All posts tagged: writing advice

Poet MOLLY SPENCEr talks about her astonishing, award-winning collection, HINGE; serious illness, the body, growing up in orchards, how obsessions can often lead us to our writing material, PLUS the structure of roofs.

By Leslie Lindsay  Myth, legend, landscape…lush and razor-sharp lines…HINGE is exactly that: revealing and concealing–sometimes squeaky–moments in time. ~WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~  POETRY FRIDAY Aside from the arresting cover, HINGE by Molly Spencer (Crab Orchard Series in Poetry, 2020) is a gorgeous meditation of motherhood, the passage of time, a stunted world–in terms of all–land, home, marriage, and body. There’s a great deal of tension and then well-earned release, the world and imagery rich in details and texture, about creation and recreation, told in a simply elegant, yet mournful voice. I have a wealth of images trapped in my mind from the words–and worlds–created within these pages. It’s about space and homes and how they all tie together, but also seasons and cycles and interiority. HINGE is the perfect read for the bleaker days of late fall, into winter, as we naturally fold within ourselves. Molly Spencer’s poetry has appeared in various well-known and recognized literary journals. She is a poetry editor for Rumpus, and this collection won the Crab Orchard Series Open Competition in Poetry 2019. Please join me …

Cara Wall talks about her incisive and gorgeously written debut, THE DEARLY BELOVED, about faith, love, marriage, family, struggle, and even autism

By Leslie Lindsay Stunningly executed first novel is brimming with conflict, but also hope, and the most astute writing. A Today show “Read with Jenna” Book Club Selection*** “A moving portrait of love and friendship set against a backdrop of social change.” —The New York Times Book Review (Editor’s Choice) Entertainment Weekly calls The Dearly Beloved “the best book about faith in recent memory.” Plus, readers are saying it’s an instant-classic, traversing multiple generations. I love THE DEARLY BELOVED (Simon & Schuster, August 2019) by Cara Wall. This has got to be one of the most stirring and incisive debuts I have read in a long time. Writing with a restrained lyricism, Cara Wall’s THE DEARLY BELOVED is about marriage, beliefs, faith, friendships, conflicts, and motherhood. Beginning in the 1950s and traversing through the 1960s, we are truly immersed in the world of Charles and Lily, at college in Boston, when Charles strays from the academic path held by his father and wants to become a minister. But then he finds Lily, who is a skeptic –and for good reason. She’s …

Bianca Marais takes us back to post-Apartheid South Africa in her stunning new book, IF YOU WANT TO MAKE GOD LAUGH, about several strong-willed women, one abandoned baby, how we’re all connected, & more

By Leslie Lindsay ‘ Emotional and powerful read about post-apartheid South Africa combing the lives of three very different women and one abandoned newborn.  I read HUM IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE WORDS (Putnam, March 2018) and immediately fell in love with Robin and Beauty and also the author, Bianca Marias. In this new title, IF YOU WANT TO MAKE GOD LAUGH (July 16 2019), you’ll meet a series of three very different women–Dee (Delilah) an ex-nun with a history, her sister, Ruth (an ex-stripper with multiple ex-husbands), and Zodwa, a pregnant Zulu teen living in a squatter camp on the outskirts of Johannesburg. How these three women come together will shake you–and just may have you cheering for each one, but for different reasons. Delivered in short, alternating chapters narrated by Ruth, Zodwa, and Delilah, IF YOU WANT TO MAKE GOD LAUGH shares its characters’ divergent perspectives on class, race, and faith as it probes closely at the 1990s political and socioeconomic headlines. This narrative is complex and there are a lot things going on under the context–rape and rampant racism, stigma …

Sweeping historical fiction from Sara Ackerman; how setting is its own character, growing up in Hawaii, & her emotional response to Pearl Harbor

By Leslie Lindsay Set against the backdrop of WWII and the attack at Pearl Harbor, THE LIEUTENANT’S NURSE is richly detailed, emotional, and compellingly transportive historical fiction.  I fell in love with Sara Ackerman’s debut, THE ISLAND OF SWEET PIES AND SOLDIERS (2018), and was excited to learn she was working on more historical fiction set in Hawaii against the backdrop of homeland WWII –which I think gives this time period and somewhat more refreshing perspective. Still, THE LIEUTENANT’S NURSE can be grisly at times. It’s November 1941 and everyone is caught off guard when the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. Eva Cassidy is en route on the Lurline, traveling as a nurse to Hawaii with the Army Corps of Nurses. She’s leaving behind a sister and some deeper secrets back in Michigan…but what? Combing mystery and intrigue with romance, (war) scandal, medicine, and even an adorable dog, THE LIEUTENANT’S NURSE is compelling historical fiction told with much love, tenderness, and courage. I loved the cinematic aspects if Ackerman’s writing–it’s richly detailed and evocative of the tropics (she’s born and raised in Hawaii and the …

Wednesdays with Writers: What if your mother–a flaming narcissist–died and left you a mound of debt and unanswered questions? Debut novelist Gina Sorell delves into family secrets, grief, reinvention, and so much more in MOTHERS & OTHER STRANGERS

By Leslie Lindsay  A riveting story of a woman’s quest to understand her recently deceased mother, a glamorous, cruel narcissist who left her only child a mound of debt, mysteries, threats, and questions.  Gina Sorell has my attention. I loved her searing debut, MOTHERS & OTHER STRANGERS and absolutely reveled in the mystery surrounding both of her characters, daughter Elsie (Elspeth) and her mother, Rachel/Devedra. Just take a read of the first, magical line:  “My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was nineteen, and knowing that she was pregnant with a dead man’s child, she accepted.”  I found MOTHERS AND OTHER STRANGERS written in such a crisp, flow-y manner propelling the story forward, making it a challenge to set it down. I wanted to know more. The prose is absolutely stunning, the mystery absorbing, and Elsie’s mother–troubling. Sorell writes with such authenticity it was a bit hard to believe this wasn’t a memoir. I’m so honored to have Gina on the blog couch this morning. Leslie Lindsay: I’m always so, so intrigued about …

Wednesdays with Writers: Jane Corry talks about her U.S. domestic thriller debut, MY HUSBAND’S WIFE, what happens when ex-wives need a favor of one another, strong women, lies, inside a high-security prison, and some really spot-on writing advice.

By Leslie Lindsay  Smart, literary domestic thriller that is utterly and completely addictive, MY HUSBAND’S WIFE (January 31 2017, Viking/Pamela Dorman Books) explores multifaceted and nuanced relationships and you won’t want to put this one down; I know I didn’t. Set in London and Devon, England this is a tale told in two halves: “Fifteen Years Ago” and “Today,” but the narrative is neat, not messy; there is no back and forth between time periods, rather they are very distinct–the first half of the book is the first time period. When young lawyer Lily marries Ed, she’s determined to make a fresh start (all good protagonists have a secret, right?), but then she takes on her very first murder case and meets Joe, a convicted murderer whom Lily is strangely attracted to. Lily’s not the only one with secrets: her next door neighbor, 9-year old Carla from Italy who lives with her single mother; a friendship is forged. Carla has secrets. She knows things. And then there’s Ed. A fledgling artist who would rather draw …

Wednesdays with Writers: Self-sabotage, fear of failure, handling rejections, the S-word, and amazing writing advice from Robin Black’s CRASH COURSE, even when it rains in the summer

By Leslie Lindsay  Oh my goodness. This book. Every writer, would-be-writer, aspiring writer, closet-writer, bestselling and debut writer *needs* this book. Trust me. It’s like Robin Black crawled inside my head and accessed every single thought I’ve had about motherhood, the writing life, and the life in writing. It makes me want to be a better writer. And that, right there, is hugely powerful. CRASH COURSE is an insightful, beautiful, and searingly honest account of the writing life told with wisdom, humor, and self-awareness you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. It’s fantastic. I laughed, nodded in agreement, gasped, and maybe, quite possibly could have shed a tear or two. Just listen to this: “I wasn’t more than two pages into Crash Course when I pulled out a pen and started underlining like crazy. In these essays, Robin Black is simultaneously a wise teacher, an encouraging mentor, and that friend who gives you the real dirt on what the writing life is like. Crash Course is an invaluable resource and reassurance for any writer.” —Celeste …

Write on, Wednesday: Paula Hawkins talks about how it’s important to be organized, precise and economical with words, how she’s always had an active imagination, and more in her runaway bestseller THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN

By Leslie Lindsay When I closed THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN (Riverhead Books, January 2015), a nearby freight train rumbled through my Chicago area suburb. It was as if the characters in Paula Hawkins’s debut thriller had surreptitiously made a visit to my living room. Of course, they hadn’t. I was just that invested in them, and that, my friends is just good storytelling, plain and simple. We’re lucky–so lucky–to have Paula with us today to answer a few questions about her spellbinding new psych thriller. Leslie Lindsay: Paula, thank you so very much for popping in to chat about THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN. I’ve been fascinated with psych thrillers from British authors of late. Not sure where that comes from! What do you think it is about England/London environs that brings forth such dark and varied stories? Is it something about the geography, the climate, the pop culture? Something else? Paula Hawkins: You’re right, there have been a lot of great psychological thrillers coming out of the UK lately – I’m not really sure why …