17 Apr 2014

Review: “Riding Through It: A Memoir” by Carol McKibben

2 Comments Book Reviews

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“Riding Through it: A Memoir” by Carol McKibben is a moving, captivating and impressive memoir. It tells the story of a woman who experienced violence and conflict more than love and affection from a very early age onwards. Her family and her experiences with the other sex form the basis for an unhappy life until the author learns how to transform her life and turn it around.
It is inspiring to read this raw and honest account of a tragic life and see how concepts, such as positive manifestation and projection, manage to change the woman’s perspective and perception of her life and enable her to come out at the other end happy and sane.
McKibben does an excellent job at portraying the naivety of her younger self with a voice that shows the magnitude of her hurt and pain but she does not stop to lick her wound to get our sympathy. She keeps going to the next chapter in her life, ‘riding through it’ until the moment of redemption, salvation and resolve.
To me it is this accomplished balance and hitting just the right tone that makes this book so distinct from lesser books in the genre.
Highly recommended.

Watch out for my interview with Carol over the Easter Weekend!

Carol in Amazon
Carol on Goodreads
Riding Through It on Amazon – 
Riding Through It on Amazon – Kindle Edition 
Snow Blood on Amazon
Luke’s Tale in Amazon

About this author 
Carol McKibben was a magazine publisher for more than 20 years. She began a new career in freelance writing and editing in 2007. As well as editing other authors’ works to realize their dreams, she has completed Luke’s Tale and published a memoir, Riding Through It. 

Carol currently writes from the heart of a dog’s eyes. Often telling her stories to Labradoodles, Basset Hounds and any stray that happens by, it wasn’t long before people stopped to have a listen as well. Now Carol writes for people and speaks to large audiences, dogs included. 

Watch Our for my upcoming Interview with Carol 

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30 Jan 2014

John Paul Godges: Oh, Beautiful: An American Family in the 20th Century

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“Oh, Beautiful: An American Family in the 20th Century” by John Paul Godges was recommended to me by a friend and I am so glad she did. 
The book has a lot to give but for me one of the main attractions is the huge arsenal of historical detail. Godges describes the roots of his family in Italy and Poland, the reasons why members of the respective families decided to try their fortune in the US, how they and their kins lived and how they got the money for the journey. Godges’ ancestors arrive in the US as immigrants, try to establish themselves in the cross fire of hopes, expectations and often harsh reality. With minute detail and precision he gives accounts of their experiences from the Great War up to modern times, focusing on individual family members. These characters are a great cross section of Americans and humans and serve brilliantly to reflect on the historic and personal events and issues that hit his family, be that strong religious affiliation and convictions, attitude to Vietnam or to homosexuality, which affects more than one person in the family.
This variety of people from his family – who go their own way and reunite at a family gathering – enables us to see a huge chunk of American history and socio-cultural aspects of modern times through a patchwork of real lives.
Well written and with wonderful reflections this is a very enjoyable and rewarding read

Interview with John:

Tell us a little about yourself as a writer and a person.
What made you become a writer? Have you always written?

I wanted to be a journalist since childhood, because being a journalist seemed like the practical way to be a writer back then. How things change! Seriously, whenever I’ve faced a vocational crossroads in life, I’ve remembered this insight from my college days: The things that have always given me the greatest sense of accomplishment in life are things I’ve written and edited, either as a journalist or otherwise. So being a writer is, for me, a matter of being true to myself.

When did you decide to write this book? 4180918

At my parents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary. They are opposites in some respects, and they produced six extremely different children. The more I reflected on my parents’ lives, on their parents’ lives, and on our lives as the children and grandchildren, the more it dawned on me that our family story of immigration and assimilation, of going our separate ways and yet somehow coming back together, reflected the national story and the continuous American experience of struggling to juggle our individualism with our communitarianism. The more I saw the parallels between the familial and the national, the more I wanted to tell this story.

How difficult was it to write about real characters?

That was easy. It was journalism. It would be difficult for me to write about unreal characters.

Tell us a little about the history of the book. How long did it take you to write and publish?

It took me ten years to write and publish Oh, Beautiful. Because I work full time, that’s ten years of weekends, nights, and vacations. Writing the book required a lot more research, interviewing, travel, and investment than I had anticipated, but it always felt like progress was being made, because the outline at the beginning served as a good guide and pretty much survived intact as the outline at the end.

What was the easiest about writing the book and what was the hardest?

The easiest thing was that my family was all on board, and they all agreed to undergo the lengthy interviews as our schedules permitted. The hardest thing was that the interviews and other shared stories brought back a lot of painful memories for everyone. Working together on this book became a grand exercise in group therapy, which can be very painful. One thing the book itself underscores is that the greatest wisdom comes from the greatest pain.

Would you say there is a message in the book beyond the story? Do you find it is well received and picked up by the reviewers?

Absolutely. The core message is this: To be an American in the fullest sense of the word means to discover oneself as an individual within a community—and to sustain that tension, to the detriment of neither the individual nor the community. How that plays out in our individual lives as Americans is a source of endless fascination, conflict, resolution, and amusement. It’s a great big tug-of-war. It’s messy. But it’s who we are. I was really glad that the Kirkus reviewer completely picked up on this abstract concept and saw how the characters embodied it.

What do you like most about your characters? Which one is your favourite?

Forgiveness is the characteristic I like most. Without the ability to forgive one another and to look beyond our personal agendas, there can be no family, and there can be no society. The characters stick to their guns, but they learn to respect each other’s competing guns and to forgive one another for the wounds they inevitably inflict. My favorite character of all is my mentally ill sister. She is the heart and soul of the family, because she taught us how to love one another.

Who would play the characters in a film?

Valerie Harper would play my mom, the emotionally effusive Italian. Christopher Plummer would play my dad, the morally rigorous Marine. These two characters display numerous irreconcilable differences, yet they stay together regardless. Sally Field would play my mentally ill sister, whose character is a cross between “The Flying Nun” and “Sybil.”

Who did your cover work? Were you involved in the process?

A longtime friend and colleague helped me. We worked side-by-side.

What are your next projects? Tell us about your other books.

They haven’t taken from yet. I tell people I’m “between passions.”

What is your life like? What do you do for pleasure and work when you are not writing?

I write and edit for a living. I’m editor-in-chief of RAND Review, the flagship magazine of the RAND Corporation. For fun, I play beach volleyball and go on long hikes with friends.

Who are your literary influences? What are your favourite books/ films/ albums?

Steinbeck is my role model. In just about everything he wrote, he revealed his love for people, animals, and the land. My favorite books of his are Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden. I genuinely miss his characters: the Joads, the Hamiltons, and the Trasks. They had their faults, but Steinbeck showed us how to love them through his words. I cannot imagine a nobler task for a writer.

What are your views on independent publishing?

I am indebted to independent publishing for having made it possible for me to become an independent publisher, but I do hold some darkly humorous views. When I attended a self-publishing conference in New York City about five years ago, I grew skeptical of the conventional wisdom of finding your niche, your tribe, your target audience, and sticking with it. “The way things are going,” I quipped during one seminar, “we’ll all end up writing for audiences of five!” I’m afraid my snarky prediction might be coming true. I wonder if Steinbeck could’ve succeeded today, because he wrote for a mass audience. Here’s another dark view of mine: The best way to succeed in publishing today, independent or not, is to write a three-way romance between a dragon, a vampire, and a zombie! Don’t get me wrong. There are wonderful people in the world of independent publishing, and they have helped me tremendously. But I don’t think independent or traditional publishing today does a great job of helping readers find really good writing. 
I wonder if Steinbeck could’ve succeeded today, because he wrote for a mass audience, and the only “platform” he had was a second-story bedroom in his father’s house.

Can you recomm end any indie books/ authors?

The one indie book and author I have often recommended is The Indie Author Guide by April L. Hamilton. April’s seminar was the best one at the conference I attended in New York, and her book was particularly helpful to me.

 

Connect with John here:

Website:
http://www.johnpaulgodges.com/

Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Oh-Beautiful-Am…

iTunes:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/oh-b…

Barnes & Noble:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/oh-be…

02 Dec 2013

Carol Bodensteiner: “Growing Up Country”

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“Growing Up Country: Memoirs of an Iowa Farm Girl” by Carol Bodensteiner is a truly wonderful memoir, a selection of short stories about her time at a chicken and cow farm in Iowa in the 1950s. The way Bodensteiner tells the story we often experience the world with her eyes as a child, which lends the book a charming as well as a nostalgic touch. This type of blending reflective adult perspective with the reminiscing of how the author felt as a girl, made the read particularly palatable to me.

I was also transported back to my own childhood in Germany with these tales – her father was of German origin and some of the traditions of Bodensteiner’s family were still the same in the 1970s in Germany.
But even without a personal connection to farm life and the sentiment of the changing times, the book is of historical value as it recounts in great detail farm life of those times, farming habits and traditions, house chores, animal rearing, fairs and other aspects of rural life, the understanding and experience of which is lost with the way society and farming culture has moved on. Bodensteiner did a great job at preserving this knowledge and creating a further record of the experience. She also reflects on her memoir beautifully in that regard in the epilogue, demonstrating further that this is not just a write up of her diaries as a girl but a thought-through collection of digested memories that allow us a peak into her life and the past but with a balanced dose of nostalgia that so often is overdone in memoirs

 

Interview with Carol Bodensteiner

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Tell us a little about yourself as writer and a person.

I am curious about everything and can be intensely interested in anything for short periods of time. So my career in the public relations business was a perfect fit, matching my personality and giving me endless reasons to write. I’m also highly attuned to sensory details, another trait that comes in handy for writing.

What made you become a writer? Have you always written?

I’ve written throughout my career. The first 30 years as a business writer during my career in marketing. I took up creative writing about 15 years ago. The transition has invigorated me. Business writing places a premium on getting to the point as efficiently as possible. Creative writing can meander around a single point for pages. Yet both styles benefit from writing clearly and with purpose.

When did you decide to write these stories?

The stories in my memoir were an unplanned outcome of my desire to write stories about my parents’ lives. The more I wrote about them, the more I remembered my own stories. The feedback I got from workshop leaders nudged me toward writing about myself and including my family as part of those stories.

Tell us a little about the history of the book. How long did it take you to write and publish?

It all started because my mother wanted me to write our family stories. She was so persistent I finally gave in. I was back and forth between projects for about 10 years getting it all together. Once the stories were written, the decision to publish independently brought the project to completion within six months.

Would you say there is a message in the book beyond the historical interest? Do you find it is well received and picked up by the reviewers?

The main message is that our everyday stories matter. They’re the fabric of our lives and our society. I didn’t realize this before the book got into readers’ hands. But, reviewers and average readers tell me that reading my stories is like reading their own life stories. Reading my everyday stories makes them value their own lives more.

How did you decide what to include in the book and what to keep private?

Since my childhood was a happy one, there wasn’t a lot to hide. I tried to include stories that give a well rounded look at life on a family farm in the 1950s.

Who would play the characters in a film?

I’m not much of a movie person, so I’ll have to leave that to central casting!

What is your life like? What do you do for pleasure and work when you are not writing?

I live on a small acreage where I particularly enjoy introducing children to the prairie I planted. Their sense of wonder and adventure in the prairie is so joyful. I also enjoy traveling. Seeing new places, meeting new people, inspires me.

Who are your literary influences? What are your favourite books/ films/ albums?

I grew up on the adventures of Nancy Drew, then found a whole new level of adventure with Jack London. I experienced the power of words to make me feel heat and depression when I read Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. Haven Kimmel inspired my memoir with her stories in A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana. Current authors I love: Sue Monk Kidd, Jim Fergus, Charles Frazier, Amy Tan, Barbara Kingsolver, Diana Gabaldon, and Phillipa Gregory.

What are your views on independent publishing?

Indie publishing offers tremendous opportunities for writers if they’re willing to make the effort to produce a professional product and do the work of marketing. Indie publishing requires a lot more from the author, but the trade offs of control and income make it worthwhile for me.

Can you recommend any indie books/ authors?

Since indie publishing my memoir, I’ve read across a wide range of genres and met a host of fascinating indie authors, so I could go on a long time. Among my favorites: A.D. Trosper (fantasy); Mary Gottschalk and Susan Weidener (memoir). In the historical fiction arena, Paulette Mahurin, M.K. Tod, David Lawlor, Lee Fullbright, and now you, Christoph. I’m meeting new favorites every day!

What would your friends tell us if we asked for your best and your oddest qualities?

I had no idea, so I asked. Here’s what they said.

Best: She’s a good listener with a zest for learning/sharing.

Oddest: She has the ability to make odd actions seem normal, e.g. making pumpkin pie out of squash and rereading each book chosen for book club twice.

What are your favourite animal/ colour/ outdoor activity?

Finally, an easy question! Animal: Siamese cats. Colour: spring green. Outdoor activity: walking in the woods.

What would you take to a remote island?

An umbrella. Protection from the wind, rain, and sun. And a little privacy for whatever I may feel the need of privacy for. 😉

Who would you like to invite for dinner and why?

Bill & Hillary Clinton. They are so smart, have had so many interesting experiences, and are so human. I’m sure we’d have fun.

What are you writing at the moment and where would we find out about your next projects?

My first novel – WWI-era historical fiction – will be published in 2014. After writing my memoir set in the 1950s, it’s been fun to take another step back in time. Here’s a little peek into the novel:

Go Away Home

is the story of a young woman’s quest for independence and the right to decide her own future during the early 20th Century, a time of social change and the Great War.  

I’m active on several social media sites. Come visit and “Like,” “Follow,” or just chat.

Growing Up Country: Memories of an Iowa Farm Girl

is available in paperback and ebook forms from

Amazon &

Barnes & Noble  

Website/blog http://www.carolbodensteiner.com

Tweet @CABodensteiner

LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=14449814&trk=tab_pro

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/CarolBodensteinerAuthor

What else would you like us to know about you and your books?

I appreciate every person who reads my stories, and I really like to hear from readers. I respond to every single person who writes.

I’ve had essays included in anthologies –

The

Tending Your Inner Garden 

series of seasonal books and the

My Gutsy Story Anthology

Writing those shorter pieces fed my need to see projects completed during the much longer process of writing the WW1-era novel – Go Away Home – I expect to publish in 2014.

Carol Bodensteiner – Bio

Carol Bodensteiner is the author of Growing Up Country: Memories of an Iowa Farm Girl. She finds inspiration in the places, people, culture and history of the Midwest. She blogs about writing, her prairie, gardening, and whatever in life interests her at the moment. Her essays have been published in several anthologies. Her debut novel, historical fiction set during World War I, will be published in 2014.

 

 

 

17 Nov 2013

Alan Wynzel “When I was German”

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Today I am presenting on of my reading highlights of this year.

I accidentally stumbled upon this gem via a tweet and am very pleased to share this remarkable memoir with you today.  

“When I Was German” by Alan Wynzel is a bitter sweet childhood memoir of a young man growing up in his own private war zone that is the marriage between his German mother and his Jewish father in America during the 1960s and 1970s.

It is a moving tale about a child caught in the parent’s volatile relationship, the clash of their cultures and personalities and the resulting identity issues for the young men brought on by conflicting ideas and role models.
Wynzel’s perception of the Jewish and the German cultures is a very interesting perspective and one that benefits particularly from being told by the point of view of an adolescent. His childhood fantasies, his perception of films and comments about Germans in the US (particularly about the 1976 Munich Olympics hostage drama) and the descriptions of the family holidays in Germany are insightful, heart breaking and thought provoking. Being German myself and living abroad – even twenty years later than this book’s story – I can relate to many of the author’s experiences.

Wynzel does an excellent job at describing his experiences realistically and honestly, making this an engaging and compelling page turner for me. This is an interesting and unique life story that deserves to be told and read.

 

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 INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR:

Tell us a little about yourself as writer and a person

As a person I’m a bit of a contradiction.  I’ve worked in Technology mostly in Corporate America for years to pay the bills, and as such I appear conventional, but I’m really not.  I’m not your average American guy.  I don’t follow sports, I don’t play golf—I’m more interested in the arts, in creative things, in the offbeat and off-center.  I have my own opinions and I not a joiner of groups or a cheerleader for any, and this has gotten me in trouble at work sometimes, my being a non-conformist; I don’t buy into the corporate mindset, I do better in small companies than large ones with all their procedures, culture, and behavioral norms.  I’m also a father to two teenaged children who are both creative in their own ways and I’ve always encouraged them to pursue their creative dreams, especially since I deferred mine for so long.  As a writer, I’m driven to do it…I’m just compelled to write, and while sometimes I may take long breaks from it if I don’t write for a while I feel like something is wrong.  I started writing novels about 20 years ago and haven’t quit since.  I always have ideas, I’ve explored different genres but found I do my best work either in memoir or “fictionalizing” my own life.

What made you decide to write your memoirs?

I really had to get an understanding of what happened in my home when I was a child.  I had very strong opinions regarding who was the bad guy (my father) and who was the good guy (my mother).  But I knew my feelings had been shaped by my mother, and I had to sort it all ouT

Tell us a little about the history of the book. Did you write and publish right away or did you hesitate

I didn’t hesitate but I had to go through a few editing iterations to get it right.  But once I felt I had it right, I plunged right into attempting to publish conventionally by querying agents, editors, and publishers.

Was it difficult to publish something so personal?

Yes.  It’s a lot of dirty laundry to air, and it makes me feel vulnerable.

How much of the material did you know would make it into the book before you started writing and how much changed during the process?

The original version was much more anecdotal, and many of the anecdotes were not necessary.  I was advised by an agent to really edit it down, and I identified what themes I wanted to pursue and how to best keep them flowing.  I cut the original 150,000 words down to less than 100,000.  I know a lot of good “stories” got cut but they diluted the overall impact.  The agent remarked it was one of the best edits he’d ever seen.  I still have his letter, somewhere.  Unfortunately he didn’t think he could sell the book so he didn’t sign me on.

Was it cathartic or painful to write it all down.

Yes.  It was hard to keep my distance.  In fact, it’s still painful to read.

How do you feel about your childhood now?

I have a better perspective on it now.  I understand better how it shaped me as a person, I understand my parents better, and I realize that, despite all the bad parts, I had a lot of fun.  I try to remember the good things, the fun, and the love my parents did give me, in their own way.

How do you feel about Germany and the Jewish faith?

Very mixed feelings.  I married (and since divorced) a Jewish woman whose father was a Reform Rabbi.  With her I embraced a Jewish identity and life, and her father “converted” me because, given matrilineal descent, I was not technically Jewish.  We are raising our children Jewish, and while I identify with being Jewish, I just don’t care for observance and all the “belief” involved in religion.  I’m not sure I believe in g-d; at least not in the standard perception of g-d.  I see too many problems with religion as a means of social control.  I could go on, but that’s the essence of it.  As for Germany, I identify as German reluctantly.  I have too many bad associations with the place to want to be German.  And it goes without saying, Nazism, WWII, and all the apologists.  Suffice to say, “When I Was German”…a past-tense statement.

Who would play the family in a film?

Great question.  For my father I would say Alan Arkin, because Arkin sounds just like him and he has the NYC Jew thing down.  For my mother?  I don’t know.

What is your life like? What do you do for pleasure and work when you are not writing?

I work in Technology and things are tough right now because I was laid off a few times recently and while still working in the field, I’m making only 2/3 of what I used to.  But for fun, I like to spend time with my kids (although that’s less and less as they expand their own teenaged lives).  I read a lot, I like to hike, bike, go out for drinks and dinner when I can.  I can’t afford much more.  Everyone please buy my book so I can afford to go on vacation next summer.

Who are your literary influences? What are your favourite books/ films/ albums?

I’m strongly influenced by Hemingway and Bukowski.  I’ve read a number of the classics and lot of 19th century lit (Dickens, Twain, all the Russians) but nowadays I stick with contemporary (post-WWII) writers.  I enjoy Vonnegut (feels like I’m sitting talking to a friend) and Cormac McCarthy—with him I feel like I’m reading a modern master.  But what I’m talking about is contemporary literature.  I don’t read “popular” books at all.  No interest.  And I read a lot of WWII (and some WWI) history, ranging from very academic campaign analyses to war memoirs.

What would your friends tell us if we asked for your best and your oddest qualities?

I’m a ranter.  Just like my old man.  And a complainer.  Just like my mother.  On the good side, I’m funny, in different ways…clever, witty, or sometimes, downright raunchy.  Having said that, I’m tactful about it…usually.

What would you take to a remote island?

Sofia Vergara, a case of tequila and an enormous “DO NOT RESCUE” sign.  Not kidding

What are you writing at the moment and where would we find out about your next projects?

I completed a novel earlier this year that I will be publishing in the near future, once I get When I Was German rolling.  The novel is a fictionalized account of my experiences in the recent Great Recession, where I was laid off twice, went broke, had a major relationship fail and struggled with drink and despair.  It’s called The Seventh Round and details one week in which the protagonist’s life disintegrates, piece by piece. 

 

Follow my writing blog http://avoicefromlakevalleyroad.blogspot.com/

my poetry blog http://poemsfromelmstreet.blogspot.com/

and on Twitter @alanwynzel for updates.

About this author

I was born and raised in Morristown, NJ. The years I spent there in a home on Lake Valley Road shaped my life and my writing, which began there, when I was 11. That home was a battleground where my mother, a German woman who grew up in Nazi Germany (she was Catholic) and suffered deprivations and loss in WWII poured her sorrow into me and fought with my father, a NYC Jew, for posession of my soul. My childhood memoir, When I Was German, tells that story.

When I Was German is available at Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Apple, Smashwords, and Kobo. See my writing blog for links to all these purchase points.

Now, at 49, I’m still writing. I’m divorced, have two teenaged kids, and was out of work for almost 2 years in the Great Recession. I’ve been writing about that, too. A novel, The Seventh Round, that I will publish soon, tells that story. And another is in the works. I’m most prolific, and adept, at telling my own life story, whether in memoir, or fiction.

Like Hemingway said, write what you know.

As for the writers I most admire, well, Hemingway, of course. And Bukowski…I can’t read any other poetry but his. I am influenced and mostly read contemporary writers like Vonnegut, Cormac McCarthy, George Orwell, and Gunther Grass

27 Oct 2013

Scott Stevens: “Every Silver Lining Has A Cloud: Relapse and the Symptoms of Sobriety””

3 Comments Book Reviews

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Today I have the pleasure of introducing one book particularly close to my heart. We all know people suffering from Alcoholism and/ or dependency issues. I thought I had read and heard it all, but along comes Scott Stevens with his personal experience and sharp journalistic mind to add a valuable contribution to the discussion. Here is my review, an interview and an excerpt from the book.

 

“Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud : Relapse and the Symptoms of Sobriety” by Scott Stevens is a remarkable book about alcoholism that has busted a few myths for me, taught me a few truths and filled in other gaps in what I thought was comprehensive knowledge on the subject of addiction and alcoholism.

With journalistic precision and competence Stevens informs his readers in excellent fashion about the correlation between alcoholism and cortisol, a chemical in the body related to stress and stressors. Stevens also brings in psychological aspects and data, statistics and the impact of spirituality and communication on recovery.
I found Stevens’ approach refreshing because unlike other self-help books there is no agenda or one simplifying message about the subject. This is an informed and personalised account of facts that can clarify patterns, help understanding them and shed new light on the subject without trying to force them into a one-trick-pony of a book.
The book includes many great quotes on the matter and should be helpful for alcoholics and those around them just for the inspirational impact of those alone but I also personally related particularly well to the rational journalistic approach interspersed with the personal.
I commend Stevens for his honesty when it comes to his own private experiences and for his talent to chose wisely where to bring the personal into the book in the first place. Here is not a sinner asking for forgiveness, or someone revealing to shock or to accuse. The ‘sobriety’ of his account is most rewarding and probably helps to increase the impact of what is being shared.
I have already passed the book details on to my friends in recovery.

Interview with Scott Stevens:

(for an excerpt and another review scroll to bottom of this screen)

What made you decide to be a writer? Have you always written?

Thanks for the opportunity, Christoph.  I’ve always been a writer.  I had strong influences at an early age.  I was encouraged to read classics and work on composition.  I went into journalism.  That was a trip.  Working in TV, you learn to be precise but brief.  When I left TV for marketing, I continued as a writer.  That was where my passion was.  I continued my journalism as well, working in “emerging” platforms — not so emerging any longer.  A few years ago, when I left my executive career, I continued writing and consulting until my life took one big left turn.  I turned that into an opportunity to help others with my message, my research and my story about alcoholism and recovery.

Could you briefly describe what your reason to write Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud was and what message you are trying to bring across with this book?

I am alcoholic.  In recovery now, of course, but ran my life against the rocks pretty hard at two-liters-a-day-every-day.  As I began recovery I recognized that the people around me struggling were not the same as the experts writing the books about struggling.  The messages we got in recovery were coming from people who lived lives unchallenged by alcohol.

Is it intended as inspiration, self-help or factual information? 

ALL of the above.  Sort of.  I didn’t set out to write something inspirational, only something practical and useful in the same voice as those most familiar with the drama of the disease.  It is flattering that those same people tell me it IS inspirational.  The journalist in me wanted to write an air-tight, well-researched book.  But I lived it, too.

How did you come up with the title of your book?

My first book was What the Early Worm Gets.  I’d always been the early bird. Still am. But I found out what it was like to be on the other end of the food chain.  Flipping around the old adage ‘The early bird gets the worm’ is a feeling many people upended by alcohol find familiar.

Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud is about relapse.  Sobriety was supposed to be the silver lining to the cloud of alcoholism.  When you relapse, you discover that silver lining has a cloud all its own.

How do you come up with your ideas about the structure?

I read a ton of research studies in the course of my reporting.  I know that is NOT how I want my work to read.  I want the facts, but it has to read page to page, not chart to chart.  It’s not a self-help manual for insomniacs… it’s a story for alcoholics and their families.

How do you decide which pieces to put in and which ones to let out?

I have a good editor I trust.  But before she sees it, I clobber my own writing with the red pen. And I mean red pen. I wrote both books in notepads. Two drafts each, long-hand. If you’re going to write long-hand, you cannot allow a whole lot of extraneous stuff.  Removing pieces of a story isn’t easy for fiction writers and it is just as wrenching for me writing non-fiction.  Given my topic, I cut out old-wives tales and myths about the disease.  There is a lot of junk science out there on addiction, so I jettison that stuff quickly.  People die from this:  There is no room for fairytale thinking.  Other pieces may be of value and from reliable sources, but stray too far off the message of the book, so they get set aside.  Some of those set asides from What the Early Worm Gets found a place in Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud.  Some research I did for Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud will be more appropriate in my next book on the stigma of the disease.

How comfortable do you feel writing to inspire others?

When people comment on my books being inspiring, then I have accomplished a really humbling task I never really set out to tackle. 

I’m grateful to have had readers who trust me regarding a sensitive, excruciating subject.  As a journalist, I am comfortable with informing with facts.  In relaying my personal story within the framework of the facts, I simply wanted the reader to know that I HAVE been in the very spot, the very crossroads, in which they stand and have felt exactly the same. If they say it is “life changing” or even that it helped just a little, I am comfortable with that, too. It is very high praise.

How long did it take you to write?

How old am I?  It’s pretty much been in development that long.  The actual writing of Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud took 18 months.  Could have been faster using something other than old-fashioned pen and paper, but I don’t know if I’d have the same confidence in the finished product.

It might take me longer to write, especially compared to many, more prolific authors.  Part of it is the archaic pad-and-pen, but part of it is my background.  Reporting teaches brevity.  I write 60-second broadcast stories, or 300-word pieces for news sites.  Then putting a manuscript together, especially one with 70-plus citations, is like jumping from Tonka trucks to driving a semi.

How do you write? What is your writing environment like?

I’m always writing in my head.  And I usually have scrap paper or a journal handy and write down things to look up or thoughts I could develop.  When I am sitting down to write, I’ve done it on trains and other noisy places just as easily as if I were secluded in total silence.  I’ve come to appreciate that when you FEEL like writing, you do it that very moment before the moment escapes, no matter where you are, no matter what hour.  I’m still a morning person, so there is a lot of scribbling or keyboard clacking going on early in the day.  Sometimes well before the sun is up.

How many rewrites did it take you? 

Three before I handed it off to several fresh sets of eyes for review.  One of which is my seventh grade English teacher.  She’s a grammarist, but excuses my often conversational style when I fracture the rules.  She also reads it for flow, not just for Oxford commas or dangling modifiers.

Who are your favourite authors / influences?

Way too many to include.  My favorite mass-market authors include Jefferey Deaver.  I can’t read research reports all the time, and when I want a great, twisty rabbit trail to follow, Deaver is the guy.  Stephen King’s The Stand is one of many favorites.  American TV journalist Charles Kuralt wasn’t just an influence for my journalism career, his writing style balanced news with color and feeling.  That’s a special gift of his that influenced how I’ve approached both books.

Who are your favourite independent writers? 

I like your work, Christoph.  Simon Okill is a very talented paranormal author you featured in Sept.  I also like the work of William O’Brien, Dianne Harmon, Marsha Roberts,  Karen Prince,  Lucy Pireel.  Zushka Biros of the U.S. and Australian Kerry Connelly write great non-fiction in recovery themes. Many more. The list is long.  There is a lot of excellent writing in the indie space.

Thank you. What are your next projects? Another book? Workshops?

Speaking opportunities when they come up.  I’m very busy promoting Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud these days though.  The book on stigma is a work-in-progress.  I have two childrens’/young readers’ books I’ve written that I dream of publishing sooner rather than later, however I’m busy being a dad to my own young readers, too.

Where would we be likely to find out about the stigma project? 

My website. www.alcohologist.com

What song would you pick to go with your book?

Christoph, it is a whole soundtrack!  At times, it is Runnin’ With the Devil by Van Halen.  At times, it is Help by the Beatles.  At times, it’s the melancholy In My Room by The Beach Boys.  Everything I Do I Do It For You by Bryan Adams.  Sounds sort of like Metallica meets Adele, doesn’t it?

Did you have any say in your cover art? What do you think of it? Tell us about the artist.

My idea from the word go.  I had the first say, went with my first idea (but not my only one).  I ran it past many eyes and the cover stood out.  Typeface and layout aren’t my thing.  The designer made it work.  I had the right image to go with the title.

How have you found the experience of self-publishing? What were your highs and lows?

The highs and lows are the same thing:  Doing it yourself.  I don’t know enough to know what I don’t know.  So I had to listen and learn.  But as frustrating as self-publishing can be, it is also that rewarding in the end.

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?

I usually have two or three going on at the same time.  If I have a really heady psychology title I’m reading, I balance it out with a great piece of fiction.  I’ve just completed reading a horror short, Orchid, on Kindle by indie author, Shane O’Neill from Norway.  I’m halfway through the paperback of Babylon Confidential, an alcoholism memoir by Claudia Christian.  And I just downloaded indie author Diane Major’s I Am Nine.  I’m reading the paperback on Women for Sobriety with my eye on beginning a Men for Sobriety meeting locally.  There’s a stack of psychology/addiction/recovery books in my in-box, too.

How do you handle criticism of your work?

I have a very personal, sensitive topic that is wrapped in stigma and myths and opinions.  I challenge long-held myths and it will not please everyone.  For example, I recently did an ad campaign  in which I call the disease a disease. You’d think I knifed a puppy.  The idea that alcoholism is a moral failure rather than a medical and genetic condition is still deeply rooted, despite nearly 60 years passing since it was recognized as a disease.  Even some medical professionals still hold onto antiquated beliefs.  Several people lashed out over the ads on Facebook. It’s doubtful the ads convinced them to read the book, let alone let go of outdated stereotypes.  They were criticizing a word, not me, not the book.  Just like a romance writer won’t win over every romantic, an alcohol writer won’t connect with every alcoholic.  Alcohol misuse is the third-leading cause of death worldwide.  That’s developed countries like the U.K. and U.S. included.  The social problems are tremendous – to the tune of $223 billion a year in costs in the U.S. – and the public picks up the majority of the tab.  It’s the leading cause of emergency room visits.  Most important is the chaos it causes families.  There is room for another voice in the field of recovery books, especially a voice that’s actually experienced the dread and drama, regardless of the critique of my message.

As for reviews, I appreciate honest reviews.  Criticism for the sake of throwing rocks, well, I have to just roll with it because I put myself out there for good or bad.  Coming from a TV background, you get a pretty thick skin.

Links:

My site: http://www.alcohologist.com

My blog: http://alcoholauthor.blogspot.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/everysilverlininghasacloud

Twitter: @AlcoholAuthor

Pinterest:  http://www.pinterest.com/scottjstevens/alcohol-and-health/

 

Goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6966491.Scott_Stevens

Goodreads Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17194419-every-silver-lining-has-a-cloud

Amazon Canada: http://www.amazon.ca/Every-Silver-Lining-Has-Cloud/dp/1479759481/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1378859120&sr=1-1&keywords=alcoholism

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Every-Silver-Lining-Cloud-ebook/dp/B00BIDD1ZO/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1370176442&sr=1-2&keywords=alcoholism

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Every-Silver-Lining-Cloud-ebook/dp/B00BIDD1ZO/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1370176320&sr=1-2&keywords=alcoholism

Apple iTunes Bookstore:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/every-silver-lining-has-cloud/id593836361?mt=11

Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/every-silver-lining-has-a-cloud-scott-stevens/1114016523?ean=9781479759491

Books a Million:  http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Every-Silver-Lining-Has-Cloud/Scott-Stevens/9781479759484?id=5779579350647

Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Every-Silver-Lining-Has-Cloud-Scott-Stevens/9781479759484?a_aid=Alcohologist&selectCurrency=USD

Kobo:  http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/every-silver-lining-has-a-cloud

Xlibris Bookstore:  http://bookstore.xlibris.com/Products/SKU-0124614049/Every-Silver-Lining-Has-a-Cloud.aspx

Excerpt: 

“Alcoholics have a tendency to cling to their denial of their losses, not denial of their problem. By lingering in the stage, it only makes the cortisol worse. Even though the reason we linger in denial is simply that we don’t want to feel worse, we’re actually feeling worse because of the cortisol. To move away from more of continued Symptoms, the denial evolves into anger. Ashley Davis Prend identifies it as going from “Not me” to “Why me?” and it takes a long time.

 

“On average it takes one to three years to work through the disorganization and anger stage. That’s because you need to process the grief repeatedly so it can sink in, settling on deeper levels of consciousness over time.”

 

Simply put, you’re not going to be pissed off one time for one day, but you’re entitled to it and it is a healthy part of what comes naturally during mourning and recovery. Different anniversaries rekindle the anger. Social losses and financial ones have long tails and breed anger over and over. Impatience sparks the anger, too, because all of us Alcoholics have a little control freak in us.

 

Unfortunately, some of us never get past the anger because that’s where we lapse. We drink at the anger. Or if we don’t drink, we become what’s known as a dry drunk, a bitter and angry person who doesn’t and won’t drink. The dry drunk won’t find recovery, but will maintain sobriety because they cling to the anger. They become dry drunks because of a false sense of power anger provides. It does beat being sad. Sad feels so broken, anger feels powerful, but sadness is the next stage. Rather than moving forward, the dry drunk chooses the power of anger rather than feeling like the ornament at the bottom of the Christmas storage box. They’re usually more of a pain in the ass than they were when they were drinking.”

from Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud: Relapse and the Symptoms of Sobriety, pg. 79

 

 

 

 

 

 

BONUS FOR CREDIT FANS: REVIEW OF SCOTT’S FIRST BOOK

Have you ever wondered what you would like to do with a person who drinks and drives? Different people will give some very different answers to that question, but what would be the most (cost- and help-) effective way? In “What the Early Worm Gets” Scott Stevens writes about his personal experience with one judicial and correctional system in place in the US today that deals with those offenders. Unfaltering standing up for his mistakes and honest to the bone about his life as an alcoholic he writes as an intellectual, not as an angry victim – although as the reader I often got angry at the way an ill person is misdiagnosed, mistreated, angry at the waste of tax resources and the short sightedness of some of the existing programmes.
Stevens points out many lesser known facts and statistical data about alcoholism, clears up some common misconceptions and misleading terminology and gives constructive ideas for changes and amendments to current policies. Fully knowing his science Stevens presents his material with the skill of a sharply minded professional journalist. By bringing his own life and his dramatic experiences into the writing with understandable emotion but also objectivity and honest assessment of his path I find it difficult to imagine that someone could not agree with his findings and conclusions.
This is a well written, informative and perspective changing essay that should be made compulsory reading to those in charge of alcoholics and alcohol abusers everywhere. 

 

 

 

 

 

19 Oct 2013

“Free Fall” by Amber Lea Easton

6 Comments Book Reviews

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 I saw a feature on “Free Fall” by Amber Lea Easton on a writer’s blog [Lucy Pireel] and I was immediately drawn in by the subject: surviving your husband’s suicide.
The book is truly amazing. Easton opened my eyes to the tragedy and its manifold implications that this period in her life held for her and her children.
The book is written in raw honesty but does a splendid job at sticking to the author’s side of the experience. Without portraying herself as a victim or accusing those around her who did or could not help, Easton describes her experience soberly and in a way that broke my heart.
Maybe the book was written in parts as a catharsis but it will serve perfectly for other ‘suicide survivors’ to learn that they are not alone, that their worst experiences have happened to others, too, and that – like Easton – they will come out at the other end, that this will pass too. 
I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. From the moment Easton finds her husband, to the humiliating and insensitive behaviour of the emergency and police services on the scene, to family and friends unable to provide appropriate help to dealing with the long term consequences of bereavement this book is an emotional tour de force that will stay with me for a long time. 
A remarkable woman, an inspiring book, outstandingly told and indispensable on the self-help / inspirational publishing market. Tragic, raw, without make-up but with a message of hope and encouragement for others.
Unlike the author says in the foreword, this book is certainly not just for people with such a bereavement and/ or their friends. It is a good read for anyone. If the book taught me something it is to be more aware of how such a drama may feel. I’d like to thank the author for opening up and sharing her story for the rest of us to learn from it.

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Hi Amber, please tell us a little about yourself, as a writer and as a person. 

     I’m a passionate dreamer, hopeless romantic, mother of two teenagers, wanderer of the world, explorer of self, perpetual student, lover of music, and eternal optimist. Pardon all the adjectives. As for who I am as a writer, I’m driven by emotion whether I’m writing romantic suspense or nonfiction.

                     What made you decide to be a writer? Have you always written?

     I started writing when I was nine years old. I would sit on my parents’ roof, stare at the horizon, dream of all the adventures I’d have one day, and scribble stories in notebooks. This evolved into a career in journalism with a brief stint in advertising. I eventually published my romantic suspense novels with Siren-Bookstrand Publishing in 2011. Now I’m both published and self-published.

                   Could you briefly describe what your reason to write this book was and what message you are trying to bring across with this book? Is it intended as inspiration, self-help or factual information? 

     It is both factual and inspirational. “Free Fall” has been a journey. I often questioned my intentions for needing to write it. But that’s the thing, you see. I felt compelled to write this story of my husband’s suicide and the subsequent fallout because I had never in my life been so alone. I didn’t want another person to feel that kind of confusion and loneliness. It’s my intention that my story will inspire those who haven’t gone through such a tragedy to act with compassion rather than judgment. For those who have experienced a similar trauma, I hope my story gives them hope and reassurance that they are not alone.

                     How do you come up with your ideas about the structure of the book?

     I read through my journals written during the time period. I went through them a few times, actually, because it was quite painful going backward like that. During the second read-through, I started using post-its on the pages of what I needed to include. Believe me, this was a challenging experience. Some of the pages in my journal were filled with such intense pain and statements like “Sean, why”, “I’m so angry” or “grief sucks” scribbled over and over again in large letters. Tear stains blurred ink on the pages that brought it all back to the present. Like I said, I questioned why I wanted to experience that kind of pain again, but I couldn’t shake the notion that I needed to do it. I met people in my support groups who didn’t have the words to describe their own experiences yet felt as isolated as I did who encouraged me to be their voice. So here it is.

                     How do you decide which pieces to put in and which ones to let out?

     I needed to keep the focus on my perspective only, without blaming others or coming off as bitter. I don’t know if you’ve ever kept a journal, but, for me, I use journals as a way of venting out all the darkness I may be feeling. I needed to weed through some of that brutal pain and raw anger to pull out the truth of the experience. That’s not an easy task, which is why I made a point in the foreword of the book to say “Free Fall” is written from my point of view alone. I also wanted an end point—which is why I stopped the book at two years out rather than going forward through present day. Why two years? Well, that’s when the huge fall out occurred, when the shock wore off, and when I probably acted the most erratically (in my opinion). After two years, there were still rough spots and developmental challenges for all of us as a family, but I didn’t want to weaken the message of the book by going on and on. Yes, this happened. Yes, this is how I dealt with it, right or wrong. Yes, we made it to the other side of grief.

                     How comfortable do you feel writing to inspire others?

     I’m completely out of my comfort zone with this book. I’m not at all at ease in this role. Like I said, I felt compelled to write it because I felt like a carnival freak show at times after my husband’s suicide and never want one other person to feel like that. If I can be that one person who holds the figurative hand of another in their darkest moments, then this all will have meant something.

                     How long did it take you to write?

     Six months from the opening of the journals to the completion of the book.

                     How do you write? What is your writing environment like? 

     I have a roll top desk covered with pictures of fun moments from my life—a picture of me as twenty-one year old in Greece with some sexy men at my side, my late husband and I swimming with dolphins, friends and I in Las Vegas, kids and I in the Dominican Republic, me kissing a sea lion in Mexico…fun memories that make me happy. I also have momentos from my late grandfather sitting within reach. In between all of that, I have candles and incense that I always burn when I write. My dogs are usually underfoot while the cats supervise from their tower behind me. There’s a wood stove about five feet away that’s constantly burning from late October to May (I live at 8500 foot elevation in the Rocky Mountains so it’s a bit chilly). I put on my headphones so I can blast iTunes and write away in my own little world. There’s a rule in my house that I’m not to be disturbed unless someone is bleeding from a mortal wound or fire is licking at the door.

                     How many rewrites did it take you?

     “Free Fall” took about five or six rewrites. I truly wanted to make sure I stuck to my point of view, kept on point, and delivered a raw/honest account of my journey without going over-the-top. It probably could have been longer, but I felt I needed to keep it streamlined. It’s rather intense and I didn’t want to overburden the reader.

                     Who are your favourite authors / influences? 

     I have many favorite authors, but there are a few that shaped me early in life. Sidney Sheldon definitely inspired me during my teen years with his international thrillers. Danielle Steele and Nora Roberts brought forth my love of the romance genre. Now one of my favorite essayists is David Sedaris who never fails to make me laugh out loud in the most inappropriate public places.

                     What are your next projects? Another book?

     Yes, I have two more romantic suspense novels, “Dancing Barefoot” and “The Pretenders”, slated for release in the upcoming months.  

                     Where would be likely to find out about them?

     My author page on Facebook is the easiest way to stay in touch with me. http://www.facebook.com/AuthorAmberLeaEaston

                     What song would you pick to go with your book?

     Good question. Well, “Free Fall” is pretty intense . I listened to a soundtrack of my own creation while writing it that consisted of Sade, Bonnie Rait, Snow Patrol, Coldplay, Pink, and the Black Crowes. An eclectic mix. Here is a link to my book trailer: 

http://youtu.be/NqXYy4PqZL0

                     Did you have any say in your cover art? What do you think of it? Tell us about the artist.

     I’m the artist. I had a very clear vision of what I wanted the cover to look like so set out to make it a reality.

                     How have you found the experience of self-publishing? What were your highs and lows?

     I have an advantage of being both published and self-published so I can compare the two. Both have pros and cons. With self-publishing, I’ve enjoyed the control I have in all aspects. I’m still doing the same amount of marketing I’ve done with my publisher so that’s not an issue. I guess the downside is that there are times I wish I could call my editor at the publishing house and have her deal with things—delegating the madness, I suppose you could call it. I think one of the lows of self-publishing is the stigma that comes with it, even though I am technically “published” through traditional methods as well. To be honest, though, I understand the stigma because I’ve met some Indie authors who need to go back to writing 101. That’s a fact, not a judgment. However, to stereotype all Indies that way is wrong and shouldn’t be done. It’s a mixed bag. Do I prefer one over the other? No. I like being diversified. I sincerely run my writing business as a business rather than a hobby. I publish with multiple publishers, including myself at this point. I think it’s smart to have different income streams and varying perspectives. 

                     What do you like best about writing? What’s your least favourite thing? 

     The creativity is the best part. Writing gives me a high like nothing else. The least favorite part? Well, dealing with the arrogance of other authors. As a journalist, I understood competitiveness. I didn’t realize that would be tripled amidst published authors, which is something I don’t understand. It’s a hard business, but the work stands alone at the end of the day. Most authors help each other, but there are some that live to stir up trouble. It’s exhausting. I love the readers, the writing, my editors, but other authors can sometimes be a pain in the ass. I hope I’m not being too honest. Sometimes I don’t have a censor and apparently that’s the case this morning.

                     What is your advice to new writers?

     Accept feedback and learn from those who have experience. Too often (this morning in fact on an author forum) I hear authors say they reject advice and feedback and do exactly as they please. Well, guess where their careers are? Stagnant. The only way to improve is to listen to feedback from your editor, your mentors, and the readers. Do you need to change your style or become a slave to others’ opinions? NO! That’s not what I’m saying. Be like a palm tree that bends in the wind but remains strong in its roots. People succeed because they’ve learned to adapt and listen.

                     What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?

     I’m reading The Witness by Sandra Brown in Kindle format.

                     How do you handle criticism of your work?

     I’m pretty thick skinned after years of being a journalist so try to let it roll off my back. When I worked at a progressive magazine, for example, a woman would call me once a week to tell me that I was an evil minion of Satan’s. At first this bugged me, but then it became more like, “well, it’s Thursday so I’ll probably get the Satan call again.” There are times negative feedback frustrates me if I feel I’m being misunderstood, but mostly I just let it go. I love feedback from my editor, though. It’s fair to say I crave it. I know that I’ve revised my work so much that I can’t be objective and appreciate a fresh set of eyes looking at it. As for reviews, I’ve been fortunate to receive many good reviews, but I know there will always be someone out there who hates everything I do. That’s fine. There are best selling authors that I can’t stand. It’s all subjective.  

                     What are you working on now?

     I’m working on revisions for “Dancing Barefoot” which is a story about a woman who is torn between pursuing her passion, risking all she’s worked for on a dream, or living for the expectations of others. To spice it up, there’s a sabateur in her midst who is undermining her confidence and success. It’s actually one of my favorties thus far because the love story is…let’s say…sizzling. My keyboard is steaming. I also think this lead character, Jessica, is a true reflection of myself, which has been interesting to write.  

               Tell us about your other books.

     I have “Kiss Me Slowly”, which is a romantic suspense about diamond smuggling, embezzlement, murder, and love on the run under Miami sun. Then there’s “Riptide” which is about stalkers, betrayal, envy, and love triumphing over it all. It’s set in the Cayman Islands, one of my favorite places in the Caribbean. My latest romantic suspense is “Reckless Endangerment” about a soldier returning home from Afghanistan and having a hard time adjusting to his ‘new normal’ and his wife who’s fighting for their marriage while investigating a human trafficking ring that’s threatening their very existence. Yeah, I like high-stakes drama. I’m working hard to keep the drama in the fiction and OUT of my personal life these days, though.

Buy Links for Free Fall:

AmazonUK: http://amzn.to/15xOyQe

AmazonUS: http://amzn.to/15iGimT

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/353127

Buy links for all books can be found on my author website: http://www.amberleaeaston.com

Two blogs:

Kisses, Caresses & Whispers in the Night http://amberleaeaston.blogspot.com

Moxie Girl Musings http://moxiegirlwriting.blogspot.com

Social Media: Twitter @MtnMoxieGirl

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/AuthorAmberLeaEaston

My review of RECKLESS ENGANGERMENT

I was interested in “Reckless Endangerment” by Amber Lea Easton because of some of her non-fiction work that had quite impressed me and I wanted to see how her talent would show in a different genre.
From the first page is was evident how well Easton can draw her readers into the story and how skilful she creates characters that we instantly will want to know more about. The wounded Afghanistan war veteran Michael and his journalist love interest Hope are far from one dimensional creations and the problems they face in their strange relationship are much more gripping than a mere ‘taming-of-the-shrew’ scenario. Both characters have a lot to keep you interested in them and make you want them to succeed and grow. 
Although this book is marketed as romantic suspense it also covers some serious issues, such as people trafficking and post-traumatic stress disorder, adding further depth to a book that is rich in plot and personal conflict already. Nothing prepared me for the literary quality of this novel. Regular romance and suspense fans get more than enough here to be satisfied by the great chemistry between the main characters and the intriguing story lines. However, if you – like myself – want a little bit more out of a book than you will find it in the well-handled and insightful passages about trafficking and PSD, issues that are handled with care rather than in an exploitative or decorative manner. 
Easton clearly cares about what she writes and it pays dividends, her book is surprisingly impressive and certainly recommended.

 

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