Posted in reviews

Guest Blog Post: Reading that led to the Second Son Chronicles by Pamela Taylor

I suppose it’s arguable that everything I’ve ever read about the era in which the Second Son Chronicles are set has, in some way, influenced the creation of the narratives. After all, there’s a certain amount of osmosis that happens with every book we enjoy. But within that broad-brush landscape, some highlights do stand out (in no particular order).

Alison Weir’s non-fiction has been a rich source of details about life in Medieval and Renaissance times. Regardless of the specific subject, her books describe in great depth what daily life was like during these periods – it’s an immersive experience, and the osmosis factor helped me to create the world of the Chronicles.

I also found inspiration in Ken Follett’s Kingsbridge series, particularly The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End.  Follett’s detailed depiction of the building of the great Gothic cathedrals got me thinking about architecture, engineering, and building from Roman times through the Renaissance and led to the inclusion of some building projects in my own books. His narrative of the inventive ways that those outside mainstream medicine of the day began to understand the nature of the spread of infection and the importance of hygiene and other methods for containing it helped inspire my own exploration of how people dealt with disease over six hundred years ago.

Whether it’s in the shield wall with Uhtred of Bebbanburg or in the fields of Agincourt with Henry V, Bernard Cornwell doesn’t shy away from the gritty and brutal realism of the battlefields of long ago. My battle scenes pale by comparison to Cornwell’s ability to bring the sights and sounds and stench and fear and blood-lust of medieval war to life. But I happily acknowledge my debt to him for showing how to make my battles more realistic than they might otherwise have been.

While the time period is much earlier than that of my stories, Jack Whyte’s re-imagining of the Arthurian legends in his Camulod Chronicles influenced a number of decisions I made for my own series. Whyte postulates a world that might have existed in post-Roman Britain and an entirely realistic history that could, in the absence of any surviving written record, have been the basis for the legends. So what does this have to do with the Second Son Chronicles?

My stories are set at the dawn of the Renaissance, a time when so much is well-known about the characters and events of northern Europe. Asking readers to accept that an entirely different set of royalty, nobility, and events could have existed seemed like too great a suspension of disbelief. But if Whyte could create an entirely imagined history, why couldn’t I create an imagined setting for my own narrative? If readers notice some similarities to northern Europe, then perhaps that only adds to the flavor of the world where my characters play out their lives.

I hope you enjoy reading the Second Son Chronicles as much as I’ve enjoyed bringing the stories to life.

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Book Summary

At the dawn of the Renaissance, Alfred – the eponymous second son – must discover the special destiny foreseen for him by his grandfather. Now, the unthinkable has happened: Alfred’s brother is king. And it isn’t long before everyone’s worst fears are realized. Traditional allegiances are shattered under a style of rule unknown since the grand bargain that formed the kingdom was struck over two hundred years ago. These will be the most dangerous years of Alfred’s life, forcing him to re-examine his duty to personal honor and to the kingdom, while the threats posed by his brother constantly remind him of his father’s final words of advice. What choices will he have to make to try to protect the things he holds most dear?

Print Length: 234 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

ASIN: B08563V87C

ISBN-10: 1684334810

ISBN-13: 9781684334810

Pestilence is available to purchase as a print copy and as an e-book at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble. Be sure to add this to your GoodReads reading list too!

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About the Author, Pamela Taylor

Pamela Taylor brings her love of history to the art of storytelling in the Second Son Chronicles. An avid reader of historical fact and fiction, she finds the past offers rich sources for character, ambiance, and plot that allow readers to escape into a world totally unlike their daily lives. She shares her home with two Corgis who frequently reminder her that a dog walk is the best way to find inspiration for that next chapter.

You can follow her online at:

Author Website: https://pamela-taylor.com

Series Website: https://www.SecondSonChronicles.com

Twitter: @PJTAuthor

Instagram: PJTAuthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheSecondSonChronicles

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/51487326

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— Blog Tour Dates

June 22nd @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Join us as we celebrate the launch of Pamela Taylor’s blog tour for her book Pestilence. You can read an interview with the author and enter to win the first three books in her series “The Second Son Chronicles.”

http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

June 23rd @ Lisa Haselton’s Review and Interviews

Stop by Lisa’s blog today where she interviews author Pamela Taylor about her book Pestilence.

http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com/

June 24th @ Rebecca Whitman’s Blog

Visit Rebecca’s blog today and you can read Pamela Taylor’s guest post discussing the allegory (themes) embedded in the narrative of Pestilence specifically and the Chronicles generally.

https://rebeccawhitman.wordpress.com/

June 25th @ A.J. Sefton’s Blog

Visit A.J. Sefton’s blog and read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.

https://www.ajsefton.com/book-reviews

June 26th @ Jill Sheet’s Blog

Visit Jill’s blog today and read Pamela Taylor’s guest post about getting historical details accurate.

http://jillsheets.blogspot.com/

June 27th @ Storeybook Reviews

Join Leslie today as she shares Pamela Taylor’s guest post about her life with corgis.

https://storeybookreviews.com/

June 28th @ Reading is My Remedy

Visit Chelsie’s blog today and you can read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.

https://readingismyremedy.wordpress.com/

June 29th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit Anthony’s blog today and you can read Pamela Taylor’s guest post about the authors and books that inspired the creation of the Chronicles.

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

June 30th @ The Burgeoning Bookshelf

Visit Veronica’s blog today and you can read a guest post by Pamela Taylor about the trap of linguistic anachronism – getting the language and word usage right for historical narratives.

https://theburgeoningbookshelf.blogspot.com/

July 1st @ Rebecca Whitman’s Blog

Visit Rebecca’s blog again and you can read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.

https://rebeccawhitman.wordpress.com/

July 2nd @ 12 Books

Visit Louise’s blog today and read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.

https://12books.co.uk/

July 3rd @ What is that Book About?

Visit Michelle’s blog today and you can check out a spotlight of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.

https://www.whatisthatbookabout.com/

July 5th @ The New England Book Critic

Visit Vickie’s blog today and read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.

https://thenewenglandbookcritic.com/

July 6th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit Anthony’s blog today and read his review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

July 7th @ Fiona Ingram’s Blog

Join Fiona Ingram today when she shares Pamela Taylor’s guest post about data encryption in ancient times.

https://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/

July 8th @ Bev A. Baird

Visit Bev’s blog today and read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

July 9th @ To Write or Not to Write

Visit Sreevarsha’s blog and read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.

https://sreevarshasreejith.blogspot.com/

July 10th @ Thoughts in Progress

Visit Mason Canyon’s blog today and you can read a guest post by Pamela Taylor about deriving details for your setting from historical maps.

https://masoncanyon.blogspot.com/

July 11th @ Books & Plants

Visit Ashley’s blog and read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.

https://booksbeansandbotany.com/

July 11th @ A Darn Good Read

Join Yvonne as she reviews Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.

https://adarngoodread.blogspot.com/

July 14th @ Knotty Needle

Visit Judy’s blog and read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.

http://knottyneedle.blogspot.com/

July 15th @ World of My Imagination

Visit Nicole’s blog and read Pamela Taylor’s guest post about period-appropriate names for characters.

http://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com

July 17th @ Books & Plants

Visit Ashley’s blog and read Pamela Taylor’s guest post about ways to do historical research.

https://booksbeansandbotany.com/

July 18th @ Bookworm Blog

Stop by Anjanette’s blog today where you can read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence. Plus you can read an interview with the author!

https://bookworm66.wordpress.com/

July 20th @ Coffee with Lacey

Visit Lacey’s blog where you can read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.

https://coffeewithlacey.com/

July 24th @ Medievalists

Stop by Medievalists where you can check out a spotlight of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.

https://www.medievalists.net/

July 25th @ Boots, Shoes, and Fashion

Stop by Linda’s blog today and read her extensive interview with author Pamela Taylor about her book Pestilence.

http://bootsshoesandfashion.com/

July 25th @ Reading in the Wildwood

Join Megan today and read her review of Pamela Taylor’s book Pestilence.

https://readinginthewildwood.com/

Posted in Blog Tours, Guest Post

Guest Blog Post: Self-Care By Sarah Dickinson

 As we tread through the New Year, we find some, if not all, of our resolutions falling by the wayside. However, one doesn’t have to wait till December 31st and the rush of holiday feels and stress to decide to make changes. Any day is a good day to take care of yourself, and one of the best things you can do is introduce some self-care into your life.

  With self-care becoming a growing topic I want to be clear about what it’s not. It isn’t a license to make unhealthy choices or shirk responsibility. It’s not about spending sprees or throwing around money you don’t have. In a world full of consequences, the last thing it should encourage is a bucket full of regrets when you must face the music from your choices.

  Our world is ever -spinning and growing, and ever rushing us from one moment to the next. Self-care is about the pause where you allow yourself to smell the roses, as it were. Where the must crucial aspect is an honest internal dialogue. Taking a few moments to quietly address and asses your needs whether they are emotional, physical or mental. Once you figure out what you are in need of to achieve balance you then select an activity to improve that.

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 So here are some simple things you can do every day to both provide yourself with care as well as opening up dialogue within yourself, so it becomes second nature.

  1. GET MORE SLEEP. Countless studies show that the majority of us are not getting enough sleep. We probably all know better sleep equals better mood, but did you know it also helps prevent weight gain, improves memory, hand eye coordination as well as strengthen your heart? It truly is one of the best things you can give yourself and will help you in making the most of your day. It will make the good days sweeter and provide the strength to get through the bad ones. Yes, despite what many other articles will tell you bad days are sure to be par for the course. There’s no amount of self-help, positive perspective or vitamins that can guarantee a great day every day.
  2. LEAVE YOUR PHONE OFF FOR 1 HOUR. You may wonder how this even applies to self-care. Well, it does, on two levels. Studies show us time and time again that all this technology, social media, and unbound access to more information than any human could every use has a definite downside. It impacts our self-esteem, self-worth, stress levels, concentration, as well as wear down our ability to read most nonverbal cues. Another benefit is this routine time disconnected allows you to reconnect to yourself. You will hear and grow that inner voice that is telling you what it needs. You can spend an hour when you wake up without your phone, or at least an hour before bed. Use this time to read, journal, or even day dream.
  3. TAKE 10-15 MINUTES OUTSIDE. Remember when you were younger and your best days were spent outside, with friends having adventures? Maybe you were on your bikes till the sun went down, or ended the day sitting on a porch with a cold drink or frozen treat. Whatever the case may be, and probably without you realizing it, your mind and body reaped the rewards of the fresh air and the sun shinning on your face. However, the world of adulting leaves us very little time to kick off our shoes and walk through the grass. Endless errands, appointments and responsibilities keep us in our cars, offices, or other building. before we get up to do it all again tomorrow. So, carve out just 10 minutes each day to find your way outside. To feel the sun on your face, the breeze on your skin and the smells that surround you as you take a deep breath.
  4.  SAY NO. I can’t say this enough, we spread ourselves too thin. We may have the best of intentions, but we do. Women more so then men feel the inner conflict of guilt that leads them to agree to things they don’t have the time, funds, or plain interest in doing. We mostly do this to prevent hurt feelings or guilt. There’s only one way I can say this, and that’s bluntly. No matter who they are, no matter what you may have to offer…. they can make it without you. Your involvement alone is not enough to make or break any person’s event or favor. They will get by without you, you need you for every moment of your life. Say yes when you can, or when you want to, but say no when you can’t. Every single time, no matter the reason. 
  5. DO YOU. This is the part that’s different for everyone, but every single day you need to do one thing solely for your own personal joy. It doesn’t matter how many people depend on you, whether it’s at work or home. From children to coworkers there will always be someone you have to make time for. If you are willing to give it to them then there’s no reason to keep it from yourself. It may be getting yourself your favorite treat on your way to work, taking control of the playlist for your commute and singing out loud, or giving yourself a small upgrade when you’re at the store. It can also be the big things once in a while. Like making up a bucket list, spending a day off going on an adventure, buying that outfit you’ve been eyeing, or having a date night once a week at a new restaurant

  I like to tell people that the end of my 30’s marked major changes for me. I became a mother young, and wife even younger. I lived my life for everyone else. My children, husband, parents, friends and any person in between. Then I got in over my head with a person who meant the world to me. Unfortunately, they also suffered from addiction and I found myself being called upon for favor after. The experience of those years led to two major moments. The moment I changed my perspective about almost everything in my life, and the moment I decided to share my story. I learned how to listen to myself. To figure out who I am, what I want and what I need. I also learned how to take all that love, focus, and support I gave to almost everyone and to finally start giving it to myself as well. When I decided to share my story, I spent almost two years writing my novel. Silver Spoons: One’s Journey through Addiction. Despite how many or few copies I may sell I’ve already reaped the benefits of writing it. I saw a dream come to life in finishing a novel, pride at accomplishing something not everyone can do, and peace. I found peace with hearing people tell me their stories. We sadly live in a world where everyone knows an addict or someone who loves an addict.

   With all of these experiences and while I have your attention. I would love nothing more than everyone reading this to take care of themselves. Love yourself, nurture yourself, and craft your own stories. I promise you, you’ll never regret that choice 

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Book Summary

Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction takes an intimate and raw look at the current face of addiction and recovery. Talking about the current opioid epidemic, we follow a young couple while one of them goes through the recovery process. Told through letters, we get an understanding of their relationship as it struggles through his addiction and resulting recovery. From detox, rehab, sober living and the 12 steps of A.A, you get a raw and honest look at the effects of addiction and how they affect relationships.

AUTHOR NOTE: There is explicit and graphic content.

Print Length: 380 Pages

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Publisher: Independently Published

ISBN-13: 978-1717868947

ISBN-10: 1717868940

Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction is now available to purchase at Amazon.com.

About the Author, Sarah Dickinson

Sarah Dickinson is a lifelong resident in beautiful upstate New York. Mother of two amazing daughters and three equally awesome rescue dogs, she is the author of Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction. She currently attends college and is in the midst of switching careers. When she isn’t doing it all, she reads comic books, blogs, and takes weekend getaways.

You can find the author online at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Silver-Spoons-Ones-Journey-Through-Addiction-916257075228829/

Blog: https://wordpress.com/stats/day/sarahvdickinson.art.blog 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sarahdauthor/

Goodreads Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19325669.Sarah_Dickinson

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— Blog Tour Dates

January 27th @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Visit our blog today and you can read an interview with the author of Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction and also enter to win a copy of the book!

http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

January 28th @ 12 Books

Stop by Louise’s blog today and read her review of Sarah Dickinson’s book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction.

www.12books.co.uk

January 29th @ Joyful Antidotes

Make sure you visit Joy’s blog today and read her review of the book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction.

https://www.joyfulantidotes.com

January 30th @ 12 Books

Visit Louise’s blog again where you can review Sarah Dickinson’s guest post about 5 reasons why you should consider a change in lifestyle.

www.12books.co.uk

February 1st @ Author Anthony Avina Blog

Make sure you visit Anthony’s blog today where he shares a spotlight of Sarah Dickinson’s book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction.

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

February 2nd @ A Storybook World

Deirdra will be highlighting Sarah Dickinson’s book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction with a spotlight post.

http://www.astorybookworld.com/

February 3rd @ Jill Sheets’ Blog

Visit Jill’s blog today and read Sarah Dickinson’s guest post about 5 reasons to consider a change in your relationships.

http://jillsheets.blogspot.com/

February 4th @ Coffee with Lacey

Join Lacey over at her blog today and read her review of Sarah Dickinson’s book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction.

https://coffeewithlacey.com/

February 10th @ To Write or Not to Write

Visit Varsha’s blog today and read her review of Sarah Dickinson’s book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction.

https://sreevarshasreejith.blogspot.com/

February 10th @ StoreyBook Reviews

Make sure to visit Leslie’s blog today and check out an excerpt of the book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction.

https://storeybookreviews.com/

February 12th @ The Faerie Review

Visit Lily’s blog today and read her review of the powerful book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction.

http://www.thefaeriereview.com/

February 13th @ Author Anthony Avina Blog

Visit Anthony’s blog again where you can read a guest post by author Sarah Dickinson. Make sure you check out her easy self-care tips to add to your daily routine.

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

February 14th @ Jessica Belmont’s Blog

Visit Jessica’s blog today and you can read her review of Sarah Dickinson’s book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction.

https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/

February 16th @ And So She Thinks

Make sure you visit Francesca’s blog today and read her review of Sarah Dickinson’s book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction. You can also read an interview with the author!

https://andsoshethinks.wordpress.com/

February 18th @ Choices

Visit Madeline’s blog and you can read Sarah Dickinson’s guest post about how to be self-aware in your writing.

http://madelinesharples.com/

February 19th @ It’s Alanna Jean

Make sure you visit Alanna’s blog and read a guest post by Sarah Dickinson called, “5 Reasons to Consider a Change in Career.”

http://ItsAlannaJean.wordpress.com

February 20th @ The Frugalista Mom

Visit Rozelyn’s blog today and you can read her review of the book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction by Sarah Dickinson. Also, win a copy for yourself too!

https://thefrugalistamom.com/

February 21st @ The  Frugalista Mom

Stop by Rozelyn’s blog today and you can read Sarah Dickinson’s guest post about how to raise a confident (but not arrogant) child.

https://thefrugalistamom.com/

February 23rd @ Author Anthony Avina Blog

Stop by Anthony’s blog and you can read his review of Sarah Dickinson’s book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction. 

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

February 24th @ Armed with a Book

Visit Kriti’s blog today and read her review of Sarah Dickinson’s book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction.

February 25th @ Armed with a Book

Make sure you visit Kriti’s blog again when she interviews the author Sarah Dickinson.

Posted in Blog Tours, reviews

First Cut by Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A medical examiner new to the San Francisco area finds herself embroiled in a harrowing case involving a murder to cover up the actions of a ruthless drug lord in authors Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell’s “First Cut”. 

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The Synopsis

Wife and husband duo Dr. Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell first enthralled the book world with their runaway bestselling memoir Working Stiff—a fearless account of a young forensic pathologist’s “rookie season” as a NYC medical examiner. This winter, Dr. Melinek, now a prominent forensic pathologist in the Bay Area, once again joins forces with writer T.J. Mitchell to take their first stab at fiction. 

The result: FIRST CUT (Hanover Square Press; Hardcover; January 7, 2020; $26.99)—a gritty and compelling crime debut about a hard-nosed San Francisco medical examiner who uncovers a dangerous conspiracy connecting the seedy underbelly of the city’s nefarious opioid traffickers and its ever-shifting terrain of tech startups.

Dr. Jessie Teska has made a chilling discovery. A suspected overdose case contains hints of something more sinister: a drug lord’s attempt at a murderous cover up. As more bodies land on her autopsy table, Jessie uncovers a constellation of deaths that point to an elaborate network of powerful criminals—on both sides of the law—that will do anything to keep things buried. But autopsy means “see for yourself,” and Jessie Teska won’t stop until she’s seen it all—even if it means the next corpse on the slab could be her own.

The Review

A brilliant read, this novel perfectly blends the expertise and gritty reality of forensic work and the work of the medical examiners office with the harrowing and heart-pounding action that comes with a good thriller. 

The story cuts into the complex web of lies uncovered by Jessie Teska, from drug kingpins and dirty lawyers to collegues she thought she could trust and beyond. Haunted by a painful past, Jessie finds herself fighting to uncover the truth behind a horrific crime, with only her brilliant mind and determination to aid her in her fight against politics, criminal empires and more. 

The Verdict

A fantastic thriller for anyone who enjoys a heavy mix of medical forensics and suspense, authors Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell have created a masterful story that will give readers a protagonist to root for, a story to engage with and a brilliant race to the finish that will keep readers on the edge of their seat. If you haven’t yet, grab your copy of Final Cut today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Authors

Judy Melinek was an assistant medical examiner in San Francisco for nine years, and today works as a forensic pathologist in Oakland and as CEO of PathologyExpert Inc. She and T.J. Mitchell met as undergraduates at Harvard, after which she studied medicine and practiced pathology at UCLA. Her training in forensics at the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner is the subject of their first book, the memoir Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner.
T.J. Mitchell is a writer with an English degree from Harvard, and worked in the film industry before becoming a full-time stay-at-home dad. He is the New York Times bestselling co-author of Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner with his wife, Judy Melinek.

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SOCIAL:

TWITTER:

FB: @DrWorkingStiff

Insta:

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BUY LINKS:

Harlequin 

Indiebound

Amazon

Barnes & Noble 

Books-A-Million

Target

Walmart

Google

iBooks

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EXCERPT

PROLOGUE

Los Angeles
May

The dead woman on my table had pale blue eyes, long lashes, no mascara. She wore a thin rim of black liner on her lower lids but none on the upper. I inserted the twelve gauge needle just far enough that I could see its beveled tip through the pupil, then pulled the syringe plunger to aspirate a sample of vitreous fluid. That was the first intrusion I made on her corpse during Mary Catherine Walsh’s perfectly ordinary autopsy.

The external examination had been unremarkable. The decedent appeared to be in her midthirties, blond hair with dun roots, five foot four, 144 pounds. After checking her over and noting identifying marks (monochromatic professional tattoo of a Celtic knot on lower left flank, appendectomy scar on abdomen, well-healed stellate scar on right knee), I picked up a scalpel and sliced from each shoulder to the breastbone, and then all the way down her belly. I peeled back the layers of skin and fat on her torso—an ordinary amount, maybe a little on the chubby side—and opened the woman’s chest like a book.

I had made similar Y-incisions on 256 other bodies during my ten months as a forensic pathologist at the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office, and this one was easy. No sign of trauma. Normal liver. Healthy lungs. There was nothing wrong with her heart. The only significant finding was the white, granular material of the gastric contents. In her stomach was a mass of semidigested pills.

When I opened her uterus, I found she’d been pregnant. I measured the fetus’s foot length and estimated its age at twelve weeks. The fetus appeared to have been viable. It was too young to determine sex.

I deposited the organs one by one at the end of the stainless-steel table. I had just cut into her scalp to start on the skull when Matt, the forensic investigator who had collected the body the day before, came in.

“Clean scene,” he reported, depositing the paperwork on my station. “Suicide.”

I asked him where he was going for lunch. Yogurt and a damn salad at his desk, he told me: bad cholesterol and a worried wife. I extended my condolences as he headed back out of the autopsy suite.

I scanned through Matt’s handwriting on the intake sheet and learned that the body had been found, stiff and cold, in a locked and secure room at the Los Angeles Omni hotel. The cleaning staff called the police. The ID came from the name on the credit card used to pay for the room, and was confirmed by fingerprint comparison with her driver’s license thumbprint. A handwritten note lay on the bed stand, a pill bottle in the trash. Nothing else. Matt was right: There was no mystery to the way Mary Walsh had died.

I hit the dictaphone’s toe trigger and pointed my mouth toward the microphone dangling over the table. “The body is identified by a Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s tag attached to the right great toe, inscribed LACD-03226, Walsh, Mary Catherine…”

I broke the seal on the plastic evidence bag and pulled out the pill bottle. It was labeled OxyContin, a powerful painkiller, and it was empty.

“Accompanying the body is a sealed plastic bag with an empty prescription medication bottle. The name on the prescription label…”

I read the name but didn’t speak it. The hair started standing up on my neck. I looked down at my morning’s work—the splayed body, flecked with gore, the dissected womb tossed on a heap of other organs.

That can’t be, I told myself. It can’t.

On the clipboard underneath the case intake sheet I found a piece of hotel stationery sealed in another evidence bag. It was the suicide note, written in blue ink with a steady feminine hand. I skimmed it—then stopped, and went back.

I read it again.

I heard the clipboard land at my feet. I gripped the raised lip of my autopsy table. I held tight while the floor fell away.


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Q&A with Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell

Q: Do you plan your books in advance or let them develop as you write?

A:The idea for First Cut was prompted by some of Judy’s actual cases when she worked as a San Francisco medical examiner. She has real experience performing autopsy death investigation, and she also has the imagination to apply that experience to a fictional framework for our forensic detective, Dr. Jessie Teska. Judy invented the story, and together we worked it up as an outline. Then T.J. sat in a room wrestling with words all day—which he loves to do—to produce the first complete manuscript. That’s our inspiration plus perspiration dynamic as co-authors.

Q: What does the act of writing mean to you?

A: It is, and has always been, something we can do together, an important part of our marriage. We’ve collaborated as a creative team since we were in college together many years ago, producing and directing student theater. We’ve also spent twenty years raising our four children, and have always approached parenting as a partnership. We find it easy to work together because we write like we parent: relying on one another, each of us playing to our strengths. It helps that, in our writing process, we have no overlapping skill set!

 Q: Have you ever had a character take over a story, and if so, who was it and why?

A: Oh, yes! That’s our heroine, Dr. Jessie Teska. She has elements of Judy in her, and elements of T.J., but Jessie is a distinct individual and a strong-willed one. We’re often surprised and even shocked by the ways she reacts to the situations we put her in. There are times we’ll be writing what we thought was a carefully laid-out scene, and Jessie will take us sideways. She’s coming off T.J.’s fingertips on the the keyboard, both of us watching with mouths agape, saying, “What the hell is she up to?”

Q: Which one of First Cut’s characters was the hardest to write and why?

A: Tommy Teska, Jessie’s brother. He’s a minor character to the book’s plot, but the most important person in Jessie’s life, and he’s a reticent man, downright miserly with his dialogue. Tommy carries such great emotional weight, but it was hard to draw it out of him, especially because so much of his bond to our heroine is in the backstory of First Cut, not in the immediate narrative that lands on the page. We’re now working on the sequel, Cross Cut, and finding that Tommy has more occasion to open up in that story.

Q: Which character in any of your books (First Cut or otherwise) is dearest to you and why?

A: The late Dr. Charles Sidney Hirsch, from our first book, the memoir Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner. Dr. Hirsch is not just a character: He was a real person, Judy’s mentor and a towering figure in the world of forensic pathology. Dr. Hirsch trained Dr. Melinek in her specific field of medicine and imbued in her his passion for it. He was a remarkable man, a great teacher and physician and public servant—a person of uncompromising integrity coupled with great emotional intelligence.

Q: What did you want to be as a child? Was it an author?

A: Judy’s father was a physician, and though she never wanted to follow in his immediate footsteps—he was a psychiatrist—she has always wanted to be another Dr. Melinek. T.J. has always been a writer, but also has theater training and worked in the film industry. As much as we enjoyed authoring the memoir Working Stiff, and as happy as we have been with its success, we are even more thrilled to be detective novelists.

Q: What does a day in the life of Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell look like?

A: Judy is a morning person and T.J.’s a night owl, so we split parenting responsibilities. Judy gets the kids off to school and then heads to the morgue, where she performs autopsies in the morning and works with police, district attorneys, and defense lawyers in the afternoon. T.J. takes care of the household and after-school duties. If we work together during the day, it’s usually by email in the late afternoon. T.J. cooks dinner, Judy goes to bed early, and he’s up late—at his most productive writing from nine to midnight or later.

Q: What do you use to inspire you when you get Writer’s Block?

A: We go for a long walk together. Our far corner of San Francisco overlooks the Pacific Ocean, bracketed by cypress trees and blown over with fog, and serves as an inspiring landscape. We explore the edge of the continent and talk out where our characters have been and where they need to get, tossing ideas back and forth until a solution, what to do next on the page, emerges. Getting away for a stroll with our imaginary friends is always a fruitful exercise!

Q: What book would you take with you to a desert island?

A: T.J. would take the Riverside Shakespeare, and Judy would take Poisonous Plants: A Handbook for Doctors, Pharmacists, Toxicologists, Biologists and Veterinarians, Illustrated.

Q: Do you have stories on the back burner that are just waiting to be written?

A: Always! We are inspired by Dr. Melinek’s real-life work, both in the morgue and at crime scenes, in police interrogation rooms, and in courtrooms. Our stories are fiction—genre fiction structured in the noir-detective tradition—but the forensic methods our detective employs and the scientific findings she comes to are drawn from real death investigations.

Q: What has been the hardest thing about publishing? What has been the most fun?

A: The hardest thing is juggling our work schedules to find uninterrupted time together to write. The most fun is meeting and talking to our readers at book events, especially those who have been inspired to go into the field of forensic pathology after reading our work.

Q: What advice would you give budding authors about publishing?

A: It’s all about connectivity. Linking up with other writers, readers, editors, and research experts is a crucial way to get your work accomplished, and to get it out to your audience. Yes, ultimately it’s just you and the keyboard, but in the course of writing your story, you can and should tap into the hive mind, online and in person, for inspiration and help.

Q: What was the last thing you read?

A: Judy last read The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist by Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington, and T.J. last read The Witch Elm by Tana French.

Q: Your top five authors?

A: Judy’s are Atul Gawande, Henry James, Kathy Reichs, Mary Roach, and Oliver Sacks. T.J.’s are Margaret Atwood, Joseph Heller, Ed McBain, Ross Macdonald, and Kurt Vonnegut.

Q: Book you’ve bought just for the cover?

A: T.J.: Canary by Duane Swierczynski. Judy: Mütter Museum Historical Medical Photographs.

Q: Tell us about what you’re working on now.

A: First Cut is the debut novel in a detective series, and we’ve recently finished the rough draft of Cross Cut, its sequel. We are in the revision phase now, killing our darlings and tightening our tale, working to get the further adventures of Dr. Jessie Teska onto bookshelves next year!

Posted in reviews

Husband Material by Emily Belden Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young woman must face her heartbreaking past and discovers a shocking secret in author Emily Belden’s novel “Husband Material”. 

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The Synopsis 

Told in Emily Belden’s signature edgy voice, a novel about a young widow’s discovery of her late husband’s secret and her journey toward hope and second-chance love.

Twenty-nine-year-old Charlotte Rosen has a secret: she’s a widow. Ever since the fateful day that leveled her world, Charlotte has worked hard to move forward. Great job at a hot social media analytics company? Check. Roommate with no knowledge of her past? Check. Adorable dog? Check. All the while, she’s faithfully data-crunched her way through life, calculating the probability of risk—so she can avoid it.

Yet Charlotte’s algorithms could never have predicted that her late husband’s ashes would land squarely on her doorstep five years later. Stunned but determined, Charlotte sets out to find meaning in this sudden twist of fate, even if that includes facing her perfectly coiffed, and perfectly difficult, ex-mother-in-law—and her husband’s best friend, who seems to become a fixture at her side whether she likes it or not.

But soon a shocking secret surfaces, forcing Charlotte to answer questions she never knew to ask and to consider the possibility of forgiveness. And when a chance at new love arises, she’ll have to decide once and for all whether to follow the numbers or trust her heart.

The Review

This book has the perfect balance of rom/com style dialogue with heartfelt, emotional themes that deal with the reality of loss, in particular losing a spouse at an early age. The novel answers the question of how we find the motivation and will to move on and if finding love again is possible, while also delving into the complex feelings that come with respecting the past and meeting the future head-on. 

The protagonist perfectly showcases a strong lead that directs the story forward in a natural progression while also showing off how the protagonist’s pain and way of dealing with grief have closed themselves off from the rest of the world, including the people closest to her. The author does a great job of not following the formula exactly for a rom/com stylebook, instead of writing real characters with complex emotions that leaves the future for the characters open to interpretation, just as life truly is. 

The Verdict

A masterful romance, comedy yet dramatic story with rich characters and an evenly paced tone, the novel Husband Material by Emily Belden is a must-read for any fans of the romance genre. A great hit with lots of hearts, fans will not be able to put down their copies anytime soon. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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Author Bio:

EMILY BELDEN is a journalist, social media marketer, and storyteller. She is the author of the novel Hot Mess and Eightysixed: A Memoir about Unforgettable Men, Mistakes, and Meals. She lives in Chicago. Visit her website at http://www.emilybelden.com or follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @emilybelden.

Advance Praise for Husband Material

“Tackling thorny questions of widowhood and dating after trauma, Belden’s second novel is witty, full of heart, and blindingly au courant. Packed with pop-culture references, it will appeal to fans of Sophie Kinsella, Rosie Walsh, and Plum Sykes. Belden writes twists and turns to keep readers hooked.” Booklist

“Charming.” Publishers Weekly

“Sensitive, thoughtful, and touching.” —Library Journal

“In this touching, witty, and timely book, Emily Belden deftly explores the complexities of human relationships in our increasingly tech-obsessed world. By turns heartbreaking and laugh-out-loud funny, Husband Material beautifully demonstrates that you can’t reduce love to a bunch of 1s and 0s.”

—Kristin Rockaway, author of How To Hack a Heartbreak

Buy Links:

Harlequin: https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9781525805981_husband-material.html

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Husband-Material-Emily-Belden/dp/1525805983

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/husband-material-emily-belden/1129908343?ean=9781525805981#/

Indie Bound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781525805981

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/husband-material-12

Google Books: https://books.google.com/books/about/Husband_Material.html?id=0sR6DwAAQBAJ

Social Links:

Author website: http://www.emilybelden.com/

Twitter: @emilybelden

Instagram: @emilybelden

Facebook: @emilybeldenauthor

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Q&A with Emily Belden

Q: When you begin writing a love story, do you know how you want it to end? Or do you decide as you develop the plot?

A: I generally have an idea of how I want things to wrap up, but what I always struggle with is that final sentence. How do you know you’re REALLY there? I often ready my theoretical last sentence out loud, followed by saying “The End”, and if it feels like it has a certain “ring” to it, then I can shut the laptop. If not, then I know it’s not my stopping point. Wrapping up that final thought with a bow on it is super important. It’s what I want when I read a book, at least.

Q: How was it to write about grief, pain and love for the same character?

A: It was new. That’s really the best word to explain it. HOT MESS has so many autobiographical elements to it (i.e., restaurant industry know-how, dating an addict, etc.) but HUSBAND MATERIAL was all unchartered territory for me. I realized right away that in order to write about the grief of losing a spouse/partner, I had to curate a focus group of real-life women like Charlotte and really learn from them to bring the level of authenticity and nuance needed to successfully write the book.

Q: What type of love stories do you like? Or were there ones you looked to as you began writing Husband Material?

A: I like really unexpected love stories. In today’s literary landscape, there’s certainly a formula that is pretty common. So it’s the books that break or stray from that formula that really do it for me. I like stories where it’s not innately clear who the protagonist is going to end up with. Even with HOT MESS there’s a moment where (I hope) the reader is like “OMG WHAT IS HAPPENING” insofar as Allie’s love story goes. Same with Charlotte in HUSBAND MATERIAL.

Q: Do you prefer to write by planning ahead (ie outlining, etc) or just go with the flow as inspiration hits?

A: I prefer to go with the flow. My general writing pattern is banging out 1-2 chapters at a time and then ending my work with a bulleted list of what I think needs to happen next. That way, when I open up my laptop and start to write the next 1-2 chapters, I’m not totally lost or forgetful of where I left off. It helps me figure out what would make sense in the flow of the pages.

Q: When did you know you wanted to become an author? What are you currently reading and what’s on your TBR list?

A: It’s been my only god-given talent since I was a little kid. It started with really creative letters to Santa or the Tooth Fairy. I won a contest to be a kid reporter for the Chicago Tribune when I was 12 years old and after that, my fate was sealed. I knew I wanted to write at the highest level I could! I am currently reading a book called Lulu’s Cafe by an author who is also repped by my agents, Browne & Miller. I really love it and can picture it as an adorable Hallmark Movie. 

Q: What inspired you to write this book?

A: I heard a news story on the TV when I was doing dishes at my (former) home in San Diego. It was about a developer who wanted to buy the land a mausoleum was on so they could tear it down and build luxury condos overlooking the ocean. I thought, how crazy if your loved one’s ashes just got mailed back to you one day and the resting place you thought was final, wasn’t. It wasn’t easy, but turned that general premise into a light-side-of-heavy rom-com.

Q: What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

A: Over all, that second chances at love take all different forms. You never know the circumstances someone has found themselves in, so be kind. For Charlotte, I intentionally wrote the first few chapters as if she was divorced–talking about her “first marriage”. Then you find out “Oh, sh*t, she’s a widow,” and all the sudden your emotional connection with her changes. I also find it interesting writing about death. We don’t talk about it in society, especially not in contemporary women’s fiction. A tragic, unexpected death is the crux of this book. Let’s dig in!

Q: What drew you into this particular genre?

A: I saw there was room to carve out a spot for someone like me who writes unexpected, voicey, edgy, authentic women’s fiction and so I went full steam ahead with the help of a great agent to make it happen.

Q: If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

A: I would sit down with Charlotte. I’ve met the “real life” versions of her when doing my focus groups for research, it would be my honor to meet her. I’d ask her if she wanted to team up and develop a dating app framed around people’s dogs. 

Q: What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

A: Instagram. I feel like I’ve become friends with people I’ve never met in real life. They cheer me on and I’m humbled by it. I also find other authors on Facebook in certain literary groups. This has been fun and has helped me grow my TBR list with books I otherwise wouldn’t have heard of.

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Q: What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

A: Be patient. Be patient with the process – success as an author is fluid and can mean many different things. Nothing happens overnight. It’s a process. And be patient with yourself. If you aren’t vibing your writing, don’t put pressure on yourself to tap keys just because you said you were going to do 1,000 words tonight. There are times two weeks go by and I haven’t opened my Word doc once. But then when I am vibing it, I can cruise for 10K words and absolutely rock it. There’s an ebb and flow, for sure.

Q: What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

A: I am working on a third novel at my own pace right now. I’m very excited about it and just exploring where the plot takes me. I would love to work on a film/TV/podcast adaption of any of my existing works as a next step, too. I also got married nine months ago and am enjoying life with my soulmate, Matt.

Posted in reviews

Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A chilling death takes readers into the mysterious and secretive world of a prestigious prep school in author J.T. Ellison’s novel “Good Girls Lie”. 

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The Synopsis

Perched atop a hill in the tiny town of Marchburg, Virginia, The Goode School is a prestigious prep school known as a Silent Ivy. The boarding school of choice for daughters of the rich and influential, it accepts only the best and the brightest. Its elite status, long-held traditions and honor code are ideal for preparing exceptional young women for brilliant futures at Ivy League universities and beyond. But a stranger has come to Goode, and this ivy has turned poisonous.

In a world where appearances are everything, as long as students pretend to follow the rules, no one questions the cruelties of the secret societies or the dubious behavior of the privileged young women who expect to get away with murder. But when a popular student is found dead, the truth cannot be ignored. Rumors suggest she was struggling with a secret that drove her to suicide.

But look closely…because there are truths and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened.

J.T. Ellison’s pulse-pounding new novel examines the tenuous bonds of friendship, the power of lies and the desperate lengths people will go to to protect their secrets.

The Review

A fantastic thriller that does an excellent job of taking readers through an underutilized setting and explores the lies, deceit and horrors that come often to those enrolled in the life of the wealthy and elite. A shocking death takes readers through a harrowing story of a young woman escaping her past, only for it to come back and haunt her in unexpected ways. 

As her past catches up to her, the secrets she has been hiding begin to unravel the other secrets the school has to offer, and those who reside in it. A story of family, lies and love turns into a chilling mystery that will leave the students and faculty alike of this prestigious school shaken forever. The novel’s plot is what takes center stage in this carefully crafted novel, bringing the tale of this inexplicable death to life as the truth becomes stranger than the fiction the characters were telling themselves. 

The Verdict

A must read thriller of 2020! A brilliant, evenly paced read that thoroughly explores the background of the school and the lives of the cast of characters, this novel will keep readers on the edge of their seat and will shock everyone as the final pages play out the story of the novel’s protagonist in an unexpected way. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of J.T. Ellison’s “Good Girls Lie” today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

J.T. Ellison is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 20 novels, and the EMMY-award winning co-host of A WORD ON WORDS, Nashville’s premier literary show. With millions of books in print, her work has won critical acclaim, prestigious awards, and has been published in 26 countries. Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband and twin kittens.

Buy Links: 

Harlequin 

Indiebound

Amazon

Barnes & Noble 

Books-A-Million

Target

Google

iBooks

Kobo

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @thrillerchick

Facebook: @JTEllison14

Instagram: @thrillerchick

Goodreads

BookBub

Q&A with J.T. Ellison

• Do you plan your books in advance or let them develop as you write?

Both. Sometimes the story just unfolds, and sometimes I have to relentlessly work on themes and turning points and characters’ points of view. Every book is different, every book has its own unique challenges. I’m always thinking about what’s next, and sometimes even what’s after that. But when it comes to actually sitting down to write, I like to let the story unfold a bit, let it stretch its wings, before I try to lash it to the mast and conform it to my vision.

• What does the act of writing mean to you?

It’s a sacred contract with me and a mythical “someone” who might read the words at some point in the future and find them entertaining or moving. It’s sheer magic on my end, creating, and sheer magic on the readers’ end, when they get to experience what was in my head as I was writing. It’s the most incredible mystical experience out there.

• Have you ever had a character take over a story, and if so, who was it and why?

All the time. Oh my gosh, all the time. Honestly, if the character doesn’t run away with things, I know there’s a problem. Ivy, n LIE TO ME, is a particular favorite. She’s just so nasty…

• Which one of Good Girls Lie’s characters was the hardest to write and why?

Ash, for sure. She was so elusive and aloof with me. The Britishisms, the secrets, the lies, she was always just out of reach. Of course, that was because I’d written her in third person. When I switched her to first, she wouldn’t shut up. 

• Which character in any of your books (Good Girls Lie or otherwise) is dearest to you and why?

Oh that’s an impossible question. Taylor. Sam. Sutton. Vivian. Ash. Aubrey. Ivy. Juliet. Lauren. Becca. Gavin. Baldwin. Xander. They are all me, on some level, whether it’s a fear or a triumph, a flaw or a heroic action. A moment of love or a moment of animosity. It’s like asking me to choose among my children, which one is my favorite. (I don’t have kids, by the way, but I couldn’t pick my favorite of my kittens, either.)

• What did you want to be as a child? Was it an author?

I desperately wanted to be Colorado’s first female firefighter. When that job was taken, I cast about. Doctor. Lawyer. Fighter Pilot. Spy. International business maven. Olympic swimmer. Poet. In the end, being a writer was my only choice. That way, I get to experience all the lives I could have led.

• What does a day in the life of J.T. Ellison look like?

It’s rather blissful. It starts rather lazily, with the cats cuddled into my arms and the newspaper on my iPad, then progresses to kicking the lazy beasts out, pouring a cup of tea and handling email. I am not a morning person, so I tend to do business in the morning and writing in the afternoon, when I’m sharper. I’ve always wanted to be the writer who gets up at 5 am to write whilst the birds chirp and the house sleeps, watching the sun rise and running five miles before the rest of the world is awake, but alas, it was not meant to be. You need to go to a concert that starts at ten p.m., I’m your girl. 

• What do you use to inspire you when you get Writer’s Block?

It depends. If it’s a genuine block, a I’ve lost faith in myself and my work block, I will step away from the manuscript entirely, read, walk, golf, yoga, go out for margaritas with my husband, anything to remove me from the situation. But 90 percent of the time, it’s just a story issue, so I work it out with some of my creative partners. Lots of texting and phone calls and what ifs, until it shakes itself free. 

• What book would you take with you to a desert island?

Hmmm… my knee jerk is the Harry Potter series – I know, I know, that’s seven books, but I’m sure there’s an omnibus edition somewhere. The fight for good and evil never ceases to amaze and comfort me. Knowing love conquers evil is a big deal in this world. And Hermione kicks ass. If I’m forced into a single title, Plato’s Republic. I’ve been obsessed with the allegory of the cave my entire adult life. 

• Favorite quote?

“Do. Or Do not. There is no try.” – Master Yoda

• Coffee or tea?

Loose leaf earl grey. Making tea is a meditative experience for me.

• Best TV or Movie adaptation of a book?

Clueless, hands-down the best adaptation of Austen’s Emma ever, and I’ve been enjoying A Discovery of Witches, based on the fabulous books by Deborah Harkness. Outlander isn’t bad, either. And Game of Thrones… obviously, I don’t include anything past the second episode of the final season of that, though I did enjoy the whole Deanarys-Drogon airborne apocalypse. I mean, talk about a girl who had reason to be aggravated with society.

• Do you have stories on the back burner that are just waiting to be written?

So. Many. Stories. I will never get to them all. At last count, there are 49 in my “Story Idea” folder, with several more floating around in my head. 

• What has been the hardest thing about publishing? What has been the most fun?

The hardest is staying in the game, juggling the necessary mix of creativity and business, finding new paths to reach readers and leveling up the writing so it’s possible to grow my career. It was much easier to write, to focus, before our constant connections to the internet consumed us. The most fun is that email from a reader, when something I’ve written strikes a chord with them and they write to tell me they love a story, or a character, or an ending. It doesn’t get better than that. 

• What advice would you give budding authors about publishing?

Stay as much in a vacuum as you can while writing. You don’t need a platform, you need an excellent, groundbreaking book. And read everything. Everything you can get your hands on. You learn writing through osmosis as much as writing the books themselves. Find your writing habit and hold it sacred. If you respect your work, your people will, too.

• What was the last thing you read?

I just finished Holly Black’s THE QUEEN OF NOTHING, the finale of her Folk of the Air trilogy, and just finished listening to BAG OF BONES by Stephen King. Both were exceptional.

• Your top five authors?

Diana Gabaldon

JK Rowling

Deborah Harkness

Leigh Bardugo

Sarah J. Maas

• Book you’ve bought just for the cover?

That’s how I found the Holly Black trilogy – I adored the cover of THE CRUELEST PRINCE.

• Tell us about what you’re working on now.

 I’m writing a novel about a destination wedding that goes very, very wrong. It has loose ties to Rebecca, and it titled HER DARK LIES. 

Posted in reviews

Hug Everyone You Know: A Year Of Community, Courage and Cancer by Antoinette Truglio Martin Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A woman finds comfort and courage through journaling and her community of support’s responses in the face of a cancer diagnosis in author Antoinette Truglio Martin’s novel “Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage and Cancer”. 

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The Synopsis

Antoinette Martin believed herself to be a healthy and sturdy woman–that is, until she received a Stage 1 breast cancer diagnosis. Cancer is scary enough for the brave, but for a wimp like Martin, it was downright terrifying. Martin had to swallow waves of nausea at the thought of her body being poisoned, and frequently fainted during blood draws and infusions. To add to her terror, cancer suddenly seemed to be all around her. In the months following her diagnosis, a colleague succumbed to cancer, and five of her friends were also diagnosed. Though tempted, Martin knew she could not hide in bed for ten months. She had a devoted husband, daughters, and a tribe of friends and relations. Along with work responsibilities, there were graduations, anniversaries, and roller derby bouts to attend, not to mention a house to sell and a summer of beach-bumming to enjoy. In order to harness support without scaring herself or anyone else, she journaled her experiences and began to e-mail the people who loved her–the people she called My Everyone–She kept them informed and reminded all to “hug everyone you know” at every opportunity. Reading the responses became her calming strategy. Ultimately, with the help of her community, Martin found the courage within herself to face cancer with perseverance and humor.

The Review

What a beautifully written memoir! This novel does an incredible job of telling the painful, emotional and heartbreaking journey of anyone who has ever faced or lived through a cancer diagnosis. Blending creative and phenomenal writing with a slew of emails written between the author and their support outlets, (family, friends, etc), the author showcases the journey through cancer on a very personal level.

The book is honest, holds no punches and utilizes the author’s natural storytelling ability while giving readers something to relate to. From the initial shock and disbelief of the diagnosis to the impact on friends and loved ones and the moments where friends and family often have or end up struggling with the disease as well, showcasing how scarily  common cancer scares and actual diagnosis’s really are. The author’s ability to command the reader’s attention and illustrate the pain and struggle through this journey allowed the reader to connect not only with the author but the events overall on a much more intimate level, making for an emotional yet incredible read.

The Verdict

This is a must read for anyone who enjoys memoirs, is interested in the stories of those who have survived or lived with cancer diagnosis’s, and those who enjoy personal stories that speak from the heart. A lengthy read that is not only honest but showcases the power of writing and how therapeutic writing and having a community supporting you can help the process of dealing with cancer overall. It is an amazing story that everyone should read, so be sure to grab your copy of Hug Everyone You Know by Antoinette Truglio Martin today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Antoinette Truglio Martin is a life-long Long Islander, teacher, wife, mother, daughter, and friend. She is the author of Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer—a memoir chronicling her first year battling breast cancer as a wimpy patient. Personal experience essays and excerpts of her memoir were published in Bridges, Visible Ink, and The Southampton Review. Martin proudly received her MFA in creative writing and literature from Stony Brook/Southampton University in 2016. Antoinette had also written the children’s picture book, Famous Seaweed Soup (Albert Whitman and Company),and was a regular columnist for local periodicals Parent Connections (In a Family Way) and Fire Island Tide (Beach Bumming). Her blog, Stories Served Around The Table, tells family tales and life’s musings. She lives in her hometown of Sayville, New York with her husband, Matt, and is never far from her “Everyone” and the beaches she loves. Since being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2012, she strives to not let cancer to dictate her life. 

Follow her at https://www.facebook.com/AntoinetteTruglioMartin2017/ and https://antoinettetrugliomartin.com/.

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— Blog Tour Dates

October 7th @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Join us as we celebrate the launch the blog tour for author Antoinette Truglio Martin’s book Hug Everyone You Know. Read an interview with the author and win a copy of the book. 

http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

October 8th @ 12 Books

Visit Louise’s blog today to read her thoughts about Antoinette Truglio Martin’s book Hug Everyone You Know. 

October 9th @ The Frugalista Mom

Stop by Rozelyn’s blog where you can read her review of Antoinette Truglio Martin’s book Hug Everyone You Know and enter to win a copy for yourself!

https://thefrugalistamom.com

October 10th @ Choices

Visit Madeline’s blog where you can read Antoinette Truglio Martin’s guest post on how writing can calm your nerves.

http://madelinesharples.com

October 13th @ Dunning Knicks Interviews

Make sure you visit Mzz Dunning’s blog today where you can read a guest post written by Antoinette Truglio Martin about 5 reasons it’s okay to not be okay. You can also enter to win an ebook copy of the book!

https://mzzdunningtalks.ivacp.com/

October 14th @ Bookshine and Readbows

Make sure you visit Stephanie’s blog and read her interview with author Antoinette Truglio Martin. You don’t want to miss it! 

https://bookshineandreadbows.wordpress.com/

October 15th @ The Burgeoning Bookshelf

You’ll want to stuff your bookshelf today when you visit Veronica Joy’s blog and read her review of Antoinette Truglio Martin’s book Hug Everyone You Know.

https://theburgeoningbookshelf.blogspot.com

October 17th @ Reading Whale

Visit Caitlin’s blog today where you can read Antoinette Truglio Martin’s guest post that will give you 5 tips for starting your memoir.

http://www.readingwhale.com

October 18th @ The Burgeoning Bookshelf

Stop by Veronica’s blog again where you can read Antoinette Truglio Martin’s guest post about how to help people help you. Don’t miss this important guest post!

https://theburgeoningbookshelf.blogspot.com/

October 19th @ Bookworm Blog

Stop by Anjanette’s bookworm blog and read Antoinette Truglio Martin’s guest post featuring 5 tips for writing your memoir. Don’t miss it!

https://bookworm66.wordpress.com/

October 20th @ Rachael’s Thoughts

Visit Rachel’s thoughts today where you can read her review of Antoinette Truglio Martin’s book Hug Everyone You Know.

https://rachaelstray.com/

October 21st @ Writing Through Life

Visit Amber’s blog and read Antoinette Truglio Martin’s guest post featuring 5 journaling tips when going through difficult trials. You can also read Amber’s review of Antoinette Truglio Martin’s book Hug Everyone You Know.

October 22nd @ Karen Brown Tyson’s Blog

Get inspired today at Karen’s blog where you can read Antoinette Truglio Martin’s guest post about 5 lessons she learned writing about her cancer journey.

https://karenbrowntyson.com/blog/

October 23rd @ Thoughts in Progress

Be sure to stop by Mason Canyon’s blog where you can read an interview with the author Antoinette Truglio Martin.

https://masoncanyon.blogspot.com/

October 24th @ Bookworm Blog

Visit Anjanette’s bookworm blog again where you can view her video vlog review of Antoinette Truglio Martin’s book Hug Everyone You Know.

https://bookworm66.wordpress.com/

October 25th @ World of My Imagination

Visit Nicole’s blog today where you can read her review of Antoinette Truglio Martin’s book Hug Everyone You Know.

http://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com

October 26th @ Keeping it Real

Be sure to visit Lisa’s blog today and read author Antoinette Truglio Martin’s guest post that is talking about her ways to not let a difficult diagnosis run (or ruin) your life. Plus read Lisa’s review of Antoinette Truglio Martin’s book Hug Everyone You Know.

https://www.lisambuske.com/

October 28th @ Strength 4 Spouses

Stop by Wendi’s blog today and read her review of Antoinette Truglio Martin’s book Hug Everyone You Know.

October 29th @ Bring On Lemons

Turn lemons into lemonade today by visiting Crystal’s blog and read her review of the touching memoir Hug Everyone You Know. 

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

November 1st @ Bookworm Blog

Stop by Anjanette’s blog again and read her interview with author Antoinette Truglio Martin.

https://bookworm66.wordpress.com/

November 3rd @ Ramblings of a Misguided Blonde

Visit Lindsey’s blog today and you can read her review of Antoinette Truglio Martin’s book Hug Everyone You Know.

https://russelllindsey.blog/

November 4th @ Strength 4 Spouses

Visit Wendi’s blog again where you can read Antoinette Truglio Martin’s guest post about keeping a positive mindset during a health crisis.

November 5th @ Life Like a Galaxy Girl

Be sure to visit Alanna’s blog where you can read her review of Antoinette Truglio Martin’s book Hug Everyone You Know.

http://lifelikeagalaxygirl.com/

November 6th @ 12 Books

Stop by Louise’s blog again where you can Antoinette Truglio Martin’s guest post featuring 5 books to keep you motivated during difficult times.

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November 8th @ Author Anthony Avina Blog

Stop by Anthony’s blog where you can read his review of Antoinette Truglio Martin’s touching book Hug Everyone You Know.

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, Book Promotion, reviews

Blog Tour: Meant To Be Yours By Susan Mallery

I am excited to share with everyone that I am officially participating in the first of many blog tours in association with Harlequin Books. It is an honor to be working with such a prestigious publisher and I am excited to share the slew of books heading my way over the next few months and hopefully beyond. As always, I want to preface this with the fact that all my opinions in this post are my own, and I received a free copy of this book in exchange for that opinion. With that in mind, let’s take a look at this incredible romance novel, Meant To Be Yours by Susan Mallery. 


I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A popular author struggling with his past in the military and a wedding coordinator who makes couples dreams come true while rejecting commitment herself find one another in author Susan Mallery’s novel “Meant To Be Yours”.

The Synopsis

In Happily Inc, love means never having to say “I do”…

Wedding coordinator Renee Grothen isn’t meant for marriage. Those who can, do. Those who can’t, plan. But she never could have planned on gorgeous, talented thriller writer Jasper Dembenski proposing—a fling, that is. Fun without a future. And the attraction between them is too strong for Renee to resist. Now she can have her no-wedding cake…and eat it, too.

After years in the military, Jasper is convinced he’s too damaged for relationships. So a flirtation—and more—with fiery, determined Renee is way too good to pass up…until his flame becomes his muse.

Renee is an expert at averting every crisis. But is she finally ready to leap into the one thing that can never be controlled: love?

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The Review

The fifth book in the Happily Inc. series, (sixth if you include book #2.5), author Susan Mallery has done a masterful job of creating a connected storyline across multiple books and characters, while also creating a wholly unique story that allows for anyone to jump into the narrative. While the cast of characters of this novel all stem from previous books, the protagonists take center stage in the story as these two people trying to escape their past come together in ways neither one of them expected.

The complexity of the characters makes this love story bloom much more than the traditional romance tale. Taking the time to explore both Jasper and Renee’s pasts that have influenced how they go about their relationship really depend the readers connection with both the book and the characters. The theme of finding love and overcoming that feeling of being “broken” played out eloquently throughout the novel, and the author did an amazing job of incorporating the atmosphere of love and romance that has become associated with this series into the character’s overall struggles.

The Verdict

Beautifully written, expertly crafted and emotionally driven. Author Susan Mallery has created a wholly original tale that keeps the overall setting and story of the Happily Inc. series in line while giving readers two protagonists that are relatable, honest and emotionally driven, giving readers an evenly paced read that will have them rooting for these two to overcome the odds and find solace with one another. Can two people who feel broken find love and overcome the odds? Find out by grabbing your copy of “Meant To Be Yours” by Susan Mallery today! 

Rating: 10/10

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Interview with Author Susan Mallery

Q&A With Susan Mallery

What was your favorite part about writing Meant to be Yours

Ohhh, that’s a hard question! I love everything about writing romance. The first kiss is still magical to me. The passion, the emotional intensity. It’s a moment that changes the course of a person’s life. When you fall in love, your life is bisected into before and after. Love is transformative, and the greatest pleasure of my life is to write about it.

Jasper and Renee in particular were a lot of fun to write because Renee is just such a mama bear when it comes to protecting her brides. She’s a wedding planner at Weddings Out of the Box, a theme wedding venue in the town of Happily Inc. Jasper is a bestselling thriller writer who wants to set his next book at a wedding. Renee’s response made me laugh so loud that I’m pretty sure I scared my pets.

Jasper continued. “I thought I could follow you around for a few weeks, learn about the business and—”

“No,” she said firmly, as all thoughts of them having another close encounter faded from her mind. “You’re not getting your serial killer cooties on my weddings. I’m a big believer in keeping the energy positive and flowing forward. Do you know what a serial killer would do at a wedding?”

He stared at her, his gaze intense. “That’s what I was thinking. I want the serial killer to be a wedding crasher.”

“No,” she said firmly. “Just no.”

When Jasper goes behind her back to get intimately involved with one of her weddings, Renee vows to keep him from bringing darkness to her bride’s special day.

I also adored the animals in this book. In the beginning, Jasper doesn’t trust himself to let a woman into his heart. His simple but profound act of kindness to a dog who needs a home leads to him finally being ready to fall in love. The dog, Koda, is based on a reader’s real-life dog. I gave Koda the same adorable quirks and characteristics that make him special—and I gave Renee the reader’s last name in her honor.

Did you find out any funny or interesting facts about wedding planning when writing this book?

I have learned that brides and wedding planners are some of the most creative people in the universe. I can’t tell you how much time I spent on Pinterest, looking at pictures from theme weddings. There are some really beautiful themes, and some that are charming and humorous. Every theme uniquely reflects the bride and the groom in the most beautiful way. In Meant to Be Yours, Renee designs several lovely theme weddings with beautiful touches I think readers will enjoy. Here’s a snippet from one:

Jim and Monica Martinez were a sweet couple with a fun firefighter theme for their big day. There was a long tradition of firefighters on both sides of the family and plenty of cute touches in the wedding and reception.

Monica’s dress laced up the back and instead of white ribbon to cinch her gown, she’d used bright red. The centerpieces were ceramic boot vases painted to look like firefighter boots, filled with red, orange and yellow flowers. There was even a walk-through fountain at one end of the reception area, created with fire hoses, a pump and a lot of engineering.

Pay attention to that last sentence because I also discovered that a lot can go wrong when you invite a few hundred people to a party. Imagine a room filled with people who aren’t used to dressing up, plus a fountain made with fire hoses, and a wedding planner who will do anything to protect her bride.

Did Renee or Jasper surprise you while you drafted this novel? 

They did! When I started this book, I thought Jasper was the more wounded of the two. But as I wrote, I discovered that Renee’s scars went deeper than I thought. She’s been keeping a secret from her friends in Happily Inc, a secret about her mother that has cost her jobs, friendships and romantic relationships. Just when she starts to feel safe and accepted in her new home, her mother comes for a visit. . .

Can you share about what you’re working on right now? 

I’m working on revisions on the next Happily Inc book, a Christmas book that will be out next year. No title yet. It has all of the humor and heartfelt emotion readers love in my books—plus Christmas! I invited members of the Susan Mallery All Access group on Facebook (www.facebook.com/groups/susanmalleryallaccess) to suggest random items for me to incorporate into the story. When the book comes out next year, I’ll share a scavenger hunt list with my readers so they can find the objects as they read. It’s just a fun way for me to stay connected to my readers as I write. 

Who is an author you draw inspiration from?

Years ago, the fabulous Debbie Macomber suggested to me that I stop writing series about families, and start writing series about people who live in the same town. That advice was the inspiration for my Fool’s Gold series, which led to my Happily Inc series, as well. I’ll always be grateful to Debbie for that.

What is your favorite place to read a book? 

At home with my feet up on the sofa and a cat curled in my lap.

Who is a book character you’d be best friends with?

Each of my heroines is someone I’d be friends with—after all, I spend months with them, so I want them to be people I enjoy hanging out with. As for best friends, I’ll go with Ellen Fox, heroine of The Friendship List, which will come out next year. Ellen had me laughing all the way through the book. She’s blunt and smart and would drop everything to help someone she loves.

She’s a single mom who got pregnant in high school. She had sex one time, got pregnant, and then… nothing. She’s basically a virgin with a kid. But when she discovers what she’s been missing, she has no inhibitions. Her lack of filter was a source of constant amusement for me. Every day, I was excited to get back to work so I could spend time with her again. Such a fun book to write!

Pen & Paper or Computer?

Computer. I couldn’t keep up with my thoughts with paper and pen. I type about 120 words per minute, so that’s easier for me. Hard on my wrists and hands, but easier on my brain.

Favorite decade in fashion history?

The 1980’s.

KIDDING!!!!!

I am enjoying the fashion of today. I like that there really aren’t any rules anymore, it’s all about self-expression.

What is your signature drink?

A Starbucks latte. This time of year, pumpkin spice. Even though the baristas cannot, for the life of them, spell Susan.

What do you hope readers will experience or gain when reading Meant to Be Yours?

I hope Meant to Be Yours will be a happy escape for them, an entertaining break from the stresses of their daily lives. This is a book for readers who like to feel the sharp pings of emotion—and the release of laughter with a guaranteed happy ending.

How did you get into writing?

I was in college studying to be an accountant. It wasn’t exciting, but it was practical. I honestly didn’t know that regular people could be professional writers. It seemed so exotic, somehow. I thought writers had to live in France and wear turtlenecks. I think I must have choked to death in a previous life because I can’t stand wearing turtlenecks.

One day, I got a flyer in the mail from an adult education center called The Learning Tree, with evening classes people could take. These classes were not for credit and therefore were very impractical for a young woman carrying a full course load of university classes, and a newlywed trying to learn how to cook. But one of the classes caught my eye: How to Write a Romance Novel. Still, I thought, no time. I threw away the flyer. Eight weeks later, it came again. I threw it away again. Eight weeks later, there it was again, and I realized the woman wasn’t going to teach the class forever.

So I signed up for the class, and I immediately fell in love. By week six, I knew this was what I was meant to do with my life. I made a deal with my then-husband. I gave myself two years to sell a book. If I didn’t, then I would have to get a job. That was in May, and I sold my first book in August of that year. Best decision ever.

What inspired you to write Meant to Be Yours?

I loved the humor inherent in the idea of a thriller writer wanting to research weddings, and a wedding planner who wants to keep his darkness away from her bride’s special day. Jasper is the kind of writer who does his research in tangible ways. Before he writes a fight scene, he blocks it out with his buddies—weapons and all. He wants to get the details right.

So when he decides to set his next book against the backdrop of a wedding, he’s determined to get those details right, too. And the only way to do that is to be involved with a wedding from start to finish. But Renee is determined to keep any hint of darkness away from her bride’s special day. It’s not an intellectual exercise to her—it’s someone’s wedding day, and that means something.

It’s just a humorous conflict that I thought would be a ton of fun to write. And it was!

Oh, and by the way, Jasper also decides that his detective character needs a love interest…so he needs someone to block out the kissing scenes with him, too. (Full confession: I do occasionally ask my husband for help with my research. 😉 )

What drew you into writing romance?

I’ve been a romance reader since I was in middle school, and they’re still the books I enjoy the most. I love everything about them. I still get that intake-of-breath feeling when the characters first kiss. And when they finally overcome their obstacles and admit that they’re meant to be together—there’s just nothing happier or more life-affirming.

If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I would love to sit down with Verity, Renee’s mother. But I can’t tell you what I would ask her or why without spoilers, so I’ll just leave you with this: Verity has a very special talent that gives her an insight few people can claim. I would love to have this talent. Since I don’t, I’d love to ask Verity to tell me what she knows.

What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I’m active on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter—but mostly on Facebook. I share book news on my main page, www.facebook.com/susanmallery. In the Susan Mallery All Access group, www.facebook.com/groups/susanmalleryallaccess, I share personal anecdotes and pictures, hold contests and play games. It’s a lot of fun, and everyone is welcome to join! (Unless you’re some weird spammer guy who wants me to marry you. Ew.)

What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Stick with it. The writers who succeed are the ones who don’t give up. Write every day. Experiment with different methods and techniques to find what works for you. Analyze successful books and try to figure out why they work, and then incorporate those lessons into your own writing. I found that screenwriting classes helped a lot with developing story structure.

What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

Always something new on the horizon! In 2020, I’ll release four brand new books: Sisters by Choice (a Blackberry Island novel), The Friendship List (a standalone), A Fool’s Gold Wedding (a Fool’s Gold romance), and the yet-to-be-titled Happily Inc Christmas romance.

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About the Author

SUSAN MALLERY is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of novels about the relationships that define women’s lives—family, friendship, romance. Library Journal says, “Mallery is the master of blending emotionally believable characters in realistic situations,” and readers seem to agree—40 million copies of her books have sold worldwide. Her warm, humorous stories make the world a happier place to live.

Susan grew up in California and now lives in Seattle with her husband. She’s passionate about animal welfare, especially that of the two ragdoll cats and adorable poodle who think of her as mom.

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Buy Links: 

Harlequin 

Indiebound

Amazon

Barnes & Noble 

Books-A-Million

Target

Walmart

Google

iBooks

Kobo

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @susanmallery

Facebook: @SusanMallery

Instagram: @susanmallery

Goodreads

Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, Guest Post

Use Your Favorite Types of Procrastination to Your Advantage: Guest Blog Post By Author Mari L. McCarthy

What kind of procrastinator are you? Do you intentionally wait till the last minute, claiming you work best under pressure? Do you intend to start early, but you keep thinking of other incredibly important things you need to do first? Do you avoid thinking about unpleasant or difficult tasks until you absolutely can’t escape them anymore?

There are many different flavors of procrastination, and if you’re like many writers, you’ve tried all of them over the years. But instead of beating yourself up over your bad habits and lack of willpower, look for ways to use procrastination to your advantage. Here are a few strategies to try.

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Take a Healthy Break

Recognize what your go-to procrastination activities are. Do you scroll through your social media feeds or play games on your phone or text your best friend? Give yourself permission to procrastinate for a set period of time – say, 10 minutes – but replace your default habit with something that’s good for your physical or mental health. Go for a walk around the block, drink a glass of water, do yoga poses at your desk. Then go back to work once your time is up. 

Structured Procrastination

Take this idea even further by embracing “structured procrastination.” Make a list of things you need or want to do anyway and could provide a break for you when you want to escape another project. For example: 

  • Tidying up your desk 
  • Emailing your parents
  • Reading a book 
  • Meal-prepping for the week

When you feel the desire to procrastinate, look at your list instead of reflexively opening Facebook or playing a video game. Do one of the items on your list and feel good about yourself for doing something productive. 

Let Your Mind Wander

Adam Grant, host of the podcast Work Life and author of many books on work and psychology, says, “When you procrastinate, you’re more likely to let your mind wander. That gives you a better chance of stumbling onto the unusual and spotting unexpected patterns.”

Reframe your procrastination as “idea generation time” or “creative brainstorming sessions.” Keep a journal or notebook on your desk. When you’re having trouble focusing on the task at hand, open your journal and let your mind wander. Write down any thoughts that come to you, and give yourself space to process questions, problems and ideas that arise. 

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Print Length: 143 Pages

Genre: Non-Fiction/Self-Help

Publisher: Mari L. McCarthy

ISBN-13: 9780463807361

ASIN: B07R47JT1T

Heal Your Self with Journaling Power is now available to purchase on Amazon.comKobo.comBarnes and Noble and also on Mari’s website CreateWriteNow.com (where you can get a signed copy).

Praise for Heal Your Self with Journaling Power

Mari McCarthy’s latest, Heal Your Self with Journaling Power, represents the voice of a warm friend who not only talks the talk but also has lived first-hand the transforming power of writing. Packed with focused, fun prompts to jump-start the journaling process, this book is a motivation and an uplift! I especially enjoy the stress-bucket exercise. Not to be missed.”

–Melanie Faith, educator and author of In a Flash and Poetry Power,

In a world of ever-present scary news, stress, and technology that distracts us from genuine human encounters, Mari McCarthy invites us to do something both simple and radical: pause daily to encounter our own souls. And she not only tells us to just do it, she shows us how with her own life story, the stories of others, and her many ideas about how to maximize the transformative power of journaling time.

— Kevin Anderson, Ph.D., Author of Now is Where God Lives: A Year of Nested Meditations to Delight the Mind and Awaken the Soul and The Inconceivable Surprise of Living: Sustaining Wisdom for Spiritual Beings Trying to Be Human.

The most important lesson illustrated in Heal Your Self with Journaling Power is that anyone can enhance their health and wellbeing through the therapeutic power of expressive writing. This is the definitive book that shows you how. So just grab a pen and a pad of paper and do it!

—Mike Bundrant, Co-Founder, iNLPCenter.org

Testimony from Casey Demchak, copywriter and consultant; also featured in Chapter 8, “Design Your Future” of Heal Your Self with Journaling Power

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1r5adDOqsoCH64xtiotvzkLOOI2O9GBV5/preview” width=”640″ height=”480″>

About the Author, Mari L. McCarthy

Mari L. McCarthy is the Self-Transformation Guide and Founder/Chief Inspiration Officer of CreateWriteNow.com. She is also author of the international-bestselling, award-winning book Journaling Power: How to Create the Happy, Healthy Life You Want to Live.

Mari began journaling to relieve the debilitating effects of multiple sclerosis (MS) over 20 years ago. Through journaling, Mari was able to ditch her prescription drugs and mitigate most of her MS symptoms. Now she teaches people throughout the world how to heal, grow, and transform their lives through the holistic power of therapeutic journaling.

She lives in a gorgeous beachfront home in Boston, where she has the freedom, flexibility, and physical ability to indulge in all her passions, which include singing and recording her own albums.

— Blog Tour Dates

June 17th @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Stop by Women on Writing’s blog The Muffin and read an interview with author Mari McCarthy and win a copy of her book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power.

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

June 18th @ Karen Brown Tyson’s Blog

Visit author Karen Brown Tyson’s blog today where you can read Mari McCarthy’s guest post about why you might still be experiencing writer’s block.

https://karenbrowntyson.com/blog/

June 19th @ Conversations Live with Cyrus Webb (Originally Aired June 12th @ 10:30 AM EST)

Cyrus Webb interviews Mari McCarthy of Create Write Now about her latest bestseller Heal Your Self With Journaling Power.

http://cyruswebb.com/category/conversations-live-radio/

June 20th @ Look to the Western Sky

Visit Margo’s blog today where you can catch her review of Mari McCarthy’s incredible new book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power.

https://margoldill.com/

June 22nd @ Lapidus 

Visit Lapidus, words for well-being association, where you can read Francesca’s review of Mari McCarthy’s eye-opening book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power. 

https://lapidus.org.uk/news

June 23rd @ Life Like a Galaxy Girl

Stop by Alanna’s blog today where you can read her review of Mari McCarthy’s new book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power. 

http://lifelikeagalaxygirl.com/

June 24th @ Thoughts in Progress

Do you love the energy in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)? Well, if you do, you will not want to miss today’s post at the blog Thoughts in Progress where Mari McCarthy shares her tips on how to recreate the magic of NaNoWriMo in any month.

https://masoncanyon.blogspot.com

June 25th @ Bev Baird’s Blog

Make sure you stop by Bev’s blog today where you can read her review of Mari McCarthy’s book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power.

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

June 26th @ A Storybook World

Visit Deirdra’s blog today where she highlights Mari McCarthy’s new book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power.

http://www.astorybookworld.com/

June 27th @ The Frugalista Mom

Make sure to Rozelyn’s blog and read her review of Mari McCarthy’s book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power. Plus enter to win a copy for yourself!

https://thefrugalistamom.com/

June 29th @ Coffee with Lacey

Grab your coffee and visit Lacey’s blog today and read her thoughts about Mari McCarthy’s powerful new book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power.

https://coffeewithlacey.com/

June 30th @ Wild Woman Writer

Visit Anne’s blog today where you can catch her review of Mari McCarthy’s inspiring new book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power.

https://wildwomanwriter2018.blogspot.com/

July 1st @ Choices

Visit Madeline’s blog today and read Mari McCarthy’s poignant guest post about our conversations with our inner critic and how to silence them.

http://madelinesharples.com/

July 1st @ Writing Through Life

Be sure to stop by Amber’s blog and read her interview with author Mari McCarthy and also enter to win a copy of the book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power.

July 2nd @ Ramblings of a Misguided Blonde

If you are in need of a new book in your life, make sure to stop by Lindsey’s blog today where you can read her review of Mari McCarthy’s new book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power.

https://russelllindsey.blog/

July 2nd @ The Frugalista Mom

Stop by Rozelyn’s blog again today where you can read Mari McCarthy’s guest post about why we procrastinate and how to avoid it.

https://thefrugalistamom.com/

July 3rd @ The World of My Imagination

Visit Nicole’s blog today and catch her thoughts about Mari McCarthy’s book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power.

https://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com/

July 5th @ Bring on Lemons

Make lemons into lemonade today when you visit Crystal’s blog today and read her thoughts about Mari McCarthy’s new book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power.

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

July 7th @ One Sister’s Journey Keeping it Real

Visit Lisa’s blog today where you can read Mari’s blog post about disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with yourself.

https://www.lisambuske.com/

July 8th @ A Day in the Life of Mom

Want to inspire your kids to journal? Visit Ashley’s blog today and read Mari McCarthy’s guest post featuring imaginative journaling activities to do with kids. 

https://adayinthelifeofmom.com/

July 9th @ Bev Baird’s Blog

Visit Bev’s blog again where you can read Mari McCarthy’s guest post about mindful journaling for mindful eating. Don’t miss!

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

July 9th @ Ramblings of a Misguided Blonde

Visit Lindsey’s blog again where you can find out more about Mari McCarthy and her book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power.

https://russelllindsey.blog/

July 10th @ Lapidus

Join Francesca at Lapidus again where you can read Mari McCarthy’s guest post about why journaling is part of self-care.

https://lapidus.org.uk/news

July 10th @ Look to the Western Sky

Make sure you visit Margo’s blog again and read Mari McCarthy’s guest post featuring more imaginative journaling activities you can do with your kids.

https://www.margoldill.com/

July 12th @ Author Anthony Avina Blog

Stop by author Anthony Avina’s blog today where you can read his review about Mari McCarthy’s inspirational book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

July 12th @ Bookworm Blog

Visit Anjanette’s blog today where you can read her interview with author Mari McCarthy and also be sure to check out Mari McCarthy’s guest post about journaling power for emotional health.

https://bookworm66.wordpress.com/

July 13th @ A Day in the Life of Mom

Make sure your day today includes visiting Ashley’s blog where you can read her thoughts about Mari McCarthy’s life-changing book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power.

https://adayinthelifeofmom.com/

July 14th @ Author Anthony Avina Blog

Do you procrastinate too much? Well, visit Anthony Avina’s blog again today where you can read Mari McCarthy’s guest post on how to use your favorite types of procrastination to your advantage.

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

July 15th @ Strength 4 Spouses

Do you like to journal? Stop by Wendi’s blog today where author Mari McCarthy talks about journaling power for mental health. Don’t miss it!

July 16th @ Reading Whale

Visit Caitlin’s blog today and read her interview with Mari McCarthy as they talk about Mari’s book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power.

https://readingwhale.com/

July 17th @ Michelle Cornish Blog

Stop by Michelle’s blog where she reviews Mari McCarthy’s book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power. You can also check out her interview with Mari and find out more about the author!

https://www.michellecornish.com/blog

July 19th @ Strength 4 Spouses

Do you love journaling? Well if so, you will want to visit Wendi’s blog where she shares her thoughts about Mari McCarthy’s powerful book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power.

July 19th @ Bookworm Blog

Visit Anjanette’s blog again where you can read her review of Mari McCarthy’s book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power.

https://bookworm66.wordpress.com/

July 21st @ Jill Sheet’s Blog

Visit Jill’s blog today where you can read Mari McCarthy’s blog post about overcoming writer’s block. Don’t miss this if you are struggling with staying inspired!

https://jillsheets.blogspot.com/

Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, book launch, Guest Post

Guest Blog Post: What I’m Writing Now, Now That My Novel Is on the Shelves By Madeline Sharples

Hey everyone, Author Anthony Avina here. I’m honored today to be sharing with you this guest blog post from author Madeline Sharples, author of the recently reviewed book, Papa’s Shoes, in association with Women on Writing Tours. I hope you all will enjoy it and please make sure to comment on this post and share it as well. Enjoy everyone.


I didn’t think I had another book in me after I finished my novel, Papa’s Shoes. Writing that took a long time even though I didn’t work on it straight through all those nine years. But when I had finished the tenth revision, I felt my book writing days were over.

However, I started to get itchy to write something else when I started querying publishers – exactly what I did in 2010. I started my novel while I was querying publishers for my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On.

I took one look in the mirror and realized from my aging face that I’m at that stage in my life when I have almost all of it to look back on. I just turned seventy-nine, and my mirror told me I looked it. 

So I thought I could write a memoir from an old wise woman’s approach to turning eighty. I could write about the secrets of staying married to the same man for forty-nine years and living in the same house for forty years. Really where have all those years gone? And really that brings up another big question – how much time do my husband and I have left anyway, and what are we doing to prepare for our last years? Or better yet, how we’re handling our lives right now as we age – each at a different paces. Yes, I decided another memoir or even two are a real possibility. The options are endless: how we’re still working at surviving the loss of our son in 1999, what we eat, how we sleep, my health and exercise program, about our travels, and what do we do all day at our age.

Another thing that triggered my decision to write this new memoir is the many people my age who are sick or have died. Just yesterday I heard about the death of a wonderful work colleague and friend much younger than me who died of a massive heart attack. With those facts in mind I decided to bring aging healthy into the book. I am very fit for my age. I workout every day and eat healthy. Why couldn’t I write a memoir about aging healthy? 

I hope readers will take a good look at themselves and what they are doing to live the rest of their lives successfully. I hope they will take my examples about what to do and what not to do as I age seriously. For example, I recently spent a few days with my cousin who is four years younger than I. She is out of shape and doesn’t eat very healthy. But while I was with her we took long, fast walks every day, and she’s still taking them even though I’m not with her. She says I was an inspiration to her. I hope to be an inspiration to all my readers. 

I also have to contend with the hardest parts to write: 1) the lasting effects of our older son’s suicide death in 1999, 2) my married son and daughter-in-law’s decision to live a married life without children, and 3) some regrets about decisions I’ve made over the years. I know all of us have life experiences that are hard to write and talk about. We also have regrets. Hopefully my writing about these things will engage my readers in thinking how they’ve lived their own lives and what they can improve on for their futures.

So far, I’ve written the first draft to this brief outline:

PART ONE

  1. What stage of life I am in right now
  2. A little looking back – maybe incorporate my reunion experiences of seeing old classmates and being in the neighborhoods where I grew up
  3. What I see when I look in the mirror
  4. My daily routine
  5. What I do to take care of myself
  6. How much I like my privacy and alone time
  7. My physical maladies
  8. My emotional life 
  9. My depression and suicidal thoughts
  10. I say I’m a writer, but what do I really write
  11. My writing routine
  12. My volunteer life: South Bay Cares and WriteGirl
  13. My married life
  14. How my son’s death affects my life now
  15. What about no grandchildren – how has that affected my relationship with my son and daughter-in-law
  16. How I spend my time
  17. Friends and relatives – how much I back away
  18. What I see for the future
  19. What’s next on my bucket list
  20. End of life directives
  21. My beliefs or lack thereof of an afterlife, and my lack of a spiritual life

PART TWO

  1. What advice I give to those heading my way

PART THREE

  1. How I feel about turning eighty and repairing for my imminent 

About the Book:  

Papa’s Shoes, a work of fiction about immigration with a feminist and historical bent. At 99,968 words, Papa’s Shoesis a stand-alone novel with series potential.

Ira Schuman is determined to move his family out of their Polish shtetl to the hope and opportunities he’s heard about in America. But along the way he faces the death of three of his four sons, a wife who does not have the same aspirations as his, and the birth of a daughter, Ava, conceived to make up for the loss of his boys. Ava grows up to be smart, beautiful, and very independent. 

Besides having a feisty relationship with her overly-protective mother, Ava falls for the college man who directs her high school senior class play. With the news that she wants to marry a non-Jewish man, Ira realizes that his plan to assimilate in the new world has backfired. Should the young couple marry, he must decide whether to banish his daughter from his family or welcome them with open arms. Even though he won’t attend their wedding, he makes her a pair a wedding shoes. In his mind, theshoes are simply a gift, not a peace offering. 

·        Print Length: 286 pages

·        Publisher: Aberdeen Bay (April 27, 2019)

·        Publication Date: April 27, 2019

·        ASIN: B07R7MQ6CM

Praise:

“From an insightful storyteller, Papa’s Shoes, is a heartwarming story of courage and love. Author Madeline Sharples has created an epic journey with intriguing twists and surprises along the way. From days of old in Poland to cultural and economic realities in America, this is an awe-inspiring novel about families, generational history, and the incredible power of change. You truly won’t want to put it down!”

—D.A. Hickman, author of Ancients of the Earth: Poems of Time

“Author Madeline Sharples tells the intimate story of an American family, of immigration, tragedy, renewal, and love with grace and the delicate touch of a poet. There’s a raw kind of sweetness in this rich and epic saga.”

—David W. Berner, author of The Consequence of Stars and A Well-Respected Man

“An immigrant family’s braided history – its conflicts, losses, and secrets – come to life in Papa’s Shoes. With loving attention to detail, Madeline Sharples transports readers from a Polish shtetl to the Illinois town where Ira and Ruth settle, and shows us the intimate workings of their

marriage. This family’s triumphant journey to the American Midwest will inspire you long after

you’ve closed these pages.”

—Eleanor Vincent, author of Swimming with Maya: A Mother’s Story

A longer synopsis

On a cold and pouring night in Sokolow Poland, Ira Schuman carefully steps over the red mud puddles on the streets, sad, weary, and soaked. He dreads what he’ll find when he arrives at his two-room house in the Jewish section of the stetl. He envisions his mourning wife, Ruth, angry he wasn’t home when three of their four boys died during a flu epidemic.

As he enters the silence in what was once a home full of the loud voices and cries of little boys is deafening. However, he can’t wait to embrace Ruth, comfort her despite his own grief, and tell his surviving son about his love for America.

Ira’s goal is to become Americanized and bring what’s left of his family to a small town in Illinois, when he has enough money and an established business. Ruth doesn’t want to leave Poland and the graves of their three dead sons.

After their initial cold and difficult reunion, Ira keeps his promise to impregnate Ruth before he goes back to Illinois. Three years later he sends her the money to follow him to Illinois with their son age 10 and little girl, Ava, age three. Ruth agrees to leave Poland because of fears that the Russian army will recruit her son.

After a short stay in Chicago, the family moves to Danville IL, where Ira joins his brother in their shoe-making business. Though free of his long hair, beard and forelocks, and wearing modern clothes without the four-cornered yarmulke he threw into the Atlantic Ocean, Ira wants to bring a semblance of Orthodox Jewish life to his family and his new town. He creates a synagogue, hires a rabbi, and arranges the delivery of kosher meats. He also begins an affair with a chubby but curvy redheaded widow. Ruth, who smothers Ava and tries to keep her a little girl, has grown fatter and more unkempt, always wearing the same tight-fitting black dress she wore in Sokolow. She wants no part of Ira’s synagogue work.

Ruth keeps her hold on Ava, antagonizing her daughter. They argue continuously throughout Ava’s school years. Ava gets the lead in her senior high school play, and she and the director, a student at the local college, strike up a relationship – she tells her parents they are just friends when he picks her up to take her to school events.

Her brother, in law school in Chicago at nights and working in the textile business during the day, comes home and warns his parents that if they don’t move her away from this gentile, he will take her to Chicago himself. Ira agrees to let Ava go; Ruth does not. In the end her brother’s argument wins. Ava, ever respectful of her parents and out of her love for her brother, tells her director friend that she must leave. They are devastated but stay away from each other until the day before her departure.

In Chicago, Ava’s brother introduces her to a suitable man. He’s a bit of a milk toast, messy, and not very motivated in school or business, but he’s nice and attentive so she goes out with him for quite some time. Her rationale is that dating him will protect her from meeting someone she could actually fall for. She also experiences the modern ways of young women in the 1920s. She goes to dance halls and speakeasies, speaks flap talk, works as a seamstress, designs her own short and swingy dresses, and lives freely away from her mother. Her suitor proposes, but Ava says, “What a pretty little ring,” instead of yes.

After continued pleas from her director friend and her still undying love for him, Ava returns to Danville as a mature and determined young woman. She withstands a blow-up with her parents when she tells them she wants to marry her gentile friend. Ira throws her out.  That night he goes to the synagogue to say the mourner’s kadish for his daughter but decides to break up with the red-headed widow and mourn his relationship with her instead. To assuage his guilt, he makes her a pair of shoes that she wears at her wedding.

While Ava is sad not to have her family with her at her wedding, she is hopeful that her mother and father will come around. Her biggest fear is that she will never see her brother again, the man she loved and looked up to all her growing up years. However, she is happy with her decision to marry her love no matter how they feel.

About the Author

Madeline also co-authored Blue-Collar Women: Trailblazing Women Take on Men-Only Jobs (New Horizon Press, 1994), co-edited the poetry anthology, The Great American Poetry Show, Volumes 1, 2 and 3, and wrote the poems for two photography books, The Emerging Goddess and Intimacy (Paul Blieden, photographer). Her poems have also appeared online and in print magazines, e.g., in the 2016 Porter Gulch Review, Yellow Chair’s In the Words of Womyn 2016 anthology, Story Circle Network’s journals and anthologies, the Best of Poetry Salon 2013-2018, and the Vine Leaves Literary Journal: a Collection of Vignettes from Across the Globe, 2017.  And her articles have appeared in the Huffington Post, Naturally Savvy, Aging Bodies, PsychAlive, Story Circle Network’s HerStories and One Woman’s Day blogs, and the Memoir Network blog. One of Madeline’s essays has also appeared in the My Gutsy Story Anthology by Sonia Marsh. 

Madeline also co-edited Volumes 1 and 2 of The Great American Poetry Show, a poetry anthology, and wrote the poems for two books of photography, The Emerging Goddess and. Besides having many poems published in print and online magazines, writes regularly for Naturally Savvy, and occasionally for PsychAlive, Open to Hope,and Journeys Through Grief and The Huffington Post.


Find Madeline Online:

website/blog

Facebook page 1

Facebook page 2

Twitter page



———-Blog Tour Dates

Launch Day – June 3rd

Madeline Sharples launches her tour of “Papa’s Shoes” with an insightful interview and giveaway at the Muffin!

June 4th @ Coffee with Lacey

The lovely Lacey reviews “Papa’s Shoes” by Madeline Sharples and shares her review with readers at Coffee with Lacey. This is a blog stop and review readers won’t want to miss!

https://coffeewithlacey.com/

June 5th @ Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews

Lisa Haselton interviews well known author and memoirist Madeline Sharples about her latest novel “Papa’s Shoes” – the story of a Polish shoemaker and his family as they settle in America. This insightful interview is one you won’t want to miss!

http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com/

June 6th @ Beverley A. Baird

Beverley A. Baird shares her thoughts after reading the touching story of a Polish shoemaker and his family as they settle in America – “Papa’sShoes” by Madeline Sharples is a book that is sure to please readers!

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

June 7th @ Linda Neas

Today’s guest author at Words from the Heart with Linda Neas is none other than well-known author and memoirist Madeline Sharples. Today, her guest post is titled “How I reinvented myself from a technical writer and editor to a creative writer – and at my

age.” Heart from Madeline and learn more about her latest novel “Papa’s Shoes”! 

https://contemplativeed.blogspot.com/

June 12th @ Linda Neas

Last week, readers at Words from the Heart with Linda Neas read a guest post penned by Author Madeline Sharples and today, Linda will share her review of Madeline’s latest novel “Papa’s Shoes”. This is a blog stop you won’t want to bypass!

https://contemplativeed.blogspot.com/

June 18th @ Selling Books with Cathy Stucker

Cathy Stucker interviews Madeline Sharples at Selling Books. Readers will flock to learn more about Sharples and her latest novel “Papa’sShoes”.

https://www.sellingbooks.com/

June 26th @ Linda Appleman Shapiro

Fellow author and memoirist Linda Appleman Shapiro shares her review of “Papa’s Shoes” by Madeline Sharples. Don’t miss Linda’s insight into this touching story of one Polish shoemaker and his family as they move to America!

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

June 27th @ World of My Imagination

Nicole Pyles reviews the latest best selling novel “Papa’s Shoes” by Madeline Sharples – readers will delight to hear what Nicole thinks of this crowd pleasing story of one Polish shoemaker and his family!

https://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com/

June 28th @ Deal Sharing Aunt / Vicki Brinius

Vicky Brinius reviews “Papa’s Shoes” by Madeline Sharples. Find out how she feels after reading this touching story of one Polish shoemaker and his family as they settle in America.

http://dealsharingaunt.blogspot.com/

July 2nd @Author Anthony Avina

Fellow author Anthony Avina reviews “Papa’s Shoes” by Madeline Sharples – this is a touching story of one Polish shoemaker and his family as they settled in America.

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

July 2nd @ Amanda Sanders

Amanda of Amanda Diaries reviews Madeline Sharples latest novel “Papa’s Shoes” – read Amanda’s review and add this lovely story to your TBR pile today!

https://amandadiaries.com/

July 4th @ Author Anthony Avina

Readers at Anthony Avina’s blog will delight with today’s guest post and author interview with Madeline Sharples – learn more about her and her latest work!

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

July 5th @ Lisa Buske

Lisa Buske shares her review of “Papa’s Shoes” – the latest novel by Madeline Sharples and a touching story of one Polish shoemaker and his family as they settle in America.

https://www.lisambuske.com/

August 12th @ Kathleen Pooler’s Memoir Writer’s Journey

Readers and writers alike will want to stop by Memoir Writer’s Journey to hear from Kathleen Pooler and friend / fellow author Madeline Sharples as they discuss Madeline’s latest book “Papa’s Shoes”.

https://krpooler.com/