Ann Brodeur

Author of Sweet Hope and Happy Endings

Page 2 of 40

The Edge of Belonging

BOOK REVIEW

BOOK BY: Amanda Cox

Tissue alert! This novel will tug at your heart strings and tears may flow – especially as the story comes to an end.

This is the first time I’ve read something by Amanda Cox and it definitely won’t be the last.

amandacoxwrites.com/books

I love the author’s engaging voice. She was able to pull me right into her story world as she recounts the early beginnings of an abandoned baby who earns the name of Ivy. The story bounces between her tragic start and her life as a twenty-four year old counsellor – her first few months of life of which she is blissfully unaware.

The death of her grandmother provides Ivy with the chance to escape an abusive relationship and learn about the power of love, strength of family and how our humble beginnings can shape the rest of our lives.

Each character is so wonderfully created that each one goes through something the reader can relate to. A devoted pastoral couple struggling with infertility. A widowed mother who lost her son to suicide and her husband to cancer. A homeless man who becomes a ghost in the night so no child – or person – will ever feel alone when tragedy strikes.

I could gush about this story, but it’s best if you go grab a copy for yourself.

You won’t regret it.

I received an ecopy from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

To Plan or Not To Plan: Starting Your Novel

From idea to publication: The journey of a published novel

I am a planner. I always have been and always will be. Planning is a huge part of my life.

The careers I have chosen (or fallen into) are ones where planning is crucial. If I didn’t plan properly, it meant someone didn’t get paid or the organization lost more money than it made. Someone could miss a flight or not get picked up from the airport. Other bookings could cost money or be the cause of cancelling an event if I didn’t plan properly. Deadlines missed. And the list goes on.

photo by pixababy
Planning and Plotting
Photo by pixabay

There are all kinds of ways to write a novel. Books about plotting, books about pantsing (aka “winging it”), and resources about plantsing (plotting and pantsing together) abound. There is no one way to write a novel – except to sit in your chair and get it done.

But seriously whatever works for you is likely the best method for you.

At the time I started working through my idea of SNOWBOUND IN WINTERBERRY FALLS, I relied heavily on the resources I’d discovered through countless hours of reading writer forums, blogs and articles on the craft of writing.

One resource that continually popped up was Gwen Hayes’s ROMANCING THE BEAT. She was a romance editor at a time where the genre was really starting to take off and she’d noticed a pattern in the successful novels her imprint published (successful being high volume of sales). These books had what she broke down into “beats”. There are 25 of them.

Yes. That many.

Character sketching

Another idea I came across was creating character sketches prior to figuring out your story. Some authors suggest using a Proust questionnaire . I tried it – for this book anyway. It was a bit complicated at first and it was really strange “interviewing my characters”, but you know what? A crucial piece of my story came from that “interview”.

So I won’t knock it entirely.

Since then I’ve found another method I like better (check out Susan May Warren’s The Story Equation).

With a two page outline of the general story, I set to work on the romance beats and filled in what I could. The beats combined with the character sketches gave me enough to go on to feel confident about starting my second manuscript.

Once I had about half of the beats filled out, I opened a new Scrivener file and began typing:

CHAPTER ONE…

If you’re a writer, are you a plotter, pantser or plantser?

Her Secret Song (Brides of Hope Mountain 3)

BOOK REVIEW

BOOK BY: Mary Connealy

A happy conclusion with all the loose ends tied neatly in a bow for fans of Brides of Hope Mountain by Mary Connealy.

Oldest Nodegren sister Ursula finally gets her story and readers have the chance to see what makes her tick. Overcoming fears is a huge theme in this novel and Ursula has fears in spades. After a long winter isolated alone in her stone house carved into the mountain, she ventures out – curious about the world that has enticed her two youngest sisters away. On her way to the edge of the mountain she discovers an injured man and her fears can be put to rest – at least for a while.

Wax Mosby is a man in need of forgiveness. In need of a change and boy does he get it! When the spring thaw starts to come, Wax decides to climb the mountain to find the family his boss wants to run off the land. What he didn’t see coming was the mysterious gunslingers riding into the ranch he just vacated. A gun fight leaves Wax injured, precariously hanging from the side of the mountain.

Ursula and Wax’s story is a beautiful story of rescuing each other. Their worlds are so different, yet both of them struggle with fears the other can relate to.

Our happy couples from books one and two reappear and married life seems to suit each of them well. As all join forces for the ultimate battle, strength lies in numbers – but also in the silence of the Nodregren women.

An epilogue ties the series together and answers the one question the girls had been searching for: whatever happened to their parents when they left the mountain?

This book could be read as a stand-alone, but I highly recommend reading the first two books before enjoying the final instalment.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

Something Worth Doing (A Novel of an Early Suffragist)

BOOK REVIEW

BOOK BY: Jane Kirkpatrick

It’s been 100 years since women have had the vote in the US, so the novel seemed to be a timely theme.

Descriptions of Oregon are lovely and easy to picture. It’s not hard to imagine the isolation one would feel in the early settlement days. The story was also well researched.

The back cover had caught my attention and so I was excited to dig into the story. I’m sure it’s a difficult task bringing an historical figure to life in a fictional account. There were moments where the characters shone, but most of the time I had a difficult time connecting with Jenny or Abigail. She had a challenging life in months prior to the opening of the story, but at times she tended to whine more than get things done. I would have liked the romance part to take more time than what was given – though I understand the need to move into the meatier parts of Abigail’s story and that the romance wasn’t the main element (though her husband is very, very sweet!).

In the end, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I hoped I would. Still, the author did a tremendous job in researching and sprinkling enough details throughout the novel so as to not overload the reader’s mind with facts.

I received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

From Idea to Publication: The Journey of a Published Novel

A Series on My Journey to Publication

When I first started on this journey to publication, I hadn’t realized how much work goes on behind the scenes before the finished product hits bookshelves or virtual shelves. So I thought I’d take some time to talk about the process and pull back the curtain on a very long, but rewarding, process.

SNOWBOUND IN WINTERBERRY FALLS is due to release on November 20, 2020. The idea for the story started back in mid-2018. I’d just finished writing my first novel and had entered it in several contests and submitted it to various publishers. While I was waiting for responses, this idea about a Christmas story was germinating.

THE IDEA

I love Christmas stories and am known to read them in October right up until New Years, so the idea of a new holiday story intrigued me. I also needed something to focus on while I was waiting for responses. The initial idea was triggered by a Facebook post someone had shared about a resort that does Christmas all year round in New England. I followed a rabbit trail and discovered a month-long holiday festival celebrated in Middlebury, Vermont which starts November 30 and continues right through December 31.

What a fun setting and event to work through a story!

Photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels

I began asking questions. Having been an event planner for much of my career, I wondered how the event planners would handle things going wrong or disappearing all together. It sure would throw a wrench in the plans! In a place that does Christmas better than any other in New England, why would someone want to destroy the festival or at least the appearance of wanting to destroy it? And who would be able to get to the bottom of the mystery?

I probably have answered those questions quite differently than others would have. You’ll just have to read the story when it comes out in November to see how I handled them!

Have an idea? Start asking questions and see where your story takes you.

Next time, we’ll talk about plotting or pantsing or plantsing.

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