Archive for the ‘Incredible Indies’ Category

Interview & Giveaway with Jessica Crawford Vernold

 

I am thrilled that the Words at Home featured Indie Author for May is Jessica Crawford Vernold, author of The Keeper. I reviewed The Keeper last week and just loved it.

Being completely awesome Jessica has offered to give 2 ebooks away. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post or my review of The Keeper to be entered (or leave a comment on both for 2 chances to win!).

Bonnie: Jessica thank you so much for taking the time to stop by Words at Home and chat! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself to start with? Who is the girl behind the pen (or computer)?

Jessica: I am a wife and mother of four and a former elementary teacher. I have a passion for stories and am a bibliophile.

Bonnie: Speaking of behind the pen, what do you write on? Are you an old fashioned pen and paper kind of girl or are you electronic all the way?

Jessica: I am a fan of efficiency so I use my laptop and, of course, I back everything up. I can’t imagine what it used to be like for writers before modern technology.

Bonnie: As a mother of 4 when do you find the time to write? Do you have a favourite place to write in?

Jessica: I am a night owl and am most inspired at night. That is also when my house is quiet and I have the most time. I like to write in bed on my laptop.

Bonnie: Can you talk a little about your writing process?

Jessica: Well, admittedly I think I suffer from ADD so I can’t proclaim to be organized. I don’t really plan anything out but instead like to start with an idea and see where it takes me. My writing tends to be character driven so I get to know my characters in my head first. This does make for a lot more editing, though and sometimes I have to completely back track and omit and entire portion and start over.

Bonnie: As a self-published author do you have any advice for other aspiring authors? Would you have done anything differently knowing what you know now about self-publishing?

Jessica:  My best advice is to believe in yourself, be thick skinned and never give up. Trying to obtain an agent which is the first step in getting published is very difficult and feels down right impossible. It still has not happened for me and many like me. Being open minded to alternatives like self publishing is important. There are draw backs with that process and it may not be your first choice but you ultimately have to decide what is most important to you and take the initiative yourself. I will likely be self publishing the sequel to The Keeper as well as a third. That does not mean that I have given up sending query letters.

Bonnie: Ok, so let’s talk about your book!  Where did your inspiration for The Keeper come from?

Jessica: I love a great ghost story, angels and a good romance. So combining those elements was the goal. My husband said it should be spooky and I wanted it to be romantic. My daughter was the inspiration for the main character.

Bonnie: And what about Zeke? Because he is definitely swoon-worthy! How did you come up with this perfect character?

Jessica:  I love angels and I always have. Even though it is fun to read about dangerous monsters  turned romantic hero, I wanted a classic romantic hero that also had a supernatural element. He is powerful yet fundamentally good.

Bonnie: One thing that I really appreciated about The Keeper was that Zeke wasn’t afraid to tell Kaylee when he believed she was being mistreated. Can you talk a bit about your decision to include this dialogue that so many authors choose to ignore? Do you have any thoughts as to why it is trendy for male characters to exhibit controlling and stalkerish tendencies?

Jessica:  Zeke is an arch angel so he has to be good to the core. Aside from that he is her acting guardian angel. That was the drive behind it. I felt this was how a guardian angel would handle the situation. It was one more way to solidify his true intent and character. The reason I think there is a trend that seems to place the female protagonist in controlling relationships with controlling male leads is that it provides that element of danger. I enjoy reading those types of stories too. It’s that classic bad boy appeal. But I just was not going that direction with Zeke. Azza is another story and there will be more of him in the sequel  as per my daughter’s request.

Bonnie: So what’s next? I’m not quite ready to leave Kaylee and Zeke yet – can we expect a sequel?

Jessica:  The sequel is in it’s final stages and will likely be out in the fall. The working title is The Sender.

Learn more about Jessica and The Keeper at readthekeeper.com

Don't forget to leave Jessica some love in the comments! :D

 

The Keeper by Jessica Crawford Vernold

 

Published: Nov 9, 2011
Publisher: CreateSpace
Source: Review copy from author
Find the author: Goodreads || Website || Twitter: @jessicavernold
Buy: Amazon || B&N || Smashwords

~ The Blurb ~
From Goodreads

The Keeper is young adult paranormal romance set in old Rye Wilderness in Manatee County Florida.

Sixteen year old Kaylee Carmichael has had a rough year with the loss of her best friend in a horrible accident. Things don’t get any easier when her family relocates to southern Florida on an old plantation. She doesn’t make friends easily but she doesn’t need them; she has her horses, her family and her memories of Cassie. But when strange things start happening in the house and on the land and everyone (herself included) thinks she’s losing her mind, a friend may be exactly what she needs. That’s what she finds in Zeke.

Zeke is golden and beautiful and everything Kaylee isn’t yet somehow he seems to be sent just for her; maybe even heaven sent.

As the two delve into the mysteries of the plantation and explore the paranormal, Kaylee can’t help falling for him, but Zeke is hiding a dark secret that could change everything. And things only get more complicated when another strange boy comes into the picture and takes a special interest in Kaylee.

What does he seem to know about her that she doesn’t?

One thing is clear, something evil is awry and Kaylee finds herself right in the middle of it. Even so, all she can think of is how she feels about Zeke. Could a boy so perfect love her back?

She doesn’t think so and she has no plans of finding out. When Zeke finally finds out the truth how will he react and how will he tell her what he’s been hiding?

Most importantly, can the two get to the bottom of the evil that has taken hold of the plantation and protect Kaylee and her family from danger or will this love story have a tragic ending?

~ My Thoughts ~

I feel like I’m on a bit of an angel kick these days, and I really enjoyed The Keeper by Jessica Crawford Vernold. She has written a story that not only captured and held my attention from the very beginning, but she also created characters that I genuinely cared about, and every time I stepped away from this book I missed them a little bit! The Keeper was emotionally stirring, exciting and contained just enough mystery and action to keep me glued to the pages.

The Keeper really begins when Kaylee and her family relocate to southern Florida in what she believes to be a move to help her come out of the depression that has settled over her following the death of her best friend Cassie. I instantly liked Kaylee, she was damaged but not whiney and she had a toughness to her that I really appreciated. While she was continually punishing herself for the accident that killed Cassie, her emotional turmoil was presented in an authentic way and I believe anyone in her position would have struggled with the same feelings.

It is no secret that I am not a fan of the dreaded insta-love and even though there was a healthy dose of insta-love happening between Kaylee and Zeke for some reason it really worked for them and I kind of liked it in the case of The Keeper. Zeke is pretty much the perfect male YA character. He is genuinely good. He is sweet and caring and it shocked me to see that Zeke was perhaps one of the few YA characters I can think of who actually called someone out for treating our heroine badly. I’m at a point where I’m getting a little tired of the bad-boy treating a girl like crap = swoon-worth behavior thing that seems to be going on in YA romance, so Zeke was an absolutely welcome change for me! So Zeke’s inherent goodness overshadowed any doubts that I had about how quickly he and Kaylee fell in love with each other. They convinced me, and that can sometimes be hard to do.

My only real complaint about The Keeper is that there were a few instances where things tied up too neatly and details were inserted at very convenient times with little to no build up or explanation. For example in the last quarter of the book when confronted Kaylee wonders to herself if her Tae Kwon Do training would help her in this situation. I was like “What? Tae Kwon Do – since when”? These minor annoyances didn’t really impact my experience with this book and I still quite enjoyed the ride that Vernold took me on.

The Keeper by Jessica Crawford Vernold is a YA “angel book” with a bit of an edge. It will play on your emotions and keep you coming back for more! Kaylee is an easily relatable character and Zeke is definitely a swoon-worthy love interest! Despite the requisite insta-love there is something going on in the romance department that really works for this novel. I definitely recommend The Keeper to fans of YA angel stories, and a good YA love story!

I received an e-book of The Keeper from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Featured Indie Author Suzan Battah: What’s Next?

 

As you may know, I have been featuring indie author Suzan Battah for the month of April. I started the month off by reviewing her novel Mad About the Boy and I think it is only fitting that I end the month off letting you know what else she has going on. And I don't know about you but I'm kind of diggin' that cover, no?

BaSatai: Outside In # 1

Seventeen year old, Armani Radnelaq a full blooded BaSatai is plagued by a curse in her blood. A curse created from hate and designed to break the divide between two parallel worlds of Earth and H-trae when Armani's blood is spilled in attack and she dies.

S'teuqoubs have been travelling back and forth across the divide for centuries without trouble. The BaSatai and Guardians monitoring activity and enforcing rules to ensure peace and harmony but if the divide splits and opens, a much greater number of supernatural S’teuqoubs will filter into earth destroying equilibrium which the BaSatai and Guardians will be unable to control. Humanity and the BaSatai will suffer and perish. The parallel divide must remain secure at all costs.

Armani has remained hidden on earth with her adopted father Elijah since her birth. She has been raised in the human way and fights her natural instinct to evolve into a BaSatai. The BaSatai in her requires her to evolve and shift, use her powers and strength. Yet Armani is freaked out by the need to shift. She smokes, has a bad attitude, must deal with aggressive bullies and control her natural BaSatai instinct. Her Guardian with BaSatai Warriors are coming for her. She refuses to accept her fate and doesn't believe any BaSatai should die to protect her.

The blood curse maturing in her veins makes her a target for her enemies. Her Guardian Karhl and an elite BasSatai Warrior Rafael are the first to arrive and prepare her for her crossing over. Her attraction to Rafael complicates her purpose to stay on earth even more. They both insist she fall into line and follow their lead but she is not ready to leave earth just yet…

 

Interview with Suzan Battah

 

     

Suzan Battah, author of Mad About the Boy was kind enough to stop by today and chat a little more about her life as a self-published author. Suzan, first of all thank you so much for taking the time to stop by Words at Home! It is a pleasure to host you for the month as our featured Indie Author.

  1. Could you start off by telling us a few things about yourself that we might not think to ask?

Thank you for having me Bonnie. Well my greatest fear is heights, sometimes walking up or down steep stairs scares me. I'm born in Australia and have a very eclectic taste in music in which I can listen to most types of music and still love it. I'm also a big animal fan and currently studying script writing.

  1. Who is your favourite author or your favourite book?

I have so many favorite authors, it's so hard to pick one because they all right in different genres. MY favorite Historical Regency author is Stephanie Laurens, my favorite Contemporary Author is Sophie Kinsella and my favorite Young Adult author is a equal place Stephanie Meyer and Richelle Mead.

  1. Do you prefer to read series or standalone novels?

Either but if it comes down to wanting to know more about the characters in one book a series is fantastic. Love both either way.

  1. When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? And what was the first piece of fiction that you remember writing.

I was 12 when I started writing for fun, fantasy stories but by the time I was 16 I knew I was going to pursue it as a professional career.

  1. Can you talk a bit about your decision to self-publish and your experiences during the publishing process?

It's been scary but very rewarding. I love being in control of every aspect of creating my novel. The stigma behind self-publishing is still ripe with a lot of people really not interested in learning about new writers that self-publish. Unfortunately there are a lot of bad writers out there but there is honestly a lot of great writers out there who wouldn't be getting their voice heard if they didn't self-publish. I am a writer and at 30 wanted to publish and waiting years to break into the industry. I also have to support myself so it makes it very difficult to be able to afford really great editors, I've spent a phenomenal amount of money on professionals and sometimes I think it is hit and miss. I however take this into account when reading other self-published books being in the same situation I have compassion for writers doing it tough, especially marketing. I do everything and the cost is extraordinary. I however don't regret going this way it has helped to improve my business skills.

  1. Do you have any advice for aspiring indie authors?

Follow your dreams, practice heaps, don’t take criticism to heart, listen to good advice, learn your craft, read lots and lots of books out there, don’t follow trends, write what makes you feel comfortable (if you don’t feel comfortable writing sex, it’ll show), love what you do, never give up, have fun, laugh lots, find positive fun people to share with and write, write, write and keep writing.

  1. What do you do when you are not writing?

I work fulltime as an Executive Assistant. In my downtime I love to be working out at the gym, studying script writing, going to movies and absolutely love to dance.

  1. Is there anything else that you wanted to share?

I love being a writer and hope you enjoy reading Mad About the Boy as much as I loved writing it. I also have a new release coming out April 14th BaSatai: Outside In #1 A Young Adult Urban Fantasy Adventure Romance.

 

Guest Post with Suzan Battah: My Experience as a Self-Published Author

 

Suzan Battah is the April featured Indie author and today she is sharing her experiences with self publishing! Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences with self publishing in the comments!

My Experience as a Self-Published Author

 by Suzan Battah

Nathan Bransford recently wrote a post about how there is not a right or wrong way to publish a book. I am in absolute agreement. Whether being traditionally published or self-published, a book in print or as an ebook is published. It's just two very different roads to walk down.

For me I've always had a passion for writing since my early teens. I knew I wanted to be a writer. It's not like I saw the success of Amanda Hocking self-publishing, JK Rowling with her Harry Potter series, Stephanie Meyer's success of Twilight and decided that's it, I'm going to be huge like them. No. For me I was born to be a writer because my imagination is wild, I can daydream amazing scenes and visualise a story from beginning to end. Writing is not hard work for me. I am blessed with the ability to create and develop characters, a storyline and plot and make them entertaining. So for me writing is in my blood, I was born to write these stories and share them.

I struggled, as life is not easy as a writer. I had to work to pay the bills and as a single woman supporting myself it was hard to keep up. Writing is a fulltime job and I was doing it hard trying to write part time. Exhausted with no social life, it was hard to see myself continuing on the road but I do. I won't every give up on writing. Once the first book completed, Mad About the Boy, I began entering into competitions and you must have a thick skin. I was shredded, gunned down, ripped apart with some comments being so snarky I was almost in tears. However, out of two competitions I had made it to the finals and managed to place and win two awards for my contemporary romance Mad About the Boy. So putting behind all the worst of the competitions I had experienced, I soldiered on. I went through 3 different editors doing complete edits of the novel and spent over $2500 just on editors to get my novel into top shape. Unfortunately, I still get feedback that the editing is sloppy but I have to move forward and correct the mistakes. I have met some wonderful reviewers who have been terribly helpful. One lady offered to be my Beta Reader and I'm so glad that she has offered her help. She points out all the obvious flaws and gives me advice. Despite some of the obvious flaws in the book this particular reviewer still gave me such a lovely review and a wonderful rating. I was over the moon. In saying that, I never expect reviewers to give me fantastic ratings, everyone has their own opinion of my work. Some love it, some hate it and they have their own personal tastes. As an author I don't mind getting a bad review which I have received and loved it as well, I expect the good with the bad. I just hope readers enjoy the book enough to overlook some of the tiny flaws that a struggling author has to deal with.

After years of writing, changing the story to suit agents and almost being offered representation, being ripped apart in competitions by my peers (One judge told me English was not my first language. Another judge advised me that an editor should work on Mad About the Boy because the grammar was atrocious. The same judge even gave me a name of an editor to use the services of, ironically, I had just had the manuscript line edited and paid thousands of dollars to get it done by that same editor before entering the competition), and finally it was the backing of my family and friends that walked me down the self-publishing road. I'm glad I took my writing career into my own hands. I'm really happy with the reviews I get both good and bad. And I'm so appreciated that bloggers like Bonnie welcome me onto her blog to share with you, the readers, my experience. I hope you enjoy reading Mad About the Boy as much as I loved writing it. I also have a new release out, BaSatai: Outside In #1 the booktrailer is available for viewing on youtube.

 

Find out more aobut Suzan Battah:
www.suzanbattah.com
@suzanbattah
www.facebook.com/suzan.battah
Facebook Fan Page Suzan Battah
www.goodreads.com/suzanbattah 

Keep the discussion going – do you have any experience with self publishing? Lets talk about it in the comments!

 

Mad About the Boy by Suzan Battah

 

Published: September 7, 2011
Publisher: Self Published via Smashwords
Source: Review copy from author
Find the author: Goodreads || Website || Twitter: @suzanbattah
Buy: Amazon || Smashwords || B&N

~ The Blurb ~
From Goodreads

Julia Mendoza is driven by the success of her business. Since her husband Carlos passed away at such a young age, her business By Design is her number one priority. In her late twenties she works too hard and doesn’t take time out for fun. Annoyance with a pesky ex-friend has her begging one of the local surfer’s with a cheeky smile in the grocery store to pretend he’s her boyfriend. Suddenly, life takes a sudden detour from her business plan; much to the delight of her boisterous Latin American family.

Christophe Augustine is groomed to take over his father’s successful chain of luxurious hotels. With a wealthy French-American background, Chris has been given privileges that not many have. He works hard, plays harder but seeks approval and recognition above all else. Family is a top priority for him as he fights for custody of his young brother. His parent’s divorce has not diminished his faith in romance. When a gorgeous Latino woman changes one boring morning into an interesting game of role play, though reluctant to help at first, he soon realises she’s not like the string of other women he’s known.

A romantic first date ending dramatically doesn’t stop Chris from wanting to know Julia more. And for Julia, she’s all for a bit of fun but when things get too serious she’s running the other way. Too alike, in some ways and complete opposites, in others ways, Julia and Chris fumble through fun moments, annoying confrontations, passionate times and heartbreaking revelations.
Love has no boundaries when soul-mates meet but when one is ready to love and the other one isn’t…

~ My Thoughts ~

Mad About the Boy is a surprisingly substantial contemporary romance following the complicated, romantic and sometimes heartbreaking romance of Julia, a self-made business woman and young widow, and Chris, a perpetual bachelor, surfer and heir to a successful chain of hotels.

What I loved: The characters. Julia and Chris are the perfect contemporary romance couple. Julia was a really complicated character and at different times thorough out the novel I was rooting for her, angry with her ridiculous behavior, and just feeling for her in general. She had a lot going on in her life and more than her fair share of emotionally draining and difficult situations. As a young widow she was left emotionally scarred and truly believed that she would never be able to love again. Chris on the other hand was rich, famous and seemingly carefree. At first glance this beach loving ladies’ man appeared to have as much depth as a pizza box but he really surprised me and I ended up falling for him completely! I loved the fact that love did not come easily to this couple. They had very real struggles and challenges and Battah was able to write about these characters in a way that made me not only care for them but ache for them as well. Julia and Chris were surprisingly complex, authentic and human.

When I started reading Mad About the Boy I was expecting a light fluffy love story but there was so much more than that going on in this novel. It was actually a lot more serious and emotional than I expected. Just wait for some of the curveballs that Battah added in to completely turn this story on its head! I won’t give you any spoilers but I can tell you that they definitely keep the story interesting and you will not seem them coming!

What I didn’t love: The editing, it felt sloppy. I am not one to comment on editing, punctuation or word choice but in this case I need to say something. See, I really loved the story, and characters, and the author actually made me feel something when I was reading. Mad About the Boy had the potential to be a really GREAT book for me, but sloppy editing diminished that. There were a lot of sentences that had the wrong words inserted, and awkward phrasing. I truly believe that with a thorough and professional edit Mad About the Boy could be a 5 star read for me and that is why I’m being so critical. It frustrates me when I story line and characters that I love fall flat.

At times it felt as though there was not enough follow through with ideas. It was as if the author knew exactly what she wanted to happen to her characters but didn’t fully explain or realize her ideas. One thing that really bothers me is laundry listing a scene, or telling rather than showing what is going on. There was a lot of this going on in Mad About the Boy. For example about half way through the novel Julia was in need of a mini vacation from her life and got away for a few days to the islands. There was the buildup of her trip, talk of her getting on the plane, landing on the island and then a paragraph break and BAM! I’m reading about how she finally got home. WHAT? Finally got home, as far as I was aware she barely left. Either follow through on the idea or leave it out – I was left completely annoyed after that particular passage and would have found it more satisfying to read something as simple as “after a weekend away Julia felt…” Again I think this all comes down to the editing as the author had everything needed to make this a fantastic romance.

Mad About the Boy was a tricky book for me. I wanted to love it and give it a 5 (or at least 4) star rating because I fell in love with the characters and their many levels, and loved the different layers to the story but the editing (or lack thereof) took away from that special something that I originally saw and left me sort of disappointed. Battah has created a phenomenal plot line but in my opinion it just wasn’t fully realized. That being said I will definitely be reading more from Suzan Battah, I can assure you that this is an author with a story to tell.  

I am indecisive about my rating so I'm giving this book two:

For the finished product (including editing)

For the story (because I truly loved the story and characters)

I received an e-review copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

 

Incredible Indies Recap – Dianne Greco

 

I have had the pleasure of hosting Dianne Greco for the month. In case you missed any of what has been going on around here here is a little recap:

Review of In the Hands of Grace (review from July 13, 2011)

Review of In the Heart of Grace

Interview with Dianne (and in the haze of sleeplessness I pulled a stellar move and actually posted this on 2 separate occasions. Yep. Wow… )

Guest Post with Dianne

Dianne is currently working on third book in the Grace series, In the Home of Grace. She is in the process of writing it now, and hopes for it to be on the publishing schedule for 2013.

AND if you are going to be in New York in July you can check out her publisher's (TWCS) table at the New York Indie Book Event

Time: 8h00 – 19h00 July 15, 2012
Location: The New Yorker Hotel 481 Eighth Avenue New York, NY, 10001
Admission: $5

 

Interview with Author Dianne Greco

 

Dianne first off I want to welcome you to Words at Home and thank you for taking the time to chat with us! I am so excited to be featuring you for the month of March as our Incredible Indie author!

     

In the Heart of Grace is book two in this heartwarming series. Can you tell us a bit about what inspired you to write this series?

In the past, I have enjoyed authors like Jan Karon, Dorothy Gilman and Nancy Atherton. I liked the fact that I came away from each of their books feeling good. Not sad, not assaulted or insulted, just plain good. I started writing down the little quips and quotes from those authors that hit home for me, and decided to try my hand at creating a story that would encompass some of the wisdom I had learned from these wonderful writers. I liked the idea of giving hope of better days coming, and I hope I have accomplished a little of that with my books.

Tell us a bit about your writing process. How long did it take your to write In the Heart of Grace?

My writing process has come a long way in the years I’ve been writing. When I first started writing In the Hands of Grace, I was a Columbo type; lots of pieces of paper and things written down all over the place. It probably took me longer at the end of the day to get some semblance of order to those scraps than I actually spent writing, so that book probably took about seven years to write. Mind you, I had a small child, a job, house and animals thrown into the mix so it wasn’t a priority, and I fit in writing where I could.  With my second book, In the Heart of Grace, I learned to become more organized and actually used a small notebook to jot things down, so at least my thoughts were in one place. Getting more organized helped me to finish the second book in about a year.

Grace is an amazing character and someone I would be lucky to know in real life. Where did this character come from? Is she based on someone you know?

The character of Grace was inspired (and still is!) by a dear friend named Tina. She just celebrated her 90th birthday in June of last year. Tina has a very gentle take on life. She is from the south and has a way of soothing my soul. I am always impressed with how she can help you to see the truth in a matter, without ever making you feel anything but comforted. She is an amazing woman who still cleans her gutters, tends to her gardens and lives independently. She also walks miles every day, plays bridge 5 out of 7 nights, and still finds time to entertain her large group of friends and family. She still cooks and bakes like no one I know, and as I have said in the acknowledgements, I want to be just like her when I grow up.

What do you do when you are not writing?

When I’m not writing, I work full time at our local library as an administrative assistant in the business office. I love my job and am fortunate enough to work in one of the most beautiful libraries on Long Island with some really great people.

Can you tell us 5 random facts about yourself?

I am an avid gardener and love to get lost outside for hours on end on the weekends. I love to kayak everywhere I can, and living on Long Island gives me lots of opportunities for that. I enjoy hiking with my Sheltie, Skye, and hanging with my husband and son. Okay, that’s four, so number five would be that I refuse to eat liver and brussel sprouts.

What are you working on now? What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?

I am presently working on the last in the Grace series, In the Home of Grace. This one will take a little while due to some rather sudden family obligations, but I am hopeful to get it done and possibly published sometime in 2013. My publisher, TWCS, is being very kind and patient with me, so I really want to do my best to get it done as soon as possible.

Is there anything else that you wanted to tell the readers of Hands and Home?

My wish is that everyone who reads my books comes away with a sense of hope  that we really can have better days. If we just do our best to keep our hearts and minds open to receiving all the wonderful things life has to offer, they will come. It may not be today, tomorrow, or even next month, but when we are ready, they will come.

 

Thank you so much for stopping by Dianne! It was a pleasure to ‘chat’ with you.

 

Incredible Indies: Interview with Dianne Greco

 

Dianne first off I want to welcome you to Words at Home and thank you for taking the time to chat with us! I am so excited to be featuring you for the month of March as our Incredible Indie author!

1. In the Heart of Grace is book two in this heartwarming series. Can you tell us a bit about what inspired you to write this series?

In the past, I have enjoyed authors like Jan Karon, Dorothy Gilman and Nancy Atherton. I liked the fact that I came away from each of their books feeling good. Not sad, not assaulted or insulted, just plain good. I started writing down the little quips and quotes from those authors that hit home for me, and decided to try my hand at creating a story that would encompass some of the wisdom I had learned from these wonderful writers. I liked the idea of giving hope of better days coming, and I hope I have accomplished a little of that with my books.

2. Tell us a bit about your writing process. How long did it take your to write In the Heart of Grace?

My writing process has come a long way in the years I’ve been writing. When I first started writing In the Hands of Grace, I was a Columbo type; lots of pieces of paper and things written down all over the place. It probably took me longer at the end of the day to get some semblance of order to those scraps than I actually spent writing, so that book probably took about seven years to write. Mind you, I had a small child, a job, house and animals thrown into the mix so it wasn’t a priority, and I fit in writing where I could.  With my second book, In the Heart of Grace, I learned to become more organized and actually used a small notebook to jot things down, so at least my thoughts were in one place. Getting more organized helped me to finish the second book in about a year.

3. Grace is an amazing character and someone I would be lucky to know in real life. Where did this character come from? Is she based on someone you know?

 The character of Grace was inspired (and still is!) by a dear friend named Tina. She just celebrated her 90th birthday in June of last year. Tina has a very gentle take on life. She is from the south and has a way of soothing my soul. I am always impressed with how she can help you to see the truth in a matter, without ever making you feel anything but comforted. She is an amazing woman who still cleans her gutters, tends to her gardens and lives independently. She also walks miles every day, plays bridge 5 out of 7 nights, and still finds time to entertain her large group of friends and family. She still cooks and bakes like no one I know, and as I have said in the acknowledgements, I want to be just like her when I grow up.

 4. What do you do when you are not writing? 

When I’m not writing, I work full time at our local library as an administrative assistant in the business office. I love my job and am fortunate enough to work in one of the most beautiful libraries on Long Island with some really great people.

5. Can you tell us 5 random facts about yourself?

I am an avid gardener and love to get lost outside for hours on end on the weekends. I love to kayak everywhere I can, and living on Long Island gives me lots of opportunities for that. I enjoy hiking with my Sheltie, Skye, and hanging with my husband and son. Okay, that’s four, so number five would be that I refuse to eat liver and brussel sprouts.

6. What are you working on now? What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?

I am presently working on the last in the Grace series, In the Home of Grace. This one will take a little while due to some rather sudden family obligations, but I am hopeful to get it done and possibly published sometime in 2013. My publisher, TWCS, is being very kind and patient with me, so I really want to do my best to get it done as soon as possible.

7. Is there anything else that you wanted to tell the readers of Words at Home?

My wish is that everyone who reads my books comes away with a sense of hope  that we really can have better days. If we just do our best to keep our hearts and minds open to receiving all the wonderful things life has to offer, they will come. It may not be today, tomorrow, or even next month, but when we are ready, they will come.

 

Thank you so much for stopping by Dianne! It was a pleasure to ‘chat’ with you.

Dianne lives in beautiful Port Jefferson on Long Island, NY with her husband, son, dog and two cats. When she isn’t working in her gardens, she works at the lovely Emma S. Clark Memorial Library which gives her countless good reads and the inspiration to write.

Bio from the publisher's website

 

In the Heart of Grace by Dianne Greco

~ It's a new month and a new Incredible Indie featured author! This month I will be featuring Dianne Greco author of the Grace series. ~

If you are an indie author and are interested in being featured in this series click here for more information and to sign up. I am currently scheduling authors for features in August-December.

Published: December 1, 2011
Publisher: TWCS Publishing House
Source: Review copy from publisher
Series: In the Hands of Grace (Review of Book 1 here)
Find the author: Goodreads
Buy: Amazon || Publisher || The Book Depository || B&N

 

~ The Blurb ~
From Goodreads

Love is in the air in the quiet little town of Noyac, Long Island.

In this second installment of the Grace series, In the Heart of Grace, Susan and Tom’s romance has taken off at full speed, and they can’t help but wonder if Grace is up to her old tricks again.

Thanks to a generous gift from her elderly and clairvoyant neighbor Grace and the new love of her life Tom, Susan is thrilled that her yard and the exterior of her little house are getting an extreme makeover.

After losing her well-paying position as a gem broker weeks before, Susan wonders how she could have dealt with the new adventures of the “quiet life” had she still been commuting into New York City.

When Grace struggles with muddled thoughts and incomplete sentences, everyone is worried, but her clairvoyant ability is unaffected. After all, she manages to get her doctor and Susan’s mother together in a convoluted way, and the two widowers take off on a whirlwind romance.

But that’s not the end of Susan’s troubles. When she sees Tom with another woman, she assumes the worst. When Tom confronts her about the cold shoulder she’s giving him, she tries to get rid of him and injures her ankle in the process. Grace agrees to call an ambulance, but calls Tom instead and forces Susan confront her issues with Tom while accepting his help and learning an invaluable lesson.

Add to this a bank robbery and Grace’s desire to make financial decisions while she not quite in her right mind and everyone finds there is nothing “quiet” about this life.

In the Heart of Grace delves deeper into the heart of an amazing woman who teaches Susan and those she cherishes what love is all about

~ My Thoughts ~

In the Heart of Grace is the charming sequel to Greco’s first novel In the Hands of Grace (read my review here). It picks right up where book one left off and was full of the same heartwarming family love and wisdom from sweet, sweet Grace that we were treated to in the first novel. Throughout this novel Susan continues to enjoy a slower pace to life and finds that she is able to connect with herself, her son, and her newfound friends in ways that she never thought possible. She found love and friendship when she was at the lowest point in her life and the result was a closer knit family made from friends and relatives than she had ever experienced before.

Grace is the kind of woman that everyone should be so blessed to know at one point in their life. She is Susan’s sweet, feisty, wise and extremely intuitive neighbor who always knows what the people in her life need. Whether it is a shoulder to cry on, some sage advice, a slice of cake or a puppy to care for she is always there with the perfect solution. She is selfless, generous, willing to love unconditionally and Grace shows so much love that her kindness and compassion are exemplary. In the Heart of Grace really is a story about finding love and acceptance and finding joy in all of life’s moments.

There were some points in the novel where the storyline became overrun with mundane details and it felt like I was reading a laundry list of the characters activities rather than connecting with them on an emotional level. For example at one point in the novel Susan takes a trip to the hardware store for a compost can, cat bed and a baby gate and several pages are spent detailing the visit. After spending so much time detailing this trip to the hardware store I would have expected the events that took place to have a greater role in the story but there was really only one mention of these events in passing. It all felt rather unnecessary and interrupted the flow of the story rather than enhancing it.

In the Heart of Grace was written in the same sunny style as its precursor and it left me feeling warm and for lack of a better word, happy. It is a rare treat to kick back with an uplifting book that is free from drama and negativity. I was able to spend a few hours reading about an amazingly genuine woman who mends fences and heals hearts wherever she goes.  

I received a review copy of In the Heart of Grace from TWCS Publishing House (thank you!!!) in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Upcoming Reviews
Connect!
Please consider subscribing to my FEED. As of March 1, 2011 Hands and Home will no longer have use of Google Friend Connect. Thank you! :)
Hands and Home
Hands and Home
Hands and Home
Hands and Home blog
Words at Home
LinkyFollowers
Networked Blogs!
Grab My Button! :)
Words at Home
< /center> < center>
Books of 2013

2013 Reading Challenge

2013 Reading Challenge
Bonnie (Words at Home Blog) has
read 0 books toward her goal of 90 books.
hide

Words at Home
< /center> < center>
Search Hands and Home
Fun Stuff
Friends!!!