Book Review Friday – Confessions of an Instinctively Mutinous Baby Boomer and her Parable of the Tomato Plant

MBBCover2014Confessions of an Instinctively Mutinous Baby Boomer and her Parable of the Tomato Plant by Marsha Roberts

Once you get the title, you’ll understand the lovely and lively book that Marsha Roberts has written about the ups and downs of her life. I’ve never met Marsha, but after reading her memoir of parables, I feel as if she’s one of my dear friends.

The book is uplifting—more so than any other thing I’ve read lately—and inspiring. She’s the master of the positive spin, but in a way that makes me feel, “Hey, I can do that! I can create miracles in my life. I can have a faith that is visible and tangible.”

I loved so many things about the book that I’ve bookmarked pages and will use them as my nudge to stop feeling sorry for myself when things don’t always go right. Ms. Roberts writes, “I also believed in miracles. Not as some remote ethereal possibility, but as a real part of my life.” I started remembering the miracles of my life when I read that. I decided those are the times I want to use as my touchstones.

Her story about her father “fixing” the figurines that she had painstakingly made for the people she loved broke my heart in one way, but also showed me that anything can be fixed. Her honesty about her relationship with her mother is another heart breaker until that relationship is eventually “fixed” as well. Maybe it wasn’t done in the way we’d prefer, but we don’t get to choose the way in which our miracles occur.

She shares a profound statement made by her husband Bob that has resonated with me weeks after finishing the book. He tells her during at time of crisis in their lives, “darkness exists by default; light has to be generated.” Just as the sun generates our daylight, it’s up to each of us to step out of the darkness or nothingness into the light, even if we have to generate it each and every moment when we rise.

That’s what this book does—it makes me giddy with joy that I am the one who generates the light in my life, and as Ms. Robert proclaims at the end of the book, “Miracles are inevitable.”

Click here for my interview with Marsha Roberts on Author Wednesday.

New Release: “Native Lands” by P.C. Zick – Review, excerpt and giveaway

writerchristophfischer

Native Lands by P.C. Zick
Native Lands is a gripping and entertaining thriller with depth, wonderful characters and well-planted
parallels between the two engaging narratives. There is a beautiful and warm feel of Native Lands and an excellent and uplifting moral that won’t lecture or patronize. A truly great read.

Christoph Fischer, Author
Native Lands is a novel rich in intrigue and history as a tribe of Native Americans, thought to
be extinct, fight to save their beloved heritage. They join with others willing
to sacrifice everything to save further destruction of the Everglades and St.
Augustine.
Forbidden loves, deceptions, and murder threaten to destroy
nature and families in a saga stretching from the 1760s to the present day.
Join Locka and Mali as they lead their tribe of Timucuans
away from the Spanish near St. Augustine in 1760 and settle into a new life in
the Everglades alongside…

View original post 1,692 more words

Native Lands Released Today!

It’s an exciting day for me–one eight years in the making. Native Lands is now a reality. It went from Connecting the Dots in its original form in 2006 when I participated in a Novel in a Month group. My month stretched out into 100 months, but I did take a break from it in 2007 and didn’t return to it until earlier this year when I retitled it Safe Harbors, but there are many books with that phrase in the title. Since the book is about Native Americans–the Timucuans of north Florida–I decided to go with Native Lands because it encompasses the themes of the novel. I hope you’ll read about the book and perhaps even decide to read it! Enter the Giveaway below for the first two books in the Florida Fiction Series. Native Lands is the third and final(?) book.

Native Lands by P.C. Zick
Native Lands is a gripping and entertaining thriller with depth, wonderful characters and well-planted
parallels between the two engaging narratives. There is a beautiful and warm feel of Native Lands and an excellent and uplifting moral that won’t lecture or patronize. A truly great read.

Christoph Fischer, Author
Native Lands is a novel rich in intrigue and history as a tribe of Native Americans, thought to
be extinct, fight to save their beloved heritage. They join with others willing
to sacrifice everything to save further destruction of the Everglades and St.
Augustine.
Forbidden loves, deceptions, and murder threaten to destroy
nature and families in a saga stretching from the 1760s to the present day.
Join Locka and Mali as they lead their tribe of Timucuans
away from the Spanish near St. Augustine in 1760 and settle into a new life in
the Everglades alongside the Calusa Indians. Their progeny grow up in the
Everglades, attempting to keep their bloodlines pure.
By 2010, Mangrove Mike, Joey Cosmos, and Rob Zodiac live
among the white people and learn that the human connection transcends the fear
of extinction of their people. Barbara Evans in the Everglades and Emily Booth
in St. Augustine are the glue as the different cultures combine forces to fight
a conglomerate of international interests.
It’s a dangerous journey as this oddly matched group attempts
to halt the destruction of the natural world they treasure. Cultural boundaries
established centuries ago are erased as love and nature seek the balance lost
during the battle for power and control of the last of the Florida frontier.
P.C. Zick is the
author of several contemporary novels. Native
Lands
is the third book in her Florida Fiction Series, which also includes Tortoise Stew and Trails in the Sand. She may be contacted through her website at
http://www.pczick.com.

Barbara Evans sat in the living room of her house on the western edge of Chokoloskee Island, leafing through past issues of Sierra magazine, searching for an idea for her next column. She listened to the news from the television, only looking up when the local weather presented NOAA’s prediction for an active hurricane season. Then the newscaster began a report that caused Barbara to put down the magazine and devote her full attention to the screen.

“Yesterday, wood storks in Big Cypress Wildlife Management Area attacked a young boy as his mother shot this video of the assault,” the announcer said.

Barbara watched as a boy, approximately ten years old, was crying as a wood stork’s beak poked at the Mickey Mouse portrait stamped on the front of his T-shirt. Another stork approached and began nudging the foam snout of the alligator hat on the boy’s head. A man ran into the frame of the video, yelling and scaring off the wood storks as the boy howled.

“Officers from Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Commission are handling the situation. Here to talk with us is the agency’s spokesperson, Larry Castle. Larry, what’s your agency doing to make sure the tourists are safe in the Everglades?”

“Along with the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we’re asking residents and visitors to our great state to keep their distance from wildlife,” Larry said, wearing a green shirt and hat with the logo from the state’s fish and wildlife agency. “They shouldn’t feed wildlife or make any attempts to capture or touch them.”

“The parents say the wood storks just came up and attacked their child,” the newscaster said.

“Wildlife usually keeps to itself unless tempted by food. We’re investigating, but the safest thing anyone can do is to enjoy wildlife from a distance with a zoom lens on the camera.

“Thank you, Larry. The family told us they are cutting short their vacation because of this unwarranted aviary violence. Governor Rick Scott offered the family a week’s stay in Miami to make up for the attack, but the family declined the offer.”

“My son may never get over this attack.” The mother, wearing a white visor with a Minnie Mouse label on the front, appeared on the screen. “His favorite hat is now in shreds in the swamp. It has been one horrible experience.”

The newscaster came back on the screen. “The video of the attack was recorded by the mother on her cell phone.”

Barbara ran her fingers through her short curly red hair, and with the other hand reached for her phone to call Stan Hogan, her editor at The Miami Herald.

“Stan, I’ve got to write the story about the wood stork attacking the family at Big Cypress,” Barbara said. “You’ve got to let me do it.”

“If I let you write the article, it’s off limits for your column,” Stan said. “You write an objective piece, but no editorializing. Agreed?”

“Then I can write a column about it in a few weeks.”

“No. You’ve been hired as a columnist. If you want to go back to reporting, then we’ll start you on covering the commission meetings in the communities around Lake Okeechobee.”

“Come on, Stan. You know I can write a good piece. I don’t know why you won’t let me.”

“That’s my final say on the subject. You write your column or you start working the Glades County beat.”

“All right, all right.” Barbara knew being assigned the rural beat near the shores of Lake Okeechobee amounted to a death sentence for a writer. “The column is better because I can ask, ‘why the hell was the mother recording the attack instead of protecting her child?’ The kid deserved getting attacked just for wearing that stupid alligator hat. Tell them to pull the column I wrote for this week. I’ll have the new one to you later this afternoon.”

“No ‘those tourists deserved it’ crap. You got me into a load of trouble with that last piece about the pigeons and doves at that wedding in Disney World. One of the copy editors should have caught the line ‘anyone who chooses to get married in the land of Mickey Mouse deserves dead doves floating down during the vows.’”

“I can’t help it if nature keeps biting back,” Barbara said. “Just be sure they pull my old column.”

 

P.C. Zick began her writing career in 1998 as a journalist. She’s won
various awards for her essays, columns, editorials, articles, and fiction. She
describes herself as a “storyteller” no matter the genre.
She was born in Michigan and moved to Florida in 1980. Even though she now
resides in western Pennsylvania with her husband Robert, she finds the stories
of Florida and its people and environment a rich base for her storytelling
platform. Florida’s quirky and abundant wildlife—both human and animal—supply
her fiction with tales almost too weird to be believable.
She writes two blogs, P.C. Zick
and Living Lightly. She has published
three nonfiction books and six novels.
Her writing contains the elements most dear to her heart, ranging from love
to the environment. In her novels, she advances the cause for wildlife
conservation and energy conservation. She believes in living lightly upon this
earth with love, laughter, and passion.

Works by P.C. Zick

Florida
Fiction Series
Tortoise Stew (Florida Fiction Series, Book 1) –
Politics, murder, and chaos in rural Florida reign supreme in a story where
love triumphs over it all.
Trails in the Sand (Florida Fiction Series, Book 2) –
Family secrets, an oil spill, and redemption create a roller coaster ride for
journalist Caroline Carlisle.
Native Lands
(Florida Fiction Series,
Book 3)
– A novel rich in intrigue and history as a tribe of Native
Americans, thought to be extinct, fight to save their beloved heritage.
Other Fiction:

A Lethal Legacy (Psychological
Suspense) – A fascinating study of
human expectations, failings, and redemption filled with lust and forbidden
lovers.

Live from the Road (Fiction takes the reader on an often humorous, yet
harrowing, journey as Meg Newton and Sally Sutton seek a change in the mundane
routine of their lives. Joined by their daughters, they set off on a journey of
salvation enhanced by the glories of the Mother Road.
Behind the Altar (Romance – Behind the Love Trilogy,
Book 1) – All seems perfect in Leah’s life until tattoo artist Dean rides his
Harley into her heart in this story of forbidden love.
Nonfiction
From Seed to Table (Blog posts) Gardening techniques, organic gardening, canning vegetables, and
recipes galore
Civil War Journal of a Union Soldier (Memoir nonfiction) – My great
grandfather’s journal from his days as a soldier. It’s a personal account of
war and all its sundry causes and effects from the eyes of a man who fought it.
Odyssey to Myself (Essays nonfiction): The people of
Morocco, Italy, Panama, and Chile come to life through the experiences of the
author as she absorbs the cultures so different from her own.

 

 

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Book Review Friday – The Art of Love by Michele Shriver

unnamed (22)I’m a huge fan of Michele Shriver’s books. In her newest release, The Art of Love, she switches genres from contemporary women’s literature the romance.

The Art of Love did not change my opinion of her ability to create characters I’d like to have as friends and others I love to hate. In her other works, the strong female leads are closer to my own age, but in her newest novel she creates two characters about to graduate from college and made them come alive on the page.  This work of contemporary romance works on several levels. The two main characters, Chelsea and Hayden, are both artists but with very different goals in mind for their future careers. In fact, as artists go, they’ve chosen almost opposite paths and even worse, paths that the other despises. So despite the attraction between Chelsea and Hayden, they clash often and loudly in their choice and neither can imagine being with a person who strives to be a “gallery” artist (Hayden) and a free spirit who wants to do art shows, traveling around the country selling custom-made jewelry (Chelsea).

Ms. Shriver’s main characters are likeable, if not stubborn and short-sighted. The romance between them sizzles, and the reader has no idea how they’ll work out their differences.

The relationship with Chelsea and her mother was sweetly drawn. I liked the easy camaraderie between the two. However, Chelsea and her father have quite the opposite relationship. It’s this father/daughter feud that fuels another layer of the conflicts within this sweet romance. Throw in an evil art gallery owner and a wise brother and the plot falls into place with lots of twists and turns on the way to finding true love.

Congratulations to Michele Shriver on creating a romance that is its own work of art.

Click here to see an interview with Michele Shriver on Author Wednesday.

Click here for my review of Michele’s After Ten.

Cover Reveal – Romancing Christmas



Romancing Christmas: 10 Love Stories to Spice up the Holidays

Multi-author boxed set
Release Date: November 3, 2014
Genre: Holiday Romance


Cover Artist: http://www.bellamediamanagement.com/

~~Blurb~~

Do you like your Christmas nice…or a little naughty? Bring the season into your heart with love stories to match your mood. This boxed set from 10 of today’s hottest romance authors will warm your heart even on the coldest night.


Just 99 Cents for a limited time!







~~JOIN IN THE FUN AT OUR FACEBOOK PARTY~~

Join the ROMANCING CHRISTMAS authors for their LAUNCH DAY PARTY! The authors and a slew of their sassy friends will be celebrating the release, November 3rd, 4th, and 5th, 10:30 AM to 10:30 PM (EASTERN TIME).

Prizes Galore, Q&A, Authors, Readers, Books, and FUN! So what are you waiting for? Come join us and have a blast!


~~Novellas included in set~~
USA Today Bestselling Author Dale Mayer ~ Broken Protocols 3.5 

Award-winning author H.D. Thomson ~ Shades of Holly

Chantel Rhondeau ~ Season For Love

Award-winning author Leslie Lynch ~ Christmas Hope

Award-winning author Sandy Loyd A Christmas Miracle
Website: www.sandyloyd.com


Barbara Lohr ~ The Salty Carmel Christmas 
Website: www.BarbaraLohrAuthor.com

Marcia JamesHeating Up the Holidays

Carolyn Hughey ~ Insanity Claus  
Website: www.carolynhughey.com


Tallulah Grace ~ A Family for Christmas 
Website: http://www.tallulahgrace.com


Rachelle Ayala A Father for Christmas

Author Wednesday – Michelle Josette

cropped-cropped-typewriter.jpgWelcome to Author Wednesday and an interview with author and editor Michelle Josette. She stops by today to tell us about her new novel After Henry.AfterHenry

Hello, Michelle. I always love learning about the moment when my fellow authors first discover there voices. When did you first discover your voice as a writer?

I didn’t find “my” voice; I found Emma’s. Emma Jenkins is the protagonist of After Henry. One reviewer described her as “smart, artistic, vulnerable, searching for answers,” but to me she’s just like a close friend. It took a while for me to find her and figure her out, but once I did (through character interviews, “test” scenes and lots of contemplation) her voice came through quite organically.

That’s a great thing. I remember the first time it was suggested I interview a character. I didn’t understand it, until I actually conducted the interview. Tell us about your writing rituals.

Coffee, coffee, and more coffee! And did I mention I love—LOVE—to drink coffee while I’m writing? It has a kind of Pavlovian effect on me. When the coffee is poured, so may the words be poured. (This might, embarrassingly, show up a tad too often when the protagonist of After Henry—my beloved Emma Jenkins—sits down to have yet another cup of coffee.)

That’s funny, but I can absolutely relate. What is your vision of yourself as a writer?

I want to write stories that both inspire and entertain, that evoke emotions and allow the readers to view life and people with, perhaps, a new perspective. Sue Monk Kidd has done this successfully and is the author who has most influenced my own writing. Her prose sings, and her stories truly strike a chord. I may not churn out a novel a year, and I may not ever gain mainstream popularity, but I will always have a work-in-progress that I aim to share someday, and as an editor, I hope to always be involved in stories that are both poignant and entertaining—stories like the ones I’d like to create.

What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?

Rich Marcello, author of The Color of Home and The Big Wide Calm, described his experience of reading my novel as a fellow writer. He said: “Her prose is filled with poetic elements that will draw readers in. As a writer myself, I often stopped to re-read and admire a beautiful passage or two, and say, ‘I wish I wrote that.’” I have thought the same thing while reading his novels!

That is perfect. Is the book traditionally or self-published? Why did you choose one over the other?

I chose to self-publish After Henry for one simple reason: self-publishing is FUN! I loved having the freedom to choose my editor, cover designer, and marketing coach. I had full creative control over all aspects of the publishing process—not just the content of the novel itself, but the way it’s priced and marketed, too. The story and the cover are exactly as I envisioned them, and I feel proud of the final product. I must also admit that patience is not a virtue I have been blessed with, so the speed at which I could get the story “out there” through self-publishing was a major bonus!

I absolutely agree. I’ve gone both routes and self-publishing fits perfectly with my personality. I know you also edit books. How did you decide to become an editor?

In my opinion, every good editor has three qualities:

  1. A passion for storytelling (that includes reading AND writing)
  2. Knowledge of language (I’m mostly talking about punctuation, grammar, and syntax)
  3. A genuine desire to help others

I’ve told you a little about the first one—my passion for storytelling, which I’ve learned, involves both writing and editing. As far as my knowledge of language, that has developed over years of both formal education and practice. When I’m not editing, I’m learning how to do it better—mostly through conferences/webinars, reading, and “testing” myself via online proofreading tests and working closely with fellow editors. Before starting as a freelancer, I worked as a Word Processing Specialist for an oil and gas company in Dallas for two years. My primary task was to proofread all documents, reports and correspondence before anything was transmitted to a client. It was my actual job to be a perfectionist!

The third one came about a bit differently. While I consider myself as having a “natural” desire to help others, I didn’t realize I could have such an enormous impact on other writers until I became a member of peer critiquing groups. For years, I was proofreading for my friends and suggesting big story-level changes for their writing, and they started taking my advice. When some of those friends actually published their books—successfully—I knew I’d found my calling. I stopped critiquing for “free” and became a freelancer in August 2012. The best part is: some of those friends are now coming back to me, on their second or third or fourth books, and hiring me to provide the same service I had offered for free the first time. So, the next obvious step for me was to finish my work-in-progress and publish my own book. The whole experience has been exciting, invigorating, and at times a bit scary and challenging. But now I’m hooked—and I have no plans to stop!

249About Michelle: After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2009 with a degree in communications, Michelle Josette moved to Dallas, Texas where she is now living her dream as a freelance writer and editor. After Henry is her first novel. To learn more about Michelle, visit her website at www.mjbookeditor.com.

  1. Click on links for book and social media sites:

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New Release #Romance – The Art of Love

The Art of Love by Michele Shriver
Published on October 21, 2014

 

Chelsea
Matthews has a simple dream—travel the country on the art fair circuit selling
her hand-crafted jewelry. When her disapproving father refuses to release her
trust fund money to support her ambitions, she takes a part-time job in a campus
gallery. While counting the days until she can be free of its stuffy confines,
an unexpected temptation comes in the form of a sensitive painter.
For
Hayden Shaw, having his paintings displayed in the finest galleries is the true
measure of an artist’s success. When the pursuit of his goal puts him in
contact with the free-spirited Chelsea, his world is turned upside down.
Can
two seemingly opposite artists find middle ground and discover the art of love,
or will a gallery curator with an agenda of her own undermine both their
dreams?
Hayden
Shaw stopped and took a deep breath. Whittier Gallery. The name was etched on
the door, and underneath that, in smaller letters,
Marissa Kincaid, Curator. Was she the woman who would change his life?
A chime sounded as Hayden pulled the door
open and walked inside, a portfolio of his work tucked under his arm. He had a
pitch prepared as to why this particular gallery should feature his art. That
same pitch hadn’t gone over well at the last gallery he visited, but he was
undeterred.
A woman sat behind the desk talking on the
phone and she gestured in his direction that she was almost finished. Not
wanting to eavesdrop, Hayden nodded and wandered in the direction of one of the
displays. It featured oil painted scenes of the Boston Harbor, and he couldn’t
deny the skill of the artist. Did Hayden’s own work belong here? Was he good
enough?
No negative thoughts, Shaw,
he chastised himself. Hayden remembered the pep talk his roommate had given him
before he left. He had to be bold and confident.
“Sorry to keep you waiting. Can I help
you?”
Hayden turned around to face the woman as
she stepped out from behind the desk. “I hope so. Are you Ms. Kincaid?” As he
studied her face, though, Hayden doubted it. The woman facing him didn’t appear
much older than his own twenty years. He doubted she was old enough to be in
charge of a prestigious art gallery.
She shook her head and tucked a wayward
strand of light brown hair behind her ear. “No. I’m Chelsea Matthews. I just
work here.”
“Hayden Shaw.” He extended his hand. “It’s
nice to meet you.”
“What can I do for you?”
“I’m a student here at MassArt,” Hayden
said. “I understand you display student work, and I have a portfolio with some
pictures of my paintings—”
“Pictures?” Chelsea interrupted, “or
paintings?”
Hadn’t he made that clear? Hayden tried
again. “I’m painter and I’m interested in having my paintings displayed here. I
do photorealism, so they’re paintings based on photographs. I didn’t want to
lug the originals all the way across campus, so I brought pictures of them.”
“So, pictures of paintings of pictures is
what you’re saying.” Chelsea’s face carried an amused expression, and Hayden
wasn’t sure how to take it. Was she making fun of him, or rather his style? Not
everyone understood or appreciated photorealism. Maybe this gallery wasn’t the
right place after all. Or was she simply trying to joke around? He didn’t
always get people with quirky senses of humor.
“I guess you could say that.” He set the
portfolio on the desk. “Would you like to see them?”
“I could look at them, but it’s not up to
me whether the gallery will showcase your work,” Chelsea said. “Can you leave
this so I can show Marissa?”
“Sure. I can do that.”
“Good. She should be back in a little later,”
she said. “Can I ask you something, though?”
Hayden nodded. “Fire away.”
“Why here?”
He had the speech prepared as to why he
felt this gallery was a good fit, but truthfully it wasn’t much different than
the one he gave at the previous gallery. Besides, he didn’t think that was what
she wanted to hear. “I’m not sure what you mean?”
“I mean what’s the appeal here? What’s so
special about galleries?”
Was she serious? She worked in a gallery,
and she wanted him to tell her what was special about them? “I want people to
see my work.”
“Then why not display it around campus? In
the classroom buildings, stairwells, wherever. People do.”
He knew that. It was impossible to walk
anywhere on the MassArt campus without seeing student artwork on display. While
it made for an interesting environment, seeing paintings in stairwells,
sculptures on the grass and metal works hanging from a tree, Hayden didn’t
quite understand why it was such a popular thing to do. “I want people to be
able to appreciate my work.”
“Who’s to say that the folks walking down
Huntington Avenue can’t appreciate it?”
She had a point, and Hayden was left unsure
how to respond. “It’s not the same.”
“You mean you want someone to appreciate it
by buying it.” Her lips curled up in a smile. “Am I right, Hayden Shaw?”
She was, and Hayden hated how materialistic
she made him sound. He stuck his hands in the back pockets of his jeans and
averted his gaze to the floor.
“Oh please, don’t be embarrassed.” Chelsea
laughed. “Making money is a noble goal. I certainly want to make money from my
art.”
“You’re an artist too?” Hayden regarded her
with curiosity. “What kind? Are you a student here?”
“Yes. Jewelry and metalsmithing major.” She
reached up and touched the necklace she wore, holding it out for him to see. “I
made this.”
For the first time, Hayden examined it. It
looked to be made out of Scrabble tiles, spelling out the letters F-R-E-E. Art
was definitely in the eye of the beholder, but he found the necklace oddly
appealing, much like the woman who wore it. “It’s very unique,” he said. “Are
you? Free, that is?”
Mischief danced in her hazel eyes. Pretty
eyes, he decided. Not unlike the rest of her. “It depends on the context in
which you’re asking.”
“A woman of mystery. I like that,” Hayden
said, then wished he could take the words back. The conversation had veered
dangerously close to flirting, which probably wasn’t wise given that he hoped
to have a business relationship with this gallery. “Is your work on display
here?” His eyes scanned the gallery showroom for any cases that might house
jewelry.
She shook her head. “No. Galleries aren’t
my thing, and my work’s not Marissa’s thing.” She shrugged. “I’m hoping to go
on the art fair circuit this summer, after graduation.”
“Art fairs?” Hayden frowned.
“Yeah. You know, like Ann Arbor. Des
Moines. Kansas City.”
Why would anyone pass on a prestigious
gallery in Boston in favor of the capital of Iowa or a city most famous for barbecue?
“Are you from the Midwest?” Hayden asked.
“No. New Hampshire.”
“Then I don’t see a connection,” Hayden
said.
“The cities I just mentioned host some of
the best art fairs in the country,” Chelsea said. “Surely you’ve heard of
them.” She said it as if she expected everyone had.
Hayden shook his head. “Sorry to disappoint
you, but no. Art fairs aren’t really my thing.” He didn’t get the appeal of
traveling to cities in the middle of nowhere, peddling art on the street. “No
offense, but have you considered aiming a little higher?” Okay, so the Scrabble
necklace was kind of strange. Some people liked strange.
The amusement that once reflected in her
eyes faded, and Hayden knew at once that his words had offended her. “No
offense, but have you?” She retorted before turning away from him. “I’ll show
Marissa your pictures when she gets back.”
Buy it for 99 cents!!!

 

 

Michele
Shriver writes women’s fiction and contemporary romance. Her books feature
flawed-but-likeable characters in real-life settings. She’s not afraid to break
the rules, but never stops believing in happily ever after. In her free time,
Michele enjoys football, hockey and reading a good book written by someone
else.
 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/AuthorMichele-Shriver/241190605939040
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Book Review Friday – Conditions by Christoph Fischer

Book_marketing2-lrg

Families are our first line of defense against the world. And when that line crumbles, brothers can turn away from one another. Christoph Fischer’s Conditions examines the horrific consequences of shattered familial relationships in a poignant and sad manner.

This work of contemporary fiction also addresses the issue of mental illness through a close magnifying glass, and begs the question of what qualifies as “mental” degeneration.

At the forefront as a poster child for mental illness stands Charles; however, as the novel progresses, there are times when Charles is the only one who makes sense in the cavalcade of characters that prance and plod through Conditions. His brother Tony struggles for years with jealousy of Charles, thinking that his condition is one that lets him off the hook for responsibilities. As is the case in far too many families, assumptions made in childhood only multiply and fester if not addressed. To make matters worse, Tony ends up marrying someone who only perpetuates his misperceptions of his brother.

The characters that surround Charles as protective shields make up a cornucopia of the human experience. Simon is the reluctant friend who finds it difficult to express emotions. Martha is the quintessential victim of an abusive relationship. Catherine is a mixture of voluptuousness and vulnerability—a Marilyn Monroe-type, except as a poet rather than actress. Sarah is a victim of her surroundings and pampered lifestyle, but with a heart full of love. Elaine is a rescuer and perhaps with her skills of prescience is the sanest of the lot.

Insanity and mental illness are difficult subjects to discuss. We tend to shy away from those who react to the world differently than the “norm.” One day, with the help of books like Conditions, perhaps we will realize that there really is no normal for which to judge others.

This except—a quote from Sarah as she talks to her daughter about Charles, expresses very well the concept of perceptions of the mentally challenged.

“I’m not idealizing Charles,” Sarah said. “I just didn’t find him as difficult as you obviously did. I considered him more of an eccentric than a nuisance. I don’t want everybody on this planet to be the same and predictable. He had a lot of character. If the price for that is a little madness as you call it, then that is a good bargain in my books!”

I applaud Mr. Fischer for tackling the subject and showing that those who appear to be mainstream and normal, really suffer more from trying to maintain some semblance of that standard. Conditions takes its characters, who all face some sort of mental challenge, and gives us a slice of their life. It’s really not scary at all—it’s simply the individuality of the human spirit trying to escape its prison walls.

922159_10151345337037132_1303709604_oClick here to read my interview with Christoph Fischer on Author Wednesday.

Click on the titles below to read my reviews of other books by Christoph Fischer.

Sebastian

Time to Let Go

The Luck of the Weissensteiners

 

Author Wednesday – Lyssa Layne

cropped-cropped-typewriter.jpgWelcome to Author Wednesday. Today Lyssa Layne, the author of the Burning Lovesick Series, starring heroic and hunky firefighters. She’s just published Book 2, Burst Into Flame. bif4She stops by Author Wednesday to tell us a little bit about herself and her new book. She sent me a quote to begin her description of the novel:

“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” -Albert Schweitzer

Blurb for Burst Into Flame: For Dr. Katy Garrity, life is a whirlwind, and the New York Fire Department is the heart of the storm. After claiming so many people she loved, including her own husband, Katy is left adrift, trying to keep up with a busy career, a baby son, and her loving extended family.

Her only anchor is Jesse O’Neil, her late husband’s best friend. The charming former playboy has put his entire life on hold to care for Katy and her son. It’s inevitable that sparks will flare between them, but all of life seems to be conspiring to keep them apart. Especially Katy’s own heart, which shies away from trusting another firefighter.

Hello, Lyssa. I love the description of this novel. I’m glad you stopped by today so we can get to know one another a little bit better after meeting in the Romance in a Month class. By the way, Lyssa and I are going to be featured in a box set this holiday season with nine other fantastic writers of romance. You’ll be hearing much more about Heroes to Swoon For Box Set in the coming weeks. I couldn’t resist the plug, Lyssa. But let’s get back to you and your roots as a writer. When did you first discover your voice as a writer?

I’ve always been a writer since I was in elementary school. I still remember my first “book” I wrote when I was in fourth grade. The characters were named Tuesday and January. Maybe I’ll have to revisit that story when I have time.

I hope you kept the book in a file somewhere. That’s quite ambitious for fourth grade. Now that you’re an adult, what are your writing rituals?

Put my daughter to bed, find total peace and quiet, settle in to my big brown chair, and start writing. Any time I have a free moment in my day, I’m brainstorming…the trick is remembering all day until I have time to write!

That is a challenge, particularly as a new mother with incredible responsibilities there. I commend you, but you must truly be driven with a passion to write. You’ve recently published Burst Into Flame, so what are you working on now? 

Currently, I have two books out in the Burning Lovesick series and two more to write. In the middle of that project, I’m also working to be a part of a steamy stories boxed set with some amazing authors (including you!). Not to mention I have a few other stories I’m trying to edit and get into the hands of my readers as well; these stories include hot, sexy baseball players.

I’m glad to see I’m not the only one to do a little plugging. I think we might be doing a sports-themed boxed set next year. I’m planning to use baseball players, too, but mine will be set in Pittsburgh. Maybe we’ll have a little rivalry between teams going. Your books are all romance so far, but do you have a common theme running through all your books?

The Burning Lovesick series is centered around firefighters and doctors. It’s a fast-paced life that they lead, and they have to find time for love in the middle of their chaotic lives.

Why have you chosen to write about this particular theme?

It’s kind of a mix between my two favorite television shows, and besides, who doesn’t love a hot firefighter???

I agree–it’s a noble profession and one in which they must be in fantastic shape. Good combination. Do you have a favorite character from either of your books?

I love Nick Garrity, and I think most of the people that have read Love is a Fire, the first book in the Burning Lovesick series, would agree. Nick is kind, compassionate, a family man, always thinks about others before himself, and let’s not forget to mention that he’s H-O-T!!!

I’m going to have to meet this dude. Are you planning to continue writing in the same genre?

Yes, I don’t know any other!

What is the message conveyed in Burst Into Flame?

It’s possible to love again.

What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?

I can’t think of just one best thing but when readers email me and say they were in tears, and they are mad at me, it makes me feel great because I evoked so much emotion from them!

That is a wonderful moment. But let’s discuss the one thing that is inevitable when we put ourselves out there as authors: the bad review. What advice can you give to other writers about receiving a bad review?

You’ll never please everyone but use their review as a learning tool to improve your stories. But ultimately it’s your story, so if you’re happy then don’t worry about what others say.

That’s perfect. What’s your one sentence pitch for Burst Into Flame?

Burst Into Flame is about moving on after tragedy.

How did you choose the title?

I like to find quotes that fit my stories and use a part of it as the title.

How long do you estimate it took you to take the book from an idea to a finished, published?

About eight months.

That’s phenomenal. Is the book traditionally or self-published?

My series is self-published. I don’t have the time, or the patience, to submit to publishers. I work full-time, teach part-time, write, and chase around a two-year-old!

I certainly agree. I’ve gone both routes, and self-published is definitely better. What is the best thing someone could say about Burst Into Flame?

It’s better than the first.

Without giving us a spoiler, tell us a little bit about your favorite scene.

My favorite scene is when Katy is running her marathon. The story comes full circle; she’s worked so hard to reach this point, not just in her running career, but her life.

I’m almost afraid to ask this question, but what do you do during your down time?

Down time, what’s that???

Exactly. What book are you reading right now?

I’m always beta reading! Just finished beta reading Claiming Carlos by Rachelle Ayala and Unhurt by K.S. Thomas.

Great–both of them are in our Heroes to Swoon For Box Set. Do you set your books in the place you live?

My current WIP is actually set in St. Louis. The characters are definitely NOT my husband and me, but everything they do pretty much is. I’m kind of excited about this story, especially for my friends and family to read, because they’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

If a movie was made about your success as a writer, who would play you?

Well, there are actually talks of making Love is a Fire into a movie…more to come about that as things get firmed up!

That’s great news, Lyssa. I hope you’ll come back and tell us all about it. Now to get our boxed set out! Here’s to great success both with your writing, movie possibilities, and your life!

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About Lyssa:  Lyssa Layne is a blogger turned author after being inspired by Rachelle Ayala. She enjoys hot romances and loves to shock her readers right until the final page. Lyssa enjoys chasing after her two year-old-daughter, being a tourist in her own city, and anything involving peanut butter.

 

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Author Wednesday – Christoph Fischer

cropped-cropped-typewriter.jpgI welcome back Christoph Fischer, who is one of my favorite Indie Authors. What I love most about Christoph is his fearlessness in tackling difficult subjects in his novels. From the Holocaust to Alzheimers and now to mental illness, Christoph provides us with fiction to make us think and talk about those things we’d rather ignore, much to the detriment of the individual and society. His new release Conditions gives voice to the shame and secretiveness surrounding mental illness. The reality of ignoring diseases of the mind ends up making victims of more than just the person suffering from it. Book_marketing2-lrg

Synopsis of Conditions

When Charles’ and Tony’s mother dies, the estranged brothers must struggle to pick up the pieces, particularly because one of them is mentally challenged and the other bitter about his place within the family.

The conflict is drawn out over materialistic issues, but there are other underlying problems which go to the heart of what it means to be part of a family which, in one way or another, has cast one aside.
Prejudice, misconceptions, and the human condition in all forms feature in this contemporary drama revolving around a group of people who attend the subsequent funeral on the British South Coast.

Meet flamboyant gardener Charles, loner Simon, selfless psychic Elaine, narcissistic body-builder Edgar, Martha and her version of unconditional love, and many others as they try to deal with the event and its aftermath.

Christoph, thank you so much for stopping by today. Let’s talk about your new book. What messages or themes did you try to convey in Conditions?

My messages are common place:

You can choose your friends but not your family.
You’re not alone with your problems.
It’s OK to be different.

These are very important. What led you to chose them?

I grew up feeling different and consequently always associated with other ‘misfits’ and have – amongst others – befriended people with mental health issues. Conditions was my first novel, but fifth published, and therefore, a selection of oddball characters was a given. The funeral, the focal point for the story, is based on a situation I encountered personally, and which stayed with me for years after. It seemed the perfect scenario on which to center the story.

I didn’t realize this was your first novel. That’s interesting. I’m glad you finally came back to it. You mention an “oddball” assortment of characters in this book, so do you have a favorite one?

It has to be Elaine. A selfless psychic hairdresser with a Mother Earth caring nature and a relentless amount of time and energy for others. I know several people just like her, and I’m always amazed at how much these people get out of their lives by giving. These people inspire me greatly, and I feel Elaine has come together very well in this book. I have plans for a sequel in which she will feature even more.

She sounds like someone I’d love to meet. I know you also write historical fiction, but are you going to continue with contemporary works?

Although I love writing historical novels and my next book will be another one of those, it’s liberating to write contemporary fiction without restraints of historic facts and peculiarities of the times. My last book, Time To Let Go, was my first contemporary novel and was a bit of a surprise hit, so I’m definitely going to continue with both genres.

How did you choose the title? Has it been the title from the very beginning?

It came to me intuitively quite early. I’d been searching for a title once I was past the forty-page mark and realized it would be a complete novel. When the word Conditions came to my mind it felt right, and I saw how well it fit.

What is the best thing someone could say about this book?

That it has interesting and relatable characters and a positive message despite some moments of sadness and thoughtfulness.

Who is the antagonist in your book? Did you enjoy creating this character?

There are a few antagonists in the book, a money grabbing sister-in-law for one. I hate arguments and disliked writing those scenes. I was asked by my beta readers and editors to tone them down since I painted the “baddies” too harshly. I prefer to write balanced characters but that does not always work.

Without giving us a spoiler, tell us a little bit about your favorite scene in this book.

There is a party scene after the funeral. I went to my fair share of funerals in my youth and found them often oddly comforting and cheerful. Once the hard part is over people console each other and you are left with hope and acceptance. That often leads to laughter and in my book there is some of that.

If you could invite two other authors over to your house for dinner, who would you choose and why.

Christos Tsiolkas and Henning Mankell. They both are involved in a lot of projects and seem to have a perpetual drive of creativity and community.

What are you working on these days?

My next book is a historical novel about Finland, starting with its Civil War in 1918 and ending post World War II in 1950. It is about two Danish friends whose relationship is tested by war, politics, and love interests.

Thank you so much for stopping by today, Christoph. It’s always a pleasure when you visit.

922159_10151345337037132_1303709604_oAbout Christoph Fischer: Christoph was born in Germany, near the Austrian border, as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. Not a full local in the eyes and ears of his peers, he developed an ambiguous sense of belonging and home in Bavaria. He moved to Hamburg in pursuit of his studies and to lead a life of literary indulgence. After a few years, he moved on to the UK where he now lives in a small hamlet, not far from Bath. He and his partner have three Labradoodles to complete their family.

Christoph worked for the British Film Institute, in Libraries, Museums and for an airline. The Luck of The Weissensteiners was published in November 2012; Sebastian in May 2013 and The Black Eagle Inn in October 2013. In May 2014, he published his first contemporary novel Time To Let Go. Conditions was released in September 2014.

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