger.
“Here come the Titanic survivors,” said the man beside her. She nodded in acknowledgement as her throat clenched tight and her eyes welled. Many bedraggled looking women and children, and too few men, left the ship. They carried no luggage and wore makeshift clothing, most likely borrowed from Carpathia’s passengers.
The crowd around Brigid wailed and sobbed as each survivor descended the gangplank. Waiting officers escorted the weary travelers to a nearby building.
“I don’t see David.” Clara spoke softly, her grip on Brigid’s arm loosening.
“I don’t either.” Brigid blinked back tears. She could barely see the faces of the survivors, but it was heartbreakingly easy to discern that none were David. They didn’t fit his height or form. He had been, or was, Brigid corrected herself, unusually tall.
“Where will they go if they have no family here?” asked woman in the crowd.
Brigid wondered the same thing and praised the saints above that she, at least, had Clara.
“Well, if they have no family or friends in America to greet them, The Travelers’ Aid Society of New York, the Women’s Relief Committee and other organizations are on hand to provide clothing and transportation to shelters.” Again, the answer came from the man at her side. She looked at him again.
“How do you know all this?” she asked.
“I’m a medical man.” He offered a kind smile. “Came to the pier to help out, but with this crowd, I can’t get near the building or ship to offer my assistance.” He turned his mesmerizing blue eyes on Brigid, and his voice softened. “Did you have someone on the Titanic?”
She glanced at the Carpathia and found she could not answer. She simply nodded as her tears began to fall, for David’s fate now revealed itself on the ship’s empty deck. The crowd around her thinned; the sounds of their heart wrenching sobs would haunt her forever.
She felt Clara let go of her arm, and Brigid hastily wiped her own tears. She must help Clara now. Whereas she had lost a future, Clara had lost a brother. And, with a most deserved rush of horrendous guilt, Brigid knew Clara’s grief would be the greater.
She turned to offer Clara comfort, but to Brigid’s horror, Clara slumped to a sitting position on the ground, ready to topple over.
“Clara!” Brigid stooped to catch her, but her slight frame could barely manage to keep the taller woman righted. The gentleman at Brigid’s side rushed to help. He knelt beside Clara, held her upright, and gently patted her cheek to keep her from fainting full on.
Brigid knelt beside her as well and rubbed Clara’s arms to keep her warm.
Brigid was relieved to find her friend conscious. “Don’t worry, Clara. I’m here.”
David’s sister, who had treated her with nothing but kindness since they left England, slapped Brigid’s hands away. She glared as if Brigid herself killed David. And when Clara finally spoke, she spewed more malice and hatred than Brigid had ever heard in her twenty-three years.
“Get your filthy hands off me, you money-grubbing Irish whore!”
  ***************************************************************************

To Find You: Available in e-book form at:

Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00I20AR8A
Smashwords.com: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/399264

Print book available at Amazon.com: http://amzn.com/1494985624

Not available for the Nook yet, but stay tuned!
  

Friday, September 13, 2013

Finding Inspiration Whether You Wanted To Or Not

Hi Friends!

It's been a very long time since I've blogged, but frankly, I didn't feel as if I've had anything entertaining to blog about. I have been very busy, however, writing my next novel, "To Find You", which is a historical romantic suspense set in the spring and summer of 1912. I hope to publish it by the end of the year, so hang in there! Meanwhile feel free to check out my other books at Amazon.com

Okay, my intention was not to shamelessly plug my books. I do actually have some writing words of wisdom to share. I have a cute and true story about finding writing inspiration, even when the last thing you think you're going to do is sit your butt down in your chair and write.

Yesterday I was feeling rather ill. Went to an appointment and came back with absolutely no energy, which was odd for me. But, I had the entire day to write if I chose! The husband was at work, my brother was not here, the boy was at school and no furthur pressing appointments loomed. But I could not get off the bed. Add to that, I've been feeling rather bored with my novel, and I only have about three chapters left to write. Now, don't get me wrong, I think it's a marvelous story! I'm just to the point where I'm sick of working on it. Mostly, I'm tired of researching everything and anything about the year 1912. Yep, it was a total blast when I started, but now, by Chapter 31, the bloom has left the rose. I was also tired of describing things...the way someone dressed, the way a living room looked, the kind of motorcar they drove, what a doorbell looked like, you get the idea. And writing description is the hardest part of writing for me. I just wasn't feeling the love for the writing (I still loved the novel) anymore. Plus, I felt as if my 1912 characters sounded more like contestants on "The Bachelor."

So. Feeling physically sick, mentally drained and inspirationly (<-not a real word)  blocked. I decided since I couldn't get off the bed and I couldn't fall asleep, I would watch a movie (something I never allow myself to do in the day). I had one movie here from Netflix..."Somewhere in Time". Now, someone recommended this to me as a fantastic romance. I had never seen it, and had no idea what it was about, other than it was a time-travel romance.  So, I popped it in the DVD player.

Imagine my surprise when the character played by the very young Chris Reeves, travels back to...yep, you guessed it (or maybe you knew it) ...June of 1912. It was like someone calling to me..."Too bad you don't want to write your novel, here's a little incentive!".  I quickly regained a bit of energy, ran to my office, grabbed pen and paper and started taking notes on dress, speech, mannerisms, room decor, etc.  By the time the movie finished (and I was sorely disappointed with it), I had regained my writing mojo and had the descriptive tools I needed to strengthen my writing and my novel!

So what does this all mean? I have no flippin' clue. LOL. I just know that I needed some downtime, and I need to finish the book. Sometimes you just have to take care of yourself first and have faith that the rest will fall in place.

So, dear writerly friends, write as much as you can, when you can. Please take care of yourselves too. Take time to stop and smell the roses...just don't ask me to describe them without seeing the movie first.