A California writer and former prosecutor reviews Sno Cone Blue!

The God of Sno Cone Blue with BRAG Medallion.The latest about my novel appears online at The Review:

…rarely have I  found a piece of literary fiction as compelling as The God of Sno Cone Blue, a B.R.A.G. Medallion honoree. As suggested by the title, the book is a masterpiece of visual imagery but it is also a penetrating commentary on the human condition. It is a showpiece not only in the quality of its writing but in the author’s management of its sensitive content.


The reviewer goes on to say

When I learned it had been a selection of the Mother and Daughter Book Club, I was apprehensive it was going to be a two-hankie family saga, but it is far more complex than an intrusion into the misadventures of a dysfunctional family. It is a two-tiered mystery with a built-in tragic love story. Thanks to the author’s wordsmithing, none of the twists in plot seem contrived. Since one level of the story unfolds in the form of letters sent at intervals from a long-dead mother to her coming-of-age daughter, I expected a heavy dose of the paranormal. However, while the novel is highly inspirational it is not fantasy. The God of Sno Cone Blue is not a ghost story. Its devils are flesh and blood.

The writer is no slouch

Linda Root is the reviewer, a fascinating woman I would love to meet. As you’ll find online, she is the distinguished prosecutor of 140 trials, two of which became featured episodes of the TV series The Prosecutors and Arrest and Trial. She’s also the author of several historical fiction novels (see links below), has taught writing at the law school level, and writes reviews (along with other accomplished authors) for The Review.

Her writeup on Sno Cone Blue is not only thoughtful and lengthy, but also beautifully written with fine literary sense. Rather than attempt to paraphrase, I’ll include another excerpt from her review of my book.

More from Linda

While Grace is always the focus of the plot, both her story and her mother’s are populated with rich characters of considerable complexity, including one of the most despicable villainesses in my wide reading and personal experiences. The author’s mastery of the descriptive phrase allows the most jaded reader to build an almost uncanny desire to see Sharon and her progeny avenged.

It’s hard to know what to say except that I am deeply honored.

If you’d like to read the entire review, you’ll find it, plus The Review’s giveaway of a signed copy of Sno Cone Blue here. If you’d like to see more about Linda and her books, access her Amazon author page. Are you in a book club that would like a personal author visit or Skype? Just drop me a line on my Contact Page.

–Thanks for reading and, as usual, your comments are welcome! Just click Leave a reply below.–

Sno Cone Blue highlighted in another newspaper!

Southeast Examiner article on The God of Sno Cone Blue.“The emotional tug makes it an ideal book club read,” says The Southeast Examiner, and the words ring true as I continue visiting with book clubs. (Drop me a line if you’d like to schedule a Skype or personal author visit.) As the article points out, the success of The God of Sno Cone Blue “has been largely through word of mouth.” And what better way?

I talked with reporter Midge Pierce in the weeks after she read my novel with her own book club. She enjoyed it so much, she wanted to write a piece not just about the book but also its setting and foundation in the SE Portland neighborhood where I grew up.

She writes, “Many of the memorable characters in her book are drawn from Turnquist’s interactions on a street in Lents that is little changed in 50 years.”

So true!

The God of Sno Cone Blue with BRAG Medallion.While none of my characters is a precise replica of anyone, their seemingly eccentric traits were not unusual in 1960s and early 70s outer Southeast Portland. We were gritty and quirky, hard-working and poor, sometimes bright and sometimes backward and often hard-living, but also honest and real, salt of the earth.

In her research for the newspaper piece, Pierce came with me to the Lents neighborhood and the home where my parents still live. She saw the property next to them, that has been chopped up for denser housing, but also Lents Park and Pardee Street which are mostly unchanged after the neighborhood fought off a big new baseball stadium. The old field remains, and from my parents’ house on summer nights, you can still hear the games. Oh, how I love that.

There’s more

If you’d like to read Pierce’s full article–she also covers some thoughts on writing and the writing process–access it here. If you’re interested in retail options for The God of Sno Cone Blue (it’s in paperback and various eBooks) check out my Buy Books page. And again, to schedule a book club visit (or Skype from a distance) just leave me a note on my Contact Page!

Thanks for reading and, as usual, your comments are welcome. Just click Leave a reply below.

KXL stories on Sno Cone Blue!

Rosemary Reynolds at KXL radio station.In case you missed it on Portland’s KXL Radio, here’s the audio of Rosemary Reynolds’ coverage. She filed two reports, short and sweet, on The God of Sno Cone Blue.

On a personal note, both of my aging, fragile parents happened to be in the room listening with me when the first story came on the air. What a joy that was! Thanks, Rosemary.

The first story:

And second:

That voice! Rosemary, you are the definition of smooth. It was a pleasure talking with you.

Are you in a book club?

If so, I’m happy to visit with your group–or Skype from afar. Just drop me a line on my contact page.

Need a Christmas gift?

The novel is available in two book stores so far, New Renaissance on 23rd in Portland and Jacobsen’s Books on Main Street in Hillsboro. You can also order paperback or Ebook copies by clicking through my Buy Books page. Thanks for visiting!

–As always, your comments are welcome. Just click Leave a reply below–


Sno Cone Blue on Portland radio!

Rosemary Reynolds at KXL radio station.Tune in to KXL (FM News 101) this Thanksgiving Day afternoon for a story on The God of Sno Cone Blue. I had a great time talking with veteran radio reporter Rosemary Reynolds about my novel, her voice so familiar, it was like chatting with an old friend.

Rosemary has been covering the news in Portland for well over 30 years, so it’s no surprise she was thorough. She asked great questions and let me crow about my successes, including the 18 book clubs (and counting) I’ve met with so far. (If you too would like a book club visit or Skype, drop me a line on my contact page.)

Rosemary and I talked longer than I expected–radio stories are short!–so it’ll be fun to hear what she includes in the piece. She edits her own sound too (incredibly skilled) and snapped a picture of me and my book for the KXL website. The station plans to air the story on Thursday (for sure in the afternoon), so tune in to KXL (FM 101) either at home or on your drive from Thanksgiving dinner.

Thanks Rosemary! It was a joy talking with you. And congratulations on an amazing career. You’re an inspiration.

–As always, your comments are welcome. Just click Leave a reply below–


All I need to know I learned at the market

View of a holiday market with jewelry.The best lesson? How to see “No” as a positive, and I mean a really big positive. I’m talking sales and marketing, looking for a job or, heck, even finding a spouse (if you happen to be looking for one). But before I go further, it would help to know what I mean by “the market.” I’ve spent a fair chunk of time the past few months selling my novel at farmers markets and, more recently, holiday markets (for upcoming dates, see my events page). Do I think these venues are the end-all, be-all? No, but besides being great sites for people watching–and homemade and homegrown stuff–they offer interesting lessons for life.

How so?

Marcia at a holiday market with her books.At the market, as in life, you’ll hear far more No’s than Yeses. Would you like to look at my book? No. Are you a reader? No. Sometimes the responses are comical and sometimes they’re just darn irritating. At my table, wherever I may be, I sit with my books and ask shoppers passing by if they’re interested. The responses I get are as varied as DNA. A few will say “Yes” and even dash to the table, all smiles, gushing a life-long love affair with books. What could be better? But alas, they’re a minority.

Most people are not big readers, which I saw first-hand at the market. Either they don’t get into books or they simply don’t have time. Their responses, as they pass by without looking, typically mirror one of the following: They say “No thank you” and keep walking; They say “I’m in a hurry” and keep walking; They open their mouths but don’t say anything and keep walking (which is always fun); Or they say “I don’t have money” and keep walking. (Wait, then why are you at the market?)

Holiday market wider shot.Also fun are the people who stop, look at the book, read both covers, love the premise of the story, nab a bookmark with my website, tie up my table to learn about publishing and then leave without buying.

I always say, “Thank you for stopping!” and hope for an eBook sale.

Oh yes she did

But my favorite, of all time, was honestly and truthfully, one of the sweetest people you could imagine: an elderly woman–yes, a little old lady–with her little old husband in tow.

“Is this your book?” she said, with glee.

“Yes it is,” I answered, beaming.

“And you wrote the whole thing?”

“Yes, the whole thing.”

“And you live around here?”

“About six minutes away.”

“That’s wonderful!”

“Well, thank you.”

“No, really, that’s exciting! You’re a local author and this is your book!”

“Yes,” I said, “and I have signed copies here for $12. Would you like to buy one?

“Oh, no,” she exclaimed, “I would never pay $12 dollars for a book! I get them free at the library.”

Despite all this, I’ve found success at the markets too. I’ve made multiple book club connections, sold to readers who wrote amazing reviews, learned my target audience (mostly women older than 30) by selling books to them in person, handed out dozens of bookmarks that became Kindle sales, met other writers and got excellent marketing tips. Not to mention what I discovered about my novel: the first impressions, the pros and cons of my cover, and thoughts on The God of Sno Cone Blue as a title–Oh, the things people assume!

It really works

Holiday market hats, etc.Best of all are the lessons I learned that are useful in everyday life: like reaching out and taking chances, like being prepared for whatever may come. But my absolute favorite is the lesson of “No,” and it works, it really works! Instead of seeing No as a negative, consider it one step closer to your next Yes. That’s right: one step closer. Because we all know there’s another Yes down the road. The problem is we get discouraged waiting for it, and how effective are we then?

So, instead of seeing No as a negative–in life or on the job, building a business or fostering relationships–think of it instead as one step closer to your next Yes. Here’s what it did for me: It changed my attitude, it turned me into a better salesman, and it made the work exponentially more enjoyable.

Come pay a visit

I’ll get more practice in the coming weeks with turning No into a positive. Holiday markets are in full swing and I’ll be signing my book at a slew of them. If you’d like to drop in on one, check the schedule on my events page. When you spot my table, saunter over and say “No” and we’ll share a laugh.

–As always, your comments are welcome. Just click Leave a reply below–


My first blog interviews!

The God of Sno Cone Blue with BRAG Medallion.What is it about my novel that embarrassed me? Where does the weird title come from? Does the reference to God mean it’s “religious”? The answers to these questions–if you’re curious–can be found in two online interviews, my very first (and second) blog interviews. (See links below.)

Both are active websites that not only interview authors but also post extended reviews on books. The most recent interview is a companion site to indieBRAG, the independent reviewer that awarded The God of Sno Cone Blue 5-stars and a BRAG Medallion and that currently features the novel on its home page.

What’s in a name?

The novel’s title is part of the discussion; also my inspiration, how long it took me to write the book, the cover art, characters and more. Here’s a sample of the indieBRAG companion interview by Stephanie Hopkins.

Stephanie: I love your title! How did you come up with it and how does it tie into your story?

Marcia: The phrase “sno cone blue” appears on the first page as my main character, Grace, describes the color of the sky during a pivotal moment in her life. Readers discover the depth of its significance later, though I’d spoil it if I explained how!

The title of my book often comes up. Some people read it and assume the book is “religious,” which can be a negative or a positive, depending on the reader’s perspective. The truth is, the story is neither “religious” nor “proselytizing.” They also wonder if it is autobiographical, and the answer is no: I was not a preacher’s daughter. I chose the setting for a simple reason: to make questions of faith and doubt, mistakes and redemption feel natural. As Grace loses her mother and begins to learn her secrets, the reader feels what she feels and asks the questions she asks. But any conclusions about what it all means are left to the reader, and that, I think, is where the story shines.


Links and more

If you’d like to read more from my interview with Stephanie, visit her wonderful website–she’s very active!–here at Layered Pages.

My book and experience are also highlighted on a website with international reach and tons of images. Author Jaideep Khanduja posted several pictures, including two of my kids, plus a short video he requested of me, a screenshot of the indieBRAG page showing my book, and the KGW-TV story from my signing at Marshall High School. Awesome Jaideep! To see the post, visit Jaideep’s website, Pebble in the Still Waters.

Finally, remember indieBRAG when you want a recommendation on self-published books–there are so many and figuring out quality isn’t always easy. The God of Sno Cone Blue is still on indieBRAG’s home page with its recent batch of honorees. Check it out here at B.R.A.G. Medallion.com.

–As always, your comments are welcome. Just click Leave a reply below–


A reason to BRAG

The God of Sno Cone Blue with BRAG Medallion.The God of Sno Cone Blue has won its first award! It’s called the B.R.A.G. Medallion and comes with a shiny gold icon for the cover and a 5-star endorsement backed by a whole team of reviewers.

As a B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree, my novel is now on the indieBRAG home page (see the link below) which I’m naturally thrilled about. What’s more, I got a personal note from IndieBRAG’s president explaining how she was so intrigued by my book, that while her reviewer still had it, she started reading another copy. She loved it so much she began chatting about it to others at indieBRAG before she could reveal the title!

The word’s out now

I’m honored and excited. IndieBRAG is doing wonderful things, pairing me with reviewers and interviewers, publicizing signings and lifting my novel to a whole new level of exposure as an award-winning book. I’m already set for my first blog interview, the book with links is on the IndieBRAG website, and new 5-star reviews are posted at Goodreads and Amazon as well as Barnes & Noble’s website for Ereaders.

A wonderful new resource for readers

If you haven’t yet heard of indieBRAG, it’s a well-established website for recommendations on independently and self-published books, B.R.A.G. being an acronym for book readers appreciation group. IndieBRAG does not sell books, but you can click through from its website to make purchases, and it’s a great resource for readers and authors alike.

It’s clear from the website that IndieBRAG reviewers do quality work, sifting through crowded fields to find the gems. As their “About us” page explains, books submitted to them are put through a rigorous selection process. Fully half don’t make it past the initial test. 40 percent more fail the next test and, ultimately, only one-tenth of the books submitted are awarded a Medallion. So, in other words, “It ain’t easy!”

The criteria

Brag medallion by itself.What do their reviewers look at? On the indieBRAG website, you’ll find a comprehensive list of criteria: writing style, plot, characters, dialogue and copy editing. And indieBRAG does not take payment for reviews (which some sites disguise as “sponsored reviews”). The only cost to authors at indieBRAG is a small processing fee, which guarantees you absolutely nothing. In fact, the odds are stacked against you. I know from my own experience that their reviewers had my book for well over two months, ample time to read and scrutinize it.

In fact it had been so long, I’d almost forgotten about the submission, so the notification came as a great thrill.

On the indieBRAG website, my book will eventually appear under Literary Fiction, but for now, it’s on the site’s home page with the newest honorees and–even better–will be singled out for special feature in the near future. How cool is that? I’m excited to explore the other books on indieBRAG, and I’ve got my eye on one in particular for purchase.

I hope you get a chance to visit the site too. There are so many books out there, especially in the exploding world of self-publishing, who wouldn’t appreciate recommendations? To check out my book on the website, go to indieBRAG’s home page and scroll down to the new honorees.

Where did the years go?

Empty suitcase.So, it’s down to this. Empty suitcase, empty Kleenex, empty nest. But how can empty be the right word, when I’m so filled with emotion? My husband Ed and I are back home now after delivering our “baby” to college–more than 1700 miles away. Chicago may feel distant, but her brother is even farther, having left just this week to study abroad in Nottingham, England. I haven’t checked the exact miles, but it’s eight hours ahead of us, so he’ll often be sleeping while we’re awake and vice versa.

Empty seats at the table

So here, we are: braced for a Thanksgiving missing both of them. Continue reading

Incredible 5-star review of The God of Sno Cone Blue–please share!

Best book I’ve read in years, it says, then:
Cover of the novel The God of Sno Cone Blue.I have not been this impressed with a first novel since Michael Chabon’s Mysteries of Pittsburgh. The characters, the plot, the pacing…all spectacularly well done. The writing is mature, confident, lyrical…it reminds me of Mark Helprin, an author whom I think writes like an angel. But the thing that impresses me most is how the narrator, who is only a child for most of the book, comes across as a child in her understanding of the adults around her and in her friends, while also conveying the angst of her mother, who is dying and writing of her own life to serve as guidance to her daughter. Marcia Coffey Turnquist juggles these counterpoints so successfully she makes it look easy, and natural, which lets the universal themes of family, life and death, friendship, and growing up shine through. This is an astonishing, beautiful book. Everyone should read it.


No, I’m not sounding much like a writer at the moment, but that’s my honest response: Wow. To be compared to a bestselling, Pulitzer Prize winner? To have my writing Continue reading

500 copies sold of The God of Sno Cone Blue

Marcia at the Cedar Mill Farmers' Market.A big thanks to all the readers driving sales of my book: we’ve smashed the 500 mark! If you took all those books and lay them end-to-end they’d stretch to–just kidding, though it does feel like the moon. Better yet are the comments from readers I’ve never met. Here are a few of my favorites from my Amazon book page:

Continue reading