Learning as You Write – Guest Post…

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Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

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Writers are advised by editors, agents, academic and self-appointed experts to write about what they know. Some people have pointed out that would be boring. As writers we live in a world of imagination. Some tend to exaggerate, or have a quirky point of view, but many of us simply wonder what’s beyond the known world. We daydream, pay close attention to and analyze our sensory experience, and experiment with ideas. In other words, we go beyond the bounds of ordinary existence. In a way our characters are avatars for ourselves as we explore a made-up world, one created from what we know and what we are curious to know.

When I wrote Miami Morning, I broke the rule on writing what you know. Instead, I was fascinated by what I could learn about topics that were new to me. As I wrote, for instance, I was challenged, just…

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT MIAMI MORNING by Mary Clark @mceyes #WomensFiction

Rosie Amber

Today’s team review is from E.L Lindley, she blogs at http://lindleyreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

E.L. has been reading Miami Morning by Mary Clark

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Miami Morning by Mary Clark is the story of idealistic teacher Leila Payson. It’s a novel that affords the reader not only the opportunity to follow Leila on her journey through life but also offers a glimpse of what life is like working within the public schools’ system in Miami amid ever changing educational ideology and internal politics.

The novel begins on Leila’s 41st birthday, she is enjoying a comfortable existence having been a social studies’ teacher for fifteen years. However, her sense of peace is undermined as she begins to reflect back over her past. Clark uses Leila’s memories to draw the reader into her life as we are given an insight into key life changing events, such as the death of her mother.

A defining experience…

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2016 Election

I wrote this to some online friends in other countries:

You might be wondering about what is going on in the culture of the USA. For one thing, the Democrats have no one to blame but themselves – and I am one. We used to be the party of the working people. We cared about the working man and woman, and championed being able to improve the quality of life for them, and for all Americans.

More than 20 years ago companies began moving to other countries and leaving many towns and some cities without an economic base. We did nothing, and the Republicans did nothing – until this election cycle when one person saw the anger and resentment at being marginalized and tapped into it. Democrats talked about creating jobs, lowering taxes on the middle class, and making education more affordable, but their one big idea was to raise the minimum wage. As if everyone’s working at Walmart or a fast food place. What people want is good paying jobs, real jobs. Instead of thinking about electing the first woman president, Democrats needed to be thinking – as they used to do – about poverty and the dignity of work. The Republican leadership didn’t get it, either, so they missed the Trump Train. 

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate and her husband and staff, came off as elitist insiders and that only fueled more anger. Unfortunately, Trump infused his campaign with rhetoric that blames immigrants and Muslims for problems they have not caused, and this is a dangerous thing. He used the anger to stoke the flames of hate even higher. Today, many of those who felt they weren’t being listened to by the powers-that-be in Washington, D.C., feel vindicated, but they may also feel empowered to take revenge.

Both the right and the left in the US complained about the move into a global economy, noting that there were victims, mostly small businesses and working people. The Democrats had a candidate who was a strong voice for these concerns, but he lost in the primary. He won the “Rust Belt” states, though, and that along with what he was saying should have been a wake up call for the party.

I think many Democrats, and the Republican leadership, assumed their fellow Americans would never vote for a racist, sexist, foul-mouthed boor. They didn’t understand that the anger was so deep people would excuse or ignore, and even revel in, that behavior.

My biggest concerns about Donald Trump are: the blaming of specific ethnic and religious groups; racism; aggressive denial of free speech to those who disagree with him; ignorance about international relations; and his impetuosity. 

Writing: Patterns and Change – Guest Post…

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Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Story Mapping

I have written memoirs and historical fiction before and tried my hand at short stories, but Miami Morning is my first novel. The mistakes became apparent to me as the book neared completion. What to do? Rearrange all the chapters? Write it again? Then there are those supporting characters. Are they playing a role or am I simply fond of them?

These questions refer to the creation of a coherent pattern, one that the reader will see as sensible and magical at the same time. I decided to work to make my mistakes comprehensible, and resolve not to make them again. Finally, I began to see the threads coming together. One of the fascinating experiences of writing is seeing a pattern emerge from the themes, ideas, and characters’ trajectories.

It was interesting as well to realize that my main character, Leila Payson, in bringing together the various threads in…

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New Review of Miami Morning

I’d like to share this in-depth review of my novel by Martha Char Love, the co-author of the fascinating book, What’s Behind Your Belly Button? A Psychological Perspective of the Intelligence of Human Nature and Gut Instinct

Deep and Thoughtful, Yet Easy To Read Story of The Challenges of a Miami School Teacher

Miami Morning is an excellently written novel that is a “must read” for anyone who has been involved in the educational system. It is a book that would be highly enjoyed by anyone who is or ever has been a teacher, student, or parent. Since I have been all three at one time or another, I truly loved reading this book and savored the experience by stretching it out a few weeks. The author, Mary Clark, has divided the book into very short chapters (usually only a couple of pages each), and so I was able to enjoy making this book part of my morning wake-up-to-the-world ritual by starting each day with a relaxing read of a couple of chapters, along with a cup of coffee.

The main character is Leila Payson, a Social Studies teacher in Miami, who goes to South Africa to teach and learns the importance of listening to the people with physical challenges that she served as though they were “equal citizens” of the community rather than “her students” or “disabled.” When she brings this lesson of compassionate perspective back to Miami and applies it in her teaching there, she is able to help resolve a number of challenges that students share with her, including those who are struggling with problems like drug addiction and life issues like disabilities including hearing impairment. As she weaves through these challenges with her students, the reader is privy to both her inner philosophical dialogues and profound communications with students and colleagues. I thought that the highlight of the book was in the deep questions brought up concerning the importance of a strong community for a person facing hearing impairment. She makes a psychologically powerful case that no one overcomes adversity without help from others.

Read the full review

Memory in a Minor Key

mary1976Sunlight strikes me in the face, I feel significant,
and my reality is transformed:
nothing can be denied me anymore.
On looking back I see him standing in anger,
or defense, fists by his sides,
for who has been violated, I do not know.

Remembering when he touched me
with the weight of everything he felt,
and now he can pin me to the night sky,
I am left alone, time speeding me toward remote galaxies.
I know I can turn away in the instant before
I balance on my toes to lean toward his kindness.

He chugs past, dragging his dragon tail,
and I see people bringing him presents,
gamboling at his feet, and wonder how much of himself
does he give away, each day, so much that he feels robbed
and sapped of his strength?
So as he turns off his light, I am no longer blind.

And why do I have this much lucidity
in this gallery of fantasy?
Perhaps our rebellion is to build an artificial world,
and then to reject it.
Deep in this appreciation of artifice and antipathy,
I smile, complacent.

To my surprise he raises his hand in salute,
recognition lighting the marquees of his eyes,
all the dark empty stages:
what role does he want me to play?
I have a glimpse of a divergent potential,
an alternative past, present and future.

I know he will reject me again;
I know I will walk away.
I refuse to be the daily sensational news,
because, wouldn’t you know it, I insist
on choosing to live my own
idiosyncratic life.

Poem © by Mary Clark 2015

Book Review: The Forgotten Path

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“THE FORGOTTEN PATH” (STONEHILL ROMANCE BOOK 3), BY MARCI BOUDREAUX

PUBLISHER: MARCI BOUDREAUX; OCTOBER 16, 2015

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Synopsis: No one has ever accused Annie O’Connell of backing down from a challenge. She’s tough as nails and that’s what everyone has come to expect from her. But even the strongest of people need someone some time.

Marcus Callison has loved Annie for as long as he’s been working at O’Connell Realty. He would stand by her through thick, thin, and everything in between. If only she’d let him.

When tragedy strikes and Annie is left feeling vulnerable, Marcus does everything in his power to make all right in her world again. He just hopes it’s enough to convince her that he is worthy of breaking through the walls she has built around her heart.

Review:

What an amazing book! I expected to love this book, just based on previous novels I have read…

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My Interview on It Matters Radio

Monica Brinkman and Kenneth Weene talked with me about my books, concentrating on Miami Morning and issues of disability, sources of inspiration, influences and creating complex characters, then moving on to my first book, cats, birds, and other topics.

Working with Other Authors – Guest Post…

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Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

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My writing career really took off when I started working with other authors. It was a little thing that started it all. Sally Harris, author of the wonderful Diary of a Penguin-napper, suggested we got together to do a promotion of the first chapter of our books in a volume called Love Middle Grade Actually in February 2013. Through that I got talking, and made friends with, a dozen other authors. I’d not really done much blogging then, not like we do now, joining in challenges with other bloggers, doing blog hops and the like. And it takes a bit of nerve to approach someone you don’t know (and maybe think is so much better than you, and so much more knowledgeable).

The way we worked together on a project, being brought together by Sally, made me want to do it…

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