#BookTour: A Dog’s Hope by Casey Wilson

8297BD5E-C091-45C4-B34A-F9312C2EC61BTitle:  A Dog’s Hope

 

Publication Day: March 6th  2020

 

Author:   Casey Wilson  

 

Buy  Links:       

Amazon: https://geni.us/B083XYXMLKSocial

Apple: https://apple.co/2u41lyH

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2FYLp3f 

Google: http://bit.ly/2RweWa6

 

Description:

There are some things in life that only a dog can teach you.

A poignant, heart-wrenching, but ultimately uplifting novel about the unbreakable bond between a boy and his dog. Perfect for fans of A Dog’s PurposeThe Art of Racing in the Rain and Marley and Me.

In the farming town of Riverside in Washington, Toby Fuller is feeling more alone than ever. Nothing Toby did was ever good enough for his father, but he never expected his father to leave, to abandon him and his mother forever. He loses hope, until a scruffy golden retriever called Buddy follows him home from school.

Though he’s struggling to walk, Buddy matches Toby step for step, never taking his eyes off him, as if Toby is all he needs in the world. And from that day on Buddy never leaves Toby’s side.

Buddy shows Toby a loyalty that he has never known. But then disaster strikes and Toby’s life is changed forever. Will Buddy be able to give Toby the strength he needs to carry on?

A tale of how unconditional love can bound into your life when you least expect it, giving you hope in the darkest of times.

 

770FB7EA-F696-4EF2-AA4B-121F4A24BCE0Review:

By Serena Soape

Ahhhhh- Not only was this a beautiful cover, but a truly poignant story written on the pages between……so moving and emotionally stirring!

Casey Wilson has written a totally heart and gut wrenching novel with “A Dog’s Hope”.

Buddy was such a loyal companion to Toby and is with him through it all. I loved watching their relationship grow.

I read the last couple chapters through tears as it touched me very deeply.

I absolutely recommend this page turner! You will not want to put it down!

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for fair and honest review.

5 Stars.

Review:

By Annie Horsky McDonnell

Written with all of the things you can’t buy; but, all of the emotions you can feel, “A Dog’s Hope” by Casey Wilson touches on a lot the hardships we deal with in life with grace…often seen through the eyes of a dog named, Buddy.

Such a captivating tale! So moving and touching!

The relationship between Buddy and his person are full of such love, it is beautiful.

This intensity can sometimes even hurt immeasurably.

It’s surprising what is on the other side of that pain.

Hope.

This is a story to wrap yourself up with!

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for fair and honest review.

5 Stars.

68CE303A-F198-45A0-BDBB-59175A855443Author Bio:

Casey Wilson is the author of A Dog’s Hope, published with Bookouture.

Born and raised in the United States in Nevada, she is the owner of a gorgeous golden retriever, who may or may not have inspired the dogs in her novels.

Author Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CaseyWilsonAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CaseyWilsonAuth

 

 

#BlogTour – The Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitz

82098BEB-CD11-493F-A87F-5A31F92B9155The Grace Kelly Dress : A Novel

Brenda Janowitz

On Sale Date: March 3, 2020

9781525804595, 1525804596

Trade Paperback

$16.99 USD, $22.99 CAD

Fiction / Contemporary Women

336 pages

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Two years after Grace Kelly’s royal wedding, her iconic dress is still all the rage in Paris—and one replica, and the secrets it carries, will inspire three generations of women to forge their own paths in life and in love.

Paris, 1958: Rose, a seamstress at a fashionable atelier, has been entrusted with sewing a Grace Kelly—look-alike gown for a wealthy bride-to-be. But when, against better judgment, she finds herself falling in love with the bride’s handsome brother, Rose must make an impossible choice, one that could put all she’s worked for at risk: love, security and of course, the dress.

Sixty years later, tech CEO Rachel, who goes by the childhood nickname “Rocky,” has inherited the dress for her upcoming wedding in New York City. But there’s just one problem: Rocky doesn’t want to wear it. A family heirloom dating back to the 1950s, the dress just isn’t her. Rocky knows this admission will break her mother Joan’s heart. But what she doesn’t know is why Joan insists on the dress—or the heartbreaking secret that changed her mother’s life decades before, as she herself prepared to wear it.

As the lives of these three women come together in surprising ways, the revelation of the dress’s history collides with long-buried family heartaches. And in the lead-up to Rocky’s wedding, they’ll have to confront the past before they can embrace the beautiful possibilities of the future.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Brenda Janowitz is the author of five novels, including The Dinner Party and Recipe for a Happy Life. She is the Books Correspondent for PopSugar. Brenda’s work has also appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, Salon, Redbook, and the New York Post. She lives in New York.

SOCIAL LINKS:

Author website: http://www.brendajanowitz.com/

Facebook: @BrendaJanowitz

Twitter: @BrendaJanowitz

Instagram: @brendajanowitzwriter

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/241404.Brenda_Janowitz

BUY LINKS:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Apple Books

Indie Bound

Harlequin Trade Publishing

Books-A-Million

Kobo

Review:

Reviewer: Annie Horsky McDonnell

Brenda Janowitz took us on a deeply sincere and contemplative journey in her generational sweeping novel “The Grace Kelly Dress”.

It was truly sentimental, touching, and inspirational! I love books that wrap stories of friendship, love and family around a cherished item. This was magnificent! We forget how important our wedding dresses are to us, and what they symbolize. Thank you for this sincere and beautiful reminder.

As I was reading I was so full of nostalgia for my wedding dress…sitting in a box, carefully preserved, as Joan’s was so that it stays in pristine condition; to pass it down to a loved one.

Now I must decide my wedding dresses adventure!! It’s time.

5 Stars.


Excerpt:

The mother of the bride, as a bride herself
Long Island, 1982

She loved the dress. She loved the veil that went with it, too, though she wasn’t sure if it could be salvaged. It was showing signs of age, its edges curling and tinged with brown. But that wouldn’t dull her excitement.

Today was the day she would be trying on her mother’s wedding dress. Even though Joanie had tried it on countless times as a child—it was a favorite rainy-day activity with her mother—today felt different. She was engaged, just like she’d dreamed about ever since she could remember. When she tried the dress on this time, it was for keeps. She was completely in love with the dress.

“Let me help you get it on,” Joanie’s mother said, her French accent coming through. It was always more pronounced when she was feeling emotional. With her American friends, Joanie noticed, her mother always tried to sound “American,” softening her accent and using American expressions. But when they were alone, she could be herself. Let her guard down. Joanie knew exactly who her mother was, and she loved her for it.

Her mother handed Joanie a pair of white cotton gloves and then put on her own set. The first step in trying the dress on, always, so that the oils in their hands wouldn’t defile the fabric. She laid the large box on her bed and nodded her head at her husband, her signal to give them privacy. The door closed to Joanie’s childhood bedroom, and she and her mother were alone.

The white cotton gloves were cool and smooth on her skin. Joanie opened the box slowly. So slowly. It was sealed with a special plastic that was supposed to keep it airtight so that the dress would not oxidize and turn yellow. She and her mother laughed as they struggled to set the dress free. The last time she tried the dress on was the summer before her sister died. It was after Michele’s death that her mother brought the dress into the city so that it might be cleaned properly and preserved for just this day. At the time, Joanie hadn’t understood the connection between her sister’s sudden death and her mother’s tight grip on family heirlooms, but now, a year into her psychology degree at NYC University, she understood. It was so hard to hold on to things that were important to you, things that mattered, and preserving her wedding dress, this memory, was her mother’s way of taking control of something. It was something she could save.

The dress was just as beautiful as she’d remembered. Crafted from rose point lace, the same lace used on Grace Kelly’s iconic wedding dress, it was delicate and classic and chic and a million other things Joanie couldn’t even articulate.

“Go on,” her mother said, holding the first part of the dress—the bodice with the attached underbodice, skirt support, and slip—out for her to take. As a child, it had thrilled Joanie to no end that the wedding dress her mother wore was actually made up of four separate pieces. It was like a secret that a bride could have on her special day, something that no one else knew.

“I couldn’t,” Joanie said, hands at her side. Knowing how carefully preserved the dress had been, what the dress had meant to her mother, it was hard for Joanie to touch it. She didn’t want to get it dirty, sully its memory. “It’s just so beautiful.”

“It’s yours now,” her mother said, smiling warmly. “The dress belongs to you. Put it on.”

Joanie kicked off her ballerina flats, and her mother helped her ease the bodice on. Joanie stood at attention as her mother snapped the skirt into place, and wrapped the cummerbund around her waist. Joanie held her hands high above her head, not wanting to get in the way of her mother’s expert hands, hands that knew exactly where to go, fingers that knew exactly what to do.

“You ready in there, Birdie?” her father yelled from the hallway, impatient, his French accent just as strong as the day he left France. Joanie always loved how her father had a special nickname for her mother. When they first married, he would call her mother GracieBird, a nickname of Grace Kelly’s, because of the Grace Kelly–inspired wedding gown she wore on their wedding day. Eventually, it was shortened to Bird, and then over time, it became Birdie. What would Joanie’s fiancé call her?

Joanie inspected her reflection in the mirror. Her shoulder-length blond hair, recently permed, looked messy. Her pink eye shadow, which had always seemed so grown-up on her sister, made her appear tired and puffy-eyed. But the dress? The dress was perfect.

Her mother opened the door slowly, and her father’s face came into view. His expression softened as he saw his daughter in the wedding dress. She walked out into the hallway, towards him, and she could see a tear forming in the corner of his eye.

She turned to her mother, about to tell her that Daddy was crying, when she saw that her mother, too, had teared up. Joanie couldn’t help it—seeing her mother and father cry, she began to cry as well. She could never keep a dry eye when someone else was crying, least of all her parents, ex-pats from Europe who hardly ever cried.

Michele’s presence floated in the air like a haze, but no one would say it. No one dared mention that she would have worn the dress first. Should have worn the dress first.

“And look at us,” her mother said, her hands reaching out and grabbing for her husband and daughter. “All of us crying like little babies.”

All three embraced—carefully, of course, so as not to ruin the dress.

Her father kissed the top of her head. “Give us a twirl.”

Joanie obliged. The dress moved gracefully as she spun. Joanie curtsied, and her father gently took her hand and kissed it.

“I know what you’re thinking,” her mother said, her voice a song.

“What?” Joanie asked absentmindedly, while staring at her reflection in the mirror. She knew the first thing she’d change—the sleeves. The dress needed big, voluminous sleeves, just like Princess Diana had worn on her wedding day.

“Or I should say who you’re thinking about,” her mother said, a gentle tease.

“Who?” Joanie asked, under her breath, twirling from side to side in front of the mirror, watching the dress move.

“Your fiancé,” her mother said, furrowing her brow. “Remember him?”

“For sure,” Joanie said, spinning around to face her mother. “My fiancé. Yes. I knew that. And, yes. I was.” But the truth was, she had completely forgotten.

 

Excerpted from The Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitz. Copyright © 2020 by Brenda Janowitz. Published by Graydon House Books.

 

A82A9CA6-5165-4421-9CB0-022F9EAF3156Q&A with Brenda Janowitz:


Q: You write that you’ve always loved wedding dresses. What fascinated you about Grace Kelly’s dress in particular, and how did you come up with the idea for this novel?

A: Ever since I first laid eyes on this iconic garment, I’ve been in love. To me, Grace Kelly’s wedding gown is the ultimate dress. Beautiful, elegant, and refined– what more could any bride want?

 My agent sent me an article from The Today Show about a wedding dress that had been passed down through eleven generations. The moment I heard the story, I knew that I had the idea for my next novel.

 Once I decided to write about a wedding gown, there was only one thing I envisioned: Grace Kelly on her wedding day. So, when it came time to describe what this heirloom dress looked like, I found myself describing Grace Kelly’s gown– the lace sleeves, the cummerbund, the full skirt. I quickly realized that the characters in the book should be as enamored of this design as me, and The Grace Kelly Dress was born!

Q: You alternate between three characters’ stories. Did you focus more on one before turning to the others, or did you write the novel in the order in which it appears?

A: I like to write in a very straightforward manner, and that usually means writing each chapter in order, from beginning to end. So, I approached this book in this same way, at first.

But then, I realized that in order to make each story have the meaningful arc I was looking for, I’d need to focus on one story at a time. So, I broke the book apart into three different documents, and worked on one timeline at a time. This enabled me to fully immerse myself in each protagonist’s life, as well as the time period I was exploring.

Once I’d completed all three timelines, the real work began. I wove the book back together, and that was when the book took its true form, as I made sure that the different timelines all spoke to each other in a meaningful way. It certainly made the book take longer to write, but I think that by working on each timeline separately, I was able to do the individual stories justice.

Q: Tell us a little about your story and the story world you’ve created.

A: The Grace Kelly Dress is the story of three generations of women, and the wedding dress that binds them together. It’s a story about love, friendship, and family, and it’s entirely different from anything I’ve ever written before. I hope that readers will join me on this journey, and come to love these women as I do.

Q: Tell us a little about how this story first came to be. Did it start with an image, a voice, a concept, a dilemma or something else?

A: When my agent sent me a clip from The Today Show about a wedding dress that had been passed down through eleven generations of a family, I knew that I had the idea for my next book. It had everything I love to write about in one place– multiple generations, a wedding dress, and lots of room for friction. The image of a wedding gown is one that is so incredibly powerful to me. The way one chooses to dress for her wedding day says so much about that person, and how she wants to present herself to the world.

Q: The book is set in the New York area and in Paris. How important is setting to you in your writing?

 A: Setting is so incredibly important! Where a character lives and how she interacts with her environment says so much about who she is. Rocky, our protagonist in 2020, lives and works in Brooklyn, and it says as much about who she is as the tattoos she proudly wears all over her body. Joanie, in 1982, lives a sheltered life on Long Island, but when she goes into New York City, she finds a world much larger than the one she was living. And Rose, in 1958, is in Paris, but as a poor orphan, lives a different type of sheltered life, working in a highly regarded atelier during the day, and doing not much else.

Q: What kind of research did you do for this book, and did you learn anything especially surprising?

 A: I’ve never written in a timeline other than the present, so there was a ton of research to be done! I had to research the two different time periods, 1982 and 1958. Even an innocuous detail like the brand of watch that a character is wearing can throw a reader out of the narrative if the author hasn’t gotten it just right.

 The most enjoyable research I did was about Grace Kelly herself, and, of course, her iconic gown. I read Kristina Haugland’s incredible book, Grace Kelly: Icon of Style to Royal Bride, and then had the opportunity to speak with her as well. I loved learning every detail I could about this beloved dress, but by far the most interesting thing I learned was this: Grace Kelly’s gown consisted of four separate parts, each of which needed to be put on separately. What a wonderful secret for a bride to have on her wedding day!

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I’ve loved writing about an heirloom item and the family that owns it, so I’m doing it again! I’ll be focusing on another family and another heirloom that has been passed down. Heirlooms are so incredibly important to me– I wear one of my Grandma Dorothy’s rings every day, and I love having a piece of her with me as I go through my day to day.

Q: How did you get the idea for this novel?

A: The idea came to me when my agent sent me a clip from The Today Show about a wedding dress that had been passed down through eleven generations. I couldn’t get over how incredibly special that was, and I immediately started to think about what it would mean for a family to have an item like that. How would each woman change the dress to fit her personality? How would the time she was living in have an effect on those choices? And what if one woman didn’t want the dress?

 Q: Is Grace Kelly one of your favorite actresses? What is your favorite Grace Kelly role?

 A: YES! Grace Kelly, to me, is the ultimate Hollywood story: beautiful, talented, and then she married a prince. I love all of Grace Kelly’s films, but I particularly adore To Catch a Thief. It’s so romantic and flirty, and it’s got Cary Grant.

Q: What is one of the biggest challenges you have in a story like this that spans different times in history?

A: One of the biggest challenges for me, was the massive amount of research. When writing in another time period, I underestimated how carefully every sentence would have to be researched. The characters needed to sound like they lived in the time period I was presenting, and every reference needed to be spot on– from what the characters were wearing, to the types of music they listened to, to the way they styled their hair. Is it any wonder that my current work in progress will take place in the present?

Q: What is the significance of the title: The Grace Kelly Dress?

A:  The Grace Kelly Dress refers to the wedding dress that is handed down through three generations of women. The gown in my book was initially created in 1958, and at that time, the bride wanted the dress that everyone wanted at that time: something that looked just like what Grace Kelly wore when she married Prince Rainier in 1956.

Q: Are any of your characters based on real people you know?

A: They say that your first novel is all about you, that each and every character is you, and I think that was true of my first novel. (First two novels, perhaps!) But this is my sixth novel, so at this point, all of the characters are products of my imagination. That said, everything inspires me, so parts of real life always have their way of making their way into my work. So, I suppose a better way to answer this question would be to say: no, not on purpose.

Q: Which character was most challenging to create? Why?

A: I found Joanie, in 1982, to be the most challenging to write. I first created her character while working on the 2020 timeline, at which point we only know her as Rocky’s mother. It took a lot of thought to figure out who she would be at age 20, and how she would grow into the woman we see in 2020. Additionally, since we meet her mother in the 1958 timeline, it was important that the reader see a connection there, too.

On the first round of edits, I completely trashed the original 1982 storyline and re-wrote it from the ground up. I think that I needed the first draft to truly learn who she was, and how to create her story.

Q: What did you learn when writing the book?

A: I’ve learned so much this time around, but the lesson that most resonated for me was that writing is re-writing. From the first draft of this novel to the second, the book changed dramatically, and I think that the story is ultimately better for it. But when you’re a newer writer, it’s so hard to cut things, and it’s even harder to completely trash a part of the book and start from scratch. But really, editing the book is the thing that makes it better, and ultimately, makes you a better writer.

Q: Were you a young writer, a late bloomer, or something in between?

A: I’ve always loved to write. In fact, it’s the reason I became a lawyer. But I was one of those unhappy lawyers, so for my 30th birthday, my best friend, Shawn, organized a group gift– she got all of our friends together and sent me to my first writing class. It’s the thing that helped me to take my writing more seriously, and the place where I began writing what would become my first novel.

 Q: Do you have a dedicated writing space?

 A: I do have an office in my house, but I’m one of those writers who just gets the work done whenever and wherever she can. In fact, I’m on my laptop right now while my kids are at the kitchen table doing homework!

 Q: Any type of writing ritual you have?

 A: I wish I could say that I have certain rituals and that I have a process for letting the muse in, but the truth is, I’m just a busy working mom, so I write when I can. Sometimes, I’m dictating full chapters on the voice memo app on my phone. Sometimes, I’m jotting notes on the backs of receipts. I say: do whatever works!

Q: What is your favorite genre to read, and why?

A: I love to read, and I love reading all different types of genres. I think it makes you a better writer to be more widely read. That said, I have a soft spot for upmarket commercial fiction. If Reese Witherspoon can make a limited series HBO drama out of it, I’m in!

 Q: What message do you hope readers take away from your story?

 A: The main thing is that I want readers to really enjoy the story and have a great reading experience. As for a takeaway, it’s been really moving to have readers reach out to me to discuss the role that heirloom items have had in their own life. I always tell my kids: it’s people who are important, not things. But I do believe that certain things, like these heirlooms that are passed down, have meaning. They show us where our family has been, and each one has a story connected to it. Stories are powerful, and the stories about where we come from are so incredibly meaningful.

 

 

 

 

#BookRelease, #BookReview & #BookGiveaway: Love, Jane By Katie Blanchard

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Jane always longed for security and thought she found it when she married Stewart. When stress takes a toll on their marriage, she hires yoga instructor Shana to help him, but finds that sometimes inviting a stranger into your home means they never leave.

Tossed out of her home and marriage, penniless, while Shana sleeps in her place, Jane is brutally attacked. With help from Billy, the cop who saved her life, Jane takes on a new identity to hide from the man who assaulted her. Hiding is exhausting, but she’s not sure who to trust. Even Billy has past ties to her husband.

While the cops hunt for her attacker, a run-in with Shana exposes a secret that could result in a new madman on Jane’s tail– Stewart. Both women are in peril and Jane must decide if she can help the woman who ruined her marriage.

Will she be able to save them both or is the danger closer than either of them imagines?

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Katie Blanchard does it again with “Love, Jane”!

We all met the steadfast Jane Voss in “Dear Anna” and now we are afforded the opportunity to learn her backstory. It is not often that an author takes us on this journey and what an awesome idea this is. I found it to be not only super exciting, but; realized how truly powerful learning her history was.

The theme that runs vibrantly through this novel is that “Girls Stick Together” and…it bleeds into (or out of) “Dear Anna”. That is the beauty of how Katie Blanchard wrote these novels; you can read them in either order.

The depth with which each character is driven is triumphant! I truly felt compelled to care for each character. Her character development is flawless.

The most magnificent part of this novel was that Jane’s ex-husband, Stewart plays one of the strongest characters in the storyline, yet we never meet him, or even see him from a distance. He is so hated by me. He is so vile, and disgusting….It is pure talent that can give this type of power to a character that is unseen.

I was totally taken away! I not only recommend this book…I give it high praise!

I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

5 Stars.

—-Annie Horsky McDonnell

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Katie Blanchard is an author of women’s fiction and suspense. Her debut novel, ‘Pressing Flowers’ is available for purchase through Amazon. Katie resides in Southwestern, Pennsylvania where she spends most of her days chasing two children. When they give her a moment, she’s found crocheting on the couch. You can find out more about Katie and her upcoming releases at www.authorkatieblanchard.com, or follow her on Facebook. http://bit.ly/KBlanchardFBPage

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#NewRelease, #AuthorInterview & #Giveaway: Meet Eileen Sanchez and learn more about “Freedom Lessons: A Novel”

1CFD5BB2-3D9E-4704-BC53-B87AABEAD12EQ: What first sparked your interest in writing “Freedom Lessons”? 


Ten years ago, I was at a professional educational conference in New Orleans, LA. After a long day of presentations, we went out to Pat O’Brien’s, a great bar in the French Quarter. If you ever visit NOLA be sure to go there to have a
Hurricane and request your favorite song to be played by the dueling pianos. In between the drinks and entertainment, I surprised the people I was with when I told them I had taught in a small rural town in Louisiana. It was during the mandated integration that followed the October 29, 1969 Alexander v Holmes Supreme Court decision which ordered schools across the county to desegregate. I had rarely shared that experience. I explained how a 22-year-old young woman from NJ wound up in the middle of the poorly planned mandated integration of the public schools. My husband was in the Army and we lived there for the last year of his service.

I always knew the impact it had on my personal history, but that revelation made me realize how significant the event was in the history of our country. I was a witness and felt a responsibility to share it. At the time, my first grandchild was two years old and a friend challenged me to write about my life during that year so that my granddaughter would learn about it.

When I started to write, I realized that I only knew my story. I had returned to NJ at the end of that school year when my husband was discharged. What happened to my second grade students after that traumatic year? I uncovered numerous personal stories through reading and research.


7BED2A3C-FA26-449A-81ED-9547C394CBC6
Q: Is there any truth to your story that is personal to you?


The story is told from three points of view. Colleen represents my own experience and I created two characters, Evelyn and Frank, to tell the point of view of a black teacher and a black high school student. My November 12, 2019 publishing date commemorates the 50th anniversary of southern states meeting the mandate of the Brown v BOE decision, followed by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and finally on October 29, 1969 the US Supreme Court ordered schools across the country to desegregate in the little-known but milestone case,
Alexander v. Holmes. It was 15 years after Brown v Board and most black students in the South still attended segregated black schools.  If they had not integrated public schools, they would have forfeited federal funds on Dec. 31, 1969. Stubborn resistance to move beyond “Freedom of Choice” plans created numerous last minute decisions to meet the mandate.

My book is based on my personal experience that I more fully understood by studying the impact on the black families and teachers forty years later through research and interviews about that school year of 1969-1970.

I fictionalized my experience to create the characters of Frank and Evelyn after reading first hand accounts of the impact of the mandated integration on families of the children I taught and the black teachers and administrators who were moved from respected positions to secondary support staff. Having two POV characters who are black and one white misplaced “Yankee” I have tried to give a more accurate expression of the small stories and the wide impact of this event.


Q: Do you have a favorite character? Why?

That’s easy, it’s Frank. Five years ago, I was able to visit the town and the school I taught in. The visit filled some of the history of the people and the community. One of the opportunities allowed me to meet the current principal of the school. The school had been reopened and now serves as a middle school. She had been away in college the year of the mandated integration, but she told me some of her own family’s experiences. The stories about her brother who was a high school senior in 1969 helped me to personalize and build a deeper background for Frank. He became the character to tell the story from a student’s point of view.  I created a family for Rachel, one of Colleen’s second graders. Frank became Rachel’s brother, the eldest son who was deeply impacted by his father’s death in a suspicious fire. Frank and his parents had been counting on a football scholarship for him to be able to attend college. But when the schools were integrated the football team spots were already filled by the white students.  He wasn’t able to play and lost his chance for the scholarship. He struggled with the unfairness but maintained the core values from his parents.


Q: How long did it take you to write “Freedom Lessons”?

Five years. Slow and steady. I tend to write in chunks of time. The discipline of writing every day for an hour doesn’t work for me. I get immersed in the research and the “telling”. Some writers can turn out books very quickly but that’s not how mine happened. Once a week for four years I met with my writing group as we wrote our novels under the tutelage of my mentor, Michelle Cameron (The Fruit of Her Hands: the Story of Shira of Ashkenaz, & Beyond the Ghetto Gates). There are other methods to writing a novel, but I wrote 10-20 pages a week for three years. We each read our pages aloud to the group and then received feedback. I had to learn to show not tell. After decades of writing educational reports of all kinds which required concise specific explanations, I had to learn how to let the story roll out through the characters. Creating characters and learning who they were was a huge challenge because two of my main point of view characters are African American. It took a great deal of research to understand Frank and Evelyn. I began a personal black history study and wove what I learned into their background and their lives.

Q:  When did you realize you were a novelist?

“Who me?” It’s still sinking in.

Annie: Today is the day! Congratulations!

Q:  As you geared up for your Book being released, what was the most exciting part(s) for you?

The initial critical reviews from people who I’m not related to! I’m most pleased with my Library Journal (LJ) review and being included in a LJ article titled Fall/Winter Best Debut Novels.


Q:  With this being your first novel, do you think you will always explore historical fiction? Maybe still more to tell about this particular era?

There’s always more to tell about an era. I enjoy writing and the history research that supports the story.


Q: I love the Music that comes with the book. Where can people order this?

I created the playlist mainly for book club swag. It’s from my personal music burned to a CD. So, I can’t sell it, but some lucky readers can win it!

Name

Artist

My Girl

The Temptations

All I Have to Offer You (Is Me)

Charley Pride

A Beautiful Morning

The Rascals

Okie from Muskogee (Rerecorded)

Merle Haggard

Yellow Submarine

The Beatles

Honky Tonk Women

The Rolling Stones

Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (The…

The 5th Dimension

Ball of Confusion (That’s What the…

The Temptations

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Simon & Garfunkel

ABC

Jackson 5

Both Sides Now

Judy Collins

Get Together

The Youngbloods

Annie: Thank you for including this CD in your Giveaway!

Q:  Is there an author that you feel resonates with you and your writing style?

There are two authors that have influenced my interest in storytelling.

Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings follows thirty-five years of a complex relationship between Sarah and her ownership of Handful, as both women strive for lives of their own. I would never compare myself to Sue Monk Kidd, but I love her books and wish that her readers might like mine. She is a prolific writer and develops the rich interior lives of her characters with prose that keeps you turning the page. Her books build from real historic figures to tell the small stories of everyday people that make up our history. My book tells the small stories directly from the everyday people. I can hope for some of her readers, can’t I?

 Amy Hill Hearth’s endorsement, featured on the cover of Freedom Lessons, validated my writing and the telling of the story. She has been generous with her support of a second career debut author. Amy, a New York Times best selling author, has written several books, two fiction and several non-fiction, the most recent is Streetcar to Justice. Her most successful book became the Broadway play “The Delany Sisters – Having Our Say”. I loved these two: Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society: A Novel and Miss Dreamsville and the Lost Heiress of Collier County: A Novel. The Stories take place in a rural area of Florida that became Disney World and the setting rises to a level of the characters. A transplanted “Yankee” from Boston shakes up the community by starting a literary salon, aka a book club. Both books “will touch the heart of anyone who ever felt like an outsider longing to fit in.”


Q: When do you typically write?  Where do you write?  Set this up for us…

When I started Freedom Lessons I wrote in an upstairs bedroom dedicated to be “A Room of my Own”. It was sacred and when I returned to write more the next day the thoughts and ideas returned as I started to write. Mornings are the most creative times for me to write but I can return to ideas any time of day. I need to be alone to write; I can get distracted easily. I’ve witnessed an author friend writing pages by hand in a notebook in the middle of activity around us as we waited for a conference to begin. I write on my laptop. I type fast and the ease of quick edits releases my worry about getting it right the first time. I’ve learned that I just need to write it and then fix it later. A handwritten manuscript would slow me down. I can type almost as fast as I’m thinking the ideas.

Q:  May I ask who your favorite authors are?

I’ve already mentioned Amy Hill Hearth and Sue Monk Kidd. I would add Camille Di Maio, and Tara Conklin. Kwame Alexander inspires me with his poetry and books for “children of all ages”.  Books? Any book by Sue Kidd Monk but The Secret Life of Bees came to mind first.  I love poetry and have just discovered Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover because of my grandson. Shel Silverstein’s A Light in the Attic is an old favorite to pull out. Judith Viorst keeps me laughing as I age with her poems from How Did I Get to Be Forty, Forever Fifty, Suddenly Sixty and I’m Too Young to Be Seventy. (Yup, 72! How else could I have been there in 1969?)

Annie: I love Sue Monk Kidd!  Must read Kwame Alexander, as I love poetry.


Q:  What books are in your nightstand right now?

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi is my most recent finished book. Starting in 18th century Ghana to Jazz Age Harlem, the novel illuminates’ slavery’s troubled legacy. I am often reading several books at a time. I’m reading a lovely lyrical memoir by new author Marlena Maduro Baraf’s, At the Narrow Waist of the World, which tells the coming of age story of a young Jewish woman in Panama who is torn by love and worry for her mentally ill mother.  And I’m listening to Camille Di Maio’s The Beautiful Strangers, it’s historical fiction and a cozy mystery. To further support my book talks and events that are coming up I’m reading non-fiction The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson.


Q:  What is your favorite part of being a published author?

Holding the book, meeting people who are interested in the story and hearing the connections they have to the themes in Freedom Lessons.


Q:  Any hobbies you’d like to share with us?

Is traveling a hobby? I love to travel and if I had unlimited funds I would do more, I like to explore the history of the places we travel to.

Annie: Traveling, learning the history! Amazing hobby..especially for authors! Often makes for great novels. (Hint, Hint)


Lastly, Do you prefer Print Book or eBook?? Audible?

Each of these have their place for me. I prefer holding a print book and I have stacks of books on shelves and tables to prove it. But eBooks are great, especially for traveling. I used to listen to books only when I would be driving but now I find myself listening when I’m cooking dinner. How else could I be reading three books at the same time?!

0B6BB037-C5CA-4CC3-B39B-1606DE58FE0B
Intro: Colleen and Miguel were married for five days when they moved into the home Miguel had found for them.
Trailer pic: “Oh my God.” Colleen clapped her hand to her mouth. “You’ve got to be kidding. It’s turquoise! It has porthole windows! Does it float too?”

 

 

944FFBC7-D314-442B-8255-19D062848D7A
Intro: Colleen taught in a segregated black school. Each Saturday she took four of her students to the library to get library cards. She had just dropped the children off at their homes and was stopped by a police officer.
Road pic: “Officer, did I do something wrong?”
“Well now, that depends. Why would a white woman be out driving in these parts?”

 

Annie: Congratulations Eileen on your New Release today! I know “Freedom Lessons” is going to be an amazing story for so many to read. Thank you for telling it! I appreciate you taking the time for this interview today. Learning more about you and  your story has been amazing!

GIVEAWAY:  PRINT COPY OF BOOK AND BOOK CLUB SWAG PACK WHICH INCLUDES CD OF MUSIC, BOOKMARKS, AND RECIPES THAT CONNECT TO THE BOOK.

TO ENTER PLEASE LEAVE COMMENT BY 9PM FRIDAY.  THANK YOU.

#BookTour, #BookReview, #AuthorSpotlight, & #Giveaway: More Than by Diane Barnes

1798C4E2-9668-4819-B9C2-F2968E715622Reviewer: Serena Soape

Release Date: October 29, 2019

 Summary:

“You are obese, Mrs. Moriarty.”
Peggy Moriarty is stunned. She knows she’s let herself go a bit, but she thinks her young, skinny doctor is exaggerating. Her husband’s death fourteen years ago left her to raise their twins, Grace and Greg, alone. But now that they’re teenagers, doing their own things, her only hobby is watching Messages from Beyond, a show about a medium who connects the grieving with their deceased loved ones.

When the twins leave for college, they give Peggy a gift certificate for an exercise class. At first, Peggy is insulted. But once the sting wears off, she realizes if she gets in shape, she might gain the confidence she needs to go on her favorite TV show and talk to her husband one last time.

With help from her new friends at the gym and Carmen Tavarez, the mother of Grace’s boyfriend, Peggy begins to emerge from her prolonged grief and spread her wings. She may soon discover that her sum is more than a mother,
a widow, and her body.

E81DD5F0-BE71-41C4-AE30-757C884CD07AReview:

Diane Barnes has written “More Than” about Peggy and her life starting when the doctor tells her that she is obese. It’s all the unbelievable result of sadness.

The story definitely kept my interest right from the start and was hard to put down!!! I loved the characters and how they all interacted with Peggy.  Peggy’s various circles were all rather entertaining, whether it was at boot camp with her friends home. I just enjoyed everybody.

Peggy’s story is one that would definitely be relatable to so many people that struggle with the same issues that Peggy has. But it’s “More Than” that!! It’s about resilience and pushing through! Peggy’s perseverance through Boot Camp, which she did more than once; was inspiring.

I found myself wanting to get back into exercising after reading this book. Now that should tell you something!

This was my first book for Diane Barnes, but definitely see more in my future.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

 

4 Stars.

8D27A1BF-B88F-4111-898B-499110E4672A
Author Spotlight:

Writer, Reader, Ridiculous Amount
of Chocolate Eater. 

How many people get to do what they love? Since I was old enough to hold a pencil, I’ve loved writing. Today, I’m fortunate enough to have two careers that give me the opportunity to write. By day, I write marketing copy and corporate communications for a company in the healthcare market. After hours I pen fiction.  I’m also a voracious reader and can sit for hours, preferably on a beach or by a pool, devouring good books.

I live outside of Boston with my husband. I don’t talk like a Bostonian, but some people still detect Southern California in my accent from the years I lived there. When I’m not writing or reading, I’m at the gym, running, or playing tennis, trying to burn off the ridiculous amounts of chocolate and ice cream I eat.

 

Follow Diane:

Website: https://www.dianembarnes.com/   Instagram:  @DianeBarnes777


GIVEAWAY –    3 eBooks. Just leave a comment that you’d like a copy  and that you’ll post a review. Giveaway Closes on Friday, November 1st, 2019.

#AuthorInterview: Carla Vergot author Of Lily Barlow: The Mystery of Jane Dough

Carla Vergot is a one cool chick!! She was easy to talk with and she opened up about some very personal things in her life during her interview. Her character Lily is very quirky and I had a lot of fun chatting about that with Carla! I loved everything that made Lily quirky, but I will save that for my review. 😀📚

What I will tell you is that you will learn a few “Truths” about Carla (we played a game)…And more about how personal the writing of this book truly was to her, I didn’t even know that!! Life really does work in mysterious ways. For Carla, life truly was a beautiful gift and so was this book.

We had quite a few laughs. It was just like her book. She makes you laugh!! And, you know how much I love to laugh..haha!

To know more about her and her books, you won’t want to miss her interview.

Keep in touch with Carla Vergot:

Be Sure to Like/Follow Pages and add her Books tp your TBR Lists.

Website:

https://carlavergot.com

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/carla_vergot/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/carla.vergot.1

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18108684.Carla_Vergot

BookBub:

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/carla-vergot

Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Carla-Vergot/e/B07DFBZ99Q?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2&qid=1566641217&sr=8-2

Please check out some of Carla’s writing here…truly emotional:

https://piedmontvirginian.com/the-victory-garden/

Where I purchased her Book:

Second Chapter Books

Middleburg, VA

540-687-7016

Tell Carla you are making the purchase and she will try to go down to the bookstore and sign the book for you 😉

#AuthorInterview: Samantha March author of “The Six: Scarlett”

Meeting with Samantha March was such an honor because I used to be one of her Associate Book Reviewers. What a fun reunion this was! This interview was informative about her books and very personal about Samantha’s relationship with her stories. It truly was beautiful! She is a joy to listen to! Watch the interview to get her perspective on her novels; it’s so much different than reading the summary in Amazon or Goodreads.

She was always so very talented and uber motivated. Her books are definitely stories that need to be added to your TBR List! Check out all eight and which ones are right for you. I am sure you will find you won’t know which one to read first; because you’ll be adding most, if not all.

I’ll be sharing the flashback reviews of the books I did read, so you can check those out; “A Questionable Friendship” and “Up to I Do”.

Follow her Blog/YouTube Channel for advice on Books and Beauty! You will fall in love with Samantha!!

💞📚To keep in contact with Samantha March 📚💞

Be sure to follow her in all Platforms so that you don’t miss out on anything!

http://chicklitplus.com

Instagram-

https://www.instagram.com/marchbeautyword/

Twitter-

https://mobile.twitter.com/search?q=Samantha%20March&src=typed_query

Amazon-

https://www.amazon.com/Samantha-March/e/B005ZWOGJY?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1565680778&sr=8-1

Goodreads-

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5287274.Samantha_March?from_search=true

BookBub-

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/samantha-march

#AuthorSpotlight: Sandra Block

Sandra BlockThis Friday my interview with Sandra Block will go live along with a chance to win a copy of each of her books!  Be sure to check back daily for more information about this outstanding author!

Sandra A. Block graduated from college at Harvard, then returned to her native land of Buffalo, New York for medical training and never left. She is a practicing neurologist and proud Sabres fan, and lives at home with her husband, two children, and impetuous yellow lab Delilah. She has been published in both medical and poetry journals. “The Girl Without a Name” is her second Zoe Goldman novel. Her debut was “Little Black Lies.”

#AuthorSpotlight ~ Barbara Hinske

Barbara HinskeThis week we will be meeting Barbara Hinske! Her Interview and Giveaway will be posted on Friday! I will introduce you to all of her books, as well as my review of “Coming to Rosemont”!!!

Be sure to check back every day for new and exciting information!

Author Bio:

Barbara Hinske is a BookBub Bestselling Author. She is an attorney by day; novelist by night. Barb inherited the writing gene from her father who wrote mysteries when he retired and told her a story every night of her childhood. She and her husband share their own Rosemont with two adorable and spoiled dogs. The old house keeps her husband busy with repair projects and her happily decorating, entertaining, cooking, and gardening. Together they have four grown children.

#AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT ~ Here is a little teaser about Tina Ann Forkner!

Full interview going live on Friday! and, a Giveaway you won’t want to miss!

Tina Ann Forkner is a Women’s Fiction Writer. She lives a Northern life, but has a Southern heart. She is the author of WAKING UP JOY, RUBY AMONG US, and ROSE HOUSE. A substitute teacher, she was born and raised in Oklahoma and now lives in Wyoming with her husband and family.

Tina’s Novel, WAKING UP JOY, is a 2015 HOLT Award of Merit Recipent – Romantic Elements.
Waking Up JoyRose HouseRuby Among Us

Here are some review quotes:

“A wonderfully-paced weave of compelling characters dealing with buried secrets and second chances within the framework of a flawed but fascinating family. Tina Forkner is an insightful, engaging storyteller. If you’re a fan of Jodi Picoult, you won’t be disappointed.” ~ Susan Meissner Author of A Fall of Marigolds

“Tina Ann Forkner takes us on a hilarious yet emotionally demanding adventure in Waking Up Joy. The free-spirited Joy has an unforgettable voice that puts us solidly on her side, no matter how unconventional her choices. Waking Up Joy is a rollicking ride.” ~ Susan Schoenberger, Author of The Virtues of Oxygen

“Tina Ann Forkner has created a remarkable cast of characters in the Talleys. The wit, wisdom, humor, and real-life escapades of Joy will keep the reader guessing and turning pages to the satisfying conclusion. Thoroughly captivating!” ~ Chris Fabry, award-winning author of June Bug

“A refreshingly candid look at the ties that bind. From dark secrets and magic charms to deep faith and a touch of romance, Tina Forkner’s Waking Up Joy will enchant you with its lively prose and heartfelt humor. It’s a mesmerizing tale of the Talley family, and you’re sure to fall in love with them as I did. Bravo, Tina!” ~ Carla Stewart, award-winning author of Stardust and The Hatmaker’s Heart

“Tina Forkner’s characters are well-drawn, her story setting a place we all know, and her storyline one that can’t help but change us. Reading Forkner feels like coming home.” ~ Gina Holmes, award-winning author of Wings of Glass

“Unique, captivating writing that made me eager to turn each page. Tina’s humor and dialogue makes this novel a treat to read.” ~ Alice J. Wisler, Award-winning author of Rain Song and How Sweet It Is

“Tina Forkner has penned a delightful novel, a heartfelt story filled with quirky characters, family secrets and lost love. This book is another example of why Ms. Forkner remains a reader favorite. She’s definitely one of mine!” ~Kellie Coates Gilbert, author of Woman of Fortune

“Reading is a passion of mine, and when I find myself identifying with the characters, anxious to get to the next page to find answers to my questions, I know I’m into a good book! The daughter-mother-grandmother theme in Ruby Among Us pulled me in. Wonderful story-telling.” -JORDIN SPARKS, Music Artist & 2007 American Idol Winner.

“A skillfully written, moving tale of women (and their men) who find that love covers a multitude of sins. Tina Ann Forkner weaves this story together with great detail and, like the quilts that are such an integral part of the novel, pieces it together with beautiful results.” -DEBBIE SMITH, songwriter with her husband, Michael W. Smith