Never Give Up, Never Surrender

Kim W. Justesen - Writer/Teacher/Presenter

Galaxy Quest

I teach a workshop called “When Bad Things Happen to Good Writers” and it is based on a collection of stories – my own and other writers’ – of the things that can and do go wrong in the publishing world. There are so many elements involved in seeing a book move from idea, to manuscript, to submission, to revisions, to finished product. Because of all these complicated pieces, the opportunity for problems is as abundant as the steps are. Sometimes there are multiple challenges all with the same book. Sometimes these issues are just minor headaches, and sometimes they are enough to make you wonder why you ever thought being a writer was a good idea.

In my own little corner of the writing universe, I’ve had plenty of encounters with publishing speed bumps. I’ve had contracts cancelled due to one publisher buying out another. I’ve had a publisher…

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Beginner’s Mind

Kim W. Justesen - Writer/Teacher/Presenter

Writing is a very humbling thing at times. It’s not just the rejections, the bad reviews, or the minuscule royalty checks, but the process itself can often crack you in the knees and cause you to genuflect.

In meditation practices associated with Buddhism, Hinduism, and others as well, there is a concept called “Beginner’s Mind” that applies beautifully to writing as well. Anyone who has begun a meditation practice knows what Beginner’s Mind is: it’s that awkward experience of sitting in silence, seeking a spiritual experience, and feeling as if your mind is in a blender that is set to puree. You have to remind yourself repeatedly to center your thoughts, tune out the outside world, and allow your brain to connect to more important things than the dog barking outside, or the odd creak and groan of the house, or the sudden urge to create your grocery list. For…

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Whispers Through Time

3295821The Civil War damaged many families, among them was the Cameron family who lived at Poplar Ridge.  During the war against the states the Poplar Ridge Plantation was taken over by the Union army. George Cameron was a solider in the South and was away at war while his wife Margaret was forced to do unspeakable things for the Northerners who used Poplar Ridge as their base. Some wounds never heal and Margaret’s pain is still influencing life in the present day.

In the present at Poplar Ridge, seven-year old Sarah sees her father Geoff Cameron murdered. After Geoff’s death, Sarah claims that her father still visits her and has been reading Black Beauty to her. Her mother Chris struggles to find out if Sarah is really talking to her father by taking a trip back in time. In the past lies the answer to  why Geoff was murdered and the truth behind the tragic death of George Cameron. The Cameron’s tragic past is all tied to Margaret and Chris is the only one that can stop George and Geoff’s deaths and fix what went wrong. Whispers Through Time by Kim Murphy is the sequel to Whispers From The Grave. This book falls into the historical romance category but also includes elements of the paranormal and time travel.

My favorite part of this book was seeing how women’s roles had changed in the last 140 years. When Chris gets trapped back in the year 1867 she mourns that she can’t work as a lawyer anymore, because women didn’t have careers back then. Also at one point Chris brings up the idea of women voting and gets laughed at. In my favorite part of the book She meets her grown up daughter in the future and her daughter mentions that she is happy she didn’t live in the 1860’s. This makes Chris sad because she had to live the life of a woman in that period when she would have liked the opportunity to have a career. I liked how this book looks at how hard women had it in the past and I loved the concept of a woman in the present having to deal with life in the 1860’s.

My only problem with Whispers Through Time was when the book gets into the romantic relationship between Geoff and Chris. I felt it took away from the mystery of what happened to The Cameron family and how Chris deals with life in the past. I didn’t mind the romantic relationship but there was already so much going on I felt it took away from everything else.

That being said I really enjoyed this book, it is well written, the parts that took place in the 1860’s were well researched and where I didn’t like Chris much in the first book, I liked her in this one. Whispers Through Time is an ambitious story and even if you’re not a fan of romance you will still like it for the way it looks at how the past affects the future and what true love can survive. I loved how I couldn’t guess where the story was going and the ending was totally unexpected. This book is a must read and this is coming from someone who normally doesn’t read a lot of historical fiction.

The Consecration Of Jacob Jordaens

19547611The Consecration Of Jacob Jordaens by Michael Brown is a different kind of paranormal thriller. It’s a coming of age story that includes alternate lifestyles and alternate religions. This is an original story with odd characters that you don’t see in a lot of books. Even the villains in the story had their good points and everyone in this story is someone you can  feel for even though they have a dark side.

The story begins with a nineteen year old boy named Jake and his foster-mother Lexis moving from New Orleans to Providence. Lexis was in New Orleans as part of a coven and is now returning to become an academic. They have a history in Providence, Lexis’ estranged husband Nick Vaughn lives there. Nick’s family is wealthy and is covering up many dark secrets. Meanwhile Jacob is having horrible visions of a rape in a theater and is trying to hold onto his sanity.

Things get worse for Jake in Providence as he starts to find out the Vaughn’s secrets such as their child sex trafficking business and who is really in charge of everything. Jake is pulled in different directions in a power struggle between greedy family members and stuck between a battle of good and evil. He also has to figure out what is real and not real, where he wants to go to college and what his sexual orientation is. Life is not easy when your nineteen and its even harder for Jake.

My favorite characters in this book were Lexis and Karen. Lexis seems to be the only one who has Jacob’s best interests at heart, even though Jake doesn’t see it that way. She may be the most honest person in the book and has a legitimate career, yet she has a dark side because she did marry into the Vaughn clan. On the other end of the spectrum is Karen who is a gold digger and married to Shay. All she wants is to control the Vaughn’s money and she will do anything to have it. Yet when we see how her relationship with Shay starts, we see that she has a good side. Michael Brown does a great job of making all of the characters in this book seem human by showing both the good and bad in everyone and it made all the characters likable.

The Consecration Of Jacob Jordaens was a mixed bag for me, I found the story to be confusing at times because of how it goes from dreams to reality. The book also brings up astral projection quite a bit so I found myself wondering what was real and what was Lexis and Jake’s imagination. That being said I liked all of the characters and despite my confusion on the story, I kept reading to find out what happened to each one.  I also liked how voodoo and alternative lifestyles were dealt with in this book. The way the Vaughn family empire is described also made me like this book. The story gets dark at times and it added to the realism of the characters. There are a lot of shades of grey among them and that made for an interesting read. The Consecration Of Jacob Jordaens had its moments and is worth a look if you’re looking for something a little different.