Book Review – The Decembrists by Kimberly Richardson

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Arranged in a chapter-a-month first person format that goes between the two main characters, The Decembrists tells the story of Sophie Joyce, a “young writer” (although she’s 37 and just now finishing her first novel), and Hilliard Ravensdale, a many times published author, who meet in a coffee shop following Sophie’s grandfather’s funeral and fall in love.

I’m going to stop you right there.  Because Sophie claimed she loved her grandfather and she was sorry that he was dead and all, but after the funeral, she went home, cried in her apartment for an hour – because it was cold?! – and then went to a coffee shop to sit in the land of the living.  Then she comments about shallow it must be of her to have to stay in the land of the living, even though she’s off for two days for bereavement.  And this is like, page four of the book.

I already hate Sophie.

I don’t care that she wants to be in the land of the living, but she’s so unaffected by her grandfather dying that she cries because she’s cold and then meets Hilliard in the coffee shop and goes on a date with him.  Let me tell you what I did when my grandmother died – I cried.  For three years.  I’m still crying.  Yeah, you put one foot in front of the other and life has to happen, but you don’t meet somebody and go on a date the next night.  You just don’t.

And Hilliard, well, he’s pompous and arrogant, and not unlike my last boyfriend.  And since these are all the qualities I hated in him, I’m not too pleased with Hilly, either.  (And what the hell kind of a name is Hilliard, anyway?!)  Oh, and in the beginning of the book, he establishes that Sophie’s black because, well, “I’ve never asked out a black woman before,” and “I never saw a black woman blush before,” and… gah!  Has he not seen black people?  And why was Sophie’s race so damn important when we don’t get any description of him at the same time?

So the story is a love story between the two of them [wtf], and it progresses a month/chapter at a time with the POV switching between the two of them.  Except that there’s not really any difference in the voice of Sophie or Hilliard, so if the chapter heading didn’t say a month and a name, you’d have to wait for them to say something like “Sophie’s birthday is coming up…” because there’s no other way you can tell.  Have I mentioned that reasons like this are why I’ve shied away from first person in the last few years?

I found some other issues with the book too.  In the exposition parts, the chapters are long and poorly organized.  Many of them could have – and should have – been broken up into a couple chapters.  They jump from one thing to another like crazy and just don’t flow well a lot of the time.  Also, Kim clearly is not a fan of dialogue tags – which is fine, I’m not either – but when you’re butting up what Hilliard said against what Sophie thought of the comment, you’re too busy keeping track of who’s talking to lose yourself in the story, which is what all of us want to do when we read something.

And there are some things that happen that just drive me nuts.  I know this is nit-pickey, but I don’t want to know who buys somebody’s tampons.  Ever.  (Unless I’m reading a coming of age book, I don’t want to read about periods, well, period.)  And not so nit-picky, Hil calls Sophie “Goddess” through most of the book.  I really dislike saccharine-sweet over-the-top pet names for couples in relationships.  And they’re writers.  I’m tired of reading books about writers when nothing extraordinary happens because of it (Stranger than Fiction is a great book about writers – something happens because she’s writing, as opposed to writing being all that happens.)

Anyway, as the book progresses, we eventually find ourselves reading things that they’re reading (ahem), and whatever they’re reading *should* be slightly indented as a block quote, but Kim et al have decided to change the font instead.  And it’s big and it’s ugly and it’s annoying to read for more than a sentence at a time.  (I would not ever, ever, ever read Hilliard’s stuff, btw.  Or his sister’s poetry.  Or…)

At chapter 12, the author messes with the book’s format a bit, and gives us a specific date instead of a month, and writes in third person.  We learn Hilliard’s secret… in a manner that I wish I hadn’t learned it in… and [removed because of spoilers].  Then there’s an epilogue in Sophie’s point of view, although it doesn’t say that, the worst name I’ve ever read in a book of fiction, and a nicely wrapped up twenty years following the story.  Just picture the bow in your mind, since Kimberly made sure that we had one.

Honestly, this book isn’t even a little bit my cup of tea.  According to the back of the book, “Award winning author Kimberly Richardson turns her literary eye to the world of sex, control, uprisings, secrets, and lies, all wrapped within a story worthy to be called modern Gothic.”  Yeah, all that stuff’s there, but it’s a friggin’ romance.  One more in the string of “hurtful man with woman who can’t seem to land anyone better.”  And I’m tired of this crap.

I’m giving the book a three out of five pages rating.  If you like that sort of crap romance, give it a read.  There’s a full story line here, although it needs a bit of polishing, and I’m sure there’s a niche for it that’s just not me.

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I don’t know why this is required, but here it is:

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book from Kimberly Richardson (independently of this)  and used in in conjunction with  First Rule Publicity and the author as part of a virtual book tour. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Book Review – Vine: An Urban Legend by Michael Williams

Title: Vine: An Urban Legend
Author: Michael Williams
Format: Paperback
Written & Published: 2012

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From the back of the book:  Amateur theatre director Stephen Thorne plots a sensational production of a Greek tragedy in order to ruffle feathers in the small city where he lives.  Accompanied by an eccentric and fly-by-night cast and crew, he prepares for opening night, unaware that as he unleashes the play, he has drawn the attention of an ancient and powerful forces.

So, I was actually really excited to get this book.  I’m a docent at the Parthenon in Nashville (only full sized replica in the world – look it up), so this stuff is seriously up my alley.

When I started reading, I was hooked from the first paragraph.  The chapters are really short – most are only a couple pages – and they flip between characters of all sorts.  And, it’s almost formatted like a script, which is unique but not weird since we’re talking about a story that takes place in the world of theatre, so you get somebody’s name and then the paragraph is their dialogue or thoughts.

This is both what I love about the book and what I have issue with.  While I love everything about this because of my background, I think that if you aren’t somewhat versed in Ancient Greece, theatre or the like that you’re not going to know who some of the characters are and/or you’re not going to like following along.  There are no transitions, there’s not a lot of development with people that the author assumes you know, etc.

And it’s because of this that I’m rating the book as I am.  While I think it’s awesome, I think that it’s going to appeal to a very specific demographic, and I think that if you don’t have the background for this that you might lose a little bit of the story.  I think you should check it out, but I think you’ll know in the first few pages if it’s going to be for you or not.  So I’m giving it a solid four out of five pages.

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I don’t know why this is required, but here it is:

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for review from First Rule Publicity from the author as part of a virtual book tour. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review – Legends of Darkness by Georgia L Jones

Title: Remnants of Life
Author: Georgia L. Jones
Written & Published: 2012

In Remnants of Life, Samantha Garrett, a working wife and mother, drops the kid off at school, and gets into a car accident.  How serious?  Human before the accident, she transforms into a vampire-esque warrior called a Samoda.  This is not your mother’s car wreck, people, this is a whole new kettle of fish.  (Or something like that.)

So here’s the deal.  I was really excited to get this book.  And then I started reading.

I’m not a huge fan of first person, because it’s usually done wrong.  And in this case, it was done wrong.  There are a bajillion different ways to write a sentence, but one of the traps I see first person authors doing is falling into the “I verb something” sentence formatting pattern.  Mix it up.  Give us some “Verbing, I something” or “something was verbed” or whatever.   Instead of “I hollered as I shut the bathroom door,” make it “Hollering as I shut the bathroom door,” and it reads a lot better.

Another issue I had was that the dialogue fell a little flat.  For instance, the kid is six and if his dialog had stood alone, there’s no way I would have guessed that.  (I was sort of thinking younger teen, actually, until the MC said he was six, just because he still needed a ride to school…)

With that said, this is a first novel effort from a new author (that’s not redundant; she doesn’t even have a list of short fiction credits) and a fairly new publisher.  She’s only going to get better, and the product is already beautiful.

The storyline pulled me in, and I wanted to keep going and turn the next page.  The character development was good and the creature building was good.

In the end, if you can forgive the first-person I-verb writing style, the payout is worth it.  I’m giving it three out of five pages.

I don’t know why this is required, but here it is:

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for review from First Rule Publicity from the author as part of a virtual book tour. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Writer Wednesday – Natasha Troop

Natasha grew up in Southern California and received her Bachelor’s degree from UCLA in Comparative Literature. She also holds Masters Degrees in both Secondary Education and Creative Writing. Natasha currently lives in the Phoenix area with her spouse, son, daughter and menagerie of pets, including a Basset named Moose and a very overprotective collie dog. Aside from writing and teaching high school students to love theatre.

*

Let’s start with the basics. Who are you?
I’m Natasha Troop…basically.

Tell us (briefly) about you…
Briefly, I live in Glendale, AZ with my spouse, my son and daughter, our five cats, two dog and a guinea pig. I make money teaching high school Theatre Arts and English where I get to practice my other art form, making plays. I have degrees in Comparative Literature, Teaching, Creative Writing and am working on one in Educational Information and Technology. I’m originally from Southern California and was originally considered to be male by some doctor but have recently corrected that perception.

…and a bit about what you’ve written…
I used to write lots and lots of little plays. Then I wrote some screenplays including a vampire flick that Lions Gate Films picked up, played with and then put on the shelf before giving it back to me and it is now being adapted into a graphic novel. I’ve published two novels, Lakebridge: Spring and Lakebridge: Summer. There are no vampires in either of them, but people tell me they are scary, so I’ll go with that as a reasonable descriptor. I think they are rather funny myself, but I laugh in the face of fear. “Ha! Fear! I laugh at thee!” Or something like that…

…and what you’re working on right now.
I’m working on Lakebridge: Autumn at the moment. It’s my goal to finish the cycle, meaning Lakebridge: Winter will complete the story of Stansbury as I want to tell it. I do hope I become famous and beloved enough that other people will write Stansbury stories, too. Maybe some Stansbury “ship” or slash or whatever. I’d like to read it, but not write it. When I’m done in Stansbury, I’m gonna build me a pyramid in the Arizona desert.

What are your earliest book-related memories?
Two. When I was very young, I read a book called Supership (which I have just looked up on Amazon to discover was not a thriller as I imagined in retrospect that it might be but actually a history of oil tankers…I now want to write a thriller called Supership…damned you Neil Mostert!), reading for words and not understanding, apparently. I also remember reading a book called Fire Sale which had a character named Captain Fuck. Seriously. I wrote a book report on it and talked about how Captain Fuck was my favorite character and, needless to say, meetings were held between my teacher and mother regarding my reading material.

What are your three favorite books?
Can anyone actually answer this? Okay. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Foucault’s Pendulum and Tir Na n’Og by Marni Troop.

How many books to do you read at any given time? What are you reading now?
Usually I’m stuck in four or five. Right now, I’m reading The Master and Margarita, Oath of Fealty, The Book of Paul, and the second book in the Tir Na n’Og saga.

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___
Sadly fall asleep…I used to have greater endurance as a reader. Getting older, you know.

To re-read or not to re-read that is the question.
Re-read! People should re-read my books all the time. They shouldn’t read anything else. Just my books. Over and over. I wish I had more time to re-read the books I love and read all the new books I want to love.

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
Depends who is recommending it and how much they pressure me to read it.

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
Very! Read Tir Na n’Og Book One. Book two is coming soon. Also, read the Riser Saga by Becca Smith. Anything by Robert Fleet, too.

What do you look for in a good book?
A fine collection of well placed words. Seriously, I read a lot of different things, but it always comes down to the quality of the writing. The best story, told poorly, is wasted on me.

Why do you write?
To make millions of dollars and be worshipped by fans and have them write ship or slash fiction about my…okay, maybe not that. It’s something I’m actually good at doing and so to not do it would leave me with little that I’m actually good at doing.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
A professional fire watcher. I really wish this was something I could be, actually.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My life, the world around me…my crazy little cat who runs into walls. I see things and read things and it occurs to me to include them in my stories.

What has writing taught you about yourself?
That I can actually sit down and not only write novels, but finish them. It’s an endurance thing, really. I never thought I could make it through one and now I’m plowing through the third.

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
People tend to be impressed when they’ve discovered you’ve published a novel. They then proceed to tell you about the ones that they are working on. So it seems to me people in my life view my writing career as license to talk about the writing careers they would like to have. I’m their excuse for wistful self-reflection.

Are there any stereotypes about writers that you don’t think are true?
Perhaps that we live to listen to others wistfully self-reflect about their own desires to be a writer?

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
Grammar.

Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
Yes! I optioned a script to Lions Gate Films and didn’t immediately knock on every lit agent’s door and instead let that opportunity just fly away…it was a mistake at the time, too. I don’t know what I was thinking.

Is there a particular project you would love to be involved with?
I would love to be involved in a television series based on my novels. More than anything, I would love that.

How do you deal with your fan base?
I make sweet love to them. Seriously, if you are my fan, I will send you cookies. I love my fans.

Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___ about me.
My fans would be surprised to know nothing about me. I am the least surprising person because I will tell you or them anything they want to know.

Anything else we should know?
Should know? My blood is now 50% coffee, meaning that if any of my fans are also vampires (I do hope I have some vampire fans…and that they look like Eric Northman), my blood is caffeinated.

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Links you may be interested in:

Lakebridge: Summer

Paperback link: http://www.amazon.com/Lakebridge-Summer-Natasha-Troop/dp/1475124120

eBook link: http://www.amazon.com/Lakebridge-Summer-ebook/dp/B007QOS5D2

Lakebridge: Spring

Paperback link:  http://www.amazon.com/Lakebridge-Spring-Natasha-Troop/dp/1461122503

eBook link:  http://www.amazon.com/Lakebridge-Supernatural-Literary-Fiction-ebook/dp/B005067PJS

Writer Wednesday – Tonya Cannariato

A voracious reader since she was a toddler, and an ordained spiritualist, Tonya Cannariato has now presided over the marriage of her love of reading and her love of writing. She’s lived a nomadic life, following first her parents in their Foreign Service career through Africa, Europe, and Asia, and then her own nose criss-crossing America as she’s gotten old enough to make those choices for herself. She’s currently based in Milwaukee with her three loves: her husband and two Siberian Huskies. She suspects her Huskies of mystical alchemy with their joyous liberation of her muse and other magical beings for her inspiration. She loves to sleep, to watch her interesting dreams, some of which are now finding new life in written form.

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Let’s start with the basics. Who are you?
I’m a happily married Husky mom, with a day job as a web marketer.

Tell us (briefly) about you…
I was born into a foreign service family, so I’ve lived a lot of different places, so don’t have the firm sense of being rooted to a place I see in most people. In some ways I almost don’t consider myself American, since the culture still has the capacity to surprise me.

…and a bit about what you’ve written…
My favorite genre to read growing up was Fantasy, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that’s my writing inclination as well. On the other hand, my unconventional perspective bleeds into even that, so the stories I write tend to be a blend of several conventions. Demetional is mostly scifi romance, but it has components of spiritual inquiry and literary tendencies. Similarly, my debut novel, Dust to Blood, isn’t quite historical fiction (it’s set in 1992) since it includes a mystery and dragons.

…and what you’re working on right now.
Right now I’m hard at work on the follow-on novels in the Red Slaves trilogy. I’m hoping to knock out those drafts during NaNoWriMo.

What are your earliest book-related memories?
I don’t ever remember not reading, so some of my earliest memories were actually of reading books to my younger brother. I also remember my mom’s frustration with me, since I’ve always abandoned myself to the story, so she had a very hard time getting me to respond to questions or directions when I had my nose in a book.

What are your three favorite books?
I can’t actually answer that; the better question, I think, would be my three favorite worlds, partly because my favorite books pile up on top of each other as part of the world-building for a larger series. Top of that list is Anne McCaffrey’s Pern. She has at least 20 books in that world, and while some are stronger than others, they all represent a world that is my happy place. Next would be the experiences Madeleine L’Engle described across worlds in her Wrinkle In Time series. I love the intersection of philosophy and science and emotion she outlines in those books. Finally, in recent years, I’ve become a great fan of Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega series. The speculation about what might happen should the comfortable, modern life we live without magical beings be disrupted by their sudden re-appearance really makes me happy.

How many books to do you read at any given time? What are you reading now?
Mostly, I look for books that will absorb me to the exclusion of anything else so I finish them in a sitting. There are generally a handful at a time that I’ve started, but that didn’t suck me in that way, but that I’m also not willing to give up on. And, at the moment, I’m starting my second graduate-level class, so I’m reading a lot more textbooks and secondary research materials (i.e. non-fiction) than I typically do.

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___
tune out the rest of the world.

To re-read or not to re-read that is the question.
If I find a book that moves me, I want to live in it for as long as possible. That means I will return to that book on a regular basis. I think I’ve reread the Anne McCaffrey series a dozen times over the years. I see owning books as a reminder of what I enjoyed, and am wont to pick one off the shelf when I need to relax and reorient myself without reference to outside sources.

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
Highly.

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
Highly—in fact, that’s why I started blogging. Friends come to me for book recommendations on a regular basis, so I see myself as a bit of a book matchmaker.

What do you look for in a good book?
Clear story arc and character development, a strong sense of individuality and place, and some representation of the unusual. I don’t only read fantasy/scifi, but I notice that even when I read mysteries and romances, those that inject some sense of a world beyond our senses are the ones that resonate most with me.

Why do you write?
To read the stories I haven’t seen anywhere else.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
An animal hoarder. I’d love to have a huge space where it would be safe for wounded, abused animals to come for sanctuary.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My dreams.

What has writing taught you about yourself?
I’m more creative and more disciplined than I had imagined.

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
My closest family has been very supportive. I also get the impression that I’m a bit of an exotic creature to most people, so I have a lot of acquaintances and few close friends, none of whom have had much to say about my writing.

Are there any stereotypes about writers that you don’t think are true?
Hrm. I’m having a hard time refuting that; I’m introspective and observant. I don’t, however, always travel with a pen and paper. (For that, I have my iPhone and a cloud-based hook-up with my latest WIP.)

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
Making the decision to pursue traditional versus independent publishing. There are a lot of resources out there for authors who are willing to put in the time and effort one way or the other, but the choice is not dissimilar to choosing to give birth in a hospital versus choosing to pursue a home-birth—you make the choice based on what you’re comfortable with, and live with the consequences for a life-transforming experience.

Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
I’m not sure I’ve been doing it long enough to comment; I am worried that I’ve bounced among genres so much I’m going to have a hard time building any particular audience.

Is there a particular project you would love to be involved with? 
I have a couple of plot bunnies that have my name on them, but I have to stay disciplined and finish what I started, first.

How do you deal with your fan base?
With gratitude.

Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___
I seriously looked into becoming a midwife; part of the reason I wanted to move to New Mexico was to be near the National College of Midwifery.

Anything else we should know?
I appreciate all these opportunities to share my words with people. Thank you, Mandi for your time and effort with this interview.

Book Links for Dementional:

Paperback link –
http://www.amazon.com/Dementional-Tonya-Cannariato/dp/0615690602

eBook Link:
http://www.amazon.com/Dementional-ebook/dp/B0091VOOUQ

Bonus: Book Review – Dementional by Tonya Cannariato

Title: Dementional
Author: Tonya Cannariato
Format: Paperback
Written & Published: 2012

Mark Inman has two loves: particle physics and Sarah. Just moments after the wedding, his Higgs Bossom program work goes terribly terribly wrong, and he leaves his very new bride with the promise that he won’t miss his wedding night.

Except he soon finds himself in another universe, seemingly parallel to his, where he’s a lizard-esque creature instead of human.  Sarah’s still there, and she’s just laid three eggs, which they start to care for.  When he soon finds himself in another universe, where he’s closer to human, although able to climb and with much less body hair than he expected (note, I think they put this line in so you knew he wasn’t a monkey, but it seemed really weird to me), and it’s before his wedding to Sarah, and he has his parents and a brother (that he didn’t have in ‘reality’ or any other dimension)…

I’ll stop there.  The book is written in first person, and there’s not that much dialogue.  So for most of this, you’re getting the observations of the main character.  Unfortunately in this book, the main character is a scientist, thinks like a scientist, and talks like a scientist, so if you like big words that you’ve probably never had the need to use ever in normal life, you’re going to love this, because every now and then, the author throws one in that just kind of stops the flow of reading.  I don’t know if it’s the case of the author trying too hard or what.  (I’ll let you in on a secret about me – I’ve read thousands of books in my life, but I somehow managed to suck at spelling and vocab, so I hate reading books that feel like I need to keep a dictionary handy just in case…)

Regardless of the author’s intent, this comes across really stiff.  What I felt like I was missing was the emotion of what was going on.  All of a sudden the MC is a lizard, and all we get is “I need to find Sarah, and observe this new life.”  I wanted to feel what he was going through, suddenly being a lizard and all.  Also, some of the details that he feels the need to tell us just seem weird to me.  (Did we really need to know that he could adjust his wedding garb properly so he could get to his junk if he needed to pee?)

Also, there were jumps in story that really bothered me.  For example, a character that was introduced in one jump was in another jump, and there was no surprise that she existed whatsoever.  I would have at least expected a comment that said something like “oh, so she was here too…”

If you know nothing about the publishing industry and don’t want to, skip this paragraph.  But I got the book, and the first thing I noticed was that the margins were wrong and the paragraphs had an extra blank line between them but no tabbing.  Also, the font was not one we usually see in books anymore – I think it was Times New Roman; the font as sort of gone out of style in the past decade.  Another red flag was that the cover price was only $7.99.  I know that if you don’t know the business you might not understand, but the book is underpriced for the average market.  This is usually a dead give-away that there is something amateurish about the production of the product.  (Or, if not, you’re presenting your product this way and hurting yourself.)  Unfortunately in this case, it’s not just perception.  Oh, and I handed the book to a couple of other author buddies that are published together on a small press, and said “looking at formatting alone, would you read this book?”  They noticed more things than I did.

There’s also the issue of the title.  “Dementional” is not a word.  “Dimensional” is, as is “Demential” (although spellcheck doesn’t think so), and either would have worked in this case.  Clearly, I am very irked by little details.  If there was a reference in the book to why that was the title, I didn’t see it.

Also, for the record, I talked to somebody who has seen Cannariato’s other book, and she said the formatting in the other one is beautiful, so I don’t know what happened to this one to fall so far off the mark.

My summation is this.  If you’re an analytically and/or scientific person, or you yourself have traveled to the lizard dimension via a bump on the head, I think you’ll like this more than I did.  There were a few things the author did that needed a bit of tweaking.  And I very seriously think the layout issues need fixed for future printings of this book (which the author should totally do).  With that said, I think if you catch it laying around and need something to read, it’s fine.  Because of that, I’ll put it solidly in the three out of four pages rating.

I don’t know why this is required, but here it is:

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for review from First Rule Publicity from the author as part of a virtual book tour. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Writer Wednesday – Abigail Keam (and a giveaway!!!)

Abigail Keam is an award-winning author who writes the Josiah Reynolds mystery series about a beekeeper turned sleuth.

Death By A HoneyBee won the 2010 Gold Medal Award for Women’s Lit from Reader’s Favorite and was a Finalist of the USA BOOK NEWS-Best Books of 2011. Death By Drowning won the 2011 Gold Medal Award for Best Mystery Sleuth and also was placed on the USA BOOK NEWS-Best Books of 2011.

Ms. Keam is also an award-winning beekeeper who lives on the Kentucky River in a metal house with her husband and various critters.

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Let’s start with the basics.  Who are you?
Abigail Keam, born and bred in the great state of Kentucky, sired by Appalachian and Southern parents.

Tell us (briefly) about you…
I’m pretty much a stereotype.  I’m old, cantankerous and an embarrassment to my children.

…and a bit about what you’ve written…
I write the Josiah Reynolds mysteries or the Death By ____ series.  My first book was Death by a HoneyBee.  The mysteries are about a female Kentucky beekeeper who becomes an amateur sleuth.  I’ve been fortunate that the books have been so well received by positive reviews and awards like the USA Book News – Best Books List of 2011, which included Death By Drowning as a Finalist.  

…and what you’re working on right now.
Death By Lotto

What are your earliest book-related memories?
I have lovely memories of my mother taking me to the Cincinnati library and checking books out for me.   My mother didn’t drive, so we had to take the bus, walk seven blocks to the library and then back to the bus station.  I’m sure it wore her out, but she was determined that her children be educated.

What are your three favorite books?
Double Indemnity by James M. Cain
To Kill A Mockingbird  by Harper Lee
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

How many books to do you read at any given time?  What are you reading now?
One at a time.  I am currently reading Herakleitos and Diogenes.  Translated from the Greek by Guy Davenport.  You asked.

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___
I’m transported.

To re-read or not to re-read that is the question.
Everyone should reread the classics.  It’s important the people read the great books in all genres and streamline those books into our culture.   It’s sad that many young people do not know the great ancient myths or they don’t understand the meaning when someone says “thirty pieces of silver” or “the road to Damascus”.   Regardless of our ethnic or religious backgrounds, we should have a common understanding of our western culture.

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
Rarely.

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
Hmmm.  Next question.

What do you look for in a good book?
A good book will draw you into it.  That’s all it needs to do.

Why do you write?
I feel compelled like Moses in the Wilderness.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
A beekeeper.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My past.  My cultural identity.

What has writing taught you about yourself?
That I am a terrible speller.

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
They could care less.  Remember the saying that a prophet is not honored in his own country.

Are there any stereotypes about writers that you don’t think are true?
I think that they are all true.

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
To get an even break.  Thank goodness for Ebooks.  Also they are handicapped by their lack of education.  A person graduating from high school in 1970 is better educated than a person graduating from college today.  This is very true in Kentucky.  

Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
I don’t contemplate on them because it would undermine my confidence.  A writer shouldn’t look back but keep on truckin’.

Is there a particular project you would love to be involved with?
I would love to co-write a novel series with one or two authors that I know.

How do you deal with your fan base?
I am sorry to say that I am an adulation whore.  I just love my fans.  My Street Team is called Josiah’s Queen Bees.  Hokey I know, but I love it.  

Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___ about me.
That I was surprised when my readers told me that the Josiah Reynolds series was funny.  I didn’t intend them to be.  

Anything else we should know?
Let’s keep a little mystery, shall we?

*

Links you might be interested in:

Abigail Keam’s Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/abigailshoney

Abigail’s website: http://www.abigailkeam.com

Death by Bourbon Paperback link – http://www.amazon.com/Death-Bourbon-Josiah-Reynolds-Mystery/dp/0615651593

Death by Bourbon eBook Link –  http://www.amazon.com/Bourbon-Reynolds-Mystery-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B0098BMV54

Or find Abigail on twitter @AbigailKeam.

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