Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Sweet novella from Marianne Evans

The Return (Fisher Men of Antioch) by [Evans, Marianne]

The Return
Marianne Evans

Christian contemporary romantic novella
White Rose, a division of Pelican Ventures LLC

c. 2018
$3.99 eBook

Buy on

About the Book
Sometimes the hardest path to walk is the one that leads you home,

After college, Phillip Fisher shook the dust of Antioch, Indiana from his dress shoes and took off for Indianapolis. For the eldest of the three Fisher men, a business career promised stability and a fruitful future...until unemployment and exhausted resources force him back home. He returns to Antioch to find his father's declining health, a family farm in disrepair, and heavy doses of resentment from his brother Aaron. A repentant Phillip pays regular visits to Sundae Afternoon, the sweets and sundry shop run by Mila Thomas. Sundae Afternoon and the Thomas Grocery Market are staples of Antioch, just like the Fisher farm. A less than steady peace exists between the families, but Phillip always intrigued Mila. She admires his attempts to break free; at the same time, his return speaks of a noble, caring man. But what happens once the farm is restored? What happens when Phillip is called back to Indianapolis? Mila's roots are firmly grounded, and Phillip might leave all over again. Is returning home and the discovery of an extraordinary love, enough to bring them together forever?

My Review
Sometimes a person has to leave home in order to appreciate it, and that’s exactly what happens to Phillip Fisher, eldest son of a large farming family in Antioch, Indiana.

In this sweet novella told mostly in Phillip’s point of view and some in the heroine, Mila’s, viewpoint, the author presents a trope on the Prodigal Son. Phillip comes home after being let go from his financial planning job, only to realize that home really is where he left his heart. Finding it again cost him a right to the jaw, some shaky footwork with the local men of influence, and plenty of make peace work with the woman he left behind.

Contentment triumphs fly-by-night opportunities for success, and this short little bite of story will touch your inner love bug.

About the Author

Marianne EvansMarianne Evans is an award-winning author of Christian romance and fiction. Her hope is to spread the faith-affirming message of God's love through the stories He prompts her to create.

Marianne is a lifelong resident of Michigan and an active member of Romance Writers of America, most notably the Greater Detroit Chapter where she served two terms as President.

Connect with Marianne at: www.marianneevans.com

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Apple Grove the Little City with a Big Core

Welcome to Apple Grove, Illinois!
The Little City with a Big Core

We are on the Founders River in western Illinois, approximately 200 miles west of Chicago and south of our state capital, Springfield. Apple Grove is the Hansen County seat of government and a fine family community. Population: 6,457
Main industry: agriculture, proud international home of Apple Delight, makers of fine juices, ciders, apple pie filling, jellies, and other exemplary apple products
Apple Grove welcomes new industry

Join us for Apple Fest, the last full weekend in September.
This website is undergoing continual upgrades. Check back for updated information.

Apple Grove was founded in 1837 rose and grew along Founders River, a stream that erupted from a natural spring about four miles north of town. At one time it had served its purpose by washing with enough force down an incline that it was deemed sufficiently powerful to operate the wheel of a gristmill. John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, visited the area on his missionary seed-planting journey when he traveled all the way to see the Mississippi River, and is believed to have planted the first apple grove that gave the city its name. Apple Delight, an international apple production company, maintains the orchards. At its height, Apple Grove had a population of over 10,000 with two shoemakers, four dress shops and milliners, a cigar factory, tinsmiths, two liveries, medical services, funeral parlors, as many as eight saloons, a very fine school, and ladies’ secretarial academy, besides the mill and orchard. As with many frontier communities, Apple Grove undertook a safety system to provide a shelter for businesses and its citizens in times of natural and man-made disaster by digging a system of tunnels beneath the main avenues of the city. They have since been deemed a danger and closed.
Welcome to Apple Grove, Illinois, the Apple of Illinois’s Eye.

Information, please!

            Mayor – Donald Conklin
            Administrative Assistant – Marion Green
City Council
                        Meets first and third Mondays of the month at City Hall, 6 p.m.
Ward 1 – Cal Stewart, Jeff Hanley
                        Ward 2 – Knute Granger, Tory Gold
                        Ward 3 – Arnie Cappler, Needa Jones
                        Ward 4 – Rupert Murphy, Gretchen Peterson
Clerk – Marion Green
Treasurer – Jeff Hanley

Legal – Call the switchboard for assistance
Offices of:
City Attorney
            City Ordinances - see below
            Voting Information
 Municipal Services
Building and Grounds – Carey Robbins, director
Utilities, Water and Waste
Parks and Recreation
City Park
Apple Adventure Park
Founders River Walkway
Chapman Memorial Public Library
Planning and Zoning - Georgine Crosby, city engineer
Safety Commission
Fire – Captain Lorne Reed
111 Apple St.
Emergency: 9-1-1

The Apple Grove Fire Department is responsible for providing an efficient and effective delivery of fire, medical, rescue, and life safety emergency services within city limits. The Fire Department also strives to improve the quality of life for residents by providing public education, annual flushing and flow testing of the cities hydrant system, pre-fire inspections and conduction of fire drills.

The primary goals of the Fire Department are to:
Reduce and prevent the loss of life and property damage
Improve the outcome of patients
Quickly rescue trapped victims
Protect the environment from destruction

Police – Chief Gene Hackman, Cindy Evans – dispatch, Coroner – Ella Moon
510 Main St. 
Emergency: 9-1-1

Our mission is to serve and protect all residents and visitors. The best way to combat crime is to prevent it, Further, this department believes that effective crime prevention and law enforcement is based on mutual trust and respect between the members of this department and those we serve and protect. Our main goal is to contribute to the quality of life.                                            
Post Office

The Apple Grove Chamber of Commerce is located at 212 Main Street. Quarterly meetings are held the last week of March, June, September, and December. A county guide to member businesses can be obtained at the office and at our very fine member establishments.

Apple Delight – Fine Apple Products, seasonal hiring, contact Central Office
Auto Dealerships
Auto Repair  
Bank – State’s Bank, Apple Grove Branch  
Books - Mea Cuppa gourmet coffee, candies, books and gifts
           Coffee - Mea Cuppa gourmet coffee, candies, books and gifts        
Ice Cream Shoppe
Lo Mah Chinese American Cuisine
Pizza Parlor
Tiny’s Buffet
Events – Ethereal Events
Exercise – Fit’r U
Drug Store – Apple Grove Pharmacy
Feli-Mix Pet Food Designers           
The Flower Shop
Gas Station – Apple Grove Service, free air
Apple Delight
Mea Cuppa Gourmet coffee, candies, books and gifts
The Flower Shop
Yours, Truly
Wagner's Rx
Grocers – Apple Mart
Hair Cutting and Styling
Barber Shop (next to Mea Cuppa Gourmet coffee, candies, books and
Happy Hearts Bio-engineering – hiring, contact Personnel Dept.
Wyler’s Fine Jewelry and Repair; also buying old jewelry
Medical services
Apple Grove Medical Clinic
Solid Core Physical Therapists
DeLight Vision
General Dental Services
Wagner’s Rx
News – Apple Grove Gazette, Yolanda and Jim Toynsbee
Odds and Ends Antiques
The Print Shop
           Radio - WWAG
Technology – McTeague’s Tech Services, personal computers and service, website design and maintenance, business and marketing design
            Veterinary services
Apple Grove Veterinary Services, Adelle Bailey, DMV

Citizen Information
            Calendar of Events
Pets on Parade, Fourth of July
Apple Fest, Labor Day weekend
Community Read, first week of February

Community Opportunities
Chapman Memorial Library
Historical Society & Museum
Good Seeds Volunteers

Apple Grove Public Elementary and Middle School
Memorial High School – home of the Trailblazers!
Newspaper, the Apple Grove Gazette
Radio – WWAG
Computer services – McTeague Technical Services
Medical Services – hospital, dental and vision clinical services, veterinarian
Physical Fitness -- Fitr'U
Assisted Living – Trails End 
           Social Services – Good Seeds Volunteers
New Horizons Church
Apple Grove Worship Center
St. John Catholic        
Guest Information
Attractions & Events – historical society and museum, underground tunnels tours by appointment; the Collins House and Museum is open Memorial Day to Labor Day, Thurs – Sun, 1-4 PM or by appointment; Apple Fest is held the first weekend of October, sponsored by Apple Delight. Pets on Parade is our annual Fourth of July event.
Banking – State’s Bank, Apple Grove Branch         
Dining –Ice Cream Shoppe
Lo Mah Chinese American Cuisine
Pizza Parlor
Tiny’s Buffet
            Lodging – Prairie Conference Center and Hotel, Guido’s Pizza Parlor and Inn
            Gifts – Apple Delight, Wagner’s Rx, Mea Cuppa, the Flower Shop, Yours, Truly
            Maps available at the visitor’s desk in City Hall, Prairie Conference Center
            Medical & Veterinary Services

 all photos from Pixabay or Morguefile and are free for use


Effective, April 1, 2000
Published By Order of the City Council

of the
Donald Conklin
Cal Stewart, chair of Utilities Commission
Jeff Hanley, chair of Parks & Recreation
Knute Granger, chair of Library Board
Arnie Cappler, chair of Safety Commission
Needa Jones, chair of Building
Rupert Murphy, president
Tory Gold
Gretchen Peterson

City Clerk

City Attorney

This Code is a codification of the ordinances of the City of Apple Grove of a general and permanent nature. As expressed in the Adopting Ordinance, the Code supersedes all such ordinances not included therein or recognized as continuing in force by reference thereto.
The chapters of the Code are arranged in alphabetical order and the sections within each chapter are catchlined to facilitate usage. Footnotes which tie related sections of the Code together and which refer to relevant provisions of the state law have been included. The source of each section is indicated by the history note appearing in parentheses at the end thereof. The absence of such a note indicates that the section is new and was adopted for the first time with the adoption of the Code.

Numbering System
The numbering system used in this Code is the same system used in many state and municipal codes. Each section number consists of two component parts separated by a dash, the figure before the dash representing the chapter number and the figure after the dash indicating the position of the section within the chapter. Thus, the first section of Chapter 1 is numbered 1-1 and the tenth section of Chapter 2 is 2-10. Under this system each section is identified with its chapter and, at the same time, new sections or even whole chapters can be inserted in their proper places, simply by using the decimal system for amendments.

The index has been prepared with the greatest of care. Each particular item has been placed under several headings, some of the headings being couched in lay phraseology, others in legal terminology, and still others in language generally used by municipal officials and employees. There are numerous cross references within the index itself which stand as guideposts to direct the user to the particular item in which he is interested. The successful maintenance of this Code up-to-date, at all times will depend largely upon the holder of the volume. As revised sheets are received it will then become the responsibility of the holder to have the amendments inserted according to the attached instructions. It is strongly recommended by the publishers that all such amendments be inserted immediately upon receipt to avoid misplacing them and, in addition, that all deleted pages be saved and filed for historical reference purposes.

Be It Ordained by the City Council of the City of Apple Grove, Illinois:

Section 1.  That this ordinance is hereby adopted and enacted as the “Apple Grove City Code,” and shall be treated and considered as a new and original comprehensive ordinance which shall supersede all other general and permanent ordinances passed by the City Council.
Section 2.  That all provisions of such Code shall be in full force and effect.
Section 3.  That the repeal provided for in Section 2 hereof shall not affect the following:
Any offense or act committed or done or any penalty or forfeiture incurred or any contract or right established or accruing before the effective date of such Code;
(2) Any ordinance or resolution promising or guaranteeing the payment of money for the City, or authorizing the issuance of any bonds of the City or any evidence of the City's indebtedness, or any contract or obligations assumed by the City;
(3) Any administrative ordinances or resolutions of the City Council not in conflict or inconsistent with the provisions of such Code;
(4) Any right or franchise granted by any ordinances of the City;
(5) Any ordinance dedicating, naming, establishing, locating, relocating, opening, paving, widening, vacating, etc., any street or public way in the City;
(6) Any appropriation ordinances;
(7) Any ordinance levying or imposing taxes;
(8) Any ordinance establishing or prescribing grades in the City;
(9) Any ordinance providing for local improvements and making assessments therefor;
(10) Any ordinance dedicating or accepting any plat or subdivision in the City;
(11) Any ordinance extending or contracting the boundaries of the City;
(12) Any ordinance prescribing the number, classification or compensation of any city officers or employees, not inconsistent herewith;
(13) Any ordinance regulating or prohibiting traffic or parking on any particular streets or in any particular area, or specifying or designating off-street parking lots;
(14) Any or instance creating specific funds;
(15) Any ordinance relating to traffic or obstructions around road projects;
(16) Any subdivision or zoning ordinances or amendment or variance thereto;
(17) Any ordinance establishing wards or dealing with the size of the City Council.

Such repeal shall not be construed to revive any ordinance or part thereof that has been repealed by a subsequent ordinance which is repealed by this ordinance.

Section 4.  That any and all additions or amendments to such Code, when passed in such form as to indicate the intention of the City Council to make the same a part thereof, shall be deemed to be incorporated in such Code so that reference to the “Apple Grove City Code,” shall be understood and intended to include such additions and amendments.
Section 5.  That a copy of such Code shall be kept on file in the office of the City Clerk, preserved in looseleaf form. It shall be the express duty of the City Clerk or someone authorized to insert in their designated places all amendments or ordinances which indicate the intention of the City Council to make the same a part of such Code when the same have been printed or reprinted in page form, and to extract from such Code all provisions which may from time to time be repealed by the City Council. This copy of such Code shall be considered the official Apple Grove City Code.
Section 6.  That in case of the amendment of any section of such Code for which a penalty is not provided, the general penalty as provided in Section 1-9 of such Code shall apply to the section as amended.
Section 7.  That it shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation in the City to change or amend by additions or deletions, any section or portion of such Code, or to insert or delete pages or portions thereof, or to alter or tamper with such Code in any manner whatsoever which will cause the law of the City of Apple Grove to be misrepresented thereby.
Section 8.  That whenever in said Code or in any ordinance of the City, any act or omission is prohibited or is made or declared to be unlawful or a misdemeanor, or whenever in said Code or ordinance the doing of any act or the commission of any omission is declared to be unlawful or a misdemeanor and no specific penalty is provided therefor, and state law does not provide otherwise, the violation of any such provision of such Code or any ordinance shall be a misdemeanor punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to six (6) months or a fine of up to five hundred dollars ($500.00), or both. Unless specifically provided otherwise, or the content thereof so dictates, each day any violation of any provision of said Code or any ordinance shall continue shall constitute a separate offense.
Section 9.  That all ordinances or parts of ordinances in conflict herewith are, to the extent of such conflict, hereby repealed.
Section 10.  That this ordinance shall be in full force and effect from and after its passage, approval and publication in book or pamphlet form according to law.

Signed Donald Conklin

  City Clerk 

Friday, January 25, 2019

January 25 is Special


It's a special Day--January 25

Let's see - it's my grandson Micah's FIFTH Birthday - wow, great cause for celebration. He shares the date with Robert Burns and Virginia Woolf.

The Winter Olympics began in 1924 - cool. Pun intended.
Batman debuted on TV in 1966. Sorry, poor Robin.

It's Opposite Day...Yeah.

And...It's HAPPY RELEASE DAY for my latest mystery series, Fancy Cat, 

Released through Pelican Ventures LLC
Ebook - $5.99
Print - releasing February 1 in softcover and May 8 in Large Print, library binding

Amazon https://amzn.to/2APwhDp
BN https://bit.ly/2QxZKql
Publisher https://bit.ly/2FjuQRj
Kobo https://bit.ly/2Rj8WUF

After being left at the altar, Ivy Amanda McTeague Preston uproots herself and her cat, an Egyptian Mau named Memnet, from her boring and lonely life to start over at the urging of Mayor Conklin, a fellow pedigreed Mau owner.

Ready to move in a fresh direction, Adam Thompson, accepts the mayor’s invitation and uproots himself and his beloved Mau, Isis, to open a branch of his trendy bookstore and coffee shop in the small town.

When Ivy takes a mysterious message while the mayor is away on business, only her criminology professor mom and Adam believe there’s something rotten in Apple Grove. Then Ivy discovers the community grant money that Adam was allotted to start the store is mysteriously being siphoned off, a dead body surfaces, and the victim’s missing Mau becomes the primary suspect. . .just another day in Ivy’s far-from-boring new life.

In love with Apple Grove and with Adam, Ivy hopes to carry on their romance while saving the town from further mayhem.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Deadly Decision by Regina Smeltzer

Deadly Decision

Deadly Decision
Regina Smeltzer
Harbourlight Books, a division of Pelican Ventures LLC
c. 2014
Christian Supernatural
Contemporary Ghost stories
Paranormal Romance

$4.99 eBook
$16.99 Print

Buy on

About the Book
Bill Iver didn't expect anything more than hard work when he offered to help his daughter and son-in-law restore their rented historic South Carolina home, but then he sees two boys in the attic--and his hand passes through one of them. Bill has always believed that being absent from the body meant being present with the Lord, but if that is true, what did he see? And why does the boy dressed in 19th century clothing look familiar while the second boy, dressed in jeans and sweatshirt, look like the missing grandson of the house's owner? What is the connection between the two boys--and Bill? Hesitant to share his experience with his pastor, but consumed with the need to understand, Bill seeks a worldly explanation which leads him down a trail of decisions that are deadly to body and soul. Through the mire, he must undo the consequences of his choices, discover what his visions mean, and uncover an age-old mystery that will bring closure and reconciliation.

My Review
I confess I like scary stories, though the occult and demonology, not so much. While Smeltzer’s story contains elements of the above, those elements did not overwhelm the story. The driving force was supernatural. There is a difference. I also like being surprised, and while Smeltzer had me wondering which side of truth I might end up on, I enjoyed turning pages to follow the adventure.

I also confess Bill, the narrator and main character of this adventure, was not my favorite person. However, the author made him so real that I forgave him his foibles, even if I don’t want him for a close friend. It takes skill to weave a backstory into the present in a way that doesn’t feel like a report, and this Smeltzer did with aplomb. There is a reason for every character’s need to accept the challenge of a quest, and a familial, generational dream was an excellent prompt. On the other hand, using obvious secrets between characters to drive tension was uncomfortable. Other readers may certainly feel different and get a kick out of watching the interplay among family and friends, especially as Bill blunders along, trying to figure out how to be a heroic superdad, yet allow his heart to open.

This tale of misconceptions, age-old family history and a spooky house was fun. Told in first person through the main character’s eyes, readers who enjoy highly inspirational reading that explores some difficult truths behind Satan being alive and well on planet Earth will appreciate a good shiver from Deadly Decision.

Image result for regina smeltzerAbout the Author
Regina Smeltzer writes Christian fiction that reflects God's love for us, his creations. A member of the SCWW and ACFW, she has won the Writer's Digest short story award and was named a semi-finalist in the Genesis Competition. She has served as a public health nurse and college professor for more40 years. She and her husband have four children, who have given her five grandchildren. www.ReginaSmeltzer.com

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Closing Circles with CC Fuller

It is my honor and DELIGHT to introduce debut author Carolyn Cody-Fuller. Dr. Fuller dreamed of writing a novel and worked hard to make it come true.

Closing Circles
Carolyn Cody-Fuller

c. 12-8-2018
Hardcover or E-book format

Buy the book on

About the Book
Years ago, life separated the sisters, Lavender, Hyacinth, and Oleander Sipp. Now, it seems that life has conspired to bring them back to the place where each of their stories began, their family farm in rural Georgia. After experiencing more than a few setbacks, Lavender, the youngest of the sisters has come home to do nothing . . . and that's just fine with her. She's soon joined by the oldest sister, Hyacinth, and all is right with the world. Just when Lavender and Hyacinth begin to settle into their peaceful routine, middle sister Oleander blows in with all the fury and bluster of a twister ready to lay claim on her part of the family land. Oleander brings with her old grudges, mainly against Lavender, and a boatload of big ideas as to what they should do with the farm.

As the Sipp sisters fight over the future of their family legacy, another battle from a distant relative is brewing and it may prove to be their biggest challenge yet.

My Review
I love family drama. I love being able to virtually plant myself in another part of the US to experience a different reality for a while. I love watching a story cycle around itself without absolute resolution, but also without cutting me off in the middle of a plan.

Closing Circles is anything but routine. Three sisters instinctively know that, despite rivalry between two younger siblings, home is their haven. The choices they made had both great joy and great despair, and when the despair side overwhelmed them, they came home, one by one. When middle sister, high-energy Oleander, decided she had spent enough time licking her wounds, she kicked an idea to revitalize the home farm into a relevant project. Lavender, the youngest sister who narrates the tale, has her own ideas. Together they soon learn their greatest challenge lies not in their own rivalry or current arguments, but in family. When the weave that holds their family together begins to unravel, they must choose whether to fight each other in the present or fight for the future.

Loaded with engaging characters in a setting the reader will want to call home, Closing Circles will stay with you, calling for you to examine your own choices and encourage you to rise above anything petty consuming your life.

While Closing Circles ends with the expectation of another adventure, I’m not left out of breath. I’m left wanting more, but in a good place while I’m waiting. I watched this novel come alive under the author’s dedicated fingertips. I am truly honored to share this wonderful story of family weathering life’s calamities and coming out stronger.

About the Author
Carolyn Cody-Fuller is a retired children’s librarian who enjoys writing, reading, and volunteering at her church, St. Philip’s Episcopal. Having spent her entire working career advocating for literacy and power of a good book, Cody is excited to publish her first novel, which is a reflection of her life growing up on a farm in small town in Georgia. She’s a member of the South Carolina Writers Association and has attended Novel-in-Progress Bookcamp for several years. In addition to writing, Cody believes in the power of community, and has served on numerous committees and advocacy boards for children and families.

Friday, January 11, 2019

New YA fantasy from R Chris Reeder

The Changeling's Daughter

The Changeling’s Daughter
R. Chris Reeder
Young Adult Fantasy
Coming of Age/Quest
December 13, 2018

Black Rose Writing
Paperback $20.95
Buy on Amazon 

About the book
Fourteen-year-old Brynn McAwber discovers a terrible truth about herself and her family and must undergo a perilous quest to another world, to save a friend and redeem her soul.

Unusual things have been happening to Brynn McAwber. A strange little man keeps showing up at her door. She's being watched by a mysterious woman with a sword strapped to her back. And her body keeps...disappearing.

When Brynn discovers the terrible truth about herself and her family, she embarks on a perilous quest, which takes her far from Indiana, far from the world she knows, into the Land of Annwfyn, home of brownies and bwbachods, xanas and zephyrs, goblins and gods.

This is the story of a girl who finds out she's supposed to be the villain, but decides to be the hero anyway.

My review
A most unusual and amazing anti-hero questing fantasy not just for young people has arrived.

Up front caution: although I could watch this story unfolding in epic technicolor and would recommend it to teens with an advanced reading level, I caution parents who care that a fair amount of profanity when a couple of shock value uses would have been enough, some gore, and a generous vocabulary boost this story into a tween/early teen caution level. Some parents may want to check it out first.

For the rest of us, Reeder’s maiden fantasy is a delight. I admit I intended to read enough for a good review, but didn’t look up except for touchdowns during the Packers-Bears football game until I was finished. Using an anti-hero, in this case a typically-misunderstood creature of folklore hiding in plain sight, as a champion certainly isn’t new, but the author’s ability to recombine fantasy elements into a true hero’s journey makes for a fresh, entertaining read.

Brynn’s family secret stems not simply from their traditionally accepted roles but also how they are perceived by others. When Brynn’s best friend Makayla suddenly turns against her, Brynn’s loyalty and character are tested in ways that help her understand and grow into the kind of person she’s meant to become. Makayla’s defection is not the only weird thing happening to Brynn these days. When faced with disaster, Brynn’s options are to do the right thing by her friend no matter the odds, or be the expected generic typecast of her kind. Knowing Makayla would never willingly abandon her gives Brynn the strength to fight not just for physical rescue, but for the decision to live a meaningful, positive family lifestyle.

Told through the eyes of Brynn, the fourteen-year-old main character, The Changeling’s Daughter is a lovely adventure for readers who enjoy a good old-fashioned questing tale with surprising heroes unafraid to challenge even themselves.

About the author
R. Chris Reeder grew up in the Pacific Northwest, attended college in Walla Walla, Washington, and has lived and worked across the country and around the world. 

He has had careers as a Shakespearean actor, an international courier, and a singing activist, but is now perfectly content in his current vocation of stay-at-home father. 

He currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin, with his wife, two children, and a cat named Monster Jack.


Friday, January 4, 2019

Helene Louiesa Mynhardt dissects apartheid in her memoirs

Memoirs Of A Play-White: The Autobiography  Other Writings   From Destitute to Plenitude: Breaking Through Barriers of Poverty

Memoirs of  Play-White
Helene Louiesa Mynhardt

Reach Publisher's Services, South Africa

Paperback $12.99
Kindle $2.99
Buy on Amazon
Buy $7.99 on Barnes and Noble

About the Story:
Louiesa, an impoverished child, was raised by her unemployed single mother. She was employed part time as a student, earning a lucrative salary. The reason was unclear to her until she was confronted by a furious co-worker. The author explains how siblings from the exact same parents were classified differently and gives details about how children with a darker complexion were abandoned by fair-skinned parents. The author further explains in great detail, deep rooted segregation not previously exposed to the world during apartheid: how racial classification destroyed family unity and friendships. Forceful resettlement according to race destroyed family life and friendships.

Apartheid was abolished for one day during 1985 and all races lived in harmony next to each other. For once in the history of apartheid blacks were given a privilege denied to whites. South Africa sent two contestants to the Miss World pageant representing whites and non-whites respectively. The outcome of the results stunned the National Party and the entire world. Blacks created their own entertainment with much success, attracting international stardom and subsequently departing from S.A. due to racial biases and political interference with irrational censorships. Journey with the author while experiencing her personal encounters: death penalty, gang violence, teenage pregnancies, alcoholism and starvation. She endured extreme weather conditions without proper clothing.

This is truly an inspirational story of hope and transformation. Readers are invited to journey through the remarkable life of the author who dreamt of freedom from poverty barriers, worked hard towards it with dogged determination and succeeded. During the first democratic elections the ANC party did not win an outright majority due to the coloured votes. The author takes the reader on a journey into the lives of the coloured race during apartheid, sparing no detail.

My Review
Mynhardt’s autobiographical memoir begins with the story of her grandmother and mother, women of Xhosa heritage who’d we’d call today victims of servitude in their small villages. To those of previous generations, life was hand-to-mouth, making and raising babies with little male support.

By the time Mynhardt’s mother Doris gave birth to her, Doris had been widowed and shunned by Muslim in-laws. Her successful food vendor shops had been taken and her first children eventually removed. Doris raised her daughter Elena in poverty. Elena was officially named Helene by a zealous administrator who registered the birth in order to potentially provide better opportunities with an Afrikaans-sounding name.

When it came time to Helene to decide how to take control of her own future, she chose to continue her education even if she didn’t like it all that much and it was expensive, and became a fair typist. Her self-confidence led her to step into the world of finances in the mid-seventies, applying for a job at a bank. She worked her way through several departments and promotions, too often fighting for her personal rights as well as rampant fraudulent practices.

Told in a jarring, journalistic and forthright manner, readers are taken on a journey of the dark underworld of abuse, apartheid, and social casting in South Africa, from the 1950s through the first democratically elected black president in 1994.

From Destitude to Plentitude 

Released June 2018
Reach, South Africa
$7.99 Nook 

Buy on Amazon 
$2.99 Kindle
$12.99 Print

About the Book:
In this book, author writes about her triumphant entrepreneurial victory from an impoverished background. As a self-made entrepreneur, she identified and successfully pursued a business opportunity with her employer who granted her a rare chance to be placed on their panel as an external vendor (debt collector) before BEE became law. Although Louiesa treated her business partners as equal she did not receive the same reciprocation from them. Find out how laws are altered and manipulated to benefit the rich at the expense of the poor. The possible reason why South Africa is unable to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor is scrutinized. Read about how the change in government policy on dividend taxation saved the day. 

Journey with the author, as she faced numerous business challenges on her own, ranging from fraud to sexual harassment, cultural barriers, and external auditors investigating fraudulent payments. Follow her story of how she witnessed firsthand racism towards fellow panel members. Without legal qualifications or any help, she became the legal representative in court cases representing their business. Her carefully planned strategies resulted in arrests and imprisonment. Numerous other interesting stories are included to analyse and explain the overall life challenges and constraints that ordinary, poor and struggling South Africans face. 

The reason why the South African white race could not be “pure” is also explored with ample examples. Find out how fair-skinned parents abandoned darker-skinned children and how a coloured child was born to white parents. South African legislation was intended to serve everybody. However, manipulation and alteration from its original meaning and intention resulted in benefiting the rich at the expense of the poor. Find out possible reasons why the author alleges poor people in South Africa became poorer due to the debt trap they found themselves in. The government is constantly changing the laws but finding it difficult to keep up with ongoing manipulation. The author identifies exploitation of the poor and the vulnerable by big businesses. 

This is truly a remarkable journey in the life of Louiesa who did not allow poverty barriers to curb her success. Her dogged determination made it possible for her to succeed despite many obstacles that she sees as prohibitive poverty barriers to many ordinary South Africans. She believes that South Africa is the world’s most unequal society and it is difficult to manage constant manipulation. The author further shares interesting information about how one thousand South Africans were reclassified under what is today known as the chameleon dance. 

My review:
Mynhardt's frank and critical autobiography challenges conceptions and misconceptions of world trade. Whatever you thought you understood about apartheid and progress, it's worse. Here's one example of the regulatory practices Louiesa fights: Some of South Africa’s laws were ambiguous and left open to interpretation. There were a few ambiguous rules that were not illegal but when raised as a defence, it would be illegal for someone to pursue that matter. One of the examples of these laws was the “in duplum rule” mentioned previously, which stated that no one was allowed to pay more than double the original loan amount, inclusive of interest and legal fees. Rich, educated debtors with legal representatives knew about this rule and could raise a defence that they were not willing to pay more than what the “in duplum rule” stipulated. And as soon as someone mentioned this rule, the vendors were not allowed to pursue the matter and the file had to be withdrawn and closed. This rule was a defence that was only applicable when mentioned. Since it was not a law but merely a defence, it was not illegal to disregard this rule - unless raised as a defence. However, big businesses had outdated computer systems that did not take this rule into account, which meant their systems continued to charge interest. Sometimes a person would pay 10 times the amount he was legally supposed to. Although EDS computer systems promised to introduce sophisticated to one of the South African banks, their system did not work in the South African market because it was unable to stop the interest when reaching the “in duplum” limit (pp 98-99).

The book is memoir, essay, deconstruction of a devastating socio-economic practice, yet a triumph to persistence. Mynhardt's story of dealing with today's business culture is teeth-rattling, annoying, absurd at times, and sometimes heart-wrenching, but provides an air of triumph.

Begin your journey with Mynhardt's Memoirs of  Play-White. You'll be able to answer a resounding yes the question Louiesa was asked, “Do you honestly think that you have lived such a fantastic life that readers would be interested in reading about it?”

About the Author

Louiesa Mynhardt is a self-made entrepreneur, founding member and Managing Director of Sterling Debt Recoveries that is a leading collection agency, founded in 1998. She has a 40% shareholding in this business. Sterling Debt Recoveries provides efficient, large scale services on a commission basis to large credit-granting institutions. She is a novice author who was born in Kliptown, Johannesburg in the late 1950s and is married to Harold. They have two daughters studying abroad.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Southern romantic charm with Victoria Pitts Caine

by Victoria Pitts Caine

Released October, 2018
full length romance 
Ebook $2,99
Print $12.99

Buy on Amazon
About the Book
Running from a life of poverty, 16 year old Cotton Ramsey escapes the Savannah River bottomland to New York. Twenty years later, she has changed her name and runs a large pharmaceutical company, which belonged to the family of her late husband. When Beau Simpson, her first love, arrives to deliver the news of her daddy’s untimely death, the life she struggled to leave behind calls her home.

My review
A little different take on the rags to riches story, Caine has created a fanciful tale with all the thrills of New York glamour. The story begins with a glimpse of the home life of poor share croppers in the rural south. Cotton is one daughter in a very large, struggling family growing, you guessed it, cotton. By the time she steals her opportunity to make a better life for herself, the story switches to decades later and another glimpse of the life she has won.

Alone, widowed, and running a company which we see very little of on her own, we learn that Cotton has cut ties so completely with her southern family that she doesn’t know of their own turnabout story. In fact, her beloved daddy had done well for the family after Cotton left. When she is informed of his mysterious death by none other than a lost love who also escaped into a glitzy world of unseemly wealth, she is ready to return to leave cold New York for her warm southern roots, no matter how welcome or unwelcome her long-lost siblings make her feel. But Cotton is still so uncertain of herself that she’s willing to let a soaring leap of willful misunderstanding drag her into despair. Along the way, Cotton learns how to appreciate the people around her and see life with a fresh outlook.

Told through two points of view, the reader sees both sides of the story through Cotton, and her love interest, Beau. Readers who love Jackie Collins and other writers of rich and famous romantic heroes and heroines will enjoy this story of learning what really matters.

About the Author
Victoria Pitts Caine resides in Fresno, California. Her first passion is her family, followed closely by writing and exotic gem collecting. Victoria is also an award winning author who has published both fiction and nonfiction articles in Seekers, Short Stuff, HI Families, The Front Porch and The Manzanita Literary Journal. She has also received an honorable mention at the William Saroyan Writer's Conference, special recommendation in the Writer's Journal poetry contest and second place in the Writer's Journal 2004 romance contest.