Tag: Permanent Sunset

Permanent Sunset

I Have a Question

Book clubs seem more popular than ever. Focused on a variety of themes and genres, there are as many different types of clubs as there are different books. One thing common to all clubs, members talk about. Plots, characters, broader issues raised by the story—all serve as fuel for discussion. Authors may connect with readers by visiting clubs in person or virtually and sometimes facilitate discussion by providing discussion questions. Today, some of the Missdemeanors offer questions for book clubs.  Tracee1. Agnes lost her husband and changed jobs, taking on what many would consider a higher pressure position. What do you think about her decisions and her manner of dealing with loss and family and search for personal identity? 2. Julien Vallotton is clearly romantically interested in Agnes, yet she resists. Do you think there is such a thing as an ‘appropriate’ or ‘necessary’ time to mourn the loss of a spouse or partner before taking the next romantic steps? Have you witnessed a situation where the threat of external judgment prevented the bereaved from enjoying the next years of their life?     Susan1. Maggie Dove’s new client believes her sister is evil. Have you ever met anyone you believed to be evil? 2. As Maggie Dove begins investigating, she has to go through old high school year books and she’s surprised to see how some of the people she knows have changed. How have you changed since high school (beyond the wrinkles)?        Alison1. Abish has returned home to a state, and religion, she left thinking she’d never return. Now, she’s trying to reconnect with her family and navigate as an outsider in an insider community. How well do you think she gets along with a dominant outlook that differs from her own? 2. The first murder Abish encounters has hallmarks of a deadly ritual supported–in theory–by Brigham Young and other early LDS Church leaders. It has long been forgotten by most, but offers an interesting example of how communities handle dark parts of their own history. Do you think there are any societies that have dealt particularly well or particularly badly with this universal problem of processing ugliness in their own shared past (whether it be slavery, racism, sexism, violence, antisemitism, ethnic cleansing, pogroms . . .)? Is there a good template for handling these issues?  Michele1. Sabrina Salter’s gut told her that she and Henry should not take on an eleventh villa, but Henry was insistent and Sabrina relented. How do you know when to follow your gut instinct and not yield to the judgment of others or when to back down?. 2.Sabrina tells Henry at the end of the book, “I’m going back to Boston to meet the grandmother I’ve never seen before it’s too late.” What advice would you offer Sabrina about meeting a grandmother who has chosen to ignore her existence?    Alexia1.In Killing in C Sharp, Gethsemane has to work with someone she despises, someone who once libeled a friend of hers, in order to save people she cares about. How would you handle having to work with someone you disliked? 2. Maja’s relatives got away with her murder. She dealt with the injustice by coming back as a ghost and taking vengeance on not just her relatives, but anyone who reminded her of them. How would you deal with being a victim of injustice?      What questions have you discussed in your book club? Or what questions would you like to discuss if you belonged to a book club? What questions would you offer to readers of your books? Share in the comments or join the discussion on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/missdemeanorsbooks/   

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Feeding the Hungry Reader

French Comfort Food, by Hillary Davis, one of my favorite cookbooks,    How would you like a buttery grilled cheese sandwich filled with Cheddar cheese, tomatoes, and bacon right now? Or perhaps a tuna melt on rye bulging with melted Gruyere? Maybe a plate of creamy macaroni and a combination of three cheeses, not one? Too plebian? We could add chunks of lobster.            Not feeling savory at the moment? Could I get you a plate of warm chewy chocolate chip cookies right out of the oven? Or a piece of apple pie with feathery light flaky crust? No? I could dish up a piece of moist golden cake with homemade chocolate buttercream frosting if you’d prefer.            If you aren’t hungry by now, you may not be human. Just the very description of these foods, often categorized as “comfort food” is enough to make a reader salivate, which is why most readers and writers are captivated by food in stories. Food helps to create atmosphere and lends authenticity to an environment. I defy you to read Barbara Ross’s Maine Clambake series and not crave lobster. When Stone Barrington cuts into a steak at the legendary, now defunct, Elaine’s in Stuart Woods’ wildly popular series, most readers find their mouths mysteriously open.            Food enhances reading. Food enriches writing. Food brings joy to life. Cozy mystery writers have long understood this. Joanne Fluke (Blueberry Pie Murder), Diane Mott Davidson (Sticks and Scones), Lucy Burdette (Killer Takeout), and Edith Maxwell (When the Grits Hit the Fan) all have written popular series with variations in food themes.            Other mystery subgenres feature food regularly. Olivier cooks up a gastronomic storm at his bistro in Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series, while Clara serves comfort food to friends at her kitchen table. From Steak Frites with Mayonnaise to Coq Au Vin with a Hint of Maple, readers feast on Canadian specialties when not merely content to munch on a steady diet of buttery croissants.            Readers, myself included, have been driven to patronize restaurants featured in books. Margaret Truman’s books enticed me to try the old Le Lion D’Or in Washington D.C. when my daughter was in college there. My husband didn’t get it, especially when the tab arrived. He was on board when we headed to a Spanish restaurant in Harvard Square where William Tapply had his protagonist, Brady Coyne frequenting.            Writers use food more than gratuitously. It can be part of the plot as in Tana French’s recent release, The Trespasser, where a romantic dinner prepared by the murder victim but never shared, became an integral part of the story.            In Permanent Sunset, I chose the bride’s choice of her wedding menu as a window into her soul. I later used the wedding meal, which was never served to guests due to the untimely death of the bride, to color a police officer corrupt and to paint a portrait of the surviving family members.            I happen to love writing about food, possibly because I love reading about it (I own a few hundred cookbooks and this is after “downsizing”), only slightly less than cooking it. For me, it is as much pleasure deciding what to serve my characters as it is what to serve guests in my home. I recently created a meatloaf dinner for my grieving protagonist, which she quite enjoyed.            Fortunately, calories don’t count when you are writing about food. Only pleasure. What brings you please when you read or write about food?                       Dessert from Hillary Davis                       

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A Different Kind of Launch Party

 No you didn’t miss the evite. And yes, thank you for asking about whether there would be a launch party for Permanent Sunset, the second book in the Sabrina Salter series published today by Crooked Lane Books. More than anything, my gratitude to readers’ who bought and enjoyed No Virgin Island and eagerly anticipated and pre-ordered Permanent Sunset. I had no idea how gratifying it would be to hear from people who read and supported my first book. I hope Permanent Sunset brings you even more pleasure.            So it would seem logical perhaps to celebrate the second in the series with another launch party. After all, the first was a great party held at the James Library in Norwell, Massachusetts, which was attended by more than 100 people, including friends, relatives, clients, fellow-writers, and former classmates. The very generous, effervescent, and talented Hank Phillippi Ryan interviewed me with her usual charm and wit. Later, she wrote, “Now that was a launch party.” As I looked out at the crowd of people who had so kindly supported me, I thought, this is like being at your own wake. The final honor came when relatives of a murder victim in St. John whom I had mentioned in the acknowledgements of No Virgin Island came to honor me and to buy my books.            But somehow, a second launch was feeling a little off to me, or as in the wisdom of the great Barbara Ross, kind of like a baby shower for a second baby. It isn’t that we don’t love and welcome that second baby as much as the first. It’s more that the joy is more subtle and relished. A little less like, “Whew, you finally published one of those suckers,” and more like, “Good for you, daring to put yourself and your creation out there again.” And then there is geography. With readers from all over the country and especially those in the Virgin Islands and Caribbean, an inclusive launch would have to be online. Unfortunately, a glass of virtual prosecco falls a little flat.            Still, I wanted to honor those who have supported me, propping me up when the doubt and dismay weigh me down. The people who have generously shared with me the joy my writing has brought them. And especially those who have made me laugh when I was taking this writing gig way too seriously.            When Hurricane Matthew fell upon Haiti last week, I finally figured how I could do this. In a time when we are divided politically, few can argue that lightning has indeed struck twice on this tiny Caribbean nation where children have suffered unimaginably and cholera is a way of life.            So today, I have created a fundraising page (https://www.classy.org/fundraiser/794775) on Sow A Seed, an organization, whose mission is to bring hope, reduce hardship and promote sustainable change in the lives of impoverished children, placing a special focus on orphans in the Caribbean. And yes I sent the prosecco and appetizer money to them (it won’t show for a bit) in honor of you and with the hope there will be a new sunrise for the children of Haiti.                            Save

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