It Can Happen Here: A Lesson from Charlottesville, Virginia

Charles French has written a very germane commentary about fascism, bigotry, hatred, and dictatorship. I will also add neo-Nazis, and Racism. President Trump has played a large role in this democracy-crushing-road to ending the United States of America, as we know it, by his dog-whistle baiting, tyranny-like speech, and the company he keeps.

charles french words reading and writing

ItCantHappenHere

(https://en.wikipedia.org)

This will not be a post about my normal subjects.

In 1935 Sinclair Lewis’ book It Can’t Happen Here spoke to the issue that many Americans held that fascism could not occur in the United States of America. His book is satirical, frightening, and, unfortunately, still applicable.

Erik Larson’s nonfiction history book In The Garden of Beasts, 2011, detailed the experience of Ambassador Dodd in Berlin in the 1930s, during the rise and solidification of Hitler’s power, and it is a terrifying read.

We must always remember that it can happen here, that bigotry and hatred can lead to terrible results. That white nationalists and neo-nazis brought their horror and bigotry to Charlottesville, VA yesterday, resulting in violence and death should make all Americans, regardless of political party, Democrat, Republican, or Independent, aware of what can happen.

We should all be frightened of the possibilities of such hatred…

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THE GIRL IN BLACK

The Girl in Black

The Girl in Black” by Kathy Lauren Miller, is a hauntingly taut murder mystery as well as an awesome page-turner! The mystery begins with high school senior, Kate Mckenna who happens to live in an old Victorian manor that is also the Mckenna Memorial Funeral Home. Her father, Dr. Brendan Mckenna, happens to be the county’s Chief Medical Examiner.  Shy Kate, whose social life as always been nearly non-existent until she is thrust into the limelight when the promiscuous prom queen, Ashley, is found tortured and murdered.

Accusations run rampant in Kate’s High School concerning several male students that were involved with Ashley.  To make matters worse, Ashley’s remains now reside at the funeral home where Kate lives. Kate and her best friend Cooper, a computer nerd, and Kate’s unattainable heartthrob, handsome Shane, all become involved in Ashley’s murder.  Suddenly, Kate finds herself in the cross hairs of the sadistic killer and the vengeful ghost of Ashley, the murdered prom queen. What happens next is beyond Kate’s worse nightmare.  The Girl in Black is a fascinating and terrifying murder mystery that will keep you guessing until the end. I highly recommend this book.

 

 

 

A Review: Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd is the first of Hardy’s novels to gain him widespread popularity. What can one say about the incredible writing of Thomas Hardy. This story is lavish and romantic with characters that are unforgettable. The historical details are rich in nuance and fascinating for the period. Hardy’s use of the English language is exquisite. When readers discover Thomas Hardy they always comment, “I fell in love with 19th Century English literature because of Thomas Hardy.” And, so did I.

The Story is set against the backdrop of the beautiful landscape in Wessex, England. The overall theme of the story questions rural values and is striking for its singular sensibility. The story revolves around Bathsheba Everdene and her suitors, as well as the Bathsheba’s difficulties managing a large farm.  One of her suitors, Gabriel Oak is attracted to the very modern sensibility of the independent and spirited Bathsheba. She is also charming, beautiful and vain. However, he must compete with the roguish and dashing soldier, Sergeant Troy, and the wealthy, respectable, middle-aged Farmer Boldwood. While their fates depend upon the choice Bathsheba makes, she must learn the consequences of vain flirtations with all three.

 

A Review for an Extraordinary Story

come-to-a-memory-31171219COME TO A MEMORY Joab’s Story/Lila’s Story

Come to a Memory, by Francis Webb,  is an extraordinary read. It feels genuine and real. I felt like I was reading a true story from the viewpoint of a little nine-year-old girl, named Lila.  America was barely edging out of the depression era and nerves stretched thin by the inconceivable shock, fear, and confusion of another war, so soon after the Great War.  This story takes place at the beginning of WWII in a small town and a family suffering financial loss like so many others during the Great Depression. What many people forget is that children were the ones that suffered in silence because that was the way children were instructed to behave, but not Lila.

Lila, intelligent, stubborn, and inquisitive, found ways to-be-heard, by throwing acorns at her cantankerous grandfather, as she hid in a tree, and by hiding a real chicken foot in her sleeve during her grandmother’s wake, terrifying ladies as Lila greeted them at her front door, not with her hand but with the chicken foot—claws and all.

Lila’s complex friendship with a Jewish boy from Germany, named Joab, who came to join her 4th grade class, grew slowly during the time before America entered into WWII after Pearl Harbor. Lila’s choice to befriend Joab, over the sneering remarks of children and adults alike, taught both lessons they would never forget.  Through it all, it was Lila and Joab, both suffering for being different, who helped to mend the suspicions of a small town about a little boy who escaped Nazi Germany, though his family did not.  I highly recommend this true-to-life story. This historical fiction, “Come to a Memory, made me cry, made me smile, and made me laugh hysterically.  A story that still lives in the hearts of many, still here, to remember the horror that was.  I highly recommend this story – to one and all!

THE GIRL IN BLACK by Kathy Lauren Miller

The Girl in Black

 

 

 

 

 

 

This review of this novel is definitely worth reblogging. The writing is superb, the mystery is  compelling and very scary. The Girl in Black” by Kathy Lauren Miller, is a hauntingly taut murder mystery as well as an awesome page-turner! The mystery begins with high school senior, Kate Mckenna who happens to live in an old Victorian manor that is also the Mckenna Memorial Funeral Home. Her father, Dr. Brendan Mckenna, happens to be the county’s Chief Medical Examiner.  Shy Kate, whose social life as always been nearly non-existent until she is thrust into the limelight when the promiscuous prom queen, Ashley, is found tortured and murdered.

Accusations run rampant in Kate’s High School concerning several male students that were involved with Ashley.  To make matters worse, Ashley’s remains now reside at the funeral home where Kate lives. Kate and her best friend Cooper, a computer nerd, and Kate’s unattainable heartthrob, handsome Shane, all become involved in Ashley’s murder.  Suddenly, Kate finds herself in the cross hairs of the sadistic killer and the vengeful ghost of Ashley, the murdered prom queen. What happens next is beyond Kate’s worse nightmare.  The Girl in Black is a fascinating and terrifying murder mystery that will keep you guessing until the end. I highly recommend this book.

 

 

 

Three Secrets to Great Storytelling!

Whispering3 SECRETS TO GREAT STORYTELLING as presented on Writer’s Digest. I found this article by Steven James helpful in forming the structure of scenes.  (this is a re-blogging from 2014 but I thought it deserved a revival now, because it is simple, straightforward, and to the point.)

As a novelist and writing instructor, I’ve noticed that three of the most vital aspects of story craft are left out of many writing books and workshops. Even bestselling novelists stumble over them – Steven James But they’re not difficult to grasp. In fact, they’re easy.And if you master these simple principles for shaping great stories, your writing will be transformed forever. Honest. Here’s how to write a story.

Secret #1: 
CAUSE AND EFFECT ARE KING.

Everything in a story must be caused by the action or event that precedes it.  As a fiction writer, you want your reader to always be emotionally present in the story. But when readers are forced to guess why something happened (or didn’t happen), even for just a split second, it causes them to intellectually disengage and distances them from the story. Rather than remaining present alongside the characters, they’ll begin to analyze or question the progression of the plot. And you definitely don’t want that. When a reader tells you that he couldn’t put a book down, often it’s because everything in the story followed logically. Stories that move forward naturally, cause to effect, keep the reader engrossed and flipping pages. If you fail to do this, it can confuse readers, kill the pace and telegraph your weaknesses as a writer.

Secret #2: 
IF IT’S NOT BELIEVABLE, IT DOESN’T BELONG.  

The narrative world is also shattered when an action, even if it’s impossible, becomes unbelievable. In writing circles it’s common to speak about the suspension of disbelief, but that phrase bothers me because it seems to imply that the reader approaches the story wanting to disbelieve and that she needs to somehow set that attitude aside in order to engage with the story. But precisely the opposite is true. Readers approach stories wanting to believe them. Readers have both the intention and desire to enter a story in which everything that happens, within the narrative world that governs that story, is believable. As writers, then, our goal isn’t to convince the reader to suspend her disbelief, but rather to give her what she wants by continually sustaining her belief in the story. The distinction isn’t just a matter of semantics; it’s a matter of understanding the mindset and expectations of your readers. Readers want to immerse themselves in deep belief. We need to respect them enough to keep that belief alive throughout the story.

Secret #3: 

IT’S ALL ABOUT ESCALATION.  

At the heart of story is tension, and at the heart of tension is unmet desire. At its core, a story is about a character who wants something but cannot get it. As soon as he gets it, the story is over. So, when you resolve a problem, it must always be within the context of an even greater plot escalation. As part of the novel-writing intensives that I teach, I review and critique participants’ manuscripts. Often I find that aspiring authors have listened to the advice of so many writing books and included an engaging “hook” at the beginning of their story. This is usually a good idea; however, all too often the writer is then forced to spend the following pages dumping in background to explain the context of the hook.

IN CONCLUSION

By consistently driving your story forward through action that follows naturally, characters who act believably, and tension that mounts exponentially, you’ll keep readers flipping pages and panting for more of your work.

 

THE GIRL IN BLACK

The Girl in Black

 

 

 

 

 

 

This review of this novel is definitely worth reblogging. The writing is superb, the mystery is  compelling and very scary. The Girl in Black” by Kathy Lauren Miller, is a hauntingly taut murder mystery as well as an awesome page-turner! The mystery begins with high school senior, Kate Mckenna who happens to live in an old Victorian manor that is also the Mckenna Memorial Funeral Home. Her father, Dr. Brendan Mckenna, happens to be the county’s Chief Medical Examiner.  Shy Kate, whose social life as always been nearly non-existent until she is thrust into the limelight when the promiscuous prom queen, Ashley, is found tortured and murdered.

Accusations run rampant in Kate’s High School concerning several male students that were involved with Ashley.  To make matters worse, Ashley’s remains now reside at the funeral home where Kate lives. Kate and her best friend Cooper, a computer nerd, and Kate’s unattainable heartthrob, handsome Shane, all become involved in Ashley’s murder.  Suddenly, Kate finds herself in the cross hairs of the sadistic killer and the vengeful ghost of Ashley, the murdered prom queen. What happens next is beyond Kate’s worse nightmare.  The Girl in Black is a fascinating and terrifying murder mystery that will keep you guessing until the end. I highly recommend this book.