Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Why Reading is Crucial for Writers

Eight Ways Being a Reader is Crucial for Writers

This article originally appeared on Robin Mason's blog on January 24, 2019.

I have been invited to speak to high school and middle school language classes. When we get to the question and answer part of what is the most important thing someone can do to prepare to be a writer, I tell them, “be a reader.” Those who cannot understand are doomed to be neither.

Girls, Reading, Read, Cute, Book, Education, HappyIt’s not too much to presume that people who want to play with words do so because they love them. It may be a love/hate relationship, but it must passionate, as passion undergirds story. If you have little experience with story, whether it’s someone else’s or your own, you are in no position to offer a tale to anyone else. As you can read between the lines above, being story—that is, living widely enough to be able to look back and appreciate the scenes that make up life—is the second part of an equation for authorship that has an endless answer like the square root of pi. For now we’ll focus on the first aspect—Why Read?
A person who wants to write literature but will not read it can sound like a human explaining to a guppy what it’s like to sit in a recliner and watch television. Anyone can learn the mechanics of language. People can learn to repeat a joke or assemble facts for a report, but a storyteller is an inventor. Inventors don’t generally birth a concept into an immediate, fully-functional working contraption without some apprenticeship, doodling, tweaking, and trial and error. A person with an idea who refuses to go through the work of developing that notion into a presentable product usually gives up, hires someone else, or fails.
Like inventors, authors are constantly learning. We learn from others, and from trial and error. Here are eight ways being a gluttonous reader helps writers.

Book, Read, Old, Literature, Pages, Books, Bookshelf

1, Osmosis. Yes, the sponge effect. By soaking up good stuff, it will seep into your membranes. You may not know initially why a sentence sounds good, or a piece of dialog has a great back-and-forth that just works, but  it will stay with you and you’ll have a better chance of spitting it back out in a sensible way. However, you know what happens when you let your sponge sit in unpleasant gunk. Rinse and repeat. Do this by

2, Reading carefully. Read from different large publishers and indies, as well as some self-published material. If you don’t have a library card, get one. Even rural communities have access to public libraries. Become such a good reader that you’ll be able to figure out if the publisher missed an error. Large publishers have several layers of editing and proofreading before they give a product to the public. Learn what sort of material is popular, and are good sellers, talked about, and why. You should also

3. Read widely, especially outside your genre. Include nonfiction, especially poetry, and fiction. Nonfiction takes a practical approach to a topic. There are often reference and notes about research. Fiction writers can find new avenues of research, and information that will make fiction that much closer to believability. Nonfiction authors can learn to put their material together in ways that create interest and intrigue. Poetry is the ultimate distillation of language to create story. If you don’t know poets, find some! Writers will have to create marketing material for their own work, which often includes back cover copy, a synopsis, a hook sentence, and a biography. This material should be attention-grabbing and poets know how to draw the essence from experience with a perfect word.

Books, Study, Literature, Learn, Stack, Bible, Paper4. Copy. Not plagiarize. Go ahead and keep a notebook of phrases that move you from the books you read. Why did that word or scene or sentence evoke emotion? How can you create that mood in your story? Begin to appreciate the doodling, the tweaking, the sweat that went into developing that moment. Know that quite likely, that phrase or sentence was the result of several minds mulling over the words. The author may have originated it, or perhaps the urging came from an agent or developmental editor. A copy editor may have requested a tweak. A publisher may have asked for an addition or deletion. Careful, studious readers can understand that writers will have to develop a working relationship with their editors and their readers. Careful readers will eventually come to appreciate the

5. Rules of language. Grammar. The mere presence of the word can be as frightening as the word algebra is to those of us who think it’s ridiculous there can be an endless answer to the square root of pi. Good readers should pick up some natural grammatical dynamics, general punctuation, and the understanding that syntax will guide your vocabulary choices. As an editor, however, I say this concept is wishful thinking more than it should be. Bibliophiles will need to spend some time undoing whatever it is that made you think it was okay to put a period outside of a quotation mark, or dangle prepositions, or misplace modifiers. Readers who learn grammar will unfortunately be utterly ruined for reading after some of the mystery of untangling language is revealed.

But, wait! Now writers who are qualified to know when it’s okay to break the rules will be inducted into the secret society of those who can break them well. You may not have even noticed the number of times I begin a sentence or a paragraph with a conjunction.  What you won’t know is how many adverbs and modifiers I removed or the tenses or plurals I adjusted in my self-edit, and that’s as it should be. Don’t be one of those authors who argue with their editor about how so-and-so author broke this-and-such rule. Don’t bother to hire an editor if you know everything. If you’re smart enough to know that you don’t know everything, you’ll be admitted to the inner circle of knowing when it’s okay for YOU to break the rules. Because writers who read know general rules, they see patterns. A single paisley flower in a plaid weave sticks out. So does your attempt to change points of view or use the wrong tense. These errors make writers look bad. It can affect your
Teachers, Meeting, Books, Reading, Group, Discussion6. Natural marketing and networking. If you ask for endorsements or reviews from authors you respect, but are turned down or get a bad review, readers are not inclined to spend money on a product they don’t think they will enjoy. They won’t tell others to buy the book, or worse, will tell others how bad it is. Word of mouth will always be the best marketing for any product or service. Authors who read should talk about what we’re reading and something about why we like it or think others will like it. We recommend books to book clubs, our friends, and our circles of influence. Those of us who teach use your work as material in our talks and workshops.

   7. Reading also shows us how to do Market Analysis for our own work. Reading other books like ours and comparing our work helps define our readership. And finally, reading authors

8. Help other authors with a REVIEW! Review books on as many social and publisher’s sites as you can. Use your name and website link. Reviewing is a great service networking with other authors and their readers.

Donut, Donuts, Dessert, Cake, Chocolate, Sweetness
Ultimately, our goal as Authors should be that we are Read. If all you want is to be published, that’s a pretty small niche. Anyone can get published these days. Any writer can write. An author shares a gift that multiplies and enlarges a reader’s spirit.

*Photos within the post are licensed by Creative Commons and free to reprint for personal and commercial use without attribution. They are courtesy of Pixabay.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Write Now tour with My Last Baggage Call by Glenn W Powell

Write Now Literary Book Tours is pleased to be organizing a book blast tour for My Last Baggage Call Aboard Air Force One by Glenn W. Powell. This tour will run Feb 22, 2019. Click here to book your own tour. 

Genre of Book: Memoir, Motivational, Military Life and History
ISBN-10: 1986878406
ISBN-13: 978-1986878401
           Meet Glenn 
Sergeant First Class Glenn W. Powell (Retired) is a native of Toledo, Ohio. He enlisted into the United States Army in 1982 and retired in 2002. During his military career, he served as a heavy vehicle driver, a squad leader, and non-commissioned officer.

In September 1991, SFC Powell joined the George HW Bush White House as a chauffeur, and in 1992, was promoted to transportation coordinator for the white house Press Corps, serving in the Clinton Administration.

In December 1995, he assumed the duties of transportation supervisor for Air Force One.

In January 2001, during his service under President George W. Bush, SFC Powell was transferred to the White House Military Office, Customer Support and Organizational Development where he served as deputy director.

SFC Powell retired with distinction from the Military in 2002. He received numerous awards and decorations throughout his service, including the Legion of Merit Metal, Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, and the United States Army Achievement Medal with four oak leaf clusters. He received U.S. Service Ribbons for both domestic and overseas service.

Glenn and Ronda Holloway Powell have been married for 25 years, and have three sons, Darius, Warren, and Glenn, II. They reside in Virginia. For more information, or to contact Glenn Powell regarding availability for speaking opportunities, please email him at glennwpowell@aol.com.

              About The Book
Sergeant Glenn W. Powell’s MY LAST BAGGAGE CALL is the story of a most unlikely young man who leaves his working-class environment of Toledo, Ohio, to become a soldier. Seeking excitement and a way to “make something of himself,” Glenn Powell’s journey exceeds his wildest dreams—a journey that began in basic training in Fort Hood, Texas ends at 1600 Pennsylvania avenue—the most important address in the world. MY LAST BAGGAGE CALL is about so much more than Glenn Powell’s military journey, but about poignant memories of family, friendships, sacrifices, and love—central to his story is Ronda Holloway, the beautiful young woman he falls in love with in Manheim, Germany, and, who joins him on his life journey as wife, soulmate and mother to their two sons. MY LAST BAGGAGE CALL offers readers a glimpse into Sergeant Glenn Powell’s 30-year transformation from the much-beloved boy who seeks more in life…to the man, who discovers it—in adventure, in friendships, and in service to three American presidents. a service he delivered with pride, unquestioned loyalty, distinction and in the end, great admiration.

A Soldier’s Story 
Shortly after I turned 18, I enlisted in the army. Around that time, I learned that the young woman I’d been dating was pregnant, so going into the army would be an opportunity to provide for my child. The army sent me to Fort Dix in New Jersey for boot camp training on April 22, 1982. It was the perfect enlistment site for me.
Because of the popular television show, Dallas, I had in mind that I wanted to go to Fort Hood, Texas and meet JR Ewing. Not only did I meet Larry Hagman, the actor who played JR, but I also met the entire cast at one of the big Dallas malls. That was in the '80s when the networks spent money to have cast members show up to greet their fans, and when fans could easily get a photo with the stars. Meeting JR had been on my mental bucket list. Later I learned that “Klinger” from Mash and Danny Thomas were both from Toledo, and so I added them to the list.

In 1983, I re-enlisted and chose Hawaii as my next army stint. There for 18 months, I’m convinced that the Hawaii move helped me look long and hard at myself and my future. In Hawaii, I decided I needed to better myself. I enrolled at the Wahiawa Community School for Adults and got my high school diploma. My mother was so disappointed when I didn’t graduate from high school, so I did it as much for her as for myself.

My long transportation management career began in Wahiawa. I was one of a large number of applicants who applied for a temporary mission of driving for the Sergeant Major for the division. He was the senior enlisted man at the post. I beat out the other candidates for that position. Later, I drove for the one-star general at the post. After that, I returned to my unit and worked as the battalion mail clerk until he left in 1985. While there, I met friends and mentors who would help me decide on my career journey. That same year, I was asked to re-enlist, and First Sergeant Herbert Harris became a lifelong mentor and friend. Sergeant Harris recommended that I choose Fort Eustis in Newport News, Virginia for my re-enlistment. I remained at Fort Eustis from April 1985 until January 1988.

I became a squad leader, and for the next six months, I managed a squad of truck drivers in and around the base. After that, I was set on transportation becoming my specialty, but my career trajectory changed some when I was appointed to head up NCO Training, where I was responsible for the training of 270 soldiers.
Around this time, I met First Sergeant Fletcher Walker. He was sent in to straighten out our company, and he did just that. He would stand up at the top of the stairs with his hat covering his eyes but looking down at us. Sergeant Walker was a ‘soldier among soldiers,’ an airborne paratrooper, a Vietnam Veteran who had been shot three times. There was no one more surprised when he chose me to run the training.

I knew he had high expectations, and I was determined not to disappoint him. He was the kind of leaders for whom soldiers would fight and die. He was a true hero who taught me how to be a soldier and a man. He shared a lot about life with me. I imitated him in many ways so much that everyone would call me “Baby Walker.” I met his family and it was an honor. He retired as a Command Sergeant Major.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Lillian Duncan and Split!

Kindle Edition

Lillian Duncan
Inspirational mystery/thriller
Buy on Amazon

About the book
Sometimes life is full of strikes; and sometimes all we get is a split—no matter how well we throw the ball.

After seventeen year-old Macy Minton’s parents died, she’s had only one goal—to keep her family together. Along with the family bowling center, she inherited the responsibility of caring for her two younger siblings. Now, seven years later, everything is falling apart, especially her family. Macy thinks life can’t get any worse, but she’s wrong.

As she struggles to keep the bowling alley from closing forever, one tragedy after another threatens to split her family permanently. Convinced someone is intent on destroying her family, she’s determined to stop them.

But first she has to find out who is responsible

My review
Duncan’s story of ordinary people trying to make life work after tragedy takes a horrifying turn when one deranged person’s delusions take a lethal turn.

There are plenty of innocuous suspects in this murder mystery. Macy has been too busy taking caring of her younger brother, now about to graduate from high school, and her younger teen sister and providing for them by running the family business to worry about a personal life for herself. With the exception of one attempt to follow her dream as a professional bowler which she considered a failure, she’s had no time for dating, church, or even spending enough time listening to what her siblings look forward to in life. Since she never took the to attend college, her blind determination to provide her brother with an advanced dedication suddenly pokes back at her when she learns of his real desire. Family secrets further threaten to erode Macy’s carefully orchestrated perfect family when deadly accidents begin to affect them one by one.

Read along as Duncan creates a page turning mystery full of opportunity, means, and motives galore.

About the Author
Lillian Duncan writes stories of faith mingled with murder & mayhem. She lives in Ohio with her husband, two parrots, one Jack Russell, and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that she's thinking about renaming Clifford since he keeps growing and growing and.... 

She writes the type of books she loves to read--suspense with a touch or two of romance. Whether as an educator, a writer, or a speech pathologist, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God's Word.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Meow Matrimony a Fancy Cat mystery release

Announcing Book #2 in the series!

EBook $5.99
Print $16.99 (March 1, 2019)

Buy online

Or order from your favorite bookseller

A Dead Reporter Found In A Foyer. Can Ivy Solve This Mystery Before Her Wedding Day

Ivy Preston has waited a long time to get married. This time she plans to do more than make it to the altar. But when Ivy tries to do a good deed and stumbles over a body, she and her former fiancé, Stanley, are accused of the crime. Ivy hopes she's not the only one who believes in their innocence.

Worse than being framed for murder, when one of her beloved kittens falls ill, Ivy must face her greatest fears. How will she ever parent a child if she can't even take care of a cat. . .and for that matter, how will she be the type of wife her devoted fiancé needs?

Through the love and support of her mom, fiancé, and friends, Ivy is determined to clear Stanley's good name, and her own. With nuptials looming, Ivy hopes not only to find a killer, but to make it to her own wedding.

Enjoy this excerpt from Chapter One

“This is Ivanna in the morning,” the throaty voice from my car radio chanted. “Ready to sign off. Remember, North Star Candies…the way to enjoy the day. Who doesn’t adore North Star mocha fudge? Treats so light they’ll take you beyond the moon!”
“Hmm, North Star might have been the best around here,” I told my car radio. “Before Featherlight Confectioneries made caramel cashew with sea salt.” I pulled into my driveway, the cool sunny breeze whipping my hair when I opened the car door. Yippee! Not only was March arriving like a lamb, I had presents. My mail carrier Janie knew I’d stop in at home at lunchtime to check on the kittens, so she’d left the beautiful box from Emblem Paper Works on my front stoop next to my still tightly budded tulips. Sigh.
I put my hand over my fluttering heart and drooled once again over the wonderful, fabulous hunk of man who was going to marry me. The box of wedding invitations sitting there pushed me one step closer to the altar, which I vowed I was actually going to make stick this time. When I could touch the scrumptious, thick, silky paper and read the words, I was sure the wedding would finally feel real, and everything would be perfect this time. Adam Truegood Thompson, the man who loved cats and children, fed me gourmet coffee and chocolate, would take me, Ivy Amanda Preston, as his lawfully wedded wife. Mmhmm.
OK, quit dawdling, grab the box of invites, which technically wasn’t a present since I paid for them, and check on the man’s kittens which were currently in residence at my house so their father wouldn’t be tempted to harm a hair on their little heads. Sadly, the darling fluffballs broke the line of pure-bred Egyptian Mau cats when my silver, Memnet, got to, um, know his cat Isis, a smoke, a little better than we’d anticipated last fall. Mem and Adam were currently batching it at his place downtown.
I called “kitty, kitty,” as I dumped the box on my kitchen table, even though Isis always gave me the eye, like what was this crazy woman doing? when I tried to get her to come. She would appear when she needed me. Which was rarely. The four kittens, on the other hand, bumbled over. I squatted to play with them.
The invitations called to me during the time I created a peanut butter and rhubarb jam sandwich and ate. I studied the siren carton while I jingled my car keys and dithered whether to open it now or wait for Adam so we could look at them together.
Guess which side won?
I used the handy-dandy key I happened to be holding to slice through the packing tape. Uh-oh, that color blue edging wasn’t what I remembered in my order. Flutter went thunk in my chest. I reached with a quivering hand and matching lip to lift out the sample invitation left open on top of the neatly sealed packages.
“You are cordially invited to attend the nuptials of Miss Ivanna Lynn Pressman and Mr. Jason Albert Carter…”
Oh, no.
I double-checked the address on the box. Yup, my name, Ivy Preston, and my address, 312 Marigold Street, Apple Grove, Illinois.
I picked up the sealed package of invitations and turned it over. From the outside they looked the same as the open one. I guessed our names were close enough to confuse, but I still felt wounded and anonymous. Ivanna, hmm? Exotic, nothing like me. It couldn’t be…seriously? Ivanna from the radio show? I looked again at the invitation. Their wedding was the weekend before mine. Ours. At Ethereal Events, the same venue Adam and I had booked for the last Sunday in June. I know, a Sunday, but it was the closest we could get to the end of May, Mother’s preferred date.
Fortunately, the invoice had Ivanna’s correct address—on the south edge of Apple Grove—and I thought I’d do the neighborly thing and take them over to her after work rather than waste time sending them back through the mail. Besides, ouch, those things were expensive enough already. I grabbed some tape from the drawer and quickly slapped it across my key slash, called “farewell and behave” to the cats and rushed back out the door.
As I started my car’s engine, I reached for the radio button, ready to catch a little of the afternoon show on WWAG, Apple’s Grove’s little radio station. Ivanna could be home when I went there. Hmm…I might get to meet a celebrity. Anticipation would make the afternoon wing by.
I drove the few blocks downtown to Mea Cuppa, the coffee and book store Adam owned and at which I now helped. The Apple Grove store was one of a small chain based in Chicago. Pushing the back door open, I called, “Martha, I’m back,” to our shop assistant and my neighbor who worked three days a week. “Anything exciting happen?”
She was a bouncy mom of twin kindergarteners who was overjoyed to let her mother and her husband’s parents share grandparent duties while she earned some needed money.
“When does anything exciting happen around here?” she said with a little toss of her reddish-blond hair nicely shaped to her head. I envied anyone who had such control of her hair. Mine tended toward the wild musk ox side. “Just that new order from the book distributor. I had them set it by the office door.”
“Thanks! I had a special delivery at home, too.”
“Do tell!” She rubbed her hands together.
“Of course! Be right back.” I went to put my purse away in my office desk and returned to the wide open, high-ceilinged room with narrow creaky wooden floorboards to help her prep for the afternoon coffee rush. Today’s coffee special was mocha mint, and of course I needed to sample some so I could eagerly explain its engaging qualities to our clientele. The hot mugful went down smoothly and I regretfully decided against seconds. I told Martha about the invitations instead, to keep my mouth too busy to stuff in more calories. “So, if that’s OK with your schedule, I want to take off fifteen minutes early so I can still meet Adam at Tiny’s for a quick supper after I drop off the box at Ivanna’s house. Can you lock up?”
“Sure, boss.” Martha grinned and popped a square of chocolate fudge from Featherlight Confectionaries in her mouth. “I’ll just ask Mom if she can get supper ready.”
I ordered myself to stop mentally drooling over fudge and a mom who would cook dinner at the drop of a hat and think of my upcoming wedding dress fitting. “I can’t imagine what it would be like, having parents so close.”
The bell on the door played, “Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day,” as customers entered. Much as I wished my mom lived physically closer, having a two-hour warning, the drive from Maplewood where I’d grown up in northern Illinois south to Apple Grove, was a relief before her tornadic visits. Adam’s father had passed away years ago and his mother had Alzheimer’s. Sad.
At five forty-five, Colleen Bailey, our after-school helper, and Martha were ably handling customers so I breezed back into the late afternoon light. Sunset was five minutes away and would be romantic by the time Adam and I held hands at the buffet for our too-brief connection of the day. He had an evening meeting—when didn’t he?—with some committee or other of the city council. Part time mayor was really time and a half, but he was happy and I was proud of him.
I needed sunglasses for the drive west and south, the approximate direction of Ivanna’s neighborhood. New townhouses clashed with the gentility of Apple Grove’s historic center. Progress, though, trumped desperate clinging to the past, something Adam was attempting to work on by bringing new businesses and life to our little adopted city.
There it was—Ivanna’s address, the right hand of a two-story dark-sided and narrow-windowed building. I supposed it was modern classic, but I frowned at its bleakness. The tree in the front yard was spindly, with its “I’m new and insured the first year” store tag fluttering in the breeze. I knocked and rang the bell before depositing the box on the rubber welcome mat. Weatherman Bob at WWAG reported possible showers in the early morning hours, so I hesitated leaving it exposed. As I reached to test the knob, I noticed the interior door was ajar. Maybe I should push it open and shove the box inside. I didn’t even have to set foot in the entry.
With a peek up and down the street, deserted for the dinner hour, I gingerly eased the glass storm door toward me, then tentatively pushed the black-painted interior door inward. Not even a squeak added to the spooky tension. I grinned. I’d been reading way too many mysteries and detective dramas lately. “Hello! Just dropping this off!” I called as I slid the box forward, though I was certain no one was home.
Except the outstretched fingers on the floor I happened to see looked too real to spring from an overactive imagination.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

West Side Girl by Anita Solick Oswald

West Side Girl

West Side Girl
Anita Solick Oswald

Released June 19, 2018
Autobiography/Personal Essays
Print $14.95
Ebook $4.99

Buy the book on Amazon

About the Book
West Side Girl chronicles the colorful and oftentimes unpredictably eccentric characters and adventures of Chicago’s West Side in the 1950’s and 60’s. These visceral and nostalgic essays transport you into the world of a ragtag brigade of migrant and immigrant children finding themselves in a rapidly changing community. The daughter of a fireman and frustrated-writer turned-housewife, Anita Oswald portrays life from her family’s third-story apartment and Bohemian Madison Street restaurant with a fresh perspective. These stories of equality and nascent social justice are equal parts outrageous, insightful, funny, and touching.

All royalties from book sales will go to Off the StreetClub, a Chicago nonprofit that supports at-risk youth.

About the Author
Anita Solick Oswald
Anita Solick Oswald is a Chicago native. Her essays have appeared in The Write Place at the Write Time, the Faircloth Literary Review, The Fat City Review, and Avalon Literary Review. She is a member of the Chicago Writers’ Association and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. She is also a founding member of the Boulder Writing Studio, and works with the Dairy Center for the Arts in Boulder, Colorado. She lives in Niwot, Colorado with her husband and two cats. Visit the author's website for more information.

A Brief Interview with the Author
This collection is based on your personal experiences growing up in Chicago. What made these stories feel important for you to tell?
For years I have been telling my stories about growing up in a great time of freedom for children in a neighborhood that was culturally diverse. It seems especially relevant now to tell those stories of social change and the benefits of cultural diversity. I remember telling some of these stories to my daughters as they were growing up, so putting them together in this collection has also been a way to connect with my family in meaningful ways, and share that with others.

How do you navigate the sometimes-blurry lines between truth and storytelling? What kind of research do you do?
For me, this is not an issue. I check sources if individuals are still alive or, in some cases, I do not use last names or have altered the names. I’ve researched family records, photos, newspaper articles, school records, and memorabilia, have contacted alumni groups and former residents of my old neighborhood and verified my recollections with relatives, friends, and former teachers. I never stop researching.

What does donating your royalties mean to you?
For many reasons, West Garfield Park was a neighborhood in decline when I was a child. Through organizations, like Off the Street Club, and the dedication and generosity of staff and donors, we never knew we were slum kids. This club has meant so much to so many and was an integral part of my golden childhood. I hope to share that wonderful gift with other children.

Read an Excerpt from West Side Girl’s “Hot Diggity Dog.”
In July, when every day seemed like the last day of Pompeii, a free cone sounded like a great idea. But as we turned the corner our maniacally eager expressions vanished. The line to get free soft serve cones stretched all the way around the corner on Madison Street right up to the front door of Solick’s restaurant. It looked like every kid in the neighborhood had heard about the freebies. I wanted to throw in the towel and go to Columbus Park swimming pool. I didn’t like vanilla cones anyway. I wanted a chocolate dip cone. If we hurried, I argued, we’d still make the last batch of 500 kids before they closed the pool for cleaning.
But the rest of the gang maintained that free ice cream was worth the delay.
“Come on, Anita, the line isn’t that long. It’s moving fast.”
I really didn’t want to go to the pool alone so I reluctantly agreed to hang out and wait my turn in the heat and humidity of Chicago in July. As we walked past the takeout joint to claim our places in line, I had time to size up the place. I had to agree with my mother. Hot Diggity Dog didn’t look too hot. I admired their entrepreneurship, though. The staff was sweating and working as fast as they could, taking orders and dishing out soft serve to overheated customers. Their aprons were stained and the trash cans were overflowing. It was a pyroclastic event. Money and sawdust covered the linoleum. The owners had developed their own creative security system. They figured it would be harder to ripoff the dive if thieves had to pick up the cash and they instructed the customers to throw their money on the floor. Sweaty dogs spun on the greasy roller rotisserie – no sneeze guard in sight. Mom was probably right about the hygiene. I saw people walking past us with cones and Chicago dogs and remembered my mother’s cautionary tales about dirty kitchens and diseases you’d get if you weren’t careful. The pungent smell of the dogs and the raw onions and the bleach smell from the laundromat next door made me gag. I thought about all the nasty pig body parts that were supposed to be in hot dogs. Maybe those hot peppers really were cockroaches – were they wiggling? I needed a Coke.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Revisit Christmas with Jody Bailey Day

Mistletoe Mix-up (Christmas Holiday Extravaganza)

Mistletoe Mix-Up
Jody Day

Christmas Holiday Extravaganza
Pelican Ventures LLC
December 1, 2018
Ebook Novelette

Buy on

About the Book
Evan Edwards faces another lonely Christmas in the dorm, so when he chances upon a rain-soaked ad for holiday room and board in exchange for decorating, he wastes no time in driving to the empty home, dreaming of a cozy, if lonely, Christmas.

Across the street, Rise' Larkin is also home from school, and has some bad news for her dad. As Evan and Rise’s friendship deepens, and Christmas nears, Evan discovers he’s been decorating the wrong house.

Will this mix-up ruin everything?

My review
I am starting to get hooked on novellas/novelettes, shorter complete books that are longer than short stories but shorter than a full length book. They don’t have time for complicated plots or side stories, yet have nicely developed characters and a problem to solve. For Evan Edwards, it’s what to do with himself. As a student he’s looking the future in the nose, as a musician he knows he needs something else that will push his playing to the next level. As a son he feels like a failure to a mom who is constantly on the lookout for the next man. For Rise Larkin, the problem is how to tell her father her life is a disaster but she’s already started a do-over about which she’s worried he won’t approve.

Jody Bailey DayMistletoe Mix-Up is a cute story of two lonely hearts finding home and a future and making peace with the present through an odd turn of events one special Christmas.

About the Author

Jody Bailey Day writes inspirational fiction, poems, and devotionals looking through love colored glasses - the love of Christ.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Stacey Weeks and SUSPENSE

Fatal Homecoming 
Stacey Weeks
Christian Suspense
Pursued Books, a division of Write Integrity Press
c. February, 2019
$6.50 eBook
Buy on Kindle

About the Book
As Jessie Berns returns to her hometown of Chenaniah River to find answers about her brother’s suspicious death, undercover RCMP officer Rick Chandler poses as a detective in the same small town, investigating the possibility of a corrupt police force. 

With Rick’s help, Jessie pursues a truth that someone is willing to do anything to keep hidden—even kill again. They uncover decades-old conspiracies hinting at hidden sins that threaten the lifestyles of numerous people in the small town. As they close in on the devious mastermind manipulating the community, it becomes frighteningly clear that Jessie is the killer’s new target.
For a teaser of Chapter One, click here.

A Brief Interview with the Author
What do you love about this book?
I love the fast pace of Fatal Homecoming. I don’t enjoy scenes that slow the pace of a story, so I love that Fatal Homecoming moves quickly and with urgency.

Tell us about your favorite character in your new book.
I love Jessie Berns in Fatal Homecoming. She has a never give up tenacious attitude that drives Rick crazy but serves her well.

Share a couple of things you learned while researching or writing this story.
For Fatal Homecoming I interviewed an RCMP officer, kept a retired police officer (now private investigator) on speed dial, interviewed a paramedic, and spoke at length to a former police sniper. I learned so much about conducting an investigation and first responders to an emergency. It was very helpful because Jessie finds herself in several dangerous situations.  

What do you hope readers will tell others?
I hope they say the truths of God’s character, what He has done for them, and His great love for them lingers long after they close the book.

What are you reading now? I am reading Identity Theft – a nonfiction book. It’s GREAT.

What's next? I’m almost finished a second nonfiction title, Chasing Holiness. My next fiction project will be a sequel to Mistletoe Melody, which released in December 2018

Fatal Homecoming releases Feb 5th, and if you purchase it on release day you can receive a bonus short story, The Girl He Never Knew. Just email proof of purchase to freebookforpreorder@gmail.com and my publisher will send the file the next business day. 

About the Author

Stacey Weeks is the multi-award-winning author of Glorious Surrender (2016), inspirational romances The Builder’s Reluctant Bride (2016), Mistletoe Melody (2018), and inspirational romantic suspense novels In Too Deep (2017), and Fatal Homecoming (2019). Stacey lives in Ontario where she speaks at women’s conferences, teaches writing and bible study workshops, and writes about the things of the Lord. www.staceyweeks.com

Blogs and Quarterly Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/cZgDb9 
I: writerSWeeks

Friday, February 1, 2019

Kimberly Miller presents Forgiving Tess

Forgiving Tess by [Miller, Kimberly M.]

Forgiving Tess by Kimberly Miller
Prism Lux, an imprint of Pelican Ventures
Inspirational Romance

EBook $5.99
Buy the book on

About the Book
Tess Carson had finally turned her life around. After a string of bad decisions, she was making amends, paying back debts, and working to bring her family back together. It was her own forgiveness that remained elusive.

So when Tess’s childhood crush re-enters her chaotic life, she’s certain it’s the worst time for romance. Even if he still has those mesmerizing dimples.

In Tess’s eyes, Josh Thorne has it all. As a youth pastor with a thriving ministry, he’s exactly what she needs. He’s stable, kind, confident, and not afraid of Tess’s troubled past—even if she still has an entire town that insists her sins will never be forgotten.

But when the demons of her past collide with the incredible promise of her future, Tess wonders if it’s possible to forget and if she has enough courage in her to forgive.

About the Author
Kimberly Miller is currently a professor of writing and film courses at a small Christian college in Pennsylvania. Her interests include screenwriting as well as novel writing, although she can, at times, be conned into academic writing as well. Kimberly especially enjoys developing interesting, deep characters who speak in unique and yet realistic ways. She also enjoys all aspects of the movie industry (especially classic Hollywood), coffee and chocolate and peanut butter, all of which are God’s gifts to the world. http://kimberlymmiller.com/

A Brief Interview with the Author
What do I love about this book: One of the things that excites me most about Forgiving Tess is its relatability. We’ve all done things that we wish we hadn’t and we often even hang onto them for much longer than we ought to. Despite knowing better, and even saying we understand we’ve been forgiven, we struggle to fully accept God’s forgiveness. I hope this story reaches anyone in this situation so that they might find the peace of God’s love and forgiveness in their own lives.

Things I learned while researching this story: I definitely learned that I have areas of my life that I need to ask forgiveness for, but more importantly others that I need to let go of because I’ve already been forgiven.

Characters who made me laugh: One of my favorite characters in this story is definitely Tess’s Uncle Stu. Not only is he an amazing representation of the complete love we should have for one another, he also has an edge and a dry sense of humor that slips out at just the right time. He gives Tess the push she needs when she needs it, but he also lets her find her way through the hurt, even as he helps her to see the light in the dark times as well.

What do I hope readers will tell others?  I hope readers will say they enjoyed the characters and related to them, but also that they saw the story as a good reminder to love others where they are, and to forgive more easily than the always believed they could.

What am I reading now? I am currently almost finished reading an advanced copy of William Romanowski’s Cinematic Faith (spoiler alert! It’s awesome!)

What’s next? Since I’m heading back into the spring semester of teaching my writing schedule will slow down a lot, but I am working on two new novels, so I’m hoping to finish those by the summer.