The Bucks County Novels – by Margaret Sorick

Once a year (yes, I’m terrible at marketing…) I like to remind my followers that I have a series of novels available for purchase on Amazon. The novels are set in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where I live. My characters are ordinary people with families, people who fall in love and sometimes find themselves in outrageous circumstances. While the same cast of characters appears in each of the books, the plot focuses on a different one every time. The first  novel in the series: Three Empty Frames won first prize in The Writer’s Digest E-book Awards for Mainstream Fiction in 2017. Here is a look at each one of them:

Three Empty Frames  – Book OneThree Empty Frames_02_HR_front_2

Life just got complicated for Jennifer Dunne. Her dead mother’s diary has revealed clues to a famous art heist from the 1960s. Have the missing masterpieces been hidden among her things all this time? Jen is targeted by a pair of ruthless criminals who certainly think so. Meanwhile, she’s falling in love with her new lawyer, who works with her to unravel the clues. But will the fledgling relationship survive when another handsome rival appears on the scene? And have the clues to the whereabouts of the missing masterpieces led them astray? Were the paintings hidden in plain sight all along?

Seeing Red – Book Two 514HE57Sz1L

Beautiful, hardworking, Desdemona Murray doesn’t see herself the way others do. She only remembers the awkward teenager she once was. The talented landscape designer is hired to install a custom deck at the home of star football player, Ethan Samuels. When she catches the eye of the handsome professional athlete, and he begins to pursue her relentlessly, she is at first, flattered and amazed. However, her heart belongs to a man whom she believes only considers her a friend. Adam Quinn has always been a ladies man, not one to settle down, or so she thinks. Little does she know his feelings for her run much deeper. When Des finally sees both men for who they really are, the choice she must make is obvious. But when she chooses, Des finds out how dangerous it can be to break free from a man who can’t take no for an answer.

Run For It – Book Three fullsizeoutput_cc7

Joni Cooper is in the best shape of her life. In fact, she’s training for the Boston Marathon. So why does she feel like the last kid picked for the team? Mostly because her two best friends have fallen in love with a pair of handsome brothers. It looks like she’s stuck with the third and final brother, Graham, as an escort for both weddings. Even though Graham is gorgeous and successful, he’s also irritating as sin. Will the two of them manage to call a truce until the two couples are married? Or will the sparks these two generate erupt into a five alarm fire?

Tainted Inheritance – Book Four fullsizeoutput_f0c

Why would anyone want to hurt Olivia Sutton? Her life was finally coming together after her divorce. She’s found new love with contractor Leo Donovan and made a fresh start in a new home. When she becomes the victim of one too many random accidents, she realizes someone is stalking her. Has something in her past come back to haunt her? And can she and Leo discover the secret before it’s too late?

Breaking Bread – Book Five breaking bread_01 copy

Maya Kaminsky has finally realized her dream of owning a French bakery cafe, despite the opposition of her rigid, narrow-minded family. But as the business grows and thrives, Maya discovers she has an enemy. Beginning with petty mischief, the cafe becomes targeted by vandals who quickly escalate to dangerous sabotage. To complicate matters, Maya’s childhood friend, Brad Logan, moves back into town and with his recent inheritance, buys her building, intending to help her out. However, Maya’s fierce independence makes it a struggle to accept help from anyone, let alone a man with whom she finds herself falling in love. Nevertheless, Maya will need all the help she can get to save both her business and her life.

Reading Challenge 2017 – What books did you read this year?

It is the love of books that made me want to write one of my own. While it’s true that I don’t have the time to read as much as I used to –and mostly because of writing and its associated tasks– I still enjoy spending my free time with a good book. Each year for the past several, I’ve participated in the Goodreads Reading Challenge in which I set a goal of reading from a list of books within the year. My goal was to read 20 books in 2017 –a modest amount for a woman who used to read a book a week before becoming an author herself!

I am happy to say that I surpassed my goal and read 25 books! Here is my list:

  1. W.B. Yeats and the Muses – Joseph M. Hassett
  2. A Farewell To Arms – Ernest Hemingway
  3. Too Loud a Solitude – Bohumil Hrabal
  4. Loving – Henry Green
  5. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
  6. Norse Mythology – Neil Gaiman
  7. Heartbreak Hotel – Jonathan Kellerman
  8. Princess Margaret, A Biography – Theo Aronson
  9. The Complete Works of William Blake
  10. Pills – Jack Binding
  11. Camino Island – John Grisham
  12. Storm Of Steel – Ernst Junger
  13. X – Sue Grafton
  14. The Whistler – John Grisham
  15. Regeneration – Pat Barker
  16. Crowned and Dangerous – Rhys Bowen
  17. Speaking In Bones – Kathy Reichs
  18. The Obsession – Nora Roberts
  19. Time To Lie – Phil Taylor
  20. The Human Factor – Graham Greene
  21. Batman and Psychology – A Dark and Stormy Knight
  22. Black Chalk – Christopher J. Yates
  23. Don Quixote – Miguel Cervantes
  24. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  25. Bistro – Roger Moore

As you can see from the list, I don’t only read novels. The list includes two collections of short stories, two biographies, two non fiction books and a collection of poetry. Choosing a favorite from this group is difficult. Comparing books of different genres is like comparing apples to oranges, but I’ll share some of the standouts in the list, for better or worse.

I was fascinated to read the perspective of a German officer during World War One in Storm of Steel. My research on the Great War had been, with the exception of All Quiet On the Western Front, written from the standpoints of Belgium, France, Britain and the rest of their allies. Ernst Junger presents an enthusiastic (without being unrealistic) narration of his experiences as a soldier in the German Army. This is a marked contrast to the reluctant soldier (a character with whom we highly sympathize) in Erich Remarque’s All Quiet On the Western Front.

Watching season one of The Crown on Netflix made me curious about the romance between Group Captain Townsend and the Princess Margaret. Her biography was intriguing and sad. The book paints a story of a woman who embraced her royal status as much as she rebelled against conformity –quite the tale of two women. The thwarted love affair with Townsend is especially interesting and ironic considering the latest “Meg” to join the royal family is divorced, American and of mixed race. My, how times have changed! (For the better, at least in these kinds of situations.)

Black Chalk was the standout favorite of all the novels on the list. It is a psychological thriller with an unreliable narrator telling the story of a group of friends who begin a game in college which has consequences that grow ever more serious as time goes by –even to the extent of ruining lives. It was awesomely chilling!

And the biggest disappointment of the group was The Bell Jar. This is one of those books that I was ashamed to admit I had never read. Well, I finally crossed it off my to-do list but I can’t say I’m any more enriched for the experience. And I know many of you will say ‘what is wrong with you?’ when I tell you this but I was bored with the story. Bored and worn out with all the similes. The curtains didn’t just flutter in the breeze, they fluttered like the wings of half dead moths (or some such thing). Descriptions like that were stacked one top of another and it got tiresome. I also kept wondering what I was missing. This is supposed to be a life-changing book. I didn’t get it.

The previous year (2016), I failed my reading challenge thanks to an overly aggressive writing and blogging schedule and I realized I didn’t like the fact that I wasn’t taking in as many stories as I was putting out. I strongly believe that a good writer must be an avid reader. That means something different to everyone, as we all have busy lives. Most of us are carving out time from our ‘day’ jobs and our family and friends to make time for writing. How does one find the time to read as well?

My reading time is divided two ways: I read a little before bed every night and I listen to an audiobook while I exercise (nearly) every day. I may read research material for a project I’m working on as well. In 2018, I’m setting my goal at 25 books and we shall see if I can manage it with my writing goals for this year. Here’s what I have on my list, what’s on yours?

  1. Cannery Row – John Steinbeck
  2. The Catcher In the Rye – JD Salinger
  3. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
  4. The Man In the High Castle – Philip K. Dick
  5. The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way – Bill Bryson
  6. The Conspiracy Against the Human Race: A Contrivance Of Horror
  7. What We Talk About When We Talk About Love – Raymond Carver
  8. The Quiet American – Graham Greene
  9. Siegfried Sassoon: Soldier, Poet, Lover, Friend – Jean Moorecroft Wilson
  10. Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman
  11. The Obituary Writer – Ann Hood
  12. Madame Bovary – Gustav Flaubert
  13. Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty
  14. Y – Sue Grafton
  15. In Cold Blood – Truman Capote
  16. The Pearl That Broke Its Shell – Nadia Hashimi
  17. The Art Forger – B.A. Shapiro
  18. Testimony – Scott Turow
  19. The Complete Works Of Percy Bysshe Shelly
  20. Into the Water – Paula Hawkins
  21. The Breakdown – B.A. Paris
  22. Ghostwriter – Alessandra Torre
  23. Moonglow – Michael Chabon
  24. Party Going – Henry Green
  25. Artemis – Andy Weir

And if you want to read any of my books, The Bucks County Novels, you can find all four (soon to be five) on Amazon. For a preview, visit The Bucks County Novels page on my blog.

The First Novel – A new direction

It has been a tumultuous couple of months. Despite some upsets, much good has come of them. Taking a break from blogging made me realize how much effort and time I had been devoting to thinking up new material to post about. I have been distracted from my primary goal: writing and publishing novels.

In redirecting my efforts, I realized I almost need to start over in this process. Four of my novels in The Bucks County Series are published on Amazon. The fifth is in the hands of my beta readers —that one can sit on the back burner for the time being. So far self publishing has proven to be less than successful. Why? Because all the marketing and promotion fall back on the author. I have neither the time or the stomach for it.

And that is how I fell into the trap of blogging on nearly a daily basis. I love writing —that is what I want to do. I was telling myself that a popular blog would help me to promote my books. That hasn’t happened. Granted, I’m also not hitting the reader in the face with book promotion every time I write a post. That’s how timid I am about marketing. What I need is someone to do the marketing for me.

Back in early 2015, when I finished my first novel, I tried finding an agent but my fragile ego couldn’t take rejection. After only six tries, I gave up and self published through Amazon. That is not how it works. Many popular and successful authors have been rejected numerous times —sometimes for years before an agent finally agrees to represent them to a publisher. I need to brace myself for this possibility and not let it derail my process.

I also realized that my self published novels need to be the very best they can be. If an agent is even remotely interested in your query and the first five pages you send along with it, they are going to look for you in the cyber world. They will find your Facebook Author Page, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, LinkdIn, and WordPress blog. They will find your Amazon and Goodreads Author Pages. They will see that I have four self published novels. These need to be ready for view —even a brief one.

With that in mind, I have revisited my first novel: Three Empty Frames.  Three Empty Frames_02_HR_front_2In three years since I wrote the first draft of this book, I have learned so much. Fortunately, I feel like the story is strong and it’s just the writing that needs polish. And that is what I have been doing the last couple of months —putting my efforts into making Three Empty Frames ready for an agent. And while I do, I am educating myself on the query process, taking webinars on finding an agent and reading everything I can about how to do this successfully. Hopefully I won’t have to wait years for someone to take a chance.