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Caroline by Sue Barr

Source: the author
Ebook, 204 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Caroline by Sue Barr, view her guest post, explores Caroline Bingley from a different perspective, following Mr. Darcy’s proposal to Elizabeth Bennet.  What if all we thought we knew about Jane Austen’s foil to Elizabeth wasn’t completely true? What if there was more to her than we thought?

Caroline has been in love with Mr. Darcy, or at least his society position and estate, for a very long time, and when she discovers he is lost to her forever, she is devastated.  She falls to an emotional low, and while turning to music and listening to her sister’s advice, she strives to make improvements — albeit slowly.  But her relationship with her siblings is not as close as it could be, especially when she makes her feelings known to Charles.

“Caroline eyed the half-chewed sticky mass on the floor and with great determination kept a steady gaze on Louisa’s face.  Not for the first time she wished her sister would not speak with her mouth full.  In front of the wrong person, she could be mistaken for an uncouth gentlewoman, on par with Mrs. Bennet.”

In walks, Lord Nathan Kerr, Mr. Darcy’s new vicar, and he is almost immediately besotted, but like Mr. Knightley, he takes Caroline to task for her past transgressions, even some she didn’t make.  Barr creatively intertwines scripture and is never heavy handed, and she shows the gradual evolution of Caroline from social-climber to a woman who is looking for companionship, respect, and love.  She has a harsh temper, which she must learn to curb, and eventually listening to the advice of her grandmother from long ago, she’s able to seek solace and learn to quiet her frustrations and anxieties enough to see the potential before her without lamenting what can never be.

The only drawback was the convenient ending, which took away some of the redemptive qualities of the novel.  But, overall, Caroline by Sue Barr is a wonderful story about a woman in need of new direction and finds it by looking at the opportunities before her that she might have spurned not too long ago.  This fiery redhead learns a lot about herself and society perceptions along the way, leaving her little choice but to reform herself and become more open to love.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Sue Barr resides in beautiful Southwestern Ontario with her retired Air Force hubby, two sons and their families. She’s also an indentured servant to three cats and has been known to rescue a kitten or two, or three … in an attempt to keep her ‘cat-lady- in-training’ status current. Although, she has deviated from appointed path and rescued a few dogs as well.

Sue is a member of Romance Writers of America and their affiliate chapter, Love, Hope and Faith as well as American Christian Fiction Writers. For more information about her other books, visit her website, her blog, and on Pinterest, Facebook, GoodReads, and Twitter.

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Cover Reveal & Giveaway: The Darcy Monologues

I know everyone has been excited to see the cover of this May release in the Jane Austen Fan Fiction community, and I cannot wait to show it to you today.  The anthology itself will be released on May 22.

From Christina Boyd:

The amazing cover art is the genius of Shari Ryan of MadHat Books. She took the cover concept and created exactly as I envisioned. Shari professionally, quickly, and concisely handled my countless questions, suggestions, and “just one more tweak” in the challenging format of the print interior—even had a special script code written to make it happen. And then when the original concept had to be scrapped because of the print-on- demand company’s limitations that were beyond our control (long, convoluted story only to be shared over strong cocktails), Shari AGAIN created the present cover and interior for both print and e-book. I could not recommend her expertise more!

Multi-talented author Beau North designed the individual fantastic short story graphics for our social media promotions. I think each gives a lovely overall feel for each story. And the color concept I think works well with #TheDarcyMonologues branding, too!

About the Book:

“You must allow me to tell you…”

For over two hundred years, Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy has captivated readers’ imaginations as the ultimate catch. Rich. Powerful. Noble. Handsome. And yet, as Miss Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” is established through Elizabeth Bennet’s fine eyes, how are we to know what his tortured soul is indeed thinking? How does Darcy progress from “She is tolerable: but not handsome enough to tempt me” to “I thought only of you”?

In this romance anthology, fifteen Austen-inspired authors assemble to sketch Darcy’s character through a series of re-imaginings, set in the Regency through contemporary times—from faithful narratives to the fanciful. Herein “The Darcy Monologues”, the man himself reveals his intimate thoughts, his passionate dreams, and his journey to love—all told with a previously concealed wit and enduring charm.

Stories by: Susan Adriani * Sara Angelini * J. Marie Croft * Karen M Cox * Jan Hahn * Jenetta James * Lory Lilian * KaraLynne Mackrory * Beau North * Ruth Phillips Oakland * Natalie Richards * Sophia Rose * Joana Starnes * Melanie Stanford * Caitlin Williams

Pre-order here on Amazon.

Before we get to the giveaway, I have another surprise for you. I get to share an image for Karen M Cox’s story in the anthology!

Here’s a little teaser from her story, too:

“You seem to know a lot about this book.”

“You would too if your last name was Darcy.” I mimicked an affected tone. “So, you’re Mr. Darcy. Ha-ha-ha-ha. I’ve been looking for you all my life.” With a grim shake of my head, I took a sip of my bourbon and branch. “His first name was even Fitzwilliam.”

“That sounds a lot like William.”

“Yep. My mother’s little joke–English lit major that she was. Bought me a lifetime of misery with that name.”

About Karen:

Karen M Cox is an award-winning author of four novels accented with romance and history: 1932, Find Wonder in All Things, At the Edge of the Sea, and Undeceived. She also wrote “Northanger Revisited 2015”, which appeared in the anthology Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer. Originally from Everett, Washington, Karen now lives in Central Kentucky with her husband, works as a pediatric speech pathologist, encourages her children, and spoils her granddaughter. Like Austen’s Emma, Karen has many hobbies and projects she doesn’t quite finish, but like Elizabeth Bennet, she aspires to be a great reader and an excellent walker.

International Giveaway:

One winner will be selected to win a Kindle Fire with Alexa, and a 7” display.

This giveaway will take place from March 27 – April 21, 2017. The winner will be announced on April 22, 2017.

The second giveaway is for a $25.00 Etsy gift card.

To enter this giveaway, readers will create a Pinterest Board named The Darcy Monologues and post all fifteen story images from the cover reveals, one per each author included in the anthology, and Tweet the board on Twitter. The Tweet must include the hashtag, #TheDarcyMonologues.

This giveaway will take place from March 27 – April 21, 2017. The winner will be announced on April 22, 2017.

All entries will be entered through the Rafflecopter links shown below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

***Please stop by on July 3 for my review of The Darcy Monologues***

Mailbox Monday #420

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links. Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Martha, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

***Please note that the Mr. Linky is having issues, so please leave any MM links in the comments at the blog this week.***

It’s finally spring, now only if the weather would warm up, I could get into the garden.

****Also, if you haven’t signed up, please do for the National Poetry Month blog tour****

Here’s what I received:

Build a … T-Rex illustrated by Kiki Ljung for review from Quarto Knows.

Welcome to your dinosaur dig! Build a T-rex and uncover the inner workings of the world’s most ferocious dinosaur. Learn about their body, their prey, and their extinction. Encourages imaginative play with a step-by-step 3D model to build, and simple facts to learn, ideal for young naturalists.

Build a … Butterfly illustrated by Kiki Ljung for review from Quarto Knows.

Welcome to the butterfly house! Build a butterfly and uncover the inner workings of the world’s most beautiful insect. Learn about their life cycle, how they find food, where they live, and how far they travel. Encourages imaginative play with a step-by-step 3D model to build, and simple facts to learn, ideal for young naturalists.

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn for review in June with TLC Book Tours.

In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the “Queen of Spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth…no matter where it leads.

Beauty and the Beast: A Coloring Book by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve from Media Masters Publicity.

This enchanting coloring book is full of wonderful pictures, patterns, and borders to be colored in, as budding artists immerse themselves in the story of Beauty, who goes to live with the terrifying Beast in order to save her father…and then gradually learns to love him. All the key scenes and characters are here to color in as you relive this most romantic of fairy tales.

What did you receive?

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Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan

Source: Purchased
Hardcover, 56 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan is a Newbery Honor Book, Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book, and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book, and the author notes that he was inspired to write about the 11 slaves listed as property for the Fairchilds estate in 1828. The slave-related document only listed the slaves as “woman” and “boy”, etc., and no ages were given.  Bryan ascribed ages and names to these slaves and gave them jobs on the estate, and the stories he tells in a free-verse poetry format are telling.  My daughter and I read this together in February for Black History Month, but it is a book that has lessons that should be taught to kids everyday.

Bryan’s illustrations aim to breathe life into the dreams of these slaves, those who are bound to an estate with little hope of freedom, except in their minds.  They have skills praised by their owners, and any money they earn from the neighboring plantations enriches their owners.  It’s hard to see how this life could not make the slaves feel hopeless, but Bryan’s free verse poems recall the inner freedom their skills and accomplishments can bring — they have dreams of something more, if not for themselves, for others who they teach and mentor along the way.  From musicians to architects and doctors, these slaves had dreams that out shined their current situations.

Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan demonstrates the harsh realities of slavery, while still providing children with a glimmer of hope and joy.  It speaks to the resiliency of the human spirit, as well as the darker drive to control others and deem them less worthy for arbitrary reasons.  The illustrations are bright and dreamlike, and kids will be drawn in.  My only complaint is that the free-verse is very narrative, and less rhythmic than expected.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Ashley Bryan grew up to the sound of his mother singing from morning to night, and he has shared the joy of song with children ever since. A beloved illustrator, he has been the recipient of the Coretta Scott King—Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award; he has also been a May Hill Arbuthnot lecturer, a Coretta Scott King Award winner, and the recipient of countless other awards and recognitions. His books include Sail Away; Beautiful Blackbird; Beat the Story-Drum, Pum Pum; Let It Shine; Ashley Bryan’s Book of Puppets; and What a Wonderful World. He lives in Islesford, one of the Cranberry Isles off the coast of Maine.

Guest Post & Giveaway: Caroline: The Music Behind the Woman by Sue Barr

Many Pride & Prejudice variations are focused on Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, but what attracts me to Sue Barr’s variation is that it focuses on Miss Bennet’s nemesis, Caroline Bingley.  (OK, maybe nemesis is a strong word)  Caroline has focused on Mr. Darcy for so long, what happens to her after Darcy marries Elizabeth? How does she cope with that loss and what does she focus on now that he’s out of the picture?  Today, Sue Barr will share with us the musical influences of Jane Austen and how it plays in Caroline’s life.

But first, read more about the book below.

Book Synopsis:

Whatever happened to Caroline Bingley after her brother and unrequited love interest married a Bennet sister? Join me in this story of redemptive love and the healing of broken dreams.

Caroline Bingley, beyond frustrated with her brother, Charles and Mr. Darcy both proposing to the Bennet sisters, dreads their upcoming nuptials. For three years, her sole focus has been on attaining a marriage proposal from one Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley, only to be foiled by a country miss with ‘fine eyes’. Adrift and not sure of her place in life, she meets the mysterious and devastatingly handsome Lord Nathan, who equally vexes and intrigues her.

Lord Nathan Kerr, third in line to a Dukedom, had a well-earned reputation as a Rake. He cast all that and his noble title aside to become Mr. Darcy’s vicar in Kympton, finding contentment in leading his small flock and doing the Lord’s work. His plan for a quiet, country life is thrown into upheaval when he meets the fiery Miss Bingley. Can he reconcile his rising desire for the spoiled miss with how a vicar’s wife ‘should’ behave?

Purchase Links: Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon CA, Amazon AU

Please give Sue a warm welcome.

Thank you, Serena, for inviting me to your lovely blog today to discuss my latest book, Caroline. Today, I look forward to sharing this post with your readers that discusses the musical influences in Jane Austen’s own life, as well as in Caroline Bingley’s story too.

When it comes to musical talents, I have learned that Jane Austen really was somewhat of a proficient and a rather accomplished lady in her musical achievements. From the age of 12 years old, Jane practiced the piano nearly each and every morning. In the evenings, she could often be found performing at the piano for her family and friends.

Even at the age of 20, she was still taking weekly lessons and learning new techniques, which happened to be unusual, even for the accomplished women of her class. Even though her family existed on a limited budget, Jane was always able to have access to a good quality piano. Due to the costs of printed music, Jane belonged to an “informal, women-driven network” of music copyists and borrowers.

In my story, Caroline, I was able to connect Austen’s love for music as we discover that Caroline also has a passion for music which soothes her soul. Whenever troubled, she gravitates to the pianoforte and plays. Personally, I love Mozart and was so glad that he lived prior to the time frame of my story.

One of my favorite movies is Amadeus, not for the characterization of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his protagonist, Antonio Salieri but for the music. There is one song, when the last of the high notes hang in the air before crashing to the end, which gives me goose flesh. The genius of Mozart’s compositions is beyond compare. His piano concerto No. 26 has so many layers in nuance and timing, also any of his Clarinet Concertos, … and who doesn’t love Eine Klein Nachtmusic? Most people listen to the piece with only stringed instruments, but the piano solo, accompanied by woodwinds and stringed instruments is achingly beautiful. I have a CD of his music and love it.

I also wanted Caroline to have layers with her love of music and there were many great Masters to choose from, but I looked for something different. I Googled popular composers in the time of 1812 and Ignaz Pleyel popped up. You Tube is a wonderful place to lose yourself and I listened to many tracks until I found his sonata in F Major. I thought I’d share a link to the scene from Amadeus where Solieri, played by F. Murray Abraham, is describing the music of Mozart to a young priest. I think he won the Oscar from this scene alone.

I challenge you to listen to some classical music, if you don’t already love it. Really, really hear what these Masters composed. Imagine flutes, oboes and clarinets, joined by an bassoon providing the much needed lower layer and then along comes the violin, piercing the air with each rising crescendo in harmony alongside the cello and in the background, bass drums, like a heartbeat.

Can you hear it?

Reference: JOHNSON, CLAUDIA L. and CLARA TUITE (eds). A Companion to Jane Austen. Blackwell Publishing, 2009. Blackwell Reference Online. 25 February 2017

Thanks, Sue, for sharing this with us. I can hear the music now. I’m sure my readers can, too, and I bet they’re excited to enter to win!

About the Author:

Sue Barr resides in beautiful Southwestern Ontario with her retired Air Force hubby, two sons and their families. She’s also an indentured servant to three cats and has been known to rescue a kitten or two, or three … in an attempt to keep her ‘cat-lady- in-training’ status current. Although, she has deviated from appointed path and rescued a few dogs as well.

Sue is a member of Romance Writers of America and their affiliate chapter, Love, Hope and Faith as well as American Christian Fiction Writers. For more information about her other books, visit her website, her blog, and on Pinterest, Facebook, GoodReads, and Twitter.

Enter the Giveaway:

Three winners will receive a paperback copy of Caroline and a Jane Austen Journal and three separate winners will receive an ebook copy of this book. (All giveaways are open to international winners.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella (audio)

Source: Purchased
Audible, 9+ hours
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella, the 8th book in this series, is narrated admirably by Clare Corbett, and believe it or not, Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) has matured a little. You really have to read Book 7 to get into this book because it picks up right where the previous book left off. (spoilers below)

Becky, her husband, Suze, and her mom are off to find Becky’s father and Suz’s husband, who have vanished. They track them down to Las Vegas, and the adventures they have are hilarious and ridiculous as they leave Los Angeles in search of them. Becky’s mother is at her wit’s end and believes her husband has another woman in his life, while Suze is determined to save her “brainwashed” husband from a gold-digging new-age coach. And it seems that Becky is the only practical and level-headed one in this bunch, at least until Becky feels her friendship with Suze is threatened by her long-time nemesis Alicia, who also happens to be along for this roadtrip.

Becky’s stint at the new age retreat in California has really gotten her thinking about her spending habits, and she’s so blocked by her guilt over the roadtrip and the disappearance of her father, that she can’t even let her friend Suze buy her a pair of cowboy boots or even spend $2.50 on a pencil. Kinsella has finally matured Becky enough to ensure readers will stick with her through this roadtrip adventure into her father’s past, and the antics and machinations of these characters will have readers agog and laughing. Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella, narrated by Clare Corbett, is pure fun, and is just what the doctor ordered in the current political climate.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

About the Author:

Madeleine Wickham is a bestselling British author under her pseudonym, Sophie Kinsella. Educated at New College, Oxford, she worked as a financial journalist before turning to fiction. She is best known for writing a popular series of chick-lit novels. The Shopaholic novels series focuses on the misadventures of Becky Bloomwood, a financial journalist who cannot manage her own finances. The books follows her life from when her credit card debt first become overwhelming (“The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic”) to the latest book on being married and having a child (“Shopaholic & Baby”). Throughout the entire series, her obsession with shopping and the complications that imparts on her life are central themes.

Mailbox Monday #419

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links. Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Martha, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

The Usborne Outdoor Book, which we purchased for my daughter’s birthday.

Inspiring ideas for discovering and exploring outdoors, whether that’s a city park, a beach, deep in the woods or even in a garden. Activities for all weathers include building a shelter, stargazing, marking a trail, catching crabs and listening for creatures at night. With tips for identifying wildlife and advice throughout on staying safe.

The Usborne Fairy Palaces Magic Painting Book, also purchased for my daughter’s birthday.

Explore the enchanting world of Fairy Palaces with this incredible magic painting book. Sweep carefully over the wonderful black and white patterns and drawings with the paintbrush provided, and watch the colours magically appear. With clear instruction on the front, this book couldn’t be easier for children and adults to use. Each delicate illustration is so intricate that every page conceals a palette of colours waiting to be discovered. A therapeutic and satisfying activity book children will enjoy painting and showing to their friends. Completed paintings can be kept as a keepsake.

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts, also purchased for our daughter but from her Scholastic February order form.

Like her classmates, builder Iggy and inventor Rosie, scientist Ada, a character of color, has a boundless imagination and has always been hopelessly curious. Why are there pointy things stuck to a rose? Why are there hairs growing inside your nose? When her house fills with a horrific, toe-curling smell, Ada knows it’s up to her to find the source. What would you do with a problem like this? Not afraid of failure, Ada embarks on a fact-finding mission and conducts scientific experiments, all in the name of discovery. But, this time, her experiments lead to even more stink and get her into trouble!

Inspired by real-life makers such as Ada Lovelace and Marie Curie, Ada Twist, Scientist champions girl power and women scientists, and brings welcome diversity to picture books about girls in science. Touching on themes of never giving up and problem solving, Ada comes to learn that her questions might not always lead to answers, but rather to more questions. She may never find the source of the stink, but with a supportive family and the space to figure it out, she’ll be able to feed her curiosity in the ways a young scientist should.

Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan, also purchased from the February Scholastic sheet for our daughter.

Using original slave auction and plantation estate documents, Ashley Bryan offers a moving and powerful picture book that contrasts the monetary value of a slave with the priceless value of life experiences and dreams that a slave owner could never take away.

Imagine being looked up and down and being valued as less than chair. Less than an ox. Less than a dress. Maybe about the same as…a lantern.

You, an object. An object to sell.

In his gentle yet deeply powerful way, Ashley Bryan goes to the heart of how a slave is given a monetary value by the slave owner, tempering this with the one thing that CAN’T be bought or sold—dreams. Inspired by the actual will of a plantation owner that lists the worth of each and every one of his “workers”, Bryan has created collages around that document, and others like it. Through fierce paintings and expansive poetry he imagines and interprets each person’s life on the plantation, as well as the life their owner knew nothing about—their dreams and pride in knowing that they were worth far more than an Overseer or Madam ever would guess. Visually epic, and never before done, this stunning picture book is unlike anything you’ve seen.

Wildly into the Dark: Typewriter Poems and the Rattlings of a Curious Mind by Tyler Knott Gregson for review.

Tyler’s third collection includes more of his popular Typewriter Series poems (featured in his first book, Chasers of the Light) as well as never-before-published scenes that paint the world as only Tyler sees and experiences it. Filled with vivid photographs and even more vivid emotions, Wildly Into the Dark is a must-have for longtime fans as well as newcomers to Tyler’s unique brand of passionate, intimate, and playful words and images.


The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn for review.

London, 1815: Two travelers—Rachel Katzman and Liam Finucane—arrive in a field in rural England, disheveled and weighed down with hidden money. Turned away at a nearby inn, they are forced to travel by coach all night to London. They are not what they seem, but rather colleagues who have come back in time from a technologically advanced future, posing as wealthy West Indies planters—a doctor and his spinster sister. While Rachel and Liam aren’t the first team from the future to “go back,” their mission is by far the most audacious: meet, befriend, and steal from Jane Austen herself.

Carefully selected and rigorously trained by The Royal Institute for Special Topics in Physics, disaster-relief doctor Rachel and actor-turned-scholar Liam have little in common besides the extraordinary circumstances they find themselves in. Circumstances that call for Rachel to stifle her independent nature and let Liam take the lead as they infiltrate Austen’s circle via her favorite brother, Henry.

But diagnosing Jane’s fatal illness and obtaining an unpublished novel hinted at in her letters pose enough of a challenge without the continuous convolutions of living a lie. While her friendship with Jane deepens and her relationship with Liam grows complicated, Rachel fights to reconcile the woman she is with the proper lady nineteenth-century society expects her to be. As their portal to the future prepares to close, Rachel and Liam struggle with their directive to leave history intact and exactly as they found it…however heartbreaking that may prove.

What did you receive?

National Poetry Month 2017 Blog Tour Sign-Up

National Poetry Month 2017 is around the corner.

I’m looking for some great bloggers to join the annual National Poetry Month blog tour.

Some posts we’ve seen in the past include:

  • original poetry
  • reviews of poetry books
  • sharing of favorite poems
  • activities where we add one line to a poem in the comments to create a community poem
  • blackout poetry activities
  • interviews and guest post from poets
  • information about local poetry events
  • sharing local poetry event experiences, and more.

If you’d like to participate, leave a comment below with a valid email and date you’d like to post about poetry in April.

Grab the image above for your own blog, and let’s get the poetry party started!

Happy National Poetry Month!

Guest Post: The Autobiography of a Book Tour by Brett Busang

Today, I’d like to welcome Brett Busang to the blog to talk about his experiences with publishing a book and marketing it.

But first read a bit about the book.

Book Synopsis:

Set in London, beginning in the early sixties and spanning five decades, I Shot Bruce follows Vijay Asunder, a rock-and-roll wannabe who, many decades after he is spurned by the manager of a singing group that eventually becomes world-famous, finally decides that he must kill the one person that symbolizes the success that has eluded him, his replacement. During a fifty-year span of time, Asunder follows the fortunes of the band and its various members as he pursues the alternate and ever-so-quiet, but not-very-satisfying life he’s made for himself as an antique dealer. Yet with each passing year, and with each reminder of “what might have been”, his obsession for revenge grows, until finally he must act.

Conceived loosely on the untimely dismissal and subsequent life of Pete Best, the so-called ‘fifth Beatle’, Asunder’s perspective and his ultimate commitment to retribution differs markedly from Ringo Starr’s predecessor. Intelligent and intense, I Shot Bruce chronicles and dramatizes obsession to the point of self-destruction.

Please give Brett a warm welcome.

When I Shot Bruce, my “angry, British” novel, was accepted by Open Books/Escape Media, I was under the impression that publishers sold your books, scheduled appearances, and sent you a check, on a quarterly basis, every year it remained in print, and, possibly beyond it.  What I confronted was a completely different playing-field, if you will, and have been trying to adjust to its peculiarly fuzzy boundaries ever since.  That would explain why it’s taken so long for me to conceive of, and participate in, forms of promotional activism I had once thought happened by themselves, or by means of an organic chemistry whereby mushrooms spring fully-formed (and fascinatingly dangerous) overnight. (I hope I can become a smart mushroom-grower.)  Until recently, however, I’d been hoping that bookstores would yield to ISB’s charms (I was wrong), The Washington Post (et al) would usher me into a world of perks and comforts I have not heretofore experienced (ha!), and that all of my appearances in bookstores and area stages would be – to channel another delusional thinker – packed.

At this point, appearances at bookstores (et al) have been so scant, that, like the Broadway production that closes out of town, each glittering moment is etched so indelibly that only a bump on the head – or one of those old-age afflictions that start with forgotten surnames – could expunge them. I could say that, having weathered a full year on a battlefront with few visible landmines, I’m in a shell-shocked condition that dare not speak its name. What would you call time spent restlessly, but without a master plan or marching orders? If good causes come out of a few random words, I’ve wasted thousands. What could I have been thinking about a project that shot from the hip and seemed to spin around, as if it lacked motor coordination, completely on its own? If effective human beings are said to have “agency”, I am an exemplar of whatever agency is not. Yet I have soldiered on and have had some interesting moments.

In Richmond, I read to an audience of three people – all good friends – who seemed to think that there was nothing unusual in having been skunked by everybody else. The most stalwart of these thought that having a warmly discriminating audience was a victory unto itself. Could quality be measured by numbers? (Sometimes.) Did it matter that I would sell books only to friends? (Without a living mother, these would have to suffice.) And who’s to judge whether James Patterson, with his gravity-defying success, is, in terms of what he has produced, superior to me? (*It would be delusional to think otherwise.)

Having gotten so many things wrong, I have begun to assume that I was never right about much of anything else and. . .I was right.  And I am starting over with a head that is no longer reeling and expectations that comport with where I am in the world.

I’ve signed a contract for another book, which will come out in June.  With all of this hard and hapless experience under my belt, I feel that, if I can implement alternative strategies such as The Unconventional Venue Phenomenon, I can snatch an honorable victory from defeatist jaws that have, thus far, eaten me alive. I believe that, with the perspective I have, by means of hustle and headache, acquired, I am likely to prevail as respectably as the model under which I operate – for which nothing less than full participation is acceptable – will allow.

If I don’t, I’ll have an existentially amusing outcome to jog my waning faculties. I Shot Bruce’s narrator is so compulsively wrong-headed that his life might be seen as a model of anti-perfection. If, in promoting him, I fail as abysmally as he did in my book, perhaps the poetic justice for which we yearn in fiction a little more than we do in real life, will be served. I would rather have him celebrated by a readership that may not hope for a sequel, but, if he is to be scorned in life as much as he was left to rot on the page, I think I can fall in with that. In a world of unsatisfactory outcomes, there is a double indemnity here. The book will sleep, as its narrator has, in infamy. And when, in the year 2054, it is rediscovered by a pimply-faced young man who surfs the internet – as people will do at that time – by Long-Distance Imaging, I Shot Bruce may finally have its day. Life is short, art long, and it’s best to hope as selectively as you can.

*One could say that books come alive as they are written. I would suggest that, in publishing, a second life is not only desirable, it’s absolutely necessary. If you publish, you’ve got to publicize. And Patterson has done it – or has had it done for him – quite resoundingly.

Thanks, Brett, for sharing this story with us.

About the Author/Artist:

Brett Busang is a prominent and respected American realist. He has exhibited at such institutions as the Museum of the City of New York City; the Everson Museum, in Syracuse, NY; the Greenville Museum of Art, in Greenville, NC. His paintings have been avidly collected by corporations (Capital One, Krispy Kreme, Media General, Wheat First Union, among others) as well as private individuals around the country. An heir to such uncompromising voices as Edward Hopper and Charles Burchfield, Mr. Busang interprets “his own backyard” with a combination of personal lyricism and rigorous objectivity. His writing has appeared in American Artist, The Artist’s Magazine, American Art Review, the New York Press and New York Newsday. He also contributes regularly to a blog at www.webartsites.com. To view his art, visit his website.

Brett Busang describes himself as a prolific essayist, a moderately interesting playwright, a lapsed painter, an ambivalent anglophile and a failed ballplayer.  Brett Busang was born in Memphis, Tennessee and now lives in Washington, DC. His latest book, Laughter and Early Sorrow (and Other Stories), is forthcoming from Open Books/Escape Media.

Breaking and Holding by Judy Fogarty & Giveaway

Source: TLC Book Tours
Paperback, 358 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Breaking and Holding by Judy Fogarty is set during what some call the golden age of tennis during the late 1970s when John McEnroe was an up-and-coming star and Jimmy Connors was at the top of his game. Patricia Curren is a beautiful woman who looks as though she’s stepped off of a magazine cover and in a way, she did after her husband discovered her and used her in a rebranding campaign when she was younger. A man bent on building his business and maintaining the perfect facade through intimidation, Jack Curren will stop at nothing to get what he wants while expecting loyalty and acquiescence from those closest to him. It’s clear that his relationship with his wife is far from blissful, and something is about to break.

“This isn’t my story. It’s Patricia and Terry’s. But in the summer of 1978, their lives were wound around mine like strands of twine around a spool. Twine. Rope. Barbed wire by August.” (pg. 1)

The Curren’s take a trip to Kiawah, S.C., to their beach house, and when her husband returns to New York for work, she stays behind. She’s looking to change to become stronger, to break out of her melancholy and aloofness, and to be more like Jack’s assistant Lynn.  Here Patricia transforms into Tricia with the help of Terry, a summer camp teacher who wants to be a professional tennis player on the circuit.  Both are broken and both find that they can repair themselves through the uncomplicated love they have for one another, but the secrets they hold threaten to break apart everything.

Fogarty has created a set of deeply flawed, broken characters who must make peace with their own pasts in order to move forward.  The tennis matches mirror the volleying between Tricia and Jack, Tricia and Lynn, Jack and Lynn, and the volleys between Tricia and Terry, Terry and Baze (his friend), and Terry and Nona (a woman interested in sponsoring his pro career). Told from Lynn’s point of view, readers are pulled into the mystery of these relationships, and the tangled webs they’ve all created until they nearly strangle one another.  Each has to decide when the tipping point is and when to take a chance and go to the net for match point.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Judy Fogarty lives, writes, reads, and runs on the historic Isle of Hope, in her native Savannah, Georgia. She holds a Master of Music degree from the University of Illinois and has served as Director of Marketing for private golf and tennis communities in the Savannah/Hilton Head area, including The Landings on Skidaway Island, Berkeley Hall, and Callawassie Island. She is a devoted (even rowdy) tennis fan as anyone who has ever had the pleasure (or displeasure) of watching a match with her will attest. Breaking and Holding is her debut novel. She is happily at work on her second, and as always, enjoys the invaluable support of her husband, Mike, and children, Colin and Sara Jane. Visit her Website, Facebook, or Twitter.

To Enter for 1 copy (US/Canada addresses only; age 18+): Leave a comment about who your favorite tennis player is and an email. Enter by March 22, 2017, at 11:59 PM EST.

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My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella (audio)

Source: Audible
Audiobook, 9 CDs
I am an Amazon Affiliate

My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella, narrated by Fiona Hardingham, is a feel-good, fun-filled, novel in which a young junior assistant is able to get revenge on that incredibly flighty, inconsiderate, and mean boss who fires her. But there is so much more to Katie Brenner’s story. She’s leading a double-life — her Instagram account is full of happy pictures, events, and wonders from her life in London but her real life is less than stellar. She looks around her at her colleagues and wishes she could have their ultra-cool, happening lives, but the one she truly admires is her boss, Demeter. Her visions of the perfect life are shattered when her boss fires her out of the blue.

When she is forced to return to Somerset to regroup, she falls into a project she never expected to take off — a glamping business at her father’s farm. Katie is that wide-eyed young professional with dreams of hitting it big in the city, or at least meeting new friends and having fun. Like many young professionals, reality hits them head on and they must learn to rebalance their expectations and revise their career plans. Kinsella shines at comedy, and this novel is no exception. From spying on business meetings with a drone to walking around on a rooftop in stilts, Brenner is ready to grab whatever life throws at her in the branding business — especially a cute hunk like Alex.

Fiona Hardingham is the perfect narrator for this novel; her comic timing is spot on. When you need a break from your own reality, don’t hesitate to pick up My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella. It’s sure to have you laughing and secretly cheering on Brenner as she gets revenge on her former boss.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Madeleine Wickham is a bestselling British author under her pseudonym, Sophie Kinsella. Educated at New College, Oxford, she worked as a financial journalist before turning to fiction. She is best known for writing a popular series of chick-lit novels. The Shopaholic novels series focuses on the misadventures of Becky Bloomwood, a financial journalist who cannot manage her own finances. The books follows her life from when her credit card debt first become overwhelming (“The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic”) to the latest book on being married and having a child (“Shopaholic & Baby”). Throughout the entire series, her obsession with shopping and the complications that imparts on her life are central themes.

Mailbox Monday #418

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links. Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Martha, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella, narrated by Fiona Hardingham, purchased from Audible.

Katie Brenner has the perfect life: a flat in London, a glamorous job, and a super-cool Instagram feed.

Ok, so the real truth is that she rents a tiny room with no space for a wardrobe, has a hideous commute to a lowly admin job, and the life she shares on Instagram isn’t really hers.

But one day her dreams are bound to come true, aren’t they?

Until her not-so perfect life comes crashing down when her mega-successful boss Demeter gives her the sack. All Katie’s hopes are shattered. She has to move home to Somerset, where she helps her dad with his new glamping business.

Then Demeter and her family book in for a holiday, and Katie sees her chance. But should she get revenge on the woman who ruined her dreams? Or try to get her job back? Does Demeter – the woman with everything – have such an idyllic life herself? Maybe they have more in common than it seems.

Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella, narrated by Clare Corbett, from Audible.

Becky is on a major rescue mission through the American West to Las Vegas! Her father has vanished from Los Angeles on a mysterious quest with the husband of Becky’s best friend, Suze. Becky’s mum is hysterical; Suze is flat-out desperate. Worse, Becky must tolerate an enemy along for the ride, who she’s convinced is up to no good.

Determined to get to the bottom of why her dad has disappeared, help Suze, contain the dreaded Alicia, and reunite her fractured family, Becky knows that she must marshal all her trademark ingenuity. The result: her most outrageous and daring plan yet!

But just when her family needs her more than ever, can Becky pull it off?

Wonder Woman Psychology: Lassoing the Truth by Trina Robbins, Travis Langley, and Mara Wood, an unexpected surprise.

For 75 years, Wonder Woman has served as an inspiration to people everywhere. Wonder Woman Psychology examines this powerful superhero—who was created by famous psychologist William Moulton Marston—through 20 essays. This collection will analyze:

Marston’s important role in the history of forensic psychology
How Diana’s relationship with her mother and Amazonian sisters shapes her to become a leader and the heroine called Wonder Woman
The ways differences in culture and gender can contribute to alienation but also to personal empowerment. What roles emotion, strengths, virtues, and culture shock play in heroic behavior

Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures photographs by Joel Sartore, poems by Kwame Alexander for review.

A howling wolf, a stalking tiger, a playful panda, a dancing bird – pairing the stunning photography of National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore with the delicate poetry of Newbery award-winning author Kwame Alexander, this lush picture book celebrates the beauty, diversity, and fragility of the animal world.

Featuring more than 40 unique animal portraits, the pages invite kids to explore each creature’s markings, textures, and attributes in stunning detail, while calling on all of us to help protect each and every one. Three picture-packed gatefolds inside showcase even more familiar and exotic species. These images are part of Sartore’s lifelong project to photograph every animal in the world, with special attention given to disappearing and endangered species.

What did you receive?