Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Welcome to the Grand Opening of our New Women's Fiction Book Retreat!

Hello! I'm Lia Mack, owner of the Blissfully Beguiling B&B, and I've been busy working on a new retreat for all us women's fiction book lovers! 

Since my Writing Retreat was such a great success, I wanted to expand upon that and come up with something fun and new, just for you. So....

Drum roll, please...  

I'm happy to announce the grand opening of our new retreat:

The Women's Fiction Book Retreat 
a quaint respite on the web for all the books we love...

Of course, this retreat will be in person once the brick and mortar dries...but why wait?! 

There is a vast sea of books out there, just waiting for us...

Here's how it works:

Book Retreats are all about readers finding a cozy, quiet place to read, learn about and new and upcoming releases and getting to know the authors. For authors, it's an opportunity to connect with readers in a fun new way. When you're a guest author at a Book Retreat, you're the star! Share a tale about your writerly life, your favorite breakfast recipe and, of course, we want to know all about your books!

If you're an author looking to participate, please click here

All are welcome at the Blissfully Beguiling B&B, so come on in! 

Find a cozy seat, help yourself to the tea and treats, and settle in for a wonderful meet and greet with special guest authors, giveaways and more.  

And for being here at our Grand Opening, please feel free to enter our first giveaway!

GIVEAWAY: $25 Amazon Gift Certificate

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Women's Fiction Guest Authors at the BB B&B Blog...

Women's Fiction guest authors at the BB B&B are the highlight of our Women's Fiction Book Retreat.

Not only do readers get to hear about new, upcoming women's fiction releases, but they also get a chance to interact with our authors, sample the author's favorite breakfast recipe (or two) and enter to win giveaways!

If you'd like to take a closer look at what our past guest authors have shared with our readers, feel free to check out some of my past guests. Some gave in depth interviews. Others shared a writerly-life story or two. Mostly, they were able to shine in the spotlight and share their hard work with those who were ready and waiting for their next book to love...

Past Women's Fiction Guest Authors

In the past, we've held Writer's Retreats here at the BB B&B, where we invited readers, writers and authors alike to share in their love of the craft of writing. During that time, we hosted guest author's as they traversed the web while on their book blog tour. 

Below is a sampling of our previous Women's Fiction guest authors. If you'd like to be one of our guest authors for our new Women's Fiction Book Retreat, please contact us for more details. 

Sharon Short, author of MY ONE SQUARE INCH OF ALASKA


Thank you for visiting!

If you'd like to be one of our guest authors for our new Women's Fiction Book Retreat, please contact us for more details. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

7 Perfect Gifts for Writers... Guest Post by Dana Renee Style

Dana Renee Style in the house!

Well, in the B&B... ;)

Dana's here to spread some holiday cheer with her top 7 gift ideas, perfect for every writer.

7 Perfect Gifts for Writers
Guest Post by Dana Renee Style

7 Great Gifts for Writers

If you're searching for the perfect gift for your favorite writer, here are seven ideas they're sure to love. You can shop these items through Polyvore by clicking on the photo.

1. Inspiration for writing comes from everywhere, especially those around us…so give them an advance warning with this t-shirt.

2. Not the t-shirt type…how about the same sentiment on a tote bag to hold all those library books they checked out for research?

3. Give a little encouragement with this Ray Bradbury quote necklace.

4. We've all been there…we know what we mean but can't find the right word. Enter this Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus. It doesn't just give related words, it also gives advice on how to pick the best one.

5. Give the typical pen gift some extra glam with this Swarovski crystal filled barrel.

6. Bring up computer crashes in front of a writer and I can almost guarantee that they will shudder in fear from memories of hours of lost work. Help them get in the habit of backing up with a nice flash drive like this bamboo one from SanDisk.

7. Everyone can use another journal, writer or not, especially one with a beautiful, artistic cover like this Moleskine journal.

What gifts are you excited to give this year?

Collage created via

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

When a Child Looses a Friend... Bereavement for Kids

A few years back my beautiful sister-in-law sent me a book, The Fall of Freddie the Leaf, to help me with the loss of someone very special. Although it was a child's book, I did find it sweet and welcoming in my time of need. And when I had my own children, I kept the book around as part of their ever growing collection of books.

I've read the book to my children numerous times. It's a tale about the life of a little leaf, Freddie, and how he comes to terms with finding purpose in his life, enjoying it, and then finally accepting death as a part of everyone's circle of life.

It's always been one of those books that I pull out from time to time, a simple reminder that although we don't know how long we have on sweet Mother Earth, we all have time to make the most of it. Unfortunately, a few summers back we witnessed a horrible tragedy as a family: the death of a little boy.

A sweet little friend of my children. Practically a member of our family. A soul never to be forgotten...

My children were there and saw the unthinkable. Understandably, they still talk about it to this day. My three year old even says she can see him and talks to him frequently. Just today I thought I could hear his little voice in the wind while we were at one of his much loved parks..."Come on Juli...let's play!"

And although it doesn't make things better, it doesn't help us know what happened, this little book about Freddie has helped us remember that life is not only short, but precious. We all have a purpose. Andrew, someone who was only on here for such a short time, had a purpose. He showed us that we should enter all situations with the best intentions. That there is cause for smiling and laughing-out-loud all times of the day. That we shouldn't wait another minute to hug those we love, and to tell them so.

If you know of a child who has experienced a loss, The Fall of Freddie the Leaf is a very good companion to all the words and hugs of sympathy. It's also a good book to have to help explain to kids that we all have a purpose for our lives. That even though a leaf is small, it's part of a great big tree. And that everything living is part of the same cycle of life. 


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

An interview with Sonia Taitz, author of DOWN UNDER

Who hasn't drooled over Mel Gibson before?... I know I have. Buff, slick, rugged. But these are all descriptors of what Mel is like in the movies, as an actor. What is he like in real life? Or rather, what is his real life really like?

To answer those questions in the best possible way - via fiction - I have with me Sonia Taitz, author of the newly release novel DOWN UNDER
Sonia Taitz, author of DOWN UNDER
An interview with Sonia Taitz, author DOWN UNDER

Lia Mack: Is it true that your new novel, DOWN UNDER, is based on Mel Gibson?

Sonia Taitz: Yes. I made it all up, but some aspects were inspired by reality. Mel actually grew up in upstate New York, and so does the hero of DOWN UNDER, Collum Whitsun. They both move to Australia and become international superstars. 

Lia Mack: Where does the fiction come in?

Sonia Taitz: That’s where the real fun begins. I made up a passionate, fraught relationship between young Collum and Judy, a girl he meets and falls in love with in high school. He’s Irish-American, with an abusive, fanatical father; Judy’s Jewish, with a conventional bourgeois family.  It’s a Romeo and Juliet set up, with a twist. The teen lovers break up just before Collum has to leave for Australia (both Mel and Collum’s father wanted their boys evade the draft, so their families emigrate).

For the next many decades, as his star climbs, Collum carries a torch for Judy. Sometimes the flames burn higher, sometimes lower. But the spark is always there, ready to ignite. This is big love, but as is so often the case, big love is tinged with hate,  which perhaps makes it burn hotter. Collum nurses a longstanding grudge --  he feels that Judy betrayed him by not running away with him before his father whisked him away “down under.” After years apart, his star in decline, Collum comes looking for his deepest love. He’s on a quest, with questions in his heart that must be answered. Judy is by then a middle-aged suburbanite (who calls herself  “Jude”), with a lukewarm marriage and two difficult twin teen boys. She’s ripe for romance, and off they go.

Lia Mack: Why did you choose to base your character on the now notorious Mel Gibson?

Sonia Taitz: Mel was always my favorite movie star. I loved his gumption, his slight air of madness (tinged with machismo), and the obvious fact that he was easy on the eye. In fact, People magazine officially named him the Sexiest Man in the World.  At the height of his fame, by weird coincidence, Mel Gibson actually shot two movies on my block in New York City. It was fun to have my hero hang out on my block for days on end. My husband joked that Mel was stalking me.

Lia Mack: So basically you’re saying that Mel Gibson stalked you? ;)

Sonia Taitz: Not even in my own conspiracy theory or sweetest fantasy. It’s actually better not to be stalked by a man with gumption and that touch of madness. Years later, Mel made a few controversial movies, and a film critic (who lives near me) made some disparaging remarks, which Mel did not take well. Mel said he wanted to yank this critic’s intestines out, put them on a stick, and feed them to his dog.

So no, I didn’t want this man to stalk me. Especially not when, soon after the plan to disembowel my neighbor, Mel also began to make sexist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic remarks.

Lia Mack: I suppose with your parents’ holocaust background – which you describe in your memoir, THE WATCHMAKER’S DAUGHTER, you’d have felt especially bad about that last one.

Sonia Taitz: That’s very perceptive! I’m not only female and tolerant towards gays, but my own parents suffered the horrendous consequences of anti-Semitism. As I write about THE WATCHMAKER’SDAUGHTER, both were survivors of concentration camps in Europe. Mel’s hysterical accusations about Jews (which I won’t repeat here, but do in DOWN UNDER) hurt me deeply. He was said to be drunk at the time (and much of the time), and I’d heard that he suffered from a crippling personality disorder, but even so, it was jarring to have my beloved star morph from Braveheart to Rottenheart.

And then there was the troubling interview in a national magazine, where they asked Mel if his father really denied the Holocaust, or its extent. Gibson senior was quoted to that effect, and his own website was a bit alarming. Mel seemed to dodge the question by saying, “My father never lied to me.” It was all an ugly jumble, a tangle of abuse, of victims and victimizers starting in childhood. I began trying to discover which factors might have led to such rage in Mel’s case – and then in Collum’s.

Lia Mack: What do you think led to it?

Sonia Taitz: I’d worked with abused children as a lawyer, and wondered if perhaps Mel’s hero worship of his father -- who had made disparaging statements, not only about the Holocaust but about the Catholic church (Vatican II in particular) -- might well be the result of a painful, repressive childhood. Most haters – the worst kind – have suffered extreme abuse. They’ve been taught about cruelty firsthand, and such victims do frequently become victimizers, projecting their own self-hatred onto others.

I remember hearing that Hitler himself had once been a painter – a would-be artist -- who’d been rejected by a Jewish dealer. That, and his own awful childhood, somehow paired up disastrously to create a deep and murderous rage, directed toward a entire group of people. The rest is history – my history in particular. But it’s the history of the world. I believe that most evil can be traced back to the nursery, to the absence of love.

Lia Mack: How did you use these perspectives in the novel?

Sonia Taitz: I created a backstory in which Collum’s breakup with a Jewish girl – his utter love for her, and the conviction that she “betrayed” him by not fleeing with him – lights a very long fuse, which blows up years later. When his life falls apart – marriage, career – he begins thinking about finding Judy again. Is he looking to reconnect with his first, deepest love? To be healed by her? To get closure? Revenge? Or some combination?

Lia Mack: So the young lovers do meet again?

Sonia Taitz: Oh, yes. It takes a while. Collum has to find Judy. It’s his mission. Facebook helps, and that is how they first contact each other. Then the journey begins. Collum, like Mel, is very good at disguises and accents, so as he wends his way to Judy, she hardly notices these strangers who are encroaching on her life. But one day, there’s a knock at her door. It’s a Chassidic man with a surprisingly winning way, deep knowledge of Judaism, and a hard body under those black clothes.

Lia Mack: How does the meeting go?

Sonia Taitz: It takes a while for Jude to even open her door, but when she opens it, she does open itYou’ll have to read DOWN UNDER to find out what happens. Let’s just say it’s passionate, and you might miss a night of sleep over it.  But in the end, you’ll ponder what you know about good and evil, love and hate – how they intersect, and whether they are ultimately balanced and resolved.

Lia Mack: Do you personally believe in pure, absolute love?

Sonia Taitz: If I didn’t, would I be writing books like this? Though it’s the cause of so much of our folly, yes. I hold true to that ideal, even if we all so often fall short of it. The secret is never to shut down. Maybe that’s why I keep writing – it keeps my better self flowing and alive. Reading does that, too. 
Lia Mack: Thank you so much for visiting us here at the BB B&B! Definately a unique and interesting read taht I can't wait to get into.
Where can BB B&B readers find you online? 
Sonia Taitz: For more on Sonia Taitz, go to 

Sonia Taitz is the author of, among other books, the New York Times-praised novel, IN THE KING’S ARMS, the award-winning memoir, THE WATCHMAKER’S DAUGHTER, and DOWN UNDER, just released.

Sonia Taitz, author of DOWN UNDER

Monday, December 1, 2014

Top 3 Ways to Make the MOST of Your Blog Tour

I love having guest authors come to my B&B. We talk about books. We talk about writing. And sometimes they bring food ;)

Now, some of them stop by just because they like all of the above just as much as I do. But most stop by my little B&B as a stop along their new book's blog tour.

What's a blog tour?

A blog tour is a book tour you do at various blogs when your book is released. It is a marketing tool to increase your readership.

While at these blogs, you might do a guest post about your book, you might answer interview questions about you, the author of your new book, or you might post a guest post about any other interesting tidbits that connect you and your book to potential readers.

Because that's what the blog tour is all about: Getting the word out about your book and connecting with readers!

Since there are so many blogs out there and so many types ways to engage with readers, a blog tour is what you make of it. You can do the bare minimum - show up - or you can really make your tour work for you.

What I mean by that is - not all authors know what to do with a blog tour. They make their stops, they do their guest posts or interview, and that's it.

End of story.

Only, what these authors are forgetting is that a blog tour is an avalanche of FREE marketing opportunities, just waiting to happen!

And free is our favorite word, right? We're starving artists, right?

But don't fret. It's easy to make the MOST of your blog tour.

Top 3 Ways to Make the MOST of Your Blog Tour


Find blogs that fit your genre/brand and make an appointment to stop by (by contacting the blog owner and asking for a time slot close to or on your book's release date.) You don't want to stop at a blog about Werewolves when on tour about your Cookbook...unless, of course, your cookbook is all about what werewolves love to eat!

You get my point: women's fiction for women's fiction; mystery for mystery; and so on...

#2 - SHINE!

This is your time to shine.

Remember the guest post/interview/giveaway is all to sell YOUR BOOK. Period. So make sure the guest post you write helps to promote your book. Make sure the interview questions you answer helps engage readers enough that they want to look you up and buy your book.

On my B&B blog, I often let guest authors help direct the interview in a direction they need for their marketing purposes. I know what I like to ask, but that might not be best for this specific blog tour stop. You can always go back :)

So always ask if you can set your own interview questions so you can get the most bang for your blog stop.

Above all, be personal. Be honest. Be fun (if that's appropriate for your brand.) This is all about you and your book. Don't lose sight of that.


This is the MOST important aspect of your blog tour and yet is so often overlooked.

YOU need to share your blog interview/post/giveaway:

On your website.

In your newsletter.

On all of your social media outlets.

Do not rely on the blog owner to do all your marketing for you. They are not as invested in your success as you are. Yes, they will probably share the your guest post/interview/giveaway on all their social media outlets.

But REMEMBER...This is YOUR baby!

So share the links. Don't forget the power of free word of mouth :)

And REMEMBER#2... You are new to this. You're building your brand. You're building your readership.

So, make it work for you and your book!!


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Writing a Novel Based on True Events... Should You Do It?

My Grandmother was in town for the holidays and while at my house - freezing and watching my pathetic attempts to start a fire using my first draft - she asked to read a few pages.

I beat around the bush for as long as she'd let me. "I don't know. This is my first draft and my second draft on the computer is so much better."

"Computer?" Grandma isn't a technology friend. "Just give me a few pages."

So I flipped through what was left and found some relatively good pages - safe page - as what I've written about is taken from my life, and a not so nice part of it. She read through what I handed to her, decided that yes, first drafts do suck, and added then to the fire herself.

"See, Grandma. Told ya so."

However, this brought up something rather important. Something that I think everyone should consider when thinking about writing a novel based on a true story or true life events. Especially real life events that instantly make people you know say, "Hey. I know who you're writing about...That's you!"

If you are thinking of taking your life's experiences and putting them into your book, or making the book all about them, there are questions that I think you really need to sit down with yourself and answer...

Do you really want this story to get out?
Because once it's out, it's out. I do admit, though, that writing is the best form of catharsis available. Talk therapy number two. Throwing a temper tantrum where you get to break something number three. So if you are ready and you don't mind others knowing and you want to write a book about it...go for it. Just make certain you are ready.

Are you okay with EVERYONE knowing? Grandmas included?
When you start writing your book about your own true life experiences, you might have all these lofty ideas that you're going to be fine once it all comes out. Because let's be honest, you're not going to show everyone the book until it gets published. And if it gets published? Who cares! You'll be so excited to even notice anyone's curious glances... HOWEVER, let's shed that daydream for just a second. Everyone you know will want to get a copy of your book...and read it. Are you okay with that? Really? Be honest with yourself... Are you?

Alright...What are you okay with them knowing?
Most fiction work is born directly from the author's life experiences. We write what we know. Otherwise there's no authenticity to it and that's when we loose readers. So it's obvious that we all already write 'based on a true story' to some degree. But what parts of what really happened need to be in your book? Remember, you can always leave out bits and pieces and still make it work for your story. Not everything has to be in there. Especially people's names. In the words of Stephen King (paraphrasing, of course) "Unless you want to be sued, use fake ones."

And lastly...What is your comfort level?
Most importantly, keep in mind that you're comfort level TODAY might not be equal to your comfort level a year from today. So when you're sitting down with yourself - minus your pride, inner sensors, and anything else that gets in the way of you being totally open with yourself - really ask yourself about your level of comfort. Think about what you'll feel like a year from now. Five years. Ten. And so on.

Above all, be honest with yourself. And if you're not sure, test the waters. Give a sample to a close friend and hone in on what you feel the moment those pages leave your hands. Do you want to snatch them back and say, "Forget it! Never mind!" Or are you freely giving over your real life thoughts and feelings to others to read, dwell on, talk about, and share with others, so on and so on...

Writing a novel based on true life events can be fun, therapeutic, and useful, in the sense that you already have some of your story outlined for you. Whether or not you should really do it, and whether it will work in your story is up to you.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Why You Can’t Make the Draft Without Making the Time... by guest author Harrison Demchick

Good morning writers! Today we have with us return guest author Harrison Demchick to talk with us about how to make time for writing. Because, as we all know, it's not an easy task. However, it's a necessary one if you want to realize your writing dreams, right? So, without further adieu, here's his words on...

Why You Can’t Make the Draft Without Making the Time
by guest author Harrison Demchick

A couple weeks ago, my friend Jen finished her first draft.

I was there when it happened. Since August of 2013, my friends and I have been meeting every Sunday for what we’ve come to call Write Club. Write Club, as our matching T-shirts indicate—yes, we have matching T-shirts—is a time for writing, and nothing but. It’s a four-hour window during which the only priority is each of us developing our own individual projects. Jen, also the designer of the aforementioned T-shirts, had spent the preceding several months almost finished her first novel. Any Sunday in that span could have been the day, but then there was always something else that had to be written, and logic issues to hurdle, and all of the other things that make finishing a draft so frustrating. The end, somehow, seemed to move further and further away. Until it didn’t.

Jen didn’t have to say anything when she finished her draft. I knew. I could see it in the look on her face as she stared at her laptop screen. I expect I looked much the same early this year when I finished the first draft of my screenplay Ape Canyon. It’s a pretty incredible feeling, the warmth tiptoeing its way across your neck and down your arms, into the fingers that have devoted hours, days, months, years to the completion of that one magical story completely and entirely your own. Your heart pounds, and the tension floats away like misty rain on a summer night. The world becomes a pretty spectacular place to be.

I’d already been working on Ape Canyon for a couple years when we started Write Club. Though actually, working is a strong word. I’d started Ape Canyon, for sure, and I’d written some pages, and by the summer we began Write Club I was trying to devote time every weekend to writing. I’ve always been a disciplined writer, and moreover a writer who works best in solitude, so I was confident I could maintain that routine and, simultaneously, skeptical that the writing group friends had proposed from time to time would be of any use. I didn’t need it, and if I was going to spend time with friends, I wanted to spend it having fun, not working quietly on my own projects.

But the truth is that the day we started Write Club is the day I began to build momentum on Ape Canyon. I completed in five months what I’d been tinkering with on and off for two years. It was amazing, and it felt amazing. And I knew that it would never have happened had I not forced into my schedule at least four hours every week to devote to writing. The existence of a group kept me accountable. It kept us all accountable. It became the highlight of my week, and it’s the reason that I’ve never been more productive as a writer than I am today.

Now if there’s anyone who shouldn’t have the time to devote to writing, it’s Jen. Jen is one of the most absurdly talented and driven people I’ve ever met, but these attributes also make her extraordinarily busy pretty much at all times. She works in publishing during the days. She works on her art around the clock (which you can see for yourself at She works in architecture and design when she can. Her obligations have obligations.

And yet she still makes the time nearly every week to come to Write Club and work. This devotion of time and energy is the reason she was able to experience the unmatchable high of completing the first draft of a manuscript on which she’d worked seven years.

Jen has finished any number of amazing projects in the interval. And I wasn’t being idle either while Ape Canyon was in progress. I wrote a couple work-for-hire screenplays. I wrote songs. I was creative. But neither Jen nor I was devoting the time to writing until we started Write Club and made that effort every single week.

Another thing Jen and I have in common is a background in publishing, which means that our expectations are realistic. That is to say, Jen may have completed that first draft, but the next step is editing and revision, and this, too, will take a lot of time and a lot of energy. It was the same for me when I finished the first draft of my novel, The Listeners, and for that matter I don’t imagine that I’m entirely finished with Ape Canyon. The end of the first draft is not the end. In a lot of ways, the end of the first draft is just the beginning.

But it’s a pretty incredible benchmark. It’s a tremendous accomplishment to reach it. It’s the first part of the whole process during which you can sit back and say, I’ve done this. I wrote a book. I’m a writer. 

And writers write. They take the time, and if there isn’t time, they make it. That time doesn’t need to be four hours on Sunday. It can be a half hour every morning or a writing binge at midnight every Thursday. That time doesn’t need to be with a writing group, either. But if it weren’t for attending Write Club and making the time to write, Jen wouldn’t have a completed draft of her novel, and I wouldn’t have Ape Canyon. If you don’t take the time to write, you will never know that feeling Jen experienced on a very important Sunday just a couple weeks ago. It’s worth it.

Harrison Demchick came up in the world of small press publishing, working along the way on more than three dozen published novels and memoirs, several of which have been optioned for film. An expert in manuscripts as diverse as young adult, science-fiction, fantasy, mystery, literary fiction, women's fiction, memoir, and everything in-between, Harrison is known for quite possibly the most detailed and informative editorial letters in the industry—if not the entire universe.

Harrison is also an award-winning, twice-optioned screenwriter, and the author of literary horror novel The Listeners (Bancroft Press, 2012). He's currently accepting new clients in fiction and memoir at Ambitious Enterprises ( 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

WHAT THE LADY WANTS is like GONE WITH THE WIND meets the North... a BB B&B Book Review

by Lia Mack

When guest author Renee Rosen sent me her newest novel WHAT THE LADY WANTS as a thank you, I was touched. 

A free book for me? How sweet! 

I wasn't sure when I'd get around to reading it as my own editor is tapping fingers, waiting for me to send back my manuscript, and I already had 4 books in my currently-reading-pile. But when I saw the cover - with it's opulent texture and lovely font - I added it to the pile right away. Then, when I had a free moment, I sat down and opened the book to page one. 

Page one sucked me right in. Renee Rosen's writing voice is vibrant as well as sensual. It draws the reader in in a way that, before you know it, you're elbow deep into the book and you're not sure where the time went. 

WHAT THE LADY WANTS starts off with a hot-as-fire attraction between the main characters amidst the Great Chicago Fire. Being the snob reader I am - and always pressed for time - I wasn't interested in a history lesson and had planned on skipping ahead, but Renee Rosen's historical fiction didn't read as a one. Her characters are so alive on the page, it was like I was there, running with the main character, Delia, trying to find her way through a town ablaze. That, and the scene reminded me so much of Scarlet O'Hara and Rhett Butler trapped in the fiery ball of Atlanta. 

And just like GONE WITH THE WIND, WHAT THE LADY WANTS takes on the task of rebuilding. Only rebuilding to the lavish degree. Gowns, balls, elite gatherings. I kept thinking, "WHAT THE LADY WANTS is like GONE WITH THE WIND meets the North." I half expected Delia to invite Miss Scarlet O'Hara over for tea and the latest town gossip. However, the Great Chicago fire was in 1871, just on the brink of the industrial revolution. 

Only, it was the revolution of shopping - oddly enough - that WHAT THE LADY WANTS is focused on. I'm not a big shopper myself, but now that I have seen the evolution first hand through the eyes of Rosen's characters - Marshall Field specifically - I see how his vision of giving the lady what she wants is quintessentially the very reason we have shops and malls and "experiences" as we do today. No one thought the way he did and no one valued a lady's opinion like he did either. Not back then.  

One reviewer stated that there are contemporary elements to this story that set it apart from other historical fictions, but I disagree that these elements are truly "contemporary." Rather, they are honest. And it is with this honesty that Renee Rosen sets this historical fiction apart from others as she doesn't skip over nor hide these so-called "contemporary" elements that have only been a part of the human experience since the beginning of time. I won't spoil it though -- you'll just have to read the book for yourself!

I actually cried toward the end. You  will come to love Renee Rosen's characters so much that you don't want to watch when tragedy strikes. Thankfully you get to cheer along with them when they triumph over all! And the love. Ah, the love... I'm a sucker for Love ;)

Bottom Line: 

WHAT THE LADY WANTS is a grand and magnificent story with characters you'll love to the end.

The fact that I read this book and this book alone until the end makes it 5 stars. I don't usually stay with one book, one voice, one story line unless it's engaging enough to keep me in the mood for more.

So, 5 stars, Renne! 

I'm inspired so much, I think I'll be planning a trip to Chicago some time in the future so I can see all the buildings from the book - especially the Lady's Half Mile. 

Can't wait for your next novel :)


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Baltimore's Very Own Literary Horror Writer Harrison Demchick, author of THE LISTENERS... Today @ the BB B&B

Welcome back to Lia Mack's Writing Retreat :)

In honor of Halloween week and all things horrifying and disturbing, I'm excited to have with us again Baltimore's very own literary horror writer Harrison Demchick, author of The Listeners (Bancroft Press, 2012).

The Listeners (Bancroft Press, 2012)
"Harrison Demchick has written a beautiful and disgusting, wonderful and horrifying book with a strong voice and lyrical quality . . ."  —Ageless Pageless Reviews

Harrison Demchick

Lia Mack: I'm glad it's still light outside as I'm already a bit creeped out by your book cover

Can you please start us off by telling a little about yourself:

Harrison Demchick: Most of the time, I'm a developmental editor with editorial boutique Ambitious Enterprises. What this means is that I work with authors of fiction and memoirs on improving all elements of their work, from character arc to logic to story structure and dialogue and everything in-between. It also means I get to read for a living, and to analyze stories for a living, all of which I absolutely love. When I'm not doing that, I spend my time being very odd, frequently in ways that have to do with Spider-Man, but often also in ways that have to do in some respect with writing, whether it's a song or a story or something else entirely.

Lia Mack: Can you tell us a little about your book?

Harrison Demchick: The Listeners is a coming-of-age story in a literary horror context. In a borough quarantined due to an airborne illness that causes deformity, insanity, and death, a 14-year-old boy named Daniel, orphaned by the plague, is caught up with a one-eared gang/cult called the Listeners. But all he really wants is to find his best friend Katie, trapped elsewhere in the quarantine.

Lia Mack: What was the most challenging aspect of writing this particular story?

The Listeners has undergone so many transformations that it's difficult to say. In its screenplay form, it wasn't my first--not by a long shot--but it was my first original. My background was in writing short stories, so developing a full-length narrative was a substantial challenge. The biggest turning point in all of that may have come once a film producer became interested. His feedback completely changed the third act of the story, which proved to be fundamental in completing Daniel's character arc.

On the novel side, the greatest challenge was the process of rediscovering my prose voice, and more specifically the appropriate voice for this novel. As formats alone, screenplays and novels operate with a drastically different language, meaning that, although the substance of the story is the same in both formats, the way it's told--and so much of an effective novel is based upon the way it's told--has changed substantially. It took a lot of trial and error to find the style that worked for me, and then quite a bit of revision to rein myself back when that style became overbearing.

Lia Mack: Ultimate question...Why do you write?

Harrison Demchick: Because I can't not. If I didn't write, all these weird ideas and narratives and character interactions would spend all their time bouncing around in my head, in which case there might not be room for anything else. I've been doing it since kindergarten--or at least that's the earliest record that exists, as my parents still have my carefully illustrated story about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Writing is intrinsic to who I am. I can't really imagine my life without it.

Lia Mack: Can you describe a bit how your venture into writing looked like? How did you come to be a writer as your career?

Harrison Demchick: Well, writing isn't my career just yet. Writing is rarely an author's career, and if it is, then they've become spectacularly successful at it--which would be great, obviously, and I'm working hard to make it happen in one way or another. But as far as my venture into publishing, or specifically publishing The Listeners, I came at it in an unusual way. I've been working in the publishing industry since my first internship in the summer of 2005, which is coincidentally the same time I began work on The Listeners.

So while I was learning to be an editor, The Listeners was always there, though not necessarily in its present form. At first it was a series of short stories. Then it became a screenplay, which was optioned for film; then, finally, on the eventual publisher's advice, I adapted it into a novel.

But even then, I wasn't sure I was going to pursue publishing--not because I wasn't proud of The Listeners, but because being in the publishing industry is a bit of a mixed blessing. On one hand, you know the field and know what goes into making a book successful; on the other hand, you know what goes into making a book successful--and that's marketing. Most of the time, it's an incredible effort that yields very little regardless of the quality of the book. I'd been Sisyphus too many times, advocating for terrific novels I'd had the opportunity to edit, like Ron Cooper's Purple Jesus and Elizabeth Leiknes's The Understory. I hated marketing--still do--and didn't want to take on that fight for The Listeners.

Fortunately, I had enough people around me to tell me how stupid that was. I'd written a novel--a really good novel. It should be published. And the publisher that had recommended I write the story as a novel was interested in publishing it. So that's what we did, and I am very glad about it. And the marketing hasn't even been all that horrible.

Lia Mack: If you don't mind me asking, what are you working on now?

Harrison Demchick: I've actually just finished the first draft of my second entirely original screenplay, and a vastly different one at that. It's a cryptozoological dramedy called Ape Canyon, in which a guy in the midst of a quarter-life crisis drags his big sister along on a Bigfoot-hunting expedition. Alongside that, I'm collaborating with a friend on a zombie musical called Brains. I've written a couple recent short stories, and I've been contemplating releasing a short story collection.

Maybe, someday, I'll write another novel, but right now I have no such plans.

Lia Mack: A zombie musical! I'd like to see that ;)

What does your typical writing day look like?

Harrison Demchick: The idea of typical has undergone a pretty radical transformation in the last few months. For me, writing has always been an isolated activity, and I'm generally self-motivated enough that, if I sit down at my computer and decide I'm going to write, I will get something done. So when my friends would suggest that we get together for "writing parties" in which we would all sit down at a table and work on our individual projects, I was skeptical. I didn't think I would or could be productive in that environment.

But I was seriously wrong. Since we started our writing parties, I have been absurdly productive. And when you're absurdly productive, writing carries with it a high like little else. Without these sessions, I would not yet have finished Ape Canyon. I don't even know if I'd be close.

So now, a typical writing day includes me and a friend or three, either in a coffee shop or at my apartment, working for hours on whatever it is we happen to be writing. If any of us is stuck on something, we can ask the writers around us for feedback. If I write a line of dialogue I particularly like, I can get immediate confirmation as to whether or not it works. It's made writing more fun for me than it's been in years.

Lia Mack: Can you share a photo of what your writing space looks like?

Harrison Demchick: I don't know if I can. I don't own a camera. There's a camera in my computer, but it can't take pictures of itself, and the computer is pretty much the most important part. I'll see if I can come up with something.

Lia Mack: Do you read while you write? What are you reading now?

Harrison Demchick: I'm an editor, so I'm always reading--but most of what I'm reading is unpublished. And when reading is your job, as wonderful as that is, it's often not what you find yourself wanting to do with your free time. But I'm in the middle of a book of H. P. Lovecraft short stories, and there's quite a lot on my bookshelf I'm looking to dive into should I ever go on one of those "vacation" things I've heard so much about.

Lia Mack: If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself if you could speak to the aspiring writer you once were?

Harrison Demchick: You know, I honestly don't think I would change anything. Maybe I would clue myself in to the fun of writing with a group, but most likely I'd just leave myself to figure it out on my own.

Besides which, as a dedicated science-fiction and comic book nerd, I know that messing around with the past has terrible repercussions. I go back in time to give myself advice on writing, and the next thing I know, I've never been born and the president is a stegosaurus.

Lia Mack: Thank you so much for being our guest author today. Where can BB readers go online to find you and your work?

Harrison Demchick: Well, they can always check out my poorly maintained website,, or my slightly better maintained Facebook page, (I don't really have an aptitude for this social media stuff), but if they want to buy the book, they can do that on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or wherever books are sold. The paperback just launched this past weekend.