Under a Dark Sky takes place in a dark sky park in Northern Michigan, which is not where Eden Wallace wants to be for some intriguing reasons. Forced into a relationship with others on the island, she finds herself searching for connections, secrets, and mysteries within their lives as well as her own.
Lori Rader-Day has written a page-turner with characters readers can relate to, love, or detest, depending on the chapter. She drops clues throughout the novel like pebbles in water, creating ever-enlarging ripples of truth. Is it too much to mention the red-herring in the water? Maybe so, but it's a pleasant surprise to be left guessing right up until the end.
Most writers know that writing can be a lonely profession, spending hours within our own minds sifting through thought processes regarding plot, sentence structure, editing, or any other myriad of writing steps. We find ourselves sitting at the computer (sometimes in our PJ's) or at a coffee shop with our laptop, or any quiet place we can find, seldom engaging with others because such an interruption often results in a disconcerting need for us to restart, reboot, or rewind our brains. So why attend a writer's group and purposely engage with others?
Quite frankly, I asked myself that very question, telling myself that the time could be better spent writing, since I didn't feel there was sufficient time in my day for it in the first place. I had plenty of excuses. If I was honest with myself, one of the top excuses was probably the fact that sharing my writing with other writers made me feel so vulnerable. Those precious words came from my thoughts, so if they didn't like those carefully chosen words, how did that reflect on me? Ridiculous logic I know, but how many of you have used similar logic?
I have searched out various writer's groups in my community, then landed on one that has been developed through our local library. It is still fairly new, but has already garnered a number of brave followers and has workshops lined up to supplement its efforts.
My first meeting surprised me. I found a diverse group of individuals from the community, who were at various stages in their writing journeys, looking for feedback from others who understood and sympathized with this difficult process. Individuals could sign up to read an excerpt of their writing, followed by initial positive responses, then questions that each author chose to ask of his/her peers. By pointing out the positives, I learned qualities to include in my own writing.
Perhaps the most important thing I gleamed from this encounter, was the unique voice of each writer. How encouraging to discover that it is actually important to find your own voice, and detrimental to try to mimic someone else's. Another lesson learned; writers need to engage with other writers; we need to get out of our heads from time to time, and if it causes us discomfort or anxiety, then at least we've gained new insight into writing about those emotions.
I highly recommend searching out a writers group near you for support, knowledge, and feedback. My special thanks to the Allen County Public Library and the Fort Wayne Writers Guild for developing these groups within my community.
As I said before when beginning this writing journey with other writers, "Ah, let me grab my backpack and join you." - M.A. Koontz
Looking for a short thriller for that beach read or a weekend getaway, but don't want to spend a lot? Shards of Trust is now available with a $2 off coupon through Book Shop. Follow this link, SummerSale18, and enter the code at checkout. Enjoy your summer!
Change always requires movement in some direction, and during this movement it can be difficult to determine if it is indeed for the best, until the dust settles. It seems that the publishing industry is in the midst of such change, and as with most change, there are factors that bring it about.
This past spring, I was interviewed by Lisa Roepe, a former newspaper reporter turned freelance writer, who was writing an article on this very topic for Sage Publications Business Researchers. Her article was featured in the May 7, 2018 issue, The Publishing Industry, in which Lisa takes a close look at publishing trends, including a growing number of independent publishers, along with an increase in audio books. She also delves into how practices of large publishers have affected first-time authors and the choices they make when seeking to publish their books.
Change is in the wind. Check out Lisa's article to learn more before the dust settles.
My mom used to quote Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and tell me that "into each life a little rain must fall." She failed to mention that sometimes it pours, and then you discover that the bucket you're using to bale water with has a hole in it.
That about sums up how 2018 has been for me so far. The loss of my mom and dear sister, along with family illnesses, has taken a toll on my sense of humor. However, that same sister would be the first to say it was NEVER that great, while laughing hysterically and shooting milk out of her nose. Yea, it was like that between us.
Their lives remind me of that bright flash of light from the photographer's camera (which my sister was - a photographer, not a camera), followed by dark spots in my vision that faded to gray before disappearing. I'm still blinking from those circles of darkness, trying to focus on the resulting picture or memories that remain.
They will be missed; Mom, for her advice, and my sister for her laughter. I will hold memories of them forever in my heart. Rest in peace.
Today I finished reading a book by an author whose writing captivates me, leaving me eager to delve into her next novel. As an avid yet finicky reader, I enjoy sharing some of my favorites with my fellow readers. Before I reveal the author, though, let me first begin with some of the qualities of this author's writing that appeal to me.
It may sound simple, but for those of you who write fiction, believable characters are not always easy to portray. This author's characters and their emotions evolve and draw me in, allowing me to be a part of their lives. Their personalities are painted in words like an old house with peeling chips that reveal weathered layers from the past. Bit by bit the paint peels or is chipped away until a fresh new coat replaces the old.
I also appreciate how her settings are interwoven into the story line with ease, adding to the plot rather than halting it. A vivid picture appears in her reader's mind within each scene of her story, enhancing the senses.
The Sound of Glass is a great example of these qualities in Karen White's novels. Although this is only the second of her books that I've read (The Color of Light was the first), I look forward to reading many more. And since I believe she has at least twenty-four novels to choose from, it look like I'm going to have an ample selection.
Have you recently discovered an author whose books welcome you like a cherished friend; maybe someone whose writing style you admire? If so, share their name in the comment section, and I'll try to include them on a future blog.
And don't forget to take advantage of my Spring Sale through the end of April for Shards of Trust. Visit my home page at www.makoontz.com and click on the SPRING SALE button for details.
Blue skies and sunshine today bring warm thoughts of spring just around winter's harsh corner. It's that time of year when those heavy winter coats become as irritating to us as the scratchy sweater that we can't wait to throw off. Both may keep you warm, but at a certain point, the irritation begins to out-way that warmth.
Thankfully, the hope of spring allows us to tolerate winter just a little longer. It's icy tentacles that reach our inner core, will freeze and thaw in cycles, until at last, it is no more.
Past years have shown us what we can expect: budding trees and fresh fragrant bloom will burst their color onto a new green pallet, covering the dull grays of winter. Neighbors will no longer disappear into their homes in a flash, but instead, pause to take in Mother Nature's beauty, and approach us with a smile and greeting.
My anticipation is palpable today. I couldn't wait to share that same feeling with others, and have decided to also share news of my upcoming Spring Special on my book, Shards of Trust. Beginning March 1st through the end of April, I will have a $2 off coupon promotion. Go to www.makoontz.com/shards-of-trust, click on the "BookShop" link under "Paperback," and remember to enter code SPRING18 at checkout to receive the discount.
I realize that this is still weeks away, but like spring, I wanted to give you one more thing to look forward to, because if you're like me, it is always the right season to get comfortable and read a new book.
Do you prefer to recap your past year on New Year's Eve, or are you more of a forward thinking individual (i.e. what's done is done, so move on)? Personally, I find the latter more comforting, because I like the feeling of control that I still have over future events. Granted, I will probably laugh at some point looking back on this statement, when my best-laid plans have been upended by the unexpected events du jour. However, I like that there is still some element of predictability with the new year, whereas, I know what happened last year, and I have zero control over it's history of events.
I am definitely looking forward to writing more as the holidays wind down. Making family a priority during this wonderful season has been great, so I will not apologize for the sporadic writing. Quite the contrary, this pause has created a new passion in me to pursue those swirling thoughts and stories in my head, and coax them into the printed word. (See the photo of the new mug from my daughter, who knows me all too well!)
Focus, alas, will be my greatest challenge in 2018. I find myself pulled by a plethora of interests in this world, and the creative thoughts can sometimes jumble the process, making it difficult to complete a project. That creativity is so necessary, but harnessing it is another story (pun intended)! I would love to hear from those of you who have mastered control over your creative impulses, and how you successfully accomplished this task. Sounds like a good story...
Have a wonderful and productive 2018!
So many smiling faces this past weekend at my book signing at Barnes & Noble started my holiday season off in the best possible way. A huge thank you to everyone who came to chat, purchase a copy of Shards of Trust and allow me the privilege of signing their copy, and especially for supporting Riley Children's Hospital. I was pleased to donate my portion of the book sales to such a worthy cause.
Speaking of smiles, what could be a more perfect gift to give? It's free, you don't have to wrap it, and you don't have to stand in line for it. Returns? Those are the smiles you receive back, and available 24/7.
However, for those individuals who have been stingy with their smiles, others who know you well will wonder what you are up to, but that can make it even more fun. It's a special gift that boosts your spirit as well as the receiver's, making it the best two-for-one deal ever! Even better, it is available any time, unlike the "today only" or "one time only" offers.
The anticipation alone of certain individuals can make you smile. Such pleasant people seem to have an unlimited stock of smiles, so no worries about the disappointing "out of stock" shock. There is a warning with this gift, though; it requires repetition over time from both the giver and receiver. It takes time to be greeted continuously by someone with a smile, to be able to anticipate that warmth. Knowing someone who can make you smile before you actually see them is a great bonus, and who doesn't like getting a little extra unexpected gift?
So let's wrap up our smiles with a hug, a handshake, a fist bump, or however you choose to greet others this holiday season, and spread some much needed cheer.
The month of November gives us so many opportunities to reflect and be thankful for our blessings. Veteran's Day and Thanksgiving Day, for example, are great reminders of this, and I dare say it is no accident that they occur in the same month.
I took a picture to my mom at the nursing home this past weekend. The photo was of her in her nurse's uniform when she was a member of the Cadet Nursing Corp during WWII. Looking at the youthful woman with a full head of dark wavy hair, donning a white cap with a single stripe and wearing a white nurse's dress, she laughed and said, "I don't remember being that young." The photo of my dad in his navy uniform brought tears to her eyes as she ached for their life that once was -- so different from her current life of dependence on others. I am grateful to both of them for their service and the sacrifices that they made.
My father-in-law was a radar operator on a plane that flew rescue missions in Guam, a topic that he chooses to avoid for obvious reasons. He was particularly saddened this past week by the death of another soldier, except this soldier served in Vietnam. He was the husband of a good friend of mine. She has watched him suffer from numerous symptoms which were the result of exposure to Agent Orange. Over the past few years, he became good friends with my father-in-law while receiving dialysis treatments several times a week. They loved to discuss all things sports during their four hours in the chairs that they occupied side by side at the clinic. To these dear men, I salute them for their service, and for the ultimate price that one soldier has paid.
Because of these individuals and so many more, I choose to be grateful not only for family, health, and all that I possess, but also for the freedoms that I tend to take for granted. I would like to thank all service men and women who have fought in various wars throughout our history for these freedoms that our great nation provides. I am so grateful.