A Good Home, Author Interview, Authors

Taking Control – Stephanie Guerilus

I’d like you to meet American writer Stephanie Guerilus.

I enjoyed her articles online but didn’t know she was also a novelist till I came across her book cover. So, being a nosy person, I asked her some questions! 

Q1: Are novels your main form of writing?

As a journalist, I’m always writing and editing. It’s second nature at this point but my novels allow me the freedom to let my imagination soar.

In the era of “fake news”, I’m more aware than ever that credibility can easily be lost and so I try to always present the best possible work. 

Blog Photo - Stephanie Guerilus' book cover

Q2: What inspired this story?

I’m a big fan of Mariah Carey and so I decided to write a story about a biracial singer, Theresa Marie Jenkins. Aspects of my life began to form around that idea.

I’m a survivor of sexual abuse and I really wanted others who have experienced the same, especially girls and teenagers, to know that there’s no such thing as the perfect victim. Your body is yours alone.

Speaking of Mariah Carey, I was able to meet the elusive chanteuse and place Control in her hands. In the immortal words of Whitney Houston, that was a moment quite pleasing. I waited in the cold for almost six hours and was sick for almost two months later but I met her.

Blog Photo - Stephanie Guerilus - on meeting Mariah Carey

I’d love to meet Janet Jackson since her song Control inspired the title and overall theme of the novel. Reesa Jenkins is 17 years old, battling for control of her life and agency.

Q3: How did you become a writer and what do you hope readers will take away from your novel?

I’ve been writing ever since I was a kid. I had my dolls, notebook and would create stories for them. Sometimes, I’d spy on the arguments in the house and write a report on it as if I were Lois Lane on deadline. That same energy is present in my novel.

It may not be perfect and in many ways, I don’t even want it to be. You always struggle with your first baby and learn. I hope that each word written makes people think, not just about the plot but how it mirrors real life and if they can make a difference.

Q4: Is the protagonist at all like the younger you?

I sprinkled parts of my personality into the four central characters and fleshed them out.

Reesa is a dreamer, marches forward, ready to be a trailblazer and has that Aries fire in her. She’s a creative creature like I am.  Stephanie is woke, small but has the power of dynamite and is a writer. (Yeah, I blatantly put myself in the novel).

Candy is sweet and ready to be the first person to help out a friend. Chanté loves her gossip and is just trying to figure it out. 

Blog Photo - Stephanie Guerilus

Q5: What kind of writing or topics are you most passionate about?

I’m very passionate about marginalized communities being given a voice and (about) diversity in newsrooms. It’s important that stories of African Americans and other groups are told by those who have lived experiences.

It angers me to see women, especially Black women, cast aside in narratives. I’m one of the daughters of Ida B. Wells and have the blood of Haitians who fought for their independence. It’s just not in my spirit to not become animated when I see injustice unfolding. We’re not free until everyone is.

Q.6: What are your hopes and dreams as a writer?

I want to be able to know that I made an impact, that my words helped make a difference. Of course, I want to be a best selling author and create a literary empire that allows me a greater platform. Everyday, I’m working towards that goal.

For now, iron sharpens iron. Whatever I’ve been through has fortified me in this moment. There used to be a time I couldn’t even talk about my abuse, much less put that scar into words.

I’ve taken control of my own story.

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Brava, Stephanie! Thank you.

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To buy “Control” or learn more about Stephanie:

Paperback:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/198091592X

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07HYGFLV8

Website:  https://stephanieguerilus.com/

Facebook Author Page:  https://www.facebook.com/sguerilus/

 

A Good Home, Book Reviews, Books, Maya and the Book of Everything, New Books

Un-Put-Downable: Maya

You know when you’re reading a book – even a mostly interesting book — but you reach a paragraph or page that’s over-written, over-described, over-dense, confusing or just plain boring?

Yes?

Me too.

So I can’t praise highly enough the novel that I finished reading last week. “Maya and the Book of Everything” kept me glued to its pages right to the end.

Blog Photo - Maya and the book of everything

This shouldn’t be. There are many different characters, the book skips from one time and place to another and takes fantastical twists. And yet, the storytelling is seamless, the characters compelling, the dialogue convincing, the quest believably and skilfully portrayed. It was a pure pleasure to read this book.

What makes me even more pleased? This book about a teenaged girl who takes on a seemingly impossible mission is from a small press, and authored by Laurie Graves, a blogger you may know.

With this book, Laurie demonstrates formidable gifts and skill as a novelist.

“How did you make the characters so believable?” I asked Laurie.

“I originally envisioned Maya as more timid, but when I thought of all she’d have to face, I knew she couldn’t have a timid character. Maya wouldn’t have survived her adventures. So then I reimagined her as a fiery young woman, a girl of action—unlike me!—and I immediately knew this was the right way to think about Maya.

“Somehow the characters just came, and it wasn’t all that hard to keep track of them. For me each character has a vivid voice and a distinctive way of speaking.”  

 

Blog Photo - Laurie Graves MCU

Where did the idea for the book originate? I asked.

Laurie got the idea for the book while editing a small literary magazine that she and her husband published.

“I used the Chicago Manual Style, not always an easy book to use. One day, I was tackling a knotty grammatical problem, and I said to myself, ‘I wish I had a book of everything.’  Then came the question: What if there were a book of everything? Where would it come from? What would it do? What kind of danger would it be in? Obviously, many people would covet a true book of everything. From this question came Maya and the rest of the story.”

Blog Photo - Laurie reading VasselboroMaya170604

Laurie is Franco-American. Her ancestors came to Maine from Canada. It was important to her that Maya and several other characters share that background.

“It is the place from which Maya springs, and her heritage, along with place, is one of the things that ground her.”

There is a  real place in both Maya’s and Laurie’s stories.

“The street shot (below) is of East Vassalboro, a classic New England village where my mother lived for many, many years and one I came to cherish. It is also where Maya’s grandparents live, and East Vassalboro and its library are essential to the story.”

Blog Photo - Laurie Vasselboro main street

There are subtle but impactful messages woven through this book. Good leadership is one.

“The big messages are that facts do matter and that a place will suffer under a bad leader. The corollary is that good leaders are essential. On a more personal level, I wanted young girls to read about a plucky heroine who turned her face to the wind and faced difficult challenges.”

It’s a great read.

Look out for Book 2: Library Lost, coming next fall.

 

 

A Good Home, International Book Awards, The Diamond Book Awards

Happy News

The Diamond Book Awards

I just got the news: An Honest House is a finalist for the Diamond Book Award!

I am humbled and thrilled at the very same time.  Hooray!

Thank you, Kevin Cooper, for offering this wonderful award to authors and for including me in the short list.  Kevin is a UK author, musician and book reviewer who does much to highlight the work of authors from around the world.

Congrats to my fellow finalists. It’s a privilege to be in your company.

Here’s the notification I got from Kevin:

The Top Five Nominations for The Diamond Book Award

I can’t believe we’ve got there already folks! All the reviews for the first year of the Diamond Book Awards are complete. There were twenty-five submissions, but only twelve were accepted. Selecting the top five from those twelve was a gruelling exercise; far harder than I imagined it would be. From the five I’ve chosen, it must be said… All of them hold equal weight for the DBA.

In no particular order, here are the final five nominations with links to each review:

The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles by Ronald E Yates

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Lemon Girl by Jyoti Arora

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An Honest House by Cynthia Reyes

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The Fantastic Travels of William and the Monarch Butterfly by Christina Steiner

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Wings of Mayhem by Sue Coletta

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The Diamond Book Award is a tough award to win. All have done incredibly well to get this far. It is now up to the judging panel to decide who the award will go out to. For more information on the Diamond Book Awards please visit: The Diamond Book Awards

The Diamond Book Award winner will be announced in next month’s newsletter. Good luck guys!

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A Good Home, An Honest House, Author Cynthia Reyes, Book Reviews, Books, Great books, New Books

A Summer of Great Reviews

What a precious gift from a reader to an author! Taking the time to buy, read and review their book.

My great thanks to:

Hilary Custance Green (UK), acclaimed author of Surviving the Death Railway and The Green Writing Room blog.  An Honest House was her companion during her own book tour:  

AN HONEST HOUSE AND AN ALBRIZIA

I loved Cynthia Reyes’s first Memoir  A Good Home, so I picked up the continuing story An Honest House in happy anticipation. This is a book with a perfect title and has been my companion during a more than hectic summer….                         Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 20.22.10

I laughed over the Valentine, I wept over Keats, I laughed over ‘a job that pays’. There are few easy-walking meadows in this story, because it is about the mountains and valleys. Among the things that struck me was Cynthia’s insistence on facing up to something we all know – it is never a good time for a difficult or dangerous conversation – and dealing with it so courageously….

Read More at:  https://greenwritingroom.com/2016/08/05/an-honest-house-and-an-albrizia/

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Tina of Chase N Chance Ranch (USA), who took An Honest House along on her summer vacation:  

BOOK SUGGESTION

On our vacation I brought along the new book (An Honest House: A Memoir, Continued) of one of my favorite authors and bloggers, Cynthia Reyes.

Living on a small hobby farm, working part time, having two children who play multiple travel level sports, and trying to fit in a little me time is always a challenge.  I figured I would be able to get in at least a chapter or two while away for those 6 days.  After the third day, my family threatened to hide my book as I finished it and was starting it over again.  I did not want to put it down!!

 Read More at:  https://chasenchanceranch.wordpress.com/2016/07/26/book-suggestion/

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Chip Barkel, realtor and writer (Canada), who made both A Good Home and An Honest House his summer picks:  

SUMMER READING: CYNTHIA REYES’S A GOOD HOME & AN HONEST HOUSE

“Ambercroft Farm, the sign out front said. Hamlin was on a first name basis with the grand old farmhouse right from the start, calling it Ambercroft. For years, I didn’t call it anything at all. The tall, two-story Victorian house seemed sealed off from the rest of the neighbourhood. Within a solid wooden fence and gates, massive maples waved big leafy arms. Pines and dense blue-green spruces soared. A cedar hedge ran the length of the property on one side. This was a private place, sure of its personality and power.”

blog-photo-garden-circle

I often think as I walk through neighbourhoods that behind every shuttered window is a story. Often those stories are ones only the walls and maybe a few select people ever witness. For some a house is a sanctuary, but when life presents a crisis….

Read More at:  http://www.chipbarkel.com/blog/summer-reading-cynthia-reyess-good-home-honest-house/

Chip, Tina and Hilary: I thank you all. 

Note to Readers:

If you’ve recently read a book you like, especially one by a new or Indie author, would you please consider reviewing it online