Fallen Angel Reviews Recommended Read!

I’ve just discovered that my novella, A Day in April, 1944 has garnered another 5 star (angel) review and Recommended Read status at Fallen Angel Reviews! Thank you so much, Merrylee! I can’t tell you how pleased I am.

Here is a snippet from the review:

Ms. Grey did a wonderful job of capturing the true feel of war and its effects on the lives of the people swept up in its brutality and deprivation. She conveyed so much emotion in such a short number of pages, along with an almost reverent respect for those who prevailed over the hardships of World War II. And what a beautiful ending! If it doesn’t bring tears to your eyes, then you don’t have a heart. Reading A Day in April 1944 is a truly rewarding experience. Don’t miss it.

To read the entire review, click here

Now I’ve simply got to get back to work…I’ve been procrastinating lately…I can’t think of any better motivation to write and edit a few pieces I’ve been working on.

Rules for Writers

While roaming the web I came across a great series in the Guardian entitled, Rules for Writers. Sharing their golden rules are a few of my favorite authors. Check out the rules of Rose Tremain, Margaret Atwood, Sarah Waters, and Hilary Mantel. Others contributors include: Elmore Leonard, Joyce Carol Oates, Zadie Smith, Richard Ford, Colm Toibin, Will Self, Neil Gaiman, P.D. James, and many others.

Tremain discourages following the “write what you know” rule, doesn’t believe in planning endings, and advises revisiting your characters 50 pages into your novel. Atwood interjects a little humor into her sage advice, Waters talks about reading, cutting, and the importance of discipline, and Mantel offers thoughts on not writing for the market but instead focusing on what you would enjoy reading, how to handle getting stuck, and mentions one of my favorite books on writing by Dorothea Brande, entitled Becoming a Writer.

Lots of good advice! You can find all of it here.

Books I’m reading in print and on my Kindle

Ever since my husband’s Kindle arrived, I’ve not been able to download a single title for him. The historical fiction by the authors he most enjoys reading are not yet available on Kindle. (I think I’ll post a list of those titles—if the man in your life enjoys American historical fiction you’ll have some recommendations for him.) So…I’ve taken it upon myself to not let the Kindle sit idle. This is my first experience reading books in digital format and I rather like it. However, at this point, I don’t think I can entirely give up the tactile pleasure of print books. I like paging back through what I’ve read if something is unclear. Although I know I can do that on Kindle, it just isn’t the same. There are advantages and disadvantages to each format. When I travel, the Kindle will definitely come in handy. I am paranoid about dropping my Kindle (oops, I mean my husband’s Kindle)…that wouldn’t be good!

I will continue reading traditional print books because I can’t stay away from libraries and bookstores. One of my favorite leisure activities is to browse the stacks searching for exciting books—borrowed, used, or new, it doesn’t matter to me. I have also been an Amazon customer for some time and won’t be giving up virtually browsing their shelves either. I do like to have print copies of books by my favorite authors, reference works as well…but I am cutting back because I want to conserve resources and I’m running out of space!

I’ve decided to use the Kindle to explore the works of many new and talented small press and Indie authors. Authors whose work is primarily available in ebook format, just like moi. So while I’m reading a traditional book, I’ll also be reading a digital book. Want to know what I’ve been reading?

Let’s talk print first—I’m reading a book that was in my TBR pile – Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese. So far it is amazingly good. I love books that transport me to exotic locales but which also promise a great story. I can’t put it down!

And now for books I’ve read on my Kindle…I’ve recently finished, Angel and the Lawman by Barbara W. Starmer, (published by Bookstrand). The story takes place in the Old West and is full of plot twists and turns. The fast paced action filled storyline is driven by a spirited woman called Angel who was given the moniker by the handsome and mysterious Marshall, James Black. Of course there’s romance! Check it out! If you like western romances with strong heroines and dashing heroes, you won’t be disappointed!

Right now, in digital format, I’m reading, Secrets Volume 11 published by Red Sage. It contains novellas by Angela Knight, Jess Michaels, Kimberly Dean, and Jennifer Probost. I’ve just finished Ancient Pleasures by Jess Michaels and enjoyed it immensely! The story was captivating and sensual. I can’t wait to read more by her—also looking forward to checking out the other authors in this anthology.

I’m also reading Princess Robin, by Dana Taylor. According to the blurb on Amazon, “Princess Robin presents delightful twists to the beloved Sherwood tale.” So far, it does just that! The writing is fantastic and the book entertaining and amusing. Princess Robin has a great storyline and the author is very talented. I hope more readers will find out about her work.

Last but not least, in my digital TBR pile is, Finding Margo, by Susanne O’Leary. Of course it takes place in France…According to the blurb, Margo walks out on her husband in the middle of a roadway and into the French countryside. Is it any wonder I couldn’t resist since both of my books, A Day in April, 1944, and Second Chances take place in France? I’ve only read the first few pages but am looking forward to getting into it.

If you’re a reader looking for some good titles on Kindle, I suggest checking out the Kindle Boards. There are several great authors there whose work I’m looking forward to reading. The boards also cover anything Kindle related and then some. If you’re an author, it’s a warm supportive place to connect with other authors and let readers know about your work.

Bye for now…must get back to my reading…and writing!

Coffee Book and Blog at Coffee Time Romance

I had a wonderful time this weekend guest blogging at Coffee Time Romance! I didn’t realize that it could be so much fun, connecting with the readers was great! I think I wouldn’t mind traveling the web and visiting fellow writers blogs and chatting with readers – it’s nice to get out every once in awhile;-). If you’re interested in reading my visit, click here:

Coffee Book and a blog with Ursula Grey

Part Deux

Thanks for having me!

Thanks to Karenne for her hospitality and assistance!

Inspiration for A Day in April, 1944

Perhaps inspiration is not the correct word. I certainly wasn’t inspired by what I’d seen. Saddened, sickened, and shocked are words that immediately come to mind. I’ll never forget the stop we made to a small village in the Limousin region of the southwest of France. There was no need for the SILENCE sign posted at the entrance to the village.

What was special about Oradour-sur-Glane? Perhaps special is not the correct word, infamous comes to mind. I imagine that before the war it had been a thriving little village with a doctor, a seamstress, a few grocers and teachers and bakers—all the occupations required to sustain a place that a small group of approximately 662 called home. That was before the 2nd Waffen SS Panzer Division Das Reich’s 1st Battalion arrived on June 10, 1944. On that day, 642 inhabitants of Oradour-sur-Glane, (197 men, 240 women and 205 children) were massacred. The men were shot and burned—the women and children herded into a church and burned alive. The old village of Oradour-sur-Glane remains as the Waffen SS left it—a memorial to the lives lost there.

Although we may never really know why this village was targeted, many believe it was in retaliation for the acts of sabotage the Maquis (French Freedom Fighters) perpetrated on the Nazis or for the capture of a German Commander of the SS on the previous day. The bravery of the men and women of the Maquis, (there were several female members of the French Resistance), left a lasting impression upon me. From sabotaging German supply lines to harboring members of the Allied Forces, life was perilous and could end suddenly.

I could not stop thinking about the place and began to wonder what life must have been like in war torn France. What would it have been like to be a member of the Resistance, to risk not only your life, but the lives of the men, women and children of the place you called home? It was then that Lisette came to life for me. I later imagined Oradour-sur-Glane as being similar to the village where Lisette, a character in A Day in April, 1944 might have resided.

Visiting Normandy and the beaches where the Allied Forces landed, and where countless young American soldiers lost their lives, evoked powerful emotions. I could only picture the rough seas and the men, who were recently boys, going to meet their fate. What were they thinking on the way to the landing? Most likely they thought of their loved ones and whether they’d ever see them again. It was then that Jack came to life for me.

Fortunately, for Lisette and Jack there is a happy ending—but that is only because I wanted it that way.

Word Per Day Writing Goal

Okay, I think I’ve found a way to deal with my personal problem involving procrastination and/or writer’s block. You know…those days when the Muse abandons you and you’re left staring at a blank page? I’ve decided not to be too harsh or judgmental with myself—all I have to do is write 500 words per day…just like Ernest Hemingway!  That’s 182,500 words per year…I see many short stories and perhaps a couple novels in that number. It’s been working well for me for the past several days!

It doesn’t matter if I feel the sum total of the words I’ve penned amount to anything substantive, or semi-brilliant. Even if I feel they’re just plain ____, at least I’m writing. Not such a lofty goal, right? Five hundred words. That’s it, you ask? I know there are other writers out there who are much more prolific and I envy them. For me now, the point is to write. Once I sit down and actually begin writing, time becomes non-existent. If I’m lucky, I develop a rhythm and the words flow. When I finish, I feel l like I’ve accomplished something for me. When I make it through the first draft of something, I’m relieved. Oftentimes I think, Oh my, what is this I’ve written? Hopefully it comes together during the editing process!

And so, have I written today’s 500 words yet? No, I’m blogging instead! The night is still youngish and I have a few more hours to go before bedtime. A question before I leave for the night…Are you in the mood to read a few witty entries in the Doggerel Sled Racing challenge? What is she talking about, you ask? How does this relate to her post? Well, I was reading this post http://edittorrent.blogspot.com/2010/02/doggerel-sled-racing-contestants.html at edittorrent.  See the connection? Can you guess which my favorite entry is? Why don’t you vote for yours? Also, any writers out there care to share their tips on conquering the dreaded white screen or word per day writing goal?

Happy writing!

Excellent books on the Art and Craft of Writing

What I desperately need are some words of inspiration, some encouragement on this rainy and snowy day…a way to silence that tiny voice inside my head that is saying, “Why bother?” I don’t want to listen, but maybe it has a point. Why do I feel that I can’t write anything worthwhile, that editing my latest is pointless? (The little voice just whispered that it is because I’m not a writer…oh, and never will be). I suppose we all feel this way at times…And so, it is time for me to pull out some of my favorite books on writing. I’ll share them with you.

The books that have inspired me to get off my ___, er… to relocate to my desk and face that terrible blank page, to type those first words, to tell me that, yes, maybe you can write, or should at least give it a try are, in no particular order:  Becoming a Writer, by Dorothea Brande. Ms. Brande’s book is a classic, written in 1934. She is kind, encouraging, and gentle. This book is not about technique, but if you’re feeling uncertain or suffering from self-doubt, pick up a copy. Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg, takes a Zen approach to freeing your creativity. The short essay type chapters cover technique, practice, and inspiration. The subtitle of the book is, Freeing the Writer Within—and that’s exactly what it does. Another book I’ve enjoyed and found helpful is, The Faith of a Writer Life, Craft, Art, by Joyce Carol Oates. Prolific and talented, I greatly admire her. Ms. Oates touches on inspiration, failure, self-criticism, and the writing process. The book is filled with essays in which she shares excerpts and thoughts on the works of those who have inspired her. Many personal insights/influences are also included.

The following titles focus on craft. Writing Tools, 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer, by Roy Peter Clark, is literally filled with the tools necessary to craft a captivating story, whether it is fiction or nonfiction. His advice is practical and pithy, there are many Aha moments, where you can see exactly how it’s done—and improve your own writing in the process. It is filled with 50 “tools” that can be referred to over and again. You needn’t read it in any particular order, it’s all good. The book is divided into four sections:  Nuts and Bolts, Special Effects, Blueprints, and Useful Habits. I highly recommend it. Immediate Fiction, A Complete Writing Course, by Jerry Cleaver, was also helpful. He has an easy, informative style and also provides you with inspiration and tips on how to deal with doubt, fear, writer’s block, etc. The cover states that it’s about story craft, the creative process, self-editing and self-coaching, time management and getting into print. He does a very nice job covering those topics. I’m currently reading, The Anatomy of Story, 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller, by John Truby. He promises precise techniques to help you become a successful storyteller. He asks the deep questions that will help you, as a writer, to discover exactly what story you are meant to tell.

Last, but not least, The Writing Life, Writers on How They Think and Work, Edited and with an introduction by Marie Arana. This is a nice collection of essays by contemporary authors talking about “the writing life.”

I guess it’s time to crack open a few of those books—and then get back to writing. I’ll let you know how it goes…

Virtual ebook promotion

I understand the promotional aspect regarding the necessity of having a blog. In my web travels I’ve frequently come across the words, “shameless self-promotion”, and they make me cringe. Why? I suppose I’m basically a private person and a little on the shy side. It has always been difficult for me to say, “look at me” and now, “buy my book”.  Posting promos and excerpts on groups that are basically filled with other authors doing the same thing seems a fruitless endeavor. I wonder how many readers actually use these forums to discover new authors?

Perhaps it just isn’t comfortable for me. I guess it is all part of the process—at least that is what I’ve read…This is what is expected. Promotion aside, I’m surprised to find that I’m beginning to enjoy sharing my personal thoughts via this format. The anonymity of the web makes that easier. What I do not want to do is to bore readers or bombard them. Somehow, I’d like for my work to stand on its own merit, that a reader will enjoy what I’ve written and want to read more. But how will you find my work if you haven’t heard of me?  Ah, a vicious circle it is! I wonder how other writers feel? Readers? Any thoughts?

Writing and the Creative Process

“Writing, real writing, should leave a small sweet bruise somewhere on the writer…and on the reader.”  Clarissa Pinkola Estes

The above words resonate with me and reflect my personal experience with the writing process. It is, at times, exhausting and painful, yet cathartic and exhilarating. It leaves a mark of passion, similar to the sweet bruise born of a lover’s fervent embrace. It serves as a reminder of the intensity of the act; the tender spot appears as a temporary memorial, attesting to the fact that pain can also yield pleasure. Although the bruise is not manifested physically, it is just as real, and leaves a mark upon the writer’s psyche—the soft spot returns with each creative endeavor.

The creative process, from conception to delivery, can also be likened to giving birth. The joy, pain, and joy of creation! The innate spark ignited by an idea, fertilized by words, link to form a first sentence. Sentences grow into paragraphs…paragraphs connect to become chapters which eventually culminate in the birth of a novel. This is the ideal gestation period—when words and ideas effortlessly begin to mesh to form a whole, and characters no longer require strict guidance and begin to take on lives of their own. It is not always so, obstacles appear, the path is sometimes uncertain—but we must continue.

The process consists of both pleasure and pain. As the end approaches, and though the delivery is painful at times, the completion of the finished product is cause for joyous celebration. It is a personal victory for the writer. Hopefully, the reader will share in the celebration.