Thursday, April 30, 2009


The Successful Novelist, David Morrell, Sourcebooks Inc, 2008, 281 pp

The subtitle of this book is "A Lifetime of Lessons About Writing and Publishing." David Morrell is the author of First Blood, (1972), the novel from which "Rambo" was made. I have never read any of his novels though he's written 19 of them, the most recent of which was published in 2007. In any case, he knows what he is talking about.

I read the book over several months. I am usually reading something about writing as a means of keeping me inspired and reminding myself that it is something one actually has to sit down and do. Morrell touches all the bases and his writing is fine. It moves along, is conversational and even covers a few facts I had not known before. For example, an author should buy up as many copies of any novel he wrote which is remaindered and sell them himself at readings and through his website.

The sections I liked best were at the beginning when he told his life story, how he became a novelist and then how he became successful. There is also a great chapter on how to focus your story. I will be suing this book in my continuing efforts to write some decent fiction.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


A Mercy, Toni Morrison, Alfred A Knopf, 2008, 167 pp

My most anticipated book of 2008 was as great as I hoped it would be. Toni Morrison is in my personal list of top three favorite authors, a list which also includes Margaret Atwood and Barbara Kingsolver. I have read all of their novels and someday I am going to read them all again. Each of these authors showed me what great fiction by women is.

There have been so many reviews of A Mercy that I feel no need to cover anything already written about the book, so I'll just say what I found. Of course, the characters and their voices; each main character gets a voice and you see the tale from those different points of view.

One reviewer complained that Morrison is too woman centered and never has a sympathetic male character. I disagree. There are two men in A Mercy who are clearly men with a man's outlook and who are men of the 17th century, but they do not hate women or children and in fact care for and understand women and children in their way.

That said, it is a story of women (White, Native American and Black) and their varying degrees of servitude versus freedom. In fact it is a story of self-discovery and quests for freedom by each of four women; a story of their various relationships with each other. Morrison delves into trust, loyalty, caring and teaching between women. Basically her themes are all there.

I hope this will not be her last novel but she is in her 70s and I may have to accept that she is done with novels. If so, I'll say in tribute that all women of whatever color or station in life could benefit from this and all of her books because Morrison's truth is that slavery, servitude, oppression, belittling, while they are the ugly sins of humans against each other, only exist and are perpetuated because some of us agree to be enslaved, forced to serve, oppressed and belittled.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


One for the Money, Janet Evanovich, Scribner, 1994, 320 pp

I was born in Pittsburgh, PA but I was raised in New Jersey. Granted, it was Princeton, NJ, a college town filled with snooty rich people and condescending intellectuals of various religious and political persuasions. In junior high, I (the most nonathletic of girls) signed up for the field hockey team. It was pure torture for me and I can't imagine what I was thinking, but amongst our opponents, I met a whole new type of girl: tough talking jocks who also wore teased hair and lots of make-up (off the hockey field), chewed gum ferociously, swore and did things with boys. I can't say that I ever joined them but I was fascinated. My mother was horrified.

Stephanie Plum I could never be but I'm afraid that I have found a new heroine to love. Luckily I get to be the vicarious tough girl at least 14 more times. I am already a Sara Paretsky fan, but her PI is a more socially conscious woman. Stephanie is pure Jersey girl and at least so far, she is in it for the money. In One For the Money, she becomes a bounty hunter for her cousin's bail bond business. That means chasing down anything from drunks to drug dealers to highly dangerous criminal psychopaths who "failed to appear" in court; they are called FTAs.

Then there is Joseph Morelli, a cop on the lam because he is falsely accused of murder one, but also is Stephanie's childhood associate who introduced her to sex and took her virginity. He is the one she is after in this novel and I have a feeling from reading previews of the later books, that he is going to stick around.

Great fun, fast reading, scary moments, all the elements for a totally escapist read and way more entertaining than any chick lit. Thanks to my blogging friend Piksea, another intrepid Jersey girl (check out her blog at, who finally convinced me to read Janet Evanovich.


Dear Readers,

Finally I am back home. Sadly, after three months of hospital, rehab and time at home, my mom passed away on Easter Sunday morning. She made a mighty effort to recover from her strokes and all else that happened to her through the wonders of modern medicine, but at last I think she realized that life would never be the same for her and in fact would be so reduced in quality that it was time to move on.

Some say that I was lucky to be able to be with her everyday for the last three months of her life, and indeed I was. But it made losing her that much more intense. We had our difficulties over the years, my mom and I. I was never probably the daughter she thought I would be. Still, in our later years, we found a way to be at peace with each other and treasure in each other what we could. I got so much from her. If anyone reading this has ever had trouble with your mother, I can say that she is in you, deep within you, and only time will show you in what ways. The good and the bad. Luckily for me, with my mom, it was mostly good.

Now I am back to my blog. We will see if I still have any readers. I hope so and I hope to hear from you. I have lots of books to post about and the first one is about a girl whom my mom could not stand. Ha! Life is so weird.