Monday, August 8, 2022

NBTM Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway: Them Days by Glenn P. Booth

Welcome to my stop on the NBTM virtual book tour for Them Days by Glenn P. Booth. This book tour was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an excerpt from the book and a fascinating guest post from the author about his research process for the book. There's also the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $15 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more content. Enjoy!
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Title: Them Days
Author: Glenn P. Booth
Publisher: Tellwell Talent
Publication Date: April 22nd 2022
Print Length: 334 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
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Discrimination, war in Europe, a pandemic. . .

Sofiya, a young Ukrainian immigrant, experiences all of this and more. It could be 2022, but it's Manitoba in the early 1900s.

Sofiya is the third consecutive girl born on a poor homestead near Gimli in 1903. She is bright and feisty but nothing more is expected of her than to be a domestic, and at age thirteen she is sent to be a maid to a wealthy family in Winnipeg. There, she experiences the condescension of the English towards the 'Bohunks', while her half-brother is interned during WW1, deemed an enemy alien.

While the Great War is raging in Europe, an undeclared war between the classes is being fought at home. This conflict comes to a head in the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 when the working classes rise up against their English masters, shut down the city and demand a better deal. The city is divided and everyone must choose a side.

Them Days takes you on Sofiya's journey, as she discovers what it means to be an immigrant and a woman, struggling to find love and her identity – at the same time that Canada is breaking free from Mother England's apron strings.

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EXCERPT:
“In them days, we wuz poor but happy.”

You’re probably laughing at how trite this is. But I’ve heard my sister Helen, and several other members of my family, speak those exact words more times than I care to remember. And it’s exactly how they remember “Them Days.”

For us, Them Days goes back to growing up north of Winnipeg on marginal farmland at the turn of the 20th century. Like tens of thousands of Ukrainian and other Eastern European immigrants, my family had come searching for a better life in Canada, lured by the promise of free land.

For the most part, the promises were kept, although, as it would turn out, a few “extras” were thrown into the deal. Unfortunately for my family, like many Ukrainians, they had requested land with wood on it. Back in the old country, they had often frozen through long winters on the Steppes because of a lack of wood for building fires. The Canadian government’s land agent obliged, and they were given some scratchy stony ground near Gimli, Manitoba, where the fertile prairie gives way to swampy Boreal forest. But it had wood!

With this endowment, it was bound to be a hard life. But my sister still remembers it as a time of happiness.

Memories—how they play tricks on us—and how they vary from person to person. It never ceases to amaze me how my family members remember the same events so differently.

It was a warm June day in 1982, the last time the seven of us who had survived to late adulthood had gotten together for an informal family reunion. We were sitting in my youngest sister’s trailer, which was parked on the old family homestead. None of us were regular drinkers, but the occasion had inspired my brothers to have a little whiskey, and my sisters and I were sipping some white wine.

Sure enough, whether it was the heat, the alcohol, or just our age and the occasion, my siblings waxed maudlin. And it didn’t take long before Helen spoke those familiar words, “In them days…,” and my brothers nodded in agreement. Soon, happy stories of Them Days came pouring out like a prairie river spilling over its banks in the spring.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Glenn P. Booth was born and raised in Winnipeg, where he lived with his Ukrainian grandmother, Helen Lesko, after he and his brother were orphaned just before his fourteenth birthday. He grew up listening to Helen’s stories about ‘Them Days’ growing up on the homestead near Gimli, and life in Winnipeg in the late 1910s and 1920s.

Glenn attended the University of Manitoba and the University of Alberta where he respectively obtained his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts (Economics) degrees. Among other jobs, he subsequently worked with Canada’s National Energy Board, where he held positions including Chief Economist, Executive Director of Corporate Planning and External Relations, and Executive Director of Communications and Human Resources.

Glenn has published one other novel, Demons in Every Man, a murder mystery set in the Calgary oil patch, published by Friesen Press in 2019.

The author lives in Calgary with his Brazilian-born wife of 36 years, Elisabeth. Glenn and Elisabeth have two grown sons who are now successfully making their way in the world. Glenn enjoys returning to Winnipeg every summer to visit with his cousins and old friends, and to enjoy cottage life on Lake Winnipeg. While in Calgary, he loves scrambling and hiking in the Rockies, as well as mountain biking and X-country skiing with friends. Of course, Glenn is also an avid reader.

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GUEST POST:
- What was your research process for this book?

Them Days is historical fiction loosely based on the experiences of my grandmother, her family, and thousands of other Ukrainian immigrants to the Canadian Prairies in the early 1900s. It follows Sofiya as she grows up on the homestead, and then moves to Winnipeg to be a maid to a wealthy English family at the age of 13.

To write a credible story based on the events of the time, I needed to understand my family’s history, the broader history of Ukrainian immigrants, and the history of Winnipeg at the time.

It was an incredible time and there were three major distinct events through which my grandmother lived as a young woman, including: WW1 and the internment of the Ukrainians; the Spanish Flu epidemic; and the great Winnipeg General Strike – all in a five-year time period! Putting this together, the novel required research into the following six categories:

1. My family’s history as Ukrainian immigrants to Manitoba

2. The general history of Ukrainian immigrants to the Prairies, and life on the homesteads

3. The history of Winnipeg, Manitoba from about 1910 to the 1920s

4. The internment of the Ukrainians during WW1

5. The Spanish Flu on the Prairies

6. The Winnipeg General Strike

In terms of process, in general terms it involved:

• Talking to family members about our family history

• Visiting museums, including the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, and the heritage museum in Gimli to better understand life on the homestead in “Them Days”

• Identifying the specific events to include in the novel

• Constructing an outline of the plot such that my protagonist, Sofiya, would be directly involved in each of these events

• Reading books about the events/time covered in the novel

• Searching the net for information/articles

• Visiting Winnipeg for the 100th anniversary commemoration of the General Strike and taking part in the memorial activities

Those are the main steps for the research process – but read on if you’re interested in specific sources.

For my family history, I primarily relied on my accumulated knowledge of the family stories I have been told throughout my life, not least by my grandmother. I verified a number of these stories by speaking with the few remaining relatives who are still alive today, and who were also aware of our family history (such as the original homestead burning down).

I was incredibly fortunate to find a book published in 1979 by Michael Ewanchuk, entitled “Spruce, Swamp and Stone” that documented the Ukrainian settlement near Gimli in the early 1900s. This book included detailed history about the establishment of homesteads, the first schools and churches, and the difficulties the pioneers faced. It also indirectly verified many of our family’s stories. I also found a wonderful short historical monograph on the hamlet of Berlo where my grandmother and her siblings attended school.

With respect to Winnipeg’s history, I relied partly on Jim Blanchard’s excellent book, “Winnipeg’s Great War”, which details the atmosphere in Winnipeg during WW1, including the English patriotism that gripped the city, and its flipside, the rampant discrimination towards eastern Europeans.

The Manitoba Historical Society (MHS) was a great source of information as it has published numerous studies on specific aspects of both Winnipeg’s history and Ukrainian history in Manitoba, including a very good piece on the internment of the Ukrainians, entitled “Enemies Within Our Gates” by George Buri. I also watched the National Film Board documentary film, “That Never Happened”.

For the Spanish Flu, I relied on a number of articles I found on-line, including a short piece by the MHS.

The Winnipeg General Strike was a landmark event in the history of the battle for workers’ rights in North America. I had studied the strike in a Labour Economics course in my university days, so I already had some prior knowledge about it. In 2019, there were a host of activities held in Winnipeg to commemorate the strike, including a special exhibit at the Manitoba Museum, a guided walk around the city where strike events occurred, and even a new musical, entitled “Strike”. Taking in these activities with my wife really helped me appreciate how divided Winnipeg was at the time, with the capitalists and the government lined up on one side and the working class on the other.

Lastly, as mentioned above, I visited Ukrainian pioneer museums in both Alberta and Manitoba.

Bottom line: it took a lot of research but I enjoyed every minute of it!
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GIVEAWAY:
Glenn P. Booth will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter. Good luck!

(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, its entries, or the prize. Goddess Fish Promotions and the author assume all responsibility over this giveaway.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

191 comments:

  1. Looks like an interesting book.
    Thanks for the contest. 

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  2. This book sounds extremely interesting. I would like to read it someday soon.

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  3. I’ve recently “found” the historical fiction genre and am really enjoying it. I learn new things when reading. This book sounds so good.

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  4. thanks this sounds like an interesting read

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  5. I love historical fiction especially set in this time period. Sounds like a really good read. Intrigued on how she fairs

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  6. Thank you for sharing your guest post and book details, I have enjoyed reading about you and your work and I am looking forward to reading Them Days, it sounds like an interesting story.

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    1. Thanks Bea. fyi, that's my grand-aunt's name - pictured on the right on the cover. Do you have a link to your blog? I don't know how to find it.

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  7. I just love the cover. Good work.

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  8. Sounds like a great book. I like the excerpt and cover.

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  9. This sounds like an interesting book and I also like the cover.

    abfantom at yahoo dot com

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  10. Nice book cover and the book sounds interesting.

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  11. The book sounds very interesting. Great cover!

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  12. Them Days by author Glenn P. Booth sounds like a unique and fascinating story with a setting during World War I.

    Nancy
    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

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  13. I enjoyed the excerpt. Thank you for the giveaway!

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  14. Love the cover photo - perfect.

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  15. Thanks everyone for your positive comments. I will try and check out your blogs! I personally love the cover because it is a picture of my dear grandmother and her sister in their maids' uniforms they had to wear while working for a wealthy English family. The picture captures the reality for them - 14 and 15 years old, sent away from the homestead to work full-time in the 'big city', a place they had never visited before.

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  16. Did you take a vacation this year?

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    1. Yes, thanks. My wife was born and raised in Brazil, so we went to visit her parents, brothers, nieces and nephews in April. Good practice for my Portuguese!

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  17. thanks for the wonderful giveaway

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  18. Historical Fiction- I would enjoy reading this!
    Great cover.
    Thank you for sharing this.

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  19. Looking forward to this "new to me" read, excited to have it on my bucket list for the near future.

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  20. Which author do you most admire?

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  21. do you have a favorite author or book

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    Replies
    1. Right now, it's Ambrose Parry, a pseudonym for a husband and wife writing team.

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  22. What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

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  23. Replies
    1. No, I don't. Perhaps it's a good idea, but I haven't gone there yet.

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  24. hope you are enjoying your Sunday

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  25. Do you have any advice for new writers?

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    1. Nothing special, other than write from your heart. Write what moves you. Give your writing to as many people as possible that will read it and give you some honest feedback. Listen to the feedback and learn from it, but realize that your writing may not suit everyone. So don't get discouraged when you receive negative comments.

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  26. I do not know a lot about the process of Canada breaking free from Mother England.

    Nancy
    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

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    1. Unlike the US War of Independence, it was a pretty peaceful process. Canada basically said it was time to become independent and England agreed, although it was a bit of a slow process. So although Canada officially became an independent country on July 1, 1867, it initially only included 4 provinces (Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Other provinces slowly joined the Confederation over the years. Also, Canada's foreign policy was under British control until the 1920s - after that Canada was pretty much a fully independent country.

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  27. hope you are enjoying this beautiful weather

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  28. You gave great suggestions for new writers, especially don't get discouraged!

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  29. thanks this sounds like an amazing story

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  30. Do you write more or read more?

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  31. is there a certain time of day you write

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  32. What's the strangest food you've ever tried?

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    Replies
    1. Probably ant larva wrapped in tortillas in Mexico.

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  33. was it hard to chose the cover

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  34. Tell me about your favorite birthday.

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  35. hope you are having a creative weekend

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  36. Replies
    1. Not at all. However, I don't think I could jump out of a plane and skydive.

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  37. thanks, this sounds like an interesting read

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  38. Do you check to see if there is another book with the title you chose?

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    1. Yes, I'm working on a novel for adolescents based on the life of a bird, and the title has already been used - but I like it.

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  39. hope the book tour is going well

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  40. Replies
    1. Just an internet search, review of ratings, and then a conversation.

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  41. What beverage do you like to have on hand while writing?

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    Replies
    1. Generally tea. Drinking coffee gets me too hepped up. Sparkling water is also good.

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  42. is there an author that inspires you

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    1. Despite the controversy around some of her views, hard to beat J.K. Rowling. A single mom who writes the best selling fantasy series of all time! The books also have a good anti-racism message.

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  43. Have you made an effort to make more author friends lately?

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  44. thansk this sounds lik a wonderful book

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  45. Is anyone in your immediate family an author?

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  46. How do you think the world will end?

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    Replies
    1. Wow, what a question! I'm not sure how the world will 'end' but I think the world as we know it will end in some ways as humans incorporate more and more AI into our selves. Won't be long before a person won't need to go to their computer to search Wikipedia - the chip will be embedded in us, and we'll probably just need to think to initiate a 'search'. All I know is that big changes are coming.

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  47. another week gone by quickly, happy writing

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  48. Do you have characters living in your head?

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  49. love reading "about the author"

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  50. I find that reading Historical Fiction - like Them Days - is both interesting and informative.

    Nancy
    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

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  51. I love historical fiction! This sounds so good!

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  52. Fun fact: when I graduated nursing school I had to wear a white button up nursing dress and the hat (in 2014). Totally reminded me of that when I saw the cover. Love it!

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  53. this sounds like a wonderful book, thanks for sharing

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  54. What is your plan for children's literacy rates increasing?

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    1. I don't have a plan, but my wife is big into teaching virtues to children. Part of instilling virtues is instilling a love of reading. For sure, I find it depressing to see how many kids are are on their devices all day long... not sure that is reversible.

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  55. Will you write more now that Fall is here?

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    1. Fall isn't quite here yet. It's 33 celsius out at the moment! But as fall descends, yes, I expect to write more.

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  56. Thanks for the opportunity!

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  57. September already, hope the book otur is going well

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  58. What kind of pet would you have, if you could any pet?

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  59. does the hot weather affect when you write

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  60. I hope you have a great weekend, thank you for the opportunity

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  61. If you could have any super power, what would it be?

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  62. What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?

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  63. What is your favorite movie of all time?

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    Replies
    1. Dr. Strangelove. I also really enjoyed Sleuth with Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine.

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  64. When was the most exhilarating moment of your life?

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  65. did you always want to be a writer

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  66. How do you come up with ideas for books?

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  67. Have a good Labor Day weekend.

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  68. thanks this book sounds pretty interesting

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  69. Who inspired you when you first began to write?

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  70. We had a rainy Labor Day, I hope you had a great one

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  71. what are you looking forward to this Fall

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  72. I have not read very much fiction that was set in the time around World War I.

    Nancy
    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

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  73. Do you have any pets?

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  74. have you started any other books

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  75. If you could run a store selling anything, what would it be?

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  76. What author do you most admire?

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  77. I find historical fiction to both entertaining and informative.

    Nancy
    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

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  78. did you take a vacation this year

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  79. What projects are you currently working on?

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  80. What other titles did you think about for this book?

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  81. thanks again hope the book tour is going well

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  82. What’s your favorite snack?

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  83. This cover is really interesting.
    heather

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  84. What was your favourite comic strip?

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  85. congrats on the tour hope all is going well

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  86. What kind of book are you writing right now?

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  87. I hope you are having a good day.

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  88. Do you ever wake up in middle of night with new and wonderful ideas for your book(s) ?

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  89. What is your favourite unsolved mystery?

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  90. Do you like working with your editor?

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  91. is there a certain time of year you tend to write more

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  92. I hope you have a nice weekend.

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  93. What book to you like to re-read?

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  94. I hope you are having a wonderful weekend!

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  95. Them Days sounds like a memorable book to read and enjoy.

    Nancy
    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

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  96. What inspires you to write books?

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  97. is there a quiet place you go to write

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  98. I'm hearing crickets. Do you have crickets where you live?

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  99. do you write more in fall and winter

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  100. You can learn a lot when you read historical fiction like this book.

    Nancy
    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

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  101. Do you keep writing notes on you phone?

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  102. another week gone by, happy writing

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  103. You are a new author for me- after reading the excerpt I was hooked-thanks

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  104. if you could meet any famous person who would it be

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  105. What is your favorite book that has been turned into a movie(s)?

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  106. The situation in Ukraine is just heartbreaking

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  107. thanks again for the giveaway, best wishes on the book

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  108. Thanks for the giveaway. Fingers crossed I win.

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  109. This book looks really interesting. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  110. What's your favourite genre of books?

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