Today I am so happy to be visiting with author Sharon Poppen on the fifth stop of our Summer Blog Tour! This week you can find me visiting with Ann Tracy Marr at her blog,
Question Of the Week
Who and what am I reading this summer and why?
What a great subject for this week or any week for an author for so very many reasons. I’ve always been a reader and I think that in many ways it stimulated my imagination to the point where I would often want more after I had read ‘The End’ in any book I was reading. Also, I’ve found that in reading other authors, I see techniques that make me want to read more by this author or turn me off to where I won’t read another of their books and put my readers through whatever it was that turned me off.
For instance, I think Leon Uris, John Grisham and Janet Evanovich create characters that have great reader appeal due to the multi-layered depth those authors ‘show’ of their characters. I think Tom Clancy uses far too many acronyms. I read fiction for enjoyment and his use of technical jargon often takes me out of scenes while I have to figure out that the code he is using may only stand for a military rank or operation code. He is great at plot, but I don’t want to work that hard for my enjoyment reading. I like a writer to set up a scene, but then let me do some visualizing. I’ve tried reading Sue Grafton, but her – she unlocked the door, she walked across the front room, she walked into the kitchen, she saw the blinking light on the telephone, she walked across the kitchen and put her finger on the play button, she …. – . Way too much detail for me. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that writers benefit from reading these successful authors and deciding what works for their stories, their characters, their readership.
Right now, I’m reading Janet Evanovich’s eighteenth book on the antics of Stephanie Plum, bailbondswoman. Her characters are what keep me coming back. She has wacky plots featuring her wild and crazy characters and bail jumpers.
I just finished 50 Shades of Gray. Total bore. I felt I was reading ‘Sadism and Bondage for Dummies.’ The characters were flat and unbelievable. My biggest complaint was that there was absolutely no closure of any aspect of the story. As I read the last page, I felt like the author was giggling at me any saying, ‘Gotcha! Now pay me more to find out what happens.”
Before that, I read Dear Wife by Gladys Malvern, who writes young adult books featuring strong female characters making their way through a factual historic era. She was out of date for a while but her books are making a comeback. She is wonderful at character development and show versus tell techniques.
I hope that my thoughts on what I read and why makes some sense to you. Let’s face it, what is a good read for one person is not someone else’s cup of tea. I just appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts with all of you. If you’ve read this far, please take the time to leave a comment and answer the following question. ‘What young adult book author is making a comeback? You might just win a book by one of the Best Summer Reading Blog Tour authors and qualify for a $50 Amazon gift certificate to be awarded at the end of tour near the end of July.
After the War, Before the Peace by Sharon Poppen – (Excerpt – An opportunity to plead their case for amnesty before Congress is discussed by the four Farrell brothers.)
Jim and Joe, standing side-by-side assessing the small herd, turned and waved to their younger brothers. Once they were settled around one corner of the corral, Jim began.
“The news in San Antonio was good. Amnesty is on the agenda for this session of Congress.”
“And?” Joe gave the appearance of being totally absorbed by his study of the cattle.
“They want a Reb to come to Washington to testify. They want to hear our side for a change.”
“It’s scheduled for right after the first of the year.”
Joe turned to meet Jim’s eyes. “I hear you and you’re right it’s good news. I guess.”
“Well, yeah. It’s what we’ve wanted for a long time. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll listen, wipe the slate clean and we can start over. But in order to start over, we have to take some pretty big risks I reckon. I haven’t heard you mention any immunity in return for our testimony.”
“No. They couldn’t get it. They were told it would open up a can of worms.”
“Leaves us with our own can of worm, doesn’t it?”
Jim tried to affect a casual shrug. “That’s what I told Ethan. But, listen. It may not be too bad.” He turned to his youngest brother. “Dan, tell them about Ethan’s plan.”
Dan reiterated the conversation in the hotel room. Joe and Michael listened without interruption or comment. He tried to keep his distaste for Jim’s solo commitment out of his narrative. He concluded with, “Jim finally agreed it was a good plan and that he would do it.”
Michael stretched his arms out full length, grabbed hold of the top rail of the corral and slowly pushed himself back and forth. He had to think. It didn’t bother him that Jim made the decision on his own, that was just Jim taking care of the family. It did bother him that Jim would be alone. He knew intimately the value of having his brothers at his side when skirting danger. Joe saved him from having to make a comment. Michael folded his arms over the top of the corral, rested his chin on his arms and stared into the herd as he listened to the controlled fury.
“You agreed to the plan.” Joe shook his head from side to side. “YOU agreed did you?”
“Now, Joe don’t read more into –
“Don’t tell me what to read into this. For Christ sake I’m thirty-three years old. I damn sure don’t need you to tell me what to do.”
“Joe, listen I –
“No! You listen. To me, to them.” He nodded toward the younger brothers. “Seems to me, I remember a time when Dan’s input was quite wise. Does the name Pike mean anything to you.”
Jim sighed. This was going to be as hard as he had dreaded. He turned to Dan.
“Okay. You’ve wanted to talk for the past three days. Lets have it.”
“We made the raids as a foursome. We’re all equally wanted by the law. It isn’t your freedom or good name that’s at stake. It’s each of us; we’re all Farrells. Pa started this whole thing out saying that we had a duty to avenge all the wrongs perpetrated under the guise of war. He said, and I’ve heard you make the same statement, it’s our duty as Farrell men.” He paused and glanced at Joe, who nodded agreement. The back of Michael’s head was all he could see and from his stance, Dan had to assume he had his support. He continued. “Now, how come our duty is over, but your duty is to take the biggest risk of all? By yourself. How come?”
“Before I give my reasons, I want to hear from all of you. Mike?” Michael didn’t answer right away. “Michael?”
Michael raised his head and turned to face his brothers. He began slowly. “I think you’re wrong, Jim. You’re making us feel unimportant, inadequate, not your equal. You’re giving us a worry that gnaws at our guts.” Jim grimaced. Michael’s voice got stronger. “But, somehow, someway you’ve always been there for me and come through for me when I’ve been flat-assed stupid.” Jim felt some hope. The other two leaned forward in disbelief. “Like I said, I think you’re wrong. That we should face this together, but I reckon I’ll support your plan.”
“What?” The question was a chorus from two of his brothers. Jim smiled his thanks.
“Mike, what the hell?” It was Joe. “You, of any of us, should realize how we need each other.”
“Yes. I do.” Michael turned to Dan. “He needs our support.” He turned back to Joe. “He needs peace of mind. To keep his mind clear.”
Joe shook his head in disbelief. “I don’t believe this!”
“Yeah, Mike.” Dan looked at Mike as if he were a stranger. “How can you …how will you … Christ. I don’t believe this either.”
Not one of the four could think of a thing to say. Jim looked from brother to brother. They had disagreed and argued before, sometimes had words, but it usually ended with each respecting the other’s final point of view. He couldn’t remember any other time when he had looked across at brothers whose faces reflected such animosity. He broke the silence.
“Listen. Please? This is so important to all of us and to those we love. Hell, you three know that I’d trust you with my life in the blink of an eye. A man couldn’t have finer brothers, never has.” Joe and Dan wore faces of stone. “I sure don’t want to be a sacrifice. And, if I thought that’s what I’d be I wouldn’t be giving this a second thought. But think! This could be it. We could be free. Free to move back to the States. And most important, Pa’s name would be cleared.” Their silence hurt his heart. He continued. “Look at us. We’re not the country gentlemen of Summerville anymore. We’re men of the West. Even in a citified suit, people would identify us as rugged men of the West. If the four of us arrived in Washington as a group and walked into that courtroom, it would be intimidating. It could affect the thinking of the Congressmen. Would they view all Rebs as a threat? Remember, we’re still held in great disdain in many northern cities.” Dan was biting his lip, but Joe had lowered his eyes. “One man dressed in city clothes wouldn’t be so intimidating. They may be more inclined to listen objectively to our complaints and rationale.”
“We agreed years ago. We’d watch each other’s backs.” Joe challenged.
“Joe, listen to me. You will be watching my back. I need to count on your support, your input.”
“It’s not enough for me. I’m your partner. Partners share the rewards and the risks.”
Jim sighed. It was killing him to be at odds with his best friend. He wanted to say, “Alright, come on,” but he had to consider the whole family. He needed to do this alone. “Partners know when to back off.” His inner turmoil put a dismissive edge to his voice.
Joe misinterpreted. He stepped back as if struck. “Go to hell!” He turned and stormed away.
Jim went after him. “Joe. Stop. Let’s talk some more.”
Joe was already mounted. He pulled his horse up in front of his brothers. “Go on, Mr. I don’t need anyone. Go it alone.” He turned to Michael and Dan with a look of disgust, then looked back at the brother he loved more than anyone in the world. “Go on. Save the Farrell family. You self-righteous son of a bitch.” He jerked his horse, applied his spurs and sped away.
“Joe! Joe!” Jim called to the retreating back of his brother. Realizing that Joe wasn’t listening or coming back, Jim felt a wave of nausea rise from his gut to his throat. He bent over and swallowed hard to keep the bile down. “Jesus. Oh, God. Why can’t he see it? Why can’t he see it?”
Michael nudged Dan to get the horses, then put his hand on Jim’s shoulder. “He’s been with you since the beginning. It’s harder for him. He’ll work it out. I’ll talk to him. Besides, you know Joe. He’ll do something to work out his frustration and anger and probably beat us home for supper.”
Jim shook his head. “I don’t think so. Not this time.” He turned and faced his kid brothers. Michael tried for a grim smile, but Dan was sullen as he handed Jim the reins. These normally companionable brothers didn’t share another word all the way back to town.
(to be continued)
Sharon Poppen ( ) has won awards from Arizona Authors Assoc. and National League of American Pen Women. Her western novels After the War, Before the Peace, Hannah and Abby-Finding More Than Gold are available at Amazon Books, most web based book sellers and from her website. Her work has appeared in such publications as A Flasher’s Dozen, Desert Treasures, Skive, Offerings from the Oasis, A Long Story Short, Apollo Lyre and Laughter Loaf. Her workshops on Journaling, Short Story Writing and Blogging bring rave reviews. Sharon is a member of Lake Havasu City Writer’s Group. Her gay/sci-fi novel Regardless will be available in print and ebook the fall of 2012.
List of Published Novels
After the War, Before the Peace
Abby-Finding More Than Gold
Regardless (due out fall 2012)
This is a stop on the Best Ever Summer Blog Tour.
Eight authors in mixed genres trading blog space for eight weeks for your enjoyment. Someone on the blog tour is giving a prize every week – this week find me, Regina Andrews, with Ann Tracy Marr at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ann-Tracy-Marr/114711658247?ref=ts
There will be a grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift certificate awarded at the end of the tour. Enjoy the blogs and leave comments for the opportunity to be the grand prize winner. One entry ticket per comment!
Want to continue the tour? Here’s a list of the blogs:
Ann Tracy Marr -
Susan Roebuck - http://lauracea.blogspot.com
Sharon Poppen -http://poppensthoughtsonwritingandstuff.blogspot.com
Regan Taylor - http://regantaylorsworld.blogspot.com
Corinne Davies - www.daviesromance.blogspot.com
Regina Andrews - http://reginaandrews.wordpress.com
Christine London – www.christinelondon.com
Lynn Hones - lynnhones.wordpress.com