I’m pleased to welcome Corinna Chong, author of Belinda’s Rings to the blog today. Belinda’s Rings is a coming of age story and I just adore those and simply can’t wait to read this one. Corinna is joining us with a wonderful guest post on motherhood and her novel and just in time for Mother’s Day too! Enjoy…
My first novel, Belinda’s Rings, begins with a mishap involving a crowded supermarket, a rambunctious toddler named Squid, and a dirty diaper. It opens: “Squid’s got three mothers who can’t spank him.” As you might guess, ‘the joys of motherhood’ represents one of the major themes of my novel.
However, the mothers in this novel are far from conventional. This is the story of a precocious teenager named Grace who must struggle to keep her family together when her mother, Belinda, flies off on a trip to study crop circles in the English countryside. As the much older siblings of their six-year-old brother (nicknamed Squid), Grace and her sister take on a heavy responsibility for his upbringing, toeing the line between the roles of sister and mother.
Grace is not (technically) a mother. Neither am I. But as I was writing this novel, I was interested in exploring the complexities of motherhood – how the meaning of ‘mother’ can transcend strict definitions of ‘child-bearer’ and reflect the emotional and psychological ties between a caregiver and a child. In this book, being a mother is about being tied to a child by an invisible string – one that can be unraveled and pulled, beyond the door of the home, out into the world, tangling itself in trees and telephone poles, stretching across oceans and over mountains. Delicate as silk, but unbreakable. While Belinda might be perceived on the surface as a villain when she effectively abandons her children to live out a frivolous fantasy, her journey in fact becomes as much about her family as it is about herself; indeed, the two cannot be easily separated. And for Grace, even while in the throes of adolescence, her unique bond with her brother becomes a vital part of her self- discovery. The ability, even inescapability, of seeing a child as an extension of oneself, is what truly defines both Grace and Belinda as mothers.
What fascinates me most, however, is the courage that mothers must summon to look across the expanse and see their children so far away, mere dots on the edge of the landscape. As Grace eventually comes to realize,
To a mother, there’s nothing more nerve-wracking than realizing that your kid is an entirely separate person. You don’t even know it, but for the longest time you think of that kid as a part of you, like an extra arm or leg. But really, there’s a space between you and him that you’ll never be able to reach through. A no-man’s land. And that means that no matter what you do, your kid’s life is out of your control.
For Grace as well as Belinda, recognizing this space makes her no less a complete person; rather, she becomes infinitely more complex. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about mothers in writing this novel, it’s that they cannot be reduced, even as they drift further away. Our mothers are like planets, a shade brighter than the stars; they orbit around us always, yet carry on as part of some other, unknowable galaxy.
About Belinda’s Rings
Half-Asian teenager Grace (but she’d prefer it if you called her “Gray” instead) is dead set on becoming a marine biologist rather than being anything like her mother, Belinda. She’d leave that role to her sister Jess instead, who’s a supermom-in-the-making.
Belinda herself is somewhat obsessed as well, by crop circle books and imagery, and abruptly runs out on her family, flying across the Atlantic in order to study the real thing in the English countryside. Grace and her sister are left alone to take care of the house, their rapidly-deteriorating stepfather and their peculiar brother, Squid.
Belinda’s Rings links together the coming of age of a young biracial woman with the mid-life crisis of her mother. With warmth, kindness and a boisterous sense of humour Corinna Chong introduces us to two lovable and thoroughly original female protagonists: persnickety, precocious Grace, and her impractical, impulsive mother Belinda — very different women who nevertheless persistently circle back into each other’s hearts.
About Corinna Chong
Calgary-born Corinna Chong is a writer, editor, and graphic designer based out of Kelowna, B.C. Her writing has appeared in Grain, NoD, Echolocation and The Malahat Review. She currently teaches English Literature at Okanagan College and edits Ryga: A Journal of Provocations.
Note: The publisher of this Belinda’s Rings, NeWest Press, just had a first-time novelist from their small publishing house win a major literary prize, the Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour (for DANCE, GLADYS, DANCE). Check out the story here.
GIVEAWAY DETAILS (US/Canada)
I have one copy of Belinda’s Rings by Corinna Chong to share with my readers. To enter…
- For 1 entry leave me a comment entering the giveaway.
- For 2 entries follow my blog. If you already do let me know so I can pass the extra entry on to you as well.
- Tweet, like on Facebook, or blog this giveaway for 3 entries.
This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents (no PO boxes) and I will draw for the winner on Saturday, May 25/13. Good luck!
Please help me in welcoming M.J. Rose, author of Seduction to the blog today! I reviewed Seduction yesterday (my review) and loved it! This novel has all the elements I love with ghosts, mythology, and a suspenseful storyline that will give you the shivers. I hope you’ll enjoy the excerpt from Seduction that M.J. Rose is sharing with us today…
“The power of a glance has been so much abused in love stories, that it has come to be disbelieved in. Few people dare now to say that two beings have fallen in love because they have looked at each other. Yet it is in this way that love begins, and in this way only.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
Excerpt from SEDUCTION
Theo wasn’t handsome as much as striking. Tall and skinny. His sun-streaked hair was pulled back off his face in a ponytail that exaggerated his already prominent cheekbones and broad forehead. The eyes that were unabashedly examining her were a pale blue, watered down as if tears had drained them of most of their color. He had a haunted expression on his face.
Jac had felt as if he was a magnet and she was a heap of helpless slivers of iron. She’d never before met someone she was drawn to so swiftly, and her response surprised her.
In 1843, novelist Victor Hugo’s beloved nineteen-year-old daughter drowned. Ten years later, Hugo began participating in hundreds of séances to reestablish contact with her. In the process, he claimed to have communed with the likes of Plato, Galileo, Shakespeare, Dante, Jesus—and even the Devil himself. Hugo’s transcriptions of these conversations have all been published. Or so it was believed.
Recovering from her own losses, mythologist Jac L’Etoile arrives on the Isle of Jersey—where Hugo conducted the séances—hoping to uncover a secret about the island’s Celtic roots. But the man who’s invited her there, a troubled soul named Theo Gaspard, has hopes she’ll help him discover something quite different—Hugo’s lost conversations with someone called the Shadow of the Sepulcher.
What follows is an intricately plotted and atmospheric tale of suspense with a spellbinding ghost story at its heart, by one of America’s most gifted and imaginative novelists.
Follow the Book Tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
Read an Excerpt
About M.J. Rose
M.J. Rose is the international best selling author of eleven novels and two non-fiction books on marketing. Her fiction and non-fiction has appeared in many magazines and reviews including Oprah Magazine. She has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, Time, USA Today and on the Today Show, and NPR radio. Rose graduated from Syracuse University, spent the ’80s in advertising, has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and since 2005 has run the first marketing company for authors – Authorbuzz.com. The television series PAST LIFE, was based on Rose’s novels in the Renincarnationist series. She is one of the founding board members of International Thriller Writers and runs the blog- Buzz, Balls & Hype. She is also the co-founder of Peroozal.com and BookTrib.com.
Rose lives in CT with her husband the musician and composer, Doug Scofield, and their very spoiled and often photographed dog, Winka.
Today I’m pleased to welcome Christina Schwarz, author of The Edge of the Earth to the blog! Christina is the author of the bestselling Drowning Ruth that had been an Oprah Book Club Pick. Her newest novel The Edge of the Earth was released on April 2 and I’m actually just listening to it and it is a fantastic tale that I’m really enjoying. I have always had a fascination with lighthouses and what life must be like living within such isolation so I was automatically drawn to this novel both by its cover and description. I’m more than half way through listening to it now and it’s difficult to stop as I really want to know what life is going to bring the main character. You can see my review next Wednesday but in the meantime I’ve got Christina here with a lovely guest post for you all to enjoy and be sure to enter for your chance to win a copy at the end of the post!
The Edge of the Earth feels to me like a return to Drowning Ruth in that it’s set in the past and has a somewhat Gothic feel. Immediately after Drowning Ruth, I felt I’d exhausted my store of words and my supply of the type of scenes that would convey that atmosphere of the past. I had to write a comedy and then a contemporary relationship novel, in part simply to refresh myself. But over those years, the well that contains my excitement in the past and my attraction to people who harbor dark secrets there refilled.
When I’m in the process of choosing the subject for a novel, my first consideration is to find an idea that will sustain me for the two years or more that I know it’ll take me to write a book. I have to feel that the dream I’m entering is so fascinating and full of surprising possibilities that I won’t get tired of thinking about it. For me, the past easily provides that sort endless interest, because you can never know for sure what happened or why.
I picked the end of the nineteenth century specifically, because I wanted a time when the lighthouse at which most of the book is set would be particularly isolated, when the only contact with the outside world would have to come from the sea, and when my characters would have to wait many months even for a letter. I also wanted the freedom of a time when a person without an extremely specialized education could be convinced that he might make a great scientific discovery just by observing and thinking about the world around him. I lucked out in that this also turned out to be a time in which women were beginning to think that perhaps they need not be entirely dependent on men. In fact, that they might require something other than a husband and children to fulfill themselves. This is the period in which Kate Chopin wrote The Awakening and Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote The Yellow Wallpaper, stories that, like mine, explore what happens when a woman feels powerfully that she can’t fit into the form society prescribed by society. Certainly society’s bounds have changed since the end of the nineteenth century, but the notion of having to buck expectations to remain true to oneself is timeless.
About The Edge of the Earth (from Simon & Schuster)
In 1898, a woman forsakes the comfort of home and family for a love that takes her to a remote lighthouse on the wild coast of California. What she finds at the edge of the earth, hidden between the sea and the fog, will change her life irrevocably.
Trudy, who can argue Kant over dinner and play a respectable portion of Mozart’s Serenade in G major, has been raised to marry her childhood friend and assume a life of bourgeois comfort in Milwaukee. She knows she should be pleased, but she’s restless instead, yearning for something she lacks even the vocabulary to articulate. When she falls in love with enigmatic and ambitious Oskar, she believes she’s found her escape from the banality of her preordained life.
But escape turns out to be more fraught than Trudy had imagined. Alienated from family and friends, the couple moves across the country to take a job at a lighthouse at Point Lucia, California—an unnervingly isolated outcropping, trapped between the ocean and hundreds of miles of inaccessible wilderness. There they meet the light station’s only inhabitants—the formidable and guarded Crawleys. In this unfamiliar place, Trudy will find that nothing is as she might have predicted, especially after she discovers what hides among the rocks.
Gorgeously detailed, swiftly paced, and anchored in the dramatic geography of the remote and eternally mesmerizing Big Sur, The Edge of the Earth is a magical story of secrets and self-transformation, ruses and rebirths. Christina Schwarz, celebrated for her rich evocation of place and vivid, unpredictable characters, has spun another haunting and unforgettable tale.
About Christina Schwarz (from Simon & Schuster)
Christina Schwarz is the author of three previous novels, including Oprah Book Club pick Drowning Ruth. Born and raised in rural Wisconsin, she lives in Southern California.
GIVEAWAY DETAILS (US only)
I have one copy of The Edge of the Earth by Christina Schwarz to share with my US readers. To enter…
- For 1 entry leave me a comment entering the giveaway.
- For 2 entries follow my blog. If you do just let me know and I’ll pass the extra entry on to you as well.
- Tweet, like on Facebook, or Blog this giveaway for 3 entries.
This giveaway is open to US residents only (no PO boxes) and I will draw for the winner on Saturday, April 27/13. Good luck!
Guest Post with Menna van Praag, author of The House at the End of Hope Street & Giveaway (US/Canada)
Today I have Menna van Praag, author of The House at the End of Hope Street releasing today here at the blog with a really terrific guest post for us to enjoy. This book sounds absolutely delightful and I can’t wait to delve into my copy plus I love the cover – it’s so pretty! It is being said that this novel will appeal to fans of Sarah Addison Allen and I’m a huge fan of hers so I’m anxious to see if I may just find myself another favorite author to enjoy. For now please enjoy Menna’s guest post entitled Life Lessons from Famous Women Who Went Before Us…
Being a writer can be a pretty lonely business. You spend so many hours inside your own head and, instead of chatting to colleagues during coffee breaks, you browse the internet or pace your office trying to solve the latest plot point problem. At least, I do. Once I’m deep into the first draft, the characters provide company and connection of sorts. But, of course, your relationship with them is rather one-sided. They might speak to you while you’re writing Perhaps it was this loneliness that led me to populate my new novel, The House at the End of Hope Street, with the spirits of late, great literary heroines.
As soon as I started researching these women: Daphne du Maurier, Virginia Woolf, George Elliot, Beatrix Potter, Sylvia Plath, Dorothy Parker, Doris Lessing, Agatha Christie . . . I stopped feeling lonely. Their spirits filled my writing room. I started hearing their voices in my head. They visited me with words of wisdom at random moments. I lived with them all for a few years and learned a lot.
It doesn’t matter that women a hundred years ago led such different lives from us, in so many ways, because our similarities are still much greater than our differences. When I was a young writer, just starting out on my journey, I didn’t know any other writers so I read the biographies and quotes of those I admired. Last year I became a mother for the first time and, needing to know how to balance motherhood and writing, I consulted my muses again. It was very enlightening. So much so that now I have a new writing project: 99 Days to Fulfill a Dream. Every day I pick an inspiring quote and write about how it can help you to fulfill any life dream you want to fulfill!
Ten Pearls of Wisdom from Ten Great Women
- “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” — Agatha Christie
Do one thing today that will take you closer to your dream. Write a line or two, for example. It doesn’t matter if it’s any good or not, the only thing that matters is that you do it.
- “Avoid looking forward or backward. Keep looking upward.” — Charlotte Brontë
Don’t think about what you haven’t yet done or how much you have yet to do. Stay in the moment. “Failures” of the past and fears of the future don’t exist – focus on your hopes and inspiration and forget everything else.
- “No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself.” — Virginia Woolf
Don’t add metaphorical glitter and bows in order to shine because you think what you’re doing isn’t enough. People fall in love with something when the heart that created it resonates with their own. You don’t need to dress up your heart.
- “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” — Sylvia Plath
Self-doubt is second-guessing the outside world. It’s assuming that you have to be better and/or different to succeed. But you don’t have to be Shakespeare/Picasso/Mozart/Meryl Streep in order to find your niche in the world. Do what you love and it’s very likely you’ll find others who love what you do.
- “Never complain, never explain.” — Dorothy Parker
While you’re travelling the bumpy road towards your dreams it takes discipline not to complain or explain yourself to others but it’s well worth it. Complaining undermines your passion. Explaining often diminishes your self-belief. To succeed you need all the passion and self-belief you can get!
- “Starting out to make money is the greatest mistake in life. Do what you feel you have a flair for doing and, if you are good enough at it, the money will come.” — Greer Garson
It’s the doing of a thing – not the results it brings – that makes you truly happy, that feeds your soul and sparks up your spirit. So, unless you’d do it anyway for free, don’t do it.
- “We’ve got to believe in our beautiful impossible blueprints.” — Doris Lessing
While pregnant I realised how crazy it is when we don’t believe in ourselves. Because, no matter how impossible your dreams may seem, it can’t come close to the apparent impossibility of creating life. Compared to that, publishing a novel – or whatever you dream of – is simplicity itself!
- “I feel very adventurous. There are so many doors to be opened, and I’m not afraid to look behind them.” — Elizabeth Taylor
Courage is the first thing. Without it nothing is possible. With it everything is possible. Things you can’t yet imagine. Being afraid leads to shrunken life, being fearless leads to a magnificent life.
- “Happiness is not a possession to be prized, it is a quality of thought, a state of mind.” — Daphne du Maurier
To be happy for no reason at all, to be happy with yourself just as you are, is essential. Don’t be fooled into thinking that, if you’re not happy now then fulfilling your dreams will suddenly bring you happiness. It doesn’t work like that.
- “Believe there is a great power silently working all things for good, behave yourself and never mind the rest.” — Beatrix Potter
Life is hard without faith, achieving your dreams even harder. During those dark nights of the soul, when it seems as though you’ll never succeed, you need a little faith to see you through. Without it, you’ll give up at the first hurdle. With it, you’ll be leaping over the last.
© 2013 Menna van Praag, author of The House at the End of Hope Street
About The House at the End of Hope Street
A magical novel about an enchanted house that offers refuge to women in their time of need
Knocked off-kilter by the Worst Event of Her Life, Alba Ashby finds herself in front of a house in Cambridge, England, that she’s never seen before. There, a beautiful older woman invites her to stay on the house’s usual conditions — she’ll have ninety-nine nights, and no more, to turn her life around. With nothing left to lose, Alba takes a chance and moves in.
She soon discovers that 11 Hope Street is no ordinary house. Past residents have included Virginia Woolf and Dorothy Parker, who have hung around to help newcomers — literally, in talking portraits on the wall. Here Alba begins a journey that will heal her wounds — and maybe even save her life.
The House at the End of Hope Street is a charming, whimsical novel of hope and feminine wisdom that is sure to appeal to fans of bestselling authors Jasper Fforde, Lev Grossman, and especially Sarah Addison Allen.
About the Author
Menna van Praag, author of The House at the End of Hope Street, is a freelance writer, journalist and Oxford graduate. She is also the author of Men, Money and Chocolate, an international success, already translated into twenty-six languages. She lives in Cambridge, England, with her husband and son.
GIVEAWAY DETAILS (US/Canada)
I have one copy of The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna van Praag to share with my readers. To enter…
- For 1 entry leave me a comment entering the giveaway.
- For 2 entries, follow my blog. If you already do let me know so I can pass the extra entry on to you as well.
- Tweet, like on Facebook, or Blog for 3 entries!
This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents (no PO boxes) and I will draw for the winner on Saturday, April 20/13. Good luck!