It's easy to forget that the US Midwest was once the great western frontier where fierce Indian Wars were waged. Stoltey sets her tale in the 1830s when that frontier was only partly tamed.
In those days before the Civil War, Philadelphia debutante Mary Proud goes west with her soldier husband, but she is left destitute after his death. She leads a poverty-stricken life, with her two children, sadistic Caswell and victim Jo Mae. Caswell is found dead in the opening chapter, and the reader gets to amble through the minds of various Sangamon inhabitants, learning all the reasons why people in the small hamlet wished Caswell dead.
Jo Mae's attempts to gain control of her life after years of abuse is the thread that stiches the tale together. Sounds dreary, but the fate of Jo Mae provides a hook to pull the reader through the narrative. I found her the most powerful of the several raconteurs in the story. The others characters are well-drawn, with quirks, faults, and strengths, but it is Jo Mae that shines.
Stoltey weaves a tightly contstructed narrative which keeps the reader engaged even though the book is more about revealing its characters' inner lives than creating surprising plot twists. She also captures the period and speech patterns well. An enjoyable and intriguing read with a wonderful depiction of a historical time which isn't often seen.
Sample a few chapters and see the other reviews of this newly published book on
Other Interesting Reading
Was recently asked to do a guest blog on someone else's blog, like write a short essay or op-ed piece. "About what?" I asked. While I got very little direction, I did manage to bumble through. Margaret McGaffey Fisk has some great ideas about writing blogs. A lot pertains to writers, but it applies to many different endeavers. Take a look.
Do you like reading blogs about of books? Found a link to the 100 most influential, often read book blogs. Probably something for everyone in this list, so says the pipsqueak.
Perhaps the most interesting blog I read came via the Books Go Social author support group. Jonathn Vars, a Christian fiction writer, did a guest blog on plots, specifically HOW TO CREATE A PLOT FROM NOTHING IN 5 STEPS. Many writers might think the steps simplistic. I think their very simplicity makes them easier to understand and implement.
My Writing Rut
Still working on On the Run. My editor has told me she's available earlier than she first thought. Not like getting your tail feathers lit to get you moving. Fortunately, I was more than half-way done when she told me. Below is an excerpt from the opening scene set in a bus station:
As she took another bite of her gooey sandwich, the station’s energy shifted gears, became so intense even Pillar’s weak talent felt the rising pulse. A chill crawled over Pillar’s shoulders and down her back. She dropped her sandwich to turn around again.
“Look at all the people coming through the platform doors,” said Mari. Her eyes gleamed.
Pillar groused to herself. Nothing like being addicted to danger. She enjoyed adventures, too, but didn’t care to play with fire. Some amusements aren’t worth the heat.
Mari’s voice squeaked with excitement. “Hey, Tally, a girl just came in. She looks like she’s been traveling a reeeaaaally long time, just like a roamer. Do you think her family tossed her out?”
Must apologize. Had this written by Sunday. Yesterday, I waltzed around with my daily stuff, including getting a temporary bridge put in my mouth... Didn't get this published, but here it is today.