Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Debut Young Adult


Spoken by Melanie Weiss
Young Adult fiction
March 2019 Rosehip Publishing
$7.99 Ebook
$9.99 Print
Buy on Amazon

About the Book:
High school freshman Roman Santi has everything -- good looks, great friends, a mansion with an infinity swimming pool -- except the one thing he really wants. A relationship with his father.

When Roman’s life gets turned upside down, (thanks, Mom!?), he is forced to leave his pampered Hollywood lifestyle and move into his grandparents’ Midwestern home. Sleeping on a lumpy pullout sofa and starting at a new high school is the worst, but Roman’s life starts to look up when his pink-haired friend, Zuzu, and his crush, a classmate named Claire, introduce him to performance poetry through the high school's Spoken Word Club. While his mom is flying back and forth to L.A., trying to return them to the life they had, Roman becomes part of a diverse group of characters who challenge his rather privileged view of the world. Through Spoken Word, Roman recognizes the hole in his own life he needs to fill and discovers his voice. Spoken Word leads Roman on a journey of new friendships, first love, and finding the dad he never knew.

“Spoken” is an uplifting, funny, and heartfelt coming-of-age story that captures how the honesty of performance poetry binds together students from all different walks of life and forever changes Roman’s life.

Weiss’s debut young adult fiction captures the angst and inner workings of a teenager, Roman Santi, whose life is turned from mansion with a housekeeper in LA to sleeping on grandma’s sofa bed with a statue of the Buddha staring at him. The novel is a lovely, refreshingly sweet and poignant story about a kid not warped by society whose goal is to simply live happily ever after, be a friend, find friends, but also to find the father he’s never known. One of my favorite lines is from Roman’s first day at his new school, when he’s challenged by his mother’s over-the-top appearance as a minor movie star in exile: “Welcome to my world, where I’m happy my hippie grandma is the one taking me to school today.”

Everybody knows about being fifteen. Teens suffer amid the transcending moments. Roman finds his transcending moment when a poem and a girl spark his interest and he joins an after-school poetry club. Weiss, a trained journalist, writes what she knows about Midwestern living and the experiences of the Spoken Word movement in high school. She shares about her inspiration for the novel. During the late nineties, when the character Roman was born, Spoken Word was incorporated into the English classroom in Oak Park. Weiss credits this performance writing as a means for students to share their struggles and triumphs. Her character. Roman, found his niche in his program, although he decides not to share his poetry with his family. “The only way I can be real about what I write is if I know I won’t have to explain myself to them,” Roman says. Participating in Spoken Word allows him to uncork his bottle of stuffed feelings about his place in life, his environment, and his upbringing.

 When an opportunity to go to Europe arises from a Spoken Word competition, Roman, with the encouragement of his friend Zuzu, takes a step on a journey to find his father. Roman knows only that his father is a French cruise ship entertainer his mother met the summer they both worked on board. But first he has to earn the right to be part of the poetry team to compete against their London counterparts.

Roman shares his story through first-person present tense narrative, an effective method of bonding the reader to him. Spoken is not one of those in-your-face epic hero journeys. It’s a rare school year peek into contemporary high school freshman year, where the onus to grab life and make meaningful memories in on us. It’s difficult to find comparisons to today’s contemporary YA. Spoken is a finely-tuned story about coming to grips with identity without needing to kill, die, have sex, or do drugs. The cover is an evocative rendering of experiencing not only what you learn, but how you can share it.
Melanie Weiss
About the Author:
I am a member of the Chicago Writers Association and live in Oak Park, IL. As a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, I have worked as a journalist and in marketing. This is my first novel. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

I'll Settle For Love review

I'll Settle for Love (The Trampled Rose #3)
I’ll Settle for Love by Michelle Lynn Brown
Contemporary Inspirational Family Fiction
November, 2013
Buy on Amazon 

About the Book:
Leanne grew up under the steady trickle of the harsh and belittling words of her critical mother, in the shadow of her sisters’ perfection, and under the weight of a dark secret. With her self-confidence all but eroded, and her head hanging down, she is surprised when Mike McKinley notices her. With every kind word, Mike erases a little pain from her past, and for the first time, she feels as if she is standing on firm ground. But seven years into their marriage, she realizes that her foundation is lying on shallow ground. As their marriage and family begin to settle, the cracks appear.
Mike McKinley is a fixer. From cars to people, he is the guy to go to when you have something that needs repair. But when their oldest daughter is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, he is sent into a tail spin. As his daughter is struggling to stay afloat in her world, and his wife is drowning in her insecurities, Mike feels helpless to do anything to save them.
A wide chasm separates their marriage, and storms threaten to send them crashing through the pit. Can Leanne fight her past, her insecurities and her failing faith to discover the difference between settling for the storm, and striving for the rainbow that comes after?

As the summary says, two people fall in love and marry. One of them wears despair so well under a veneer of the perfect wife no one knows she’s suffering, and the other has gotten so good at seeing what he wants to see that he refuses to remove his rose-colored glasses to understand why his wife spends an inordinate amount of time protecting their daughter from life.
Unlike a traditional romance, I’ll Settle for Love is about dealing with what comes after the wedding. Real life takes work, and while Leanne and Mike do have a great relationship and are making it as a family in a middle class world, Leanne’s past is slowly creeping up on her. Mike continues to gloss over the reasons Leanne refuses to spend time with her parents and made him vow to never, ever allow their children unsupervised visits at their home. His own parents more than make up any slack, and it never occurs to Mike that there’s an obvious problem. In fact, any problem that can’t be revealed through a mechanical diagnosis and fixed with a wrench escapes his happy-go-lucky viewpoint. When Leanne’s stepfather dies, the bough breaks and it takes more tears, more loss, and a lot of faith to undo a life of parental damage and remake the family according to God’s plan.
This is in many ways a difficult story, but told with empathetic and sympathetic characters. The end is not completely obvious, and readers will enjoy making their way through the twists. Adult themes make me suggest parental oversight for younger than tenth-grade readers.

Michelle Lynn Brown
About the Author:
When Michelle Lynn Brown was a teenager, her mother used to take her to used books stores at least once a month. It was there she fell in love with the written word. As a writer, she uses this passion to share with others the joy of having a personal and intimate relationship with Christ.

She is a housewife, mother of three, military spouse, writer, blogger, hopeless romantic, and a cuddly lap for one very large cat. She was born in Dayton, Ohio, but raised in El Paso, Texas. And since she married her husband, the military has blessed her with the opportunity to live in many locations, from Germany to Pennsylvania, where she now resides.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Regina Smeltzer and the Light of Logan review

Light of Logan

The Light of Logan by Regina Smeltzer
Contemporary Christian horror
Harbourlight, October, 2018
Buy on Amazon 

About the Book:
Crows are appearing in Logan, South Carolina, and no one knows why. No one except an elderly blind man Mr. Charlie and a timid young agnostic, Ruth Cleveland. When Nate Baxter, falls in love with Ruth, he's unaware she is hiding a secret that threatens his Christianity and will drive him far from her. Will God use this unlikely trio to save the town from an evil never imagined by the residents of Logan?

The occult plays a central part in this marvelously creepy tale of spiritually challenging events revealing the deep-seeded underbelly of animosity in one small town.
Ruth is one of those lost souls that make you want to take her home and feed her and just love her up. She’s been beaten by life but doesn’t seem to know she could just give up and meld into fate. Even when she reaches the point where she’s ready to deal with the devil, circumstances miraculously and weirdly intervene to save her from herself. But for what purpose? Mr. Charlie, the mysterious blind man Ruth met and visits with daily, tries to prepare Ruth for the role only he seems to understand she is called to play.
While I found the character of Nate, Ruth’s love interest, a bit plastic, he plays his role well. Peopled with natural, loving side characters beset by raw evil, The Light of Logan is a story that makes readers wonder what would happen in your community if a law that removed taxation exemptions currently enjoyed by non-profits was enacted.
Recommended for those who like a little night terror with their daily inspiration.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Jerusalem Rising: Adah's Journey

Jerusalem Rising: Adah’s Journey by Barbara Britton
Biblical history
Harbourlight, November 2017
Buy on Amazon 

About the Book:
When Adah bat Shallum finds the governor of Judah weeping over the crumbling wall of Jerusalem, she learns the reason for Nehemiah's unexpected visit—God has called him to rebuild the wall around the City of David. Nehemiah challenges the people of God to labor on the wall and in return, the names of their fathers will be written in the annals for future generations to cherish. But Adah has one sister and no brothers. Will her father, who rules a half-district of Jerusalem, be forgotten forever? Adah bravely vows to rebuild her city's wall, though she soon discovers that Jerusalem not only has enemies outside the city, but also within. Can Adah, her sister, and the men they love, honor God's call? Or will their mission be crushed by the same stones they hope to construct?

Beautifully written, well-researched tale of one of the lost eras in the history of the Hebrew nation. Yes, we read about rebuilding the wall in Ezra and Nehemiah, but then begins a dark ages-like time until the Roman occupation. It’s good to know that women went alongside as they were called to do. While Britton doesn’t mean to create a feminist novel here, she does want us to know through lovely fiction that women were not always the paving stones of the biblical world. They had a mission and a voice and real goals. Adah’s Journey is a story of one of these women with a personality and a national sense of duty; a determination to act upon God’s call for her community no matter what misguided men of the society believe of feminine capabilities in opposition to God’s plan.

Adah’s mother encourages Adah and her sister Judith to seek help from an old friend who has gone to live as a hermit outside of the city. This master builder has his own past to deal with and fights rejoining society. Nehemiah, the cupbearer to the king, is portrayed as a sympathetic hero who must convince his own people to retake their culture and their faith during a broken time. Fans of biblical fiction will find much to love about this story, one of the Tribes of Israel series. Adah’s Journey is a stand-alone full-length novel.

Barbara M. BrittonAbout the Author:
Barbara M. Britton was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, but currently lives in Wisconsin and loves the snow—when it accumulates under three inches. She writes romantic adventures for teens and adults. Barb has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Wisconsin Romance Writers of America, Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers. You can visit Barb online at www.barbarambritton.com or follow her on Facebook and twitter.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Science Fiction The Third Thaw

The Third Thaw

Third Thaw by Karl J Hanson
Young adult futuristic fiction
August 2018
EL Marker, Publisher
Buy on Amazon 

About the Book:
Mankind forced to relocate to a different habitable environment, light years from Earth. A group of young people on a distant planet who must re-establish human civilization. A fantastical yet realistic world based on plausible technological developments. A power-mad egomaniac determined to destroy anyone who gets in his way. This is The Third Thaw, a hard science fiction novel that presents a radically different strategy for planet colonization, one within the grasp of present technologies.
In a settlement called New Eden, live a group of teens known as the Third Thaw. They come from Earth, conceived there and sent as frozen embryos on a rocket ship to this planet twenty-six light years away, a journey that lasted 80,000 years. 
When they reach the age of twenty-one, after being thoroughly and specifically educated for their future tasks, the Third Thaw must leave New Eden to assist with colonizing a larger, permanent settlement on the planet. 
After the First and Second Thaws fail to complete their expedition, it’s up to the Third Thaw to succeed and save civilization.
As the highly-trained expedition party heads out to fulfill their tasks, they encounter life-threatening obstacles in their way, many of which challenged the Thaws that preceded them. 
Not the least of these is a group broken off from a German colony sent from Earth years earlier. This group and their leader, Ulrich, believe they are evolved beyond ordinary humans. 
Ulrich, along with his supercomputer “Genius,” is determined to destroy the Third Thaw. And anyone else who threatens to stop him.

The Third Thaw is an intriguing distant future yet familiar novel that spans several genres, from coming of age to New Adult to mildly science fiction fantasy. The summary explains the story quite well. If you like Lord of the Flies combined with some of Ray Bradbury’s robotic parent-teacher tales, you’ll find The Third Thaw enjoyable. A little rough start with formal language eventually smoothed out into a very nicely written, engaging story. One aspect I was surprised about was that the children raised in New Eden are virtual innocents, not even taught about adult relationships, then expected to go forth and populate their new world, but there were a number of twists that kept me turning pages. The story is an intriguing tale about potential societal development when attempting to start from scratch. I wanted to read this story as I worked on my book, Parhelion, that revolves around a similar theme of starting a new civilization from scratch and was glad to note we each have our own fresh perspective.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Spring BreakBookapalooza

Spring Break Bookapalooza Website Header

Calling all readers! Spring has sprung and you’re all invited to N. N. Light’s
Daily features from April 1-30

#Celebrate your love of books all month long at N. N. Light’s Book Heaven Spring Break Bookapalooza. 56 books, 35 bestselling and award-winning authors, 5 Amazon/B&N gift cards plus author share what they love about #spring and where they’d love to #travel to on their fantasy spring break. Leave your passport and sunscreen at home and join in the fun.

Open Internationally.
56 books featured plus a chance to win one of the following - sign up below:

Enter to win a $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
Enter to win a $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
Enter to win a $25 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
Enter to win a $15 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
Enter to win a $10 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

I’m thrilled to be a part of this event. My book, Parhelion, will be featured on April 5. I even talk about where I’d go on spring break if money were no option. You won’t want to miss it.

Amazon https://amzn.to/2S0ANVn
BN https://bit.ly/2DvGXHI
Kobo https://bit.ly/2Gs69Tx
Smashwords https://bit.ly/2EwSVCA
Goodreads https://bit.ly/2N2o1Vn

Bookmark this get-together and tell your friends! Enter the raffle below.

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Friday, March 29, 2019

Rose Chandler Johnson shares her new romantic fiction

Refuge at Pine Lake: A Pine Haven Novel by [Chandler Johnson, Rose]

Refuge at Pine Lake
Rose Chandler Johnson
Chanson Books
March, 2019
Inspirational Romantic Fiction

$4.99 Ebook
$14.99 Print

Buy on Amazon

About the Book
Robin Lancaster, a twenty-six-year-old former kindergarten teacher, has her summer and her life all figured out. She’s ready to be on her own, writing and illustrating her children’s stories at her family’s beloved lake house. Once there, she intends to rekindle a romance with Caleb Jackson, the area’s top hunting and fishing guide, and bag him for herself. Complications arise from the start when Robin finds out her mother has rented the lake house to a man they know nothing about. Matthew McLaughlin, forty-year-old widowed university professor and author from California, shows up at Pine Lake in crisis. A sabbatical might be his only hope to save much more than his career. He needs a place of refuge. Sharing the lake house with a lighthearted young woman and her dog is the last thing on his mind. Caleb Jackson has his own plans. He’s used to things going his way, but a man staying in Robin’s house presents unforeseen challenges. When paths unavoidably entangle for these three, hearts are on the line.

About the Author
Rose Chandler Johnson is known for her heartwarming, inspirational writing. In addition to works of God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea: Experiencing God in the Midst of Everyday Moments.
sweet contemporary, Christian fiction, Rose has written an award-winning devotional,

Connect with her on her devotional blog: www.writemomentswithgod.blogspot.com
Twitter: @rechanjo
Follow her on BookBub: bit.ly/2CezzAx

Refuge at Pine Lake by Rose Chandler Johnson

“…a tender story of healing and finding a place to belong. This sweet, Southern romance doesn’t disappoint.” –Liz Talley

Rose, what do you love about this new story?

What’s not to love? I love the intriguing storyline itself which involves an unlikely love-triangle, and I love the characters who make the story come to life. Any one of them could be someone you know. They each have real struggles and goals, strengths and weaknesses, and the reader sees them dealing with their lives and growing in the process. I’m not ready to say good-bye to these folks and you won’t be either. More Pine Haven romances will be forthcoming.

Tell us something about Caleb.

Caleb is a handsome and talented man who appears to be a prince of a man. Having earned a degree in electrical engineering, he none the less launched out on his own to pursue his dream and became Pine Lake’s top hunting and fishing guide. He’s a man’s man, yet he’s also one who opens doors for ladies and brings them flowers. He’s a keeper all right. Robin has her heart set on him for her future husband. Yet, as we all know, flaws rise to the surface in the course of relationship dynamics and … you’ll have to read the story to see how things work out.

Share one or two new things you learned while writing this book.

A vital component of our well-being is our connection with others. We need that connection to feel needed and valued as a human being. In an atmosphere of love, we’re free to be our best selves.  The story also highlighted for me the complex dynamics of relationships and the lovely way God works on our behalf if we’ll just let Him.

What do you hope readers will tell others about this story?

That it is heartwarming and a real pleasure to read. That it’s definitely a worthwhile story you won’t put down. You’ll love the characters and setting. Read it.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Craft Talk Omniscient Point of VIew

Omniscient Voice or Head-Hopping?

What’s the difference between an all-knowing, omnipresent, prescient narrator, or what’s basically author intrusion? The widest footprint in the sand is whether your omniscient narrator has a role in the story or whether it observes events. An omniscient narrator knows the thoughts and timeline, but does not influence them. It is unkind to show off this knowledge of multiple characters in the same scene or paragraph, let alone same sentence, but it’s not necessarily wrong. Omniscient POVs are generally found in literary works instead of genre work. Omniscient POV generally works better in plot-driven story (when the story is mostly about what happens/reactions to events) vs. character-driven story (when the story is mostly about the people/what they do).

Head-hopping switches from a person’s thoughts about something to another person’s thoughts of their own individual tone/perspectives in the same setting or scene, in the same sentence or paragraph. It is the character’s voice vs. the narrator’s voice telling something about them or another character from outside of the purview, not the characters sharing their story from their own mindset.

Is head-hopping ever acceptable? Let’s just say, it’s done on occasion, especially in some romantic lit or in books by popular authors whose editors fear their reps. It can be done without disrupting the reading experience (eg, in the heat of the moment), but it’s more compelling to watch an expert author spin a tale limited to one perspective (at a time).

Omniscient voice should never change perspective but keep the same tone and ability throughout, an all-knowing prescient entity, unless the narrator is a character with a storyline and purpose. Omniscient voice often masquerades as author intrusiveness and lays a barrier between reader and story. An aspect of omniscient voice that I try to teach writers to avoid is that a prescient voice tends to waste the reader’s time explaining what’s not happening, not heard or seen, not done, or not known. Omniscient is what perspective, in general, cinematic films use to show story.

Omniscient voice can be:
  • Completely outside narrator with a voice/personality/perspective of his own (Our Town/Wilder, Book Thief/Zusack). This perspective may be unreliable because it has bias. 
  • Omniscient close third – the narrator knows the thoughts and feelings of everyone, those born and long gone, but does not direct the action; merely reports, not responds, not causes the characters to act or react; this narrator is trustworthy (and boring), and uses the same tone throughout the book. (Celeste Ng/Everything I Never Told You, Brave New World/Huxley) 
  • Omniscient limited third – the narrator knows everything about only one or two characters or an event. The setting can become a character. It has bias but only from what it knows about the character. This voice understands and not always hears those around him/her. (Harry Potter/Rowling, Hogwarts; A Man Called Ove/Backman, the neighborhood; My Grandmother Told Me to Tell You She's Sorry/Backman, the apartment house)
What should you choose for your story? Here are some pointers to help you decide:
  • Does your story have a literary scope or does your story fall into a specific genre?
  • Whose story are you telling? (Which character has the most to lose?)
  • Is the relationship among the characters or the event/scope of the story more important?
  • How would your story be different if your characters weren’t directing their own actions?
  • Can you carry such an all-knowing voice consistently throughout the entire book?

 Photo courtesy of LisaLeo on Morguefile.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Francie Dickman shares her novel Chuckerman Makes a Movie

Chuckerman Makes a Movie: A Novel

Chuckerman Makes a Movie
Francie Dickman

She Writes Press
Self-discovery, Jewish fiction
October, 2018
$16.95 Print
$9.95 Ebook

Purchase Links: 
Barnes and Noble
The Book Stall

About the Book:
“A laughter-inducing novel of nostalgia and self-discovery…rooted in love, family connections, and comedic dysfunction.” —Foreword Reviews

-Winner of Chicago Writer's Association 2018 Book of the Year Award, Indie Fiction 

David Melman is a successful thirty-five-year-old celebrity brander with deep affection for the 1977 Cadillac he inherited from his grandfather. But everyone in his life agrees that he needs some help in the relationship department. When David’s sister, Marcy, suggests a screenwriting class, he tentatively agrees, and readers are treated to the story of Slip and Estelle, David's grandparents and characters in a real-life soap opera that is Jewish senior living in 1970’s Miami. 

Will writing a movie about a childhood visit to his grandparents in Florida, an unforgettable driving lesson, and a 1977 Cadillac bring David love? Luck? Or both? Alternating between David's present-day life and his past through his movie script, Chuckerman Makes a Movie is a romantic comedy blended with a comedic coming-of-age.

A Brief Interview with the Author:

Francie, what do you love about this book?
I love many things about Chuckerman Makes a Movie—the characters, the relationships between the characters, and I love the humor. I laughed out loud a lot as I wrote, and I hope that my readers will do the same. But I especially love the setting of David Melman's movie—his grandparents North Miami Beach senior-citizen condominium building in 1977. One of my purposes in writing the story was to bring to life that era and that communal way of living. Also, I particularly love Grandma Estelle's story line. As I was writing, I thought the story belonged to David and Slip, the grandfather. But when I got to the end, I realized that the story was just as much about Grandma Estelle and Laurel. It's a story about feminism and freedom. 

Share a couple of things you learned while researching this story.  
First and foremost, I learned about screen writing. The present-day plot line centers around a film writing class that David Melman begrudgingly attends and the relationship that he later develops with his film writing instructor, Laurel Sorenson (aka "The Mormon Rodeo"). In addition, throughout the book, David writes a script. To write the novel, I read a ton of books on screen writing, I studied scripts, I watched and re-watched movies.

Also, in the novel, Laurel grapples with leaving her religion for Judaism. So, in bringing Laurel to life, I learned about the Mormon religion. I didn't know that Mormon's don't drink coffee.

Introduce us to the character who made you cry first.
I don't think any of the characters made me cry, it's not that kind of a book. But, Grandma Estelle certainly holds the softest spot in my heart. She's a sympathetic character. She's kind. She's smart. She's caring. She's upbeat and optimistic. She's not in the best of health. She has put up with Slip her whole life. She hasn't always been treated well by him but she's dependent on him. Early on in the book, she asks Davy if he's heard of Women's Lib, and then says if she knew where they were selling it, she'd go get herself some. That line gets me.

What do you hope readers will tell others when they’ve finished the book?
I hope readers will tell others to read Chuckerman. Ideally, they will say something like: You need to read Chuckerman Makes a Movie! It will make you feel like you are watching a Neil Simon movie...it's family story, a coming-of-age, a perfect combination of funny, sentimental and serious. Go get it now.

What are you reading now?
I just finished Educated by Tara Westover, which was one of the most amazing stories I've ever read. Before that, I read The Budda at My Table by Tammy Letherer. I recommend both of these memoirs.

What’s next?
I'm working on another novel. My goal is to get this one, currently titled A Fish Out of Water, done in less than time than the decade it took me to write Chuckerman!

About the Author:
Francie Arenson Dickman has been using her family as the source of writing material her whole life. Chuckerman Makes a Movie, published by SheWrites Press, is her first novel.

Her personal essays have appeared in publications such as The Chicago Tribune, Huffington Post, Today Parents, Motherwell Magazine, Brain Child Magazine, among others, and have served as material for performances at TEDx Chicago, The MOTH and Listen to Your Mother. She lives in the same suburb of Chicago in which she grew up, with her husband, twin daughters and dog, Pickles. She received her B.A. from the University of Michigan and her J.D. from The George Washington University School of Law.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Arrow Bringer by Lisa Mayer

Image may contain: cloud, sky and text

The Arrow Bringer 
Book one of the Alethian Journeys
Lisa R Mayer

releases March 2019
Write Integrity Press
E-book $6.99
Print $15.99
Buy on Amazon

About the Book
Evie could’ve saved Aletheia. Now it might be too late.
Evie Lewis has just been diagnosed with leukemia at sixteen and given precious little time or hope. A powerful being called the Arrow Bringer offers her a choice: to spend her last days in peace, or save Aletheia. 

She chooses poorly. 

But when Shawn Lawrence—the closest person she has to a friend—goes in her place, Evie must save Shawn and race to fix her mistake as a shadow falls over Aletheia. Even as leukemia consumes her body, a new enemy and more imminent perils pursue her. And she must endure all to save Aletheia while keeping her darkest secret: that the destruction of Aletheia is all her fault. 

About the Author
Lisa Mayer loves Jesus and his people very much. She takes to heart, "Love the Lord your God with
all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself."

She loves her husband Rich and her furbaby, Scooby. She loves her family and friends. She loves writing. In her free time, you'll find her curled up in her superhero pajamas binge-watching her favorite TV shows or movies, catching up on her reading list, or playing Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery. She loves bike-riding, adventures and traveling. She crosses something off my bucket list every year.

She’s a total nerd and not afraid to be different. She has anxiety and OCD and is a proud mental health warrior who wants to break the stigma of mental health.

She writes because she loves it, but most of all because she loves Jesus and her readers. She hopes her books will reflect who she is: someone who wants to inspire others and make a difference. She hopes they give you a serious case of the feels, and that they make you laugh. Most of all, she hopes they help you know just how much Jesus loves you. 

A Brief Interview with the Author
What do you love about your first book?
There’s a quote that really resonates with me—a Writer is a World trapped in a person. The Arrow Bringer is the first time I opened my heart wide enough for the whole world to fall in. It’s a terrifying thing—to put your words on a page. Because in those words, in those characters, in that story… is me. My doubts and fears, my hopes and dreams, my sense of humor, my relationship with God. Within those pages, you’ll find everything I am within a story that I wrote and dedicate to you with love.

Tell us something you learned about the story in your research.
The thing that surprised me most as a writer was that I could write a scene I didn’t plan on or didn’t see coming. I would plan everything to go or be a certain way, and then suddenly—BAM! It’d be something else entirely. What also surprised me was how much of my heart and soul I poured into my characters. There’s a lot of me in them, and sometimes even the person I’d like to be. I would actually find myself learning from them and be inspired by them. It’s true that there’s a world trapped inside me. And sometimes the person who’s most surprised by that… is me.

Introduce us to the most difficult character.
There is one character who demanded more from me, and that was Liana. Liana started off as a minor male character named Lian. He didn’t have much of a part, and he’d pop up from time to time. Then someone pointed out to me that my book needed another strong female lead, and so Lian became Liana. And the more I got to know her, the more I loved her. She’s honestly strong in a way I wish I could be—speaking my mind, not caring what anyone thinks, and being completely herself all the time no matter what it means. She’s now one of my favorites, and so much more interesting as a girl.

What do you hope readers will say when they've finished the book?
I know that allegory is not that popular. I really hope that readers won’t just see the allegory. I’ll hope they’ll see that The Arrow Bringer is a story about them. That life is messy and complex, and yet it is beautiful. That we all have a special calling, we all matter, and every single one of us is irreplaceable. I hope The Arrow Bringer will challenge them, inspire them, and make them laugh. Mostly, I just really hope they’ll like it.

What are you reading now?
I am currently reading The Mortality Doctrine series by James Dasher. I love young adult novels and have a whole bunch of them on my shelf to read.

What's next for you?
I’m looking forward to the release of the next books of The Aletheian Journeys series. Two are already done and one more I’m about to start editing. Now comes the hard part—marketing. But what I really hope to do is connect with my readers. I hope to meet them, get to know them, and be part of their lives.

Social Media links:
Twitter @LisaRMayer2019

Friday, March 15, 2019

Alone on the Shield by Kirk Landers

Alone on the Shield by Kirk Landers

Alone on the Shield
Kirk Landers

Chicago Review Press
c. 2017
Adventure Romance

E-Book $12.99
Print $15.99

Buy the book

About the Book:
I hope you get drafted, I hope you go to Vietnam, I hope you get shot, and I hope you die there. Those words, spoken in the anger of youth, marked the end of the torrid 1960s college romance of Annette DuBose and Gabe Pender. She would marry a fellow antiwar activist and end up immigrating to Canada. He would fight in Vietnam and come home to build an American dream kind of life—a great career, a trophy wife, and a life of wealth and privilege. Forty years later, they have reconnected and discovered a shared passion: solo canoeing in Ontario’s raw Quetico wilderness. They decide to meet again to get caught up on old times, but not in a restaurant or coffee shop—they agree to meet on an island deep in the Quetico wilds. Though they try to control their expectations for the rendezvous, they both approach the island with a growing realization of the emotional void in their lives and wonder how different everything might have been if they had spent their lives together. They must overcome challenges just to reach the island, then encounter the greatest challenges of all—each other, and a weather event for the ages. Alone on the Shield is a story about the Vietnam war and the things that connect us. It is the story of aging Baby Boomers, of the rare kinds of people who paddle alone into the wilderness, and of the kind of adventure that comes only to the bold and the brave.

My Review:
One thing hearing an author speak is that when you later a book you often hear it in the author’s voice. Since I’d heard the author read portions of the book, the voice added an extra dimension to the experience of reading.

Alone on the Shield is a bit of a misnomer, as the “alone” part only lasts a few days, maybe hours at a time in reality, for either of the heroes of the story. The book is part man against nature and a lot of man against himself. It’s an adventure of the wildest sort about reclaiming a part of who you are and realizing you really do have a chance to do life over, and all the mistakes you made happened for the right reasons.

Gabe Pender is everyone’s anti-hero, fed up with the corporate system and everyone else’s understanding of success, while Annette DuBoise is a woman who achieved success despite a bucketload of ice chips she enjoys wearing on her shoulders as an outfitter in a man’s world of adventure tripping in one of the wildest places in North America. Quetico, the Boundary Waters, fall. Both of them seek the thrill of pitting themselves against nature from the opposite sides of the border. They’re former lovers who chose vastly different paths in life, and are reconnecting forty years later maybe for old times’ sake, maybe more.

Pender left his high-tower publishing world with a whimper and a bang, and anger management seems to only fuel his long-held rage leftover from helplessness during the turbulence of the seventies and Vietnam. He decides to take on the wilderness and his past as a step toward a hazy no-cares retirement. Annette took on Canada with both arms and made a life for herself and her daughters after realizing she didn’t want to support a philandering husband. When Gabe connects with her after decades of wondering what might have been, they agree to rendezvous in the Canadian Shield.

The setting is lush; the journey is filled with high-stakes adventure, adventurers, high-jinx, and treachery both man-made and natural. I’m not a hundred percent crazy about the end, but you’ll have to judge for yourself. Those who love outdoor adventure and particularly the Boundary Waters will love Alone on the Shield. The story is not for the faint of heart or soul and uses colorful language.

About the Author:
Kirk Landers launched his professional writing career in the U.S. Army, writing profiles of his fellow Basic Trainees for the post newspaper in return for getting out of KP and guard duty. After military service, he worked for a suburban shopper, then became a staff writer and editor for an RV magazine. Over the next decade, he was the chief editor for two special interest magazines and a staff writer for Time-Life Books.

In the mid-Eighties, he entered the trade magazine world as a chief editor, first with a title in the food industry, then in the construction industry. His magazines won dozens of awards for journalistic excellence over the next 20 years.

In 2001, Landers and three other entrepreneurs purchased two failed trade magazines and spent the next six years building them into valuable properties. Landers and his partners sold their company in 2007. After he completed his obligations to the acquiring company in 2008, Landers became a full time freelance, writing for a variety of construction magazines and learning the craft of writing long fiction.

In the 1990s, he co-authored A Lifetime of Riches, a commissioned biography of self-help writer Napoleon Hill. He self-published his first novel, a mystery, under a pen name in 2012. It won several awards, and he followed with two more in the series. Since 2014, he has focused on writing and placing Alone on the Shield, the story of two Vietnam era lovers who broke up over the war meeting on a wilderness island forty years later.

Landers is married, has three children and seven grandchildren. His military service included an 18-month stint in Vietnam. He has a BA from Drake University. He is an avid wilderness paddler, a poor but enthusiastic fisherman, and a dedicated workout maven. He lives in the suburbs of Chicago.

He first paddled in Quetico Park in the early 1990s and has returned almost every summer since then, usually paddling in tandem with his wife, occasionally alone.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Read an EBOOK Week

On the final day of Celebrating Read an Ebook week, I feature the final two books of the Buried Treasure Mystery series available through Smashwords and other retailers.

My fellow Chicago Writers Association author poet Renee J Nowlin has written a lovely debut book of poetry inspired by her world travels, Oh, The Places I Have Traveled.

Renee J. Nowlin has had adventures all over the world, but for this poet, the most exciting and inspiring places are within her own heart. Her debut poetry collection isn’t merely about the physical locations she has visited—it’s about the crossroads in her life that have taught her something new and meaningful.

One such moment was in December 2015. Nowlin traveled to Barbados and returned from the idyllic island feeling newly inspired to pursue her writing. It wasn’t the picturesque vistas or exotic locale that led to this creative rejuvenation—instead, it was how people opened their hearts and homes to her that fueled her muse.

Nowlin’s poetry reflects the mood of the island and the optimism she brought back with her. Her poems cover a wide variety of experiences and encapsulate important truths about romance, heartbreak, community, and family. Others draw upon Nowlin’s experiences as an African American woman to speak about identity and heritage. Each work shows another facet of a strong new voice in American poetry.

Nowlin stresses that this journey through her life is still unfolding and developing. While she relishes the inspiration she’s already gained, she’s also planning all the places she’ll go next!

Buy the book on Amazon


As a gift to my readers, the seven books available at Smashwords remain on half-price sale through March 31.

View The Map Quilt and The Newspaper Code profile page.
Purchase books using this code: TC53J
Death in rural Wisconsin is only the beginning to new chaos in Robertsville.
What do a stolen piece of revolutionary agricultural equipment, a long-buried skeleton in the yard, and an old quilt with secrets have in common? Hart and Judy Wingate, who met in The Last Bequest are back to solve the mystery of The Map Quilt. Hart’s new battery design could forever change the farm implement industry. But after the death of Hart’s most confrontational colleague in a fire that destroys Hart’s workshop, the battery is missing. And Hart is the last one to see him alive.

Deadheading the Petunias is not just a gardening expression in Robertsville.

Judy Wingate, a new mom, and her NOT-BFF, nosy reporter Olivia Hargrove, team up in a testy relationship to solve the murder of elderly civil servant Esme Espe who may have uncovered millions of dollars of missing city treasury money. Old friends and new ones join the race to find the money before the murderer.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Sara Foust and Rarity Mountain

Rarity Mountain (Faith, Hope, and Love Series Book 3) by [Foust, Sara L.]

Rarity Mountain
Sara L Foust
Christian Adventure/Romantic Suspense

Mantle Rock Publishing
c. March 5, 2019

About the Book
On the surface, SIMON FINCUFF and FERN STRONGBOW have nothing in common. Simon has served his sentence, but his past conviction still haunts him. Fern is a veterinarian and grew up on an off-the-grid homestead. The one thing they share? Each has a dark secret they would do almost anything to protect.

When their current careers are yanked away, they are left scrambling to pick up the pieces. A reality television show falls into their paths, offering a life-changing opportunity that tests their resolve and their faith.

These two unlikely partners must battle to survive for thirty days in the untouched wilderness of Rarity Mountain with only a handful of survival items and a director who is out for drama, no matter the cost. With their lives and their carefully guarded skeletons on the line, they will discover how far they are willing to go to win the million-dollar prize for Survival Tennessee. 

Print $14.99
Buy on Amazon

A Brief Interview with the Author

Sara, what do you love about this book?
I love writing stories about broken people who find their way to a new or a stronger faith. Rarity Mountain is no exception. Both Fern and Simon have something in their pasts they are ashamed of and must make peace with. Fern, especially, needs to find God’s forgiveness and love and, through Him, learn to have faith in mankind and in God.

Share a couple of things you learned while researching this story.
The setting for Rarity Mountain is the actual Rarity Mountain exit of I-75 here in East Tennessee, just before you reach the Kentucky border. I knew of its existence and its interesting story about a wealthy man who purchased it, planned a huge development, convinced the state of Tennessee to build an interchange, and then filed for bankruptcy soon after. I learned during more research that the plot is 4,600 acres and was meant to be home to not only luxury homes but a golf course, shopping center, and hotel. None of that happened, though.

Introduce us to the character who made you laugh first.
Fern is a very serious veterinarian who is uncomfortable with her past. She does not trust easily and believes that other humans will inevitably let her down. Her sarcastic, sometimes self-abasing humor made me laugh first. She is clever and intelligent but broken. I loved seeing her story develop into such a beautiful faith journey.

What do you hope readers will tell others when they’ve finished the book?
That the story of Fern’s journey to forgiveness moved them. Maybe even gave them courage to let loose some of their skeletons and move on.

What are you reading now?
I am actually in between books right now, but I am anxiously awaiting a few self-discovery books from Amazon and March’s ACFW book club book.

What’s next?
I am working on the first book in a 3-book (maybe more!) series called The Jade Owl. It is about an East Tennessee archaeologist who is looking for an ancient pirate treasure buried somewhere in the Great Smoky Mountains.

About the Author
Sara is a multi-published, award-winning author and homeschooling mother of five who writes surrounded by the beauty of East Tennessee. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from the University of Tennessee and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is the author of the Love, Hope, and Faith Series, which includes Callum's Compass (2017), Camp Hope (2018), and Rarity Mountain (March 2019).  She also has a story, “Leap of Faith,” in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Step Outside Your Comfort Zone. Sara finds inspiration in her faith, her family, and the beauty of nature. When she isn’t writing, you can find her reading, camping, and spending time outdoors with her family. To learn more about her and her work or to become a part of her email friend’s group, please visit www.saralfoust.com.
How to reach me:

Newsletter sign up: http://eepurl.com/cfqP5H

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Read an EBOOK Week

In Celebrating Read an Ebook week, seven of my books are half price at Smashwords.

My fellow Chicago author Anita Solick Oswald gets a shoutout! for her special story, West Side Girl, which I reviewed here.

West Side Girl by [Solick Oswald, Anita]

Anita grew up in the 3rd story apartment above her family’s Bohemian restaurant on Madison Street in Chicago's west side in the 50's and 60's. The daughter of a fireman and a housewife/frustrated writer, she befriended a ragtag brigade of migrant children. Together, they found both themselves and the world-at-large on their neighborhood’s streets.

West Side Girl chronicles the colorful and oftentimes unpredictably eccentric characters and events of the area and time. Themes include social change, girls empowerment and the benefits of growing up in a diverse neighborhood. Seen through of the eyes of a child coming of age in the 1950's and 1960's, the stories of equality and social justice can be outrageous, insightful, funny, touching, inspiring and reflective.

Buy on Amazon.


View my book Profile.
Purchase a book using this code: TC53J

Today's Featured Book is The Last Bequest.
Judy Winters is pretty sure her environmentally-conscious great-aunt didn't die of natural causes, no matter what the tox screens say. When she discovers she can inherent the family farm if she'll live there for a year, can she give up her teaching job and move to the country? Next door to the obnoxious young, unfortunately handsome, farmer with ties to her aunt? And what about a possible killer on the loose. Join Judy, Hart, Ardyth and know-it-all cat Carranza, for an all-Wisconsin adventure.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Read an EBOOK Week

In Celebrating Read an Ebook week, seven of my books are half price at Smashwords.

View my book Profile.
Purchase a book using this code: TC53J

Today's featured book is Centrifugal Force.
In the turmoil of 2011, an American college administrator and a German socio-economics expert attempt to rectify the past to save their children and preserve the fragile world in crisis.

Rachel Michels made a poor choice which resulted in her biggest blessing, her daughter, Maeve. When the father of that blessing returns decades later, she knows he wants something she’d taken from him. Rachel has lived in near seclusion and mistrust, fearful of losing the one person who’s kept her life from coming unglued.
Professor Gervas Friedemann returns to Wisconsin, seeking a missing ancient artifact, along with help for his oldest daughter who is suffering from a rare genetic blood disorder. With the European Union at stake, blackmail could negatively impact a crucial vote in the German Parliament unless Gervas recovers an irreplaceable relic he left in the United States on a lecture tour a lifetime ago. He knows who took the piece of history he once flaunted—the woman who had stolen his soul. He only hopes she still has the ring.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Read an EBOOK Week

In Celebrating Read an Ebook week, seven of my books are half price at Smashwords.

My fellow author at Chicago Writers Association has a special children's story to share:

$2.99 at Amazon
I think I'll pick up a copy for my grandkids.

View my book Profile.
Purchase a book using this code: TC53J

Today's Featured Book is Parhelion.

Parhelion—prisms dogging the sun. it’s a rainbow hope of reaching the stars for a small group of colonists preparing to preserve life.

Maeve Michels hit earth hard, falling in love with a former Air Force test pilot. No longer in the military, Harry Kane’s mysterious work as a consultant for a space engineering company piques Maeve’s interest. Maeve’s sixth sense says there’s more to Harry than he’s telling her, but with the world about to fall apart, she must decide to trust him with her future. Harry is keeping a secret from Maeve—he has to, or his one chance at being a real hero goes up in flames with the rest of the planet. His assignment: get her to join the program, and him. Hopefully willingly.

With war no longer empty threats and posturing, Maeve and Harry are about to take part in the most important experiment in human history. Bigger secrets threaten not only their survival but their fragile co-existence with the cosmos.

If you could choose, what kind of a world do you want to live in?

Monday, March 4, 2019

Read an EBOOK Week

In Celebrating Read an Ebook week, seven of my books are half price at Smashwords.

My fellow Chicago author Steve Bellinger has written The Chronocar
Simmie Johnson was born the son of a slave. He was also a genius. After earning a PhD in physics from Tuskeee Institute, he wrote a paper outlining a theory for time travel, including plans for a time machine—called a chronocar—which was published in a scientific journal in the early 1900s . Since the technology required to build the chronocar did not yet exist, the paper and its brilliant writer faded into obscurity.

A century later, a young Illinois Tech student, Tony Carpenter, discovers the journal article and decides to build a chronocar so he can travel back to 1919 to meet the black scientist he hopes to emulate.

Unfortunately, time is not on his side.

Dr. Johnson is living in Chicago’s Black Belt with his beautiful daughter—and Tony arrives just in time for the bloodiest race riot in the city’s history. Can Tony use the chronocar to save his new friends, or will his attempt forever alter the future he hopes to return to? *****
View my book Profile on Smashwords.
Purchase a book using this code: TC53J

Today's feature book is Healing Grace: a novel

Grace has a secret. Just like her aunt, and her grandmother before her, she could fix anyone with a touch, at a cost she never questioned—until her husband developed cancer and died. Believing no one would forgive her for not being able to save him, Grace runs from the life she knew, hoping even God wouldn’t find her in a little out-of-the-way town in Michigan. It takes a very sick man and his little boy to help her face her past, accept who she is and battle her way back to redemption. Just when she and Ted begin to hope for the future, he relapses. Grace faces the ultimate choice once again: Trust God to work through her precious gift, or let a terminally ill man die. What if the price is more than she can pay?