Category Archives: Book Reviews

“The Kaleidoscope” Reader’s Favorite Review – Five Stars!

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Here’s a sneak peek at a 5 Star Review soon to be made public over at Reader’s Favorite!

Reviewed By K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite (link will be provided when the review is made public)

The Kaleidoscope is a work of suspense and intrigue by author BK Nault. Mixing genres between speculative and science fiction, the plot centers on the kaleidoscope of the book’s title, a powerful device which is able to produce life-altering visions of the future when any human being looks through it. Whilst the device itself seems to be an exciting new form of enlightenment, it is inevitable that there will be certain parties in the world who’d like to use it to achieve their own sinister ends. This is where our anti-hero, the hermit-like Harold Donaldson, realises that in order to save the human race, he might actually have to truly become part of it for the first time in his life.

Multi-genre fiction has always been a favourite of mine to review, and BK Nault did not disappoint me with this excellent feat of storytelling. Social ineptness, wariness about the future, and the most basic of human fears underlie every delicately crafted element of The Kaleidoscope’s plot, turning what could have been a rather interesting sci-fi story into a richly human and character-driven novel. Nault’s prose is full of vivid description and delightful wordplay, and her formation of an unlikely hero in Harold Donaldson is witty, bittersweet, and thoroughly endearing. I feel that even readers who dislike speculative fiction will be hard-pressed not to enjoy the realism and credibility of this tale. Overall, I’d highly recommend The Kaleidoscope to readers who are looking for a unique and highly accomplished new read.

 

The Union of the North and the South – guest author, Ann Mock

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Today I’m pleased to welcome fellow Reader’s Favorite author, Ann Mock, who has penned a charming story set in post-Civil War days. I hope you enjoy meeting her, and reading an excerpt from this book that’s receiving well-deserved praise.

Now in audible!

The Union of the North and the South, by Ann Mock, now available from audible.com

Filled with romance and rich setting details, this Reader’s Favorite Five Star reviewed novel, The Union of the North and the South, takes place in the south in the 1870s during the tumultuous years following the War Between the States. Meet Laura Malcolm, forced to draw upon the strength5star-shiny-web and resilience symbolized by the oak trees surrounding her ancestral home nestled against the Mississippi. Overcoming great personal tragedy, she must keep a secret that, if revealed, will cause great heartache. Will Laura’s enemies become her friends even as she confronts her own past? Will she find the strength to forgive and love again?


 

IMG_4133Author Ann Mock lives in Florida with her husband Dave and her faithful companion, Happy. She enjoys ballroom dancing, and cruising on oceans and rivers in both Europe and the United States. Some of her favorite trips were on Mississippi steamboats that visited many of the areas mentioned in this book.


An excerpt from The Union of the North and the South

One day Laura told her mother, “I’m going to talk to Pastor Jenkins. I won’t be long.” She mounted a horse and waved at Jenny, who was in the corral training Scamp. Laura rode through a shaded lane toward the chapel. The day was cool and pleasant during her short ride. Along the way she thought about what was troubling her and how the pastor might help her. When she arrived, she knocked on the door of the chapel. Pastor Jenkins stood aside and motioned her inside. She followed him into his small office and sat in a chair opposite him. His jovial smile helped her relax as she quickly came to the point of her visit.

“I know you know so much about me and can appreciate how hard it has been since Gerald’s death. I want to be able to forgive his family for all they’ve done to me, but I find it so hard to do so. For a long time, I’ve been so busy that I haven’t thought about my anger and hurt. Now that I’m back at Oak Grove, I’ve had a lot of time to think, which seems to only make matters worse.”

Pastor Jenkins paused before saying, “To be able to forgive doesn’t come easy to any of us, especially when we’ve been wronged as you have. Let me share one of my favorite biblical passages on forgiveness.” He then read from Colossians 3:13: “‘Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.’”

The pastor advised, “You must change your heart, Laura. When you let go of anger and bitterness, it will free you. Forgiveness takes time. The process is very slow, but the reward will be a freedom that can come only from the Lord.”

A small ray of light came though the window of Pastor Jenkins’s office, as if to show God’s endorsement of the pastor’s wisdom. Laura looked pleased. She knew now what she must do. It would take time and would be hard, but she wanted to be free—free from her anger over all her losses, including those regarding Bradford.

Before Laura reached the corner of the churchyard, Pastor Jenkins called her name. After she walked back to the church, he asked, “If you have some extra time on your hands, would you be interested in helping some of the adults in the community learn to read? The teacher we have is presently sick with pneumonia. Reading opens a whole world to people, and I think this would help keep your mind busy. Helping others is rewarding and often helps the giver as much as the person receiving the help.”

Laura paused. Then her face lit up. “That’s something I can do to help. How many will be coming to the class?”

“Right now we just have a few. Lily is coming from Oak Grove regularly and has made good progress. We’re hoping more will join them.”

Laura thanked Pastor Jenkins as she walked toward her horse. She already felt her burden lighten as she thought about what she needed to accomplish. Each day she would pray that she could learn to forgive. By doing so she would be obeying the wishes of the Lord and, hopefully, would find the true happiness Bradford’s mother had written about in her Bible.

The next evening Laura walked to the church with Lily to meet the adults attending the reading class. Laura found it was great fun to teach such eager students.

When the regular teacher recovered from her pneumonia, Laura became her assistant. Once, when she was leaving to go to the class, Bradford asked her, “Where are you going?”

Laura’s eyes lit up as she explained, “I’m teaching a class of adults how to read. It’s so rewarding. They’re learning quickly. I hope it’s okay that I’m using some of your books from the library. I haven’t seen you, or I would have asked earlier.”

Bradford hadn’t realized she was doing this, since he had been trying to avoid her in order to keep his promise not to bother her anymore. “I’m so glad you found something so fulfilling to do with your time. I have no problem with your using the books. I’m very proud of you!”

Laura was pleased with his praise and smiled brightly at him. It was becoming easier and easier to forgive him after all he had done to help her and her family. Now she just needed to learn to forgive Gerald’s parents, and her prayers would be answered.


If you enjoy Ann’s, or any author’s books, please consider leaving a kind review at your favorite book selling site so that others will know. Reviews are the new word-of-mouth recommendation, and encourage us to keep banging away writing more stories for your enjoyment.

Thanks for stopping by!

Bev Out.

Why so many covers, Bev?

FSS 2015 cover

or…do people judge books by their covers?

People are asking, so here’s what’s been going on.

When FRESH START SUMMER first released with a medium-sized publisher a few years ago, the cover was chosen for me. Here it is:

Fresh Start Summer2-1-1I started getting feedback right away, and most of the comments were that it was “cheerful” and “light” but then people started asked how sales of my “children’s books” were doing. Ugh.

And then book two, Grace & Maggie Across the Pond had the same “feel.”

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The publisher found some stock art and added lovely graphics, the layout was beautiful, I can’t complain. But the covers weren’t telling readers what was inside. (Rainbows and unicorns?)

They used to say “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but with the evolution of digital media and all the screens we use to shop and sell with, the cover art on books has become one of the most important parts of reaching readers and quickly conveying what’s inside. Cover artists realize cozy mystery readers expect colorful graphic animation art, and a romance reader looks for six packs (not of beer). Ahem…

So when the rights reverted to me, I wanted to recover the Cherryvale books so their true interior style was obvious from the outside. I didn’t have a big budget or a lot of time, so I used my own photography and a template on Amazon’s createspace. Here’s what that one looked like. A little closer to the feel l wanted:

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When Fresh Start Summer won an award recently I realized I HAD to redesign the book to give it the respect it deserved. And with two weddings and a major household move behind me, I finally had some time. So far, I’ve recovered all the Seasons books, beginning with the Kindle versions.

Here is how Fresh Start Summer looks now. I used the picket fence shot again, but now I think the graphics and Grace’s pink cruiser evoke cozy small town fiction even better. What do you think?

FSS 2015 cover

It may take some time for Amazon’s pages to reflect the new covers, but I hope the new covers help the stories find readers who enjoy them.

What do you think of covers? What do you look for?

Thanks for stopping by! Bev out.

Free Fall to Faith, a devotional

Free Fall

On May 16, 2012, an inebriated Benjamin Ramsey drove his motorcycle into the back of an 18-wheeler at an estimated 100 miles per hour. The impact left the twenty-three-year-old with broken bones, traumatic brain injury, and coma. The crash was only the latest, but by far the most extreme, incident in the life of the strong-willed young man who had grown up challenging his parents, friends, teachers, and law enforcement.

Forced to deal with the latest in Ben’s crises headlong, his mother, Dr. Karla Ramsey, a practicing pediatrician, once again drew upon the strength of her Savior, Jesus Christ, as she negotiated the familiar halls of trauma centers, surgical wards, therapy decisions, and rehabilitation challenges that became the new normal for the after-care following Ben’s crash.

Drawing from her years of experience as a physician as well as her basic training raising a headstrong child, Dr. Karla began writing down her thoughts and emotions as she devoured scripture, sank to her knees in prayer, and held her family, her practice, and Ben’s therapies together through the rockiest days of her life.

Karla and Ben

Ben and his mom share a carefree moment Dr. Karla thought might never happen during many of the tough days of his recovery.

In every entry in the 21-day devotional, Dr. Karla reflects on her journey alongside Ben  with transparent honesty as she searches for peace and answers found only in Jesus’ promises.

Written for anyone facing life-altering events, or wondering where God is in tragedy, Free Fall to Faith gives hope, scriptural encouragement, and a daily retreat into God’s tender mercies. Dr. Karla invites you to fall into God’s loving arms along with her as she still does repeatedly, drawing on Him for strength and peace knowing He is in charge, even when life seems out of control.

Available in paperback and Kindle.

Dr. Karla Ramsey is a board certified practicing pediatrician in Cypress, Texas. Her devotion to Bible study has become her lifeline, and the foundation for her personal and professional life. She has been married to Dr. Jim Ramsey, a Houston dentist, for 35 years. Besides Ben, the Ramseys have three other children, as well as an assortment of grandchildren and dogs. Find out more about Ben’s journey at www.steppingstonesfortbi.blogspot.com

Ben and Karla dancing

With an aide’s help, Ben dances with his mom just months after the crash.

 

 

Award season, and we have news!

RF Green-Hon MentionFresh Start Summer cover

 

 

It’s red carpet season for books, and I’m thrilled and honored that FRESH START SUMMER received an award from Reader’s Favorite, a juried, peer reviewed contest that considers hundreds of published and pre-published books.

ALSO!! SPRING BLOSSOMS is a finalist in the AUTHORSdb cover contest that will be announced in a few weeks. The original artwork was done by my amazingling talented friend, Carol Field. She really captured the charm and flavor of Main Street Cherryvale. Congratulations, Carol!

Spring Blossms Cover - Version 4

 

Spring Blossoms

Horse stories for a good cause? Yes, please!

Today I’m thrilled to host my friend and fellow author, Candace Carrabus, and tell you about how buying her books will help a nonprofit animal rescue facility.

Candace I met through a mutual horse-loving friend-hi Pam! and were amazed at how many things we have in common. Both Candace and I trained in the British Horse Society certificate program-different stables, different times, and we’ve both lived on Long Island, and of course we share a love for writing, and horses. (Oh, and we even drive the same kind of car!) All my books end up having horses in them, and so do Candace’s. And we both care about helping out animals in need. More about that in a moment.

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Click through to see The Raver trailer (you will be taken to Youtube.

Here she is to explain how she writes, why horses are so compelling to us all, and what you will find in her great books.

Hi Candace!

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Candace and Remi

Hi, Bev, thanks for having me!

What is it about horses? From the avid rider to the long-distance admirer, everyone agrees their beauty, power, and grace stirs deep emotions.

Author Jane Smiley said, “I discovered that the horse is life itself, a metaphor but also an example of life’s mystery and unpredictability, of life’s generosity and beauty, a worthy object of repeated and ever changing contemplation.”

Ah, that explains it! And in literary terms no less. All I know is I love them and can’t live without them. They have made me who I am, and who I am is way better than who I would have been if horses hadn’t helped raise me and continue to mentor me. I’m a lifelong horsewoman and author. I haven’t been writing as long as I’ve loved horses—mainly because I couldn’t connect pencil to paper soon enough—but I’m not sure I can live without that, either. Now, come ride with me, which is where I do a lot of my story development.

horses grazing

W.C. Fields famously said, “Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people.”

Images, characters, and snippets of conversation flow naturally during long trail rides. On the undulating back of a horse you can be anyone, you can go anywhere, you can fly. Imagination awakens, stretches, and flexes its muscles. When I started pulling ideas out of my head and writing them down—at around age 12—horses were as inextricably entwined in my stories as they are with my heart. Writing romantic adventures centered around horses is still rewarding. The seed that grew into Raver began in a dream of a trail ride on my old thoroughbred, Smirnoff. Raver tells the story of Lauren Gallagher, a woman who longs to simply be left alone with her horses.

When a strange man arrives at the stable seeking a particular rider, Lauren and her mount, Pindar, find themselves transported through the Ravery to Cirq, a dying land bereft of its beloved steeds. In Cirq, Lauren is proclaimed the long-awaited Horsecaller and she’s expected to find the lost horses and return Cirq to greatness. No pressure.

buy a book, save a horse

Click here to go to the fundraiser FB page

So it is with great joy that I am able to further connect my two passions with the Buy a Book—Help a Horse fundraiser for Amaryllis Farm Equine Rescue and Horse Sanctuary. This non-profit sanctuary’s owner, Christine Barrett-Distefano, works tirelessly on behalf of horses, mules, and ponies as well as some chickens, ducks, goats—you name it—who are no longer wanted by their owners. Owners who often promised to love them forever. Circumstances change, children grow up, horses get old and lame and are too often discarded as easily as yesterday’s newspaper.

Amaryllis rescue farm

Some of Amaryllis’ success stories.

Sometimes, people like Christine are all that stand between a once beloved horse and the misery of neglect and even slaughter. All too often this is also the fate of successful racehorses.

How you can help.

When you buy one—or all three!—of my books between August 25th and September 8th, I will donate all my author royalties to Amaryllis Farm. You can get them in print from Amazon or Barnes & Noble and for Kindle, Nook, or Kobo.

And, as if that weren’t good enough, you can also enter a contest on Facebook for giveaways such as

• A $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card

• A fabulous hand-crafted horse hoof necklace

• Gumy ear buds

• Horsehair bracelet

• Tablet pillow sleeve

• Pony Pizza Company’s pizza-shaped horse treats www.facebook.com/promotion… Winners will be announced September 9th. The horses thank you! See ya on the trails!

Links & Credits

www.amaryllisfarm.com

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCandaceCarrabus

www.candacecarrabus.com

Buy a Book—Help a Horse photo by Streetsidephoto@gmail.com

Horses Grazing photo by Cynthia Roysden Photography

Next time we’ll tell you about Candace’s next title, On the Buckle, another horse story. The world can never have too many of those, right? And to help out an author, if you enjoy our books, please leave a fair and kind review on any site like Amazon, Goodreads or Barnes and Noble, they really do help spread the word.

Bev out!

 

A Farm Fresh Romance – fun new series breaks ground

Since we’re all about fresh starts here, when I saw this unique series, I knew I had to invite the author, Valerie Comer, and find out more.

Raspberries and Vinegar V-cover

FARM FRESH ROMANCE  – This unique farm lit series follows the adventures, romantic and otherwise, of three college graduates who move onto a reclaimed farm where they plan to take the rural area by storm with their sustainable lifestyle and focus on local foods. 

The debut title:

RASPBERRIES AND VINEGAR

Breaking ground with the Farm Fresh Romance series, RASPBERRIES AND VINEGAR finds Josephine Shaw and her friends renovating a dilapidated farm with their sights set on more than just their own property. Transforming the town with their sustainable lifestyle and focus on local foods is met with more resistance than they expected, especially by temporary neighbor, Zachary Nemesek. Jo needs to learn that a little sweet makes the tart more tasty.

 

Putting the “Fresh” in Fresh Start

Have you noticed—or maybe been a part of—the resurging interest in fresh food? Buying from farmers’ markets or direct from the farm is a growing trend. The number of North Americans planting a vegetable garden and cooking with fresh herbs is growing. Real food. Local food. Organic food. Seasonal food. Fresh food. All these are buzzwords in today’s foodie culture. The popularity of fast food chains and prepackaged mixes seems to be waning as we rediscover our taste buds—as well as our health and our consciences! Back in the 1970s there was a “back to the land movement,” strolling along hand-in-hand with hippies and peace freaks. Disenchanted folks flocked to log cabins in the hills and tried their hand at pottery. They made a fresh start, all right, but lots of them gave it up and returned to urban corporate life.

Making a living off the land isn’t that easy. It wasn’t then, and it isn’t now. Don’t tell that to the characters in my new novel, Raspberries and Vinegar. Josephine Shaw and her two best friends are renovating a dilapidated farm with their sights set on more than just their own property. Transforming the town with their sustainable lifestyle and focus on local foods is met with more resistance than they expected, especially by temporary neighbor, Zachary Nemesek. Jo needs to learn that a little sweet makes the tart more tasty. Jo, Claire, and Sierra are determined, though. Even a trailer full of mice isn’t enough to deter them, though it comes close.

Raspberries and Vinegar is the first in my new Farm Fresh Romance series, called Farm Lit with sweet simplicity and a bit of zing. Sound interesting? You’re in luck! From August 6-9, anyone who orders a paperback copy of Raspberries and Vinegar can receive the digital versions as a thank you gift. We’re also offering a bunch of other fun downloads: digital art, a podcast with interviews about the intersection of food and faith, a video of me making Raspberry Vinegar, and more.

2-book blitz graphic-4What do I know about a fresh start? God’s been preparing me for this leap into Farm Lit for years. Both my mom and my mother-in-law were country women who gardened, cooked from scratch, and preserved food for long, cold Canadian winters. Being as Jim and I didn’t have a lot of money in our early years, following the traditions we already knew was helpful in feeding healthy fare to our little family. We bought the family farm in 2000 and are actively farming, gardening, and beekeeping, plus staying involved in our local food action coalition and farmers’ market. Watching our adult kids and their spouses examine food issues has been fun to see. Our son moved his little family back to the farm, where they live across the yard from us. (Yay! I get to see my 1-year-old granddaughter every day.) Our daughter loves to cook and experiment. Her little girls love food, are learning where it comes from, and enjoy watching the piggies and chickens when they visit the farm. It’s my kids’ generation I’m writing for. Many college students and 20-30-somethings are unsatisfied with urban options, feeling disconnected from humanity’s roots. Many seek a way to get their hands in the dirt, but the price of land has skyrocketed since the 70s. It’s tough to buy a farm and, if you should be so lucky, it’s even harder to make a go of it. We work off the farm as well as on it in order to sustain our lifestyle. What kind of fresh start are you yearning for? Are you taking steps to make it a reality? Life is too short to sit back. Ask God what He wants for you then reach out and grab hold of His promises. Go get it!

Valerie-Comer-sqValerie Comer’s life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local foods movement as well as their creation-care-centric church. She only hopes her characters enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.

Valerie writes Farm Lit with the voice of experience laced with humor. Raspberries and Vinegar, first in her series A Farm Fresh Romance, released August 1, 2013. Visit her at these social sites.

  • Website: http://valeriecomer.com
  • Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/valeriecomer.author
  • Twitter: http://twitter.com/valeriecomer http://twitter.com/towritestory
  • Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/valeriecomer
  • Blog: http://valeriecomer.com/blog
  • Writing Blog & Free eCourse: http://towriteastory.com
  • What is FarmLit?

A little about Choose Now publishing

Choose NOW Ministries, founded by Nicole O’Dellis dedicated to working with parents and teens to battle peer pressure, face the Hot Button issues, and commit to good choices.

Today’s choices have lasting impact on your tomorrows.

I’m grabbing my copy and a glass of iced tea, see you on the porch swing.

Bev out!

 

Get your lanyards ready, rediscovering summer camp with my guest T. Greenwood

Today I’m thrilled to host Tammy Greenwood, author of so many titles it’s hard to list them all here, but I highly recommend you check them out. Tammy’s also a writing teacher and editor, and has been helping me with my latest WIP, THE KALEIDOSCOPE, so if you’re an author, I suggest you find out more about her uber helpful editing services and classes as well. Her lengthy summaries of good and >cough< not so good parts of my submission to her are keeping me busy making changes, and I know will make the book SO much better. I’ve posted her bio, photo and links at the bottom of this post. She’s graciously allowed me to repost her list of some books I’ve already added to my list of TBR’s, let us know if you find one you’d like to read, or want to, or perhaps another you’d recommend.

Here’s Tammy!

(Originally posted on May 26th, 2013 on Tammy’s blog.)

It’s Memorial Day weekend, which even here in sunny southern California, signals the advent of summer. And so I begin compiling my list of summer reads. And what better books to complement the season than novels set at summer camps?
Here are some I can’t wait to read and re-read (blurbs are from goodreads.com):

The Last Summer of the Camperdowns“The Last Summer of the Camperdowns, from the best-selling author of Apologize, Apologize!, introduces Riddle James Camperdown, the twelve-year-old daughter of the idealistic Camp and his manicured, razor-sharp wife, Greer. It’s 1972, and Riddle’s father is running for office from the family compound in Wellfleet, Massachusetts. Between Camp’s desire to toughen her up and Greer’s demand for glamour, Riddle has her hands full juggling her eccentric parents. When she accidentally witnesses a crime close to home, her confusion and fear keep her silent. As the summer unfolds, the consequences of her silence multiply. Another mysterious and powerful family, the Devlins, slowly emerges as the keepers of astonishing secrets that could shatter the Camperdowns. As an old love triangle, bitter war wounds, and the struggle for status spiral out of control, Riddle can only watch, hoping for the courage to reveal the truth. The Last Summer of the Camperdowns is poised to become the summer’s uproarious and dramatic must-read.”

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls: A Novel“It is 1930, the midst of the Great Depression. After her mysterious role in a family tragedy, passionate, strong-willed Thea Atwell, age fifteen, has been cast out of her Florida home, exiled to an equestrienne boarding school for Southern debutantes. High in the Blue Ridge Mountains, with its complex social strata ordered by money, beauty, and girls’ friendships, the Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is a far remove from the free-roaming, dreamlike childhood Thea shared with her twin brother on their family’s citrus farm—a world now partially shattered. As Thea grapples with her responsibility for the events of the past year that led her here, she finds herself enmeshed in a new order, one that will change her sense of what is possible for herself, her family, her country.

Weaving provocatively between home and school, the narrative powerfully unfurls the true story behind Thea’s expulsion from her family, but it isn’t long before the mystery of her past is rivaled by the question of how it will shape her future. Part scandalous love story, part heartbreaking family drama, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is an immersive, transporting page-turner—a vivid, propulsive novel about sex, love, family, money, class, home, and horses, all set against the ominous threat of the Depression—and the major debut of an important new writer.”

The Inverted Forest
“Late on a warm summer night in rural Missouri, an elderly camp director hears a squeal of joyous female laughter and goes to investigate. At the camp swimming pool he comes upon a bewildering scene: his counselors stripped naked and engaged in a provocative celebration. The first camp session is set to start in just two days. He fires them all. As a result, new counselors must be quickly hired and brought to the Kindermann Forest Summer Camp.

One of them is Wyatt Huddy, a genetically disfigured young man who has been living in a Salvation Army facility. Gentle and diligent, large and imposing, Wyatt suffers a deep anxiety that his intelligence might be subnormal. All his life he’s been misjudged because of his irregular features. But while Wyatt is not worldly, he is also not an innocent. He has escaped a punishing home life with a reclusive and violent older sister.

Along with the other new counselors, Wyatt arrives expecting to care for children. To their astonishment, they learn that for the first two weeks of the camping season they will be responsible for 104 severely developmentally disabled adults, all of them wards of the state. For Wyatt it is a dilemma that turns his world inside out. Physically, he is indistinguishable from the state hospital campers he cares for. Inwardly, he would like to believe he is not of their tribe. Fortunately for Wyatt, there is a young woman on staff who understands his predicament better than he might have hoped.

At once the new counselors and disabled campers begin to reveal themselves. Most are well-intentioned; others unprepared. Some harbor dangerous inclinations. Among the campers is a perplexing array of ailments and appearances and behavior both tender and disturbing. To encounter them is to be reminded just how wide the possibilities are when one is describing human beings.

Soon Wyatt is called upon to prevent a terrible tragedy. In doing so, he commits an act whose repercussions will alter his own life and the lives of the other Kindermann Forest staff members for years to come.

Written with scrupulous fidelity to the strong passions running beneath the surface of camp life, The Inverted Forest is filled with yearning, desire, lust, banked hope, and unexpected devotion. This remarkable and audacious novel amply underscores Heaven Lake’s wide acclaim and confirms John Dalton’s rising prominence as a major American novelist.”

Shelter: A Novel

“In a West Virginia forest in 1963, a group of children at summer camp enter a foreboding Eden and experience an unexpected rite of passage. Shelter is an astonishing portrayal of an American loss of innocence as witnessed by a mysterious drifter named Parson, two young sisters, Lenny and Alma, and a feral boy called Buddy. Together they come to understand bravery and the importance of compassion.
Phillips unearths a dangerous beauty in this primeval terrain and in the hearts of her characters. Lies, secrets, erotic initiations, and the bonds of love between friends, families, and generations are transformed in a leafy wilderness undiminished by societal rules and dilemmas. Cast in Phillips’ stunning prose, with an unpredictable cast of characters and a shadowy, suspenseful narrative, Shelter is a an enduring achievement from one of the finest writers of our time.”
The Interestings“The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed. In The Interestings, Wolitzer follows these characters from the height of youth through middle age, as their talents, fortunes, and degrees of satisfaction diverge.The kind of creativity that is rewarded at age fifteen is not always enough to propel someone through life at age thirty; not everyone can sustain, in adulthood, what seemed so special in adolescence. Jules Jacobson, an aspiring comic actress, eventually resigns herself to a more practical occupation and lifestyle. Her friend Jonah, a gifted musician, stops playing the guitar and becomes an engineer. But Ethan and Ash, Jules’s now-married best friends, become shockingly successful—true to their initial artistic dreams, with the wealth and access that allow those dreams to keep expanding. The friendships endure and even prosper, but also underscore the differences in their fates, in what their talents have become and the shapes their lives have taken.Wide in scope, ambitious, and populated by complex characters who come together and apart in a changing New York City, The Interestings explores the meaning of talent; the nature of envy; the roles of class, art, money, and power; and how all of it can shift and tilt precipitously over the course of a friendship and a life.”Camp“Every secret has a price.For most girls, sleepaway camp is great fun. But for Amy Becker, it’s a nightmare. Amy, whose home life is in turmoil, is sent to Camp Takawanda for Girls for the first time as a teenager. Although Amy swears she hates her German-immigrant mother, who is unduly harsh with Amy’s autistic younger brother, Amy is less than thrilled about going to camp. At Takawanda she is subjected to a humiliating “initiation” and relentless bullying by the ringleader of the senior campers. As she struggles to stop the mean girls from tormenting her, Amy becomes more confident. Then a cousin reveals dark secrets about Amy’s mother’s past, which sets in motion a tragic event that changes Amy and her family forever. Camp is a compelling coming-of-age novel about bullying, mothers and daughters, and the collateral damage of family secrets. It will resonate with a wide teenage readership. Camp will be a strong addition to school recommended reading and summer reading lists, and it is appropriate for anti-bullying programs. Mostly, though, Camp is a mother-daughter story for mothers and daughters to share.”
T Greenwood
About my guest:
T. Greenwood is the author of seven novels. She has received grants from the Sherwood Anderson Foundation, the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and, most recently, the Maryland State Arts Council. TWO RIVERS was named Best General Fiction Book at the San Diego Book Awards in 2009. Five of her novels have been BookSense76/IndieBound picks; THIS GLITTERING WORLD was a January 2011 selection, and GRACE is an April 2012 selection. Her eighth novel, BODIES OF WATER, will be released this fall.

She teaches creative writing at for San Diego Writer’s, Ink. She and her husband, Patrick, live in San Diego, CA with their two daughters. She is also an aspiring photographer.

More information on T. Greenwood can be found at her website: http://www.tgreenwood.com and her blogs: http://www.mermama.blogspot.com andhttp://www.ephemerafiles.blogspot.com

 

 

Overwhelmed? Here’s Permission to Take Better Care of Yourself

It’s nearly spring,  and as you know, here at FRESH START STORIES, we’re all about Bluebonnetsmaking positive changes, so when I saw Lucille Zimmerman’s new book, RENEWED: FINDING YOUR INNER HAPPY IN AN OVERWHELMED WORLD, I wanted to invite Lucille to share what inspired her to write, and what’s in this wonderful book for all of us.

I recommend this book for you if:

A. You struggle with understanding why you can’t keep and find joy or happiness, or  know someone like that.

B. Are a writer interested in finding out what motivates characters. And for terrific insight into what happens in a counseling session.

C. You enjoy an intelligent, thoughtful and well-written book that explores the human mind.

So, basically, everyone should read it!

by Lucille Zimmerman

First, a little about RENEWED.

Women increasingly find themselves pulled in many directions, striving to balance the needs of others with the need to nurture themselves. RENEWED helps women understand the need to put themselves on “the list.” Through practical ideas and relatable anecdotes, readers can better understand their strengths and their passions—and address some of the underlying struggles or hurts that make them want to keep busy or minister to others to the detriment of themselves. 

This is not another fluffy book that promises help and then lets you down. It includes anecdotes and research—within a Christian perspective—so that hurting people can find their way to sound mental health and happiness.

FSS: What motivated you to write RENEWED?

Lucille:  This book was mostly about wanting to pass on what helps people heal. I was in such a painful place for so long and realized there are radical things people can do to make the pain heal. I really do hope it helps.

FSS: Why should women read this, aren’t we already quite busy?

Lucille: Christian women yearn to give themselves permission to step off the treadmill, to take time to do the things that give them passion, and to nurture themselves. But many Christian women feel guilty doing anything that might look selfish and self-indulgent. My book provides clinical research, story, and encouragement for women to put themselves on the list.

FSS: It sounds like you went on a personal journey to write this book.

Lucille: My graduate program was intense with academic and self-reflective aspects. That time of learning psychology, and examining my life history, was the best but most painful time of my life. When I found relief for my shame, depression, and anxiety, so readily, I became angry that I had been stuck for a dozen years. I was frustrated that I had tried to find my emotional healing in scores of Bible studies.

Please hear me: I am grateful for every one of those studies and for the Godly people who surrounded me. I just wished I had known about the psychological tools and the safe people that would bring me swiftly into a place where anxiety, depression, and shame loosened their grip.

During and after that intense time, I holed away in my basement office and wrote. I wrote about everything that hurt and I wrote about everything that helped. I researched, read, and counseled others.

I spent years attending writing conferences. I found an agent then switched to another agent. I wrote queries and proposals. When the first idea didn’t sell, I re-worked it using much of the same material. Finally, the project was sold to a publisher. That was 18 months ago.

Editors, agents, copy-editors, friends, authors, and counselors helped me chisel and refine the book. The seed of the book has been growing for six to eight years. Finally, it is blooming!

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I am so proud of this project. It is not another fluffy book that promises help and then lets you down. It includes anecdotes and research—within a Christian perspective—so that hurting people can find their way to sound mental health and happiness.

FSS: Thanks, Lucille, it’s been a real pleasure having you here. I’m going to read and re-read, and buy copies for my friends. God’s blessings on your ministry!

Lucille: Thanks for having me, and please find me at www.lucillezimmerman.com and Twitter @lucilleZ and on Facebook

About Lucille:

Lucille Zimmerman

Lucille Zimmerman is a counselor, professor, author, and blogger. Two events changed her life: the Columbine High School shooting in her hometown of Littleton, Colorado, and visiting firefighters and police officers with the Billy Graham Prayer Center at Ground Zero shortly after the 9/11 attacks. She was a stay-at-home mom but had a passion for people who are suffering, especially those experiencing trauma. She went back to graduate school and started a private practice. RENEWED is her first book.

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Quotes I highlighted (from Kindle version)

“When people blow up or overreact, it usually isn’t about what we did wrong but about how much those people are hurting or how affected they are by their own emotional histories. The more we are able to back off and see a bigger picture, the more we stop allowing others to direct our lives.” (location 224)

“As people grow and heal, they learn to recognize when they are being triggered, and they learn to ask for motherly, fatherly, or friendly bits of love from others.” (location 255)

I’m sure you’ll find many gems as well.

Peace out!

Weaving Faith and Fiction with a Fresh Twist

Last year, Waterbrook Press released the first book in The Cadence of Grace, a series of historical fiction stories set in Appalachia. Reminiscent of the “Christy” series, yet with a fresh voice and compelling characters, “Be Still My Soul” has become one of the hottest selling, highly reviewed Christian novels.

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2013 Christy Nominee!

While considered romance, Joanne’s stories are not cookie cutter, never cliche. The characters are flawed, the settings are real and thoroughly researched to transport you immediately to walk alongside them.

Joanne’s taken risks in creating plots that at once surprise, and then keep you up late turning the pages well into the night.

All reasons to read, but if that’s not enough, Joanne’s faith elements add a dimension that bless and inspire you well after you’ve finished. All these are reasons why I predict that these stories are well on their way to becoming one of the most highly regarded, even classics, in Christian fiction.

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Here’s a podcast of Joanne explaining how she weaves elements of faith and scripture into the lives and settings of her stories.

Click on this link to listen as Joanne Bischof discusses “Though My Heart is Torn”

In the meantime, if you haven’t yet read Be Still My Soul, yet, hurry and do so and you will be ready for the next book in this incredible series. You’ll thank me!

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Married to her first sweetheart, Joanne lives in the mountains of Southern California where she keeps busy making messes with their home schooled children. When she’s not Joanneweaving Appalachian romance, she’s blogging about faith, writing, and the adventures of country living that bring her stories to life. Visit Joanne at her website, Heartfelt Fiction, and tell her Bev sent you!