LitWorldInterviews is now on Instagram.

I know, it’s been a long time coming. But, we’re finally on Instagram. Taking so long is another sign of how burned out I was back then. Normally I would’ve had us on there within the first months but… we’re there now.

At some point I’ll figure out how the Linktree work properly. For now, I’m putting the website post url inside the post.

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I’ll be adding some of our already existing interviews and reviews to the site as time goes by.

12 Questions with L.M. Rapp, author of Dreadful Beauty.

A girl undergoing a terrifying transformation goes on an epic quest to find a refuge from her
ruthless father.

Nymphosis, a disease that turns Humans into Chimeras, is ravaging the land of Gashom. The
More-Than-Pure, determined to protect themselves, have seized power and enacted
segregationist laws.

The daughter of a high dignitary, young Neria learns she is afflicted by the very disease her
father is determined to eradicate. Forced to surrender her privileges, she must flee her home in
the capital and traverse the strange wilds to seek refuge with her fellow kind.

Will she have the courage to fight oppression to emancipate the Chimeras from the yoke of the
More-Than-Pure?

Dreadful Beauty cover

Book available in both English and French.

12 Questions with L.M. Rapp

Which was the hardest character to write? The easiest?

None of the characters were easy to write about, but certainly the most difficult was the tyrannical father. I read three different books about serial killers before I began to understand the reasoning of a psychopath.

In your book, you describe the gargoyles’ people. What made you use elements of Gothic architecture for creating these characters?

During a visit to Notre Dame de Paris, I was able to admire the sculptures of gargoyles that adorn its facade. Their mere presence evoked a fabulous universe and served as great inspiration in my novel.

Where do you get inspiration for your stories?

The ideas seem to me to be floating around, in books, events, and encounters, and that it is enough to sit for long hours in front of a computer screen and concentrate on arranging them in a new way.

There are many books out there about chimeras. What makes yours different?

The story follows a family and a people through a tone that is both intimate and epic, which is rather unusual in this kind of literature. The plot captures the struggles of humanity through a fantasy lens, making it both digestible and thought-provoking.

If you could put yourself as a character in your book, who would you be?

I think I would like to be Matar, the Pedler. I envy his freedom and independence, despite the difficulties he faces in his life.

Do you have another profession besides writing?

I have had other professions in the past, but writing has become my main focus at the moment. I still practice and teach aikido, which actually turns out to be really useful when I write combat scenes.

What is your next project?

I will soon publish a thriller about a woman who decides, after a divorce, to take over her parents’ farm: a return to nature that does not go as planned. I also just started writing a science fiction book.

What genre do you write and why?

I choose the story first. The genre follows. I don’t force myself to create series. I think that having fun while writing increases the chances that the reader will have fun too.

How are you similar to or different from your lead character?

It’s a difficult question. I’m too close to her to tell. The similarity would be that she doesn’t give up easily. That being said, I find her more stubborn than I am.

Which authors inspired you to write?

Tolkien, Barbara Pym, Kazuo Ishiguro, Camus, Albert Cohen, Proust, Baudelaire and many others.

What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?

I hesitate between leaving France, my birth country, or having three children.

Who was your childhood celebrity crush?

When they were first released, Star Wars and Indiana Jones were some sort of revelation. And Harrison Ford was the handsome cool hero in both of them.

 

L.M. Rapp Author PhotoAuthor Bio:

L.M. Rapp has lived in different countries and practiced several professions: dentist, web
developer, artist, aikido teacher, farmer. Eager to learn and discover, she uses her experiences
to enrich her stories. She has also written a thriller, Of Flesh and Tears.

 

 

Follow L. M. Rapp at/on

Website: https://www.lmrap.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/L.M.Rapp
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/l.m.rapp/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LMRappAuthor

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3JrBPFS
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60560084-dreadful-beauty

Visit these other sites for more information about L. M. Rapp and Dreadful Beauty.

L.M. Rapp Blog Tour list image.

© 2014-2022- Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

Interested in being a Book Reviewer or other?

We need Book Reviewers and Self Publishing advice writers.

Lit World Interviews is a site I started many years ago where authors can get free online promotion. Now I’m looking for some new Book Reviewers and people who have advice to share in the areas of Writing, Self-Publishing, and Book Promotion. This is a great opportunity to share their opinions on books that sometimes are overlooked. Also to share the experience one might have that can help others achieve their dream of becoming an author with their book in the hands of readers. LWI is a volunteer run site. I would like to get some posts going again in regards to:
  • Book reviews
  • Self-publishing: Both the how to and promotion. Speaking from experience and/or sharing article links and advice from the pros. This tend to be our most viewed articles over time. Our former resident experts really knew their stuff.
  • If you writing/editing/style advice.
This isn’t an every week thing, or even once a month. It’s as you can do them. email me at litworldinterviews @ gmail.com if you are interested. It would be helpful if you include something from the following, so I can see work you may have done:
  • Which of the mentioned areas you would like to participate in.
  • Your site address, if you have one
  • Your name, of course
  • Your social media outlets. The ones you are willing to share posts on. And if you are willing to share the other posts from the site to Twitter, automatically. That’s how they CAN occur, but not MUST occur.
  • Your genre interests (I don’t really have a no genre approved list. But I’m sure something will come up someday. But I’m not looking for that one to occur.)
  • Links to any reviews you may have done on Amazon or Goodreads
email me at litworldinterviews @ gmail.com if you are interested. Sincerely, Ronovan

An excerpt from The Portraitist by Susanne Dunlap.

A special excerpt from The portraitist (Available Tuesday, august 30) by Susanne Dunlap.

Click here for Susanne’s interview.

The PortraitistParis, August 1774

Whenever sleep eluded her, Adélaïde would gaze out the window of the third-floor apartment she shared with her husband and think about colors. She’d stare hardly blinking for hours, noticing all the subtle variations of hue that, to a skilled eye, gave the sky as much movement and character as a living creature. Even as a child, she had understood that nothing was fixed, that light changed whatever it touched. Take the human face: Skin was not one color, but many, and never exactly the same from one moment to the next. She knew, for instance, that if Nicolas ever discovered what she was going to do that day, his face would take on one of the shades of thundercloud that had become more and more familiar to her as they drifted apart, and then she would be obliged to cajole him back to a placid pale pink.

He lay in the bed next to her, sprawled on his back, snoring open-mouthed and dripping saliva on his pillow. With a snort, he rolled away from her, and Adélaïde eased herself out from between the sheets, nudged her toes into her slippers, and stood.

“You’re up early,” Nicolas said, making her jump.

She pulled on her dressing gown as she walked into what served as kitchen and dining area. “I’ll wrap up some bread and cheese for you.”

Nicolas threw off the covers and shook himself from shoulders to toes before whisking his night shirt over his head and dressing for his job as secretary to the clergy. Adélaïde handed him the parcel of food as he strode by on his way out. He turned before leaving and stared at her. “You’ve stopped even making an effort to be attractive. You could at least put your hair up.” He let the door slam behind him and thumped down the stairs.

He’s right, Adélaïde thought. But she didn’t have time to worry about that now. As soon as she heard the heavy outer door of the building open and close, she hurried down to the courtyard, filled a basin of water from the fountain, and brought it up to the apartment so she could bathe. When she was finished, she put on her one good ensemble—the one she wore to church on Sundays with bodice and sleeves that had been trimmed with Mechlin lace in her father’s boutique. Her plan was to leave and come back without anyone noticing before Nicolas returned for dinner.

After waiting for two women who lived below her to finish their conversation in the stairwell, Adélaïde tiptoed out of the house and took a circuitous route to the Rue Neuve Saint-Merri and the Hôtel Jabach so no one might guess where she was going. She passed as swiftly as she could along the crowded thoroughfares with their boutiques and market stalls selling everything from leather goods to live chickens, picking her way around piles of dung and flattening herself against buildings as carriages clattered by. Such strange turns her life had taken, she thought. If she had waited—as her father begged her—until someone more worthy asked for her hand, she might have been the lady she’d just seen pressing a scented handkerchief to her nose as she flew past in a handsome calèche. But at the age of eighteen, her mother dead the year before and all seven of her siblings buried, Adélaïde had been desperate to get away from home, to leave the memories behind and start a new life. Enter the dashing Nicolas Guiard, who courted her passionately and made her feel wanted. Then, she couldn’t believe her good fortune. Now, she realized she’d made a terrible mistake.

It was only ten o’clock when she arrived at the iron gates that opened into the courtyard of the Hôtel Jabach. She stood for several seconds and stared, taking in everything, fixing the image of this moment in her memory. She, Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, was about to enter the first exhibition where she would not just be a spectator but a bona-fide, participating artist. Two of her pictures hung in one of the galleries within, her entries in the annual salon of the Académie de Saint-Luc—not the Académie Royale, but nearly as prestigious. Her teachers—François-Élie Vincent and Maurice-Quentin de la Tour—had put her up for membership years ago, before she married, and she would be one of only two women exhibiting that year. It was a bold step, a leap in fact, beyond the trite watercolor miniatures she sold in Monsieur Gallimard’s shop to make a little pocket money. Those were not art.

As she passed through the gates and crossed the courtyard to the entrance, sweat ran down her back under the layers of stays and bodice and petticoats, pooled at her waist, and trickled down her legs into the tops of her wool stockings. She took the printed catalogue the concierge handed her at the door and started fanning herself with it before she even opened it.

The murmur of polite commentary echoed around her. Smartly dressed men and women sauntered in twos and threes, facing the walls and pausing occasionally to admire what caught their eye, then turning to examine the portrait busts and figures that dotted the middle of the floor on pedestals at regular intervals. From her earliest childhood, Adélaïde had been to many exhibitions like this one, in rooms that had been stripped of some of their furnishings and given over to the contemplation of art. She wanted to savor it all and take her time to feast her eyes on everything, to give herself a chance to appreciate the honor of having her own work displayed alongside that of more established artists.

It was in the second of the main galleries that Adélaïde first noticed a small group comprising a slight, dapper man, an older woman who could still be called attractive, and two young ladies of startling beauty. One of them had a face of such exquisite proportions that Adélaïde wished she’d brought a sketch pad and a pencil so she could take her likeness then and there. The other one, although not quite as pretty, exuded sensuality and was clearly aware of the power she had over men in general and the gentleman in their party in particular. She cast her eyes down, her long lashes fluttering against cheeks rosy with what might have been embarrassment if they hadn’t been carefully painted with vermilion stain. That was when Adélaïde overheard the gentleman say, “No, I insist. Your allegories are perfection, Mademoiselle.”

Adélaïde froze. Her allegories? That lady had pictures hanging in the exhibition? The only other female member of the Saint-Luc she knew of was the elderly Mademoiselle Navarre, a pastellist and miniaturist who painted still lifes, not allegories. This lady, whoever she was, must have been elected very recently. No others were on the roster of exhibitors the last time Adélaïde had seen it. She held her breath, willing herself to blend into the crowd, standing sideways to the group and pretending to examine a rather voluptuous rendition of Leda and the Swan. Her ears tingled as she strained to hear the rest of the conversation despite the ebb and flow of casual comments as visitors moved through the gallery.

Click here for Susanne’s interview.

Susanne_Dunlap_social_media_image2

Book Description

Paris, 1774. After her separation from her abusive husband, Adélaïde Labille-Guiard is at last free to pursue her dream of becoming the premier woman portraitist in Paris. Free, that is, until she discovers at her first public exhibition that another woman artist is poised to claim that role — and she has more training and better connections in the tightly controlled art world.

To have a chance of competing, Adélaïde must first improve her skills in oil painting. But her love affair with her young teacher gives rise to suspicions that he touches up her work, and her decision to make much-needed money by executing erotic pastels threatens to create as many problems as it solves.

As her rival gains lucrative portrait commissions and an appointment as portraitist to Queen Marie Antoinette, Adélaïde continues to struggle, until at last she earns a royal appointment of her own, and, in 1789, receives a massive commission from a member of the royal family.

But the timing couldn’t be worse. Adélaïde’s world is turned upside down by political chaos and revolution. With danger around every corner of her beloved Paris, she must find a way to survive and adjust to the new order, starting all over again to carve out a life and a career—and stay alive in the process.

The Portraitist is based on the true story of one woman artist’s fight to take her rightful place in a man’s world — and the decisions she makes that lead her ultimately to the kind of fulfillment she never expected.

Susanne_Dunlap_social_media_Review image



Susanne Dunlap author photo.

Author Bio:

Susanne is the author of twelve works of historical fiction for adults and teens, as well as an Author Accelerator Certified Book Coach. Her love of historical fiction arose partly from her studies in music history at Yale University (PhD, 1999), partly from her lifelong interest in women in the arts as a pianist and non-profit performing arts executive. Her novel The Paris Affair won first place in its category in the CIBA Dante Rossetti awards for Young Adult Fiction. The Musician’s Daughter was a Junior Library Guild Selection and a Bank Street Children’s Book of the Year, and was nominated for the Utah Book Award and the Missouri Gateway Reader’s Prize. In the Shadow of the Lamp was an Eliot Rosewater Indiana High School Book Award nominee. Susanne earned her BA and an MA (musicology) from Smith College, and lives in Biddeford, ME, with her little dog Betty.

Website: https://susanne-dunlap.com

Click and Pre-Order  The Portraitist on Amazon.

Visit Amazon for Susanne’s Books:

Follow Susanne on social media:

Facebook: @SusanneDunlapAuthor

Twitter: @susanne_dunlap

Instagram: @susanne_dunlap

LinkedIn: @susannedunlap

Pinterest: @susanne_dunlap

© 2014-2022- Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

9 Questions with Susanne Dunlap, author of The Portraitist.

“Impeccably researched, rich with period detail, Dunlap brings to life the little-known true story of Adelaide Labille-Guiard, who fought her husband and society to make a name for herself as a painter to the royal family, the very apex of success. A stunning story of determination, talent, and reversals of fortune. As a lifelong Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun fan, I am now questioning my allegiances!”

-Lauren Willig

Bestselling Author of THE SUMMER COUNTRY

The Portraitist9 Questions with Susanne Dunlap

What inspired you to write about Adélaïde Labille-Guiard?

I’ve always been interested in women in the arts, and the eighteenth century has a special place in my heart (my dissertation was about eighteenth-century opera). Also, Adélaïde’s self-portrait with her two students that hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY is a huge favorite of mine. But originally, when I first conceived of the book, I thought of her in relation to her rival, Vigée Le Brun. Through research I began to know her in her own right, and to appreciate how different her life must have been from her rival’s, how much more stood in her way. I also love the difference in her painting style from Le Brun’s. It feels much more real, more present, less beautiful in a good way.

Why focus on Adélaïde instead of Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun?

Originally I thought I would write about Vigée Le Brun. But I love an underdog, and after discovering that they literally followed each other’s footsteps—but Le Brun doesn’t even mention her rival’s name in her three-volume memoir—I was intrigued.

Of course art plays an important role in this book. Are you an artist as well as a musician and writer?

Alas, I am no artist! I took a drawing class in college, but… no. I love art and have always gone to museums, and have done a lot of reading about art history and artists. As research for this book, I did read an 18th-century treatise on oil painting. However, as André Vincent says to Adélaïde before he starts to teach her, there’s a great deal of difference between reading a treatise and actually making art.

While the story is based on a true story, there are some characters that you’ve created. Which of the characters are real?

Most of the characters are, in fact, historical. The ones I’ve created are Adélaïde’s first student (the rest of the named students are historical), her father’s lover, and a few very minor, walk-on characters. However, I took major liberties with the characters of her father and her estranged husband to the point where I might as well have invented them, partly because there was very little available information about them. In those cases, the story comes first.

Did Adélaïde really do a portrait of Robespierre and get a huge commission from the Comte de Provence just as the revolution was starting?

Yep. All true. All the paintings mentioned in the book existed at one time or still exist. The two mentioned in this question are among those that were probably destroyed during the Revolution.

Did Adélaïde really sell erotic pastels?

Alas, no. At least, I could find no evidence of such a thing. However, erotic drawings were a lucrative trade in 18th-century Paris, and my cash-strapped heroine could easily have decided to capitalize on her talents in this way.

What were some of the struggles of women in 18th Century Paris faced, primarily those Adélaïde Labille-Guiard would have dealt with being a female artist?

The struggles had to do with lack of access for women to the infrastructure of success. Institutionalized misogyny, so to speak. Women couldn’t belong to guilds, and were only admitted to some academies in very restricted numbers. They also couldn’t attend classes at the Louvre, except with Briard, who was allowed to teach women. All the life drawing classes were closed to them of course, and even the best women artists couldn’t get the perks given to the men, namely free housing and studio space in the Louvre. That was something Adelaide fought for, and was finally awarded in 1795, after the Revolution, but before Napoleon’s time. Royal patronage was one of the few avenues in which they could compete, and both Adelaide and her rival benefited from that.

How important is Adélaïde Labille-Guiard to the art landscape of 18th Century Paris and perhaps beyond?

I think that because she was such an influential teacher as well as an artist, she probably had an impact on many young artists that we don’t even really know about, since she was pretty much ignored as a painter throughout the 19th century. But when she died, she was Madame Vincent, her identity completely bound up with her position as a married woman. I also think that by digging into these lesser-known women artists, we learn a lot more about the norm rather than the exceptions. Her work is beautiful, beyond a doubt, but so few examples survived her that it’s hard to accurately gauge her compared to other artists.

With the arts being such central influences in your literary work, what are some other works you’ve published that readers will enjoy?

This is the first time I’ve written about a female artist. I’m a music historian, so I’ve featured women musicians more often. My historical mystery series that takes place mostly in 18th-century Vienna features a young violinist whose godfather is Haydn. Those books are THE MUSICIAN’S DAUGHTER, THE MOZART CONSPIRACY, and THE PARIS AFFAIR. My first two novels also featured women musicians: ÉMILIE’S VOICE and LISZT’S KISS.

 

Susanne Dunlap author photo.Author Bio:

Susanne is the author of twelve works of historical fiction for adults and teens, as well as an Author Accelerator Certified Book Coach. Her love of historical fiction arose partly from her studies in music history at Yale University (PhD, 1999), partly from her lifelong interest in women in the arts as a pianist and non-profit performing arts executive. Her novel The Paris Affair won first place in its category in the CIBA Dante Rossetti awards for Young Adult Fiction. The Musician’s Daughter was a Junior Library Guild Selection and a Bank Street Children’s Book of the Year, and was nominated for the Utah Book Award and the Missouri Gateway Reader’s Prize. In the Shadow of the Lamp was an Eliot Rosewater Indiana High School Book Award nominee. Susanne earned her BA and an MA (musicology) from Smith College, and lives in Biddeford, ME, with her little dog Betty.

Website: https://susanne-dunlap.com

Click and Pre-Order  The Portraitist on Amazon.

Visit Amazon for Susanne’s Books:

Follow Susanne on social media:

Facebook: @SusanneDunlapAuthor

Twitter: @susanne_dunlap

Instagram: @susanne_dunlap

LinkedIn: @susannedunlap

Pinterest: @susanne_dunlap

© 2014-2022- Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

15 Questions with Juiced author, Ted Mulcahey

An invention that can save the planet?
Somehow, someway the O’Malleys have found themselves in the thick of things once again. On peaceful, bucolic Whidbey Island, they become entangled in a corporate plot to stifle a paradigm-shattering discovery, one that promises to upend conventional thinking, topple markets, and create an entirely new industry.
Kevin and Jenne, along with scientists from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, find themselves pitted against a band of bumbling criminals who will stop at nothing to get what they want—including arson and murder.
It’s another rollicking adventure for the retired interior designers ably assisted by their favorite detective, the FBI, and Emma, their ever-vigilant German Shepherd Dog.

Juiced book Cover

Juiced by Ted Mulcahey

What makes your books different from other cozy mysteries out there?
The locales and perhaps the sarcastic sense of humor from the principal characters.

Do you have another profession besides writing?
Nope.

How long have you been writing?
Off and on since my high school newspaper.

How did you come up with the ideas for your books?
The idea for Juiced began when I came across an interesting article on vanadium battery technology.

For Little Dirt, it was more of a desire to highlight the many beautiful areas of the Pacific Northwest.

With your book set in the Puget Sound area, have you ever been there?
I live there.

How did you do research for your book?
For Juiced I found a number of articles discussing the projects (including their battery research) at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

For Little Dirt I spent many hours researching harmful drug culture as well as the geography of the Puget Sound waters.

For both, my many years in business were immensely helpful.

If you could put yourself as a character in your book, who would you be?
There’s a good deal of Kevin O’Malley in me, but he’s likely an improved version.

Which was the hardest character to write? The easiest?
The easiest, of course, are the O’Malleys. The mercenary corporate characters are fun to write but often difficult. Emma, our GSD is the dearest.

If your book were made into a movie, who would star in the leading roles?
Paul Rudd and Sandra Bullock.

If your book were made into a movie, what songs would be on the soundtrack?
“Ripple” by the Grateful Dead

What is your next project?
The O’Malleys find themselves enmeshed in nastiness among folks in the Walla Walla wine country.

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
“I really had fun reading it”, is always my favorite.

What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you? The scariest? The strangest?
Brushed my teeth with glue instead of toothpaste as a kid. (I think that’s the answer for all three questions)

Who was your childhood celebrity crush?
Barbra Feldon, agent 99

If there is one thing you want readers to remember about you, what would it be?
I tried to lighten their day.

Mulcahey PhotoAuthor Bio:

Ted Mulcahey has lived throughout the US, the past 35 years in the Pacific Northwest. He’s an Army vet, sales and marketing VP, entrepreneur, business owner, avid reader, one of nine children, former caddie, and lover of dogs and golf. The last twenty-five years were spent in partnership with his wife Patte, as the owners of a highly respected and published hospitality interior design firm in the Seattle Area. They’re now living on Whidbey Island and enjoying its rural bliss.

Ted writes about things he’s seen and places he’s been. He tries to incorporate personality traits of people he’s known into his fictional characters, although none of them exist in reality. Many of the locations are real but the names have been changed.

Website: http://tedmulcahey.com

Visit Amazon for Ted’s Books:

LITTLE DIRT ROAD: https://amzn.to/3P0aVq

JUICED: https://amzn.to/3RBsE9Q

See Reviews for LITTLE DIRT ROAD  and JUICED! at Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60282401-little-dirt-road?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=3F5ErlwX8h&rank=1

JUICED:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60839464-juiced?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=1g0MCjNXuI&rank=1

Ted Mulcahey blog tour Image© 2014-2022- Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

Cathy A Lewis and Her Inspiration for The Road We Took.

“The discovery of my family lineage through ancestry, and the role that this played in my desire to preserve history.”

Cathy A. Lewis HeadshotIn 2018 I had ankle surgery which side-lined me from my work as a Chef. There would be no walking for six months, and I found it imperative to have a creative project to keep me from going bonkers during the lengthy recovery.

When my dad passed away in 1995, a small suitcase came into my possession. The suitcase contained all the artifacts and souvenirs from my dad’s 1933 six-week excursion through Europe. He was on the way to the Boy Scout World Jamboree, held in Godollo, Hungary, during the first
two weeks in August. The trip took place during the height of the depression. I was surprised to find he went on the journey with fifty dollars in his pocket. My dad was sixteen-almost seventeen at the time.

I had every intention of returning to the suitcase, but for the time being, I left it for an occasion when I could devote adequate attention to investigating  the contents. It took me twenty-three years to return to it.

A week before surgery, I finally got down to business by waking the suitcase from its quiet repose.

I felt like I was digging into a buried treasure. To my surprise, I found a rare jewel-my dad’s journal, filled with details from his entire trip through Europe, beginning on day one, leaving the Port of New York. Dad’s journal was full of information, recorded daily, about what he saw and experienced.

As I surveyed the suitcase’s contents, bits and pieces of conversations about his trip and time with the Boy Scouts shared with me in my youth came rushing back to the forefront of my mind.

While reading the journal, one entry, in particular, shook me, causing my spine to tighten. While in Vienna, Dad wrote about a conversation he had with a Hitler Youth. The conversation took place while he strolled the streets of Vienna with some of his troopmates. It was there they caught the attention of a boy about the same age as them.

The boy’s name was Wolfren Wolften. He was a former Boy Scout, now a Hitler Youth. The Hitler Youth uniform consisted of a brown shirt and black shorts, with a Sam Bowie belt stretched across the chest. On the sleeves of the shirt were Nazi armbands. Upon the head, a cap. To some degree, the Hitler Youth uniform seemed modeled after the Boy Scout uniform.

Wolfren spoke of a speech Hitler gave soon after coming into power as Chancellor of Germany on January 30 th , 1933. In the spring of 1933, Hitler proclaimed that no Austrian or German boy would attend the Jamboree to be held later that year, during the summer. Furthermore, Hitler decreed it compulsory to join the Hitler Youth. All boys of a certain age were forced to quit all other groups and activities. This young Austrian boy lamented that he could not attend the Jamboree. My dad wrote about conversing with him for some time. They had many interests in common.

They spoke at length about the Jamboree and what would take place. Later that evening, after returning to the hotel, dad wrote about the boy and the conversation that took place, concluding,

“I found him to be a fine fellow.”

That one entry, precisely those eight words, caused me to pause. Simultaneously, an idea began to form in my mind.

My dad did not know at the time that in ten years he would marry a Jewish immigrant whose extended family was murdered by the Nazis. I felt compelled to write at that moment, deciding to preserve the historical events conveyed by my dad’s writings.

I became fascinated with the last leg of dad’s trip and the four days he spent traveling through Germany before boarding the ship at Bremen back to the United States.

Dad detailed what he saw while traveling through Germany after the Jamboree.

He witnessed a massive rally and parade of German tanks, trucks, well over 100k armed forces, all marching through the streets of Munich. He noted that the Nazi symbol of the swastika was ubiquitous throughout Munich, with flags and banners covering every government building and many private homes. With all the tanks, trucks, and troops, the event was directly in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. While in Nuremberg, he wrote about a Hitler Youth rally with forty thousand members, all marching in formation while goose-stepping.

At that time, the world, by and large, had no idea what was going on in Germany. History would show that France and Great Britain knew. While the world was aware that Hitler was in power as Chancellor, the Treaty violations were not common knowledge. Dad saw these events taking place and wrote of them.

The second part of preserving my family history comes from my mom’s journey and her family.

While growing up in a suburb of Rochester, New York, I did not know about my family ties to the small border town of Baranovichi, Poland, now called Belarus. My mom told my siblings and me fables about her family, her ancestry, and like most children, we believed her.

We were not aware of the hidden anguish she carried, knowing her extended family died at the hands of Nazis. I was not aware I was Jewish until I was seven years old, and at that age, I had no understanding of what that meant.

My mom wanted us to believe her carefully constructed story of her upbringing. She desired to protect her children from the prejudice and hatred she suffered when first coming to the U.S. after marrying my dad in the canal zone in Panama in July of 1944, during the 2 nd World War.

My mom’s mother left Baranovichi in 1919 after World War I, traveling to Argentina. My grandmother traveled from Baranovichi to the Polish Corridor strip of land along the River Vistula to escape, traveling to Switzerland where she acquired a passport in Bern. My mom’s father’s journey to Argentina is somewhat of a mystery. Some accounts say he served to fight with the British Army during World War I, and at its conclusion, he took an British freighter to Argentina.

My grandparents allegedly had family living in Buenos Aires, where former Baranovichi residents Pauline Turetsky and Harry Silberstein re-connected and married. My mom’s birth certificate is from Buenos Aries, verifying she was born there.

The other facts of how my grandparents came to Buenos Aires remain unverified. Unfortunately, no one living can attest to the details of the journey—all who could have passed on.

My thirst for family history came too late in life to uncover the many mysteries that exist today. These perplexities haunt the recesses of my mind, leaving questions unanswered.

While the facts of my mom’s marriage to my dad are verified, I found a newspaper announcement of my parent’s wedding, written by my dad’s father, stating the contrary.

To compound matters and create further dissimulation, my grandfather published the wedding announcement of the marriage of his son “to the daughter of an Englishmen and a Mexican American woman.”

Clearly, he wanted to do everything he could to gaslight friends and family to prevent them from discovering that his eldest son married a Jewish immigrant.

Five years ago, I purchased a genealogy test. It was high time I took action to unravel the never-ending yarn ball of questions that kept me awake at night.

Another thing-my mom’s family dispersed from South America after sojourning through Argentina, Peru, and Ecuador. I have a photograph of a family passport from Peru to Ecuador with my mom, siblings, and parents.

My mom went to Panama to work, where she met and married my American dad. Some of her family moved to Mexico City from Ecuador, some went to Canada, and some eventually landed in Tel Aviv, Israel. I knew very few of my cousins or their extended families. My mom told me that they were all Orthodox and wouldn’t have anything to do with me, seeing that I wasn’t. I
took those words at face value.

I filled out the perfunctory questionnaires on the genealogy site, adding details to my profile. Using caution, I kept personal information to a bare minimum.

The results that came back astounded me, confirming me to be 49.9%  Ashkenazi Jewish on my mom’s side of the test. I felt a small victory over the doubt that assuaged my mind for years. The test also revealed that my Haplogroup of DNA showed my ancestors originated in Israel two
thousand years ago and dispersed from there, eventually landing in Eastern Europe, Poland. Finally, I felt like I was getting somewhere.

History confirms that the 2 nd diaspora of the Jewish people occurred with the Roman conquest of Israel two thousand years ago. The pieces of the puzzle started to come together.

Three months passed, and one day, an email arrived from the genealogical site. A man was inquiring about my family and me. He had the matching last name as my mom, but I had never heard of this person before. While initially suspect, I nevertheless began conversing with him through emails for several days. I subjected him to a series of hoop-jumping for my peace of mind. At first, I thought he was a quack or someone trying to obtain personal information. He satisfactorily completed the many tests to authenticate what he said, and I met through email, my first cousin, once removed. He is the son of my mother’s brother, the second of three sons.

This one cousin wrote to our extended family across the US, Canada, Israel, and Mexico, introducing me as Matildé’s youngest daughter, asking my newly found family to reach out to me. Because of the genealogy search, I’ve discovered over one hundred cousins- some first, second, third, and fourth, but a family, nonetheless. Undoubtedly, my investment in the testing
was well founded.

Between my father’s journal and the search for my mother’s family, I’ve authored a book based on some of the facts I’ve uncovered. While it is historical fiction, my book weaves a story of suspense and intrigue based on my father’s four-day excursion through Germany. By authoring this book, I The Road We Took 3D Book Covercan preserve some of the historical facts of my father’s trip along with certain aspects of my mom’s life before coming to the United States.

I’ve felt it is of the utmost importance to preserve my family’s history for posterity’s sake. This book is a legacy for future generations.

I am the first person in my family to author a book.

https://cathyalewis.com/

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You can get Cathy’s book at various book outlets including those below.

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BookReview of “Columbus and Caonabó: 1493-1498 Retold” by Andrew Rowen.

Book Cover of Columbus and Caonabo by Andrew RowenDESCRIPTION of Columbus and Caonabó: 1493-1498 Retold by Andrew Rowen.

Columbus and Caonabó: 1493–1498 Retold” dramatizes Columbus’s invasion of Española and the bitter resistance mounted by its Taíno peoples during the period and aftermath of Columbus’s second voyage. Based closely on primary sources, the story is told from both Taíno and European perspectives, including through the eyes of Caonabó—the conflict’s principal Taíno chieftain and leader—and Columbus.”

When you read a Historical Fiction novel you have a certain thought in mind of what to expect. Andrew Rowen gives you more than that, much more. The press release discusses the research he’s done through the years but many do the same. But I haven’t run across anyone who puts the detail of the people into their work as much as Rowen has. Given as much life to a people we know so little about but by the end know so much and gain a fuller Andrew Rowenpicture of a part of the American foundational background. I’ve taken U.S., European, and Latin American studies at the University level and not been given any of the detail given here, nor even heard of the vast majority of the people given in this work.

Being a history person I of course loved the specifics pertaining to the events of the past but even more I enjoyed Rowen’s interpretation of the people involved, especially the Taíno peoples. Also the conflict between the crew of Columbus left behind and moving forward. There was no simple black and white, right and wrong to the story. I suppose overall you would say there is one, but as far as the actions of both peoples the ideas made a lot more sense than what we learn in school.

Rowen shows the use of the Europeans and Taíno forming alliances whether they be real or merely for appearances, the use of Christianity as a subjugation strategy as well as a tool by the Taíno. The Taíno religion is also a major issue in the progress of negotiations and relations. (I don’t want to say too much here.) The actions of Columbus are laid bare, warts and all. Even coming to be questioned by Isabella and Ferdinand. The presence of Spanish settlers in the islands is devastating in more ways than the disease we’ve so often read about.

Ultimately you feel what is happening as it happens. The anguish of the Taíno peoples, the settlers, and even the soldiers who didn’t sign up for what happens. This along with 42 historic and newly drawn maps and illustrations bring life to a part of history glossed over by the victors.

I’m not an anti-Columbus or anti-Western Exploration person. I like history. I am a historian. I want as many of the facts as possible. Unfortunately those who are the victors tend to suppress the ugly parts they played to achieve their victory. “Columbus and Caonabó: 1493–1498 Retold” provides more facts while being entertaining at the same time.

The author includes an interesting final chapter titled Agonies and Fates. We learn about just what the title says, Agonies and Fates. Plus many definitions are given for the Taíno language.

RATING

A solid 4 out of 5 Stars. A 4 because of all the great information and the life given to the historical figures. Also a 4 and not a 5 because it is a bit of a heavy read. This is not a read in one or two sittings. You will likely want to do so but take  your time so you can absorb everything you’re being given.

I rate using:

Realistic Characters/Character Development based on genre,
World Building
Editing
Believability based on genre
Overall Enjoyment
Readability/Clarity
Flow

RECOMMEND?

I would read the previous book, Encounters Unforeseen: 1492 Retold, of which this book is the sequel.

504 pages with the reading portion ending with Agonies and Fates on page 417. The remaining pages are filled with great information for further understanding, including a Glossary.

Available 11/09/2021

$11.49 for Kindle.

$33.95 Hardcover at Amazon


Andrew RowenAbout the author

Andrew Rowen has devoted 10 years to researching the history leading to the first encounters between Europeans and the Caribbean’s Taíno peoples, including visiting sites where Columbus and Taíno chieftains lived, met, and fought. His first novel, “Encounters Unforeseen: 1492 Retold” (released 2017), portrays the life stories of the chieftains and Columbus from youth through their encounters in 1492. Its sequel, “Columbus and Caonabó: 1493–1498 Retold” (to be released November 9, 2021), depicts the same protagonists’ bitter conflict during the period of Columbus’s second voyage. Andrew is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley and Harvard Law School and has long been interested in the roots of religious intolerance.

https://www.amdrewrowen.com/
Facebook @andrewsrowen


© 2021- Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

Kevin Vought Author of I’m Supposed to Make a Difference. His story.

I'm Supposed To Make A Difference Book CoverI grew up looking like a very average kid. I lived most of my young life in the suburbs of Rochester, New York. That’s over on the western side of the state along the shores of Lake Ontario for those who aren’t familiar with the state.

My household included my parents, a brother who was about two and a half years older than me, and, of course, me. We almost always had a pet. At least one cat, two for a while, and a dog for a short time.

My parents weren’t rich, but they weren’t poor, either. We never went hungry, but we often didn’t have as many frills as some of my friends. For most of my childhood, my parents shared one car. We all shared a single bathroom with one sink. I don’t think either of those things were all that unusual back then, but seem relatively rare today.

My brother, Bryan, and I spent hours playing basketball at our hoop in the driveway and easily as much time throwing the football around in the backyard. We were closer than most brothers I knew and spent a lot of time challenging each other to be better athletes or just hanging out listening to music and playing games.

On the surface, it all looked very idyllic. If you threw in a white picket fence and a fresh baked pie every night, we would have looked like a typical 1960’s sitcom family.

You know that saying “don’t judge a book by its cover?” Of course you do. It never fit a situation better than it did with my family. The simple smiles flashed to the outside world were nothing more than a front to hide hearts as black as coal. Monsters barren of souls who were masters of covering their tracks to avoid discovery.

You may be thinking those sentiments are too strong. My own wife, Jill, didn’t believe me at first when I began digging up old memories. “Parents don’t do those things to their children,” she would say. “I’ve met your parents, they’re very nice people,” she would mistakenly add. Finally, in 2007, Jill pleaded with my father via email to reach out to me and help me through digesting some terrible memories I was having about my paternal grandfather. He simply ignored the email. That was also a turning point in my relationship with him. After that point, as the years went on and my memories filled in more completely, my father began making up more and more ridiculous lies in an attempt to cover his tracks. Between the 2007 snub and his subsequent backtracking on so many things he had already said, Jill finally began to realize just how evil he really is.

What did my father do that was so egregious? Did he molest Bryan or me? Did he beat us? No. He feared my mother far too much to do those things. Through his actions, things he would say from time to time, and an email he sent me sometime around 2006, it became clear to me that he wanted to. He “abused” his significantly younger siblings when they were growing up. “It’s what I learned” he emailed me. I’m certain he never “unlearned” it. My mother made it extremely clear to him, though, that she would come at him with absolutely everything she had, legally or otherwise, if he so much as looked at Bryan or me again the way he did one day. On that day when I was only about five, he was clearly ramping up to do a lot more than just yell at Bryan and me. She clearly wore the pants in the family, though, and she very well controlled most of his actions and kept him in line to the best of her ability.

What could my father do that was so wrong and so damaging under the iron fist surveillance of my mother? It appears that my father knew my mother’s strength and convictions from the beginning of their relationship. As such, he never told her what kind of person his father was. My father went to great lengths to hide his upbringing from my mother. Not only did he hide what kind of person his father was, he demanded that we spend every Saturday out there with them along with most holidays. When I say we spent the day, we went out there immediately after eating an early breakfast and we stayed out there until midnight or later. My father would typically spend the day alone with his father talking in the back work room or garage. Mind you, my grandfather is a well known violent pedophile who would go as far as threatening to kill my dad and his six siblings whenever they got too out of line. The first red flag: my father enjoyed this violent pedophile’s company and time to an extreme level.

There was more to my father keeping his past secret than wanting to visit with this violent pedophile on a routine basis. When I was still quite young, my father convinced my mother that Bryan and I should be sent to his parent’s place for at least two weeks to “have fun out in the country.” Had she known what my grandfather was all about, she clearly would never have allowed the weekly family visits, let alone leaving Bryan and me alone with this nut job. I have little doubt my father was delivering us to his father so he could live vicariously through his father’s actions. I also have little doubt that he got an earful about what happened during the two weeks we were trapped there on his Saturday visits.

You’re probably wondering now what in the world happened while we were there. It’s not even what you’re likely thinking. To me, it’s a lot worse. In the summer of 1980, I was seven years old. I have had nightmares indicating that my grandfather may have molested me, but I’ve never reconnected to those memories if he had. What I do remember is a lot worse. He abducted an eleven year old girl while I was alone with him. My brother was out of the house all day with my grandmother running errands. I believe the girl lived relatively close by and was a friend of Bryan’s and mine.

He attacked her and forced me to stay in the room with them. As she screamed, the guilt of doing nothing overwhelmed me. I knew helping her would likely end in my death, but I refused to stand there and do nothing. When I awoke from being knocked unconscious, she was gone. I’ve never been able to confirm whether she survived the attack or not, but I think I’ve found her with the help of a private investigator – alive and well today. She won’t respond to my emails or outreaches on Facebook. Presumably she’s not in a place where she wants to pick at that scab.

You at least had your mother to run to, right? Not exactly. My mother always looked out for me in the big things, such as keeping me safe from my father and worrying about why I came home with my face completely swelled up when I was seven. In other matters, though, I was pretty much her verbal punching bag.

My mother almost desperately wanted a daughter. She was convinced I was going to be a daughter. From the moment I was born, she became suicidally depressed. She never was able to move past the disappointment and lambasted me for everything I did. Even when I’d get 100% on a test, she would point out how lazy and stupid I was for only getting 95% the week before. After all, she reasoned, this 100% clearly showed I was capable of being perfect all the time. Talk about setting the bar high!

I knew she would blame me for the little girl’s death if I told her about it, so I kept my mouth shut. That wasn’t easy to do because she wouldn’t stop examining my swollen face for days. She even took me to the doctor to have it examined to see if my father’s excuse that I had been exposed to poison ivy in smoke was realistic.

All this and a lot more is described in much better detail in I’m Supposed to Make a Difference: A Memoir About Overcoming Trauma and Abuse. The book includes excerpts from emails I’ve exchanged with my father, greater details of all the situations described here plus more, and discussions of how this affected my mental health. The discussions on mental health include sections about suicidal feelings I battled from 11th grade through to about 2019. It lays out how I managed to work through the suicidal depression and anxiety with the help of a wonderful psychologist (who wrote a great foreword for the book) and an extremely knowledgeable psychiatrist (who wrote a wonderful afterword for the book). I’m hopeful the book will serve as motivation for others fighting with similar childhood traumas.

You can find the book here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09C3Z7XC5. Released on Tuesday September 7 in paperback and Kindle. The Audiobook version is being produced and will be available soon!

 

Kimberly Hess on Sarah B. Cochran, the Inspiration Behind “A Lesser Mortal”

Kimberly Hess on Sarah B. Cochran, the Inspiration Behind “A Lesser Mortal”

I grew up with the power of women’s experiences in the stories I heard about female ancestors and relatives. Whether they were politically active, ahead of their time, or overcoming enormous obstacles, each one’s story helped me to understand what I could do. One in particular was Sarah B. Cochran. When my parents and I regularly visited family in southwestern Pennsylvania, I saw artifacts from her life, like the mansion and church she had built, which were being added to the National Register of Historic Places when I was a little girl. I also knew that her decision to put my great-grandmother through college in 1917 still influenced my life many years later.

In that part of the country, it seemed that everybody knew something about her work in the Connellsville coke industry or respected her public and private philanthropy. She was once described to me as the Dolly Parton of the area because of her financially humble origins, generous philanthropy, and humility. As a story, her life struck me as the love child that an Edith Wharton novel might have had with a Nancy Meyers movie: our heroine moves beyond Gilded Age sensibilities and restrictions to inhabit a modern life with purpose, agency, and people who valued her. There is even a fantastic house and a five-minute standing ovation. It was a life that Sarah probably never expected to have and one that historians probably don’t expect to find in its place and time. And, it was a life that I never expected to write about.

Sarah lived from 1857 until 1936 and far exceeded expectations for a woman from that era in southwestern Pennsylvania. But in spite of that, she would be treated as a “lesser mortal” with respect to history; that is, she was left out of the larger historical narrative that featured male contemporaries like Henry Clay Frick or Andrew Carnegie. Born to a poor farming family, she struggled just to have clothes so she could attend school. When she got a job as a maid for Jim Cochran, the pioneer of the Connellsville coke industry, she and Jim’s son fell in love and married. About twenty years into that marriage, her husband and son died prematurely, and Sarah went on to own the coal and coke businesses that had been her husband’s in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, and Tennessee. At the time, it was illegal for women to work in or around Pennsylvania coal mines, and some miners even believed women were an unlucky presence around coal mines. While there was not a clear place for Sarah in an industry that was still male dominated, she didn’t leave it. Newspapers reported that she continued to transact business until she was in her seventies.

KIMBERLY HESS  A Lesser Mortal book coverShe also didn’t retreat to a comfortable life; instead, she engaged with the world by becoming a generous philanthropist for causes that mattered to her. She attributed this to a doctor’s advice to help schools and churches as she mourned the loss of her husband and son. Perhaps the lack of fit in mining also helped to smooth her path into philanthropy, where she would have had greater latitude and where women already had a socially acceptable role. When she died in 1936, her private philanthropy was valued at several hundred thousand dollars and her public philanthropy at $2,000,000 (1936 dollars). From her forties through her sixties, Sarah built college dormitories, endowed department chairs, and was a lifelong benefactor and “mother” of Phi Kappa Psi’s West Virginia Alpha chapter. Her philanthropy at Allegheny College even rivaled that of Andrew Carnegie during a crucial building campaign, and she was the first woman to serve as an Allegheny trustee.

Much of Sarah’s philanthropy went beyond generosity to actually shifting power, and often it seemed to be a tool for improving the lives of future generations. In an era when college degrees were becoming increasingly necessary for higher paying jobs and viewed with suffrage as keys to women’s independence, Sarah quietly paid for local people’s college education. Ahead of Pennsylvania’s 1915 suffrage referendum, she publicly threw her weight behind women’s suffrage by opening her estate to host western Pennsylvania’s largest suffrage fundraiser. Ironically, some might have still viewed the home as a woman’s domain and a refuge from politics. However, Sarah was not afraid to bring politics into the home or to publicly own what differentiated her from business competitors: gender. The following year she opened her home again, this time to host the semi-annual meeting of the world’s all-male Methodist bishops. It was reportedly the first time the meeting had been held in a private home, and it was just sixteen years since women were first allowed to be lay delegates at the church’s quadrennial meetings.

As fascinating as Sarah’s life was, it was a life I expected someone else, namely a historian, to write about. My career was in the corporate world for nearly twenty years, but during that time I was also involved with organizations that forced me to consider issues like investments in women’s education, women’s representation in business school, how women have been left out of the historical narrative, and what people might gain from learning stories about female historic figures. When my husband noticed that he couldn’t find information about Sarah online, I created her Wikipedia entry and moved on to a museum blog post, a National Women’s History Museum biography, and a StoryCorps recording.

I spent two more years researching and writing about Sarah’s life and its context, then supplemented those findings with genealogical research I’d been doing over the course of thirty-six years. Beyond learning more details of her life, I also discovered a woman who became highly productive in the periods we know as midlife and senior years. As a middle-aged woman myself, I thought for the first time about the opportunities and challenges age might have presented to Sarah. I also discovered how difficult it is to find her if you don’t already know she’s there. Sometimes Sarah is portrayed as a coal magnate’s widow, not as an accomplished woman in her own right. She falls through the cracks when writings about the coal and coke region focus on miners’ wives or rely on oral histories from employees of the H.C. Frick Coke Company, one of Sarah’s competitors. Even her occupational information, sometimes portrayed as a blank space or the word “None” on the U.S. Census, wouldn’t suggest any of the  responsibilities or influence that she actually had. Because she was involved in organizations and institutions that mattered to her in specific locations – not organizations that would simply help her to self-promote – there are pockets of deep knowledge in unexpected places instead of widespread, general awareness.

This makes her story important to tell for a few different reasons. First, the fact that a woman has remained invisible after her businesses competed with Frick’s and her philanthropy sometimes rivaled Carnegie’s is a good reason to tell her story. I hope this will inspire others to tell stories of the “lesser mortals” who affected their own communities but remained invisible to a wider audience. This might be done through historic sites, books or articles, or it might be the simple act of donating an artifact to a museum or archive. Representation in museums and archives is critical for demonstrating what roles a diverse group of people has played in history and culture, but it also allows researchers from around the world to discover people. Second, despite Sarah’s very specific interests, there is a universality and timelessness to her story. It is a story about using the power we already have, living with purpose, being resilient, championing others, and publicly owning our identities. In some cases she was the first or only person like herself to accomplish certain goals. At times she wasn’t welcome in the broken system where she operated, so she was forced to create her own place in the world. These challenges aren’t going away, and we can benefit from stories about how people have dealt with them. Sometimes we need to tell those stories ourselves if we want people to find them.


KIMBERLY HESS Black and White Author photoKIMBERLY HESS: During her business career of nearly twenty years, Kimberly Hess served in volunteer leadership roles at the global and local levels for Smith College’s Alumnae Association and Office of Admission, and she was a trustee of the Alice Paul Institute and a board member of the Chubb Partnership of Women. Her writing has appeared on the websites of Thrive Global, the National Women’s History Museum and the Forté Foundation, as well as on the blogs of the Women’s Museum of California and the David Library of the American Revolution. She has a B.A. in Economics and International Relations from Smith College, an M.B.A. in Marketing from Rutgers Business School, and a Certificate in Historic Preservation from the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies at Drew University. An avid genealogist and traveler, she lives in New Jersey with her husband and daughter.

You can purchase Kimberly’s Book on Amazon.

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Ronovan Hester’s Book Review of The Judas Robe by author Larry Rodness.

The Judas Robe Kindle EditionDESCRIPTION OF THE JUDAS ROBE by Larry Rodness

During the height of the Spanish Inquisition a ruthless inquisitor by the name of Bishop Roberto Promane tortures a fellow priest, Father Sanchez, for information about the whereabouts of a relic known as The Judas Robe. The robe is believed to be the single piece of physical proof of God on Earth. Promane succeeds in uncovering the robe only to lose it to Sanchez’s rescuers, the knights of The Order Of Christ.

Present Day

Joel Gardiner, a pre-med student, is attacked one night by thugs after leaving a campus pub. A young woman named Sophia rescues him and reveals that Joel’s mother, Natalie, is descended from the Order Of Christ, the faction that has kept the robe hidden for centuries. These thugs are part of a conspiracy group led by a Bishop Newman who seek the robe in order to uncover a secret held for centuries.

A BIT ABOUT WHO IS IN THE STORY

JOEL is a by-the-book pre-med student who comes from a divorced family where his father and brothers leave him with his mother who they believe is crazy for believing in a myth of her heritage. Once he gets to college he meets LISA and they quickly begin a relationship. Joel gets an internship at BIOPHARM, a pharmaceutical company, due to a discovery he made that could change the health of the human race, under the condition he can conduct his own research into a cure a rare that affects only around 7000 people. (This is all already established and explained as the story flows.)

Joel’s discovery as well as the Robe of Judas, the myth Joel’s family doesn’t believe in, are the two targets of BISHOP NEWMAN and his conspiracy group.

Joel is aided by SOPHIA and FATHER SANCHEZ who are all too familiar with the bishop and the robe. The reveals at the end are shocking actors in this play, but a couple are hinted at during moments in the story. All are believable in the context of the story.

THE REVIEW

LARRY RODNESS creates a fun ride that is engrossing and will keep you turning the pages. As a writer my biggest compliment to give another author is I want these characters to appear in a series of books. It would be an easy thing to do. The characters are all well defined and have distinct voices.

I’ve seen some reference Dan Brown, because it  has to do with the hunt for a Jesus associated item. I don’t get that vibe. The book is not that detailed or plodding as are Dan Brown’s famous books. The story has the details it needs as far as the Judas Robe. This keeps the book as a fast paced read. This book is its own story and not a pretender. The search for the robe is not a mystery of solving this puzzle or whatever. The real goal of Joel and Lisa is to survive. And if they can discover the Judas Robe is real and if so keep it out of the hands of the antagonist groups (yes I said groups), find a cure for the medical condition and make Joel’s discovery work for the human race along the way, then all the better.

As with any book I read I’m looking for the relationships and personalities. This one has reality relationships, meaning not perfect. There are strains on Joel and Lisa, Joel and his mother, Sophia and other characters and even some messy moments of bad choices made, or so the characters think. I personally don’t think so. But that’s the great thing about the book. You have villains you like and you want things to work out somehow and heroes you just can’t stand, or at least I can’t. And I think that’s the way it should be.

You come to understand choices made by both sides or all sides, there are multiple sides, but easy to follow.

As much as I like the story there are some plot holes that I think contribute to my attitude toward some characters as well as what I consider a confusing moment between Joel and his mother during a pivotal turn in Joel’s view points about so many things. Perhaps if there is another book it can be explained, but I suppose for now the reader has to come up with their own solutions. This moment doesn’t take away from the story or enjoyment, but the plot holes do pull you out of the world Rodness has created for a brief moment.

The pace of the story is excellent and I think that’s part of why any hiccups aren’t huge problems with enjoyment.

My favorite character is Sophia. A quiet character that seems to just be there and you’re not surprised by it but you should be. I got to the point I was expecting her to be just on the edge watching  each scene play out.

I will say there are sexual scenes in the book as well as killing with a bit of gore. Really only the sexual scenes were a little surprise but I think in a way they explain a bit about why the people end up willing to do what they do later on. Just mentioning the scenes wouldn’t have worked.

Summing it up: Not much filler. But as with any book there is a lull between those big moments, but as I said, not much. Great characters. Surprises. Mystery. Some layers and subplots that could play out further in later books but didn’t need to here.

 COMPARING

As I’ve said before… I’m not good at comparing authors work although that helps a reader get a feel for what they are getting into. Maybe you can think of a movie or book that is a mystery with a bit of action and rabid cult where you don’t have any fighting skills or clues and you’re told to find the treasure or your loved ones die.

RATING

A solid 3.6 out of 5 Stars. The only reason it is not a sold 4 is because of the plot holes.

A note on rating a book: People these days throw 5’s and 4’s around, when they really mean 3’s and 4’s. 3 means the book meets what you expect it to be. 4 is a really good book. A 5 rating should be a rare thing.

The above rating is just shy of a really good book rating because of just a few plot holes.

I rate using:

Realistic Characters/Character Development based on genre,
World Building
Editing
Believability based on genre
Overall Enjoyment,
Readability/Clarity
Flow

RECOMMEND?

I would read other books by this author. I would say the book would be for maybe 18 and over due to the sexual moments. You may say 16 because of it being a book and not visual. And I get that. I am on the fence.

Click one of the logos below to visit the book site so you can purchase. You can also read the first 3 chapters on Amazon with the Kindle Look inside feature.

241 pages.

$6.99 for Kindle.

$10.54 Paperback at Amazon

$16.00 Paperback at Barnes & Noble

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Larry Rodness author profile photoAbout the author

Larry began his professional career as a singer at the age of 19 working with various bands around Toronto. After studying musical theatre Larry worked in summer stock where his love of writing began. From that point on he wrote for dinner theatre, trade shows, and even ice skating shows. To date he has written over 10 screenplays and has had 3 optioned.

 

https://www.larryrodness.com/
https://twitter.com/LarryRodness


© 2021- Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

Ronovan Hester’s Book Review of Aunt Ivy’s Cottage by author Kristin Harper.

Aunt Ivy's Cottage book coverDESCRIPTION OF AUNT IVY’S COTTAGE by Kristin Harper

Three generations of the Winslow family gather one Spring as they go through joys, sorrows, and many decisions to find healing in the home that’s been in their family for generations. Add mystery, romance, and a manipulative, self-centered cousin, and you have the makings of a promising series set in the fictional New England village of HOPE HAVEN on DUNE ISLAND. The picture painted by the author of the sunsets, ocean waves, the surf, the smells, and more make the fictional setting come to life.

ZOEY has been staying with her elderly AUNT IVY and Aunt Sylvia after Sylvia developed pneumonia. Out of a job and her savings all but depleted by an ex-boyfriend, Zoey dedicates herself first to nursing Sylvia, until her passing (in the prologue), then to Aunt Ivy while she copes with the loss of her sister-in-law, Sylvia.

Then another bombshell drops when Zoey’s asked to assume responsibility for her niece GABI, the daughter of her sister, JESSICA, who was lost to cancer several years earlier. The girl’s step-mother and father hope Zoey will let her finish the school year wherever Zoey ends up living. With Gabi’s mother gone and now her dad in a rehab program for alcoholics, Zoey says yes.

On top of that, Zoey’s cousin MARK, the next in line to inherit Aunt Ivy’s house, is doing his best to get her to move into a retirement facility so he can renovate the house and lease it out for an income. If this happens, what happens to Zoey?

But there is one light in it all, NICK, the local contractor. Or is his light too bright to be believed?

Pre-REVIEW (Review?)

If you read the blurb/book description on Amazon, it isn’t accurate to the book’s story. I think if I read the book, after reading that description first, I would be disappointed because the suspense and anticipation it promises is not quite what’s delivered. Even some imagery given isn’t what you get in the book. But don’t let that stop you from reading AUNT IVY’S COTTAGE after reading this review. Because I’m just pointing that out in case you read this review and then the Amazon description and wonder what was this book blogger talking about.

If the blurb is not accurate, then what do you get?

A story with more substance, more emotion, and more heart than expected. And I enjoyed it better than I would have if it had been what the blurb described.

THE REVIEW

KRISTIN HARPER does a great job of painting a wonderful picture of what the Hope Haven area of Dune Island looks like. It’s a nice job of giving the imagery as part of the story and not just throwing it in to fill up the page. Harper really knows what she’s doing. It’s not over the top, just enough to give you what you need. I love it when that happens. And as a writer, I can tell you it’s a balance not easily accomplished.

Each character has their own unique personality and problems. This is something I enjoy in any book, but in this type of book in particular there is a tendency to have too many characters that serve the same purpose and clutter the story. When that happens, you end up wondering which character someone is talking about. Harper nails it with just the right number. One living great-aunt, one aunt in her thirties, and one teen niece. The niece, Gabi, has friends that are unique and fleshes out her character nicely, but they aren’t cluttering the reading. For instance, you read about one boy early on, and the next time you meet him, you have no problem visualizing him again walking with the girl down the hall her first day of school to give her a tour. Honestly, I could see the kid. It surprised me. (Maybe I knew a kid just like him.)

The emotions of the story are not overdone, and they aren’t always about the same things. Yes, the same emotions happen about the same things at times, but I expect that when a story involves grief. If the story didn’t include those moments, it would come across to me as unrealistic.

You have the tears, but they are usually warranted, not filler or lack of a talented writer’s ability to come up with something better to say. They are timed at the right moments in the story where they belong rather than pulling you out of your escape into the sounds of the surf on a New England island in spring. (Zoey’s moments on the beach and in the ocean had me wishing I were there.)

There are laughs as well, which include multi-generational moments that aren’t contrived. Some of those moments include characters that might surprise you but ultimately don’t.

Harper does great with not making any of the characters one-dimensional. I have to say that surprised me. A lot of times in books of this genre one person has a role to play and they stick to that stereotype/trope with no variation. Harper doesn’t do that here. Some of the roles do play to type where they need to but then there is much more to each person. Very nice.

There are only a couple of places in the book I thought could’ve been different, but in no way do they take away from the reading of the book or diminish the enjoyment I had. Nor would they change the story or outcome of the book.

I really like books that have a sweet, emotional family story, be they mysteries, romances, suspense, or whatever. There is no profanity at all in the book. Also, there are no intimate/sexual situations that would keep a teen from reading this book.

Summing it up: It’s a tight story with no fillers and some little learning moments about life, love, and family. You’ll enjoy it, as I did.

 COMPARING

I’m horrible at comparing one author to others in this genre. Why, because I pick up a book to read based on the title, cover, description, and reviews. I do like reading the same authors but if the reviews are bad, I’ll skip the book. Plus, when you read over a  hundred books a year, you get kind of get lost in your own little world of words.

All I can say is this was a well-plotted and well thought out story. The world-building Harper has done makes for a four-dimensional feel (fourth being the senses included) reading experience.

When you have a book that is put forward as a Clean & Wholesome Romance, you often think of those painfully awkward almost-moments of intimacy the two leads go through until the ‘finally’ moment happens. I am so pleased to say this book does not put you through that. Of course, you have moments, but reasonable and nothing like what I’ve read so many times before. There are very few cliché moments in Aunt Ivy’s Cottage. Nicely done.

I said all of that to tell you how Kristin Harper’s efforts stand out from others.

RATING

A solid 4 out of 5 Stars. I would read more in this series. (One other title currently available, Summer at Hope Haven.)

Click one of the logos below to visit the book site so you can purchase.

294 pages.

$.99 for ebook.

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About the authorKristin Harpr photo

Ever since she was a young girl, there were few things Kristin Harper liked more than creative writing and spending time on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with her family. Eventually (after a succession of jobs that bored her to tears), she found a way to combine those two passions by becoming a women’s fiction author whose stories occur in oceanside settings. While Kristin doesn’t live on the Cape year-round, she escapes to the beach whenever she can.

https://www.kristinharperauthor.com/
https://twitter.com/KHarperAuthor


For more reviews and the other stops on Kristin Harper’s Book Blog Tour:

Click the image for a larger view.

Aunt Ivy's Cottage Blog Tour image with other blog sitts.

Book Publishing Company open to new Submissions.

Book Publishing Company open to new Submissions.

Our mission is to create a family-centered clientele where our authors will grow their audience and be satisfied with the outcome of their product.

We prefer CLEAN stories to publish that represent Christian values. This means stories that do not intentionally set out to create a hostile profile of any religion, ethnic group, or gender. We publish real-world stories which include real-world problems pulled from the headlines of today as well as fantasy, horror, and other genres. If you have a manuscript that fits these criteria, please submit.

What do we mean by CLEAN? CLEAN to us means no explicit or pervasive profanity or sexual situations or language present in the words of MS. The MS of course may infer there has been intimate activity off-screen if the story calls for it.

We understand real-world situations may dictate material that is borderline to staying within our preferences but meets the majority of our criteria. Please submit and we will give your story consideration. If we do accept your manuscript on the basis of your submission but then discover material in the body of the MS is much more beyond our understanding of the initial submission, we reserve the right to null and void any contracts and agreements.

WE PUBLISH:

Christian & Sweet Romance

Christian Non-Fiction

Contemporary Romance

Fantasy

Horror

Mysteries/Suspense/Thriller

Paranormal

Poetry

Psychological Thriller

Science Fiction

Young Adult

Publishing Submissions

  1. Send the first five chapters of your manuscript to [stainedglasspublishing @ gmail .com] along with a short cover letter. In the letter, be sure to include a full synopsis, and let us know if it is a simultaneous submission and whether or not the manuscript is complete.

  2. Give us 3 business days to get back to you. If you have not heard from us by then, please send us another e-mail. We respond to ALL submissions.

(Email address was broken up by litworledinterviews.com to hinder any phishing of email accounts.)

Stained Glass Publishing offers other services in addition to publishing, such as Editing, Formatting, and Pimping (Marketing) assistance.


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© 2020 Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

“I never wanted to write this memoir.” A Guest Post from Author Gabrielle Robinson.

I never wanted to write this memoir

I first discovered my grandfather’s diaries after my mother’s death, hidden behind books. Although it was already late at night, I started to read immediately. My grandfather, Api as I called him, had given me my first stable home after the war, and I had spent the happiest days of my childhood with him. Since my father had been killed in the war, he was both father and grandfather to me.  As I opened the first of the two little green notebooks, I noticed that each entry was in the form of a letter to my grandmother, mother, and even me, a baby. We had fled the city in February 1945 while Api had stayed behind to serve as doctor during the final period of round the clock bombing before the fall of Berlin. Starting in April 1945, he recorded his experiences every day:

“Towards evening, the sky to the east is a ghastly sea of smoke. I creep out at ten o’clock at night to the clinic under whistling grenades and bombs, a wilderness of fire and dust, behind it, although already high in sky, the blood-red moon.”

Still reading while the first light broke in the sky, I came upon something that hit me like a punch to the gut: my beloved Api had been a member of the Nazi Party. For a while I sat there with a pounding heart, unable to move, and then I hid the diaries again, just as my mother had done, not even telling my husband Mike.

Two years later, Mike and I were relaxing in a coffee house when suddenly I started to cry, and my secret burst out. To my surprise Mike said that I needed to write about the diaries and show how ordinary people get caught in a totalitarian regime. That thought kept me awake at night, and yet I couldn’t get started. It felt like a betrayal. However, for the first time in my life I began to seek out books about the Nazi period. I was surprised how historians stressed the importance of personal experiences, like the diaries, for our understanding of history. So gradually I got up the courage to write Api’s Berlin Diaries. My Quest to Understand my Grandfather’s Nazi Past.

I set out with two goals in mind. I wanted to give the reader a powerful personal perspective of what it was like in Berlin as Hitler’s Reich collapsed. Working to exhaustion in medical cellars, Api could do little for the wounded and dying. Doctors were left with few medications and without even water after the last drops had been drained from the heaters. He records in graphic detail how streets had become unrecognizable beneath the ruins so that he had to find his way over rubble and through cellars of destroyed buildings. The entire city seemed in flames, the smoke making it hard to breathe. He saw starving people cut up a dead horse in the midst of bombardment.

My second goal was to find out why Api had joined the Party in 1933. In Berlin archives, I found out more about his life. Raised in a Prussian town, he obtained a scholarship to a prestigious Berlin academy to become an ophthalmologist. The only stipulation was that for every semester he took, he had to serve a year as military doctor. The moment he graduated in 1914, he was sent to the Eastern front where he suffered a nervous breakdown and for a while was a patient at the Charite Hospital where just before he had been a student. Within a few months, he was back at the front.

After the war Api set up his own practice in Berlin. The city was torn by violence, strikes, even assassinations. Gangs of young Communists fought gangs of young Nazis; shootings were common. The Weimar Republic, Germany’s first democratic government, was unable to prevail. At the same time, the gay twenties turned Berlin into “the Babylon of the new world,” as so many tried to forget the war, the gargantuan inflation immediately after, and abandon themselves to a life of orgies and wildness. Into this world stepped Hitler. He promised to restore law and order; he promised peace and stability, and a return to Christian values. Api, I learned, fit the profile of people who joined in 1933: educated, conservative, veterans of World War I.

In the process of writing, two other themes forced themselves into the book. Finding out more about Api’s life brought up a flood of memories of living with him after the war which I hadn’t thought about for half a century. The other subject that kept pushing itself into my mind was reflections on German guilt, and Api’s in particular. His de-Nazification document categorized him as Exonerated. This was a relief to me, but at the same time I knew that it was too easy and incomplete an answer. Although I do not believe in collective guilt, I do believe that we are accountable for what happens in our countries. The words of Martin Luther King, Jr. who condemned not only the actions of the bad people but the silence of the good kept ringing in my ears.

Api's Berlin Diaries Book CoverApi’s Berlin Diaries made me confront a past I had evaded all my life. As I grew up in post-war Germany there was complete silence about the recent past. Our history classes stopped with the end of World War I. Neither I, nor as I remember any of my friends, ever questioned this silence. So now, late in life, I needed to come to terms with my German past. I had always been ashamed of being German for the country’s horrendous history of genocide and war, but I had never dealt with the guilt.

It was hard to face German guilt on such a personal level. I kept asking myself “what would I have done if I had lived in the Third Reich?” What small acts of courage or cowardice would I have committed? Would I have given the Hitler salute or dared to refuse? How far would I have been willing to go to help Jewish neighbors? I doubt that I would have had the courage to risk my life and stand up against the Nazis.

I hope that readers of today will come away with two main feelings. First, an emotional understanding of how the “volcanic eruptions” of history impacted my grandfather’s life who had to serve in two world wars and lost his only son, and how these tremors still reverberate with me in the third generation. Juxtaposed with these are my happy memories of Api who loved me and played with me, who taught me Latin and showed me how to build a kite. These passages I hope may trigger readers’ childhood memories of their own that will continue long after they have finished the book. Above all, I hope readers will feel more strongly how all our lives intersect with history. We all have a past and that past is still with us.

I hope that the ultimate take-away that sticks with my readers is one of empathy, of understanding other people’s behavior and mindset, that we may need now more than ever. This will strengthen our faith in our common humanity, in our capacity for compassion and tolerance. Although much of the diary focuses on the horrors of torture and persecution perpetrated by human beings upon one another, it also shows instances of kindness and love that testify to the power of the human spirit to breach the gulf of hate. As Api wrote even in the depth of his despair: “If love once again dwells in all human hearts then also will the life on God’s wonderful earth again become not only bearable but beautiful.”


Gabrielle Robinson Profile Photo with cat.Gabrielle tells stories about people that reveal their personal situation within its historical context.

One reason for her fascination with the intersection of the personal and historical stems from her own experience. Born in Berlin in 1942, her father’s fighter plane was shot down in 1943. After her family was bombed out twice, they fled Berlin in 1945.

To learn more about Gabrielle, the author, and the normal everyday Gabrielle with her cat named…, visit her website, https://www.gabriellerobinson.com/

You can purchase Gabrielle’s Book at Amazon by visiting the book site. Just click the logo below and it will take you to the page. And while you’re there, visit her Author Page for her other books.

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4 Tips to Set Your Book Up for Success on Amazon

4 Tips to Set Your Book Up for Success on Amazon

These days, it’s not enough for an indie author to just write a good book; you need to be able to sell it. And with Amazon as the dominant retailer in the self-publishing industry, chances are that you’ll want to — at minimum — know how to self-publish your book on the retailing giant.

Luckily, it’s not as tough as it may sound! This article will reveal four evergreen tips and tricks for publishing a book on Amazon. If you want your book to succeed on Amazon, read on.

1. Nail the content (and the cover) of your book

First things first: your book needs to be great in order to sell.

All the Amazon hacks in the world won’t do you any good if the quality of your book isn’t professional. Sure, you might convince an unsuspecting first-time reader to pick up and purchase it. But do you think they would become a repeat customer if they encountered pages upon pages of typos, bad character development, and unsatisfying plot? Chances are, probably not.

So double back and reread your manuscript to get rid of any such mistakes before you publish it. That doesn’t just mean typos; it also means that your characters, theme, and plot should be airtight. Work with a beta reader, or even a professional editor, to make sure that your book is the best possible version of itself and that it’s fit to be read by the wider public.

Perhaps most importantly of all: invest in a standout book cover design! Your cover design is your #1 marketing tool, creating the very first impression that a potential reader will get of your book. Indeed, if you’re spending your money on one thing in the entire publishing process, it should probably be a book cover.

2. Optimize your book description

After your book cover, your book description is going to be the most important factor for converting browsers into buyers. Think about it: once your cover’s gotten the attention of a reader, what are they going to do next? Nine times out of ten, they’ll flip to the back cover (or open the inside flap, or consult the Amazon blurb) to find out the premise of your book.

That means that you’ll need to make your premise as enticing, snappy, and irresistible as possible. Amazon gives you a limited amount of space to write a book blurb, so make sure you do the most with what you get. Take some time to figure out the most intriguing angle of your plot, what makes your characters truly special, and the investment-worthy stakes of your protagonist’s predicament.
And don’t forget to optimize your book description for Amazon specifically! That all starts with your keywords, which Amazon uses to index your book for searches. Don’t keyword-stuff your blurb so that every other word is “thriller,” if, say, your book is a thriller. (Amazon will penalize keyword stuffing.) But do make sure that you repeat your most important keywords in your title and description a few times to make your book more discoverable in the eyes of the Amazon search engine. (If in doubt about which keywords to choose, check out books similar to yours!)

3. Understand Amazon categories

During the process of publishing an eBook on Amazon, you’ll be asked to pick categories for your book as well. Now, there are quite a few Amazon categories — more than 10,000! So you’ll want to make absolutely sure that you select the right ones.

What makes for a perfect category on Amazon? Well, you want a category that isn’t too competitive (then your book would be crowded out), but neither should it be too obscure (then that would mean fewer buyers). The sweet spot in between is what you want to aim for, so be sure to do your research before you pick. If a category is already flooded with bestsellers, it’s probably too competitive; on the other hand, if the pickings are extremely slim, it means there’s no market for that category.

One more thing: Amazon will prompt you to pick two categories when you publish through the KDP dashboard, but you can get up to eight additional categories if you contact Amazon after your book’s been published! Don’t forget to take this step, as it’s definitely worth it. The more discoverable your book is, the more eyeballs — and therefore more sales — you’ll get on it.

4. Decide whether KDP Select is right for you

All authors face a crucial choice when they publish on Amazon: whether or not to enroll in KDP Select, Amazon’s exclusive program for self-publishing authors. Entering the KDP Select program will give you a number of promotional perks for 90 days, including access to:

      • Kindle Unlimited
      • Kindle Countdown Deals
      • Kindle Free Promotions
      • And increased royalties for sales in select countries

The catch? You’ll need to agree to remain exclusive to Amazon — meaning that you can’t “go wide” and sell your book through other retailers such as Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, or Google Play.

Whether you decide to bite the bullet and go for KDP Select depends on individual factors, especially your book’s genre and your preferred marketing strategy. If, for instance, you notice that there are only a few KU titles in the Bestsellers List for your particular genre, it might not be worth it to join KDP Select and gain exclusive access to KU.

Luckily, KDP Select is only a 90-day program, so it’s not as though you’ll be committing for the rest of your days! Nevertheless, you should definitely be informed before you sign up for it. You can read more about the pros and the cons in this post by David Gaughran Best of luck!


Desiree Villena is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors and publishers with the world’s best editors, designers, and marketers. In her spare time, Desiree enjoys reading contemporary fiction and writing short stories. She tries her best to be funny in writing and very occasionally succeeds.


© 2020- Desiree Villena Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

Book Review of World’s Apart by Blair Morrigan.

Worlds Apart: A Sci-Fi Horror ShortWorlds Apart: A Sci-Fi Horror Short by Blair Morrigan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lieutenant Cameron Joiner is faced with trying to get home from a mission to a satellite orbiting Mars when disaster strikes and leaves him alone in a crippled ship in…who knows where.

An emotional, psychological story that has a touch of mystery as you go along. Of course, he does want to know what happened, right? The more story you read the more you sense how imperative it is he fix the ship and get home before he’s the next victim of whatever murdered his crewmates.

The descriptive writing pulls you into the scenes and you feel what Joiner feels. You end up caring what happens to him and root for him to win.

Joiner goes through emotional highs to center of the her lows. Your heart gets ripped out one minute and the next you have hope.

The tension starts from the very first page and doesn’t stop until the end.

The story is about 10,000 words and is  43 pages with an 8-page preview of another story at the back. It’s a One Hour read that can be read in way less time, depending on your preference.

This is a standalone short and it could have a sequel if the author wants to do one, but doesn’t need one.

I recommend it to fans of science fiction, psychological horror, horror, Star Trek, and (James Cameron’s ‘Alien’ to Some Extent) and as the author mentions The Twilight Zone.

If you can’t write a review on Amazon make sure to do so on GoodReads or somewhere. Authors have a better chance of survival with reviews. They also use them to know what they got right or what they got wrong, which of course never happens.

View all my reviews

AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH: SHERYL J. BIZE-BOUTTE TALKS ABOUT HER FIRST NOVEL:BETRAYAL ON THE BAYOU

AUTHOR INTERVIEW  WITH:

SHERYL J. BIZE-BOUTTE

TALKS ABOUT HER FIRST NOVEL: BETRAYAL ON THE BAYOU

I want to welcome author Sheryl J. Bize-Boutte who has graciously agreed to a FOUR question interview. And I have to say this is one of the best and most timely answers to questions I’ve experienced.

SHERYL J. BIZE-BOUTTESheryl is a Pushcart Prize nominee and an Oakland, California-based multidisciplinary writer. Her autobiographical and fictional short story collections, along with her lyrical and stunning poetry have been described as “rich in vivid imagery,” “incredible,” and “great contributions to literature.” She is also a popular literary reader, presenter, storyteller, curator, and emcee for local events. Her first novel, “Betrayal on the Bayou,” was published in June 2020.

As a Southern white man, born in Florida, but raised in Mississippi, then living my entire adult life in Georgia, I am looking forward to reading Shery’s book Betrayal on the Bayou. Her descriptions in the following give one a different way of looking at the issue of “…the killing abuses of power, racism, incest, sexism, classism…”

R: Thank you for this interview, Sheryl.

S: Thank you, Ronovan, for inviting me.

R: Let’s get right into it. What was your research/inspiration for the Betrayal on the Bayou?

S: Well, Betrayal on the Bayou is a work of historical fiction, so my research was a combination of known family history heavily sprinkled with factual events from the time period I chose, along with more than a bit of my ever-active imagination. My inspiration came from my desire to tell pieces of my family history while trying to capture, even if infinitesimally, the relentlessness of racism and colorism and how it affected the everyday lives of people depicted in the book and how that is still the case today. After a recent coffee meeting with a White female writing club president, and her fervent use of the false equivalency of her blonde hair to indicate her deep understanding of segregation and bias, writing Betrayal on the Bayou, became even more urgent for me. In the book, I use strong, graphically described examples to depict the scourge and impacts of separation, colorism and racism.

R: How can today’s readers take lessons from the book and use them for today?

S: First of all, I do believe that reading promotes empathy and understanding and that those two things can lead to the promotion and hopefully implementation of change and correction of ill treatment and marginalization of Black people and people of color. It is important that people of today realize this is not a new phenomenon. That it did not just crop up when George Floyd was murdered, and more White people decided to pay some attention to it. People need to know how baked-in these beliefs are; how much work was put into separation in every facet of life; and, how there have always been Black people who lived in very different ways. We are not a monolithic people, and we all suffer some deep form of discrimination on a daily basis even to this day. I also tackle the impacts and outcomes of gender bias, economics, and other areas of everyday living in the early 1850’ s ripe for betrayal in a closed society where almost anything can happen, and let readers know that many things they may think are new, are not.

R: What else would you like readers to know about Betrayal on the Bayou?

S: That it is not the usual historical fiction fare with the characters one may look for from the 1800’s Southern U.S. Oh, they are there of course, because they are fundamental to the place and time, but they are not the center of the story. Readers will be intrigued while trying to determine what is fact and what is fiction within a dystopian yet very possibly real, isolated town. I want readers to know that the setting and the people are unusual, that the things that happen are stark and substantive, and that betrayals as well as the inhumanity and humanity will stay on your mind long after you have read the epilogue.

R: I encourBetrayal on the Bayou coverage everyone to read Betrayal on the Bayou. I found it to be… It is available at Amazon, and other vendors. For a full list of the booksellers and their links for Betrayal on the Bayou, visit Goodreads. For more information on Sheryl and her writing, please go to www.sheryljbize-boutte.com. Thank you so much, Sheryl.

S: Thank you Ronovan, it has been my pleasure.


Be sure to get your copy of  Sheryl’s book Betrayal on the Bayou on Amazon.

And be certain to check out her selection of work on her Author Page.

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www.sjbb-talkinginclass.blogspot.com

© 2020 Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

New Agent Alert: Kristina Pérez of Zeno Literary Agency

Who she is:New Agent Alert Standard Image

“Kristina Pérez is a halfArgentine/half-Norwegian native New Yorker who has spent the past two decades living in Europe and Asia. Before joining the Zeno Literary Agency in London at the end of 2019, she worked as a journalist, academic, and author. This breadth of experience enables her to serve her clients in a variety of fields and she is a very editorial agent.” WritersDigest.com  Click HERE. for the full length and informative post.

Who she works for:

Zeno Literary Agency

What she wants:

Extremely varied so see the original post as it appears on WritersDigest.com by clicking HERE. You will also see her Submission Guidelines. Very standard practice.

 

Guest Post by Author Vali Benson

How Blood and Silver Came to Be
Guest Post by Author
Vali Benson

Vali Benson imageMy name is Vali Benson and I am a published author. That still feels funny to say. Sometimes I still don’t believe it, but I just published my first novel.  It has been a work in progress for over fifty years. Ever since I can remember, I have had a book in my hand. As a lifelong reader, I often thought, “I could do better than that”. So I decided to do something about it. People have asked me to explain the writing process but I can’t. I don’t think there is a right way or wrong way to write a book. As Doris Lessing once stated that “There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be”. But I do know what works for me.

The first step is to come up with an idea. It must be something that interests you, or that you feel strongly about. No point in picking a subject that you know nothing about. You would have to do far too much research and it still would not sound like you know your subject.

Once when I had severe writer’s block, a great teacher told me, “Write about what’s in your own backyard.”  Before I forget, my advice regarding writer’s block is: don’t take it personally. Anyway, I took my teacher’s advice and turned in an award-winning essay. That was the inspiration in writing my book; a young adult historical fiction novel called Blood and Silver. The story takes place in Tombstone, Arizona. For thirty years, I have lived in Tucson, Arizona. Tombstone is only forty-five minutes down the road, practically in my backyard.

I have been to Tombstone countless times. People are fascinated with Tombstone (not so much after they visit!). Tombstone is not like other “Wild West” tourist towns, like Deadwood or Dodge City. Tombstone has only two blocks of “downtown”. People walk on the original boardwalk (with some repairs) along the main thoroughfare, Allen Street, which was, until recently, a dirt road.

The population of Tombstone today sits at about thirteen hundred. On the weekends, many of the residents dress up in western garb – as cowboys, sheriffs, frontier gamblers, proper matrons and saloon girls. At first glance, it seems as though this may be a retirement community designated for extras of John Ford films.

However, Tombstone does have one enduring claim to fame – the shoot out at the O.K. Corral.  It is called “the most famous thirty seconds in the history of the American west”. The legendary incident is a gunfight that occurred in 1881. The shoot out involved Doc Holiday, Wyatt Earp and two Earp brothers against a gang of outlaws called the Cowboys. Three men were killed, all of them Cowboys. The Earps and Doc Holiday were already famous in the old west.  The gunfight made them infamous.

The real reason people remember Tombstone is because of its enduring place in pop culture due to the twenty or so movies made about the fight. People show up from far and wide and pay a $10 admission fee to look at a dusty, dirty lot behind a run-down barn. At the actual site, people look at mannequins standing where their real-life versions stood during that fateful afternoon 139 years ago.

Once I knew the reality of Tombstone today, I wondered how it could have become so famous. I knew about the silver mines, of course, but I had no idea how massive the output was.  The profits were mind-boggling.   Millionaires were made overnight.  The silver created civilization where there was none.  At the end of 1877, one hundred inhabitants had found their way to the mines of Tombstone.  In 1884, it was a bustling city of fourteen thousand residents. The term “boomtown” was never so appropriate.

Tombstone was the largest city between St. Louis and San Francisco in 1884, with over 150 businesses, including 100 saloons, and a thriving red-light district. Apparently this arid little tourist trap, only forty-five miles from my hometown, was more important than I thought!  This information began to spin my inquisitive wheels.  I began to wonder what it would have been like to live in this obscure place in 1880. The first step was complete; I had a premise that sparked my interest.  Now, it was time for the part of the writing process that gives life to the story, research.

It is all about the research. One needs to look in unusual places, not just the top three Google hits. I love sourcing museums, libraries, newspaper archives, and even historical homes. Don’t rely on your computer only. Everyone can get that information. Not only is it not original, it is not interesting. One tip that I would like to emphasize to a burgeoning writer of historical fiction is to seek out the primary sources whenever possible. If you can work from the original source, it falls on you to interpret the story. This allows you to not have to depend on someone else’s version of the truth.

As I began to delve deeper into the true story of Tombstone, I also uncovered unexpected angles. The most prominent of which was the effect of the Chinese population. The result of this research led me to a real person whom I could never had made up, a woman named “China Mary”. This woman lived in Tombstone from 1879 – 1906 and essentially ran the town. In addition to operating a gambling hall behind her general store, she was also the preeminent broker for opium, laudanum and Chinese prostitutes. After I discovered the real-life splendor of China Mary, I made her one of my central characters and twisted my fictional story around her actual exploits. None of that could have been possible without an extensive research period.

As a writer of historical fiction, historical accuracy is the most important component of the piece to me. It is even more pivotal than the narrative. I cannot tell you how many times I have quit reading a book that claims to be factual because the information and events are incorrect. It really annoys me! It is also important to realize that research is never-ending because you can’t ever learn everything there is to know. At some point, you just have to make up your mind that you have enough to craft the story you want to write. Then start writing!  I begin writing using my research as a reference and don’t worry if I have a fully formed concept. I believe in the Jodi Picoult approach, “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page”.

Many writers believe in outlines as a method of organizing and categorizing their research. Outlines don’t work for me. I tend to be too specific.  I end up writing the whole story in my outline.  What works best for me is to simply write.  Just start, and see where it takes you.  I flesh out the characters first and I let them take me where they want to go.  I often go back and change them, but that’s the beauty of writing.  You can do whatever you want with your people, just be sure you wind it up so that it makes sense.

This is why research is so important, because if I can understand the times in which my characters live, I will shape their circumstances and attitudes into the narrative.

As far as my writing habits are concerned, I don’t have many. I just do it. I know that many professional writers say the best method is to treat writing like a regular job with set start and stop times. I’ve tried this and it never feels right. For one thing, when I get on a creative roll, it is nearly impossible for me to stop. Conversely, I cannot force an idea. When I don’t feel like it’s happening, I walk away.   I commit a lot of time thinking about my characters.   When inspiration strikes, I will sit down with my glass of sweet iced tea and see how my characters handle the new twist. I know that strong coffee is the traditional nectar of the working writer, but I need my sweet tea. The sweeter the better I say!

When your story is finished, it is time for my least favorite part of the writing process, editing. Editing is obviously extremely importanBlood and Silver by Vali Benson cover image.t but I find it terribly frustrating. Aside from the occasional grammatical error, most of my editing is about subtracting rather than addition. I choose to refer to my editing time as a tightening up period. This is when I can really focus on making my narrative flow the way that I want and make sure the story is always kept in perspective; the story that I want to tell. When is your story finished? It is finished when you think it is.  Before you begin, you will know where you will end up.  If you don’t, don’t start.  You need to have an idea where you are going.  Trust your characters to get you there.

With Blood and Silver, I put my characters through a lot and felt I told the story that I wanted to tell.   After all, I need them to rest up for the sequel.
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© 2020 Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

A Review of The Joy of Botanical Drawing by Wendy Hollender

The Joy of Botanical Gardening
A Step-by-Step Guide to
Drawing and Painting Flowers,
Leaves, Fruit, and More
WENDY HOLLENDER

The Joy of Botanical Painting Cover Image

The reviewer received this book for an honest review.

I’ve taken art classes and have books on how to draw various subject matter. Some of those books are good, and others…not so much. Amazingly, I’ve found one may use this book, it’s techniques, tools, instructions and examples across the drawing genre spectrum. Although, that’s not it’s specific intent.

I love art, I love drawing, but the years have not been kind to my hands. So, when given the opportunity to review and share this book, I gladly and hopefully accepted, with the hope of enjoying a moment to immerse back into the world of art. I have not been disappointed.

Wendy Hollender gives a brief story of what draws her to her craft and subjects, giving us permission to enjoy and delve into the same world she loves so much. I learned how to combine different tools to create these beautiful works. Hers have appeared in The New York Times, Real Simple, O, The Oprah Magazine, and others. The way Hollender approaches the drawing of flowers is excellent and something I hadn’t thought of but applies to any subject.

With each section, each flora, you learn how to take what’s learned through each section so far and add it to the next section for greater results, not only from the perspective of the details of the object but also with the use of the various kinds of pencils to use.

Even after you learn how to draw in this style you will be using this as a reference guide and refresher course, over the years.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes the art of drawing, wants to learn, or refine your craft in the botanical art world. Also, if you like botanicals in general, I think you would enjoy this book for a further appreciation of the world of flowers, fruits, vegetables, and all that go along with them.

As for a rating, I believe the book achieves what the reader expects. There is an added layer of a bit more detail than I expected, a surprise if you will in the design of flora.
With the above in mind I will give this a 4 out of 5. 4 being better than what I would expect from a book with this heading and even

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Wendy Hollender is a botanical artist, author, and instructor. Hollender’s illustrations have been published in The New York Times, “O,” The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple and The Observer (UK). Her work has been exhibited in natural history museums and botanical institutes, including a solo exhibit at the US Botanic Garden. She is the author of three books on Botanical Drawing and co-published and illustrated Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi.

She graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1976 and began a career in botanical illustration after completing a certificate at the New York Botanical Garden in 1998.

Wendy is an instructor of Botanical Art and Illustration at the New York Botanical Garden and leads workshops in exotic locations such as Hawaii, many nature preserves, botanical gardens, arts centers and colleges around the country.

Visit the authors Amazon Author Page for this book and more by clicking HERE.

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