Author Interview: Lauren Baratz Logsted- EXACTLY what I needed to read!

Welcome readers!

I hope everyone is well, and staying safe in this unprecedented time.  As a blogger, writer, and literary agent, I have the thrill of finding great books…and I love to talk about them!  Seven years ago, I discovered Lauren’s book, THE BRO MAGNET, which is an absolute gem.  As I recall, I had just received my very first e-reader, a Barnes and Noble Nook, and one of the first books I read on that device was The Bro Magnet.  My post about that can be found here: https://smnystoriak.com/2013/03/09/the-bromantic-comedy-of-lauren-baratz-logsted/ The Bro-Magnet (The Johnny Smith Novels Book 1)

And recently, upon recommendation, I read her book, THE OTHER BROTHER, which I review here:  https://wordpress.com/post/smnystoriak.com/3575

Once I finished reading it, I reached out to Lauren, and she was kind enough to do an interview with me here on this blog.  Sit back, relax, and enjoy this little chat with one of my favorite authors!

S.M. Nystoriak:  It’s been 7 years since I last interviewed you on this blog.  Welcome back, Lauren!  Tell us:  What was your inspiration for THE OTHER BROTHER? The Other Brother

Lauren Baratz-Logsted:  Several years ago, I was on an online forum for readers – remember forums? – and someone mentioned Chris Jagger. Now, I’d always known Mick Jagger had a younger brother, who was also a singer/musician, but I’d forgotten about it. Suddenly, my mind began wondering: ‘What would that be like?’ Those of us with siblings, I’m sure are familiar with the competition of family holiday dinners. No matter how much you love each other, there’s always a bit of measuring against each other, isn’t there? Now, imagine you’re a singer/songwriter, and you’re even making a living at it, but your brother happens to be the frontman for “The Greatest Rock ‘n Roll Band in the World”? And then, being me, I began wondering what it would be like to be married to the less-famous brother…and then I began to write. To be clear, the characters aren’t the Jaggers – none of the characters in the book are real people – but that was the inspiration.  

S.M. Nystoriak:  This was a really fun, yet surprisingly deep story.  I found myself connecting with Mona, big time. As a teen, I can remember feeling the same excitement she did with rock stars, and as an adult, and a mom, I found her to be incredibly real.  Is there a character in THE OTHER BROTHER which you most identify with?

Lauren Baratz-Logsted:  Mona. I feel like she’s trying to do the right things, trying to make things right for other people. Yet she doesn’t always understand what her own motives are for doing certain things, and I think that’s true of a lot of us. One of the big themes in the history of literature involves the tragedy of the human condition: the inability to ever truly know another human being. But Mona ultimately raises the question, and I raise the question: Can we ever truly know ourselves? 

S.M. Nystoriak:  It is often said that writers should write what they know.  How closely tied are you to the happenings in THE OTHER BROTHER?

Lauren Baratz-Logsted:  I am not one of those people who say “write what you know.” If I tried to put that into practice for myself, all my books would be about a woman alone in a basement, writing books. That’d hardly be gripping on the page for 50K-100K words, would it? OK, that’s an exaggeration of “write what you know,” but I still find that classic bit of advice to be too facile and too easily open to misinterpretation. So the advice I would give people is: Write what you *want* to know. Write about the things you’re dying to explore. 

S.M. Nystoriak:  That’s an excellent perspective!  Well said!  When I was growing up, my family listened to a lot of classic rock.  The Stones, The Beatles, David Bowie, Elton John.  I also admired and followed the music of several 80’s pop stars, mostly British.  Duran Duran was an absolute fave when I was in my teens, but there were many others.  Have you always been a fan of rock and roll music?  Did you have any music idols growing up?

Lauren Baratz-Logsted:  My brother is two years older and when I was fairly young, he got a monthly subscription to some record club. So the first albums I was exposed to were all rock bands, like Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. I definitely enjoyed getting my pop fixes from the radio, but my brother’s taste set the template for my taste. Then, when I was 12, a close friend turned me on to the breadth of Rolling Stones music. In terms of idols, the usual ones for my era: Mick, Robert Plant, Roger Daltrey – British men with great hair and distinctive voices. 

S.M. Nystoriak:  How about now?  What kind of music are you streaming these days?

Lauren Baratz-Logsted:  HA! You’re confusing me with someone who streams music – I still have a flip phone! I listen to CDs at home and in the car: lots of classic rock; music from earlier eras than that, lots of Sinatra and some Billie Holiday; and – don’t judge! – “The Music of Nashville,” i.e., the TV show.

S.M. Nystoriak:  You crack me up!  As a musician myself, I can attest that those are some fabulous artists and genre’s!  OK…I have noticed a recurring setting in your books:  Connecticut.  What is the significance of Connecticut?

Lauren Baratz-Logsted:  I’ve lived my whole life in Connecticut, even went to college instate, so I guess that part of my writing really is, at least in part,  “write what you know.” But plenty of my books do take place in other states or countries, reflecting my own travels and interests.

S.M. Nystoriak:  Another connection:  In THE OTHER BROTHER, Mona and her family are from England, and they travel to Connecticut for a holiday.  I noticed you have another book which takes place in England, about a commoner marrying a British royal.  Have you ever lived in Britain, or traveled there?

Lauren Baratz-Logsted:  And I’ve written several other books that take place in England! In addition to the two you’ve mentioned, if my math is right, there are six others that take place in England. I’ve only been there once, for eight days in 1993, but after a lifetime of reading a ton of British books and watching an insane amount of Masterpiece Theatre”… What can I say? I’ve never stuck to any single genre or time period for my writing – I just write the stories I want to write and then set them in the time and place that the story dictates.

S.M. Nystoriak:  Nice!  Obviously, I have some more reading to do!  And, I also follow the mantra,”Write the book you want to read”.  I began writing seriously about ten years ago, after the stress caused by local and world events got the better of me.  My writing output increased dramatically during that time.  Do current events have an effect on your writing output?

Lauren Baratz-Logsted:  Short answer: yes. Longer answer: I’ve been writing for over a quarter of a century and for the overwhelming majority of that time, I could write through anything, good or bad, that was going on in my life or in the world. These past few months, though, with this tsunami of things going on, I’ve had to set my expectations for myself a bit lower. I just can’t work straight through like I used to. I mean, Twitter alone – when I first started writing, there was no Twitter. But now? It’s too easy to leave that open and before you know it, you’re taking a quick break from writing that turns into: ‘Wait – what did he say now?’ – or “What did they do?’ and that quickly turns into ‘Well, I’ve got to say something about this, I can’t just keep silent.’ Before you know it, well, there’s another hour gone. 

S.M. Nystoriak:  So true.  Alright…Last item!  Tell us about any other projects you might be working on.  What can we expect to see?

Lauren Baratz-Logsted:  Ooh, thank you for asking! This coming February 9, 2021, my 20-year-old daughter Jackie Logsted and I have a book coming out from Penguin Random House that we wrote together. It’s an adult comedic romance called JOINT CUSTODY. It does *not* take place in Connecticut but it is about – and written from the point of view of! – a border collie named Gatz. When Gatz’s beloved owners, The Man and The Woman, split up, Gatz resolves to do everything in his power to get them back together. But when New Man appears on the scene, well, complications to Gatz’s plans ensue. It’s a lighthearted book about happiness and what it really means to love. Here’s hoping readers have as much fun reading it as we had writing it. Thanks for having me!   

S.M. Nystoriak:  That sounds amazing!  It would be so wonderful to collaborate like that on a book!  You are fortunate, for sure!  Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions, Lauren!  As always, it’s a pleasure to dive into your books!

For more information, Lauren can be found:

Twitter

Facebook

Amazon

I cannot recommend Lauren Baratz Logsted’s books enough.  They are always, exactly what I need!

Let’s Connect!  Have you read any of Lauren’s books?  What authors do you read that always write “exactly what you need”?  I’d love to hear about it…Chime in below!

 

Audiobook Review: THE OTHER BROTHER, by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

The Other Brother

Welcome readers!

It’s been a while since I have put any reviews on this blog.  Heck, I can honestly say that I have never done a review of an audiobook…EVER…so, it’s time!

Faced with the possibility of a very long car trip last month, New York to Virginia, I wanted to snag an enjoyable audiobook to help pass the time.  I have been a fan of Lauren Baratz-Logsted since I read THE BRO MAGNET, several years ago.  So I decided to download her book, THE OTHER BROTHER, for the ride.  It turns out that I did not have to take that car ride after all, but still dealing with home-time due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the time was still perfect for a good listening experience.

THE OTHER BROTHER revolves around the life of a woman, Mona Springer, who is married to an amateur musician, Jack Springer, who is the brother of Denny Springer, who just so happens to be the biggest, most famous rock star in the world.  What must it be like to be the brother or sister-in-law of someone of that caliber?

Throughout the story, Mona narrates, telling the reader about how she had always been a fan of Denny, following the mags and gossip about the live-it-up lifestyle of the rock star.  As she grows older, and meets her future husband, she never realizes that Denny is his brother until her wedding day, when Denny can’t show up to be the best man.  The life of a rock star is demanding, and unyielding, it seems.

There had always been tension between the brothers, with Jack rarely even acknowledging his existence, and skipping out on the wedding cements those feelings. Mona and Jack go on to have two boys and a travel agency business, only seeing Denny on the rarest of holidays.  When Mona and her family take a trip across the Atlantic from their home in London, to Connecticut for the Summer, Denny shows up, unannounced, with his entourage in the dead of night with no explanation.

Overnight, Mona’s Summer family vacation instantly takes a sharp turn with Denny’s visit, forcing the brothers to spend some time together.  Denny’s existence with them runs hot and cold.  The relationship between them all remains awkward and uncomfortable for much of the visit, especially considering how the two boys, William and Harry (no royal relation…) don’t know how to even talk to their uncle.  Is their family summer vacation a wash?  Or will it end up being exactly what this family needs?

This audiobook was a real find for me.  As a musician, and child of the 80’s, I ogled over pop and rock stars of my time, fan-girling with the best of them.  Duran Duran, A-ha, Richard Marx, Bryan Adams, just to mention a few, were on the top of my list…  This story brought me back to my younger days!   I will have to save those specific tales for another post…or another book!

Also of note, the narrator of this audiobook had a truly expressive voice, and did a wonderful job capturing the witty style of Ms. Baratz-Logsted’s writing, which I have grown to adore.  As a fan of Ms. Baratz-Logsted, I can’t tell you how much I appreciated that.

This audiobook was a real treat to listen to.  I can’t wait for my next book by Lauren Baratz-Logsted…she never disappoints.  Highly recommended!

Here is a link to the audiobook here, but it is also available on Kindle and paperback! The Other Brother

Lauren Baratz-Logsted can be found:

Twitter @LaurenBaratzL

Facebook Lauren Baratz-Logsted Facebook

As always, I would love to connect!  Share your comments below!

Charlotte’s Take: The Calabiyau Chronicles by Diana S. Zimmerman

Hello, Readers!

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Today, I am sharing a book series review, as relayed to me by Charlotte, my 10 year old daughter.  The Calabiyau Chronicles is a series of books which opened the excitement of reading to my daughter.  When she was in the 4th grade, during her birthday month, she was invited to select a free book from a huge collection of brand new books that had been delivered to a classroom.  The way she described it, the selection of books was so enormous!

secret of the mists

My daughter searched through the piles of books, and emerged with her choice, KANDIDE AND THE SECRET OF THE MISTS.  The cover and the title are what attracted Charlotte to the book.  From my perspective, the book was glorious.  A fantastic cover, intricate artwork within, and written at a level which I was thrilled that my 10 year old daughter had chosen.  The book is fantasy, and features beautiful fairy-like creatures, winged and colorful.

According to Charlotte, SECRET OF THE MISTS was action-packed and exciting.  The most exciting part was when Kandide, the main character and heroine, arrived at the mists, and was attacked by the Garglan, a vicious, hairy creature with wings, sharp teeth, claws, and a long tail.  The Garglan also has creepy red eyes.  Kandide needed the help of wolves to escape it.

The Lady's Revenge

Her excitement about SECRET OF THE MISTS prompted me to purchase book 2 of the series, THE LADY’S REVENGE.  According to my daughter, THE LADY’S REVENGE is mysterious.  A princess, Tara, is captured, and frozen in a block of ice.  If the ice melts, she will die.  Kandide is in charge of making Winter, and so she changes the season to Winter again, keeping the ice frozen.  Kandide enlists the help of her brother to magically save Tara from the block of ice.

Masks of Deception

At the end of Book 2, Charlotte was so anxious for book 3…but it wasn’t released yet!  I had to pre-order it, and she was so thrilled when it finally arrived!  The title of Book 3 in this series, is THE MASKS OF DECEPTION.  This book, like the two other before it, features beautiful pictures throughout.  They are stunning.

Charlotte just finished reading it, and here is what she told me:  There is a war going on between Calabiyau, and the Banshee Kingdom.  She didn’t want to give me too many spoilers, but she did mention at one point, that the Fee’ have to enter the human world, and they get stuck.  This is dangerous for the Fee’ because in the human world, time moves faster and they age really quickly.  MASKS OF DECEPTION ends with “To be continued…”, which delighted my daughter.  We are hoping for a book 4!

It should be noted that there is a beautiful, intricate coloring book that coincides with this book series.  We also own the coloring book.  It’s truly lovely.

As a parent, author, and teacher, I was so happy to find a series of books which my daughter became so enthralled with.  I would also like to point out that when I reached out to author Diana S. Zimmerman about Charlotte’s zest for her books, she was more than happy to connect.  That means a lot to the readers who fall in love with characters and places of an authors creation.  Thank you for writing such a series for my daughter and other readers to enjoy.

Diana S. Zimmerman has a website for all things Kandide:  www.kandide.com

The Calabiyau Chronicles Series can be purchased on Diana S. Zimmerman’s website, or on Amazon

She can be found on social media as well:

Twitter:  @DianaZimmerman

Facebook:  Diana Zimmerman

100!

100

Welcome, Readers!

It is with heartfelt gratitude that I write this post.  Today, in my WordPress notifications, I got the best news:  I have reached the milestone of 100 follows to my blog!

This may seem like a minuscule accomplishment to many.  I personally follow blogs with many more followers than on hundred.But for this small town author, it means the world, and I couldn’t be more pleased!

I have used this as a forum to showcase authors and their work, to discuss both classic literature and new reads, to talk about issues that writers face, and delve into perspectives in the publishing world.  Through the years of my authoring this blog, I have learned a lot, shared a lot, and met a lot.  I am humbled by all of you who have read, commented on, and liked my posts.

gratitude

Thank you.

Thank you for the follows.  Thank you for the comments through the years .  And thank you for taking an interest in my writerly work.  I am beyond excited for what is on the horizon.  It continues to be an honor to share it all with you.

 

When All Else Fails…

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Good evening, readers!

This is not my usual Sunday night planned post, for a few reasons.  First, it’s not Sunday.  Second, this past week found me unable to produce much in the way of writerly thoughts.  And third, well, it’s pretty much tied to the second reason.  Stress, with some confusion and befuddlement over various goings-on sprinkled in for good measure.  No matter where I turned, it seemed, I felt/feel like things are off kilter and out of my control. And social media isn’t helping, at the moment.

So, to combat this, I did two things.  First, I read a book that had been on my TBR for a while.  I have been sharing my enchantment with THE LITTLE PARIS BOOKSHOP, by Nina George, on my various social media feeds, and a review of it will be coming soon, here on this blog.  *Swoon*…

And second, when I finished THE LITTLE PARIS BOOKSHOP,  I turned to my own work in progress; the one thing I currently have complete control over.

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My works in progress; conceived by me, researched by me, nurtured by me, encouraged by me,  and eventually released into the world by me.

To have these works in progress, gifts that they are, at my disposal is a blessing during times like these is a treat.  I can revisit my characters whom I adore.  I can rework my plots to my liking.  I can create something completely new if I want.  It’s a very liberating feeling.  Writers, or any artists, really, are blessed with this ability to create.  In times like these, I am grateful to have this ability at my disposal.

It’s true…When all else fails, I can grab a pencil, and be off in a world of my choice.

Mind you, I didn’t write a whole lot of new content this week, because, again, confusion, stress, and befuddlement.  But it was time well spent.  Stepping out of my world of confusion and into my writing world for a while did me some good.

Actually, it did me a lot of good.

Tonight, before putting this post together, I took a look at what I did manage to write this past weekend.  I have a secondary plot line developing, and am heading in for the home stretch of the book.  All awesome things, that came out of necessity for me when all else failed.

Thanks for stopping by today!

 

 

Novel Noshing: Foods Inspired By Our Novels and Characters, Part 4

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Welcome Back!  Today’s headlining picture makes me think of my favorite thing about autumn baking…apples and cinnamon.  Here in the North Country, Autumn is in full swing.  Cool, crips nights, and sun-shiny days illuminate the colorful trees here in the Adirondacks.  It’s the season for steamy drinks, comforting casseroles, warm breakfasts to get us started in the morning.

Which brings me to our featured author of the week.

For this fourth installment of my series, I present to you author Melody Winter, and her soon-to-be-released novel, INIQUITY.  Here is Melody, with a bit about her upcoming release.

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Village life for my characters in Iniquity is hard. Food is limited, and meat scarce. But the one meal that’s made every morning is a hearty bowl of porridge. The men need a filling breakfast to see them through a day working at the fields, and the women usually eat their fair share as well. The weather is cold, miserable and it often rains, hence a stomach full of warm porridge is a good start to everyone’s day.

oliver-twist

Athena mentions having to soak the oats overnight. This was a traditional way of making porridge. For each serving, the equivalent of 50 grams of oats was added to a mix of 300ml water and goats milk if it was available. The following morning it was cooked in a large metal pot over hot coals, stirring constantly until it boiled, and then stirred again for a further ten minutes.

Unfortunately, in Iniquity there isn’t much else you can add to the porridge as fruit and other plant growth is severely hindered by the lack of sunlight. The villagers only grow the necessities.

INIQUITY is due for release on the 25th October, available through amazon, or a signed paperback direct from Melody. The ebook is currently available for pre-order at a special discounted price on amazon:

Amazon.com: Link to Iniquity on amazon US  

Amazon.co.uk: Link to Iniquity on amazon UK

Email Melody: melodywinterbooks@gmail.com

About the author:

Growing up, Melody showed a natural ability in art, a head for maths, and a tendency to write too long English essays. Difficult to place in the world when she graduated, she pursued a career in teaching, but ended up working in finance. Melody is convinced the methodical times she spends working with numbers fuel her desire to drift into dream worlds and write about the illusory characters in her head.

Melody Winter lives in York, North Yorkshire, England with her husband and two sons. When not dealing with football, rugby, and a whole plethora of ‘boy’ activities, she will be found scribbling notes for her stories, or preparing for another trip to the nearby beaches at Scarborough and Whitby. With an obsession for anything mythical, Melody revels in reading and writing about such creatures, and creating her own.

 

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Book Review: OFF BOOK, by Jessica Dall

Hello Readers!

I read this book a while back, and just realized that I never posted my review!  So here we go:  OFF BOOK, by author Jessica Dall 🙂

Quirky, off-beat, but quite charming, I really liked the unique premise of OFF BOOK, from REUTS Publications.

Many of us (I expect) have wondered what it would be like to exist in a story, or what character’s lives might be like after the novel is over. But author Jessica Dall goes one step further here, and presents the reader with a world of characters before they are written into novels.

This pre-novel existence poses many questions to those characters who are unwritten. For example, when they finally get chosen, would their existence span a long time, as a main character within a series?  Or would their literary existence be brief, as in killed off, or somehow written out another way. What would happen to them, then? Another character reality…what if their author starts writing them into a novel, but never finishes it (writer’s block…)? What happens to those characters then?  Jessica Dall presents us with the perspective of a character, believing they may never be chosen to become part of an author’s book.

As both a reader and author, I have sat at both sides of the table: The author who brings the characters to life on the page, and the reader, welcoming the characters into my life.

From an authorly standpoint, reading OFF BOOK has given me the motivation to finish writing all of my novels, so that my characters, who I adore so much, will have some sort of completeness in their lives!  Weird?  Maybe.  But that’s my reality, and that is the hook of Dall’s book.  If you are a reader who enjoys unique character perspectives, check this one out. Highly recommended!

Book Review: Hearts Anonymous: Wittiness and grit, within a dark sweet fairytale

Jonathan Dunne has proven himself to me through the years to be a writer I can depend on, and his latest book, HEARTS ANONYMOUS, again delivers.

 

First of all, I love how Jonathan Dunne talks about the inspiration for this novel in the front of the book.  I urge all readers of HEARTS ANONYMOUS not to skip over that part.  What he describes in those opening words sets the tone for the entire book in a way that connects the reader to the impending story.

 

Now for the story.  If we consider the phrase “All the world’s a stage, and the men and women merely actors”, we get a sense of the premise of HEARTS ANONYMOUS.  The difference I found however is that instead of existing as actors on a proverbial stage, Jack, Jeanie and Ruthy are living as characters in a fairytale, whose lives seem forever entwined, and whose story remains unfinished.  Jack and Jeanie appear to the reader as star-crossed lovers, who are destined to be together long after Jack’s heart stops beating, but in this book’s fairytale twist, we discover that Jack’s life has a more intricate trajectory, that he, nor this reader, could see coming.  Surviving a rollercoaster derailment is just the beginning, as he and Ruthy travel together to the origin of a fairytale that they have become embroiled in, or rather have existed in, for quite some time.  The ending I truly DID NOT see coming.

 

Jonathan Dunne does a wonderful job developing the idea of a clock that can transport people through time. As the author of a time travel novel myself, I was intrigued.  The description of the clock and all of its intricately moving parts, I loved.  And the love story aspect was dark, yet sweet.

 

It’s no secret that I love the fictitious world of Jonathan Dunne’s novels.  He continues to develop Limerick and Old Castle even further with HEARTS ANONYMOUS, a treat for this fan-reader.  Not to be overlooked are Arthur Lawless, Bonnie, Mick Munroe, and Sinbad, who graciously have “cameo” mentions within this book’s pages.  HEARTS ANONYMOUS is written with the same sarcastic wit that I have grown to love and expect from Mr. Dunne.

 

In case you weren’t aware, there is an audio format of this book, which I have decided I NEED to have.  It would be really something to hear the author himself read the pages of this novel to me, in the way his author-mind intended.

 

I recommend this book to current fans of Mr. Dunne’s books, but also to any reader who likes a bit of a twist with their fairytales.