To Never Know depicts the story of Steven and how he is affected by his life choices and forces beyond his control. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
The story is loosely based on the time period I was in high school up until the time I reached my mid-twenties. I always wondered what life could have been like had I taken more risks when I was a teenager. I was in Florida at the time of 9/11 and right as it happened, I wondered if any of my friends or acquaintances had been affected. There was no Facebook back then so it was more difficult to keep in touch with old friends and classmates at that time. The idea became a story which I felt should be told regarding love, loss and the importance of taking risks in life. You never know when it will be too late to reach out to someone. Therefore it is so important to make good choices today and always follow your heart. As I wrote the novel, I explored the notion of reaching out to someone who lost a daughter in 9/11. I believe this storyline made the novel more powerful. I hope the reader will be moved.
Steven is an interesting and relateable character. What was the inspiration for the main character’s traits and dialogue?
This character is all me. He speaks like me and acts like me especially during the time period the book is set in. I have changed considerably in some respects but most of the dialogue and traits I carry with me to this day.
What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?
The moral of the story is that we must move forward and learn from our mistakes. We will make mistakes but we can’t beat ourselves up over them. We must try to value the beauty of life and take pleasure in the little things. I have a fascination for the minor details of life. In the end of this story, lives have been transformed due to the events that took place during the course of the novel. I want people to come away with a feeling that anything is possible if you are just willing to take risks in life.
What is the next book that you are working on and when can your fans expect it to be out?
The next book is called The Separation and is a sci.fi. book. It was supposed to come out in late August but due to the passing of a friend, I couldn’t make the Booklife contest I wanted to enter so I delayed the release to late November. It will definitely come out then. Expect to be moved. It’s a very thought-provoking story.
Steven Lewis is a young man with no concrete plans for his future after school. For a short time during high school, he wanted to ask a girl named Kelly out on a date but never had the courage to do so. As his life is taken in a different direction than he had hoped, he holds on to the thought of actually getting to know Kelly. Even after several years pass, he is determined to find her again. His quest to know her leads him to a tragic discovery. When he meets her mother, Emily, his life will never be the same. This is a story of love, loss and hope. It is an unforgettable personal journey about the quest for happiness after tragedy.
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Mademoiselle Alice tells an intimate tale that takes readers on a personal journey through life and love. What was the inspiration that made you want to turn Alice’s life into a story?
I spent three years writing a history book called Alice & Eiffel, A New History of Early Cinema and the Love Story Kept Secret for a Century. As soon as I finished it, my girlfriends said: “We want a novel!” Alice wrote a memoir that is very cryptic, only 120 pages. I felt that she had a lot of secrets which she alluded to, particularly about her father, her experiences at the convent, and her relationship with Eiffel.
Why did you choose to write the novel in the first person?
When I started the novel, I spent several months writing Alice’s story in the third person, but it felt distant. I felt like I was flying over the rooftops, getting an occasional peek through a crack in the curtains. The novel didn’t start to come to life until I switched to first person and told it from Alice’s point of view.
Being basically kidnapped from her grandmother’s home at four and then being dropped off at the convent at six were the heartbreaks in her childhood that most captured my imagination and sympathy. Then of course when her father died when she was seventeen, that was the coup de grâce for her. In her memoirs she began with “My destiny was no doubt traced before my birth,” and I think she was referring to the early connections between her father and Eiffel since Eiffel really did go to Chile the year before she was born.
Alice Guy Blaché was a pioneer with so many accomplishments. What was the one thing that surprised you the most about Alice?
The biggest surprise was that although Eiffel was wildly successful and a very attractive person, Alice is more compelling. I think the story-telling gene that she developed was a result of her early experiences and not a function of ambition to make it in the movies which did not exist when she started.
The first film she wrote and directed, La Fée aux Choux, remains iconic in symbol and mystery. In one minute she tapped into the deepest themes of human experience: romantic love, sexual attraction, and family. We know it when an artist touches that chord, cuts to the core of something deep.
The temptation with a biography of a famous or accomplished person is to stack up their achievements in an intimidating tower. You can do the same thing with Eiffel. Would you like to read about all forty of the bridges he built culminating in his famous tower? That has been the outline of all the biographies about him. They don’t get close to the real person.
What kind of research did you have to do to maintain the historical accuracy of the book?
I look up all kinds of quirky things. It is not at all efficient, but you have to cast a very wide net. I read French and American newspapers from 1890s through the 1920s, and it is surprising what you run across, such as a column entitled “What makes a woman charming?” The old newspapers reflect how people thought back then. The phrase “gender roles” wasn’t coined until 1955. In Alice’s time, being a wife and mother were a woman’s duties, not roles she chose. The “old maids” were viewed as having missed the boat of life.
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am working on scripts for Mademoiselle Alice. I think it would make a good television series starting with the California Gold Rush. Many people came from France to California during that period and I believe Alice’s father was among them. Everyone wonders how Alice was able to do cowboy and western films. I think it was in her DNA.
A deeply evocative story inspired by real events: the love affair between two unforgettable people—Gustave Eiffel, the builder of the Eiffel Tower, and Alice Guy Blaché, a pioneer in the art of cinema. Mademoiselle Alice steps out of the shadows into the reader’s mind as an endlessly intriguing and entirely relatable young woman. Told through Alice’s eyes, we get to know her, her family, and Monsieur Eiffel. Eiffel is not looking to fall in love—he is a widower who has everything—wit, wealth, fame, and brilliance. He was a friend of Alice’s father who died when she was seventeen, and the story she tells of falling in love with him is funny and emotionally intimate. Alice and Eiffel forge an enduring romantic and intellectual bond. But while she wants to marry him, he refuses because he is so much older than she is. Out of her desire to have a family, she marries a handsome Englishman and travels to the United States, where she works with D. W. Griffith and then opens her own film studio. Some of her emotional experiences find expression in the scenarios she writes for film. Her relationship with Monsieur Eiffel continues on in her mind and leads to some surprising developments. Mademoiselle Alice tells us much about women’s lives during the silent film era in France and the United States. Combining a biographer’s knowledge of her subject with the novelist’s gift for narrative, Janelle Dietrick has crafted a novel that will capture the interest of every reader.
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At 28, it’s bad to be single. After four years of relationship struggles, Cat is ready to try anything.
That’s when her friend tells her about her class’ Dear Santa letters. One little boy asked for a new mommy, and she suggests Cat meets the kid’s dad, just to see where things go. Cat figures it can’t hurt…until she meets a stranger in the midst of a car accident. The man is handsome with a sad look in his eyes. He still wears a wedding band and she’s not sure his heart’s available, even if he makes her heart race. But, maybe he’s a widower? Cat wonders if she should resign herself to being an old maid, or whether she could possibly be the answer to a little boy’s Christmas wish, unless there’s a third option – a future with the stranger.
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Kaye Schmitz’s The Consort Conspiracy talks about an ancient cemetery deep in the Lowland of Georgia that has been there for over two centuries and protects the remains of the infamous murderer whose act of betrayal changed the history of the town and catapulted the descendants of the murdered victim into the nation’s highest political office.
Kate Covington, a thirty one year old intrepid journalist travels to Midway Georgia, the hometown of the current president Wilford Pennington, to film a documentary to help boost his favorability ratings after he could not keep his privates in his pants. The search for answers to her documentary brings her to the cemetery that has buried more secrets than bodies. But her curiosity almost gets her killed.
The book starts steadily but picks up the pace after the introductory. There are several story lines that are juggled and all are meticulously developed. Kaye Schmitz brings them together in surprising ways with twists that I didn’t see coming. I enjoyed the detailed writing style as well as the alternating perspectives, we even get to travel from the past to the present. All of it intricately weaving together story lines that seem to be separate but which culminate in a explosive piece full of suspense.
As Kate busies herself gathering information for her documentary, she unearths a secret about the first family that could lead to their undoing. The truth about the death of Dr. Aaron Pennington, a descendant of the president will also be uncovered. Mr. Wilford’s political career rests on this murder that happened more than two hundred years ago. This all lends to a thrilling joyride of a novel.
Kate has to deal with some highly emotional issues throughout the story, like when she discovers the truth about the death of her mother. A truth that will not only change the town’s history but Kate’s future as well.
The historical facts that have embellished the present tale and the vivid and compelling characters portrayed by the heroes and villains keep one turning the pages. You really can envision how the characters, as well as the locations, look through Kaye Schmitz detailed description.
When the two handsome men Dan Pennington and Joshua Warrington start competing for Kate’s attention the book becomes a can’t-put-it-down tale. By the end the outcome was both satisfying and unexpected. Just when you thought you figured it all out, you realize you don’t. It was well written and keeps one on the edge of their seat. It was one of those stories that you have to read word by word for fear of missing something crucial. It really was a page turner.
Pages: 331 | ASIN: B071G89PBW
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Would you walk a mile for someone you love? What about 300 miles? In John Meyer’s Shadows, Shells and Spain this adult fictionalized travel memoir tells the story of Jamie Draper’s journey on the Camino de Santiago trail.
Jamie Draper was a happily married man who loved his wife Pamela very much. But when she surprised him with a divorce, it had caught him off guard. Ever since he received a postcard addressed to him from Spain, it had sent him on a journey. He quit his job as a history teacher in Canada and moved to Palma, Spain, hoping to reconnect with his wife and discover why she so abruptly left him. He then starts a journey to follow the Camino trail to find his wife by following the subtle hidden clues in her letters to him. Along the way he makes interesting friends and explores the trail with some intriguing strangers. He meets a British woman named Brie Bletcher, who’s estranged from her husband Martin. When Jamie tells her his story, she joins him on the trip. Gaining clues and traveling along a striking trail they hit some snags from missing letters to some stained by the weather. When Jamie discovers that his wife is very sick in a new batch of letters, it gives his mission a new urgency.
This story takes place in present day Spain and some parts of Canada. These are beautiful landscapes on their own and John Meyer is able to bring them to life with vivid details. This being a fictional travel memoir I expected some heavy scene descriptions, but these were broken up by the curious characters that pop up along the trail as well as Jamie’s intereactions with Brie. The story was well written and grows more profound the longer he travels the trail. It had a bit of literary fiction, romance, mystery and drama all wrapped into one story. The theme, I felt, is about life, loss and love, and how to move on from grief. This would be ideal for people who love travelogues and who love tear-jerking novels.
Although I enjoyed reading this book, there’s a lot of factual and historical tidbits that slow the pace of the story. I wish this was streamlined so that I could get back to my favorite part, the characters. Although travel readers will enjoy the architectural highlights of each town and accompanying history. If you can’t make it to Spain, this is your next best option.
Pages: 287 | ASIN: B0756JF632
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Liars by Steven Gillis is a page turner up until the very end. Jaded by his own marriage breakdown, a writer struggling to capture lightning in a bottle twice spies a couple in the supermarket and becomes fixated on them. Eric McManus is the author who has branched out into owning a recording studio, but still chases the dream of again capturing the success that was had with his first book.
I loved this book. I was immediately hooked from the first chapter. The first person narrative style has appealed to me since I devoured Gone Girl, and it’s been rare for me to find a book that I can devour as quickly as I did that one. Liars is well on its way to becoming this.
What I enjoyed most about this book is that the writer doesn’t try to justify how shitty the main character is. He simply paints the character as he is, flaws and all, and leaves you as the reader to deal with it.
This book also brings forth some very interesting ideas about enlightenment as a concept. My favourite quote is from the main character’s live in lover but not girlfriend Gloria, where she explains to McManus that she doesn’t think enlightenment is that great anyway as it only ends up with people being hurt. It’s good that the main character has people who disagree with him and show him alternate views as it becomes very clear that he gets fixated on things and tries to destroy them.
The fixation on the couple in the supermarket only grows throughout the novel, as McManus inserts himself into their relationship by contacting where the female works and getting her to help him with his back garden. I’m glad that the creepiness of this was addressed again by Gloria, because it made me a bit uncomfortable to read this. McManus’ almost compulsive need to destroy this couple and expose their happiness as a ‘lie’, as the title suggests, gets more and more obvious throughout the book. This is especially shown through the passages where McManus says ‘years on, I will write’. It’s almost as if he is using their relationship as an idea for his book because he is stunted and annoyed at his own lack of creative growth.
The book also brings up interesting ideals about love. While McManus is still obviously hurting from the breakdown in his marriage and his tried and failed attempt at having an open relationship with his partner, it’s interesting to read a book that explores this more commonplace idea. I have always been a bit interested in the dynamics of open relationships, and it’s interesting to see whether or not people can put aside their jealousy and truly engage in an open relationship. McManus also mentions that he had sex with women without his wife’s consent, which is another way that open relationships engage. It’s nice that he’s at least a little bit self aware, otherwise this novel would be very difficult to read indeed. I loved reading this book!
Pages: 210 | ASIN: B075F32YR1
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Alice Guy Blaché was a pioneer of her trade with so many accomplishments, feats you could look up and applaud through history. Written fictitiously from the point of view of Alice herself, Mademoiselle Alice tells an intimate and redolent tale, painting Alice in the most relatable way. The reader has a chance to experience through Alice the era she lived in beautiful detail, alongside the relationships that added such color to her life. One, the romance between herself and the renowned Gustave Eiffel himself. Eiffel has no interest in love and yet develops a strong romantic tie with Alice. Their relationship is a cornerstone of Alice’s life and even as she moves on, it reflects throughout her work and pursuits to follow.
Mademoiselle Alice was a powerful and moving story. I applaud Janelle Dietrick and her dedication to bringing Alice Guy Blaché off the dusty pages of history and into present mind. The amount of research alone is worth its own accolade, and Dietrick chose to deliver beyond just that, combining the scholar and the storyteller to create a wonderful recollection of the life of Alice.
One factor that truly stood out to me as a reader, was Dietrick’s innate skill of drawing one in to the many emotions of Alice’s tale. From the budding and fleshed out romance between Eiffel and Alice, her apprehension and excitement when building her own studio, to her joys throughout her journey of motherhood. I found myself feeling the same as Alice and I continued further through her recollection and telling of her own life. Dietrick used the first-person narrative in a masterful and gripping manner, allowing readers to fully immerse themselves in the personality of Alice and her intriguing mind.
Usually, I find myself caught up in some novelists writing style; their sentence structure and syntax. I can honestly say that Dietrick writes such an enriching and powerful story. The writing style flows well. I can’t recall any particular moment while reading where I found myself jarred out of the story as I often have with other writers. There was a well weighted balance of descriptive setting, dialogue, interaction, and historical detail that kept me immersed and entertained.
I have a strong affinity for historical fiction but such does not negate that Mademoiselle Alice: A Novel stands up for itself as a wonderfully well written and fun review of the life of Alice Guy Blaché. You can tell that Janelle Dietrick takes pride in not only her work, but in the dedication to presenting the important role Alice has played in history. Her writing compels the reader to appreciate such without the dryness or brevity of a history book. She breathes life in to Alice, allowing the reader to really appreciate her as a relatable person.
Pages: 369 | ASIN: B074MB6QTH
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The Enigma Dragon: A CATS Tale, by Charles Breakfield and Roxanne Burkey, is a fascinating tale of technological wonderment. The CATS (Cyber Assassin Technology Services) team has assembled from various global points with a singular goal and an overwhelming need to discover the source of North Korea’s missile supply. The team of equally capable and delightfully eclectic personalities masterfully manipulate a world of technological advancements as they handle their own personal crises–one after the other. The authors have created an amazing team of players ranging from married couple, Julie and Juan Rodriguez, to the villainous Marge. The globetrotting CATS team does not disappoint.
My favorite member of the CATS team is likely not the choice of most readers. I was completely enthralled with the story line involving Jamie. It is not often I reread chapters during the first read of a book, but I found myself lost in the tale of loss and despair described in Jamie’s chapter. His is a plot I would love to see further developed in subsequent Enigma books.
Julie and Juan Rodriguez are a couple like no other. The love they show for one another is enviable and not often found in books of this genre. The authors have given Juan some incredible monologues in which he, in no uncertain terms, declares his undying love for Julie. Julie, a dedicated CATS team member, is also a doting mother and exudes power in every way.
Marge, a vile and loathsome woman of pure evil, is the one character readers will revel in hating. The authors have expertly stretched out her character development to slowly reveal exactly how twisted and demented she really is. Without revealing too much about Marge’s wonderful plot twist, I will say I found shock, horror, and satisfaction tied up in one neat package before the end of the book.
Connie, like Jamie, holds a storyline in her hands like a beautiful package just awaiting the untying of its bow. Her dialect alone is a refreshing addition to the dialogue provided throughout the book. She is a loving, cunning, and especially memorable character addition who shows up late in the plot but deserves a regular place in the lives of the CATS team.
My only complaint regarding this book is the excessive use of acronyms. Many of them are humorous and all are quite effective in their descriptions and uses, but I found them to be a bit distracting as I read as many of them are in excess of five letters.
Breakfield and Burkey have created a book fraught with danger, tinged with grim backstories, and peppered with romance. They have indeed achieved a perfect mix of genres in the guise of a technological thrill ride.
I would recommend this book to any reader eager to break into the science fiction genre. The long list of highly relatable characters makes this particular piece the perfect choice for anyone who has been hesitant to step into science fiction with a techno taste.
Pages: 493 | ASIN: B0767QD12G
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We all face various trials and tribulations through life, learning lessons along the way. We face a good majority of these during adolescence, especially in that gray transitionary age between teen and young adult. Sam – A Girl Undercover is a story of just that, the decisions, insecurities, and questions we face when learning our place in the world. We follow Sam as she struggles to accept herself and her flaws while trying to figure out her emerging feelings for boys. It circles around the various hurdles of social responsibility and the comfort we take in our friends and family, even when they cause us some exasperation.
This story is one that many will find them selves relating to, though is definitely more female oriented. Eva Beaty gives words to a lot of the issues so many of us face growing up, representing such through Samantha, or Sam as she prefers. She carries a birthmark that fields a lot of insecurity and self doubt, something that is very common among young women. We all have that flaw we constantly try to hide. That quirk we spend so much energy trying to not show. Through the various relationships Sam navigates, it’s easy to place ourselves in her shoes – changing our image for fear of judgement of others and yet seeking acceptance and love for who we are naturally.
Yes, Beaty does a good job of sharing a story that is easy to relate to; it could easily be a relative, a friend, or even ourselves in not just the part of Sam, but other characters as well.
The story is as I said relatable, but hard to read. The writing style is short, clipped, and jumpy, making it hard to really immerse yourself. I felt that the characters lacked depth which makes this book relatable but it’s also a draw back – the characters could be anybody, and I wanted something to make these characters stand out as unique in my mind. The story was also fairly predictable, I kept expecting some dramatic twist, but it was all fairly straight forward. It almost reads like a script versus a book, focusing on a lot of action and reaction, spending a lot of time in Sams perspective but with little supporting material. It has the potential to be a solid coming of age tale, geared toward female youth.
This is a story that shows just how complicated interpersonal relationships can become when we jump to conclusions without all of the facts, or omit the truth due to timing or fear of the reactions it could receive.
Pages: 395 | ASIN: B071GV3T92
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The Guardians of Eastgate is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a fantasy, adventure, and romance as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
The genre-crossing was both intentional and organic. I knew I wanted to write a fantasy-adventure, but I wasn’t sure at first if I wanted to include romance. Some of my favorite books are fantasy-romance. However, I knew I didn’t want to narrow my audience by going into erotica.
I liked the way romance was handled in novels like Twilight, The Hunger Games and the Divergent series: it was present, but it wasn’t the main focus, and it wasn’t explicit. These were not books I would have to worry about my kids reading as teens, for example. Writing romance in this way left them accessible to teens all the way through to adult. So, I knew that if I did include romance, I would want to handle it in this manner. The Guardians of Eastgate is rated as Young Adult, but I wanted it to be accessible to teens and older adults as well.
I didn’t make the final decision to include romance until I was writing their interactions, however. In fact, I wouldn’t really call it a decision. Rather, it felt like the natural progression of the relationship between the characters. So, in this way, it was organic. The way I see it, their relationship is complicated (due to their histories), yet also inevitable due to their personalities and shared histories.
As for the adventure part, well, what is fantasy without adventure, really? I am a huge fan of Tolkien. The Lord of the Rings was required reading in my Advanced Literature class in high school. At first, I found his writing tedious, and had to wade through it. By the time I was done, though, I was thoroughly hooked and grateful for all those details. There is no way I will even try to compete with Tolkien, however. I loved his world and character building, but knew that I would not want to take on writing on that grand a scale, especially for my first novel.
One reason for this is knowing that, in our time, people work a lot and have many scheduled activities for themselves, their kids, etc. Because of this, I purposely kept my book on the short side for a novel, and made my chapters short as well. However, after feedback from some of my readers who basically said they enjoyed the story, but would have liked to see more of certain elements, I am now considering doing a revised and expanded second edition.
The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
My favorite character is my main character, Maelona. However, I did not find her easy to write for. She is a very subdued character who, for a large portion of the story, is denying or ignoring huge parts of herself due to guilt from past events. So, how do you reveal a character’s personality through their dialogue and actions when they so tightly control their actions and emotions? I knew I wanted to use the third person narrative, which took revealing her character through inner monologue off the table. I didn’t want to switch to the first person though, as I wanted readers to feel the distance she creates for herself partly through the distance the third person provides. It is a complicated mix, and it was difficult to find the right balance. I did enjoy trying to find that balance, though.
I probably like Blaez and Gareth equally. Blaez, however, though not as tightly wound as Maelona and more emotionally open, is also calm in actions and words, so revealing his character was also tricky at times. Gareth was perhaps the easiest to write for, as he is cheeky and wears his heart on his sleeve, as the saying goes.
Maelona is a seer champion tasked with protecting the realm and is the first line of defense when evil rises. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?
Maelona is essentially driven by her guilt over what happened at the crater of sorrows (which we find out about when she tells Blaez the story). She blames herself for what happened and she feels extreme guilt and an intense sense of loss over the accidental death of someone close to her.
Her father was a powerful seer who took his responsibilties to the seer people, and to the entire realm, very seriously. He believed, as did most of the seer people, that his race’s “advantages” over the other races gave them the responsibilty to watch over the realm and all its peoples (kind of like that “With great power comes great responsibility” line in Spiderman). They believe, essentially, this was what they were created for, and they continued to believe this even after their people were persucuted and hunted out of fear. In a sense, Maelona is an overachiever because she is always trying to make up for the loss of her father. However, she also had to work harder to fill his shoes because she is denying the most powerful parts of herself, parts she considers to be dangerous and that she is afraid of losing control over.
With this new mysterious and serious threat to the entire realm, however, she will need these most powerful parts of herself. Her letting go of her tight contol on her emotions and opening herself up to her new friends, and especially her new love, mirrors her letting go control of those “scary” parts of herself. This is why the romance between Maelona and Blaez ends up being so important. It is her relationship with him that allows her to stop holding back those pieces of herself that scare her; to take a chance on those parts because the potential gain is worth it. It is her relationship with him that allows her to begin accepting herself, all of herself, for who she is.
What is the next story that you’re writing and when will it be published?
I am already 40,600+ words into the second novel of the series. I haven’t settled on a name yet, but it will focus on the Seer guardian of Southgate. Between finishing the first draft, self-editing and revising, having beta readers look at it, then sending it off to the editor for a few rounds of revisions, etc. etc., I don’t expect it to be published until late winter, early spring.
I have also decided to do a second edition of The Guardians of Eastgate because I will be re-doing the cover. I have hired a visual artist to do the book covers for the rest of the series and I want them all to be uniform. Due to reader feed-back, I am considering expanding on the interior narrative as well. You can check on my website or social media accounts to stay updated on whether or not I will expand the story, and when the second edition with the new cover (and possibly extended storyline) will be released.
Maelona Sima is one of four seer champions tasked with protecting the four keystones from being breached by evil forces, thus leaving an immeasurable magical force free to be used against the realm’s inhabitants. Yet Maelona is more than a seer. She is unique in her world, and she is the best hope of survival for the people of Sterrenvar…the very people who once hunted down and killed many of the seer people out of fear and mistrust.
Protecting the keystones is the first line of defense against the evil sorcerer who wishes to enslave the realm. Can Maelona, the guardian of the keystone at Eastgate, and her friends Blaez, a wolf shifter, and Gareth, a human prince, bring together their peoples to save Eastgate from destruction in this first book of the Seers series?
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