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Love and Other Subjects
by Kathleen Shoop
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s
I gave Love and Other Subjects five stars and I’m submitting it to Awesome Indies!
For every woman who wonders if she chose the right career…
In Love and Other Subjects Carolyn Jenkins strives for two things—to be the greatest teacher ever and to find true love. She’s as skilled at both as an infant trying to eat with a fork. Carolyn’s suburban upbringing and genuine compassion for people who don’t fit effortlessly into society are no match for weapon-wielding, struggling students, drug-using colleagues, and a wicked principal.
Meanwhile, her budding relationship with a mystery man is thwarted by his gaggle of eccentric sisters. Carolyn depends on her friends to get her through the hard times, but with poverty-stricken children at her feet and a wealthy man at her side, she must define who she is. The reality of life after college can be daunting, the road to full-fledged adulthood long and unscripted. Can Carolyn take control and craft the life she’s always wanted?
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About the Author:
I’m married with two children. I’ve been seriously writing for almost a decade although I dabbled much earlier than that! I’ve had short stories published in four Chicken Soup for the Soul books, am a regular contributor to a local magazine, Pittsburgh Parent, and have had essays in local newspapers as well.
I have a PhD in Reading Education and have worked in schools for over twenty years. I work with teachers and their students in grades k-8 and am lucky to learn something new from them every time I walk through their doors. This experience was a huge help in writing LOVE AND OTHER SUBJECTS–a quirky, post-college coming of age story.
My first novel, The Last Letter (2011 IPPY Gold Medal–Regional Fiction, Midwest, 2011 Indie Excellence Finalist Award for Historical Fiction and Regional Fiction, 2011 International Book Awards Finalist for Historical Fiction and Best New Fiction), was a fascinating trip through history, punctuated with fictional characters and events. The idea for the story grew from my great-great grandmother’s letters (see My Dear Frank for the complete set of letters!) written during the year of her engagement to Frank Arthur. The beautiful letters are the inspiration for the novel, the seed from which The Last Letter’s characters and their voices grew.
I’ve also written women’s fiction–LOVE AND OTHER SUBJECTS– and have written another historical fiction novel, AFTER THE FOG, set in 1948 in a town not far from Oakmont, PA. AFTER THE FOG is also an award winning book–silver IPPY and WINNER in the literary category of the National Indie Excellence Awards.
Right now, I’m finishing up a 20,000 word short love story for an anthology and am also using my characters and setting from THE LAST LETTER as per reader request to show what happened between the two timelines in the original book! I hope readers will enjoy the fact I write about varied eras and places and that they will love each book for its unique setting and time.
It did. It changed me, not in an enormous way, but I feel different now that it is out there. I have an accomplishment that is tangible and will endure beyond me. It may reside in a used book store or a storage unit, but it’s there. I have the knowledge that I wrote a book and the confidence that I can do it again. That is enormous for me.
Before the book, I was just Kate, a mommy and a homemaker, doing what all mommies and homemakers have done since the beginning of time. Truthfully, I felt lowly and unimportant to others as a mom. My job (and I consider it to be that) is un-glamorous and possible for anyone who can produce or acquire a baby to parent. Don’t get me wrong. I also think it is the most important job in the world, to raise the next generation, and that is why it is my job, and not my hobby or my side-job. It’s just that it is a really easy field to break into.
Writing a book, however, is not something everyone can do. It makes others see me as unique and worthy. Only a week after my publishing date, I feel the rise in respect from other moms who I chat with in passing at my kids’ school. Friends I haven’t heard from in 16 years are excited about my books! My books are getting people excited! They are enthused about the one that is out and eager for the ones to come.
The publishing thing is interesting too. Even though I self-published and had control over when the book came out (har har), that confirmation of publication was a rite of passage that made me a “Real Writer”. Without the evidence they could hold in their hand (or in their Kindle) it was just a cool hobby. I have the paperback. It says my name on it.
The paperback’s arrival was especially important to my kids. To them, books are still objects. Seeing my book in physical form, not just words on a computer or an ereader, made it real to them. The interest expressed by others is what makes the book important in their eyes and not just some thing mom does on her laptop. They aren’t allowed to touch my laptop, and so it is my space. But when others notice and talk to them about it, it becomes important.
I do feel kind of like a cheater here because my writing is not something I planned to do and sat down with sheer determination to accomplish. It did take discipline and work, but that was to make it presentable. When an idea is whirling around in my head and I am looking at it from all angles and poking it to see if it will twitch, it has to eventually come out onto paper, or the screen of my laptop. The night before last, in order to stop thinking about my next day’s schedule, I made up a story about people transformed into strange beasts with a gene-altering parasite. Last night I expanded on that idea and then fell asleep had a dream about a dramatic confrontation that also could be a story, if arranged properly. There are two potential pieces of books, right there, that oozed out of me without effort.
This writing isn’t an accomplishment of will for me, it’s the manifestation of my thought processes. And it makes me look cool. “Hi, my name is Kate. I’m an author. Here’s where you can buy my book.” That is so cool! Truthfully, you probably can’t sneeze and not infect at least two authors. But I’m an author, and I can prove it, and it has changed me.
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