Who’s That Indie Author? Kathleen Doler


Author name:  Kathleen Doler

Genre:  Crossover Fiction: Literary, Crime and Action/Adventure

BookTHE HOOK: Surfing to Survive a Shattered Family, Drugs, Gangs and the FBI

Bio:  I was raised on the coast of Northern California. I’m an author, journalist and adventure sports addict. I write for national newspapers and magazines on everything from business and finance to helicopter skiing, sea kayaking and scuba diving. I also travel extensively, mostly to wild places, often while pursuing sports that have the potential to maim me. I own a wardrobe of wetsuits and a closet full of Gor-tex.

Favorite thing about being a writer:  I love being able to tell stories that touch people. I’ve enjoyed working as a journalist, but in business journalism you have to shelve the emotion. Now that my first novel, THE HOOK, is out, I get to experience how different readers connect with various pieces of the story.

Biggest challenge as an indie author:  I have to pump myself up to remain upbeat every day in my efforts to promote THE HOOK and build my readership and distribution network one contact at a time. As a self-published author, it’s all on me. But I’m a journalist; tenacity is part of my DNA. And I’ve been pleasantly surprised and gratified at how other authors have shared information, opportunities and advice.

Favorite booksDamage, by Josephine Hart, is my all-time favorite. I love how she can just gut the reader with a short sentence or phrase. For the rest of my top five: I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb, The Wave by Susan Casey, Wild by Cheryl Strayed, and The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls.

Contact Information:
Website:  kathleendoler.com
Facebook: @kathleendolerauthor
Twitter: @kathleendoler

Awards/special recognition:  THE HOOK has received 18 5-star reader reviews in just the couple of weeks it’s been on the market (a clean sweep), and several glowing editorial reviews! This editorial review made me swoon: “In THE HOOK, the pace is swift, the plot is involving, and character development is thorough … Plus, there is a lyrical, almost mystical homage to surfing, sailing, and the sea itself. Participants in this tale are never far from its enticing allure.” — Joe Kilgore, the US Review of Books.

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Empire Falls by Richard Russo

empire falls pic

Empire Falls
Richard Russo


Empire Falls is a great novel with many layers and characters and that’s just the kind of story I like to read. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2002 and HBO made it into a miniseries in 2005 (check it out here). I read it much later than most people, but I think the story and characters survive the time.

Its first layer is about Empire Falls, Maine, a town that is struggling to survive and is controlled by Francine Whiting, of the once-strong Whiting Industries. This backdrop introduces you to those who have chosen to stay and they make up many of Russo’s subsequent interconnecting layers. We learn about Miles Roby, his failed marriage to Janine and his own parents’ unhappy marriage. We meet Janine’s fiancé, Walt Comeau, and try to understand the new life she is about to begin. And later on we see how Miles struggles to understand his mother Grace and the choices she made as a young woman.

But this story is also about Miles and Janine’s high school daughter Tick, her friends Zack Minty, Candace and especially John Voss and these intense teenage relationships and conflicts. Russo has skillfully introduced this sleeper plot and we see how it slowly moves the story to its climax. I also like how Russo includes many other side characters, such as Jimmy Minty, Otto Meyer, Miles’ brother David, Charlene and Father Mark and develops them so we know that their lives are just as complicated, and are key parts of the story.

In addition to an excellent plot that is carefully constructed and both serious and humorous, this story is about the control of money and people, survival and the search for happiness. And on top of that, many of Russo’s characters struggle to understand the meaning of life and religion as they face both painful memories and discoveries.

There are many seemingly small pieces of conversations that, upon a second look, show how much thought went into writing Empire Falls. For example, Russo shows just how complicated father-son relationships are as he parallels Miles and Max with Jimmy Minty and his father. Both Miles and Jimmy hang onto their fathers, despite their flaws. Jimmy says, “He did slap my mom around a little…But I miss him anyway. You only get one father, is the way I look at it.” Later Miles tries to explain to David why he keeps giving their own father a second chance: “He’s pretty good at getting to me. I guess I don’t want to be sold short when I’m old.”

I think my favorite scene is when Jimmy Minty and Miles argue at the football game. Russo shows so well just how someone who is as unsophisticated as Jimmy still has excellent insight into people. Jimmy says, “You’re not the only one people like, okay? And I’ll tell you something else. What people around here like best about me? They like it that they’re more like me than they are like you. They look at me and they see the town they grew up in…You know what they see when they look at you? That they ain’t good enough. They look at you and see everything they ever done wrong in their lives.”

I also think Miles’ relationship with Cindy Whiting is very interesting and was glad to see how Cindy’s character developed from someone pathetic and needy into someone strong and independent. She’s also an example of a character we think is less significant, but who comes up with something important to say. She tells Miles, “It’s like you decided a long time ago that someone like me is incapable of joy…It doesn’t occur to you that I might be happy.”

The Whiting family dynamics and history are also very interesting and amusing and Russo has a different style of describing these people, using irony and a cold kind of humor. I liked this part just as much, particularly the story of Francine’s gazebo.

Empire Falls has a tidy and satisfying ending, with just enough open story lines to make me hopeful about the characters and their futures.

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What’s That Book? Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley



Author:  Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Genre: Fantasy Fiction, Gothic Fiction

Rating:  ****

What’s it about?  The story of young scientist Victor Frankenstein and a risky experiment to create life. The result? A grotesque monster that escapes and must deal with a world in which he has no place.

How did you hear about it?  Although I knew about Frankenstein, I did not know the whole story. I decided to read it when my son read it for his summer reading.

Closing comments:  Early into Frankenstein, I might have given it 3 stars because of its old-fashioned language and letter-writing format. I found this part of Shelley’s writing stiff and uninteresting. That all changed once Walton rescued Victor Frankenstein from the icy sea near the North Pole.

Frankenstein’s story is great on a couple levels. First, the thriller element still has its appeal. I was fascinated that Victor created life and I wondered at the consequences. I was sympathetic to the monster’s plight, being alone in the world, considered grotesque by all those who saw him. I wanted Felix, Agatha and their father to accept him. I wanted him to have a companion. And I was shocked at his murderous way of dealing with loneliness.

The overlying themes of love, friendship, loneliness and loss enrich this story and the question of whether Frankenstein has the right to create life made me think about the larger responsibilities of man to his fellow man.

Contributor:  Ginette

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Who’s That Blogger? Jan M. Flynn


Blogmaster:  Jan M. Flynn

Blog name: JanMFlynn.net

Type of blog: writing and life in general (plus horses)

Where in the world?  Napa Valley, California

Blogging since when?  March, 2016

What’s your story? One of my favorite quotes is, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” I love the exchange of ideas possible through blogging, my fave form of social media. And since I’m a writer (historical and speculative fiction as well as middle grade and I loves me some good short stories), naturally I want to connect with readers as well as other writers.

What types of blogs do you follow?  As with my writing, my tastes are eclectic. Of course I follow book blogs, but if someone writes with a clever or fresh or inspiring viewpoint on almost any topic, I’m in. Plus, horses.

Early bird or night owl? A weekend without blogging is like . . . well, I can’t remember since I haven’t had one for over a year.

Coffee or tea? Coffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffee. Then wine. Then tea.

Most recent binge watch or other obsession: Do I have to choose just one? Because, “The Last Kingdom” + “Handmaid’s Tale” + “The Son” . . . and now there’s “Glow”!

Check out these recent blog posts by Jan M. Flynn:

Buffalo Gal – Animals and Nature
Horse Sense – Horses and What They’ve Taught Me
No Comparison – Life, the Universe, and Everything

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Books and Stories about Horses

After adding Black Beauty by Anna Sewell to my list, I had fun looking back at all these books and stories about horses!

Book Club Mom

Source: commons.wikimedia.org Source: commons.wikimedia.org

Why do writers use horses or references to horses in their stories?

Throughout history, horses have represented power, grace, beauty, nobility, strength and freedom.  Different cultures attribute a variety of meanings to horses.  In medieval times, horses were a Celtic symbol of battle, victory and the spoils of war.  The Greeks and Romans also considered horses as powerful symbols of war and victory as well as honor, domination and virility.  In Hindu, the horse is associated with the cosmos.  The Chinese culture uses horses to represent love, endurance, devotion and stability.

Native Americans attribute wisdom and freedom to horses, and believe that a partnership with horses must be respected above all else.

Horses are beautiful animals and anyone who’s been up close to them can feel their power and imagine the wisdom behind their large and soulful eyes.  This small collection of literature shows how many different genres…

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Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Black Beauty
Anna Sewell


I had never read this well-known children’s book and was very happy to discover a gem of a story about a handsome well-bred horse named Black Beauty, born to a gentle keeper and broken in with expert kindness. When he is sold to Squire Gordon of Old Birtwick Park in England, Beauty’s mother tells him,

I hope you will fall into good hands, but a horse never knows who may buy him, or who may drive him; it is all a chance for us; but still I say, do your best wherever it is, and keep up your good name.

Beauty is lucky at first. His groom and stable boy are equally kind and understand that the best way to treat horses is to treat them well. But his mother was right. A horse’s future is never certain and before long, Beauty is sold to another landowner and things are not quite as nice. With this owner, and others in his future, Beauty maintains a positive attitude and always does his best, even when he must work long hours and suffer from the ignorance of his riders.

Told from Black Beauty’s point of view, Sewell portrays realistic horse characters and shows how they interact with each other and with people, especially their grooms and stable boys. Throughout the story, she shows the right way to care for horses, and points to the many cruel and foolish practices that were common during the mid- to late 1800s. She is particularly critical of the use of check-reins, which forced horses to raise their heads to unnatural angles, all for show. This practice caused great pain, led to back problems and shortened a horse’s life. Inexperienced riders, drunks, lazy grooms and poor diets and stall conditions made horses miserable, but a little kindness, a gentle stroke and an encouraging word could make all the difference.

Sewell works many important lessons into the story, including calling out others who abuse animals, upholding the Golden Rule, standing up for principles and helping others in need. When she wrote Black Beauty, she intended it to be a guide for people who worked with horses, but it became a children’s classic. She shows very clearly how horses and other creatures need to be treated humanely and allows the reader to see into the minds of Beauty and her friends.

Sewell manages to tell a nice children’s story without sugar coating the conditions of the time. I recommend Black Beauty to all readers, young and old.

Image: Wikipedia

Anna Sewell (1820-1878) was an English writer. Her parents were devout Quakers and her mother wrote children’s books. A childhood injury left Anna unable to walk without a crutch and she rode in many horse-drawn carriages to get around, where her love of horses began. As an adult, Sewell suffered from hepatitis and tuberculosis and wrote Black Beauty while confined to bed. It was published in 1877, just one year before her death.

I read Black Beauty as part of my Build a Better World Summer Reading Challenge to read a book that I could finish in a day.

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Who’s That Indie Author? Anatoly Volynets


Author name: Anatoly Volynets

Genre:  Philosophical Diary

BookCulture vs. Copyright

Bio:  Volynets is a psychologist, educator, scholar, former programmer, co-founder of the software consulting Total Knowledge (California) and NGO Dialogue of Cultures XXI (Kiev, Ukraine). He is a research fellow at the Ukrainian National Institute of Psychology, and a participant in The School of the Dialogue of Cultures project. Volynets lives in Palo Alto, California.

Favorite thing about being a writer:  While writing you always have an interlocutor able to understand you.

Biggest challenge as an indie author:  Marketing

Favorite books:  All classics, many books on history, on the US history particularly. Out of latter I adore, for example, Ann Hagedorn’s Savage Peace.

Contact Information: cvc.culturedialogue.org

Awards/special recognition:  Nothing special happened to me and my book. There were some modest achievements. Culture vs. Copyright was: 1. Bought by The Queen Mary University of London library; 2. Nominated by Book Awards / Philosophy in 2015; 3. Accepted by Barnes & Noble; 4. Written about at Wikipedia.

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