Please welcome Leah Grant to BookLikes! Leah is a romance writer, known under two pen names -- you can meet both ladies on BookLikes, have a look the author pages of Leah Grant and her YA alter ego Anne Wentworth. And to be up to date with Leah's upcoming releases, make sure to follow her BookLikes webpage at leahgrant.booklikes.com
Leah aka Anne agreed to talk with us about her upcoming debut young adult release (the book is released with Finch Books), baking and wild animals in her countryside. Ready? Here we go!
Have you always wanted to become a writer? How did it all start for you?
I started to writer very early at around age nine. Stories just came to me and my father encouraged me to keep writing. It has always made my heart happy. Characters even wake me up in the middle of the night to tell me their stories. If I'm working on a book - it plays like a movie in my head and I try to type as fast as I can to keep up.
You’ve mentioned that you’re using pen names: Leah Grant and Anne Wentworth. Can you tell our readers more about the ladies inside you.
How they are different and what their contribution is to your writing process?
I am an intensely private person - so when I decided to take the plunge into the publishing world I wanted to use a pen name. For romance I chose Leah Grant. I've always loved the name Leah and Grant is a connection to someone very special.
Anne Wentworth came about for Young Adult as I needed to keep the two kinds of writing separate.
The two names are just fronts that enable me to be creative and tell my stories. Both Leah and Anne drink far too much coffee and tend to have a sweet tooth. I'm not judging them though...
Your new young adult novel will hit bookstores September 2015. Congratulations! Can you tell our readers more about the book and how the idea was born?
Shake The Spiders is my first YA to be published (Finch Books - a division of Totally Entwined Group UK) and I am very excited. When the story for this young adult book came to me, I wasn’t surprised. The book is about Kim, a fourteen year old that has suffered for years trying to live around her alcoholic mother. She is tired and damaged and I needed to tell her story. There are so many teens/kids out there that live through this. Some make it and some don’t.
When her mother drops her off for the summer at her grandma’s place – it’s almost like she’s been left at that final bus-stop. It ends up being the best thing that could have happened for her. I know so many never get that chance – someone reaching out to help. More often than not
the alcoholic manages to ruin not only their life, but everyone around them.
You can see the cracks in Kim’s person – she drifts, doesn’t trust people, has had to take on the role of parent from a young age, continuously has to cover and clean up the messes her mother makes – leaving her a shell – someone desperate inside for love and belonging.
This book is about her journey of healing and taking chances on people. It is about Kim drawing a line and choosing not to be hurt anymore. Kim does this in the book when she decides she just doesn’t want to have to deal with her drunk mother any longer. I set the story in small-town Manitoba and had a great time conjuring some interesting if not ‘flawed’ characters.
Being a real lover of paranormal, I wove a ghost legend into the storyline and also gave it some historical elements. I wanted to tell the story from the other side - the person that is trying to rebuild themselves and their life after the fallout from being around someone with an addiction.
Leah Grant writes fantasy romances, Anne Wentworth goes for young adult novels -- how do you find yourself in those genres? Did you pick them or did the genres pick you?
The books just happen. I don't really know how else to say it. Literally the book will just begin in my head. I don't have a clue where it will go or what will happen. Essentially, I'm really the 'first reader' and just go with it. When people ask me 'how does it end?' I often have to say, 'how would I know?'. (you should see the looks I get with that one) It is a different way to write, but it works for me.
You live in Canada, you love the Prairies and the wildlife that surrounds you, and even call the place “magical”. Can you tell our readers how does the setting influence your writing process? We guess that such a spectacular place just must have an influence on an individual.
The peace and beauty here is amazing. I love living out in the country, being surrounded by trees and critters of all kinds. The seasons and weather here are extreme - summers have massive storms (can be tornados) and winter can hit with temps falling to -40's. When I first walked on this land, I knew we had to buy the place. I felt free here and this is the place where my writing has been most prolific.
If I am tired or need a break, I just go outside to watch deer feeding in the trees across from our place. Sometimes there will be twenty or more hawks flying over in the later afternoon. Watching a fox scamper through the property just after midnight or a lone wolf making its way along the edge of the property - I feel so lucky to be able to experience all of this. It leaves me refreshed and must feed my imagination - as ideas for books are non-stop here.
You’ve mentioned you’re a cat owner. BookLikes community as well as the BookLikes team adore cats :) Does Miss Fish has her appearance in any of your stories?
Miss Fish was a rescue in 2012. She had been abandoned (not very nice when you think of a prairie winter) and a very kind soul fed her until a home could be found. When I saw her picture on the rescue web site - it was LOVE! She now is part of our family and very well loved and cared for. She is our heart.
Miss Fish may have been some of the inspiration for 'Jammer' the huge black cat in Shake The Spiders. She is a very loving and amazing companion. She sits beside me as I write each day.
Your motto is: Don’t be afraid to step into the storm. What does it mean to you?
I believe a person has to go out and live - sometimes life can throw difficult circumstances and trials at a person. I've lived through many and the only thing I can tell others is that you can't be afraid to move forward. Sometimes the crazy/difficult/unhappy times in our lives can sweep us along to what ends up being an amazing place. If we don't step into the storm because we are afraid, we might lose out on something really good.
You’re a coffee & chocolate lover with a twist for cooking. What’s your best and favorite recipe? Would you mind sharing it with our readers?
I do love to cook and bake. Best and favorite? Ahhh... How about I list a few: roast beef and popovers (Yorkshire Pudding done in muffin tin), lasagna (very rich and layered - I always eat far too much), apple/pear pie, cheese and basil biscuits, roast stuffed chicken with vegetables, homemade bread (loaves and rolls) - hungry yet? I am. Now see what you've started? ; )
Best tip for popovers - heat the pan until the lard is almost smoking (handle carefully) then fill with batter and get it into that oven! Don't open the oven door until they are done.
From your point of view: is it easy to be a writer nowadays?
Yes and no. With the ebook industry - many more people can get their work out there, but that means there is so much more competition.
Do you have any writing habits which help you keep the story going?
The stories don't stop or slow down. I have to make notes to keep up with it as things unfold/characters tell me more before it is at that point in the book so I can remember to include it.
I drink coffee +++++++ I snack and I soak in the beauty here.
Could you tell our readers which authors inspire you and your works?
Just a few books come to mind - there are so many more. Eclectic would be a good word to keep in mind here.
I read. One of my favorite things to do was go to the library and just pick books out - historical/biography/anthropology/WWII/paranormal/cooking - you name it.
What are you reading now? How do you like it?
Just finished reading Drawn by Chris Ledbetter - loved it.
Do you read when writing a new novel?
Are you a book collector or a book recommender?
My husband is the pack rat - he has boxes of books.
If I like something, I'll pass it on
Paper books or e-books? Why?
I like holding the book. Besides, what would shelves look like without books?
What are your favorite quotes?
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade and then drink it!
Don't be afraid to step into the storm...
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write! Don't write to fit into what is popular. Write from your heart.
Don't give up - ever.
What’s your favorite writing and reading spot?
(our readers would love to see some photos)
My office. Miss Fish has her basket behind me and naps while I write.
Isn't that smile adorable?
Outside is my rock garden and I can watch as the birds and deer come to feed.
Baltimore Oriole came by. Our feeder is busy year-round.
The 'trio' come to our feeder and often empty it out in winter
for the black sunflower seeds.
Thank you, Leah!
Leah Grant's books on BookLikes:
Anne Wentworth's book on BookLikes
Read other talks on BookLikes:
Photo by Paula Borowska
Clean up your shelves, add a new collection to your e-reader, equip yourself with drinks and snacks. It's time for Summer recommendations! We've asked several of BookLikes authors to pick their perfect summer books. Here's a reading list that cannot be missed and a collection of reads that must be added to your TBR summer pile!
"I picked this up because I am a sucker for alternate versions of cities. Yes, Neverwhere is a fav of mine and so when I saw this had that vibe happening, I was in. Let's start with the good: crossdressing thieves, multiple Londons, super cool magic, chicks to the rescue, throne power plays, and an amazing mythology I want to fall into and stay suspended in for a very long time.
Now for the bad: book two doesn't come out for another year. Seriously. That's all I've got.
Kell and Lila are a fabulous swashbuckling duo. His backstory is totally compelling and fraught with mystery. His brother Rhy is a charmer with a heart of gold that I demand more of. The world building is insanely cool. This is an original, compelling, thoroughly engaging and entertaining book one of a new fantasy series. If you're looking for romance, you won't really find it in this book though it sets up tantalizing and frustrating (in good ways) teases to be played out. Bonus points for actually wrapping up the main plot while still creating enough questions about events to follow.
Honestly, by partway through the first chapter I was excited in ways I hadn't been for a story in a while. Grab it!"
As a reader, I love books that can transport you. With both of these novels, I felt as if I was "in" the story. The world-building was phenomenal and the paranormal elements were woven in so well, I no longer felt like I was reading fiction. Magic is real, people! :)
"Once again I was blown away by the imagination and detailed writing that Brynn puts into her stories. She never fails to transport me into the world she's created, and in this case, the world was eerie and magical and filled with characters that captured my heart."
"This book was so engrossing. The amazing detail of the alchemic process and imagery was amazing. This author did her homework!"
"This is my favorite book of all time by the author who sparked my obsession in medieval England.
Each of her books is wonderful with complex characters and impeccable historical research that transports the reader back in time.
Since Richard III, the main character in this book, has been in the headlines lately, this is an ideal time to get swept away in this novel."
"I recommend this book because it is lesser known than the author’s more famous Jane Eyre, but I feel that the story and characters are even more captivating.
Lucy Snowe felt like a kindred spirit as she attempted to make her way in the world. The realistic way that each person sees her differently, but none completely understand her is heart wrenching.
Anyone looking for a classic novel that is a little off the beaten path should try Villette."
"It’s quirky, perceptive and funny. It’s poignant as well as enlightening, entertaining and original. It ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous and covers a lot of the stuff in between.
The protagonist in War in a Beautiful Country is Regina, a middle aged woman living in New York City. Regina begins getting surface mail from an anonymous person threatening to blow her up, literally. The idea her life might end abruptly and without warning makes her examine her existence, her art, her relationships, her activities, and her purpose.
War in a Beautiful Country is wickedly funny while at the same time wise and worldly with fascinating insights on art and relationships."
"The Last Bad Job is an apocalyptic story with a sense of humor.
What makes this novel standout, makes it exceptional is the writing – natural dialogue, characterization through action, exact diction and an imaginative plot that doesn’t let you catch your breath.
Our protagonist, best described as an anti-hero, is an investigative reporter assigned to do a story on an apocalyptic cult and it’s leader, Dizzy Sheehan. The assignment entails living with the group and right away he compromises his objectivity by participating in cult activities like having sex with the female members. This is the first, but certainly not the last demonstration of his almost complete lack of any sense of morals or integrity.
As the reporter’s life spins more and more out of control, and Dizzy’s prediction of the apocalypse begins to unfold our anti-hero comes to believe he has been chosen for some special purpose and, indeed, he has."
"This author was new to me, and maybe it´s to soon to say this is my favorite author, but I really enjoyed reading this book. Here and there I stopped at sentences, just to read them again, and again because they were so well written. The details made me feel like I was there, beside the book´s protagonist.
The story is told in a simple yet very straight-forward way and I didn´t want it to end.
If you like people and the stories behind them, I think you will like this book."
"This is a very well written and really tense short novel. It´s the sort of book were nothing seems to happen, and still - everything is happening in front of me. It´s melancholy, haunting and exquisitely written - a beautiful novel. If you enjoy a slow and intimate book this one is for you."
Two books I’d recommend to people who share my taste for mysteries that venture off the beaten track are The First Lie, by Virginia King and When the Clocks Stopped by M.L. Eaton. These are totally different from each other, and yet have in common a thread of the mystical, vivid settings, complex and realistic protagonists, and excellent writing.
"The First Lie is set in Hawaii, where Selkie Moon has escaped from her former life in Australia. Her voice as the narrator is compelling, and the bizarre events that overtake her made it hard for me to stop reading. The layers of mythology and psychology in the intense plot gave it the kind of depth I like. I want more than to know the solution of a mystery, but to get involved with the characters’ lives."
"When the Clocks Stopped takes place in a quaint English village with a dark history that comes alive. The main character, Hazel Dawkins, is utterly original, and so is the concept of this book, with the interweaving of the eighteenth and twentieth centuries, the crimes of both periods in time, and the ordinary and the extraordinary."
Anyone who likes a well-crafted and unconventional take on mystery will enjoy these books.
Two perfect summer reads for romance fans.
"The first is a fast-paced, sexy paranormal romance by one of my favourite authors, Ilona Andrews. Burn For Me has the ultimate alpha hero and a heroine unsure whether to love him or run."
"My second recommended summer read takes you back in time to summer in Saxon England. “Naked” is the real story of Lady Godiva’s famous ride, beautifully told, and it’s special to me because it’s written by a good friend, Eliza Redgold, who is passionate about the power of Godiva’s legend and of Celtic women in general."
Two of my summer readings picks swing precariously from the supernatural classic, Three Supernatural Classics, to the more lighter literary shôjo manga, The Heart of Thomas. Both are perfect for short and frequent time fillers needed while traveling, or even between beach dips.
"Anyone who has an interest in the creative process, from writers and artists to musicians and filmmakers, will find this book interesting and inspiring.
Catmull is the the president of Pixar Animation and Disney Animation. The level of struggle and revision that goes into making a Pixar movie is an inspiration, and the process they use to solicit useful and timely feedback on their work will be useful to all kinds of artists."
"A gorgeously crafted and designed book about the power of belief. Micah's journey may rekindle your own belief in magic.
I loved it so much that the moment I put down my library copy, I called the bookstore to order a hardback."
BookLikes authors recommendations made it to the reading lists on BookLikes. If you liked our authors' picks, you can easily add all books to your shelf through the Reading List: 20 great summer reads picked by authors ->
If you enjoyed the text, spread the word :-)
Whether you are a Newbie, or you have been hanging around for a while, Booklikes invites you to rediscover its Explore feature. Inspired by the Booklikers Think Tank (applause) brought by the BL team, here it is.
Now, the Explore gives you a better scoop of what is going on here and now on Booklikes. Meet BookLikers by lurking into one of 6 nooks: Just published, Popular blogs, Rising up,Top Reviewers, Hot reviews and BookLikes Authors & Publishers.
Depending where you’d like to go from here, you can either choose any of 31 book categories, take a tour of All blogs across the platform, or narrow your path to Authors & Publishers blogs only. Switch to German, or Polish if you up for some globetrotting.
While you can see the recent posts from the users you follow on your dashboard, Just published section gives you an overview of what has been published on the platform within last 24 hrs. Come here for your piece of news.
Choosing the book category you are into and ticking off the All Blogs box will allow you to discover new bloggers to follow, in result you will also find out about new titles that are very likely to be to your taste.
Rising up filter will bring the niche to the spot light. Introduce yourself to the newbies just arrived to BookLikes. You will also find bloggers who have been here for quite a while, however their reviews haven’t received a wide audience yet. Bloggers, Author and Publishers - be a head hunter and get to discover them first.
When spotting a new review on the Explore page, or your dashboard it is always a good idea to move down to comments section, it' like meeting someone at the bar and finding you've ordered the same drink - you can either node at them, or strike up a conversation.
Moonlight Reader says:
Show me your book shelf and I will see if I want to follow you
What bloggers put on their shelf is probably the best indicator of whether you can be the book buddies. As it might be a good idea to follow mainly the Authors & Publishers who fit in your book category, wider the scoop of reviewers you follow. People of seemingly very different taste to yours can be really inspirational, they will be your guide into the unknown territory.
Char's Horror Corner says:
Finally, go through your friends list and see who they are following - the reviews you value are very likely to attract bloggers of the same ilk. Oh and people you used to follow you-know-where before you have all came to BL, a lot of them are here, as well. Let's reunion.
This is probably the most exciting BL discussion and should definitely be the first stop for newly registered BookLikers, come in and introduce yourself to everybody, like Audio Book Junkie did. And for BL code of conduct check out What are the booklikes basics for newcomers.
And why not following this great resolution from Books, hockey, and a bucketful of snark:
Whereas other discussions are mainly for people to share their discoveries and help out underfollowed users this one is for some serious networking. Good place for the regular bloggers to come and introduce themselves in person and give a brief description of what they are into, when and where to find them:
There are a lot of Author and Publishers on BookLikes who are here to engage with the readers. Don't assume they would ignore you, they here to interact, same as you. If you are an Author, or Publisher but you have not received your official badge yet give us a shout here.
P.S. some of them use BL more incognito. If you are watchful enough you will find them, join in the discussion and see who's who.
by Warren Adler
Like every author on the planet, I've spent endless hours mulling over creating titles for my work. One strives, of course, to be both memorable and honestly descriptive of the content.
There are also marketing aspects to be considered. The marquee value cannot be neglected since the book, especially fiction, must compete in the market place and be "discoverable" to the searching eye of the browser and the impulsive book buyer who scans bookshelves of those bookstores still remaining and interminable book cover images that clutter the e-reader "shelves."
Another wild aspiration that motivates the author is the possibility of a movie production of their novel and the limitations of the actual movie marquee. Anything more than a four-word title could be a dream killer. Imagine any great movie or TV adaptation based on a novel where the title of the novel is changed. I have been lucky in that regard with three of my works The War of the Roses, Random Hearts and The Sunset Gang.
The title's suggestion to a cover artist was, and perhaps still is, an aspect that had to be taken into account. The book cover design and illustration has always been an integral part of the marketing process and many fine prize winning designs have been an essential marketing tool for books in both fiction and non-fiction categories.
For books in categories such as romance, science fiction, mysteries, fantasy, zombie and vampire stories, young adult and children's books and all their sub-categories, the titles and covers must reflect the specific genre to clearly designate its content.
But for the author of mainstream fiction whose story line is not in any genre category, he or she must face the agony of choice. Many famous authors chose to name their books after a main character, and one can point to many successes such as David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, Jane Eyre, Anna Karenina, Daniel Deronda, Nana, Mrs. Dalloway, Lolita, Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, Rebecca, Tom Jones, Clarissa, Robinson Crusoe and the most enduring of all, Don Quixote.
Some authors have chosen place names, countries, houses, streets, neighborhoods, destinations, bars, modes of transportation and myriad other categories as titles, too numerous to mention; Wuthering Heights and Tales of the South Pacific are typical.
Many of these, obviously, are classic novels that have stood the test of time but there are many character named titles that have passed on to obscurity.
Then there are the titles that are lifted from lines of poetry that the author believes are an apt choice to illustrate a theme of the novel, some of recent vintage like The Lovely Bones. Among the better known are A Handful of Dust, Of Mice and Men, Far From the Madding Crowd, Remembrance of Things Past, Endless Night and many others.
One title that always intrigued me was Catcher in the Rye, which takes its inspiration from Robert Burns, the famous Scottish poet whose "Comin' Thro' The Rye" was a poem with obvious sexual overtones, a subject much on the mind of the main character in the book. Another is To Kill A Mockingbird, which takes its title from a snippet of dialogue from its main character declaring that to kill a mockingbird is a sin. That title truly encapsulates the theme of that novel.
Believe me, I have had many sleepless nights trying to come up with titles that accurately nailed the content of my work. I've taken them from snippets of poetry and quotations from Shakespeare whose work is a gold mine of fantastic possibilities. Indeed, I found the title of my latest work, The Serpent's Bite, in that famous quote by Lear, "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child!" It hits the mark about the content of this novel with deadly accuracy.
I've always admired the titles of Hemingway, masterpieces of accuracy, nuance and subtlety. Few are better than A Farewell to Arms and For Whom The Bells Toll, and an all-time favorite of mine is Gone With the Wind, which is beautifully said and chillingly accurate. Another all-time favorite of mine is The Red and the Black, by Stendahl, subtly delineating the central focus of the main character's ambitions, the red of the Army and the black of the clergy.
Thomas Hardy was a master of titles: Jude the Obscure and The Return of the Native to mention just two of many. Some wonderful titles stick in my craw, not because they are not brilliant but, for some reason, I could never fully master their content. They are One Hundred Years of Solitude and Under the Volcano.
But then, by and large, a great title is an art form unto itself. Indeed, a great title does not necessarily signify a great book and vice versa.
It has always been a source of great curiosity to me to understand the psychology of "titling." Do titles really help in making reading choices or are they merely identifying pointers? I'd like to hear what you think.
Published: September 15th 2014 by Stonehouse Productions
Jack Cooper is an unhappy man; mind, body, and spirit. In the blink of an eye, he lost his job to the bad economy, his mother to a fatal illness, and his wife to her secret lover. Beaten, broken, and crippled by tragedy, he withdraws into total isolation, maintaining the simplest of routines in order to block out his pain. Cooper’s day begins with a strenuous workout at the Bethesda Health Club—his personal oasis where his mind and body are free—and ends inside his bare apartment, where Cooper escapes into his library of novels until he finally loses himself in sleep. Nothing more, nothing less. That is, until he meets the enigmatic Mike Parrish.
Stolen from the hospital as a newborn, and passed around from household to household, Parrish has no official identification. To the government and the world at large, he
does not exist. He is an anonymous drifter, but also the first person who breaks through Cooper’s emotional confinement. Cooper finds solace in his friendship with Parrish, a man who understands his plight and is sympathetic to his pain.
But then Parrish suddenly disappears, leaving Cooper to search for a virtually invisible man. As he looks for clues as intangible as ghosts, and chases leads as fleeting as shadows, his search leads him back to the one place he called his refuge: the Bethesda Health Club.
How much can be taken from a man before he has nothing to lose?
The book is available at Amazon.
Stolen from the hospital as a newborn, and passed around from household to household, Parrish has no official identification. To the government and the world at large, he does not exist. He is an anonymous drifter, but also the first person who breaks through Cooper’s emotional confinement. Cooper finds solace in his friendship with Parrish, a man who understands his plight and is sympathetic to his pain.
AMERICAN QUARTET is the first book in the Fiona Fitzgerald mystery series. soon to be made into the new TV Series CAPITOL CRIMES.
When a string of inexplicable murders rocks the hallowed streets of central D.C., Fiona finds herself charging through shadows of a mysterious conspiracy. Faced with an investigation with no leads and a rising body count, Fiona's reputation as top investigator of the Miami Division is called into question.