Stories & Updates

Book Review

“A Strange Affliction” by Maria Piper (Book Review)

There is nothing I love more than a book that surprises you. Surprises you with the plot, with the characters, with its very existence. This was that book!

I found this book at Writers on the River 2021. I had stopped by Marie Piper’s table to have her sign my WOTR tote and saw the cover and my interest was peeked. But when she told me it was a historical romance set during the Salem Witch Trials — I knew I HAD to read it.

“A Strange Affliction” is a true work of art. It balances honesty and historical accuracy with a plot of romance, intrigue, and horror as you see the world through the eyes of Nicholas Cleary and Hannah Hibbard. Nicholas is the doubtful and pessimistic male lead who is working to bring to light what is really happening in Salem. Meanwhile, Hannah is a mother trying to make sure her, her daughter, and her faith make it through the horrors that have descended upon their town.

The dual perspective of Nicholas and Hannah and being able to see through both of their eyes and mindsets really brought this story to life. It indulged your heart and mind as the two perspectives battled each other for logic, meaning, and ultimately what it would mean to fall in love. It also shows just how important perspective and meaning are in each scenario, as how Hannah saw a turn of events and how Nicholas saw a turn of events could be drastically different.

What’s more, you feel the sense of urgency and injustice in the novel, especially through Hannah’s perspective. It was truly a book that I couldn’t put down, not only because I loved it, but because it draws you in and makes you feel like you’re actually there. You couldn’t stop because you had to know if the trials would stop or if only despair would win. I cried with each broken heart and loss and rejoiced with each moment of joy and happiness.

Marie Piper is truly a craftswoman of writing. I can’t wait to dive into her other books, including “Christine” (a Phantom of the Opera inspired story). If you’re a lover of historical and historical romance, I BEG you — pick up a copy of “A Strange Affliction” as I have no doubt you will love the story, the characters, and the author.


AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Meet Marie Piper!

What inspired you to write a historical romance set during the Salem Witch Trials? 

I have always loved American History, and – like many – have always found the Salem Witch Trials especially fascinating. The original idea for A Strange Affliction came in a little burst of creativity back when my book club re-read The Witch of Blackbird Pond and someone said, “I want this, but a romance novel!” But, writing a story of love with some optimism and hope in such a dark time is hard, so I put my original scribbles on the back burner. When COVID hit, I was working on a 1930’s Circus-set romance, but could not focus on that story, so I pulled A Strange Affliction out of the drawer and suddenly it was all I could focus on. Maybe because it was a similarly dark time in History. Who knows? Sometimes you have to follow the muse…

There were so many AMAZING scenes in this story (cough, cough, the forest scene!), but which was your favorite scene to write? 

Thank you! One of my favorite things in any book or media is the moment where a whole slew of weirdos comes together to accomplish something, so – without spoilers! – I had the most fun creating the end of the book where our heroine is in trouble and several peripheral characters set things in motion so the hero can help her. 

What was the most difficult part of writing “Strange Affliction”? 

Probably just being terrified of getting one of the real historical details or dates wrong. One thing I’ve learned from writing historical romance is that there are many people out there who know every single inch of a topic (like railroad history!) and will call you out on it. Salem is a time in history that is extensively written about and studied, and there are real people existing in this world even as my fictional Hannah and Nicholas weave in and out among them, and I did not want to mess it up. 

You did a lot of research for your story (and I loved the references you included at the end). What was it like researching the people and stories of Salem? Did you find any interesting details you would like to share that perhaps didn’t make it into the book? 

As I said, this is a time period that is extensively studied and written about. There are so many great books about Salem out there, and I read what felt like a billion of them. Like many, my original knowledge of Salem came from Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, and just learning how much of that play is inaccurate and how much he twisted in order to make it a parallel to McCarthyism, was eye-opening. One wonderful book full of interesting information I could not include was Salem Witch Judge: The Life and Repentance of Samuel Sewall. Sewall was one of the judges, but his post-Salem life, guilt, and turn to social activism is fascinating. 

What future projects can we look forward to seeing from you both in the future? 

I’m thrilled to announce that I have a holiday novella forthcoming – MADAMS & MISTLETOE, which I’m describing as “Like Harlots, but in Deadwood, at Christmas.” While I’m pondering which of a few projects to work on next, the third and final book in my Gilded Brides series will be coming soon (I’m hoping for Spring 2022) and I think its going to be a lot of fun. 

A sneak peek at Marie Piper’s next book!

Novels, Publications

Signed Book Sale (Online-US Only)

I realize that with the pandemic and such, many people were unable to attend events to purchase a signed copy of my book. With that in mind, I’ve put together a google form so you could do just that!

Unfortunately, this offer is for US readers only, as there are many complications right now shipping oversees. I am looking into alternative options for oversees readers though, so please give me time!

For those in the US, here is how you can order your own signed copies of my books. Click the link (above) and it will take you to a google form. Fill out the form with which books you would like to purchase, which name you would like them signed to, and your address & email.

Once I have your responses, I will send a square invoice for the cost of the books and shipping. Once that is paid, I will mail out your books!

It’s as easy as that!

I do hope you all will enjoy getting signed copies. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me using the contact forum on my website!


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Giveaways, Novels

“A Second Chance” Giveaway

It is time to do a giveaway for a signed copy of “A Second Chance”!

I know you’re wondering, how can you be entered to win? I decided to do something a little more interactive than previous giveaways. To enter, you need to comment on one of my social media posts for this giveaway — by sharing a shelfie (a picture of your bookshelf) that has your favorite book included! You can access the posts by clicking below:

You can enter on all platforms for more a chance to win! You will know it is the correct post as it will have this image…

I look forward to the giveaway on September 15th!

~Shanna Pikora

Events, Novels, Publications

Romance Rendezvous Book Blast (2021)

Thank you to all of you who came out to the Romance Rendezvous Book Blast in Cedar Falls, Iowa this last weekend! It was so amazing to be a part of this amazing local event — especially since I have attended so many times as a reader myself. But it meant even more to be attending as a published author this year!

My table at #RRBB2021

The event itself was so much fun! I got to make new friendships with authors and readers alike. I really hit it off with some special people at the event — particularly my table neighbors and table mate. Originally, I was supposed to only have a half table and share with Victoria Hyla (an AMAZING author) but someone canceled last minute so I got upgraded! And boy am I glad I did, because I may have…over prepared… And it also meant Victoria got her own table as well!

Although I didn’t get to share with Victoria, I still really connected with my table neighbors — Robin Andrews and J.M. Blake. A special shoutout to J.M. Black, who after finding out it was my first signing event, took time to check in with me throughout the event to make sure I was having a good time. It was times like that I felt extra special to have been a part of RRBB.

Not only did I meet some incredible authors (and make new friends) but I also met some fantastic readers as well! I sold multiples of each of my books, which made me feel elated and like I was officially doing this — I was officially a selling author…even typing it now makes me so overwhelmed with joy.

I also want to shout out to my amazing husband (who managed to dodge all chances at a photo) and my amazing best friend (who was also my table assistant) for all they did to help me prepare and be at this event. If you both are reading this, know I honestly and truly couldn’t have done it without you!

Myself and my amazing bestie…and my cat Frey. And before you ask, no, we did not plan to match so completely! XD

As I said, the event was joyous and already has me planning for the next one (which probably won’t be until 2022, sadly). I have more ideas for stories, swag, raffle baskets, and more…assuming it will all fit on my table. I will definitely request a full sized table next year. Having the extra room was nice to spread out and display all the fun things people could grab as giveaways!

By the end, I had not only sold books, but bought many myself. And won a raffle basket from the amazing Ava Cuvay! I can’t wait to go back to the event next year. I will treasure my new friendships and hoard my new pile of books. It was so fun to spend the day with all the readers and get to know everyone better.

It was especially touching for me to get a hug and welcome from one of my favorite authors at this event, Tricia Andersen. She was the first author I bought from (her Gods of DC Series and Hallow Brother Series) when I first attended RRBB all those years ago. I have been a big fan of hers for so long, and to have that special moment where she smiled and welcomed me into the author’s circle, it meant so much to me!

Be sure you put the date on your calendar now for next year’s Romance Rendezvous Book Blast (August 20th, 2022 — Cedar Falls, Iowa), as it is sure to be an amazing time with amazing authors and readers! Until then, be sure to check out my latest novel, “A Second Chance”, and keep an eye out for more updates soon! ❤

Events, Novels, Publications, Writing

Romance Rendezvous Book Blast (August 21st, 2021)

I’m so excited to be getting ready for the Romance Rendezvous Book Blast (RRBB) in August. I have attended many years as a reader and I’m overjoyed to now be one of the attending authors! This event will be taking place in Cedar Falls, Iowa and is FREE TO ATTEND! There will be many romance authors (of a variety of sub-genres) with fun games, raffles, and swag. It’s a great way to find new authors to follow and new books to read.

As you can see, there are MANY authors you could visit and talk with — I’m only one of them! I have been spending the last couple months getting ready for this event and publishing my first contemporary romance novel, “A Second Chance”. I’m so excited that I FINALLY got my copies in and am now ready to go!

In addition to selling “A Second Chance”, I will also be selling my other two publications: “Goodnight, Little Grubb” (Children’s Picture Book) and “Fae Spreads: 2020” (Tarot Spreads Book). In addition, I plan to have lots of fun swag and even a raffle basket for those who purchase a book or sign up for my newsletter!

I hope you all will consider attending the Romance Rendezvous Book Blast. It is sure to be a lot of fun! Until then, happy reading and be sure to follow me on my other social media platforms for more updates and sneak peeks! ❤