Is’nana, the Werespider volumes 1&2 by Greg Anderson Elysee

Anansi’s son Is’nana rescues humans from Osebo the Leopard in volume 1, and in volume 2, dear readers learn how Is’nana accidentally opened the portal in the Mother Kingdom, unleashing horrors upon the human world, clevely setting up the storyline for future volumes. Blending African folklore into his storytelling, Elysee continues the tradition of passing down tales, through a thoroughly modern venue with gorgeously detailed graphics.

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All Those Things Revealed by Maureen O’Callaghan

In 19th century Ireland, Mrs. Moloney interrogates her daughter’s fiance Micheal to determine his ability to properly support them, debating fate of divine purpose versus consequences of actions, secrets of God and those revealed to man. She then relays stories passed down to her by her parents of how the fates of certain families were sealed, admonishing Michael to decide whether it was providential destiny or mere consequences of their actions. It is her story—the incident that changed her life’s trajectory and estranged her from her parents—her refusal to be a product of her time. O’Callaghan blends Irish folklore and Christian mythology with fiction, about the origins of Christianity in Ireland, specifically the Ceile De, or Companions of God, and their Cailin an Tsagairt, or Priest Women, who were threatened by Roman Papacy and Norman invaders. Though the daughter’s inexplicable ignorance (contrasted by her fiance’s knowledge) and sudden symbolism at the end are confusing, this is a beautiful story rich with legends, family, and mercy. I was fortunate to receive this wonderful novel through a Goodreads giveaway.

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Flash Fiction Friday: No Answers

He looked exactly the same as the day he left, in his favorite green striped shirt and cargo shorts bulging with plastic dinosaurs. It had to be a hallucination, but I didn’t care. I knelt and hugged my ten-year-old son who should have been twenty. The door hit me on the way down. I hugged him so tightly, wanting to never let go again. Footsteps came up behind me. Hal pulled the door open, and a gasp escaped him. Terry–he whispered–Terry. Hi Dad–said the forever little boy.

Over the next few weeks, Terry told various stories of his whereabouts, none that made sense, except perhaps the few time travel tales. But who believes in time travel? At the end of Summer, Terry announced that he must leave again, that he wasn’t really supposed to have come home. Though he hadn’t seem to have aged, even over the Summer while he was in our sights at all times, he appeared to have the wisdom of an old soul. We let him go. We had to. He promised to visit us again, but we might not remember him then. Yes, he would likely still appear to be a ten-year-old boy. There were no answers to our real questions.

Writing prompt provided by

Facebook writing group Writing Bad

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Barbara Claypole White—Novelist

Describe your writing process: schedule, environment, inspirations, etc.

Where to begin with my horrible process? I don’t find my ideas easily, and I have many false starts. Often the story seed is buried in a different idea, one I’ve already abandoned. I guess the gardener in me needs to keep digging. Either that or I’m a masochist.

My writing radar is always switched on, and when something makes my gut tingle, I pay attention. For example, after a summer of freaking out about funky issues with my heart, a guy collapsed three rows ahead of me on a transatlantic flight. Add a family history of heart failure, and you have the opening for THE PERFECT SON (my heroine has a major heart attack—at 47—on a plane).

Once an idea sticks, I write, research, and rewrite. My favorite method of research is the one-on-one interview with people who understand the experiences I want to explore. Those interviews shape my first and second drafts, and I amble down every detour until I’ve excavated the story’s heartbeat. At some point I create a story board written to movie beats, but I don’t hit my groove until the third draft, which is when I pull in beta readers.

I’m an early morning writer, and my prime hours are 6:30—8:30 a.m. Even when I fly back to England to see my mother, I guard that early morning routine. It’s my anchor.

My alarm goes off at six, I grab coffee and a banana, and head upstairs to my desk. The first thing I do after booting up my computer is turn off the Internet. I break around 8:30 a.m. for breakfast and to check email, and then I go back to writing until noon, when I shower and get dressed. In the afternoon I switch to research, blog posts, or anything with a ticking deadline. I keep the daily business of being an author—social media, answering emails, etc. for the evening.

That’s the goal, but family life and self-doubt intrude constantly. Family always comes first, that’s never up for debate, and fortunately I can write anywhere and through just about any crisis. All I need is a laptop, a charger, and an iPod. When I’m on an airplane, a glass of wine is also involved. 

Walk me through your publishing process from final draft to final product, including who does what when, and what marketing you do.

My last three books have been with Lake Union, and the press has a specific way of handling edits. I submit the manuscript to my acquiring editor and do one round of big picture edits for her. That normally takes about a month. Then the manuscript is officially accepted, we start on the cover and back copy, and slam into a tight editing timetable. It goes back and forth between me and my developmental editor for first and second pass edits (normally he has it for two weeks, I have it for two weeks, we repeat). Then I get the copy edits and normally have ten days to turn those around, and after that we go to page proofs. In addition, I hire a freelance editor as an extra pair of eyes for copy edits.

Marketing is a gray area for me, because I hate book launches and would happily hibernate through them. About six months before my pub. date, I create a marketing plan and establish what my publisher will handle. I book local events, including a catered launch at the library, reach out to local press and local book clubs, and pay for a blog tour. That’s pretty much it, but I try to be authentic on social media, because my main marketing tool is me.

Tell me about your support system online and IRL; who are your biggest cheerleaders?

My husband and son are amazing. They are always available for brainstorming and feedback, and our son, an award-winning, published poet, is one of my beta readers. I trust his feedback implicitly, and since much of my fiction steals from family life, he has the right of veto. My BFF is also an essential part of my process. She’s a voracious reader—not a writer—and has given brutally honest feedback on every manuscript, including the one that ended up in a drawer. My sister, an artist back in England, is another cheerleader.

I’m blessed to have family who have encouraged me to be a dreamer, friends who understand the bizarre nature of the writing life, and an agent who is sympathetic to my weird levels of stress (a double dose of OCD + an aging parent in another time zone). I’ve also been incredibly fortunate with my editors at MIRA and Lake Union. A good editor is everything.

And, of course, there’s the writing community. I have terrific support from other authors online and locally, but I’ve worked hard to establish those connections. You can’t survive this industry without the camaraderie of other writers, and that has to be earned. Network like you mean it, people!

Talk about how your life influences your work and vice versa.

Writing is my therapy, my escape, and the way that I process the world. On some level it’s about crafting a better story for myself and people I love. When you live in the trenches with mental illness, you need to believe that bad days end, each day brings a fresh start, and in-between there are people who understand. That’s why hope and a sense of community are important elements in all my stories. As a mental health advocate, I pray that my characters do their bit to chip away at the stigma, shame, and stereotypes—especially with OCD, a chronic illness that has no cure and demands constant management.

My son has battled OCD for most of his life. When he was little, I was terrified that he would never grow up to be loved for the incredible person he is, but would always be judged by his anxiety. Which is crazy, because my husband of thirty years also has OCD. (For the record, our son has been in a serious relationship for the last four years.)

But that maternal fear gave birth to my first hero, James Nealy. He appeared in my head when I was several drafts into the manuscript that would become my debut, THE UNFINISHED GARDEN, and refused to leave. James is brilliant, sexy, wealthy, and locked in a private war with obsessive-compulsive-disorder. He’s a romantic hero who struggles with an invisible disability, but exhibits incredible compassion, empathy, and courage.

Those are the qualities that I see in my son, even as he negotiates the relentless horrors of intrusive, unwanted, repetitive, obsessive thoughts. He is my muse, my inspiration, and the reason I’m passionate about creating characters who are successful in life and love despite messed-up brain chemistry.

What do you love most about your creativity?

Not sure I can answer that one, but I love hanging out in my garret with my imaginary friends. I talk to them all the time. As I said, they help me process my life. They keep me sane, and they keep me laughing.

AUTHOR BIO

Bestselling author Barbara Claypole White writes hopeful family drama with a healthy dose of mental illness. Born in England, she works and gardens in the forests of North Carolina and is an OCD advocate for the A2A Alliance, a nonprofit that promotes advocacy over adversity. Her novels include: The Unfinished Garden, which won the Golden Quill for Best First Book; The In-Between Hour, a SIBA Okra Pick; The Perfect Son, a Goodreads Choice Awards Semifinalist; Echoes of Family, a WFWA Star Award Finalist; and The Promise Between Us, a 2018 Nautilus Award Winner. She is currently working hard on novel six, The Gin Club, and is excited about the July 2019 release of The Unfinished Garden audiobook.

To connect with her, please visit

www.barbaraclaypolewhite.com

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/BarbaraClaypoleWhite

Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5778132.Barbara_Claypole_White

Twitter

https://twitter.com/bclaypolewhite.

Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/bclaypolewhite/?hl=en

BookBub

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/barbara-claypole-white

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Caster’s Blog: A Geek Love Story (15th Anniversary Edition) by Marcus Alexander Hart

Ray Caster follows friendship and romance advice from the followers of his blog. His loyalty to his friend Turbo Dan waxes and wanes, but his love for Shadoe remains true to the end. Hart’s social experiment turned into a blog, turned into a book, turned into a movie, and turned again into a book. He’s getting exceptional mileage from a character he created many moons ago to deflect criticism as an online neophyte. Hart is a unique creative and this shows in his work. I highly recommend anything he writes, no matter how old, how different, how silly, or if it’s not your favorite genre. He transcends genre. He shared his book with me because I’m awesome too. If you love to laugh, you’ll love this!

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The Last Thing She Remembers by J.S. Monroe

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Following a rough week of traveling for work, Jemma’s handbag with all her important possessions including her passport, credit cards, laptop, and house keys is stolen at the airport. Even more disturbing, when she goes to report the incident, she realizes she can’t recall her own name. Home and her past no longer exist in her mind, but the only thing in her pocket is a train ticket “home.” Jemma is a source of mystery when she arrives at the sleepy Wiltshire village where she thought she lived and quickly becomes a cause of fear and curiosity amongst the locals when no one recognizes her. Is she a victim or a killer? Where did she come from? All at the same time as she is thinking: Who are these people? Who am I?

LAEL’S REVIEW:

A young woman takes a train home to an English village and finds her house inhabited by the current owners. She cannot remember who she is, relying on their kindness to help her determine what happened, her only memory of the mysterious Fleur. A murderer lived in the house over a decade ago; timing of the murderer’s release and the young woman’s resemblance cast suspicion on her, dividing the owners. The wife leaves town and the husband obsesses over the unknown woman, possibly a murderer. Deception and revenge collide with coincidence and subterfuge, moving toward tragedy, and taking the story to Berlin and a horrific crime. Monroe builds an intriguing world of characters with hidden agendas and convincing personas. Dear reader may not know with whom to empathize as the secrets spill. Layers of the story build with new insights through flashbacks and revelations. This is an excellent look into the psychology of a criminal act and the resulting vigilante justice. I received this provocative novel from Park Row Books through NetGalley.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

J.S. Monroe studied English at Cambridge University, worked as a freelance journalist in London and was a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4. He was also a foreign correspondent in Delhi for the Daily Telegraph and was on its staff in London as Weekend editor. He is the author of six other novels and lives in Wiltshire, England, with his wife and their three children.

The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister

About the Book:

Erica Bauermeister, the national bestselling author of The School of Essential Ingredients, presents a moving and evocative coming-of-age novel about childhood stories, families lost and found, and how a fragrance conjures memories capable of shaping the course of our lives. 

Emmeline lives an enchanted childhood on a remote island with her father, who teaches her about the natural world through her senses. What he won’t explain are the mysterious scents stored in the drawers that line the walls of their cabin, or the origin of the machine that creates them.  As Emmeline grows, however, so too does her curiosity, until one day the unforeseen happens, and Emmeline is vaulted out into the real world–a place of love, betrayal, ambition, and revenge. To understand her past, Emmeline must unlock the clues to her identity, a quest that challenges the limits of her heart and imagination.

Lyrical and immersive, The Scent Keeper explores the provocative beauty of scent, the way it can reveal hidden truths, lead us to the person we seek, and even help us find our way back home.

Lael’s Review:

In Emmeline’s childhood, mermaids brought supplies to their island cabin, and scents of faraway places lived in beautiful bottles covering the back wall. Made with a mysterious machine, these scents inspire her father’s tales of Queen Emmeline and Jack, the Scent Hunter. Tragedy thrusts her into the mainstream world, where secrets are revealed and Emmeline must redefine family. Bauermeister portrays a magical land of enchantment from a child’s perspective, and the demise of innocence so well that dear reader’s heart breaks for Emmeline. I was fortunate to receive this beautiful story of never giving up on your dream, and unintended consequences, from St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley.

About the Author:

Erica Bauermeister is the author of the bestselling novel The School of Essential Ingredients, Joy for Beginners, and The Lost Art of Mixing. She is also the co-author of the non-fiction works, 500 Great Books by Women: A Reader’s Guide and Let’s Hear It For the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14. She has a PhD in literature from the University of Washington, and has taught there and at Antioch University. She is a founding member of the Seattle7Writers and currently lives in Port Townsend, Washington.

Buy Links:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Books-a-Million

Indie Bound

Powell’s

Vermin by William A. Graham

The prologue introduces low-level, low-brow politician Henry Lewis, who’s interrupted in his back alley business when his intended victim Davie is rescued. Allan Linton fell into the PI business after a newspaper takeover, and he pulled strong, silent street avenger Niddrie in as his “and Associates.” A mysterious man calling himself Carter hires them to find a woman in a photograph whose name is likely an alias. Then dear reader goes through a flashback on the rise and fall of Allan’s marriage to the daughter of a top dollar barrister, then back to the present where his daughter asks his help with the entitled son of her grandfather’s partner and he explains his love for the Hollies. He seeks help on the case from his best friend Michael, who just happens to be the main drug dealer in town, and dear reader goes through another flashback chapter on the origin of their friendship. There are aliases and backstories galore in this novel, with each flashback its own fascinating short story. If you like backstory woven into the fabric of a novel, this format might confound you. The unusual names and behaviors of the characters make this whodunwhat feel a bit out of time and place, like a cheeky noir film. I received a digital copy of this fantastic story from Black & White Publishing Ltd through NetGalley.

Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev

LAEL’S REVIEW

Dr. Trisha Raje brings modern day morés and an introverted personality to this Austen classic as she subconsciously creates problems from miscommunication. Unexplored emotions and hesitance toward introspection lead Dr. Trisha to misadventures. Dear Readers watch her spar with the sexy caterer, whose mother’s favorite book inspired her to name him Darcy—he goes by DJ. She attempts to reconnect with her family, guilt-ridden by a long ago transgression of her friend, who has shown up recently to lure in the caterer. Dr. Trisha remains focused on his sister, her patient, how she can aid her in reframing her outlook toward her future as an artist without sight. Dev’s work is, as usual, lush and gorgeous and emotional and sexy as hell, with complex, realistic characters in complicated situations in which they must untangle themselves, eventually giving in to intense feelings. A brilliant storyteller, she carefully weaves into a well-known story a contemporary character, her Indian-American culture, and a romance inspired by, well, gourmet food. Of course. I was fortunate to receive a copy of this wonderful story through Edelweiss.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Award winning author Sonali Dev writes Bollywood-style love stories that let her explore issues faced by women around the world while still indulging her faith in a happily ever after. Her books have been on NPR, Washington Post, Library Journal, and Kirkus Best Books of the year lists, but Sonali is most smug about Shelf Awareness calling her “Not only one of the best but also one of the bravest romance novelists working today.” Sonali lives in Chicagoland with her very patient and often amused husband and two teens who demand both patience and humor, and the world’s most perfect dog. Find more at sonalidev.com.