Category Archives: Guest Post

Guest Post: What You Love Will Get You Through by Kate Brenton

I have always been a doer and banked on working my way through anything, but how effective that is change throughout life. My first hint was at 41 years old and a few weeks away from delivering my first and only child, when my midwife was packing up her bag from our visit, she looked over her shoulder to say, “You know it’s good for moms to have things to do that are just theirs.”

I nodded.

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“You, know,” she mindfully continued, “some Moms have to work, and some moms choose to work and it’s not so much the money at times, but what you get back for doing something that you really love to do, or just like to do, but it is something for you.”

“Uh-huh,” I smile. I am so naive in this moment I can only esoterically nod at what she was saying; I cannot really understand the lifeline she has thrown me before she walks out the door that day, but I bet she did. 

My son came into this world fully loaded with fire and change; his arrival opened a new era, and all change brings some dissolution. We can be surprised in the form, but as we journey forward in years we can start to sense those waves of change coming.

“You should start a podcast,” my sweet and reliable friend Joe told me one day out of the blue.

“What? I have a baby. I have no time,” I retorted.

“It’s not that hard and I think you would really enjoy it. Our podcast together has the highest ratings,” he continued. “And I could share my equipment with you..”

“What do you mean highest ratings?” I listened as Joe talked about the numbers on our one off show, and the details of microphones, and the help he was going to give me to get going. Our decades-old friendship had this swinging cadence of uplifting each other, so I was able to entertain this perplexing thought of me starting a podcast with only internal scrutiny because I knew his intentions were pure.

I hemmed and hawed over it. Crafted an intention and an arc, reached out to inspirational people I knew and the Rebirth podcast was born. You know what? I loved it. I loved talking. I loved the microphone. I loved sharing people’s stories. It brought me so much joy. Even when I had to record episodes in my car because the baby was sleeping, and there was no reception in the basement to record. Even when someone asked me how many listeners I had, and I didn’t know 50 downloads an episode was low, because 50 people was a great number for a local talk, which was how I looked at it. The podcast became a respite of creativity in a sea of self-less motherhood.

Life wasn’t in the easiest flow otherwise, and someone said to me, “You spend a lot of time on that podcast and it doesn’t make any money.” 

I was sitting at a table eating, legs crossed, fork in hand; I blinked. I felt a small dip in my stomach, when a voice inside—who I hadn’t heard for awhile—quietly cautioned me that this was not the thing to let go of. Her quietness gave me pause, even as my mind agreed that the podcast was not producing monetarily. I kept a solid face. I gave a non-verbal acknowledgment of the statement and decided to stay the course, with or without support.

About six months later, and I tell this story in the book, an acquaintance calls and tells me she is starting a publishing company and she wants to sign me as an author. I say yes, and again tell no one. If I had no time for a podcast, I certainly didn’t have the resources to write a book, but a someday-author doesn’t say no when the call comes. 

A good six months after the call from my now publisher, I have moved out of the house where I held my fork and my tongue, and I am sitting at a new coffee-table, a single parent with a book contract, immense writer’s block and deafening pressure. I keep going though, unseen and well loved hands, helping along the way. I invite my publisher on to my podcast to share her story of leaps and faith.

She calls me the next day, “Kate, the podcast is the book.”

“What?” I echo.

“You are so good at asking the questions and distilling the essence. I was thinking about it last night and I woke up this morning and realized, the podcast is the book.”

I felt a full body rush of agreement. 

The podcast began on a borrowed microphone in 2018, and the book hit #1 in New Thought on its release day (purposely set on Fall Equinox, a day of balance and harvest) in 2022. The book started as a postpartum project in agreement that sometimes it is good for a person to have and create what they love, to not get lost in the waves of sacrifice. The fire of change and dissolution that came through in my son’s birth, also created fertile soil for the lifelong-someday dream of being a published writer. If I had planned it, I would not have lived the process of growth to become it. 

Do not let go of that which brings you joy, for in the moment when you think there is no way possible, the innate roadmap of your rebirth has already begun making its way to you.

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About the Author

Kate Brenton, author, teacher and mother, helps women connect the dots between their purpose and their passion. Her first book Rebirth: Real-life stories about what happens when you let go and let life lead hit #1 on Amazon for New Thought, and can also be found at your favorite bookseller. Once a high school English teacher, Kate spent seven years in Hawaii learning holistic healing and now braids the power of story — whether in the bones or on the page — to inspire and uplift. She teaches online classes and retreats for spiritual development and inspiration. She also hosts a cohort, Sit & Write for mission-led authors.

Buy the book:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/rebirth-kate-brenton/1142118168?ean=9781953445261

https://www.indiebound.org/search/book?keys=Rebirth+Kate+Brenton

Website: www.katebrenton.com

Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/rebirth-real-life-stories-of-letting-go-and-letting/id1451833998?i=1000581844581

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/katembrenton/?hl=en

Substack: https://katebrenton.substack.com

Bookbubhttps://www.bookbub.com/profile/kate-brenton

Good Reads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/22872643.Kate_Brenton

Guest Post: Paw Prints by Tom Pearson

The creative process is mysterious. For me, it often consists of accumulation/distillation/accumulation, sifting ideas through different iterations and genres (art, poetry, performance). Micro-expressions of a central idea frequently become distinct projects and parts of a larger constellation of work. Along the way, much is gained, but also, sometimes, lost.

There are two stanzas from an early draft of Still, the Sky that aren’t found in the published work; although, traces of them remain. They were composed of an image that volunteered itself, left its mark, and vanished:

   After the first of seven was plucked for the

Feast, the others would set up camp

Around the twists and turns of the pathways,

            Chastity-in-residence,

   And they would plot to meet and spoil themselves,

To love the murder away, but they were kept

Apart, running from the gaze of the creature

            Whose shadow you cast.

   They would meet us from time to time,

Casual encounters, sometimes taking the time

To say what they thought, or how they felt,

            What their days had been.

   One even found a pet, an orange kitten

Who would disappear for days and then follow

As we made rounds, both intimate and mundane;

            She would outlive him.

The first two stanzas remain. The second two are gone, all that mentioned the unnamed victim and the kitten that survived. 

IG story post by @talktheatretome

Still, the Sky is the result of a long process of iterative works over the past few years, different expressions of the characters, themes, and ideas which had their genesis during a theater residency/fellowship in the spring of 2019 with the Bogliasco Foundation in Italy.

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Courtesy of The Bogliasco Foundation; Photo by Laura Bianchi

Before I arrived to the residency, I received a commission from La Jolla Playhouse in California to create a site-specific work for their biennial Without Walls Festival, and so I already knew I would be working with themes of sky and sea, flight and nautical culture. My site in San Diego was a desert labyrinth just beyond the tarmac of the San Diego airport (beneath the flight path, divided by a narrow waterway) and on the grounds of Liberty Station, a formal naval training base. 

Pictured, Andrew Broaddus in Ikaros by Tom Pearson; Photo by Jim Carmody

I also brought to the residency outtakes from The Sandpiper’s Spell (my first published volume) as another set of ideas. Most of the writings were coming-of-age themed or more recent explorations that didn’t have anywhere to go yet. In the first few weeks, I wrote something to bind them structurally and then put them aside for later—but as I began to storyboard ideas for the commission, filling up the walls with my Post-It Notes and columns of associations, I started to see a mythology unfolding through archetypes that would benefit from the specificity of personal experience.

The next series of developments happened over summer, in New York, where I worked with performers. We experimented with choreography, film, and art to find the characters and describe the textures and themes, all in an exhibition at the Ace Hotel New York gallery. Then in October, we premiered the site-specific Ikaros in San Diego. After that, I continued to experiment with performance and material culture, mixing these with virtual reality. These explorations took me into early 2020 as I worked with students and faculty at the Olin College of Engineering where I was in-residence.

But then the pandemic hit, and we were sent into lock down. At that time, I circled back to revise the manuscript further, adding the artwork to the pages. At this stage, the three-dimensionality of the world revealed itself. The many previous micro-expressions of the project had rendered complex characters and rich environments—and reflecting upon the spaces in which I had worked, other elements emerged—for instance, the seagulls in Italy, nesting in the cliffs below my studio. Their mating rituals and fierce protection of their nests, their daily patterns, and the endlessness of sky and sea became dominant images of the main plot. And, in San Diego, an orange kitten also left her mark, shaping the timbre of a subplot.

Throughout the grounds of Liberty Station in San Diego, there was a population who made residence, whether temporarily passing through or on a more semi-permanent basis, in tents or lean-tos. As we were making Ikaros, we were careful not to displace, to be mindful, respectful, and in communication with the denizens of the space. Early on, one of the park residents came through rehearsals to chat with us about the work, the mythology, his observations of us in the site. He carried an orange kitten with him. Later, the kitten would come to rehearsals on her own and sometimes participate. 

There was a particular section with a long spindle of fabric which was unfurled to make the footprint of a labyrinth, and the kitten would stand threateningly at the edge of the rosemary bushes watching this giant ball of string, little shivers rippling along her spine—adding another layer of drama. 

We began to expect her. She started to show up consistently to rehearsals, but by the time we got to performance, she had gone elsewhere, only later to appear in another scene she’d never rehearsed, under full lights and in front of a paying audience. 

We rolled with it, but she stole the scene. She even got some social media coverage.

When the performances were finished, I went back to the poetry, and I took her image with me, writing her into the manuscript. In fact, I took the whole of the experience, the denizens of the space, the rosemary, the sounds, the smells, textures, animals, insects, birds, weather, and flight patterns all into consideration. The specificities of the lived experience were folded into the creative mix to further shape the world of the book.

By the time I arrived at a final draft, the overt mention of the kitten was gone, but her paw prints were all over it in subtle and invisible ways within the text and artwork (“a predator moving in right cycles, leaving us unharmed… treachery in the tall grass…”).

Reflecting later on The Sandpiper’s Spell, I realized the image of a pet outliving a companion was already a seed planted in the poem “Day Dreams.” The idea had carried forward, woven itself into the new work, then out again. Perhaps it will return and make more of itself in whatever I create next. 

I have begun to meditate on what these little threads mean over time, how a body of work forms from the scraps of previous work, how material moves forward and themes reiterate, or ideas sift and fold back together again to create specificity. It becomes a pattern for world building, one iteration at a time. It makes the work larger through the micro-expressions along the way—allowing for volunteer images that might invisibly imprint upon the eventual narrative. 

Little paw prints. 

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Author Tom Pearson Reads Paw Prints

About the Author

Tom Pearson is an artist and poet who works in dance, theater, film, visual art, and multi-media. He is known for his original works for theater, including the long-running, off-Broadway immersive hits THEN SHE FELL and THE GRAND PARADISE and as a founder and co-artistic director of the New York City-based Third Rail Projects and Global Performance Studio.

He is the author of two books, THE SANDPIPER’S SPELL and STILL, THE SKY. More information available at his website and on social media at: tompearsonnyc.com and @tompearsonnyc.

https://tompearsonnyc.com/

Guest Post: The Story Behind The Poem “Unacknowledged” by Author Chelsea DeVries

On March 10, 2020, I sat down and wrote “Unacknowledged,” but before I ever sat down and wrote that poem, I already had so many poems I wrote while working in the toxic workplace.

I began working there as an administrative assistant after Thanksgiving 2018. I recognized that the place was dark and dimly lit and seemed to be full of problems. After the interview, I realized how much I truly did not want to take that job but felt like maybe the difference I made at my last job by being a force for good by choosing kindness and mercy would be something I could extend to this place.

Everyone I know was happy for me as I finally would be working full time following college, but not everything that glitters is actually gold. 

To cope with the harassment and abuse, I would write poems, but a lot of my poems started hinting at something I never saw coming. I was definitely falling in love fast and hard with the young man I had befriended there. 

It was therapeutic to work eight hours a day there and try to do whatever good I could while also have this secret love that no one knew about.

Which was how “Unacknowledged” came to be. I had all these feelings that were basically suppressed instead of expressed, which I understood was the key to my healing. 

Once I sat down and wrote that poem on March 10, 2020, I knew it was time to let this poetry collection pour out of me. 

“Unacknowledged” was 35 stanzas and 738 words. And what came out when I sat down to write this poem is the same poem you read in the collection. I present to you “Unacknowledged.”

Unacknowledged

I shouldn’t be writing this

A psychic told me that

“Nothing would come from this situation.”

A counselor told me not to feed you

With my thoughts or mental energy

I keep thinking about when I put a novel out

Should I acknowledge you and your seasonal

Part in my story?

It’s this persistent picture that

keeps playing in my head.

I see your nickname on the page

Where you dedicate a book to someone.

How do you dedicate a book to someone who blocked you on Facebook?

Ignores your texts?

Never offered an explanation

About why he no longer wanted to be friends with you?

Were you scared that I would beg you to love me?

I am sorry that I left without telling you

Why 

That I would never blame you for the

Bad and evil things I witnessed and experienced

at the hands of someone

with envy in their heart

and greed stuck

between their tongue

and their teeth.

I didn’t know what to say to you

I didn’t know if you would 

Tell me to stay or

be angry With me

Because

I saw them

For who they are

Instead of just pretending

I was dumb, deaf, and blind.

Gone is your musical laugh and the sparkle in your eyes

As you would smirk at me  

With this synchronicity

You thought it was

All a ringless circus too.

The guy in the top hat

The Greatest Showman

No Hugh Jackman

He couldn’t juggle,

Tell jokes,

Or tame a caged lion.

Spitting fire was his one and only talent

As the master of Ceremonies,

The elephant he rode

Would spray water from her trunk

Killing dreams, Hopes, and new ideas

Left and right

Unlike Dumbo,

She was angry because her ringmaster clipped

Her wings and convinced her she couldn’t fly.

Fly she could but he kept her chained.

Chained and dependent on him

for bread, water, and a place to rest her head. 

Yet, he would demean her

Keep her feeling small

So she always had to

Validate herself 

In his eyes only…

It was a dark and dreary

Tim Burton movie

We were a part of

But like Zac Efron and Zendaya

In the Greatest Showman,

The characters we played

Were not convinced

Their love was enough

To make it.

Were you mad that I cared about you

Or were you mad because

there was nothing we could do about it?

Were you mad that I had the courage

And open door to grasp my freedom

Before they hung me

Like the witch they believed me to be?

I did care about you.

I was so thankful for you.

I think you are a beautiful person.

So ordinary but extraordinary all in one person.

So complex

Such an enigma.

To me, you will always be a mystery.

Our timing was neither wrong nor right.

You were good to me.

I encouraged you.

You made me feel heard.

You didn’t look at me

For my body or physique.

Yet, whenever I looked at you

I felt ok to be me.

And for that,

I can’t regret

How I fell for you

With no real

Motive or reason.

I just loved you.

I still love you.

But you won’t talk to me.

So I guess I will write you the dedication

After all.

Because it feels better to acknowledge you

Than pretend you didn’t matter to me.

That you still matter to me.

That I don’t think of you when I listen to Billie Eillish

And remember how I made you laugh because I said she may be a Satanist.

She’s not.

Yet, just the notion of that didn’t make you

Flinch or judge me, and you never forget

Someone like that.

Someone who runs towards you and your outlandishness

Instead of away from it.

Someone who makes you repeat what you said

Even if you mumbled it because it deserved to be

Heard.

Someone who always helped me, talked to me,

And believed in me until you didn’t.

Someone who I miss

Someone who I pray for every single day

Someone like YOU

You have to acknowledge someone like that.

Even if it was only a series of moments

they made an ordinary boring job and 

made it

memorable.

Just the thought of you makes me look back

At those months of my life and smile.

Even with tears in my eyes.

I’ve let you go

 but I just had to let you know  

that I acknowledge

all you were to me and

all I hope you become.

Mr. Suncoast,

This is for you

About the Author

Chelsea DeVries wanted to be a writer at the age of 7. Her first publishing credit came at the age of 14 with a poem in a student anthology. She then wrote nonstop while doing IB classes in high school. She published two YA novels while still in high school which after over 10 years she rewrote as a NA romance that she looks to put out as her next publication. She is a seeker of justice and uses her words to free this world’s outcasted, peculiar, and underdogs from the chains that bind them. When not writing she runs and does PR for authors and musicians with her bookish brand The Smart Cookie Philes. Though she’s Florida born and raised, she has New Jersey in her veins. She currently lives in Port Richey, FL with her squad of two dogs. In October 2020, DeVries was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome which is a form of Autism.

Guest Post: The Art of Brevity: Writing the Novella by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo

In early 2017 I read an enthusiastic review about a newly translated novel by Argentinian author Samanta Schweblin. The review gave very little away but described the book as surreal and horrifying and something to be read in one sitting. That sounded pretty intriguing, so I headed to the bookstore and bought a copy. The novel was called Fever Dream. 

I did indeed read Fever Dream in one sitting. Not only was it everything the reviewer had promised—strange and foreboding and beautifully written—it was also incredibly brief. At fewer than 30,000 words, this masterful slice of horror is technically a novella—a story that falls somewhere between 20,000 and 50,000 words. 

Many renowned classics are novella length: John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men is around 30,000 words; Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea is 27,000, and Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle is fewer than 45,000.   

There’s just something about a story carved down to its bare essentials that feels especially potent.  

Horror stories in particular can benefit from brevity. Sustaining an atmosphere of claustrophobic dread is easier to achieve in 150 pages vs. 600. A narrower word count naturally leads to more clarity and focus, something that can get lost with a wide cast of characters and multiple subplots. 

When writing the novella, get to know your protagonist well and keep the story focused on her. Make sure your plot doesn’t stray from the main conflict; limit or eliminate subplots. Carefully consider backstory; for every detail you give about your main character’s past, ask yourself if it really matters. Finally, use a narrow time frame for your story, and only a few settings.  

It takes discipline to simplify your story and choose your details wisely, but learning the art of brevity pays off with a tightly plotted narrative that your reader won’t want to put down.

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About the Author

Elizabeth Maria Naranjo is the award-winning author of The Fourth Wall (WiDo Publishing, 2014). Her short fiction and creative nonfiction have been published in Brevity Magazine, Superstition Review, Fractured Lit, The Portland Review, Hunger Mountain, Hospital Drive, Reservoir Road, Literary Mama, Motherwell, and a few other places. Her stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best American Essay, and Best of the Net. All links to Elizabeth’s work can be found on her website at elizabethmarianaranjo.com.

Social Media Links:

#thehouseonlindenwaynaranjo

Tweets by emarianaranjo

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8124819.Elizabeth_Maria_Naranjo

– Blog Tour Calendar

September 19th @ The Muffin

Join us as we celebrate the launch of The House on Linden Way by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo. Crystal interviews the author about her book and also gives away a copy to one lucky reader.

https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

September 22nd @ Deborah Adams 

Today, The House on Linden Way is in the spotlight at Deborah Adams blog with a guest post written by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo titled: Exploring our Deepest Fears Through Speculative Fiction.

http://www.deborah-adams.com/blog

September 23rd @ The Faerie Review 

In today’s spotlight at The Faerie Review is Elizabeth Maria Naranjo’s latest book The House on Linden Way – readers will be thrilled to learn more about this fabulous read! 

https://www.thefaeriereview.com/

September 26 @ What is That Book About 

Elizabeth Maria Naranjo is in the spotlight at What is That Book About as readers learn more about Naranjo’s thriller: The House on Linden Way! Don’t miss this blog stop on Naranjo’s WOW! Women on Writing book blog tour!

https://www.whatisthatbookabout.com/

September 27th @ Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire with Mindy McGinnis 

Elizabeth Maria Naranjo pens today’s guest post at Mindy’s blog. Learn more about Naranjo’s latest book The House on Linden Way as well as today’s topic: Traditional vs Self Publishing and My Experience with Both as Naranjo offers some insight into her stories!

https://www.mindymcginnis.com/blog

September 30th @ The Faerie Review

Hear some of Elizabeth Maria Naranjo’s favorite October stories as she pens today’s guest post at The Faerie Review. This is also your chance to learn more about her latest thriller: The House on Linden Way. Don’t miss this opportunity!

https://www.thefaeriereview.com/

October 1st @ Boots, Shoes and Fashion

Linda at Boots, Shoes and Fashion shares her thoughts after reading Elizabeth Maria Naranjo’s latest book called The House on Linden Way. This is a thrilling read and we can’t wait to hear what Linda thinks!

https://bootsshoesandfashion.com/

October 2nd @ Word Magic with Fiona Ingram

Fiona from Word Magic is hosting Elizabeth Maria Naranjo today. This is a great opportunity for readers to learn about Naranjo’s latest book: The House on Linden Way as well as read her guest post titled: The Lingering Ghosts of Our Childhood Homes. Readers will be thrilled to hear from Naranjo!

https://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/

October 3rd @ One Writer’s Journey 

Sue Bradford Edwards offers her review of The House on Linden Way by fellow author Elizabeth Maria Naranjo. Find out what Sue thinks and learn more about this thriller!

https://suebe.wordpress.com/

October 3rd @ World of My Imagination

Nicole Pyles of WOW! Women on Writing offers a thoughtful review of The House on Linden Way by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo – readers won’t want to miss the opportunity to learn more about this thrilling book and it’s talented author!

https://worldofmyimagination.com/

October 8th  @ Boots, Shoes and Fashion 

Linda interviews Elizabeth Maria Naranjo about her latest thriller, The House on Linden Way! This book blog tour is one readers won’t want to miss – it’s THRILLING!

https://bootsshoesandfashion.com/

October 10th  @Girl Zombie Authors 

Chris at Girl Zombie Authors shares her review of Elizabeth Maria Naranjo’s The House on Linden Way – will it be too thrilling for this fellow author? Find out TODAY and be thrilled!

https://girlzombieauthors.blogspot.com/

October 10th  @ Choices with Madeline Sharples

Today’s post is titled: Tips For Getting Unstuck While Writing Your Novel and it’s penned by none other than Elizabeth Maria Naranjo as she just released her latest thriller The House on Linden Way. Find out more today!

http://madelinesharples.com/

October 11th  @ Author Anthony Avina

Author Anthony Avina puts fellow author Elizabeth Maria Naranjo in the spotlight today as readers learn more about The House on Linden Way – this is a book blog tour stop that will thrill and delight!

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October 13th  @ Knotty Needle Creative

Judy reviews The House on Linden Way for readers at Knotty Needle Creative – find out more about this thriller and it’s talented author Elizabeth Maria Naranjo!

http://knottyneedle.blogspot.com/

October 16th @ Literary Quicksand

Jessica from Literary Quicksand reviews The House on Linden Way by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo – what will she think? Will fellow author Elizabeth be able to thrill Jessica? Stop by today to find out!

https://literaryquicksand.com/

October 18th  @ Author Anthony Avina

Author Anthony Avina reviews the work of fellow author Elizabeth Maria Naranjo and offers his thoughts about The House on Linden Way!

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October 20th @ Reading is My Remedy

Chelsea from Reading is My Remedy offers her review of Elizabeth Maria Naranjo’s The House on Linden Way for readers of her blog. This is a thriller and we can’t wait to find out Chelsea’s take on it!

https://readingismyremedy.wordpress.com/

October 23rd @ Literary Quicksand

Jessica from Literary Quicksand interviews Elizabeth Maria Naranjo – learn more about this talented author and her latest thriller, The House on Linden Way!

https://literaryquicksand.com/

October 25th @ Author Anthony Avina

Author Elizabeth Maria Naranjo pens today’s guest post at fellow author Anthony Avina’s blog with the title: The Art of Brevity; Writing a Novella. Hear from Elizabeth and find out more about her latest thriller, The House on Linden Way.

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October 27th  @ The Frugalista Mom

The Frugalista Mom offers her review of The House on Linden Way by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo. Find out more and stop by today!

https://thefrugalistamom.com/

October 30th  @ Wildwood Reads

Megan from Wildwood Reads offers her review of the thriller The House on Linden Way, by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo! Stop by and get in the mood for tomorrow!

https://wildwoodreads.com/

Guest Blog Post: Lessons learned querying agents and publishers by Carolyn DiPasquale

I am honored to share today’s special guest blog post from Carolyn DiPasquale, author of the book Reckless Grace. Today she shares the lessons she learned sending queries to agents and publishers alike. I hope you enjoy today’s post and be sure to follow the author and pick up your copy of their book today!


Finding a publisher is a long, lonely process. I’d heard the rejection stories, so I knew this going in, but I never imagined how hard it would be in that actual space.

Hoping to sign with a major company, aka the “Big 5 Publishers,” I began by querying agents. I spent hours trying to craft cogent query letters that, in retrospect, I think always missed the mark for two reasons. One, I had trouble boiling down a broad, complex work like Reckless Grace into a few catchy lines. My cognizance of the power of that letter—it could make or break me—also froze me up, resulting in stilted text. I received pass after pass. But infinitely more painful than the Dear-John emails was the total lack of response from most Big-5 agents who couldn’t be bothered to even acknowledge receipt of, much less respond to, not just my query letter, but also my book proposal and sample chapters, a package that took from several weeks to several months to put together. Which made me repeatedly feel like the book I’d labored over for the last seven years was worth nothing. 

But I didn’t give up because even if I couldn’t articulate it effectively in my queries, I believed in the importance of my project. It helped that my writer-friend, Elisabeth, was also shopping her manuscript among Big-5 agents without success. We commiserated with each other while reviewing one another’s letters and synopses, and this camaraderie lifted some of the gloom. I got so excited the few times she received “hits,” that is requests from agents to read her full manuscript; however, they ultimately passed. (Elisabeth still hasn’t found an agent after eight years.)  As time went on, I understood that Big-5 agents favor celebrities and well-known writers. They accept very few new clients, sometimes only one percent! 

Therefore, after a year without one bite, I moved on to smaller companies, called Indie (independent) publishers. Within weeks, I started getting hits. Both editors who read my full manuscript offered me contracts. Though thrilled at their interest, I felt I had to proceed cautiously; I’d invested too much time in writing Reckless Grace to release it without vetting these companies. After contacting authors who had used these publishers and hearing about their experiences, I had serious reservations and ultimately rejected both offers. I knew it was the right call, but I felt dejected and stuck. In the stifling July heat of 2020, I started writing query letters again. In August, I got another hit. Jay Gowen from WiDo Publishing requested my full manuscript and read Reckless Grace in three days, stunning me with a phone call. “I don’t usually telephone authors,” he said in a kind, professional voice, “but your manuscript absolutely slayed me.” I signed a contract the next day. 

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Book Summary

Fourteen-year-old Rachel guards a collection of secrets for ten years, journaling to vent her terror and loneliness.

Following Rachel’s fatal overdose years later, her mother, Carolyn DiPasquale, stumbles upon her daughter’s diaries. Shattered, she searches for answers, retracing her steps to figure out how parents and doctors missed three major mental illnesses.

What the single, working mother recalls is a far cry from what happens, as dramatically revealed in tandem chapters gleaned from Rachel’s journals. While the mother sprints from task to task, the daughter details the baffling emergence and frightening progression of bulimia, diabulimia, and borderline personality disorder; her eventual substance abuse; and heart-wrenching reasons for not seeking help.

Despite her loss, DiPasquale hopes her story lights a path for victims of mental illness while awakening all readers.

Publisher: E.L. Marker

ISBN-10: 1947966550

ISBN-13: 978-1947966550

ASIN: ‎B09W69TT11

Print length: 546 pages

Purchase a copy of Reckless Grace on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Bookshop.org. You can also add this to your GoodReads reading list. 

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About the Author:

Carolyn DiPasquale grew up in Franksville, Wisconsin, graduating from UW-Milwaukee with a double major in English and French. In 1983, she moved to Rhode Island where she raised three children while pursuing her Master’s in English at the University of Rhode Island. Over her career, she taught literature and composition at various New England colleges; worked as a technical writer at the Naval Underseas Warfare Center in Newport; and wrote winning grants as a volunteer for Turning Around Ministries, a Newport aftercare program for ex-offenders. She has been an active member of the Newport Round Table, a professional writing group (founded in 1995), since 2013. 

DiPasquale currently lives in Richmond, Rhode Island where she has started working on a sequel to Reckless Grace. She has also ventured into writing children’s books. In her free time, she enjoys cooking and baking with healthy ingredients, hiking and trapshooting with her husband Phil, and volunteering at the New Hope Chapel food pantry in Carolina, Rhode Island.  

Visit her website to follow her updates. You can also follow her on Instagram or Facebook.

Blog Tour Calendar

– Blog Tour Calendar

August 1st @ The Muffin

Join us at WOW! Women on Writing as we celebrate the launch of Carolyn DiPasquale’s memoir Reckless Grace. Read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book.

http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

August 1st @ Mindy McGinnis

Join Mindy as she features a guest post by author Carolyn DiPasquale on the topic of how mental disorders travel in packs. Don’t miss this! 

https://www.mindymcginnis.com/blog

August 3rd @ Pages and Paws

Join Kristine as she reviews Carolyn DiPasquale’s memoir Reckless Grace. You don’t want to miss this powerful memoir!

https://pagesandpaws.com/

August 8th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Join Anthony as he features Carolyn DiPasquale’s guest post about lessons learned from querying agents and publishers.

August 9th @ The Faerie Review

Join Lily as she features Carolyn DiPasquale and her memoir Reckless Grace.

https://www.thefaeriereview.com/

August 10th @ Word Magic

Come by Fiona’s blog where she shares the author’s guest post about memoir writing. Don’t miss this important post if you are interested in this writing genre!

https://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/

August 13th @ Boots, Shoes, and Fashion

Join Linda as she interviews Carolyn DiPasquale about her memoir Reckless Grace. 

https://bootsshoesandfashion.com/

August 15th @ A Storybook World

Join Deirdra as she features Reckless Grace by Carolyn DiPasquale.

https://www.astorybookworld.com/

August 18th @ Pen and Prosper

Join Jennifer as she interviews Carolyn DiPasquale about her memoir Reckless Grace.

http://penandprosper.blogspot.com/

August 19th @ Knotty Needle

Visit Judy’s blog and read her review of Carolyn DiPasquale’s memoir Reckless Grace. You don’t want to miss this touching memoir.

https://knottyneedle.blogspot.com/

August 20th @ Choices

Join Madeline as she shares Carolyn DiPasquale’s guest post about whether women can age with grace.

http://www.madelinesharples.com/

August 22nd @ World of My Imagination

Visit Nicole’s blog as she reviews Carolyn DiPasquale’s powerful memoir Reckless Grace.

https://worldofmyimagination.com

August 24th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Join Anthony again as he reviews Carolyn DiPasquale’s powerful memoir Reckless Grace.

August 28th @ Liberate and Lather

Join Angela as she reviews Carolyn DiPasquale’s memoir Reckless Grace. 

https://liberateandlather.com/

September 1st @ Peaches and Cream Pages

Join Kelly as she reviews Carolyn DiPasquale’s memoir Reckless Grace. You’ll definitely want to add this book to your reading list.

https://www.instagram.com/peachesandcreampages/

September 2nd @ Heidi Lynn’s Book Reviews.

Join Heidi Lynn as she features Carolyn DiPasquale’s memoir Reckless Grace.

https://heidilynnsbookreviews.blogspot.com/

September 3rd @ Kelly Sgroi’s Blog

Visit Kelly’s blog today and read the guest post written by Carolyn DiPasquale about how to make your writing sing. Feel inspired today!

https://www.kellysgroi.com/blog

September 4th @ Free to be Me

Join Leslie as she reviews Reckless Grace by Carolyn DiPasquale.

https://lesliesvoice.com/

Guest Blog Post and Blog Tour Blast For Author M.D. Grimm’s “Sapphire: Home and Abroad” with OWI Blog Tours

Hi everyone! Thank you for joining me today. I hope you’ll give author M.D. Grimm a warm welcome as we hear some fantastic insight into the development of “Sapphire: Home and Abroad”.


Good day lovely readers! Thank you for joining me. I am M.D. Grimm and I am here to promote my newest release, “Sapphire: Home and Abroad.” This is the latest entry in The Stones of Power. I am overjoyed and relieved to finally release a new book in this series. After re-publishing back titles, I can now work on new projects. So, if you like magic, surly, anti-hero mages (wizards), and a fun setting with quirky supporting characters, this series might be for you!

So… Morgorth. He’s a difficult character, isn’t he? I don’t think I quite knew what I was getting into when I wrote the first book over ten years ago. I have an affinity for dark and/or damaged characters. Their journey and trials as they become better people is something I never grow tired of either writing or reading. One of the worst things in the world is for a writer to be bored with a character and/or a story. And when it comes to series, I strive to have a character(s) that needs to overcome something as they evolve over the course of several books. If I’m not interested in their journey, then why would anyone else be?

“Ruby: Lost and Found” was the third book I ever published. It presented Morgorth in a time of his life where he was bored with being a villain. He’d embraced the label after his peers, fellow mages, decided he simply had to be one because of his birthright: being the seventh son of a seventh son, which they determined meant he was to be the Destroyer of their world. It is said that we often create our own monsters, and in this case, it was true. Morgorth became what his peers already thought he was. However, when Aishe crashes into his life, the desire to be something different awakens within him. In my opinion, he becomes an anti-hero. Or, as he would say, a dark mage. He’s not out to wreak havoc on the world but he’s certainly not going to play by the rules, either.

My initial goal for this series was to challenge myself to write an anti-hero. I’m not quite sure if I succeeded or not, but I can’t argue with the result. Morgorth is wonderfully flawed, his struggles are real, and his desire to be worthy of his mate, Aishe, pushes him into uncomfortable situations and makes his choices harder. What I love most about Morgorth is his refusal to surrender. Despite the abuse he survived as a child, the hatred from most of his peers, and the struggle with his own internal demons, he continues to fight. The closest he came to defeat was in the previous book, “Lapis Lazuli: Forgotten and Remembered,” but even then, even without Aishe kicking his butt into gear, I don’t doubt that after a bit of time in self-pity, he’d roll up his sleeves and start fighting again. It’s one of the things I love most about him: he continues to get up every time he’s knocked down.

Due to the abuse from his father, Morgorth has always carried a deep-seated rage inside him. Unfortunately, it led him to unleashing his pain on innocents until he made a promise to his mentor that he would stop perpetuating the cycle of abuse. Morgorth has grown a lot from book one to book eight, but the core of him hasn’t changed. He still carries the rage, only now he channels it into protecting those he loves. He still has a darkness inside him, a thirst to hurt others, and yet again, he targets it at other villains and in defense. I find that the hardest balance to strike with such a complex character is letting them evolve without changing who they are at their deepest core. I didn’t want Morgorth to lose his edge. I didn’t want it to seem as if he simply flicked off his past trauma and that it no longer affected him. That is unrealistic and an insult to folks who live with trauma. However, he did find the tools and the support to work through his trauma and to use his rage for good instead of evil.

And how did he do that? By finding a mate who accepted all of him. With Aishe, he found the motivation and the reason to work on himself. That’s what I love most about their partnership—they make each other better and stronger. 

The Stones of Power 1-8 are available for purchase at Amazon (also in print!) and Smashwords. I have a newsletter that I send out monthly with all the goodies you can expect in the future. That’s the best way to find out about my current and future projects.

For fans of the Saga of the Bold People series, I just finished the first draft of “Resistance,” book 3. I hope to release it October 2022, so keep your eyes peeled for that! I am also booked (pun intended) solid this year, working on the next shifter book, the next Stones of Power book, a couple single titles, and the next On Wings Saga book. Wish me luck!

More information on my catalog can be found at my website.

I hope you stay safe and healthy, and may dragons guard your dreams,

M.D. Grimm

Sapphire: Home and Abroad

M.D. Grimm has a new MM fantasy book out, Stones of Power book 8: Sapphire: Home and Abroad.

The Dark Mage, Lord Morgorth, and Aishe of the Ravena Tribe, are to become bondmates.

Morgorth is equal parts nervous and excited. He wants to unite with Aishe in the sacred dialen ceremony, to proclaim their devotion to the world, to show everyone that Aishe is his equal and deserving of respect. After all they’ve survived together, why shouldn’t they make the cosmic promise before friends and family? But duty must often come before pleasure. When Morgorth’s estranged mentor, Master Ulezander, comes to him with a time-sensitive mission involving a major stone of power, Morgorth has little choice but to acquiesce.

Aishe knows his mate struggles with the revelation of his true destiny, after a lifetime of defining himself as the future Destroyer of Karishian. All he can do is reassure Morgorth that being the Savior is a far better fate for both of them. But as Morgorth and Aishe leap through worlds and dimensions in pursuit of a stone of power, more pieces to the puzzle of Morgorth’s destiny are revealed. And they form an image of sacrifice and tragedy.

The dark cloud of an ancient enemy looms ever closer, and the path to becoming the Savior might prove more monstrous than that of the Destroyer.

About the Series:

Lord Morgorth is a dark mage on the planet Karishian. His peers consider him a villain, but there is more to him than they choose to understand. Cursed by a dark destiny and tormented by painful memories of the past, Morgorth struggles to find his place in the world. Far from innocent, Morgorth has teetered between embracing his destiny and fighting against it his entire life. A decision that is made easier when Aishe comes into his life. Aishe is a creature of the forest, a warrior and healer. He has the moral compass that Morgorth needs, and Morgorth gives Aishe the companionship he craves. Together, they forge ahead, weathering the storms and fighting the enemies fate puts into their paths.

However, their greatest enemy is not a living being, but gemstones infused with deadly power. They are addictive, seductive, and completely treacherous. Morgorth hates them and is determined to find and imprison all of them. But he soon realizes they are keys to a greater power. He learns his destiny is not all he thought it was. And an even greater enemy stirs in the darkness. Enter the world of “The Stones of Power.”

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Excerpt

Sapphire Home and Abroad meme

Morgorth stepped forward and stretched out his arms. He murmured a series of words under his breath and an opaque pinprick of light appeared. I stepped a bit closer, fascinated. The pinprick grew into a swirling, pulsing liquid silver gateway. It was beautiful and ominous. It made no sound, and yet gave off pressure that I felt against my body, and the hair on my arms stood on end.

The few trees bordering the clearing creaked and groaned as they bent away from the portal. I didn’t hear anything—not birds or squirrels, not deer. Nothing was near us, and the poor, stationary trees were doing their best to also get away.

Morgorth fisted his hands and widened his stance, still muttering. His skin glowed, and I silently shifted to his side. His eyes were a burning amber, his expression set in stubborn determination and intense concentration. Sweat slid down his face. The portal pulsed a bit faster, the beat knocking against my ribs. What was he doing?

Then the silver gained a bluish color before darkening to mossy green. Morgorth grunted and lowered his hands, though his magick still glowed.

“Take my hand,” he said in a stiff, strained voice. “And hold on tight, to both me and your bow.”

I swallowed hard and took a deep breath. I clung to my bow as I took his outstretched hand and pressed to his side. His skin was hot to the touch but not burning.

“What can I expect?” I asked.

“Discomfort and weirdness,” he said with a hint of a smile. “Just don’t let go.”

“Never.”

Then Morgorth ran and yanked me with him. We dove into the portal without hesitation, and he was right about the discomfort and weirdness. It wasn’t the emptiness of teleportation nor the whiplash of magickal speed. Morgorth charged through the swirling green, dragging me along. The green slipped over my skin and hair like cold putty and tried to capture my feet in its murk. It seemed to last forever but I was certain it was only a moment or two. Then we were somewhere else.

I caught my breath and stumbled forward, still clinging to Morgorth. He didn’t let go either, his magick still at the surface. He took a cloudy crystal from one of the many pouches at his waist and bent to place it at the base of the portal.

This time, I heard his word of magick.

“Lelleknau.”

Words of magick were supposed to be nonsensical, something each mage created for themselves. It was personal, each new word linked to a spell and used for nothing else. It took both words and hand flourishes for a mage to cast a spell or secure an enchantment. It was different for magick healers like myself. It wasn’t so much magickhealers used, it was our life essence, gifting a part of ourselves to our patients. Give too much and it could kill us. The missing part of our essence would replenish over time, faster if we were happy and balanced.

To open a portal and redirect it was remarkably heavy magick, and my mate never ceased to leave me in awe of his abilities and his continual growth in both strength and intelligence.

“Will the crystal leave the portal open?” I asked.

He nodded. “Only on this side, though. We don’t want anyone or anything following us.”

“I doubt any of Vorgoroth’s creatures want to follow.”

Morgorth shrugged and straightened. “I don’t want to take the chance. And I wasn’t just thinking of my minions.”

He was thinking of our guests. Probably about Lyli.

I sighed. Yes, that girl was fearless and far too curious for her own good. And wherever Lyli went, Olyvre wouldn’t be far behind. Then Elissya would also come.

“This will also prevent any of the creatures here of getting inside. The crystal is also a shield.”

“Clever.”

“Draining,” he said with a sheepish grin. His magick settled into his core, causing his eyes and skin to lose their glow. “It won’t hold for long. In and out, no sightseeing.”

I snorted and glanced at our surroundings. “I don’t think that will be a problem.”

A thick, dense jungle surrounded us, and I was only now noticing the oppressive heat. My skin broke out in sweat and my clothes soon stuck to me in the most uncomfortable way. I exhaled sharply and let go of Morgorth to wipe at my brow.

“Aye, in and out, please.”

Morgorth grimaced as well and readjusted the bag.

“I hope you can track the bloody thing.”

“I don’t sense magick like on Karishian so it shouldn’t be a problem to open my third eye and spot the box. And if for some reason that doesn’t work, I can always try to meditate and find its aura and track it back to its location.”

“Wouldn’t the box shield the stone’s power?”

“Its power but not its signature. According to Melondia, the box doesn’t have enough layers to truly block it. Think about the layers of Geheimnis. A mage could use their third eye but not spot the stones I have in the tower because the barriers are too thick.”

I nodded, and he closed his eyes. This place did feel… empty. Magick was everywhere in Karishian, in the land, the water, in the creatures. In the sky and in the clouds, and in the sun. In the air itself. I didn’t like it here. I shuddered and fingered my bow. The familiar texture of the wood soothed me just enough to unclench my muscles.

I kept an eye on our surroundings as Morgorth once again called to his magick.


Author Bio

M.D. Grimm Logo

M.D. Grimm has wanted to write stories since second grade (kind of young to make life decisions, but whatever) and nothing has changed since then (well, plenty of things actually, but not that!). Thankfully, she has indulgent parents who let her dream, but also made sure she understood she’d need a steady job to pay the bills (they never let her forget it!).

After graduating from the University of Oregon and majoring in English, (let’s be honest: useless degree, what else was she going to do with it?) she started on her writing career and couldn’t be happier.

Working by day and writing by night (or any spare time she can carve out), she enjoys embarking on romantic quests and daring adventures (living vicariously, you could say) and creating characters that always triumph against the villain, (or else what’s the point?) finding their soul mate in the process.

Author Website: http://www.mdgrimmwrites.com/

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001710645622

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4574220.M_D_Grimm

Author Liminal Fiction (LimFic.com): https://www.limfic.com/mbm-book-author/m-d-grimm/

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/m-d-grimm/

Author Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/M.D.-Grimm/e/B00I0KZMY6/

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Guest Blog Post: When a House is More Than a House by Mary Beth Hines

It’s December as I write this, a season when gift and gratitude are top of mind, yet also when loss and grief feel particularly acute. That continual interplay—darkness encroaching on the light; light suffusing shadows—provides the backdrop for the poems in my debut collection “Winter at a Summer House”. 

A reader recently asked me if the summer house in the title poem was real. I said yes—and no. Both are true. There was a real house, but it grew, through time and memory, into something different—turreted, and towered—more haunted castle than summer cottage.

The real house belonged to my parents who retired to South Yarmouth, Massachusetts in the early 1990s after the last of their children left home. As kids, we’d often vacationed on Cape Cod, and for a few years, my parents had owned a small cottage there. But it was their rambling, retirement home—a house with enough room for all of us—that became the hub of my, and my adult siblings’, and our families’ summer lives. 

It was a sunny, lively house presided over by my parents during a mostly healthy and contented period of their lives. Of course, we all went through a myriad of ups and downs during those years, as people do, but in retrospect, the sun shone and shone then, year after year, until the day our seemingly spry and vigorous mother died of a sudden heart attack. We were devasted. Mother’s death precipitated our father’s decline. Once hale, hearty, and brilliantly competent, he faded overnight. 

When the world collapsed, my youngest child had just left for college, and I had recently started a new job. My sister was busy with family, art, and work. Despite these obstacles, she, and I, both of whom lived two hours away, each began to stay with our father a few days each week. Our brother who lived further away used his vacation time to relieve us. We continued this for several years. While challenging, it was bearable, and often pleasant in the spring, fall, and summer. The winter was different. 

The wind blows hard on Cape Cod in the winter. The shutters on Dad’s house banged. Windows and chimneys rattled. December and January days were gloomy, with darkness falling by mid-afternoon. Sometimes, I caught a glimpse of Mother coming around a corner then she’d vanish. I listened for her voice amidst the house’s rumblings. Having been an English major in college, I found the house, in winter, eerily reminiscent of Ramsay’s house in Virginia Woolf’s “To the Lighthouse,” particularly in the “Time Passes” section. Wind invaded. Moss, mold, and spiders set up camp. One could scrub, dust, and polish all day just to make way for a new crop of marauders. And though our summer house wasn’t on the ocean as the Ramsay’s was, I had walked and jumped off enough jetties to imagine one there, and thus its prime billing in “Winter at a Summer House.”

Early on, when people asked me what the book was about, I described it as a narrative, not focusing on the house, the water imagery, or associated metaphors. However, a recent Kirkus review highlighted the prominent place of the ocean, water, and the passage of time, and this caused me to consider it from a new angle. That review began: “Hines grew up in Massachusetts, adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean, and the poems in this debut collection are filled with richly detailed imagery evoking the sea—of characters swimming, bathing, diving as if time were an unpredictable element, and living, a process of navigating unexpected currents…” 

I had not set out to write a narrative, nor a collection of water-themed poems. I wrote one poem at a time, and only later ordered them so that they could “talk” to each other and tell a story. And since I’m a lifelong, year-round swimmer, I evoked the water imagery naturally. Writing this post has prompted me to explore these thoughts more deeply, and to consider, alongside them, the role of the house in the book. 

An author friend recently told me he believes that every book someone writes is a miracle. I understand more clearly, each day that goes by, what he meant, and I welcome opportunities to contemplate my small miracle from new vantage points, and to share my thoughts. So today, I thank author Anthony Avina for generously hosting me on this blog. It’s the first time I deliberately explored the role the summer house plays in this collection, and I hope readers enjoyed taking the journey with me. Happily, by the time others read this, we’ll be past the winter solstice and our short days will already be lengthening.

In closing, I want to thank Kelsay Books for publishing “Winter at a Summer House;” Poetic Book Tours for coordinating this tour; and all of you, Anthony Avina’s readers, who have taken a few minutes to commune with me here. I truly appreciate your time and attention, and if you read the book, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it! You can find me at www.marybethhines.com.

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About the Author

Mary Beth Hines grew up in Massachusetts where she spent Saturday afternoons ditching ballet to pursue stories and poems deep in the stacks of the Waltham Public Library. She earned a bachelor of arts in English from The College of the Holy Cross, and studied for a year at Durham University in England. She began a regular creative writing practice following a career in public service (Volpe Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts), leading award-winning national outreach, communications, and workforce programs. Her poetry, short fiction, and non-fiction appear in dozens of literary journals and anthologies both nationally and abroad. Winter at a Summer House is her first poetry collection. When not reading or writing, she swims, walks in the woods, plays with friends, travels with her husband, and enjoys life with their family, including their two beloved grandchildren. Visit her online at www.marybethhines.com.

https://www.facebook.com/marybethhineswriter

Woulda Shoulda Coulda Guest Blog Post From Author Robert Hoffman

I am happy to share this amazing guest blog post from author Robert Hoffman, as part of his blog tour for his book, Blind Spot. Enjoy!


My father wasn’t a man prone to using cliches.  My mother, that’s a horse of a different color.  For example, if my mother heard one of her friends who was financially well off complain about money, she would say after she had left their presence, “You shouldn’t cry poverty with a loaf of bread under each arm.”  Or if you told her how crazy life was because you were so busy and stretched for time, she would say, “You know Robbie, you can’t dance at two weddings at once.”  Yes, for every occasion she was ready with a cliche’.  My father, not so much.  Oh, that’s not to say he didn’t have a few he liked to utilize if it suited the situation.  It’s just that most of his cliches were in Yiddish so it’s more about the attitude he conveyed  than the actual phrase..

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Once in a while however he would drop a well-worn expression in English if he thought it was pertinent.  One of his favorites was one of my least growing up.  You see, whenever I didn’t complete a chore I had been asked to perform, or if I brought home a report card from school that was, oh I don’t know, underwhelming let’s say, he would ask for an explanation for whatever responsibility I had failed to come through on, and in turn, had disappointed him over.  I would say, “Dad, I would have done better, except the teacher didn’t give us a fair chance to study.” Perhaps I might say that I could have done better, but I didn’t think it would be so hard.”  There was also the ever-popular, “I know I should have cleaned up the family room, but I was doing the homework that I barely had time to do.”  

At this point, he would look at me and say, with just the right amount of sarcasm and venom, “Yeah, woulda, coulda, shoulda, but you didn’t.”  It cut me to the quick I tell you.  It led me immediately towards that most depressing and fruitless of human feelings, regret.  The problem with regret is that you can’t change what you did, you can only hope to learn from what you did and do better next time.

Doug Kaplan, the protagonist in my novel, Blind Spot, has, as a result of his selfishness, done something that he is indeed regretful over, but the problem is, while he feels regretful, his regret is really for himself, and as such, he doesn’t see a way out of his predicament.  However, as Anthony Avina explains in his writing, “Hope is never out of reach.”  Hope is not out of reach for Doug Kaplan, if he’s willing to do what is necessary to reach the salvation he craves.

About Blind Spot:

In this comedy/drama, based very, very loosely on my own experiences, a middle aged father of three named Doug Kaplan appears to have it all.  An attractive and supportive wife, three healthy boys, and a successful career.  He doesn’t shy away from his responsibilities as a father or as a son to his aging parents, and he is valued and respected at work.  However, all his life he has been plagued by the accusation that he does suffer from one significant character flaw, a subtle but substantial penchant for being selfish, a flaw that he is largely oblivious to.  

Doug Kaplan’s life was progressing about as well as he could have hoped for.  In addition to his loving wife and family, he and his wife Kelly had finally purchased a house in lovely Seaford, Long Island, and while it may have been a fixer-upper, it was still going to be their dream home.  Despite his selfish streak, which by his wife’s own admission could be off-putting, he might never have found his blessed existence sidetracked, until he encountered the elderly woman next door who proved to be a seemingly unavoidable obstacle.  Who knew that their home on the cul-de-sac known as McGregor Court would be nestled next to the biggest know-it-all and budinsky in the entire Metropolitan area.  Yes, Trudy Fleischmann was a force to be reckoned with.  Emigrated from Germany as a little girl at the end of World War Two, Trudy has known suffering and sacrifice, but she is also wise and caring, and why shouldn’t she share her knowledge and opinions with the young couple who has just moved in next door.

Already having to look after Kelly’s widowed mother as well as their growing family, Doug and Kelly end up seeing their responsibilities increase exponentially as not only does Trudy’s husband Burt die, and remove the one pleasant buffer that lay between Doug and Trudy, but Doug’s father passes as well, and now he and Kelly must provide care for three elderly widows as well as their three young boys.  However Doug’s entire existence will become, much to his chagrin, inextricably tied to Trudy after he accidentally runs her over with his car one beautiful summer’s day in a supermarket parking lot.  Can Doug overcome his selfishness and provide the care and patience that the badly injured Trudy requires?  Doug’s family, career, and sense of who he is as a person are all on the line as he tries to summon his better angels and do the right thing.  

Purchase your copy now available on Amazon. Make sure to add it to your GoodReads reading list too.

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About the Author

It’s about time somebody asked that question.  Rob Hoffman is originally from a town on Long Island called North Massapequa.  He attended SUNY Oswego where he majored in Communications, a degree that it turned out he had little use for.  He did however meet  the woman who would eventually become my wife, the former Michelle Lindell.  Rob and Michelle lived in the aptly named Flushing, Queens for six years before moving to a town called Clifton Park, New York just south of Saratoga Springs.  Finding little value in his degree in communications, Rob became a social studies teacher, teaching in Long Island City, Queens for four years before spending the remainder of his career in Rensselaer, New York, a small city on the banks of the Hudson River just across the water from Albany.  Rob taught for 31 years before retiring in June of 2021, only to come back as a part-time teacher in September of 2021 at Rensselaer High School.  Rob had always been interested in becoming a writer and he began his blogging career as a contributor at the “Times Union” of Albany for six years.  In this time Rob also blogged for a variety of sites including Fark.com, Crooks and Liars.com, Albany.com, and Knees and Fists.com.  Rob has remained happily married to Michelle for 34 years and counting, and has two grown sons, Andrew and Alex, ages 29 and 23.  Most recently, Rob and Michelle became grandparents to the newest addition to the family, Sam Hoffman, son of Andrew and his wife Katie.

“Blind Spot” represents Rob’s first true attempt at writing fiction, an experience Rob both fun and exhausting.  Rob had thrown around several ideas as he began to think about what it was he wanted to write about, and then one day his wife had sent him to the supermarket on an errand where he saw somebody he really didn’t want to spend anytime talking to, so he raced out of the store, got in his car, turned it on, slammed it into reverse and was about to speed out of the spot when he stopped himself and said, “Dumb-ass, be careful, you could hit somebody.”  Then, as Rob began to slowly and carefully pull out of his parking spot, he thought for another second and it occurred to him how ironic it would be if he accidentally hit the person he was trying to get away from and “Blind Spot” was born.  The character of Doug Kaplan, while not autobiographical, is sort of based on the best and worst of Rob’s traits.  Doug is at times the guy Rob always wanted to be, and yet at the same time, Doug also represented the guy Rob was relieved to know he never became. The other characters according to Rob are combinations of people that he knew from his childhood, as well as college and work experiences. 

Follow the author online at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robert.s.hoffman.7/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/burtpurdy

Linked-in – https://www.linkedin.com/in/robert-hoffman-43999348/

Instagram – hoffman_files

Website – https://thehoffmanfiles.wixsite.com/website

— Blog Tour Calendar

November 22nd @ The Muffin  

Join us at The Muffin for an author interview, giveaway, and blog tour launch post for Robert Hoffman’s “The Blind Spot”

https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/

November 23rd @ Lisa Haselton Book Reviews and Interviews

Today, Lisa Haselton interviews Robert Hoffman about his humorous work of fiction titled “Blind Spot”. Find out more about this debut novel and it’s author!

https://lisahaselton.com/blog/

November 24th @ Choices with Madeline Sharples

Readers at Choices will hear from guest author Robert Hoffman with his post titled ” Man Plans and God Laughs “. Don’t miss this guest post and an opportunity to hear about Hoffman’s debut novel “Blind Spot”. 

http://madelinesharples.com/

November 26th @ The Faerie Review

“The Blind Spot” by Robert Hoffman is the highlighted book today at the Faerie Review – don’t miss a chance to learn more this work of humorous fiction by an accomplished blogger!

https://www.thefaeriereview.com/

November 29th @ Word Magic with Fiona Ingram

Robert Hoffman pens today’s guest post at Word Magic (fellow author Fiona Ingram’s blog). Don’t miss this great article titled: “Sorry isn’t Enough” and an opportunity to learn more about Robert and his latest work of humorous fiction – “Blind Spot”. 

http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/

December 2nd @ The Knotty Needle

Judy reviews “Blind Spot” by Robert Hoffman for readers at the Knotty Needle. Don’t miss this opportunity find out more about Hoffman’s humorous work of fiction! 

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

December 3rd @ Beverley A. Baird

“Do I Have a Story to Tell” is today’s post at Beverley A. Baird. This post is penned by none other than Robert Hoffman who recently released “Blind Spot”, a humorous novel readers are raving about! Don’t miss your chance to learn more from Hoffman himself! 

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

December 4th @ Author Anthony Avina

Readers at Anthony’s blog will delight in today’s guest post “Woulda Coulda Shoulda” by author Robert Hoffman. Don’t miss this guest post and opportunity to learn more about Hoffman’s new book “Blind Spot”. Stop back in a few days (on the 11th) to read Author Anthony Avina’s review of “The Blind” spot as well! 

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

December 7th @ World of My Imagination with Nicole Pyles

Readers at World of My Imagination are in for a special treat! Not only is Nicole going to review “Blind Spot” by Robert Hoffman, but she also will be offering a giveaway! This is your chance to learn more about this humorous book and maybe even snag a copy of your own!

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

December 9th @ Bring on Lemons with Crystal Otto

Crystal Otto reviews “Blind Spot” by Robert Hoffman for readers at Bring on Lemons – Otto has hinted that she would give this book 5 stars and said “it made me laugh out loud so often” – so don’t miss your chance to hear more about this debut novel!

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

December 11th @ Author Anthony Avina

Fellow Author Anthony Avina reviews “Blind Spot” by Robert Hoffman. 

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

December 14th @ Linda Appleman Shapiro

Fellow Author Linda Appleman Shapiro shares her thoughts about Robert Hoffman’s “Blind Spot”. Find out what an accomplished Memoirist and Psychotherapist thinks of this humorous work of fiction.

http://applemanshapiro.com/category/book-reviews/

December 15th @ Bring on Lemons with Michelle DelPonte

Michelle DelPonte, a Wisconsin mother, healthcare worker, autism advocate, and history buff shares her review of “Blind Spot” by Robert Hoffman. You won’t want to miss Michelle’s insight into this humorous book! 

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

December 16th @ Bring on Lemons with 14 Year Old Carmen Otto

14 year old Carmen Otto heard her mom laughing out loud while reading “Blind Spot” and couldn’t help from grabbing a copy to read for herself. Find out what a young reader things of this debut novel by Robert Hoffman!

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

December 18th @ Bring on Lemons with Cathy Hansen

Wisconsin business owner and educator Cathy Hansen offers insight into what she thought after reading Robert Hoffman’s debut novel “Blind Spot”. Will this be a lemon or sweet lemonade? Stop by Bring on Lemons to find out!

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

December 24th @ Jill Sheet’s Blog

Stop by Jill Sheet’s Blog today and hear from Robert Hoffman as he pens his guest post titled “Aren’t We All Just a Little Bit Selfish?” just in time for the holidays! Learn more about this topic as well as Hoffman’s novel “Blind Spot”! 

http://jillsheets.blogspot.com/

Guest Blog Post: Poetry and Image by Anne Leigh Parrish

Hello everyone! Author Anthony Avina here. I am happy to be sharing with you all this amazing guest post from author and poet Anne Leigh Parrish, where she discusses poetry and the utilization of visual representation in poetry. I hope you all will enjoy this stop in association with the Poetic Book Tours. Look for my review of the author’s upcoming book on November 4th. 


Poetry is a visual expression, even when it’s about politics, or feminism, or how nasty people can be. In poems, words evoke both what we feel and see. This is important to me, I’d say even crucial. Since leaving the urban mess of Seattle four years ago and coming to the quiet of a Northwest forest outside of Olympia, I find nature supplies a great deal of visual stimulation to write about.

Many poems begin with an image—something I notice and want to capture. Moss hanging from a branch; the darting of a jay; how a gust of wind gives a suddenness to how trees move.

Once the image is expressed in words, I delve into what those words mean. If moss drapes a branch, what else drapes, when, and why? A ring drapes a finger, for instance, but that draping is intentional, not the result of a natural process – or is it? This is where poetry gets really fun, because the ring on the finger could, in fact, result from an expression of love, man to woman, or man to man, and love is a recognized natural process. 

I also like to underscore differences among things and explore commonly held ideas and expectations, quite often about women. Returning to moss as a poetic subject, looking at it you might think it feels soft and silky, but it doesn’t. It’s rough and scratchy. Its appearance is deceptive, and in one poem I say moss evolved, went one way / then another which improved its chances / like a woman / nice to be reminded things / aren’t always as they seem, even if / truth at first disappoints

How many women feel the weight of the world’s expectations on them, particularly about how they look?

Using an image to shift the poetic drive or narrative into an unexpected direction is another way I craft my work. Violence against women is a theme I return to again and again, usually to raise awareness of the issue in general, but sometimes as a vehicle to open another door and prompt another discussion. This is where poetry and philosophy tend to blend and lose their boundaries. What if a woman finds herself needing the help of a man who then destroys her, and the poem reveals that it wasn’t because she was weak, or vulnerable, too trusting, or naïve, but because she had been distracted by something beautiful and thus let her guard down? She then reflects wryly from the afterlife that beauty gets her every time. 

Sometimes I like to start with a metaphor and build a world around it that stands on its own logic, even if what it’s depicting has no logic. I see this as another way poetry can bend reality. In my poem “even the trees went under” a couple’s home is gradually falling apart from heavy rain. Obviously, the story represents how bad things have gotten between them, and as the water rises and they climb higher in the home, the woman turns into a mermaid and is faced with a life or death decision: will she save the man, or leave him alone to drown?

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The title piece from my new collection explores the idea of objectivity in the face of turmoil. Two souls are held together by their not entirely healthy need for one another. They realize they’re really one monster, twirling before the sky / laughing at stars/ daring the moon to cut us apart. But the moon won’t be dared . . . how we love her joyous remove / up there alone. Again, nature as a force and backdrop comes into play, now as something uninvolved, coolly reflecting the occasional absurdity of the human condition.

On my last trip to Arizona, an elderly couple walked across the parking lot toward the restaurant where I was having dinner. They were backlit by a gorgeous Southwestern sunset. Their manner suggested years of life together, and for some reason, these images came down to the idea of a needle and the work that needles can do, in particular holding things together. This couple walked like looped stitches/ in the slanted evening light and through their many years they have/sewn, pulled apart / frayed / and dropped the needle’s thread / but now they rest and / gather up their loosened strands/ bound together / always.

I’ve been married for decades, and this fact too no doubt informed that piece.

And what of life overall? The gradual passing of time? How to express the understanding of one’s mortality? You have to have reached a certain age for these questions to be relevant, even poignant and yes, I’m there. I remember my mother saying to grow old was to become increasingly detached, and this idea became the basis for the poem I quote here, in its entirety (it’s brief) and logically entitled “time.”

let’s call it a study in detachment / gradual drift from passion to prayer / then even that loses strength / we grow quiet, soft, and slow/joyous in the face of this timely withdrawal / we’ve given  so much, we’re ready now to hold a little back from / this riot of shifting light we know / as life

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About the Author/Poet

Anne’s first fiction publication appeared in the Autumn 1995 issue of The Virginia Quarterly Review. That story, “A Painful Shade of Blue,” served as the basis for more fiction describing the divorce of her parents when she was still quite young. Her later stories focused on women struggling to find identity and voice in a world that was often hostile to the female experience.

In 2002, Anne won first place in a small contest sponsored by Clark County Community College in Vancouver, Washington. In 2003 she won the Willamette Award from Clackamas Community College in Oregon; in 2007 she took first place in highly esteemed American Short Fiction annual prize; and in 2008 she again won first place in the annual contest held by the literary review, The Pinch.

The story appearing in American Short Fiction“All The Roads that Lead From Home” became the title story in her debut collection, published in 2011 by Press 53. The book won a coveted Silver Medal in the 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards. Two years later, a collection of linked stories about the Dugan family in Upstate New York, Our Love Could Light The World, was published by She Writes Press.

Her debut novel, What Is Found, What Is Lost appeared in 2014. This multi-generational tale speculates on the nature of religious faith and family ties, and was inspired by her own grandparents who emigrated to the United States in 1920.

A third collection of short stories appeared in 2017 from Unsolicited Press. By The Wayside uses magical realism and ordinary home life to portray women in absurd, difficult situations.

Women Within, her second novel, was published in September 2017 by Black Rose Writing. Another multi-generational story, it weaves together three lives at the Lindell Retirement home, using themes of care-giving, women’s rights, and female identity.

Her third novel, The Amendment, was released in June 2018 by Unsolicited Press. Lavinia Dugan Starkhurst, who first appeared in Our Love Could Light The World, is suddenly widowed and takes herself on a cross-country road trip in search of something to give her new life meaning.

Maggie’s Ruse, novel number four, appears October 2019 from Unsolicited Press, and continues with the Dugan family, this time focusing on identical twins, Maggie and Marta.

What Nell Dreams, came out in November 2020 from Unsolicited. This collection of sixteen short stories also features a novella, Mavis Muldoon.

The next installment in the Dugan families series, A Winter Night, was released in March 2021 from Unsolicited Press. Anne’s fifth novel focuses on eldest Dugan Angie and her frustrations as a thirty-four-year-old social worker in a retirement home.

Anne has been married for many years to her fine, wise, and witty husband John Christiansen. They have two adult children in their twenties, John Jr., and Lauren.

About Lydia Selk 

Lydia Selk is an artist who resides in the pacic northwest with her sweet husband. She has been creating  analog collages for several years. Lydia can often be found in her studio with scalpel in hand, cat sleeping on her  lap, and a layer of paper confetti at her feet. You can see more of her work on instagram.com/lydiafairymakesart