Day 3 of the WordCrafter “Refracted Reflections” Book Blog Tour

Refracted Reflections Book Blog Tour

Digital Giveaway

For a chance to win a free digital copy of Refracted Reflections, just leave a comment to show you were here. Follow the tour and comment at each stop for more chances to win. Three copies will be given away in a random drawing.

On today’s tour stop, we have a guest post by contributing author Elisabeth Caldwell, who talks about the inspiration for her story. Her’s is a unique tale about that starts off the anthology with a bang. So, without further ado, I’ll let her tell you about the inspiration behind “The Mirror Guardian”.

“Mirror Guardian” Inspirations

Several years ago, I was in the shower washing my hair and noticed multiple dark strands of hair wrapped around my hands and fingers. Everyone loses hair when they wash it. But this was too much hair. And it kept happening. After multiple visits to various doctors, a dermatologist declared I had female pattern baldness. I would never recover the hair I had lost, but minoxidil would, hopefully, help slow the balding process.

Terror struck me, and my mind raced. What if the medicine didn’t work? How much hair would I lose? How fast would it fall out? If I lost too much hair, what would I do? Would I shave my head?

Night after night these thoughts kept me awake, and I started to try to envision what it might be like to be bald. How would people see me? Would they look at me or avert their eyes? How would I see myself? Would I be afraid to look in the mirror? Would I bravely go out in the world? Or would I hide myself away like a princess in a tower? Would a prince come to save me? Or would I be strong enough to save the prince?

I was organizing my bookshelves right around the time a friend forwarded me the call for submissions for mirror-themed short stories, and I came upon my favorite fairytale book that I had saved from my childhood. These were the same fairytales I had read to my daughters – daughters who are now teenagers barraged by social media full of air-brushed beauty. My girls scroll through image after image of seemingly perfect people leading seemingly perfect lives and are saddened by their own imperfections.

I am old enough to know that no person and no life are perfect.

 Sitting with that worn and weathered book in my hand thinking of Maid Maleen who sat for seven years in a tower waiting to be rescued, I realized my girls deserved a fairytale of female strength. I wanted to give them a heroine who didn’t fit the traditional mold of beauty. Who didn’t let everyday conceptions of what she should be and how she should act define her. A heroine whose beauty shone like moonlight on her bare head. A heroine who didn’t sacrifice her happiness because it was expected of her.

And from this came Kella. I hope you enjoy her story!

About the Author

Elizabeth Caldwell grew up a Philly (and suburban Philly) girl with thick glasses and her nose buried in a book. When she was 12, she fell into the yellowed pages of one of her grandmother’s Mary Stewart novels and has been obsessed with reading and writing ever since. She sees fairies in the trees, mermaids in the ocean, ghosts peeking out the windows of sprawling Victorians in Cape May, and a story behind every couple that walks by holding hands. She writes poetry, short stories and novels.

Elizabeth lives in Bucks County, PA with her three vibrant children, a husband who is her soulmate and best friend, and one very sweet, albino corn snake. She practices law by day, writes by night and daydreams every chance she can get.

About the Book

Refracted Reflections: Twisted Tales of Duality & Deception

Refracted Reflections: Twisted Tales of Duality & Deception

Refractions and Reflections…

A reflection can be revealing or deceptive. What stares back at you when you glance into the mirror?

A prison, designed to trap you and take away all that is dear to you?

A portal to another dimension? Another time?

An evil twin, luring you to the other side?

Your loved ones with a fond farewell?

A distorted version of yourself? A person you no longer even recognize?

A protective savior?

Do you dare to gaze into the looking glass?

Will what you see save you…, or haunt you forever?

If you liked Gilded Glass and Once Upon an Ever After, you’ll like Refracted Reflections: Tales of Duality & Deception.

Purchase Refracted Reflections at your favorite book distributor here: https://books2read.com/u/3kPyxn

Thanks for joining us today for Day 3 of the WordCrafter Refracted Reflections Book Blog Tour. I hope you enjoyed meeting Elizabeth and learning more about her outstanding story. Follow the tour for a chance for a free digital copy of this exceptional anthology, Refracted Reflections: Twisted Tales of Duality & Deception, or pick up your copy at the link above. Below are the links to the previous stops, in case you missed them:

Monday – September 19 – Introductory post on Writing to be Read 

Tuesday – September 20 – Guest Post by author Ligia de Wit & a review on Carla Loves to Read

I hope you’ll join us again tomorrow on Roberta Writes, with a guest post from Valerie B. Williams about the inspiration behind her story, “The Tinker’s Gift”. Until then, Happy Reading!

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Book your WordCrafter Book Blog Tour today!


Welcome to the WordCrafter “Refracted Reflections” Book Blog Tour

Refracted Reflections Book Blog Tour

Welcome to the WordCrafter Refracted Reflections Book Blog Tour, where we will have reviews and guest posts from a few of the awesome authors who contributed to this unique and unsual fantasy & science fiction anthology. This is the second of three WordCrafter anthologies to include stories handpicked by me, mostly from the submissions which caught my eye when on the editorial team for Guilded Glass. This anthology was by invitation only and the stories contained within are exceptional. Today is the last day it will be available for pre-order, because the release is tomorrow!

Refracted Reflections: Twisted Tales of Duality & Deception

Reflections and Refractions…

One reveals truths, while the other bends light into varying shapes of deception.

Does a small camp mirror reveal hope… or death?

Is the warrior in the mirror a monster… or a protector?

Does a glimpse in the  mirror reveal a young woman’s true self… or what someone else has shaped her into?

Does the mysterious portal to the future reflect what could be… or what must be left behind?

Are the dancers reflected in the water’s depth things of beauty… or evil?

This unique and imaginative collection of nine mind tantalizing fantasy and science fiction stories will appeal to readers who enjoy thought provoking tales with hidden meanings resting deep below the surface. These stories will keep you pondering long into the night.

If you liked Gilded Glass or Once Upon an Ever After, you’ll love Refracted Reflections.

We have a great tour planned for this week and I hope you will stick with us and follow the tour. We have a great giveaway, where you could get a free digital copy of the anthology, just by leaving comments. Today is a double tour stop day, with this post and a review by DL Mullan on Undawnted, so be sure to click the link below and check out her review. You may leave comments for her review here, as well.

(Note: Links in the schedule below will not work until the post goes live.)

Tour Schedule

Refracted Reflections – September 19 – 23

Monday – September 19 – Introductory post on Writing to be Read & Review on Undawnted

Tuesday – September 20 – Guest Post & Review – Ligia de Wit on Carla Loves to Read

Wednesday – September 21 – Guest Post – Elisabeth Caldwell on Writing to be Read

Thursday – September 22 – Guest Post – Valerie B. Williams on Roberta Writes

Friday – September 23 – Review & Guest Post – Roberta Eaton Cheadle on Zigler’s News

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Digital Giveaway

For a chance to win a free digital copy of Refracted Reflections, just leave a comment to show you were here. Follow the tour and comment at each stop for more chances to win. Three copies will be given away in a random drawing.

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About The Book

Each of the stories included in Refracted Reflections feature a mirror or reflection in some significant way. The reflections given are sometimes surprising, often fooling those who gaze upon them, because things aren’t often as they seem.

I have included two of my own stories, “The Devil Made Her Do It”, which is a reprinted story about a woman blinded by love and deceived by a man who just might be the devil, which first appeared in Relationship Add Vice, from Zombie Pirates Publishing; and an original fairy tale, The Not So Perfect Prince, about a prince who is so full of himself that he can’t see who he truly is.

But mine are only two among nine outstanding stories by eight talented authors, and we’ll be introducing five of the contributing authors on this tour: Valerie B. Williams, Roberta Eaton Cheadle, Ligia de Wit, Elisabeth Caldwell, and of course me, Kaye Lynne Booth.

Follow the tour to learn more about Refracted Reflections: Twisted Tales of Duality & Deceptions, and for more chances to win a digital copy of your very own. Don’t forget to stop by Undawnted for DL Mullan’s review today, and you’ll find us over at Carla Loves to Read with a guest post from contributing author, Ligia de Wit and a review by Carla Johnson-Hicks.

About Kaye Lynne Booth

For Kaye Lynne Booth, writing is a passion. Kaye Lynne is an author with published short fiction and poetry, both online and in print, including her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction; and her paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets. Kaye holds a dual M.F.A. degree in Creative Writing with emphasis in genre fiction and screenwriting, and an M.A. in publishing. Kaye Lynne is the founder of WordCrafter Quality Writing & Author Services and WordCrafter Press. She also maintains an authors’ blog and website, Writing to be Read, where she publishes content of interest in the literary world.

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WordCrafter News

WordCrafter News

And the Winners Are….

I have an announcement to make.

We finished up the WordCrafter Once Upon an Ever After Book Blog Tour on Saturday, and I do hope you all joined in. It was a great tour and we held a giveaway for three digital copies of Once upon an Ever After, and every comment earned an entry.

Now, I am pleased to announce that the three winners of the anthology giveaway are Liz Gauffreau, Annette Rochel Aben, and Sara W. McBride!

(I need to make contact with each of you to find out which digital format you prefer. If you don’t hear from me, please contact me at Kayebooth@yahoo.com.)

You can get your copy of this wonderful anthology from your favorite book distributor here.

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Nice Reviews

Ask the Authors 2022 has received a lovely review from Alex Norton on the Likely Story blog.

” I found it to be both interesting and useful, answering questions I didn’t even know I had and giving me different perspectives to ponder as I move forward on my own writing journey.”

You can find Alex’s full review here. I hope you will check it out.

Get your copy of this unique writing reference anthology from your favorite book distributor here.

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.The first review is out on Goodreads, from Madelon’s Reviews. Madelon does a nice job of making a brief statement about each story, as well as a review of the overall anthology, which states in part:

“Overall, REFRACTED REFLECTIONS provides a glimpse into the writing styles of authors you may want to read again.” 

You can read Madelon’s review in full here.

Refracted Reflections: Twisted Tales of Duality & Deceptions

Refractions and Reflections…

A reflection can be revealing or deceptive. What stares back at you when you glance into the mirror?

A prison, designed to trap you and take away all that is dear to you?

A portal to another dimension? Another time?

An evil twin, luring you to the other side?

Your loved ones with a fond farewell?

A distorted version of yourself? A person you no longer even recognize?

A protective savior?

Do you dare to gaze into the looking glass?

Will what you see save you…, or haunt you forever?

If you liked Gilded Glass and Once Upon an Ever After, you’ll like Refracted Reflections: Tales of Duality & Deception.

Scheduled for release September 20, 2022. Now available for pre-order from your favorite book distributor here.

Don’t miss the WordCrafter Refracted Reflections Book Blog Tour September 19 – 23 for a deeper look into this unique anthology.

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Write it Right Quality Editing Services is currently open to new clients

See Write it Right‘s affordable rates and get a quote for your editing needs here.


WordCrafter “Will Write For Wine” & “Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard” Book Blog Tour: Giveaway Winners!

Will Write for Wine & Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard

We had a fabulous eight day tour for Will Write for Wine & Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard last week. Along with an author interview, several beaming reviews and a guest post on the inspiration of each story, the author Sara W. McBride offered a giveaway for this wonderful tour. We had a little hitch because we couldn’t get the Rafflecopter to work right, and some people weren’t able to enter that way, so Sara entered everyone who commented in a random drawing, and I’m pleased to announce three winners for this giveaway, and Sara will be sending them digital copies of both of her delightful books.

And the winners are…

(Drumroll Please)

D.L. Finn

Abbey Johnson Taylor

Debra Guyette


Wrapping up the WordCrafter “Will Write For Wine” & “Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard” Book Blog Tour

Will Write for Wine & Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard Book Blog Tour

This is the last stop on the WordCrafter Will Write For Wine & Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard Book Blog Tour with a guest post by author Sara W. McBride about the inspiration behind the Will Write For Wine, and my review of her debut novel. I want to thank you all for joining us, and if you missed any of the stops along the way, you can catch them at the links below.

Writing to be Read – Opening day post: Guest post by Sara W. McBride – The Inspiration for “The Devil’s Bridge”, and review of Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard

The Showers of Blessings – Guest post by Sara W. McBride – The inspiration for “Stealing Georgione’s Mistress”

Carla Loves to Read – Guest post by Sara W. McBride – The inspiration for “The Masked Kiss”, and review of Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard

Writing to be Read – Interview with author Sara W. McBride and guest post – The Inspiration for “Lazzaretto Vecchio: A Dowry for Saffron”

Zigler’s News – Guest post by Sara W. McBride – The Inspiration for “A Gentleman’s Portrait by a Pregnant Man”, and a review of Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard

Annette Rochelle Aben – Guest post by Sara W. McBride – The Inspiration for “The Haunted Palazzo”

Roberta Writes – Guest post by Sara W. McBride – The Inspiration for “The Secret Vault”

Give-Away

Don’t forget to leave a comment and click on the link below to enter for a chance to win a free digital copy of Will Write For Wine or Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d9280cae1/?

Image of Laocoön
Credit: Laocoön statue, Vatican, Photo by Frank Eiffert on Unsplash

Inspiration for Will Write for Wine

Guest post by author Sara McBride

What inspired the novel Will Write for Wine?

My love affair with Venice began in 2005 on my very first trip to Italy. I had planned a two-week research trip, by myself, that started in Venice and ended in Rome. My husband had shown me an article about an art historian who believed a sketch by Michelangelo, dated 1504, was of the torso of Laocoön, the statue that Pope Julius II paraded through the streets of Rome and subsequently launched the Vatican Museum. But Laocoön wasn’t discovered until 1506, and it’s discovery changed the world of Renaissance art.

How did Michelangelo sketch a statue that was still buried in the earth? The hypothesis was simple: Michelangelo forged the statue and buried it.

I spent 6 months researching Michelangelo’s life, his art commissions, and his war with Pope Julius II—Which is epic!—and came to the conclusion that the hypothesis might be true. I built a 76-page itinerary—fully color-coded, because I’m that anal—and set out across Italy to walk the steps of Michelangelo and those I believed assisted with his subterfuge.

I hunted for evidence in the art world itself. Since I wanted to write a novel, I also sought ambiance from historical locations and wrote down the smells of restoration sites with turpentine and plaster dust hanging in the air, the sounds of echoing footfalls in an empty cavernous church or of a single woman weeping in a side chapel, the taste of rustic breads, the sight of sunset over St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and the smoothness of Istrian stone supporting Venetian palazzos.

After that first trip, I could walk into any museum room and at a glance, tell you which paintings were completed before or after 1506, the year of Laocoön’s discovery. That’s how influential the discovery of Laocoon was on the Italian Renaissance art scene. But on the flip side, I couldn’t tell you how the artist felt when he painted or sculpted an art piece.

I wrote a novel. It read like an 800-page art history dissertation. Snore-ville! Even though the entire novel is centered around Michelangelo, Bramante, Rafael, Sansovino, and Pope Julius II, the reader never becomes invested in the characters. I understood the history, the places, the art, but not the men or what motivated them.

Anyone can sing a song, but for it to resonate and draw in a listener, it must be sung with emotion. It is the emotion of the song that tells a story. My novel was missing the emotion.

But seventeen years later, I’m still drawn to the story of Laocoön, which I believe to be Michelangelo’s greatest forgery—Some forgeries were documented—and with every art museum exhibit, every church, every trip to Europe, I see more evidence for the pieces of the story. But now I seek to understand why Michelangelo and Pope Julius II were at such odds with each other. For that, I needed to understand people.

Venice is an amazing city to study not just history, ambiance, food, beauty, and smells, oh so many smells, but to study people. And out of that study, came the novel, Will Write for Wine.     

Will Write for Wine

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Will-Write-Wine-Alexis-Novel-ebook/dp/B09XVM6Y38

What they are saying on Amazon:

The mind of Alexis Lynn is as delightful and convoluted as the labyrinth of canals and streets of Venice. Tagging along on the ride with this endearingly flawed character is sometimes rooting for her, sometimes laughing with her, sometimes crying with her, sometimes wanting to smack her, and sometimes wanting to smack the men she entangles herself with. Will Write for Wine is a quick and light beach read – no, scratch that – it’s a quick and light European vacation read. Alexis Lynn puts the “fun” in “dysfunctional” and the “Veni” in “Venice”!

My Review

Alexis Lynn is at a crossroads, starting a new life in Venice and leaving the old one in the America behind, making the choices which will affect her future. At times like this, lots of wine may be required, and there’s no end to what Alexis Lynn will do for good wine- the writing of stories, the breaking of hearts, the solving of age-old mysteries. In Will Write for Wine, by Sara McBride, it’s a fun ride with Alexis, her new found friends and the ghosts of Venice as she writes stories, falls in and out of love, and delves into Venetian history to create a new life for herself with the best from the old, as well as the new.

Pour yourself a glass of wine and settle in for a good read with Will Write for Wine. You don’t need a good wine to enjoy this novel, but I’d highly recommend it. I give it five quills.

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Day 5 of the WordCrafter “Will Write for Wine” & “Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard” Book Blog Tour

Will Write for Wine & Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard Book Blog Tour

Day 5 of the WordCrafter Will Write for Wine & Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard Book Blog Tour finds us over at Zigler’s News with another wonderful guest post from author Sara W. McBride and a review of her short story collection by Victoria Zigler. Join us to learn more about this author and her delightful books.

https://ziglernews.blogspot.com/2022/07/wordcrafters-book-blog-tour-for-will.html


WordCrafter “Will Write For Wine” & “Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard” Book Blog Tour Day 4

Will Write for Wine & Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard Book Blog Tour

Stories I Stole from Lord Byron’s Bastard is a collection inspired by Venetian history. The fictional character, Alexis Lynn, wrote these stories in the novel Will Write for Wine by Sara W. McBride, but they are fun stand-alone adventures to be enjoyed with an excellent glass of Italian wine.

https://www.puckpublishing.com

Today’s tour stop comes with a fun interview with author Sara W. McBride in addition to her guest post. So kick back a while and enjoy the tidbits offered here as you learn more about Sara and her wonderful books.

Introduction

Sara W. McBride, like many modern-day biological researchers, invents new swear words to sling at million-dollar machines while locked in a dark hole of a decaying academic hall. This has caused her to witness ghosts and create a romantic fantasy life within her head, which she now puts down on very non-technological paper with her favorite Jane Austen style quill pen. 

Her first novel in the Alexis Lynn series, Will Write for Wine, and the companion short story collection, Stories I Stole from Lord Byron’s Bastard, both set in Venice, Italy, were recently released by Puck Publishing. She’s hard at work on the second Alexis Lynn novel, a Regency mystery series, and a haunted play. She strongly feels the world needs more haunted plays.   

https://www.puckpublishing.com

Give-Away!

Don’t forget the awesome giveaway Sara is running on this tour, with a digital copy of each book up for grabs. You can enter the give-away for a chance to win at the link below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d9280cae1/?

Image of Lazzaretto Vecchio
Credit: Wikipedia, Lazzaretto Vecchio Island, Plague Hospital

Interview with author Sara W. McBride

Why do you write?

Sara: To be immortal! Just kidding. It’s my fabulous mental escape into worlds and lives that I wish I could live.

Please tell us a bit about your publishing journey?

Sara: In 2014, I organized, edited, and published the first two NaNoWriMo Los Angeles anthologies. Then I helped with the next three. The group is still producing an annual anthology. It was a great way to learn the logistics of self-publishing and how to shape short stories. This year, my husband and I launched Puck Publishing, and we’re hoping to publish something every month. 

Over the past twenty years, I’ve written fourteen bad novels that I’m glad I never published. LOL!

What made you decide to self-publish?

Sara: In the late 1990s, I was an assistant to a Hollywood book agent and I learned the ins and outs of traditional publishing and movie book deals. The agents and publishers were so parasitic on the author, it gave me the willies. In those days, traditional publishing paid high advances, but the treatment of the authors still put a bad taste in my mouth.

Today, they rarely pay above a $10,000 advance to a new author, they expect the author to do all the marketing, and then the publisher keeps the copyright and sells it off whenever they like, to whomever they like, and the book goes out of print. 

I’ve seen too many friends get screwed by traditional publishing.

Will Write for Wine takes place in the artistic and romantic setting of Venice. Have you explored the physical locations for your books in the flesh, in order to get the details right when writing about these locations? Have you been there? Have you lived there? Why did you choose this setting?

Sara: I’ve had five research trips to Venice, totaling about five weeks. I’ve been in almost every church and museum of Venice, and a few places I probably wasn’t supposed to enter. I apparently don’t understand the meaning of yellow caution tape or closed doors.

Most of the Venice locations in the book are real places, but Manu’s osteria is fictional. However, I stole menu items from many of my favorite osterias in Venice.

I think Venice is one of the most magical and haunted cities in the world. Many people describe it as a floating museum; the entire city is trapped in the Renaissance. But if you simply sit still, sip a glass of wine in a campo or piazza, listen to the opera singers, and watch the people and pigeons, there’s a vibe that sinks into you. Every part of the city is simultaneously dead and alive. It is that barrier, that thin line between life and death that pervades every stone, stench, and serenade of Venice. Delicious!  

Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard involves Venetian history. What is the fasciation of this area for you?

Sara: I’m a history nerd! Venice is one of those cities that drips with history, but not just through architecture and museums, through the people, the food, the many generations that still live in the same house, the ghosts that are accepted as common place, and the street signs. Ponte del Diavolo, the Devil’s Bridge is bound to inspire a story in anyone. Gheto Novo, or the New Ghetto, caused me to question the history of the Jewish community within Venice.

It’s difficult for me to walk from one piazza to another in Venice without my mind percolating a story based purely on the sights, sounds, and smells. And I love the smells of Venice. Both the good and the bad. Only Venice can induce an entire story purely through its smells. I’ve learned to navigate the labyrinth of Venice by sniffing the air. How is that not a story!

Is there anything unique or unusual about your writing process?

Sara: I don’t know the end until I get there. I just write into a dark void and somehow it all works out. It keeps the process magical and fun. I used to outline, but I always got bored with the book before I finished it. Outlining turned writing into work. Ick! Writing needs to be fun for both the writer and the reader. 

Is your writing process plot driven or character driven?

Sara: Character driven! Definitely.

Do you write with music, or do you prefer quiet?

Sara: Quiet! Or the hubbub of a coffee house crowd, hotel lobby, airplane terminal.

Atmosphere is important. What do you do to get into the writing zone?

Sara: There’s a zone? How do I find that? I want a writing zone. I just go about my day and jot down paragraphs, dialogue, and then type them in when I’m next at my computer.

How much of the story do you know before the actual writing begins?

Sara: NONE! Okay, maybe the opening scene. But usually not even that. Just a character in a place, who is feeling something.

Wine plays a big role in your character, Alexis Lynn’s life. What is the attraction?

Sara: I love wine! I also love beer, whisky (Scottish spelling), Compari cocktails, and most dishes cooked with truffles. However, to preserve my liver, I typically only drink once-a-week, so it’s a big event for me. I cherish my weekly glass of wine and how it complements my meal. Alexis drinks way more than I do. Fictional wine can’t damage a fictional liver.

Are you a wine connoisseur? What is your favorite wine?

Sara: I love wine! I once dreamed of becoming a wine sommelier. Isn’t my favorite wine obvious? Soave! Like Alexis Lynn, I also discovered Soave on my first trip to Venice. It’s been a favorite ever since, but difficult to find in America. Hence, more motivation to travel!

What’s something most readers would never guess about you?

Sara: My husband and I got engaged four days after we met. Unlike Alexis Lynn and her marital troubles, my husband and I have had a relatively easy, adventurous, crazy, happy and supportive marriage. This summer, we’re celebrating out twenty-five year anniversary. But I don’t know how we’re celebrating. Any suggestions?

You’ve got a scientific background, like your character. How much of Alexis Lynn is you?

Sara: Um … She’s totally me! Are authors allowed to confess that?

What time of day do you prefer to do your writing? Why?

Sara: Morning, if given a choice. But it happens all day.

What’s the hardest part of the story for you to write: beginning, middle or end?

Sara: I write chapters as if they are short stories, and then I arrange them into a book when I think I’ve developed something that has a beginning, middle or end. Is that weird? I don’t write chronologically. And I have chapters/stories that didn’t make it into this book that will be in the next one.

Alexis Lynn has a conversation and wine tasting with Casanova. Would you like to talk a bit about the inspiration for that scene?

Sara: I was enjoying my weekly glass of wine while reading the memoirs of Casanova and thought, “Man, this guy would give horrible marriage advice!” Then I grabbed my computer.

Besides Casanova, which author, poet or artist, dead or alive, would you love to have lunch with?

Sara: Lord Byron, or course! He’s bloomin’ brilliant, but people only remember him as a seducer. Sure, he seduced a few women, usually married ones, and has some famous bastards; the famous mathematician, Lady Lovelace, is one of his illegitimate children. But he also wrote the first English-Armenian dictionary, and was a very, charming, intelligent debater. His letters are filled with wisdom and humor. In an incredibly elegant manner, almost complimentary, he was able to inform someone of their idiocy. I would love to have lunch with Lord Byron, even if he spent an hour politely insulting me.

Besides writing, what are your favorite things to do?

Sara: Travel! I also love hiking, playing board games, reading every genre, watching cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies in the middle of summer, and learning Italian so I can one day move to Venice.

What is the biggest challenge of being a writer?

Sara: Pulling together a bunch of short stories into a cohesive novel and then figuring out what scenes are missing.

It was funny with Will Write for Wine, my husband included a little gondola and gondolier on the cover, and I suddenly realized that I didn’t have any gondola scenes in the book. Both the gondola scenes were the last scenes I wrote.

If writing suddenly made you rich and famous, what would you do?

Sara: Move to Venice and write more!

What’s the most fun part of writing a novel or short story/screenplay? What’s the least fun part?

Sara: Most fun? Dialogue! I’m originally a playwright, so I love dialogue. 

Least fun? Killing a character I like. Killing a nasty character is delightful, but killing a kind character, or a character I’ve spent years with, is heart-wrenching.

How much non-writing work, (research, marketing & promotion, illustrations & book covers, etc…), do you do yourself for your books?

Sara: I do everything myself, but my husband does the cover art and most of the website maintenance. We have fun working together.

If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play Alexis Lynn?

Sara: Oh! Juicy question. Reese Witherspoon. Yep, definitely Reese Witherspoon. Mid-40s, cute, and like Alexis, she exudes positivity even when her world is falling apart.

What goals do you set for yourself in your writing?

Sara: Don’t plan ahead. If I don’t know what’s going to happen, neither does the reader. This is really funny because I’m writing a murder-mystery right now and halfway through the book, my murderer, who I didn’t know was the murderer, just totally confessed to the murder. So, um, geez, I guess that book is going to be a different style of murder mystery. LOL! So, I guess my goal in writing is to always be surprised.

Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Stories-Stole-Lord-Byrons-Bastard-ebook/dp/B0B27TS5GL

As you can see, Sara is an author who loves what she does ad is pretty comfortable in her own skin. Now, let’s hear about her inspiration for the fourth story in Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard, “Lazzaretto Vecchio: A Dowry for Saffron”.

Guest Post by Author Sara W. McBride

Inspiration for “A Dowry for Saffron”

What inspired the story, “Lazzaretto Veccchio: A Dowry for Saffron?”

“Sia laudato il signor Iddio non ci sono stati morti.”

Bless the Lord, there have been no deaths [today].

December 24, 1630, in Sant’Eufemia, Venice.

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This quote is from the opening of a Nature paper, “A digital reconstruction of the 1630-1631 large plague outbreak in Venice,” by Gianrocco Lazzari, et al. Published Oct. 20, 2020.

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I’ve always been fascinated by the European plagues, but when I read the above Nature paper, the effects of the 1630-31 plague on Venice consumed my mornings for several weeks. This especially seemed relevant while living through a new global pandemic, thankfully with much lower mortality rates.

In 1348-49, bubonic plague killed one-third of the European population, up to 25 million people, and Venice, as a crossroads for international trade, lost half its residents. Imagine living in a bustling city of 100,000 people, and half of them die within 18 months. It would be horrifying and haunting.

In response to the devastating plague of 1348-49, Lazzaretto Vecchio was established in 1423 as the first quarantine island in the Mediterranean region, and was used to separate the healthy from the sick during Venetian plagues. Lazzaretto Nuovo was established shortly afterward as a place where ships suspected to carry sickness among their passengers or crew were anchored for 40 days. English acquired the word “quarantine” from the Italian term for 40 days, quaranta giorni. The lagoon island of Poveglia also became a quarantine outpost sometime in the 15th century. It’s rumored that half the soil of Poveglia is human ash from burned plague corpses. Then it became a mental hospital from 1922-1968. No wonder the place is one of the most haunted locations in Europe.

Considering the 15th century world had no idea how disease was spread, the idea of quarantining the sick or foreigners arriving from plague stricken areas was very innovative.

The story, “Lazzeretto Vecchio: A Dowry for Saffron,” takes place during Venice’s plague of 1630-31, which killed a third of the city’s population. Both plague islands were used to isolate and treat the sick, however, caregivers were needed to work at the island hospitals, mostly because, I assume, workers kept dying of plague. 

The Italian city of Ferrara had a long history of successfully avoiding plagues that ravaged other parts of Italy. They closed their city gates and screened all arrivals for any signs of disease. They insisted that Fedi, proofs, identification papers from a plague-free zone must be presented. Ferrara, starting as early as medieval times, engaged in public sanitation campaigns, sweeping away garbage and liberally spreading lime powder on any surface that had come into contact with an infected person.

When an Italian physician, Girolamo Fracastoro, published a text in 1546 describing the “seeds of disease” as something that could stick to clothes and objects, Ferrara increased their sanitation practices during plagues and burned the clothes of any infected people. Removing garbage, spreading lime powder and burning infected clothing probably reduced the flea pestilence that actually carried Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes plague.

Many natural remedies were prescribed for protection against the plague, but a medicinal oil designed by a Spanish physician, Pedro Castagno, was written into Ferrara’s, “Reggimento contra la peste,” regimen against the plague. The oil, called Composito, was recommended to be applied to the body.

“Before getting up in the morning, after lighting a fire of scented woods (juniper, laurel and vine shoots), warm the clothes and above all the shirt, rub first the heart region, near the fire to ease balm absorption, then the throat. [Afterwards], wash hands and face with acqua chiara (clean water) mixed with wine or vinegar of roses, with which sometimes all the body should be cleaned, using a sponge.”

Ferrara city’s regimen against the plague

The contents of Composito was never fully disclosed, but researchers examined the records of materials ordered by Castagno and determined that the oil contained venom from scorpions and vipers, and myrrh and Crocus sativus, which is a saffron flower from which the filaments produce the golden spice saffron. Both myrrh and saffron are known to have antibacterial properties, as does scorpion venom with the bonus that it’s also a pain reliever. So basically, Composito was an early antibiotic and pain reliever combo. Pretty nifty!

According to census records, Venice’s population was around 140,000 in 1624. By 1633, that number had fallen to 102,000. More than 43,000 deaths were recorded over just three years, with nearly half of them taking place between September and December 1630. The city of Venice began several public works projects, like the grand Baroque church, Santa Maria della Salute, greeting guests at the entrance to the Grand Canal. The church’s construction began in November 1630 with the goal of keeping citizens employed and maintaining art and labor skills.

The city of Venice also purchased food for the quarantined, both in the city and on the plague islands. It is logical to speculate that in the early months of 1631, Venice might have asked Ferrara, a city with success at conquering the plague, if their convents could be paid in order to encourage volunteers to work at the plague islands. My story is fictitious, but the stage was set for the events I describe in the story. I also talked about pirates in the story. Yes, there were pirates at this time: mercenary pirates and government deployed pirates (particularly from England).

My story focuses on a group of nuns who have been “volunteered” by their convents, and how they sacrifice one nun into a marriage in order to secure their much needed ingredient of saffron for Composito, their only hope for survival on the plague islands. The politics and finances of Venice in 1631 created a world where this story could have happened. There’s a lot of history not recorded in text books, and this is a story that no one would want recorded. 

Something fun for readers:

In my research of the plague islands, I was surprised by the lack of ghost ship stories haunting the Venetian lagoon. If you know of any, please write me at sara@puckpublishing.com. If you’ve ever visited the eerie lagoon island, Poveglia, the plague island, turned insane asylum, turned old-folks home, which now stands empty—less the chilling screams on foggy nights—I want to hear about it.

Will Write for Wine

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Will-Write-Wine-Alexis-Novel-ebook/dp/B09XVM6Y38

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Welcome to the WordCrafter “Will Write for Wine” & “Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard” Book Blog Tour

Will Write for Wine & Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard Book Blog Tour

Stories I Stole from Lord Byron’s Bastard is a collection inspired by Venetian history. The fictional character, Alexis Lynn, wrote these stories in the novel Will Write for Wine by Sara W. McBride, but they are fun stand-alone adventures to be enjoyed with an excellent glass of Italian wine.

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Welcome to the WordCrafter Will Write for Wine & Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard Book Blog Tour. This is going to be a fun tour because we have two fabulous books to celebrate by a wonderful new author Sara W. McBride. Will Write for Wine is her debut novel about a writer, Alexis Lynn, and her funny and romantic escapades when she moves to Venice to start a new life. Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard is the recently released short story collection and companion to the novel. Her fiction is well researched and presented with a witty flare which I find refreshing and I think you will too. I hope you’ll follow the tour and join us at each blog stop. You’ll find the schedule and links below.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, June 27 – Opening Day Post – Writing to be Read – Guest Post: Inspiration for the Devil’s Bridge” & Review of Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard

Tuesday, June 28 – Showers of Blessings – Guest Post: Inspiration for “Stealing Georgione’s Mistress”

Wednesday June 29 – Carla Loves to Read – Guest Post: Inspiration for “The Masked Kiss”

Thursday, June 30 – Writing to be Read – Guest Post: Inspiration for “A Dowry for Safron” & Interview with Sara W. McBride

Friday, July 1 – Zigler’s News – Guest Post: Inspiration for “The Pregnant Man” & Review of Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard

Saturday, July 2 – Annette Rochelle Aben – Guest Post: Inspiration for “The Haunted Palazzo”

Sunday, July 3 – Roberta Writes – Guest Post: Inspiration for “The Secret Vault”

Monday, July 4 – Wrap-Up Post – Writing to be Read – Guest Post: Inspiration for Will Write for Wine & Review of Will Write for Wine

Give-Away

In addidtion, to the awesome guests posts, interview, and reviews at each tour stop, Sara is offerin a chance to win a digital copy of each book, Will Write For Wine & Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard. Leave a comment and click on the link below to enter for a chance to win:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d9280cae1/?

Introduction

I must begin by giving kudos to Sara W. McBride for the clever way that she has braided these seven short stories in this collection in with her debut novel, (and I’m told that she is currently working on a companion wine tasting journal). While both of these books stand alone easily, they really should be consumed together. In the novel, Will Write for Wine, we see the story of how Alexis Lynn comes to write these stories, but we don’t get to actually see the stories. For that, you must read Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard, which offers not only the stories, but the true inspiration behind them. After reading her delightful novel, and seeing Alexis’ digging up the background for the stories and seeing Manu’s reaction to reading them, one can’t help but be curious about the actual stories and want to read the collection. It’s brilliant!

Now let me turn things over to the author, Sara W. McBride, so she can share her inspiration for the story.

Ponte Del Diavlo – The Devil’s Bridge

https://www.puckpublishing.com

Inspiration for “Devil’s Bridge”

Guest Post by author Sara W. McBride

What inspired the story, “The Devil’s Bridge?”

The moment I saw the sign “Ponte del Diavolo,” I knew I had to write a story. At the edge of the bridge sits Palazzo Priuli, home to several Doge Priulis and is now an elegant hotel (www.hotelpriuli.com) in the Castello area of Venice. I had already been researching the tragic death of Antonio Foscarini, and then I discovered that the doge—Basically the president of Venice—who had him executed lived in the palazzo at the edge of Devil’s Bridge. It’s not often that history simply hands me a story, but there it was, burning bright in the Lancet windows of a 14th century palazzo. Here’s the real history behind the Devil-possessed Doge Priuli and his most famous victim:

Antonio Foscarini, executed on April 22, 1622, was a Venetian ambassador to London (1611-1615) and is rumored to have had an affair with King James’ Queen, Anne of Denmark. He returned to Venice during a “Spy War” with Spain and was suspected of betraying Venetian secrets to Spanish officials. Someone who knew about his affair with the Queen of England might have seeded this rumor. Upon his arrival in Venice in December 1615, he was arrested and held prisoner for three years under Doge Bembo, who uncovered the Bedmar plot which would have permitted Spanish mercenaries to march on Venice. In the midst of the crisis, Bembo died—or was possibly assassinated by the Spanish—and Doge Nicolo Donato reigned for a mere 35 days before he died. I believe he was assassinated by the Spanish, but have found no clear evidence for such a claim.

I’m considering writing a novel on the Venice/Spain Spy War of 1615-1622 because it’s super fascinating and an interesting statement on what fear does to a governing body.

Antonio Priuli (1548-1623) was elected doge in 1618 and released Foscarini in order to monitor him and his activities. Priuli was a brutal doge who arrested hundreds of innocent Venetians suspected of plotting against Venice. Was he possessed by the devil? Probably not, but how Devil’s Bridge earned its name is a mystery, so I took license and speculated that the devil enjoyed his residence at the bridge’s end.

On April 8, 1622, Foscarini, then a Senator of Venice, was arrested and accused by the Council of Ten—basically the governing body of Venice, particularly over state security matters—of meeting with ministers of foreign powers and communicating the most intimate secrets of the Venetian Republic. The evidence was weak and Foscarini denied all charges, yet he was still condemned to a public execution for high treason. Why? The answer will never be known, so I had fun speculating that perhaps a guest of his, under her own volition or persuaded by a demonically possessed doge, provided false evidence to seal his fate.

By the end of 1622, Doge Priuli showed signs of illness. In January, 1623, the same Council of Ten revoked Foscarini’s guilty verdict—Whoops, they were wrong—and reinstated the family’s honor with a posthumous exoneration. His bust and tomb can be found in the Church of San Stae in Venice. There’s more on Foscarini’s final resting place in “The Masked Kiss,” another story in this collection.

Doge Antonio Priuli died on August 12, 1623, but oddly, I am unable to locate his tomb. It’s usually pretty easy to find a doge’s tomb. I would have thought him to be buried in Santi Giovanni e Paolo (aka San Zanipolo), which houses tombs of 25 doges, but I haven’t found him there. The art and sculpture in this basilica-sized ediface is amazing! This behemoth church manages to hide on the North side of the Castello and is off the beaten tourist path, but you should definitely seek it out.

Two other Priuli doges, brothers Girolamo Priuli, 1486-1567, and Lorenzo Priuli, 1489-1559, are buried in San Salvador, but apparently there was no space remaining for their Priuli descendent, or perhaps the family just didn’t like Antonio.

Another source claims that the spy-hunting doge is buried alongside Marco Polo in the Church of San Lorenzo in the Castello district, but San Lorenzo has been closed for over a hundred years, only recently reopened, and I have not seen or read any evidence of the doge’s tomb being contained within. They couldn’t find Marco Polo either.

If you find the tomb of Venice’s 94th Doge, Antonio Priuli, please write to me at sara@puckpublishing.com. Otherwise, I’ll just have to assume he’s buried in the depths of the canal under Ponte del Diavolo.

Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Stories-Stole-Lord-Byrons-Bastard-ebook/dp/B0B27TS5GL

My Review

Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard

Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard is a short story collection by Sara W. McBride which will tickle your sense of adventure and discovery, and perhaps, your funny bone. A companion to her debut novel, Will Write for Wine, these stories bring Venetian history to life with a personal touch of humor, adding in the missing details which historical archives and family histories only elude to. Each story is accompanied with the history and inspiration behind it, and it’s fun to see how McBride crafted in characters to transform legend to story.

Included are tales of an unsuspecting hero who gets the girl, in “The Masked Kiss”; an apprentice who betrays his master in the name of love in “Stealing Giorgione’s Mistress”; a bridge occupied by a demon, in “The Devil’s Bridge”; a nun who chooses life on a plague island over marriage in “Lazzaretto Vecchio: A Dowry for Saffron”; a smuggling operation gone awry in “The Secret Vault”; and a delightful tale of a young artist forced to masquerade as a male in order to ply her trade in “A Gentleman’s Portrait by a Pregnant Man”. But, I’d have to say my favorite story in this collection is “The Haunted Palazzo”, because I’ve always been a sucker for a good ghost story, and the mysterious specter and wet windowsill are certainly prime food for ghostly fodder.

Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard is a collection of short historically inspired stories which are light and entertaining reads. Fun and enjoyable. I give it five quills.

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Day 6 of the WordCrafter “Where Spirits Linger” Book Blog Tour

Where Spirits Linger Book Blog Tour

To wrap-up the WordCrafter Where Spirits Linger Book Blog Tour, we have a guest post by contributing author, S.L. Kretschmer about the inspiration behind her story, “The Final Portrait”. I hope you all have enjoyed following this tour with us. Don’t forget to leave a comment. Every comment at each stop earns an entry into a random drawing for a free digital copy of Where Spirits Linger.

Guest post by S.L. Kretschmer, author of The Final Portrait

The Final Portrait evolved from prompts I received in round 1 of the 2020 NYC Midnight Short Story Competition – Ghost story, a monument, deodorant. My mind immediately flew to the Western Front of World War I and the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme in Northern France. I was fortunate to have visited the memorial in 2011, boarding a bus in the French town of Lille, and travelling south towards the battlefields. Little could prepare me for the emotion I felt on the trip. The scars across the landscape, now lush and green, could be easily identified, and it was not difficult to imagine the horrific scenes of trench warfare.

Thiepval Memorial

I began to research World War I paintings and came across a particularly moving one by the Irish artist William Orpen. Orpen was an official World War I Artist, and his depiction of a soldier, bloodied and lying in an alien landscape, devoid of nature and pitted with craters and pools of fetid water, was confronting. Orpen struggled with the brutality and grisly sights he documented for those back home and claimed to have been struck by a phantom force while painting in an abandoned field.

William Orpen

These nuggets of information were gelling into a thought. What would those painted in death have thought of the depiction? Of family and friends who might recognize their loved one? Of who they were, compared to how they are remembered in this final rendering? The Final Portrait.

The Final Portrait, by S.L. Kretschmer

S. L. Kretschmer is a born and bred South Australian, recently embracing both a tree change and becoming an empty nester in the beautiful wine region of the Barossa Valley. She has a BA in Creative Writing, and Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies. Her stories have been featured in the anthologies A Flash of Brilliance and Tales from the Upper Room, and have also been published by Haunted Waters Press, Two Sisters Publishing, 101 Words, Beyond Words Literary Magazine, Bluing the Blade and inScribe Literary Journal.

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Where Spirits Linger

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Where-Spirits-Linger-Lynne-Booth-ebook/dp/B09GNZJVJ5

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Thanks for joining us today! And if you missed any of the blog stops along the way, you can find them at the links below. Drop by and catch the ones you missed, and leave a comment to let us know you were there and get a chance for the free didgital copy of Where Spirits Linger.

Sept. 20 – Intro./Enid’s promo – Writing to be Read/Review – Undawnted

https://writingtoberead.com/2021/09/20/welcome-to-the-wordcrafter-where-spirits-linger-book-blog-tour/

Sept. 21 – Guest Post – Roberta Eaton Cheadle/Review – The Showers of Blessings

Sept. 22 – Guest Post – Kaye Lynne Booth – Patty’s World

Sept. 23 – Interview with Christa – Roberta Writes

Sept. 24 – Guest Post – Stevie Turner/ Review – Zigler’s News

https://ziglernews.blogspot.com/2021/09/where-spirits-linger-wordcrafter-book.html

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Day 5 of the WordCrafter “Where Spirits Linger” Book Blog Tour

Where Spirits Linger Book Blog Tour

For Day 5 of the WordCrafter Where Spirits Linger Book Blog Tour brings us a guest post by contributing author, Stevie Turner about her story, “David’s Revenge”, on Zigler’s News and a review by Victoria Zigler. Please join us to learn more about this author and her story. Leave a comment and earn a chance to win a free digital copy of Where Spirits Linger.

https://ziglernews.blogspot.com/2021/09/where-spirits-linger-wordcrafter-book.html

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