TUESDAY SPARKS: EXCERPTING “TERRIBLE VIRTUE”

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Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by Books & a Beat.

Today’s feature is a book I am just starting to read:  Terrible Virtue, by Ellen Feldman, a provocative and compelling story of one of the most fascinating and influential figures of the twentieth century: Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood—an indomitable woman who, more than any other, and at great personal cost, shaped the sexual landscape we inhabit today.

 

 

 

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Intro:  (Chapter One)

Once, on a train going God knows where, to give still another speech, I awakened in the middle of the night nauseated.  Oh, no, I thought, pregnant again.  It didn’t seem fair.  I’d been so careful.  Then I calculated the timing.  I couldn’t be pregnant.  To calm myself, I raised the shade of the window above my berth and looked out.  I was just in time to see the sign marking the station fly by.  CORNING.  Even after all those years, merely passing through the town could make me sick to my stomach.

I can’t remember a time that I didn’t dream of escape.  When the neighborhood brats made fun of me, I told myself I’d show them someday.  When Miss Graves drove me out of school, I swore I’d never return.  How old was I then?  Fifteen?  Sixteen?

***

Teaser:  As the lights began to go on in the windows across the way and shadows struggled toward another day, I made up my mind.  I’d had enough of treating the symptoms of the disease.  I was determined to find the cure. (p. 62).

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Synopsis: The daughter of a hard-drinking, smooth-tongued free thinker and a mother worn down by thirteen children, Margaret Sanger vowed her life would be different. Trained as a nurse, she fought for social justice beside labor organizers, anarchists, socialists, and other progressives, eventually channeling her energy to one singular cause: legalizing contraception. It was a battle that would pit her against puritanical, patriarchal lawmakers, send her to prison again and again, force her to flee to England, and ultimately change the lives of women across the country and around the world.

This complex enigmatic revolutionary was at once vain and charismatic, generous and ruthless, sexually impulsive and coolly calculating—a competitive, self-centered woman who championed all women, a conflicted mother who suffered the worst tragedy a parent can experience. From opening the first illegal birth control clinic in America in 1916 through the founding of Planned Parenthood to the arrival of the Pill in the 1960s, Margaret Sanger sacrificed two husbands, three children, and scores of lovers in her fight for sexual equality and freedom.

With cameos by such legendary figures as Emma Goldman, John Reed, Big Bill Haywood, H. G. Wells, and the love of Margaret’s life, Havelock Ellis, this richly imagined portrait of a larger-than-life woman is at once sympathetic to her suffering and unsparing of her faults. Deeply insightful, Terrible Virtue is Margaret Sanger’s story as she herself might have told it.

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What do you think?  Do the excerpts draw you in?  Would you keep reading?  I know that I’m enjoying it thoroughly.

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MEMORIES OF THE PAST: EXCERPTING “SHROUD OF SILENCE”

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On a hot summer day, a young boy goes missing; what transpired during those mysterious minutes plagues his sister for years. Excerpted from Shroud of Silence.

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Overhead, the blue sky hung, thick as a quilt; like tufts of cotton, the puffy white clouds dotted the sky on that hot summer day.  In the air around me, the scent of fruit rotting in the nearby orchards assaulted my nostrils.  I scrunched my nose up as a swarming fly zoomed in for a landing and I pushed down harder on the pedals of my bicycle, eager to reach my destination.

 
It wasn’t every day that I got such an unexpected reprieve — an afternoon to hang out with my friend Casey Ayers — and I didn’t want to waste a minute of it.  Casey and her four siblings lived just down the road and around a corner from our house, probably less than a quarter of a mile.  Sometimes it seemed to take forever to get there, but today, for some unknown reason, the wheels of my bike didn’t sink into the hot asphalt.  Instead, they smoothly sailed along as if my bike tires had sprouted wings.

 
I rounded the last turn in the road, catching a glimpse of Casey’s blond curls pulled back in the familiar ponytail; I waved ecstatically.  She jumped down off the fence and ran toward me, her mouth agape to release her shout of greeting.  I pulled into the yard and jumped off the bike, tossing it down against the bushes that jutted out near the stoop.  We hugged and then ran quickly through the back door and into Casey’s room, tucked away like a lean-to in back.

 
As the oldest girl, she had the biggest half of the room, divided from her younger sister’s space by a thick curtain hung on a rod.  But today, her sister Cary was nowhere in sight.  We threw ourselves onto the bed in a burst of glee and immediately started whispering our secrets to one another.  At twelve, we had our whole adolescence ahead of us and we couldn’t wait for all the excitement to begin.

 
We read Casey’s latest issue of Seventeen, oohing and ahhing over the outfits, the hairstyles, and the makeup.  Her eyes huge with anticipation, Casey opened a top drawer in her dresser, showing off three different shades of lipstick lying neatly in a row, just waiting to be sampled.

 
After we’d tried all three shades in turn, examining our faces with the lights on and then with them dimmed, we finally set them aside, satisfied with our experiment.

 
One of the best things about Casey’s house was her mother.  Mrs. Ayers didn’t bother us…not ever.  She stayed in the front part of the house, doing whatever she was doing…Cleaning or sewing or baking.  When she made cookies, the scent wafted down the hall to us, beckoning us out to the kitchen.  Then, and only then, did Mrs. Ayers appear, wearing a big smile as she placed a big plate of cookies and a pitcher of milk on the table.  Then, disappearing into still another part of the house, we were on our own again.  She really respected our privacy.

Sometimes we watched TV in the living room while we ate our snacks.

 
After a blissful afternoon of just hanging out with Casey, I rode my bike more slowly back toward my house.  Like a magnet sucking me backward, I had to fight against the pull away from home and back to Casey’s, where the scents of baked goodies and the cozy warm voices still hung in the recesses of my mind, enticing me.  Ahead of me lay the heavy darkness of Father’s stormy moods, mixed in with Mother’s nervous silence as she rushed around to try and head him off at the pass.  And we’d all be called into service.  Trying to keep Father from going into one of his full-blown tantrums, we scurried about like so many mice trying to appease the cat.

 
On most days, I had to babysit my three-year-old brother Kevin.  Not that watching him was such a chore, really; he was actually pretty cute and his adoration felt kind of neat.

 
He’d follow me around, hanging on my every word, and calling out:  “Look, Sylbie, see my tower!  I can make it bigger.  Look!”  Or, “please, Sylbie, push me higher in the swing.  I want to fly!”

 
He couldn’t say my full name, Sylvia, but I kind of liked his version.

 
I rounded the last curve in the road and on the final stretch, I stood up in the pedals to move myself along faster.  I might as well get back and face whatever waited for me.

 
I strained my eyes toward the front of the stucco ranch house as it came into view, but something was off.  I could see Mother running around near the edge of the bushes, calling out something, her frantic movements clearly visible as I pulled into the driveway.  And behind her, Father stomped, his face glowering, and when he caught sight of me, he yelled.  “Sylvia!  Where is your brother?  And where have you been?”

 
My heart in my throat, I braked, dropping the bike where it landed.

For the rest of the story, visit Author’s Den.

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When I think of my family connections, I am reminded of moments from the past.  This story was grabbed from my own memory banks, and while the characters are fictionalized versions of people I knew, they are very close to the real thing.

Enjoy!

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TEASER TUESDAYS — WICKED APPETITE — MARCH 1

CHECK OUT THE TEASER!

Welcome to Teaser Tuesdays, the bookish meme hosted by Miz B, at Should Be Reading. We share excerpts from our current reads, and then click around the blogosphere seeing what everyone else is reading.

Here’s how it works:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.

Today I’m excerpting from a stand-alone book from Janet Evanovich, entitled Wicked Appetite.

 

Life in Marblehead has had a pleasant predictability, until Diesel arrives. Rumor has it that a collection of priceless ancient relics representing the Seven Deadly Sins have made their way to Boston’s North Shore. Partnered with pastry chef Lizzie Tucker, Diesel bullies and charms his way through historic Salem to track them down—and his criminal mastermind cousin Gerewulf Grimorie. The black-haired, black-hearted Wulf is on the hunt for the relic representing gluttony. Caught in a race against time, Diesel and Lizzie soon find out that more isn’t always better, as they battle Wulf and the first of the deadly sins. With delectable characters and non-stop thrills that have made Janet Evanovich a household name, Wicked Appetite will leave you hungry for more.

 

Teaser:  I thought about rolling my eyes, but I’d been doing a lot of that lately.  I also refrained from sighing, grunting, or doing what I really wanted to do, which was take him up on his offer. p. 146

 

What do you think he was offering?  LOL

How about what you’re teasing us with today?  I hope you’ll stop by and share….

 

DAY ELEVEN — FAMILY CONNECTIONS — JAN. 11

Family Connections

 

 

 

While considering the impact of family connections on our lives, I was reminded of my own creations.  Books I have written about dysfunctional families and loss.

My current WIP, Interior Designs, is about a woman who is reexamining her life and the connections she has established…and those she has lost.  Nostalgia follows her everywhere.

In this scene, she is visiting her grandmother, one of her favorite family members.  Someone who makes her feel whole.  But beneath the feeling of warmth, a fear lurks.

 

Gran opened the back door and greeted me with her welcoming smile.  After the gab fest with Maeve, and now with the prospect of spending time with my other favorite person, I felt renewed.  Strengthened, even, and with the guilt that had blanketed me daily for the longest time slowly dissipating, I felt as though I could move on.

We headed to the living room, where Gran had already prepared a tray.  I’d called her just before driving over, so now, I picked up the cup and sipped.  It was a delicious and fragrant tea that reminded me of something.  What was it?  My mind traipsed backwards to a time when Maeve and I had poked around in those Tower District shops, including one that specialized in incense and tea.  Yes, that’s where I’d first inhaled this scent.  “Gran,” I murmured, enjoying the aroma, as well as the taste. “What’s this tea called?  It seems familiar to me.”

“Oh, Constant Comment, I think,” she frowned slightly, as if her own memories were untrustworthy.

Which reminded me of some worries I’d been having…about her difficulty with retrieving things that she would normally have recalled right away.  But then, many older people had some of these issues, and it didn’t mean they were suffering from some kind of ailment, like Alzheimer’s.  That was always my biggest fear when it came to Gran.  As she was my best supporter and advocate, and had been for many years, I was always worried that I would lose pieces of her.  Slowly but surely, disappearing before my eyes.

Why did I suddenly fear losing everything and everyone that mattered?  First, I’d worried that Maeve would judge me if I confided some of my worst behaviors; then I’d feared losing any relationship I might develop, which seemed to be reinforced by recent events.  Zach’s betrayal mimicked my earlier loss of Hal.  Could I ever really have anyone of my own, who would be there for me forever?

Check out NaBloPoMo for more blogs participating.