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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Guest Post from M.J. Abrams, author of Chubby Wubbles

Title: Chubby Wubbles: A Ferret’s Tale
Author: M.J. Abrams
Publisher: Trafford
Genre: Juvenile Fiction
Format: Ebook
A delightful story about the adventures of a young man and a mischievous ferret awaits in Chubby Wubbles!
This vibrant picture book tells a compelling story about the bond that develops between them. As the story unfolds, their loneliness leads to a fateful meeting and a growing friendship. Together they embark on an exciting journey that progresses with lots of humor, fun, and unexpected drama along the way. Chubby Wubbles will warm the hearts of children everywhere!
Guest Article
     I authored a children’s photo picture story book titled “Chubby Wubbles: A Ferret’s Tale”   It wasn’t easy writing a book about ferrets, but very satisfying. The storyline along with the corresponding photos makes my book more realistic than a fantasy novel that has animated illustrations. It’s a story that shows the different emotions of Chubby as the story progresses. 
     Most children are unfamiliar with ferrets, and don’t know much about them. They may think of ferrets as an unusual pet that resembles a squirrel. Actually ferrets have personality traits which are similar to cats and dogs. My book relates to how a ferret behaves and interacts with other animals and humans in different situations. It also gives an idea of how to take care of a ferret’s physical and personal needs. 
     Ferrets are naturally quiet and curious. They also have a short attention span, and tend to sleep a lot. Ferrets need plenty of attention and playtime, but can get stressed out if neglected or left alone too long. Once you get to know them you’ll see that they can seem stubborn and aloof, yet playful and funny. Ferrets are furry little bundles of joy that are easy to care for, and best of all make wonderful pets!
     Some things to take into consideration if you plan to get a pet ferret include making time to play with your ferret and do things together. My book gives readers an idea of their playfulness and curious nature. Ferrets have a tendency to sometimes get into trouble, because of their personality. They are elusive, and can squeeze into tight spots. They are also little thieves. They will pick up anything they can, and carry it off to their special hiding places. Sometimes it’s better for them to leave well enough alone than to venture out of their comfort zone. Things are not always as they may seem to them. It may not be easy for them to find their way back without help.
     Lifestyle changes like moving into a new home or environment can put stress on pets as well as humans. Pets need time to adjust and become familiar with their new surroundings as well as any new owner whom they may not be accustom to. Also, having the means to be able to support pets in the right way and taking care of them properly by not neglecting or abandoning them is important. My book will teach many valuable lessons about taking care of pets that depend on their human companions for wellbeing and love. Chubby Wubbles is a great story as well!
After being an observer and non-pet owner, I was thrown into the mix because my son was leaving and I couldn’t bear the thought of him having to give up his pet ferret to someone else. Since I’ve grown so attached to this lovable critter, I agreed to take care of him while he was away. Because of the many experiences my son has had with this adorably sweet animal, I decided to write a children’s book based on a true story about their adventures and misadventures.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Interview with V.P. Hughes, author of A Thousand Points of Truth






Title: A Thousand Points of Truth
Author: V.P. Hughes
Publisher: XLibrisUS
Genre: History
Format: Ebook


My interest in Colonel John Singleton Mosby began in 1950 However it wasn t until 2002 that it led to extensive research on the subject centered upon newspaper reports on the man begun during the Civil War and continued throughout and even after his life And while I rejected Virgil Carrington Jones s observation on Mosby contained in the preface of this work I did not contemplate writing this book until an even more disparaging observation came to my attention during my research The comment was contained in an article in the Ponchatoula Times of May 26 1963 as part of a six article series written by Bernard Vincent McMahon entitled The Gray Ghost of the Confederacy Mr McMahon in turn based his comment upon General Omar Bradley s judgment of what might have been the postwar life of General George Patton Now substitute Mosby for General Patton in the book A General s Life by Omar Bradley I believe it was better for General Patton Mosby and his professional reputation that he died when he did He would have gone into retirement hungering for the old limelight beyond doubt indiscreetly sounding off on any subject anytime any place In time he would have become a boring parody of himself a decrepit bitter pitiful figure unwittingly debasing the legend emphasis mine McMahon however only proffered in his writings the widely accepted view of John Mosby held by many if not most However like General Ulysses S Grant I have come to know Colonel Mosby rather more intimately through the testimony of countless witnesses over a span of 150 years and I believe that it is time for those who deeply respect John Mosby the soldier to now also respect John Mosby the man A century ago the book of John Singleton Mosby s life closed It is my hope that this book will validate the claim he made during that life that he would be vindicated by time V P Hughes,



Describe your book in 140 characters.

This book uses 54 years of press reports to repudiate claims against Col. John Mosby that have constantly appeared in biographies and other works on the man.

What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?

From childhood, my life has been centered on both history and books, especially books on history
Did you always want to be a writer? Or did you have another career path? I did not intend to write a book, but as I gathered the information used in the book, I realized that so much “known” about the man was untrue and determined to do my best to set the record straight.
Share some fun facts about yourself?

I will be 77 years old and this is the first time I have done something that has produced repercussions beyond my immediate family. I enjoy public speaking and do well in it, having given a number of lectures in the past on this and other subjects.

For many years, V. P. Hughes has been drawn to certain historical figures whom she researched at great length and in considerable depth regarding not only the person of interest but the period in which that individual lived and his influence upon it. Over the years, she has studied such heroes as Sir William Marshal (1147-1219), Sir Harry (Hotspur) Percy (1364-1403), Admiral Horatio Nelson (1758-1805), John Churchill, First Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722), Sir William Wallace (1270-1305), Francis Marion (1732-1795) and the legendary figures William Tell and Robin Hood. The last three were of especial interest because they, with their few followers, engaged the most powerful armies of the time-and prevailed. Of course, John Singleton Mosby was another such champion-a man who defeated his adversaries with cunning and courage rather than brute military force. Yet Mosby became an even greater curiosity when during her research the author discovered that he had died twenty-five years to the day and hour of her own birth-May 30th, 9 a.m, 1916 and 1941 respectively. Although acknowledged as a mere coincidence, however curious, Mosby’s unique style of warfare and his astonishing success under the circumstances extant, made him of especial interest. Early on, her knowledge of the man centered around the Civil War, but then, copious written works as well as the opinions of past and present day Mosby sages brought to light his post-war life in a manner that seemingly disparaged and negated all the glories that had gone before. Finding this both troubling and unacceptable, when the opportunity arose to refute these calumnies and slanders, the author felt obligated to undertake what is, in essence, a posthumous defense of the man. It is hoped that this unique work will achieve the goal of undoing a great injustice and restoring to a noble American hero the respect and admiration he so richly deserves.



Sunday, April 15, 2018

Press release: Manhattan Novelist Awarded The Garcia Memorial Prize for Best Fiction

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Maryglenn McCombs, (615) 297-9875 maryglenn@maryglenn.com 
Manhattan Novelist Awarded The Garcia Memorial Prize for Best Fiction Book of the Year: Diana Forbes wins prestigious honor for her debut novel, Mistress Suffragette 
Mistress-Suffragette-IMAGE-e1512431996188AUSTIN, TEXAS – Manhattan novelist Diana Forbes has been awarded The Garcia Memorial Prize for her debut novel, Mistress Suffragette.  An annual award presented in conjunction with the national Reader Views Book Awards, The Garcia Memorial Prize is awarded to the best fiction book of the year. 
Sex and the Suffrage movement collide in Diana Forbes’s debut novel, Mistress Suffragette.  A brilliantly crafted work of historical fiction that unfolds against the backdrop of Manhattan’s Gilded Age, Mistress Suffragette has earned high critical praise. In a Starred review, Kirkus calls Mistress Suffragette “a sprightly, winning historical novel.” San Francisco Review of Books reports “writing of this quality is rare…a very welcome debut.”  New Theory Magazine notes:  “the plight of the clever main character, Penelope, has a timelessness that every 21st century woman will recognize.” 
About Mistress Suffragette:  Sheltered but feisty Penelope Stanton, growing up in Gilded Age, Newport, Rhode Island is tarnished by her father’s bankruptcy during the Panic of 1893.Penelope quickly attracts the unwanted advances of a villainous millionaire banker who preys on distressed women. After she flees him to nearby Boston, Penelope, by necessity, becomes a paid public speaker in the early women’s suffrage movement. Now she’s speaking out on women’s issues from Boston to New York. But will her disastrous choices in love unravel everything she’s fighting for?  In the glittering age where a woman’s reputation is her most valuable possession, Penelope will be forced to discover her hidden reserves of courage and tenacity—and she’ll have to decide whether to compromise her principles for love.
A mesmerizing tale that blends elements of history, romance, and women’s fiction, Mistress Suffragette is a beautifully-written novel that will stay with readers long after the final page is turned.  Meticulously plotted and brimming with multi-dimensional characters that spring to life within the novel’s pages, Mistress Suffragette leads readers on a rich, rewarding journey to a time long past.  An extraordinary novel by an extraordinary writer, Mistress Suffragette is a timeless, unforgettable tale. 
According to Susan Violante, editor of Reader Views, “We were overwhelmed by both the quantity and quality of entries in this year’s Reader Views Literary Awards. This year’s awards program featured numerous outstanding works of fiction.  Mistress Suffragette by Diana Forbes was a true standout. This incredible novel has it all:  excellent writing, a mesmerizing storyline, and memorable, realistic characters. Mistress Suffragette is an exemplary work of fiction and it is our honor to recognize this title as recipient of the Garcia Memorial Prize for Fiction.” 
Diana Forbes is a 9th generation American, with ancestors on both sides of the Civil War. Diana Forbes lives and writes in Manhattan. When she is not cribbing chapters, Diana Forbes loves to explore the buildings where her 19th century American ancestors lived, loved, survived and thrived.  Visit Diana Forbes online at: www.DianaForbesNovels.com 
Published by Penmore Press, Mistress Suffragette is available in trade paper and eBook editions. Mistress Suffragette is available where fine books are sold. The Reader Views Awards is an annual literary awards program that recognizes excellence in independent publishing. Founded in 2005, Reader Views(www.readerviews.com ) is based in Austin, Texas. The Garcia Memorial Prize honors the life and memory of Garcia, one of the finest Old English Sheepdogs to have ever roamed the earth. Members of the news media wishing to request additional information about the Garcia Memorial Prize or author Diana Forbes are kindly asked to contact Maryglenn McCombs by phone – (615) 297-9875, or by email –  maryglenn@maryglenn.com  
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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Authors To Watch: Interview with Lara Reznik, Author of Bagels & Salsa @eipress #suspense #romance






Lara Reznik is a native New Yorker who studied at the University of New Mexico and the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop. Bagels & Salsa is her third novel.
Writing books since she was six years old, Reznik retired from an executive position in information technology after the success of her first novel, The Girl From Long Guyland, published in 2012. In 2015, Reznik published her second book, The M&M Boys.
Reznik currently lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and two miniature Aussies.

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Title: BAGELS & SALSA
Author: Lara REznik
Publisher: Enchanted Indie Press
Pages: 296
Genre: Suspense/Romance/Humor

BOOK BLURB:
Author Lara Reznik blends suspense, romance, and humor in her latest novel, BAGELS & SALSA (http://www.larareznik.com/bagels-and-salsa). Loosely based on Reznik’s life, the story of Laila and Eduardo highlights the turmoil that surfaces when a Jewish sociologist from New York and a Hispanic doctor from rural New Mexico fall hard and fast for each other. Their blossoming relationship develops against the backdrop of terror the Son of Sam created in New York City during the summer of 1977.
Early reviews of BAGELS & SALSA praise the story’s dynamic plot and colorful characters:
“The author tells a simple love story, but she structures the novel to provide a panoramic view of her characters” (Kirkus Reviews).
“Another lovely read from Lara Reznik! . . . As with all her novels there are also plenty of fun subplot twists and turns. I wanted more.”  (Barbara Gaines, Former Executive Producer of The Late Show with David Letterman).
BAGELS & SALSA opens at a high school assembly hall in a rough part of the Bronx where Laila Levin is giving her first postdoctorate presentation on the US teen pregnancy epidemic. Her fear of public speaking and a chance encounter with the Son of Sam unravel her as several loud bangs crack through the air. Laila falls on the stage and injures her right shoulder. Fortunately, Dr. Eduardo Quintana jumps into action.
What begins as a playful flirtation while Laila recovers in the hospital propels into a more serious relationship with the handsome doctor. Their mutual passion is so intense that it stuns them both. The unlikely pair share strong family values and an interest in teen pregnancy prevention. After a brief courtship, Eduardo persuades Laila to accompany him to his family’s ranch near Española, New Mexico, where he plans to open a family practice. The rural town has one of the highest pregnancy rates in North America: the perfect place for Laila’s research.          
Once in New Mexico, Laila is blatantly rejected by Sylvia, Eduardo’s controlling mother. Sylvia wants Eduardo to marry Violet, his high school sweetheart, who has recently returned to New Mexico after a failed flight attendant career and a walk on the dark side of Hollywood. Violet’s mother and Sylvia cook up a plan to send Laila packing and reunite their children. The Quintanas hold a large pig roast and invite a menagerie of tattooed cousins, rodeo stars, and mariachis. And the drop-dead gorgeous Violet makes a grand entrance.
In the midst of the pandemonium that results, a shocking family secret is revealed, and Laila and Eduardo’s love for each other is severely tested. Can their relationship survive the fierce clash of cultures, the murderous intentions of a Son of Sam copycat who has stalked Laila from New York City, and their own uncertainties about the upheavals that their union will cause in their lives?
Reznik’s first goal in writing BAGELS & SALSA is to entertain readers. However, she says, “On a more thematic level, I’d like readers to think about the importance of embracing religious, ethnic, and cultural differences, which have been at the core of so much conflict in the world.”

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Describe your writing process. Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants? When and where do you write?

For years I’ve been both a participant and facilitator of numerous author groups, writing classes, conferences and social gatherings of writers. The topic of how much time and energy is spent plotting out a book versus writing “by the seat of your pants” inevitably becomes a lively debate and even a polarizing discussion.

On one side, there are authors that come from former careers as engineers, scientists, programmers or accountants. Generally, they write pages of outlines, detailed character sketches, and complex structure synopses utilizing techniques of writing gurus such as Dwight Swain (Technique of the Selling Writer), Christopher Vogler (The Hero’s Journey), and/or John Truby (The Anatomy of a Story). These are just a few popular methods used to help authors plan their novels.

While there’s much to be said about spending days, weeks, and months developing detailed plot outlines and analysis of each character’s journey, this method doesn’t work for everyone. One down side is if the author changes the course of the plot while implementing the notes into prose, everything following is then rendered useless. Also, taking months to develop detailed outlines can take away from the passion and momentum an author feels when they first have an idea for a book. One author friend of mine became so sympathetic with his antagonist, that she ended up morphing into a co-protagonist forcing the author to scrap pages and pages of analysis and begin the whole process all over again.

On the other side of the spectrum, many writers, (often from literary, artistic or entrepreneurial backgrounds) prefer to skip all the above and take a more simplified approach. Generally, this includes brainstorming an idea and writing a rough draft as a stream of consciousness. Many famous authors such as Khalad Hoessini and the late Tony Hillerman claim to write their novels without much planning or outline at all.

Like most novices, when I wrote my first novel I used the “seat of my pants” method without planning much in advance. Later, after studying the craft of writing, participating in critique groups and working with professional editors, I ended up throwing out more than half of the first draft because it didn’t have a coherent plot let alone a story structure. Also, many of the subplots took the reader down rabbit trails that led nowhere.

After four decades as an author, I’ve discovered the method that works best for me is somewhere in between writing by the seat of my pants and creating complex outlines and deep analysis. It works something like this:

·        Novel idea:  generally comes from current news, or a historical event, an incident from my own life, or someone else’s life.
·        Research: I gather all types of research on the time period, the setting, and develop sketches for each character including many details of their lives that may or may not be in the story. For instance, it helps to know where a character grew up, what type of childhood they had, level of education, marital status, etc.
·        Outline: I develop a series of scenes and or chapters with very short synopses of the plot in each one. You can have multiple scenes in a chapter or each scene can be a chapter.
·        Technique: I utilize Dwight Swain’s Technique of the Selling Writer which breaks each chapter into “scenes” and “sequels.” Each scene consists of real time action including action and dialog, the POV character’s goal and conflict. I try to end with some type of disaster or call it a “hook” to keep readers engaged. The scene is followed by a “sequel” that includes the character’s reaction, dilemma and decision to the action.
·        When I’ve completed the first draft, I submit it to my critique group for peer review. Inevitably, this results in revising ideas, developmental editing, and rewriting. Once I’ve implemented all of the changes and edit the manuscript to a point that is as good as I can get it, I submit it to my “editing team,” a group of fellow authors and retired English teachers to copy edit the manuscript. Last but not least, I hire a professional proof reader for the final polish.

If you’re serious about becoming an author, it behooves you to study the craft of writing. Read books on writing, attend a course at a local college or online, and join a critique group. Know the rules before you try and break them. Although writing is not a paint-by-number endeavor, the more you understand about structure ahead of time the better your first draft will be, and the less work you’ll need to do in subsequent revisions. Bottom line, do it your way because guess what?  There is no right way, just the way things work best for you.

One last piece of advice that was passed on to me by my professor, Rudolfo Anaya (My Blessed Ultima). He said, “A writer writes.” Every weekday morning following breakfast and an hour of exercise, I sit down at the computer in my office and write until about 4pm.

Can you tell us about your most recent release?
Bagels & Salsa is a multicultural suspense novel about two cultures colliding when a Jewish woman from New York falls in love with a Latino doctor from rural New Mexico.
Set in the summer of 1977 as the Son of Sam terrorizes New York City, Laila Levin, meets the dashing Dr. Eduardo Quintana while presenting post doctorate research on the epidemic problem of U.S. teenage pregnancies. What begins as a playful flirtation propels into a more serious relationship. Their mutual passion is so intense, that after a brief courtship, Eduardo invites her to accompany him to his family ranch in New Mexico where their relationship is tested by Eduardo’s controlling mother who blatantly rejects Laila, his drop dead gorgeous ex-girlfriend who recently returned after a walk on the dark side of Hollywood, and a Son of Sam copycat who has stalked Laila cross-country. 
In the midst of the pandemonium that results, a shocking family secret is revealed and the question becomes can their relationship survive the fierce clash of cultures, the murderous intentions of a Son of Sam copycat, Eduardo’s mother’s rejection, and their own uncertainties about the upheaval that their union will have on their lives.
How did you get the idea for the book?
 
Bagels &Salsa evolved from a screenplay I wrote in 2001 that was a finalist in a Writer’s Digest contest. Since numerous fans of my bestselling suspense novel, The Girl From Long Guyland, wanted to learn more about the relationship of Laila, the Jewish protagonist, and Eduardo, her Hispanic husband, I adapted the semi-autobiographical screenplay into Laila and Eduardo’s love story. 
Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?
My favorite character is almost always my antagonist. It’s fascinating for me to explore the mind of a narcissistic, egotistical and/or pathological individual. In Bagels & Salsa the antagonist, is Violet, Eduardo’s ex-girlfriend who left Espanola after high school for the bright lights of Hollywood. Violet returns to New Mexico after failing as both a flight attendant and an actress and is hooked on cocaine and prescription drugs. She joins her mother and Eduardo’s in a plan to rid themselves of Laila and win him back for herself.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?  

This is the first novel I’ve ever written that contains a lot of humor. It’s a daunting task to write humor as I had no idea if people would get my jokes. I’ve gained a new respect for stand-up comedians who put themselves out there every night and often get heckled if members of the audience don’t find the material funny.
What projects are you currently working on? 

 I’m currently writing another psychological thriller based on a real-life murder mystery. Truth is stranger than fiction and I couldn’t make up a more spellbinding plot or create more devious characters than the true story of a Manson-like con man; his jealous mistress, a professed alien queen; and a salt-of the-earth soccer dad, surrounding the mysterious disappearance of a beautiful Japanese bank teller.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Authors To Watch: Nadia Natali, Author of Stairway to Paradise



Nadia Natali, author of the memoir, Stairway to Paradise: Growing Up Gershwin, published by Rare Bird, Los Angeles, 2015, and The Blue Heron Ranch Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from a Zen Retreat Center published by North Atlantic Books, Berkeley CA, 2008, is currently working on a second cookbook titled Zafu Kitchen Cookbook. 
           
Natali, a clinical psychotherapist and dance therapist, specializes in trauma release through somatic work. She earned a master’s degree from Hunter College in New York City in Dance/Movement Therapy and completed another masters degree in clinical psychology with an emphasis in somatic psychology at the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute. Nadia is a registered practitioner of Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (RCST) and is also a certified Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP) who trained with Peter Levine.
DanceMedicine Workshops is Natali’s creation where participants move through their trauma with dialogue and dance. She also offers the Ojai community, DanceMedicine Journeys. In addition to her private practice, Nadia and her husband offer Zen Retreats at their center.
Born into a famous family that was riddled with dysfunction, Nadia Natali made the choice to turn her life inside out and step away from fame and fortune. Against her parents’ consent she married an artist and moved to the remote wilderness in California. It was there that she found grounding as she and her husband raised and homeschooled their three children and opened a retreat center. As she gathered her own momentum, she enrolled in a doctorate program finally becoming a clinical psychotherapist specializing in psychosomatic work. She and her husband live in Ojai California.

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Q: Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  When did you come up with the idea to write your book?
A number of years ago a good friend who teaches writing at UCLA said to me, “You ought to write a memoir you have such an interesting story to tell”. I’d been thinking of it and her suggestion confirmed my impulse to write. I joined her weekly writing group and found it daunting as I listened to the other professional writers’ read their pages. After months of feeling painfully inadequate I stopped participating and wrote the rest of the book at home. Luckily my friend was very encouraging and without all those listeners I realized I was better off working on my own.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?
It took many years to write, Stairway to Paradise: Growing Up Gershwin. In some way I felt I had a hand at my back that pushed me through the whole process. It was very hard work but for me there was little or no resistance. You really need to want to do it; if there is any doubt I imagine the process could be agonizing.
Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?
Initially I self-published then I sent out the book to various agencies.  The agency that took my book was also a publisher, Rare Bird Books. After our initial agreement I asked if they would publish my memoir if I helped fund the printing. They agreed and revised the whole book. They did some PR but it was not enough. They told me recently that the distributors and bookstores really like the book but no one knows about it. Few people go in asking for it. My publisher said I needed to get out and sell it to people. I have no idea how to do that. I am not good using social media and needed to find someone to help me
Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?
My first book, The Blue Heron Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from a Zen Retreat Center, was published by North Atlantic Books. I was disappointed with what little effort they put out to publicize it.
Q: What other books are you working on and when will they be published?
I am working on anther cookbook called, Zafu Kitchen: Recipes for Better Health.
I may self-publish again.
Q: What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?
The memoir reveals how the values of our society cause deep discontent and is fundamentally contrary to our deepest hopes and needs.
Q: Finally, what message are you trying to get across with your book?
Fame and money are not a good formula for happiness. I grew up in a family with great fame and with plenty of money. As a young adult I distanced myself from them in search of a more wholesome life. In my journey I learned that personal integrity, authenticity and inner authority were my means to a much more satisfactory life. I was surprised to find that the most effective way to uncover these attributes was through the somatic, the internal sensations, rather than through the thinking mind.

About the Book:
Title: STAIRWAY TO PARADISE: GROWING UP GERSHWIN
Author: Nadia Natali
Publisher: RareBird Books
Pages: 304
Genre: Memoir
BOOK BLURB:
Growing up as Frankie Gershwin's daughter, the sister of George and Ira Gershwin, was quite a challenge. I didn't have the perspective to realize that so much unhappiness in a family was out of the ordinary. But I knew something was off. My mother was often depressed and my father was tyrannical and scary, one never knew when he would blow up. I learned early on that I had to be the cheery one, the one to fix the problems. Both sides of my family were famous; the Gershwin side and my father who invented color film. But even though there was more than enough recognition, money and parties I understood that wasn't what made people happy.
As a young adult adrift and depressed I broke from that unsatisfactory life by marrying Enrico Natali, a photographer, deeply immersed in his own questions about life. We moved into the wilderness away from what we considered as the dysfunction of society. That’s when we discovered that life had other kinds of challenges: flood, fire, rattlesnakes, mountain lions and bears. We lived in a teepee for more than four years while building a house. Curiously my mother never commented on my life choice. She must have realized on some level that her own life was less than satisfactory.
Enrico had developed a serious meditation practice that had become a kind of ground for him. As for me I danced. Understanding the somatic, the inner body experience, became my way to shift the inner story.
We raised and homeschooled our three children. I taught them to read, Enrico taught them math. The kids ran free, happy, always engaged, making things, and discovering. We were so sure we were doing the right thing. However, we didn't have a clue how they would make the transition to the so-called ‘real world’. The children thrived until they became teenagers. They then wanted out. Everything fell apart for them and for Enrico and me. Our lives were turned upside down, our paradise lost. There was tragedy: our son lost his life while attempting to cross our river during a fierce storm. Later I was further challenged by advanced breast cancer.
It was during these times that I delved deeply into the somatic recesses of myself. I began to find my own voice, a long learning process. I emerged with a profound trust in my own authority. It became clear that everyone has to find his or her way through layers of inauthenticity, where a deep knowing can develop. And I came to see that is the best anyone can offer to the world.
Enrico and I still live in the wilds of the Lost Padres National Forest, a paradise with many steps going up and down, a life I would not change.

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Monday, March 19, 2018

Authors To Watch: Ashley Warren, Author of Survivors' Dawn





Diana Forbes is a 9th generation American, with ancestors on both sides of the Civil War. Diana Forbes lives and writes in Manhattan. When she is not cribbing chapters, Diana Forbes loves to explore the buildings where her 19th Century American ancestors lived, loved, survived and thrived. Prior to publication, Diana Forbes’s debut won 1st place in the Missouri Romance Writers of America (RWA) Gateway to the Best Contest for Women’s Fiction. A selection from the novel was a finalist in the Wisconsin RWA “Fab Five” Contest for Women’s Fiction. Mistress Suffragette won 1st place in the Chanticleer Chatelaine Award’s Romance and Sensual category, and was shortlisted for the Somerset Award in Literary Fiction. Mistress Suffragette won Silver in the North American Book Awards and was a Winner of the Book Excellence Awards for Romance. Mistress Suffragette was also a Kirkus Best Indies Book of 2017. The author is passionate about vintage clothing, antique furniture, ancestry, and vows to master the quadrille in her lifetime. Diana Forbes is the author of New York Gilded Age historical fiction.

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Title: MISTRESS SUFFRAGETTE
Author: Diana Forbes
Publisher: Penmore Press
Pages: 392
Genre: Romance/Historical Fiction/Victorian/Political/NY Gilded Age Fiction

BOOK BLURB:
A young woman without prospects at a ball in Gilded Age Newport, Rhode Island is a target for a certain kind of “suitor.” At the Memorial Day Ball during the Panic of 1893, impoverished but feisty Penelope Stanton quickly draws the unwanted advances of a villainous millionaire banker who preys on distressed women—the incorrigible Mr. Daggers. Better known as the philandering husband of the stunning socialite, Evelyn Daggers, Edgar stalks Penelope.

Skilled in the art of flirtation, Edgar is not without his charms, and Penelope is attracted to him against her better judgment. Meanwhile a special talent of Penelope’s makes her the ideal candidate for a paying job in the Suffrage Movement.

In a Movement whose leaders are supposed to lead spotless lives, Penelope’s torrid affair with Mr. Daggers is a distraction and early suffragist Amy Adams Buchanan Van Buren, herself the victim of a faithless spouse, urges Penelope to put an end to it. But can she?

Searching for sanctuary in three cities, Penelope will need to discover her hidden reserves of courage and tenacity. During a glittering age where a woman’s reputation is her most valuable possession, Penelope must decide whether to compromise her principles for love.

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At what age did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I was always writing from the age of 5. When I was 6 I started keeping a diary, like Harriet the Spy. After that, I wrote poems, followed by articles for my school paper. By the time I was in college I knew I wanted to be a writer.

Do you take notes when reading or watching a movie?

Yes! I mark up every book I ever read with Post-It notes and underscores. When friends want to lend me a book, I tell them “Don’t lend it to me. Give it to me. Because If I have to give it back to you it will be unrecognizable.”

Has writing always been a passion for you or did you discover it years later?

I always knew I wanted to be a writer. The issue was: what form would the writing take, and was I brave enough to tackle fiction?


Can you name three writing tips to pass on to aspiring authors?

I am a big believer in Stephen King’s idea of “putting your butt I in the chair and just writing.” I write for 5 hours a day, and try for 7 or 8. It is true that you have to build up your writing muscle. Some writers I know do it by pages, but for me the number of hours per day is a better predictor of success. But when I am done, I am done! I have a separate office that I commute to, and once I am finished for the day I try to leave the writing behind. One thing that has also helped me is taking writing classes. I take two in-person writing classes a week, every week.

Do you let unimportant things get in the way of your writing?

Sometimes I try to take the emotion of it and put that in my writing. Unimportant things can inform your writing without hurting your writing or your writing schedule.

What hours do you write best?

I am a morning writer. By 6 p.m. it’s time to hit the gym!

How often do you write?

Every day, including Saturday and Sunday.


Thursday, March 15, 2018

Welcome Reluctant Stranger by Evy Journey



WELCOME RELUCTANT STRANGER by Evy Journey, Multicultural Women's Fiction, 314 pp., $12.50 (Paperback) $2.99 (Kindle edition)




Title: WELCOME RELUCTANT STRANGER
Author: Evy Journey
Publisher: Sojourner Books
Pages: 314
Genre: Multicultural Women’s Fiction


What happens when a brokenhearted computer nerd and culinary whiz gets rescued by a relationship phobic psychologist with a past that haunts her? For Leilani and Justin, it’s an attraction they can’t deny but which each is reluctant to pursue. More so for Leilani whose family had to flee their troubled country when she was only nine.

Leilani is focused on leaving the past behind, moving forward. But when she learns the truth behind her family’s flight—the shocking, shameful secret about her father’s role in a deadly political web—she is devastated.

Is her father a hero or a villain?  Can she deal with the truth?

But the past is impossible to run away from. Together with Justin, she must get her father out of her former home. Can she forgive her father, accept him for what he is? And can she reconnect with her roots and be at peace with who she is?

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https://www.amazon.com/Mistress-Suffragette-Diana-Forbes-ebook/dp/B06XG3G2TF




Prologue: Roots
If you could see heat, you would see it that day rising from the concrete paving in the schoolyard, colliding with rays plummeting from the sun. The light was blinding, the heat oppressive.
The schoolyard was unlike most others on this tiny island on the Pacific. A concrete wall, eight-feet high and topped with countless pieces of broken glass embedded into the concrete, surrounded both the school and the perimeter of the 30,000 square foot yard. A young woman fully covered—except for her face and hands—in the white habit of a Catholic novice, circled the yard, watching pupils play.
About a hundred girls, ages six to eleven, clad in dark blue skirts and white shirts with peter pan collars loosely tied with wide, dark blue bows, formed groups around three or four games. Despite the buzz of activity, no one shouted, shrieked, or raised a ruckus.
The girls ignored the heat as they played in the few minutes they had for recess. All, except one girl. She sat in the shade, smiling, content with observing everyone else, and enjoying the light breeze that blew now and then.
Younger girls hovered around rectangular hopscotch courses drawn with chalk on the cemented yard. Some older pupils ran games of tag but the majority, along with a few younger ones, waited in a long line to take their turn at jumping rope.
From a slatted wooden bench, Leilani watched the game with cool interest until her best friend, Myrna, ran into the arc of the spinning rope to join another girl from her class. Leilani leaned forward.
Two girls, each holding one end of the rope, swung vigorously down, sideways, up, and around over and over. The rope whirled so fast that all Leilani saw was an elliptical form pinched at its ends, like a sausage bulging in the middle. Inside, the girls jumped, as fast and as high as they could to evade the whirling rope. If they got their feet caught, they lost and had to get out. The player who lasted longest won.
Myrna was good at it, maybe the best. She skipped like a fawn and could outlast everyone else Leilani had seen. Before long, the other girl gave up and yielded her place to another. Leilani clapped hard for her friend, a wide smile wiping away the pout on her lips.
“Why aren’t you with the other girls, Leilani?”
Leilani turned as Sister Young sat on the bench next to her. Sister Young was the newest novice who alternated with another novice, Sister Mariano, in watching the children in the schoolyard. Leilani liked Sister Mariano better. She had a nicer smile and she spoke in a soft, sweet voice. Sister Young, tall, thin, light-skinned, and sharp-featured, looked like she disapproved of everyone. And she was too nosy.
Leilani shrugged, her pout returning, as she turned her attention back to the girls skipping rope.
“Is anything wrong, Leilani?”
“No. It’s too hot to play.”
“Your classmates don’t seem to think so. Myrna looks like she’s having fun.”
“Myrna likes to jump rope better than school.”
Sister Young chuckled. “I can understand that. When I was your age, I preferred running around with my brothers than playing with my dolls or reading. But what about you? What do you like to do best?”
“Watch people.”
“Is there much fun in that?” Sister Young sounded as if she believed the opposite.
Leilani shrugged again. The novice said nothing more for a few minutes.
Myrna jumped out of the spinning rope, yielding her place to a girl who had just joined her in it. Standing outside the arc of the rope, she swiped her arm across her face and wiped it on her shirt. She ambled to the side and dropped her butt down next to one of the girls swinging the rope.
“She must be tired,” Leilani mumbled to herself, sitting back on the bench and sticking her lower lip out farther.
Sister Young said, “What did you say?”
“Nothing.”
“How’s your family doing, Leilani?”
“Fine.”
“Sister Mariano told me your father is a doctor who’s part of the team that takes care of the president. You must be very proud of him.”
“He’s no better than other doctors.”
“But he must be pretty good to be on the team. Do you see him much? I know doctors can’t keep regular working hours like others do.”
“I see him enough.”
“What about your mother?”
“Mamá is Mamá.”
“Does she work?”
Leilani scowled. “She paints her nails different colors every day and fills lots of vases with flowers.” She knew no one who worked, among the mothers of her classmates. She added, “We have maids who do the housework.”
“Like all the families of the other children here, I’m sure.”
Leilani turned toward Sister Young. “Didn’t you have maids when you lived at home?”
“No. I learned to clean and cook by the time I was your age.”
Leilani stared at the young novice. She wanted to say something nice to her, but what? Cooking and cleaning at her age—nine years old—seemed like punishment. How did a child tell someone older and able to order them around that she was sorry? She reached her hand out to touch Sister Young, but remembered that school rules did not allow touching between teachers and pupils. So, she regarded her in sympathy and the novice acknowledged it with gratitude in her eyes.
The bell rang, announcing the end of recess. Leilani jumped up from the bench. Although she felt close to Sister Young for a few moments, she was relieved to be free of her. She joined Myrna in the line for girls from her class.
“Oh, Myrna, you’re sweating into your white shirt. Your uniform has stains on it.”
“Yes, lucky our skirt is dark. I’m sure it’s dirtier than my white shirt.”
“Is that why you stopped skipping rope?”
“Yeah, but it’s too hot, anyway.”
“The stains—will your Mamá be angry with you?”
Myrna shrugged. “She doesn’t care. But Nana will give me a scolding. You’re lucky your parents didn’t get you a Nana.”
Leilani crinkled her nose. She had once asked her father for one. “No. Mamá thinks she and no else should take care of us. I’ll bet she’s stricter than your Nana.”
“Keep it down, girls,” Sister Young said as she led the line of girls back into the school.
Everyone stopped talking as they entered the classroom where Sister Lourdes, their math teacher, waited. A middle-aged nun with a thin face, whose smiling eyes had etched upward creases on the corners, she was kind but she inspired awe. Her pupils knew quite well what that set to her jaw meant: She was determined to make them as proficient, if not better, in math as boys. She followed up on her mission by rigorous training, starting each day with written exercises on lessons and homework of the previous day.
Leilani calculated that she spent more time studying math than other subjects, although literature was her favorite. She wanted to please Sister Lourdes.
A quarter of an hour later, only the scratching of pencils on paper and the swishing of the nun’s habit, as she paced between desks, could be heard in the room. The class was absorbed doing the written arithmetic exercise of the day. Every second pupil or so, Sister Lourdes peered discreetly down the girl’s back to gauge her progress.
Leilani sensed the nun’s presence behind her. She bent lower over her work. She had solved two-thirds of the problems halfway through the allotted time but she did not want her teacher to see her progress until she finished. A soft knock on the door saved her from the sister’s watchful eyes. The nun hurried to the front of the classroom. Leilani sighed in relief.
A low but excited buzz of voices broke the relative quiet of the room as Leilani and many other girls raised their heads from their work. Before Sister Lourdes reached the door, it swung open and the principal entered. Behind her, a visitor walked in, partly hidden by the principal’s layers of black and white habit.
The principal once said she was anxious not to disrupt lessons, so she rarely came to their classrooms. She had meant to reassure them of her unwavering interest in growing their minds. Instead, she aroused curiosity and anxiety when she did come—reactions that grew more acute when she brought a visitor along.
A visitor meant some pupil was going to be singled out, taken out of the classroom for some shameful or unhappy reason in her family. If she had a problem having to do with school, she usually had to go to the principal’s office. That was the rarest event of all, and it caused greater shame.
“Mamá,” Leilani muttered, when the visitor came out in full view from behind the principal. Her mother picked her and her sister, Carmen, up when school was over, but she never entered the school grounds. She waited in her car.
She was staring at her now, her lips pressed into a line, as if she was holding back an urge to cry or to shout. Deep creases on her brow cast shadows on her eyes. Something disturbed her. Something terribly wrong.
Leilani turned toward the huddled heads of the principal and Sister Lourdes who had been talking in hushed voices. She thought, they’re talking too long, as she put the stubby end of her pencil in her mouth, and bit on it so hard that the eraser broke off.
She spat the broken piece in her hand and looked around at her classmates, their faces animated with malicious delight. They were relishing the little drama unfolding before them, squirming with anticipation for what was to follow.
She knew what it was like, watching and waiting for trouble to fall on another. But the visitor was her mother and she looked much too worried.
Before long, the principal stepped back and Sister Lourdes faced the class. Leilani knew what was coming. She held her breath. Today was her turn—the unfortunate girl drawn into a familiar scenario, the butt of the week’s jokes for her often bored classmates. She had known it would come, and though she was sure it was impossible, she wished she could will it away.
Later that afternoon, they would gossip. Taunt arrogant, aloof Leilani, finally pulled down from her pedestal by the disgrace of being taken out of the class by her nervous mother.
Her teacher said, “Leilani, please gather all your things and give me your work. I’ll grade whatever you finish. You must go with your mother at once.”
To Leilani’s relief, instead of the whispered guessing and curious stares she had anticipated, her classmates hushed up. Maybe, like her, they sensed something terrible. Their teacher spoke in a tone they had never heard before, a tone so solemn that her usual calm demeanor seemed as troubled as her mother’s.
Leilani seized pencils, books, and notebooks off her desk and hastily stuffed them in her bag. Her arms were trembling and she could not zip up her bag. She picked it up, hugging it close to her chest.
Myrna, who sat behind her, leaned over and said, “Call me tonight.”
Leilani nodded without turning toward her friend. She marched, head straight and gaze forward, toward the waiting adults.
Sister Lourdes lightly tapped the top of her head. “Don’t worry. I’ll take the number of right answers you gave against the total number you finished. That’s fair, don’t you think?”
Leilani nodded.
“Thank you, Sister Lourdes,” her mother said. “Let’s hope she can come back to school tomorrow. She doesn’t like to miss any of her classes.”
“You’re welcome, Mrs. Torres. And don’t worry about Leilani’s progress. She catches up very quickly. I’ll give her extra exercises, but I don’t think she’ll need them. I hope things turn out all right for your family.”
Leilani felt her mother’s hand pushing her toward the door. She was impatient to be out of there.
*****
In the car, her older sister Carmen waited in the front passenger seat. They bobbed their heads in greeting.
Leilani threw her schoolbag on the back seat and climbed in. She was dying to know what was going on, but she knew better than to ask. They hardly ever talked in the car. Their mother insisted on silence while she was driving.
She and Carmen needed only one incident to learn that their mother meant what she said. One day, they continued their banter after she told them to stop. Without warning, she slammed on the brakes and Carmen, who always took the front seat, hit her head on the dashboard. Leilani fell on the floor. Carmen sported a bump on her head for days after that.
Leilani was impatient to be home, certain that her sister knew what was going on. Unlike her, Carmen could coax things out of their mother. She would not hold anything back, eager to show Leilani that their mother trusted her and liked her better. Leilani refused to believe her sister, but conceded that because Carmen was thirteen—nearly a young woman—their mother told her grown-up things.
For now, Leilani would play her waiting game.  She tried to calm down, but her resolve lasted only until her mother turned at a street. She could not hold her tongue then.
“This isn’t the way home. Where are we going?”
Neither her sister nor her mother answered and all she could do was wait to see where her mother was taking them. She scooted close to the window and watched all the buildings they were passing by.
A while later, she heard the drone of planes flying low above them and recognized the streets they were on. She knew it. They were off to a place away from home. She was not about to be dragged away, without knowing why.
“We’re near the airport. What’s going on? Are we going somewhere?”
Her sister said, “Just shut up, will you? You’re getting on my nerves.”
Carmen was quick to notice and use their mother’s expressions. “Getting on my nerves” was their mother’s way of telling her children to go away. Leilani heard it often enough that she could tell from the way she glared and parted her lips that her mother was about to say it. Leilani learned to walk away before she could utter those words.
But, trapped for the moment, she could only comply.
At the airport, Mrs. Torres parked the car in a ten-minute zone and said, “Get all your things. Don’t leave anything in the car and keep quiet until we’re out of here.”
She went to the back of the car and took two suitcases out, one large and the other small. She banged the trunk close but did not bother to lock the car, as she usually did.
“What about Papá and Rudy?” Leilani cried. Were they escaping? But where to and why? And from what?
Again, neither her mother nor her sister answered. Her mother handed Carmen the small suitcase. Carmen handed Leilani her schoolbag.
As she rushed alongside her mother and sister inside the airport building, she began to imagine stories about escaping and became excited at the idea of it. Her heart raced and her whole body tingled. They were off on an adventure. Any adventure was welcome. She had so little of it in school, and less at home.
Walking briskly, carrying two schoolbags heavy with books, she sweated profusely. Her arms ached and her legs groaned. The air conditioning helped, but that was over too soon. They passed through the building before she could cool down.
Out in the sun, their mother ran in front of them, toward a small plane waiting on the tarmac. She looked back at them and shouted, “Run, you two. You move like turtles.”
Her mother was actually laughing, as if she shared and enjoyed her fantasy that they were about to embark on a great adventure.
Leilani was bewildered. The fear in her mother’s eyes and her mouth had been palpable not only when she stared at her inside the classroom, but also when she drove towards the airport, gripping the steering wheel so tight that, from the back passenger seat, Leilani could see the muscles in her arms twitching.
Leilani and Carmen ran faster, laughing, infected by their mother’s mirth. Leilani felt light and carefree. Everything was going to be all right. But the feeling lasted only a few short minutes.
Before they reached the plane, she saw a man she remembered seeing with her father once. He was a big man with alert, suspicious eyes that Leilani found menacing. He waited for them at the foot of the steps to the plane.
He took the suitcase from her mother’s hand and said, “I’m sorry, Mrs. Torres, I couldn’t get him out. Rudy is waiting for you inside the plane. He’s in the front row.”
The laughter died from her mother’s face and deep worry crept back on her brow. The man was clearly talking about her father. Something awful was going on and no one was telling them anything about it. She had to find out what it was.
Inside the plane, she spotted her brother sitting on an aisle seat. He stood to let her and Carmen pass to the seats next to him. As was Carmen’s habit on a bus, a train, or a plane, she claimed the window seat and Leilani had to content herself with the place wedged between her and Rudy. At least her brother, the oldest among them, liked her better than Carmen. He would tell her what was going on.
Her mother took the aisle seat across from Rudy. He helped her place the small luggage Carmen carried in the compartment above her.
Before she sat down, she reached out silently, reassuring each of them with a tender pat on their hands. But Leilani caught the sadness in her eyes.
Rudy sat down again and buckled himself in place.
Leilani said in a soft subdued voice, “Where’s Papá?”
“He couldn’t come. But he should follow us soon.”
“What’s going on, Rudy? Where are we going?”
“I don’t know any more than you do. The guy you saw by the steps? I know him. He picked me up at school, said he had a letter from Papá to me. But I wasn’t supposed to open it until after we get to where we’re going. It’s in my jacket pocket. Then, he brought me here without telling me anything more.”
“Are we escaping? Is Papá in trouble?”
“Why do you say that?”
Leilani pouted and scowled. “Because … Why doesn’t anyone say anything and why is everything so mysterious? Can’t you open the letter now?”
Rudy shook his head. “No! You’ll have to wait, like me.”
“Does Mamá know what’s going on?”
“She must, but you know Mamá. She thinks her main role is to protect Papá, at all costs.”
“But why does Papá need protecting? Did he do something wrong?”
“I’m as clueless as you about this,” Rudy said, scowling and getting irritated.
“What about my clothes? My dolls? I promised to call Myrna.”
“I think Mamá might have brought a few clothes in that big suitcase.”
“But where’s that suitcase?”
“The stewardess put it away on a luggage rack. Now, Lani, will you shut up until we get to wherever we’re headed?”
Leilani pouted again, leaned back against the seat, and closed her eyes. She was going to sleep if nobody wanted to talk to her. Still, she did not give up that easily. She would find out somehow.
Not long after, she felt her brother’s hand on her arm. He whispered in her ear.
“I’ll tell you this, though you won’t like it. Be prepared. For anything.”
“Why?” She tried to whisper but her shrill voice rose above the whirr of the plane.
“Shhh! I don’t know much, but I’ve seen and heard enough. We’re not going back home. Ever. No more Myrna. And you’ll have to make do with the few clothes Mamá packed for you until Papá comes.”





Evy Journey, SPR (Self Publishing Review) Independent Woman Author awardee, is a writer, a wannabe artist, and a flâneuse. Her pretensions to being a flâneuse means she wishes she lives in Paris where people have perfected the art of aimless roaming. She’s lived in Paris few times as a transient.
She's a writer because beautiful prose seduces her and existential angst continues to plague her even though such preoccupations have gone out of fashion. She takes occasional refuge by invoking the spirit of Jane Austen and spinning tales of love, loss, and finding one’s way—stories into which she weaves mystery or intrigue and sets in various locales.
In a previous life, armed with a Ph.D. and fascinated by the psyche, she researched and shepherded  the development of mental health programs. And wrote like an academic. Not a good thing if you want to sound like a normal person. So, she began to write fiction (mostly happy fiction) as an antidote.
Her latest book is Welcome Reluctant Stranger.

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