Blogger to Blogger Series: An Interview with Donna from Heron There & Everywhere

This week on my Blogger to Blogger series I want to highlight a blog that I have enjoyed following called Heron There & Everywhere. Donna’s blog posts are very eclectic, filled with book reviews and commentary about her everyday life. There may even be a couple of posts about her friendly neighborhood squirrel thrown in for good measure. Donna and I share a love for rock star romances and the author Mariana Zapata. We have even hosted a blog book club reviewing Ms. Zapata’s book Kulti (still one of my all time faves!). I have come to appreciate Donna’s discussions about her own life, learning to live with my own struggles while watching a blogger friend go through her own. If you haven’t ever visited Donna’s blog, please do! You’ll come to appreciate her honesty and taste in good books just as I have!

Click this link to visit her blog! Heron There & Everywhere

Here are Donna’s answers to my 10 questions.

Blogging is universal and even though we inhabit the same community, we don’t always live in the same country. What country do you live in?
Donna: I live in the United States. I was born and raised in upstate New York (Rochester). I’ve been here my entire life, never lived anywhere else, and never really wanted to.
What is the view outside your front door? 
The view outside my front door is a little forlorn these days. My twenty-three year old “squirrel tree” is no more. It had split down the middle and had to go. All that’s left is a pile of wood chips and the sunflowers sprouting from the seeds the squirrels had buried around the tree trunk. At least I have the flowers as a cheery reminder of the sweet squirrels who used to sit on my front step. (I still have the squirrels – fewer in number – they’re out in the backyard now).
Donna's Yard
Most blogs have a quirky name and a fun story of origin. Please share the story behind your blogs name?
Heron There & Everywhere comes from the saying “here, there and everywhere”. My blog was always meant to be a bit of a mixed bag. It was originally ‘Reflections from a Middle Aged Lady’ on the Blogger platform. It was merely my random thoughts and observations. My book review blog and squirrel blog were separate blogs (and I’ve since folded them all into one). I got my first tattoo (a heron) because they are my favorite bird. When I moved to WordPress and set up my domain, my husband suggested the play on words because I love herons, and I wanted to show that I was going to write about a little bit of everything.
Describe where you write your blog. Include a picture if you’d like!
Believe it or not, I write most often on my phone. I jot down ideas in the notes app on my iPhone as they come to me. That way I don’t lose the thought while it’s fresh, and I can either cut and paste it into the WordPress app on my phone or on my Mac desktop.
Most of us have a stack of books sitting next to our couch or bed waiting to be read. What books are in your stack? (Include a photo if you’d like!)
I’ve pretty much switched over to all kindle books. I have books on shelves in my room, but I’m not currently reading any of them. Here’s a screenshot (or two) from the Kindle app on my phone. (My iPhone is my best friend).
Donna's Kindleoooh boy this is a lot of books! Let’s just pick a couple to get a feel for them…
The Copper Smith Farm House by Devney Perry

One old farmhouse brought them together. It could also tear them apart.

Gigi has just uprooted her whole world to start a new life. The unexpected gift of a farmhouse in small-town Montana is just what she and her daughter need to escape big-city loneliness. The last thing she needs is attitude from the town’s sheriff, the most perfectly attractive and ruggedly handsome man she’s ever laid eyes on—and a complete jerk.

Jess knows all about women like Gigi. Beautiful. Sexy. Scheming. She’s stolen his sanctuary, the farmhouse that should have been his. But along with a face full of freckles, she’s got a sharp wit and a backbone of steel—something he doesn’t discover until after making a complete fool of himself. If he can earn back her trust and win her heart, he might just find the home he’s always needed.

Atticus: A Woman’s Journey with the World’s Worst Behaved Dog by Sawyer Bennett

A heart-warming and deliciously funny story about the world’s worst behaved dog and how he trained his human how to love herself again.

Through the haze of vodka and self-loathing, Hazel Roundtree saw the poor creature lying in a ditch.

One brown eye. One blue.
Covered in mud and crying from pain, the puppy was desperately trying to free itself from a hopeless situation.

She almost kept walking by. She had her own problems and besides… no one had ever stopped to help her.

Who we’re ultimately meant to be is a journey without end, but there’s always a defined start…

Hazel had no idea the dog would be her beginning, her second chance, the miracle she never saw coming. She named him Atticus. He grew up to be a very bad–and completely awesome–dog. He took Hazel on a life-changing journey filled with mischievous adventure and painful heartbreak. In the end, Hazel grew up to be completely awesome, too.

Night Shifts Black by Alyson Santos

His name is Luke. But nobody knows that. He was an iconic musician before he gave up music. But nobody knows that either. They also don’t know he’s twenty-seven, that he used to have an infectious laugh, and that he’s way too young to be widowed. They certainly don’t know the rest of his tragic story. All they know is that he comes into their café at the same time every morning and stares at the same chair at the same table. They know he’s strange. They know he interrupts their breakfast with a cold blast of air as he hovers in the doorway, mustering the courage to confront a piece of furniture.

No one asks why. No one cares. He’s fine with that. He’s done with life. This isn’t even his story anymore. It’s actually Callie’s, the young writer who sat in his chair one day.

This novel is a work of fiction and intended for mature readers. Events and persons depicted are of a fictional nature and use language, make choices, and face situations inappropriate for younger readers. Please note this book also addresses the issues of depression and suicide in a compassionate, realistic manner. This book can be read as a standalone, but the story continues in Tracing Holland.

If you have had a bad day and want to spend an hour reading a book, what is your go to genre or favorite book that will lift your mood?
I read mostly contemporary romances, and I’m still trying to write the same. I really have to be in the mood to read, and then I devour everything in sight. Right now I’m going through a non-reading stage. It happens every so often. I don’t often re-read books, but one series I have read more than once is Kylie Scott’s Stage Dive series. That series just really did it for me.
Stage Dive
To purchase a Stage Dive book, click this link!

Lick (A Stage Dive Novel)

When you aren’t blogging, how do you spend your time? Work, Play, School?
I work full-time plus (I’ve been working a lot of overtime) as an Administrator at a large law firm in the Intellectual Property department. I handle patents and trademarks. I work on my drafts of romance novels pretty much non-stop in my spare time. I’m also learning how to play electric guitar. I just bought an Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro model. I love my guitar. I also listen to lots of rock and metal music.
Donn's Guitar.jpg
What is your favorite blog post you’ve ever written? Please include the link!
This was a difficult question to answer! The posts I like usually don’t get much love from others. And posts I’m only so-so about get lots of traffic and likes. My review of Kulti by Mariana Zapata was one of the most fun to do because I did the review in concert with two other bloggers. Two of us loved the book; the third reviewer hated it! That was a real surprise. But there again, this post only got five likes.
I’ve learned to write and post what I like and not to worry about what others might think reading it. I write for me.
Have you ever met one of your favorite authors? If so, what did you say to them? Looking back, what do you wish you had said instead?
No, sadly not many authors come through Rochester, and I’m not a big traveler so I don’t get to see them at book conventions or big city bookstores. I’m more of a rockstar fangirl. That started in the early 1980’s. I stood outside a record store in the rain for about an hour to try to meet Motley Crue when they opened for Ozzy Osborne. Sadly before my cousin and I even got close to the door, the in-store autograph session was over and both bands had left.
I did do a meet and greet with country music singer, Trace Adkins years ago in Mentor, Ohio. I remember telling him I’d seen him three times that summer and he said, “Man, you must be getting bored!”
This coming September I’ve signed up for a meet and greet in York, Pennsylvania with Alice Cooper’s guitarist, Ryan Roxie. I plan to tell him I’m taking his online beginner guitar lessons! I thought that would be cool. I can’t wait to meet him!
If you could sit down with an author for a slice of cake and a question, who is the author, what kind of cake would you serve, and what is the first question you’d ask?
It would be JK Rowling and chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. I’d like to ask her why she chose to write that awful Casual Vacancy book! It was so vulgar and disappointing after Harry Potter! It was as if she chose to write the exact opposite of what she was known for just to shock people. I’d love to know the real story behind that one. I suppose we should be glad she’s still writing, even if it’s not my cup of tea anymore.
Casual Vacancy
You can really get a flavor for how eclectic Donna’s blog is by the answers to her questions!  I’ll admit, I’ve already purchased the first book in the Stage Dive series she mentions above. I love a great Rock Star romance! LOL
Donna mentions her own love for Rock and Roll and meeting a few rock stars. It brought back memories of my own most famous rock star moment with Gene Simmons from KISS at a convention. He asked to take a picture with me and my friend Sheri, also blonde. As he had his arms around the two of us and was smiling for the camera, he asked us if we’d kiss each other. LOL. Yikes!
Feel free to share your own Rock Star moment, even if it’s just in your own imagination! LOL
Thanks for reading!
Deb
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Blogger to Blogger Series: An Interview with Kat from Life and Other Disasters

This week in my Blogger to Blogger Series I am highlighting Kat from the blog Life and Other Disasters. Kat loves to talk about the TV shows she’s watching, the books she is reading and shares other tidbits about her life. Her blog is a lot of fun and when you check it out you will take a deep dive into Kats life and thoughts.

Check it out by clicking this link! Life and Other Disasters

Let’s get to the questions!

Blogging is universal and even though we inhabit the same community, we don’t always live in the same country. What country do you live in?

KAT: I was born and raised in Austria, where I still live to this day even if I do disappear for a couple months to go elsewhere every now and then. I could very much imagine moving away someday, maybe to an English-speaking country.

What is the view outside your front door? (Include a picture if you’d like!)

KAT: I live in an apartment complex, so the view really isn’t that great. I like that we are on the top floor, even though a lot of the surrounding area is now under construction with more apartments already there or coming soon, which has kind of ruined the view a little bit. I used to be able to see hills in the distance and that’s unfortunately not happening anymore.

Most blogs have a quirky name and a fun story of origin. Please share the story behind your blogs name?

KAT: I wish there was a good story to my blog name, but I think that the movie title “Love and Other Disasters” just always stuck with me and I adapted it into “Life and Other Disasters” for my own uses, especially because I didn’t want the blog name to just be about books.

Describe where you write your blog. Include a picture if you’d like!

KAT: Hmmm … there’s definitely not one place in particular I tend to write my blog at. I sometimes lounge on the couch, other times I am at the desk in my room, then I just make it work on my bed and if I am in the right mood, I even write at Starbucks. Although I prefer to work on my book when I am there and not on my blog.
(I’ve included a picture that shows the backside of my closet with character aesthetics for my book “Arcadia” as well as some of the pillows on my bed)

writingspotbedKat

Most of us have a stack of books sitting next to our couch or bed waiting to be read. What books are in your stack? (Include a photo if you’d like!)

This is a mix of the books I am currently reading or about to read as well as my sketchbooks for drawing and painting.

nightstandbookKat

Want to check out the books on her nightstand? Read the Synopsis’ below!

Synopsis: The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?

It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.

The prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in ’80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.

A sweeping novel of remarkable ambition and depth, The Immortalists probes the line between destiny and choice, reality and illusion, this world and the next. It is a deeply moving testament to the power of story, the nature of belief, and the unrelenting pull of familial bonds.

Synopsis: Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2) by William Ritter

In 1892, New Fiddleham, New England, things are never quite what they seem, especially when Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, R. F. Jackaby, are called upon to investigate the supernatural.

First vicious shape-shifters disguise themselves as a litter of kittens, and a day later, their owner is found murdered. Then in nearby Gad’s Valley, now home to the exiled New Fiddleham police detective Charlie Cane, dinosaur bones from a recent dig mysteriously go missing, and an unidentifiable beast starts attacking animals and people, leaving mangled bodies behind. Charlie calls on Abigail for help, and soon Abigail and Jackaby are on the hunt for a thief, a monster, and a murderer.

Synopsis: Only Human by Silvain Neuvel

Brilliant scientist Rose Franklin has devoted her adult life to solving the mystery she accidentally stumbled upon as a child: a huge metal hand buried beneath the ground outside Deadwood, South Dakota. The discovery set in motion a cataclysmic chain of events with geopolitical ramifications. Rose and the Earth Defense Corps raced to master the enigmatic technology, as giant robots suddenly descended on Earth’s most populous cities, killing one hundred million people in the process. Though Rose and her team were able to fend off the attack, their victory was short-lived. The mysterious invaders retreated, disappearing from the shattered planet . . . but they took the scientist and her crew with them.

Now, after nearly ten years on another world, Rose returns to find a devastating new war—this time between humans. America and Russia are locked in combat, fighting to fill the power vacuum left behind after the invasion. Families are torn apart, friends become bitter enemies, and countries collapse in the wake of the battling superpowers. It appears the aliens left behind their titanic death machines so humankind will obliterate itself. Rose is determined to find a solution, whatever it takes. But will she become a pawn in a doomsday game no one can win?

If you have had a bad day and want to spend an hour reading a book, what is your go to genre or favorite book that will lift your mood?

KAT: If I had a bad day, there are generally two options for me. One would be to indulge the bad mood and go into something very emotional like a family drama or some sort of tragic love story. However, the other option would be to really just dive into a light and fluffy YA contemporary. Something that wouldn’t require too much thinking but mainly entertainment.

When you aren’t blogging, how do you spend your time? Work, Play, School?

Admittedly, I do spend A LOT of time on my laptop. I am currently working on my own Fantasy book (it’s called Arcadia and if anyone is interested you can find more details on it here: https://lifeandotherdisasters.com/2018/02/05/lets-talk-about-arcadia/) and I am obsessed with TV shows, so I definitely have a screen with me at most times. I also really like to draw and have indulged in that hobby more and more lately.

What is your favorite blog post you’ve ever written? Please include the link!

My favorite blog post banner

Last year I went abroad and didn’t have as much time for blogging during that time as I used to have. My content changed a lot and I struggled to know my place in the community, which lead me to write a post about “blogger identity”. It was something that really weighed on me at the time, but it helped me so much to put my frustration into words. I feel like I have found my way since, but the support at the time was really helpful.

Discussion Time: Blogger Identity

(I think we can all identify with an identity crisis on our blogs! I certainly have!)

Have you ever met one of your favorite authors? If so, what did you say to them? Looking back, what do you wish you had said instead?
I haven’t really met any of my favourite authors yet, as they don’t really tend to visit my country a lot. However, I have had the opportunity to see Nicholas Sparks and Cecelia Ahern, who were both very nice. There wasn’t really time to say much, as the line was pretty long and we were ushered along quickly. I am pretty sure I thanked them and told them which book was my favourite, but I don’t wish I had said something more.

If you could sit down with an author for a slice of cake and a question, who is the author, what kind of cake would you serve, and what is the first question you’d ask?
I would give right about anything to meet Pierce Brown, so he would definitely be the author I’d want to meet. I am not sure which cake he likes the most, that would need some research I don’t have the resources for right now, but my go-to-cake would be the red-wine cake after my grandma’s recipe. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love that cake. And lastly the question, I think I’d go with something really stupid like “How do I get a part or job on set of the adaptation of your books?” and then I would immediately laugh it off and take it back, while in all honesty, I would love to be on that set.

I loved getting to know Kat a little bit better! I can see we share a love for YA and Fantasy novels. I have had both William Ritter’s Jackaby series and Pierce Brown’s Red Rising series on my TBR forever! It’s always nice to hear how much someone loves an author, it makes me want to just reach for that book next, doesn’t it? Oh, and Kat, I’m dying to try that red wine cake. Would you share the recipe?

Thanks Kat!!

Do you share Kat’s taste in novels? If not, I’d love to hear what books are on your own nightstand!

Deb

Blogger to Blogger Series: An Interview with The Orang-utan Librarian

When I started blogging one of the first bloggers I followed was The Orang-utan Librarian. She writes great reviews and has the most amazing discussion posts, I almost always jump in with my own ideas and answers. Her topics make me think and I LOVE that! When I came up with this idea to highlight my fellow bloggers I knew I wanted her to be my first interview.

If you haven’t checked out The Orang-utan Librarian’s blog, please go take a look!

THE ORANGUTAN LIBRARIAN 

10 Questions Blogger to Blogger with the Orang-utan Librarian

  1. Blogging is universal and even though we inhabit the same community, we don’t always live in the same country. What country do you live in?

TOL: Sunny England- except that it’s not even remotely sunny ;

2. Most blogs have a quirky name and a fun story of origin. Please share the story behind your blogs name?

TOL: Yes, sure, I’m a fan of Pratchett, so I named the blog after his character The Librarian… who happens to be an orangutan 😉

3.Describe where you write your blog. Include a picture if you’d like!

TOL: Just at my desk or the dining room table. Annnd there won’t be pictures because *it is a mess*!!!

4. Most of us have a stack of books sitting next to our couch or bed waiting to be read. What books are in your stack? (Include a photo if you’d like!)

TOL: Hehe I have hundreds of books next to my bed… JK, I do have my kindle though and a couple of physical books I plan to read next (apologies for the dreadful photo). Although I say plan to read next, Curse of Chalion and Master and Margarita have literally been on my TBR for *years* (and this isn’t the first time I’ve put them on my bedside table to pressure myself to read them)

bedside table books blogger to blogger

Synopsis: The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold

A man broken in body and spirit, Cazaril returns to the noble household he once served as page and is named secretary-tutor to the beautiful, strong-willed sister of the impetuous boy who is next in line to rule. It is an assignment Cazaril dreads, for it must ultimately lead him to the place he most fears: the royal court of Cardegoss, where the powerful enemies who once placed him in chains now occupy lofty positions.

But it is more than the traitorous intrigues of villains that threaten Cazaril and the Royesse Iselle here, for a sinister curse hangs like a sword over the entire blighted House of Chalion. And only by employing the darkest, most forbidden of magics can Cazaril hope to protect his royal charge — an act that will mark him as a tool of the miraculous . . . and trap him in a lethal maze of demonic paradox.

Synopsis: The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

The Master and Margarita (Russian: Ма́стер и Маргари́та) is a novel by Mikhail Bulgakov, written between 1928 and 1940, but unpublished in book form until 1967. The story concerns a visit by the devil to the fervently atheistic Soviet Union. Many critics consider it to be one of the best novels of the 20th century, as well as the foremost of Soviet satires.

5. If you have had a bad day and want to spend an hour reading a book, what is your go to genre or favorite book that will lift your mood?

TOL: Oh gosh on a bad day it’s got to be contemporary YA. That’s the best time for some lighthearted fluff.

6. When you aren’t blogging, how do you spend your time? Work, Play, School?

TOL: Okay I’m going to try and answer this without getting majorly self-deprecating. The basic lowdown is: I have a job, write whenever I can and hang out with friends. When I’m feeling especially *wild* I read books (I know, I live dangerously 😉 )

7. What is your favorite blog post you’ve ever written? Please include the link!

TOL: Oh gosh- that’s a hard question! Probably an unexpected choice, yet I’ll always love the satirical piece I did called “Why Satire is Evil”.

(Totally funny post! If you haven’t read it, click the link. Why Satire is Evil.)

8. Have you ever met one of your favorite authors? If so, what did you say to them? Looking back, what do you wish you had said instead?

TOL: Well I got to meet Malorie Blackman when I was 12 and that was awesome. That’s over ten years ago now, but I still remember a lot of what she talked about in her speech and jumping up to be first in line to get my book signed after. I can’t remember for the life of me if I said anything to her beyond squeaking my name- but I figure I’d probably do the same if I met any author now- so no change there. What I regret is not having her sign all my books (I was trying to be nice, cos there were loads of people behind me, but now I wish I all my Noughts and Crosses books were signed LOL!)

Books by Malorie Blackman:

9. Do you have any blogging goals for the next year?

TOL: Nope- other than the fact I’ve got to take a break soon, I’m thinking I’ll just wing it.

10. If you could sit down with an author for a slice of cake and a question, who is the author, what kind of cake would you serve, and what is the first question you’d ask?

TOL: Hard question on every front- I mean, the only thing that’s harder than choosing just one author is picking just one type of cake! I want to say banana cake… but that would be a lie. Though don’t get me wrong, I love banana cake and that’d be a hilarious conversation starter, it’d be chocolate all the way. Lots and lots of chocolate! And the author would probably Philip Pullman, just because he’s awesome and I feel like he deserves some cake!

Thanks so much for answering my questions Blogger to Blogger!

TOL: Thank you so much for hosting me Deb!

I’ve learned a lot about The Orang-utan Librarian but I’ll admit that for every answer she gave I probably had two more questions. Maybe we should grab a virtual cup of coffee and have a real discussion sometime!

Is there a question that you’d like me to ask in my next interview? Write it in the comments and I’ll choose one of your questions to ask!

I hope you’ve enjoyed our Blogger to Blogger chat!

Deb

This Chicks TBT: Review of Eliza Waite and Interview of Author Ashley E. Sweeney

It is the two year anniversary of the historical novel Eliza Waite by author Ashley E. Sweeney. This novel is now in it’s third printing and won the 2017 Nancy Pearl Book Award. I thought it would be fun to help this author celebrate her anniversary by re-posting my review and interview with the author. I hope both the review and interview intrigues you into trying or re-reading this fabulous novel.

REVIEW:

This is a fascinating story of a young woman who survives tragedy and reinvents herself at the turn of the 20th century.  The setting changes from the Missouri social scene, to living a tough life on one of the San Juan Islands, to Skagway Alaska during the Goldrush of 1898.  Eliza Waite, as did many women of her time, had very little control over her life living under her fathers roof.  It was only after her marriage and the tragic loss of her husband and son that she started to make her own choices on the type of life she wanted to lead.

First time author Ashley E. Sweeney paints a historically accurate view of a woman on a journey of self discovery.  In a time where the Woman’s Suffrage Movement was just beginning, and only a few states allowed women the right to vote, I was fascinated with the idea of a woman striking out alone amidst unruly and rough men, surviving relatively unscathed, and in fact, building a thriving business.  You can tell that the author researched each area and the people who lived there pretty thoroughly.  She even starts out each chapter with a recipe for an item that Eliza has baked, or will bake that seems, without my trying to bake one of them, to be a real recipe.  The measurements using teacups instead of cups.  A touch, that adds charm and realism to the story.

I loved the every day accuracy of this novel.  This was not a book that created a false warmth for the Alaska winter.  This book had Eliza, dressed in threadbare clothing freezing as the wind whipped through her clothing, had miners smelling just awful, dirt squishing through toes and sores becoming infected.  The contrast on my senses when Eliza wI as able to buy a new pair of gloves and her fingers were warmed.  The smell of cinnamon permeating the air when she was baking, and light flashing from the fireworks helped set the scene in a realistic manner.  The good and bad were contrasted so spectacularly, that even though every moment was not fun to read about, it made the end game that much more enjoyable.

As a woman, I enjoyed seeing Eliza come to the realization that life’s experiences may not be easy, but it is better to take on the unknown alone, make her own choices and possibly make her own mistakes.  This ultimately led her to a growth and happiness that she otherwise wouldn’t have known.

Eliza Waite

The following was an interview I did with Eliza Waite author Ashley E. Sweeney in 2016.

Me: Hi Ms. Sweeney, thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to interview you about the release of your new novel Eliza Waite. When I read your bio on your website, ashleyesweeney.com, I was not surprised that you had a journalism background because of how descriptive you wrote Eliza’s journey. That must have taken an incredible amount of research. How long did it take you to prepare yourself to write about Eliza and her life in three such disparate settings?

AES: The genesis for Eliza Waite came to me after discovering an abandoned cabin on a cross-island hike on uninhabited Cypress Island in Washington’s San Juan Islands in the fall of 2008. Near the cabin, a plaque commemorates a Mrs. Zoe Hardy, who lived alone at Smuggler’s Cove in the 1930s. A recluse, Mrs. Hardy died mysteriously and her body was never found. I decided that day that a novel set in that locale could be equally mysterious and intriguing. I developed a character study and plot arc soon afterwards. The core of the story evolved over the first two years. The story grew with Eliza and Eliza grew with the story. It was especially interesting researching the Alaska portion of the novel; I traveled to Skagway and Anchorage to conduct interviews and pore over archival media: books, photos, essays, magazines, diaries, and cookbooks from the late 1800s. I finished Eliza Waite in late 2014. So it’s been an eight-year journey from conception to publication!

Me: As I read your novel, Eliza Waite, I identified the most with the Eliza that lived in Skagway Alaska, because by that point she was well on the way to self discovery, as I am in my own life. Which Eliza did you identify with the most? Why?

AES: I identify most with the Skagway Eliza. After Eliza makes the move to Alaska on her own, she blossoms from an ungainly, unattractive woman into a confident, beautiful one. Her unlikely friend Pearly and her growing sense of accomplishment and success help her along. By the end of the novel, Eliza has evolved in many ways while still retaining her innate persona. I believe that her transformation would not be as inspiring had she not had such a difficult past.

Me: Eliza had to overcome a lot of adversity; taken advantage of by her uncle, forced to marry and move to a reclusive island, and living on her own in the Klondike where lawlessness was the rule. Through it all, baking was how she found peace. The recipes that started out each chapter, were they real? Where did you find them? Did you ever test one out?

AES:  Yes! As Eliza is a baker first as avocation and later as vocation, I felt the need to bake and taste all the authentic pioneer recipes included in the novel. Many of the recipes came directly from 1880s newspapers. Because pioneer recipes do not include oven temperatures or baking times, much hilarity ensued as members of my book club, neighbors, family, and friends tried to replicate recipes in modern kitchens. But the results turned out surprisingly tasty, and I invite readers to try these recipes for themselves. My favorites are Miner’s Snickerdoodles and White Vegetable Soup.

Me: Even as a young woman living under her fathers roof in Missouri, Eliza had a strong will and liked to exert her independent thinking about women’s rights. As she moved across the country, the movement became stronger, as did Eliza’s opinions. How hard was it to write a fictional tale about a woman during that time, that included the Women’s Suffrage movement, and not force the story to be about the movement itself?

AES: Eliza represents an “everywoman” of the late 19th century because of the restrictions on her marriage prospects, finances, and careers. What sets Eliza apart is that she defied convention and struck out on her own. I was never enticed to make the novel into a women’s suffrage novel, although this cause was important to Eliza and all women in the late 1800s. I wanted to expose all the barriers a woman faced at that time. When we look at myriad issues that face women today—notably reproductive rights, equal pay for equal work, glass ceilings—these issues are part of the whole of our collective culture, and a novel set today might touch upon all of the those issues.

Me: Eliza faced evil in each place that she lived, yet she was able to draw from a core of strength, and move past it. Many authors would have used this theme of good vs. evil to make a religious statement. Yet, you chose to have Eliza draw strength, not from God, though she believed in him, it was her belief in herself that carried her through those difficult times. That resonated with me so strongly. Did you draw on a situation in your own life that made you write about Eliza’s strength of character in this way? Or was it just Eliza’s natural progression?

AES: In the spring of 2005 I suffered a tremendous blow to my personal and professional psyche when a superior at work wrongly judged me. I faced a crossroads at that time: Do I stand up for my integrity and move on? Or do I accept the false accusation and continue on in the status quo? It was both the easiest and the most difficult decision of my life; easy because I could not accept a smear to my integrity for something I did not do, and difficult because in doing so I was forced to leave a job I loved. I drew on strength that I did not know I possessed to get through the next two years, which included major transitions in my life. Faith played a large part in this journey. In this same way, Eliza also had to dig very deep over a five-year period, both personally and through prayer, to muster the courage and energy to take her life on a new, different, and exciting pathway.

Me: I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by asking about the end of the book, if you think otherwise, please let me know. It seemed that after everything she’d been through, and how much she had protected herself from men throughout the book, that she fell in love so quickly at the end of the book. I believe in timing, the right man, and love at first sight, and maybe all of those things apply to Eliza. Why did you decide Eliza should find happiness so quickly?

AES: It wasn’t that quick, if you span the years. Eliza loses her husband and son in 1893, and she finds happiness at the cusp of 1899, more than five years later. Eliza did much soul-searching during this time. I also believe that when the right partner appears, it’s important to seize the moment. Joseph Burns represents everything that other men in Eliza’s life have not: he is kind, funny, complementary, loving, and supportive.

Me: Ms. Sweeney, thank you so much for your time and this opportunity to let my readers see inside your mind as you were writing Eliza Waite. My last question is about the future, and what you may be working on next. If you have another book in mind, or have already started one, can you give us a hint of what’s on the horizon?

AES: I am currently researching for a novel about the first white woman to arrive in the Oregon Territory in the early 19th century, tentatively titled The English Mistress. I hope to be finished with the novel in 2018.

AES: Thank you for the opportunity to be interviewed on your blog!

About Ashley E Sweeney

Ashley Sweeney is a graduate of Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., the Stanford Publishing Course, and City University in Seattle, Wash., where she earned a Masters of Education degree. As a seasoned journalist, teacher, and community activist, Sweeney served as a VISTA volunteer in the late 1970s and continues community service today as a member of Soroptimist International, one of the largest women’s advocacy organizations in the world.

While juggling a large household complete with four children, various pets, and all the chaos that accompanies a life dedicated to raising a family, Sweeney found an outlet as a humor columnist and features editor for The Lynden Tribune in Lynden, Washington, where she garnered numerous awards for her writing over the span of a decade. Sweeney also taught English, Journalism, English as Second Language, and GED prep at both the high school and community college levels. She now lives in La Conner, Washington and writes for the hometown newspaper, The La Conner Weekly News.

Eliza Waite is her first novel.

An interview with Anise Eden author of All the Broken Places and All the Wounds in Shadow

I have enjoyed reading and reviewing both of Anise Eden’s novels in the Healing Edge series.  It is hard to confine her style of writing to one genre, but paranormal is the best fit.  If you are a fan, you may have wanted to ask her some of these questions yourself.  If she is a new author to you, I hope my questions, and her answers intrigue you into trying her books.  You can also read my reviews of All the Broken Places and All the Wounds in Shadow by clicking these titles.

Author, Anise Eden

Hi Anise, thanks so much for agreeing to a brief interview for my blog.

ME: We are introduced to Cate Duncan, your main protagonist, in All the Broken Places. She is a psychologist, who actually links with her patients mentally to help them heal. She joins the MacGregor Group after she’s had a mental breakdown. The analogy I would use would be that her mind has shorted out, kind of like when a circuit breaker trips, and the socket won’t work anymore. Her weakness, linking minds with her patients, actually becomes her strength later in the story, and also in the second book, All the Wounds in Shadow. This theme of connecting mentally with another character feels like it is more than a prop. Did you draw from an experience of your own that was similar to what Cate may have gone through?

AE: First of all, Deborah, I want to thank you for having me! I enjoy reading your reviews so much, and it is an absolute pleasure to be here. I’m delighted that you’ve enjoyed my first two books, and I deeply appreciate your interest.

 In answer to your question, the ability to empathize with others is something that I think most of us have, but like many traits, it probably exists along a continuum. I would place myself somewhere near the high end of the empathy scale, since I’ve always been good at sensing how other people feel and understanding their emotional realities. My guess is that this is a common trait among writers who, after all, imagine the lives of many different characters as part of our work. In terms of being able to connect mentally with others, I have also had incidents of “intuitive knowing,” or spontaneously knowing information about loved ones (see your question about psychic abilities below). I did draw upon these experiences when writing about Cate’s abilities, but for the purposes of the story, I cranked them up a notch, creating new, more intense aspects to her gifts.

ME: Anise, my mother is a former hypnotherapist, who has practiced Reiki, so I recognize a lot of the language being used to describe your characters actions. I know your books fall into the paranormal genre, but would you agree that they might be more mystical, even spiritual, than paranormal?

 AE: Personally, I believe that my books could comfortably fit into several genres, including mystical, spiritual, paranormal—even fantasy or science fiction. Which category fits best depends upon the perspective of the reader. I chose “paranormal” in part because it is both accurate and inclusive, welcoming skeptics, people who stand in a spiritual or mystical place, and everyone in between. That variety of beliefs is also reflected in the central characters of the series; I think that most readers will encounter a character whose perspective is close to theirs.

ME: I must ask that question that seems the most obvious. Do you write about psychic abilities because you have some? Or are you just interested in the subject?

AE: To be honest, I don’t know whether the “intuitive knowing” I mentioned earlier would be considered a psychic ability. Within my family, everyone has had experiences like that, so I’ve grown up seeing them as a normal part of life. For us, “intuitive knowing” usually involves knowing when something significant has happened to a loved one who is not physically present—for example, knowing the moment that someone has died or been seriously injured, or when someone is having an emotional crisis. Even outside of my family, I’ve encountered so many people who have either had such experiences or know someone who has that I imagine episodes of “intuitive knowing” must be quite common. I think it’s probable that most people have had some type of insight or experience that they can’t explain. I also believe that it would be short-sighted to dismiss these experiences simply because a scientific explanation for such phenomena has yet to be found.

ME: Your second novel, All the Wounds in Shadow explores military involvement in a parapsychology unit, of sorts. This allows the reader to get a little closer to Ben, than we did in the first book. He has a difficult part in these stories, as the straight man to a cast of characters who live in technicolor. Will we see Ben develop any psychic abilities in future books? Can you give us insight into his future?

AE: Unfortunately, I can’t answer this question directly without giving away spoilers! However, one of Ben’s most reliable qualities is his consistency. While it is necessary for him to keep secrets at times, he has always been straightforward and honest with Cate, for example, about who he is and how he feels, and he never wavers from that. What readers believe they may have seen in him, and what he may have yet to see in himself—these are issues to be explored in the next book.

ME: The romance between Ben and Cate seems to be moving in the right direction, so I’ll ask about Cate alone. She seems to be getting more comfortable in her role as psychic psychologist. Will she continue to take chances with her own mental health through overuse of her abilities?

AE: Like Ben, Cate is a pretty consistent character, although she does a lot of growing and learning throughout the series. One of her traits—and the source of quite a few of her conflicts with Ben—is her willingness to put herself in jeopardy to help others. This is a very basic part of who she is, and I don’t see it disappearing. However, she may be motivated to take better care of herself now that she sees more hope for her future. Also, now that she’s in a relationship with Ben, she is beginning to consider how her decisions might affect him—particularly decisions that might be to her detriment. It’s a balance that she may always be struggling to perfect, but as she learns more about her abilities and how to protect herself, it should get easier.

ME: I understand the next, and possibly last book in the series is being written right now? May I get a brief synopsis or quote to tantalize my readers?

AE: Well, that’s a bit tricky—the book is still in edits, so it’s not certain at this point exactly what will stay and what will go! But I can tell you that the MacGregor Group faces a serious existential threat, and the development of the relationship between Ben and Cate, along with the ability of the Group to work successfully as a team, are crucial to the outcome. For this book, I enjoyed placing these characters in an entirely different setting, as well; rather than their usual urban environments, they spend most of their time at a sporting resort on a remote lake. Also, several threads from the first two books that were left hanging, or that seemed to be unrelated, come together in this installment in unexpected ways. This third book is called All the Light There Is, and it will come out in Spring/Summer 2017. I’m can’t wait to share it with readers!

ME: I appreciate the opportunity to ask you these questions! Paranormal is one of my favorite genre’s, and your books take a very fresh, unique path within that genre. I am looking forward to seeing Cate and Ben’s story continue next year.

AE: Deborah, I’m delighted to be able to talk with you, and I’m thrilled that you are enjoying the series. Thank you so much again for having me!

Thanks!!

Deborah

All the Broken Places and All the Wounds in Shadow are available now from Diversion Books.


These books are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo!

 

Continue reading “An interview with Anise Eden author of All the Broken Places and All the Wounds in Shadow”

An Interview with Genevieve Cogman author of The Invisible Library

 Previously, I had reviewed this author’s book, The Invisible Library, and loved it!  (Click the title for the review) I was fortunate to have been given the chance to interview the author, Genevieve Cogman about the book, and it’s release June 14, 2016 in the United States.
Hi Genevieve, thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for your readers.

ME:  I see that we have the love of fantasy in common! Your bio states that you grew up reading Tolkien, as did many of us, and I definitely see his influence in The Invisible Library, in the characters Silver and Kai. Your love for Sherlock Holmes was also referenced in this book. Did any other influences from your childhood reading surprise you while writing this book?  Continue reading “An Interview with Genevieve Cogman author of The Invisible Library”

Interview : Ashley E Sweeney author of Eliza Waite

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I am very excited to have had the chance to interview the author of Eliza Waite, a book that I had previously reviewed and enjoyed.  Click here to read my review of Eliza Waite.

 
Me: Hi Ms. Sweeney, thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to interview you about the release of your new novel Eliza Waite. When I read your bio on your website, ashleyesweeney.com, I was not surprised that you had a journalism background because of how descriptive you wrote Eliza’s journey. That must have taken an incredible amount of research. How long did it take you to prepare yourself to write about Eliza and her life in three such disparate settings? Continue reading “Interview : Ashley E Sweeney author of Eliza Waite”

My Interview with Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie authors of America’s First Daughter


Stephanie and Laura, thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for my blog about yourselves, and your new book America’s First Daughter.

ME: You both have successful careers as authors in a different genre, romance. Where and how did the idea come up to make the leap and collaborate on a historical fiction novel, and how was Patsy Jefferson chosen as the subject matter?

SD/LK: This novel, which explores the life and times of Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph, the eldest daughter of our third president, was years in the making. It started one night when we were having dinner together and discovered a mutual interest in American history. Over burgers at a writing conference, we wondered what Jefferson was like as a father, not just a founding father.

At the time, Laura was a history of professor by day teaching senior seminars on Jefferson at the U.S. Naval Academy as well as a romance author by night, whereas Stephanie split her writing time between romance and historical fiction. We got the crazy brainchild to combine our experiences in co-authoring a book about Jefferson’s eldest daughter, and immediately raced back to the hotel room to research. Frankly, we had no idea the journey we were about to embark upon. We didn’t know that it would take five years, three agents, eighteen thousand letters and a road trip to get this book out.

But we did know, right from that very first night, that we had stumbled upon a great untold American story.

Continue reading “My Interview with Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie authors of America’s First Daughter”