Tuesday, July 20, 2021

What's in Your Salad?



Growing up in a household made up of a long line of educators and farmers was mostly fun. Words, for instance, were always on the menu. My great-uncle Fred, a farm-raised high school history teacher, has a peculiar conscience about definitions and expectations. To him, salad means green lettuce, with maybe some carrots and tomatoes and cucumbers; vegetables you could walk over and pluck from the garden. To church ladies, salad has more variety. Our favorite is gelatin salad, especially if whipped cream is one of the ingredients. Fred gets this look on face whenever someone brings one of these dishes to the table. It’s an abomination if marshmallows are involved. Naturally, Thanksgiving always includes giggles, lime gelatin, pineapple chunks, cherries, and lots of whipped cream. He has never taken it in good stride, even when we try to remind him that one dictionary definition of salad is “hodgepodge.”

What’s in your salad? My salad has expanded with the size of our garden after relocating to a farm with retirement. We like to experiment with varieties of vegetables, and trade recipes with our Amish neighbors. There are endless varieties of tomatoes! My favorite is an heirloom called Anna Russian. Zucchini, once banned in our former garden, now competes with cukes and minced purple onions, cilantro, and the most beautiful fresh dark leaves of aromatic basil you ever inhaled. Dill…who’d have thought it would go on anything but pickles and tuna…um, salad? Fresh peas, even strawberry slices. With ingredients like that, we hardly need dressing. It’s really about expanding your horizons, trying new things, spreading your wings, and having fun. Taking things in stride, lightening up…throwing whatever comes into the mix and discovering stuff like…salsify. Or maybe not. And keeping a bag of marshmallows in your baking cupboard for those great-uncle emergencies.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

The 10 Win Commandments by Derrick Gray

Write Now Literary is pleased to be organizing a two-month book tour and “free e-book giveaway” for The 10 Win Commandments with by Derrick Gray. The book tour will run July 1-August 31, 2021. 

Genre: Christian Nonfiction 

ISBN-10: 1737398907 
ISBN-13: 978-1737398905


Derrick Gray is a Christian Minister, business owner, filmmaker and author of The 10 Win Commandments. A Long Island native and purveyor of all things hip-hop, he knows God’s not through with him yet. Derrick lives in York, Pa with his wife and family.



Author Derrick Gray has written this debut masterwork that touches the soul with reliable guidance and masterful prose. The author guides us through worldly experiences as a quintessential mentor if life. Students, administrators, CEO's and ministry leaders will find his advice nothing less than masterful. This book profoundly dives into guidance that enables you to go through life at the level in which God intended. The execution of these words of wisdom lays out how victory is achievable for anyone. It's all about self-appraisal, self-reflection, God's direction and personal growth. Everyone has a designed path and achievement is within anyone's grasp. All it takes is the correct compass, and no book maps it out better than Derrick Gray's 10 Win Commandments. 

Thursday, July 15, 2021

New Spec Fiction from Robin Fuson


Robin Fuson
Inspirational Speculative fiction
July 2021
207 pp.
Ebook $2.99
Print $8.95
Buy on Amazon

About the Book

A Christian Speculative Fiction Novella set in the 1930s through 1950s.

Child prodigy Jacquelyn (Jackie) Carter’s life is interrupted when she dies. From the beginning of her life, her Guardian angel, Faphick, senses Jackie is remarkable. God regards all His children as special and important to Him.

Faphick and a host of other Beings play out their roles in the spiritual dimension that surrounds her. Although unseen by Jackie, they are critical to her life.

A visit to Heaven feels like pure bliss, and although she would like to stay, Heaven isn’t ready to keep her. She’d always thought her vocation as a dancer-entertainer defined her life. Sent back to Earth to fulfill her purpose, with no instruction book, wrenches her soul.

As pressure mounts, will she overcome enormous obstacles and find her God-given purpose? Will she accept Aunt Sherry’s help as prospects around her dwindle? Faphick wants to keep evil away and shield her from any distress. How much can he intervene?


My review

Fuson adds to her extensive repertoire of inspirational fiction with a tale from the other side. If you’ve wondered about the role of Guardian angels and heavenly Beings, Interruption offers a creative answer.

Jackie is a special child endowed with beautiful gifts. She’s looked after, as are all humans, by heavenly beings who don’t interfere, she’s able to make life choices both positive and inappropriate. We are all give a purpose on Earth. Some of us find it sooner than later; some of us are able to whether storms better than others. When Jackie spirals out of control, everyone from the unseen, fearsome and loving Faphick to her earthly family gathers to help. Whether she accepts it is up to her.

Told in alternating viewpoints and timelines from Faphick to Jackie, Interruption is sure to delight and provide thought-provoking questions about life and faith to readers of inspiring fiction.


About the Author

Robin lives in Sugarmill Woods, Florida with her husband Jimmy and their Belgian Malinois, Kenzi. She and her husband celebrate with an overflowing cup of blessings with seventeen grandchildren. An award winner for romance and flash fiction, Robin is multi-published in both fiction and non-fiction and has written well over a hundred stories on her blog for children. Two of her novellas are finalists in the 2020 Selah awards. Her historical and contemporary romances, and Christian women’s fiction, are wrapped around a twist of intrigue. The Rosita Valdez series for children lends itself to a character-building lesson through an adventure. Robin is a member of Word Weavers International, ACFW, and John316 Marketing Network. Robin loves company and challenging her young guests to discover the many giraffes in the obvious and hidden nooks and crannies of their home.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

New Cozy Mystery from Susan Van Dusen

The Missing Hand
Susa VanDusen
Cozy Mystery
Aakenbaaken & Kent , released June 7, 2021
Paperback, ‎266 pages, $16.99
ISBN:‎ 978-1938436574
Buy on Amazon 
Barnes and Noble 
About the Book
A valuable heirloom has been stolen from a member of Julia Donnelly’s Torah study group. Grievous sins of the past have pushed their way into the present. Murder, distrust, and ill-gotten gains from World War II Bohemia threaten the peaceful Jewish community of Crestfall, Illinois. Julia, wife of this small town’s mayor and mother of two young adopted sons, is pressed into service to find the bejeweled heirloom which is called a yad, a Hebrew word which means “hand” in English. It is a rod-shaped item with a bulb on the top and a hand with a pointing finger at the bottom that helps keep one’s place when reading the Torah. This particular yad is covered with a fortune’s worth of jewels. With no experience except watching TV detective shows, Julia and Torah group leader Rabbi Fine attempt to solve the mystery and address the misery it causes. After finding the yad, another mystery, much deeper, explores good and evil in the character of the man who brought the yad to America and escaped punishment for his crimes after the war by posing as a Jewish immigrant. Heady stuff for a cozy, but humor takes the sting out. The Donnelly family goes at 90 miles an hour, hollering, hugging, and loving. It all works out in the end. Remember, we all have our own michegas. As we say in Yiddish, Plotsn zolstu—May you explode from pleasure after reading this book.
My Review
Whether you don’t know much about contemporary Judaism, are an ardent follower, or somewhere in between, readers will learn that people take desperate risks when they must, theft is never simple, and family is family, no matter where they are on the family tree. Julia wants to explore her roots more deeply, and joins a study group at her synagogue, led by the younger and single Rabbi Fine. The women of the group come from all backgrounds, are of all ages and opinions and walks of life. Rabbi Fine has his work cut out for him, dealing with the best and nosiest Torah group. Sometimes they even study when they’re not sharing recipes and secrets. When a group member’s heirloom yod, or helpful hand for holding open scriptures while reading, goes missing, you know it’s never about the pilfered item that’s the real mystery. Join Julia and friends as they dig deep into the past to learn more about the hearts of mankind, and something about themselves as well.
Susan Van Dusen’s delightful adventure, the first of a series, connecting past and present underscores the value of family ties and of sisterhood that goes beyond blood. Unraveling a mystery is only a layer of this faith journey for these courageous and entertaining Torah group members.

About the Author

Susan Van Dusen is an award-winning writer of editorials and magazine articles. She has written three books for children on the history of Skokie, and The Synagogue: a Home for the Jewish People. The Missing Hand is the debut book in a series of cozies based on a Torah group solving mysteries using Jewish tradition. She is a member of OCWW, Chicago Writers Association and Sisters in Crime. To learn more, please visit www.susanvandusen.com

Monday, June 14, 2021

Essays and inspiration for difficult times

Resilience in Hard Times
Paulette Harper, editor
Nonfiction Anthology of personal essays and inspirational advice
 Thy Word Publishing
June 15, 2021
Buy on Amazon
$1.99 ebook; $20.45 print, 222 pp.
About the Book:
Resilience in Hard Times are stories from twenty women who learned how to survive and pivot in the most troubling times. 
People who read these incredible stories of….
How they overcame self-doubt and turned it into self-confidence.
How they faced odds and climbed those mountains to success.
How they choose to use their voices and experiences to lead them to victory.
How they decided not to allow the scars, pain, and uncertainties to defeat them.  
These are stories about transformation, courage, and resolve from women who were determined to make a difference in their own lives and show others how it can be done. 
These women are using their voices and influence to break chains and strongholds that once captured them.

My Review:

Twenty extraordinary authors share encouraging words, prayers, and advice from the depth of their pain in this new collection from Thy Word Publishing. Women candidly discuss topics from staying in love over the long haul, parenthood, the sandwich generation, prejudice, betrayal, illness, and every kind of dilemma that would break the heart of a lesser human—all with a healthy appreciation for their strength of faith and the precious concept of forgiveness for others and ourselves. “A resilient person has the ability to bounce back and recover from horrendous events, hard times, and adverse conditions. That’s how God created you. Yes, God created you with the bounce back, but there are some things you need to do as well,” Paulette Harper says in the opening selection.

Coming from all walks of life: medical specialists, career authors and publicists, homemakers, businesswomen, ministerial and educational professionals, the authors tell how they are facing down challenges from divorce to abortion, racism and sexism, physical setbacks, death of loved ones, job loss and financial difficulties, to self-doubt and suicidal thoughts. Their testimonies will promote and engender healing for everyone dealing with similar events. Each of the twenty stories relate a personal hard time and how they struggled and worked diligently to get a handle on their often heart-rending circumstance. “My hope is that by sharing this experience with you, it will guide you to recognize in yourself your deep desire for a life without worry, struggle, and pain,” Jana Marie Toutolmin writes.

Some of my favorite passages include:“I had finally realized I was never supposed to fit it! I was meant to be the STAR! My light is not to be dimmed. I am not to fit in. I am to let my light shine before others,” from The Journey to Becoming a STAR! by Alena Zachery-Ross, and “Praising the Lord through one of the hardest times in my life is what kept me emotionally, mentally and spiritually sounded,” from Pushing Past the Pain to Praise by Pastor LoNika A. Harris. Other passages of advice are equally inspired, like “Keep your prayers and positive affirmations all around you, and most of all keep encouraging people with wisdom by your side,” Tonja Harris Dews writes in I Don’t Look Like My Storm; “I knew I had to stop giving people the power to control my happiness” in Overcoming the Mean Girl Spirit by Yvonne R. Wilson, and the most reassuring of all in the final piece, Shattered Heart, by Marilyn Williams-Jerrels: “I had no clue about how God was going to help me survive, but I had faith that I would be carried. 

For those who are going through a mild rough patch or a calamity, these wonderful essays are sure to shine through your despair. Especially recommended as a gift.


Friday, May 21, 2021

Totally fun brain teasing poetry with Kelleyina Johnson


I HAVE A QUESTION FOR YOU: Treasure hunt your mind and house for answers to these brain teasing poems
Kelleyina Johnson
April 2021
58 pg, print $13.99
Buy on Amazon

About the book
The selected poems are brain-teasing, mentally stimulating, and fun! What makes them unique is that each poem asks a series of questions. After hearing them, the listener has to figure out what those questions are revealing about the answer. I provide the answers, but I don't just give them to the reader, they have to unscramble them.
A brief interview with the author:
Kelleyina, share a little about your writing journey. What prompted you to write a book, and how did you go about learning how to do it?
What prompted me to write this book was a little journal I purchased. I saw it and it was just the cutest most delicious looking cover. I looked at it and said, "I know just what I'm going to do with you, I'm going to put poems in you, then put them in a book and get it published." In my mind all of that was happening. After I had gotten enough poems, so I thought, I sent my manuscript out to get my copyright  registration. After that I was not sure what to do, so I prayed. That's when God sent a young lady named Robyn Norwood to me. She was starting an authorship class and  she was the answer to my prayers. Her class taught me what I needed to do to complete the process of getting my book published.
How did you come up with your lovely, intriguing, and fun poems?
The way I came up with most of my poems were spirit led. I would arise, after sleeping, with a thought in my head to write something down. Of course I was obedient. Even throughout my day when I got an idea I always stopped to jot down what I was thinking. 
What are your favorites? Which gave you the most trouble and why?
OK, so, I have to be biased here and say, "they are all my favorites." Even when I had about twelve poems and thought I was done, and Robyn challenged me to add a few more, I was always consulting my Heavenly Father for the words.
What do you like to read in your spare time? What are you reading now?
In my spare time I like to read books on leadership, positive thinking, creating a better future for myself, relationships and prayer verses. Right now I am reading Think Big by Terri Savelle Foy, In The Meantime by Iyanla Vanzant and Kicking Over Sacred Cows by Charles Capps. It depends on whichever room I'm in that determines my read for that moment.
What’s next for you?
My next project is a children's book as well. Except This one will consist of illustrations for the poems. It will be about the yellow school bus.

Sneak peek from Lisa: it's really cute. Can't wait to see it. Thank you for your time today, Kelleyina.
About the Author:
Kelleyina Johnson is a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, friend, woman of God and teacher to preschoolers in-home daycare. Many years ago she survived a car accident, totally uninjured, after the car she was in flipped over three times before coming to a stop. This was a blessing because God has used her as a vessel to do so many things outside of her box. She’s a member of the Franklin Road Community Association in Marietta, Georgia and the secretary of “Advance To Excellence,” Toastmasters Club, District 44. She also teaches in the Junior class at her church, World Changers Church International, Marietta Satellite location, which consists of middle schoolers from eleven to thirteen years of age.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Meet Michelle Caffrey multitalented author


Welcome, Michelle Caffrey!
Michelle, you write both fiction and non-fiction for different age ranges. What’s that like, switching between reality and what might be?
Writing fiction frees my imagination. Narrative non-fiction has the same elements of plot and character that a novel has, along with respect for the facts and for the people involved. I spent two and a half years researching before writing Bring Jade Home. For hundreds of hours, I interviewed everyone with a connection to finding the dog lost for 44 days in Yellowstone. I used Facebook and emails to get people’s stories, and read books about Yellowstone Park, particularly its history and grizzles and wolves. I researched Australian shepherds, lost dogs and how to find them, pet safety while traveling, and dog agility contests. It was an incredible learning experience.
Tell us about Jade, and your motives for writing your adult and children-focused books about her.
I met Laura Gillice, when she was a guest aboard our barge “Imagine” in France in 2001. We became friends and stayed in close contact. In 2015, she and her friend, David Sowers, were traveling in Yellowstone National Park with their two young Australian shepherds when they were involved in a horrific head-on crash. Seriously injured David and Laura were ambulanced away, and when the rangers went to take the dogs from the wrecked SUV, David’s fifteen-month-old dog, Jade, ran from her damaged carrier into the wild.
Jade was lost in Yellowstone for 44 days, and returned safely, after hundreds of people searched for her. Laura had admired my memoir Just Imagine and asked if I would like to write their story. I was excited by the opportunity to tell the true story of the miraculous Australian Shepherd puppy who faced starvation, rugged terrain, and grizzlies, coyotes, and wolf packs. It was the story of a lifetime, so of course, I said “Yes!”
My publisher, Farcountry Press, specializes in National Park-related books including the best-selling picture book series Who Pooped in the Park?  I wanted to tell Jade’s story from her point of view and used a combination of educated guesses and imagination to write it. Farcountry had the talented Steph Lehmann illustrate Jade—Lost in Yellowstone It received the Creative Child Magazine 2020 Book of the Year Award and is the recipient of the Dog Writer’s Association First Place Award for Children’s Early Reader 2020. I recently completed a young reader chapter book for the 8-12-year-old reading level in the series.
Talk about how setting is important to your intriguing mystery Dairyland series. Can you share anything about the third book?
My husband and I have lived in the Lake Geneva area on and off since 1983. Originally from “Chicagoland,” southeastern Wisconsin has always been my “happy place.” For the ten years we had our barge “Imagine,” we spent summers in France and winters in our RV traveling the country. Dairyland Acres RV Park is a compilation of campgrounds we experienced, set in the mythical small town of Eureka, Wisconsin. Campgrounds and homeports have a commonality: Everyone is a nomad, and both are  microcosms of small close-knit communities—with the closeness having both pros and cons. If you find a small town confining, try living cheek to jowl with your neighbor’s RV or boat and you’ll learn little is private!
What’s your writing and marketing schedule/strategy like?
I do every podcast, radio, written and TV interview my publisher lines up for me. I reached out to friends via email and am active on social media.  I like Facebook, but also use Instagram and YouTube. I contacted my local libraries in Lake Geneva and Delavan and made presentations and during the pandemic, virtual visits.

I view book signings and events like Lake Geneva’s Beachfront Authorfest as promotional investments rather than big sales opportunities. I have attended other author’s book signings and found that the personal impression an author makes can create loyalty or lose fans.

And speaking of fans, I really have fun meeting younger people who are reading!
What are you reading now?
I just finished Anthony Bourdain’s World Travel, and started Beneath the Flames by Gregory Lee Renz, a fellow WWA member, and loving it.

I'll have to check out Bourdain, and can say I loved Renz's story too! Thank you, Michelle.

Read Kerri Lukasaviz's reviews of Jade here and here.

About Michelle:
After years in the software industry, my husband Paul and I abandoned our successful careers and bought a converted 1906 Dutch barge, Imagine. We established a boat charter business, Barge and Breakfast, and cruised the European waterways for ten adventure-filled years. I wrote and indie published Just Imagine: A New Life on an Old Boat, the true story of our first-year adventures—and misadventures—as we journeyed from Holland to Burgundy, France.

I’ve written two of my three-novel Dairyland Series. I recently completed Sconnie, which was a finalist in the RWA SWFL Joyce Henderson contest in the Romantic Suspense category.

Bring Jade Home: The True Story of a Dog Lost in Yellowstone, published by Farcountry Press, was my first narrative non-fiction book. My picture book, Jade—Lost in Yellowstone, received the Creative Child Magazine 2020 Book of the Year Award and is the recipient of the Dog Writer’s Association First Place Award for Children’s Early Reader 2020. I recently completed a young reader chapter book for the 8-12-year-old reading level in the series.

I am a member of RWA, the Wisconsin Writer’s Association, former attendee of the Writer’s Institute of the UW, and take part annually in Lake Geneva Library’s Authorfest by the Beach.

My husband Paul and I currently live in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. When not on the water, I enjoy reading and am addicted to knitting. Both of us love to cook, especially French food.