March in Pictures!
Duet for Three Hands, a novel set in the post-emancipation South is a poignant tale of the complexities of love, family and cultural norms. Though the novel is set in the American South during the prohibition era, plantations and speakeasies are absent from the story and in their place the reader is given a fresh look into this time in American History.
The story opens with Nathaniel Fye, a famed concert pianist, lured and beguiled, like an innocent lamb, by the beautiful and ambitious Miss Francis Bellmont. Francis is a complicated character that, along with her father, and the prejudice of the culture, wreak havoc in the lives of the other, more saintly characters who refuse to let cultural norms cloud their emotions.
After marrying into the Bellmont family, Nathaniel quickly learns that Francis' beauty is only skin deep the family's secrets are deeply troubling. Nathaniel bonds with Francis' younger brother, Whitmore, a like-minded artist soul, who is secretly in love with the dark-skinned maid's daughter, Jeselle. Mr. Bellmont is a violent man who seems to leave the help and children alone and takes all his rage and anger out on his wife, Claire, the patron saint of the book.
Nathaniel's career is ruined in one of the book's pivotal moments and he is forced to take on a new profession as an instructor at a women's college. An unlikely widowed student enrolls in a summer class and challenges Nathaniel's ideals and beliefs that his career is over. He finds hope in the promise of his protégé. In a crescendo of events, fueled equally by love and hate, the student and teacher are compelled to try and help Whitmore and Jeselle escape the murderous prejudice of the south.
It was an intriguing read that I can whole-heartedly recommend to anyone who likes epic Antebellum tales of love and heartache.
Visit author Tess Thompson at: http://tesswrites.com/
Tess Thompson is a mother and writer. She’s also a Zumba dancing queen, though the wearing of the crown is reserved for invitation-only appearances. Her creative life began as an actress, director and playwright but found her true calling in narrative fiction, specifically Women’s Fiction. She wrote her first novel when her youngest daughter was a baby, working in the early morning hours and during nap time. Emerson, now eight, was a good napper. Tess has released seven novels since then.
The first of these, Riversong (Booktrope Editions), went on to become #1 on Barnes and Noble’s Nook Book chart in October 2011. Two years after its release, readership of Riversong continues to grow, spending weeks in the top 100 Kindle bestsellers; it’s known amongst her friends and family as “the little book that could.”
Caramel and Magnolias, the first in the Legley Bay Collection was released in the fall of 2012. In May of 2013 Tess released the sequel to Riversong called Riverbend and the third in the collection, Riverstar, in August 2013. Tea and Primroses, the second in the Legley Bay Collection was released February 16, 2014. The first in the Blue Mountain Collection, Blue Midnight was released June 30, 2014. Her first historical fiction, Duet for Three Hands, was released February 15, 2015.
She’s currently working on the second in the Blue Mountain Collection, Blue Moon, which will be released August 2015..
Like her characters in the River Valley Collection, Tess hails from a small town in southern Oregon. She currently lives in a suburb of Seattle, Washington with her two young daughters, ages 11 and 8, who keep her busy and often confused.
Although currently single, Tess has not given up on finding a love story of her own. Until her prince arrives, she’s content creating what she hopes are epic, page-turning love stories with a little suspense and mystery for additional spice. She writes in her home office six days a week, sipping countless cups of herbal tea, with two naughty but adorable kittens, Mittens and Midnight, at her feet. But hopefully said Prince arrives soon to save her from becoming a bitter, crazy cat lady. Did she mention how adorable the kittens are?
Tess loves to hear from you. Drop her a line or visit her Facebook Fan Page or follow her on Pinterest or twitter.
I first met Rozy on Instagram. Believerr_gonefit is a fellow CrosSport enthusiast that also loves to post her work-outs. I followed and quickly learned that there was a lot more to her than just a pretty face. She is quite possibly one of the most inspirational people I have seen in real life. Her dedication to her health and fitness are obvious in her before and after pictures. I had to know more and she was awesome enough to indulge me in a lunchtime interview.
Rozy's journey to a healthy lifestyle came from a simple desire; a desire for a bigger family. She had never been a petite girl, hovering between 165-175 in high school, but as she grew into adulthood her addiction to foods, particularly salty temptations like potato chips, gradually added pound after pound. By the time she and her husband were ready to have more children she was an “obese, depressed, mom of one” who couldn't get pregnant again. They tried everything and were even beginning infertility treatments when a doctor told her the one thing she didn't want to hear; her weight was a main issue.
She could accept that she couldn't get pregnant but had a harder time believing it was really due to her weight. At 270 pounds she was used to being asked if she was pregnant and it only added insult to injury. So with nothing, but the weight to lose she started yo-yo dieting, doing anything and everything to lose the weight. Her efforts were successful and in time she lost 50 pounds and got the news they couldn't wait to hear, she was pregnant!
Like her first pregnancy, her second was difficult. She was put on bed rest to try to avoid another premature birth and gained 75 pounds over the term of the pregnancy. She was able to shed the weight quickly and by the time baby number two was seven months old she'd dropped 60 pounds of baby weight and was pregnant again with number three. Once again she was put on bed rest, given hormones and told to take it easy to make the pregnancy as easy as possible. Luckily, she delivered at full term and didn't go back to her old ways.
With three children their family was complete and Rozy devoted herself to a new lifestyle. In September of 2012 Rozy started by changing her food and TV choices. She would watch Extreme Makeover – Weight Loss Edition and learn what participants did to get the weight off. She bought Chris Powell's book on carb cycling and started to formulate a lifestyle of healthy eating instead of yo-yo dieting. Now most days include 5-6 small meals every 2-3 hours. Breakfast is her biggest meal usually consisting of eggs, bacon and veggies or sometimes oatmeal. Lunches and dinners are heavy on protein with veggies and good carbs. She tries to avoid breads but if she has it she sticks with grainy breads. Cheese and dairy are luxuries and she treats them as such and uses them sparingly. And in Rozy's world there are no cheat days. She'll allow for a few cheat meals but never days. She says it's much easier for her energy level to bounce back that way.
As the weight continued coming off, working out got easier and Rozy started to get more active at both Gold's gym and our common, house of gain, CrosSport in Wenatchee. She regularly does 2-a-days, meaning she gets in not one, but two work-outs each day. She lifts, does WODs, hikes, bikes, and includes the family so it's not just “her” thing but the family's way of life as well. The twinkle in her eye when she mentioned her PR for dead-lift is 235 was priceless!
In fact that twinkle came out whenever she talked about meeting and exceeding her goals. She admits she hasn't achieved her goals and is OK with it. She's within 9 pounds of her ideal weight of 145 but there will always be more to achieve and strive for. She says she's always making new goals for herself and challenging herself to be better, stronger and faster than before. That's one of her biggest pieces of advice for others as well, set strong, reachable, long-term goals.
Additionally she reminds people that it takes patience and time to achieve life changing goals. Along her own journey she's had lots of ups but also downs, and weight gains, and plateaus. The trick is to keep making progress and to find balance in life… and rewarding yourself every now and then doesn't hurt either, as long as the reward isn't food.
Now two and a half years after her lifestyle journey began, Rozy's greatest achievement is her family and her happiness. She doesn't even remember the fat girl she used to be. Her family has been by her side through it all and she is no longer depressed everyday but happy to live well.
Thank you Rozy for the inspiration you bring to the gym and everyone around you! It is a blessing to watch you travel the road before you.
Today's My Opinion Monday!
As some of you may know, one of my sons is a senior this year. During his first semester of classes he had psychology and they took a personality test. He found the results remarkable and has been bothering me to take it ever since.
This weekend I finally took it and talked my youngest girlie into taking it too. It was actually super fun! Turns out, I am exactly what my boy predicted I would be, an ESFJ, a consul.
The site gives a breakdown of strengths, weaknesses, relationship and work tendencies that were nearly spot on, at least for me. It was pretty dang cool. There was, however, one major exception.
It said ESFJs don't handle criticism well. I respectfully disagree with this. It is true that I don't handle mean people well, but I really appreciate, kind, constructive criticism. I actually think criticism is imperative to realizing our potential... if it is taken.
So, with that said, if you've read my stories, or noticed an area in my life where I can potentially get stronger or better, I absolutely give you permission to KINDLY share with me, and by that I mean season your honest criticism with kindness and grace. I truly want to be the best I can be. I know there are things in my writing and in my character I can do better. Help me be better tomorrow than I am today!
... and if you have about 15 free minutes, take the test, it was fun! CLICK HERE: http://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test
Q: Tell us about your book
Seven Weeks to Forever is a young adult metaphysical romance--at heart, a love story. It follows eighteen-year-old Cassidy Jordan and nineteen-year-old Riley Davis as they get to know and begin falling for one another, each against their will. Cassidy is what's known as a "second-timer," living a second life with the purpose of finding and helping Riley. She was forced into having this second life after her first life was cut short, and she knows this life is supposed to end just seven weeks after she finally finds Riley.
Without giving too much away, Seven Weeks to Forever is about love versus fear and the power of young love, and it looks at life and death--or in this case, what Cassidy knows as The Before and The Life-After--in a way that's a little different from how many of us usually think of these.
Q: What inspired you to write Seven Weeks to Forever?
Many of us have experienced the passing of a loved one or friend: Some of them after what we perceive to be a long, full life, and some of them at an age that seems very young. When someone dies, and especially when someone dies at a young age when they had so much life ahead of them, I think it makes you look for reasons. I wanted to create a different way of looking at what we typically think of as life and death, and to propose a reason for why some people seem to leave this life at an age we think of as being far too young. As the novel took shape in my mind, there was something about the power of young love and how that love could break you or heal you, combined with these concepts of life and death, which made the story of Cassidy and Riley come together.
Q: Is this your first work of fiction? If not, please tell us a little about your first book/series.
Seven Weeks to Forever is my second published novel. My first novel is Rock Star's Girl, which is the first book in the "A Hollywood Dating Story" series. The second book in that series, Hiding Out in Hollywood, will be out later this year. Both Rock Star's Girl and Hiding Out in Hollywood are chick lit. I describe Rock Star's Girl as a sassy and sarcastic look at what happens when one young woman's personal life starts making tabloid headlines, after she's asked out on a date by a prolific singer from a well-known band while out at a concert supporting one of her friends. It explores the other side of the entertainment news headlines: How half-truths and moments captured out of context can lead to reputation-destroying rumors, and how some people will stop at nothing to become famous.
Those are my published books, and they're both available from Booktrope. My first book, though, was one that I wrote when I was 9 or 10 years old that was a birthday present for my mom.
Q: Who is your favorite character in the book and why?
This is a tough one, since I've spent so much time with these characters and feel like they're all old friends. It's really hard to decide between Cassidy, Riley, and Noah. Today I'll say Noah, since I loved writing the exchanges between him and Cassidy--especially the times when he wasn't afraid to push Cassidy's buttons. Cassidy is pretty sarcastic and she pretends to think of Noah as her warden, or as a block between her and information she needs, but deep down, she's grateful for him. While I was writing Seven Weeks to Forever, all this backstory about Noah's life in The Before came to mind. You don't get to learn much about his life before he was an advisor in Seven Weeks to Forever, but I've considered writing a prequel to tell Noah's story.
Q: Please tell us about yourself.
In a few words: Kundalini-yoga-loving and hockey-obsessed Canadian expat and LA girl. If writing is my first love, Kundalini yoga is right up there with it and is a huge part of who I am. It pops up in Seven Weeks to Forever and Rock Star's Girl, and it's also in Hiding Out in Hollywood. If it's hockey season and I'm not writing or at a Kundalini yoga class, I can usually be found cheering on the L.A. Kings.
I grew up in Canada: I was born in Thunder Bay, and then lived in Ottawa for a few years while I completed a journalism degree and an MA in English. Then I moved to Silicon Valley for a couple of years, and then to L.A. about five years ago. L.A. is where I'd wanted to live since I was 10, and I still wake up every day absolutely thrilled to be here!
Q: Have you been writing for a long time?
I've been writing since before I knew how to spell and write down words! There's a line in my author bio that says I've been writing since the day I picked up a navy blue Crayola and began scribbling on my parents' freshly painted white walls. This is a true story. Thankfully, my parents have always been incredibly encouraging and supportive of my writing. They're my biggest fans. Before I knew how to write things down myself, I'd tell them stories and they'd write them down for me.
Q: How much time per week do you spend writing/editing your work?
This often depends on the week. I try to spend at least an hour a day writing or working on edits of my work, and it's usually at least a few hours on weekends. When I'm deeply into writing something or in the revisions phase, I'll wake up at 4:30 a.m. and work on that for two hours before getting ready for the rest of my day. The most important thing for me is to write something every day, whether it's writing for hours, or carving out ten minutes or half an hour at a time throughout the day.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
I'm finishing up Hiding Out in Hollywood right now, along with working on my fourth novel, which is a YA romance. I keep going back and forth on it, though, since it may work better as new adult! So I may end up setting the 25,000 words I've written of it aside, then start back at the beginning and write a new adult novel instead. I'm also a book editor, so I've been busy working on some great manuscripts by other authors.
Thank you for a fun interview!
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