Series: The American Madams, Book 2
Genre: Historical Fiction.
San Francisco,1849. Despite her objections, twenty-year-old Ah Toy and her servant Chen voyage from China to San Francisco with her husband who dies on board ship. With little cash and bound feet, how is she to find employment in the Gold Rush town? Since she is the only Chinese woman there, she opens a “Lookee Shop,” catering to miners who pay in gold dust to see her exotic beauty. As her notoriety grows, so does her attraction to the devoted policeman, John Clark. Yet should she put her faith in one man? Will their love survive despite her frightening encounter with Sydney Ducks, threats from rival madam Li Fan, and a tempting offer from Henry Conrad who promises her wealth and security? Armed with her mystical beliefs of the inner dragon and Goddess Mazu, Ah Toy faces much more than the journey from the ancient ways in China to the new world in America. In fact, she must find the true source of courage in a life or death struggle for her own fate, justice, and dignity. Based on page-turning accounts about the life of Ah Toy, one of San Francisco’s most legendary madams.
“Readers were effusive in their praise of Gini Grossenbacher’s dynamic debut novel Madam of My Heart, based on the life of the infamous brothel owner Belle Cora. This, the prequel to her American Madams Series, is inspired by the life of a beautiful young Chinese woman of high birth brought to California against her will. She was able–and willing–to do whatever it took to find security and fortune in Gold Rush San Francisco. Madam in Silk is this year’s exciting addition to historical fiction.” -Cheryl Anne Stapp, Author of Disaster & Triumph: Sacramento Women, Gold Rush Through the Civil War
This book was received as an ARC from the Author, in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own
Thank you to Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and the Author,
Listen to your Inner Dragon 🐉…..
Madame In Silk, is Gini Grossenbacher’s second novel in The American Madam Series.
Ah Toy, finds herself along with her dedicated lifelong servant Chen, on a ship bond for San Francisco. Her life takes a sudden twist when her husband dies on the voyage. Stepping off the ship she finds herself in the rapidly expanding world of the San Francisco Gold Rush.
In a Tragic turn of events her dead husbands well laid plans comes a halt. Ah Toy is now destitute, and struggles to find employment. With time running out and her resources depleted. Her lotus bond feet were once highly prized in her native Guangzhou, but actually have handicapped her making everyday walking a trial. She decides to capitalize on her one true aspect, her extraordinary beauty. With help from her devoted Chen she opens a Lookee Shop.
Gini Grossenbacher, has written a vividly descriptive, atmospheric, intriguing, well-written and irresistible historical fiction here, that I absolutely loved and was thoroughly impressed by. The characters were extremely interesting, compelling, and definitely held my full attention. Exquisite prose, with great pacing and depth, Victorian San Francisco comes to life within the pages of this beautifully atmospheric, compelling novel. Ah Toy’s narrative voice allows you to struggle along with her and Chen as the find themselves facing obstacles and dangers on all sides.
Grossenbacher, writing ability shines through in the details of the interaction between the characters themselves. To me the the strength of the novel is the trials and tribulations that the main protagonist has survived through. Fierce and inspirational, Ah Toy must listen to her inner dragon to find her way in this truly stunning beautifully written historical fiction.
As her notoriety grows, so does her attraction to the devoted policeman, John Clark. Yet should she put her faith in one man? Ah’s relationship with Chen, is definitely worth noting, his complete devotion to her was truly heartwarming.
This is a touching, raw, heartbreaking and an absolutely wonderful novel that had me emotionally engaged and interested throughout the entire book. I was completely immersed in this deeply moving and beautifully written story here. I connected with and absolutely loved Gini Grossenbacher writing style.
This well researched historical fiction was incredible, I am definitely looking forward to reading the next installment in her series.
I also enjoyed the selective placement of Li Po’s writing in the book. Li Po wrote occasional verse and poems about his own life. His poetry is known for its clear imagery and conversational tone. His work influenced a number of 20th-century poets, including Ezra Pound and James Wright.
The author touches on some critical subjects, the position of the Chinese immigrant in the Victorian era, and the foundation of the Californi’s 19th century sex trade
This is a 5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book
About the Author
California author Gini Grossenbacher was a successful high school English teacher until she abandoned grades and term papers, choosing to write historical novels instead. Now she leads small writing groups and coaches other writers. She loves researching the history behind her novels, and enjoys traveling to the setting where they take place. Her hobbies include needlepoint, nature walks, and Scrabble. She lives in the Sacramento Valley where she grew up, east of San Francisco.
During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a paperback copy of Madam in Silk! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.
â€“ Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on October 11th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
â€“ Giveaway is open internationally.
â€“ Only one entry per household.
â€“ All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
â€“ The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.
Print Length: 410 pages
Publisher: The Wild Harp & Company, Inc. (July 16, 2019)
Publication Date: July 16, 2019
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Praise for CATHY CASH SPELLMAN “…Almost impossible to put down. The Author has the ability to produce one powerful scene after another and the action draws you helplessly on…” ―Publisher’s Weekly on So Many Partings
“…A cross between The Thorn Birds and Ragtime…” ―ALA Booklist on So Many Partings
“Flows along with an inexorable narrative current that propels the readers from one involving episode to the next.” ―Booklist on So Many Partings
“An energetic plot that never takes a breather.” ―Kirkus Reviews on Paint the Wind
“A western extravaganza.. a plot teeming with outsize characters.” ―Publishers Weekly on Paint the Wind
“I have never read a book or connected with an author who has touched me so deeply – as a mother, a grandmother, and another psychic kindred soul!” ―Elizabeth Taylor on Bless the Child
“This book has really touched my heartstrings as both a mother and grandmother. And Cathy Cash Spellman is one hell of a writer!” ―Maureen Stapleton on Bless the Child
“With a seductive, at times spellbinding style, author Spellman (An Excess of Love) incorporates ancient myths into an entrancing romantic thriller.. Spellman succeeds in capturing the reader’s close attention as an unrelenting sense of foreboding drives the narrative forward with power.” ―Publisher’s Weekly on Bless the Child
A brutal murder.
A heinous secret
A deadly conspiracy.
The brutal murder of the little old lady next door puts FitzHugh Donovan on the case. A retired New York City Police Chief, he knows a cover-up when he sees one and his Irish Cop conscience can’t let that happen.
Now, Fitz, his family and his quirky band of Bleecker Street Irregulars are ensnared in the bizarre secret the woman died to protect.
Is this a 75-year-old cold case turned hot again, or an unspeakable crime-in-progress that could alter the course of the world?
Fitz doesn’t yet know how high the stakes are, that failure isn’t an option, and that the little old lady was so much more than she appeared. But he’s trying to keep everyone alive long enough to find out.
Characters you’ll care about, dark shocking secrets, and disturbing similarities to today’s political scene, will keep you turning pages to an ending you won’t see coming.
You can purchaseA Murder on Jane Street at the following Retailers:
Photo Credit: Dakota Cash
Multiple New York Times and International Bestsellers, a Paramount Movie, book sales in 22 countries, Cathy Cash Spellman writes stories about love, friendship, adventure, and history. Known for her big sprawling sagas and memorable characters, Cathy writes the kind of stories women like to lose themselves in, and then remember long after the book is done.
Her books range through several genres: contemporary, historical, mystery, mystic and romance. Several take place in two time-frames, both current and historical.
Bless the Child was a Paramount movie in 2000, starring Kim Basinger and Jimmy Smits, and Paint The Wind has been optioned for film and TV.
Cathy is an Astrologer, Martial Artist (Black Belt Goju Ryu Karate) and has expertise in Chinese Medicine, several alternative healing modalities and many metaphysical disciplines.
She has written for Self, Harper’s Bazaar, Town & Country, Mademoiselle, Cosmo, Penthouse, Mode, Kung Fu and many other magazines about women, health, empowerment, sexuality, spiritual philosophy and Astrology. She blogs for The Huffington Post and The New York Times.
*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter
Sometimes love is just too powerful for one lifetime…
MOVING TO A SMALL TOWN in Virginia is a big change for New York socialite Katie McCain. But when she stumbles across an abandoned 200-year-old mansion, she’s
enthralled by the enduring beauty of the neglected estate—and captivated by the
haunting portrait of a woman in mourning.
Purchasing the property on a whim, Katie attempts to fit in with the colorful characters
in the town of New Hope, while trying to unravel the mystery of the “widow of
Lacewood.” As she pieces together the previous owner’s heartrending story,
Katie uncovers secrets the house has held for centuries, and discovers the key
to coming to terms with her own sense of loss.
The past and present converge when hometown hero Will Durham returns and begins his
own healing process by helping the “city girl” restore the place that holds so
many memories. As the mystic web of destiny is woven, a love story that might
have been lost forever is exposed, and a destiny that has been waiting in the
shadows for centuries is fulfilled.
Part love story, part ghost story, Lacewood is a timeless novel about trusting in
fate, letting go of the past, and believing in things that can’t be seen.
A powerful and poignant tale that vividly conveys the heartache of war, the
tragedy of loss, and the fulfillment of destiny…even when souls are separated
by centuries. Lacewood takes readers on a journey that connects the past with
the present—and the present with eternity.
in a circle, Katie studied the room again. Faded wallpaper curled and peeled
above the dusty wainscoting, but the walls themselves appeared sturdy. On the
far side of the entryway, and dominating the wall, stood a mammoth fireplace
with an ornately carved hearth. And above the mantle hung a captivating
painting of a woman in nineteenth-century dress.
“Who is she?”
The sheriff turned to the dusty, sun-bleached portrait in the heavy carved guilt
frame. “One of the previous owners, they say.” He shrugged. “The family history
kind of got lost with the house. Everyone around here calls her the Widow of
Katie stood spellbound. The woman was dressed completely in black, but the
magnificence of the gown gave the impression of sophistication and class. Her
chin was slightly elevated as if to project strength, yet there was more than a
hint of sorrow and pain in her eyes.
“She looks so sad.” Katie spoke without removing her gaze. “And so young. How could
she be a widow?”
The sheriff had already started to walk away, but he turned back and glanced at the
painting. “Not sure, but they say she never remarried. She’s the one out in the
cemetery, too, I reckon.”
Katie’s heart suddenly struggled to beat. The anguish in the woman’s eyes kept her
riveted. She could see the pain. Feel a heart ripped apart. Something was
missing that could never be replaced. Katie had felt such loss before. In a
way, that’s why she was here.
Kati heard the sheriff calling from the next room, and turned to follow. With one
quick glance back, she noticed particles of dust now swirled and danced in a
shaft of light, almost like a living thing. Her breath caught in her throat as
the dust seemed to materialize into the form of a woman, her eyes dull with the
same tortured despair and disbelief as the one in the portrait.
Katie jerked her head around for a closer look and blinked. The woman was gone
Copy of Award-Winning Romantic Suspense Novel Mean to Be
Jessica James believes in honor, duty, and true love—and that’s what she writes about
in her award-winning novels that span the ages from the Revolutionary War to
She is a three-time winner of the John Esten Cooke Award for Southern Fiction, and
has won more than a dozen other literary awards, including a Readers’ Favorite
International Book Award and a Gold Medal from the Military Writers Society of
America. Her novels have been used in schools and are available in hundreds of
libraries including Harvard and the U.S. Naval Academy.
Print Length: 483 pages
Publisher: Vesuvian Books (May 14, 2019)
Publication Date: May 14, 2019
ONLY LOVE COULD DEFEAT THE GREATEST CONQUEROR THE WORLD HAS EVER KNOWN.Based on a true story.
When her homeland is conquered by the mighty Alexander the Great, Roxana—the daughter of a mere chieftain—is torn from her simple life and thrown into a world of war and intrigue.
Terrified, the sixteen-year-old girl of renowned beauty is brought before the greatest ruler the world has ever known. Her life is in his hands; her future his to decide.
Without formal education or noble blood, Roxana is chosen by the Greek conqueror to be his bride. Soon she comes to know profound happiness and unyielding desire in her warrior’s arms.
However, being the king’s consort comes at a heavy price. To survive her husband’s treacherous kingdom, she must endure continuous warfare, deadly plots, jealous rivals, victory-hungry generals, and the stigma of being a barbarian. Persian blood will keep her from claiming the grandest title of all—queen—but her reign will seal the fate of an empire.
History tells his story. This is hers.
You can purchaseRealm at the following Retailers:
Photo Content from Alexandrea Weis
Alexandrea Weis, RN-CS, PhD, is a multi-award-winning author of over twenty-seven novels, a screenwriter, ICU Nurse, and historian who was born and raised in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Having grown up in the motion picture industry as the daughter of a director, she learned to tell stories from a different perspective and began writing at the age of eight. Infusing the rich tapestry of her hometown into her novels, she believes that creating vivid characters makes a story moving and memorable. A member of the Horror Writers Association and International Thriller Writers Association, Weis writes mystery, suspense, thrillers, horror, crime fiction, and romance. She lives with her husband and pets in New Orleans where she is a permitted/certified wildlife rehabber with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries and rescues orphaned and injured animals.
*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box
Forgiven Are the Starry-Eyed Christine Doré Miller
Published by: Evernight Teen
Publication date: April 26th 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Naïve sixteen-year-old Andrea Cavanaugh is elated when Josh, a charismatic, bright-eyed piano prodigy, becomes her first boyfriend. But the closer she gets to him, the more she realizes that he is not the boy she first fell for. In its poignancy and emotional darkness, Forgiven Are the Starry-Eyed takes you deep into the delicate and devastating web of shame that spirals from the depths of dating violence when dreamy teenage love turns dark. Andrea must find not only an escape, but a belief that she is even worthy of freedom.
My eyelids closed as if they were being drawn down by sluggish, unhurried weights. When I forced them open after several seemingly endless moments, nothing had changed. I could still make out a blurry image of Josh standing nearby, Mr. Thompson’s hands clenched firmly on Josh’s shoulders from behind. There was a crowd, I think, and muffled voices. The steel school locker felt cold against my back and I recognized the familiar feeling that lately seemed to just dwell and ache in my bones. Fear, I think it was, mixed with just enough madness to keep the blood racing through my veins … fast. Too fast.
“Why did you do that, Andrea?” Josh shouted in my direction.
My eyes fell closed again. I don’t remember what else he said. I just remember the feeling of each overly pronounced syllable piercing the air while he said it. I stared through the darkness that danced behind my heavy eyelids. What had I done?
I tried to pry open my hazy eyes to examine the faces of the expanding crowd as they stood, mouths agape. I only recognized a few. There were hardcover music books sprawled open on the tile floor at my feet. Confused, I looked to Josh, but the heavy silence of the room deafened any words he may have been saying. I gripped the ends of my soft, thin hair between my slender fingers and waited. Each thought sunk deeper than the last.
There was a poster taped sloppily against the locker behind me. I turned my head to face it and focused. The ends were curled up and there were ripples in the masking tape adorned to the edges. “Oakwood High School Invitational—TONIGHT” it read in handwritten purple block letters. There was a pixelated saxophone image pasted underneath the words, “Brought to you by Mr. Thompson and the Oakwood High Jazz Band.” I brought my hand up to trace the edges. The poster board felt crisp and thick under my fingertips. I could smell the aftermath of the permanent marker. The loud reverberating voice behind me got softer until it resembled a deep echo I could easily ignore. I started to pick at the tape from the bottom left corner of the poster until I felt the sticky residue ball up underneath my fingernail.
Suddenly the life reentered my body in one abrupt breath when I felt a strong tug on my arm. I turned and saw Ethan Marks. Everyone else was gone. Had it been minutes this time? Hours?
“Andrea! Come on,” he barked at me, interlacing my arm, tucking it quickly under his. He jerked me to a standing position and pulled me down the hall, speeding up his gate as I stumbled to catch up.
“Where’s Josh?” I asked worriedly, but he didn’t answer. We were silent as we walked through the empty hallway. I lifted my gaze, trying to catch Ethan’s eye, trying to read his thoughts. His light blue eyes, usually sparkling with laughter, were steely and somber as he charged forward, dragging me with him, away from the wreckage I’d caused.
He stopped short and took a deep breath. His eyes were unyielding and dismal as they studied me, and slowly his frustration melted into a deep sadness.
“What happened, Andrea? What was that back there?”
“I don’t know…” My voice began breaking. My thoughts were muddled beyond recognition and I couldn’t form the right words, or any words, to explain.
Ethan wrapped himself around me in a gentle, firm embrace. It felt kind. And warm. And wonderfully different. My muscles unclenched for the first time in months, and I didn’t know I was crying until I tasted the salt as it stained my face. I buried my head into Ethan’s chest as he tightened his hold on me. I wanted him to say something, to tell me everything would be all right, but we both knew better. So we just stood there, Ethan supporting me as I clasped the back of his cotton t-shirt between my fingers.
After a few minutes, I fully returned to my body as my breathing calmed. I steadied my stance and took a step backward, shakily holding Ethan’s forearms as I regained my balance. Wiping smudged mascara from my pale face, I met Ethan’s eyes and quickly looked down, fixating on a crack in the tile below me.
“Hey,” he started, “Andrea … it’s…”
“I’m okay. Ethan, I’m sorry. I’m sorry you had to … I’m sorry I … ugh your shirt.” I motioned to the tear stains on his light green tee that crept from his chest to his shoulder.
“Oh God, don’t worry about that. Andie, I just…”
“It’s fine.” I wiped my face and took a deep breath. “Thanks,” I said, squeezing Ethan’s hand and looking in his eyes sincerely, so he knew I meant it. “I should go. But thanks.” I shook my head and turned around to walk back into the havoc and face what I had done. I felt Ethan staring at me as I left. He was just another person whose life would’ve been better if he hadn’t met me. I swallowed, took a breath, and kept walking.
It was over for now, that latest incident, and there was no way to tell when there would be another one … but there would definitely be another one. I was too broken for it to be any other way.
Christine lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband and their two children. She works full-time as a senior marketing manager for a large media company and holds a Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree from Western Michigan University where she studied marketing. Growing up in the chilly midwest, she developed a deep passion for dramatic writing and alternative music at an early age, which still peaks through in her adult-corporate-mom life today. Forgiven Are the Starry-Eyed is Christine’s debut novel.
•Tell me a little more about yourself? I live in the Los Angeles area with my husband, who is a film editor, and our two young children. I also work full-time as a Senior Marketing Manager at a large media company in Santa Monica so my days (and nights) are pretty consumed with motherhood and work, but I’ve also always had a passion for writing. I grew up in Michigan and graduated with a marketing major from Western Michigan University before finally leaving the chilly midwest to start my career, first in Virginia and then eventually settling in southern California. I’ve worked in marketing at both non-profits and big corporate entertainment companies, so it’s been a really interesting journey. A couple years ago I finally decided to pursue my dream of writing a novel, and Forgiven Are the Starry-Eyed was born.
•Can you explain a little about your writing background? I’ve taken a few creative writing classes for fun but never thought too seriously about it until recently. Every once in a while I’d have feelings that were so big that they needed to pour out onto paper so I’d craft them into poems or short prose and the itch to write more just got stronger and stronger over time. Writing always helped me make sense of my feelings and gave me something to refer back to later to remember exactly how something felt, both physically and emotionally, in exquisite detail. I loved reading, too; poetry, fiction, and non-fiction alike, and I treasured the feeling I’d get when I read something so beautiful, articulate, and relatable. It became my dream to write a novel one day, too, that could, hopefully, give other people an escape into words and a feeling that they’re not alone.
•Where did you get your inspiration for writing Forgiven Are the Starry-Eyed? Andrea’s story has been inside of me for a long time now and I can’t even express how good it felt to let it breathe and exist outside of my head once I started writing it down. I was inspired by a lot of things, some from my own experiences as a survivor of teen dating violence and some from the stories of many other teens who have suffered abuse at the hands of an intimate partner, whether it be emotional, physical, verbal, and/or sexual. A new study shows that 60% of teens in the U.S. have experienced some form of abuse from a person they were dating. This is a staggering statistic, especially considering it’s not an issue that is often talked about. It became my mission to spark a dialogue on this topic through a novel that could be crafted from the voice of a modern teenager. I spoke to many teens and adults alike, some who experienced dating violences themselves and some who witnessed it. Both groups felt helpless and isolated by the shame that spirals from this type of abuse, even if you’re on the outside looking in, so I created Andrea Cavanaugh to be a voice for this topic. She is a fictional character but her struggles and experiences are quite real and represent things happening on a daily basis.
•Are any of the characters or locations in your book based on your real-life experiences? The book is a work of fiction but the experiences that Andrea faces were created from true stories, whether it be from my own real-life experience, from someone I know, or from someone I interviewed for this book. Each act of violence is inspired by a real person’s life. That was important to me because this story needed to represent what’s actually happening in high schools across America, not just what my best guess would be. The most consistent thing I found through my research was the shame that survivors felt, the silence they were manipulated into, and the isolation that consumed them because those around them, even the most well meaning friends and family, didn’t intervene. While we are taught to look out for bullying nowadays, that knowledge doesn’t seem to translate if the bully and the victim are in a relationship. Dating violence can be more manipulative than typical bullying and it can begin more subtly, plus it’s easier for outsiders to view it as “relationship drama” or “not my business”or assume the victim is staying in the relationship by choice instead of by fear. I’m hopeful that Forgiven Are the Starry-Eyed can show the reality of what happens behind closed doors in these young abusive relationships and what goes on emotionally in a victim during and even after the relationship ends. Hopefully this will educate people on the severity of this issue, teach them signs to look out for, and know when and how to offer or ask for help.
•I understand you are a mother of a toddler and newborn. How are you managing being a debut author with such young children? It’s not easy! My daughter is almost 3-years-old and my son was just born a few months ago. I began writing this novel when my daughter was an infant, which is funny because that’s when my life started to be the busiest it ever had been since that’s when I was first learning how to balance motherhood and career, so it seems like a strange time to then take on the additional daunting task of writing a novel. But I think that having a daughter and experiencing the love that comes with parenthood and the desire to protect your children at all costs is part of what pushed me to finally write this story, even though I really didn’t have the time. I looked at writing this book, though, as something that would benefit my daughter in the long-run. I wanted to show her that women can do anything they set their mind to do and that her potential is limitless. I also wanted this story to one day resonate with her when she’s old enough to date, and I hoped it could help her understand that she is worthy of safe, respectful love. So I made the time to write it, which usually meant I stayed up late after everyone went to bed. Even though it was hard, it felt like an investment to me. I was fulfilling a dream of mine to write a novel without sacrificing my time as a mom or my time at work, plus I was telling a story that I think is important. I figured that in the long-run, I wouldn’t regret missing out on extra sleep, but I knew I would regret if I never wrote this book or shared Andrea’s story with the world. After a lot of work writing, editing, and pitching my manuscript to different publishers, I ended up signing the publishing deal with Evernight Teen when I was newly pregnant with my second child, and now working on the marketing of my debut novel while juggling two kids and my day job is definitely taxing, but being the mom of a newborn again reminds me how invincible women are. And having a son now just fuels my desire to get this story out there because I think it’s important that young men bond with this story, too. My goal for my son and all young males is that they understand their privilege in our society and learn how to be advocates and allies for consent, respect, and healthy relationships. It’s on all of us.
•What advice would you offer to a mom who desires to become a published author? Don’t give up on your dream and don’t assume that you have to spend less time with your children to make it happen. It’s not a “this or that” kind of thing, it’s about balancing. Think of the incredibly strong, brave, and intuitive things you do every day just by being a mother. It’s really awe-inspiring! So if you truly want to write and you have the itch to journal, or write a novel, or start a blog, whatever it may be, then I encourage you to make the time for it. Your voice is important. We all have to prioritize parts of our life so we don’t spread ourselves too thin, and while family is often the top priority (as it was for me), that doesn’t mean that you can never write, it just means that you may not finish a project as quickly as someone who can write all day every day, but that’s okay! Slow and steady is better than not at all.
•What is your writing process? I started this book first by creating the main characters: Andrea, Josh, Harper, Carter, Ethan, and Stephanie. Once they had names and faces in my mind, I wrote thorough character descriptions for myself to refer back to, so that everything each character did and every piece of dialogue was authentic to their unique identities. After that, I created a rough outline of where I thoughtthe story would go, and then I just started from the beginning. Music was a big part of writing this book for me, too. I created a soundtrack on Spotify of songs that represented the mood I was going for and songs I thought the characters would listen to so I could really get in their headspace. I let the story flow out of me, not looking back to reread anything until the first draft was complete. At that point I had the bones of the story all put together, so then it was about rereading and editing, which I did a lot of; sometimes it was as small as cleaning up a sentence structure and sometimes it was as big as cutting a whole scene and starting from scratch, or moving the entire timeline around. When I felt like it was in a good place, I began sharing it with some friends of mine who are high school teachers and had them help me secure some of their teenage students who wanted to help by reading and providing feedback, too. This was invaluable because they all brought different, unique, and important perspectives for me to consider and they helped me be accountable to keeping the story authentic to modern day teenagers. When I had a final draft ready, I started shopping the book around to publishers, and with that process came some additional notes and suggestions from industry professionals, some of which I accepted and some of which I chose not to incorporate because I felt like changing certain aspects would reduce the integrity of this very particular story I wanted to tell, so it became important for me to understand what I was willing to change and what I wasn’t. I realized that I needed to keep the plot completely intact for me to feel like it represented my ultimate vision, but I was fully open to constructive criticism on the writing itself. It then became about finding the right publisher who shared my vision and believed in this story enough to take a chance on it, which, I’m grateful to say, I finally did.
•Do you have a favorite spot to write in? Somewhere comfortable, like my bed or couch, where I can put my feet up, dim the lights, and listen to music loudly in my headphones. I like to feel relaxed, not pressured, and inspired to just see what wants to come out.
•What type of reader will your debut, Forgiven Are the Starry-Eyed, appeal to? The story was written with high school and college-aged young women in mind as the primary readers since that’s the demographic of the narrator, but I think it has a certain appeal to young men and adults, too, just in a different way. I definitely think parents, teachers, counselors, or anyone who works with teens could get something out of reading this book to help them better understand the mindset of teens in abusive relationships and educate them on how/why this happens. But since the story is written through Andrea’s eyes, I think people who can relate to Andrea will be the most interested in her story.
•What is your favorite genre of literature to read? I love dark, realistic fiction, both YA and not, especially contemporary stories about love, loss, friendship, family, despair, and hope. I’m a sucker for a good drama, especially when the protagonist is vulnerable, honest, and someone I really want to root for.
•And finally, what’s next for you? I’m not totally sure! I have a storyline mapped out for a sequel to Forgiven Are the Starry-Eyed but I haven’t decided yet if I’ll pursue it or not. I think it depends on the response to this novel first. If readers are curious about what’s next for Andrea, then I’d love to discuss a sequel with the publisher, but I’m open to the idea that readers may be happy to just let the story breathe after the way it ends in Forgiven, too, so we’ll see! I’m open.