An Excerpt from Rouge: A Novel of Beauty and Rivalry by Richard Kirshenbaum

 

Rouge a novel of Beauty and Rivalry image

 

 

Like Swans of Fifth Avenue and Truman Capote’s Answered Prayers, Richard Kirshenbaum’s Rouge gives readers a rare front row seat into the world of high society and business through the rivalry of two beauty industry icons (think Helena Rubenstein and Elizabeth Arden), by the master marketer and chronicler of the over-moneyed.

Rouge is a sexy, glamorous journey into the rivalry of the pioneers of powder, mascara and rouge.

This fast-paced novel examines the lives, loves, and sacrifices of the visionaries who invented the modern cosmetics industry: Josiah Herzenstein, born in a Polish Jewish Shtlel, the entrepreneur who transforms herself into a global style icon and the richest woman in the world, Josephine Herz; Constance Gardiner, her rival, the ultimate society woman who invents the door-to-door business and its female workforce but whose deepest secret threatens everything; CeeCee Lopez, the bi-racial beauty and founder of the first African American woman’s hair relaxer business, who overcomes prejudice and heartbreak to become her community’s first female millionaire. The cast of characters is rounded out by Mickey Heron, a dashing, sexy ladies’ man whose cosmetics business is founded in a Hollywood brothel. All are bound in a struggle to be number one, doing anything to get there…including murder.

 

 

EXCERPT - close-up of grungy vintage typeset - 3D rendered

 

 

From Rouge: A Novel of Beauty and Rivalry. Copyright © 2019  by Richard Kirshenbaum and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Press. 

 

Chapter 1

HOLLYWOOD DREAMS

New York City, 1933

A Technicolor sky hung over the city even though it was only early May. At times, even New York City seemed to have caught the bug. The pear trees that bloomed like white fireworks every April may as well have sprouted palm trees. Everyone, it seemed, had just stepped out of a Garbo movie, and Josephine Herz (née Josiah Herzenstein) would be damned if she would not capitalize on this craze.

A young, well-kept woman was the first to grace her newly opened, eponymous salon on Fifth Avenue. With bleached-blond “marcelled” hair, a substantial bust, and a mouth that looked as though it had been carved from a pound of chopped meat, her new client had all the ammunition to entrap any man in the city, to keep him on the dole, and her cosmetic hygienist, in this case Herz Beauty, on the payroll. She lowered herself onto the padded leather salon chair like a descending butterfly and batted her eyes as though they too might flutter from her face.

“I want thickah,” she whined. She said this in a Brooklyn accent that would have killed her chances had she been an actress transitioning from silent to talkies.

Josephine nodded and reached into her arsenal, procuring the favored Herz moisturizer for a dewy complexion. She removed and unscrewed the glass jar, leaned over her client, and began to apply it to her cheekbones in soft, round swirls.

“No!” The client swatted her hand away as though to scold and dispose of a landed bug. “Not my skin,” she said. “My lashes.”

“Oh.” Josephine withdrew her hand and held it, poised high above her client’s face, as though hovering a spoon over a boiling pot.

“I want thicker lashes,” said the blonde. “Like Gloria.”

“Gloria?” Josephine was perplexed.

“Swanson!” the client said, shaking her head, miffed that she was not understood.

“I see.” Josephine replaced the glass jar in her holster bag and procured a separate, zippered case. “For the thick-eyelash look, you have two options: tinting or application.” She removed both a small black cake and a moistened brush to apply the pigment and a plastic box of spidery lashes and displayed them as though they were a cache of jewels. The tube of adhesive gum came next.

The blonde’s eyes widened. She shook her head and sat bolt upright on her chair. A convalescent, revived from the dead. “Ya don’t mean you want to glue them on?”

Josephine took a long, deep breath. “How else do you think women get them?” she said. “If there were a drink ve could drink to grow them, I assure you I’d let you know,” she said in her Polish-tinged English.

“I just assumed…,” said the blonde. Miffed, she reached into her pocketbook and produced a magazine clipping from a crumpled stash. She unfurled a luminous, if wrinkled, image of Gloria Swanson, the Hollywood glamour girl, from the latest issue of Motion Picture. All lips, pouting like a put-out princess. She had the brow of an Egyptian goddess, the same distinctive beauty mark, and the eyelashes of a jungle cat. “Like that,” she said, pointing at her eyes. “I want to look like that for a party tonight.”

Josephine’s perfectly lacquered blood-red nails grazed the wrinkled page. She studied Gloria’s fabulous face, the brow, the lash, the pout.

“Application,” Josephine said, returning the image.

“Geez,” said the client. “You’d think by now you people would come up with something better than that.”

 

It was her duty, Josephine had come to feel, to tolerate stings and slights like this. But a new thought occurred to her as she prepped the lashes for application, as she meticulously heated and applied the adhesive gum. Her client was right. She often worked the floor to do just that: to listen to her patrons, her clients. And now that she was in New York, she knew enough never to be too far away from what real American women wanted. And so she took in the woman’s request with deep reverence, as she knew nothing was more important to her future sales than her clients’ needs. Blanche or Betty—or whatever the tacky blonde’s name was—was right. It was high time someone came up with something better. Josephine was certainly up to this task. The only problem was that across town, a woman named Constance Gardiner was doing the very same thing.

* * *

Josephine Herz was not, of course, the first to invent mascara. But she would be the first to invent one devoid of mess and fuss and to make it available to the masses. As early as ancient Egypt, women found their facial fix. Considered to be a necessary accoutrement in every woman’s and man’s daily regime, kohl, a combination of galena, lead sulfide, or copper and wax, was applied to the eyes, the eyebrows and lashes, to ward off evil spirits and to protect from sun damage. Most any image of Egyptian gods or goddesses will reveal hieroglyphs, not only on pyramid walls but on the Egyptians’ faces. The bold, black lines on the female face lost fashion over the centuries, especially in more recent times when Victorian ladies eschewed color of all kind on the face. But it was not long before women craved—and chemists created—a new brand of adornment for the eye. Coal, honey, beeswax—all the traditional ingredients had to be tested and tried. Josephine could smell a market maker from a mile away, and in this, she sensed a new moment for the eye. From Los Angeles to Larchmont, women were craving new ways to look like the stars of the silver screen, new ways to dress, look, and behave in a modern woman’s ever-changing role. These women needed a product that would make them look and feel like Garbo or Swanson, something simpler, cleaner, and quicker than the application of false eyelashes every six to eight weeks. These women needed a product that was cheap, fuss-free, and less mess than the old option made from charcoal, which, in the very worst cases, caused blindness.

 

Copyright © 2019 by Richard Kirshenbaum

 

 

Richard Kirschenbaum black and white

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

RICHARD KIRSHENBAUM is the author of Rouge: A Novel of Beauty and Rivalry (St. Martin’s Press). He is CEO of NSG/SWAT, a high-profile boutique branding agency. He has lectured at Harvard Business School, appeared on 20/20, was named to Crain’s New York Business’s “40 under 40” list, and has been inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame. He is the author of Under the Radar, Closing the Deal, Madboy, and Isn’t That Rich? and the New York Observer’s “Isn’t That Rich?” column. He lives in New York City with his wife and three children.

Amazon | Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Finding Treasure in Writer’s Block by Fred Waitzkin

 

 

Deep Water Blues image

 

 

Finding Treasure in Writer’s Block

By Fred Waitzkin

 

Young writers often ask if I am sometimes afflicted by writer’s block and if I’ve discovered a cure. Most writers wrestle with this malady from time to time.  Over the years my relationship to the illness has evolved, and as an older writer I see it as a frustrating companion who at times can offer profound advice.

All authors relish days feeling on fire with a story when sentences pour out, almost without effort or thought. They spill into paragraphs and pages. It feels like riding a magic carpet that will soar on forever. I call such periods, writing within the bubble. But then after days or weeks, inevitably, life gets in the way.

Consider this scenario:  I’m just home from a ten-day fishing trip, determined to get back to my manuscript when my grandson Jack begs me to take him to tomorrow’s Mets game. Instead of going to my office I take Jack to the game. We’re both excited as hell about our trip on the subway…. It’s okay. I’d been on a roll with my story. Another day won’t matter at all. As we rumble toward Mets stadium, I pleasantly recall the feeling of riding the carpet, the story pouring out of me…. I’ll be back there tomorrow.

The Mets lose. Jack cries, inconsolable in his new Mets cap as we’re leaving the stadium. “Why do the Mets always lose, Baba?”

I’m thinking about Jack’s sorrow and the Mets string of losing seasons. I’m disgusted with the Mets, a thickening edifice forming between me and my story.

Next morning I’m finally back in front of my computer after an eleven-day break. I take a look at my last chapter…. Pretty good. I sit at the computer waiting for the words to flow…. Nothing. I wait. Nothing. Four more days pass of nothing. I’m pulling what’s left of my hair. Now I’m living outside the bubble.

Okay, seven days of writer’s block. I’m back in my office at 9:30. I make a cup of tea. I pace around a little. I have a lunch date at 12:30. I’m looking forward to that. I stare at my Mac like it’s the enemy. I begin to pace around. I sip tea. I look at my computer. No way I’m sitting there to suffer any more. I snap on my old radio and listen to sports talk radio, a discussion about the Mets falling apart after a promising start to the season. Every year they do it. They cannot hit…. It’s now 11. I look at the computer, shake my head, no way. I pace in the hall. I come back into the office and read the paper. Now it’s 11:50. Almost time to leave for lunch. Not yet, Waitzkin, not yet. I stall another five minutes, pressure building. It’s twelve. Suddenly I throw myself into my chair in front of the keys. I need to leave my office for lunch in 18 minutes. It’s now or never…, and if I’m lucky, the dam breaks. Words pour out. I’m feverishly typing words that wouldn’t come for days. They are gushing out now when I hardly have time to write them, trying to catch them in the air like butterflies, get them into the machine… I’ve written some of my best paragraph this way, when it was do or die.

Another trick for writer’s block: I always carry around a tiny notebook in my shirt pocket. When I’m riding my bike home along the river, thinking about the Mets losing streak, an idea pops into my head. I stop the bike and jot it into the book. I’m talking to my wife Bonnie and an idea suddenly appears. I’m talking to my son. He shakes his head, annoyed, while I scrawl treasure into my notebook. “Dad never listens to me.”

Two days ago, I was stumped how to end an essay about my artist mother. I woke up after a two-hour nap and suddenly I could see the words hanging in the air in front of me. I wrote them in the notebook before they disappeared…. Carry a notebook. Just having it with you elicits ideas.

I wrote my new novel, Deep Water Blues, without once having writer’s block. It was pure bliss, beginning to end. I’d decided I was going to write a short book, 150 pages or less, something I could hold in my head without having to turn back to see what I’d written two or three years earlier. I was determined to write this one fast. And also, I’d gone into it after having written a screenplay, my first. I wanted this new book to move like a movie.

Deep Water Blues describes a gruesome disaster that takes place to a little island civilization—an island once gorgeous, and peaceful, almost Eden like, and in the aftermath, the island becomes decimated by greed, out-of-control ambition, violence and murder. At the heart of it, Deep Water Blues, which was inspired by true events, is an adventure story. I wanted to tell the story fast, fast and violent with no looking back, no flashbacks, mostly taut bold scenes as in riveting film…. Writing this book took me over like a runaway train.

There was no room for writer’s block in my new book. Pace and length and a harrowing story were the key elements. Maybe I’ll try that again.

 

 

Deep Water Blues image

 

Inspired by a true story, artfully told by the author of Searching for Bobby Fischer: A Bahamian island becomes a battleground for a savage private war.

Charismatic expat Bobby Little built his own funky version of paradise on the remote island of Rum Cay, a place where ambitious sport fishermen docked their yachts for fine French cuisine and crowded the bar to boast of big blue marlin catches while Bobby refilled their cognac on the house. Larger than life, Bobby was really the main attraction: a visionary entrepreneur, expert archer, reef surfer, bush pilot, master chef, seductive conversationalist.

But after tragedy shatters the tranquility of Bobby’s marina, tourists stop visiting and simmering jealousies flare among island residents. And when a cruel, different kind of self-made entrepreneur challenges Bobby for control of the docks, all hell breaks loose. As the cobalt blue Bahamian waters run red with blood, the man who made Rum Cay his home will be lucky if he gets off the island alive . . .

When the Ebb Tide cruises four hundred miles southeast from Fort Lauderdale to Rum Cay, its captain finds the Bahamian island paradise he so fondly remembers drastically altered. Shoal covers the marina entrance, the beaches are deserted, and on shore there is a small cemetery with headstones overturned and bones sticking up through the sand. What happened to Bobby’s paradise?

Amazon | Goodreads | Audible

 

 

Fred Waitzkin image

 

 

Fred Waitzkin was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1943. When he was a teenager he wavered between wanting to spend his life as a fisherman, Afro Cuban drummer or novelist. He went to Kenyon College and did graduate study at New York University. His work has appeared in Esquire, New York magazine, the New York Times Sunday Magazine, the New York Times Book Review, Outside, Sports Illustrated, Forbes, the Huffington Post, and the Daily Beast, among other publications. His memoir, Searching for Bobby Fischer, was made into a major motion picture released in 1993. His other books are Mortal Games, The Last Marlin, and The Dream Merchant. Recently, he has completed an original screenplay, The Rave. Waitzkin lives in Manhattan with his wife, Bonnie, and has two children, Josh and Katya, and two grandsons, Jack and Charlie. He spends as much time as possible on the bridge of his old boat, The Ebb Tide, trolling baits off distant islands with his family. His novel, Deep Water Blues, will be published in spring 2019. You can find more on Fred Waitzkin at his website or check out some exclusive content on Facebook.

 

fredwaitzkin.com | Twitter | Facebook

 

 

Train in snow with reindeer image

 

 

 

 

Stop Looking for Others to Create a Life of Joy – by Renee Linnell

Renee Linnell photo 1

 

 

 

~Easily the best memoir I’ve ever read~

 

 

 

Burn Zone image

 

 

 

Stop Looking to Others to Create a Life of Joy

by Renee Linnell,

Author of The Burn Zone: A Memoir

 

Originally published on Psych Central

 

I believe there is not enough dialogue out there about soul-sickness, especially among wealthy communities. We are taught to believe from a young age that once we have the perfect partner, house, car, children, and careers, we will be happy. And often times this is not the case; the happiness does not come. There is an insatiable need for more. Because there is no dialogue about this, most people think, I am the only one, something is wrong with me, or no one understands me. This leads to deep despair and usually a diagnosis of depression and medication.

I ruined my life searching for peace. I pushed away everyone and everything I loved. I allowed myself to be emotionally, psychologically, and sexually abused. I allowed myself to be brainwashed in seemingly unhealable ways. And what I finally discovered, after all of my searching, is that the peace and happiness for which I had been searching was inside of me all along. But, and this is a big but, I had to be shattered by life to find it. I had to be shattered to finally stop living a life that was not mine. I had to be shattered to finally decide that following my own heart and being true to myself and creating a life that brought me joy was more important than living a life to please other people. I had to be shattered to start questioning what the hell I had been doing and why the hell I had been doing it and to what point.

Why do we feel the need to say, “to death do us part” and bind ourselves to another person? Why do we ignore the intense fear that comes with this decision? How can we even know that this will be in our best interest or the other person’s for the rest of our lives? Many of us do it because everyone else does. Why do we forgo choosing work that we are born to do, work we are naturally skilled at doing, work we love, work that makes our hearts sing and instead choose a career we hate because it pays more? We do this because we are told to do it by our parents or our teachers, and because everyone else does. Why do we dress the way we dress and worship the way we worship and pick romantic partners the way we do? So often it is because we were told to do it this way, or because everyone else does. Often we don’t question any of this. I know I didn’t.

I believe the only way to true joy, to true bliss, to true freedom, is to begin the work of uncovering our real selves—to chip away at the parts of us that are false, the façade we created to please our families, the mask we built so the world would approve of us. Only when we are willing to stand tall in our own uniqueness, with our own idiosyncrasies, will we be able to do the work we came to do, to build the life we always dreamed of, to excel beyond our wildest dreams, and to live in true joy and abundance. When we finally tap into what we naturally are, we discover we already have the exact right skill set to become everything we have always secretly wanted to be.

We are all flawed, we are all damaged, and we are all beautiful. Each one of us is unique; there is no carbon copy. So how can we possibly follow what others are doing? How can what they are doing be right for us? We were born to blaze our own trails. We were all born with unique abilities and skill sets, with unique damage and unique wounds. I believe we are meant to use this combo to discover who we truly are and why we are truly here. Our wounds are not a mistake, they are given to us for a reason, they are Divine. In the healing of them we soften and we open, and we learn how to help others overcome similar damage. In our speaking about them and our owning of them, we encourage others to do the same and as more and more of us speak our Truth, we all eventually realize we are not alone. We have never been alone. We are surrounded by each other, our brother and sister humans, and we are here to support each other on this crazy amazing Earth Walk.

Yes, the decision to live this way is terrifying; but once we decide to do it, we feel the life force energy coursing through us again, we feel the blood pumping through our veins, we rediscover passion and the thrill of not knowing what tomorrow will bring. We are here for such a very short time; I simply cannot believe we were meant to spend that time in loveless relationships stressed about paying bills.

In my journey to wholeness I discovered that me just being me, dressing the way I want to dress, saying the things I want to say, doing the activities I love to do, putting myself first and making sure I am taken care of before I take care of others—living this way brought me so much joy that I began to radiate joy and light and love and kindness. I discovered a joyful me was a radiating me. A joyful me was a kind me. A joyful me was a patient and compassionate and forgiving me. After destroying myself and my life and all that I loved in order to become Enlightened, in order to become Saint-like, I finally realized that the key to my becoming Saint-like was just being me. When we create a life of joy we stop worrying about what others are doing or not doing. We stop pushing against. And instead we begin loving. And we add our light to the sum of light; we shift the consciousness of the planet from fear to love. What better use of our time here on earth than that?   

 

 

 

Renee Linnell photo 2

 

 

About the Author:

Renee Linnell is the author of The Burn Zone: A Memoir (She Writes Press; October 2018). She is a serial entrepreneur who has founded and cofounded five companies and has an Executive Masters in Business Administration from New York University. Currently she is working on starting a publishing company to give people from diverse walks of life an opportunity to tell their stories. She divides her time between Colorado and Southern California. For more information, please visit https://reneelinnell.com and follow Renee on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

 

 

 

 

Author Karen A. Wyle releases her new novel: Water to Water

Water to Water image

 

 

Two young Vushla questioned what everyone knew about death. What should they do with the answer?

When the time comes for Vushla to die, they go into the ocean and are dissolved away. Or so Terrill has always believed, and still believes after taking part in his father’s final journey. But when he meets a young Vushlu who lives by the sea, Terrill must confront information that calls this fundamental belief into question. Will the two of them discover the truth? And what should they do with what they find?

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

 

 

Questionmark at the Wall

 

 

 

*How did you come up with the title for this book? It sounds rather poetic.

–The idea came from a familiar phrase in the English Burial Service: “ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”

 

*What exactly is a Vushla?

–The Vushla (plural — singular is Vushlu) are one of the sentient species on a planet humans haven’t found. They could be described as a cross between a centaur and a tortoise: their general body configuration is that of a centaur, and they are largely covered by many small plates of a hard substance they (and their neighbor species, the Weesah) refer to as armor. The armor is often moved as part of gestures and body language. I envision them as roughly human-sized.

 

*Tell us how the idea for this book came about.

–That was a first for me. The way Vushla typically meet death came to me as an image in a dream. My husband contributed a key plot twist.

 

*What is the connection between the Vushla, water, and death?

–As described in the Preface and in the book blurb, when a Vushlu knows it is dying (I use “it” for unidentified Vushla and Weesah, and he or she for individuals of known gender), it tries to get to the ocean, where it swims or wades into the surf to dissolve away. If it dies on the journey, the friends and relatives accompanying it on the funeral journey hire fisher folk (who have custom-made waterproof suits) to carry the body into the ocean.

 

Whether there are other connections . . . you’ll need to read the book to find out. 🙂

 

*Was your approach different in writing this book?

 

The origin — a dream, as I mentioned above — was different. Otherwise, I did what I usually do: wrote a (very) rough draft during National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo or NaNo; put it aside for a month or so; did multiple revisions and editing passes over the next nine months; sent it to beta readers and made more revisions based on their comments; did the final proofread/edits; and published it (as a preorder) on Amazon and Google Play and via Draft2Digital. (The paperback will, I hope, be ready by the release date of October 17th, at least on Amazon. B&N will take a little longer due to a cumbersome proofing process.)

 

*What comes first the idea or theme?

 

That’s an interesting question, especially this time around. What thematic concerns inspired that dream? I can’t say for sure. I certainly had both mortality and parent-child relationships on my mind, as my father died a little more than six months before NaNo began. (I don’t remember exactly when I had the dream, but I would guesstimate it was a month or so before NaNo.)

 

*What was your experience like writing Water to Water?

 

I can generally keep up with or stay slightly ahead of the pace NaNo requires (an average of 1,667 words per day), and this time was no exception. My confidence in the story fluctuated about as much as usual — which is to say, frequently but not to the point of either ecstatic certainty or profound gloom. I frequently consulted my general science adviser, aka my husband Paul Hager, on various aspects of world-building.

I approached cover design a little differently this time. I’ve most often collaborated with a particular designer, but that collaboration works best when I have some fairly definite starting ideas. This time, the one idea I had felt insufficient. I decided to spring boldly into the red, financially speaking, and invest in a cover from a designer (or rather, a group of designers) I’d long admired, Damonza. I am delighted with the result, which has gotten consistently favorable comment during the book’s Silver Dagger Book Tour (continuing through October 26th).

 

 

 

Karen A Wyle

 

Karen A. Wyle is the author of multiple science fiction novels, including The Twin-Bred Series: Books 1-3; near-future novels DivisionPlayback Effect, and Who: a novel of the near future; and YA near-future novel The Link. Her one novel (so far) outside the SF category is afterlife fantasy/family drama Wander Home. She has also published one nonfiction work, Closest to the Fire: A Writer’s Guide to Law and Lawyers, a resource for authors or for anyone interested in understanding more about American law.

Wyle was born a Connecticut Yankee, but eventually settled in Bloomington, Indiana, home of Indiana University. She now considers herself a Hoosier. Wyle’s childhood ambition was to be the youngest ever published novelist. While writing her first novel at age 10, she was mortified to learn that some British upstart had beaten her to the goal at age 9.

Wyle is an appellate attorney, photographer, political junkie, and mother of two wildly creative daughters. Her voice is the product of almost five decades of reading both literary and genre fiction. It is no doubt also influenced, although she hopes not fatally tainted, by her years of law practice. Her personal history has led her to focus on often-intertwined themes of family, communication, the impossibility of controlling events, and the persistence of unfinished business.

 

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Books & Blurbs: A Sharp Solitude by Christine Carbo

Little girl and open book

 

 

“Reading is a conversation. All books talk. But a good book listens as well.” – Mark Haddon

 

 

A Sharp Solitude Christine Carbo

 

 

A gripping new mystery from the “fresh new voice in the thriller genre” (Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author) and author of The Wild Inside, set in the magnificent and brutal terrain of Glacier National Park—for fans of C.J. Box and Nevada Barr.

 

BLURB

In the darkening days of autumn, in a remote region near the Canadian border, a journalist has been murdered. Anne Marie Johnson was last seen with Reeve Landon, whose chocolate Labrador was part of an article she had been writing about a scientific canine research program. Now Landon is the prime suspect. Intensely private and paranoid, in a panic that he’ll be wrongfully arrested, he ventures deep into in the woods. Even as he evades the detective, Landon secretly feels the whole thing is somehow deserved, a karmic punishment for a horrifying crime he committed as a young boy.

While Montana FBI investigator Ali Paige is not officially assigned to the case, Landon—an ex-boyfriend and the father of her child—needs help. Ali has only one objective for snooping around the edges of an investigation she’s not authorized to pursue: to save her daughter the shame of having a father in jail and the pain of abandonment she endured as a child. As the clock ticks and the noose tightens around Landon’s neck, Ali isn’t sure how far she will go to find out the truth. And what if the truth is not something she wants to know?

A Sharp Solitude is a study of two flawed characters, bonded by a child, trying to make their way in an extraordinary place where escape seems possible. But no one can ever really outrun their demons, even in the vast terrain of Glacier, the ultimate backdrop for a journey of the soul.

 

BLURB RATING – 9/10 

This is a well written blurb that whets your appetite for the story. I love how it begins–“In the darkening days of Autumn, in a remote region near the Canadian border…” I was hooked on the first sentence! You can even say that the first sentence tells a story. You have an interesting setting, a particular season, and dazzling crime to be solved. Boom! Great blurb.

 

First Chapter Impressions 

This is a darling of a first chapter. I love Christine Carbo’s brand of storytelling. Based upon the blurb and the first chapter, this is the story of Reeve Landon and Montana FBI investigator Ali Paige. Told in the first person point of view of Ali Paige you sense that you’re part of the story. Like she’s  sitting right next to you–or better yet, taking you alongside her as the story is told.

It begins with a traumatic experience in Reeve’s childhood, and a sneak peak into his characteristics and personality. Shortly thereafter Reeve and Ali’s relationship is brought into the story with breadcrumbs from Ali’s past. Really looking forward to reading this book!

 

Book Review: The Wild Inside by Christine Carbo – Glacier Mystery Book #1

 

 

 

Christine Carbo author image

 

 

Christine Carbo is the author of The Wild Inside, Mortal Fall, The Weight of Night, and A Sharp Solitude (all from Atria Books/Simon and Schuster) and a recipient of the Womens’ National Book Association Pinckley Prize, the Silver Falchion Award and the High Plains Book Award. After earning a pilot’s license, pursuing various adventures in Norway, and working a brief stint as a flight attendant, she got an MA in English and linguistics and taught college-level courses. She still teaches, in a vastly different realm, as the owner of a Pilates studio. A Florida native, she and her family live in Whitefish, Montana. Find out more at  ChristineCarbo.com

 

 

 

 

Huge Book Haul with Sasha Alsberg

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY!

 

 

 

tele-md

 

 

 

 

HUGE Book Haul Courtesy of Sasha Alsberg on Abooktopia

 

 

 

 

 

Do any of these books sound interesting? Have you read any of them? Tell me in the comments!

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

wwwmysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

MTW Blog Cover Image by Eva

Books & Blurbs with LT Vargus and Tim McBain

Books & Blurbs!!

 

Open Old Book

 

 

 

Please Welcome Bestselling Authors LT Vargus & Tim Mcbain

 

 

 

LT Vargus Headshot

 

 

Authors of Awake in the Dark, Scattered and the Dead, and new Violet Darger series.

 

 

Her body is broken. Wrapped in plastic. Dumped on the side of the road. She is the first. There will be more.

 

 

Image in a Cracked Mirror LT Vargus                           Dead End Girl LT Vargus

 

A new thriller series following Special Agent Violet Darger.

 

 

 

business future uncertain?

 

 

1. What led you to write a serial killer thriller?

We’ve both always been fascinated by serial killers, both in fiction and non-fiction. I remember reading Red Dragon by Thomas Harris years ago and thinking, “Man, I wish I could write like that.”

2. What was your experience writing this genre compared to your other books?

Our first novel, Casting Shadows Everywhere, is basically a thriller. Since then, we’ve written an urban fantasy series, a post-apocalyptic series, and a slasher horror novel. So going back to a straight thriller felt a little like returning home.

 

3. Tell us about FBI agent Violet Darger.

She’s tough but damaged. Violet is hard-nosed and driven in her work, and sometimes that intensity is directed at the people around her and results in conflict.

 

 

FBI

 

 

 

4. Why did you decide Violet would be a rookie agent?

We wanted the first few books to sort of serve as Violet’s origin story, so starting at the beginning of her agent career just made sense.

 

 

 

rookie, 3D rendering, metal text

 

 

 

5. Do you know how many books will be in this series?

Right now we have solid plans for three full length novels, as well as a few novellas. But we intend this series to be open-ended and for each book to be a standalone that could be read out of order.

 

 

Connect with LT Vargus and Tim Mcbain

Amazon | Goodreads | LT Vargus | Twitter | Facebook

 

 

Thank you!

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

Watch “BOOKTALK WITH VERONICA ROTH | SPOILER FREE” on YouTube

It’s Television Tuesday

Veronica Roth speaks on her upcoming release!

 

 

 

 

 

television

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pre-order Carve the Mark on Amazon!

 

 

Are you excited about this book? Tell  me in the comments!

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

 

 

 

 

Check out my other site: Mysterythrillerweek.com

Book Review: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

 

 

 

small-great-things-2

 

 

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (October 11, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345544951
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345544957
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches

 

 

 

According to  Goodreads

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.

 

 

 

MY RATING

 

 

Five golden stars isolated on white background

 

 

 

 

 

First I wanted to thank Jodi Picoult for taking the time to write such a tremendous book. Jodi, if I ever get the chance to meet you I’ll give you a double high five. This great book is no small thing!

 

 

 

high-fives

 

 

 

MY IMPRESSION

 

First it took me awhile to get use to the multiple point of views, but once that happened it became the strength of the story. I commend the author for taking head on things that most people try to avoid. Racism. Prejudice. Bias. I certainly try to avoid these topics like the plague instead of facing them.

Small Great Things employs a heavy theme throughout the book. Jodi makes no attempt to skate around the subjects at hand. Honestly, at first I thought it was a little bit over the top; but then I thought about the interaction between Kennedy McQuarrie and Ruth Jefferson. Kennedy a defense lawyer, did not think it was appropriate, necessary, or wise to bring race into the courtroom. Eventually she fully embraces the matter of race in her own life, both personally and professionally. This helped me to embrace the story more on a thematic level. It’ll never be easy to discuss matters of race, but I’m glad somebody did!

I will always reserve a place in my heart for the great story of Ruth, Kennedy, Edison and Turk Bauer. The embody the real life struggles, challenges, and transformation that we all need.

I greatly appreciate Jodi’s ability to capture the reality of each character and reveal them on the page. Weaving together so many elements is not easy for an author.

 

  • Kennedy McQuarrie– I enjoyed such a classy, witty, gritty, determined and compassionate lawyer. The kind of arc that she went through in the story was quite compelling.
  • Ruth Jefferson– Ruth was special. Such a hardworking individual in so many areas getting caught in the midst of an impossible dilemma. I could sense her pain, frustration and fears. Her transformation also is notable. Really when I consider Ruth, I have to consider Kennedy because they both had such a huge impact on one another.
  • Edison– He was a sweet kid who loved his mother. A bond between a mother and son that shouldn’t be taken for granted.
  • Adisa– She was hilarious! What a potent character. Captured beautifully.
  • Turk Bauer– It was good to see how he developed with all of his experiences good and bad. His trans formative arc was very touching.
  • Brit Bauer– What an intense character! Loved her too. Too bad she suffered such an ending though.

 

Each character is symbolic of something deeply rooted in our society. But love overcomes all things. 

 

 

 

love-heart-762564_960_720

 

 

 

Love suffers long. Love is kind; it is not jealous. Love does not brag and is not puffed up- 1 Cor. 13:4

 

“…does not take account of evil- 1 Cor. 13:5

 

“It covers all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.-1 Cor.13:7

*All verses are taken from the New Testament Recovery version Bible*

 

 

 

“With love, everybody wins.”-Benjamin Thomas

 

 

 

tic-tac-toe-1777815_960_720

 

 

 

 

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.-Nelson Mandela

 

 

 

THANKS JODI PICOULT FOR BEING WONDER WOMAN!

 

 

 

wonder-woman-1016324_960_720

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

Meet the Fabulous Author Jennifer Irwin

 

 

 

a-dress-the-color-of-the-sky

 

 

 

AUTHOR JENNIFER IRWIN

 

 

 

jennifer-irwin

 

 

Please welcome Jennifer Irwin author of A Dress the Color of the Sky. The film rights have been sold and the book isn’t even published yet! Wowsers! That’s pretty impressive if I say so myself.

 

 

 

 

wow-155268_960_720

 

 

 

 

 

Have you written anything before this book?

No. This is my first novel.

Very impressive!

 

 

How did you come to teach Pilates?

I retired from working in advertising after my third son was born but still wanted to work part time. I enjoy helping women feel better about themselves and teaching Pilates was a great avenue to fulfill that desire. I have really enjoyed getting to know all sorts of women through being a Pilates teacher.

There is something very fulfilling being able to help others. I’m glad found something that works for you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

pilates

 

 

 

 

 

How has writing this book help you heal?

Writing is a great creative outlet. I found that the more I put my characters into difficult situations the better I felt. I also enjoyed creating wonderful female friendships for my protagonist, Prudence Aldrich. Women bond through sharing life experiences and it was healing for me to develop female characters who were super supportive of each other.

I find that very interesting. That does sound very healing, in a creative kind of way. Love it.

 

 

 

“Writing is a great creative outlet. I found that the more I put my characters into difficult situations the better I felt.”-Jennifer Irwin

 

 

 

 

 

 

How can this book help others heal?

A Dress the Color of the Sky is the story of a woman healing from a traumatic childhood. After seeing the astounding response to Kelly Oxford’s tweet about her sexual assault experience I am confident that this story will speak to many women. We are all stronger than we believe and we can’t let difficult experiences ruin our lives. It’s important to heal from the past in order to move forward and lead a healthy, happy life. Healing takes work but with the help of a professional it is possible. Prudence had not dealt with her traumatic childhood and as a result she could not seek out healthy relationships nor could she respect herself.

 

Several of these statements really resonate on many levels. I believe healing is critical to our going forward in life. There are a few things I’m still healing from myself. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

health

 

 

 

 

What was your response when you realized the story resonated with women?

Over the past few years I have sought input from test readers. I searched for women whom I believed might not choose a novel like mine. One woman in particular was a senior in college and a pre-professional zoology major. I can honestly say that her review is one of my favorites because I was so surprised by how much my book affected her. She not only couldn’t put it down but the story really spoke to her. Honestly, I can’t wait to share it with the world!

That’s awesome! It has to be the most rewarding experience knowing that your words have affected someone the way it did. I’m jealous 🙂

 

 

Is it true the rights have been sold for movie production? 

Yes! I have sold the feature film rights and A Dress the color of the sky will be made into a major motion picture.

SWEEEEEEETTTT!!!!! I’m so happy for you. You must’ve been thrilled to hear that. I’m thrilled myself and it isn’t even my book!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sold

 

 

 

 

Tell us about your motivation to get your book published.

When I first started querying agents I literally had no idea what I was doing. I do believe that there are a lot of people out there who will take advantage of an author who is chasing their dream. I encourage all authors to be very careful. My first conundrum was writing the perfect query letter. I was fortunate enough to have my query letter chosen to be critiqued on the blog Query Shark. Although I took a bit of a beating I am grateful for the shark’s input and advise. Once I felt I had the perfect query letter I realized that my book needed work so I halted sending out query’s until I felt more confident in my book. Writer’s Digest has a ice little program where you can pay to have your first few pages critiqued by an agent. I got some great input through this program. All the while, I continued to seek input from test readers to improve my novel. I received some lovely responses from literary agents. Although agents are very intimidating and the publishing business is closed, some are very helpful and nice. I ended up entering a publishing contest in which your book idea is voted on.When you meet certain voting platforms you have to complete homework and get a certain grade to move to the next level. my book ended up being the most voted on book idea in the history of the contest and I was offered a publishing contract. It was right then that I received the film rights offer. i will say that through the publishing contest I learned that most of books marketing falls on the author’s shoulders and how important it is to market your book before it gets published. Entering the publishing contest was one of my best moves towards getting published because I learned a tremendous amount from the publisher about social media and how to market on various platforms. It was really valuable to me. Once I sold the film rights I invested in a writing coach and tore my book apart and rebuilt it. Since then, I have signed with a literary agent and have also received a contract offer from a small indie publisher. I guess this is my long answer to your question and the short answer is never give up!

 

I love your determination and what you’ve learned of the marketing and publishing experience. This is food for encouragement for us all. Hip-hip hooray!! Keep learning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

keep-learning

 

 

 

 

 

How did the sample readers relate to the main character?

Since seeking out test readers, I have only received one negative critique and i was from a woman my writing coach chose who never reads fiction. Other than that, every single test reader has related to my book and to the protagonist. I would say the man connection is that pretty much every single human on earth has endured some form of child abuse whether it be something small or big. There’s a scene in my book where Prudence is told to eat everything on her plate. I think most people can relate to having to eat something displeasing when they were a child. I think the other way people relate to Prudence is by reading what she’s thinking in her head which I do a lot in the book. That voice we all have in our head that can be a little mean at times. Everyone seems to relate to that.

 

I can understand and relate to the statements here. Everyone has some form of abuse, wound, or pain of some sort. Sometimes it’s very obvious, sometimes it’s well hidden. In my childhood we were “spanked” pretty heavily; which would be easily considered child abuse by today’s standards.  You also mentioned the point of view that we would relate to. I always find this aspect of a character the most rewarding experience. To feel, experience, see as they do. I recently heard an interesting statement from a sign at my son’s school. It read: “be careful how you speak to your child, because it will become their inner voice.”. What a statement! So true. That becomes the voice that we tend to hear in our heads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

head-1250001_960_720

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How has conducting research affected your understanding of the main character?

Although I can’t really understand exactly how it feels to be an addict I have learned a lot about how addicts recover and heal. There is a saying,”once an addict always an addict” so the work is there every single day which is why AA follows the motto, “one day at a time.” I read every book on sex addiction by Patrick Carnes who is an expert in the field. His assistant recently asked me for an advanced copy of my book which is very exciting. I attended a variety of meetings through the AA program and spoke to many people in recovery. I’d say the best research I did was by accident because my father was a drug addict and alcoholic. I learned through experience how his addiction affected myself, my family and my father.

I appreciate the research you’ve put into this project. It’ll definitely show when people begin to read your work.

 

 

 

 

read-652384_960_720

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you saw people being rehabilitated what was your experience?

Recovering from an addiction takes a tremendous amount of work. it appears to me that success happens when there is a large community of sober people helping. The relapse rate for recovered addicts who stay longer in after care is less than those who try to white knuckle it alone after a ninety day inpatient treatment program. I tried to be careful with all of this and to respect the recovery process in my book. The best results happen with complete immersion in the program. There needs to be a total lifestyle shift and that takes time and commitment. I also learned that addiction does not discriminate and affects  a wide cross section of genders, ages and socioeconomic backgrounds. I doubt that you will meet anyone who has not either directly or indirectly been affected by addiction.

May many people read and find the stubborn wings of hope through the message you send through this book. 

 

 

 

 

 

wings

 

 

 

 

 

Speak about the power of addiction and the concepts about rehabilitation.

Since I do not have a degree in addiction recovery, nor am I a therapist, I am not comfortable speaking in depth about the concept of rehabilitating an addict. I am simply an author who has been affected by addiction and wrote a novel about an addict. I really can’t give sage professional advice to anyone because I am not trained to do so. From a laymen point of view, addiction is a very powerful thing that I cannot personally understand because I am not an addict. It does seem to be very, very powerful to those who are in recovery.

 

Well said. I think of all the people who are under the relentless power of addiction. May they really find the help that they need. 

 

 

 

 

“The only mistake you can make is not asking for help.”-Sandeep Jauhar

 

 

 

 

What message is sent through the main character?

The message sent through the main character is that traumatic childhood experiences can change how you feel about yourself. Because Prudence was abused she viewed herself as a victim. As a result, she was not equipped to choose a healthy partner to share her life with and she didn’t have the strength to endure difficult situations that can arise in relationships. Prudence needed to let go of the shame put on her during her childhood in order to heal and find self love. If a person does not heal from their past they cannot seek out healthy relationships because they are not healthy themselves. 

I love this! Very therapeutic.

 

 

 

“If a person does not heal from their past they cannot seek out healthy relationships because they are not healthy themselves.”-Jennifer Irwin 

 

 

 

 

When will your book be published?

I should be making a decision on who will be publishing my book within the next few months. Once I sign the publishing contract I will have a release date which I can’t wait to announce!

We’ll be desperately waiting.

 

 

 

waiting-410328_960_720

 

 

 

 

 

What’s your next writing project?

I am pitching to write the screenplay with the help of a very accomplished television writer who believes that I have the talent to be a strong contender. Writing the screenplay would be a dream come true! I am also putting together an outline for my next novel which will be a stand alone sequel to A Dress the Color of the Sky.

That sounds really fun. Keep us posted on your progress, we’d love to hear about it. 

 

 

 

Connect with Jennifer: Jenniferirwinauthor.com | @jenirwinauthor

 

 

 

 

 

thank-you-140227_960_720

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for ridin’ the train folks! Now don’t be a stranger, come see us again you hear?

 

 

 

 

 

locomotive-1747952_960_720

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bye-303962_960_720-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com