Tag Archives: Laurie-Boris

Don’t tell anyone – a most surprised review

dont tell anyoneI had Laurie Boris’ third novel – Don’t tell anyone – sitting on my Kindle for over a week before I started reading it. Why? Because of the elephant in the room called cancer.

Cancer is one of those taboo topics none of us want to think about, and I knew one of the characters in ‘Don’t tell anyone’, would have breast cancer.

My hesitation was further complicated by the fact that I’ve had my own brush with cancer. All my tests have been negative for over two and a half years, but it just so happened that I was waiting on the results of my latest tests last week, so…

I’m happy to say the test results were all negative, but even if they had not been,  ‘Don’t tell anyone’ would have cheered me up!

I can see a lot of you re-reading that last sentence with puzzled expressions. Why would a book that talks about cancer cheer anyone up?

The answer, as they say in the classics, “is complicated”.

‘Don’t tell anyone’ is a character driven story that revolves around the relationships between Liza, a thirty-something woman, her husband Adam, her sixty-five year old Jewish mother-in-law, Estelle, and her gay brother-in-law Charlie.

All four characters are immensely likable, although I have to say that Charlie was my favourite, by far. He’s sexy, funny and lovable, all in one. He and Liza have been friends since college but there are things in their shared past that need to be resolved. In fact, resolving the past is key to the relationships in this family.

All of us have issues with family members. Most of those issues get swept under the carpet, year after year, because they are too hard to resolve without a huge fight, and the potential of destroying the family in the process. But when someone in your family is diagnosed with a life-threatening cancer, everything changes.

The discovery that Estelle has lumps in both breasts, and didn’t do anything about them for five years, turns the family dynamic on its head, undermining the comfortable assumptions they had all been living with for so long.  In the process, long-held secrets are exposed, secrets like the fact that Estelle’s mother and grandmother, both died of breast cancer.

But while the discovery of Estelle’s cancer exposes some secrets, it also breeds new ones. How can Liza tell her husband that his mother wants to commit suicide rather than suffer the fate of her own mother and grandmother? Worse still, how can Liza reveal that Estelle has asked her to help with the suicide?

That particular secret eventually leads to a revelation which almost destroys Liza’s marriage. But not for the reason you might think. I can’t tell you any more because that would spoil some of the best parts of the story. What I can say, however, is that lancing all these boils leads to both growth, and resolution, and that is part of the reason I loved the story so very much.

I believe anyone reading ‘Don’t tell anyone’ will be able to relate to Liza, Adam and Charlie. However I, personally, related to Estelle the most, and her part of this finely crafted story was what cheered me. There is a rightness to Estelle’s life that touched me on so many levels, and that rightness permeates the story.

As a writer myself, I feel an enormous respect for Laurie Boris, and more than a little envy. Her understanding of the human psyche is exceptional, and her mastery of the craft of writing is flawless. It could not have been easy weaving all these complex characters and relationships into something that reads, and feels, so right, and yet she makes it look easy. I wish I could write like this, I truly do.

In my not-so-humble opinion, ‘Don’t tell anyone’ is a story that everyone should read. No ‘ifs’, ‘buts’ or ‘maybes’. Read it you lot, or miss out on a novel that is at least 6 stars out of 5.


Work-in-progress Blog Hop

Just when I think I’m starting to understand the blogging world, something happens and bam, I feel like a nOOb again. Today though, I’m more than happy to be a nOOb because I’ve finally found out what a blog hop is all about. I’ve also been nominated for this particular blog hop by a buddy of mine, Alex Laybourne. Alex is a writer, a kindred spirit [even though he writes horror -gasp-] and a participant in this year’s nano marathon, so basically he is an all-round great guy. Thank Alex. 😀

Now, is there anything a writer likes to talk about more than their current work-in-progress [WIP]? That was a rhetorical by the way. Clearly, the answer is no, so it should be obvious why I jumped at the chance to wax lyrical about my WIP. My only problem is… which WIP? Technically I should be talking about Vokhtah, book 2 but, I’d rather talk about the story I’ve been ‘plotting’ ever since I decided to do nano this year.

I hate the straitjacket feel of an outline which is why I am a pantster through and through. This time however,  I’m not allowed to jump in and start writing until November 1st, so I’ve been scribbling ideas down instead. Some of these ideas relate to the plot, so technically I am outlining something,  but I fully expect most, if not all, of this pseudo outline to disappear after the first 1000 words. Imho, logical outlines lead to predictable plots and I hate reading those, so I encourage my inner pantster to take me in unexpected directions. -cough- End rant.

Rules:

***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress) on your blog.
***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

What is the working title of your book?

Innerscape. Or possibly Mira. I may just go with Mira because it’s shorter. 🙂

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The idea for the character of Mira came from the very first short story I wrote – 2080. But I’ve been thinking about the evolution of online gaming and virtual living for a very long time. Tad Williams explored the idea in his wonderful series called Otherland, and I’ve read other sci-fi versions as well, but I wanted to push the concept a little further.

What genre does your book fall under?

Hmmm…. the closest definition I can think of is ‘soft-ish’ science fiction. No two writers agree on exactly what soft sci-fi is but the definition I like the most is psychological, social sci-fi. I’m going to be adding a bit more speculative tech to the mix but the overall focus will be soft.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Ugh, this is a question I don’t even want to think about. The minute you visualize an actor in the part, some of their quirks and mannerisms inevitably colour the character’s development. I really don’t want to do that, especially at such an early stage.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Another problematic question this one. And no, that was not my answer! Just sort of thinking aloud. Okay, this is the best I can do for now : ‘If you could extend your life by entering a digital reality, would it become heaven or hell?’

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

As this will be a nano project I don’t expect the story to be ready for publication for a very long time. However, once it is, I expect to publish as an indie.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Oops. As this story is still just a twinkle in my eye, I can’t really say anything about the gestation period. Knowing me, however, I’m sure it will take years!

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

The obvious choice is Otherland, by Tad Williams. One of my favourite series 🙂

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

My direct inspiration was Lady Julia Prosser. She is fighting a losing battle with cancer, yet she lives each day to the fullest. Being a writer, I couldn’t help wondering how I would spend my time in similar circumstances. That’s the underlying thread of the story.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Despite my hard-baked, cynical facade, I am a romantic at heart, so there will be a romance of sorts in the story. Hmmm… correction, there will be love in the story and there may be a bit of romance as well but please don’t expect it to be the focus; you’ll be disappointed!

My 5 nominations are:

[This is hard as so many of my friends have just published so I’m not sure if they have WIPs or not but I hope they do!]

Candy Korman

Ilil Arbel

Laurie Boris

M. Edward McNally

Lord David Prosser


Momentous days and interesting nights

I am winging it a bit with this post so apologies if it’s a bit disjointed. The big news, for me at least, is that my wonderful editor Laurie Boris has returned my MS and the editing is not going to be as horrific as I thought it would be!

What? You didn’t know I’d sent it off to be edited? Oops, sorry. I try to be open and honest on this blog but I do tend to keep scary things to myself until I can resolve them in some way. And trust me, waiting for the MS to come back has been scary. I was imagining all sorts of horrible things from masses and masses of stupid mistakes to … well, I’m pretty sure every writer out there knows exactly what awful things I was imagining. Anyway, they did not eventuate so now I’m literally chomping at the bit to get stuck into the final edit and polish.

While I’m on the subject of scary things I have to say that the Harper Voyager post was a bit of an exception for me. It was scary alright but it was a kind of scary I just had to write about because I knew I would not be able to resolve it from within the confines of my own head; I was being tugged in too many directions to make sense of the issue. That was why I really needed your perspectives and your affectionate advice to sort the wheat from the chaff. My thanks to all of you by the way for clarifying the question so beautifully. Thanks to your input I can now officially say that  – I will be submitting!

The turning point in the submit/don’t submit debate came when I realised that the only thing I would lose by submitting to Harper Voyager was fear. Fear was at the core of all my vacillating. Fear of being rejected [hah!] Fear of losing my self-confidence [double hah!] and fear of change [because I had devised a plan as an indie and feared to change it in mid-stream].

Now I know I’m not the world’s bravest person but I have always believed that the true measure of courage is not how you feel about something but what you do about it. So what this soul searching all came down to was a very simple question and it had nothing to do with Harper Voyager. I had to ask myself if I had the courage to face this fear. My pride said ‘yes’ and so did my sense of shame; after all what kind of a writer would I be if I could not face down even one, single rejection? So submit I will!

Deciding to submit The Book to Harper Voyager was a big decision to make but having made it I then had to also make some smaller ones to ensure that I could meet the submission deadline. One of those smaller decisions was to not, under any circumstances, play my beloved games during the day. This was important because I knew I had to get back into the professional work ethic I had had while actually writing The Book.

The second of the smaller decisions was actually a little harder to make. At the moment I post three times a week and in-between times I try to catch up with all of you. Until the October 14 deadline comes and goes I’m going to have to reduce my posts to just two a week and I won’t be able to be as sociable as I used to be. 😦 I will keep dropping in and seeing how you are all going but it won’t be as often. Please don’t feel as if I’ve forgotten about you. You are all my friends and I’m not giving any of you up!

Phew! That was hard. Now to the ‘interesting nights’ part of my title. And no, I haven’t found a gorgeous hunk of a man to play with. 😀 My interesting nights revolve around my gaming and the latest game to rise up and bite me is Guild Wars 2. Against my better judgement I went out and bought the game over a week ago and it sat there on my desk, unopened and uninstalled. The idea was that I’d have it there, ready to go as a ‘reward’ for when I felt I’d done my work well…

Yes, that did not go quite to plan, or perhaps the plan was flawed to start with. A couple of days ago I stripped off the plastic wrapper and installed the game. So far I have a love/hate relationship with it but it is addictive – hence the rule about not playing during the day and no more staying up late while I join just one more event. From now on, playing GW2 will be restricted to an hour or so after dinner each night and my precious awake time will be reserved for The Book.

That’s the plan and I intend to stick to this one so… wish me luck!

-hugs-

Meeks


Drawing Breath – something extraordinary

It’s Saturday afternoon here in the antipodes and I find I can’t get stuck into writing my book until I write about another book, a book I have just finished reading.

I have to get these thoughts and feeling down into words before they lose their force and become just memories.

The book is ‘Drawing Breath’ and it was written and published by Laurie Boris, an indie author and a female author. I make those points so that what I say next achieves full impact. ‘Drawing Breath’ is one of  the best books I have ever read and that most definitely includes the hundreds, perhaps thousands of traditionally published books I have read over the last 50 years.

I did not want to read ‘Drawing Breath’ when I first stumbled across it on Indies Unlimited. I read the blurb about 16 year old Caitlyn and 34 year old Daniel and I thought ‘oh no, a Lolita story!’ Wrong.

Then I read further and discovered that Daniel had cystic fibrosis and something in my head just shutdown. Cystic fibrosis is a cruel condition for which there is no cure. Did I really want to read something that was going to depress me?

I was wrong about that too. What I feel now is exultation. How I feel is… uplifted.

I’m not quite sure why I finally bought ‘Drawing Breath’ on Amazon last night but I began reading it at about 11pm – I always read in bed before going to sleep. Well, I was still reading at 3am.

When I woke this morning after far too little sleep I continued reading ‘Drawing Breath’. I finished it half an hour ago and I still can’t let it go. Caitlyn and her mother Maureen, Daniel and his sister Denise, Daniel’s lover Bess, Kumar the breathing therapist at the hospital, all of these characters large and small are still walking and talking in my head and their world seems more real to me than the cosy confines of my office.

How did this happen?

It happened because Laurie Boris is a master storyteller who must have loved each and everyone of her characters because the love shines through in the way even the least important of them has substance.

Writers tend to talk a lot about ‘voice’ and how each character should have a distinctive voice of their own. Well the characters in ‘Drawing Breath’ have far more than voice, they have a presence as vivid as any image on a cinema screen. They exist in time and space, not just as words on a page. And because they exist, their stories have the power to make us feel, for them and also for the human condition that mixes joy and pain in such equal measure.

I really don’t want to write a short, cold summary of the story because the beauty and the joy, and yes the sorrow, are in the reading. To understand what is so very special about this book you have to read it for yourself. So think of this as less of a review and more just the out-pouring of thanks from a reader to a writer.

Thank you Laurie. I am sorry I waited so long to accept the beautiful gift you created with ‘Drawing Breath’.

Meeks


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