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Author Don Bentley, Interview (conclusion)

Q. What makes a writer great?

DB. I don’t know that I’m qualified to answer that question, so I’m going to quote my fantastic editor, Tom Colgan, instead. Tom once told me that the difference between a good writer and a great writer is that a great writer is not content to write the same book twice. According to Tom, a great writer will always push himself to do something different and bigger each time they write, and I think that’s true.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

DB. I try to write my first draft as quickly as possible, but it inevitably takes longer than I want. In an effort to make the process more streamlined, I keep each POV as a separate word file until I’m completely done with the first draft as I’ve found this saves me quite a few headaches when I invariably move scenes around or cut them completely. Once the first draft is complete, I write out each scene on index cards and then arrange them using the Save the Cat beats as organizing tools. This is my first look at the completed novel, and I’ve found it’s a great way to ensure that I’ve hit the inflection points necessary for each Act in the Three Act structure. Once I’ve satisfied with the story’s layout, I’ll go back and begin editing in earnest. In my first pass or two, I’m concentrating mainly on plot weakness or other structural errors. In my final edits I focus more on language and the narrative flow.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

DB. As a former Army Apache helicopter pilot and FBI Special Agent, I’ve been lucky enough to do some pretty interesting things. Since I write espionage/military thrillers, I draw extensively from both my background and the incredible people I’ve had the fortune of meeting and befriending. During a radio interview for WITHOUT SANCTION, my first Matt Drake thriller, the interviewer asked me if I was Matt Drake. I assured her that I was not, but I also told her that I’d stood in the same room with Matt a time or two. Once you’ve had the pleasure of spending time in the company of heroes, you can’t help but come away a different person.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

DB. That’s a tough one right now. I’m in the middle of transitioning from working a day job to writing full time, but until then, I work every single day. It’s a bit of a slog, but I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be writing a book in two different series. When I’m not working, I love to workout, go to concerts with my wife, and hang out with my kids.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre?

DB. I’m a huge fantasy fan, particularly epic and urban. The first two novels I attempted to write were both fantasy, and I still dabble in that genre from time to time. If my schedule ever allows, I’d love to take another shot at writing my take on urban fantasy.

Q. Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

DB. To progress as a writer, you have to do two things: get better at your craft and refuse to give up.

Did my readers miss the other parts of this wonderful INTERVIEW with Don Bentley
BTW:  Thank you for your service to our country, Don, and Happy Independence Day!!
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, July: Veronica Henry.
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BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

 

Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy~Interview (part 3)

Don Bentley

Tom Clancy

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

DB. There are times when the words seem to fly from my keyboard onto the screen, but if I’m being honest, these instances are few and far between. Writing is work. Hard work. And while I enjoy writing, there are certainly aspects of it that I detest. First drafts are especially hard and, and are most often the times when I berate myself for not choosing an easier profession. Like rocket science! But writing also has some magical phases like writing the second draft. For me, that’s when the story comes alive as you untangle the narrative, build on themes you didn’t even realize you were there, and give that secondary character the starring role they deserve. This is when writing becomes fun, but to get there, you have to slog through the tediousness of the first draft.

Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up? If so tell us about it.

DB. Yes to both! TARGET ACQUIRED, my first entry in the Tom Clancy Jack Ryan, Junior series comes out on 8 June 2021. I read my first Tom Clancy book when I was thirteen or fourteen, and he was my introduction to the military thriller genre. The notion that, thirty years later, I get to write in the universe he created really is incredible. In addition to my Tom Clancy book, I have my own thriller series starring Defense Intelligence Agency case officer, Matt Drake. I’m currently writing HOSTILE INTENT which is the third book in this series. It will be released in May 2022.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

DB. I decided to take my writing seriously in late 2001 when I signed up for a series of online classes from Writer’s Digest Magazine. These classes helped provide a foundational understanding of the process of crafting a novel which I was sorely lacking. I then went on to write two more novels, each of which was strong enough to garner an agent, but not good enough to sell to a publisher. I then decided I must still have more to learn about my craft before I could be commercially successful, so I enrolled in the Seton Hill MFA program. This is a low residency program unabashedly geared toward writers who want to sell commercially viable genre fiction. I wrote my third novel as part of this program, but this one didn’t sell either. About this time, I was starting to wonder whether or not I was ever going to make it as a writer. Thankfully, I had the great fortune to meet Nick Petrie, author of the Peter Ash series, at the ThrillerFest writing conference in New York. Nick was kind enough to listen to my tale of woe, but he did more than listen. After sharing that he also wrote three books that didn’t sell before writing his fourth that did, he told me to go home, quit sulking, and write my fourth book. So I did. That book became WITHOUT SANCTION which my agent, Barbara Poelle, sold in a two book deal in 2018. Fast forward three years, and I’m now writing my third book in that series as well as poking around in the Tom Clancy Universe. To quote Nick, I guess the moral of the story is quit sulking and write your book!

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

DB. I don’t. I think there’s something tactile about paper books that people love.

Did you miss Part 1 or Part 2 of our Interview with Don?
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, July: Veronica Henry.
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BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

 

 

 

Interview with author, Don Bentley, writing as Tom Clancy

Don Bentley is the author of the Matt Drake thriller series including WITHOUT SANCTION, THE OUTSIDE MAN, and two forth coming titles, as well as Tom Clancy’s TARGET ACQUIRED, a Jack Ryan, Jr. novel. Don spent a decade as an Army Apache helicopter pilot including a combat deployment to Afghanistan as an Air Cavalry Troop Commander. Following his time in the military, Don worked as an FBI special agent and was a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team member. 

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing?  Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

DB. I’m lucky enough to have a spare bedroom that doubles as my home officer. It’s filled with memorabilia from my days in the Army and the FBI and is a really fun place to work. Hanging on the wall above my computer monitor is the framed acceptance letter for the first short story I ever sold back in 2001. I have to say that never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be writing a Tom Clancy novel twenty years later!

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

DB. Coffee. Lots and lots of coffee! I also take a ton of research and plot notes while I write. One of my friends gave me a leather bound portable notebook from Saddleback Leather Company as a gift at the book launch party for WITHOUT SANCTION, the first book in my Matt Drake series. I absolutely love it. I can take it with me anywhere, the leather exterior wraps around replaceable notebooks, and I use a different notebook for each novel. As far as writing tools go, the Pilot G-2 #10 is the best pen every created. Period!

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

DB. My wife and I are high school sweethearts, and we’ve moved 16 times in the 23 years we’ve been married. We spent about half of my 10 years in the Army living overseas, and we traveled extensively. She and I dove on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and our kids have been sled riding in the foothills of the Alps in Austria. Our life really has been an adventure, and I’m so grateful I get to spend it with her.

Q. What tools do you begin with? Legal pad, spiral notebook, pencils, fountain pen, or do you go right to your keyboard?

DB. I usually begin with a sense of terror that another book is due, and I don’t feel prepared to write it. But I don’t think that’s what you were asking! Before I start writing, I normally take a lot of notes in the notebook I mentioned before or a yellow legal pad. I wrote down things like plot summaries, questions I have, motivations, important research tidbits, etc. Then I hit the keyboard. Many of my books have multiple POVs and I keep each of these as separate word files until I’m done with the first draft and ready to figure out the scene sequence. I usually try to start a writing session with an overview of where the scene needs to go with a focus on goal, motivation, and conflict. Then it’s time to pound the keyboard!

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

DB. Until very recently I was still working a day job in addition to writing. Because of this, I had to be very intentional about my writing time. On weekdays, I would get up at five and write for an hour or so before work and then again for an hour or so at the end of the day before bed. On the weekends, I would spend most of each day Saturday and Sunday writing. Now that I’ve transitioned into writing full time, I still do two writing sessions a day but they are now morning and then early afternoon after my workout. I’ve found that it feels less intimidating to break my daily word goal into two more easily achieved chunks rather than trying to crank them all out in one sitting.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

Enjoy Part 2 of this Interview  June 25th

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy.
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BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

 

 

Book Review ~~ the stepsisters by Susan Mallery

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    4 out of 5 quills   ~~  A Book Review 

Susan Mallery delivers again. This author can do no wrong.
Families are complicated on any given day and certainly even more so when dads marry again and create a brand new stepsister for their daughter. Sometimes expectations are high; amidst the ruble of a divorce, sometimes girls long for the connection of a new sibling. Sage is lovely and graceful and popular; Daisy is not.  Sage didn’t have Daisy’s smarts.  Threatened by this, Sage put Daisy down at every opportunity.  Daisy was crushed by Sage’s hostility. So went the teenage years. Then Daisy did the unforgivable; she falls for and marries Sage’s first time love. Heartbroken, Sage can’t flee fast enough.  

Almost two decades later the now-grown women are thrown together again. But they must put aside all of their history for a familial common cause. 

 Another great story filled with human foibles. Well drawn characters who the reader will like to hate or stand up and cheer for.  I highly recommend this book to my readers. 

Did you miss my interview with Susan Mallery? 

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy.
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BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

Interview with Jenny Colgan, Writer (part 3)

Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up? If so tell us about it.

JC. Yup, I have a full slate. I am working on a new Mure book for next summer, An Island Wedding, then coming out in June 2021 is Sunrise, a new Little Beach Street Bakery novel. And in October A Christmas Bookshop is coming out, which is set in Edinburgh and I really hope people are going to love it. We had so much snow in Edinburgh this winter and it just looked gorgeous so I wrote throughout the winter. And if we can pop it into the schedule, there’s a fourth boarding school book ready to go.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

JC. I have always written seriously. Seven-ish or so?

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

JC. No, but I am quite old. I think everything shook down; some people, like me, adore their kindles and the flexibility of carrying a library at your fingertips, some people tried it and went straight back to paper books. So it’s kind of balanced out.

Find the Dog!

Q. What makes a writer great?

JC. Well, I would consider myself a very decent writer, as are most professionals. There are barely any greats. The ones that are… I suppose they somehow touch on something in the human condition that is common to all of us, that immediately helps us understand the state of being human better.

Fairy tale home

I would say A Tale of Two Cities teaches us more about the ability of a human being to sacrifice themselves for others better, and certainly more entertainingly, than any science course, psychology textbook, survey or questionnaire ever devised. Pride and Prejudice has the plot of Cinderella yet somehow, at its essence, cracks the nut of what it is to fall in love better than anything else ever has. CS Lewis presented a world of wonder, of awe, to countless millions of children. To find inside one writer an entire world is an extraordinary- and crushingly rare.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

JC. Two hundred cups of coffee.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

JC. Oh, hugely. The Mure novels came out of me having to move back to Scotland when my mother was dying; you can really

Another fav of mine…and it’s a trilogy!

see it in the first one. I started writing lots of children in my books when I had my own children and realised that people often write children very badly, make them sassy little know it alls, rather than the adorably curious drunks most small kids behave like all the time.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

Princess daughter

JC. Piano playing, reading watching Buffy with my two youngest- we’re going through everything, we did Lost through lockdown, and Merlin, but Buffy is the big obsession at the moment. My husband is a mean bb-quer. We have been locked down for so long though, I cannot wait to reclaim all the stuff I used to love- I absolutely adore a party, a book festival, a big get together of friends and writers, travelling to new places. All of that stuff. I like most things.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

JC. I do, I write sci fi as Jenny T. Colgan. I don’t really believe in genre but it helps publishers know where to put you.

Q. Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

Nobody is ever thinking about you, they’re obsessing about their own shit, like ALL DAY. So get on and do whatever the hell it is you want to do, nobody gives a rat’s ass.

Did you miss the beginning of this Interview?
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy.
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

Book Review ~~ Pay Back by Robert B. Parker (nes’ Mike Lupica)

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing5 out of 5 quills ~~  BOOK REVIEW

Flawless writing and plot. Sunny Randle, PI is like a horse fly.  No frills and tenacious.  Not unlike the fly, Sunny looks for a patch of unprotected skin and then she stings. It hurts like hell.

Mike Lupica is a maestro when writing in Robert B. Parker’s voice. In this new Sunny Randall murder mystery the whole gang has returned (I love when that happens.)   Jesse Stone, Richie Burke, Tony Marcus, Frank Bilson, Susan Silverman, Tie bop and all the rest. Sadly, Hawk was out of town. 
Robert B. Parker’s wonderful tales live on.   I highly recommend the book to the fans of Robert B. Parker, old and new. This collection of authors writing in Parker’s voice keeps his work alive and fresh. 

Did you miss my Interview with Mike? It’s great reading. He’s a fascinating guy. 
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy.
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

 

Interview with author, Jenny Colgan (part 2)

TS.  As my readers know, I am (1) a voracious reader and (2) always looking for new (to me) authors. My first exposure to Jenny was
The Cafe by the Sea. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t certain that I would continue to buy her books. So quirky; I hadn’t before  heard this particular ‘voice’ in an author.  15 books (and counting) later, I admit to being a girl-fan.  I love her stories! The characters are real people trying to stumble through life, as we all are, as best we can. So imagine my joy when this prolific and busy author agreed to be interviewed. And she was so generous with her answers! 

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

JC. You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to. Lots of people think they’d like to be writers, but then just can’t get it done, and you know what, that’s fine, that’s okay, go do something else, don’t make yourself miserable. I wanted to be a stand up comedian, but I hated every single second of being onstage, and I realized I just wanted to call myself a stand up, I didn’t actually want to do the work. That’s fine. There’s plenty of books out there already, there’s absolutely no need to do it if you don’t want to, so find something else fun to do.

If you really want to, you’ll set your wordcount in your head, even if it’s only 500 words a day, and you’ll do it. Somehow. They never have to be your best words, they don’t even have to be any good. All that kind of stuff you fix in the edit. Your first draft you just have to find the momentum to get 1000 words down every day for 80 days, then look at what you have at the end.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

Husband, Andrew

JC. All over the place. Sometimes bits and pieces of people I’ve met, sometimes I just start them off and see. I’m writing a character now who is very beautiful. I wanted them to be difficult and impossible, but actually that didn’t work at all.

What turned out to be much more interesting are normal people’s reactions to someone who is extremely beautiful. It isn’t her fault at all; other people just become really weird around her when she’s in the room, and her experience of life is different from most people’s. So, they develop as you go. I worked with a scientist last year- I don’t usually meet a lot of scientists in my line of work- and he never said anything unless he knew it was absolutely a fact, the case. You could see the gears working in his brain every time he was asked for an opinion on anything. And I thought, that’s interesting, and wrote a character (who isn’t based on my colleague at all) who has that kind of rigorous thought process.

Q. What tools do you begin with? (from last week)

Sketch of Mure

JC. Sometimes I like to sketch my characters to get a view for what they look like and what they’re doing. If I’m a bit stuck, I’ll start drawing…..

Q. What first inspired you to write?

JC. Oh I was just a massive bookworm. Writing books is the closest you get to reading books your entire life. I write the kind of books I absolutely love reading and if I can’t find a book I want- eg a series for adults set amongst teachers in a boarding school- I just go write it myself.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

JC. The situation, generally. ‘What if you were a refugee and posted to a remote Scottish island?’ ‘What if you lost everything and could only get a really lowly job in a bakery?’ ‘What if you met an alien?’. Things I think might be interesting.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

Another favorite

JC. Yeah, sometimes. Generally near the end of something. Not always, and it doesn’t have a huge effect on the work, really, I mean I don’t think the reader could tell the points where I’ve got very obsessed with it, but sometimes I get completely wrapped up in them and can’t think about anything else. My husband can always tell. 🙂

Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up? If so tell us about it.

Did you miss Part 1 of this in-depth interview?

Don’t Miss part 3 of this spectacular Interview with Jenny. Coming May 21st. 
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy.
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Research Can Unearth Some Surprises!

Nazi codes in the hem of a dress?

After reading Susan Elia MacNeal’s Mr. Churchill’s Secretary I was inspired to write a short play about Winston Churchill and hisChurchills.Cat.BookCoverImage cat, Nelson.   Ms. MacNeal referred, in passing, to Mr. Churchill’s pets being allowed free rein to wander the war rooms at #10 Downing Street during Churchill’s time in office.  I could clearly see  the rotund, shambling figure of the Prime Minister with two pugs yapping at his heels while Admiral Nelson, the cat, sat high atop a side table. Silently observing his human and the general hysteria of the dogs.

Churchill was a master not only in crafting the English sentence but also in the coinage of words.  His tongue-in-cheek comment:  “A fanatic is one who won’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.” is a favorite of mine.  In a World War I speech, (1914) Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty coined the phase ‘business as usual’.  Saying the maxim of the British people is “business as usual.”  Churchill gave the world the phrase: “Iron Curtain” in his speech in Missouri in 1946 when he said, “…..an iron curtain has descended across the continent.”

Having grown up during the post-war years, I knew something of Mr. Churchill.  A historic figure that was a great statesman, orator and leader.  But I really knew nothing of the man.  And once again, (as I have mentioned before) I began a project and then started my research.

Mr. Churchill’s Secretary, (which I highly recommend) is fiction but based in fact.  Ms. MacNeal was fortunate enough to have several interviews with Churchill’s private secretary before her death.  The book is about a ‘typist’ who was relegated to a menial job because of her gender.  She was actually educated in mathematics and cryptology and could easily have fitted in with MI-Five (British CIA) but for her being a woman.  The novel’s heroine, Maggie, saves the Prime Minister from certain death by breaking a Nazi code.  And this brings me to the fashion advert that actually ran in the London Times and was full of Nazi messages.  All the stitching (around sleeves and hem) was Morse code for attacks at #10 Downing and St. Paul’s cathedral. 

“German spies hid secret messages in drawings of models wearing the latest fashions in an attempt to outwit Allied censors during World War Two, according to British security service files. Nazi agents relayed sensitive military information using the dots and dashes of Morse code incorporated in the drawings. They posted the letters to their handlers, hoping that counter-espionage experts would be fooled by the seemingly innocent pictures. But British secret service officials were aware of the ruse and issued censors with a code-breaking guide to intercept them.”  (actual advert from the London Times).

If not for my love of reading, my passion for writing, and the need for research, I would never have delved into Churchill’s life and his time in office. (my interests don’t generally take that path).  It’s an unexpected delight to learn more about this amazing statesman.  He was quirky, irritable, brilliant, and very funny.

And all because I had begun writing a short play about Mr. Churchill and his cat!  I love when that happens!!

(Originally published 2013)
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan
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Book Review~~Picnic in Someday Valley

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4 out of 5 quills   

Author, Jodi Thomas, never lets her readers down. This sequel to the Honey Creek series is a satisfying read, re-visiting Someday Valley and the strong characters that Jodi Thomas has drawn. Pecos and Brand being my favorites in this new one.  

The readers get to return to Honey Creek and Someday Valley, two small towns in Texas. While set in current times, there’s still a flavor of the old west and small town closeness and politics that you cannot escape from to this day.  The story is rich in twists and turns with vibrant, quirky characters.

I highly recommend it to my readers. 

Did you miss the wonderful interview we did with this author? 

Coming Soon! (Oct. 2021, Book 3 Honey Creek series)

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!     December: Lauren Willig, January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg
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Book Review ~~ Band of Sisters

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing                                5 out of 5 quills                         BOOK REVIEW

This is an exceptional, sweeping saga about a group of women, all alumni of Smith College, who volunteered to go to Europe to assist the ravaged French villages during World War I.  What is extraordinary is, if an event happened in this book, it happened in real life. Based on old documents and letters, the new Smith College Relief Unit, composed of women from all walks of life, signed up for six months to try and assist villagers who were devastated by the war raging across Europe. They were later to be affectionately known as ‘the Smithies’. 

Their careers in social work, medicine, teaching couldn’t prepare them for the conditions they found when they disembarked from a train from Paris onto the muddy track leading to the village, Gricourt. The village existed hand in glove with an always changing ‘front line’ of battle between the Allied Forces and the German juggernaut.

Each woman’s life is showcased with beautiful writing from this author, Lauren Willig.  Sometimes novels that are based heavily on actual historical events slip into being dry and dusty reading.  It never happened in this novel, I am happy to report.
A real page turner to the end. A beautiful book of prose and an exciting, action-filled, story.  

Released March 21st
Did you miss my INTERVIEW with Lauren Willig?
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    November: Ella Quinn, December: Lauren Willig,
January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica  March: Lee Matthew Goldberg
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