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3 Ways an Empathic Introvert Can Be a Good Literary Citizen (part 1)

I suck at social things.

Three Myers Briggs tests have found me to be an off-the-chart introvert, and my abilities as an empath once made me fear I was secretly from Deanna Troi’s home planet. It’s not a great combination. I soak up everything around me and it leaves me drained.

This doesn’t mean I can’t function around people. I’m practiced at faking normality. (Aren’t we all?) What it does mean is I can’t deal with people for very much or for very long, and still write.

The first time I heard the phrase Good Literary Citizen, my heart sank.

The problem is I agree with the principals behind the idea, but I’m not well suited to putting them in practice. However, over the years I’ve found three avenues that work well for me, at least in limited quantities. I’ve found corollaries of these that have the capability to be my kryptonite. This post will cover one such set. (Two more posts are coming.)

One Problem:

I’m from the US. Put me and a handful of other Americans in a room full of Brits and I’ll be the first one to start talking with a slightly British accent and I won’t even notice it. Yes, I have my own voice, but it’s as mutable as everything else about me. If I’m not careful, I write like the last person I read.

One Solution:

Read short things by different people, and read lots of them.

I’ve become a great fan of flash fiction. My genre is speculative, so I subscribe to Daily Science Fiction. Most days they send me a story of 1000 words or less. Some are brilliant. Occasionally one is kind of dumb. Every few days I read several of them at once. This keeps me current on themes and word choices floating around in my chosen genre, without any one author getting too deeply into my head.

Sometimes, DSF lets readers vote for stories they like. I always take a minute to do this to support authors who impress me. I also seek them out elsewhere and follow them or list their works as “want to read.” It’s my way of giving them a quick thumbs up before I move on to my own writing. (I also save their stories to reread and inspire me to write better.)

What to Avoid:

I avoid long novels by others, and I will not let myself get involved in a series. Not now. Not me. I can read all those great series out there when I retire. I’m looking forward to it.

I also avoid authors with too distinctive of a voice. There’s nothing wrong with them; in fact some of them are great. They just aren’t for me right now. Again, someday …

As a result (1) I’m generally writing, (2) I generally sound like me, whatever that is, (3) I’m not completely out of touch with what is happening in my genre and (4) I’m doing at least something to support other authors.

I think it’s a win-win-not lose situation. Given my constraints, I’ll take it.

 
 

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The Red Pearl

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Chloe Helton and her novel The Red Pearl.

Author’s description of the book:

“The Red Pearl is a delight. Meticulously researched, it transports the reader to the inns and backstreets of Boston in 1778. Lucy Finch’s personal tragedy spurs her on to take an active role in the revolutionary war, despite the immense danger it brings to herself, her family and friends. Ms. Helton’s characters are warm, living beings with gifts and flaws. Their relationships are altered — broken or strengthened — by the battles on distant fields and the evil of individuals closer to home.” – Carrie Bedford, Author of Nobilissima

There’s something peculiar about the small group of men who have begun to frequent The Red Pearl, the tavern that has hosted a variety of Boston’s men since before the Revolutionary War began. In a rebellious city that does not tolerate Loyalists, men could come here and speak freely without fear of the repercussions — and Jasper Finch, the tavern-keeper, has always been proud of that.

But now the war is in full force, and Lucy Finch — the tavern-keeper’s wife — is growing nervous about The Red Pearl’s most loyal customers. Their clandestine meetings and hushed whispers suggest dark secrets — secrets which may threaten the safety of Boston, and the future of the war itself.

Lucy struggles to stay loyal to her husband’s wishes while grappling with the surprising truths of America’s war for independence. When a terrible assault makes her ache for revenge, she must make a choice: Will she keep quiet about the explosive secrets she has learned, or will she expose them and risk her marriage and possibly her life?

Set in the wild and unpredictable world of the Revolutionary War, fans of historical fiction will fall in love with Lucy Finch, who faces impossible choices that may change the fate of a nation.

About the Author:

Chloe Helton is the author of four historical fiction novels, including And the Stars Wept and the Wattpad favorite A Thousand Eyes. Her readers have journeyed with her from the shores of Elizabethan England to the stormy battlefields of the Civil War in search of the often-hidden stories of women who made history.

Find Chloe at her website, or on Goodreads, on Facebook, on Book Bub, or on Twitter.

Purchase her book here at the Amazon link for The Red Pearl.

Yes there is a giveaway:

Chloe Helton will award a randomly drawn winner a $15 Amazon/BN GC.

Enter here to win

My favorite excerpt:

“I came to tell you something to pass to your captain.”

“Such as?”

“Information. Men talk, especially when they’re drinking in the tavern, and I’ve heard things that might be of interest.”

“Tavern gossip is not our concern, Lucy. It was good to see you.”

My lips pursed. Jonathan had never been the most friendly of us, but this was rude. “No. I paid fifteen pennies and took a whole day to come here, which my husband would have my hide for if he knew of, by the way, and I won’t let you pass me off. As your sister, I deserve to be listened to, at least.”

He looked away, then sighed. “I regret my rudeness. You may speak.”

Tempted to clench my jaw – you may speak, how patronizing of him – I launched into the story immediately, my enthusiasm spiraling with every word, and when I finished I glanced at him proudly, anticipating his astonished and impressed smile.

His fingers twitched. “Thank you,” he said flatly. “I’m sure it will be taken care of.”

That didn’t sound right. “You’re not going to do anything about it?”

There were a few other soldiers on the other side of the empty pit, and they perked up for a moment at my urgent tone.

“We get dozens of tips like this,” my brother informed me quietly. “The colonists never have a problem foiling British shipments.”

“You don’t understand. They’ve gotten away with it so far; they said they’ve never had a ship that didn’t pass through.”

He considered this. “Okay.” It wasn’t a rejection, but it wasn’t a promise, either. It was less than he would have given Thea, who had married a good patriot, whose first love had not been so wild as to scare our father into marrying her to someone so absurdly sensible as my husband.

“I promise you, I am speaking truth,” I told him. “I wouldn’t bring this to you if I didn’t believe it.”

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish.

Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

A Personal Note from Me:

I knew I wanted to feature this book as soon as I read the description. I love stories of strong women who affect history! My own blurb for One of One also contains the phrase “the fate of a nation.” It’s a great phrase; it never fails to give me the shivers.

Although I didn’t get a chance to read this fascinating novel in time to review it along with this post, it sits high on my to-be-read list.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on November 29, 2019 in other authors

 

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Viable Hostage

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Audrey J. Cole and her novel Viable Hostage.

Author’s description of the book:

Malorie’s best friend is missing, but no one seems concerned about the wayward medical student’s mysterious disappearance—until another student’s partial remains wash ashore a Seattle beach…

When Malorie witnesses her best friend and roommate leave a campus bar with a mystery date driving a silver Mercedes, she suspects foul play, especially when Lani fails to return home the next day. Both women, med students in their final year at Elliott Bay University, have a lot riding on the line, but due to Lani’s wild past, no one in her family is worried. When Malorie’s fears for her roommate deepen, she turns to her Uncle Wade, a Sergeant at Seattle Homicide.

Within 48 hours after Lani goes missing, the partial remains of a brutally murdered young woman wash up on Alki Beach, and a human hand is found in a crab pot off Bainbridge Island. When one of the bodies is identified as a pregnant, fourth-year medical student, Wade believes there’s a connection with Lani’s disappearance. And, that they might be looking for a serial killer.

Malorie suspects Lani’s kidnapper is someone they know, possibly even one of their professors at the university, a prominent Seattle anesthesiologist whose wife is the president of EBU. But when Detective Blake Stephenson discovers evidence that links another suspect to the professor’s Mercedes, he and Wade must act fast to attempt a wild rescue in the middle of Puget Sound.

About the Author:

Audrey J. Cole is a registered nurse and a USA Today bestselling author of thrillers set in Seattle. Audrey lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two children. Find her at:

Viable Hostage Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Viable-Hostage-Emerald-City-Thriller-ebook/dp/B07XB3HG5V
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Audrey-J-Cole/e/B071GFZMLT/
Website: https://www.audreyjcole.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AudreyJCole
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/audrey-j-cole
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/audreyjcole/

My Review:

This is a tidy, fast-paced medical crime novel sure to please fans of this genre.

What I liked best:

  1. I love reading books in which the author knows her subject matter well. Ms. Cole clearly brings a lot of medical expertise to her writing, and a knowledge of the Seattle area to this novel.
  2. The book is well-paced. It moves seamlessly from crime to solution and delivers enough of the unexpected to be satisfying.
  3. There is a diverse and interesting cast of characters, and a quite likeable main character.
  4. Multiple points of view (particularly that of the killer) are done well, and provide suspense without giving away the ending.

What I struggled with:

  1. Some of this novel is downright grisly and I happen to be a reader who shies away from such things. In fact, I’m so squeamish I don’t even want to hear about medical details. So, while I admire Ms. Cole’s expertise, the book and I were not a good fit. I’d steer those of my ilk away from it.
  2. I felt the book would have benefited from more character development in general, and especially more depth surrounding the main character. She appears to be a fascinating young medical student, yet we learn almost nothing about her other than her devotion to her missing friend.

I do, however, recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys stories that live at the intersection of solving crimes and of performing medical research. I think this is a tough place to write with both accuracy and suspense, and Ms. Cole is to be commended for doing both.

Yes there is a giveaway:

Audrey J. Cole will award a randomly drawn winner a $15 Amazon/BN GC.

Enter here to win

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish.

Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My favorite excerpt:

There was something evil in the way he had looked at her. He was dangerous. Psychotic. Malorie could see it in his eyes. Those cold, dark eyes. He was chasing her.

Malorie ran faster, with so much adrenaline she didn’t feel the ache in her legs or the burn in her lungs as she gasped for air. She could feel him getting closer. Hear the sound of his boots scrape against the pavement behind her. He’s going to kill me.

She felt him close in behind her. A sharp pain ripped through her arm as he grabbed her and drew her close to him with tremendous strength. Malorie opened her mouth to scream as she was awakened by the sound of her alarm.

She wasn’t being chased. She was in Lani’s room. She sat up in her roommate’s bed, sweating through her t-shirt and breathing hard.

She silenced her alarm, flooded simultaneously with relief that it was just a dream and the familiar dread that her best friend was missing and possibly never coming back.

A personal note:

Why did I pick this book to review? Well, my own book One of One is about a young woman who is taken hostage and rescued by women who care about her. I’m always looking for kindred spirits, writing-wise, and this seemed to be about something similar. Cool, I thought.

Even though the book didn’t quite turn out to be about what I thought, I do think it is good to get out of your comfort zone and read different types of things.

Also, I received a free electronic copy of this book, which would never be enough to make me write a better review for anyone.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on November 14, 2019 in other authors, writing

 

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The Gumbeaux Sistahs

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Jax Frey and her novel The Gumbeaux Sistahs.

Author’s description of the book:

Five Southern women wage a hilarious war against the ageism problems of one of their deep-in-trouble sisters using their improbable friendships, evil-genius schemes, oh-so-numerous cocktails, and a shared passion for good gumbo.

When southern artist, Judith Lafferty, loses her long-time, prestigious museum job to a much younger man, she finds herself devastated, alone in her sixties, and on the brink of financial disaster. Enter the incomparable Gumbeaux Sistahs, who deliver day-old coffee to her front door as a ploy, then go on to kidnap her, feed her excellent gumbo, and come up with outrageous solutions to her problems. Their motives are just good excuses to drink wine, have a great time, argue over whose mother makes the best gumbo, and, most of all, help a sister out. Ageism, dangerous boyfriends, deep loneliness, and any other challenges that can face the over fifty crowd don’t stand a chance against these five resourceful ladies. The Gumbeaux Sistahs is a heart-warming, smart story of friendship and unexpected shenanigans that you do not want to miss.

About the Author:

Born in New Orleans, Jax Frey came into this world, whooping and hollering, with a sense of love and celebration of Louisiana culture, food, family and fun.  Translating that celebration into her writing and onto canvas is her true calling.  Her colorful art depicts everything-Louisiana from her dancing Gumbeaux Sistahs paintings to her popular line of original Mini paintings.  Because over 25,000 of the mini paintings have been created and sold into art collections worldwide, Jax holds a world’s record for The Most Original Acrylic Paintings on Canvas by One Artist.

Jax is also the co-founder of the Women of Infinite Possibilities, an empowering women’s organization started in Covington, LA, where Jax lives today with her lovable, tornado-of-a-pug named Lucy. The Gumbeaux Sistahs is her debut novel.

You can find  Jax Frey on her website or on Facebook. Email her at jaxfreyart@gmail.com. Also visit this website to see her art!

A Personal Note from Me:

I knew when I read Jax Frey’s biography that I had to host this book. For one thing, I lived in Lafayette Louisiana for nearly seven years. While gumbo has never been my specialty, I did leave Louisiana with a great etouffee recipe given to me by a local. It’s still a staple of my cooking. Believe me, food from this region is more than something to eat. It’s a whole philosophy of life!

But more importantly, I love the her organization Women of Infinite Possibilities, so I’ve included a link to it as well. The website says “Women of Infinite Possibilities was founded in September 2009 as a non-profit organization dedicated to touching the lives of one-thousand women in a powerful and meaningful way.” Wow. Sounds like they’ve done that and more.

Purchase The Gumbeaux Sistahs on Amazon

Yes there is a giveaway:

Jax Frey will award a randomly drawn winner a $25 Amazon/BN GC and will award a second randomly drawn winner a print copy of the book (US only).

Enter here to win

My favorite excerpt:

“While he talked, he kept slamming his fist against the countertops. He threw things like the salt and pepper shakers and the tea kettle across the room, and slammed a couple of open drawers shut. Each slam sounded like a gunshot to me. He went on and on. Luke always did like the sound of his own voice. I sat there waiting for the first punch, the first shove, the first something. I remember thinking that I knew he wouldn’t stop this time. I knew Luke was getting ready to kill me. I waited for the end. And I know this sounds crazy, but I remember that I was thinking that poor Bea was going to come home to a horrible mess in her house. Isn’t that the craziest thing?”

“You’re a kind person. It doesn’t surprise me a bit, honestly. Did he hurt you badly, Helen?”

“No,” she said, simply, “Bea killed him.”

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish.

Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

 

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on October 11, 2019 in art for peace, other authors, writing

 

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Available Now as an Audio Book!

One of One has been turned into an audio book! It wasn’t easy, and to be honest it wasn’t cheap, but worthwhile things often aren’t. I have to hope this is one of those worthwhile things.

It’s available here directly from Audible. ($13.97)

It’s available through One of One’s Amazon sales page. (Obviously just pick “audiobook.”)

It’s also on iTunes for $17.99, easily found under Audiobooks > Sci-Fi & Fantasy > S. R. Cronin.

I’m pleased with the final result. The narrator has a rich voice, honed by years of class room teaching. He’s intimately acquainted with the nuances of the story.

He built a special soundproof room in which to do this, and invested in a fair amount of professional grade equipment as well. Most chapters were recorded all or in part several times, until he was happy with the results. Then he had me listen to them and fixed anything I didn’t like.

Did I mention that I’m married to him?

No, I didn’t marry him in order to get him to record the book; we’ve already been married for a while. He offered to do this under a pen name for me, so it wouldn’t sound like I was related to my narrator. I declined. I think its kind of cool the way it is.

I was also very happy with the local (Asheville) sound engineer we found to turn our DIY efforts into something more polished. For a non-trivial but also not ridiculous fee, he smoothed our files into something more professional, added in a special sound for my many scene changes, created our audio sample and helped us craft the “intro and outro” sections.

Please listen and see what you think.

 

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2019 in One of One, writing

 

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Having Lunch in Dubai for World Peace

I have no doubt that the more time people spend together, and the more they understand each other, the less likely they are to hate or kill each other. I feel so strongly about this that I wrote a book about how truly understanding another person would make it far more difficult to kill them.

Every so often I discover a group acting on similar ideas to make the world a better place, and it fills me with joy. Yesterday I had the privilege of having lunch with members of such a group.

I’m in Dubai, the largest city of the United Arab Emirates. This modern, cosmopolitan city of over two million is a whopping 82% expats. They come from every continent, culture and religion and, in spite of their current location, they bring plenty of biases and misunderstandings with them regarding Muslims in general and the Emirates in particular.

Enter a group called “Open Door, Open Minds.” Their idea is pretty much what you would guess. Come have a meal with us. Let us show you some of how we live while you ask questions. Any questions.

This organization not only performs outreach to Dubai’s many residents born elsewhere, but they also invite tourists coming through Dubai to participate. I was lucky enough to be in a tour group that did so.

The food is plentiful, and the hosts are warm and sincere. They invite you to try on the traditional clothing worn by your gender, and they take you on a tour of an old home.

They also answer whatever awkward questions the group wants to throw at them. Ours was pretty polite, but I got the impression that not all others were.

A map in the hallway shows the many places these tourists have come from. Have there been enough of them to achieve world peace? Of course not. But  ….. it’s a start.

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2019 in empathy, travel

 

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An Irish Worldcon: I’m here!

A year ago today, I set off on a four week cross-country trip alone, visiting the high plains town I grew up in, the mountain cabin I wrote my first short story in and spending days at Burning Man. It was an amazing trip. Now, probably because I just finished season 3 of The Good Place, I’m fascinated with unintended and even unexpected consequences. It’s no surprise, that trip had many.

One of them was meeting someone who’s mother lived in my hometown in North Carolina. Months later, the mom and I met to share a glass of wine. We discovered we both loved science fiction, and by the end of the conversation (and the bottle of wine) we were talking about attending Worldcon 2019 together in Dublin. I’m still not sure how our conversation got there.

And yet, here we are. You gotta love how things sometimes work out.

This is my first worldcon, and hers, and we’ve both selected a non-stop itinerary for five days of panels and workshops and readings by author’s we like and, well, we’ll see just how much of this actually works out…

I’ve also volunteered for a few things, and it looks like that will keep this all interesting. I’ll be helping out at the Science Fiction Writers Association reception on Thursday and their table on Friday. I’ll be handing out worldcon volunteer assignments in the staff lounge three of the days. Most exciting of all, I’ve signed up to help with the stage crew of the opening ceremony and the Hugo awards which will be given out Sunday night.

My specific assignment? I’m going to get to run one of the spotlights! For some bizarre reason, I find this very exciting.

I’ll be posting more as the week goes on …

Read more at And the winner, she is …., at Feeling at home , at Forward into the Past and at A New Irish Experience.

 

 

 

 
8 Comments

Posted by on August 14, 2019 in being better, other authors, travel, writing

 

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