• Lists,  Recommendations,  Top Ten Tuesday,  Uncategorized,  Writing

    Top Ten Tuesday: Books About Writing

    Happy Tuesday! Today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is a freebie so I’m going list my top ten books about writing, both fiction and nonfiction.

    In fictional books, I find that they make the plot and characters strong because the author is writing about a subject they know well. Many writers love to write about writing, and I enjoy those storylines.

    With nonfiction books, my favorites feel like I’m talking with a friend – or even better, being let in on someone’s best secrets.

    In no particular order here’s my top ten:

    1. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott – I have written here before about this book. Anne is a writer that reads like a friend – both in style and honesty about writing.
    2. A Ladder to The Sky by John Boyne – I finished reading this book earlier this month, and it quickly became one of my favorites of 2019. Thank goodness it’s fiction because it is a writer’s worse nightmare.
    3. The World According to Garp by John Irving – This novel is an old college favorite of mine that also happens to be one of the few books by John Irving that I liked – an unpopular opinion, probably so.
    4. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – Yes, this book is depressing that was written by and tragic author in a semi-autobiographical manner. It’s also worth reading at least once; when you are not yourself depressed.
    5. Misery by Stephen King – The book was better than the movie. If you haven’t read this book or much by Stephen King, this is one I would put towards the top of the list of his books to read.
    6. Wired for Story by Lisa Cron – Based on brain science, this book brings out the science geek in me. It’s fascinating and worth a look if you want to approach your writing from a scientific point of view.
    7. Reading Like A Writer by Francine Prose – This is another book written by a phenomenal writer that reads like a conversation with a friend. I recently reread this book and will return to it over and over.
    8. Telling Stories: An Anthology for Writers by Joyce Carol Oates – This book is massive. It is a collection of short stories from a multitude of genres. It is well worth owning if short stories are your focus.
    9. The Writing Life by Annie Dillard – This book is newer to me and another one that is brutally honest about the craft of writing.
    10. To Show and To Tell by Phillip Lopate – Literary nonfiction was a tough genre for me to get a pulse on. I’m still not quite there, but this book was a fantastic starting point for me.

    Do you have any favorite books about writing? Thanks for stopping by!

  • Uncategorized

    A Ladder to The Sky – a book review

    ✂️✂️✂️✂️✂️/5

    Welcome to a writer’s worst nightmare.

    Maurice Swift is handsome, charismatic, ambitious and lacks the talent needed to become a successful writer on his own merits.

    As a young man, Maurice becomes the obsession of author Erich Ackermann. Maurice needs Erich to help his career along and Erich has other intentions. As they develop some semblance of a relationship Erich confesses to Maurice a terrible act he committed in concert with the Nazis resulting in the deaths of four people.

    Maurice in turn takes this story and packages it as the novel, Two Germans, and his career takes off while simultaneously destroying Ackermann’s career and essentially his life.

    After the success of his first novel, his sophomore book has less than stellar results and Maurice marries an up and coming author who narrates the second part of the book addressing Maurice as “you” – an interesting twist in narration.

    One calculating move after another leads the reader to realize that Maurice may not be who he appears to be. My jaw dropped multiple times as I went back to make sure I understood what had just happened.

    John Boyne is an incredibly talented writer – The Heart’s Invisible Furies is in my own top five books. I downloaded this audiobook expecting a good book but this was another phenomenal book – different from Furies but with some shared similarities.

    In both books references to real authors are made. In Furies the main character is always reading James Joyce or another Irish literature giant. Boyne takes it a step further in Ladder with Gore Vidal appearing as a guest star in the book.

    An exchange between the two men served as the shift from young aspiring author to a more sinister Maurice.

    There is also a nod to Maude Avery – a reference Furies readers will appreciate.

    These literary details gave this book a solid footing when at times you felt as if you were reading the impossible.

    I personally love books about writers writing, the publishing process, and literary criticism and this book was simply phenomenal, even for someone who doesn’t find that process to be all that interesting.

    At the heart, it is a character study and one can only imagine how Boyne went about developing such dark yet interesting characters that will keep a reader engaged despite how despicable a character is behaving.

    Mark this one down as one of my top books of 2019 – even if it’s only July.

  • Himalayas of Literature,  Uncategorized

    The Psychology of Time Travel: A Read Along​​

    Four women will invent time travel.

    Three will make their mark on history.

    Two will do anything to be remembered.

    One will not survive.

    Sound intriguing? I love a good female character-driven novel and time travel is one of my very favorite sub-genres. Combine those things with beautiful cover art and I am in!

    I am excited to announce that I am co-hosting a read-along of The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas with Jessica from Book Oblivion.

    If you are unfamiliar with Book Oblivion, simply put, they are some of the smartest and nicest people in the online book community. I am a member of The Himalayas of Literature group as well as the Critical Theory & Philosophy group. Jessica is also the mastermind behind the super-nerdy reading schedule.

    So here are the fun details:

    • I am currently giving away one copy of The Psychology of Time Travel. You can enter to win here on Instagram.
    • Jessica will also be giving away a copy later this week.
    • We have a private Facebook group you will want to join for extra insights along the way.
    • On August 17th we will meet to do a live online video call to discuss the book. You can sign up for that here.

    Please feel free to comment or email me with any questions.

    I hope you will join us and finish up the summer with this fascinating book!

     

     

  • Uncategorized

    Wednesday Words: Turning the Page

    I am a planner – a complimentary way of referring to myself as a control freak. And I will own it because it is a good quality to have in certain situations.

    Financial planning using data and analysis – yes.

    Life – no.

    2018 was The Year of Perpetual Rug Pulling Out From Under Us. One thing after another in the form of trauma, loss, depression, anxiety, grief, betrayal, injustice, and finally acceptance.

    Oh, acceptance – as in I don’t even have an Ikea bathmat left to stand on – that’s a big one for a control freak. But that is where I arrived after a heart to heart with Steve one late night after Christmas.

    •    •    •    •

    Note: If you are fortunate enough to find a partner in life who tells you every evening before they make you a drink that you are their “favorite sound in the world”, you have something pretty awesome.

    But if you are fortunate enough to find a partner in life who will tell you the hard things that you need to hear and still tell you that you are their favorite sound, you have something rare.

    Steve is both awesome and rare.

    •    •    •    •

    I woke up the next morning with a new sense of peace. I went about my business, threw a New Year’s Eve party for Chaney and her theater friends – it was very dramatic and fun – kissed Steve at midnight, and fell into bed at 2 AM when the boys went home.

    The next few weeks were a whirlwind. Steve is incredibly talented and because of his hard work and reputation, the job opportunity of a lifetime appeared almost out of nowhere. Practically overnight everything changed.

    I knew and even wrote last year that it was time for a change in the direction of my own career and life. Steve and I talked about it but had no idea how we were going to make it happen.

    Then it happened last week and my first writing assignment was to help Steve compose his resignation letter. He didn’t need help because we were on the exact same page full of mixed emotions, gratefulness, and excitement about the future.

    Yesterday I closed the book on a 20-year career in finance. I will miss my clients and will cherish the stories, lessons, and life experiences they shared with me. I have held hands with widows, shared with adult children how much I enjoyed working with their parents, and I will miss the clients who dropped in for nothing more than coffee, conversation, and a hug.

    So what’s my plan now? 

    We joke that it’s whatever I want and here’s what I want – more time with family, time to read and write, time to continue my Book Oblivion courses, and most importantly the time to support Steve and Chaney in their dreams and next chapters.

    In the fall my plan is to begin a low-residency MFA program in creative writing.

    But in the meantime, outside of the above, you can find me here compulsively cleaning the house, finding my fitness groove again, managing a home remodel, and making peace with two beagles who love me but don’t love to mind me.

    Here’s to turning the page.

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