Baseball and the Third Reich by Jonathan Weeks – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Jonathan will be awarding a $10 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Baseball and the Third Reich

I have always been captivated by the fact that a madman nearly took over the world during the 1940s. I’m not sure what grips me most about this concept—the idea that he nearly succeeded or the notion that it really wasn’t so long ago. The world has changed a great deal since Adolf Hitler began selling his toxic ideology to the masses, but it hasn’t changed all that much. There are still madmen in it along with sheep who readily subscribe to various caustic philosophies. This is one of the many things that keep me awake at night.

But I digress…

My first novel, The Bridgeport Hammer, is a fantasy baseball memoir set during World War II. It follows the exploits of a U.S. counterintelligence agent as he attempts to thwart a diabolical Nazi assassination plot.

The target: President Roosevelt
The setting: The 1942 All-Star Game.

Sound far-fetched? It actually isn’t.

There is no evidence to support the fact that Hitler knew anything about baseball, but he was aware that sports appealed to the masses. He used the 1936 Summer Olympics as a political platform to advance the Nazi cause. Seeking to showcase a “New Germany,” the Fuehrer pledged forty-two million Reichmarks to the construction of a 325-acre sports complex outside of Berlin. When the Nazi party’s official newspaper—the Volkischer Beobachter—published a treatise on why Jews and blacks should be excluded from the games, other nations threatened to boycott. Hitler backed down, adding a token Jewish participant to his own team—a woman named Helene Mayer.

With some of the greatest athletes in the world, the Germans dominated the Berlin Olympics, capturing eighty-nine Gold Medals. Only the United States came close to matching that total (with fifty-nine). Hitler hated Americans and all they stood for. The idea of a long-range strategic bomber for the German air force was first proposed in the late-30s. By 1942, advanced plans for the bomber’s design began to appear. Five prototypes were built, though none ever became functional. Had the so-called “Amerika Bomber” project ever come to fruition (along with the Reich’s atomic program), the Germans would have been capable of wreaking havoc upon the U.S.

That’s a frightening concept.

Here’s another: German U-Boats were spotted off the American coast on multiple occasions during the war. More than a dozen were lost in U.S. waters. In June of 1942, one of them came close enough to allow four saboteurs to paddle ashore at Amagansett, Long Island carrying a large cache of explosives. Two of the saboteurs ended up in New York City while the other pair went to Chicago. One of them, a German nationalist named George Johann Dasch, had been a U.S. resident for many years and was married to an American woman. He spoke perfect English.

In regard to baseball and counter-intelligence, the two are historically linked. Moe Berg spent fifteen seasons in the majors as a catcher for several different teams. Though he was never more than an average player, he was intellectually gifted—making several successful appearances as a contestant on the radio quiz show Information, Please. A graduate of Princeton University, he was fluent in multiple languages. In 1934, Berg was selected to play on a major league All-Star team that toured Japan. During the trip, he took films of the Tokyo industrial landscape that would later be used to plan bombing raids during World War II. When his playing days were over, he worked for the Office of Strategic Services—precursor to the CIA. On one of his assignments, he traveled to Zurich, Switzerland to evaluate the status of the German atomic program.

The facts I have presented here are the building blocks of my novel, The Bridgeport Hammer. If you find the subject matter interesting, you might want to pick up a copy. I have tried very hard to establish a sound historical base while keeping the narrative exciting and fun. Those who are partial to non-fiction can obtain a copy of my book, Mudville Madness, which was recently released by Taylor Trade Publishing. Spanning three centuries of baseball history, the book provides a generous sampling of the sport’s most unusual occurrences. For folks who prefer their baseball history in smaller doses, you can check out my weekly postings at The blog is called Cellar Dwellers (named after my first book).

>MEDIA KIT The Bridgeport Hammer eimage“As you would have the right to expect from any book about a baseball-playing spy narrated by the all-time record holder for most passed balls in a single game, The Bridgeport Hammer is a delight. Jonathan Weeks’ tale of baseball during wartime lovingly gets all the details of the old ballgame right, and does so while spiriting the reader through a fascinating tale of journeymen, espionage, and one unforgettably goofy pitch. Add “the bumpus” of the mysterious rookie Emmett Drexler to the great notions in baseball lore, and add The Bridgeport Hammer to your shelf of baseball classics.” – Josh Wilker, author of Cardboard Gods

Enjoy an excerpt:

I couldn’t let Buddy investigate alone, so I followed him out of the club. I remember the scene clearly. The door opened on a cobblestone alley. It had rained at some point and the street lamps were reflecting off of scattered puddles. I spotted several mangy-looking cats eating out of a dumpster. The buildings were fairly close and you could have jumped across from one fire escape to another. A sewer grate was breathing steam into the air. The door closed behind me with a dramatic WHUMP! I checked to see if it was locked. It was.

“Great,” I said to Buddy. “Now we’ve got to walk all the way around. They’ll probably charge us to get back in.”

The two suspicious looking men were standing about twenty yards up the alley conversing in a foreign accent. It sounded like German. I didn’t see Drexler anywhere.

“Looks like we’ve got us a couple of Krauts,” said Buddy.

“Try not to make ‘em mad,” I advised.

There was a brief stare down between our two parties before the Germans (or whoever they were) advanced on us. They were walking side by side. In a move that seemed almost choreographed, they reached into their coats at the same time and pulled out what looked like Luger pistols. My stomach did a little somersault. I was about to die in an alley outside my favorite night club—And I hadn’t even gotten to see Carmen O’Day’s second set!

There was a glint of steel from above as two objects struck the gunmen one right after the other. FWUP! FWUP! It was like something out of a movie. The gunmen grunted in pain and surprise then teetered on their feet for a few seconds before toppling face first to the cobblestone. The daggers in their backs were stuck all the way up to the hilt. A noise on the fire escape captured our attention as a dark figure scrabbled through a window into one of the buildings.

We stood in dumb silence for a few seconds then Buddy grabbed me by the arm.

“We better get out of here before somebody blames us for this,” he said.

There was no debate. We ran as fast as we could.

About the Author: MEDIA KIT Author Photo #3Weeks spent thirty-eight years in the Capital District region of New York State. He obtained a degree in psychology from SUNY Albany. In 2004, he migrated to Malone, New York, and has continued to gripe about the frigid winter temperatures ever since. A member of the Society for American Baseball Research, he has authored two non-fiction books on the topic of baseball: Cellar Dwellers and Gallery of Rogues. His first novel, The Bridgeport Hammer, (a baseball story set during the WWII era) is being released in the summer of 2014. He writes about the game because he lacked the skills to play it professionally. He still can’t hit a curveball or lay off the high heat.

Link: Check out his “Cellar Dwellers” blog at:

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Author Interview and Giveaway: Author Bill Blodgett

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Bill Blodgett, whose newest book is Unrequited. One of you will win an autographed copy of it along with some gourmet coffee! Check out the Rafflecopter at the end of the post to enter.

Bill has actually been writing for years, but not until his youngest daughter entered college did he have time to take the writing seriously.

“Before that I’d only find bits and pieces of time to actually write. Sometimes it’d be weeks or months between pages but this was by choice,” he explained. “I guess I enjoyed watching dance recitals, high school theater productions, baseball games and all of those other important moments that go along with being a dad. As a matter of fact it took me so long that I didn’t even tell my family for the longest time that I was writing because I never thought I’d finish that book.”

Once he typed “The End” for the first time, however, he thought of himself as a writer.

“It was an extraordinary feeling and one I don’t think will ever be topped. Even when I got the call from a publisher who wanted to publish my first book didn’t top the feeling of accomplishment and pride I got when I wrote those two simple words,” he told me. “It was years before I finally got a book published but I always considered myself a writer.”

The hardest part of writing for Bill is actually sitting down to do it, especially when he’s working his day job.

“Maybe it’s because when I’m done for the day I’m mentally fatigued or maybe the grass needs to be mowed or my grandsons have a baseball game or my granddaughter wants to play with play dough or maybe I just want to chill with my wife and watch a favorite show,” he said. “Priorities. We all have priorities and those priorities don’t mesh well. Nevertheless I get the job done and am happy that I did actually did sit down and take my characters along on their fantastic journey.”

He’s a construction inspector for an engineering company, so a lot of his work is seasonal–during the cold and frozen-solid months of the Northeast winter months, he doesn’t work the day job–that’s when he sits down to write daily like it’s his job.

To date, he has three published books, but his newest release is actually the first book he wrote and is his favorite.

“Unrequited is a story I couldn’t let go. I’ve always believed that it carries a deeper meaning on many levels to the readers. Thankfully my family also believed in me and this story so they continued to encourage me to bring the characters to life. Even while I was writing my other books my mind kept going back to Unrequited. As with most authors I began a couple of other books early on but never completed them. I was either too young or inexperienced or uncommitted to the stories to finish them. I think most authors have a few unfinished manuscripts to their credit but I don’t plan on going back to them as I really want to follow this path of writing that Unrequited has brought me to.”

One interesting thing about all his books is he always works the word diamond into them as a shout out to his critique group “The Diamonds.” The group is named after the Herkimer Diamonds that are found near where they meet.

“When I write ‘diamond’ in the book, it’s like saying hi to Alee and Janine just like when Carol Burnett tugged at her ear in order to say hi to her grandmother. I guess I said hi to them both a few times here!” he said.

When Bill’s not working or writing, he enjoys kayaking with his wife, Janice. They prefer to paddle on backwoods streams where they don’t normally encounter other kayakers.

“It’s almost like exploring and sometimes we happen upon wildlife in their natural habitats,” he explained. “We’ve seen deer drinking from the edge of the stream or munching on some delicate fresh greenery and once we paddled up to a doe resting under an evergreen next to the stream. She looked at us and we at her, my wife took a photo or two and then we paddled on without disturbing her. We’ve seen water foul up close and personal, and have been treated to some of the most majestic panoramic views of mother nature at her very best. My wife loves to take nature shots and on my website I’ve put up some pictures she took of some very special visitors to our own backyard.”

“What was the scariest moment of your life?” I asked him.

“The scariest time of my life is when I thought I was trapped inside a steel tool shed with an escaped murderer. I was at a friend’s house doing a little fix-it-up project when she got a call from her sister, Margie, who was babysitting at a nearby house with a friend. Margie said she thought she heard noises outside so I went over to investigate. At the time there was a manhunt going on for an escaped multiple murderer. It was on the news for days with possible sightings reported all over the area. When I got to the house where Margie was babysitting I found a grizzly man crouched between the house and a one of those steel storage sheds. When he started to move I charged him and he charged me. After wrestling around for a moment we ended up crashing through the flimsy steel doors of the shed. When I realized we ended up inside the tool shed with axes and hammers and stuff all around I thought that maybe this wasn’t the best place to be with the escaped murder, Robert Garrow! When I started to pull away to get into the open with him he began to pull me back into the shed. I was sure to kill me. We wrestled around a little more until we ended up rolling around on the blacktopped driveway. I looked up to see Margie and her friend watching so I yelled out, ‘Margie, call the police!’ What I didn’t expect was Robert Garrow’s response, ‘That’s right, Margie. Call the police. And then even more unexpected was Margie’s friend yelling out, ‘Why are you beating up my father?’ It seems both girls called home about the noises. We were both battered, bruised and scraped up but we kind of laughed about it, shook hands and thanked each other for watching out for the babysitters.”

One talent Bill admitted he doesn’t have but wished he did is dancing. Janice loves to dance, and Bill tries when they go out but said he gets all hot and sweaty when they do.

“I’ve got like two steps when dancing fast and a single tight circle when dancing slow, but I do try. We’ve taken Ballroom dancing lessons and I’m more than a little stiff in that department. I did enjoy Square Dancing and did that kind of good,” he said. Why, you might ask can I square dance and not be comfortable with other types of dance? Simple. Square dancing is a series of prescribed steps called out by someone and consequently I know every move I had to make several seconds before I had to do it! We’ve long since stopped square dancing but we did have fun while we were doing it.”

Finally, I asked, “What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?”

“Join a writers group and/or form a critique group. It’s so difficult writing in a vacuum. Being with other writers can free you up to express your thoughts and fears about the process. Not to put down the good intentions of family and friends who love to encourage you toward your goal but writers truly understand your position and all the issues that come with being a writer. For instance, if you’re suffering from writer’s block your family will surely sympathize with you but other writers will fully understand and jump right in with how they overcame it and suddenly you’re not alone.”

7_7 Unrequited-quoted version2Unrequited is a story of everlasting love, heartbreak, addiction, and courage of the human spirit to fight back against all odds.

Travel back in time to this peaceful New England community during the simpler days of the post WWII era of 1955, and join Joe on a reminiscent walk down Main Street America to the Five and Dime where he’ll ask Kathy out for the first time. Visit the Connelly’s home as Kathy and her family gather around their potbellied stove and trade stories of family values and of Chester, the fabled family protector.

It’s the picture-perfect family Joe’s always wanted and when he calls on Kathy, he’s welcomed with open arms. When he proposes and she says yes, their future promises them an idyllic lifetime together, but fate breaks that promise and Joe’s plans are turned upside down. Suddenly the peaceful 1950’s become his prison and the keys to his prison are hidden away in the true meaning of life and love as told to him by Riggs, an elderly black man with roots in slavery. Riggs shares his three truths with Joe as they’ve been handed down for generations, but there’s more to Riggs and his three truths than meets the eye.

About the Author: 7_7 bill240x200Bill still lives in the community where he met and married his lovely wife, Janice. Actually, she lived around the corner from him and they both ignored each other until their teen years when the hormone thing kicked in and they suddenly realized that the cute little girl skipping rope and that goofy boy riding a bike had both grown up.

They are the proud parents of April and Lindsay; both of whom are now married. April married Darren and they have two beautiful boys, Brian and Owen. Lindsay married Tim and they have a beautiful little girl, Kailyn.

Bill enjoys hiking, kayaking, camping with his family, golfing, making candles, and restoring his antique European sports car, a 1972 MGB.

They say to write from what you know, so he does. He writes of love, life and relationships.

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The Milestone Tapes by Ashley Mackler-Paternostro – spotlight and giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Ashley will be awarding The Book Bag, a Glass Fishing Float, a Keychain, Cassette Tape Note Cards, Mug, Paperback & a digital copy of The Milestone Tapes (US only) to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour via the Rafflecopter at the end of this post. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Cover_The Milestone TapesThe only thing Jenna Chamberland ever wanted in her life was to be a good wife and a good mom. In death, she’ll find that she still wants the same things.

With stage-four breast cancer, a terminal diagnosis and six months to live, Jenna fears what awaits her family after she is gone: Her husband, Gabe, will be left to raise their daughter alone, and Mia, only seven years old, will be forced to face a world without her mother.

Ten blank tapes to teach her daughter everything she’ll ever need to know. Dead before Mia ever really got to know her, Jenna exists now only in pictures and watercolored memories, and Mia finds herself struggling to remember her mother in a way that feels real. But on the ninth anniversary of Jenna’s death, she will return to her daughter through a series of audiocassettes. One tape each of the milestones of Mia’s life, and with them, a letter explaining that Mia should only listen to the tapes when the time is right.

With the help of her mother’s long-gone voice, Mia may just learn how to embrace the challenges and triumphs of her ever-changing life with humor, grace and a lot of hope.

Rereleased for its second anniversary, the novel that book bloggers have called “beautiful” and “unforgettable” returns with new content and tapes never before read.

Enjoy an excerpt:

“Today she would untie herself from the last filament of hope that had kept her tethered to the fight. She would watch silently as it away like a balloon slipped from between her fingertips. Today would be what some called the beginning of the end and others called the long goodbye.

Gabe. She could his back, long and warm, thought the thin cotton of his undershirt pressed against her upper-arm as he slept beside her. He was where the story of her began, where the chapters of her life had started to matter. Of course she wouldn’t untangle herself from motherhood now; given the change; it was the same as imagining herself suddenly without her sight or another comfortable, almost given, attribute. Life without Mia was entirely unimaginable. But those childless years they’d once had still made her heart flutter. The lilt of it, the way it had been so simple, so easy. Now that she was facing the end, she’d become a necromancer of the past, dredging it up just to delight in what she saw.” – The Milestone Tapes

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ashley Mackler Paternostro is the author of The Milestone Tapes and the Amazon Best Selling novel In The After. Her shorter works can be found in Holiday Wishes – An Anthology for a Children’s Charity and on the blog Ashley lives in a suburb of Chicago with her husband and their three dogs.






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Ten Things You Might Not Know About Quilting, Queen Mary and Liz Trenow, author of THE FORGOTTEN SEAMSTRESS

5_6 Liz
Download the pattern for Maria’s quilt

Ten things you might not know about quilting, Queen Mary, and the author

I had a lot of fun discovering some of these things myself!

1. The oldest example of a quilt is in a museum in St Petersburgh, Russia and is a quilted linen carpet found in a Mongolian cave. Quilting was introduced in Europe by Crusaders in the 12th century who wore quilted garments under their armour.

2. The US Quilters Newsletter stated in 2010 that there were 21 million quilters in the US alone, mostly women and with an average age of 62.

3. According to the Guinness Book of records, the world’s largest historical quilt is 11,390 square feet and depicts the state of North Dakota.

4. Queen Mary of England’s real name was Victoria Mary Augusta Louise Olga Pauline Claudine Agnes, but she was informally known as “May”, after the month of her birth.

5. In 1891 she was due to marry the heir to the throne Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence but six weeks after the announcement of the engagement he died of pneumonia. So she married his younger brother instead, who became King George.

6. Her eldest son Edward became King of England but abdicated later the same year in order to marry the twice-divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson.

7. Her youngest son, Prince John, was housed in a private farm on the Sandringham Estate to hide his epilepsy from the public.

8. Liz Trenow comes from a long line of silk weavers. The company, Stephen Walters & Sons, which is still going strong today, was started 300 years ago in Spitalfields, London.

9. Trenow is Liz’s married name – it’s Cornish for ‘new house’. She, her husband and two daughters are the only Trenows in the whole of the United Kingdom. We are a real rarity!

10. Liz once earned her living as a ski instructor at Mont Tremblant in Quebec, Canada. Brrr.
Thanks for reading! If you want to find out more about me and my books, please visit

In 1910 London, a remarkable young seamstress is noticed by Queen Mary and given a position in the royal household. A century later, Caroline, a struggling designer, discovers a mysterious hand-me-down quilt with a curious verse embroidered into its lining. When Caroline learns that the fabric in the quilt is rare royal wedding silk and begins to dig deeper, she uncovers the extraordinary story of two women whose lives collide with devastating consequences. But that secret pales in comparison to the truth Caroline finally learns about herself.

Advance Praise for The Forgotten Seamstress

“The characters are strong, caring and well developed, and the descriptions of the handmade quilts will appeal to those who also have passion for quilting. Trenow has written a spellbinding story that will keep readers up late to find out what happens next.” – RT Book Reviews

“The two narratives are seamlessly woven together, forming a heartrending tapestry of tragedy and resilience.” – Booklist

“A page-turner with eye-opening details about the conditions of mental hospitals in the 20th century, as well as the provenance of royal fabrics, the art of quilting, and the vagaries of modern interior design.” – Publishers Weekly

“Weaving together Caroline’s and Maria’s journeys, Trenow meticulously stitches each piece of this engrossing story into a unified—and heartwarming—whole.” – Kirkus

You can receive a free preview (first four chapters) of the book from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Buy the book at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

About the Author: 5_6 liz trenowFor Liz’s website go to
For Liz’s publishers go to

Liz Trenow’s family have been silk weavers for nearly three hundred years, and she grew up in the house next to the mill in Suffolk, England, which still operates today, weaving for top-end fashion houses and royal commissions.

It was the recollections of Liz’s father about how, during the Second World War, the mill worked night and day weaving parachute silk, that inspired her first novel, The Last Telegram. It is the story of Lily Verner, a young woman who has to grow up very quickly and learn to manage the stresses and trials behind the Home Front in the Second World War.

The love story at the heart of the novel is also based on real life events and characters. In 1939, when war was imminent, Liz’s family were so concerned about the plight of their many Jewish friends and business colleagues in Europe that travel to England and work at the mill. One of them fell in love with a local girl and, after internment in Australia and fighting for the Allies in Burma, returned to work at the mill, married and had a family, and lived a long and happy life. Unfortunately the story in The Last Telegram is not quite so straightforward!

Liz says: ‘It is a coming of age story, a tale of love and loss, and how we come to terms with the mistakes we make.’

Balancing Life and Writing by Eric Rill

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. One commenter will win a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Balancing Life and Writing: The Writing Process

Just as in doing research, there is no balance in my life when writing my novels.

It usually takes me three months from when I first sit down at the computer until I am ready for the editing process.

My days are pretty much the same. I wake up very early, around 5:30 or 6:00, and either go for a run or go to the gym, depending on the weather. I put classical music on my iPod—not the best for aerobic activity, but it serves as a quiet background as I gather my thoughts from the day and night before. After a quick breakfast, I collect the scraps of paper that I jot notes on, that are scattered throughout the house. Then I stop back in my bedroom and try to make out the scribbles that were written the night before in a semi-comatose state.

Most nights, ideas come to me as if they are channeled from somewhere. Now I am not one of those people who believe that channeling is possible, but I really have no explanation for what presents itself in the middle of the night, that prompts me to pick up the flashlight on the bed table, grab for the pad and pen, and write what will sometimes take a while to decipher, if at all, in the morning.

After making the rounds of the house and gathering my notes, I sit down at the computer and begin to write. Some days I look at my watch and it’s time for lunch. Some days I look at my watch and it’s time for dinner. I am so immersed in the book that unless I am interrupted, which is not often as I turn off my cell phone, the first hint I get that it’s time to quit, is when the writing starts to get stale. Sometimes I try to force it, but then realize that all that will accomplish is bad writing.
At that point I am ready for a glass of wine and a light dinner. When I do go out for dinner, which isn’t often, my friends are polite, but they know my mind is not there and they forgive me, waiting until my real life gets back to normal—after I am finished with the editing process.

MEDIA KIT An Absent MindA riveting new novel from Eric Rill, author of Pinnacle of Deceit and The Innocent Traitor, is about a race against time. The ticking time bomb is Saul Reimer’s sanity. His Alzheimer’s is going to be the catalyst that will either bring his family together or tear it apart.

About the Author MEDIA KIT Author Photo Eric RillEric Rill was born in Montreal and graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Arts, and from UCLA with an MBA. He held several executive positions in the hospitality industry, including president of a global hotel group. His hobbies include trekking, scuba diving, and collecting antique carpets. Eric has two sons and divides his time between his residence in Panama and international travel. You can reach him at his website at:

Buy the book at Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

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Interview and Giveaway: Anne Clinard Barnhill

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Anne Clinard Barnhill whose latest novel Queen Elizabeth’s Daughter has recently been released. Leave a comment for a chance to win a print copy of the book (US and Canada only please).

Anne has always been enthralled by stories, and she’s always loved the sounds of language–so much so that poetry can make her weak-kneed. She wanted to tell the stories that she made up in her head.

” I remember walking home from school and acting out whole scenes while I was strolling along,” she told me. “Luckily, no one saw me—I’m sure I looked like a raving maniac. And, the truth is, writing and telling stories is about all I can do—I sure can’t cook or sew or do anything useful like that. I’ve just got these stories in my head that need to get out into the world.”

She started writing in junior high.

“Horrible love poems,” she confessed. ” Then, I loved my English classes in high school and did some more writing then. But it was in college that I really began to believe I might be a writer someday. I had my family when I was quite young, got divorced and had to support them for a while. Then I remarried and had a third son. I taught high school to help support them. But in 1989, the older boys were in their teens and I decided to quit my teaching job, much to the consternation of my friends, who though I’d gone completely insane. I worked part-time jobs and wrote the rest of the time. I worked in a jewelry store and in a dermatologist’s office. All the while, I was writing and eventually began to freelance and earn some money ACTUALLY writing!”

Even though she wrote for years, it took her years to refer to herself as a writer.

“The word was sacrosanct to me and I dared not call myself that,” she said. “After my first book finally came out, then I claimed the title. It was silly, I guess. But I was afraid I’d jinx myself if I called myself a writer before I felt I’d earned the title.”

If she could go back and do her journey towards publication again, there are a few things she would do differently.

“I’d start earlier and I’d develop a very thick skin right away. I’d push myself harder and I’d hustle more to get stuff out there. I’d be a cooler person, so I’d have my finger on the pulse of what was happening and I’d know all the brand names of stuff. That stuff never interested me so I’m at a loss in those areas.”

She has rarely suffered from writer’s block because she spent too many years on deadline to allow herself that luxury; however, the last few months she has been blocked.

“I know at this point in my life, the cure for every sort of thing is to write. So, I just made myself begin again,” she told me. “But I did have to let go of a toxic relationship that was interfering with my work. That wasn’t easy but I finally figured out this person was in my head and I had to clear all that out. It’s good now.”

Anne is currently working on a novel set in 1960 West Virgina where she grew up.

“It’s got a Melungeon granny woman who dreams the future, a young man with over 100 guns who likes to shoot up the yard every so often, a 20-something motorcycle riding gal on a mission to find her missing cousin and a 14-year old girl who was won in a poker game,” she said. “I started it about 20 years ago and I have struggled on and off over the years to get it right—I’m closer now than ever but still have work to do.”

“How do you come up with the titles to your books?” I asked.

“Well, the truth is, I must be awful at titles. None of the books, except the poetry chapbook, <i>Coal Baby</i>, has the title I gave it. Every editor wanted something different and so either they came up with it or we did it together. I’ve accepted the fact that I must not be very good at titles.”

Anne has a beautiful office her husband designed for her. I asked her to describe it.

“It’s large and on one side are bookcases. There’s a couch in case I want to nap or meditate. Double glass doors lead onto a small deck which is surrounded by trees. Two large windows are on one wall and I can see out into the woods. It’s very quiet and peaceful, painted lavender to help relax me. I have all sorts of beloved items on the shelves—a statue of Elizabeth I from my daughter-in-law, a bird’s next made of pine needles which was a gift from a friend, my kaleidoscope collection, sea shells, pictures of the Madonna and child, photos of my dear sons and their families-I try to surround myself with things I really love.”

Finding the time to write is still a struggle, even though her children are grown.

“le. I continue to have various family responsibilities but really, now that I’m finished with QED, I intend to work like a fiend. I was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer right after<i> At the Mercy of the Queen</i> came out and had to have surgery, chemo and radiation. I’m cancer-free and hope to remain so. But when I get my strength back, I knew I had to get these books that are inside of me out into the world. We don’t have forever —that’s what I came away with.”

” What is the most embarrassing thing your mother ever did to you?”

“This one’s easy. I was in 8th grade and I’d just gotten my yearbook. Mom and I were sitting on the couch and I was showing her who all these people were. I’d ask her which ones she thought were pretty and which not. She started down the page, pointed at different girls…. ‘Pretty, ugly, pretty, so-so, ugly…’ and on and on. She came to my picture and said ‘Ugly.’ I said, ‘Mom, that’s me!’ ‘Oh,’ she said. ‘ I mean pretty.’ It was so embarrassing to both of us and she says she’ll never live it down. She just turned 90 and I still kid her about it.”

“What about the scariest moment of your life?”

“Not counting the cancer, it happened when I was in graduate school and I had a late night class. I lived about 40 minutes away from campus and was driving home around 10 PM. It was raining like crazy, I mean coming down in sheets. The wind was blowing the car. I drove into the little trailer park where I was living and there was not a light on anywhere. The gas station on the corner was open, which it never was so late. I pulled in to get gas and was told a hurricane was coming and everyone was being evacuated. I returned to my trailer and called my husband who told me to get home asap. I couldn’t. I knew I couldn’t drive four hours in that rain. So I stayed in that trailer while the wind and rain slashed and shook it. I actually cried and prayed for survival.”

Finally, I asked, “What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?”

“I’d give them the same advice Fred Chappell gave me years ago: Don’t become a writer unless you are completely compelled to do it. I didn’t understand his advice at the time—a writer was my big dream for myself. Now, I get it—it’s a heart-breaking business in many ways. It’s filled with rejection and disappointment; there’s little money unless you get really lucky and write a bestseller. And for every bestseller, there are thousands of better books out there, they just haven’t been marketed. So, I’d say unless you think it is your destiny, get a real job with benefits.”

About the Author:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve been writing or dreaming of writing for most of my life. When I was a kid, I’d gather all the younger cousins around when we were visiting our grandparents and tell them scary stories. While in college, I discovered again my love of stories and began to write them myself. Flash forward 15 years, one divorce, one remarriage and three kids later and you’ll find me quitting my teaching job to write full-time. It was that or go crazy. That was in 1990. I started writing articles, book and theater reviews for money and slowly learned how to write a short story. A few were published in literary magazines. I kept going. In 2007, seventeen years after I started writing seriously, my first book was published, AT HOME IN THE LAND OF OZ: Autism, My Sister and Me. Then, my short story collection was published, WHAT YOU LONG FOR. Finally, in 2012, my first novel came out, AT THE MERCY OF THE QUEEN. And now, my second novel, QUEEN ELIZABETH’S DAUGHTER, has just been released. It’s been a long, hard journey but I’m glad I took it.

Website ~ Facebook

>4_15 Queen Elizabeth's DaughterFrom Anne Barnhill, the author of At the Mercy of the Queen, comes the gripping tale of Mary Shelton, Elizabeth I’s young cousin and ward, set against the glittering backdrop of the Elizabethan court.

Mistress Mary Shelton is Queen Elizabeth’s favorite ward, enjoying every privilege the position affords. The queen loves Mary like a daughter, and, like any good mother, she wants her to make a powerful match. The most likely prospect: Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. But while Oxford seems to be everything the queen admires: clever, polished and wealthy, Mary knows him to be lecherous, cruel, and full of treachery. No matter how hard the queen tries to push her into his arms, Mary refuses.

Instead, Mary falls in love with a man who is completely unsuitable. Sir John Skydemore is a minor knight with little money, a widower with five children. Worst of all, he’s a Catholic at a time when Catholic plots against Elizabeth are rampant. The queen forbids Mary to wed the man she loves. When the young woman, who is the queen’s own flesh and blood, defies her, the couple finds their very lives in danger as Elizabeth’s wrath knows no bounds.

Buy the book at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Looking Back by Anne Clinard Barnhill

I’m sitting in a hotel room in Philippi, West Virginia, gazing at a truck-filled parking lot and watching the way the hill across the highway curves against the pale, spring sky. I grew up in this town; it’s where I went to high school and college, where I got my first kiss, where I smoked my first cigarette and where I fell in love with the rugged life in the mountains. I carry it with me always and am very excited about writing my next novel with this place in mind.

Though much is the same as when I left thirty-five years ago, much has changed. The junior high I attended is long longer in existence; in its place is a pharmacy. My old high school has doubled, maybe even tripled in size and the college is larger, too. Now it has a football stadium. Back when I was a student, the sport was soccer.

The old covered bridge is still there, having made it through floods and fires. Dating back to the Civil War, this bridge crosses the Tygart River. I used to love to walk across on the covered walkway for pedestrians and look down stream to where the water curved in a backwards “C” and wonder where the water travelled, where it would take me if I could follow it.

I’m here to give a reading and teach a couple of classes for creative writing students. And I’m here for research for yet another novel I have in mind set in West Virginia. But I’m also here to recapture the way I felt as a young girl—like the world was mine for the taking, like everything was possible and life beckoned to me with the seductive call of a siren. And I believed in all the hopeful things I suppose lots of young girls believe in—love, adventure, the chance to make the world more just, more fair, more like a place we’d all like to live.

But I fear those feelings are gone forever. I’ve seen too much, know too much to be that happy, young girl hiking in the hills. My old heart has many wounds, like most adults, I imagine. But on days like today, I long for the young girl I was, that cock-eyed optimist who believed, who cared about everything, who used to sing and dance in the yard when she thought no one was looking, the one who knew somehow everything was going to be all right. I do miss that girl but she’s not here in Philippi and she’d not at the beach where I live permanently. Maybe she’ll peek through in my writing one of these days.

About the Author:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve been writing or dreaming of writing for most of my life. When I was a kid, I’d gather all the younger cousins around when we were visiting our grandparents and tell them scary stories. While in college, I discovered again my love of stories and began to write them myself. Flash forward 15 years, one divorce, one remarriage and three kids later and you’ll find me quitting my teaching job to write full-time. It was that or go crazy. That was in 1990. I started writing articles, book and theater reviews for money and slowly learned how to write a short story. A few were published in literary magazines. I kept going. In 2007, seventeen years after I started writing seriously, my first book was published, AT HOME IN THE LAND OF OZ: Autism, My Sister and Me. Then, my short story collection was published, WHAT YOU LONG FOR. Finally, in 2012, my first novel came out, AT THE MERCY OF THE QUEEN. And now, my second novel, QUEEN ELIZABETH’S DAUGHTER, has just been released. It’s been a long, hard journey but I’m glad I took it.

Website ~ Facebook

>4_15 Queen Elizabeth's DaughterFrom Anne Barnhill, the author of At the Mercy of the Queen, comes the gripping tale of Mary Shelton, Elizabeth I’s young cousin and ward, set against the glittering backdrop of the Elizabethan court.

Mistress Mary Shelton is Queen Elizabeth’s favorite ward, enjoying every privilege the position affords. The queen loves Mary like a daughter, and, like any good mother, she wants her to make a powerful match. The most likely prospect: Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. But while Oxford seems to be everything the queen admires: clever, polished and wealthy, Mary knows him to be lecherous, cruel, and full of treachery. No matter how hard the queen tries to push her into his arms, Mary refuses.

Instead, Mary falls in love with a man who is completely unsuitable. Sir John Skydemore is a minor knight with little money, a widower with five children. Worst of all, he’s a Catholic at a time when Catholic plots against Elizabeth are rampant. The queen forbids Mary to wed the man she loves. When the young woman, who is the queen’s own flesh and blood, defies her, the couple finds their very lives in danger as Elizabeth’s wrath knows no bounds.

Buy the book at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Moral Dilemmas by M. Garzon

4_4 VBT_BlazeOfGlory_Banner

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding the entire trilogy on Kindle or Kobo (winner’s choice) to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

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Moral Dilemmas

For the past several months I’ve been trying not to buy anything made in China. Until people in that country stop skinning dogs alive in order to eat them, or boiling cats alive to pass off their fur as “fake fur”, I don’t want any of my money ending up in the hands of potential abusers.

People, do you have any idea how much stuff is made in China?! It’s been nigh impossible to completely honor my desire. Similarly for my plan to avoid palm oil (‘cause, you know, deforestation and endangerment of orangutans and elephants). At the grocery store every second food item on the shelves contains palm oil. Hot chocolate mix, ice cream, salad dressing – you name it, the evil is lurking.

Compounding this difficulty is the fact that I’m alone in supporting two kids. On a writer’s income. So, you guessed it, buying $10-dollar-a-bottle, locally-made organic shampoo (or anything, for that matter) is not an option for me. I face a moral dilemma every time I step out the door, along with the more pressing question of which is ‘more right’: Do I spend extra money on conscientious items, thus helping to preserve the planet but allowing for much less ‘stuff’ for my kids? Or do I save by buying whatever’s on sale, thus ensuring my kids are provided for comfortably, but potentially creating larger problems for their generation? Which option will my kids thank me for in the long run, and which will allow me to sleep better at night?

These are the kinds of moral dilemmas that fuel my writing, too. Small decisions can take on a very large import in the context of a story with well-developed characters. Once your readers truly know your make-believe friends, they’ll immediately grasp why, for instance, not sharing that apple with the begging pony haunts your main character for weeks. They’ll know because your character is like their neighbor, their best friend from public school, or their cousin. And because of that, they’ll care.

They’ll exclaim, “Share the darn apple already!” while they’re on the bus to work, reading your story on their phone. People will look at them funny, and it’ll give them a complex. And it will be all your fault… another moral dilemma to mine for next time.

4_4 Cover_BlazeOfGloryThe first book in the popular trilogy, soon to be a major new television series!

Some fires can consume you.

Last year, I had it all. Two jumpers on the show circuit, a lot of wins, and a lot of attention – the good kind. But now I have nothing. My life is circling the drain. The only spark of light that exists for me is my new, forbidden passion. If my stepfather finds out, he will kill me. My twin brother, my only blood relative in the world, has already begged me not to. But I can’t help myself. If it can’t be horses, it has to be this…

About the Author:4_4 AuthorPicM. Garzon rode horses professionally for ten years, until an injury prompted a career change. She returned to school and completed a BSc; then for good measure, an MBA. After several years of toiling as a business consultant, she turned to writing in a desperate bid to regain her sanity. A mom of two fabulous children, she lives in St Lazare, QC and considers herself extremely lucky to be a writer.

Website ~ Facebook

Buy the book at Amazon (also available on Kobo, NOOK, and iBooks).

Fly Away by Kristin Hannah – Spotlight and Giveaway

Leave a comment for a chance to win a paperback copy of Fly Away (US only)

4_3 kristen Fly Away Cover

As teenagers in the seventies, Tully Hart and Kate Mularky were inseparable. Tully, with her make-up and her halter tops, was the coolest girl in school. Kate, with her glasses and her high water jeans, was the geeky outsider. But chance and circumstance brought them together and through the decades they were devoted to each other. This was the story of Tully and Kate which began on a quiet street called Firefly Lane. Best friends forever.

But sometimes stories end, and we have to find a way to begin again.

Now, years later, Tully is a woman trying to deal with the loss of her best friend. She wants to fulfill her promise to Kate—to be there for Kate’s children, but it’s a promise she has no idea how to carry out. What does brash, lonely, ambitious Tully know about being part of a family?

Kate’s daughter, sixteen-year-old Marah Ryan, is as lost in her grief as Tully is…until she falls in love with a young man who makes her smile again and leads her into his dangerous, shadowy world.

Tully’s mother, Dorothy Hart, is an unstable woman who abandoned her child too many times in the past and ultimately broke her heart. Now, when Tully is in danger of losing everything and is more vulnerable and alone than she’s been since she put those rough childhood years behind her, Dorothy returns once more, desperate for another chance to be a good mother. But can she be trusted this time? To help her daughter, Dorothy must face her darkest fears and reveal the terrible secret in her past—only then can she become the mother her wounded daughter needs.

In Fly Away, tragedy will bring these three women together and set them on a poignant, powerful journey of redemption. Each has lost her way and they will need each other—and maybe a miracle—to transform their lives…

Enjoy this excerpt:

September 2, 2010
10:14 pm
She felt a little woozy. It was nice, like being wrapped in a warm-from-the-dryer blanket. But when she came to, and saw where she was, it wasn’t so nice.

She was sitting on a closed toilet seat in a restroom stall, slumped over, with tears drying on her cheeks. How long had she been here? She got slowly to her feet and left the bathroom, pushing her way through the theater’s crowded lobby, ignoring the judgmental looks cast her way by the beautiful people drinking champagne beneath a glittering, nineteenth century chandelier. The movie must be over.

Outside, she kicked her ridiculous patent leather pumps into the shadows. In her expensive black nylons, she walked in the spitting rain down the dirty Seattle sidewalk toward home.

A bright pink Martini Bar sign caught her attention. A few people were clustered together outside the front door, smoking and talking beneath a protective overhang.

Even as she vowed to pass by, she found herself turning, reaching for the door, going inside. She slipped into the dark, crowded interior and headed straight for the long, mahogany bar.

“What can I get for you?” asked a thin, artsy-looking man with hair the color of a tangerine and more hardware on his face than Sears carried in the nuts and bolts aisle.

“Tequila straight shot,” she said.

She drank the first shot and ordered another. The loud music comforted her. She drank another straight shot and swayed to the beat. All around her people were talking and laughing. It felt a little like she was part of all that activity.

A man in an expensive Italian suit sidled up beside her. He was tall and obviously fit, with blond hair that had been carefully cut and styled. Banker, probably, or corporate lawyer. Too young for her, of course. He couldn’t be much past thirty-five. How long was he there, trolling for a date, looking for the best looking woman in the room? One drink, two?

Finally, he turned to her. She could tell by the look in his eyes that he knew who she was and that small recognition seduced her. “Can I buy you a drink?”

“I don’t know. Can you?” Was she slurring her words? That wasn’t good. And she couldn’t think clearly.

His gaze moved from her face, down to her breasts, and then back to her face. It was a look that stripped past any pretense. “I’d say a drink at the very least.”

“I don’t usually pick up strangers,” she lied. Lately, there were only strangers in her life. Everyone else, everyone who mattered, had forgotten about her. She could really feel that Xanax kicking in now, or was it the tequila?

He touched her chin, a jawline caress that made her shiver. The boldness of it, just touching her; no one did that anymore. “I’m Troy,” he said.

She looked up into his blue eyes and felt the bone crushing weight of her loneliness. When was the last time a man had wanted her? She couldn’t even remember.

“I’m Tully Hart,” she said.

“I know.”

He kissed her. He tasted sweet, of some kind of liquor, and of cigarettes. Or maybe pot. She wanted to lose herself in pure physical sensation, to dissolve like a bit of candy.

She wanted to forget everything that had gone wrong with her life, and how it was that she’d ended up in a place like this, alone in a sea of strangers.

“Kiss me again,” she said, hating the pathetic pleading she heard in her voice. It was how she’d sounded as a child, back when she’d been a little girl with her nose pressed to the window, waiting for her mother to return. What’s wrong with me? that little girl had asked anyone who would listen, but there had never been an answer. Tully reached out for him, pulling him close, but even as he kissed her and pressed his body into hers, she felt herself starting to cry, and when her tears started, there was no way to hold them back.
September 3, 2010
2:01 am
Tully was the last person to leave the bar. The doors banged shut behind her; the neon sign hissed and clicked off. It was past two now; the Seattle streets were empty. Hushed.

Traffic made the pavement hum beneath her bare feet. She made her way down the slick sidewalk, a little unsteady on her feet. A man had kissed her – a stranger – and she’d started to cry.

Pathetic. No wonder he’d backed away.

Rain pelted her, almost overwhelmed her. She thought about stopping, tilting her head back and drinking it in until she drowned.

That would be good. Drowning.

It seemed to take hours to get home. At her condominium building, she pushed past the doorman without making eye contact.

In the elevator, she saw herself in the wall of mirrors.

Oh, God.

She looked terrible. Her auburn hair – in need of coloring – was a bird’s nest, mascara ran like war paint down her cheeks.

The elevator doors opened and she stepped out into the hallway. Her balance was so off it took four tries to get her key into the lock. By the time she opened the door, she was dizzy and her headache had roared back to life.

Somewhere between the dining room and the living room, she banged into a chrome side table and almost fell. Only a last minute Hail Mary grab for the sofa saved her. She sank onto the thick, down filled white cushion with a sigh. The table in front of her was piled high with mail. Bills and magazines. Junk mail.

She slumped back and closed her eyes, thinking what a mess her life had become.

“Damn you, Katie Ryan,” she whispered to the best friend who wasn’t there. This loneliness was unbearable. But her best friend was gone. Dead. That was what had started all of it. Losing Kate. How pitiful was that? Tully had begun to plummet at her best friend’s death and she hadn’t been able to pull out of the dive. “I need you.” Then she screamed it: “I need you!”


She let her head fall forward. Did she fall asleep? Maybe…

When she opened her eyes again, she stared, bleary-eyed, at the pile of mail on her coffee table. A Star magazine lay on top – a small, business card size photograph of her was in the upper right corner. Beneath her name was a single, terrible word.


She reached forward, grabbed the magazine. It was a small story; not even a full page.

The Real Story behind the rumors.

Aging isn’t easy for any woman in the public eye, but it may be proving especially difficult for Tully Hart, the ex-star of the once phenom talk show The Girlfriend Hour. Ms. Hart’s goddaughter, Marah Ryan, contacted Star exclusively. Ms. Ryan, 20, confirms that the fifty-year-old Hart has been struggling lately with demons she’s had all her life. In recent months, Hart has “gained an alarming amount of weight” and been abusing drugs and alcohol, according to Ms. Ryan–


The betrayal hurt so badly she couldn’t breathe. She read the rest of the story and then let the magazine slide to the floor.

The pain she’d been holding at bay for months, years, roared to life, sucking her into the bleakest, loneliest place she’d ever been. For the first time, she couldn’t even imagine crawling out of this pit.

She staggered to her feet, her vision blurred by tears, and reached for her car keys. She couldn’t live like this anymore.

Copyright @ Kristin Hannah 2013

About the Author: 4_3 kristen Hannah_72dpi (2)KRISTIN HANNAH is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty-one novels. A former lawyer turned writer, she is the mother of one son and lives with her husband in the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii. Visit her at or on Facebook.

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#LastTimeISawYou @EleanorKMoran @QuercusUSA Giveaway

4_2 Final Blog Tour 2[9]

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Quercus Publishing. Leave a comment for a chance to win a print copy of the book.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

I often indulge writer’s block in the first half of a book. I start wondering why anyone ever paid me for a book, stuffing chocolate, watching The Good Wife on playback and feeling desperately guilty.

Then I realize how soon it is I have to deliver, and it’s like Clarke Kent going into the phone booth. I write like a maniac, 1000 words a day, 6 days a week, and then, miraculously there’s a draft.

There are a couple of things I do when I’m groaning about finding the muse. Alexandra Solokoff has a great blog and e-book about writing, Screenwriting Tips for Authors, and I find her incredibly concise and focusing. She recommends thinking about the characters who haunt you, and why they haunt you. This often makes me go back to books I love, like The Time Traveler Wife or The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing, to connect with wonderfully written, complex characters.

What is the most embarrassing thing your mother ever did to you?

My mum always dressed me in thrift store clothes, long before vintage became slang for cool. I was the schoolgirl fashion forgot. She’d also turn up to school in T-shirts saying things like “Nuclear Power No Thanks” and I’d cringe! I love her dearly.

What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?

Quite how many self help books I’ve read? I love uber coach Martha Beck’s work. I adore Brene Brown, her Ted talk on The Power of Vulnerability was a game changer for me. Tosha Silver, a crazy, brilliant astrologer lady in San Francisco. If I lived in the US again (I lived briefly in LA) I’d never get any work done!

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?

I spoke to a US cop about the protocol around suspected vehicular suicide and exhuming bodies for this book. I felt quite creeped out! I’m also a TV drama executive, and I’ve sat in on a murder trial for a legal show I made, Lawless. Seeing the accused in the dock gave me nightmares.

If you were stranded on a desert island and were only allowed to have five modern conveniences with you, what would they be?

my Ipad – if I could have my Entertainment Weekly app I’d be happy. It’s like my 5th limb. I’d have to have a kettle – I drink way too much tea. Am I allowed a phone? These are BORING! A bookshelf full of books I love – Rebecca, Eat, Pray, Love. A fridge, so I could have a cool glass of white wine.

4_2 LastTime_jacket_spot uv copyWhen Olivia Berrington gets the call to tell her that her best friend from college has been killed in a car crash in New York, her life is turned upside down. Her relationship with Sally was an exhilarating roller coaster, until a shocking betrayal drove them apart. But if Sally really had turned her back, why is her little girl named after Olivia?

As questions mount about the fatal accident, Olivia is forced to go back and unravel their tangled history. But as Sally’s secrets start to spill out, Olivia’s left asking herself if the past is best kept buried.

About the Author:Eleanor Moran, photographed by Charlie Hopkinson.Eleanor Moran is the author of three previous novels: Stick or Twist, Mr Almost Right and Breakfast in Bed, which is currently being developed for television. Eleanor also works as a television drama executive and her TV credits includeRome, MI5, Spooks, Being Human and a biopic of Enid Blyton, Enid, starring Helena Bonham Carter. Eleanor grew up in North London, where she still lives.

Social Media Links:
Twitter: @EleanorKMoran
Eleanor Moran’s Website: