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TJ Bown, Summerset Abbey, and Water.

In the brief teaser I tacked onto yesterdays blog post I let you know there would be a special interview today, and I’m not going to disappoint!  I had the chance to ask author TJ Brown a few questions in regards to her new release Summerset Abbey and the series it kicks off.  So, let’s jump right in!

TD:  Was there a certain event or idea that inspired the book?

TJ:  I have always loved the Edwardian period, but after Downton Abbey aired, I really wanted to write something in that period. I told my agent, we should pitch an Edwardian and she asked me what I had in mind. 5 weeks later I had a contract for a three book Edwardian series!

TD:  I know this is your first foray into historical fiction, did this pose any particular challenges or did you find it was a natural fit for you?

TJ:  It actually isn’t my first foray into historical fiction. Six months prior to getting the Summerset Abbey contract, I got a contract for a young adult series set in the 1920’s. So even though it won’t be out until June (Born of Illusion, June 15th!), I wrote it before the Summerset Series.

I honestly never thought I would be a historical writer, even though I love history and reading historicals. I just thought I had a more modern voice and the research intimidated me. But I had this idea that wouldn’t go away and once I wrote Born of Illusion I was hooked. Of course, Summerset is in a different time period, but before I started writing it, I figured that I had done so much research for the twenties, surely ten years prior couldn’t be that big of a difference could it? Was I ever wrong. 1914 England was a whole different world than 1924 New York. I had to start the research all over again! And I love it!

TD:  Can you tell me a little about your process?

TJ:  Usually, I start with a concept for a plot. Just a sketchy idea. Then the characters’ come. It’s rather like putting together a puzzle. And then my plot constantly changes and develops as I write. I’m not quite a seat of my pants writer, but the Summerset books have been unusually organic for me.

TD:  How many books do you foresee in this series?

TJ:  I am contracted for three but I have an idea for a fourth that my editor likes. Nothing is set in stone yet, and it may not happen, but I do have a fourth Summerset book in mind. We’ll see! But four for sure.

TD:  Do you have a favourite character or is there one who resonates more with you than the others?

TJ:  Victoria. In all of my books I have at least one over the top character and in Summerset Abbey, Victoria is the one. She is smart and imaginative and she says almost everything that comes into her mind. I adore her. Even though all girls are featured, Bloom in Winter is her book, and I had such an awesome time working on it!

So there you have it folks!  TJ Brown on her new book, Summerset Abbey, her process, and on writing historical fiction.  Now all that’s left is to drop a few details.  😉

Summerset Abbey is available at:

Book Blurb:

  • Summerset Abbey
    1913: In a sprawling manor on the outskirts of London, three young women
    seek to fulfill their destinies and desires amidst the unspoken rules of
    society and the distant rumblings of war. . . .
    Rowena Buxton
    Sir Philip Buxton raised three girls into beautiful and capable young women
    in a bohemian household that defied Edwardian tradition. Eldest sister
    Rowena was taught to value people, not wealth or status. But everything she
    believes will be tested when Sir Philip dies, and the girls must live under
    their uncle's guardianship at the vast family estate, Summerset Abbey.
    Standing up for a beloved family member sequestered to the "under class" in
    this privileged new world, and drawn into the Cunning Coterie, an exclusive
    social circle of aristocratic "rebels," Rowena must decide where her true
    passions-and loyalties-lie.
    Victoria Buxton
    Frail in body but filled with an audacious spirit, Victoria secretly dreams
    of attending university to become a botanist like her father. But this most
    unladylike wish is not her only secret. Now, Victoria has stumbled upon a
    family scandal that, if revealed, has the potential to change lives forever.
    Prudence Tate
    Prudence was lovingly brought up alongside Victoria and Rowena, and their
    bond is as strong as blood. But by birth she is a governess's daughter, and
    to the lord of Summerset Abbey, that makes her a commoner who must take her
    true place in society-as ladies maid to her beloved "sisters." But Pru
    doesn't belong in the downstairs world of the household staff any more than
    she belongs upstairs with the Buxton girls.  And when a young lord catches
    her eye, she begins to wonder if she'll ever truly carve out a place for
    herself at Summerset Abbey.

For more check out TJ at http://tjbrownbooks.com/

TJ Brown, author headshot

Author TJ Brown – Hooray for MomWriters!


Now, as if that alone doesn’t make one heck of a blog post, I still have more for you!  That’s right… we’re still in the middle of the January Photo Challenge – and I’m not one to give up on a challenge.  So here we are.  😉

The challenge today was to photograph water.  Easy peasy, right?  Yep.  Here’s the girl, immersed in the stuff:

kid in the bathtub

My little bathing beauty.

Let’s hope tomorrow is a LITTLE more of an actual challenge…

photo a day challenge for january

Something I’ve bought?  Well…  I guess there’s at least a little bit of thought to go into that one.  😉

 

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Good Morning!

This morning I got in some puppy snuggles before even getting out of bed.  Thankfully I keep my phone on my nightstand so snapped a quick “good morning” photo of little Bruce.  I do have to admit, I’ll really miss this boy when he goes.  He’s such a snugglebug – and I’ve always been one who loves an itty bitty little snugly baby.

Little Baby Bruce, Our Tiny Hulk.

Little Baby Bruce, Our Tiny Hulk.

 

It’s strangely quiet in our house tonight as suddenly there were just two.  With Rogers in Regina with his new family, and Thor having a trial sleepover with my Dad we only have Bruce and Tony home.  It’s an odd feeling.  I’d kinda gotten used to the chaos four three and a half month old puppies can create.  😉

I really do hope things work out with my Dad and Thor.  With Thor being Lily-Ann’s favourite, it would be really nice to keep him in the family.  And my Dad hasn’t had a dog that was really HIS in such a long long time… and Thor might actually get to accompany my Dad on his many out of town gigs.  With Thor staying, I’d also get to show him – which would be fun too.  I do have other options for him if it doesn’t work, but it would just be really nice for all of us if things panned out.

photo a day challenge for january

 

In addition to the challenge, tomorrow I’ll be sharing a very special author interview.  So make sure you pop in to check it out.  Her newest book is hitting stores and she’s shared a little with me about herself and what you can expect!

Pandora strikes Lily-Ann mute!

Okay, so y’all are probably getting sick of me mentioning the Goddess Girls series…  well…  too bad!  LOL  Today the challenge was to photograph something that I’m reading, and that’s what I’m reading.  Book nine:  Pandora the Curious.

Our copy of Pandora the Curious by Suzanne Williams and Joan Holub.

Our copy of Pandora the Curious by Suzanne Williams and Joan Holub.

Usually we’ve been inside the heads of the popular girls, but the last couple of books have taken us inside a couple of secondary characters (the girl and I ADORED Medusa the Mean).  Pandora, along with Medusa and Pheme are the anti-heroines to the cool clique of Artemis, Athena, Aphrodite and Persephone.  So it’s kinda fun to get to see inside their lives.

This book, in particular, is awfully special to Lily-Ann.  The first time she saw it she was actually rendered speechless for the first time in her five and a half years…  well…  since she uttered her first word (which happened to be “woof”) at three months of age anyway.  😉  What exactly caused her awestruck silence?  Take a peek:

There she is, the first name on the third line...  Lily-Ann S.

There she is, the first name on the third line… Lily-Ann S.

Kid kid managed to keep her wits about her when she saw that it was an autographed copy (she has a couple other autographed books too)…  but seeing her name actually inside the book?  Her jaw dropped and her eyes nearly bugged out of her head.  She just stood there and stared at it for several seconds, completely mute.  It was pretty amazing.

Lily-Ann LOVED the little heart.  :)

Lily-Ann LOVED the little heart. 🙂

So, that’s what we’re reading right now.  And I imagine we’ll keep on reading the Goddess Girls books for as long as Joan and Suzanne keep writing them.  I do have to admit…  I really look forward to the day that kid kid goes back on her own to read #1 all by herself.

You can keep up with Joan and Suzanne at the following addresses:  www.joanholub.com   www.suzannewilliams.com

Lily-Ann (hat hair and all) proudly showing off her Goddess Girls books.

Lily-Ann (hat hair and all) proudly showing off her Goddess Girls books.

 

Suzanne and Joan thank you so much!  You’ve given the girl and I many wonderful memories and are helping to build a love of books in a new generation – and that is something that deserves much appreciation.

Join me tomorrow as I share a little “happiness”:

photo a day challenge for january

We’ve Begun our Search for Wondla

I had forgotten what it was like to read something so beautiful that the words alone remind you of what it is to be passionate.  How they are strung together, the choice of each so careful and deliberate that your heart soars with each syllable.  So used to the simple choices of most children’s books I had abandoned the memory of things so attentively scribed.  Tonight I thrilled in the sublime usage of words divine.

Ahhhh….

Truly.

It has been so very long since I read something where the words alone thrilled me so.  We’re only two chapters into The Search for Wondla but already my writerly self is more fulfilled and ecstatic than it’s been in a very, very, VERY long, long, long while.  LOL

I’m sure for some folk this may not make even a lick of sense, but for those of you who do get it?  I know your hearts will be leaping along with me on this little discovery.  It really is so rare these days (among literature of ANY kind) to find work that makes your heart leap.  Awesome stories?  You bet, there’s a lot of them out there.  Fabulous characters?  Even more so.  Intricate worlds?  There are still a few new places to explore.  But words worth reading just for the sake of how beautifully they are composed?  It has been decades since I read something where the words alone made my head spin with possibilities.

I’m aware that The Search for Wondla is juvenile fiction, but if you’re any kind of word-nerd, head over to wondla.com right now.  Order a paperback, hardcover edition, or even the ebook or audiobook.  Trust me.  Like I said, we’ve only begun to dive into our search for Wondla – we’re only two chapters in…  and already I know it’s going to be unforgettable!

The Search for Wondla by Tony Diterlizzi

The Search for Wondla by Tony DiTerlizzi

Little Dog Lost: a must-have book for every child’s library

I’ve already blogged about We Give Books and their amazing program that allows you to both read books online for free AND to donate a book to charity for every one you read.  So I won’t go into it any more than I just did.  But I do have to share about one of the books we read today, Little Dog Lost.

screen shot from the book Little Dog Lost by Monica Carnesi

Little Dog Lost is based on the true story of the heroic little dog known to the world as Baltic.  I don’t know how many of you would have followed his story on the news a couple years ago, but I know I did.  As mom to some amazing furkids I found it absolutely terrifying to know this poor little one was lost out on the ice flows of the Baltic sea.  Thankfully his story had a very happy ending, and it has now been immortalized in this beautiful book.

As we read, Lily-Ann was so moved by the words and images.  You could see her concern visible in her face and body language, and hear it in her voice as she asked questions and read along with me.  The story asks “Is it a seal?”  And just as the book declares, she too would say “No!”

This one is one of the few children’s picture books that I believe will become a classic.  Definitely a must have for every child’s personal library, and a must have for every school and daycare library.  Wonderfully written, and gorgeously illustrated!

Go check it out, and give a book to charity at the same time:  http://www.wegivebooks.org/books/little-dog-lost?auto_launch=1

back cover from Little Dog Lost

Aphrodite and Isis – Two Goddesses of Love

We’re laying in bed, snuggled up together.  She eating a bedtime snack of applesauce.  Me reading our nightly chapters.  We’re on page 140-something of Aphrodite the Diva (one of the Goddess Girls books by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams).

Aphrodite is holding a contest for the mortal girls of Greece, when Lily-Ann exclaims “Hey!”

“Hey what?” say I.

“There can be two Goddesses of Love!  Aphrodite is the Goddess of love for the Greeks, and Isis is the Goddess of love for the Egyptians.  They don’t have to fight, they can both be the Goddess Girls of love!”

“Oh my goodness!”  I marvel at her wit, “You’re right.  I wonder what will happen next in the book.  Do you think they might figure that out?”

“I don’t know momma.  Keep reading!”

Seriously, is there anything more cool than the aha moments of a clever four year old?

A page or so later we read how Aphrodite is confiding in Ares, about how she feels about her part in the Trojan “incident”.  When another lightbulb goes off:  “Mom!  We’ve read about Odysseus before, in another chapter book.”

“That’s right, he fought in the Trojan war.  We’ve talked about him a few times, haven’t we?”  She nods her head enthusiastically.  “It’s neat when we meet the same characters in different books, isn’t it?”  She grins and nods again.

Lily-Ann asks “Do you remember the Trojan horse?” the wheels obviously turning, making connections.  Then she giggles over the brilliance of Odysseus and the lack of foresight demonstrated by the Trojans.

“I do.”  I smile at her and give her side a little tickle.  “Should I keep reading?”

“Yes Mom.”

We settle back in for some more cuddles and read on.

goddess girls bookmark - showing the covers for books one through six

 

Is it any wonder this is my favourite time of day?    🙂

 

Apparitions – a project to watch

An upcoming project has writers and other creative types buzzing.  It’s a new movie based on the book Apparitions by writer Raven Bower.  If you haven’t picked up the book, I’d say it’s high time you did.

Rumors abound on who might be chosen to play the lead character, Bailey.  The story calls for a strong female lead, and one can’t help but wonder if they will choose one of the usual suspects or cast an unknown.  Whomever is chosen will have their work cut out for them with this demanding role.

As a dog lover, and Canine Behaviour Expert, I can’t help but speculate on the part of Thor.  Hopefully with rewrites and edits, his part will still be as prominent as it is in Bower’s original work.  As Bailey’s constant companion, the heartbeat at her feet, her anchor and strength, the dogs trainer will be put through the paces.  Believability is key – and it has often been found lacking in movies that strongly feature animal actors.

This really is an exciting project, and one I will be keeping my ear to the ground over.  As one of the few who has read the original screenplay (and been sworn to secrecy) I can say with certainty, that potential abounds with Apparitions.  In a genre where actors, directors, and production teams have such a fine line to walk this one could become one of the great Horror movies of our day.

Read more about Apparitions and Raven Bower at http://ravenbower.com/

 

Way to go Dr. Coren!

Way to go Dr. Coren!  If your plan was to have your readers crying by page 13, you did it.  Kudos to you!

Jeepers.

LOL

I’m starting to think this book may be a tough one to get through.

It sounded like the truth and only cleaning up after a disease could justify using such awful smelly stuff to wash the floors and walls.  It was then that I finally began to believe that Skipper was really dead. I turned to the bucket with its malodorous disinfectant solution and began to damp mop every surface of the house that I could reach — no other dog was going to die in that house if I could help it.  I cleaned everything so vigorously that I could barely lift my arms at the end of the day.  That night I fell asleep dreaming of God sitting on a white throne, with Skippy curled up next to his foot.  Skipper was still my dog; he hadn’t run away from me because I wasn’t kind to him.  I was sad, but God was a  good person whom I could trust to take care of my dog until I got to be with him again.

Stanley Coren tells the story so many of us dog people already know.  Be it distemper or parvo or a host of other infectious canine diseases…  we all know too well the feelings that accompany washing down your home, feeling the pain of the life lost the fear of further loses and the hope that you have the power to prevent them.  But, on page thirteen, in the words above, that story comes through the eyes of a boy barely old enough for grade school – an experience I can only begin to fathom.

So, wish me luck getting through the rest.  An enjoyable, albeit emotional, read so far.  😉

Page 13 of Born to Bark by Dr. Stanley Coren

I love getting mail…

I love getting mail, especially when said mail contains items beyond those of the paper variety.  Like today.  😀

Today I received a large envelope with a book in it.  It was a complete surprise, wasn’t something I’d ordered or was expecting.  So what a delightfully happy mommy it made me to find it sitting there, stuffed only half way into the mailbox.

Occasionally publishers or agents will send me “review copies” of their clients newest works.  Generally these are canine non-fiction or green/eco titles they hope I’ll have time to read and comment on.  It’s something I love doing, and fuels my passion for all things natural and all things dog.

Today I received a copy of Dr. Stanley Coren’s latest book.  I’ve long enjoyed his work, and the one weekend I had a chance to visit with him was a real treat.  Granted he LICKED me in front of a crowd of about 60 or 70 people that same weekend…  but if nothing else, I can say it was memorable.

Okay…  so it wasn’t as lewd as it sounds.    LOL

That weekend Dr. Coren and I were both working at a pet expo.  I was manning a booth about Service Dogs, specifically those used to assist people with psychiatric illnesses, and he was there as a keynote speaker.  He’d asked me to help with a demonstration, during which I was to be the trainer and he the dog.  So, as evidence of his delight with my behaviour, he licked me.  Honestly?  I’m sure my eyeballs popped right out of my head when he did it.

A completely unique experience in my adulthood (thank goodness).  😉

That explained, I really am looking forward to reading his newest work, Born to Bark.  It’s the first time he has delved into a personal relationship with one of his dogs.  So while I’m sure it will offer people an education into the complex interdependence we have with domestic dogs, I’m looking forward to the anecdotes and first hand experiences that Dr. Coren has shared with his beloved dog(s).

Born to Bark, by Dr. Stanley Coren

Now all I need are a few days with 27 hours each so I can ensure I’ve got the time to sit down and read it.  😉  Wish me luck!

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