Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Interview with Rosemary Mild, Author of 'In My Next Life I'll Get It Right'

“To hope is normal, to expect is naïve”—wise advice that Rosemary Mild’s psychoanalyst father taught her, and which she too often ignores. 

Rosemary is an award-winning writer of personal essays that have appeared in the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, Chess Life, Generations, and elsewhere. As a retired editor, she’s a long-time member of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a Silver Owl (twenty-five-year member) of the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Rosemary grew up in Milwaukee and graduated from Smith College. In 2013, she and Larry moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, where they cherish time with their daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren. When not dreaming up outrageous ideas for her essays, she and Larry stalk villains and solve crimes as coauthors of more than a dozen mystery and suspense novels and story collections. They’re members of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime (Larry’s a Mister), and Hawaii Fiction Writers. 

Visit her website at

Congratulations on the release of your book, In My Next Life I’ll Get It Right. When did you start writing and what got you into nonfiction?

About twenty-five years ago, after leaving my career as an editor (which I started at Harper’s Magazine in New York). My second husband, Larry, and I lived in Severna Park, Maryland, a bedroom community between Baltimore and Annapolis. I had a chance to write four articles on “Artists of the Chesapeake,” for the Baltimore Sun. Then I felt inspired to write essays about my own life: Playing Barbie Dolls with our little granddaughters. My run-in with a bank because I accepted a new credit card just to get a free T-shirt at a baseball game. I published a bunch of those in Washington Woman and Washington Parent. 

What is your book about? 

My essays reflect my quirky, sharp, often laugh-out-loud view of life, like taking the wrong cart at the grocery store. My senior “decade.” Auditioning to become a contestant on Jeopardy! Medical mishaps pushing Larry in his wheelchair. The risks of a grandma’s bragging rights. I also encompass the opposite spectrum, poignant and appreciative, including our son-in-law in the Honolulu Marathon and delivering Meals on Wheels. 

In “Life with Larry” I tell how, on our first date, he asked me to write a novel with him—even though neither of us had ever written a word of fiction. I have another chapter on our writing murder mysteries together. And haven’t killed each other yet!   

The last chapter is the most heart-rending, about our twenty-year-old daughter Miriam Luby Wolfe. We lost her in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. She was a superb writer. I end the book with her inspiring words, beautiful advice we can all use.   

What was your inspiration for it?

My mother was a professional writer. She wrote feature stories for The Milwaukee Journal, Parents Magazine, American Home, Colliers, and elsewhere. She was my role model. 

Who is your target audience?

Adult women probably. When I wrote the back-of-the-book copy, I gave it to our two granddaughters here in Honolulu for their opinions. I said that my essays were a combination of Nora Ephron and Erma Bombeck. Our granddaughters, ages twenty-two and thirty-two, had never heard of either one. I deleted the reference, even though in some ways they still influence me.   

What type of challenges did you face while writing this book?

Trying to weave my own personal writing in between coauthoring fiction with Larry. It’s tough on both of us. Larry is extremely focused. When we have a new book we’re working on, it’s hard for him to sit back and wait until I finish a nonfiction project. It’s hard on me, too. Mystery and suspense novels require tremendous concentration—intricate clues; fleshed-out characters; convincing, logical solutions.

I’ve also taken infinite amounts of time to write three memoirs: Miriam’s Gift; Miriam’s World—and Mine; and Love! Laugh! Panic! Life with My Mother. 

What do you hope readers will get from your book?

I hope readers will agree with the Readers’ Favorite review. “A wonderful heartwarming collection of stories that you instantly resonate with. I could not put this book down. Rosemary takes us on such a rollercoaster of emotions, from laughter to tears and everything in between. A highly recommended read.”

Did your book require a lot of research? 

Yes. My “Close Encounters…” with famous people sent me to research on what made them famous. My essays on “Renoir and Raphael”; “Pearl Harbor and Punchbowl”, etc. But I also included threads of research throughout, such as the number of participants in the 2013 Honolulu Marathon; and facts about Jazzercise, my amazing exercise program that satisfies my desire to be a Rockette.  

What was your publishing process like?

Our original self-publisher was not respected in the industry. If I had done my homework I would have learned that the company had the reputation of publishing the telephone book if you submitted it. For Boston Scream Pie we did have a reputable commercial publisher, but, sadly, we submitted it at the time the business was falling apart. Of course, we had no way of knowing that. 

We’re our own “indie” publisher now, under the imprint Magic Island Literary Works. For printing, we use Lightning Source, Inc. in Tennessee (owned by Ingram). We submit every book already formatted. Larry does the formatting using Lightning Source’s InDesign. He's a retired engineer, so he's excellent at using their program, which is all in code! (I could never do it.)  We like LSI’s printing quality. We have a friend who’s an excellent proofreader; she proofs all our final drafts for us.

What is your advice for aspiring authors? 

1. Don’t be intimidated, first drafts are never perfect anyway.

2. Fear of the blank page is something to be skirted. Don't give up, go on to the next scene, and come back later.

3. Write about what you are comfortable with.

4. Develop clear mental images of your central characters.

5. Become more aware of people and places. Carry a notebook with you and jot down observations. Tune into both the unusual and the commonplace.

6. Take a community college writing class. Maybe also join a critique group.

7. Subscribe to The Writer or Writer’s Digest. (Either print or online.)

What has writing taught you?

Writing is like my right arm; it comes naturally to me. But there‘s no end to the learning process. My favorite authors are always teaching me something. Some are superb at descriptions. Others specialize in clever plotting. No matter how zealously I work on a project, no matter how satisfied I am with it, I always feel afterward, Well, maybe I could’ve said that in a slightly more vivid way.  

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Book Launch l His Kilt Dropped Here by Kathleen Shaputis

Author: Kathleen Shaputis 
Publisher: Clutter Fairy Publishing 
Pages: 170 
Genre: Magic Realism Scottish Romance

Rogue Bruce enjoys running a Scottish castle turned bed-and-breakfast with her Aunt Baillie from America. They specialize in hosting romantic Elizabethan-themed weddings, complete with resident ghost, Lord Kai. But love is something Rogue is not the least bit interested in. Content with her work, she requires no male accompaniment for happiness.  

A new delivery service brings Bruce MacKenzie, a Thor look-alike in plaid and denim, fetching more than the usual number of groceries from town, while Jonathan Olson, a snobbish, dark, Rhett Butler type, arrives at the castle to administer a writing seminar for aspiring authors. With two men after the heart she'd thought safely locked away, Rogue is flattered and confused. But when things start to take a sinister turn, danger befalls Rogue and those dear to her. The musical soundtrack of Rogue's life flares from complacent, to dizzyingly romantic, to heart-thumping scary in this sizzling triangle.

'This book has it all - romance, tears, laughs and men in kilts!
It starts out all glitzy and glamorous with a destination wedding for an unnamed celebrity's daughter. We get to know our heroine both as the beautiful mistress of the castle bed and breakfast, and as a spunky, yet vulnerable young woman still trying to find her place in the world.' Amazon Reviewer

'As one might guess from the title, there is humor in this romance. There are also unexpected twists and turns, stunning drama, and plenty of dark. Ms. Shaputis draws her characters well, but don’t assume you know what’s coming, because it probably isn’t. Just go along for the ride and enjoy.
Well done.' Amazon Reviewer

Buy Links


Kathleen Shaputis, author/ghostwriter, lives in the glorious Pacific Northwest with her husband, Bob, a clowder of cats, two pompously protective Pomeranians with little social aptitude, Brugh and Miss Jazzy, and an overgrown adolescent blue tick coon hound, Juno.

If not writing during her lifestyle in an acre of forest, she keeps busy reading from her never-ending, to-be-read pile and watching romantic comedies. Her hygge in the woods.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Self-Publishing Roadmap: Book Launch Checklist and Timeline

This book launch checklist isn't mine but was written by Joel Friedlander; just passing it on. It's called the Self-Publishing Roadmap: Book Launch Checklist and Timeline. Even though it was written in 2013, the tips in this PDF are still prevalent today. It's so handy to have a checklist you can refer to as the time clicks away to your upcoming release. I can't stress enough how valuable this is.

Get yours here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021



I've kissed a boy.

I've been to another world.

I've seen death.

Almost two weeks ago I was just a normal girl getting ready to start my senior year of high school, deciding where I wanted my life to go. And now?
I’ve kissed a boy. I’ve been to another world. I’ve seen death.
And I don’t know what my life’s become.

Banewind tells the spellbinding story of 18-year-old Genevieve DeWinter, a typical high school girl who finds herself entangled in the throes of adventure, romance, and survival after discovering the existence of a group of magical beings known as Formulists and their co-existing world, Banewind.

With the arrival of several mages in her hometown of Parma, Ohio, Genevieve soon learns that these extraordinary secrets are rooted deep within her family’s history when it is revealed her deceased mother was a heroic warrior in a long lineage of female protectors called the Holy Guardian. Now, a vengeful group of Formulists known as the Voidweavers have returned and set their sights on Genevieve, believing she might be the next Holy Guardian and the key to awakening their fallen leader, the Void King, who had been destroyed by Genevieve’s mother when she sacrificed herself a decade earlier to save Banewind and all of humanity from an unthinkable evil.

With the help of new allies, Genevieve must fight to stay alive as she unravels the mystery and danger that have shattered the stability of the life she once knew before the Voidweavers succeed in shadowing the world in chaos and darkness once again.

Book Excerpt:

Now that he’s in better light, I can get a good view of him. I’m right on the age part—he’s probably eighteen or nineteen—and he’s very attractive. He has black hair that swoops over the side of his forehead, and blue eyes that are sparkling like sapphires. His face is beautiful, with high-set cheekbones and a slender nose. His skin is pale and ashen, but it suits him well. And his body appears fit beneath the turquoise track jacket and matching track pants he wears. “Want me to help you look for him?” He takes another step toward me. “It’s okay. Thanks.” I back up. “You don’t have to do that.” “I don’t mind.” He stares at me with a wolfish grin, and I feel as though his blue eyes are piercing through my body. “It really isn’t smart for you to be out here alone.” “What about you?” I snap back. “I mean, really. A girl can’t spend her time alone in the woods, but it’s perfectly acceptable for a boy?” His eyes widen in surprise. “I-I guess you make a good point.” He bites his lips. They have a blue tint to them. “What’s your name?” “Genevieve.” Can he tell I’m caught off-guard? “I’m Scythe. Nice to meet you.” We both stand there in awkward silence. “Okay. Well, I’m going to go find my dog. Take care.” “Wait.” He jerks his hand towards me. “Why don’t you stay here, and I’ll go find the dog and bring him back to you.” He looks proud of himself for suggesting this. “If not, you might get lost.” “These woods aren’t that big. I’ll be fine.” I’m beginning to get agitated with this punk. “I appreciate you offering to help. But seriously, I’m just going to—” The tree behind Scythe explodes into thousands of splinters, crackling while the red blaze ascends to the top. As I fall to the ground, I see him bound to the left and roll behind a hollowed trunk, taking cover from the hissing flames. The clearing illuminates with a fiery orange light as the trunk bursts into dancing embers. I cover my eyes, blinded by the fire’s brightness as it continues to engulf the shrubbery around me. My face is drenched in sweat, and my breathing is swift and shallow. Up and down, up and down, up and down. My chest rises and falls so fast I’m afraid I’ll pass out if I don’t get myself under control. Another explosion. I cover my ears and scream. I drag myself over to a stump and hide behind it, scanning the clearing to see what has become of the boy. About twenty feet from me, his body lies sprawled out, with flames flickering just inches from his clothes. A nearby tree explodes and falls to the ground, revealing a figure in a hooded red cloak standing in its place.



Barnes and Noble:

Kobo books:

About the Author

Matt Chapman grew up outside of Cleveland and now lives in St. Louis, Missouri where he is completing his residency in Psychiatric medicine at Washington University in St. Louis. He is a graduate of Creighton University School of Medicine where he obtained his MD and a graduate of Saint Louis University where he majored in Biology.

Matt has had a passion for writing and reading since childhood and continues to find time for these interests among his other pursuits, including medical education and leadership studies. He is currently working on his next novel in The Banewind Series.

Connect with M.B. Chapman





Sunday, December 20, 2020

Book Launch Q&A: Evy Journey Author of The Shade Under the Mango Tree #booklaunch

Evy Journey, SPR (Self Publishing Review) Independent Woman Author awardee, is a writer, a wannabe artist, and a flâneuse who, wishes she lives in Paris where people have perfected the art of aimless roaming. Armed with a Ph.D., she used to research and help develop mental health programs.

She’s a writer because beautiful prose seduces her and existential angst continues to plague her despite such preoccupations having gone out of fashion. She takes occasional refuge by invoking the spirit of Jane Austen to spin tales of love, loss, and finding one’s way—stories into which she weaves mystery or intrigue.




After two heartbreaking losses, Luna wants adventure. Something and somewhere very different from the affluent, sheltered home in California and Hawaii where she grew up. An adventure in which she can also make some difference. She ends up in place where she gets more than she bargained for.

Lucien, a worldly, well-traveled young architect, finds a stranger’s journal at a café. He has qualms and pangs of guilt about reading it. But they don’t stop him. His decision to go on reading changes his life.

Months later, they meet at a bookstore where Luna works and which Lucien frequents. Fascinated by his stories and his adventurous spirit, Luna volunteers for the Peace Corps. Assigned to Cambodia, she lives with a family whose parents are survivors of the Khmer Rouge genocide forty years earlier. What she goes through in a rural rice-growing village defies anything she could have imagined. Will she leave this world unscathed?


Amazon →


After your book was released, what was the first thing you did when getting ready for your book launch?

Sign up for NetGalley and other review sites, and find bloggers who would review. Do this blog tour and hope I get a few reviews out of it. Call attention to my novels by running a promotion on one of my novels in the same genre.

After that, what was your next step?

Do a New-in-Books promotion.  The book is on KDP Select so I will run a free-book promotion, and advertise it  in sites like Freebooksy

Did you do anything different to spice up your website in lieu of your upcoming book release?

I produced a landing page for the book on my website and have written and will continue to write related blog posts

Did you ever consider using a PR agency to help you promote your book or did you prefer the DIY route?

I did contact via email about three publicists. Two ignored my emails and one responded but wanted me to wait until next year to release it. At that point, I had already committed myself to certain promotions.

Were finding reviews a top priority for you and, if yes, how did you approach that?

Yes. See my response to the first question. Some advertising sites won’t take on your book unless you have reviews.

What are your views on social media for marketing your book?

I suck at social media. And though I have a Facebook group, I don’t engage much with it.

Did you write a press release and do you think it worked for you?

No. I did that once for an older book. Didn’t do much. But I didn’t know what I was doing.

Did you revamp your author’s page at Amazon in any way to prepare for the launch (

Yes. I added this book to my authorcentral page. I also added a s0-minute video teaser.

Did you have other books you offered for free in order to help sell your present book?

I have a series. The first book is on perma-free. I’m looking into how to tie the two together.

Did you set up booksignings and, if so, how did that work for you?

No. May not be wise during this pandemic.

Did you create a book trailer?

Yes and please watch it:

Did you time your book launch around a certain holiday?


Any tips for those authors wanting to set up a successful book launch?

Do you expect your book launch to sell books? If you do, then maybe you should advertise heavily on sites that guarantee sales. If your goal is to create buzz, then you have a lot more options, including blog tours and publicity companies like that of Penny Sansevieri’s, I mention them because I’ve used them. They really work for you. The best thing they did was get me many NetGalley reviews.


Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Book Launch Q&A: Elysia Strife Author of The Kiss That Saved Christmas #booklaunch

An optimist and opportunist, Strife is a self-made author, cover designer, and editor. Best known as Elysia Strife, who writes primarily sweet holiday romance, she most loves writing dystopian science fiction fantasy novels under the pseudonym variation E. L. Strife. She is an upcoming author of young adult fantasy as Elysia Lumen and looks forward to diving deeper into the world of magic.

Strife has toured castles, haunted houses, frozen caves, lava tubes, and concentration camps. She’s a hopeless empath who needs the quiescence of hiking in the Cascades, camping, and snowboarding to recharge. She also enjoys reading on rainy and snowy mornings with a fire going, even if it’s just the fake one in her RV. She craves learning new things, like how to work on her 1981 Corvette, her jeep, and the four-wheeler that just won’t budge.

Strife lives with an amazing man who can build anything he puts his mind to and a rescued dog that steals socks and chases the vacuum. Together, they travel the country—from the golden plains of North Dakota to the warm ocean of the southern Texas coast and back to the green valleys and vineyards of Oregon. Anywhere is home as long as they’re together.

If you’d like to know when Strife’s next books will be out, and to ensure you hear about her giveaways, visit her website: and subscribe via the links on her homepage.







Claire’s husband passed away two years ago this Christmas, leaving her alone and in charge of a beautiful and overwhelming cabin venue in the

Montana mountains. She’s low on cash, the truck won’t start, and fewer people are calling in event requests.

Every past assistant has been problematic and disappointing. With one final wedding scheduled for the year, Claire is desperate to make a good impression and needs the property in top shape. Only one candidate remains: Zach.

Zach is prior service, down on his luck, and shamed by the town for the actions of his youth. Even after a decade of service, he can’t escape the gossip.
Claire has no option but to entrust him with the future of Briar Ridge—her future. She just wished he didn’t have to remind her so much of her late husband. Yet Zach is different, bringing with his burdens an unexpectedly sweet side.
Zach is full of surprises.

She doesn’t want to fall for him.

He can’t help but fall for her.

A sweet holiday romance with a few curses and some violence.


“A beautiful, gentle story with believable characters that have heart, feelings & Christian values.” – Danica McMahon (Goodreads Review) 5 Stars


Amazon → 


After your book was released, what was the first thing you did when getting ready for your book launch?

I always email my subscribers and make sure they know about my book tour, my upcoming deal dates, and that my signed paperback copy drawing is open for entries. I include links for my subscribers to review any early copies they might’ve snagged so they can post their thoughts and reviews.

After that, what was your next step?

I usually run an ad or two for a deal price or giveaway on the published work through a solid site like Written Word Media. It helps me get the book out there, and the results are most often worth their price.

A couple weeks later, before a tour/launch, I’ll email my subscribers again, let them know of any updates. I also always try to include other free or discounted books I’ve found that they might like. I want my emails to be beneficial to them. Can’t say I’ve met someone who doesn’t like free books!

Did you do anything different to spice up your website in lieu of your upcoming book release?

I always advertise when my latest Advanced Review Copy is posted so that my readers can pick them up and leave reviews. The feedback they provide helps encourage new customers that might not know me to pick up a copy of my book.

Did you ever consider using a PR agency to help you promote your book or did you prefer the DIY route?

I always do the DIY route because I don’t have the money for PR agents. Honestly, I don’t spend a ton of time on marketing and launching because I’m already working on the next books. I’ve found a few key things that work fine with me, then I make a habit of gently pushing my book with ads continuously for the following years.

Were finding reviews a top priority for you and, if yes, how did you approach that?

Reviews are always important. They tell me how much my readers liked or didn’t like my book which gives me feedback for the next publications. But reviews also help others decide whether or not to pick up my book. When you’re a relatively new or not well-known author, reviews can help new readers decide whether or not you’re worth the risk!

I use Prolific Works and Story Origin to deliver Advanced Review Copies of my books for free to my subscribers and to new people who I hope will become interested in my work, leave reviews, and subscribe to my email list. I give out hundreds of copies and get a few subscribers and a few reviews. But I don’t want to oversell my work. I want people to subscribe that actually enjoy my content and are interested in sticking around for more of it. Numbers don’t matter as much as reader satisfaction does to me.

What are your views on social media for marketing your book?

I always post a few updates there but I don’t want to drown people in “buy my book.” I’m afraid self-promotion gets sort of spammy after a while. My home feed is full of “buy this course/book/class/webinar etc.” I have to keep my work and family life separate on social media or they get lost in all that promotional content.

I tried a few social media ads without much luck a couple years back. And I recently tried a couple of BookBub ads, but got zero clicks. Honestly, when I’m on BB for fun, I don’t even see the ads. I pass right over them. I had to deliberately slow down and look for them when I was researching.

I think gifs would work better. Movement always catches my eye! If I’ve got gifs or time to make them, I usually will use those instead of just an image. They get probably 30% more interaction than stills.

"It’s best to start strong with a few ads the first couple of days, then ease into an ad once or twice a week to keep the interest somewhat steady. This will also help provide better customer interaction for the site’s marketing algorithms."

What social media has worked best for you?

Facebook has been best for connecting with readers, though I find most of them through ARC sites. Twitter has been great for finding writers to talk to. But for book-related images, I love Instagram and Pinterest. I could be on either one of those sites all day oogling books! I have yet to figure out a good system for tackling those with book promotion. Hoping to try this soon!

Did you have other books you offered for free in order to help sell your present book?

I have a few holiday romances, short stories and novels, that I’m offering giveaways and discounts on this season. I’m hoping, in combination, they’ll all help sell each other like a team. We’ll see!

Did you set up booksignings and, if so, how did that work for you?

Book signings aren’t really a thing during the pandemic. Every time I launch a book, I make sure to do a signed copy giveaway for my subscribers. It’s important to me that they get special perks no one else does. I glove and mask-up, sanitize my table, then sign and send a copy of my latest book to my winning subscriber.

Did you create a book trailer?

Pump Up Your Book made me a trailer!

Here it is:

Did you time your book launch around a certain holiday?

Christmas! I published the book earlier this fall but had my tour set up so I could celebrate my latest holiday novel during its prime season! What a gift this has been!

What was the best money you ever spent on your book launch?

I suppose there are a few things. I can’t say any one service can outdo the others. A lot of things have to work together for the engine to run. I always set up pre-orders on Amazon and now follow it up with Amazon Advertising Sponsored Product Ads in the “holiday fiction” genre.

My pre-order price is always a discount from the end price for novellas and novels, and I accept that I won’t make a lot of money on my pub day, more so after. People click on the ads, pre-order at a cheaper price, and then on pub day I get a nice chunk of sales that lifts the rank of my book and makes it more discoverable. It gets indexed by Amazon’s algorithms, and I start pulling in sales at regular price.

I usually try to run an ad the day of launch to bolster sales and rank, then a few more later that week, that month, and then “pulse” ads throughout the year in combination with any other books that I’ve written in related genres.

Any tips for those authors wanting to set up a successful book launch?

Make a plan.

Unless you’re well-known, you’re going to want to do free Advanced Review Copies of your book and distribute them wherever you can up until publication day so you can build up reviews. Get into group giveaways if you can. Those can be the difference between 50 downloads of your book and 500. Not kidding.

Some people launch on pub day. Some delay it so reviews have time to come in. It’s up to you and whatever the status of your writing career is. I do a sort of “soft launch” all the first month my book is available. Then I try to stop annoying people about it and start bugging them with the next book!

When you put ARC copies out there, set up a discounted pre-order for your book to help drive early interest. Customers can’t leave reviews if it isn’t published (at least on Amazon.) But if you publish a paperback, it can provide a way for readers to review your book before the ebook publishes (as long as the formats of the titles are linked). I usually publish the paperback one to two weeks ahead of the ebook date so my subscribers can leave early reviews. Even if someone orders a paperback from Amazon, it has to be printed and shipped. Often, at the earliest, it won’t arrive until close to the ebook’s pub day anyway.

Ad stacking is expensive, but it works…for a while. If you pile on the ads the first week and then don’t run any later, you’re going to get a spike in sales and then nothing. It can also get you put on Amazon’s “rank manipulation” watch-list if you publish with KDP. It’s best to start strong with a few ads the first couple of days, then ease into an ad once or twice a week to keep the interest somewhat steady. This will also help provide better customer interaction for the site’s marketing algorithms.

For example, one of my holiday romances features kidnapping. I was too chicken to put it in that category. I recently found it has a recommended ad category of “Kidnapping Thriller” in Canada. Guess I should’ve gone with my initial thought. But Amazon did it for me, likely because people who read kidnapping thrillers picked up that book. Amazon saw that and added the category. That’s my best guess anyway.

I do enjoy book tours with Pump Up Your Book, especially now, during the whole lockdown craziness. It’s a month-long blog tour with book features, reviews, interviews, and guest posts. You meet new readers, get a few reviews, and always learn a little about yourself and your book along the way. This is my third tour and I’ve enjoyed each one. If you’re shy about manually searching for places to guest post and finding reviewers or sites that will highlight your book and drive interest, a book tour is the way to go. It also works if you’re like me and crushed under the weight of new stories, finishing one or more book series, and starting fresh outlines from ideas that popped in your head this morning. If I had more time, heck knows I’d do it myself like everything else. But Pump Up Your Book makes tours a cinch and the blog stops a lot more fun. (And safer during lockdown!)

I’m always up for chatting indie pub. If you’re a writer who wants to talk books and self-publishing, you can find me on Twitter @ElysiaLStrife. I started from scratch. I know how intimidating publishing your first book can seem!

Readers are also always welcome to contact me on any of my social media accounts or on my website

Thanks for reading! This was a blast!

I send my best your way!




Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Historical Fiction Review: 'River Aria' by Joan Schweighardt

From the pen of talented historical novelist Joan Schweighardt comes another well-crafted, meticulously researched story about family, community, immigration, oppression, the environment, and having to face the consequences of one’s actions.

It’s 1928 and the Great Depression is looming around the corner when two impoverish but talented mixed-raced—Amerindian and European—Brazilian immigrant cousins travel to NYC to find a better life and fulfill their dreams. Estela, a singer of arias and a product of the Teatro Amazonas during the time of the rubber boom, has a beautiful voice and dreams of becoming a famous opera singer; Jojo is a fisherman and a gifted artist. As a start, Estela is offered a seamstress position at the Metropolitan Opera House while Jojo is offered a scholarship at an art school. Will they achieve their dreams against all obstacles? If yes, at what price?

River Aria is the third installment in this author’s series and is focused on the next generation of the family featured in the first book. There is so much I enjoyed about this novel! The worlds of art and music in 1920s NYC come together engrossingly. The multifaceted, original characters—you don’t often read stories about indigenous people from Brazil—and their struggles to find purpose and meaning in a complex, ruthless city that is a character all on its own, kept me riveted. Parentage and identity are big themes with both Estela and Jojo as they struggle with their origins and how it affects their lives. Having read other books by Schweighardt, I’ve become familiar with her literary prose. She always strives for depth, and she pays great attention to detail.

The author visited the rainforest, as well as Manaus, the Amazon, and Rio Negro as part of her research, and considering the authentic feel of the plot and characters, I’m not surprised. In spite of this, however, the writing doesn’t get too heavy-handed, which is sometimes a problem in this type of book. I particularly recommend River Aria to historical fiction fans who have a special interest in the rubber boom that took place in Brazil in the early 1900s and how it affected the fishing villages and the indigenous people living there.

Find out more at