Friday, July 16, 2010

Book Review: The Doctor and the Diva by Adrienne McDonnell

The opportunity to do this book review came through Chip's Interchanging Idioms blog.
The Doctor And The Diva is a lush historical novel filled with vivid imagery and meticulously detailed settings. The story centers around Erika von Kessler, an opera singer in turn of the 20th century Boston. Based on a member of the author's family tree, The Doctor and the Diva rises above formulaic historic romance to give us a glimpse into another world - one filled with conflicting desires, expectations and overwhelming ambitions.

Unusually for a story in this setting, one of the primary characters is an obstetrician who is a specialist in conception. This subject matter, combined with a reverence for opera and the power of the music set up a conflict between a woman's desire for motherhood and career.

I do not know if Adrienne McDonnell sings, but she has very effectively captured the 'voice' of opera and the otherworldly aspects of singing this glorious music. Erika von Kessler is torn between the pull of her art and the responsibilities of motherhood, and throughout this book we feel her struggle and labor with impossible decisions. For those of us who will never open our own mouth and hear the angels of Puccini pour out, this is as close as we can get to understanding what it feels like to stand on the opera stage.

Although Erika has two men in her life and romance is a big part of the story, by books end I was entranced not by the romantic story, but by the tale of a woman finding herself - against all odds and with little to no support from the men in her life. This book is about a woman daring to BE.

Adrienne McDonnell's debut novel "The Doctor And The Diva" (Pamela Dorman Books/Viking ISBN:9780670021888) will be on sale July 26, 2010.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Who Do I write Like?

This is kind of a fun little app. Apparently, I write like:

I write like
Chuck Palahniuk
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Yep - Fight Club, Choke, Rant - you know the kind of writing that is socially unacceptable in Wyoming. It is official - my family is not going to appreciate my work!

But I think its cool!!! I mean I could have been compared to Terry Pratchett or Danielle Steele - that would have been death to my creative ambitions! Not that I haven't read those guys and enjoyed them, but they are not the kind of books that make me think for days/weeks/years afterwards. Chuck Palanuik now, those are books you can enjoy and argue over for years!

So - who do you write like?

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

New Schedule Day Two - FAIL

In order to get the re-write of my book accomplished in a timely manner I have put myself on a regimented schedule. Yesterday went great with me meeting my afternoon goal and exceeding my morning goal. Day one - success. This bodes well.

Then came today. There are so many things that get in the way of writing - but this morning I experienced the most frustrating and heinous interruption of schedule - the dreaded appointment line to get a dental appointment.

As I don't have insurance I go the Denver Health for my health care. These are the folks that help poor people like me stay marginally healthy. I have two small cavities growing. I need to get them taken care of for many reasons. Not the least of which is that they are on the right side of my mouth. The side that has one lonely molar left.

So last week I went to the dental office - spent 4 hours waiting to be seen - had x-rays and a preliminary 'glance' at the mouth and was told to call this morning between the hours of 8 and 10 to get a 'treatment' appointment. 1.5 hours of dialing and redialing finally got me to a person who said all the appointments are taken - call back in two weeks. Not to be seen - not to get the teeth fixed - but for the chance of getting an appointment. If there isn't one then, well, I can try again in two weeks after that.

American healthcare SUCKS! It is not the best. It is not the most advanced. It is CERTAINLY not the most compassionate!

{sigh} Morning writing session down the tubes. I WILL get back on track for this afternoon. My only hope to save my remaining teeth - get published and sell ALOT of books!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Readers - Friend or Foe

I just posted this article on Chip's BLOG and it got me to thinking. Everyone who endeavors in a creative field faces the double edged blade of audience approval.

If the audience truly loves you there is the danger of being labeled trite, inconsequential or 'mainstream'. If they hate you the labels change (elitist, conceited, anarchic), but the judgement is the same. In art it seems your are damned if you do, damned if you don't. 

So the answer? Do what you want. Do it well. Hope that someone else will like it.

I am currently rewriting my novel and I have been encouraged to make it juicier, scarier and more adult. I think that is a good suggestion - it needs that edge.

Of course the very things that will make it a better book will make it scandalous to my own extended family.

*Sigh* I choose Damned!!!