Wednesday, 9 October 2013

In To The Bend By L.H. Stone

I am counting this book as part of my Canadian Book Challenge even though it has not yet been published.  It was written by a Canadian friend of mine who asked me to read it to help her figure out if it flowed or not.  I certainly hope it will be available for the rest of the world soon, because it is a fun and enjoyable read!
            In To The Bend has several stories interwoven through the book, but it begins and ends with Holly Bender, a passionate, accident-prone, soft-hearted woman with a mysterious past.  Throughout the book, she avoids thinking about her past, but can’t help keeping the picture of her former lover clipped to her car’s sun visor so that she can still talk to him.
            In a strange form of penance, she agrees to knit 250 scarfs for a church charity, although she has no idea how to knit.  (At the time, she thought she was volunteering to make bars not scarves.)  In true Holly fashion, she would rather find a way to fulfill her promise than confess her mistake to the pastor.  She starts to spread her story among friends and eventually gathers a rag-tag group of outrageous and enterprising women of all ages.  Each of these women come with their own story, which are unraveled as they meet.
            The book is filled with amusing and down-to-earth dialogue.  The WAKS (Women Always Knitting Society), is the kind of club most women would love to find.  There is wine, music, stories, laughter and, well, knitting of course.  While the women love to tease one another, they exist to help one another and their community. 
            Stone herself is an avid fan of Maeve Binchy and Stephen King and I think this shows in her work as she writes both wonderful characters and dialogue while being able to create the odd creepy and unnerving scene.  Stone also has a great gift for reading her work aloud.  I hope she will one day be able to present this as an audio book, but it would need to come with a strong warning “Caution, listening while driving will cause serious laughter which may lead to hazardous driving!”

Saturday, 5 October 2013

The Twilight Zone

I've never watched The Twilight Zone.  I hate horror movies; watched too many as a preteen.  But I imagine what I am feeling right now is something like what the show is about -- a strange otherworldly experience, uncomfortable, slightly thrilling and just plain weird.  I currently have no book to work on.  I am not writing, re-writing, editing or reworking a book.  I have no new short stories to work on.  I must face the questions that other writers tell me they worry about.  As a novelist I rarely think about it because it is not the issue.  That heady, prospect-laden question is: What am I going to write about?
Will there be another novel?  I’m sure there will, but I don’t know what it is yet.  I remember this Zone of Twilight from other years.  It generally arrives in the fall.  I usually start with short stories.  At first, they were mostly retellings of my life and then I started to use story prompts to get outside of my own experience.  I must say, I prefer this.  My life, even cloaked in a short story, embarrasses me on the page.  Perhaps this is the hangover of being shy.  We use story prompts in my writing group.  I think they are wonderful and I look forward to trying new genres, but I always wonder if I am cheating.  Can I be sued some day for using someone’s online story beginning?  I read recently that The Book of Negroes began as a story prompt.  Wow.
So wish me luck as I wander this peculiar territory.  I’m not really frightened, though a little worried that maybe I’ve used up my imagination.  It sparkles with possibilities and whispers to me with a little thrill.  And so, I begin. . .