Tag Archives: blog post

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/

Judenrein by Harold Benjamin Review

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

A troubled man with a checkered past finds himself forced into the role of a hero when a white supremacist led America faces a terror attack that is set to pin the blame on the already disparaged Jewish community, and plunge the nation into chaos in author Harold Benjamin’s novel “Judenrein”. 

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The Synopsis 

Zack Gurevitz has had a checkered past. A Yeshiva boy, turned Green Beret, turned junkie, excommunicated by his one-time faith and now the potential savior of people he doesn’t even like.

As a white supremacist movement stealthily takes the reins of power in America, it is again the Jews who are made out as scapegoats. Stripped of wealth and citizenship, they are made to live in 21st century ghettos that hark back to a sinister and murky past that many had thought would never return.

But things are about to get much worse. With the revealing of a planned terror attack that will place the blame firmly at Jewish feet and condemn millions to death, Zack is contacted by Jewish leaders in Detroit, begging for his help.

Reluctantly he agrees and before long he is mired in a conspiracy that will have far reaching consequences for his country, the Jewish population and even his own sanity.

As the clock ticks down, can Zack find a way to avert a looming disaster? Who is behind the conspiracy? And can he really trust anyone?

The Review

There has never been a more relevant time for a thriller novel such as this. The author conveys a powerful story that relates a long history of violence, hatred and prejudice through a dystopian thriller lens. 

The author does an amazing job of creating a vast cast of characters, but most importantly a complex, multi-layered protagonist. Getting to see Zack struggle with his addiction and the complex relationship he has with his people and the circumstances they find themselves in really made the narrative shine through much brighter. It brought the harrowing experiences occurring in the dystopian future into the light and showcased how scary the events of our own world are sadly not far off from this reality, making it a plot that readers greatly pay attention to. 

The Verdict

A true page turner, author Harold Benjamin’s “Judenrein” is a heart-pounding thriller. This sad and dystopian future  is a stark reminder of how important it is to resist the hatred that threatens to overtake the world, and the flawed nature of protagonist Zack keeps the reader fully invested in the character’s journey through this dystopian world. It is a must-read thriller that won’t disappoint fans, so be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Harold Benjamin is the pen name of a 50-something Jewish writer who lives in the American midwest. He grew up in New York. Three out of his four grandparents were born in the 19th century.

Judenrein is available as an ebook and paperback.

For more information, visit www.judenreinbook.com.

Website: http://judenreinbook.com/

Video URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4j26RJJMCQ

Guest Blog Post: How Can Walking Help with Loneliness by Author Joyce Shulman

Most of us have heard that walking is good for our bodies: walking can reduce our risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, dementia, diabetes, several types of cancer, and more. Some of us have heard that walking is good for our brains: walking can help improve our decision-making, boost our executive function, and fuel our creativity. And many of us have heard that walking is good for our emotional well-being: walking can boost our mood and can be a valuable tool in the battle against depression.

But what about loneliness? Can walking help there too?

We believe so. A study my company undertook last year revealed that women who regularly walk with their friends are 2.5 times less likely to feel lonely often.

Why is it that walking together is so powerful?

First, we are social beings and we are wired to crave — and enjoy — shared experiences. Researchers believe this comes directly from our biological need to belong: our ancestors were a whole lot safer walking in the woods with their tribe than they were walking the woods by themselves.

Second, our hormones help. Walking increases levels of oxytocin — a hormone that heightens our connections with others. So when you walk with a friend, your biology helps foster a deeper, more meaningful connection. And yes, oxytocin is the same hormone that is released during childbirth and nursing, which makes sense because it encourages us to bond with our babies.

Third, extensive research shows that our brains process differently when we are walking. Because only part of our brain is occupied with putting one foot in front of the other, the rest of our brain is free to roam, to think more deeply. More importantly, when we are walking together, we can comfortably take the moments of quiet to process and give ourselves the chance to think, and connect, more deeply.

Finally, because conversations tend to flow more easily and because walking together provides an activity — and one that takes place away from home — it is far more comfortable to invite a new friend for a walk than to invite them to your home. Indeed, many mom friendships have been formed from the question “Do you want to take a walk after school drop off?” 

In short, walking together can be an incredibly powerful antidote to loneliness. It provides the perfect environment for conversation and connection. It offers time and space, free of distractions. It gives us the increased pleasure that comes from sharing an experience. It delivers a blast of oxytocin that encourages us to connect with one another. And it provides an easy way to begin to connect with a new friend.

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About the Author

Joyce Shulman, founder and CEO of 99 Walks and Macaroni Kid reaches millions of moms each month with hyper-local and national e-newsletters and websites, social media content, video and her Weekly Walk podcast. Having created a one-of-a-kind digital platform, she connects families to the wonders of their own communities and inspires women to chase their dreams and crush their goals.

Her most recent endeavor, 99 Walks, is on a mission to combat loneliness and improve fitness through the simple act of encouraging moms to walk together. Her mission? Nothing short of getting a million women walking.

Throughout her two decades as an entrepreneur, Joyce has guided SAHMs, teachers and even MBAs to success. Joyce shares how moms need to “take care of mama bear” and avoid the “martyr mom syndrome.” Her experience in business and leading mompreneurs makes her a coveted speaker where she shares tactics for beating burnout, fueling creativity, goal crushing, how walking can fuel productivity and performance, and more.

Joyce received her Bachelor’s in Business Management from the University of Maryland and her Juris Doctor, Cum Laude, from St. John’s University School of Law. After law school, she spent more than a dozen years as a New York City lawyer where her practice focused on complex commercial litigation.

A self-confessed idea junkie, in 1998, Joyce abandoned law firm life to liberate her entrepreneurial spirit and focus on the things that are most important to her: family, community and empowering women to chase their dreams.

Find Joyce online at:

http://www.linkedin.com/in/joyceshulman

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH-NR50srbDzKdUBx5BPgQQ

https://www.instagram.com/joyce.r.shulman/

https://www.joyceshulman.com/

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— Blog Tour Dates

May 25th @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Grab your coffee and join us in celebrating the launch of Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better. You can read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book.

http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

May 26th @ Karen Brown Tyson’s Blog

Stop by Karen’s blog today and you can read a guest post by author Joyce Shulman about how you become inspired to write a book.

https://karenbrowntyson.com/blog/

May 28th @ One Sister’s Journey

Visit Lisa’s blog today and read her review of Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better.

https://www.lisambuske.com/

May 30th @ One Sister’s Journey

Stop by Lisa’s blog again today where you can read a guest post by author Joyce Shulman where she talks about why do women need to take care of themselves. A timely post in this day and age!

https://www.lisambuske.com/

May 31st @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit Anthony’s blog today and read his review of Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better.

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

June 2nd @ Lady Unemployed

Visit Nicole’s blog and read Joyce Shulman’s guest post about beating brownout (the precursor to burnout).

https://ladyunemployed.com/

June 5th @ Wellness Connection Utah

Visit The Wellness Connection today and read thoughtful insights into Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better.

https://www.wellnessconnectionutah.com/blog

June 6th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Stop by Anthony’s blog again where you can read a guest post by Joyce Shulman on how walking can help with loneliness.

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

June 8th @ Reviews and Interviews

Visit Lisa’s blog today and read her interview with  Joyce Shulman, author of the book Walk Your Way to Better.

http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com/

June 10th @ Bookish Tay

Stop by Taylor’s blog today and you can read her review of Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better.

https://tayepperson.com/

June 12th @ The New England Book Critic

Visit Victoria’s blog today and read her insights into Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better.

http://www.thenewenglandbookcritic.com/

June 13th @ Simply Nourished Wellness

Visit Stephani’s blog today and you can read her review of Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better.

https://www.baconandwhippedcream.com/

June 15th @ Jessica’s Reading Room

Visit Jessica’s blog today and make sure you read her review of author Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better.

http://jessicasreadingroom.com

June 17th @ Bookish Tay

Visit Taylor’s blog again and you can read a guest post written by Joyce Shulman about how to keep fear from standing in your way.

https://tayepperson.com/

June 19th @ Coffee with Lacey

Stop by Lacey’s blog and read her review of Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better.

https://coffeewithlacey.com/

June 19th @ Second Wind Leisure 

Stop by Terri’s blog today and read her review of Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better. You can also read a guest post written by the author about the power of yet.

https://secondwindleisure.com/

June 20th @ Cafeyre 

Visit Karoline’s blog today and read her review of Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better.

https://cafeyre.wordpress.com/

June 21st @ Simply Nourished Wellness

Visit Stephani’s blog again and you can read a guest post by author Joyce Shulman about the value of walking. Don’t miss it!

https://www.baconandwhippedcream.com/

June 22nd @ And So She Thinks

Visit Francesca’s blog today and read her interview with Joyce Shulman, author of Walk Your Way to Better.

Home

https://andsoshethinks.co.uk/embed/#?secret=1ilLtrNQ9d

June 23rd @ The Frugalista Mom

Stop by Rozelyn’s blog today and read her review of Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better.

https://thefrugalistamom.com/

June 24th @ Cathy C. Hall Writes

Visit Cathy’s blog and read her review of Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better.

https://c-c-hall.com/

June 25th @ D-Mom Blog

Don’t miss Leighann’s review of Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better.

http://www.d-mom.com/

June 26th @ Deborah Adam’s Blog

Stop by Deborah’s blog today and read her review of Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better.

Welcome!

http://www.deborah-adams.com/embed/#?secret=lWbZ45jh7z

June 27th  @ Deborah Adam’s Blog

Visit Deborah’s blog again today and you can read a guest post by Joyce Shulman about the commitment to women walking their way to better.

Welcome!

http://www.deborah-adams.com/embed/#?secret=lWbZ45jh7z

June 28th @ Bev A Baird’s Blog

Visit Bev’s blog today where she reviews Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better.

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

The Colors of Me by Maya and Jello Review

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

It is a true honor to share with you all a rare treat, a review of an outstanding audiobook from Maya and Jello of the book of poetry, “The Colors of Me”. 

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The Synopsis

A Collection of Poems Welcome to The Colors of Me, a collection of poems based on inspirations gained from my life experiences. Read and enjoy. Then read again. Read and share the experience with your friends and loved ones. It is a journey you will not soon forget.

The Review

Beautifully narrated, the poems are written and read with conviction and heart, telling a story of growth, empowerment and hope. While some of the poetry does stem into some religious paths (something that is not my strong suit), the overall tone and power for which the poems were delivered made this a must listen/read book.

Themes of self-worth, the beauty of the world and finding hope in seemingly hopeless situations all play a role in the poetry of the author. The audiobook elicits great emotion and warmth within the reader/listener, giving the audience a voice to the emotions the author hoped to stir in them. 

The Verdict

A beautifully read, well narrated and incredibly written book of poetry, Maya and Jello’s “The Colors of Me” is a must listen audiobook everyone should hear for themselves. In an age when audiobooks are becoming more and more prevalent, this is a prime example of the beauty and emotion that this format can bring out in the wonderful words written by the author. Be sure to grab your own copies today!

Rating: 8/10

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Audiobook Blog Tour: The Colors of Me by Maya and Jello

Author: Maya and Jello

Narrator: Maya and Jello

Length: 53 minutes

Publisher: M&J Literary Works Inc.

Released: Jan. 28, 2020

Genre: Poetry

A collection of poems. The critics are raving four/four stars. The Colors of Me is a collection of beautiful poems. The author’s creativity is amazing. It’s bold, sexy, spiritual, yet intriguing. Welcome to The Colors of Me. Each poem was written based on inspirations gained from my life experiences. Listen and enjoy. Then listen again. Listen and share the experience with your friends and loved ones. It is a journey you will not soon forget.
Buy Links
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the Colors of Me is available for review from the Adopt-An-Audiobook program! Click here to claim your copy.
  Maya and Jello was born and raised on the beautiful island of Trinidad, the sister island of Tobago in the West Indies. She migrated to the United States as a young teenager. Her main objective was to obtain a great education in the hopes of affording a better life for herself, her family, and to be a blessing to those around her. This quest led her to attain a Doctorate in medicine. But she never let go of her passion for writing poetry. Her works have been published in various school publications under various pen names. During medical school she wrote a segment in the College newspaper under the pen name Sparkie. The poems in this collection were written over a span of 30 years. She hopes that you enjoy reading them, as much as she enjoyed writing them for you.   I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Maya and Jello. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it. Guest Post
Maya and Jello on why readers who love poetry will appreciate this the Colors of Me
If you possess a true appreciation for the art of poetry whether it be pros, verse, lines, or sonnets. Whatever format, whatever flavor. There is something in The Colors of Me written just for you. Each poem embodies the entirety of and experience. And all of the experiences are different. The poems are designed to open up like a flower in bloom and then if needs be fall apart petal by petal. It is in this that I’m able to take the hand of the listener and lead them down a path; meandering through the darkened corners of emotions that we so often hide. Each poem is chock-full of imagery. Who doesn’t have that Mother or Grandmother, Teacher or Preacher who made such a difference in their lives? Who hasn’t experience the wind being knocked out of their sails by betrayal or a lost love? If you’ve ever felt something, ….anything. Then you’ll certainly appreciate The Colors of Me. A good poet can make you cry but I pride myself in making you laugh, and moreover at yourself. The heartfelt romantic pieces are a melee of unbridled emotion. They would ignite the passions in your soul and rekindle what you have, take you back to a time or make you long for that perfect love. You’ll rise to the triumphs and sink in the squalor of inexplicable pain. But just as you think you are about to break, you’ll hear a poem, a message, seemingly straight from the heart of God himself that would lift your spirits, that would mend your heart. It would rekindle your passion for life and living. You’d feel empowered to dust yourself off and rise to the occasion. You’ll gain the strength to embrace your past and forge forward to bigger and better things. And who knows, with faith in your left pocket and hope in your right, you may even venture to love again.

Unstoppable– Koryn Hawthorne

It’s The God in Me– Mary Mary

Closer– Marvin Sapp

Not Lucky I’m Loved– Jonathan Reynolds

The Nearness of You– Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong

One Look In Your Eyes– Luther Vandross

A Song for You– Donny Hathaway

That’s Life– Frank Sinatra

Keep Your Head Up– 2Pac

Mar. 22nd: Iron Canuck Reviews and More Willow Writes and Reads Books, Tea, Healthy Me Mar. 23rd: A Wonderful World of Words 4 the Love of Audiobooks Mar. 24th: Nesie’s Place Just Books 2 Girls & A Book Mar. 25th: Author Anthony Avina’s Blog Audiobook News Mar. 26th: Divas With A Purpose Super Booked! Mar. 27th: Jazzy Book Reviews Locks, Hooks and Books Mar. 28th: Sometimes Leelynn Reads Eileen Troemel

Plugging you into the audio community since 2016.

Sign up as a tour host here.

Interview with Author Abby Ross

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I have always loved writing. When I was a child, I wrote poems, short stories, songs – pretty much anything. I never thought, however, I would write a book. After graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in broadcast journalism, I moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas to work as a bilingual television news reporter for the CBS affiliate. That job began a six-year-long news reporting career. I lived in Davenport, Iowa, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma City, working for local news affiliates. To be honest, when I began that career, I was most excited about being on television. I quickly learned, however, that writing my story every day was my favorite part of the job. I also enjoyed getting out into the communities and interviewing people who had lives and stories that were so different from my own. 

After a while, I wanted a change. So, I moved to New York City and transitioned into public relations. I started working as the Communications Director for a New York State Senator. I then moved to a public relations firm. Once again, my favorite part about the job was writing blog posts, press releases, bylines and pitches. I also enjoyed digging for story ideas – interviewing my clients to uncover interesting stories that deserved to be shared with the world. In 2013, my husband and I were expecting our first son, so we moved to Chicago to be closer to my family. I also landed a job as the Media Relations Manager for a cyber security company. Ever since, I have not looked back. Cyber security is now my specialty, although I have transitioned into a marketing leadership role. My favorite part about marketing is writing. I write bylines, blog posts, client-decks, value propositions, website content, sales enablement materials, mission statements, client emails – pretty much anything that is public or internal-facing. 

“The Poop Diaries” started as a side project. I had a couple hours to myself every Sunday, and wanted to make the most of them. I always believed in the concept of the book, however I never expected to be where I am today! I am so grateful the ten plumbers in the book, and my publisher – Black Rose Writing – took a chance on a first-time author. I hope they are as proud of the book as I am. 

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

A clogged toilet. I realize it sounds strange, but it is true. My toilet clogged on a Wednesday evening. I could not sleep knowing my toilet wasn’t working so I called a plumber, Jon. He fixed the toilet within an hour, however he did not seem in a hurry to leave. He also had an energetic, tell-it-like-it-is personality, which I always appreciate. I asked Jon to share his “greatest hits” stories. I could not believe what came out of his mouth! The stories were so hilarious and surprising, I knew I had to share them with the world. After interviewing Jon and writing his diaries, I sought out to find more plumbers. Considering I was not a published, known author, it was tough getting people to talk to me. Most of the plumbers I found through word of mouth (you’d be surprised how many people know a plumber. And I do not mean someone who works for them. I mean someone’s uncle is a plumber; a friend is a plumber; a friend’s friend is a plumber). My husband found the two female plumbers, Carissa and Jac, by doing an online search. I was ecstatic that they both agreed to participate! The female perspective adds a lot of flavor to the book.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I hope people will realize that being a plumber involves so much more than unclogging toilets. Plumbers are engineers, artists, therapists and friends. As the book describes, they shoo birds out of houses, build beautiful copper puzzles, listen to insecurities and interact with people who spend every day alone. Plumbers encounter all kinds of people, and find some really personal items. They need to be patient, open-minded, and non-judgmental. The trade is also a lucrative, steady career, one that more people should get involved in. Many of the plumbers in the book have second homes and boats. Whether they went to college or not, they have built comfortable lives for themselves and their families. 

I also hope people will think twice about what’s inside their cabinets before a plumber comes over 🙂 I know I do (that is, after writing this book).

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

The genre found me. After listening to Jon’s stories, I knew I had to write this book. At first I was expecting the book to be pure humor. I just wanted to make people laugh. I realized while interviewing the plumbers, however, that their experiences are so much deeper than poop. Humor is woven in throughout the book, but it also dives into more serious aspects of the trade and the plumbers themselves. I open each diary with an introduction about the plumber, and end the chapter with a “Moment of Reflection.” I wanted the plumbers to have the final word. I wanted them to have the opportunity to share whatever thoughts about themselves and their work they thought were important.

5) Out of all the stories told to you, was there one in particular that stood out to you or possibly represents the book as a whole more so than the others?

No. Every plumber’s stories are so different  (with the exception of a couple dildo stories). That’s what I think makes the book so interesting. And I only interviewed ten plumbers. I cannot imagine the other untold stories out there. I also made sure to include a variety of plumbers – different genders, backgrounds and cultures. Diversity is really important when trying to capture the truth. 

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

I am very active on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. My largest audience is on LinkedIn (due to my professional career). I have been posting about the book so much, people may be getting sick of me. Although I hope not!

Here are my handles:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/crazyplumberstories/?modal=admin_todo_tour

Twitter: @honestab2

Instagram @honestab2

Linked In:https://www.linkedin.com/in/abby-ross/

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

Persistence is everything. I always believed in my concept. I knew other people would enjoy this book. I just had to (and still have to) find influential individuals who agreed with me. I pitched more than 100 agents and publishers, hoping to land a contract. Finally, one publisher (Black Rose Writing) said “yes.” To write the book, I worked every evening and Sunday. And I am still working. The persistence does not stop. I am now working every night, pitching reviewers, celebrities, agents, influencers – doing whatever I can to get the word out. Believe in your idea, and keep swinging for the fences. 

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

I am still very focused on marketing this book. I think the book would make a fantastic scripted television series. I am working with a screenwriter in Los Angeles to pitch the concept to producers and agents. We want to build the series off of one of the female plumbers, and weave in everyone else’s stories into her plumbing life. I am also reaching out to influencers and journalists to see if they are interested in reading and writing about the book. Anything I can do to get the word out I am doing. It is much harder as a first-time author to get the word out. Persistence is everything! As far as another book, I have some ideas. If plumbers start reaching out to me with more stories to share I may write a second book. Otherwise, I have ideas cooking. Just need the time to write about them!

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About the Author

Abby Ross has nearly two decades of experience working in journalism, public relations, and marketing. She has written countless news stories, bylines, and blog posts. Abby began her career as a television news reporter, which fostered her passion for interviewing and writing about interesting people from all walks of life. After six years of reporting, Abby pivoted her career into public relations and marketing, which has been her focus for the past decade. This is her first book.

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-poop-diaries-abby-ross/1135167569?ean=9781684334261

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.

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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FB: @DrWorkingStiff

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BUY LINKS:

Harlequin 

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Books-A-Million

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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!

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.

The Hidden Worlds by Sandra Ingerman and Katherine Wood Review

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

Four children find themselves lost in the same dream as a local environmental issue brings them together in authors Sandra Ingerman and Katherine Wood’s novel “The Hidden Worlds”. 

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The Synopsis

Were those people in Isaiah’s dream the same people from school? Popular soccer star Magda? George, who he’d never heard speak because he always left classes for special services help? Angry Rose, the Chinese girl who was always in trouble for fighting? And why were there dead birds and fish everywhere? When the four encounter one another the next day by the same pond from the dream, they realize they’ve shared a dream and there really are dead birds and fish covering the ground! This leads to real-life adventures and more dreams as they discover a toxic waste plant disposing of poisons illegally. Not friends in the beginning, romance blossoms as they work together with their Power Animals to close down the plant.

The Review

A short yet powerful read, the authors do a marvelous job of creating relatable and powerful characters together to fight an all too common threat to the environment and the planet altogether: major corporations. 

The story does a great job of exploring the physical realities of corporate greed leading to shortcuts and environmental contaminates that affect local wildlife and the spiritual/metaphysical realm that connects us with one another and the planet altogether, and how it all ties together. Sometimes it takes seeing the world through a child’s innocence to understand how important some things are, including how we treat the planet we call home. 

The Verdict

A must read book for anyone who enjoys spiritual storylines with an environmental friendly theme and YA/Middle-School genre reads, this novel is fairly short and easy to get lost in, making this a perfect book for young readers. The authors do a great job of brining the characters together and showcasing how bonds can form over a common goal, leading to some amazing changes when we stick together. If you haven’t yet, grab your copy of “The Hidden Worlds” by Sandra Ingerman and Katherine Wood today.

Rating: 8/10

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About the Authors

Sandra Ingerman

Sandra Ingerman, MA, is the author of 8 books, 7 CD programs and the creator of Transmutation App. She is a world renowned teacher of shamanism and has been teaching for over 30 years.

She teaches workshops internationally on shamanic journeying, healing, and reversing environmental pollution using spiritual methods. She has trained and founded an international alliance of Medicine for the Earth Teachers and shamanic teachers. Sandra is recognized for bridging ancient cross-cultural healing methods into our modern culture addressing the needs of our times.

Sandra is devoted to teaching people how we can work together as a global community to bring about positive change for the planet.

Sandra is a licensed Marriage and Family therapist and Professional Mental Health Counselor. She is also a board certified expert on traumatic stress as well as certified in acute traumatic stress management. She was awarded the 2007 Peace Award from the Global Foundation for Integrative Medicine. Sandra was chosen as one of the Top Ten Spiritual Leaders of 2013 in the November/December Issue of Spirituality and Health.

https://sandraingermanbooks.com/

Katherine Wood

Katherine Wood taught reading and writing to middle and high school students for 31 years. She is a shamanic practitioner and teacher as well as an avid reader, writer and journeyer who loves to travel in both ordinary reality and in the hidden worlds.

https://katherinewoodauthor.org/