Saturday, January 30, 2016

Recap of Great Reading 1/25-1/28

Another busy week at Layered Pages! As you know by now, not only do I post at this location, I post at WordPress as well. As always, I would be delighted if you stopped by there and took a look.

As you can see, lots of great posts and exciting mentions of people and books!

Have a great weekend!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Friday, January 29, 2016

A Conversation with Author Stuart S. Laing

I’d like to welcome Stuart S. Laing to talk with me about his latest, “Writing in Progress.” Stuart is one of my favourite people and he is one heck of a writer. We met on social media a few years ago and he has also been a tremendous help in my own writing and the advice he has been giving me over the years has been priceless.

Born and raised on the east coast of Scotland in the ancient Pictish Kingdom of Fife Stuart grew up looking across the Firth of Forth towards the spires and turrets of the city of Edinburgh and its castle atop its volcanic eyrie. He has always been fascinated by the history of Auld Reekie and has spent most of his life studying Scottish history in all its aspects whenever he finds the time between family, work and the thousand and one other things that seek to distract him. Despite the vast panorama of Scotland's history, he always finds himself being drawn back to the cobbled streets of the Old Town. Those streets have provided the inspiration for his stories and characters. He would urge all visitors to Scotland's ancient capital to (briefly) venture into one of the narrow closes running down from the Royal Mile to get a flavour of how alive with mischief, mayhem, love and laughter these streets once were.

Stuart, I am so delighted to hear your latest WIP is going well. Can you tell us a little about some of the dangers your readers can expect in this story?

Thank you Stephanie. Congratulations to you on the new look for Layered Pages. You really doing a tremendous job. Sites such as yours are absolutely vital for all indie-authors if they wish to reach a wider audience, and I truly appreciate all the help you have given me over the last couple of years. You are the best!
Now, as for the book…

A band of Tinkers (Scottish Gypsies) have set up camp on the shores of the Nor’loch, Edinburgh’s famous Princes Street Gardens these days but then an open body of water which served as the city’s northern defence.

These people are seeking only to eke out a simple living by selling their wares, tin-smithing, knick-knacks, odds and ends etcetera to the townsfolk. Among their number is a beautiful young woman, Libby Oliver, who all agree is the finest musician anyone has ever heard. Her fiddle playing could have a dying man jump up from his deathbed and start jigging!

Unfortunately for Libby, she is being used as a pawn to defraud a woman, who she wishes with all her heart to call a friend. She is being forced, through threats and violence, by a vicious brute who is determined to exploit her friendship with Alice Galbraith for his own ends.

He knows something about Libby which could destroy her life if he was to reveal it. Not a nice man!

Meanwhile a shadowy group of city gentlemen are plotting this man’s demise as he holds a dark secret over them relating to a secret they share from their youth. They are stirring up ignorant prejudices against the Tinkers to create an atmosphere of hatred and distrust that will allow them to cause mayhem.

Are there any murders or untimely deaths?

There will be at least one murder, the victim is someone few folks will shed many tears over though! However, his death is going to place poor Libby in the spotlight as the most likely suspect for the death.

This is the point that Robert Young of Newbiggin would swing into action to unmask the true murderer and save her from the noose. Unfortunately, he is confined to bed with inflammation of the lungs and can do nothing to help.

It falls to his wife Euphemia, aided and abetted by Alice Galbraith, to do the investigating using their own contacts (servants, gossips and friends) from the ranks of the upper class. They are convinced of Libby’s innocence but don’t know the girl has dark secrets of her own which she has to keep from them. She may not be the simple Tinker’s Daughter she portrays!

Are there any tea houses in your story, or just pubs?

There are a couple of coffee-houses which feature. Bunty’s is a regular haunt for morning meetings between Euphemia and her friends, while Mr. Mackenzie’s coffee-house on the Lawnmarket is just a couple of doors from her bookshop. It is a useful place to send Robert and Euphemia’s adopted daughter, Effie, to, whenever they have something private to discuss.

Bunty is famous for her tea, coffee and cakes. I’d actually go there myself for elevenses if I could travel back in time.

Robert is more likely to be found in an alehouse or tavern. He will tell you that this is purely work-related though, as it were he is likely to find his informants! Euphemia isn’t certain that is the only reason, and neither am I.

What is a typical day for your main character?

For Robert it depends on whether he has been engaged to solve a crime and clear the name of someone able to pay his fee. When on an investigation his day consists of searching for clues and information using his contacts and own nose to follow a lead. At other times he has to turn his attention to his real work, as his father would describe it, which is helping to run that man’s business empire of mills, mines and textile manufactories centred on the family home of Newbiggin in East Lothian.

For Euphemia, when she is not being driven to distraction by Robert being a typical man with a sniffle, whining for endless cups of tea and sympathy, she is busy looking after two small children under the age of five with Effie’s assistance. Planning literacy lessons for the women and girls of Kitty’s house of gentlemanly pursuits (gambling and ladies of negotiable affection) which she fell into by accident. These lessons take place every Sunday afternoon after church. She loves teaching these women and girls to read and write and led to her close friendship with Alice Galbraith.

How do you keep all your conflicts straight? Which is a lot!

Plotting! Lots of plotting! I work to a basic skeleton which the story is built upon. Having so many regular characters helps enormously as I can trust them to simply be themselves most of the time. Having said that, they will still insist on surprising me by doing something out of the blue and then give me just a shrug when I say “what was that?”

The other help is knowing where the story is going before I write the first word. I know who the victim will be, who the killer will be, and, just as importantly, I know what will be happening in the background with several minor plots which can roll along for one book or, as in the case of Estelle Cannonby and her estranged mother, several.

How much time have you spent working on this story so far?

I have written just a whisker over 50k words so far with this story in 9 separate bouts of writing. Each is normally 5 or 6 hours of doing nothing but write. No TV, no internet, no saying “I’ll just take five minutes to research this” (that always turns into a couple of hours of looking at videos of cats or puppies on facebook!)

The only distraction I allow myself is background music which has to fit the mood of the book. With this one it is a soundtrack of ‘New-Folk’ music that really sets the tone in my head for the words to flow. Artists such as Birdy, Gabrielle Aplin, London Grammar. Beautiful voices, haunting music and lyrics that just warm your soul.

Oh, and endless cups of tea and coffee!

Have you designed your book cover yet?

I have a rough version worked out which may, or may not, be the finished article. I usually design the book cover using a specific scene from the book so that when people read it they can go, ‘oh, that is what the cover is!’

As a wee teaser, this cover may feature the Tinker’s camp in flames!

For those who have not read your mystery series yet, what can you tell them about it?

Set on the old cobblestones of Edinburgh in 1745 and onwards, they feature Robert Young. Son of a rich industrialist, he has discovered a talent for solving mysteries and having the bravery to venture down into the murky underbelly of the city where few others of his class would even dream of going. He has created an eclectic mixture of informants, friends and allies from these dank streets who can, usually, be relied on to delve even deeper into the mire than even he is daft enough to go himself!

Just as important a figure is his wife, Euphemia. She is the bedrock that all he does is built on. She is the calm head who can be relied upon to give sound advice and who isn’t afraid, when it is needed, to step in herself and lend a hand to solve a crime.
As Robert himself ponders, ‘what would it be like to have an obedient wife? Probably dull!’

Alongside the mysteries are tales of everyday life for the great and good, and also the equally important lives of the poor and downtrodden who demand equal billing!
Add to that the ups and downs of married life for Robert and Euphemia and I hope the reader will find themselves transported back to the rich, reeking, mess of a city where 70,000 people live cheek by jowl in a town squeezed within its ancient walls.

Where can readers purchase your stories?

Readers in the US can find the Robert Young of Newbiggin mysteries here in both ebook and paperback

In the UK, please visit

Finally, may I, just once more, thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you do, not only for me, but for the countless other authors you have encouraged and supported over the years. Without your help we would struggle to reach as many new readers.

Thank you, Stuart for such a wonderful chat about your latest book and a bit about what you write. It is always an honour and delight to be able to chat with my favourite writers and support their endeavours.

You may check out another interview I have had with Stuart here

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Rage To Live by Joseph Krygier

Over at my WordPress, I had an interview with B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree Author Joseph Krygier back in August of 2014. His book begins with an introduction to the historical nature of the Holocaust and Genocide. A powerful read and he gives a wonderful interview about his story here

Stephanie M. Hopkins 
indieBRAG Team Member 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Recap of Great Reading!

This week has been a busy at layered Pages! Not only do I post at this location, I have a WordPress as well. I would be delighted if you all stopped by there and took a look. 

This Weeks Post:

Tuesday: Books and More Books. I discuss the trouble I got into the Friday before.

Wednesday: I posted about five books I want to read.

Thursday: A book review of Lessons in Loving by Peter McAra

Today: Cover Crush

As you can see, lots of great posts and exciting mentions of books!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Friday, January 22, 2016

Death by Times New Roman by Douglas B. Carlyle

Eighteen Books...Eighteen Towns...Eighteen Murders!

FBI Special Agent Cat Kavanagh is trailing a vicious killer who stabbed each of his victims. It is more than coincidental that every time author Bradley R. Woodbury publishes another best-selling novel, police find a woman dead, always in the same quiet town the author had chosen as the setting for his book.

A decorated former Army Captain, Kavanagh is tough, cunning, and beautiful. Now, she is the bait for Woodbury's final novel. Will she find the killer before she, too, suffers Death by Times New Roman?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Lessons In Loving by Peter McAra

Wanted: Governess. Properly qualified in English, to instruct male pupil in rural location.

My review for this book is now live at my wordpress! Check it out! 
Stephanie M. Hopkins 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

I'll See You in Paris by Michelle Gable

Katie Bassel with St. Martin Press sent this beauty to me. I can't wait to dive in! 
After losing her fiancĂ© in the Vietnam War, nineteen-year-old Laurel Haley takes a job in England, hoping the distance will mend her shattered heart. Laurel expects the pain might lessen but does not foresee the beguiling man she meets or that they’ll go to Paris, where the city’s magic will take over and alter everything Laurel believes about love.

Thirty years later, Laurel’s daughter Annie is newly engaged and an old question resurfaces: who is Annie’s father and what happened to him? Laurel has always been vague about the details and Annie’s told herself it doesn’t matter. But with her impending marriage, Annie has to know everything. Why won’t Laurel tell her the truth?
The key to unlocking Laurel’s secrets starts with a mysterious book about an infamous woman known as the Duchess of Marlborough. Annie’s quest to understand the Duchess, and therefore her own history, takes her from a charming hamlet in the English countryside, to a decaying estate kept behind barbed wire, and ultimately to Paris where answers will be found at last.e, and ultimately to Paris where answers will be found at last.

Monday, January 18, 2016

indieBRAG Interview Team Announcement

I am delighted to announce that indieBRAG has put together a wonderful team of book bloggers to interview our B.R.A.G. Medallion Honorees.

The team members are as follows:

Erin Davies-website: Flashlight Commentary 

Interviews and guest posts on a first come first serve basis. Tuesdays and Thursdays. And is currently booking two weeks out.

Interviews about anything history related including time slip, romance, alternative, YA, fantasy... Any of the crossovers are fine.

Heather Campbell-website: The Maidens Court  
Interviews Hist-fic and any subgenres and non-fiction

Magdalena Johansson-website: It's A Mad Mad World  
Interviews all genres except romance, YA and Children

Colleen Turner-website: A Literary Vacation  
Interviews for historical fiction or literary fiction.

Team Leader: Stephanie Hopkins-website: Layered Pages    
Interviews in all genres promoted by indieBRAG 

All interviews will be promoted via social media.

If you are interested an interview with our team, contact

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Current Reads For This Week

So far this year, I have read five books. I seem to be flying through them! A sign of great reads and a wonderful start to another year of reading. The two books I posted about previously were great and I will be posting my reviews for them soon on my WordPress. Be sure to check that site regularly for those reviews and other posts.
This week I am working my way through two book and will probably be starting on a third this coming weekend. Not sure which one yet though. Here are the two listed I am reading right now.

Expected publish date: Feb 1, 2016

When AP political reporter Lorena Hickok—Hick—is assigned to cover Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1932 presidential campaign, the two women become deeply involved. Their relationship begins with mutual romantic passion, matures through stormy periods of enforced separation and competing interests, and warms into an enduring, encompassing friendship documented by 3300 letters.

Set during the chaotic years of the Great Depression, the New Deal, and the Second World War, Loving Eleanor reveals Eleanor Roosevelt as a complex, contradictory, and entirely human woman who is pulled in many directions by her obligations to her husband and family and her role as the nation's First Lady. Hick is an accomplished journalist, who, at the pinnacle of her career, gives it all up for the woman she loves. Then, as Eleanor is transformed into Eleanor Everywhere, First Lady of the World, Hick must create her own independent, productive life. Loving Eleanor is a profoundly moving novel that illuminates a relationship we are seldom privileged to see, celebrating the depth and durability of women's love.

Expected publish date: January 26, 2016

Set against the dazzling backdrop of Golden Age Hollywood, novelist Anne Girard tells the enchanting story of Jean Harlow, one of the most iconic stars in the history of film.

It's the Roaring Twenties and seventeen-year-old Harlean Carpenter McGrew has run off to Beverly Hills. She's chasing a dream;to escape her small, Midwestern life and see her name in lights.In California, Harlean has everything a girl could want;a rich husband, glamorous parties, socialite friends;except an outlet for her talent. But everything changes when a dare pushes her to embrace her true ambition :to be an actress on the silver screen. With her timeless beauty and striking shade of platinum-blond hair, Harlean becomes Jean Harlow. And as she's thrust into the limelight, Jean learns that this new world of opportunity comes with its own set of burdens. Torn between her family and her passion to perform, Jean is forced to confront the difficult truth;that fame comes at a price, if only she's willing to pay it. Amid a glittering cast of ingenues and Hollywood titans: Clara Bow, Clark Gable, Laurel and Hardy, Howard Hughes, Platinum Doll introduces us to the star who would shine brighter than them all.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

So Many Books...So Little Time...

Today and yesterday, I have posted two book reviews on my WordPress! Go check it out.

Currently reading for review:

In a world torn apart by economic collapse, Natalie and her husband Richard have established an island of relative safety on a communal farm. But farm politics and the constant grind of survival expose the rifts in Natalie and Richard’s marriage. In a lawless land with no shortage of suffering, who determines what is right and just…when the stakes are survival?

Worn down by Richard’s burning ambitions, chronic insensitivity, and kill-or-be-killed attitude, Natalie seeks refuge in the company of Richard’s twin, Daniel, a solitary man with little interest in politics. Daniel can’t offer Natalie the same privilege and stature in the farm community as his brother, and leaving Richard could upset the delicate social balance on the farm—but Daniel may just give Natalie a chance at love.

Richard, intent on staging a triumphant return to provincial politics with his wife and children at his side, refuses to give up Natalie so easily; and Daniel, used to subsuming his own interests to those of his twin, must decide if he is willing to fight for the woman he wants.

When people dying from a potentially new and virulent form of influenza arrive seeking help, Natalie, Richard, and Daniel must each map the boundaries of their own loyalties and morality. In the Shadows of the Mosquito Constellation is a story of adventure, politics, and love in a brave new world where the rules have both changed, and stayed the same.

Will be getting to next:

Pub Date: Jan 25, 2016

Wanted: Governess. Properly qualified in English, to instruct male pupil in rural location.

Sydney, 1902. Desperate for a job, Kate Courtney travels to the faraway New England Ranges to interview for a governess position. She is greeted by wealthy landowner, ruggedly handsome Tom Fortescue, and is shocked to find that her new charge isn’t a small boy—but the grown man.

It was Tom’s mother’s dying wish that he find a refined, elegant, English bride to marry. But a country man with country manners can never win a lady fair. Tom needs Kate to smooth away his rough edges, make him desirable to the English rose he wants to marry

But the more time Kate and Tom spend together, the closer they become, and Tom has to decide between the dreams of his childhood, and the reality that is right in front of him.

What are you currently reading? Do share! 


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Calling all authors!! The Maiden’s Court is looking for guest post submissions.

Heather is looking to reinvigorate a signature series that she has featured at The Maiden’s Court with her own original content for several years and help you get the word out about your book at the same time. 

Do you have a historical event/person/argument in your WIP or new release that can be viewed from two different perspectives? Maybe a battle (Norman Conquest from perspective of Saxons and Normans) or a pretender to the throne (Was he Perkin Warbeck or the Duke of York?). Submit your idea for a guest post for the Two Sides to Every Story feature via email to! All that is asked is that the historical topic you choose be discussed from two different perspectives – any time period or part of the world is fine!  When the post goes live on The Maiden’s Court, it will also share any pertinent links you would like as well as highlight your release. 

For an excellent example of a previous Two Sides guest post, check out this one written for The Maiden's Court by Piers Alexander on William of Orange vs. James II

The Maiden’s Court

Twitter: @dolleygurl

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Secret Life of Winnie Cox By Sharon Maas

The Secret Life of Winnie Cox is probably going to be the most important review I write this year. The story has left such an impression on me. It has stirred up so many emotions in me of the brutality on humanity and how in our world often times more than not shows merciless and evil acts. This story also portrays courageous hearts and a will to survive in the bravest of people. Will my review do this book justice? I hope so. My emotions for this is really beyond words. I'm looking forward to turning this review in once I finish it.

My review will be posted at my WordPress at: 

Stephanie M. Hopkins 

Book description

1910, South America. A time of racial tension and poverty. A time where forbidden love must remain a secret.

Winnie Cox lives a privileged life of dances and dresses on her father’s sugar cane plantation. Life is sweet in the kingdom of sugar and Winnie along with her sister Johanna, have neither worries nor responsibilities, they are birds of paradise, protected from the poverty in the world around them.

But everything can change in a heartbeat ...

When Winnie falls in love with George Quint, the post-office boy, a ‘darkie’ from the other side, she soon finds herself slipping into a double life. And as she withdraws from her family, she discovers a shocking secret about those whom are closest to her. Now, more than ever, Winnie is determined to prove her love for George, whatever price she must pay and however tragic the consequences might be.

A breath-taking love story of two people fighting to be together, in a world determined to break them apart.