The Way of Beauty: Author Interview

THE WAY OF BEAUTY

By Camille Di Maio

Genre: Historical Fiction / 20th Century / Literary

Publisher: Lake Union Press

Date of Publication: May 1, 2018

Number of Pages: 384

  

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Hearts and dreams evolve in the shadow of the once-magnificent Penn Station.

Vera Keller, the daughter of German immigrants in turn-of-the-century New York City, finds her life upended when the man she loves becomes engaged to another woman. But Angelo Bellavia has also inadvertently opened up Vera’s life to unexpected possibilities. Angelo’s new wife, Pearl, the wealthy daughter of a clothing manufacturer, has defied her family’s expectations by devoting herself to the suffrage movement. In Pearl, Vera finds an unexpected dear friend…and a stirring new cause of her own. But when Pearl’s selfless work pulls her farther from Angelo and their son, the life Vera craved is suddenly within her reach—if her conscience will allow her to take it.

Her choice will define not only her future but also that of her daughter, Alice.

Vera and Alice—a generation and a world apart—are bound by the same passionate drive to fulfill their dreams. As first mother and then daughter come of age in a city that is changing as rapidly as its skyline, they’ll each discover that love is the only constant.

PRAISE FOR THE WAY OF BEAUTY:

The Way of Beauty is a thing of beauty. The writing is gorgeous, the story is engaging, the characters are amazing. The amount of research that goes into historical fiction just astounds me. Add this to your TBR!”

“If you want to be swept away by a love story set in a fascinating and meticulously researched past, Camille Di Maio is the author for you. Don’t miss this one.”

“A captivating story of love and family that spans several generations.”

“The writing transports you to the time, not so long ago when women had to choose between love and their rights. Camille Di Maio’s dialogue, descriptions, and relationships create a complete picture of the era and struggles. Great book club book.” 

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INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR CAMILLE DI MAIO

What was your favorite childhood book?

I love this book called The King Who Rained for Forty Years. It was written by Fred Gwynne (Mr. Munster!), and it illustrated the way we hear language versus the way we read it. It is so clever! It made me fall in love with words.

Do you Google yourself?

I have done this a few times – mostly because I want to stay on top of any articles or posts about my books so that I can thank the blogger.

How do you select the names of your characters?

Since I write historical fiction, choosing era-accurate names is especially important. I figure out which year my characters would have been born in, and then I search for the most popular baby names of that year – I think the furthest I’ve gone back is 1890! I love that some of the old names are coming back – Violet, Iris, Hazel, etc. Naming characters is one of my favorite parts of writing!

If you didn’t write, what work would you do?

I was a Realtor for many years, and although I was kept quite busy with it, it wasn’t my calling. If I wasn’t writing, though, and wanted to choose another career I loved, I would be a travel agent. I love love love the research that goes into planning a trip, getting good prices, finding great coffee shops. I have done this for friends several times, just for fun.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Yes! It happens all the time! Actually, I’d say that about 90% of the time I sit down to my laptop, I don’t know what I’m going to write. The key is to just DO it. Just get words on the page (or screen!) and things will flow. You can’t wait around for inspiration to strike.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

My first book, The Memory of Us, was inspired by the Beatles song, “Eleanor Rigby.” So, there are definitely some “Easter eggs” in there that only the most devoted Beatles fans would know. All of my books have details of something in my life. For example, there is a wedding ring in the book I’m writing now that is fashioned after the one my grandmother wore. And the house in that book is inspired by my other grandmother’s house. My family would be the only people who know these things!

What’s the best way to market your book?

I’m not terribly polished or technical, so I don’t have a newsletter or Pinterest account that I keep up with. But I love just being personal with my readers. I’m very active on Instagram and Facebook, getting to know my readers and letting them know me. I don’t know if that’s marketing, exactly, but it’s being a real person and forming connections.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

Having that book professionally edited was the best writing education I could ever have gotten. Instead of working with concepts, the process of digging in to the intricacies of my writing helped me understand what works and what doesn’t, and I’ve definitely carried that over into my subsequent books.

Do you read your reviews? How do you feel about the good and bad ones?

Eek! Yes! I do read my Amazon reviews. Of course, all authors wish they had five stars across the board, but that’s not realistic. Not every book is going to speak to every person in the same way. I love fours and fives. I think threes are very reasonable – they are often well-thought-out, being honest about the things they didn’t connect with and supportive of the things they did. I somewhat discount the two and one-star reviews. Personally, if I’m reading a book that I would rate a one or two star, I’m not going to finish it in the first place, and I’m definitely not going to review it and hurt the author. But those reviews can sometimes be humorous, too. Sometimes, they’re for the totally wrong book. “There was too much sex in it!” (I have none in my books – I’m a close-the-door kind of writer.) Or one of my favorites – (I’m paraphrasing here) – “I liked the book until the main character drank chamomile tea. Only eccentric people drink chamomile tea. So I have to give it two stars.”)

~Romance Writers of America Honor Roll Inductee~

Camille recently left an award-winning real estate career in San Antonio to become a full-time writer. Along with her husband of 19 years, she enjoys raising their four children. She has a bucket list that is never-ending and uses her adventures to inspire her writing. She’s lived in Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and California, and spends enough time in Hawai’i to feel like a local. She’s traveled to four continents (so far) and met Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II. She just about fainted when she had a chance to meet her musical idol, 

 ║Website ║ Facebook ║ 

║ Instagram ║ Amazon Author Page ║ 

║ Twitter  ║ Goodreads ║

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MAY 1-10, 2018

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5/1 Notable Quotable Books and Broomsticks
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5/2 Review Hall Ways Blog
5/3 Review Books in the Garden
5/4 Guest Post Carpe Diem Chronicles
5/4 Excerpt That’s What She’s Reading
5/5 Review Reading by Moonlight
5/5 Promo+ Chapter Break Book Blog
5/6 Review Momma on the Rocks
5/7 Author Interview The Page Unbound
5/7 Top Five Story Schmoozing Book Reviews
5/8 Review StoreyBook Reviews
5/9 Guest Post Missus Gonzo
5/9 Character Interview The Librarian Talks
5/10 Review Tangled in Text

 

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Searching for Pilar: Guest Post

SEARCHING FOR PILAR

By PATRICIA HUNT HOLMES

Genre: Contemporary Suspense / Thriller

Publisher: River Grove Books

Publication Date: April 10, 2018

Number of Pages: 320 pages

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Pilar, an innocent young wife and mother, is abducted during a fake job interview in Mexico City and forced into sex slavery in Houston. Can she survive the horrors of a world—one which many good Americans don’t see or ignore—long enough for her brother Diego to find her?

Searching for Pilar breaks open the secretive and dangerous world of sex trafficking, while exploring human nature and our connections to each another. Diego’s guilt transforms him from a rudderless youth into a man of purpose, and courage. While he searches, Pilar finds a strength that could save herself and a young girl who needs her. The themes of family, love, faith and the law intertwine in this action-packed tale of the Bayou City.

PRAISE FOR SEARCHING FOR PILAR:

“Patricia Holmes fictionalizes the heartbreaking reality of cross-border sex trafficking in her novel, Searching for Pilar. This cautionary tale should be required reading for high school classes to foster awareness, understanding, and ultimately solutions to this horrific epidemic.”  —Joanne F. Phillips, author of Revenge of the Cube Dweller.

“In Searching for Pilar, Patricia Hunt Holmes makes us aware of the terrible nature of sex trafficking in the context of a fast-paced, exciting Houston story that moves from affluence and glitz to barrio cantinas and the federal courthouse. The charitable, can-do nature of Houston is reflected in the wide cast of residents who help a young man on an extremely dangerous mission to find his kidnapped sister.  This book will be an added weapon in our fight against sex trafficking.” –Sylvester Turner, Mayor, City of Houston

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TIPS FOR MEN WHO STILL DON’T GET IT

Guest Post by Patricia Hunt Holmes

I was having lunch yesterday after a round of golf with three professional women friends.  We were discussing things that we experienced or saw during the good old days in the legal and business world that would be considered inappropriate today.  I am a retired big firm corporate law partner.

“It’s amazing,” I said.  “Some men still don’t get it.”  I told them about how the marshal at Memorial recently paired my former law partner (let’s call her “Thelma”) and me with two men of our generation who were oblivious to the fact that old habits need to be re-examined.  They were pleasant, but when we did the customary self-introductions on the first tee, one of them addressed me as “honey” and Thelma as “doll.”  DOLL? I had visions of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin with their arms around buxom blonds in Las Vegas.

I looked at Thelma, a big time, scary litigator in her day, to see if she would slug the guy.    I was afraid that if we made a fuss, these guys would tell the marshal that we were pain in the neck females who shouldn’t be given tee times at prime times when men like to play.  Since we had never been paired with women in the year and a half we played there, I feared we might never tee off again.  Our golf careers would die right then and there!  Thelma was probably thinking the same thing, so we smiled and patiently endured being addressed as “sweetie” and “baby” for eleven holes.  Finally, we said, “Enough!” and adjourned to the grill and a glass of wine.

Then one of my other friends related something that had happened to her just the week before.  Her team at a large commercial real estate company had an event where prizes were awarded.  She didn’t win.  Her boss, who was hosting the office Christmas party the next night, where he awarded prizes, was standing beside her.  Making light conversation, she told him that she didn’t win anything but hoped she would win something the next day.  He looked her in the eyes and responded in a low voice, “It depends on what you are wearing.”  Was that a sexist innuendo, a bad joke or what?  Did he realize it?  Probably not.

So, for those men who still don’t get it, I put together a list of things you might consider not doing in this time of heightened consciousness of inappropriate behavior in male/female relationships:

First, it’s probably not a good idea to address any woman with terms that are used in talking to children.  For example, anyone over the age of puberty who is not your significant other should not be addressed as “honey,” “doll,” or “sweetie.”  “Baby” should be reserved for talking with actual babies.   Use the woman’s proper name.  If you don’t know it, say “Miss” or Ma’am, like nice Southern boys used to do.  It’s respectful.

Second, never respond to a simple conversational sentence with a suggestive or flirty response.  It kills what could be a pleasant conversation or even a fruitful exchange of ideas.  Unless she is looking for a hookup (possible, but unlikely), she will try to avoid you in the future.  You will miss out on making a friend or loyal employee.

Third, if you don’t want to allow a woman to enter an elevator first or open a door for her, don’t editorialize that “I would open the door for you, but then you would say I was a sexist pig.”   Don’t BE a sexist pig — just get on the elevator first or let her open her own door without comment.  We all realize manners and civility are dying anyway.  But you might just impress people if you did the respectful thing.  Everyone appreciates gentlemanly behavior.

Fourth, don’t habitually close your office door when meeting with a particular subordinate woman unless you need to speak in private.  Otherwise, the rest of the office might suspect that something is going on in there.  That could make the trapped woman nervous and other women in the office resentful of her. It lessens her ability to be seen as a competent professional.   Besides, if the woman is unscrupulous (it does happen, alas!) you may be setting yourself up for a situation where you are accused of something inappropriate that you didn’t really do.   If the door stays open for men in a similar situation, it should stay open for women. 

Last, although hugging and air kissing when meeting is common in many social and business settings, trying to kiss subordinate women or colleagues on the lips is not appropriate.  It reminds me of “copping a feel,” as the boys in my high school in Jersey used to say.  Hug or kiss a woman you know in greeting or goodbye on the cheek.  If you are greeting both a woman and male clients or colleagues, don’t shake hands with the man but kiss and/or hug the woman. Greet them both the same way.  If you are meeting a woman for the first time, or someone you don’t know well, a handshake is appropriate.  If the woman has a stronger grip than you expected, don’t comment about it. 

Old habits are hard to change and often we don’t realize the effect of things we do.  But “the times they are a changing” and I encourage all you guys who are good people to be more “mindful” (to use a trendy theme) of how what you say or do could get you in trouble or rob you of the ability to have meaningful relationships with women colleagues. Above all, don’t let the current hysteria cause you to avoid working with women.  Just keep your interaction respectful and professional, the same as you do with other men. 

Patricia Hunt Holmes, Ph.D., J.D.

Patricia is a retired partner with Vinson & Elkins LLP.  Her first fiction novel, “Searching for Pilar,” will be available April 10, 2017.

Patricia Hunt Holmes spent 30 years as a public finance attorney with the international law firm of Vinson & Elkins LLP.   She was consistently listed in Best Lawyers in America, Texas Super Lawyers, Top Lawyers in Houston, and awarded the highest degree by her peers in Martindale Hubbell. She was a frequent speaker at national public finance and healthcare conferences.  Patricia has also served on the faculty of the University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Tennessee, and University of Texas Health Science Center Houston. She has written and published in the fields of intellectual history and law.

Patricia has been a member and board member of social service organizations in Houston that focus on helping women, including the United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast Women’s Initiative, Dress for Success Houston, and the American Heart Association’s Circle of Red.  She was a founding member and first board chair of Houston Justice for Our Neighbors, which provides free and low cost legal services to immigrants.  For the past five years, she has been taking writing workshops with Inprint, associated with the outstanding University of Houston Creative Writing Program.  She began to write Searching for Pilar in a workshop after learning that Houston is one of the biggest hubs for sex trafficking in the country.

Website  ║  Facebook ║ Twitter ║ Goodreads  LinkedIn  

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1st & 2nd Prizes: Signed Copy of Searching for Pilar + Mexican Necklace

3rd Prize: Signed Copy of Searching for Pilar + $20 Amazon Gift Card

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Blood and Remembrance: Promo and Giveaway

BLOOD AND REMEMBRANCE
by
CHRIS MANNO
Genre: Contemporary Literary Fiction
Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Publication Date: March 3, 2018
Number of Pages: 321 pages

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Blood and Remembrance is the prequel to the award-winning Texas novel, East JesusThis new, stand-alone story rampages from the west Texas plains to Huntsville’s Death Row and back. Cowboys, ranchers, driven oilmen, desperate convicts and headstrong women grapple with truths of the heart, of life, and the coming of age in a dramatic struggle you’ll live yourself and never forget.
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Chris Manno of Fort Worth, Texas, earned a doctorate in English from Texas Christian University and teaches writing at Texas Wesleyan University. 

East Jesus, his first novel, was named “finalist” (second place) for Best Fiction of 2017 by the North Texas Book Festival. The novel takes a close-up, visceral look at West Texas life in 1969 and the good folks who lived it, grappling with notions of family, patriotism and violence, both domestic and in a far-off, unpopular war. 

Blood and Remembrance is the prequel to East Jesus, tracing the roots of the main characters in both books, examining the harsh but classically All-American story of life in the Texas panhandle. 

Manno is also the author of a third novel, Voodoo Rush, winner for Best Fiction of 2018 by the North Texas Book Festival, and a collection of short stories titled Short Fiction for the Impatient Reader. Both books are available from White Bird Publications of Austin Texas. 


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The El Paso Red Promo

THE EL PASO RED FLAME GAS STATION 

AND OTHER STORIES

By J. REEDER ARCHULETA

Genre: Fiction /Short Stories / Coming of Age

Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing, LLC

Date of Publication: December 8, 2017

Number of Pages: 132

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These short stories are about coming of age in rural far West Texas.  The stories are about the people who have come to stay in a remote part of Texas with a climate that can be harsh and unpredictable and that is demanding and unforgiving.  The stories are told through the eyes of Josh, a young boy, who finds himself alone in a small farm and ranch community and who realizes that he will have to make his own way in this place. 

Along the way he meets a group of characters with different takes on life.  Some try to help shield him from the chaos of the world, some try to add more chaos. But all of them, in their own distinct way, through jobs, advice, or actions, play a part in his life.

PRAISE FOR THE EL PASO RED FLAME GAS STATION:

“Punchy, plainspoken dialogue…colorful and charismatic characters…The result is an atmospheric Texas…reminiscent of Larry McMurtry’s “The Last Picture Show.” — Kirkus Reviews

“The universality of Josh’s journey gives it a timeless quality…a rich tapestry…The stories are conveyed in lean, elegant prose reminiscent of Annie Proulx and Cormac McCarthy” — Blue Ink Review

“Archuleta’s collection offers poignant and hopeful stories of determination in the face of need. Thoroughly engaging…narrated with passion and eloquence…” — The Clarion Review                       

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The author was raised in far West Texas and five generations of his family are in their final resting place there.  His great-grandfather is buried in Concordia Cemetery in El Paso within spitting distance of the grave of John Wesley Hardin.

Website ║ Amazon Author Page ║ 

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THE EL PASO RED FLAME GAS STATION +

A $5 STARBUCKS GIFT CARD

APRIL 17-26, 2018

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A Borrowed Dream: Review and Giveaway

Rating:
A BORROWED DREAM
The Cimarron Creek Trilogy, Book 2
by
Amanda Cabot
Genre: Historical Romance / Inspirational
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: March 20, 2018
Number of Pages: 352
My Rating: 4/5
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Catherine Whitfield is sure that she will never again be able to trust anyone in the medical profession after the town doctor’s excessive bleeding treatments killed her mother. Despite her loneliness and her broken heart, she carries bravely on as Cimarron Creek’s dutiful schoolteacher, resigned to a life without love or family, a life where dreams rarely come true.
Austin Goddard is a newcomer to Cimarron Creek. Posing as a rancher, he fled to Texas to protect his daughter from a dangerous criminal. He’s managed to keep his past as a surgeon a secret. But when Catherine Whitfield captures his heart, he wonders how long he will be able to keep up the charade.
With a deft hand, Amanda Cabot teases out the strands of love, deception, and redemption in this charming tale of dreams deferred and hopes becoming reality.

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PRAISE FOR A BORROWED DREAM:

“Cabot’s sweet love story will appeal to readers of gentle romances. . .Although this title stands on its own, readers of A Stolen Heart (2017), the first in Cabot’s place-based trilogy, will be happy to revisit the folks of Cimarron Creek.” — Booklist

“The second book in Cabot’s Cimarron Creek trilogy is even better than the first, with a dash of suspense, an intriguing bit of medical history and a host of enjoyable characters.” — RT Book Reviews

PRAISE FOR A STOLEN HEART, BOOK ONE IN THE CIMARRON CREEK TRILOGY: 
“Readers will enjoy the surprising ending as well as the romance always found in Cabot’s books.”Publishers Weekly

“Moments of humor provide a nice balance to the heartwarming scenes and the mild suspense thread.”RT Book Reviews

“Cabot’s nonpreachy inspirational romance features characters who genuinely try to live honorable lives, and their story has broad appeal for readers of gentle fiction and historical romance as well as for readers of Christian fiction.”Booklist 
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Love, historical fiction, suspense, with Christian teachings, this story was purely delightful!

Catherine is a school teacher and seems a bit put off by men. And it’s obvious that the woman can take care of herself. She’s a bit headstrong and iron willed, but has a good heart and is filled with determination. Her strong spirit I think is what draws Austin to her.

Austin is very set on not finding a second wife, and despite how hard he tries, it’s obvious from the start that he’s drawn to Catherine, the school teacher. I love how Austin is just, how do I put it, has his feathers ruffled, when it comes to all things Catherine. He pretends to be disinterested in her, but than adorably reacts to the fact that someone is “courting” Catherine by spilling his coffee everywhere. It’s too cute and too tender hearted.

The characters in this story are very well developed and the plot has many twists to it.  I think it’s a well balanced story and has a little for everyone that is looking for a good historical romance. At the heart of all this is love, forgiving others, family, and those relationships that really are important and matter. If you are looking for a good cozy read, then be sure to check this one out!

Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of A Stolen Heart, the first book of the Cimarron Creek trilogy, as well as the Texas Crossroads series, the Texas Dreams series, the Westward Winds series, and Christmas Roses. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards and the Booksellers’ Best. She lives in Wyoming. 

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THREE WINNERS
1ST: Copy of A Borrowed Dream, Novel Teas (25 count), Paddywax Library Collection Ralph Waldo Emerson Scented Soy Wax Candle, Cedar & Wild Fern (6.5oz) 

2ND: Copy of A Borrowed Dream + $10 Barnes & Noble Gift Card
3RD: Copy of A Borrowed Dream + $10 Starbucks Gift Card

APRIL 12-21, 2018

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The Downfall of Galveston’s May Walker Burleson

THE DOWNFALL OF GALVESTON’S MAY WALKER BURLESON
Texas Society Marriage & Carolina Murder Scandal
by
T. Felder Dorn
Genre: True Crime
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing / The History Press
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Date of Publication: April 2, 2018
Number of Pages: 192 pages, 30 b&w images
Jennie May Walker Burleson was envied for having everything a woman of her time could want—the privileged upbringing, the dazzling good looks, the dashing war hero husband. She was admired for demonstrating that a woman could want more, from the front of the 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession to the bottom of a Mesoamerican archaeological dig. But as she stood over the body of her husband’s second wife, gun in hand, society’s envy and admiration quickly hardened into pity and scorn. T. Felder Dorn examines the complicated trajectory of her life as socialite, suffragist and shooter. 




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T. Felder Dorn graduated from Duke University in 1954 with a BS in chemistry and was awarded a PhD in that discipline in 1958 by the University of Washington. He was a member of the chemistry faculty at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, in 1958–69 and then served four years on the program staff of the College Board in New York. From 1973 to 1991, he held administrative positions at Kean University in Union, New Jersey, serving as associate dean, dean and vice-president for academic affairs. His last ten years at Kean were spent as professor of chemistry. He retired in 2001. Felder Dorn and his wife, Sara Ruth, have resided in Millburn, New Jersey, since 1973. They have three children and three grandchildren. Dorn has previously published four books: Challenges on the Emmaus Road: Episcopal Bishops Confront Slavery, Civil War, and Emancipation (University of South Carolina Press, 2013); Death of a Policeman, Birth of a Baby: A Crime and Its Aftermath (Xlibris, 2012); The Guns of Meeting Street: A Southern Tragedy (University of South Carolina Press, 2001); and The Tompkins School, 1925–1953: A Community Institution (Attic Press, 1994).

 

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Wickwythe Hall: Guest Post

WICKWYTHE HALL

By Judithe Little

Genre: Historical Fiction / WWII

Publisher: Black Opal Books

Date of Publication: September 30, 2017

Number of Pages: 324

*Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards Finalist*

*2018 Reader Views Readers’ Choice Award for Historical Fiction*

*Winner of the Tyler R. Tichelaar Award for Best Historical Fiction*

*Official selection of the Pulpwood Queens Book Club*

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May 1940. The Germans invade France and the course of three lives is upended. Annelle LeMaire is a French refugee desperate to contact her Legionnaire brothers.

Mabry Springs, American wife of a wealthy Brit, is struggling to come to terms with a troubled marriage and imminent German invasion. And Reid Carr, American representative of French champagne house Pol Roger, brings more than champagne to Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Their paths entwine when Churchill and his entourage take refuge at Wickwythe Hall, the Springs’ country estate hidden from the full moon and German bombers beneath a shroud of trees. There, as secrets and unexpected liaisons unfold, Annelle, Mabry, and Reid are forever bound by the tragedy they share.

Part Downton Abbey, part Darkest Hour, Wickwythe Hall was inspired by an actual confrontation between the British and French navies in July 1940 and is a story of love, loyalty, and heartrending choices.

PRAISE FOR WICKWYTHE HALL:

“…a riveting and enlightening mix of history and fiction that puts a human face on the costs of war…engaging…”  — Foreword Reviews

“Little’s characterization of Churchill is so well done. She makes his personality and presence so real. Mabry was a character to be admired for her decisions and actions. A good read with a satisfying ending.”   — Historical Novels Review

“Judithe Little tackles war and masterfully boils it down to personal moral dilemmas. Beautifully written and rich with atmosphere…Wickwythe Hall is a stellar achievement.”  — Ann Weisgarber, author of The Personal History of Rachel DuPreeand The Promise

“…an emotional and touching story about the lives of three people during World War II, at the time of Hitler’s invasion of France in 1940. Inspired by real people, places and events in history, this whirlwind novel will no doubt leave an imprint on your heart long after you finish reading.”  — Reader Views

“If you love history, beautifully rendered characters, and stories that will tug at your heart, add Wickwythe Hall to your list.”  — Book Perfume

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Do You Like Champagne?

Guest Post by Judithe Little

I do! Champagne plays a part in my historical novel Wickwythe Hall. It’s the connection between my fictional character, Reid Carr, and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. In the novel, Reid Carr is a representative of French champagne house Pol Roger. In real life, Pol Roger was Churchill’s favorite champagne. Voilà! Fact meets fiction.

Churchill’s love of libations is well documented.  He began each day with whiskey and soda or a tumbler of sherry, then moved on to wine, champagne, port with the cheese course, and ninety year old brandy before bed. But champagne was his favorite, particularly Pol Roger. He liked to have his own bottle by his plate at the table in order, according to his wife Clementine, “to be independent of the vagaries of butlers.” His zeal for French champagne ran so deep that during World War I, he roused his fellow troops with the battle call “Remember gentlemen, it’s not just France we are fighting for, it’s champagne!”

Not only did he have a taste for champagne, he had champagne tastes and lived beyond his means. In 1926, he resolved to tighten his belt. He wrote a note to Clementine stating, “no more champagne is to be bought.” He attempted to reduce his cigar use to four a day. He directed that there be no fish course unless they had guests. But by 1936, he was in the hole again, owing his wine merchant $75,000 in today’s dollars. Blessedly, the threat of imminent poverty inspired his most prolific work as a writer (kids, don’t try this at home). He literally wrote his way out of financial disaster.

His devotion to champagne and Pol Roger deepened when he met the striking Odette Pol Roger in 1944 at an Armistice Day party in Paris. He insisted she be invited to every dinner he attended in Paris thereafter.

Born Odette Wallace in 1911, she was 37 years Winston’s junior. In her youth, she and her sisters comprised a beguiling trio known as “the Wallace Collection.” Odette married Jacques Pol Roger, a co-director of his family’s champagne house, and the two lived near Jacques’ parents at Epernay. There, during World War II, Odette was a courier for the Resistance, bicycling 12 hours to Paris when needed.

In the years after the war, with her charm, beauty and joie de vivre, she became the face of Pol Roger. Her self-professed mission was to encourage people to enjoy champagne. She found a kindred spirit in Winston, and their friendship was deep.

Just as Winston was a professed Francophile, Odette likewise had English passions. She raised chickens, gardened, and was a devotee of fly-fishing. She spent summers at her chateau on a trout river in Normandy. She told The Daily Telegraph in 1970 that after a dinner in Paris, she got in her car to drive home and:

As the sun was coming up I was thinking of getting a bit of sleep when I looked down from my bedroom window and saw a huge trout in the stream which runs through the property. So I grabbed my rod and rushed down and caught him – still in my dinner gown. Well! Life must be enjoyed, no?

Odette sent her friend Winston a case of Pol Roger every year for his birthday. Winston named a race horse after her. When he died in 1965, Odette placed a black border on the labels of bottles exported to Britain. Later, Pol Roger named its prestigious cuvée after him, rich and full-bodied as he preferred.

All of this may seem like a romantic glimpse into the long-lost past. But today, at your local wine store, you can still find a piece of history inspired by this great friendship: the Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill.  And if the cost of the special edition ($250 plus) is too much, Pol Roger offers a $50 bottle. It’s still a splurge, but even now, in 2018, life must be enjoyed, no?

Judithe Little grew up in Virginia and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia.

After studying at the Institute of European Studies and the Institut Catholique in Paris, France, and interning at the U.S. Department of State, she earned a law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law where she was on the Editorial Board of the Journal of International Law and a Dillard Fellow.

She lives with her husband, three teenagers, and three dogs in Houston, Texas, where she’s at work on her next historical novel set in France.

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THREE WINNERS
1ST: Signed Copy of Wickwythe Hall + $50 Amazon Gift Card
2ND: Signed Copy of Wickwythe Hall + $25 Amazon Gift Card
3RD: Signed Copy of Wickwythe Hall  + $15 Amazon Gift Card

MARCH 27-APRIL 5, 2018

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3/27/18 Guest Post 1 Books in the Garden
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3/29/18 Excerpt The Librarian Talks
3/30/18 Guest Post 2 Chapter Break Book Blog
3/31/18 Review Books and Broomsticks
4/1/18 Notable Quotable Book Fidelity
4/2/18 Guest Post 3 StoreyBook Reviews
4/3/18 Review Momma on the Rocks
4/4/18 Guest Post 4 The Page Unbound
4/5/18 Review #Bookish

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Dam Nation Blitz

DAM NATION 

BOOK RELEASE BLITZ 

Bonnie and Clyde #2

By CLARK HAYS AND KATHLEEN McFALL

Genre: Historical / Alternative History / Romance 

Publisher: Pumpjack Press

Date of Publication: March 24, 2018

Number of Pages: 266

CLICK TO PURCHASE

 

Bonnie and Clyde: Defending the working class from a river of greed.


The year is 1935 and the Great Depression has America in a death grip of poverty, unemployment and starvation. But the New Deal is rekindling hope, with federally funded infrastructure projects, like Hoover Dam, putting folks back to work. So, why is someone trying to blow it up? 
That’s what Bonnie and Clyde set out to uncover in the novel Dam Nation by Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall, the second book in a provocative speculative fiction series that re-imagines the outlaws’ lives. 

“A rollicking good read!” — Midwest Book Review

 

WHAT IF? 

The Texas Ranger looked up at Sal, a mixture of fear, respect and revulsion in his eyes. “Let’s pretend for a minute it wasn’t Bonnie and Clyde in that ambush,” he said. “Why? Why would it be different people in that car?”

 

“How would I know?” Sal asked. “I work for the government. I trust that the government has my best interests at heart. I follow orders. You didn’t.”

 

“I won’t be quiet about this unless you can tell me why anyone would try to save them outlaws.”

 

“If they were still alive, I would tell you that everyone has a purpose in life, and perhaps they are fulfilling theirs. And if they were still alive, I would tell you that you don’t use good dogs to guard the junkyard, you use the meanest goddamn dogs you can get a collar around.”

CLICK TO PURCHASE

Clark and Kathleen wrote their first book together in 1999 as a test for marriage. They passed. Dam Nation is their sixth co-authored book. 

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BONNIE AND CLYDE: DAM NATION

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A Target On My Back: Promo and Giveaway

A TARGET ON MY BACK
A Prosecutor’s Terrifying Tale of Life on a Hit List
by
Erleigh Wiley
Genre: True Crime
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
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Date of Publication: October 3, 2017
Number of Pages: 176 with b&w photos

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Murders don’t happen in Kaufman County, Texas, a sleepy community where people raise their kids quietly and drive into Dallas for work and entertainment. In 2013, murder came to town when two professional prosecutors were slain in cold blood, simply for doing their jobs: one in broad daylight in plain view of the courthouse, and one in his home, along with his wife. Eric Williams is responsible for all the bloodshed—and he has a list of who to kill next.
A Target on My Back is the first-person true story of Erleigh Wiley, an accomplished lawyer who accepted the job as the new district attorney—after the death of her predecessors—which turned her into the next target on the killer’s hit list. This is her story of how she and her family endured the storm of the press, the array of Homeland Security agents assigned to protect them 24/7, and the weight of knowing she was someone’s prey. Though fearing for her life, she served as the prosecution’s final witness against the murderer, sealing his fate on death row. This chilling account of how she survived the hit list is a terrifying cat and mouse tale.

PRAISE FOR A TARGET ON MY BACK:

“A legal thriller with a twist: a crazed lawyer and his wife, believing they have been wronged, become a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde and go on a terrifying murder spree. Next on their kill list is the new DA, and her courage in confronting the killers makes this a fascinating read.”
Dennis L. Breo, coauthor of The Crime of the Century: Richard Speck and the Murders That Shocked a Nation 
“John Grisham and Scott Turow had better start looking over their shoulders. . . Wiley’s engaging, nimble style immediately draws you into the action and proves that sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction. It’s a good thing for us all that she lived to tell about it!”
David Dean, Dallas attorney, former Texas secretary of state and chair of the North Texas Crime Commission
 
“When murder comes to her town, Erleigh Wiley steps into the shoes of the slain district attorney and finds herself on the killer’s hit list. In A Target on My Back, Wiley tells her personal story of overcoming fear in order to carry out her duty to hold Kaufman County, Texas, together while the killer is brought to justice. Don’t miss it!”
Mike Farris, author of A Death in the Islands: The Unwritten Law and the Last Trial of Clarence Darrow
 
A Target on my Back is a unique first-person look into the world of crime-fighting in which the tables have been turned. The author takes the reader on an all-too-real journey into what it means to stand for justice when your very life is in danger. A must-read.
Robert Kepple, executive director of the Texas District and County Attorneys Association

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Speak to That  is a local talk show that speaks to relevant and inspirational topics and features innovative guests.  On a recent episode, Erleigh Wiley and her husband, Aaron Wiley, were interviewed about life on a hit list and Erleigh’s new book, Target On My Back.
 

Erleigh Norville Wiley was born and raised in Kaufman County. She is a graduate of Texas Tech University, Rawls College of Business; where she received a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree with a degree in Finance. She attended law school at Texas Law at The University of Texas in Austin receiving her Doctorate of Jurisprudence.
In 1990, Judge Wiley joined the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office. Her goal was to prosecute the criminals and protect innocent children and victims who have no voice. She was promoted to supervising attorney-training other new attorneys and managing fourteen different courts.
Wiley takes an active role in her community by volunteering. Some of her board work includes Chairman of the Kaufman County Juvenile Board, Trustee of Texas Health Resources- Kaufman, Kaufman County Children’s Advocacy Center and Kaufman County Children’s Shelter Board member.

Wiley has been lauded by various organizations for her work in the legal community as a Judge and as the Criminal District Attorney in Kaufman County. Some of the most notable were in 2013, from the State Bar of Texas, Outstanding Leadership-Profiles of Courage Award and Texas District & County Attorney’s Association, Lone Star Prosecutor Award; as well as the Dallas Black Police Officer’s Association with the Paved the Way Award in 2015.


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3/16/18
Excerpt
3/16/18
Bonus Post
3/17/18
Review
3/18/18
Author Interview
3/19/18
Review
3/20/18
Author on Video
3/21/18
Author on Video
3/22/18
Review
3/23/18
Author on Audio
3/24/18
Author Interview
3/25/18
Review
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Killing in C Sharp: Excerpt

KILLING IN C SHARP

A Gethsemane Brown Mystery, Volume 3 

By Alexia Gordon

Genre: Paranormal Mystery

Publisher: Henery Press

Date of Publication: March 6, 2018

Number of Pages: 288

Scroll down for the giveaway!

She saved Carraigfaire—but can she save her friends? Gethsemane Brown fought off an attack by a sleazy hotel developer who wanted to turn her Irish cottage into a tourist trap.

Now she must face a vengeful ghost determined to exact revenge for her murder centuries ago. This ghost’s wrath spares no one—not Gethsemane’s students, Inspector Niall O’Reilly, fellow teacher Frankie Grennan, or a group of ghost hunters descended on Dunmullach to capture proof ghosts exist. Proof Gethsemane has to quash to keep Eamon, her resident ghost and friend, from becoming an internet sensation.

As if a spiteful specter wasn’t bad enough, a crooked music reviewer turns up dead in the opera house orchestra pit, a famous composer is arrested for the crime, and Gethsemane must team up with a notorious true-crime author to clear his name. If she doesn’t, friends will die, a ghost she cares about will never know peace, and she’ll star in a final act gruesome enough for any opera.

PRAISE FOR THE GETHSEMANE BROWN MYSTERY SERIES:

Book 1, Murder in G Major

Winner of the 2017 Lefty Award for Best Debut Novel

2016 Agatha Award nominee for Best First Novel

Suspense magazine “Best of 2016” selection in Debut Novel category 

Book 2, Death in D Minor

Runner-Up, 2017 Lone Star Bloggers’ Choice Awards, Best Mystery/Suspense

Short List, 2017 Lone Star Bloggers’ Choice Awards, Best Series

Book 3, Killing in C Sharp

Starred review, Publisher’s Weekly, January 29, 2018

Purchase

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EXCERPT FROM KILLING IN C SHARP

By Alexia Gordon

“You don’t go out of your way to avoid them, either. I think you enjoy solving the puzzles, sussing out who done it.”

Did she? Was that why she involved herself in criminal investigations despite the exhortations of cooler heads and common sense? The challenge of answering a riddle? Or a desire—a need—to do the right thing, to be on the right side of the battle between order and chaos, good and evil?

“Solving puzzles is in Sissy’s nature, Niall,” Frankie said. “She’s the daughter of a mathematician.”

The urge to tell him to stop using that stupid nickname fought with the urge to thank him for taking her side. She silently recited Negro League baseball statistics until both urges passed.

“You encourage her, Frankie,” Niall said. “Don’t bother denying it. I know who aids and abets Sissy in her escapades. Breaking and entering, theft—”

“You make us sound like the bad guys.” Frankie laughed.

The inspector’s allegations didn’t appear to concern him.

“Not bad guys. More like mischievous school boys,” Niall looked at Gethsemane, “and girls. Except dead bodies are as far away from childish pranks as Earth is from Neptune. Keep poking your noses into criminals’ business and you might find yourselves listed in a police blotter.”

“Mischievous school girl?” Gethsemane came out of her seat. Niall had no right to reduce her rational, adult decisions—even when they were wrong—to instances of childish naughtiness, friend or no.

Before she could unleash her feminist ire, a high-pitched scream outside the pub ripped through the air and silenced all conversation just as Aed’s overture had. No one spoke or moved for several seconds. Frankie spoke first.

“What the bloody hell?” Niall knocked over his chair as he raced to the door.

“Stay here,” he called without looking to see if anyone obeyed.

A writer since childhood, I put literary endeavors on hold to finish medical school and Family Medicine residency training. Medical career established, I returned to writing fiction. I completed SMU’s Writer’s Path program in Dallas, Texas. Henery Press published my first novel, Murder in G Major, book one of the Gethsemane Brown mysteries, in September 2016. Book two, Death in D Minor, released July 11, 2017. Book three, Killing in C Sharp, comes out March 6, 2018. Murder in G Major won the Lefty Award for Best Debut Novel, was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best New Novel and was selected one of Suspense Magazine’s Best Debuts.

I listen to classical music, drink whiskey, and blog at Miss Demeanors, voted one of Writers’ Digest magazine’s 101 best websites for writers, and Femmes Fatales

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HOW ABOUT A BOOK AND A BOURBON?

One winner receives a signed copy of Killing in C Sharp and 

a bottle of Koval Bourbon Whiskey

Winner must be at least 21 and shipping of alcohol permitted by laws of the state where prize is being delivered. In the event above conditions not met, an alternate prize will be awarded.

MARCH 13-22, 2018

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3/13/18 Notable Quotable Texas Book Lover
3/13/18 Promo Book Fidelity
3/14/18 Review Hall Ways Blog
3/14/18 Bonus Post Dressed to Read
3/15/18 Notable Quotable Books and Broomsticks
3/15/18 Review Momma on the Rocks
3/16/18 Author Interview StoreyBook Reviews
3/16/18 Author Favorites Tangled in Text
3/17/18 Review Reading by Moonlight
3/18/18 Review Forgotten Winds
3/19/18 Excerpt The Page Unbound
3/19/18 Notable Quotable The Librarian Talks
3/20/18 Review #Bookish
3/21/18 Scrapbook Page A Page Before Bedtime
3/21/18 Promo Syd Savvy
3/22/18 Review The Clueless Gent

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