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Beyond The Goodnight Trail

Roy V. Gaston brings us a Classic Western novel based on true historical events. This compelling story follows Pete, a former Texas Ranger, in an action-filled adventure. Pete rides with his friend, Charlie, with the goal of travelling across the state bringing cargo and other riders. All the while there is a dangerous threat looming over them. That is, they need to traverse through land owned by the Comanche; a Native American tribe who are tired of seeing other Natives being used, abused, and taken from their land.

Beyond the Goodnight Trail is based on historical figures and events, and author Roy V. Gaston effectively delivers an engrossing read that feels authentic. Not only did he choose a very intriguing time to write a novel about, but he was able to capture that time cleverly. The dialogue between characters captures the dialect and slang of that period especially well, this can get tiring depending on the reader, but it shows Gaston’s skill in depicting a certain time and place. The author puts even small facts in this novel, like calling Native Americans ‘Indians’ and describing fine details of riding in the West, which helped immersion immensely. Overall, this created a fully realized atmospheric setting that was easy to fall into, though this became easier after the first quarter.

I enjoyed this novel and felt that the pace was quick overall, but I did feel that the start was a bit slow as it was filled with long descriptions of characters. But characters in a novel are arguably the most important, especially for historical-based ones, so this time is beneficial in creating engrossing characters. Beyond the Goodnight Trail performs smoothly in this section as well with an antagonist you love to hate and charming protagonists and side characters. The small biography-like sections at the end of the book were a cherry-on-top as the reader gets to see what became of these historical figures afterward.

Beyond the Goodnight Trail is an exciting adventure novel filled with interesting characters and striking settings. Readers who enjoy a good western will truly appreciate this story, but anyone looking for an entertaining read will find plenty to enjoy.

Pages: 264 | ASIN: B08KSKYZ2P

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From Mystery into Fantastical

Otto Schafer
Otto Schafer Author Interview

The Secret Journal follows two teenagers that uncover a dangerous secret about their town. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting story?

I am a huge fan of archaeology thrillers. I love Indian Jones and National Treasure. The Goonies was my favorite movie as a kid. But I also love fantasy and magic like Tolkien of course, and more modern stuff Like Brent Weeks Lightbringer series. I combined these influences and wrote the book I would want to read.

Petersburg, Illinois was my hometown growing up. It is a beautiful little town full of history and old Victorian era homes. Old Abraham Lincoln himself surveyed the town, and if you visit there you will see it’s a magical place. As a kid, I played in all the mysterious drainage tunnels and I’ve been in some of the basements of those old homes high up on the bluffs. The key locations in the book, including the library, the old Victorian basement, and even the mysterious tunnel are all real, and were described to the best of my memory. So you see, it only made sense Petersburg had to be the setting for the magical story I wanted to tell.

Garrett and Breanne are intriguing and well-developed characters. What were some driving ideals behind their character development?

Garrett is a small-town kid from a blue-collar home who reminded me a lot of myself at his age. The problems I gave him were similar to problems I was going through at his age. Of course, I ramped it up as the story made the transition from mystery into fantastical.

My inspiration for Breanne was inspired by my wife and her father and brothers. I knew I wanted a diverse cast of characters in my book because I value diversity, and I think our culture needs more of it. So writing a young Black girl who wants nothing more than to be a world famous archaeologist like her father was my way of saying to any young girl out there, no matter her culture or background, you can and should be whatever you want to be! I also think it worked well that she couldn’t be any more different than Garrett. He is a poor, small-town kid who has to work side jobs for new shoes and has never really left home. While Breanne is a world traveler, cultured, and incredibly intelligent, yet they are drawn to each other.

I enjoyed the mystery at the heart of this story. Was it planned before writing or did it develop organically while writing?

I am a panster at heart, so I didn’t plot much. I knew what needed to happen by the end of each chapter. I let the characters show me how to get there. Sometimes, I sat back in my chair completely surprised by the path they chose to take. Now that I am working on the third book of the series I plot a little more, but I still let the characters take me away and I am still surprised on a regular basis with the directions they choose to go.

This is book one in your God Stones series. What can readers expect in book two?

In ‘The Secret Journal’ I took readers on a suspenseful mystery where the intensity built chapter by chapter. By the end of the book it is obvious all hell is about to break loose. From the early pages of Book 2 ‘The Keepers of the Light’ that is exactly what happens, and it doesn’t stop. The action picks up as the teens fight for their lives, come to terms with their new reality, and try to save the world. The magic picks up too as we continue to transition from ‘real world’ ‘to a world suddenly saturated in a magic that wasn’t meant for us. I should mention, Book 2, ‘The Keepers of the Light’ is out now and I am hard at work on the 3rd book!

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A history hidden from the world. A truth long sought, but better left unfound. Will two teenagers survive the magical secrets they unearth?
Oak Island, Nova Scotia. Breanne Moore blames herself for her mother’s tragic death. So when her archaeologist father is invited on an exciting new dig, she’s determined to tag along and keep him safe. But as the mystery leads them closer to the island’s secret, Breanne’s dreams are filled with visions of a strange boy she’s never met… and a world of flaming carnage.
Petersburg, Illinois. Sixteen-year-old Garrett Turek is the unofficial leader of his fellow outcasts. Grappling with a volatile relationship with his stepfather, he avoids his home life by helping an eccentric accountant restore a historic Victorian house. But when he and his crew stumble on a crusty journal in the basement, Garrett uncovers a dead president’s key to a secret world-saving society.
As Breanne and her dad seek clues to a treasure hidden deep beneath the surface, they trigger a dangerous magic that should have stayed dormant forever. And when Garrett closes in on the truth, he’ll question everything he thought he knew and find trust in a girl from far away as they prepare to battle a dangerous foe.
Can the two would-be heroes fulfill a powerful prophecy and save the planet from destruction?
The Secret Journal is the first book in the sensational God Stones YA contemporary fantasy series. If you like unusual pairings, well-researched historical backgrounds, and heated suspense, then you’ll love Otto Schafer’s coming-of-age adventure.
Destiny awaits those brave enough to turn the page!

Inspired by the Stories

Marc Curtis Little Author Interview

The Bootlegger’s Mistress follows a young woman who heads north for better opportunities and finds them once she creates a new persona. What was the inspiration for the setup to this novel?

The inspiration came from the stories I heard from many people in my life—mother, aunts, uncles, family friends—who traveled from the southern United States to cities along the East Coast during the Great Migration. I was also inspired by the stories I heard from men and women who encountered the same kinds of agony faced by the protagonist in the The Bootlegger’s Mistress.

Carrie is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?

The development of Carrie Lacey/Dicie Caughman as an unaccommodating, street-wise young girl/woman was driven by a desire to debunk and diminish the image of Black women being impulsive with hair-trigger tempers and unyieldingly iron-willed attitudes.

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

Racial animus, stealing of land in Southern states, and the underestimation of the intelligence of African Americans.

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

I am developing a series in which the first book will be titled Stoops. The availability has not been determined at this point.

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Carrie Lacey’s happy upbringing is seemingly immune from the pressures of growing up Black in rural South Carolina during the Great Depression. But life changes when her mother and six siblings are forced from their Anderson home, leaving Carrie and her father, Hallie.

While working for White businessman Tommy Joe Butler-a bootleg liquor dealer-Carrie becomes aware of the depth of her father’s campaign to change the lives of African Americans. He is using some of the strategies of the Underground Railroad, the nonviolent system of freeing slaves in pre-Civil War America. Her childhood friend, Nappy Eddie, attempts to keep the truth from Carrie, but to no avail. When Butler and Hallie continue to disagree over property ownership, she departs Anderson in frustration.


During her travels, Carrie encounters her alter ego, Dicie Caughman, commencing an odyssey that spans nearly eighty years and numerous locales. Carrie, in the form of Dicie, lives a good life, though marked with deep-rooted secrets.


The Bootlegger’s Mistress embodies the essence of The Great Migration-the decades-long movement of six million African Americans from the racially oppressive South to the economic opportunity-laden North during much of the twentieth century.

In Fiction, Context is Everything

Ed Protzel Author Interview
Ed Protzel Author Interview

Something in Madness concludes your DarkHorse trilogy. Were you able to accomplish everything you set out to do with this series?

I did accomplish all my major objectives for writing the trilogy. My themes came across clearly in each novel, though each had a slightly different emphasis. The struggles of the characters under historical slavery (The Lies That Bind, 1859-61 Mississippi), Civil War guerrilla brutality (Honor Among Outcasts, 1863 Missouri), and, finally, post-war oppression (Something in Madness, 1865 Mississippi), clearly make their points. Though the characters, living in a repressed society, must remain tightlipped, rarely giving speeches, I think the reader gets the idea that humanity can— and must learn to — get along.

In fiction, context is everything, and the main concept carries throughout the series. For example, in book 1, a drifter and a dozen escaped slaves form a partnership to build their own plantation, but pretend their enterprise is a traditional master-slave one to trick the town. At first, the hostility and suspicion between the partners, driven together by circumstances, is palpable. But as they seek common goals under enormous pressure (as they do throughout the series), the partnership’s internal conflict blends into familiarity, friendship, and finally trust. And isn’t that what we aim for ideally?

The plot of each novel ties up neatly and better than I’d hoped. Each involved complicated situations and seemingly insurmountable obstacles for the characters, requiring numerous twists and turns, and ingenuity in the part of the protagonists. I had a lot of fun devising them and hope readers can sense that excitement.

Further, I worked hard to make the major characters (below) complex, fully-formed individuals — Black, white, Native American, mixed-race, male and female  — each with admirable qualities and flaws,  unique personalities, and ways of thinking and speaking:

  • Durk: an imaginative, idealistic hustler, whose ambition brings real danger to himself and his cohorts.
  • Antoinette: a sophisticated, strong woman carrying heavy emotional burdens and secrets.
  • Big Josh: wise, intelligent, highly competent; the group’s real leader, bearing his own past tragedies.
  • Mrs. Marie Brussard French: a reclusive, powerful planter controlling the town and perhaps a bit mad.
  • Devereau French: the unhappy and embittered French family heir.
  • Wounded Wolf: Chickasaw chief whose arc is completed surprisingly in book 3.

In fact, I think the arc of the series as a whole worked in tandem with the character arcs of each novel. As for the plots, the final novel not only ties up a number of tangled situations within the its storyline, using clever tricks and surprising gambits played out dramatically in court, but the novel also resolves a number of issues left unresolved from book 1 in an emotionally satisfying and meaningful way.

Was there anything in the story, that developed organically while writing, that surprised you?

Actually, my novels develop almost entirely organically. I never get bored because of the exciting surprises I encounter along the way: plot, dialogue, characters, everything. It’s a hard slog, but the constant need for invention keeps me, and the story, fresh.

Some of my most pleasant surprises came through the dialogue. I like to create characters with strong views and then listen to what they have to tell me. Some of the best lines merely pop into my head in the shower or taking a walk.

One good example of strong dialogue is from The Lies That Bind. The Mrs. French character detests being around townspeople. But I needed a way to get the recluse to town so that Durk, the protagonist, could expose her darkest secret to the citizenry. So I have her going to church, unwillingly, once a year:

“I don’t see why I have to go to church every Easter, just because that Man rose from the dead,” the bitter widow said.

I also gained terrific dialogue through my research. In Something in Madness, Colonel Rutherford, one of my few true villains, says some shocking things about race relations. Rutherford is an unregenerate Confederate who refuses to surrender nor to accept emancipation. In this scene, he opines on the concept of Black literacy:

“Negro schools have sprung up like mushrooms after a storm; hell, they’re starting them themselves. These so-called schools are a plague descending upon our civilization.”

Rutherford’s attitudes were taken directly from contemporary letters to newspapers and articles written by correspondents. I merely put them in the mouth of one man — who spoke them in a tense meeting with the story’s hero, Durk, a Southerner who’d fought for the Union. To Rutherford, Durk is a traitor. In other words, the two men don’t like each other, or the other’s politics. Frankly, the racial animus prevalent in 1865 was tough to read about, and I had to put my source materials aside at times.

As for my methodology. First, I came up with the central concept of the trilogy (the partnership), which established the context for everything that happens after, themes and conflicts. Second, I get a rough idea of the arc the plot will take, plus an arc the major characters will undergo, working on their strengths and weaknesses. Then I let the characters go at it to create the plot twists, always working more conflict into every situation and scene. Is the story tense enough? Does it move?

For example, Durk and his Black partners are equal; they have to trust each other. But with Durk acting as front man for their enterprise, what if his ego drives him to gamble on the cotton market? What if that venture endangers their whole scheme?

I have to figure my way through all the possibilities. That constant need for invention creates suspense for the reader — and a lot of fun for the writer.

What has been the most surprising reader reaction to your books in this series?

How I write the female characters, without a doubt the most commonly asked question. After the publication of The Lies That Bind, I was invited to speak to a book club with about a dozen women and a few men. I went there with the notion of discussing many of the book’s elements, but the major thing they wanted to discuss was how I could write the women so well! In retrospect, there were two reasons for that.

Most importantly, I set out to give the women’s stories, Mrs. French and Antoinette predominately, as much weight as the men’s in terms of plot and outcomes. Not doing so would, in my opinion, sabotage the notion of “equality” and realism, an omission committed by far too many male writers past and perhaps present.

And second, I asked for and received feedback from female writers, friends, and my most ardent fan and critic, my wife, who often pointed out: “A woman wouldn’t say that” or asked  “How would she feel about…” And she was always right.

What project are you working on next?

I’ve been considering a sequel to The Antiquities Dealer, my futuristic suspense thriller featuring the clever David Greenberg, released in 2018. The story involves the search by Muslim, Jewish, and Christian extremists to find the surviving nail from the Crucifixion, tied to an attempt by a secret society to clone Jesus Christ. Murders, puzzles, and romance drive the suspense toward a surprising conclusion. In the meantime, I’ve begun working on another sci-fi thriller, Remembering Planet Earth, where in the not-so-distant future, our world has become an offbeat tourist destination for advanced, wealthy aliens — they’re here to have fun and observe…what? In both sci-fi scenarios, I get to explore politically and socially relevant themes, and offer up possible consequences.

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Appomattox ended the war with a penstroke…
but the struggle for freedom had only begun.

1865. After the Civil War, Durksen Hurst and three black friends return home to a devastated Mississippi, the sole survivors of a Union colored cavalry regiment. But instead of peace, they find unregenerate Confederates who reject emancipation still in charge.

Undeterred, Durk opens a law practice to help disenfranchised freedmen — only to be threatened by powerful planters and nightriders. A black school is burned; a petition march to Jackson is terrorized. And when one of his friends goes missing, Durk is horrified to discover Black Codes being used to force freedmen into brutal servitude. Clever Durk schemes to liberate them but must contend with armed ruffians — and a rigged court system. Will fire and bullets prevail?

In this concluding chapter of Ed Protzel’s DarkHorse Trilogy, Something in Madness illuminates Reconstruction, the least understood epoch in American history, exposing the origin of America’s ongoing racial divide.


WHAT LED TO THIS UNLIKELY FRIENDSHIP?

Read The Lies That Bind, book 1, and Honor Among Outcasts, book 2.

The Tragedy of Misunderstandings

Alexa Kingaard
Alexa Kingaard Author Interview

My Name is Rose follows a curious young woman who leaves a commune to explore the world and find herself. What were some ideas that informed this novels development?

The thread that runs through my novels is nostalgia. As a baby boomer, I lived through some of the best decades, experienced the life-changing views of all Americans that were shaped by the Vietnam conflict, as well as the hippie peace movement that followed. I was never extreme, but fads began and ended in California. A teenager or young adult couldn’t help but be swept up in the changes that were happening, and communes were an escape for many of my generation who preferred the unhurried environment they provided.

The plot line of Rose’s lineage sprang up from the well-known fact that “free love” was embraced during this time, especially in San Francisco, the poster city for peace rallies and an over-indulgence of mind-altering drugs. Without degrading personal choices or judging anyone’s character, I thought it would be an interesting perspective to pursue from the point of view of one couples’ offspring. This nugget of inspiration has nothing to do with my life or direct involvement, but is an encapsulated version of what might have happened in this situation. There was no particular incident that triggered this story, but it flowed easily once I started to write.

I enjoyed Rose’s character and evolution. Was there anything from yourself that you put into Rose’s character?

Like Rose, I was never the center of attention growing up and spent more time observing than participating. I cultivated my skills that were more cerebral, as opposed to physical, and Rose has a touch of my personality in her. I was able to weave her life through the years not so much with first-hand experience, but with knowledge I had acquired over decades that helped me to understand what links hearts and souls together. My protagonists are ordinary people dealing with difficult circumstances. My antagonists are as much self-doubt, anger and immaturity as they are a person, as we can damage ourselves just as easily as we can be damaged by another human being. The tragedy of misunderstandings and mistakes that lead to estrangement is something many of us have felt, and this particular family saga puts into perspective how everyone plays a part in the final outcome. As an author, I have the ability to shape my characters – the way they think, dress, talk, behave – in order to present a tight, neat package with what I hope is a satisfying ending for my readers.

I find that writers often ask themselves questions and let their characters answer them. Do you think was true for this book?

Great question! That is absolutely true in this story! When I started to think about this novel in my head, before I even started writing it, I knew there were a few endings that I could create. As I wrote, and the characters and situations evolved, I considered all of them in the back of my mind and how I would determine the final chapters. Interestingly, when I got to that section and the question of who Rose’s biological father was, the words just spilled onto the page. I didn’t question it, scrapped the other endings, and let it emerge to a natural conclusion. It was seamless.

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

During my first nine weeks of quarantine, I completed the first draft of my third novel, MIRACLE. The story revolves around two young women in the 1950s’. One lives in Southern California and must come to terms with the fact that four unsuccessful pregnancies leave adoption as the only option for herself and her husband. The inability to qualify with the adoption agency due to their advancing age – almost thirty was old in the 50s’ – steers them towards an alternative solution of adopting a child outside the United States. From 1945 to the 1970s, the Canadian government created maternity homes for young women who were without a spouse or family assistance. Forced to give birth in secrecy, it was understood that they would leave their baby behind for adoption by a suitable couple. The second young lady finds herself in a position that demands she reside in one of these homes for the last part of her pregnancy where she agonizes about the ultimate sacrifice that is forced upon her. These two women are destined to connect, but the ending is not as one might expect. I hope to have MIRACLE ready for publication by mid-2021.

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Rose is unsettled, curious, and bored. Life in a hippie commune in the ‘70s is her parent’s dream come true, not hers. She doesn’t share their passion for living off the land, nor does she enjoy the isolation that is thrust upon her. When she convinces them to send her to public school in the nearby town, a new world opens up to her.

As she pursues her education, Rose chooses a different path, leaving her parents heartbroken at her insistence they are hiding something from her. She’s convinced her father isn’t the man her mother married.

Although she finds love far away from her roots and upbringing, her wounds only deepen as she keeps her family at arm’s length. What she loses during those years can only be retrieved with her understanding that “a Rose by any other name is still a Rose.”

Our Immigrants’ Son

Our Immigrants’ Son is written in Irish Prose according to the author. It tells the life and history of one family and their voyage to America and how they build a life for themselves and future generations. Patrick and Mary set out from County Waterford Ireland to Boston Massachusetts aboard the Sweden packet ship. Once arriving they married and started their lives, Patrick was a mason and Mary kept the home running and bartered her skill with neighbors to help keep them going. From here Patrick and Mary have seven children and this book gives readers a taste of what it was like to grow up in mid 1800’s. It details the work the family members engaged in, the struggles of surviving in a new land, and adapting to everything life threw at them. The poems takes us from 1845 to current day with the Murphy family.

When reading this story, I felt like I was sitting around listening to family elders telling stories. Those times when the family is all together and the oldest generations tell everyone how they all came to be where they are now. The prose has that oral history feel to it, often repeating details over and over at times as you get new information. You can tell John Francis Patrick Murphy is very proud of his family’s accomplishments, of all they went through to build the rich history they now have here in America. They did not just move here and survive, they thrived, built a community and a genuine dedication to the world they immigrated to. They passed those beliefs and morals on to their children and grandchildren and those same values are still being passed on today.

The organization of the book is linier for the most part, as it is written in prose some back tracking and circling of events is to be expected. I love all the photos and news clippings that are included. Everything from ship manifests in handwritten notations to newspaper articles and original and touched up photos of family and places they have been. Murphy states that this is a biography-based historical fiction. So, while some of the events and information are fictional it is based on historical facts, he was able to collect through a variety of sources. Murphy also states that he wants readers to use his story as inspiration to tell their own family history. His book is an example of how to keep the family history and spirt alive and wants others to share in that joy and adventure.

Our Immigrants’ Son will appeal to people that like seeing history in a real, relatable way, that want something different than your typical textbook explanations of things. Even if all the information isn’t historically accurate, there is enough to show you what life was like in the 1800’s for a young immigrant family trying to make a life in the new world.

Pages: 436 | ASIN: B08FXY9CCX

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I Write Historical Romance

Anne Armistead
Anne Armistead Author Interview

With Kisses From Cécile tells the story of a friendship separated by an ocean but connected through letters. What was the inspiration for the setup to this enthralling story?

My co-author Jan’s family has carefully preserved the letters Cécile Cosqueric wrote to Jan’s grandmother Ruth over the course of 1919 to 1922, and when she shared them with me, I fell in love with both Cécile and Ruth. I could not get Cécile’s voice out of my mind! The letters are gorgeous, and Cécile included art work and souvenirs for Ruth in her postings. You are totally swept away into Cécile’s Paris, post-World War 1. Jan and I knew we could not get all of Cécile’s letters embedded into a story arc, and we did not have Ruth’s letters, of course. We decided to create a fictional framework for the story, creating the character of Maggie who learns about her great-grandmother Ruth while she accompanies Ruth’s daughter, Maggie’s grandmother, to Paris. Maggie has experienced the trauma of a marriage coming apart because of her husband’s infidelity. Learning about the strong women of her own lineage who have faced tragedy encourages Maggie’s resolve to face her own trauma and sense of loss. Our story arc has Maggie coming to acceptance and forgiveness, similar to how Ruth did, supported by her confidante Cécile’ who is facing her own mortality.

Cécile and Ruth are intriguing and well-developed characters. What were some driving ideals behind their character development?

With Kisses from Cécile is a coming of age one for both Cécile and Ruth, who were 18 and 13 at the time of the story. Their mothers are very much products of their own Victorian era and are not supportive of the changes happening after World War 1 which allow girls more freedom than they had experience themselves. For Cécile, the loss of so many men in the War meant opportunities for young women to enter the work force and travel unchaperoned in the work world. Cécile embraced being employed, commuting on the metro, meeting American soldiers still in Paris, and learning as much as she could about American culture. Her words dance off the pages of her letters that are imbued with her extraverted approach to life. She loved flirting, dancing, drawing, and anything celebrity, especially American celebrity. We wanted to be sure to do her justice in the book, to let the reader realize Cécile’s youth and vitality and faith. She was determined to live her life as fully as possible while fighting against the consumption that cut it short. Her life experiences were shaped by her as a child surviving with her family the Paris bombings during World War 1 and her illness. We wanted to show how her strength and resolve helped Ruth survive her own traumatic experience.

We had insight personally into Ruth because Jan knew her grandmother, and her personal relationship with her helped us craft the Ruth you meet in the book. Although we fictionalized some of Ruth’s real story, we did relay the main event serving as the catalyst for the plot as it did happen. As a young girl, Ruth must face the personal consequences of her own actions that change her and her family forever. Her sensitivity and devotion to her father and her mother are tested while she attempts to live a lie crafted for her own protection. When she strikes out to travel to see her father, from whom her mother and sisters have been separated, she learns how strong she can be and what possibilities exist for independent women, as illustrated to her when she meets and works for the two women who own their own tea room. We crafted scenes to show Ruth’s tenacity, stubbornness, loyalty, and intelligence so the reader would grow not just to sympathize and empathize with her but come to admire her, as well. The real Ruth did marry Clinton, and she cherished both her life with him and her letters from Cécile. At Ruth’s death, the letters passed to Jan.

What was the writing collaboration like between the two of you?

When I met Jan, she had written a draft of a middle grade story telling Ruth’s story, but merging in Cécile’s letters had become problematic. Jan had tried to include all of the letters, that in actuality span over four years. Because I had fallen desperately in love with Cécile, I wanted her letters and Ruth’s story to be in readers’ hands, so I asked Jan if she might consider a collaboration with me. I write historical romance, and I thought of an idea to create a contemporary framework of the story using the character of Maggie. By approaching the story within this framework, we could weave in the four years of letters by allowing Maggie to be the one who reads the letters while hearing her grandmother tell her Ruth’s story, thereby the reader reads the letters within Maggie’s point of view. The draft of this approach felt like a winning one, so we proceeded to revise until we felt the story was ready to publish. Reader feedback asking for more about both Ruth and Maggie is thrilling, making Jan and I feel that all the years and drafts we spent on trying to write this story was well worth it!

The other major part of our collaboration is how we capitalize on each other’s strengths: mine is the actual writing and Jan’s is the creative marketing/jewelry design part of our brand. Jan, owner of Storyology Design, is well known for her antique coin purse necklaces, for which she has gained a following. She has booths at the two large antique markets in the Southeast: Scott’s Antique Market and Lakewood 400 Antiques. When we neared the publication phase for With Kisses From Cécile, we decided to publish it ourselves, expanding Jan’s company to Storyology Design & Publication, and Jan created a jewelry line called The Cécile Collection, giving us a unique marketing angle where we could reach the target audience of readers and jewelry customers. So far, we have met with success, with the books and jewelry selling out at each market!

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

I am writing a time travel romance, THE CAROUSEL TRAVELER, in which my protagonist Mirabelle Montgomery travels to 1900 Paris. It will be published by Storyology Design & Publication and for which Jan is designing the Mirabelle Jewelry Collection. We are planning a December 2020 release.

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AWARD-WINNING STORY OF LOVE AND REDEMPTION, DRAWN FROM REAL-LIFE 
Winner of 2020 Georgia Independent Author of the Year, Historical FictionSilver Award Winner, Literary Titan November 2020Visiting Paris to find out more about her great-grandmother’s World-War-I-era pen pal Cécile, a forlorn Maggie, reeling from discovering her husband’s infidelity, learns of devastating one-hundred-year-old secrets involving loss and forgiveness. Revelations about her family’s past challenge Maggie’s decision to face her future alone.Maggie Ruth Mitchell’s failed reconciliation with her unfaithful husband leaves her heartbroken–and pregnant. She accepts her family’s invitation to Paris to pay homage to Cécile, whose World War One era pen pal letters to Maggie’s great-grandmother Ruth are cherished family mementoes. Through reading Cécile’s letters and learning about Ruth’s tragic past, will Maggie find the strength to forgive and love again?In the year 1919 following World War One, Ruth and Cécile begin corresponding through an American-French pen pal program. Cécile is fighting against consumption, a life-threatening illness. Ruth is hiding the truth about a tragic death that has torn her family apart. She draws strength to face what fate brings from her pen pal’s inspiring letters, each signed With Kisses from Cécile.Visit storyologydesign.com for THE CÉCILE COLLECTION of Heirloom Quality Fine Jewelry and Storyology Books & Gifts Collections.

The Secret Journal

The Secret Journal (God Stones Book 1) by [Otto Schafer]

The Secret Journal by Otto Schafer is an intriguing story of two intertwined lives of Garrett Turek and Breanne Moore. The story is an archaeological narrative with a touch of family, friendship, magic, and loyalty. Breanne Moore, a young lady being brought up by a single father, stumbles upon a mysterious artifact that holds secrets like Pandora’s box. Garret on the other hand is a young normal boy living his life under the pressure of his father. Garret and his friends find a journal in the basement of an old Victorian house and the secrets buried under their town come to life. When Garrett and Breanne’s paths cross, they realize that so much is at stake and they have to act fast before everything falls to shambles.

Otto Schafer has created a uniquely captivating story. The author connects the history of Ancient Egypt and the modern world in a meticulous yet engaging manner. The Secret Journal sets places the bar high for the rest of the series. The plot development of the novel is impressive and every small detail is captured to ensure that the readers are not lost

Every character is crafted carefully, and I enjoyed the slow evolution of their characters that unfolded throughout the entirety of the novel. Otto is such a diverse writer that he was able to differentiate each character in the book. Characters you empathize with are crucial to telling a good thriller and Otto Schafer has succeeded. Practically every chapter ends on a cliffhanger which made it difficult for me to find a spot to put the book down. The mystery at the heart of this story is beguiling but never bewildering, I understood what was happening, and why, even as the twists came.

The use of vivid imagery helped to immerse me in a world that is fully realized and painstakingly created. One minute you are in Egypt and the other you are in a basement somewhere in Illinois without getting lost for even a second. The Secret Journal is a thrilling young adult adventure story that is relentlessly entertaining.

Pages: 452 | ASIN: B081ZFMNB3

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