Sunday, December 21, 2014

Heather A. Slomski Guest Post + Giveaway


Heather A. Slomski Guest Post + Giveaway

Heather Slomski is December's, Minnesota Author in the Spotlight here on BookSnob and she has written a guest post on how the weather influences her writing and is portrayed in her stories.  As I look out the window,  it is snowing and huge white flakes are falling on the brown ground.  Weather definitely affects my mood and influences authors and stories.  Read on.


On Weather

Today, after I put my toddler down for a nap, I looked out at the cold, gray afternoon and was reminded of something that, surprisingly, I only recently realized about my writing: my loyalty to the weather.

I am a fiction writer, and while my writing is certainly at times influenced by my life—the people in it, the things that have happened to me or to the people that I know—when I sit down to write, these people and events detach themselves from reality and become fiction. The more a story derives from reality, it seems, the more fictionalization it undergoes. This is not a conscious decision to “hide” the truth, but rather something I do naturally. I write fiction, not nonfiction. Therefore, if I’m writing about something that stems from real life, I have to give this “something” an imaginative life if I am to have any interest in writing about it. More precisely, the
imaginative life of the something real is what inspires me to write about it in the first place. One aspect of my work that I never imagine, however, is the weather.

Every story I’ve ever written (and I’m certain every story that I will ever write) takes place at the time of year when I wrote it. For example, my story titled “Iris and the Inevitable Sorrow, or The Knock at the Door” takes place on and around Valentine’s Day, and I wrote this story over the course of one particular February. “Before the Story Ends” begins in late autumn but takes place primarily between mid-December and New Year’s Day, and I started this story one New Year’s Day and finished the first draft by the end of January. And to give one last example, my short-short titled “Rescue” takes place at the end of summer, and I wrote this piece one August.

I’ve always been aware that setting is important to my work; it is often my main reason for writing a
story—to spend time in an imagined place or to return to a place I’ve left. Weather is an element of setting, so I suppose the connection I’m making here is rather obvious, but to me it’s a bit intriguing, because if I fictionalize almost everything else in my work, why not the weather?

I suppose the reason has a lot to do with mood. The weather outside influences my mood, and that mood (and weather) ends up seeping into my work. While it would make sense that I might want to write a summer story in the dead of winter in order to escape the cold and to “be” in a summer climate, or to escape the heat of summer by writing a story about a snowstorm, I’m just never in a summer mood in the winter or a winter mood in the summer. The moods I create in my stories stem from the moods I’m in while writing, and because my moods are influenced by weather, I’ve discovered that I’m a very seasonal writer.

By Heather A. Slomski

Thanks Heather!  If you would like to win a copy of Heather's Award winning book of short stories, The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons, please enter here:  The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons Giveaway

Happy Holidays!







Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons Giveaway

The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons Giveaway

Heather A. Slomski is the December Author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob and she, along with her publisher, the University of Iowa Press, are giving away 3 copies of her award winning book to followers who live in the United States.  This is a book of awesome short stories you don't want to miss.

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Winner of the 2014 Iowa Short Fiction Award, Heather A. Slomski’s debut story collection takes loss as its primary subject and holds it up to the light. In prose spare and daring, poised yet startling, these stories take shape in reality, but reality, they sometimes show us, is not a separate realm from the fantastic or the surreal. Two couples meet for dinner to acknowledge an affair. A mannequin recalls a lover and the life she mysteriously lost.  Two girls observe a young widow’s grief through a café window. A man’s hat is as discerning as Cinderella’s shoe.

In the fifteen stories that comprise this collection—some short as breaths, two of them novelettes—Slomski writes with a keen eye about relationships. About the desires that pull us together and the betrayals that push us apart. About jealousy, obsession, loneliness and regret—the byproducts of loving someone that keep us awake at night.

The characters in these stories share meals, drink wine, buy furniture and art. They live domestic lives, so often wanting to love someone yet ending up alone. In one story, a woman’s fiancé leaves her when she goes to post some mail. In another story, a man can’t move past an affair his wife almost had. Another story describes a series of drawings to detail a couple’s end. But while loss and heartache pervade these stories, there is also occasional hope. For, as the title story shows us, sometimes a breakup isn’t an end at all, but the beginning of your life.

Contest Rules:
Fill out the form
U.S residents only
Ends Dec 31st at midnight
Good Luck!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Announcing December Author in the Spotlight

Announcing the December Author in the Spotlight.

It's December already?  Really?  I feel like November skipped by so fast, I didn't get to really enjoy it.  November tends to be my busiest month, so I'm looking forward to cold weather and snow and hibernating near my fireplace with a good book during the month of December.  The cold weather has been in Minnesota awhile now and today it was -1 degree when I woke up. Bring it on, old man winter!  Winter Break can't come fast enough.

So this month I'm featuring a new author, Heather A. Slomski with her first published book of short stories called The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons.  Heather entered the Iowa Short Fiction contest and won!  This book is a collection of the 15 short stories that won her the coveted prize.

Here is a synopsis from Goodreads:

The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons:
Winner of the 2014 Iowa Short Fiction Award, Heather A. Slomski’s debut story collection takes loss as its primary subject and holds it up to the light. In prose spare and daring, poised yet startling, these stories take shape in reality, but reality, they sometimes show us, is not a separate realm from the fantastic or the surreal. Two couples meet for dinner to acknowledge an affair. A mannequin recalls a lover and the life she mysteriously lost.  Two girls observe a young widow’s grief through a café window. A man’s hat is as discerning as Cinderella’s shoe.

In the fifteen stories that comprise this collection—some short as breaths, two of them novelettes—Slomski writes with a keen eye about relationships. About the desires that pull us together and the betrayals that push us apart. About jealousy, obsession, loneliness and regret—the byproducts of loving someone that keep us awake at night.

The characters in these stories share meals, drink wine, buy furniture and art. They live domestic lives, so often wanting to love someone yet ending up alone. In one story, a woman’s fiancé leaves her when she goes to post some mail. In another story, a man can’t move past an affair his wife almost had. Another story describes a series of drawings to detail a couple’s end. But while loss and heartache pervade these stories, there is also occasional hope. For, as the title story shows us, sometimes a breakup isn’t an end at all, but the beginning of your life.

This month you can expect a book review, a giveaway, an author interview and if we are lucky, a guest post.  I love short stories and try to read one short story every Saturday.  I'm eagerly to read Heather's book.  You can visit Heather at her website:  http://heatheraslomski.com/

Have a great month.
Happy Reading!




Friday, November 14, 2014

My Favorite Literary Podcasts.

My Favorite Bookish Podcasts.

The Moth Podcast

The Moth Story podcast is one of my favorites. True stories told by real people.  These stories have made me laugh, cry, cringe and smile with relief.  I love these stories.  Its like a story slam in every podcast and you are the winner because you get to hear stories from all walks of life.  Listen once and you'll be hooked.

Go to www.themoth.org or download through Itunes or Stitcher.

Books on the Nightstand:

Books on the Nightstand is a weekly 30 minute podcast about books and the love of reading.  Reliable segments that I love and look forward to include Audio book of the week and Two books we can't wait for you to read.  Michael and Ann are knowledgeable and full of personality plus they have a blog with show notes and a Goodreads group as well.

Go to http://booksonthenightstand.com/

Literary Disco

I think Literary Disco is my favorite podcast ever.  It is bi-weekly and over an hour long.  It is three 30-40 something writers/readers/friends who come together to talk about books.  They choose one book to read and discuss, there is always a great discussion, usually some swearing and there is always laughing involved.  Most of the time, I have never heard of the book but that is OK, because their discussion does not alienate their listeners. They also have fun segments and my favorite is bookshelf roulette.  I never miss this podcast.

Go to:  http://www.literarydisco.com/

BookRiot

Book Riot is where you need to go to get your Book News about the wonderful world of books andreading.  Plus they have a kick ass website and cool ideas and bookish clubs, like Riot Reads and Book Riot Quarterly box and I subscribe to both because I'm a total book nerd.  Book Riot is a weekly podcast about an hour long, full of interesting discussion on a variety of book topics. Jeff and Rebecca are great hosts and editors of BookRiot.  This podcast has spun new literary podcasts like Dear Book Nerd, Reading Lives and Oh' Comics.

Go to:  http://bookriot.com/

What are you favorite Literary Podcasts?

Leave a comment because I want to know.








Friday, November 7, 2014

A Brief History of Seven Killings Giveaway

A Brief History of Seven Killings Giveaway

Marlon James is the November Author in the Spotlight here on BookSnob and along with his publisher, Riverhead Books / Penguin Random House, he is giving away 2 copies of his book to BookSnobs followers who live in the U.S and Canada.
A Brief History of Seven Killings is lighting up the book world right now with positive reviews.

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

From the acclaimed author of  The Book of Night Women  comes a masterfully written novel that explores the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in the late 1970s.

On December 3, 1976, just before the Jamaican general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert, gunmen stormed his house, machine guns blazing. The attack nearly killed the Reggae superstar, his wife, and his manager, and injured several others. Marley would go on to perform at the free concert on December 5, but he left the country the next day, not to return for two years.

Deftly spanning decades and continents and peopled with a wide range of characters—assassins, journalists, drug dealers, and even ghosts—A Brief History of Seven Killings is the fictional exploration of that dangerous and unstable time and its bloody aftermath, from the streets and slums of Kingston in the �70s, to the crack wars in �80s New York, to a radically altered Jamaica in the �90s. Brilliantly inventive and stunningly ambitious, this novel is a revealing modern epic that will secure Marlon James’ place among the great literary talents of his generation.

Contest Rules:
Fill out the form
U.S/Canada residents only
Ends Nov 30th at midnight
Good Luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Star Bright Giveaway Winners!

Star Bright Giveaway Winners!

Alison McGhee was the Minnesota Author in the Spotlight here on BookSnob for the month of October and she is giving away 2 copies of her new Children's Book Star Bright, A Christmas Story to followers who live in the United States.  Star Bright will be a wonderful edition to your Holiday book collection and would make a lovely gift for the child in your life.

And the lucky winners are...

Kimberly from Pennsylvania 
Nanette

Congratulations Ladies.
You and your little darlings will love this book.

Here is excerpt from my book review:
Star Bright is a delightful, endearing children's book full of love and joy and the beauty of God's earth.  McGhee has written a wonderful story for the wee babes and preschoolers and for their parents and grandparents who are sure to love the meaningful text and beautiful illustrations.  

Happy Reading!


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Announcing November Author in the Spotlight

Announcing November Author in the Spotlight

Happy November.  This is the busiest month of the year for me.  My grades are due tomorrow, my new carpet is coming at the end of the week, then I need to clean, clean and clean until Thanksgiving because I'm having 35 people over for dinner.  Agh.

I will basically be reading only 1 book this month and that is by November Author in the Spotlight, Marlon James.  His newest book, A Brief History of Seven Killings: A Novel is the talk of the book world this Fall and I can't wait to read it.

Marlon James teaches college and writes amazing books.  Check them out.

Here are the synopsis according to Good Reads:

A Brief History of Seven Killings: A Novel.
From the acclaimed author of  The Book of Night Women  comes a masterfully written novel that
explores the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in the late 1970s.

On December 3, 1976, just before the Jamaican general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert, gunmen stormed his house, machine guns blazing. The attack nearly killed the Reggae superstar, his wife, and his manager, and injured several others. Marley would go on to perform at the free concert on December 5, but he left the country the next day, not to return for two years.

Deftly spanning decades and continents and peopled with a wide range of characters—assassins, journalists, drug dealers, and even ghosts—A Brief History of Seven Killings is the fictional exploration of that dangerous and unstable time and its bloody aftermath, from the streets and slums of Kingston in the �70s, to the crack wars in �80s New York, to a radically altered Jamaica in the �90s. Brilliantly inventive and stunningly ambitious, this novel is a revealing modern epic that will secure Marlon James’ place among the great literary talents of his generation.

The Book of Night Women

The Book of Night Women is a sweeping, startling novel, a true tour de force of both voice and storytelling. It is the story of Lilith, born into slavery on a Jamaican sugar plantation at the end of the eighteenth century. Even at her birth, the slave women around her recognize a dark power that they and she will come to both revere and fear.

The Night Women, as they call themselves, have long been plotting a slave revolt, and as Lilith comes of age and reveals the extent of her power, they see her as the key to their plans. But when she begins to understand her own feelings and desires and identity, Lilith starts to push at the edges of what is imaginable for the life of a slave woman in Jamaica, and risks becoming the conspiracy's weak link.

Lilith's story overflows with high drama and heartbreak, and life on the plantation is rife with dangerous secrets, unspoken jealousies, inhuman violence, and very human emotion between slave and master, between slave and overseer, and among the slaves themselves. Lilith finds herself at the heart of it all. And all of it told in one of the boldest literary voices to grace the page recently--and the secret of that voice is one of the book's most intriguing mysteries.

John Crow's Devil

“Pile them up, a Marlon James character says repeatedly, and Marlon does just that. Pile them up:
language, imagery, technique, imagination. All fresh, all exciting. This is a writer to watch out for.”—Chris Abani, author of GraceLand, winner of the Hemingway/PEN Award

“This is the finest and most important first novel I’ve read in years. James’s writing brings to mind early Toni Morrison, Jessica Hagedorn, and Gabriel García Márquez.”—Kaylie Jones, author of Speak Now and A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries

“Marlon James spins his magical web in this novel and we willingly suspend disbelief, rewarded by the window he opens to Jamaica (and a world) rarely portrayed in fiction.”—Elizabeth Nunez, author of Bruised Hibiscus, winner of the American Book Award

This stunning debut novel tells the story of a biblical struggle in a remote Jamaican village in 1957. With language as taut as classic works by Cormac McCarthy, and a richness reminiscent of early Toni Morrison, Marlon James reveals his unique narrative command that will firmly establish his place as one of today's freshest, most talented young writers.


In the village of Gibbeah--where certain women fly and certain men protect secrets with their lives--magic coexists with religion, and good and evil are never as they seem. In this town, a battle is fought between two men of God. The story begins when a drunkard named Hector Bligh (the "Rum Preacher") is dragged from his pulpit by a man calling himself "Apostle" York. Handsome and brash, York demands a fire-and-brimstone church, but sets in motion a phenomenal and deadly struggle for the soul of Gibbeah itself. John Crow's Devil is a novel about religious mania, redemption, sexual obsession, and the eternal struggle inside all of us between the righteous and the wicked.

This month you can expect a book review, a giveaway and an author interview.  It is going to be great!

Happy Reading!






Friday, October 31, 2014

October Author in the Spotlight Wrap-Up + Giveaway

October Author in the Spotlight Wrap-Up + Giveaway

Happy Halloween Everyone!!  October has been a wonderful and busy month.  We are painting the basement walls, getting new carpet and furniture downstairs.  My teaching schedule is still overwhelming (3 preps) and I'm planning a trip with students to Peru, so I am working hard, with little time to read because basically I'm exhausted at the end of the day.

This month I read 6 books.
1 Children's book
1 Audio book
1 poetry book
3 novels.

Join me in saying goodbye to October's Author in the Spotlight, Alison McGhee.  She is author extraordinaire who has written a variety of books in different genres for all age groups.  Her latest book Star Bright, A Christmas Story is adorable and endearing.

Enter quick to win a copy of Star Bright.  The contest ends tonight at midnight
Star Bright Giveaway

Please check out my book review of Star Bright, A Christmas Story.
Star Bright is a delightful, endearing children's book full of love and joy and the beauty of God's earth.  McGhee has written a wonderful story for the wee babes and preschoolers and for their parents and grandparents who are sure to love the meaningful text and beautiful illustrations.

Star Bright Book Review

Check out the Author Interview with Alison McGhee.
I asked her some questions about her writing life, favorite authors and the artwork in her books.  Find out which children's authors are her favorite and how she juggles all her books.

Alison McGhee Author Interview

Please check out the Guest Post by Alison.
She has written a guest post on her "Tiny House" in Vermont where she writes and uses her time to get creative.  This is really interesting to me as I have never heard of the Tiny House movement.  Super cool!

Alison McGhee Guest Post

I've really enjoyed working with Alison McGhee this month and reading her lovely children's book, Star Bright.  I'm looking forward to reading some of her fiction and young adult novels in the near future.  I hope you all will check out her website and read her book to the little ones in your life.
http://www.alisonmcghee.com/


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Star Bright, A Christmas Story by Alison McGhee

Star Bright.  A Christmas Story by Alison McGhee
Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

  All of Heaven is a flutter with the celebration of the Christ child's birth and everyone has a wonderful gift to share.  The newest angel wants to give a special gift too but she is not sure what, so she searches Heaven and Earth to find it.  She finds the perfect gift for all to enjoy.

Star Bright is a delightful, endearing children's book full of love and joy and the beauty of God's earth.  McGhee has written a wonderful story for the wee babes and preschoolers and for their parents and grandparents who are sure to love the meaningful text and beautiful illustrations.  

I adore the artwork in Star Bright.  The colors are vibrant with purples and blues and the paintings make me feel warm and loved.  I read this aloud to my teenagers, they loved it.  The story is timeless and everyone can relate to finding the perfect gift for the love of a baby who changes the world.

This is a huggable book and will be much loved by children everywhere.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Alison McGhee Author Interview + Giveaway

Alison McGhee Author Interview + Giveaway

Alison is the Minnesota Author in the Spotlight for the month of October and she has written a delightful and endearing children's book called Star Bright, A Christmas Story.  I asked her some questions about her writing life, favorite authors and the artwork in her books. Read on to find out more about Alison McGhee.

1.  Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m tall. My favorite color is green. My favorite part of an Oreo is the top crème-less chocolate cookie. Every morning I read three poems before I do anything else. I have a dog named Petey and a cat named Hobbes. I walk fast. A fun night might include sitting at the bar for dinner and playing cards while waiting for the food to arrive.

2. What inspired you to write Star Bright, A Christmas Story?
My editor asked me if I would be interested in writing a Christmas story. I had never considered writing one before and it took me years and years to come up with the right idea. I must’ve written eighteen entirely different stories before this one finally came shimmering up.

3. You have written a variety of books in all age categories.  How do you carve time out of your day to write?  Do you have several writing projects going at the same time?

I usually am working on a novel, which is a loooooong-term affair. If I get an idea for a picture book, or am struck by lightning with an idea for some other kind of book, I’ll take time away from the novel and try to get a good draft down. But there’s always a novel simmering away in the background. I don’t really have to carve time out because writing is my work. (That’s kind of a lie, though, because even though writing is my work, I still have to force myself to sit down every day and begin.)

4.  I love the artwork in Star Bright.  Did you get to pick the illustrator or does the publisher?
How much of the artistic vision belongs to the author and how much belongs to the artist?

Peter H. Reynolds is an amazing artist, isn’t he? The elegant simplicity of his work inspires me. This is our third collaboration together. We began with Someday, moved on to Little Boy, and now here we are with Star Bright. The publisher is traditionally the one to select the illustrator but I have been very lucky and usually have input on the decision. Who has the artistic vision? I’d say that in all my picture books, it’s been a mutual collaboration between me and the artist every step of the way. I stand in awe of their artistry. It’s a delight and a surprise to see how they interpret the words.

5.  Do you like to read?  What authors or books influence you?

Love to read and always have. That’s why I became a writer. . . I never had a Plan B. In most photos of me as a kid there’s a book lying open and face-down in the background. It made me sad that I wasn’t allowed to read at the dinner table. I’m influenced by so many writers it’s impossible to pick only a few, but I will say that poetry, which I love with all my soul, is the form that most often stuns, inspires and cracks open my heart.


6.  Can you recommend one book that you believe is a must read and tell us why?

I have been sitting here for half an hour making list after list, but I cannot narrow it down to one. My apologies. I bow my head in sorrow. (FAIL) (SAD FACE)

7.  Who is your favorite Children’s book author?

Old school: I’m a huge fan of William Steig, Maurice Sendak, Judith Viorst, Bevery Cleary.
Contemporary: huge fan of M.T. Anderson, Kathi Appelt, Chris Raschka, Taeeun Yoo, Marcus Zusak. (Again I sit here with sorrowfully bowed head. . . too many to mention.)

8.  Tell us in one sentence why we should read, Star Bright, A Christmas Story.

When I began writing Star Bright I spent time each morning thinking about all the specific, personal ways that the people I love bring light into the world, and by the time I was finished writing it, the book itself seemed to be full of light and love.

Thanks Alison!

If you would like to win a copy of Star Bright please enter here:  Star Bright Giveaway