First Chapter Review: My Year as a Clown by Robert Steven Williams

About the book, My Year as a Clown by Robert Steven Williams

My Year as a Clown

Silver Medal Winner for Popular Fiction from the Independent Publisher Book Awards.

With My Year as a Clown, Williams introduces us to Chuck Morgan, a new kind of male hero—imperfect and uncertain—fumbling his way forward in the aftermath of the abrupt collapse his 20-year marriage.

Initially, Chuck worries he’ll never have a relationship again, that he could stand in the lobby of a brothel with a hundred dollar bill plastered to his forehead and still not get lucky. But as his emotionally raw, 365-day odyssey unfolds, Chuck gradually relearns to live on his own, navigating the minefield of issues faced by the suddenly single—new routines, awkward dates, and even more awkward sex.

Edited by Joy Johannessen (Alice Sebold, Michael Cunningham, Amy Bloom), My Year As a Clown will attract fans of the new breed of novelists that includes Nick Hornby, Jonathan Tropper and Tom Perrotta. Like others in that distinguished group, Robert Steven Williams delivers a painfully honest glimpses into the modern male psyche while writing about both sexes with equal ease and grace in a way that’s both hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time.

Buy a copy from Amazon.

Click through to read an excerpt via the Issuu Reader

My Thoughts on the First Chapter:

Robert Steven Williams is a fantastic writer. That was my first thought as I zipped through, not just the first chapter of My Year as a Clown, but the first FOUR. He’s a fantastic writer and this is a fast read. I said to myself. Hey, I’m a writer, too, and an improvisational actor. When I talk to myself, it’s not crazy, really.

But back to chapter one. This book opens with Chuck racing in his un-air conditioned car to meet his wife, an archaeologist, at the airport. He’s running late, and doesn’t want her to wait, but when he gets there, she rebuffs him. Within 24 hours, nee, within, ten, their marriage is essentially over.

That should make Chuck seem pathetic, and it is, in a way, but he’s written to be very real, if a tad more self-aware than most of the men I know, and what follows is the day-by-day chronicle of his life over the next year.

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I started reading. I knew the ‘clown’ part in the title wasn’t literal, and I vaguely remember an explicit language warning when I signed up to help promote this title, but unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last ever, there’s really nothing offensive in this book. Is there cursing, well, yes, but not for the shock value. Just because…don’t faint or anything…people curse from time to time. (I’m told in the South and parts of the Midwest that word should be written as ‘cuss’ but as ‘cuss’ is obviously an elision of ‘curse’ I’m using the word my Jersey-Girl-turned-California-Girl-turned-Texas-resident is most comfortable with.)

But back to my review. I was instantly engaged with Chuck’s story because author Williams writes in a very accessible, almost breezy (except that’s a bit girly for this material) style. We see everything from Chuck’s eyes, from his interaction with the cats and the neighbors, to his reaction when a rabbi refers to a singer as being “hot” and then reminds him that “we’re not Catholic.”

This isn’t really a ha-ha comedy, but the voice Williams uses in this book is decidedly wry, and I found myself clicking on the ‘purchase’ button to buy the whole copy. (Hey, they Kindle version is only $0.99 at Amazon, at least today.)

Goes well with: Cold beer and pepperoni pizza.

Connect with author Robert Steven Williams

Goodreads: Robert Steven Williams
Twitter: @RSWwriter
Facebook: Robert Steven Williams

This spotlight is part of a blog tour. You can see the entire tour page at the Pump Up Your Book tour page.

Spotlight on Family Interrupted, by Linda Barrett – Read the First Chapter

I’m really excited to be presenting the first chapter of Linda Barrett’s new novel Family Interruped, and to tell you my thoughts about it. But first…

About the book, Family Interrupted:

Family Room

Two years after their 12 year old daughter’s accidental death by a motorist, Claire and Jack Barnes go through the motions of celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. When artist Claire produces her gift–a full-scale oil painting of their daughter–Jack has had enough. With his daughter gone, his wife focused on the past and his 20 year old son living on his own, Jack feels like a stranger in his own home and moves out the day after the party.

Claire understands they’re heading for divorce. Two days later, when she’s alone in the house, a young woman comes to the door and hands over her infant. This is their son’s baby. The girl says, “I told Ian she’d be too much work, and I’ve got other plans.” She disappears. Ian is ready to put the baby up for adoption because his daughter deserves a good, solid family, better than what the Barneses have become. Jack and Claire must figure out what to do next.

Intersecting the main stories of the Barnes family is the subplot involving the driver of the car. No alcohol, no speeding involved. But guilt seeps into the driver’s soul and changes her life. Who will forgive this woman?

Buy your copy from Amazon

About the author, Linda Barrett:

Linda Barrett

Linda Barrett is the author of 13 novels of contemporary romance. She’s earned many industry awards through Romance Writers of America, including the Holt Medallion, The Award of Excellence and the Write Touch Reader’s award. Family Interrupted is her first women’s fiction story. A graduate of Hunter College, Linda now lives in the Tampa area with her husband. They have three grown sons and the most adorable, intelligent, super-duper grandchildren ever!

Connect with Linda Barrett

Website: Linda-Barrett
Facebook: Linda.Barrett.353

My Thoughts on the First Chapter of Family Interrupted

You can’t really judge a whole novel from one chapter, but if the first chapter of Family Interrupted really is representational of the rest of the book, I can’t imagine not liking it. Sure, on the surface the subject is grim: a couple recovering from the death of their twelve-year-old daughter and trying not to let their marriage go down the tubes, but really, that’s just the background. The rest of the story is one of finding yourself when the thing that used to define you suddenly…doesn’t.

I like the way Barrett writes – her language is vivid, but still accessible. I also like that she’s not afraid to use touches of humor. One of the gritty realities of life is that grief and laughter are often inextricably intertwined (to borrow a Douglas Adams phrase I’ve loved since I was thirteen). Laughter through tears is a core part of that, just as grinning through a fight, or weeping after sex are both normal reactions for some of us.

Ultimately, I can’t know from one chapter what will happen with Claire, but I do know that in Barrett’s deft hands the story will be interesting, compelling, and really real.

Read the First Chapter of Family Interrupted





Houston, Texas



Bellisima! Brava! Your best work yet, Signora Barnes. Maybe you give Leonardo some competition?”

I rolled my eyes and grinned at my instructor. “Leonardo can rest easy.”

Dr. Colombo teased, exhorted, or flirted with his students on a regular basis, especially the talented ones, but comparing my work to the Mona Lisa was going far, even for this powerhouse.

I stepped away from my easel and focused on a portrait of a young girl peeking sideways under half-closed lids. I’d called it, GIRL WITH SECRETS. The child held secrets I wanted to know.

“Your daughter, yes?” Colombo asked, his voice a deep rumble.

DNA didn’t lie. I nodded and said, “On the outside, Kayla’s mine, brown eyes and blonde hair, but inside, she’s her dad, an unquenchable extrovert. Sometimes, my daughter’s surrounded by   more friends than my house can hold.” My pride in Kayla overrode the mock complaint. “She’s twelve-and-a-half, almost a teenager—almost grown up—as she likes to remind me.”

“Ah-h.” He sighed as if he understood. “I have two daughters, Signora, and I know how they too much wanted to be  women, but were not ready, never ready in the eyes of their mama.”

Click here to read more of the first chapter of FAMILY INTERRUPTED !