Tag Archive for: the valley of decision


By Barbara Plum (aka AB Plum)

At a recent writers’ conference, the speaker threw out an epic challenge:

·        Write down our three favorite novels
·        Rank them in order of preference
·        Exclude children’s and YA titles, plus non-fiction, plus our own fiction

Groans eddied around the room. 
Surprised by the reaction, I finished the exercise within minutes and then went a step further. I quickly analyzed several common threads shared by my choices.

I arbitrarily decided to omit memorable characters. In my opinion, characters are the obvious reason that make books unforgettable.

Here’s my ranked list, including some common threads that speak to me.

1.     Valley of Decision by Marcia Davenport.
2.     Turn of the Screw by Henry James.
3.     The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

Here’s what puts these books on my shelf of favorite fiction:

First, I read them all at pivotal points in my life:
·        Adolescence (just before leaving college)
·        Freshman year in college (admitted to an advanced English program)
·        Illness (at a turning point in my high-tech career)

Second, they’re all literary fiction (a bit of a surprise since I now more often read genre- fiction). The language and writing are evocative and layered in my three faves.

Third, they paint rich portraits of dysfunctional families (a theme I write about and find fascinating to read about).

Fourth, I compare much of what I read to these titles.

So, if I were marooned on a desert island without my magical red shoes, I’d take these three books. (I’d beg to take the King James Version of the Bible too because each of these favorite novels is told there at least once).

What about you? Is coming up with three favorites easier than naming only one? Of the three you identify, can you select one as “The Favorite”?


Barbara Plum lives and writes paranormal romance in the shadow of Google. Books 1 and 2 in Wicked Magic, her latest series are available on Amazon:  
As AB Plum, Barbara writes dark, psychological thrillers. Check out The MisFit Series Books 1-4 on Amazon:

Great Books Stand the Test of Time

Last month I invited 8 authors to dinner. Fun, exciting, and exasperating.

Exasperating because my guests reminded me of how little I read these days. In years past, I read at least a book a week. Somewhere, I’ve lost the time to do that. I now read—most frequently—in bed. Too often I fall asleep. Not because of the writing. Because I am … tired from writing my latest work or from marketing or from keeping up with the latest in the self- publishing world. Or, let’s be honest: because of poor time management.

Reading is still one of my favorite activities. I love nothing more—including marathon walking, aerobic dancing, political ranting—than reading. On my TO DO LIST in 2018 is to read—re-read a few of my favorite books:

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. She was, in case you missed it, one of the authors I invited to dinner last month. I love the “feminist” twist to this novel.

The Valley of Decision by Marcia Davenport. I read this saga in high school knowing nothing about robber barons or the United States on the brink of a world war. consider it close to the top of my favorite books of all times because of the characters, settings, themes, and writing.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. He is one of my favorite authors. His novels and short stories always peer into the darkness of the human heart. I now want to revisit this specific novel from the standpoint of an author also fascinated by dark hearts.

Dennis Lehane kept me turning pages through his Angie Gennaro-Patrick Kenzie thrillers. But Shutter Island grabbed me in a way few modern novels have. I believe—honestly, that I “got” the twist early on in the novel. Rereading, I hope, will convince me I was right (and give me a deeper insight into the whole story).

Dead Famous by Carol O’Connell left me puzzled reading it the first time and kept me asking questions about the story afterward. Mallory, as I recall, is neither the main focus nor the character who pushes the plot forward. She is unlikeable (like my psychopathic main character, Michael Romanov) and she is—perhaps—unlovable. This is one of the basic questions I asked in The MisFit Series: Is a child ever unlovable? It’s a question I asked my eight dinner guests.

If I finish this list in 2018, I have dozens more novels I intend to reread.

Have you read any of the above books? What’s your take? Would you reread any of them?

Here’s my latest addition to The MisFit Series:  

The Broken-Hearted Many. Influenced by Kathy Mallory, this sixth novel in the series takes the reader into a wounded family’s struggle to cope with the old lies and secrets which refuse to stay in the past.  

*** When AB
Plum isn’t delving into darkness, she enjoys aerobic dancing, marathon walking,
and occasionally cooking. She lives off the fast lane in Silicon Valley with
her husband.