Favorite Quotes on Books and Reading

"A book is a gift you can open again and again." Garrison Keillor

Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.” Jane Yolen

"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." Oscar Wilde

"Books have furnished, burnished, and enabled my life." Julia Keller

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

2016 Book 282: PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT by Sarah Title

Practice Makes Perfect by Sarah Title
ISBN: 9781601836854 (ebook)
ASIN: B018CGZ1JI (Kindle edition)
Publication date: August 30, 2016 
Publisher: Lyrical Shine

Sometimes the best surprises come wrapped in a bow-tie…
Helen Lee has a top-secret dream: to publish a romance novel. There's just one problem, and her most recent rejection letter doesn't mince words: Helen can't write a love scene to save her life. As Head of Reference at Willow Springs, Kentucky's Pembroke College, Helen is hoping her library research skills will do the trick. But she may have to resort to a far more "hands-on" course of study. Luckily, there's someone who's more than happy to instruct her…
History professor Henry Beckham has noticed that his friend, Helen, is behaving strangely. Known for her laser sharp focus—not to mention her snorting laugh—she's been oddly distracted. He misses that laugh. But it all makes sense when he catches Helen researching erotic writing and discovers her ambition. She seems to think her only option is to die of embarrassment or give up and surrender to spinsterhood in the company of her two basset hounds. Good thing Henry has a much more real-life approach in mind. And his tutorial just might teach them both a thing or two…

Helen Lee is a research librarian extraordinaire. Her colleagues respect her research abilities. Her friends like and love her. Her two adopted basset hounds, George and Tammy, adore her. The only thing missing from Helen's life is success as a romance author...oh, and having a love life. And apparently, the lack of the latter has gravely influenced the lack of success as a writer. The only thing left for Helen to do is research the heck out of sex/love scenes in Sarah Title's latest addition to the Southern Comfort series, Practice Makes Perfect.

Helen finally receives a rejection letter that provides constructive criticism on her romance novel. Everything she's written works except for the sex/love scenes and since the book is being submitted as an erotic romance there's obviously a problem. Fortunately, Helen knows how to research almost any topic. Unfortunately for Helen, her friends, especially history professor Henry Beckham, notices that Helen is not being herself. After getting Helen to admit what's going on, he does the only thing a true friend can do and that's offer to help her in her research and that leads to lots of kissing and sex. 

Practice Makes Perfect is, in my opinion, the perfect addition to the Southern Comfort series by Sarah Title. It is a fast-paced and enjoyable read that provides all of the hallmark elements of a Sarah Title read: sweet and sexy romance, sassy characters and dialogue, and humor. Seriously, what's not to love about a sex-starved librarian turned erotic romance writer and a history professor that hides his assets behind suits and bow-ties, throw in the two adopted basset hounds  and you've got the perfect romance read. If you've never read anything by Ms. Title and enjoy reading romance, Practice Makes Perfect may be the perfect entry into the world of the Southern Comfort series. If you're not sure about romance reads but want something quick and sassy to read, then I urge you to read Practice Makes Perfect. Just in case you couldn't tell, I enjoyed reading Practice Makes Perfect and I look forward to reading more from Ms. Title in the future.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated 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."

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Book Showcase: QUILT OF SOULS by Phyllis Lawson

Quilt of Souls by Phyllis Lawson 
ISBN: 9781507789759 (paperback)
ASIN: B00V8QTPXS (Kindle edition)
Publication date: March 13, 2015 

Like many Black Americans of the mid-twentieth century, Phyllis Lawson's parents moved from their hometown of Livingston, Alabama to the big city in search of a better life. It wasn't long before hardships left them unable to provide.
Soon, four-year-old Phyllis is plucked off her front porch, ripped away from the only family she knows and sent to live with her grandmother Lula on an Alabama farm with no electricity, plumbing, or running water.
Heartbroken by her mother's abandonment, Phyllis struggles to acclimate to her new surroundings. Thanks to the unconditional love of Grandma Lula and the healing powers of an old, tattered quilt, she is finally able to adjust to her new life.
In Quilt of Souls, Lawson documents her childhood growing up with the incredible woman who raised her and the powerful family heirloom that served as the cloth that would forever stitch their lives together.
With its tales of family, despair, freedom and hope, the true story behind this deeply personal memoir serves as the inspiration for http://www.quiltofsouls.org/, where individuals share relics and stories from their own family histories.

Read an excerpt: 

There were some deep and troubled times during the 1940s and 50s when many Blacks made the long trek north to large American cities in search of better living conditions. Once they got established and began having babies, hardships arose. They'd end up sending a child or two down south to live with grandparents; grandparents they might never had met before. Just like that, a young'un would be plucked off their front porch, out of the only family they knew and without explanation, left on the doorstep of virtual strangers. Sometimes these children didn't return north until they were teenagers. Sometimes they never returned.
I was one of these "Grandma's other babies;" four years old taken from my home and driven sixteen hours down the road in a car full of strangers, to a house in the middle of nowhere, with grandparents I never met before. I was abandoned. No way around it. The stigma of being given away followed me around for many years, like a lost puppy nipping at my heels.
It took my grandmother's love and an old, tattered quilt to repair my self-esteem and return me to wholeness. She was responsible for preparing me to overcome a myriad of obstacles, and tilled the soil for my resiliency. She built me a solid foundation as I prepared to face an uncertain and harsh future over the next twenty years.
Grandma Lula told me stories of the amazing, and often tragic lives of her loved ones as she wove pieces of their clothing into quilts she made by hand. I sat and listened intensely. I connected with those people whose stories and souls were transformed into a patchwork of healing with every pull of the thread. I knew one day I'd retell them as Grandma Lula conveyed them to me.
I may have long since forgotten the first time I rode a bike, received my first kiss, or got my driver's license, but I never forgot Grandma's stories of the Quilt of Souls. They stitched my broken heart back together and healed my life.
Those heroic grandmothers of the 1950s and 60s have been passed over by history. No notice has been taken of how they toiled to raise grandchildren who were left on their doorsteps: the endless hours of changing diapers and drying the tears of those young children who were considered surplus. Like other grandmothers from her era, Grandma Lula was a pioneer, a symbol of hope who found alternative ways to soften the horrors of racism and bigotry. She made beautiful quilts as a way for people to refocus their gaze from the ugliness. Even if only temporarily. She was an impenetrable wall that weathered all the storms of life. Through her, I learned the meaning of unconditional love. She was my rock. She taught me everything I needed to know about life, including all its twists and turns. She solidified my ability to conquer any roadblock that stood before me. I can't stop thinking about the stories of those people whose clothes were embedded into her quilts. Their lives interrupted, cut short, and the children who suffered and died needlessly.
Years later, I know these stories are what carried me through the most difficult periods of my life including, emotional and physical abuse and homelessness. The days of quilting with Grandma became a period of transformation for me. The pillars of our culture are those unwavering grandmothers who held up, and continue to hold up, multitudes of children and families. The debt of gratitude I owe these women who loved me so completely is one that can never be repaid. I honor them by embodying the lessons they taught me.

Meet the author:

Ms. Lawson was born in Detroit, Michigan. At the age of four, she was sent to the tiny town of Livingston, Alabama to be raised by her grandmother Lula Horn (1883-1986), who made beautiful quilts out of the clothing of her loved ones. Each strip of fabric tells the story of the wearer's life and death. She shared these mostly tragic and sometimes witty tales with little Phyllis as she sewed their clothes into a quilt that threaded broken lives back together. Ms. Lawson now shares these profound stories with the world as Grandmother Lula told them to her.

After graduating from High School, Ms. Lawson joined the United States Air Force as a WAF (Women’s Air Force) and was one of the first female B-52 mechanics. She served one tour in the Air Force and left the service in 1978. She used her military educational benefits to attend the University of Maryland, receiving a Bachelor's of Arts Degree in Sociology and Social Work. She spent twenty years working as a counselor for incarcerated youth, women who were victims of domestic violence, and with youth and adults suffering from alcohol/substance abuse. Three of those years were spent in the United States Army Reserves.

Following a seventeen-year break in 2002, Ms. Lawson returned to the military as a member of the U.S. Army National Guard and Active Duty Service, retiring from the U.S Army in 2013. After retiring from the military, Ms. Lawson spent the following two years writing her memoir Quilt of Souls, released March 13, 2015. Ms. Lawson currently resides in Viera/Suntree, Florida with her husband Larry. She has two sons and five granddaughters.

Connect with the author:

Website   |   Facebook   |   Twitter   |   LinkedIn   |   Amazon   |   Goodreads 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Guest Post: Bill Larkin - BULLET IN THE BLUE SKY

The Book Diva's Reads is pleased to host a visit from Bill Larkin, author of Detective Lessons and the recently released Bullet in the Blue Sky. Today Mr. Larkin will be discussing with us the importance of place in fiction, especially in crime fiction and thrillers. 

On Crime Fiction and Thrillers: 
Why Place and Setting Matters

"Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles."
Frank Lloyd Wright

Setting helps shape any novel, movie or TV show, but the canvas of Southern California is a particularly broad and varied one. Many giants of the crime fiction genre wrote or write here - Raymond Chandler, Ross MacDonald, Walter Mosley, James Ellroy, T. Jefferson Parker, Joseph Wambaugh, Michael Connelly, and Robert Crais. And dozens of other authors.

People still come to Southern California to chase their dreams, not just in Hollywood. There is a gravity to the place, and a burnout – people leave too. It offers the promise of nice weather, beautiful people, the entertainment industry, top universities, surfing, skiing, the casual lifestyle, and prosperity, but what's also here many incredibly different pockets of demographics, corruption, natural disasters, over-crowding, heady politics, expensive real estate, the country's most traffic-clogged freeways, and a lot of crime.

A familiar setting hits home to a reader who has been to places described. Familiar or not, setting always contributes to the mood and nuance of a story. Nobody wrote about a city better than Raymond Chandler wrote about Los Angeles. He is widely acknowledged by many crime writers to have influenced and motivated them, including me. Even though his books are some sixty years old, they so perfectly describe Los Angeles, even today. It tells you a lot about Philip Marlowe by how he traverses and interprets the city.

Chandler's books take you so marvelously to a time and place in Los Angeles, with vivid characters and a city of darkness hiding in plain sunlight. Marlowe gives the reader all the confidence and coolness that you want to travel with him. See what he sees, learn what he figures out, and demonstrate that the fix was in. A lonely man whose insight is perceptive and who is not afraid of power, money, or the law. To me, his books are literary gold and to this day, they hold up extremely well in most respects.

A character has a certain relationship with the physical environment, the social underpinnings, the politics, and how he or she fits into the setting. The character must find order, make life-and-death choices, dispense justice, and maybe make somebody's life better. The only rule is if you have a homicide, don't make it a real restaurant!

The vast majority of places I write about are places I've been, worked, or visited. Mostly in Southern California, which encompasses over 12 million people and at least one hundred cities each with a population over 50,000. It's such a vast landscape of different locales, socio-economic pockets, cultures, and world-famous landmarks.

Part of the premise to my new release, Bullet in the Blue Sky, is that the characters don't know what's really happening. Reality and the truth are illusory and elusive. Los Angeles captures that essence. It's always changing and it's always the same.

Meet the author:

Bill Larkin
Bill Larkin writes crime fiction and is the author of two highly-acclaimed books: Bullet in the Blue Sky and Detective Lessons. He has also written several short stories, including The Highlands and Shadow Truth, both Amazon category bestsellers. Bill previously served as a reserve with the Orange County Sheriff's Department, then the Los Angeles Police Department where he worked in four different divisions and a detective assignment. Bill is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers.

Catch Up With Mr. Larkin:

Bill Larkin's Website Bill Larkin's Twitter

Bullet in the Blue Sky by Bill Larkin coverIn the chaotic aftermath of a massive earthquake that leveled much of the Los Angeles region, a LAPD deputy chief sends an elite team of detectives on a rescue mission. They are ordered to set aside all law enforcement duties, to ignore the destruction and to focus on one task: Find LAPD Detective Gavin Shaw, who disappeared just before the earthquake.

Kevin "Schmitty" Schmidt of the Orange County Sheriff's Department joins five others on the rescue team. With rioting, looting, attacks and homicides rampant in the streets, the six cops have to defend themselves while chasing down leads on the whereabouts of Shaw. The mission takes them through the dizzying war zone and the more they encounter, the more they wonder why they are searching for one man in these extreme circumstances. Why is this man so important to the deputy chief, and why now?

Schmitty discovers that others with high connections are also after Shaw. The questions pile even higher when they learn of a shadowy history between Shaw and the deputy chief. A history with deadly consequences for the team as they uncover a threat that elevates the mission to a race against time.

Book Details:

Genre:  Crime Fiction
Published by:   Indie
Publication Date:   August 4th 2016
Number of Pages:  366
ISBN:   978-0-9894002-1-3
Purchase Links: Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

The adjunct lieutenant moved into the conference room and stood behind Jenkins and off to the side. Jenkins now addressed our five–person team.

"Your orders are to find Detective Gavin Shaw. He's a member of Major Crimes and I need him here or I need to know where he is. That's it. Nothing more."
As Jenkins paused, several of the detectives looked at each other. Anderson opened her mouth. "Is he—"
Jenkins put up a hand. "You are not, repeat not, to take on law enforcement duties. You are not out to arrest looters, answer radio calls, help firefighters, or anything else you think you ought to be doing. Your only assignment is to find Shaw. And find him as fast as you possibly can. Am I clear?"
"Can I ask the importance of Detective Shaw at this juncture?" Mata said.
"No, you may not. Find him and bring him to me."
"A search-and-rescue mission?" Anderson said in a puzzled tone.
"Call it that, Anderson. Lieutenant Tallon is in charge and you'd better be aware of what you're facing. This city is falling apart. Aside from the destruction, there are forty-five thousand gang members and at least that same number of state parolees and felons on probation. Then there are the opportunists who will loot, burglarize, and kill without the police to stop them. That's probably a hundred fifty thousand bad guys in a city of rubble and fire."
Jenkins let that number sink in a moment. The man projected political polish, as I would expect from somebody of his rank, but he didn't hide his edgy urgency.
He went on. "The LAPD has almost ten thousand sworn, but who knows how many are still alive, much less how many can physically get mobilized. Break that down into twelve-hour shifts and there might be two thousand cops in the whole city at any given time. Three thousand if we're lucky."
Lieutenant Tallon said, "Sir that makes the odds against the LAPD about sixty-to-one." His voice carried both cordiality and self-assurance.
Jenkins nodded. "That's right. But you will be undercover. Plain clothes and a plain vehicle."
"Where is Shaw?" Anderson asked.
"I don't know." Jenkins nodded to his adjunct who stepped forward and handed a folder to Tallon, then stepped back. "Here is his address and personal information. Best guess is home, but start wherever you need to and find the man."
Anderson made a small snort. "What if he's dead?"
"You find him, either way."
One thing was for sure. Jenkins wasn't sugarcoating the assignment.
"What about help from the outside?" I asked.
"In time. They'll mobilize the National Guard and we'll get relief and search-and-rescue teams, but it'll take days."
Tallon said, "We'll be mostly on our own for the first forty-eight hours. Keep in mind just about every other city in Southern California has the same problems. Some worse, some better."
"Jesus," Anderson said.
Tallon said, "Chief, you'll be here? We bring Shaw here?"
"At this time, I am in command of the department. The chief, assistant and other deputy chiefs have not yet been in contact. That means I'm the Director of Emergency Operations until further notice. That's all. Dismissed."
Jenkins motioned to Tallon to follow him and they stepped outside of the conference room with the adjunct lieutenant close behind. Tallon stood about six inches taller than the deputy chief, but Jenkins didn't seem the least bit intimidated.
The doorway stayed open and I stood up, keeping my back to them, but close enough to hear.
"Lieutenant, I don't know you very well, but I'll tell you this with certainty. This is the most difficult challenge you'll ever face on this job. I was told you have the intellect, resourcefulness, and tenacity to carry this out. Do not disappoint me."
I heard Jenkins walk away. When I turned, Tallon had locked eyes with the other lieutenant. A beat later, she hurried after her boss.
** / **

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Bill Larkin. There will be ONE (1) prize & ONE (1) Winner for this tour. The winner will receive 1 copy of Bullet in the Blue Sky by Bill Larkin. Winners within the United States may choose either an eBook or a physical book, however, winners outside the US can only receive an eBook. This is subject to change without notification. The giveaway begins on August 1st and runs through September 30th, 2016.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Guest Post: Lynne Constantine - THE VERITAS DECEPTION

Hello, my bookish peeps. Today, I'm pleased to welcome Lynne Constantine, author of The Veritas Deception. Ms. Constantine will be discussing The Veritas Deception, from conception, writing, editing, rewriting, proofreading, to print, or "the birth of a book." Please welcome Lynne Constantine.

The Birth of a Book

Books, like children, begin with an idea, a spark, a desire to create something out of ourselves. The idea for The Veritas Deception came to me over twenty years ago when I was working full-time in corporate America. At the time, my writing consisted of persuasive marketing pieces aimed at changing consumer behavior. I began to think about the extent to which we are influenced by media and advertising and from these musings my book began to take shape.

Over the next twenty years, in between changing jobs, having children, homeschooling children, moving, and other life events, I picked it up and put it down too many times to count. Finally, four years ago, after attending my first Thrillerfest writer's conference in New York, I decided it was time to get serious about my writing again.

I built a website, e-published an earlier book, wrote two other books and finished The Veritas Deception. I attempted to get an agent for a year, and after coming close several times, finally decided to publish on my own. I developed a crowdfunding campaign and raised money to publish independently.

Thanks to referrals from other author friends, I found the perfect editor for my book—one who had been a top New York editor for years and was available for freelance work for the first time. When she handed me a fifty-page "letter" with suggested changes, I was so overwhelmed that I didn't pick it back up for over a week. I took ninety percent of her suggestions, expanded the plot and had to go back and do a lot more research. I worked on the book all last summer, and she and I went through several rounds before she deemed it "ready."

But the work was far from over. Still ahead were all the production steps required and normally handled by a publishing house. While the idea of going "indie" appealed to the entrepreneur and marketer in me, I will admit to being a little daunted at all the tasks needing to be done. Next step was the copy editor and deciding on which of her suggestions to take. That took another couple of months. By spring, the book was ready and marketing and production was in full swing.

I started a publishing company with my sister, Sailor Dance Publishing, and put together a marketing plan. Cover design, manuscript conversion, ISBN procurement, social media promotion, and arranging for launch tours has kept me very busy. But the hardest part has been the proofreading and proofreading and proofreading. I used to stress over a single marketing letter to make sure it was perfect before sending out. Imagine having to make sure that 300 pages plus are all error free. I read aloud—that's the best way to catch contextual typos and have at this writing read the book at least three times aloud (not to mention the dozens of times I've read it after changes and developments). No matter how much you like your book, after reading it that many times, you never want to read it again. I have one, maybe two more read alouds to look forward to before the book launches on August 10th—a date I chose to honor my mother as it is her birthday.

Now comes the fun and scary part. The launch. Will others like it? Will it sell? Will I get criticized? (of course). It's hard to let it go after developing and nurturing it for so long. But it's time to push it out into the world and let it speak for itself. And it's time for me to move on to my next book. And I'm ready. Almost.

Meet the author:

Lynne is a Twitter addicted fiction writer always working on her next book. She is the coauthor of Circle Dance, a family saga spanning three generations, that received an endorsement from Olympia Dukakis. She is also a social media consultant and speaker, working with authors to build their brand platforms. Lynne teaches at various workshops and has spoken at the Thrillerfest conference in New York. She is a monthly contributor to SUSPENSE MAGAZINE and a contributing editor to THE BIG THRILL magazine.

Connect with the author:     Website     |     Twitter     |     Facebook 

The Veritas Deception by Lynne Constantine
ISBN: 9780997694215 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780997694222 (ebook)
ASIN: B01H3TCWC4 (Kindle version)
Publication Date: August 10, 2016
Publisher: Sailor Dance Publishing

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.Proverbs 14:21
Days after US Senator Malcolm Phillips changes his vote on a bill he sponsored, he is murdered and his death disguised as an accident. He contacted one man before he died: investigative journalist, Jack Logan. He left Jack a single clue to help him uncover the truth and keep Phillips's widow, Taylor, safe. But safe from whom? 
Jack and Taylor's desperate hunt leads them to a vast network of corrupt authority, controlling everything from social media and television programming to law enforcement and US legislation. The key to unraveling a complex web of lies is a set of ancient relics, dating back to the time of Christ. But what do these relics have to do with a senator's death? 
Allies turn to foes when Jack and Taylor discover that those closest to them are part of the conspiracy and that they too have been manipulated. How long has a puppet master been pulling their strings—and will Jack and Taylor trust the right people long enough to win what becomes a colossal battle for souls?

Watch the book trailer and read a sample here.

Enter to win 1 of 4 prizes. This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Lynne Constantine. There will be 4 US winners. There will be FOUR (4) different prizes for this tour. Each winner will receive only one prize. The prizes are as noted on the rafflecopter. This is subject to change without notification. The giveaway begins on August 1st and runs through August 30th, 2016.

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Guest Post: Peter M. Parr, author of ESCAPE TO REDEMPTION

Good morning my bookish peeps. Today, the Book Diva's Reads is pleased to host a visit from Peter M. Parr, author of Escape to Redemption. Mr. Parr will be discussing his writing and editing process. 

Writing is a mixture of inspiration and perspiration. Occasionally I'll sit at the computer – or more often with a pen and notepad in my armchair – and the words will simply flow. Or I may be lying in bed at night and, unbidden, a sentence or a phrase will come to me… and (somewhat grudgingly!) I switch on the light to jot it down. More often, the going is a lot harder. It may take me a month to grind out a chapter… I'm talking here about a first draft. At this early stage, I have to remind myself that it's important to get something – anything – down on paper. What daunts me is a blank page. Once I have the spine of a scene, it's relatively easy to expand on and enhance. 

Every chapter of Escape to Redemption went through at least six drafts – and in some cases, many more than that. After I'd written a first draft of a scene, perhaps little more than an outline, I'd print it out and set to work on it with my red pen. It's an eighty-minute train journey from where I live, on the south coast of England, to London… a perfect opportunity to do some editing. Each time I travelled to London for work, or to meet friends, I'd develop or improve a scene: putting meat on the bones of dialogue, honing descriptions, reading and re-reading to see how it flowed. Then, at home, I'd type up my changes and print off a clean version of the document to work on again. After three or four drafts I’d reach the point where I began to cut more than I added… pruning superfluous dialogue or descriptions until the pace felt right.

The novels I most enjoy tend to have compelling and rounded protagonists. I prefer a flawed hero or heroine; someone neither too perfect nor all bad. Even the minor characters should have depth to them. I spend a lot of time getting to know my own characters; gaining a sense of what makes them tick, their likes and dislikes, hopes and fears. When I write a scene from a character's perspective, in my mind I become them. I'm aware of their history, and their motivation – even beyond what's recorded in the novel. I attempt to think as they'd think and speak with their voice. One of the key things I look out for when I'm editing is whether I've portrayed the characters in an authentic way. Do the characters drive what happens next, as opposed to saying or doing something simply to conform to the plot? I'm not afraid to change the direction a chapter takes if the way I've initially planned it doesn't feel true to how the characters would behave. 

Before submitting a book to a publisher, I put it aside for several months. The time gap means that, when I return to do a final edit, I can look at the text with fresh eyes. The homestretch of the editing process is what I call polishing. I've read a number of books, especially self-published ones, which had the potential to be good, but which in my view were let down by a lack of keen editing. It's amazing what a difference small changes make; how much tighter and more professional a book can be made to feel. For example, I search for words or phrases which I may have overused. I have a checklist of suspects which I cut or replace unless there's no alternative – words such as 'seem' or 'just' or anything ending in '‒ly'. In dialogue, I tend to stick with 'he said' and 'she said', rather than use alternatives like 'interrupted', 'suggested' or 'screamed'. 'Said' is almost invisible on the page, whereas the other words stand out more and may slow the dialogue down. If it isn't apparent from the context that a character has interrupted or screamed, I take it as a sign that I need to get my red pen out and refine that section of dialogue again.

Some writers can pen a great novel in six months. I'm not one of them. Trying to force out a book within a set amount of time would, to me, mean compromising on quality and depth. Everything in nature has its own rhythm and I believe the creative writing process does too. It's important that we enjoy that process and engage in it wholeheartedly. If we can do that, I think we're more likely to create a story that's authentic – one that was uniquely ours to tell. 

Meet the author:

Peter M. Parr works part-time as a civil servant, which gives him time to indulge his passion for writing. He facilitates workshops to encourage people to reflect on what truly matters. He lives in Hastings, England, overlooking the sea. Escape to Redemption is his first novel.

Website: http://www.thingstoremember.org.uk/

Escape to Redemption by Peter M. Parr
ISBN: 9781785352270 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781785352287 (ebook)
ASIN: B01G2M4LYA (Kindle version)
Publication Date: June 24, 2016
Publisher: Roundfire Books

Josie only had the gun to frighten Curtis Rook, but his son disturbed her. One startled reflex and now he's dead. Josie flees to Poland leaving her boyfriend Snaz to take the rap. A reformed criminal offers her refuge from the police and the chance to begin a new life, but she cannot hide from her guilt. As the stakes rise, Josie begins to realise that only her own forgiveness can set her free. 
Fast-paced and original, Peter M. Parr's contemporary take on Crime and Punishment challenges traditional ideas about guilt and redemption, and the meaning of forgiveness. 
Read an excerpt:

Snaz caught up with Josie at the top of the staircase.

‘Sorry for my mum’s comment about reading the meters. She’s a bit of a racist, I’m afraid,’ Josie said.

‘Is that what it is?’

‘My mum and I share a mutual antipathy. When I go up to Oxford next month I’ll be out of her hair and she won’t need to worry. You look shocked, Snaz. I bet you’re really sweet to your mother.’

‘I never see her,’ he said.


‘She... It’s a long story. My aunt brought me up.’

Josie looked like she might say something, but didn’t. After a pause she went into her bedroom. ‘Make yourself at home,’ she told him, closing the door and then perching on the chair by her dressing table. He marvelled at the clutter of perfumes and make-up bottles.

Snaz saw no chair to sit on, only her single bed. He meandered to the window and looked out onto the back garden. ‘You’ve got a tennis court!’

‘Do you play?’ she asked.

‘Never have.’

‘Pity. I’d have given you a game.’

Snaz kicked himself for missing out on a chance to see her in a skimpy tennis outfit. ‘I play football,’ he said, the first thing that came to him. When she showed no interest, he changed the subject. ‘Is that photo of your dad?’

Josie nodded.

‘You get on better with him than with your mum?’

‘He’s alright, when he’s actually here. He’s always off on business trips. The States, usually. I think he’s in Poland this time.’

‘What does he do?’

‘He runs his own business putting buyers in touch with sellers. Sometimes it’s property. Sometimes it’s art. I don’t think he cares too much if there’s money in it. One day he might stop and enjoy what he has.’

Snaz groped for something else to say. He noticed a higgledy-piggledy stack of CDs on the chest of drawers and was about to ask her what music she liked.

‘I wanted to thank you again for what you did,’ she said.

‘That’s okay. Anyone would have done the same.’

‘Not anyone would have seen that man spike my drink. I’m lucky you were watching me so closely. I saw you.’ She smiled.

Snaz felt himself blush. ‘You’ve got to be careful in clubs. Some blokes try anything.’

‘It’s my friend’s fault for dragging me there, then leaving with the first man she set eyes on.’

‘Did you get home okay?’ Snaz asked.

‘You saw me into a cab.’

‘I mean, you felt alright, did you? You weren’t shaken up?’

A lock of her hair fell across her face and she brushed it to one side. You couldn’t call her a redhead, but her hair was redder than blonde. There must be a word for hair that colour, Snaz thought.

‘Is it true what you told him, about being a boxer?’

Snaz smiled. ‘I’ve boxed as many times as I’ve played tennis. He didn’t know that though. But I can handle myself. I could’ve dealt with him.’

‘Why don’t you sit down? I want to ask you something. It’s kind of a favour.’

He sat on the edge of her bed.

Josie picked up a birthday card from her dressing table and held it out to him. She had tiny dainty hands. ‘What do you make of this?’

He pulled his eyes away from her to the picture of a kitten, all fluffy fur and ribbons. Sickeningly cute.

‘Read inside.’

Happy birthday. From Erin, a friend. Call me if you want to know the truth. And underneath, the sender had written a phone number. ‘Who’s Erin?’ he asked.

‘That’s the thing. I haven’t a clue. I rang her, and she wants to meet me. She says there’s something I ought to know, but she can’t tell me over the phone. Her accent is ghastly, like she finds it too much of an effort to pronounce her t’s.’

‘It sounds dodgy. What’ll you do?’

‘Dodgy,’ Josie repeated, and Snaz wondered if she considered his way of speaking ghastly as well. ‘That’s what I thought. Will you come with me, to go to meet her? I’m going on Saturday.’

‘Sure. I mean, if you want me to.’ It sounded odd; not exactly a date, but at least he’d see her again.

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