Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Happy Holidays!


Best Wishes and Happy Holidays

To Writers and Readers everywhere!


📗📕📗📕📗📕

From Rebecca Grace & Family


If you would like to appear on my weekly log in the New Year, please email me at:

RebeccaGrace55@gmail.com

We are currently booking Tuesday dates starting in March. We feature book spotlights, author interviews and character interviews.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

The Shoe Fits!

As a longtime avid reader and writer of books in a series, today's guest in My Writing Corner quickly caught my interest. Joining me is author L. B. Griffin and she is here with us to feature her book, Secrets, Shame and a Shoebox. Just that title should catch the attention of readers.  L. B. was my guest last year with her book, The Twenty-One-Year Contract and today she joins us to tell us about the prequel to that book. 


L.B. says she is happily married and surrounded by her family. While she
seamlessly weaves reality into compelling fiction, she says her stories are inspired from life experience and the people she continues to have the privilege to know, and work with.

Secrets, Shame, and a Shoebox has received superb 5-star reviews, amongst them Vine Voice reader/blogger Michelle Ryles, singing high praise: "Incredibly well-written, Secrets, Shame, and a Shoebox is a magnificent debut. It's a poignant, disturbing and a heart-warming page-turner that has left me chomping at the bit to continue Harriet's story."

Griffin also warns she is a self-confessed chocolate raisin and strawberry addict. Her debut novel: Secrets, Shame, and a Shoebox was released world-wide and instantly received rave reviews.


Let's find out more about L.B.'s featured book and how she came up with the idea to write it?

 

Thank you, Rebecca, for giving me the chance to talk about my debut novel Secrets, Shame, and a Shoebox. When I first started this book I had a plan, I knew what I wanted to say, all I needed was to put pen to paper. It sounds easy right? No, writing is never that easy. Not for me anyway. So I settled down and took stock of my life then mooched about a bit. Life, when it is kind, is a truly amazing experience, but it can so easily be taken for granted. In my earlier years I was in the privileged position to teach, and mentor vulnerable adults and I have met many amazing people. I quickly realised how incredible they were. They didn’t complain about their lot in life, their attitude was astonishing. While they were shy and unassuming, they were oh, so brave. In short they inspired me to write. While my stories are blended and fictionalised, we all know everyone good should have their happy ever after. Harriet is the shining light. She is the ultimate story of courage and survival. Survival is a triumph of the human spirit.

 

Tagline: 1950s London and everyone has a secret.

Let's get a blurb: 

1950s London, on Harriet Laws 17th birthday her only living relative, her beloved Nana dies. Alone, bereft, and about to be made homeless, she thinks wildly about ending it all. Tom, the baker steps in and saves her. She begins to have feelings for him, but he feels he’s too old for her.

CJ Rutherford, younger, sophisticated, and suave, steps in and sweeps her off her feet. But CJ is not all he seems and once married she finds her life is in danger. Can she escape?  Will she survive?

 

How about an excerpt?


She should go back, speak to her employer, explain the truth, beg him to reconsider. No, the only proof would be given by her absence, though it wouldn’t resolve the situation. She knew she needed to be strong, but she didn’t feel strong. She felt feeble, weak, miserable, and oh, so tired. Too tired to think straight. Without thought or plan, Harriet mechanically walked toward the tube, running over and over different scenarios, each one becoming its own reality. The entrance to the station filled with the relentless ebb and flow of commuters. A fleeting gap. She stepped between, slowly traversing the internal echoing medley of tiled chambers and escalators. With each step, Harriet felt more anger, accompanied by guilt. She should never have kept pushing Nana to tell her about her family. She had been unwell. It was her fault Nana died. She didn’t deserve a future. There could be no future. Not without Nana. Harriet continued weaving through the sea of jostling, purposeful faces, colliding with a group of schoolchildren and tourists. Normally she would apologize, but she barged by. One of the regular buskers struck up loudly, acknowledging her presence and her usual generosity. He nodded, playing something for her, she didn’t know what; she didn’t hear. It was futile. Her mind was elsewhere. She ended up on the platform with a plan, and a perfect sense of calm. She felt the telltale gust of wind from the ink-black cave. The train was coming. A strand of hair came loose from her plait, flicking her face as debris skittered along the dais. The train was imminent. People throw themselves in front of trains all the time…


Want to read more? Here are Secrets, Shame, and a Shoebox's buy links:


Apple Books

Amazon/Kindle

Barnes and Noble

Blackwell Press



Let's now find out about L.B.'s sequel novel,
The Twenty-One-Year Contract and how she came up with the idea to write it?

Thank you for allowing me to talk to you about my novel The Twenty-One-Year Contract. London 1950s.  
Life, when it is kind, is a truly amazing experience but it can so easily be taken for granted. I’ve always been aware of the darker side of life.
 
The Twenty-One-Year – Kathleen Gray is adopted, and starts her wonderful life in Somerset, with her adoptive family.

Why adoption? My curiosity was first piqued when my grandfather told me about a little girl his parents ‘took in’ because her mother wasn’t coping – this was way back in the 1900’s. I guess it was the first form of ‘fostering’. My grandfather always wondered what happened to the little girl, and, from the way he spoke he was clearly distraught when she left. I too have always wondered how her life turned out.   
 
Since then I have been surprised to learn how many peope have been adopted.
 
My story starts in 1950s. Kathleen Gray was born from the little girl who came and lived with my grandfathers family and left my grandfather wondering what happened to her. I have always been keen to try to understand how my friends felt when they learned they were adopted. While it seems they were grateful they had a wonderful life,  there were always those unanswered questions: Who am I? Why was I rejected? What did I do wrong?
 
This story isn’t just about adoption, it is a whole heap more. It is about life, all its glorious wonder. It questions life. It shows the coming of age and the kindness and courage of the human heart. When Kathleen meets Harriet she could never have known her new found friend has a shoebox full of answers.

 

Click on  The Twenty-One-Year Contract  book title to see my previous blog on this novel and find its buy links.

 

If you would like to get in tour with L. B, here are her Social links:


www.instagram.com/lynngriffinauthoruk 

www.Facebook.com/lynngriffinauthor/

www.twitter.com/lbgriffinauthor

www.wifeinthewest.com – blog for budding writers and spotlighting authors

Thank you, L. B. for being my guest today. Any questions or comments for L. B.?

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

A Romance With The Written Word

As someone who has spent years enjoying reading, writing, and meeting other authors, I always enjoy the stories behind the many guests who visit My Writing Corner.

Visiting us once again is author Susan Leigh Furlong, who says she knew she had a special connection with words beginning when she was a child. At nine years old, she wrote and directed her first play for the children in her neighborhood. 

She says her love for history fuels her resilience against the sneezes and coughs that old books give her as she delves into research for unique historical events to inspire her historical fiction romance novels. Susan captures her readers’ imagination with a highly enthralling style, chronological events, and smoothly flowing narratives that keep one’s eyes glued on her novels from the first page to the last.

 

Her first three books, published by The Wild Rose Press, center on a family living in the Scottish Highlands in the sixteenth century. Her most recent novel takes place during the American Revolution, featuring the same family but across the pond.  A fifth book takes the reader back to Scotland. She also has two non-fiction books filled with over 200 photographs and tales about her home town. 


When she is not researching and creating her stories, she writes, directs, and performs with a music and drama group. She married a small-town boy, and they have lived there ever since. Although born a “big city” girl, she says you now couldn’t get her out of that small town--even with a crowbar!


Let's find out more about Susan's latest book and how she came up with the idea to write Forgiven Never Forgotten?

I love to write historical stories based on true events, and during some research, I came across the Glencoe Massacre in 1692. King William wanted all the Highland clans to sign a loyalty oath to ensure the stability of his monarchy. However, some thought the “Highland barbarians” could only be coerced by violence, so troops were sent to Glencoe, Scotland where the small clan of MacDonald paid their tax by feeding and housing the soldiers. After two weeks of MacDonald hospitality, the king’s men were ordered to put to the sword “every man, woman, and child under seventy.” The attack began at dawn, and many were killed in their beds while others escaped only to freeze to death in the hills.


That got me to thinking about how people could forgive such a murderous betrayal of trust and go on with their lives. I wanted to explore how my hero and heroine from enemy clans could first overcome clan bitterness to find their own path to commitment and love – a Romeo and Juliet trope but with a happy ending. Once they were in love, and as a writer who must make things worse, they now had to deal with the greater betrayal, death, and murder of her clan and his seeming blame for it. As to be expected, despite bitterness and separation, Rory and Joneta created their own HEA destiny through determination and devotion.


In reality, it took three years of public outcry to convince King William to hold the true perpetrators of this tragedy responsible. The consequences turned out to be minimal, but in true Highland fashion, the MacDonald clan rebuilt their homes and their lives. No one inhabits the glen today, but the memory of the Glencoe Massacre remains. Forgiven, but never forgotten.


Let's get a blurb:

Rory Campbell, falsely accused of participating in the Clan MacDonald of Glencoe killings, is sentenced to hang as a sacrificial lamb while the real agents of the slaughter escape blame. He risks everything to convince the love of his life, Joneta MacDonald, of the truth. He can never forget how completely she owns his heart.

Joneta MacDonald watches helplessly as her family is murdered by the king’s men, but forgiving Rory for his seeming participation is harder than she imagined. What must she endure besides the clan’s hatred? With the overwhelming odds against them, she clings to her love for a man labelled a traitor.


Want more?  Then let's get an excerpt: 

Rory left his letters tucked inside Clyde’s books. A different book every time, and part of the fun for Joneta was searching for it. She found today’s letter in a red bound book about the ancient world. Rory wrote with broad strokes and often smeared the ink because he was left-handed, one more thing his father disapproved of.

Joneta, My chridhe,

  Ye come to me every morning as soon as I open my eyes. Ye fill my thoughts all day until I close my eyes, and then my dreams are of ye. Even when ye are not with me, I ken we are working together toward a better life. Not a minute goes by that I dinna miss ye, kenning that when we are together again, it will be all the sweeter.

Rory

Joneta slipped her letters to Rory in and among Lorna’s pans, jars, and bowls on the shelves. Her handwriting was small and the words tightly packed together, often two letters on one page.

Rory, My Love,

I never kenned what love meant until I met ye. But its power is greater than anything I could ever imagine. I am waiting for the day when we can walk hand-in-hand, with naught to keep us apart, and build our lives as one. I love you in ways words canna say. Only my heart kens the truth.

Yer love, Joneta.

Joneta read Rory’s letters over and over until she memorized them. At home in her bed, she repeated the word softly, and they lulled her to sleep.

Lorna, knowing neither of them could carry the letters with them, saved each one in colorfully painted boxes she kept on the shelf beside her chair. Clyde made the boxes out of scraps of wood and Lorna painted them, Joneta’s with yellow flowers and birds, and Rory’s in blue stripes.

On days they were together, they read the letters aloud to each other. “I want to hear yer voice say the words, and I ne’er want to forget even one of them.” He often read them in funny voices, sometimes high and squeaky and other times, deep and scary. Her laughter only encouraged him to come up with new accents….

Joneta dropped Rory’s latest letter into her lap. “The Lairds of the Highlands were called to Achallander Castle to talk about signing a loyalty oath to King William,” she told Lorna. “Da is no’ in favor but says he will wait until our deposed King James in France releases us from our allegiance to him. He doesna want his loyalties divided.”

“When must he sign this oath to King William?” asked Clyde.

“All clans have until December 31 this year.”


Forgiven Never Forgotten will be officially released on 12/20/2023 – Until then it can be pre-ordered.

Here are the Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub)

Books are available on Susan's website - Https://SusanLFurlong.com

UNIVERSAL LINKS 

Booklinker - https://mybook.to/pCg1  

Books2Read - https://books2read.com/u/mYDKDp

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/199723206-forgiven-never-forgotten?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=3G6EzuBBhL&rank=5

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/search?search=Susan+Leigh+Furlong


Susan's Social Media Links:

Facebook@SusanLFurlong

Twitter@furlongleigh

Instagram@susanleighfurlong

Tiktok@susanleighfurlong

Website – https://www.SusanLFurlong.com


Email – SusanLeighFurlongwriter@gmail.com

Thank you, Susan, for being my guest today. Any questions or comments for Susan?

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

LIving the Dream

While the calendar may read December, this is the time we all want to start thinking about those great warm days that will be coming soon (hopefully), so we can all get away to the beach! Today's guest in My Writing Corner has just the ticket to solve our winter doldrums. My guest is author Susie Black, who has appeared on my blog previously where we were fortunate enough to feature a number of books in the Holly Swimsuit Mystery series. It's great to welcome her back with her newest book, Rag Lady, which is the prequel to this series.

Named Best US Author of the Year by N. N. Lights Book Heaven, award-winning cozy mystery author Susie Black was born in the Big Apple but now calls sunny Southern California home. Like the protagonist in her Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series, Susie is a successful apparel sales executive. Susie began telling stories as soon as she learned to talk. Now she’s telling all the stories from her garment industry experiences in humorous mysteries. 

She reads, writes, and speaks Spanish, albeit with an accent that sounds like Mildred from Michigan went on a Mexican vacation and is trying to fit in with the locals. Since life without pizza and ice cream as her core food groups wouldn’t be worth living, she’s a dedicated walker to keep her girlish figure. A voracious reader, she’s also an avid stamp collector. Susie lives with a highly intelligent man and has one incredibly brainy but smart-aleck adult son who inexplicably blames his sarcasm on an inherited genetic defect. 

Welcome Susie.  What is the book you are featuring today and how did you come up with the story?


The book I am featuring today is Rag Lady. The prequel to the stories in The Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series, Rag Lady is the fictionalized autobiography of how I got into the rag biz and my subsequent writing gig. Since the continuing main character is based on me, I came up with the idea of the story to give context to the series by detailing the protagonist’s history as well as a means to introduce several continuing characters. 


Let's get a blurb for Rag Lady


Recent college graduate Holly Schlivnik dreams of being a writer, but fate has other plans. A family crisis throws her into an improbable situation and her life will never be the same. Determined to make her own luck when things don’t happen the way she plans, the irrepressible young woman takes a sledge hammer to the glass ceiling and shatters it to smithereens. The wise-cracking, irreverent transplanted Californian takes you on a raucous, rollicking rollercoaster ride of her hysterical adventures as a ladies apparel sales rep traveling in the deep South as she ends up finding herself along the way. 


We're trying something new today. Instead of interviewing the main character, Holly, we are going to talk to Holly's dad, Mike:

Welcome Mr. Schlivnik.  Tell us a little bit about your life. 


Hi there. Mike Schlivnik at your service. I’m a fun-loving guy in my late forties. I am happily married to my wonderful wife Natalie. We have three fabulous adult children who still keep us on our toes every day. Natalie, two of our kids, my remarkable Mother-in-law, and I recently moved from Los Angeles to Miami, Florida for my business. 


 I enjoy a good cigar once in a while when my wife lets me. I have been known to tell an off-color joke or two, and am a fair-to-middling poker player. I’m a football, barbeque, and rock n’ roll fanatic. Oh yeah…And I could stand to lose a few pounds…but don’t tell my wife, or she’ll put me on one of those frou-frous diets you’re always hungry on that set you up for failure. 


How did you get involved in the garment business?


After graduating from The Ohio State, I caught the acting bug and ran off to Hollywood to seek my fame and fortune. After pounding the pavement for months, I only got a few bit parts for my trouble. But a fella’s gotta eat…so I had to take a reality pill. Just as I faced the prospect of going back to Cleveland with my tail between my legs, a girl I was dating introduced me to her father who was a ladies’ sportswear manufacturer. Despite my having NO experience, she convinced her dad to hire me as a local sales rep. It turned out that selling and acting use the same storytelling skills. I took to it like a duck to water and never looked back. The girlfriend and I didn’t work out, but I thank her every day for my apparel sales career. 


A sales rep colleague introduced me to the world of bullfighting, and I took the sport up as an amateur. Yes, I realize it’s almost impossible to imagine my burgeoning middle-aged spread ever donning toreador pants. But back in the day, I worked out, and had quite the physique. And if I say so myself, I looked quite dashing in my costume. I eventually gave the gig up, but found a way to incorporate bullfighting into my career. With a dip and a sweep, every customer remembers my presentations as a ladies’ apparel manufacturers’ representative. It is an effective shtick and has become synonymous with my selling style. 


Tell us about your daughter, Holly.

Not that I’m prejudiced or anything- but how much time do we have? Because I could go on about my daughter Holly for days. She’s whip-smart, has a wicked sense of humor, loyal to a fault, fiercely independent, stands up for herself, doesn’t take crap from anyone-including, no, especially her parents, and is not afraid to speak her mind. 


What has been your dream for Holly’s future?


My dream for Holly’s future has always been to dream for her all that she dreams for herself.


Why?


Natalie and I raised our kids to think for themselves and follow their hearts to find the right path for themselves. It has always been what our kids wanted for themselves that was important for them to pursue, NOT what we wanted for them.


What has happened to change those dreams?


Nothing has happened to change my dreams for Holly. My dreams for her are still, and always will be, those that she dreams for herself. But in life, nothing is as constant as change-including one’s dreams. Not long ago, I needed to go to Cleveland when a family emergency arose while I was in the middle of a tradeshow in Atlanta. I reached out to Holly to come to Atlanta and run the show for me. She agreed and as I predicted, did a fantastic job. As a result of her tradeshow experience, Holly’s dreams changed and now so have mine for her. 


How can you help her to achieve her dreams?


As her parent, I have some perspective, and see things in Holly that she does not see in herself. She did not see herself as a natural-born saleswoman, but I did. Now as her career mentor, I help her achieve her dreams by teaching her everything about her craft. By reminding her that she sells confidence, not clothing- she sells herself and nothing else. I teach her that it’s okay to admit what she doesn’t know and stick to her guns with what she does. I remind her not to let anyone step on her dreams and never be afraid to fail-that she will, in fact, learn a lot more from her failures than she ever will from her successes. But most of all, that life holds no limitations, and if she perseveres, she can accomplish whatever she sets her mind to.


Want more? Let's get an excerpt from Rag Lady:


“To tell you the truth, the problem is, I kinda like Dad’s offer.” I squirmed in my chair. “But I don’t wanna make a mistake. I will screw my life up if I make the wrong choice. I’m trying to imagine myself doing the job Dad does. The adventuresome part of me says it’s cool. No school, no exams, no tedious papers to compose. I’d be experiencing life instead of reading about it. And getting paid to do it. But the realistic part of me says, are you nuts? Schlepping those heavy garment bags all over the place? And what kind of a life would I have traveling all the time? I don’t trust myself to make the right decision, and I’m driving myself crazy. I want someone else to decide, and tell me which way to go.”

Nana looked over her glasses and clucked her tongue. “Well, too bad, kiddo. Life doesn’t work that way. Let me tell you something. And the sooner you learn it, the easier your life will be. Man plans, and God laughs.”

I looked at Nana like she’d spoken in Sanskrit. “Meaning?” 

Nana answered in the same indulgent tone she used when I was a toddler. “It means plan all you want, but most of the time, your plans don’t mean a hill of beans. To use your vernacular, shit happens. You’re going along singing a song, confident life is a well-planned party. But the truth is, the road to life from birth to death isn’t paved in a straight line. It’s paved with hills and valleys, U-turns, and unexpected curves. And trust me. Nothing usually works out the way you think it will. To really live life and not merely exist taking up space, you must love a good mystery, love a good adventure, and love a good challenge. Kiddo, nothing in life is as constant as change. Keep your head on a swivel, and explore all your options. Look behind you for a sense of history, to the sides for a sense of proportion, and most important, remember God screwed our heads on facing forward for a reason. To look ahead to the future. To make good decisions, you can’t be afraid to make a mistake. You will learn more from your failures than from your successes. Regret is the worst human emotion because it is the one we can usually do nothing about. Always be yourself, don’t live your life for someone else, or in terms of someone else. Trust your gut, and believe in yourself.” 

When she finished, I asked, “So, what should I do?”  

Nana waved that gnarled index finger at me again and smiled. “Nice try, kiddo. It’s not important what I think. It’s only important what you think. So?” 

In a moment of clarity, I looked Nana in the eye and made my decision. 

Looking for more? Here are the buy links for Rag Lady and social media contacts for Susie Black.

Thank you Susie for being my guest today.  Any questions or comments for Susie?

A Writing Quest

With the cold days of winter in the rearview mirror and spring taking a firm hold, it's time to look forward to all the reading we want ...