William Shakespeare All the World’s a Stage
Michael Drayton Love’s Farewell
Nikki Giovanni Resignation
Julia Alvarez Love Potions
James Weldon Johnson The White Witch, An Indignation Dinner
Claude McKay If We Must Die
George McClellan A January Dandelion
Josephine Heard They Are Coming
W.B. Yeats When You Are Old
Steven Dunn Letter Home
Raymond Carver Still Looking Out For Number One
Grace Conkling I Will Not Give Thee All My Heart
Margaret Atwood Variations On the Word Love
Alan Dugen Love Song: I and Thou
Langston Hughes The Negro Speaks of Rivers
John Donne The Computation
James Edwin Campbell
…and we continue with even MORE books!
Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
Fly Away by Kristin Hannah
Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella
A Step of Faith by Richard Paul Evans
On Bookshelf, Lonely, Waiting for Me to Open:
Sisters & Husbands by Connie Briscoe
Substitute Me by Lori L Tharpes
Longing by Karen Kingsbury
Loving by Karen Kingsbury
The Lost Quilter by Jennifer Chiaverini
The Showing by Beverly Lewis
The Telling by Beverly Lewis
Getting to Happy by Terry McMillian
The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson
On the Nook:
Dwelling Places by Vinita Hampton Wright
Coming Up for Air by Patti Callahan Henry
The Lace Makers of Glenmara by Heather Barbieri
Trails of Blood by Lisa Black
Save Me by Lisa Scottoline
In the Closet:
My aunt is one of those folks with books everywhere. In the kitchen. On the couch. In the bathroom. Basically, in every corner and crevice of her apartment. Often, I’ll drop by and find her reading one novel while stashing a sheet of folded paper in another.
“How do you do that?” I asked one evening.
“Read more than one story at a time without getting lost.”
“Easy,” she replied.
Let me be the first to tell you, people. It AIN’T easy!
I bought an electronic reader with part of my short-story winnings (which is a story in itself), but my new-found toy had no books, no magazines, and very little else other than what came with it out of the box. So, I began shopping. And I chose several novels and magazines, which I determined I’d peruse later, like when stuck at the doctor’s office, suffering from insomnia, or waiting on Thing 1 and 2 to wrap up practice. Meanwhile, I also checked out reading material from the library. (Why go on a buying frenzy when you’re on a budget)
Here’s where the problem started: I began Southern Comfort, also by Fern Michaels, but it was too depressing for my light mood. The guy’s family is murdered two or three pages into the story. So, out of restlessness, I began a book I’d downloaded by Debbie Macomber called Starlight. Not one of my usual go-to authors, but hey.
Then, yesterday, I added Save Me, by Lisa Scottoline. (Talk about gripping!)
Now I don’t know if I’m in a villa, a school, or the middle of a crime scene.
What I’m trying to say here is that…I can’t do three or four books at once!
Any suggestions as to what to read next?
Suspense has never been my thing. I can’t take it! That’s why I don’t watch serialized television shows anymore. Me? I just wait for the DVD and skip around as I see fit. To agonize an entire season over whether dude and girl are going to get together, or if such-n-such is going to “get the ax” (they’re experts on knocking folk’s off on Grey’s), is…too much for my brain to handle.
Same with books. I tried diligently when my book club read Stephen King’s humongous novel a few years back, the one about the rabbit hole and time travel and JFK. It was a true page-turner, so much so that somewhere or another, right around the time the lead character’s true mission began, I had to flip to the back, read the last five chapters, and then work my way through the middle.
I do this with magazines, conversation, novels. Everything.
Is this wrong? Is it?
Anyway, I realized that sustained drama and I don’t mesh well when I began reading Tuesday’s Child, by Fern Michaels.
I must admit, the story is/was/will be awesome. I say “is” because I’m still reading. I’m on the part where Sophie has been released and is hiding out in Hawaii. (I’ll tell you the gist of the overall plot in a minute)
The “was” is because I couldn’t stay up till 1 a.m. another night not knowing what was going on! And the “will be” is because I’ve now read the ending and know that this book is a must read.
Yes, I’ve somewhat spoiled the excitement and am not as obsessed with reading, but I’ll find my way back to where I left off and complete the book…eventually.
Now, about the book. Top prosecutor, Kala, represents a twenty-four-year-old nurse who is accused of murdering her invalid patient. The nurse, Sophie, is found guilty by a jury and spends the next ten years in prison. Meanwhile, the husband of Audrey (the deceased) gets off free because there is no evidence to prove he did it.
Kala never believed for a second her client, sweet Sophie, could take Audrey’s life, and has fought in Sophie’s behalf for the past ten years. But just as she’s about to retire and give up on the case for good, Audrey’s husband makes a shocking confession. Not only does he claim to have murdered his wife, but he leaves the entire estate (which his wife had turned over to him upon marriage) to Sophie. The only stipulation is that Sophie can’t come into the millions until dude’s death. And unfortunately the man is dying.
So Sophie’s lawyers sue the state for wrongful imprisonment, she gains the estate, and is shipped off until all the media hoopla blows over. Meanwhile, all fingers point to the jury and the opposing lawyer, Ryan Spencer.
Of course, nothing is as it seems. There are surprises, misjudged characters, and lots of secrets.
Find it. Read it. Let me know what you thought about it. Tuesday’s Child, by Fern Michaels.
It is truly an honor to introduce Ike and interview him for this blog. He is the author of Shifting Sands and mentor to yours truly.
Here is what Ike had to say on the process of writing, honing one’s craft, and the art of storytelling:
How would you describe your writing style and in what genre would you place your work? Would you say that you are more of a literary or contemporary writer?
I like to capture the details of encounters through beautiful prose and natural dialogue interspersed with sublime humour. Since I will abandon a book whose writing is not exciting within the first three pages, I try to capture that which I seek in other people’s books.
I write in the contemporary genre for now but I see myself settling into writing thrillers.
What inspires you? How do you generate ideas for your stories?
My inspiration is natural; I am a born storyteller. I like stories that turn conventional wisdom or assumptions on their head. So, I look for ordinary stories and garnish them to intrigue and to challenge the reader. Stories that will make the reader reassess long-held opinions and prejudice. I hear a lot of stories from people daily and easily choose which one to expand on and build a book around.
Tell us about your novel, Shifting Sands. What challenges, if any, did you face while writing the novel?
Shifting Sands is a story about an immigrant, Uche, who faced opposition from his family when he declared his intention to marry his foreign girlfriend, Thembi. Through betrayal, threats, and death, Uche and Thembi’s love was challenged almost beyond their endurance limit. You will love the book if you love African culture and their practices.
I started writing Shifting Sands when an attendant in a literary fair made a snide remark about unpublished writers. I wanted to prove to her that I could write a novel if I wanted to.
The challenges I faced were multi-faceted. I had to learn the craft as I was writing. So, I kept rewriting scenes as I learnt better techniques and ended up rewriting almost the whole manuscript too many times, which caused delays before its publication.
What would you say drives a successful story–characters, plot, or both? Please explain.
Both–because a good plot is needed to support strong characters. A writer must have a good plot first and populate the book with memorable and well fleshed-out characters. Without a good plot, your book will just be a display of good writing but devoid of a memorable story.
What project (s) are you currently working on?
I am writing a second novel, Not Of My Blood. Like my debut novel, this one will highlight the virtue of love and sacrifice. It is a contemporary fiction with some elements of crime and intrigue. I’ve left it now for six months after writing two chapters but will resume work on it by end of the month.
Any advice for newcomers just entering the world of fiction writing?
Take time to learn the “craft” of fiction writing so that you master your own style. Read good books, especially the ‘masters’ of your genre and take notes. Learn as you read, pausing to appreciate any technicality you noticed and needed to learn.
Make friends of writers, even poor ones in order to exchange ideas. There’s always something to learn from everyone.
Trust your ability and always challenge your ability by putting out your work to be critiqued in book clubs and websites.
Interview by Shonte’ S