Nancy Yeager joins The Spotlight to discuss her latest novel, When We Were Friends

Author Name: Nancy Yeager

Book Title: When We Were Friends

Book Genre: Women’s Fiction

Release Date: Oct. 25, 2022

Publisher: Red Adept Publishing

Welcome, Nancy! How would you describe When We Were Friends?

What would you do for your best friend? When We Were Friends is a heartwarming story about the power of women’s friendships and the lengths we’ll go to for the people we love.

What sparked the idea for this book?

For me, book ideas are the result of multiple disparate elements tumbling around in my mind until they stick together. In this case, it started with the political zeitgeist of 2018, the year I started writing the story in earnest. As an American woman, I was thinking about threats to women’s bodily autonomy, the effects of unintended pregnancy, and how poverty impacts those issues. As a writer, I’ve always wanted to write a caper. When those ideas came together, the idea of an unintended pregnancy leading to a small, non-violent crime spree became the seed of this novel.

But when I started actually writing the story, the caper plot was not where the juice was for me. I kept thinking, then what? These two women are not criminal masterminds; they’re going to get caught, and then what? So I looked five years into their future and started writing about that instead. They did get caught, and one of the women took the rap and went to prison, while the other hobbled together a seemingly decent life. But when they meet again, they’re each broken in different places, and are each holding on to fragments of their shattered friendship. The real story, for me, was about how—and even if—their lives could fit together again.

The idea of women’s friendship, and specifically best friendship, was last piece of the story puzzle for me. My own best friend died several years ago. I’d love to share one more heart-to-heart conversation, one more laugh, one more hug with her. But I can’t. But Frannie and Lexi, my fictional BFFs, could. I wrote an ending for their story that I couldn’t have in real life. And when I had that epiphany, I knew I’d found the heart of this book.

What do you hope readers will take away from this story?

The short answer is: I hope When We Were Friends makes readers want to hug their best friends, then hand this book to them to read as well!

The longer answer is that I hope this story makes readers appreciate the women—the friends, mothers, sisters—who stand by them through everything. When I fall in love with a book, it’s usually because the people and events in the story make me think about my own real-life relationships. I hope this book gives readers “all the feels” about the women, especially the friends, in their own lives.

Any words of wisdom you give your pre-published writer self (or to a new writer)?

There is no one true path to publishing success, nor even one true definition of what constitutes success. You have to find your own way and keep your eyes on your own paper. Comparison really is the thief of joy in this industry. Celebrate the successes of fellow authors, of course! But also enjoy your own journey, celebrate your own successes, large and small, and find a community who will celebrate with you.

What are your interests outside of writing and reading?

Wait, authors are allowed to have non-reading and writing interests? I might be doing this wrong…

Actually, I love taking on physical challenges, and since I am not a natural athlete, it’s easy to find hard things to try. As a baseline, I hike, bike, weight train, and practice yoga. I’ve also taken Krav Maga and HIIT classes, and regularly sign up for 30- and 90-day fitness boot camps. My next new challenge will be rock-wall climbing. But—and it feels like I say this every time I’m about to start a new adventure—I’m waiting for an injury to heal first. (Because in my case, “not a natural athlete” = many injuries.)

Are you working on a new project? Please tell us about it.

I’m always working on a new project, and usually more than one, as I write in multiple genres and under a separate pen name.

My next commercial/women’s fiction story will go out to my beta readers in February. I’m going to redact the working title for a number of reasons, but I can say the story follows two high-profile frenemies whose online antics get them “canceled,” and then their respective lives fall apart. They go on a journey to rebuild their relationships, their online images, and, ultimately, themselves. (And there’s so much more to the story! But that’s all I can say for now.)

Where can readers find you?

My website is the best place to learn about my books and upcoming events in one convenient location! While there, readers can sign up for my newsletter, and check out the book-club page where they’ll find everything from a story playlist to discussion questions, as well as contact information to invite me to virtually attend book-club discussions about When We Were Friends.

In February, I’ll be doing an Amazon Live event, and a multi-author interview on the Launch Pad podcast. I hope to add some in-person events to my calendar in March. I’ll have links to all of my events on my website.



Book Club Page:

Thank you, Nancy! When We Were Friends is out NOW.

They were best friends. Sisters of the heart. Partners in crime. Until they got caught…

Five years ago, Frannie Willets committed grand larceny to help her best friend, Lexi Maddox, escape an awful situation. Now paroled and prospectless, Frannie needs to disappear from her dead-end life. To do so, she’ll need her share of the stolen money that Lexi has been hiding all these years. But Lexi has other plans.

By all appearances, Lexi is thriving, but in truth, nothing in her life is going according to plan. She can’t carry a pregnancy to term, her sweet stepdaughter hates her, and even the family’s new rescue dog knows she’s a failure. Lexi’s only path to happiness is making amends with the friend she dearly misses. But the only thing Frannie wants from Lexi is cash.

Out of desperation, Lexi offers Frannie all the money, with one catch: Frannie must stick around for one month. Stranded in their suffocating small town, Frannie gets tangled up in Lexi’s issues, her mother’s questionable dating life, a lonely kid’s desperate attempts to find friends, and a high-school crush’s fantasies about what could have been. Suddenly, leaving doesn’t look as easy as it once did. But when an old enemy surfaces, Frannie realizes staying endangers everyone she loves. And even though she might have found her heart’s true home, there’s no guarantee she can keep it.

Author Bio:

Nancy spent her early years longing to be an English countryside vet thanks to James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small series and dreaming of being an adventurist-archaeologist thanks to George Lucas’s Indiana Jones character. After studying veterinary pre-med and earning an anthropology degree, she realized her true passion is story in all its forms.

When she’s not reading, writing, or binge-watching stories, she’s often pursuing a physical challenge like studying Krav Maga or aspiring to achieve the perfect crow pose. She also spends her time drinking too much coffee, not enough red wine, and just the right amount of bourbon. She lives in Maryland with her fabulous family, which includes some very spoiled rescue cats.

J. Eliza Wall joins the Author Spotlight to chat about her latest book, Like the Sun Holds the Moon: A Novel

Author Name: J. Eliza Wall 

Book Title: Like the Sun Holds the Moon: A Novel 

Book Genre: Young Adult Fiction and Adult Fiction

Release Date: May 15, 2022

Publisher: Little Creek Press 

Welcome, Joy! What sparked the idea for this book? 

Like the Sun Holds the Moon: A Novel comes on the heels of Like The Sun Holds The Moon: A Children’s Book, which addresses similar themes of separation and divorce: 

A little girl comforts her younger brother with a story about how their parents met and why they cannot stay together. This story broaches the topic of separation (divorce or adoption) with young children in a magical and kid-friendly way. It can allow for conversation about a subject that can be very challenging. It is meant to comfort and inspire. 

How long did it take for you to write the book? 

Writing this coming-of-age story has been a coming-of-age experience for me. I conceived of my novel ten years ago and am a different person today than I was when I started this project. I’ve grown as a storyteller, artist, and person alongside this project. I’ve learned so much about myself along the way. Writing and art-making have always been comforts that have gotten me through challenging times. This novel is rooted in real trauma that my family faced, but the characters have taken off on their own journeys over the years. I’m so thankful for the lessons they have taught me. 

What drew you to writing fiction?

Like The Sun Holds The Moon: A Novel is in no way a memoir, and this is what makes writing fiction so freeing and liberating. It allows you to explore other possibilities. Working with universal themes of family dynamics and mental and physical health, I’ve learned that even though intergenerational trauma is genetic, so is intergenerational resilience, and that is what is most important. We are the stories we tell ourselves and creation myths are one way we can take some control back in our lives. I’m thankful for years of good mentors who helped me become grounded and adaptable by making order from the chaos. 

My novel sits on the fine line between Young Adult Fiction and Adult Fiction since it is a coming of age piece where the main character is on the cusp of adulthood. Lyrical prose inevitably shows up in my writing because I have a background in writing poetry. We need more Young Adult novels that address and depict divorce and chronic illness (mental and physical) in an unflinchingly yet loving way. My book also features excerpts of the main character’s journal entries as a narrative device. Journaling and sketchbooks are a large part of my creative process and I really enjoy writing Epistolary fiction. 

What do you hope readers will take away from this story?

One central theme of my book Like the Sun Holds the Moon: A Novel is self-actualization. My main character transforms from passive to active through the heroine’s journey and through the magic of tarot (fool reversed to the magician upright). My main character (Ava Luna) embodies a version of myself that was still defining their identity, lacked agency, and narrated her mother’s story rather than being the main character in her own story. She starts off living as a sort of conduit for her mother, suppressing her desire for independence to care for others. Her willingness to sacrifice everything to hold her family together is at odds with her desire to go away to school and have a relationship of her own. My novel has its roots in my past but has grown into its own story over the years. I hope this coming-of-age story can help others find their agency to become The Magician and take control of their own destiny despite any odds they may face. My goal is to comfort and inspire. 

Are you working on a new project? Please tell us about it.

Akira Serene (Illustrator & Educator) and I are excited to share our new kid’s book we’ve been working on! TRASH CRAB is all about sustainability and upcycling to inspire the next generation to be the heroes and innovators we need to save the planet! When Akira and I first started collaborating, I got some hermit crabs to make our story come to life! We fittingly named them Kat and June after our two main characters! Our story is inspired by real-life trash crabs who hide in beach litter. 

Where can readers find you?

Stay in touch about events, giveaways, and new creative projects by signing up for my newsletter! My goal with this newsletter is to help you move in the direction of your dream, make time for magic, and reflect. Each month, I share a newsletter for the Full Moon (to celebrate) and New Moon (to set intention). Throughlines and traditions are important to mark the passage of time and make order from the chaos. My newsletters also focus on a bit of chakra work with suggested action steps that have made me stronger since I started this practice. My monthly chakra work and painting series started off as a way to send good vibes to a friend in need and ended as a life-changing way to go through each month. I also sprinkle in some astronomy and astrology to ponder and reflect on. Sign up for my newsletter today! 

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Instagram | Facebook| Twitter: J.ElizaWall 

Youtube: J Eliza Wall   

Audiobook: My audiobook version of Like the Sun Holds the Moon: A Novel is available on all audiobook streaming platforms! Shout out to my collaborators Everloft Studios and Asher Brooks Productions! 




Thank you, Joy! Like the Sun Holds the Moon is OUT NOW.

Eighteen-year-old Ava Luna puts her future on hold to care for her mother in the days leading up to a risky surgery. Coinciding with the seasons and cycles of the moon, the four parts of this novel tackle family dynamics and mental and physical health as it follows Ava Luna’s quest for independence, assertiveness, and wholeness.

Writing in her journal, Ava Luna tries to make sense of her life. Her parents split when she was thirteen in a bitter divorce that tore the family apart. She comforted herself by creating her own story for why they could no longer be together, where she likened her mom to the moon and her dad to the sun. In this delicate and magical tale, Mama Moon and Papa Sun are independent forces that remain separate, but can briefly exist together in harmony. As her mom’s surgery looms, Ava Luna sees the cycle begin once more as her dad lends his support, and her brother, Ray, sets his resentments aside and they start feeling like a normal family again. Adding to Ava Luna’s renewed hope, she has secretly rekindled a relationship with a past boyfriend, Sol, at the weekly contra dance her parents attended when they dated. She hopes this period of alignment will last forever.

Tensions mount when her mom is not recovering as planned and deep-seated resentments amongst Ava Luna’s family come bubbling to the surface. She tries to hold the remnants of her family together, but a breach of trust threatens to cause a permanent rift between everyone. Ava Luna runs away in an attempt to find clarity from the moon, the ocean, a psychic, and her lingering lost love, only to find the answers in an unexpected place: herself.

Author Bio:

J. Eliza Wall (Joy Elisabeth Waldinger) is a Philadelphia artist, writer, filmmaker, and art educator. Her work explores various topics—the human condition, family dynamics, relationships, nostalgia, connection to nature, and mental and physical health—in an attempt to restore connections in a fractured world. She believes that art is a powerful tool that can generate change and healing on a local and global level. Her short films have won awards in national and international film festivals and she has been published in a variety of literary magazines. In 2020, she published Like the Sun Holds the Moon: A Children’s Book, which addresses themes of separation and divorce, and for the May 2022 Lunar Eclipse, her book Like the Sun Holds the Moon: A Novel was published by Little Creek Press. Her newest children’s book (TRASH CRAB) will be coming out on Earth Day 2023.

Damyanti Biswas joins The Spotlight to discuss The Blue Bar, a literary crime novel

Author Name: Damyanti Biswas

Book Title: The Blue Bar

Book Genre: Literary Crime

Release Date: January 1, 2023

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Welcome Damyanti! How would you describe THE BLUE BAR?

In gritty, glam Mumbai, a feisty bar dancer and a dynamic Inspector in love are unaware they’re being watched by the same predator.

What sparked the idea for THE BLUE BAR?

Back in 2017, I took a workshop with award-winning author Romesh Gunesekera, and he gave us a prompt: write about someone who is being watched but isn’t aware of it. That became the first chapter of THE BLUE BAR—Tara at the railway station, being asked to pose in a blue sequined saree, and disappear from the station within three minutes. Someone is watching her.

How long did it take for you to write THE BLUE BAR? Did you do any research?

I started writing the book in 2018 and finished the first draft in a month. It went through several subsequent drafts. There was a substantial amount of research involved—I met officers of the Mumbai Police, spent time taking a bit of a workshop on forensics, walked Mumbai’s streets and photographed some of the venues. I spoke to members of Bollywood, directors and actors, and also observed a movie shoot in one of Bollywood’s major studios.

What’s your favorite part about writing/being an author? What do you find challenging?

The first drafts and the edits are my favorite part of the process. I don’t enjoy proofreads because I’ve read the book multiple times by then, and can’t see the errors clearly. The real challenge lies in promotions—I make myself do what I can for the book, but I can’t wait to withdraw from most social media like the hermit I am. I like supporting other authors, but don’t enjoy working on my own book promotions.

If you were speaking to someone who hasn’t read your writing before, why should they want to read THE BLUE BAR?

If you’re intrigued by atmospheric thrillers with characters you can root for, where the plot twists are organic, the pace is relentless, and the villain is an utter surprise, you might want to check out THE BLUE BAR. The Mumbai setting is an added bonus.

What about the writing/editing/publishing process has been the most surprising to you so far?

How long it takes between each step, and how fast each step is. You might wait for months for a particular stage, and then it happens within weeks.

Any words of wisdom for your pre-published writer self (or to a new writer)?

Figure out why you’re writing. It could be the approval of your peers, for money and fame, or for your own satisfaction. Rarely does an author reach the heights of all three, and the most successful ones often find two. If you know beforehand why you’re writing, you’ll plan better, and be able to weather the inevitable downturns and rejections.

Are you working on a new project? Please tell us about it.

I’m currently working on the developmental edits of the sequel to THE BLUE BAR. It is provisionally titled BLUE BLACK HAIR. They’re both part of the Blue Mumbai series. This next one is also set in Mumbai, shares the same cast of characters, but the crimes are different. Castrated and murdered men are being dumped in temple premises in Mumbai, their bodies surrounded by symbols of tantra worship, and Inspector Rajput must solve the cases amid relentless storms and rain.

Where can readers find you (website, blog, social media, etc.)? Feel free to include any upcoming, live/online events, workshops, too!

All my links are here, and I love hearing from readers.

Thank you, Damyanti! The Blue Bar is available NOW.

On the dark streets of Mumbai, the paths of a missing dancer, a serial killer, and an inspector with a haunted past converge in an evocative thriller about lost love and murderous obsession.

After years of dancing in Mumbai’s bars, Tara Mondal was desperate for a new start. So when a client offered her a life-changing payout to indulge a harmless, if odd, fantasy, she accepted. The setup was simple: wear a blue-sequined saree, enter a crowded railway station, and escape from view in less than three minutes. It was the last time anyone saw Tara.

Thirteen years later, Tara’s lover, Inspector Arnav Singh Rajput, is still grappling with her disappearance as he faces a horrifying new crisis: on the city’s outskirts, women’s dismembered bodies are being unearthed from shallow graves. Very little links the murders, except a scattering of blue sequins and a decade’s worth of missing persons reports that correspond with major festivals.

Past and present blur as Arnav realizes he’s on the trail of a serial killer and that someone wants his investigation buried at any cost. Could the key to finding Tara and solving these murders be hidden in one of his cold cases? Or will the next body they recover be hers?

Tamika Burgess joins The Spotlight this week to chat about her middle grade novel, Sincerely Sicily

Author Name: Tamika Burgess


Book Genre: Middle Grade

Release Date: January 3, 2023

Publisher: HarperCollins

Welcome, Tamika! What sparked the idea for this book?

Sincerely Sicily is loosely based on my experiences growing up and came out of a need for representation and understanding. As a child, I didn’t fully comprehend how to explain my Black Panamanian background when people asked, “What are you?” Being asked that question, coupled with the fact that I was growing up in a predominantly white community as a Black Latina, I often felt out of place. My peers were all the same, and not only was I of a different race, but my culture was entirely out of their understanding.

I always wished for a point of reference, someone I could point to and say, “I’m just like them.” But characters in books, movies, and TV shows didn’t look like me, nor did their experiences resemble mine. So I wrote the book I needed and would have loved to read as a child.

How long did it take for you to write the book? Did you do any research?

I worked on it off and on for years. It was a long process. In 2012, I read R.J. Palacio’s Wonder and was so captivated by the story and the writing that I told myself, “I have to do this too.” And in 2013, I started the first version of what would become my debut MG novel, Sincerely Sicily

I did a ton of research, online especially. But since my parents were born and raised in Panama, I could speak to them and other family members about their experiences as they related to what I wanted to include in Sincerely Sicily. 

What drew you to writing middle grade fiction?

I don’t remember choosing middle grade. I think it chose me, lol! When I started writing what is now my debut novel, Sincerely Sicily, I started out writing a picture book. But while writing, I realized I had a lot to say, which would not work well for the concise way picture books are written. But I knew I wanted to write for an age group who was young and at the age where they are starting to learn about themselves and discover the world around them. 

If you were speaking to someone who hasn’t read your writing before, why should they want to read Sincerely Sicily?

Other than writing a well-rounded story relatable to all age groups, cultures, races, and genders, my writing highlights Panamanian history and Black Panamanian culture and how it relates to the African diaspora.

What do you hope readers will take away from this story?

I have so many hopes for Sincerely Sicily, but the main one is that when readers finish, they walk away from it with a clear understanding of the African diaspora. The diaspora is vast and spans worldwide. It is made up of people who descend from native Africans yet live outside Africa, predominantly in the Americas, therefore including Latin American countries.

Any words of wisdom you give your pre-published writer self (or to a new writer)?

Sincerely Sicily started as a picture book in 2013 and is finally being released ten years later in 2023. So my main piece of advice is to keep going. No matter how long it takes, finish the story you want to tell.

What are your interests outside of writing and reading?

I love shopping, visiting historical museums, and watching documentaries. 

Are you working on a new project? Please tell us about it.

I’m just starting to work on my second middle-grade novel, currently in the outlining and planning stage. So right now, I don’t have much to share, but the main character will be Panamanian or of Panamanian descent. I can confirm that the main character will be a boy, and I am excited to write from his perspective.

Where can readers find you?


Purchase Sincerely Sicily:

Twitter & Instagram: @ Tameeksb


Subscribe to Tamika’s Newsletter:

Thank you, Tamika! Sincerely Sicily is OUT NOW.

Sicily Jordan’s worst nightmare has come true! She’s been enrolled in a new school, with zero of her friends and stuck wearing a fashion catastrophe of a uniform. But however bad Sicily thought sixth grade was going to be, it only gets worse when she does her class presentation.

While all her classmates breezed through theirs, Sicily is bombarded with questions on how she can be both Black and Panamanian. She wants people to understand, but it doesn’t feel like anyone is ready to listen—first at school and then at home. Because when her abuela starts talking mess about her braids, Sicily’s the only one whose heart is being crumpled for a second time.

Staying quiet may no longer be an option, but that doesn’t mean Sicily has the words to show the world just what it means to be a proud Black Panamanian either. Even though she hasn’t written in her journal since her abuelo passed, it’s time to pick up her pen again—but will it be enough to prove to herself and everyone else exactly who she is?

Author Bio:

Tamika Burgess is a storyteller with over a decade of novel, TV/film, and personal essay writing experience. Born to parents who migrated from Panamá, Tamika has always taken a particular interest in writing themes that explore her Black Latina identity. Because of her passion for spreading the knowledge of Black Panamanian culture, Tamika has been featured on various websites, podcasts, and panels. When she is not writing, Tamika is somewhere cozy online shopping and listening to a podcast. Tamika resides in sunny Southern California.

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