Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Guest Post & Giveaway with Karen White for her new release Falling Home

I am a fan of Karen White's writing and loved her novel On Folly Beach that I read and reviewed this summer (read my review here). I'm excited to tell you about Karen White's newest release, Falling Home. 

FALLING HOME was originally published in 2002, and is being released again on November 2, 2010 in response to the many readers who reached out after unsuccessfully searching for the out-of-print novel. It has been extensively revised for this new publication. “Readers told me they loved the story and characters, so it was hard to see what I might change,” says Karen regarding the revisions. “Then it clicked. I didn’t want to change the story. I wanted to change some of the writing—to take the experience and education of having written nine other novels and to work at creating a better book.”

Karen brings her readers to small-town Georgia where "everybody is somebody" and attempts to answer the question, "Can you really ever go home again?"

Cassie Madison, estranged from her sister, returns home to be with her dying father, intending to leave the sleepy Georgia town immediately after his funeral. Unexpectedly, she inherits the family home. Now she has to stay in Walton until it sells...which happens to be just long enough for her to learn how the power of family, memories and a former love can lead to the most amazing discoveries
Karen White has graciously written a guest post to share with you her thoughts about the Life of a Writer. I think that you'll enjoy Karen's honesty and sense of humor as well.

The Glamorous < cough > Life of a Writer

People are surprised when I tell them that my life isn’t glamorous. Sure, my thirteenth novel is about to hit bookstores, and I’m having a big launch party to celebrate before heading out on a three-week media/booksigning tour where I get to wear cool outfits and heels. But at the moment, I’m dressed like a homeless woman because I’m in the midst of deadline dementia (I have a book due in two weeks), I’ve had eyes rolled at me by 16-year-old son at least twice in the last hour, I’m sitting on a bed covered with three loads of unfolded laundry, and I’m thinking I need to take the dog to the vet tomorrow because he’s chewing on his leg which means his seasonal allergies are back.
See what I mean?
Sure, I get lots of fan mail—my favorite part of this job—but all I have to do is glance up at the sticky kitchen counters, the shoes, text books, and sports apparatus scattered liberally around the house like pepper on scrambled eggs, and I’m back to the reality of my non-glamorous life.
I don’t want to burst anybody’s fantasy bubble, but I feel a dire need to set the record straight. I’ve written the first two books in a mystery series set in Charleston, what readers fondly call “the Tradd Street series.” Unfortunately, books #3 and #4 in the series are coming out two years apart because I simply couldn’t fathom keeping up with writing two books a year and having a life, glamorous or otherwise. When I mentioned this at a book club, the readers—and I love them all!—were up in arms that they would have to wait so long between installments. I told them if I could get the two teenagers, husband, guinea pig, and dog to move in with them for a year, I might be able to write a bit faster. Oddly enough, I didn’t have any takers.
Yesterday, as I was cleaning dog vomit from the back seat of my car, I found myself wondering why I make my life so crazy. Why do I have to write? Couldn’t I just keep to a leisurely schedule of a book every five years or so? The answer is easy: no. Writing isn’t just something I do—it’s who I am. When I get a story snagged in my brain, I’m compelled to write it—even if it means carting my laptop to the carpool line, the horse barn, the football field or the laundry room to get it written.
In my November book, Falling Home, the protagonist, Cassie Madison, finds out almost too late the importance of family, home and belonging, and of being around people who have known you forever and love you anyway.
I don’t want to be like Cassie at the beginning of the book before her eyes are opened; I never want to take for granted my children or husband, or any of the people who are important to me. I want to spend time with them now instead of putting it off to some later time when I think I’ll have more time. Even if it means getting less sleep than I should, and sometimes greeting my son when he comes home from school at 3:30 in the afternoon while still wearing the pajamas I wore when he left at 7:00 that morning. I manage to prioritize and get the important things done—and if I don’t always look glamorous while doing it, so be it.
My life might not be glamorous, but it’s mine, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Besides, my children won’t be teenagers forever, and before long I’ll have a quiet, orderly life and house, and they’ll be calling me and telling me how wonderful I am and asking for my advice about life. And if that doesn’t happen, then I’ll just have to write them into my books so I can bend them to my will. Hey, I’m the writer and in my world, fantasies happen.

Thanks to Karen White for her honesty and humor and sharing what Life as a Writer is all about in her life. It's hard work and as readers we need to be patient and supportive of our favorite authors works. I loved the book club story and how an author deals with daily stresses just like anyone else! Check out more information at Karen White's website, here.


I am excited to tell you that you have the opportunity to win your own copy of FALLING HOME! I have one copy to give away to a lucky winner.

All you have to do is leave a comment, make sure to include your email address so that I can contact you if you are a winner. Otherwise, I won't be able to include your name in the drawing. Open to US & Canada only. Books will ship directly to the winners. Enter by November 14, 2010.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

October Book Club & Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Description: In the opening pages of Jamie Ford’s stunning debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle’s Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.

This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry’s world is a jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father, who is obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While “scholarshipping” at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship–and innocent love–that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end, and that their promise to each other will be kept.

Forty years later, Henry Lee is certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko. In the hotel’s dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family’s belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to measure. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to find his voice–words that might explain the actions of his nationalistic father; words that might bridge the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son; words that might help him confront the choices he made many years ago.

My book club met this week and we discussed Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. I had read and reviewed the book here on my blog last year so I was excited to talk about this wonderful book.  It was unanimous that everyone liked the book and we had a great discussion about asian culture, the Japanese internment camps, how culture and tradition can effect family relationships as well as trust. We had a thoughtful discussion about forgiveness and the question was asked, can you ever forgive someone for doing something that changes the course of your life?  There was so much to discuss about the Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. It made for a great book to discuss with a book club.

Next up is Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón Carlos Ruiz Zafón for November. In December, we're discussing Mermaids in the Basement by Michael Lee West and we will be having our annual book exchange for the holidays. If you're in a book club, what are you reading?

The Shadow of the WindMermaids in the Basement

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Sunday Salon: Catching Up

I love the  Fall and change of seasons and my family and I took advantage of the unusually warm fall temps and we went apple picking last weekend. This is a picture from the apple farm we went to and we did get a ride on the tractor and picked apples here. We picked some delicious Jonagold apples and I made an apple crisp which is a family favorite. We had a great time but being outdoors among the rampant ragweed triggered my allergies. For some reason, I've acquired a severe ragweed allergy as an adult and each fall it gets worse even being on allergy medicines. I ended up having difficulty breathing by Tuesday and had to go to the doctor who diagnosed me with asthmatic bronchitis and gave me medicine and a cortisone shot which I've never gotten before. I'm better but still struggling a bit and hope that my body can fight this.

Apple Crisp Recipe from Betty Crocker

4 medium tart cooking apples, sliced (4 cups)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Cream or Ice cream, if desired

  1. Heat oven to 375ºF. Grease bottom and sides of 8-inch square pan with shortening.

  2. Spread apples in pan. In medium bowl, stir remaining ingredients except cream until well mixed: sprinkle over apples.
  3. Bake about 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown and apples are tender when pierced with a fork. Serve warm with cream (we prefer ice cream).
 *This is the recipe that I usually make and it is a favorite.

I've been working part time since August and that has been a major adjustment and has contributed to why I haven't been blogging as much. I do enjoy working in a school environment as an Occupational Therapist, it's a new area for me and I'm learning a lot. It's cute when the kids want to give you a hug or get so excited and proud when they've accomplished something new or reach a goal. One student brought a book to the therapy room with them and I had to ask about the series he was reading.  I've adjusted my schedule and work load and I hope to be able to spend more time reading and blogging. I am behind on my reviews but will get to them soon. I've been very selective of the books that I've accepted to review which are not many at this time. For some reason, I've noticed that I've been getting more unsolicited books for review sent to me in hopes that I'll read and review them. Many are not books that I am interested in and I would not normally choose to read. I'm passing them on to friends or will have a giveaway here and share them with my readers. The intention is to spread the word about new books, although I'd prefer to be asked first. 

Books I'm reading:

Out of the Shadows (Nal Accent Novels)
Out of the shadows by Joanne Rendell

Book I'm reading for my November Book Club:

The Shadow of the Wind
Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Audiobook that I'm listening to: