Category Archives: historic fiction

“Shadow of Shame” by Barbara Goss only $0.99 through December 12th

shadowofshame-1Ivy Jeffries falls hopelessly in love with Jonas Armstrong, a man who has forced himself into a somewhat reclusive lifestyle owing to his sordid past.  Ivy is elated when he finally lets his guard down, and kisses her.  She thinks they are now moving forward into a relationship, when he tells her it meant nothing to him.  How could a kiss like they shared mean nothing to him, when it meant the world to her?  Then she discovers he is pulling away for a reason, to protect her.  Is the love they share enough to withstand his past and the child he is protecting?

About Barb Goss:

Barbara Masci Goss is now just Barbara Goss. Barbara Goss lives in Western New York and to date has written 22 Christian/Clean Romance books, mostly westerns. She enjoys crossword puzzles, penny slots, reading, swimming, and her two cats, but not necessarily in that order. She tries to write exciting stories with a bit of God’s word spread within, without dominating the story.

Barbara began writing in 1988 and her first book, Forbidden Legacy, won first prize for fiction at a Christian Writers Convention in Titusville, Florida, in 1989. This won her a book contract with publishers: Fleming Revell and later Baker Books. She wrote four books for them under contract. She then took a few years off to work full time as a secretary to the county hospital and the local school system.

Retired now, she is back to writing. Her first book was written on a typewriter! Since early 2015, she’s written twenty-two more delightful romances.

Barbara’s greatest influence in writing are the 100 books written by Grace Livingston Hill. As a Christian writer, she weaves a bit of godliness into the romance and adventure, yet her books are always clean. Barbara is well on her way to catching up to Ms. Livingston.

Learn more about Barbara Goss and her writing at

| Website  | Facebook |  Twitter |

Sweet Wild West Reads is a Facebook group and a wonderful place for sweet western romance authors and readers to discuss their favorite stories, thoughts, and authors. Join the group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1832790870336744/

“Mail Order Mishap” by Barb Goss only $0.99 through December 5th

final-for-mishap-imageAmber Wakefield travels to Hunter’s Grove, Kansas to meet her intended and walks into a very unwelcoming atmosphere. Charles Turner, her intended, seems cool and aloof, and his brother Garrett—downright rude. She wants nothing more than to rush back to Virginia, until Edna Smith, her chaperone, falls ill, and she’s forced to stay. She knows Charles harbors a secret, and she isn’t sure whether Garrett is her hero or her enemy. When she finally discovers the truth, she wants nothing to do with either of them. One of the Turner brothers vows to win her love. But which one?

About Barbara Goss:

Barbara Masci Goss is now just Barbara Goss. Barbara Goss lives in Western New York and to date has written 22 Christian/Clean Romance books, mostly westerns. She enjoys crossword puzzles, penny slots, reading, swimming, and her two cats, but not necessarily in that order. She tries to write exciting stories with a bit of God’s word spread within, without dominating the story.

Barbara began writing in 1988 and her first book, Forbidden Legacy, won first prize for fiction at a Christian Writers Convention in Titusville, Florida, in 1989. This won her a book contract with publishers: Fleming Revell and later Baker Books. She wrote four books for them under contract. She then took a few years off to work full time as a secretary to the county hospital and the local school system.

Retired now, she is back to writing. Her first book was written on a typewriter! Since early 2015, she’s written twenty-two more delightful romances.

Barbara’s greatest influence in writing are the 100 books written by Grace Livingston Hill. As a Christian writer, she weaves a bit of godliness into the romance and adventure, yet her books are always clean. Barbara is well on her way to catching up to Ms. Livingston.

Learn more about Barbara Goss and her writing at

| Website  | Facebook |  Twitter |

Sweet Wild West Reads is a Facebook group and a wonderful place for sweet western romance authors and readers to discuss their favorite stories, thoughts, and authors. Join the group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1832790870336744/

New Release: THE COUNTESS INTRIGUE by Wendy May Andrews

The Countess Intrigue is a 60,000 word sweet, regency romance with a thread of suspense. It is a standalone sequel to The Duke Conspiracy.

TheCountessIntrigue500x750Engaged to a rumored murderer – what’s a lady to do?

During her second Season, Lady Elizabeth Castleton is found in a compromising situation with Lord Justice Sinclair, the Earl of Heath. Despite her attraction to him, she is dismayed to find herself betrothed to the man who is rumored to have killed his first wife. Her parents refuse to lend credence to the rumors, so she is soon married and on the way to her husband’s estate.

She cannot decide what to make of the handsome earl but after an attempt is made on her life, Elizabeth is terrified that history is about to repeat itself. She determines to find out once and for all if she is married to a murder.

Can she stay alive long enough to find her happily ever after?

Purchase The Countess Intrigue on Amazon Kindle.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

The evening had already been harrowing with the abduction of her dearest friend from that very ballroom mere moments earlier, but it already felt like eons. After she had left it in the Duke of Wrentham’s hands there had been nothing she could do to help. She had no desire to stand about wringing her hands so she was making every effort to remain calm, keeping up appearances in order to prevent Rose’s absence from becoming common knowledge, in an effort to preserve her reputation. The last thing Elizabeth needed was to be seen conversing with the controversial earl. But despite every instinct shrieking for her to leave the man’s presence on the instant, she forced herself to meet his eye as she bade him good night.

His handsome face always made her blink. Well defined, with a sharp jaw and angular cheekbones. His skin looked smooth, as though he had just left the ministrations of his valet. His wide set eyes were a unique color, somewhere between blue and green, and leant an air of watchful intelligence to his beauty. She wondered if he found it amusing to be constantly faced with wide-eyed women or if he had become immune to it. Perhaps he took it as his due, Elizabeth thought absently, before she refocused her attention. She ought to be keeping her wits about her. Exhaustion from the evening’s turmoil was dulling her senses.

About the Author:

WMAndrews author picWendy May Andrews has been reading whatever she could get her hands on since the age of five. She has been writing for almost as long but hasn’t been sharing those stories with anyone but her mother until recently. Wendy lives in Toronto with her own real-life hero. When not writing or reading, they love to travel wherever the mood takes them.

Learn more about Wendy May Andrews and her writing at:

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Danny and the Alligator

Andrew WorkingMy name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. Elise has been kind enough to allow me a little space on her blog to promote my latest book, MOLLY LEE. It’s averaging 4.9 stars on Amazon. It is also available in paperback. Please check it out.

I would love to tell you all about it, but instead, I have to turn the writing duties over to my dog whose name is Danny. You see, he can be pretty insistent at times. We recently had some excitement in our lives and he can’t wait to tell you about it. For what it’s worth, this is a true story. And when you are finished reading it, please click on the link to my book and check it out. Danny is not the only genius in our household.

Danny and the Alligator

Danny at the computer.

Danny at the computer.

We slog through the antediluvian swamp, a diaphanous mist rises from the quagmire and a miasmal stench fills our nostrils. The authorities are pursuing us, though we have done nothing wrong. Well, Andrew (my human) has done nothing wrong. I, on the other hand, bit a man, a big, fat, obnoxious slob of a man. He had it coming to him. He said I was the ugliest dog he had even seen. Me, Danny the Dog!

After I bit him, he pulled out his cell phone and called the cops, but Andrew and I didn’t stick around and wait for them to show up, we hightailed it out of there pronto. Now we are hunted fugitives, with the law closing in. Andrew always told me I’d go to Doggie Jail if I didn’t mend my sorry-ass ways.

They are close now; we can hear their voices, so we pick up the pace. But the going is slow. The water is up to Andrew’s knees and up to my chin. We maneuver around a large cypress tree, and there before us is the largest alligator I’ve ever seen. In fact, it’s the only alligator I’ve ever seen. It has to be eighteen feet long if it’s an inch! Its mouth is wide open, showing the enormous teeth of the monster. I stop short and Andrew, who was behind me, trips over me and falls into that gaping, cavernous mouth. The alligator makes short work of him; now all that is left of my human is his right arm and part of his left leg.

Just kidding folks, Andrew is always telling me I can’t write fiction. I thought I’d show him I could. However, we did meet up with an alligator the other day and I would like to tell you about it.

Actually, there was more than one encounter. The first was three days ago. We were walking in the park where we go every morning. Let me stop and back up for a minute. As most of you know, Andrew and I live in Florida, and the park we go to has a sign saying, “No Swimming because an alligator lives in the lagoon.” Andrew and I never believed it; we had never seen hide nor hair of an alligator. Do alligators have hair? Anyway, back to my story.

It was before daylight, and we were walking along the lagoon when we heard a croaking sound, a loud, croaking sound. I was intrigued by it; Andrew was oblivious, as usual. I was pulling on the leash and Andrew was a million miles away, probably wishing he was getting laid more.

As we neared the sound, Andrew came out of his coma and said to me, “Where do you think you’re going? That croaking sound you are rushing to is made by an alligator, and you would make a very fine breakfast for him.” Then he yanked on the leash and started to pull me away. I, in turn, tried my passive resistance thing, but to no avail. I was unceremoniously dragged from the park. I started to walk of my own volition only after we were outside the gates.

That was day one. On day two, we heard the croaking again, and as Andrew had given up any hope of getting laid, he heard it at the same time I did. So we left the park tout de suite (that is French for right away, all at once . . . fast).

On day three (this morning), I finally had my encounter with the alligator. It took some maneuvering, but Andrew is easy to outfox. He was intent on picking up mangoes for our neighbor, Peggy, and he laid the leash down for a moment. That was all I needed. Before he could stop me, I was tearing along the shore of the lagoon, hell-bent on getting to the place I had last heard the croaking.

I rounded a curve at the far end of the lagoon, and came face to face with the biggest alligator I’d ever seen, the only alligator I’d even seen. He was not as big as the one in my fictional account, but still, he was big enough for me. I started to bark furiously, knowing my barking would drive him back into the water. However, a funny thing happened. He stood his ground, and he even took a step or two toward me. That, I hadn’t counted on. My first impulse was to turn and run back to Andrew, but that wouldn’t do. Then I’d lose the upper hand that I enjoy in our relationship.

While still energetically barking, I was wondering what my next move should be when the matter was taken out of my paws. From behind, Andrew snatched me up and started running for the street. I squirmed (but not too hard) letting Andrew know I did not appreciate being taken away from my quarry.

On the way home, Andrew told me that I would not get my daily hot dog when we returned to our boat. It was to be my punishment for running away and scaring him half to death. But when we got home, he gave me my hot dog anyway and scratched me behind the ear. What a softy he is.

About Molly Lee (from Amazon):

Molly-LeeMolly is about to set off on the adventure of a lifetime . . . of two lifetimes. It’s 1861 and the Civil War has just started. Molly is an eighteen-year-old girl living on her family’s farm in Virginia when two deserters from the Southern Cause enter her life. One of them–a twenty-four-year-old Huck Finn–ends up saving her virtue, if not her life. Molly is so enamored with Huck, she wants to run away with him. But Huck has other plans and is gone the next morning before she awakens. Thus starts a sequence of events that leads Molly into adventure after adventure; most of them not so nice. We follow the travails of Molly Lee, starting when she is eighteen and ending when she is fifty-six. Even then, life has one more surprise in store for her. Molly Lee is from the author of the best-selling novel REDEMPTION: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer.

Buy Molly Lee on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and Smashwords.

Find out more about author Andrew Joyce on:

| Andrew’s Website| Facebook| Andrew’s Blog | Goodreads |

Interview with Author Melanie Brosowski

Britbear’s Book Reviews is pleased to welcome author Melanie Brosowski with an interview in today’s author spotlight.

About Rough Ride (translated from Amazon):rough-ride-cover

Heath Arlington lives with his father and his employees on a ranch in Montana. He is a lone wolf, who likes to be alone in nature–until Cam hires him. The new cowboy constantly draws his attention, and Heath is interested in him more than he wants to admit at first. But when misfortune opens Heath’s eyes and he gets involved in an affair, Heath must question if Cam is the right man for him.

Buy Rough Ride on Amazon.

Your website says you write gay romance novels. Tell me a bit about your novels. Why write in this genre?

Rough Ride – Rough Ride to Happiness (Rauer Ritt ins Glück) is my first gay romance novel and was recently released. It emerged from a small fan fiction story. Whether I am establishing myself in this genre remains to be seen. I’m still testing it out.

The actual genres in which I write are western and science fiction. I am an author in the Ad Astra series and I’ve also written a historical novel set in Ireland and America. To date I have published more than 20 short stories and poems.

Your resume (vita) says you have been chief editor of Star Trek and the SF newsletter Incoming Message. What do those jobs entail?

Incoming Message is the monthly newsletter of www.trekzone.de. The TrekZone Network is a publication of the science fiction series Star Trek and related topics dedicated to the genre and produced by fans in a volunteer capacity. As chief editor, I am responsible for collecting various articles, as well as compiling the newsletter itself.

I connected with you over your Stingray graphic novel. What made you try a graphic novel instead of a traditional one?

This was originally only a little experiment, a jump from one Ray image with one of his quotes to multiple images with a little bit of dialogue. Unfortunately, my English is not good enough to write a whole Stingray novel, though I have written some smaller, fan fiction Stingray stories in German.

Like you, I’m a fan of Nick Mancuso and Stingray from the time it was first broadcast. Why choose an 80s television show as your content? Why Stingray?

That is hard to say. I think I liked it because it is not made ​​according to a particular formula. It’s not like MacGyver or The A-Team, where each episode has a happy ending. I especially like the mystery behind Ray, and the profound nature of the character and the series. I especially like the idea of “favours for favours”.

Your resume talks about books that have moved you. What is it about those books that interests you? Is it the author’s style, the content or the genre? Which of the three is most important to you when reading and why?

For a book to make a lasting impression on me, I have to like the style of writing. The language must also be versatile. For me, only a very few authors have managed to play with the language to paint pictures and tell the reader a good story. I will read stories regardless of the genre, whether the story is good or interesting, but they do not appeal to me when the writing is bad. In that case, I’ll put the book down and not read until the end. A book that really impressed me was From Breathing Underwater (Vom Atmen Unter Wasser). In that book, “The Miners were a normal family, until Sarah, their sixteen year old daughter, is murdered one evening on the way home. Now, one year later, the trial is over and the perpetrators have been convicted. But what happens to those who fall behind, and who cannot just go on with their lives?” It’s the look at the details, the nuances, the things that make us human, that moves me and carries me away.

Which of your books are you most proud of and why?

Rough Ride – Rough Ride to Happiness.  It was a challenge to write this book, to write about the still very sensitive topic  homosexuality. To tell a good and interesting story but also to show the readers the problems.

What’s next on your writing agenda? Can you tell me a bit about your next project?

I have two projects currently. One is a new gay romance novel. The other is a new science fiction novel in the Rex Corda series by Mohlberg  Publishing. I am also planning a small Stingray fan site in English.

What else would you like to talk about, something that wasn’t included in this interview?

I would like to thank Nick Mancuso. It is unusual that an actor would keep in such close contact with his fans the way he has.

I totally agree. 

Here’s where fans can find out more about Melanie Brosowski:

| Website | Stingray SiteBlog |

 

Book Excerpt from Long Time Passing by Ed Levesko

Please welcome author Ed Levesko to Britbear’s Book Reviews with an excerpt from his novel, Long Time Passing.

ed levesco cover 2In Long Time Passing:

Long Time Passing is set in the 60s, a time of turmoil in America. Jonathan, the main character, was drafted into an army he did not believe in, and thrust into a part of the country he did not understand. Despite all of this, he finds unwavering friendship among his fellow soldiers, and tries to deal with being exposed to bigotry and prejudice so prevalent in the south. And although an immense personal tragedy shatters his idea of who is—throwing him into years of desolation–in the end, he comes to terms with his life, and discovers love and his own humanity in a way he least expected it.

Excerpt from Long Time Passing

I stood outside the auditorium. For an instant, I felt like maybe I should just turn around, get in my car, and hit the road. It really was tempting to do that. I started to laugh to myself and decided that, what the hell, I was here, and I might as well go in. It would not hurt me to say hello. Slowly, I walked in. The place was a pretty good size. The stage was brightly lit, but where I sat in the back, it was dark and I saw Julie in the middle of the group of girls while she was showing them how to do some dance movements.

I must say that seeing her on the stage gave me a bit of a jolt. I was not sure what I was expecting to find. Julie had turned into a very attractive and lovely young woman. Slender, with very long, light, brown hair now in a ponytail. She moved with the elegance of a dancer and her svelte figure was also a surprising element. Her movements, as she was showing her students what she wanted from them, were graceful and precise. I had a tough time seeing her now mixing the images and memories of a sixteen-year old that I remembered. No doubt about it. The change was a wonderful surprise.

But I felt apprehension, too. I must admit that I thought maybe I should get out of there and just keep on going and not meet her. Her presence on that stage made me think of Leggs, again. I watched Julie conduct her class. I was impressed by the command she had of what she was doing. I have always admired the beauty and elegance of women dancers. I sat in the darkness, quietly enjoying what I saw. The class ended and her students all said good-bye to her and left the stage. She was the last one and as she started gathering her belongings, I got up and said to myself: it is now or never. So I walked down toward the stage.

As I approached, she saw me but did not recognize me and started to walk toward the back. Then, she stopped! I knew she knew it was me. At that moment, everything came to a halt. She stood still and did not turn around immediately. I could sense she was trying to get over the shock, so I did not say anything or move toward her.

Slowly, she turned around and I could see her dark eyes were glistening and she gave me one of the loveliest smiles. She was shy and seemed unable to move. I finally took the steps up and walked toward her. She kept looking at me and I could clearly see not the young girl of my past. I was now in front of a very attractive young woman who no longer seemed afraid of her own shortcomings.

I was seeing someone who had instantly changed in front of my very own eyes. It was like some kind of time machine that in one fleeting moment had transformed Julie from the shy girl that I remembered into this strange beauty. That transformation in front of me was unique, mysterious, and magical. It was how nature works. Julie had filled in the right places. I could also sense that, as she was looking at me, she was challenging me in the way that only females know how to challenge men. She had become a lovely and beautiful butterfly!

“Remember me—?” I foolishly did not know what else to say.

Time stopped. I felt a bit lost, which surprised me. I did not know why. She did not answer. She just walked toward me and embraced me. She held me close to her for what seemed a very long time. I could smell her perspiration along with her perfume and for some reason this added a very attractive and almost animallike effect to the situation. She then pulled herself away from me, looked at me, and was shaking her head.

You almost gave me a heart attack. It felt like I had to pick my heart up off the floor—how could you ever ask that question,” she said, and broke up in big smile that lit up her face with more wattage than the stage lights could ever have.

“You’re right. It is a stupid question. But how are you? You’ve changed?”

“Not that much.”

“Oh, yes. Much, so much. I’m floored by what I see. All I remember is this young, shy, girl who once acted in a play that I directed and who wrote me a poem and—”

“Do you still have it?”

“Yes! One of my few possessions that I have always treasured.”

“How long?”

“Ten years.”

“Ten years!” she said, softly. She shook her head and hugged me once again. It felt funny, for it occurred to me that there might be people who saw us and I started to laugh at my own idiocy.

“Why are you laughing?”

“I was just remembering that once you and I sat on an empty stage much like this one, and we talked about many things. Remember?”

“Of course I do. It was also when I first told you that I was writing a poem for you.”

“Yes, I remember that.”

“But you, how are you?” She kept looking at me not completely sure of what was happening.

“Well, I’m OK.”

“Only OK?”

“Well, once I’m over the shock of seeing you again I will be—I don’t know, better, happier, less fearful.”

“Fearful? Of what?” She seemed surprised.

“Of your reaction about seeing me, again. I thought that perhaps you might have forgotten me, or something—I mean it’s been so long.”

“Fear not. I will always remember you. But, what are you doing here?”

Yes, what was I doing here? It was the simplest of questions. And I found myself tongue tied with no clear answer. None of the answers would make sense. None. I was there, that was all. She was looking at me and seeing I was having a tough time clarifying within myself the reasons why I was now standing in front of her, she gave me a reassuring smile as if to say: now, that is a silly question of me to be asking you. So the truth would have to do even if it was insufficient and banal.

“I drove into town so I decided to visit the old theater. When I saw the poster of Anne Frank, I asked the GI there if he knew anything about you. He called his boss, and that led to finding out you were a teacher here. It was a wonderful surprise! I really was not looking for you. I was just curious. And, here you are. It is fantastic to see you again!”

“Jonathan, oh, Jonathan. If you only knew how many times I thought about you and—”

She stopped. I detected a doubt in her eyes. And tears came to them. She did not try to hide them and I pulled out my handkerchief and gave it to her. She took it and dabbed her eyes a bit. And she laughed.

“I’m messing up your handkerchief with my mascara and I’m also making a fool of myself. I had promised that if I ever ran into you again—a totally unattainable and insane hope just a few moments ago—that I would not act this foolishly.”

“Come on. You’re not acting foolishly.” I took the handkerchief from her and softly touched her eyes.

“There, as good as before.”

She laughed. And took the handkerchief back from me.

“I will wash it.”

“Don’t worry about it.”

“Are you going to stay for a while? I mean . . .”

“Actually, I haven’t thought much about that. I really have no plans of any kind.”

“We have much to talk about.”

“Yes, I think we do. Are you still singing, playing your guitar?”

“Less now. I’m so busy with other things. I think that in many ways, I prefer dancing to singing or playing the guitar.”

“I didn’t know you were into dancing.”

“I was doing it back then, but for some reason the subject never came up when I talked to you. So I never said anything. Can I tell you a secret?”

“Sure.”

“When I tried out for Anne Frank, I was afraid to tell you I was also interested in dancing. I was afraid you wouldn’t cast me because I wasn’t sure if for the part of Anne Frank, you’d prefer not to have a dancer. And I wanted the part in the worst possible way.”

“Really? You know, thinking about it now, I’d probably not have cast you. Dancers can be, well, how can I put it?”

She made a face. I started to laugh. And she understood that I was joking.

“I’m just kidding. I would have cast you whether you were a dancer or a chimney sweeper. You were perfect for the part.”

She started to laugh. I could well imagine then, the sixteen-year old fearful of making a big mistake for something that she wanted to do very badly.

“Anyway, from what I saw a while ago, I’d say that I loved seeing you doing it. It gave me another view of you. I discovered something I didn’t know before. I was impressed.”

“Thank you. I love dancing. It sort of allows me to express myself in a different way than through singing or playing the guitar or even acting. It also allows me to help others. I have also been back in the old theater at Fort Bragg. Some kids at school did a dance recital there once, and—”

And her voice suddenly got very soft, it sort of faded into a whisper.

“Listen, I don’t know how busy you are but if we can get together tonight, that is if you are free, maybe have some dinner before I hit the road . . . that would be fantastic.”

“Is this a date?”

She was now making fun of me. We both laughed. But there was a slight hesitation on her part. Perhaps I should have been more careful about asking her to join me for dinner. After all, I had no idea what she was doing, how she was living. Did she have a boyfriend, a husband, somewhere? Her left hand had no ring of any kind. She could have taken it off for the class.

“Well, yeah, it is a date. I mean—”

I was suddenly tongue-tied. I realized that I might be imposing on her and I did not want to do that. She waited a few moments, as if thinking, and finally coming to a decision.

“It would be great. I have other things to do but they can wait. This is such a special occasion that everything else now seems less important.”

“And your parents, your sister?”

“Only my mother—my father was killed in Vietnam.”

She stopped and looked at me in a way that seemed distant, and painful. I knew her father had been a military man all of his adult life.

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

She shrugged her shoulders in that unmistakable way we all have of not wanting to deal with unpleasant things, without wanting to wallow in our painful memories.

“My sister is fine. She turned out to be a nice person, after all.”

“Come on she wasn’t that bad, was she?”

“I love my sister. Well, only when she‘s not borrowing my clothes and I have to go after her to get them back.” She smiled at the vagaries of sisterhood.

“Yeah, I hear that can be a problem.”

“OK, I have to go home and get out of these clothes.”

“Do you want me to wait for you somewhere?”

“No, you can come with me. I have my own place.”

“Boy, you are a grown up.”

“What did you expect to find after all of these years, still that silly young girl filled with crazy dreams?”

“To tell you the truth I didn’t expect to find you. I wasn’t looking for you. I saw the Anne Frank poster with your name at the theater in Fort Bragg. It was an amazing surprise to discover you still lived here. I’m so happy that it has turned out this way.”

“Are you, really?”

“What kind of question is that? Of course I am. It’s fantastic.”

“Just checking,” she said, and she laughed. “Anyway, I went away to school, but after I graduated I decided to come back and live near my mother and sister. I thought it would be good to be near them. I thought my mother would need me. It turns out that she is very independent and is quite busy with all kinds of activities and projects that she doesn’t have time for me. Which is a good thing, really.”

She laughed a great uninhibited laugh, which made her look fresh and so young. She seemed to be free with no hang ups. I had forgotten that people can still enjoy life.

“Come, just follow me and I’ll show you where I live.”

She took my hand and I followed her. I thought, boy this is turning into something that I had never expected. When I started reflecting on things, my life was always turning, twisting, up and down. Never in a nice and straight road. We walked out of the auditorium to the parking lot where I had left my car.

“You still have your convertible.”

“Yeah.”

“You never let me ride in it.”

“Come on it’s not true. We just never had the occasion, that’s all.”

“Will you let me drive it one day?”

“Never.”

We both laughed. She stood watching the car for a moment in silence.

“OK, follow me.”

About the author:

logo ed levesko SmEd Levesko Served in far-east while in the army during the Vietnam War. Went to the Sorbonne, in Paris. Was a freelance journalist while living in Europe. Has traveled around the world. Speaks several languages. He’s working on another book. Lives in Los Angeles.

Learn more about Ed and his books at http://edlevesko.com/.

At The End of The Day by Ed Levesko – Excerpt

Please join Britbear’s Book Reviews in welcoming author Ed Levesko with an excerpt from his novel At The End of the Day.

ed levesco cover 1At The End of The Day is set mostly in Paris, a magical city that has always been a great magnet for expatriate Americans. An intense, funny, rich and unique emotional story that deals not only with the events of 1968, but also with the search by our main characters—Alex, a Vietnam veteran, turned freelance journalist; Lisa, from a set of twins, innocent but not naïve and as American as apple pie—for love, hope, self-identity, and for the place they will occupy in life. The first novel that uses the events of May ’68, in Paris, as a canvas to tell a great love story that captures, in dramatic and vivid details what happened when the City of Love is bent on crushing youth and freedom.

 

Excerpt from At The End of The Day

Suddenly, Lisa pervaded my whole life. Her energy and openness were contagious. She made me laugh and made me realize happiness is possible; one does not have to sacrifice something else, just be true to oneself. Man, why is it so damn hard to be oneself? Lisa was so incredibly without hang ups it was next to impossible to get her upset or to be upset with her. One evening, I woke up and she was bending over me, observing me. I was startled.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m watching you sleep.”

“Why?”

“Because you’re beautiful when you sleep.”

How could I not fall in love with her?

Others fell in love with her, too. It was not that she was trying to make people notice her. She was just a vibrant young woman filled with desire for life, spirited, natural, with lots of fantasy, always looking for the best and never settling for the false or the mediocre, believing it was better and more practical to think of the glass as half-full than half-empty. I had so much to learn from her. I wanted to learn from her.

We spent lots of time just walking around Paris visiting museums, and art galleries, discovering restaurants, little bistros, special places that always seemed like havens for lovers. It was how we discovered Chez Berthillon, on I’Île Saint Louis, the best place for ice cream and marron glacés, the delicious, glazed chestnuts. And La Rhumerie, on Boulevard St-Germain-des-Prés, where they served wonderful, exotic, and delicious rum-based drinks both hot and cold—so many unforgettable and rich experiences.

Part of falling in love in Paris is exploring the city together, making it yours, letting the city encircle you with this wonderful sentiment of happiness and joy reserved only for people who are in love. The city of lovers made for lovers. I always think Paris was invented to protect lovers. Lisa wanted to see Place de la Contrescarpe, a place Hemingway had made famous in his writings about Paris, so we spent one entire evening there talking to a couple of clochards—tramps. They were touched we wanted to talk to them. We sat at a sidewalk table and shared a bottle of wonderful wine and some ham sandwiches with them.

We talked about nothing and about everything. Afterward, Lisa and I walked by the Parthenon and marveled at that magnificent monument dedicated to honor and safeguard very famous French citizens’ remains. There are some wonderful apartments around the area, and we wondered about the people who lived in them, whether they were as happy as we were. We decided nobody could be happier than we.

“I’m sure they have more money than we do,” she said. “But we have the whole city of Paris and our love for each other, and if they knew about it they would be jealous of us.”

“Do you think so?”

“I know so,” she said, and kissed me. Late one evening, we stopped by Shakespeare & Company, the bookstore in the Latin Quarter also made famous by Hemingway in his writings about Paris. He used to borrow books form Sylvia Beach, the woman who ran the store. There had been other writers, during the twenties that Sylvia helped. One that comes to mind is James Joyce, the author of Ulysses. She became his publisher. After browsing a bit, we left the bookstore. As we came out there was a guy selling paintings of Shakespeare & Company, so Lisa bought a small one and gave it to me.

“There’s a lot of history in that place,” she said. “We should have asked the man inside if one can still borrow books.”

“Do you want to go back?”

“No, we’ll come back some other time.”

“Yes, we must.”

On another occasion, we went to the Latin Quarter to see Kubrick’s latest film: 2001. The film was so overwhelming we spent half of the night talking about it. Then we had dinner at a small Tunisian restaurant. We were the only clients there. Afterward, she wanted to find a small hotel and stay there for the night and not go home. Unbeknownst to me she had made a reservation at a quaint Parisian hotel, and we pretended we were star-crossed lovers and this would be our only night together in Paris. In the morning, we would say goodbye and go back to our dreary lives.

“It will be like in Crete,” I said. “This time we’ll never see each other again.”

“Oh, no, that’s too sad.”

“Well, maybe we would run into each other around noontime,” she said, laughing.

“OK, that’s much better.”

The night clerk at the hotel gave us a pretty room on the top floor overlooking the Parisian rooftops. We slept with the curtains open so we could see the rooftops first thing in the morning. But the weather in Paris was now turning into its usual damp, wet, cold, and along with the weather I was also turning damp, wet, and cold.

I found myself looking forward to Christmas, hoping it would help me through the days, even though Christmas is not my favorite time of the year. There were moments when I woke up filled with morbid thoughts about everything; even Lisa’s presence was not enough to lift my spirits. I had asked myself so many times why I was this way. The answer always eludes me and seems to exist in another time, another dimension, out of my reach and understanding.

Lisa, in her artful way, knew better than to question, though I soon learned that for her the things I brooded about were just as important for her as they were for me. She argued the difference was she did not take them to mean they were there to make her life miserable. One dealt with those imponderables within one’s own capabilities. Rome had not been built in one day. People would always be people.

Life, more often than not, was not going to change overnight. One did what one had to do and went on with the things that mattered. As for the rest, one gave it one’s own best and that was all that was required. To be brooding about it was not only unhealthy, but also made it worse. The larger picture was what one had to keep in mind.

One evening, toward the end of the year, we were invited to have dinner with José and Ulla. José, born in Puerto Rico, grew up in New York City. He was a flamenco guitar player who had come to Paris and had been living the bohemian life. He had survived by playing his guitar in the Métro, collecting a few bucks here and there until one day some guy heard him play and asked him to come to this nightclub for an audition. He was hired on the spot.

Ulla, who came from Sweden, had gone to the club one evening and met him. Since Ulla was also in the same class at the Sorbonne with Lisa, the two had become fast friends. José and Ulla came to Lisa’s birthday party. I liked him right off the bat because he was smart, fearless, and a very talented musician. The nightclub where José performed was owned by a group of musicians from Spain. José thought they were gypsies.

They were surprised by the way he played and could not believe he was self-taught. He had never taken a guitar lesson in his life. When José played, the guitar became an extension of him and after a while it was hard to tell where one ended and other began. He had arranged, as a complete guitar solo, a well- known concerto by the Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo—“Concierto de Aranjuez”— and he played it magnificently. The musicians were blown away.

“I wanted to do it like Miles Davis did with his trumpet in his “Sketches of Spain” recording and not like this French guy who had put lyrics to the music, which I hated,” José said.

“Oh, it’s not so bad,” Ulla said.

“It’s terrible. Anyway, the guys at the club hired me, though what I was trying to do was no great shakes. The fools.”

We all knew better. The people who hired José were no “fools.” Some years earlier, Joaquin Rodrigo had been a visiting professor at the University of Rio Piedras, in Puerto Rico. José read about this and convinced his parents to let him go by himself from New York and attend a couple of Rodrigo’s lectures. That was the easy part. The hardest part was convincing the university to let a non-student— a sixteen year old kid still wet behind the ears—attend any of the lectures. Nothing doing, they said.

José went anyway. And one early morning he stood by the front door of the building where the lectures were held. When he saw the composer, he introduced himself without preamble and told him why he was there. Rodrigo was surprised and impressed by the kid’s brashness, plus the fact that José spoke Spanish. So Rodrigo agreed to let the kid attend a couple of his lectures. The powers that be did not like it one bit, but they were not about to argue with Rodrigo.

When José came to Europe, he had hitchhiked to Spain to pay a visit to the composer. Rodrigo remembered him and had been surprised and delighted when José had suddenly shown up at the door. He was invited by Rodrigo and his wife to have dinner with them. They told him they admired his courage and his commitment to the guitar, to the music. He could visit them anytime. For José, this was one of his proudest moments—one of the highlights of his young life.

“Did you play for him?” Lisa asked José.

“No. He didn’t ask me. I was ready. But with someone like Rodrigo you wait to be asked. I’m sure I would have been scared, but I would have given it my best shot. Can you imagine having an open invitation to Rodrigo’s home?”

“Will you go?” I asked him. “You bet. And maybe next time I won’t be so scared about asking if I can play for him.”

He had a photo of him and “Don Joaquin” as José called the composer. Rodrigo’s wife had taken the photo and sent it to José. Rodrigo had written: “Suerte matador.” José believed that since that day his luck had indeed improved. The words were a blessing of sorts from the world famous blind composer.

The people at the nightclub kept telling José that his kind of playing only happens on rare occasions. They kidded him that it was probably one of their gypsy ancestors who went to the New World and carried the seed from which José sprang. The only problem with that theory was that his father was black and his mother was a Russian Jew who had named him in honor of the doctor who had saved his life in a complicated delivery. The group did not believe José. They preferred their own version.

He was asked to join the ensemble. So José found himself gainfully employed and part of a newly acquired and extended family made up of a wild, lovable, and talented bunch of musicians. Lisa and I had gone to listen to the group, and it was fantastic. It was hard to imagine the four guys had been playing together for just a few weeks. They had the place jumping, and Ulla told us that every night they played it was the same story.

The dinner that evening was special because José and Ulla were going to Stockholm to visit her parents. Afterward, they would travel to Spain, where he and the group had been invited to play in a flamenco music festival. It was a great honor to be invited, and even more so for a guy like José who was not Spanish. It was just the kind of wonderful news that makes everyone happy. We could not believe it. José could not believe it.

“One day, this guy showed up at the club and told us we had to be at the festival. It was actually more of an order than an invitation. The other guys told me that even if I were dying, I still had to go. This is the ultimate. Manitas de Plata was once honored by them,” José said, beaming.

Manitas de Plata was a Spanish flamenco guitar player, one of the best, which is why they called him “Silver Hands.” He had a huge following in Paris. It was said, that whenever Picasso wanted to hear flamenco music he would ask Manitas to come and play—two old Spanish masters listening and learning from each other.

“How do they select you?” Lisa asked José about being invited to the festival.

“They won’t tell you. You know how gypsies are: very secretive.”

“Are they really gypsies?” Lisa was curious.

“Of course not,” Ulla said.

“Of course they are,” José said.

“He’s just saying that because now he’s a member of the group,” Ulla said. “I know they are gypsies or Roma as they call themselves. Or Gitanos as they are called in Spain. Just look at the way they live.”

“How do they live that makes them gypsies? Lisa asked.

“They’ve got this big apartment, and there are all kinds of people walking in and out day and night. I don’t know how anybody gets any sleep there. The whole building is like that—a big and happy family. All they do is talk, play their guitars, make up these beautiful, haunting songs about lost love and home in the old country. It’s in their blood. When you ask them where this old country is, they get a misty and faraway look in their eyes, and let me tell you for them it’s this mythical, magical land filled with music, love and happiness.”

“That doesn’t make them gypsies,” I said.

“Alex, if that doesn’t I don’t know what does,” José said.

“The only thing I know is that I wish I could play the guitar the way you do,” Ulla said wistfully, and I knew just how she felt.

“Only if you are a gypsy,” he said.

“You’re not a gypsy,” Ulla said.

“Yes, I am.”

“I’ve heard of Russian madmen named Boris, Ivan, Sasha, but José for a Black-Russian-Jewish-Puerto Rican gypsy?” Ulla said, shaking her head.

“That’s the ticket,” José said.

 About the Author:

logo ed levesko SmEd Levesko Served in far-east while in the army during the Vietnam War. Went to the Sorbonne, in Paris. Was a freelance journalist while living in Europe. Has traveled around the world. Speaks several languages. He’s working on another book. Lives in Los Angeles.

Learn more about Ed Levesko and his work at http://edlevesko.com/.

Author Interview with Jamie Adams

Britbear’s Book Reviews welcomes Jamie Adams, author of the newly published The River of Gold for an interview in today’s author spotlight.

river-of-gold-jamie-adams-coverFrom the Goodreads book description:

The River of Gold is set in Colorado during the 1890s. When a prospector’s spirited daughter sets out to finish her father’s work she encounters a rugged cowboy and a southern gentleman. Both vie for her heart, but which one will she choose?

Buy The River of Gold on Amazon.

Welcome, Jamie. Your books are about pioneer settlers. What draws you to that particular time in history?

I think maybe I was born in the wrong century. Actually, I was 11 when the television series The Little House on the Prairie started. the Ingalls family and The Waltons were weekly staples in our home. Also, my father was a John Wayne fan and if one of his shows was on, you can bet we were watching. As a writer I’ve found the standards and morals I identify with [were] more acceptable during that time in history. I’m old fashioned and swoon at the idea of the cowboy riding of into the sunset with his lady. I can’t help it. I know readers prefer strong female characters, so I strive to make them brave and bold, but who doesn’t want to be rescued by a handsome hero?

How much research do you have to conduct before writing a historic novel? What is the most interesting thing you learned as a result of your research?

I love researching the past. While working on my first book, Love’s Golden Quest, I spent hours/days researching wagon trains and loved every moment. It was very interesting to learn how families survived while part of a wagon train. Our countries history is so fascinating, the pioneering spirit admirable. I do most of my research as I go. I’ll write something and wonder if a particular item was available at that time in history or how something as simple as washing dishes was done in the 19th century.

How does Christian romance differ from mainstream romance?

There really isn’t that much of a difference. A mainstream novel will most likely reach a broader audience than its Christian counterpart because of the inspirational value. To me a Christian romance does not imply a love story with a sermon. The story should not be preachy. In any romance your characters have internal and external struggles that they must overcome to be free to love fully. Only in a Christian romance, you expect less emphasis on the physical elements of the relationship and more on the emotional. Of course that’s only my opinion, but I like to think a Christian romance is a satisfying love story that I can pass on to my teenage daughter. I have a core group of readers that let me know they appreciate the work I do and I keep them in mind as I write.

On your Amazon author page you say, “Little Women by Louisa May Alcott opened [your] imagination and sparked a dream to be a writer.” What, exactly, was it about that book in particular that made you want to be a writer? How has Little Women influenced your writing style?

I’ve always been a dreamer, both day and night. I have vivid dreams and recall most of what took place in my head while sleeping. I remember waking up one night at the age of ten and thinking ‘Wow, that one would have made a great movie.’ Little Women was the first novels I read as a young reader and I identified with Jo. I felt a connection with her need to put her words on paper. With that said, the book had more of an influence on my desire to write than my style of writing. I read a lot of western romances and imagine my voice is a blend of several of my favorite authors.

I know exactly what you mean with the movie thing. Some of my best stories come from a seed planted while asleep and dreaming.

On one of your blog posts you say you collaborated with two other authors. That sounds like an interesting experience. Can you explain a bit about the collaboration process?

Yes, it was so much fun. My critique partners all live in the next state over. When we decided to work on a project together we chose a town within driving distance of all of us – Mammoth Spring, Arkansas. We read up on the town’s history and plotted a three book series about sisters whose parents owned a hotel during the Victorian era. The concept is based on two real life competitive hotels that no longer exist. Each book centers on one of the three sisters. My writing partners and I met in Mammoth Spring and explored to get a feel for the location. I had the middle sister and her story appears in Wishes and Whims. I’m also the middle sister and like me, my character was a daydreamer. It was so much fun we did a second series based in Warsaw, MO, and are now plotting a third series.

On your booklookbloggers.com page you say, “Recently I have become swept up by the Amish Fiction movement.” What is it you find interesting about this genre?

I admire their strong faith and hard work ethics. I wouldn’t want to go without electricity or indoor plumbing, but love the value they place on family.

You are a graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature. What was it like being a part of this program? If you could describe one lesson you took away from the experience, what would it be?

I enrolled before we had the Internet. The lessons came in the mail and I had a writer/teacher who scored my lessons and showed me where I needed to improve. This was my first attempt to become an author and I had a lot to learn. The most important thing I learned was to show the reader what the character is experiencing.

In your opinion, what is the hardest part of writing?

It’s not really hard, except for maybe the most important part – getting the story from my head to the ‘paper’ in such a way the reader can see what I see.

Besides Alcott, from which books and authors do you take inspiration and why?

Dean Koontz is one of my favorite authors. I’ve read almost all of his books. He takes the impossible and makes it believable. I also like to read Karen Witemeyer and Mary Connealy. They both know what it takes to keep the reader entertained in a western romance.

Before we sign off, is there anything else you’d like your readers to know about you and your books?

The River of Gold is my newest release and has a very strong heroine. She’s taken over her prospecting father’s work and runs into road blocks when she meets two men. One’s a cowboy who thinks she’s got no business being out on her own and the other a gentleman who wants to help her find the gold. One isn’t what he seems and her life is in danger. Right now I’m working on a time travel western. It’s a bit different than my other books and I’m loving every moment of it. A modern day hike sends a group of young woman back to a ranch in the year 1881. It’s full of twist and turns that I hope readers will enjoy.

Sounds really interesting. Sign me up for a review copy!

While we’re waiting for Jamie’s next book, here’s how you can find out more about her and her writing:

| Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | Pinterest | Amazon Author Page |

About Jamie Adams:

jamie adams author photoFrom her Amazon Author Page: Jamie Adams fell in love with books at an early age. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott opened her imagination and sparked a dream to be a writer. She wrote her first book as a school project in 6th grade.

A graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature as well as member of American Christian Fiction Writers, The Writing Desk and several critique groups she spends most of her time writing, reading or learning more about the craft near to her heart.

The parents of three very active children, she and her husband live in the Ozarks surrounded by forest and wild life.

 

Interview with author John Hazen

Hello and welcome to John Hazen, author of Journey of an American Son, for an interview in today’s author spotlight.

From Amazon’s book description:

Journey_of_an_American_Son_full_cover-3_copyIn 1920, the chance to travel to India on a business trip is a great boon for a smart and talented young man. Until he wakes up in a Calcutta jail, framed for murder.

Benjamin Albert is a brilliant rising star at his firm, a war hero and a loving husband and father. But when his own government turns its back on him and leaves him to rot in prison 8,000 miles from home, his wife Catherine must take matters into her own hands and battle a ruthless and unscrupulous corporation abetted by a corrupt colonial government.

Timeless issues like racism, anti-Semitism, nationalism and women’s rights are exposed during Catherine’s race to save Benjamin.

Buy Journey of an American son on Amazon and Black Rose Writing.

Buy John Hazen’s suspense-thriller Fava on Amazon and Black Rose Writing.

Buy Dear Dad by John Hazen on Amazon.

Hi, John. Tell us about your inspiration for writing Journey of an American Son.

The inspiration for Journey of an American Son literally fell into my lap. Some time ago, my wife and I were going through some boxes and came upon a diary my grandfather had kept on a business trip he took from Boston to Calcutta India in 1920. I remember my grandmother telling me about the trip and the set of teak wood elephants he had brought back that she prominently displayed in her home for years. This, however, was a day-by-day accounting of the journey. As you can imagine, such a trip back then was rather arduous involving trains, steamers and even rickshaws as he worked his way across Canada, across the Pacific to Japan and then around the rim of Southeast Asia. The diary itself is rather dry—my grandfather was a somewhat puritanical New Englander after all—but it did have the occasional nugget to keep it interesting such as an encounter with a group of lepers and being on ship with a silent film starlet. Reading through the diary planted a seed in my brain that this would provide an ideal setting around which I could build a story.

Sounds like a wonderful premise for a novel. All of your novels are based in historic times: Fava deals with events on 9/11; Dear Dad, the 1960s and 1860s; Journey of an American Son, the 1920s. From where does your interest in history come?

To tell you the truth, I never really thought about where my love of history came from; I can’t remember not having it. I recall sitting through World and U.S. History in high school where, while some of my classmates were bored out of their skulls, I sat there taking it all in and writing copious notes. If I had to pinpoint a source, I’d have to say my parents, my father in particular. He was a nut about the presidents and their times. Both of my parents would also talk about our personal history as ancestors on both sides came to America in the 1600s.  My father was especially partial to the story about his great-grandfather who was killed in the Civil War, three days after Lee surrendered at Appomattox.

Did you have to do much research when writing Journey of an American Son? What was the most interesting thing you discovered?

I had to do a fair amount of research to try and make the feel for the times accurate. The book spans a generation, starting in the ghettos of Eastern Europe, through the immigrant-clogged streets of America to the Far East and colonial India. Having the diary helped a lot, but I had to do a lot of extra reading to provide authenticity to the book. I think the most interesting things I learned that I didn’t know before pertained to colonial India and the First World War. What I knew about colonial India I’d gathered from the film Gandhi and, while I’ve always been a bit of a fanatic when it came to the Civil War and World War II, I was rather uninformed when it came to the Great War. It’s always fun for me to learn about new historical eras.

Do you ever have to travel to scope out a location for a scene? Describe one such trip and what you learned from it.

My wife and I have traveled throughout the years and I try to weave in my observations and experiences into my writing. Our favourite place on earth is Paris and you’ll find Paris scenes gleaned from our travels in both Fava and Aceldama. I’m sure Paris will find its way into my future books. I can’t say that I ever set out to a place with the idea that it would someday be a part of one of my novels. Rather, I’ll observe wherever I may be and store incidents and observations for later use in my books.

Back to Journey of an American Son. How would you classify it with respect to genre(s)? Why do you choose to write in this genre?

All of my novels, including Journey, would be categorized as suspense, more specifically historical suspense. It just seems to be the genre I’m most comfortable with. There are times I think I’d like to shift gears and try something a bit lighter, but overall I’m generally a serious person and this genre fits my personality. I also want my books to be something more than just a “good read” (which coincidentally many people have advised me they are), but I like them to have some deeper meaning. Journey, for example, even though it’s set in the 1920s tackles timeless issues that we still grapple with, such as racism, anti-Semitism, women’s rights, nationalism and immigration. For me, the genre of historical suspense provides me an opportunity to get this across.

What about the main character(s) in Journey of an American Son? What makes s/he/them so special?

Whenever I can, I like a character to have characteristics of someone I know. It tends to provide authenticity. The main character of Journey, Benjamin Albert, is an amalgamation of the personalities of my father, my father-in-law and my grandfather. His parents, Molly and Harry Albert, were created from various stories my wife has told about her grandparents. Other characters, Ben’s wife, Catherine, for example, come completely from my imagination. I also like to create people that I would want to know. Catherine is one of my favourite all-time characters, mainly because of the way she grows throughout the book. Several people have told me that they appreciate the strong women characters I present in my books. Well, I believe that Catherine is one of my strongest. It’s not that she starts off weak, but even as her world crumbles around her, she becomes a force to be reckoned with.

Tell us about Aceldama and Fava 2, your next projects. From all of your books, why choose Fava as the one with which to write a sequel?

Aceldama is actually the first novel I wrote, over a decade ago. But when I couldn’t get any takers from the publishing or agent worlds I just kept on writing. For some reason I shelved Aceldama as I self published Dear Dad and then Black Rose Writing agreed to publish Fava and then Journey. It’s time to dust off Aceldama and get it ready for publication. A summary of Aceldama is:

After returning from a romantic trip to Paris with Anna, his wife, Tim Harrington’s life slowly ebbs away. His doctors are baffled. Anna comes to believe an ancient curse may be the cause.  Desperate to save her husband, against all logic, she embarks of an extraordinary journey that leads back to Paris and across the centuries to a Roman soldier, a twelfth century sailor, a French Revolution-era nun and a mysterious unseen man. Ultimately, armed only with love and conviction, Anna comes face-to-face with a power far beyond her—or anybody’s—comprehension.

I’d like to say that I completely planned that Fava would be a series but unfortunately I’m not that organized. It just happened that some of the plot and character lines were left open enough at the end of the book that a follow-up book seemed natural. Also, the lead characters—news reporter Francine Vega and FBI Special Agent Will Allen—lend themselves to ongoing adventures in the spirit of Bones and Castle.

Speaking about the book world, what have you found to be the most powerful tool when publicizing your books and building your author platform?

I have to admit that I’m absolutely terrible at publicizing and promoting myself. I have a website that is desperately in need of updating and revamping. I’m trying to get a presence in social media by building up Twitter following and have joined numerous Facebook groups. I also appreciate forums such as the one you offer here to get my name out there. However, a part of me is naively old-school and I’m still counting on the quality of my work to carry the day, but alas, I do realize that the books aren’t going to sell themselves.

Since you mentioned it, do you prefer to read (old-school) hardcopies or(newfangled) eBooks and why?

All-in-all I love the feel of a book in my hands and the physical act of turning pages. But, given that much of my reading is done during my commute to and from work and I’m going to have an iPad along with me anyway, eBooks have a certain appeal in that I’m not having carry the additional weight of a book in my bag.

Is there anything else you’d like for us to know that wasn’t covered in this interview?

Nothing really. I just want to thank you, Elise, for the opportunity to chat with you today.

My pleasure, John. I’m looking forward to reading the books.

Here’s where readers can learn more about John Hazen and his writing:

| Website | Facebook | Twitter |

John_HazenJohn Hazen came to writing novels relatively late in life, but once he started he hasn’t looked back. Degrees from Rutgers, The New School and New York and NYU buttress a lifelong passion for learning and a love of history. Inspired by Lynn, his wife of over thirty years, he pursued the dream of becoming an established author and is now working on his fifth book. John and Lynn love to travel, and the experiences of those travels find their way into his writing. John’s reading tastes are eclectic, ranging from histories to classic novels to an occasional piece of modern trash. His absolute “must reads” are Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series and Doris Kearns Goodwin’s No Ordinary Time.

Book Review: The Invention of Wings

the-invention-of-wings-sue-monk-kiddWhen Sarah Grimke, in Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings, is gifted ten year old slave Handful for her eleventh birthday, her first order of business is to set her free, an act that horrifies her parents. It is the first step Sarah takes on the road to becoming a full-fledged abolitionist. Set in Charleston in the early 1800s, Sarah not only believes her family’s insistence at keeping slaves is wrong, she also believes the subjugation of women wrong as well. Young Sarah wants to be a lawyer like her father and brothers. She refuses to believe all that was meant for her in life is marriage, having children, and socializing with Charleston’s upper class.

Sarah’s story alternates with that of Handful who, like Sarah, refuses to accept her lot in life. Handful believes herself better than the way she’s treated, in large part due to Sarah’s inculcating her beliefs about equality in her. While Sarah lives in fear of losing her father’s approval, Handful lives in fear of being whipped or worse, but both women persevere in their attempts to change the world and promote equality for women as well as people of colour.

Sue Monk Kidd’s story is told with a parallel structure. At first, the two protagonists are hard to tell apart. But as Sarah ages, her diction changes and it is easier to discern between the two. One might think an upper-class teenage white girl would have nothing in common with a slave of comparable age, but Kidd manages to find common ground. Sarah and Handful are portrayed for all intents and purposes as sisters, in an effort to demonstrate no matter your skin colour or walk in life, we are all related as members of the human race, each and every one of us worthy of respect.

Of especial interest is the afterword, for that is where Kidd shares her research with her reader. Though Kidd took poetic license with some of her research, much of the plot is based on a true story. I was surprised to learn Sarah Grimke and her blood sister, Angelina, were real people who sacrificed their positions amongst the Charleston elite to speak out against slavery and women’s rights. Both of them were revered speakers and activists who fought for equality for most of their lives.

The Invention of Wings is an incredible read. At times light-hearted, at times tragic, Kidd’s narrative is gripping and straightforward, weaving together real-life with fiction in this tale of the roots of the human rights movement in America.

Mamabear gives this book:

five-bears