Book Reviews, Spotlight on Writing

Author Discovery ~ Mini Interview with Crystal King

Please welcome the author of The Chef’s Secret. Be sure and add it to your Goodreads list!

What author do you compare your book(s)/writing style to the most?

Madeleine Miller. I strive to bring the lost history of food to life in the way that she brings the ancient myths to life.

What is your favorite book genre? Why?

I read very widely across a bunch of different genres. I really want a wonderful story to grab me, overall. But I do tend to drift toward magical realism and fantasy quite often. I love the idea of escaping into different worlds, which is also why historical fiction is so fun for me to write.

What is your favorite television show? Why?

I don’t watch much television, to be honest! When I  do,  I could fall way too easily into the world of binging, and I have books to write! But I do watch Dr. Who, The Magicians, and I love Stranger Things.

If you could have written a popular, well-known book, what would it have been and why?

I don’t find myself envious or jealous of books or authors like that, so this is a hard question. We can only write the books inside of us. But I would love it if my novels eventually find the success and love of say, M.F.K. Fisher’s food writing, or the fandom of Phillipa Gregory, or the popularity of books that find themselves on Reese Witherspoon’s nightstand.

Using your most recent book, who would play your main character(s) in a movie?

Kit Harrington has the look closest to what I had in mind for Giovanni in The Chef’s Secret, although he’d need to acquire an Italian accent to pull it off, I’m thinking.

Why should your readers pick your book over a well-known author’s book?

So many factors go into how publishers decide to promote their books and readers don’t realize that only 5-10% of a publisher’s catalog gets any real promotion. So many incredible books are published, even by the big houses, but don’t get the same love on the shelf as those books. By only going with what is popular, a reader is missing out on some fantastic stories that might appeal to them even more.

My books are about the unsung heroes of culinary Italy. My latest novel, The Chef’s Secret, is about the world’s first celebrity chef, Bartolomeo Scappi, whose 1570 cookbook L’Opera di Bartolomeo Scappi, was a bestselling cookbook for almost 200 years after its publication. We don’t know much about Scappi’s life, so I had a lot of fun making some of that up. It’s a mystery and a love story. Feast of Sorrow is the tale of the world’s first gourmand, Apicius, whose name is on the oldest known cookbook. He died in a totally crazy way and I wanted to tell the story of how he got there.

If a reader loves diving into the historical past, loves Italy, or loves food, they will likely find some kinship with one of my novels. The trick is to not read one when you are hungry!

What is your go-to snack?

Snack? Hmm. I don’t snack much, actually. But if I could, I’d down a bit of gelato or ice cream, every day. My go-to flavor is something with chocolate and peanut butter!

You can buy the book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Book Reviews, Spotlight on Writing

Author Discovery ~ Mini Interview with Haleigh Wenger

Please welcome the author of The Art of Falling in Love – a YA story just released this month. At the end of the interview, you can find a blurb about the book. Be sure and add it to your Goodreads list!

What author do you compare your book(s)/writing style to the most?

I’d like to think that my style is a mix of Sarah Dessen and Morgan Matson, but those are two of my favorite authors, so it feels ambitious just to say!

What is your favorite book genre? Why?

I love contemporary YA. It highlights such an important time period, right when teens are making choices about what kind of person they want to be and why, and they’re still so vulnerable but are also discovering real-world truths.

What is your favorite television show? Why?

My favorite show right now is “The 100”. It has it all! Teen drama, romance, sci-fi suspense. My favorite thing about it is that the storyline dramatically changes every season, so the story always feels fresh and interesting.

If you could have written a popular, well-known book, what would it have been and why?

Any of Judy Blume or Sarah Dessen’s novels. They were all I read growing up, over and over again. I loved the way the stories about girls like me made me feel.

Using your most recent book, who would play your main character(s) in a movie?

In The Art of Falling in Love, I always imagine Shailene Woodley as my MC Claire. And for LI Foster, I think Ross Lynch would be a pretty good match.

Why should your readers pick your book over a well-known author’s book?

If you like YA contemporary that’s heavy on the romance, my book would be a great fit! I think the best part of discovering new authors is that you’re just adding to your stack of great books, and who can be mad about that?!

What is your go-to snack?

Anything chocolate! And always paired with cold water. LOL!



Twitter: @haleighwenger

Facebook: Author Haleigh Wenger


The Art of Falling in Love – blurb

Seventeen-year-old Claire Haynes always spends summer vacation at her family’s beach house in Florida, sketching and dreaming of art school with her biggest fan—her Opa. But when Opa dies right before summer break, all Claire has left besides her memories is a sand-sculpting contest application with her name on it and the lingering question of why Opa filled it out in the first place. Claire has never even made a decent sandcastle, but she reluctantly turns in the entry forms, hoping the contest will help her navigate the grieving process by honoring one of Opa’s last wishes.

When she meets Foster, a teenage boy with a talent for turning recyclables into abstract sculptures, the two join forces to win the contest and salvage the Summer of Art. They spend the humid summer days shoveling sand, devouring ice cream, and exploring Florida’s art scene. Just like Opa, Foster understands Claire and her overwhelming need to create, but he has a secret that threatens to ruin everything: he’s homeless and hiding from an abusive brother who would have him believe family trumps all.

When Claire’s parents find out about Foster’s homelessness, they offer him a home along with their hearts. But even picture-perfect families like Claire’s can harbor an ugly side, especially in the aftermath of Opa’s death. When someone close to Claire spills Foster’s secret, they’re both forced to choose between love and familial obligation. If Claire can’t break through long-held beliefs and prove family is more than shared DNA, she could permanently lose Foster and a chance at the sand contest to honor Opa.

Buy the book – Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Spotlight on Writing


Image result for free clip art writingI have been going through edits with the editor and the only thing on my mind is:


Let’s back up.

I can’t be a horrible writer if my manuscript was picked up by a publisher….


Maybe that’s it. I’m great at writing, but my grammar skills are horrible. This is not news to me or my school teachers. I know this fact, my grades reported it, and the teachers did their fair share of reminding me, YOU SUCK!

Maybe, I should keep this secret to myself?

Too late.

I NEED TO REMEMBER ALL THESE EDITOR’S NOTES! That’s my next step. I read and re-read each edit note in hopes of remembering the lesson for next time.


I make the SAME mistakes – A LOT!

Deep down in the pit of my stomach, I’m hoping I’m not as bad as I think. Yet, if I am, my hope is to learn from this and make sure that I DON’T make at least half of these mistakes with the next manuscript.



Spotlight on Writing

Handling BAD Book Reviews 

We all love it when someone takes the time to write a nice book review. But when someone takes the time to leave a less than steller review…our feelings are not so grateful. I have come across the honest truth that there is not a lot of information on how to handle crappy book reviews. 

We know you can just ignore them and never look, but that’s kind of impossible, especially if you’re a newbie author or you don’t have a lot of books out. A huge author can most likely ignore them. I highly doubt that John Grisham looks at his reviews unless he’s maybe getting all one stars on a new release and his publisher calls them to say “Hey you know this is not looking good.” 

So I kind of wanted to talk about how to handle book reviews from my point of view. First off, there are days when I go to my 9 to 5 job, and I’m in not a great mood because I just received a bad book review. Often I stumble upon it in the morning before I leave for work. Most people don’t understand you’re having a bad day because you received a crappy book review. Most authors that I know do not work 9-5 jobs, so stumbled upon them at work is rare. 

Second, Goodreads will actually alert you if you try to comment on one of your reviews. The system can detect the number of stars and reminds you that is not a good idea to comment. Yes, it’s such a common thing that they have created an alert for it! 

So far, you have the option of ignoring, both impossible for me. You? 

What should you do? This is what I’ve done. I will look up reviews from my favorite books and view the lowest star reviews. This reminds me that everyone can have an opinion, and it happens to your most beloved books. 

Another option is to visit some celebrities Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts and read comments. Not all of them are nice. I’ve read some pretty horrible comments on Faith Hill’s social media posts, and I don’t see her replying. 

Yet another option is to comment on those who left a NICE review. On Goodreads and Amazon you can LIKE a review. I’ll go as far as to comment, thanking them in more detail.  

Remember, most of all, someone took the time to comment, good or bad, your book caused them to take time out. Focus on those good reviews, read them over and over. Print them out and post them up, anything to keep your mind from wandering back to that one bad review. 

If all else fails there are always French fries and wine!! 

Spotlight on Writing

Facts About the Writer in Me

  1. I read the author bio on the jacket flap at least 3 times in the course of the book. (Before I buy it, mid-way through, and once I finish).
  2. I watch movies and think about how it would have played out as words on a page.
  3. New story ideas come to me when I’m writing a current story, thus throwing my current story off track.
  4. I critique other author’s head-shots/profile pictures. (That one is uber cool/that one looks horrible).
  5. I’ll go weeks without checking Amazon stats, then suddenly start checking every hour.
  6. I ponder which celebrities actually wrote their books and who had ghost writers, then get upset that celebrities get book deals like it’s a Wendy’s drive-thru, yet I love to read their books more than most other books…then I feel guilty about this.
  7. I lose hope in my writing and gain hope like a game of Chutes and Ladders.
  8. Either I accidentally starve myself or I accidentally over-eat when I write.
  9. I’m severely jealous of those who get to write full-time, then wonder about their possible lack of health insurance.
  10. I dream of my stories as movies or TV, then remember when I tried screenplay writing for a year, and it was horribly terribly awful.
Appreciation Monday, Spotlight on Writing

Appreciation Monday ~ Author Edition

Acceptances received are amazing.

Sure being accepted by others is nice, but what I am referring to is acceptances for stories.  The author’s life.

It’s like a warm hug from someone you love and haven’t seen in years!

It’s like the pop when you open a champagne bottle!

It’s like finding out the guy you have a crush on actually likes, likes you!

It’s like the smell of a new car!

It’s like eating that candy bar that you bought in line at the grocery store, then ate in the car before you got home, so no one knew.

It’s like running and jumping, with a scream, into the pool.

I am appreciative of acceptances for my stories.