On the Road Movie

From P.C. Zick: While I don’t profess to be in the league of Kerouac, I did keep my copy of On the Road close while traveling down Route 66 in 2007. My novel Live from the Road is my modern female version of a road trip.

Live from the Road - a modern day, female version of the road trip

Shannon A Thompson

Website Update: 1:00 a.m.: My Facebook Author Page hit 150 likes today! Thank you for making my Friday that much better. 

Yes. This movie is based off of Jack Kerouac’s book, On the Road, and, before I continue, I have to clarify how much of a fan I am of Kerouac. I first studied him in 2010. I read The Dharma Burns, Big Sur, Desolation Angels, Visions of Cody, Maggie Cassidy, The Subterraneans, and Dr. Sax–all under Ken Irby’s poetic eye–and I’ve been in envy of Kerouac’s philosophic and honest writing ever since. (If you’re interested, here’s a list of how to write prose like Kerouac himself.)

But–back to the movie.

I’ve been trying to get my hands on this Brazilian-French drama ever since it premiered in competition for the Palme d’Or in May, 2012, but I couldn’t–for the life of me–find it anywhere. Maybe it was just…

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Jade Kerrion’s New Releases

I’m taking a break from Book Review Friday this week to catch up on my own reading. Here’s something from one of my fellow Indie Authors. Please note at the end of the post, Jade offers 50 percent coupons for her books. This is a great way to start the weekend. See you next Friday.

Jade Kerrion’s two newest novels, Earth-Sim and When the Silence Ends, are pulling in fantastic reviews. Please take a moment to check them out and take advantage of the book launch sale. Keep reading to find the coupon code!

EARTH-SIM

Amazon Rating: 4.8 Stars (13 reviews)

“Earth-Sim starts off awesome and just keeps getting even better…Ms. Kerrion has done an amazing job with her world-building…This is one book that I will find myself rereading over and over – and one that I will encourage all of my friends to read.”—Cara Drake, Amazon reviewer

Was the super-continent of Pangaea split because of a management dispute? Is the biblical flood the earliest evidence of why “technology and water don’t mix”? If you always suspected that mass extinctions, such as the Black Death, had an otherworldly reason, you just might be right. Is there a real message hidden in the mysterious manuscripts that human sages and savants have created through the generations? Is there life out there, beyond our planet, and why has none of it shown up on Earth yet?

Earth-Sim is a unique spin on the history of Earth and the history of mankind. What if Earth and the entire universe were actually part of a simulation program? What if the most iconic and memorable events in Earth’s history were decisions (or more frequently accidents) triggered by two college students, Jem Moran and Kir Davos, who are still sorting out the finer points of working together and more importantly, still arguing over the finer points of planetary management?

Bring your sense of humor. Earth-Sim is frequently whimsical and often irreverent. Either way, you finally have someone to blame for the state the world is in.

E-books available at Amazon, Amazon UK, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords

Paperbacks available at Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

BOOK LAUNCH SALE (50% DISCOUNT): Grab a copy of Earth-Sim for only $1.50 at Smashwords with coupon code MS68F. Valid until April 15.

When the Silence Ends

Amazon Ratings: 4.6 Stars (9 reviews)

“Wow! When the Silence Ends is captivating! I laughed, I cried, I could not put it down. Forget Harry Potter and Twilight…every young adult should read this book!”—KatRomeo, Amazon reviewer

When you choose your friends, you also choose your enemies.

Seventeen-year old Dee wants nothing more than to help her twin brother, Dum, break free from the trauma in their childhood and speak again, but the only person who can help Dum is the alpha empath, Danyael Sabre, whom the U.S. government considers a terrorist and traitor.

The search for Danyael will lead Dee and Dum from the sheltered protection of the Mutant Affairs Council and into the violent, gang-controlled heart of Anacostia. Ensnared by Danyael’s complicated network of friends and enemies, Dee makes her stand in a political and social war that she is ill equipped to fight. What can one human, armed only with her wits and pepper spray, do against the super-powered mutants who dominate the Genetic Revolution?

America, nevertheless, is ripe for transformation. Exhausted by decades of belligerence between humans and their genetic derivatives–the clones, in vitros, and mutants–society is on the verge of falling apart or growing up. Dee, with her sassy attitude and smart mouth, is the unwitting pebble that starts the avalanche of change. In her quest to help her brother become normal, Dee will finally learn what it means to be extraordinary.

When the Silence Ends is a Young Adult novel in the award-winning Double Helix series.

E-books available at Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords

Paperbacks available at Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

BOOK LAUNCH SALE (50% DISCOUNT): Grab a copy of When the Silence Ends for only $1.50 at Smashwords with coupon code FL93Y. Valid until April 15.

Find Jade Kerrion at Website / Facebook / Twitter

Author Wednesday – Chantel Rhondeau

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Welcome to Author Wednesday on Writing Whims. Today, Chantel Rhondeau stops by to talk about her newly released romantic mystery/suspense novel Crime & Passion.C&P_667x1000

Welcome to Writing Whims today, Chantel. I love both the title and cover of your book. Both definitely convey your genre. I’m always curious about author voice – I believe it’s one of the most difficult things to find. When did you first discover your voice as a writer?

I think finding your writing voice is actually one of the tougher aspects. I really wanted to be a fantasy author, and tried several failed attempts to make that work. I’ve always loved reading mysteries, and no matter what genre I read, I love a little taste of romance. When I read my first romantic suspense, I was hooked and knew my genre. After that, I had no trouble with my voice.

That’s great that you’ve found it and know that it’s what you want to do. What messages or themes do you try to convey to your readers?

The themes of my book seem to creep up on me. Always & Forever is about an abused woman running from a crazed stalker. However, it ultimately became a story about the aftermath of abuse and her rebuilding her life. Crime & Passion is essentially a murder mystery, but the subject of child abuse is important to the story line. I’m not trying to be preachy or force a message on my readers, but it seems the subjects most dear to my heart find their way into my writing.

Do you have a favorite character that you created? Who is it and why is it your favorite?

Madeline Scott from Crime & Passion is my favorite. She’s tough and sassy. She doesn’t back down from a fight and her sarcastic wit had me and my critique partners frequently laughing.

What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?

I love it when they say my characters are compelling and the book is a page-turner. This is exactly what I strive to create.

What is the message conveyed in your book?

Beyond my anti-abuse themes, I love the idea that love heals all. I like flawed characters who have to face their past in order to embrace their future.

What is the best thing someone could say about this book?

I love hearing, “I didn’t know who the killer was until the end. I suspected one character, but you convinced me it was someone else.” To me, that’s the perfect mystery, and the kind I like to read.

What type of research did you do in the writing for Crime & Passion?

I had to do a lot of research about court proceedings and police procedures to make things realistic.

Who or what is the antagonist in your book? Did you enjoy creating this character?

This book included more than one. I loved them all. It was fun exploring their motives. One of the “bad guys” is my second-favorite character in the book.

What else do you want readers to know about Crime & Passion?

I’ve talked a lot about the mystery aspect, which was fun, but the romance between Madeline and Donovan is central to the plot. I had a lot of fun exploring their relationship and watching as they fell in love. I hope you do, too.

I’m so glad you stopped by today, Chantel. I wish you abundant book sales and success in all you do.

Author PicAbout Chantel Rhondeau – Chantel once thought a great mystery or fantasy book with strong romantic themes was the highest level of reading bliss. After reading her first romantic suspense novel, she never looked back. Before long, the need to create her own stories took over. She spends her daytime in the clinical profession of medical transcriptionist, but her passion is in the blissful hours she spends with her characters in the evenings.

Chantel lives in the western United States. When she isn’t writing, she loves playing cards with her family and snuggling with her lazy kitties.

Read the first three chapters at Chantel’s blog: http://www.chantelrhondeau.com/2013/03/crime-passion-romantic-suspense-and.html

Connect with Chantel

Website: http://www.chantelrhondeau.com

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Chantel-Rhondeau/e/B008ZSM1KQ/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

Twitter http://twitter.com/ChantelRhondeau

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ChantelRhondeau

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6444354.Chantel_Rhondeau

Email: ChantelRhondeau@gmail.com

Buy the book

Amazon Kindle: http://amzn.to/Z24vsP

Amazon Paperback in Createspace Store: http://bit.ly/ZJDjOp

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/Ys0lHs

KOBO: http://bit.ly/Y8qWNB

All Romance eBooks: http://bit.ly/YnS2iX

Add it on Goodreads: http://bit.ly/14ZgyHW

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Write the Perfect Lead and It All Falls in Place

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By Patricia Zick @PCZick

“The young man huddled under a layer of blankets with a cap covering his bald head, as he talked about an upcoming trip to Las Vegas before he died.”

I learned a valuable lesson about writing a story, whether fiction or nonfiction, after writing my first feature article. The lead (or as journalists spell it, “lede”) of an article, column, or novel needs to hook the reader. If the first sentence hooks the reader, you have a chance of convincing them to stick around for the rest of the story. The sentence above is the one I should have written for my first feature on a nineteen-year-old man dying of cancer. I didn’t agonize over the lead, but instead sweated out the conclusion believing that was the most important thing. I knew he was dying; he knew he was dying, but I didn’t want the article to end in a way that drew the same conclusion for the reader. I lost a night’s sleep over how to end it, and suddenly I came up with a brilliant idea at three a.m. about the trip to Las Vegas, and I ran to the computer to finish the piece and send it to my editor at the local paper who was tight on space for that week’s paper. I made the front page, but the conclusion didn’t make it on page eight. The editor ran out of space and cut my final paragraph, which is the first place an editor on a newspaper looks for the extraneous. I was devastated.

Soon afterwards, I attended a writer’s conference. A columnist who I admired ran one of the sessions on column writing. I raised my hand and told him my story because I wanted to ask him question about how to handle that situation with the editor.

“Why in the world did you end your story with the best sentence?” he said. “Never, ever do that. If it’s so great, it needs to be in the lead.”

I’ve taken it to heart, but I’m not sure I always pull it off. It’s important to remember that the opening lines are an invitation to the reader. If they read one sentence, they might read two, then a whole paragraph, a page, and so on. It makes sense. As a reader, I wander the aisles of bookstores and pick up books with appealing covers and titles. I read the first paragraph, which is often one sentence of twenty-five words or less. If I’m not hooked, then rarely do I consider buying it. Writers must always think like readers.

Here’s some opening lines from novels to stress the point.

“Elmer Gantry was drunk.” Elmer Gantry by Sinclair Lewis

“Are you bored with sex?” The World is Full of Divorced Women by Jackie Collins

“There was once a boy by the name of Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.” The Chronicles of Narnia by Sinclair Lewis.

And my personal favorite because not only does it hook me as a reader, but it provides a wealth of information about this woman.

“She had slept naked all her life, and no one knew it.” by Eileen Jensen (I am unable to find the name of the book to attribute it.)

All of these opening lines urge the reader to move forward and find out more. Why did she sleep naked? How old was she? She’s most likely a virgin, single, and saucy, but those descriptors only intrigue me more.

Here’s a test. If you’re asked to send an excerpt of your book or the opening chapters, do you want to send something from the interior of the book instead? If so, it’s time to go back to the beginning, and start all over again. Even if you lose a little sleep over the lead, take heart. Perhaps the reader will too because you’ve so captivated them with your story. And it all begins where all good stories start – at the beginning.

 

First line of Tortoise Stew: “The bomb sat in a bag on Kelly Sands’ desk for an hour before she noticed it.”

Book Review Friday – Two Books by Lisa See

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

When I read Shanghai Girls by Lisa See, I didn’t put the book down for several days. The book follows the lives of two sisters, May and Pearl, portrayed as selfish, hedonistic young women 1937 in what some referred to as the “Paris of Asia” in Shanghai, China. When the family loses its great wealth and privilege, the women experience some of the worst tragedies imagined. Out of the great darkness comes a light  in the birth of the baby Joy.

Even though it’s hard to believe one family could endure so much, these hardships are a part of the world’s history whenever one form of government is traded violently for another. When the two sisters finally make it to the land promised to them through their in-laws, chosen for them by their parents, the United States land of plenty only comes to them through their labors.

The contrast between the two sisters is stark, but See portrays very well the different perceptions of each even though the story is told through the voice of only one sister. The choice of point of view adds to some of the suspense and tension in the novel instead of switching back and forth between May and Pearl. Pearl, the narrator, misjudges her sister and so does the reader. It’s only through the unfolding conflict that May is somewhat redeemed.

In the end, Joy flees the sisters who have raised her and fought over her love throughout the years in California. The book ends with Joy’s departure to find her father, which most likely will lead her back to China, the land her aunt and mother fled years ago. It was on their journey across the Pacific that Joy was born.

The ending of Shanghai Girls left me wanting more so it was with relief I found See had written a sequel. I immediately ordered a copy of Dreams of Joy. And just as quickly, I found the story of the headstrong Joy who throws herself at the feet of her real father, an artist still living in Shanghai lacking in the poetry I loved about See’s writing in Peony in Love and Shanghai Girls.

See researched both books extensively, but I could not warm up to the character of Joy. Pearl follows her to China, and it is the story of Pearl, who sacrifices everything to return to her homeland to chase after Joy. Her love and devotion moved me because her actions are unselfish and motivated by love. Joy reacts to life’s events without thought of anything but herself. As a result, she ends up in a loveless marriage of her own choosing. In the end, the love of Pearl rescues her.

I grew tired of reading the endless scenes of poverty and starvation and cruelty and deprivation. I feel selfish even writing that sentence because these conditions did and do exist for those living under dictatorships couched under euphemisms of social reform and power to the people. Perhaps that was See’s intent with this book – to make the reading of it as intolerable as the conditions she repeatedly shows.

Even though I didn’t enjoy Dreams of Joy as much as her other novels, I give praise to See for writing such detailed accounts of historical events that must be remembered lest we forget, and worse, repeat. Novels that entertain and inform stand a chance of making a difference, and I don’t fault her for doing that in both of these books.

I just wanted to be swept away by both, and that didn’t happen with the sequel. Two out of three books by Lisa See to transport me, isn’t so bad. Have you read other books by Lisa See?  I loved the first two so much, I’m willing to try a fourth.

 

NOTE: Fellow blogger and author Annamaria Bazzi starts a blog tour today for her new release. I interviewed Annamaria and two of her characters from White Swans earlier this month.

Blog Tour for White Swans: A Regency EraWhiteSwansARegencyEra for blogs

March 22:  Judy Shafer  a review
March 23:Reyna Hawk
 March 24: Jim Liston
 March 25: Chelsea Hammond
 March 26: Giulia Beyman
 March 27: Karina Gioertz
 March 28: Kate Jennings
 March 28: Lindsay Avalon
 March 30: Audra Trosper
 March 31: Carol Bodensteiner
 April 1: Leah
 April 2: Michelle Shriver
 April 3: DelSheree Gladden
 April 4: Judith Marshall
 April 5: Chantel Rhodeau

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Author Wednesday – Lucie Ulrich

typewriter.jpgWelcome to Author Wednesday on Writing Whims. Today, Lucie Ulrich stops by to talk about her inspirational novel Broken Vessels.

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Welcome to Writing Whims today, Lucie. I’m always curious about that moment when writers/authors can actually use those words to describe themselves. When were you first able to call yourself a “writer” or “author?”

About fifteen years ago, I started writing skits and then plays for my church, then for the school where I worked as a drama teacher. I considered myself a writer at that time because I was able to translate the written word into something visual. I never considered myself an author until Broken Vessels was actually published in 2012.

What messages or themes do you try to convey to your readers?

Faith and forgiveness are threads that wind through everything I write. Though my genre is classified as romance, family is my main focus. I’m from a large family, so I understand drama and misunderstandings, though I have never used a family member as the basis for any of my characters.

That’s probably very wise. How does setting play a role in your books?

My husband and I have traveled quite a bit over the years, and I always look for settings for my stories. I tend to choose smaller towns over large metropolitan areas, and so far mountains are always part of the backdrop. This Florida gal loves the mountains. Broken Vessels is set outside Colorado Springs, one of my favorite places, while The Rose Ring,(my next book) is set in the fictitious town of Elk Flats, Montana. I love the small-town feel and made up names.

Are you planning to continue writing in the same genre?

At this time, yes. Though it has always been my desire to write a mystery/suspense novel. In all likelihood, there would still be a measure of romance to the story – if I ever write it.

What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?

I love the comments I’ve received that state how real my characters are, but one of the sweetest things I read was this: “This is one of the most beautiful love stories I have had the pleasure of reading in a while.”

How did you choose the title? Has it been the title from the very beginning?

Broken Vessels was one of the first titles I came up with, and I never veered from it. My characters are broken physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I knew Emma would be a potter, so the idea of being clay in God’s hands brought me to the title. I was quite pleased that my publisher didn’t suggest anything else.

Who is the antagonist in your book? Did you enjoy creating this character?

There are actually two antagonists in Broken Vessels – one is evident from the start, while the other comes later in the story. In both cases, unforgiveness is the catalyst that drives them. Emma’s mother, Louise, is the evident antagonist, and writing her character was not only enjoyable, it was therapeutic. I love my “good” characters, but writing the “bad” ones is a great release. Without going into detail, a person I once looked up to disappointed me many years ago. Louise is a reflection, not of that person, but of that person’s actions. I’ll leave the other antagonist for my readers to find.

I agree that it’s therapeutic to write the “bad” characters. What book are you reading right now?

LOL! I’m actually reading yours – Trails in the Sand. I promise I’m not making that up. I recently finished Safe Harbor, by Nicholas Sparks, and just finished Hidden Under Her Heart, by Rachelle Ayala.

I had no idea you were reading my book when I asked that question. Thank you. It’s also funny and ironic in more than one way. The working title of my next novel is Safe Harbor, but I know I have to change it because I found during a Google search that there are many fiction and nonfiction books with that title. You just confirmed it for me.

Lucie, it’s been delightful getting to know you a little bit better. Thanks for dropping by my blog today.

Lucie Ulrich 4About Lucie Ulrich – Lucie Ulrich hasn’t stopped writing since her first skit was performed on a church stage more than a dozen years ago. An avid reader, she enjoyed sharing her passion for writing and storytelling with her middle and high school drama students. Recently retired from teaching, Lucie looks forward to leisurely hours of writing and research. Born in Montreal, Canada, Lucie now lives in Florida with her husband, Rick and their Jack Russell Terrier, Gracie. She has two grown children. Genre: Inspirational Romance.

Links to books and social media sites

Purchase Broken Vessels on Amazon, Barnes and NobleVyrso, ibooks, Google

Lucie Ulrich website: http://www.lucieulrich.com

Twitter: @LucieUlrich

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Write First, Write Great

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By Patricia Zick @PCZick

As I read about how successfully to market my books, I keep coming back to one word of advice: WRITE. To make a name for myself as a writer, I must always remember to keep writing. When I look at my discouraging book sales, instead of hanging my head, I must keep my fingers flying over the keyboard.

And when I write, I must write great stuff. Or at least, I must write pieces that satisfy me. It’s always true that as writers we must determine who the audience is, but that can be carried too far if we forget our No. 1 audience is the person cranking out the words.

For so long, I wrote with far too much focus on audience. When I worked as a journalist who depended on a paycheck, it was essential. When I worked for a state agency as a public relations director, there was no choice but to write for everyone but myself. But as a novelist and blogger, I am freed from some of those constraints.

By Jae at Lit and Scribbles

By Jae at Lit and Scribbles

When I published my first novel in 2000, I think I expected instant success. The day I sat in a bookstore next to a life-size poster of Harry Potter the same year J.K. Rowling became a household name and sold one book during a two-hour signing, I realized success was not knocking anywhere near my door. I wrote more novels, always chasing that nebulous dream of “success” and writing for that and not myself. I didn’t know what success meant, except as described by others.

“Send the book to Oprah,” friends said.

I did send five books of that first book to Oprah and her producers. That’s the last time I wasted my money so foolishly – even more foolish than playing $20 on a slot machine at the casino.

I gave up on publishing in 2007 and became a cynic about my chances for success as an author. I still wrote fiction, but put a first draft away in a drawer and actually finished another novel all the way through the editing process. Then I put it away in a drawer. And I continued to write for other people in a stilted, non-creative way. If you’ve ever had to write a news release in less than an hour with four scientists and the director of a state agency breathing down your back and shouting edits as you type, you’ll never understand how my creativity left me for a few years. It’s not recommended, unless you treat the job as a research position for your next novel – which I did. Trails in the Sand is the result of that internship. My next novel uses some of my research time as well. I probably have ten novels inside me based on that experience.

I’ve changed as I’ve moved into this new phase of my writing career. I’m no longer working for a paycheck. I’m working for myself. It’s been a strange transition, not always a comfortable one, but I’m growing into it.

I realized how far I’d come when I finished the final edits on Trails in the Sand. I read the last paragraph of the book and found myself crying. The story moved me. I realized in that moment, nothing else mattered. It didn’t matter what the reviewers said or if I became an overnight sensation or if I sold more than a dozen books. In that moment, I was as successful as any author can ever be. I pleased myself with my writing and knew that I’d written the book I wanted to write.

That profound moment forced me to make some changes in my day. Instead of writing at the end of the day after marketing and dealing with social media, it’s now the first thing I do. Writing takes precedence over everything else because above it all, I am a writer.

So write first and for yourself, and I promise you, the writing will make you proud.trailsbanner3web

Book Review Friday – In the Time of the Butterflies

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

Book Description from Amazon: It is November 25, 1960, and three beautiful sisters have been found near their wrecked Jeep at the bottom of a 150-foot cliff on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. The official state newspaper reports their deaths as accidental. It does not mention that a fourth sister lives. Nor does it explain that the sisters were among the leading opponents of Gen. Rafael Leonidas Trujillo’s dictatorship. It doesn’t have to. Everybody knows of Las Mariposas—“The Butterflies.”

In this extraordinary novel, the voices of all four sisters—Minerva, Patria, María Teresa, and the survivor, Dedé—speak across the decades to tell their own stories, from hair ribbons and secret crushes to gunrunning and prison torture, and to describe the everyday horrors of life under Trujillo’s rule. Through the art and magic of Julia Alvarez’s imagination, the martyred Butterflies live again in this novel of courage and love, and the human cost of political oppression.

My Review: Julia Alvarez weaves fact with fiction to create a novel that offers one view of life under a cruel leader, and she shows the courage it takes to stand up in the face of dictatorship. In the Time of the Butterflies mesmerized me from the first chapter, as told through the fictional voice of the only surviving sister, Dede. Each chapter takes on the voice of all four sisters in a way imagined by Alvarez as she researched the lives of the Mirabel sisters, known as the butterflies.

I was unaware of the history of the Dominican Republic until I read this novel. Of course, I’d heard of Trujillo and his regime, but I’m not sure I even knew which country he ruled. The period portrayed in the novel, 1938-1960, follows the life of the Mirabal sisters. Alvarez creates a fictional life for the characters that she says took her over the more she researched. Alvarez, born in New York City in 1950, was raised in the Dominican Republic for the first ten years of her life as her family supported the overthrow of the Trujillo regime. Four months before the death of the sisters, her family fled back to the United States. She knows of what she writes, and it’s not surprising a ten-year-old girl would romanticize and fantasize about the lives of female heroes in a cause supported by her own parents.

The result is the novel In the Time of the Butterflies, published in 1994. How did I miss reading this? I read her first and probably more widely known novel, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, published in 1991.

I’m glad I found it. I bought it last year from a bargain bin at Barnes and Noble, simply because I recognized the author’s name. It remained on my bookshelves for almost a year. Once I picked it up, I seldom put in down in the two or three days it took to read.

As a writer, I found the concept of taking real people and real events and giving them fictional dialogue, emotions, and actions, intriguing. Alvarez tells Dede’s story in third person. Dede, the second-born Mirabel sister, is the only to survive because she didn’t travel with her sisters on that November day in 1960. It’s a good choice, even though I questioned it at first. As the novel evolves, it becomes clear that Dede remained removed from the sisters in ideology and character, so it’s appropriate her story is told from a more detached point of view. Dede never really entered into the activities of the butterflies, and often objected to her sisters’ participation in the revolutionary activities, despite her love and loyalty to her family. It is Dede who’s left to raise the children of her siblings after Patria, Minerva, and Mate are found murdered on the side of a road.

Minerva’s story is told in the form of a diary, which is helpful in understanding how she became the first sister to begin to question the government. Throughout the story, she’s also the most radical of the four. Patria, the eldest sister, attempts to cling to her religion through personal tragedies and outside forces through her first-person narrative. The entries of Mate show the brilliance of the author when she begins with Mate’s chapters with immature, girlish diary entries written as a nine-year old. The entries show the maturing of a young woman, and perhaps Alvarez relates to this character the most since she begins her entry into the story near the same age Alvarez was when she and her family fled the country.

Patria’s story touched me the most. She struggled with her faith as she faced the loss of a baby and faced the fear of losing her first-born, a son determined to join the fight against Trujillo. One chapter, “January to March 1960” in particular, struck me. It begins, “I don’t know how it happened that my cross became bearable.” Her husband was imprisoned; her home had been taken over by the government, yet she found hope in that setting by praying to the mandated photo of Trujillo in the hallway of her mother’s home. She didn’t pray to him because “he was worthy or anything like that. I wanted something from him and prayer was the only way I knew to ask.” Patria says she learned the trick from raising children. “You dress them in their best clothes, and they behave their best to match them.” She hoped to turn the regime around by praying to his “better nature.” Through this simple prayer, created in the fictional lives of the women, Alvarez gives the reader a lesson on life.

Even though I knew how the novel would end because of the real historical facts, I was still mesmerized by the story as I read the account of the final days and moments in the lives of Patria, Minerva, and Mate.

It’s the same reason the ancient Greeks attended the same plays over and over again by the few playwrights of the day. They knew the story; they knew the ending; but they didn’t know how the elements within each production would be presented. A classic story withstands its retelling only if the artistic rendering is unique and suspenseful in the hands of a talented writer.

Alvarez qualifies with this rendering of the story of the las mariposas (the butterflies) of the Dominican Republic.

Next, I’ll watch the movie of the same name, starring Selma Hayek as Minerva.

See my post Weaving Real Events into Fiction.

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Free March 13, 14 and Giveaway

Live from the Road can be downloaded for FREE March 13 and 14. If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, here’s your chance. Click on the title or on the photo image below, and you’ll be taken right to Amazon.

FREE March 13, 14

FREE March 13, 14

Trails in the Sand feels a little left out, so I’m offering a free eBook March 13 and 14 to a randomly chosen commenter on this post for my new novel, Trails in the Sand.

Giveaway on March 13 and 14  - comment randomly chosen each day

Giveaway on March 13 and 14 – comment randomly chosen each day

Author Wednesday – Annamaria Bazzi

typewriter.jpgWelcome to Author Wednesday on Writing Whims. Today, Annamaria Bazzi stopped by for an interview with two characters from her novel White Swans: A Regency Era, the first book in a series about  an orphan who cries herself to sleep and only to awake in a Regency castle.

WhiteSwansARegencyEra for blogs

Patricia: Welcome to Writing Whims today, Annamaria. I understand you’ve brought two of your character creations with you for this interview.

Annamaria: Hello, Patricia. Thank you so much for having us over. I would like to introduce you and your readers to Kendíka and Saphora. Although I must admit, I’ve never seen Saphora, but she wouldn’t let Kendíka come without her.

Patricia: How did you meet Kendíka and Saphora and how long ago was it?

Annamaria: I met Kendíka a few years ago, but unsure of what her story was, I left her in her bedroom, or her prison, as she calls it. I remember she always sat near the window gazing at the three white swans swimming in the lake. I had no idea what to do with her at the time, so I filed her away in my mind. About a year ago, she decided to open up and tell me her strange story, which I wrote down word for . . .

Kendíka: That’s a lie; she made the story up.

Annamaria:  Please don’t interrupt; I’m sure you’ll have plenty of time to give your version of the events. Now, Saphora sort of popped into the story out of the blues . . .

Kendíka:  I think you have a very twisted mind. What is it with you and turning people into birds? It’s a real strange fetish.

Annamaria: Be thankful you’re still human.

Saphora: Wait a minute! I thought I was the one turning people into birds – swans, to be precise.

Kendíka:  How many pets do you have?

Saphora:  That’s not important . . .

Annamaria:  Excuse me! Are you telling me you have more than one pet?

Saphora: It’s a possibility.

Annamaria:  Wait a minute! I thought I was the author making all the rules.

Saphora:  Yeah right! Haven’t you heard that the characters drive the story? You, Annamaria, are only the instrument for writing the words in the word processor. (Saphora laughs.)

Annamaria:  I don’t think that’s funny. First off, you are my creation.

Saphora:  As I recall, you created Kendíka, I popped into the story, and boy, were you surprised when I did, and you’re still in the dark about my character and what I look like. If I choose never to reveal those things, you will never know me. The mystery will kill you. After all, you are the most curious human I’ve met thus far.

Annamaria:  I don’t like where this is going.

Saphora:  Are you admitting defeat?

Annamaria:  Never.

Patricia: Before this gets out of hand, Kendíka, can you tell us what you think of Annamaria?

Kendíka:  She’s a bit demented with a fixation on birds. I think she lost her heart a long time ago.

Patricia: What makes you say such a thing?

Kendíka: Why else would she change people into swans?

Annamaria: This idea unfortunately isn’t new; Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky comes to mind and the Swan Princess, a cartoon animation adapted from the ballet.

Kendíka:  OK, now you’re getting boring. (Kendika rolls her eyes)

Saphora:  We are gracing this blog as guests, and I suggest we stop arguing and behave; if not, I have the power to turn you both into swans. I don’t think our host would appreciate such an event taking place on her blog.

(Kendíka bows her head and turns quiet.)

Annamaria: I have more power than you can ever imagine, so I suggest you start to behave. I’m the creator and can definitely erase you from existence.

Saphora: Go ahead, I’ll allow you to believe it, but if you attempt to erase me, you’ll have no story.

Patricia: Kendíka, if you could say one thing to Annamaria, what would it be?

Kendíka: Annamaria, you’re a crazy woman.

Patricia: What about you, Saphora, what would you tell her?

Saphora: To be careful because characters have more power than she’ll ever imagine. Beware, Annamaria.

Patricia: Do you think you’ll all meet again?

Annamaria: Naturally, since White Swans is a series, we’ll be spending a great deal of time together, and in the next book, a new character will waltz into the series.

Kendíka: Oh boy, can’t wait! (she makes goo-goo eyes at Annamaria)

Annamaria: Before we overstay our welcome . . .

Kendíka: (frowns) Are you implying we’re being disrespectful?

Annamaria: Never, just rambunctious. As I was saying, I would like to thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to talk to your readers. Hopefully, we haven’t made too bad of an impression.

Patricia: I’m happy you stopped by. I’ve never hosted anything quite like it. I bet my readers are curious about these two characters.

picture for linkedInAbout Annamaria Bazzi – Although born in the United States, Annamaria Bazzi spent a great deal of her childhood in Sicily, Italy, in a town called Sciacca. Italian was the language spoken at home. Therefore, she had no problems when she found herself growing up in a strange country.

Upon returning to the states, she promised herself she would speak without an accent.

She attended Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, where she obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in computers with a minor in Spanish.

Annamaria spent twenty years programming systems for large corporations, creating innovative solutions, and addressing customer problems. During those years, she raised four daughters and one husband. Annamaria lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her small family where she now dedicates a good part of her day to writing.

Links to Annamaria’s books on Amazon: White Swans, A Simple Matter of Justice, and Revelation of Abaddon

A Simple Matter of Justice is also available on Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.

Revelation of Abaddon is also available on Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.

Annamaria Contact Information:

Amazon Author page

Annamaria’s blog

Facebook Fan page

Email: annamariascorner@yahoo.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AMBazzi