Who’s That Blogger? Amy Makechnie

whos-that-blogger

amy-machenchie

Blogmaster:  Amy Makechnie

Blog name:  Maisymak – maisymak.com

Type of blog: Family life, health, books & writing

Where in the world?  Down a country road in New Hampshuh’!

What’s your story?  I began writing a blog to catalogue family life and discovered I loved writing on such a personal level that could include photography (and no editor!) I’ve had to become more creative and discerning as my children have gotten older; there is a huge vetting process to what makes it on to the blog (all pictures have to be given the green light and for some reason my teens don’t like me blabbing about their personal life, what gives?) Blogging opened up my mind to the possibility of other writing opportunities, such as freelancing for websites and regional magazines. I’ve written several novels, and after several years of querying, miraculously landed a literary agent in April 2016. At the moment we are pitching to publishers (fingers and toes crossed!)

What types of blogs do you follow? Mom blogs, writing and book blogs, inspiration

Early bird or night owl?  Definitely an early bird, though work can migrate into the afternoon for editing. My brain is mush by 8 p.m.

Coffee or tea? Neither. Diet Coke and Peanut M&Ms (insert chagrined emoji)

Most recent binge watch: Scandal. Oh dear.


Check out these recent posts from Maisymak:

maisymak-bannerWhat is On the Walls of Your Home?
Ten Favorite Valentines
Secret of Happiness: Send a Surprise Gift


Hey bloggers!  Are you interested in expanding your blogging world?  Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com to be featured on Who’s That Blogger!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Friday Fiction – Random chapter from an unfinished book

Friday Fiction

Hello all!  Written long ago and gathering dust, here’s a random chapter from an unfinished book…


The music was loud.  Driving the route to his house, his home, his family, he was surrounded by it, lost in the sound of the music.  He was the car.  The road so familiar to him, the turns he had made for years on his way home.  He didn’t even have to think, just to be.  It was a wonderful feeling.

It was dark.  The weather was fine, clear and crisp, the air still and the moon shone.  The roads were dry.  There was no traffic.  It was 7:00 pm.  He would be home in fifteen minutes.  Home to Jocelyn, their children.  They would catch up with each other.  He would feel her arms wrap around him, see her smile.  He would ask about Danna, tell them all about the email he got from her.  The boys would tell him their latest news, his little girl hers.  Her stories about Kindergarten, her friends.  She might show him a picture.

Alex made the turns.  He listened to the music.  The song was great.  Everything was perfect.  A split second later, the scene would change.  His hand slipped and his car took on a different path, off the road.  His body suddenly changed.  Sharp electric signals raced from his heart to his fingertips, to his toes, his brain.  His car careened off-course.  The music was blaring.  The ride was bumpy, horribly different from the moment before.  He couldn’t concentrate.  He had no time.  He saw the tree, but he couldn’t process the thought.  It was an impossible moment, only seconds before the impact ahead.

No one could imagine that he was in the crisis of his life. Countless thoughts and images went flying through his brain, too many to process.  Thoughts of things he did long ago, things he hadn’t done yet, wanted to do.  Things.  His old house, his elementary school, a dime he once saw shining in the sun.  Water dripping from a faucet.  Faces raced past his vision, all kinds of faces, faces he had known and loved, then strange faces, people he had only known for minutes some only seen for seconds, people on buses, people walking past him.  Then voices, his mother, children playing, Jocelyn laughing.  This rush of places and people and sounds was strange and horrible to him.  Fear gripped him.

Alex didn’t remember turning the wheel.  He didn’t remember that action or why he turned out and not in.  His mind and body were overtaken by this intense struggle.  There was no one around him to witness these extreme efforts.  His own home only a few miles away.  His wife, his children couldn’t know he was fighting for that.

The car changed its course.  Still off-road, it sped past the tree.  Seconds later, a new problem, his car racing down the embankment tipping on uneven terrain, wild bumps and violent shaking, loud, unfamiliar noises.  Alex was captive, strapped in, like a rider on a roller coaster.  He tried to steer, to control his car.  Nothing was working.  The ditch came fast.  His car slammed down into it.

He didn’t remember the airbag, how it inflated and saved his head from breaking on the dashboard.  Seconds later, he opened his eyes and saw the damage, could not move, could not think, could only sob with the thought of all he almost lost.

Alex stayed there and sobbed, stunned at what had just happened.  He cried and screamed, knowing of nothing else to do.  The fear and strain and the danger of the previous moments flooded out of him.  He could not control his body.  He could only stay there and cry.

And then he stopped, sat there, looked around him.  As he moved, he yelled in pain.  His whole body hurt, his arms and legs, his neck, his back.  His stomach churned.  He managed to move his seat back enough to unbuckle himself.

He looked around him and thought.  For the first time since his car went off the road, he had the time to think.  It was an unbelievable luxury!  A strange euphoria washed over him.  He started to laugh.  Then he was consumed in laughter.  He laughed with joy, then at the irony of suddenly having all this time to think and laugh.  He laughed hysterically until he became exhausted, then Alex slept.

When he woke he was disoriented.  He couldn’t make sense of his surroundings, how he hurt, what time it was.  He managed to reach into his pocket for his cell phone.  He turned it on and checked the time.  11:00 pm.  He didn’t know what that meant.  Was he late?  Was he on time?  Where exactly was he?

He dialed the number he had been dialing for twenty years.  Twenty years of laughter and love and of memories too wonderful to speak of.

Jocelyn was at home.  Worry was the only thing she could do.  Her children upstairs or in bed, she sat alone, staring out the window, sick with fear.  She had kept busy with the boys and her daughter for most of the night.  Alex wasn’t always on time, she reasoned.  He would certainly be home soon.  Once the house was quiet, however, she began to panic.  She did not know what to do with the panic, how to manage it.  Time passed so slowly!  All she wanted was to hear him pull into the driveway, open the car door and walk to the door.  Those were the sounds she begged to hear.

She thought about praying.  “What good would it do?”  She didn’t know.   She kept willing him to come home.  “Come on, Alex, come home.”  She looked at the clock.  10:30 pm.  This was much later than he ever was.  She wondered why he hadn’t called.  She had called his cell but only got voicemail.  She tried again, same result.

Jocelyn got up and walked into the kitchen.  She tried to think of something to do to make the time pass more quickly.  She thought to empty the dishwasher, but it was still running.  Then she thought about the kids’ lunches for tomorrow.  Deciding that making them tonight would keep her occupied, she opened the fridge and pulled out the cold cuts and lettuce, then some apples and peppers to slice.  She grabbed rolls out of the freezer and set them on the counter to defrost.  It was 10:45 pm.

At 11:00 pm, Jocelyn was well into making the lunches when the phone rang.  Her heart jumped as she ran across the kitchen to the phone.

“Hello?”

“Oh Jocelyn, I’m so glad you’re there!  It’s me.”

“Alex!  Where are you?  Are you alright?”

“I’m here, here in my car.  My car, it went off the road.  I’m sitting here down in a ditch in my car.”

“God Alex!  Are you hurt?”

“I think I’m okay.  I don’t know.  I have all-over pain.  I haven’t moved from my seat.   I guess I probably have some bruises, but I think I’m okay.  I’m so glad to hear your voice, dear.  You’re so dear.  I love you Jocelyn.  God, I don’t know what happened.  One minute I was on the road and the next thing I knew I was about to hit a tree.  Then I turned the wheel and went down into this ditch.  I’m stuck here and I think I’m going to need help getting out.”

“I think I should call an ambulance.  I’m calling an ambulance, Alex.  You need to get checked out.  You don’t know if you’re not seriously hurt.  You could be hurt and not know it.  Is your car badly damaged?”

“I don’t know.  I think I’m okay.  Don’t call an ambulance, Jocelyn.  Just come get me.  Then we’ll get a tow truck to pull out the car.”

“No, but what if you’re really hurt?  What if we get home and you’re hurt and you need a doctor?  Alex, I don’t want to take any chances.  I don’t care about the car.  I care about getting you checked out.”

“Jocelyn…”

“No!  Don’t argue with me.  I’m not taking any chances.  I’m calling an ambulance.  Tell me where you are.”

“Okay dear.  I think I’m okay.  I hurt a little.  I know my thinking isn’t clear.  I guess you’re right.  I’m here on 412, probably five miles from our house.”

“I’m going to call an ambulance, then I’m coming to you, Alex.  Stay right there.  Don’t move.  The ambulance will be there soon.  Don’t move.  I love you.  Stay there Alex.”

Thank you for reading.

Who’s That Blogger? New feature coming soon!

whos-that-blogger

Hey bloggers!  We’re all working hard on our posts and hoping to reach more readers, right?  Well here’s a way to share your blogging story and make new blogging friends too.

Who’s That Blogger? is a new weekly feature on Book Club Mom and a great opportunity to expand your blogging world.  If you’d like to be in the spotlight, send an email to bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a profile form.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Blog on!

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

I finished Life After Life and I wanted more. Thank goodness Kate Atkinson wrote A God in Ruins, a companion novel to Life After Life. They definitely go great together!

Book Club Mom

A God in Ruins cover
A God in Ruins

by
Kate Atkinson

Rating:
5 book marks

How do you reconcile the things you do during a war with how you live when it’s all over? Can you make up for what you did? This is the conflict that becomes Teddy Todd’s personal war in Kate Atkinson’s terrific book, A God in Ruins, a companion to her equally terrific book, Life After Life.

Life After Life is a “what if” story, showing the different paths and possible outcomes for Teddy’s sister, Ursula, during World War II. A God in Ruins is about Teddy and his role as an RAF pilot during its bombing campaign over Germany. You can read them independently, but I think it’s better to read Life After Life first.

Both books are ambitious reads and can’t be rushed. A God in Ruins, however, is a different kind of story, and examines Teddy’s life…

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Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

I was talking yesterday with one of my library friends about great books. She had just finished and loved Commonwealth by Ann Patchett (a book I want to read very soon!) and I started gushing about Life After Life, one of my all-time favorites. It may take some work to get through Life After Life, but the reward is great!

Book Club Mom

life after life picLife After Life
by
Kate Atkinson

Rating:
5 book marks

This is one of the best books I’ve ever read.  It is a complicated story that begins with both the birth and death of Ursula Todd and moves in different directions as Ursula’s life is saved or rewritten, leaving the reader to wonder whether we are seeing how fate could have taken different turns or if Ursula herself is somehow able to rewind tragedies and try to get them right the next time.

Set in England and beginning in 1910, this story spans both World Wars, but focuses on the period during World War II and the heavy toll it took on Europe. Ursula’s different life paths place her at the center of the German bombings in London for much of the book.  In a separate turn of life, she spends time in Germany and twice almost manages to rewrite Adolf Hitler’s fate.

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There’s a good story in that!

once-upon-a-time
Image: Pixabay

I’ve been thinking a lot about storytelling lately and how much I appreciate a good plot.  In our modern world of technology, we are surrounded by stories in more places than ever.  Books, movies, television, theater and the original medium, word of mouth, used to dominate the story corner, but now, stories are embedded in all sorts of new places.

Video games are loaded with stories and there are a lot of creative people writing them.  If you want to know what I mean, check out “The 25 Best Video Game Stories Ever” published this month by Games Radar+.

Commercials tell stories and many tell great ones.  In the Forbes article, “In A Year Of Great Storytelling, My Top 5 Ads Of 2016,” contributor Will Burns names as the number one ad story, the incredibly powerful message about how to stop gun violence in “Sandy Hook Promise ‘Evan.’” (Click here to view on YouTube.)

The sports media doesn’t just report on scores and standings anymore.  There is a story behind every athlete and we love knowing what it is.  Overcoming adversity, beating the odds, playing the big game for something much more meaningful than a title, that’s what drives both athletes and fans.  And it doesn’t end there.  There are the stories about coaches, rivalries, tension between teammates, injuries and arrests.  It’s much more than news.  Just watch one of ESPN’s 30 for 30 shows – these are terrific.

Audio books are hugely popular.  It used to be a sure thing that anyone wearing headphones was listening to music.  No more.  Now commuters, walkers, runners, gardeners and everyone else are making good use of their time by listening to stories while they’re moving around. For busy listeners, this article from BDG Media, Inc., “9 Audiobook Hacks To Enhance Your Time Spent Listening To Books” can help you make the most of your listening time.


Now that we can access an entire season of shows, binge watching is the new normal way to enjoy a story.  I admit, I am guilty of this practice.  I’ve been on a binge-watching binge for the last couple weekends.  Here’s what I’ve been watching:

designated-survivor

Designated Survivor – the ABC drama starring Kiefer Sutherland.  Finished Season 1 and it was excellent!

Kiefer Sutherland stars as Tom Kirkman, a lower-level cabinet member who is suddenly appointed President of the United States after a catastrophic attack on the US Capitol during the State of the Union. Kirkman will struggle to keep the country and his family from falling apart, while navigating the highly-volatile political arena and leading the search to find who is responsible for the attack.


the-affair

The Affair – Lots of drama and many secrets swirl around a family and locals in Montauk, New York.  Seasons 1 and 2 on Showtime.  Could not stop watching this one – now I want more!

At once deeply observed and intriguingly elusive, The Affair explores the emotional effects of an extramarital relationship. Noah is a New York City schoolteacher and budding novelist with a wife of twenty years and four children. Alison is a young waitress and wife from Montauk at the end of Long Island, trying to piece her life back together in the wake of a tragedy. The provocative drama unfolds separately from multiple perspectives, using the distinct memory biases of each character to tell the story.”


I’m looking for some new shows and watched two excellent pilots:

mad-dogs

Mad Dogs on Amazon Prime.  A twisted and creepy plot makes we want to find out what’s going to happen.  Great acting!

When a group of underachieving 40-something friends gather in Belize to celebrate the early retirement of an old friend, a series of wild events unfold, exposing dark secrets, deception and even murder. Starring Ben Chaplin (The Thin Red Line), Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos), Billy Zane (Twin Peaks), Steve Zahn (Dallas Buyers Club) and Romany Malco (Weeds). Executive produced by Cris Cole and Shawn Ryan (The Shield).


good-behavior

Good Behavior on TNT – Excellent story and conflict, definitely worth a look.

Letty Raines is a thief and con artist who is always one bad decision from implosion. Fresh out of prison, she’s attempting to stay afloat. But when she overhears a hit man being hired to kill a man’s wife, she sets out to derail the job, sending her on a wild collision course with the killer.


I tell myself I’m doing research so that one day I’ll be able to write my own great story.  In the meantime, I’m just having a good time!  What are your favorite new stories?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Who’s That Author? Tom Franklin

whos-that-author

tom-franklin
Source: bookfans.net

Tom Franklin is a best-selling, award-winning American writer from Dickinson, Alabama.  He is currently an associate professor in the MFA program at University of Mississippi.  He is considered a diverse Southern writer of several genres, including crime fiction, mystery and literary fiction.  Franklin’s wife, Beth Ann Fennelly, is an American poet and prose writer.  She also works at Ole Miss and is the Poet Laureate of Mississippi.  They met at the University of Arkansas MFA program.

Franklin put himself through college at University of South Alabama, after his father cut off his tuition because of bad grades.  To pay for school, he worked in a wide range of places:  in a warehouse, at a plant that made sandblasting grit and at a chemical plant where he cleaned up hazardous waste.  He also worked in a morgue, a job that was unpopular, but one he enjoyed because of the stories he heard.

When asked about his writing, Franklin responded,

I’m a very happy person and very lucky with my life, my wife and my children, but when I’m writing I find conflict interesting and it goes to dark places for me.  I’m interested in the shadowy part of humans.  If I try to write against the dark, it feels false.

Awards include the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Crime Writers’ Association Golden Dagger Award.


Books by Tom Franklin:

Mississippi Noir (2016)
The Titled World (2013) – co-written with his wife, Beth Ann Fennelly
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter (2010)
Smonk or Widow Town (2007)
Hell at the Breech (2003)
Poachers (2000)


Check out these links for more information:

Amazon Author Page – Tom Franklin
Harper Collins Publishers
LitLovers
Wikipedia


crooked-letter-crooked-letterbookmarks-5a
Interested in Tom Franklin’s books?  Click here to read
my 5 Bookmark review of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!