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Alicia Singleton on National Blog Tour February 6 – 29

Dark Side of Valor

Pump Up Your Book is pleased to announce Alicia Singleton’s Dark Side of Valor Virtual Book Tour 2012 beginning February 6 and ending on February 29 2012. Alicia will be on hand during her nationwide tour talking about her book in candid interviews and guest posts! Lots of fun along the way as Alicia stops off at blogs around the world to give her fans a chance to ask her questions and to find out more about this talented author.

About Alicia Singleton

Alicia SingletonBorn and raised in Philadelphia, the Howard University graduate embraced the written word at an early age. She credits this to her loving, older sister whom, while they were youngsters, made the author eat lotion on a regular basis. Realizing the need to sound-out the ingredients on the lotion label, Alicia stopped the lotion-eating practice, but continued to read the labels of the concoctions her sister brought for her to try. This early necessity to read flowered to a passion; hence, a writer was born.

The award winning author resides in Maryland with her wonderful husband and son. Still an avid reader, label or otherwise, Alicia is hard at work completing her next suspense novel. Her latest book is the suspense novel, Dark Side of Valor. Visit Alicia’s website at www.aliciasingleton.com.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Library Thing | Goodreads | Amazon| YouTube | LinkedIn | Powell’s Books | Simon & Schuster | BooksAMillion l Official Tour Page

 

About Dark Side of Valor

Dark Side of ValorChild advocate Lelia Freeman saves children for a living. As the director of ChildSafe Shelters, she ventures to abandoned squats and crackhouses to rescue teens from the hellish streets of Los Angeles. When she is summoned to Washington to serve on a committee that aids the children of a war-torn African nation, Lelia is kidnapped and becomes a political pawn in a sinister conspiracy. Oceans away from everything she knows, she must trust a mercenary to save her life, or die in the clutches of a psychopath.

Hunting, combat and staying alive are Elijah Dune’s specialties. Vengeance is his passion. Haunted by past demons, he’s travels to the Motherland to collect a debt. A debt that demands one payment. Death.

Caught in the crosshairs of a madman, Lelia and Elijah must survive the jungles of Zaire and the horrors of their pasts or be forever consumed by the DARK SIDE OF VALOR.

About Pump Up Your Book

Pump Up Your Book handles all the aspects of virtual book touring from pre-buzzing your book before the tour starts to making sure buyers will find your book long after the tour is over. If you are the author of a newly published book, have an upcoming release or just want to give a previously published book new life, a virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book is the answer. We welcome traditionally published, electronically published and self-published authors. Our esteem list of clients include Claire Cook, Caridad Pineiro, C.W. Gortner, Barbara Bretton, Cody McFayden, James Hayman, Karen White, Kathleen Willey, Lisa Daily, Lisa Jackson, Mary Burton, Nancy Thayer, Randy Sue Coburn, Ray Comfort, Sandi Kahn Shelton, Sheila Roberts, Therese Fowler, Hope Edelman, Wendy Wax, Jon Meacham, Shobhan Bantwal, Pat Williams, Jane Green, Judge Glenda Hatchett and cook show personality Paula Deen. We also represent Random House, Abingdon Press, Zumaya Publications, WND Books, Sheaf House Publishers, New Hope Publishers, Guardian Angel Publishers, Genesis Press, and Moody Publishing. Contact us to find out what we can do for you and your book!

 

If you’d like to interview Alicia or review her book, contact Dorothy Thompson at thewriterslife(at)gmail.com. Pump Up Your Book is an innovative public relations agency specializing in online book promotion for authors. Visit us at www.pumpupyourbook.com.

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Interview with Middle Grade Fantasy Author & Filmmaker Mike DiCerto

A filmmaker and writer since childhood, Mike DiCerto has directed numerous shorts, music videos, documentaries, promotional videos and two feature films (NO EXIT and TRIPTOSANE). His first novel, Milky Way Marmalade, received rave reviews and was the winner of the 2003 Dream Realm Award. He is very excited about the release of the first of his exciting new kid-lit series, Rupert Starbright: The Door to Far-Myst.

Mike has many interests including yoga (practicing for over ten years), gardening (loves growing chilli peppers in his rooftop garden), playing guitar (and trying hard to get better), cats (long-time volunteer at NYC’s Ollie’s Place Adoption Center and cat whisperer), really good and really bad movies and 70s TV as well all kinds of geeky stuff. He is a dedicated MST3K fanatic. He thinks of music as his religion—especially Classic Rock. He lives quite contently in a NYC apartment with his wife and soul mate, Suzy and their rescued kitty, Cosmo.

You can visit his website at www.mikedicerto.com or his blog at http://thekidinu.blogspot.com/. Connect with him at Twitter at www.twitter.com/mikedicerto and Facebook at www.facebook.com/mdicerto.

About The Door to Far-Myst

The Door to Far MystCan a boy who has never even heard of the word “imagination” save a magical world from an evil force using his own imagination?

Rupert Dullz isn’t very happy. His grandmother’s coffus is getting worse, school is boring and there’s nothing to do on his days off but rake up endless piles of leaves. Everything in Graysland is, well, gray, and every day is just like the one before it, and the one before that. That is, until a strangely dressed man named Pie O’Sky swoops out of nowhere in his multicolored bagoon and offers a special reward to whoever can open his mysterious door. When Rupert succeeds, he’s thrilled when Pie O’Sky carries him beyond it to the brilliantly colored land of Far-Myst. Adventure calls, and Rupert discovers a wonderful world full of something he’s never heard of before–imagination. But Far-Myst is in danger, and it may be that only Rupert has the power to save it. Is he the one whose imagination is powerful enough to stop the evil that is destroying the beautiful world beyond the door?

A filmmaker and writer since childhood, Mike DiCerto has directed numerous shorts, music videos, documentaries, promotional videos and two feature films (NO EXIT and TRIPTOSANE). His first novel, Milky Way Marmalade, received rave reviews and was the winner of the 2003 Dream Realm Award. He is very excited about the release of the first of his exciting new kid-lit series, Rupert Starbright: The Door to Far-Myst.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Mike. Can you tell us what your latest book, The Adventures of Rupert Starbright: The Door to Far-Myst, is all about?

At the core of the story it is about the power of the human imagination and love. A bored kid. A door to a magical world. A mean dragon-man who wants to destroy the beauty of the world. Toss in bizarre and wondrous (and some dangerous!) creatures, a mean bully and a first love and we are set for some real fun! Rupert Starbright will face tough and very dangerous challenges in an adventures of anyone’s lifetime!

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

Rupert Dullz (aka Rupert Starbright) is an eleven year-old kid like most kids until he realizes that there is something magical called the imagination that he ever knew existed. So once he begins to taste the joy of its possibilities he wants to jump head first into this new exciting world. But he is also has a good heart and care about his grandmother and her sickness (called “the cuffus”). His dream is to use his imagination to help find a cure for her.

Dream Weaver is the royal gardener in the Kingdom of Far-Myst. Once one of the Twelve (a special group of men and women who protected Far-Myst from those who would use imagining powers for bad) he now lives peacefully tending the wondrous Garden of Dreams. But he is sad and worried as his two children (as have ALL the children of Far-Myst) have been kidnapped by the terrible Murkus. The Queen puts Dream Weaver in charge of protecting Rupert and their adventure begins as Weaver tries to find a way home for Rupert.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

I, like I would imagine most writers, form my characters from bits and pieces of people I know but mostly, of aspects of my own personality. The cast of characters of a writer is the ultimate Rhorshack test.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

YES. I cannot imagine starting a novel without knowing the plot. Having said that, I do not do an extensive outline but rather a general beginning, middle and end plot-point layout. THEN I take the adventure with my characters and see what develops.

Q: Your book is set in Graysland and Far-Myst.  Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?

The story begins in a sort of “any town” USA. It’s a mythical town called Graysland where the imagination does not exist. But it does not exist in the same way a heart did not exist in the cowardly lion. It is there lying dormant and unused because of the fear in the hearts of the adults. We then go to Far-Myst – a land that over-flowed with imagination but is now in serious trouble because a fear-filled baddie is trying to destroy it.  Both places need the pure heart and wide open imaginations of a “young at heart” soul to save them.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

YES – the locations are in themselves characters in a way.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

We are in the middle of Rupert and Weaver’s first night around a campfire. Weaver, in his grumpy way, is teaching Rupert about waterbustles (a fruit that contains drinkable water) and camper grass (a special water plant that ignites into flames when it dries! Rupert is finding it all very UN-boring!

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

            They made their way through the gardens, walking without rest for a solid half hour. Rupert could only catch glimpses of the many, many wonders growing all around. There were flowers who’s petals fluttered about like swarms of moths and trees that danced with the music of the birds. Large bushes of firefly berries flashed messages across the gardens while Carpenter Trees grew fully formed tables and chairs that hung like bizarre fruit from their branches. Carpets of Orchestra Grass performed great musical works as the deadly Dragon Shrubs awaited a passing bird or large insect to roast with its fiery blast for tasty meal.

They walked under avenues of Waterfall Pines who sent refreshing mists into the air from the great cascades of water that fell down their barks. Sadsack bushes whispered mournful tales, Merry Mint plants giggled and bloodybarks frightened all their little saplings with tales of horror. Finally Weaver came to a rest in a small clearing beside a pretty pond that was enclosed in a ring of tall trees with immense barks. Many bushes and tall plants surrounded the clearing.

“We’ll set up camp here. Near the Spectral Oaks.”

Thank you so much for this interview, Mike.  We wish you much success!

Giveaways, Contests & Prizes!

Join Mike DiCerto at the Pump Up Your Book Live! November Author Chat / Book Giveaway Party on Friday, November 18 starting at 8 p.m. eastern!

Mike will be giving away a copy of his book! You could win a paperback copy of  The Door to Far-Myst simply by attending the chat and asking him a question. All there is to it!

For details on chat, visit the official chat page for the November authors at Pump Up Your Book Live!

WIN A ROLE IN BOOK 3 OF MIKE’S RUPERT SERIES!

What kid wouldn’t like to have his 15 minutes of fame in a real live book!  Well the book isn’t live but the stories Mike creates are as real as a child’s imagination can take it.  Mike is giving all kids a chance to have his or her name inside the third book of his series.

Click here to find out how your kid can win!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Four Guidelines for Writing Characters with Character: Guest Post by Joseph Garraty

Four Guidelines for Writing Characters with Character

By Joseph Garraty

There are a million writers out there, each with his or her own particular skill. Some authors are plot authors. They can weave dozens of threads seamlessly together into a tight, slick story, propelled by events to a perfectly-executed climax. Most thriller authors fall into this category. Other authors are great at theme and symbolism, weaving hidden layers of meaning into every sentence. Still others excel at description, action, dialogue, or symbolism—everybody’s got their strong points, and readers gravitate to different authors for different reasons.

Me, I’m a character guy. If the characters are believable and interesting, I don’t even care whether they’re sympathetic or not—I want to know about them. I want to know what happens to them, how they react, what choices they make, and why.

The trick for me as a writer, then, has been figuring out how to make my characters believable and interesting, and while there’s always more to learn, I like to think I’ve got a few pieces in place.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

1. Characters have to want something.

There is no escaping this. Reading about a character who wants nothing is like reading about a lump of mashed potatoes. It’s kind of bland, sits there and does nothing, and tends to get pushed around by whomever wants to push it around. A character has to have goals. Those goals can be as simple as “I would very much like to survive until tomorrow,” or as bizarre as “I really need a plasmicophic ferangulator for my time machine so I can go back and prevent my great-grandfather from flirting with Ms. Enderlein back in 1927 and thereby save civilization,” but they absolutely must have them.

Why? Because. . .

2. Characters have to do something.

This is associated with #1, but it doesn’t follow by necessity. Big Pete might want Skeezy Al to stop hitting on his sister, but he could just sit back and watch, waiting for the problem to resolve itself. However, if that’s all he ever does, he’s not going to be very believable or interesting. Eventually he’s gotta do something about it. Maybe he blows up Skeezy Al’s car, hires a few thugs to beat him up, or even goes over and nicely asks him to please knock it off—but his motivation has to translate into action. In other words, things don’t just happen to him—he makes some things happen.

3. Characters have to have personalities.

This does not mean you have to draw up a seven-page dossier on your character’s likes and dislikes, make up a dating site profile for them, or make them extreme caricatures. It just means you should have some idea of what they like, how their moral framework is structured, and what aggravates them. These things will color their actions, maybe even drive them. (And look—we’re back at actions again, not sitting around rummaging through somebody’s internal monologue.) I don’t have a clue what Stacy’s favorite color is, but I know she can’t abide the smell of sauerkraut, which will cause her to flee the sinister German grandmother in Chapter Twelve. That’s overly simplistic, but you get the idea.

4. Characters have to be true to their personalities.

I don’t care if you need Loretta to push Cletus off the building to his death in Chapter Six in order for the plot to work—if you’ve painted Loretta as a real sweetheart, harmless as a teddy bear, for the first five chapters, nobody’s going to buy her sudden change of character. The same is true of the half-sloshed dockworker hanging with his buddies late one night—he’s going to drop a few f-bombs, or a few dozen, regardless of whether you think your mom will disapprove when she reads your book. You and your mom are going to have to get over it, unless you’re content to populate your book with washed-out characters that have been robbed of all verisimilitude.

Your characters must act like themselves, not automatons in service to the plot, nor censored versions of themselves in service to the local bluenoses. That’s not their job.

And that’s about it. There’s a lot of room to play within those guidelines, but if you give your characters goals and personalities and have them act consistently with those goals and personalities, you’re already well on your way.

Good luck!

Joseph Garraty is an author of dark fantasy, horror, and science fiction. He has worked as a construction worker, rocket test engineer, environmental consultant, technical writer, and deadbeat musician. He lives in Dallas, Texas.

His latest book is the horror novel, Voice.

You can visit his website at www.josephgarraty.com.

Connect with Joseph at Twitter at www.twitter.com/JosephGarraty.

 

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Pump Up Your Book announces Julia Madeleine’s ‘No One to Hear You Scream Virtual Book Tour 2011’

Julie MadeleineJoin Julia Madeleine, author of the thriller novel, No One to Hear You Scream (Black Heart Books), as she virtually tours the blogosphere June 6 – July 29 2011 on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!

Julia Madeleine is the youngest daughter of Irish immigrant parents from Belfast, Northern Ireland. Born in Canada and raised in a small town in southern-western Ontario on the shores of Lake Huron, Julia honed her duel passions for art and fiction writng from the time she was old enough to hold a crayon. As a teenager she moved to Toronto and graduated in Media Writing from Sheridan College. She wrote for a number of entertainment magazines, while spending all her free time writing fiction, and then in 2000, her passion for art led her, quite by accident, into a career in the tattoo industry.

Home for Julia is Mississauga, where she lives with her husband and teenaged (future tattoo artist) daughter. For a year she lived in the country on a 30-acre property in the middle of nowhere, which became the inspiration for her second novel, No One To Hear You Scream. Currently she is working on the sequel to her first thriller, Scarlet Rose (2008) which will be released sometime in the fall of 2011.

No One to Hear You ScreamIn the quiet environs of upstate New York, a family can get a great deal of land, a beautiful home, and a chance to live in the throw-back, bucolic world of small town America. For Brett and Pamela Jameson of No One to Hear You Scream, that opportunity arose when a house they loved went into foreclosure. What they didn’t know was that this dream home was about to turn into their worst nightmare. Former owner, Irish emigrant and violent ex-gang memeber Rory Madden, is out of incarceration and wants his house back, and he will stop at nothing to get it. Rory unearths the secrets hidden within the Jameson family, and begins to leverage his knowledge to slowly drive wedges between them. When their seventeen year-old, mentally unstable daughter Justine falls for Rory’s advances, the devious mind of a career criminal turns her against her own parents, setting off a series of increasingly treacherous events that culminates into a charged climactic moment. At once a classic noir and a modern cautionary tale about the roiling truth lurking within the depths of twenty-first century suburban America, No One to Hear You Scream is a freight train to the heart of an unspoken terror inside everyone who has ever dreamed of a bright future, while nevertheless wary of what the dark past may one day bring to their door.

You can visit Julia’s website at www.juliamadeleine.com or her blog at www.juliamadeleineauthor.blogspot.com.

No One to Hear You Scream

For more information on her virtual book tour, you can visit Julia’s official tour page here.

Pump Up Your Book is an innovative public relations agency specializing in online book publicity for authors looking for maximum online promotion to sell their books. Visit our website at www.pumpupyourbook.com to find out how we can take your book to the virtual level!

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Interview with Alexandrea Weis, author of ‘Recovery

Alexandrea Weis began writing at the age of eight. In college she studied nursing and went on to teach at a local university. After several years in the medical field, she decided to pick up the pen again and began her first novel To My Senses. Since that time she has writen several novels and sold two screenplays (White River and Blood Will Tell). Blood Will Tell is currently in pre-production with Buyer Group International. Her work has been critically acclaimed and is continually growing in popularity.

Her most recent book is Recovery, the second novel in the Nicci Beauvoir series which takes readers on a Big Easy thrill ride when a lover’s murder is solved and a spy with a bulletproof bravado quickens Nicci’s broken heart.

Alexandrea is also a permitted wildlife rehabber and works rescuing orphaned and injured animals. She recently has been working to aid oil soaked birds in the Gulf disaster.

You can visit Alexandrea’s website at www.alexandreaweis.com or connect with her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/alexandreaweis.com and Facebook at www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/pages/To-My-Senses/113609858681394.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Alexandrea. Can you tell us what your latest book, Recovery, is all about?

Set amid the backdrop of post-Katrina New Orleans, the story is about Nicci’ Beauvoir’s soulful search for Recovery. Once a darling of New Orleans society, Nicci pens a novel about her departed love, the artist David Alexander. While promoting her book in the Big Apple, she’s approached by David’s former boss, Simon La Roy, who has a theory about David’s death that devastates Nicci. She learns David’s murder may be linked to someone from her past. Enter Dallas August, an elite member of Simon’s organization of corporate spies prized for his ruthless ability to get the job done. Playing the part of Nicci’s lover, Dallas returns to Katrina-ravaged New Orleans with her to flush out the killer. But everything is not what is seems in the Big Easy, and soon the couple finds themselves trapped in a psychotic’s twisted game of revenge.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

Nicci Beauvoir, the heroine, is a burgeoning writer drawn into the hunt for David Alexander’s killer by Dallas August, a distant man with a tragic past.  Together the two clash but then the common bond of searching for the murderer turns their relationship from adversarial to amorous. Nicci is supported by a rather sharp-tongued group of family members, whose wit and charm help to bring some wonderful humor into the story. The most prominent of these are Nicci’s father and uncle. Their brotherly banter provides a little bit of insight into why Nicci is the way that she is.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

I feel it is a little of both. I find that every character I write has elements of people I know in them. I believe if you talk to any writer they will tell you that some of their best characters are based on people they have known. After all, isn’t that what fiction is all about? Reality blended with bits of imagination makes for the most compelling dramas.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

It develops as I write. I always see the end of the book first and then go from there. A book is an adventure to me because I never know where the story will take me.

Q: Your book is set in New Orleans.  Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?

I am from New Orleans. It is the most eclectic, culturally diverse, and intriguing place I know. I have traveled a good bit in my life, but no place has ever been more interesting to me than the Big Easy. It is the most unique place on earth, and despite its negative press and sinister reputation, it is a part of me, and a part of everything that I write. Everyone always says write about what you know. Well, I know New Orleans.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

Yes, I feel the characters recovery from their past emotional upheavals mirrors the rhythm of the resurrecting city of New Orleans. In the end, neither the city of New Orleans, nor Nicci Beauvoir, learns that they can ever forget about their tormented pasts. Instead, they both learn to grow from what they have been through and move on.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

Dallas and Nicci are discovering that they make each other uncomfortable. It is a pivotal point in the book where the reader can feel the sexual tension building between the two main characters. For Nicci, it is the first moment where she realizes that Dallas has awakened something inside of her that she thought had died with David.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

The world had suddenly become a little darker for me, and for the first time in my life, I feared the future. I had survived the sharp-tongued insults of a snobby southern upbringing, the heartache of my mother’s death, betrayal, intrigue, engagement to a moron, and the loss of the only man I had ever loved. Even the devastation of Katrina had not dampened my belief in the eventuality of good. From all things bad something good does come, I was once told, and up until that moment in my life, I had believed it. But how do you sustain such hope when your faith in the certainty of tomorrow is threatened? What do you believe in when another is killing for control of your destiny?

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Alexandrea.  We wish you much success!

Thank you for having me today, and thank you to all of your readers. I hope you enjoy my second installment in the Nicci Beauvoir series and look forward to hearing what your readers have to say about Recovery.   

 

 

 

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Children’s Book Author Cheryl Malandrinos to Guest on A Book and a Chat

Cheryl MalandrinosCheryl C. Malandrinos, author of “Little Shepherd” will be a special guest on the popular Blogtalkradio show, A Book and A Chat with Storyheart.

Join Storyheart at 11 AM Eastern on Saturday, December 4, 2010 for A Book and A Chat sit down with children’s author Cheryl C. Malandrinos. You can listen online at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/Across-the-Pond and call in your questions to 347- 237-5398.

Little Shepherd 2Malandrinos’ picture book, “Little Shepherd” has hit the Amazon bestseller’s list in the Large Print Children’s Books category four times since its release.

Here is what reviewers are saying about “Little Shepherd”:

“It’s a great book for families during the holidays looking to bring more depth and understanding to the standard nativity story.”

–Christy’s World of Books

Little Shepherd is a great Christmas story for children between the ages of 4-8 that inspires faith and trust in something that cannot be seen, but can be felt in the heart and in the soul. This book would make a great addition to any Christmas collection as well as in any religious setting.”

–The Crypto-Capers Review

“Your first reaction may be, oh goodness another story on the birth of Christ. Toss those thoughts away and immerse yourself and your children into the magical arrival of Christ the Lord. Children’s author, Cheryl C. Malandrinos has re-explored and created a beautiful re-enactment of Christ the Lord’s birth in a unique and awe inspiring rendition which surely will become classical reading in Christian religious school studies and home libraries.

The old time illustrations expertly created by illustrator, Eugene Ruble will leave you feeling that you journeyed through the countryside with Obed and his fellow shepherds.”

–Donna McDine, award-winning author of The Golden Pathway

Cheryl Malandrinos is a freelance writer, online book publicist, blogger and reviewer. She is a founding member of Musing Our Children and Editor in Chief of the group’s quarterly newsletter, Pages & Pens. “Little Shepherd” is her first book.

Visit Cheryl online at http://ccmalandrinos.com

Storyheart (Barry Eva) is the author of the YA romance novel, “Across the Pond” and the host of the popular Blogtalkradio show, A Book and A Chat.

You’ll find Storyheart online at http://acrossthepond-storyheart.blogspot.com/.

Contact information:

Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Email: cg20pm00@gmail.com

Website: http://ccmalandrinos.com

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Death of the Gentle Read – So What?

G.F. Skipworth enjoying a great book

We have a special guest today!  G.F. Skipworth, author of The Simpering, North Dakota Literary Society, is here with us to talk about the death of the gentle read.  Enjoy!

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Death of the Gentle Read – So What?

by G.F. Skipworth

I’ve just completed and released a book entitled The Simpering, North Dakota Literary Society, based on the stories of six female geniuses bumbling their way through the grim era of 1919. They’re trying to make sense of the practical in their time. More importantly, they’re trying to grab their share of the happiness they deserve using only the tools they’ve got. So what?

How can you and I, as serious readers, buy a book like that when the characters are often cheerful, their stories improbably optimistic, and even their names are so stilted that to hear them in the physical world would be astronomically rare? Where does one get off approaching such a tough era through humor and gentle irony when there’s so much terrifying stuff going on? If I’m going to write faithfully to the condition of the world, shouldn’t l start dark and descend from there? Shouldn’t I use a degree of shock more appropriate to the gravity of the day? Wouldn’t anything else be patently dishonest? It’s a problem, because I don’t want to write for the purpose of only shock or distraction. So, how do I deal with the sheepish feeling that comes over me when I look at the lists of new releases approaching serious subjects in thoughtful and powerful ways? Why was my “breezy” tale of 1919 written at all? In other words, “so what?”

One reason might be that if we covered the material in history class instead, many of us would fall asleep, some of us would fail the final, and almost none of us would remember that suffrage wasn’t a tea party debate that finally won the heart of Congress. People fought for it, and some of them didn’t make it. A “breezy” tale with brilliantly flawed characters might be more effective at reminding us of that than sixty assigned pages in the textbook.

Maybe the textbook, in its effort to give us the information, neglected to seize upon our idealism, without which we cannot survive. Maybe there’s a more rousing example in a cheerfully optimistic, gets-up-when-she’s-knocked-down character than another droned recitation of battles fought, documents signed and lessons forgotten. Do we see ourselves in the textbook, or do we see a half-real past that has nothing to do with us, because the book forgot to ask us to rouse ourselves and maintain our resolve, the way these optimists with the stilted names could?

For some of us at a certain age, there are joys in life we cannot revisit, but those breezy characters with the stilted names can. They can find the reader who believes that life is an art form to be lived beautifully, or the one who believes that such rubbish is  elitist and deluded. Light-heartedness has many uses, and is not necessarily superficial – just ask Charlie Chaplin.  Humor and serious issues have partnered or acted as foils for one another through the centuries. Those genius morons can tell us a great deal about themselves and their time, us and ours. Call them what we will, but we don’t dare call them unrealistic, because we, too, are bumbling our way through the grim era of 2010. We, too, are trying to make sense of the practical in our time and, most importantly, we, too, are trying to grab our share of happiness using only the tools we’ve got –“that’s what.”

Please visit G.F. Skipworth’s site at rosslarebooks.com.

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