Painting of Sorrow by Virginia Winters

My guest this week is Virginia Winters. She was born in Arnprior, Ontario, Canada and raised in the Ottawa Valley. After high school in Renfrew, another Valley town, she went down to Queens to study medicine, graduating in 1970. Fellowship in Paediatrics followed, with graduation in 1976. Now retired, Virginia’s interests, besides writing, are genealogy, gardening, photography, and studying Italian.

I began Painting of Sorrow because I was interested in lost and destroyed paintings of WWII. Searching for paintings that could have been saved but were said not to be, brought me to the Flakturm Friedrichshain in Berlin, an anti-aircraft tower used to house a bomb shelter and a hospital as well as the paintings of the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum. More than four hundred paintings and three hundred sculptures were burned, stolen, or destroyed by bombs in the waning days of WWII. Did the Soviets loot the building before it burned? Or were some of the paintings stolen when the Soviet guards were inexplicably removed?

One such painting was called variously Portrait of Fillide or Portrait of a Courtesan, a work by Caravaggio. Client Simon Wolf brings a copy of the painting to be conserved by the firm where Sarah Downing works.

Is it a copy or an original? It’s Sarah job to conserve it but she wants to know the truth about the painting.

Sarah is a painter as well as an art conservator. Her mind reacts to situations, landscapes, and people by seeing paintings in her memory that describe them. Throughout the book, images of paintings also reflect her emotional state and her fears.

Early in the book, the director of the Art Gallery that is housed in the building where she works, frightens Sarah. Her mind brings up a picture of St. Jerome, an almost cadaveric man pictured in a desert, by Da Vinci. The taut skin of his face reveals the skull beneath.

Sarah escapes a killer with her friend Peg. On the way, they stop at a lookout over Mazinaw Lake. Casson painted the iconic Bon Echo Rock there.

Later, approaching the security of a remote cabin in rural Ontario, she sees the building as a painting by A. Y. Jackson, Settler’s Home and somehow felt safer, for the moment.

Her visions become darker and when she finds her new love Simon, beaten by her ex-husband, The Death of Marat by David, a nightmare of a painting intrudes on her thoughts. At the hospital, the controlled chaos of Emergency Room, by Fiona Rae reflects the roiling state of her emotions.

Much later, arriving to Simon’s home, afraid that all chance of a relationship with him has gone, she sees not his house, but Carl Schaefer’s Ontario Farmhouse, dark clouds looming over it, perhaps an omen for her future

I hope interested readers will search out the paintings mentioned in the book to gain a fuller understanding of Sarah and the events that changed her life.

You can find out more about Virginia here:

Find the Painting of Sorrow here:


Quest for Vengeance by David Tindell

My guest blogger this week is David Tindell, author of Quest for Vengeance. Born in Germany and raised in southern Wisconsin, David Tindell embarked on a 20-year career in broadcasting before transitioning to the U.S. government and finally resuming his writing career. Today he lives in a log home on a lake in the northwest corner of Wisconsin with his wife Sue, a Yorkie and a Siamese. Tindell’s first novel, “Revived,” was published in 2000.       Wanda DeHaven Pyle 

            On our honeymoon, my wife and I visited an exotic island. We had a great time as we celebrated the beginning of our new life together. Everything went well.

But suppose it hadn’t? Suppose something had gone wrong? And not just lost-a-suitcase, bad-sunburn wrong? What if my bride suddenly turned up…gone?

In Quest for Vengeance, it’s a year after the events of Quest for Honor, and brothers Mark and Jim Hayes are with their new brides on a honeymoon tour of Italy, the native country of Jim’s wife, Gina. The violence and danger of their recent past is behind them. In the city of Capua, a chance encounter with an old Army buddy of Mark’s leads to a festive reunion. While the guys swap stories at a trattoria, the gals make one last visit to the city’s boutiques. But there’s been one more chance encounter on this trip, and now that’s about to turn into the greatest challenge the brothers have ever faced.

Like the Hayes brothers, I grew up in Wisconsin, and like them, my two brothers and I wound up living considerable distances apart. Although we were never estranged, as Mark and Jim were, not being able to see them often created a distance between us that no amount of phone calls or emails could close. It’s only been in recent years that we have made efforts to get together more often. Our reunions have not been as dramatic as those of the Hayes brothers; we go to ballgames and museums, while Mark and Jim go to war.

Still, I don’t think what happens to Mark and Jim in the Quest novels is too much of a stretch. Mark’s military experiences are certainly not outside the realm of those for many of our soldiers, and while Jim’s encounters are somewhat out of the ordinary for the average American abroad, I myself have once or twice had situations overseas that could’ve developed into something a little too adventurous for my taste. Last summer, for example, Sue and I hiked the Salkantay Trail of Peru, and we never saw the armed guerillas our guide told us he faced on the same trek a few years earlier. But I had the feeling they weren’t too far away.

If something like that does happen to us, though, we can only hope we will face the situation with courage and honor. These are traits that are not inborn; they are learned, through dedication and self-discipline. Both the Quest series and my White Vixen novels feature protagonists who exemplify those traits. Yes, my fictional creations are highly-trained individuals, but they are not superheroes by any means. They are ordinary people who have chosen to train themselves to face whatever extraordinary challenges may come their way; indeed, to seek them out. Most of all, they have chosen to serve a higher calling. I don’t believe we were put here to simply meander through life. We were put here to strive, to achieve, to overcome our inevitable stumbles. When we choose this life, we are taking on challenges that will make our communities, our country, our world, a better place.

So come along with Mark and Jim, as they embark on their latest Quest. You can find the book here:


Interview with Joan Livingston

Author Name: Joan Livingston

Book Title: Chasing the Case

Genre: Mystery

My guest this week is Joan Livingston, an award-winning journalist and author of novels for adult and young readers. Chasing the Case, published by Crooked Cat Books, is her first mystery and the first in a series featuring Isabel Long, a longtime journalist who becomes an amateur P.I. Her other novels include The Sweet Spot; Peace, Love, and You Know What; and The Cousins and the Magic Fish/Los Primos y el Pez Mágico.

Hello, thank you for agreeing to this interview.

Thank you, Wanda, for hosting me!

  • Tell us a little about yourself and your background? I grew up beside the ocean in Massachusetts, where my grandparents arrived from the Azores and Madeira islands. I was the first of my family to graduate from college. After a 25-year writer’s block while I mothered six kids, I finally broke it by becoming a reporter for the hill towns of Western Massachusetts. That launched a thirty-plus year career as a journalist. Most recently, I was the managing editor of The Taos News, which won many awards at the national and state level during my tenure. After eleven years in Northern New Mexico, my husband, Hank, and I recently returned to Western Massachusetts, which is the setting for most of my adult fiction. By the way, I started writing fiction when I became an editor. Reporting is tough work. I have finished a slew of novels for adult and young readers, many of them as yet unpublished.
  • Discuss your newest book. Chasing the Case is the first in the Isabel Long mystery series. Isabel is a long-time journalist who becomes an amateur P.I. after she gets canned from her job as a newspaper’s managing editor. Her first mystery is solving a woman’s disappearance from a town of a thousand people 28 years earlier. Isabel lives there. It was also her first big story as a rookie reporter. She has the time and a Watson — her 92-year-old mother who lives with her. The official launch is May 18 but you can pre-order the Kindle version on Amazon and purchase the paperback now. Here is the link:
  • What inspired you to write your first book? My first book actually hasn’t been published along with several others. It’s what I would call rural literary fiction. I took what I knew about the hill towns of Western Massachusetts and had my way with it. Chasing the Case is my first mystery. I am surprised how much I enjoy writing this genre.
  • Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? It’s the end of a bad year for Isabel Long. First her husband dies and then she loses her job managing a newspaper. She is ready for a change, and she figures she could use the skills she had as a journalist to solve a missing persons case that has gone unsolved for 28 years. She is sassy, smart, and stubborn, which are admirable traits for an amateur P.I. Plus she is Portuguese (her maiden name was Ferreira) in what is truly Yankee territory. Part of her new life is tending bar part-time at the local watering hole. She has an ulterior motive: many of those involved in the case hang out there. Although the story is fictional, I will admit there is a lot of me in Isabel.
  • What is the hardest thing about writing? What is the easiest thing about writing? The hardest? Right now, finding enough time to write. The easiest? Just letting the words flow.
  • What does your writing process look like? I tend to write early in the morning — or any time during the day when I have a free moment. I sit at my laptop and just let it go. However, there are times in the day and night that I will think about a scene I’m working on — say when I am doing a mindless chore or just before I fall asleep.
  • What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Gardening, hiking, and spending time with family and friends in whatever order that comes.
  • From where do you gain your inspiration? Without sounding like a complete nut, writing is telepathic for me. But then there is rewriting. It’s kind of like taking up a good daydream and making it better.
  • What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around? Ah, there is writing and the business of writing. I’ve had two agents and let them both go when they didn’t deliver. It was difficult to find another agent or a publishing house. I wish I had a buck for every time I got that “not the right match for us.” Or for the agents or publishers who didn’t bother replying. I would be a wealthy woman. I tried self-publishing, but felt I couldn’t reach readers effectively. Fortunately, I now have a publisher, Crooked Cat Books, which has an international group of authors.
  • How do you market your books? Why did you choose this route? I am learning as much as I can about marking via social media and practicing it via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Litsy. As my publisher suggests, my posts are 80 percent about my observations and 20 percent about the book. Seeing tweets that constantly say, “buy my book” is a turnoff for me anyways and as I found, not an effective way to promote one’s work no matter how many Twitter followers a promotional company has. I will be appearing on many blogs and websites in a variety of formats. (I am grateful for the invitations.) Then there are local appearances.
  • What are your views on social media for marketing? It is a way to reach readers, especially those who prefer eBooks. I just joined Litsy, which focuses on authors and readers.
  • Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future? I have found there are a number of people who are more than willing to take your money to promote your book with little return.
  • What do you do to get book reviews? I ask nicely. With the launch of Chasing the Case, I might begin begging.
  • What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Write and read what others write. Repeat often.
  • How can readers discover more about you and your work? I post regularly on my website Then there is a variety of social media ; Twitter @joanlivingston ; ; Litsy JoanLivingston

Thank you for taking the time to chat with me. I look forward to reading your latest work.

Wanda DeHaven Pyle