July Sales Event

During July, the e-book of Syncopation is 99 cents at Smashwords and Amazon.

This sale is a part of Smashwords’ July sales celebration.

Smashwords is where I first published Syncopation as an e-book. I love Smashwords! They make self-publishing easy and affordable and work with international book sellers such as Apple books, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, etc. When you buy from one of those retailers, you are purchasing my Smashwords edition. (All sites feature the $0.99 discount in July.)

Syncopation is also available at amazon, and per contract the price has been dropped to $0.99, so that I’m not selling cheaper anywhere else.

I hope you’ll pick up a copy of Syncopation and let me know what you think.

Happy July!

Cover Reveal / Book Available

Thanks to Jenny Q of Historical Fiction Book Covers for this lovely cover:

Book Cover for Wilde Wagers

Wilde Wagers is now available in print or as an ebook at your favorite book seller. You can ask local bookstores and libraries to order copies if it isn’t on the shelf. A list of popular online shops is on this page.

Here’s the story:

Wagering is all the rage in late Victorian England. Oscar Wilde bets that actress Olivia Snow can fool a group of country bumpkins into believing she is Genevieve Lamb, the wealthy beauty of the recent Season. The weekend will prove a challenge for the old-fashioned actress and Genevieve’s handsome and old-fashioned brother, Philip, because the manor is filled with all sorts of ridiculous and eccentric characters, as well as one slightly murderous criminal. While Olivia pretends to be Genevieve, Genevieve wagers on her own performance–as Olivia Snow. She and Oscar Wilde go out on the town, a decision that will have both wishing they’d stayed at home and played cribbage. These two charades take unexpected turns during a wild weekend of kidnapping, cucumber sandwiches, bee stings, and love. This Oscar Wilde-esque romance-mystery-comedy will keep you guessing–and craving teacake.

Best Books of 2020

During the strange and tragic year that was 2020, I was lucky to stumble across many excellent books. Here are a few, in the order that I read them. I’ve included codes for intended audience: MG=books for children; YA=books for teenagers; A=books for grown-ups.

Where possible, the links send you to the authors’ pages, so you can buy their books as they recommend.

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier (A)

I read this at the beginning of the year and barely remember it, but the feeling remains: a sparkly, romantic adventure in a druidic, magical world. Best click the link above to read what it is about.

Sweeping Up the Heart by Kevin Henkes (MG / YA)

Stuck at home while all her friends leave for spring break, 12-year-old Amelia makes friends with Casey–the first time she’s ever had a boy friend (boyfriend?). They are both artists and have some adventures. The story is real-life pain and joy, told in lovely prose.

Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk (MG / YA)

I was super-lucky to get a copy of this to review for the Historical Novels Society. Lauren Wolk is one of my favorite new authors. Echo Mountain is an incredibly emotional and engaging story, with complicated, real characters and a plot that is difficult to summarize. Read my review or visit the author’s page (links above.)

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (A)

A Japanese teenager decides to kill herself–right after she documents the life of her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun. An American novelist living off the coast of Washington state finds some debris washed up on the coast and believes it might have been swept to her by the 2011 tsunami that killed nearly 20,000 people. A journal that she finds and reads might have been written by the Japanese teenager…. This story moves between stories and time and space and dream in a marvelous, magical way.

The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali (A)

In 1950s Tehran, a young man and woman meet in a stationery shop and fall in love. On the eve of their wedding, they are separated and will not meet again for sixty years. The story moves between past and present, slowly uncovering what happened that night and why, visiting their memories, their loves, and the lives they lived apart. It is a beautiful love story, and I enjoyed learning about Iranian history and culture.

Strangers and Pilgrims / The Hedgeway / Mechant Loup all by Vivienne Tuffnell (A)

Strangers and Pilgrims is about a small group of people who are feeling lost and meet in a retreat where things don’t go as they thought they would. The Hedgeway is about a couple who inherit an old house that is haunted, sort of. Mechant Loup is a collection of “modern fables for sensible grown-ups.” I’m incredibly fortunate to have discovered Tuffnell in 2020. Her prose or … story telling style or … something makes me feel more solid, more comfortable, more like everything will be OK. It’s hard to explain and so far I’ve been unsuccessful in figuring out how she does it. Read her and see what you think.

At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier (A)

This story haunted me– I couldn’t get it out of my head. An alcoholic woman and a quiet, apple-obsessed man raise apples and children in a swamp in Ohio in the 1830s. Their story is depressing, violent and enthralling. The book follows two of their children who manage to get away. Chevalier is another of my favorite authors.

Her Last Flight by Beatriz Williams (A)

I got lucky again and was sent this book to review for the Historical Novels Society. Williams took the Amelia Earhart story, mixed it up with a bunch of fiction, and produced the story of aviatrix Irene Foster who disappears while flying around the world. A young journalist searches for the truth about Foster and Foster’s mentor, pilot Sam Mallory. Great characters and an exciting story.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (A)

Harold Fry sets off one morning to mail a letter at the post box on the corner and just keeps walking. He recently learned that a friend he knew decades ago is dying. If he walks to her, perhaps she’ll live until he gets there. The story of Harold is uncovered as he makes his way across England. This is not a fast-paced thriller but the solid, character-driven story of a man trying to understand himself and make peace with life. Wow, that summary is awful, but I’m getting tired of writing this blog post. Trust me, it’s a spectacular book.

Show Me a Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte (MG / YA)

Mary Lambert lives on Martha’s Vineyard in the early 1800s. She is deaf, and so are many of the other residents; everyone uses sign language, and Mary doesn’t see deafness as “different.” But an ambitious young scientist does, and when he arrives in their community, trying to understand why so many of the residents are deaf, the story takes a turn I never saw coming. A nail-biting story with a great heroine and fascinating historical detail. Probably in the running for the 2021 Newbery Award.

Women Talking by Miriam Toews (A)

In a small, South American, Mennonite community, a series of horrible crimes were committed. Afterward, eight women of the community gather in secret to decide what to do. If I tell you what happened, it will misrepresent the story. As the title indicates, this is the story of women talking. Women of faith in danger of losing their faith. Illiterate women with no knowledge of the world. They are funny, philosophical, ignorant, in pain and lost, angry and hurt, kind and loving. It is a staggering fictional conversation, based on a real-life event.

Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (MG / YA)

This is my vote for the 2021 Newbery Award. (Note: I have no vote.) The narrator of this story is Della, a tough, ten-year-old girl entering foster care with her older sister. She unveils their story little by little, carefully, warning us that “some parts are hard, so I’ll leave them for later.” The hard parts are sexual abuse and suicide. Many will flinch at a book for ten-year-olds about this topic. But, there are ten-year-olds who experience sexual abuse and need this book. The story is handled appropriately: not vague and not graphic. Della is the most magnificent of characters. Fighting Words is true to life: sometimes funny, sometimes tragic, always engaging. I’m getting goosebumps just remembering everything. I hope it wins.

Well, that’s my list. I hope you give a few of these books a try and let me know what you think.

Some Small Ways to Keep the Economy Going Without Endangering Lives

1. Subscribe to a news source. If you scan your social media feed and get frustrated at the articles you can’t read without a subscription… or happy at the ones that are “free,” consider subscribing. They keep asking you to. Now is perhaps the time to spend that $1 or $25 a year the pop-up windows are begging you to give.

2. Buy an e-book. Or 2 or 3. Amazon will probably weather the economic slowdown fine, so consider buying from a local bookstore or smaller online retailer like Barnes and Noble or Smashwords or Author House. Keep the small guys in business and have more of your purchase price go to the authors themselves. Shameless promotion: Here are ways to buy my books: Syncopation and The Stolen Goldin Violin.

3. Pay for some music. I’m not a person who listens to a lot of music, but if you do, you probably know how to get it online. Order a song; subscribe to a service. Again, investigate ways for the musicians to get the bulk of your money.

4. As much as I “hate” the cable companies, I’m finding their product one of the most important things in my life right now. Maybe up your subscription? Stream more movies?

5. What else can you buy online that doesn’t involve endangering people? I worry for the people packing up boxes in close proximity to each other, and the drivers getting close together to load and unload trucks, and the cooks side-by-side in a kitchen, and the grocery store employees. I want people to work, but I fear for the health of those who keep working.

I’m a writer, not an economist, and just trying to be helpful. These are a few of my ideas. Do you have some? The comments are open. Please respond with more ideas, but let’s be nice, OK?

Exciting News: Twice

!ADiscoveredDiamond[1][1]News #1: A month or two ago I mentioned that Syncopation: A Memoir of Adele Hugo was named a “diamond” and that a review on the Discovering Diamonds website would be forthcoming. The review is up, and it is lovely.

Syncopation_EcoverNews #2: Syncopation: A Memoir of Adele Hugo is now available as an e-book on amazonUS and amazonUK.

If you have already read Syncopation, consider writing a review of it on amazon: all reviews are welcome, whether you loved it or hated it. After all, no book is for everyone, and shoppers should know if it is a good match for them or not.

 

 

Read an E-book Week

read-ebook-week

#Smashwords #ebookweek17

Is it midnight yet? Tonight, at midnight, it’s time to book shop like a crazy person!

Sunday, March 5 through Saturday, March 11 e-books are on sale at Smashwords. It’s a great time to finally get your copy of Syncopation: a Memoir of Adele Hugo. (75% off the regular price.) Visit my Smashwords Author page to download your copy.  Look for the coupon code and use it when you check out to receive the discount.

If you’ve already read my book, or historical fiction isn’t your cup of tea, there are oodles of other  e-books on sale. Visit the Smashwords Promotion Catalog.

This Read-an-Ebook event was first started 12 years ago by author Rita Toews, as she explains in this interview.

Happy E-Reading!

Best Books of 2016

best-books-2016

Anyone reading this blog probably agrees that 2016 was a totally sucky year. Thank goodness I found so many wonderful books. The best year of reading possibly ever! It has been difficult to choose this list. I’ve included books from a number of genres, for a variety of audiences, and I’ve left off some very good books to keep the list from getting too long. (Code in descriptions: MG= middle grade books, for children ages 9-12 or thereabouts; YA=young adult books, for teenagers.) The order is the order I read them this year.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (YA)

A planet is attacked and a few of its inhabitants manage to flee before the planet is mostly destroyed. Two ships make their way across space, but something mysterious happens on one of the ships. Have the passengers been hit by a deadly virus, or is the ship’s computer taking over? The protagonists are a teen girl and a teen boy on different ships, and the story is presented as a file of information: emails, notes, audio recordings, etc. A fast-paced, sci-fi thriller with sequels coming.

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee (MG)

A modern day version of Andersen’s fairy tale The Snow Queen, this story within a story will keep you guessing. The Marvelous Boy has been kept a prisoner for centuries. Only Ophelia can rescue him, but her dedication to science makes her skeptical of magic and the quest she is destined to complete. Great fun.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Widower A.J. Firky is a grumpy young-old man who owns a bookstore. When suicidal mother leaves her baby in his store before killing herself, A.J.’s life is turned upside down. Firky adopts the child, opening his life to love and much more. This is a funny, smart story with lots of literary references. Loved it!

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby (YA)

When the beautiful Rosa disappears, nobody in Bone Gap is surprised because people often disappear from their rural community. Finn knows Ruby was kidnapped, but nobody believes him, not even his brother Sean who was in love with Ruby. This magical, folk-lore tale is exciting, scary, poignant and wonderful.

The Game of Thrones, whole series (well as much as has been published….) by George R. R. Martin

This past summer, I joined the world-wide, Game of Thrones-obsessed fan club. If I look back on my year of reading, this is the gravitational pull. My life after reading these books is different. I think about the characters and the events constantly. If you’ve watched and loved the television series, you should read the books. The first season and the first book are almost identical, but by season three, the stories have diverged. The books are better. By far. Like everyone else, I’m waiting for that next book.

Chalice by Robin McKinley (YA)

In this subtle and beautiful world, human communities are linked to the land, and both are kept whole and happy by a Master and a Chalice. One community is almost destroyed when its selfish Master and weak Chalice fail to perform their duties. The new Chalice must learn her job quickly, with little training, and is aided by a new Master who is barely human. The prose and plot are as beautiful and breath-taking as the world. Lovely, lovely story.

Playing the Part by Jen Turano

This light romantic comedy novel made me laugh when I needed to laugh. I wrote a review at the Historical Novels Review.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

The entwined stories of an orphan German boy and a blind French girl trying to survive during World War II. Beautiful. Brilliant. Smart. What I like most about this book is how it is more than one thing. If you take the story at face value, it is a good story. Suspenseful. Engaging. Characters you care about. But if you study the story, you see that everything is more than what you first see. I read this twice last year and may read it again. Highly recommended.

Break the Spell by A.M. Bostwick (YA)

Allison has a terrible secret about her health that she hasn’t shared with anyone. Ethan is on the run from the police. The weekend after the last day of school, Ethan holds Allison hostage to keep her quiet about his whereabouts and both get more than they planned for. This is a delightful teen romance that handles real problems with grace. Read it!

Mathilda Savitch by Victor Lodato

I had no idea what to expect when I started this book, which was left in my little free library. The voice and character of Mathilda are well written. She is a twelve-ish year old, grieving girl, dealing with the death of her sister and the disintegration of the family she once had. She is, in turns, nasty, sweet, cynical, innocent, comical and tragic. At first I wasn’t sure I liked her, but she grew on me. The way the author handles the idea of “story” is remarkable. This may not be a book for everyone. I think writers will enjoy it, as well as readers who like smart books that make you think. I loved it

Sprig Muslin by Georgette Heyer

I read all of Georgette Heyer’s Regency romance novels a few years ago in a whirlwind of giddiness. This was my favorite, but I couldn’t remember its name! I came upon it again this year. I love Heyer’s clever plot tangles and funny characters. This is one of the best. Light and enjoyable.

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo (MG)

This is the story of three girls who become friends while taking baton twirling lessons one summer. Each has a difficult family life. The book was medium-good until the end, when all elements of the story converged in such a surprising and satisfying way, that it became one of my favorite books of the year. Another great book by DiCamillo.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (YA)

Cath is starting her freshman year of college, but her twin sister Wren wants them to strike out on their own. Cath is afraid of her roommate, the dorm cafeteria, and for her father, who isn’t coping well with being without his girls. Cath’s place of refuge is her fan fiction world, where she is a highly-acclaimed writer. I read this at exactly the right time: when I, too, wanted to hide from the world. Rowell’s story was a great place to hide. Cath’s character is wonderfully drawn. The story is well paced, with romance, family drama, fun fanfic, and more. I wonder, is anyone writing fangirl fanfiction? Something to look into….

Pax by Sara Pennypacker (MG)

This is the story of a fox and his boy. It is a story of war and forgiveness. It is about survival in the wilderness and about self-sacrifice. It is about creating art. It is so beautiful, on so many levels. It is has a great shot at this year’s Newbery Award.

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown (MG)

This book hit all the right “cute” buttons in me. A solar-powered robot, programmed to take care of itself and learn from its environment, gets washed up on an island inhabited only by animals. The way the robot makes friends and improves the lives of those he meets is a well-hidden message for everyone. The illustrations are precious.

The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz (MG)

What I love most about this book is that it is like The Canterbury Tales for children. A group gathers in an inn in the middle ages to wait for the king who they believe will soon pass by. The king is about to arrest and condemn to death three children and a dog. The visitors to the inn take turns narrating the story, telling what they know about each child, the “holy dog” and the miracles they have performed. Gidwitz understands his middle-grade audience. The story is exciting, funny, and brings to life, for children, the middle ages.

Syncopation: a Memoir of Adele Hugo by Elizabeth Caulfield Felt

Is it tacky to put my own book here? I love it like a mother loves her child. If you haven’t read it yet, I’ll hope you consider doing so. Information about buying Syncopation (print and e-book) is over here.

Welcome to 2017. I wish you a happy year of reading and #resistance. As tempting as it is, we can’t hide in books all the time.

 

Syncopation E-book for 99 cents

Syncopation_EcoverFor the rest of the year, you can buy Syncopation: A Memoir of Adele Hugo as an e-book for just 99 cents.

Syncopation is available from SmashwordsBarnes and Noble , Kobo, and iBook (get the iBook app, then search Syncopation: a Memoir of Adele Hugo).

The price change was immediate on Smashwords, but may take a few hours to go through at other retailers.

Happy Holidays!

 

Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale

For the month of July, Smashwords is offering huge discounts on many ebooks. Syncopation is available at half price: Syncopation at Smashwords. Be sure to notice the coupon code and enter it at check out to receive the discount.

Browse the Smashwords catalog for more summer/winter deals.

Smashwords ebooks are available worldwide, so the season of your savings depends on your hemisphere.

Happy reading!

Syncopation E-Release Day

Today is the release day for the electronic version of Syncopation: A Memoir of Adèle Hugo.

Syncopation_Ecover

Syncopation is the fictional autobiography of Victor Hugo’s scandalous daughter.

In Nineteenth Century France, a woman’s role was explicitly defined: She was a daughter, then a wife, then a mother. This view was held by novelist and poet Victor Hugo, but not by his daughter, pianist and poet Adèle Hugo. An elderly Adèle recounts her desperate attempts to gain personal freedom. Her memoir blurs the fine line between truth and madness, in a narrative that is off-kilter, skewed, syncopated.

“For humans there is only memory, and memory is unreliable.”

Syncopation is available for $4.99 at Smashwords and other e-book retailers: Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iBook (via your iProduct’s Apple store), Overdrive (ask your library to order it), and more. (It is not currently available at amazon–I will update this blog if that happens).

Syncopation was originally published by Cornerstone Press and is available in paperback from a number of central Wisconsin bookstores or through online ordering.