Who’s That Indie Author? Jennifer S. Alderson

Author name:  Jennifer S. Alderson

Genres:  Mystery / Thriller / Historical Fiction / Travel

Books:  Marked for Revenge, Rituals of the Dead, The Lover’s Portrait, Down and Out in Kathmandu, Holiday Gone Wrong, and Notes of a Naive Traveler

What’s your story and how did you become a writer?  Thanks for inviting me to your blog, Book Club Mom!

I am an American currently residing in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. My passion for travel, history, and art inspires my novels. I have been writing for as long as I can remember, but until my late twenties, it was all non-fiction for newspapers and magazines. After an incredible trip to Nepal, I wrote a fictionalized version of my adventures but didn’t know what to do with it. The sudden death of a close relative was the catalyst to get it published.

How do you balance your work with other demands?  Balancing my roles as writer, business owner, wife, and mother is an enormous challenge! My focus shifts weekly, depending on the current needs of my family and business. However, my writing time is well-guarded!

Name one of the happiest moments in your life:  Aside from meeting my husband or the birth of my child, I think it was receiving my Dutch passport. It has been a long and sometimes difficult transition into expat life, but I am so glad to be in the Netherlands. It feels like I’ve come home.

What’s your approach to writing? Are you a “pantser” or a planner?  Planner all the way. Without a concise outline, I am completely lost! However, once I start writing, I allow myself to listen to the story and follow the path it takes me on, even if that means deviating from the outline.

Could you write in a café with people around?  I love writing in busy cafes! Silence reminds me too much of my former corporate life. I write faster and better when surrounded by fairly loud music that turns surrounding conversations into white noise. Otherwise, I would be eavesdropping instead of writing. J

Have you ever written dialogue in a second language? If so, how did you do it?  I have included Dutch, German, and Italian phrases in my novels. Honestly, I am quite nervous about getting it wrong every time I do. One great advantage of living in such an international city is that I know native speakers who I could double check my translations with.

What’s your favorite book and what are you reading now?  There are so many great books to choose from! I am a huge fan of Donna Leon and just finished rereading By Its Cover. I admire her ability to bring Venice to life in each and every novel.

What’s your favorite way to read a book: hardcover, paperback, eReader?  I used to read exclusively paperbacks but in the last few years I have transitioned to eBooks. I read so many, it makes it a whole lot cheaper to stock up and take them with me!

Do you think print books will always be around?  I hope so. There is nothing more wonderful than holding a paperback in your hand. I do still buy paperbacks of my favorite reads, as well as give them as gifts.

Would you ever read a book on your phone?  I have not. I am not a fan of smart phones and try to use mine as little as possible.

What’s your go-to device? iPhone, android or something else?  I do read eBooks on my iPad and have reading apps installed for iBooks, Kindle, Bol, Kobo, and my local library.

How long could you go without checking your phone?  Days, possibly weeks! I am not good about checking messages or calling people back straight away. Since becoming an author, I check my email and social media much more often than I used to, but it is still a challenge to stay on top of all of the messages I receive!

Do you listen to audiobooks? If you do, what do you do while you’re listening?  I have recently discovered audiobooks and enjoy listening to them when working on marketing and social media.

Do you like using social media to promote yourself and your book? If so, what’s your favorite platform?  Connecting with readers is one of the most enjoyable things about this job! When you write a book, you have no idea if anyone will be able to relate to the characters, setting, or plot. Publishing a book really is a leap of faith. Chatting with readers who enjoy my work or share the same interests I do, really makes it fun. Facebook is my favorite platform, though I am also often on Twitter and Instagram.

Website and social media links:
Website:  jennifersalderson.com
Twitter: @JSAauthor
Facebook: @JenniferSAldersonauthor
Goodreads Author Page: Jennifer S. Alderson
Amazon Author Page: Jennifer S. Alderson

Awards/special recognition:  My novels have won several readers awards, including 5 star medals from Readers’ Favorite, Chill with a Book, and indieBRAG. They have also been included on several Recommended Reads lists on websites such as The Displaced Nation, TripFiction, and Women Writers, Women’s Books.

About the Author:  Jennifer S. Alderson was born in San Francisco, raised in Seattle, and currently lives in Amsterdam. After traveling extensively around Asia, Oceania, and Central America, she moved to Darwin, Australia, before finally settling in the Netherlands. Jennifer’s love of travel, art, and culture inspires her award-winning, internationally oriented mystery series—the Zelda Richardson Mystery Series—and standalone stories. Her background in journalism, multimedia development, and art history enriches her novels. When not writing, she can be found in a museum, biking around Amsterdam, or enjoying a coffee along the canal while planning her next research trip.


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.

Audiobook review: Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman, narrated by Cassandra Campbell

Rating:

In 1994, Piper Kerman, was a recent graduate of Smith College when she became romantically involved with a woman who was deep into a heroin smuggling scheme. Soon, out of a combination of infatuation and boredom, Piper agreed to help with the business. The ugly reality and danger of moving drugs, however, made her nervous, so she eventually broke free, moved across the country and started a new life.

Piper’s old life caught up with her, however, and in 1998 she was indicted for money laundering and drug trafficking. In 2004, after years of delays, due to other pending indictments and sentencings, Piper was ordered to report to the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury where she would serve thirteen months.

Orange Is the New Black is Piper’s memoir about her experience in this minimum security prison. Her story was published in 2010 and was adapted for Netflix in the Emmy award-winning show of the same name. Season 7, its final season, is scheduled for release on July 26.

I listened to the audiobook version, which is narrated by Cassandra Campbell, who does an excellent job adapting her voice to many characters. I thought her voice sounded familiar and that’s because Campbell is an audiobook superstar. She’s narrated over 700 titles, has won four Audie Awards and is in Audible’s Narrator Hall of Fame.

Piper’s engaging story tells of a young a privileged white woman who learns to assimilate herself in a diverse population of women. While life at Danbury is far different from anything she has experienced, she approaches it with a positive attitude and develops strong friendships with her “bunkies” and other women in the prison. Of course, she has many regular visitors from the outside, including her journalist fiancé. And she receives a lot of mail and books and remote support from her family, including plenty of money to get what she needs at the commissary.

Many of the women at Danbury are in far worse shape, serving long sentences, separated from their children, and with few visitors. Piper’s empathy seems genuine, though and, despite the differences, the women find ways to connect and support each other.

I enjoyed listening to this memoir. I’m late to the party in learning about the book and the show, but I’m glad I finally got to it.

Today, Piper Kerman is an outspoken advocate for women in prison. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her family and teaches writing in two state prisons as an Affiliate Instructor with Otterbein University.

Have you read or listened to Orange Is the New Black? Have you watched the show? I plan to watch eventually!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

School Days, Reminiscences of Barbara Vitelli

What are your earliest memories of school? What were your favorite subjects? I’m answering these and other questions today Norah Colvin’s blog, as part of her School Days, Reminiscences series. I hope you’ll hop over and take a look!

Norah Colvin

Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my champion bloggers and authors share reminiscences of their school days. It’s my small way of thanking them for their support and of letting you know about their services and publications.

This week, I am pleased to introduce Book Club MomBarbara Vitelli, fellow book lover, librarian, blogger and fiction writer. We’ve been following each other’s blogs for a few years now. I enjoy reading Barbara’s book reviews and have read the occasional book as a result of Barbara’s recommendation. In fact, I’m currently listening to The Other Wes Moore One Name Two Fates, a memoir and New York Times Bestseller that Barbara reviewed. What a fascinating story with a strong theme of ‘that could have been me’ and how circumstances influence life’s outcomes. What makes the audiobook even more special is that Wes reads it. A great…

View original post 1,245 more words

The Right Stuff – the book by Tom Wolfe, the 1983 movie and how we got to the moon

Image: Wikipedia

Did you know that we are approaching the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing? On July 20, 1969, the United States Apollo 11 was the first crewed mission to land on the moon. Six hours after the lunar module landed, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first men to walk on the moon!

The race to space began over a decade earlier, when the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik 1 satellite in 1957. In response, the United States formed the Mercury Seven, a group of seven pilots who began training to be the first Americans in space. They were Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, and Deke Slayton. This was the beginning of the new astronaut profession and, between 1961 and 1963, all seven flew into space. All this training led to the historic moon landing in 1969.

Tom Wolfe’s book The Right Stuff is about this group and the test pilots that came before them, including Chuck Yeager, the first pilot to break the sound barrier. Wolfe’s critically-praised book was published in 1974 and became the Academy Award-winning film in 1983.

I recently watched the movie, starring Sam Shepard, Barbara Hershey, Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid and even a very young Jeff Goldblum. I enjoyed the movie very much because, even though I knew about the Space Race, I didn’t see the movie back in 1983 and didn’t know much about the Mercury Seven. What is the most impressive is the tremendous risk these men were willing to take to venture into the unknown. They suffered setbacks and failure and Gus Grissom died in a pre-launch test. But the public’s adulation of these men marked the beginning of America’s fascination with space exploration.

The Mercury Seven/Image: Wikipedia

At three hours, it’s a longer film than most, and I had to split it into two nights, but I’d recommend it. Seeing the cast as young actors was also fun!

Have you read The Right Stuff or watched the movie? Maybe you’re too young, but if you’re around my age, you will remember the lunar landing!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Joy in the Morning by P.G. Wodehouse

From the archives – I always laugh when I read P.G. Wodehouse – if you’ve never read one of his ridiculous stories, try Joy in the Morning. I bet you’ll become a fan!

Book Club Mom

Just Enough Jeeves

Joy in the Morning
from
Just Enough Jeeves
by
P.G. Wodehouse

Rating:
5 book marks

Imagine a scenario in which ridiculous characters bumble through a series of hilarious coincidences and an equal number of snafus, all in the name of love, marriage and a big business deal. That’s the main idea in Joy in the Morning, the first of three short novels included in Just Enough Jeeves, a great introduction to P.G. Wodehouse’s famous characters, a twenty-something Bertie Wooster and his manservant Jeeves.

In this story, Bertie and Jeeves leave London and head for the quiet hamlet of Steeple Bumpleigh. To anyone wishing to escape a hectic metropolis, Steeple Bumpleigh sounds great. Bertie describes it as located “in the midst of smiling fields and leafy woods, hard by a willow-fringed river.” It’s a place where “you couldn’t have thrown a brick in it without hitting a honeysuckle-covered cottage or beaning an…

View original post 325 more words

Grammar check – is relatable a real word?

Yes, it is, but the meaning has changed. The word relatable used to mean that something could be told or that it was connected to something else. Now, it usually describes a situation in which someone has a personal connection to something.

Merriam-Webster defines relatable as:

  1. able to be shown or established to have a causal or logical connection to something
  2. able to be related to : possible to understand, like, or have sympathy for because of similarities to oneself or one’s own experiences

Relatable is all over the media. Every show, book, movie, news story, tweet or post is relatable to someone. And this isn’t anything new, just something I’ve been thinking about lately.

Professors and high school teachers have bemoaned its overuse and some say that students need to pay attention to things that are not relatable so they can understand them better.

For more information, read Ben Zimmer’s 2010 New York Times article in which he explains the origins of the word, and Rebecca Onion’s 2014 article in Slate, where she says the word’s overuse bothers her. Me? I’m not bothered by it. It may be a lazy way of saying you get something, without explaining why, but it’s an otherwise nice word—and that’s relatable!

What’s your opinion on relatable?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Honor Girl – A Graphic Memoir by Maggie Thrash

Honor Girl – A Graphic Memoir
by
Maggie Thrash

Rating:

Honor Girl is a graphic memoir about the author’s coming-out experience at a summer camp in the mountains of Kentucky. When Maggie returns to Camp Bellflower at age fifteen, friends, traditions and camp activities are largely the same, until she meets Erin, a college-age camp counselor. Her crush is undeniable, but also frightening and confusing and Maggie makes her best effort to sort out her feelings, spending her free time at the rifle range where she is trying to earn a Distinguished Expert certification.

Rumors spread, however, when Maggie’s camper friends begin to question her relationship with Erin, subjecting Maggie to embarrassing jokes and conversations. Despite the taunts, she is surprisingly strong and her good friends are generally accepting.

The story has a coming-of-age and camp camaraderie feel to it and even readers who have never attended summer camp will ease into life in tents and canoes. The author tells her story with humor and light sarcasm, making Honor Girl an easy read, without a heavy message. And while the story is about Maggie’s feelings for another girl, its appeal is in the author’s ability to describe her experience in the same way as a traditional boy-girl crush.

I have not read many graphic novels or graphic memoirs, so this was a nice change. Like a comic book, it’s mostly illustrated dialogue, with occasional narrative. Honor Girl is a Young Adult book, but I would recommend it to any reader who likes to try different genres. As for the artwork, I did find the illustrations a little difficult to follow. They are simple drawings and it was sometimes hard for me to figure out who was who, as many of the faces are similar. All in all, however, a good (and fast) read.

Do you read graphic novels or memoirs? What are your favorites?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Audiobook review: Roar by Cecelia Ahern

Roar
by
Cecelia Ahern

Rating:

I’m not sure how to review a book like this. It’s a collection of thirty feminist fables, with titles that all begin with “The Woman Who…” The author addresses many of the challenges women of many ages face, mostly dealing with identity and self-worth. Some of them are coping with not being “seen” or taken seriously, or being treated as possessions. Some are mothers in crisis, who rush around with their young children. Others are young professionals, feeling suppressed by their male colleagues.

I listened to the audiobook version, which was narrated by three women. I would not call this a relaxing experience. The stories are combative and aggressive and I felt as if the message for most had a very “us against them” approach. The exceptions were some I did enjoy, including “The Woman Who Thought Her Mirror Was Broken,” “The Woman Who Forgot Her Name,” and “The Woman Who Walked in Her Husband’s Shoes.” I liked these because there was better resolution and understanding between the men and women in the stories. Although Ahern uses exaggerated metaphors to make her points (women disappearing, unraveling, being eaten up by guilt), these three fables were more relatable.

Many of the stories, at least in the audio version, have such an angry and staccato tone to them that I grew tired of the message, despite its worth. I think this collection, 289 pages in print and an eight-and-a-half-hour listen, would have been better if it was shorter.

Perhaps these stories were just not for me. There seems to be an equal measure of critical and positive talk online. I’m sharing several bloggers’ positive opinions here so you can decide for yourself:

Bookshelf Fantasies
Emma R
aclaireum

Have you read Roar? What did you think?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Friday Fiction – A Man and His Phone

Welcome to A Man and His Phone – a series of relationship mishaps!
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Chris smiled when he saw the text message. Thank goodness for technology! The thought surprised him. Hours earlier, he had been on his couch, completely content to watch the Sixers, drink his beer and ignore the phone across the room. And now, after a comedy show of meet-ups, first with the very interesting, yet-to-be-introduced Adrienne, and then with both Jane and Adrienne in his apartment stairwell, he’s found himself at a dance club, faking a call and pretend-talking, just to get his long-term girlfriend off his lap.

He looked over at Adrienne. The deafening music and heavy beat left no chance for conversation, but it didn’t matter. What a happy set of circumstances, he realized, all without much of his own doing. Back at his apartment building, after the fluster of hearing Jane and Adrienne trip over an outrageous explanation of why they were in his building, he found himself happily agreeing to go to Karma. Jane had been giddy over his willingness to go. A little too giddy, Chris thought, but whatever.

The beat shook the room and Chris took in the mob on the dance floor. What a bunch of crazies, he thought, grateful that he had so far escaped that pulsing hell.

Chris thought back and realized it had been genius of Adrienne to suggest they exchange contact info before they’d headed to Karma in two cars. “Jane will be driving,” Adrienne explained. You can text me if we get separated. Chris had dumbly agreed. It didn’t make complete sense since Jane obviously had his number and he’d also be busy driving. It was true he had never been to Karma, but he had a GPS like everyone else in the world. But it’s also a no brainer when an interesting woman suggests trading contact info. He hadn’t asked Adrienne for the rescue text, but she knew he needed it.

He was pretty sure he loved Jane, but when she jumped on his lap, there had been no time to think. He simply didn’t want her on his lap, on a ridiculously high stool, out in public. It broke all his PDA rules. If he’d paid attention since the stairwell, he would have noticed Jane’s ramped-up assertiveness, but Chris after all, was just Chris, a guy who wanted to watch a game on TV, but was instead out for a night of dancing.

Another look over at Adrienne and it occurred to Chris that she was seriously dressed for dancing and, like a race horse at the gate, was champing at the bit. She stood, moving to the beat, a little exaggerated, he thought. And for goodness sake, wasn’t she nursing a sore ankle from her fall in the stairwell? A panic set in. It wasn’t just that Chris didn’t like dancing. He knew he was no good at it. Since the incident at his high school homecoming dance, he’d simply refused to get out there with any woman.

Adrienne drained her drink. “Come on, Chris. Let’s get out there!” Before he could answer, she grabbed his hand and pulled. “Hop off that high chair of yours, it’s time to get some exercise.”

With Chris in tow, Adrienne continued to pull until they reached the edge of the dance floor. To Chris, it was the equivalent of the seconds before a cliff dive, something he’d only done once. But the memory of that sensation stayed with him whenever he faced an uncomfortable social situation. She gave him no time to think and soon they were surrounded by a sweaty mash of bodies.

Chris started to move. Thank goodness he’d been loosened up a bit by his last Yuengling. And what better inspiration than seeing Adrienne, clearly a pro, making it look so easy. First one move, then another, he took some chances, and let the beat sink into his body. Before long, Chris was Patrick Swayze, John Travolta and Kevin Bacon wrapped up in a twenty-something millennial on a dance floor in suburban New Jersey.

And that’s when it also occurred to Chris that the reason he was out there on the Karma dance floor was because he wanted to be, and it didn’t matter if he knew how to dance or was good at it, because no one could actually see him. That is, until the others on the floor noticed him, gave him the room that any dance sensation would need and stopped to watch the magic.

Chris pulled Adrienne close and looked out at the crowd taking them in. At the center stood Jane, wearing three shades of anger.

Thank you for reading.


Click here to catch up previous episodes of A Man and His Phone.

Copyright © 2019 by Book Club Mom

All rights reserved.  All material on this blog is the property of Book Club Mom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Sounds Like Titanic by Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman

Sounds Like Titanic
by
Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman

Rating:

Imagine being hired to play violin in a prestigious touring orchestra, only to discover that the microphones are turned off. What’s turned on is a $14.95 CD player from Walmart, playing a recorded version of a composer’s music, performed by other musicians. Also imagine that the music sounds suspiciously like, but a strategic note or two different from, the score of the popular 1997 film, Titanic.

Oh, and the job also includes gigs “playing” violin and selling The Composer’s CDs at craft fairs and malls. When you’re a college student, struggling to pay tuition, you might be okay with that.

Here’s a terrific memoir about a young woman from West Virginia who dreams of becoming a concert violinist, but isn’t quite good enough, something she quickly discovers in her first year at Columbia University. She takes the violinist job to help pay her tuition, where she majors in Middle East Studies. Her study abroad in Egypt has just begun when 9/11 happens and, while most American students return, she decides to finish out the semester, preferring to develop her war correspondent skills. Back at Columbia, scrambling between classes, doing the work, and making money to pay for the classes, the author hits many lows, turns to drugs and suffers debilitating panic attacks.

It’s during Hindman’s time in college, after 9/11, when she begins to question what is real and what is fake, a major theme in her memoir. Her gigs in the orchestra are a perfect metaphor for these feelings, which to her also represent Bush’s responsibility for the Iraq War and his failed search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

While Hindman’s book is mostly about her experiences, the reader gets a look at who the unnamed orchestra leader is, but she only refers to him as The Composer. She does not want to “out” him. Her reasons are clear. He is wildly popular during a post 9/11 period of American anxiety and is wholly devoted to his fans, whom he spends hours greeting and listening to after concerts. He also supports and donates large amounts of money to many worthy causes. He’s clearly selfless in that regard. She says in the beginning that, “when it comes to the most genuine gesture an American can make—giving away money—The Composer is the real deal.”

As a reader, however, I wanted to know who this enigmatic man was, the one who continues to smile maniacally during performances and public appearances and demands the same of his performers. It’s easy enough to find out who it might be, but by the end of the book, it doesn’t really matter.

I highly recommend Sounds Like Titanic to anyone who likes a good story. It’s well-written, real, funny and original. Hindman abandoned her dreams of becoming a concert violinist and a war correspondent. But during that period, she came to better understand herself. She received her MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Columbia and a PhD in English from the University of North Texas. She now teaches creative writing at Northern Kentucky University.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!