Book Review – The Road To Bittersweet

I was lucky enough to score an ARC of Donna Everhart’s The Road to Bittersweet. I absolutely loved her debut book, The Education of Dixie Dupree so I was very excited to get her latest book.

The Road to Bittersweet follows the Stamper family through trials and tribulations as a flood destroys their home in the foothills of South Carolina. Woven into this tale of tragedy and redemption is a lovely story between two sisters, Wallis and Laci. Younger Wallis is a sturdy sort of girl, very near the opposite of her fey older sister, Laci, lithe and lovely but autistic. Laci is a music savant who does not speak, and Wallis has assisted in Laci’s care her entire life.

When a young man, Clayton, appears on the scene and earns Wallis’s regard, the relationship between the sisters is tested and changed as Clayton pays more attention to Laci over Wallis.

The Road to Bittersweet is a lyrically emotional journey and a beautiful coming of age tale of faith and family. Donna Everhart is off to a wonderful start in her literary career, and I look forward too many more wonderful journeys with her work.

Draft 53 #amwriting Still

I look at Publisher’s Weekly every freaking week because you know, I got a dream. It’s fun seeing the latest twenty-something year-old signing their first six figure deal. Boy, kids today.

I try to imagine my name in Publisher’s Weekly in some six-figure deal with super cool agent and big publishing company. Only I won’t be twenty-something. That boat sailed by like a rainy spring day followed by heavy hail and damaging winds. Yeah, it shows. It’s been that kind of life.

I am writing the book and not so much this blog. I’m neglecting everything but this damn book. My Keurig gets lots of attention. Black coffee at 5:00 PM after work. Super stupid idea because then I can’t get to sleep. And by the time I get to work at 7 too freaking early in the morning, it’s more caffeine and dragging myself home at 4:00 PM in a daze. I am like some blood-crazed creature only writing is the blood I crave and must have. I’ll die without it. No, seriously.

I’m so close I can taste it. This is the book, finally. After so many half-finished, badly finished, and not-quite what I was going for books, this is the one. Probably.

At draft 53, well doubts begin to settle in. Also, a beta-reader damned me to Hell so that’s fantastic. So, my super-agent and big publisher will have to be cool with a book with the power of damnation. I shudder to think what that beta-reader would make of Cormac McCarthy. I am pretty sure my stuff is not that kind of disturbing. It’ll be fine. So back at it. I will try to do better with the blog, but I doubt my half-dozen blog readers miss me much. Draft 53. Here we go.

 

An Ancient Tome

I wrote a paper on JRR Tolkien for an independent study while in school in London, this thirty years ago. Time is beating the crap out of me, no doubt. So I wanted to travel to Oxford to have look at a few original sources kept in the University libraries.  I am big on original sources. 

One of my professors proudly supplied me with a pass. However, I did not realize there were limitations to the pass. Much to the horror of the librarians, I was drawn to a restricted section full of ancient tomes. Most were locked behind glass. That should have been a hint. 

There was, among those moldy old books, one left unintended written in a script and language I could not decipher. On impulse, I picked it up thus earning my lifetime banishment from that library. 

It was totally worth it, despite the possible apocalyptic horror it might have unleashed. Oopsie. 

In the  moment I touched that book, I felt a surge of energy pulse through me. Possibly  brought on by the horror of the ruddy security guard sputtering at me, but I rather believe that electrified pulse came from the book itself, the book wanting to impart its contents to someone, anyone. Or possibly it unleashed the apocalypse, given current events. 

All books are magic. I have no clue what was in the book I came across, be it spells of a lost power or possibly a transcription of some church records. I never could find out. My escort, the one that unceremoniously threw me out of the library into the rain, only lectured me on how rude Americans could be and would hear no excuses from me. 

I only had my imagination to go by. I think the script was Gaelic of some kind. It possibly came from a monastary but I don’t even know how old the book might have been. I did not have enough time to examine the vellum. Might it have been crafted of human skin? There was a time… but such parchment would not hold ink for so long. Well, unless there was some evil enchantment at work. Definitely a possibility. 

Yes, all books are magic and so, some are quite dangerous. Magic and truth in equal measure all in black and white. Most people avoid both of these more vehemently than they do root canal. 

My imagination crafted that old restricted book into a grimoire, a spell book for the darkest of sorcerers. And so filled my nights with horrors for years after, some demon force chasing me across time and space. 

Now, I seek a way to defeat the dark magic unleashed on me by that ancient tome, to tame or banish the demons that rose with its powers. Sadly, books of miracles, are so rare. Well, I never could find one equal to the demons that haunt me so I decided I would write one, an Idyll. I am running out of time. I can’t hold off those demons  much longer. They are consuming me so back to it.

 I do apologize if my jaunt into the restricted section of the library ultimately leads to a zombie apocalypse should I fail at my writing. Awkward. 

Living an Alternative Reality

So this happened. The Chicago Cubs won the World Series. Donald Trump of The Apprentice is president of the United States (a joke made on The Simpsons in 1997- not even kidding), and The Atlanta Falcons are headed to the Super Bowl. 

This is not normal. Being from Georgia, I am thrilled about the Falcons. Just amazed, startled. Like everything that has happened in the last 12 or so months, this is simply not the expected result. All that has happened is not necessarily bad, just odd. Reality has crashed into the bizarre. 

Disturbedly, my current book, a fantasy full of magic and all sorts of mystical creatures is far less odd than the real world. It makes me worry for my genre. 

At this point, if dragons suddenly emerged and took over the world, it might be less insane than the current goings on in the world. And that would quite spoil my book sales. 

Frankie, my pug, also quite magical, tells me to relax. Probably, Frankie says, I am simply in purgatory and to move on to something more wondrous, I must keep writing. So that’s the plan. For now.

If I manage to finish this book, find an agent, and publish this year despite having to reside in bizarro world, then I will know I have moved on. So back at it. 

Week 38 2016 Green Tea & Demon

img_0110So there I was picking through World Market for candles, teas, and coffees. I had a solid plan for a long weekend of writing and plotting and such. I toyed with the idea of taking the show on the road and heading up to the mountains, but my pug poo-poo’d the idea. Hiking might be involved, she said. Having almost been eaten by both a box turtle and fox recently and close to our abode, she did not want to add almost eaten by a bear to her adventures.

Also, in truth, I thought I might be more distracted by the mountains than the life that buzzes around my house. So I got just the right candle “Green Tea and Demon” – I am hoping demon is some kind of French flower and not the essence of malignant divinity. I decided either way, I would be in good shape. After all my WIP involves demons, but as it turns out, the demons in my book don’t smell near as fine as my new candle.

I have so far managed to get a lot done and still another day and a half of writing remains. I entered a writing contest (flash fiction) just because it’s good practice. I did about 3000 words on my WIP, a few thousand words worth of research and backstory (nothing a reader will see but helps me write the meat), and this blog post.  My WIP, at long last, has a title, one that I like. My new book will be called The First Idyll until such time as a publisher or one of my demons convinces me otherwise.

yourbookyourbrandI feel so confident about this book that I went on and purchased Your Book, Your Brand by Dana Kaye for when I finally secure my amazing, not-to-be messed with agent and  soon after, land a publishing contract. Stop laughing. It could happen.

Your Book, Your Brand comes at the recommendation of literary super-agent and attack shark, Janet Reid’s Blog. Writers, you guys read this every day, right? It’s fine if you don’t because then, well, less competition for me.

dixiedupreeSpeaking of super sleek writers, it is almost October and there is a great book coming on Oct 25th by one of the Reef’s finest. Donna Everhart has penned The Education of Dixie Dupree  which has been selected as an Indie Next, a very big deal.

If you already know me, like in real life and see me pretty often, you’re getting this book for Christmas. Surprise. Otherwise, go pick it up. Looks like it will be a doozy of a read, one that is sure to sing like Harper Lee or Flannery O’Connor in tone with the masterful voice of Donna Everhart. I know of which I write. Donna hangs out at the Reef, and the stuff she writes, I mean to tell you. This woman can spin a yarn.

Until next week – provided the angels see fit to keep me from being devoured by the demons that haunt me.

 

Week 31 2016 -Madame Darke

SarielasCatDreadful tales are told about Madame Darke, ones designed to discourage people from seeking her out. Of course, like the many cautionary tales about using drugs, drinking too much, and promiscuous sex, few listen. After all, she has magic that will short-circuit many immediate problems.

So many little cures for little problems and all for small favors. Bring her tea, and that test you were certain to fail is passed although the knowledge is never yours. Bring her cake, and that acne marring your face is gone, and your complexion perfect. Confidence accompanies your next encounter with those you desire to desire you in return. Bring her a cat, and that little sore contracted in some lustful embrace disappears and so forth. There are no consequences for your failure to study, your vanity, or poor judgment, none that you can see as she gathers little bits of your soul, painlessly extracting them. Oh, if you need your enemy to disappear, the favor is bigger than a cat, but she can do that as well.

I spent most of this week in Madame Darke’s company, trying to understand her motives. The woman seemed so inclined to help for a rare jasmine tea. I suppose my coffee addiction is not so different than her tea obsession.  Her cottage is crawling with felines, but it is snakes that slither among her books. I wonder how it is all those snakes, so many of them, are not enough to warn her many visitors that perhaps the price to cure their little nagging complaints might be much higher than they imagine.

WickerWomanSnakeI needed to flee for myself. Snakes scare me more than my desire to see what books she keeps in her library. Young Husk Grayvesone felt differently, a lonely, fat boy whose love for books far outweighed his fear of serpents.

“Are they magic books?” Husk asked.

“All books are magic,” Madame Darke said.

I would have said the same to the boy, but snakes do not guard my library. It is open to all. Still, Husk acquired access to Madame Darke’s books without giving much away. Of course, he had not sought her out intentionally. His cruel classmates had driven him into the forest with their bullying, and he accepted the old wicker woman’s invitation into her little cottage out of despair and a need to hide away for a time.

Madame Darke sent him away with books in his arms, his promise to return them and to do favors for her from time to time. I do not think Madame Darke realizes that little black cat also left with Husk or that the one book she gave him to keep, one in which few pages had any content, was the most valuable thing in all of the world. Madame Darke never counts her cats and she sees little value in a blank page.

I wonder if the snakes ever eat the cats or the reverse. Have you seen a cat with a snake in its jaws? I believe I have, but it might have been my imagination. I have no wish to return to the cottage to find out. Husk, I fear, must return a time or two before the end.

I do worry what will become of it all. Madame Darke has a world to enslave using little but a slight of hand. A pimple hidden with illusion that given time, would have gone away on its own; a venereal disease taken from the body and encased in the soul that might have been vanquished with proper medicine for a fist of coin, a death in exchange for long life in Madame Darke’s service, riches that do nothing to obscure a fading ability to feel joy or see in the light. I do wonder. Madame Darke has so many in her service now. I pray Husk escapes her reach, but maybe, it is already too late. We shall see.