I’m Claire Fullerton, the traditionally published author of Little Tea, Mourning Dove, Dancing to an Irish Reel, and A Portal in Time. I also have a novella titled, Through an Autumn Window, which is included in the book, A Southern Season: Scenes from a Front Porch Swing. I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee and now live in Malibu, California.
# What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?
There are no “real-life” stories in my novels, though I draw from a strong sense of place and am inspired by people and events I know.
# What inspires/inspired your creativity?
People are always my inspiration, My last two novels are set in the Deep South, and the South has such wonderfully colorful characters that are part and parcel to the Southern culture. I think all stories happen because of the people involved, so my inspiration comes from simply paying attention to people’s mannerisms, the stories they tell, and their way with words.
In the colorful artistic underworld off-Broadway, Cammie, a dancer in her mid-thirties, has just landed her first part in a show since coming to New York City. Yet the tug of familial obligation and the guilt of what she sacrificed to be there weigh down her dancing feet. Her lover, Tom, an older piano player, came to the city as a young man in the 1980s with a story eerily in tune with Cammie’s own. Through their triumphs and failures, both learn the fleeting nature of glory, the sweetness of new love, and how a dream come true isn’t cherished until it passes. The bright lights of the stage intoxicate, while degradation and despair lurk close behind the curtain. Their sagas are marred by two pandemics, AIDS in the 1980s and COVID-19 today, which ravaged the performing arts community, leaving a permanent scar on those who lived through them. The poignant intersection of their stories reveals a love affair unbound by time, reaching across decades through the notes of a piano’s remembered song.
My Book Review:
In Gregory Phillips dynamic novel, A Season in Lights, the city of New York is in a constant state of becoming as seen from the perspective of two artists: a stary-eyed dancer named Cammie, come to the city from Lancaster, Pennsylvania in search of Broadway, and Tom, a black piano player from the mean streets of the Bronx, seeking a career as a classical pianist against all odds.
In language as fluid and graceful as the performers portrayed in alternating chapters, A Season in Lights beckons the reader to New York City’s inner sanctum. The atmosphere is electric, it glows and pulses with vibrancy, and Cammie, a ballet dancer and divorcee in her mid-thirties, sees the opportunity to dance on Broadway as her life’s second chance. Through a Times Square cab window, Cammie remarks, “I eagerly looked out at the neon glow and bustle of activity. The lights! Their glow had lured me here. The stage lights made me feel alive again.”
Tom, grounded and practical, knows a bit about life’s underbelly having witnessed the mistakes his hoodlum brother made. He takes a job as a ballet studio’s accompanist and plays it safe while keeping his eye out for classical opportunities. The ballet master takes Tom aside and insightfully says of New York City, “You get to choose your class here. It’s not determined by your upbringing. It doesn’t matter that you’re black or that I’m gay. It doesn’t even matter how much money you have. All you’ve got to do is convince people that you belong. You’ve got to tell them who you are before they tell you.”
A Season in Lights is a layered story. As the main characters struggle to actualize their dreams, each has a backstory to surmount. Small town girl Cammie feels guilty about moving to New York and abandoning her younger sister. She is prone to depression and torn over family obligations, on the fence about where to plant her roots. Of New York’s many merits, Cammie, on a visit back home, says to her sister, “What’s so wonderful about people in New York is that they’re all doing something. Nobody’s in New York by accident, not even people who were born there. Being there takes effort and purpose.” In considering her options of whether to stay in the city or move back home, Cammie realizes, “Ultimately, a good life for a dancer in New York would amount to scraping by and enjoying it.”
Tom, dutiful to his mother, is entrusted with his unpredictable brother’s safe keeping, even as his sibling plays too close to the edge. When push comes to shove, Tom prioritizes, and eventually finds the courage to save himself by walking away from his brother’s drug-related troubles.
What’s so compelling about this well-written New York set story is how well the author knows the city. The reader is taken to restaurants via hidden alleys, guided down side streets for late-night jazz, and taken into celebrated theatres both on Broadway and off. Author Gregory Phillips knows ballet positions and accurately speaks the language. When it comes to music, the writing is such that you can hear the compositions.
A Season in Lights is a modern day, tightly crafted story concerning artists living in the heartbeat of the fabled Big Apple. It’s a human story about passion and ambition; a fantastic foray that explores the myth and magic of New York City.
The author, Gregory Phillips
From a prolific literary family, Gregory Erich Phillips tells aspirational stories through strong, relatable characters that transcend time and place. Living in Seattle, Washington, he is also an accomplished tango dancer and musician.
My favorite Podcast is Charlotte Readers Podcast, hosted by Landis Wade, an author himself and “a recovering trial lawyer” who encourages authors to read and talk about their award-winning, published, and emerging works. This is the show where host, Landis Wade, visits with local, regional, national and international authors who read and discuss their work. The Charlotte Readers Podcast mission is to help authors give voice to their written words for listeners who love good books.
Host Landis Wade of The Charlotte Readers Podcast
The podcast’s community blog is populated with readerly and writerly content offered by talented writers. It contains nuggets of wisdom for readers and writers.
This week, I contribute to their Community Voices Blog with a short post about how I became a writer, and the link to the blog post, titled, There Is no There to Get to, is here:
Charlotte Readers Podcast wants to hear YOUR voice! Charlotte Readers Podcast is so grateful for the love writers are showing our blog, Community Voices, where we invite writers to submit their readerly and writerly voices to be featured on our website. The submission guidelines are simple, but must be followed for consideration. Read our latest posts, learn more about what we’re looking for, and submit your writing for consideration on our website: https://linktr.ee/CharlotteReadersPodcast
Here’s the Link to The Charlotte Readers Podcast Website:
“In lively, descriptive language, Dianna Rostad has penned a heart-warming, epic story built on the premise of a search for belonging that reads as an odyssey in all that it takes to find the heart of one’s family.”
A sweeping, atmospheric story set in cattle country, Bull Mountain, Montana, You Belong Here Now is a heart-tugging, home on the range story told through a wide-view lens with panoramic perfection.
Author Dianna Rostad gives context for this enthralling story in her author’s note on page one: “From 1853 through the early 1900’s, The Children’s Aid Society in New York rescued over 120,000 orphans living on the city streets in the aftermath of war, Spanish Flu, and immigration. The orphan train carried them out to the rick soils of farms and ranches.”
Dianna Rostad was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. Her parents and extended family come from the ranches of Montana and the farms of Arkansas. Dianna raised three kind, human beings, and when they began to test their wings, she took to writing with a passion, completing Southern Methodist University Writer’s Path program in 2009. A favorite task of her creative endeavors is the discovery and research of people and places where her novels are set. She has traveled extensively to pursue the last artifacts of our shared history and breathe life, truth, and hope into her novels. Now living in Florida, Dianna continues to write big-hearted novels for wide audiences everywhere.
In this brilliant debut, three children take the orphan train from New York City to the Big Sky Country of Montana, hoping for a better life where beautiful wild horses roam free.
Montana: 1925. An Irish boy orphaned by Spanish flu, a tiny girl who won’t speak, and a volatile young man who lies about his age to escape Hell’s Kitchen, are paraded on train platforms across the Midwest to work-worn folks. They journey countless miles, racing the sun westward.
Before they reach the last rejection and stop, the oldest, Charles, comes up with a daring plan, and alone, they set off toward the Yellowstone River and grassy mountains where the wild horses roam.
Fate guides them toward the ranch of a family stricken by loss. Nara, the daughter of a successful cattleman, has grown into a brusque spinster who refuses the kids on sight. She’s worked hard to gain her father’s respect and hopes to run their operation, but if the kids stay, she’ll be stuck in the kitchen.
Nara works them without mercy, hoping they’ll run off, but they buck up and show spirit, and though Nara will never be motherly, she begins to take to them. So, when Charles is jailed for freeing wild horses that were rounded up for slaughter, and an abusive mother from New York shows up to take the youngest, Nara does the unthinkable, risking everything she holds dear to change their lives forever.
PRAISE FOR YOU BELONG HERE NOW
“Dianna Rostad has written a story in a narrative voice so fine and true it settles over you like a warm comforter. Set against the harsh backdrop of western Montana, You Belong Here Now is a novel as straightforward and powerful as the characters who populate it. I love this book, and I guarantee you won’t find a finer debut work anywhere.” William Kent Krueger, New York Times bestselling author of This Tender Land
“From the moment the reader steps on the train with these orphaned children, You Belong Here Now shows how beauty can emerge from even the darkest places.” Erika Robuck, bestselling author of Hemingway’s Girl
“Rostad has successfully crafted a heartwarming, unflinching story of orphans, family, and horses, wrought in finely chiseled prose. Timeless, irresistible, You Belong Here Now, set in the wild grasslands of Montana, is for fans of Orphan Train and all of us who long for acceptance. A brilliant debut!” Weina Dai Randel, award-winning author of The Moon in the Palace
“Rostad’s bighearted debut is full of surprises, and warm with wisdom about what it means to be family.” Meg Waite Clayton, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Train to London
Congratulations to Author/Artist G. Claire on Dreaming in a Time of Dragons!
-When is a dragon not a dragon?-When is a prince not a prince?-When do you burn evidence of your royalty and run, disguised as a boy? Eva finds her royal birthright has come at a high price, one that could cost her life. In the middle of dark intrigue, she must decide what to do: Trust the words of a mysterious traveler; or stay in the castle, hoping to restore the ruined Kingdom of Dunmoor. She knows one day she must face a danger sprung to life from the most frightening tale she knows . . . or forever be looking over her shoulder. Her choice means everything. For her. For the Kingdom. This story is stitched between the lines of supernatural realism, with medieval fairytale underpinnings.
I Love This Photograph of G. Claire at work!
Born and raised in Florida, I have loved writing and drawing since I held the first crayon and decorated our living room wall. My parents quickly realized I would need large paper and supervision – and lots of both.
I grew up, married, and moved to Atlanta. There, working as an artist/illustrator, my work was published and bought by private and corporate collectors.
Later, during my career as an art teacher for middle-grade and high school students, I felt the tug to write. After going to seminars and devouring books on the craft of writing, I took the plunge and joined a writers’ group. Creating new worlds and characters to inhabit them is now my place of bliss.
* * *
Claire currently lives in the metro Atlanta area with her husband, and is working on Dreaming in a Time of Dragons, an epic adventure.
Reviews: I cannot remember my kids not I bring this enthralled in a book as much as we were this one. Ever. We struggled to stop reading every night and go to bed at a decent time, we couldn’t put it down. My daughter says she’s never envisioned anything in her imagination like she did while listening to me read this aloud. The author isn’t only an artist with images but also with words, invoking such beautiful imagery in the imagination. The good messages learned through this adventure are so beautifully and powerfully interwoven into the story. Learning to trust God, listen to intuition/the voice, bravery and forgiveness…there’s so much I could say but don’t want to spoil it. We are EAGERLY awaiting the next book and will probably reread this one while we wait. My daughter has been telling all her friends about it and how they HAVE to read it.
I loved this book! It was a great escape from all that’s going on in our world today. This book spans generations where pre-teen, teen, and adults alike will all enjoy this book! You can even read it to your children! It’s worth your time! Plus, I love the fact that the author also did the drawings and cover! She is multi-talented! Don’t hesitate to buy and read it!
I loved this book!! It was recommended to me, and now my niece is reading it. The chapters are short and story moves quickly. I liked the mystery and than the discovery of plot line. It was so clever. The drawings in it were also very well done. I could easily see this been made into a movie…I really look forward to that!
Congratulations to Barbara Linn Probst on the release of her second novel! The Sound Between the Notes releases today!
What if you had a second chance at the very thing you thought you’d renounced forever? How steep a price would you be willing to pay? Susannah’s career as a pianist has been on hold for nearly sixteen years, ever since her son was born. An adoptee who’s never forgiven her birth mother for not putting her first, Susannah vowed to put her own child first, no matter what. And she did. But now, suddenly, she has a chance to vault into that elite tier of “chosen” musicians. There’s just one problem: somewhere along the way, she lost the power and the magic that used to be hers at the keyboard. She needs to get them back. Now. Her quest―what her husband calls her obsession―turns out to have a cost Susannah couldn’t have anticipated. Even her hand betrays her, as Susannah learns that she has a progressive hereditary disease that’s making her fingers cramp and curl―a curse waiting in her genes, legacy of a birth family that gave her little else. As her now-or-never concert draws near, Susannah is catapulted back to memories she’s never been able to purge―and forward, to choices she never thought she would have to make. Told through the unique perspective of a musician, The Sound Between the Notes draws the reader deep
Like her award-winning debut, Queen of the Owls (six awards and counting), The Sound Between the Notes is about a woman’s search for identity, authenticity, and belonging—but this time, the story is told through the unique perspective of a musician.
The Sound Between the Notes has been called powerful, riveting, gorgeously written, “a breathtaking emotional journey,” and a compulsive page-turner that’s impossible to put down. In its highly-coveted starred review, given only to books “of remarkable merit,” Kirkus has called it “a tour de force steeped in suspense … a sensitive, astute exploration of artistic passion, family, and perseverance.”
Praise for The Sound Between the Notes:
“The climax, on the night of her performance, is a tour de force steeped in suspense … A sensitive, astute exploration of artistic passion, family, and perseverance.” — Kirkus Reviews “The Sound Between the Notes is so beautiful, so lyrical, so musical that it was hard to put down…This is a wonderful story from a skillful writer, one that appeals strongly to the heart. It features awesome characters, a twisty plot, and gorgeous writing.”
Readers Favorite, 5-star review “In her second novel, Barbara Linn Probst delivers yet another powerful story, balancing lyrical language with a skillfully paced plot to build a sensory-rich world that will delight those who loved Queen of the Owls and win countless new readers. Offering a deep exploration of the search for identity and connection, The Sound Between Notes reminds us to embrace everything we are—and everything that’s made us who we are.”
Julie Cantrell, New York Times and USA TODAY best-selling author of Perennials “Beautifully told, The Sound Between the Notes, is the story of tragedy and triumph, of the push and pull of family, of the responsibility we feel to ourselves and those we love. Once I started the book, I couldn’t put it down until I reached the last, gorgeously written note.”
Loretta Nyhan, author of The Other Family and Amazon charts best-seller Digging In Family ties can bind or blind us—even with relatives we’ve never met. In The Sound Between the Notes, trails of music connect generations separated by adoption—while the same notes threaten a family believed sewn with steel threads. In this spellbinding novel, Barbara Linn Probst examines how the truth of love transcends genetics, even as strands of biology grip us. Once you begin this story, suffused with the majesty of music and the reveries of creation, the ‘gotta know’ will carry you all the way to the final note.
Randy Susan Meyers, International Bestselling Author of Waisted and The Comfort of Lies “As soaring as the music it so lovingly describes, poignantly human, and relatab
Barbara Linn Probst
Barbara Linn Probst is a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, living on an historic dirt road in New York’s Hudson Valley. Her debut novel, Queen of the Owls, (April 2020) is the story of a woman’s search for wholeness, framed around the art and life of iconic American painter Georgia O’Keeffe. Queen of the Owls won the bronze medal for popular fiction from the Independent Publishers Association, placed first runner-up in general fiction for the Eric Hoffer Award, was short-listed for the First Horizon and the $2500 Grand Prize, and is currently a finalist for the Sarton Award for women’s fiction as well as the Somerset Award for literary and contemporary fiction. Barbara’s second novel The Sound Between the Notes, recipient of starred Kirkus Review for work “of remarkable merit,” launches in April 2021.
Barbara has a PhD in clinical social work and blogs for several award-winning sites for writers. To learn more about Barbara and her work, visit barbaralinnprobst.com. You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram.
To order The Sound Between the Notes, please go to Amazon or the links on her website
Author Website here:
I’m with Barbara Linn Probst at The Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend in Jefferson, Texas! The biggest book club convention in the world!
“Surviving Savannah is an epic novel that explores the metal of human spirit in crisis. It is an expertly told, fascinating story that runs fathoms deep on multiple levels.”
Fate, chance, choices, and destiny are mere concepts until an inspired author comes along and depicts the essence of each through the power of story. Patti Callahan has done just that in her widely anticipated Surviving Savannah. The New York Times bestselling author sets historical fiction’s stage in a mahogany paneled library before a roaring fire, where six- and eight-year-old sisters, Everly and Allyn Winthrop, sit at their pipe-smoking grandfather’s knee, while he spins yet another fantastic version of the ill-fated, steamship, Pulaski. Haunting imagery of the Pulaski looms in the family’s multi-generational, Georgian style house on Savannah’s historic Jones Street: “Above the fireplace hung an oil painting of a lustrous steamship with its sails spread wide and its wheels churning the water into whipped foam, the sky clear and bluer than the sea as human figures on the deck regarded the vast sea.”
It was called “The Titanic of the South.” The luxury steamship sank in 1838 with Savannah’s elite on board; through time, their fates were forgotten—until the wreck was found, and now their story is finally being told in this breathtaking novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Becoming Mrs. Lewis.
Patti Callahan Henry is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of sixteen novels and podcast host. She is the recipient of The Christy Award — A 2019 Winner “Book of the Year”; The Harper Lee Distinguished Writer of the Year for 2020 and the Alabama Library Association Book of the Year for 2019. She is the co-host and co-creator of the popular weekly online Friends and Fiction live web show and podcast. A full-time author and mother of three children, she now resides in both Mountain Brook, Alabama, and Bluffton, South Carolina with her husband.
You’ll see in this photographs that I’m standing against a gray stone wall on a windswept day in the middle of an Irish field, with what are obviously the ruins of a monastery behind me.
Observant people might ask why the monastery is behind me, and I am holding a set of keys in my hand as if it were the bigger focal point. Here’s the story.
We kind of knew where we were heading, my friend Tama and I, and by this I mean we had a loose plan with regard to how we were going to spend the afternoon in Gort, Ireland. We’d been freewheeling across the countryside in a rented car the size of a match box, with its steering wheel on the right side, while we drove on the left of the two-lane road as if trying to best a test for dyslexia. Tama is a devout Catholic, who has a thing about historic churches, which is why we couldn’t have adhered to a plan had we had one. “Stop,” Tama would shout every time we spied one of the dim, ominous structures off in the distance. We’d scratch the gravel driveway and wander inside, our solitary footsteps crossing the marble floor in a tread- ye- lightly and humble yourself echo off the cavernous vaulted ceiling. We did this so many times that after yet another sweep inside a church, I’d take to wandering the halcyon graveyards to read the Irish tombstone inscriptions, while Tama would light a red votive candle and fall to her pious knees.
I thought I was alone in the yard when a voice came sailing from behind me. “Have you found your way to Kilmacduagh monastery?” it queried. I turned to find a young woman taking in my outlander attire of three quarter down jacket and rubber soled shoes. “It’s just up the road there,” she continued, pointing. “Just knock on the door of the middle house across the road and ask Lily for the keys.”
I was standing behind Tama when she knocked on the front door of a low slung house on a sparsely populated lane. Across the lane, placid fields of damp clover shimmered in the afternoon mist as far as the eye could see. On one verdant field, a series of interspersed ruins jutted in damp metal-gray; some without roofs, some with wrought-iron gates, and one in particular beside an impressively tall stone spire, which had two windows cut in vertical slashes above a narrow door raised high from the ground.
Immediately the front door opened, and a pair of blue water eyes gave us the once over with an inquisitive, “Yes?””Are you Lily? We’re here for the keys,” Tama said.”The keys, is it? Just a moment there,” the woman said, and after closing the door, she opened it seconds later and handed us a set of long metal keys. “Just slip them through the door slot when you’re through,” she said, closing the door with a quick nod.I can’t say there was any indication of which key went to what, among the cluster of gates and doors throughout the 7th century monastery called Kilmacduagh, but we figured it out. I was so tickled over the keys that I couldn’t get over it. “Is this weird?” I said to Tama. “We could be anybody. It’s not that there’s anything anybody could steal, but that’s not the point.” I could wax rhapsody over the hours we spent unlocking gates and pushing through doors in the eerie, hallowed grounds, but that’s not my point either. My point is that’s Ireland for you: a stranger offering directions without being asked, Lily handing over the keys like an afterthought, and Tama and I trolling the grounds of sacred space when nobody else was around. But suddenly a German couple appeared as we were on our way back up the lane. They looked at us wide eyed and queried, “What is this place?”
“It’s a 7th century monastery,” I said, “here, take the keys and slip them through Lily’s door when you’re through.”
An unprecedented, live event will take place on Sunday, March 14 from 8:00 AM Eastern Standard Time on Facebook. 8 Book Pages will coordinate to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and the idea is for attendees to join the group pages ahead of time then hop from page to page as events happen! You can see the Book Pages here, at the right of the image below.
I will have the great pleasure of being “in conversation” with my favorite author, Billy O’Callaghan, who hails from Douglas, County Cork, Ireland, and who is the author of 4 short story collections and 3 novels, his latest being the newly released, Life Sentences, which I loved!
The Irish Echo released the article below yesterday. Below the image is the actual link!
I’m delighted to be a part of the Women in Publishing Summit. It’s the first online writing and publishing conference dedicated to women, the Women in Publishing Summit is the biggest online conference for women in publishing, featuring over 70 authors, publishers, editors, graphic artists, marketers, book sellers, mindset coaches, & more!
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