Home   |   LCS Prints Store   |   About Me   |   FAQ   

Friday, March 30, 2012

Copying the List

At the Senior Center, where I work part time, I edit and produce a regular newsletter.  Each month, I compile elder news around town, including the book topic for the Second Friday Book Group.  Once the group moderator gives me the title, I look it up online so I can write a one sentence snippet for readers.  Nice way to get fodder for my own reading list, don’t you think?

April’s book is called Faithful Place, by Tana French, her third mystery, which features a detective from Dublin, who ends up investigating the cold case murder of a former girlfriend.  After perusing the Amazon blurb, I was intrigued, but my personal book budget has been cut and the library copies of Faithful Place were all checked out by the reading group.

So…I took out Tana French’s first book, called In the Woods instead.  It took me several days to get through the brief prologue, to the point where I wondered if I’d actually finish the book.  Once I waded through those few brief pages though, French reeled me in with the depth of her description and the power of her dueling story lines.

Detective Rob Ryan and his partner are assigned the case of a young girl’s murder, which coincidentally happens in the town where Rob grew up, from which his two best friends disappeared when he was twelve-years-old.  Rob, who was with his friends when they vanished, has no memory of what happened that day.  As the detectives attempt to solve the current crime, Rob tries to transport himself back to scenes from his past in order to gain insight into the yet unsolved mystery from his youth. 
Via sensory-assaulting description, skulking suspense, and plot twists that keep the reader guessing, French had me turning pages way past my bedtime.  While the author ties up the current mystery, other story lines are left hanging, a sort of nod to real life that lends to the credibility of her tale.

As soon as I finished In the Woods, I went back to the library.  I’m still out of luck with Faithful Place, so I check out French’s second book, The Likeness, which like book number one, I am struggling to put down. 

In this story, after leaving the Murder Squad, Cassie Maddox, Rob Ryan’s partner from In the Wood is pulled back into a murder case, when a victim using an undercover alias from Cassie’s past and who looks enough like Cassie to be her identical twin, is discovered in an abandoned famine hut.  Rather than release the news of the murder, the police concoct a serious injury, and after an imaginary hospital stay, introduce Cassie into the life and role of the murdered woman.  I’m about half way through this one, turning the pages and saying out loud; “No, don’t do it!” to the MC as the author ratchets up the tension and inches the stakes higher. As with with In the Woods, I’m chasing after the final outcome of The Likeness the way a cat goes after a string, and if you’d like to know why, catch this little snippet from the beginning of the book:

Somewhere in the house, faint as a fingernail-flick at the edge of my hearing, there are sounds: a scuffle, whispers.  It almost stops my heart.  The others aren’t gone.  I got it all wrong somehow.  They’re only hiding; they’re still here, for ever and ever.

I follow the tiny noises through the house room by room, stopping at every step to listen, but I’m never quick enough; they slide away like mirages, just behind that door or up those stairs.   The tip of a giggle, instantly muffled; a creak of wood.    I leave wardrobe doors swinging open, I take the steps three at a time, I swing round the newel post at the top and catch a flash of movement in the corner of my eye; the spotted old mirror at the end of the corridor, my face reflected in it laughing.

By the time I finish reading The Likeness, Faithful Place should be available to me…and I have no doubt that the circles under my eyes from late night reading will continue to attest to Tana French’s imagination and talent.

Oh, by the way, no one asked me to review these books and I'm getting nothing from it.  

What’s the best book you’ve read lately…and what made it so good?

Monday, March 26, 2012


When I pulled into the beach lot last week to parking spaces filled two rows back, and looked out to bright umbrellas and clumps of toddlers rushing into the water, it was as if someone had snatched me up and delivered me far south, to Georgia, perhaps, or even Florida.

I’m afraid that blogging about the weather demonstrates a dreary lack of imagination.  Even as I type these words, I’m saying to myself: “Can’t you do any better, Liza?” but I wish I could explain to those not from New England what it is like to experience a weather reprieve.
Yes, the calendar has just flipped to spring, but here in Massachusetts, most years that means, well, nothing.  Far into April we dress in our woolies, wear boots, cross our fingers and hope for stretches like we experienced last week, in about two months’ time.  We know—we just know what can happen—so our snow blowers and shovels remain parked at the ready until mid-April.  Even then, we put them away with a twinge of worry that doing so will guarantee a late season blizzard.  We never, ever expect a bounty like one we received last week—temperatures in the mid 70’s to 80’s for six days.  There were no leaves on the trees, for gosh sakes.
So, when the weather heated up, we skipped our chores, pulled out the beach towels, stepped into bathing suits and stopped at the ice cream parlor before burrowing winter white toes into the warm sand—because we were obliged to. It’s still March and the weather was a million dollar bonus that arrived with a ticking time clock.  We know, here in New England, how to appreciate a gift.

Sitting on a boulder at the edge of the beach on Thursday, I closed my eyes and channeled summer in the squeals of the kids in the frigid water, the quiet lap of the placid waves, the breeze tugging at the hair curling below my baseball cap.  A string of little girls excused themselves politely as they hopped the boulders lining the back of the beach, stepping carefully around the flip-flops I’d parked on the rock in front of me.  Seagulls, as bold as they are mid-summer, dove for scraps of food from unattended bags.  Laughter and weightlessness surrounded me, a collective exhale after the release of a long held burden.  

And, then, as we knew it would, the alarm clock sounded.  

Our skin, our bones, and everything at the heart of things felt the slightest bit lighter when we yanked on our fleece coats and returned to life as normal, once the weekend the temperatures dropped back to a seasonal mid 40’s.  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Summons

Sometimes you have to remind yourself that the sun will hoist itself over a blue band of clouds and pause halfway like a plump yellow bulb, and on still mornings the mist hangs heavy above straw-grass marshes. Sea birds skid into the water feet first, and when they do, shaggy-haired dogs dance at the edge of the ocean and bark. 
The tide thumps at the sea wall, or gathers itself back like a rumpled bedspread and far on the horizon, a granite lighthouse guards the waters it has protected for over 150 years. 

Most of all you have to remember that whether or not you get a picture of some of it, or all, the images rest inside of you.  When clouds hover, or the tectonic plates in your own life shift, they remain, ready for delivery.  You can lay them out, like post cards from a brief vacation, a moment of respite from that which may tempt you to forget.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Fingers Crossed

We don’t often get days in mid-March when the earth stokes us with warm heat, but that’s what we got Sunday, and today too.  Yesterday, it was warm enough to sit outside without a jacket, without a fleece even, to gaze at the garden still littered with the remnants of last year’s leaves.  This morning, my daughter, an hour-and-a-half north, texted to let me know she was wearing flip-flops.  In March?  Unheard of.

Already there is evidence of spring—the wrinkled foxglove leaves where they’ve seeded themselves— green rags flopping between crevices in the rocks at the back of the garden.  

 In the side yard, blooming snowdrops mound in the grass.  Out front, purple crocuses help to hide the cement foundation under the brick porch.

We cracked the window before we went to bed last night, and woke in pre-dawn light to the soft swish of cars driving down the highway a half-mile away, and the wirt-wirt, peeb-beat of birds—sounds that come to us fresh and new each April, but this year have arrived weeks earlier.

In New England, the only thing we know to trust is the unexpected.  No matter how good things are, someone will caution us to anticipate the worst.  A snow storm in April doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.  Rarely, but in my lifetime, we’ve had snow in mid-May.  Earlier this year, I cautioned myself not to celebrate this string of warm weather too much, sure if I did, I’d jinx things.  

But as I parked the car in front of the town common today, and gazed at a woman dressed in a short sleeve shirt, sitting in front of the reflections mirrored in Meetinghouse Pond, I decided, on a day like this, it’s just too darn hard not to.

Monday, March 12, 2012

I am "It"

I’ve been “tagged.”  How bad is this? I didn’t know what that meant.  So I went to the blog of Lauren Waters, the “tagger” and found these instructions.  

1. Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP
2. Go to line 7
3. Copy down the next 7 lines – sentences or paragraphs – and post them as they’re written. No cheating
4. Tag 7 authors
5. Let them know

Before going further, I’ll confess a few truths.  I’m suffering from a severe case of blog topic drought so I was grateful for this exercise since it would result in a new post (thank you Lauren).  That said, I to, was intrigued to discover what was on page 77 of my WIP.  I paged through only to find that page 77 came at the end of the chapter and had two lines. 

So, herewith, please find page 78.  BTW, I’m not tagging anyone, but this is a fun exercise for anyone who feels so inclined.  Oh, and if I were to give this little snippet a title, I’d call the following lines: “What you see is not what you get.”

“Then they left me to stare at the man I thought I knew, a man who looked like a pale stranger, and I as I had recently confirmed, had been acting like one too. An oxygen tube snaked into his nose.  His arms were tied down, his skin, pale blue chalk.  I tried not to think about anything other than Harrison’s recovery, but the shock of the last several hours was beginning to wear off.  My mind began to probe the truth, the way a tongue finds the crater remaining after a pulled tooth.

Not only did my husband have a heart attack and drive off the road into a retaining wall, but I’d arrived at the hospital to discover he’d had a companion in the car.  That shouldn’t be a revelation, I suppose, since I’d suspected all along that he was up to something.”

Lauren has tagged a bunch of other folks, so for some fun reading, click here to find the links.

Monday, March 5, 2012

March Campaigner Challenge - Light and Dark

Here is my second campaigner challenge from Rach Writes.  The instructions are long, so if you are interested in the various writing prompts and pictures, click here.  I tried to use them all.  Then I wrote a flash fiction (200 words or less), a pitch line (under 100 words) for a book (based on the flash fiction) and added a poem, (also based on the flash fiction).  Oh yea, and I'm supposed to write in a genre I am an unfamiliar with.  Well, folks,  this is my first thriller.  Let me know what you think.  If you like it, please vote for me.  I am number 30.

Light and Dark

“Are you crazy?” Paul rubbed his leg where it had scraped against the barnacle-covered rock.  It’s 33 degrees out here.”  I tossed my wet hair, shivering. Fat dollops of water dropped off my brow.

“Didn’t you see him? The kid with the ball?  He was chasing it.  I saw him from down below.” 

“What kid?”

Ever since I got out of the hospital, he’s been waiting for me to start hallucinating again—an excuse to divorce me so he can take up with Elena.  He doesn’t believe any of it happened before; the undulating strings of light that appeared when he was away, blinding me until I hid in a closet.  

 “Jill, I asked you. What kid?”

 “He was there.  Then a trawler motored by and he was gone.  All I saw was the ball floating in the water.  So I jumped in.”

Paul handed me his coat.  “I’m going up to the club for dry clothes.” I stared at the water, digging for my reality like an impoverished child picking trash at a landfill. 
When I turned, Paul stood in the distance passing something to a man.  A boy in a red jacket bounced at his side.  

Light and Dark

Thirty-year-old Jill Garrison delights in her photography career, until frightening things occur in her darkroom.  Lights fail, the door locks, and strange smells make her choke.  When she claims the live-action-stills she develops have come to life, her husband Paul, a sound and light engineer, forces her to seek psychiatric help.  Jill wonders if she’s lost her mind until the day a boy with a ball mysteriously disappears and she witnesses her husband paying off a stranger.  Then she begins to suspect she’s not crazy, at all. 

Light and Dark is a 100,000 word psychological thriller.

Light and Dark

Time frozen,
a moment imprinted,
first glass,
then film,
a smiling
bride and groom.
A darkroom
safe haven
develops to ash.
Dream images
implode sanity,
all that is frozen
becomes real,
and all that is real

Friday, March 2, 2012


During a winter in which we’ve barely seen snow, March blew in with a roar.  I caught the tail end of it on my way to an appointment this morning. Usually I scoff when people talk about dry heat being easier to bear than moist heat.  In my mind, hot is hot.  But if I had any skepticism about applying the parallel to cold, my gloveless two minutes in front of foaming ocean today convinced me otherwise.  My hands turned as white as the froth churning up from the angry sea, and stayed that way for a long time.

That didn’t stop me from taking advantage of another photo opportunity on my way home.  Why is it, that something so damp and grey and angry and unforgiving always lures me with its beauty?  

Enjoy your weekend folks!