I’ve been editing!

So yesterday I promised I’d share what I’ve been up to editing-wise. SO very exciting! Over the past several months I have had the great pleasure and privilege to work with a few amazing authors on varying projects. None of the books are out yet, but I will definitely let you know when they are!

First, I completed a developmental edit for Anna Marie for her historical romance novel, Life According to Beatrice. By the time I finished, I was so emotionally invested in the characters that I kind of miss them! This was a one-pass edit, so I haven’t yet seen what Anna Marie has done with the story post-editing. I truly can’t wait to read it! Anna Marie plans to publish under her own publishing company later this fall.

Next, I had the chance to work on Lynn Woodall’s Sparrow and the Sheltering Tree, a lovely children’s book. Lynn is beginning the process of querying agents to publish the traditional way. I can’t wait to see the book in bookstores!

Most recently, I proofread Rafferty Lincoln Loves…, a young adult novel by Emily Williams. Earlier this year Emily published the exceptional Letters to Eloise, which I read in exchange for a review (it’s coming! next on the list. remember, I can’t review and edit at the same time…). What’s super awesome is that Emily wrote Rafferty Lincoln Loves… for charity, and all the proceeds will be donated to two horse charities. I am honored to have been a part of Emily’s charitable work, and highly recommend you get yourself a copy of the book when it’s out!

Also, and this is BIG NEWS for anyone who knows me personally and is therefore aware of my strong aversion to social media, The Edifying Word joined Twitter! Check me out @theedifyingword !

I popped up a “testimonials” tab here on the blog and I’m hoping to work in a logo, a headshot of myself, and a little more professionalization of this site in the coming weeks (ok, let’s be honest, probably months).

So, thanks for listening and being happy for my successes (you know you are! my enthusiasm is contagious, right?). Keep your eyes peeled for more excitement from The Edifying Word!

(PS – Did you just see me blog TWO DAYS IN A ROW?)

Book Review: Mary Poser by Angel A.

So, I’m back with a book review! I’ve been busy with editing projects (SO exciting, I will share!), and I just can’t manage to find the time to edit AND blog at the same time. I have to trade off.

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In any case, Mary Poser is the first book I received from NetGalley, which I was really excited about. I read it over the summer, but I’m finally just getting to review it now. The NetGalley description is as follows:

The recipe for a warm and humorous story…

In a modest bowl of Nashville, gently place a girl who is Country music, Bible belt, and a steakhouse foodie. Then add a surprise portion of exotic and handsome Anglo Indian to the container who is a passionate Bollywood director, vegetarian and Hindu.

Stir vigorously on a bed of intense attraction. At first, the ingredients will seem to clash and separate.

Keep stirring…

Include a dollop of jealous boyfriend and a meddling mother. Splash in a serving of fun and mischievous friends.

Keep stirring…

Add a dash of crazy aunt and a minister father to keep the flavors working together. Sprinkle in even more complicated family members to taste. Cook on high emotions.

The secret ingredient that cuts through the sweetness is a final layer of shocking revelation that adds a surprising depth of flavor.

Finish with a twist of ‘Oh My God! Is she really going to do that?’.

Serve as tasty bite-size chapters in a novel dish of mayhem and madness  with a side of Country music and Bollywood dancing.

To be honest, I don’t love the description and I’m not sure I would have picked it up to read had I not received an invitation directly from NetGalley, which I had been wanting to join. Now, if you’re a regular reader here you know I don’t review books I don’t like, so you know the book had to be better than the description indicates or I wouldn’t be posting this at all. And it’s true – I’m really glad I got past the sort of silly description and read the book!

I like to read books that speak to reality in an entertaining and enlightening way, and that’s exactly what this book does. Through Mary’s journey of self-discovery and her struggle to be true to herself rather than live the life expected of her, the author examines issues of religion, stereotypes and prejudice, and mental illness.

Some my favorite parts of the book, because they taught me the most, were the parts where the aforementioned Anglo Indian, Simha Das, explains his Hindu beliefs to Mary Poser, the Nashville girl. Knowing virtually nothing about Hinduism, I found a surprising amount of commonalities with Catholic Christianity. Even more interestingly to me, the things I found common to Catholicism were often the things Mary found most unlike her Baptist faith (particularly in the realm of sexuality).

The book is full of references to common stereotypes and prejudices. I’m not sure whether it makes the story more or less believable that Mary’s family manages to deal with all the hot-button issues: race, sexuality, religious beliefs. Mrs. Poser, Mary’s mother, is the character who embodies the majority of the unsavory behavior. She is a stereotype, while believing and perpetuating every stereotype about anyone unlike her. She’s pretty much insufferable, and though she comes around at the end I find her redemption a little too convenient.

Mary’s personal journey forms the basis of the story and is the most compelling part of the book. It has a very powerful metaphor in Mary’s inability to cross a particular bridge, and is full of lots of insights about a young girl trying to figure out who she is and how to find her own way in the world. While the outward issue is that Mary falls in love with an Indian Hindu man in Nashville (the horror!), Mary’s inner dialogue reveals her struggle with mental illness, particularly anxiety and self-harm. She feels she has a role to fulfil in life and struggles to allow herself the freedom to break out of the mold her upbringing has forced her into. The author, I think, does a superb job of illuminating the inner workings of an anxious mind through telling the story from Mary’s point of view. My only grievance is that I’m not satisfied with the resolution. While Mary has moments of clarity, she seems unable to actually recognize her anxiety issues (for example, she chafes at being prescribed medication for anxiety when she sees a doctor for recurring stomach issues); similarly, I feel the self-harm (specifically, cutting) issue is inadequately resolved and not given the weight it deserves.

One thing that sticks with me all these months later (that I didn’t have to reread my Kindle notes to remember) is a discussion Mary and Simha have about using the term “busy” as cover for “unhappy” when asked how one is doing – as in, “How have you been?” “Oh, you know… busy” – because “busy” seems important. I don’t think it’s an expression I’m guilty of using in that context, but it has caused me to reevaluate what it is that I’m “too busy” for, to make sure those things that truly matter don’t get lost.

This one feels a little long-winded today, so I’ll call it a day here. I found the book entertaining, well-written, and to be an interesting cultural study. Best of all, I learned from it and it made me think – it was “edifying,” if you will 🙂

So, check it out! Info about the book and the forthcoming movie can be found at maryposer.com.

4 stars!

Thank you to the publisher for providing a copy free of charge via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

 

 

Book Review: A Life More Complicated by Lizzie Steel

One of the first e-books I ever received free in exchange for a review was Running Home by Lizzie Steel. It was so fantastic that over a year later I looked up Ms. Steel to recommend the book to a friend and discovered she has written a second book, A Life More Complicated. I bought it immediately, and then binge-read it every evening while my husband was out of town (“just one more chapter, just one more chapter, just one more chapter!”) I think it only took a few nights to finish. AMAZING. So, now I’ll tell you a bit about it.

A Life More Complicated follows Josh and Corina, alternating chapters about “him” and “her,” as their individual struggles coincide and tells the tale of their ultimate redemption. Here is the summary from Goodreads:

Order, routine, solitude; the three key elements of his peaceful, uncomplicated and safe existence.

Hopelessness, fear, domination; the three key elements to keeping her contained and captive.

Worlds collide in this story of grief, courage and discovery. Hope is a dangerous emotion and surely an impossibility for two people so far gone?

‘The noise, the smells, the bright lights were all deafening. Every part of him wanted to run, but for her he didn’t. For the most beautiful woman in the world he stood amidst his worst nightmare, knowing he would do it all over again if she needed him to.’

I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll do my best to describe why I found the book so compelling. It truly is a raw, emotional story that tackles issues of grief, suicide, sex trafficking, and, ultimately, love, forgiveness, and recovery. So much of this speaks to me on a personal level. Josh’s struggles with anxiety are palpable and expertly conveyed; having struggled with anxiety myself, I understood his character and identified with how his love for others ultimately became his motivation to push beyond his comfort zone and face the anxieties head-on. Thankfully I can in no way relate to Corina’s struggle as a victim of sex trafficking, but I can relate to her inner struggle over whether her actions have the ability to make her unworthy of God’s love. Without making it central to the story but rather weaving it in naturally, Steel does a phenomenal job of conveying God’s unending mercy and Corina’s inherent worth by virtue of her humanity.

The specific characters aside, I also appreciate the power of fiction to convey uncomfortable truths about the world and Lizzie Steel’s A Life More Complicated has the potential to raise awareness about the global scourge of human trafficking. Once upon a time, I wanted to dedicate my professional life to fighting human trafficking and though that never happened, it’s an issue that represents such a profound injustice that it has always remained on my radar. While at the moment my life demands so much of me that my prayers are probably my most-effective means of contributing to anti-trafficking efforts, I do like to think that promoting A Life More Complicated can help at least a little bit by bringing the subject to light for readers in an emotional and touching way. Corina’s story makes the horrors so uncomfortably real that I think readers would be hard-pressed not to feel some connection to the issue after reading the book.

I cannot recommend a book more highly – A Life More Complicated earns 5 stars and a ringing endorsement! PLEASE – read it!

You can also check out Lizzie’s website here to see what she’s up to!