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The Direction Was Never In Question

Linda Stewart Henley Author Interview

Waterbury Winter celebrates the restorative value of art and the joy to be found in keeping promises. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

My husband and I were visiting family for the holidays one snowy December. The day after Christmas, we stopped by a drug store. No one was there except for my husband and me, and the middle-aged attendant at the checkout counter asked us how our Christmas was. “Fine,” we said, “and how was yours?” His reply: “I was here, and my car broke down.” Holidays are not easy for everyone, we thought. And so Barnaby Brown came to life, as a lonely middle-aged man who didn’t celebrate Christmas and whose old car broke down.

Did you plan the tone and direction of the novel before writing or did it come out organically as you were writing?

The tone of the novel evolved naturally once I had established Barnaby as a likeable character who had lost his way. I knew I needed to write about how he would overcome his longstanding bad habits and restart his failed artistic career. He had many obstacles to overcome: debts, drinking, depression, along with anti-social behavior, so the story progressed slowly. The direction was never in question because I wanted him to succeed.

Was there anything from your own life that you put into the characters in your novel?

Really only my interest in art and the creative process and my belief in their healing powers.

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

I’m working on a novel set in England in World War II, scheduled for publication in spring 2024.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

Barnaby Brown has had enough of freezing winters, insurmountable debt, a dead-end job, and his solitary life as a young widower with no one but his beloved parrot Popsicle. He yearns to move to California and reawaken his long-lost early life as an artist. But new troubles come in threes. His ancient car crashes into a snowbank. Popsicle escapes through a window carelessly left open. A New York gallery owner offers to represent Barnaby’s paintings—but is he on the up-and-up? All of it serves to shock Barnaby into confronting how low he has sunk, and he vows—again and again—to change. He has a few obstacles, starting with his heavy drinking and long-term neglect of his ancestral home. As he takes steps toward a better life, he re-discovers the value of old friendships and latent talents seen in new light, and finds the courage to consider a second chance at love. Rejoining the mainstream of life presents several startling mysteries he must unravel, with a few mortifying but enlightening stumbles. 

 A heart-warming novel about ordinary people reclaiming their dormant potential, Waterbury Winter celebrates the restorative value of art and the joy to be found in keeping promises.

Taking A Leap Of Faith

Author Interview
Zivile Cecilia Brubeck Author Interview

Sammy the Flying Squirrel follows a young squirrel that is afraid to fly and must overcome his fear to same his best friend.  What was the inspiration for your story?

Having six grandchildren it was illuminating to see how each one tried to handle their insecurities differently.  In searching to find the ways to get them to open up about trivial or significant issues I learned what they were worried about.

I found that talking about animals and giving them human characteristics made it easier for young children to open up and talk about what made them anxious.

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

  • Fear of rejection,
  • Bullying,
  • Friendship,
  • Positive close family interactions. 

Perhaps most of all–believing in yourself and taking a leap of faith in order to save a friend.

Who has been the biggest supporter of your writing?

My husband Dan, son Sean, grandson Kevin and granddaughters Fiona, Macalyn and Kate.

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

In Sammy the Flying Squirrel who Was Afraid to Fly, Thomas the Terrible Tomcat got a “bad rap” as a mean and hurtful villain.  I want to explore how he got that way, and see if there is there hope for him.  (You’ll have to read the next book to find out!)

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads | Facebook

Sammy is a young flying squirrel who lives in a big oak tree in the forest with his parents and siblings. Unfortunately, there is one problem. Sammy is scared to fly. Even worse yet, he is too scared to tell anyone he is afraid.

After Sammy makes friends with another squirrel, Sarah, they play together, day after day. Sammy is in no hurry to learn to fly, especially since he is having so much fun with Sarah. As Sammy and Sarah scamper, roll, and play on the forest floor, they have no idea that another animal is lurking in the bushes, just waiting to pounce. But everything is about to change when Sarah has an accident. Can Sammy overcome his big fear and save her, before it is too late?

In this charming children’s tale, a young flying squirrel must overcome a giant fear in order to rescue his new best friend from a terrible fate.

To Move Past All The Hurt

Zachary Ryan Author Interview
Zachary Ryan Author Interview

Silent Screams follows four friends in the aftermath of a school shooting that unravels secrets and relationships. What was the inspiration for the idea behind this compelling story?

It came from a song called Prom Queen by Katie Turner. She has a line about a audience that was never meant for me. It was where the idea for Zachary came to be. It was also my 50th novel that I wrote. I wanted to add elements from each of the first 49 in there.

We really get to dive deep into each unique character in the story. Who was your favorite character to write for?

Honestly, it was Cass. I just had such love for her. I wanted so much for her to be strong and be able to move past all the hurt she had to deal with. I just honestly don’t know how she handled that situation. You find out your boyfriend is cheating on you, and you can’t hate her because she lost her life from one of your best friend’s actions. Then on top of that Jarele was a good guy. He helped Cass through so much. It was hard for Cass to hate Jarele. I just was impressed by her strength and where she ended up.

In this story we get to explore how families and relationships are all different and complex. What were some themes you wanted to capture within them?

Honestly, that everyone goes through some hardships in their life. I also wanted to go through this idea that no one is a full villain or victim. With Gabe each person viewed Gabe in such a different way, and I really wanted to portray that. My theme for all my novels is make sure to not judge someone because you don’t know what’s behind someone’s closed doors.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available
I’m working on a campy book. It’s a lot like my High Schools Queen trilogy. It’s called Cutthroat Cheerleader. It’s sassy, campy, and a murder mystery too. It will be out actually in October.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook

For a group of friends, one mistake changed the course of their lives forever.
In the aftermath of a tragic school shooting, the group must find their own form of justice and a way to begin healing from a wound that just won’t stop hurting.
For them, the lines were drawn.
Right and wrong became blurred.
Friends became enemies.
Told from the perspective of four friends, we learn how one student’s revenge reigned terror over a school and a community– causing secrets to unfold and relationships to be tested.
A compelling and powerful story about a school shooting. A must read.

Silent Screams

Silent Screams by [Zachary Ryan]

Silent Screams by Zachary Ryan follows the lives of four high school friends forced to grow up due to a school shooting. Lane struggles with whether or not to come out to his friends while mourning the loss of his lover. Cass struggles to find someone to save her from her home life. Zachary deals with losing what she thinks makes her special. Ben finds his life of luxury torn away and struggles to figure out who he is without it. Being friends with the shooter, these four students battle with their own demons while attempting to cope with the guilt and responsibility they feel for their friend’s actions.

The raw emotion and authenticity of the characters is something that is outstanding in this book. I applaud Zachary Ryan for creating such imperfect characters that are so relatable. Each character deals with something different and grieves in a unique way. Each character, even background ones, go through so much character development and really grow up and learn how to trust and depend on each other. We get to see through each character’s eyes through point of view changes that happen each chapter. It’s refreshing in a way because you get to see into the heart of each of the four main characters and see their innermost secrets and insecurities. Silent Screams is a story about friendship, love, insecurities, trust, and the dangers of keeping secrets in for too long.

I enjoyed this book, but there were some times I had to reread a line because of a typo. There was also one background character who’s name was inconsistent, being Violet in some places and Valerie in others. However, this book is still thoroughly enjoyable.

Silent Screams was a roller-coaster of emotions from beginning to end. I am not ashamed to admit I cried a couple of times. This is the sort of book you pick up and can’t set down until you finished it. I’m not sure that I would class this as a feel good story but it ultimately leaves you feeling satisfied and rejuvenated.

Pages: 254 | ASIN: B08BK4DPN5

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Oink and Gobble and the Missing Cupcakes

Oink and Gobble have very little in common, but that doesn’t stop them from being the best of friends. No matter what others on the farm may say about either of them, they manage to ignore it and live happy-go-lucky lives. When Oink’s cupcakes go missing, the two best friends set out on a mission to find the culprit. With Gobble’s love for logic and Oink’s overactive imagination, the pair is bound to solve the mystery–with some light-hearted moments along the way.

Oink and Gobble and the Missing Cupcakes, written by Norman Whaler and illustrated by Mohammad Shayan, is a children’s book filled with humorous moments between farm animals and best friends on their way to solving a mystery. Bright and colorful illustrations clearly convey the story line and further add to the plot. Included is a page with the names of each farm animal complete with labels.

I enjoyed this book, but I felt like the story line belongs in a book for children ages 2 to about 6 while the verbiage and some of the exchanges between characters I think might be above the heads of most children in that age group. I enjoyed the asides and the humor injected into the dialogue but found it more appropriate for older readers. I would recommend the plot of the story for young children, but the narrative is much more fitting for young adult readers.

Well-written and superbly illustrated this book will bring a smile to readers’ faces. I think this book is best read with parents or teachers as it presents many learning opportunities. Oink and Gobble and the Missing Cupcakes is a fun and funny picture book.

Pages: 30 | ASIN: B07YN4W37Q

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Bully Friends – Trailer

Written by a woman who dealt with bullying and bully friendships during grade school, Bully Friends teaches everyone (even the bully!) about how dangerous bully friendships really are. This book covers everything from defining what a bully friend is to how to heal from a bully friend relationship. Along the way, Kay Kay shares personal stories of her heartbreaking experiences with bully friends and how she went on to find herself and form healthy relationships now and in the future.

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Our Forever Crazy Love

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Jennifer Nolan’s debut romance novel, Our Forever Crazy Love, is quite the emotional roller coaster. First of all, the fact that it’s written in the first person through the perspective of the main character, Vivienne is something that makes it more personal. In many ways, it feels like you are reading her diary, taking a sneak peek into her most intimate thoughts.

In this riveting novel, we get a front-row seat to not only Vivienne’s personal life but her career life as well. As she explores her relationship with her long-standing crush Danny, we understand more and more why they have never ended up together. While in the beginning Danny is described as handsome but a bit standoffish, this perception is radically challenged as we get to know him better.

The book starts with Vivienne trying to seduce him but ends with her getting a complicated but yet fairy tale ending. More importantly, this is the story of a woman trying to juggle the demands of her career while trying to be there for everyone she loves. As life throws her numerous curve balls and she grapples with excruciating grief, her independent persona begins to unravel.

Apart from love, a recurring theme in this book is the struggle for control. Through the main character, the author attempts to explain how many women struggle with letting go and taking it easy; much to the detriment of their love lives.

As a modern woman, this book hit very close to home with me being able to see some elements of myself in Vivienne. Her struggle with relinquishing control is one that I believe many women can identify with.

While the author does a good job of describing the characters and their relationships with each other, there are some discrepancies and details left unshared. For instance, it would have been great to know more about Danny’s family and how that fed into the man he is today.

There was also little on Luis’ side of the family, especially during moments when such information should have taken center stage. Other characters like Rach also need more development. However, I do understand that the author may have been trying to focus on the main character, Vivienne.

On the plus side, the book has a rhythm to it quite like that of real life; there are a few things that matter and others that are just part of the flow. I also appreciate the use of foretelling by incorporating a psychic; that was a nice touch. At the end of the day, Our Forever Crazy Love is a good read.

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-989733-00-4

Hurtsy: The Harrowed Hedgehog

Hurtsy: The Harrowed Hedgehog by [Graves, Cindy]

Hurtysy is dealing with a unique hedgehog problem. Anyone that touches her gets hurt by her quills. And because of this, Hurtsy is sad and feels bad. In this story Hurtsy meets several animals that are hurting one another and Hurtsy wants to show them how to love, but she can’t because of her sharp quills. Hurtsy must use some bravery and ingenuity to solve this prickly problem.

Every page of this wonderful children’s book is artistically drawn and each piece of art is bright and colorful and fits the tone of the story. Throughout the story Hurtsy is followed by a thought bubble which shows her inner feeling; which is often different from what she is showing to others. I thought this was a unique way to show kids how sometimes our external appearance hides our internal emotions. I really like how this book was able to help kids visualize a complex idea like this.

The story is told in rhyme which flows nicely. The words are easy to understand, but this is a book that adults will want to read to kids because of the aforementioned complex emotional ideas delivered in this book. Sometimes it’s not easy to discern the thoughts from the person as Hurtsy interacts with her own thought bubble.

This is a very cute story that delivers an important message in a unique way. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to teach their kids about emotions, talking about them, learning tough lessons, and reconciling differences between people.

Pages: 26 | ASIN: B07D734LK3

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