Friday, December 31, 2010

Book Review: The Rewritten Word by Aggie Villanueva

A tiny book that is big on great advice is what you'll find in The Rewritten Word: How to Sculpt Literary Art, No Matter the Genre by Aggie Villanueva.

If you're looking for a book about writing, this isn't the thing for you. If, however, you are looking for a book dedicated to the art of rewriting, then you need to swipe this up right away. Bestselling novelist Aggie Villanueva takes you through five separate lessons that will show you how to rewrite with clarity. By numerous examples she'll teach you how to find the right words that will add punch to your art, no matter the genre.

I've worked with Aggie in the past to promote the authors she represents through Promotion a la Carte. This is the first time I've had the chance to read one of her books. Now I know why her work is so popular.

I enjoy rewriting, but even writers who would rather type, "The End", and not change a thing will be drawn in by Aggie's passion for whittling away the clutter that buries the art of their words. She also provides helpful information on working with editors. The final pages include a list of additional resources.

If you're a writer, you need this book!

Title:  The Rewritten Word
Author:  Aggie Villanueva
Publisher:  Cielos Rojos Publishing
ISBN-10: 098259142X
ISBN-13: 978-0982591420
SRP:  $9.97

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Two New Giveaways at Linda Weaver Clarke's Blog

If you haven't noticed by now, my friend, Lina Weaver Clarke always has great giveaways going on at her blog. I don't know how she does it all with her busy schedule.

Here is what Linda has for you this week!

The first is a book from J. Steve Miller that is timely and helpful. Enjoy Your Money!: How to Make It, Save It, Invest It and Give It has garnered numerous 5-star reviews. These are just a couple that I found on Steve's website:

“Had I read this book in my 20’s, I’d be financially independent today. It’s a remarkable blend of fabulous research with clear and lively writing. You’d pay an expert quite a sum for this caliber of counsel. That’s why I say that the best investment you make this year just might be this book. Your second best investment will be the copies you buy for your children.” (Dr. Dwight “Ike” Reighard, Former Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer of HomeBanc)

“As a practicing CPA and financial counselor for the past 35 years, I’ve read scores of books and periodicals on personal finance. Just when you think you’ve heard it all, something like this comes along. It’s rare and refreshing to find a book so enjoyable, so accurate, and so life changing. I’m purchasing 200 copies to give away to graduating seniors.” (Larry Winter, Winter & Scoggins, CPA’s, Certified Valuation Analyst, Certified Fraud Examiner, Personal Financial Planning Specialist)

J. Steve Miller – educator, investor, entrepreneur, and speaker – has taught audiences from Atlanta to Moscow. He’s known for drawing practical wisdom from serious research and communicating it in accessible, unforgettable ways.

Steve is the founder and president of Legacy Educational Resources, providing global resources for teachers of life skills in public schools, churches, and service organizations at A self-styled “wisdom broker,” he collects wisdom from many fields and packages it for teachers and writers via his published books and the Web. His wife, Cherie, and their seven sons continually remind him what works and what doesn’t. Connect with him at

The giveaway for Steve's book is running from December 27th - January 7th. This one is restricted to the U.S. and Canada, but there is also a Kindle version of this book available for you international readers who would like to pick up a copy.

The second great giveaway, which starts today and ends on January 6th, is for a copy of Freemen and Dreamers Vol. 4 Oh, Say Can You See? by L.C. Lewis.

During her interview with Linda, the author had this to say about the book:

"This volume takes readers right in the middle of the incredible events that surrounded the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner...Our beloved Willows characters are in the thick of the action, so we get a tender, intimate view of how Britain’s campaign of terror affected families as well as the nation."

As a lover of historical fiction, especially anything set during Colonial America or the Civil War era, I know I want to own a copy of this one.

Laurie (L.C.) Lewis was born and raised in rural Maryland, which is also where she and her husband Tom raised their four children. She is also the proud grandma of five. In addition to the her Free Men and Dreamers series, which includes the books Dark Sky At Dawn, Twilight's Last Gleaming, Dawn's Early Light, and Oh, Say Can You See, Laurie is also the author of Awakening Avery and Unspoken.

You can visit Laurie online at If you wander out there, and I suggest you do, you have to click on Laurie's bio page. The picture there is so much more fun than this professional shot.

The giveaway for this book is also restricted to the U.S. and Canada.

Visit Linda Weaver Clarke's blog at to find out how you can enter to win.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Author Interview: S.P. Wish, Author of Roses of Doom

Today we are interviewing S.P. Wish, author of Roses of Doom. S.P. Wish is a novel-writing duo made up of twins S. Wish and P. Wish. They published their debut novel titled Roses of Doom on where it is available for free download.

Welcome to Book Tours and More, S.P. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

We are both twins and have been writing since childhood. We like to read romance, mystery and horror but sometimes read other genres too.
When did you begin writing?

We started writing when we were eight. At that time, we used to write illustrated books. We used to write the stories and then make pictures and color them.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

We write whenever we can and whenever we are able to. When the book is great, we cannot stop ourselves from writing more because we want to live more in the world of that book.

What is this book about?

Roses of Doom is a thriller/horror/children's novel. A major part of the book is also about friendship and good friends.Here is a summary-
When horror roses are left behind.

A school camping trip leads quirky middle schooler Mizu, her twin brother Kaji, her friend Akumu and school newspaper reporter Seiya to a mysterious mansion in Greenfire Forest. In the mansion, Mizu's friend is swallowed up by a hole that opens up and closes instantly! Many other unexplained happenings follow until Mizu discovers an old newspaper with information about a centuries old intrigue which has remained hidden till now..........and no person who knows of its existence is allowed to live.......

What inspired you to write it?

We have always been interested in supernatural stories and happenings. Creating a world different from the one we live in and a world which has more adventure, excitement was also a major driving force.
Who is your biggest supporter?

Our grandfather has always supported us to continue writing no matter what. We are thankful to him for believeing in us.

Who is your favorite author?

We have many favorites. Barbara Cartland, R.L. Stine, Linda Goodman and Judith McNaught are some of them.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

The book is available on  and for FREE. The purpose of keeping the book free is so that as many possible can read it and enjoy it. Due to the recession, people are forced to cut down on expenditure but all the same, they need a good book to read. That's why Roses of Doom is available for free.
Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

Yes, our website offers updates on the book as well as free chapters, which are posted every week.
Do you have a video trailer to promote your book? If yes, where can readers find it?

We have personally made the trailer of Roses of Doom. It is available at Please tell us what you think of it.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

Believe in yourself and do your best.

What is up next for you?

We are currently working on a high-school comedy novel. It is supposed to be a series. It has progressed well until now and we will bring you more information as it comes.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Thank you for having us, Cheryl. We are glad to do this interview with you. And for everyone who is reading this, thank you too and hope you enjoyed it.

Thanks for spending time with us today, S.P. We wish you great success.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Book Review: Red Ink by Kathi Macias

Kathi Macias's powerful new contemporary international thriller series continues with Red Ink.

Based loosely upon the life of Christian magazine editor Li Ying, who is currently serving a ten-year prison sentence in China, Red Ink is the story of Zhen-Li, a woman raised to observe the party line, but whose life proves God is greater than any earthly government.

Zhen-Li falls in love with and marries a Christian man, Zhou Chi, and adopts his faith. When she becomes pregnant a second time and refuses to have an abortion in defiance of China's one child law, Zhen-Li's parents have her kidnapped and the baby aborted.

Now, Zhen-Li decides it is time to take a firm stand for her faith and she begins to teach children about Zhu Yesu ("Lord Jesus") and to distribute Christian literature.

Imprisoned and separated from her family, she soon catches the attention of an abusive prison guard who is determined to break her. Zhen-Li hopes her young faith is strong enough to survive the torture.

In the United States, two elderly women in a residential facility feel the call to pray for an unknown woman in China, who they are certain is in danger. They are also called to pray for a new resident, Margaret, who rebuffs their attempts of friendship at every turn, and for Margaret's granddaughter.

As the story unfolds and these people's lives intersect in unimaginable ways, the power of God shines through to a moving and satisfying conclusion.

New Hope Publishers has titled this series, "Fiction with a Mission." It certainly lives up to its name. While I enjoyed the first two books of this series--No Greater Love and More Than Conquerors--Red Ink is by far my favorite.

As in More Than Conquerors, Macias weaves the lives of many different people together and shows how God works, whether we understand His reasoning or His call. One can't help but sympathize with Zhen-Li and Zhou Chi, who have been separated by her imprisonment. Their young son misses his mother, but to Zhou Chi's dismay, he cries for her less and less as time goes on. Your heart bleeds for this family, despite the fact that you realize they are fictional. Macias pulls you right into their story, makes you feel the pain of their separation and the suffering they endure for following Zhu Yesu.

When you meet Julia, a former missionary to China, and her prayer warrior friend, Laura, their faith inspires you. They heed God's call to pray for this unknown woman in China. Here they are in the twilight of their lives and struggling with health issues, and yet, they focus not on themselves, but on this woman whose name and needs they don't even know. Then when Margaret comes along, God asks them to pray for her and her granddaughter too. Margaret wants nothing to do with their God or them and she makes that well known. Through the creation of Margaret and her granddaughter Maggie, Macias shows that we are sometimes called to do things we would rather not do, not unlike Jonah when asked by God to go to Nineveh.

It took me very little time to read from beginning to end. I never wished to put the book down. While I don't often care for books that leave a character's future unknown, in Red Ink, I felt the story ended perfectly. It took me a little while to get down the pronunciations of the names, but this did not interfere with my enjoyment of the story. I was truly captivated by each and every character in this novel.

Kathi has been a client of mine for years, but even when she wasn't using Pump Up Your Book to promote her new releases, I read her books. Perhaps the most astonishing thing when I think of all the books of hers that I've read is that I've never come across a book where I felt disappointed. I've enjoyed her fiction and nonfiction. I've been captivated by her novels set in America and in places around the world I've never seen. She develops characters that make you want to know them and their stories. She writes with the knowledge and peace of a mature Christian, but she never comes across in a condescending way.

When Kathi emailed me to say that Red Ink had been voted the ACFW book club selection for April 2011, I couldn't say I was surprised. It is one of the most powerful books I've ever read. Not only does it remind the reader that even in our modern society Christians are persecuted for their beliefs; it also shows that even when we don't know why God calls us to do things, He always knows and our faith will be rewarded.

Title: Red Ink
Author: Kathi Macias
Publisher: New Hope Publishers
ISBN-10: 1596692790
ISBN-13: 978-1596692794
SRP: $14.99

Book Review: Finding God: To Believe or Not to Believe by Nicholas Oliva

Finding God: To Believe or Not to Believe by Nicholas Oliva is certainly a book that is going to put you to the test. When I read the back cover blurb, I was expecting something a bit different, but I'm okay with that.

Here's the blurb:

Do you believe in God, life after death, or nothingness? Do you know the origins of the Bible’s New Testament? This book explores the world of science, religion, and atheism and integrates them into the aspects of Twentieth and Twenty-first Century physics. It ponders life and death experiences and includes the author’s own near death experience. Posing many questions about the realm of our existence, it stresses the importance of promoting humanity without exclusionary elements of human prejudice.

These and many other contemporary issues are combined with the latest scientific and philosophic theories in the search for real truth of subjects that have brought down entire empires in bloodlust, and have each of us pondering the eternal “Why?”

We are in the second century since the collision of science and religion. One is based in empirical evidence; the other is based on thousands of years of pure faith. Hang on as your perfectly ordered world is shaken and stirred – if you have an open mind to believe what is real and allow for possibilities of the yet unknown.

Finding God is a thought-provoking book. While in spots I felt it moved a bit slow, overall the pace moved along at a good clip. It's not the type of book you're going to read quickly and toss aside.

My challenge in writing this review is that I don't agree with much of what was written in the book. Yes, faith has been used to start wars. People are persecuted in the name of God all the time. That doesn't mean faith in God and belief in the Bible are a bad thing.

One of the author's concerns is stated on page 70: "My issue is we, humans, always put ourselves in harm's way when we create infallible monolithic supernatural book(s) which cannot be questioned and are believed as the literal word of God."  Oliva uses the multiple versions of the Koran as an example. And as he mentions, those "holy words are now used as an excuse to kill people." While I certainly can't argue with that after September 11th, I also think that's taking too general of an approach to the issue. We can't judge the whole by the actions of a few.

The book states that the Old Testament and portions of the New Testament are "violent, nasty, bloody, murderous, and pornographic with an unforgiving and at times merciless God." Very true. But, if we are to believe the author's line of thinking that the Bible has been used to manipulate people into submission, it almost begs the question, "Why is all that stuff in there?" If you wanted to convince people of how great and loving your deity is, wouldn't you paint a rosy picture, not all this violence and harsh judgments handed out by your all-powerful God?

Tidbits of conversations Oliva had with Christians online are included in a portion of the book. In one such conversation, the author says that people who believe the Bible--or anything else literally without question or doubt--are similar to the country in Europe that believed in the Mein Kampf (page 135). He goes on to say that the Bible has only stood the test of time because it's "an icon not a book."  We pretend to read it and make up what it means, when we actually don't understand any of it (page 136).
The author says he doesn't stand in judgment of anyone, but the language used in the book and his depiction of certain groups tells a different story. That impedes the reader's ability to remain open-minded to what might be a very enlightening book.
In the end, Finding God by Nick Oliva is a book you're going to have to make up your own mind about. I found myself nodding along with the author from time to time, but I also couldn't agree with him on a lot of things. The book has received some great reviews on Amazon and the foreword by Yvonne Perry indicates that Oliva's candor and style is appreciated by others.
Title:  Finding God: To Believe or Not to Believe
Author: Nicholas Oliva 
Publisher: Old Line Publishing, LLC.
ISBN-10: 098461432X
ISBN-13: 978-0984614325
SRP:  $14.95

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Author Spotlight: VS Grenier and Babysitting SugarPaw

A little bear named SugarPaw hopes to get rid of his babysitter, Bonnie Whiskers, by getting her into trouble after making changes to his rules chart. As this fun loving story unfolds, SugarPaw learns about honesty and friendship.

This book will delight three-to-eight-year-old readers, especially those who like to create mischief.

Read an excerpt!

Bonnie Whiskers never babysat for the Bears before. Hearing SugarPaw cry out, “Don’t go!” made her worry. She took a deep breath and knocked on the door.

Watch the trailer!

Read the reviews!

“Children will love to read about the mischievous antics of SugarPaw, who doesn’t want to be babysat. Will Bonnie, a first-time babysitter, be able to keep SugarPaw out of mischief until his parents return? Bonnie Whiskers finds she is up to the task, teaching SugarPaw about patience along the way. Sweet illustrations by Kevin Scott Collier perfectly capture Bonnie’s babysitting challenges.”

–Donna Shepherd, author of the award-winning Topsy Turvy Tale series

“Along with the colorful illustrations of Kevin Scott Collier, VS Grenier brings to life a first-time babysitter’s apprehension and mixes in the high jinxes of SugarPaw into a delightful story of acceptance and understanding. Your personal copy of Babysitting SugarPaw will surely become worn out from reading it many times over.”

–Donna McDine, award-winning author of The Golden Pathway

“I recommend the book for parents, children, and everyone who enjoys a good laugh and a little bear with a big heart.”

–Beverly Stowe McClure, author of Rebel in Blue Jeans, Just Breeze, and Cannons, Caves, and Crinolines

"Both my girls were enthralled with this book. I highly recommend this book for children ages 3-8 years of age. It has a wonderful lesson and aims to help young children feel secure and comforted with a babysitter. We all enjoyed this charming story."

--A Cozy Reader's Corner Reviews

"Through a lesson in love and patience along with understanding, VS Grenier creates a 5 star children's book that is perfect for transitioning those young children to a babysitter for the first time."

--Book Reviews by Molly

"Your child will learn about honesty and friendship as the story comes alive for them. Your child will see that though they may be scared about having a babysitter maybe the babysitter is just as nervous about babysitting. What an adorable way to share with 3-8 year-olds that they might not be the only one scared."

--4 the Love of Books

VS Grenier is an award-winning author and editor who learned how to hone her writing skills at the Institute of Children’s Literature, and has been a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrators (SCBWI), the National Association of Professional Women (NAPW), the League of Utah Writers (HWG chapter), and Musing Our Children. Her works include Babysitting SugarPaw, the Best of Stories for Children Magazine Volume 1 anthology and over 30 short stories, articles, and crafts for children along with newsletter articles for writers.

“Having others read what you have written and giving feedback not only makes you a better writer, but you start to understand how a well written story’s voice captures the reader . . . drawing them into your world of ink,” states VS Grenier.

She is the Founder & Owner of Stories for Children Publishing LLC., and also is a freelance editor for Halo Publishing; in addition, to running her own editorial and critique services. A California girl at heart, she currently lives in Utah with her husband, their three children, and the family’s big fat cat Speed Bump and miniature schnauzer Taz.

You can learn more about VS Grenier at her author website or her company website You can also follow her on The Writing Mama at

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Guest Blogger: Writing As Therapy by Nicole Weaver, Author of Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle

Our special guest today is Nicole Weaver, author of the trilingual children's book, Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle.

This story is about the love that developed between a little girl named Marie and a stranded sea turtle. The story tells the struggles Marie had as she helped the sea turtle back out to sea.

"This is the perfect book for schools..."

--Ohio Girl Talks

"Marie's compassion and drive helps young readers see that they can also help make a difference if they will take a stand."

--4 the Love of Books

"This book would be great for multi-lingual classrooms and homes and for children who are intrigued by languages."

--Acting Balanced

"I think this is a great way to present different languages to children..."


Why Writing is a Form of Personal Therapy by Nicole Weaver

Writing can be very therapeutic if the writing is based on personal experiences. My senior year of high school I took a class on poetry. I loved that class. The daily assignments allowed me to express in writing many dormant feelings. Many times I would leave class totally renewed mentally.

After high school I never did much writing. It was not until a few years ago I resumed writing poetry again. Just for fun I entered a poetry contest that my local library sponsored. Much to my delight I won first place. Soon afterwards I began writing poems daily. Each poem I wrote brought me to a higher mental state of rejuvenation. I liked the therapeutic benefits, so I branched out and began writing short stories. I wrote short stories about personal experiences.

Now I mainly write children’s books in English, French and Spanish. Writing my first trilingual children’s book Marie and her Friend the Sea Turtle liberated me mentally in a very profound way. For years, I harbored a deep resentment towards my father for making soup out of a stranded sea turtle. Once the book was published I relinquished the dormant feelings of hatred because I wrote my story with a happy ending. Additionally, the finished story gave me a sense of major accomplishment because the book is designed to teach children and adults to have compassion for sea turtles.

Lastly, I wrote my memoir about my father who later abandoned me. It took a lot of courage to write the memoir, but in the end it was well worth the time I spent writing it. For every chapter I wrote, I could feel a heavy burden being lifted off my shoulders. Whatever negative feelings I harbored in my heart and mind are now written in words. I was ready to publish the memoir, but at the last minute decided not to, because I prefer to not offend family members. The euphoric state of mind of finally letting go of all the hurts will suffice for now.

People write for many different reasons. I never intended for my writings to be a form of personal therapy, but it worked out that way. I am glad it did.

Nicole Weaver was born in Port-au-Prince Haiti. She came to the United States when she was ten years old. She is fluent in Creole, French, Spanish and English. She is a veteran teacher of French and Spanish. She is the author of a children's trilingual picture book titled Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle.

The story is about a Haitian little girl who resided by the beach in Haiti. Her second trilingual children's picture book will be published by Guardian Angel Publishing. The book titled, My Sister is my Best Friend, will be published fall 2011.

You can visit Nicole Weaver’s website at and her book’s blog at

Author Spotlight: K.M. Daughters and All's Fair in Love and Law

The enchantress on stage at an amusement park review captivates new Chicago Police Department Captain Patrick Sullivan. Stunned to learn she’s the infamous defense attorney, Charlie Demarco, who substituted for her twin at the performance, Pat battles Charlie in and out of the courtroom. With CPD cutbacks and a serial murderer to apprehend, Pat struggles to uphold the law and his reputation, while Charlie seems determined to undermine him. Chained to her job to restore her family’s finances, Charlie has no choice but to defend the criminals Pat wants behind bars. Her biggest battle yet involves defending her heart against Patrick Sullivan.

Read an excerpt!

Her breath caught as his smile dazzled in reaction to something one of the girls said to him. Certainly his size alone would draw attention. Close-cropped reddish hair, her favorite shade of blue eyes, like his kids’, and muscles in that thin T-shirt that teased a woman to knead them with her hands. She had had a hard time concentrating on stage during the first set. Her eyes had sought his involuntarily again and again. And damn if he wasn’t sending her appreciative vibes. Must be this crazy heat in April. She extended her lower jaw and blew air up over her face.

Frankenstein called for his bride. Charlotte counted to ten and then ran out from behind the curtain. The crowd jumped to their feet and cheered. Wow, this is what it must feel like to be a rock star. Emi, I think I’m jealous of you. Maybe I should switch careers and we can do a sister act.

Her ego stroked, she enjoyed every minute of the performance. Mummy led the cast off stage into the audience.

“Pick us. Please pick us!” The hunk’s kids yelled.

Well, of course I will. Her hips gyrating, she sashayed in his direction, her eyes locked on his heavenly blues.

“Here she comes. She’s going to pick us this time.”

She averted his eyes and focused on his cute kids. “Hi, girls. Would you like to come up on stage with me?”

“Is it okay, Uncle Pat? Can we please?”

“Sure it is. Go ahead.”

Saints be praised. No wedding band on the man’s hand, either. “Would Uncle Pat like to come up on stage, too?”

Watch the trailer!

Read the reviews!

“I have loved this series from the get-go and each book keeps drawing me in. The Sullivan Boys series blends intriguing plots, complex characters, and loads of conflict to keep you turning page after page.

K.M. Daughters proves over and again that they have mastered the art of storytelling. I can’t put one of their books down, despite the late hour, despite the fact that I’m facing an early morning with my kids, despite knowing I’ll be sitting at my desk gulping caffeinated soda the next day just to stay awake.

The perfect blend of romance and suspense is what you’ll find in All’s Fair in Love and Law!”

–The Book Connection

All's Fair in Love and Law Tour Schedule

Monday, December 6
Book spotlighted at Broowaha

Tuesday, December 7
Guest blogging at The Book Connection

Wednesday, December 8
Book reviewed at The Phantom Paragrapher

Thursday, December 9
Guest blogging at Lori’s Reading Corner

Friday, December 10
Author interviewed at Blogcritics

Monday, December 13
Book spotlighted at The Plot

Tuesday, December 14
Character interviewed at The Plot
Author interviewed at Pump Up Your Book!

Wednesday, December 15
Book spotlighted at American Chronicle
Guest blogging at Book Tours and More

Thursday, December 16
Book reviewed at Giving Reading a Chance

Friday, December 17
Guest blogging at The Hot Author Report

Purchase a copy of All's Fair in Love and Law at! Also available in a Kindle edition.

Sisters, Pat Casiello and Kathie Clare write as K.M. Daughters. Their penname is dedicated to the memory of their parents, Kay and Mickey, the "K" and "M" in K.M. Daughters. All's Fair In Love And Law is the fourth book in the author's acclaimed Sullivan Boys Romantic Suspense Series. K.M. Daughters writes romantic suspense for The Wild Rose Press, inspirational romance for White Rose Publishing and contemporary romance for Sapphire Blue Publishing. Contact K.M. Daughters at

Monday, December 13, 2010

Character Interview: Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator

Joining us today is Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator. Now, I’m not real big on zombies, so I’m glad sometime in the future (2040 to be exact) these exterminators came into being. Let’s learn more about Neeta and what she does so that this planet is safe for future generations.

Hi Neeta. Thanks for being with us today. I was concerned that your duties might keep you from speaking with us.

It's no big deal, really. You know, I'm just an exterminator. I spray for ants, set rat traps… Zombie extermination is just one of the things I do--and, thank heaven, there aren't *that* many zombies out there. I have free time, even when I was hosting Zombie Death Extreme, I managed to find time to relax and have fun.

I just caught the cover for your book on Karina’s website. Sure looks like you can kick some butt.

(Blushes) I hate that picture. There is no way I'd take on a zombie with my uniform half off, and trust me, if a zombie is down, his head is away from his neck. But people do like it, and I can kick butt, though most of the time, I'd rather slice off the head.

Recently heard that you got yourself into a spot of trouble—something to do with a zombie and a lawyer. What is up with that?

It's been in the news enough, but long story short: Lawyer decides to entertain guests with a backyard shindig, featuring all manner of strongly smelling foods, including (who knows why) pickled beets and something smothered in blue cheese dressing. Said lawyer lives behind a cemetery. When the undead started rising and following the smells, he doesn’t panic but depends on his electric fence to keep them out. Like a little zap is going to stop something already dead. By the time I responded to the 9-1-1, there was pandemonium everywhere--and one guy videoing on his phone. Me against nine undead? Even I'm not good enough to get in close. I used the flamethrower until I ran out of fuel. One flaming meat staggered onto the porch, probably in response to the video guy. A brilliant guest tossed vodka on it. Set the porch on fire. I was busy trying to unstick my chainsaw from one zombie's shoulder at the time.

I re-killed all the zombies before backup got there. Saved over a dozen lives. But Lawyer Larry sued me for wrecking his backyard. (shrug) Mom always said not to expect any appreciation for this job.

I’m not a fan of reality TV. I thought by the time 2040 came to pass it would have run its course. I hear it’s helping you out, though. What made you want to get into TV anyway?

I wanted to educate people about zombie extermination and defense. Despite everything, I think we accomplished that, though not as well as I'd like. I hope everyone will catch *The Zombie Syndrome* on the Discovery Channel when it comes out.

And, frankly, there was no way I was going to pay off that lawsuit on an exterminator's pay. It was reality TV or lose my house.

So, I hear the paparazzi are driving you a bit nuts. How are you keeping them in line?

Have I shown you my chain saw?

Now, you don’t have to answer this, but this is your chance to get Karina back for some of the mean stuff she’s done to you in this book. Tell us a secret about Karina that no one else knows.

I don't know Karina's secrets; I'm not sure she has many. Besides, I don't really feel the need for revenge. Now, if I can tell you about Lawyer Larry…

Here’s an important question: where can readers pick up a copy of Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator?

From the publisher: and

Do you have an online home too?  is where you can learn more about the book. Naturally, the show has its own website: They're going to make a subdomain for my business, Lyffe Undeath Exterminations, but we haven't gotten to it yet.

Thanks for making time for us today, Neeta. Any parting words?

Just remember: I'm a professional zombie exterminator with training and a license to re-kill. If you ever see a zombie, your best bet is to call 9-1-1, douse yourself in cleaning products and run. Don't be a hero.

Watch the trailer!

Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator Tour Schedule

Dec  Interview in newsletter

4-Dec interview

6-Dec Guest post: why write about zombies?

7-Dec Guest Post: what do you do with a zombie novel

8-Dec interview

8-Dec Guest Post : Building Neeta's World

9-Dec Guest Post: Why zombie fic?

9-Dec  Blog: Squee! Karina's Sister Poses as Neeta!

10-Dec Guest post

10-Dec interview

11-Dec review

12-Dec interview

13-Dec feature

13-Dec  Blog--The Zombie Death Extreme Website!

14-Dec Character interview

15-Dec review

16-Dec  Blog--Questions about Neeta Lyffe

17-Dec Character interview

17-Dec Catholics and Fantasy

18-Dec interview

19-Dec review + interview

19-Dec review + interview

20-Dec  Roundup of Reviews

20-Dec Review

Author Bio: From zombie exterminators to dragon detectives to nuns in space, Karina Fabian's universes make readers laugh, cry and think. Winner of the 2007 EPPIE Award for best sci-fi and the 2010 INDIE Award for best fantasy, she lets her characters take her where they will and is never disappointed. Karina Fabian is married to Colonel Robert Fabian. They and their four kids call home wherever the Air Force sends them. Learn more at

The Dawning of Power Trilogy by Brian Rathbone Giveaway at Linda Weaver Clarke's Blog

Linda Weaver Clarke is up to her tricks again. She's giving away more books at her blog this week. The first one you'll find is for The Dawning of Power trilogy by Brian Rathbone.

"The Dawning of Power tells the story of Istra's return to the world of Godsland after a 3,000-year absence. In book one, Call of the Herald, we meet Catrin Volker, a teenage horse trainer. While trying to protect a friend, she inadvertently fulfills the prophecy of the destroyer, which claims she will destroy the Zjhon nation. Catrin's quest begins as she must face those who believe she is out to destroy them.

In book two, Inherited Danger, all of Godsland is at risk as massive weapons left over from the last age of power become once again viable. If left to charge in Istra's light, the weapons will detonate. Catrin and her friends set out on what seems an impossible quest to save even her enemies.

Book three, Dragon Ore, Catrin must journey to the fabled Firstland to stop the Zjhon form gaining access to immeasurable power. There, she must face mankind's ancient enemies, and her only hope may lie with an age old alliance."

This sure sounds like a great giveaway for you fantasy lovers. Visit Linda Weaver Clarke's blog at for more details on how you can enter and win. This international giveaway only runs through December 20th, so don't wait.

Linda will have another great giveaway running on December 16th, so be sure to check our her blog laster in the week.

Brian Rathbone was born in New Jersey. He left Corporate America to work from home and write. The Dawning Power is the debut trilogy in The World of Godsland fantasy fiction series. You can find Brian online at or visit him on Facebook or Twitter.  

Guest Blogger: Deborah Clark, Contributor to Motivational Book, Life Choices

Joining us today is Deborah Clark, a contributor to the Life Choices: Putting the Pieces Together anthology.

If life didn’t challenge us,how could we know how strong we are?

How would we learn who we are capable of becoming?

There is no such thing as life without struggle. No one comes out of a struggle the same as he or she was when it began. Everyone has to make choices between giving up or growing stronger.

These authors hope that by sharing their stories, you will realize nomatter how many pieces your life is in or what they look like, you can fit them together into a picture of wholeness and success.

Meet the co-authors of Life Choices: Putting the Pieces Together:

Andrea Chestnut
Jasmine Freeman
Anne Dreyer
Kathy Jo Pollack
Vickie Lane
Gregory Lay
Jo Wilkins
Charlotte Foust
Joan Peck
Ginette Osier Bedsaul
April Aimee Adams
Darlene Mahon
Joy Huntsman
Myriam Lazo
Bea Goodwin
Eric Culverson
Cindy Hallam
Deborah Clark
Ann Parenti
Lori La Bey
Becky Buckley
Mike Levin
Peggy Vasquez
Derick Poremba-Brumer
Lynette Chapell

The Analogy Continues by Deborah Clark

Being a part of the Life Choices project has given me an outlet for my passion. I have realized a dream. I have healed. I have learned so much about myself. I am a very different person today. When I contributed my first story to “Navigating Difficult Paths” it was exciting, and a little overwhelming, all at same time. You don’t always see how strong you are until you read about it. In Judi’s book, “You Are Enough” the journal entries are so helpful to finding out what’s going on with you. I had made a lot of accomplishments, as it turns , out I had navigated pretty well. If you don’t see what you are doing, then you don’t know what to do. The journal is key. You need to write it down, read it back, figure it out, or celebrate it.

When the second Life Choices project was announced I thought, “Putting the Pieces Together”, yes I can do that. Once again I looked at my life and was again amazed at what I had done. I was living the paths after having put the pieces together. All of us do what we need to do. All of us get it done. I think we need to give ourselves more credit for making it work. The Life Choices series give real life examples of real people who are just like you. I hope the books will tell people that they are doing much better than they think they are. I think the books will give people real tools to help them navigate and put the pieces together. I want everyone to have the best day of their life, as often as possible. I think people can read the book and see something in one of the stories that will show them the analogy continues.

Deborah Clark is a Speaker, Facilitator, Mentor, Author, Voice Over Artist. As a niche professional speaker, Deborah knows how to deliver programs that provide value to audiences. Deborah is an experienced facilitator with a background in all aspects of meeting development and event organization. Deborah works one-on-one to meet her clients' needs for a successful presentation. Her client's list includes adult school/continuing education programs, professional associations, non-profit groups, and private clients. Most recently, Deborah has a demo featured with PDR Voices of New York City. In addition, Deborah is an active volunteer in her community.

You can reach Deborah at or visit her website at

Friday, December 10, 2010

Book Spotlight: Red Ink by Kathi Macias

Yang Zhen-Li defies not only her Communist parents but the government as well when she marries a poor Christian peasant and converts to his faith. When she begins to distribute Christian materials, particularly to children, she is arrested and sentenced to ten years of hard labor. Will her husband and son wait for her and support her throughout their long separation? Will she even survive to return to them once again? Or will the evil guard Tai Tong, who has taken a personal dislike to Zhen-Li, convince her to deny her faith? Two elderly saints halfway around the world are determined to pray her through, though they’ve never met her and don’t even know her name. God’s faithfulness in the midst of unimaginable trials will bring about an ending that could never be anticipated—but will never be forgotten.

Read an Excerpt!

Yang Zhen-Li was nearing thirty but at times felt twice that old. Her back was becoming permanently bent forward from the heavy pails she carried daily, one attached on each end of the thick bamboo rod that stretched across her shoulders, mirroring the heaviness of her heart. There had been a time when she’d been acclaimed as a beauty, but she could scarcely remember why…or imagine that it would matter.

She tried to fight the encroaching darkness, tried to hold fast to what she knew was true, but the constant lies and propaganda were taking a greater toll even than the physical labor and abuse or the burning, gnawing hunger. If her situation didn’t change soon, she knew she would never live long enough to see her husband or son again. And with nearly eight years of her ten-year sentence left to serve, the possibilities of her emerging from prison alive grew dimmer by the day.

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. She forced herself to focus on one of the many scripture verses she’d had opportunity to memorize between the time she accepted Zhu Yesu as her Savior and her arrest by members of the Public Security Bureau (PSB) on charges of teaching religion to children, including giving them papers containing religious writings. Even before her arrest, her parents had written to her—warned her, begged her, threatened her—and finally had her kidnapped in an attempt to convince her to go along with the government rules, especially the one limiting each family to one child. After all, she already had a healthy son. Why would she want another baby when they could scarcely afford to feed the first one? But though her abductors had forcibly aborted her second child, they had not succeeded in convincing Yang Zhen-Li to abandon the faith she had adopted before marrying her Christian husband. If anything, the ordeal had only strengthened her resolve to take a stand for the meaning of her name—Zhen-Li, “Truth,”—and spurred her to begin actively sharing the Good News of Yesu every chance she got. As a trained teacher, that quite naturally included talking with children about the gospel, a practice expressly forbidden by the government.

And now she was paying the price. Separated from her family and sentenced to ten years of hard labor and “re-education,” Zhen-Li struggled to survive against pain, exhaustion, and bitter loneliness. Worst of all were the times she felt God had abandoned her. It wasn’t enough to know in her mind that He promised never to leave or forsake her. She needed a visible reminder—soon—if she was to continue to remain faithful behind these prison walls.

Here’s what reviewers are saying about Red Ink!

“Red Ink follows a variety of characters on opposite sides of the world and shows their different spiritual journeys. It’s a beautiful and sometimes brutal story about the power of unconditional love, of ultimate sacrifice, and of the faithful, unshakable allegiance of several believers toward their one true God. Though there are many players in this novel, their lives intersect in an unseen tapestry of faith that is crafted by the loving hands of a merciful God. This is a life-changing story that is not to be missed.”

–Michelle Sutton, author of more than a dozen novels including It’s Not About Me, Danger at the Door, In Plain Sight, and Never Without Hope

"...Macias does a great job of putting readers into this  frightening world where even in the midst of incredible darkness, God continues to show His face to the ones He loves."

--Christy's Book Blog

"Five stars does not do this book any amount of justice."

--Book Reviews by Molly

Watch the Trailer!

Kathi Macias is a blogtalkradio host and an award-winning author of more than 30 books, including her popular Extreme Devotion series from New Hope Publishers and Valeria’s Cross from Abingdon Press. A wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, Kathi lives in Southern California with her husband, Al, where the two of them spend their spare time riding Al’s Harley—hence, Kathi’s “road name” of Easy Writer! Her latest release is Red Ink, the third book in her popular Extreme Devotion series.

You can find out more about Kathi and her writing/speaking at or her blog at

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Author Spotlight: Nancy Carty Lepri and Tween Chapter Book Tiny Angel

When her dad is transferred to a new town, Macy Carver leaves behind her best friend and everything she knows. Suddenly she is the new girl…alone and bullied. An unexpected flash announces guardian angel Jody, who teaches her how to fit in and become a forever friend.

Read an Excerpt!

“Hey, chubbo quit hogging the sidewalk!” Kenny Thompson yanked the front of his bike off the ground, circled around eight-year-old Macy Carver, and stuck out his tongue.

“Don’t,” she yelled. Kenny cut the bike’s front wheel, covering her with dirty water. Laughing, he sped toward school.

“Creepazoid!” Macy said, brushing mud from her jeans, which made a worse mess. Mud even splattered her favorite top. Tears filled her eyes. Stupid North Carolina! Why did her dad have to move here? She hated being the new kid in class. Thanks to Kenny, the kids either ignored her or were mean. To make things worse, she had to sit next to him. Sighing, she trudged on, hoping that when she got to school, Kenny would have sprouted huge warts on his nose.
The first bell rang. Macy walked to her desk and tripped over Kenny’s outstretched foot.

“Hey four-eyes.” He laughed when she stumbled. “Are you a klutzo, too? Aw, poor Macy, dirty and klutzy.”

Macy grabbed the side of her desk to keep from falling. She glared at Kenny, ready to stick out her tongue, but decided he didn’t need anything else to tease her about. Biting her lip, she sat at her desk. She wanted to go home—fat lot of good that would do her. She knew she wouldn’t feel better there.

The letter she got yesterday from her best friend, Emily burned in her back pocket. Darn Emily! At least they’d been best friends back home. When she thought about everything Emily wrote, Macy’s stomach tightened and jerked as if she’d dropped three floors in a runaway elevator, and those muscles wouldn’t relax. It was the same feeling she got in the pit of her tummy every time she lied to her mother about something. Guilty.

But what do I have to feel guilty about? I haven’t done anything wrong. It isn’t like I wanted to move away.

Betrayed. That’s how Macy felt every time she thought about Emily telling her how she and Tricia Mitchell rode the school bus together now, played games and how they were always at each other’s house. Emily told Macy how much fun they were having, even saying they were going to the roller rink on Saturday then having a sleepover at Tricia’s house…something she and Emily loved doing together. Tricia Mitchell! Funny, Emily never liked Tricia before. She always called her stuck up. Now they’re best friends? What’s up with that?

Maybe Emily didn’t miss her at all. Macy suddenly felt lonelier than ever and she really wanted to cry.

A thwack to the back of her head reminded her that her misery was endless. She grabbed the runaway pencil from her lap and held it up. Kenny reached and snatched it from her. Macy blinked hard to keep the tears away. Please don’t let me cry in front of the other kids.

“Hey, I think Macy forgot her pencil. She’s trying to steal mine.” He leaned in with a nasty smirk and whispered, “Hey, chubbo, do you get a royalty every time someone up-sizes their burgers at Wendy’s?”

Choking with anger, Macy balled up her fist, but before she could give Kenny the pounding he deserved, a blazing ball of bright, pink light blasted through the room. It passed between them looking like a tiny comet zinging around Kenny’s head.

“What the…?” He swatted at it, eyes nearly bulging out of his head. The little pink fireball dodged at him again. Kenny lost his balance, and his butt hit the floor—hard.

Macy blinked and her mouth flew open. What the heck was that? It sounded like an insect, but was much bigger than any bug she’d ever seen. It was almost as if one of those fireworks she’d seen at Greenwood Park with her parents last summer had come to life and was waging war on Kenny.

Macy didn’t want to smile, but just then, she couldn’t think of a really good reason not to.

Watch the Trailer!

Here’s what reviewers are saying about Tiny Angel!

“In a day and age when chapter books for ‘tweens can sometimes be more hype than substance, Nancy Carty Lepri’s Tiny Angel is a breath of fresh air… I think Tiny Angel should be read in elementary schools everywhere. It would open up dialogue about bullying and how devastating it can be to an individual, and teach students the lost art of compassion.”

–Dixie Phillips, award-winning author of Stubby’s Destiny and other children’s books

“Tiny Angel is a well-written, delightful story that will entertain middle-grade girls… it’s simply a good story about school, friends, being oneself, and achieving one’s full potential. Highly recommended.”

–Mayra Calvani, author of Humberto, the Bookworm Hamster, Crash!, and The Magic Violin

“I would definitely recommend this book for your tween. Tiny Angel is an engaging and compelling story whose timeless messages will stay with your tween long after she’s read the last page.”

–The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection

"A book I would recommend to children who are dealing with being bullied or need a lesson in compassion for others."

--I'm A Reader, Not A Writer

"I would recommend this book to children ages 7-9, particularly those who are going through a stressful time, are bullied or need to hear that there is positivity in the world."

--Acting Balanced

Nancy Carty Lepri, born and raised in Massachusetts, earned an AA degree in Visual Art from Cape Cod Community College and a BA in Liberal Studies with a concentration in writing from Western New England College. In addition, she was a freelance reporter for several local newspapers.

In 1995, Nancy and her husband Art relocated to Wilmington NC where her publishing credits included the Wilmington Magazine as well as two national and international food-industry trade magazines.

Receiving Editor Certification through Cape Fear Community College in 2006, Nancy taught online writing and drawing courses, illustrated children’s books, started four mainstream novels, and had her children’s chapter book Tiny Angel, published through Guardian Angel Publishing in November 2009.

After a move to the Raleigh area in 2007, Nancy freelanced as senior editor for a national publisher, edited and wrote press releases for more than twenty novels, and was copy editor and reviewer for Affaire de Coeur magazine. She currently edits and critiques manuscripts, reviews for and New York Journal of Books, and is completing her sequel to Tiny Angel.

You can visit Nancy’s website at:

Skin MD Natural Giveaway at The Socialite's Closet

In addition to running Confessions of an Overworked Mom, my friend Ellen has a blog dedicated to fashion. The Socialite's Closet discusses and reviews all type of fashion accessories and stylish clothes. She also runs giveaways for a variety of products or turns you onto money saving coupons.

Right now The Socialite's Closet is running a giveaway for Skin MD Natural lotion. I would love to keep this news all to myself, as I really want to win; but here I am telling you all about it, so you can have a shot at it too.

Visit The Socialite's Closet by December 14th at to find all the details on this giveaway!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Author Spotlight: Darrell King and Mo' Dirty

Peter Whiskey Battle is a 24-year-old enforcer for Peola, Georgia’s Bad Boyz II Syndicate, a dangerous street gang controlling the lion’s share of illicit narcotics coming into the bustling port of Savannah. After murdering two local snitches for David Ambrosia, the suave, smooth-talking leader of the syndicate and Whiskey’s best friend, he is given an offer he can’t refuse.She struggles to come to terms with her failing marriage and her sick mother as she watches her chance at a happy home with children slip away. Her two childhood girlfriends offer help and support but they have their own personal struggles. The old saying, “what’s done in the dark will eventually comes to light” has never been more true.

When tragedy strikes, Maxine will have to make the most important decision of her life. But will the lies and secrets her husband and friends harbor bring Maxine’s life crashing down around her?


Darrell King has been writing ever since the age of eight. His first published work of fiction was penned during the fall of 1976 as a student of Mary Field’s Elementary School on South Carolina’s Daufuskie Island. This effort, an adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit,” was both written and illustrated by Mr. King and was published in the school’s quarterly periodical, “The Daufuskie Kid’s Magazine.” Mr. King went on to write several unpublished stories and numerous poems, several of which were published in the 1995-1996 “Poetry Anthology” by the National Library of Poetry in Owings Mills, Maryland.

During the 90s, Mr. King was attracted to and inspired by the lurid tales of inner city crime and drama that he read on the pages of novels by great writers such as Donald Goines and Iceberg Slim. This, coupled with an enduring appreciation for the hard-edged, yet enlightened lyric of the era’s gangsta rap icons like Tupac Shakur, The Notorious B.I.G., Easy E and others prompted Mr. King to begin writing his very own stories of urban crime and inner city drama.

Mr. King resides in Washington, DC.

To find out more about Darrell or to learn more about Mo’ Dirty visit King or

Tomorrow, Darrell will be visiting Book Marketing Buzz at

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pump Up Your Book Announces December ‘10 Authors on Virtual Book Tours

Join a talented and diverse group of 36 authors who are touring with Pump Up Your Book Virtual Book Tours during December 2010.
Follow these authors as they travel the blogosphere from December 6th through December 17th to discuss their books. You’ll find everything from seasonal titles to self-help books, from mystery novels to historicals, from romance novels to humorous pet advice books, and more!

M.M. Bennetts returns this month with his historical novel, Of Honest Fame. Other returning authors include John L. Betcher, Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein, K.D. Hays and Meg Weidman, Mary Maddox, and Judi Moreo.

Award-winning author Kathi Macias is touring with the third book in her Extreme Devotion series, Red Ink. Mysteries come to you from Kathryn Casey, Shelly Frome, and Susan Wingate, and children’s picture books are being promoted by V.S. Grenier and Nicole Weaver.

Seasonal titles in a variety of genres come to you from Joel Andre, Kristy Haile, Cheryl C. Malandrinos, and Tim Slover. Nonfiction offerings this month come from Shari Bookstaff, returning authors Denise Burroughs and Nicolas Oliva, Mike O’Mary, Kandy Siahaya, and Stephanie Vlahov.

Other authors on tour include: Monica Brinkman, the sister writing team of K.M. Daughters, returning authors Rolf Hitzer, Darrell King, Bronwyn Storm, and Vincent Zandri, Nancy Carty Lepri, Shana Mahaffey, Gary Starta, Kimmie Thomas, Tom White, and Amanda Wolfe.

Pamela Samuels Young returns this month to promote two of her legal thrillers: Buying Time and Murder on the Down Low. And for the first time ever, we feature Sparkle the Cat, the world’s foremost feline columnist, who is touring with her cat-to-cat advice book, Dear Sparkle.

Visit  to view a video trailer introducing our authors on tour in December.

Pump Up Your Book is a virtual book tour agency for authors who want quality service at an affordable price. More information can be found on their website at

Chicken Soup for the Soul Family Matters Giveaway at Confessions of an Overworked Mom

Ellen at Confessions of an Overworked Mom is also running a giveaway through December 8th for a copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul Family Matters. I own several of the Chicken Soup books and would love to add this to my collection.

You can enter to win by visiting Ellen's blog at by 12/8. There are many ways for you to increase your chance of winning.

In order to win, you must be at least 18 years of age and reside in the US.

Stop by Confessions of an Overworked Mom now to check out this and other giveaways!

$25 Gift Certificate to Glass Dharma Giveaway from Confessions of an Overworked Mom

Just because I haven't had time to post about the great giveaways going on every day at Confessions of an Overworked Mom doesn't mean you shouldn't be checking in at Ellen's blog all the time. She always has reviews and giveaways for a variety of books and products.

If you visit her at by December 12th, you can leave comments to win a gift certifcate to Glass Dharma, makers of the original glass straw.

Before I started really thinking about how much we throw away, I didn't see the big deal about buying plastic straws. Now I find that I wash them to use over and over again; but of course they still crack and need to be replaced, which means into the trash they go.

This is an excellent opportunity for you to get your hands on a set of glass straws. Stop by Confessions of an Overworked Mom right now!

Author Spotlight: Vivian Gilbert Zabel and Stolen

When troubles and tragedies steal the joy and happiness from life, a person has two choices: to rebuild and find a way to continue living or to give up.

Torri faces adversity after adversity and finds a way to reconstruct her life. However, when the most drastic tragedy hits, she doesn't know if she can continue or not.

Read an excerpt!

Two weeks passed with Alice growing rapidly weaker. The disease ravaged her body until the sheet covering her barely rose above the mattress. The hospice at first provided nursing care during the day; then nurses stayed on duty around the clock. Torri spent part of every day at her friend’s bedside, taking Leann and Lyle to visit two or three times a week. The children’s faces became somber the minute they entered the house and remained so for hours after they left, but they insisted on visiting Aunt Alice.
Jason became thinner and his face more careworn as his wife began to leave this life. When the doctor from the hospice warned him that Alice had days rather than months, Jason took a leave of absence from the department. He left Alice only to coach his team, which she insisted he continue.
June 25 dawned sunny and warm. A gentle breeze stirred the leaves in the trees as Torri picked ripe and nearly ripe tomatoes with Lyle helping by carrying the basket. Leann played with her Barbies under a weeping willow at the edge of the garden. The early morning, drowsy and peaceful, signaled the start of another Oklahoma summer.
“Torri!” Bess called from the garden entrance, hurrying toward her granddaughter who stood shadowing her eyes with her hand.
“What’s wrong, Gram?” Torri asked when her grandmother reached her.
“I’ll finish the tomatoes. Jason called and asked for you and the children to come immediately.”
Torri placed her hand over her mouth, fighting darkness and suffocation. Forcing herself to take a deep breath, she asked, “Is it ... time?”
At Bess’ nod, Torri called Leann to meet her at the end of the garden, took Lyle’s hand, and nearly ran toward the house, knowing she needed to change from her shorts and tee shirt before leaving. When they joined Leann, Torri grabbed one of her hands without pausing.
“We need to hurry, kids. Uncle Jason called. Remember we’ve talked about how we would have to say goodbye to Aunt Alice before long? Well, it’s time, sweeties.”
The silent children hurried with her, the tightening grasp on their mother’s hands their only response. When they climbed the steps to the porch, Torri stopped. “Please wait here. I need to change my clothes. You look fine, but I don’t. I’ll only be a minute.”
Fifteen minutes later they pulled into Jason’s and Alice’s drive where several cars were already parked. They rushed into the house where Jason’s mother, tears pooling in her eyes, escorted them to the bedroom. Alice lay in the bed surrounded by her parents on the side of the bed closest to the door and Jason on the other side with Pastor John standing behind him. A nurse waited in the shadows.
When she saw Torri, a ghost of a smile flitted across Alice’s face. “Mom, Dad, would you ... mind if I ... talked with Torri ... her children?” the whispering voice from the bed, so soft, so weak, asked.
When Mr. Rogers led his wife, who sobbed into a hanky, from the room, Torri and her children moved to the vacant side of the bed. Alice feebly reached out her hand, which Torri clasped in both of hers. “I had to ... see you ... one more time.”
“Please, don’t exert yourself. I know what you want to say. I love you, too, and I will miss you so very much.”
“Yes ... one more ... thing.”
“Anything I can.”
“Continue to be ... Jason’s ... friend ... special friend ... help him continue living ... I made ... him promise.”
“Of course. You didn’t need to ask. Jason will always be a part of our family.”
“Good. Where ... children?”
Dropping Alice’s hand, Torri brought both Leann and Lyle to stand in front of her, placing Lyle’s hand in Alice’s.
“Why does Aunt Alice want to hold my hand?” Lyle asked.
“That’s the only way she can hug now, Lyle,” Jason answered from across the bed, giving both children an encouraging, if wan, grin.
“Why don’t you tell Aunt Alice about your last game, sweetie?” Torri kept her hand on Lyle’s shoulder as she drew Leann into the circle
of her other arm.
Lyle regaled Alice with a hit by hit, out by out replay of the game two nights earlier, including his home run and game saving catch. Finally looking up at his mother, he asked, “Why does Aunt Alice have to hug so long?”
Struggling to hide a startled laugh behind a cough, Torri glanced toward Alice whose face also showed a tendency to smile. A strange choking came from the other side of the bed as Jason rubbed his free hand across his mouth. Alice answered his question. “I ... won’t be ... able to hug ... you ... again for ... a long time.”
“Oh,” the young boy nodded as he spoke, “that’s okay then. You want to hear about last Friday’s game?”
“Maybe we should allow Leann to get her ‘hug’ now.” Torri smoothed his hair back from his forehead.
“Why don’t you come over here by me,” Jason suggested to Lyle as Leann moved closer to where Alice’s hand, with an IV attached and a bandage covering it, now lay on the sheet.
“Aunt Alice has a hurt hand, Mommie. I don’t want to hold her hurt.” Leann hid her hands behind her back; then taking Torri’s hand, she placed it on Alice’s, holding her mother’s other hand in hers. “There, you hold Aunt Alice’s hand, and I’ll hold yours.”
“My pretty ... Leann ... I will miss you ... and your ... brother.” Alice forced the words through her parched lips. “Remember ... I love you.” Looking at Jason, then at Lyle, she told the boy, “You make ... Uncle ... Jason keep ... coaching, okay?”
After swallowing around the lump forming in his throat, Lyle nodded, sliding his hand into Jason’s and leaning against his side. “I don’t want you to leave us, Aunt Alice.” Tears filled Leann’s eyes as she squeezed her mother’s hand.
“I know, but God make me ... all better if I ... go to heaven.”
“Oh. I want you to be all better, but ... ” After she laid her face against Alice’s and Torri’s joined hands, Leann whispered, “I love you, Aunt Alice.”
The quiet voice that didn’t seem to belong to Lyle whispered, “I love you, too. Would you tell, uh, Jesus I love him, too, I mean, when you see him?”
“Of course ... aah!” Quickly the nurse efficiently moved Torri and Leann to one side, bending over the dying woman while Jason gently pushed Lyle toward his mother.
“Goodbye, my ‘bestest’ friend,” Torri whispered before she removed her children from the room. Alice’s parents each briefly touched her shoulder as they returned to their daughter’s side.
A few minutes later, Jason with Pastor John beside him entered the living room gravely to announce, “She’s gone.”

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After a career in the business world and then twenty-five years teaching, Vivian Gilbert Zabel retired to devote her time to writing. A wife, a mother of three living children, a grandmother, and a great-grandmother, she uses family and life experiences in her writing.

You can visit Vivian online at and the Stolen website at

Purchase your copy of Stolen here!

This book is also available at and!