Sugar Crash by Elena Aitken

This is a story of a women name Darci whose daughter Taylor is diagnosed with diabetes. Darci is a single mother who works hard to provide her daughter with a good life and the reality of her daughter’s illness is hard for her to come to grips with. Taylor is a soccer player and she and her mother struggle with a women-once a friend-not accepting Taylor’s illness and wants her to step down from the team.

It’s truly amazing the prejudices and fear people have over diabetes. This story gives you a clear picture of what a person and their family goes through living with this disease.

Stephanie

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Interview with Author Nancy Bilyeau

1.    Who or What inspired you to become an author?

I’ve had wonderful teachers at different points in my life that encouraged me. First there was a third grade teacher who praised a report I wrote after a class field trip and mounted a sign on the wall: “Have You Heard of Nancy Bilyeau, the Famous Writer?” Then in high school my English teacher, Lorene Erickson, filled me with appreciation for good writing. After college I went on to work as a reporter and editor for various magazines, and although I’ve always been a total bookworm I didn’t think I was meant to write fiction. But then about seven years ago I was asked to join a novelist workshop run by an author named Rosemarie Santini. They had one person drop out and needed that fourth writer for the workshop to function properly. In the workshop I came up with my idea for my first novel, which became “The Crown.” I think the reason I wanted to switch over to fiction was a hungering to tell my own stories and create characters.

2.    Please tell us about your novel, The Crown.

It’s a historical thriller set in Tudor England, during the reign of King Henry VIII. My main character, Joanna Stafford, is a Dominican novice at Dartford Priory. She leaves her priory without permission to go to the execution of her cousin, a condemned rebel against the king. This decision triggers her arrest and puts her in the grasp of some of the most powerful and ruthless men of the kingdom, who force her to search for an object of mystical importance in her own priory, an object that they hope can halt the Reformation and destruction of the Catholic church.

3.    Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I wanted to tell the story of a strong, intelligent, resourceful woman who overcomes a great many obstacles in a time when many readers assume it would be especially difficult for an unmarried female to do that. I did extensive research of the lives of nuns in the late medieval and early modern age, and their independence and intellectual growth within the structure of the priory was impressive.

4.    What is your greatest strength as a writer?

I think I am good at balancing description and action. I try to use just the right detail to evoke a different place and time. Readers say they feel submerged in 1537, I take that as the finest of compliments.

5.    What are your goals as a writer?

I want to tell stories that entertain and intrigue people. I’m always very grateful when readers say they were up late at night because they really wanted to know what would happen next. But I don’t want to create page turners just for the sake of that. I want to bring complicated characters to life.

6. What books have most influenced your life?
There are so many! I’d start with Daphne du Maurier’s “Rebecca” and Norah Lofts’s “The Concubine” and Antonia Fraser’s “Mary, Queen of Scots.”  My other most cherished novels are “Persuasion,” “Anna Karenina,” “The Sun Also Rises,” “The Great Gatsby,” “The Eight,” “Possession,” and “The Age of Innocence.”

7. What is your next book project?
I’ve finished a sequel to “The Crown” called “The Chalice.” It takes Joanna Stafford through 1538 and 1539 as she gets caught up in a frightening conspiracy while struggling to cope with life outside of the priory. Most of the main characters of “The Crown” are in it, along with a lot of new people, including historical figures such as TWO women who would marry Henry VIII.

8. What is your favorite quote?
 Sir Thomas More: “If any good thing shall go forward, something must be adventured.”

9. What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Read very deeply in the type of writing you enjoy most and consider workshops where you can share your work with other authors and get constructive feedback. You don’t have to do everything they say but it will help you know if you’re on the right track!

http://nancybilyeau.com/

Bio:

Nancy Bilyeau is a writer and magazine editor who has worked on the staffs of “InStyle,” “Rolling Stone,” “Entertainment Weekly” and “Good Housekeeping.” She is a native of the Midwest, born in Chicago with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. She now lives in New York City with her husband and two children. “The Crown” took five years to research and write. It was published by Simon&Schuster’s Touchstone in January 2012, by Orion Books in the U.K. in February 2012. It is also available in the Netherlands and Italy, and will appear in Germany, Brazil, Portugal and Poland by the end of the year.
Thank you Nancy for this lovely interview!
Stephanie

Interview with Author Kathleen Valentine

1. Please tell us about your book, “Ghost of a Beach Town in Winter.”

It is actually a novella about a woman, Layla, who grew up in very humble circumstances and married a man from a wealthy family who is a college professor. She loves him but she knows she is way out of her league. Joel, her husband, aspires to be a writer and he accepts his uncle’s offer to live at and run a motel and pub in a beach town through the off-season while he writes his book. Layla will run the pub, a job she is comfortable with, while Joel writes. But as the winter wears on strange things are happening. Layla is regaled with stories from the past by some old guys who hang out at the pub, Joel is struggling with writer’s block, and a sexy, mysterious stranger is hanging around. As the winter deepens Layla feels like she is losing her bearings.

I also have a new full length novel which is due out by the end of this month called “Depraved Heart.” It is romantic suspense set on an island off the coast of Massachusetts. A century ago a tycoon built a fabulous mansion called Hathor there but it has fallen into decline since a murder that happened there sixteen years ago. The dead man was Raven Silver, a magnificent ballet dancer who was quite the ladies man. Convicted of the depraved heart murder of his brother-in-law is Syd Jupiter, a former NFL running back and the husband of Raven’s sister Rachel. After fifteen years in prison Syd is paroled and has returned to Hathor as the executor of the estate which has just been inherited by his teenage daughter. Syd hires Tempest Hobbs, an art curator who is also an empath to spend the summer there evaluating the art and help prepare the estate for sale.

2. Who or what inspired you to become an author?

I grew up in a family of storytellers. From the time I was a little kid every time people got together they would start telling stories about things that happened when they were young, about the “Old Country”, hunting stories, it was just endless. Both of my parents were avid readers who encouraged all eight of us to read. For me writing was just a natural next step from telling stories and reading. I always thought writing was about the best profession there is.

3. What is your greatest strength as a writer?

I think my writing is very sensuous. People tell me all the time that they can smell, hear, taste, see the places and people I write about. I also think I’m good at creating characters you can relate to — or dream about.

4. What books have most influenced your life?

“To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee and “A Moveable Feast” by Ernest Hemingway, without a doubt. From Lee I leaned how to make endearing characters that you can root for. From Hemingway I learned how to create a sense of place and how tiny details make prose ring true.

5. Who is your favorite author and why?

Hemingway for the reasons stated above. Daphne DuMaurier for her versatility and her fabulous sense of suspense. I also love James Lee Burke because he can create characters like nobody else. Some of his characters seem to walk right off the page.

6. What is your next book project?

I’m currently working on a book I call “The Whiskey Bottle in the Wall.” I’ve never written anything like this before — it is a collection of 10 short stories and novellas all set in the same town and all featuring the same cast of characters so, even though each story stands alone, they read more like a novel. They are set in the fictional Pennsylvania Dutch community of Marienstadt. Some stories are funny, some sad, some romantic. Most of them involve a long kept secret. i am very, very much enjoying this book.

7. What is your favorite Quote?

I’ve had this tacked over my desk for decades: “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” – Henry David Thoreau

8. What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Read. Read, read, read, and read some more. Read different authors and genres. And pay attention. Observe details, listen to how people talk. Then start writing and don’t stop.

Bio:

 Kathleen Valentine was born and grew up in the Allegheny highlands of Pennsylvania. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in The Arts and worked for over twenty years in the art/marketing departments of high-tech corporations. Since 2003 she has run her own design business, Valentine-Design.com. She is the author of “Fry Bacon. Add Onions”, a cookbook/memoir of growing up Pennsylvania Dutch, as well as 3 novels, several novelettes and short story collections, and knitting instruction books. Her blog at KathleenValentine.com has been read by thousands of readers since its beginning in July 2005.

She currently lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts, America’s oldest seaport, and is writing every day.

Thank you Kathleen for this wonderful interview!

Stephanie

The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau

Joanna Stafford, a Dominican nun in the sixteenth century discovers her cousin is sentenced to burned at the stake at the orders of King Henry VIII. She leaves the priory to go to her cousin to show her support and she is arrested along with her father and they are sent to the Tower of London. Joanna is forced by Stephen Gardiner-a horrid man-to spy for him and to find a relic. He believes this relic, a crown is at the Dartford Priory where Joanna is a nun. She is sent back to Dartford along with two monks.

Joanna starts to unravel the history of the crown and as she discovers the mystery little by little things become very dangerous for her and the Priory. Who can she trust? Who can she turn to for help? Will she be able to save the Priory and the people she cares about including her fathers life?

This extraordinary, beautifully crafted story of mystery and intrigue held me into suspense to the very end leaving wanting more. I really enjoyed the historical details that Nancy included in this novel and the mystery surrounding the relic Joanna must find.

Historical Fiction at it’s best!

Stephanie

White Heart by Sherry Jones

King Louis VIII has died and Queen Blanche de Castille has discovered disturbing news surrounding his death. Blanche’s son becomes King and they face many enemies all around them who wants the crown for themselves. Who can they trust? Will Blanche be able to save her sons crown and their lives?

I haven’t read a whole lot about Queen Blanche de Castille. Author Sherry Jones has sparked an interest in me to learn more about her. From what I read from this story. She was a beautiful and courageous women and that is rare during her time. White Heart is a wonderful and entertaining story! A must read!

Stephanie