- A Historical Read–and Good News! November 14, 2017
by Noella Noelophile®
Historically, inspired family man Henry Wadsworth Longfellow appears to have nothing in common with notorious assassin John Wilkes Booth.
But their common denominator: each intrigued gifted author Jennifer Chiaverini
For Christmas season 2016, I had the privilege of talking with Jennifer about her book Christmas Bells. Jennifer, who published Christmas Bells in 2015, tells a fantastic Christmas story that takes her readers back and forth in time. Paralleling Longfellow’s happy family life, and the inspiration for his beloved Christmas verse after tragedy struck, with a story set in modern-day Boston just before Christmas, she explores the frustrations, sorrow and joy that are part of loving someone–and life.
And at the time of our interview, Jennifer had just published Fates and Traitors: A Novel of John Wilkes Booth and the Women Who Loved Him.
Today, Fates and Traitors comes out in paperback–and will make a great stocking stuffer for any history buff.
In a departure from her stories of more illustrious figures, Jennifer explores the life of one of the most hated men in history. She takes readers through the circumstances of Booth’s life, through the influence of four women in his life: his mother, Mary Ann Holmes; his fiancee, Lucy Lambert Hale; his sister, Asia Booth Clarke; and his landlady and co-conspirator, Mary Surratt. The story will rivet readers, due to Jennifer’s gift for getting inside the heads of her multidimensional characters. Readers will be wondering, along with Lucy, if John cares; with Asia, if her marriage has been a mistake; and with Mary Surratt, if amnesty will be granted.
Fates and Traitors brings up facts that our history classes somehow missed. (Who knew that the original plan wasn’t to assassinate Lincoln at all?) In doing so, it captures the sense of crossroads in life. Random chance plays a role: if seemingly-minor circumstances had occurred differently, history would have told some different stories.
Meanwhile, John emerges as an articulate charmer, with a gift for silver-tongued romance and a passion for his cause. While John Wilkes Booth never becomes a sympathetic figure, Fates and Traitors offers some perspective on his world, and his actions.
Meanwhile,, here’s some more good news. Jennifer has a new novel, Enchantress of Numbers, a Novel of Ada Lovelace, coming out on December 5th! This brand-new book tells the story of Ada Byron King, Lord Byron’s daughter, who was the world’s first computer programmer. Promotional material for the book mentions Ada’s “exceptional contributions to science and technology”–of which, I admit, I have been completely unaware!
I can’t wait to read this.
- Mitzvahs, Miracles and Inspiration December 23, 2016
Author and speaker Dawn Wynne is celebrating Hanukkah with her family.
She’s also celebrating Christmas.
And her latest book, The Miracle Mitzvah Moose, celebrates the principles of love and giving at the core of both holidays.
As a mom, Dawn has taught her daughter the true spirit of the season. With a blended family that observes both Jewish and Christian customs every year, she has started a tradition from which grew the idea for The Miracle Mitzvah Moose. An inspiring children’s book that may very well get the whole family into the Hanukkah (or Christmas) spirit, The Miracle Mitzvah Moose comes with a toy, “Moosey”, which Dawn designed to go with the story.
With a background in education, Dawn has been honored as with both the “Teacher of the Year” and “Superintendents’ Award” for teaching excellence. Meanwhile, she is an Amazon Children’s bestselling author, with honors including Indie Excellence Finalist and the Readers’ Favorite Silver Award for her previous books
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for activities for young household members home for winter vacation, Dawn has coloring, baking and craft activities on the “Kid’s Corner” of her website. And she’s available as a speaker–not just for Hanukkah topics but to offer a “fun” history lesson from her second book, I Remember When..., or a message of sustainability from her first one, Earth Remembers When.
Dawn talked about her background, the experience of writing and publishing The Miracle Mitzvah Moose and her family’s traditions for Christmas and Hanukkah.
- From Her Heart, at Christmas December 3, 2016
“Life isn’t always what we think it is,” says author Evangeline Duran Fuentes. “Sometimes there’s a change.”
That change, and dealing with it at Christmastime, are at the core of her fourth published book (and her first published Christmas story!), A Tumbleweed Christmas.
In addition to being a storyteller, Evangeline is an artist/entrepreneur, as well as a mom and grandmother. And A Tumbleweed Christmas is based on a true story.
Some years ago, Evangeline and her family moved from Southern California to Texas, to help her ailing father-in-law run his small farm. Her two young children had to make some major adjustments–and their first Christmas in their new home, is the foundation of A Tumbleweed Christmas.
As the story progresses, ten-year-old Matty and her older brother Mark learn to thrive in their new setting. In the process, Matty leans a lot about love and growing up, as two strangers offer an unexpected gift.
With a poignant twist towards the end, A Tumbleweed Christmas is a bittersweet story of family, love and giving. While written as a children’s story, it shares a quality with Evangeline’s three previous books: “big kids” will find themselves captivated–and won’t forget Matty, Mark, Pedro or Esperanza.
Evangeline talked about the story behind A Tumbleweed Christmas, some of the creative choices she made while writing it, and some of her family’s Christmas traditions. (She also read a short selection from A Tumbleweed Christmas, in the course of our interview!)
(And congratulations to Evangeline on publishing her fifth children’s book, Waggles, earlier this year! You’ll find all of her books on her website. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for some sparkly and unique Swarovski crystal jewelry, check out her small business, Alluring By Design!)
- A Great Christmas Read–Plus! October 17, 2016
“I heard the bells, on Christmas Day, their old familiar carols play…”
You’ve probably heard this traditional carol–and maybe sung it–all your life.
But–did you know the story behind this carol, “Christmas Bells”? And that one of America’s most beloved poets became inspired with these verses at a time of great personal turmoil?
Bestselling author Jennifer Chiaverini tells that story, in her 2015 novel Christmas Bells. And while this is a work of historic fiction, based on documented facts, she also tells a parallel Christmas story–set in modern times.
And here’s some great news–and some more great news, along with some dates you may want to keep in mind. As of October, 2016, Christmas Bells is available in paperback! (Can we say “fantastic stocking stuffer or Christmas-trip read” here?)
Also–Jennifer is planning some upcoming author appearances, and has a brand-new novel! Her central character, this time, may surprise you. She’ll be doing a reading at the Wisconsin Book Festival on Saturday, October 22nd, with a Q and A session and book signing afterwards. Additional dates will be forthcoming on her website.
You may very well already be familiar with Jennifer Chiaverini’s gift for bringing history to life through storytelling. Some of her previous twenty-four novels include Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, Mrs. Grant and Madam Julie, and Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival. Needleworkers among us have also been delighted by her Elm Creek Quilts series, which includes The Christmas Quilt, The New Year’s Quilt, and The Quilter’s Apprentice.
In Christmas Bells, she gives us the best of both worlds, as she takes us back in time to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Craigie House in the mid-nineteenth century–then to the present day, as his beautiful carol resonates with an engaging and believable cast of characters.
Additional good news? Her brand-new novel, Fates and Traitors, is now available for Christmas giving–and any history buffs on your gift list will be captivated!
In a departure from her previous historical fiction, Fates and Traitors explores the life of one of history’s most notorious villains: John Wilkes Booth. Without excusing or glossing over the facts, the book presents Booth as a flawed individual whose misguided beliefs ultimately lead him, inexorably, to the tragic events of April 14, 1865. The story is told from the perspectives of four women in Booth’s life: his mother, Mary Ann Holmes Booth; his sister, Asia Booth Clarke; his fiancee, Lucy Hale; and his landlady and co-conspirator, Mary Surratt.
Jennifer talked about Christmas Bells, some of the historical facts behind her new novel Fates and Traitors, and her advice to aspiring writers.
- Do You Believe? He Does October 17, 2014
Actor and author Charles Edward Hall doesn’t just believe in Santa Claus. He knows he exists.
And he explains why in his book, Santa Claus is For Real, just published this week.
This Christmas, Charles–whom we’ll call “Santa Charles” from here on–celebrates his twenty-eighth year as Santa in New York’s Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular. But for Santa Charles, it’s about so much more than playing a role.
In his new book, Santa Charles shares the story of his journey, both as an actor in his role as the Radio City Music Hall Santa, and as a cynic who became a believer.
Santa Charles talked about his own memories of Santa, explained how he first began portraying the Radio City Santa Claus, and shared the onstage experience that convinced both him and his New York audience that “Santa Claus is for real”.
- Christmas “Pearl-Style” Wisdom December 21, 2012
Bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank takes readers to South Carolina with her when she creates her stories. So far, she has written thirteen novels–including her most recent offering, Porch Lights, published earlier this year.
Growing up on Sullivan’s Island, Dottie, as she likes to be called, enjoyed Christmases full of family and special traditions. These are the memories that make up the background of her Christmas novel, The Christmas Pearl.
Dottie talked about the real-life character on whom she based “Pearl”, her own favorite growing-up Christmas traditions, and, believe it or not–fruitcake!
- Dorothea Benton Frank Interview, Part 2 December 21, 2012