Blog Archives

Rises from Humble Beginnings

Carole Penfield Author Interview

Carole Penfield Author Interview

Midwife of Normandy follows young Clare as she struggles to save her family and career from France’s tyrannical king. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?

An avid fan of history, I researched 17th century religious persecution of Huguenots by King Louis XIV and was surprised how few historical fiction novels had been set during this turbulent period (as opposed to numerous novels set in other times, like Tudor England.) I also noted that many historical fiction authors focused on women of royal or aristocratic blood as protagonists.

I wanted to do something different, so I created a Huguenot female protagonist, who rises from humble beginnings and dares to defy and outwit male authority, including the King’s soldiers.

After visiting Rouen and the beautiful countryside of Normandy, I felt certain this was the perfect location for my book.

I didn’t think being a midwife could be so interesting and this novel definitely caused me to look more into the profession. Why did you choose this profession for Clare in the story?

Let’s face facts; there weren’t many professional options available to 17th century women. It was widely held that their only proper role was marriage, absolute obedience to husbands, and bearing of children. Midwifery was almost exclusively performed by females, but was looked upon as a lowly trade.

In order to rise above her humble beginnings, Clare decides to offer her services, using a secret ancestral formula for pain-free birth, exclusively to wealthy members of the aristocracy who reward her handsomely, thereby turning midwifery into a lucrative profession.

Clare is a fascinating character that continued to develop as the story progressed. What were some themes you wanted to capture in Clare’s character?

Throughout history, women have struggled against many prejudices. What I set out to achieve was to create a strong, ambitious young woman who sought to control her own destiny. In a sense, Clare was an early pioneer for female equality in 17th century France, as she sought a career. However, she knew she was also obligated to marry in order to bear a female child to carry on her ancestral midwifery heritage.

At first, dewy-eyed young Clare is disappointed when her romantic childhood sweetheart leaves the country and she is coerced into marrying his older, dull brother. However, she turns out to be much stronger than her husband, even to the point of secretly using birth control until she decides the time is right for bearing children. And she is the one who must bravely plot their escape from France.

Another minor theme is the conflict a career woman faces between spending time with her children and working outside the home. A feeling of guilt. This balancing act continues through the present day, so it is a universal, contemporary theme.

What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?

The second novel in the series, Lucina’s Destiny, is now available on Amazon.com. It follows the exciting adventures of Clare and her family as they settle in England.

Author Links: Website | GoodReads

Midwife of Normandy (Secrets of the Austen Midwives Book 1) by [Penfield, Carole, Lady, A]Clare Dupres, ambitious young Huguenot midwife living in turbulent 17th century France, struggles to save her family and career from the terrors of tyrannical King Louis XIV.

On the brink of womanhood, she records in her journal the grand plan for her perfect life–marriage to the man she loves, renovation of mysterious Maison Dupres as her home, and a rewarding profession. The key to her plan lies in “the magic elixir,” her ancestors’ secret formula for pain-free childbirth, which she offers solely to wealthy aristocratic women.

But King Louis’ increasing pressure on Huguenots to convert to Catholicism shatters Clare’s dreams. Her lover forced to flee France, she is compelled to marry his boring brother. Then she is banned from practicing midwifery. Yearning to continue her profession coupled with fear that her children will be kidnapped by Papists, Clare tries to convince her stubborn husband to move to England, but he is blind to the growing menace. When danger lurks in the form of the King’s dreaded Dragonnade soldiers, she must summon all her strength and determination to save her family.

Can Clare succeed in getting her family safely out of France before it is too late?

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Midwife of Normandy

Midwife of Normandy (Secrets of the Austen Midwives Book 1) by [Penfield, Carole, Lady, A]

Carole Penfield gives readers a realistic and interesting piece of historical fiction in The Midwife of Normandy. The story opens with Clare, who finds herself in the cargo hold of a ship along with her family. It is the late 1600’s and they are sneaking out of France to England, where Protestants are not persecuted, and she can continue her midwifery practice. We have no idea what preceded her current state of affairs until we are transported back to her youth and the very first day she received her journal. We learn about Clare’s upbringing and the strong tradition of midwifery in her family, along with the history of disapproving husbands. It is not long before Clare herself is ready for training and eventually ready to take over the practice. It is also not long before she acquires a disapproving husband of her own.

Penfield creates a beautiful and flowing story with elements of history, romance, and story-telling brought together by a colorful cast of characters. Clare is a strong female lead, dealing with issues that are timeless. I love that her family has such a passion for helping other women and will stop at nothing to do so. The history behind this story is interesting and lead me to further research, which is one thing I really love about pieces of historical fiction. I thought the author could have included more realistic dialogue to the times, but I understand that just wasn’t the direction she went with this piece.

Her characters are fantastic and add richness to the story, as all good characters do. There are characters with a dark side and those who even it out with some comedy and levity. Penfield is a self-proclaimed lover of Jane Austen and weaves elements of that authors works into her story. She challenges other Austen fans to find little hidden tidbits throughout the story that are Austen-inspired.

The juxtaposition of a personal story of feminine struggle for power and equality with the story of a religious group struggling with the same issue is an interesting one. These are themes that have manifested throughout history and continue to be real struggles so I thought this book felt modern despite its historical setting.

Penfield did a beautiful job with this story. I was entertained and interested throughout and even learned new history! I look forward to reading more books in this series!

Pages: 325 | ASIN: B01M7Q93OO

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Decrypto: Unlock Your Life Journey

There is a warm feeling that embraces you the moment you land on the first page. The author narrates her stories in a manner that makes the reader feel like they belong. Her wording is amazing and she used the most appropriate phrases in her explanations. The book starts with the writer sharing her childhood story of being born in England. Being the ninth child of a family of ten children, she knew early that she had to be aware of self as she was born into her crowd. She goes on to talk about her life; her family emigrated to Australia then to New Zealand. She also talks about getting children in her early twenties, selling her home, buying a yacht and sailing from New Zealand to England.

The writer talks about being distressed, going through emotional agony, feeling guilty, going through betrayal and experiencing grief. It was not easy for her. Even with the trauma that Linda K. Ford went through, she was able to emerge strong in the end. I admire her attitude and perspective on life. There is a lot of wise words she shared throughout the book.

On inaccuracies of thoughts, the author discusses how we respond to the situations we are faced with on a daily basis. The author says that each one of us has the potential to experience happiness. We all can be cheerful at all times. Life is supposed to be joyful. Our past sometimes restricts us from experiencing infinite joy. I loved that in between the lines, the author posed questions for the reader to ponder over. Trauma is never a good thing. A troubling past can haunt you for years, making you feel like life is not worth it. The author also mentioned that the stronger one is emotional, the deeper they are bound to sink. How unfortunate that must be.

Her style of giving real-life example when explaining a topic is what made me enjoy this book. One of my favorite parts of the book was the chapter where she explained mental versus physical tiredness. Both are draining and can break a person. At the end of it all, the author assured the reader that there is still some hope. Don’t sit and be depressed about things that you can’t change. Life may not be a walk in the park, but there are instances and people who make our life in this universe worthwhile. When you get emotional, look for things that work for you. Talk to people who care, read a book, watch your favorite TV show, engage in a simple physical exercise; don’t just sit with a dark cloud hovering around you.

Decrypto: Unlock Your Life Journey is a book everyone who is on a quest to discover self should read. The words shared are a gem. The author enables the reader to have some hope even when things don’t go as planned.

Pages: 164 | ISBN: 0648299007

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Caution to the Wind

On May 5th, 1994, at 9.30 am on a chilly, sunlit day, Ebony, a 36ft Roberts Spray, left the safety of Lyttelton Harbour in New Zealand, to venture into the unknown, where nothing would be predictable.

The voyage plan was to follow the famous trade wind route, sailing from New Zealand to England.

All too soon, they found themselves battling their way to Sydney, Australia. Caught in a ruthless storm with no contact with the outside world, they were truly alone. All the romantic notions of the ultimate cruising life disappeared into oblivion.

Step aboard Ebony and take an adventure, an epic 15-month voyage. Experience this day-to-day passionate tale, packed with intrigue, and at times suspense. Experience the delights of the lands visited and learn more about the world of international sailing. This was a life-changing adventure, with a dramatic, unexpected, ending.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

The Old Heroic Tales

Stella Atrium Author Interview

Stella Atrium Author Interview

Seven Beyond follows Dr. Meenins as he goes on an adventure spurred by wild dreams and helped along by unlikely friends. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?

I was first attracted to the idea of writing about people with long life and how a century can be devoted to a specific study of music or warfare without loss. Also a woman can enter business without feeling the pressure to give birth to all her children within a single decade. As my father aged, I wondered how very old people cope with loss of friends, loss of a homeland, or a faulty memory without companions to reinforce the old heroic tales. The storyline grew from there.

Dr. Meenins is a well developed character that I enjoyed reading about. What were some obstacles that you felt were important to his character’s development?

Dr. Meenins is troubled by dreams that are his memory turning. The character has lived for 800 years and traveled to other worlds. He started a blood feud by killing another Longist, his great friend Frum from the Soldier caste. The relatives of Frum cannot with honor allow Chris Meenins, who they know as Clem from the House of Past Promise, to live. He must side-step assassins in each situation on each planet that he visits.

When our story opens, Dr. Meenins is channeled and believes that he’s an aging temporal earthling. He enters resurgence where he accepts that his knowledge is greater than he could attain over a temporal’s lifetime – human anatomy, advanced weapons, the relative positions of the stars. As a Longist, he must face his past guilty acts that perpetuated the blood feud. Only in full memory can he lead the colony to the new homeland.

This is an intriguing setup to a novel that is high in social commentary. What was your moral goal when writing this novel and do you feel you’ve achieved it?

The Longists maintain group identity with social castes and old stories and ancient books of wisdom. To match those, I used Christian beliefs and stories from the Bible as the source of strength for Lady Drasher and other traveling companions.

The traveling group starts in old Russia, travels through the Caucuses, and across the Mediterranean to the northern coast of Africa, before they visit England and fly to NYC. They are piercing time from the 18th into the 20th century. They also test many philosophical theories that groups used to justify political movements.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

The Backside of Beyond is a companion book to Seven Beyond that opens a generation later with a few characters the reader will recognize. Dr. Meenins’ daughter lives as Yolanda Santiago in fragmented America and volunteers for a brain implant experiment that is a corporate and military partnership. She gains core programming, making her independent and lethal, and goes rogue with a traveling group who are on the provinces’ most-wanted list. Her Longist friends who integrate with society in the USA have spiritual questions and join a tent revival movement to heal America and bring down the bisecting fence.

The Backside of Beyond is in beta now and may be released in 2019.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsite | Blog

Seven Beyond by [Atrium, Stella]Dr. Meenins has recurring dreams that are his memory turning. He resists facing his guilty acts from eight centuries ago. Linda Deemer of his race of Longists is sent to help him step through painful memories of lost companions.

Travel companions help Dr. Meenins confront his dreams while haunted by wispy memories of faraway places and alien races. The reader is treated to his past adventures on other worlds where Christopher Meenins escapes assassins of a blood feud and gathers followers to find the new homeworld.

A quest novel that, in broader terms, is a cautionary tale with many tongue-in-cheek references to true human nature and injustices of contemporary society. Similar to Cloud Atlas or Sense 8.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Midwife of Normandy

Clare Dupres, ambitious young Huguenot midwife living in turbulent 17th century France, struggles to save her family and career from the terrors of tyrannical King Louis XIV.

On the brink of womanhood, she records in her journal the grand plan for her perfect life–marriage to the man she loves, renovation of mysterious Maison Dupres as her home, and a rewarding profession. The key to her plan lies in “the magic elixir,” her ancestors’ secret formula for pain-free childbirth, which she offers solely to wealthy aristocratic women.

But King Louis’ increasing pressure on Huguenots to convert to Catholicism shatters Clare’s dreams. Her lover forced to flee France, she is compelled to marry his boring brother. Then she is banned from practicing midwifery. Yearning to continue her profession coupled with fear that her children will be kidnapped by Papists, Clare tries to convince her stubborn husband to move to England, but he is blind to the growing menace. When danger lurks in the form of the King’s dreaded Dragonnade soldiers, she must summon all her strength and determination to save her family.

Can Clare succeed in getting her family safely out of France before it is too late?

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Caution to the Wind

She and her partner answered the call of the sea. They wanted to heed to the breeze and sway to the wind. Such was the image of what would be expected of the sojourn. The reality was different. Marred with seasickness, a faulty water trap, uncooperative winds, and even loss of a crew member, Lin and Geoff were in for the ride of their lives. So many hurdles thrown into their plans and expectations. Frequently doubting their plans. Getting on each other’s nerves at some point. This is an outline of the journey from New Zealand to England. With an unexpected end, this story is one of a kind.

In Caution to the Wind the author does not leave even the bad parts untold. If you are going to tell a story, tell the whole of it. That is what Linda Ford has done. She has given the reader an inside view into her adventure. Her passion for the sea is evident in her narration. However, she does not let her expertise boggle the reader’s mind. She tells her story in simple language. Even providing a glossary in the back which will come in handy because this book is immersive.

Linda has quite the writing skill. Her descriptions are vivid which is perfect for the many picturesque scenes that this story sails into. The book is fairly short and can be read in one siting. From the first page, I was taken with Lin and Geoff, and did not want to put the story down until the end. The author clearly knows how to capture the readers attention.

You know when you walk up to a group of people having a conversation and it takes you a little while to catch up? That is the feeling one might experience in the beginning. The first chapter sort of starts in the middle. It feels like there should have been something before that first chapter. However, you will catch on quickly to the flow of the story.

The chapters are really short and lends to the idea that this is more of a journal with the chapters being akin to journal entries of sorts, but I was left wanting a bit more structure to allow me to be immersed in this fantastic story even further.

Some talk about bravery. Others talk about going for it. This story is inspiring in it’s ability to unveil a story that captures both of these things. I mean if Lin and Geoff can stand against treacherous weather at sea for months with overlapping disappointments, surely no goal is too ambitious. This book will have you on the edge of your seat then it will have you off that seat going after whatever that goal is that you set aside. The story is one big adventurous metaphor for the way to live life.

Pages: 250 | ISBN: 0648164756

Buy Now From Amazon.com

The Outcasts Book Trailer

Mystical relics.

Powerful vampires.

Strange allies.

It’s hell being a teenager.

Larna Collins has never understood why her dad skipped out on her and her mother when she was twelve years old. Until then, he was a devoted and loving father.

But six years later, during a renovation of her childhood home, she unearths her father’s journal from under a dusty floorboard. According to his final entry before he left, he had recently visited a small parish in England.

The entries draw her to this seemingly quaint village, which Larna discovers isn’t as charming as its blood-craving inhabitants want her to believe, and she learns that she isn’t the only one trying to track her father down.

Could this explain her father’s disappearance? Or was placing her in the center of danger her dad’s master plan all along?

Buy Now From Amazon.com

In The End, None Of Us Are Perfect

Misty Hayes Author Interview

Misty Hayes Author Interview

The Outcasts has a unique take on the vampire story and follows Larna as she relates a tale woven in history, family secrets, and bloodlust. What was your inspiration for this novel and the overarching history behind Larna?

When I first started writing The Outcasts, it was during the Twilight vampire craze. Even though I still enjoy Stephanie Meyers’s series (I own every copy) – at the time, I still felt that we, as a society, could do better with female protags. I wanted a story that had a plot and didn’t just rely on the ‘girl’ getting the ‘boy’. I wanted a protagonist who wasn’t physically perfect and popular and had a long way to go to find her strength. It was extremely important for me to have a character that people could relate to… because in the end, none of us are perfect, we’re all outcasts and that’s okay.

What I liked most about Larna is that her character felt both fresh and relatable. Were you able to relate to your characters while writing them?

Oh my gosh, in every tortuous way possible… writing Larna was excruciatingly painful, but also freeing in the sense that I wanted her to be more than just a pretty face. It was important she be funny and witty and have an inner strength that she needed to find and tap into. I think her vulnerability was the hardest thing for me to get right.

I find that, while writing, you sometimes ask questions and have the characters answer them. Do you find that to be true? What questions did you ask yourself while writing this story?

This list could be irritatingly long! Ha! I still have questions I’m asking myself about this series, like: Is Larna relatable and not just annoying? Would people buy Corinth coming into the picture and then slowly fading away? Would people believe Alastair liked Larna? Did Alastair’s character shine through the way I wanted it to? Is Gabriel too cliché?

The Outcasts: The Blood Dagger is volume 1 in your series. When will volume 2 be available and what can fans expect in that novel?

Volume 2 is expected to be released December of this year! The book is already written, I am just working on polishing now. People can expect ACTION. The character development has been completed, now we find out what Larna, Corinth, and even Alastair are really capable of. Prepare yourselves for MORE of everything!

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsite

The Outcasts: The Blood Dagger: Volume 1 by [Hayes, Misty, Hayes, Misty]

Larna Collins has never understood why her dad skipped out on her and her mother when she was twelve years old. Until then, he was a devoted and loving father.

But six years later, during a renovation of her childhood home, she unearths her father’s journal from under a dusty floorboard. According to his final entry before he left, he had recently visited a small parish in England.

The entries draw her to this seemingly quaint village, which Larna discovers isn’t as charming as its blood-craving inhabitants want her to believe, and she learns that she isn’t the only one trying to track her father down.

Could this explain her father’s disappearance? Or was placing her in the center of danger her dad’s master plan all along?

Buy Now From Amazon.com

The Outcasts: The Blood Dagger

The Outcasts: The Blood Dagger: Volume 1 by [Hayes, Misty]

Misty Hayes, author of The Outcasts: The Blood Dagger Volume: 1, is handing readers a unique take on the vampire stories of late. Her main character and narrator, Larna Collins, relates a tale deeply woven in history, family secrets, and bloodlust. Larna, quite the social outcast in her high school, graduates and embarks immediately on a mission to find her estranged father in England. Using her father’s journals and her own burning desire to find answers to her endless string of questions about his sudden disappearance, she leaves Texas just as her lifelong friend, Corinth, reveals his desire to be more than a tried-and-true confidante.

The Outcasts: The Blood Dagger Volume: 1 is written to appeal to young adult readers, but is so exceptionally written and full of wit and wisdom it easily resonates with a much larger audience. The idea of the socially downtrodden heroine is not a new one, but Hayes manages, quite successfully, to fashion Larna Collins into character unlike any readers will encounter within other books in the same genre. Larna is thoughtful, and the reader is privy to all of her emotions, anxiety, and, ultimately, her pride and power.

Character development appears to be Hayes’s forte. Dropping little hints throughout the plot, the author draws robust images of each character from Paul the Volkswagen/taxicab-driving vampiric sidekick to Gabriel–the devil incarnate. Each of Hayes’s characters adds a rich element to the story, and she masters the plot twist with the best of the action/adventure writers out there.

Hayes provides a captivating mixture of budding romance and action sequences. In addition, she takes literary risks with her characters’ fates. She, by no means, sticks with what the reader expects. At every turn, Hayes delivers something new and unexpected, but more than appreciated. The tension between Corinth and Larna and the ever-present question of romance between Larna and Alastair keep the reader guessing from beginning to end.

Hayes offers an originality with her presentation of the vampire tale. She successfully juxtaposes the deteriorating architecture of old England with present-day Texas and tosses in a healthy amount of technology and modern references–all easily within the schema of the young adult audience. Those expecting to find the vampires of the Twilight series will be pleasantly surprised to find a quite different vamp sketched before them as Hayes offers up a down-to-earth creature with far-reaching abilities and deep-rooted emotions.

I am giving The Outcasts: The Blood Dagger Volume: 1 a solid 5 out of 5 stars. Hayes offers a well-written, smooth read which mesmerizes readers from the first paragraphs. The relatable struggles of its main character, Larna, take an unexpected turn early on and pull readers in for a ride like no other. Hayes will soon find herself with a growing fan base yearning for more from Larna and her crew. By giving her audience the story they want with a cast of characters far-removed from those of the typical vampire tales, Hayes has succeeded in paving the way for her band of outcasts.

Pages: 356 | ASIN: B077XL9WHH

Buy Now From Amazon.com

%d bloggers like this: