Thursday, October 29, 2009

Book Review: One Holy Night by Joan Hochstetler



A husband and father, tormented by nightmares of a war he can't forget.

A wife and mother, fighting a battle of her own.

A misunderstood son, serving in another controversial conflict overseas.

A married daughter, always playing the peacemaker.

And the baby, who would change it all!

The Viet Nam conflict is in full swing, but Frank McRae still lives in the past, tormented by his nightmares of fighting the Japanese in WWII. Even worse, Frank's family is being torn apart. His wife Maggie, the love of his life, is being tortured by ovarian cancer. The thought of losing her is devastating and he urges her to continue the fight. His son, Mike, goes off to Viet Nam, where God knows what could happen to him. Actually, Frank knows all too well.

When Frank learns that Mike has fallen in love with Thi Nhuong, despite Maggie's pleas and his daughter Julie's urging, Frank disowns his son. If there is a God, where is He? How could he let such horrible things happen?

"As on that holy night so long ago...
in a world torn by sin and strife...
to a family that has suffered heart-wrenching loss...
there will be born a baby..."

I have never read a book quite like One Holy Night. This modern-day retelling of the nativity story set in Minnesota in 1967, finds a family that is torn apart by the war, disease, and suffering brought together again by the miraculous birth of a baby.

This is a deeply emotional, heart-wrenching book. I have never cried so much while reading as I did with One Holy Night. And yet, it is such an inspiring story of hope and how God's grace touches all of us, that you can't help but feel uplifted by the time you're done reading it--which certainly won't take you long because you'll never be able to put it down once you start.

Hochstetler has a rare gift for words. As I write this review, I don't feel I've even been able to express how touching and powerful this story is, how the author's words created so much emotional energy in me that I had to keep reading until I finished, and then was ready to read it all over again.

One Holy Night is destined to become a Christmas classic as moving as Max Lucado's The Christmas Child. This book would also be wonderful on film.

If you want to experience the true meaning of Christmas, buy this book. I can't recommend it highly enough. Joan Hochstetler has gained a fan for life!


Title: One Holy Night
Author: Joan Hochstetler
ISBN-10: 0-9797485-0-X
ISBN-13: 978-0-9797485-0-9
SRP: $12.99

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Will You NaNoWriMo?


So, how many of you are going to tackle National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this year? I had several reservations, as I am busier than I have ever been, but I decided I wanted to paticipate too much to ignore the desire and knew I had to go for it.

For those like me who are considering adding a sizeable project into an already jam-packed schedule, my latest Writer2Writer article might give you a hand. "Tackling the Big Gorilla - How to Add a Large Project to Your Schedule and Still Be Stress-free around the Holidays".

For help preparing for NaNoWriMo, including many links and resources, visit the Let's Write a Novel Together blog.

Good luck to everyone who will be participating in NaNoWriMo 2009!

Rolf Hitzer and Hoodoo Sea



The government of the United States of America is on the verge of startling the world.

Billions of dollars had been invested in its space program.

And now, the moment of truth has arrived…

Scott Reed is the man for the historic mission. He is the Wing Commander chosen by the elite brass at NASA. The assignment to test flight the first speed of light craft, held top secret, was about to shock the world. The risk? Utter and complete failure. The reward? Being a part of the greatest human accomplishment ever known to mankind.

Major James Harrow, second in command of the four person crew, despised his Wing Commander. Harrow was a proud and patriotic American. What was NASA thinking when they selected a Canadian to pilot the voyage? There was no comparison as to who was the better skilled aviator. This was his time, his moment. Major James Harrow was about to prove to everybody they were wrong to bypass him as Commander.

The weather conditions were perfect and lift-off for the test flight was text book. The triumphant cheers from Mission Control in Houston were echoed all the way to Cape Canaveral. The silent fear of the first hurdle of the flight had been succumbed. All systems were go! That is, until the crew and SOLT-X1 entered the Bermuda Triangle…


Rolf Hitzer was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada in 1959 and raised by his parents, Erna and Julius Hitzer.

Rolf attended Princess Margaret Elementary School, John Pritchard Junior High and Graduated from Kildonan East Regional Secondary School where he had majored in Culinary Arts.

Rolf is married to his wife Irma since 1997. Together they have a wonderful blended family with Rita and Clark Bodoano and grandchildren, Alexandria, Patrick and Braeden. Jason and Leah Tutlies, and Grandson Easton. Mandel Hitzer, and the youngest Jessica Hitzer. Clearly the growth of his family is still a work in progress.

Rolf Hitzer has several passions besides writing, they include being at the log cabin on weekends. Spending time on the water with a fishing pole in hand. Wildlife viewing and especially Moose calling during the fall rut. Playing a range of Poker card games and a variety of board games.

Rolf is a Member of the Winnipeg Real Estate Board, The Manitoba Real Estate Association and the Canadian Real Estate Association. He is currently working on his second novel.

For more information on his book visit: www.hoodoosea.com.


Hodoo Sea is available at Amazon.com and Blue Water Press LLC.

To see where Rolf stops next on his virtual book tour, visit http://virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Land Beyond Ravens by Kathleen Cunningham Guler



No one in 5th century Britain knows more secrets than master spy Marcus ap Iorwerth, and that makes him a dangerous man. It also makes him a hunted one. For nearly three decades he has manipulated stubborn, irascible kings and warlords in a quest to not only unite them against foreign invasion but to stop them from destroying each other as well. And along with his beloved wife Claerwen, he has followed a greater, even more perilous pursuit—to forge a clear path for the fulfillment of Merlin the Enchanter’s famed prophecy that one day a great king will take command, the king known as Arthur of the Britons.

Now, with Arthur at last on the brink of adulthood and already showing great promise as a leader, Marcus discovers that the emerging Christian church is gaining enough power to dangerously shift control of Britain. At the same time Claerwen, gifted with second sight, is plagued with strange dreams that connect inexplicable doom to both Arthur and a long lost grail sacred to Britain’s high kings.

As foreboding mounts, Marcus struggles to prevent the church from crushing Arthur’s chances of becoming an effective king. But how he goes about it sets up the very doom that Claerwen sees. Will she be able to stop him? Or will her visions send Marcus to his own doom as well?

PRAISE FOR A LAND BEYOND RAVENS:

"...intriguing and suspenseful..." - Sharon Kay Penman, NY Times bestselling author of Here Be Dragons and Falls the Shadow

"...intricately crafted language alive with detail..." -Jen Delyth, artist and author of Celtic Folk Soul: Art, Myth and Symbol

"...fast-paced and surprising..." - Mark Adderley, author of The Hawk and the Wolf



Novelist Kathleen Cunningham Guler is the author of the multi-award winning Macsen’s Treasure Series. Drawing on a long background in literature and history as well as her Welsh and Scottish heritage, she has published numerous articles, essays, reviews, short stories and poetry. The author is a member of the Historical Novel Society, the International Arthurian Society and participates in various writing organizations.

You can visit her website at www.KathleenGuler.com


AVAILABLE AT AMAZON.COM!


Saturday, October 24, 2009

BIG FOOT AND THE HAIRY MAN: FACT OR FICTION? by Marilyn Meredith, Author of DISPEL THE MIST



Marilyn Meredith's virtual book tour continues with this guest post about the Hairy Man, an Native American legend similiar to Big Foot. This creature plays a role in Marilyn's new Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, Dispel the Mist.

A Tulare County Supervisor, with both Native American and Mexican roots, dies under suspicious circumstances. Because of Deputy Tempe Crabtree’s own ties to the Bear Creek Indian Reservation, she’s asked to help with the investigation. To complicate matters, besides the supervisor’s husband, several others had reason to want the woman dead.

Tempe has unsettling dreams, dreams that may predict the future and bring back memories of her grandmother’s stories about the legend of the Hairy Man. Once again, Tempe’s life is threatened and this time, she fears no one will come to her rescue in time.

You can purchase Dispel the Mist from Amazon or the publisher's website. You can order an autographed copy directly from Marilyn by visiting her website at http://fictionforyou.com/.


BIG FOOT AND THE HAIRY MAN: FACT OR FICTION? by Marilyn Meredith

Most of us have seen home movies purported to be Big Foot moving through the forest. And some of us have traveled Highway 1 up California’s Northern California coast and seen the gift shops and signs heralding Big Foot.

When I was in Crescent City (the last California town before Oregon) doing a booksigning, I met a Tolowa woman who told me many stories about Big Foot and people who had actually seen him, or a female counterpart and child. She was such a fascinating personality she became two people in Kindred Spirits.

While doing some Internet research about Big Foot, I came upon a site dedicated to The Hairy Man, a legendary being of the Tule River Indians. An actual pictograph of The Hairy Man, his wife and child are in a rock shelter on the Tule River Indian reservation. The paintings are thought to be between five hundred and a thousand years old. Like Big Foot, there have been recent sightings of The Hairy Man. No other pictographs of a Big Foot-like creature exist in California.

As an author, I was intrigued. I gratefully accepted an invitation to go on a field trip with the local college’s anthropology class to the place where the pictographs are, The Painted Rock.

It is not an easy place to find or get to, but once I was there I was thrilled. The painting of the Hairy Man looks much like what is on the cover of Dispel the Mist except it is more colorful—and he is eight-foot tall. Amazing.

While I was gazing upon the Hairy Man and scribbling notes, our Indian guide stared at me sternly and said, “Don’t come out here after dark.” Though that wasn’t something I’d even try, I asked, “Why not?” His answer, “There are too many spirits here at night,” convinced me that Tempe would indeed visit this spot after dark.

I also asked him if he knew anyone who’d seen the Hairy Man. His answer was that his father had seen him. I knew from my research on the Internet that there were others who’d also glimpsed the Hairy Man moving around the mountainside.

In Dispel the Mist, Tempe remembers stories her grandmother told her about the Hairy Man. Strange dreams, which she isn’t able to interpret, haunt her as she investigates the murder of a popular county supervisor. Of course Tempe has an encounter with the Hairy Man.

Do I believe in the Hairy Man? Why not. It’s certainly more fun to believe than not. Because I can see the mountains the Hairy Man inhabits from my office window, I do look up from my work and watch for him.

Marilyn Meredith is the author of over twenty-five published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest Dispel the Mist is from Mundania Press. Under the name of F. M. Meredith she writes the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series. No Sanctuary is the newest from Oak Tree Press.

She is a member of EPIC, four chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, WOK, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She was an instructor for Writer’s Digest School for ten years, served as an instructor at the Maui Writer’s Retreat and many other writer’s conferences. She makes her home in Springville CA, much like Bear Creek where Deputy Tempe Crabtree lives. Visit her at http://fictionforyou.com and at her blog - http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/.


To see where Marilyn stops next on her virtual book tour, please visit http://virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Son, John by Kathi Macias



Murder. Could there be a more chilling word? Could it be any more horrible than to have a loved one killed, brutally and heartlessly, without obvious reason or motive? When Liz Peterson’s elderly mother is found viciously beaten to death in her home, Liz and her husband, Charles, along with their grown son, John, and teenage daughter, Sarah, are horrified beyond words. Their previously predictable, respectable lives seem to have vanished without a trace, as they struggle to make sense of a senseless act.

And then a second blow—more devastating, if possible, than the first—rocks them to their core. John is arrested for his grandmother’s murder. As what’s left of the Peterson family begins to crumble under the weight of loss and accusation, the Petersons’ longstanding Christian faith is put to the test in a way they could never have imagined, and unconditional love is stretched to its limits. Will family ties and relationships withstand such a crushing blow, or will evil succeed in dividing and conquering this once close and inseparable family?

"My Son, John might just be the most powerful novel on forgiveness and unconditional love that you'll ever read!"--The Book Connection Click here to read the whole review.

Watch the Trailer!




Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored nearly 30 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences, and recently won the prestigious 2008 member of the year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) at the annual Golden Scrolls award banquet. Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband, Al, where the two of them spend their free time riding their Harley

Visit Kathi’s website at www.kathimacias.com and her blog at http://kathieasywritermacias.blogspot.com/. Beginning October 15, 2009, listen to Kathi as she hosts “Write the Vision” every Thursday from 6—7 p.m. (Pacific Time) via THE International Christian Network (www.theicn.com).


My Son, John by Kathi Macias is available at Amazon as a trade paperback and a Kindle edition.

Robert Tuchman and Young Guns



As a recent college graduate, there is no better time to take risks—especially when it comes to making career choices. Too often, young employees find themselves in unfulfilling jobs with little chance of advancement. But with the right advice, they can strike out on their own and chase their dreams. Author Robert Tuchman knows what it takes to break free of a frustrating job and build a career on your own terms. In Young Guns, he shows readers how to start out on a business venture, how to gain a client base, how to keep those clients, and what they need to sacrifice along the way in order to succeed. Young entrepreneurs will learn how to:


• formulate their great idea

• identify their strengths

• develop a realistic business plan

• get out and meet the right people

• capitalize a venture

• make a business stand out in a crowded marketplace

• find and get along with a business partner


Filled with real-life examples of entrepreneurs under 35 who have made it to the top, this is the book that will show readers how to go for the gold and lead a passionate, daring, and successful life.

READ THE REVIEWS!!!!

"...I highly recommend it (Young Guns) for a person who is considering starting their own business. This is a book that you can and should read before you have an idea - it could even spark a great business idea and he will also help you develop the skills you need to launch a business." - Nikki Leigh, Author and Publicist

"As an extremely recent college graduate at a terrible time for job hunting and the economy, this book seemed like a necessity. It also has given me a lot of motivation. I blew through the book quick because it was a great read with lots of helpful advice that I plan on putting to use. This is definitely going to keep my worrisome thoughts at a low." - David Hochman, Amazon Reviewer

"YOUNG GUNS: THE FEARLESS ENTREPRENEUR'S GUIDE TO CHASING YOUR DREAMS AND BREAKING OUT ON YOUR OWN shows professionals they can start and succeed in their own business even if they're young. The author abandoned his own dreams of being a sports writer to accept a position as a stockbroker trainee, and formed his own successful company out of his apartment which made the annual Inc. 500 list of America's fastest growing privately held companies. His inspirational account of how he did so with no investors and no money is perfect for any business collection." - Midwest Book Review



When journalists around the world need an authority to speak on the sports entertainment business, they turn to Robert Tuchman, founder and president of New York-based TSE Sports & Entertainment, a global leader in sports and entertainment promotion.

Founded in 1996 in his one-bedroom Manhattan apartment, TSE Sports & Entertainment has been listed in the annual Inc. 500 list of America’s Fastest Growing Privately-Held Companies and as one of the Top 100 Promotion Agencies in Promo Magazine. As a result, Tuchman has been quoted as a leading authority since 1999 in literally dozens of global publications including USA Today, The New York Times, and BusinessWeek.

A frequent guest on Your World with Neil Cavuto, Tuchman has appeared on CNN, the CBS Morning News, BET, and has been the subject of features in dozens of publications nationwide including The Wall Street Journal, Southwest Airlines’ Spirit magazine, and Entrepreneur, Tuchman is the quintessential voice of young, ambitious Americans.

A graduate of Boston University with a degree in broadcast journalism, Tuchman is a contributing writer for ESPN.com, providing travel tips and fan-friendly insight into the world’s major sporting events, including the U.S. Open and Ryder Cup. He began his professional career with Sports Phone in 1993, while also serving as an investment advisor with Lehman Brothers and as a sales representative for Chicago-based Sports Profiles.

In February 2006, Tuchman sold the majority of TSE Sports & Entertainment to North America Sports Media, Inc.. Tuchman remains as CEO and also maintains an ownership stake in the company. Clients he has worked or currently works closely with include Anheuser-Busch, Hershey, and Eastman Kodak Company.

In 2007, Robert Tuchman signed an agreement with AMACOM to write a part autobiography, part “how to” book titled, Young Guns: The Fearless Entrepreneurs Guide To Chasing Your Dreams and Breaking Out on Your Own. Tuchman is also the author of The 100 Sporting Events You Must See Live. Both books were released in April, 2009.


Buy Young Guns at Amazon.com. Also available in a Kindle edition.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Interview with Melissa Burmester, Author of the YA Fantasy Novel Ginger High



Joining us today is the talented author behind the young adult fantasy novel, Ginger High. We’ll talk to Melissa Burmester about her debut release, the challenges of being a young novelist and what her future plans are.
Welcome to The Book Connection, Melissa. We’re excited to have you here.

Why don’t you start by telling our readers a bit about yourself? When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?


I don’t remember but I have always been writing short stories. It just comes out, sometimes I don’t even know that I am writing.

Now at 14, you’ve already published your first novel. How do you feel about that? Is it all exciting or are there parts about being published so young that are scary too?

I feel… normal about it. I feel the same like before I published it. When I get a bad review I get sad but a couple of minutes later I just shrug it off. The scariest part is if I have to do a live interview either on the phone or on television. I am really shy and I don’t talk much unless I feel really comfortable around someone.


Tell us about Ginger High?

Ginger High is about a school that is for students with powers. Some of them can control air, fire, and some come heal. There is also an alternate universe called Animist where the people with powers reside. In this book, a group of students and their friends have to solve a murder that has been happening for years.

Where did you find the inspiration for this story?

Mew Mew Power. This anime show was my inspiration for the alternate world. Also I watched Angel and I loved it.

How long did it take you to bring this book from the first draft to the final published product?

It took about two years for everything. For the first draft I worked with it for a year then another year for the second draft and the editing.

Tell us about your main characters. Why will readers relate to them? What will they like about them?

Some readers might find some of the characters relationships like their own. There are a lot of friend problems between some of the characters. Also, some will not give up a relationship even if the other person wants them to.

Where can readers purchase a copy of Ginger High?

You can go to amazon.com.

Do you have a website or blog?

My website is www.gingerhigh.com.

What is up next for you? Any plans to release another book in the future?

I am working on the rewrite of Ginger High 2 right now. After that I might rewrite two other books that I wrote last year.

Thanks for spending time with us Melissa. I hope you’ll come back and visit us again soon. Good luck with your book!

READ THE REVIEWS:

"This is a fast moving story with plenty of twists and just enough action and adventure to keep the pages flowing." - Nelaine Sanchez, Blogger and Book Reviewer

"Fourteen year old, Melissa Burmester has written a fast paced debut novel; combining horror, mystery and fantasy." - Reviewthebook.com

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Author Spotlight: Scott Gale and Your Family Constitution


Your Family Constitution Helps Busy Parents to Create Manageable Family Structure

Just in time… a formerly stressed-out dad’s perspective provides a common-sense playbook to reach family harmony. As today’s parents cope with scores of competing obligations and responsibilities, raising kids with good core values is an extreme challenge. Combine this perpetual struggle with the effects of technological distractions, societal lack of discipline, and failures to communicate, and it is not hard to understand why so many parents throw up their hands in defeat and accept mere survival.

Author Scott Gale refused to settle for chaos. Instead, he designed a powerful tool that allowed him to alleviate family challenges through the thoughtful application of clarity, consistency and commitment (the “3Cs”). Your Family Constitution: A Modern Approach to Family Values and Household Structure tells his story and provides a step-by-step process that parents can follow to balance schedules and produce time they never before had, improve family communication, relieve pent-up frustration, and wrap healthy boundaries around core values; applying rewards, consequences and accountability standards to maintain them.
A stressed-out parent downloaded the first chapter and replied, “You are easy to read, easy to understand and easy to identify with. It seems that intentional parenting has gotten lost, and you’ve provided a blueprint for creating a family with positive family values, ideals and rules to live and grow by. So, thanks for your courage to detail your own experience and offer personal insights for the benefit of frustrated, busy and untrained parents.”


Scott Gale is an author and instructor at University of California Irvine. His passion is helping families communicate and re-connect in spite of today’s hectic lifestyle and increased demands. Scott’s new book, Your Family Constitution: A Modern Approach to Family Values and Household Structure, inspires readers to increase togetherness and progressively improve by leveraging clarity, consistency and commitment.

For more information on his book or to learn how to create your customized Family Constitution visit: http://www.yourfamilyconstitution.com/ or e-mail: sgale@yourfamilyconstitution.com.


Read the Reviews:

"...'Your Family Constitution: A Modern Approach To Family Values And Household Structure' by Scott Gale is so valuable for men and women striving to form, nurture, instill, and live the values they hold dear." - Midwest Book Reviews

"Mr. Gale has extracted the essence of parenting and incorporated it into an entertaining and easy to follow parent manual. Since we adopted our own Family Constitution, my kids have tackled their chores without complaints and the time we spend together has become much more rewarding. I highly recommend it to all parents." - Bentley Kerr, Amazon Reviewer

This book is also available in a Kindle edition.

To see where Scott stops next on his virtual book tour, please visit http://virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/.

Author Spotlight: Angel Lane by Sheila Roberts



The small town of Heart Lake is beginning to lose its friendly, small town feeling, so Sarah Goodwin, who owns the town bakery, Jamie Moore, owner of The Chocolate Bar, and Emma Swanson of Emma’s Quilt Corner decide it’s time to find a way to help people feel more connected. Their solution: random acts of kindness. And not just from them. The women sponsor a town meeting, encouraging the few people who turn out to start a movement. Soon people all over town are extending kindness to each other in heartwarming small ways. But as the three friends cope with lost cats, mixed signals, business challenges, and unexpected romance, they learn that no good deed goes unpunished. Most important, though, they learn that the only way to get a better life, a better town, a better world, is to give your heart.

EXCERPT:

Change. Sarah hated it, unless it was good and was happening to her. What she hated most was when people moved away. First her sister and brother-in-law had to drift off to California in search of sun – which was highly overrated, if you asked Sarah – and take her nieces. (At least one of them had had the good sense to come back.) Then Jonathan had left. And now Steph was moving.

And speaking of moving, Sarah thought, checking out the strangers driving past her, was Heart Lake some new destination spot? It seemed like lately she was seeing as many new faces as old, familiar ones. Why couldn’t life stay the same?

By the time she came through the door of the chocolateria even the sensual aroma that danced around her nose couldn’t tease her into a happy mood.

She took in the array of truffles behind the glass counter with a scowl and marched to where her niece, Jamie Moore, stood, smiling and holding out a steaming cup of Sarah’s usual weekly treat, a coconut mocha. (Hold the whipped cream – a woman had to draw the line somewhere.)

“I hope that’s a double,” said Sarah. “I need it.”

“A double with decaf so you won’t be awake all night,” said Jamie. She arched a delicately penciled blonde eyebrow. “Is this a two truffle day?”

“More like a ten, but I’ll stop at one. How could you tell?”

“Other than the fact that I knew Steph was leaving today? Just a lucky guess.”

Sarah took the mocha with a sigh and moved over to the glass case. A summer of weekly truffle treats at her niece’s new shop had already added three pounds to her hips. Even when Sarah was young she’d had a bit of a bubble butt. After opening the bakery it had grown from a bubble to a balloon, and now, by fifty-six, it was nearing the size of a hot air balloon. Every once in awhile she suggested to herself that changing this weekly coffee klatch to the back room of Emma’s quilt shop wouldn’t be a bad idea. A girl couldn’t get fat on fabric.

Her friend Kizzy, who owned a kitchen shop in town, kept urging her to join her teeny bikini diet club, but Sarah wasn’t ready for that. So Kizzy settled for getting Sarah out on a Sunday afternoon walk around the lake. Sarah wasn’t sure it did much good. At the rate she was going, to see any improvement she’d probably have to walk all the way to Florida. And back.

Okay, one truffle. She bent over to examine the rows and rows of treats calling to her from behind glass. Flavors ranged from dark chocolate with Grand Marnier filling to white chocolate with lavender. Then there was the fudge: traditional chocolate, rocky road, penuche, and the new caliente flavor with its south of the border bite. And now, with summer giving way to fall, white and milk chocolate-dipped apples had replaced double-chocolate ice cream bars.

“Decisions, decisions,” teased Jamie. How she managed to stay a size eight was a mystery. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that the girl didn’t eat.

“Don’t laugh. It’s hard when you’re only choosing one,” said Sarah. “You could do my hips a good deed and come up with a no-fat, no-calorie truffle.”

“I could,” Jamie agreed, “if I made it out of cardboard.”

“How about the white chocolate-raspberry?”

“Good choice,” Jamie approved, and pulled one out for her.

The shop door opened and in stepped a woman in her early thirties with a round, freckled face, a curvy figure, and strawberry blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail. She had a coat thrown on over jeans and a pink flower print flowing top. Emma Swanson, proud owner of Emma’s Quilt Corner. One Wednesday in September, she’d wandered into the shop just as Jamie and Sarah were getting ready to end their day with a dose of chocolate. The impromptu get together had quickly become a weekly tradition, and casual friendship had made a fast evolution into sisterhood.

Emma flipped the sign hanging on the door to Closed and locked it, announcing, “It’s officially five.”

“Good,” Jamie said with a sigh. “I’m ready to sit down. I’m pooped.”

“Too much business,” said Emma. “I wish I had that problem,” she added with a sigh.

“Be patient,” Sarah told her. “Quilting is catching on.”

“I hope so,” said Emma. “So far my best customers are still my grandma and my mom. And Mom doesn’t even quilt. Oh, and you, of course,” she added, smiling at Sarah.
Sarah had spent a small fortune on fabric a week earlier so she could make quilts for both the girls for Christmas. She’d been so busy with the bakery that she hadn’t quilted in years. But she was sure it would all come back to her, like riding a bicycle. She hadn’t ridden a bicycle in years, either. She’d rather quilt.

They settled at one of the white bistro tables on the other side of the shop, Emma and Sarah armed with their mochas and truffles and Jamie only with a cup of chocolate tea.

“No wonder you’re so skinny,” Emma said, pointing to it. “I don’t know how you keep from eating all your inventory.”

“I have Clarice for that. Anyway, I sampled so many truffles when I was first learning how to make these things that I don’t care if I ever taste another one again as long as I live. Well, unless it’s a new recipe,” she amended.

“I sampled a lot of my recipes when I started the bakery, too,” said Sarah. “All it did was turn me into an S.T.”

“Yeah, that was what did it all right,” mocked Jamie.

“What’s an S.T.?” asked Emma.

“Sweet Tooth,” Jamie answered for Sarah. “And you were an S.T. before you even opened the bakery. I was around, remember?”

Sarah shook her head. “This is the problem with having an older sister who makes you an aunt before your time. You end up with lippy nieces who know too much.”

“You imported me,” Jamie reminded her with a smile.

“And I’m glad I did. Someone in your family needed to come back home. You make a great addition to Heart Lake.” She took a sip of her mocha, then sighed.

“They’ll be back by Christmas,” Jamie reminded her, accurately interpreting the sigh.

“Seeing them go had to be pretty hard,” said Emma. “I know how much you love your granddaughters.”

“My mom wore sunglasses when I went to say good-bye,” said Jamie.

“Doesn’t everybody in L.A. wear sunglasses?” asked Emma.

“In the house?”

“Um, that’s weird.”

“She didn’t want me to see she’d been crying.”

“I was brave and didn’t cry,” bragged Sarah. “Not until they left, anyway.”

“Well, we sure could use a few more Stephs here,” said Jamie. “You’re not going to believe this, but two little twits ran the four-way-stop on Lake Way and Alder yesterday.”

Emma looked at her questioningly. “Somebody ran a stop sign and you’re surprised?”

“Somebody ran a stop sign in Heart Lake and I’m surprised,” Jamie corrected her. “There were two old ladies at the crosswalk. If I hadn’t let them go they’d still be standing there.”

“You know, people used to just about kill each other with kindness at that four-way stop,” Sarah reminisced.

“Well, they’ve kept the kill each other part,” said Jamie.

Emma sighed. “I wish Heart Lake could stay just like it was when I was in school.”

“Nice places like this can’t help but grow,” Sarah said. “Everyone wants to be the last person in Paradise. Of course, as more people move into Paradise it gets harder to stay connected. Then people stop caring and it’s not paradise any more.” She frowned and took a sip of her mocha. “I guess people are too busy to be nice.”

“It only takes a minute to let two old ladies cross the street,” Jamie said in disgust.

“Well, there’s your random act of kindness for the day,” Sarah told her. “You know,” she added thoughtfully, “if everybody just did one nice thing a day . . .”

“We’d be living in Mayberry,” Jamie finished.

“I used to love those old reruns when I was a kid,” said Emma.

Jamie rolled her eyes. “Why am I not surprised?”

Sarah was still thinking. “Why couldn’t we do one good deed a day?” she asked suddenly. “It might be fun to try. You know, paying it forward.”

“Like in the movie,” Emma said with a smile.

“That worked real well at the stop-sign,” said Jamie. She downed the last of her chocolate mint tea. “Well, here’s my something. Your chocolate therapy is on the house,” she said to Sarah and Emma. It always was, but she cocked an eyebrow and grinned at Emma. “So, top that.”

“Maybe I will,” Emma said. “If I see a hot-looking homeless guy, I’ll take him in for the night.”

Okay, they weren’t taking her seriously. Sarah could see that. But somewhere in there was a good idea, and she was going to find it.

READ THE REVIEWS:

"Roberts returns to Heart Lake, Wash., for a second beguiling visit (after Love in Bloom)." - Publisher's Weekly

"A beautifully written story that is populated with real and charming people." - FreshFiction.com

"Angel Lane is a delightfully, wonderful and inspiring story, that I had to literally pull myself away from." - Cafe of Dreams





Sheila Roberts lives in the Pacific Northwest. She's happily married and has three children. Writing since 1989, she has had 24 books published, both in fiction and nonfiction under different names and in different languages. However before she settled into her writing career, she did lots of other things, including owning a singing telegram company and playing in a band. But writing and helping others to find ways to make their lives better are her greatest passions.

Her down-to-earth wisdom and quirky upbeat sense of humor make Sheila a popular speaker to groups large and small. Her books are becoming perennial hot sellers. Her book Bikini Season was a Bookscan top 50, a Target Breakout Novel pick and an Amazon Beach Read pick. On Strike for Christmas will be released this year for the third year in the row and has been optioned for film. Her new release Love in Bloom has been chosen as a Reader’s Digest Condensed Book. Now… if she could just get on “Dancing with the Stars”!

You can visit her website at www.sheilasplace.com to find out about her latest women's fiction novel, Angel Lane.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Choosing Your Hero (It’s Kind of Like Getting Married) by James Hayman, Author of The Cutting



Today's guest blogger is thriller writer James Hayman, author of The Cutting.

Someone is Stealing the Hearts of Beautiful Young Women.

NYPD homicide detective Mike McCabe left New York for Maine to escape his own dark past and to find a refuge from the violence of the big city for himself and his teenaged daughter, but on the fog-shrouded, cobblestone streets of Portland he finds far more than he bargained for.

On a warm September evening the mutilated body of Katie Dubois, a pretty high school soccer star, turns up, dumped in a Portland scrap yard. Her heart has been neatly and expertly cut from her body. The same day Lucinda Cassidy, a young Portland business-woman and competitive runner, disappears during her morning jog.

Soon other bodies turn up. All young, all blond, all athletes. Very quickly McCabe discovers he’s on the trail of no ordinary killer. Rather his prey is a brilliant, psychopathic surgeon who kills in a bizarre way to satisfy his own strange and frightening desires.

McCabe knows he has to move fast. He has less than one week to find the killer before Cassidy dies and Casey, McCabe’s own daughter is threatened.

He also knows the clock is ticking.

"Choosing Your Hero (It’s Kind of Like Getting Married)" by James Hayman

I decided to write my first novel in January of 2006. I had no idea what I was getting into. Not a clue.

Yes, I’d been a writer all my life. I wrote TV commercials for a living for more than twenty-five years. And when I left the agency business to become a freelancer, I wrote brochures, byline articles, annual reports and white papers for clients mostly in the financial services and healthcare industries. I even wrote two non-fiction books. Big glossy corporate histories written under contract to corporate clients.

But never any fiction. Not even a single completed short story let alone a three-hundred page novel. But it was something I’d always wanted to try, I wasn’t getting any younger, and as Rabbi Hillel famously asked, “If not now, when?”

But where to begin? What kind of novel wasn’t much of an issue. I was and am a fan of thrillers. Michael Connelly, Ian Rankin, Tess Gerritsen, Dennis Lahane, and Laura Lippman are all among my favorites. I wanted to write the kind of book I liked to read.

Choosing a setting wasn’t a big issue either. I’d moved to Portland, Maine a few years earlier and was convinced Portland would make a great location for a series. For reasons why, check out my blog post “What Came First?” at http://www.jameshaymanthrillers.com/blog/.

A much tougher question was creating a hero I could live with. It seemed like it had all been done.

There are plenty of examples of the hero as superman as in Ian Fleming’s James Bond or, more recently, Lee Child’s hugely successful Jack Reacher series.

Ethnic diversity also abounds. Consider Alex McCall-Smith’s Mma Ramotswe from Botswana’s No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency and Tony Hillerman’s Navajo Indian detectives Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn.

Examples of interesting professions or unusual skills? No problem. Dick Francis’s ex-jockey turned private eye, John Dunning’s rare book expert in the Bookman series and, probably the biggest money-maker of all time, Dan Brown’s Harvard Symbolologist, Robert Langdon.

Handicapped detectives seemed to represent an entire sub-genre. Suzanne Barnhill notes in her piece The Perfect Detective Novel, “There are blind detectives (such as Ernest Bramah’s Max Carrados), deaf detectives (Jack Livingston’s Joe Binney, Ellery Queen’s Drury Lane, and Dwight Steward’s Sampson Terhune), and lame or handicapped detectives (M. K. Shuman’s Micah Dunn and John Lutz’s Fred Carver)” Of course, we’re all familiar with Raymond Burr’s wheelchair-bound Ironsides. And a writer named George C. Chesbro has even written a series featuring a dwarf detective who is also a professor of criminology.

There may be even more clergymen and women out there solving fictional crimes than handicapped people. A list compiled by reference librarian Beth Radcliffe includes eleven nuns as sleuths and eight series featuring priests (most famously G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown and Ralph McInerny’s more recent Father Dowling). Jews are less well represented, though Harry Kemelman’s Rabbi series (Friday the Rabbi Slept Late et al) was hugely successful. As for the Protestants,there are quite a few of those too. The one I’m most familiar with (and personally enjoy) is my fellow Mainer Julia Spencer-Fleming’s Rev. Claire Fergusson who is both an Episcopal priest and a US Army helicopter pilot (I believe Claire’s currently back in the pilot’s seat in Iraq, her National Guard unit having been called up.)

It seemed the only thing left for me was to create a series featuring trans-gender Siberian piano-tuner with a passion for raising parakeets. And, for all I knew, that had probably been done as well.

But the more I thought about it the more I realized it didn’t matter.

The heroes I liked best I liked not because of their peculiarities or deformities. They were simply flawed human beings like the rest of us. They solved murders because it was their job as cops. They were people we could all identify with. Yes, they each have a few individual quirks. Everyone does. Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch is the orphaned son of a prostitute and his first name is Hieronymus. Ian Rankin’s John Rebus is an anti-social alcoholic. And Tess Gerritsen’s Jane Rizzoli has deep insecurities, anger management issues and major problems with both her mother and her insensitive lout of a brother. But they are all cops and, more importantly, they are all real people.

And so Michael McCabe, the hero of The Cutting, was born. Like all good characters, McCabe has a few idiosyncrasies of his own. He studied to be a film-maker and has an encyclopedic knowledge of old movies. He has an eidetic memory and can remember verbatim virtually everything he ever read or heard. But most important he’s a real human being, a good guy cop with plenty of problems and flaws. He’s a single father struggling to raise a teenage daughter on his own. He drinks too much. He has a hang-up about his ex-wife Sandy and still dreams about her. And he thinks he can solve every crime all by himself with little or no help from anyone else. As McCabe’s partner Maggie tells him in The Cutting, “Shit, McCabe, you always think you can do everything alone. And you call Kane a risk-taker. Even the Lone Ranger never went anywhere without Tonto.”

If you intend to write a series think very hard about who you want your hero to be. It’s the single most important decision you’ll make. And if you’re successful you’ll have to live with him or her for a long long time.


Like McCabe, I’m a native New Yorker. He was born in the Bronx. I was born in Brooklyn. We both grew up in the city. He dropped out of NYU Film School and joined the NYPD, rising through the ranks to become the top homicide cop at the Midtown North Precinct. I graduated from Brown and joined a major New York ad agency, rising through the ranks to become creative director on accounts like the US Army, Procter & Gamble, and Lincoln/Mercury.

We both married beautiful brunettes. McCabe’s wife, Sandy dumped him to marry a rich investment banker who had “no interest in raising other people’s children.” My wife, Jeanne, though often given good reason to leave me in the lurch, has stuck it out through thick and thin and is still my wife. She is also my best friend, my most attentive reader and a perceptive critic.

Both McCabe and I eventually left New York for Portland, Maine. I arrived in August 2001, shortly before the 9/11 attacks, in search of the right place to begin a new career as a fiction writer. He came to town a year later, to escape a dark secret in his past and to find a safe place to raise his teenage daughter, Casey.

There are other similarities between us. We both love good Scotch whiskey, old movie trivia and the New York Giants. And we both live with and love women who are talented artists.

There are also quite a few differences. McCabe’s a lot braver than me. He’s a better shot. He likes boxing. He doesn’t throw up at autopsies. And he’s far more likely to take risks. McCabe’s favorite Portland bar, Tallulah’s, is, sadly, a figment of my imagination. My favorite Portland bars are all very real.

You can visit our website at www.jameshaymanthrillers.com.


To see where James Hayman stops next on his virtual book tour, please visit http://virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Medical Authorities Take Over the Government in Stewards of the Flame by Sylvia Engdahl



Joining us today is Sylvia Engdahl, author of the science fiction novel Stewards of the Flame.

When burned-out starship captain Jesse Sanders is seized by a dictatorial medical regime and detained on the colony planet Undine, he has no idea that he is about to be plunged into a bewildering new life that will involve ordeals and joys beyond anything he has ever imagined, as well as the love of a woman with powers that seem superhuman. Still less does he suspect that he must soon take responsibility for the lives of people he has come to care about and the preservation of their hopes for the future of humankind.

This controversial novel—winner of a bronze medal in the 2008 Independent Publisher (IPPY) book awards—deals with government-imposed health care, with end-of-life issues, and with the so-called paranormal powers of the human mind. Despite being set in the distant future on another world, it’s not intended just for science fiction fans. Blogcritics said, “The story is compelling, and drew me in from the first few pages. . . . Stewards of the Flame is a thought-provoking novel that may make you question the authority and direction of modern Western medical practices. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading genre fiction with some substance to it.”

"Government Controlled Health Care to the 10th Degree" by Sylvia Engdahl

Are you wondering how far government control of health care might go in the future society? In Stewards of the Flame, I carried it to its ultimate logical conclusion: a world in which medical authorities have taken over the government completely, leaving citizens no trace of personal freedom. There are no officials other than the hospital administrators, no police but the ambulance crews -- all crime is considered illness and untreated illness is considered crime. Unhealthy behavior is against the law. Even death is not allowed; bodies are maintained in stasis forever after minds cease to exist. The story is necessarily set in the distant future on a planet colonized by settlers from Earth. But although that makes the novel science fiction, it’s not meant just for sci-fi fans.

I have been disturbed for many years by the increasing involvement of government in personal health care decisions. Now, since the novel was written, this has become a timely issue. But I find that most of the people who oppose current proposals for the government to control health care aren’t worried for the same reasons I am. They are afraid that we won’t get enough medical care, that what we need will be denied us; whereas I am afraid that we will get too much. Certainly taxpayers will pay for too much, but that’s not the main issue. The issue, in my opinion, is that unnecessary health care and medication does more harm than good. It leads not to less illness, but to more. Furthermore, any attempt by the government to impose treatment where it’s not wanted is a violation of individual rights. If you think this isn’t beginning to happen, take a look at some of the real-life examples on the “background information” pages of my website at www.stewardsoftheflame.com.

It’s easy for government policy to slide from a genuine concern for people’s welfare toward an interest in maintaining power. As one of the characters in Stewards of Flame says, “Whenever health authorities succeed in overcoming some actual problem, such as contagion, they are left with a bureaucracy that must justify its existence by medicalizing more and more aspects of simply being human. Where it’s combined with the natural tendency of government to encroach on personal liberty, that process has been unrestrained.” But the underlying problem cannot be blamed entirely on government power-seekers. In the story, the voters have established the laws under which they live democratically through fear of illness and misconceived placement of health considerations above all other human values -- and this, I fear, is all too realistic a scenario.

I don’t see any way to reverse this trend once it’s established, although as one reviewer said, in the story it’s carried to reductio ad absurdum lengths. The countermeasures my protagonists use are also exaggerated for the sake of drama, and in any case are not available to us today. I believe they someday will be, for my view of the future is a basically optimistic one. In the meantime, I hope the book will cause readers to stop and think.

Sylvia Engdahl is best known as the author of highly-acclaimed Young Adult science fiction novels, one of which was a Newbery Honor book and a finalist for the 2002 Book Sense Book of the Year in the Rediscovery category. However, her trilogy Children of the Star, originally written for teens, was republished as adult SF, and she is now writing fiction only for adults.

Engdahl is a strong advocate of space colonization and has maintained a widely-read space section of her website for many years. She lives in Eugene, Oregon, and currently works as a freelance editor of nonfiction anthologies.

More information about Stewards of the Flame, the topics with which it deals, and its newly-released sequel can be found at www.stewardsoftheflame.com. Her main website is at www.sylviaengdahl.com.


PRAISE FOR STEWARDS OF THE FLAME:

"Grips the attention with the raw immediacy of the problems. . . . An inquiry and commentary on the nature of what it is to be human, and where evolution can take us from here. It asks the sort of questions only SF can pose, and paints a vivid picture of where failing to answer those questions might lead. . . . Stewards is the kind of SF I've been craving!" --Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Monthly Aspectarian, June 2008

"Stewards of the Flame is a brave book, and the numbers of those holding to the sentiments it conveys are growing. While the novel portrays extreme measures taken to prolong life to reductio ad absurdum lengths, it can’t be faulted for challenging our comfort zone, when after all, that is one sure measure of worthwhile fiction."
--Carlos Aranaga, ScifiDimensions, February 2008

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Silk Flowers Never Die by Stella Mazzucchelli



Silk Flowers Never Die is an important and intensely personal memoir, powerfully showing with humanity and humor, the difficulties that exist for any family trying to cope with schizophrenia and mental distress. In a compelling story that reveals how much stranger than fiction fact is, Stella Mazzucchelli describes her determination to preserve her son from the worst effects of mental illness, while his young wife is dying of cancer.

In the process of trying to rise to these challenges, Stella is transformed from a beautiful, over-protected Society woman with alcohol issues, to an impressive, courageous earth-mother who now campaigns to reduce the stigma attached to mental illness by using her privileged position to positive effect. This moving book is informative on a host of subjects, ranging from the lifestyle of the International Super-Rich to the profundities of facing terminal illness and mental disease. Due to its intelligence, insight, and compassion the appeal of this amazing story and struggle should be universal.

Sharing My Story by Stella Mazzucchelli

The advantages and challenges of sharing my story are that I am dealing with emotions and weaknesses that are wide spread such as mental illness, cancer and alcohol abuse.

My book has given me the thumbs up to reveal to the world that my son has schizophrenia without beating around the bush when asked 'What does your son do for a living?' Like a race horse bursting through the starting gate I now feel free to pronounce the word schizophrenia without hesitation. I almost have to refrain a smile while waiting a reaction which usually is hidden shock, followed by admiration for my honesty and then curiosity.

The first question I am asked by those who are fortunate enough not to have had first hand experience, is 'What are the symptoms?' They obviously have no idea except what they have heard through the media which is very likely to do with some massacre or other. Being their only source of information, they live with the impression that all schizophrenics might rip there throat at the drop of a hat. The words come gushing out as I preach a condensed lecture on the subject, not stopping until I have managed to wipe away the fear and witness an expression of compassion on their faces. I can assure you that it is not an easy task to undo the image of violence so ingrained in their vision and reassure them that most people who are suffering from mental issues are very talented and sensitive human beings.The only problem of course is that due to the 'stigma' we rarely hear about them, they are forced into a dark corner, silenced and alone.

The people who have lived with a loved one who is a sufferer, I always detect a sigh of relief as though a burden has lifted because they can open up and discuss their experience without having to whisper.

Alcohol dominated my life for many years. It caused me to make mistakes and choices that cause my hair to stand on end just recalling them. Through my writing I wanted to reach out to those people who feel that without the aid of this mind degenerating substance they are unable to confront life. I wanted them to realize that life without alcohol is possible. There is strength in each of us which might be buried so profoundly beneath layers of insecurity that we flap around like blind people ignoring its existence. If we just took time to stand still and search within ourselves we might grasp the root of our torment and crippled ego. Only then, can we start to raise our head and begin to move forward in a positive direction. We have to leave behind the role of 'victim' and start a new one, take off the tinted glasses and see the world for what it is, because it can be very beautiful if we only gave it a chance.
Cancer is a very difficult subject to offer any sort of comfort or advice. It has become even more scary as it no longer only targets the elderly, but is hitting the younger generation without mercy. We do our best to eat healthy, exercise and avoid all cancer-provoking substances and yet I was told by my Practitioner that the number one killer is 'stress'. Can we live without stress? I made a point of treating small problems with the minimum of anxiety and the larger ones with a cool mind avoiding unnecessary panic. Not an easy task, but we can only try.

Stella Metaxa Mazzucchelli was born in Athens, Greece and married, aged eighteen, Riccardo Mazzucchelli, the famous Italian businessman. During their twenty-two year marriage, they lived in Zambia and London, where she became a well-known figure on the social scene, and had a brief and successful modeling career at the unusual age of 28. Fedele is their only child. After their divorce, Riccardo married Ivana Trump in 1995, though the marriage was short lived. Stella now lives in Athens where she brings up her granddaughter Katerina. As well as being involved in the property and renovation business, which ensures she maintains connections with London, she is also a tireless campaigner for the better understanding of schizophrenia and mental illness. Silk Flowers Never Die is her first book.

You can find Stella online at www.dynastypress.co.uk and at her blog www.dynastypress.co.uk/news.html.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Guest Blogger: Joy DeKok, Author of Rain Dance



Today's guest blogger is Joy DeKok, author of the contemporary women's fiction novel, Rain Dance.

Jonica is infertile. Stacie chooses an abortion. One is pro life the other pro choice. Both are suddenly alone in misunderstanding, facing hypocrisies in their belief systems, and grieving – one the death of a dream and the other the death of her child. As their hearts break where in the world will they find healing and grace? Can shattered dreams be part of the plan?

The Friendship Factor by Joy DeKok

Writing an issue based book is difficult when the writer is able to keep her distance. When the author and her friends are intimately involved, it’s painful. It also labels the author as a rule breaker. Author intrusion is not encouraged.

When I started to write Rain Dance my main concern was how the character who is most like me would come across to readers. When I tried to make Jonica more heroic, she annoyed me so I had to let her be herself. Her struggles mirrored mine and so I walked through the hurt again.

Then came Stacie. She startled me with her beauty, determination, and pain. While she is not modeled after one of my friends, she is a combination of several. Her pain is also theirs.

Writers are often asked what they’re working on. When I’m with people who are genuinely interested, I’ll tell them. I have a short description ready. During the writing of Rain Dance I’d answer, “A novel about two women. One is infertile and the other chooses an abortion. They’re both grieving.” Every time I said these words at least one friend in hearing distance would contact me later to tell me they knew Stacie’s story intimately. Friends. Women I knew well who kept this choice in their lives a secret shrouded in shame.

Sitting in my living room I told an especially close friend about my current writing project. That evening I was on a bit of a high – the characters were coming together and I felt like the story had a life of its own – I was simply the messenger. I was on a bit of a verbal roll when she quietly said, “I had an abortion a long time ago.” Who knew a writer’s passion would make it safe? Not me. I listened as she told me her story.

And, it continued through the whole writing process – everywhere I went women opened their hearts to me. I watched in wonder as they spoke. Although regret lingered, they shed the chrysalis of their shame as they released their story into my life.

These brave and generous friends became the heart beat of the book and then they did more. They encouraged me when I was ready to give up. They cheered when I wrote over a hump or through a slump. They listened to my pain as I shared Jonica’s and prayed for me as I did my best to represent theirs to our future readers. Ours. Theirs and mine.

Along the way, I discovered the simple truth: while our experiences and choices were vastly different, our pain was surprisingly similar. We had more in common than our gender and faith. We were sisters in sorrow.

A reader who is neither a Jonica or a Stacie recently wrote, “Rain Dance is so real I felt like I was reading a biography of two women.”

I grinned realizing that while I’d broken one writing rule (I fully intruded), I obeyed perhaps the most common one taught: Write what you know. I could only do that when I was able to factor in my friend’s stories. If Rain Dance is a success, it is ours to share – mine and theirs.



Joy DeKok and her husband, Jon, live in Minnesota on thirty-five acres of woods and fields. Joy has been writing most of her life and as a popular speaker shares her heart and passion for God with women. In addition to writing novels, she has also published a devotional and several children’s books.


Visit Joy online at: http://www.joydekok.com/, http://www.raindancebook.com/, http://www.believe4kids.com/ and http://www.gettingitwrite.net/.

The Jewish Lady, The Black Man and The Road Trip by Carol Sue Gersham




The Jewish Lady, The Black Man and The Road Trip tells the story of a late 60-year-old, interracial, innovative, passionate couple travel from Miami to Montreal in a hot yellow mustang convertible visiting family and friends that takes the reader far past the turns of the road.

Cleverly written in flashbooks, this memoir is about life: Marriage, children, grandchildren, race, sex, guilt, loneliness, birthday parties, facelifts, travel, and obsession.

When her lover walked out, it was obsession that drove her to write. Carol Sue Gershman took all of her negative energy and pain and turned it into a book. She hoped that she would shock him with their story; they would read it together, realize their mistakes and go right back together again. She describes her obsession at this age not to be any different from when she was 14 years old.

This book is long overdue; Having grown up in the 50’s she holds back nothing about what it took for her to cross the racial boundary. She details older people having passionate sex telling the younger generations, YES WE DO.

In this page turning and sometimes humorous memoir, she lives agelessly and passionately. Women and a few good men will learn that THEY CAN TOO, if they do not pay any attention to how old they are!

Explore your own passion and purpose as you read this sizzling memoir.


Constantly reinventing herself, Carol Sue Gershman attended the Miami Dade College memoir class and decided that she would turn her two and a half page “Adventure in Love Story” into a book. Never having written before, it was passion that drove her each day to write.

After spending 25 years in New York City, she was one of the first to arrive into the new phenomenon of Miami Beach (South Beach) She is presently writing her next book while working on laws to ban smoking in residential buildings.

Now at 73 she will take her completed book back on the road re-living the cities and states visited on the road trip. You might just see her driving her hot yellow mustang convertible packed with books, hats and what it takes for life on the road.

You can visit Carol online at www.jewishladyblackman.com.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Guest Blogger: Kathi Macias, Author of My Son, John



Joining us today is a talented author who I am happy to call a treasured friend. Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored nearly 30 books--some of which we've reviewed here--and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences, and recently won the prestigious 2008 member of the year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) at the annual Golden Scrolls award banquet. Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband, Al, where the two of them spend their free time riding their Harley.


Kathi is currently on a virtual book tour to promote her contemporary novel, My Son, John. In this book, the Peterson family's once normal life is shattered when Liz Peterson's mother is brutally murdered and her son John is arrested for the crime. As what’s left of the Peterson family begins to crumble under the weight of loss and accusation, the Petersons’ longstanding Christian faith is put to the test in a way they could never have imagined, and unconditional love is stretched to its limits. Will family ties and relationships withstand such a crushing blow, or will evil succeed in dividing and conquering this once close and inseparable family?


Faith and Fiction…a Biblical Connection by Kathi Macias

When I first got into this “Christian bookselling business/ministry” back in the early 1980’s, fiction was scarcely a consideration for me. I was primarily interested in writing articles for various publications, though I also took a job at Gospel Light Publications, working in the editorial department for adult curriculum. While there, I was approached by one of the editors in their book division about co-authoring a nonfiction book with her. I liked the idea, accepted, and the rest is history, since that book went on to become one of that publisher’s all-time bestsellers.

About that same time, however, I began to have this nagging sense that I’d like to write a novel. In fact, I had a very specific idea and topic in mind, but I couldn’t imagine why I should bother, as Christian fiction really wasn’t exactly a hot-button item. Catherine Marshall and Grace Livingston Hill had what little market there was sewn up, so why bother?

And yet I felt the topic that I was sure God had placed on my heart was worth exploring in fiction form. So I began to write a chapter here and there, and before I knew it, Yesterday, Today, and Forever was completed. It was time to submit it to publishers. It took awhile, as few were doing fiction, but at last a small publisher picked it up, and my first novel soon became a reality.

I later did another novel called Shooting Star, which I co-authored with Rosey Grier, and a collection of short fiction stories in two book compilations for children, but other than that I stuck to nonfiction. By the late 1990s, however, the climate was changing, and I decided to give fiction another try. Soon my Matthews mystery trilogy released from B&H, and my love for writing fiction had become unquenchable.

Since that time, though I have written several more nonfiction books, my heart has been to write “fiction with a purpose”—meaning more than just “nice fiction” that omitted cursing and included a presentation of the gospel somewhere between the front and back cover. In other words, I believed it was necessary to follow the biblical connection to fiction by adhering to Jesus’ example in His telling of the parables if I wanted to justify calling my novels “Christian fiction.”

Jesus used parables to teach the masses, telling stories His listeners could relate to and easily understand. But though He no doubt entertained them in the process, entertainment was not His primary goal. He had a purpose in telling each story, and that was to help His listeners better understand the Kingdom of God and to be drawn closer to the Father’s heart. And He never apologized for that or tried to hide His agenda. For that reason, I try to keep that same focus when I develop my own stories.



My Son, John is a classic example. Though readers tell me that once they started the book they couldn’t stop until they were finished, they also tell me that it moved them to tears, caused them to seek reconciliation in broken relationships, drew them back to the Lord, even nudged them to get involved in jail/prison ministry or some other outreach to the hurting and rejected they might otherwise not have considered. That’s what tells me I was successful in this endeavor.

Though My Son, John is told primarily from the viewpoint of a middle-aged woman named Liz who is already a Christian, the story carries the readers through Liz’s shock and grief at her mother’s murder, her devastation and denial at her son’s arrest for the crime, and her long, dark hours of wrestling with God over all the implications of finding herself in the middle of such an unbelievable triangle of pain and horror. It’s a sort of “coming of age” faith book for believers who, like Liz, thought they had already come of age years earlier—only to find themselves challenged at the very root of their belief system.

So does faith have a place in fiction? Absolutely! In fact, without it, I question the reason for even bothering to write such stories. If all we want is “good, clean entertainment,” then let the “good, clean” unbelievers write it. Can the story be told without including the need for Jesus? Then it can be told apart from those of us who know we need Him just to breathe.

At least, that’s the way I see it. And the eight novels I currently have in the works for 2010-2011 release will continue to carry that crucial component and message at their very heart. It’s a biblical connection I simply can’t ignore.

Visit Kathi’s website at http://www.kathimacias.com/ and her blog at http://kathieasywritermacias.blogspot.com/. Stay tuned to Kathi’s website for news of her upcoming Blog Talk Radio show.

Daughter of Narcissus by Lady Colin Campbell



Daughter of Narcissus: A Family's Struggle to Survive Their Mother's Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a stunning analysis by Lady Colin of her own dysfunctional family positioned at the heart of upper class Jamaican society from the middle of the 20th century to the present day. Covering the end of the British Colonial Age and the rise of a liberated generation, whilst addressing the narcissistic personality of her mother, the author brilliantly interconnects the sociological, political and personal. As she dissects the family dynamics lying beneath the appearance of wealth and power, Lady Colin’s understanding of personality disorder is revelatory: compelling the reader to comprehend the destructive and tragic reality concealed by rational language and behavior.

Set against a backdrop of glamour, wealth and fame, this compulsive book is both a fascinating history of one socially prominent family, and a uniquely detailed analysis of narcissism, its manifestations and how to survive them in order to lead a purposeful and affirming life.

'A tremendous accomplishment and a great self help book. A gripping well conceived and informed account of emotional terrorism which will illuminate a widespread but often misunderstood disorder.' Dr Anna Brocklebank MD


Lady Colin Campbell is a highly successful and prolific author of several books, including London and New York Times bestsellers, and has been a prominent and often controversial figure in royal and social circles for many years. She perhaps is best known for her international bestselling book Diana in Private, 1992, and her subsequent extended and revelatory biography of the Princess of Wales, The Real Diana published in 2004. She has written books on the Royal Family, been a long term columnist and appeared numerous times on TV and Radio as an experienced Royal Insider and expert on the British aristocracy. In 1997 she published her autobiography, A Life Worth Living, which was serialized in The Daily Mail. Born in St Andrew, Jamaica, she was educated there and in New York, where she lived for seven years. She is connected to British royalty through common ancestors and marriage. She has two sons and lives in London.


You can visit her publisher online at www.dynastypress.co.uk.

To see where Lady Colin Campbell stops next, visit http://virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Emily Arsenault and The Broken Teaglass


The dusty files of a venerable dictionary publisher . . . a hidden cache of coded clues . . . a story written by a phantom author . . . an unsolved murder in a gritty urban park–all collide memorably in Emily Arsenault’s magnificent debut, at once a teasing literary puzzle, an ingenious suspense novel, and an exploration of definitions: of words, of who we are, and of the stories we choose to define us.

In the maze of cubicles at Samuelson Company, editors toil away in silence, studying the English language, poring over new expressions and freshly coined words–all in preparation for the next new edition of the Samuelson Dictionary. Among them is editorial assistant Billy Webb, just out of college, struggling to stay awake and appear competent. But there are a few distractions. His intriguing coworker Mona Minot may or may not be flirting with him. And he’s starting to sense something suspicious going on beneath this company’s academic facade.

Mona has just made a startling discovery: a trove of puzzling citations, all taken from the same book, The Broken Teaglass. Billy and Mona soon learn that no such book exists. And the quotations from it are far too long, twisting, and bizarre for any dictionary. They read like a confessional, coyly hinting at a hidden identity, a secret liaison, a crime. As Billy and Mona ransack the office files, a chilling story begins to emerge: a story about a lonely young woman, a long-unsolved mystery, a moment of shattering violence. And as they piece together its fragments, the puzzle begins to take on bigger personal meaning for both of them, compelling them to redefine their notions of themselves and each other.

Charged with wit and intelligence, set against a sweetly cautious love story, The Broken Teaglass is a tale that will delight lovers of words, lovers of mysteries, and fans of smart, funny, brilliantly inventive fiction.

EXCERPT:

How did a guy like me end up in a place like this?

Excellent question. It’s the very question that ran through my mind on my first day on the job, and for many weeks hence. How the hell did I get a job at the offices of Samuelson Company, the oldest and most revered name in American dictionaries? In the end, this might strike you as the greater mystery—greater than the one I’d later find in the company’s dusty files: How does a clod like me end up in training to be a lexicographer?

Now that you’ve paused to look up lexicographer, are you impressed? Are you imagining lexicographers as a council of cloaked, wizened men rubbing their snowy-white beards while they consult their dusty folios? I’m afraid you might have to adjust your thinking just a little. Imagine instead a guy right out of college—a guy who says yup, and watches too much Conan O’Brien. Imagine this guy sitting in a cubicle, shuffling through little bits of magazine articles, hoping for words like boink and tatas to cross his desk and spice up his afternoons.

Don’t get me wrong. When I first got the job, I was pretty excited. I’d been starting to doubt my employability, since I’d majored in philosophy. Admittedly, I’d applied for publishing jobs on a whim, having heard some English majors talk about it. No one at the big New York companies bit at my résumé, but someone at Samuelson must have liked all the A’s on my transcript in heady-seeming topics like Kant and Kierkegaard, and they called me just in time—just as I was starting to thumb through pamphlets about the Peace Corps and teaching English in Japan. My interview was with one Dan Wood, a pale, bearded middle-aged guy who didn’t really seem to know how to conduct an interview. He mostly just described the defining process quietly, peering at me occasionally as if trying to gauge my reaction. I guess I didn’t make any funny faces, because two days later Dan called me to offer the job.

Excerpted from The Broken Teaglass by Emily Arsenault Copyright © 2009 by Emily Arsenault. Excerpted by permission of Delacorte Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


Emily Arsenault has worked as a lexicographer, an English teacher, a children’s librarian, and a Peace Corps volunteer. She wrote The Broken Teaglass to pass the long, quiet evenings in her mud brick house while living in rural South Africa. She now lives in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, with her husband. You can visit Emily Arsenault’s website at http://emilyarsenault.com/.

To see where Emily is stopping next, visit http://virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/