The Bright Side of Darkness by J. E. Pinto

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I want to thank Jo Elizabeth Pinto for her post about her book The Bright Side of Darkness.

I recently came across an intriguing prompt for authors interested in sharing their books. The prompt was, “Write a diary entry from the point of view of a character in your novel.”

As Alice Mills bends over the table in her cheery kitchen with the flowered wallpaper, intent on filling a page in her journal, the early morning sun falls across her graying hair. She wears a faded cotton nightgown, and a neglected cup of coffee has turned cold beside her.

September 8, 1986

This morning began like any other Saturday, except I must have been real tired because I didn’t hear Walter get up and go out to the pool. So he’d already come in from swimming laps and started the coffee before I made it to the kitchen. He was flipping through the local newspaper the way he always does. I was about to get him a lemon bar or two I’d brought home from the ladies’ tea at church yesterday, and then he saw something at the back of the paper that put him on a tear!

I couldn’t piece it all together, but it had to do with Rick Myers, the orphan Walter sent to the reformatory a few weeks ago. He came home awful broken up about it that night. The poor kid’s folks had died in a car wreck a few months back, and then to tragically lose his girlfriend while he was trying his best to keep her safe … it really was too much. But there had been alcohol in his blood, and he’d been driving recklessly, even if his reasons were justified. Sometimes being a judge is a heartbreaking job. Walter can’t bring home all the lost boys who need us, So he did what needed doing.

But something must have gone as wrong as it could go at the reform school, because all at once, my unflappable husband jumped up from the kitchen table like he’d been sitting on a mound of fire ants. He bolted for the bedroom, dialing up the head of the reformatory as he went, and the way he lit into that man, Alvin Kingston, well, I was glad to be safe in my own kitchen and not on the other end of the phone line.

Quick like a bunny, Walter came out of the bedroom in a white shirt and dress slacks instead of his bathrobe, still spitting nails about Alvin Kingston. He told me he was going to the hospital to deal with the Myers boy, so I know something awful must have happened. I made sure to settle him down–he needed to forget about Alvin Kingston and focus his attention where it really mattered.

Speaking of focusing, I better put aside this silly diary and get busy. We’ll probably have a new boy living with us again. The bedroom where my baby Arthur grew up never stays empty too long.

What is a family? For Rick Myers, a despondent seventeen-year-old who has just lost his parents in a car wreck, it’s the four teenage buddies he’s grown up with in a run-down apartment building. Fast with their fists, flip with their mouths, and loyal to a fault, the “crew” is all he has.

At least, he thinks so until he meets Daisy, an intelligent, independent, self-assured blind girl. Her guts in a world where she’s often painfully vulnerable intrigue Rick, and her hopeful outlook inspires him to begin believing in himself.

But when the dark side of Daisy’s past catches up with her, tragedy scatters the crew and severely tests Rick’s resolve to build his promising future. Fortunately, his life is touched by a couple with a pay-it-forward attitude, forged out of their personal struggle with grief and loss. Their support makes all the difference to Rick and eventually, through him, to the ones he holds most dear as they face their own challenges. The Bright Side of Darkness is a story of redemption and the ultimate victory that comes from the determination of the human spirit.

I was among the first blind students to integrate the public schools in the 1970s. In 1992, I received a degree in Human Services from the University of Northern Colorado. While teaching students how to use adaptive technology, I earned a second degree in 2004 from the Metropolitan State College of Denver in Nonprofit Management. These days, I freelance as an editor and a braille proofreader.

As an author, I entertain my readers while giving them food for thought. In my fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, I draw on personal experience to illustrate that hope is always an action away.

I live in Colorado with my husband, my preteen daughter, and our pets.

To find out more about my books and me, please visit my Website at https://www.brightsideauthor.com.

Twitter: @BrightSideAU

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorjepinto/

You can purchase her books on Amazon

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Thank you again to Jo Elizabeth Pinto!

If any authors would like to publicize their books on my blog, please reach me by email: frenchc1955@yahoo.com

What Are You Reading?

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We are well into the month of June, and I was wondering what everyone was reading. Reading is one of the great pleasures in life, one in which I constantly indulge.

The spring semester is over, but the summer sessions of classes have already begun at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, and I am excited that I am teaching a course called Science Fiction & Fantasy. In that course, we have already covered Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling, and we are now doing American Gods by Neil Gaiman.

In addition to rereading those books, I am also reading Next To last Stand by Craig Johnson, While The Bombs Fell by Robbie Cheadle & Elsie Hancy Eaton, and Celtic Myth and Religion by Sharon Paice MacLeod.

So, I ask everyone out there: what are you reading now?

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(Photo by Janko Ferlic on Pexels.com)

A Writing Workshop: Get The Draft Done! Helping Writers Finish Their First Draft With Charles F. French

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I am very pleased to announce that I will be giving a 3 hour writing event, focusing on my book Get The Draft Done! Helping Writers Finish Their First Draft on June 13th from 1:30-4:30 p.m. This event will be an interactive workshop specifically designed to give assistance to writers who have difficulties finishing their first drafts of their WIP.

It is sponsored by The Writers’ Community of York Region, and a link can be found here: Get The Draft Done! Workshop with Charles F. French

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If you are a writer who has difficulty with drafting, then consider attending this event, so I can help you with applicable and actionable ideas and exercises.

Remember, the most important draft of a work is the first draft; without that one, no revision can occur.

Available on Amazon

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Get The Draft Done! is available here: Amazon.com

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Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

coverIPScookbook

Available on Amazon

French On English

Available on Amazon

 

A New Addition To The U.L.S., The Underground Library Society: Ashley Clayton and her book of choice, Jane Eyre

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I want to welcome Ashley Clayton as the newest member of the U. L. S., The Underground Library Society. This is an unofficial organization dedicated to the preservation of books, and it was created in one of my First Year College Composition Classes at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA.  It is based on the Book People from Ray Bradbury’s classic novel Fahrentheit 451.  To join, a writer creates a post about a book he/she would become if they needed to in order to save it. They do not actually have to memorize it though.

When I first watched Jane Eyre[1] by Charlotte Brontë several years ago, I felt I had stumbled upon a pearl necklace left on a tree branch. I had never heard of the novel before, surprisingly—and I still wonder why it wasn’t included on my school reading lists, alongside The Scarlet Letter and Crime and Punishment. Jane is a protagonist I closely relate to, while still finding her differences complex and intriguing. We’re both introverts and artists, we tend to observe humans from afar and would prefer our own company over most people. Jane is also compassionate and does not let her circumstances overcome her fortitude—qualities I greatly admire in other people.

Jane is orphaned as an infant and grows up in an emotionally (and sometimes physically) abusive home. Her Aunt Reed is jealous of the girl and tends to overlook her plights while doting on her three spoiled and vindictive children. After Jane is struck by her older cousin John and she defends herself, she is sent to the red-room in the mansion—a scene which introduces the supernatural theme found throughout the novel. This is the room reportedly haunted by Jane’s dead uncle, and she begs to be released. Abandoned and injured, she falls ill and faints from her panic.

An apothecary is called to the home to see to Jane. Actual physicians, you see, were reserved only for the immediate family—Jane and the servants only saw the apothecary. The man recommends Mrs. Reed to send Jane away to Lowood Institute—an act disguised as charity while tidily securing the girl’s education and ongoing care, and thus eventual livelihood. This is the turning point of Jane’s young life.

Lowood was a harsh and cold place, the food poor and scant, but here Jane is given a chance to learn and develop her talents and abilities. Jane would adapt well and excel in her studies, while learning to survive within the austere school. Jane was already a resilient child from living with her aunt and cousins, and this trait became sharper at Lowood. After her classmate (and only friend) Helen dies, Jane is left alone to navigate the rest of her years at the school.

After Jane finishes her education and teaches at Lowood, she advertises for outside employment and is accepted to work at Thornfield Hall as a governess— “a fine old hall, rather neglected of late years perhaps” as Jane is told. Here she meets the estate’s proprietor, her master—a Mr. Edward Rochester. His life parallels in some ways to Jane’s: he lost a parent (his mother) early in life, his now deceased father was distant and neglectful, and he only inherited the estate after his elder brother’s untimely death. He is also the ward of a Ms. Adèle, a young French child who becomes Jane’s pupil—the third central orphan of the story.[2]

Jane Eyre is a story of injustices, sorrows and resiliency—a story filled with complex moral decisions and vulnerabilities. It is a story of characters struggling along in unfortunate circumstances, trying to find an existence where some sliver of hope and light might be found. Mr. Rochester and Jane find this hope in each other, but only after fire, tragic death and mutual forgiveness. The ending of Jane Eyre is not perfect—the author does not allow for a perfect ending. But the reader is left with a glimpse of a hopeful future and a sense of redemption for mostly everyone involved. And Jane considers herself “supremely blest” at the close of her story.

Jane Eyre is often categorized as a romance novel. While romance is a central theme of the story, I do not believe that is all Jane Eyre should be considered as. And perhaps that is why the novel was not included on my school reading lists. No, Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece is, I believe, one story about what it means to be human and to find yourself in imprisoning circumstances, and ultimately how to live through continued suffering, albeit imperfectly. Charlotte knew these things well herself—her mother, too, died when she was a child and two of her elder sisters died from tuberculosis contracted at school, just as Helen did at Lowood. Jane Eyre is a story of one woman’s strength as she discovers what love, grace and forgiveness truly entail. It is a novel I want alongside me in my life, preserved always for future generations. It is, by no exaggeration, one of the greatest works of literature ever written, and greatly appreciated by myself.

Thank you for reading.

[1] Specifically, the 2006 BBC miniseries starring Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens.

[2] It is unclear who Adèle’s father is and whether he may still be alive. Her father may be Mr. Rochester, or more likely, another man who Adèle’s mother was involved with during (or shortly after) she was Mr. Rochester’s mistress. Either way, I still consider Adèle an orphan, if not legally, then spiritually.

Thank you to Ashley Clayton for joining the U. L. S.

Please be sure to visit her website A. R. Clayton.

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Please Help Me on #PitMad On Thursday 6/3/2021

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Please!

Hello everyone! This may sound like an odd request, but tomorrow I am participating in #PitMad on Twitter, a day long event in which authors tweet a pitch for a book to agents.

If any of you have Twitter, please consider retweeting my pinned tweet, which I will put up tomorrow morning around 8 a.m. EST.

My Twitter handle is @French_C1955

This is also important– DO NOT LIKE THE PITCH–that is for agents to let writers know they are interested in your work.

The tweet will be for my horror novel The Curse Of The Demon Mine. 

It will look something like this:

It x Stranger Things x The Magicians

In 1957 S. Dakota teens Dancer, Micah, and James fight a monster threatening their beloved teacher. To save him, and the magical realm, they must defeat homicidal bullies and supernatural threats, controlled by the creature. #PitMad #YA #DF

Again, thank you to all!

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A Review of The Investigative Paranormal Society Cookbook by Charles F. French

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Available on Amazon

 

Thank you to Robbie Cheadle for this lovely review of my little cookbook! Please be sure to visit her wonderful websites: Robbie Cheadle Books/Poems/Reviews and Robbie’s inspiration

I have read all three books in The Investigative Paranormal Society series and the cookbook is an added bonus. Each recipe is contributed by a specific character from the series and is introduced with an overview of that character’s contribution to a specific book and the series as a whole.

I enjoyed reading a little more about my favourite characters in the more relaxed and culinary setting provided by this cookbook.

The cookbook offers a wide range of recipes, all of which are reasonably simple to make and cover the full spectrum of appetizers, main course and side dishes, desserts, and even drinks. The drinks was rather a fun addition for me, and I was pleased to find some great recipes for cocktails including Helen’s Bethberg Iced Tea and Jeremy’s Mint Julep Mocktail (non alcoholic).

From the appetizers, Helen’s Grape and Walnut Side Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing grabbed my attention. I love walnuts and anything involving blue cheese. This salad is certainly a bit different and slightly sophisticated, and would certainly add to any dinner party.

The main course and side dishes range from the fun Roosevelt’s Cheeseburgers and Panfried Vegetables to the more unusual Sam’s Chicken Paprikash to Roosevelt’s Baked Beans. I am pleased to have this last recipe as homemade Baked Beans often come up in American literature and I’ve never tasted them. Now I will be able to try this dish.

The desserts all sound delicious and I am keen to try Roosevelt’s Bread Pudding and Whiskey Sauce and Sarah’s Irish Stout Brownies.

Overall, this book is a great introduction to the memorable characters in this terrific series and is also a useful recipe book with some delicious sounding recipes.

Available on Amazon

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Get The Draft Done! is available here: Amazon.com

GallowsHillFinalCoverEbook

Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

32570160

Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

coverIPScookbook

Available on Amazon

French On English

Available on Amazon

May Self-Promotion Party!

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Hello everyone! It’s past mid-May, the weather is turning warmer, and it’s time for a self-promotion party!

Be proud of your writing!

Share your book(s) with the world!

Be your own best publicist!

To help as many as possible see your work, reblog, like, and follow others.

Available on Amazon

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Get The Draft Done! is available here: Amazon.com

GallowsHillFinalCoverEbook

Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

32570160

Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

coverIPScookbook

Available on Amazon

French On English

Available on Amazon

A New Addition to the U.L.S., The Underground Library Society: Andrew McDowell and Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

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I am delighted to welcome Andrew McDowell to the U. L. S., The Underground Library Society! This is an unofficial organization dedicated to the preservation of books, and it was created in one of my First Year College Composition Classes at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA.  It is based on the Book People from Ray Bradbury’s classic novel Fahrentheit 451.  To join, a writer creates a post about a book he/she would become if they needed to in order to save it. They do not actually have to memorize it though. 

Here is Andrew McDowell’s post:

Christmas is my favorite holiday, and one Christmas story I’ve always enjoyed is Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, written and published in 1843. I’ve seen many movie adaptations, from the Muppet version starring Michael Caine to the 1951 and 1991 versions starring Alastair Sim and Patrick Stewart, respectively. My favorite is indisputably the 1984 version starring George C. Scott. I even starred as a Cratchit kid in a theater production in high school (though I really wanted to play Jacob Marley). Throughout it all, the story has struck a chord with me.

Ebenezer Scrooge cares for no one and nothing beyond advancing business and hoarding money. He dismisses the poor, his own nephew, and his clerk Bob Cratchit, whom he lets have Christmas Day off with the greatest possible reluctance. But on Christmas Eve, the ghost of his deceased business partner, Marley, who is suffering and carrying a ponderous chain in death for having lived the same life of greed and selfishness, comes to tell him he has a chance to escape the same fate.

The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come respectively show Scrooge how he came to reject the world and his own heart, how those around him—including Bob and his sickly yet beloved son Tiny Tim—are sharing love and affection through Christmas, and what will happen to them—and himself—if he does not change. Finally Scrooge proclaims he is not the man he was, and that he will honor Christmas in his heart and remember the lessons he has learned.

Simply put, A Christmas Carol is about redemption. Scrooge acknowledges men’s courses will result in certain ends, but those ends will change if their courses do. This story shows us no matter how far we have fallen, if we choose to change, we can still be redeemed. Scrooge rebuilds his relationships with his nephew and Bob Cratchit, and he becomes a second father to Tiny Tim, who is really the heart and soul of the book. Scrooge is described as thereafter knowing how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.

A Christmas Carol may not have Santa Claus, Christmas trees, cards, or presents, but it does have many essential blessings that are essential to Christmas: home, food, family, love, and charity. This book has been credited as redefining Christmas for the modern world. It is said that an American businessman, after hearing Dickens read it, decided to give his employees Christmas Day off. A Christmas Carol teaches hope and faith. It shows the best in humanity, what humanity is capable of, and reminds readers that the well-being of all is everyone’s business.

Thank you to Andrew McDowell for this post! Please visit his website: Andrew McDowell An Author of Many Parts

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A New Book–A Year In The Life of Belinda Brand–by Lucinda E. Clarke!

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I am very happy to announce that Lucinda E. Clarke has a new book coming out! Please check out her work and her website and blog!

Lucinda Clarke Book

WRITING TO MARKET

No one told me when I morphed from TV scripting to scribbling books that I should choose a genre and stick with it. Stephen King did it, Wilbur Smith did it and all the other writer ‘household names’ did it.

Lucinda E Clarke didn’t.

Not, because I was being difficult, but because I didn’t know any better. I can’t remember all the topics I wrote and filmed over the decades, from health to housing, to voting, manufacturing, educational subjects, finance, dramas, plays, corporate, council and so on and so on. You name it I’ve written a programme about it, and, that even includes splitting the atom.

I followed the advice I’d heard a hundred times over, ‘Write what you know’. So, I did. I knew Africa, and making movies and writing for a living, along with all the other hair-raising adventures living in 8, or was it 9 different countries?

Memoirs out of the way, I dived in and wrote books that one reviewer called ‘The new, modern Wilbur Smith’.

I scribbled on to write 5 more African books: adventure stories, wild animals, political coups, civil war, bombs and child trafficking, there was never a dull moment for my heroine Amie as she struggled to rescue and survive.

Then I took a step back – I think it had something to do with the argument when I began laying a place for Amie at the dinner table. That, was a step too far.

So, I dreamed up a new character, Leah. I kept her in England and proceeded to torture her in a psychological way. I gave her an abusive husband, a nightmare stepdaughter and a scheming best friend.

To my amazement, A Year in the Life of Leah Brand outsold all my other books and then some.

Why? It dawned on me that I was writing to market. It’s what readers are looking for right now. Psychological thrillers are the flavour of the month. I know this because BookBub have offered to send out a new-release email for me to all their psychological thriller readers for a mere $950.

The other current genre favourite is cosy mysteries, the kind where the heroine bakes cupcakes, rescues kittens from trees  and solves murders where the victims die peacefully, no one bleeds to death, and their limbs aren’t chopped off.

Two more books A Year in the Life of…  followed, and have also been popular, but I have made two more enormous mistakes.

As I began the last chapter of Leah, I still hadn’t decided which person was to blame. Who was the villain? So, I suggested two possibilities. Some readers didn’t like that, so, I’ve now included the beginning of book 2 at the end which should reassure them. Hopefully they will read that far. Now, readers have part of the answer.

Error number two: I made Leah a little too passive, for booklovers who cry out for a kick-ass woman who’ll take on all the men and leave them in a pool of tears clutching a certain part of their anatomy in the middle of the street.

I had emails telling me how much everyone loved Belinda, the sassy, out of control teenager. So now, she has her own adventure in a brand-new book.

Sure, she faces some very unpleasant characters and challenges, but she takes it in her stride, well up to a point that is. I did let her cry when she was buried alive – but then you would, wouldn’t you?

A Year in the Life of Belinda Brand is out this Friday, and along with every book in the series is priced at $/£ 0.99 as times are hard for many of us right now.

Belinda wrote a book during lockdown and it’s become a bestseller, winning a major award to the delight of her agent and publishers. It’s snapped up by Hollywood to be made into a blockbuster film, and she is catapulted into the limelight.

But Belinda has a secret and someone is threatening to tell and not only end her dreams but take her life as well.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08HM5FX3N

LClarkebooks

Lucinda E. Clarke’s webpage

Lucinda E. Clarke’s blog

Amazon author page  author.to/Lucinda

Twitter: @LucindaEClarke 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lucindaeclarke.author

 

 

Conversations With Characters

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Recently, I was thinking about which 2 or 3 fictional characters I would like to sit down with over coffee, tea, or beer and with whom I would like to have a conversation.  When I first thought about it, I believed it would be an easy choice to make, but then I realized that there were so many that I would have to do this in parts. I would love to have conversations with so many different characters.

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For the initial meeting, I thought I would extend an invitation to Merlin from Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur, Gandalf from J.R.R.Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, (not from The Hobbit), and Dumbledore from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series to join me over beer, mead, or even butterbeer, if that were preferable at a nice Public House.  I chose  these characters because they are central figures in three works that are deeply important to me, not only from the perspective of study but also from the enormous pleasure I have had from reading these works. I have taught all of them in different classes, and I love to reread these writings over the years.

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I am fascinated by the connection among the three of them, all wizards in tales of British mythology. Among the questions I would want to ask would be: Do you see a connection among yourselves? Do you approve of your portrayals in the writings? and Are you descended from the Druids?

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I think this would be a lively and enjoyable conversation, although if too much was drunk, I wonder what inebriated and arguing wizards would be like.

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Who would you invite to such an event?  I would love to hear your choices.