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The Few Cowgirls Around

T. P. Graf Author Interview

A Cowgirl’s Stories is a companion book to the trilogy featuring Jaime Cruz, but here we get to focus on Sallie’s character. Why did you feel like Sallie needed a book of her own to tell her story?

Sallie was introduced very slowly in the trilogy and while as the story progressed, we learned how influential she was to her family, we never had the chance to really hear her story and the stories of her parents. My editor friends all agreed that when the spirit moved Sallie to tell her story, this author needed to take her promptings seriously. I first told them I didn’t think Sallie was in any rush. Then one morning at breakfast, my spouse asked what I was thinking about. (I guess I looked like I was off in some distant place—which I was.) I replied, “I’m not sure you want to know. Sallie is writing the first chapter of her story.” As with all my novels, once I start to write I write everyday as though some tap has been turned on and won’t turn off until the story is told.

What sources of inspiration did you pull from to create Sallie’s character?

Visualizing Sallie was easy. Living in West Texas as I did for many years, there were the few cowgirls around that made my descriptions of her authentic—if a bit of an amalgamation.

As to her essence, I’ve known some strong women in my life including my own mother. I’ll tip my hat to them for all they have taught me by their example. None ever smoked Swisher Sweets or had Sallie’s course tongue. Still, it wasn’t hard for me to imagine that growing up as the eldest daughter on a remote ranch would imbue Sallie with the love of nature, humor, grit and tough old cowgirl demeanor that defines her character.

What scene in the book was the most emotional for you to write?

I have to mention a couple scenes: the day’s events when Bill shares with his in-laws and Sallie, Billy’s leaving home; and when Billy mourns in solitude on the Sierra Diablo, the passing of his beloved grandparents. They share in common the hardship of grief and mourning in the midst of estrangement—making any sadness all the harder to bear.

Did you feel like you were able to complete Sallie’s story with this novel?

Yes. While she would, no doubt, continue her influential role in the family, she clearly states in the final pages, it is for others to pass along her gifts of love, understanding and wisdom to those who follow along with their own stories. Any future telling would fall to Noah or Billy, though I’m not sure the author will get the job done. It would only make sense to me if such an addition followed several years from now when Billy or Noah can really weave a new generational tale.

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No one member of the Geermann-Schlatter family defines the life and essence of the ranch quite like Sallie.
When her great-nephew, Noah, says to her, “Grandpa writes the poems; you need to write the stories,” Sallie reflects upon the lives of those before her, those in her life now and the extraordinary healing that comes to all when hearts are open.
Sallie’s own life has been molded by her father’s reverence for “nature’s symbiosis” and her mother’s contemplative spirit. She blends her characteristic wit and gravitas with her unending love for the people, land and creatures that surround her. She takes us along on the journey as only she can.

Late In the Day

We all sit and think about the future and what’s to come. What should we expect when a tragedy befalls us? Such as losing a loved one. We shake at the mere thought of it. Brett Shapiro’s thought-provoking book, Late in The Day, explores this emotional strife in a thoughtful and candid way that makes the idea approachable.

This enlightening book follows three individuals in three different settings; all wandering in a very similar path in life however. Honey, Hank, and Seth find themselves feeling this sense of detachment in life due to troubled personal circumstances with their spouses, or late spouses. Hank’s wife, Marilyn, died five years ago. His children live afar, leaving him on his own for most of the time except for on special occasions. Seth is left with Winston, his dog, following his divorce with his husband, Yoni. Honey lives with her husband, but not really. Having minimum interactions as they see each other in passing, to sleeping in different rooms to his sudden death. All three are fighting their own battles, but on similar grounds; isolation on Florida’s coastline.

Readers follow the three as they encounter each other due to their similar ritual of a solitary walk on the beach at five in the morning. Their friendship develops further with every step and every walk. Through this friendship the three find the companionship they’ve subconsciously been longing for and find solace in each other.

Late in the Day explores the harsh realities of life and conveys interesting ideas through a unique and uncensored perspective. This heartfelt story also gives a sense of hope to readers and teaches a valuable lesson. Companionship doesn’t just come from a romantic relationship; it could also come from friendship. And no matter what stage in life you are, it’s never too late to make friends!

One of my favorite sayings from the book is an exchange between Hank and Honey, where Hank says, “Nothing belongs to us. We don’t possess anything.” To which Honey responds, “but there are certain things that we cling to anyway, as if our life depended on it. For me, it’s this place. If this place has to change, I want to have a say.” This is a profound exchange that reflects the contemplative feel of the whole book.

Pages: 358 | ASIN: 1639885331

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Some Drama And Unexpected Twists

Carol Rhees Author Interview

Joint Venture follows long-time frenemies as they discover the true meaning of family and friendship while navigating an unlikely partnership. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Several years ago, one of my close friends began describing the fighting that was going on her small hometown on Cape Cod over whether to allow the sale of recreational marijuana in the township. I said, “Wow, that sounds like a great backstory for a novel.” Together we developed the two main characters with the intention of writing together, but health problems prevented my friend’s continued participation. When the pandemic came, with my friend’s encouragement, I kept myself entertained by throwing myself into the small imaginary town of Poplar Town.

Alice and Helen were well developed characters that were fun to follow. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

From the outset, I knew that Alice and Helen had to be more or less complete opposites who had always disliked each other, but they also needed some outside force that drew them together – for Helen needing to prove herself after having been dumped by her husband of many years, and for Alice needing to find purpose and help her son after the sudden death of her husband.

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

I wanted the book to be a laugh-out-loud fun read with some drama and unexpected twists. The book is about interpersonal relationships and, for me, its primary themes are personal growth, learning to deal with conflict, and supporting your family, friends and community.

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

I am currently working on another book also set in Poplar Point, but focused on another main character. I have no idea yet when it will be available.

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Long-time frenemies Alice and Helen discover the true meaning of family and friendship as they navigate an unlikely partnership and life’s second act in this hilarious and heartfelt debut.

Helen has worked hard for her success. Now, after the prim-and-proper real estate agent’s husband ditches her for a younger model, she finds herself back in her small New England home town. Smarting over her husband’s betrayal, a messy night out only brings further humiliation when Helen face-plants on the sidewalk … only to be rescued by her old nemesis, Alice.
Alice, an aging hippie mourning the death of her husband, has considered Helen her complete opposite since they were schoolgirls. Yet much to her surprise, as the town divides bitterly over whether to allow the sale of recreational marijuana within its borders, she and Helen find themselves drawn into an unlikely partnership. Can this unlikely duo make a go of their joint venture without killing each other first?

A charming examination of the human capacity for growth, hope, and finding love, in all its forms, in the second half of our lives, Alice and Helen’s Joint Venture shines a light on love and friendship while delivering plenty of laughs along the way.

Wasn’t That a Time

Wasn’t That a Time by Chip Hannay is riveting military romance novel set during the Vietnam War that touches on many aspects of life and struggles, including duty, passion, love, and camaraderie. The heart of the story focuses on Gid Bubchek, a Marine chopper pilot, and Ginger Lee, an enigmatic feminist, and the complicated emotions they experience together, in their respective positions, and within their relationship. The author candidly covers many challenging aspects of preparing for war and living in dangerous conditions while exploring diverse characters, their storylines, and their sense of humor.

Author Chip Hanny, a war veteran himself, gives the reader an authentic and unique perspective into soldiers’ lives leading up to the war and how they support each other the most during uncertain and challenging experiences. The author provides vivid details of overhead military helicopters and combat scenes amid the intense humanity throughout the story, despite the battle’s unfortunate circumstances and horrors. The book focuses heavily on character development, which carries most of the plot, and allows readers to get a close-up and raw look into their lives.

This is an excellent romantic thriller that is perfect for readers looking for a military fiction novel with a heart. I especially enjoyed this story because of its particular view of the Vietnam War and the way the story shows how it had a lasting impact on the generations of people that followed. This thought-provoking story gives readers a lot to reflect on about war and its effect on society. I recommend Wasn’t That a Time for the author’s ability to relay his experiences as a veteran into an entertaining book that contains a personal reflection on the impact of war. It’s a raw and explicit but thoughtful story that delivers a powerful message on the importance of camaraderie.

Pages: 253 | ASIN: B0B5HMFVHQ

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Field of Sky

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Field of Sky, by Sarah Ferguson and Micelle Worthington, is the second book in the Southport Series. This book picks up with Cecelia “CeCe” Wakefield returning to her London home from Australia. Once home, she is forced into a relationship with Gerald Wentworth. When CeCe feels stifled, she runs back to Australia and her boyfriend with a stolen credit card and meets a new friend along the way.

This emotionally-resonant novel contains a well-narrated story that follows CeCe who is trying to figure out who she is and what she wants while making a series of difficult and sometimes frivolous decisions along the way. I thought the plot was sentimental and focused on the emotional turmoil of the characters, which is used to drive the story forward, rather than using dramatic plot twists. The author does a great job of illustrating CeCe’s inner conflicts and how she handles situations involving jealousy, shame, family relationships, and whether she must decide what’s best for her or follow what her family and friends think is best for her.

While CeCe comes from a privileged upbringing, she may not feel relatable to readers initially, though once you get familiar with her dilemma and crisis of identity, she becomes more human and endearing. CeCe struggles with one of the most common challenges most people encounter in life, which is finding a path that leads to happiness and satisfaction, even if it means living outside of their comfort zone. The character development is fantastic, and I especially found River most relatable and unique.

The story’s overall theme is compelling and grounded, with a clear message: a happy ending for some people may not be the same for others. CeCe must first define who she is and what she wants, so she can find her home and place in society. The character’s drive to find her purpose in life is what kept me engaged throughout the book. I recommend Field of Sky for its layered, relevant and touching story.

Will You Be Made Whole – Book Trailer

Two teenagers from two very different backgrounds get caught up in a whirlwind of drugs, prostitution, and murder while fighting to survive in a world that they have no control over. The battle to survive will change their lives forever.

Joint Venture

Joint Venture is a riveting story about a mother’s family feud and its impact on Alice and Helen; two relatives caught in the middle. As the intensity of their mothers’ hatred and division pulled them apart for years, they soon find themselves in an unlikely circumstance that has brought them together. When both women become reacquainted in a small New England town, can they put aside their mothers’ feud and work together?

As Alice and Helen appear from two different worlds and conflicting ideals, they eventually find what they have in common. This story delves into the rich history and details of the family’s division and how their relationships are intertwined. It’s an excellent read; though it may feel a bit slow at first, you’ll find the characters are easy to connect with, and you’ll want to continue learning more. The author did a fantastic job explaining the dynamics between the characters, giving us a glimpse into the minds of both Helen and Alice, what makes them contrary, and how they eventually connect in a relatable, human way.

What I loved most about this book was that the characters were relatable and flawed. There was a lot of family drama and secrets that shed light on their upbringing and what led them to their present situation. Once you get familiar with Helen and Alice, the plot grows more intense and gripping. While some areas of the story progress a bit slower and provide more details, these developments provide a clear picture of each character and their circumstances. You’ll find yourself lost in the small town of Polar Point. It’s a story that slowly embraces the reader, pulling you into an intense story that is difficult to put down once you begin to read.

Overall, I found Carol Rhees’ intense story an enjoyable read, and while there is a lot of build-up to the more intense plot developments, it’s a worthwhile book to read. I recommend this book as Joint Venture is a well-narrated story that combines family drama with mystery and the unexpected.

Pages: 240 | ASIN: B0B76239RJ

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MY True Story

WIN$OME Experience2WIN Author Interview

MINDBLOWN follows a woman who discovers that everything she knows about her family is wrong and seeks to find out where she came from. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

It’s loosely based on MY true story, I fictionalized characters but the content is true to form.

Soule is a riveting and well-drawn character. What were some driving ideals behind Soule’s character’s development?

I loved it, she is ME…I strive to be transparent, genuine, and relatable 🙂

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

Familial patterns, dysfunction, heritage/cultural norms, ancestral connections, and honest reactions.

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

Ongoing series based on each character. Working on book 2 now, plans to be ready to start the new year off RIGHT Jan 2023.

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