Archive for May, 2011

Jen’s Jewels with Nancy Thayer

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011


Change is difficult no matter what season of life you are in. Take Oprah for instance. After twenty-five years, she has turned off the lights at the Oprah Show temporarily saying good-bye to her millions of fans world-wide. For some, four o’clock in the afternoon will never be the same again. However, this is an exciting time for Oprah as she embarks on a new adventure at the OWN Network.

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Nancy Thayer addresses this very topic of a life change in her sensational summer read HEAT WAVE. After the sudden death of her husband, Carley Winsted along with her two young daughters is forced to move on while coping with her loss. In order to make ends meet, she decides to open a bed and breakfast in her family’s home. A delightful, heartwarming story, HEAT WAVE is a must-read book for this summer’s reading list.
As part of this interview, Ballantine Books has generously donated five copies for you, my favorite readers, to try to win. So, don’t forget to look for the trivia question at the end. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewels a part of your reading adventure.

Jen: A New York Times bestselling author, your career is the envy of many aspiring authors everywhere. So that my readers may have a glimpse into the life of the woman behind the words, please share with us your educational and professional background prior to becoming published.

Nancy: I have a B.A. and M.A. in English literature from the University of Missouri at Kansas City. In my twenties, I taught freshman English in several colleges and read, read, read, all the classics from Fitzgerald through Tolstoy, and Agatha Christie and Victoria Holt as well. I also wrote, wrote, and wrote. Mostly I wrote short stories, trying to find my voice. My first short story was published in the University of Tulsa’s literary review, “Nimrod” and also in a Spanish journal. But I wanted to write about women like me, and gradually I found a way to do it. My first novel wasn’t accepted for publication until I was thirty-five.

Jen: Please describe for us the “Ah! Ha!” moment when you made the decision to pursue a writing career.
Nancy: Honestly, when I was four, when I began to read. As soon as I learned this was something people could do–write stories–I wanted to do it. And I began to do it. In sixth grade my teacher allowed me to read my short stories to the class. I never ever wanted to do anything else; although there were days–and years–when I thought I would never be published.

Jen: In terms of nuts and bolts, please share with us your writing process. Do you plot and outline first? Or, do you simply allow the novel to take on a life of its own?

Nancy: The most important thing for me is discipline. I write every morning as soon as I wake up–as soon as I get a cup of coffee! I start with a character or several characters, and write the first page, allowing it to lead me to the next page, even though I know that eventually I might throw the first page away. I don’t outline or plot, but after a few pages, I make a kind of constellation of characters, with lines between them, scribbling notes about who does what to whom. After a few chapters, the novel does take on its own life, but after the first draft my editor reads it, and she is remarkable at pointing out what I’ve left out or overstated. I can’t stress how important a good editor is. I do many revisions, large and small, for my editor, and she’s right every time.

Jen: Best-known for emotionally captivating beach novels set in Nantucket, your latest release HEAT WAVE once again takes us to that locale. How did you arrive at the premise?

Nancy: I’ve lived on Nantucket for 26 years, and I never tire of writing about its beauty. When Carley is widowed, she needs to find a way to support herself and her two daughters. Nantucket is a small island with no chain businesses, and Carley has little work experience. But she loves people and she loves baking, and her house is enormous, set on a cliff overlooking the water. Thousands of people flock to the island for the cool summers, the sandy beaches and the small town atmosphere. Nantucket provided the perfect setting for Carley to open a Bed & Breakfast.

Jen: The book begins as the main character Carley Winsted learns of the sudden death of her husband. Carley must face the ultimate decision as to whether or not she and her daughters will remain in Nantucket or flee to New York to reside with her parents. What is the driving force behind her decision to stay?

Nancy: Carley is fortunate to own the house she lives in. She and her husband were given the house by her husband’s parents, and her husband left it to her in his will. So she has a home, one she loves, one her two daughters, 12 and 5, have lived in all their lives. She doesn’t want to take her children away from this wonderful house, their town, their friends, their school. She doesn’t want to inflict another change on them after they’ve lost their father.

Jen: How does her decision to open a Bed & Breakfast in the historic Winsted home set the tone for the future of her relationship with her in-laws Russell and Annabel?

Nancy: Carley loves her in-laws and admires her mother-in-law. It is a historic family house she has inherited, one that has never been slept in by anyone but family. Annabel and Russell are horrified that Carley wants to turn it into a B&B, but Carley has considered all her options and all her preferences. She disagrees with her beloved in=laws and strikes out to realize a dream. Her decision to run a B&B is Carley’s first step toward discovering the power and potential she has in her own self. Deciding to run a B&B is in way Carley’s Declaration of Independence from her lovingly domineering in-laws.

Jen: How does the physical proximity of her in-laws affect her healing process, as well as theirs?

Nancy: Carley’s in-laws are especially important to Carley’s daughters Cisco, 12 and Margaret, 5. At first the entire family comes together to grieve, but when Carley decides to open the B&B, Annabel, her mother-in-law, tries to undermine Carley. This causes a split between Carley and her oldest daughter who is already facing stressful changes in her own life. Carley finds that she is stronger than she ever knew. Russell and Annabel finally learn an enormous lesson that changes their lives.

Jen: As Carley and her girls experience the various stages of grief, they hit some bumps in the road. What is Carley’s biggest challenge in her new role as a single mom?

Nancy: Oh, goodness! There are so many! Carley has to financially support her small family without accepting help from her in-laws, which means she has to become creative, proactive, and willing to disagree with people she loves. She has to discipline her children all by herself, without another parent to help her make decisions. She has to find a way to assure both daughters they are loved and safe.

Jen: During life’s most difficult times, women rely on the kindness of friends to pull them through. Carley is no exception. How does her friend Maud’s predicament help Carley put her own life into perspective?

Nancy: Carley’s two closest friends are Maud and Vanessa. When Maud–not to give too much away–makes some startling changes in her own life, she becomes so self-absorbed she isn’t there to help Carley. But in a way, Maud’s selfish grab for happiness helps Carley understand that in the midst of all her family, she, Carley, matters, too. Her own happiness matters, too.

Jen: And without giving too much away, why does she choose to keep Maud’s secret despite the possibility of hurting others?

Nancy: This is a frog in a warm pot of water that slowly boils sort of action. We are all told secrets by our friends. We promise to keep them, and I believe that mostly, if we say we will, we do. When Carley first promises to keep Maud’s secret, it isn’t as enormous a secret as it becomes.

Jen: Unexpectedly, Carley winds up befriending her husband’s former law partner Wyatt. How does this budding friendship enable her to put the past behind her and focus on the future?

Nancy: Carley learns to move from grief to power, independence, and mental health, but she doesn’t know when or how to allow herself to be happy again. I think many women feel that working hard, keeping their children happy and safe, keeping the house together, is enough, and feel almost guilty at the thought of doing things that make them happy. At one point, Carley wonders whether a new book and a box of chocolates are too indulgent for her as a widow. She has a lot to learn.

Jen: Let’s switch gears now and talk about your promotional plans. Do you participate in Author Phone Chats? And if so, how would my readers go about scheduling one?

Nancy: Thanks for asking this! I have done Author Phone Chats and I love them. I need to have some information about organizing phone chats put on my website and newsletter, but someone can always email me. nancy@nancythayer.com

Jen: Please take us on a tour of your website highlighting points of interest. (I love the seashells!)

Nancy: The opening page is about me, my new novel, and BEACHCOMBERS in paperback. I had my web guru make Heat Wave large, mostly because that turquoise blue is my most favorite color, just dreamy and it captures the summery feel of Nantucket. “About Me” is a peek into my personal life: family and friends, our house, the island. I love seeing photos of others. “Books” is of course a list of my books–all 21! “The Hot Flash Club” is about the four books in that series, what order to read them in, how to start a Hot Flash Club, and discussions questions for book clubs. “Newsletter” provides a space to sign up for the newsletter I send out several times a year, about my books, my grandchildren, events on this island, and my favorite quotes, DVDs and books. It’s always personal and I build it myself. “Events” is a list of events where I’ll speak in the next few months. “Links” is a place to find a few other writers I love–like my daughter, Samantha Wilde! You can click on her link and get to her website. I’m glad you like the seashells; it is so Nantuckety!

Jen: In terms of social media, are you on FaceBook? Twitter? Do you blog regularly on any sites?

Nancy: I am on FaceBook but I don’t get on there very often. I’m trying to go there more, now that there is a Fan Page, or an Author Page. I want to start some discussions on the Author Page, about how other women have found their own strength through crisis, or take part in discussions readers have started. Most of my time at the computer is spent writing. I don’t Twitter, but I’ve been considering a blog. Why do we have to sleep?

Jen: Are you currently at work on your next novel? If so, what can you share with us?

Nancy: Yes, I’m working on SUMMER BREEZE, a novel about three young women facing career and romantic choices, set in the Northampton/MA area, which in its own way is as beautiful as the island.

Jen: Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to stop by and chat with my readers. I hope you have a relaxing summer!

Nancy: Thank you, Jen! This was fun.

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Nancy. Please stop by your local library branch or favorite bookstore and pick up a copy of HEAT WAVE today. Better yet, how would you like to win one instead? Okay, be one of the first five readers to e-mail me at jensjewels@gmail.com with the correct answer to the following trivia question and you’ll win.
Name one of Carley’s best friends.
Later this month, I will be bringing to you my interview with New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz. You won’t want to miss it.
Until next time…

Jen

Top New Historical Fiction

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

5 Top Historical Fiction: Editor’s Picks 

  Beautiful Maria of My Soul by Oscar Hijuelos

Summary:  “”The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love” is a Pulitzer Prize-winning contemporary American classic. Now, in his new novel, Hijuelos returns to this indelible story, to tell it from the point of view of its beloved heroine, Maria.”

  Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland

Summary:  “The “New York Times”-bestselling author of “The Girl in Hyacinth Blue”creates a dynamic portrait of Clara Driscoll: lead designer for Louis Comfort Tiffany (famous for Tiffany lamps) and a woman conflicted between her desires for artistic recognition and romantic love.”

  The Elephant’s Journey by José Saramago. Tr. by Margaret Jull Costa

Summary:  “In 1551, King Joachim III of Portugal gave Archduke Maximilian an unusual wedding present: an elephant named Solomon. The elephant’s journey from Lisbon to Vienna was witnessed and remarked upon by scholars, historians, and ordinary people. Out of this material, Jose Saramago has spun a novel already heralded as “a triumph of language, imagination, and humor.” ”

  The Matchmaker of Kenmare  by Frank Delaney

Summary:  “And there’s a legend-she had only vague details-that all couples who are meant to marry are connected by an invisible silver cord which is wrapped around their ankles at birth, and in time the matchmaking gods pull those cords tighter and tighter and draw the couple slowly toward one another until they meet.  So says Miss Kate Begley, Matchmaker of Kenmare, the enigmatic woman Ben MacCarthy meets in the summer of 1943.  As World War II rages on, Ben remains haunted by the mysterious disappearance of his wife, the actress Venetia Kelly. Searching for purpose by collecting stories for the Irish Folklore Commission, he travels to a remote seaside cottage to profile the aforementioned Matchmaker of Kenmare.  Ben is immediately captivated by the forthright Miss Begley, who is remarkably self-assured in her instincts but provincial in her experience. Miss Begley is determined to see that Ben moves through his grief-and a powerful friendship is forged along the way.  But when Charles Miller, a striking American military intelligence officer, arrives on the scene, Miss Begley develops an intense infatuation and looks to make a match for herself. Miller needs a favor, but it will be dangerous. Under the cover of their neutrality as Irish citizens, Miss Begley and Ben travel to London and effectively operate as spies. As they are drawn more deeply and painfully into the conflict, both discover the perils of neutrality-in both love and war.”

  Rodin’s Debutante  by Ward Just

Summary:  “Tommy Ogden, a Gatsbyesque character living in a mansion outside robber-baron-era Chicago, declines to give his wife the money to commission a bust of herself from the French master Rodin and announces instead his intention to endow a boys’. Ogden’s decision reverberates years later in the life of Lee Goodell, whose coming of age is at the heart of Ward Just’s emotionally potent new novel.  Lee’s life decisions-to become a sculptor, to sojourn in the mean streets of the South Side, to marry into the haute-intellectual culture of Hyde Park-play out against the crude glamour of midcentury Chicago. Just’s signature skill of conveying emotional heft with few words is put into play as Lee confronts the meaning of his four years at Ogden Hall School under the purview, in the school library, of a bust known as Rodin’s Debutante. And, especially, as he meets again a childhood friend, the victim of a brutal sexual assault of which she has no memory. It was a crime marking the end of Lee’s boyhood and the beginning of his understanding-so powerfully under the surface of Just’s masterly story-that how and what we remember add up to nothing less than our very lives.”

Book of Days by James L. Rubart

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

    (Find this book in our catalog)  Being forgetful – is it normal or is it the work of something ancient and evil? Are those momentary lapses of memory just part of being too busy, too much on your mind and not paying attention to details? Cameron Vaux thought so until he remembered what his father told him on his death bed 8 years earlier. “Cameron when you begin to lose your mind you need to find “The Book of Days” to reclaim it”. Oh yeah like that would happen to a healthy 28 year old! Now, however,  for Cameron little memory lapses are becoming bigger and bigger – like not really remembering the death of his wife, or how he has gotten from one place to another. Finally in desperation Cameron decides to seek out the “Book Of Days”. Cameron ends up in Three Peaks Oregon where strange things start to happen whenever he mentions that he is looking for the “book”. As Cameron struggles to find the book as well as retain his memory he realizes that friends could be enemies and the most unlikely person could be his most important ally. Follow Cameron as someone follows him to the discover what and where the Book Of Days is - and how it finally brings him peace.

Posted by Christy

The Conspirator – Book to Movie

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

  The movie The Conspirator, directed by Robert Redford and starring James McAvoy, Robin Wright, Kevin Kline, Evan Rachel Wood, Danny Huston, Justin Long and Tom Wilkinson, has recently opened. The movie focuses on the trial of Mary Surratt, who was hung for her part in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.   The historical consultant to the movie was Kate Clifford Larson whose book about Surratt,  is The Assassin’s Accomplice: Mary Surratt and the Plot to Kill Abraham Lincoln Find in our catalog

His Other Wife by Deborah Bedford

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

  Hey Girlfriend! you ever have those moments when you wonder when it all started to go wrong? For me it started one morning which I thought would be a regular busy day, getting 12 year old Seth ready for school, a little snuggle time with Eric, my husband of 15 years, before getting myself ready for work. But would you believe, Eric turned it all to pieces when he calmly informed me that he has been seeing another woman –Pam- and now he wants a divorce.

That was then. Now 6 years later on the eve of Seth’s high school graduation Eric and the other woman decide to show up. Eric really hasn’t been a part of Seth life the past 6 years. I had to make all the decisions, attend all the important events, invite the friends over, and be both mother and father. At the same time it was me who tried to instill in Seth how to make wise choices, be the man of the house and set good standards of behavior. Eric wants to stay with us – which poses problems of its own with Pam wanting to bring doubt on my parenting skills. Then on graduation night a wrong decision causes a tragic accident that causes Seth to doubt his ability to make wise choices. It is also a time when the other wife and myself must put aside our differences for the good of the family and the son we share. Go with me in  His Other Wife (Find in our catalog) by Deborah Bedford on this journey of discovery which involves more then just the immediate family but also friends, outsiders and church family.

Posted by Christy

2011 Lukas Prizes

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

The winners of the 2011 Lukas Prizes which “recognize excellence in nonfiction that exemplify the literary grace and commitment to serious research and social concern that characterized the work of the awards’ Pulitzer Prize-winning namesake, J. Anthony Lukas,” are:

 J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize winner: Eliza Griswold for The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam (Find in our catalog)

Summary in our catalog:  “A riveting investigation of the jagged fault line between the Christian and Muslim worlds The tenth parallel—the line of latitude seven hundred miles north of the equator—is a geographical and ideological front line where Christianity and Islam collide. More than half of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims live along the tenth parallel; so do sixty percent of the world’s 2 billion Christians. Here, in the buzzing megacities and swarming jungles of Africa and Asia, is where the two religions meet; their encounter is shaping the future of each faith, and of whole societies as well. An award-winning investigative journalist and poet, Eliza Griswold has spent the past seven years traveling between the equator and the tenth parallel: in Nigeria, the Sudan, and Somalia, and in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. The stories she tells inThe Tenth Parallelshow us that religious conflicts are also conflicts about land, water, oil, and other natural resources, and that local and tribal issues are often shaped by religious ideas. Above all, she makes clear that, for the people she writes about, one’s sense of God is shaped by one’s place on earth; along the tenth parallel, faith is geographic and demographic. An urgent examination of the relationship between faith and worldly power,The Tenth Parallelis an essential work about the conflicts over religion, nationhood and natural resources that will remake the world in the years to come.”

  Mark Lynton History Prize winner: Isabel Wilkerson for The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration (Find in our catalog)

Summary:  “One of The New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of the Year In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life. From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America. Wilkerson compares this epic migration to the migrations of other peoples in history. She interviewed more than a thousand people, and gained access to new data and official records, to write this definitive and vividly dramatic account of how these American journeys unfolded, altering our cities, our country, and ourselves. With stunning historical detail, Wilkerson tells this story through the lives of three unique individuals: Ida Mae Gladney, who in 1937 left sharecropping and prejudice in Mississippi for Chicago, where she achieved quiet blue-collar success and, in old age, voted for Barack Obama when he ran for an Illinois Senate seat; sharp and quick-tempered George Starling, who in 1945 fled Florida for Harlem, where he endangered his job fighting for civil rights, saw his family fall, and finally found peace in God; and Robert Foster, who left Louisiana in 1953 to pursue a medical career, the personal physician to Ray Charles as part of a glitteringly successful medical career, which allowed him to purchase a grand home where he often threw exuberant parties. Wilkerson brilliantly captures their first treacherous and exhausting cross-country trips by car and train and their new lives in colonies that grew into ghettos, as well as how they changed these cities with southern food, faith, and culture and improved them with discipline, drive, and hard work. Both a riveting microcosm and a major assessment,<b>The Warmth of Other Suns is a bold, remarkable, and riveting work, a superb account of an “unrecognized immigration” within our own land. Through the breadth of its narrative, the beauty of the writing, the depth of its research, and the fullness of the people and lives portrayed herein, this book is destined to become a classic.”

Abingdon Book Group Recommended Reads

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

The Abingdon Book Group meets monthly at the Abingdon Library in Harford County. Here are some books the group recommends, including titles old & new.

  One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus. 1998. In 1875, white women go out west to marry Cheyenne husbands. Their stories are reflected in May Dodd’s humorous & perceptive journals. 

  Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet by Jamie Ford. 2009. Set in Seattle & the internment camps of Japanese Americans during WW2, this heartwarming  debut novel tells the story of widower Henry Lee.

  The Girl in the Green Raincoat by Laura Lippman. 2011. Pregnant & bedridden, Tess Monaghan tries to solve the mystery of a missing woman in a green coat. Light & breezy, this is a quick read.

  Jarrettsville: a Novel by Cornelia Nixon. 2009. Based on a true story from 1869, Jarrettsville follows the moments after Martha Jane Cairnes murders her fiance.

  Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. 2009. This epic novel set in India , Ethiopia & New York City follows the lives of a doctor, a nun, & twin boys. The practice of medicine is interwoven through the plot.

Posted by Julia

Book to Movie – Something Borrowed

Monday, May 16th, 2011

  The movie Something Borrowed, based on the book  by Emily Giffin, opened Friday, May 6. Kate Hudson stars as a single woman with few romantic interests who falls for her best friend’s fiance.

Jen’s Jewels with Rachel Gibson

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

It’s amazing how one split-second decision can affect the rest of our loves. For instance, a business woman who decides to take a later flight misses a fatal crash by an hour. Or on a lighter note, an innocent hook-up at a bar winds up turning into a life commitment. Good or bad, the decisions we make at the most unsuspecting times can be monumental. That’s just how life is.

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Rachel Gibson addresses this very topic in her latest release ANY MAN OF MINE. It’s the story of a single mom named Autumn Haven who finds herself in over her head trying to raise the son of a notorious professional hockey player Sam LeClaire. With Gibson’s usual romantic flair, she delivers yet again a steamy love affair sure to please her devoted fans.

As a part of this interview, Avon Books has generously donated five copies for you, my favorite readers, to try to win. So, don’t forget to look for the trivia question at the end of the column. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewels a part of your reading adventure.

Jen: A New York Times bestselling romance writer, your stellar achievements recognized by Romance Writers of America as well as many others best exemplify the exceptional talent you possess as a writer. So that my readers may have a glimpse into the life of the woman behind the words, please share with us a brief overview of your educational and professional background.

Rachel: I got married soon after graduating from high school and had three children within seven years. When I say that, most people gasp. I certainly understand. Looking back on it, I gasp at how young I was, but I always thought I’d go back to school once my youngest child entered first grade. I had dreams of being a forensic scientist. Instead, I sat down with an old typewriter one night and started writing.

Jen: Please describe for us your “Ah! Ha!” moment when you made the decision to pursue a career as an author.

Rachel: It was the night I finished reading GONE WITH THE WIND and was so unsatisfied with the ending that I dragged out that old typewriter and rewrote GONE WITH THE WIND. After that, I wrote a contemporary novel that ended up being about eight hundred pages long. The book was really horrible and has never seen the light of day, but during the process of writing it, I became a writer.

Jen: In terms of nuts and bolts, please share with us your writing approach. Do you plot first and then outline? Or, do you fly by the seat of your pants allowing the story to take on a life of its own?

Rachel: Total pantser. I’ve tried outlining a book first because it just seem like it might be an easier way of going about writing. But I’ve leaned that I don’t stick to outlines and it’s a waste of time.

Jen: Your latest release ANY MAN OF MINE is a delightful story of Autumn Haven (love the name!) who is trying desperately to move on from a heart-wrenching past relationship. The novel involves the career of a fictional hockey player Sam LeClaire. Why did you choose to incorporate professional hockey into the storyline?

Rachel: I’d like to give you some allegorical reason that compares the game of hockey to the hard knocks of life and love. Some reason that would make me sound brilliant, but the truth is that hockey players are hot. That’s it. That’s the only reason.

Jen: Autumn’s sheer determination to succeed has enabled her to become a self-sufficient, single mom with an emotionally healthy son Conner. From where does she get this strength?

Rachel: I think perhaps watching her mother flounder gave her the determination to be self-sufficient. When people are handed difficulties, they can either fail or succeed and that has to come from somewhere deep within each individual.

Jen: How does her decision to become an event planner directly correlate to the unrest that is going on in her personal life?

Rachel: I was interested in the contrasting juxtaposition of a woman who plans beautiful wedding for a living but who was wed in Vegas by an Elvis impersonator in her own life.

Jen: Her ex-husband Sam is a rough and tough hockey player who makes women swoon. An absentee yet financially supportive father to date, his sudden interest in Conner sends Autumn into a tailspin. What is going through her mind as he tries to reinsert himself into their lives? And, why does she allow him to teeter so close to her emotional ledge?

Rachel: For a lot of valid reasons, Autumn doesn’t trust Sam. When it comes to Conner, she doesn’t trust that he won’t revert to his old ways and break his son’s heart.

Jen: Autumn’s brother Vince has been her entire support system during the rocky times. Despite the obvious, why does she not confide in him concerning her newfound feelings towards Sam?

Rachel: Vince hates Sam and wouldn’t understand. Also, Autumn is real confused about her feeling about Sam, and her brother isn’t exactly unbiased.

Jen: Conner’s immediate acceptance of Sam’s presence into their lives causes some unexpected as well as uneasy feelings for Sam himself. Why such fear and reluctance to give it his all?

Rachel: Being a good father is a lot of responsibility, and Sam is often purposely irresponsible.

Jen: Who is more of a hopeless romantic…Autumn or Sam? And, why so?

Rachel: Autumn. Although she fights it, she can’t help but be a hopeless, optimistic romantic. She plans fairytale weddings for other people instead of herself.

Jen: Let’s switch gears now and talk about your promotional plans. First, please take us on a tour of your website highlighting points of interest. (I love the graphics, especially the photo with you wearing the leopard heels! I want those shoes!)

Rachel: Actually, if you want up to date Rachel Gibson info, the best place to find it is on my Facebook page. It’s just a lot more immediate. If you want to read excerpts of all my books, they can be found on my website. For promotion, I am giving away copies of True Love And Other Disasters and Nothing But Trouble on my face book page through the end of the month. Avon is having a contest to give away a wild weekend in Vegas. Go to my website or Facebook page and follow the links for your chance to win.

Jen: Are you currently at work on your next project? If so, what may you share with us?

Rachel: I am. The next book features Autumn’s brother Vince as the hero. I hadn’t planned on writing about him, but he is such a big personality, I just felt compelled to write about him and tell his story.

Jen: Thank you so much for stopping by and chatting with my readers. I look forward to catching up with you again real soon. Best of luck with ANY MAN OF MINE! It’s the perfect summer read!

Rachel: Thanks Jen. If readers are interested in finding out more about ANY MAN OF MINE, they can read an excerpt at http://www.rachelgibson.com/

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Rachel. Please stop by your favorite bookseller or local library branch and pick up a copy today. Better yet, how would you like to win one instead?

Okay, be one of the first five readers to e-mail me at jensjewels@gmail.com with the correct answer to the following trivia question and you’ll win.

What is the name of Autumn’s brother?

In June, I will be bringing to you my interviews with Nancy Thayer and Melissa de la Cruz. You won’t want to miss them.

Until next time…

Jen

Juliet by Anne Fortier

Friday, May 13th, 2011

The Abingdon Library Book Group read Juliet for their May meeting.  Anne Fortier takes a new look at the story of Romeo & Juliet in this delightful novel. The lives of twin sisters Julie & Janice change when their aunt dies. Orphaned at a young age they were rescued by their aunt who brought them from Italy to their new home in America. They know little of their Italian roots. Julie decides to travel to Siena to find out what happened to her parents & to discover a treasure that her mother may have left her. Once in Siena Julie unearths secrets & conspiracies, & a family curse. Her story connects to that of the “real” Juliet set in 1340, & the narrative passes between the historic & current periods. Shakespeare’s story is ever present, yet Fortier sets the historical action in Siena (as does a version by Mascuccio Salernitano prior to Shakespeare) rather than Verona. Her descriptions of the city make it glow. The pace speeds up towards a tense conclusion involving armed baddies, danger and romance. As might be expected there are many coincidences, but don’t let these put you off reading this very entertaining book.

Read more about author Anne Fortier at her website http://www.annefortier.com/

Book Groups find reading group questions on Oprah’s website http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/Juliet-by-Anne-Fortier-Reading-Guide