The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray

I’m thrilled to be part of this reveal, but before I show you the beautiful cover for The Women of Chateau Lafayette, I’d like to share this …

Q&A WITH STEPHANIE DRAY

What made you fall in love with Adrienne Lafayette and why do you think readers will fall for her as you did?

Thanks to a popular musical, the Marquis de Lafayette is known to a new generation as “America’s Favorite Fighting Frenchman”–and there’s good reason for that. He’s easily the most lovable of our Founding Fathers, and his wife, whom he called his dear heart, is just as lovable if not more so. Adrienne was our French Founding Mother, so right up my alley as a heroine, but at first I worried she was too sweet, devoted, and forgiving. In short, too gentle for a novel. Little did I realize that more than any other historical heroine I’ve ever written, Adrienne fought and sacrificed for her principles, courageously threw herself into danger, confronted tyrants, and endured trials that would have broken lesser mortals. She truly humbles me, and when I talk about the Lafayette legacy, I think of it as every bit as much hers as it is his.

How long did it take you to write this book? Did the story evolve as you researched, or did you always know you wanted to take on the lives of these particular women?

I was always interested in Lafayette–an interest that grew as Laura Kamoie and I co-authored America’s First Daughter and My Dear Hamilton. I think I had the germ of the idea for a Lafayette novel at least seven years ago, but I had other projects in the way. And I was always in search of an angle that would be fresh and unique. That came to me when I discovered that Lafayette’s castle in Auvergne, which had been purchased and renovated by Americans, served to shelter Jewish children from the Nazis. Knowing how deeply the Lafayettes both felt about religious freedom, I knew this would have pleased them, and it touched me. I was then determined to know which Americans had purchased the chateau, and when I found out, yet another glorious chapter in the Lafayette legacy was born. That’s when the story took shape for me about one special place on this earth where, generation after generation, faith has been kept with principles of liberty and humanity. I find that very inspirational, now more than ever.

The book is centered around Lafayette’s castle, the Château de Chavaniac, and the pivotal role it played during three of history’s darkest hours—the French Revolution and both World Wars. If you could have dinner with any three people (dead or alive) at Chavaniac, who would you choose and why?

Believe it or not, this is actually a difficult choice because so many incredible men and women passed through those doors. I’d have to start with the Lafayettes–though I hope they would not serve me pigeons, which were a favorite at their wedding banquet. To join us for dinner, I’d choose the colorful stage-star of the Belle Epoque, Beatrice Chanler, because she was a force of nature without whom Chavaniac might not still be standing. Actress, artist, philanthropist, decorated war-relief worker and so-called Queen of the Social Register, she was as mysterious as she was wonderful, and even after all the startling discoveries I made researching her larger-than-life existence, I have a million questions about the early life she tried so hard to hide. I can’t wait for readers to meet her!

ABOUT THE BOOK

An epic saga from New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Dray based on the true story of an extraordinary castle in the heart of France and the remarkable women bound by its legacy in three of humanity’s darkest hours.

Most castles are protected by powerful men. This one by women…

A founding mother…

1774. Gently-bred noblewoman Adrienne Lafayette becomes her husband’s political partner in the fight for American independence. But when their idealism sparks revolution in France and the guillotine threatens everything she holds dear, Adrienne must choose to renounce the complicated man she loves, or risk her life for a legacy that will inspire generations to come.

A daring visionary…

1914. Glittering New York socialite Beatrice Astor Chanler is a force of nature, daunted by nothing–not her humble beginnings, her crumbling marriage, or the outbreak of war. But after witnessing the devastation in France and delivering war-relief over dangerous seas, Beatrice takes on the challenge of a lifetime: convincing America to fight for what’s right.

A reluctant resistor…

1940. French school-teacher and aspiring artist Marthe Simone has an orphan’s self-reliance and wants nothing to do with war. But as the realities of Nazi occupation transform her life in the isolated castle where she came of age, she makes a discovery that calls into question who she is, and more importantly, who she is willing to become.

Intricately woven and beautifully told, The Women of Chateau Lafayette is a sweeping novel about duty and hope, love and courage, and the strength we find from standing together in honor of those who came before us.

And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for! I give you the cover…

The Women of Chateau Lafayette

You can pre-order at https://bit.ly/3iLkURa

Add The Women of Chateau Lafayette to your Goodreads list here.

Sign up for Stephanie’s newsletter here.

You can enter for a chance to win an advanced digital review copy of the book here: https://bit.ly/SDCoverSweeps. (NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. US Residents, 18+. Ends 7/19. See official rules at the official website.)

 

June 26, 2020 ~ Take Your Dog to Work Day!

If it’s June 26, 2020, it must take your dog to work day!

Under ‘normal’ circumstances on a Friday, I would be working from home.  Since we went under lock-down in my area in late March, things have been far from the norm.

This year the last Friday in June, which falls on June 26, I’ve booked the day off as a vacation day (I have my doubts I’ll use all of my allotted vacation time before the end of the year). However; I’ll still be working in a sense.

This afternoon, I’m doing a reading from one of my adult (not that kind of adult material for you people with dirty minds – and even if it were, I would choose a PG13 rated passage) novels for Seniors Centre Without Walls. Best of all, the only requirement is I have a phone. A conference call is the order of the day. I like that even better.

So what does this have to do with taking your dog to work today? Well, nothing really, except I am taking my sweet Buddy with me when I do the reading. He can sit in my lap whilst I read and answer questions. At least I hope there are questions from the virtual audience.

Here’s my sweet boy. He travels well – doesn’t trash hotel rooms, bark a lot or have accidents indoors – home or away. This picture was taken at St. Hubert in Quebec City.

On days I’m working from home, he’s usually in the kitchen with me. Sometimes he wears my phone headset but as cute as he is, he’s rubbish at taking my calls.

My Buddy even has his own book. Well, in that I wrote it and he and his four fantastic furry friends star in it.

Here he is on a work at home day.

June 26

 

And the survey says …

The big day has finally arrived. It’s time to find out what the survey says.
survey

Which of my books received an award in the 2020 Author Shout Reader Ready awards?

Was it It Happened on Dufferin Terrace?

survey

Miracle on 34th Street meets Sleepless in Seattle…

Toronto business consultant, Serenity Layne, knew the only person she could depend on was herself. Busy with her career, she has no time for other pursuits and life’s intangibles

Widowed for three years, Roger Scott, a data security specialist in Quebec City, is a single parent to his ten-year-old son, Adam.

On a day out on the Plains of Abraham with their black Labrador Retriever, Roger’s cell phone rings incessantly. Adam has played matchmaker and put his father’s profile on a number of online dating sites.

The week before Christmas, Serenity is heading up a series of meetings after a six-month study of the Canadian retail chain, jonathans. After an unpleasant encounter with one of the store managers, she escapes from the boardroom of the Château Frontenac Hotel, only to be bowled over by Roger and Adam’s dog.

Guilty over the accident, Roger invites Serenity out for a drink by way of apology. Over the course of the week, and spending time together, feelings long dormant for Roger are re-awakened. At the same time, emotions foreign to Serenity fill her with contentment and happiness.

Will the couple get their happily ever after?

Or was it It Happened in Gastown?

survey

Trainspotting meets Hot Pursuit

Hilary Dunbar is a uniformed constable with the Vancouver Police with an agenda to rid the streets of drugs, especially the bad ones the notorious dealer, Carlos Navarra, is trafficking.

Heroin addict, Erik Layne, has lived on the streets of Gastown for as long as he can remember, having left home and Toronto as a rebellious teenage addict. His and Hilary’s paths cross when she finds him unconscious in an alley after injecting a batch of the contaminated drug. He must fight for his life to keep from dying, not only from the tainted smack but also from the man who provided it.

A domestic disturbance call goes wrong, and Hilary suffers life-changing injuries as a result. As luck would have it, she and Erik are hospitalized in the same ward at Vancouver General Hospital. When she sinks into a deep depression, it’s he who pulls her out of her doldrums.

But will Hilary’s obsession with bringing down Navarra and others like him destroy their relationship and, more importantly, jeopardize their lives?

Or did they both receive an award?

Drum roll, please …

Image by succo from Pixabay

 

And the survey says!!!

I received the ‘official notification’ at 11:11 a.m. Of course, the 15th would fall on a day that I’m working in the office rather than from home. When I’m at home, I don’t have to maintain a sense of decorum like I do at work.

Well, without further ado, let me shout it from the rooftops that both It Happened on Dufferin Terrace and It Happened in Gastown won the “Recommended Read” award for 2020!

Whoop!!!

While this isn’t my official badge yet, I did take the liberty of using my handy-dandy snipping tool and extract it from the header of all the badges in a previous blog post.

Yippie!!! I’m happy dancing in my chair and shouting (under my breath) from the rooftops!

 

It’s almost time for the Author Shout Reader Ready winners to be announced!

June 15th is only a few short days away. It’s almost time for the announcement of the 2020 Author Shout Reader Ready Awards.

I’m both excited and nervous. The two books I entered have made it this far. Will they have what it takes to be a winner? I sure hope so.

Both books were fun to write. Old Quebec City, where It Happened on Dufferin Terrace is set, is one of my favourite cities in Canada to visit and until this year, have done so regularly. I’m not sure if a visit this coming November will happen or not. It will be a waiting game, thanks to COVID-19.

time

Ah, the majestic Hotel Chateau Frontenac. It’s such an impressive structure any time, but especially when viewed from across the river. The huge castle-like building stands guard over the city from atop the cliff.

Remember the movie Miracle on 34th street, where Doris had lost faith in the world and brought her daughter up, not believing in fantasies? That’s where I got the inspiration for my character, Serenity.

Roger, a widowed father with a precocious son, came to me through the film Sleepless in Seattle.

The other book, It Happened in Gastown, set in one of the older neighbourhoods of Vancouver, in particular, was researched thanks to Google maps. I did cross an item off my bucket list when I went there in 2019 to ensure what I had written was accurate. Four days on the train to the fair city, four days there and four back.

time

Google is a fantastic resource, but you don’t get the full effect looking at a city virtually. I’m glad I went. I loved the train trip (a bonus). As far as neighbourhoods go, I was spot on. 🙂

The steam clock on Water Street in Gastown, Vancouver was the impetus for the second book in the series. I first saw it on info breaks on Knowledge Network between programs and watching the CBC television series, DaVinci’s Inquest.

Stay tuned. As soon as the results are received, I’ll be shouting from the rooftops, or sobbing in a corner. Let’s hope I’m shouting.

 

 

Not only one book, but two!

It’s the 2020 Author Shout Reader Ready Awards so I entered not only one book, but two!

After success with my novel, YESTERDAY TODAY ALWAYS, in the 2019 Author Shout Reader Ready awards, I decided to enter the contest again. For a mere five dollars more, I could enter not only one book but two. So, I did.

Look at all those pretty badges. This year an additional one has been added – the Editor’s Choice. One of these would look great on either book but finding a location where said badge won’t cover something important could be a challenge.

Not only one book

I decided to enter the two published novels in my It Happened series. Both had previously won Chill with a Book awards so I thought they would be the best choices for this contest. Also, sweet romances are supposed to be a hot commodity this year according to the various analytics reports I’ve seen.

On May 15th, I received a generic email stating, “Your book(s) have been selected to proceed to the next round of the 2020 Author Shout Reader Ready Awards.” As no feedback report accompanied this email, I naturally assumed both books so promptly sent off the two Mobi files.

Although no feedback reports have been received, I did get confirmation that both novels did indeed make it to the next round!

The next important date in the contest is June 15th. That’s when the winners are announced. Be sure to save the date. Mind you, I’ll be shouting it from the rooftops if either book receives an award and will be over the moon if they both do.

Not only one book

Here are refreshers on the two (thus far) books in the It Happened series.

Miracle on 34th Street meets Sleepless in Seattle…

Not only one book

Toronto business consultant, Serenity Layne, knew the only person she could depend on was herself. Busy with her career, she has no time for other pursuits and life’s intangibles

Widowed for three years, Roger Scott, a data security specialist in Quebec City, is a single parent to his ten-year-old son, Adam.

On a day out on the Plains of Abraham with their black Labrador Retriever, Roger’s cell phone rings incessantly. Adam has played matchmaker and put his father’s profile on a number of online dating sites.

The week before Christmas, Serenity is heading up a series of meetings after a six-month study of the Canadian retail chain, jonathans. After an unpleasant encounter with one of the store managers, she escapes from the boardroom of the Château Frontenac Hotel, only to be bowled over by Roger and Adam’s dog.

Guilty over the accident, Roger invites Serenity out for a drink by way of apology. Over the course of the week, and spending time together, feelings long dormant for Roger are re-awakened. At the same time, emotions foreign to Serenity fill her with contentment and happiness.

Will the couple get their happily ever after?

BUY LINKS

amazon

kobo

and

Trainspotting meets Hot Pursuit

Not only one book

Hilary Dunbar is a uniformed constable with the Vancouver Police with an agenda to rid the streets of drugs, especially the bad ones the notorious dealer, Carlos Navarra, is trafficking.

Heroin addict, Erik Layne, has lived on the streets of Gastown for as long as he can remember, having left home and Toronto as a rebellious teenage addict. His and Hilary’s paths cross when she finds him unconscious in an alley after injecting a batch of the contaminated drug. He must fight for his life to keep from dying, not only from the tainted smack but also from the man who provided it.

A domestic disturbance call goes wrong, and Hilary suffers life-changing injuries as a result. As luck would have it, she and Erik are hospitalized in the same ward at Vancouver General Hospital. When she sinks into a deep depression, it’s he who pulls her out of her doldrums.

But will Hilary’s obsession with bringing down Navarra and others like him destroy their relationship and, more importantly, jeopardize their lives?

Buy Links

Kindle

Kobo

 

 

Another 5-star review for All Aboard the Canadian with Buddy and his Four Fantastic Furry Friends!

Another 5-star review!

another 5-star review

So thrilled that All Aboard the Canadian with Buddy and his four Fantastic Furry Friends! has received another 5-star review!

The illustrated book geared for children revolves around an unusual set of friendships.

Blurb

Can five completely different animals become friends?

Meet two dogs who befriend a moose on the train from Vancouver to Toronto. Along the way, a black bear and a grizzly join them.

Will the group overcome their differences and discover that deep down they’re all the same?

Review

All Aboard the Canadian with Buddy and his Four Fantastic Furry Friends! by Melanie Robertson-King, is a wonderfully written children’s book about getting along with others, even if they’re different from each other. As an animal lover and someone born with a difference, I enjoyed reading about the friendships that developed amongst these four different kinds of animals. They were able to overlook their outside differences to see their similarities inside, where it counts. This is an important concept for children to learn —it’s what’s inside that matters. I highly recommend this book for parents to read to their children as a precursor to discussing the importance of acceptance of those who do not necessarily fit the norm. Plus it’s just a fun story! Shawn Simon 

Buy Links

All Aboard the Canadian with Buddy and his Four Fantastic Furry Friends! is now available for the kindle and for the kobo.

If you’re interested in obtaining a print copy, email me for details at
melanie@melanierobertson-king.com

In these uncertain times, stay safe and healthy.

 

Stepping into a new role: Stories from Stepmoms #review

Becoming a stepmom is like walking into a minefield. One wrong move and everything could explode. Stepping into a New Role: Stories from Stepmoms explores the situation in stories by women who have navigated the stormy seas of stepmothering.

Stories from Stepmoms

Stories from Stepmoms

Book Blurb:

Author Shawn Simon thought being a stepmom would be easy until her stepdaughter spit on her dog. That’s when she knew a long road lay ahead. So she decided to make it her mission to meet other stepmoms and hear their stories. Once she did, she felt supported and no longer alone, and she decided to write a book. This collection of stories from stepmoms contains tales of inspiration, triumph, tribulations, and joys of being a stepmom. It’s like a stepmom support group in writing.

My Review:

Would you want to walk into the minefield of stepmothering without some kind of guide to help you? Not clinical but from people who have been there.

Author, Shawn Simon, shares her voyage into uncharted waters and when she couldn’t find a self-help book out there set out to write her own. She interviewed other women who found themselves in the same situation and I’m sure speaking out about their experiences was cathartic for them.

The book is well-written. I breezed through it in a couple of days (life and day job interrupted me). Some of the stories were heartbreaking while others were amusing. Overall it was an enjoyable read.

I highly recommend it for any woman who is about to take on the role of stepmom.

About the author:

Stories from Stepmoms

Shawn Simon, MA, is a Board Certified Educational Therapist who works with children. Therefore, when she met the man of her dreams, who just happened to come with a couple of kids, she thought being a stepmom would be a breeze. She was wrong. However, as someone born with only one arm, she’s learned to overcome obstacles. Thus, she knew she could face the challenges of step-mothering. Shawn is published in the Association of Educational Therapists’ Journal and is an award-winning inspirational speaker in her field. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two step-kids, two rescue dogs, and one sixteen-year-old cat. Shawn is currently at work on more books for stepfamilies.

You can follow Shawn on:

Facebook: Stepmom Shawn Simon Says 
Twitter: @shawnsimon44
 

And you can buy her book here:

An April Chill with a Book Readers’ Award goes to …

Drum roll, please …

Every month, a number of books are selected by the discerning panel at Chill with a Book for an award. Not every book receives one, but when you do, it’s extra special because you must meet the following criteria win.

Were the characters strong and engaging?

Was the book well written?

Did the story/plot have you turning the page to find out what happened next?

Was the ending satisfying?

Would you recommend to someone who reads this kind of story?

Chill with a Book
Image by succo from Pixabay

It Happened in Gastown!
Chill with a Book

Doesn’t the cover look fabulous with the award emblazoned on it?

Chill with a Book

So what’s the book about, you ask?

Blurb

Trainspotting meets Hot Pursuit

Heroin addict, Erik Layne, has lived on the streets of Gastown for as long as he can remember, having left home and Toronto as a rebellious teenage addict. His and Hilary’s paths cross when she finds him unconscious in an alley after injecting a batch of the contaminated drug. He must fight for his life to keep from dying, not only from the tainted smack but also from the man who provided it.

A domestic disturbance call goes wrong, and Hilary suffers life-changing injuries as a result. As luck would have it, she and Erik are hospitalized in the same ward at Vancouver General Hospital. When she sinks into a deep depression, it’s he who pulls her out of her doldrums.

But will Hilary’s obsession with bringing down Navarra and others like him destroy their relationship and, more importantly, jeopardize their lives?

Buy Links

Kindle

Kobo

And because I won a Chill with a Book Readers’ Award in April, I’m automatically entered in the cover of the month award, too.  Wish me luck!

Right now, we all need some escapism and what better place than into an award-winning book.

 

 

Shawn Simon talks about her debut book Stories from Stepmoms!

It’s my great pleasure to welcome Shawn Simon, debut author with 4RV Publishing to visit here today. Make yourself comfortable, Shawn, and we’ll get down to business.

First of all, let’s have a look at the cover of your book.

Shawn Simon

Book Blurb:
Author Shawn Simon thought being a stepmom would be easy until her stepdaughter spit on her dog. That’s when she knew a long road lay ahead. So she decided to make it her mission to meet other stepmoms and hear their stories. Once she did, she felt supported and no longer alone, and she decided to write a book. This collection of stories from stepmoms contains tales of inspiration, triumph, tribulations, and joys of being a stepmom. It’s like a stepmom support group in writing.

Can you tell us something about yourself that isn’t included in your author bio?

Yes, in addition to my step-parenting books, I’m also working on a book about differences. I was born with one arm, so I know what it’s like to feel odd and left out. From working with kids with learning differences, I realized their stories are similar to mine. This prompted me to include all kinds of differences in this book, which will be a similar style to my stepmom book. It will include my stories as well as the stories from the people I interviewed. My goal is to shed light on people identified as different in the hopes of helping the world see we are more alike than we realize.

What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome?

In terms of writing, I think it’s believing in myself as a writer and believing that I have something worthwhile to share with the world. I’ve always been a helping kind of person, wanting to encourage others to see their worth. My hope is for my books to be like support groups in writing.

Without going into too much detail, what was one of the most difficult challenges in your stepmom journey?

Feeling connected to my stepkids and dealing with their mother. Those two areas caused me the most distress and ultimately prompted me to write my book.

How long (or has it happened yet) did it take for you to feel completely accepted by your stepchildren?

I feel connected and close to both my stepkids now. My stepson and I have always gotten along and have always butted heads. We are a lot alike, in both good and not so good ways. But my stepdaughter had a harder time connecting with me. She ran hot and cold for the first five years or so of our relationship. Now, I’m happy to say; I am her go-to person when she needs advice or help.

About the author:

Shawn Simon

Shawn Simon, MA, is a Board Certified Educational Therapist who works with children. Therefore, when she met the man of her dreams, who just happened to come with a couple of kids, she thought being a stepmom would be a breeze. She was wrong. However, as someone born with only one arm, she’s learned to overcome obstacles. Thus, she knew she could face the challenges of step-mothering. Shawn is published in the Association of Educational Therapists’ Journal and is an award-winning inspirational speaker in her field. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two step-kids, two rescue dogs, and one sixteen-year-old cat. Shawn is currently at work on more books for stepfamilies.

You can follow Shawn on:

Facebook: Stepmom Shawn Simon Says 
Twitter: @shawnsimon44
 

And you can buy her book here:

Irish traditions ~ St Patrick’s Day!

Irish traditions

 

Aye, Irish traditions, folklore and myths. Who else could spin a yarn about finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? Let’s not forget those mischevious leprechauns, too.

And the movie Waking Ned Devine takes place in Ireland. Only in the movies could that convoluted a plan to claim the lottery winnings happen. My favourite part of the movie (apart from watching Jackie and Michael tearing around the countryside on a motorcycle in their birthday suits) was the beautiful scenery of the country.

The Quiet Man starring Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne also takes place in Ireland. This is one of the few John Wayne movies I like.

I’ve schmoozed with Royalty having met Princess Anne but we never had the opportunity to chat about our favourite tipple – mostly our families and my connection to the place where we met. However, I do have one thing in common with former President Obama and his First Lady – Guinness! Although, I find it doesn’t taste as good here as there. Maybe because it’s too chilled in my part of the world? Dunno.

Irish
By Pete Souza (Executive Office of the President of the United States) (White House Flickr) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
There is an art to pulling the perfect pint and it looks like the First Lady has mastered it, even under extremely close scrutiny…

More modern Irish traditions include drinking green beer on March 17th. I’ve seen pictures of it and while it looks good, it’s not my choice of colour for beer. I’ll stick with Guinness or an Irish amber – Kilkenny Cream Ale.

No wonder people look ‘green’ the day after St Patrick’s Day after consuming copious amounts of green beer. And we’ve not even touched on the whiskies.

Irish traditions
Cafeirlandais at en.wikipedia / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)

How about a tune suitable to the occasion when many of your have partaken in copious amounts of green beer and/or Irish Whisky.

Enjoy your St Patrick’s Day no matter how you celebrate (or if you celebrate).

I’ll close this post with the Irish proverb…

May your glass be ever full.
May the roof over your head be always strong.
And may you be in heaven
half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.

My Scottish roots and writing by Melanie Robertson-King