Guest Post with Menna van Praag, author of The House at the End of Hope Street & Giveaway (US/Canada)
Today I have Menna van Praag, author of The House at the End of Hope Street releasing today here at the blog with a really terrific guest post for us to enjoy. This book sounds absolutely delightful and I can’t wait to delve into my copy plus I love the cover – it’s so pretty! It is being said that this novel will appeal to fans of Sarah Addison Allen and I’m a huge fan of hers so I’m anxious to see if I may just find myself another favorite author to enjoy. For now please enjoy Menna’s guest post entitled Life Lessons from Famous Women Who Went Before Us…
Being a writer can be a pretty lonely business. You spend so many hours inside your own head and, instead of chatting to colleagues during coffee breaks, you browse the internet or pace your office trying to solve the latest plot point problem. At least, I do. Once I’m deep into the first draft, the characters provide company and connection of sorts. But, of course, your relationship with them is rather one-sided. They might speak to you while you’re writing Perhaps it was this loneliness that led me to populate my new novel, The House at the End of Hope Street, with the spirits of late, great literary heroines.
As soon as I started researching these women: Daphne du Maurier, Virginia Woolf, George Elliot, Beatrix Potter, Sylvia Plath, Dorothy Parker, Doris Lessing, Agatha Christie . . . I stopped feeling lonely. Their spirits filled my writing room. I started hearing their voices in my head. They visited me with words of wisdom at random moments. I lived with them all for a few years and learned a lot.
It doesn’t matter that women a hundred years ago led such different lives from us, in so many ways, because our similarities are still much greater than our differences. When I was a young writer, just starting out on my journey, I didn’t know any other writers so I read the biographies and quotes of those I admired. Last year I became a mother for the first time and, needing to know how to balance motherhood and writing, I consulted my muses again. It was very enlightening. So much so that now I have a new writing project: 99 Days to Fulfill a Dream. Every day I pick an inspiring quote and write about how it can help you to fulfill any life dream you want to fulfill!
Ten Pearls of Wisdom from Ten Great Women
- “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” — Agatha Christie
Do one thing today that will take you closer to your dream. Write a line or two, for example. It doesn’t matter if it’s any good or not, the only thing that matters is that you do it.
- “Avoid looking forward or backward. Keep looking upward.” — Charlotte Brontë
Don’t think about what you haven’t yet done or how much you have yet to do. Stay in the moment. “Failures” of the past and fears of the future don’t exist – focus on your hopes and inspiration and forget everything else.
- “No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself.” — Virginia Woolf
Don’t add metaphorical glitter and bows in order to shine because you think what you’re doing isn’t enough. People fall in love with something when the heart that created it resonates with their own. You don’t need to dress up your heart.
- “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” — Sylvia Plath
Self-doubt is second-guessing the outside world. It’s assuming that you have to be better and/or different to succeed. But you don’t have to be Shakespeare/Picasso/Mozart/Meryl Streep in order to find your niche in the world. Do what you love and it’s very likely you’ll find others who love what you do.
- “Never complain, never explain.” — Dorothy Parker
While you’re travelling the bumpy road towards your dreams it takes discipline not to complain or explain yourself to others but it’s well worth it. Complaining undermines your passion. Explaining often diminishes your self-belief. To succeed you need all the passion and self-belief you can get!
- “Starting out to make money is the greatest mistake in life. Do what you feel you have a flair for doing and, if you are good enough at it, the money will come.” — Greer Garson
It’s the doing of a thing – not the results it brings – that makes you truly happy, that feeds your soul and sparks up your spirit. So, unless you’d do it anyway for free, don’t do it.
- “We’ve got to believe in our beautiful impossible blueprints.” — Doris Lessing
While pregnant I realised how crazy it is when we don’t believe in ourselves. Because, no matter how impossible your dreams may seem, it can’t come close to the apparent impossibility of creating life. Compared to that, publishing a novel – or whatever you dream of – is simplicity itself!
- “I feel very adventurous. There are so many doors to be opened, and I’m not afraid to look behind them.” — Elizabeth Taylor
Courage is the first thing. Without it nothing is possible. With it everything is possible. Things you can’t yet imagine. Being afraid leads to shrunken life, being fearless leads to a magnificent life.
- “Happiness is not a possession to be prized, it is a quality of thought, a state of mind.” — Daphne du Maurier
To be happy for no reason at all, to be happy with yourself just as you are, is essential. Don’t be fooled into thinking that, if you’re not happy now then fulfilling your dreams will suddenly bring you happiness. It doesn’t work like that.
- “Believe there is a great power silently working all things for good, behave yourself and never mind the rest.” — Beatrix Potter
Life is hard without faith, achieving your dreams even harder. During those dark nights of the soul, when it seems as though you’ll never succeed, you need a little faith to see you through. Without it, you’ll give up at the first hurdle. With it, you’ll be leaping over the last.
© 2013 Menna van Praag, author of The House at the End of Hope Street
About The House at the End of Hope Street
A magical novel about an enchanted house that offers refuge to women in their time of need
Knocked off-kilter by the Worst Event of Her Life, Alba Ashby finds herself in front of a house in Cambridge, England, that she’s never seen before. There, a beautiful older woman invites her to stay on the house’s usual conditions — she’ll have ninety-nine nights, and no more, to turn her life around. With nothing left to lose, Alba takes a chance and moves in.
She soon discovers that 11 Hope Street is no ordinary house. Past residents have included Virginia Woolf and Dorothy Parker, who have hung around to help newcomers — literally, in talking portraits on the wall. Here Alba begins a journey that will heal her wounds — and maybe even save her life.
The House at the End of Hope Street is a charming, whimsical novel of hope and feminine wisdom that is sure to appeal to fans of bestselling authors Jasper Fforde, Lev Grossman, and especially Sarah Addison Allen.
About the Author
Menna van Praag, author of The House at the End of Hope Street, is a freelance writer, journalist and Oxford graduate. She is also the author of Men, Money and Chocolate, an international success, already translated into twenty-six languages. She lives in Cambridge, England, with her husband and son.
GIVEAWAY DETAILS (US/Canada)
I have one copy of The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna van Praag to share with my readers. To enter…
- For 1 entry leave me a comment entering the giveaway.
- For 2 entries, follow my blog. If you already do let me know so I can pass the extra entry on to you as well.
- Tweet, like on Facebook, or Blog for 3 entries!
This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents (no PO boxes) and I will draw for the winner on Saturday, April 20/13. Good luck!
Let’s all welcome Suzi Davis, author of Sapphire Sun, which I reviewed yesterday (my review) on the blog to Peeking Between the Pages. I have enjoyed all the books in The Lost Magic Series: Amber Frost, Silver Dew, and Sapphire Sun and I’m hoping there will be at least one more. Suzi was nice enough to take the time to write up a guest post for us today entitled Just Fiction? …
I am often asked about the inspiration behind The Lost Magic series but it would actually be easier for me to answer with what didn’t inspire me than what did. These books are composites of all the different aspects of my life, dreams, experiences and my over-active imagination. There are certainly aspects of reality intertwined within the story but overall, it’s just my imagination – it’s just fiction. No one seems satisfied with this answer though.
A close friend once announced to me that it was obvious to her that Sebastian “is really” my husband. This made me giggle. It still makes me smile. I couldn’t imagine my husband saying or doing half the things Sebastian does, even though I love them both. But I must admit that the close bond I share with my hubbie (who I’ve been in a relationship with since I was 18!) has certainly influenced parts of The Lost Magic series. The characters in my books represent no one I know specifically and yet everyone I have ever met. There are fragments of myself and all my experiences in every single character in these books. But who “are” these characters in real life? They’re no one. It’s just fiction – right?
People sometimes have difficulty separating real actors from the characters that they play. In this way, I think many people also struggle to separate the real from the imagined in fiction. On some level, mustn’t we all believe that what we are reading might be real? Would we be able to buy into books the way that we do otherwise? The best books are the ones you find yourself emotionally invested in, the books that you dream about, the ones that you wish were real. Or at least, it’s that way for me.
I was once surprised when an acquaintance told me that he wouldn’t read my books because they went against his religious beliefs. Yes, I’m dropping the taboo “R-bomb” in this post but I think it’s an interesting discussion, so hear me out. We all have our different beliefs and I am by no means criticizing another person’s faith or conviction. I wasn’t disappointed in this person but I was surprised. Just because I have written a story about magic, reincarnation, spells, spirits and past lives, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I believe in all these things or that I expect my readers to. It’s fiction. BUT because I hope to have written good fiction, I also hope that my readers can believe these things exist in Gracelynn and Sebastian’s world. I want the possibilities to feel real within the story, inside the books. I want the characters to feel so life-like that people have to assume these characters exist somewhere in the real world. So really, I should be flattered when people assume that there’s more truth to my stories than there is. But, when it comes down to it, the characters and storylines are just fiction, as are some of the concepts and ideas. The emotions though, they can be real. And that is what I hope my readers will enjoy most about my books.
Thank you so much Suzi! For me stories are supposed to take me away to another place and time and that’s what I love about what you write because that’s exactly what your books do for me!
About Sapphire Sun
You can’t escape the past. You can try to forget but it never truly leaves you. It is a part of who are you are; it has shaped you, it will shape your future. It is the shadow behind you. You can’t outrun it, you can’t hide from it or deny it – the past will always exist. Who you once were is still a part of who you are today. This, I now understand.
My name is Gracelynn Stevenson. I tried to destroy The Lost Magic. I tried to erase the past. I tried to make things go back to the way that they once were. I failed. And now all the happiness I thought I had found, has been lost to the shadows…
About Suzi Davis
Let me tell you a bit about myself. I am a 28 year old British-born, Canadian writer and artist. I have a Bachelors Degree in Fine Arts, a certificate in Special Education Assistance and I am working towards a Masters degree in Educational Psychology. I live in a small town on Vancouver Island (in British Columbia) with my husband and 2 year old son.
I love and live to write. I’ve been writing stories and poetry for as long as I can remember but in recent years my focus has centered on writing Young Adult and Teen novels. This genre allows me to explore such high-interest subject matter as relationships between families, friends, young lovers and more. I have many fond memories of my own teenaged-years and love to delve back into that magical time when every experience is new, fresh, and emotionally charged. I have a specific love of detailing the dynamics of the relationships between my characters and exploring their emotional growth. I am also interested in writing about the supernatural; there is always an added element of magical fantasy to whatever tale I spin.
I feel that my trademark writing style lies within my realistic characters that take on a life of their own beyond the words written on each page. My artistic inclination is evident in the vivid descriptions I provide of the beautiful, natural settings (usually on the West Coast of Canada) in which my stories take place. I try to employ my wit, poetic sensibilities, and sense of humor in my writing to both entertain and intrigue readers, making my novels impossible to put down. My goal is to take readers on an exciting, emotional journey through fast-paced plots full of surprises, twists and turns.
I love to write – there’s nothing I’d rather do, and I think my passion for writing is evident in the high-quality, exciting and endearing stories that I tell. I hope you enjoy what you read and I encourage all of my readers to contact me with any and all opinions, reviews, questions and comments you may have. I find one of the greatest pleasures in writing is connecting with my audience. I will always read every comment I receive and will try my best to respond when and where I can!
GIVEAWAY DETAILS (US/Canada – eBooks of Complete Series or Paperback of 1st in Series)
You can either choose all three of the eBooks: Amber Frost, Silver Dew, and Sapphire Sun OR a paperback copy of the first in the series- Amber Frost if you if your name is chosen in this giveaway. To enter…
- For 1 entry leave me a comment entering the giveaway.
- For 2 entries, follow my blog. If you already do just let me know so I can pass the entry on to you as well.
- Tweet, Post on Facebook, or Blog for 3 entries.
This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents and I’ll draw for the winner on Saturday, March 16/13. Good luck!
Let’s welcome Jill Mansell, author of A Walk in the Park, to the blog today! I’m excited to have Jill here because she is my favorite British author and I adore her books! I just reviewed A Walk in the Park yesterday (my review) and it was another really great read from Jill. I can’t wait for her next book but luckily enough I still have quite a few on her backlist to catch up on! Today Jill joins us to talk about her Inspiration for A Walk in the Park…
Hello, and many thanks for inviting me to chatter away on your fab blog! Ah, inspiration and real life influences, it’s one of those great questions that are actually quite hard to answer because I’m never sure of the answer. Or rather, there isn’t a definitive one. Inspiration can strike anywhere and at any time, and it can come from the most unlikely places. I may use situations that have happened to me or to friends and family, but I would NEVER use those same people in my books. For a start, it would be wrong. Secondly, it would be incredibly hard work, trying to figure out how people I know would actually react to every single thing that was said or done to them.
The joy of fictional characters is that I’m in charge of them, I can make them say and do anything I like. All writers know that they spend their lives being accosted by acquaintances saying, “Are you going to put me in your next book?” and “The handsome guy in your last novel – was that me?” The answer is always no. We may take aspects of their personalities, their traits, things that have happened to them or their annoying habits, but we wouldn’t create an entire character based on them. Probably because they wouldn’t be interesting enough. We prefer to create patchwork fictional characters based on lots of different people’s personalities. Also, doing it this way means we don’t get sued!
In the case of A Walk in the Park, many different situations and memories and contributed towards the events in the book. Walking in our own local park one day, I saw two teenagers carving their initials on the trunk of a tree. Further up the tree was another set of initials inside a heart shape, obviously very much older. I immediately wondered who had carved the original set, where they were now and if they were still happily together…
Another sub-plot was inspired by one of those TV shows where people take along their most treasured possessions for valuation. A lady produced a precious family heirloom, her late mother’s diamond ring. The expert then had to break the news to her that the huge central diamond in the ring was in fact a cubic zirconium. (I mean, can you imagine? The possibilities are endless. Who exchanged the diamond for a fake – a previous jeweller? The woman’s late father? The mother herself? Her gambler brother? An errant son? WHOOOOO??????!!!)
One other aspect of the book is the relationship between Lara and her eighteen year old daughter Gigi. While I was writing it, my own daughter was eighteen. Now, I’m not Lara and my daughter Lydia isn’t Gigi but obviously aspects of the mother-daughter relationship are based on our own lives. We get on very well together, Lydia is very untidy, she’s incredibly bossy towards me…she actually types my books for me and loves to correct me when I’ve made a mistake. But I still couldn’t base a character on her, because then my book wouldn’t be fiction. It’s all a matter of blurring the edges. And making sure you don’t have legal action taken against you by your own daughter…
So, it’s over to you lot now. Have you ever seen or heard of an intriguing situation that has fired your imagination and made you wonder what led up to it and what could possibly happen next? And if you have, were you tempted to write about it? Because if not, maybe you should give it a go. You never know, it could change your life!
Thanks for the great guest post Jill! I could imagine writing about several things that I’ve seen or heard happen but I doubt I could make it as interesting as you do! LOL. It’s certainly something to think about though as I think most people who love books or blogging have dreams of writing their own book. Thanks for a great read in A Walk in the Park – I loved it!
About A Walk in the Park
No one could have planned for this…
Lara Carson left her family and boyfriend Flynn eighteen years ago without a word to anyone. Why has
no one heard from her since? Does it mean anything that she’s suddenly reappeared in Bath just in time
for her ex–best friend Evie’s wedding? And what about Flynn? Even the most eagle–eyed observer can’t
tell whether he’s happy to see her, or just stunned.
While secrets pile up on secrets, and the gossip mill wings into high gear, the brand–new life Lara’s
searching for becomes ever more elusive. There’s a lot of catching up for everyone to do, and Lara’s
return is going to be anything but a walk in the park.
About Jill Mansell
A New York Times, USA Today and international bestseller, Jill Mansell has written over 20 funny,
romantic novels, and has sold millions of books around the world. Jill lives with her family in Bristol,
GIVEAWAY DETAILS (US/Canada)
I have one copy of A Walk in the Park by Jill Mansell up for grabs to my readers. To enter…
- For 1 entry leave me a comment entering the giveaway.
- For 2 entries, follow my blog. If you already do let me know so I can pass the entry on to you as well.
- For 3 entries, blog or tweet this giveaway!
This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only (no PO boxes) and I will draw for a winner on Saturday, November 17/12. Good luck!
Today finds Benjamin Berkley, author of Against My Will, here at Peeking Between the Pages. I reviewed Against My Will last week and while the book deals with difficult subject matter it is also a really good read (my review). I’m going to tell you a bit about the book and Benjamin as well as giving away a copy of the book at the end of the post. In the meantime enjoy Benjamin’s thoughts on his inspiration for Against My Will…
My inspiration for the character of Irene came from my representation of Irene Opdyke. Note, several years ago, Mrs. Opdyke came into my office seeking my legal representation. She had written a book but her English was very poor as was her writing. The book was about how she harbored and saved Jews during the war while working as the housekeeper for a German commandant.
Never the less, a publisher wanted to publisher the book but with a coauthor. I negotiated a contract for her and eventually 20/20 did a story about Irene. And alter she was recognized by Yad Vashem in Israel as a Righteous Gentile.
About Against My Will
AGAINST MY WILL is the life changing novel about Danielle, a victim of marital abuse, who finds the strength to leave her husband and pursue a career in law.
Danielle Landau knows she should feel lucky, but she can’t feel anything but dread. Not only did she pass the New York Bar, but she married the man her father says is just right for her and lives in a fashionable new loft in Queens. But the man who seems like the perfect catch is a perfect nightmare at home. Jacob tries to control her career, her daily routine, and even what she eats. He ignores her desires and belittles her every chance he gets. Soon, Danielle doesn’t recognize her husband or herself, and she struggles to find a way out.
Danielle tries to talk to her father but he dismisses her marital problems. But she can confide in her Nana Rose, a Holocaust survivor who lost her entire family at the hands of the Nazis. Rose helped raise Danielle and her brother when their mother died when Danielle was only three. Having faced death, Rose is Danielle’s source of security. But while Danielle holds on to the fragile belief that her father’s prince charming will change, she is raped by her husband on the night of their one year wedding anniversary.
Now, Danielle has to escape. And with the help of her beloved Nana, Danielle moves across the country and starts to rebuild her life. But will she be able to escape her past? And when one of her clients finds herself in the same terrible situation, will Danielle have the strength to help her?
As we follow Danielle on her journey of terror and recovery, we see her story intersect with the diary entries of her Nana as a young girl held captive in a concentration camp. The entries begin with Rose waking up in a hospital after the liberation of the Mauthausen Concentration Camp. Graphically she recounts the train ride to the camp and the emotional separation of her from her family upon arrival. And the full weight of the family’s secrets becomes clear. This is a story of survival, self-discovery, justice, and ultimately, it’s about love.
About Benjamin Berkley
“Against My Will” is Benjamin Berkley’s fifth book and debut novel. He is also the author of four self-help books: “My Wishes, Your Plan for Organizing Your Family’s Needs” (Sourcebooks, June, 2006) “The Complete Executor’s Guide” (Sourcebooks, June 2007) “Winning Your Social Security Disability Case” (Sourcebooks, February, 2008) and “Before You Say I Do Again, A Buyer’s Beware Guide to Remarriage.” (Frederick Fell Publishers, September, 2009).
And though writing is his passion, for over 34 years he has conducted a busy law practice in which he has seen many interesting clients come through his door. One in particular, an older woman with white hair, the kindest smile, and an amazing story became the inspiration for one of his characters for “Against My Will.” Berkley lives in southern California with his wife Phyllis and their cat Riley. He has two grown children and is always bragging about his most beautiful grandson and granddaughter.
GIVEAWAY DETAILS (US/Canada)
I have one copy of Against My Will by Benjamin Berkley to share with my readers. To enter…
- For 1 entry leave me a comment entering the giveaway.
- For 2 entries, follow my blog. Let me know if you already do so I can pass the extra entry on to you as well.
- For 3 entries, blog or tweet this giveaway.
This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only (no PO boxes) and I will draw for the winner on Saturday, November 17/12. Good luck!