Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Mad Max

One of the good things about being a member of a writers group is the input you get on your work in progress. Another good thing is seeing a fellow member's work-in-progress become a published book.

As a member of Lake Writers, I've heard Betsy Ashton read chapters from her manuscript that eventually became the novel, Mad Max: Unintended Consequences. In fact, I was one of the Beta readers a few years ago. In 2009, her manuscript won the Smith Mountain Arts Council Novel Contest.

The novel has changed in the last few years as it's gone through rewrites and revisions. When I first read it, the setting was Chicago; now it's Richmond. I remember the novel beginning at an art exhibition; now it begins in a restaurant. I didn't remember a grandchild having the ability to read other people's feelings.

The main character, called "Mad Max" by her grandchildren Emilie and Alex, enjoys her cushy life in New York. Although she and her daughter Merry are not close, when Merry is badly injured in a car crash, Max returns to Richmond to care for her and the two children. Merry is not the same physically and emotionally after the accident, and her relationship with her family rapidly declines. Max, who never intended to raise children again, now has to. Then things go from bad to worse—there's a murder and some mysteries to be solved. I won't spoil the ending by telling you what happens, but Max and her grandkids make a great team when it comes to sleuthing—and giving a murderer what he deserves.

Mad Max: Unintended Consequences is hard to classify by genre. It's women's fiction as well as mystery—and then there's the murder. And the paranormal aspect. Suffice to say, the book has something to appeal to a variety of readers, and it's a commendable debut novel.

If you live in the area, you can hear Betsy read from Mad Max herself. On Tuesday, April 16, the official book launch will be at the Westlake Library at 6:30 PM.  On Tuesday, April 30, she'll read and sign at the Franklin County Library in downtown Rocky Mount.

And she'll have books available, just in case you haven't gotten yours yet.

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