Who’s That Indie Author? Lucia N. Davis

Author name:  Lucia N. Davis

Mini bio: I live in Michigan with my husband and our three children. I love to travel and explore the world, whether it is hiking in desolate places with beautiful nature, or sniffing up culture in old (and newer) cities. Having young children makes all of this a bit harder to accomplish, but it’s never too early to expose them.

Genre:  Mystery/Suspense

Books: The Dunnhill Mysteries: The Baby on the Back Porch (#1), The Charm of Lost Chances (#2) and The Secrets of Sinclair Lodge (#3). The main character, Sara Eriksson, moves from San Francisco to a small mountain town in the Northern Cascades, to find some peace and quiet. The old village has been a silent witness to mysterious events long forgotten. But sometimes the past has a way of resurfacing…

Each book can be read as a stand-alone mystery, but some character threads run throughout the series. All books have a paranormal component and a hint of romance.

When did you begin your writing career?  I was always making up stories, and at some point I started writing them down. I published my first story in 2016.

What’s your approach to writing? Are you a “pantser” or a planner?  A bit of both, more like a plantser. I usually start with an outline, just so I have something to focus on when I write, but many things just happen as I go. I like having the freedom of exploring random ideas as they pop up.

What’s your working style – morning or late-night writer?  I write whenever I have a chunk of time available. I have three young children, so free time is not something I have an abundance of. I prefer mornings, since my brain is just more awake, but I’ll write in the evenings as well if I need to.

Do you work at a computer or write long-hand?  Laptop. Writing would give me serious hand cramps!

What gets those words flowing, coffee or tea?  Coffee. No competition.

Favorite book:  Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen was so talented in describing her contemporaries. It’s surprising how many of her observations would still work today.

Favorite movie: That’s a hard one. I don’t have one I’m afraid. There are so many excellent movies to choose from. I don’t get to go to the movies very often, so I always run behind. Nowadays, most of what I watch has to qualify for a kids’ movie night. I just watched the first Harry Potter with my eldest, which was great. And the other day I watched Coco with my seven-year old, and towards the end we were both crying. Also a very good one!

Favorite musician: I don’t have one of those either! It depends on what I do and how I feel. I love so many different kinds of music, ranging from Mozart to Imagine Dragons. I have playlists for different moods, or activities like driving my car and working out.

Links: Website: luciadavis.com
Facebook: @LuciaN.DavisAuthor
Twitter: @LNDavisAuthor
Goodreads: LuciaNDavis


Are you an indie author?  Do you want to build your indie author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

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Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Lab Girl
by
Hope Jahren

Rating:

Here’s a book I resisted reading for two reasons. First, there was so much hype about Lab Girl that I took a step back. When everyone gushes about a book, I feel as if the decision is already made that I have to like it. Stubborn as I am, I like to make my own decisions.

I also avoided Lab Girl because I am not a science person. I fulfilled my lab science in college (barely) and then moved on to English. Years later, I wasn’t sure I wanted to read a book about a scientist.

But then my book club friend chose Lab Girl and I committed to reading it.

So, wow. This book was excellent. Jahren writes beautifully about her lonely childhood in Minnesota, college life and early years trying to make it as a scientist.

Being a female scientist is not easy. Applying for grants and university pressures make financial stability a long-distant goal. She describes how she built her first lab out of a neglected basement classroom and how she and her lab partner, Bill, made do and scrounged for used equipment.

Jahren’s field is plants, especially trees, and her interest in them is contagious. She explains the fascinating way in which they grow, reproduce and adapt, making me think I probably would have liked this kind of science. She is perpetually curious and awestruck by the way nature works. I learned how seeds can lay dormant for years, waiting for the opportunity and courage to take a chance on growing. I like how she applies this to human life.

In the right place, under the right conditions, you can finally stretch out into what you’re supposed to be.

Lab Girl is a memoir more than it is a science book. Jahren’s father taught science at a community college and it was in his lab where she developed a love for learning. But her parents were cold and distant and she craved a nurturing existence. She also describes her personal struggles with bipolar disorder, a condition which reveals itself in her young adult years. Equally important to Jahren is her relationship with Bill, to whom she gives ample credit for their successes. Their connection, while not romantic, is like a marriage.

The lengths scientists go to satisfy their obsessive curiosity is what makes them successful at their jobs, even when the way they go about achieving their goals runs counter to how the rest of us live. All-nighters in the lab, eating junk food, cross-country road trips without a map, spontaneous overseas trips to study soil: these are normal times for Jahren, Bill and her students. I’m glad there are people like Jahren because they give us the gift of their knowledge. Jahren’s delivery is beautiful.

Lab Girl deserves all the hype and recognition it has received and I recommend it to all readers.

Jahren is an American geobiologist and geochemist and has won many prestigious awards. She currently works at the University of Oslo in Norway.

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A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd

A Duty to the Dead
by
Charles Todd

Rating:

If you’re looking for an entertaining historical mystery, you’ll enjoy A Duty to the Dead, a story set in England during World War I. This is the first book of the Bess Crawford Mysteries, written by a mother-son duo, who introduce Bess as a highly skilled young nurse aboard the doomed HMHS Britannic. Bess narrowly escapes death when the ship hits a mine and soon an unfulfilled promise to a soldier on an earlier ship assignment nags her. Arthur Graham, a dying English soldier, begged her to deliver a curious message: “Tell Jonathan that I lied. I did it for Mother’s sake. But it has to be set right.”

Bess knows it would have been her failure if she had died before trying to reach Arthur’s brother. And although her father, the retired Colonel Richard Crawford, is grateful she’s alive, he advises her, “But you have a responsibility not to put it off again. A duty to the dead is sacred. I needn’t tell you that.”

When Bess delivers the message, Jonathan Graham acts strangely. She’s fulfilled her duty, but she can’t let go. A medical emergency delays her departure and soon Bess is caught up in the Graham family affairs. Her nursing skills prove helpful, but her curiosity leads to hints of a chilling family secret. There’s only one person who can explain, but he’s locked in an asylum.

I enjoyed this mystery as much for the story as for its cast of characters. The Graham family has a lot to hide and although the people in the small town of Owlhurst can’t figure things out for themselves, they help Bess put the pieces together. And it becomes clear that her duty to the dead extends way beyond her promise to Arthur Graham. Interesting side stories enhance this mystery as the reader sorts out facts and events.

A Duty to the Dead is a fast and light read, but it also includes serious themes such as the damaging effects of war on both soldiers and families left behind, as well as the young men deemed unfit to serve. In addition, the author challenges the reader to think about responsibility for a crime. Does the blame lay on just one person, or do conspiracy and complicity make others just as guilty?

I liked how the author used this time period to show what people do during wartime and how their perceptions of danger change. Bess Crawford, barely out of her teens, has developed a courageous, confident and independent character, which serves her well as both a nurse and an amateur detective. I expect she will handle many challenges in the next books with the skills she shows in her first adventure. A Duty to the Dead was published in 2009 and there are eleven more for fans to enjoy. You can see the full list here.

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On Mothers Day and every day-the 2:00 pm call

The 2 pm call

It was 2:00 pm and I was just getting back from class. I heard the phone ring as I walked into my apartment on College Street. “Hello?”

I walked down the hall and saw the red light blinking on my desk phone at work, waiting for me to pick up. “You have a call, Barb.” I looked at my watch. It was 2:00 pm.

I lowered my son into his crib, carefully slid my hands out from under his little body, and slowly backed out of his room. I tiptoed downstairs and into the kitchen. The phone rang. I looked at the clock. It was 2:00 pm.

The boys were in their swings under the deck and I took turns pushing them from the back, first one, then the other, with the baby tucked in the crook of my arm. It was hot that day, but cool under the deck and I knew they would be happy swinging for a while. I heard the phone ringing from inside the house. “I’ll be right back boys. Sit tight!” I held onto the baby and I ran up the deck steps, through the sliding door and grabbed the phone so I could bring it outside while we talked. It was 2:00 pm.

The newest little guy sat on the couch. We had just popped a tape into the VCR and he was already settled. Too old for a nap, he still needed his quiet time before the older boys came home from school. I looked at the clock. “Perfect, I thought.” It was 2:00 pm and the phone rang right on time.

Mom’s show, All My Children, used to drive the timing of her calls. Every day at 1:00 pm Mom took a break from her day and watched. And when the hour was up, she called. The years passed. My life changed. My family grew. Through college, work, marriage, children. Schedules changed, calendars filled. But there was one thing that stayed the same. The 2:00 pm call. Two people connected through one simple, consistent and repeating moment in time. A time when mother and daughter could exchange “What’s new?” between this time and the last, talk and listen and laugh.

All My Children ended its forty-one year run a few years back and when it did I felt a twinge of anxiety, the kind that comes before a change.  I liked knowing. I liked the certainty. I liked our routine. The anchor of a simple TV show was gone.

But now we have something new. I call. She calls. It’s 10:00 am or it’s 5:15 pm. Sometimes earlier or sometimes later. We take our chances and catch each other or we leave messages. It’s a fluid, changing system and when I press the numbers and Mom answers and I hear, “Oh, hi Barb, I was just thinking about you!” Then I know our new system is working! And I love it because the rest, the words and laughter and the love. Well that is just the same!

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Look what Barbie’s wearing! Barbie Fashion 1959-1967 by Sarah Sink Eames

Barbie Fashion – the complete history of the wardrobes
of Barbie doll, her friends and her family

Vol. I, 1959-1967
by
Sarah Sink Eames

Part two of three in a series celebrating Barbie’s 60th Anniversary

Just like in the real fashion world, Barbie’s styles have changed over the years and, while many of her outfits have included the latest fun trends, her timeless fashions from the 1960s are my favorites.

My work friend M. let me borrow this fantastic book detailing all of Barbie’s fashions from 1959–1967. I’ll show you Volume II (1968-1974) in a future Barbie post. This book is great for collectors. I was able to find many of the outfits I already owned and it was fun to sort them all out and see what years they came out and what accessories came with them. As you can tell, I’m a little obsessed.

So while this isn’t exactly a book review, it’s an example of the many ways books can bring happiness.

Here are the rewards of my efforts – I hope you enjoy this trip back in time!


I don’t have the original Barbie anymore, but I do have some of the outfits from this book. Here’s Barbie wearing one of my favorites from 1965-1966, “Golden Glory.” You may be wondering about this Barbie. When you’re a kid playing, sometimes things happen and you have to make do. The pull-string from my Talking Barbie broke, so for unexplained reasons, I transferred her head to this Twist and Turn Barbie.


Skipper was always one of my favorites and I loved her red velvet coat from 1964 – 1965. The coat and hat came with white gloves, white socks, white shoes and a red purse, long gone from my Barbie case. I also had the original Scooter doll, who hit the scene in 1963. Here Scooter is wearing one of Skipper’s outfits from 1967 called “Rolla Scoot.” It came with pink shoes and skates.

 


Casey had a great beach outfit and, despite many real trips to the beach with the doll, I was able to find most of it!


I don’t have the original Ken anymore either, but here’s Talking Ken wearing what’s left of one of the original outfits from 1964, called “The Casuals.” Anyone who had a newer Ken quickly discovered that the old Ken’s clothes didn’t fit. New Ken was bigger and more muscular and I had to squeeze him into this shirt!


I always liked Barbie’s other little sister, Tutti. Here she is wearing what’s left of the “Puddle Jumpers” outfit from 1966-1967. I added the hat for fun.


These are some great outfits, but the best clothes were the hand-sewn and hand-knitted ones that came from my grandmother. Aren’t these evening coats fantastic?


And look at this great sweater for Ken – too bad new Ken is too burly to fit into it!

 


Here are the full outfits, in order of appearance, taken from Barbie Fashion:


These are just a few of the outfits I have saved since I was a girl. I hope you’ve enjoyed taking a look. Do you still have some of your old toys or dolls?

To learn more about Carol Spencer, one of the most influential Barbie fashion designers: Dressing Barbie: A Celebration of the Clothes That Made America’s Favorite Doll and the Incredible Woman Behind Them – Carol Spencer

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Who’s That Indie Author? Richard Doiron

Photo: Patricia Eaton

Author name: Richard Doiron

Genre: Poetry

Books: Let There Be Peace; In The Spirit Of Gibran; Ancestors Dance (222 Sonnets)

What’s your story and how did you become a writer? Mozart was born to music; I was born to write.

How do you balance your work with other demands? Retired now, but even when holding two full-time jobs simultaneously, I still wrote two hours daily.

Name one of the happiest moments in your life: When my daughter was born, eyes open, fully alert.

What’s your approach to writing? Are you a “pantser” or a planner? I see myself as a channel, so some things would not apply; once a project is started, however, it would be seen to completion.

Could you write in a café with people around? I have written in every imaginable situation; once in a very loud bar, music blaring, I wrote a poem that will always stand out. Silence is good also.

Have you ever written dialogue in a second language? If so, how did you do it? I was taught in French, originally, and I have written some poems and song lyrics in French; not as easy nor as spontaneously, however.

What’s your favorite book and what are you reading now? I am not a reader of books, something that has always been a struggle for me and a puzzle for others. However, Kahlil Gibran I related to, and his The Prophet will always hold a special place in my being.

What’s your favorite way to read a book: hardcover, paperback, eReader? Because reading books has always been such a monumental task, I have no preferences in this regard. But what I have read has been hardcover.

Do you think print books will always be around? I do believe that print books will always have a special place in our world, though they may eventually be relegated to history; I would hope not. The thrill of holding your own book for the very first time is a feeling like few others.

Would you ever read a book on your phone? Frankly, I am very much inept technologically-speaking and using a cell phone to call in and receive calls is about as much as I can successfully do.

What’s your go-to device? iPhone, android or something else? I don’t want to sound out of touch with modern-day realities, but my old computer is my link to the outer world. I cannot relate to any of those things mentioned.

How long could you go without checking your phone? I rarely use my phone, using it only for necessary tasks, the simpler the better.

Do you listen to audiobooks? If you do, what do you do while you’re listening? I have never listened to an audiobook.

Do you like using social media to promote yourself and your book? If so, what’s your favorite platform? To be honest, I have never been much of a self-promoting salesman. That would be unfortunate, I believe. While sharing a website with a friend for over a decade, it would be fair to say that we have not promoted our books, or even the website, very effectively. Online 18 years, I have shared poems online daily through that time frame, obviously thousands at this time.

Website and social media links: spiritsinpeace.com

Awards/special recognition: World Poetry Lifetime Achievement Award (2012); Pentasi B World Friendship Poetry Lifetime Achievement Award (2017); nominated for World Poet Laureate 2019.


Are you an indie author?  Do you want to build your indie author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

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Author teams and pen names – if the story’s good, does it matter? Not to me!

The book I’m reading and enjoying right now, A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd, was written by a mother and son team (Charles and Caroline Todd). I recently read another excellent book, Blue Monday by Nicci French. That’s a husband and wife team, Nicci Gerard and Sean French. Last year I read an engrossing YA story, Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman, written by a father and son. The Shustermans don’t combine their names, so it’s plain to the reader that it’s written by two people. That got me thinking. If a story is good, does it matter if it’s a collaborative effort? Do you feel tricked when the book has one author name but it’s really two people?

What about pseudonyms? Did you know that romance writer Nora Roberts also writes a police series as J. D. Robb? Using a different name is nothing new. Benjamin Franklin used many different pen names, including Martha Careful and Silence Dogood. And of course there are the Brontё sisters, AKA the Bells, Charlotte as Currer, Emily as Ellis and Ann as Acton. In fact, the more you look for authors who have used pseudonyms, the more you find. Take a look at this List of pen names on Wikipedia and you will see how many.

It doesn’t matter to me if a book is written by two people, even when they combine their names so it looks like one author wrote it. If the story is good, it’s good and the reader benefits. And it’s kind of like being in on a secret if you know.

Think about great shows and how many writers they have. Does that make the show less entertaining? Definitely not! That applies to music too. Great bands are great because they collaborate.

So I know that I don’t care if a story is written by one or a couple writers. But what do you think? Does it matter to you? Can you add to this list?

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Dressing Barbie: A Celebration of the Clothes That Made America’s Favorite Doll and the Incredible Woman Behind Them – Carol Spencer

Part one of three in a series celebrating Barbie’s 60th Anniversary

In my room, in the back yard, on the beach and almost always with my friend Nancy, Barbie and her crew were a big part of my childhood. In the 1960s and 70s and admittedly, almost into our teens, we spread out wherever there was space for our dolls, outfits, cases, dream houses, cars, and even a swimming pool. We were open to ideas, and readily included accessories from other toys, whether or not they were exact fits. All the while, we played out scenarios. Many of them were typical story lines for girls back then. Barbie and Ken go for a drive. Barbie and Casey get ready for the prom. Barbie babysits little sister Tutti at the beach. But sometimes our Barbies argued, got lost, wiped out in the surf or fell out of trees.

Introduced in 1959 as a teenage model, Barbie was the brainchild of Ruth Handler, whose husband Elliot founded Mattel with Harold Matson. From the start, Barbie had a spectacular wardrobe. Early outfits resembled the classic style of Jackie Kennedy, including Spencer’s first outfit shown here:

I was especially thrilled when my sister handed down her Barbies and many of these clothes to me because they also included hand sewn and custom knitted outfits, created by our grandmother.

Barbie turned 60 this year. To mark this occasion, Harper Design released a new memoir about one of Mattel’s original fashion designers, Carol Spencer: Dressing Barbie: A Celebration of the Clothes That Made America’s Favorite Doll and the Incredible Woman Behind Them. Spencer was a designer at Mattel for over 35 years and her fashions became ours.

Raised in Minneapolis, Spencer learned to sew as a girl. In 1950, she graduated high school, broke up with her boyfriend and enrolled at the Minneapolis School of Art. From there, she got a plum job as Guest Editor at Mademoiselle, then returned to Minneapolis where she designed children’s wear for Wonderalls and “misses sportswear” for Junior House. Her career at Mattel began when she answered a blind ad in Women’s Wear magazine, seeking a fashion designer. She got the job in 1963 and joined a team of four other designers, under Charlotte Johnson, Barbie’s original stylist. The intense competition between designers resulted in a mini closetful of fun styles for Barbie, Ken, Skipper, Scooter, Casey, Francie, Tutti and friends. And many of Barbie’s fashions were inspired by Spencer’s personal wardrobe.

Dressing Barbie includes pages of beautiful high quality images of a fantastic collection of dolls and clothes. As times in America and across the world changed, so did Barbie and her clothes. From the mod clothes of the 70s, to shoulder pads and big hair in the 80s and 90s, Barbie tried on more than just the latest fashion. New multi-cultural versions of Barbie were introduced, addressing a need for a better representation of girls around the world. New careers also opened up and Barbie became an astronaut, surgeon, CEO and now runs for President every election year.

Aerobics Barbie, shown here, made a cameo in Toy Story II.

I enjoyed reading about Spencer’s experiences as a fashion designer at Mattel and learning about the process of creating Barbie’s clothes. When Spencer started her career, designing was hands-on, using glue and tiny patterns. Later, computer designs made the job easier, although Spencer had always enjoyed using her hands to craft her ideas. One of the challenges was to find patterns and prints that were suitable to scale for a doll. I had not thought of that and was interested to read how they determined what to use. The Oil Embargo in 1973 also had an impact on Barbie’s clothes because they were no longer able to use polyester, acrylics or nylon fabrics which use petroleum as a base.

Although I eventually outgrew playing with Barbies, I was sorry to put them away. But I never got rid of them – they still live in my closet. I was also sorry that the best-selling Barbie of all time came out long after I stopped playing with them. Totally Hair Barbie, shown here, had a mane of hair I would have totally loved!

Dressing Barbie is a reminder of how important imaginative play is to children. Spencer leaves the reader with these thoughts:

Because I’ve been in the toy industry for so many years, I can’t help but worry about future generations. As play becomes more centered on the virtual world, will children miss out on the real-life experiences and imagination that playing with Barbie dolls offered?

For more information, click here to read a recent article from the New York Times about Carol Spencer and Dressing Barbie.

For more visit: Look what Barbie’s wearing! Barbie Fashion 1959-1967

Images shown above are from the pages of Dressing Barbie.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Who’s That Indie Author? Diana Stevan

Hello, I’m reblogging Diana Stevan’s author profile to coincide with the release of her newest book, Sunflowers Under Fire. Take a look!

Book Club Mom

Author name:  Diana Stevan

Genre:  Women’s Fiction

Books:  A Cry From The Deep and The Rubber Fence

  

Stevan’s latest book, Sunflowers Under Fire, will be published in May 2019.

When did you begin your writing career?  I seriously took up writing after I retired from my psychotherapy private practice about twenty-five years ago.

What’s your approach to writing? Are you a “pantser” or a planner?  I’m a bit of both, but mostly a pantser. I’m not great at mapping everything out ahead of time. I like the characters to take me on unexpected journeys which lead me to re-imagining my story.

What’s your working style – morning or late-night writer?  I get up early and write throughout the day.

Do you work at a computer or write long-hand?  I use a computer to write. I’m afraid if I used long-hand, I’d have difficulty reading my…

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Book Club Mom’s April recap – showers and flowers

Image: Pixabay

True to form, April came in with showers and today, on the last day of the month, there are plenty of flowers.

I was busy this month with more than just reading and blogging, and I took an unexpected week off from WordPress and all social media. I returned with energy and new ideas, some of which you will see in May!

Here’s a recap of my posts, with a bit of commentary, just in case you missed something.


I reviewed three books this month – all very good reads!

The Banker’s Wife by Cristina Alger

The Glass Room by Ann Cleeves

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley


I posted about my blogging slump which led to a great discussion. Check out the comments and see how other bloggers feel about taking breaks from their blogs.

Blog views and other obsessions – when the slump sneaks up on you!


I made one YouTube video and I am still learning about what works on YouTube and will be making improvements in the coming months. Are you a YouTuber? What has your experience been like?

Thanks to my kids for giving me some good advice and exciting ideas for the future!

On YouTube today – catching up with Book Club Mom


Images: Pixabay

My Grammar Check post about whether you should correct someone’s grammar generated a lot of comments.

The general consensus was to keep mum unless you’re a proofreader.

Grammar check – speech is silver, silence is golden!


I introduced one indie author – H. W. Bryce and wrote a post about how to submit a profile to Who’s That Indie Author. I’ve lined up some new authors for May, so get ready to meet some new writers! In the meantime, check out Bryce’s book of poetry for some thoughtful insights.

Who’s That Indie Author? H. W. Bryce

And if you’re interested in being featured, learn how to Introduce yourself and make connections on Who’s That Indie Author!


Image: Pixabay

As anyone who likes to read knows, the “To Be Read” pile grows and grows. But making lists is part of the fun. Wondering where to get some good book recommendations? Visit your library – where browsing is always fun and books are free!

How to make a good book list – visit your library!


I’m working on some new ideas for May and I’m thinking about restructuring my blog posts this summer. I think it’s good to shake things up from time to time. Next month is looking good to me – here are those flowers I told you about!

Image: Pixabay

How was your month? I hope you had a good one!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!