Posts Tagged ‘books’

Please help me welcome Joanne Huspek, author of two published novels, and a personal friend. I hope you enjoy this post and that you share it with your friends, followers, fellow tweeters, etc.


Joanne Huspek

Joanne Huspek

Joanne Huspek is an author who lives in the frozen tundra called Michigan, where she helps her husband run a business while attempting to keep warm.

During the summer months, she can be seen puttering around the garden, trying to save her tender veggies from marauding squirrels.

Joanne self-published Virtually Yours as an eBook in 2012 and Finding Cadence as both eBook and physical copy in 2014.

Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself. What do you do for fun?
There’s not much time for fun around my house! Besides writing, which I do for fun and escape, I like making wire wrap jewelry. I’m especially interested in using fiber and basket weaving techniques in my designs, which is difficult because wire can get very brittle. I like rocks and stones, too. Otherwise, my other “fun” is inventive cooking, eating well, and enjoying fine wine.

Q: What do you like most about the genre you write in?
I do not stick to one “formula” genre. I write about women and their problems. I’ve written serious literary (Finding Cadence) as well as romance mixed with mystery (Virtually Yours) and have tried my hand at YA a couple of times. I love writing from a woman’s point of view. I lovingly call my work “mom-lit” – chick lit for those of us who used to be chicks. Just because you’re older doesn’t mean you can’t have fun.

Q: Where is your favorite place to write?
I have a favorite comfy chair in my bedroom, and if that seat is taken by my cat, there’s another downstairs in the family room. I find it intimidating to write in public spaces like in cafes or libraries. To write fiction, I need absolute silence and a minimum of distractions – hard to do in my life, but I manage to carve out some quiet time.

Q: What’s your next project?
I’m editing the sequel to Virtually Yours, called Virtually Yours Forever. I hope to release it by the end of this year, fingers crossed. I’m working with a developmental editor and he wants to weave in a parallel story line having to do with the Internet (again!), so this is no small undertaking. After that, I need to edit a YA I completed years ago, and finish the accompanying romance (same story, told in the mother’s point of view).

The Books:
Finding Cadence
The Reeds (Cadence and Carter) seem to have it all: an enduring marriage, wealth and social standing, a thriving business, and talented pianist son attending a West Coast conservatory. But an accident on an icy Michigan highway leaves Cadence Reed an unexpected widow. After the funeral, Cadie learns her loss is not limited to Carter’s passing. Layer after layer of secrets are revealed, exposing Carter as a philandering sociopath who has left his family in a precarious financial state. Her heart broken, her world in shambles, Cadie and her son embark on a journey, across the country and into Cadie’s past. Cadence must look deep inside herself to find the will and a means to survive.

FINDING CADENCE explores deception and depression, the intricate and tentative bond of relationships, and one woman’s determination to overcome pride and adversity to find the strength to carry on.

Finding Cadence

Finding Cadence

E-book contains questions for discussion.

VIRTUALLY YOURS is the offbeat and humorous journey of the on-and-offline relationships of six women who met and maintained a lasting friendship on the Internet. The Virtual Moms embrace a newbie – with a secret – and the dynamic is changed, adding an unexpected twist to the lives of the friends.

Virtually Yours
Thanks to the prodding of sassy Manhattanite Janna Abraham, the Virtual Moms allow North Carolina stay-at-home parent and romance novelist Asheley MacDaniel, entree into their club. A recent Iraq War widow and alone with an adorable young son, Ashe proves a sympathetic figure. Although some of the members initially balk, Ashe fits in easily — perhaps too easily — sharing valuable insights on the personal dramas of Missy and Laurel, while gaining strong rapport with Ally and Skye.

Skeptical Celia is not as easily swayed as her friends. Who is this Asheley MacDaniel, and why are the VMs in virtual love with this newbie? Why is Ashe so secretive, and why won’t she email photos of herself and her five-year-old? And who was the stranger who answered the phone when Celia called?

Ashe has a secret, all right, one that the girls do not learn until after the friendships strengthen. Just as Ashe lands a book deal, Celia has enlisted the services of a private investigator and the truth now lies in an envelope in her hands. But before the truth can be told, Ashe decides to make the long drive from North Carolina to New York City to bear all to Janna in person, even as the revelation could cost dearly.
E-Book Includes Questions for Discussion

Coming soon! Stay tuned…Virtually Yours Forever,
It’s a Virtual Moms wedding!

After four years of cyber and long-distance dating, Janna and Ashe are finally taking the Big Step – making their relationship legal. They’ve invited the women in their private online group, the Virtual Moms, to the grand festivities in New York. However, Real Life mama drama threatens to upset the proceedings.

Matronly Ally believes her husband is going off the rails – with the friendly, sex kitten neighbor next door. Can she leave with danger a driveway away? Frazzled Laurel is still single-handedly supporting her family and wondering how to fund her son’s college education, when she is offered an off-beat position she’s not sure she can accept. Ex-beauty queen Missy finds herself stretched thin between two needy teenagers, an established career and a glamorous ‘dream’ job – complete with fast-talking hunk. Super-confident, ultra-organized Celia has taken the reins as matron of honor for Janna, completely ignoring the potential groom who is knocking at her own door. Lost in the preparations, Skye is curiously silent and withdrawn.

Janna quickly heads down the path toward Bridezilla status as she obsesses over the vision of a perfect ceremony. There’s also that slinky designer gown she chose. She’ll need to lose five pounds in order to be wedged into it. Ashe spends most of his time in Bonnie Doone on the pretext of getting the old home ready for sale; instead of packing, he recalls bittersweet memories about his beautiful first wife who died in Iraq.

Added to the chaos is the sudden appearance of Master Perturbation, the new bitchy blog sensation that’s taking the Internet by storm. The posts mirror the lives of the real life Virtual Moms. Could one of the VMs have penned the hurtful blog?

As the clock ticks closer to the nuptials, the group threatens to fall apart. With a record-breaking Nor’easter dumping two and a half feet of snow up and down the Eastern Seaboard, and with Janna and Ashe fussing, will they – and the rest of the VMs – make it to the ceremony?

Where to find Joanne Huspek
Joanne Huspek’s blog

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Friday 56

dreaming in cuban

“It’s hot as hell when I finally get off that bus. The sun is burning my scalp, so I duck into a luncheonette. Everything looks antiquated, like the five-and-dime counters in New York. They’re the best place to get a BLT , so that’s what I order here, with an orange soda.”

From page 57 (there’s no 56) in Dreaming In Cuban by Cristina Garcia.

This meme is from Freda’s Voice. Grab a book and give it a go!
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
(If you have to improvise, that’s ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.
*It’s that simple.

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Snow Angels

I know this is a sore subject for all those in snowed under/in conditions but I came across a passage in a book I am reading that I had to share.

The book is Unforgettable:Short Stories by Paulette Alden. In the one story, Miriam’s (the main character) father dies. She thinks she has processed it only to find herself in tears every few weeks when it hits her that he is gone. Then one day in the coldest of winter (it takes place in Minnesota) she is swimming at an indoor pool. Here’s the passage that called out to me:

“And now she’s aware of a presence. She understands that she is being watched over, guarded. Or maybe it’s only the snow. It has the feel of snow–beautiful, silvery, silent, filling the air. This is what angels are like, she thinks. And this is what snow is like. How it falls and falls, how it blesses us.

You’re gone. I’ll never see you again.

But this time she doesn’t cry.”

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If We Were Having Coffee is a weekly blog share and link up hosted by Part-Time Monster. You can join in the fun too!

If we were having coffee, I would have to excuse myself for my disheveled look and manner today. I would explain that the raspberry mocha I had at 8 last night was probably not decaf although I ordered it decaf. Darn Starbucks! So I didn’t fall asleep until after six this morning. It’s almost 2 now so I’m tryingt to wake up. Yawn.

I would tell you that since I couldn’t sleep, I decided to watch an episode or two of the new Bosch series based on Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch novels. It’s from Amazon Studios and yesterday was the release day. I watched the pilot last year and was kind of iffy on whether I liked it or not so I figured I would watch the new episode. Well, there are ten 42 minute episodes that were released yesterday. I ended up watching all of them last night. I didn’t start until about 11 so by the time the credits rolled on the last one, I was barely starting to yawn.

I’d ask if you have read any of the Harry Bosch novels. If you have, we would probably start talking about Harry. If you haven’t, I would be tempted to tell you about Harry and how disappointed I was with the most recent novel, The Burning Room. Seventeen novels into the series, it looks like Connelly is ending the series. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that we may have just seen the last of the Bosch novels in The Burning Room. Connelly, in interviews, has explained that he fears that the series is coming to an end because Harry is being forced to retire from the LAPD because of his age and Connelly can’t figure out how to end the series. He’s toyed with having Harry die. I’m surprised that Connelly can’t come up with a way to have Harry go on. I can and I didn’t create that marvelous character. Harry can teach at the Academy and influence a new generation. Of course, he would probably get called in to consult on cases, too. Or, his daughter, Maddie, who wants to go into police work and is about to graduate high school in the latest novel, can indeed go into police work and Harry can impart his wisdom there. And maybe his daughter can slowly become the central character of the novels.

Oh well, I guess you can tell I’m a huge fan. I would tell you about another blog post I wrote a while back about Harry and the music that pulls readers into the novels. It’s a good post and talks about how Harry doesn’t leave his readers, even after the last page has been read. He stays with you and makes you think. At least until The Burning Room. That was totally not a Harry Bosch novel. It was flat and there was nothing but the action. There were no insights into what Harry was thinking. That tells me Connelly has moved on to another character, either one he is creating or maybe an existing one, like Micky Haller, the Lincoln Lawyer, who is Harry Bosch’s half brother.

I would tell you that I’ve had a tough time fighting the blues this week but I think I’m coming out of it. At least I’m trying to. A look at our weather forecast is encouraging, too. It looks like, after today, no rain for almost a week and at least partly sunny days. I can live with that. I sure hope Mr. Weather Guy is right. I need some sun.

How was your week? Do you have any novel series you follow? I could talk about Harry Bosch forever and tell you how Connelly has made the city of Los Angeles a character in the novels. It’s very interesting how he has transformed that city from a setting to a living, breathing, thriving and sometimes conniving character. Okay, I’ll stop with the Bosch stuff!

February 20th is coming up on us. That’s the day for all the participating bloggers in 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion (#1000Speak) to post their writing about compassion. I know what I’m going to write. I need to speak to my sister to make sure I can say certain things (my post is about my nephew). And I should probably write it tonight or tomorrow. Our father is in hospice and has been for a couple of weeks and we know it will be just days now. I can’t go down there right now (southern California) and I am trying to figure out a way to go. So things may happen between now and the 20th. So I guess I should write that post sooner than later.

Are YOU participating in #1000Speak? What have you got going this week? Is the weather changing in your area? What’s on your mind? Feel welcome to stay a while longer but I warn you that I may go on and on about Harry Bosch. I also have to get ready soon because I have to watch my grandsons in a while. I’m not sure if they are coming here or I am going there but I should get dressed and put some stuff away in case they come here (you know, like scissors and my eraser carving tools and all the stickers I took out for Valentine making). OH! Yeah. I forgot! Happy Valentine’s Day to you! Are you doing anything special today? Do you have any Valentine memories you want to share?

It’s your turn. I’ll listen!

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The Friday 56


“She thanked every saint she knew for her sons’ safe return from war. She read the letter over and over and cried on it. When my father got home he had to pry the letter from her hand. By then it was falling apart with her tears and the magic letters were stained and faded.”

This is a meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. If you want to join, read the rules below and don’t forget to add your post’s url to the Linky at Freda’s Voice.
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
(If you have to improvise, that’s ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.
*It’s that simple.

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Is there a book that you read as a child that has stayed with you over the years; one that you have recommended to othrs and/or given as a gift to a child?

I can think of a few but one that I had forgotten about until I saw it on my bookshelf last night is a very special one. It’s called The Hundred Dresses and it was written by Eleanor Estes in 1944. I read it in fourth grade when I was about eight or nine. It touched me then and it still does. I’ve had a number of copies of it through the years as I tend to buy it to keep then give it away to a child or to a teacher. The one I have has managed to stay on my shelf for about eight or nine years.

The 1944 Newberry Honor recipient is the story of a little girl named Wanda Petronski who is different fromm all the other kids in her school. Not only is her name different, but she lives in the poorest part of town and she has no mother. Every day she wears the same blue dress to school. While it is always clean, it’s also always wrinkled and doesn’t hang right. She’s very quiet and hates to speak in front of the class. Outside of class, she is always alone and even when she tries to joing a group of kids, they never notice her. The only time the others notice her is when they want to tease her. One girl in particular, Peggy, likes to ask her how many dresses she has and Wanda always answers that she has a hundred dresses all lined up in her closet, all colors, all different kinds. They ask her about her shoes and she says she has sixty pair of shoes in her closet, all colors and all kinds, all lined up.

One girl, Maddie, feels bad about teasing her and she doesn’t want to participate in it but she also doesn’t want the others to turn on her because she’s from a poor family, too. So even though she feels wrong about teasing Wanda, she doesn’t speak up. She just goes along with it.

When Wanda doesn’t come to school for several days, her father sends a note to the teacher saying she won’t be coming to school anymore. They are moving to the big city where there are other “funny names” and lots of other Polish people and where they won’t be teased anymore. The letter from Wanda’s father arrives on the same day that the winner of the drawing contest is announced. The girls’ winner (for designing and drawing a dress) has drawn not onlyy one dress but one hundred different dresses, all kinds and all colors. The winner is Wanda. That’s when the girls realize that Wanda wasn’t lying about her hundred dresses. She really did have that many, only they were drawings.

I like it because it shows how Wanda is ignored and teased, making her feel isolated. And it also shows how Maddie knows it’s wrong yet doesn’t speak up. She just goes along with the teasing and bullying. I think it speaks volumes to kids. Although The Hundred Dresses is 71 years old, it still has a very valuable lesson to share with our kids…and with adults, as well. Before writing this post, I read a little about Eleanor Estes. I learned that she wrote the book out of guilt and a desire to somehow apologize to the little girl that Wanda was modeled after. She modeled Peggy, the bully, after herself because once the “Wanda” in her school moved away, Eleanor Estes realized that she had treated her very badly and had been a bully. I think that’s a valuable lesson, too!

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“Since his stroke he’s been living in the present.  He has no past and no future.  He lives in a present that lasts six minutes, and every six minutes the meter of his memory resets itself to zero.  Every six minutes he asks me my name.  Every six minutes he asks what day it is.  Every six minutes he asks if Maman is coming to see him.” –from The List Of My Desires by Grégoire Delacourt

I often think about getting so old that I have no memory.  If I have no memory, I will cease to exist because we are our memories.  And honestly speaking, who would want to go on living past the point where their memory was gone?

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Or maybe you can.  Maybe it’s just me but if the title doesn’t make me want to read a book, I won’t.  In fact, I don’t even get as far as the book cover if the title doesn’t capture me.

I am not making these up.  Here is a list of book titles currently available from the Kindle Store:

I Love the Earl

Boomerang Bride

Bride Of the Wind [I guess she was thrown into the wind by that boomerang]

To Be A Man

Cult Of the Fly [Maybe a fly swatter would help]


The Hare With the Pearl Earring

A Cold Piece

Courting the Clown

Trolls Wanted

and my favorite…wait…wait…it’s coming…wait…

Will Love For Crumbs

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Just a couple of days ago, I read a blog post titled “Twelve Reasons Why I Don’t Use An E-Reader” and it reminded me of how I felt before I got my e-reader.

I did not want to pay cover price for a new or recent release and not have a physical copy of it.  I wouldn’t be able to lend it out.  I didn’t want to read on anything like a computer screen because computer monitors make my eyes hurt and water which causes me to not be able to read for very long.  I also didn’t want to read on a “cold” piece of electronic hardware.  And I didn’t want to pay the high price of the fragile hardware.

Then, for Christmas two years ago, I was visiting my son and he asked if, while he was at work, I could go to his apartment to wait for a couple of packages that were arriving vía Fed-Ex and would require a signature.  I agreed to do it.  When the packages arrived, one was definitely from Amazon.com and the size of a small-ish hardback book.  I signed for it.  Then I thought about it and wondered if perhaps it might be a Kindle, which my son had mentioned months before that I might want to get one day because of my love for reading.  I felt really bad because I don’t ever tell my kids that what they got for me was not what I wanted.  I don’t even tell them if it doesn’t fit.  I just smile, and thank them and deal with it.  I also knew that a Kindle was, at that time, $260.  That was a lot of money for any of my kids, or even for all three of them together, to spend on me and I was sure it was not something I would use.  I thought I was going to have to smile and accept it and then let it sit without using it.  I almost cried.  I was really upset and the next day was Christmas so I didn’t have a lot of time to adjust to the situation or to figure out a way to solve the problem.

On Christmas morning, the package indeed turned out to be a Kindle from all three of my kids.  My son sat with me and explained how it worked and how simple it would be for me to order a book straight from the device.  He also explained that all Kindle books were priced at no more than $9.99 (this was true at that time but the “Big 6” publishers have changed that even though Amazon.com fought for the consumer) with many being a lot less as the price went down once the book was no longer a new release or a bestseller.  He also showed me how the capacity of the Kindle was about 1500 books (at least of the Kindle 2 which is what that model was) My son set up the device for me with my email address and my Amazon.com account information.  The kids had also gotten me a $30 gift certificate to use on Kindle books.  He showed me how to search the Kindle Store directly from my Kindle device.  He also showed me how the Kindle does not have a back-lit screen which means that it does not cause eyestrain.  We bought my first Kindle book at that time (Edward Kennedy’s True Compass: A Memoir).

I felt a little bit better after he went through it with me and I felt better about the price of the books.  Before getting my Kindle I only bought used new releases and those were always at least $6 for a used physical copy.  I would not have to have more and more bookshelves to fit my new books.  I started to get used to the idea but thought I would only use it for special books, not for every day reading.   That night I started reading my book on my Kindle and lo and behold I read for about three hours straight without eye strain. Reading in bed, holding the Kindle in one hand was so easy and so comfortable.  The e-ink display was wonderful for my weak eyes.  I will still a little iffy about the whole thing but I breathed easier after that first Kindle reading session.

Now, a little more than two years later, I carry my Kindle with me wherever I go.  I have a special cover that I made for it and it travels safely in my purse wherever I go.  I have over 800 titles on it.  I get most of them for free or with gift cards that I earn from taking surveys online or using swagbucks.com.  In the past two years I have spent less than $100 on these  800+ books.  And the bonus is that my mother and my sisters, all avid readers, each have their own Kindle which we registered to my account so we all have access to the same books.  That’s better than lending them the physical copy.  If we want, the four of us can read the same title at the  same time!

There are so many reasons for loving my Kindle.  I can’t name them all here.  However, not a day goes by without using my Kindle!  And because it does not cause eyes strain, I can read it for hours and hours, unlike a physical book which I can read only for a half hour at a time due to the eye strain.  Oh and one of the best things…you can change the size of the font very easily which means that I can read a book with the font size set at the third from the largest size which is comfortable for me and my sister reads it at one size smaller than I do and my mom at the largest size (which is two sizes larger than I need).  Talk about a fit for everyone!

So this is my answer to the post I read the other day.  I’m sure there are lots more reasons why I cannot let go of my Kindle but these are the ones that readily come to mind as I take a few minutes to write this between chapters of Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot, which is the title I am currently reading.  I cannot imagine not having my Kindle!

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Each year, at least for the past four years, I say that I am going to keep track of the books I read.  The first year that I meant to do this, I didn’t even start.  The second year, I kept track for the first six weeks.  The third year I was able to keep track until about April.  This year, I found a reading challenge on a blog that I think will help me (and anyone else who might want to take it on) keep track of the books, both titles and number, that I read during the year.  It can be found here.

So far, I’ve completed two books in 2012 and have begun the third.  Not too bad for it being only the sixth of January.

For those of you with a sharp eye, you may have noticed that I’ve added a page to the blog just for keeping track of my reading this year.  I will be listing titles and authors there.  I will try to link whenever possible but I know that wordpress sometimes takes out the links (at least to stores and websites for profit) on wordpress.com blogs so I don’t know if the links will stay or not.  I’m also thinking I may add short reviews or ratings on the titles.  I’ve found some amazing new and unknown writers by clicking on links from other people.  The beginning of the year though, may find me reading a lot of better known writers as I have about ten or twelve best sellers on my list to read and loaded on my Kindle!

I encourage those of you who read a lot to join in the challenge.  In fact, you might want to set a reading goal and keep track of it on the challenge and see how you do.

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