Glad you stopped by. I hope you'll stop by again for Monday Morning Musings, Meet the Author Thursday, Weekend Writing Warriors, and guests whenever they drop in.

Monday, June 27, 2016

How Long Does It Take?

How long does it take to write a book? That’s a question I’m often asked in interviews. It’s also a question I ask when interviewing an author. The simple answer is: as long as it takes. In reality, it’s a lot more complicated. I used to think the answer varied according to the writer. Some people are slow writers. Others can produce a novella (under 40,000 words or approximately 160 double-spaced pages) in a couple of weeks.

It also depends on the author’s outside-of-writing life—a job, young children, other demands on the writer’s time. I’m always amazed by the dedication of those writers who can balance family, outside job, and writing. Writers who rise at 4:30 a.m. to write for two hours before their regular day begins. Or who sacrifice sleep to write after the family has gone to bed.

I’m fortunate that I’m retired from outside jobs and have an understanding spouse. The only “demands” on my time are the grandchildren who don’t spend near enough time (according to moi) visiting. When they do, my writing is set aside. So why haven’t I finished the darn novella I started three years ago?

I’m more inclined to believe how long it takes to finish a book varies according to the book. Some stories won’t let go. And some are pains in the rear. The latter is the case with what was originally “Christmas in Space.” It started as a short story for The Roses of Prose 2014 holiday “anthology”—a month of short stories posted on the blog.

Turning a short story into a novella should be a piece of cake. Right? You have the basic plot. You have the characters. Easy? Wrong. Like many writers, I’ve discovered (the hard way) it is easier to start fresh than to rework a piece, whether it’s a novel or a short story. After three years, I am still working on this novella.

What’s wrong with me? The story? Not really any one specific thing. I’ve left it to write three full-length novels and two more holiday short stories as well as many, many blog posts. I’ve also “finished” it several times. Still, I wasn’t satisfied with the completed work.

Then I went to my local RWA chapter’s Retreat From Harsh Reality. In a previous post, I mentioned how our speaker Christie Craig told me what was wrong with this project. No, she hadn’t read my story. In one of her talks, she reminded me what I hadn’t done—delve deeply (or more deeply) into my main characters.

Did that ever spur me on. I thought I knew my characters. Since the story is told through one person’s point of view, I delved into her character. What I hadn’t considered (enough) was her second in command and her lover. Why would he devote eight years of his life to go on a one-way trip to a new planet? Was he a thrill seeker? Was he escaping a difficult life or event? Did he have pioneer spirit? Why would he leave everything and everyone forever? Was Marsh like Sara an only child whose parents were dead?

Answering those questions gave me a better handle on Marsh and, more importantly, the story. As much as I like action-adventure, I’d forgotten one important (the most important) aspect of my work. Character.

Going back to my original question. How long does it take to complete a story? How about as long as it takes the writer to remember the tenet of a good story. It’s the character, stupid.

Now retitled, Christmas in Paradise is the story of six astronauts embarking on the adventure of a lifetime. They are the hope for the future. Pioneers setting off to establish a new home for the inhabitants of an over-populated, depleted Earth.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Saturday Sampler: THE SUNDAY MAN by Toni V. Sweeney

Title: THE SUNDAY MAN (Book 5: Liam, in the McCoy Family Saga.)
Genre: 19th century romance, family saga
Author: Toni V. Sweeney
Publisher: Class Act Books
Release date: June 15, 2016


Class Act Books:  http://www.classactbooks.com/index.php/component/virtuemart/romance/the-sunday-man-detail?Itemid=0

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Sunday-Man-McCoy-Book-ebook/dp/B01H2O3PEO/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1466095545&sr=1-1&keywords=Toni+V+Sweeney

Amazon UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sunday-Man-McCoy-Book-ebook/dp/B01H2O3PEO/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1466098163&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Sunday+Man+by+Toni+V.+Sweeney

Amazon Fr:  https://www.amazon.fr/Sunday-Man-McCoy-Book-English-ebook/dp/B01H2O3PEO/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1466098340&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=Toni+V+Sweeney

Amazon De:  https://www.amazon.de/Sunday-Man-McCoy-Book-English-ebook/dp/B01H2O3PEO/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1466098428&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=Toni+V+Sweeney

FACEBOOK LINK: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10154330318766108&set=a.102286001107.90612.613616107&type=3&theater


Like his uncle Padraig, Liam McCoyh is the black sheep of the McColy family’s third generation.  Unlike his uncle, he has no intention to change. Being the owner of some questionable businesses suits him just fine.

Unfortunately Liam never fully recovered from the shoot-out saving his cousin’s life, and if he doesn’t change his way of living soon…he may not be living much longer.

When his father demands he return to Ireland, Liam has to again become the gentleman he was raised to be. A devastating rainstorm and a spirited Irish lass will definitely change the way he thinks about a lot of things.


He couldn’t believe it. Liam clutched the letter, his fingers crushing it into a ruined ball as he stared at the ceiling. Everything blurred and he realized his eyes were filled with tears.

“Are you all right?” Siobhan gave him a few moments alone to read his letter before she came in.

He didn’t answer, simply shook his head and looked away, blinking rapidly.

“Liam? What’s happened? What did the note say?” She reached for it.

“That’s none of your business.” He jerked it away, holding it so she couldn’t touch it.

“I think it is.” She didn’t attempt to take the letter again, however. “You’re upset, and if that affects your recovery…”

“Just leave me alone,” he interrupted.  He didn’t tell her he was more angry than hurt, that he, Liam McCoy, who’d always been so careful not to form any emotional  attachments, had finally found someone he could really care for…and she’d tossed him aside. He was too sharp to be captured…and now, the one woman to whom he’d told he might love if she wished it, had jilted him, because of something he couldn’t control, because he was ill. I’m this way because of you. I left your bed and rode into the rain and that’s why you’ve deserted me?

Injured masculine pride stung.

Toni V. Sweeney has lived 30 years in the South, a score in the Middle West, and a decade on the Pacific Coast and now she’s trying for her second 30 on the Great Plains. 

Since the publication of her first novel in 1989, Toni divides her time between writing speculative romantic fiction and dark fantasy under her own name and romances under her pseudonym, Icy Snow Blackstone. In 2013, she became publicity manager for Class Act Books (US) and also Double Dragon Publishing (Canada. 2013 - 2016). She is also on the review staff of the New York Journal of Books, is a "Top 10" reviewer for Goodreads, and has been named a Professional Reader by netgalley.com. With the publication of The Sunday Man, She currently has fifty-two novels in print. Two more series are waiting in the wings to begin release this fall.

Learn more about Toni at her webpage at: https://www.facebook.com/tvsweeney  and also at twitter @ToniVSweeney.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Who's For Dinner with Pamela S. Thibodeaux

In an interview earlier this year, the question of having any author for dinner was asked and my answer was the same then as it is now….

Nora Roberts!

I met Ms. Roberts at a writers conference in the early 1990’s and have admired her ever since. Her advice, instruction and encouragement back then spurred my desire to write and her gift for storytelling has kept me entertained and inspired to date.

After the initial smoozing and flattery over appetizers we’d get down to some serious conversation. I’d love to know how she keeps creating dynamic stories, over and over and what her formula for success is. I’ve heard it said that she doesn’t believe in writer’s block or any of the other excuses we sometimes use to procrastinate, so I’d like to know how she copes when stuff happens and life just plain gets in the way of writing.

But more than the typical Q&A session, I’d love to have a normal conversation with the woman who has touched lives and impacted hearts the world over for so many years. I picture her as a warm, caring individual with depths of compassion and people skills and would enjoy discovering what qualities she looks for in a friend, does she have insecurities despite her success, what dreams haven’t been fulfilled yet and other such information best friends would share.

One of my dreams is to visit Boonsboro, MD one day. Hopefully Nora and I will run into each other and maybe, with a little time to spare and share, we’ll sit down for a cup of coffee and a gab session.

Title: Circles of Fate

Blurb: Set at the tail end of the Vietnam War era, Circles of Fate takes the reader from Fort Benning, Georgia to Thibodaux, Louisiana. A romantic saga, this gripping novel covers nearly twenty years in the lives of Shaunna Chatman and Todd Jameson. Constantly thrown together and torn apart by fate, the two are repeatedly forced to choose between love and duty, right and wrong, standing on faith or succumbing to the world’s viewpoint on life, love, marriage and fidelity. With intriguing twists and turns, fate brings together a cast of characters whose lives will forever be entwined. Through it all is the hand of God as He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

Purchase Links:
Create Space: http://bit.ly/1qRN3cb
Smashwords: http://bit.ly/136qK7n

Author bio: Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”

Website address: http://www.pamelathibodeaux.com  
Twitter: http://twitter.com/psthib @psthib
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1jUVcdU

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Interview with Joan of Arc

My friend and fellow Michigander Rohn Federbush has brought someone special, an historic figure and main character in her book, St. Joan's Architect.

Let's get started. 
Please introduce yourself for those who haven’t met you in your author’s other books.
You mean you haven’t heard of me, Joan of Arc? I was made a saint in 1920, but the French hardly recognize my contribution to their existence. The Lord sent me on a mission to rid France of the English.

Tell us about your family.
My mother, Romee, was instrumental in garnering support for my cannonization. My father, however, wanted to drown me when I started riding horses and refused to marry the neighbor’s boy. My cousins road beside me in the war against the English but died valiantly on the battlefield.

How did your upbringing influence who you are today?
My religious zeal started early. We lived next to the village church. When I was thirteen my Voices, St. Michael, St. Catherine and St. Margaret, appeared to me as they were painted on the walls of the church. They agreed with me that the English who were pillaging the neighborhood needed to leave France.

What was your first thought when you met the hero and heroine?
I found a perfect person to haunt. Catherine Marksteiner was a young architectural student visiting Mont Saint Michel. Some people believe I hid on the Mont for four months before the English captured me. Romee’s father had the funds and contacts necessary for constructing the Dome of St. Joan on the empty western platform of St. Michael’s church.

Why did you select them?
The French were forgetting my contribution to their history. I tried haunting authors who loved me, like Mark Twain and Bernard Shaw; but my fame was dwindling. I finally decided an amazing structure added to the Mont might bring more tourists and pilgrims to a clearer understanding of my life and my infamous death.

Why did you choose your occupation?
I agree with you. I even asked my Voices how I, a poor peasant girl, could save France. But the Lord’s ways are not easily understood by humans. Sometimes you just know, you are the only one who sees the picture clearly enough to be of any help to anyone. Isn’t that why you are a writer? You know more than you can even explain to me that you can be of service if you only believe that’s why you were made to visit earth.

What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
I believe. Trusting the Lord slipped a bit when I needed to face the fire, but I regained my belief before the first flame touched my toes. Have you read my trial, where I recanted? I was the first Protestant you know.

What is the biggest hurdle you had to overcome?
Convincing others I had no other goal except to restore France to its citizens. Very few people believe I heard my Voices, do you?

If your story was made into a movie, who would you want to play you?
With all the controversy about gender identification, which I faced too all those years ago, I think a young man would do just as well as a virginal damsel. I smote the English as much as I could, telling them I would bring them down from the clouds if need be—not a feminine attribute, stuely.

Do I have any hobbies?
I like to inhabit the dreams of young girls to verify they can accomplish anything they believe in. It takes most of my free time, don’t you know.

A free day?
Probably pick a few flowers to grace the graves of my comrades in arms. Or run with my steeds in the Elysian fields of heaven.
Thank you very much for chatting with us today. Now we'd like to know more about your story.
A fledgling architect, Catherine Marksteiner's graduation trip to Mont- Saint-Michel includes a visit from St. Joan's ghost. Catherine is not sure who is rendering the intricate drawings but she's fallen in love with the island and wants to marry the artist who sketches her. He's already engaged, but his smitten cousin Romee is ready to offer his father's shipping fortune and Vatican connections as well as his hand in marriage.

Catherine’s Dream
            Catherine looked closely at the gigantic pink diamond ring on her left hand. Inside its intricate facets she could see hanging gardens, festooned arches and blue butterflies floating within its boundaries. Catherine settled softly down with a few of the butterflies to the grassy floor of the dreamscape, where a young girl picked flowers for wreaths and garlands to hang on the branches of a sacred beech tree. Sweet orisons wafted through the air. Catherine recognized the gentle maid who became the champion of France.
            “Joan of Arc,” she called.

Available at Amazon: https://amzn.com/1489707751

About the Author:
Born on a farm in southern Illinois, Rohn Federbush finished her Masters of Arts in 1995 from Eastern Michigan University of Ypsilanti. She started writing full time after retiring as an administrator of the University of Michigan’s Applied Physics PhD. Program. Finishing fifteen novels without finding traditional publishers motivated Rohn to self-publish many of her award-winning books. St. Joan’s Architect was a finalist in the Heart of the West 2001 RWA Utah Contest. Presently she is editing her memoir-novel entitled Home from the Woods, which mentions her present husband, two sons, one granddaughter and one grandson.
Other books by Rohn Federbush:
St. Joan’s Architect on Mont Saint Michel
Hastings’ Dead 
The Farm Stray, Mysteries of the Macabre
In Lincoln’s Shadow

Monday, June 20, 2016

Father's Day

Yesterday, people in the U.S. celebrated Dads. I celebrated the day I knew my blind date was going to be my husband. We’d had two dates and were going to go on our third. I stopped at home to wish my dad a happy day, and I remember telling him how special this guy was. Turns out I was right. He is special.

On my friend Lucy Kubash’s blog last Friday, she talked about how she and her husband have stayed together for forty-four years. Almost as long as Hubs and I have been married. She says “you can’t go through 44 years without a lot of ups and downs…” Isn’t that the truth!

Living with the same person for that many years takes work. We’ve had our share of health scares, financial worries, and a myriad of nitpicky problems that at the time seemed enormous but in hindsight were mere blips on the road to happiness. I can truthfully say, the good times far outweighed the difficult ones.

They say opposites attract. And that’s true with us. He’s the engineer, the science guy, Mr. Fix-It, a DIY expert. I’m more into the arts. He’s patient and calm while I’m short-tempered and excitable. While he is quiet in large groups, he learned more about my uncles in an afternoon than I did my whole life. He’s an only child. I’m the oldest of seven. You could count on one hand his relatives. I need a calculator to count mine.

We grew up in a time when parents did little for their kids at school or with sports. Our folks went to school if there were problems. They didn’t go to our activities. We talk today about “helicopter parents.” Imagine the opposite. That was our parents. So we didn’t have anything to imitate. We became involved at school and outside activities because it seemed like the right thing to do. Foreign territory for Hubs. Not so much for me as a former teacher. But he did it in his quiet way.

One of the things that drove me crazy when our kids were young was his not telling them they couldn’t do something. Instead, he got them to lay out all the pros and cons and come to their own conclusions. A far better and more lasting lesson than just saying “no.”

The best testament to Hubs came from his daughters yesterday on Facebook. Our daughter wrote about her dad and her husband: “I'm grateful for two amazing dads who are willing to share their wisdom, their humor, their patience, and their geekiness with their kids!”

Our daughter-in-law wrote: “You raised a wonderful son and taught him how to be an awesome father and husband! It's clear he had an amazing role model!”

So here’s to my husband, my best friend, and the best father. As I write in the acknowledgements in my books: How glad I am that our friends fixed us up on that blind date!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Saturday Sampler: #free LEAP INTO THE KNIGHT by M.J. Schiller

Free LAST DAY on Amazon only June 19th
$1.99 on other venues.

Blurb ~
Sir Darius Lee is a Knight of the High Order.
But when Darius discovers a stranger in his room in the middle of the night, and the intruder turns out to be a beautiful woman, he begins to question how he is meant to live his life.

Princess Megan of Bethyea is being held captive.
But when two knights help her to escape and bring her back to her home planet, she finds the home she knew no longer exists.

When The Council of Twelve questions Darius about his relationship with Maggie, she tries to flee from The Academy of the High Order to prevent him from losing his knighthood.

Will Darius and Orion find Maggie before she leaves Albion? And if they do, how can they face the decision of The Council? And what about the feelings Orion has developed for the princess?

Excerpt ~
Orion couldn’t believe it. He’d been bested by a girl. Confident when he saw her rising, dripping from the pool, he’d hidden behind a wide oak. He didn’t want to frighten her again, so he had jumped out, intending to calmly subdue her. Then the moonlight had spilled over her as she’d risen out of the water, revealing fair skin, wide eyes. Even her disheveled appearance couldn’t disguise her attractiveness. He couldn’t help but notice that the wet fabric she wore clung in all the right places. Her curly hair dripped, made darker by the water, framing her striking face. She had nice cheek bones, a pert nose, and mesmerizing eyes. Distracted by these thoughts, he hadn’t been prepared for what happened next. He expected her to stop, realizing she was caught. But instead he saw a blur of trees and sky and grass. When his master had run past, tossing a teasing comment in his direction, Orion had felt like a complete failure. Winded, he lay there, staring up at the night sky and briefly contemplating the mistakes he had made and how he would avoid making more in the future. There had to be a way to redeem himself in his master’s eyes.

Links ~


And if you enjoyed LEAP INTO THE KNIGHT, you may want to follow the further adventures of Orion, Darius, and Princess Megan in Book Two-LADY OF THE KNIGHT, and Book Three-A KNIGHT TO REMEMBER!

Bio ~
M.J. Schiller is a lunch lady/romance-romantic suspense writer. She enjoys writing novels whose characters include rock stars, desert princes, teachers, futuristic Knights, construction workers, cops, and a wide variety of others. In her mind everybody has a romance. She is the mother of a twenty-year-old and three eighteen-year-olds. That's right, triplets! So having recently taught four children to drive, she likes to escape from life on occasion by pretending to be a rock star at karaoke. However…you won’t be seeing her name on any record labels soon.


Friday, June 17, 2016

Who's For Dinner with Patricia Kiyono

I love to share meals with friends and colleagues, so when Diane invited me to put together an all-star guest list for a make-believe dinner party, I jumped on board. But then I started working on this post. I could invite anyone, real or fictional, living or deceased. That’s a HUGE pool. Where would I start?

I like to laugh. I figure every party needs entertainment, so I’ll invite some clever people. I think Tina Fey is funny, and so is Jeff Foxworthy. Both of them have unique outlooks on life, and manage to express themselves eloquently without using a lot of foul language. Between the two of them we’ll all have a great time.

But two other entertainers I’ve always enjoyed are Jimmy Stewart and George Burns. I think they appealed to me because they seemed so much like regular people rather than movie stars.

I also enjoy meeting other authors. I like to find out what inspires them, especially those who have written several series of related books. I’ve devoured most of Debbie Macomber’s books, as well as Robyn Carr’s. I actually had the pleasure of meeting Robyn Carr at the Chicago Spring Fling conference last month and really enjoyed her sessions. I think it would be awesome to be able to speak one-on-one with both ladies.

Since I’m a musician, I want to be sure there’s good music. I’d love to meet Sir James Galway and his wife Lady Jeanne. Both are incredible flute players and I’d be honored if they would agree to play for us as an after-dinner treat.

Of course, I need to have my friends there, too! Writer friends, sewing friends, scrapbooking friends, school friends….hmm. I might need to stretch this out into a week-long event!

Putting together a major event is the task Rose Sheffield takes on in Searching for Lady Luck. She doesn’t have the luxury of inviting celebrities, but the town welcomes all the visitors and pitches in to help. https://amzn.com/B00JZCDY3Y

Do you like large events, or do you prefer smaller, more intimate gatherings?

During her first career, Patricia Kiyono taught elementary music, computer classes, elementary classrooms, and junior high social studies. She now teaches music education at the university level. She lives in southwest Michigan with her husband, not far from her five children, nine grandchildren (so far), and great-granddaughters. Current interests, aside from writing, include sewing, crocheting, scrapbooking, and music. A love of travel and an interest in faraway people inspires her to create stories about different cultures.

Author links:
Patricia Kiyono can be found at her website, blog, and Amazon author page. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Meet Author Karen Wardamasky Borrow

Please welcome author Karen Wardamasky Borrow. Karen's written a book that I should write some day. The story of how my family came to America.

Hi, Karen. Please tell us about yourself.

I am a mother and grandmother, but I am also a child who never took the time to sit down with my father to hear about his past because I was too preoccupied with my own life. Then one day I looked at him and saw a tired old man with little time left on this earth. I decided to have that conversation, but it was too late. His memories were gone.

After he passed away, I became the daughter who would not let his death prevent me from discovering his story. With the help of diaries and letters I found among my father’s belongings, I began to learn about the ten years he spent in the Soviet Union.

Later, I discovered correspondences between the State Department, American Embassy and my family stored at the National Archives. I followed the winding trail of clues he left behind as well as uncovered my own as I sought to determine what happened to his family so many years ago after they left their home in New Jersey and later tried to return.

I am telling this story not only for my father but also to encourage other children to have that discussion with their parents and grandparents before their memories disappear.

What a great reason to tell your story, Karen. Where can readers find you?

Now we want to hear about your book.

On a December evening in 1931, a twelve year old boy leaves his familiar life behind as he and his family sail out of New York Harbor on the first leg of their journey to the Soviet Union. His immigrant parents left their New Jersey home because they had been lured by the promises of plentiful jobs in their homeland.

Years later that boy would tell his children a few stories about his youth, but he never discussed the details. No one asked how his family traveled to the Soviet Union to escape the Great Depression or what it was like to return alone just months before the United States became involved World War II.

After his death, his daughter began to piece together the puzzle of her father’s life. She made it her mission to learn what horrors his family suffered in Russia and the role he played in bringing them home. Genealogy research was the key to unlocking the story of her unusual family history.

Do Svidanya Dad” is the story of that boy—Marty—written by his daughter, Karen. It means “until we meet again.”


Marty’s dreams of becoming a doctor were shattered by the sound of a loud knock on the classroom door. No one spoke. Each student was fearful of being snatched from the classroom by the uniformed officer of the secret police who interrupted the lesson. One minute Marty was peering through the eye of his microscope in biology class, and the next, he was pulled from class and issued an ultimatum: renounce your American citizenship and become a Soviet citizen or leave school.
While his family never intended to stay in Russia permanently, Marty expected to live there until he completed his education and then return to New Jersey as an American citizen educated abroad. That could no longer happen. His life story, penned in his imagination, suddenly had to be rewritten and the characters recast.
When he and his five siblings refused to become Russian citizens, they were exiled from Leningrad and forcibly resettled in Novgorod. They immediately began planning their exodus from Russia. They needed to secure travel documents from the embassy and find enough funds to pay for their transportation home. Raising the money would take time. They found employment in Novgorod and wrote to their friends back in New Jersey asking for financial assistance.
One year later, Marty found himself peering out the window of the Trans-Siberian Railway as it chugged across the barren expanses of the Soviet Union. Ten years after leaving New Jersey, he was finally returning home, but this time he was alone.
Marty was not afraid to travel by himself, but his stomach churned with uncertainty and guilt at having abandoned his family. His face drained of color when he learned that he was the only one in his family permitted to leave Russia. Anxious conversations and gut-wrenching soul-searching resulted in the final decision. There would be more opportunities to secure the others’ return to the United States once Marty was safely home rather than from within the confines of the Soviet Union. He could not look back or continue to carry the burden of guilt.
He took a deep breath and surveyed his surroundings. The train was brimming with Jewish refugees–men, women, and children–many escaping Poland after the Germans stormed into their country during the autumn of 1939. Some were also traveling solo, separated from the security and companionship of their families.
As endless forests of pine trees whipped past him, he couldn’t help thinking how he, a young man from New Jersey, ended up alone on a train in the Soviet Union. Before the move halfway around the world, he had been a happy twelve-year-old boy who loved to caddie at the local golf course and play street games in the neighborhood.
Back then he lived on a quiet street in the small town of Rockaway where the biggest news in town was the annual Halloween pranks or the arrest of someone’s dad for making moonshine in his basement. Oh, how he longed for those days now!
After the stock market crash, his father lost his job at the steel mill, but his parents were skillful at concealing their troubles. Pa found odd jobs around town, and his twin sisters, Nancy and Helen, went to work at the hosiery mill with his uncle Mark.
Marty heard the tales of families who lost their homes and of children in tattered clothes forced to beg for food in the streets. But this did not happen to his family, so he was shocked when his parents announced their intentions to sell their house and move to Russia. The explanation was that the Soviet Union, unlike most of the world, was isolated from the effects of the Great Depression. Jobs were plentiful there, and his parents had family back in “the old country.”
There was no arguing with his mother and fatherjust sad acceptance by Marty and his five siblings. Within months, his parents sold their house, and they made arrangements to move in December.
Marty wondered how different their lives would be if they never left Rockaway. He would have a job, his sisters might be married, and he could be an uncle by now, but he could not dwell on what may have been. All he could do now was to focus on getting home to New Jersey and then helping his family join him there. The enormity of the task was overwhelming, but he was determined to succeed.
The compartment Marty rode in consisted of a long narrow corridor down the middle, with clusters of wooden bunk beds on each side of the aisle–two upper and two lower. Military officers patrolled the train, constantly pulling the window shades down whenever they felt the view needed to be concealed.
What could they be hiding, wondered Marty, but he could not waste time on useless speculation. He needed to concentrate on planning what to do once he arrived in Japan, where he would board a ship for the next leg of his journey home.
Every day Marty found himself lost in his thoughts as he stared out the window at the ever-changing landscape. It was hypnotic. Many of the men on the train passed the time playing chess with each other. Marty was happy for the diversion and companionship.
One day, his spell was broken by the excited cries of the passengers as they passed Lake Baikal. This lake, the oldest and deepest in the world, was reminiscent of the ocean which Marty recalled from the journey to the Soviet Union. So much had happened since then–the worst being the death of his brother.
He closed his eyes and recalled that December day in 1931 when his family left their carefree world in New Jersey behind them. None of them realized how much their lives would change.

Thanks for sharing your story, Karen. Wishing you all the best.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Cover Reveal: Self-Help 101 or How to Survive a Bombardment With Minimal Injury by L.G. Keltner

Title: Self-Help 101 or: How to Survive a Bombardment With Minimal Injury
Author: L.G. Keltner
Genre: YA/holiday/humor
Length: 25,000 words
Cover Art: L.G. Keltner and Jamon Walker
Release Date: June 28, 2016


Dani Finklemeier has self-published her guide to taking over the world, but she still isn’t rich.  Now she’s eighteen, still babysitting for money, and looking forward to starting college in the fall.

Of course, she has to survive a 4th of July outing with her family first.  That’s a challenging prospect considering she has to be in close proximity with a group of cousins known as The Fallible Four.  As if that weren’t enough, she also has to deal with the fallout of her parents learning more about her relationship with her boyfriend Seth than she ever wanted them to know.

The good news is that, if she survives this holiday, she’ll have plenty of material for another self-help book.


L.G. Keltner spends most of her time trying to write while also cleaning up after her crazy but wonderful kids and hanging out with her husband.  Her favorite genre of all time is science fiction, and she’s been trying to write novels since the age of six.  Needless to say, those earliest attempts weren’t all that good. 

Her non-writing hobbies include astronomy and playing Trivial Pursuit.

You can typically find L.G. lurking around her blog, on Twitter, or on her Facebook page.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Orlando Tragedy

I didn't turn on the news yesterday until 11pm. So horrifying. My heart goes out to everyone touched by another senseless shooting rampage.

In light of that, my previous post must seem thoughtless. Or heartless. Definitely the former. Prayers for our country. Some people staunchly defend the right to bear arms. But weapons in the hands of the mentally ill, the deranged, the fanatics? How do we defend that? Is it worth it?

My Turn at #ParanormalRomantics

Last week, I redirected you to a blog I was visiting. This week, it's my turn to post on Paranormal Romantics blog. I hope you'll pop over there and see what I have to say about Science Fiction Romance. SFR captured my heart long ago. And it still has me in its clutches.

Did you stop by last Friday? I started a new theme Who's For Dinner. My visitors will tell you who they'd invite for dinner--real or fictional, living or dead. I started with Joss Whedon. Stop by this Friday to see who Patricia Kiyono would love to have dinner with.

Until next time, have a great week. Some flowers in my garden.