The Impact of a Whisper

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“If you want to capture someone’s attention—whisper.” This commercial from a few years ago reminds me of what’s happening with the NFL. In order to attract attention to the mistreatment of people of color by police, certain NFL players have taken a knee during the National anthem. Before you scream at me about patriotism let me tell you, I’m the one who cries when the color guard marches in with the flag. I’m the one who sings loudest when they play the national anthem and recite with pride the pledge of allegiance. My son, father, father-in-law and assorted cousins and uncles have all served in the military. I am proud to be an American.

As a student of history, I’m aware of the blots of shame on our image. Being a patriot doesn’t mean I’m unaware of the flaws in our character. Anyone who has heard the story of “The Trail of Tears,” knows it was greed that pushed the Cherokee from their lands and onto reservations. A people with their own schools, newspaper, farms and even slaves, because they were a people of color, they could be stripped of their rights and regulated to government controlled lands. Is that too far back for you to be concerned? How about World War Two? When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor Japanese American’s lost homes, businesses and even their health as the government shoved them into concentration camps. Unlike the German and Italian immigrants who could change their names and pass for American, the Japanese weren’t that lucky. Still too historical? Think about this, if you are black, Hispanic, Middle Eastern or Native American you are automatically profiled by authorities and store owners. They expect you to do something wrong and treat you accordingly.

I’m not a huge football fan, so if the games play or not will not affect me. As an American, I am thankful for a Constitution and Bill of Rights that allows us our freedom of speech. Not to take away from our service men and women who have sacrificed for this freedom, I have to ask, if we take away the football players’ right to protest are we not damaging the principles America was built on? As important as the flag is, and as patriotic it is to stand for the national anthem, if I want to get your attention, what better choice could I make? By taking a knee, the players have brought this issue into the main stream American home. For people with darker skin, America doesn’t offer the same opportunities and protections. It is time to make our America, the America for all people. I love this country. I’m proud of this flag, but I also see room for improvement.

If you want to get someone’s attention—whisper, or go down on your knee during the national anthem.

Sherri Lupton Hollister

Southern Romantic Comedy & Suspense

https://sherrilhollister.wordpress.com

In the Midst of a Hurricane

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The Duke by Katharine Ashe

How a person reacts at the worst moments can give you an inkling of their true character. Lady Amarantha Vale meets Gabriel Hume in the middle of a hurricane in a foreign land. They fall in love during the hurricane’s aftermath, but already promised to someone else, Amarantha is not free to love the handsome naval officer. Fate’s twists and turns leaves an innocent girl with her heart broke.

Years later, fate throws them into each other’s paths again. Amarantha is the widow of a missionary and Gabriel has become the Devil’s Duke. Hidden secrets intertwine their missions, as Amarantha searches for her friend and Gabriel strives to keep everyone away from his Highland home.

These two strong-willed characters operate with similar motives but at cross-purposes until their truths unite and they are free to love again. Sacrifice and honor pull these two together and apart like the ebb and flow of the tides that brought them to the islands long ago and back to the Highlands to be reunited.

Katharine Ashe weaves a great story, strong characters, history and modern issues into a fabulous, epic tale of love, loss, friendship and faith. “The Duke” will keep you turning the pages well into the night. It is difficult to put down but I mourned it’s loss when I reached the end.

Sherri Lupton Hollister

Southern Romantic Comedy & Suspense

https://sherrilhollister.wordpress.com

Character Workshop and Interview with Reese Ryan

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I have a guest blogger today, my friend Gloria Loftin who’s going to share her recent interview with Reese Ryan.

Reese will be the presenter at an upcoming workshop on characters for the Pamlico Writers’ Group.

Interview by Pamlico Writers Group member, Gloria Loftin

The Pamlico Writers Group is proud to host multi-published fiction writer, Reese Ryan who will be giving a two-part workshop, “Building Believable Characters” and “Creating Functional, Yet Compelling, Secondary Characters,” at the Turnage Theater, 150 West Main Street, Washington, North Carolina on Saturday, October 14th, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

To register for the workshop, go to www.pamlicowritersgroup.org Events Calendar, October 14th.  Early registration is $35 for members and $40 for non-members, there will be an increase of $5 at the door.

Ms. Ryan is the author of the Pleasure Cove Series, set in a fictional North Carolina coastal town, the Playing by the Rules series, set in London, and the upcoming Bourbon Brothers series set in the hills of Tennessee.

As a transplanted Midwesterner, Reese now makes her home in Central North Carolina where she’s

found her groove writing sexy contemporary fiction with colorful characters and an emotional love story.

Past president of her local Romance Writers of America chapter and a panelist at the 2017 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Reese is an advocate for the romance genre and diversity in fiction.

I had the privilege to interview Ms. Ryan and ask her about her writing.

GL What do you write and when were you first published?

RR I primarily write contemporary romantic fiction featuring diverse characters. My first book was published with Carina Press—an imprint or Harlequin—and was released in July 2013. By the end of the year, my ninth book will be on bookstore shelves.

GL Are there other genres that you are interested in working in?

RR I have projects either in progress or in development that are in genres ranging from historical fiction to thrillers and literary fiction.

GL What kind of books did you read as a kid?

RR I was a huge fan of Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary. I still remember those books fondly and can’t wait to introduce them to my grandchildren.

GL  What is the first book that made you cry?

RR  Little Women by Louisa May Alcott is the first that I can remember. And it’s one of the two books that’s had the biggest impact on what I write.  The other is Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice.  I credit both books with my penchant for writing unconventional heroines and lots of family drama.

GL  What’s more important to you—plot or character?

RR  Character, no question. So much of the success of the story hinges on whether the reader likes the character or can at least sympathize with him or her. Character development is so important to me in a story.  The character must be layered and have depth.  Cardboard characters need not apply!  I want to go on a journey with a character, and I expect to see growth and change over the course of the story. Otherwise, what’s the point?

GL  You dedicate part of your all-day workshop to the development of secondary characters. Why do you find them to be so important?

RR  Life doesn’t happen in a vacuum.  Character is revealed by behavior, especially as it relates to other people. A guy sitting on a park bench might be handsome and seem sweet.  But if he kicks a puppy or is rude to his waitress, we see him in a different light.  It’s the same with characters.  A well-developed cast of secondary characters show readers who characters are rather than just telling them.

GL  Do you have a favorite character from one of your books?

RR The character I’ve written that stuck with me most is Jamie Charles of Love Me Not. That book and character are darker than anything else I’ve written, and she’s the most misunderstood of my characters. But I love Jamie and her story.

GL  Speaking of a cast of characters, tell us a little about your current series and the one you’re working on.

RR  My Pleasure Cove series deals with complicated family relationships, forgiveness and secrets.  Each couple finds a way to overcome their painful pasts to build a future together.  My upcoming Bourbon Brothers series chronicles the romantic adventures and family intrigue of the heirs of a bourbon empire in Tennessee.

GL  Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are your trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

RR  I am a big believer in series.  Readers love them.  So unless I’m writing literary fiction, I will always aim to create a series for any book I write.  However, for me, each book has to stand on its own.  A new reader should be able to enjoy a book and understand exactly what’s going on, even if it’s the fifth book in the series.

GL  What books are you currently reading?

RR  In addition to books on the craft of writing, right now Maisey Yates’s Copper Ridge series is my new obsession.

GL  What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

RR  The money I invested in my membership at the national and local levels of Romance Writers of America (RWA) was well worth it.  I doubt I’d be a published author if it hadn’t been for the knowledge, encouragement and connections I gained through my membership.

GL If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be?

RR  Don’t let fear stop you.  Rejection is simply part of the process.  Collect those no’s. They’ll bring you closer to a yes.

Visit Reese’s website at:  ReeseRyan.com

By Gloria A. Loftin

I would like to thank Reese for taking the time out of her very busy schedule to speak with me.  If you would like to attend this workshop, or obtain information about the Pamlico Writers Group, please contact Sherri Hollister at pwgcritique.group@gmail.com or http://www.pamlicowritersgroup.org.

You can obtain more information of Ms. Ryan at  ReeseRyan.com

The Golden Hour

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I just finished The Golden Hour, the fourth in the Nora Tierney series by M.K. Graff. I have enjoyed the progression of the main characters: Nora Tierney and Detective Inspector Declan Barnes, from antagonists to partners. The Golden Hour is a little darker than the first books in this series. It deals with the very real threat of biological terrorism but the true theme of this story is creating your own family from the people who love you. Nora’s British family, the good friends who have been there for her during her darkest days and sweetest memories, her dear friends Kate, Simon and Val, as well as the newest additions to her circle, Paul’s parents, make up the people she has chosen to care about and call family. Their loyalty to each other is tested and proved.
When Declan’s case and Nora’s stalker bleed over into each other, Declan is faced with the very real possibility of losing Nora and Sean forever. When he realizes how much they both mean to him, it is a beautiful and heart rending moment of clarity and self-doubt. It is in that moment the reader can truly feel who the man Declan is, not just the detective, but the vulnerable person who loves Nora and her child. As he rushes to save his family he is torn between duty to his country and the well-being of his family. A true hero does what is right even at the risk of losing it all.
Adversity changes a person. When faced with the threat of losing everything that makes life worth living, Declan and Nora show their true characters. Like all of us, they are weak but their innate goodness, strength and love pull them through the abyss and they will be better because of it.
This story made me angry, made me laugh and it made me cry but in the end, the tears were those of joy. This was one of the best books I’ve read, it captured the heart and gave a little squeeze. I can hardly wait to read the next book and see what new adventures await Nora, Declan and Sean.
 

Spoiler Alert: She doesn’t give up her dream 

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The Pirate and I by Katharine Ashe is filled with strong, independent and interesting characters. The London perfumer, Esme Astell is unique and irresistible. Her independent spirit and hopefulness can not be diminished even in the face of heartache and prejudice. When she is reunited with the boy she’ once thought herself in love with, she cannot allow him to suffer when she has the ability to save him. Charlie, thought dead for years, is alive and well and running from the police in an Edinburgh alley. Gone is the bookish boy and in his place a brawny pirate. Charlie has spent the last couple of years just trying to survive. He’s learned his lessons well, and will be at no man’s mercy ever again.

Katharine Ashe paints a portrait of 1823 Edinburg with a clarity of a time traveler. Guided by the talent and awe of Esme Astell we discover the nuances of the town through each of the senses. The aromas and textures of her world expands when she is thrown into her lost love’s path. 

Each must travel their own path to make their dreams come true. Will Esme give up her dreams to finally be with the man she loves? Will Charlie return to pirating or finally break free of all of his bonds.

From the little dog Douglas to the fearsome pirate Pate, Katharine Ashe gives a story filled with people so real, we forget we cannot reach out and touch them. 

Esme Astell and Charles Westley Brittle aka Scholar are a beautiful couple who open our hearts and minds to love. 

Review of Amanda Quick’s The Girl Who Knew Too Much 

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The Girl Who Knew Too Much by Amanda Quick (aka Jayne Ann Krentz) is a new time period for one of my favorite writers. Hollywood 1930s, where everything that glitters isn’t glamour. As with all of her books, no matter where or when they are set: Regency London, the present, future or outer of space, the reader gets a true sense of the time period and the atmosphere. Quick brings us into the characters’ world.
Her characters come alive, existing for a time in a world so real and full of texture that you forget these aren’t people you know. Ms. Quick doesn’t bog the reader down with too much information but gives just enough that we can get a picture in our heads of who they are.
In The Girl Who Knew Too Much reporter Irene Glasson has a bad habit of finding dead bodies lying around. The first, her friend and employer, told her to run. She did, right in the path of another killer.
When Irene arrives at the Burning Cove Hotel she becomes entangled with former magician and owner, Oliver Ward. Together they try to learn who is killing the women in Irene’s new life. When the past and present collide, the couple may not have a future. Caught between two killers, the couple must trap one before either can succeed in getting rid of Irene and discover what her employer gave her that’s worth killing for.
This fast-paced romantic suspense has everything I love about a Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick novel: action, romance, drama, and characters that make you fall in love. Her strong, imperfect characters are believable and react to their circumstances with intelligence. The women, whether they are heroes or villains are shown to be multi-dimensional. Like their male counterparts, these characters have flaws but they also have redeeming qualities that make them vulnerable and real.
I hope this isn’t the last of the Amanda Quick Hollywood glamour series. I’d love to see more of Burning Cove and the people that work with Oliver at his hotel. We need Willie’s story and Luther’s story. I can’t wait to read more.   

Setting within a Setting

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I love Nancy Cohen, I’ve followed her for years. Her writing tips are easy, interesting and smart.

Nancy's Notes From Florida

As mystery writers, we are trained to place our sleuths within a distinctive milieu that becomes a character in itself. Whether it’s a small town, a neighborhood in a big city, or a regional locale, this setting imbues our stories with a unique flavor. Then we assign an occupation to our sleuth that further extends this world.

Recently, I realized that for each story, we add another circle. Think of concentric circles each enclosing the other with the sleuth in the center.

Circles

In watching traditional mysteries on TV, I’ve noticed how each show focuses on a narrow group of people, same as we do in a cozy mystery novel. It’s easy when we pick a setting with built-in suspects. Here are some ideas in no particular order:

Bookstore
Craft Emporium, Gift Shop
County Fair, Crafts Fair
Classes—Cooking, Crafts, Dance, Yoga, Acting, Quilting
Charity Organization, Fundraisers
Competition—Art Show, Bake-Off, Sports Tournament

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