The Gypsy Moth Summer Julia Fierro from St. Martin's Press // MacMillan It is the summer of 1992 and a gypsy moth invasion blankets Ava...

The First Line of The Gypsy Moth Summer by Julia Fierro + Giveaway (US/Can)

The Gypsy Moth Summer
Julia Fierro
from St. Martin's Press // MacMillan

It is the summer of 1992 and a gypsy moth invasion blankets Avalon Island. Ravenous caterpillars disrupt early summer serenity on Avalon, an islet off the coast of Long Island--dropping onto novels left open on picnic blankets, crawling across the T-shirts of children playing games of tag and capture the flag in the island's leafy woods. The caterpillars become a relentless topic of island conversation and the inescapable soundtrack of the season.

It is also the summer Leslie Day Marshall�only daughter of Avalon�s most prominent family�returns with her husband, a botanist, and their children to live in �The Castle,� the island's grandest estate. Leslie�s husband Jules is African-American, and their children bi-racial, and islanders from both sides of the tracks form fast and dangerous opinions about the new arrivals.

Maddie Pencott LaRosa straddles those tracks: a teen queen with roots in the tony precincts of East Avalon and the crowded working class corner of West Avalon, home to Grudder Aviation factory, the island's bread-and-butter and birthplace of generations of bombers and war machines. Maddie falls in love with Brooks, Leslie�s and Jules� son, and that love feels as urgent to Maddie as the questions about the new and deadly cancers showing up across the island. Could Grudder Aviation, the pride of the island�and its patriarch, the Colonel�be to blame?

As the gypsy moths burst from cocoons in flocks that seem to eclipse the sun, Maddie�s and Brooks� passion for each other grows and she begins planning a life for them off Avalon Island.

Vivid with young lovers, gangs of anxious outsiders; a plotting aged matriarch and her husband, a demented military patriarch; and a troubled young boy, each seeking his or her own refuge, escape and revenge, The Gypsy Moth Summer is about love, gaps in understanding, and the struggle to connect: within families; among friends; between neighbors and entire generations.

The First Sentence of The Gypsy Moth Summer

Before that summer of �92, when the gypsy moths swarmed Avalon Island and Leslie Day Marshall, golden-headed prodigal daughter, returned with her black husband and brown children to claim her seat as First Lady, the island�s crimes were minor.
Using such a long first sentence was a bit of a literary risk but I liked how the entire novel was implied in that first sentence.

As a teacher of writing and, specifically, writing workshops on novel writing, I always tell my students that the beginning of any story, long or short, is hugely significant. The first paragraph, and even the first sentence, is where the writer promises the reader that this read is worth their time--time that seems ever-waning in our info-glutted Internet Age. I wanted to write a first sentence that would hook the reader's attention; establish an immediate sense of urgency, place, situation, tension; and promise that the summer of '92 is a summer that will change Avalon Island and its residents, East and West, forever.

About the Author


Julia Fierro is the founder of The Sackett Street Writers� Workshop, a creative home to more than 4,000 writers in New York City, Los Angeles, and online.

Her first novel Cutting Teeth, was praised by The Boston Globe (�at once modern and timeless�) and The New Yorker (�a comically energetic d�but�).

A graduate of the Iowa Writer�s Workshop, Julia lives in Brooklyn and Los Angeles.


Giveaway!


Books � la Mode is giving away one print copy of The Gypsy Moth Summer�yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is answer Julia's question in the comments below:
Where were you and what were you up to in the summer of 1992?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Julia and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

I wasn't even born yet! But I like to imagine myself as a cherub-faced spirit, peeking in on my parents getting engaged before the concept of my name had even been imagined.

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist and publisher�a huge thank you to the lovely folks at TLC Book Tours and St. Martin's Press!
Giveaway ends July 14th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada residents only. Sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ?
Good luck!

0 coment�rios:

I'd like to welcome Michael Mazza to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of  That Crazy Perfect Someday  from Turtle Point...

Interview with Michael Mazza, Author of That Crazy Perfect Someday + Giveaway (US only)

I'd like to welcome Michael Mazza to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of That Crazy Perfect Someday from Turtle Point Press!

Welcome to Books � la Mode, Michael! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

Michael Mazza is a fiction writer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. His stories have appeared in Other Voices, WORDS, Blue Mesa Review, TINGE, and ZYZZYVA.

He is best known as an internationally acclaimed art and creative director working in the advertising industry. Along with being named National Creative All-Star by Adweek, his work appears in the Permanent Collection of the Library of Congress.

He has lectured throughout the country and abroad, most notably at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. He has attended the Iowa Summer Writers� Workshop, the Stanford Creative Writing workshop, and the Wharton School Executive Education MBA program.


It's amazing to get to feature you today! Readers, here's a bit about the book, which hit shelves earlier this month:

The year is 2024. Climate change has altered the world�s wave patterns. Drones crisscross the sky, cars drive themselves, and surfing is a new Olympic sport.

Mafuri Long, UCSD marine biology grad, champion surfer, and only female to dominate a record eighty-foot wave, still has something to prove. Having achieved Internet fame, along with sponsorship from Google and Nike, she�s intent on winning Olympic gold. But when her father, a clinically depressed former Navy captain and widower, learns that his beloved supercarrier, the USS Hillary Rodham Clinton, is to be sunk, he draws Mafuri into a powerful undertow. Conflicts compound as Mafuri�s personal life comes undone via social media, and a vicious Aussie competitor levels bogus doping charges against her. Mafuri forms an unlikely friendship with an awkward teen, a Ferrari-driving professional gamer who will prove to be her support and ballast. Authentic, brutal, and at times funny, Mafuri lays it all out in a sprightly, hot-wired voice.

From San Diego to Sydney, Key West, and Manila, That Crazy Perfect Someday goes beyond the sports/surf clich� to explore the depths of sorrow and hope, yearning and family bonds, and the bootstrap power of a bold young woman climbing back into the light.

What was your inspiration for the book?

My son took to surfing at an early age. On occasion, we�d ride waves together. But then he started to surf big and left me behind. When he began to compete in the NSSA, the contest schedule dictated long and tiring trips up and down the California coast. I became a surf dad, carting him to each contest for nearly a decade. This is where I absorbed surf culture and witnessed the talented men and women competing first hand. I�ve never come across a novel about a professional female surfer and thought how much I�d like to write a smart portrayal of one living in a world of high-stakes competition and the family drama that comes with it.


As a huge fan of first lines, I'd love to hear the first line of That Crazy Perfect Someday. Can you give us a commentary on it?
My Charger clocks eighty-three miles an hour up North Harbor Drive, past the airport, headlights blazing, tachometer red-lining, the V8 roaring as if heading into war.
I wanted a quick sprint out of the starting blocks, a piece of action that created both intrigue and narrative velocity that plunged the reader into the story. From there I kept the character�s voice moving at a clip that mimicked the speed of her car. My hope is that the first chapter hooks the reader.

Out of all the fantastic books out there, what makes That Crazy Perfect Someday stand out from the rest?

To my knowledge, this is the first novel to give voice to a professional woman surfer. It chronicles what it�s like to compete in a male-dominated sport, the frustrations women face, the rigors and hope. It also exposes the reader to a surfing subculture many know little about and attempts to tell it authentically.

Give aspiring writers a piece of advice you wish you had known before getting published.

Brace yourself for an onslaught of rejection. It�s part of the gig. I asked T.C. Boyle this same wide-eyed question at a book signing. He swept his arm in a wide arc as if to describe the enormity of the room where he just lectured and said. �I could paper this entire place with my rejection letters.� Go online, and you�ll find lists of rejection letters to now famous authors. Read them for inspiration and then get back to work.

Readers, click "Read more" to find out Michael's favorite novels, his goals as a writer, and how he reacts to harsh reviews. We're also hosting a giveaway for a finished copy of That Crazy Perfect Someday, so you don't want to miss that either!

Name the top six books that have had the biggest influence on your writing, or on your life in general.

The first isn�t a novel but a book of short stories: Thom Jones's The Pugilist at Rest. It�s the book that set my writing in motion. It so impressed me that I immediately began pecking away at a keyboard. Even into adulthood, I still hear Holden Caulfield�s voice from The Catcher in the Rye. Both these books have voices so accessible it�s as if a live person is right there telling you the story. They�re immersive and unforgettable.

Two novels that also floor me are by Nobel Laureate, J.M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians and Disgrace. In my opinion, they�re about as perfect novels as you�ll ever read.

Finally, I�d like to point out two recent books that knocked me out�Viet Than Nguyen�s, The Sympathizer and Paul Beatty�s outrageous The Sellout. I cannot believe The Sympathizer is a debut novel. The level of craft is masterful�so deserving of the Pulitzer Prize. And The Sellout? This novel is so audacious, and laugh-out-loud-funny that it not only deserved the Man Booker Prize but it should get the Mark Twain Prize for comedy. I guess you can tell that I like novels with distinctive voices. Perhaps that�s how I arrived at Mafuri�s voice in That Crazy Perfect Someday.


The Catcher in the Rye is one of mine also, and the rest are going on my to-read list! What are you involved in when you aren�t writing?

I began my career as a graphic designer but segued into a much longer career as an advertising art and creative director. Chances are that you�ve seen my stuff. Lately, I�ve come full circle and concentrate my day job on design. On my website, you can see a set of nine vintage surf posters that I designed for That Crazy Perfect Someday. I�ve also designed the novel�s social posts on Instagram.

Those look amazing! It's so fortunate that you can have creative control over your own covers and promotional materials�and it looks so professional. How do you react to harsh or negative reviews to your books?

That brings me back to my advertising career. The campaigns I�ve created were always subjected to testing. I�d often sit behind a two-way glass window watching a dozen people in a focus group shred my work mercilessly. Over that time I�ve grown elephant skin. Negative comments don�t bother me, but rather, help me better understand what I�m not getting right.

In regards to negative book reviews, let me answer it in two ways: First, just like a movie, the story won�t be for everyone so I�m anticipating that. Second, the fact that I have a published debut novel that people can criticize is an absolute blessing. When one considers the alternative of not being published at all, well.


That's a very good way at looking at it. What would you say are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?

First, and I hate to keep stressing this, accept rejection. Second, keep developing your craft. Third, if you hit a concrete wall with agents and publishers, if it�s driving you nuts, then the self-publishing route may be the way to go. I have an advertising copywriter friend of mine who is self-published. He�s a great writer and now has eleven novels to his credit. He also has a huge fan base and is immensely successful. It�s a new world, and self-publishing is now widely accepted.

What are your goals as a writer?

I hope to sell enough books to publish a second novel.

What�s next for you?

I have two other novels in the works: one is in its fourth draft the other is half done. We�ll see where they go.


Lots of great content to work with. Where can you be found on the web?


Before we conclude this interview, is there anything you'd like to ask our readers?

What are the top three things about a novel that will make you give it a one-star review?

It was a pleasure to be able to get to know you better today, Michael! Thank you again for dropping by, and best of luck with future endeavors!


Giveaway!

Books � la Mode is giving away one print copy of That Crazy Perfect Someday�woohoo! To enter, all you have to do is answer Michael's question in the comments below:
What are the top 3 reasons you would give a book a one-star review?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Michael and I really want to hear your thoughts! :)

I rarely give one-star reviews, so generally I do give them, it's because I couldn't finish the book. The most common reasons for this are because:
  1. The writing quality is terrible, and it is obvious the novel hadn't been revised or proofread by an editor. Sometimes this isn't even biased, but rather, I simply can't cognitively process the poor sentence structure or redundant style
  2. I can't stand the characters; either they're inconsistent, talk in a weird/stilted way (not as a character trait but when ALL characters are this way), or are entirely one-dimensional and it shatters my suspension of disbelief
  3. The plot doesn't seem to be going anywhere and finishing the book would be dissatisfying or a waste of time
Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publicist�a huge thank you to the lovely folks over at Wunderkind!
Giveaway ends July 13th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US residents only. Sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar on the right for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide�there are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ?
Good luck!

0 coment�rios:

I'd like to welcome RaeAnne Thayne  to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of  Serenity Harbor  from Harlequin Books ! Welc...

Interview with RaeAnne Thayne, Author of Serenity Harbor + Giveaway (US only)

I'd like to welcome RaeAnne Thayne to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of Serenity Harbor from Harlequin Books!

Welcome to Books � la Mode, RaeAnne! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

I�m not one of those people who knew from birth she was destined to become a writer. I always loved to read and throughout my childhood I could usually be found with a book in my hands. To the disgust of my friends, I even enjoyed creative writing assignments that made them all groan. But I had other dreams besides writing. I wanted to be an actress or a teacher or a lawyer.

Life took a different turn for me, though, when my mother made me take a journalism elective in high school (thanks, Mom!). I knew the first day that this was where I belonged.

After I graduated from college in journalism, I took a job at the local daily newspaper and I reveled in the challenge and the diversity of it. One day I could be interviewing the latest country music star, the next day I was writing about local motorcycle gangs or interviewing an award-winning scientist.

Through it all�through the natural progression of my career from reporter to editor�I wrote stories in my head. Not just any stories, either, but romances, the kind of books I have devoured since junior high school, with tales about real people going through the trials and tribulations of life until they find deep and lasting love.

I had no idea how to put these people on paper, but knew I had to try�their stories were too compelling for me to ignore. I sold my first book in 1995 and now, more than 40 books later, I�ve come to love everything about writing, from the click of the computer keys under my fingers to the �that�s-it!� feeling I get when a story is flowing.

I write full-time now (well, as full-time as I can manage juggling my kids!) amid the raw beauty of the northern Utah mountains.

Even though I might not have dreamed of being a writer when I was younger, now I simply can�t imagine my life any other way.


It's amazing to get to feature you today! Readers, here's a bit about the book, the sixth installment in the Haven Point series, which hit shelves yesterday:

In the town of Haven Point, love can be just a wish�and one magical kiss�away...

Computer-tech millionaire Bowie Callahan is about the last person that schoolteacher Katrina Bailey wants to work for. As far as she can see, he's arrogant, entitled and not up to the task of caring for his young half brother, Milo. But Kat is, especially if it brings her closer to her goal of adopting an orphaned little girl. And as her kindness and patience work wonders with Milo, she realizes there's more to sexy, wary Bo than she'd ever realized.

Bo never imagined he'd be tasked with caring for a sibling he didn't know existed. Then again, he never pictured himself impulsively kissing vibrant, compassionate Katrina in the moonlight. Now he's ready to make her dream of family come true... and hoping there's room in it for him, too.

The town of Haven Point is such a perfect setting for romance. Is there anything about this place that continues to surprise you with each new book?

I love discovering the backstories of people I may have mentioned rather casually in earlier stories. It�s like having good friends you think you know but they can still continually surprise you! I also love having the chance to catch up with previous characters to find out what�s been happening with them since I finished their book. The town itself has become somewhat of a character in the series, full of rich, delicious secrets. I�m always uncovering something new!

Can you tell us a little about Bowie Callahan? Where did the idea for his character come from, and in what ways does he break the �handsome millionaire hero� stereotypes?

In order to make it harder for Katrina to resist him, Bowie had to represent everything she once thought she wanted�a guy who is rich, sexy, successful. He is also brilliant enough to completely intimidate Katrina, who struggled in school with learning disabilities. As she (and the reader!) begins to learn more about Bowie, she finds out there�s so much more to him than his outward layers. His childhood was tumultuous and uncertain, and everything he�s earned came from his own determination to be more. Bowie has this deep core of goodness and a hard-won sense of responsibility that make it impossible for him to turn his back on the young, needy half-brother he has just discovered. All those things make him perfect for Katrina!

Bowie�s young half-brother, Milo, has moderate to severe autism, Kat has epilepsy, and Gabi, the young girl she hopes to adopt, has Down Syndrome. What about these specific conditions were you trying to portray?

I wanted to show that all children with disabilities deserve a safe, warm, loving home with people who want to help them grow and thrive. In Kat�s case, I wanted to show that even though she no longer suffers seizures and outgrew them around puberty�something that happens to many children�the impact of that really shaped the person she became. As a teacher, it made her more empathetic to her students who struggle academically and also more willing to open her heart to children like Milo and Gabi. As tough as it was for her to go through as a child, she grew into a stronger, more resilient person because of it.

Which character in this book was the most fun for you to write?

I felt deeply connected to every character in this book but if I had to choose one, I would have to say Gabi, the little girl Katrina wants to adopt. Though she provides a strong motivation for every choice Kat makes in the story, Gabi only actually shows up in person (spoiler alert!) during the epilogue. That doesn�t stop her from stealing the scene! She was absolutely adorable, and the moment she stepped onto the page, I wanted to give her a giant hug!

What�s next for you? Are you planning more Haven Point novels? If so, can you give us some hints about what readers can look forward to next?

I just finished the next book in the series, which is the long-awaited (and frequently requested) story of Jamie Caine! He is a sibling to many characters who appeared in my earlier Hope�s Crossing series and it was so much fun to once more bridge the two series. For some reason, readers really connected with him, and I�ve had many people ask me to write his book. It�s been on my mind for a long time, but I had to wait until I found the perfect heroine for him. I never would have expected quiet Julia Winston to be the perfect one for this sexy pilot but, as always, my characters love to prove me wrong. Sugar Pine Trail comes out in October, and I really hope readers adore them together because I loved writing their book!

Where can you be found on the web?


It was a pleasure to be able to get to know you better today, RaeAnne! Thank you again for dropping by, and best of luck with future endeavors!

Giveaway!


Books � la Mode is giving away one print copy of Serenity Harbor�woohoo! To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
How would you describe you and your romantic partner? Are you a likely pair, or is it more of an "opposites attract" situation?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. RaeAnne and I really want to hear your thoughts! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist�a huge thank you to the lovely folks over at Little Bird Publicity!
Giveaway ends July 12th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to continental US residents only�sorry, everyone else!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ?
Good luck!

0 coment�rios:

Lowcountry Bonfire   ( Liz Talbot Mystery #6) Susan M. Boyer Private Investigators Liz Talbot and Nate Andrews have worked their share of d...

Lowcountry Bonfire by Susan M. Boyer Giveaway (US/Can)

Lowcountry Bonfire (Liz Talbot Mystery #6)
Susan M. Boyer

Private Investigators Liz Talbot and Nate Andrews have worked their share of domestic cases. So when Tammy Sue Lyerly hires them to find out what her husband is hiding, they expect to find something looney but harmless. After all, this is the guy who claims to have been a DEA agent, a champion bull rider, and a NASCAR driver. But when he turns up dead the morning after Liz and Nate deliver the incriminating photos, Tammy is the prime suspect.

Questioning the truth of Zeke Lyerly�s tall-tales, Liz and Nate race to uncover small town scandals, long buried secrets, and the victim�s tumultuous past to keep Tammy Sue out of jail and the case from going up in flames.

Giveaway!


Books � la Mode is giving away two print copies of Lowcountry Bonfire�yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
What is your favorite sport to watch?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Susan and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Soccer and football are generally very entertaining for me, most because I actually understand the gameplay LOL! I love watching the summer Olympics too: volleyball, badminton, rowing, etc.

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publicist�a huge thank you to the lovely folks at Claire McKinney PR!
Giveaway ends July 11th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada readers only�sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for the list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ?
Good luck!

0 coment�rios:

The Cottage at Firefly Lake Jen Gilroy from Forever // Grand Central Publishing  // Hachette Some mistakes can never be fixed and some secr...

Top 5 Ways My Fiction Was Inspired by Real Life by Jen Gilroy, Author of The Cottage at Firefly Lake + Giveaway (US/Can)

The Cottage at Firefly Lake
Jen Gilroy
from Forever // Grand Central Publishing // Hachette

Some mistakes can never be fixed and some secrets never forgiven... but some loves can never be forgotten.

Charlotte Gibbs wants nothing more than to put the past behind her, once and for all. But now that she�s back at Firefly Lake to sell her mother�s cottage, the overwhelming flood of memories reminds her of what she�s been missing. Sun-drenched days. Late-night kisses that still shake her to the core. The gentle breeze off the lake, the scent of pine in the air, and the promise of Sean�s touch on her skin... True, she got her dream job traveling the world. But at what cost?

Sean Carmichael still doesn�t know why Charlie disappeared that summer, but after eighteen years, a divorce, and a teenage son he loves more than anything in the world, he�s still not over her. All this time and her body still fits against his like a glove. She walked away once when he needed her the most. How can he convince her to stay now?

From Life to Fiction


Does my real life shape the stories I write? As an author, that�s one of the questions I�m asked frequently and although I don�t put real people in my books, bits and pieces of my life experience do indeed make their way into my fiction.

When I was writing The Cottage at Firefly Lake, I intentionally drew some aspects of the story from life. However, it was only much later that I realized there were deeper resonances between the plot and my lived reality.

From the obvious to the subliminal, here are the top five ways my fiction was inspired by my life.
  1. The dog. Dogs (and sometimes cats) recur in my fiction and these furry companions help my characters grow, change, and oftentimes heal deep emotional wounds. The hero of The Cottage at Firefly Lake has a rescue dog, a black lab called Shadow, and she was inspired by my cousin�s dog. In one scene, Shadow sits on the heroine�s feet and gives her the kind of unconditional love and wordless comfort that dog owners know so well. Her real-life equivalent once did the same for me at a hard time in my life.
  2. The place. While Firefly Lake is fictional, my depiction of the lake, cottage and small town was shaped by happy childhood memories of summers spent in similar places. Firefly Lake is set in Vermont�s Northeast Kingdom because my husband and I had several wonderful vacations there. With its traditional landscape and way of life, it was the perfect place for a story celebrating everything that�s special about a north country summer. However, the Vermont setting also allowed me to explore questions about how global forces can impact small rural communities, with related tensions between preservation and progress, and old and new.
  3. The path not taken. One of the (many!) wonderful things about being author is exploring different careers and life choices through characters. The heroine of The Cottage at Firefly Lake is a foreign correspondent. Although I was never a journalist in real life, in doing the research to create the fictional Charlotte (Charlie) Gibbs, I had a taste of one of my career paths not taken.
  4. The Jane Austen influence. When I first pictured Sean Carmichael, the hero of my book, he looked much like English actor Rupert Penry-Jones who played Captain Wentworth in the ITV television production of Persuasion, my favorite Jane Austen novel.
    It wasn�t until I checked the page proofs, though, that I realized there were numerous echoes of Persuasion in the story itself�a second-chance love story, interfering family, and a preoccupation with status and social class�all transposed into contemporary North America.
    When a reviewer also picked up on the Austen connection, I appreciated that my own reading preferences have influenced core themes in my fiction far more than I was previously aware.
  5. Life experience. When I started to write romantic women�s fiction, I had to look deep inside myself to learn how to write from my heart and be brave enough to let myself be vulnerable on the page. Yet, in doing so, I�ve come to understand that not only has my life experience shaped the person I am, it also inspires the stories I tell.
    Like many of us, it took me a long time (and numerous mistakes, regrets, and second chances) to figure out what truly mattered to me and live my life accordingly. Recurring themes in the Firefly Lake series (including the second book, Summer on Firefly Lake, which is out on July 25th) reflect my own experience of the healing power of love, the sustaining bonds of family and friendship, as well as the promise of redemption and finding a place to call home.

About the Author


Jen Gilroy lives in a small town in Ontario, Canada. She�s worked in higher education and international marketing but after spending too much time in airports and away from her family, she traded the 9-5 to write contemporary romance and women�s fiction to bring readers� hearts home. Jen likes ice cream, diners, vintage style and all things country. Her husband is her real-life romance hero, and her teen daughter teaches her to cherish the blessings in the everyday.


The Cottage at Firefly Lake, the first book in her Firefly Lake series, was a finalist for Romance Writers of America�s Golden Heart� award in 2015. It was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists� Association Joan Hessayon Award in 2017. The next book in the series, Summer on Firefly Lake, comes out on July 25th.


Giveaway!


Books � la Mode is giving away one print OR digital copy of The Cottage at Firefly Lake�winner's choice! Yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is answer Jen's question in the comments below:
The Cottage At Firefly Lake is a summertime book, and the fictional Strawberry Sensation ice cream (made by the local creamery) has special significance for the hero and heroine. In another instance of fiction mirroring life, ice cream (a soft serve vanilla/chocolate twist cone) is also my favorite summer treat.

What is your favorite ice cream flavor? If there�s one that gets more mentions than others, I�ll include it in the book I�m currently writing!
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Jen and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist and publisher�a huge thank you to the lovely folks at TLC Book Tours and Forever!
Giveaway ends July 7th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada residents only. Sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ?
Good luck!

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The Alice Network Kate Quinn from William Morrow  //  HarperCollins In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author ...

Exclusive Sneak Peek: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn + Giveaway (US/Can only)

The Alice Network
Kate Quinn
from William Morrow // HarperCollins

In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women�a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947�are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She's also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie's parents banish her to Europe to have her "little problem" taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she's recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she's trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the "Queen of Spies," who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy's nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn't heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth... no matter where it leads.


�I�m looking for Evelyn Gardiner.�

�I don�t care who you�re looking for. If you don�t tell me why I�ve got a damned Yank breaking into my house, I�ll shoot you. I�m old and I�m drunk, but this is a Luger nine-millimeter P08 in excellent condition. Drunk or sober I can take the back of your skull out at this range.�

�I�m Charlie St. Clair.� Pushing the wet hair out of my eyes. �My cousin Rose Fournier went missing in France during the war, and you might know how to find her.�

Abruptly the electric wall lamp switched on. I blinked in the rush of harsh light. Standing over me was a tall gaunt woman in a faded print dress, her graying hair straggling around a time-ravaged face. She could have been fifty, or she could have been seventy. She had the Luger in one hand and a lit cigarette in the other; she kept the pistol steadily trained on my forehead as she raised the cigarette to her lips and took a long drag. Bile rose in my throat as I saw her hands. Good God, what had happened to her hands?

�I�m Eve Gardiner,� she said at last. �And I don�t know anything about this cousin of yours.�

�You might,� I said desperately. �You might�if you�ll just talk to me.�

�That�s your plan, little Yank?� Her hooded storm-gray eyes surveyed me like a contemptuous bird of prey. �Burst into my house at nightfall, no plan, and I�m betting no money, on the chance I�d know something about your m-missing friend?�

�Yes.� Faced with her gun and her scorn I couldn�t explain why, why the chance to find Rose had turned suddenly all-consuming in my wrecked life. I couldn�t explain this strange savage desperation, or why I had let it drive me here. I could only state the truth: �I had to come.�

�Well.� Eve Gardiner lowered her pistol. �I suppose you�ll want t-tea.�

�Yes, tea would be��

�I don�t have any.� She turned and made her way back down the dark hall, walking long-strided and careless. Her bare feet looked like an eagle�s claws. She weaved a little as she walked, the Luger swinging freely at her side, and I saw she still had a finger through the trigger. Crazy, I thought. The old cow is crazy.

And her hands�they were monstrous knobbed lumps, every knuckle misshapen and grotesque. They looked more like lobster claws than hands.

�Keep up,� she said without turning, and I scurried after her. She struck a door open and flicked on a light, and I saw a cold sitting room�a mess of a place, grate unlit, drapes drawn so no chink of light could come in off the street, old newspapers and dirty tea mugs lying everywhere.

�Mrs. Gardiner��

�Miss.� She flung herself down in a shabby armchair overlooking the whole messy room, tossing her pistol down on the table beside it. I winced, but the thing didn�t go off. �And you can call me Eve. You�ve f-forced your way into my house, so that�s a level of intimacy I�m already disliking you for. What�s a name?�

�I didn�t mean to force my way��

�Yes, you did. You want something, and you want it badly. What is it?�

I pulled up a hassock and sat down, suddenly uncertain where to start. I�d been so focused on getting here, I hadn�t thought how exactly I should begin. Two girls times eleven summers, divided by one ocean and one war...

Giveaway!


Books � la Mode is giving away one print copy of The Alice Network�yay!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me in the comments below:
What is a mistake you have made in the past, that you think the rest of us could learn from?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Kate and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

This is quite general, but I have the type of personality that does not enjoy asking for things, or reaching out first (from really trivial things like texting someone twice in a row, to bigger things like complicated favors). However I realize that it is more of a flaw in my thinking than anything else, and am working towards getting better at initiating things. Sometimes, you just need to swallow your pride and meet someone halfway to really get what you want.

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publisher�a huge thank you to the lovely folks at Harper Collins!
Giveaway ends July 6th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada readers only�sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for the list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ?
Good luck!

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The Right Side Spencer Quinn from Atria Books // Simon & Schuster In this riveting new novel by the New York Times bestselling author ...

The First Sentence of The Right Side by Spencer Quinn + Giveaway (US/Can)

The Right Side
Spencer Quinn
from Atria Books // Simon & Schuster

In this riveting new novel by the New York Times bestselling author of the Chet and Bernie mystery series, a deeply damaged female soldier home from the war in Afghanistan becomes obsessed with finding a missing girl, gains an unlikely ally in a stray dog, and encounters new perils beyond the combat zone.

LeAnne Hogan went to Afghanistan as a rising star in the military, and came back a much lesser person, mentally and physically. Now missing an eye and with half her face badly scarred, she can barely remember the disastrous desert operation that almost killed her. She is confused, angry, and suspects the fault is hers, even though nobody will come out and say it.

Shattered by one last blow�the sudden death of her hospital roommate, Marci�LeAnne finds herself on a fateful drive across the country, reflecting on her past and seeing no future. Her native land is now unfamiliar, recast in shadow by her one good eye, her damaged psyche, her weakened body. Arriving in the rain-soaked small town in Washington State that Marci had called home, she makes a troubling discovery: Marci�s eight-year-old daughter has vanished. When a stray dog�a powerful, dark, unreadable creature, no one�s idea of a pet�seems to adopt LeAnne, a surprising connection is formed and something shifts inside her. As she becomes obsessed with finding Marci�s daughter, LeAnne and her inscrutable canine companion are drawn into danger as dark and menacing as her last Afghan mission. This time she has a strange but loyal fellow traveler protecting her blind side.

Enthralling, suspenseful, and psychologically nuanced, The Right Side introduces one of the most unforgettable protagonists in modern fiction: isolated, broken, disillusioned�yet still seeking redemption and purpose�LeAnne takes hold of the reader and never lets go.

The First Sentence of The Right Side


I�ve always been a big believer in the importance of the first sentence in a novel. Even if people�s attention spans aren�t shrinking, there are certainly more distractions out there. So no time for meandering our way into the story: we have to hit the ground running. And I�d submit that even in the more leisurely past the best writers already did that. Check out the first sentence of Kafka�s Metamorphosis, for example.

Here�s the first sentence of The Right Side:
�Just want to make sure I�ve got your name right.�
In quotes�meaning someone is speaking. But who? So there�s at least one question in the air right off the jump. We seem to be in the middle of a conversation. Many writers shy away from starting that way, thinking that the reader needs more explication first, or fearing the sludgy fact-filled paragraphs that will be required later to bring the reader up to speed. I never write those paragraphs. The facts the reader has to have, I fold into the narrative as invisibly as possible, like truffles in a cream sauce.

How nice if beyond hitting the ground running, the first sentence can help out in other ways�say by suggesting the theme of what is to come. (See Peter Pan.) �Getting the name right� invites us to start thinking about identity, and the identity of LeAnne Hogan, the wounded vet in The Right Side�to whom this first remark is addressed�is the heart of the story: who she is now, how she got that way, what will happen to her. The speaker is using �right� to mean correct, but there are more meanings to the word. Will LeAnne, like a foundering ship, be able to right herself, to make herself right? These issues are all raised from the get-go�and in fact are first suggested in the title itself. So the rightness drum gets banged twice, once in the title, again at the end of the first sentence. (And the drum feels like the �right� instrument in a novel that�s part war story.)

Was I aware of all these layers when I wrote �Just want to make sure I�ve got your name right.�? No, absolutely not! I just blithely typed it out and kept going. All the rest came to me during the writing, or after reading the first draft. That�s one of the strange pleasures of this business.

About the Author


Spencer Quinn is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the ongoing Chet and Bernie mystery series, as well as the bestselling Bowser and Birdie series for middle grade readers.

He lives on Cape Cod with his wife Diana and dogs Audrey and Pearl.



Giveaway!


Books � la Mode is giving away one print copy of The Right Side�yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is answer Spencer's question in the comments below:
Have you ever found a stray animal? What did you end up doing with it?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Spencer and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist and publisher�a huge thank you to the lovely folks at TLC Book Tours and Atria Books!
Giveaway ends July 4th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada residents only. Sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ?
Good luck!

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