Saturday, April 30, 2011

Book Review: Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil by Jerome Charyn

Just as he did with his book on Emily Dickinson, Jerome Charyn draws the reader in with an engaging story of another American great in Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil.

If this were merely a book about baseball, I might not have read it. I enjoy baseball, but the times in which DiMaggio became a legend were before me. Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, and DiMaggio were all just names I heard from time to time as I sat watching the New York Yankees and my Red Sox during the 70's and 80's. They weren't real to me like Jim Rice, whose autographed picture hung in my room. I didn't have the memories of those greats clear in my mind, like I still recall the games where pitchers opted to walk Reggie Jackson than risk his bat connecting with the ball.

In Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil, Charyn provides the reader with a candid, yet sympathetic, view of one of baseball's greats. It is the focus on the man on the field and outside of the ballpark that made this such a spectacular read for me.

In his touching Preface, Charyn remembers growing up in the Bronx, scraping by, but always finding a way to make enough to get through the turnstiles at Yankee Stadium; a need that increased as DiMaggio shot to fame.

DiMaggio is portrayed as a complex, intense man, unable to feel comfortable in his own skin unless he was in center field. Off the field he was shy and barely spoke. His list of famous friends seems endless, yet we are left wondering how well they really knew him. Perhaps the only one who truly knew the real Joe was Marilyn Monroe. Their short-lived marriage captivated the world then, and as Charyn's book exemplifies, their tumultuous, tragic love story still nags at us. Could he have saved her? Could she have saved him?

Joe DiMaggio lived in a world of baseball that no longer exists, as Charyn so poignantly indicates.  As the official Joe DiMaggio website says at the end of his life story, "He is the symbol of another era, of another breed of athlete and star."

I highly recommend Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil by Jerome Charyn. Whether you love baseball legends or are looking for a well-written book that moves along at a perfect pace, you'll find it in the pages of Charyn's latest release.

Title:  Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil
Author:  Jerome Charyn
Publisher:  Yale University Press
ISBN-10: 9780300123289
ISBN-13: 978-0300123289
SRP:  $24.00 (hardcover)

Also available in a Kindle edition and at Barnes and Noble.

Blog Tour web site:

Jerome Charyn's web site:

Jerome Charyn's Facebook:!/jerome.charyn

Jerome Charyn's Twitter:

Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil Facebook:!/pages/Joe-DiMaggio-The-Long-Vigil/173247736020293

Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil Twitter:

Yale University Press web site:

Jerome Charyn (born May 13, 1937) is an award-winning American author. With nearly 50 published works, Charyn has earned a long-standing reputation as an inventive and prolific chronicler of real and imagined American life. Michael Chabon calls him “one of the most important writers in American literature.”

New York Newsday hailed Charyn as “a contemporary American Balzac,” and the Los Angeles Times described him as “absolutely unique among American writers.”

Since the 1964 release of Charyn’s first novel, Once Upon a Droshky, he has published 30 novels, three memoirs, eight graphic novels, two books about film, short stories, plays and works of non-fiction. Two of his memoirs were named New York Times Book of the Year. Charyn has been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. He received the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has been named Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture.

Charyn was Distinguished Professor of Film Studies at the American University of Paris until he left teaching in 2009.

In addition to his writing and teaching, Charyn is a tournament table tennis player, once ranked in the top 10 percent of players in France. Noted novelist Don DeLillo called Charyn’s book on table tennis, Sizzling Chops & Devilish Spins, "The Sun Also Rises of ping-pong."

Charyn lives in Paris and New York City.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Interview: Chelle Cordero, Author of Hyphema

Joining us today is Chelle Cordero.  She is the author of Bartlett's Rule, Forgotten, His Lucky Charm, and other books. Her latest release is Hyphema.

Welcome to The Book Connection, Chelle. Let's start by talking about where you grew up.

I like to tell folks that I grew up in the only NYC borough that begins with a “D” – da Bronx. We lived in a nice 3rd floor walk-up facing a city park. It was a great place to stare out of the window and daydream.

What is your fondest childhood memory?

I had a very happy childhood with a lot of fond memories. But one memory does stick out… my dad was really just a big kid, when my sister and I used to watch TV with him, we all dressed up like the characters from the show. LOL, cowboy hats for Gunsmoke, army helmets for Combat, and police badges for the cop shows – this was terrific for my already overactive imagination.

When did you begin writing?

As a kid, I was always writing stories – tried to write a TV script starring an actor I had a crush on! In high school I took a creative writing class with instructor and poet Daisy Aldan. She was wonderfully encouraging. In college I wrote for my school’s newspaper and helped write news stories for the college radio station. I had my first professionally published piece, a newspaper article, in a local weekly paper when I was 19. After that it was really just a hobby until I was pregnant with my daughter (1981) when I decided to work at creating a home business. But it wasn’t until the mid 90’s when I pursued my dream of fiction writing. I am pleased to say I finally “grew up to be a novelist”!

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

While I try to write my fiction whenever I can find a chance, I am most productive during the late night hours when the rest of the world sleeps. As a full time freelance writer, I do spend much of my day writing to meet newspaper deadlines.

What is this book about?

Matt Garratti was a NYS paramedic (readers first met him in my novel Final Sin). He is married now with a son and has moved to North Carolina to work at his dream job as a flight medic. His wife, Sudah was born in Pakistan, is a practicing Muslim, and is not yet an American citizen (although she is working towards becoming one). As a family they meet up with prejudice and suspicion and when apparent threats are made against his family, the local police are quick to write things off as local reaction to a Pakistani Muslim in the area – maybe they are a little too quick?

What inspired you to write it?

Matt did, the character from Final Sin. Matt developed quite a personality of his own in Final Sin. He became a character that needed his own story. Since Matt is a bit of an “adrenaline junkie” (responds to 911 medical/trauma emergencies), he definitely lives in the field of EMS (emergency medical services). He’s a family man who wants better for his family than he had with a father who abandoned them. He’s also a romantic who is willing to work through cultural differences and social snubs because he truly loves the woman he married.

Who is your biggest supporter?

I am fortunate to have a few very supportive folks in my corner. I think the biggest would have to be my publisher Kimberlee Williams. She is extremely encouraging and knows just when I need some ego bolstering.

If you knew then, what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?

When it comes to my fiction, I think I would have surrounded myself with other writers long ago. Writers have a unique way of understanding other writers.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

While the book will be available in print (probably July), it is available as an e-book for now: you can purchase it for the Kindle from Amazon ( or through Smashwords for multiple e-book formats (

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

Both! My website is and my blog is  Also, please feel free to visit my “media room” on my website to find out more about me, my latest release Hyphema, and even download free .pdf e-books.

Do you have a video trailer to promote your book? If yes, where can readers find it?

Yes I do, you can go to to see it.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

Never give up, never stop writing.

What is up next for you?

I have this idea rolling around in my head for a paranormal romantic suspense but, please, don’t say anything to my publisher yet, I want to see how this idea works out first…

Is there anything you would like to add?

Thanks so much for allowing me this opportunity to chat here today.

Thanks for spending time with us today, Chelle. We wish you the best.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Why God Matters Receives Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award!

I'm thrilled to pass along the following information that I received today from Nicole Langan, owner of Tribute Books:

ARCHBALD, PENNSYLVANIA – Tribute Books is proud to announce that our title Why God Matters: How to Recognize Him in Daily Life has received the 2011 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award in the Nonfiction/Christian Living category.

All readers of Christian books and all retailers selling Christian products were invited to vote for the Book of the Year. Over 3,600 votes were received for 72 books nominated by 48 publishers. The Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award honors books produced by small publishers for outstanding contribution to Christian life.

Readers and retailers were invited to vote for one book in each category online at The award is offered in eight categories: Fiction, Biography, Christian Living, Relationships/Family, Bible Study/Theology, Children's Book (4-8 years), Children's Book (8-12 years), and Young Adult (12+ years). The winners of this award are determined solely by Christian retailers and readers' votes.

This is the fourth year the Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award has been presented. This year the award has a new website at

About Christian Small Publishers Association:

The Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award is sponsored by Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA). CSPA was established to represent and promote small publishers in the Christian marketplace. CSPA is a supplier member of CBA. Christian Small Publishers Association can be found online at

About Why God Matters:

Many times one sees Roman Catholicism explained using either closely reasoned theology or an appeal to ancient writers of the Church. While both are legitimate approaches, the average reader looking to explore the faith is often left cold. In their collaboration, Why God Matters, Deacon Steven Lumbert and his daughter, Karina Lumbert Fabian, delineate the Catholic Faith as experienced by a pair of average, everyday people like the great majority who make up the 24 percent of Americans who share this religion.

In the stories of this pair, one see both ways people come to Catholicism, by birth (“cradle Catholics”) and by conversion. Their descriptions of their separate paths thankfully lack the religiosity of the all too common "and then a miracle takes place" school of religious experience. Rather than blasts of light, fiery swords, spiritual fistfights, and angelic choirs, theirs is the long religious slog of the everyday. The effort that one must put out each day in the long trek to Heaven.

What is Catholicism really like? One would be hard-put to find a better verbal painting of the faith so many call their own.

Visit the book’s web site at:

$15.95, hardcover

$2.99-$4.99 eBook

ISBN: 9780982256534

5.5" x 8.5"
114 pp


About Karina Lumbert Fabian

Karina Lumbert Fabian was born into the Catholic faith, but truly grew to love it as an adult. As a busy mother of four, she finds some of her strongest encounters with God's love happen in the ordinary events of the day-to-day. Karina started her writing career with diocesan newspapers but has settled into writing fun-filled fantasy and science fiction that nonetheless incorporates the principles of faith-filled living. Visit Karina’s web site at

About Deacon Steven Lumbert

Deacon Steven Lumbert officially converted to Catholicism in 1988, but had been a "practicing" Catholic long before that. He met his lovely and loving wife, Socorro, while serving in Roosevelt Roads Naval Base in Puerto Rico, in 1966. They raised their daughters, Karina and Regina, in the faith. Steve spent 30 years as a Colorado State Trooper, but retired when God called him to the diaconate. Currently, he serves the Diocese of Pueblo as the Associate Director of Deacon Formation.

Published by Tribute Books: Please contact Tribute Books for author interviews, review copies, book artwork and any other requests at

To order 10 or more copies at a 40% discount, contact Tribute Books at or phone (570) 876-2416.

We congratulate the authors and Tribute Books for winning this award. To read my review of the book, please visit

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Giveaway Winners!

Our congratulations go out to Turning the Clock Back for winning a copy of Gary Darby's Starscout Rising: First Trail. If you would like to purchase a copy, you'll find the paperback available at Amazon. It's also available in Kindle edition.

We also congratulate Mary Andrews, winner of a copy of Rast by Christopher Hoare. I reviewed this book at It is currently available from MuseItUp Publishing for only $5.95 and comes with a free guide.

Look for more giveaways coming soon!

Book Review: Borneo Tom by Tom McLaughlin

Borneo Tom: Stories and Sketches of Love, Travel and Jungle Family in Tropical Asia is a fun, engaging travel journal that many will enjoy.

The introductory page includes the closing verses to the 1970 song "Signs" by Five Man Electrical Band, which was covered in 1990 by Tesla with some alterations to the original lyrics. I was glad to see the author used the original lyrics, as it is a powerful song that spoke to the issues of the time; issues which still exist in some ways.

What follows is a travel journal that begins with Tom on a flight with Malaysia Airlines , who strikes up conversations with a beautiful Swedish woman and some students that were returning home from a trip to the United States; and ends with the next chapter of his life just beginning. Along the way the reader learns about his decision to move to Borneo; the many adventures he's been on-- sometimes with his daughters and other times alone; stories from his teaching years; the interesting people he meets along the way; and his dedication to conservation.

Perhaps now you're thinking this is a printed version of those dreaded home movies your neighbors used to dig out to show you their "interesting" and "funny" adventures on the latest family vacation. Borneo Tom isn't like that at all. It is interesting and funny. McLaughlin's style is witty and his insights thought-provoking. Couple that with the zany illustrations provided by Waterfront Niki, who lives in the area, and you've got a winning book.

Great as a gift for a friend who likes to travel, Borneo Tom would also make a fabulous coffee table book. It's also a wonderful way to learn about this part of the world. A portion of the proceeds from this book will be used to purchase items for The Matang Wildlife Centre outside of Kuching, Malaysian Borneo to support nature conservation. This group's primary mission is to return rare and endangered species, particularly orangutan, to the wild.

Title: Borneo Tom
Author: Tom McLaughlin
Publisher:  Tom McLaughlin
ISBN-10: 9838082112
ISBN-13: 978-9838082112
SRP:  $42.00

I received a copy of this book free of charge from the author in exchange for my honest review. I received no compensation of any kind for sharing my opinion.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Truth about Dinosaurs Finally Revealed! by Graham Parke, Author of No Hope for Gomez!

There is something terribly wrong with this dinosaur picture. At first I didn’t notice it, either. I must have read this picture page with my son ten times before I saw it. But when I did, my blood ran cold. How could this be? What was going on? I don’t mind telling you, there’s something very unsettling about discovering a kink in the nature of reality through a children’s book. Any other place is bad enough, but a children’s book? I just wasn’t prepared. How could I be?

Of course you didn’t need to look at the picture ten times. You noticed it right away. Before you even started reading this post. But there are some readers (not you) who didn’t. I urge them to take another look. To really give this picture the once over. As soon as your breath catches, as soon as the back of your neck gets cold and you start having nightmares, right now while you’re still awake, you know you’ve found it.

Crazy, isn’t it? At first I thought it was an honest mistake, some kind of artistic license. Draw a bunch of aquatic dinosaurs frolicking around in prehistoric oceans. Add some coral, add some reef, postulate the existence of cretaceous jellyfish, why not? There is no way to disprove that. And then, well, you give the dinos something to play with. Like what you ask? What might one find at the bottom of an ocean? A sunken ship, maybe?

Well, no. Not really. Not when the closest estimation of the gap between dinosaurs and humans is around 60 million years. That’s not even a near miss. I’m having a hard enough time explaining to my dinosaur-obsessed four year old that there are no more living dinosaurs. That each and every one of them just happens to be dead. Never mind all the movies and picture books and merchandising. They are gone. It’s bad enough that I cannot answer his always ensuing enquiry of ‘WHY?’ with a satisfying answer. (Well, son, there are different hypotheses ranging from climate change to meteor showers and, although no definitive proof can be found to exclude any hypothesis specifically, the one thing they all have in common is that they end with the dinosaurs going extinct.) So I don’t need his favorite picture book casting doubt over my already shaky explanation.

My son doesn’t give up easily, though. What about the zoo, he wants to know. I tell him there are elephants at the zoo, which are pretty big. And there are crocodiles, which are a kind of dinosaur, but there are, and this I swear to him, no tyrannosaurus rexes. Not a single one. Not even, I add to head off his next question, a tiny little one tucked away in a forgotten corner somewhere. They are all gone.

But of course the creators of children’s books are far from stupid. They are in the business of explaining the world, the entire universe even. They have access to far more information than we laymen do. Of course they have, they are educating our future generations, after all. They have access to secret government labs, to experiments, to NASA data. And you’re not surprised to hear this, not in the least, as a species we’ve always suspected as much. So this is why my blood ran cold. They did make a mistake with this dinosaur picture, but it wasn’t an oversight, it was a leak! Scientists have apparently known for a while that society, as nature itself, is in fact cyclical. Before the human came the dinosaur, before the dinosaur came simple multi-cellular life, and before simple multi-cellular life came… yes, the human! We’ve been here before. Many times. 5 billions years of earth history is a long time. It’s long enough for over 80 cycles of dinosaurs and humans and the huge amount of time in between them! We’ve been fools for not figuring this out sooner. We’ve been popping in and out of existence like popcorn and we didn’t even know it!

Scientists are trying to work out how long each cycle of human existence lasts, and what ends up wiping us out. If we can find a common denominator, we might predict our future, adjust our cycle, hang on to life a little longer this iteration. In the mean time, though, they don’t want us to panic. Not more than we’re already doing.

But, some renegade children’s book illustrator apparently decided that enough was enough. It was time for the truth to come out. I can picture him right now, drawing away, an evil grin on his face, putting boats and cars and discount cellular phone shops in dinosaur books for all age groups. ‘This will get the word out,’ he thinks. ‘This will stick it to the man!’

Graham Parke is responsible for a number of technical publications and has recently patented a self-folding map. He has been described as both a humanitarian and a pathological liar. Convincing evidence to support either allegation has yet to be produced.

No Hope for Gomez! is his fiction debut:

Boy meets girl.
Boy stalks girl.
Girl already has a stalker.
Boy becomes her stalker-stalker.
Follow Graham's blog here

Interview: Erica Nelson, Author of Happiness Quotations

Joining us today is Erica Nelson, author of Happiness Quotations: Gentle Reminders of Your Preciousness. Erica became a news reporter right out of college. She wrote for the Sacramento Bee, Santa Barbara News Press, and was the winner of awards for her journalism efforts. Erica left newspapers in 1990 and turned to a wonderful career in philanthropy. She started at Intel Corporation, helping give money and computers to schools, and developed Intel’s volunteer program at the Santa Clara, CA site. Erica rose to program director before leaving in 2004 to raise her family. She is now a happiness author and coach.

Welcome to The Book Connection, Erica. We're thrilled to have you with us. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m a writer, mom of three small children, owner of a beautiful horse, and I somehow balance everything that is always going on in my life with my family, career and dreams. I coach people who want to become more powerful, more successful, happier, more at ease with themselves and more able to manifest the life they dream about. I have a gift for seeing what needs to happen (for others) although I can’t always see this for myself.

When did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing since I was a child, it started with poetry and song lyrics. I would ride my bicycle under the trees at Stanford University, not far from where I grew up, and always have a pad of paper with me for the thoughts, poems, ideas and words that always seemed to be coming to me to write down. It became a job in the 1980s, when I started news reporting. My first book was published in 2007, Prospect When You Are Happy, and its job was to help people get clear on business prospecting from a positive mindset. Now I write about happiness, this stirs me, wakes me up too early, gets me motivated and inspired and I can’t seem to stop writing passages about how to get clear, how to expect more, how to break through barriers, and how to become more of that which I believe all of us already are inside – endless capability, spirit, soul embodied in physical beingness.

What is this book about?

Happiness Quotations: Gentle Reminders of Your Preciousness is a series of inspirational passages. You can open to any page, and let the words inspire you to change. I’ll open a page now and share what comes up for your audience:

“You Can Create a Bigger Playground. Consider the walls you have built were built for a reason. Don’t hate them. Don’t resist them. Know that the walls of your life were built to keep you safe, but you can break free from them at any time. You created your walls, you can create a bigger playground for your life.”
The passage goes on and suggests “You can say yes to your ideas. You have to remember how. Start by expanding one or two areas of your life.”

The book has over 125 Happiness Quotations, each designed to wake you up and get you into the world expansive, open, ready to live more fully, deeply and with more joy.

What inspired you to write it?

I woke up last September on my birthday, and decided it was time for the next book to show up. I opened up my heart and asked for divine inspiration, and Happiness Quotations was born. I also went on Google and looked for keywords that people type in when they want to feel happiness, because I was writing about it a lot in my journal. Happiness is the perfect venue for daily inspirations that are always showing up in my head.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Go to and pick up a copy of the book from Amazon. You can also find out about my happiness and virtual positivity classes, workshops and webinars, download free audio, and follow book signing events in the San Francisco Bay Area.

What is up next for you?

There is already a next book, the passages are being written. I am calling it HQ2 yet it will certainly earn a title of its own when that book gets closer to being born. This summer I'll be touring bookstores with Happiness Quotations, kids in tow.

Thanks for joining us today, Erica. We wish you continued success.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Interview: Aaron Paul Lazar, Author of FireSong

Joining us today is Aaron Paul Lazar, author of FireSong. The author of LeGarde Mysteries, Moore Mysteries, and Tall Pines Mysteries, he enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys.

Welcome to The Book Connection, Aaron. It is an honor to have you with us. Let's start by having you share your fondest childhood memory.

Hi, Cheryl, and thanks for asking. I grew up in rural New England, surrounded by music, art, literature, gardens, bountiful family feasts, and a host of animals. My father was a classical music professor with a passion for French Impressionist composers. He adored Chopin and I inherited the fascination. I woke up summer mornings to the sound of Dad playing the piano, which was directly beneath my bedroom. The strains of mazurkas, nocturnes, and especially the waltzes were balm for my soul. That is one of my fondest memories of all time.

When did you begin writing?

I always loved to write, and knew I wanted to write a mystery series some day–but I pictured it happening when my daughters were grown and I was retired. But when my father died in 1997, I became overwhelmed with grief. Writing was the only therapy that worked to restore my soul, and I started the LeGarde Mystery series as a tribute to my father. He was a wonderful, passionate man who spent his life imparting musical knowledge to young minds. So, although I always loved to write, it didn’t become an obsessive need until that point in my life. I was 44.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?
 I write in the very early morning, or in the evenings. I sit in my comfortable leather chair with my MacBook Pro and enjoy having control over my parallel universe! It’s nice, because we sure don’t have control over real life, do we?

What is this book about?

Here’s a synopsis that will tell you about some of the storylines:

What would you do if your country church was hit by a rogue tornado during services? What if the shrieking winds unearthed the bones of a missing parishioner in a nearby wheat field? Now add the discovery of heroin in your elderly minister’s bloodstream. When Gus LeGarde is thrown into the middle of the mess, he knows life’s finally gone berserk in East Goodland, New York.

The Genesee Valley is in chaos. Strangers drive panel vans through the countryside at weird hours of the night. A new batch of drugs is on the street, endangering students. The local salt mine collapses due to illegal mining practices. Gas fires burn in wells. Watering holes turn to brine. Crops are dying. Tempers are short. Forest fires threaten. To top it off, the new mine lies directly over ancient Indian burial grounds, bringing anguish to local tribes and inciting riots at the mine site.

Join Gus as he’s lured into a bizarre network of underground tunnels to expose the most shocking discovery ever to rock the Genesee Valley.

What inspired you to write it?

It’s hard to explain, but everything that comes in through my senses ends up coming out in a book. Sights, sounds, aromas, textures, and emotions… they all bubble around in my mind and bump into each other with increasing ferocity until they’re released again. It’s kind of like an artist, I suppose. I need to get these images out on my “word canvas,” so to speak, and then I can breathe again. Is it compulsive? Yeah. Obsessive? Indeed. But I can’t control it and am never sated until the job is done.

One of the influences for FireSong came from Reverend Thomas A. LeBeau, who was a model for the country reverend I feature in the book. Tom let me use some of his most motivational sermons, and I just changed them a little to fit the story. I also listen to the news and am appalled at how frightening Mother Nature can be at times. In upstate New York, we rarely have tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, mudslides, forest fires, tsunamis, floods, etc. We are so fortunate. But I always wonder, what if we did experience these things? What would it be like? How would be survive? I was also influenced by a number of real events that happened in the Genesee Valley in 1994. Our salt mine collapsed, wells went dry, the new one was to be built over sacred Indian burial grounds, etc. All these events played into the storyline.

Who is your favorite character from the book?

Aside from the animals, whom I adore, my favorite character has always been and will always be Siegfried Marggrander. Sig is my gentle giant, a stalwart behemoth man with fierce family loyalty and the innocent spirit of a child. He’s like my angel on earth, and also happens to be Gus LeGarde’s brother-in-law and best friend.

Are you a member of a critique group? If no, who provides feedback on your work?

I have several close writer friends with whom I share critiques. Sonya Bateman has been assisting me from day one, and I’ll always be grateful to her. ;o)

Who is your favorite author?

It’s so tough to decide. Can I cop out and give you my list of favorites and why I love them? John D. McDonald, for his superb characterization of Travis Magee and the imagery of the Florida coast in the fifties; James Patterson for the likable, human traits of Doctor Alex Cross and the taut suspense; Dean Koontz for his tight, often lyrical prose and super storylines; Dick Francis for bringing racetracks alive with living, breathing characters; Clive Cussler for his undersea adventures; Laurie King for her superior Sherlock Holmes stories; Stephen King for his natural dialogue; Rex Stout for the Nero Wolf series, (love the gourmand details); Peter Mayle for his sun-drenched imagery; and last but certainly not least, Tony Hillerman for his innate sense of place.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

All of my books are available on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, etc. etc. and are orderable in all bookstores. Readers can get eBooks and print books through all of these sources, or get autographed print books through me. All details and links are here on my website:  A number of the eBooks are on sale right now – some are half price or less. I have links to these sales on my website, as well.

Interviewer's note: The Kindle version of FireSong is only $3.25 right now!

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

Yes. The first site is my primary author website, where everything comes together. Moore Mysteries features just my second series, and has excerpts from those books. Murderby4 is a Writer’s Digest Best 101 website I share with three other mystery writers. We offer writing advice, articles about the industry, and feature guest speakers twice a week. The last is my blog.

What is up next for you?

My newest and third mystery series is debuting this fall. Tall Pines Mysteries are set in the Adirondacks and Finger Lake regions of New York, and feature a brand new unique and fun set of characters I hope my readers will love just as much as those in LeGarde and Moore Mysteries. You can see the cover art and read some excerpts of the new books that are coming out on my website at For the Birds is due in October, 2011, and Essentially Yours is slated for March, 2012.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Thank you for taking the time to do this interview, Cheryl. And if readers have any questions, feel free to pass on my email address, aaron dot lazar at yahoo dot com. In addition, my series can be read in any order, so don’t think you have to start with book one. I wrote them to stand on their own. ;o) Thanks again!

Thanks for spending time with us today, Aaron. When I was contacted about featuring you, I knew the name from Murder By 4. I'm glad we got a chance to learn more about your work. Wishing you the best.

Interviewer's Note: I'll be reviewing FireSong in the coming months. Be on the look for it!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Book Spotlight: The Face of God by Bill Myers

“THE TERRORIST has learned of supernatural stones used by the Old Testament High Priests to hear the audible voice of God. As the mastermind of a deadly plot that will soon kill millions, he has had a series of dreams instructing him to find the stones. Everything else is in place. The wrath of God is poised and ready to be unleashed. All that is stopping him is . . .

THE PASTOR. His wife has been murdered and his faith is crumbling before his very eyes. With his estranged son, he also searches for the stones in hopes they will rekindle his dying faith and love.

With the lives of millions hanging in the balance, these two men of opposing faiths collide in an unforgettable showdown. “The Face of God” is another thrilling and thought-provoking novel by a master of the heart and suspense, C.S. Lewis Honor Award winner, Bill Myers.”

Read the Excerpt!

Steeling his resolve, Daniel turned and entered the darkened room. His son, Tyler, and the owner followed. But when Helen tried to enter, Nayra remained in front of the woman, her small frame blocking Helen’s larger one.

“You must wait here.”


“Your presence is not welcome.”

“What do you—”

“You are a Jew; you are not welcome.”

The tension between them was palpable. And for a moment it seemed uncertain whether Helen would back down or not. Then reluctantly she agreed. But she would not leave the doorway. Apparently, she was going to stand right there and wait. Just she and the two dozen pair of eyes stealing peeks at her.

Inside, an old man greeted them. He sat on a rug and appeared even less conscious of dental hygiene than did the restaurant’s owner. His mouth worked the end of a plastic tube that led to a hookah water pipe. The air was full of pungent, sweet smoke. Not far away two or three younger men stood, slouched in the shadows behind him.

He turned and spoke to Nayra. She nodded and translated. “Please, sit.” She motioned Daniel toward the cushions in front of him.

“Tell him we will stand,” Daniel said.

Nayra spoke to the old man in Arabic. He shrugged, then said something else.

“He would like you to come closer,” Nayra said. “His eyes are no longer good, and he would like to see your face.”

Daniel turned to Tyler, who nodded. He moved forward until he was directly under the light of a bare bulb that hung from the ceiling.

The man grinned broadly. “Shukran, shukran.” Then he spoke something else.

“He would like to see the stone,” Nayra said.


“The Levi Stone.”

Daniel kept his eyes on the old man’s. Even in the shadows he could see the milky cataracts. “Tell him . . .”—he cleared his throat—“tell him it is in good hands.”

More Arabic was exchanged. “Your hands?” Nayra asked.


The old man chuckled, then asked something else in Arabic. Nayra translated. “He wants to know if you have had any dreams?”

Daniel tried not to stiffen. “We all dream.”

The man grinned again, obviously enjoying the repartee. He answered and Nayra translated. “Yes, but how many of us dream of . . .”—she turned back to the old man to confirm what she’d heard, then returned to Daniel—“how many of us dream of the face of God?”

Daniel felt the blood drain from his cheeks. The old man saw it and cackled softly. Apparently, he had his answer. Turning to his companions, he gave a curt order. One of the young men obeyed, producing a small box of olive wood inlaid with mother-of-pearl. Holding it with great care, he approached the old man. It was only then that Daniel noticed the rifle dangling from the boy’s shoulder. As he stepped into the light, his two associates moved forward, making it clear that everything was being carefully observed and carefully protected.

The old man took the box into his knotted, arthritic hands. He spoke again and Nayra translated. “I too have had dreams, Pastor. The dream of a face. But unlike your dream, mine is the face of a—”

The explosion shook the room with such force that Daniel nearly lost his balance. He heard the old man cry out but his voice was lost in another explosion. And another.

“Rockets!” the owner’s voice shouted. “Helicopter gunships!”

Adrenaline surged through Daniel as another explosion pounded the room, knocking him to his knees. The light was gone but he could hear the plaster and concrete falling around him, felt smaller chunks bouncing off his shoulders and head. Dust filled the room, making it nearly impossible to breathe.

“Outside!” the owner shouted and coughed. A back door was suddenly kicked open and blinding light stabbed Daniel’s eyes. “Everybody outside!”

He staggered to his feet. To his left he saw the boy with the rifle helping the old man do the same. More explosions shattered the room. Pounding, deafening, throwing Daniel into Tyler. Somehow they kept their balance and stumbled toward the light. Coughing and gagging, they emerged into a narrow street, one end already blocked by smoke.

“This way!” one of the young men shouted, waving. “This way!”

Everyone turned and started to follow. Everyone but Daniel.

“Dad!” Tyler yelled over his shoulder. “Come on!”

“Where is he?” Daniel shouted, straining to see through the dust. “Where is the old man?”


“The old man!”

Tyler spotted him at the door. “Right there, behind you!”

He spun around to see the old man emerge into the light, clutching the wooden box, leaning heavily upon his young assistant. Daniel heard the rocket coming but had no time to cover his face before the apartment next door exploded. The concussion threw him backward, pelting his skin with rock and concrete as he landed hard on the ground. But he only remained a moment. Even as the debris rained around him, he scrambled to his feet.

“Tyler!” he shouted. “Tyler!” He squinted through the billowing dust, choking, his throat on fire. “Tyler!”

“Here!” his son cried, coughing. “Over here!”

He turned to see Tyler staggering to his feet, helping Nayra to hers. The debris stopped falling and was replaced by the distant pop of automatic gunfire and panicked cries.

“He’s hurt!” Nayra shouted. She motioned to the old man, who lay under his young assistant. She raced toward them and Tyler followed. But it wasn’t the old man who was hurt. It was the aide. He did not move. And by the way his body was sprawled in the dirt, his neck grotesquely twisted, his eyes staring lifelessly, Daniel knew he would not move again.

The old man was struggling to crawl out from under him, shouting orders.

Nayra nodded and yelled to Tyler, “Get his gun! Get his gun!”

But Tyler had frozen. All he could do was stare at the young man. As far as Daniel knew, his son had never seen death before— except in movies or video games.

The gunfire grew closer.

Again the old man shouted and again Nayra translated. “Get the rifle!”

But Tyler could not move. With some effort Nayra pushed the aide aside and pulled the rifle off his shoulder. The movement shamed Tyler back into action. He reached for the old man and helped him to his feet.

“We must leave here!” Nayra shouted.

Tyler nodded and, allowing the old man to lean on him, started off in the only clear direction.

Daniel had just moved to join them when a soldier suddenly came into view. Another youngster. Younger than Tyler. He shouted something in Hebrew, an obvious order for them to stop.

Daniel slowed but Tyler did not. Instead he turned and began hobbling in the opposite direction.

“Tyler!” Daniel yelled.

Again the soldier shouted.

“Tyler, stop!”

The soldier raised his rifle.

“Tyler!” Gripped with fear, Daniel started toward the soldier, trying to explain, trying to draw his attention.

But the soldier ignored him and took aim.

“No!” Daniel twirled to Tyler. “Tyler, no!” Then back to the soldier. “No!” He started running at him. “No! No!”

The soldier fired.

Daniel spun around just in time to see the old man go limp in Tyler’s arms. But Tyler did not stop. In fear and panic he dragged the man faster.


The soldier aimed again.

Seeing no alternative, Daniel leaped between them, waving his arms, as a second shot was fired. Only it did not hit Tyler. Nor did it hit Daniel. Instead it was the young soldier who crumbled to the ground.

Confused, Daniel turned. He spotted Nayra lowering her rifle. She stared at it as if it were some strange creature as she tried to fathom what it had just done, what she had just done.

Three armed soldiers rounded the corner. They spotted their comrade, then Nayra, and immediately shouted, demanding that she drop the rifle. She held it at arm’s length, like a poisonous snake, and released it. It clattered onto the road. The soldiers started toward her.

Suddenly a white Mercedes slid around the corner, accelerating, barreling down on them. Having no time to take aim, the soldiers realized it would be smarter to leap for their lives. They weren’t wrong. The driver missed them by inches. The car fishtailed, avoiding the fallen soldier, then skidded to a stop directly beside Nayra.

“Get in!” a voice shouted.

Nayra stood paralyzed, still in shock.

The driver reached over and opened the passenger door. The sun’s reflection off the windshield made it impossible to recognize the face, but Daniel knew the voice.

“Get in!”

Woodenly, Nayra obeyed. She had barely entered before the tires spun furiously. The car slid to another stop between Daniel and Tyler.

“Hurry!” Helen shouted. “Get in! Get in!”

Daniel turned to help Tyler, who had kneeled down with the man. But the dark, widening circle in the old-timer’s back, and the ashen look on Tyler’s face, made it clear that his son had just witnessed his second death in as many minutes.

The soldiers behind them were scrambling to their feet, shouting, raising their rifles.

“Get in!” Helen yelled.

Daniel obeyed. But not Tyler. Not before the boy spotted the box near the old man’s hand and tentatively reached for it.

“Get in!”

The first bullet sank into the Mercedes’ left rear fender with a sickening thud. The second missed the car, sending up a cloud of dust inches from Tyler’s feet. He did not have to be told again. He grabbed the box, leaped up, and raced to the car. More shots were fired as he tumbled into the backseat, as the Mercedes sped off, as he tried more than once to grab the back door until he finally slammed it shut.


Read the reviews!

“Strong writing, edgy, and made for movies sensibilities categorize this thriller from veteran author and film director, Myers. The story is replete with action and the book admirably avoids an implausibly neat ending. Myers’s popular reputation and the book’s link to current events will likely woo readers.”

– Publisher’s Weekly

“One of the most creative minds I know.”

– Jerry Jenkins author, Left Behind

“It’s no wonder that Myers is a bestselling author. His writing is tight and quick and we identify fully with the characters who could be our family members or friends. Maybe that is why his books touch the soul.”

– The Road to Romance

Writer/director Bill Myers’s first major success was as co-creator/writer/co-producer of Focus on the Family’s children’s video series, McGee and Me (40 awards, broadcast in 80 countries, 4.5 million books and videos sold). On its heels he wrote the My Life as… series (over 2.1 million books sold).

Other successes include his teen series, Forbidden Doors (winner of the C.S. Lewis Honor Award), and his best selling adult novels, Blood of Heaven, Fire of Heaven, Eli, Soul Tracker, The Face of God, and The Wager (also a motion picture staring Randy Travis). As a writer/director, his work has won over 60 national and international awards, and as an actor he was the voice of Jesus in the NIV Audio Bible and has made several guest appearances on Adventures in Odyssey. His books and videos have sold over 8 million copies.

He holds an honorary doctorate from The Nimes Theological Institute in France where he has taught. He enjoys traveling and lecturing as well as serving as lay college pastor for his church.

He lives with his wife and two daughters in Southern California.

You can visit his website at

Interview with Farzana Doctor, Author of Six Metres of Pavement (Giveaway)

Joining us today is Farzana Doctor, author of the novel, Six Metres of Pavement.  Her first novel, Stealing Nasreen, received critical acclaim and earned a devoted readership upon its release in 2007. Six Metres of Pavement (Dundurn, 2011) is her second book. It is a novel about tragedy, redemption and unexpected love. Besides novels, Doctor has written on social work and diversity-related topics, and provides private practice consulting and psychotherapy services. She lives in Toronto, where she is co-curator of the Brockton Writers Series.

Welcome to The Book Connection, Farzana. It is wonderful to have you with us. When did you begin writing?

I think I always liked to write, and wrote in fits and spurts throughout my childhood and young adult life. However, it wasn’t until my late twenties, when I began writing my first novel, Stealing Nasreen, that I started to write in a more disciplined manner. There was something about the daunting length of that project that forced to me sit down get it finished.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

I’m a part-time psychotherapist, so I tend to see clients 2 days a week and I write the rest of the time. I find that first thing in the morning is the most fertile for new writing, so I try to do that first and focus on revisions later in the day.

What is this book about?

Six Metres of Pavement is a story about Ismail Boxwala, a middle-aged South Asian man who made the worst mistake of his life twenty years ago—he forgot his baby daughter in the back seat of his car one summer morning, causing her death.

This is a story of Ismail’s survival—how he manages to go on living after his mistake. Ultimately, his redemption comes through the relationships he builds with Celia, his Portuguese-Canadian widow neighbour—a woman he develops a crush on—and Fatima, a queer youth whose been kicked out of her home and who needs his help.

What inspired you to write it?

I heard about a case of “hot car death” in the news year ago. The story upset me, but the question that lingered on was “how do you get over something like that?”.

Do you have an agent or are you looking for one?

Yes, I’m represented by Beverley Slopen.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Hopefully, everywhere books are sold! The Dundurn Group (my publisher) has distribution in Canada, the US and Europe. They are also working on selling rights to a publisher in India.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

I have both: and

Do you have a video trailer to promote your book? If yes, where can readers find it?

I do, and it was a lot of fun making it:

What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?

Relationships. I have a wonderful community of friends, family and colleagues who I call my Promo Squad. There are 56 of them who are tweeting, e-mailing and Facebooking about my book.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

The real art of writing is in the rewriting. Someone told me that once and I really take it to heart. I no longer feel discouraged when my first drafts are boring, ugly or messy.

What is up next for you?

I’m working on my third novel, which is about a young woman working in the tourist industry in Mexico. She inadvertently becomes involved in the swinger scene there while facing larger questions about her troubled past. It’s inspired by my love-hate relationship with all-inclusive resorts and monogamy.

Thank you for spending time with us today, Farzana. We wish you continued success.

The Book Connection, in conjunction with the author and her publisher, are giving you the chance to win a free copy of Six Metres of Pavement. Read below for the details of this giveaway.

1) You must be a follower or subscriber of The Book Connection to win.

2) For your first entry, leave a comment with a valid email address. You can't win if you don't provide an email address.

3) One additional entry if you friend me on Facebook. Leave a comment with your profile link to show you're friending me.

4) One additional entry if you follow me on Twitter. Leave a comment with your profile link to show you're a follower.
5) Two additional entries if you friend Farzana Doctor on Facebook. Leave a comment with your profile link.

6) Two additional entries if you follow the author on Twitter. Leave a comment with your profile link.
7) Three additional entries if you blog about this contest. Leave a link to your post here.

8) You must be 18 or older and reside in the U.S. or Canada to be eligible to win.

Deadline for entries is 11:59 PM Eastern on Sunday, May 1, 2011. Winner will be selected out of all entrants who followed the rules governing this contest. The book will be shipped directly to the winner by the publisher. The Book Connection is not responsible for lost or damaged goods.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Book Review: Murder in The Vatican: The Church Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes by Ann Margaret Lewis

Three as yet untold Sherlock Holmes tales await you in Murder in The Vatican: The Church Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes by Ann Margaret Lewis.

This superb collection of Holmes mysteries based upon adventures hinted at in the original tome,  have been brought to life by Lewis's talented pen in a masterful way. Two of the stories are told entirely from the good Dr. Watson's point of view. In one, Watson shares this honor with Pope Leo XIII.

In "The Case of Cardinal Tosca," Pope Leo requests the help of Sherlock Holmes to investigate the sudden death of his curia. "The Vatican Cameos" is the second story and is told mostly from Pope Leo's point of view. This was my favorite out of the collection, as the reader gets an even greater glimpse into this leader of the Catholic Church. In "The Second Coptic Patriarch," a professional thief approaches Holmes when his friend Father Brown is imprisoned for the murder of a Coptic clerk.

I had not read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's book of Holmes tales prior to reading Murder in The Vatican; though I do have it on my Kindle. As a lover of the mystery genre, that almost seems like a crime. I'm also a former Catholic, so I felt I was in familiar territory while reading the book.

Lewis's attention to historic details, combined with masterfully told stories, engaged me from the first page. I couldn't put the book down. Having some recurring characters appear in the stories helped to show their development; in addition, it was a nice to witness how the relationship between Holmes and Pope Leo evolved over time. As one would expect, the stories are eloquently told, spoken in a style that speaks to a by-gone era.

Any Sherlock Holmes fan or lover of the mystery genre will want to pick up a copy of Murder in The Vatican by Ann Margaret Lewis. It's the perfect bedtime read.

Title: Murder in The Vatican: The Church Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes
Author: Ann Margaret Lewis
Publisher: Gasogene Books
ISBN-10: 0938501526
ISBN-13: 978-0938501527
SRP:  $18.95

Amazon purchase link:

Purchase from the publisher:


Born and raised in Waterford, Michigan, Ann Margaret Lewis attended Michigan State University, where she received her Bachelor's degree in English Literature. She began her writing career writing tie-in children’s books and short stories for DC Comics. Most recently she published a second edition of her book, Star Wars: The New Essential Guide to Alien Species, for Random House.

After attacking the Star Wars universe, Ann plunged into writing science fiction/fantasy, historical fiction, and, of course, mysteries. Her latest book is Murder in the Vatican:The Church Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes published by Wessex Press. She is also co-writing a historical novel entitled Roman which tells the true story of a priest in 1840s southern Indiana who was accused of assaulting a woman in a confessional.

Ann is a classically trained soprano, and has performed around the New York City area. She has many interests from music to art history, to theology and all forms of literature. She is the President of the Catholic Writers Guild, an international organization for Catholic Writers and the coordinator of the Catholic Writers Conference LIVE. After living in New York City for fifteen years, Ann moved to Indianapolis, Indiana with her husband Joseph Lewis and their son, Raymond. Together they enjoy their life in the heartland.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

New Release from White Rose Publishing: A Face in the Clouds by Marianne Evans

Will a quest for the truth lead him to a miracle--and the love of a lifetime?

Reporter Paul Hutchins is all about finding facts and uncovering the truth. Verification, authenticity and quantification are the fuel of his spirit…Until he falls in love with producer Sandy Pierson.

Sandy sees Christ alive in every aspect of her life. No need for quantified facts. Faith is the fuel of her spirit . But her love for Paul puts her at odds with God's call toward faith and all of its mysteries.

Paul considers Christianity to be well-meaning myth—hyperbole. To Sandy, it’s everything—and she can accept nothing less from the man she loves.

Can a miracle happen? Can the touch of God Himself keep their relationship from shattering?

Read an excerpt!

“I know how deeply you feel things, Paul. You have a wonderful heart. That’s part of why I love you so much. I’m torn in two about my feelings for you.” Sandy’s declaration would have filled him were it not chipped and cracked by the impact of her doubts. “Your reporter’s instinct toward authenticity and revealing the truth is a big part of what I admire about you. There’s nothing wrong with facing the world honestly, but you need to make room for a few other truths.”

“Like God.”

"Yes, and the fact that life holds as much mystery, and as many intangibles, as it does realistic things you can hold tight with both hands.”

She wanted him to change. Right down to the soul. Paul continued to study her. She was hurt enough that she had almost stepped away from attending tonight’s event—out of a frustrated sense of love. Yet here they were—together—out of a frustrated sense of love.

And if he wasn’t mindful of her beliefs, she’d step away from him.

Paul navigated the rapidly-filling parking lot of Woodland Church. Once they stopped, he killed the car engine and used a restraining hand to keep Sandy in place. He closed the space between them and gave her a kiss that lingered and thoroughly tasted. He felt the gesture ease a bit of the tightness in her shoulders and back. “I’ll keep an open mind, OK?”

She touched his face, and there was yearning in her eyes. “Keep an open heart. That’s much more important.”


Marianne Evans is a multi-published author of contemporary romance novels. Her professional career began when Kensington Publishing purchased her book, Friends & Lovers. Her second offering, Right Hand Man, followed shortly thereafter. Her third release from Kensington, Hannah’s Heart, won critical acclaim from reviewers and in the local media.

Her fourth book is her inspirational romance debut at White Rose Publishing – an award winning novel entitled Hearts Crossing. Hearts Crossing led to the creation of a four-book Christian romance series: The Woodland Series. Book 2, Hearts Surrender, released in late 2010 with Books 3 and 4 – Hearts Communion and Hearts Key, slated for late 2011 and early 2012 release.

A lifelong resident of Michigan, Marianne is an active member of Romance Writers of America. She’s a long-time member of Greater Detroit RWA where she served the chapter in a number of capacities, but most notably for two terms as Chapter Treasurer and two terms as Chapter President. She also belongs to the Faith Hope and Love chapter of RWA, American Christian Fiction Writers and the Michigan Literary Network.

Visit Marianne online at: and Check out her Facebook Readers Page at

Friday, April 15, 2011

Interview: Megan van Eyck, Author of Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress

Joining us today is Megan van Eyck, author of Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress: A Love Story. This book has fascinated me since I heard about it, and I am thrilled to have Megan here today to talk about it.

Welcome to The Book Connection, Megan. It's great to have you here. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I want to start by saying that I am a very different woman than I was four years ago. Now I am a happily married mother of two children. My family is my life and focus and I am thankful for every blessing each day brings.
But a few years ago I was involved in a five-year-long extramarital love affair with Carlos, a married man. While some affairs are only about sex, others are about love. Our affair started off being about sex, but ultimately love was what kept us together.

Our affair ended when he died of Amyloidosis, a rare blood condition.

And yes, my husband does know of my affair and my book. We both accept the ironic fact that our marriage wouldn’t have lasted, or healed, had it not been for my affair.

When did you begin writing?

I began writing a little more than three years ago. I never had any plans to be a writer. Friends had told me it was something I was good at, but I never felt I had a story to tell. Then Carlos died. I wanted to do something to raise awareness for Amyloidosis, which affects 3,000 people and their families annually.

For me, writing a book seemed the most natural and logical way to honor his memory and our love.

What is this book about?

Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress chronicles my five-year affair with a man I considered to be the love of my life. But more than that, it is my personal story, in which I share the details of a turbulent childhood and what I learned from it: my inability to love myself.

While Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress is the story of an affair, it is also a reflective story about coming to terms with myself and my ideas about love. Lastly, it is a story of reconciliation. It is a story about the love I shared with both my lover and my husband.

What inspired you to write it?

Love inspired me to write my book and my husband’s love is what encouraged me to publish. For me, everything in life is always about love.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

If you visit my website at: where you will find two sample chapters and a link to purchase my book through

What is up next for you?
Actually, my family is preparing for a big adventure: We are moving to The Netherlands. So now my life is busy with Dutch lessons, looking at rental properties, preliminary packing, and stockpiling American items I can’t live without.

Fortunately, technology offers the opportunity to be both a Dutch housewife and an American author.

Needless to say, this is a very exciting time!

Thanks for spending time with us, Megan. We wish you continued success.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Love's Kindled Flame by Mary Manners Available as Free Download!

After the death of her husband, Jeanne doesn't think she'll ever find love again--not with three rambunctious sons in tow, but when a fireman, Ryan Palmer comes to her rescue, she learns that triumph--and love--sometimes really does follow tragedy.

This is the story of Jeanne from Light the Fire, which is also available from
To read more about Mary Manners and her books, please visit her online at

Giveaway: E-Copy of Rast by Christopher Hoare

In Rast, magic is not a convenient parlour trick, it’s a deadly force that takes no prisoners. Those who must wield it are doomed, for it never ceases to work within the mind and nerves until it destroys its master.
And now, the time of the interregnum is here; the reigning sorcerer king, the Drogar of Rast, is struggling for a last grasp on magic power while his heir, Prince Egon, must take up the deadly mantle. Egon is fearful but courageous in his duty. Not one peril threatens Rast, but many.
While he struggles to tame the magic to his command the mechanistic Offrang adventurers arrive to seize the land for their empire. The Offrangs don’t just disbelieve in magic, they treat any attempt to discuss it with withering scorn. Then, when the Drogar falters, the North Folk sweep out in their multitudes to cover the land of Rast at the behest of their depraved Casket of Scrolls. Deepning too, a creature of earth magic in its mountain pools, stirs to gain power enough to conquer Rast.

The Prince’s sweetheart Jady does her best to support him, but she is not strong enough in the power of the lineage to bear him a magic wielding heir. She sets out to meet the caravansi of the cousin princess who is sent to be his consort with duty and anger both warring in her mind. The crisis will reveal surprising enemies, surprising friends, and as the Drogar tells Jady, “Even a Drogar may not see a future not yet determined.” While Egon goes west to spy on the Offrangs and Jady makes her way east, the oracle provided by the Pythian that lives in a cavern beneath the palace reveals, “You have no high point to see the scattered threads but must trust to those who grasp them.”

Everyone, enemy and friend, has a part to play in the preservation of Rast.

Read an excerpt!

Chapter Two

Jady pulled firmly on the reins, the tall pickaback reared to his full height and planted

his aft-most claws tight into the root-born path. His long body flexed beneath her as three of his six legs pawed at the air. When his middle claws again touched the musty smelling moss she leaned forward to whisper words of an ancient language into his feather covered ears.

“Pellad, Cerefrus. Dosar––let me dismount.”

The obedient animal bowed low his head to let the mail-clad maiden slip from the saddle to the forest floor.

She stood a moment, tall and slender in the shadowy forest, watching the flicking movements of her mount’s ears—noticing each glance of golden eyes into the overhanging branches. No single sound or sight held more than a momentary notice––then they were alone. The only other occupants of the small clearing lived in her memory.

Their mound occupied the center. The scavenger-chewed bones of a thousand Krachins decorated its surface, and at the summit sagged the bloodstained talisman of the Soulingas, the family of the first Soule. It hung tattered from its staff, waiting for an eldest son to reclaim and restore it to glory. An eldest son who may never be.

“I cannot help it, father,” she sobbed, falling to her knees before the tomb.

In her mind, he looked down at her and smiled. “I would not ask you to forsake the man you love…but your dreams are sterile.”

“I would receive him in shame––if that were the only way.”

“That can never be. You know he could not––and you deceive yourself if you think you would.”

“But Rast…without the Soulingas––?”

“Your brothers and I are patient with you, but––”

“I could never love another!”

“Have you given any other the leave to win you?”

She knelt silently for many minutes. “Am I making it hard for him?” she said, at length.

“You both know his duty.”

“And yet his father has never spoken harshly to me. Surely if the Drogar saw the error of it he would have ended my hopes.”

“Even the dead cannot see into the mind of a Drogar.”

She breathed in sharply. The thought of her Prince becoming a Drogar in his turn was frightening. Would his gentle glances become veils of ice-hard magic? Not Egon––surely not Egon!

“Do you know why the Drogar sends you at this time?”

“This time? What do you mean?”

“Your Grandfather, my father, saw omens in it.”

“He didn’t speak to me of what he saw.”

“A commission to Deepning is never given lightly.”

She opened her eyes wide to take in the evidence of the tomb. “Three times have I come. Five times if I count the journeys with you and my brothers.”

“But this time the Drogar’s words are stronger, his intent more given in detail.”

“I know not why.”

“Go, Daughter, be about your mission. We cold bones will delay you no longer, but we will ever hold your life to our charge. We will never take rest until you and a husband kneel here—until the son you shall make together can be prepared to take up our talisman.”

Without another word or backward glance she stood and walked to Cerefrus. He bent to allow her to mount. Continuing along the forest paths she rode until she could see the dark overhanging rocks of a mountain through the branches.

Here she dismounted again and set the pickaback loose in a forage dell until her return.

She settled the bow of sinew, horn, and wood across her shoulders, tightened the coil of long dark hair beneath her leather helm and glided forward beneath the tangling branches into paths no mounted warrior could follow. Testing again the Vales of Deepning Pools she trembled slightly, shivered within her taught nerves. She stifled her misgivings and set out upon the mission.

The Drogar spoke of some future sons of Soule. Did he mean the words in truth, or were they mere bolsters for her courage?

She walked watchfully; stepped softly. No gentle forest animals stirred, no bird flew.

The trees grew tall and twisted as if they had wrestled, each with the other, for every scrap of sunlight falling dappled into the forest. Jady knew the secrets of each. She smelled resin weeping from wounded bark, wooden tears seeping from the trunks where tree had flailed against tree in wind-borne combat. She knew the smells of every forest dweller, and feeling her soft leather boots sink to their moss covered roots, caressed them in her walking.

The Deepning Pools lay above her, in a hanging valley upon the edge of the mountain.
She bent her footsteps up through the slanting trees and followed a path made by the many feet of the only animals strong and fierce enough to live near the magic Vale—the sharptoothed Krarks. Broken branches told of the rough passages they forced with their segmented bodies. Here and there, a fallen tree lay torn in two by mighty claws. Jady reached to touch the crystal-tipped arrows at her waist, and plunged on up the path.

She walked more quickly for about a league. When she felt the magic singing—the distant hints of dangerous melody ringing in her ears—she stopped to take the gossamer net from her pack. Woven by a wraith of midnight sorcery, the heirloom was handed down from distant ancestors. It had shielded generations of warriors from the spells. Fierce, dark-haired men with arms like the roots of trees. Men who let fly the crystal tipped arrows from tempered bows of horn and wood. Brothers, fathers, uncles and grandfathers, descended in unbroken line until at last, the only watcher of the forest was this high-breasted maid—the last of the Soulingas. She carefully draped the shimmering silver over her head and wrapped its folds about her. Safe within the wispy filament from the sirens’ temptation, she stepped gently on, spells buzzing futilely against the gossamer shield as angry bees against the keeper’s net.

Few but the Soulingas could venture into the Vale of Deepning Pools. Even Drogar magic rarely clashed with the fey enchantry—except at a few intervals in the circle of time, force was blocked by force. Prince Egon knew where the Pools lay, but had never glimpsed their glowing, living liquid. Only the Krachins were drawn to the fetid swamps by their lust for sour smelling vapours. The Guardian of the Forest must mark their comings and goings, and when the moment was right thwart their fell intention. Thwart also the evil purpose of the Pool creature, whatever strange reality it might possess––and prevent it gaining living sacrifice.
Only flying crystal point could secure payment and account in such magical commerce.

I just finished reading Rast this week. While fantasy will never be a favorite genre of mine, I truly enjoyed this it.

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