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The Ideal Location For My Love Story

Susan Rounds Author Interview

The Winds of Autumn follows a young woman newly married who accompanies her husband on the Oregon Trail while realizing her feelings for another man. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

During my childhood, I remember visiting the fairytale castle, Neuschwanstein, and watching the musical fantasy, Cinderella, on television. Both sparked my imagination and inspired the kind of dream world I would later write about. Jane Austen’s influence would too. The prince becomes the consummate gentleman. The castle becomes a grand mansion. But I also wanted to explore those idyllic notions during the difficult events in America’s past and see how love, like the characters, would find a way to survive the hardships. And, since the city of St. Louis was the starting point of America’s westward expansion, I felt it was the ideal location for my love story to begin.

What were some of the emotional and moral guidelines you followed when developing your characters?

My historical romance novel, The Winds of Autumn, takes place in the 19th century during a tumultuous period in America’s history. This setting allowed me to take readers on a narrative journey set against the backdrop of epic events during that time—the Trail of Tears, the War of the Rebellion (Civil War), and the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. These external events were also important catalysts for creating emotional conflict in my novel and between the characters. So much of a fictional story relies on creating characters that feel real to the reader. I wanted to make that real connection by immersing myself into the mind of my characters so I could feel every emotion they felt and what might happen if they acted on those emotions. Pain is a key motivator that can morph into resentment, or hope and love. I asked myself, what did my protagonist, Mariah, feel when she lost her sister, or Mariah’s mother when she lost her daughter? Those feelings run deep, and my personal experience growing up played a part in developing those characters. My antagonist, Nathan Lawton, faces a moral decision, one he justifies from a traumatic moment in his childhood that fuels his resentment with far-reaching consequences. It was important to raise the emotional stakes by forcing the characters to make choices, right or wrong. But the marriage customs of the 19th century left Mariah no choice when she realizes, too late, that marrying Nathan was a mistake. She suddenly finds herself trapped in her marriage which made me wonder, how was it even possible for a woman to follow her heart? Mariah’s internal struggles propel the story forward, forcing her into unimaginable situations but ones that ultimately transform her into the woman she was meant to be.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

The title of my novel, The Winds of Autumn, uses the word “winds” as a metaphor for change, the main theme throughout the storyline. That transformational change is most evident in Mariah’s character, a refined young lady abruptly turned pioneer woman enduring the harsh plains of the American West. The theme, the sins of the father, was important to convey in Nathan’s character, giving the reader a clear understanding of his motivations. I found this to be a powerful theme because of its consequences to carry over generation to generation. After I finished writing my manuscript, I realized how central the meaning of home was in my novel, and how even a relationship can feel like coming home. And since my novel is about happily ever after, I wanted to exploit the theme of forbidden love as much as the hope that readers yearn for with the possibility of second chances.

What is the next story that you’re writing and when will it be published?

I’m researching the Gilded Age, a fascinating period in America’s history. I like the idea of that setting for a love story.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website | Instagram

A captivating love story transcending the American West, where secrets hide unknown consequences and true love fights for a second chance.
At the end of the War of the Rebellion, Mariah Renwick is still haunted by the memory of her late sister as she tries to piece together the remnants of an innocent time lost. All she wants is to bring happiness home again. Then dashing Lieutenant Nathan Lawton rushes into her life and becomes her new husband. But Nathan’s dark and tormented past hides revenge and betrayal as he stakes his claim to the Renwick fortune and his future out West.
Railroad magnate, Julian Marquette, has just returned to St. Louis to secure another bank loan from Mariah’s father. A brilliant mastermind, Julian orchestrates the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad, not for the sake of his own vanity but for the people of America. He’s a man borne of conviction for what he believes in, a passionate man who’s secretly been in love with Mariah since he first saw her two years ago. But now it’s too late . . . until an intimate moment together takes them by storm.
“It was there again, in that infinitesimal space between them, the subtle tremor of attraction, at once forbidden but about to collide.”
Torn between desire and duty, Mariah is caught in a crossfire as she faces unimaginable struggles on an epic westward journey that shows no mercy. Can Julian fight against impossible odds for the woman he loves, or is all hope lost?
Sweeping landscapes. Passionate characters. The consummate gentleman is back.

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It’s Not About Love: (at least not the way you think)

It’s Not About Love is a compelling self-help memoir penned by Jamie Murray, which delves into the complex topic of infidelity. The author takes the reader on a transformative journey, explaining that betrayal is not a result of insufficient love for one’s partner but rather a reflection of the unfaithful individual’s lack of self-love. Consequently, the act of betrayal is not the fault of the betrayed. This insightful book provides a fresh perspective on disloyalty, empowering readers to understand that their self-worth is independent of the actions of others.

The essence of It’s Not About Love lies in its potent and unique approach to addressing infidelity. As Jamie Murray candidly shares her personal experiences with betrayal, readers cannot help but forge a deep connection with her narrative. This comprehensive guide serves as a powerful reminder that betrayal is unrelated to love, absolving the betrayed of any blame.

Murray’s writing style is both authoritative and wry, and her book is remarkably impactful as it encourages readers to view unfaithfulness from an entirely new angle. By recognizing one’s lack of culpability in such situations, readers are guided towards a more focused and healthy life. The author emphasizes the importance of self-care and discourages allowing a partner’s actions to have a detrimental effect on one’s well-being. Murray’s firsthand experience with betrayal lends her a unique understanding of the challenges one may face in the aftermath.

This book casts a light on a subject that is often experienced in silence and isolation, and Jamie Murray’s courageous honesty in sharing her most vulnerable emotions is nothing short of admirable. Despite the arduous journey, her witty writing instills a sense of hope that brighter days lie ahead. It’s Not About Love provides an exceptional portrayal of the intricate relationship between infidelity and love.

Pages: 182 | ASIN : B0BTZ98H6W

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Book of Leprechauns

Leprechauns are not only magical beings, as people often believe. In fact, they are beings who gather knowledge. For them, art reflects the essence of things, which is why they are guardians of stories. Furthermore, they have had to learn to protect everything they consider valuable, which is why they are cunning and resourceful. However, their life is not so simple because they have serious responsibilities to fulfill. Book of Leprechauns: The Lore Gatherers follows Molly, a young leprechaun who has lost the gold she was entrusted with. Alongside her father, Shaun, and her friend Dorker, they embark on a thrilling journey to ancient Rome and the realm of Caesar. Through this adventure, Molly learns more about her family, the responsibilities of being a lore gatherer, and the true magic that lies within her.

Author Jonathan Uffelman demonstrates exceptional attention to detail, crafting charismatic and engaging characters. Molly is a relatable protagonist who strives to excel while her father, Shaun, grapples with striking the right balance between guidance and independence. I loved reading about Molly’s relationship with her father and found it heartwarming. The vivid descriptions of the settings, particularly ancient Rome, are enriched with historical details, immersing the reader in the adventure. The narrative is further enhanced by including short tales discovered throughout the journey. The detailed descriptions and footnotes throughout the story add remarkable depth and richness to the narrative. The creative footnotes provide an authentic touch, effortlessly immersing the reader in the enchanting world of leprechauns.

Book of Leprechauns: The Lore Gatherers is an entertaining, thrilling, and unique middle-grade fantasy story. This novel is filled with adventure, exciting myths, and folk tales. This is a must-read for fans of sword and sorcery stories.

Pages: 320 | ASIN : B0BLY73KV8

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Walking with the Sun

An elephant named Gaja and an eagle named Garud are the best of friends. They are always together, laughing, playing, dancing, and singing as they explore the forest where they live. One hot and sunny day, Garud suggests they go for a walk to the west in hopes of finding the night quicker. After many hours of walking, the heat was only getting worse, and they found a tree to stop and rest under. After falling asleep, they awake to the cool breeze of night and discover that by walking west instead of getting away from the sun, they were walking with it! When they turn around and head for home, Gaja has no idea there are more surprises still to discover this night.

Walking with the Sun by Preethi Saravanakumar and illustrated by Julia Duclos, is a captivating picture book that teaches children about the movement of the sun. There is also a wise message about how to overcome discomfort; you need to walk away from it, not with it. Children also learn the valuable lesson of finding happiness in all you do and not carrying sadness with them through their journeys.

This touching children’s book will provide children with much to think about and discuss with friends and family as they follow Gaja and Garud on their adventures. The beautiful watercolor images are whimsical and enchanting, adding depth to the story and bringing the characters to life.

Walking with the Sun is a delightful children’s book that teaches children about friendship, positive thoughts, and taking chances. Families and teachers will enjoy sharing this story with children, and this would make an excellent addition to a home or classroom library.

Pages: 34 | ASIN : B0BW6NQQN1

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Gardens, Groves, and Mechanical Trees

“You may not be interested in AAI, but AAI is interested in you.” This compelling statement sets the tone for Gardens, Groves, and Mechanical Trees, a thought-provoking play by George M. Baker that delves into the ever-evolving world of artificial intelligence. The narrative centers on Professor Garmin, a once healthy individual, now a quadriplegic relying on his advanced robohumanoid, Curantus, for assistance.

Initially displeased with his robohumanoid caretaker, Professor Garmin reflects on his past lectures about artificial intelligence with his former student, Chen. Their conversations span a range of topics, from TechDei (Technological Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) to the ethical control of AI. These flashbacks serve as a timely and necessary exploration of the ethical implications of AI development. As the play progresses, Professor Garmin’s interactions with Curantus shift towards assessing the robohumanoid’s capacity for empathy—a key indicator of consciousness. The narrative culminates with the professor asking Curantus to grant him a compassionate death.

Gardens, Groves, and Mechanical Trees offers a fascinating exploration of AI for readers interested in the technology’s future. Its engaging format, consisting of dialogue and narration, is both informative and intellectually stimulating. Readers will be left pondering the future of technology and the value of Artificial intelligence and how it will shape our future.

Pages: 126

The Cemetery 6: Festival of Fear 

The Cemetery 6: Festival of Fear by David Bond is a spine-tingling narrative that follows a group of teens known as the Cemetery 6. The group gathers in the cemetery to indulge in their favorite pastime of telling horror stories. As they prepare for the evening’s festivities, they meet Kit Bunchu, a vengeful spirit seeking retribution. The teens welcome him into their circle, and Kit opens up about his tragic past as the night progresses. Finally, he reveals how his beloved wife murdered him and got away with the heinous crime.

The group unites to help Kit seek justice and prove the wife’s guilt. Their investigation leads them to share chilling tales of horror from various parts of Thailand. Each story draws the group closer to solving the murder mystery. From a malevolent spirit targeting tourists to a haunted hotel with a gruesome history, the stories are unsettling and gripping, keeping readers on edge.

This book is reminiscent of the classic horror series “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” but with an edgier twist set in Thailand. The stories explore different types of horror, each one bleak and terrifying, leaving readers on edge. The narratives are so vivid that they may deter readers from visiting certain places in Thailand for fear of falling victim to supernatural forces. The book’s main story could have been fleshed out a bit more to provide more depth, but it still manages to engage readers with its thrilling plot. While some of the short stories ended abruptly, they were all so fascinating that readers will find themselves craving more.

The Cemetery 6: Festival of Fear is an excellent portrayal of the dark corners of the world that can keep a person up at night. The engrossing main storyline and string of short stories will keep readers moving along on a fright-filled ride, eager to see how the mystery unfolds.

Pages: 180 | ASIN : B0BRHKMVXL

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To Help Just One

In To Help Just One, author Thusitha L. Perera presents a refreshing and insightful perspective on mental health discussions that frequently permeate public discourse. Through skillful storytelling, Perera offers valuable guidance on navigating the complexities of mental health challenges.

The narrative is structured around three engaging stories centered on the lives of Jonathan, Lawrence, and Tegan. As readers journey through the characters’ formative years, Perera expertly interweaves their individual experiences, illustrating how they confront various mental health issues. The book addresses a range of weighty topics, including addiction, toxic work environments, and the significance of support groups, with thought-provoking nuance and sensitivity.

To Help Just One champions the power of individual resilience in overcoming mental health challenges while emphasizing the critical importance of seeking help from others. The author employs clear, impactful language that facilitates an effortless connection between readers and the characters, as well as their struggles. There are times when the book proceeds at a slow pace, as Perera’s writing dwell in introspective moments. This adds depth to the characters, giving readers time to reflect as well. Those who appreciate delving into the inner thoughts and emotions of characters will find the author’s writing style immensely rewarding. Perera’s vivid and immersive descriptions contribute to a rich reading experience. The prose is detailed and evocative, albeit occasionally overwhelming, and effectively conveys the lived experiences of individuals grappling with mental health challenges.

To Help Just One is a must-read for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the intricacies of mental health challenges. The book leaves a lasting impact, instilling in readers a profound appreciation for individual determination and the transformative power of reaching out for help.

Pages: 232 | ASIN : B0BN5FLT73

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Drifters Realm

Drifters Realm by Annemarie Mazotti Gouveia transports readers to a fantastical world steeped in ancient prophecies and extraordinary children. Twelve-year-old twins Ori and Roe are destined to prevent a future uprising and impending war. When Ori vanishes following their parents’ sudden disappearance, Roe embarks on a quest to find her brother and fulfill their shared destiny. As she searches, Roe uncovers a vast conspiracy involving the First Council and a group of outcasts known as the Menace. Joined by her friends and siblings, Roe navigates a world where the lines between good and evil are blurred.

A thrilling adventure for young readers and middle-graders, Drifters Realm captivates with its suspenseful plot and engaging setting, featuring forests, swamps, and other elements that make for a fascinating expedition. Set in a post-civilization world, children are separated from their parents at a certain age, and an ancient prophecy foretells of an uprising that could disrupt the established order. Armed with her magic ring and intuition, the protagonist must traverse the realm and uncover the truth.

Gouveia excels at crafting a compelling narrative, populating her story with a diverse array of unique characters, each endowed with extraordinary gifts and responsibilities. From sorcerers and life-givers to knowledge bearers and storm catchers, Drifters Realm presents a world defined by order and designated roles while also exploring themes of family and friendship. This captivating novel is easy to read and features well-structured and clearly headlined chapters that lend clarity to the scenes. The plot also develops steadily, and readers do not see the plot twist coming.

Drifters Realm by Annemarie Mazotti Gouveia is an action-packed young adult fantasy novel that takes readers on an unforgettable journey. With vivid scenery and relatable characters, this is one story that will capture the interest of readers and leave them wanting to see more of this realm.

Pages: 148 | ISBN: 1639888292

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