Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Loved this novel: Garden of Stones by Sophie Littlefield

How far would you go as a mother to keep your child safe from harm? What could you be driven to do, if like Miyako Takeda in Sophie Littlefield’s beautifully rendered and touching novel, Garden of Stones, you knew that, ultimately, you could not be there to protect your young daughter from the horrible assault you know lies in wait for her? The answers to these questions would be difficult enough under ordinary circumstances, during peace time. But for Miyako and her daughter, Lucy, who are imprisoned and subjected to the inhuman treatment those of Japanese descent endured while they were kept in the U.S. interment camps during World War II, the times are anything but ordinary. When the story opens, it is some thirty years later, and a man, an American, who was associated with the camp, is found murdered. It’s a mystery and a source of terrible concern to Patty, Lucy’s daughter, when her mother is implicated. Unaware of much of her mother’s and her grandmother’s painful history, Patty assumes her investigation into the matter will prove her mother’s innocence. But what Patty learns, through a series of shattering revelations, will alter forever her ideas about herself and her courageous and lovely mother and grandmother. In this poignant narrative, a tragic history is recounted, and the true bravery of women and mothers is explored; there is the murder of a man, too. The ending contains unexpected twists, and a haunting question: Who is really responsible? Who committed the more heinous crime?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Inaugural Signing

On Tuesday, I signed my first book for Lillian Reitz, Community Relations Manager for Barnes & Noble's Champion's Village location in Houston. Joni Rodgers, a friend and critique partner, and a fabulous NYT bestselling author (and an "auntie" to this venture, for which I thank heaven!) took time from her busy schedule to drive down with me to see Lillian and talk to her about the possibility of doing a book launch event for EVIDENCE OF LIFE there. Champions Village is in a busy shopping center, on a busy north Houston street, and yet when you walk inside, you are instantly impressed with a sense of coziness, of welcome. Of course, there's the wonderful smell of books in the air, dozens and hundreds of books. And coffee. All kinds of coffee and assorted treats. But the best, or one of the best, parts of the store, and one of the reasons why it retains such a cozy, neighborhood feel, is Lillian herself.

Me signing a copy of Evidence of Life for Lillian - so fun!
Remember those little bookstores, the ones in the neighborhood where you could walk in and while away an hour or two or more, browsing and reading and talking books with the owner? Remember that lovely experience? That's what meeting with Lillian was like. I am more pleased than she can know that she agreed to having a book launch event there. It will be in April, and as soon as I have a firm date, I'll post it here on my website, but if you live anywhere near the Barnes and Noble in Champions Village, I highly recommend you stop in there before April.

It proves that even a big chain store can retain an element of something smaller and more intimate, something more personal and warm ... a bit of what used to be the charm of the Mom & Pop book store you loved going into not so long ago.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Announcing a Goodreads Giveaway!!

There are so few weeks left now until the launch of my novel, EVIDENCE OF LIFE, and I'm excited to post about a chance to win a free copy. Goodreads, a wonderful site for readers and authors, for book lovers of every persuasion and stripe, has 5 free copies to give away to 5 lucky winners/readers! I hope you'll click the link and hop on over to enter the contest for your free chance to win! If you're a book lover, but you aren't a Goodreads member, it's worth looking around the site at what's available there, everything from book discussions to book promotion. It's a great place to meet readers and authors and to discover new, fabulous books to read!

Click this link and enter for your chance to WIN a copy of EVIDENCE OF LIFE!!! Good luck and thank you to everyone for the boatloads of support! Please Tweet and Share as much as you like. The more the merrier!

Sharing the joy....

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Hello 2013! Guess what? You aren’t in Kansas anymore….

From my collection - loved these growing up!
I can’t think of a better way to start this new year than with gratitude for the last one. 2012 was amazing for me. Doors opened that I had thought were closed. Gifts of people, resources and opportunities fell into my hands. I have stood in moments of awed wonder. Who is the benefactor of so much largess? 

A few years ago, when the course and landscape of my life was suddenly and radically altered, I made a choice. I don’t think I was aware at the time of my determination, that it was bone deep, soul deep. Maybe I had even made the choice long before and the events that altered my course were a test to see how devoted I was to walking my talk, to being true to myself. In retrospect, the choice seems almost “other” in the sense that it was something I was aware of, but almost as if it were another self or life than mine. I didn’t picture the end, my destination, too clearly. The gist of my intention was to keep writing. There was no money in it, no security, no medical or retirement benefits were attached. I was essentially flying by the seat of my britches. I laughed maniacally at times. I cried: What was I doing? Why was I so stubborn? Couldn’t I see my future if I persisted in going down this path, a self-indulgent pursuit of nothing to nowhere. Who cared a fig what I wrote?  But nothing I said to myself mattered. Whatever was driving the whole venture had its own idea about where it was going. In the immortal words of John Candy in the movie, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, I was “a twig in the shoulders of a mighty stream.” That’s just how it felt and I would have enjoyed the ride a lot more if I could have loosened up, but I’m afraid I didn’t. I was apprehensive the entire way.

I mean most people, sensible people in my circumstances, would do the conventional thing and get a regular job. They’d sock away for their retirement. They’d have weekends off and paid vacations, get a new car every two or five years. Not me. I kept writing, submitting, collecting rejections, day-after-day, weekends and holidays, stubbornly, persistently, hardheadedly, doggedly pursuing this nebulous, at times I could not have said what it was, goal—for lack of a better word.

And finally, last year in the very early spring, a door magically opened, first one and then another, and almost before I could even register what was happening, I was boosted up onto a path I had only ever dreamed of. I will never be able to put into words the effect this has had on me. It is like the headiest cocktail, an effervescent mix of emotions running a gamut between absolute elation and delight and total apprehension and panic. I am still in awe and so grateful to so many people, who believed in me, who encouraged me, who caught me up and steadied me when the path was dark and scary. I am thrilled and grateful for those who opened the doors to me, for their belief and continuing enthusiasm.

But here’s the thing, the couple or so things that I think I learned … first when they say persistence pays off, it’s true. If you quit, you’ll never know. Doubt is fine, fear is fine. In fact, I think both are part of the territory if you are determined to pursue a vision. How could it be otherwise? A true vision is individual. There’s no handbook, no set of rules and it’s about as far away from convention as you can get. That’s scary. No way around it. The other thing may be the most critical piece of advice ever given to the world, and it’s been around for centuries, vintage Shakespeare: To thine own self be true. Goethe said it another way: As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live. 

It is out of the swirling, fertile darkness that creation comes and you will never know that place if you always adhere to ritual, the expected, what is familiar and routine.

As Robert Frost said in these lovely lines from The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a wood,
And I—
I took the one least traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

Life is vast and so beautiful and mysterious. And sometimes, when you jump off a cliff, you can fly.

I can only imagine the treasures that lie up this new year’s sleeve, but I think I’ll just go ahead and say thank you now. Happy 2013 everyone!