It is getting warmer! My hammock has been hung and my mind wanders in search of great summer reads!
My favorite read this spring was Pulled by Danielle Bannister. Her first novel is just fabulous! Here is the review I posted on Amazon.com after reading it from cover to cover:
” There are so many reasons I LOVE this book. First of all, it is hauntingly beautiful. It drew me in immediately. Second, I love the theatrical form of the book. It fits perfectly with the storyline which involves the main characters playing Romeo and Juliet in a college production. The author moves the book along by writing from the perspective of Nayla and then from the perspective of Etash. I literally wept for the characters.
At times I wept at the tragedy of the situation and at times because I could feel so much for them. This is a book with soul and excitement. I started it in the evening, read until way too late, dreamed about the characters and finished the book in the morning. Pulled offers characters who grab you by the heart and race you forward. Reading it feels inevitable and necessary. It is a brilliant and beautiful read for anyone who knows that “the course of true love never did run smooth.”
I had the chance to ask Danielle a few questions this week. She is dedicated and she is a delight!
Amy: How do you make time to write?
Danielle: With two small kids, a husband and two part time jobs, it’s not an easy thing to do! But the one thing I have learned is that once you decide to ‘become a writer’ you need to make writing a priority. Which means, for me, scheduling writing time. At the same time, however, you need to be realistic. The housework still needs to get done, dinners still need to be cooked and children still need to cuddle. It’s all about finding a compromise that works for you. My deal with myself is to write 1,000 words a day or edit for 2 hours during the 5 day work-week. That’s what I can do right now in my life. For others, it may only be 500 words, or a just a journal entry. But committing to do something is the first step.
Amy: I felt the same way when I was writing Transformational Mothering. If my son was asleep I was writing. I remember thinking, “Oh, please…let him sleep just a few more minutes…” How long did it take you to finish Pulled?
Danielle: A little over two years. Of course, at the time, I was also homeschooling my then 7 and 5 year old. Now that they’re in school, I’m clipping along at a faster pace on the sequel. But I think it’s important to point out that writing and EDITING take time. Two years is not an unheard of amount of time to write a book. That’s because the last thing you want to do is try to push unedited versions of your manuscript off to agents or self-publishing sites. This is especially important to self-published authors, like myself. The industry already thinks of the self-published book as less then ideal. No need to fuel their debate with a book that’s full of errors!
Amy: I absolutely agree and I am so glad you self published. Your book is a great example of the great writing that is out there and going unnoticed by big houses. How did the idea to write a novel come about?
Danielle: Honestly, it came from a dream, as cliche as that may sound. It wasn’t an entire dream, just an image actually, but it was such a powerful one that it wouldn’t leave me. I’d never written a book before, or even a short story. I was a just 35 year old mom who had her BA in theatre, but worked in a law office! I had no business or training to write a novel. But the image kept burning itself into my head–demanding to come out, so I started writing. Before I knew it, I had ten pages down. At that point, it was the longest thing I’d ever written. The writing muse bit me that day, and I’ve been writing, researching and taking classes ever since.
Amy: You entered Pulled in this year’s Amazon’s Break Through Novel Award and did really well! Tell us a bit about that.
Danielle: A fellow writing friend of mine said I should enter this contest that Amazon hosts every year. It’s a contest for novels that haven’t been traditionally published. I ended up making it all the way to the quarter-finals–which means my book was one of 250 out of a pool of 5,000 entries. It was quite a nice feeling having your first novel ever make it that far! It was sort of validation that I could do this.
Amy: What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever gotten?
Danielle: It has to be this quote: “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”- E.L. Doctorow That quote is the best way to describe how I feel about how characters can really drive your story if you just get out of the way and let them take the wheel.
Amy: I love that! That is exactly how I feel when I am writing a new song. So Danielle, tell us, what is your “lullaby-link?” What is a piece of music that links you to a person, or place or place in time?
This is an easy one. I listened to Enya a lot while writing Pulled. There is even a dance sequence that wrote itself in there because of one particular song of hers called Boadicea. Every time I hear that song now, I think of that point in the novel.
Amy: It is amazing how music can move us and inspire us isn’t it? Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us today, and your work with the world!
Danielle: You are so welcome.
To find out more about Danielle you can reach the author by visiting her website:
Danielle has generously offered a signed copy of her fabulous book Pulled to one lucky reader! Just leave a comment below with your favorite summer read (I need suggestions!) and my son will draw the winner on the 31st! Good luck!
I don’t want to mess it up, I am nervous about doing things right and I am afraid one of them might die if I make a mistake. Last night was the first night “Morgan” was not covered and I was worried that some critter would come and eat her. Yesterday I covered her in the heat of the day (in her stylish tie dyed tent) because I was afraid she would get burned. Just when I was worried that growing these pumkins might make me a complete neurotic, we met other pumkin growers and I learned that this is what I have to look forward to for the next few months.
We went to Pinkham’s Plantation in Damariscotta this weekend to get the special fertilizer and get tips about watering and covering and all the other things you need to know to grow a pumpkin over 1000 pounds. A woman named Mary was super helpful telling me about how she covers her plants with sheets and blankets and waters every night. It sounds a bit crazy but you really do get attached to these plants!
Out of the five seeds we carefully soaked and put under heat lamps, two sprouted. I started them two weeks apart so “Morgan” is now in our freshly rototilled garden and “Button” is just emerging from his shell in his ice cream container planter.
Despite my worry my son and I are having a blast working together to grow these plants. The best part is watching his absolute faith as they grow. ”It will be great Mumma!” he says as he runs through the fresh dirt “Isn’t this the best?!” His huge smile rekindles my enthusiasm. ”You are right, Clayton,” I say, “This is just the best.”
Last summer I read a book that I truly loved called The MoonQuest by Mark David Gerson. I have always loved fantasy but as a professional singer/songwriter/storyteller this book held extra magic for me. In the world of The MoonQuest bards and stories have been banned and Toshar must undertake The MoonQuest in order to restore the power of story to the world.
His grandmother, Eulisha, is the character who most captured my imagination and who inpired this song. She is the one to tell him about The MoonQuest. After they talk, she places an amulet under his pillow as he sleeps. I wondered what she would do as he slept, as he decided whether he would take up the quest or not.
I believe she would sing and pray and send her love and power ahead of him into the unknown. That is the purpose for this song.
If you love fantasy, as I do, I hope you will add The MoonQuest to your summer reading list. I know I will be reading it all again from my hammock. You can get a copy on Amazon or signed by the author at http://www.markdavidgerson.com/moonquestbook.html
Every once in a while an album comes along that touches me so deeply I want to tell the whole world about it. Scriptural Lullabies is one of those albums. If you are a Christian you and your family will find profound comfort in these beautiful lullabies. Fully orchestrated tracks with beautiful vocals are wonderful settings for beloved Bible verses.
I rarely listen to music at home. If I am at home then we are singing together or enjoying some quiet. I listen to music in the car and there are times when I get in my car for a short “Mommy break” and just take a drive. This month I took a couple of breaks and was so grateful to have Scriptural Lullabies come on as I was driving. One day, I just pulled into a parking lot and listened to the whole album as a kind of meditation. I returned home refreshed and with a whole new outlook.
This album is truly wonder full. My favorite songs are “Bless the Lord” which I find myself singing over and over during the day, “Be Still and Know” which is based in Psalm 46:10, and “Seek Ye First” which is based on one of my favorite Biblical verses. I love that my son will grow up listening to these songs. They are a fabulous way to reinforce the ideas of the Christian faith and by infusing these words with music, they become songs of comfort for a lifetime.
Scriptural Lullabies is the first in a series of albums by Breakaway Music. To learn more you are invited to http://www.scripture-lullabies.com/
I have been given one copy of Scriptural Lullabies to giveaway! To win, leave me a comment with your favorite verse from scripture. A winner will be drawn at random on May 3!
Until then, I had never heard of Pumpkinboat racing. Who knew that the capital of this exciting sport was only down the road a piece in Damariscotta, Maine? With my love of gardening and my son’s passion for anything with a motor we quickly decided that this was the sport for us!
On earth day we soaked and started the seeds that we hope will grow into a pumpkin of hundred pound proportions. As I read the directions, I must admit, I was a bit daunted. I am not sure exactly what I have gotten myself into but I find that is the way that the best adventures begin.
Am I a bit panicked that we will not end up with a pumpkin at the end of the season? Yes. But, I figure we will do our best and see what grows. Disappointment is a lesson we must learn also. But what I am envisioning is some time in the garden with my son where we learn something new together. I am envisioning pumpkin vines so large that they spill out of the gardens and cover the lawn. I see people stopping to take pictures of our monster pumpkins and proudly mounting them onto a trailer to be taken to Damariscotta and weighed.
Most of all I am dreaming of my son’s smiling face as he starts the motor and drives away in his very own pumpkin boat. Stay tuned! This is the start of something BIG!
THIS WEEK’S PUMPKIN JOURNAL: