Welcome back, Readers! Here we are, in the fabulous fall season, officially! I hope everyone is faring well, between the changing seasons, and staying healthy! The weather here has been decent, for the North Country!
For the third installment of my Fall Blog Series, I’ll be sharing my interview with editor Vicki Lame, of Wednesday Books!
Wednesday Books is an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, which publishes a wide variety of unputdownable YA and Adult fiction. Vicki and I had a wonderful discussion about the publishing process, what her wishlist includes, and how she came to be an editor. I think you’ll agree, Vicki is an absolute rockstar, and authors would be lucky to work with her at Wednesday Books!
Vicki Lame can be found on Twitter @thedaysbetween
You can also check out @WednesdayBooks and @StMartinsPress, too!
Today on my Fave Summer Reads series, I’ll be featuring Part Two of my conversation with author, actress, and producer, Robinne Lee. Robinne’s book, The Idea Of You, is a swoony, beautiful, and emotion-filled read, that has kept me thinking about its characters ever since. While I didn’t read this book when it first released, I believe that this book came to me when I needed it most–during Covid Lockdown, when I was turning 50. It’s a real gem!
In the last post, Robinne and I discussed the inspiration for the story, as well as the rationale for how much of it was written. A link to that post is here.
**A note about the heat level: The love scenes in Idea Of You are steamy. Really steamy. Incredibly steamy.
For this post, we’ll dig in to the relationship between her amazing characters, Solene and Hayes, and what makes their journey such a beautiful, emotion-filled adventure. We’ll also get a glimpse into Robinne’s personal experience and connection to Hayes and Solene’s characters. My heart…Get ready…Here we go…
Writer’s Block: I am so glad to be able to continue our discussion with my readers today. Something I had on my list of notes for you was about the relationship of Solene and Hayes. It’s so multifaceted to me. It’s beautiful, imperfect, emotion filled. There are so many layers to their relationship all the way through to the very end. The end, by the way, nearly broke me. But, you know, for that reason, for all those different facets, I feel like the story really appeals to, and resonates with, so many people. I was curious what it must have been like for you, as the writer of all of these characters and all of these feelings that they were going through. What was that experience like?
Robinne Lee: It was a psychological and emotional rollercoaster, the likes of which I’d never experienced, up until that point and have not experienced since. It was very intense and intimate, and overwhelming. I felt that I was walking around constantly with different voices in my head, like his voice, her voice and my own voice. Like their thoughts would enter my head constantly, No matter what I was doing. It was very bizarre to have access to these people in a way that I don’t remember ever having before, as a writer. I don’t feel like any of my characters have ever been that intrusive. I was like, “You guys. I’d like for you to come to me when I’m sitting down to write.” I felt like they were there all the time. It was a little overwhelming and a little scary. And I remember thinking, oh my gosh, I’m gonna need therapy. I have these people living in my head, and they’re so loud that it doesn’t feel normal. I should probably talk to someone about it. (laughs). But I mean, I would cry a lot. Yeah, it was, it was scary. But then I was afraid that if I talk to someone, and I was “fixed”, then the voices would go away. And I wouldn’t be able to write.
Writer’s Block: Right? Wow, I hadn’t even thought of that. That’s a really powerful reaction.
Robinne Lee: I remember thinking, hopefully I can make it through. And I did. And it took a long time to come down, and to separate from it. There was a lot of crying at the end, particularly, the last two or three months of writing, partially because of what I was writing and partially because I knew I was coming to the end of my time with these people. And I enjoyed it, as insane as I felt. I still enjoyed having them around at times. And so, just separating was really difficult. I finished the book in February, 2016, and it sold in March 2016. It came out in June 2017. I wouldn’t say I really finally started separating from it until fall of 2017. It took me that long to separate. And then the book came out. And then I got this overwhelming demand for sequel.
Writer’s Block: Goodness! I don’t know what to say. I can only imagine. Here’s a funny story, well, I can laugh about it now… I was in the car, and I was listening to the audiobook at that time, and I had my headphones in. My husband was driving. The last part of the book was playing out, and I just started shouting in the car, “No! No, Hayes! You can’t !” It was just happening, and my husband was looking at me like, “What’s going on?” I was so emotional about that ending! And I just thought to myself, there has to be more, there has to be more. So I can understand the desire for a sequel. But if it was so emotional for me as a reader, I just couldn’t imagine as the person writing it. I just couldn’t imagine what that was like.
Robinne Lee: Yeah. Like I said, I’ve never experienced anything like that. Extraordinary.
Writer’s Block: Another question I had for you. So much about Solene and Hayes’s relationship felt like it was supposed to be taboo, right? I’m thinking about their age difference and gender expectations. I’m way closer to Solene’s age than I am to Hayes’, and yet as their story and romance grew. Somehow, I just felt like their relationship could possibly work. You know, it could possibly last forever. They connected together on so many levels. So, as the author, did you grapple with the expectation that a 40 year old guy could easily date a 20 year old woman, but the reverse is often frowned upon?
Robinne Lee: Yes. So, I’m gonna say I’ve always been attracted to younger guys. You know, when I was a sophomore in college, I dated a freshman. Then in another relationship, I was 25, and he was 20. And it was pretty intense. I got a lot of slack from my friends and family like, ‘This baby’s still in college’, and I was out of college living in the real world. To me, he was incredibly mature and sophisticated for 20. He traveled the world, he lived a little, he was really smart and well read and loved poetry. I felt like many things about him were just wonderful and mature. So much of Hayes’s character came out of that relationship. And, by the way, that relationship was the inspiration for the book that I spent six years writing prior but I could not sell. So, when I was writing Hayes’ character, I knew he was going to be this kind of precious age. There’s something really special to me about a 20 year old guy; they’re still boyish in many ways, but they’re, like, men physically. But, I feel like, internally, they’re going back and forth. The beauty of them, I think, is that most of them have not been completely destroyed (laughs); their hopes and dreams. And so, there’s this kind of optimism and hopefulness and energy, that you will not find in a 30, or 40 year old man, or a 60 year old man for sure. There’s something that’s really kind of beautiful; they’re not jaded in the relationship. Their eyes are still wide open. It’s such a great age to capture.
Writer’s Block: Yes.
Robinne Lee: I knew I wanted to make Solene old enough that their relationship was going to be a bit scandalous. I was 40 when I was writing this book, and I was going through a lot. I’d been an actor at that point for, like, 20 years, and suddenly, there was a shift in the kind of roles that I was seeing at auditions. Suddenly, you’re not the “Ingenue”, you’re not the “Leading lady”. You’re the part of the “mom”, or, you know, the DA, the police detective that comes in. Unfortunately, a lot of those roles were not very multidimensional. They were kind of like peripheral characters, and they just served the purpose of getting the story moved forward. They weren’t seeing the internal life of what it was like to be these women. And I kind of felt like, you really become a shell at 40.
Writer’s Block: Wow…
Robinne Lee: And then I thought, I’m black and a woman in this industry, and there are so few parts anyway. But now I’m black and a woman and over 40, and there’s nothing here. And I was also really angry at the fact that women were being portrayed so two dimensionally. I felt like I was put in a box. And I did have a moment, that was a literal box. I was sitting in a casting directors office. When you’re there, their assistants are calling agents about using this person for this part. And you’re hearing all this, and you’re supposed to be focusing on your role and in tune with what you’re going to do in the room, but you’re hearing all these conversations. In the waiting room, they’ve got lines of boxes of how to place their actors; where they put their headshots.
Writer’s Block: Oh…
Robinne Lee: It was kind of like “Children under 18” in this one, and here’s an “Ingenue”. And then it said, “Leading lady”. (Laughs) And those are broken down: “Leading lady-white”, “Leading lady-ethnic” and “Non-ethnic” or whatever it was. And then it was “Over 40”.
Writer’s Block: Oh, goodness…
Robinne Lee: At home that day, I had this epiphany that I’m now in the same box as Cicely Tyson. I couldn’t stop thinking about that for the longest time. I had this idea when I was writing stuff. I was like, that’s it! Solene’s not living in a box. She’s not. She’s not just a divorced women of a 12 year old. She’s gonna do everything. She’s gonna be an incredible mom, as well as you can be. She’s got an incredible friend, she’s gonna run this business and she’s gonna have like, this incredible sex life and have the love affair to end a love affairs. She doesn’t want to be placed in a box like, “You’re just a mom now. And that’s all you can do.” Sorry, this is very long. So many things were spinning in me during that time.
Writer’s Block: No, no, I get it. And I think that that’s what resonated so much with me in your book. Yes. Hayes’s the swooniest guy, you know, he is, and Solene, at 40, is this artist, traveling the world, on the arm of her swoony boy-band pop star. And that’s awesome! But, I was in my upper 40s when I read this, and I thought, “You know what? I’m almost 50… I’m not dead! (laughs) I can still be awesome!” So, I was glad that you tackled that age dynamic in the story, because it mattered to me, you know, it just mattered to me to be able to see it, and feel it. It helped me to see that I am not defined by any one thing, no matter what age I am. It’s just great that you tackled that notion. Thank you.
Robinne Lee: I mean, (laughs) it was necessary to put all my my own baggage in there. If I’m going through this and other woman turning 40 are going through this, I don’t see our stories out there, in this way. When you have these hot and sexy love stories, it’s usually somewhere in the mid 20s, like discovering it for the first time.
Writer’s Block: My gosh, well, thank you. This has been a terrific conversation. I just have a couple other questions. Did I hear there’s going to be in a movie adaptation of The Idea Of You? And if so, are there any details to share?
Robinne Lee: I don’t have any real details to share other than what’s been put out there in the trades.
Writer’s Block: Okay. That’s alright. Question: Are you working on any new books at this time? Or do you have any new projects, acting or otherwise going on?
Robinne Lee: I am working on a new book, but this one is not a sequel. That’s not to say I might not do a sequel eventually down the line, but not right now. I wanted to do something else before I returned to Hayes and Solene, I still need space from them. And that is coming along. It’s taking longer than I’d like, but it’s coming. And, yes, I’ve been working as an actor. I’ve got a couple of projects in the works. I’ve got something right now on a streamer called All Black, which is part of AMC. And it’s titled A La Carte. That’s available now. And then, I’ve got a project coming on Netflix, the limited series called Jigsaw. I don’t know the details yet about the release. I saw a rumor that it was coming in the fall. I’ve also heard it might be up here into the winter. Jigsaw stars Giancarlo Esposito and Rufus Sewell, and I had an amazing time working on it. I’m looking forward to seeing it. It’s got a really, really great premise and structure. I can’t say anything about it, but I think people will really, really enjoy it. And I’m so excited about that.
Writer’s Block: Finally, if there were one takeaway you would like my readers to consider, what would it be?
Robinne Lee: I wish I could say there was one specific thing readers should take away from reading my book — but there isn’t. I filled it with messages about female empowerment and sexuality and agency and sexism and feminism and motherhood and happiness and celebrity and fandoms and the toxicity of social media and so much more. So, if you plow through it quickly just focusing on the love story — you might miss it. Take your time.
Writer’s Block: That’s an awesome “Takeaway”: Take your time. It’s perfect. Robinne, I wish you all the success with everything. Thank you so much for your time. This interview has been probably one of the highlights of my life. When I get into a book as much as I did your book, it just feel this feels like a fantasy to me to actually get to speak to you, the author. And I just really appreciate your time. And I don’t even know what else to say, but thank you. I hope to have you on again when your new book is out.
Robinne Lee: Well, thank you. That’s so very kind of you. Thank you very much.
And that concludes my interview with Robinne Lee. Her book, The Idea Of You, is available in print, ebook, and audiobook. As a reminder, Robinne Lee, herself, narrates the audiobook, and it is FABULOUS!
Welcome back to my Novel Noshing series! Today, for the third and final post of the event, I am featuring Jen Gilroy, author of The Sweetheart Locket, dual timeline historical women’s fiction.
Jen Gilroy writes sweet contemporary romance and dual timeline historical women’s fiction—warm, feel-good stories to bring readers’ hearts home.
A Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® finalist and shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Joan Hessayon award, Amazon named her third book, ‘Back Home at Firefly Lake,’ a ‘Best Book of the Month: Romance’ in December 2017.
A dual British-Canadian citizen, Jen lived in England for many years and earned a doctorate (with a focus on British cultural studies and social history) from University College London.
Returning to where her Irish family roots run deep, she now lives with her husband, teenage daughter and floppy-eared rescue hound in small-town Eastern Ontario, Canada.
When not writing, she enjoys reading, ice cream, ballet and paddling her purple kayak.
About the Book/Inspiration–Jen’s own words!
What if the key to your present lies in the past?
From England and France in the Second World War to San Francisco 2019, “The Sweetheart Locket,” is a dual timeline historical women’s fiction story of love, loss & family secrets, intertwined with courage & hope. The family heirloom locket at the centre of the story is inspired by the “sweetheart jewellery” men serving in the armed forces during the war gave to loved ones at home.
Filled with heart, heroism and humanity, reviewers have called the book “a beautiful tale…[of] friendship, love and loss…[and] how three generations of women come full circle and find happiness.”
The Victoria Sponge or Sandwich Cake is a popular and traditional British cake. It’s also my own favourite which I have fond memories of sharing with English family and friends. As part of a book that’s my love letter to Britain, I included references to this cake in “The Sweetheart Locket,” my first primarily British-set story.
When Willow, the American heroine of the contemporary storyline arrives in England for a work trip, she’s also determined to find out about her British grandmother, Maggie’s life, including what she did in the war.
When Willow meets an historian at London’s National Portrait Gallery they have afternoon tea, a special British ritual.
“Willow took a forkful of cake, white with a jam and cream filling…called a Victoria Sponge.”
And as Willow discovers Maggie’s past, including her work as an undercover secret agent in 1940s France, Willow’s life also changes.
As expressed via my fictional Maggie and Willow, one of the book’s core messages is this one:
“Even if it wasn’t in a war, everyone had to fight some kind of battle what mattered is that you came out the other side.”
Victoria Sponge/Sandwich Cake (Traditional British recipe)*
170g (6 oz) butter or margarine
170g (6 oz) caster sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
170g (6oz) self-raising flour, sieved
Jam and sieved icing sugar to fill and decorate
Base line and grease two 19cm (7 1/2 inch) sandwich tins
Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius / 350 degrees Fahrenheit / Gas mark 4
Beat together the margarine and sugar until the mixture is light in colour and fluffy in texture.
Add the eggs to the creamed mixture a little at a time beating thoroughly after each addition.
Add the flour and fold in carefully with a metal spoon.
Divide the mixture equally between the prepared tins. Smooth the top so that the mixture is fairly level.
Bake for 25-35 minutes (or until well risen, golden brown and firm).
Leave in the tins for two to three minutes to cool.
Turn out onto a wire rack.
When cold, sandwich the two cakes together with jam and dust the top with sieved icing sugar.
*This recipe comes from ‘Church House Recipe Book: Love and Charity: Cake Recipes from Hughenden Parish Church, Church House Teas.’ High Wycombe, England: Fairprint, 2004, p.37 (Christine Rose).
Thank you so much for stopping by my writer’s block! I had a blast meeting these three authors, and learning about their latest releases. I can’t wait to try all these recipes!
Next month, July, 2022, I will be featuring a series on some of my favorite summer reads, including interviews with amazing authors who wrote the books. I hope you will join me here on my Writer’s Block for that!
This is not a writerly post, but it’s been on my mind a lot. The global pandemic that is Covid 19, AKA Coronavirus, has stirred up many feelings and emotions for so many of us. A few of them would be:
The school closures. The uncertainty of local businesses. The stock market. The sickness. The lack of adequate testing. The numbers. The ability to meet basic needs of families. It can be overwhelming to think about. Everyone all over the world is facing this crisis. No one is immune to this. It’s a current commonality we all share.
Strangely, I find strength in that. No one is alone in this. We are all in this together.
Amidst all of this, I am grateful. So far, my family has been lucky enough to stay healthy. And we have loved ones near us who we will check on, and who will check on us.
I am grateful to have family living so close to us, too. That is no small thing.
I am grateful for the community I live in, for their commitment to keeping people safe.
I am grateful for my school community, for being so proactive in reaching all of our district families, delivering not only instruction during this crazy time, but also meals and services to any who may need it.
It’s heartening to see everyone coming together in the face of a crisis. People are good. We need to support each other.
The feelings and emotions going through us right now are real, but we can get through this together. Neighbor helping neighbor.
This pandemic has everyone working together towards a common goal. And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.
If you could meet any character in the world, who would it be? Have they been written yet? Are you the one to write that character and introduce them to the world? This post is about meeting up with characters, old friends, and new amazing acquaintances.
As a teacher in the northeast, we are fortunate to have a week-long winter break. We are nearing the end of that break. There have been many years when we have taken family vacations to warm destinations with friends, but this is not one of those years. Even though we stayed home in the freezing cold temperatures, this was a wonderful week! A week to recharge, a week to relax, and a week to connect with old friends and new ones!
As an agent, this week, I was introduced to some amazing new characters written by some amazing new authors. New character friends, who I look forward to getting close to in the coming months. Strong characters, funny characters, troubled characters…they are all new and in my life for the long haul. These are new friends that I can’t wait to visit again and again.
Additionally, as an author, this week afforded me time to spend with old character friends as well. I went back and edited through some drafts of my own work. It was delightful! I missed Hans, Abigail, Tessa and Will. They are the very best type of bookish friends…the type of friends that you can pick up with, right where you left off last time. Fun trips down memory lane abound, which can be relived again and again.
It’s my absolute favorite part of being a writer. I get to spend time with amazing people and places, over and over again. Vacations are the very best times for that, and I am grateful for every one.
Question for you: Do you have any character friends that you can’t wait to spend time with during vacations? Are they your characters, or other author’s?
Chime in with your response below! I love to connect with my readers!
So much has changed in my life, some, writerly changes, and some others, and this seems to be the perfect time to both reflect, and share some dreams and goals.
Change #1: I am now the mom of a 3rd-year-college-student! My 3rd-year-college-student is currently on a dream of a co-op with an amazing company, and living away from home. That has been a huge adjustment for our family, but I am gratified by how well things are going with it. It’s beautiful to watch him reaching his dreams.
Change #2: I am also now the mom of a brand-new-teenager! My brand-new-teenager dreams of a life with the theater arts. She enjoys working in the dramatic arts, with theatrical makeup and costumes, and reading magical realism. This has not been any kind of adjustment for our family, as she has always enjoyed these things, but as we are now embarking into the teenage years, I am also gratified at how well things are going with it. With every rehearsal, she is working towards her goals and dreams, and I couldn’t be more proud.
Change #3: I am a Literary Agent with Golden Wheat Literary Agency. Setting that goal, completing the training, and working with clients has been a dream and a passion for me for some time. As an agent with Golden Wheat Literary Agency, I work with some truly wonderful clients, and I can’t wait to share their work with the world.
One of my favorite parts of the writing process is the editing. I have blogged about that before, and my feelings on that topic still ring true today. As an author, I strive to polish and shine my manuscripts, and working my manuscripts until they are ready for submission. I have a couple of manuscripts that have been placed aside for a bit. A goal for myself this year is to finally (FINALLY!) complete one book of of my Harbor Bells Trilogy. More about that in a future post!
That’s about it. I’ll be working this year on goals and dreams with my family, my clients, and myself. What goals and dreams do you have for 2020? Share them below! I’d love to connect!
It’s hard to believe that 2017 is almost over, but it is. The weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years always pass with a fury around here, reminding me of a certain holiday fave:
5 Holiday Gatherings
4 Family Birthdays
3 Winter Concerts
2 Events at Daughter’s School
Then, One Day til it’s Back To School
The fact that I am a music educator by day has a lot to do with the feverish pace of this season. Report cards, concerts at school, rehearsals after school, etc, mean that the already hectic, but festive, season is all the more so. I admit to the neglecting of this blog during this time of year, but sometimes it can’t be helped.
However, it also affords me time for reflection on 2017, and goal-setting for the year to come. Thoughts of my hopes and dreams, and realities which are just on the horizon. I can finally see from where I stand today, and that is a glorious feeling!
It’s going to be a big year, I think, for me as a writer. My Contemporary Time Travel, WORDS IN THE WINDOWSILL is due to be released sometime this year. My agent is working with me on #PrisonBreakADK to get it ready for submission, I am “this close” to finishing up Book One of my Harbor Bells Trilogy, and I have yet another novel idea just begging to be plotted out (When the idea for it came to me, it woke me from a dead sleep, insisting I write it down).
I literally cannot wait to see where this year takes me.
Happy New Year, everyone! Do you have anything coming along in 2018 that you are excited about? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
Wow! I can’t believe it’s the end of August already. As a teacher, my life is scheduled based on a calendar that has very little fluctuation each year, and my writing life fits within that calendar as well. As the month of June ticks by, I make plans for what my writing goals will be. I sketch out a schedule, (which I follow pretty well), which includes writing time to reach those goals as well as other goals.
This Summer, my goals were lofty and numerous, but I am happy to say that I feel as though I was successful reaching those goals and more.
In June, I completed my draft of Misty Dawn and Violet, which had been in a state of “partially done” for a really long time. Long story short, when I get an idea for a story, I stop everything to get it started. Needless to say, I had a number of partially finished at the start of this Summer. In June, Misty Dawn and Violet made it to completion in June, and is in the hands of my agent! It is a humorous romp of a story, and I can’t wait to share it with you!
July brought with it several new experiences for me and my family. My daughter, who is ten, got involved with a local theater group. For two weeks, she rehearsed for three hours a day, and at the end of that they performed Cinderella Kids. Fantabulous!!!
Additionally, the month of July provided me the opportunity of a lifetime. As you may know, I had been working on a novel inspired by the prison break that happened in 2015. It was a very scary time, and even though I knew I had to write because of the event, it actually took a while for me to get to a place within myself to get it all out. That novel had been sitting in the “partially done” pile. On July 22, I had the opportunity to audition for Ben Stiller’s Showtime Mini-Series, Escape From Dannemora! So that was awesome… Auditioning for the mini-series was a highlight of my life, and it was just the inspiration I needed to jump back into writing #PrisonBreakADK.
August came, and my son was preparing to head off to his freshman year of college…away from home. Before moving him onto his campus, we took a family vacation to NYC, which exceeded all of our expectations. Central Park, Times Square, The Zoo, Stomp, 5th Avenue…there was inspiration around every corner.
It was during that trip that I discovered the magic of train travel. With #PrisonBreakADK nearly complete, I was able to work comfortably on the train as we chugged down the tracks to Penn Station. I don’t know how to explain it, but there is something romantic about train travel, and the process of writing, in itself, was such a beautiful experience. I highly recommend it. I am happy to report that #PrisonBreakADK has moved from the “partially done” pile and into my agent’s hands.
Now, Summer is nearly over. My son is all settled into his college life, and all is well. I will be welcoming a new crew of band students soon, and I will create a new schedule for my writing life that will fit into my teaching life. Little by little, I’ll whittle away at the next project on my “partially done” pile, The First Harbor Bell. If all goes well, I will be able to send it to my agent by Christmas.
Let’s connect! How was your Summer? Did you meet any writing goals? Please share them in the comments below!
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!
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.
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.
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.
This is typically a blog about books and writers, and my journey through publishing. However, today, I have something different to share, and it is a doozy!
A couple of years ago, there was an escape at the maximum security prison near my home. The event rocked the North Country for three weeks, shackling its residents with fear. It made national headlines. The drama that unfolded during that time was something my little corner of the world had never experienced, and was the stuff Hollywood scripts are made of.
Once I got a grip on my fear during the escape, I began to write, because that’s what I do. I journaled, I blogged about it, and I began to formulate a novel; fiction inspired by my events and experiences during that time. The book will be called #PrisonBreakADK, and the first draft is nearly complete.
This past year, it was announced in the news that Ben Stiller (BEN STILLER!!!) had pitched an idea for a mini-series about the escape to Showtime, and we found out recently that the project is moving forward. This has been big news for my sleepy little town, because as part of the production, they held auditions for extras here, just yesterday, and I was a part of it!
I have been involved in a number of theatrical productions through the years, but those productions are musicals, and my role is to be a musician in the pit. Never have I been on stage, reciting lines. Ever…at all. But when the announcement was made about the open casting call for extras, I just knew I needed to be a part of it.
Here is what I experienced:
It had been reported that the casting call was to begin at 10:00, but my friend Christina and I arrived at 9:00. When we got there, the line already stretched around the city block. We were numbers 76 and 78 in the queue. By the end of the day, the number of hopeful actors topped one-thousand, which was way more than anyone expected. The photo below was taken while we were on line, around the block from the theater.
While we waited on line to enter the theater, we conversed with the others, getting to relive the prison break days. Every one of us there, had shared in the same experience those years before, and talking about it made me realize how so many of us were affected profoundly. In line with us were officers who took part in the search, residents of the local area, like me, who experienced the helicopter searches and k-9 units patrolling our wooded areas, investigators and reporters who had been involved in the search and media, the shop owners who fed the workers in the search…It was nice to talk to those folks about our experiences.
It took a while for the casting company to get organized, considering it hadn’t expected the number of auditioners, but once they were ready, we were lined up by number, filled out paperwork, and took headshots. Below, the photo was taken after we had our headshots, and shows my vantage point from the waiting area to the left of the stage. You can see the line of people waiting for their headshots.
From there, we were seated in another part of the theater, and waited for the interview process. The next pictures show us waiting for the interview to start.
The interview was pretty short, and while we answered questions about our profession, where we were from, our hobbies and interests, etc, the casting director sized us up, organized us into groups. Our groups were directed below the theater stage where we would have to read a script.
Yes, a script.
This may sound unbelievable, but I hadn’t expected to have to read one. So, yes, I got super nervous at that point. I wanted to be an extra…in the background! It turned out that there were still a few cast parts with speaking lines left to fill. Smaller roles with limited lines and such. So, with trembling hands, I took the script they handed me, and began to study it. I was to read the lines as “clerk”.
I tried to convince myself that I could rock it. I am a writer, and a teacher of the performing arts, albeit music. I could do this!
As I mentioned, this was the absolute first time I had ever read a script so I could perform in a production of anything. I have, however, worked on writing a screenplay with someone who was adapting one of my novels, but that is pretty much it. So there I was, sitting in a hallway in the basement of a theater, studying my lines.
When it was my turn, I was called into a small room. There was a video camera set up, and a man who was going to read the lines with me. I hadn’t expected a camera. Cue: internal freak out #97 for the day. I ended up reading the lines four times, until there was a decent enough take.
For Christina and I, the process took about three hours. It took longer for others.
I have to say, kudos to actors. To be able to pull inflection and “attitude” from just a script with a few lines on it is actually really difficult. As a writer, I didn’t expect that. Thinking and writing what you want is far different that performing what you want. Believe me.
In the end, my friend Christina got a call-back! While I have not, I am super proud that I had the courage to take part in the open casting call. I felt that I needed to do it as part of having closure with the prison break. I don’t know if I will get cast as an extra or not, but, even if I don’t, I can mark “Audition for a TV Mini-Series” off my bucket list..and I only realized it was on there a couple of weeks ago!
I send my gratitude to Ben Stiller, and his entire production team, for bringing this opportunity to my little corner of the world. We were part of something big with the prison break, and I am excited to see how this mini-series plays out.
Thanks for reading about this experience! Have any of you participated in a TV or movie casting call before? I would love to hear about your experiences!