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A New Author, A Fine Book, A Season for Second Chances

 

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A few weeks ago Jenny Bayliss’ publisher requested a book review from me.  I tend to shy away from unknown (to me) authors out of fear of having to write a bad review since my mission is to support and uplift all other writers. But the synopsis intrigued me so I accepted the invitation. And…

…might have missed enjoying a really good book. The writing is superb, the story line rich with detail, the characters charming and engaging. The little surprises of humor had me chuckling and spurting an outright laugh (once in awhile) at the clever writing.  The humor is honest and handled with a light hand. 

The story speaks to most women who have faced at least a couple of forks in the road of life.  I could really relate to Annie’s long marriage fizzling out. The abrupt loss of husband and children. What do we do with ourselves? Is this our ‘chance’ to live a life we’ve only dreamed of?  Try some things that we were discouraged to try in our previous (and safe) life? 

I love it when a place becomes a character in the book.  And Saltwater Nook certainly did that! 

Half way through the book I hurried to order Bayliss’ debut novel, The Twelve Dates of Christmas. Which, by the way, has received rave reviews.  This is a very talented writer and I hope she continues to crank out the wonderful stories.

Available for sale October 19th. 
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary.
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Glowing Review Bestowed on Emma and the Lady Aardvarks

‘ Trisha Sugarek’s Emma and the Lady Aardvarks is both whimsical and thought-provoking and will delight and attract fiction and nonfiction young readers alike, as a new mandate to save the planet emerges.  A time travel adventure about climate change and a mystical forest that features sister Aardvarks, who arrive in the mystical forest quite by accident when their time travel adventure goes awry.

Emma and the Lady Aardvarks adds another book to Trisha Sugarek’s Fabled Forest series for advanced elementary to early middle grade readers. The aardvarks meet friendly elves, fairies, farm girl Emma, and a host of creatures who inhabit a rare habitat, indeed. Annie is the shy one. Her braver sister Agnes has always protected her young sister, but even she quakes at the strange creatures and dialogues that emerge at the beginning of their new adventure.

Trisha Sugarek’s dialogue and setting is anything but predictable, from a Spanish-speaking spider to a host of characters who greet the skittish sisters Aardvarks: “Patsy, where are your manners?” Donald strolled over to Patsy. “Everyone is welcome in the fabled forest, as long as they come in peace.” “Dios mio, how do we know they come in peace, pequeño? Se ven como bandidos!” Donald laughed, “No they are not bandits, Patsy. Don’t be silly.”

Colorful drawings bring the forest and its creatures to life as Sugarek spins a colorful yarn, from a magical portal that discharges a posse of puppies to the injection of facts about extinction, global warming, and threats to wildlife. While Sugarek’s Fabled Forest milieu has been explored previously in five prior adventures, it should be noted that newcomers need have no prior familiarity with its creatures or history in order to appreciate this warm fantasy of a magical place and a mandate to try to stop climate change’s impact.

Young readers just past the picture book stage will find the peppering of colorful drawings a fine embellishment to a tale that weaves elements of fantasy and reality into a thought-provoking adventure.’  D. Donovan, Midwest Book Review
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary.
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BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREKfairy tales, fables, elves, fairies, running away, audio books

 

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Emma and the Lady Aardvarks ~ Now Available!

The long awaited, (next in the series) Fairie tale in the Fabled Forest series is now available.
Beautiful, original, full-color illustrations grace the pages. A must to add to every child’s personal library. 

Book #6 in the series, The Fabled Forest, is a story about climate change and endangered creatures. Two Aardvarks, Agnes and Annie, arrive in the Fabled Forest by accident. Their travel agent, Time Portals to Your Next Adventure, malfunctions and instead of Australia, they are plopped down in Cheets’ clearing in the forest. Here they meet Donald, the fairie, Cheets, the elf, Emma, the farm-girl and all the creatures that inhabit the fabled, mystical forest.

Sisters, Agnes and Annie are so ugly they’re cute. With their jaunty hats atop their weird heads, with their rabbit-like ears and short elephant type snouts, Emma and Donald are entranced. They set about helping the two aardvarks to complete their trip to Australia while helping other endangered species.

The Aardvarks and the Painted Wild Dogs are endangered species and it is a dangerous lifestyle. In this fable children learn more about climate change wiping out habitat and about other endangered species and how we humans can protect them.

Available on Amazon.com or your favorite book store. 
Also available in a children’s play 

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary.
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Book Review ~~ An Irish Country Welcome

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing5 out of 5 quills

An Irish Country Welcome by Patrick Taylor

Publishers Weekly says, “Taylor is a bang-up storyteller who captivates and entertains from the first word.”  I agree that Taylor is a wonderful story-teller who definitely ‘captivates’. From the first word….not so much. I really am a fan of the Irish Country series (have read every one of them) but I found this particular one in the series a bit of a slow starter.  But, in all fairness, on about page 30, it really took off. 

The story line is impeccable. To get the most enjoyment, and there’s plenty to be had, I highly recommend that the reader start with book #1.  The story thread and characters are so strong that reading the series in its proper sequence is a must.

An Irish Country Welcome contains all of the previous characters from the village of Ballybucklebo. Readers continue to follow Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly on his rounds, in his surgery (doctor’s office) and in his personal life.  Doctor Barry Laverty is by his side, as a full partner in the practice. Nicely settled, married and soon to be a father. 

Taylor introduces new characters with each book, so seamlessly that the reader will take great joy in meeting them. There are bits of dry, Irish humor along the way. Just enough personal strife to keep things jumping. On a larger scale, the Catholic and Protestant ‘troubles’ have flared up throughout the country and is threatening to disturb the peace of this small village. 

Did you miss my Interview with Patrick Taylor?
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry and October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan.
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Book Review ~ Mike Lupica’s Stone’s Throw

 

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5 out of 5 quills

Mike Lupica writes so well  in Robert B. Parker’s voice that you immediately feel you’re driving your rental car up the main street of Paradise Massachusetts. You drive towards the beach, park, and walk up the path to a piece of land that’s called The Throw. It reveals some of the most beautiful views of the Atlantic ocean on the East Coast . After you get your fix from the ocean views you drive over to the local police station to say hello to your friend and deputy chief, Molly Crane. Chief Jesse Stone and Molly are  working a case. The beloved (by everyone) mayor of this small town has….. (Opps! Almost gave it away). 

One of my favorite characters, Crow, returns in this story. If you’re a fan of Robert B. Parker’s (and Mike Lupica’s) I don’t need to elaborate. If you’re not, well….you should be.  The plot twists and turns and surprises the reader with a page turning cop/murder mystery. 

Right up to, literally, the last page. SURPRISE!  Thanks, Mike!  

The writing is just as excellent as the rest of Mike Lupica’s work. Mike writes all of the Jesse stone and Sunny Randall murder mysteries for the Parker estate so we can look forward to more from this fine writer. 

Did you catch my Interview with Mike Lupica

Release date: September 6th
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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, August: Veronica Henry and October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monohan.
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New Release ~ Creative Writers’ Journal and “How To”

Bigger and better.  Revision 2021 newly released Journal/Handbook.

How To Begin To Write
How to Create interesting Characters
How To Write Fiction
How To Write a Stage Play
How To Write Poetry
How To Write Haiku Poetry

275+ lined, blank pages for your writings.  Each page with an inspiring famous quote from actors, authors, playwrights, poets. 

Review:  Midwest Book Review 

“Creative Writers’ Journal and Handbook begins where so many writer’s guides should: with the basics of how to pursue a dream job as a writer. The problem with most writers’ guides is that they assume some prior degree of excellence or experience; but this handbook poses something different: the opportunity to begin with no prior skill level or experience. All that’s needed is the desire and passion to be a writer, and everything flows from there.
So if you ‘scribble’, if you like words, if your stories ‘find’ you, and if you aspire to be something more (say, a published blogger); then here’s the next step in the process. From how ideas begin to how they are nurtured and written down, there to be refined until they see the light of day (i.e. other readers), this journal offers support, insight, and ideas for jump-starting the creative process and linking it to action.

White, lined journal pages offer a workbook approach that augments white space with inspirational quotes on the process from other, successful writers. So while you’re staring at the usual journal blank pages, inspiration can spark from others’ experiences and insights.
This isn’t just about prose, either: Sugarek includes sections on different formats, from Haiku Poetry to writing a stage play. Each section offers inspirational insights into format, structure, and writing challenges – then uses the journal/quote format to encourage readers to put something down on paper.
So if it’s nuggets of information spiced with the encouragement of fresh lined, white space that is needed, Creative Writers’ Journal and Handbook offers a success formula beginners can easily absorb, all packaged in a survey that assumes no prior familiarity with writing.”
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry and October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan.
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Interview with Author, Veronica Henry (part 2)

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

VH. It’s a bit like going to a party. You meet the host, and then they introduce you to all their friends. You see someone on the sidelines and think ‘Oooh they look interesting’, and then go over and have a chat. Quite often the people who seem interesting to start with turn out to be rather dull, and the quiet ones are the ones with hidden depths.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

VH. I was a total bookworm, as my father was in the army so we moved every two years, and books were my constant. And my favourite character was Jo March from Little Women. So I always loved creative writing at school. But working on the Archers was the first time I realized that everyone needs an escape in their life, to get away from reality, and that made me fall in love with storytelling and view it as a career.

One of this Interviewer’s favorites

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

VH. Usually the characters in a particular setting – I love to set my books somewhere my reader would like to be – and then I start asking myself where they are in their life. What dilemmas do they have? What would they like to change about their lives? What has just happened to them that has upset the apple cart and what are the consequences? And I ask myself where I’d like them to be – metaphorically – by the end of the book.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

VH. It goes in phases, but quite often I act out what I am imagining to myself, much to my children’s amusement. Or walking along the beach muttering away to myself, like The French Lieutenant’s Woman. I just need a black cape with a hood!

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

Henry’s view from her window

VH. My next book is called The Impulse Purchase about a 70 year old woman who buys the pub in the village she grew up in, on impulse. Her daughter and granddaughter join her to run it, and they turn it around – and change their lives in the process. It was such fun to write, especially the family dynamics. And the food!

Wonderful series

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

VH. When I became a TV script editor. I often had to rewrite parts of the scripts – often for logistical reasons – and wrote the storylines too. TV is a very hungry beast and uses up a lot of material so you have to be prolific.
                                                           *********

The conclusion August 27th
Did you miss the beginning segments of this wonderful Interview?
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Interview with British Author, Veronica Henry

As an army child, Veronica went to eight different schools, including the Royal School Bath, where she learnt Latin, how to make rock buns and how to take her bra off without getting undressed. She went on to study Classics at Bristol University, followed by a bi-lingual secretarial course – a surprisingly useful combination. Veronica started her career as a secretary on The Archers, a long running radio drama, typing scripts, then moved on to television and became a script writer. When she had her first child she jumped over the fence and became a script writer, then turned to writing novels in 2002, “as books were always my first love.”

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.

VH. Now two of my children have left home I’m lucky enough to have a dedicated office space. I have a huge desk to spread out all my papers and research and the books I’m reading. There are inevitably piles of paperwork and proofs to read and one day I will sort it all out so it is calm and organized! It has a sea view, which is great, and is very light and airy. I have to work in silence – no music, even though music is a big part of my life.

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.)

VH. The most important thing is to make sure my hair is tied up – with anything!! I can’t stand it falling into my face while I work. I have my

dog, Zelda, named after Zelda Fitzgerald, on a sheepskin rug under the desk.

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

VH. I went to school in the States for three years and had the accent to prove it! It’s faded now but I still say ‘gas’ and ‘trash’ instead of ‘petrol’ and ‘rubbish’

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

New Release

VH. I  love making notes with a black pen and a narrow feint notebook at the beginning of the process – somehow it makes me think more creatively. But then I work straight into the computer. I don’t use a special app but have recently discovered the navigation pane which really helps knowing where I am in the document.

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

VH. I’m a lark and prefer to get straight on with writing first thing, after I’ve walked the dog. My energy dips after lunch, so that’s when I go over what I’ve already written or do some light reading! I cannot work in the evening to save my life.

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

VH. Just grasp the nettle, I’m afraid. The fear is worse than the reality. We all do it, but I can’t afford to procrastinate too much. I view writing as a business. Most other professions don’t have the luxury of procrastination. Imagine your dentist faffing about before getting on with your check up!

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

Join Us For Part 2 of this Wonderful 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, August: Veronica Henry.
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The Singing Trees by Boo Walker ~ Review

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reviews, authors, writing

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing4 out of 5 quills 

I’ll admit I thought the prologue to Boo Walker’s new book (The Singing Trees) was a bit of a slow start. But I was so happy I stuck it out because it was the prologue to a wonderful story.  Walker takes us on a journey with an artist (painter), seeking her ‘voice and passion’. But that means leaving everything she has ever known and striking out on her own without an education, a job, or family to support her. Literally giving up everything for her art.  It’s difficult to write much about the story Boo tells because anything I said would very quickly turn into a spoiler alert.  And this reviewer avoids that at all costs. 

Placed in the seventies’ the story is well drawn around Viet Nam, Nixon’s corruption, the Kent State shooting and a nation in an uproar. Walker’s characters are beautifully portrayed, and, for the reader, easy to love.  

The author moved his family from the vineyards of California to Florida after writing the ‘Red Mountain‘ series . I had assumed that his next book would be set in the Sunshine state. Imagine my surprise when I found myself in Davenport, Portland, and Bangor, Maine.  It took me a minute! 

I highly recommend this story to my readers. It’s a page turner for sure and a perfect beach read for the summer.  

Did you miss my Interview with Boo Walker?
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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, August: Veronica Henry.
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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