This Coronavirus. First of all, it is a thing and I must do my part to help curb it. Events, travel, regular life activities have been cancelled. And this comes on the heels of my book launch for Curse of the Ninth! I don’t want to whine as I’m not the only one on this sinking vessel, but damn this is my story and right now it sucks! And it all makes me wonder if the universe is trying to tell me to abandon the writing ship.
It is reminiscent of my first book experience with Isabela’s Island published in 2004. Back before then, I’d first queried another book,The Apple That Fell From Grace.It seemed like it was taking forever to find an agent (after a couple of weeks), so when a small publisher from Wisconsin was excited about my submission, I signed with them. While my editor/publisher Elizabeth worked on my book, I started and finished Isabela’s Island. She loved it and pushed to get that one published first. Wow this writing stuff is pretty easy! Elizabeth and I became fast friends, discussing book signing tours (I believe she even mentioned Oprah) and how we would take a train and work our way across the country signing my book after my September, 2003 launching.
During our conversations back and forth, Elizabeth had talked about her back problems and how she was going in for a minor procedure on a Friday. Sunday, I called and her husband picked up the phone in one ring. “Hi Bob. May I speak to Elizabeth?” “Elizabeth is dead,” he said. I sucked in a breath as he added, “You know how she loved her baths?” What? “She was soaking in the tub. I should have checked on her sooner, but when I did she had slipped under the water.”
I became unmoored. My mind was reeling. What might have gone wrong during such a simple procedure? What was she doing in the tub so soon after surgery? Why did Bob sound so cavalier? Perhaps he was in shock. Honestly, I never trusted the guy (fellow authors also suspected some sort of foul play, but we’re also writers with vivid imaginations). Perhaps, there were clues in the books she’d written about an abusive naval officer husband. But what about my book? “Needless to say,” Bob added. “The company will close down. Your book will not get published.”
Of course I cried and mourned my publisher, and just because my book got sucked down the drain, I wouldn’t allow myself to cry. For cry-sake, Elizabeth had just died. But I wasn’t ready to give up on my book and because it was already so close to launch time, very quickly I landed another publisher (albeit another vanity press).
So now my book Curse of the Ninth. This time I’d do it right. First of all, it would take years of research in libraries and archives, both here and in Iowa. I’d earn my Writers’ Certificate in Fiction from UCLA. I’d workshop, pay for and go to conferences. I’d network, meet agents (buy them drinks), write, rewrite, revise, query hundreds of agents, swallow hundreds of rejections (“Not for us. Don’t give up.”), seclude from and lose family and friends (husbands), quit my good paying job and become a ghostwriter. I’d hold my head up just above the water. I’d keep going!
Three years after the completion of Curse of the Ninth, I find a publisher. Eighteen months of revisions and edits and I get a polished gem of a book. So then it launches, and I get to work setting up book events across the country, including the L.A. Times Book Festival, Barnes & Noble, and small bookstores from Mandeville to Carmel-By-The-Sea. And I’m anxious anyway because public speaking is not my thing. But then this Coronavirus is a thing – a cursed thing!
So what will I do now? I’ll not wash my hands of this – oh wait, back up. I will wash my hands and isolate for now. And then I’ll grab another life ring and keep paddling to shore.
(Credit for hand washing photo .)
The Diamondbacks played against the KC Royals (4-4). According to ArizonaSports.com, D-backs relief pitcher Andrew Chafin was dismissive Monday of fears about coronavirus and said he was not hesitant to sign autographs or shake hands. “I ain’t worried about it. I aint afraid of no ghosts (sarcastic emphasis added). I’ll go in and wash my hands afterwards,” he said. “We had a meeting the other day and they were saying something about how there’s been — I don’t know if I got this right — but like 18,000 deaths because of the flu, and we’re worried about 30 [in the U.S.] from the coronavirus. It’s the same thing, basically. I think the media overplayed it a little bit.”
Fears over the global spread of COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, have prompted major professional sports leagues in North America to close locker rooms and clubhouses to the media.
Here’s something. Please don’t take me out to a ball game! How about everyone just stay home and read my book Curse of the Ninth. Wash your hands first!
“Curse of the Ninth” Author Ruthie Marlenée Announces Book Tour
Los Angeles, CA – March 6, 2020 – Author Ruthie Marlenée released her book “Curse of the Ninth” on Feb. 4, 2020 and announced today that she would be accompanying the release with a book tour. Her tour will begin on March 29 in Carmel-by-the-Sea and she will visit five additional cities including Phoenix, AZ, Glendale, CA, Los Angeles, Sylmar and Santa Barbara. She invites you to come and say hello!
See Marlenée’s full list of tour dates below.
- 3/29 | 2-4 p.m. | River House Books | Carmel-by-the-Sea
- 4/5 | 1-3 p.m. | Barnes & Noble, Phoenix Metro
- 4/11 | 2-4 p.m. | Barnes & Noble | Glendale Galleria
- 4/18 | 2-4 p.m. |Festival of Books | USC Campus, L.A.
- 4/24 | 7-9 p.m. |Tia Chucha Centro Cultural | Sylmar
- 5/2 | 3-4 p.m. | Tecolote Book Store | Santa Barbara
- TBA | 7:30 p.m. | Silver Park Arts Literary Lounge | L.A.
Who remembers this little Los Angeles Blue Book and who can say their name is listed in this Society Register of Southern California? There was a time when I was important — the proof is in the pages. I was only three years old, but hey, I got my 1/15 inches of fame!
So what does the little Los Angeles Blue Book and Curse of the Ninth have in common. First of all, certain characters (myself included) are listed in both. Secondly, both are available on Amazon. One’s $45.00 and/or out of stock, the other Curse of the Ninth is available now wherever books are sold at a fraction of that price.
I just about make the sign of the cross as I cross the threshold into the Glendale Central Library to visit my book, “The Curse of the Ninth.” It’s Sunday and I feel like I’ve come back to church as I wander the aisles.
And then I get the chills as I stand in the sacred inner sanctum, the history room, where secrets and clues are kept, and where much of my research was done. My baby is home now — in the church for books, the library.
♫CURSE OF THE NINTH♫
“Where do I even begin? The Curse of the Ninth was an enrapturing tale from start to finish. I was amazed at the author’s ability to switch seamlessly from the perspectives of a adult men, women, then show the world through the eyes of a child from birth to adulthood. Each character’s view added to the richness of the story.
The details of American history in the 1920s, 30s, and beyond captured the day to day struggles of ordinary families, and it only added to the drama of Charley’s twisted upbringing.
I must say I absolutely loved the tiny details Marlenee added like the behavior of beloved pets and how they shape a child.
The book was a bit slow as far as pacing, but the story was so rich and complex I am not sure how the author could’ve done it any other way. I found myself thinking about it continuously after it ended. Can you say book hangover?
It was a very well done piece and I already want to read through it again.” – A.D. Faylin – Author, The Dark Pilgrim
“This is a period piece set mostly in the Great Depression. (For younger readers, that’s the 1930s). A moody and dark mystery drama about the turmoils of Dr. Wesley Marnier, an optometrist, and his youngest son, Charlie. At the opening, the death of Wesley (whom we get to know as Doc) gives rise to the strange passing over of his spirit into his son. A schizophrenic menage-a-trois. If you don’t like hints of reincarnation, this is not for you. Yet it is a compelling read.
An impulse from somewhere out of the fringes of the occult (Phowa, an ancient Chinese language, is mentioned) allows Wesley to transfer his consciousness into Charlie at birth. Very improbable, you might ask, but this makes for some interesting back-and-forth between living infant and departed father, not to mention the mother, Phoebe, a concert pianist and the main anchor character. Wesley had lived an anguished life with his drug and alcohol addict first wife, Stella. Phoebe was his last hope, via Charlie, who finally admits to himself that “she never knew a stranger.” Scattered all over the human landscape are interesting figures to flesh out the drama: Stella, Wesley’s partner Jack Warrington, stepfather George Gimble, Charlie’s older stepbrother Leland, and Charlie’s future naval psychologist Dr. Savage. Setting aside the odd cultist possession of little Charlie by his father as a gimmick, the tale is narrated predominantly from Charlie’s POV.
It is a compelling and tantalizing landscape. Charlie is mentally tortured, even from infant-hood. He remembers his birth, his first earliest experiences, his proxy view of his father, as if he was an adult. That is the affect of the father-and-son duality. Watching Charlie grow up is both painful and otherworldly. Not to mention the afterlife control, out of love, of Wesley, who’s always in Charlie’s head. Side by side with him is the equal pain of his mother, Phoebe. A lot of this is beautifully presented through musical interludes, with prodigies Leland, Phoebe and (partially) Charlie at their sounding-board of the piano.
Is Charlie really possessed by his father? How could it happen? The 1930s were full of seances with the dead – one such scene is used here. Perhaps Marlenee likes that ambiance. At one point, I found what I think of as my idea of what was really happening, as Savage tells Charlie: “…you’ve created this alternative personality you call Doc… it’s not a classic case, but I’ve diagnosed you as a schizophrenic.” If it’s a gimmick by Marlenee, it’s a good one and it works for me.
Love stories often take on these multiple dimensions, and Marlenee has the expressive power of prose to make this a tour de force. We constantly come across marvelously descriptive passages. For example, near the end, Charlie observes that “blackbirds are perched on the barbed wiring between wooden fences. They remind me of music notes on staves between brackets…” Later, Charlie’s father shouts inside his head, “Listen to the orchestra of the ocean…” to which Charlie hears “the crash of waves, like kettledrums smashing over my head.” Music is a high motif here, and it finally releases Charlie, even if it is in the oceanic symphony. There are many of these wonderful sentences, like emotional melodies scattered throughout the grand opera of Charlie’s life.
For me, a weak part of the novel’s structure is its chronology. I admit, it’s not a glaring one, but the story is told with a lot of jumps back and forth in time, from the 1910s to 1949 and beyond, etc. As a reader, I like things arranged on a linear timeline, to maintain all the developments in order, in a less confusing fashion. The main surrender to that by the author is having the very brief episodes with Charlie and Dr. Savage told in the present tense.
Celebrity seems to bring more pain than the ordinary life. The author gives us the hint that after the ninth major work (in this case, Beethoven’s), the tenth is likely to be a curse. While Mozart and Handel dispel that myth, the idea is a good meme here. The ‘music’ of a person’s life may fail miserably when the home environment becomes warped. Yet the ending, with a small dollop of syrupy sweetness, also comes like a cleansing of the readers mind, the lifting of the burden that reconciliation brings. Bravo, Ruthie Marlenee.” – Joe Boudreault, Author The Dolphin Code
“Ruthie Marlenée’s Curse of the Ninth introduces its readers to a cast of alluringly imperfect characters facing issues of grief, greed, betrayal, and vengeance in the first half of the twentieth century. An embittered, alcoholic ex-wife, a pregnant, career-focused widow, a grifting business partner with ties to the mob and eyes on his partner’s wife—their complexities all pale in comparison to the young man who’s stuck in the middle of it all and haunted by the spirit of his murdered father.
This book will speak to anyone who’s ever suffered a loss, been wronged by someone they trusted, been left by someone they loved, struggled to create their own identity, separate from that of their family’s, or had trouble letting go of the past.
Personally, I had trouble letting go once I reached the last page of the book. What a great read!” – Katherine Itacy, author Relentless: From National Champion to Physically Disabled Activist.
“I love this novel. CURSE OF THE NINTH is fresh, intriguing and poignant and will sweep you into a story that you will remember long after you finish the last page. ” — Lynn Hightower, author of THE PIPER.
“A gripping read with unexpected twists and turns. Marlenée weaves a rich, multi-generational tale with sweeping suspense that captivates the reader throughout. ‘Curse of the Ninth’ will leave you haunted and wanting more from the talented writer.”– Lori Rosene-Gambino, Award Winning Screenwriter
“‘Curse of the Ninth’ is a fascinating story. Full of suspense, I was glued to the pages until the very last word. Marlenée knows how to bring her characters to life.” –Daniela Piazzi, U.N. World Peace Recipient
They’re here! Just sayin’.
Growing up in the 60’s, every time I heard a plane fly over, I cowered. Had the Russians finally crossed into our skies? My paranoia soared. Was this the first time I’d heard some fake news.
“The Russians are Coming! ” is a phrase from 1949 attributed to United States Secretary of Defense James Forrestal who added, “The Russians are Coming! They’re right around. I’ve seen Russian soldiers.” Forrestal allegedly uttered those words while suffering from mental illness, not long before “allegedly” falling out a 16thstory window of the Bethesda Naval hospital.
The nations nerves were just as mentally frazzled for over a decade.
And then in 1966, as the anti-communism crusade subsided in the early 1960s, the Hollywood blacklist was slowly discontinued and Norman Jewison put out the comedy “The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!” starring Carl Reiner, Eva Marie Saint, Alan Arkin and Brian Keith. But…
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Ah, the writer’s life. The morning after the launch of my new book Curse of the Ninth, it’s back to the real world of rejection. Perhaps, the world isn’t ready for my next book Agaves Blues. Is it the voice, the writing, the characters? Is it just not resonating with agents and the New York publishing world? Maybe it’s just not Mexicany enough.
Alas, there is some good news to report. In response to some controversy over American Dirt, in a Los Angeles Times article published yesterday, “According to the release, the publisher made commitments to “substantially increasing Latinx representation across Macmillan, including authors, titles, staff and its overall literary ecosystem” as well as “developing an action plan to address these objectives within 90 days.”
I’m dusting off (dirt, get it?) Agave Blues now. Macmillan, where can I send my manuscript?
Not to be eclipsed by American Dirt, today is the official launch day for Curse of the Ninth (a Los Angeles Dirt story).
In the music world, there is a superstition, Curse of the Ninth, whereby a composer who produces a ninth symphony has reached a decisive landmark – to embark on the tenth is a challenge to fate.
EXCERPT: While I wasn’t a composer of music and had always discounted this concept of the curse, I wondered if somehow I’d struck a wrong chord with fate. Was it wrong to have wanted more? Was it wrong to attempt a tenth? Was our baby to be the tenth symphony of my life, and therefore a mistake—? No!” – Dr. Wesley “Doc” Marnier.