Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Edge the Bare Garden by Roseanne Chen

Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction
Source: I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

My Thoughts
Agnes has never fit in. She has accepted this. She is bullied. When she finally reaches her breaking point, she takes matters into her own hands. She starts a blog where she starts telling secrets she knows about those who have tormented her. However, as things usually happen, things get out of hand. I would start the reading of this book by asking my students to answer the question; is it ever okay to seek revenge? What are some possible consequences of taking matters into your own hands?

I have decided to promote this throughout my school. This is a book that needs to be in each of my department’s classroom. As a middle grade English teacher I definitely could see this happening to any of my students. I have seen some of the things they post online to each other. It is so easy to be so nasty to each other. Teens today don’t consider it is the same as walking up to that person and saying it to their face. The major difference is that online, it is open for anyone and everyone to see. It becomes very public. They detach themselves from what they have written.  I understand why Agnes did what she did. However, I think she could have handled things differently. Once something is out there online, you can’t take it back.  This comes with questions in the back which help out the teacher.  Every parent should read this with their child or along with them to facilitate those all important discussions.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Guest Post: Clyde Linsley

“Tinkering” with History
I was in a large bookstore a few months ago and had one of those unfortunate experiences that are commonplace among us “midlist” authors. (“Midlist” is, incidentally, a common euphemism in the publishing business; it’s a relatively nice way to say “bottom of the pecking order, and apparently it applies to everyone who has had a book published but who cannot retire in luxury from the proceeds.)
In other words: nearly all of us.
We who reside on the midlist are doomed to haunting the bookstore aisles in search of prospective readers who seem to be searching for reading matter, with an eye toward enticing them into picking up our latest effort and, perhaps, falling in love with it. It happens just often enough to raise our hopes and fails to happen just enough to plunge us into despair.
She followed me eagerly as I led her to the books that had my name on them.
“I think my books might interest you,” I said. “I wrote a number of books with historical settings, mostly American and mostly set before the Civil War. My protagonist is a New England lawyer, a friend of Andrew Jackson, who . . .”
“Oh, I don’t care for historicals,” she said. “I want a nice murder mystery!” And off she went.
Um. Well.
By the time I had formulated a suitable response, she was gone. I’m still unsure that I would have come up with a suitable response, but it seemed appropriate at the time. I’d be interested in what – if anything – I might have said. In any event, I doubt that it would have mattered.
This wasn’t the first time I’ve come up against this objection. Readers of cozies (as traditional mysteries are sometimes characterized) seem to think historicals lack the requisite romance element, as if the whole boy-girl thing began with Rock Hudson and Doris Day. Readers of romances apparently believe that historical mysteries produce an insufficient number of ripped bodices.
Of course, murder is a fact of life today, as it was in the past. Regardless of what we may believe about the “rightness” of it, murder happened, and it happened frequently.
The fact is that we are all to some extent the products of our previous thoughts and actions. And not only our thoughts and actions.
 Everyone’s past is our present. As an example, I present to you the subject of my current book, the Mississippi River.
The Mississippi River: native Americans called it the “Father of Waters.” It served the youthful United States as a major transportation artery in a time before the existence of railroads, aircraft and Interstate highways. It fostered territorial expansion, watered any number of farms, and developed international trade. It also led to the development of steam-powered railroads and riverboats and made the United States a major exporter of agricultural commodities.
But Americans are tinkerers by disposition, and we couldn’t leave well-enough alone. We took over the river and systematically “improved” it by removing logjams, deepening channels, and straightening many of the river’s twists and turns – in the service of efficiency.
In the process, we very nearly destroyed it. We didn’t foresee the inevitable consequences of our efforts, which would have been disastrous for New Orleans – not to mention for the millions of people who depended on the river for their livelihood.  
The Army Corps of Engineers recognized the problem, fortunately, and cobbled together a solution that has held the river in check for half a century. But it’s only a temporary solution, and it could easily be reversed. My new book, Old River, is a fictional conjecture about an attempt to do just that.  I think (he said modestly) that, in telling a fictional story. it explains the problem and the possible consequences of inaction.
Old River, as I said, is fiction. But it could be fact with a little bit of tinkering. And Americans – as I believe I’ve said – are tinkerers.

Author Bio:

Clyde Linsley was born 1942 in Little Rock, Arkansas. He graduated from Little Rock Central High School in 1960 (at the height of the desegregation controversy). Linsley attended Little Rock University (one year), then transferred to the University of Missouri. There, he received a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the Missouri School of Journalism in 1964. That was followed by two years of graduate study in theology and social ethics at Colgate Rochester Divinity School where he didn’t get a degree but gained interesting knowledge and significant expenses and considered it worth every penny.

When asked what inspires his writing, Clyde quotes a favorite writer:

William Faulkner wrote that the past isn’t irrelevant, and that it is “not even past.” As a Southerner who has lived most of his adult life in the east, I keep finding the past encroaching on the present, wherever I go. If there is a single theme to my books, it’s probably that what happens tomorrow is directly related to what happened yesterday. Europeans are probably more aware of this, because they have so much more history, but it’s just as true on this side of the pond.”

Most of his stories have echoes from the past.
After school, he worked on state and national political campaigns, two presidential inaugurations, and wrote radio news for a small New Hampshire broadcaster. He was also a reporter for a (now defunct) daily newspaper, a freelance writer and a mystery novelist. Clyde is married with three offspring (now adults) and lives with his wife in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Guest Post by Judy Alter author of The Gilded Cage

Research After the Fact

For the last ten years, give or take a little, I worked on a historical novel about Chicago. It was my “big” project, often set aside for shorter, less puzzling work. But I’m a believer in letting things simmer in the back of your mind—and I was convinced this was simmering. In between other projects, I’d go back and fiddle with the manuscript I then called “Potter’s Wife.” I’d change the point of view—Potter Palmer, Cissy Palmer, omniscient third-person, Most of all I’d research.
I ordered books on interlibrary loan as if there were a desperate hurry and the service would not be available the next day. I read everything I could find about Chicago history, Potter and Bertha (Cissy) Honoré Potter, the Columbian Exposition, the Great Fire of Chicago, architecture. I spent hours online.

I’d write, put it aside, rewrite, go on to a mystery, etc. One of my big breakthroughs came when a first line popped into my head. “The smell. He’d never forget the smell.” I had the tone I wanted, and the actual writing came fairly easily. Satisfied that I had followed all loose threads and tied them up, I sent “Potter’s Wife” to my editor. Somewhere along the way it became “The Gilded Cage.” I sent it to a formatter and hired a dear friend to do the jacket design (original art now hangs, framed, in my cottage).

Mid-May last spring, the book went live on Amazon in trade paper and ebook, garnering mostly five-star reviews, sales that for me were good, and flattering comments from those who read it immediately. Then I discovered a whole new research source I had no idea about and now wonder how I missed.

Author Bio
An award-winning novelist, Judy Alter is the author of several fictional biographies of women of the American West. In The Gilded Cage she has turned her attention to the late nineteenth century in her home town, Chicago, to tell the story of the lives of Potter and Cissy Palmer, a high society couple with differing views on philanthropy and workers’ right. She is also the author of six books in the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries series. With the 2014 publication of The Perfect Coed, she introduced the Oak Grove Mysteries.

Her work has been recognized with awards from the Western Writers of America, the Texas Institute of Letters, and the National Cowboy Museum and Hall of Fame. She has been honored with the Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Achievement by WWA and inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame and the WWA Hall of Fame.

Skype: juju1938

Buy link for The Gilded Cage