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Author Laura Drake Debuts her new Women’s Fiction Amazing Gracie!!

April 2, 2023 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as , ,

Laura Drake is a New York published and self-published author of Women’s Fiction and Romance. Her debut, The Sweet Spot, won the 2014 Romance Writers of America® RITA® award. She’s since published 13 more books. She is a founding member of Women’s Fiction Writers Assn. and Writers in the Storm blog.

Laura is a city girl who never grew out of her tomboy ways. She gave up the corporate CFO gig to write full time. She realized a lifelong dream of becoming a Texan and is currently working on her accent. She’s a wife, grandmother, and motorcycle chick in the remaining waking hours.

Today I have the privilege of doing a Q&A with author and friend Laura Drake. She’s an award-winning author of Romance and Women’s Fiction. Her books will hook you from the first page and take you on a heartfelt and emotional ride.

Jann: You have published books in several genres—small town romance, Western Romance, and Women’s Fiction. When you start to write, do you approach a small town romance differently than a Women’s Fiction?

Laura: Very differently. In romance, the focus is ultimately on the couple, and their story. In Women’s Fiction, the story is about a woman’s emotional journey. I love romance, but I’m reveling in the freedom of Women’s Fiction! A double-edged sword I didn’t know until I tackled it—I didn’t realize how much I relied on the structure of romance (tropes, etc). There are no walls in WF, which is freeing, but also, harder!

Jann: You have tackled some heavy issues in your books. Is there any subject you don’t want to write about?

Laura: Wow, interesting question—I never thought about that. The idea I’m playing with now involves a serial killer, so . . . I’d have to say the answer is no! 😉

Jann: This month on the 25th, Amazing Gracie makes its debut. What challenges and conflicts do your characters CJ and Mazey have to overcome?

Jann: If you’ve ever read one of my books, you know there are a LOT! CJ is an Army vet who is returning from the desert with a ton of guilt, having been partially responsible for her friend’s deaths. They were planning a cross-country motorcycle ride together, which has now become a Memorial ride.

Mazey, her half-sister, is nine, precocious, but very innocent. CJ takes Mazey on the trip with her to rescue her from the attentions of her mother’s boyfriend. Mazey highjacks the ride to search for the father she’s never met.

There’s more, but you’ll have to read to find out!

Jann: What do you hope your readers come away with after reading Amazing Gracie?

Laura: Respect for those who serve, and empathy for the fact that they don’t always leave war behind when they come home. Also, for anyone who is struggling with guilt, no matter how grievous—to know that you can heal.

Jann: Have you ever had your characters take you in a different direction while writing the story?

Laura: Not really, but only because I don’t have a plan to begin with. I’m an almost total pantser. I start with a character, a flaw, and throw them into a situation and see where it takes us.

Jann: You have a collection of amazing characters in your books. Charla Rae in The Sweet Spot, Jacqueline Oliver in The Road to Me and Samantha Crozer in Her Road Home. Are there parts of yourself in your characters?

Laura: Every single one. I aspire to being Nellie; the outrageous octogenarian hippie with a storied past. I want to be the grandma you shudder to take out to eat, because you never know what she’ll say!

Jann: Has your writing process changed since your first book, The Sweet Spot, which sold in 2013 and won the 2014 Romance Writers of America RITA for Best First Book ?

Laura: Not much – I thought when I began, I’d be as organized as I am in the rest of my life. I actually enjoy outlining! But I tried that, and by the time I got done, I was bored, and couldn’t write the story – because I already knew what happened!

Jann: What are you working on now? Can you tell us about it?

Laura: Just starting another Women’s Fiction, about the wife of a serial killer. I’ve always been fascinated by stories of men’s secret lives, and the poor women who had no idea….

Jann: Do you have any writing rituals? Schedule?

Laura: Oh yes—that’s the organized part of me. I get up at 3 am (yes, every day), do social media until I get enough coffee onboard to think, then begin my writing day by reading over what I’ve written the day before, then write new pages. I’m usually in my office doing writing related things (I teach, marketing, etc) until I have to start dinner. I only write about 500 words a day, but I write every day, so they add up.

 Jann: Do you ever run out of ideas? If so, how did you get past that?

Laura: This is a worry for me. I envy those writers who have a folder full of story ideas they’re dying to get to. I only get one idea at a time, and since I don’t know where ideas come from, I’m terrified that each idea will be my last! Hey, we’re all neurotic here, right?

Jann: What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

Laura: Oh wow, THIS could fill a book the choices are many: skydiving, riding a motorcycle over 200k miles, marrying a guy after knowing him less than a week (do not recommend), rappelling off a 20-story building at 63…

Jann: What’s the funniest (or sweetest or best or nicest) thing a fan ever said to you?

Laura: My husband is a fan, right? I was in the driveway, washing my car, and he asked why. I told him I got to pick up DEBBIE MACCOMBER (yes, I said it just like that) and take her to speak at one of our meetings. He said, ‘Someday, some aspiring writer is going wash her car, because she’s picking up LAURA DRAKE. He doesn’t say sweet things often, but when he does, they’re memorable.

Laura, my friend, thank you for spending time with us here on A Slice of Orange. I believe you have another fantastic book that will reach the heart of the reader. Best of luck with Amazing Gracie!!






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‘The Orphans of Berlin’ is now on NetGalley by Jina Bacarr

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

It’s always exciting when a new story you’ve labored over for months… and months finally makes its debut… like a Broadway show opening out of town.

Philadelphia has had its share of out-of-town openings, so it’s only fitting THE ORPHANS OF BERLIN with my Philly debutante heroine had its opening this weekend on NetGalley.

To celebrate, I pulled out memorabilia from Berlin… my red cloche hat and red leather driving gloves… Berlin postcards.

And three of my favorite dolls that I carried around in a special pink trunk when I was a kid every time we moved.

My childhood ‘posse’.

Doll friends I could hang with since I was always the new kid in school (I went to 15). I’d eventually make friends, but these 3 ‘sisters’ were always there for me as they are today when I introduce you to the three Landau Sisters during WW2, Jewish girls in danger when the Nazis come to power…

Rachel, Leah, and Tovah.

Through a twist of fate, their fate is changed forever by Kay Alexander, a candy heiress with a dark secret that haunts her. Kay has no idea what’s in store for her when she visits Berlin in 1937… once she meets the Landau family, she’ll do anything to help them survive.

I spent part of a summer in Berlin years ago, visiting the city’s museums and shopping on the Ku’Damm, but the most memorable part was visiting East Berlin before the wall came down. I remember what the hotel clerk told me when I asked him for directions to Checkpoint Charlie. ‘They’ve forgotten how to smile,’ he said. I didn’t understand then what he meant until I was lost in that world of gray between East and West like a lost shadow.

During WW2, the Landau Sisters also forget how to smile as their freedoms are slowly taken from them because they are Jewish. In The Orphans of Berlin, you’ll meet Rachel and watch her grow up during the 1930s until the day her parents make the hardest decision a family should never have to make.

To send her and her sisters away… so they may live.

But how? Will they survive? Where will they go? Find out in THE ORPHANS OF BERLIN.


If you’re a book reviewer and you’d like to request an ARC here’s the NetGalley info:


UK http://netgal.ly/JraDUM

US https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/book/270880



UK https://amzn.to/3Qjp5mB

US https://amzn.to/3TMKZlf

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The Secret Babies of Dachau by Jina Bacarr

January 11, 2022 by in category Holocaust, Jina’s Book Chat, Paris, Paris novels, perfume, Reading, Writing tagged as , , , ,

(The video above takes place on a train in 1944 Germany — my heroine, Angeline, is very pregnant and on her way back to Auschwitz with two SS guards…)


Nothing is more heartbreaking than holding a newborn baby in your arms and it doesn’t cry.

The anguish, holding your breath while you wait for that first sign of life, the tears that fall upon your cheeks as you pray for that lovely, beautiful cry.

Then… a burst from the baby’s lungs and a heart-swelling joy overcomes you when the infant’s wail fills the air like an angels’ choir.

But what if you’re pregnant and imprisoned in a concentration camp in Southern Germany? A place where American soldiers were so devastated by the horror they found when they neared the camp, they wept when they liberated Dachau on April 29, 1945.

They discovered more than thirty railroad cars filled with dead bodies.

What if you were imprisoned there? Would you have lived? The odds were against you if you were a soon-to-be-mother.

It’s well documented the chances for survival for pregnant women and their babies in the camps was practically zero. They were immediately singled out for execution when they arrived.

It pains me to write this, but Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, was determined to exterminate all Jewish children (he proclaimed his policy in a secret speech in Poland on October 6, 1943).

As many as 1.5 million Jewish children died in the Holocaust.

Thanks to survivors’ stories and seven Jewish mothers from Hungary, we have the miracle of the Dachau babies. How for reasons never made clear, these mothers were allowed to live and brought to a sub-camp of Dachau in the waning days of the war known as Kaufering I.

And how under horrific conditions (no hot water, no instruments for the prisoner/doctor), they delivered seven healthy babies from December 1944 to April 1945 when fate stepped in and dealt them a cruel blow… I shan’t spoil it for you, but I promise you, I followed these events as they happened in ‘The Lost Girl in Paris’.

My heroine, Angéline de Cadieux, was there and very pregnant.

How did this Frenchwoman born Roma find herself in a concentration camp with Hungarian mothers-to-be? It was a challenge to orchestrate the series of events that bring her there… counting the days of her pregnancy in Paris, being honest to the unsanitary, degrading conditions found in the camps, the treatment of Roma by the Third Reich. Few have written about the Roma Holocaust and how anywhere from 220,000 to half a million Romani people died at the hands of the Nazis.

I admit it was a tremendous undertaking bringing all this to my story. I spent many sleepless nights trying to bring justice to these unbelievable women who not only survived the camps, but had the courage to tell their stories.

I have tried to tell one woman’s story albeit fiction, but everything Angéline de Cadieux experiences in the camps is based on truth.

So, my friends, cry as I did, become angry these events ever happened, but most of all, never forget.


THE LOST GIRL IN PARIS is now available across all platforms.

Available in e-book, print and audio

The Lost Girl in Paris universal link: https://books2read.com/u/3LyrdN

It’s the story of woman who survived both Auschwitz and Dachau, but never spoke about it until she meets a young reporter named Emma Keane who touches a nerve in her that now is the time to speak about those times. Her memories are as vivid to this eighty-year-old as if she were the seventeen-year-old girl who ran away to Paris to become a parfumier after losing her mother to the Nazi war machine.

I wrote THE LOST GIRL IN PARIS to pay tribute to the strong women who survived the Holocaust and willingly shared their stories with us. The horror of Nazi brutality, the loss of family, their dignity… but also about their strength just to ‘survive another day’.

And the strong bonds with their sisters-in-arms they formed with fellow prisoners. How they learned to trust each other and stood up against the enemy to save each other.

We must never forget.


Here is a second short excerpt from THE LOST GIRL IN PARIS:



 The LOST GIRL IN PARIS is part of the ‘Get Inspired’ promotion in UK, AU, and NZ

New Zealand: https://www.kobo.com/nz/en/ebook/the-lost-girl-in-paris-1

UK: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/the-lost-girl-in-paris-1

AU: https://www.kobo.com/au/en/ebook/the-lost-girl-in-paris-1



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Under the Light of the Italian Moon

March 8, 2021 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley tagged as , , , ,




Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Biographical Fiction


Date to be Published: March 8, 2021

Publisher: Amsterdam Publishers



A promise keeps them apart until WWII threatens to destroy their love forever


Fonzaso Italy, between two wars


Nina Argenta doesn’t want the traditional life of a rural Italian woman. The daughter of a strong-willed midwife, she is determined to define her own destiny. But when her brother emigrates to America, she promises her mother to never leave.


When childhood friend Pietro Pante briefly returns to their mountain town, passion between them ignites while Mussolini forces political tensions to rise. Just as their romance deepens, Pietro must leave again for work in the coal mines of America. Nina is torn between joining him and her commitment to Italy and her mother.


As Mussolini’s fascists throw the country into chaos and Hitler’s Nazis terrorise their town, each day becomes a struggle to survive greater atrocities. A future with Pietro seems impossible when they lose contact and Nina’s dreams of a life together are threatened by Nazi occupation and an enemy she must face alone…


A gripping historical fiction novel, based on a true story and heartbreaking real events.


Spanning over two decades, Under the Light of the Italian Moon is an epic, emotional and triumphant tale of one woman’s incredible resilience during the rise of fascism and Italy’s collapse into WWII.


About The Author



Jennifer Anton is an American/Italian dual citizen born in Joliet, Illinois and now lives between London and Lake Como, Italy. A proud advocate for women’s rights and equality, she hopes to rescue women’s stories from history, starting with her Italian family.

In 2006, after the birth of her daughter, Jennifer suffered a life-threatening post-partum cardiomyopathy, and soon after, her Italian grandmother died. This tumultuous year strengthened her desire to capture the stories of her female Italian ancestors.

In 2012, she moved with her family to Milan, Italy and Chicago Parent Magazine published her article, It’s In the Journey, chronicling the benefits of travelling the world with children. Later, she moved to London where she has held leadership positions in brand marketing with companies including ABInbev, Revlon, Shiseido and Tory Burch.

Jennifer is a graduate of Illinois State University where she was a Chi Omega and holds a master’s degree from DePaul University in Chicago.

Under the Light of the Italian Moon is her first novel, based on the lives of her Italian grandmother and great grandmothers during the rise of fascism and World War II.



Review the book at Amazon.com, Goodreads, and Bookbub


Connect with Jennifer on Instagram @boldwomanwriting


Connect with Jennifer on Facebook @jenniferantonauthorpage

Join her mailing list




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