Book Review: Butterfly Blood by Rebecca Carpenter

“Nature demands payment. And nature demands balance.”

With the events of Butterfly Bones barely behind her, Bethany Keatley has just begun to settle into her new life when mother nature rears her ugly head again.

Cured of her bone disease and still reeling from her father’s last act, Bethany is now living with her aunt Denise in Florida and trying to adjust to a “normal” life. But the secrets from her past are threatening to rise up and destroy her chance for a new life.

First Bethany discovers a dark truth about her father. And then her miraculous cure, provided by the butterfly DNA that now courses through her veins, may actually prove fatal. But is the danger in the cure, or in the doctors who seem far too invested in studying her further?

In a parallel story line, Jeremiah is also dealing with the events of that last night at the Keatley house. He is not only grieving Bethany, but with losing everything he knows about himself. And there’s also that dark monster in the corner of his mind that’s demanding to be set free.

Butterfly Blood (book 2 in the Metamorphosis series) is an intense, action and emotion packed follow up to a truly unique novel and I couldn’t out it down.

 

*I received a copy of Butterfly Blood from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

Butterfly Blood (Metamorphosis, Book 2) 

HER BLOOD. HER LOVE. HER FREEDOM.

“How many of my sins will have to be paid for in blood?”

Sixteen-year-old Bethany Keatley finally has the healthy body and looks she’s always desired. But the price she’s had to pay has left her traumatized.

The only thing making her battle on is the memory of that kiss with Jeremiah.

Now miles from him and living in Florida with an aunt she’s never met, shocking revelations about her parents are too much to bear. After collapsing from exhaustion and shock, Bethany wakes in a hospital bed awaiting test results—results that might lead to the discovery of her unusual butterfly blood.

But that’s the least of Bethany’s concerns when the doctor informs her she’s infected with a parasite and without immediate treatment she’ll die.

Too young to refuse and too weak to fight back, Bethany’s life once again hangs in the balance. Yet her scientific knowledge and suspicious nature lead her to unravel a horrifying web of lies.

Will nature intervene again, demanding another payment?

In this stunning sequel to the award-winning BUTTERFLY BONES, Rebecca Carpenter raises the stakes and offers up an intense and heartbreaking ride that will leave you shocked to the core.

Get Butterfly Blood from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

About Rebecca Carpenter

Rebecca Carpenter is a native of western Colorado. She is married with two grown children and has been blessed with five amazing grandchildren. She owns and directs a large childcare center where she shares her love for books. She also works as a part time freelance copy editor and interns as an assistant to the editor for a small press, helping others attain their writing dreams.

 

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Author Spotlight: Barbara Quinn

Name: Barbara Quinn

Author of: The Summer Springsteen’s Songs Saved Me (Lakewater Press)

Speed of Dark; Hard Head (Eternal Press)

36C; Slings and Arrows (DiskUs Publishing)

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?

I started writing early; at five or six years old. I remember my brother and I put plays on for my parents and the rest of the family. The first piece I wrote that was “produced” was for my Girl Scout Troop.

It was a “fractured fairy tale” in which Evil Red Riding Hood tormented the sensitive Big Wolf. It was a musical. I wrote the songs and directed too! Much polite parental applause made me feel wonderful.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

I’ve never stopped writing. For a number of years I practiced law which paid the bills. I drafted laws and briefs and contracts but even then in the mornings I’d carve out a little time to work on a short story. I also worked for a few local papers covering trials and writing a legal column for laymen.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?

The author Noel Hynd encouraged me to keep at my writing. He discovered a piece I had written in a writing area I used to manage and we became friends. I learned to write the parts I know from him and not worry about the rest, and to up the emotional impact of my story.

Do you exclusively write contemporary women’s fiction or have you written in other genres?

I’ve written in several genres: Fantasy, paranormal, romantic suspense, chick lit. I’m currently working on a steampunk novella. And a big women’s fiction that’s eating me alive.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?

It’s very hard for me to find time to write, but I do set aside time in the late afternoons to sit down and let out whatever it is that is pent up. I’m not working full-time any longer, but life and family do occupy a lot of time. As does procrastination.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?

A first draft usually takes me a year to complete, sometimes more. I can spend another year revising.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

I do a lot of research as I hate to be inaccurate. I recently spent hours learning about hot air balloons. And for my Springsteen book I spent hours poring over his lyrics and listening to songs to find the right match to what my main character, Sofia, was experiencing.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)?

I need quiet to write. And not much life chaos spinning in my brain to distract me. Once I start rolling, I lose track of time and place. I used to set an alarm when my son was in school so I’d remember to pick him up. I began using an alarm after I did once get lost in a writing fog and forget the time. I rushed to school to find him waiting alone outside his classroom. Never again!

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?

One of my books, Hard Head, has a scene set at the Palio in Siena, a fascinating horse race around the town square filled with intrigue and pageantry.. They bring in dirt to cover the square to make a track. I devoured every article I could about this ancient race. After publication, I visited Siena and enjoyed walking around the square. I didn’t see the Palio as it’s held only twice a year, but I did get to imagine it right there.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?

For me inspiration is an amorphous fog that’s always with me and I never know what’s going to pop out or when. At some point everything starts to gel.  I can’t control it but I have to sit down and trust the process  can happen.

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?

I read mostly fiction. I love anything by Anne Tyler, T Coraghessan Boyle, Christopher Moore.I also loved Enders Game by Orson Scott Card. My favorite books of late are the Elena Ferrante Neapolitan trilogy. What a consummate body of complex but entertaining fiction she’s written.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for?

I tend to name characters after people who have helped me out along the way. I do try to make those characters nice ones and not kill them off!

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life?

For sure! I often reach back in time to my own childhood and to the advice given by my parents and grandparents. The grandfather in Hard Head is a blending of my father and my grandfather. They were from Calabria and the Calabrese who are known for their stubborness and hard heads, literally and figuratively ,are called Testa Dura, which translates as hard head. The Summer Springstgeen’s Songs Saved Me is a tribute to the healing power of Bruce Springsteen’s music and I’ve always been a Bruce fan. My book 36C is a story of a gal who sells lingerie. I did that for a summer job once.  And Speed of Dark opens with a scene of kids pedaling their bikes behind a DDT truck that’s spreading it’s poisonous gas to kill mosquitos. Amazingly, the kids in the neighborhood, incuding me, used to do that.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

A Confederacy of Dunces. It’s the funniest novel. It’s received many awards,but I think it deserves more widespread acclaim.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

Nope. Don’t have one. I’m a picky guilt-free reader.

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

Haw! I have a Google alert set for my name in case it’s ever mentioned. But there are other Barbara Quinns out there so I get more of those than about me!

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

The dolphin! I see them quite a lot in Florida and at the Jersey shore. Recently I took a boat ride with a dog that knew where to find them and manatees. It was  fascinating and magical to see the interaction of these different caring and protective species.

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?

I wish I were more productive. I work very slowly.

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

Persist. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author?

Enjoy! It’s real.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?

For many years I published an online literary ezine called The Rose and Thorn. It was staffed by volunteer writers and we gave many, many, writers their start in fiction and poetry publication. I enjoyed that venture. Now, aspiring writers write to me asking for advice and I’m happy to help them along the path.

Interested in learning more about Barbara?

 

The Summer Springsteen’s Songs Saved Me 

Catching her husband with his face between the long, silky legs of another woman is the last thing Sofia expects–and on today of all days.

So, after scratching an expletive into his Porsche and setting the cheating bastard’s clothes on fire, she cranks up her beloved Bruce and flees, vowing never to look back.

Seeking solace in the peaceful beachside town of Bradley Beach, NJ, Sof is determined to divorce and start over. And, with the help of best friends, new acquaintances, a sexy neighbor, and the powerful songs of Springsteen, this may be the place where her wounds can heal. But, as if she hasn’t faced her share of life’s challenges, a final flurry of obstacles awaits.

In order to head courageously toward the future, Sofia must first let go of her past, find freedom, and mend her broken soul.

 

Get The Summer Springsteen’s Songs Saved Me from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

Speed of Dark

There are some people you never forget. In the summer of 1964, Luke D’Angelo falls for one of them–a mysterious girl named Celeste. Like Luke, Celeste is an outsider struggling to find her identity, but unlike Luke, Celeste has special powers that have the potential to destroy everything Luke and his friends believe in.

Luke and his mentally challenged sister become fast friends with this curious girl. Set in upstate New York, in a town that is home to a shrimp cocktail plant that belches a foul-smelling tomato and fish fog, this coming of age tale about a girl with a dream and the teens who want to help her fulfill it, is a balance between the comic and the profound. The story resonates with the message that inside each of us is a light that burns so bright no dark can extinguish it. But at what cost?

 

Get Speed of Dark on Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

 

Hard Head 

A mother and daughter discover some things can be more deadly than the Mafia…

Rosanna Sweeney defies her father’s deathbed order that she never go to Italy. She and her teenage daughter journey across Italy to the Calabrian town of her father’s birth. In their quest, they find romance, learn about one another, and uncover a past that links them to secret societies far worse than the Mafia. Can they survive their dark legacy?

 

Get Hard Head on Amazon or from Barnes and Noble

 

 

 

36C 

Tressa Connell dreams of finding the right fellow, of putting her graphics art degree to work, and of traveling to Venice. The reality is that she’s stuck in a dead-end job selling lingerie to rail-thin women who prowl the high-end Manhattan boutique where she works. Hounded by a helmet-haired boss, befriended by a troubled Latina makeup artist, and wooed by a Jewish cop, Tressa also has a giant grandfather clock strapped to her back, a bushel of eggs in her arms, and her mother cracking a Pampers whip over her head.

 

Get 36C from Amazon 

 

 

 

Slings and Arrows 

When massage therapist Ellen D’Este separates from her husband her life begins to unravel. In an attempt to reinvent herself, she encounters a female spiritualist and a handsome stranger who turn her world upside down. Can she find love, faith and meaning in life or will she be the unwitting pawn of a charlatan?

 

Get Slings and Arrows from Amazon

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Author Spotlight: R.L. Martinez

Name:  R. L. Martinez    

Author of: In the Blood; Beneath the Skin (Lakewater Press)

From: Oklahoma

 

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing? Yes, it was a story about a black horse that I also illustrated in this little white blank book my teacher gave me. I think I, or my mother, still have it around somewhere

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue professional writing? Umm.. not till pretty late. I never grew up wanting to be a writer. I guess around 2007 was when I really started to consider the possibility of selling my writing.

Do you exclusively write fantasy or have you written in other genres? I mainly write SFF, but I have also written literary fiction, contemporary romance, and poetry. I’ve also tried my hand at horror, but I’m not so adept at that.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance? It certainly is for me! I envy those people who have and maintain really strict writing schedules. I’m kind of all over the place, stealing bits of time here and there. If I’m really into a project, though, I will write an average of 2,000 to 2,500 words a day. It usually has to be done at night after my kids go to sleep or at work between massage clients.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions? I like to get my very first draft of a book done in a month. Revisions are a much longer process. After writing the first draft, I usually put the book away from 1-6 months (sometimes longer). I drag it out, read through it, and do a near-total rewrite. Then I print the book, do a line edit. After that is all entered in there, I do another revision before sending it to my beta readers (one of whom totally tears it to pieces). I get those suggestions back, enter them in then send it on to my editor.

Can you describe the preparation/research—if any—you do for each book? I’m one of those people who simply cannot do a ton of prep work for a novel. If I do (because I actually really like to do that) I get so wrapped up in the planning phase that I kill any enthusiasm for actually writing the book. I do research as I’m writing (which people say you shouldn’t do), because that keeps me from getting too bogged down in thinking about details.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)? Hmmm… no, I don’t think so. I’m pretty boring 😝

Have you ever done a pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? Or do you have a research destination bucket list? I haven’t, but my ultimate bucket-list destination, for a number of reasons, is the England/Ireland/Scotland/Wales.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects? I can actually. It usually starts with a rather off-the-wall idea that morphs into a totally different product when all is said and done. For instance, In the Blood started as a retelling of the fairytale “The Twelve Huntsmen”

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites? Well, I used to be much more into SFF but I find, the more I write it, the less I want to read it (shrugs). I’ve gotten more into nonfiction in recent years including memoirs. I also like historical and contemporary romance and steampunk.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find? I honestly don’t think I’m subtle or smart enough to do this well or consistently. But I think I tend to weave themes in there (like certain colors). I do it somewhat unconsciously. But I’ve never really had anyone mention it to me or in a review, so maybe it’s all in my own head ;P

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life? In a way. I think I write parts of myself that are hidden or dormant. Or, I write characters I WISH I was like.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated. The Forest of App by Gloria Rand Dank. Such a good book! Last I checked, though, it was out of print and not many people even know about it anymore. Which is really sad.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure. The Master by Kresley Cole. So hot! I’ve got a bit of a naughty girl in me 😉

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?: Maybe once a year or so. I’m rather uninterested in finding out about myself like that. And I mainly go on Goodreads/Amazon to check my reviews because I feel like I SHOULD be interested in that.

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

A unicorn or horse.

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with? Worldbuilding, for sure. I feel like I’m terrible at it. I get so wrapped up in creating my characters that physical settings and social structures often suffer.

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer? Stay humble and hopeful. There is ALWAYS someone out there who is more talented than you and someone who is less talented.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author? Don’t expect to find happiness in publication. Publication is a fickle mistress and today’s triumph and joy grows cold in the wake of future rejections or poor sales. Keep grounded in real life things and people. Find happiness in the craft itself, not the glory that can (possibly) come from it.

Where can people find more about you?

 

In the Blood (Witchbreed Book 1)

A snake. A lion. A return.
In a time when magic is feared, Lady Oriabel Dominax has no choice but to conceal her healing powers while she cares for her father’s struggling estate. One

touch of the Witch’s Tree shows her visions of witches hung and burned at the very hands of the people for whom she cares, the people who love her. But with the arrival of a new lord, a man hiding secrets of his own, falling in love might be one wrong move too many.

Incarcerated for an unspeakable crime, fearless warrior Lady Ottilde Dominax is plagued by mysterious dreams of her sister’s death. When a hooded figure offers her the chance of escape, although untrusting, she does not hesitate. Racing across nations to reach Oriabel, her journey is cut short by an encounter with a wedowyn, a formidable beast which she has no chance to overpower alone. Though it is not death that greets her, but something far worse.

Blackmail, betrayal, and murder are only the beginning as a darker magic is awakened. And someone has plans for the Dominax twins, plans more terrifying than anything they could ever imagine.

For fans of THE THRONE OF GLASS and QUEEN OF TEARLING, the WITCHBREED SERIES is an upmarket saga that is “creative and imaginative beyond belief” and has “everything a fantasy lover craves.” Not to be missed.

Get In the Blood right now on Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

Beneath the Skin (Witchbreed Book 2)

Abandoned, betrayed, and wanted for murder.

Lady Oriabel Dominax is a witch on the run. The deadly magic now awakened inside her is hungry, and it is all Oriabel can do to control it. With no choice but

to trust strangers as her guardians, she quickly discovers not everyone is who they say they are and the very magic she fears might be her only weapon to protect those she loves.

Since rescuing her sister from certain death, Lady Ottilde Dominax’s only goal is to keep Oriabel safe and alive. Not an easy task when both the enemy and their so-called allies are hunting them. Placing all her trust in the very man who held her prisoner, Ottilde must open her heart and mind to a future she could never have predicted, a future guided only by love and survival.

Life, death, and tragedy lie ahead as the Dominax twins set out on a perilous journey to safety. But knowing they are mere pawns in someone else’s game means fighting for family is all they have left.

For fans of Sarah J. Maas and Juliet Marillier, The WITCHBREED series is a “magical and spellbinding” epic tale of witches, warriors, and “a sisterly bond like none other.”

Get Beneath the Skin right now from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble 

 

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Author Spotlight: Sam Boush

Name: Sam Boush

Author of: All Systems Down (Lakewater Press)

From: Portland, OR

 

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?

The first “book” I ever wrote (as far as I can remember) was also the one that made me want to be a writer. Winnie-the-Pooh fanfic. Me, maybe five years old, making my mom transcribe my words onto six-or-seven sheets of paper. Then I drew horribly on it all and bawled my eyes out when the sheets came apart.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

That fanfic. That was definitely it.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?

Well, dozens of people. I actually think about this topic a lot because there are so many people who have helped me, and sometimes I feel like one of those concert-goers who launch themselves into a crowd. Body surfing, they call it. Except I’m surfing on the outstretched hands of all the people who have helped me.

If you’re looking for names, Tracy Daugherty from my college days at Oregon State University stands out pretty marvelously. He was the advisor for my honor’s college thesis which was a long-ass novel that must have been pretty painful to read. If you listen to the literary agents I submitted it to, you’d come away with that idea, anyway.

I was twenty-one when he pored over this never-to-be-published historical fiction monstrosity. Read the whole thing and marked it up at least a couple times. No one paid him anything to help me out. And this was on top of running the English department, teaching a full course load, raising his kids, trying to pound out his own writing. Man, when I look back at what he did I feel both grateful and, if I’m being honest, kinda terrible.

Do you exclusively write cyber thrillers or have you written in other genres?

Well… I exclusively write cyber thrillers in that All Systems Down and the next book in the series (working on it now, Lakewater Press, I SWEAR!) are both cyber thrillers. But I’m sure I’ll write more widely in the future. My guess is I’ll be sticking to thrillers, though. It’s a fun genre to write!

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?

I’ve got a pretty good situation since I sold my business and am currently focused on just a few things. My kids are a top priority, and I’m kinda Mr. Dad right now, cooking, cleaning, running the kids around and writing in there. If I run into trouble it’s probably from creative juices squeezed out, not really from time.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?

Are you sure this isn’t just a ploy from my publisher to find out how I’m doing on book 2? Well, I guess I’ll come clean. It takes me forever. FOREVER. I’m such a slow writer and researcher. Sometimes I go down a rabbit hole and spend an evening learning the intricacies of how a building collapses, watching videos on YouTube and reading engineering papers. I’m not even a wonk, but criminy, I can definitely be a dork.

So, first draft? A year. I dunno. Wayyyy to long. If you’re reading this and thinking that’s normal, it’s not. I don’t know why I’m so slow. And revisions? Gawd, I dunno there either. My publisher had multiple editors looking at my last book, cutting tens of thousands (TENS OF THOUSANDS!) of words, making the thing bleed, you know the drill. Took forever.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

No. I can’t. It’s a lot.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)?

I drink three cups of coffee. Then I write. I’m like a Hemmingway without the alcoholism or talent.

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?

I’ve got a buddy (I’m looking at you, Lee Corum) who implied he could get me on a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. I implied that I would kill anyone he needed me to kill to get onboard that baby. Still waiting for his hitlist.

 Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

A Shine that Defies the Dark

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

See above

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

Sure. Not too often, though.

As a writer, what animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

A bat. I stay inside all day. Being a writer isn’t glamorous.

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?

No, there are dozens of things. But most of all, probably focus. Sometimes I find things to fix around the house when I should be writing.

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

Write every day. I don’t do this, but it’s good advice.

Where can people find more about you?

 

All Systems Down 

24 hours.
That’s all it takes.
A new kind of war has begun.

Pak Han-Yong’s day is here. An elite hacker with Unit 101 of the North Korean military, he’s labored for years to launch Project Sonnimne: a series of deadly viruses set to cripple Imperialist infrastructure.

And with one tap of his keyboard, the rewards are immediate.

Brendan Chogan isn’t a hero. He’s an out-of-work parking enforcement officer and one-time collegiate boxer trying to support his wife and children. But now there’s a foreign enemy on the shore, a blackout that extends across America, and an unseen menace targeting him.

Brendan will do whatever it takes to keep his family safe.

In the wake of the cyber attacks, electrical grids fail, satellites crash to earth, and the destinies of nine strangers collide.

Strangers whose survival depends upon each other’s skills and courage.

For fans of Tom Clancy, ALL SYSTEMS DOWN is a riveting cyber war thriller which presents a threat so credible you’ll be questioning reality.

 

Get your copy:

From Amazon.com

From Barnes&Noble.com

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Author Spotlight: Susan Pape

 

 

Name: Susan Pape

Author of: (with Sue Featherstone) A Falling Friend; A Forsaken Friend

From: A village between Leeds and Ilkley in Yorkshire.

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?

I used to make up a lot of stories when I was a child, and I’d tell them to my mother and her friends (getting into trouble once as I claimed in one story to have been attacked by a whale).

I don’t remember writing anything down until I got to school – but once there, with a supply of paper and pencils, I was off. I think my first ever written-down story was about an otter, because I’d seen a picture of one in a nature book.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

From about the age of five. I remember telling my primary school teacher that I wanted to work for a newspaper. She didn’t think journalism was a ‘nice’ profession for a ‘nice’ girl (this was the 1950s) and didn’t offer any encouragement. She did, however, occasionally read out my stories in front of the class.

Do you exclusively write contemporary women’s fiction or have you written in other genres?

The first two books written with Sue (my co-author) were academic journalism text books. We had both completed degrees as mature students – and were both teaching journalism at different universities – when we saw the lack of good, practical books on journalism. The resulting books, Newspaper Journalism: A Practical Introduction, and Feature Writing: A Practical Introduction were both published by Sage of London and are still listed on university reading lists.

I also ghost wrote two cookery books which, if you knew me and my cooking skills, would make you laugh. But a publishing company approached me and asked me to do it – and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience (especially the lunches the chefs cooked for me).

 

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?

It’s so hard to write as much as I’d like because real life gets in the way. It’s a luxury if I can block off two or three days in a row to concentrate entirely on writing. But the phone rings, the washing has to be hung out, my husband wants to book a holiday and needs my opinion (which is lovely, but…) it’s my turn to buy and make tea, and a hundred and one other things …

When I’m not sitting at my desk writing, I’m generally thinking about what I need to write next. I make little notes when I’m away from the office, and have plot ideas when I’m out walking or swimming. Churning up and down the pool is a great way of thinking about where your characters are going next.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?

Our first novel, A Falling Friend, took eight years to write because Sue and I were working full time and had family commitments. The follow up, A Forsaken Friend took eight months because we’d both given up full time work, and family problems had eased a little. The final book in the Friends trilogy, A Forgiven Friend, should be finished by the summer because we both feel more confident about where it’s going, and what we’re doing. I have to admit, though, that the original first chapter of the third book took only a short while to write as I’d composed it in my head while out walking one day. Trouble is, I had deep reservations after I’d sent it to Sue for her approval. We both agreed it was not in the same style as the two earlier books – and would cause us problems further down the line. So I scrapped it.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

Preparation means coming up with ideas for characters and plots, which involves meeting with Sue (for coffee and/or lunch) to discuss our thoughts. We agree – or disagree – make copious notes, and go away to start writing. But you can bet that by the time we start sending each other our completed chapters, we’ve both gone off piste. It’s amazing how characters take over once you start writing, and how new plot lines develop as you go on.

Research is vitally important – especially if you’re writing about something you know little about. We might be writing fiction, but we don’t like ‘making it up’ completely especially if there are factual points to be made. I would hate to write about somewhere in Yorkshire – my home county – and get it wrong as there would be many dozens of people wanting to correct me. Both main characters in A Falling Friend and its follow-up, A Forsaken Friend, have travelled – but to places that both Sue and I have visited, so we know what we’re talking about.

Otherwise, our two novels feature academia and the media quite strongly. But that’s fairly straightforward for Sue and I because we’ve both worked in those environments, we know what goes on – and we’re happy to spill the beans!

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?

One of my plans is to visit Spelsbury Church in Oxfordshire. It’s where John Wilmot, the 2nd Earl of Rochester is buried. He’s probably the most controversial poet within the restored court of Charles II, and a total libertine. He features in both A Falling Friend and A Forsaken Friend, because he reminds one of the main characters, Teri Meyer, of her one-time lover, Declan – a philandering rake. He will be making another appearance in the final book in the Friends trilogy, which Sue and I are currently working on.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?

The inspiration for my part in A Falling Friend was tripping over a ‘Cleaner at Work’ sign, conveniently positioned just inside the door of the Ladies’ loo at the university where I worked. I tripped and cursed, but there was something about that sign, put in a position where it would cause maximum inconvenience, that summed up my life at the time: ridiculous things were trying to trip me up. I couldn’t get the phrase ‘conveniently positioned’ out of my head and wrote it down… and suddenly there was Teri Meyer rushing into the Ladies’ loo, tripping and cursing as life conspired against her.

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?

It’s difficult to pinpoint a specific genre as I have quite an eclectic taste in books. Of course, I enjoy intelligent women’s fiction but I also love well written novels – from the historic (Philippa Gregory and Hilary Mantel) to the contemporary (Joanna Cannon and Marina Lewycka); but I also enjoy books by Sebastian Faulks, Anthony Doerr and Fredrik Backman – to name but a few, as they say.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for?

Some of the situations in the books are exaggerated versions of real events. But I couldn’t possibly divulge further!

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life?

Oh yes… but Sue says I mustn’t tell! However, I have a mental image of each of ‘my’ characters and they invariably start with someone I know, someone who caught my attention in the street, or an actor, for instance. One of our current characters, Duck’s Arse (or Richard Walker) is actually the actor, Greg McHugh. He doesn’t know it yet, but when the Friend trilogy is turned into a TV miniseries (I wish!), lovely Mr McHugh will be asked to play D.A.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

Australian writer Kate Grenville’s fifth book, The Idea of Perfection. The story brings together a plain woman with a broken past, a desperately shy man, and a bridge damaged in recent floods. It’s written in such meticulous detail that the reader can feel the heat of the sun on his/her back as the bridge shifts and creaks beneath their feet

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

The first time I Googled myself I found I was a prominent member of the Law Society! I am now a chief financial officer at the San Antonio Express-News, and also something of a whizz with dressage horses. Clearly, I’m none of these important people!

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

A butterfly. I love their quiet gentleness.

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?

Marketing and promotion, which might sound strange coming from someone who has a background in journalism and public relations. But I find it difficult promoting myself, and thinking of good things to say about me and my writing. It’s not modesty – because I don’t think I’m particularly modest – it’s more a case of, will people believe what I’m telling them?

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

Stop talking about it and do it. Any number of people tell me they’ve got a book ‘inside them’ or they’ve always wanted to write, but don’t have time. My advice: get some paper and a pen, or sit at a computer – and start writing.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author?

Congratulations! Getting published is a huge achievement. Once that’s done, keep going – promote and push your book so that as many people read it as possible.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?

I ‘meet’ other aspiring and new authors mainly through Twitter and Facebook. I have also been mentoring a young writer who is writing an extraordinary memoir, and I encourage others by listening and making suggestions. But it’s only in exceptional circumstances that I’ll read someone’s manuscript. Let me see a chapter or two, by all means, but please don’t ask me to edit the whole thing.

Where can people find more about you?

 

Want more information on Susan’s books?:

A Falling Friend on Amazon

A Forsaken Friend on Amazon 

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Double Cover Reveal: A Falling Friend & A Forsaken Friend

 

 

A FALLING FRIEND
There are two sides to every friendship.
After spending her twenties sailing the globe, making love on fine white sand, and thinking only of today, Teri Meyer returns to Yorkshire – and back into the life of childhood friend Lee. Plus, there’s the new job, new man – or three – and the guaranteed lump sum of a bursary for her academic research piece on the way. Life is first-rate.
What could possibly go wrong?
Going out on a limb to get best friend Teri a job at the same university seemed like a great idea. But it doesn’t take long for Lee Harper to notice a pattern. Teri seems to attract trouble, or maybe she creates it, and Lee can see exactly where things are spiralling – downwards. But Teri’s not the sort to heed a warning, so Lee has no choice but to stand by and watch.
And besides, she has her own life to straighten out.
For fans of BRIDGET JONES, this ‘witty’ chick lit has been described as a ‘rollicking good read’ and is the first in the FRIENDS trilogy following the lives of two thirty-something women, who, despite their close friendship, don’t always see eye-to-eye.
Amazon US Amazon UK Barnes & Noble Goodreads

A FORSAKEN FRIEND
No-one said friendship was easy.
Things can’t get much worse for Teri Meyer. If losing her job at the university and the regular allowance from her dad’s factory isn’t bad enough, now her ex-best friend has gone and stolen her ex-husband! Well, to hell with them all. A few weeks in the countryside at her brother’s smallholding should do the trick – and the gorgeous and god-like neighbour might help.
But then there’s Declan, not to mention Duck’s Arse back in Yorkshire…
It’s not as if Lee Harper set out to fall in love with her best friend’s ex-husband. But, for once, her love life is looking up – except for all the elephants in the room, not to mention Mammy’s opinion on her dating a twice-divorced man. Perhaps things aren’t as rosy as she first thought. And now with one family crisis after another, Lee’s juggling more roles – and emotions – than she ever imagined.
Maybe sharing her life with a man wasn’t such a grand idea.
The FRIENDS trilogy continues in this heartwarming and hilarious hoot as two best friends navigate men, careers, family and rock bottom in this brilliant sequel to A FALLING FRIEND.
Amazon US    Amazon UK

 

About the Authors

Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape are both former newspaper journalists with extensive experience of working for national and regional papers and magazines, and in public relations.
More recently they have worked in higher education, teaching journalism – Sue at Sheffield Hallam and Susan at Leeds Trinity University.
The pair, who have been friends for 25 years, wrote two successful journalism text books together – Newspaper Journalism: A Practical Introduction and Feature Writing: A Practical Introduction (both published by Sage).
Their debut novel, A Falling Friend, published by Lakewater Press, has been followed by a second book, A Failing Friend, in their Friends trilogy.
Sue, who is married with two grown-up daughters, loves reading, writing and Nordic walking in the beautiful countryside near her Yorkshire home.
Susan is married and lives in a village near Leeds, and, when not writing, loves walking and cycling in the Yorkshire Dales. She is also a member of a local ukulele orchestra.
They blog about books at https://bookloversbooklist.com/
You can find both Sue and Susan on Twitter: @SueF_Writer and @wordfocus

 

Giveaway
One winner will receive an e-book of A FALLING FRIEND and an e-ARC of A FORSAKEN FRIEND as well as wine voucher!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Lakewater Press Holiday Blog Hop (Day 12): Susan Pape

 

For the holiday season, we at Lakewater Press thought it would be a good time to share who we are with a little holiday blog hop.

Between December 1 and the 24th we’ll share holiday interviews with our authors and the Lakewater Press staff. It’s an excellent opportunity for us to get to know each other a little better, and to give our readers a peek behind the scenes–or pages!

Perhaps you’ll even find a new blog to follow, or your next favorite book!

(Be sure to read all the way to the bottom for our holiday giveaway!!)

Today’s interviewee:

Name and LWP affiliation: Susan Pape, Author 

Your blog (url): www.bookloversbooklist.wordpress.com

Where do you live? I live on the site of an old lunatic asylum (yes, it really was called that) in Menston, between Ilkley and Leeds in West Yorkshire.

What are your chances of having snow on Christmas Day? It’s possible that Ilkley Moor (behind our house) could get a light dusting…but I don’t remember ever having ‘proper’ snow on Christmas Day in West Yorkshire.

Do you have any favorite holiday traditions? My favourite Christmasses were spent with some really good friends who lived in a converted station near Saddleworth Moor. We played games, took part in a pantomime written by the host, tried to look serious during The Queen’s broadcast, and sat down for lunch and all the trimmings – that lasted from about 1pm until 9pm. I also love being away at Christmas – Florence was a wonderful place to be, and then Cambodia/Vietnam more recently.

Egg nog: Yes or No? Ergh…no!

Are you an artistic gift wrapper or a basic “paper & tape” warrior?  Basic, I’m afraid. I’ve tried to do those classy, neatly tucked corners, but they fail me every time.

Do you have any special holiday memories that include books? Are there any specific titles you remember? Christmas seems to be a time of giving ‘joke’ or ‘improving’ books. The joke books go straight on to the shelf in the downstairs lavvy and the improving ones (Shakespearian Tragedies; London Architecture and Tony Benn’s Diaries) get put in the pile for the charity shop.

What is your earliest book-related memory? My parents were not great readers (other than Reader’s Digest) but they did have a shelf full of Graham Greene so I worked my way through those until I was old enough to get my own library card. Not entirely sure it was suitable reading for a child.

Do you write/work during the holidays? Newspapers don’t stop for the holidays so a skeleton staff was always needed to be available on Christmas Day – and throughout the holiday period. When I worked on newspapers, it was usually down to staff without kids to work over the holidays – and that was usually me. I didn’t mind too much as I could take time off in lieu when life returned to normal after the Xmas excesses.

Sue and I at an author talk we did recently

Can you share what you’re working on now? Book Three in the Friends trilogy that Sue Featherstone and I are writing together. So many ideas are bubbling right now  – and I can hardly believe this will be the end of the road for the two main characters, Teri and Lee.

What are your goals for 2018? To finish writing the third book in the Friends trilogy and then complete the murder mystery that Sue and I have already started. It takes us out of our comfort genre, so please, wish us luck.

 

The decorations in a Cambodian hotel

 

 

 

me and hubby at a masked Christmas dinner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lakewater Press Holiday Blog Hop (Day 11): Sue Featherstone

 

For the holiday season, we at Lakewater Press thought it would be a good time to share who we are with a little holiday blog hop.

Between December 1 and the 24th we’ll share holiday interviews with our authors and the Lakewater Press staff. It’s an excellent opportunity for us to get to know each other a little better, and to give our readers a peek behind the scenes–or pages!

Perhaps you’ll even find a new blog to follow, or your next favorite book!

(Be sure to read all the way to the bottom for our holiday giveaway!!)

 

Today’s interviewee:

Name and LWP affiliation: Sue Featherstone (author)  

Your blog (url): bookloversbooklist.com

Where do you live? I live in Wakefield, just a stone’s throw from Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the UK’s leading outdoor art gallery, and the award-winning Hepworth Gallery, which together with their sister galleries – Leeds Art Gallery and the Henry Moore Institute, both in Leeds – constitute the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle.

The Hepworth, which has been described as the museum everyone would want on their doorstep, is artistically inspiring but I prefer YSP.

Set in 500 acres of parkland, just a mile-and-a-bit up the road from me, it’s home to one of the largest outdoor collections of Henry Moore bronzes.

Frankly, some of them are a bit weird – but, unlike other outdoor art galleries, the park hosts a changing programme of exhibitions so there’s always something new to see. And, come spring, nothing beats a stroll through the beautiful bluebell woods.

Find out more at: http://www.ysculpture.co.uk

What are your chances of having snow on Christmas Day? Hopefully, slim to non-existent: other parts of the UK (Scotland, for instance) often get snow in December but, thankfully, it’s fairly rare in my part of Yorkshire. I understand the bookies have offered odds of 4/5 on a white Christmas but it’s not a bet I’m prepared to risk.

Do you have any favorite holiday traditions? Santa always used to leave a little note for my daughters thanking them for his mince pie and sherry. It was years before they recognised my handwriting…

Egg nog: Yes or No? Hmmm…egg nog is not very big in the UK although we do have an Irish cream liquer which is similar but not as virulently yellow. And tastes better too. It can be drunk neat at room temperature or some people like to add it to their coffee. I prefer it in a long tumbler, chilled with a couple of ice cubes.  Oooh, I think I wouldn’t mind a glass right now.

Are you an artistic gift wrapper or a basic “paper & tape” warrior?  Definitely a warrior rather than an artist. Prettily wrapped gifts are a joy to behold but, honestly, I just can’t be bothered. Life is too short to stuff a mushroom and it’s also too short to fiddle around with Christmas bows and ribbons.

My copy of Sad Cypress is a bit dog-eared now but still a favourite read

Do you have any special holiday memories that include books? Are there any specific titles you remember? Books are a very personal thing and, I think, a difficult gift to get right. One woman’s good read is someone else’s charity shop donation. Take Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, for instance, which I was given as a child. Please, take it: I still think it’s a huge shame Magwitch didn’t bop Pip on the head and spare us all the agony of his interminable wittering.

What is your earliest book-related memory? Well, my earliest memories of reading are at the breakfast table: corn, sugar, salt, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine…the contents of a packet of Corn Flakes. Otherwise I loved almost anything by Enid Blyton – wouldn’t you have liked to be a pupil at Malory Towers too? I also enjoyed Noel Streatfeild (Ballet Shoes, The Painted Garden), Jane Shaw (the Susan books) and Elinor Brent Dyer (the Chalet School series). As I got older I started to read some of the books on my dad’s bookshelves – Erle Stanley Gardner (Perry Mason), Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple) and Nevil Shute (The Chequer Board and A Town like Alice). My first Christie read was Sad Cypress, which I still regard as one of her best murder mysteries.

Do you write/work during the holidays? Yes – if the writing itch needs scratching, I scratch.

Can you share what you’re working on now? I was lucky enough to sell my first short story to People’s Friend, a UK fiction magazine, a few weeks ago. It will be published in their Christmas special – in 2018. I can’t wait.

The fiction editor was very encouraging and I’m hoping to write, and sell, more stories this year.  I’ve got a couple of ideas bubbling away right now.

And Susan and I are in the early stages of drafting the final instalment of our Friends trilogy. We’ve also started a murder mystery but I’m not completely happy with the way it’s going and a re-think is needed. (Must make sure I mention this to Susan before she reads it here!)

What are your goals for 2018? Professionally, I want to get the Friends trilogy wrapped up and then to knock the murder mystery into shape. I like the characters we’ve created – they have a lot of potential for development but I’m not sure we’re making the best use of them. So, there’s food for thought there. I also want to work on my short story writing and I’d like to do a bit of freelance journalism too. Personally, apart from planning a trip to Australia to visit my youngest daughter, a couple of camping holidays in France and a spa trip with my eldest daughter I’m open to suggestions. Any ideas?

The view across Lac Hourtin: we’ll be holidaying nearby this summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading “Lakewater Press Holiday Blog Hop (Day 11): Sue Featherstone”

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Lakewater Press Holiday Blog Hop (Day 10); Samantha Alban

 

For the holiday season, we at Lakewater Press thought it would be a good time to share who we are with a little holiday blog hop.

Between December 1 and the 24th we’ll share holiday interviews with our authors and the Lakewater Press staff. It’s an excellent opportunity for us to get to know each other a little better, and to give our readers a peek behind the scenes–or pages!

Perhaps you’ll even find a new blog to follow, or your next favorite book!

(Be sure to read all the way to the bottom for our holiday giveaway!!)

 

Today’s interviewee:

Name and LWP affiliation: Samantha Alban, Staff (Assistant Editor)  

Your blog (url):  www.scalban.wordpress.com

Where do you live? Sonoma County, California

What are your chances of having snow on Christmas Day? Most likely 0%, but who knows…this year has been full of weather surprises!

Do you have any favorite holiday traditions? I love setting up the train around my Christmas tree. Last year I even bought liquid smoke for it! I was heartbroken when it broke down and I spent days trying to troubleshoot and fix the problem. After the fourth (I think) day, I finally got it working! I was so excited, I totally forgot about the liquid smoke and didn’t even find the bottle until after I had taken it down for the year. So this year, it’s all about getting that train running WITH the liquid smoke 🙂

Eggnog: Yes or No? YES!!!! (but, I drink Coconut Milk “Egg” Nog).

Are you an artistic gift wrapper or a basic “paper & tape” warrior?  Nothing says a traditional

Christmas like brown wrapping with a simple red bow. I call it “simple chic.”

Do you have any special holiday memories that include books? Are there any specific titles you remember? I always try to give a book to someone every holiday season. I could spend hours in a bookstore and even though books are available for purchase online, I still love walking into a decorated bookstore during the holiday season. And spending the time in the store, looking through all the titles and trying to find the perfect one for someone else to love and enjoy is something that I’ve always done and still love to do.

What is your earliest book-related memory? I grew up surrounded by books. I devoured them as a child. I had my own bookshelf since I can remember and it’s always been stuffed with books. I LOVED all my series books, as a child. In elementary school, I had all My Babysitter’s Club, my Nancy Drew’s, my Sweet Valley High’s, and all of my Christopher Pike’s and later on, all my King’s and Rice and Twain and Dicken’s books all along the shelves squeezed in between all my classics. My most favorite thing to do, after dusting my room (my most hated chore), was to take them all off the shelf and reorganize them. I know, mucho nerdy.

Do you write/work during the holidays? I write all year round, so yeah, I usually squeeze in a bit of time on a holiday.

Can you share what you’re working on now? I’d love to. Right now I have mucho projects, but I’m really excited about this YA magical realism I’m working on called THE MIRROR WALKER. It’s about this girl with a special ability to travel through mirrors to other worlds. (Ed. note: Samantha writes as S.C. Alban)

What are your goals for 2018? Yikes, I’ve got so many! Let’s see…to publish Book 3 in The Strega Series (Death Before Dying), clean up my 2 YA novels for querying, find two amazing books I can suggest to the Lakewater Press list, tackle a new WIP I’ve been stewing on for a while, and snag agent representation (hey, dream big or go home, right?)

 

Continue reading “Lakewater Press Holiday Blog Hop (Day 10); Samantha Alban”

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