Book Review: The Black Velvet Coat

theblackvelvetcoatFive StarsTwo for one! The two tales interwoven in this debut novel are connected through a black velvet coat, something that was ordinary in the life of Sylvia, the central character of one of the tales, and extraordinary in the life of Anne, the central character in the other tale. No matter how different their circumstances, both women share the experience of facing challenge and each needs lessons on how to stand on their own, to make their ways in the world as independent and fulfilled women.

This book inspired and intrigued me in several ways. The stories take place largely in San Francisco, my favorite city, one I had hoped to return to, but haven’t yet. One of the characters speaks a version of British English sharedthe doll by my husband. How else can I explain her use of the term gobsmacked, one I hear often from my husband? I also made a black velvet coat for the doll I plan to give my granddaughter for Christmas. After meeting the author, I added a sparkly snowflake pin to the finished coat.

I loved this book.

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Making it Big as an Author

I’ve been following Queen of Blank since last year’s NaNoWriMo. While we are at least a generation apart in age, I feel we are sharing the same larger soul. Maybe you’ll feel the same.

The Caffeinated Writer

FROM TROY & LAURICE.jpg

At work today, my coworker made a jab about my lack of progress on any of my writing lately. Part of me needs to be jabbed on occasion.

Not with anything sharp or pointy though. Not the literal jabbing. Please.

We got to talking about how hard it was to really “make it big” as an author these days. The market is saturated with books, and unless you can land publication with a huge publishing house, the odds are definitely stacked against you.

(For the record, I am NOT bashing self-publishing by any means. So please don’t take it that way.) 

It is definitely possible to make it big in self-publishing. It’s just really, really hard. You have to do everything for yourself.

But for many, it’s our only option when it becomes obvious that the big publishing houses aren’t willing to take many chances on new authors.

The chances…

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Book Review: The Execution of Noa P. Singleton

An unforgettable and unpredictable debut novel of guilt, punishment, and the stories we tell ourselves to survive.

Five StarstheexecutionofnoapsingletonThose words are part of the marketing package for the novel. I couldn’t have said it better myself. But I didn’t realize it would be unforgettable until I finished it. And its unpredictability explains why it took me a long time to get past the first chapter. But every time I logged on to Goodreads, I would be reminded it was still there, waiting for me to finish. I am very glad I picked it up again.

This is a mystery about a murder on many levels. Did Noa really murder Sarah? Why didn’t she say anything in her own defense during her trial? Why did Sarah’s mother change her opinion of the death penalty? Did the fact that her father was absent, and therefore unknown to Noa during childhood, play a role in the events? What does the P in her name stand for? Some of these questions remain at the end of the book, but enough are answered for the reader to be satisfied. For the story to stick and poke at memories and childhood secrets.

The most important questions all begin with Why. Why did Noa say nothing in her own defense? Why is she so determined not to satisfy Sarah’s mother’s curiosity about the event? Why does Noa lie? Why did she drop out of Penn? Those questions remain largely unanswered, only hinted at. And that is the strength of the book. Because we don’t get those answers from Noa, we end up asking similar ones about our own lives. Those questions raise thoughts of own own guilt, our own family relationships as well as our relationships with others. Those questions bring up thoughts of what we might have done differently. For those reasons, this book will stay with me for at least as long as the 450-some days it took me to finish reading it.