The New Husband by DJ Palmer: A Book Review

June 25, 2020

Have you ever read one of those books that drive you crazy, yet captivate you the entire time? The New Husband by D.J. Palmer is one of those books.

Nina Garrity is moving in with Simon Fitch. He seems so perfect. He knows all about her favorite foods, music, and movies. Her son is over the moon about him. He is always there when she needs him. 

He's a little too perfect.

The thing is Nina's last husband was anything but perfect. She found out he was living a double life and having an affair with another woman. Now that her husband is gone - presumed dead from a boating accident - she wants to focus on her new life and her new husband.

But things aren't as perfect as they seem. Simon can be controlling at times. The very idea of Nina working creates conflict. And not to mention her daughter Maggie is having a lot of problems with him.
Her son, Connor, loves him, though. 

In the book The New Husband we read this story from a variety of points of view. We read the book mostly through the eyes of Nina and Maggie. It's both outraging and thrilling to read the relationship between Nina and Simon. Through the eyes of Maggie, we see a glimpse behind the true nature of Simon's character. Once Nina tries to work and begins to question the things Simon tells her, things begin to fray at the edges. What's outraging at the same time though is that she questions herself more than she questions Simon. So often throughout the book, I wanted to yell at Nina about her self-doubt! But in a loving friend kind of way.

The New Husband is a thriller, but it's also a lesson in abusive relationships. Simon may act like the perfect husband, but he's not. There are signs along the way that he is controlling and abusive. At times, to an obvious point. You notice that the second he doesn't get his way or someone gets in his way, he'll make sure they don't stick around long. 

More than that, there is also a persistent question - what really happened to Nina's ex-husband? That becomes more important than you realize later down the road for this book.

All is not what they seem in this book. If you are looking for an exciting thriller that will also outrage you all at the same time, you will want to read this book. This roped me in immediately and I couldn't put it down.

Purchase a copy of this book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Also, be sure to add this to your reading list on GoodReads.

Read More »

It's Okay to Try Other Creative Things

June 20, 2020
Do you ever feel guilty for not writing? Do you ever feel like you should be working on [insert work-in-progress here] but instead you feel pulled to other projects?

I've been feeling like that lately and battling a sense of guilt that I'm neglecting my stories. However, I have come to accept that I am not just a short story writer. I do love doing other creative things. Sometimes those other creative things draw my attention and that's okay. 

My latest project has been to work on a blog of mine called, I started it over 8 years ago after losing my first job out of college. I wanted to talk about being unemployed and my job search experiences. Then I got another job several months later and my blog took on the form of talking about my new job and hopeful career path.

Over this past week, I've deleted over 100 posts from that blog. I had various reasons to delete them. Some ended up being far too personal than I'm comfortable with and others were far too embarrassing to leave up there. I didn't regret deleting so many posts (partly because of the fact that WordPress is nice enough to save them in the trash area in case you change your mind). However, I did wonder if this blog was worth it anymore. I even thought about deleting the blog altogether at some point.

I got motivated again when I looked at an old post I wrote talking about being a freelancer. I had written some tips for a newbie just getting started and I ended up updating it extensively.

Now, I'm back in the saddle and jotting down notes for what I want to write next.

And so all of this brings me back to what I first started talking about - it's okay to be pulled in a different creative direction.

It's not like I'm not working on my stories, but I'm allowing my creative energy to go towards something else. I think I'll always enjoy blogging and be pulled towards that platform. And that's okay.

I find that to stay inspired, it's essential to not be rigid with yourself. Explore. Try out. Express yourself in new ways. You'll be surprised by what you find.

Read More »

Writing a Stealthy Pandemic Novel by Sarah Relyea

June 18, 2020

I am so excited to have Sarah Relyea here today! Make sure you check out her book and show her some love. She has an excellent post about writing a pandemic novel. Perfect timing!

Enough has happened in the last three months to keep a good writer busy for years. It’s as though we’ve been frozen in the moment, as calamitous events pass before our eyes. Since mid-March, when the pandemic really hit, I’ve been following the ghastly parade from a third-floor apartment in Brooklyn, New York. Like everyone else these days, I’m feeling overwhelmed and struggling to get things done. It’s not what you’d imagine, though. I’m not retreating into my mind and surrendering the world—rather, I’m embracing it. The city’s still in quarantine, but tomorrow is pounding on the door, and the lock is breaking as I type. I can’t ignore it. 

Smell the lilacs from a safe distance.
Smell the lilacs from a safe distance.

Writing fiction during the pandemic is a challenge. Events have outrun imagination, and our former hopes—even our former fears—have been swept away. One day COVID-19 simply appeared, as though a sci-fi movie had burst from the screen and gone rogue. No one could follow the tangled genius of the plot. For days or weeks, we wondered who and where the bad guys were. We struggled to understand subplots featuring bats, asymptomatic carriers, and virology labs; we blamed each other. Hungry for good news, we cheered Superman in a lab coat.

Alone in the Crowd

I’ve long been interested in—and wary of—crowd behavior. And strangely enough, even while sheltering at home, I’ve been thinking about crowd responses. When unseen forces suddenly permeate our world, compelling us to cancel our normal activities, everything feels newly significant. A walk in the park becomes a foray through another country, where I’m surrounded by strangers—yesterday’s friends and neighbors!—with baffling habits. I struggle to understand new body language. How close can I stand to that person? What do her angry hand signals convey? Meanwhile, cross-cultural facial expressions—a smile or a scowl—communicate nothing, because we’re wearing masks.

We’ve all been strangers somewhere, feeling the wary glance of people uncomfortable with who we are, how we dress, and how we present ourselves. With luck, we’ve also found unlooked-for camaraderie. Now the pandemic has made us strangers everywhere—even in our own neighborhoods.

A Pandemic Novel

I may never write a pandemic novel. But I’m sure that I will use aspects of the pandemic world—the warping of human relations; the forging of unlooked-for connection—in whatever I do write. How could I forget zoom yoga and Kate Lynch’s ambulance meditation, as EMS sirens wail through the streets? Or zoom Bible study and church neighbors making music on the stoop? Or the Yemeni-American deli owner who risked COVID-19 to sell me newspapers and coffee?

Maybe I’ll drop my characters into a war-torn country, or maybe I’ll send them on a Mardi Gras parade that goes insanely wrong. After all, I’ve seen plenty of fear and masks. Remember—a novel creates an imaginary world, and a pandemic novel need not include an actual pandemic. As DJ Taylor suggests, fiction works by stealth; it deals in possibility—things that could happen in a world that could exist. As a novelist, you must not only document what’s happening; you must also feel it, absorb it, and be changed by it.

Only then will you develop an inner judge—not a censor but a judge, the part of you that administers truth serum as you write. The part that tells you what could happen—and what could never be. 

Sarah Relyea is author of the historical novel, Playground Zero (She Writes Press, 2020), a coming-of-age story set in Berkeley in the late 1960s. Her first book was the nonfiction Outsider Citizens: The Remaking of Postwar Identity in Wright, Beauvoir, and Baldwin. Follow Sarah on Facebook and Goodreads.

Read More »

#IWSG What Kind of Stories Do I Want to Tell?

June 3, 2020

I receive monthly prompts through the Insecure Writer's Support Group newsletter (sign up here!) l With everything going on in the world and in my own life, I haven't felt led to respond to the prompt proposed every month. But the one for June definitely spoke to me and I wanted to reflect on that.

The #IWSG says, "Writers have secrets! What are one or two of yours, something readers would never know from your work?"

This made me think, not because I have secrets that I'm hiding, but what I worry about often when I write is that readers wouldn't know that I am Christian from my writing. I'm not what I would consider a Christian writer, in terms of writing only stories from the lens of my faith. However, my Christian faith does often guide the message I realize I'm trying to put across in my stories. Does that make sense?

This has evolved over time, though. Two of the stories I am trying to get published right now are guided by my faith than some of my other work.

I still let my creativity do its own work as I write the first draft and sometimes I uncover the hidden meaning of the story - usually, a message that goes right back to my faith - well after I've finished the story.

All of this makes me wonder, what type of writer do I want to be? What kind of stories do I want to tell? I think that can only be answered with one thing - more writing.
Read More »
All Blog Posts Belong to Nicole Pyles. Powered by Blogger.
Back to Top