Maple Syrup, Patrick Tylee's Wynne Dubroc, J. D. Byrne, reviews of Virgins in the Beehive and Gr

December 17 National Maple Syrup Day Vermont, among other states is famous for its maple syrup. For something so clear, it’s sort of ironic that the history of maple syrup is so murky. By the time the 1700s rolled around, sources state that Native American and European settlers were both making maple syrup, but the history beforehand is a bit less clear. One thing is certain, though — with sugar maple trees only existing along the eastern coast of North America, maple syrup is about as American as it gets. And for that, we celebrate: every year on Dec. 17, it’s National Maple Syrup Day!

National Maple Syrup Day Activities

1. Tap a tree While making your own maple syrup is a lengthy (but totally do-able) procedure, tapping a tree is the first step — it's easy enough for most to accomplish, and it provides an interesting look into the syrup-making process.

2. Try a unique pairing As we noted above, you can't go wrong with a maple syrup glaze on root vegetables. Try drizzling some chopped carrots, beets, or sweet potatoes with maple, and add some olive oil and garlic, for an unforgettable flavor experience.

3. Take a trip to Vermont You'd have to go to Canada to find a place more syrup-centric than Vermont. Make plans to check out Burlington's International Maple Conference while you're there!

Why We Love National Maple Syrup Day

A. It pairs with more things than you can imagine Sure, you've tried it on your pancakes, waffles, and french toast — but have you ever let maple syrup make its way to your bacon? Don't just limit yourself to breakfast, though. Maple syrup makes an awesome glaze for all sorts of root vegetables, bringing out flavors you might have never noticed.

B. It's worth stealing There aren't many food items that, when stolen, would qualify as being part of a heist. But with barrels of this saccharine sap going for over a thousand dollars per barrel, it's easy to see why a truckload of maple syrup might be worth a boatload of cash.

C. It's full of sugar While you might be wise to brush your teeth after having those maple syrup-soaked pancakes, it's hard not to love something that's mostly sugar!

Patrick Tylee spoke to us last week about his writing life. Today his character Wynne Dubroc speaks. Welcome Wynne

1. Go ahead and introduce yourself.

Hey, I’m Wynn Dubroc. Edwynn, I guess. But, yeah…now I have to go by Gordon Matalon. My family’s kinda in the government’s Witness Reboot Program. Not s’posed to say, tho.

2.Tell us where and when were you born.

I was born in LaFayette on May 2nd, 2007. I’m seventeen now.

3. How would you describe yourself?

I’ve been told I’m ‘too sober for my own good’. Seems like I’m laughing, just on the inside.

4. Tell us about where you grew up.

We had a really nice place, cuz Dad had a good job making high-tech gadgets. Everything was cool until…he, uh…was forced to work for the military. Then, we had to have body-guards and stuff. Life went sideways then. Hard to be cool when you can’t even ditch your own stupid g-men.

5. How old are you?

I’m seventeen now. Already told you. Do many of these? Interviews?

6. Did you have a happy childhood? Why/why not?

Childhood? You mean like as a kid? It was great…exciting, fun. We traveled and went to the beach a lot. We had money to blow. Now…it just blows.

7. Past/ present relationships? How did they affect you?

Shipping. Awesome. The girl I like netted me a broken nose, four stitches, and a cracked tooth. The girl who likes me is from outer space. She got pissed, destroyed Earth. This whole boyfriend gig is a bit much.

8. What do you value above all else in life?


9. What are you obsessed with?

That freak-show…Ahnimgoyothalia. She owns my brain, I think. She’s in there enough…

10.How do your beliefs make life better for yourself and the people you care about?

Life hasn’t been ‘better’…not yet anyway. We are doing this interview from the visitor’s lounge of an insane asylum. Or did you forget that part?

11. Biggest fear?

That this is it for me.

12. What line will you never cross?

I’d rather be dead than have to kill…another…you know…anybody. Ain’t worth going to hell.

13. What is the best thing that ever happened to you? The worst?

Waking up in the hospital with a new finger. And…the kidnappers sawing it off with an old steak knife.

14. Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?

Taking a soccer ball to the nads in front of Michelle Jean-Terese.

15. Biggest secret?

Well, crap…I think that one’s got out, you know? I mean, she’s wanted by the Department of Homeland Security now. They think she’s a Russian spy. Oh, are they in for some major shit. She could be sittin’ on your lap right now and you wouldn’t even know it. Have you seen what she does to a concrete roof when she wants to go up to her ship-self in a hurry? Yeah, that’ll buff right out!

16. What is the one word you would use to define yourself?

How ‘bout…unfortunate?

17. What is your current goal?

To persuade you to bring me some street clothes. Park outside the door. Leave your passenger window down all the way. Get ready to hit the gas.


The girl from space breaks nearly every rule to escape her lonely life in the Joining. She rescues a human boy, and will stop at nothing to become his perfect mate. To protect Wynn from harm, she destroys the bees, the bully, and the spy. She's banished from Wynn's presence, and when her kind come to return her to the Joining, she faces the truth of all she's done to his planet and its people. But she can create an entire world within herself. Just one rule left to break.

And Now J D Byrne

What made you want to be a writer?

I’m a lawyer by day, so I write a lot for a living. I enjoy the wordsmithing that comes with that, but you’re really limited, of course, by the facts of any particular case and the law. Writing fiction was a way for me to get to play with words while letting my imagination run wild at the same time. It’s fun!

When is the release of your next novel? Name genre or if it’s part of a series. If your book is part of a series tell the readers about the others that are out for sale.

I’m actually in between books right now, having finished up one trilogy and getting started on another. The first one, The Water Road trilogy, was just released as a complete box set. It’s an epic fantasy story about a world with a secret that two women discover. Things get very messy from there.

How important is it to read books when you want to be an author?

Vitally important, I think, not just as a means of learning the craft, but to keep creative juices flowing. Seeing what other authors do and what, in your mind, works or doesn’t is the best way of learning and honing your own skills. Besides, there’s the inspiration! Imagine if the Beatles didn’t listen to other music and never felt compelled to try and top Pet Sounds!

Do you remember the first book you read?

I can’t say that I do. The first book in my life was surely something my parents or older brothers read to me, so I owe a debt to them for getting me started on all this. I don’t really remember reading anything specific until later in elementary school, when I discovered Lloyd Alexander and dystopias.

What book are you reading now?

I just started Crucible of War: The Seven Years’ War and the Fate of Empire in British North America. My wife and I just had a little getaway during which we visited Fort Ligonier near Pittsburgh. It made me realize I didn’t know much about the Seven Years’ War, so I sought this book out. I figure, if nothing else, there’s story fuel in there.

Before that I finished The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, which is as brilliant as everybody says it is.

How did you come up with the idea for the book or series, especially the title?

The Water Road, which is the title of the first book as well as the whole trilogy, actually came from an album by a band called Thieves Kitchen. The title track was called “The Water Road” and I liked the image it provoked of this long ribbon of water that ran from one place to another. It fit the idea I had of the world I was developing, so I decided to use it.

Which character do you identify with most in your novel?

In The Water Road books it’s probably Rurek, the Sentinel who hooks up with a journalist named Strefer as she tries to get the word out about the terrible secret she’s uncovered. He’s basically a good guy, but he’s wrapped up in a system that’s profoundly unjust and has so much institutional inertia that it’s not likely to get better. Still, he tries to do what he can. My day job is as a public defender, so I can sympathize with that.

How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

That’s a tricky question for a fantasy writer. On the one hand, there’s nothing of my own experiences in The Water Road. On the other, I hope it’s “realistic” - as real as a set of books with no humans in it can be - when it comes to motivations, feelings, and how characters act. In that sense, I hope they’re realistic.

To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?

As a fantasy writer I don’t have to do travel for my writing, but I find that visiting other places and interacting with other cultures provides some great ideas for world building. My wife and I spent our honeymoon in Cambodia and I’ve got lots of notes from that trip that’s going to inform some stories down the road (although not The Water Road).

Travel isn’t as essential to being a writer as reading, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.

Tell us how the atmosphere needs to be for you to be able to write. Example, music on or quiet etc.

Generally I write in my office/studio, where I have my writing PC and my keyboard (musical kind) rig. I like to have music on in the background. If I’m editing or doing more focused work, I lean toward progressive rock. If I’m free styling, trying to brainstorm or whatnot, I go for more ambient electronic stuff.

I occasionally have to take breaks when one of our Chihuahuas decides they need some attention. It’s a good way to clear my head and shake out of a rut

What is one goody you must have at your desk when you’re writing?

I appropriated one of the dogs’ toys, a cranky looking stuffed dog who had a shirt on that declared “cats are not my friends!” He seems like a good spirit animal for my writing life. Other than that, all I need is a drink (water or Diet Coke only, please - I tried to write after a second glass of wine once and wound up slurring my typing!).

Which part of the publishing process do you detest most?

Promotion. No doubt. Every part of the actual “producing a book” process, from writing through editing to getting a cover, is a blast (if hard work). Promoting is just a slog, particularly if you’re not a very outgoing person, like me. I hate trying to sell people stuff, even if it’s a book I’ve spent years writing.

What is the worst thing you’ve had to overcome before publishing your novel?

I’m lucky in that I didn’t really have any huge obstacles to overcome, aside from the ones I think all authors share - mainly, doubt about whether what you’ve written is good enough. I didn’t start writing with an aim toward publishing, so once I got to that point and realized “I’m going to ask people to give me money for this” it got “real.” I took a little bit to get comfortable with that, but once you release a book into the wild you realize it’s not that bad.

When you need some extra encouragement who do you turn to?

My wife, primarily. She’s a voracious reader (and used to run a Borders) and is able to walk that fine line between being honest about my stuff and being very supportive and encouraging.

I’ve also learned how much support you can get just from listening to other authors talk about their problems. I’m active in several online communities and it helps reinforce that whatever issue I’m having or obstacle pops up that other folks have been through the same (or very similar) thing and made it out the other side.

How do you market your book?

Not as much as I should. As I said earlier, it’s my least favorite part of being a writer. I try to take part in book festivals and other events in the local area when I can. I also use listing services like BookRaid and BargainBooksy to get the word out, especially if I’m having a sale.

Have readers ever contacted you? If so, tell us the best thing they’ve said to you.

Yes, I had a great experience with a reader last year at the West Virginia Book Festival. A woman came by my table and bought my first novel, Moore Hollow, sometime in the afternoon. A couple of hours later, after the festival wrapped up for the day, my wife and I were on the way out and the woman was outside, on a bench, reading my book. She came up to me and told me how great it was and how it drew her in.

It was really nice to have that kind of instant feedback from a reader.

Who do you trust to read your finished books before publication?

As I mentioned earlier, my wife is a voracious reader, otherwise reads the kind of stuff I write, and has a good way of giving valuable feedback and not just pumping me up, so she sees everything I write at some point.

I’m also part of a local group of writers who meet regularly and work through each other’s manuscripts. It’s interesting because we all write different things and all bring a different focus to critiques, which provides a nice, well-rounded bit of feedback.

Tell us all about your very first book signing. Take us there with your description of people, place, food, décor etc.

Most of my signings have been at festivals or group events organized by one of our local independent bookstores, so I don’t have a lot of experience doing my own.

The first one I really did on my own was a disaster! It was at a local library as part of a program to get the community to explore local businesses, artists, and the like. Nobody showed up, aside from the woman who organized it. At least she bought a book!

Is there a message you’d like to send through your book?

I don’t really think The Water Road trilogy has a moral or message, but I do think there are a couple of questions that run through the books that I hope will be thought provoking. One has to deal with how the anger that flares up from injustice can be constructively channeled without spilling over into revenge. The other is about whether pushing the truth out to the world is always the best way to do things.

If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

Interesting question! With the caveat that the characters in The Water Road trilogy aren’t human, so there’d be serious makeup and/or CGI involved, I think Gal Gadot would make a good Antrey.

Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?

Since there’s always a chance I could meet someone in the present I’ll go ahead and say Douglas Adams. His books have stuck with me for so long and he seemed to be a really interesting person just to talk with that I think it would be a good conversation. Plus, funny!

Do you have any hobbies?

Since I have a day job writing is my primary hobby. But I also make music (electronic noises that scare away the dogs and make my wife shake her head), consume a lot of soccer in various forms, and, of course, read.

What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?

As a writer of fantasy I’m obliged to say Game of Thrones, right? Which, of course, I really enjoy. There’s also The Expanse, The Handmaid’s Tale, and SOMETHING ELSE. I thought the Showtime limited series of Patrick Melrose was really good. And I dearly miss The Leftovers, which was one of the weirdest things on TV.

Favorite foods

I make a mean jambalaya and a serviceable Bolognese, so I’m a fan of those. Anything that involves sausage is a good thing.

What’s your sign, lucky number.

Scorpio. I guess my lucky number is 42 - it’s the ultimate answer, right?

What’s your favorite color.

Ferrari red. Forza!

What music do you hear in your latest book.

Probably something like Univers Zero or Present - avant chamber rock that is equal parts beautiful and delicate as well as dark, heavy, and disturbing.

Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?

Read, make music. I didn’t start writing in earnest until I was in my 30s, so I lived quite a bit without it. Once I got over the disappointment of not being able to share any more stories with people I figure I’d get along all right.

Not that I’m eager to test that theory.

You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?

On the couch, snuggled up with my wife and our dogs.

What do you want written on your head stone?

“Here lies JD Byrne - and why not.”

Stolen from This Is Spinal Tap, but hey, it works.

Are there any mistakes you made with your first book?

My first book was a collection of short stories, with which I made a couple of mistakes. First, I decided to release a collection of short stories as my introduction to the world - that’s a very hard sell, particularly since the stories aren’t in any way related. Second, I decided I could do the cover myself. Huge mistake, as I just don’t have what it takes to do useful graphic design. That, at least, was an easy one to fix.

What kind of advice can you give to other either aspiring authors?

Talk with other authors and listen to the conversations they have among themselves. People who decide they want to be writers often think that whatever they’re going through - from developing ideas to figuring out the rules (and when to break them) to getting past writer’s block - are unique to them. They’re not. It’s almost certain that whatever problem you’re having, others have had it, too. Use their wisdom, which many will be happy to share.

When in doubt, who do you trust to help you out?

I’ve gotten to the point with my local writers’ group that I really trust their advice on things, particularly when I get stuck on a passage and can’t figure out how to go with it. One of the benefits of having a local group that has a steady membership and meets regularly is that you really get to know each others’ perspectives and where they’re coming from when they give you feedback.

Tell us how we may get a copy of your book. (Kindle, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, paperback etc.)

All my books are available in paperback form from Amazon and eBook format at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and several other sellers. You can find links for all of them here:

Social media links and websites?

You can find me on . . .

The Web:




by Kola Boof

This is an older pop novel published in 2010. It’s a racy and active tale of living a dream and the search for stardom. The book is about the journey to fame and fortune of three young black women, JennaSet, Darling Nicky and Destiny. Each star-to-be is different from the other and so are their dreams even though they are performers in the same pop music group. It’s a story of triumph and tragedy, but it also interweaves issues of pop culture, musical tastes, racism, colorism and folk superstition into the backstory. The main story displays in great detail the strange, kinky and often sordid world of hip-hop and pop entertainment industry which is at best merciless and fickle to those who seek stardom. It's a hip-hop Valley of the Dolls.

For many readers who might pick the book up today, Virgins in the Beehive parallels the tragic rise and fall of singer Whitney Houston, but Ms. Houston passed away in 2012-- two years after this work went to press. Prophetic or typical. Read this page-turning book and decide!

Graysen Cooper

by Robin Rance

The year was 1941; it was a warm summer day in the Bronx…

This is the way a great historical fiction work Graysen Cooper begins. It sets the tone for a great book that will captivate the most easily distracted reader. It tells of a time when abused women had little choice but to stay in a bad marriage. Graysen, a Naval engineer falls in love with Elizabeth and becomes her family protector. There are twists and turns, sweet romance, impossible situations, break-ins, mob debts, tricks and traps that keep you guessing and wondering if the outcome can possibly resolve! Be sure to pick it up, but clear an evening or two because you won’t be putting the book down til you finish.


J D Byrne's Character Mike Huard Margena Holmes Recent releases Blog plans and updates for 2019

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