Thankful for Books—

—AND THE ABILITY AND TIME TO READ THEM!  Although the book mentioned here are Thanksgiving themed, they are good reads any time.

 

Thankful for books thanksgiving turkey
Murder and mayhem. Janet Evanovich has three Thanksgiving themed mysteries: Thanksgiving, Foul Play, and The Grand Finale. Apparently Evanovich knows the potential of holidays for drama!

 

Also, Thanksgiving Angels: A Mercy Allcutt Mystery by Alice Duncan.

 

For more options, click here!
thankful for books thanksgiving
Otherwise, here are some suggestions from Goodreads readers.
  • Thanksgiving Night by Richard Bausch
  • The Ghost at the Table: A Novel by Susanne Berne
  • The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford
  • A Patchwork Planet by Anne Tyler
  • Thanksgiving by Michael Dibdin
  • A Thanksgiving Miracle by Wells Earl Draughon
  • The Thanksgiving Virgin by Charles Haas

 

 

thankful for books turkey
 Classics
  • An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott
  • Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
thankful for books silver turkey
BOTTOM LINE: Be thankful for online searches, for you can find Thanksgiving books for all ages and genres!
 
thankful for books happy thanksgiving

Why Read Aloud?

read aloud kids
Most of us stopped reading aloud when our last child outgrew being a listener. But remember what engaged you and your child. It probably included rhythm, delightful words (think Dr. Seuss), vivid images, and different voices for different characters. These are all good things for adult books and stories.

read aloud yourself
Reading your work aloud is a good way to improve it. Ideally, someone else would read it aloud while you listen and take notes, but such a partner may be hard to come by. Alternatively, read aloud to yourself—actually reading, not mumbling the words. Perhaps even recording yourself reading at least part of it. Reading aloud accomplishes several things.

1. It highlights verbal tics: Repeated words or phrases hit the ear in a way they don’t hit the eye. Providing a character with a verbal tic can be a good thing, but when everyone uses the same word or phrase, it becomes the author’s verbal tic, and that is not good. It’s boring. I wrote about this in an earlier blog. Also, the same speech patterns makes it difficult for the reader to identify the character who is speaking.

2. You hear awkward sentence structures. Too long. Too convoluted. Too many parenthetical insertions. Too long a series with everything separated by commas, etc. Anywhere you stumble reading aloud, your stranger reader is likely to stumble reading the written word.

3. You can identify needed and unneeded attributions. If John and Susan are the only two people talking, you needn’t identify every change of speaker—something you can easily hear.

4. If you read it as it’s written, punctuation flaws jump out. You can hear when you’ve put a period at the end of a question, or a question mark at the end of a declarative sentence. You can hear when a sentence would benefit from a dash—to add more emphasis than a comma.

5. You’re likely to notice when too many of your paragraphs begin with the same structure. The most likely pattern here is to start each paragraph with a character taking an action. John stood…  Mary slammed the book down… Sam laughed… Claris tossed back a shot of bourbon… Such a pattern begs for varied transitions.

BONUS: Reading your work aloud is good practice for when you win a major award and are asked to do public readings all over the country!
 
read aloud author speakers

My Reading While Traveling

I’ll start by confessing that I did less of it than I planned! Between walking miles every day (literally), consuming enough wine, cheese, and desserts to pack on five pounds, and napping on the bus between cities, the time just flew by. On the other hand, I did promise a report, so here it is.

Alentejo Blue

reading way portugal monica ali alentejo blue
This book set in Portugal just got better and better. Each chapter is a story, and each story switches to a different POV character while the other characters fade into secondary or supporting roles. In the course of the book, each character gets richer and richer. It’s a fascinating look at a town as a whole, experienced by its citizens. Often the stories/lives seem to be downers, but in the end, it’s more upbeat than I expected! And as I said when I started it, the writing is excellent throughout. I recommend it as a story read, but also as an example of how to put together a novel in an atypical structure.

Sedella: The Story of a Spanish Village

[Source: Amazon]
Sedella, on the other hand, just didn’t grab me. The description drew me in, tracing a Spanish town from pre-history to the present, with a mixture of historical/anthropological information and a fictional story line. In this instance, the structure didn’t work for me, going back and forth between the fact and the fiction. I soon found myself skimming the facts and skipping to the story line. In the end, I put it aside altogether in favor of the second novel set in Spain.

Bueno: A Love Story Set in Spain

[Source: Amazon]
Bueno: A Love Story set in Spain by Christy Esmahan is delightful. The “hero” is Harvey Jones, an American and novice headmaster of a private school in Spain, the Cantabria American School. Although there’s no hint of a love interest in the first half of the book, it drew me in immediately. Harvey is full of good intentions but he’s on his own in a strange place where he knows nothing of the politics among the teachers, the Board members, the parents, and his mentor. The priorities of the president of the Board, largely responsible for hiring him, are not shared by the teachers and parents.

Harvey has come to Spain in part to be closer to his brother, recently deceased, who was killed in a terrorist attack while living there. He’s taking classes in Spanish to improve the Texas version he arrived with. His nemeses take advantage of that and start calling him “Cinco” because when the J in Jones is silent, as it is in Spanish, it becomes the verbal slur “sin cojones.”

This is Book 1 in the Cantabria American School series and I fully intend to find Book 2! But when shall I get back to Don Quixote and Tales From the Alhambra? I acquired them abroad and haven’t really started either!

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

I’ve taken hundreds of pictures during my time in Portugal and Spain. Below you will find a selection of these pictures, along with a suggested writing prompt. Choose one or more of these pictures, and using the suggested prompt or one of your own, write 1000 words based on it. It doesn’t need to be polished or finished, just do it!

 

vivian lawry picture worth thousand words
Who would have a table setting like this?
balcony divorce
This is called the balcony of the quick divorce. It overlooks a 500’ gorge.
make own juice portugal
How is this to be interpreted?
Bottom line: Draw on visual cues to trigger your creativity.

Check out this writing resource!

Someone recently forwarded this article about effective first-person writing to me. It’s a great resource for writers who are having trouble writing from different points of view. Here’s an excerpt:

A filter word puts distance between the reader and your character, filtering that character’s experience… What did I remove? I thought, I saw, I could hear. In other words, I removed anything that had you, the reader, looking at her looking at things, rather than looking at the things she saw.

This is true first-person: being behind the character’s eyes.

Check it out and leave a comment on the article with your results!

Two Novels Set in Spain

By the time you read this, I will be in Spain—and maybe I will have read these books by now. But I bought them for the trip and I’m writing this before departure, so I’ll tell you why they’re with me (on Kindle).

 

sedella story spanish village
[Source: Amazon]
Sedella: The Story of a Spanish Village by John Hardy is (according to its Amazon blurb) “a romantic historical novel about an Andalucian village, from prehistoric times to the present day… Each of the historical chapters is in two parts. The first part is a fairly factual account of the relevant time, though some of these facts may be slightly altered in time, etc., to fit the story. The second part of the chapter is a story set around these historical events.” Two things drew me in: historical novel and romance. It should be light reading plus a little education.
bueno christy esmahan
[Source: Amazon]
Bueno: A Love Story Set in Spain by Christy Esmahan made the cut because (1) it has a 4.5 out of 5-star rating; (2) it has food scenes; (3) the protagonist is a teacher; and (4) it’s a romance—which promises, light reading and a happy ending.

 

I’ll let you know how they turn out!

Effective Travel Writing

effective travel writing
 
In my humble opinion, effective travel writing starts with excellent writing—but it needs more!
effective travel writing
Taking the reader to places never visited, activities only dreamed of. The destination could be almost anywhere, foreign or domestic. The activities could be anything not experienced by the masses: eating insects, zip-lining, parasailing, petting dolphins, helping sandbag a levy.
effective travel writing
Taking the reader to a familiar place, seen from a different perspective. For example, airport security from behind the scenes, apple picking from the perspective of a child, a blind person white water rafting with a guide, walking across all the bridges in New York City.

 

Right now, I’m traveling, not writing about it! For more—and better?—advice, just search online for “effective travel writing.”
 
effective travel writing ideas