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postheadericon Interview with J. Boyce Gleason, author of ‘Anvil of God’

J. Boyce GleasonWith an AB degree in history from Dartmouth College, J. Boyce Gleason brings a strong understanding of what events shaped the past and when, but writes historical-fiction to discover why. Gleason lives in Virginia with his wife Mary Margaret. They have three sons.

His latest book is the historical fiction, Anvil of God, Book One of the Carolingian Chronicles.

Visit his website at www.jboycegleason.com.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Joe!  Can you tell us where you are from?

I was born in upstate New York, but grew up outside NYC in a suburb called Briarcliff Manor.  After graduating from college, I came to Washington D.C. to work with Congress and have stayed in the area ever since.  I currently live in northern Virginia.

Anvil of God 2Q: How did you come up with your title?

Anvil of God is the story of the crisis that follows in the wake of Charles the Hammer’s death in 741.  He was a powerful warlord who had conquered most of Europe for the Merovingian Kings and is most known for saving Christianity in Europe from the Muslim armies crossing into France from Spain in 732.  I figured if he was “the Hammer of God” his children were the “Anvil”

Q: They say you can judge a book by its cover.  Can you tell us a little about your cover and who designed it?

It’s an amazing cover designed by Asha Hossain.  She captured the essence of the book on her first attempt.  I sent it to another Author who introduced us and all she said was, “wowowowowowow!”

It is a picture of the main character, Trudi.  Trudi is Charles the Hammer’s daughter who not only struggles with his plan for her life, but struggles with the teachings of the church.  Charles allows her to train with his knights as a young girl, so she is dressed in a spiked hood backed by a halo embossed with pagan symbols.  It is an arresting mage and entirely in keeping with the novel.

Q: Can you tell us something about your book that would make me run out and buy it?

It received a Gold medal as the “Best Historical Fiction Novel of 2014” from the Independent Publishers Book Awards (the IPPY) and is a finalist in ForeWord Reviews’ “2014 Book of the Year Awards.”  It’s gotten great reviews from Publishers Weekly, the Historical Novel Society and Kirkus among others and has been highly rated by almost everyone who has rated it on Amazon, Goodreads, BarnesandNoble.com and LibraryThing.com.

But most of all, it is a just a great book, a good read and a story you can sink your heart into.

Q: Are there any messages in this book that you want the reader to know about?

Unlike many novels, Anvil of God is not about “good” versus “evil.”  There are no evil characters.  There are only people who make choices that are good and evil. I also explore the religious roots of political conflict.  In that, Anvil will feel very familiar to the politics of today.

Q: What was your most favorite chapter to write and why?

I loved writing about the Sybil.  Describing pagan beliefs and practices and bringing them to life in a way that is wholly believable and relevant was a lot of fun.

Q: Why did you feel you had to write this book?

I had always dreamed of writing a book and early on thought this would be a good story.  What I didn’t realize was how easily such a dream could get deferred.  At some point you have to commit to seeing it through to the end.  If I hadn’t been so committed to it, I would have let it go.  Writing would have been just a hobby.

Q:  Now, some fun questions – What deep dark secret would you like to share with us?

Writing scares the hell out of me.  For me, it is like opening up a vein that pours me out onto the page.  The first time it happened, I wrote for three hours non-stop and what I wrote was so dark and violent that I was too embarrassed to show it to anyone.  I’ve got a little more control over it now.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

I love France.  As a college student, I had the opportunity to live with two different French families and really got to know something about the culture and the people that takes me well beyond the stereotypes people persist in using about the country.  Anvil is set (for the most part) in France as Book II will be.

Q: Are you a morning person or a night person?

Night person.  I have trouble in the morning before my first cup of coffee.

Q: Are there any members in your family who also like to write?

I have a sister who has a knack for it.  She just needs to spend more time doing it.  It’s like playing an instrument.  If you play three or four hours a day every day, you get good at it.  If not…

Q: As a child, were you a dreamer?

I’m a hopeless romantic.  Always have been.

Q: Last but not least, the magic genie has granted you one wish.  What would that be?

That’s easy, more wishes.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview! Do you have any final words?

I’d love it if you’d give Anvil of God a try.  You won’t be disappointed.  It’s a great read with compelling characters, a strong story (that happens to be true), and great themes that keep the book relevant to our lives today.  You’ll love it.

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postheadericon Book Excerpt: The Witch’s Salvation by Francesca Pelaccia

The Witch's Salvation 7Title: The Witch’s Salvation
Author: Francesca Pelaccia
Publisher: Francesca Pelaccia
Pages: 388
Genre: Historical Fiction/Paranormal
Format: Paperback, Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

A witch who demands humanity.

The immortal families who denied her of it.

Two mortals commanded to right the wrong.

That is the fate of the urban princess Anasztasia and the renegade prince Matthias, born shockingly mortal to two immortal families. If they go back in time and restore the witch’s humanity, she will grant them immortality. She will also break a 550 year-old curse that imprisons Matthias’s family in their ancestral homeland and exiles Anasztasia’s family from it.

But to make their lives their own, the heirs must return to the most dangerous day in their families’ past, Easter Sunday, 1457. This is the day Vlad III, aka Dracula, massacred nobles.

How can Anasztasia and Matthias reverse the past when their families won’t speak of their sins? How can they refuse when the witch owns their lives?

Book Excerpt:

Prologue

In a cave shaped by five centuries of the earth’s temper, the wind’s hand, and the sky’s will, a witch stirs from beneath the dry leaves and twigs that make up her resting place. She pushes herself through, then brushes the blanket of brittle leaves from her furrowed face and shriveled limbs. But after five centuries of sleeping and waking in a bed of earth, she does not recognize foliage from skin.

She plants her emaciated feet on rough stones and drags herself across the cave to the aged branches of her door, her steps shaky like those of an infant learning to walk. The door grinds as it opens with one silent command. The world outside her hovel is as it is inside—dark, dank, musty, the bottom layers of centuries of overgrowth and the absence of human vanity. Yet she hears everything, worms burrowing, insects feeding, foliage breathing. They have been her companions and teachers through the ages as much as they have been her nourishment.

Her bones slipping against the shell of her body, she stumbles toward the ragged stump of an ancient beech. Over five centuries ago, she snapped the sapling from its roots, nurturing its swell to remind herself of the passage of the years, the turn of the centuries, and the approach of salvation. It is as old and as dead in life as she is, but it has kept her will strong and focus sharp.

Instead of resting her frail body on it, or sipping from the water trickling over one of its gnarled roots and collecting in a hollow at its base, she climbs onto it. She crawls to the middle, appearing no bigger than a rodent on a master’s grand table. Her pupils are dull and worn away, but she finds the first ring with her fingertips and begins to count. One, two, three, four, five…It is slow and meticulous work for one taught only the basics of language and numbers by those she once served. But her voice is strong, her need to count a hunger, her focus unrelenting.

Once she had magnificent eyes. Dark, almost black, alert and alive, eager to see the world, to touch it and to know it. Her hair matched the black of her eyes. Long and thick, it shone brighter than those nobles with marigold hair. Once, she was a young woman, until the nobles of the two warring families tore her from her family, wrenched her life from her body and her soul from her flesh, turning her into what she is now. Once, she had a name, a lovely, rhythmic name. But that was robbed from her, too, and she inherited another name. Strigoaic. Witch. A witch who was once a girl. A girl who once had a life. A life now trapped in death.

The Strigoaic counts the rings without stopping, her voice moaning through the clearing and the dense trees around it. She stops when her fingers grasp a ring larger and more pronounced than the others. Her heart begins to thump as it did when she first discovered it, as it did in her human life. Slipping over the edge of the stump, her fingers never leaving that ring of hope, she begins to count again, but from one, to two, to three, all the way to eighteen.

She lowers her head, a drop of blood falling from her eyes.

Crawling back onto the stump, she lies on it, the pulse of the ancient tree pounding against her palms and heating her chilled skin.

The time has come. After centuries of waiting, the time has come to summon those two nobles who robbed her of her humanity. But it is not them she wants. She has already punished them. She imprisoned one noble and his family in the boundaries of the earth once known as their homeland of Wallachia, while the other noble and his family she exiled from it. Unwise about her sorcery, however, she imprisoned and exiled them for eternity to an immortal life.

That will right itself in time, too. Now she wants—no, needs—the last born of each family. She decreed them, and she will have them. Clawing her fingers through the flesh of the stump, she lets a shrill break from her lips that shakes birds and trees and mountains.

The time has come to get her name back.

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postheadericon 20 Questions with Historical Fiction Author Andra Watkins

To Live Forever banner

Andra WatkinsAndra Wakins is a native of Tennessee but calls Charleston, South Carolina, her home for the last 23 years.  She is the author of To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis from Word Hermit Press which is a mishmash of historical fiction, paranormal fiction and suspense that follows Meriwether Lewis (of Lewis & Clark fame) after his mysterious death on the Natchez Trace in 1809.  You can visit her website at www.andrawatkins.com or follow her on Google+,Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and Goodreads.

20-questions

1. Are you a morning writer or a night writer? Night.

2. Do you outline or are you a pantster? I’m a pantser.

3. Which comes first – plot or character? My characters talk to me, so character.

To Live Forever4. Noise or quiet when working on your manuscript? Doesn’t matter.

5. Favorite TV show? I don’t have a tv. My favorite show of all time is probably Seinfeld.

6. Favorite type of music? Sirius XM Chill and crooners like Nat King Cole.

7. Favorite craft besides writing? Origami? Even though I suck at it?

8. Do you play a musical instrument? Yes. Piano. I like to bang on it to relax.

9. Single or married? Married. I still can’t believe he stays married to me.

10. Children or no? No children.

11. Pets? When I killed our fish, we decided not to get any more pets.

12. Favorite place to write? In bed.

13. Favorite restaurant? Anything Italian.

14. Do you work outside the home? No.

15. What was the name of the last movie you saw? We watched Inception at home the other night. At the theater, I can’t remember.

16. Favorite outdoor activity? Hiking, though I may change my answer after I walk 444 miles on the Natchez Trace. Ha.

17. Pet peeve? People who tell me how to drive. I know I can’t drive. Don’t rub it in.

18. Your goal in life? To live it.

19. Your most exciting moment? When my husband said hello to me.

20. The love of your life? My husband. He believes I can do anything, and he makes me believe it, too.

This virtual book tour is brought to you by Pump Up Your Book

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postheadericon Interview with Mike Hartner: ‘My muse brought the character of Walter directly to me’

Mike HartnerI have a great guest with us today at Literarily Speaking.  Mike Hartner, author of the historical fiction, I, Walter, is here to talk about his new book and any tips he might have to make the publishing journey easier.  Visit his website at www.accidentalauthor.ca for more information on this talented author!

Q: Welcome to Literarily Speaking, Mike!  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

I, Walter was created by a logger-jam on an original manuscript.  It was a late 20c setting, and just couldn’t finally get right for publication.  After fighting with it for more than a year, and making good progress, my editor asked me to take one aspect of that story back to its origin. Or at least as far back as I could find story.   From that I found a 10,000 word expose in about two hours, and wrote it.   The two major

characters in the expose were Geoff, Walter’s father, and William, Walter’s grandfather.  When he asked me to use one of those two to start a new story, I looked more deeply into Geoff and settled on his son, Walter.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

From the time I started writing this book, my muse brought the character of Walter directly to me.  Writing his story was a transcription more than anything.  But, that being said, it was also meant as a chance to teach me things about human nature, and I, Waltermy own nature.  Those lessons are what made the writing interesting, but also LONG.  There were days where 10,000 words flowed in one hour.  And others where nothing flowed, and I had to research and learn lessons.  My tip is this: Don’t try to rush. There’s a reason for the delay.  Be open to it, and enjoy it.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

I self-published through an entity called Eternity4Popsicle publishing. THere’s a story behind that. My reason for self-publish is that it was a decision taken after many months of learning that people liked the writing, but couldn’t sell it.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

All the work on marketing and publicity surprised me more than anything.   There’s so much to do that it takes being REALLY organised before you can work writing book two and beyond into it.

Q: What other books are you working on and when will they be published?

I, Walter is the start of a multi-volume series.  Books Two and Three, Angus and James, are duking it out in manuscript form to see who comes second and who third.  Should be interesting to see the result.

Q: Do you have any final words?

A shout out to my editor, Robert L. Bacon, at theperfectwrite.com He’s a great editor. A Shout out to Brian Schwartz at kindleexpert.com who helped to format the novel for kindle.  And one to all my fans who have read the book and reviewed it, or talked to me about it.  Thank you all for the kind words.  You folks are what keeps writers like me going.  Thank you so much for allowing me into your precious relax time. It really does mean a lot to me.
Hopefully the next one will be out around Christmas. We’ll see.

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postheadericon Interview with Mike Hartner, author of ‘I, Walter’

Mike HartnerMike Hartner is a father, son, author, patriot, geek (ret), and husband.

His love of all things genealogical led him to writing, and writing has now led him to fiction and a large epic saga.

He lives in Vancouver, BC with his wife and son.

His latest book is the historical romance, I, Walter.

Visit his website at www.accidentalauthor.ca.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Mike!  Can you tell us where you are from?

I am a United States citizen, born in Florida, and presently living in Vancouver, BC, Canada with my wife and child.

Q: How did you come up with your title?

Walter Crofter starts the writing of his autobiography with his will “I, Walter…”  It just fit to leave that as the title.

I, WalterQ: They say you can judge a book by its cover.  Can you tell us a little about your cover and who designed it?

www.kindleexpert.com is a site owned by Brian Schwartz.  He has an artist working with him that designed this cover, as well as a second one that came VERY close to being used.

Q: Can you tell us something about your book that would make me run out and buy it?

Pirates, swordfights, adventure and romance. Now, go out and buy it. :)

Q: Are there any messages in this book that you want the reader to know about?

I thought about that AFTER writing the book.  I think the best answer is that just as you can’t judge a book by its cover, you shouldn’t judge people by their current station in life.  Note: the word current is very important.

Q: What was your most favorite chapter to write and why?

I think the epilogue was the most fun to write. It came to me quickly, and it provided just the right twist to end on.

Q: Why did you feel you had to write this book?

Because Walter needed to tell me his story.  And because half of the reason for writing about Walter was to learn something very important about myself.

Q:  Now, some fun questions – What deep dark secret would you like to share with us?

I don’t have any dark secrets.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Maui.  I love the water, the people, the night sky, and the underwater dives.

Q: Are you a morning person or a night person?

Morning by training ( I am a father) night by experience.

Q: Are there any members in your family who also like to write?

My son is twelve. He is stating to write, but it needs to be nurtured in him.

Q: As a child, were you a dreamer?

No

Q: Last but not least, the magic genie has granted you one wish.  What would that be?

That everyone be allowed to live their lives to the best of their abilities without the constant worries about money and health.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview! Do you have any final words?

My final words are thanks.  Thanks to Brian Schwartz for the cover, the kindle edit, and the manuscript formatting.  Thanks to Dorothy Thompson of pumpupyourbook.com, to OrangeBerryBookTours.com and to Rachel Thompson of badredheadmedia.com.  Her guru status in the social media world has helped me very much. VERY special, overwhelming thanks to Robert L. Bacon, a magnificent editor, and a great person.  His editing made this book become much more than I anticipated, and his help since has been invaluable.  Most importantly though,  thank you to all of those people who have chosen to read I, Walter and then decided to review it.  Your reviews have been very kind and humbling.  Without the readers, this book would still be a dream.  So from the bottom of my heart, thank you to each and every one of you.

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postheadericon Guest Blogger: The Story Behind ‘Vinland Viking: A Saga’ by Gary L. Doman

Vinland Viking cover art.jpg

Inspiration for ‘Vinland Viking: An Original Saga’ by Gary L. Doman may have originally come not from books but from films. I’ve always liked motion pictures—Not “movies”, please!—in the genres of adventure and fantasy. (In fact, I once considered writing for the screen rather than for the bookshelf, and consequently started to rewrite a work of mine as a screenplay; I quickly abandoned the experiment, however, upon finding it less satisfying than being able to create the world of my characters without the co-operation of actors, a director, et cetera.) All the stories that I’m planning to write are adventures; ‘Vinland Viking’ incorporates a large amount of fantasy as well. More immediate inspiration for VV resulted from the convergence of three things: When the year 2000 came along, people spoke of “the” millennium, which prompted me to explore my imagination as to what kind of story might take place at the end of the first millennium AD. I had interest in the Vikings, but I didn’t want a pagan for a protagonist; and, I noticed the parallels between Norse myth and Christian belief. I can’t say any more, for fear of giving away the plot.
I first tried to get ‘Vinland Viking’ published about a decade ago, when my uncle-in-Law, who worked for the AmeriCorps Press, invited me to send him my manuscript. Later he told me that the AmeriCorps Press had decided against publishing any fiction that year, but by then a friend had told me about PublishAmerica, and so I submitted ‘Vinland Viking’ to that firm, which accepted it. It went into print in 2005, but it didn’t get as much publicity as I think it deserves, and consequently didn’t sell as well as it ought to have. (Granted, I’ll not be completely satisfied until everyone in the world has read it.) Some time after publication, I came up with a change that I could make to the plot; not a radical change, but one that I wanted to make for the sake of my personal satisfaction. PA, however, wouldn’t let me make the alteration unless I paid them for it. (PublishAmerica is controversial, but I’m not disparaging it. That company got my book into print without subsidy and without my having to first convince an agent to represent me, which would have meant giving him 15 percent of my earnings.) They returned my rights to the book after seven years. By the end of that period, I’d begun to look for other publishing options. An acquaintance told me that electronic publishing is easy; taking his advice led me to Kindle Direct Publishing, through which ‘Vinland Viking’ was reborn on the twelfth day of the twelfth month of the twelfth year of this millennium. From shortly before PublishAmerica returned my author rights until VV made its KDP debut, I actually did what I could (short of violence) to discourage people from buying the print version, telling them that an improved, electronic edition would soon become available.

Purchase ‘Vinland Viking’ at Amazon!Gary photo


Gary L. Doman, whose (pen-)surname rhymes with “roman”, the French word for “novel”, was born in Syracuse (New York) and has spent the majority of his life in Connecticut. He has degrees from Fairfield University and the University of Connecticut. He has developed an interest in just about everything, especially history, geography, religion, language, and the natural world. He began writing as a child and has never really stopped, although he does periodically need to eat and sleep, and also devotes considerable time to his other creative and intellectual endeavors; these include his “weblog” the Doman Domain and one of the items of interest found there, namely, “The Best Comic Strip Ever!”. Further, he has taught himself to sing and founded his own political philosophy. His greatest accomplishment may be remaining humble despite the preceding!

Visit Gary online at http://domandomain.blogspot.com/

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postheadericon Interview with Jack Duffy, author of ‘The Man From 2063′

Jack DuffyJack Duffy is an attorney from Fort Worth, Texas.  The Man from 2063 is his first book.  On November 22, 1963 he was in school at Bruce Shulkey Elementary when he heard the news about President Kennedy’s assassination.  His parents were at the breakfast in Fort Worth, Texas, that morning when President Kennedy gave his last speech.  In 1970 he saw the Zapruder film for the first time.  He has been researching the JFK assassination since then.  He has interviewed many eyewitnesses including Marina Oswald and several Parkland physicians who treated JFK.  He has met many researchers who have written books on the assassination.  He came up with the idea for a time travel novel in 1998.  He has one of the largest private collections of materials on the JFK assassination.  He graduated from Texas Tech University with a B.A. in Political Science.  He then earned an M.B.A from Baylor University.  He then graduated from South Texas School of Law with a J.D.  He is an Eagle Scout.

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The Man From 2063Q: If there was a conspiracy to kill JFK who had the motive, means and opportunity to carry it out?

The most likely suspects according to researchers are the CIA, rogue CIA agents, the Mafia, anti-Castro Cubans, Castro, the Military Industrial Complex, the Soviet Union and LBJ or a combination of these.

Q: Of those suspects who do you believe was involved?

I believe the strongest evidence points to rogue CIA agents, the Mafia and anti-Castro Cubans.

Q: What evidence is there linking those groups to the assassination?

David Phillips who was in charge of the CIA’s assassination program was seen with Oswald at a downtown Dallas hotel in the months before JFK was shot.

Phillips was connected with militant anti-Castro Cubans who hated JFK. Phillips told his brother he was in Dallas on the day JFK was killed. Oswald was seen with 2 anti-Castro Cubans at a Cuban womans apartment in late September 1963.  The leader of the group called himself Leopoldo.  He called the woman on the phone the next day and mentioned Oswald.  He told the woman Oswald was an ex-marine who was crazy. He said that Oswald believed Cubans had no guts because they should have shot JFK after the Bay of Pigs invasion. Anti-Castro Cubans blamed JFK for the failure of the invasion and had a motive to kill him.  The Mafia had a motive to kill JFK because RFK was prosecuting them as Attorney General.  The mob also blamed JFK for allowing Castro to stay in power. The mob helped get JFK elected by swinging the Chicago vote to him.  They felt betrayed when the Kennedy brothers started to prosecute them.

Several high ranking Mafia bosses made threats to kill JFK and RFK. Rogue CIA agents were working with the mob and anti-Castro Cubans to kill Castro.

Q: Is there any evidence that the CIA was involved in the assassination?

Yes.  JFK had threatened to splinter the CIA into pieces and reorganize it.  He fired Allen Dulles who was the head of the CIA for many years. JFK had indicated he was going to withdraw all U.S. forces from South Vietnam in early 1964. JFK had promised not to invade Cuba as part of the agreement with the USSR to end the Cuban Missile Crisis. All of this made the CIA angry. The CIA and the military wanted a war in Vietnam.  They were against withdrawing.  They viewed JFK as a weak leader who was caving in to Communism. The day of the assassination a CIA plane flew to Dallas and picked up 2 men. One of the men resembled Oswald.  The CIA destroyed most of their files on Oswald after the assassination. There is some evidence Oswald was a CIA agent who was sent by the CIA to the Soviet Union to spy.

Q: Was there an Oswald imposter?

Yes.  In the weeks and months before the assassination a man claiming to be Oswald was seen in places where the real Oswald could not have been. In late September 1963, someone claiming to be Oswald was seen in Mexico City at the Cuban and Russian embassies.  The CIA took photos of him and taped his phone calls.  The man in the photos was not Oswald and the voice on the tapes was not Oswald’s voice.  In early November 1963, a man claiming to be Oswald was seen at a used car lot and a rifle range. Both times the man made a scene to draw attention to himself and told people his name was Lee Harvey Oswald.  The real Oswald was at other places on those dates. The real Oswald did not own a car and did not know how to drive.  A man claiming to be Oswald went to a gun shop to have a rifle fitted with a telescopic sight.  The real Oswald was at another location on that day.

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postheadericon Ten Things About The Proxy Assassin: Book Three of the American Spy Trilogy You May Not Know

0367John Knoerle, author of The Proxy Assassin: Book Three of the American Spy Trilogy, is my guest today! Welcome John!

Ten Things About The Proxy Assassin: Book Three of the American Spy Trilogy You May Not Know

By John Knoerle

1.)  With the exception of Ian Fleming’s James Bond books I do believe that my American Spy Trilogy is the only series of espionage novels to exhibit a sense of humor!

2.)  The wisecracking cop or private investigator who uses gallows humor as a coping mechanism is a staple of mystery fiction, from Raymond Chandler’s Phillip Marlowe on down. For some reason this has not translated to the espionage genre. Spies, from John le Carre’s George Smiley on down, take themselves far too seriously.

3.)  Genre fiction – mysteries and spy novels – are all plot and no character. The hero is the unmoveable center around which all events orbit. I get that. No one wants to watch Sherlock Holmes go through a mid-life crisis. But I chose to write a character-driven story where a young WWII spy, Hal Schroeder, grows to maturity as he deals with the hard choices that war and peace present him.

4.)  I think the accepted story is that he first decade of the Cold War, with the exception of the bloody Hungarian uprising against the Soviets in 1956, was largely non-violent. Not so. The CIA sponsored ex-pat anti-Communist infiltrations in Balkan countries that resulted in hundreds of deaths at the hands of the Communists.

5.)  Why does almost all genre fiction treat the act of eating as an afterthought? “I ate a quick lunch and hit the bricks” is all you are likely to get. What is more central to life than the act of consuming food? Is it because most authors are miserable human beings incapable of appreciating life’s rich bounty?

6.)  I’m a novelist with an unlikely background. My forebears are all conservative business people. I was expected to hitch up my pants and go start a business. Which I did. It was a creative business, writing and producing radio commercials, but a business nonetheless. Still, I yearned for a creative outlet that was longer than sixty seconds.

7.)  My last name, Knoerle, is German for “small onion.” Or so they tell me.

8.)  I read Norman Mailer’s “Harlot’s Ghost” from cover to cover. So what? It’s over 1100 pages, that’s what! Brilliant writing, fascinating detail, and an inexplicable structure wherin Mailer gives away the sad ending of the central love relationship at the beginning of the book!

9.)  I got inspired to write The American Spy Trilogy by watching an obscure film from the 1940s, “T-Men.” Specifically a scene where the Treasury agent, posing as a mobster, is greeted by a young lady, who knew him when, when he is leaving a bar in the company of his new mob ‘pals’. The pulsing tension of that scene, as our hero tries to convince the young lady that he isn’t who she knows him to be, really struck a chord with me. Who hasn’t had that experience in some way? ‘I am not the person you perceive me to be!’

10.) And to close the circle, I grew up in a large multi-generational family that was riven with conflicting interests. I understood the power, and peril, of intrigue.

John KnoerleAbout the Author:

John Knoerle began his creative endeavors in the early 70s as a member of the DeLuxe Radio Theatre, a comedy troupe in Santa Barbara. He then moved to LA and did stand-up comedy, opening for the likes of Jay Leno and Robin Williams.

Knoerle wrote the screenplay Quiet Fire, which starred Karen Black, and the stage play The He-Man Woman Hater’s Club, an LA Time’s Critic’s Choice. He also worked as a staff writer for Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion.

Knoerle moved to Chicago in 1996 with his wife Judie. His first novel, “Crystal Meth Cowboys,” was optioned by Fox TV. His second novel, “The Violin Player,” won the Mayhaven Award for Fiction.

John Knoerle’s novel, A Pure Double Cross, was the first volume of a late 40s spy trilogy featuring former OSS agent Hal Schroeder. The second volume, A Despicable Profession, was published in 2010. Knoerle’s latest book, The Proxy Assassin, Book Three of the American Spy Trilogy, has just been released.

Visit his website at www.johnknoerle.com.

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postheadericon Interview with John Knoerle, author of ‘The Proxy Assassin’

John KnoerleJohn Knoerle began his creative endeavors in the early 70s as a member of the DeLuxe Radio Theatre, a comedy troupe in Santa Barbara. He then moved to LA and did stand-up comedy, opening for the likes of Jay Leno and Robin Williams.

Knoerle wrote the screenplay Quiet Fire, which starred Karen Black, and the stage play The He-Man Woman Hater’s Club, an LA Time’s Critic’s Choice. He also worked as a staff writer for Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion.

Knoerle moved to Chicago in 1996 with his wife Judie. His first novel, “Crystal Meth Cowboys,” was optioned by Fox TV. His second novel, “The Violin Player,” won the Mayhaven Award for Fiction.

John Knoerle’s novel, A Pure Double Cross, was the first volume of a late 40s spy trilogy featuring former OSS agent Hal Schroeder. The second volume, A Despicable Profession, was published in 2010. Knoerle’s latest book, The Proxy Assassin, Book Three of the American Spy Trilogy, has just been released.

Visit his website at www.johnknoerle.com.

Why do you write?

In that wonderful movie Moonstruck Olympia Dukakis has an ‘aha’ moment. She has been trying to understand why men like her husband commit adultery. She figures it’s about more than just sex. Then it comes to her: “Men cheat because they fear death!”

That’s why men write too, if you want my opinion. It’s a small shot at immortality.

In his memorial tribute to Yeats, W.H. Auden wrote,

Time that is intolerant
Of the brave and innocent,
And indifferent in a week
To a beautiful physique,

Worships language and forgives
Everyone by whom it lives;
Pardons cowardice, conceit,
Lays its honours at their feet.

The Proxy AssassinYour American Spy Trilogy is set in the late 40s. Do you have a particular fascination with that era?

I do. Two powerful cross currents were fighting each other in the U.S. during the immediate post-war period. A yearning to return to home and hearth and attempt to forget how the supposedly civilized part of the world had almost succeeded in committing suicide. A yearning that stood in direct conflict with the role that America now found thrust upon it – Defender of the Free World.

On a lighter note, let’s face it, it was a hell of a lot more fun to be a guy in the late 40s. You could have a steak for breakfast, two martinis at lunch, and about the only place you couldn’t smoke was church.

There’s an undercurrent of German pride in your Trilogy. What’s that about?

It’s German-American pride. My father’s family migrated from the Old Country in the 19th Century so they were fully assimilated Yanks by the 20th Century, yet still proud of their German heritage. Until World Wars I and II came along and made German ancestry vaguely shameful. Of course no German-Americans were interned, as happened to Japanese-Americans, but many German restaurants and beer halls shut down and even streets with German names were re-christened.

I still feel badly for my grandparents and great-grandparents. They couldn’t fully celebrate who they were through no fault of their own. So I thought I’d give the Kraut-American community a little overdue love.

“The Proxy Assassin” takes place in the context of the hotly-contested Truman-Dewey Presidential race of 1948. What are the potential dangers of mixing politics and fiction?

I consider myself a moderate conservative with libertarian leanings. But creating credible characters requires open-mindedness to every perspective, political or otherwise. Without that you’re writing a comic book. Or a propaganda pamphlet.

Making sense of the other guy’s P.O.V. can be difficult of course. Which is why, I suppose, that Americans are so hunkered down in their separate bunkers.

While it’s always tempting to launch into a bombastic screed that trashes your ideological opponents, ‘keeping an open mind’ is more or less the job description of a competent writer.

You have now spent most of your adult life writing fiction – stage plays, screenplays, novels – with only sporadic commercial success. Any regrets?

Yes. I deeply regret that my fellow citizens were too preoccupied with social media, smart phones, the Kardashians, Snooki and Honey Boo Boo to take time to recognize, and lavish extravagant sums of money upon, my authentic American genius.

Just kidding.

(Not really.)

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postheadericon Interview with ‘A Matter of Time’ Michael Bowler: ‘What if Dracula was a passenger aboard Titanic and contributed to events that sunk her?’

Michael Bowler 3Michael Bowler grew up in San Rafael, California. He attended St. Raphael’s School and Marin Catholic High School before attending Santa Clara University. Titanic and her tragic fate fascinated him for as far back as he can remember. He has a vast collection of artwork, memorabilia and virtually every book ever written about the disaster.

He majored in English and Theatre at Santa Clara and got a master’s in film production from Loyola Marymount University. He partnered with two friends as producer, writer, and/or director on several films, most notably “Fatal Images,” “Dead Girls,” “Hell Spa” (later re-edited and titled “Club Dead”), “Things” and “Things II.”

He has written a number of unproduced screenplays and is currently working on other novels he has outlined. He’s been teaching high school in Hawthorne, California for over twenty years.

He has also been a volunteer Big Brother to seven different boys over 28 years with the Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters program and a volunteer within the juvenile justice system in Los Angeles for 27 years.  He is a passionate advocate for the fair treatment of children and teens in California, something that is sorely lacking in this state.

His first novel, A Boy and His Dragon, was originally written in the 1980’s before fantasy stories enjoyed a major renaissance, and has remained unpublished to this day. It is intended as the first of a trilogy.

A Matter of Time, his second novel, was originally written in the 1980’s and completed in the mid-1990’s as time permitted.

You can visit Michael on the web at www.michaeljbowler.webs.com.

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A Matter of Time 2Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Michael!  Can you tell us where you are from?

I grew up in the city of San Rafael. It’s just north of San Francisco, in Marin County.

Q: How did you come up with your title?

The title is actually part of a very innocuous line spoken by one of the characters, but it takes on tremendous significance later in the story.

Q: They say you can judge a book by its cover.  Can you tell us a little about your cover and who designed it?

I designed the cover myself. Having produced the yearbook at the high school where I’ve been working, I developed a fair number of Photoshop and photography skills. I used a stock photo for the background – stars and the iceberg, but the other elements I photographed or created. There’s a Statue of Liberty Centennial pocket watch featured on the cover that is significant to the story.

Q: Can you tell us something about your book that would make me run out and buy it?

What if Dracula was a passenger aboard Titanic on her maiden voyage, and contributed to the events that sunk her? And what if there was someone else aboard from the future who could prevent the worst maritime disaster in history? What might happen when these two confront one another?

Q: Are there any messages in this book that you want the reader to know about?

The first line sort of sums up the message: “Love is timeless, Time is heartless, and Fate is unmerciful.” It sounds oblique, but becomes very clear by the end of the story.

Q: What was your most favorite chapter to write and why?

All the chapters set aboard Titanic were my favorites because I’ve always wondered what it would be like to walk the decks of that ship, to bask in her opulence and grandeur, and in writing those chapters I sort of felt like I was there, in that time, with those people on that ship of dreams.

Q: Why did you feel you had to write this book?

I’ve always been fascinated by the Titanic disaster, and one odd occurrence in particular mystified me. I took that one occurrence and built a story around it, a very powerful story of love and redemption that, once all the elements fell into place, I knew others would enjoy, too.

Q:  Now, some fun questions – What deep dark secret would you like to share with us?

I don’t know if I have any deep, dark secrets. I used to suck my thumb as a child – does that count? LOL

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

I’d love to travel to Mars, but here on earth I guess I’d like to see Great Britain. I love Shakespeare and Arthurian stories and would love to see some of the castles, as well as the Globe Theatre.

Q: Are you a morning person or a night person?

Night. I’ve had to get up at 4:30 am Monday through Friday for the past 19 years to commute to my job, but I’m still NOT a morning person.

Q: Are there any members in your family who also like to write?

No.

Q: As a child, were you a dreamer?

Very much so. I was always making up stories in my head, long before I ever started writing them down. I had my own serial going in my imagination every night before I went to sleep. I’d move the story along a bit, end it with a cliffhanger, and then pick it up the next night before drifting off to sleep. I should’ve written the whole thing down. I’ve forgotten it all now.

Q: Last but not least, the magic genie has granted you one wish.  What would that be?

I’ve been heavily involved with children and teenagers my whole adult life, and I think if I had one wish it would be that everyone in this country, from politicians to entertainers to advertisers to teachers to the average person on the street would pledge to put the best interests of children first, before their own self-aggrandizement. We would all be a LOT better off that way.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview! Do you have any final words?

Thanks you for your time. I’d like to finish by saying that almost everyone who enjoys a good story with likeable characters they can care about will enjoy my book. It’s very user friendly.

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postheadericon Interview with ‘The Promised Land’ Valerie Stocking + Book Giveaway!

We welcome today  Valerie Stocking, author of the historical fiction novel, The Promised Land.  Valerie is giving away a copy of her book (see details below interview)!

Valerie Stocking booksigning

Valerie Stocking was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, and wrote her first short story when she was five.  When she was eight, she won a short story contest in Jack and Jill Magazine.  She wrote her first play at the age of ten.  In 1966, when she was twelve, she and her mother moved to a small town in Florida where they lived for a year.  During this time, Valerie experienced difficulties with the public school system, tried a Seventh Day Adventist school briefly, and then dropped out altogether.  It was her experiences during this year that inspired The Promised Land. Later, she would finish high school, graduate from college and earn a Master’s degree in Cinema Studies from NYU.

For nearly 30 years, she wrote and edited in various capacities, including copywriting, newspaper articles, and short stories.  She wrote nearly 20 full-length and one act plays over a ten year period, which have been performed throughout the U.S. and Canada.  She edited books for audio, abridging over 100 novels in a 6-year period.  In 2010, she published her first novel, A Touch of Murder, which is the first of what will become the Samantha Kern mystery series.  It was nominated for a Global eBook Award in 2011 for Best Mystery.

Valerie lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with her dog and cat, and is working on her next novel.

You can visit her website at www.valeriestocking.com.

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About The Promised Land

The Promised Land

It’s 1966, just two years after President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law, and twelve-year-old Joy Bradford’s life is changing dramatically. Born and raised in the white suburbs of Connecticut, Joy is moving to Willets Point, Florida, to live with her mother Jessica because her parents are divorcing. Hoping it really is the Promised Land that her mother describes, she joins in Jessica’s enthusiasm only to find out how horribly wrong that vision is.

Unfortunately for Joy, the move does nothing to change her mother’s emotional and mental instability, resulting in a continuation of the physical and verbal abuse she is all too used to receiving. Her new school is years behind her old one, the kids dress and act differently, and on just the second day, Joy has a run-in with her geography teacher. Things are going from bad to worse until Clay Dooley, a mixed-race boy from that same geography class, offers his friendship. The two become close, sending shockwaves that dovetail with a growing sense of tension and unease in the community as a whole. Clay’s father Clytus, a well-educated black man, attempts to open his own clothing store in the white section of downtown Willets Point. This causes Jessica’s new lawyer cum boyfriend and leader of the local Klan chapter, Bill McKendrick, to join with other white citizens in using great force to block Clytus’ dreams. Tempers flare and emotions run high when Clytus refuses the Klan’s subsequent demand that he and his family move out of the white neighborhood they live in, setting off an explosive confrontation that will change them all forever.

An absorbing and suspenseful coming of age story set against the tumultuous backdrop of racial tensions in mid-1960’s America, Stocking’s blend of historical fact and fiction is as relevant today as it was during the explosive Civil Rights era. Probing the human psyche for the deep-seated fears that fuel the fires of racism and bigotry, she expertly builds characters who feel their very lives are at stake by the changing times. Full of insight and intensity, The Promised Land is a spellbinding journey you won’t want to miss.

Interview with Valerie Stocking

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Valerie!  Can you tell us where you are from?

I was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, then moved to Florida when I was 12. From there, it was back to Connecticut when I was 17, then down to Washington, D.C. to go to school.  I moved to New York in 1977 and was there for 15 years.  I have lived in New Mexico since 1992.

Q: How did you come up with the title?

Actually, I had a hard time coming up with a title. Then I got to thinking about the situation from the main character Joy’s point of view.  I remember when my mother and I moved there (not to Willets Point, but to the town it was based on), she kept telling me we were going to have a “brand new life.” From there, it was kind of an easy leap to think of it as “The Promised Land.”

Q: They say you can judge a book by its cover.  Can you tell us a little about your cover and who designed it?

I love the cover of this book!  It was designed by a member of the CreateSpace Design Team, but I had a lot of input.  I asked to see an image of a burning cross, and one of a black hand and a white hand joined.  The latter came out much too tame and mellow for this book, which is pretty edgy.  I told them the font I wanted, and the placement of the words on the cover.  They came up with the actual image and color scheme.  I only had to make minor changes to it, and it was ready to go.

Q: Can you tell us something about your book that would make me run out and buy it?

This is the story about a forbidden friendship between a white girl and a biracial boy in the deep South in 1966.  There’s a lot of racial unrest in this town to begin with, but when the relationship blossoms, the situation explodes, with repercussions for all the characters in the book.  Parts of this novel actually happened, and parts didn’t.  I’m calling it a fictional memoir.

If you were alive during the 1960’s, or even if you weren’t, it’s a fascinating time to read about, as it was so unstable and there was such blatant intolerance. In “The Promised Land,” I bring this period to life.  It’s an exciting read, and a good one.  Give it a try!

Q: Are there any messages in this book that you want the reader to know about?

If we didn’t infect kids with bigotry, and taught them to tolerate and respect those who are different, this world would be an amazing place.  Right now there is a lot of talk about bullying in schools.  That happens in this book, as it happened to me and other kids around me.  It’s been going on forever.  But I’m glad it’s come to the forefront of our consciousness.  Maybe something will be done about it now.

Q: What was your most favorite chapter to write and why?

I enjoyed writing the whole thing.  But I guess my favorite would be the  climactic scene.  That’s where everyone and everything comes together in an explosive finale.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Greece, to see the ancient ruins and learn about the culture thousands of years ago.  It has always fascinated me.

Q: Are you a morning person or a night person?

When I was a kid, I’d sometimes stay awake until the sun came up. Sleeping until noon was par for the course.  However, as I’ve gotten older, I have become more of a day person.  I get the most stuff done in the mornings now.

Q: Are there any members in your family who also like to write?

My mother was a writer, and she encouraged me to write.  She bought me my first typewriter when I was 10.  I was already writing; it wasn’t that she was trying to force me to do it.  She just nurtured the desire in me to tell stories.

Q: If you work, are you always thinking of new projects to write?

Yes!  It never seems to end.  I have ideas that have been percolating for years that are still on the back burner because other ideas have supplanted them.  Once in a great while I’ll do a projects list of things I want to write.  As of now, I have ideas for 3 more Samantha Kern mysteries, 2 ghost stories, and the sequel to “The Promised Land.”

Q: As a child, were you a dreamer?

Oh, yes.  I sought escape any way I could.  It started with books.  I had a passion for books when I was a kid, and I read voraciously.

Q: Last but not least, the magic genie has granted you one wish.  What would that be?

To live long enough and be able-bodied and minded enough, to write all my ideas into books, plays, or whatever other form they want to be in.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview! Do you have any final words?

This was a fun interview!  I enjoyed it.  Thanks.

The Giveaway!

Valerie is giving away a copy of her book, The Promised Land!

Open to all U.S. and Canada citizens.

Please leave your email address in the comments section so we can get in touch with you.
Read the rest of this entry »

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postheadericon Blog Tour: A Conversation with Historical Fiction Author Deby Eisenberg

We have a wonderful interview today with Deby Eisenberg, author of the historical fiction, Pictures of the Past.  For more tour stops, visit her official tour page at www.pumpupyourbook.com/2012/01/11/pictures-of-the-past-virtual-book-publicity-tour-february-2012.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Deby Eisenberg

As the leader of an established Chicago area Book Club, Deby Eisenberg challenged herself to write a novel that her avid readers could not put down and would love to discuss. With a Masters Degree from the University of Chicago, she is a former English teacher and journalist. Inspired by so many wonderful books and formidable authors, and drawing on her love of literary research, art, architecture, Jewish history, and travel in the United States and Europe, she tried to envision a multi-generational love story that would inform as well as entertain, that would broaden the mind and open the heart. Deby and her husband Michael, an obstetrician-gynecologist, live in Riverwoods, Illinois. They have three grown children and two grandchildren.

Her latest book is the historical fiction novel, Pictures of the Past.

You can visit her website at www.debyeisenberg.com.

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About Pictures of the Past

Pictures of the Past

First-time novelist Deby Eisenberg hits the ground running with PICTURES OF THE PAST, an epic family and historical saga, sweeping through Chicago, Paris and Berlin, reliving events from pre-World War II Europe, but beginning in contemporary times. An Impressionist painting, hanging for decades in the Art Institute of Chicago and donated by the charismatic philanthropist Taylor Woodmere, is challenged by an elderly woman as a Nazi theft.

Interview with Deby Eisenberg

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Deby! Can you tell us where you are from?

And thank you for your interest in Pictures of the Past. I make my home in north suburban Chicago, locally it is known as Chicago’s North Shore, and yes, it is one of the many venues in the novel.

Q: How did you come up with the title?

That is a great question – and I will have to give readers a little background to answer it. Just briefly, my book begins when an elderly woman visiting the Art Institute of Chicago recognizes an Impressionist painting hanging there for decades and contributed by the revered, charismatic philanthropist Taylor Woodmere, and she challenges it as a Nazi theft. As we come to understand Taylor’s story, the reader travels back to 1937. Twenty-two year old Taylor is reluctant to leave his girlfriend Emily when he is sent to Paris on family business, but once in Europe he falls in love again, first with the beautiful painting and then with the beautiful Sarah Berger of Berlin. For Taylor’s family so many years later, tracing the provenance of the painting will greatly impact their lives. And so my original working title was “Seeking Provenance,” as it had to do with the provenance of a young man as well of a work of art. Although I loved the ring of that title, I struggled thinking that people might confuse it with “Providence,” and think the novel was about seeking God. I knew the right title would come to me before publication and it did! Pictures of the Past refers not just to the painting, but to the pictures of an era, the photos of long ago, relatives lost to the Holocaust, lovers caught in a moment . . .

Q: They say you can judge a book by its cover. Can you tell us a little about your cover and who designed it?

I have to say I am crazy about the cover – I envisioned the structure, but am no artist – I chose photographs of the era, from the swastika banners flying in Berlin, to a mansion and an impressive staircase, to young lovers, and I knew that I wanted them placed in gilded frames. The cover designer took my idea and nailed it on the first try, with a brocade background and the title and author in a frame wrapping to the back of the book.

Q: Can you tell us something about your book that would make me run out and buy it?

As a Book Club leader, I challenged myself to write a novel that my readers could not put down and would love to discuss. It has history and mystery. It spans some of the most important events of the 20th century, yet makes you understand stories of global proportion when told through the experiences of a few families. It has love and loss, separation and reunion – I am hoping I have created characters that people really care about. Continuing the story I began to tell, after young Taylor and Sarah fall in love in Paris and then travel to her home in Berlin, he is called back home. Sarah and her family become trapped in the Nazi web and any plans for the young lovers to be reunited are thwarted.

Interwoven with this tale, is the more contemporary story of Rachel Gold who becomes caught up in the times of the late 1960’s and is left pregnant and abandoned by Taylor son, Court Woodmere. She goes to New York to live with her aunt, a Holocaust survivor. The novel travels back and forth in time as the past stories meld with the present and secrets are revealed.

Q: Are there any messages in this book that you want the reader to know about?

Oh yes – I was an English teacher and I have always been wild about discussing themes when reviewing books. As an author now I know that if you create real characters and put them in life’s situations, then your themes will emerge. One of my strongest ones – one I could only identify after looking back on the story myself – is the empowerment of women during extraordinary times. I wanted to create a novel to broaden the mind and open the heart. Through the novel you can trace the loss of innocence, the added burden faced by “only” children, the impact of strong or weak mothers or fathers on their children.

Q: What was your most favorite chapter to write and why?

I love (and hope my readers do as well) the chapter when Sarah is escaping Germany on the St. Louis, the ship of German Jewish refugees seeking a new home in the Americas, that is refused by Cuba and even the United States. You will see Sarah and the others so full of hope, though saddened by losses already, and follow how they each react to the situation. Once I discovered the story of the St. Louis, I became obsessed by it. I did not even know that it would be in my book. But like many authors articulate, once I developed my characters, they told me what would happen. As Sarah and her mother were escaping Germany, I even said to myself, “Oh my God, they are going on the St. Louis.”

Q: Why did you feel you had to write this book?

I have been so blessed with fabulous travel opportunities, I have a love of reading, and writing, and teaching – combined with a strong Jewish identity – that all led me to this path. But this is by no means just a Jewish story. Many of my main characters are not Jewish, actually. The story fits in many genres, historical fiction, family saga, romance. But I am so proud that it is now identified as part of Holocaust literature, and is even carried by the Museum.

Q: Now, some fun questions – What deep dark secret would you like to share with us?

I do have a wonderful family, many friends, and a day job I am not giving up – but I also love being alone – cocooning in my little world with my computer at Panera – just reading or writing. Once I started to write the novel, I knew that this (more than past journalistic writing) would be my favorite journey. I could justify going off by myself writing and researching.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

We love traveling to cities like Prague, Budapest, Rome, Jerusalem – where you can combine beautiful cities (and, of course, cafes) with historical sites.

Q: Are you a morning person or a night person?

Total morning person – very early. Often, by 6:45 I am at the health club – I say I am going there to read, which is what I do on the elliptical – and then by 7:45, I am at Panera and on the computer.

Q: Are there any members in your family who also like to write?

My uncle was actually a journalist with The Stars and Stripes Newspaper of the Military and then other city newspapers, so I like to think he was my inspiration. And I just found that I am an inspiration for my first grade granddaughter, Skylar. This week was her “special week” in school and when she was told to choose a book to read to the class, she asked the teacher if she could write a book, instead. And she wrote 6 chapters about her adventures with our dog, Licky.

Q: As a child, were you a dreamer?

As a child – and as an adult. I think many writers follow a similar path – from the earliest grades, I was receiving recognition in essay and poetry contests; I was editor of the high school paper, etc. Everywhere I went, from school dances when I was young, to European travels later, I would think about a fictional story that could involve the place – I just took a long time to really put pen to paper – and I can’t wait to have time to do it again.

Q: Last but not least, the magic genie has granted you one wish. What would that be?

I’d like to be more creative, but with age comes wisdom or at least a reality check – I must wish for health for all those I love.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview! Do you have any final words?

I thank you so much for this opportunity to spread the word about Pictures of the Past. It is available as a book and ebook on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. I encourage all readers to connect with a Book Club. You will find that your shared joy of literature will lead to other commonalities of relationships and will enhance your life.

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postheadericon Book Excerpt: Telegraph Island by John Milton Langdon

Telegraph IslandTELEGRAPH ISLAND, by John Milton Langdon, Tate Publishing, 280 pp.

Step back in time to the Victorian age. The industrial revolution in Britain is in full spate and electronic communication is in its infancy. Based loosely on fact author John Milton Langdon weaves a tale of romance and adventure on the high seas and in the Orient.

Jason Smiley Stewart — My Life Story describes the life of an average man. Although he is born in humble circumstances, he shows how a combination of perseverance and intelligence aided by a little good fortune, can help any child overcome the disadvantages of a lowly birth status and poor education.

In Telegraph Island, the second of four novels chronicling the life of Jason Smiley Stewart, the young man’s continuing adventures are described. He has his share of failure and success but once again demonstrates that his poor origins are no bar to fame and fortune when he leaves the life of a sailor to join the communication revolution.

BOOK EXCERPT

I felt on top of the world and ate a hearty breakfast and as I did so I noticed that Joanna was neither eating very much nor looking very happy.  After a time she stopped moving bacon and eggs around her plate, put down her knife and fork and looked at me with a strange and wondering expression.

She said sadly “You seem very happy this morning, Jason.  Are you pleased to be leaving me so soon?”

“No of course not, Joanna” I replied and went on “If I seem happy this morning it’s because I am in love with a most wonderful person and she loves me too.  I can barely believe that I’m really awake and not locked in a wonderful dream.  I don’t want to leave just as we have found each other”.   I held her hand and said “I must go Joanna as I cannot change the arrangements now.  I know that I will be desperately unhappy until we can be together again”.

“Haven’t you forgotten something, Jason?” she asked obscurely.

I did a quick mental review of my packing and replied “I don’t think so Joanna, thank you.  I’m sure I have packed everything”.

She let go of my hand.  “Oh!  Men can be so obtuse at times” she said with some asperity and then asked angrily “Don’t you remember what you said to me in the night?”

“Yes of course”.

“Do you remember my response?”

“Yes of course I do” I said still puzzled by her questions.

And then realisation struck.  She was angry because I had been thoughtless in my misplaced cheerfulness and what was worse I had said nothing about my suggestion that she should be my wife.  It was so much worse that Joanna had found it necessary to remind me about something that should have been my first priority.

What a fool I was.  My euphoric mood drained away like water down a plug hole and at least mentally I kicked myself around the room.

I tried to take her hand but she was still angry with me and moved it out of reach as I said “Darling Joanna, please forgive me for being such an insensitive clod.  I was so happy this morning that I just didn’t think beyond the here and now.   I said last night that I would like you to be my wife and this morning I still feel the same, but I will have to ask your Mother’s permission before I can propose to you”.

“So why just sit there eating breakfast, when my mother is sitting in the next room reading,” was Joanna’s tart reply “She intends to go out shortly”.

I jumped to my feet, left the breakfast room and knocked on the door of the morning room.  I went in when I heard Mrs. Evans call out.  She was sitting in an armchair reading and I stood in front of her chair feeling a little like a child in front of the headmistress.

“Good morning, Jason, I hope you enjoyed a good night’s sleep?”

“I did thank you, Mrs. Evans and I hope you did as well” I said, then paused, not at all sure where to start or what to say.  She looked at me, put her book on the side table and waited patiently for me to continue the conversation without saying a word herself.  I collected my thoughts and failed totally to remain calm as I said without ceremony or preamble “I would like to have your permission to ask Joanna to marry me.  I know it must seem sudden to you, but as I am just about to leave for India I would like to know that Joanna feels as I do and will wait for me to return”.

“Over the tribulations of the past few years I have come to know you quite well, Jason, and I think you will make my daughter a good husband.  I think you have a good future and know that you will provide for her to the best of your ability.  You have my permission to ask her”.

“Thank you Mrs. Evans.  You cannot imagine how relieved I am” I responded formally and returned to the breakfast room where Joanna was waiting.

As I closed the door and walked towards her she said in a worried voice “What did my Mother say?  You weren’t very long.  She didn’t refuse did she?”

I smiled at her, then went down on one knee and asked simply but very seriously “I should be honoured if you would consent to be my wife Joanna.  Please will you marry me?”

– Excerpt from Telegraph Island

You can pick up your copy of Telegraph Island by clicking here.

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postheadericon The Story Behind The Queen’s Gamble by Barbara Kyle

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The Story Behind the Book is Literarily Speaking’s newest feature. Here we find out either the inspiration behind authors’ books or how they got published. Today’s guest is Barbara Kyle, author of The Queen’s Gamble (Kensington).

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The Queen's Gamble jpgThe Queen’s Gamble is the fourth book in my “Thornleigh” series of Tudor-era novels which focus on a middle-class family I created – the Thornleighs – as they rise up through three turbulent reigns. The historical record is always my jumping-off point for the novels, and The Queen’s Gamble was sparked by some fascinating research I’d done about the first international crisis the young Queen Elizabeth I faced. It was in 1559. Elizabeth was twenty-five and had been queen for less than a year. My fictional family, the Thornleighs, have at this point risen to considerable wealth, with some power in Elizabeth’s government, and they are deeply loyal to her.

But all was not well in the young queen’s world. When she’d inherited the throne from her half-sister Mary, Elizabeth took over a country on the brink of ruin. Mary had bankrupted the treasury by a disastrous war with France, which she had lost, leaving Elizabeth burdened with massive loans taken in Europe’s financial capital of Antwerp, and a grossly debased coinage that was strangling English trade. Danger threatened Elizabeth on every side. Spain eyed England as a possible addition to its empire that already spanned half the globe. France ruled Scotland as a virtual French province, its government run by French overlords, its capital garrisoned with French troops, providing an ideal bridgehead for the French to launch an attack on England. At home, Elizabeth faced seething discontent from a large portion of her people, the Catholics, who loathed her act of Parliament that had made the country officially Protestant. France and Spain sympathized with, and supported, the English Catholics.

If overtly threatened by either of those great powers, England would be vastly outmatched. Unlike the European powers, England had never had a standing army. (Her monarchs had always relied on a system of feudal levies by which local lords, when required, raised companies of their tenants and retainers to fight for the king, who then augmented the levies with foreign mercenaries.) Even the English navy was weak, consisting of just thirty-four ships, only eleven of them ships of war. Ten months after Elizabeth’s coronation, people throughout Europe were laying bets that her reign would not survive a second year. One crisis could destroy her.

That crisis came in the winter of 1559. It happened in Scotland. The firebrand Protestant preacher John Knox had led a revolution and taken over much of the country, declaring it Protestant. France sent in thousands of troops to put down this rebellion, for they were bent on maintaining Scotland as a client state, and a Catholic one. Everyone believed the French would easily prevail, and Elizabeth feared was that once this huge French military presence was entrenched on her border they would swoop down and invade England.

Into this precarious situation, I thrust my fictional character Isabel Thornleigh. She returns from the New World – Peru – with her Spanish husband and young son, and is caught up in the crisis when Elizabeth recruits her to smuggle gold to Knox’s Scottish rebels to help them in their fight against the French. But Elizabeth’s trust in Isabel only goes so far, and she keeps Isabel’s little boy as a pampered hostage to ensure that Isabel completes her mission. Making matters worse for Isabel, her husband is engaged as a military advisor to the French, putting the couple on opposite sides in this deadly cold war.

It’s been a pleasure being a guest at Literarily Speaking! Thanks for the opportunity to let readers know the background about The Queen’s Gamble.Barbara Kyle photo

Barbara Kyle is the author of the Tudor-era “Thornleigh” series of novels, which have been published internationally: The Queen’s Captive, The Queen’s Lady, and The King’s Daughter, praised byPublishers Weekly as “a complex and fast-paced plot, mixing history with vibrant characters.” Her new novel, The Queen’s Gamble, will be released on 30 August 2011.

Barbara previously won acclaim for her contemporary novels under pen name ‘Stephen Kyle’, including Beyond Recall (a Literary Guild Selection), After Shock and The Experiment. Over 400,000 copies of her books have been sold.

Barbara has taught courses for writers at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies, and is known for her dynamic workshops for many writers organizations. Her popular series of video workshops “Writing Fiction That Sells” is available through her website. Before becoming an author, Barbara enjoyed a twenty-year acting career in television, film, and stage productions in Canada and the U.S.

Visit www.BarbaraKyle.com.

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postheadericon The Story Behind My Dearest Friend by Hazel Statham

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The Story Behind the Book is Literarily Speaking’s newest feature. Here we find out either the inspiration behind authors’ books or how they got published. Today’s guest is Hazel Statham, author of the Regency romance novel, My Dearest Friend.

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My Dearest Friend jpgMy Dearest Friend is the last book in the Dukes of Lear trilogy. Although all the books are related, they are stand alone novels and can be read in any order. Without realizing it, the trilogy started life over twenty-five years ago when I began to write Consequence, the first book. The idea for the beginning of My Dearest Friend originated from a dream and just grew. It was a classic case of listening to my characters and going wherever they took me. There was one point where I was taken completely by surprise when Sgt. Patterson marched on to the scene and announced that Stefan had an illegitimate daughter – totally unexpected, but added yet another element to enrich the story.

I allowed Jane and Robert’s relationship to evolve at its own pace and, hopefully, gave the reader an insight into its development. It is a very emotive story where emotions run high and again, it is something I hope my readers are able to engage with and clearly see the torment of my hero and heroine when their love is severely challenged and in jeopardy.

It does not follow any predesigned formula but a natural flow of events as we share the lives of my characters. I originally wrote the book with no thoughts of publication but was encouraged to submit to a publisher by a lecturer friend of mine who headed a writing group at the local college.

I didn’t set out to write a trilogy and Dominic, the middle book of the series, was actually written after My Dearest Friend. It just seemed natural to spend more time with the family and the three books chart the lives of the three Dukes of Lear from 1746 to 1812.

This popular book has had a very varied publishing career. It was originally contracted six years ago by All Romance Books but, due to the death of the owner, the company closed before it reached publication. It was then taken by Wings ePress and published as both an e-book and paperback until it went out of print fifteen months ago. It has now been re-released by Write Words as an e-book but will also be available as a paperback from December, 2011.

I am particularly fond of this book and hope my readers enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Hazel read her first Regency Romance, Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer, when she was seventeen and knew that at last she had found her era.Hazel Statham's photo

She had been writing since she was fifteen and had mainly been influenced by authors like Austen, the Brontes and Sabatini, but Georgette Heyer opened up the romance and elegance of the eighteen and nineteenth century and she fell head over heels in love with it.

She devoured her books in very quick succession and wanted nothing more than to recreate her own Regency world. History had always been her favorite subject at school and it was just one small step to portray it in her work.

However, despite today’s trend to produce ‘hotter’ novels, she writes ‘traditional’ Regency Romance and closes the door on her characters when they retire. So much emotion can be conveyed by a mere glance or a single word that she doesn’t feel it necessary to leave the metaphorical door open to convey the emotions of the moment. The merest hint is often sufficient to stimulate the reader’s imagination and to go into detail is totally unnecessary.

Hazel has been married to her husband since 1969 and they share their home with a lovely Labrador named Mollie. Apart from reading and writing historical novels, Hazel’s other ruling passion is animals and, until recently, she was treasurer for an organization that raised money for animal charities.

Hazel loves to hear from her readers and promises to answer all mail.

Visit her online at www.hazel-statham.co.uk

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postheadericon The Story Behind: The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin

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The Story Behind the Book is Literarily Speaking’s newest feature. Here we find out either the inspiration behind authors’ books or how they got published. Today’s guest is Melanie Benjamin, author of the historical novel, The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb.

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Mrs. Tom Thumb coverI always tell aspiring writers that the most important thing they can do for their careers is read – and I have no better example of this than my newest novel, THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MRS. TOM THUMB.
I was halfway through writing the book that was supposed to follow ALICE I HAVE BEEN when I decided I couldn’t continue with it. My heroine had become a total sap, sad to say; I was bored and frustrated with her and naturally, could only assume that the reader would be, too. But before I broke this news to my patient editor, I knew that I had to come up with a new subject, and maybe a chapter or two. Trying not to panic, I started paging through books and lists, and came upon the name “Lavinia Warren Stratton, AKA Mrs. Tom Thumb.”
“I know her,” I said to myself (I often talk to myself while searching for new ideas!). “I read about her, in RAGTIME.” Of course, E. L. Doctorow’s masterpiece of historical fiction is one of my favorite novels. I remembered that in it, Mrs. Tom Thumb had a brief scene with Harry Houdini; she had been feisty and interesting, even then. I started researching and found myself immediately entranced by her story and, most importantly, her voice. She left behind some written pages intended to be an autobiography and in them, she was so fiercely determined and ladylike, always – and yet there was something obviously hidden, as well. While she trumpeted her triumphs—her front-page wedding, her travels, her appearances before kings, queens, presidents and Mormons – she never mentioned any of her hardships. The great tragedy of her life was not detailed; nor was any frustration she must have felt at being a very little person in an America that was growing bigger by the year as the railroads expanded westward, a civil war erupted, and the Gilded Age ushered in an age of opulence and grand technological wonders. (The phonograph! The light bulb! The elevator!)
Ultimately, Vinnie’s story intrigued me for the same reasons the story of Alice Liddell intrigued me; they were both women who, while well known for their public images, cloaked their personal lives in mystery. Alice allowed Lewis Carroll to immortalize her for the ages as Alice in Wonderland; Vinnie allowed her great friend P.T. Barnum – a man who knew his way around a humbug! – to speak for her during her lifetime.
Just as I gave Alice her chance to set the record straight in ALICE I HAVE BEEN, now it’s time for Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump Stratton Magri to step back in her beloved spotlight once more. She tells her own story – and what a story it is! – in the pages of THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MRS. TOM THUMB. I hope you will enjoy reading about her remarkable life as much as I enjoyed writing about it.Melanie
Meanwhile, I’m reading, still; always. I have to start a new novel soon. And while I never know where I’m going to find my inspiration, chances are it will be in the pages of a book!
Melanie Benjamin is a pseudonym for Melanie Hauser, the author of two contemporary novels. Her first work of historical fiction as Melanie Benjamin was Alice I Have Been. She lives in Chicago, where she is at work on her next historical novel. Visit Melanie online at http://melaniebenjamin.com/.

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postheadericon The Story Behind In the Aerie of the Wolf by Leonora Pruner

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The Story Behind the Book is Literarily Speaking’s newest feature. Here we find out either the inspiration behind authors’ books or how they got published. Today’s guest is Leonora Pruner, author of the historical gothic novel, In the Aerie of the Wolf.

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Aerie cover

Composing fiction is, in a way, like composing music. It can be done almost any place and has its origins in the dreams and imagination of the composer. Both are inspirations given hopefully a lasting form

For a decade, my home was a rented room on an island slightly over a square mile in size, populated by about 80,000 other people (by census count) in the middle of the Indian Ocean, half a world away from my children and grandchildren. What began as collecting folk tales and getting them illustrated and published evolved into teaching economics to grades 8-10 and then to teaching computer science. In my room was a state-of-the-art dual drive laptop computer installed with Word Perfect, which I purchased shortly before leaving the States.

In my head was the results of about 5 years of research for my first published novel, Love’s Secret Storm, set in mid-18th century Sussex, England and London. Since this was in pre-Internet days, the only other reference resource available was the small, local library.

My second novel, Love’s Silent Gift, was in the galley stage when I arrived on this island, the capital of the Republic of Maldives. At the time, I was working on a contemporary novel, which took me to Maldives before being sidetracked into folk lore. That story has not yet been finished. Other stories developed in my mind and were then transferred to my computer’s disks. Over time, my computer graduated to a hard disk laptop and my stories continued to grow.

When I left the island, four or five stories were on my computer in various stages of completion. On encountering a difficulty, I would make a note in uppercase and continue writing what I did know. So these stories were a bit “holely”.

One of those became Close to His Heart and another became In the Aerie of the Wolf. It is hard to separate out just what was the inspiration of this particular book. Certainly my affection for the old story of Beauty and the Beast (I did not appreciate the way Disney butchered it) played a significant part. The many stories both historical and fictional of a young woman having to go to a strange place to marry a man she has never met were also intriguing.

Would the prospective bridegroom send someone or go himself? Usually a trusted emissary was sent. What if she was contented with her life at home and maybe even had already fallen in love with someone else before this arranged marriage? What would her new home be like? Surely a crenellated, old castle would work, with secret passages, of course. And someone would oppose them. A battle should ensue, with swords, naturally.

You might say this brew formed and was stirred and allowed to simmer in my mind. The pot containing it but not really part of it was the household of which I was a part.

Why didn’t I write about those dear people who were my Maldivian family and friends? Perhaps because I was too close to them. I did write some, using my computer to record oral stories told to me in English, then touching them up lightly for language and clarity, yet preserving local expressions to conserve distinctives of their culture and ways. Five 36-page “magazines” resulted from this effort. I did take a correspondence course on Folklore from the University of Indiana in order to understand what I was doing better. But, all that, interesting as it was, did not satisfy my deep compulsion to compose fiction. And so I wrote whenever I could.

Writing a novel and selling it are barely connected activities. Not even my earlier publisher was interested in my manuscripts when I returned to the States. I tried several things, without a positive response. Finally, I concluded that what had been a ministry at one time was not for now. The Lord had other things for me and I must set it aside and not continue this exercise in futility.

My Methodist church was burned down by an arsonist on Easter, 2000. It was rebuilt and dedicated on Easter, 2008 involving a month long celebration. As part of that, my friend Roger Nelson came to perform his one man play of “John Wesley”. Before leaving my home he asked to call his friend who was to give a reception for him. As he dialed, he commented, “Oh, and he is a publisher.” I replied, “Oh, and I am a writer. Ask him if he publishes fiction.”

So began the journey to publication first for Close to His Heart and then the latest, In The Aerie of the Wolf. Now it is available in book stores, at www.amazon.com, or   www.nordskogpublishing.com for your enjoyment.Leonora Pruner

While born in Dubuque, Iowa, Leonora Pruner was brought to California by her parents during the Second World War, which has since been her principal residence. In 1953, she graduated from Westmont College then earned an MBA from Pepperdine University in 1981. Having married in 1953, she has seen her family expand from two children to thirteen grandchildren and five great- grandchildren.

Writing has been an important activity since junior high. In the late ‘60s, an eighteenth-century English character on The Wonderful World of Disney, captivated her interest. The desire to create a variation of him, led to five years of extensive research, followed by the publication of two period novels in 1981 and 1987, Love’s Secret Storm, and Love’s Silent Gift. Feeling that all that research should be reused, eighteenth-century England continues as a setting for her work.

From 1987 to 1997, she lived in the Republic of Maldives collecting folklore and teaching economics and computer science. While there, she wrote the first drafts of Close to His Heart and The Aerie of the Wolf on her computer.

Visit Leonora online at http://nordskogpublishing.com/book-in-the-aerie-of-the-wolf.shtml

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postheadericon The Story Behind ‘The Paris Wife’ by Paula McLain

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The Story Behind the Book is Literarily Speaking’s newest feature. Here we find out either the inspiration behind authors’ books or how they got published. Today’s guest is Paula McLain, author of the historical novel, The Paris Wife. 

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Paris Wife cover

In Ernest Hemingway’s introduction to his memoir, A Moveable Feast, he writes, “If the reader prefers, this book may be regarded as fiction. But there is always the chance that such a book of fiction may throw some light on what has been written as fact.” I’m hoping my novel will work to illuminate not just the facts of Ernest and Hadley’s years in Paris, but the essence of that time and of their profound connection by weaving both the fully imagined and undeniably real.

When I began to research my book, beginning with biographies of Hemingway and Hadley, and with their delicious correspondence, I knew the actual story of the Hemingway’s marriage was near perfect; it was a ready-made novel, ripe for the picking. I didn’t have to invent a plot for them, nor did I want to. My work would be to use the framework of historical documentation to push into these characters’ hearts and minds, discovering their motivations, their deepest wishes.

The most important step for me was getting Hadley’s voice. She has very little dialogue in A Moveable Feast, but what’s there is so evocative. It led me to seek out the letters she wrote to Ernest during their courtship, and that’s when I knew I could write the book. Her speech rhythms, her intelligence and charm and sense of humor all come through with clarity and effervescence. I simply fell in love with her, with them both.

Beginning to truly hear a character’s voice is like finding a piece of magic string. It pulls you inside their consciousness, and helps you see the world through their very particular point of view, unfolding the story only they can tell. That’s ultimately why I chose to write a few select passages from Ernest’s perspective. There were things I simply needed to know about the choices he was making, and could only know those things from the inside out. He’s terribly complex. Parts of their story aren’t easy to understand—and yet I needed to understand them if I was going to fully inhabit the world that needed inventing: the interior one. In many of Hemingway’s biographies, Hadley is quickly dispatched as “the first wife,” a youthful experiment gone awry. Their emotional crisis—that terrible spring and summer when Hadley learns she’s been betrayed—occupies only a few taut pages in one well-regarded biography, but is the crux of my story. I invented what I couldn’t know—all of their dialogue, for instance—but knew, in a deeper way, one that can’t be aided by all the biographies in the world, what lay at the heart of what I was imagining.Paula McLain

Paris in the 20′s was such a singular time in history, and the Hemingways’ years there were so full of spectacular adventure and compelling encounters, that I felt entirely grateful to live it with them. Working on this book was hands down the most fun I’ve ever had as a writer. I’ll never forget it.

Paula McLain received an MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan and has been a resident of Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. She is the author of two collections of poetry, as well as a memoir, Like Family, and a first novel, A Ticket to Ride. She lives in Cleveland with her family. You can visit Paula McLain’s website to learn more about The Paris Wife at www.pariswife.com. 

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postheadericon The Story Behind ‘Resurrection Garden’ by Frank Scully

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The Story Behind the Book is Literarily Speaking’s newest feature. Here we find out either the inspiration behind authors’ books or how they got published. Today’s guest is Frank Scully, author of the mystery novel, Resurrection Garden (MuseItUp Publishing) 

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Resurrection Garden Cover

 

The genesis of the story behind Resurrection Garden came to me while I was driving home during a particularly nasty winter blizzard here in North Dakota.  I had always intended to write a story set during the first decade of the 20th century as part of my Decade Mystery Series and had been mulling over a variety of storylines but none of them really felt as if they were capturing the special feel of that pioneering time. 

Something in that blizzard sparked several ideas that blossomed into scenes in the book and the rest began to fall into place rather quickly as I did my research.  I scoured archives of local newspapers to get a sense of the time and what was happening in the community and the world.  Many incidents from the newspaper find their way into the book.  Since my grandparents were among the pioneers who were already settled in the area at the time of the story, I also had personal history and diaries that I could draw on for background. 

It was a time of remarkable change.  The train and telegraph were making communication and travel so much quicker and easier. Goods could be shipped over long distance cheaply.  Newspapers even in small towns provided information and provided a sense of community.  Letters could cross the country in a week instead of months.  The telephone was a new invention and being used in cities.  Cars and streetcars were transforming cities. 

And yet, on the frontier prairie where farmers came to homestead and stake their claim to the American Dream, life was still harsh and often raw.  Jake Turner had seen much of the settling of the west.  He’d been to the big city and seen electricity and indoor plumbing.  He charged up San Juan Hill and been an Arizona Ranger and a railroad detective.  He was a wanderer and now he was a Deputy Sheriff in North Dakota where he stumbles over the body of a murdered man. 

The reasons behind the murder are buried deep in the past and the people involved have secrets to keep.  Secrets they are willing to kill again to protect.  Jake’s best friend, Isaac, is entangled in those secrets somehow.  Jake is falling in Love with Isaac’s sister Alice.  An orphaned boy, Andy, has become attached to Jake.  All are at risk if Jake makes a mistake. 

In the midst of the mystery and suspense I try to convey a sense of the time and place.  How it was to live at the turn of the century in a new place where settlers struggled to make a go of it.  The problems they faced that were unique to them and the ones we would recognize today.  It was hard work taming the land. Communities were new. Medicine was rudimentary.  The law was often distant.  Yet people then were much the same as they are now. 

I sought publication the normal way and wrote queries to agents.  I did get an agent for a period of time but never received any offer of publication, so we went our separate ways.  I then signed with a small publisher and was scheduled for publication but, due to the owner’s illness, the publishing company was dissolved and I and my book were orphaned again.  Some time later I heard through the grapevine that Lea Schizas was starting a publishing house called MuseItUp Publishing so I wrote to congratulate her and also queried her on my book.  Very shortly after submitting, she offered me a contract.  I am very happy to be with MuseItUp.  Lea has surrounded herself with excellent professional editors and other staff.Frank Scully Photo 2

 

Frank Scully was born and raised in a small town in North Dakota and received a Bachelor’s degree in History with Phi Beta Kappa Honors and a Juris Doctor degree in Law from the University of North Dakota. He then served more than five years as a Judge Advocate General Corps Officer in the U. S. Army in the U. S., Vietnam, and Thailand. After that he attended the prestigious Thunderbird School and received a Masters in Business Administration with honors. In his professional career he has worked as an executive with large aerospace and defense manufacturers and also owned his own small business.

Depending on the vagaries of the universe he has been well off at times and broke, but never broken, at other times. Blessed with an understanding wife who gave him twin sons, he has remained through it all a dreamer whose passion is writing stories that will entertain readers.

Resurrection Garden, a mystery novel, is the first of five books Frank has under contract with MuseitUp Publishing.

You can visit Frank’s website at www.frankjscully.com.

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postheadericon Christmas Celebrations with Historical Fiction Author M.M. Bennetts

Christmas Celebrations

Christmas Celebrations from Authors Around the World is Literarily Speaking’s newest features. We ask authors “What’s it like at your house over the holidays?” Today we welcome M.M. Bennetts, author of the historical fiction novel, Of Honest Fame (Diiarts)!

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M.M. Bennetts IIn the country market town where I live, Christmas hasn’t changed all that much since the end of the Second World War.

Christmas for our family is about the family.  And books.  And music.   We don’t travel–life 364 days a year is too hectic as it is.

In the run-up to the 25th, we will have been listening to Renaissance Christmas music on cds by the Tallis Scholars, the Boston Camerata (everyone’s favourite), The Messiah, and yes, Bing Crosby and Tony Bennett as well as the softer, more contemplative piano music of David Lanz.

The Renaissance carols are our delight though–back then they still had such a sense of wonder and vivid enthusiasm about the whole thing.

On Christmas Eve, at the stable where we ride, there is always a Christmas performance with the horses being ridden in formation to Christmas carols.  The horses have tinsel woven into their tails and manes, the riders are costumed and it’s all just an absolute delight–the very best.

M.M. Bennetts Christmas II

Of course, it’s always bitterly cold, but the horses are fantastic and wow everyone with their precision and neat stepping.  Then afterward, there’s a bit of a party.

When we return home, and after we’ve thawed, the younger children start carrying the wrapped presents in to arrange them about the base of the Christmas tree in the Drawing Room.

Though they may be growing up, their excitement hasn’t much waned.  They will have been hopping from foot to foot all afternoon waiting for the homecoming of their elder siblings, who will be greeted with rapture and an outburst of chatter that sends the dogs scurrying off to their beds.

As the evening progresses, and more presents appear under the tree, I’ll light the fire in the hearth, a plate of Austrian nut cookies and a carrot for the reindeer will be arranged on the sideboard for Father Christmas, and then we’ll settle.

Still, with the children near grown, I read two books aloud:  A Night Before Christmas by C. Clement Moore, and Bright Christmas by Andrew Clements.

Protesting, the younger ones go to bed and undoubtedly do not sleep for a while.  The others may wander out through the quiet of the dark and decorated streets to the Midnight service at the Abbey; the Beloved stuffs the turkey and gets it into the oven to slow roast overnight.

M.M. Bennetts Christmas III

In the morning, I’m always up first to let the dogs out, to light the fire in the Drawing Room and put on the kettle for the morning tea.  Then I go to wake the children.  The youngest still likes to be led to the tree, or even carried.

While the others are making their way downstairs, rubbing their faces, downing that first mug of the necessary oolong, there will be a certain eyeing up of all that has appeared overnight, courtesy of the unseen ‘how does he do it?’ Father Christmas.

Having been jolted awake thanks to a mug or two of strong tea, we the parents watch while stockings are unloaded and the contents unwrapped and exclaimed over.

Cinnamon rolls make their way into the oven, and over the course of the next couple of hours, all the presents are unwrapped, sometimes to a mixture of tears and laughing which we call ‘both-ing’.  We do have a family tradition of writing epigrams or odd clues on the tags, so reading these aloud and puzzling over the contents is a great part of the amusement.

At some point in the morning, the Abbey bells will start to peal, ringing the Christmas changes.  This is the brightest sound in the world, carrying well in the cold December air, and every year, we stop and stand near an open door, just to listen.

Then–and this will sound particularly idle–I generally return to bed while the Beloved gets on with the preparation of Christmas lunch.  (I am particularly useless and helpless in the kitchen, so this suits everyone.  And unlike P.G. Wodehouse, I do not write on Christmas Day.)  The children collect their booty to go off and do whatever daughters do with dolls and books and new jim-jams; possibly they also clamber back into their beds with their new books.

Later when I awaken and come down again, bathed and civilised at last, it is always to find the Beloved, seated in front of a roaring fire, reading one from the stack of newly given and joyfully received books–there’ll be a pile of them, all history or historical fiction, beside the chair–or more likely, having just finished the first one, and starting in on the second.

We have Christmas lunch then around half-past three–turkey and stuffing, cranberry-pear relish, scalloped apples, roast potatoes and parsnips, pumpkin pie, Buche de Noel and Austrian nut cookies.   And much laughter.

Later, we take the dogs for a walk by the river.  The children generally refuse to accompany–they’re far too busy, ha ha.  And as afternoon blends into evening, and the whole town is quiet, we may watch a movie together or just sit together in the Drawing Room where the fire will have been burning all day, just looking at the Christmas tree, admiring it.

Then, on Boxing Day, there will undoubtedly be a long ride in the cold or rain off across the Downs with friends.  And this too, is bliss.

Of Honest FameEducated at Boston University and St Andrews, M.M. Bennetts is a specialist in the economic, social and military history of Napoleonic Europe. The author is a keen cross-country and dressage rider, as well as an accomplished pianist, regularly performing music of the era as both a soloist and accompanist. Bennetts is a long-standing book critic for The Christian Science Monitor.

The author is married and lives in England.

Bennetts’ latest book is Of Honest Fame.

You can visit the author’s website at www.mmbennetts.com.

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Dorothy's bookshelf: currently-reading

Fast Food Vindication The Nutcracker Nature Wars: The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds Buddy: How a Rooster Made Me a Family Man A Christmas Home: A Novel Break the Skin

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Nice Things People Say

"My paperback sales went up overnight. THANKS TO YOU!!! My sales were zero before I started my tour."

-- Lilian Duval, author of YOU NEVER KNOW

“Dorothy is an inspiring leader who gets results, whether managing a team or working independently.”

— Gary Jamieson

“The hardest working woman I know who puts her heart and soul into everything she does.”

-- Jaime McDougall, author of ECHO FALLS

"The woman to know for an author from the leading blog tour company Pump It Books."

-- Bri Clark, author of GLAZIER

"Love the different authors Dorothy and her Virtual tours always introduce me to! She's a gem to work with.”

-- Rashmi CallmeaBookworm

"Dorothy is simply amazing. She goes the extra mile to help authors get noticed and has an incredible personality to match. ”

--April Schiff Pohren

"I have enjoyed working with Dorothy on several blog tours. And look forward to participating in more of her tours in the future.”

-- Romancingthe Book

"Dorothy is a phenominal woman and an incredible resource for authors. She is also a pleasure to work with; a veritable writer's dream."

Chad Coenson, Author

"Dorothy's expertise comes from a place where all successful and fundamentally sound American enterprises spring: research and fairness. ”

-- J.W. Nicklaus, Author

"Dorothy is a dedicated professional & a delight to work with. She is also straight-forward and direct, but also flexible and compassionate. ”"

-- Janie Hickok, blogger

"Dorothy I just googled my name my book publicity is all over the Internet. You are amazing!!!"

-- Chris Shella, author of REASONABLE FACSIMILE