17 September, 2019

Call Upon the Water by Stella Tillyard Book Review!

CALL UPON THE WATER by Stella Tillyard

Spanning several decades in seventeenth-century Great Britain and America, this “impressive piece of work, rich in historical detail and human insight” (The Sunday Times) is an unforgettable love story exploring the power of nature versus man and man versus woman. 

I am an engineer and a measured man of the world. I prefer to weigh everything in the balance, to calculate and to plan. Yet my own heart is going faster than I can now count.

In 1649, Jan Brunt arrives in Great Britain from the Netherlands to work on draining and developing an expanse of marshy wetlands known as the Great Level. It is here in this wild country that he meets Eliza, a local woman whose love overturns his ordered vision. Determined to help her strive beyond her situation, Jan is heedless of her devotion to her home and way of life. When she uses the education Jan has given her to sabotage his work, Eliza is brutally punished, and Jan flees to the New World.

In the American colonies, profiteers on Manatus Eyland are hungry for viable land to develop, and Jan’s skills as an engineer are highly prized. His prosperous new life is rattled, however, on a spring morning when a boy delivers a note that prompts him to remember the Great Level, and confront all that was lost there. Eliza has made it to the New World and is once again using the education Jan gave her to bend the landscape—this time to find her own place of freedom.

A “story of passion, possession, and a painful education in love” (Sarah Dunant, author of In the Name of the Family), Call Upon the Water is an adventure, an unusual and intelligent love story, and a powerful comment on the relationship between humans and the environment. “Richly involving…rousing and heroic” (The Guardian), this unforgettable historical novel is perfect for fans of Hilary Mantel, Geraldine Brooks, and Philippa Gregory.

*Note: This book was published in the UK under the title The Great Level.

My Review
Call Upon the Water by Stella Tillyard is a historical novel that takes place in the Netherlands, Great Britain and the American colony of Virginia in the mid-1600s. Jan Brunt is an engineer talented in mapmaking and his skills are prized.

He is hired to drain and develop wetlands in the Great Level in Great Britain while doing so he meets Eliza, a woman who he immediately falls in love with. They spend a lot of time together and she learns how to read from him and how to read the maps. She betrays him and is punished and sent off to be an indentured servant in Virginia, a chapter or two devoted to this time in her life I found refreshing. Jan goes to America unbeknownst to him that she is there. He is hired to drain the swamp if you will in Dutch American colony of New Netherland, New York today. 

One day a boy delivers a message that Eliza wants to meet with him, she is a free woman by this time and wealthy. He mulls this over for a long time. Want to learn more, then you have to get the book.

What I liked about the book, I enjoyed learning about what Jan's trade was, the era, as I love historical fiction and just the geographical areas in the story. What I didn't like was that it was very wordy and not a lot of dialogue. To me, that can put a person to sleep very easily. Guess I have not read a lot of books written this way. Not to say that it was not informative, just that I got bored frequently. I persevered and did find that I did like the book. I give it 4 stars.



About the Author
Stella Tillyard is a British novelist and historian. She was educated at Oxford and Harvard Universities and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Her bestselling book Aristocrats was made into a miniseries for BBC1/Masterpiece Theatre, and sold to over twenty countries. Winner of the Meilleur Livre Etranger, the Longman-History Today Prize, and the Fawcett Prize, Tillyard has taught at Harvard University, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Centre for Editing Lives and Letters at Queen Mary, London. She is currently a Visiting Professor in the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology at Birkbeck, University of London. Her latest novel is Call Upon the Water (published in the UK under the title The Great Level).

The Last Chapter by Michelle Alstead Book Tour! Read the Excerpt!


Emma Barton is drowning. A single mother of a son with a genius-level IQ and Autism, she’s given up on love to focus on the child who needs her. Her writing aspirations—the only dream she hasn't abandoned—withers as her latest novel bombs, and she’s dropped by her publisher. Ethan Wise, an A-list actor, wants an Oscar, but he’d settle for being something other than a romantic comedy lead or a beefcake superhero. Discovering Emma’s novel happened by chance, but it could also be his opportunity to finally become a serious actor. When Ethan seeks Emma out to buy the movie rights to her novel, they fall so passionately in love their lives are turned upside down. Emma wants to be with Ethan, but there’s her son to consider and the secrets she’s kept to protect him. She’ll do anything to keep her little boy’s world safe and happy. She’d even give up the love of her life. 

  Buy on Amazon or read for FREE in Kindle Unlimited 

Read an Excerpt!

 “Emmy!”
Her boss’s high-pitched voice rang out across the office, bringing everything and everyone to a halt.
Emma stood up, peering over the cubicle wall. Should she answer? What if her new boss wasn’t calling to her, and she ended up looking like a moron on her fifth day? Emma waved her hand to catch the attention of Veronica, the young administrative assistant staring at her phone in the cubicle across from hers.
“Hey,” Emma hissed.
Veronica pointed to her earbuds and smirked.
Emma gritted her teeth and pointed in the direction of the boss lady’s office.
Veronica pulled one earbud out. “What do you want?”
“She called for Emmy. Do you think she means me?”
“I don’t know. Is your name Emmy?”
“No, it’s Emma, but that’s close—”
Veronica rolled her eyes. “If your name isn’t Emmy, then she didn’t mean you.”
“But it’s just so close to my name, and I’m new. She could easily think my name is Emmy and not Emma. Surely someone has called you Veronique at least once.”
“Nope.” The young woman yawned. “I need to get back to work.”
“What work? You were on your phone. You’re always on your phone.”
“I’m processing in my own way. I don’t judge you for your hair choices, so don’t judge me for how I process.”
Welcome to your mid-thirties, Emma, where suddenly you’re old and lame.
Her hands went to her hair. The loose bun was a mistake. Clearly, Cosmo was wrong, and updos weren’t making a comeback. Even after scrolling through Instagram while hiding in the bathroom from JD for an hour, Emma wasn’t sure what was trendy. There were too many looks and styles to sift through. She’d gone with her only decent pair of jeans, a crisp white blouse, and a navy blazer. Granted, she’d had the blazer since the early aughts, but the look was still classy.
Perhaps the outfit was as big a mistake as taking the job. From the minute she’d walked into the office filled with people almost all still in their twenties, Emma had been floundering in the shallow end.
She frowned, her lower lip trembling. Without the job, there would be no healthcare for her son. They’d be back to where they were a year earlier—struggling to survive.
Veronica’s tone was sharp. “Are you about to cry?”
She bit her lower lip. “No.”
“You look like you’re about to, and this is a place of business.” Her co-worker gestured to the surrounding office. “We’re one of the best marketing firms in the mountain west region. How would it look if the oldest person in the office was crying on her first day?”
“It’s my fifth day. Not my first.”
“What’s the difference? Either way, you’re bombing worse than Ben Affleck as Batman.”
Emma’s eyes widened as she mumbled, “I liked his Batman.”
“You would.” Veronica flipped her hair. “My point is: do not bring your personal drama into the workplace. I just got dumped by my friend with benefits and you don’t see me crying at my desk, because I’m a professional.” Veronica turned away, suddenly engrossed with whatever was on her computer screen.
Emma sank down into her chair. “Right, no one wants to hear about my problems.” She studied her blank computer screen and blinked away tears.
Don’t take it personally. She doesn’t know you or what you’ve had to give up. Deep breaths. It will all be okay.
“But it’s never okay,” she muttered. “Just write the piece. Don’t think about the rest.” Slowly, Emma’s fingers tapped out words across the empty screen.
Writing fitness and nutrition articles for a startup marketing firm wasn’t the dream. But there were medical bills and a tiny house with a mortgage to pay. It’s still writing, she reasoned. You’ve got this. Just write about the vitamins.


Strangers She Knows by Christina Dodd Book Blast!

Strangers She Knows by Christina Dodd

Strangers She Knows

by Christina Dodd

September 17, 2019

on Tour September 17 - October 1, 2019

Synopsis:



Perfect for fans of Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown, Linda Howard, and Jayne Ann Krentz, New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd returns with the chilling finale to the Cape Charade trilogy.


I have three deadly problems:
  1. I’ve seriously offended a maniacal killer.
  2. I just had a bullet removed from my brain.
  3. My new daughter is growing up too fast—and she's in the line of fire.


Living on an obscure, technology-free island off California means safety from the murderer who hunts Kellen Adams and her new family…or does it? Family time becomes terror time, until Kellen finds herself alone and facing an all-too-familiar psychopath. Only one can survive, and Kellen knows who must win…and who must die.

Be sure to also check-out the rest of the Cape Charade series, starting with DEAD GIRL RUNNING and WHAT DOESN'T KILL HER, available now wherever books are sold.

Series STARRED reviews from Booklist

"From the unforgettable heroine with a past to the incisively etched cast of secondary characters to the brilliantly imaginative plot, Dodd is at her most wildly entertaining, wickedly witty best." -Booklist STARRED review on DEAD GIRL RUNNING

"Featuring an unforgettable protagonist…who makes Jack Reacher look like a slacker when it comes to dispatching trouble, and an ingenious plot that includes plenty of white-knuckle twists and turns as well as some touching moments of mother-daughter bonding." -Booklist STARRED review on WHAT DOESN'T KILL HER

“Dodd continues her addictively readable Cape Charade series featuring Kellen Adams with another white-knuckle tale that simply begs to be inhaled in one sitting. With a fascinating island setting that includes a spooky old mansion, a secondary storyline involving World War II, and an antagonist who could give Villanelle from Killing Eve a pointer or two, this is Dodd at her brilliant best.” -Booklist STARRED review on STRANGERS SHE KNOWS

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Published by: HQN Books
Publication Date: September 17, 2019
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN: 1335468331 (ISBN13: 9781335468338)
Series: Cape Charade #3
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Yearning Sands Resort Washington’s Pacific Coast This Spring
Rae Di Luca stacked up her Level Three lesson books, opened the piano bench and put them away. She got out the Adult Course Level 1A book, opened it to “Silver Bells,” and put it on the music rack. “Mom, you have to practice.”
Kellen didn’t look up from her book. “I know.”
“When?”
“When what?”
“When are you going to do it?”
“I’m at the good part. Let me finish this chapter.”
“No, you have to practice now. You know it helps with your finger dexterity.”
When had their roles reversed, Kellen wondered? When had ten-year-old Rae become the sensible adult and Kellen become the balky child?
Oh yeah. When she had the brain surgery, her right hand refused to regain its former abilities, and the physical therapist suggested learning the piano. But there was a reason Kellen hadn’t learned to play the piano earlier in her life. She loved music—and she had no musical talent. That, added to the terrible atrophy that afflicted her fingers, made her lessons and practices an unsurpassed agony…for everyone.
She looked up, saw Rae standing, poised between coaxing and impatience, and the Rolodex in Kellen’s punctured, operated-on and much-abused brain clicked in:
RAE DI LUCA:
FEMALE, 10YO, 5‘0", 95LBS. KELLEN’S DAUGHTER. HER MIRACLE. IN TRANSITION: GIRL TO WOMAN, BLOND HAIR TO BROWN, BROWN EYES LIGHTENING TO HAZEL. LONG LEGS; GAWKY. SKIN A COMBINATION OF HER ITALIAN HERITAGE FROM HER FATHER AND THE NATIVE AMERICAN BLOOD FROM KELLEN; FIRST PIMPLE ON HER CHIN. NEVER TEMPERAMENTAL. KIND, STRONG, INDEPENDENT.
Kellen loved this kid. The feeling was more than human. It was feral, too, and Kellen would do anything to protect Rae from threat—and had. “I know. I’m coming. It’s so much more fun to listen to you play than practice myself. You’re good and I’m…awful.”
“I’m not good. I’m just better than you.” Rae came over and wrapped her arms around Kellen’s neck, hugged and laughed. “But Luna is better than you.”
“Don’t talk to me about that dog. She howls every time I sit down at the piano. Sometimes she doesn’t even wait until I start playing. The traitor.” Kellen glared at the dog, and once again her brain—which had developed this ability after that shot to the head—sorted through the files of identity cards to read:
LUNA:
FEMALE, FULL-SIZED POODLE/AUSTRALIAN CATTLE DOG/AT LEAST ONE OTHER BREED, 50LBS, RED COAT, BROWN EYES, STRONGLY MUSCLED. RESCUED BY RAE AND MAX WHILE KELLEN RECOVERED FROM SURGERY. FAMILY MEMBER. RAE’S FRIEND, COMPANION, PROTECTOR. MUSIC LOVER.
Luna watched Kellen in return, head resting on her paws, waiting for her chance to sing a solo protest to Kellen’s inept rendition of “Silver Bells.”
“Everybody’s a critic.” Rae set the timer. “Come on. Ten minutes of scales, then you only have to practice for thirty minutes.”
“Why do I have to practice ‘Silver Bells’? Christmas isn’t for seven months.”
“So you’ll have mastered it by the time the season rolls around.”
“I used to like that song.”
“We all used to like that song.” Rae took Kellen’s left hand and tugged. “Mom, come on. You know you feel better afterward.”
Kellen allowed herself to be brought to her feet. “I’m going to do something wild and crazy. I’m going to start learning ‘When the Saints Go Marching In.’ It’s the next song in the book, and I like it.”
“You can learn anything you want after you practice your scales and work on ‘Silver Bells’ for fifteen minutes.”
No one wanted to be inside today, certainly not Rae Di Luca, certainly not Kellen Adams Di Luca, certainly not upstairs in their private quarters in the Yearning Sands Resort. Not when spring had come to the Washington state Pacific Coast. April and May’s drenching rains turned the world a soggy brown. Then, on the first of June, one day of blazing sunshine created green that spread across the coastal plain.
Kellen made her way through the ten minutes of scales—the dog remained quiescent for those—then began plunking out “Silver Bells.” 
As she struggled with the same passage, her right hand fingers responding only sporadically, Luna started with a slight whine that grew in intensity. At the first high howl, Kellen turned to the dog. 
“Look, this isn’t easy for me, either.”
Luna sat, head cocked, one ear up, one ear down, brown eyes pleading with her.
“I would love to stop,” Kellen told her and turned back to the piano. “How about a different tune? Let’s try ‘When the Saints Go Marching In.’”
She played the first few notes and out of the corner of her eye, she saw the dog subside. Then, as she worked on a tricky passage, made the same mistake, time after time, the dog sat up again, lifted her nose and howled in mourning for the slaughter of the song.
Rae giggled, and when her mother glowered, the child controlled herself. “Come on, Luna, I’ll take you outside.”
The dog didn’t budge.
“She thinks she’s helping you,” Rae explained. “Come on, Luna. Come on!” She coaxed her out the door, turned back to Kellen and said sternly, “Twenty more minutes!”
“Yeah, yeah.” Kellen struggled on, trying to make her recalcitrant fingers do her bidding. Even when she finally got the notes right, it wasn’t a piano tune so much as jack-in-the-box music. When at last the timer went off, she slumped over the keyboard and stared at the fingers of her right hand.
They were trying to atrophy, to curl in and refuse to do her bidding ever again. But the physical therapists assured her she could combat this. She had to create new nerve ways, train another part of her brain to handle the work, and since two hands were better than one and her right hand was her dominant hand, the battle was worth fighting. But every day, the forty minutes at the keyboard left her drained and discouraged. 
Behind her, Max said, “Turn around and let me rub your hands.”
She noticed he did not say, That was good. Or even, That was better.
Max didn’t tell lies.
Kellen sighed and swiveled on the piano bench. Again that Rolodex in her brain clicked in:
MAX DI LUCA:
MALE, 38YO, 6'5", 220LBS, ITALIAN-AMERICAN, FORMER FOOTBALL PLAYER. HANDSOME, TANNED, CURLY BLACK HAIR, BROWN EYES SURROUNDED BY LONG BLACK LASHES. ONCE HIGH UP IN THE DI LUCA FAMILY CORPORATION, STEPPED DOWN TO RAISE HIS DAUGHTER, NOW DIRECTOR OF THE FAMILY’S YEARNING SANDS RESORT ON THE WASHINGTON COAST. KIND, GENEROUS, RESPONSIBLE, LOVING. A STICKLER FOR DUTY. FAR TOO MUCH WILLPOWER, WHICH WAS IRRITATING TO KELLEN IN MATTERS RELATING TO THEIR MARITAL STATE.
He took her right hand gently in both of his and, starting at the wrist, he massaged her palm, her thumb, her fingers. He used a lavender-scented oil, and stretched and worked the muscles and bones while she moaned with pleasure.
He listened with a slight smile, and when she looked into his face, she realized his lips looked fuller, he had a dark flush over his cheekbones and his nostrils flared as he breathed. She looked down at his jeans, leaned close and whispered, “Max, I’m done with practice. Why don’t we wander up to our bedroom and I’ll rub your…hand, too.”
He met her eyes. He stopped his massage. Except for the rise and fall of his chest, he was frozen in that pose of incipient passion.
Then he sat back and sighed. “Doctor says no.”
“Doctor said be careful.” 
“Woman, if I could be careful, I would. As it is, nothing is best.”
“I am torn between being flattered and frustrated.” She thought about it. “Mostly frustrated.”
“I’m just fine.” Max didn’t usually resort to sarcasm, so that told her a lot. Married almost two years and no sex. He was a good man, but he was coming to the end of his patience.
“If we’re refraining because we’re worried I’m going to pop a blood vessel while in the throes of passion, I’d like to point out there are solutions that you might enjoy.”
“That isn’t fair to you.”
“You’re massaging my hand. That’s pretty wonderful.”
“Not the same.” Again he took her tired hand and went to work.
Bitterly she said, “Kellen’s Brain. It’s like a bad sci-fi fantasy.”
He laughed. “It’s improving all the time.” When he had made her hand relax and Kellen relax with it, he said, “I’ve been thinking—the Di Luca family owns Isla Paraíso off the coast of Northern California. The family bought the island seventy years ago with the idea of placing a resort on the island, but now that doesn’t seem likely. Someone needs to go there, look things over, make decisions about its fate.”
Kellen nodded. “You want to go there? See what you think?”
“Actually, I thought we should all go there.”
He was still working her hand, but with a little too much forcefulness and concentration.
“Ouch,” she said softly.
He pulled away, horrified. “Did I hurt you?”
“Not at all. Except that you’re treating me like a child.”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re not telling me what’s really going on. Why do you want to go to this island?”
“I told you—”
“I don’t doubt that what you told me is the truth. But it’s not all the truth. Max, what’s wrong?”
Max sighed, an understatement of a sigh, as if he dreaded what he was about to say. “You’re not going to like it.”
“I gathered that.”
“Mitch Nyugen.”
“What about him? He’s dead.” She remembered she couldn’t always trust Kellen’s Brain. “Isn’t he?”
“Yes. He was buried in the Cape Charade cemetery.”
“Was buried?” Unease stirred in her belly.
“This week, his widow arrived from Wyoming.”
“He wasn’t married.” That brain thing. “Was he?”
“No.” Max was as sure as Kellen was not. “Yet the woman who claimed to be his widow had all the necessary paperwork to have his body exhumed.”
“Oh, no.”
“She had the coffin placed in the chapel. Last night, the undertaker, Arthur Earthman, found her there, with the coffin open. She murdered him, and almost killed his wife, Cynthia. The widow escaped ahead of the sheriff, and she left her calling card.”
Kellen knew. She knew what Max was going to say. “She cut off Mitch’s hands.”
“And took them.” Max looked up at her, his brown eyes wretched with fear. “Mara Philippi is back. And she’s here.”
***
Excerpt from Strangers She Knows by Christina Dodd. Copyright 2019 by Christina Dodd. Reproduced with permission from HQN Books. All rights reserved.


 Author Bio:
Christina Dodd
New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd writes "edge-of-the-seat suspense" (Iris Johansen) with "brilliantly etched characters, polished writing, and unexpected flashes of sharp humor that are pure Dodd" (ALA Booklist). Her fifty-eight books have been called "scary, sexy, and smartly written" by Booklist and, much to her mother's delight, Dodd was once a clue in the Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle.

Enter Christina's worlds and join her mailing list at:
christinadodd.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook!

 Book Blast Participants:

Book Blast Giveaway:
This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Christina Dodd and HQN Books. There will be one (1) winner. The winner will receive an Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on September 17, 2019 and runs through September 26, 2019. Void where prohibited.



Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

A Curio Killing (A Keepsake Cove Mystery) by Mary Ellen Hughes Blog Tour and Giveaway!


A Curio Killing (A Keepsake Cove Mystery) by Mary Ellen Hughes

 About A Curio Killing
Cozy Mystery 3rd in Series Setting - Maryland 
Midnight Ink (September 8, 2019)
Paperback: 264 pages
ISBN-10: 0738752266
ISBN-13: 978-0738752266
Digital ASIN: B07KMX5QY4
Callie finds treble in Keepsake Cove when her ex-boyfriend is framed for murder . . .
Callie Reed is looking forward to her first Keepsake Cove spring festival. But her excitement dims considerably when she learns that her ex-boyfriend, Hank, will be performing with one of the hired country-western bands. Callie vows to keep her distance, but that changes when the band's manager, Bobby Linville, is found dead, killed with the music box Hank bought at Callie's shop.
Hank is soon singing a sad tune in a detention center with Callie his only lifeline. Though thoroughly aware of his many faults, she knows violence and murder aren't in his blood. But that means one of her fellow Keepsake Cove residents must be hiding a dark secret—something Callie desperately needs to uncover.

About Mary Ellen Hughes

Mary Ellen Hughes is the bestselling author of the Pickled and Preserved Mysteries, the Craft Corner Mysteries, and the Maggie Olenski Mysteries, along with several short stories. The Keepsake Cove series begins with A Fatal Collection and continues with A VINTAGE DEATH and A CURIO KILLING.

Author Links
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MaryEllenHughesauthor 
  Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/mehughes13/ 
  Twitter – https://twitter.com/mehughesauthor 
  GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/402922.Mary_Ellen_Hughes

Purchase Links –
Amazon B&N Midnight Ink Mystery Love Company Booksellers BAM IndieBound


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September 6 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW
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September 7 – The Power of Words – REVIEW
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Good Morning, Bellingham By Marina Raydun Excerpt and Author Interview! @Author_MRaydun


Good Morning, Bellingham

By Marina Raydun
Genre: Literary Fiction

When Peta goes missing, a two-decade old secret threatens to rip at the seams and come out in the open. Relationships are tested as one dysfunctional family comes together in search of their daughter, sister, and wife. What they find instead will change each one of them forever.
About the Author 
Marina Raydun’s published works of fiction include a compilation of novellas One Year in Berlin/Foreign Bride, a suspense novel entitled Joe After Maya, and a two-part series, Effortless. Born in the former Soviet Union, Marina grew up in Brooklyn, NY. She holds a J.D. from New York Law School and a B.A. in history from Pace University. She is an avid music fan, a cat lover, and an enthusiastic learner of American Sign Language. Whenever she is not writing, Marina enjoys spending time with her family, catching up on Netflix, and baking.
Links:



Twitter & Instagram: @Author_MRaydun

Amazon:

Goodreads: 

Good Morning, Bellingham excerpt:

Peta’s Journal Entry
I want to fall asleep. Rather, to fall asleep and not wake up. Ever. I just want the wheel to stop turning. Correction— it should feel free to continue turning, but I want off it.
It’s ungrateful of me. I don’t need you to remind me of that, Dr. Burgos. I know all about second chances and how precious they are, and how my daughter needs me despite her full-time nanny. I know, I know. And yet, here I am at half past midnight, eyes open and on the monitor showing a grainy black and white image of Gwenny sleeping with her arms thrown up in the surrender position, wishing to just fall asleep and call it a day. Kind of permanently. Peter, I feel for but don’t dare look, is on the other side of the bed, curled up in the fetal position. I don’t need to look to know this. I’m half expecting to see him sucking his thumb if I actually turn in his direction. And I sit up and write this all down, instead. I’m beginning to resent you, Doc—you really could be helping me with this. Sometimes a crutch is necessary; I’d give it back when I’m good and ready, I promise. I’m fully aware of how happy I should be. I should at least be happier than I am, right? Something tragic happened, but, hey, look, something good is here, instead. Take it! Let’s make the best of it, no? I’m trying, I’ll tell you that much. I am trying. Some pharmaceutical magic would surely go a long way here, but I can’t be expected to beg. I’m just saying, my mind would be quieter, and a quiet mind is a mind I’d kill for at the moment.
It wasn’t easy bringing Gwenny into this world. Harry took a couple of enthusiastic fifteen-minute amorous nights, whereas Gwenny took almost three exhausting years. They’d become mechanical, our attempts. There was some light, some humor to it when it was just us trying to become three, but, after Harry, we no longer bothered to even look at each as we did it, there were no big productions made, no words (loving, dirty, or otherwise) uttered. Forget that, I’m not sure if we even knew why we kept going. There was a goal and we were set on accomplishing it like the professionals that we are. So, every other night, like clockwork, we each did the bare minimum we knew would get the other off before curling up on our respective sides, our backs barely touching to get our requisite six hours of sleep before having to wake up at 3:30am to make it to the studio on time and wake up the rest of Bellingham Bay. Once there, makeup would be stippled on and everyone would proceed to pretend to forget that we were the couple who’d buried their son not a year ago, not two years ago, and so on. Obviously, eventually the right sperm found the right egg and ta da— Gwenny. No, not Gwen! Never Gwen! Gwenny. This pink and translucent newborn lay in my shaking arms and all I could do was blink. She looked like Harry, but blonder. Something in my throat constricted and the rest became route. I think I’d stopped looking at Peter some time around then, too. But I can’t help but wonder—what if having to fight for something this hard means you weren’t meant to have it to begin with? When does determination become arrogance?

I’m so tired, Doctor. I am not making sense. I want to fall asleep. And not wake up. Ever. Do you have anything for that? Oh, that’s right—you’d rather not medicate and mask the symptoms because you would much rather heal. Well, good luck with that. If not medication, can you at least give me a distraction? Anything to make the wheel stop.
Author Interview
What do you find most challenging about the writing process, and how do you deal with it?
Time and focus are my two enemies. Being a special needs mom, I don’t have the luxury of much “me” time. The trick to using that precious downtime wisely is focus. Or so I’m told. It’s difficult to calm and quiet my brain on demand so I do my best to stick to routine. That’s probably the only way to do, I think, but it’s hard. All my projects take very well over a year. 
When and where do you do your writing?
I have a writing nook in the corner of my Ikea sectional. It’s cozy. I typically work best in early afternoons. Of course, now that I said it out loud, I must have certainly jinxed it. 
What have you learned about promoting your books?
That I absolutely suck at it. I’m a writer and that’s all I actually want to do with my time. I wish someone else could do the rest. I don’t hussle much and am terrible at branding myself. I listen to all the much needed advice by my marketing gurus but put in little leg work. In short, I have learned that I have much to do on this end. I shall improve.
What are you most proud of as a writer?
I’m most proud of sticking to my guns. I love that I can say that I only put out stories I know I would love to read myself. I am also proud of always pushing myself to explore the many corners of my genre.
If you could have dinner with any writer, living or dead, who would it be and what would you talk about?
Liane Moriarty and Gillian Flynn. I would love to pick their brains as to complexity of their characters and story arcs. 


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