To celebrate the pre-order of Winter Light, I have 5 FREE copies to give away! If you’d like me to put your name in the Magic Pickle Jar for a drawing on Jan. 31, subscribe to my website and I'll enter your name. You'll also get a link to listen to a chapter for free! Thank you, Marla Nobles, the voice actor who made this audio book come to life. And as always, thanks to all of you for your constant kindness, friendship and support. I consider myself a lucky person! ___ For
by Tommy Orange In honor of National Native American Heritage Month, I wanted to recommend Tommy Orange’s There There. A member of the Cheyenne and Arapahoe Tribes, Tommy was born in Oakland, where he set his 2018 book about the urban Native American experience. Because I know Oakland, I loved seeing his characters living here and there around the city. At first his characters appear to be swallowed by the surrounding environment and dominant culture that lead to deep persona
by Apple Gidley 1950s MALAYSIA WEDNESDAY Congratulations, Apple Gidley, on Have You Eaten Rice Today, a carefully nuanced book that buried me in the lives of believable characters in a time and place I knew nothing about! Read my review below or on Goodreads. ___ I love books that transport me to somewhere I’ve never been, and this book did just that! From page one I felt wrapped in the heat, conflict and politics of 1950s Malaya, what the British called its collection of col
Today is Mary Donahue’s birthday! That’s right, born April 13, 1963, Mary — the protagonist in Winter Light — turns 59 today. She’s appalled! And deep down delighted, because as a teen, she never expected to live this long or have such an interesting life. She still isn’t sporty, but walks daily to keep her cholesterol down. She’s disgusted beer now gives her indigestion. She’s become a voracious reader, though mostly of nonfiction revolving around history and current events,
Today I’m recommending My Year of Magical Thinking and Joan Didion’s other works today in honor of her death on Dec. 22 at the age of 87. Joan is probably not someone I would have been friends with. She was at the top of high-end 1960s hipster scene. She “knew people” and had the literary chops to talk boldly about culture and celebrities in a way meant to grind down our illusion of humanity as anything but opportunistic. Because she came from the generation before me, I didn
A month ago I featured Lisa Diane, owner of The Sophisticated Palate, who created Biscottini Bites for people and Bark-otinni Bites for dogs, along with her many other creative and delicious endeavors. As the saying goes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Lisa’s mom, Diana Savastano, writes cozy mysteries like her latest, A Party Without Cake is Murder, a Sibling Cookery Mystery. For those who don’t know, cozy mysteries are those that are fun and non-traumatic, rather
by Ann S. Epstein Ann S. Epstein’s newest historical novel, The Great Stork Derby, due out Oct. 19, is a gut-wrenching story built upon one of the craziest true events that ever occurred in modern human history: a baby-making contest.
The story begins in 1976 with the humiliating image of a curmudgeon who’s fallen on the floor of his decrepit Toronto house and can’t get up. When help finally arrives, the social worker assigned to Emm Benbow gives him two stark choices, eithe
This is the best deconstructed love story I’ve ever read! In Careless Love, author Steve Zettler gives us a spectacular love story steeped in rich Hawaiian sunsets and the stark reality of how fleeting moments of love and passion can be. Though neither the narrator’s name nor gender are mentioned, I pictured him as a man in his 40s. Only a few weeks before his mother dies, she shocks him by saying the man she divorced is not actually the narrator’s father. Instead, his real d
I don’t often read dystopian novels because of the claustrophobic doom that often hovers over them. But I’m glad I received an advance reader copy of Jessica Bell’s newest novel, How Icasia Bloom Touched Happiness, because the end is so bright. You’ll find my review below and on Goodreads. Jessica Bell’s newest novel, How Icasia Bloom Touched Happiness is a philosophical tour-de-force dressed as a dystopian journey that brandishes elements of classics such as “The Hand Maid’s
Buy now! Thanks, everyone, for your support over the past 6 months in making Winter Light a 2021 Gold Medal IPPY Winner in Young Adult Fiction! Mary Donahue loves you all, even if she’s too cool to show it. In thanks, I’m offering 1 FREE Kindle copy to any book club that chooses the book for discussion. As always, I’ll be happy to join your book club discussion if that’s something your members would enjoy. Thanks to Virginia Andrade McPherson, Kelly Spring and others who’ve a
Buy now! I just learned Winter Light won a Gold Medal in Young Adult Fiction in the 2021 Independent Publishers Book Awards (IPPY). A virtual awards ceremony will take place June 30. I’d like to congratulate the other winners in this 25th awards event. I’d also like to give a huge thanks to Vine Leaves Press and all of you friends and readers! #literaryaward #WinterLight #MarthaEngber #novel #fiction
By Connie Biewald Preorder now, publication date of May 25, 2021 I fell in love with Nadine Antoine on the first page of Connie Biewald’s Truth Like Oil, a sentiment that only grew stronger the deeper I sank into the story of an immigrant mother’s plight to keep her two young adult sons on the straight-and-narrow in a foreign culture.
Just watching the exhausted Nadine climb the stairs of her apartment building in Cambridge, MA, after her long shift as a nurse’s aide, I knew
Register now! VIA LAS VEGAS! Las Vegas Writers Conference (virtual)
April 8 – 10
Register now! Four years ago I had the pleasure of traveling to Las Vegas to present two workshops at the Las Vegas Writers Conference hosted by the Henderson Writers Group. Hundreds of people attended to learn from dozens of agents, writing coaches and authors. The conference will be virtual this year and the organization has again invited me to speak. Here’s what I’ll be presenting. I’ll also b
Book Review I just finished reading Ever Rest, Roz Morris’ new novel due out June 3, 2021 (available for preorder). A fantastic read! Below is my Goodreads review of this literary book club treat. Roz is the author of two previous novels — My Memories of a Future Life and Life Form Three — as well as the memoir Not Quite Lost and the book for writers Nail Your Novel. Besides being a writing coach and instructor, she’s a ghostwriter for bestselling authors. ___ Ever Rest by Ro
“YOU GOT SOMETHING TO SAY?!” For me, dialogue makes or breaks a book. Cliche dialogue typically indicates cliche characters. What do you think? If you’re a writer, help is on the way via the 2-hour online workshop I’m teaching this Saturday in which I’ll combine lessons in character development with dialogue. If you know a writer, pass on the news! I’ll post the description at the bottom. The Road to Flaming Great Dialogue Starts With Growing Great Characters!
9 a.m. PST (11
I had the most pleasant surprise this morning when I opened my email to find a copy of my upcoming novel’s book cover by Jessica Bell, publisher of Vine Leaves Press and a top-notch book designer, as well as author and singer/song-writer. Due out Oct. 6, 2020, by Vine Leaves Press Now I have the task of building a Book Launch Team. If you’re interested, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Though I’ve had two previous books published, I’ve never done this particular task. Free Book
by Byddi Lee Author Byddi Lee has created a dystopian tale in which she’s nailed all three facets of great science fiction: a flawed, yet highly admirable main character readers care about a plot that accelerates in intensity and speed toward en exciting conclusion a deftly-written narrative where facts and descriptions about the world are slipped in around the character’s actions, thus creating a smooth read Three reasons I loved this book! The setting is some twenty years a
by Katie Lewis Often books and conferences for writers focus on the big parts of stories, such as plot, characters, pace, dialogue, etc. I tend to approach writing in the opposite manner. Specifically, that the best writers are those who start from the smallest of details and build upward. My logic is that if they’ve taken the time to imagine a single, spot-on gesture, they’ve thought through the characters and story with equal care. In the short story collection titled Cheer
After reading Carolyn R. Russell’s dystopian young adult novel, In the Fullness of Time (due out March 17, see previous post), I got to thinking about the above question. What, for example, is the difference between The Giver by Lois Lowry (YA) and Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger (literary); between A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle and and Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card? The teen age of the protagonist is obviously not a deciding factor. My upcoming novel, Winter