Arrested Hearts by Holly Stratimore

I recently read Arrested Hearts by Holly Stratimore and want to pass along my experience of this well-written, thoughtful love story. There are many aspects of both the writing and the story that struck me—the depth of the characters’ back stories, the clarity of the writing, the author’s unapologetic and bold presentation of a main character that some readers might find unlikable. The one that stood out the most is Stratimore’s exploration of that self-destructive part of the human psyche that can sabotage the very life we want to live. It can be rooted in m

any things–tragedy, loss, abuse, neglect, etc–and it does differ in varying circumstances.

In the case of Randi Hartwell, one of the leading ladies in Arrested Hearts, she’s a bad cop who abuses her power as a police officer to get what she wants, but Stratimore adeptly moves the character and the reader through Randi’s self-realization and healing process, while keeping the reader c

ompletely engaged in the story, to the attainment of the life and love she has always wanted. The other main character, Jule, has her own issues to deal with, and Stratimore handles them with equivalent sensitivity, but it was Randi’s story that moved me the most.

As I mentioned, there are many things to love about this book, and if you’re a fan of lesbian romance, you’ll want to experience it for yourself. 🙂

Arrested Hearts

A Fresh Start

At the beginning of 2016, I asked my tech person to set up my blog, and I committed to the A to Z Blog Challenge through the Writers of Kern, my local branch of the California Writers Club. The challenge was to last thirteen weeks, and the commitment was to post two blog entries per week, one for each letter of the alphabet.

I made it to “B” on January 31st. J

Since then, I’ve thought a lot about blogging, things I might have to share that anyone might be interested in, and just generally coming up with reasons not to blog—not the least of which is I should be working on a book, as in right now.

Then the other day, I was posting a short review-type ditty on Facebook about KC Richardson’s new release Courageous Love, having just finished reading it, and I thought if nothing else I could discuss recommendations of books I’ve liked as blog entries, and maybe that will lead to additional inspirations. So that’s my plan.

I will be posting about books I’ve read. I’m not going to call these posts reviews for a couple of reasons. First, I’ll post only about books I’ve liked or ones that have spoken to me in some way even if there are aspects I didn’t particularly care for. Additionally, I’ll address the book’s or the writer’s strengths and elements of the story or characters that were thought provoking and/or made me explore ideas, concepts, or behaviors in a new or different way. I won’t rate the books or give any negative criticism, constructive or otherwise. I will only talk about what I like and will come from the perspective and understanding that no one book is for everyone. A story that speaks to me and that I find powerful or amazing, may still be one that someone else might not even finish. Right now, I’m reading mostly lesbian fiction as that is what I’m writing, but I have an eclectic taste in fiction, so periodically there will be works from other genres that I write about. And, hopefully, an occasional entry about writing, or something else entirely.

So, all that said, I’d like to draw your attention to the previous entry on this blog in which I did share my experience of reading Courageous Love, by KC Richardson last week. And I’ll be posting about a couple other books I’ve recently finished within the next couple of days. I hope you come along with me on this new journey.

Courageous Love by KC Richardson

KC Richardson’s new December release, Courageous Love, is now available in the Bold Strokes Books web-store. If you read KC’s debut romance, New Beginnings, you’ll recognize some of the characters in this moving and emotional love story, but you can get to know them here as well. This is Alex’s journey as she finds the power and strength of love at the same time she faces a life threatening illness. The author handles a difficult subject with sensitivity and honesty while simultaneously finding the perfect balance between offering important information that every woman should know about breast cancer and a tender yet strong love story. Well drawn characters, both main and secondary, realistic plot, and the kind of love we’d all like to find. Best of all, it’s a romance, so the happy ending is insured. Treat yourself to a great readCourageous Love

Buy now from Bold Strokes!

B is for Back Story

Over the years, through learning the elements of writing fiction, I’ve learned a lot about people and life. One of the most important elements of writing fiction is characterization, the creation of characters, because, after all, can there really be a story without someone—or, in some cases, something—to experience it?

In turn, one of the most important elements of a character is the back story. For anyone who isn’t familiar with the term, a back story is a history, the background and events that shape a character’s personality and cause her to express herself and react to things in a specific way. For example, in my current wip (work in progress), Into Thin Air, one of the main characters was given by her birth mother for adoption, and not knowing the circumstances or the reason left her with a deep insecurity and a belief she is unlovable. This inhibits her ability to be in a truly intimate relationship.

Now, I know every facet of that back story—where she was born, not only who her mother was and why she put her and her twin sister up for adoption but also who her father was, where and how her mother lived after the pregnancy, the background of her adoptive parents, the reasons she never looked for her birth mother, et cetera. While not every detail of a character’s back story makes it into a novel—nor should it—it’s important for me as the writer to know those details in order to make sure the character stays in character. In print, however, sometimes it’s enough to simply allude to them.

I recently read a novel by Kristin Hannah, Magic Hour—a powerfully moving and psychologically intriguing story—in which the only aspects of one of the back stories that were actually stated were that the character had been married and had a son who was killed by a drunk driver. Everything else the reader needs to know about how painful and devastating the loss of his son was to the character and the degree to which he is still healing is conveyed through his reluctance and fear to make any meaningful connections with anyone in his current life. I would bet, however, the author knew as much about his back story as she did about his role in the current story because of the depth to which she was able to write him. I know in my own work, I could write each character’s back story as its own novel in the same depth I can write the present one.

As I think about this concept in relation to my fictional characters, I also realize its importance in my daily dealings with people. Everybody has a back story, whether or not I know what it is. There is a reason, or maybe several, that people react to me, or others, or situations in their lives, the way they do. And if I’m paying attention and being fully present with whomever I am interacting, I can catch glimpses of that back story, that reason for a particular reaction, that vital piece of information that allows me to understand something I may not have before. Like a reader, however, I don’t need to know all the details. I simply need to allow the person to show me what’s important.

Any thoughts on back story, either in your writing or in life?

A is for Author

Okay, it’s time for the A to Z Blog Challenge to begin.

A is for Author.

I’ve always thought of the words “author” and “writer” as synonyms, and according to Merriam Webster’s simple definition of the word author, that’s true.

Simple Definition of AUTHOR: a person who has written something; especially: a person who has written a book or many books.

Under the Full Definition, however, the first entry is 1. a: one that originates or creates

That broader definition made me think about all the ways there are to create, not only within the commonly recognized forms that fall under creative expression along with writing, such as painting and drawing, sculpting, cooking, gardening, all forms of design, and many more, but also in ways that might not normally be considered.

It occurred to me that under this more expanded definition, we are certainly the “authors” of our own lives. A life and its events are created in the same way as a story. Both begin with a thought, an idea, a premise. For example, my novel, Threads of the Heart began with the premise, No one travels this life alone. From there, five characters came forward with their stories that intricately wove together, connecting these women in love and friendship, bringing the premise to life and expanding it into a fully fleshed out world of interconnectedness. By the same token, we create our lives in a similar fashion, with a thought or an idea of what our purpose for this life is. And then we people it with our family members, long-standing friends, and our significant partnerships and marriages.

For example, say my premise for this life deals with the overcoming of challenges—something like, The only way to fail is to quit. Then to develop that premise or idea, I need something to overcome, so I create a physical challenge like impaired vision, thus producing a more difficult path to the things I want to achieve. From there, I need some people/characters to assist me, ones that will both support me on a journey of overcoming the challenge of limited vision in achieving my goals and dreams, as well as those who will outpicture my fears of failing. This way, I have choices to make, just like the main character of a story—in essence, I am the main character of the story of this life that I have authored. With all this in place, I then—like the characters in my books—get to traverse the rocky terrain, jump the hurdles, sometimes swim against the current, learn, grow, and ultimately come out on top.

The best thing about it is that once I know I am the author of my life, I know that whatever happens, I am not a victim to anything that happens. Since I authored this story, I can edit it, revise it, and completely rework the ending any time I want.

So, what about you? What have you authored as your life?

At Long Last…

It feels like it’s been forever that I’ve been trying to launch a blog. Really, it’s only been since last May, but the amount of time I’ve spent asking about blogs, thinking about them, worrying and trying to figure out what the heck to write on a regular basis if I started one seems like it could be calculated into something closer to forever! Finally, today’s the day.

Last Saturday, I attended a meeting of Writers of Kern – my local branch of California Writers Club – and heard about the launch of their Annual A to Z Blog Challenge. I decided to accept!

The challenge for me is to begin with creating a blog, then beginning January 25th, posting two blog entries a week, each one’s subject matter beginning with the sequential letters of the alphabet. Once I have reached the end of the alphabet, the ideal is that I’ll continue with a riveting and exciting blog ;-). This is my first step!

Wish me luck and feel free to subscribe and support me on this new venture. I’ll need it and appreciate it!