Friday, July 6, 2012

Best-selling author visits Hernando

You may remember a past post where I reviewed Into the Free, a first novel for Oxford author Julie Cantrell.  It has done phenomenally well.  Julie was in Hernando today to discuss her book and take questions from the audience. If you haven't read the book yet, please put it on your list.

She answered questions about her writing process, about the characters who came to life within her, about the little-known culture of the Romany Travelers (gypsies) and even told us about Kelly Mitchell, the queen of the Gypsy Nation who died giving birth to her fourteenth child at age 47. She was buried in1915 in a ceremony that attracted some 20,000 people.

Sound interesting?  Read more on Julie's blog:, or better yet, read the book. She told us that the first draft of the sequel is on the way to editors.

Julie Cantrell and me at the Hernando Library July 6. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Book time: Discover Jo-Ann Mapson

I started reading books by Jo-Ann Mapson several years ago. I started with Hank and Chloe and was hooked. I then moved on to Blue Rodeo, Shadow Ranch, and Loving Chloe.

Jo-Ann Mapson
What made her writing irresistible to me was that she used most of the elements that make my life what it is—Horses, Appaloosas even; dogs; great friendships; a little love story; and even jewelry by my favorite Native American designer Ray Tracey.

These elements were not the main focus, but were interwoven into the lives of her characters. Makes you want to jump in and be a character in one of her novels.  In 2000 she released Wilder Sisters and then started her trilogy on the friendships of women and the men in their lives, again set in the backdrop of horses, dogs and the floral business. Check out Bad Girl Creek, Along Came Mary, and Goodbye Earl.

Next came The Owl & Moon Cafe in 2006, followed by Solomon's Oak. And here we get to the heart of the matter. This was by far my favorite work. Here's a description from the Jo-Ann Mapson Amazon page:

Glory Soloman, a young widow, holds tight to her memories while she struggles to hold on to her Central California farm. She makes ends meet by hosting weddings in the chapel her husband had built under their two-hundred-year-old white oak tree, known locally as Solomon's Oak. Fourteen-year-old Juniper McGuire is the lone survivor of a family decimated by her sister's disappearance. She arrives on Glory's doorstep, pierced, tattooed, angry, and homeless. When Glory's husband Dan was alive, they took in foster children, but Juniper may be more than she can handle alone. Joseph Vigil is a former Albuquerque police officer and crime lab photographer who was shot during a meth lab bust that took the life of his best friend. Now disabled and in constant pain, he arrives in California to fulfill his dream of photographing the state's giant trees, including Solomon's Oak.

In Jo-Ann Mapson's deeply felt, wise, and gritty novel, these three broken souls will find in each other an unexpected comfort, the bond of friendship, and a second chance to see the miracles of everyday life.

In this she also works in a few dogs, with details of dog training and of course, a horse or two. I love it.

So, here is your charge.  Read Solomon's Oak before the sequel comes out in October.  Check out the author video for Solomon's Oak on her Amazon page. It is so powerful.

Although it Finding Casey can be read as a stand-alone novel, it follows Glory, Juniper and Joseph's story with an unusual twist.

Hope you enjoy meeting Jo-Ann.  Happy Reading.