Thursday, 28 October 2010

Family Complexity: A Book Review of The House

My Review of  The House by Anjuelle Floyd:


The House by Anjuelle Floyd is an intricate book that deals with the myriad emotions that come with family. It spirals through complicated relationships as they display across the pages in the wake of a tragedy.

Anna is trying to divorce her husband, Edward, but he is fighting her over the disposition of their house. When he suddenly capitulates on everything, she discovers he is dying of cancer. This revelation comes as a shock and she halts the divorce and moves him back into their house. With this decision, Anna must face her buried feelings, her past and decide her future.

The House is a well-written novel with vibrant characters. The book deals at its heart with the most basic of subjects: family relationships. The complex interaction between the characters as they confront their history and the death that surrounds them is what keeps you reading. I can’t say I always liked the characters, or agreed with their choices, but that’s what made them compelling; they felt real and that is where the true strength of the novel lies.

The book isn’t perfect, however. Its weak points fall in the plotline, which sometimes stretches itself a bit thin, especially toward the end. I felt there may have been a few too many convenient happenstances used; it felt, to me, as a bit unnecessary and sliding to improbable.

Still, overall The House is captivating, and I can recommend the novel as a satisfying read.


You find more on The House here:  http://www.anjuellefloyd.com/books/the-house/

or check it out at Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9535419-the-house

Ms. Floyd's website:  http://www.anjuellefloyd.com/

Just a note:  I received a free copy of this book for review.


Another of Ms. Floyd's books:
Keeper of Secrets: Translations of an Incident

Thursday, 14 October 2010

An Interview with Brenda Youngerman

Today we have a guest, author Brenda Youngerman, who writes "fiction with a purpose".  She has graciously granted an interview where she discusses her books and her writing process...


Interview with Brenda Youngerman:


1. Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

I am the youngest member in a very large family and always felt like I was on the outside looking. To make matters worse my parents got divorced when I was nine, in 1969 before many people were getting divorced so I was again the odd man out. I found myself observing more than participating. I didn’t really find my own voice until my writing was published. I have always had the ability to empathize, constantly harboring strays, even if it meant less for me. Writing comes naturally to me and I have been writing since High School. When my first novel came out, Private Scars, I tackled the very difficult subject of domestic abuse and I wrote it from the victim’s point of view. From then on I have written what I call “Fiction With a Purpose”. My novels deal with social issues that I feel need attention. I try to bring my readers along for the ride from the character’s point of view and if at the end of the book the reader puts it down and asks, “Was that real?” I know I did a good job!
I truly believe that ONE person can make a difference and that all things happen for a reason. We are all here for a purpose and I truly hope that the tales I weave are entertaining as well as informative and that the readers garner some sort of hope.
I have always lived in Southern California and I love walking on the beach with my dog and watch the pelicans.
I have 5 published novels: Private Scars, Public Lies, Hidden Truths, Sorrowed Souls and Restored Hope

2. How long have you been writing? Did you always desire to make it your line of work?

I actually started writing when I was in high school with short stories and poetry. I have kept a journal for as long as I can remember. Actually excerpts from my college journals are in Private Scars.
I only wish I could make writing my full time line of work. I actually have a full time job and write in the evenings and on weekends. And I only discovered this ‘love’ after my children were in high school and no longer needed me on a daily basis. And now I cannot imagine my life without it.

3. Can you tell us about your latest book?

Restored Hope is such a wonderful love story – buried inside a world of tragedy and sorrow. It actually was never supposed to have been written! It all happened as an accident. Samantha Miller is the third child born into a perfect world, but on her 10th birthday that world completely falls apart and her family disintegrates. Six months later she is the only child left and her father does the best he can but it just isn’t enough. Later on she meets a wonderful man who has been raised in a perfect family as well but also has issues. Restored Hope teaches us how not to judge others based on what you see; the world is not what it appears.

4. For you, what is the hardest part of writing fiction?

Believe it or not coming up with the names and descriptions of the people. I am so afraid that I am going to make everyone look the same. And I really struggle with names!

5. Can you tell us about your writing process? Where do your ideas originate? Do you have a certain writing routine?

When I start a book I generally have an idea what issue it will revolve around, and I come up with the title first. (I know --- who does that?) Then I let the characters go—the end product is rarely where I had imagined.   I do write an outline – Again --- nothing like the end product.
I try to write for at least an hour per night and four hours every weekend. But if I’m not feeling it, I don’t force it.

6. What is your greatest challenge as a writer?

I think my greatest ‘difficulty’ is trying to stay sane when the characters are talking to me. I get to these points when I cannot get them out of my head and I don’t want to be anywhere but in front of my computer. That is not really too pleasant for other people.
The other challenge I face is the waiting game. I hate that time between turning it in to the publisher and having the book in my hand.

7. How do you research your books?

Well - - for Sorrowed Souls I immersed myself in the homeless community.
For Disrupted Lives – which is the one I am writing now I have done a great deal of research on the period I am writing about and I have a VERY good friend who was adopted and have used her as a source.

8. What advice would you give beginning writers?

If you are doing this for fame and fortune - - stop!
If you are doing this because it is what you love --- go for it! No one should take away your dream! Don’t let the naysayers get the better of you.

9. Who has inspired you as an author?

I really don’t have an answer for this one.

10. What’s next for you?

I am writing Disrupted Lives which was a suggestion from a reader who asked me if I would ever write a book about someone who had to give up a child at birth because her parents sent her away to have her child. This was done at the end of the 60’s and her boyfriend was drafted for the Vietnam War. Needless to say the book has turned into something MUCH BIGGER!

You can check out more about this author on her website:  http://brendayoungerman.com/
















Monday, 11 October 2010

The Stereotype of Self-publication

Today we have a guest, Robin Cain, author of When Dreams Bleed, discusing the hot topic of self-publication.


The Stereotype of Self-publication by Robin Cain:
I am a self-published author.

I am stating this upfront to bring attention to some preconceived notions many people have about “traditional publisher rejects”. I’m aware that this is what many of you (readers) call us (self-published authors), so why not get it out in the open? I know… you think we couldn’t sell our manuscripts, our writing stinks; we don’t edit our work. Yada, yada, yada. Much of this is true about some self-published authors; some of it is just plain garbage. On the other hand, much of it is not.

Nowadays, while millions of writers are querying agents each year and not getting through, new avenues of publication are becoming easier, more affordable and making more economic sense. Why wouldn’t any new author consider self-publication as a means to an end?

The traditionalists will answer, “Exposure and reputation” and they won’t be too far off the mark.

When an author chooses (for whatever reason) to self-publish, he immediately loses the connections that a big-name publisher brings to the table. That is no small loss. Being backed by a Simon & Shuster can go a long way to getting one’s books in readers’ hands. Additionally, when an author chooses to self-publish, they immediately have the stereotype branding – “self-published: must not be any good”. These two items are tough to argue, but…news flash, folks: This is all changing.

With the advent of e-publishing, social networking, online media and book pricing wars, the book selling market is changing – and changing rapidly. The book business, once rationed off in predetermined slices, is now anyone’s market. More and more of the “unknowns” are getting a piece of it – a piece which up until now would never have been theirs for the taking. One may or may not be a fan of the Kindle or e-books in general, but their impact on the book-buying market can’t be ignored – particularly after Amazon’s announcement that Kindle book sales recently surpassed regular book sales for the first time in history.

With an increased market share and greater exposure, it is now possible for a self-published author to attain the same level of success as traditionally published authors - as long as they follow the same rules:

Write quality work

Get it professionally edited

Have it reviewed by a multitude of unbiased readers (and re-write if necessary)

Hire a professional cover designer and formatter

Create a good platform… and then market the hell out of yourself!

Unfortunately, there are a great many writers out there who don’t follow these rules and it makes it awfully difficult for those of us authors that did (and do). Regardless, whether traditionally published or not, reputation still has to be built one book at a time.

So how do we get rid of the stereotype and reach those readers who otherwise wouldn’t give us a second look? Like any author (super star or rising star), we just hope the cream rises to the top, word-of-mouth does us some favors and generous bloggers (Thanks, Anita!) give us some of their spare space…


© 2010 Robin Cain, Author of WHEN DREAMS BLEED

Robin Lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with her husband, daughter, three dogs, three horses and an adopted donkey named Sophia. As a novelist and regular contributing writer for The Examiner, she spends her days searching for the perfect words to amuse, enlighten and touch her readers. A 3-chapter excerpt of her book, WHEN DREAMS BLEED, can be found on her website, http://www.robincain.com/


Robin's blog:  http://robincain.wordpress.com/