Book Review: Hearts Anonymous: Wittiness and grit, within a dark sweet fairytale

Jonathan Dunne has proven himself to me through the years to be a writer I can depend on, and his latest book, HEARTS ANONYMOUS, again delivers.

 

First of all, I love how Jonathan Dunne talks about the inspiration for this novel in the front of the book.  I urge all readers of HEARTS ANONYMOUS not to skip over that part.  What he describes in those opening words sets the tone for the entire book in a way that connects the reader to the impending story.

 

Now for the story.  If we consider the phrase “All the world’s a stage, and the men and women merely actors”, we get a sense of the premise of HEARTS ANONYMOUS.  The difference I found however is that instead of existing as actors on a proverbial stage, Jack, Jeanie and Ruthy are living as characters in a fairytale, whose lives seem forever entwined, and whose story remains unfinished.  Jack and Jeanie appear to the reader as star-crossed lovers, who are destined to be together long after Jack’s heart stops beating, but in this book’s fairytale twist, we discover that Jack’s life has a more intricate trajectory, that he, nor this reader, could see coming.  Surviving a rollercoaster derailment is just the beginning, as he and Ruthy travel together to the origin of a fairytale that they have become embroiled in, or rather have existed in, for quite some time.  The ending I truly DID NOT see coming.

 

Jonathan Dunne does a wonderful job developing the idea of a clock that can transport people through time. As the author of a time travel novel myself, I was intrigued.  The description of the clock and all of its intricately moving parts, I loved.  And the love story aspect was dark, yet sweet.

 

It’s no secret that I love the fictitious world of Jonathan Dunne’s novels.  He continues to develop Limerick and Old Castle even further with HEARTS ANONYMOUS, a treat for this fan-reader.  Not to be overlooked are Arthur Lawless, Bonnie, Mick Munroe, and Sinbad, who graciously have “cameo” mentions within this book’s pages.  HEARTS ANONYMOUS is written with the same sarcastic wit that I have grown to love and expect from Mr. Dunne.

 

In case you weren’t aware, there is an audio format of this book, which I have decided I NEED to have.  It would be really something to hear the author himself read the pages of this novel to me, in the way his author-mind intended.

 

I recommend this book to current fans of Mr. Dunne’s books, but also to any reader who likes a bit of a twist with their fairytales.

Revisiting Old Friends

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None of what you read here today is new information.  But I had a beautiful moment this past week, and I would like to share it with you.

Many of you know that I am a Middle School music teacher as well as an author.  One of the things I enjoy most about being a music teacher is that I can have meaningful discussions with my students about the music that accompanies films.  And when those films are based on literary works, well, I just love that part of my job even more.  Our most recent discussion:  The music from the Harry Potter movies.

This discussion afforded me the opportunity to revisit those wonderful stories by J.K. Rowling, bringing back memories of my son, aged five at the time, being handed a set of the books by my grandmother.  All of the books hadn’t been written yet, but we had perhaps the first five books in the collection.  I began reading them to my son, with the plan of seeing the first movie together at the theater.

I had almost forgotten the impact of those stories on our family.  The way J.K. Rowling weaves the tale so completely, creating a multi-faceted, multi-layered world that so many of us wished was real.  Her characters became household names which we felt a full range of emotions for, from love, to empathy, to fear, to sheer hatred.  Rowling’s world of Harry Potter became an extension of our own, a fantasy we got to live out with her, if only for a short while.

The books that my grandmother had gifted to my son came at a perfect time.  Reading them and watching the films spanned a decade our lives.  The highs, the lows, the miracles, the magic.  We didn’t know it, but we needed it, and when we discovered it, we ran with it.

I waited in line for Deathly Hallows, which arrived in our local Border’s when my son was nine and my daughter was seven-months old.

And I cried when it was over.  I cried because of how beautifully she wrapped up the story. I cried because there would be no more; nothing new to look forward to.

But this week it hit me:  It isn’t over.

thank you

To be able to revisit these old friends is a gift that storyteller’s give to their readers.  I thank J.K. Rowling for being that storyteller for my family.  The Harry Potter series became a part of the lives of so many kids, of which my son was one.  Because he was the age he was when we began the journey of Harry Potter together, he got to grow alongside Harry, Ron, and Hermione, as they grew up in Hogwarts.

And I got to go through it with him.  Another gift to be thankful for.

Thank you, J.K. Rowling, for your wondrous gift to my family and the world.

 

My Post-Conference High

 

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Greetings!

I just got home from a writer’s conference, and it was a good one.  I thought I might share some of the awesomeness with you all.  First, a little bit of background:

I heard about the Lakefly Literary conference in OshKosh, Wisconsin on Twitter a few months ago, when one of my good Twitter friends posted about it.  My thought at the time:  Sounds like fun!  I wish I could go!

Then I went online, and read about the lineup of workshops and presenters.  I admit that I was not familiar with the presenters.  They seemed to be local to Wisconsin, and here I am in Northern New York.  But the workshops seemed to be just what I needed, especially the one about making a marketing plan.  Also, the price point couldn’t be beat.  But the final thing that tipped the cart for me was the fact that several of my Twitter friends would be there, live and in person, and what an opportunity it would be to meet face to face.

So I booked my conference and flight to Wisconsin!

The Lakefly Literary Conference is still pretty young, only in its 4th year.  It is small enough for an out-of-stater like me to feel welcomed, yet offers enough of what I was looking for to really make it worthwhile.

Ruth Percey, who runs the OshKosh library, puts the event on along with several other folks, and they really went out of their way to make sure that the offerings met our needs.  By the end of the conference, she knew me by name! I left there with a great feeling of accomplishment.  Being able to meet and hang out with authors and publishers is a special thing.  There were many opportunities to browse books of all sorts, and even have them signed.  New friends were made, and folks I had only known in the Interwebs suddenly became real people.

So here I sit, in my Post Conference high.  I look forward to using the information I gathered at #Lakefly16.  Feels good!

Anyone else going to a writing conference?  Have you been to any good ones recently?  Feel free to share in the comments!

 

I’ve Got a Cover To Reveal! Who’s curious?

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A little less than three months from now, Without Benefits will be showing up on doorsteps and in e-readers! But today we get a first look at the amazing cover, designed by Ashley at Cardboard Monet! Ashley even did a special photoshoot just for this cover. So check out the cover and make sure you scroll down to the giveaway below!

Here’s a bit about the book:

Emma will always be a New Yorker at heart, even though she has a perfect life in Seattle. She has a prestigious job fundraising for the Seattle Symphony, a handsome boyfriend who adores her, and a Belltown apartment with views of the Sound. It should be more than enough to keep her pain from not playing the piano, and her 9/11 nightmares, away.

But when her old college crush, Owen, comes back into her life, it’s more than just spending time with him that’s causing cracks in her picture-perfect life. As she steps back on stage, and back into the spotlight, her connection with Owen and his world, dredges up old memories that Emma worked hard to forget.

Emma’s past comes back to haunt her, forcing her to face the truth about more than just her fears of returning back to New York. As her once perfect life begins to burn down, Emma is forced to figure out what she really wants: her fundraiser and cocktail party-filled life with her boyfriend, or forging a new future with the one thing, and one person, she’s ever loved–even if it means returning to New York.

Without Benefits is a beautiful and moving exploration of modern relationships and family written in the vein of Taylor Jenkins Reid and Renee Carlino.

So here it is…

The moment we’ve been waiting for…
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Isn’t it gorgeous? Pre-order your copy today!
 

About the author:

Nicole Tone is a freelance editor, MFA student, traveller, pet collector, binge-watcher, and a self-proclaimed coffee snob. She lives in Buffalo, NY with her husband, three cats, and two very large dogs, but spends as much of her time in Seattle as possible. You can like her page on Facebook, @ her on Twitter, swoon over dream houses together on Pinterest, and add Without Benefits on Goodreads.

NaNoWriMo 2015 is over…

once upon a time

Hello, Writerly Friends!

I have grown to love NaNoWriMo.  That 30-day long leap into the throes of frantic writing exhilarates me.  Not only that, but the month of October has, through the years, become treasured as well, because that’s when I plot and plan my way through a fresh new manuscript idea.  Love it!

But, as October 2015 came lurking on my calendar, I knew, deep down, that starting something new might not be the best idea.  Sure, I still have a million ideas in my head; little snippets that will eventually become stories, or subplots within other stories.  Also swirling around my imagination are characters which are still in their embryonic stage, but will someday become mature.

This year was different, though.  Along with those gestational ideas waiting to be developed, I had a few novels that needed finishing touches.  Since my RodeoRomCom was nearly complete, that became my focus.

So, October 1, I made my plan of attack:  Scan through my RodeoRomCom, plan out where to polish, add, or delete.

But you know what they say about the best laid plans, right?  Yeah.  That happened to me.

Mid-October, my husband took me on a weekend trip to coastal Maine.  This was a much needed break and I reveled in every moment.  And that’s when I noticed the multi-toned sounds of the harbor bells.  It was these tones that awakened a sleepy, partially written manuscript I had set aside when it needed a time out.  A-ha!  An epiphany!

So there I was, mid October, and I was ready to switch gears completely.  I dug out my completely unfinished Literary Fantasy (thank you for the genre identification help, @KisaWhipkey!), and jumped in head first.  All of a sudden, the book had direction, a major focus shift, and best of all, an amazing TITLE!

So, this November, I worked on this Literary Fantasy, THREE HARBOR BELLS, which I can now say is one of the deepest, most cool pieces of writing I have ever done.  It’s still not complete, but I can see how it ends, and I couldn’t be more pleased with its direction.

In the end, this year I was not able to get 50K new words of a new novel.  But, hey, I still got so much out of the month!  And isn’t inspiration a magical thing?  Who knew that my little weekend trip to Maine would yield something so amazing?  THREE HARBOR BELLS has a really great ring to it.

Keep writing, everyone.

How did NaNoWriMo work out for you all?  Let me know in the comments!

Taking Our Own Advice

Hello Writerly  Friends!

It’s so hard to believe that it is almost the holiday season!  But this isn’t a post about the holidays.  Not really.  Well, perhaps a little.  It’s a post about how time can get away from us, and the feelings of guilt that can come along with that, from a writer’s perspective.  So, with the holiday season approaching, let us encourage each other with the gift of no guilt.

I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist that picture!

In an earlier post, I outlined how I fit writing into my teaching life.  You can read that post here.  As I look at that post, I freak out a little bit, because, my writing life at the moment isn’t at all what it would typically be at this point.  It’s not that I am so rigid that I have to fit my life to a certain mold to feel fulfilled as a writer.  I know that the aforementioned post is pretty much an outline that I try to follow on a yearly basis.  Historically, it’s a plan that has worked well.

But this year, not so much.

Life Happens 🙂

You see, time has gotten away from me.  My school schedule is somewhat different, and that has thrown a bit of a wrench into the writerly plan I used to follow.  Which coaxes the guilt to set in.  Who else has been there?  We make the grandest plans for writing productivity, and then we torture ourselves with guilt when we can’t meet our goals.  (I hope I am not alone!)

I don’t think it’s a great thing to berate ourselves for not being able to meet them.  Obviously, if you are writing to meet professional deadlines, and you have an income attached to it, that might be a different story.  But for me, I can’t let a little thing like guilt stop me.

It can be difficult to put this into perspective, but it sometimes takes years to get a book right.  Not only that, but many of us have many writing projects going on at the same time; some on submission, some merely outlined, some with Beta readers, some in a very rough first draft.  And as awesome as it is to have created so many projects, it can get overwhelming.  This again fuels the fires of guilt.

We might ask ourselves, “Why can’t I finish anything?”  When these feelings of guilt pounce into my writing life, I need to remember to step back, and appreciate the “little victories”  that I have accomplished.  So I didn’t start a new NaNo this month.  That’s okay.  So I missed a few Sunday blog posts.  It happens.

The good news?  I opened up my “guilt-free” package today and found a whole lot of great stuff!

There are always positive things we writers can look back to, and forward towards the future.  I’ve been inspired to dust off a partially written manuscript, and create some lovely scenes that I hadn’t even considered before.  And the creative mind in me always churns out new ideas to explore.  I’m going to ride that train as long as I can.

So in the end, this post is about me taking my own advice.  And getting back to the pretty little “guilt-free” gift at the beginning of this post…  I hope you can open it up and find some awesomeness to celebrate about your writing life.  Tell me…How do you deal with guilt as a writer?  What kinds of awesome are in you “guilt-free” gift box?  Please share your comments below.

Thanks for stopping by my writer’s block!