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If you or your book club has just read Breaking and Holding, here are some things to think about.

Breaking and Holding is a layered novel that can be read in many ways. If limited to one of the following, which phrase would you use to describe the novel? In your own words, how would you describe it? A page-turner full of tension and plot twists? A love story – one of first love, forbidden love, obsessive and unshakeable love? A story that is steamy and sweet, heartbreaking and tragic? The story of two women struggling during the second-wave of feminism?

Patricia's favorite novel is The Great Gatsby. In what ways does Breaking and Holding pay homage to that classic?  

The novel is set in the late 1970s (the Me-Decade) and early 80s. In what ways did that era enhance the story? Could the story work in a present-day setting? Why or why not? 

Both Lynn and Patricia struggle as women finding their way to self-actualization in a difficult era. How are the two women alike and different? What obstacles does each character face? Which one would be associated with "the problem with no name" that Betty Friedan wrote about in 1963's The Feminine Mystique?

Are the issues they faced still with us today and to what degree? Can women have both a successful career and fulfilling marriage? What life choices and/or sacrifices have you or women you know made in this regard?

In the beginning of the novel, Patricia is reading Fear of Flying. Have you read or would you read the novel? Why was it hailed by major writers like John Updike and Henry Miller as destined to be a great and lasting novel? Has it lived up to their expectations? Should Jack be alarmed that Patricia is reading it?

Though all of the novel's characters are flawed, how did you feel about them? Did you have a favorite? Who were you rooting for? Could you relate to their experiences? Their struggles with isolation? Loneliness? Insecurity?

Could the novel be considered a coming of age novel? For Terry? Patricia? Even Lynn?

Are Patricia and Tricia two people? Lynn sees her that way as early as page 4. She sees herself that way on pages 185-186. How did the name-change help her? 

Given their differences in interests, could Patricia and Terry be as happy together as they expect to be?  

Jack is controlling, tries to manage his wife as a client, and relies on Lynn to help him when Patricia baffles him. But is he a villain with at least a smidgen of a heart? Does he redeem himself? How? Does he love Patricia? And does Patricia love him in some way? 

If Patricia and Lynn had met on their own, without Jack's involvement, would they have become friends? 

Breaking and Holding is a story of infidelity, as are many great works of literature, past and present. Given the era and Lynn's, Patricia's, and Jack's situations, how did you feel about their affairs? Were you inclined to agree with Terry who found infidelity despicable? 

What role do guilt and forgiveness play in the novel? 

How important are literature and the arts to life – in general and to you specifically? 

Favorite First Lines

In a previous issue of my newsletter, Story Lines, I asked readers to submit their favorite opening line from a novel. Here are the wide-ranging results. And if you have a favorite line to add to the list, please message me by clicking the Connect tab above or commenting on my Facebook Author Page.  The line submitted most often is hardly a surprise. 

Five readers chose . . .

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"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . ." 
A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens










Four Readers submitted . . . 

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"Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug." Little Women - Louisa May Alcott

"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth." The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger


three readers chose . . . 





"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that all men of good fortune are in want of a wife."  Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen






Two Readers selected . . . 

  1. "You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,' but that ain't no matter."  The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
  2. "I am a sick man . . . I am a spiteful man." Notes From Underground - Fyodor Dostoevsky
  3. "Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again." Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
  4. "It was a pleasure to burn." Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury

READERS Also CHOSE THESE (listed in no particular order) . . .

  1. "When the lights went off the accompanist kissed her." Bel Canto – Ann Patchett
  2. "We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck." Feed – M.T. Anderson
  3. "We started dying before the snow, and like the snow, we continued to fall." Tracks – Louise Erdrich
  4. "All this happened, more or less." Slaughterhouse-Five – Kurt Vonnegut
  5. "In the town there were two mutes, and they were always together." The Heart is a Lonely Hunter – Carson McCullers
  1. "In later years, holding forth to an interviewer or to an audience of aging fans at a comic book convention, Sam Clay liked to declare, apropos of his and Joe Kavalier's greatest creation, that back when he was a boy, sealed and hog-tied inside the airtight vessel known as Brooklyn, New York, he had been haunted by dreams of Harry Houdini." The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay – Michael Chabon
  2. "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice." One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  3. "On the afternoon of October 12, 1990, my twin brother Thomas entered the Three Rivers, Connecticut Public Library, retreated to one of the rear study carrels, and prayed to God the sacrifice he was about to commit would be deemed acceptable." I Know This Much is True – Wally Lamb
  4. "First the colors. Then the humans. That's usually how I see things. Or at least, how I try." The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
  5. "George Washington Crosby began to hallucinate eight days before he died." Tinkers – Paul Harding,
  1. "At night, I would lie in bed and watch the show, how bees squeezed through the cracks of my bedroom wall and flew circles around the room, making that propeller sound, a high-pitched zzzzzz that hummed along my skin." The Secret Life of Bees – Sue Monk Kidd
  2. "Jack Torrance thought: Officious little prick." The Shining – Stephen King
  3. "Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy flowers herself." Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf
  4. "Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends." The Year of Magical Thinking – Joan Didion
  5. "Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were." Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
  1. "The war in Zagreb began over a pack of cigarettes." Girl at War – Sara Novic
  2. "We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold." Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - Hunter S. Thompson
  3. "Dr Strauss says I shoud rite down what I think and remembir and evrey thing that happins to me from now on." Flowers for Algernon –  Daniel Keyes
  4. I have been afraid of putting air in a tire ever since I saw a tractor tire blow up and throw Newt Harbine's father over the top of a Standard Oil sign. I'm not lying. He got stuck up there." 
    The Bean Trees - Barbara Kingsolver
  5. "I struggle to my feet, straighten my back, lift my chin, then he hits me again." If the Creek Don’t Rise – Leah Weiss
  1. "Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board." Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
  2. "Will imagined silence. The silence of snowfall in a forest. The silence at the top of a crag." The In-Between Hour – Barbara Claypole White
  3. "It's a common mistake to assume that emotional baggage will disappear if one changes geographies. There are many who think that a change in weather is all that is needed to set everything that is wrong with a person right." The Copenhagen Affair – Amulya Malladi
  4. "On our wedding day, my fiancé, James, arrived at the church in a casket." Everything We Keep – Kerry Lonsdale
  5. "This isn’t my story. It's Patricia and Terry's."- Breaking and Holding – Judy Fogarty  (Thank you, Elizabeth Rakis!) 
  1. "In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since." The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
  2. "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit." The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien
  3. "'Godspeed, Mr. Adsley, until we meet again.'" Starving Hearts – Janine Mendenhall
  4. "What a perfect day!" Hardwired – Meredith Wild
  5. "When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home." The Outsiders – S.E. Hinton


  1. "You better not never tell nobody but God." The Color Purple – Alice Walker
  2. "'Run!' Rose hissed as the deafening bang of the explosion fired behind them." Hearts of Resistance – Soraya M. Lane
  3. "My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me: 1. I’m in a coma. 2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore. 3. Sometimes I lie." Sometimes I Lie – Alice Feeney
  4. "It was a Wednesday, the second week in April, and Santa Teresa was making a wanton display of herself." Q is for Quarry – Sue Grafton
  5. "His fingers slithered like a snake to find hers." The Good Widow – Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke
  1. "It wasn't a very likely place for disappearances, at least at first glance." Outlander – Diana Gabaldon
  2. "They called him Moishe the Beadle, as if his entire life he had never had a surname." Night – Elie Wiesel
  3. "'What you looking at me for? I didn't come to stay. . .'" I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
  4. "It’s still my favorite book in all the world." The Princess Bride – William Goldman
  5. "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
  1. "I glanced at the grandfather clock." The Secret to Hummingbird Cake – Celeste Fletcher McHale
  2. "The South killed Lucy Bondurant Chastain Venable on the day she was born." Peachtree Road – Anne Rivers Siddons
  3. "The first thought I had after I died was: How will my dog cope with this?" Now That You Mention It – Kristan Higgins
  4. "I’m pregnant." Tidings of Great Joy – Sandra Brown
  5. "'Miss Kawasaki?' Orito kneels on a stale and sticky futon." The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet – David Mitchell
  1. "The first light of morning revealed a heavy sky over Manhattan, dappled clouds that promised snow." Christmastime 1940 – Linda Mahkovec
  2. "A green and yellow parrot, which hung in a cage outside the door, kept repeating over and over: 'Allez vous-en! Allez vous-en! Sapristi! That’s all right!'" The Awakening – Kate Chopin
  3. "Arthur Forrester squared his shoulders, took a deep breath, and opened the door of sparkling glass in front of him." Need to Know – Fern Michaels
  4. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." The Holy Bible – God
  5. "It was the end of my girlhood, though I didn’t know it yet." Song of a Captive Bird – Jasmin Darznik


  1. "My dear wife, let me tell you about this pen." Cocoa Beach – Beatriz Williams
  2. "'Guilty.' I watched the foreman of the jury as he gave the verdicts." Silks – Dick Francis and Felix Francis
  3. "My wound is geography. It is also my anchorage, my port of call." The Prince of Tides – Pat Conroy
  4. "'Where's Papa going with that axe?'said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast." Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White
  5. "When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon." The Last Good Kiss – James Crumley






Non Sum Qualis Eram Bonae Sub Regno
I am not what I was under the sway of Cynara

Last night, ah, yesternight, betwixt her lips and mine
There fell thy shadow, Cynara! thy breath was shed
Upon my soul between the kisses and the wine; 
And I was desolate and sick of an old passion, 
Yea, I was desolate and bowed my head: 
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion. 

All night upon mine heart I felt her warm heart beat, 
Night-long within mine arms in love and sleep she lay; 
Surely the kisses of her bought red mouth were sweet; 
But I was desolate and sick of an old passion, 
When I awoke and found the dawn was gray: 
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion. 

I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind, 
Flung roses, roses riotously with the throng, 
Dancing, to put thy pale, lost lilies out of mind; 
But I was desolate and sick of an old passion, 
Yea, all the time, because the dance was long: 
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion. 

I cried for madder music and for stronger wine, 
But when the feast is finished and the lamps expire, 
Then falls thy shadow, Cynara! the night is thine; 
And I am desolate and sick of an old passion, 
Yea, hungry for the lips of my desire: 
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion. 

-- Ernest Christopher Dowson



by Ernest Christopher Dowson

Breaking and Holding at the PresTigious Hoyt Library

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On July 26th, via FaceTime, I met with readers of the Hoyt Library Book Club in Kingston, Pennsylvania to discuss Breaking and Holding. The Discussion Questions I'd prepared led to many other questions from this perceptive, thoughtful and amiable group. To all who attended, thanks for an enjoyable hour and thanks to the library for choosing Breaking and Holding as the summer session novel. 

Nothing is more gratifying for an author than connecting with readers. If you've read my novel, I'd love to hear from you -- through reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, comments on Facebook or Twitter, or through the connect page of this website.

Book clubs, I'd love to talk with you about Breaking and Holding IN Person, by facetime, or by skype. Let's set a date.






Wondering what to read this summer? Here are recommendations I compiled from nine different lists of 2018 best summer reads. From literary fiction to serious women's fiction, from thrillers to easy breezy reads with beach settings, you're sure to find something to keep you turning pages.

According to Publishers Weekly, Book-Bub, Amazon, The Washington Post, Southern Living, Esquire, Redbook, Harper's Bazaar, and Book Riot, here are some of many good reads awaiting you. Click an image to learn more. 

(And don't forget to enter my Summer Giveaway for a chance to win a copy of Hurricane Season by Lauren Denton!)


 Appearing on five lists were: 

Appearing on three lists were: 

Appearing on two lists were: 


Over one hundred readers entered the Spring Giveaway drawing announced in the April/May issue of Story Lines. Many received a double-entry by messaging me with the title of their favorite poem about spring--from Emily Dickinson to A.A. Milne, from Robert Frost to Shel Silverstein. Take a moment to enjoy the season in verse.


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"Daffodils" by William Wordsworth

Write here…

Write here…



This One by Shel Silverstein Made Me Laugh! 








"In just spring," the favorite poem of giveaway winner, Carol Parry. . . 


e. e. cummings

e. e. cummings

And all of the Other Favorites . . . 

"The First Green of Spring" - David Budbill
The Year's at the Spring" – Robet Browning
"When Lilacs Last in the Doorway Bloom'd" – Walt Whitman
"Daffondowndilly" – A. A. Milne
"There's Always a Springtime" – Helen Steiner Rice
"Spring" – Edna St Vincent Millay
"Spring, Spring is Coming Soon" - Unknown

"Spring Pools" - Robert Frost
"Flower God, God of the Spring" - Robert Louis Stevenson
"I Wish I Were a Glow Worm" - Colin West
"Daisy Time" - Margaret Pickthall
"Spring" - Gerard Manley Hopkins
"The Trees" - Phillip Larkin

"Spring" – Edna St Vincent Millay
"Spring Pools" - Robert Frost
"A Breath of Spring" - John McLeod
"Flower God, God of the Spring" - Robert Louis Stevenson
"I Wish I Were a Glow Worm" - Colin West
"Daisy Time" - Margaret Pickthall
"The Owl and the Pussycat" - Edward Lear

"Spring" - Gerard Manley Hopkins
"The Trees" - Phillip Larkin
"And the Spring Arose on the Garden Fair" from The Sensitive Plant - Percy Bysshe Shelley
"Spring Rain" - Sara Teasdale
"Headache" - Shel Silverstein
"Spring" - William Blake
"April Showers" - Karen Chappell
"Lines Written in Early Spring" - William Wordsworth
"To Spring" ("Au Printemps") - William Blake

"The Fog" - Carl Sandburg

Thanks to all of you who submitted a poem. 

P.S. - And if I missed your poem or you'd like to add one, just let me know.






My prompt?  You meet the love of your life in the stacks.  The art I received? Lower left, of the four pictured here. 

My prompt? You meet the love of your life in the stacks. The art I received? Lower left, of the four pictured here. 

I'm excited to be participating in Page Rippers, an art exhibit and silent auction with a literary twist. 

The exhibit at Location Gallery in Savannah features the works of 18 local artists and writers who were paired by 18 prompts. Inspired by visits to the library, the prompts are diverse and include: as an adult you rediscover your favorite childhood book on your child's first visit to the library; you wish that farm animals would be allowed in the library; you love the shushing sound a page turn makes; and you think books should be in the shape of their subject matter.  Working from his or her assigned prompt, each artist produced a drawing, painting or collage. The writer who had received the same prompt then constructed a brief poem, essay, or story to accompany the art. My prompt? You meet the love of your life in the stacks. The art I received? Lower left, of the four pictured here. 

The exhibit, a collaboration between Location Gallery and The Refinery, a Writing Studio,  will run from Friday, February 9th through Friday, February 23rd and will feature the work of both the artists and writers. A companion book, designed by Peter Erwin Roberts, will also be available at the exhibit and from E Shaver Bookseller. Gallery profits from the show will benefit the Savannah Book Festival

Find details here and drop by Location Gallery for what is sure to be an interesting show. 



I love living, reading and writing on the Isle of Hope, Savannah, Georgia. I run there too, along Bluff Drive, with the Skidaway River on one side of the road, and historic homes, some dating from the 1850s, on the other. Little wonder that my second -- almost finished! -- novel is set on the island. At this time of year, a run, bike ride, or leisurely stroll along the bluff always makes me merry. I hope these photographs will make you merry too. 


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




WINNERS (bottom row, left to right)

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


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. 


Named by two readers: 

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Authors with more than one title named as favorites:  



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