CONGRATULATIONS TO 18 WINNERS

The Thanksgiving issue of my Story Lines newsletter featured a cornucopia of a giveaway: 18 books, all from Lake Union Publishing, all signed by the author. Here are the winners and the books they will receive. 

WINNERS (top row, left to right):

Sonnetta Jones, Kim Kight, Virgie Lane, Blaze O'Rama, Sherri McDonald, Lorrie Castro, Leanna Mattea, Tammy Underhill, Barbara Weintz

 

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WINNERS (bottom row, left to right)

Dawn Bellinger, Kathy Schnitz, Lucille Bransfield, Suzanne Leopold, Laurie Picillo, Pernette Wells, MaryAnn Anderson, Diane Wight, Carol Stock.

Favorite BOOKS COURTESY OF ONE HUNDRED Readers

When I asked, through Story Lines and social media, for readers to name one of their favorite books, the response was enthusiastic and exceeded my expectations. Here's the resulting list, full of diversity, surprises, gorgeous covers, and something you'll want to read.

The Nightingale was named as a favorite by six readers. To Kill a MockingBird and Before We Were Yours were named by three. 

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Named by two readers: 

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Authors with more than one title named as favorites:  

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BOOKS IN A SERIES

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CLASSICS

AND ALL THE REST!

AND LAST, THANKS TO MY SISTER, BUT HOPEFULLY NOT LEAST...

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What Readers love about Chapter 1

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Readers loved the Giveaway in the September issue of my Story Lines newsletter. They entered the drawing by (1) reading Chapter 1 of Breaking and Holding and (2) leaving me a comment about the chapter. A few of my favorites Follow. If you haven't read breaking and Holding, I hope THEY will encourage you to. 

"Best first chapter I have read since...ever! I mean it. Stunningly good. The gift card would be icing on the cake. The real dessert will be inhaling your book. Can't wait!" -- Diana Wenzel

"The last sentence of the first chapter had my eyes wide open and saying to myself, Ooooohhhhh. Lol." -- Caitlin Freaney

"Intrigued? √...Mystified? √...Needing to read more? √" -- Connie Saunders

"Love your writing style and character development. The relationships draws you in and has you quickly wanting more." -- Kim Elliott

"Okay, now I HAVE to finish the book!" -- Diane

"The very first lines truly captured my attention. Barbed wire? And then the last line of the first chapter? I need to read more!" -- Susan Schleicher

"Oh my gosh! When I got to the last line of chapter one I was thinking..."No. She didn't." I felt so bad for Patricia. And I'm very curious now as to what happens to Jack!" -- Belinda

"You got me on the first page." -- Liz
 

 

 

IRELAND, September 2017

My family and I have just returned from ten fabulous days in Ireland, where we found the warmth of the people as gorgeous as the landscape. Share in our journey with the photos below: landscapes, cathedrals and castles, streetscapes, and fun together.

Story Lines -- August 2017


This issue is full of recommendations for readers and writers--and a giveaway too. The winner will receive his or her choice of one of 14 great novels or a $25 Starbucks gift card.To enter the drawing, simply identify the classic novel which opens with this line: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Read Story Lines and enter the giveaway here.  

REVIEWS OF A FEW Great NOVELS

Midway through 2017, here are my top three reads. See my reviews below and give these great novels a try.

 

THE NEST

As a writer, I read with a highlighter, constantly marking metaphors I love, descriptions of characters that make them easy to know, paragraphs that skillfully and unobtrusively establish a theme or point worth remembering, and moments that move me, whether to laughter or tears. My copy of Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney's darkly comic THE NEST is so full of yellow markings now, that my friends will want to borrow someone else's or buy their own. 

Every dysfunctional family is dysfunctional in its own way, and the Plumb siblings--Leo, Bea, Jack, and Melody (divorced, single, gay, and married)--are vividly and originally so. Secondary characters are just as well-drawn, and New York City, where all live, is a vibrant part of the story. 

The plot is set in motion by Leo, who abandons his wife at a wedding reception, seduces a young waitress, and plows his car into an SUV. He's driving and the waitress is...well...imagine. A need for hush money arises and depletes the about-to-be-distributed nest egg that all four siblings have counted on for financial security dreams. Prior to a joint meeting with Leo to insist on repayment, the other siblings prepare by having a drink, not together, or knowingly. We meet each one in a different New York bar. Therein, the tone of this hilarious, highly readable novel is set. Ms. Sweeney tied things up neatly in the end, in a bow that I found satisfying, credible, and not over sentimental. Year-to-date, THE NEST is one of my favorite novels.

NEWS OF THE WORLD

Paulette Giles had me at page one of News of the World, and held me with her poetic prose, voice, scene setting, dialogue that always rang true, meticulous but unobtrusive historical detail and, most of all, with action and story—just pure story. I didn't read. I rode with Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd from Wichita Falls to San Antonio, Texas in 1870, as he returned 10-year-old Johanna, a four-year-captive of the Kiowa Indians, to her family. Dust, heat, stars, danger, weariness, fear, excitement—I was part of it all and hated to leave the characters I came to love along this 214-page trail. 

MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON

I didn't read a novel with a character named Lucy Barton. Lucy Barton spoke to me over the course of 200 pages and a couple of days. Her voice is that real, that human, that distinct. As she lies in a hospital bed, conversing with her estranged mother for the first time in years, Lucy reflects on their relationship; her childhood of extreme poverty and abuse, of shame and separateness; and even many aspects of the human condition -- all of this in author Elizabeth Strout's spare, quiet, yet remarkably resonant prose. Lucy recognizes that: "Lonely was the first flavor I had tasted in my life, and it was always there, hidden inside the crevices of my mouth, reminding me." Her mother, also an abused child, remains distant and hurtful in small, unintentional ways. Though she is unable to say to her daughter, "I love you," Lucy recognizes that "It was the sound of my mother's voice I wanted most; what she said didn't matter." Lucy finds exuberant joy in the smallest of kindnesses: a boy opening a door for an old woman, the touch of her gentle doctor's hand upon her head. She tells of "falling in love" with a grade school teacher because he would not tolerate any student feeling superior to another. As for me, I fell in love with Lucy Barton, a new friend whose voice I listened to for days. I loved her resilience and the wisdom she imparted: "No one comes from nothing." "We can never understand a person fully." The roots of family are always "twisted tenaciously around one another's hearts." This is a lovely, moving read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Protagonist's Chocolate Chip Cookies

In my next novel, Darcy Holland is a single mom and not much of a cook, but her chocolate chip cookies are surefire and the favorite food of her four-year-old son, Zach. Try her recipe, but be forewarned: stirring the batter in the final stages has broken many a spoon!

3 eggs
1 pound brown sugar
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla
1 lb butter
6 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
24 oz chocolate chips
16 oz nuts (pecans)

In large bowl, beat eggs 4-5 minutes.  Add sugars, vanilla, and butter, mixing thoroughly.  Combine flour, salt and baking soda. Add to egg mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.  Line cookie sheet with waxed paper and drop batter by ice cream scoop.  Bake 16-20 minutes, rotating shelves.  Let cool on cookie sheet 5-10 minutes before removing. Bake at 350.  

NOTE: By the time you add the pecans and chocolate chips, the batter will be very stiff.  It’s supposed to be!

 

 

 

 

 

 

INTERVIEWS AND GUEST BLOG POSTS FROM MY Online Book TOUR

In addition to book reviews, my online book tour included author interviews and guest posts on four notable book blogs. Here are things you may not know about Breaking and Holding, writing groups, my next novel, and me(!)--including the funniest thing that happened at a book signing.

A WRITING GROUP THAT WORKS.  One writing group. Four years together. Six women working in different genres. And since August 2016: three novels sold for publication; a non-fiction book deal signed with a major university press; two essays and two short stories published; and a memoir now in submission to agents. Here are my thoughts on what makes a writing group a success. More...

FIVE THINGS YOU DON'T KNOW ABOUT BREAKING AND HOLDINGWhy the novel has been called The Great Gatsby meets Madmen, why the setting is 1978, why you don't want to watch a tennis match with the author, and more. 

AUTHOR Q & A. Learn which 1978 songs I'd choose for the novel's soundtrack and the first place I would take Savannah visitors. More...

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AUTHOR Q & A - LAUREN K. DENTON'S "BOOKISH PEOPLE" BLOG. What am I working on now? What books have I recently read and loved? What's the funniest thing that happened to me at a book signing? Find out!

REVIEWS FROM AN ONLINE BOOK TOUR

The itinerary was packed: sixteen destinations in less than thirty days. But this book tour for Breaking and Holding required no travel, hotel stays, or time away from home. Instead, the tour stops were book blogs that featured reviews of the novel or author interviews and guest posts. Sample the review highlights here or click an image for the entire review.  

Breaking and Holding is heartbreaking and tragic and steamy and sweet...But this wasn’t a light and easy-breezy (beach) read for me. With a dysfunctional marriage, addiction, secrets, and abuse plus a tender and sweet romance, friendship, longing, and hope, the author made me care about the characters...Until the very last pages, I had no idea how things would turn out...I also really enjoyed her style of writing. It was whip-smart, at times funny, and for a book with so much romance, it never veered into cheesy or saccharine for me.-- Lauren K. Denton

Breaking and Holding was intense, romantic and compelling, but I found myself more interested in the time frame it took place. From a women’s perspective, the 1970s were a very tumultuous time, a time of introspection and growth...I took away a story of a young woman breaking free, finding her unique spirit and ultimately her truth. We should all be so blessed. -- Cindy Roesel

The relationships of family and friends, the absence of family and friends, age and stage and love and money and needs and secrets with the backdrop of Kiawah Island and the tennis circuit make Breaking and Holding engaging, thought provoking and a juicy, quick read. -- Jennifer Blankfein

I felt the constant thrum of pressure and awaited the approaching train wreck; I...was intrigued about just what the specific antecedent would be that would trip the bomb and blow the track. There were multiple instances I thought the fuse was lit and was bracing for the explosion, but oh – what a sly and clever minx Ms. Fogarty is, she fooled me more than once. The storyline was cleverly constructed and smartly written. Judy Fogarty has made a stunning debut. -- "Empress DJ"

Click AND scroll for full review. 

Click AND scroll for full review. 

A tale of love, madness, tennis, and breaking free...I loved Lynn and rallied behind Tricia and there was no way I could put the book down until I found out how their stories would end! -- Becky LeJeune

The author does an amazing job at establishing another time and place.  I loved the 1970's island setting. -- "Birdhouse Books"

Fogarty has created a set of deeply flawed, broken characters who must make peace with their own pasts in order to move forward...Each has to decide when the tipping point is and when to take a chance and go to the net for match point. -- Serena