Stop Stalling – A Year After “Keep Her” ~ A Guest Post by Leora Krygier


Leora Krygier came into my life unexpectedly when I received a copy of her novel Keep Her last year. You can read my review here. Since that time not only did I find myself moved by this endearing and thought-provoking story that was a 2016 silver medal winner of the Moonbeam Chidren’s Book Award, but I was continually touched and inspired by my correspondence with Leora. It is an honor to have her share her journey after writing Keep Her here today. So without further ado..

Stop Stalling – A Year After “Keep Her.”

By Leora Krygier

Stop stalling! That’s what I kept saying to myself every morning for a year after the publication of my novel “Keep Her.” But somehow that well-worn imperative didn’t give me enough of the nudge I needed. Sure, there were some understandable reasons – my dad’s illness and his eventual passing away, and a new, delicious baby in the family. There was a lot going on – birth and death and everything in between, still I knew. I was stalling. And this stalling became my “bête noir,” roughly translated, my “dark beast,” or the nagging thorn in my side because every time I sat down to write at my desktop computer, ten minutes later I got up and found something else to do instead.

Life after publication is both exhilarating but also downright nerve wracking. I’d been through it before – the excruciating wait for reviews, the readings, the mentions in the press, and the PR and marketing push.  I did a lot of fun things this time including a SnapChat story, Instagram bookstagrams, a trip to the Book Expo in Chicago and meetings with environmental organizations like Heal The Bay, but still, writing and even publishing can be an often solitary road.

So now – thirteen months later, where am I? I’m still zigging and zagging on that road. I’m aching to write a sequel to Keep Her, to write the next life chapter for my beloved fictional characters Maddie and Aiden, whom I kind of left hanging at the end of the novel. But there’s another book – one that’s three quarters written, a memoir of sorts, and so much harder to write because it has to do with me, and who in the world wants to read about a year in my life?

But that non-fiction book needs completion, an arc closed, if not for others, than for myself. It’s about the year I made a left turn on both my writing and life roads. I spent a year researching a random W.W.II postcard I found in a thrift store in Los Angeles, then tracked down the owner and ran half way across the world to return it to its rightful place. And I say left turn because I should have been doing something else – figuring out my own family history, the whys and wherefores of my father’s past, his secrets and how they oozed into my life. But sometimes you have to make a left turn to get onto the right road, right?

I recently looked up the origin of the word “stall.” The noun refers to a compartment in a stable or shed that houses an animal. The verb is about delay, putting things away, i.e. putting them out of sight and out of mind. That definition made me realize that my “bête noir,” my own little beast was waiting for me to let it out of its stall.

And so, I did. I stopped stalling. Well, kind of. I reorganized my office space and put away a lot of my distractions. I bought a new chair. I finally opened up the computer file with the mostly written book and I’ve actually added and subtracted to the manuscript. It’s a start, I guess.

Meet Leora Krygier

leora.jpgI think I wrote my first story at the age of eight, a micro-autobiography. Micro? Because, well, how much can you say at the age of eight? But I guess I was hooked. I also love to take photos with my cameras and iPhone, which is always snug in my back pocket.
For me, every photo has a story, and every story is a snapshot.
I’m the author of “When She Sleeps” (Toby Press) a New York Public Library Selection for “Best Books for the Teen Age,” and about which Newsweek said, “Krygier’s luminous prose transports the reader.”
I’m also a former Los Angeles Superior Court judge and the author of “Juvenile Court: A Judge’s Guide for Young Adults and their Parents” (Scarecrow Press).
I live in Los Angeles with my husband. When I’m not writing, I love to go to the beach, walk the Santa Monica Mountain trails, and snap lots and lots of photographs.

Untitled design Leora enjoys a good English Breakfast tea and a blackberry infused tea and says “Nothing like a good cuppa”.

Follow Leora: Website Twitter Instagram

Leora’s Books
(click for Goodreads info)

I want to extend a special thank you to Leora for sharing this experience and her time today.

Happy Reading ❤


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HAPPY DREAMS ~ Book Excerpt

Book Excerpt.png

I am pleased to be sharing  Jia Pingwa’s latest novel Happy Dreams along with an excerpt today on Books, Vertigo and Tea. Released on 10/1/17, this contemporary novel has been translated by award-winning writer, Nicky Harman.

Happy Dreams_preview

Happy Dreams
By Jia Pingwa
Translated by Nicky Harman
Published by Amazon Crossing
ISBN13: 9781611097429
Pages: 492



Hawa “Happy” Liu and his best friend, Wufu take an unforgettable journey from their rural hometown to the fast-paced city of Xi-an with just their hopes, friendship, and a pair of high heels for the woman of Happy’s dreams in hand.  In search of the recipient of his donated kidney and a more prestigious life, Happy will need more than just his unrelenting optimism to hold on to the belief that something better is possible when he is faced with harsh city conditions, the crush of societal inequalities and a sudden death.  Will they both survive?

Purchase Happy Dreams: Amazon  Amazon UK  Book Depository

(New)ExcerptFrom Chapter One

“Happy Liu.”
“It says ‘Hawa Liu’ on your ID card. What’s with this ‘Happy Liu’?”
“I changed my name. Everyone calls me Happy Liu now.”
“‘Happy’ are you, Hawa Liu?”
“You must call me Happy Liu, comrade!”
“Happy Liu!”
“Yes, sir!”
“Know why I’m handcuffing you?”
“Because I had my buddy’s corpse with me?”
“I shouldn’t have been at the station with Wufu on my back.”
“Well, if you know that, why did you do it?”
“He needed to go home.”
“Freshwind Township, Shangzhou District.”
“I’m asking about you!”
“Right here.”
“Well, I should be from Xi’an.”
“Tell the truth!”
“I am telling the truth.”
“Then what do you mean by ‘should be’?”
“I really should be, comrade, because…”

It was October 13, 2000, and we were standing on the east side of Xi’an Station Square, outside the barriers. The policeman was taking a statement from me. The wind was blowing hard, and leaves floated down from the gingkos, catalpa, and plane trees around the edge of the square, covering everything with brilliant reds and yellows.

The thing I most regret about that day is not the bottle of taibai liquor, but the white rooster. Freshwind folk believe the spirit of someone who dies away from home has to make its way back. In case the spirit gets lost, you tie a white rooster to the body to guide it. The rooster I bought was supposed to help Wufu’s spirit get home, but in the end, the bird messed up everything. It weighed two and a half pounds at the very most, but the woman insisted it was three pounds. I lost my temper.

“Bullshit! No way is that three pounds! I can always tell how much something weighs! Do you know what I want it for?” (Of course I didn’t tell her what I wanted it for.)

But she kept shouting. “Put it on the scales again! Go ahead and put it on the scales again!” So then the policeman trotted over to sort out the argument.

And he saw the bedroll tied with rope. “What’s that?” He jabbed it with his baton. Lively Shi went as pale as if he’d smacked his face in a sack of ash. Then the stupid fucker opened his big mouth and said it was a side of pork, of all things.

“Pork? You wrap pork up in a quilt?” said the policeman. He carried on poking, and the corner of the bedroll came undone. That was when that coward Lively showed his true colors. He dropped the taibai bottle and took off. The policeman immediately pounced on me and handcuffed one of my wrists to the flagpole.

“Would you be so good as to handcuff my left wrist instead?” I asked with a smile. I’d pulled a muscle in my right arm digging the trench.

This time, the baton jabbed me in the crotch. “Don’t joke around!”

So I didn’t joke around.

Everything looked blurred, as if my eyes were gummed up with boogers. But I told myself to stay calm. The ink wouldn’t come out of the policeman’s pen, and he kept shaking it. The patch of pimples on his forehead flamed red. I tried to put my foot on a drifting plane tree leaf but couldn’t reach it. I’d never seen a young man with so many zits. Obviously not married yet and fierce as a young billy goat.

Click. A reporter was taking a photograph.

I took an instant dislike to her. She was done up like a little girl, with bangs down to her eyebrows, though she was clearly well into her thirties. I didn’t notice her at first. When I did, I smoothed my hair, straightened my clothes, and presented my profile so she could take another picture. But the next day in the paper, they used the one where I was bent over as if I was giving a statement, and in front of me was the flower-patterned bedroll tied with rope. One of Wufu’s feet was sticking out, and you could see his yellow rubber shoe stuffed with cotton wadding. Dammit, that picture was no better than a head-on mug shot, enough to make anyone look like a criminal. I have a prominent nose and a well-defined mouth, but she wouldn’t take me in profile, the bitch.

No way did that photo look anything like me!

Once Wufu’s body had been taken to the funeral parlor, they let me go. But I had to go back to the train station to wait for Wufu’s wife, who was coming to deal with the funeral arrangements. The square in front of the station was full of people who’d seen the newspaper, and they pointed at me. “Look! That’s the man who tried to carry a corpse onto the train! Hawa Liu!” I ignored them. Then they shouted, “Shangzhou husk-eater!” That was an insult to Shangzhou folk, so of course I paid even less attention. (Where I come from, the land’s so barren that there’s not enough grain to last year-round. Come springtime, all there is to eat is a ground-up mixture of dried persimmon and toasted rice husks.)

I needed some time to think. Though Wufu’s body had been taken to the funeral parlor, I felt his spirit must still be around here in the square, maybe perched on the traffic lights or sitting on the piles of roast chicken, hard-boiled duck eggs, bread, and bottles of mineral water on the street vendor’s cart. The small of my back felt sore and tired now, and I pushed my hand against it. Then I had another thought: How good a car is depends on its engine, not on its body, right? And like a car’s engine, a kidney is fundamental to a human body, isn’t it? My flesh was from Freshwind, and I was Hawa Liu, but I’d sold my kidney to Xi’an, so that obviously meant I belonged in Xi’an. Yes, Xi’an! I was very satisfied that I’d worked this out. It made me feel sort of lonesome, but proud too. I held my head high and began to stride along. And each step proclaimed, I’m not Hawa Liu. I’m not a Shangzhou husk-eater. I’m Happy Liu from Xi’an. Hap-py Liu!

“Excerpted from “Happy Dreams” by Jia Pingwa. ©2017 by Jia Pingwa. Published by AmazonCrossing October 2017. All Rights Reserved.”

About the Author

Author Photo_preview
Jia Pingwa was born in 1952 in Jinpen, a hardscrabble village. As a child, Jia was forced out of his hometown due to extreme poverty and famines. Around the late 1960’s Jia’s father, a schoolteacher was sent to prison after accusations of being a ‘historical counter-revolutionary.’ After his father was released from prison in 1970, Jia was permitted to attend Northwest University of Xi’an where he polished his calligraphy and writing skills. Shortly after, Jia began writing short stories for newspapers, a collection of stories, and eventually went on to write his first novel, Shangzhou, in 1986. HAPPY DREAMS is Jia Pingwa’s third novel that will be translated from Chinese. Today, Jia is one of the most prominent and celebrated writers in the country and the deputy chair of China Writers Association.

Follow Jia Pingwa: Website & Twitter

About the Translator

Nicky Harman Photo_preview
Nicky Harman is co-Chair of the Translators Association (Society of Authors) and translates full-time from Chinese. She won Mao Tai Cup People’s Literature Chinese-English translation prize in
2015 and was the first prize winner in the 2013 China
International Translation Contest. Nicky currently resides in the UK and is available for interview.

Follow Nicky Harman: WebsiteTwitter


*I would like to extend a special thank to Pamela with Wunderkind PR for contacting me regarding this opportunity. 

Happy Reading!

Danielle ❤

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Guest Post With Marit Weisenberg and Her Debut Novel, Select


I am pleased to be welcoming Marit Weisenberg to Books, Vertigo and Tea today to share her debut novel Select and her thoughts on her favorite “In-Crowds.” I hope you will all enjoy this post as much as I have!

By Marit Weisenberg
Publisher: Charlesbridge Teen
ISBN13: 9781580898065
Pages: 352
Genre: YA/Paranormal



Coming from a race of highly-evolved humans, Julia Jaynes has the perfect life. The perfect family. The perfect destiny. But there’s something rotten beneath the surface—dangerous secrets her father is keeping; abilities she was never meant to have; and an elite society of people determined to keep their talents hidden and who care nothing for the rest of humanity. So when Julia accidentally disrupts the Jaynes’ delicate anonymity, she’s banished to the one place meant to make her feel inferior: public high school. 

Julia’s goal is to lay low and blend in. Then she meets him—John Ford, tennis prodigy, all-around good guy. When Julia discovers a knack for reading his mind, and also manipulating his life, school suddenly becomes a temporary escape from the cold grip of her manipulative father. But as Julia’s powers over John grow, so do her feelings. For the first time in her life, Julia begins to develop a sense of self, to question her restrictive upbringing and her family prejudices. She must decide: can a perfect love be worth more than a perfect life?

Round up: My five favorite novels about the in-crowd

From vampires as flawless as marble statues to a family of beautiful, remote sisters, the central characters of these five novels form seductive, exclusive cliques. Often the main character is an outsider wanting in, a narrator who watches from afar and yearns to penetrate the inner circle and experience the allure firsthand. Exclusive groups can hold a promise—that they have a secret worth knowing, that theyre living life in a better way and, if only the narrator can be let in, they’ll have safety, belonging, or even the family they’ve never had. I’ve always been entranced by stories about captivating, mysterious groups so it’s no surprise that my debut young adult novel, Select, has one of its own—a magnetic group who desires extreme anonymity but can’t help from attracting unwanted attention.

1.The Girls by Emma Cline

In the poetic novel by Emma Cline, a middle-aged Evie Boyd looks back at the seductive pull a Manson-like cult had on her fourteen-year-old self and the forces that led her to live at a run-down ranch among a group of girls headed by a charismatic male leader and the increasingly dangerous choices she was forced to make.

2. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

This moving, heartbreaking novel is about a group of New York City kids at an arts summer camp who dub themselves ‘the Interestings,’ and Julie ‘Jules’ Jacobson, the lucky outsider from the suburbs who gets accepted into the sophisticated crew. The story moves forward and backward in time with the group, examining how their respective talents and relationships evolve over decades, and the impact the Interestings have on Jules’s life.

3. The Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyer

I am a huge fan of the Romeo and Juliet romance in the infamous Twilight series but my favorite aspect is the impenetrable and perfect vampire family, the Cullens. They remain a mystery to everyone who meets them except to one outsider who, at great danger to herself and the group, makes her way into the heart of the coven.

4. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

Eugenides’s ethereal debut novel about the inaccessible, beautiful Lisbon sisters and the group of adolescent boys who worship them is one of my all time favorites. Long after they’ve grown up, the boys’ obsession continues and their every interaction with the sisters is exhaustively analyzed and catalogued as they attempt to understand the girls’ incomprehensible suicides.

5. The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Under the guidance of their classics professor, six students at a small New England college commit themselves to a new way of living that they believe puts them on a

higher plane of existence. This is a story about how insular and powerful a group can become, leading them to justify their own horrifying acts.

Meet The Author


Marit Weisenberg has a master’s degree from UCLA in Cinema and Media Studies and worked as a film and television executive for a number of years in Los Angeles. She currently lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and two daughters. Select is Marit’s debut novel for young adult readers.
Follow Merit:

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Marit’s tea of choice: She is a big fan of Earl Grey!

I want to extend a special thank you to Marit for her time and for discussing such a fantastic topic!

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