Book Club Mom’s Books of 2021

I’m a little late in sharing this, but if you’d like to see what I read in 2021, here they are!

The Searcher by Tana French – 4 stars

The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn – 5 stars

A Murder of Magpies by Judith Flanders – 3 stars

Cary Grant – A Brilliant Disguise by Scott Eyman – 5 stars

The Perfect Wife by Blake Pierce – 3 stars

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing – 4 stars

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane – 4 stars

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky – 4 stars

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – 4.5 stars

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold – 4 stars

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger – 5 stars

Rabbit, Run by John Updike – 5 stars

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards – 3 stars

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison – 5 stars

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin – 3 stars

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt – 4.5 stars

The Last Flight by Julie Clark – 3.5 stars

The Home Place by J. Drew Lanham – 4.5 stars

The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth – 4 stars

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner – 3 stars

Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland – 3.5 stars

The Bone Hunger by Carrie Rubin – 4.5 stars

My Brief History by Stephen Hawking – 4 stars

The Early Stories of Truman Capote – 5 stars

The Lost Man by Jane Harper – 4 stars

The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough – 4.5 stars

“The Casual Car Pool” by Katherine Bell – 4 stars

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney – 3 stars

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz – 3.5 stars

The Stranger in the Mirror by Liv Constantine – 3 stars

We Must Be Brave by Frances Liardet – 3.5 stars

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel – 4 stars

The Lying Room by Nicci French – 3.5 stars

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones – 3 stars

The Address by Fiona Davis – 4 stars

Furious Hours by Casey Cep – 5 stars

The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford – 3.5 stars

There There by Tommy Orange – 5 stars

Elizabeth and Monty by Charles Casillo – 3.5 stars

Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell – 5 stars

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie – 4 stars

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders – 5 stars

Defending Jacob by William Landay – 3.5 stars

For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway – 5 stars

Capote’s Women by Laurence Leamer – 3 stars

Date with Death by Julia Chapman – 3.5 stars

The Copenhagen Trilogy by Tove Ditlevsen – 4.5 stars

If you’d like to see what I’ve read in other years, you can follow these links which are also in tabs at the top of the page:

Books of 2013

Books of 2014

Books of 2015

Books of 2016

Books of 2017

Books of 2018

Books of 2019

Books of 2020

I didn’t read as many books this year, but some of them were long ones! I feel like I’d gotten away from reading longer books, so reading these reminded me of the nice feeling of really sinking into a story like The Thorn Birds.

Stay tuned for an updated list of my all-time top reads. I went from Top 10 to Top 15 a few years ago. I’m probably going to have to up it to 20 because I read some great books in 2021. Do you have lists of all-time favorite books? What’s your number one favorite? If you don’t know by now, my all-time favorite book is Youngblood Hawke by Herman Wouk. That’s a long one too!

Leave a comment and tell me your favorites 🙂

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Nonfiction books on my radar – my TBR grows!

The older I get, the more interested I am in nonfiction. I especially like biographies and memoirs and narrative nonfiction. I also like an occasional gossipy book (I confess!). Here are five nonfiction books I’d like to read this year. All descriptions are from Amazon.

Greed in the Gilded Age: The Brilliant Con of Cassie Chadwick by William Elliott Hazelgrove (Feb 15)

‘Millionaire’ had just entered the American lexicon and Cassie Chadwick was front page news, becoming a media sensation before mass media, even eclipsing President Roosevelt’s inauguration. Using these newspaper articles, Hazelgrove tells the story of one of the greatest cons in American history.

Combining the sexuality and helplessness her gender implied, Chadwick conned at least 2 million dollars, equivalent to about 60 million today, simply by claiming to be the illegitimate daughter and heir of steel titan, Andrew Carnegie. Playing to their greed, she was able to convince highly educated financiers to loan hundreds of thousands of dollars, on nothing more than a rumor and her word.

She was a product of her time and painting her as a criminal is only one way to look at it. Those times rewarded someone who was smart, inventive, bold, and aggressive. She was able to break through boundaries of class, education, and gender, to beat the men of the one percent at their own game.

Hedged Out: Inequality and Insecurity on Wall Street by Megan Tobias Neely (Jan 25)

Who do you think of when you imagine a hedge fund manager? A greedy fraudster, a visionary entrepreneur, a wolf of Wall Street? These tropes capture the public imagination of a successful hedge fund manager. But behind the designer suits, helicopter commutes, and illicit pursuits are the everyday stories of people who work in the hedge fund industry—many of whom don’t realize they fall within the 1 percent that drives the divide between the richest and the rest. With Hedged Out, sociologist and former hedge fund analyst Megan Tobias Neely gives readers an outsider’s insider perspective on Wall Street and its enduring culture of inequality.

Hedged Out dives into the upper echelons of Wall Street, where elite white masculinity is the standard measure for the capacity to manage risk and insecurity. Facing an unpredictable and risky stock market, hedge fund workers protect their interests by working long hours and building tight-knit networks with people who look and behave like them. Using ethnographic vignettes and her own industry experience, Neely showcases the voices of managers and other workers to illustrate how this industry of politically mobilized elites excludes people on the basis of race, class, and gender. Neely shows how this system of elite power and privilege not only sustains itself but builds over time as the beneficiaries concentrate their resources. Hedged Out explains why the hedge fund industry generates extreme wealth, why mostly white men benefit, and why reforming Wall Street will create a more equal society.

Heiresses: The Lives of the Million Dollar Babies by Laura Thompson (Feb 15)

Heiresses: surely they are among the luckiest women on earth. Are they not to be envied, with their private jets and Chanel wardrobes and endless funds? Yet all too often those gilded lives have been beset with trauma and despair. Before the 20th century a wife’s inheritance was the property of her husband, making her vulnerable to kidnap, forced marriages, even confinement in an asylum. And in modern times, heiresses fell victim to fortune-hunters who squandered their millions.

Heiresses tells the stories of these million dollar babies: Mary Davies, who inherited London’s most valuable real estate, and was bartered from the age of twelve; Consuelo Vanderbilt, the original American “Dollar Heiress”, forced into a loveless marriage; Barbara Hutton, the Woolworth heiress who married seven times and died almost penniless; and Patty Hearst, heiress to a newspaper fortune who was arrested for terrorism. However, there are also stories of independence and achievement: Angela Burdett-Coutts, who became one of the greatest philanthropists of Victorian England; Nancy Cunard, who lived off her mother’s fortune and became a pioneer of the civil rights movement; and Daisy Fellowes, elegant linchpin of interwar high society and noted fashion editor.

Sentence: Ten Years and a Thousand Books in Prison by Daniel Genis (Feb 22)

In 2003 Daniel Genis, the son of a famous Soviet émigré writer, broadcaster, and culture critic, was fresh out of NYU when he faced a serious heroin addiction that led him into debt and ultimately crime. After he was arrested for robbing people at knifepoint, he was nicknamed the “apologetic bandit” in the press, given his habit of expressing his regret to his victims as he took their cash. He was sentenced to twelve years—ten with good behavior, a decade he survived by reading 1,046 books, taking up weightlifting, having philosophical discussions with his fellow inmates, working at a series of prison jobs, and in general observing an existence for which nothing in his life had prepared him.

Genis describes in unsparing and vivid detail the realities of daily life in the New York penal system. In his journey from Rikers Island and through a series of upstate institutions he encounters violence on an almost daily basis, while learning about the social strata of gangs, the “court” system that sets geographic boundaries in prison yards, how sex was obtained, the workings of the black market in drugs and more practical goods, the inventiveness required for everyday tasks such as cooking, and how debilitating solitary confinement actually is—all while trying to preserve his relationship with his recently married wife.

Shackleton by Ranulph Fiennes (Jan 4)

An enthralling new biography of Ernest Shackleton by the world’s greatest living explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes.

In 1915, Sir Ernest Shackleton’s attempt to traverse the Antarctic was cut short when his ship, Endurance, became trapped in ice. The disaster left Shackleton and his men alone at the frozen South Pole, fighting for their lives. Their survival and escape is the most famous adventure in history.

Shackleton is a captivating new account of the adventurer, his life and his incredible leadership under the most extreme of circumstances. Written by polar adventurer Sir Ranulph Fiennes who followed in Shackleton’s footsteps, he brings his own unique insights to bear on these infamous expeditions. Shackleton is both re-appraisal and a valediction, separating Shackleton from the myth he has become.

Do any of these look good to you? What nonfiction books are you looking forward to reading in 2022? Leave a comment!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Book Review: The Copenhagen Trilogy by Tove Ditlevsen

The Copenhagen Trilogy
by
Tove Ditlevsen

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I had never heard of Tove Ditlevsen until I watched a stream of The 10 Best Books of 2021 from the New York Times, naming The Copenhagen Trilogy as one of the best books of the year. Ditlevsen was a Danish poet and author, and one of Denmark’s best-known authors. She was born in 1917 into a working-class family and during her lifetime, she published twenty-nine books of short stories, novels and poetry. Ditlevsen received numerous awards for her writing, but despite her success, she struggled with drug and alcohol abuse and died of an overdose in 1976 at age fifty-eight.

This sounds like a depressing book to read, but I thought it was beautifully written and it was obvious to me that Ditlevsen had a great talent for understanding and expressing complex feelings and conditions well beyond her youth. The poetry excerpts she includes are testament to her talent.

As a child and teenager, Ditlevsen lived with her parents in a tiny apartment in Copenhagen. Her father was a laborer and was frequently unemployed. Ditlevsen’s formal education was cut short at age fourteen when she began working in various office jobs and at eighteen, she moved out and supported herself. During that time, she published her first poem in a literary journal, then a collection of poetry and began writing novels and more poetry. As a teenager on her own, which was the norm in Denmark, she felt, “There’s something painful and fragile about being a young girl who makes her own living. You can’t see any light ahead on that road. And I want so badly to own my own time instead of always having to sell it.”

Ditlevsen’s memoir is divided into three sections: Childhood, Youth and Dependency and is largely personal. Themes of marriage, family relationships, alcoholism and suicide figure prominently. Although she mentions the socialist movement, the Depression, Hitler and the German occupation during World War II, these historical references serve only as a backdrop to her life story.

I was most shocked by the third section in which she lives recklessly, falls into addiction and in and out of marriages. Ditlevsen married and divorced four times and, during her marriage to Carl Theodor Ryberg, she became addicted to Demerol and other drugs (willingly supplied by her doctor husband) and was first admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Despite her personal ups and downs, Ditlevsen remains serious about writing, if nothing else. She writes, “And I realize more and more that the only thing I’m good for, the only thing that truly captivates me, is forming sentences and word combinations or writing simple, four-line poetry.”

I was completely drawn into the author’s story and touched by many of her descriptions. Special recognition should go to the book’s translators, Tiina Nunnally and Michael Favala Goldman, who manage to preserve the beauty of her writing.

I highly recommend The Copenhagen Trilogy to readers who enjoy memoirs and poetry. I found the cover to be a little jarring, but don’t let that turn you away.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Book Club Mom’s Indie Authors of 2021- here they are!

This year I highlighted twenty-two hard working indie authors, writers of fiction, nonfiction, memoir, poetry and children’s books. They have great stories to tell about their writing careers, so if you missed any, I hope you’ll visit them now.

Gail Aldwin – Contemporary Fiction

Bruce W. Bishop – Historical Fiction, Family Saga

Susan Blackmon – Historical Fiction

K. Blanton Brenner – Family Saga

Lorelei Brush – Upmarket Women’s Fiction and Historical Fiction

Sheila M. Cronin – Fiction

Jill Culiner – Nonfiction, Mystery, Romance and Romantic Suspense.

Kim Fairley – Nonfiction, Memoir

Tabitha Forney – Upmarket Fiction

Jacqueline Friedland – Women’s Fiction

Allan Hudson – Action/Adventure, Historical

Jane Elizabeth Hughes – Women’s Fiction

Miriam Hurdle – Poetry and Children’s Books

Kaitlyn Jain – Nonfiction, Travel, Memoir

Laurie James – Memoir

Leora Krygier – Memoir, Fiction

Tammy Pasterick – Historical Fiction

Angela Paolantonio – Memoir, Place-Based Travel Memoir, Women’s Studies

Margaret Rodenberg – Historical Fiction

Lauren Scott – Poetry, Memoir

Joe Wells – Murder Mystery

Faith Wilcox – Memoir


In January, I’ll be putting together a new set of interview questions and making a few other format changes. If you’d like to be highlighted, email bvitelli2009@gmail.com and I’ll send you the new questions as soon as they’re ready.

Happy holidays!

Who’s That Indie Author? Lauren Scott

Author Name: Lauren Scott

Genre: Poetry, Memoir

Books: New Day, New Dreams (2013), Finding a Balance (2015), and new release this year: More than Coffee: Memories in Verse and Prose

Bio: I live in California with my husband of 32 years, and we have two adult children. Through my experiences over three decades: raising a family, grieving through loss, finding joy in the smallest things, and the many backpacking and camping adventures, my writing takes a magical path of its own. I also love to read, and my bookcase is bursting at the seams!

What got you started as a writer? When I was a teenager, I wrote poetry about the boys I had crushes on. I continued to put thoughts to paper throughout my life, but I grew more passionate within the last decade. Now I write each day; it’s a natural part of my routine, either creating poems, drafting a short memoir, or dabbling in fiction.

What difficult experience has helped you as a writer? My love for writing turned into a passion when my daughter was diagnosed with a rare disease that would necessitate a future transplant for her survival. It isn’t fair for children to suffer, and as her mother, this news took processing that prompted me to write. My hurting poured out through words into poems and stories, some personal, some shared.

Have you ever participated in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)? If so, how many times and what was your experience? I haven’t participated in NaNoWriMo, but it sounds like a wonderful organization. Maybe someday.

What advice would you give a new indie author hoping to publish a book? Do your research, initiate dialogue with authors who have self-published. Persevere, because if publishing your book means that much to you, you’ll do the work to achieve your goal.

What has been the biggest challenge for you during Covid? What tugged at my heart was not being able to see my daughter and son-in-law who live in Tennessee. Regarding writing, inspiration flowed at lightning speed. The last year and a half have been a challenge, but I am grateful for the abundance of creativity.

What are you reading right now? Dead of Winter, Journey 5, by Teagan Riordain Geneviene. This book is part of a series of short novellas and Journey 9 is her latest release. It has been an exciting adventure diving into this fantasy tale.

Would you rather laugh or cry over a book? Laugh!

Have you ever climbed a tree to read a book? I can’t say that I have. I enjoy sitting in the comfort of my living room or on the patio in the company of nature.

Have you ever dropped a book in the tub, in a pool or in the ocean? From my childhood, I have memories of a favorite paperback slipping out of my hands into our aquamarine kidney-shaped pool.

Could you live in a tiny house? No, but my husband and I live in a modest 1200 square foot home, a cozy dwelling, where we raised our two children. Even though we are new empty nesters, our 75-lb lab, Copper, still happily trots around the house.

What are the small things that make you happy? Baking.Flowers in bloom.Chocolate. Music. Carrot cake. A walk around the neighborhood. Backpacking. Freshwater lakes. Ping pong. Watching rom-coms or compelling thrillers. Reading. Family and writing are the Big things in life.

Website and social media links:
baydreamerwrites.com
Lauren Scott Amazon Author page


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

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

Who’s That Indie Author? Leora Krygier

Author Name: Leora Krygier

Genre: Memoir, Fiction and Non-Fiction

Books: Do Not Disclose (8/24/21), Keep Her, When She Sleeps, Juvenile Court

Brief bio: Leora Krygier is a former Los Angeles Superior Court, Juvenile Division judge. She’s the author of When She Sleeps, praised by Newsweek, Booklist, Library Journal, and Kirkus. When She Sleeps was also a New York Public Library Selection for “Best Books for the Teen Age.” She’s also the author of Juvenile Court: A Judges Guide for Young Adults and their Parents and Keep Her, a young adult novel. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, David.

What got you started as a writer? I started writing little stories, poems and micro-autobiographies when I was in third grade. I loved going to my local public library and sitting on the floor in between the stacks. It was there that I started dreaming of seeing my name one day on a bookshelf. It felt like something magical and permanent to write a book, something that would outlast me.

What difficult experience has helped you as a writer? As writers, we absorb and observe everything around us – people, places, events, along with all our good and bad experiences. I started writing fiction so I could make up the stories I wanted to read. Much harder was to write a memoir, my current book, with real people and real events that happened to me and my family. Knowing the truth about my family, learning that my best friend from childhood was actually my sister, was a difficult but freeing experience and writing about it was hard but also cathartic.

Have you ever participated in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)? If so, how many times and what was your experience? I haven’t participated in this.

What advice would you give a new indie author hoping to publish a book? Publishing used to be a sort of “old boys club” where few writers were chosen by a small, select group of New York City publishers. We are luckier today with the advent of self, hybrid and boutique publishers. New voices can now be heard and this democratization of books is good for everyone. That said, because of the new (and large) influx of books on the market, it’s not easy to be found or heard, even once a book is published. You have to be prepared to work as hard or maybe even harder at marketing your book than writing it and you have to have realistic expectations. Also, it’s a good idea to contribute to the general conversation out there – pitch articles, personal essays or your own expertise. Every article you write, every IG or Facebook post you make is a piece of the publishing puzzle.

What has been the biggest challenge for you during Covid? Hardest for me, like many others, was not to be able to see and hug the people I loved. Also, not to be out and about to plan, look for and find new experiences. Yet, Covid was certainly a time for reflection and gratitude and an understanding of what is important. Time seemed to stand still and melt away quickly, both at the same time. Covid gave me more time to read, walk and think. I think we will all incorporate some of the lessons we learned about ourselves and the world post-Covid.

What are you reading right now? I’m actually rereading a classic – Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Every once in a while, I go back to the classics I read in high school, especially the ones with female protagonists and female writers. I’m blown away by the fact that despite the fact that Jane Eyre was written in the late 1800’s, the novel has not only stood the test of time but continues to be relevant, beloved and appreciated today.

Would you rather laugh or cry over a book? I think I’d rather have a good cry, even though I always hope there are some lighter moments in a book.

Have you ever climbed a tree to read a book? Not exactly “climbed,” but my parents had a large tree in front of their house that had a little half-wall around it where I would sit, play “imaginary kitchen” and read until dark.

Have you ever dropped a book in the tub, in a pool or in the ocean? Well, almost. Does spilling an entire large cup of coffee count? I’ve got a few older, but treasured books with coffee stains that I don’t have the heart to throw away. A few stuck-together pages don’t seem to bother me.

Could you live in a tiny house? Hmmm, a tiny house. I’ve lived in tiny apartments in Paris and Saint Tropez, so the thought of living in a tiny house is both challenging and intriguing. I do love the notion of paring down and living only with what is absolutely necessary. But my tiny house would have to be on a piece of land that included a creek, a forest or a mountain within sight.

What are the small things that make you happy? Reading, starting to think about and writing a new book, taking photographs, shopping, (especially after a year of Covid) traveling, hiking, and chocolate.

Website and social media links:
Website: leorakrygier.net
Instagram: @leorakrygierauthor
Facebook: @LeoraKrygierAuthor


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

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

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Who’s That Indie Author? Kim Fairley

Author Name: Kim Fairley

Genre: Nonfiction; memoir

Books: Shooting Out the Lights: A Memoir, She Writes Press, July 27, 2021; Photographs and Two Diaries of the 1901 Peary Relief Expedition, University of New Mexico Press, 2002    

Brief bio: As a writer, I focus on my quirky family, my experience as a competitive swimmer, and my age-gap marriage (my husband was 32 years older). I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, attended the University of Southern California on a swimming scholarship and eventually my interest in art led me to Michigan where I attended grad school, raised my kids, and have lived ever since.

What got you started as a writer? With a great grandfather who in 1901 was an early Arctic tourist, I’ve always been fascinated by polar exploration. At the University of Michigan, I created monumental collages about the Arctic, and discovered I enjoyed crafting family stories more than creating art about them. And that’s when I began to write.

What difficult experience has helped you as a writer? Starting when I was twelve, my parents left my four younger siblings and me to manage on our own for a week or two every month while they traveled on business. My siblings were ages four, six, eight, and ten. We kids prepared meals, cleaned the laundry, deposited checks, and answered sales calls. We learned early how to manage everything by ourselves, and if we wanted something, we needed to go after it. I developed self-reliance and resilience. I became a fighter. I also learned the importance of consistency.

Have you ever participated in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)? If so, how many times and what was your experience? Not yet.

What advice would you give a new indie author hoping to publish a book? My best advice for any new author is to write the stories that they find themselves repeating. When we wrestle with the words on the page, we discover truths about ourselves. These discoveries connect with readers.

What has been the biggest challenge for you during Covid? During Covid, I found myself craving human contact and sometimes feeling paralyzed by anxiety. The pandemic has been a reminder to pay attention to my body and my spirit.

What are you reading right now? I saved a book that my husband had read the year before his death. It was called Growing Young by Ashley Montagu. The book focuses on the evolution of human behavior which didn’t appeal to me in my twenties. Recently, I discovered he had marked some of the passages, so I began reading it. I see these marks now as clues into how he was thinking decades ago.

Would you rather laugh or cry over a book? I prefer books that make me cry like When Breath becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi or Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy. These books stay with me.

Have you ever climbed a tree to read a book? Never. I’ve hidden in a closet to read a book though.

Have you ever dropped a book in the tub, in a pool or in the ocean? No, but it’s a miracle because I spent half of my childhood in a swimming pool. From age twelve to twenty, I swam nine to eleven miles a day.

Could you live in a tiny house? If I had to, sure. After college I slept on a twin mattress on the floor of my apartment. The only other furniture were milk crates where I stored my books.

What are the small things that make you happy? I love waking to the sound of songbirds at my window, the smell of strong coffee, and the company of my sweet foxhound, Harley.

Website and social media links:
Website: kimfairley.com
Facebook: @kimfairley11
Twitter: @kimfairley1
Instagram: kimfairleywrites


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

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

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Who’s That Indie Author? Laurie James

Photo by Bradford Rogne Photography

Author Name: Laurie James

Genre: Memoir

Book: Sandwiched: A Memoir of Holding On and Letting Go

Brief bio: I am a mother, caregiver, divorcée, turned author and transformative coach. I have successfully launched four daughters into adulthood and have been the primary caretaker for my elderly parents for thirteen years. I have learned through therapy and other healing programs that I have everything I need within me to create the life I desire, and I want to share that knowledge with other women through writing and my coaching practice. I live in Manhattan Beach with my adopted husky, Lu. When I’m not walking my dog, volunteering, promoting my book or coaching, I can be found skiing, sailing, hiking, doing yoga, spending time with my girlfriends or planning my next adventure.

What got you started as a writer? It all started when my mother had a heart attack and fell ill. The tables quickly turned from her helping me with my teen and pre-teen daughters to my needing to oversee her care, the care of my dad, and hiring caregivers for both of them. Over the next several years, I’d laugh and cry with my friends and then husband about the antics my caregivers were pulling. They encouraged me to start writing down these stories, because I couldn’t have made these things up if I’d tried. I called them The Caregiver Chronicles. After writing for several years, I realized my story was bigger. Not only was I caring for my parents and managing unruly caregivers, I was also raising four teenage daughters, and my marriage was crumbling. That’s when I changed the title to Sandwiched for the sandwich generation.

What difficult experience has helped you as a writer? When I was going through the difficult challenges above, I took that opportunity to ask myself, “What’s my part in this and what am I suppose to learn from these experiences?” Writing with reflection about my difficulties has given me a deeper insight to who I am and how I can learn and grow when challenges arise. Hopefully my readers will also see a part of them in my character and learn to grow along with me.

Have you ever participated in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)? If so, how many times and what was your experience? I haven’t participated in NaNoWriMo, but know other people who have. I have heard it’s a very productive experience. I will consider doing it if another book surfaces within me.

What advice would you give a new indie author hoping to publish a book? If writing a book has been a dream of yours or it keeps nudging you, just start. We all have to begin somewhere.

What has been the biggest challenge for you during Covid?  My biggest challenge during Covid was when my daughters left to go back to school in the fall. Even though their classes were virtual, they had previously committed to housing. I was sad and worried about being alone during the upcoming winter, but they came home at Thanksgiving and Christmas and we all made it through.

What are you reading right now? I’m reading the The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett and loving it.

Would you rather laugh or cry over a book? The best is when I can do both. I love putting a book down and feeling all the emotions it has stirred within me.

Have you ever climbed a tree to read a book? No, I haven’t climbed a tree to read a book, but as a child, I loved to climb the tree in my front yard.

Have you ever dropped a book in the tub, in a pool or in the ocean? I’ve dropped a book in my bathtub while in it, then dried it off and kept reading it.

Could you live in a tiny house? No, I have 4 adult children and they have significant others, so I need more space for when they visit.

What are the small things that make you happy? The small things that make me happy are laughter, my four daughters, friends, nature and love.

Website and social media links:

Website: laurieejames.com
Facebook: @Lauriejamesauthor
Instagram: laurie.james


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

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

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Book Club Mom’s Author Update: News from Pamela S. Wight

Author name: Pamela S. Wight

Book to feature: Flashes of Life: True Tales of the Extraordinary Ordinary

News to share: Flashes of Life is a fun “flash memoir” that includes light-hearted short stories about the (ordinary) wonderful aspects of life: kids, parents, grandparents, dogs, even plants. Watercolor-washed black and white photos begin each section on subjects such as “Fun Family Drama,” “Relationships,” For the Dogs,” and “Time Off.”

Wonderful 5-star reviews include comments like these from blogger/author Jill Weatherholt:

“Being a long-time follower of author Pamela Wight’s blog, I was so excited to get my hands on her latest release. This wonderful collection of true short stories is one you never want to end. For several weeks after it was delivered, I leisurely devoured each story outdoors on our patio. The wonderful thing about it, I felt like my friend, Pam was sitting with me sharing her stories as we watch the hummingbirds snatch sips of nectar from the Salvia. I loved so many of these stories, but one that really touched my heart was ‘A Renewal. I highly recommend this emotional collection.”

The 140-page softback, designed beautifully, is a perfect gift for a special woman in your life: mom, sister, daughter, friend, and especially, to yourself.

Pamela writes for children and adults as a multi-genre author. Her romantic suspense novels The Right Wrong Man and Twin Desires are available as softback and e-book on Amazon. Her two hard-cover illustrated children’s books – Birds of Paradise and Molly Finds Her Purr – are sold at Borgo Publishing and on Amazon. Flashes of Life is available on Amazon and through Borgo Publishing as softback and e-book.

Website and social media links: Pamela writes a weekly popular blog called Roughwighting. She can be found on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.


Are you working on a new book? Have you won an award or a writing contest? Did you just update your website? Maybe you just want to tell readers about an experience you’ve had. Book Club Mom’s Author Update is a great way to share news and information about you and your books.

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Open to all authors – self-published, indie, big-time and anything in between. Author submissions are limited to one per author in a six-month period.

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Book Review: The Home Place – Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature by J. Drew Lanham

The Home Place
Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature

by
J. Drew Lanham

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The best way to describe this book is to begin with the author. J. Drew Lanham is a birder, naturalist, and hunter-conservationist. He’s also an Alumni Distinguished Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Master Teacher at Clemson University. Lanham’s essays and poetry have appeared in numerous publications and anthologies. The Home Place is his memoir is about growing up in rural South Carolina and how he fell in love with nature, especially birding. Helen Macdonald, author of H Is for Hawk, says it best when she describes the book as “A groundbreaking work about race and the American landscape.”

Lanham talks about growing up with his three siblings in Edgefield during the 1970s. In addition to teaching high school, his parents ran a produce farm to make ends meet. Lanham and his brother and sisters were all expected to help on the farm and it was during these times that Lanham grew to love nature and the outdoors. “All that and the land were mine back then. I was the richest boy in the word, a prince living right there in backwoods Edgefield,” he writes.

Family relationships shaped Lanham in complex ways, from a commanding father who insisted on obedience and respect, to his widowed grandmother, Mamatha, who lived in a ramshackle house on their property and where Lanham spent many of his days and nights. Mamatha practiced both traditional black Baptist Christianity and her own form of spiritualism and herbalism. Lanham also talks about his brother and sisters. In a chapter titled, “A Field Guide to the Four,” he describes his siblings and how they each represent different birds: raven, falcon, swallow and hermit thrush.

Of equal importance are his experiences of being black in the deep south and how subtle and not-so-subtle prejudices have affected him. He talks about being a black birder, a rarity, and about feeling threatened out in the field, while observing birds in their habitats. He writes, “But my choice of career and my passion for wildness means that I will forever be the odd bird, the raven in the horde of white doves, the blackbird in a flock of snow buntings.” The impact of his prose lies in its gentle assertions, which are not argumentative, but deliver a powerful message about race in America.

Lanham writes beautifully about nature and about humans being just one part of a greater world. I like that idea and relate to both the words and the sights he describes. I attended a webinar this week where Lanham was a guest speaker and I enjoyed hearing him talk about his love of birding and nature. I highly recommend this book to those who like memoirs about nature and as a field guide to treating others without prejudice.

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