Blog Tour: I’m Fine and Neither Are You by Camille Pagan

Synopsis

Wife. Mother. Breadwinner. Penelope Ruiz-Kar is doing it all—and barely keeping it together. Meanwhile, her best friend, Jenny Sweet, appears to be sailing through life. As close as the two women are, Jenny’s passionate marriage, pristine house, and ultra-polite child stand in stark contrast to Penelope’s underemployed husband, Sanjay, their unruly brood, and the daily grind she calls a career.

Then a shocking tragedy reveals that Jenny’s life is far from perfect. Reeling, Penelope vows to stop keeping the peace and finally deal with the issues in her relationship. So she and Sanjay agree to a radical proposal: both will write a list of changes they want each other to make—then commit to complete and total honesty.

What seems like a smart idea quickly spirals out of control, revealing new rifts and even deeper secrets. As Penelope stares down the possible implosion of her marriage, she must ask herself: When it comes to love, is honesty really the best policy?

My Review

Penelope believes her life as a wife and mother inferior to her always perfectly put together friend Jenny, whose daughter is just as seemingly pristine as her mother. She is blindsided by the tragedy of her friend’s life, causing her to re-evaluate her own marriage and motherhood. Pagan brilliantly portrays the chaos that is raising children, with an opening scene of Penelope in the bathroom asking if she will ever have a moment of peace. The disconnect between spouses blares from the pages as they discuss who’s to blame for the lack of toilet paper, and Penelope notes that Sanjay barely looks at her to confirm that her appearance is satisfactory. Her re-evaluation puts them on a bumpy road back to each other and a cohesive family unit. Pagan juxtaposes the consequences of social comparison and lack of connection with an ever-increasing social problem in a credible and empathetic manner. This story is a reminder to pay closer attention to the ones you love. It’s a 5-star lesson in life.

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Flash Fiction Friday: FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real—Zig Ziglar

Something was crawling on my back inside my shirt. I ripped off my shirt. Standing there in my bra, I flicked the shirt across my back until the creepy crawly feeling diminished to a tolerable level. Then I saw the spider on the last button, wrapped around it like a child clinging to the head of the person holding him on her shoulders. I dropped the shirt, then snatched it back up and ran to the washer. Only after I threw it in, and listened to it fill up, did I realize that the dead spider would not go down the drain with the rinse water, but need to be removed by hand. I shivered. Probably I could procrastinate for a couple days. Maybe someone would drop by in that time.

That night a sleep paralysis nightmare washed over me like a thousand spiders. It felt literally like spiders walking all over me, an army of them, a family of them. Oh, God! Its family! The spider’s family. How many spiders could there be in one family? I’ve seen those eggs hatch; it seems like a never-ending supply of baby spiders, far worse than all those horrifying clowns popping out of that stupid little car.

In the morning I felt itchy everywhere, but not the itchy that cries out for scratching, rather the kind that makes you feel as though you’re being watched. I forced myself to check the washer. I gently pulled the damp shirt from the belly of the beast, shaking it frantically and tossing it in the dryer. Half-expecting the spider to launch itself at my face, I peered in slowly. It was nowhere inside my machine. Maybe I needed a better look. I grabbed a flashlight from the whatsit drawer in the kitchen and aimed it in the washer. The light circled the barrel, faster in case the little critter was still actually alive and running from the light. I did the same in the dryer, shaking the shirt again like a woman on meth, not that I knew anything about that. No spider. No carcass.

Again the same sleep paralysis nightmare overtook me. I woke breathlessly, crying. The spiders crawled all over me, as I lay there unable to move or even open my eyes, repeatedly all night, alternating with gasping wakefulness, great gulping sobs by morning. The itchiness continued unabated. The paralysis attacks me nightly. My work is suffering. What can I tell people? Where is that stupid little spider?

Warren Alexander—Author, Poet, and Photographer

Describe your writing process: schedule, environment, and inspirations abstract and material.

My mind takes me where it wants to go. So as a non-linear thinker, process is fleeting and I would rather be free to have useful and stupid thoughts than be a slave to a schedule. As I no longer work for others and I am an insomniac, my work hours often include time between 2am to 5am. I do put in many hours trying to round my ideas into cogent and alluring sentences and paragraphs. I never know where ideas come from. A friend made a joke 30 years ago and I used it as the basis of a chapter of my book and an award-winning short story.

We live in a small but wonderful apartment in Manhattan, thus my work area is more practical and compact than comfortable. We try to keep our library to 400 books, but we are willfully neglect about that number.

Walk me through your publishing process, from final draft to final product, and marketing.

I am sorry to disappoint but this will be terribly pedestrian. Almost everyone I know in the arts finds the business side odious. And as I have only completed one novel, my experience is limited. I have had short stories, poems, and photographs published, but that was purely a hit and miss proposition of submissions to selected publications.

But I am already thinking about the marketing for my work in progress, a satire on business, which I believe has commercial potential. I will ultimately want to appeal to an agent or a traditional publisher; thus I have been gathering bits that may help. My current publisher, Creativia, of my novel “Cousins’ Club” believes in free downloads as a means of marketing and 12,000 people have taken advantage. I have written poems for the first time in 45 years and had them published and I have photographs appearing in art magazines. I also participate in select on-line writing boards where the atmosphere is collegial, solicit reviews for my Amazon page, and appear at book events. I think of each as being one inch closer to my goal. Obviously I do not know how many inches will be needed.

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

My wife of 47 years is absurdly supportive. She’s an artist and an inveterate reader and we both understand our need to be creative. My friends and family have gone out of their way to help. Many have used their good names on social media to alert others of my work, others organized events, others submit reviews and buy books, and others offer literary advice. I like to think of myself as a curmudgeon and lacking sentimentality, but I have been genuinely moved by the efforts of so many.

How does your life influence your writing and vice versa; how has your life prepared you for writing?

I have always been an independent spirit and thinker, whose benefits and limitations I have long understood and accepted. I approach things with a great ferocity which I think also appears in my work. Cautious people do not change the world. My creativity and my ability to analyze and connect disparate events and facts stood me well in business and in school. But my “I do not care about your arbitrary rules” has not. One boss used to say to me, “You’re not one of us.” To which I replied, “Why would I want to be.” Accordingly, why would I want to write what has been written or photograph what has already been shot.

What do you love most about your creativity?

I apply creativity to every aspect of my life. There are few things I do as routine, for I think how can I do this differently. They call it conventional wisdom because it comes from drunks at conventions.

Writing is problem solving. How can I create characters that are true to their purpose but are still different, vivid, and believable? How do I create dialogue that is witty and distinct, yet propels the story? How do I create events that are new and fresh, yet relevant and germane of the story? How do I create consequences for people’s actions that the reader will accept? As I write satire, how do I amuse a reader for hundreds of pages? I embrace all these challenges and quietly celebrate every victory. But you can never become smug, because the next sentence is just a keystroke away.

Connect with Warren:

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Spillwords Press

Cover Reveal: Everything You Are by Kerry Anne King—pub date October 1

One tragic twist of fate destroyed Braden Healey’s hands, his musical career, and his family. Now, unable to play, adrift in an alcoholic daze, and with only fragmented memories of his past, all Braden wants is to escape the darkness of the last eleven years.

When his ex-wife and son are killed in car accident, Braden returns home hoping to forge a relationship with his troubled seventeen-year-old daughter, Allie. But how can he hope to rescue her from the curse that seems to be shadowing his family?

Ophelia “Phee” MacPhee, granddaughter of the eccentric old man who sold Braden his cello, believes the curse is real. She swore an oath to her dying grandfather that she would ensure that Braden plays the cello as long as he lives. But he can’t play, and as the shadows deepen and Phee finds herself falling for Braden, she’ll do anything to save him. It will take a miracle of forgiveness and love to bring all three of them back to the healing power of music.

Kerry Anne King lives with her Viking in a little house surrounded by trees, the perfect place for writing books and daylight dreaming.  She spends her days working as an RN in a clinic, spinning her tales early in the morning and in the evenings after work. She believes passionately in the idea of the “whole self” and is ever in pursuit of balancing mind, body, and spirit. She also writes fantasy and mystery novels as Kerry Schafer and provides coaching services to creatives who are experiencing procrastination, overwhelm, and other blocks that get in the way of their important creative work.

Cover Reveal for Ribbons of Scarlet: A Novel of the French Revolution—pub date October 1

Six bestselling and award-winning authors bring to life a breathtaking epic novel illuminating the hopes, desires, and destinies of princesses and peasants, harlots and wives, fanatics and philosophers—six unforgettable women whose paths cross during one of the most tumultuous and transformative events in history: the French Revolution.

RIBBONS OF SCARLET: A Novel of the French Revolution, releases October 1st, 2019! Check out the amazing cover below and pre-order your copy today!

About RIBBONS OF SCARLET: A Novel of the French Revolution (Coming October 1, 2019)

Ribbons of Scarlet is a timely story of the power of women to start a revolution—and change the world.

In late eighteenth-century France, women do not have a place in politics. But as the tide of revolution rises, women from gilded salons to the streets of Paris decide otherwise—upending a world order that has long oppressed them.

Blue-blooded Sophie de Grouchy believes in democracy, education, and equal rights for women, and marries the only man in Paris who agrees. Emboldened to fight the injustices of King Louis XVI, Sophie aims to prove that an educated populace can govern itself–but one of her students, fruit-seller Louise Audu, is hungrier for bread and vengeance than learning. When the Bastille falls and Louise leads a women’s march to Versailles, the monarchy is forced to bend, but not without a fight. The king’s pious sister Princess Elisabeth takes a stand to defend her brother, spirit her family to safety, and restore the old order, even at the risk of her head.

But when fanatics use the newspapers to twist the revolution’s ideals into a new tyranny, even the women who toppled the monarchy are threatened by the guillotine. Putting her faith in the pen, brilliant political wife Manon Roland tries to write a way out of France’s blood-soaked Reign of Terror while pike-bearing Pauline Leon and steely Charlotte Corday embrace violence as the only way to save the nation. With justice corrupted by revenge, all the women must make impossible choices to survive–unless unlikely heroine and courtesan’s daughter Emilie de Sainte-Amaranthe can sway the man who controls France’s fate: the fearsome Robespierre.

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Kate Quinn

Kate Quinn is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of historical fiction. A native of southern California, she attended Boston University where she earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Classical Voice. She has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga, and two books in the Italian Renaissance, before turning to the 20th century with “The Alice Network” and “The Huntress.” All have been translated into multiple languages. Kate and her husband now live in San Diego with two rescue dogs named Caesar and Calpurnia, and her interests include opera, action movies, cooking, and the Boston Red Sox.

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Stephanie Dray

Stephanie Dray is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal & USA Today bestselling author of historical women’s fiction. Her award-winning work has been translated into eight languages and tops lists for the most anticipated reads of the year. She lives near the nation’s capital with her husband, cats, and history books.

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Laura Kamoie

A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of historical fiction, Laura Kamoie has always been fascinated by the people, stories, and physical presence of the past, which led her to a lifetime of historical and archaeological study and training. She holds a doctoral degree in early American history from The College of William and Mary, published two non-fiction books on early America, and most recently held the position of Associate Professor of History at the U.S. Naval Academy before transitioning to a full-time career writing genre fiction. She is the author of AMERICA’S FIRST DAUGHTER and MY DEAR HAMILTON, co-authored with Stephanie Dray, allowing her the exciting opportunity to combine her love of history with her passion for storytelling. Laura lives among the colonial charm of Annapolis, Maryland with her husband and two daughters. www.LauraKamoie.com

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Sophie Perinot

Sophie Perinot is an award-winning, multi-published author of female-centered historical fiction, who holds both a Bachelors in History and a law degree. With two previous books set in France—during the 13th and 16th centuries—Sophie has a passion for French history that began more than thirty years ago when she first explored the storied châteaux of the Loire Valley.  She lives in the Washington DC metropolitan area with her husband, children and a small menagerie of pets.

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Heather Webb

Heather Webb is the award-winning and international bestselling author of six historical novels set in France, including the upcoming Meet Me in Monaco, set to the backdrop of Grace Kelly’s wedding releasing in summer 2019, and Ribbons of Scarlet, a novel of the French Revolution’s women in Oct 2019. In 2015, Rodin’s Lover was selected as a Goodreads Top Pick, and in 2017, Last Christmas in Paris became a Globe & Mail bestseller and also won the 2018 Women’s Fiction Writers Association STAR Award. Her works have received national starred reviews, and have been sold in over a dozen countries worldwide. When not writing, you may find Heather collecting cookbooks or looking for excuses to travel. She lives in New England with her family and one feisty rabbit.

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E. Knight

E. KNIGHT is a USA Today bestselling author of rip-your-heart-out historical women’s fiction that crosses the landscapes of Europe. Her love of history began as a young girl when she traipsed the halls of Versailles and ran through the fields in Southern France. She can still remember standing before the great golden palace, and imagining what life must have been like. She is the owner of the acclaimed blog History Undressed. Eliza lives in Maryland atop a small mountain with a knight, three princesses and two very naughty newfies. Visit Eliza at www.eknightauthor.com/, or her historical blog, History Undressed, www.. You can follow her on Twitter: @EKHistoricalFic, Facebook: https://www.

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In Miniature: How Small Things Illuminate the World by Simon Garfield

One would expect a book on miniatures to target a specific audience, but Garfield offers a holistic look, broadening the concept of miniature, from souvenirs and model planes / ships to tiny books and staged crime scenes. In a surprise opening, Garfield shares the psychological obsession with recreations of the iconic Eiffel Tower, some models larger than a person, so not an expected miniature, but still tiny versions of the beloved landmark. He moves on to intricately detailed and blue-printed miniature villages and cities of astounding square footage. And from there, Garfield flies high to explore tiny portraits of royals and young Queen Mary’s dollhouse, for display only. More surprises enchant the reader upon finding out the rockstars who also happen to be model train fans, architect models famous for the intended structure not being built, and the elaborate theater that was, Garfield meandering out to mini stage sets. The book wraps up with a microscopic matrix-like painting within a painting within a painting, micro-sculptures, and of course, rice drawings and eye of the needle scenes, but also mini-cooking YouTube videos and contemporary artists. The Epilogue wanders through popular culture’s take on miniatures, and a retelling of Prussian victory at Waterloo, the final note an 8” 3D Mini-Me of the author himself.

At the end of every chapter is a “mini-break” enlightening readers upon such obscure miniatures as Egyptian shabtis, slave ship models, flea circuses, floor games / play rooms presaging Simcity, LSD tab art, Temple of Jerusalem, Las Vegas’ idea of world culture reduced to a resort, a shock artist’s work, and designer chair samples.

Extensive research was done for this book, with thorough timelines, respectful interviews, and photos. Garfield describes the inspiration, effort, finances, and passion involved in all aspects of the miniatures he’s investigated, relaying the history as a storyteller. The book is global in its scope and astonishing in its depth and content, a fun read for anyone interested in extraordinary things, reminiscent of The Museum of Interesting Things in NYC.

I received a copy of this fascinating book from the publisher Atria Books through NetGalley.

Tailwinds Past Florence by Doug Walsh

Edward surprises Kara with the bicycling-around-the-world trip she’s been planning for years, failing to inform her that it’s a flight response from being let go from his position and blacklisted in the financial sector. On the US leg of the tour, Edward is offered a job by a host, who insists on an earlier starting time than Kara’s expected two years, forcing Edward to speed up their trip without explanation. In alternate chapters, Italian Alessio and Japanese Hirosama have traveled to the present from earlier centuries and are connected to Kara, as are the Native American and French-Canadian Edward and Kara came across in the American Midwest. Alessio works for Hirosama in Florence as Edward rushes Kara through Europe. In Florence, things reach a breaking point when Kara’s life is endangered and Edward must make a life-changing decision. Walsh portrays well a marriage unraveling from Edward’s hidden agenda, and the confusion wrought by a supernatural experience. While the paranormal aspect brings intriguing elements, it’s superfluous, as Edward’s subterfuge provides a sufficient story arc, and those elements are not explored. However, they could make for an interesting series, with sequels going deeper into the stories of Allessio, Hirosama, the French-Canadian, and the Native American. Dear reader could then find out what happened to the Native American, who was but a footnote in this tale. I received a digital copy of this fascinating story by the publisher Snoke Valley Books through a Goodreads giveaway.

Flash Fiction Friday

Writing Bad prompt

“The ring, please.” Father Monahan turned to Jeffrey, whose gaze sent everyone’s eyes to the back of the room. Whatever he was looking at was not apparent, and all returned their attention to the couple.

“Jeffrey,” the groom stage-whispered angrily at his best man. He couldn’t be bothered right now that his lifelong friend’s unrequited love hadn’t shown. For god’s sake, it was his wedding. If Jeffrey ruined it, their friendship was in question. It had been faltering ever more as this obsession had grown.

Laila slowly opened the heavy church door, hoping for a quiet entrance. She was late, hadn’t been expecting to come at all. Susanna had begged her to come. Her little sister’s wedding was a must, but she understood that HE would be there. They agreed that no one wanted the commotion that would ensue from her presence. Yet she desperately wished to see her baby girl she helped raise marry the man of her dreams. The door squeak echoed around the three-stories’ tall ceiling. Acoustics were fantastic in here—as a singer, she was impressed. Then all eyes turned again to the back of the room.

Halfway up, Laila’s ex-husband Henri sat with two of their children, both of them excited about baby sister as flower girl. Upon seeing Laila in the doorway, with sunlight haloing her auburn hair, he stood up, snapped his fingers for the kids to follow, and headed to the door. As he walked down the aisle, he heard a gasp from the front, but didn’t turn to find out from who. In his peripheral vision, he noted a tall man in black on the left get up and head in the same direction. He did not want to know who this guy was. Henri reached back for his children. The sound of little feet running behind him assured him that all his kids were coming.

Jade Cinders—Author, Poet, Founder of Facebook’s Writing Bad

Tell me about your writing process, including schedule, environment, and inspirations material and abstract.

Now that I’m a student, I write mostly during spring and summer breaks. I call these my “on” periods. During my “on” periods, I have a rigid schedule: work, gym, dinner, 1 hour writing, and then 1 hour reading (though, I often read for longer). During my “off” periods, I’ve been trying to introduce a simple 500 words a day to maintain momentum without interfering with my school work.

As for environment, I write in my bedroom on my laptop while sitting on my bed. I know, super classy. I live in a small apartment, so there’s not a lot of options, and this is the most comfortable spot to me.

I find my inspiration from everywhere, but my favorite source of inspiration is real life. I read a lot of news, history, mythology, and true life stories—and when I read these I get ideas for stories. It might just be from a person’s or town’s name, or maybe the local lore of a lake. I find that stuff to be a goldmine of inspiration. For example, I read about an ancient underground city that went seven floors deep that was discovered in the middle east. From that I built a fantasy story of a hidden magical city under San Diego.

Walk me through creating and maintaining Writing Bad.

When I first created Writing Bad, I did so because I was tired of the pretentious belittling I’d see in other writing groups. I would see more developed writers just tearing the newbies apart limb to limb, destroying their self-esteem, and it pissed me off. I wanted to create a group where everybody felt welcome to share their writing, regardless of their skill level. I wanted to ensure we branded the group properly. The colors were black and white, the atmosphere friendly, chill, laid back, edgy cool, with a bite. We weren’t afraid of profanity, and we didn’t censor. We allowed freedom of expression. That was what separated us, and what separates us. The first year I spent every hour checking in on the group. I have had to shift through some admins, though my lead admin Samantha has remained loyal and reliable (couldn’t have done it without her), until we finally reached today’s team. I’m not as involved today as I used to be, or as I’d like to be, but the group has continued to flourish and grow. It’s beautiful to see what it’s become.

Talk about your support system IRL and online—who are your biggest cheerleaders?

My biggest support system would be my boyfriend and my lead admin & friend Samantha.

How have life experiences prepared you for writing and how does your art influence your life?

Hmm…I’m just going to say it’s been a journey. A long, crazy journey.

What do you love most about your creativity?

I love that my creativity allows me to see outside the box. I love to read, and I read so many different things. I’m not the type that only reads something that is in line with their beliefs—rather, I enjoy challenging my beliefs. I enjoy challenging the limits. I love reading fiction, nonfiction, politics, science, history, and more. I honestly just love to learn, and the more I learn, the more I love to share what I learn.

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So Easy

Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

Maddie fell hard for Ian, British security detail, when she taught English in Bulgaria and her BFF Joanna was a humanitarian working in Macedonia before and during their civil war. He’s hard to pin down, even after she marries him despite Joanna’s inexplicable hostility toward him. He insists on moving from NYC to her small, Kansas hometown, though he spends much of his time in the Eastern bloc, working in a security business he started with his brother after leaving his government position. The story unfolds in layers as it goes back and forth in time and around the globe to explain the horrible murder. Ward does an excellent job evoking sympathy for Maddie, who appears to be on the receiving end of Ian’s PTSD. This novel portrays young American idealists who get caught up in tragedy, differences in maturity levels of best friends, and how lack of self-awareness contributes to obfuscation, as a mismatched romance leads to its horrifying conclusion. I was fortunate to receive this brilliant story from the publisher Park Row Books through NetGalley.