During recent visits, I have often found the city of Berkeley to be a garden on a hill, lush in its vegetation and breathtaking in its panoramas. In the stunning hill neighborhoods, redwoods soar from a neighbor’s yard as the eye feasts on tangled beach roses. Meanwhile, west beyond the flatlands and the bay, the blinding evening sun drops through the Golden Gate. A glass of wine in such a place is unlike a glass of wine anywhere else. The senses revel and rebel, and so do we.
When I wrote Playground Zero, a coming-of-age novel set in Berkeley during the counterculture movement of the 1960s, I wanted to convey something of the city’s splendor, along with the anarchy of those years. I wanted a backdrop that would contrast with the story of Alice Rayson, a girl growing up under fraying social norms, as large numbers of people sought to jettison the past. The lush landscape would serve to counterbalance unsettling aspects of Alice’s story, offsetting them—not only for the reader, but also for myself during the long process of producing a novel. More ambiguously, I hoped to shine the city’s light on some of the forgotten corners of those countercultural years. After all, contrast creates meaning.
Hello. I would first and foremost like to introduce myself. My name is Eve Corso and I am the author of six books in print, all contemporary romances. I have two series. The first is the Esteban & Marialena series, which contains 3 books, and the second is a Matter of Timing series, which is a 2-part series. I also have a stand-alone book called You & Me in Washington, D.C. which is loosely based on the time when I lived on the East coast.
The question has been raised to me. How has this pandemic affected my writing? You know, I think like the pandemic itself, I find myself with ups and downs during this time. I think at the beginning, there was a different kind of energy surrounding me. I thought to myself, finally, I have all this time now to write. Then, I was looking at something like two weeks being off. What I didn’t know was how long this was going to last. And the longer it’s lasting, the more my writing has fallen to the wayside. It’s not from a lack of wanting or trying. It’s mostly that I don’t feel creative as a writer right now. When I look back at my words these past few weeks, none of it excites me, and I might have to go back and scrap it all when I figure out how I want to re-write it.
Ali: Raylene I love your blog and the gallery element is fantastic. Tell me a little about Booknook Reviews. Raylene: Thank you, Ali. That means a lot! Booknook Reviews features reviews on some of the sexiest books found in the romance genre. My aim is to unite bookworms while supporting new a d established authors.
Ali: Bloggers have such a difficult job managing and gathering content. What do you most love to post on your blog? Raylene: I love posting trigger warnings so I can give other readers a heads up.
Ali: My guy suggested earlier that I am in book blogging because I’m a shameless hussy for free books. What inspired you to have a review blog? Raylene: 1) It was the draw of free books for me too. Hands down. Netgalley’s support articles suggested having a blog as a means to receive free books. 2) I needed something that was just mine. Not my husband’s or my son’s or my employer’s. Just mine.
I’ve always loved a good gothic mystery, and countless novels have inspired me. Everything from Jane Eyre to The Hound of the Baskervilles to Rebecca. Then there are the more horror-heavy gothic masterpieces including The Woman in Black, The Haunting of Hill House, The Turn of the Screw, and the sinister short stories of MR James (such as The Ash Tree). More recently I’ve been inspired by novels such as The Corset and The Silent Companions.
If you like any of these, then my novel Phantom Audition will be right up your street. It concerns widowed actress Mia Yardley, who investigates the mysterious suicide of her famous actor husband, Steven. Before his death, Steven took a film role playing famous abstract painter Edward Bingley, who also committed suicide in mysterious circumstances. When Mia discovers her husband only took roles based on consultations with a medium, she comes to suspect her husband may have buried himself in the role a little too much – to the point where supernatural forces could be involved.
Anneke: Fighting the Storm campaign is about putting a light on those invisible illnesses no one else talks or even thinks about.
Ashley: We really wanted to bring awareness to those suffering with an illness that you can’t see. There’s a stigma out there that in order to be sick or disabled it has to show. Whether it’s a wheelchair, walker, oxygen tank, etc.
Zamma: That’s what happens when you cry your eyes out for days after reading a book written by JLA! I just wanted to do something to show Jen that we’re not all dicks (Can I say dick?) Jen gets a lot of weird looks when she asked people for help because she can’t always see or read signs. When I read that in Storm and Fury’s acknowledgements I got angry and then sad. So I got this super crazy idea to help raise awareness for RP. Like Peanut said – I messaged her and asked her what she thought and she was all for it. Then Anneke joined and Izzy demanded that I should make her admin so she can invite people on her own instead of bothering the rest of us (So happy that we became friends Ash!) Ursula joined us later when Stony started to bother me a lot and I could not do all the admin stuff I wanted. Ursula is my bestie for 8 years now and she saved my butt by joining the admin team! Thanx girls for all your help! The campaign would have been a fail without all of you helping me!
Ursula: Fighting the Storm, was put together, to help raise awareness for invisible illnesses, more importantly RP, which our favorite Author suffers from.
Kristen: The Fighting the Storm Campaign is a campaign we started after the release of Storm and Fury and so many of us were touched by the MC Trinity who suffered with Retinitis Pigmentosa. Excuse the pun but it really opened a lot of our eyes to the world people like Jennifer live in. It was one thing to know that she had this disease but another to see it so well described in a book. So it started out with Zamma messaging me about spreading awareness for this illness that not many people are aware of and then later on to invisible illnesses. So this is our movement to spread awareness of the invisible and to show the world there is more to what just the eye can see and that behind every person struggling with a chronic invisible illness is a fighter and a very strong determined soul trying to survive. This is all under the banner of Fighting the Storm. It isn’t just that it relates to the book title but the deeper meaning behind this name chosen. Everything we know about this illness and other invisible illnesses, they are 100% without a doubt like fighting a storm, and through this campaign and raising awareness it is our way of head-on fighting that storm that tries to control us. We fight the storm while it fights with fury. But the one thing it didn’t count on were love and friendship and that is truly what helps us to continue fighting.
Room to Breathe is a story of two southern women at very different stages in their lives who are experiencing the same sense of “starting over.” Daphne Witt is weeks from turning forty, in a career that she never expected, and ready to start dating after a divorce. Her daughter Ellery is essentially untested in the world. Young, beautiful, accustomed to everything going her way, Ellery finds herself with a less than dazzling job, a distracted fiancé and, for the first time ever, doubts about who she is and where she’s going. When the novel begins, we find Daphne dealing with an awakened libido she thought long dead, and Ellery struggling to accept working for her mother and living with a fiancé who has little time for her. Both women redirect their dissatisfaction toward secret desires – Daphne for a much younger contractor, and Ellery for a secret email pal who thinks she’s her mother. Like the vines of a vineyard, things get tangled quickly by decisions that not only threaten the fragile mother-daughter relationship, but each woman’s future.
One thing I really like about Daphne is her self-awareness. She’s been content to stand in the wings while everyone else in her life commandeered the spotlight, but now she’s ready to take her turn on the stage. She’s bumbled into a dream she never knew existed as a children’s author, and she’s really good at what she does and becomes an overnight success. But her family, even her ex-husband, can’t seem to let go of the woman she once was. They want the old Daphne, the one who put everyone else before herself. I intentionally gave Daphne a secret crush on a younger man and had her pay attention to her sexuality. Women of a certain age are often set aside, as if their “ sexiness” has a shelf life. I wanted Daphne awakened to the fact that as a woman entering her forties, she still needed intimacy and affection. I wanted her to struggle with the guilt, be tempted, and have a little fun with someone…young enough to date her daughter.