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We All Have Our Own Stories

Greta Harvey Author Interview

Waiting in Wattlevale follows a divorced mom as she starts a new job in an elderly home, and learns about friendship and relationships from the residents. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

A few years ago, I helped my mother through the life changes and decisions for her future care. Feeling her confusion and uncertainly was heartbreaking.

Peony starts off the novel as an unsure woman rebuilding her life and grows throughout the story. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

The inner strength is in us all to change and grow.

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

Compassion, empathy and the observations of other’s lives. We all have our own stories.

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

My fourth book is Gidgee Harbour, which takes place in South Australia and about a dying little shopping centre. The business owners try everything possible to find a way to save it and their livelihood. A feel good tale with lots of humour in it. It’s at the publishers and out any day now. All my stories are set in Australia and with lovable true-blue characters and our quaint Aussie humour.

  • Repent at Leisure, in Queensland a suspense tale in a rural setting.
  • F n B’s House sitters is also in Queensland. It’s a story of two women setting up a house sitting business with all their odd situations and clients that they have to deal with.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook

Quirky characters abound in Wattlevale, home for the elderly in rural Australia, workplace for the caring and ambitious. While some residents are waiting for the end, others find lost love, laughter and larrikinism from some true-blue old bushies. In one year, there’s plenty of entertainment and humour. Visiting children find their way into the hearts of many, collecting pearls of wisdom along the way.
A feel-good tale, from joy to heartbreak, with enduring characters and inspiring life stories. Another gem of a story from Greta Harvey.

Waiting in Wattlevale

The residents at Wattlevale Rest Home each have their own unique story to tell. From Digger, the mischievous prankster, to Major, the irascible veteran, there is more to the elderly inhabitants at Wattlevale than first meets the eye. When Peony, a recently divorced mother, first begins working at Wattlevale, she isn’t sure what she is getting herself into. Through various perspectives, we are introduced to the complex relationships, daily dramas, and petty squabbles that occur in the day-to-day runnings of this busy home. Yet, Wattlevale must always find a way to carry on in the face of disruptive events.

Waiting in Wattlevale contains a colorful and memorable cast of characters whose situations are often equally comic and tragic. This meaningful story provides a poignant and thoughtful reflection on the way society treats the elderly, alongside how society itself is viewed by the older generation. Author Greta Harvey captures the humor and toughness unique to Australian life; this allows the reader to become immersed in the book’s geographical setting and understand many of the residents’ nostalgia for a bygone Aussie way of living.

Jumping skillfully from character to character, Harvey engages us with a vast array of personalities and individual narratives. Each resident has a story to tell, and their uniqueness shines through. The author also doesn’t hesitate to present the flaws of even her most likable residents and care home workers. I sometimes felt like the book could use an additional edit as I found some run-on sentences and perspective switches mid-paragraph. However, the novel’s heart shines through, giving readers a feeling of comfort and familiarity as they move through the pages learning more about each character.

Waiting in Wattlevale is for readers looking for a relaxing, character-driven story. This heartwarming novel has a multi-faceted and humanizing depiction of the elderly and is a fascinating look into the world of the characters.

Pages: 218 | ASIN : B089N23ZP4

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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.

Fixing Nick

Nick, the barn is looking run down and old. His doors are broken, his fence is falling down, his stalls are dirty, and his paint is faded and chipped. So the farmer decides that it is time to build a new barn to replace Nick. However, the animals want to save their friend. They work together to fix Nick and make him like new again. It is a big job. Will they be able to save Nick, or will the farmer still replace him with a new barn?

Fixing Nick, written by Howie Groff, tells the story of friendship and working together. This beautifully written picture book shows an unlikely group of animals that band together under the guidance of Goose to make all the repairs to Nick the barn before the next day when the farmer has someone coming to build a new barn. Old Goat doesn’t think they can do it, and that Nick is not able to be saved. However, the rest of the animals refuse to give up and will not let their friend down. This children’s book powerfully portrays the message of sticking together and helping those in need. Even when the tasks seem too big for the animals, they find a way to make them happen.

The colorful and cheerful illustrations done by Olya Bond bring the story to life. They have managed to capture the animals’ emotions on each page, the determination, the concern, and the joy as they make a difference in the life of their friend.

I enjoyed the rhymes in the story, it makes reading it a joy, and you can’t help but smile as you follow along with all the animals. This is a story children will want read aloud to them as they follow along with the playful illustrations.

Fixing Nick is a heartwarming picture book about friendship and working together to save another friend. This children’s book is perfect for teaching kids about the value of working hard and fixing things rather than just throwing something away or replacing it. It teaches the importance of friendships and teamwork.

Pages: 33 | ASIN : B09S7MX4YG

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The Lost and Lonely Tumbleweed

The Lost and Lonely Tumbleweed, by T.C. Bartlett, tells the story of a lonely tumbleweed named Spike. All Spike wants is to make a friend and not be alone anymore. He is very open-minded and tries to make friends with everyone he meets, but no one wants to be his friend; they all have a different excuse for why they can not be friends with a tumbleweed. Spike refuses to be discouraged for long and keeps his search going. Even when chased by bees and birds or stuck in a rain shower, Spike rolls along, never giving up. Will he ever find a friend that accepts him as he is?

This creative picture book tells a story about persistence, friendships, and acceptance. Through the whimsical illustrations, also done by T.C. Bartlett, young readers will follow Spike on his journey. Spike has a sense of humor and a strong personality that kids will find entertaining. However, it is not all sweet and happy moments in the story. Instead, this children’s book showcases Spike’s struggles on his quest. None of the obstacles he encounters are scary, but they show kids that it is not easy to achieve your goals sometimes, and you have to work hard to get through the challenges.

The topic of friendship is one that many preschool and kindergarten children face. Making new friends is hard, and Spike shows the reality of it. Not all people are meant to be friends, and you have to choose your friends wisely. The message of finding someone that wants to be your friend for who you are and not what you can do for them or try to change you is important.

The Lost and Lonely Tumbleweed is a heartwarming picture book that tells the story of finding a real friend. It reminds children of the importance of never giving up on achieving your goals and not changing yourself for other people.

Pages: 50 | ISBN : 1733908609

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How Do We Live With Our Mortality?

Author Interview William Loizeaux

Into the Wind follows a young boy who, while fixing up a sailboat, befriends his elderly neighbor. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

When I was a boy, I had a feisty, independent, widowed and elderly aunt who was an artist and loved sailing.  As she aged, she didn’t seem to mellow or retire or relax, but seemed to come even more alive, to throw herself with increasing energy at what she loved, even as that became more difficult.  She painted with a trembling, arthritic hand.  Some weeks before she died, she managed—in a wheelchair!—to get herself into a small boat and, with the help of someone who held the rudder, sail through some rough weather.  That was the germ of Into the Wind

Was there anything from your own life that you incorporated into Rusty’s and Hazel’s relationship?

Yes.  There is a certain amount of my relationship with my aunt in Rusty’s relationship with Hazel.  Like Hazel, my aunt was odd and demanding—you might even say cantankerous.  We rubbed each other the wrong way.  But she took an interest in me, and slowly I took an interest in her and came to appreciate her quirky sense of humor, the challenges she faced and the wisdom she had as an aging woman who mostly got around in a wheelchair.  We became unlikely friends.

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

The main theme was intergeneration friendship.  How could that happen between a boy with his life ahead of him and a woman near the end of hers?   What might connect them?  What might each of them gain from that connection?  

Our mortality is another theme, something that children from eight to twelve are beginning to grapple with.  By then they may have lost a loved pet or, worse, a relative.  How do we think about that?  How do we live with our mortality?  Maybe Hazel shows Rusty a way.  Sadly, life comes to an end, but it can be filled, like Hazel’s, with curiosity, fun, humor, generosity, growth, energy, friendship, love, wonder, and meaning—all of which might be passed from one generation to another.  I hope that’s what readers feel and understand when they finish Into the Wind.

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

I write books for children and adults, and I’m usually working one or the other, or sometimes both.  At the moment, I have an adult nonfiction draft on my screen and parts of a children’s story in a folder on the side of my desk.  When might they be available?  I don’t know, as I haven’t finished them yet.  Sometime soon.  Fingers crossed.  Information about my previous books is available on my website.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

A character-driven novel about the unlikely friendship between a 10-year-old boy and an elderly woman. The old woman badgers the boy into taking her sailing, but when the weather turns bad, it becomes a wild sail. It becomes the last trip before she goes into the hospital where she dies: but not before the two of them share memories of their last sail together. Hazel helps build the boy’s confidence during a tough time in his home life. Both moving and joyful, Into the Wind is a poignant story about loss and love in a boy’s life, and the surprising and sustaining bonds that can grow between the old and young.

The College Shrink

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Author William Haylon’s The College Shrink is a stunning piece of literary fiction. The story follows Emily Metcalf, an on-campus college psychologist, as she is navigating life post-divorce. We hear the stories of how she came to be who she is today, particularly how her former husband’s actions affected her. We also dive into the lives of her clients. It’s a true exploration of real-life issues through a beautifully artistic writing style. You will find yourself and others you know in the pages of The College Shrink.

This book starts off with a slow-burn writing style giving readers a chance to know Emily. The detailed and methodical style fits her personality and allows the reader to step into her shoes. Haylon’s writing provides a realistic sense of Emily’s mood and feeling toward her life.

The story-building further proves this when we find out what Emily’s former husband did. She is a woman mourning the life she thought she had and realizing that it wasn’t ever what it seemed. Her story shatters the middle-class American dream illusion. You can see the amount of thought Haylon put into this story strewn across the pages. He carefully chose each word and the sequence in which he told us the events. Everything has a purpose in this story.

I appreciated that the author shows that psychologists do not always have it all together. We often assume the people who are paid to handle the emotions of another human don’t have many of their own. That they are somehow immune from the problems that life often brings. But that couldn’t be further from the truth, and Haylon does an excellent job displaying that fact. Haylon also did well portraying the lives and issues of Emily’s college-aged clients. Writers above the age of twenty can often miss the mark when attempting to realistically portray people under a certain age. I’ve personally encountered young women like Jelly and have heard real-life stories of people in Mana’s situation.

The College Shrink is a beautifully written literary fiction novel with realistic characters that readers can identify with. Dealing with topics of romance, friendship, relationships, and family, there is something in this story for everyone.

Pages: 262

Coming Soon

Waterbury Winter

Waterbury Winter by Linda Stewart Henley is the story that introduces us to Barnaby Brown. Barnaby is a man living a stagnant life and happens to be an alcoholic. His wife Anna died of cancer years ago, and he finds life without her lonely and dreary. He lives with his parrot, Popsicle, and she’s his only source of joy besides the bottle. He wants to change, but it’s hard. Julia Morgan, another protagonist, finds that turning forty and being single is not what she had in mind when she was younger. One day, Barnaby is invited to a party at a neighbor’s house, and there he meets an old friend, Julia Morgan. What ensues is a story of hope, strength, love, and believing in yourself.

Barnaby is a flawed character, but you’ll find yourself rooting for him throughout the story. He’s likable and sweet. Barnaby finds himself in an interesting love triangle that you’ll find yourself intrigued by. Julia is another character that you’ll come to like. She’s beautiful, intelligent, and is excellent at her job. The two characters have you wondering if it’s possible to start over and make your life better. And if it’s possible to get a second chance at love.

Henley has created a story full of angst and hope that readers will enjoy and perhaps even identify with. There’s even a dash of mystery to keep readers entertained and wondering if they will find the answers they seek.

Waterbury Winter is a heartwarming story that will captivate you until the very end with its romance, mystery, and characters that readers will want to watch grow and develop. Readers will enjoy a tale that has you believing in finding the strength to better yourself and realize that your life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.

Pages: 264 | ASIN : B09CCSJM6H

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