Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas Readers and Writers

However you spend the holidays I hope they are special for you. I will be with family and friends and will reflect on this past year as I've continued to struggle writing my third book, while still promoting my first two. May your holidays go well and may the new year bring you great writing inspiration!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Book Review

The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Rachel Watson rides the train every day to her non-existent job outside London. Recently divorced (her husband cheated) depressed, and an alcoholic, she continues this ruse so her landlady won't know she was fired from her job. Rachel's husband is now married to his mistress, Anna, and they have a baby, adding to Rachel's misery. Each day the train passes her former home, as well as the home of an apparently loving couple whom Rachel has assigned fictional names. When Rachel sees something from the train window that shocks her, and when later the female she has observed goes missing, Rachel decides to go the police. Unfortunately Rachel is not considered a reliable witness. The story unfolds in the voices of Rachel, Anna, and Megan (the missing lady), and as the suspense builds, nothing is as it seems. This is a real page turner, well written and plotted. The ending was surprising but satisfying.

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Book Review

Private Vegas (Private, #9)Private Vegas by James Patterson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I'm a fan of Patterson but this book was one big disappointment. It should have been called Private Santa Monica since almost all the action takes place there.  Patterson writes with a partner, but this one reads like it was written by a committee, and they never got together to make a cohesive story.  In fact, this could be a book of short stories strung together by a very weak thread.  And the ending!!! I turned the page looking for the next chapter, but the book was over.  Jack Morgan, head of Private is the weak link here among stories that involve rich teenagers with a grudge against other rich people, a scam in Las Vegas where showgirls are taught how to marry a rich old man, a protracted trial featuring Rick Del Rio wrongly accused of almost beating a woman to death, two "royals" from the mythical kingdom of Sumar who love to find fat women and abuse or kill them, and a lady named Lori who loves to drive fast and is seen only in the first and last chapters of the book. Other characters too numerous to mention come and go at whim it seems. Really not worth reading unless you're desperate for a book and it's the only one around.


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Monday, August 31, 2015

THE PARIS ARCHITECT

This is a beautifully written book about a terrible time in history, the occupation of Paris by the Germans during WWII. The Gestapo search for Jews, especially wealthy ones, to take their homes and possessions after they torture and kill them. Anyone caught harboring a Jew will receive the same fate. The streets are constantly patrolled, food is scarce, and everyone lives in fear. Still, there are Frenchmen willing to risk their lives to save Jewish people. Auguste Monet is one of them. He is a wealthy industrialist who engages the talents of Lucien Bernard, an architect, to design a hiding place within an apartment that will cleverly conceal its inhabitants should there be a search. Lucien is desperate for money as he has no commissions but at first declines. When he learns that a chance to design a factory will follow if he agrees to the hiding place, he reluctantly goes along. Thus begins a successful collaboration and a great deal of money in Bernard's pocket. The author is also an architect. He describes the design process as it relates to the story but does not overdo it as some experts do when writing about their area of expertise.

As Lucien begins to accept more commissions from Monet, he begins to enjoy outwitting the Germans, although he must interact with them in the building of the factories he is asked to design. Lucien's wife leaves him as she cannot adjust to his new endeavors and fears for their lives. 

When one of the hiding places is discovered, albeit after the inhabitants had escaped, the Gestapo begins a search for the clever architect who designed it. Lucien begins a "cat and mouse" game, takes in a Jewish boy who is passing as a Catholic, and enters into a romantic relationship with a French woman who is also hiding two children.

The beauty of Paris and the description of palatial homes is set against the fear and dread everyone feels with the oppression presented by the German occupation. As the story unfolds, Lucien must outwit the Germans and keep himself safe until he can flee the country.

The book ends realistically and shows that not all Germans were happy with what they were doing. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Great Book for You

I'm reading a great book, "The Paris Architect".  A book review will be coming soon!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Interview with Actress and Novelist Harley Jane Kozak

Harley Jane Kozak is an actress whose screen credits include Parenthood, The Favor, and Arachnophobia.  If that isn’t enough to keep her busy, she ventured into novel writing a few years ago, creating the most engaging female protagonist in the person of Wollie Shelley.  Wollie designs greeting cards but spends most of her time trying to stay out of trouble.  The four novels featuring Wollie are laugh-out-loud funny.  Harley recently spoke at the Orange Branch of the California Writers Club about her acting and writing career.  Later we chatted about her interesting life.

JF:  Before you became a novelist you had a successful movie and television career.  How did that come about?

HK: The usual way: practice, practice, practice!  I started acting at the age of five (in North Dakota), continued through high school (in Nebraska), graduated from NYU School of the Arts, waited tables, did five years on the soaps, moved to L.A., and just kept working.  I’ve done about 50 plays, and dozens of films, TV series, and commercials.


JF:  When did you decide to write your first book, Dating Dead Men?  Did you realize how funny it would be?

HK:  I started in the mid-90’s while on a movie set and no, I didn’t know it would be funny.  I was trying for literary fiction.  Something profound.  And then a dead body showed up, and, well. . .


JF:  When I first met Wollie, I thought, move over Stephanie Plum, there’s a new girl on the scene.  Wollie’s such a lovable character.  You’ve been compared to Janet Evanovich.  What is that like?

HK:  It is VERY flattering.  I’ve loved Janet E. since One for the Money.  I got to interview her for a feature article and she was fascinating.  And funny.  And generous.  Years later she was kind enough to blurb one of my books.  I had to stop reading her early on, though, because I'm an inadvertent mimic and I didn’t want to unconsciously steal from her.


JF:  Your readers will learn a lot about the movie and television industry through your books.  Is it really quite as difficult as it seems?

HK:  Far more difficult, but with less murder.  But really, if it were easy, wouldn’t everyone be doing it?


JF:  Do your future plans include more novels about Wollie, more movies/TV, or both? 

HK:  No novels about Wollie are in the near future, although I do know what happens to her after Book Four and could, if you twisted my arm, write more about her; and yes, after a 15-year hiatus to raise my three kids (now teenagers) I’m acting again.  It’s a lot more fun and less stressful, now that I’ve outgrown the leading lady category.  I’m also writing my sixth novel, when I’m not driving someone to soccer practice or cross-country.  My fifth novel was a paranormal romance, which was quite a departure from Wollie, who never had to deal with elves or spells or teleportation.  So yes, I am that person who is trying to Have It All.


For more information about Harley’s latest adventures visit her website at:


www.harleyjanekozak.com

No Title - No Suggestions

So disappointing!  I'd hoped that someone would have an idea I could use.  I guess if it's hard for me to come up with a title to my own book, it's even harder for someone else.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Third Book - No Title

This lovely picture of Sorrento, Italy reminds me of my time there a few years ago.  I'm looking at it for inspiration as I'm coming up dry for a title as I write my third novel in my Probation Officer series.  As you've probably noticed, my first two books begin with a "NO...." theme and I want to continue it for the third one.  Sue Grafton has her alphabet, Janet Evanovich has her numbers, and James Patterson also does numbers in his women's murder club series. Themes tend to have readers remember your work, and writers want to be remembered.  Especially when someone is looking for a good book to read.  Linda Davenport, my protagonist, is being stalked in my third book.  Her life is threatened.  Keeping her safe until the stalker is caught is the main concern of the probation department where she works.  This puts a real damper on her life while she tries to plan her wedding and carry out her duties at work.  Titles such as "No Way Out" or "Nowhere to Turn" don't work for me.  I think they've probably been used already.  Although there's no copyright on titles, I'd still like one that is original.  Any thoughts from you writers out there?  If someone has an idea and I use the title, that someone will get attribution when the novel is published.  Would love to hear any ideas.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

CURIOUS?

When I was writing my first novel a friend asked me if I had a lot of sex in it.  "Sex sells you know."  I just laughed and didn't answer her.  Yes, I know sex sells - magazines, books, movies, and many other things.  But did I want my book to sell because it catered to prurient interests?  No.  I'm not a prude and not opposed to a story having some sex in it, as long as it is germane to the story line and not overly graphic. But I hoped my book would sell because if was a good story, well written.Why did I title this "Curious"?  Because a few days ago my daily newspaper had a large banner covering the front section with the word "Curious" written across it.  When opened there were two full page ads for the movie "Fifty Shades of Grey."  I haven't read the book or seen the movie and don't intend to do either.  Therefore I can't honestly critique the book or the movie.  However, many book reviews by critics as well as friends of mine whose opinions I respect, have all mentioned the poor quality of the writing and the story line.  So what propelled the book to such great success?  The sex, of course.  The author has made a great amount of money, as well as the book sellers, and movie producers.  I read today that the movie opened with an extremely high gross, surpassing other movies on their opening day.  So everyone's happy.  Is anyone proud?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Book Review


The GoldfinchThe Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Theodore Decker has already been abandoned by his father. When his beloved mother dies in a museum explosion, Theodore manages to escape unharmed, carrying a painting that his mother had admired. He keeps it hidden, afraid the authorities will find it and arrest him. Theodore is taken in by the wealthy parents of a schoolmate who are kind to him but he never feels like part of the family. When his father suddenly appears, with his girlfriend, Theodore is taken to live with him in Las Vegas.  His father's occupation is shady and Theodore suspects illegal.  Left alone most of the time, he makes the acquaintance of Boris, a street-smart Russian boy who introduces Theodore to the world of drugs and dishonesty. When Theodore's father is killed in an auto accident, he makes his way back to New York and moves in with an antique dealer, whose partner was killed in the museum explosion that killed Theodore's mother.  Boris and Theodore reconnect when they are adults and enter a world of intrigue, unhappy love affairs, and more drugs. The painting figures prominently in the progression of this story, which is well written, but I think a bit over-rated.  The ending is somewhat philosophical and left me dissatisfied. Does the painting get returned to the museum?  Does Theodore get arrested for having a stolen painting?  You'll have to read it to find out.


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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Side Benefits of Book Marketing

If you've published a book, then you're involved in promoting it. Like it or not, unless you're a BIG name author, if you want your books to sell, you must spend more time than you'd like marketing them. How you do it depends on the type of book you write, your identified audience, and many other factors that depend on your own willingness to pursue. I write mystery novels, set in southern California, with stories that unfold through the probation system where I worked. I include familiar local places throughout my books. My primary audience is those who live in my area and are mystery fans. One of the ways I acquaint people with my books is to ask those I meet in various local places if they read fiction. If they say "yes" then I offer them a flyer which provides brief information about my books, my background, and how the books can be obtained. This has led to not only sales, but to meeting many interesting people who have invited me to speak to their book clubs or other social groups. Recently I met Lorna at a local restaurant. She was having lunch with a friend and my husband and I were seated nearby on the restaurant patio. She graciously accepted the flyer my husband offered and subsequently bought my books. Lorna is an aspiring writer who recently moved to southern California. I invited her to attend our branch chapter of the California Writers Club, which she did, and our friendship is beginning to bloom. Lorna has faced some personal challenges in the last few years and moving to southern California is part of a fresh start for her. She has started a blog and I was so impressed with it that I wanted to share it with you. It is not only personal but uplifting. I hope that you will take the time to read it as we all go through difficult times and her encouraging words could benefit anyone. You can visit Lorna's posts at: www.ajourneytotheotherside.wordpress.com

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Happy New Year

I hope you are looking forward to 2015 as a year of good reading and productive writing. I am working on my third book in the Linda Davenport series and hope to finish it before the year is out. I recently finished reading "The Goldfinch" and will be doing a review of it soon. People seem to either love it or hate it. I think I'm somewhere in between, leaning more toward the "liking it" side. I'll go into it more in my review. Do you do new year resolutions? And if so, how have they worked out in the past? Resolutions can help you focus on some goals but can sometimes put pressure on you as well. I've given up specific resolutions but do strive to do better in certain areas than in the previous year. I guess I need to do a year-in-review to see if it worked for me last year. Whatever your plans, I wish you all success.

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