Tag: Blank Slate Press

Author Interview featuring the debut war drama “Royal Beauty Bright” (A Novel of WWI) by Ryan Byrnes

Posted Friday, 8 November, 2019 by jorielov , , , 1 Comment

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Good afternoon, dear hearts!

I read a very stirring war drama set against the back-drop of WWI this week, wherein it hinges itself to the very real Christmas miracle those men experienced during the first Christmas season of the war. It has become a story etched through various outlets of how a story can be told – from novels to films, but Byrnes took a new approach – where he placed a man with special needs (he has Autism) on the front lines and showed how sometimes in the middle of a war, the people you grew up with in a small community might hold the keys to your survival.

Today, I am warmly welcoming this debut Historical Fiction novelist to my blog, as I had some questions to ask him about his writing craft and the story itself. I wanted to find out a few details ‘behind the debut’ which might also be of interest to my readers and those visitors who are following the blog tour route – to see what has inspired this story to be told in the way it was published. It was a rather unique read – you find yourself shifting points of view from the past when Luther was growing up with Rodney to the present, where they are in the height of the conflict in No Man’s Land.

It is gruelingly realistic from that perspective but Byrnes tempers what he visually shows you with the humanistic side of how brother to brother, those men helped each other through the worst of it. It is a character driven plot and you find yourself drawn into how their lives have remained interconnected despite the fact they each have grown up into their lives and careers.

To shift the perspective off the battlefield – Byrnes hugged us close to those who were living outside the battles but were closer still to the war than we were stateside. These were the families left behind in the ruts of what was left behind to be found in the townes, cities and harbours where supplies could be loaded and unloaded; where replacements could be housed or routed through – where everyday life was half stalled due to the war and progressively moving forward all the same. Byrnes gives out the smaller details – of how these communities had to harden themselves against the war itself and of making their children feel less fearful of the changes – as they constantly had to re-direct their focus and attention off what was happening round them into something resembling the normalcy their lives had lost. It was a humbling moment where a writer offset the front by showing what ordinary Mums and grandmothers were doing to do their bit in keeping the younger generations shielded as best they could be from the realities crowding into their childhoods.

The best moment I felt where Byrnes showed how Mums raising special needs children assert their power and strength to those in authority who do not respect them is how Mrs Baker (Luther and Jim’s Mum) gave that Doctor a bit of a run for his money! I would have hoped it would have affected his approach to his doctoring of others but something told me he was as closed minded as they come and given the era he lived, it might be expected but it is never easy to read.

The most gutting scene of course is what happened to Rodney in No Man’s Land and I was thankful for how Byrnes approached writing the scene itself. It could have become more visually graphic and more gruesome to read – but the way he depicted that incident – it was poetic in how it gave conscience thought to what your thinking about in those heightened moments of trauma and how if you were a person who felt obligated to protect someone – how in your own moment of crisis, your thoughts are not your own and there is something else protecting you from the pain which was surely buckling your resolve.

Rodney was raised in the same village as Luther – though the two were never quite close, their Mums were more distant themselves. Yet, here at war, Rodney had taken a kindness on Luther and had vowed to watch over the man – this is why this was difficult to read, as whenever you begin a war drama it is a bit like re-embarking through the Titanic exhibit – not knowing which ticket you’re holding in your hands – First Class or Third; what that foretells of your destiny had you been the person whose ticket is now yours for the day. You have to take it step by step and work through the story because that is what is pivotal – how everyone becomes connected to everyone else and how without understand the invisible lines which connect us, they are dearly important to respect.

The further you move into the context of Royal Beauty Bright the more you understand how this is a generational montage of persons who grew up in the same small community and found themselves at war at the same location of each other and all of them were inter-connected through Luther. They shared a similar history of knowledge of his character and in many ways, had interactions with him in a previous life before the war itself had overtaken their lives. In this regard, the novel is a time shift – where you move from the present moments at the front of the war itself and then you re-shift backwards by a few decades to reach into their past, to see how they first interacted with each other and how that laid down the foundation of how they would become reconnected in the future. To bridge into the theory that for every person you meet in life it is unknown whom of which might become the most important person you need to know lateron.

-quoted from my review of Royal Beauty Bright

As you can see, Byrnes has written a dramatic war drama which puts you close to the war but re-focuses your attention on the men and women who were directly afflicted by that war. It is also a partial Epistolary novel on the level that there are a healthy collection of letters and correspondences which are also important in the context of the story.

If you haven’t had the chance to read this novel, I am hopeful you might find interest in either what I’ve shared on my review and/or inside this insightful interview with the author. Be sure to brew yourself a cuppa and find a comfy chair to enjoy what we’ve conversed about in regards to “Royal Beauty Bright”!

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Author Interview featuring the debut war drama “Royal Beauty Bright” (A Novel of WWI) by Ryan ByrnesRoyal Beauty Bright
Subtitle: A Novel of World War I
by Ryan Byrnes

Genres: Historical Fiction, War Drama


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781943075607

Also by this author: Royal Beauty Bright

Published by Blank Slate Press

on 5th November, 2019

Pages: 304

Published by: Blank Slate Press (@blankslatepress)
an imprint of Amphorae Publishing (@amphoraepub)

Read the story behind this women and veteran owned publishing company

Converse via: #HistoricalFiction, #HistFic or #HistNov
+ #WWI war drama and  #HFVBTBlogTours

Available Formats: Trade paperback and Ebook

About Ryan Byrnes

Ryan Byrnes

Ryan Byrnes is a St. Louis native. His first foray into writing was founding the publishing imprint, Avency Press, where he wrote one illustrated chapter book, The Adventures of Wheatail, and four young adult fantasy novels in the Son of Time series.

Since then, he has worked with a publishing company, a literary agency, and various aspiring writers seeking to self-publish. Ryan now lives in Iowa as a student in mechanical engineering and English. Between work hours, he builds Mars Rovers with his roommates, plays with cats, and watches Wes Anderson movies.

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Posted Friday, 8 November, 2019 by jorielov in 20th Century, Blog Tour Host, During WWI, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, History, Mary Todd Lincoln, Military Families of the Deployed, Military Fiction, The World Wars, War Drama

Blog Book Tour (a pre-#blogmas Christmas Story) | “Royal Beauty Bright” (A Novel of WWI) by Ryan Byrnes

Posted Thursday, 7 November, 2019 by jorielov , , , 1 Comment

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By:

I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! HFVBTs is one of the very first touring companies I started working with as a 1st Year Book Blogger – uniting my love and passion with Historical Fiction and the lovely sub-genres inside which I love devouring.

It has been a wicked fantastical journey into the heart of the historic past, wherein I’ve been blessed truly by discovering new timescapes, new living realities of the persons who once lived (ie. Biographical Historical Fiction) inasmuch as itched my healthy appetite for Cosy Historical Mysteries! If there is a #HistRom out there it is generally a beloved favourite and I love soaking into a wicked wonderful work of Historical Fiction where you feel the beauty of the historic world, the depth of the characters and the joyfulness in which the historical novelists brought everything to light in such a lovingly diverse palette of portraiture of the eras we become time travellers through their stories.

I received a complimentary of “Royal Beauty Bright” direct from the publisher Blank Slate Press in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I wanted to read “Royal Beauty Bright”:

I cannot remember when I first stumbled across the story of the truce of 1914 – however, it left quite the impression on me throughout the years. I’ve continued to find stories rooted round this phenom of WWI as well as select films – one of which I believe was released in French, which was one reason why I haven’t yet seen it as I wasn’t sure how much I would understand. Though technically I do watch foreign language films (such as those in Mandarin or Italian) but in this particular instance, I sometimes find French harder to follow as it is a language which has quite the fast clip of a pace to listen too.

Aside from those murmurs of insight, I haven’t had any direct readings about this particular moment in history which left such an endurable impression on every generations since the war era ended. It was a moment in time which no one felt could happen and yet it did. It was proving in a very humbling way there was still a heap of humanity left on the battlefield and how in at times of war, people can surprise you by their actions and the choices they make together.

Several years ago now, I made the conscience choice to re-select war dramas I am reading anchoured more into a human interest story, a romantic arc or a mystery plotting than I would continue to seek out war dramas which are more directly connected to the battles themselves. A few might slip into my readerly queues but overall, stories like “Royal Beauty Bright” are tipping my hat of interest more due to their humbling glimpse into the human condition and the enduring strength of all of us who simply want to see peace flourish in our world.

The irony of course is that this particular novel does take you directly into the heart of the battlefield – straight into No Man’s Land no less and hugs you close to where you would find the men who were serving on the front lines. However, part of me felt this would be a good choice to tuck closer to the truth of the truce and to find out might have inspired the action to host a cease-fire at Christmas; as that is what has always interested me the most – how did they choose to do that and take inaction at Christmas despite orders to do the opposite?

What also stood out to me is this a narrative with an autistic lead character and a diversely unique cast behind him – which gave further gravity to the fact not all the stories are yet known or readily told. I wanted to read this to see what the author’s vision was for the setting, the historic event itself and how he elected to have his characters in the middle of it all tell us a story which would touch our hearts and enrich our mind with their presence. It was also a selection I felt fitting as the lead-in towards seeking out #ChristmasReads & #ChristmasRomances as I seek out holiday stories which speak to me this holiday season 2019.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Blog Book Tour (a pre-#blogmas Christmas Story) | “Royal Beauty Bright” (A Novel of WWI) by Ryan ByrnesRoyal Beauty Bright
Subtitle: A Novel of World War I
by Ryan Byrnes
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Genres: Historical Fiction, War Drama


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781943075607

Also by this author: Royal Beauty Bright

on 5th November, 2019

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 304

Published by: Blank Slate Press (@blankslatepress)
an imprint of Amphorae Publishing (@amphoraepub)

Read the story behind this women and veteran owned publishing company

Converse via: #HistoricalFiction, #HistFic or #HistNov
+ #WWI war drama and  #HFVBTBlogTours

Available Formats: Trade paperback and Ebook

About Ryan Byrnes

Ryan Byrnes

Ryan Byrnes is a St. Louis native. His first foray into writing was founding the publishing imprint, Avency Press, where he wrote one illustrated chapter book, The Adventures of Wheatail, and four young adult fantasy novels in the Son of Time series.

Since then, he has worked with a publishing company, a literary agency, and various aspiring writers seeking to self-publish. Ryan now lives in Iowa as a student in mechanical engineering and English. Between work hours, he builds Mars Rovers with his roommates, plays with cats, and watches Wes Anderson movies.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Thursday, 7 November, 2019 by jorielov in 20th Century, Blog Tour Host, During WWI, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, History, Mary Todd Lincoln, Military Families of the Deployed, Military Fiction, The World Wars, War Drama

+Blog Book Tour+ A Matter of Mercy by Lynne Hugo

Posted Tuesday, 30 September, 2014 by jorielov , , 1 Comment

Parajunkee Designs

A Matter of Mercy by Lynne Hugo
Published By: Blank Slate Press (@blankslatepress) | Blog
Official Author Websites:  Site | @LynneHugo| GoodReads | Facebook
Available Formats: Trade Paper

Converse via: #AMatterOfMercy

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Acquired Book By:

I was selected to be a tour stop on the “A Matter of Mercy” virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours. I received a complimentary ARC copy of the book direct from the publisher Blank Slate Press, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

+Blog Book Tour+ A Matter of Mercy by Lynne HugoA Matter of Mercy
by Lynne Hugo
Source: Direct from Publisher

Caroline Marcum thought she’d escaped the great mistake of her life by leaving Wellfleet harbor, but is forced to face it when she returns, reluctantly, to care for her dying mother. Ridley Neal put his past-and his prison term-behind him to return home to take over his father’s oyster and clam beds. Casual acquaintances long ago, when a nor’easter hits the coast, Rid and Caroline’s lives intersect once again. When Rid and two other sea farmers are sued by the wealthy owners of vacation homes who want to shut them down, and Caroline accidentally meets the person she most wronged, they each must learn to trust-and love.

Inspired by a 1996 lawsuit, A Matter of Mercy is a riveting novel about treasuring the traditional way of life in the shallows of beautiful Cape Cod bay by discovering where forgiveness ends. And where it begins.

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945)


Places to find the book:

Published by Blank Slate Press

on 1st August, 2014

Pages: 278

Author Biography:

Lynne Hugo

Lynne Hugo is a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship recipient who has also received grants from the Ohio Arts Council and the Kentucky Foundation for Women. She has published five previous novels, one of which became a Lifetime Original Movie of the Month, two books of poetry, and a children’s book. Her memoir, Where The Trail Grows Faint, won the Riverteeth Literary Nonfiction Book Prize. Born and educated in New England, she and her husband currently live in Ohio with a yellow Lab feared by squirrels in a three state area.

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My Review of A Matter of Mercy:

The pull of narrative evoking out of the initial chapters of A Matter of Mercy propell the reader into a haunting ether-world between reality and the expanse of the next life past the one we walk on Earth. The emotional tug of understanding a daughter is on the precipice of saying good-bye to her mother, whose walk is ending through cancer is magnified by the subtlety of the setting being as serene and calm as a whisper of hope. You walk straight into the anguish of near-loss, ebbing out of the shadows of a recovered life being lived first by the daughter and then by an unknown secondary character who alights unexpectedly across the page during a random visit to the beach. You gather a foreboding sense there is an enriched history within the pages of the novel – stemming out of the place it is set as much as the characters who occupy it’s heart.

Although I had known the story was etched out of a daughter watching over her dying mother’s last days, reading the emotional taut passages choked my mind with the despair and the distraught feelings Caroline was facing as she tried to be brave in the face of uncertainty. There is no guideline to follow when your loved one is terminally ill and her character is writ with realistic truth of how a daughter musters the strength to deal with the routine of caregiving and the fleeting worry of unspoken conversations which emerge out of the fog of morphine.

Whilst reading about the tenacity the shell fishermen curate out of the angst of breathing a living out of a gamble against stacked odds made me re-value the delicacy of seafood; wild, caught, and captured by those whose belief in their trade outweigh the logic of the tides. A living brokered against the will to survive on less than a living wage whilst building their harvest is the measure of true grit and true iron spirit of survival. I was quite impressed with the interworkings of the way in which all of this takes place just offshore and away from land and sand. An entire world of a hard-won livelihood barely known to those outside the place in which the world exists.

I struggled to put my finger on the tone of the novel – the elusive narrative tone guiding the story forward at first felt like reading a realistic interlude of one woman’s story being interrupted through grief. On the opposite hand it felt like a grueling realistic quick-paced exploit of a law pervading through the hardworking men and women who lived off the grants for fishing off the shores where private land owners were attempting to upsurge their claims. I am normally not one who appreciates blatant and raw narratives, and although there were elements within this story I could appreciate and alight inside, there were full chapters where I had wished the roughness was polished out a bit more.

This is a story that aches with raw emotional tides of upturnt lives and washes out against the backdrop of two lives coming together from opposite backgrounds. The sincerity of their relationship felt stilted to me, as if they were simply being together out of necessity rather than any sort of honest attraction or mirth of reconciling their past. I felt myself pulled in and out of the story as it  proceeded to shift forward as I couldn’t find an anchor to keep me rooted in caring about how their lives were either going to continue to spiral out of control or find a bearing to make things right for once in their lives. I think it would be best for a reader to pick this novel up who appreciates stories that are more brutal in honesty and raw in intensity; whereas I appreciate stories that are rounded out a bit more and where the climax doesn’t feel as overpowering.

A direct appreciation for dedicated research & how a writer enhances their story:

Lynne Hugo deserves to be commended for the level of research she conducted to breathe authenticity into A Matter of Mercy, as even without a direct point of reference to clarify a few images wrought out of the trade of shellfishing, what I was able to grasp was the hardened life of those who walked the shores hoping their traps would yield a harvest they could live on. The certainty of how the imbalance of variables they cannot control ultimately wreck their fates was even more wrenching than realising how much joy they have in their work. Farmers of all backgrounds (by sea or land) are at the mercy of nature and the endurable buoyancy of trust and belief in what their able to harvest out of their endurance. It is a novel which breeches past the plate of where their toils end and humanises the reality of where the delicacies are procured.

Fly in the Ointment:

There was an undercurrent of abrasive language edging around the dialogue of the story, a bit intermittent and a bit unexpected in where it alighted in the thread of the narrative itself, but a presence that I cannot say added to the story itself but rather was inserted here or there. The only time I felt it might have relevancy is when Caroline’s mother started to use certain expressions in her conversations with her daughter – but rather than blame it on her terminal illness, it was blamed on a divorce. I had heard that sometimes people can change their personalities due to medications and due to life altering illnesses, so for me that felt more apparent of why she suddenly changed her spots for language rather than merely living a life alone without her husband.

I felt the entire arc of the story was hinged by two lost souls who were attempting to repair the damage they wrought out of bad choices and the sins of wrongs they could never fully find forgiveness for as the aftereffects ran too deep. What I hadn’t sorted out is why their emotional baggage was dispersed with a bit of recklessness and without a consequence or an emotional response. When Caroline first started to tell Rid for instance how she caused the fatality which took the life of a child, I found his sudden exit out of the scene and out of the conversation a bit circumvent and convenient. I was expecting an emotional response not a grab my clothes and leave without any hint of what his reaction could have been; as if she hadn’t spoken anything gutting at all.

I also had a small issue with Rid’s name itself – Rid I am sure makes sense to some who read this story, but for me, it felt like an annoyance, as though he had half a name rather than full name? Short for Ridley I must say I preferred the fullness of his name over the shortened nickname.

This blog tour stop was courtesy of TLC Book Tours:

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “A Matter of Mercy”, author photograph, author biography, book synopsis and the tour badge were all provided by TLC Book Tours and used with permission. Blog Tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Bookish Events badge created by Jorie in Canva. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

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Posted Tuesday, 30 September, 2014 by jorielov in 20th Century, Aquaculture, ARC | Galley Copy, Based on an Actual Event &/or Court Case, Blog Tour Host, Cape Cod, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Fly in the Ointment, Geographically Specific, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Indie Author, Life Shift, Literary Fiction, Modern Day, Realistic Fiction, Terminal Illness &/or Cancer, TLC Book Tours, Vulgarity in Literature, Women's Health