Friday, March 24, 2017

Q&A Christine Hartweg

1- While John Dudley, the first Duke of Northumberland has a famous role in history, he is often eclipsed by his more charismatic son, Robert. Why did you choose to do a book about John?

In a sense, I always wanted to write about John Dudley ever since I read some of his letters, a very long time ago.   

2- What were the challenges in writing this book and how did you overcome them?

John Dudley actually ruled the country and he was a military commander, both of which is challenging for a biographer. However, I had done lots of reading and writing on his administration some years previously, so this helped a lot. Some primary sources, including letters written by John himself, turned out to be a goldmine, not least for the campaigns in Scotland. I love to include quotes so that readers can get a feel for how these people expressed themselves. There were some of John's own words, in letters and speeches, that I wanted to include at all cost. As there is so much material it can be hard to choose and not to leave out anything beautiful.    

3- Did you travel to any original sites to walk in his footsteps? If so, where did you go?

No. I had previously been to places in London like the Tower and Westminster, and also to Hampton Court and Windsor, but my personal circumstances didn't allow any travels more recently. I have nevertheless tried to give due attention to the many houses and castles John Dudley acquired during his lifetime.

4- What was the most surprising thing you learned about John Dudley?

That he (as a private person) basically went broke while in office.

5- What did you hope your audience to take away with the book?

I hope readers get some entertainment, apart from getting informed about the Dudley clan. I've included research about John's brothers and sisters, his nephews, and of course his brood of children. Generally, I'd be pleased if readers came away seeing John Dudley in the context of his time – alongside his friends and acquaintances, people like William Cecil, Thomas Gresham, or the Parrs and the Seymours, Bess of Hardwick, and even the Lady Elizabeth.  

6- If you could pick another time to live in- which would it be and why?

I am quite happy with the times I live in. I don't really find earlier periods more attractive, I'm afraid.

7- What impact did John Dudley leave on history that people can relate to today?

John Dudley was a pragmatist. He avoided war and even made peace with foreign powers because he saw that England could no longer afford those wars. He also decided to give up the fight against Mary when he saw it was useless, before any blood had been shed. He has often been accused of abetting radical Protestant policies, but he also successfully derailed some planned excesses, like Cranmer's canon law reform, which would have introduced the death penalty for adultery and entailed the mass execution of “heretics”. Lastly, John has been accused of cowardice or religious indifference because of his return to the Catholic church at the end of his life. However people like to interpret his conversion, as genuine or opportunistic, it again shows he was not a fanatic, which should appeal to a secular age.     

8- If you could interview one famous or infamous person, who would it be and why?

Well, I would certainly love to talk to Robert Dudley. I don't think he would give away a lot of information, but it would be fascinating to hear him speak.  

9- What are you working on now?

I am writing about the life of Amy Robsart, Robert Dudley's first wife who fell down the stairs.

10- What advice would you give a new author?

It's very helpful to really put work into your chapter plan. It's like the scaffolding at a building site, when the building site is your book.

Buy the book HERE

I'm in the mood for love

Nothing like Spring Fever to bring our the romantics.

Here are some of my picks if you're in the mood for love

The hero you love to hate

 Ren Lewis is not happy, and you know it from page one. Life in his well-ordered world has just been upended by his unrepentant little monster. Irascibly entertaining, Ren must deal with both problems at work and his unsettled household with his limited patience and coping skills. Sarah Noffke has the ability to take a cantankerous curmudgeon and make him not only lovable but leaves the reader wanting more. A suitable conclusion to a satisfying series.

Fantasy Love

Well-written, dark and spooky, Creatura is about what happens when the worlds of God and mortals collide. Isis Martin is plagued by bad dreams, leaving her feeling threatened. A monster visits her nightly, frightening her enough that her mother insists she go for help and take the medicine provided. Her problems multiply when the monster of her dreams abruptly materializes in school as a stunningly handsome fellow student. Isis learns she is really the invader than the other way around and their unlikely friendship develops into a romance. Nely Cab writes an entertaining book that should impress the YA crowd. Isis is sweet in contrast to David's stoic godlike gravity. **** spoiler alert**** Still, Cab needs drama, girl meets two-thousand year old god, they fall head-over-heels in love, god gets jealous.. Chances are he's not going to have 21-century sensibilities. While his possessiveness is off-putting, it has to be stressed this is a fairy tale that contains a romance, not a reflection of real life.

Erotica in Space

Dayton Bracknell is the guy in charge on a medical outpost on the backside of the moon.
Isolated and lonely, it appears he has only one thing on his mind. Everything he does, where ever he goes, all he wants is to make it with the female workers in the moon module. He misses home, the planet and the club he attends that satisfied his specific needs.
After making love to his sometime girlfriend Fi, their conversation boils down to,
"I ought to go," she said
"Why, no need, we're in a bloody crater on the moon."
They are stuck, isolated from the planet below, with a bizarre medical experimentation going on creating super soldiers. These super warriors have been modified, a cold and calculating scientist is studying the bizarre side effects that will soon have the entire module uncontrollably lusting after each other.
With the subtlety of Rocky Horror, Amy Hamilton has written a space opera that hits all the high notes of an erotic novel. Day and his crew face the virus head on and will be compelled to meet the new challenges or die trying. There are some explicit scenes, so be prepared.


Lana McKenzie knows what's it's like to crash and burn. Her life's been on a collision course with disaster for some time. Left at the altar by her cheating fiance, she runs into him at a local market with his new lady love and promptly falls on the floor in an embarrassing spectacle. Crushed and embarrassed she makes a break for it, escaping to the safety of a friend's home out of town.
Little does she know this trip will change her life. Another collision brings a new man into her orbit. Everything about Kayden Capshaw rubs her the wrong way. Spoiled and entitled, the son of a socially prominent builder thinks he can buy his way out of everything. The one thing he can't buy is Lana's affection. Forced together during a storm, a steamy romance develops. This time the collision leads to love.
Kayden's manipulative mother has other plans throwing Lana's life once again into turmoil. Lana is forced to make hard choices, protecting the man she loves as well as her own future. Full of fascinating characters, RL Jackson writes a contemporary romance with enough twists to keep the reader engaged from start to finish.

Art Lovers

Well written mystery about stolen Nazi artwork. Alderson constructs a credible tale, that could have been ripped from current headlines of a young art student, Zelda Richardson thrust into an uncomfortable position working with a hostile colleague on a project attempting to reunite artwork with original owners. When two women claim ownership of the same painting, she finds herself thrown into danger and intrigue as she tries to unravel the tangled past. Informative and fast paced, this is an interesting read written by an author who clearly knows her subject. Three-dimensional and well-developed characters with the added bonus of the Dutch location. I look forward to seeing what Zelda will tackle next in her art world journey.

Sisterly Love

Gus Stewart has had both her heart and trust broken. She heads back home to find her feet, picking up where she left off before she moved away to follow her dreams. By the Shores of Carolina is a story about life, it's ups and downs, triumphs and tragedies. Gus reconnects with her best friend Rae Ann, and together they lean on each other to ground themselves as well as the women around them. Together they create a network of support ensuring each has the opportunity to fulfill their dreams. Chick lit that makes a great beach or cozy winter night read.

You gotta love those Alfa males

Aislinn Kearns starts her book with a thrilling chase leading to a total surprise. Christine Ramirez is awakened with a warning call that she is about to be killed. The voice directs her through a hair-raising escape where she will eventually meet the person who saved her life. Paul is ex-military who has taken a job with a security company. Together they will try to unravel the mystery of who is trying to kill her. Not your run of the mill romance, Kearns' hero Paul is not what Christina was expecting. They end up fleeing together leading to a slow burn of romance. Kearns writes with a clear voice that creates realistic characters. It was an entertaining read.

Timeless Love

The Brandon
Excellent book that delves into the lives of Henry VIII's "nearest and dearest." Sarah- Beth Watkins goes into vivid detail about Charles Brandon's origins describing his humble background. She goes back several generations giving insight into his family's service to the crown, his great-grandfather a firm Yorkist. I enjoyed reading about his roguish ancestors, giving Charles a new depth other than Henry's bud. Mary the White Queen, Henry's teenage sister's all too short life is covered. The feisty teen is more than a pretty face, and her canny ability to hold off Francis's of France's advances is as cunning as a seasoned statesman. I enjoyed reading about Charles and Mary's life together, how they impacted the court in their quiet support of Queen Katherine and will admit to feeling dismayed when Mary dies at in her late thirties. Charles rebounds with his young ward and future daughter-in-law Katherine and manages to carve out a third act with her. When he dies suddenly, I think the whole court must have dimmed for Henry. I really enjoyed this book. The author injects life into what many people see as peripheral players. Mary was Henry's favorite sister, her granddaughter ended up playing a key role when Henry's son dies. Charles Brandon proved you didn't have to be royal to live like one. Fascinating reading. I went out and bought the rest of her books.

Happy Reading!
Carole P. Roman

Monday, March 20, 2017

And The Winners Are....

Reader’s Views Awards

If You Were Me and Lived in… the American West by Carole P. Roman
2nd Place

Navigating Indieworld: A Beginner's Guide to Self-Publishing and Marketing Your Book by Julie A. Gerber and Carole P. Roman
1st Place

Being a Captain is Hard Work by Carole P. Roman
2nd Place

Navigating Indieworld: A Beginner's Guide to Self-Publishing and Marketing Your Book by Julie A. Gerber and Carole P. Roman
The Book By Book Pub Award for Best Writing/Publishing Book

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Favorite Springtime Picks

Springtime gives us time to dust off the pile of books from the winter and spend time catching up on our reading. After all, can you think of a better way to do your spring cleaning?

Butterflies are always a good read

Ben Jackson

Charming, colorful, and sweet, If I Was a Caterpillar starts his journey doing exactly what a caterpillar should be doing, climbing trees, eating leaves, and traveling the world. Then his imagination takes off and so does his ambition. Now, caterpillar wants to do the things like wear a multitude of shoes or dance before the Queen, take tea with royalty, ice-skate and finally end all his activities in a toasty cocoon for a long nap, where he can fulfill his destiny as a beautiful butterfly.This is an adorable book about enjoying life and not be afraid of trying new things.

Spring Fever

I never read YA. I didn't even know it existed until I joined Google plus. I love historical fiction and buy almost everything I can get my hands on. I purchase, not by review, but by cover art. The cover interested me, and it wasn't until I read the first paragraph that I realized this was written for YA. What a great book!

Anderson captures your attention from the first page and weaves a gripping story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 in Philadelphia. She highlights characters from all walks of life, a grandfather, an African American, rich, middle class, poor. Captivating the sights and smells of the times, she weaves an engrossing tale of what life was like in colonial times. Building tension, she creates an atmosphere of fear and then hopelessness of the epidemic. A realistic read, it is timeless and should be required reading for any teen.

She deserved the award she received!

Starts in the spring of his life

A Gentleman in Moscow A Novel  Amos Towles

Elegant and refined, this book was a beautiful read. Count Alexander Rostov is put in house arrest to live his life in the Metropol Hotel in Moscow. The Count takes his sentence with the same savoir-faire that he lives his life. He continues interacting with the many denizens of the hotel, finding pleasure in new things, accepting his reduced circumstances with curious resignation. He is charming, never judgmental, and discovers a microscopic world to fill his time. As time goes on, he's role changes and he becomes an integral part of the hotel and the people surrounding it. The Count begins as a butterfly observing life with humorous detachment growing to become a fully invested worker bee, contributing and ultimately changing the lives of those around him. This was a beautiful book about acceptance and embracing what we are dealt in life then finding ways to make it work. I am a fan. Amor Towles writes with great humor and with a beauty I have never seen. Reading his book was as satisfying as a great meal and left me floating as if I'd danced a Viennese waltz. He made me part of his world and that's a great feat.

There's nothing like a good quiche in the Springtime

"Cosmopolitan! Pedigreed! Privileged!" cries Augusta as her rival arrives. "Vamp! Temptress! Femme Fatale!" Observes Lindsay. Little does small town native Augusta know, she's been judged and condemned by a writer from Boston named Lindsay. Lines are drawn and the competition is on.
Wickedly sharp, bitingly sarcastic, Eva Pasco creates an unforgettable novel about life in a small town. Charming Beauchemins, Rhode Island is stuck in a time warp. The same families have lived there for years. Secrets lurk in the shadows, and Pasco slowly reveals them with cleverly written prose. Addicting as the delicious quiche she describes, Pasco's writing is a treat to be savored and enjoyed. I will be back for a second helping.

Easy Spring reading

What Alice Forgot Liane Moriarty

I should know better not to pick up a Liane Moriarty book so late in the day because here I am at 12 AM wired from reading at breakneck speed. What Alice Forgot is like being on a speeding train, you are careening on a twisty, windy track, not knowing exactly where she is going. The ride is awesome! Alice is a 39-year-old stay at home mom, who has hit her head and lost ten years of her life. With brilliant precision, Moriarty unveils Alice's life slowly in a seductive dance, so the reader thinks they know exactly what happened, but realizes they have no idea. Everything is broken in her life, her marriage, each relationship is strained with no explanation to the woman who can only remember life before happiness dissolved into bitterness. This book was profound, one that we have to think about.
Just today, my family and I happened to watch fifteen-year-old videos, and we stared slack-jawed with shock, wondering where the fresh-faced, happy, and hopeful people in the videos went. Illness, work, disappointment, worry change the landscape of our lives in an insidious, devious way, leaving us to wonder what happened to our lives, while we were living it? Great book, a keeper.

Spring is time travel in history

Terrific and comprehensive book describing every aspect of life in Elizabethan England. Ian Mortimer leaves no stone unturned, discussing every aspect of life, from one's diet, to transportation, clothing, jobs- you name it. Jam packed with interesting information, the reader takes away the sights and smells of living in the 16th century. Each chapter is filled with little gems, nuggets to keep the reader interested and compelled to learn more. I came out of this book learning that the Elizabethan age was a turning point, where new discoveries and knowledge gave the world a nudge to grow into the modern age. Mortimer states "It is often said of Shakespeare that he is "not of an age but for all time"- a line originally penned by Ben Johnston. But Shakespeare is of an age-Elizabethan England. It makes him. It gives him a stage, a language, and an audience. If Shakespeare is "for all time," then so too is Elizabethan England."

Spring in the prairie

This is My Words  Nancy Turner

This book unfolds as time passes and grows with the writer as she blossoms from an uneducated teenager to a self-taught woman. It is the story of a family who crossed America to settle in Arizona and fight hostile natives, bandits, and the adversarial weather. There are births and deaths, sickness, marriages and heartache, happiness and most of all, the day to day changes that represents life. It is so well written, you fall in love with the characters as they grow and change over time. The hardships Sarah and her family suffer as they navigate their harrowing trip across the plains is heartbreaking as well was horrific. Written in diary form, it has a rare intimacy, as though you are reading about a neighbor, or relative and I felt strangely connected, invested in the outcome of their story. Sarah matures and changes as life throws her constant curve balls. Throughout the whole book, is the simmering love story between Sarah and Captain Eliot, the brave leader of her wagon train, who relentlessly courts her. We share the joys and tragedies that are the stuff of real life; and while this ends up being a tender romance, the realities of life do intrude reminding us it is a recounting of a real life, though fictionalized. Well written, with rich characters, this is a great read to be savored.

Spring Cleaning

Open House  Elizabeth Berg

This is my favorite of all Elizabeth Berg's books. It was the first one I read, and made me a huge fan. Berg captures the angst of the everyday woman, caught up in living life, that she misses the messages all around her. Stunned with the betrayal of her husband, she is reeling with insecurity. Her life ripped out from under her, she must mend her heart, and learn to trust not only other people, but herself as well. A moving book, you will laugh and cry and finally cheer right along side of Sam as she grows before your eyes.

Birds and the Bees

"The Death of Bees" by Lisa O'Donnell is a chilling tale of a drug-fueled dysfunctional family. Narrated by three characters, it begins with two orphans hiding a terrible secret in their yard. Fending unsuccessfully for themselves, they find love and protection in the most unlikely places. In this upside down world, parents are the villains and drug dealers and sex offenders turn out to be heroes. While I wasn't surprised by the ending, it was touching. What did bother me was the indifferent way the teens handled sex abuse as well as murder. Each child hid secrets to protect the other and in this warped world, every safe haven appeared to have poison deep within.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Author Interview: Meet Rohvannyn Shaw

1- You have a wide variety of books, what genres do you write?

So far, I've written fantasy, light horror, non fiction, historical fiction, hard sci fi, and a how to book. I write sci fi, non fiction, and fantasy most often. 

2- You illustrate as well, which books have you illustrated and how did your drawing impact the book?

I illustrated my fantasy novel, The Dice of Fate.  I also illustrated a novella called From a Summer Sky by Glynda Shaw, a holiday anthology, a childrens' book, and a few magazine articles.  I find that when I make an illustration for a book I have a much clearer idea of the world the book happens in.  It helps my writing be more consistent and more detailed as well.  For that reason, I think The Dice of Fate is a better story than it would have been, had it not been illustrated.

3- Which is your favorite character and why?

At the moment I really like Tom, a character from my recent novel "Rageth."  I like him because though he looks like a tall, pale skinned, heavily tattooed metalhead, and in fact he is the lead singer for a death metal band, he really has a good heart and a truly gentle spirit.  He's one of the more complex characters I've written about.

4- What, if any books are pulled from your life experiences?

There's a little of me in everything I write.  My main characters often know things that I have learned, or share some traits I have.  They are never pure "Mary Sues" because they have faults and foibles all their own, but they are like me in many ways.  I will sometimes use things that have happened to me and put them in my books.  For instance, in "Rageth," the main character does the job I do and some real life situations she encounters also happened to me.  

5- Who are your favorite authors?

I really enjoy Tom Clancy, Robert Heinlein, John Dalmas, Diane Duane, L. Neill Smith, S. M. Stirling, and C.B. Archer.

6- What books impacted your life the most?

Anything that taught me something about myself.  Biographies actually impacted me the most, I think, because I learned to admire some of the people I read about.  That helped shape who I was as a person.  In particular, the lives of Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart were very inspiring, as well as Winston Churchill.

7- It appears some of your books are humorous- which are harder to write, humor or drama?

Depends on my mood, actually.  When I'm in a dramatic mood, comedy is hard, and when I'm in a humorous mood, drama is hard.  These days I'm in a dramatic mood more commonly than comedic.

8- What is the hardest part of publishing?

Making sure the book is edited properly.  It's so easy to miss errors, even when I am working with an editrix.  They just creep in around the edges!  Still, my editrix is a life saver and I'd recommend her to anyone.

9- Where do you see yourself in five years?

I intend to have many more books on the shelves, a blog that has many more viewers and is much more popular, and I want to have at least one complete series out.  I want to balance my own work with helping and promoting other indie authors and artists.  That's something I'm very passionate about.  In five  years, I'd like to have enough royalties that I can count on them as a portion of my income.

10- What are you working on now?

Right now I'm working on a final edit of my humorous horror story "Rageth," a rough edit of a fantasy novel called "Silverwings," and I'm in the planning stages for a military sci fi series.

Buy the books here:

Follow her here:
Twitter:  @Rohvannyn