Male Protagonist Rhys Griffin

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Meghan Holloway is currently working on a story about a WWI veteran and on a desperate search for his son in war-torn France in 1944. His name is Rhys Griffin and Meghan is here today to tell us a little about him. I don’t know about you, but I am delighted to meet him and look forward t0 reading more about his story when it comes out! Please help me welcome, Meghan.

Meghan, who is Rhys Griffin?

Rhys is a veteran of the Great War. He is a son, a widower, a father, and he followed in the footsteps of the men of his family and took over the Griffin sheep farm when his father died. He is a simple man of quiet depth, more at home in the hills in Wales than in the streets of Paris in the wake of the liberation in 1944, when my story begins. He is down to earth, calm and stalwart, not prone to temper or to effusive emotions. He is really a man of his time, and in my story, he is a man on a desperate journey.

 What are his strengths?

He is a man of great perseverance. This is a man who survived the horrors of the Somme and who spends his days toiling as a sheep farmer. He doesn’t let difficulty or exhaustion or physical pain stop him when he sets his mind to something. Once he decides to do something, he is tireless in that pursuit.

His faults?

Rhys is stubborn, and he is not very tolerant of those whose opinions differ from his. I wouldn’t say it’s a fault, but an important aspect of his character is that he is not a man who believes in forgiveness. He is searching for his estranged son not to ask his forgiveness–he still thinks what his son did was wrong–but to recapture the bond they once had and to heal the chasm between them.

What is your personal opinion of him?

Rhys Griffin is a character I greatly admire. He is masculine without having to say so, strong without having to prove it. He is a man with whom you could traipse silently and comfortably through the heathered hills. I appreciate his traditional ideals and his staunch perseverance in life. He is absolutely my favorite character I’ve written.

About Maghan Holloway

“My dearest darling …” That was how my grandfather began all of his letters to my grandmother while he was stationed in Okinawa in World War II. I never knew my grandfather, but I’ve poured over his letters. I used to draw lines up the back of my legs, just as my grandmother had as a young woman whose nylons had been donated to make parachutes, and I’ve endlessly pestered my paternal grandfather for stories of his childhood and service. The worn letters and patiently-told stories cemented my interest in history, especially in the WWII era.

I found my first Nancy Drew mystery in a sun-dappled attic at a friend’s house and subsequently fell in love with the grip and tautness of a well-told mystery. I flew an airplane before I learned how to drive a car, did my undergrad work in a crumbling once-all girls school in the sweltering south, spent a summer and fall in Maine picking peaches and apples, finished my graduate work in an all-girls school in the blustery north, and traveled the world for a few years. Now I’m settled down in the foothills of the Appalachians, writing my third and fourth novels, and hanging out with my standard poodle.

Meghan’s Website

Interview with Lou Aguilar

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I have the great pleasure in interviewing Lou Aguilar today! He is the author of Jake for Mayor.

Welcome to Layered Pages, Lou! Tell me a little about yourself and how you got started in writing.

Almost everyone who adores books has at some point thought about writing one. Most realize they’re better at enjoying literature than creating it. A very few have the discipline and talent to go the distance. By age 12, I knew I had the latter, which could lead to the former. Being the son of a renowned scholar certainly helped. I read very few children’s or young adult books (although a lot of comic books), instead devouring Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, the Three Musketeers, Greek mythology and ancient history. My first short stories featured an Ancient Roman secret agent foiling plots against Augustus Caesar. These underwhelming tales are thankfully lost forever, but the habit they engendered, and my desire to excel at it, remain.

Are there any boundaries you have pushed as a writer?

I find the current outpour of dark, edgy, morally ambiguous storytelling to be monumentally boring and, worse, artificial. Even masters of the form like Thomas Harris seem to have run out of tricks, judging by the last dud in his two-thirds brilliant Hannibal Lector trilogy. Three years ago, I realized that pleasant, uplifting fare with clear-cut male heroes and, gasp, femininely real women is as radical today as Vonnegut, Heller and Kesey were to the safe literature of their day. This was the countercultural direction I chose to take, starting with a screenplay about an anti-Christian legal case, and then my first novel, Jake for Mayor. Of course once you go this route, progressively correct censorship becomes an obstacle, more in screenwriting than fiction, yet notably there as well.

What is your writing process?

Raymond Chandler advised at least four straight hours a day for the professional writer. I’m not sure if any of my books will ever equal The Big Sleep, but one should emulate the best (minus the heavy drinking). I get exercise out of the way early, so that the need for it doesn’t haunt me when I’m writing, followed by a good breakfast. The subsequent cup of coffee accompanies my revision of the previous days’ work, while I make improvements. Then I start the new stuff. Before attacking the novel, I have written an outline of the plot in present tense (what Hollywood types call a “treatment”). I’ll naturally diverge from this as the scenes and characters take on a life of their own.

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How has writing impacted your life?

Becoming an appreciated author has given me the sense of fulfillment I’d sought since childhood. The verification that all my years of reading and philosophizing, and personal sacrificing, were not a solitary ego trip but the formation of an artist whose work gives readers pleasure and even intellectual stimulation. It has also introduced me to a wonderful new orbit of bright and beautiful book people. The only cost has been the absence of what I’d hoped to have by now – a family and financial security – but my life’s scale is now more balanced, and I can still make up for lost time.

What advice would you give a beginner writer?

A variation of my last answer. Know that by following your passion you’re deviating from the standard path to success. If you’re not good enough at this extraordinary craft, you’ll find out soon enough, and hopefully get back on a normal track. But even if you’re great, there’s no guarantee of success. You may instantly hit one out of the park, like my friend J Ryan Stradl with his New York Times bestseller first novel, Kitchens of the Great Midwest, or you may wallow for years in a bleak subsistence that makes even continuing to write difficult. You must stack the odds in your favor by blueprinting great literature of the genre you intend to enter. You don’t have to imitate it, only understand what makes it click while you find your own style.

Tell me about your story, Jake for Mayor.

It’s a Mark Twainish tale about a sophisticated political elitist with no sympathy for middle America (any resemblance to a recently defeated presidential candidate is not quite coincidental) who becomes entrapped by it then gradually enchanted. His guide from one viewpoint to the other is a delightful dog, whom he initially uses for his advantage, and pays the price for it before his ultimate redemption. The book is satiric, wholesome and short. It’s inspired by the true story of tiny Erie, Colorado, where a dog actually ran for mayor and got votes. I heard it when I was living in Venice Beach as a produced screenwriter. A stunning young woman came up to me and said she was from Erie, a writer herself, and would Disney be interested in a script about the recent mayoral race there. Looking her over, I of course said yes, and that we’d have to work closely on it at all hours. We wrote the treatment, then I wrote the script, which became one of the most popular unsold screenplays in Hollywood. I’m glad it wasn’t bought because it enabled me to elevate a cute tale into my notable first novel.

I am really big on character development. What are the habits of your protagonists?

At the beginning of the story, with everything going swimmingly for him, Ken Miller is a slick, cocky, superficial political operator to whom everything has come easily, including a beautiful rich fiancée. His reservoir of BS enables him to survive a first fall from grace relatively unchanged, knowing he can retreat to his previous comfort zone. But a second fateful drop begins to deconstruct him, and it takes a sweet animal and a strong beautiful woman to reconstruct him into a decent human being. Yet it’s his initial resistance to that redemption that creates more trouble for him, and almost dooms him.

What is the mood or tone your characters portrays and how does this affect the story?

This is a comedy so the mood and tone are humorous throughout. Even when Ken’s world is falling apart, he retains his sharp wit but turns it toward self-deprecation. For example, while sharing a jail cell with Jake the dog, he sees the animal get preferential treatment. “This is speciesm!” he says. “And I’m on the wrong end of it.” Clearly the second half of the statement bothers him more than the first.

What are the emotional triggers of your characters and how do they act on them?

The most blatant emotional trigger comes at the story’s climax, when everything is once again falling into place for Ken, but only due to his dishonest manipulation of trusting townspeople. The reappearance of his desirable selfish girlfriend, now willing to ride his train to success, even over friends, is like a mirror to his former soullessness, and an affront to his new better angels.

What is your current writing project?

 “Paper Tigers”, a politically incorrect, semi-autobiographical romantic comedy about two ambitious Washington Post interns (copy-aides), a cowboy conservative and a patrician feminist beauty, that answers the question, “Can chemistry trump ideology?” I’m a third of the way through, and can already promise heads will explode. Should be out in time for Christmas.

Where can readers buy your book?

The easiest way is online from Barnes & Noble. And thanks for the plug.

More About Lou Aguliar

Lou Aguilar was born in Cuba and lived there until age six, when his anti-Castro scholar father flew the family to America one step ahead of a firing squad (for his dad, not Lou). He attended the University of Maryland, where he majored in English, minored in film, and found both to be dependent on great writing. He became a journalist for The Washington Post and USA Today, then a screenwriter, and finally a novelist.

Lou has had three small movies produced, including the cult science-fiction filmElectra (33rd on Maxim‘s list of “The 50 Coolest ‘B’ Films of All Time”). He presently writes only “A” scripts and has a television legal drama and military thriller feature in development. Lou’s last short story, “The Mirror Cracked,” was published in a prestigious horror anthology, Kolchak: the Night Stalker Chronicles, which was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award.

Lou is single, having postponed marriage until he either made the New York Times best sellers list or won an Oscar. But that stipulation has become less binding as the bird of youth flutters away. 

Website

 

Cover Crush: Island of Secrets by Patricia Wilson

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I am not a cover designer but I can agree that cover layouts play an important role in the overall presentation of books and I must admit, often times I first judge a book by its cover.

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island-of-secrets-by-patricia-wilsonIsland of Secrets by Patricia Wilson

Pub Date 18 May 2017

As I remember, the story started at about six o’clock in the morning on the fourteenth of September, 1943…’

All her life Angie 37-year-old London-born has been intrigued by her mother’s secret past. Now, planning her own wedding she feels she must visit the remote Cretan village her mother grew up in, despite her objections.

Unbeknownst to Angie her elderly grandmother, Maria, is dying. She wants to unburden herself of the terrible story that she will otherwise take to the grave. It’s the story of the time of the German occupation of Crete during the Second World War, of horror, of courage and of the lengths to which a mother will go to protect her children and of how you learn to go on in the aftermath of tragedy. And it’s the story of bitter secrets that broke the family apart, and of three enchanting women who come together to heal wounds that have damaged two generations.

If you loved Victoria Hislop’s THE ISLAND and the novels of Santa Montefiore and Rosanna Ley, you will fall completely in love with this novel.

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Most of you by now have figured out that I am drawn to  pictures of water. Secrets on an island as part of the premise adds to the allure of this book cover. Everything about this cover including the title gives us a fascinating look at what this book holds. I have not read the story yet but I look forward to sometime in the near future.

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More Great Cover Crushes!

 Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary.

 Other great book bloggers who cover crush:

 Heather @ The Maiden’s Court

 Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede

 Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired Books

 Colleen @ A Literary Vacation

 More cover crushes over at indieBRAG!

 

Wish List 5: 1976

me-iiI enjoy putting together wish list for books I want to read and this month’s list was a lot of fun to put together. It came to me a few weeks ago to explore books that were published the year I was born. Alas, I had two minds about this. One: If I do this, it will reveal my age! Two: What the heck. Live a little. I went with the latter. Ha! A few of these were made into movies which I have seen. I thought it would be great to read the books. There are so many interesting titles during 1976 that I am wanting to take a look at. Who knows? I might do another wish list post like this in the future. Feel free to use this idea for your book blogging. Cheers!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

the-great-santiniThe Great Santini by Pat Conroy

Step into the powerhouse life of Bull Meecham. He’s all Marine — fighter pilot, king of the clouds, and absolute ruler of his family. Lillian is his wife — beautiful, southern-bred, with a core of velvet steel. Without her cool head, her kids would be in real trouble. Ben is the oldest, a born athlete whose best never satisfies the big man. Ben’s got to stand up, even fight back, against a father who doesn’t give in — not to his men, not to his wife, and certainly not to his son. Bull Meecham is undoubtedly Pat Conroy’s most explosive character — a man you should hate, but a man you will love.

 

a-river-runs-through-itA River Runs Through It and Other Stories by Norman Maclean

Just as Norman Maclean writes at the end of “A River Runs through It” that he is “haunted by waters,” so have readers been haunted by his novella. A retired English professor who began writing fiction at the age of 70, Maclean produced what is now recognized as one of the classic American stories of the twentieth century. Originally published in 1976, A River Runs through It and Other Stories now celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary, marked by this new edition that includes a foreword by Annie Proulx.

Maclean grew up in the western Rocky Mountains in the first decades of the twentieth century. As a young man he worked many summers in logging camps and for the United States Forest Service. The two novellas and short story in this collection are based on his own experiences—the experiences of a young man who found that life was only a step from art in its structures and beauty. The beauty he found was in reality, and so he leaves a careful record of what it was like to work in the woods when it was still a world of horse and hand and foot, without power saws, “cats,” or four-wheel drives. Populated with drunks, loggers, card sharks, and whores, and set in the small towns and surrounding trout streams and mountains of western Montana, the stories concern themselves with the complexities of fly fishing, logging, fighting forest fires, playing cribbage, and being a husband, a son, and a father.

the-deepThe Deep by Peter Benchley

A young couple go to Bermuda on their honeymoon. They dive on the reefs offshore, looking for the wreck of a sunken ship. What they find lures them into a strange and increasingly terrifying encounter with past and present, a struggle for salvage and survival along the floor of the sea, in the deep.

 

 

 

adolf-hitlerAdolf Hitler by John Willard Toland

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian John Toland’s classic, definitive biography of Adolf Hitler remains the most thorough, readable, accessible, and, as much as possible, objective account of the life of a man whose evil effect on the world in the twentieth century will always be felt.

Toland’s research provided one of the final opportunities for a historian to conduct personal interviews with over two hundred individuals intimately associated with Hitler. At a certain distance yet still with access to many of the people who enabled and who opposed the führer and his Third Reich, Toland strove to treat this life as if Hitler lived and died a hundred years before instead of within his own memory. From childhood and obscurity to his desperate end, Adolf Hitler emerges as, in Toland’s words, “far more complex and contradictory . . . obsessed by his dream of cleansing Europe Jews . . . a hybrid of Prometheus and Lucifer.

in-my-fathers-houseIn My Father’s House by Corrie ten Boom

Corrie ten Boom’s ‘prequel’ to the classic The Hiding Place Concentrating upon her family and their life in Holland before the war, this inspiring and revealing book describes in moving detail living above the family watch shop in Harlem and her memories of the family together before their lives changed for ever with the advent of war and persecution. Corrie believed that this life helped prepare them for carrying out God’s work later and gave her the strength to survive the war, brutal hardship and persecution and begin her worldwide ministry. This much loved book is being re-issued in B format with a contemporary cover.

Here are some of the wish lists from a few of my friends this month:

Erin @ Flashlight Commentary

Colleen @ A Literary Vacation

Heather @ The Maiden’s Court

Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede

Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired-Coming soon

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Bookish Happenings and A Confession Of A Frustrated Reader

me-iiHello my bookish friends! Not much is happening this week at Layered Pages. However, I do have my wish-list 5 and cover crush to post in the next coming days. I have been extremely busy working on another book site this week and getting things ready for next month or so. I have had two new ARC (Advance Reader Copy) galley books come in to review. I am so behind on book reviews. It is disgraceful. Alas it can’t be helped.

This past weekend I was restless with finding something to read. My mood was all over the place and I kept reading a few chapters from four different books then putting them aside. I finally came across one that drew my attention. It’s not a type of story I generally read. Although it is a thriller/mystery but it is also an Amish story. Check it out.

whispers-from-the-deadWhispers from the Dead by Karen Ann Hopkins

Some Amish communities aren’t so cozy.

Whispers From The Dead is the powerful and thrilling sequel to Lamb to the Slaughter in the Amish mystery series, Serenity’s Plain Secrets. Sheriff Serenity Adams and Daniel Bachman are once again partnered up in a criminal investigation, when they travel to a northern Amish settlement that has been riddled by arsons for the past two decades. Serenity quickly discovers that there is a lot more going on than just barns being set on fire in the touristy community of Poplar Springs. And this group of Amish has their own secrets to hide. Serenity begins to unravel an extensive criminal underworld that threatens to destroy everything that the simple people of Poplar Springs hold dear, and once again puts her own life in jeopardy. And even though Serenity tries desperately to avoid it, things begin heating up between her and Daniel, making her wonder if true love and happiness are really within her grasp.

ARC (Advance Reader Copy) Netgalley books to review…

last-hope-islandLast Hope Island

Britain, Occupied Europe, and the Brotherhood That Helped Turn the Tide of War

by Lynne Olson

Pub Date 25 Apr 2017

Description

A groundbreaking account of how Britain became the base of operations for the exiled leaders of Europe in their desperate struggle to reclaim their continent from Hitler, from the New York Times bestselling author of Citizens of London and Those Angry Days

When the Nazi blitzkrieg rolled over continental Europe in the early days of World War II, the city of London became a refuge for the governments and armed forces of six occupied nations who escaped there to continue the fight. So, too, did General Charles de Gaulle, the self-appointed representative of free France.

As the only European democracy still holding out against Hitler, Britain became known to occupied countries as “Last Hope Island.” Getting there, one young emigré declared, was “like getting to heaven.”

In this epic, character-driven narrative, acclaimed historian Lynne Olson takes us back to those perilous days when the British and their European guests joined forces to combat the mightiest military force in history. Here we meet the courageous King Haakon of Norway, whose distinctive “H7” monogram became a symbol of his country’s resistance to Nazi rule, and his fiery Dutch counterpart, Queen Wilhelmina, whose antifascist radio broadcasts rallied the spirits of her defeated people. Here, too, is the Earl of Suffolk, a swashbuckling British aristocrat whose rescue of two nuclear physicists from France helped make the Manhattan Project possible.
 
Last Hope Island also recounts some of the Europeans’ heretofore unsung exploits that helped tilt the balance against the Axis: the crucial efforts of Polish pilots during the Battle of Britain; the vital role played by French and Polish code breakers in cracking the Germans’ reputedly indecipherable Enigma code; and the flood of top-secret intelligence about German operations—gathered by spies throughout occupied Europe—that helped insure the success of the 1944 Allied invasion.

A fascinating companion to Citizens of London, Olson’s bestselling chronicle of the Anglo-American alliance, Last Hope Island recalls with vivid humanity that brief moment in time when the peoples of Europe stood together in their effort to roll back the tide of conquest and restore order to a broken continent.

Advance praise for Last Hope Island
 
“Lynne Olson is a master storyteller, and she brings her great gifts to this riveting narrative of the resistance to Hitler’s war machine. . . . Last Hope Island is a smashing good tale.”—Evan Thomas, New York Times bestselling author of Being Nixon

“A powerful and surprising account of how figures from Nazi-occupied Europe found Great Britain an essential shield and sword in the struggle against Hitler. This is a wonderful work of history, told in Olson’s trademark style.”—Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of American Lion

“You wouldn’t think that there would still be untold tales about World War II, but Lynne Olson, a master of that period of history, has found some. Not only does she narrate them with her usual verve, but her book reminds us how much we unthinkingly assume that it was the United States and Britain alone who defeated the Nazis in Western Europe. Last Hope Island is a valuable, and immensely readable, corrective.”—Adam Hochschild, New York Times bestselling author of King Leopold’s Ghost

london-calling-by-sara-sheridanLondon Calling by Sara Sheridan

Pub Date 28 Mar 2017

Description

In the years following World War II, former Secret Service employee Mirabelle Bevan has found a refuge in the quiet coastal town of Brighton. But she can’t seem to resist an attraction to danger and a thirst for justice . . .

1952: Eighteen-year-old debutante Rose Bellamy Gore was last seen outside a Soho jazz club in the company of a saxophone player named Lindon Claremont. Now her mysterious disappearance is front-page news in the London tabloids.

When Lindon turns up the next day in Brighton, desperately seeking help, Mirabelle counsels him to cooperate with the authorities. After the local police take the musician into custody and ship him off to Scotland Yard, Mirabelle and her best friend, Vesta Churchill, hop a train to London in search of the truth.

As they scour smoky jazz clubs searching for clues to the deb’s disappearance, they descend into a sinister underworld where the price of admission can be one’s life. Mirabelle will need to draw on her espionage skills to improvise her way out of a disappearing act of her own . . .

Praise for the first Mirabelle Bevan mystery, Brighton Belle

“Beneath that prim exterior lies a fearless, fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants kind of gal. One part Nancy Drew, two parts Jessica Fletcher, Mirabelle has a dogged tenacity to rival Poirot.” —Sunday Herald

“Unfailingly stylish, undeniably smart.” —Daily Record

“I was gripped from start to finish.” —Newbooks

“Fresh, exciting, and darkly plotted, this sharp historical mystery plunges the reader into a shadowy and forgotten past.” —Good Book Guide

“Early 1950s England is effectively portrayed in this intriguing mystery story . . . An excellent read for the beach or a long flight.” —Historical Novel Review

“After many twists and turns, she finally unravels the mystery in an entertaining romp pitting her wits against underworld characters and scheming impostors.” —Bookseller

“An entertaining mystery read—light, intriguing and ideal for a weekend escape. Bits of history enhance the plot without overwhelming it, and a handful of unexpected twists keep the reader guessing.” —RT Book Reviews

 

 

Cover Crush: Everything You Do Is Wrong by Amanda Coe

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I am not a cover designer but I can agree that cover layouts play an important role in the overall presentation of books and I must admit, often times I first judge a book by its cover.

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everything-you-do-is-wrongEverything You Do Is Wrong by Amanda Coe

Pub Date 19 Oct 2017

Do You Know This Girl?’

Harmony’s teenage craving for drama is answered when a body is discovered by her aunt Mel on Evensand beach. But the naked, lifeless young woman turns out – problematically – to be alive. Unable to speak or remember where she came from, the woman is named Storm by her nurses.

Surrounded by doctors, psychiatrists and policemen, Storm remains provocatively silent. Harmony is desperate to fill in the gaps in Storm’s story, while the responsibility Mel feels for the woman she rescued begins to skew the course of her own settled life. Their efforts to solve the mystery clash with the efforts of rookie constable Mason, assigned to the case and determined to help this damsel he feels to be very much in distress.

Will any of them be able to find out who Storm really is? And what if the distress belongs to everyone but her?

Everything You Do Is Wrong is a compelling exploration of how this enigma sets a family’s good and bad intentions crashing into each other, with unforgettable consequences.

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I believe this cover fits the book description nicely. I don’t often read young adult but this looks good and I love thrillers. The red scarf is a nice touch. Love the colors used and the scene it portrays. It gives a sense of foreboding doom. *Not to be morbid or anything*

More Great Cover Crushes!

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary.

Other great book bloggers who cover crush:

Heather @ The Maiden’s Court

Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede

Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired Books

Colleen @ A Literary Vacation

More cover crushes over at indieBRAG!

Historical Fiction Matters

me-iiIt is no surprise I love historical fiction. I am a history enthusiast and there is nothing like escaping to the past and exploring how people lived long ago. We often find ourselves not so different from them. Or how history repeats itself in more ways than one. Historical Fiction Writers today brings those voices to life so we might share a bond with them or better yet, learn from them. There is so much we have inherited from them. Not only our cultures, religions, social norms and wanting acceptance but a deep feeling of survival and planting more roots for the future.

We must know history to understand and to grow. Knowledge is power. We must also study history so we may not to repeat past mistakes of our forbearers. Which we tend to do regardless. The human condition is extraordinary and an enigma.

Historical Fiction does matter.

Stephanie M. Hopkins