Category Archives: journalism

Book Spotlight: The Lady of Bolton Hill by Elizabeth Camden

About the book:
Female journalists are rare in 1879, but American-born Clara Endicott made a name for herself with her provocative articles championing London’s poor. When backlash forces a return home to Baltimore, she finds herself face-to-face with a childhood sweetheart who’s no longer the impoverished factory worker she once knew. In her absence, Daniel Tremain has become a powerful industry giant and Clara finds him as enigmatic as ever.

I want to read this book for so many reasons! First, the cover is gorgeous! Second, female journalist in the 1800s? And then there’s My Friend Amy’s review

But alas, even with all these reasons, I haven’t read it yet. Soon, I hope.

And you? Start with go an excerpt of The Lady of Bolton Hill by Elizabeth Camden.

I received this book from the publisher as part of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.


Look, no lines!

Word Lily thoughts

When did I become a person who can’t stand ruled paper?

Most of my life I couldn’t stand to use paper *without* lines. I was afraid, in part, that my writing would slope toward the end of the line, that my lines wouldn’t be parallel to each other or to the top of the page. That I’d look silly. Or stupid. That I’d make a fool of myself.

The lines kept me in order, told me where to start.

Photo credit: gruntzooki on flickr

When I worked as a newspaper reporter, I took most of my interview notes in a reporter’s notebook. Now, a reporter’s notebook is different than other notebooks in a few notable ways. For one, the dimensions of the page are different — the paper’s narrow enough to fit in one’s palm (or back pocket). And second (and most relevant to the topic at hand), the lines are really widely spaced. I was used to the narrow rules of college-ruled paper, and the reporter’s notebook is nearly twice that wide in its rules.

As I abhor waste, I could barely stand to leave multiple notebooks half empty, which is what happened when I wrote only on each line of my reporter’s notebook. Plus, doing so would require me to flip the page more frequently than I’d otherwise need to, which inevitably slowed down my note-taking. So, with only rare exceptions, I began writing two lines of notes above each rule of the notebook. This, naturally, required that the first one float, not anchored by a blue line.

I recently purchased a couple small blank notebooks, unruled. I’d run out of others that size, ruled or unruled, and I needed a place to take my book-reading notes, make lists, etc. And I’ve been using these, but I still felt hemmed in. I think the small dimensions of the pages were too stringent, too small for me. See, I had a larger-format blank book for a year or two, and apparently I became accustomed to being able to spread out, at least figuratively. A single page might have several lists, oriented in different directions. And I’d started sketching design ideas, or simply sketching to attempt to illustrate a point in conversation. I can’t draw, but some ideas are most quickly jotted down in lines, not words.

Today, I await for the arrival of my first-ever purchase of a moleskine. Large, with unruled paper. I’m looking forward to getting back some more of that freedom.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (review and giveaway)

Word Lily review

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (Dutton, April 14, 2011), 336 pages

Lincoln, thought by some to be a perpetual student, finally quit school (after several degrees) and moved back home. Now, he’s working at the newspaper, overseeing internet security and fixing printers when they need it. It’s not a great job; Lincoln’s working second shift, in a windowless office all alone. He can’t meet people, because he works when they’re awake. And he really doesn’t like snooping through private emails, but that’s what he’s paid to do.

Much of the book consists of email exchanges between two women, friends. Lincoln can’t bring himself to send them a warning, and he kind of feels like he’s become friends with them — even while feeling like a creep for reading their email.

In some ways, this is a coming of age novel. Although Lincoln’s not a teenager, when the book opens he doesn’t have a clear picture of who he is, and he’s lacking direction and motivation.

The Y2K scare and preparation aspect of the book (it’s set in 1999) is fun. I love the Omaha, Nebraska setting. I also loved being back in a newspaper office, talking about inky fingers, second shift, and copy-editing.

Overall, I found this book charming, and not entirely shallow. The book touches on themes of self-concept, esteem, ethics, fertility, and marriage.

Rating: 4 stars

About the author
Rainbow Rowell (Facebook @rainbowrowell), is a columnist for the Omaha World-Herald. She lives in Omaha with her family. She has a journalism degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Other reviews
Teresa’s Reading Corner
Books, Movies, and Chinese Food
Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Books
Have you reviewed this book? Leave me a link and I’ll add it here.

Thanks to the publisher, one of you can win a copy of Attachments! (U.S. or Canada only.) To enter, leave a comment on this post. (One entry per person.) I’ll accept entries through Monday, May 2, 2011.

ETA: This giveaway is now closed. See who won.

I received this book from the publisher. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

TV news is dead

This Just In: Local Television News Gives Up the Ghost

By Hannah Nielsen
Staff Writer

Local television news is dead.

Several sources sounded the death knell Wednesday, with abundant supporting documentation, for the local evening news, as we know it.

“It’s no secret that there’s a tendency toward bad blood between newspapers and television news,” said Stephen Jackson, Times-Herald editor. “But that doesn’t diminish the facts. People have been saying ‘Print is dead,’ ‘Newspapers are dead,’ but here we still are, hanging on.”

Sources agree, the hurdles that have risen up against local television news include:

  • The rise of cable news networks
  • The quest to find news online
  • Other credible, inexpensive news sources are drying up.

“It’s simple. As budgets grow ever tighter, the competition has grown

stronger, viewers aren’t viewing, and each broadcast has begun to cost more money,” said Ms. X, a TV news insider who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“Consumers want the news they really want immediately — online, or via text message to their phone,” said one pundit with a finger on his iPhone. “They’re selective about what they want delivered directly, but waiting until 5 or 10 p.m. and giving each story maybe 30 seconds is simply too little too late.”

But really, it comes down to this single point.

As newspapers die — and those that don’t die shrink to near oblivion — TV news’ cheapest source of news stories disappears.

“If they can’t quote the newspaper — always without citing it specifically, of course — well. Feet on the ground reporting takes a lot more time and effort,” said Suzy Smythe, Times-Herald reporter.

Film at 11.

* This article is a spoof. All quotes, names, and characters are fictional.

Listen by Rene Gutteridge

It’s Thursday of Rene Gutteridge Week! What’s been your favorite part so far? We’re not done yet, though; there’s more to come.

Rene Gutteridge Week 2011,

Word Lily review

Listen by Rene Gutteridge (Tyndale, January 2010), 432 pages

Marlo’s known as being a town where nothing bad (or newsworthy) ever happens. No one knows what to think or where to turn when a mysterious website starts publishing the private conversations of townspeople. People’s initial reactions are varied, but as hours turn into days, it becomes clear that the site could have serious consequences.

I really loved the different perspectives in this book — a couple teens, a newspaper reporter, a newspaper editor, a cop, a mom.

In some ways, this felt like an issue book — a book written to illuminate, explore, condemn, etc., a certain problem — rather than just a book. I tend to dislike stories written for the purpose of conveying a moral or message. But as time has passed since I read it, that impression, along with my irritation based on it, has faded. Instead, I’m left with the thought that this story is a somewhat new exploration of the power of words, both to hurt and to heal. What I remember in this case are the aspects I enjoyed: the characters, the emotions.

Gutteridge’s Occupational Hazard series is still my favorite of her work, but this isn’t at the bottom of the stack, either.


About the author
Rene Gutteridge (Facebook) is the author of 17 novels. On her blog she posted chapter-by-chapter discussions about Listen, as well as other content about the power of words.

Other reviews
Have you reviewed this book? Leave me a link and I’ll add it here.

I received this book from the publisher. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

Baltimore Blues by Laura Lippman

Word Lily review

Baltimore Blues by Laura Lippman, book 1 of the Tess Monaghan Mysteries series (William Morrow, 1997), 336 pages

Tess Monaghan is lost in a wasteland, after losing the only job she ever loved, doing the one thing she knew how to do. She’d been a newspaper reporter, but now she wasn’t. In her striving to make ends meet, she stumbles upon what might be her next calling.

Confession: I read this book in May, and I apparently didn’t take good notes.

I read this book after enjoying Lippman’s standalone Life Sentences [my review]. I tend to enjoy mysteries in series form, and the fact that Tess is a former reporter helped cinch the deal.

The book isn’t perfect, but it does hold promise. I’m almost positive I would have read more books in the series already if I could get my hands on book 2, Charm City. As it is, I’ve been collecting books from this series all year, and I hope to blaze through several of them in the new year.

Here’s a list of the Tess Monaghan books in order (at FictFact).

Reading this book also completes the Laura Lippman reading challenge I joined, so yay!

About the author
Laura Lippman grew up in Baltimore and returned there in 1989 to work as a journalist. She has won numerous awards for her work. Her 17th book, I’d Know You Anywhere, was released in August. After writing several standalones, the Tess story is being added to, with the previously serialized The Girl in the Green Raincoat due out in book form in January.

My interview with Lippman.

Other reviews
S. Krishna’s Books
Beth Fish Reads
Have you reviewed this book? Leave me a link and I’ll add it here.

I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

Resurrection in May by Lisa Samson, Faith ‘n’ Fiction Round Table

Word Lily review

Resurrection in May by Lisa Samson (Thomas Nelson, August 3, 2010), 336 pages

May Seymour’s graduated from college, but she’s still adrift. So when she has a chance to go to Rwanda on a mission trip, she takes it. She’s there as the genocide begins.

I participated in a Faith ‘n’ Fiction round table discussion of this book.

The writing is mesmerizing. The characters are beautifully drawn, so very human.

I quite enjoyed the journalism and photography aspects of the story. I found the rural Kentucky setting endearing.

It was an angle on the Rwandan genocide that I hadn’t experienced before, and I quite appreciated it (as I have other representations). It doesn’t, by any means, replace the need for Hotel Rwanda and the like, but it does provide a different aspect of the story. I think this story is a bit more accessible than some others, because it doesn’t begin and end in the genocide.

The healing, forgiveness, growth and resurrection themes were profound, gorgeous.

Really a great book. Awesome. All the praise I’ve heard for Lisa Samson is warranted, based on this book. I’m glad I finally read one of her books; this will definitely not be my last Samson read.

About the author
Lisa Samson lives in Kentucky.

Other reviews
Books, Movies and Chinese Food

Have you reviewed this book? Leave me a link and I’ll add it here.

I received this book from the publisher. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

Interview with author River Jordan

I’m pleased, today, to welcome River Jordan to Word Lily! She is the author of The Miracle of Mercy Land [my review]

Author River Jordan

Word Lily: What makes you believe in the power of story?

River Jordan: My experience growing up for one thing. Story, the art of telling and of listening was a part of our everyday existence. I’m thankful for my Southern heritage in that respect because I’m not certain otherwise I would have had the same kind of pacing in both my life and in my novels. My faith as well. I’m a Christian and it really is a faith that has been built in many ways on the stories handed down for generations. We treasure those ancient stories. They mean a lot to us. For instance, if a character in the Bible builds an altar to remember something, we may draw on the story over and over again in our own lives to strengthen us in times of trouble.

Word Lily: You started your writing career as a playwright; how does your background writing for the stage inform your writing of novels? Of memoir?

River Jordan: I think I give more attention to the words characters speak, the rhythm of those words, how they fall and rise. The same is true in the memoir.

Word Lily: How crucial are the elements of magical realism in creating the stories you want to tell? In the sense of wonder they evoke?

River Jordan: It always shows up as crucial but it’s not because I plan it that way. It just does. I write with a lot of allegorical meaning so a mystical character in a story may actually be a representation of the things that we struggle with in our lives and that would be different things for different people. But I really do love the sense of wonder in the world. I watch the wind blow through the tops of the trees at our place in the woods and it’s as wonder-filled and mystical, magical if you will, as anything gets.

Word Lily: I read that you have a love for the newspaper business. How did that develop?

River Jordan: I think at an early age I might have developed a romance for the woman reporter. In an age such as Mercy Land’s in the novel, which is set in 1938, women weren’t always in the newsroom. A type of Lois Lane character here and there. Then I studied both print and broadcast journalism in school, received a small journalism scholarship to a community college, and had planned to pursue that. Then I took a playwriting class and although I wrote stories all my life, wanted to write a novel, somehow the theater captured me in such a way that I took a few steps away from journalism. I still love the romance of it though.

Word Lily: A couple more general questions now. Why do you write?

River Jordan: To survive. I jokingly tell people I get sick when I don’t write and by that I mean snappy, short — that kind of thing. And I really love being able to live what I call a thousand lifetimes in one life, to travel to new places, all without living the room. The Imagination is an incredible thing and being able to meet the characters in my stories and travel to where the stories are set, to live there for awhile, is amazing.

Word Lily: Thank you so much for your time! Anything else you want to say? Am I missing something?

River Jordan: Hannah, thank you so much for the opportunity to meet new readers and share my thoughts. I love your questions and appreciate your time.

About the author
River Jordan (@RealRiverJordan) teaches and speaks across the country on the power of story. She and her husband and their Great Pyrenees, Titan, live in Nashville. She began her writing career as a playwright and spent over 10 years with the Loblolly Theatre group, where her original works were produced, including Mama Jewels: Tales from Mullet Creek, Soul, Rhythm and Blues, and Virga.

Other interviews with River Jordan

Excerpt from 13 Questions/Harper San Francisco
Chapter 16
Christian Book
Novel Journey

I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.