Out of This World

It’s the last of this year’s author interviews, and I’m ending it with a blast. Mary Davie’s main loves are reading and writing. Another interest, one that is the driving force in her writing, is science. Please give a warm welcome to Mary.

Describe yourself in 150 words or less.

I am probably thinking about this question more than I should have to. It’s just I am a bunch of different things. I’m that person that taught herself to read really early, that climbed the Apple tree (until we had to chop it down) to read books, maybe eat an apple.

Another part of me loves science; all we do know and all the questions that we still have. I also love the question ‘what if’. Put that with the science and I could write forever. And writing really is what makes me most happy; And reading. If I had nothing else in the world to do, I would just sit at a desk, write away; take a break, read, then write some more. Alas, it doesn’t work that way; Shame.

I am that person in the background, taking it all in; later it might show up in my writing.

Name one thing on your bucket list.

I’m not a bucket person per se – that is to when I get to the age where one might consider a bucket list, I hope I am done with everything so I can just stay home. BUT there is one thing which actually later in my life might become a possibility with commercial space travel hopefully opening up – I want to go to Mars.

Tell us about your published works.

My first three books make up the Sanacion series. It starts with Sanacion: The Black Hole Mission and that begins with all the calamities that Earth has to offer. Natural disasters and time is running out for Mankind. But Earth has a plan. 3 humongous ships built in the low gravity environment of the Moon: the Sanacion, the Memnoch, & the Clinton. This series follows the Sanacion & its passengers, the 10,000s of civilians on board, the servicemen & women, and their civilian workers. The mission of the Sanacion is to go out to V4648sgr a black hole, through it, into another Universe and find a new home. Whether it all works out that way or they take a detour, it leads to Sanacion II: We Are the Aliens and then the third Sanacion III: Remnants of the Dome. It seems to end there but after much demand, I am writing a fourth that follows the children of Admiral Stene Jensenn when they have grown up. Target Earth: You Only See What You Want To is my fourth book and was meant to be a stand-alone but early on my publisher got requests as did I through my web site for a second. I probably will as I am having so much fun with the question What if & what now?! They say Target Earth answers the question of are we alone in the universe, but it is so much more! It also looks at where the threat comes from … some might say from within!

What’s your favorite comfort food?

Chicken Pot Pie – the one where the top part is mashed potatoes!

Is there anything in particular that you love to write about, such as sex or mannequins?

My favorite thing to write about has more to do with a feeling than with an precise item. Sometimes when I write my mind just goes to the scene, like a movie but more – I am actually living, feeling, seeing what happens. It happens when I read a good book as well. So when ever that occurs (which is about ¾’s of any book I write) at that moment it is my favorite!

What is your preference when it comes to reading, paperback or eBook? Why?

I like an eBook when it is Fiction, if it is Non-Fiction I usually have two copies – one on eBook and one hard cover.

What is the worst comment someone has said to you about being a writer?

I guess I have been horribly lucky. I read someone’s review and felt torn to shreds and crippled. It made me question certain choices before I decided that no, I made the right choice. Then a friend read the review and asked me what was the matter with me – it was a good review that just said they would have liked more details about the characters physical description. Authors – we are kinda sensitive! But regarding that, I try to put in enough to paint a picture in your mind but not too many. I do check with my beta readers sometimes after they read a chapter – tell me what Steve looks like…

In regards to writing, what are you working on now?

One book working title ‘Resurrecting Earth: The Mission the Save the Earth Starts on Mars’, another which takes my Sanacion series (includes three books) and adds a 4th – when Steve’s son & daughter are grown up, and then I recently started a Production Company (Space Geek, llc) and I am doing storyboards at the moment for a NASA piece about the Journey to Mars. I have a book on deck & I am having fun thinking about it but I try not to think too hard and distract me from my current projects!

When you’re not writing, where can people find you hanging out in the virtual world?

If I am hanging in the virtual world I’m usually checking out science articles or maybe a NASA site or checking Instagram out. Some are for fresh ideas, others to check who thinks what and what neat stuff is now out.

Don’t forget to stop by Mary Davie’s Author Website and Amazon Author Page.

What ‘if’s” and Science,
Baer Necessities

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Rewards of Reading

It’s been a while since I’ve lost myself in a book, ingested the writing style, and finished with the proud feeling of ‘this is what writing is all about’. Over the summer, I read three books that I fell in love with for the writing styles, the stories, and characters. Fiction writing isn’t as easy as most assume. One must understand language, create a plot and setting where the reader can join in the journey, and flawed characters that you either fall in love with or hate. In my opinion, these books achieved and went beyond the fundamentals of writing fiction.

First Recommendation (Literary Fiction)

The first book I read was The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler. Now this woman knows how to write. Mermaids, tarot card reader, contortionist, a mute, and many other odd characters spun into a magical story. First line: “Perched on the bluff’s edge, the house is in danger.”


About
: The Book of Speculation is about a young man, Simon, who is lost to a past. His parents died and his sister, Enola, is on her own destructive journey. Simon struggles with the guilt of not being able to save his childhood home on Long Island Sound. His job is teetering on non-existent. One day he receives an old book from Martin Churchwarry of Churchwarry & Son; sent because he cannot sell it due to damage, and thought the family of Verona Bonn could use it. The book turns out to be a journal of Hermelius Peabody, the head of a carnival. While researching the book, Simon learns about his history and the fate of the women in his family.

Writing: I loved Swyler’s writing style—distinct, avoiding the regular verbs and comparisons. I’d like to share a few sentences that I highlighted. These are surreal descriptions. A reader can feel the emotion from the first one, and visualize the others.

  • Paperback, page 14
  • Paperback, page 108
  • Paperback, page 284
  • Paperback, page 317
“Hunger, his enduring companion, was all that kept him certain that he lived.”
“She is frenzied motion, elbows flinging, hips shimmying, dancing and detonating.”
“The bald back of his head shone in the moonlight as the river coursed over it like a stone”
“The house is in silhouette, hanging off the cliff’s edge, tilting like an Irishman’s cap.”

But her style of writing wasn’t the only thing that captured my attention. Her story and characters were quirky, awkward, and weird, something you don’t find in many books. The past winds up colliding with the present, exploding secrets, bringing understanding and release to the characters so they could move on.

Second Recommendation (Young Adult)

My second book is Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira. I’m not one for young adult books, but this one is an eye-catcher. It doesn’t have the immature feel or regular subject matter I often notice in young adult. Famous dead people, teenager, letter assignment weaves a story of loss and recovery. First line: “Dear Kurt Cobain, Mrs. Buster gave us our first assignment in English today, to write a letter to a dead person.”

About: As the first line reveals, this is about a girl, Laurel, whose first assignment in a new school is to write a letter to a dead person. What was supposed to be a one-letter assignment, turns into a year of writing to dead people to help her overcome the loss of innocence, the death of her sister, and her mother moving away. Laurel speaks to the dead about her experiences, falling in love, grappling with her mother’s departure and her sister’s absence. In turn, her search into their lives answers some questions, and in the end, lets her forgive and heal.

Writing: Even though the story is told through a teenager, the style of writing is poignant. Of course, this might have affected me more than others since I recently lost my sister, but it doesn’t change the fact that Dellaira knows how to grasp a reader’s emotions. Here are a few descriptions I highlighted:

  • Paperback, page 9
  • Paperback, page 26
  • Paperback, page 101
“You used your voice like glue to keep your family together.”
“Each word felt like its own stone, falling to the bottom of a lake.”
“…how there is something fragile like moths inside of him, something fluttering, Something trying desperately to crowd toward a light … Even if I am only Sky’s street lamp, I don’t mind. It’s enough to be what he moves toward.”

Dellaira delves into feelings as her character, Laurel, researches and tries to understand a famous dead person’s actions or words. It’s touching and therapeutic to know that others struggle with depression and hardships, and Laurel connects with the dead through her writings. The letters are her survival manual as she finally learns to stop blaming herself and begins to mend.

Third Recommendation (Literary Fiction / Humorous)

The third story is The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. I hadn’t even heard about this book when it was chosen by my book club. To date, not one of the book club choices heightened my love for words and writing. In fact, majority of the books we read were angry or depressing, so the opportunity to read something funny was refreshing. Books, baby, reading, infidelity, death, romance create this funny, eccentric story. First line: “On the ferry from Hyannis to Alice Island, Amelia Loman paints her nails yellow and, while waiting for them to dry, skims her predecessor’s notes.”

About: The title says it’s about the storied life of A.J. Fikry, but it’s so much more. A.J. Fikry owns a struggling bookstore on Alice Island. A lifelong curmudgeon, his misery increased after the loss of his wife. He lashes out at the community and publishers’ sales reps. Love of drink and little money, sarcastic A.J. has a priceless book stolen from him, and is given a small gift with ten fingers and toes. His interactions with Amelia, the new sales rep, and the baby girl left in his bookshop tilts his sorry world. A.J. acquires feelings for Amelia, a romantic, raises baby Mia, and soon finds that there is life beyond books.

Writing: Zevin has a way with humor. Her peculiar characters add zest to the story, and I found myself laughing aloud. Several secondary characters clash yet compliment A.J. Here are a few highlighted lines:

  • Paperback, page 72
  • Paperback, page 77
“…despite the fact that A.J. does not believe in God, he closes his eyes and thanks whomever, the higher power, with all his porcupine heart.”
“His breath smells like socks wet from snow.”

A.J. is not your typical bookworm. His pretentious, judgmental attitude doesn’t bode well with many. Recently losing his wife, thinking everyone is stupid, his circumstances are met with humor and hope. Behind A.J.’s disgruntled fits reveals a man with a big heart.

Reading and Engagement,
Baer Necessities

 

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Vacation, All I Ever Wanted!

Hello Everyone!

I hope you’re enjoying the summer vacations. I’ll be taking several weeks off from blogging to take advantage of the rest of my husband’s summer break. During this time, I plan on taking more bike rides (our longest one this summer only being 24 miles), reading, writing, doing daily excursions, and taking in the views of South Wales, UK.

See you at the end of summer!

Resting, Excursions, and Vacation,
Baer Necessities

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A Slice of Tale

Pizza comes in all sizes, shapes, and desires. Ooey Gooey. Crisp. Stuffed pizza. Thin crust. Stuffed crust. There’s the soft, flaky crust, wood fired oven crispy, bubble crust, a butter crust, and many more. We all have our favorites. Some of our likings have probably changed over the years too. When I was younger, I loved the thin crust piled with cheese, sausage, onions, and green peppers—the oil glistening and pooling on top of the pizza. I’d eat the tiny crust ends and then go for the middle squares. Being a Chicagoan, Giordano’s stuffed spinach pizza was also a favorite of mine.

In my 20s, my friends and I went to Las Vegas. I didn’t have much money with me, so one evening, while a few friends saw a live show, another friend and I stayed in the hotel room and ordered pizza. It was the worst pizza ever. The crust tasted like cardboard, and the uncooked fixings were piled on top. At that time, I swore I’d never order a pizza outside of Chicago again.

Now, I’ve experienced pizza in Spain and Italy, and I’m in love with it. The first time I had a super thin crust pizza was at an Italian restaurant in Spain. It was a big individual pizza, but not as filling as the pizzas I grew up eating. The crust is extremely thin with crisp air bubbled sides, and thin layers of toppings. Sauce and cheese doesn’t smother the crust. When we make pizza at home, we try to get the crust super thin.

My love of pizza has changed over the years, similar to my books. The first books I read were Sidney Sheldon’s (also a Chicagoan) romantic suspense novels. I refused to read anything other him, until I reached for a Mary Higgins Clark suspense novel, and Victoria Holt’s gothic romance. Holt wrote in several genres under different pen names. These authors were the stepping-stones to various other writers and works, but at the time, I was hooked on their writing of romance and suspense.

As I recall, the only descriptive writer was Holt. The sad thing is, I can’t recall my favorite books of these authors. What I do remember is how the books glided along without in depth description. They kept my attention with suspense. From there, I moved onto Sandra Brown, another suspense writer with just the right amount of description for me. It’s no wonder my first novel turned out to be a dark, psychological suspense thriller.

Nowadays, I tend to read a lot of literary fiction; stories about ‘real’ people living or battling extraordinary lives. These are the reads I love, and for some reason can’t branch out. My favorites being, A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving; The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon; Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys; The Book Thief by Markus Zusak; The Red Tent by Anita Diamant; and I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb. The things these writers have in common are lush characters, they can paint a picture without purple prose, and their stories consist of courage, love, trust, and strength. Since I began reading for enjoyment, I realize that I’m not one who likes too much description, which sometimes can create redundancy. The layers of these stories are evenly distributed, not too much stuff on top of the main plot, and the right amount of character build to hate or love them.

Looking back at the changes in my life, the one thing I realize is how my writing reflects my reading styles—how reading adventures have transferred into my own writing. As a writer, I try to focus on building characters, making them flawed, likeable, and in some cases, hated. I’m also one who tries to spread description out to build characters and plot without leaving clumps along the way. All I can hope is that readers like my writing style.

How do you like your pizza? Do you read books loaded with description? Does your writing reflect your preferred reading style?

Pizza, Reading, and Writing,
Baer Necessities

Surviving Writer

It’s author interview day today, and I’d like to introduce you to Jana Robison. A sucker for cats and dogs, Jana embraces her nerdiness, and shares her writings with us along with a little bit of her blessed life. Please welcome her and enjoy the interview.

Describe yourself in 150 words or less.

Hello! I am a (semi) retired mother, and grandmother, who is a transplant in the big ole state of Texas. I love to draw and write, and although I truly suck at it, I’m a wannabe gardener! I am a nerd, always have been, and I must have the word ‘sucker’ flashing in neon on my forehead it seems, because I seem to attract dogs and cats wherever I go! I am a little OCD, have fought mild dyslexia since being diagnosed in Jr. High, and have been accused of being far too perky. I am a two-time cancer survivor, and I am truly blessed with the support of my family, friends, and my beloved pets.

What’s your favorite first line of a book? It can be your book or another author’s.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Tell us about your published works.

I have 7 e-books available at this time.

1.  Shards of Illusion – Suspense Novel: Young college student Maylea struggles to keep her sanity as her nightmares begin to take over her life. Desperate to escape, can she recall her dangerous past before it catches up with her?

2. Catch Me When I Fall (Fang meg når jeg faller) – Women’s Fiction: Lina’s heart disintegrates as she realizes her beloved grandmother Sissel is gone. A surprise inheritance of Sissel’s diary consumes Lina as she discovers her grandmother’s long held secret, and sends her on a journey into a foreign world.

3. Me and My Bacon – Young Adult: Struggling to deal with her mother’s indifference, and the emotional turbulence of being a teen, Mera’s world is hard enough already. Her world is turned upside down by her mother’s abrupt decision to rip her from her fast-paced city life in L.A., to the backwoods of Vermont. Can she find a way to fit in and acclimate to her new world without losing who she really is?

4. Five of a Kind – Women’s Fiction: Cheli is exhausted. 15 years of non-stop work changed her from a popular orphan to a superstar, but her new life with Alan is suffering for it, forcing her to take a break. The sudden discovery of a secret sister soon creates more drama in her personal life than any of her on-screen characters ever had to deal with. The ensuing domino effect takes her on a wild, emotionally charged adventure.

5. Somewhere New England – Women’s Fiction: A bored young woman escapes a crumbling life and has to choose between the easy way out and the right way with shocking results.

6. 5th & Flamingo – Women’s Fiction: A borderline nervous breakdown causes a structured city girl to abandon her out of control life in exchange for the unorthodox characters living by the beach that embrace her into their world.

7. Mystic Sunset – Women’s Fiction: An emergency exposes that a young woman’s life has been a lie, and she struggles to uncover her true identity.

Has writing changed the way you read? Explain.

A little, yes. Writing takes up so much of the rare free time, that it has caused me to be more choosy in the books that I chose to read. When I am finished with a novel, and have more free time though I go back to exploring works I passed on earlier.

Which do you enjoy most—character or plot development?

Definitely plot development, my characters are a struggle for me most of the time.

In regards to writing, what are you working on now?

I have three books in the works. The main one right now, is a contemporary fiction that I am absolutely in love with already! I hope to have it published this fall.

Are you a “jeans, sit at your desk” kind of writer, or a “pajamas, stretched out on the couch” writer?

Oh definitely a pajamas writer, in whatever setting I feel most comfortable in!

If you were in a band, what would be the name and what kind of music would you play?

It would probably be something like Daily Daisies, and it would be Big Band era music.

When you’re not writing, where can people find you hanging out in the virtual world?

They can find me on my Facebook Author page frequently, and much less frequently on my Twitter feed. I work in the spring so I spend my precious free time writing more than being online.

I asked Jana to provide me with a picture of a place and time in history she would have liked to have been present, and this is what she had to say.

picard and qI know this isn’t an actual place and time, but to have been on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise with Captain Picard and Q, ah… I will forever be a nerd 🙂

And that wraps it up for today. If you’d like to learn more about Jana, please visit her author website.

Nerdiness and Support,
Baer Necessities