#BlogTour #CoverReveal: Rhapsody by Mitchell James Kaplan

Rhapsody by Mitchell James Kaplan

Paperback Publication Date: December 7, 2021
Gallery Books
Paperback; 352 pages

Genre: Biographical/Literary/Historical

“[A] shining rendition of Swift and Gershwin’s star-crossed love.” —Therese Anne Fowler, New York Times bestselling author

In the vein of the New York Times bestseller Loving Frank, this fascinating and compelling novel “will have you humming, toe-tapping, and singing along with every turn of the page” (Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author) as it explores the decade-long relationship between the celebrated composer George Gershwin and gifted musician Katharine “Kay” Swift.

When Katharine “Kay” Swift—the restless but loyal society wife of wealthy banker James Warburg and a serious pianist who longs for recognition—attends a performance of Rhapsody in Blue by a brilliant, elusive young musical genius named George Gershwin, her world is turned upside down. Transfixed, she’s helpless to resist the magnetic pull of George’s talent, charm, and swagger. Their ten-year love affair, complicated by her conflicted loyalty to her husband and the twists and turns of her own musical career, ends only with George’s death from a brain tumor at the age of thirty-eight.

Set in Jazz Age New York City, this stunning work of fiction explores the timeless bond between two brilliant, strong-willed artists. George Gershwin left behind not just a body of work unmatched in popular musical history, but a woman who loved him with all her heart, knowing all the while that he belonged not to her, but to the world.

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“Kaplan (By Fire, by Water) builds an enchanting world featuring musical giants George Gershwin and Kay Swift… This spellbinding and luminous tale will linger in readers’ minds long after the final page is turned.” – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

“Snappy dialogue and lush prose bring the Jazz Age to life as Kaplan takes readers from Harlem rent parties to the stage lights of Broadway… A sumptuous fictional account of a complex real-life romance, this book will stick in readers’ heads like the melody of a favorite ballad.”– Booklist

“RHAPSODY does it all. The novel flows as lyrically through Kaplan’s prose as the wail of the saxophones and crescendos of Gershwin’s keyboards. You can almost hear the taxi horns and clopping hooves of carriage horses in Central Park through his words as you imagine riding down Park Avenue past the towering edifices of lush mansions. As Kay becomes so absorbed in her performing as to be swept away from her audience, I read this book under that same captivation as minutes flowed into hours. Only my noisy team of hungry terriers could break my concentration.”– Bookreporter.com

“Kaplan’s sweeping novel, spanning the years 1917 to 1937, portrays the life of Kay Swift, one of Broadway’s first female composers, extracting her from the shadow of her colleague and lover, George Gershwin… The history is engrossing… Kaplan’s propulsive style imparts a momentum of its own…The many disquisitions, on topics as varied as the underpinnings of American anti-Semitism to the misappropriation of Black culture by well-intentioned Whites, are interesting and important… Our verdict: Get it.”- Kirkus

“A complex and involving story… It is difficult to imagine living a more incredible first half of a life than Swift’s, and Mitchell James Kaplan’s prose luxuriates in depicting her surprising and wildly artistic world.” – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Kaplan’s well-researched and well-crafted historical novel recreates the 1920s and ’30s, telling a mesmerizing story that examines their individual and intersecting lives. He explores why, for Gershwin and Swift, ‘ordinary results’ were not enough.” – Yale Alumni Magazine

“Kaplan’s vivid prose and empathetic characterization shines a spotlight on this remarkable woman who contributed so much to American music.”—Melanie Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue and Mistress of the Ritz

“A luminous journey through the jazz age in fast-paced New York City… I was utterly swept away.”—Stephanie Cowell, American Book Award–winning author of Claude and Camille and The Physician of London

“We all know Gershwin, but how many know he was ‘the man behind the woman,’ the conflicted, extraordinary Katharine ‘Kay’ Swift? Mitchell James Kaplan illuminates her in Rhapsody, bringing his impressive knowledge of history, composition, and the heart’s whims to bear on this shining rendition of Swift and Gershwin’s star-crossed love.”—Therese Anne Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of Z and A Good Neighborhood

“Mitchell James Kaplan’s Rhapsody shines a blazing light on the celebrated George Gershwin, uncovering the man behind the legend through the story of the woman he loved, Kay Swift, a brilliant musician caught in the swiftly moving mores of New York’s Jazz Age. Rich with history and packed with intricate detail, Rhapsody soars.”—Randy Susan Meyers, bestselling author of The Widow of Wall Street and Waisted

“Mitchell James Kaplan pens a lilting, jazzy ballad as catchy as a Gershwin tune, bringing to vibrant life the complicated relationship between classically trained composer Kay Swift and freewheeling star George Gershwin. Their musical bond is as powerful as their passion, and jazz-soaked, gin-drenched Broadway is their playground through the tumultuous years of the Great War and Prohibition. Rhapsody will have you humming, toe-tapping, and singing along with every turn of the page.”—Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network and The Huntress

About the Author

Mitchell James Kaplan graduated with honors from Yale University, where he won the Paine Memorial Prize for Best Long-Form Senior Essay submitted to the English Department. His first mentor was the author William Styron.

After college, Kaplan lived in Paris, France, where he worked as a translator, then in Southern California, where he worked as a screenwriter and in film production.

He lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with his family and two cats.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

What an absolutely gorgeous cover! The pops of blue, the colorful jewelry, and the sheet music all stand out. This cover will definitely catch the eye of potential readers as they are scrolling through books on Amazon and other sites. What do you think?

Blog Tour & Interview: Songbird #AuthorInterview #GermanShepherds #HistoricalFiction

To celebrate the blog tour for Gail Meath’s Songbird, we sat down and talked about the book, the series to come, and the editing process, because I was fortunate enough to get to edit this book. And of course, we discuss Ace, the star German Shepherd. See our interview below.


Meet Jax Diamond, a sharp, sophisticated, skilled, no-nonsense private detective.  Or is he?  Glued to his side is his canine partner, Ace, a fierce and unrelenting German Shepherd whose mere presence terrorizes criminals into submission.  Well, maybe not.

But the two of them are a whole lot smarter than they look.  And they have their hands full when a playwright’s death is declared natural causes, and his new manuscript worth a million bucks is missing.

Laura Graystone, a beautiful rising Broadway star, is dragged into the heart of their investigation, and she’s none too happy about it.  Especially when danger first strikes, and she needs to rely on her own ingenuity to save their hides.

Join Jax, Laura and Ace on a fun yet deadly ride during the Roaring Twenties that takes twists and turns, and a race against time to find the real murderer before he/she/they stop them permanently.


Gail Meath

What is unique about this stop on the book tour is that you and I know each other.  We became friends online, and then you gave me the opportunity to edit Songbird.  I thought the readers might want to know a little bit about what that was like.    

I had done reviews of your books, and we became friends.  I had nonfiction editing experience, but was looking for some experience editing fiction. I asked you if I could do some editing for you in order to get that experience, and you agreed. I had the privilege of editing Songbird.  It has been so enjoyable.   You definitely make the process easier because the copy you give me is very clean and I’m able to do more content editing.  You send me little research gems as well, which is very fun.  I truly enjoy working with you.   

Tell me how you feel about the editing process so far?

A good editor is worth their weight in gold to an author, and you have been a blessing to me, Bonnie.  Since we became friends first, working with you is so comfortable and fun!  From finding missed words to run-on or unclear sentences to overall content and help with research, especially, you make sure the manuscript isn’t just clean, it’s polished.  It never occurred to me that hamburgers weren’t a household staple in 1920s!   

Tell us about this series, the Jax Diamond series, and where you see it going?

Well, the first book, Songbird, was released this November.  It is set in 1923 in New York City on Broadway.  Jax Diamond is a private investigator and Ace is his German Shepherd sidekick.  The other main character,  Laura, is a Broadway actress and singer.   I am working on the second book, Framed, right now, and it is also set in New York City.  I have an idea for a third book that will take the characters to a small town temporarily.  There is also a prequel in the works that I will release at some point.  It is about how Jax and Ace met.

In the first book, we are of course introduced to Jax, Laura, and Ace.  You have told me that Ace was inspired by your own dog, who has since passed away.  Tell me about her.

Her name was Gretchen and she was the most amazing German Shepherd.  She actually belonged to someone else, and when I met her, we just hit it off right away.  She began to follow me as I was leaving and I just decided to buy her from her previous owners.  They were well paid, and I was rewarded even more by having this amazing friend in my life. She is truly missed.

Ace, though inspired by Gretchen, is a male shepherd.   Why did you make him a male instead of a female like Gretchen?

 I had already decided on the name Jax Diamond for the lead character in the book, and I wanted his dog to follow the playing card theme and be named Ace.  Ace sounded more like a male name to me at the time, so Ace is a boy.  But Gretchen is definitely the inspiration, and Ace has many of Gretchen’s unique traits. 

Tell me about the writing process.  You were sending me chapters to edit very quickly.  I couldn’t believe how fast Songbird was coming out.  From my perspective, you had it written in  no time.  Is this faster than normal for you?

Songbird is my first cozy mystery, and while it definitely needed research, I did not have to do as much as I have for my more in-depth historical fiction, such as Agustina De Aragon and Countess Jacqueline.  That did make the process go faster.

Your books are so well researched.  Is research your favorite part of the process?

Yes.  I love learning about different people, places, and events in history that I never knew about before.  That’s why I love writing about lesser-known heroines such as the heroine in Agustina de Aragon.

Longer version: I nearly failed history in high school, and I was a good student!  I started researching on my own and found history so fascinating! I determined it was the way the teacher taught it that didn’t hold my interest.  I’ve been researching ever since, just on my own.

Do you know how many books you want to write in the Jax Diamond series? 

I am not sure right now.  As I mentioned, in addition to Songbird, I have three more planned out, including the prequel novella, and the we’ll see what happens.

Do you know when the second book in the series, Framed, will be published?

I have the book release date as April 1 (April Fool’s Day), but I will probably release it sooner, in March of 2022.

Thanks so much, Gail, for taking the time out for this interview. 












Self-Published Saturday: Another Free Book!

This beautiful book of poetry accompanied by photographs of God’s creation is available on Booksirens at this link: https://booksirens.com/book/E7BGDOY

If you are not yet a Booksirens reviewer, you can sign up here. It is a great way to get free ARCs and support indie authors.

It is also a “Read Now” on Netgalley and can be downloaded here.

You can sign up to be a Netgalley reviewer Here. To review on Netgalley, you have to be a bookseller, educator, librarian, media, or reviewer. However, they accept social media reviewers and accepted me when I was only reviewing on Goodreads.

If you are an indie/self-published author reading this and want me to share the link to your book on Netgalley or Booksirens, let me know.

Book Blast: Eleanora and Joseph


** Not a Book Review


Publication Date: July 21, 2020
New Academia Publishing/The Spring
Paperback & eBook; 198 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/Biographical

The novel opens with aristocratic Eleonora Fonseca Pimentel pleading with the High Court of Naples to be beheaded instead of hanged like a criminal. One of the leading revolutionaries of her time, Eleonora contributed to the establishment of the Neapolitan Republic, based on the ideals of the French Revolution. Imprisoned in 1799 after the return of the Bourbon Monarchy – due to her work as editor-in-chief of Il Monitore Napoletano – and while waiting to be sentenced, she writes a memoir. Here, she discusses not only her revolutionary enthusiasm, but also the adolescent lover who abandoned her, Joseph Correia da Serra.

While visiting Monticello many years later, Joseph discovers Eleonora’s manuscript in Thomas Jefferson’s library. Now retired, Jefferson is committed to founding the University of Virginia and entices Correia with a position in the institution, once it opens. As the two philosophes explore Eleonora’s writing through the lens of their own lives, achievements, and follies, they share many intimate secrets.

Told from Eleonora and Joseph’s alternating points of view, the interwoven first-person narratives follow the characters from the elegant salons of Naples to the halls of Monticello, from the streets of European capitals such as Lisbon, London, and Paris to the cultured new world of Philadelphia and the chic soirées in Washington.
Eleonora and Joseph were both prominent figures of the Southern European Enlightenment. Together with Thomas Jefferson, they formed part of The Republic of Letters, a formidable network of thinkers who radically influenced the intellectual world in which they lived – and which we still inhabit today.




“Rodrigues’ writing is beautiful, and she brings the historical characters to life. The novel is told in alternating chapters, interspersing the conversations between Joseph and Jefferson at Monticello with Eleonora’s memoir, which Joseph is reading. The scenes at Monticello are fascinating, with Joseph and Jefferson discussing a wide range of topics, including slavery, revolution, and science. Rodrigues makes the reader sympathize with the protagonists, and the book left me wanting to read more, especially about Eleonora.” – HISTORICAL NOVEL SOCIETY REVIEW

“Eleonora and Joseph is a passionate novel of love and revolution. In 1799, Eleonora Pimentel stands before the High Court of the Kingdom of Naples. She has been accused of treason. During her trial, Eleonora pens a memoir, giving details of the life events that led up to her arrest. Eleonora’s life was revolutionary in thought, word, and deed.Julieta Almeida Rodrigues’ Portuguese roots shine brightly in this romantic historical novel. The narrative is fictional, yet full of historical accuracy.” – READERS’ FAVORITE REVIEW

“The complex, contradictory characterizations and historical details of the Enlightenment era are skillfully handled and clarified in straightforward but descriptive prose that will satisfy both academic and non-academic readers. The most interesting player of all is Eleonora, a “martyr of liberty” whose illustrious life ends tragically at the gallows in 1799 with some of her fellow revolutionaries in Naples.” – THE US REVIEW OF BOOKS REVIEW

“Julieta Almeida Rodrigues brings these colorful historical figures to life and marries their worlds in a narrative that is vividly written, capturing not just their lives, but an era on the cusp of unprecedented social, political, and cultural change. As Thomas Jefferson plays a key role in creating the circumstances which bring Eleonora’s journal – and its revelations – to new life years after its creation, readers receive a satisfying contrast of European and American environments that embraces and explores moral, ethical, and social conundrums alike.” – MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW, Donovan’s Literary Services

“Brimming with pathos and rich in character, this is a knockout… Lush and electrifying, Rodrigues’s vibrant tale about love, morality, and duty is a searing depiction of the Enlightenment. Rodrigues’s intelligent writing brings the era alive while revealing the complexity of her vividly drawn characters. By turns luminous and tragic, the novel will ensnare readers from the first few lines and lingers in the memory long after they turn the last page.” – THE PRAIRIES BOOK REVIEW

“Eleonora and Joseph is my best read of the year so far. It’s rich in history, character, and flair. The story is told with a genuineness that prods the heart. It evokes profound questions that linger behind long after you turn the last page. Considering these factors and the impeccable editing, I rate it four out of four stars. Julieta’s work holds so much history, passion and utter brilliance within its pages that I would recommend it to anyone interested in history.” – ONLINEBOOKCLUB REVIEW

“This book allows the reader into the inner workings of this radical time where many opposing ideals were fought and died for. It is refreshing as a lover of historical fiction to read an original story like Eleonora and Joseph that brings to life important historical characters and events from a fresh new angle and lens.” – NEW PAGES, Stephanie Renee dos Santos

About the Author

Julieta Almeida Rodrigues

Julieta Almeida Rodrigues is a writer, professor, scholar, and interpreter. Born and raised in Portugal, she earned a Ph.D. at Columbia University. She is the author of two collections of short fiction, The Rogue and Other Portuguese Stories and On the Way to Red Square. The latter is a fictionalized account of her life in the diplomatic circles of Moscow in the 1980s (New Academia Publishing, Washington DC). She published a narrative work about Sintra, Portugal, entitled Hora Crepuscular/Drawing Dusk/La Hora Crepuscular (Agir, Execução Gráfica). She is a member of the Pen Club of Portugal, the Fulbright Commission Team of Evaluators in Portugal (2014 Prize for International Cooperation, the Prince of Asturias Foundation), and of CLEPUL, Center for Lusophone and European Literatures and Cultures, Faculty of Humanities, the University of Lisbon. She has taught at the University of Lisbon and at Georgetown University, and has been a Visiting Scholar at the New School (twice). She has spoken at the Foreign Service Institute, U.S. Department of State, The Chawton House Library in the United Kingdom, The International Conference on the Short Story, The American Portuguese Studies Association, and the Historical Writers of America, among other locations. She is a member of the Steering Committee of the Historical Novel Society New York City Chapter and runs, with a colleague, its Guest Speaker Program at the Jefferson Market Library. She divides her time between Manhattan and Sintra, Portugal.

For more information, visit Julieta Almeida Rodrigues’ website.


Monday, October 4
Passages to the Past

Tuesday, October 5
Cover Lover Book Review

Wednesday, October 6
Books, Ramblings, and Tea

Thursday, October 7
Bonnie Reads and Writes

Friday, October 8
100 Pages a Day

Saturday, October 9
CelticLady’s Reviews

Tuesday, October 12
A Darn Good Read

Wednesday, October 13
Jessica Belmont

Thursday, October 14
Reading is My Remedy

Friday, October 15
Michelle the PA Loves to Read

Saturday, October 16
The Cozy Book Blog

Monday, October 18
The Book Junkie Reads

Wednesday, October 20
I’m Into Books

Thursday, October 21
Carole Rae’s Random Ramblings

Book Tour and Q&A With Author Wes Verde: Jalopy

Jalopy by Wes Verde

Publication Date: May 9, 2021 Paperback & eBook; 499 pages Genre: Historical Fiction     New Jersey, 1928. All her life, Etta Wozniak has toiled on her family’s small farm, located on the outskirts of a lake resort town. After losing her mother and siblings to one misfortune or another, life has fallen into a rut of drudgery and predictability. That is, until the day she discovers something in an unlikely place; an old car. Energized by the prospects of a world beyond the one she knows, she decides to make this her last summer on the farm. However, disaster is not through with Etta yet, and there will be consequences for her upcoming departure. Art Adams, a recent college man, arrives in town for a family reunion. After years of moving from one city to another and avoiding conflict whenever it tries to find him, he becomes enamored with the lake. However, there is another reason for Art’s visit. He is to marry a woman he has never met before; an arrangement that was made on his behalf and without his knowledge. More comfortable around numbers and machines than people, Art is reluctant to confront his parents on the matter. But if he decides to do nothing, he risks losing who and what he has come to love. In a small town of farmers and firemen, musicians and moonshiners, bossy parents and barn parties, two people will come to understand what they must give up in order to have the chance to build something new.


About the Author

Wes Verde is an engineer by trade, a busybody by habit, and a lifelong Jersey boy. Writing has been a hobby in one form or another since 2006 when he started drawing 3-panel comics. When he is not putting words down, he is picking them up; the “to-read” pile only seems to grow larger. A fan of nature, he spends as much time outside as possible.

Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Enter to win a paperback copy of Jalopy by Wes Verde! The giveaway is open internationally and ends on October 2nd. You must be 18 or older to enter. Jalopy https://widget.gleamjs.io/e.js


Wes Verde graciously agreed to answer some questions and gave us great insight into the book and himself. Check out the Q&A below:

Hello Wes and thanks so much for agreeing to answer my questions.

Happy to do it. Hope your readers enjoy it as well.

What inspired you to write Jalopy?

It’s difficult to pin down one particular thing, but the prime driving force was probably a general interest in the topic. A couple years ago, I started reading history books in my spare time. You’ve probably seen the Images of America series from Arcadia Publishing that specializes in collections of old photographs from around the US. On a whim, I picked up a bunch of the ones for New Jersey towns – mostly out of curiosity for what some of my old stomping grounds looked like a century ago. A few buildings had survived to the current day, but most had been lost at one time or another. “Lost to fire,” was something that I kept seeing.

It was during this time that I rediscovered the fact that NJ was a vacation destination around this time. This had been mentioned to me previously, but it was always in passing and I never really gave it much thought. Now I was seeing the pictures. Places that today are commuter suburbs, but 100 years ago were places for residents of New York City to escape the pollution, noise, and crowds for a short while. Many of these towns – to varying degrees – had a Coney Island or Atlantic City feel, albeit on a smaller scale.

That got me wondering if there was ever a “city mouse/country mouse” moment between a vacationer and a local who got together and how they sorted out who had the better situation. From there, enough of these elements started coming together where I finally decided to put pencil to paper.

The “Jalopy” in question is an abandoned car where Etta dreams of her future.  Cars often inspire dreams for many of us–dreams of travel, adventure, success, and/or  escape.  What would you like the reader to take away from Jalopy and Etta’s dreams vs. her life experiences?

Totally agree. Cars were absolute game changers for the early 20th Century and I chose one for this reason. Travel and adventure are the obvious ones. It’s faster than walking. It carries more people than a bicycle. It’s not locked on a schedule like a train. Within practical limits you can take it off the road. In a pinch, you can sleep in it.

Escape is an interesting one. You don’t often hear about the “getaway horse” now do you? And of course, there is the less dramatic use of the word, where one is merely escaping monotony and drudgery in hopes that the grass is greener on the other side.

As for success, it will certainly expand your options for where you can work vs. where you want to live (I expect that we will see a transition of comparable significance resulting from the doozy that started in 2020). Per my earlier comment about commuter towns, it was the car that made it possible to live among trees and nature but still be able to commute east for employment. You can debate the wisdom and drawbacks of our car-dependent culture, but there’s no overstating what the automobile has accomplished for individual liberty.

At the end of the day, it’s just a tool.

When we meet Etta, she is not in a good way living in the past and trudging along, thinking only of how to get a fresh start somewhere new. On the surface, this is what she wants but not what she needs. Helen is her near opposite, and embraces her place in the social network almost to the exclusion of all other concerns. That’s not to say that we should settle for an untenable situation with people who are not worthy of our affection. Consider Art, who starts in what today we might call an unhealthy familial situation, but later (possibly spoilerish?) finds a place among people who embrace him and to whom he also contributes.

That’s probably the main thing I would hope someone takes from this story. Have dreams. Figure out where you want to be and – just as importantly – how to get there, but also recognize that it is the relationships we have with other people that give our lives meaning. I believe that this is why the trope of the small town is so enduring; it’s an idyllic model of this idea.

Your depiction of the drudgery and worry of trying to get by in the late 1920s captured the era perfectly.  What was your research process for this time period?

Aside from the local history books which I mentioned previously, a lot of it came from discussions with my grandmother. She was born in 1932, a few years after the events of the novel, but she grew up on a farm in a then-rural part of New Jersey. I attempted to remain as authentic to her experiences as possible. They grew their own vegetables and raised chickens and pigs – what soap they had was made from the tallow of their own animals. The incident with the chickens pouncing on Etta was inspired by something that actually happened to Grandma. To this day, she still uses the term “ice box” to refer to the refrigerator. The division and specialization of labor was far different than what most of us know today. They did much of it themselves – some might call that drudgery.

Other aspects were things I extrapolated from standalone facts. For example, in 1908 – when Etta would have been born – there were 2 cars per 1,000 people in the US. By the events of the novel in 1928, that number had jumped to over 200. Her formative years would have been during a time when parts of the country were surging ahead while others were being left behind. 

If you were of limited means but still wanted to hear music, church was probably your best bet. Alternatively, options for consumer radios were quickly expanding for those who could afford one. A cabinet radio like the one described in the novel would be about $1,500 adjusted for inflation. Even then, not everyone was hooked up to the electrical grid. While refrigeration was starting to become the standard, ice was largely harvested during the winter months and in some places would remain so for decades. There were many more farmers: about 30 per 100 workers at the time compared to just 2 per 100 today.

Additionally, the 18th Amendment obliged many to add beer and wine making to their list of chores… All told, that’s a lot of manual labor.

Jalopy is your first novel. What will you be working on next?

The Interwar Period in New Jersey is my literary home for the moment. There’s just so much worth exploring. As mentioned previously, it was the home of many lakeside vacation towns where residents of New York City would go to let their hair down. Novel #2 will mostly keep with this setting, but in a different direction thematically and tonally.

Not long after I started Jalopy I had this idea for a story about a heist involving a band of rogues and shysters who bite off more than they can chew. Mostly staying within the Garden State, this novel will be somewhat greater in scope and include locations of historical interest. It will also delve more into the social, industrial, and commercial concerns of the time.

Your bio describes you as an Engineer by trade.  How do your experiences as an Engineer reflect in the novel and how does an Engineer become a writer of Historical Fiction?  It’s not necessarily a traditional path for an Engineer.

Indeed, it is not a traditional path, but neither is it completely unheard of. While he doesn’t do HisFic, Andy Weir worked on software before his success with The Martian and later Project Hail Mary.

As for how such a background translates into writing – well… there’s a reason I include details like how many pedals are on a 1926 Model T vs. a 1914 Studebaker. Mechanical engineering is my specific discipline which is great for the setting of the novel. The time before electronic controls and digitization inspired many novel solutions that often blurred the line between careful design and whimsical tinkering – I love stuff like that. Early automobilists were more pilot or operator than modern drivers.

I also love to learn, especially when it comes to old machines. The description of the menagerie of farm equipment lining the walk up to Gregory’s workshop was heavily based on my experience at a farm museum in Northern New Jersey. In fact, the same place features a 1918 burgundy REO which served as the model used for the cover image.

In short, I’d say that I’m a gear head first, an engineer second, and an author as time allows. 

You self-published this novel.  What advice can you give new authors who want to self-publish?

Be patient. The time from my first handwritten notes to publication was about 25 months. That was setting aside about an hour or so each day, but even 15 minutes will add up over time if you are consistent and stick with it.

The barrier to entry has never been lower. If you have an idea and something to write with (I wrote two chapters on my phone) you can find an audience.

The cover artwork is fantastic.  Who created the cover for your first novel, and what is your opinion of the importance of the book cover in overall sales?

Angela Fernot, a friend of mine for many years and – as luck would have it – a professional artist. I believe she has something like ten years of experience (not including school) mostly doing portraits and fantasy work as well as graphic design (Link to her website is below). This may have been her first car, but you can see she’s got the hand for it. I cannot recommend her enough and will most certainly look to commission her for my own future books.

As for importance of the cover, there’s a reason we have to tell people not to judge a book by it because that’s exactly what everyone does. It’s not entirely without good reason. After all, if the author didn’t care enough to make it look good, how much effort could they have possibly put into the content?

The current trend for HisFic covers is an individual woman, often looking away from the viewer and toward a sepia-toned city or landscape. For the romance-centric, it’s a woman in a flowing gown which tells you exactly what you need to know (you Tessa Dare and Sarah MacLean fans know what I’m talking about).

To its credit, this quickly informs the potential reader what you’re about. On the other hand, there’s a fine line between looking professional (like every other book) and standing out (possibly in a bad way). There’s a whole thread somewhere featuring a bunch of book covers that are woefully apparent in their do-it-yourself quality.

If you must cut expenses somewhere in the process of getting to print, don’t do it on the cover.

Thanks Again, Wes, for taking the time out to let us get to know you better.



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Book Promo: The Awakening of Artemis

**Not a Book Review

TheAwakeningBT copyThere’s a new book coming out this month and if you enjoy science or speculative fiction, you’re going to love it! Check out The Awakening of Artemis by John Calia!


The Awakening of Artemis Expected Publication Date: September 29th, 2021 Genre: Science Fiction/ Speculative Fiction

Orphaned by war and disillusioned about her life, Diana Gutierrez-Adams is on a routine military assignment when she and her team are kidnapped by a domestic militia. She learns from her captors that her cryogenically-frozen grandfather is at the center of a high-stakes plan to steal technology that will change the world for greed and great fortune.

Challenged by the conspiracy and pulled by emotions she doesn’t fully understand, Diana’s rescue mission will change her life. What happens to her is unexpected, perhaps miraculous – an adventure that embraces all her hopes for finding her true self and her place in a world dominated by powerful elites and even more powerful artificial intelligence.

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Diana knew that everyone who lived in the pods as well as anyone officially connected to the government had an embedded chip that enabled monitoring technology to identify where every individual was at any time. The chips also measured the secretion of enzymes and hormones. Algorithms had been developed to predict everyone’s wants and needs based upon those secretions. Over time, the algorithms learned from human response and adjusted their predictions accordingly – without human intervention.

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About the Author

15247984 A Brooklyn-born, second generation American and the eldest of three boys, writing is his third career and the one about which he is most passionate. Following graduation from the US Naval Academy and active duty in the Navy, he embarked on a career in business. He began writing his blog “Who Will Lead?” in 2010 attracting over 115,000 readers. It inspired him to write his first book, an Amazon five-star rated business fable titled “The Reluctant CEO.” Currently he makes his home in Fairport, NY, a village on the Erie Canal.

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Book Promo: The Shepherd’s Burden

**Not a Book Review

The SheperdsBurden copy

Welcome to the book tour for award-winning novel, The Shepherd’s Burden by Ryan Young. Read on for more info and a chance to win a signed copy of the book (North America) or a digital edition if your are international!

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The Shepherd’s Burden

Publication Date: June 18th, 2020

Genre: Paranormal Thriller

1st Place Winner, 2020 Chanticleer International Book Awards, Paranormal Awards for Supernatural Fiction Category

Staff Sergeant Daniel Jefferies has returned home to upstate NY after nearly being killed in an ambush in Iraq. Plagued by the trauma of war, he struggles to find his place in a world that he no longer recognizes. He feels disconnected from his family and friends. But, none of his burdens are heavier than the terrifying secret that he has kept about a mysterious encounter from his youth. When a suspicious murder occurs, he will discover that he has been chosen for a purpose that transcends life and death, forcing him to confront his past. In order to stop the killer, he will have to make choices that will change the fate of the people he loves the most. Can Daniel summon the strength of mind and body, that he once had as a soldier, to face the most profound and consequential challenge of his life?


Daniel took the main route out of town. It took them through the city center and back to the site of Nella’s murder. As they approached the site, they saw a man and his young son crossing the road with their donkey. The donkey was towing a wooden cart full of produce. There was an open-air market in the city center. People traveled there to sell their goods. For many of them, it was their only source of income. The boy was four or five years old and the cart was fully loaded, so they were moving slowly. Daniel pulled to a complete stop to allow them to cross.

“Keep an eye out,” Keith yelled up to Aashirya.

It was always dangerous to be stopped in the middle of a road in Iraq. Instead of the vehicle being a moving target, which could be hard to hit, it became a stationary target, which was much easier to hit. The chances of an ambush greatly increased.

It was Keith’s job to keep his team on alert, but the heightened state of awareness didn’t change his demeanor. He was perfectly calm. He pulled out another cigarette and lit it while they waited for the man and his son to cross the road. He offered one to Daniel, but he turned it down.

“I can’t understand how nothing seems to bother you. I’ve been doing this just as long as you have. No matter how many times I’m out here, I still get nervous. I wish I knew your secret,” Daniel said.

Keith laughed it off.

“There is no secret, Danny. I told you before, nothing lasts forever. Everyone dies at some point. It’s a foregone conclusion. It’s not a question of if, but when. What’s the difference if we die now or fifty years from now? We shouldn’t fear death. We should embrace it.”

“I think you have been out here too long. You are really starting to trip me out. I think you need a long nap and a cold beer. After that, you need to get laid and seriously rethink that no-fear, embrace death bullshit. Personally, I would much rather be afraid and alive than calm and dead.”

Daniel turned his attention back towards the road. The man and his son were now directly in front of the vehicle. The boy stopped walking and turned to look at him. When they made eye contact, Daniel got an eerie feeling that something was wrong. Before he could react, a large explosion went off underneath the Humvee. The blast tossed the vehicle fifteen feet into the air, landing it on its side.



About the Author

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Ryan Young is a former Army Captain and Iraq War Veteran. He is a lover of all things fantasy and sci-fi. A native of Utica, NY, he now calls New England home.

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Giveaway: Signed Copy for North American Winner or Digital Copy for International Winner!

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Book Promo: Juche 3: The Storm of Storms

*Not a book review. Review will be posted later.

Juche copy

To celebrate the release of The Storm of Storms, book #3 in her YA Dystopian saga, Juche, Adria Carmichael is giving the first two installments away for FREE! From September 14th to the 18th, you can download The Demon of Yodok and The Weeping Masses on Amazon for zero dollars!

Juche part three - eBook - CopyThe Storm of Storms (Juche #3)

Publication Date: September 15th, 2021

Genre: YA Dystopian/ Survival

A highly addictive Young Adult Dystopian Survival Saga that will keep you glued to the pages.

Nari’s shocking revelation in the watermill changes everything in an instant, and Areum is once more faced with an impossible decision. Will she betray her sister in order to save her life, or support her and let her die? In the midst of this struggle, the storm of the century hits the camp, and life goes from hard to impossible overnight. Areum slowly comes to realize there is only one way to ensure their survival.

To escape!

But how can they escape from an escape-proof prison camp? And even if they would get past the ferocious dog patrols, the machine gun-equipped guard towers and the electrified barbed wire fence… will she be willing to condemn everyone they’re leaving behind to an inescapable end through torture and death?


The Demon of Yodok (Juche #1)Juche part one - eBook - Copy

JUCHE [dʒuːtʃe]

Just when Areum, daughter of a privileged family in the totalitarian state of Choson, thought she was free from her personal prison, her world collapses around her as her family are taken away in the middle of the night to a hell-like camp in the mountains where people who have strayed from the righteous path are brutally re-educated through blood, sweat, tears and starvation.

There she has to fight for survival together with the family she hates and is forced to re-evaluate every aspect of her life until then – her deep resentment toward her twin sister; her view of her father in face of the mounting evidence he is a traitor with the blood of millions of fellow countrymen on his hands; and even her love and affection for the Great General – the eternal savior and protector of Choson, whom she had always considered her true father.


The Weeping Masses (Juche #2)Juche part two - eBook

Areum’s hopes to be set free from the brutal political prison camp holding them is crushed, and the heinous assault on her sister plunges her into a state of shock and horror… and puts her on a collision course with her family. All hope seems to be lost. Just when she is about to give up, however, a disturbing revelation is made… and as the evil of the camp is given a face, Areum finds a new purpose to keep fighting.


But first they need to survive, and with the constantly harshening conditions and her family being targeted from all directions, daily life in Yodok turns into a never-ceasing fight to evade imminent doom.

On top of everything, an impossible tragedy strikes Choson, and the unquestionable truth Areum has built her life around is challenged to its very core.


About the Author

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Adria Carmichael is a writer of Young Adult Dystopian fiction with a twist. When she is not devouring dystopian and post-apocalyptic content in any format – books, movies, TV-series and PlayStation games – she is crafting the epic and highly-addictive Juche saga, her 2020 debut novel series that takes place in the brutal, totalitarian nation of Choson. When the limit of doom and gloom is reached, a 10K run on a sunny day or binging a silly sitcom on a rainy day is her go-to way to unwind.

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Book Blast/Promo: The Rake of Hearts

*Not a book review

The Rake of Hearts by Emily Windsor

Publication Date: August 23, 2021
Senara Press Ltd

Series: A Lady to Suit, Book 2
Genre: Regency Romance

When the heart is afire…
By his own admission, Lord Ernest Brook is a rake. With sapphire gaze, sinfully handsome looks and a duke for a brother, the pleasures of London have come with ease…apart from one.
Ever since the gauntlet of her first wintry dismissal was thrown, the widowed Hebe Lock has stirred his deepest desires, but just what would it take to woo such a woman?

Sparks will fly.
Hebe Locke has vowed to never again fall for a scoundrel after her brief marriage to one left her broken and haunted.
Now she finds comfort with paintbrush and canvas, but as a female artist in a male world, commissions are as rare as a ballroom without rakes.

A castle of enchantment.
As the heat of late summer warms the land, an ancient, moated castle plays host to a widow and a rake, both concealing passions contrary to their reputations.
But as Lord Ernest awakens Hebe’s desire and thaws her frozen emotions, can she hold true to her vow?
Or can this rake win the one heart he yearns for?

Sensual Regency romance with warmth and wit, this tale also includes a disreputable aunt with a secondary love story, Cotswold country fairs, sinful masquerades and…a goat.

Amazon US | Amazon UK

A Lady to Suit Series

1 – The Duke of Diamonds – Out now!
2 – The Rake of Hearts – Out now!
3 – The Earl of Spades – Coming soon
4 – The Prince of Clubs – Coming soon


“Five gleaming stars for this amazing Regency romance.” -Bookbub Reviewer

If you love historical romance, you can’t do without this wonderful book.” -Goodreads Reviewer

“This is a beautiful historical romance where our author paints a picture just as well with her words as our heroine with her sketches.” -Bookbub Reviewer

“A little masterpiece.” -Bookbub Reviewer

About the Author

Emily Windsor grew up in the north of England on a diet of historical romance and strong tea.

Unfortunately, you couldn’t study Regency slang, so she did the next best thing and gained a degree in Classics and History instead. This ‘led’ to an eight-year stint in engineering.

Having left city life, she now lives in a dilapidated farmhouse where her days are spent writing, fixing the leaky roof, battling the endless vegetation and finding pictures of well-tied cravats.

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Friday, August 27
Novels Alive
Bonnie Reads and Writes
What Is That Book About
Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Saturday, August 28
Pursuing Stacie
Passages to the Past
Reading is My Remedy
Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Sunday, August 29
Coffee and Ink
Saynab Reads Books
The Cozy Book Blog
CelticLady’s Reviews


Enter to win a $15 Amazon Gift Card & an eBook of The Rake of Hearts!

The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on August 29th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

The Rake of Hearts