Author Guest Post
Balancing Life And Writing
By: Michael Hurley
When I was in my thirties, I gave up a lucrative law practice in Texas to move to the small town of New Bern, North Carolina. My second child had just been born, and both were under two years old. I wanted a simpler life. I loved sailing, so I had the wild hare to become a sailboat charter captain. Within a few weeks it became clear we would starve if I didn’t go back to the practice of law, which I begrudgingly did.
The practice of law—specifically trial law—is a jealous mistress. You’re like a parachute packer, and your clients are parachute jumpers. A parachute packer never gets to have a bad day or to decide he’s just too tired or too sick or too whatever to do his job, because the parachute must open, no matter what. And so, although I had wanted to write fiction from the time I was in my thirties, there really didn’t seem to be any time between my work and the demands of a young family, not to mention getting out and having a little fun now and then, to get serious about finishing a novel.
There was a young pharmaceutical sales rep who came to town, in 1992, named Nicholas Sparks. He and his wife Cathy were about in the same boat as my wife and me—struggling to make ends meet and trying to carve out time to spend with young children and each other. I remember Nick telling me over lunch that he planned to write a novel someday. I’m sure I smiled and wished him luck, but I never dreamed he’d actually do it. After all, who has the time? He was eventually transferred to a new territory in South Carolina for his job, and I lost track of him until one day, a banner headline appeared in our local newspaper, announcing Nick’s unprecedented $1 million advance from Warner Books for The Notebook. Nick had found the time to write his novel, and it changed his life. The rest is history.
I knew from that day forward that while I’d never come even close to Nick’s phenomenal success, my cheap excuses for not finishing my own novel-in-progress were just that—excuses. You just have to commit to the fact that you’re going to finish this thing, come hell or high water, and stick with it every day, every week, every month until you do. I have an enormous problem with this, and I will sometimes leave a novel alone for months at a time. However, I notice that as I get farther along in the writing and the story begins to suck me in, the world around me starts to disappear. Whereas in the early going I might have struggled to write a thousand words in a day, now I’m reeling off five thousand words in an afternoon. You’re going to neglect a few things when that happens, and your life may slide out of balance for a while, but once the book is done and you hold it in your hands, there is a real feeling of accomplishment. That’s when I take some time off to savor the satisfaction of it all and pull my life back into a more balanced orbit before moving on to the next book.
About The Author
The Prodigal, Michael’s debut novel from Ragbagger Press, received the Somerset Prize for mainstream fiction and numerous accolades in the trade press, including Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, ForeWord Reviews, BookTrib, Chanticleer Reviews, and IndieReader. It is currently in development for a feature film by producer Diane Sillan Isaacs. Michael’s second novel, The Vineyard, is due to be released by Ragbagger Press on November 25, 2014.
Michael’s first book, Letters from the Woods, is a collection of wilderness-themed essays published by Ragbagger Press in 2005. It was shortlisted for Book of the Year by ForeWord magazine. In 2009, Michael embarked on a two-year, 2,200 mile solo sailing voyage that ended with the loss of his 32-foot sloop, the Gypsy Moon, in the Windward Passage between Cuba and Haiti in 2012. That voyage and the experiences that inspired him to set sail became the subject of his memoir, Once Upon A Gypsy Moon, published in 2013 by Hachette Book Group.
When he is not writing, Michael enjoys reading and relaxing with Susan on the porch of their rambling, one-hundred-year-old house. His fondest pastimes are ocean sailing, playing piano and classical guitar, cooking, and keeping up with an energetic Irish terrier, Frodo Baggins.
The Vineyard by Michael Hurley
Publisher: Ragbagger Press
Publication Date: November 25, 2014
Format: Paperback - 384 pages
Kindle - 540 KB
Genre: Literary Fiction
BUY THE BOOK: The Vineyard
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Goddess Fish Promotions.
Ten years after college, three very different women reunite for a summer on Martha’s Vineyard. As they come to grips with various challenges in their lives, an encounter with a reclusive fisherman threatens to change everything they believe about their world—and each other.
My Book Review:
The Vineyard is a riveting multi-layered tale about the bonds of friendship; deep secrets; troubled personal lives and relationships; faith, hope and healing.
College friends Dory Delano, Charlotte Harris, and Turner Graham reunite for the summer on Martha's Vineyard ten years after their college graduation. Each of the women have lived very different lifestyles; have dealt with personal challenges, trials, and tribulations; yet have maintained a strong bond of friendship. Their bond of friendship will be tested when an encounter with a reclusive fisherman threatens to forever change the way they view their life and the world around them.
Dory Delano is a member of one of the most established and wealthy families on Martha’s Vineyard. She has lived a life of privilege, but she desperately wants a life filled with love and passion. Dory's encounter with the reclusive fisherman and his prophesy that she has breast cancer will change her life forever.
Charlotte Harris is a lost soul after the loss of her child Madeleine, and then the demise of her marriage. She comes to Martha’s Vineyard with the express intent to end her life. The first night on the island, Charlotte leaves Dory’s home to commit suicide, but fate brings the fisherman who intervenes and miraculously saves Charlotte from dying. As her story unfolds, Charlotte's suffering is massive, but the encounter with the fisherman helps her to survive against all odds.
Turner Graham is at loose ends in her life. She has dreamed of becoming a writer and has a blog with a handful of followers. But Turner's blogging gets out of hand when she blogs about the events of Charlotte's attempted suicide and the“miracle” that kept her alive. And if that doesn't cause enough of a stir, Turner's exaggerated blog posts goes viral, and demands from the public to know more about the reclusive fisherman causes more turmoil in her life.
Author Michael Hurley weaves an intriguing tale that easily draws the reader into the story. As the three college friends come together on Martha's Vineyard, their bonds of friendship and lives are intertwined as they deal with their private turmoils. Each of these wounded women's lives will forever be altered and transformed when they encounter the reclusive fisherman, a mysterious and prophetic man who knows personal things about each of them, things that no one else could ever have known. The author does a wonderful job of delving into the complexity of the three women's lives and intertwines it with the mystery of the reclusive fisherman. This is a gripping story that will captivate the reader as the story unfolds with richly detailed description into the lives of the three women and the fisherman, and intriguing twists and turns that will keep the reader turning the pages until the pivotal and life changing conclusion.
The Vineyard is a compelling and thought provoking story about the strong connection of friendship and the complexities of life experiences and choices, and the ability to have faith and find a way to overcome, survive, heal, and move forward.
RATING: 5 STARS
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