First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts an Anthology by The Insecure Writer’s Group

My Review of the Anthology:

First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts

First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts is an anthology of love stories put together by The Insecure Writer’s Support Group and published by Dancing Lemur Press, LLC. As a Book Reviewer, I received a free copy of First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts, and this is my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor any review.

There are ten love stories by ten different writers in this anthology. The writers from this anthology range from this being their first published story to those who have one book published to some who have multiple books published. The contributing authors are: Linda Budzinski, Melissa Maygrove, Katie Klein, Templeton Moss, Sammi Spizziri, Sylvia Ney, Michael Di Gesu, Kim Elliott, Denise Covey, and S. E. White.

The stories range from a variety of genres. They also range from characters in their twenties to their fifties to post-retirement. Each of these stories is unique and each is extremely well written. Each drew me into the story from the start and held my attention throughout. Each story and several characters made a strong impression upon me, from the man with the inability to clearly recall his first love to the young orphan who married a man an entire town hated.

I highly recommend First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts to anyone who truly enjoys and craves good romance stories with a unique plot, endearing characters, or both. I don’t reread novels, no matter how much I love them, because I don’t have time, as I’m always reading new books because there are so many great new books to explore and, of course, in my case, to review. However, because these are short stories—I can read one in half an hour—I look forward to reading the stories in First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts again and again. And don’t ask me which of the ten stories I liked best, because I honestly couldn’t pick just one favorite from the bunch. I truly enjoyed them all because of their high writing quality and unique story lines.

Interview of Ten Authors Pt. 2

Welcome back, if you read yesterday’s post. If not, you might want to, as this is the second part of yesterday’s post — my interview with the second half of the ten authors who wrote short stories for the anthology First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts.

Today we start with Author Sylvia Ney:

Q: Your website lists “First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts” as a YA/NA book. What is the difference between YA and NA?

A: YA means young adult, and NA means new adult. YA is usually aimed at ages 12-18, and NA at ages 18-25. However, there is a lot of cross readerships between the two, and older adults are known to enjoy some of each as well… such as with the Harry Potter and Twilight series.

Q: You write stories of many different genres. Does that make it more difficult to gain a readership following?

A: Yes, and no. Some people are only interested in a specific genre and will only follow authors who write in that single genre. However, there is an increasingly eclectic audience that enjoys a variety. I’ve noticed those fans are more concerned with voice than genre. Once they find an author they like, they will watch for any release by them.

Q: Where can readers learn more about you and read more of your writing?

A: My website at: https://www.sylviacney.com/about-sylvia and social media is a great place to learn more. All of my fiction pieces are available through Amazon, and a lot of my nonfiction can be found for free online via my website.

Michael Di Gesu:

Q: It’s unusual for men to write romance stories, although Nicholas Sparks definitely proved that men are quite capable of doing so, as does your story, “Oliver’s Girl,” which is a very touching, sweet romance story. How was “Oliver’s Girl” chosen to be included in the “First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts” anthology?

A: I believe “Oliver’s Girl” was chosen because it had the requirements necessary for this particular anthology. The judges were looking for a “sweet” romance about first love, and I believe my story hit on both these requirements. The story is also unusual because it spans six decades and has an unlikely character, Olivia, who brings an unexpected reunion between her great-grandfather, Oliver, and his first love, Francesca.

Q: On your blog you mention that this short story that is part of “First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts” anthology is your first “baby” going out into the world. Do you have plans for future stories or novels?

A: Actually, I have written three novels and several short stories in the past decade which I hope will be published. “Oliver’s Girl” was written specifically for this anthology. Most of my writing has been Middle Grade Fantasy, Contemporary Young Adult, and a Narrative Non-Fiction. I am currently working on a Chicago Noir novella. I have varied writing styles, and I am pushing myself to write in other genres. Once I stepped out of my comfort zone, my story was accepted and published. I also plan to write more romance since readers seem to enjoy it.

Q: I mentioned your blog. Will you provide the link here for readers? And, is this the only place readers can go to learn more about you and watch for more of your writing or can you share other links as well?

A: I would be delighted. Blog: https://writing-art-and-design.blogspot.com/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/DAK86 and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/michael.gesu

Kim Elliott:

Q: You have a novel, first of a planned series, about a superhero, so what inspired you to write about a rock and roll band for this anthology?

A: My kids have a huge impact on my writing because I’m inundated by whatever they happen to be taken with. I’ve always loved superheroes, but the main inspiration for my novel was my daughter’s obsession with Marvel cartoons. I wrote about rock music because my kids fell in love with ’80s hair bands. They listened to songs like Eye of the Tiger and Don’t Stop Believin’ on repeat. I found myself getting into the music along with them. Another factor that informed my story was winning a radio contest. Years ago I called in and received advance screening tickets to Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Though time has passed, I still feel attached to that station. Those are the DJs I listen to most often, even though I prefer the music on another station. In “Clyde and Coalesce,” I wanted to explore what it’s like to have a deep connection with a local radio station.

Q: What did you like best about writing for “First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts”?

A: I enjoyed the experience of working with a publisher. My other works are self-published, so it has been a great learning opportunity!

Q: Where can readers learn more about you and read more of your writing?

A: My website is the place! https://kimelliottauthor.weebly.com/ Readers can find information about who I am, the genres I favor, and upcoming projects. If visitors want to explore further, there are links to Amazon, Goodreads, Wattpad, and more.

Denise Covey:

Q: With everyone growing tired of the seemingly unending pandemic, what made you decide to write it into your story for this anthology?

A: I am aware there is a negative view regarding writing the pandemic into our stories and therefore I usually avoid mentioning Covid-19. However, my story idea was inspired by many things, including Covid-19, so I used it for a springboard into my story and offered hope that one day the pandemic will end. C’est la vie.

We all have differing opinions about how we write, and I like truth in my writing. If we’re writing a story set in this time, it makes sense to me to give the pandemic a mention seeing it’s all around us. I’ve read countless novels set in the wars, including some documenting the great disaster of the Spanish flu. I don’t understand why mentioning Covid-19 is frowned upon by some. I allude to it in other pieces of my writing, but in “Marmalade Sunset” it is an underpinning element to the action.

Q: You write quite a bit of paranormal romance and a bit of contemporary romance. Your story for “First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts” is a romance set in Greece and includes a lot of history. What inspired you to write about Greece and some of its history?

A: I had taken a cruise to the Greek Islands just before the pandemic hit. Most of the action in my story is in places/situations where I have first-hand experience. Through my character, Cora, I tried to recreate the exhilaration I felt zipping along the gorgeous paved streets of Santorini and popping into musty little shops full of treasures. On a tour of Oia at the top of the island, I learned of the tragic wartime history of the inhabitants who hid in caves and lived on onions and grass and how hard it has been to come back after losing so many of its citizens.

I love learning something new when I read a story, so I hope someone learned something new reading Marmalade Sunset.

Q: Where can readers learn more about you and read more of your writing?

A: I’m an emerging Australian writer of both paranormal romance and contemporary romance who has self-published 5 novels or novellas on Amazon, available to buy or read for free on Kindle Unlimited.

-My paranormal romance series set in Renaissance Italy and Paris has 2 of 4 books published. -I have used my experience of living in Paris for 6 months and visiting often, to write a women’s fiction with romantic elements series called “It Happened in Paris”. Paris Dreams, first in the series, is published and features fashion and art. I’m currently working on the second in the series, a cookery school novel set in Paris. My characters come from around the globe to learn to cook traditional French dishes. If the planets align, it will be published in October on the anniversary of Paris Dreams. -I’ve also published 3 booklets of short stories, 1 in the contemporary romance genre and 2 in the paranormal genre with Halloween in mind.

You can find a full list of my titles on my Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Denise-Covey/e/B016U970GG/ref=aufs_dp_fta_dsk

You can find out more about me and read free stories on my blog: https://dencovey.blogspot.com/ You can visit/join my Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/171668358295270/permalink/199872862141486/?sale_post_id=199872862141486 My Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14548548.Denise_Covey And you can sign up for my Reader group at: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/a0g9b3

S. E. White:

Q: Your story in the “First Love” The Art of Making Doughnuts” anthology, “The Castle of Ohno” is very much like a familiar fairy tale. Is it supposed to be a “retelling”, or is it your very own fairy tale?

A: “The Castle of Ohno” is not so much a retelling as it is a love letter to classic fantasy tropes and fairytale flavor. I love the almost forgotten about, less-well-known stories like East of the Sun, West of the Moon; The Robber Groom; or Allerleirauh. They could be quite successful horror stories if they were marketed a little differently. And all of them take real situations, real feelings that humans experience, and add a touch of magic. Which, to me, is what falling in love for the first time feels like. The title was a direct riff on the classic Gothic story, “The Castle of Otrano”, though. My story has less deadly helmets and sudden skeletons telling prophecies, and more happy endings. If that helps.

Q: “First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts” anthology was created by The Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Are you a member and can you tell us a little bit about this group?

A: I am a member of the group, and have been for around five years now. I will happily tell you about it! The group meets online (the socially anxious rejoice!) once a month, on the first Wednesday of each month. It’s built around the idea of making connections to share Our stories, air out our insecurities, and get some support from the digital friends we make from all over the world. It’s a great group to be a part of, and the support is real. I very much recommend checking it out if you are an author or writer of any type.

Q: Where can readers learn more about you and read more of your writing?

A: Readers who are so interested can check out my website: https://sewhitebooks.com/ They could also try Instagram if they like social media (@sewhiteauthor), although I will warn them in advance that my Instagram contains many listicles rating alien romance by some highly improbable features.

There you have it. If you have read both yesterday’s post and this post, you have received a little taste of the stories and a glimpse of the authors you will find in tomorrow’s great new release: “First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts” anthology. The authors whose stories are included in the anthology are all part of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

If my interview with the 10 authors of “First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts” hasn’t convinced you that you should buy a copy tomorrow and read it for yourself, then come back here tomorrow and read my review of “First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts”.

Interview of Ten Authors

I have had the unique privilege of interviewing ten authors who have written short stories for a new romance anthology, First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts, which releases on Tuesday, September 6, 2022. I also received a free ebook copy of the anthology to read to aid in creating questions for each author, and to write a Book Review of First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts, which I will post here on Tuesday.

Because there were ten authors to interview, I will post my interview questions and the answers of five of the authors today and the other five tomorrow. This is not an in-depth interview of each author. Instead, in this interview, I ask each author a little bit about the story they wrote for the anthology to whet your reading appetite in hopes that you will grab your own copy of First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts on Tuesday! I have also asked each author where you can find more about them and more of their writing.

The first author is Linda Budzinski:

Q: Where did your idea for the short story, “The Art of Making Doughnuts”, come from?

A: I write young adult romance, so when I saw the anthology’s theme was First Love, I, of course, thought about writing something with teen main characters. But the more I thought about it, the more I was drawn to the idea of writing about someone who finds her true “first love” later in life. And I wanted this character to be happy with her current situation, because although I am a romantic at heart, I absolutely believe that people can be happy on their own as well. I wanted the romance to be a “plus” for her, not a “must”. I needed her to be independent and wanted her to have an interesting job, so a cop seemed like a good fit. And who would a cop fall in love with? Why, the man who makes the doughnuts, of course!

Q: I read that you write mainly Young Adult Fiction, so what inspired you to write about characters that are 50+?

A: I’ve been writing teen romance for about 15 years, so I was a little nervous about writing one for adults. But it wasn’t so different. Every good romance starts with the character, and Gina is a much more mature, self-confident person who knows herself better than any of my teen characters have. She is simply in a different stage of life. She knows who she is and what she wants, and has been working toward it for many years. So her relationship with Pete has a very different sensibility than a teen romance might. I ended up falling in love with both of them as I wrote their story (and, in fact, am currently working on turning it into a novel!).

Q: Where can readers learn more about you and read more of your writing?

A: They can find me at https://lindabudzinski.com/ and can follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LindaBudzinskiAuthor/ and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/LindaBudz

Author Melissa Maygrove:

Q: Your story, “My Heart Approves”, is a Mail Order Bride story. Are you aware of any records that tell of any mail order brides from real life that did include a “real love relationship” and not just a marriage of convenience or necessity?

A: Many mail-order couples corresponded for months before deciding to marry and grew quite fond of each other. On the flipside, there’s the story of Eleanor Berry, who courted by mail, only to discover at her wedding that her groom was the same man who had robbed her stagecoach.

Q: What draws you to writing Western Historical Romance?

A: I grew up watching Little House on the Prairie and have always felt I was born a century too late. I love the stoic, hard-working mindset of 19th century settlers as well as their traditional values. I’m also fascinated when I study the details of how they lived.

Q: Where can readers learn more about you and read more of your writing?

A: They can follow me on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Melissa-Maygrove/e/B00JL4UPCY and BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/melissa-maygrove and they can get a FREE book titled Bride for Sale when they sign up for my newsletter at: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/uonrrvm6ze My website is: http://www.melissamaygrove.com/

Author Katie Klein:

Q: I found “How to Save a Princess” a very unique story. What led you to such a unique idea for a romance story?

A: I actually started with a writing prompt I stumbled across online. I was poking around for some inspiration and found a prompt about a handsome neighbor saving a girl from an ex-boyfriend. So I made the ex her first love and the neighbor someone she’d been wanting to meet, and the story grew from there.

Q: Do you always write your main character in first person, and if so, why?

A: I do. I know the genre is divided on this, and every reader has their preference, but I love writing in first person, and I love reading it. It makes me feel fully immersed in the story.

Q: Where can readers learn more about you and read more of your writing?

A: I blog at https://katiekleinwrites.blogspot.com/

I have a free first in series urban fantasy available (The Guardian) at: https://books2read.com/u/mv1MNz

And I’m pretty active on Twitter: https://twitter.com/katiekleinbooks/status/1564271152909979650

Author Templeton Moss:

Q: You’ve written a lot of books for kids, so what inspired you to write a story for “First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts” which is geared more toward adults?

A: For me, the focus is always on telling a good story. One that is of interest to me and (I dearly hope) others. My style tends to gravitate toward the silly and fanciful which is why so many of my stories come out as “children’s stories”.

Q: Would you write a romance story again, and would you consider writing for adults again?

A: In a way, everything I write has been for adults. I think it’s important for grownups to remember what it’s like to be a kid. So while I’m pleased that kids do read my stories, I consider my work to be more “kids’ stories for grownups.”

Q: Where can readers learn more about you and read more of your writing?

A: If they visit http://www.sixtysomethingtrees.com/, readers can read several stories and poems I’ve written (some for kids, some for grownups) as well as links to where they can buy my various books, or books that my work appears in, like First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts.

Author Sammi Spizziri:

Q: How would you explain the importance of fact-to-face interaction to young adults?

A: The importance of face-to-face interaction is something that’s better experienced than explained. It often requires greater risk and vulnerability, but it’s that very vulnerability that allows for a deeper connection. I think you can absolutely make great friends online and keep in touch with old ones long distance but nothing beats being in the same room as someone. I actually met my husband online but we always say there’s a difference between online dating and online meeting. We met online and very intentionally moved to in-person quickly so as to truly get to know each other outside of written communication. This short story explores the difference between starting a relationship purely online–with all the filters and self-editing you want–and one in person, when it’s raining and you’re anxious and all your flaws are all to visible.

Q: Do you find it more difficult to write short stories than novels? Why or why not?

A: Each format has its own difficulties. I don’t read as many short stories as novels so writing them doesn’t come as intuitively for me. It’s hard to develop a character and tell a full story so succinctly. On the other hand, novels require so many moving parts and subplots and details, which makes keeping track of everything its own challenge.

Q: Where can readers learn more about you and read more of your writing?

A: While I don’t have any other published work just yet, readers can keep up-to-date with any new releases on my website: https://sammispizziri.com/ and follow me on social media (links on my website).

Be sure to come back tomorrow to read the interviews of the other five authors who wrote short stories for First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts.