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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

The Blurb Factor: 3 Crucial Steps to Optimize Your Book Description | Guest Post

I am honored to be able to share this next guest blog post with you all. Writer Greg Josselyn from Reedsy has reached out with a brand new post on the Blurb Factor to share with aspiring authors and writers out there. Enjoy and be sure to follow Greg’s work on Reedsy.


From botched to bestselling

When romance writer Alessandra Torre uploaded her first book on Amazon eight years ago, she only sold three on the first day. And for the next few months, she averaged a still-disappointing 15 – until one night, she looked at her book description and said: “I’m going to re-write this.” 

That re-write sparked a renaissance. First, it was 100 books sold in one day. Then 300. Then 2,000. That’s when she started ranking as a top seller in the Romance category, and offers from agents and publishers came flooding in. Now, Torre is an Amazon International bestselling novelist, with over a dozen books to her name. 

We can’t pin Torre’s success entirely on a book blurb – she is a good writer, after all! But we would be remiss not to poke around the subject, especially since this is a great Amazon self-publishing success story. The fact is, without the social credit and marketing budget of a big publishing house, the seemingly small things we usually save for last – like book descriptions – will make or break you. 

If you’re a writer who’s planning to self-publish, this post will help improve your book description (or back cover text) and grow your profitability on Amazon. But even if you aren’t quite at that stage yet, you can apply these techniques to query letters and pitches for your book. After all, it’s never too early to start selling people on your ideas.

Step 1: Get a hook and bait

Hook, hook, hook. That seems to be all writers and editors ever talk about, and yet, most of us still wonder what it really means. When we say “hook”, we mean like a fish hook, with – you you guessed it – bait. This is particularly important in the sea of distractions that is Amazon.com. But what are the raw materials that will make up your hook and bait? You’ll require: 

  1. A brief – we cannot stress this enough – summary of the story (no spoilers, please!) 
  2. A question that the story poses (which, of course, makes the reader want to find the answer so much that they’re willing to pay $9.99 for it). What’s going to compel Suzie So-And-So to forgo her mocha lattes this week for your book? 
  3. A little typography dress-up. You don’t have to go to coding boot camp to try on bolds, italics, and colors when setting up your product page. For example, on Amazon, you can:
    • Make things bold: <b>Be Bold My Friend, Be Bold</b>
    • Italicize Things <i>don’t go overboard though here because sometimes readers breeze over italics </i> 
    • Headline: <h1>This is a classier way to do all caps</h1>
    • Amazon Colors: <h2>Jeff Bezos will approve.</h2>
    • Indent: <blockquote>for anyone who likes a good old indent, you’re welcome. </blockquote>

Step 2: Blurb it out

Try to think of your book description in the most succinct terms possible. This isn’t a school book report; it’s like more like an elevator pitch. In other words, don’t blurt it out – blurb it out!

And when it comes to blurbs, our friend Torre is the master. If she didn’t revise the blurb for her first book, she may have switched careers instead of rising to the New York Times best seller list, which is why we always refer aspiring writers to her video tips on the subject. But in brief, she stresses these two essential facts: 

  1. The first three sentences of the blurb matter most. It’s like a teaser trailer – after those three sentences, users are going to have to click “Read More” to well, read more. To keep them scrolling, or get them to move onto the “full trailer,” as it were, those three sentences should stand out by utilizing the problem/question structure mentioned above.

One strong way to do that is to employ the classic proposition “but.” For example: “Will Byers lived a normal life in a boring suburban town. But when a mysterious alien creature shows up, his life turns upside down. Will it ever turn right side up again?” (Read More…)

  1. Leave out unnecessary details. All too often, authors use their blurbs to share irrelevant details like character surnames, where they live, their professions, or other excess exposition to no end. Cut all of that out – just set up the problem and the stakes of the story. You can always go full-on Charles Dickens in the actual book. But don’t make your blurb into Bleak House, or you’ll send readers running for the hills. 

Step 3: Demonstrate (and prove!) a social benefit

You’ve done it all so far: The blurb is short enough for a social media share. Your first three sentences set up a key question and further dilemma. You’ve omitted unnecessary details, like your character’s middle name or their township’s population.

And yet, potential readers are still scrolling to click on other book titles in your category. Yes, it could be other factors like book cover design and reviews, but still – there’s one last ingredient needed to seal the deal on your blurb. This is, of course, why the book matters to the potential buyer. What does your book provide for them? How will it make an impact on their life? Advertisements do it all the time, so why not utilize this technique to sell your book?  

For example, if your book is self-help, be sure to mention that they’ll never think the same way about X problem ever again. Or if it’s fiction, show how your main character is relatable to readers, and how they overcome problems that many of us experience in our own lives.

If you have reviews or testimonials to prove this, even better: up the social proof to the max. And if you’re new to self-publishing, drawing comparisons to pre-existing works is one great way to do it (e.g. “This Gender Bending Historial Fantasy is Games of Thrones meets Queer Eye), or just stress how it’ll change the reader’s way of looking at the world (“fantasy fans and fashionistas will never be the same again…”). 

Takeways

In order to make a successful book blurb, be sure to include:

  1. An enticing lead to grab readers
  2. A question that a reader can only answer by actually reading your book
  3. Proof that the story will benefit the reader’s life – this might be pure entertainment, or genuine self-improvement

There are endless ways to play around with these elements. Try out different options – at least three – and test them with friends and family, as well as pro beta readers. Ask: which description pulls you in? Which one doesn’t do it for you? And why? Or, do an A/B test in Amazon: swap out the different descriptions and see which one performs the best.

Still no sales? Keep re-writing and testing until you do, like Alessandra Torre. Otherwise, accept that the marketplace just may not be ready for this particular book, and start re-examining your content from the ground up.  

Greg Josselyn is a writer for Reedsy, a curated marketplace dedicated to empowering authors. When he’s not covering KDP Select, he writes short fiction and makes podcasts.

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Interview with Author Octavia J. Riley

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

It’s a little funny how I started writing seriously at the age of twelve. I’d been an avid reader for so long, but I didn’t like how the Twilight books portrayed vampires…so I wrote my own vampire book. Of course, it was terrible, ha! However, that inspired me to keep writing. I started writing fanfiction at an early age, and fanfiction gets a lot of bad hype, but it’s sort of like a writer’s version of playing house with dolls. You already have the characters fleshed out, and now you can do whatever you want with them! All the inspiration that came from that started fueling more original content, and by the time I started writing really seriously I had several years of feedback and practice under my belt.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I’ve always had the idea of a creature sanctuary in my head since I was in high school, but I could never implement it in a book. I would start it and then…I’d lose interest. I must have started a book with that idea in mind at least one hundred times. My co-author, Nia Rose, is actually who truly inspired me to write Secrets of the Sanctuary. She had this base for a world but was just starting out, and through nights of bouncing ideas off each other until dawn we came up with the world we’ve come to love so much.

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

I really hope readers will take away that it’s okay to rely on others. Even in your darkest times, there are people who are willing to be there with you. You don’t have to be alone in your struggles. At the same time, you are strong enough to stand on your own two feet. I hope that doesn’t sound too contradictory.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I’ve read so many different genres and reading levels, and while some are good for a quick fix or a short indulgence, I really love the whole package fantasy provides. The possibilities are endless, and, if say your main protagonist needs to contact someone and cell phones aren’t a thing *poof!* you make something up as you go!

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

Oh, tough one. Thea is my baby and an inspiration drawn from myself, Cressida is a queen all her own, Leslie cracks me up and was originally supposed to be a joke, but honestly? Probably Tasgall. Tassie has been with me since I first came up with the idea of a creature sanctuary. She’s transformed so much, but she’s always been the bubbly, mischievous, short, red-headed bartender. I’d probably ask her how she came to befriend Me’Glach and O’Glach, and why such a strong-willed girl like herself didn’t just defy her father and join the Coven anyway?

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

Probably Facebook. I see so many authors trying to promote their work, and I’ve found some pretty interesting novels to get into because of all the groups I’m apart of.

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

Make. A. Facebook. Page. It is tiresome and tedious trying to find relevant content (Pinterest is a life saver here) to post day-to-day on top of you going to school, work, raising children, or just writing. However, over time as your page grows and you sprinkle in your projects, more people see it. Also, run advertisements for LONGER rather than trying to reach more people over a shorter period of time. Be engaging in your advertisements and have visually pleasing content attached to the ad to catch people’s attention.

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

Oh my God, yes. So, Coven Chronicles is a six part serial where Nia Rose writes three books and I write three. Two down, four to go. We’ve already come up with the next four titles and we’re really excited about that. I have a stand alone for the same world where my main character sets off to find out the cause of Aeristria’s yearly blizzards (expect dragons). Then, just recently I came up with an idea that takes the concept of fairy godmothers and turns it completely on its head.

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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/

Interview with Author Bryon Cahill

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



Most authors will tell you they’ve been writing all their life. They’ll say, “I’ve been writing since I could hold a pen.” Well, technically, that’s probably true, if you count a few illegible scribbles. And I suppose I have been illegibly scribbling since way back when, too. But the better response would be that I really started writing in High School. I wrote unspeakably bad poetry for years and a great number of horrendous stories.

I majored in Writing at Marist College. That’s where I wrote my first novel. It was more trite garbage that will never see the light of day. Many more amateur, unpublishable books followed for years until I Am Marcus Fox came around. This was the first real, substantial thing I’ve been excited to share and put my own name behind.

What inspired you to write your book?

Honestly? My protagonist inspired me. He blasted his high-octane life into my head and poured himself onto my page. He grabbed me by the ears and demanded, “Listen! My story is electric! Write me!” What choice did I have? I fleshed him out and before I knew what hit me, Marcus was in charge, writing his own story. It was some next-level stuff. The man insisted on being a modern day Paul Bunyan braggart. But it’s hard to take anything he says without a heaping pile of salt grains. As much as I was honored to tell his tale, I still wonder who he might truly be, beneath it all.

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

Fiction is stranger than truth. That’s sort of become my motto and I’ve been flaunting it all over the place. That’s not an entirely well thought out message, though. One major theme in the book that Marcus tries to grasp from time to time is: Can a person ever really know another? What goes on inside our heads? No one really knows but us. And sometimes, not even we are sure of our own thoughts and perceptions of the world. Indeed, it if left untidy, our minds can become quite messy.

What drew you into this particular genre?

Again, I have to give all credit to Marcus. I never intended to write his story but when he insisted that his life was brimming with action and adventure, I was compelled to explore it. As for the psychological thriller part of the literary mashup, I discovered along the way that my protagonist was either a) the world’s greatest bullsh*t artist or b) a couple zebras short of a dazzle. And if it was the latter, I was going to have to do a lot of research on native Zambian animal tribes.

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

There are plenty of characters in Marcus’ story who support him (or antagonize him). Some I would love to have a beer with and others I’d rather observe from a safe distance. But I think I’d most like to sit down with Marcus’ adopted father, Shumbuto. I’d ask him why he’s so sure of himself and his beliefs. Where does his blind faith come from and does he find it to be a strength or a weakness? Though most assuredly, he would give a non-answer, because he is a lovable, strong hearted, brilliant nincompoop.

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

I’m still working on this one, Anthony. I have a Facebook and Twitter presence where I post my oh-so-wordy, sometimes witty bloggys, and do whatever all else it is people do on social media.

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

If you’re self-publishing, research everything you can before pushing the button. When you think you know it all, start over, re-read. Find new sources. Absorb more. And then when you finally do publish, you’ll probably do a lot of things wrong. Learn from them. That’s what I’m doing now. I’m learning the business. Yes, it is a business. As a writer, you probably only want to be creative. Of course there’s oodles of room for that but you have to wear all the other hats as well. There is an incredible learning curve. Maybe some day I’ll be off it but not anytime soon.

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

I am currently drafting Book 2 in my Lost Identity series (I Am Marcus Fox was Book 1). I haven’t really advertised the series notion anywhere else. People don’t want to hear that you have a Book 2 coming out until Book 2 is actually written and has itself a pub date. Readers get burned all the time by writers who start a series with good intentions but then fall off the face of the earth. I have no intention of going anywhere. That said, who said anything about a Book 2? Wasn’t me. Bloody rumors.

I also should have a Middle Grade novel being released later this year and possibly the first book in a Young Adult series in early 2020. If you’d like to follow my progress, you can do so by signing up for my e-newsletter on my website at http://www.bryoncahill.com. There’s a free gift in it for you, if you do! Spoiler alert: It’s a short story about how Marcus Fox’s parents met each other.

Thanks for reading!

Fiction is stranger than truth.

(See! I use that line everywhere.)

About the Author

Bryon Cahill is an author for all ages. A Stay-At-Home Dad by day and night, he writes by proverbial candlelight in the wee strange hours of morning. REPORT THIS AD

In the past, Bryon was an award-winning writer and editor of literary publications for teens. His stories, influenced by phantasmagorical classics such as Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, do often steer off-course, alighting on the wings of the fantastical.

When not writing or Dadding, Bryon dreams of sleeping sheep. He summers, winters, springs, and falls with his loving family along the sunny beaches of the Jersey Shore.

I Am Marcus Fox is Bryon’s debut novel for adult readers. It will be available for human consumption on May 7, 2019. 

Novels steeped in magical realism for young adult and middle grade readers are forthcoming, as is more fiction for adults.

Website & Blog: www.bryoncahill.com

Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/bryoncahill

Twitter: www.twitter.com/shakabry

Facebook: www.facebook.com/BryonCahillAuthor

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/shakabry

Guest Post: The Mental Health Struggles of Writers

This is Anthony Avina here. I’m happy to share with you guys this amazing guest post from the amazing people at BetterHelp and Regain about the mental health struggles of writers. I hope you guys will enjoy this post and gain some helpful insights into the life and mental health struggles writers go through.


Writing is a rich, rewarding profession; at least if you’re successful with it. However, even the most successful writers face mental health struggles. In this post, we will explain a few struggles a writer of any level may face.

Help for Your Struggles

Being a writer is hard, and sometimes you need to work on your own mental health to be a better writer. If you are suffering from depression, anxiety, hopelessness, or need advice you should seek out the help you need. With so many writers busy at home, online therapy is becoming the new method of getting help. For more information, click this link: https://www.regain.us/advice/

The Fear of Rejection

Rejection is difficult for anyone to take, no matter your resistance to it. Rejection can come in many forms. If you’re a fiction author trying to publish the next great novel, getting dozens of rejection letters is a challenge. You just want to give up and keep your writing to yourself, or self-publish. Sure, you can hear inspiring stories about how the biggest authors got rejected hundreds of times, but it’s hard to stay motivated even then.

For a freelance writer, a potential client rejecting you and hiring someone else can be hurtful as well. You may wonder what you did wrong, and wonder if your work is any good at all. This especially applies if you don’t know why the rejection happened.

Getting past rejection is a challenge. While many say it gets better with time, others still struggle with it.

The Fear of Criticism

This is similar to the rejection fear. Your work gets out, and you want to hear what others are saying. Even if the reception is mostly positive, people tend to focus on the vocal minority of negative reviewers, and they may be upset or defensive over their work.

Even if you write the next great American novel, there is always going to be dissent. Handling criticism can be done in many ways. Some just ignore their critics, while others listen to the critics who have interesting points and see if they can make changes. With that said, don’t change your work just because you read a bad review.

The Struggle for Creativity

For some writers, creativity is always around the corner. For others, creativity comes in droplets. Writer’s block can affect a writer, and everyone fears it, especially if your income is dependent on your creativity.

Exercising creativity is a good way to get the juices flowing. Not overthinking your creativity is a good move too. Many people get their best ideas when they aren’t thinking too hard. However, this does not apply to everyone.

Staying Isolated

Many people dream of being writers because they like the idea of working from home, with no one watching you. However, many writers feel lonely or cooped up in their home, especially if they are single. However, even writers who have families may struggle with loneliness. If you have kids, teaching them the value of writing is a good way to get rid of that loneliness. For more information,   click here or look here.

That’s why some writers may go to coffee shops or other social gatherings. Alternatively, you can write in nature if you have a laptop and Internet access if your work requires that.

It’s a Rewarding, Yet Tough Career

If you can get past the mental health struggles of writing, it can be a rewarding career. When you have all the bumps bypassed, writing is great for the mind and can lead you down a path of creativity. Speak to other writers, or a therapist, if you’re having any struggles or doubts. People can help you, and you can succeed with your work.

Interview with Author Rina Z. Neiman

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

I’ve worked in music, fashion, high tech, and retail. Writing has always been an element of my professional career.


What inspired you to write your book?

My mother’s life inspired this book, and the understanding that her story was so deeply intertwined with the establishment of the State of Israel. Sadly, she died when I was eleven years old, and I was too young to know what questions to ask. Following my father’s death years later, I discovered her photographs and documents, most of which I had never seen before. Under pictures of best friends and boyfriends, whose names we’d never know (or how they affected her), I found an illustrated sketch book by her brother. Avraham was the uncle we never met, but knew was her best friend. The book tells the story of a trip they took to the Galilee in 1947. For the first time, I had an inside view into the most significant relationship in my mother’s life, and an intimate portrait of her as a 17-year-old. I wanted to tell not only her story, but the story of the Sabra generation, the first generation of modern-day Israelis.

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

  • We are from our birthplace.
  • The importance of family and community.
  • War is about losing loved ones.
  • Resilience in the face of adversity is key to survival.
  • What led to the establishment of the State of Israel. The events in Europe during WWII had repercussions that affected the whole world.
  • A portrait of the unique Sabra generation.
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What drew you into this particular genre?

I began this project as a straight biography, but quickly found it was not possible to corroborate particular facts about my mother’s life. It also became clear that there was a broader story to tell about the time period and her generation. I’ve always found historical fiction compelling to read, and love that it can transport you to a different time and place.  

What I like about writing an historical fiction novel is that there is a timeline of events that I was able to follow. I could intertwine those events in ways that I knew, or had to imagine, affected my mother. Here’s an example: While researching the time (1940s), and place (Tel Aviv), I came across an incident that happened in 1941 that I never knew about. My mother never spoke about it, and it wasn’t mentioned in most of the histories of Tel Aviv. Shortly after the Italians entered WWII, an squadron of Italian planes dropped bombs on my mother’s neighborhood killing 137 people. Even though I didn’t know how it affected my mother, it became clear to me that this was a scene that I had to write. What would it be like to be a 12-year-old girl caught in such a frightening event?

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

Facebook and Instagram for now, and I’m working on my Twitter presence. With my WOW blog tour, I can see how effective the world of book blogs can be.

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

  • Take classes in writing. Learn the craft.
  • Create a timeline with an outline. That’s your path.
  • Find a writing group.
  • Write THE END. Are you sure? Better check it one more time…
  • Polish your final piece.

Self-marketing is part of the publishing world now. The best way to create interest in your story is to find like-minded people, and promote to those you are connected with. Network with other writers, writing groups and organizations that may have an interest in your work.

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

I have two projects that I’m currently outlining. There is a sequel to Born Under Fire that follows Shula in Manhattan in the 1950s, and her work at the first Israeli consulate in New York. And, because it’s based on my mother, the highs are high and the lows are devastating.

The second is a music-centered novel that takes place in New York in the early 1970s.

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About the Author

Rina Z. Neiman is a writer, event producer and public relations professional. Born Under Fire is based on the true story of her mother, Shulamit Dubno Neiman, a Sabra, a musician and one of the first generation of modern-day Israelis. Rina lives in Marin County, California with her husband and son. This is her first novel.REPORT THIS AD

You may find out more about the author and her book by visiting the website https://www.bornunderfire.com/. Also, you may find her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

— Blog Tour Dates

May 20th @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin! So, grab your coffee and join us today as we celebrate the launch of Rina Z. Neiman’s book Born Under Fire. Read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book.

http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/REPORT THIS AD

May 21st @ Karen Brown Tyson Blog

Make sure you stop by Karen’s blog today where you can read Rina Z. Neiman’s guest post about how to manage time and distractions during the book writing process. If you are writing a book – or thinking about writing one – this one is a post you don’t want to miss!

https://karenbrowntyson.com/blog/

May 22nd @ Coffee with Lacey

Grab some coffee and visit Lacey’s blog today where you can read her review about Rina Z. Neiman’s book Born Under Fire.

https://coffeewithlacey.com/

May 23rd @ Coffee with Lacey

Stop by Lacey’s blog again where you can read the author Rina Z. Neiman’s guest post about why researching primary sources is so effective.

https://coffeewithlacey.com/

May 23rd @ Bri’s Book Nook

Looking for a new book? Make sure to stop by Bri’s Book Nook and find out why you need to add Rina Z. Neiman’s book Born Under Fire to your reading list.

https://brisbooknook.com/

May 24th @ One Sister’s Journey

Today is a can’t miss review by Lisa over at One Sister’s Journey blog. She’s sharing her thoughts about Rina Z. Neiman’s historical fiction book Born Under Fire.REPORT THIS AD

https://www.lisambuske.com/

May 26th @ Reading Whale

You won’t want to miss today’s stop at the blog Reading Whale where you can read this Rina Z. Neiman’s guest post about when you can finally start writing your book after all that research.

https://readingwhale.com/

May 27th @ The Burgeoning Bookshelf

Fill your bookshelf with good books! Stop by Veronica’s blog and read author Rina Z. Neiman’s guest post about writing biographical fiction and when to dramatize real events.

https://theburgeoningbookshelf.blogspot.com/

May 28th @ Helen Hollick’s World of Books

Join Helen Hollick’s Tuesday Talk over at her blog and read Rina Z. Neiman’s guest post about how videos can reinforce your historical novel.

https://www.helenhollick.net/

May 28th @ Book Collab Blog

Make sure you stop by Morgan’s blog Book Collab where you can find out what she has to say about Rina Z. Neiman’s historical fiction book Born Under Fire.

https://morganbray15.wixsite.com/mysite

May 29th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

If you love historical fiction, make sure you visit Anthony Avina’s blog today where he features author Rina Z. Neiman’s blog post about how she researched her historical fiction novel Born Under Fire. You won’t want to miss this!REPORT THIS AD

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

May 31st @ Jess Reading Blog

Are you interested in writing history for young adults? If you are, you will absolutely want to visit Jess’ blog today where author Rina Z. Neiman talks about writing history for young adults and what grabs them and what loses them.

https://jessbookishlife.wordpress.com/

June 1st @ The World of My Imagination

Come by Nicole’s blog today where you can read her review of Rina Z. Neiman’s book Born Under Fire and enter to win a copy of the book.

http://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com

June 2nd @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Can’t resist a good book? Visit author Anthony Avina’s blog today when he reviews Rina Z. Neiman’s incredible historical fiction book Born Under Fire.

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

June 3rd @ Beverley A. Baird’s Blog

Looking for your next great read? Make sure you stop by Bev’s blog today and catch her opinion on this fascinating historical fiction novel Born Under Fire.

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

June 4th @ Amanda Diaries

Today’s stop is at Amanda’s blog where you can read what she thinks about Rina Z. Neiman’s historical fiction book Born Under Fire. REPORT THIS AD

https://amandalsanders1989.wordpress.com/

June 5th @ The Frugalista Mom

Visit Rozelyn’s blog today where you can not only read her review of Born Under Fire but also enter to win a copy of the book!

https://thefrugalistamom.com/

June 7th @ Bookworm Blog

Feeling bookish today? Make sure you stop by Anjanette’s Bookworm blog where you can read her thoughts about Rina Z. Neiman’s powerful historical fiction book Born Under Fire plus read an interview with the author.

https://bookworm66.wordpress.com/

June 8th @ Jessica’s Reading Room

Today’s tour stop is a fantastic guest post written by author Rina Z. Neiman about how to make stories interactive. A must-read for all the writers out there!

http://jessicasreadingroom.com/

June 9th @ Jess Bookish Life

Need a new book in your life? Stop by Jess’ blog today where she shares her opinion about the historical fiction book Born Under Fire.

https://jessbookishlife.wordpress.com/

June 10th @ Beverley A. Baird’s Blog

Are you doing research for your novel? Make sure you visit Bev’s blog today where author Rina Z. Neiman is talking about top 5 ways to research secondary sources.REPORT THIS AD

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

June 12th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Get to know author Rina Z. Neiman at today’s stop over at author Anthony Avina’s blog where he interviews the author.

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

June 14th @ Bookworm Blog

Visit Anjanette’s blog today and read a guest post by the author who talks about making your story interactive and why adding music is so effective.

https://bookworm66.wordpress.com/

Visit Wendi’s blog at Strength 4 Spouses where you can read Rina Z. Neiman’s guest post about the importance of writing during deployment.

June 15th @ Strength 4 Spouses

Welcome to Strength 4 Spouses Blog!

June 17th @ 12 Books

Visit Louise’s blog over at 12 Books and find out her thoughts about Rina Z. Neiman’s book Born Under Fire.

June 19th @ Inquiry and Beyond

Join Kathy on Instagram and on her blog PYP in Paradise as she reviews and features Rina Z. Neiman’s book Born Under Fire.

https://www.instagram.com/InquiryandBeyond/

http://pypinparadise.blogspot.com/

June 21st @ Choices Blog

Interviewing someone for your book? Make sure you visit Madeline Sharples’ blog today where Rina Z. Neiman talks about how to conduct interviews with people who are (and who are not) willing to talk with you.

http://madelinesharples.com/

June 23rd @ Strength 4 Spouses Blog

Need a new book? Make sure you stop by Wendi’s blog where she reviews Born Under Fire by Rina Z. Neiman.

Welcome to Strength 4 Spouses Blog!

Born Under Fire by Rina Z. Neiman Review

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

A coming of age tale of a young girl facing the horrors of war during the rise of Hitler and the Nazi regime takes center stage in author Rina Z. Neiman’s novel “Born Under Fire”. 

The Synopsis

Born Under Fire is a historical novel that tells the story of a girl coming of age and her drive to excel despite the devastating effects of long-term war. Born in Jerusalem under British rule in 1928, Shula grows up in a world in turmoil as Hitler rises to power and nations enter into war. Amid a landscape of ancient stone ruins next to modern Bauhaus architecture, and desert scrub ending at newly verdant farmlands, Shula grows into her independence as the State of Israel is born. Based on historical documents and events, Born Under Fire is also about the context surrounding the founding of the State of Israel, as well as the horrors and dangers of growing up in a conflict zone. Shula battles grief and depression due to the shattering events affecting her, her family, and the entire world. Despite this struggle, her resilient spirit enables her to reach great heights as a concert pianist.

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The Review

This was a gripping tale that held no punches and spoke honestly about the rise of the Israeli state and the hardships endured by many during this era of history. Not only did it explore the violence plaguing the world at large during WWII, but the affects it had on the Jewish community around the world and the violence between other cultures and the Jewish people, (and even division amongst the Jewish people themselves), that arose due to this tumultuous time. Yet it’s the way the story is told that will instantly pull readers in, as protagonist Shula is shown from a young girl growing into a young woman and seeing the violence and changes happening around her and to her family.

Shula is what makes the story feel relatable and emotional. While many books and films/television programs will explore historical periods like WWII and give great insight into the period of time that saw so much death and destruction, they often lack the emotional struggle many people faced each and every day. Yet this historical fiction/drama showcases these struggles realistically and allows the reader to hang on to the author’s every word as Shula endures great loss, change and triumph throughout this tale. Not only do we see history through this young woman’s eyes, but readers also feel connected to her as she undergoes this coming of age journey that sees her find the inner strength and courage not only to face these everyday challenges during a time of war, but to reach for her dreams and fight to hold onto her passions in the face of so much loss and adversity.

The Verdict

This is a must read historical fiction novel. Many WWII novels that showcase the struggles of the Jewish people often will focus on the struggles of those immediately in danger from the Nazi regime. Yet in this novel readers get a new perspective on the Jewish community outside of Europe and instead on those establishing themselves in the growing state of Israel. Highlighting the cultural struggles as well as the violence endured during this time, readers will fall in love with Shula and the story of her life during this tumultuous era of history, making this a novel readers will not want to put down. If you haven’t yet be sure to grab your copy of “Born Under Fire” by Rina Z. Neiman today! 

Rating: 10/10

Born Under Fire is now available to purchase on AmazonBarnes and Noble, and Thrift Books.

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About the Author, Rina Z. Neiman

Rina Z. Neiman is a writer, event producer and public relations professional. Born Under Fire is based on the true story of her mother, Shulamit Dubno Neiman, a Sabra, a musician and one of the first generation of modern-day Israelis. Rina lives in Marin County, California with her husband and son. This is her first novel.

You may find out more about the author and her book by visiting the website https://www.bornunderfire.com/. Also, you may find her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

— Blog Tour Dates

May 20th @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin! So, grab your coffee and join us today as we celebrate the launch of Rina Z. Neiman’s book Born Under Fire. Read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book.

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

May 21st @ Karen Brown Tyson Blog

Make sure you stop by Karen’s blog today where you can read Rina Z. Neiman’s guest post about how to manage time and distractions during the book writing process. If you are writing a book – or thinking about writing one – this one is a post you don’t want to miss!

https://karenbrowntyson.com/blog/

May 22nd @ Coffee with Lacey

Grab some coffee and visit Lacey’s blog today where you can read her review about Rina Z. Neiman’s book Born Under Fire.

https://coffeewithlacey.com/

May 23rd @ Coffee with Lacey

Stop by Lacey’s blog again where you can read the author Rina Z. Neiman’s guest post about why researching primary sources is so effective.

https://coffeewithlacey.com/

May 23rd @ Bri’s Book Nook

Looking for a new book? Make sure to stop by Bri’s Book Nook and find out why you need to add Rina Z. Neiman’s book Born Under Fire to your reading list.

https://brisbooknook.com/

May 24th @ One Sister’s Journey

Today is a can’t miss review by Lisa over at One Sister’s Journey blog. She’s sharing her thoughts about Rina Z. Neiman’s historical fiction book Born Under Fire.

https://www.lisambuske.com/

May 26th @ Reading Whale

You won’t want to miss today’s stop at the blog Reading Whale where you can read this Rina Z. Neiman’s guest post about when you can finally start writing your book after all that research.

https://readingwhale.com/

May 27th @ The Burgeoning Bookshelf

Fill your bookshelf with good books! Stop by Veronica’s blog and read author Rina Z. Neiman’s guest post about writing biographical fiction and when to dramatize real events.

https://theburgeoningbookshelf.blogspot.com/

May 28th @ Helen Hollick’s World of Books

Join Helen Hollick’s Tuesday Talk over at her blog and read Rina Z. Neiman’s guest post about how videos can reinforce your historical novel.

https://www.helenhollick.net/

May 28th @ Book Collab Blog

Make sure you stop by Morgan’s blog Book Collab where you can find out what she has to say about Rina Z. Neiman’s historical fiction book Born Under Fire.

https://morganbray15.wixsite.com/mysite

May 29th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

If you love historical fiction, make sure you visit Anthony Avina’s blog today where he features author Rina Z. Neiman’s blog post about how she researched her historical fiction novel Born Under Fire. You won’t want to miss this!

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

May 31st @ Jess Reading Blog

Are you interested in writing history for young adults? If you are, you will absolutely want to visit Jess’ blog today where author Rina Z. Neiman talks about writing history for young adults and what grabs them and what loses them.

https://jessbookishlife.wordpress.com/

June 1st @ The World of My Imagination

Come by Nicole’s blog today where you can read her review of Rina Z. Neiman’s book Born Under Fire and enter to win a copy of the book.

http://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com

June 2nd @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Can’t resist a good book? Visit author Anthony Avina’s blog today when he reviews Rina Z. Neiman’s incredible historical fiction book Born Under Fire.

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

June 3rd @ Beverley A. Baird’s Blog

Looking for your next great read? Make sure you stop by Bev’s blog today and catch her opinion on this fascinating historical fiction novel Born Under Fire.

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

June 4th @ Amanda Diaries

Today’s stop is at Amanda’s blog where you can read what she thinks about Rina Z. Neiman’s historical fiction book Born Under Fire. 

https://amandalsanders1989.wordpress.com/

June 5th @ The Frugalista Mom

Visit Rozelyn’s blog today where you can not only read her review of Born Under Fire but also enter to win a copy of the book!

https://thefrugalistamom.com/

June 7th @ Bookworm Blog

Feeling bookish today? Make sure you stop by Anjanette’s Bookworm blog where you can read her thoughts about Rina Z. Neiman’s powerful historical fiction book Born Under Fire plus read an interview with the author.

https://bookworm66.wordpress.com/

June 8th @ Jessica’s Reading Room

Today’s tour stop is a fantastic guest post written by author Rina Z. Neiman about how to make stories interactive. A must-read for all the writers out there!

http://jessicasreadingroom.com/

June 9th @ Jess Bookish Life

Need a new book in your life? Stop by Jess’ blog today where she shares her opinion about the historical fiction book Born Under Fire.

https://jessbookishlife.wordpress.com/

June 10th @ Beverley A. Baird’s Blog

Are you doing research for your novel? Make sure you visit Bev’s blog today where author Rina Z. Neiman is talking about top 5 ways to research secondary sources.

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

June 12th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Get to know author Rina Z. Neiman at today’s stop over at author Anthony Avina’s blog where he interviews the author.

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

June 14th @ Bookworm Blog

Visit Anjanette’s blog today and read a guest post by the author who talks about making your story interactive and why adding music is so effective.

https://bookworm66.wordpress.com/

Visit Wendi’s blog at Strength 4 Spouses where you can read Rina Z. Neiman’s guest post about the importance of writing during deployment.

June 15th @ Strength 4 Spouses

June 17th @ 12 Books

Visit Louise’s blog over at 12 Books and find out her thoughts about Rina Z. Neiman’s book Born Under Fire.

June 19th @ Inquiry and Beyond

Join Kathy on Instagram and on her blog PYP in Paradise as she reviews and features Rina Z. Neiman’s book Born Under Fire.

https://www.instagram.com/InquiryandBeyond/

http://pypinparadise.blogspot.com/

June 21st @ Choices Blog

Interviewing someone for your book? Make sure you visit Madeline Sharples’ blog today where Rina Z. Neiman talks about how to conduct interviews with people who are (and who are not) willing to talk with you.

http://madelinesharples.com/

June 23rd @ Strength 4 Spouses Blog

Need a new book? Make sure you stop by Wendi’s blog where she reviews Born Under Fire by Rina Z. Neiman.

For Blood Or Justice: Stormkind: Book One by Chuck Regan Review

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

Today I am honored to be joined by guest reviewer Aly Avina, who read and reviewed this amazing book and is here now to share her thoughts with you about the novel. Thank you to Aly for taking the time to give her thoughts on this book to us and to author Chuck Regan for sharing his novel with us all. I hope you all will enjoy. – Anthony Avina


The Synopsis

After a hundred years of heroes, gods, and monsters tearing the world apart, governments resort to extreme measures in attempts to regain control. The year is 1982. U.S. President

Kirkpatrick has instituted harsh penalties against unlicensed vigilantism while secretly funding a program to create an army of super-powered agents. After newly-registered hero Scamp is arrested for murder, he must choose to either reveal his true identity and become a slave to the state, or cling to the fleeting hope of redemption.

– – –

Just what is a “hero”? What qualifies someone to be considered a true hero—one moment’s action, or a lifetime’s pursuit of an ideal? A costumed disguise is, by nature, deception, and deceptiveness is by no stretch a heroic characteristic. But what if deception were necessary to safely and routinely perform acts of heroism? And when might heroic intentions become overpowered by self-serving actions? How might a set of rules meant to assure proper behavior for heroes become a means to hide corrupt intentions? When does blind vengeance serve justice? If there was a universal system for rating heroic intent, how would you or I measure?

FOR BLOOD OR JUSTICE is the first book in the STORMKIND series of novellas and short stories which will attempt to offer answers to these and other questions. Stormkind will delve

into the spiritual/karmic drive of heroism, including the impact of past lives on the present and an entirely new mythology of good and evil entities.

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The Review

Chuck Regan has created a vivid and dynamic world in his new superhero noir series, For Blood or Justice: Stormkind. The novella features a world filled with costumed vigilantes with amazing superpowers. This alternate universe begins almost 100 years ahead of the events that take place in Book One. In the 1890s, the Ghosa meteor crashed in the Indian Ocean, effectively filling the Earth with some unknown form of radiation.

By 1912, this caused pubescent children to be afflicted with a disease called The Wrack. This meant they either died, became some form of mutant, or were given super abilities. The latter group was a rare one to be in.

These superpowered individuals are known as Stormkind. So when we fast forward to the 1980s, we meet Dan Haeckel, who works at a comic book shop and has recently discovered he has powers. While Dan is eager to become a Stormkind, his friend Scott doesn’t make that entirely easy for him to stay on the straight and narrow.

One of the most incredible parts about reading this novella is immersing yourself in this fascinating world that Regan has created. Dan is relatable in his geeky nature while the

Stormkind world has aspects that is reminiscent of our own real world. The fact that there are registered and unregistered vigilantes made the story that much more exciting, as well.

I definitely enjoyed the addition of footnotes at the end of the chapters because it added more understanding to the world that Regan had created and allowed me to fully dive into this universe headfirst.

Bloodstock was a favorite character of mine with his unique powers and wonderful personality. This true crime detective struggled with his powers at times and had a depth to him that made him one of the most exciting characters to follow. Though, I do wish he had been in it more.

The final act was packed with plenty of action that will leave the readers shocked by the actions of the villains and what is taking place before them, but it is done wonderfully so.

The Verdict

For any superhero fan, this is one you won’t want to miss. It is a fresh take on the superhero genre with the added flair of noir in the mix. While it definitely could use more powerful female characters, this first installment was meant to be “the boy’s club” of superheroes. So you’ll definitely get your female heroes fix when Book Two comes out and they will approach things differently than the original heroes you met.

Book One questions what it means to be a hero and what justifies their non-heroic actions. This universe will suck you in and it’s heart-pounding action will keep you there. Be sure to get your copy of “For Blood or Justice: Stormkind: Book One” when it’s released June 1st, 2019!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Chuck Regan began his career writing and illustrating comic books. In 2013, he became a regular contributor to Zelmer Pulp, and has since published 25 short stories, and 3 novellas in the speculative fiction, horror, and noir genres.

Chuck continues to develop several novels, including a military space western about colonists on Mars, a Lovecraftian alternative history World War II, and a post-apocalyptic dark science fantasy based on his comic series Nether.

Links:

FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/Stormkind-2129740220599313/

http://www.chuckregan.com/stormkind/

http://www.chuckregan.com

About Guest Reviewer Aly Avina

Aly Avina is a Southern California-based freelance writer and blogger. She is always looking for her next great book to read. She also loves curling up with Netflix and her dog, Charlie.

https://www.instagram.com/alymarieavina/

https://www.thegamer.com/author/alyssa_avina/

https://screenrant.com/author/alyssa_avina/