Posted in adventure, Craft of writing, Debut Novel, fiction, Historical Fiction, Travel Writing, Women traveling, Women's Fiction

The Gold Standard of Book Reviews

I’m thrilled to share with you the book review I received from Kirkus Reviews just last week. Kirkus Reviews are the gold standard for anonymous, fair, unbiased book reviews. Many librarians use their reviews to determine which books they will purchase and shelve. See a partial review of Song of Herself, my debut novel.

… Wiley-Jones packs her narrative with a plethora of captivating themes and images that expose Fiona and readers to India’s cultures, religions, and styles (Women “wrapped their silhouettes with sarees in every color from ruby red to sapphire blue, and marigold to lemon yellow”) as well as the building Indian resentment toward British imperialism. Then there is the chaos of Calcutta, which the author describes in vivid detail, capturing the city’s history, topography, sounds, smells, and foods. Fiona is a complex character who repeatedly turns to Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass for inspiration and guidance in her search for her own center. …

… An engaging period drama overflowing with historical tidbits.

Consider buying a copy for a Christmas gift of the book, Song of Herself !

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1639885501

Ebook: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BDK7Q54J/

Recently my friend Marge wrote me,

“I just finished your book and loved it. It was a page turner! I loved the character development and learned so much. All your hard work paid off! Thank you for the adventure. I loved the ending!!”

If you have read the book, please leave a short review of two or three sentences on Amazon. 

Posted in Debut Novel, Growing Up, Historical Fiction, Hometown Travel

You Can Go Home Again! (A visit to my hometown, Piggott, Arkansas)

Hometown of Piggott, Arkansas 

Thomas Wolfe claimed a truism that is the title of the book which many of us might agree with, “You can’t go home again.” I agree I could not go home to live there again, but I can go back for a visit. I’m always thrilled and happy to see my mom, Gaye Wiley in Piggott, Arkansas. It’s fall and it was a colorful time to travel through the Ozarks and then follow the road home to the delta cotton fields of my hometown. I grew up in Piggott, Arkansas, just like Pauline Pfeiffer, second wife of Ernest Hemingway.

Hometown Newspaper Announces my Debut Novel 

I was honored when my hometown newspaper announced my debut novel publication and therefore supported my artistic work by letting locals know of my new book.

The Clay County Times-Democrat announced my debut novel, Song of Herself (see the article by clicking here), and reminded viewers of my previously published coming-of-age travel memoir, At Home in the World: Travel Stories of Growing Up and Growing Away (found on Amazon by clicking here).

Thanks Clay County Times-Democrat!!!

Hemingway Made Piggott Famous

Turns out my small rural hometown because famous after I left when some people in high places determined to celebrate Hemingway having spent time writing in Piggott, Arkansas, at his in-laws’ house.

The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum & Educational Center, also known as the Pfeiffer House and Carriage House, is the historic home of Pauline Pfeiffer, wife to novelist Ernest Hemingway.

Carriage House where Hemingway wrote part of Farewell to Arms.

The house itself is well maintained and contains some of the original furniture and artifacts. The barn at the back of the house that was used as the Hemingway’s writing studio also has a lot of historic value.

The guided tours are informative and the staff are friendly and knowledgeable. A sister to a classmate of mine gave me a tour this trip to Piggott. I recommend making a trip to Piggott when you can to tour the house and carriage house where Hemingway wrote part of Farewell to Arms.

Covid-delayed Class Reunion

During my Covid-delayed class reunion, classmates and I had a good time reminiscing and telling stories on each other. But it was a joyous night together again with those who knew us in our raw (young, unedited) forms, before we became who we would be.

RW-J

We were saddened to learn about classmates who had died since the last time we were together and that some could not join us due to health problems.

If you haven’t already ordered my book, Song of Herself, see below

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1639885501

Ebook: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BDK7Q54J/

Recently my friend Marge wrote me,

“I just finished your book and loved it. It was a page turner! I loved the character development and learned so much. All your hard work paid off! Thank you for the adventure. I loved the ending!!”

If you read the book, please leave a short review of two or three sentences on Amazon. Tell potential readers what you liked, found intriguing, learned about another culture, or what you discovered about yourself in reading the book.

Thanks, so much!!!

Posted in Craft of writing, Description, Details in Writing, Editing & Revision, Pacing, Travel Writing

Description, Detail, and Pacing

Research that Serves the Story

In my last post, I illustrated three places in my recent novel, Song of Herself, where research served the story well. Without it, there would not have been sufficient particulars to give credibility to the characters.

As writers, we must search for and offer just enough details to render the character believable, but not so much that it bogs down the pace of the story. That’s a fine line.

Four friends have commented on that fine line and how my story achieved that for them as readers.  Here are their words.

Rhonda has taken years to craft this story and the work shows. One of the best books that I’ve read. The image of “monkeys swinging from thought…” sticks with me the most. (George H.)

You captured me with including wonderful information about things outside my world. The vocabulary of the ship and the special “horse words” are a bonus, but not ones that get in the way. (Jane W.)

Calcutta, I was there fifty years ago. You nailed it. The story flowed—made it easy to read. (Bruce B.)

The horses, you got it just right, but not too much. (Lenell D. )

Tips for Writers

  1. As writers, we must remember that readers want a fast-paced story with specifics that tell the story without slowing it down. Two to three targeted details usually get the job done.
  2. Presenting them in the context of an appropriate environment helps, as well. To find how much time is spent in a scene and then match it to how the reader experiences the story is critical. This is called pacing.
  3. Writers develop the skill of pacing over time from experience and feedback by beta-readers or writing group members helps.

If you haven’t already ordered my book, Song of Herself, see below

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1639885501

Ebook: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BDK7Q54J/

If you read the book, please leave a short review of two or three sentences on Amazon, what you liked, what you found intriguing, or what you discovered about yourself in reading the book. Thanks, so much!!!

Posted in adventure, Craft of writing, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction, Horses, Research for Fiction Writers, Women's Fiction

Research Enhances the Story

Do you ever wonder if research is done before the writing starts? Or if it’s done as the author is writing? And how does the research change or enhance the story?

For me, I found I needed to conduct more research than first realized. I discovered along the way, how many details were required to satisfy my reading audience. So I had to stop and dig for info, dates, and details. In the process, I learned that history was often on the side of the story.

The First Example: British Indian Military’s use of Polo for Cavalry Training

As I researched the game of polo, I came to know that the British Indian military utilized the game of polo to train and prepare their cavalrymen. The agility of horse and rider working in tandem and moves atop a horse were just the right skills for warfare. In addition, building a strong relationship between horse and rider was equally important.

The Second Example: The Garment, Salwar Kameez, Worn by both Men and Women

The combined garment consists of the trousers as the “salwar” and the overshirt as the “kameez.” I thought it was worn only by men, but research illustrated the outfit as fitting both men and women. This made it an androgynous attire that fit Fiona’s work life and her preference for comfortable clothes.

In addition, a salwar kameez is made of cotton or linen fabric that both shades and therefore cools one, while simultaneously allowing the breeze through the open weave of the fabric. It serves as a symbol of a paradox, a “both/and” of allowing air in while keeping the sun out. (Yes, today, we know better, but in 1906 they did not.)

Third Example: The 1905 partition of West Bengal

As I did a history dive, the 1905 partition of West Bengal reared its head. The fallout that continued into 1906, the date in which my story happened, created much unrest and many factions that each wanted to respond differently.

In the midst of this civil unrest I anticipated that the Society of Religious Friends or Quakers would be involved. In this accompanying research I learned that indeed Quakers were split on the issue of how much they should get involved.

Fun Writing & Fun Reading

With those three examples of research that served my story, I let my imagination loose to fill in some unknown details. All the more fun in writing fiction.

I hope you will find Song of Herself as much fun to read as I had writing it.

If you haven’t read the book, please choose your reading preference and order the book in one of two ways.

Order Here

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1639885501

Ebook: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BDK7Q54J/

If you read the book, please leave a short review of two or three sentences on Amazon, what you liked, what you found intriguing, or what you discovered about yourself in reading the book. Thanks, so much!!!