Category Archives: Book Recommendations

Weather in Fiction Can Create Sensory Disadvantage

James Boyle's Ni'il book cover One of my Facebook friends,Cynthia Helen Beecher read my post, “Using Fog in Writing” and told me about Oregon author, James Boyle, who had a reading in Healdsburg recently.  Fog is one of the characters in his trilogy.

I became a FB friend with him and in our chat, he said “Fog is a nice device for creating a vulnerable, isolated mood.” The titles of his books are “NI’IL: The Awakening,” “NI’IL: The War Within,” And “NI’IL: Waking Turtle.” available on Amazon,

Boyle says, “Weather (usually bad) plays a factor in all the books. It puts the good guys at a sensory disadvantage.”


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Writers’ Prompt from Jack Heffron

Jack Heffron Idea bookJack Heffron head shotThe Writer’s Idea Book by Jack Heffron includes more than 800 prompts. I randomly opened the book to “Chapter Fourteen: Your Fifteen Minutes.” Each chapter begins with a famous writer’s quote. Chateaubriand was assigned this chapter with: “Let us not be too scornful of fame: nothing is lovelier, unless it be virtue.”

Heffron was a senior editor at Writer’s Digest Books and Story Press.

He also wrote The Best Writing on Writing and co-wrote with Rusty McClure, Coral Castle: The Story of Ed Leedskalnin and his American Stonehenge.”

There were over ten prompts in Chapter Fourteen so I closed my eyes and pointed to this one:

“Write about a news event to which you have some connection. Did an important event occur in you hometown? Were you ever involved, even as a by-stander, in an event that the general public will remember?…Freewrite everything you can remember about the event, form the details and the actions into a narrative, research the event to add relevant background, speculate on its significance to you.”

Let me know if you used the prompt and what developed.


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Aegean Dream by Dario Ciriello

Aegean DreamAegean Dream by Dario Ciriello is the book we are reading this month in our reading group. It’s a true story set on Greece’s real “Mamma Mia” island of Skopelos.

Amazon’s description is:
Comic and tragic by turns, Aegean Dream is a story of love, resilience, and the power of friendship. A compelling window on the daily life of a small Greek island and the spirit of its people, this book also provides striking insights into the broken institutions that would soon shake the entire global economy.

– What’s it really like to live on a tiny Greek island?
– Why is the Greek economy so messed up?
– What IS ‘The Secret’?
…and what do mysterious skulls, Russian prostitutes, President Bush the elder, and Pierce Brosnan have to do with it all?

I’m looking forward to reading it.

What Are You Reading?

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Thomas Oppong’s Book A SMART NEW MIND

Get smarter every day

Thomas Oppong’s book, A Smarter New Mind: What You Can Do Every Day to Get Smarter, sounds  interesting. On his website you can read  an excerpt from his book that summarizes 8  things you can do every day to get smarter. My favorite is “Reflect on your learning by blogging.” A couple others are, “Be curious about almost everything” and “Get Fascinated.”

Oppong is an expert in start up businesses, but from what I’ve read in the descriptions of his books on Amazon and his website, the information for smarter new minds is beneficial to everyone, not just business owners. This book is available on Kindle for $2.99.

Build Smarter Habits by Oppong

Another book he wrote with a similar title: is $.99 on Kindle. I liked several quotes I found in the two books.

“Knowledge builds up, like compound interest,” says Warren Buffett.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future,” Steve Jobs.

“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” -Albert Einstein


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Penny Sansevieri

Penny Sansevieri truckload booksAt the last San Francisco Writers Conference, I attended Penny Sansevieri’s sessions, bought her books, and listened to the CD’s of her sessions.  Today I re-listened to “How to Sell Truckloads of Books on Amazon.” It’s loaded with valuable information that I have to organize into a To Do List. Penny is Founder and CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc. She is an expert in marketing and media relations and author of fourteen books. She also is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU.

As one reviewer on Amazon said about Penny’s books, her information saves you time if you had to find out all the shortcuts yourself.

Learn more about Penny at

Get her books on Amazon:

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Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen

Pride and PrejudiceThe reading group I joined this year, selected Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice to read for April.  Austen was born on December 16, 1775 and died on July 18, 1817. She was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature. Romance is not my usual choice of genres, but I’m open to reading it. I didn’t think I’d like Faulkner when Intruder in the Dust was selected and now I’m a fan.

Wikipedia states that Pride and Prejudice, first published in 1813, is a novel of manners. “The main character, Elizabeth Bennet, has to deal with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education, and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of the British Regency. She is the second of five daughters of a country gentleman living near the fictional town of Meryton in Hertforshire, near London.” The title relates to Elizabeth’s ability to overcome her prejudice and Darcy’s ability to overcome his pride.

Have any of you read Pride and Prejudice?  Any comments on it if you have?


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Betsy Streeter’s Silverwood

lafayette event silverwood

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William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying

As I lay DyingAs I Lay Dying is Faulkner’s fifth novel published in 1930. Most of the 59 chapters are short and are narrated by 15 different characters in a stream of consciousness writing technique. He wrote it in six weeks and didn’t change a word of it. It’s considered one of the best novels of 20th-century literature.

Addie, the mother in a poor family, requested that when she dies, she wants to be buried in her hometown of Jefferson, Mississippi, a trek in a wagon pulled by mules. Her husband and five adult children try to honor her wishes but run into several difficulties. Previously I was not a fan of Faulkner’s style, but after reading Intruder in the Dust, I was hooked. I couldn’t stop reading As I Lay Dying although I had many projects to do, I had to find out what would happen next.

In the chapter from Addie’s point of view in a flashback, she says her father used to say that “the reason for living was to get ready to stay dead a long time.” Readers learn about her unhappiness with her life. She’s tired of taking care of the family. She regrets choosing Anse for her husband.

Faulkner created a memorable family. I recommend taking time to meet them.


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The Missing Place by Sophie Littlefield

Sophie LittlefieldOn Monday afternoon, our reading group will discuss Sophie Littlefield’s book, The Missing Place. It was my turn to choose a book. I had met Sophie during our Women’s National Book Association event in San Francisco a few months ago, and we met again at Town Center Books in Pleasanton for her book signing.

The book is available on Amazon, Kindle, and audio. Here is how it is described on Amazon:

Set against the backdrop of North Dakota’s oil boom, two very different mothers form an uneasy alliance to find their missing sons in this heartrending and suspenseful novel from the Edgar Award–nominated author of Garden of Stones.

The booming North Dakota oil business is spawning “man camps,” shantytowns full of men hired to work on the rigs, in towns without enough housing to accommodate them. In such twilight spaces, it’s easy for a person to vanish. And when two young men in their first year on the job disappear without a trace, only their mothers believe there’s hope of finding them. Despite reassurances that the police are on the case, the two women think the oil company is covering up the disappearances—and maybe something more.

Colleen, used to her decorous life in a wealthy Massachusetts suburb, is determined to find her son. And hard-bitten Shay, from the wrong side of the California tracks, is the only person in town even willing to deal with her—because she’s on the same mission. Overtaxed by worry, exhaustion, and fear, these two unlikely partners question each other’s methods and motivations, but must work together against the town of strangers if they want any chance of finding their lost boys. But what they uncover could destroy them both…

Sure to please fans of Sandra Brown and Gillian Flynn, The Missing Place is a moving chronicle of survival, determination, and powerful bonds forged in the face of adversity.

The Missing Place

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A Wolf Called Romeo by Nick Jans

A Wolf called Romeo by Nick JansNational Geographic has an interesting article about a friendly wolf in Alaska.

Romeo appeared in the Alaskan community near Juneau, and “was a bit of a flirt, and like Shakespeare’s Romeo seemed to fall in love with”…Juliet, a yellow Labrador. Normally wolves fight with canines or eat them, but Romeo wanted to play and had his favorite humans and dogs. He would keep his distance from people but came within touching range of the author, however, Nick Jans didn’t try to pet him. He respected the wolf’s wild behavior. Romeo “would run into the middle of a game of fetch and steal the tennis ball, run off with it, throw it up in the air, and bat it with his paws.” He had his own toys that he’d bring to Jans and his friend, Harry Robinson. Romeo would pick up one of his toys, knowing how to fetch, and bring it to Harry to throw, .

The average life span of a wolf is three years and he was full grown when he came to the community. He visited them often for six more years, so he was at least eight years old at the time of his death. They didn’t feed him. He would leave for several days, apparently finding his own food.

To read more, go to the link above, or order it from you local bookstore, or go to

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