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Rite of Fir

December 30, 2022 by in category Quill and Moss by Dianna Sinovic, Writing tagged as , , , , ,

Twig stood silent in the silver light of the full moon, listening to the rustle of mice or maybe voles in the dried grasses and brown leaves around her. No snow yet, but with the crystal clarity of the December night sky slowly being consumed by the advancing clouds, it was likely by morning.

Dipping into the deep shadows of the trees, she walked quickly back to the cabin. The stack of wood on the porch should be enough to last through the storm. 

In the smaller of the two bedrooms, Kayla lay asleep, snoring softly. Twig closed the door to the room and brought in more wood from the porch for the fire. 

picture of a bridge in a snowy forest

It was nearly midnight, and Charlie had yet to show up. Just like him, to promise and not deliver. 

Twig decided to wait up in case he texted that he was lost. From the cabinet near the kitchen, she took out twine, cloth ribbon and glue. She’d make a köknar, for the season, even if just for their short stay. Her grandmother had taught her how when she was nine, and Twig had made one every year since then. One day she would show Kayla how to make her own.

She set her supplies on the coffee table and sat cross-legged on the rag rug to begin her work. The bough of balsam fir she’d cut in the afternoon wasn’t exactly the right shape, but Grandma Pati said any shape would work if you looked at it from the right perspective. That was true for many things in life, Twig knew. Like her own situation. 

Likewise, the story of the köknar could be appreciated from different angles, depending on the weaver of the tale. It was a talisman of good luck. Or it represented winter, with the needles and twine standing in for ice and the thread of family and friendship. Or the red cloth ribbon spoke of the new buds of spring, still months away. The version Twig preferred was that the köknar whispered an alluring call to the sun, inviting it to stay aloft a few minutes longer each day.

By the time she heard Charlie’s SUV outside, she had finished the form. When she opened the cabin door to welcome him, the clearing was covered in fresh snow, the flakes still falling thickly. She hung her creation on the nail she’d driven in last year, their first year in that place, free finally from a past that was better forgotten.

Charlie slipped a strap over his shoulder and grabbed the handle of another suitcase. The falling snow turned his head white and speckled his beard.

“You’re here,” she said. Her shoulders relaxed. The weekend would be good after all. 

“The interstate’s a mess,” he said, reaching the porch and setting down his bags. “No cell service. I was afraid I’d have to pull off and spend the night and then come the rest of the way tomorrow. Kayla’s asleep?” 

She nodded. His embrace pulled her tight and she felt him shiver slightly. “You’re cold. Get inside. I’ve kept the fire up, knowing you’d show up soon.”

He paused at the doorway, staring at the köknar. “You made one.” His voice held wonder, and Twig felt her eyes smart. He’d watched her fashion one last winter, asking questions, holding a knot in place while she glued. 

“I did. Just this evening.”

Charlie picked up his bags and smiled at her. “Then we’re safe.” 

As she shut the door after him, Twig briefly touched the woven bough. “Do your best,” she whispered.

Some of Dianna’s Books

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Dipped in Chocolate: How I researched THE ORPHANS OF BERLIN and loved every minute by Jina Bacarr

December 11, 2022 by in category Jina’s Book Chat, Writing tagged as , , , ,

Do you remember the hilarious scene in an episode of ‘I Love Lucy’ where Lucy and Ethel are working in a candy factory and the conveyor belt speeds up and they stuff their mouths with gourmet chocolates?

Pure heaven…

I didn’t have that experience, but I did have a blast researching the art of chocolate up close and personal for The Orphans of Berlin, tasting and munching on creams and caramels to my little heart’s content.

Then running on the treadmill for hours…

It was worth it.

I wanted to get a feel for what it was like to grow up in the world of chocolate like my debutante-heroine Kay Alexander and become familiar with how candy is made… as well as its importance during World War 2 when Ration D chocolate bars were loaded with vitamins and included in every soldier’s military ration kit.

It all started in 1868 when Kay’s candy-loving, Irish great-grandfather started a candy business called ‘Radwell’s French Chocolates’. Being a candy heiress gives Kay the opportunity to spare no expense getting Jewish children out of Nazi Germany.

I discovered a publication called the ‘Confectioners and Bakers Gazette’ which detailed the candy business from 1896 – 1930, including candy factories in Philadelphia (in 1908, there were twenty-five factories in the US manufacturing chocolate). I find it odd it ceased publication during the Depression since candy sales boomed during those lean years, including Radwell’s French chocolates.

‘Sorority Chocolates’ were a big seller reputed to reach seventy-five million customers, appealing to high school girls, their moms, aunts, and grandmas.

Other notable facts include the use of synthetic vanilla called vanillin even back then; but as any Christmas cookie baker will tell you, real vanilla in his cookies is what makes Santa smile.

I also read books on chocolates and searched the Internet for chocolatier’s ‘secrets’ and favorite recipes to come up with my own special chocolates for the Radwell’s brand.

Here are a few samples for your taste delight:

Renoir Dark Chocolate Bars

Hand-dipped, chocolate-covered squares

… topped with a swirl of buttercream

 

Caramels de Vendôme 

Dark chocolate

… filled with honey caramel and vanilla ganache

 

Truffles à l’Opéra

Bittersweet chocolate

…filled with raspberry ganache 

 

Montmartre Mints

Dark chocolate thin mints

… with flecks of almonds

 

Versailles Soft Creams

Dark chocolate hearts

… filled with raspberry buttercream 

 

Notre-Dame Angels

White chocolate truffles

… filled with pecans and vanilla ganache

I invite you to give yourself a treat when you’re reading The Orphans of Berlin. Stock up on your favorite chocolates filled with creamy mousse, rich ganache… and decadent truffles.

I dip my fingers into the box of gourmet chocolates and grab the last piece. A raspberry dark chocolate truffle. Mm… delicious. A gift from the candy gods.

Ah, the travails of a writer’s research… a tough job.

But somebody’s got to do it, n’est-ce pas?

@jinabacarrauthor

1939 Berlin What if you’re a mom and you have to send your daughters to France to save their lives? #historytokwwiihistoricalfiction@bookandtonic

♬ original sound – Jina Bacarr Historical Author♥
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What’s on your holiday to do list?

December 10, 2022 by in category Writing tagged as , ,

The holiday countdown has begun! Are you ready? Just 15 days until Christmas and 8 until the start of Hanukah. I’m nearly there. My Christmas shopping is finished. Our tree is up, and we’ve done a little decorating, although most of our decorations are in Arizona. The little apartment we’ve rented in California for Paul until he retires is where we decorated…that’s where the grandchildren will be. And, while I’ll be baking cookies for my family, I won’t be on a huge baking binge this year…and I’m trying to bake healthier.

HOWEVER…for many years, there have been places that I could only go at Christmas with a platter of cookies. Baking cookies has been a Christmas tradition for me, since I got my first apartment at 18 years old. I tried to add a new cookie to my repertoire every year

Some of the cookies on my list included:

  • Applesauce Fruitcake bars– my alternative to fruit cake
  • Butterballs– aka snowballs, Mexican Wedding Cakes, Russian Tea balls
  • Candy Cane Cookies– ala Martha Stewarts Christmas book page 41
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Cinnamon Swirls
  • Double Chocolate Thumbprints- recently renamed Mud Puddles – this recipe is my own, and it’s printed in the story Love and Mud Puddles.
  • Frost on the pumpkin cookies
  • Magic Cookie Bars
  • Oatmeal Craisin cookies
  • Orange Glazed Carrot Cookies…this recipe has a story to it, and if you sign up for my newsletter, you’ll get the recipe and the story!
  • Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies
  • Snickerdoodles
  • Sour Cream Cookies
  • Spritz Cookies
  • Sugar Cookies…or as we call them cut-out cookies
  • Thumbprint

There are more, but you get the idea…I bake cookies. One year I made over 200 dozen cookies…but that’s another story. For this year. I’ll bake a few of my family’s favorites, and some new healthier cookies that I’m hoping will become new traditions.

So, it’s perfectly fitting for me to write a Christmas romcom about cookie baking. Love and Mud Puddles released on November 30th, and it’s available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble I hope you’ll check it out. And don’t forget that I have another Christmas romcom #12DancingSantas…if you’re in the mood for holiday romance.

I’ve shared many of the recipes on the cookie list above in my Facebook group Tari Lynn & Friends. So, if you’d like them please join us, and you can join in the rest of the fun as well!

I have another story releasing in the Imperfect Date Collection in February, it’s available for preorder now! …and I can’t wait to tell you more about that!

For now, Happy Holidays to all of you and your families, and I’d love to hear what you’re baking this season!! (And if you don’t bake and just eat them, that’s okay too.)

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Author Jina Bacarr–Romance Makes the World Go Around!!

November 17, 2022 by in category Writing tagged as ,

I started out working as a reporter writing articles for a travel magazine based in Beverly Hills and then as a columnist for a computer magazine where I wrote about technology ‘Sweet Savage Byte’, as well as writing for academia, radio commercials and PR copy for a local AM/FM station. I’ve also had three plays produced in Malibu and I worked for a time writing scripts for children’s and daytime TV before publishing nonfiction books about Japan, and then later fiction.

Jann: You have an amazing writing career. How did it get started?

Jina: I’ve always written, having grown up with my Irish grandma who inspired me to write – a fine woman who was never without a story on her lips or a rosary in her hands… blue or white or green beads fastened together by her nimble fingers into a holy circle. I’d sit at her feet, holding my crayons in my left hand and coloring in my ballerina book or playing with my paper dolls, all the while making up stories of my own.

My first writing job was an article about the uniqueness of European bathrooms called ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Loo’. After college, I was torn between working part time as an illustrator for Frederick’s of Hollywood or working as a reporter for a travel magazine. I needed to pay the rent, so I wrote articles under different names and never looked back.

Jann: Why romance, time travel and World War 2?

Jina: Romance makes the world go round no matter what century you’re in… time travel because I spent a lot of my childhood in museums. The voices of the past speak to me through stiff ivory-colored crinolines and worn satin slippers. I’ve always wondered what it was like to walk in those slippers when they were new. World War 2 because I love the clothes, the sophistication, the Victory Red lipstick… the drama and power of the women who helped win the war. They were feminine and daring and strong… and fell in love with brave pilots. Who doesn’t love a guy in a sheepskin leather jacket and aviator sunglasses?

Jann: Historical romance readers look for accuracy from the author. What are your favorite sources for research and how much time did you spend on research. Do you research before, while you write a first draft or after?

Jina: Re: doing research, I love the joy of finding old books or films produced during the time I’m writing about; e.g., there is an enormous amount of material from the 1930s and 1940s, both first person accounts published during the war as well as films. Newsreels, but also home movies shot by participants on both sides. I have a wonderful ‘coffee table’ book that’s filled with scenes of Paris during the Occupation, as well as detailed timelines both in print and on the Internet that help me in setting up scenes so I can drop my characters into the historical moment, then turn them loose and see what they do. They always surprise me!

I research during all phases of the writing process… from creating the characters to researching the weather on a certain day to the phases of the moon (I have RAF landings in France that depend on moonlight). I never hesitate to check a date or place at any time, right through the proofreading.

Jann: Your new historical, The Orphans of Berlin, is described as Heartbreaking and based on a true story. How did you find the story this book is based on?

Jina: It’s based on the Kindertransport, the children’s transport. It’s well documented in films and books… I was fascinated by a documentary featuring an American couple who orchestrated a Kindertransport at a time when the US limited immigration, making it impossible for German Jews escaping death at the hands of the Nazis to come to America. I discovered that Jewish children from Germany and Austria and other European countries were sent to England and also to France by their desperate parents. Since I write about Occupied France, the story took off from here.

I also write about a personal journey in The Orphans of Berlin related to my American heroine (all is revealed in the acknowledgements).

Jann: What major conflicts do your leading characters in The Orphans of Berlin, Kate Alexander and the Landau sisters, have to work through?

Jina: Kay Alexander is a debutante albeit a reluctant one. It’s a life chosen for her by her society mother, but Kay is determined to be her own person in spite of her mother’s domineering ways. Kay has to work through the delicate balance of finding her independence, yet never giving up hope her mother will see her as an individual. She loves her mom and is proud of her heritage, and wants to use her fortune to help others.

Rachel is twelve when we meet her, a time in the Jewish religion when a girl becomes an adult. We follow Rachel through the trials and tribulations every girl faces growing up: her maturing body, feelings for boys, seeking independence from her parents whom she adores, and yearning to be her own person. What makes all this so difficult is that Rachel faces the trials of impending womanhood in a time when the Nazis set about destroying her world of tradition and ancient culture… and also taking on the duty to keep her younger sisters safe in a dangerous time.

Jann: I understand there is a handsome British pilot. What can you tell us about this character? 

Jina: Max Hamilton-Jones is a daring pilot from a tough, English upbringing in Blackpool in Northern England. He grew up around airplanes and joined an air circus when he was a teenager. He has a fierce sense of protecting the innocent and uses his flying skills to fight in Spain before WW2… he’s an avant-garde artist who captures human foibles with his amazing sketches featuring slices of life. He loves beautiful woman and sees into the soul of his models with his pen… he’s sexy, witty, and protective of Kay and Rachel and her two sisters. I love that.

Jann: Are you working on something now that you can share with us?

Jina: I’m writing my fourth book about the Holocaust in Occupied France… this time I’m tackling the subject of rape during the war: how many cases were never reported and the stories of these Frenchwomen lay buried in the shadows.

I want to shine a light on one such story…

Jann: You’re a multi-published author, is there a character in one of your books whose personality most matches yours? If so, which book and character and why?

 

Jina: Aye, it’s Ava O’Reilly, my Irish heroine from Queenstown in The Runaway Girl, my story about the Titanic. Ava pokes her nose where she shouldn’t, is outspoken with her opinions, and is filled with colorful, witty phrases. Of course, Ava speaks her mind; me, I write it down in stories, but there’s a lot of Ava in me.

 

 

Jann: Where can we get your books? 

 

Jina: Readers can find my books published by Boldwood Books at Amazon US, UK, CA, AU, and international Amazon sites, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, and in the UK, in brick and mortar stores, The Works and Waterstones.

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jina.bacarr/

Twitter https://twitter.com/JinaBacarr

Blog https://jinabacarr.wordpress.com/

TikTok https://www.tiktok.com/@jinabacarrauthor

The Orphans of Berlin

US https://amzn.to/3TMKZlf

UK https://amzn.to/3Qjp5mB

Jann: What’s your all-time favorite book? 

Jina: Time and Again by Jack Finney

I love exploring the science behind traveling through time, the whys and what ifs. Mr Finney made me believe in time travel. I love his wit, his passion for the lady he loves in his time travel novel, his historical accuracy and gripping detail that put you there.

A true gentleman and a scholar for any time.

[I wrote two novels about time travel: Her Lost Love – WW2 on the home front where a lonely woman goes home on a magic Christmas train to save her fiancé who died in the war; and Love Me Forever – a female re-enactor goes back to the Civil War dressed as a soldier and meets her double, a Confederate spy.]

Jina, its been great to have a peak into your writing world. You write amazing stories. Good luck on The Orphans of Berlin. Have a wonderful holiday season.

 

Some of Jina’s Books

(Click the cover for more information. Hover over the cover for buy buttons.)

A NAUGHTY CHRISTMAS CAROL

Buy now!
A NAUGHTY CHRISTMAS CAROL

A SOLDIER’S ITALIAN CHRISTMAS

Buy now!
A SOLDIER’S ITALIAN CHRISTMAS

COME FLY WITH ME

Buy now!
COME FLY WITH ME

HER LOST LOVE

Buy now!
HER LOST LOVE

LOVE ME FOREVER

Buy now!
LOVE ME FOREVER

RESISTANCE GIRL

Buy now!
RESISTANCE GIRL

THE LOST GIRL IN PARIS

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THE LOST GIRL IN PARIS

THE ORPHANS OF BERLIN

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THE ORPHANS OF BERLIN

THE RUNAWAY GIRL

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THE RUNAWAY GIRL
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The Orphans of Berlin pubs today by Jina Bacarr

November 11, 2022 by in category Jina’s Book Chat, Writing tagged as , , ,

Yes, it’s here! Pub day for The Orphans of Berlin.

I’ve been holding my breath for this moment… a long road… years in the making in a very personal way that made me cry as I write this.

Meet the Landau Sisters barely surviving in Nazi Germany… and Kay Alexander, the amazing debutante from Philadelphia who will stop at nothing to save them from the Nazis in 1939 Berlin…

And of course, there’s a British pilot hero to die for…

US https://amzn.to/3TMKZlf

UK https://amzn.to/3Qjp5mB

PS — in case you’re wondering about the items in the photo — cigarette case engraved with a map of the UK is a vintage piece like the one the hero gives to Kay, my heroine (I use it to keep stamps), and the cigarette holder is a prop I had from a play I did…

The string of pearls I’ve had since I was 16; chocolate pieces because Kay is a candy heiress and a Philadelphia deb — she was Debutante of the Year 1934. The photo is similar to what you’d see on the society pages in the 1930s announcing Kay’s ‘coming out’.

Any questions about The Orphans of Berlin? Be happy to answer them, so fire away!

Before I go, I want to thank our own Slice of Orange author Veronica Jorge for her 5 star review of The Orphans of Berlin. She’ll post it here on A Slice of Orange on November 22nd… so check back!

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