9 June 2015
Note From Rochelle
I just got back from the Write to Publish conference, where I spoke about Increasing Productivity and Conquering Social Media. I’m currently putting together a book of my very best social media tips. If you have something you’ve always wanted to know about social media—no matter how simple or complex—send me your questions. You may be chosen to be a beta reader for the book (which means you get it first and at no charge)!
This summer I’m welcoming guests to the blog to share their favorite writing tips and summer reads. And the best news: they’ll also be giving away books. Today’s tip is packed with book recommendations and comes from one of the members of my list, Laura Templeton! Laura’s novel Summer of the Oak Moon has just been released. Enjoy!
Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach
With an eye toward offering some great summer reading suggestions, I’d like to talk about five books that inspired me as I worked on my newly released novel, Summer of the Oak Moon. The book, a Southern Gothic romance set in the marshes of North Florida, tells the story of Tess’s and Jacob’s budding interracial romance—a relationship that sparks violence in their secluded small town. Spanning two time periods, the early 1980s and the 1950s, Summer of the Oak Moon explores changing societal views toward race, prejudice, and love.
I’ve been an avid reader all my life, and so many books have been an important part of my life that it’s hard to pinpoint a few. Even when narrowing my options to books that pertained to writing this particular novel, I had to do some serious picking and choosing. Ultimately, I couldn’t take the pressure, so at the end of the post, I’ll list a few more great reads that didn’t make the final cut.
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. I first read this YA novel in my early teens and immediately fell in love with the characters and the captivating story. I read it again with my son some years later, when it was required reading for school. Then, of course, I saw the movie a few years back. So, the story has been a recurring one for me. The Tucks and their magic spring in particular caught my imagination. I had the spring in mind as I wrote about Tess’s spring in Summer of the Oak Moon, which also has it’s own brand of magic, albeit a less dramatic one!
The Pride of the Peacock by Victoria Holt. I spent a good deal of the late 1970’s and early ‘80’s with my head stuck in Gothic romances and historical fiction. Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart and Rosamunde Pilcher fed my imagination and my desire to write my own stories. Recently, I discovered that a number of Victoria Holt’s books are available on the Kindle, so I nabbed The Pride of the Peacock, which I remembered as one of my favorites. Opal mining in Australia, a missing jewel, romance, murder, and mystery were all there, just as I remembered. I loved it as much as when I first read it!
Walking With the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement by John Lewis. Okay, a change of pace here, but I must mention this book in any conversation about my novel. I’ve read a number of books about the Civil Rights Movement, and it was this reading that influenced the underlying theme of racial prejudice that I develop in Summer of the Oak Moon. But Representative Lewis’s book stands out from the others. After reading it, I felt that I had a much clearer understanding of the challenges faced by civil rights workers and the horrors that prevailed in our country’s not-so-distant past. The story he tells is one of courage, sacrifice, and vision. I can’t recommend this book enough.
The Lost Hours by Karen White. The Lost Hours was the first Karen White book that I read. I was thrilled to discover a new writer who mingled mystery, family secrets, and romance so skillfully, and I’ve since read most of her books. (She’s pretty prolific so it’s a bit hard to keep up.) I’d already finished an early draft of my novel when I read The Lost Hours, and the similarities in theme to my book, particularly with regards to race relations in the South, struck me immediately. I especially like the way that Ms. White layers her novels to weave the complex stories of multiple generations together into one seamless, can’t-put-it-down novel.
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. I read this book while working on final revisions of Summer of the Oak Moon. My first impression of it was that it was pure genius. The story of how the lives of Nao, a Japanese schoolgirl, and Ruth, a novelist in British Columbia, intertwine is remarkable. With breathtaking, and sometimes disturbing honesty, we get a firsthand look at Nao’s unhappy life through her diary, which Ruth finds on the beach. When Nao’s Buddhist nun great-grandmother and the ghost of her kamikaze great-uncle enter the mix, the results are magical. I can’t really say exactly how this book influenced my writing. I just know that it did. I think—I hope—it made me a tad braver and more daring (as Ms. Ozeki’s prose certainly is) as I struggled to get that last draft of my own novel just right.
Finally, as promised, I’m going to cheat and mention several other books that have certainly influenced my writing: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk-Kidd (I love this book), Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt (the Voodoo woman in the story gave me the idea for the character of Lulu in my novel), and—back to nonfiction here—A Year in the World by Frances Mayes (her gorgeous, full-bodied prose always inspires me…at least, when it’s not making me feel totally inadequate!)
Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a happy, book-filled summer!
About the Author: Laura Templeton lives near Athens, Georgia, with her husband, son, and a menagerie of animals. She spends her days heading operations for a laboratory equipment manufacturer. When she’s not working or writing, she enjoys gardening, kayaking, ice skating, and taking long walks on the quiet country roads near her home. Laura is the author of Summer of the Oak Moon released May 5, 2015 and Something Yellow published in 2013. You can contact Laura by email at LauraTempleton12@gmail.com or visit her website www.Laura-Templeton.com to connect with her on social media.
Write Now! Coach Rochelle Melander is an author, a certified professional coach, and a popular speaker. Melander has written ten books including Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It). As the Write Now! Coach, she teaches professionals how to write books fast, get published, and connect with readers through social media. Get your free subscription to her Write Now! Tips Ezine at https://www.writenowcoach.com.