Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Vineyard by Michael Hurley (Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Goddess Fish Promotions, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for The Vineyard by Author Michael Hurley!

Author Guest Post

Balancing Life And Writing
By: Michael Hurley

When I saw this topic suggested as a blog post for The Vineyard tour, I had to laugh. The truth is, I really don’t know how you balance life and writing. I seem to be completely consumed by one or the other at any given time.

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

Michael Hurley and his wife Susan live near Charleston, South Carolina. Born and raised in Baltimore, Michael holds a degree in English from the University of Maryland and law from St. Louis University.

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.


Book Review

The Vineyard by Michael Hurley
Publisher: Ragbagger Press
Publication Date: November 25, 2014
Format: Paperback - 384 pages
             Kindle - 540 KB
ISBN: 978-0976127567
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.

Book Description:

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.

Book Excerpt:

Chapter 10

Despite the tumultuous beginning of the season and the clouds in Dory’s future, June in Edgartown was as bright as ever, and the three friends took advantage of every minute of it. There were walks down Main Street on sunny afternoons carrying giant, round mounds of mint-chocolate-chip ice cream, teetering three-high and dribbling down onto sticky fingers before it was licked gone. There were steamed little neck clams with butter sauce and fresh horseradish, served with gin and tonics on the porch of The Crew House, overlooking the harbor, and the good-looking, Italian waiter who worked there. It became Turner’s mission to see how many times she could get him to use the word “Tanqueray” in a sentence, because she liked the way he said it. There were lazy hours lying on the beach by the lighthouse and meandering hunts for the perfect cockleshell, and double-dog dares to go skinny-dipping after dark that always descended into fully-clothed refusals, recriminations, and false accusations of prudery—the truth, however, being that none of them was eager to expose great white bellies bursting with clams and Tanqueray and mint-chocolate-chip ice cream.

© 2014 by M. C. Hurley. All rights reserved.

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.


Book Trailer

Contest Giveaway

Win A $50 Amazon or B&N Gift Card

Prizes for the tour are as follows:
• One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/ gift card.
• One randomly chosen host will receive a $25 Amazon/ gift card.

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning.

The tour dates can be found here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Virtual Book Tour

Tour Schedule:

November 3: Deal Sharing Aunt
November 3: Brooke Blogs
November 4: Laurie's Thoughts and Reviews
November 5: Unabridged Andra's
November 5: Andi's Book Reviews
November 6: Nickie's Views and Interviews
November 7: Bunny's Review
November 7: The Cerebral Writer
November 10: Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
November 10: Black Heart Magazine
November 11: Queen of All She Reads
November 11: MAD Hoydenish
November 12: Beyond Romance
November 13: Coffee Books and Art
November 14: Lilac Reviews
November 17: Book 'Em North Carolina
November 17: The blog of C.R. Moss
November 18: Our Wolves Den
November 19: Books N Pearls
November 19: Room With Books
November 20: Long and Short Reviews
November 21: Jersey Girl Book Reviews
November 21: Sharing Links and Wisdom
November 24: Margay Leah Justice
November 25: Booklover Sue
November 25: Zee Monodee - Author's Corner
November 26: Wake Up Your Wild Side
November 27: Writer Wonderland
November 27: SiMPLiSPEAKiNG
November 28: Beer, Books and More