Spare Change by Bette Lee Crosby

This story has two main characters. Olivia Westerly and Ethan Alan Doyle. What wonderful characters they are! Olivia who avoids marriage until later in life-which was unheard of during the early 1900’s-only to become a widow shortly after. Allan with many kept secrets surrounding tragic circumstances. Fate I believe brings them together. I felt such deep emotions and sympathy for them. Only hoping the best for them. Such a beautiful heart warming story. A must read!  I rated this book four stars.



Interview with Bette Lee Crosby

1. Who or what inspired you to become an author?
My mother, born and raised in the mountains of West Virginia, was not a writer, but, she was a wonderful storyteller. Not realizing that at heart I was my mother’s daughter, I studied art intent upon becoming a graphic designer. My first job was that of a packaging designer, but it was a short-lived career. Faced with an immediate deadline and a blank space where the copy should have been, I began to write. I never looked back, and it didn’t take long for me to realize that my love for words far outweighed any design skills I acquired along the way.      

2. What is your favorite book you have written and why?

Although it’s virtually impossible to narrow it down to a single book, I’m fondest of the books written in a Southern voice. Spare Change and The Twelfth Child, a book scheduled to be released this spring, are certainly high on my list. I’m obsessive about the craft of writing and I try to make every book better than the last one—so I hope that what will one day be my favorite has yet to be written. I think writers tend to favor the books that reflect the most poignant aspects of their life. For me, it’s my Southern heritage and I hear bits and pieces of my mother’s voice in all of my Southern stories.

3. Please tell us a little bit about your new book Spare Change.
Yikes, this is tough to do without letting some spoilers slip through…but what I can do is give you the opening lines of a review from the Seattle Post Intelligence—“Spare Change is a quirky mix of Southern flair, serious thoughts about important things in life, madcap adventures of a young boy and a late change of heart that made all the difference in the life of an unusually independent woman. More than anything, it is a heartwarming book, which is simultaneously intriguing and just plain fun.”

4. In Spare Change who was you favorite character and least favorite to write about?

The story starts with Olivia and she was the character my mind first created; I love her independence and off-the-wall way of rationalizing what she wants to believe, however, Ethan Allen stole my heart. I fell in love with his resilience and determination, and I grew to love him more with every page I wrote. I loved discovering that beneath his tough exterior he was a frightened child trying very hard to be brave. Ethan Allen is one character that I just can’t let go of, whereas other characters from other books have moved aside to make room for newcomers.

5. What is your next book project?

Two novels are already in the publishing pipeline, The Twelfth Child will be released this Spring and What Matters Most in the Winter of 2012/2013.  But for several months I have been struggling to find the next story I want to write, then I suddenly realized Ethan Allen was the reason I couldn’t move on. Now I’m certain of what I want to write; it is a sequel to Spare Change. A grown-up Ethan Allen is the protagonist and the story revolves around him. I can’t say more without blurting out a spoiler that might ruin Spare Change for those who haven’t yet read it. 

6. What is your favorite quote?
It probably depends upon when and where you ask me. I would love to be deep and profound like so many brilliant writers, but I’ve learned over the years that I am still my mother’s daughter – sometimes irreverent, always a story-lover, but seldom brilliant. So here is the quote that most closely reflects my own thinking…The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they’re going to have some pretty annoying virtues.” Elizabeth Taylor

7. What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Be yourself. Discover what’s in your heart and create characters you love or love to hate. Never allow yourself to follow in the tracks of another author simply because he or she sold a million copies of their book. If you stumble onto that pathway, your readers will know; your characters will sound shallow and superficial. But if you’re true to yourself and work to develop your own voice it will ring loud and true with believability. It isn’t something that happens overnight. I wrote four novels before the fifth was published, but the truth is that the first four didn’t deserve to be published, they were all part of my learning curve. So, stay with it and learn from the writers who inspire you, from the books you love, and from the books you hate. You learn something from every book you read, and sometimes that something is what not to do.  Most of all enjoy every minute you spend writing—because if you’re not writing for fun, you shouldn’t be writing.


Award-winning novelist Bette Lee Crosby brings the wit and wisdom of her Southern Mama to works of fiction—the result is a delightful blend of humor, mystery and romance along with a cast of quirky charters who will steal your heart away.

Born in Detroit and raised in a plethora of states scattered across the South and Northeast, Crosby originally studied art and began her career as a packaging designer. When asked to write a few lines of copy for the back of a pantyhose package, she discovered a love for words that was irrepressible. After years of writing for business, she turned to works of fiction and never looked back. “Storytelling is in my blood,” Crosby laughingly admits, “My mom was not a writer, but she was a captivating storyteller, so I find myself using bits and pieces of her voice in most everything I write.”

Crosby’s work was first recognized in 2006 when she received The National League of American Pen Women Award for a then unpublished manuscript. Since then, she has gone on to win several more awards, including a second NLAPW award, three Royal Palm Literary Awards, the FPA President’s Book Award Gold Medal and most recently three 2011 Reader’s View Awards, in categories of General Fiction, Southeast Fiction and Best Contemporary Drama.

Her published works to date are: Girl Child (2007), Cracks in the Sidewalk (2009), Spare Change (2011), and Life in the Land of IS…the story of Lani Deauville, the world’s longest living quadriplegic (2012).  The Twelfth Child is scheduled for release in the spring of 2012.
Thank you Bette for this delightful interview!

Giveaway: Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

Author Tracy Chevalier is one of my all time favorite HF Authors. She is a New York Times bestselling author. Two lucky winners will receive a hardback copy of this wonderful story, Remarkable Creatures. The contest ends on April 15th and the winners will be announced on April 16th.

Giveaway information:

1. Must live in the US

2. Please leave a comment with your name and email address below in the comment area to enter the giveaway.

3. 5 points if you follow my blog @ Network Blogs
(If you are already a follower of Layered Pages you will automatically receive the bonus point.)

4. 2 points if you guess my favorite book by Tracy Chevalier

5. 2 points if you read and leave a comment on one of the author interviews on Layered Pages.

6. The winners will be announced on Layered Pages and by via email.

Best of luck!


Interview with Author Helen Hollick

1.      Who or what inspired you to become an author?
Oh I have always wanted to write – I was scribbling away when I was at least thirteen. I wrote pony stories then, because I desperately wanted a pony and we couldn’t afford one, so the natural thing (I thought) was to invent one, and write stories about our adventures together.
Eventually I moved on to science fiction and fantasy, and then I discovered the wonder of writing historical fiction.
I suppose there were two major “inspirations” for me. The first was Mary Stewart’s Hollow Hills / Crystal Cave series, where I discovered that if King Arthur had existed it is more likely that he was around in the post Roman era (5th / 6th century) This appealed, as I had never been very interested in the Knights in Armour versions. And then I read Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon. Now it was a terrific book, but oh dear, her portrayal of Guinevere drove me mad.
So that was it, I decided to write what I thought should be the “real” story. The Kingmaking, the first of the Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy was the end result.
2.      What is your favorite book you have written and why?
This is hard because they are all favourites for various reasons.
The Kingmaking because it was my first adult novel, Harold the King because I love that novel (called I am the Chose King in the US) The Forever Queen (called A Hollow Crown in the UK) because it became a bestseller – my first official bestseller. And Sea Witch because I am head over heels in love with my pirate character, Jesamiah Acorne.
I suppose if I really had to choose…. Sea Witch.
3.      How do you choose your subjects to write about?
I don’t. The subject chooses me. I have no idea where the ideas come from, they just come.
4.      What is your next book project?
I am in the middle of writing the fourth Sea Witch Voyage (it’s called Ripples In The Sand) and then I am going to do a follow-on to the Harold novel – what happened after the Battle of Hastings, 1066
5.      What is your favorite quote?
 Save the Earth – it’s the only planet with chocolate
6.      What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Stop talking about “when I write my book” – get on and DO it!
I live on the outskirts of NE London, England, close to Epping Forest with my husband and adult daughter – and a variety of pets. I have been passionate about books and writing all my life. My first employment was in a local library, where I discovered the history behind the legends of King Arthur, which eventually led to the writing of my Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy, the first of my historical novels.
I have been Chair of the local Dyslexia Association and worked part-time as a School Librarian in a Special Needs school. I especially enjoy encouraging new writers to achieve their dream of writing a novel. My best advice? ‘To finish, you must first get started!’
I was first published by William Heinemann (Random House UK) but when my books were not to be re-printed I obtained the copyright and re-published with a small UK independent company as part of their even smaller mainstream imprint. The company recently closed, however, so rather than fall out of print again here in the UK I republished with an assisted publishing company, SilverWood Books, based in Bristol.
My Historical Fiction novels are also published in the US by Sourcebooks Inc and I was delighted to make the USA Today best seller list with The Forever Queen in the summer of 2011.
I have recently volunteered to become the UK editor for the Historical Novel Society Online Review section, with the ultimate aim of improving the standard of self published historical fiction novels.
I firmly support writers who decide to publish their books as either “self” or “independent”, as I feel too many excellent writers are being overlooked for various reasons. It must be emphasised, however, that to be taken seriously self published authors must produce their books to a professional standard. There is no reason why a self published novel cannot be as good as any mainstream book. Which means professional editing and production. This costs money, but quality is never cheap.
Main website       
Author of
The Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy
(the ‘what might have really happened’ story of King Arthur)
Published by Sourcebooks US
And Silverwood Books UK
A Hollow Crown (UK title) / The Forever Queen (US title)
Harold the King (UK title) / I am the Chosen King (US title)
(The first two books of a proposed trilogy regarding the people and events that led to 1066 and the Battle of Hastings – probably the most famous date in English history)
The Sea Witch Voyages:
Voyage One: Sea Witch
Voyage Two: Pirate Code
Voyage Three: Bring it Close
Pirate-based adventure with a touch of fantasy.
Hornblower meets Richard Sharpe and Indiana Jones – at sea
If you enjoyed the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, you will love these.
Thank you Helen for giving me the honor and pleasure of this wonderful interview.

Interview with Author Sophie Perinot

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

My sister gave me a shove in the direction of becoming a writer.  So, if you love my book thank her, and if you don’t, you know who to blame.  I was a lawyer at the time.  I’d wanted to be one since I was a little girl.  It was my dream job but it was turning out to be not-so-dreamy.  I knew I wanted to do something new, but deciding what to be when you grow up when you are already grown up is an angst filled business.  I don’t do angst without my sister (much as she doubtless wishes I would).  So I was on the phone with her using her as an unpaid career counselor/therapist when she said, “I know you are making up a story right now in your head.  Whatever that story is pick up your dictaphone and start saying it out loud.”  I was leaving on a family beach vacation, but I took my dictaphone along and followed my sister’s orders.  The result was my first completed manuscript.

2. What inspired you to write about Queen Marguerite of France?

I first encountered Marguerite while researching a different project.  I was reading about Notre Dame de Paris.  She and Louis jointly presented the church’s last and smallest door—the Porte Rouge—and if you look up, you can see Marguerite’s kneeling image carved over that charming door.  Anyway, in the pages of a history of Notre Dame I discovered all four remarkable daughters of Raymond Berenger, Count of Provence.  I wondered how such women, with their powerful Savoyard connections and politically significant marriages, could have slipped through the fingers of history.  The fact they had aggravated me.  So I started a file folder with their names on it, vowing to come back and tell their story.  The Sister Queens is the result of that vow.

3. Who is your least favorite character you wrote about in The Sister Queens?

King Louis IX of France.  I suspect some readers will be surprised that I don’t say Blanche of Castile.  She was certainly a harridan, and very unkind to Marguerite but as they say, “hatred isn’t the opposite of love, indifference is.”  Blanche hated Marguerite because Blanche feared Marguerite.  The Queen Mother wanted to retain her power over her beloved son.  Her motivation, while certainly not laudable, is understandable.  Louis’s indifference to and neglect of his wife seemed more sinister—at least to me.  There was no reason for him not to embrace and value his queen.  She was a lovely and educated woman with many fine qualities.  More than this, her family could have been a real asset to him.  But Louis was weak.  He couldn’t put mommy aside.  And he was also a religious zealot and used his piety as an excuse from some very unchristian behavior. 

4. What is your next book project?

Having tackled the relationship between sisters, I am working on a novel driven by the mother-daughter dynamic.  It is set in the 16th century, which is one of my all-time favorite periods in French history.  My main character is Marguerite de Valois, sister to three kings of France (Francis II, Charles IX, Henri III) and wife of a fourth (Henri IV).  Here is the tagline I am using to focus my writing:  “The mother-daughter relationship is fraught with peril—particularly when your mother is Catherine de Médicis.”

5. What is your favorite quote?

I have a quote or quip for every occasion.  Sometimes I mangle them so badly their original author would weep.  But there is a sub-genre of quotes that relate to the guiding principals of my life.  These are the ones that I bludgeon my children with.

1) Mr. Knightly on duty (which is no longer a popular virtue but is certainly high on my list):

There is one thing. . . which a man can always do, if he chooses, and that is, his duty” 

Jane Austen’s Emma. 

2) On love

Mr. Shakespeare:

 “. . . Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;”

From Sonnet 116

And Mr. Munsch:

 I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.”

Love You Forever

3) Mr. Somebody (doubtless centuries ago) on the living up to promises:

“A man’s word is his bond.”

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

To aspiring authors generally I would say it’s not enough to hone your craft you have to learn the business (unless you are writing solely for your own satisfaction).  That way when the happy day arrives and you have an agent and a book contract, the facts of life (e.g. authors need to be involved in marketing and promotion) or simple definitions (do you know what it means to “earn out”) won’t stop you in your tracks.

To historical writers specifically I would say respect history but don’t be smothered by it.  When I read a work of historical fiction I want accurate historical detail yes, but I need a compelling story.  Any academic historian will tell you that history is fluid—interpretations change and even the “facts” as we know them aren’t set in stone.  New information and artifacts are discovered.  Old theories and artifact identifications are discredited.  As a writer, you get to make choices based on evidence.  If you change something that is currently accepted as “fact,” please mention that in your author’s note.  But if you have conflicting sources don’t hesitate to choose the facts that support the narrative arch you are trying to build.  This is fiction.


Sophie Perinot was the first member of her college graduating class to declare a history major. Following her BA from The College of Wooster, Sophie earned a JD from Northwestern University School of Law. After practicing law for a number of years, her inner-artist could no longer be subdued and reinvention as a writer was in order. Given her life-long passion for history it seemed only natural that Sophie should write historical fiction. As someone who studied French abroad, and a devotee of Alexandre Dumas, French history was a logical starting point.

Sophie’s debut novel, The Sister Queens, weaves the captivating story of medieval sisters, Marguerite and Eleanor of Provence, who became queens of France and England. She is currently working a novel set in Valois France which plumbs the mother-daughter relationship.

When she is not visiting corners of the 13th and 16th centuries, Sophie lives in Great Falls Virginia with her three children, two cats and one husband.

To learn more about Sophie and her work, visit
Thanks you Sophie for giving me the pleasure of this wonderful inerview!

Interview with Author Cheryl Landmark

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

From as far back as I can remember, reading and writing have been my passions. Even as a young child in elementary school, I was constantly scribbling short stories and poems on scraps of paper and reading them to my friends. As I grew older, I started to write full-length novels in many different genres…romance, mystery, young adult and suspense in the vein of Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney. But, it was fantasy that really began to pique my interest and gave full rein to my overly-active, fertile imagination.

Probably my very first favorite author and inspiration was Carolyn Keene, who wrote the Nancy Drew girl detective series.  I read every one of her books I could get my hands on and even attempted to write a similar series of my own when I was in high school.  It didn’t get very far, but I still have the two or three manuscripts that I wrote back then.  Later on, Anne McCaffrey became one of my much loved science fiction/fantasy authors. I became besotted with her dragons the first time I read “Dragonriders of Pern” and have hungrily devoured many more of the books in the Pern series since. I have many other favorites as well–way too numerous to name them all–but a few of them include J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Brooks, Jim Butcher, J.K. Rowling, Kelley Armstrong, Stephen King, Agatha Christie, and Robin Hobb.

2.  What is your favorite book you have written and why?

Well, of course, all of my “babies” are loved and hold their own special place in my heart.  But, if I had to choose between them, my latest fantasy POOL OF SOULS is probably the one I love best so far.  It’s very character-driven, and I tried to write interesting and humorous interactions between the characters.  It’s dark and serious in places, but there is also a lot of levity and humor.  I had a ball writing it.

3.  Please tell us a little about your two fantasy books WIND AND FIRE and POOL OF SOULS.

WIND AND FIRE is the story of a young woman named Tenya, who is plunged into a world of terrifying danger and evil as she struggles to save her mother, the Mistress of the Wind, and the world of Tellaron from a Demon Master.  Tenya must quickly learn to control the power of the white fire that runs through her veins in order to accomplish her mission.

This book was originally published by Asylett Press in 2009 and has recently been re-edited, reprinted and furnished with a brand new cover on Smashwords, Amazon Kindle and CreateSpace.

My latest fantasy novel, POOL OF SOULS, follows twenty-two year old Cazlina Narzin and her loyal mare, Miris, on their adventures as they journey to join a rebellion against a renegade queen and her soul-killing talisman, the Pool of Souls, which drains the energies and life forces from its victims.

This book is also available on Smashwords, Amazon Kindle and CreateSpace.

4.  What is your next book project?

I’m currently working on a dog detective series, which I hope will be published early this summer.  After that, it’s on to a sequel to my young adult adventure novel SHADOWS IN THE BROOK.  And then…well, let’s just say I have visions of more fantasies in the near future!

5.  What is your favorite quote?

 This quote from Groucho Marx cracks me up every time I see it!

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend.  Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”

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

Never give up, first and foremost.  If your passion is writing, stick with it through thick and thin.  There will undoubtedly be times when you hit a snag and it seems like you just can’t get past that particular roadblock.  But, don’t let a temporary hitch discourage you.  Let the story percolate for a while in your head; don’t force it.  Eventually, those characters and scenes and dialogues will start flowing again and you’ll find you can’t get them down on paper fast enough!

Secondly, don’t close yourself off to constructive criticism and honest, helpful suggestions.  Be flexible and open-minded.  We don’t all become bestselling authors the first time around, or even the second or third.  We can all grow, learn and improve as we go along, so don’t become angry or resentful if a reader says they don’t like something about your book.  See if you can take something positive from it and apply it to your future writing to make your next book even better.

Thank you so much, Stephanie, for this opportunity to chat with you and your readers! 

Author Bio:

Cheryl Landmark lives in a small hamlet called Gros Cap just west of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario Canada on the magnificent shores of Lake Superior with her husband, Mike, and faithful canine companion.  She has always been an insatiable reader even as a child and that has inspired her to create her own fantasy worlds.  She particularly enjoys young adult and adult fantasy in both her reading and writing, followed closely by mystery and suspense.

 When she’s not engrossed in her writing, she is working fulltime as a sales analyst, reading, doing challenging jigsaw puzzles, or enjoying the great outdoors.

Cheryl is the author of two fantasy novels called WIND AND FIRE and POOL OF SOULS and a young adult adventure called SHADOWS IN THE BROOK.

Thank you Cheryl for this wonderful interview!