Crickets follows a woman back to her hometown after her father’s death, where she’s forced to face her past and an unexpected enemy. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
This is probably a stereotypical middle-aged peril, but going home always feels to me like stepping into a different person. I think stories born in homecomings offer really fertile ground for character growth. Your review said this more eloquently, but there seems to be something special about “home” that forces us to face the people we used to be and the aspects of our lives we can physically move on from in other settings.
Kara is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
Thanks! I was interested in exploring the ways trauma can stall someone and present various challenges which in most cases aren’t easily seen by others. I think Kara, who’s so bright and aware of what’s going on for her internally, provided a good vehicle for this. Writing in first person gives me a chance to show how at odds her internal narrative is with the face she presents to the world, and I think her struggle is familiar to a lot of people who live quietly with their trauma (so I hope I got this right).
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
I mentioned I was interested in the longer-term effects of trauma, but Crickets also gave me the chance to learn more about how our society treats sexual crimes in particular so differently than other types of crime. I was shocked by the number of rape kits that aren’t even processed and the various ways victims of sexual crimes are often gaslighted—whether intentionally or not—as they report these experiences and try to get justice. The lengths women in particular, but also other marginalized groups go to trying to avoid assault in the first place is unreal, but learning more about how many of these victims are treated “after” was especially disturbing to me, and this is an experience I think should be better understood so we can properly address it.
When and where will your book be available?
Crickets is available for pre-order on Amazon and will be available for purchase from major retailers on September 13th.
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Monsters & Mist by Taylor Fenner is a thrilling fantasy novel that goes to great lengths to develop a fully realized world with attention paid to even the tiniest details. Intriguing characters are painstakingly developed to ensure we, as readers, understand their motivations, so when they are thrust headlong into precarious situations we are certain to be biting our nails.
This was an engrossing action adventure novel with characters that are well fleshed out and a story that is engaging and rich with creative details and imaginative lore.
Readers are provided with a bit of Esternwhorl history at the beginning of every chapter. This serves to provide even more backstory and world building for readers who like to be consumed by their epic fantasy novels. This reminds me of books found throughout the Elder Scrolls video game where a whole other world feels like it is being built behind the scenes as you progress through the story. I felt like this Esternwhorl history could easily become its own companion novella with how much details is provided in this suspenseful fantasy novel.
Is this a character driven story or a plot driven story? I think this story transcends either category because I feel like the momentum of the story is pushed forward, at different points, by different aspects making for a very engaging read as we move from one tense situation to another, and one from one intriguing character to another. Once we get past the world building, the 400+ pages of this book fly by in a whirlwind of emotionally charged story telling.
Monsters & Mist is an engrossing story that I highly recommend to anyone looking to lose themselves in a fantasy world that is richly imaginative. From an author who has clearly honed her craft through her young adult paranormal fantasy Eternals Trilogy, Taylor Fenner provides readers with a vibrant fantasy story.
Pages: 418 | ASIN: B08VWFN9S5
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The Old Men Who Row Boats and Other Stories by David Joseph is a collection of fourteen short fiction stories that are set in cities in Spain and Portugal. The stories feature a variety of people, old and young, tourists, natives, and immigrants and range from 6-20 pages in length. Although the stories are about everyday life, special or tragic moments the characters experience are the true focus of the narrative. Several themes are used in multiple stories including death and loss, older characters watching the lives of young people and remembering when they were that age themselves, and being alone but not felling lonely.
This book had an interesting variety of stories that I enjoyed reading. The short stories were quick to get through, which made the book a fast read overall. I liked that I could read several stories in one sitting. Although some of the stories had similar themes, they did not seem repetitive because the characters were so varied. While I enjoyed the stories I felt that some of them were character driven stories, focusing on the characters routines, interactions and relationships, where I wanted to see a bit more focus on plot development.
Some of the stories were told in the first person point of view, while others were in third person, and several stories featured unnamed characters, often the narrator. I enjoyed reading the details of the characters lives and the descriptions of Spanish and Portuguese cities, landmarks, and coastlines; which to me is an exotic culture. I liked that the first story and last story both had old men in boats, which created a kind of symmetry to the book as a whole, however I didn’t prefer the narrative jump back and forth between old men rowing boats and Picasso’s painting Guernica. This made it feel a bit disjointed and disrupted the overall smooth flow of the story. Many of the stories did not end happily or were focused on past tragedies such as death, suicide, and abortion. But I felt that this was true to life, where happy endings are not always normal, and this kept the stories grounded rather than fanciful.
The Old Men Who Row Boats and Other Stories is a thought-provoking collection of emotionally resonant stories that explore life in various seemingly prosaic moments that cumulatively have a profound impact on the reader.
Pages: 142 | ASIN: B08T1Q4TPM
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A Change of Scenery follows a woman trying to reclaim her life by moving and finds a cowboy’s who challenges her in more ways than one. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
A Change of Scenery is Book 4 in The Canon City Chronicles series, and deals with the lives of twin little boys, Cale and Hugh Hutton, from Book 3, Romancing the Widow. In continuing the family saga, time passes until the boys are old enough to tell their story, which takes us to the silent-picture days of filming Westerns in Canon City, Colorado. Canon City was an early “Hollywood” before Hollywood, with actors such as Tom Mix filming many pictures here. Local ranchers and cowboys were often used as extras in the films.
Ella is an intriguing and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?
Ella Canaday feels robbed of the two most important things in her life, but she refuses to remain in her prominent father’s home as an invalid. She sets out to make her own life, yet with no hopes of regaining her losses. However, when faced with the “impossible,” she does not shrink away from the risks and rises to the task — with common-sense encouragement from a local rancher, Cale Hutton.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
Important themes for this book are second changes, forgiveness, and courage.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am working on Book 5 in the series featuring Cale’s widowed brother Hugh. However, on June 1 Barbour Publishing is releasing a contemporary romance collection titled Always A Wedding Planner. My novella in the collection is “Taste and See.” And of course, my hero is a cowboy.
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The Sound of Her Voice is an emotional and inspirational story of your life and all the obstacles you’ve overcome. Why was this an important book for you to write?
I was inspired to write The Sound of Her Voice by an inner longing to heal and find that inner voice that was never allowed to be heard when I was a child growing up on the Kibbutz. The book helped me confront and heal the pain of my childhood. I was also motivated to tell my story to help others confront their pain and learn how to heal.
The Sound of Her Voice is a story for anyone who has ever felt the need to heal inner wounds so they will be able to open their hearts and live life more fully.
What is one piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you were younger?
I grew up feeling very isolated and lonely. I would always wonder what was wrong with me that I felt that way. Later in my life a therapist told me “That’s what’s right with you – it is your sensitivity. You need to learn to believe in your own voice.” I wish someone had said that to me earlier in life.
What were some themes that were important for you to convey in this memoir?
Healing is so important. Without it you cannot open your heart to the vulnerabilities in life that are so intertwined with true feelings and living a full life. The impact of having to repress individuality and the self-expression of childhood left a lifelong impact on my ability to truly give voice to my inner feelings. When I reached the age of 70 and lived in peaceful Punta del Este in Uruguay with my husband, I was finally able to tell the story of the little girl who could not express her innermost fears and resentments. The beauty of Punta with its beaches, and the embracing and healing sea surrounding both sides of the town, somehow made her bubble up.
The healing also helped me to finally my home – both spiritually and physically. Growing up on the Kibbutz in the Children’s House left me with a yearning for a permanent home that provided the comfort of family and the solace of togetherness.
Is there anything that you see differently in your life now that you’ve had time to reflect and write this memoir?
Yes. My relationship with grief has changed. I now possess an inner peace that I didn’t have before the little girl in me was allowed to tell her story. Once I was able to get in touch with my grief and get past the denial that I carried throughout my life, I was able to forgive and truly understand my mother and what she must have gone through leaving her old life behind and raising a family in a new country with new rules.
I now have a more direct connection to grief and can accept it and work through its various stages. I recently lost my dog – the love of my life — which I would never have been able to accept and speak about before writing The Sound of Her Voice. And now, I have made room in my heart for a new dog.
I hope others who read my book will be able to confront their own inner grief and work through it the way I gradually let the little girl inside me express herself.
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Ten Keys to Effective Leadership: A Guidebook for Women of Faith will help readers understand the fundamentals and essentials to effective leadership. Marilyn L. Donnellan MS expounds qualities of a great leader in a straightforward but illuminating manner. To be in charge of a group of people; whether big or small, means that they trust you and believe in your views. To be a leader means that you have to take every challenge as it comes and be strong for your people, something not many people are built to do. Marilyn L. Donnellan MS’s notes on effective leadership will help you understand that being the head of anything requires skills, dedication, patience, a forgiving heart and kindness among other virtues.
Marilyn L. Donnellan MS explains why female leadership is important in society. The author compares women in power in the 60s to women in power today. I enjoyed reading her thoughts on feminism as it gives one an understanding of why female empowerment has been a crucial process throughout the years. Reading the author’s opinion on women in leadership and why they deserve more spaces was eye opening.
This book is most beneficial to women of faith that are looking for way to increase their leadership skills and encourages more women to get into power and challenge men that have been raised in misogynistic settings. What I liked most was that the book goes beyond leadership and educates readers on how to become better people, live righteously, and improve your relationship with God to become a better Christian. Marilyn L. Donnellan MS goes on to explains how these traits go hand in hand and improves your leadership abilities.
The book explores the different myths of female leadership that have been passed on through the years and challenges her readers to seek the truth by providing facts. Though she bases her teachings on religion and the bible, the author also considers non-religious folks and readers from different backgrounds. She uses a modest and friendly language which encourages one to keep reading.
The title of the book had me assume we would only learn about leadership, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the book teaches readers so much more. Leadership and having faith are the main discussions but the author also teaches the reader on how to live with people, correcting mistakes and being a wholesome person.
Ten Keys to Effective Leadership: A Guidebook for Women of Faith is an enlightening and inspirational book that will encourage women, and men, to lead and provide them with the tools be successful when they do.
Pages: 205 | ASIN: B07SQ3ZPBF
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The Essential Revolution gives readers an inspiring story that reveals the possibility of human awakening. Why was this an important book for you to write?
As I started this book four years ago, I knew what was coming and felt compelled to write this due to the situation we are in right now. To be honest, I couldn’t not write it. It was as if I was being pushed every day to get it done.
I enjoyed the stories you shared in this book. What were some themes that were important for you to focus on in these stories?
It felt important to include themes that surrounded the struggles all of us go through in daily life. By doing this, my hope is that it has helped those who read it move through those struggles in a more efficient and smoother way.
What is one thing you hope readers take away from your book?
That they are responsible for the level of joy and contentment within their lives, or lack thereof, and that their perception of what is happening, happened, or might happen, is key to the experience they will have. Equally important, is that they understand that their perception can be altered (by choice) at any time once they step into a new way of speaking to themselves internally. NO ONE else can do this for them, as they must be at cause for this shift to occur within. Once they get clarity around those universal truths, they have not only already changed themselves, but have shifted the world. It’s that easy.
Do you plan to write more books on this topic?
I am putting together the rest of the story right now. There are two more books in this trilogy. As well, there are some workbooks that are being formed in my mind, so stay tuned.
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American Fries: A Queer Farce is Tom Beattie’s fun play where he explores how Molière’s playwright style could have been if it had included some queerness in it. Marriage equality and same-sex love are the main aspects dealt with in his play, all done in a fun and hilarious way that will leave its readers constantly smiling and giggling at every turn of the page.
The book includes two different plays. The first one, American Fries, based in seventeenth-century Paris, follows the friends Bayonet and Heavyset as they conspire to find a way to pair and marry each other’s kids. However, the girls Crepsuzette and Anisette, and the boys Pirouette and Leatherette, may have some different plans of their own. Although it is a period play, it is told in a modern way with modern humor, making it very enjoyable to read. The second play included in the book, Once Married, goes back to modern day to follow the lives of Tom and David, a gay couple from the United States in their early sixties, with the deep wish of having the freedom to marry each other without fear.
The plays included in the book were fun and easy to read. Even though the book deals with serious themes such as same-sex marriage, the author expresses his story and his feelings in an entertaining and natural way. I was constantly smiling throughout the different plays, highly appreciating Tom Beattie’s humor. Even the names of the characters made me laugh every time that they appeared on the page, they had such an unique and creative touch to them. The stories told were not only funny but also endearing, being able to portray by the end the significance of companionship and love regardless of gender, a very powerful message in this day and age.
I found the first play, American Fries, to be unique and would love to see a longer one in the future with the same style of writing and humoristic attitude. The deep feelings of love are portrayed in a simple, yet powerful manner, allowing the reader to feel connected to the characters and understanding the depth of their emotions. I only wish that the plays had been longer, there is still some potential that can be explored further with the characters that were introduced throughout the story.
American Fries: A Queer Farce is a fast paced and easy read with entertaining humor and an overall imaginative and creative style. Author Tom Beattie gives readers such an endearing and enjoyable reading experience.
Pages: 143 | ASIN:
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