BLOG TOUR: Why Stuff Matters

WHY STUFF MATTERS
by
JEN WALDO
Sub-genre: Literary Fiction / Humor
Publisher: Arcadia Books
Date of Publication: June 4, 2019 (US)
Number of Pages: 212

 
When Jessica, a grieving widow, inherits an antique mall from her mother she also inherits the stallholders, an elderly, amoral, acquisitive, and paranoid collection. 
 
When one of the vendors, a wily ex-con named Roxy, shoots her ex-husband, she calls on Jessica to help bury the body and soon Jessica is embroiled in cover-ups, lies, and misdirection. Into this mix comes Lizzie, Jessica’s late husband’s twelve-year-old daughter by his first marriage, who’s been dumped on Jessica’s doorstep by the child’s self-absorbed mother and it soon becomes apparent that Lizzie is as obsessed with material possessions as Jessica’s elderly tenants. 
 
Why Stuff Matters is a compelling ode to possession, why people like things and the curious lengths they will go to keep them. Returning to her fictional Caprock, Waldo turns her wry wit on the lives of those afraid to let go.
 
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Inspiration behind Why Stuff Matters

Guest Post by Jen Waldo

My second novel, Why Stuff Matters, is about a young widow who, after inheriting an antique mall, must deal with the petty antics and rebellions of the shifty elderly vendors who rent booths in her building.

This novel had two inspirations—one is the setting, based on an antique mall just north of I-10 in Houston; and the other inspiration is the dealers, who charge ten times what their old stuff is worth.

The antique mall in Houston is one of my favorite browsing places, full of tarnished spittoons, bedpans, lacy shawls that have gone yellow, and a whole lot of other stuff that absolutely nobody needs. It smells of mildew and there’s a layer of dust over everything. The lighting is poor and the prevailing color is gray. Caprock Antiques, the mall in the book, so closely reflects this location in Houston that I’ve received emails from readers telling me that they recognized it from their own excursions into the cavernous building.

And the overpricing by the vendors was inspired by a time when I went with a group of church ladies to help at a resale charity shop. Our job was to hang the clothes and place the items attractively on the shelves. The task given to the pair of ancient wheelchair-bound women in the back was to put price tags on the items; and they were pricing them way too high. Eight dollars for a ten-year-old stretched-out pair of sweatpants. Ten dollars for cracked mirror in a wooden frame. One of them put a five-dollar tag on a molded plastic bowl that I’d seen for a dollar at the dollar store. So it occurred to me that these ancient women were identifying with the items. The stuff was old, worn out, and useless, and this is the way the women felt. People over-identifying with material items is the inescapable theme of the book.

While certain writers, most obviously Anne Tyler and Richard Russo, have influenced my method of juxtaposing comedy and tragedy, the peripheral characters in Why Stuff Matters are loosely inspired by the quirky citizens of Stars Hollow in “Gilmore Girls.” Their eccentricities and compassion; the foolishness of schemers and self-servers, and the surly impatience—all are found in Why Stuff Matters. In “GG,” the busybody shopkeeper, the humorless mechanic, the irritable owner of the diner, and the salacious dance teacher are the lighthearted chorus behind Lorelei and Rory’s operatic drama; and it’s to serve this purpose that I created the vendors.

In Why Stuff Matters the issue of stubbornly never letting go and over-pricing items might be exaggerated, but it perfectly reflects how some people value inanimate objects more than they value other humans. The characters filch items from the booths of the recently deceased. One of the vendors bought an entire exhibition of embalmed freakish peculiarities (hairy tumors, seven rats sharing the same tail, a pig with a leg growing out of its back) and paid a monthly fee to store them indefinitely. At one point, the vendors participate in a vicious war over a collection of antique typewriters.

This ode to materialism prods readers to give thought to why we want the things we want and what lengths we’re willing to go to in order to keep what we have.

Why Stuff Matters is a partner book to my first published novel, Old Buildings in North Texas. The reason for this designation is that they are clearly located in the same town, Caprock, and they share a similar writing style—first person, present tense. Both depict a young woman working her way through a painful emotional period, one dealing with addiction, the other with grief. If you like one, you’ll like the other.


Jen Waldo lived in seven countries over a thirty-year period and has now settled, along with her husband, in Marble Falls, Texas. She first started writing over twenty years ago when, while living in Cairo, she had difficulty locating reading material and realized she’d have to make her own fun. She has since earned an MFA and written a number of novels. Her work has been published in The European and was shortlisted in a competition by Traveler magazine. Old Buildings in North Texas and Why Stuff Matters have been published in the UK by Arcadia Books. Jen’s fiction is set in Northwest Texas and she’s grateful to her hometown of Amarillo for providing colorful characters and a background of relentless whistling wind. 

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Blog Tour: Christmas in Winter Valley

CHRISTMAS 
IN WINTER VALLEY
Ransom Canyon, #8 
by
Jodi Thomas
Genre: Contemporary / Western / Holiday Romance
Publisher: HQN
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Number of Pages: 288 pages

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Ransom Canyon welcomes you back for a Christmas that has everything you’re looking for: romance, family, and a whole lot of Texas.

Cooper Holloway would take nature over people any day—especially visiting relatives. That’s why he’s headed for a rustic cabin in remote Winter Valley, where he’ll care for a herd of wild mustangs. But Cooper’s plans are quickly thwarted by the arrival of two unexpected guests: one, a stranger in desperate need of his help, and the other, a very attractive young veterinarian.

Elliott is busy trying to keep Maverick Ranch running smoothly with Cooper gone, which is no easy task with family visiting. And when a long-lost love suddenly reappears in his life, Elliott knows he’ll have more than just books to balance this season.

With a big, chaotic family Christmas around the corner and love blooming in surprising ways, the Holloway men will have to make big choices about the future—just in time for the holidays.


PRAISE FOR CHRISTMAS IN WINTER VALLEY:

“This book has everything you would want. Laughter, drama. And tears both happy and sad. I highly recommend this book.” — Patty Champion (5 Stars, Goodreads Review)

” I could not put this book down once I started it and longed for more once I was done.” Melanie (5 Stars, Goodreads Review)

“I got lost in the world that she [Jodi Thomas] has created and enjoyed seeing her characters with their overlapping and interconnected stories find a happiness that none of them expected to ever find.” — B. (5 Stars, Goodreads Review)


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Rating :★★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copies used in those are finalized copies sent to me in exchange for my honest review.  #partner #LSBBT

It’s never too early to indulge in a romantic holiday read. As we near this upcoming holiday I recommend you check out his novel. This novel follows the lives of four different relationships each at different stages.

Cooper, one of the main characters is looking for a moment of isolation as he leaves his farm to head to a cabin for reflection. Cooper has no idea that no only will he not spend his time alone at the cabin but he will encounter a few unexpected guests.

Elliot is left to handle all the business of his family ranch as Cooper decides to take a break from the Family Farm. Elliot must not only continue to manage the finances of the ranch, deal with the family visiting the farm. But also face someone from his past. Some wounds heal over time and some don’t. Can Elliot handle everything that gets’s thrown his way or will he have to deal with more than he handles?

The author provides an additional romantic encounter that you will have you saying “aww” out loud.

The author does an amazing building of realistic relationships and the development of the characters. Once you start this book, you won’t want to put it down. Although this is only the first book I have read by this author, I am excited to read more from her. The author has a writing style that captivates the reader. She provides a realistic approach to the telling of a romance novel by using descriptive vocabulary to engage the reader. From the moment you pick up this book, you feel a connection with the Holloway family and their ranch. Since this story involves the telling of multiple relationships the author tackles the challenge of creating something that flows well with multiple plots. It can be a bit confusing keeping up with the multiple character stories, each different from the next but if you enjoy a bit of a challenge then you will love this just as much as I did.

If you haven’t read this book yet, I would recommend you pick this one up. This standalone book in her Ransom Canyon series will have you wanting to pick up a copy of her other books. I would highly recommend this book for those interested in contemporary Texas-sized romance novel that leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling at the end.

1012 LORILEI NQ 2, 2 of 2 Christmas in Winter Valley
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With millions of books in print, Jodi Thomas is both a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over fifty novels and countless short story collections. Her stories travel through the past and present days of Texas and draw readers from around the world.
In July 2006, Jodi was the 11th writer to be inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. With five RITA’s to her credit, along with National Readers’ Choice Awards and Booksellers’ Best Awards, Thomas has proven her skill as a master storyteller.
Thomas was honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas and served sixteen years as the Writer in Residence at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas.
 
When not working on a novel, or inspiring students to pursue writing careers, Thomas enjoys traveling with her family, renovating an historic home, and “checking up” on two grown sons and four grandchildren.

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October 3-13, 2019
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