Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Children’s author Cheryl Malandrinos to be a Guest on A Book and A Chat

Children’s author Cheryl Malandrinos to be a Guest on A Book and A Chat


Cheryl C. Malandrinos, author of Little Shepherd, will be a special guest on the popular Blogtalkradio show, A Book and A Chat with Storyheart.

Join Storyheart at 11 AM Eastern on Saturday, December 4, 2010 for A Book and A Chat sit down with children’s author Cheryl C. Malandrinos. You can listen online at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/Across-the-Pond  and call in your questions to 347- 237-5398.

Malandrinos’ picture book, Little Shepherd has hit the Amazon bestseller’s list in the Large Print Children’s Books category four times since its release.

Here is what reviewers are saying about Little Shepherd:

“It's a great book for families during the holidays looking to bring more depth and understanding to the standard nativity story.”

--Christy’s World of Books

“Little Shepherd is a great Christmas story for children between the ages of 4-8 that inspires faith and trust in something that cannot be seen, but can be felt in the heart and in the soul. This book would make a great addition to any Christmas collection as well as in any religious setting.”

--The Crypto-Capers Review

“Your first reaction may be, oh goodness another story on the birth of Christ. Toss those thoughts away and immerse yourself and your children into the magical arrival of Christ the Lord. Children’s author, Cheryl C. Malandrinos has re-explored and created a beautiful re-enactment of Christ the Lord’s birth in a unique and awe inspiring rendition which surely will become classical reading in Christian religious school studies and home libraries.

The old time illustrations expertly created by illustrator, Eugene Ruble will leave you feeling that you journeyed through the countryside with Obed and his fellow shepherds.”

--Donna McDine, award-winning author of The Golden Pathway

Cheryl Malandrinos is a freelance writer, online book publicist, blogger and reviewer. She is a founding member of Musing Our Children and Editor in Chief of the group’s quarterly newsletter, Pages & Pens. Little Shepherd is her first book.


Visit Cheryl online at http://ccmalandrinos.com

Storyheart (Barry Eva) is the author of the YA romance novel, “Across the Pond” and the host of the popular Blogtalkradio show, A Book and A Chat.


You’ll find Storyheart online at http://acrossthepond-storyheart.blogspot.com/.

Contact information:

Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Email: cg20pm00@gmail.com

Website: http://ccmalandrinos.com/

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Product Review: Qwik Shower Gym Class Wipes


Now that I have two active girls, I need to consider ways to stop body odor before it becomes too overwhelming. One of our daughters has  matured over the past couple of years and body odor is an issue if she doesn't shower every night. 

Does she want to shower every night? No, so I need something that will make life easier on both of us.

When I was asked to review Quik Shower Gym Class Wipes, I hopped at the chance.

My daughter and I love these things!

They come individually wrapped so that they don't dry out. The packages are a great size so they can be tucked even in a small purse, which is fabulous because I don't carry the kitchen sink with me when I go out.

These large wipes are durable and leave behind a fresh scent for those times when you need to freshen up quickly. Though I tend not to like scented products because of my allergies, I didn't have any trouble with Quik Shower Gym Class Wipes, and they did not irritate my daughter's sensitive skin. Unlike body sprays, they do not emit fluorocarbons into the air. And let's face it, all those sprays do is cover up body odor; Quik Shower Gym Class Wipes get rid of it. Although they are marketed as gym class wipes, they can be used by anyone. They are perfect for campers, hikers, and joggers, and are great for quick clean-ups and to refresh you during strenuous activities.

If you purchase Quik Shower Gym Class Wipes from their website found at http://qwikshower.com/index.php, then shipping is free. They are also willing to work with organizations on fundraising efforts.

Schools and individuals will be swiping up Quik Shower Gym Class Wipes fast, so be sure to pick some up right now! I'm sure going to stock up.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Author Spotlight: James Livingston and Arsenic and Clam Chowder


Arsenic and Clam Chowder recounts the sensational 1896 murder trial of Mary Alice Livingston, a member of one of the most prestigious families in New York, who was accused of murdering her own mother, Evelina Bliss. The bizarre instrument of death, an arsenic-laced pail of clam chowder, had been delivered to the victim by her ten-year-old granddaughter, and Livingston was arrested in her mourning clothes immediately after attending her mother’s funeral. In addition to being the mother of four out-of-wedlock children, the last born in prison while she was awaiting trial, Livingston faced the possibility of being the first woman to be executed in New York’s new-fangled electric chair, and all these lurid details made her arrest and trial the central focus of an all-out circulation war then underway between Joseph Pulitzer’s World and Randolph Hearst’s Journal.

The story is set against the electric backdrop of Gilded Age Manhattan. The arrival of skyscrapers, automobiles, motion pictures, and other modern marvels in the 1890s was transforming urban life with breathtaking speed, just as the battles of reformers against vice, police corruption, and Tammany Hall were transforming the city’s political life. The aspiring politician Teddy Roosevelt, the prolific inventor Thomas Edison, bon vivant Diamond Jim Brady, and his companion Lillian Russell were among Gotham’s larger-than-life personalities, and they all played cameo roles in the dramatic story of Mary Alice Livingston and her arsenic-laced clam chowder. In addition to telling a ripping good story, the book addresses a number of social and legal issues, among them capital punishment, equal rights for women, societal sexual standards, inheritance laws in regard to murder, gender bias of juries, and the meaning of “beyond a reasonable doubt."

Watch the Trailer!




Read the Reviews!

“A sensational story, packed with twists and fascinating revelations. The murder trial of Mary Alice sheds unexpected light on the Gilded Age, and in the future will make us all think twice about clam chowder.”

–Eric Homberger, author of Mrs. Astor’s New York: Money and Social Power in a Gilded Age


“…this is a book that should interest readers beyond historians of the 19th century, journalism, feminism, the death penalty, or simply racy historical scandals. It belongs on library shelves, but should also prove fascinating reading for general readers who might enjoy a window into an age not as different from ours as we might think.”

–Dr. Wesley Britton, Bookpleasures.com

“Arsenic and Clam Chowder is a great read, not just for murder buffs, but for anyone interested in the vibrant years that ended the 19th Century—a time that seems distant and foreign, yet somehow quite familiar. It also raises serious questions on the legal concept of “reasonable doubt”, and answers them with intelligence and candor.”

–Murder by Gaslight

"So engaging that it reads more like a novel, Arsenic and Clam Chowder, is an impartial true crime story that brings the reader from that fateful day in August 1895, through Mary Alice's trial, and into a discussion of reasonable doubt. A distant cousin of Mary Alice and her family, Livingston's account is well-researched and throughly detailed, providing the reader with a glimpse into the Gilded Age in New York, capturing the headlines of the day, the industrial advances, and the society into which Mary Alice was born and lived...If you love true crime novels, you'll definitely want to pick up a copy of Arsenic and Clam Chowder by James D. Livingston!"

--The Book Connection

"If you enjoy true crime and true history then I highly recommend this book! It's very detailed and thoroughly researched. I found the whole story utterly fascinating! The author did a fabulous job of research and putting it all together"

--Life in Review

"Arsenic and Clam Chowder is a mystery and yet true story, filled with rich and vibrant characters, a solid plot, and a court room drama that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the final verdict. A stellar read!"

--Minding Spot

"I highly recommend Arsenic and Clam Chowder to mystery and true crime fans, as well as to discussion groups as there is so much to debate to pass on this book."

--Rundpinne

"Arsenic and Clam Chowder provides a fascinating window into Gilded Age America, from its politics and justice system to its social standards and mass media. The writing style is an easy-to-follow narrative that even the general reader will enjoy. If you enjoy true-crime stories and urban history at the turn of the twentieth century, this book is for you! Fans of women's history will not be disappointed."

--A Few More Pages

Born June 23, 1930, in Brooklyn, New York, James D. Livingston studied engineering physics at Cornell University and received a PhD in applied physics from Harvard University in 1956. After retiring from General Electric after a lengthy career as a research physicist, he taught in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT. Although a physicist by profession, he has long had a strong interest in American history, and is the coauthor, with Sherry H. Penney, of A Very Dangerous Woman: Martha Wright and Women’s Rights.


You can find out more about James and Arsenic and Clam Chowder at www.jamesdlivingston.net.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Author Spotlight: Mike Manos and God's Poor


The sudden deaths of pregnant women rock the world. A deadly virus causes world panic. A dangerous heresy reemerges from the misty past. The Catholic and Orthodox Christian Churches face an unknown enemy. Mossant reveals dangerous secrets that threaten religious foundations. The quest for immortality leads to the first Jerusalem and incredible revelations. Finally an earthquake produced by HAARP gives a temporary solution.

Read the excerpt!
MADRID

Jesus said,” Know what is in front of your face and what is hidden from you will be disclosed to you. For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed.”
Gospel of Thomas, 5

Jorje Matanas woke up abruptly. His silky purple pajamas were soaked in sweat even though the climate control of his mansion kept the temperature steady at 21 Celsius all year round.

The dream seemed to him alive. He was inside a low stone cottage. In front of him stood an ascetic elongated monk of undeterminable age, dressed with a dark blue hooded cassock fastened around his waist with a rope. On the center of his cassock there was a white symbol, like a cross but with the upper line replaced by a circle. The monk had a light white beard, black charcoal eyes and hollow cheeks, like a figure painted by El Greco. A milky white light filled the cottage. A force pushed Matanas on his knees and he kissed the monk’s bare toes. The monk put his right hand on Matanas’ head and his caved voice echoed inside his mind.

“Welcome, my brother. I was waiting for you.”

The soft ring of the phone found Matanas sitting in the middle of the bed trying to get over the dream. He picked up the phone.

“Senor?” the old butler’s voice was heard on the other end of the line.
“What is it, Juan?”

“Senior, it is 6 in the morning and I ask you to forgive me. A monk is here and he insists that he has an appointment with you now. What should I do?”

Matanas was shaken and nearly dropped the phone. “Take him to the living room. I will be there in a minute.” Still soaked in sweat, he went to the bath off his bedroom, washed his face and neck, and wiped himself with a white towel monogrammed in dark blue thread with his initials. He took a silk burgundy robe from his closet, slid his feet into the matching slippers to the side of the door, and made his way down the marble staircase .On the ground floor he went to the open, hand-carved wooden door with its four impressive gold emblems and entered the huge royal living room, sumptuously decorated with thick blue-white rugs, red velvet sofas and heavy chandeliers.

A short, skinny monk with a long white beard stood next to the low marble table close to the door. He wore a plain grey hooded cassock fastened at the waist with a rope. Matanas was shocked when he saw on the left side of the cassock the white symbol of his dream.

He approached the monk and gave him a handshake, trying to hide his impatience. He was surprised that although the monk looked very old, his grip was quite strong. The monk smiled at Matanas.

“God is merciful. I am Friar Jose from the order of the Pure. Theophilus, our guide, sends me. You have already met him,” he said in a way that made Matanas shiver.

“But how?” Matanas whispered. “What’s happening?”

“Don’t ask. He is waiting for you. The flight for Salonica is scheduled for 10 a.m. You must not say a word to anyone about where you are going. There you will visit the Ministry of Northern Greece, where you will get a permit to visit Mount Athos, the Holy Mountain. You will arrive there by boat from Ouranoupolis. They will wait for you. Don’t bring anything with you, just some money for the trip and your passport.”

The monk paused and handed Matanas a small open grey envelope with the same white symbol on its left side. “All the instructions are written inside the envelope,” he continued. “God have mercy, my brother.”

The monk turned and walked towards the door. Matanas followed him, looking puzzled.

“But I don’t understand,” he stuttered. “I have to leave today at 10 a.m. for Salonica?”

The monk stood at the entrance to the living room. The old butler appeared to be trying to button his jacket. Without turning his head, the monk spoke again. “He is waiting for you tomorrow, you know that. Don’t delay.” He walked to the door without saying anything else.

Read more here: http://www.buybooksontheweb.com/peek.aspx?id=5140

PURCHASE YOUR COPY OF GOD'S POOR HERE!

Mike Manos is professor of Economics and a scholar of History and archaeology. He is also a poet and a freelance writer.

God’s Poor is his first novel.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Giveaway for The Guise of a Gentleman by Donna Hatch at Linda Weaver Clarke's Blog

I know it's been a while since I posted one of these, but I promise, if you check Linda Weaver Clarke's blog on a regular basis you'll find new giveaways.

This week she interviewed Donna Hatch, author of the romance novel, The Guise of a Gentleman. This book had gotten some great reviews on Amazon, so be sure to check those out by clicking the link above.

I love the cover art on this book: the forelorn woman on the shore, the kissing couple, the Jolly Roger in the corner behind the ship--nicely done.

The widowed Elise is a perfect English lady living within the confines of society for the sake of her impressionable young son. Her quiet world is shattered when she meets the impulsive and scandalous Jared Amesbury. His roguish charm awakens her yearning for freedom and adventure. But his irrepressible grin and sea-green eyes hide a secret.

But his irrepressible grin and sea-green eyes hide a secret. A gentleman by day, a pirate by night, Jared accepts one last assignment before he can be truly free. Elise gives him hope that he, too, can find love and belonging. His hopes are crushed when his best laid plans go awry and Elise is dragged into his world of violence and deceit. She may not survive the revelation of Jared’s past…or still love him when the truth is revealed.

If you visit Donna's website, you'll be able to read an excerpt from the book. You can find her at http://donnahatch.net/index.htm.

The giveaway is running at Linda's blog until November 22nd, so you need to hurry on over there. Residents of the United States and Canada will receive a paperback copy and International readers will receive a digital copy.

Visit Linda's blog at http://lindaweaverclarke.blogspot.com/2010/11/interview-with-romance-author-donna.html to enter the giveaway.


Donna Hatch's passion for writing began at age 8 she wrote her first short story. During her sophomore year in high school, she wrote her first full-length novel. Her writing has won or been nominated as a finalist in many writing awards including Golden Quill and SARA Merrit. In between caring for six children, (7 counting her husband), her day job, and her many volunteer positions, she manages to carve out time to indulge in her writing obsession. A native of Arizona, she writes Regency Romance and Fantasy. And yes, all of her heroes are patterned after her husband of over 21 years, who continues to prove that there really is a happily ever after.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Author Spotlight: Tim Slover and The Christmas Chronicles

In this new holiday classic, Tim Slover crafts a marvelous, magical novel about how Santa Claus became the man he is today. After reading The Christmas Chronicles, you’ll believe all over again in the magic of the season.

Snow is falling, and the clock ticks toward midnight on Christmas Eve while countless children, too excited to sleep, anticipate the arrival of Santa Claus. But in Tim Slover’s deeply charming and utterly thrilling new novel, that’s the end rather than the beginning of the story. In this richly imagined tale of Santa’s origins, the man in full finally emerges. The Christmas Chronicles is at once an action-packed adventure, an inspiring story of commitment and faith, and a moving love story.

It all starts in 1343, when the child Klaus is orphaned and adopted by a craftsmen’s guild. The boy will grow to become a master woodworker with an infectious laugh and an unparalleled gift for making toys. His talent and generosity uniquely equip him to bestow hundreds of gifts on children at Christmas—and to court the delightful Anna, who enters his life on a sleigh driven by the reindeer Dasher and becomes his beloved wife.

Still, all is not snowfall and presents. Klaus will be shadowed by the envious Rolf Eckhof, who will stop at nothing to subvert him. But in the end, Santa’s magic is at last unleashed, flying reindeer come to his aid, and an epic battle between good and evil is waged in the frosty Christmas skies.

By turns enchanting, hair-raising, and inspirational, The Christmas Chronicles is a beguiling tale destined to become a holiday favorite for the ages.

Read an Excerpt!

Chapter One

Klaus the Carpenter

The man whom legend calls Santa Claus was born simply Klaus. He was the first and only child of a skilled carpenter and his good wife, both of whom, I am sorry to say, died when the Black Death came to their village at the foot of Mount Feldberg in the Black Forest in 1343. Little Klaus, barely out of babyhood then, had no other family, and so he was adopted by the Worshipful Guild of Foresters, Carpenters, and Woodworkers. It was very unusual for the Guild to adopt a child, but Klaus’s father had been a much-loved member, and so they did it. Of course, the Masters of the Guild were extremely preoccupied with their work of making plows and houses and clock gears–many, many things were made of wood in those days–and they really did not have the time to rear Klaus. So, mostly, they didn’t. They gave him plenty of food, which he liked very much. They gave him old carpenter’s tools instead of toys. And they gave him genial, distracted pats on the head whenever he came within range–benign neglect. It was a very satisfactory arrangement.

It is not surprising that Klaus became a very fine worker of wood. He had the best carvers and joiners and carpenters to watch and learn from, even though they did not actually notice they were teaching him. What was surprising–even alarming to some in the Guild–was that by the age of seventeen he had quietly surpassed them all. The piece he made to prove that he deserved to be awarded the title Master–his master-piece–was an exceptionally lovely chair by any standard. It was expertly joined, intricately and richly carved, and inlaid with all fourteen hardwoods that grew on Mount Feldberg. It was immediately adopted by the Guild as the new Governor’s chair. Klaus was given his Master Woodworker’s badge–a gold pine tree–toasted with ale, and slapped on the back for congratulations.

“We must have raised you well, Klaus,” the Masters said, “though we confess we didn’t notice.”

“Yes, you must have!” said Klaus and laughed. And all the Guild members present at his pinning ceremony joined in the laughter. And that was not surprising, because of the three extraordinary features of Klaus’s extraordinary laugh. First, it was exceptionally loud and deep, even when he was a boy, coming from the very roots of his soul. Second, it was completely untainted by any sort of meanness–Klaus never laughed at anyone, always with them. And third, it tended to make whoever heard it start laughing, too. So, of course, everyone laughed now.

Almost everyone. There was one member who did not laugh. His name was Rolf Eckhof, and he was as thin and hard as an iron spike, with white-blond hair and a pursed mouth that looked as if it could never laugh. And though he was a competent woodsman with commissions enough for common items, he had been trying and failing to become a Master for six years. Now this laughing, carefree boy had done it on his first try–the youngest Master in the history of the Guild.

“But he is just a boy!” Rolf Eckhof sneered.

“Yes, he’s our boy!” the Masters replied proudly. And they laughed and toasted and congratulated Klaus and themselves all over again.

Rolf Eckhof looked on Klaus’s masterpiece and knew he could never make such a beautiful, clever thing. And that knowledge filled him with jealousy and hatred. But he was the sort of man who could wait to take revenge. For now, he said nothing further. But he did not slap Klaus’s back, he did not toast him with ale, and certainly he did not laugh.

Klaus did not notice. And if he had, he would not have comprehended. His nature was open and magnanimous. If ever Jupiter predominated in a personality, it did in his: Klaus was, in every sense of the word, Jovial.

And so Klaus built himself a small cottage on the hill above the village and set up on his own as a carpenter and joiner and, especially, wood carver. It was soon well known that if you wanted something special–a stool with legs carved to look like those of a bear or a bridal bed with a headboard inlaid with scenes from the Black Forest–you went to Klaus. And so he prospered. He grew never tall, but deep-chested and very strong, and his hair and beard, when it came in, were the color of a fox’s pelt.

But during the summer when Klaus was twenty, something happened that made him stop his fancy carving. The Black Death returned to his village. It did not tarry at his snug cottage, but many another house was visited. The villagers tasted death all that summer and fall and into the winter. Not until the midwinter wind blew down the lanes and snow covered thatch and stone did the Black Death walk on and leave the village in peace. As it happened–and this is one of those quirks a historian finds hard to explain–it never returned.

But it had turned the village into a Swiss cheese, with holes in most families. Here a father was taken and no one else in the household even sickened; there all but one died, a child of three, leaving her to be adopted by a childless aunt. Indeed, all the twenty-seven children who lost parents in that terrible year found homes of some sort, and none wandered alone; that is how the village was. Many went on to become replacement sisters or brothers, daughters or sons, to those who had lost them.

All this Klaus saw, and it wrung his heart. But then a splendid new idea occurred to him. It did not make him laugh, for it was not a time for laughing, but a smile creased his ruddy face and a sparkle came into his hazel eyes.

The next morning he put all his tools into a large flour sack, flung it over his shoulder, and made his way down the hill from his cottage. At the very first house he came to, a small place under a great larch tree, he knocked on the door. A sad-eyed woman holding a baby on her hip answered. “Dame Grusha,” said Klaus. “What have you lost?”

Dame Grusha bit her lip. “I have lost my Jacob,” she said.

He took her small hands in his red, calloused ones. “I am so sorry, Dame Grusha,” he said. “I cannot help that. But”–he let go of her hands and heaved his great sack down onto the cold ground in front of her door; it opened, and she could see the tools inside–”what have you lost that these can replace?”

“I have no table. We burned it because Father Goswin thought it was plague-tainted.”

“Let’s go inside and measure,” said Klaus.

For the next months Klaus scarcely saw his own cottage. He spent all his days in the houses of the village, making and mending, or going to the forest for wood and hauling it back. Door to door he went, and always he asked the same question: “What have you lost?” And he heard the same heartrending answers: “I have lost my Johann,” “my Gretchen,” “my little Conrad,” “all my children,” “my old father,” “everyone but me.”

What could he say to such losses? Only that he was sorry. But what could he do for those who were suffering? A little, he thought, and he did it.

He made chairs and butter churns and many tables, for many had been burned, like Dame Grusha’s, after the sick and dying had lain on them. Soon all in the village were familiar with the sight of the strong young man with flaming red hair and beard coming and going, his sack of tools slung over his back; and all knew his question by heart: “What have you lost that I can replace?”

He did not think to charge money for his labors, but he ate and slept wherever he worked, and, despite their grief, or perhaps in relief of it, the villagers liked to tease him for his hearty appetite. “You’ll grow fat if you keep eating like that,” they jested.

“So be it!” Klaus answered back. “If that is the price I must pay for this good goose, then I say, so be it!” And though he didn’t laugh because it wasn’t a time yet for laughter, he would smile, and the villagers loved to see his smile in this time of mourning, because they knew it sprang from a heart that wanted only to do them good. It was simple: Klaus knew what to do, and the doing of it made him happy. And all the villagers looked out for him as he stumped down the lanes and across the fields with his flour sack filled with tools, and took a measure of comfort just from seeing him.

But one in the village did not. “He charges nothing for his labors!” Rolf Eckhof complained to the Governor of the Worshipful Guild of Foresters, Carpenters, and Woodworkers. “And nothing for materials! And this at a time when good business practice dictates we should set our prices higher because of the demand! You must do something! Else he will ruin us all!”

But the Governor only fixed Rolf Eckhof with a baleful eye. “For shame,” he said. And indeed Rolf Eckhof felt a hot streak of shame run through him, and this, too, he blamed on Klaus. But, remember, he was the sort of man who could wait to take his revenge.

Klaus knew nothing of this. Instead, he brooded on another problem. There were fifty-two surviving children in the village under Mount Feldberg, and Klaus knew them all because he had made and mended in virtually every house. The Black Death had bitten deeper into their lives than those of the grown-ups because they had lived fewer years. They were sadder and quieter than children ought to be, and this troubled Klaus a great deal. Perhaps if they had something to do, he thought–for doing is what had helped to mend his heart. So he engaged as many as he could in his labors, teaching them simple woodworking skills. (And this, Rolf Eckhof would have said, had he known of it, was completely contrary to Guild laws.) And when a child grew too quiet and stared out into nothing for too long, and Klaus knew she was thinking of a lost mother or brother, he would say to her, “Will you go down to the millstream and cut rushes with me? We need them for the Linders’ new roof.” He could not mend their losses, but he could teach them to help, and the helping, he knew, would go a measure to healing them. And so, in this way, many of the children grew to be really quite useful in bringing the village back to life. And children who did not at first help saw that those who did were happier, and that grown-ups treated them with the respect accorded to all who help, young or old, and so they began to help, too. And then even those who did no work at all claimed they did, and so everyone was included. And the houses went up, and spirits lifted, and the golden days of September saw a better harvest than anyone had expected.

And that is when Klaus had another idea: a novel idea; a truly sensational, momentous Idea. It seemed to travel up from his toes and fill his body inch by upward inch until it came right up into his throat, and he laughed out loud–the first anyone had laughed for months and months. “Ha, ha, ha!” he laughed. “Ho, ho, ho!” And those who heard that laugh–which was most of the village because of how tremendously loud it was–stopped their raking or bread making, or sprang up from where they had been dozing in the afternoon sun, and smiled. And in that moment, though they were ever sad for their losses, the Black Death well and truly left the hearts of those who lived in the village under Mount Feldberg.

Klaus kept his sensational idea quiet. But the villagers noticed that he did not go out of his house nearly so much as October gave way to November. And when the snow began to fly in December, Klaus loaded his large flour sack–the very one in which he had packed his tools around town–and made his way to the fine stone church in the middle of the village to see the parish priest, Father Goswin.

“I’m not sure that I entirely understand,” said Father Goswin when Klaus took an object from the sack and showed it to him. It was a carved wooden bear with legs that really moved.

“It’s a toy!” Klaus said proudly. “I have fifty-three! Not all bears, of course.” He rummaged around in his sack, filled with the toys he had been making almost without stopping to sleep or eat for the past weeks. “Look at this one! I’ve made fifteen of these!” He put into Father Goswin’s hand a spinning top made of white ash. The priest turned it over in his hand; he could make nothing of it.

“Here,” said Klaus. “You have to apply the string.” And he wound up the top and sent it skipping and whistling up the nave. It crashed merrily into the choir screen.

“Klaus!” cried Father Goswin in alarm.

“Fifty-three!” said Klaus again, retrieving his top. “Just the number of children in the village, if you count little Lena born last week. Look! I made this for her.” Rummaging around in his sack again, he produced a minuscule rattle and shook it. “I mean to take them to all the children’s houses!”

“Ah,” Father Goswin said. “Why?”

“They have lost so much this year. And then they helped when I needed it. It’s their reward!” And at the thought of the children opening their doors and tripping sleepily over a bear or a top or a boat, his face lit up with a smile. “And the joke will be even greater for those who only pretended to help.” His smile grew broader.

Father Goswin had seen these smiles before and knew what they portended. “Now, Klaus,” he warned. “You must not laugh. This is a holy edifice.”

And so Klaus did not laugh, but it was a near thing. “They won’t see me,” he said. “The toys will appear on their doorsteps in the night, and in the morning the children will wake up and find them there–as if by Magic!”

Father Goswin crossed himself quickly. “As if by an angel, you mean,” he said.





Here’s what reviewers are saying about The Christmas Chronicles!

“The Christmas Chronicles is a wonderful retelling of the Santa Claus story and no doubt will be read year after year becoming another Christmas tradition for many families.”

–Amazon Vine Program Review

“This was truly a magical and inspiring story, one I recommend putting on your ‘to be bought’ list.”

–Heather L., Goodreads.com

“This is a good, wholesome book that beautifully describes the man we call Santa Claus. It’s the kind of story that’s complex enough for adults, but charming enough for children to enjoy. The Christmas Chronicles would make a great gift for a friend or the perfect book to read with the family during the holidays.”

–Athena, Goodreads.com

Tim Slover is a writer and professor of theater at the University of Utah. His plays have been produced off-Broadway and in theaters throughout the United States and in London, where he spends part of each year. His wife, usefully, is a marriage and family therapist, and their two sons were the original audience for The Christmas Chronicles. For the purposes of yuletide decorating, each Christmas, Slover continues to cut a few pine boughs at an undisclosed location.


You can learn more about Tim and The Christmas Chronicles by visiting the publisher’s website at http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780553808100.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Christmas Sale at Lynn's Corner

Dear Readers,

I would like to bring your attention to a post at Lynn's Corner that broke my heart, but also inspired me. Lynn McMonigal is a Christian author who hosts some of my clients through Pump Up Your Book.

When I visited Lynn's blog today, I noticed a post titled, "Christmas Sale".  I didn't pay the post much attention at first. It's not unusual for authors to run sales around the holidays. The second time I checked the blog, however, I read the post and tears came to my eyes. I will share some of it with you now:

"On Friday night, November 12, 2010, 4-year-old Travis Rupert and his 10-year-old sister Savannah were involved in a serious car accident while riding their bikes in downtown Jackson. Travis was pronounced dead on the scene and Savannah was taken to C.S. Mott Children’s hospital in Ann Arbor. She suffered several broken bones and numerous internal injuries. At this time, she is in stable but critical condition."

Lynn is donating $5 from each book she sells from now through the end of the year to the Rupert family to help offset funeral and medical expenses. I ask that you consider purchasing one of her books to provide some help to a family in great need of your support and prayers.

Here is information about her books:

FORSAKING THE CALL

Joel turned his back on God 15 years ago, and has never regretted it. Now his wife is in the midst of an unexpected and very stressful pregnancy. When she turns to prayer and faith to get through, Joel is forced to face his past. Can he put aside his anger at God to give his wife the peace she needs to get through this difficult time?

SUMMERTIME

Entertainment journalist Laura Bell has been a single mother for her daughter’s entire life. She has not even seen her daughter’s father, Joey, a member of a once hugely popular boy band, in almost 10 years. When his band, Zero Gravity, plans a reunion tour, Laura is asked to cover the event. She is suddenly forced to confront her past. Can she build a life for her daughter, one that includes Joey, without compromising her new-found Christian faith? Or will she have to choose between God and Joey?
THE LADIES OF FAITH

No one knows the details about the father of Abby’s baby, or why Lorna doesn’t speak to her daughter. Emily’s perfect marriage is threatened by a dark secret. After nearly 30 years of marriage, Morgan is starting over, alone. Frankie is lost and doesn’t know what to believe anymore. The women of Faith community Church need each other now more than ever…. But can they trust enough to share their deepest secrets?

SHATTERED

Kerri Warner did what she had to do. It was a difficult choice, but it was best for her daughter. Wasn’t it? For twenty years, she has silently lived with the truth. Now, as her daughter’s wedding nears, her past screams for her attention.

Janessa Warner has just finished college and is looking forward to marrying Garrett. Hours after a visit to his hometown begins, a horrifying car accident alters their plans. Janessa comes face-to-face with a woman from her mother’s past. The very foundation of her life is shaken. Her search for answers only leads to more questions…

You can contact Lynn at lynnmcwriter@gmail.com or through Facebook to place an order. These books are also available on Amazon.com. Read more about Lynn's Christmas Sale at http://lynnmcmo.com/2010/11/15/christmas-sale/.

Thank you in advance for your prayers and support.

Blessings to all,

Cheryl

Monday, November 15, 2010

Guest Blogger: I Love Books by Mary Maddox, Author of Talion


Our special guest today is Mary Maddox, author of Talion.

The dying body has a thousand voices, and all of them speak to Conrad (Rad) Sanders. Fifteen-year-old Lisa Duncan has no idea she has attracted Rad’s interest. At a mountain resort in Utah, he watches as vivacious Lisa begins an unlikely friendship with Lu Jakes, the strange and introverted daughter of employees there. Lu enters his fantasies as well. He learns she is being abused by her stepmother and toys with the notion of freeing her from her sad life and keeping her awhile as his captive. Lu seems like an easy conquest who could be persuaded to act out his fantasy by turning against her new friend.

But someone else is watching over Lu.

Talion appears to Lu as an angelic vision. He offers her love and counsel, the courage to defend herself from bullies at school and a way to free herself from her stepmother’s violence. He seems to know beforehand what will happen. But Talion’s true nature is unclear. His guidance leads Lu into dark places, moving her inevitably closer to the world inhabited by Rad. When she and Lisa are thrust into that darkness, will Talion come to her aid? Or will he become the killer’s ally?





I Love Books by Mary Maddox

I love their smell, fresh in bookstores or ripened in libraries, enticing me into unknown worlds. I love the heft of a book in my hands, the texture of its pages beneath my fingers, the high gloss of illustrations and photographs. In old books, illustrations were sometimes protected by sheets of onionskin paper. Not anymore. I suspect mechanized book production would crumple onionskin or tear it to pieces. I’m one of many readers who love books in this sensuous way. Since it’s a kind of nostalgia, I expect to encounter it in older readers, but some of my students, college freshmen, feel the same way. “I don’t want a Kindle,” one girl said. “I like to turn the pages.”

And here I run up against a contradiction in myself. I like to turn the pages too, but I own – and frequently use – both a Kindle and an iPad for reading. Part of the reason has nothing to do with reading. I’m drawn to anything electronic and would probably buy every new device to hit the market if I had the money.

I got a Kindle for the convenience. I’m running out of bookshelf space, which I must share with my husband and his hundreds of film and military history books. The books I would have bought in paperback I now buy on Kindle. I can read the Kindle at dinner without staining it with tomato sauce, bring it on trips and have a choice of reading material, and even take it to the gym. No more struggling to turn pages as I work out on the elliptical machine. Finally, there is the instant gratification of ordering a title and having it downloaded in sixty seconds.

I use the iPad mostly for its Internet capability and apps (especially Scrabble!), but it’s more convenient than the Kindle for reading in bed since its backlight makes a reading light unnecessary.

Some writers and publishers are worried about the impact of electronic readers on traditional publishing. How worried seems to depend on the worrier’s economic or emotional investment in traditional publishing. Others are rushing to take advantage of the opportunities in electronic publishing. While change is inevitable, I hope good old-fashioned books will always be available and appreciated. The world would be a poorer place without the smell and feel and page-turning delight of books.

Read what critics are saying about Talion!


"In spare unflinching scenes, Mary Maddox’s offers up a bold and haunting debut novel with her Talion. Without doubt, there will be readers that will be genuinely disturbed by the cruel and sinister elements of the yarn that focuses on such themes as madness, murder, obsession, sadism, and lust. Nonetheless, after putting the book to rest, I had to admit that it does reflect some of the shocking elements of human nature that, unfortunately, are fundamentally present in our society and are often attributed to the darker side of human nature.


The tale is jump-started when Conrad (Rad) Sanders, using the pseudonym Jonathan Myers, checks into the Hidden Creek Lodge in the fictional town of Deliverance, Utah. Debbie and Hank Darlington are the owners of the lodge, and their beautiful teenage niece Lisa is visiting with them. While Lisa checks out the lodge’s surroundings, she meets Lu, who lives in a trailer with her detestable step-mother Noreen and her alcoholic father, Duane. Lu is depicted as being inept and gawky, who is prone to delusional episodes, where she imagines herself communicating with eery creatures that she names Delatar, Black Claw and Talion. In addition, Lu wishes her step-mother were dead. Duane, who was down-and-out, was hired with his wife to do cleaning and odd jobs around the lodge by his old buddy Hank, who felt sorry for him.


As the story shifts to Rad, readers are exposed to the workings of a deranged and depraved character in all its complexity, who has committed horrendous acts. One caveat, if you are squeamish, I doubt if you will be able to stomach Maddox’s detailed graphic and ghoulish descriptions of unspeakable acts that are not exactly suitable for polite everyday conversation. The boundaries of the noir with its mournful, gloomy and depressive elements are pushed almost to the edge of darkness. On the other hand, I have to admit that the novel’s two hundred and eighty-eight pages are never dull or boring, as Maddox skillfully creates a shocking mix of the bleak atmospheric tones of the macabre with the supernatural, while holding onto the page-turning exhilaration of a real thriller with its superb tension and suspense. This is one haunting read that is sure to give you nightmares!


Mary Maddox teaches composition and literature at Eastern Illinois University. She has dedicated her book to her husband and who, as she states, had faith in her work even when she did not. I would tend to agree with her husband and I hope to read more from this fine author."

-Norm Goldman, Publisher and Editor, Bookpleasures


PURCHASE A COPY OF TALION HERE!

Mary Maddox grew up in Utah and California. A graduate of Knox College and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she now teaches composition and literature at Eastern Illinois University.


She lives in Charleston, Illinois with her husband, film scholar Joe Heumann. Her interests include riding her horse, Tucker, and playing club and tournament Scrabble. Mary’s short stories have appeared in a number of magazines including Farmer’s Market, Yellow Silk, and The Scream Online. Her writing has been honored with awards from the Illinois Arts Council.




Talion, her debut novel, is available at Barnesandnoble.com as a trade paperback and at Amazon.com as both a paperback and a Kindle book. You can visit her at her Web site http://www.marymaddox.com/ , read her blog at http://blog.marymaddox.com, and follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/Dreambeast7.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Book Review: The Parent's Guide to Facebook by Kathryn Rose

If your teen is more technology savvy than you and thinks that Facebook is a great place to hang out, then you need to pick up a copy of  The Parent's Guide to Facebook: Tips and Strategies to Protect Your Children on the World's Largest Social Network by Kathryn Rose.

In this recently updated version, Rose brings you through the basics of signing up for a Facebook account, completing a profile, privacy settings for each section of the network, and more.

I use Facebook on an almost daily basis for work and to keep in touch with friends and family. Some of the information about privacy settings was new to me and it encouraged me to make changes to my own account. Sometimes you think you've protected yourself, but you really haven't.

The Parent's Guide to Facebook will help you feel safer when your teen is online. By walking you through setting up your own account, you'll see how Facebook works and where some of the dangers can lie for young people.

My only nitpick is that this book is in desperate need of an editor. There are several instances of missing words, the wrong words used, and one instance of words being repeated. Even the Foreward is missing a word in the second to the last paragraph. It's not the end of the world, but if you're an expert on a topic, you want to present your material in the best light possible. That doesn't happen when your text has numerous errors in it.

That aside, this is an excellent resource for parents and guardians of teens. By teaching you how to get around Facebook, you'll be able to help your teen be safer online too.

Title: The Parent's Guide to Facebook: Tips and Strategies to Protect Your Children on the World's Largest Social Network
Author:  Kathryn Rose
Publisher: CreateSpace
ISBN-10: 1453834559
ISBN-13: 978-1453834558
SRP:  $12.99

Monday, November 8, 2010

Author Spotlight: Dr. Richard A. Barrett and Tales from a Spanish Village

Dr. Barrett gets a sudden and unexpected break when a college professor offers him a grant to begin his fieldwork for his doctoral research. With all expenses paid, this young man sets off to understand the people of Benabarre, Spain, learning a few lessons about himself along the way.  His adventure begins with lively characters from the village and continues as he encounters gypsies, a deranged landlady, fine sherry and much more.

Read an Excerpt!

Chapter 4
Gypsies
There were no Gypsies in Benabarre when I lived there, and
itinerant Gypsies rarely visited the village. It is true that one
individual was sometimes described to me as a Gypsy or of Gypsy descent,
but this was whispered as an aside and it was clear that nobody referred
to him as a Gypsy to his face.
The term gitano (Gypsy) had a very negative ring. When residents
described others in unflattering terms they sometimes said the person
was muy gitano (very Gypsy). Or again, they might call the person un
gitano blanco (a white Gypsy). This simply meant that they considered the
person untrustworthy and dishonest. Or it could refer to the uncleanliness
that was also associated with Gypsies. I was once sitting with Isidro in
the plaza when an attractive, dark-complected maidservant passed by.
He generally tracked all of the young women visually but hardly noticed
this one. I was surprised, so to test the water I remarked, “Hey, you didn’t
see a pretty woman go by.”
“Who?”
“La Margarita.”
“Margarita! Pretty!? Are you out of your mind!? She’s horrible! The
worst of the village!”
“How can you say that?” I objected.
“Listen. That woman came into my shoe store the other day and when
she took off her shoes, she showed me two of the dirtiest patas (paws)
you ever saw, like the feet of a Gypsy!”
52 RICHARD A. BARRETT
The first time I saw Gypsies in Benabarre, I witnessed a remarkable
display of awe and apprehension on the part of the village children. I
happened to be gazing from my window to the plaza below when a Gypsy
woman and her two children came into view. The woman was wearing
an orange-and-white dress that hung on her loosely and the children wore
shabby clothing that looked inadequate
for the brisk spring day. They made a
sharp contrast to the neatly dressed
village children who were in the plaza
at the same time playing a ball-and-jacks
game on the sidewalk. When they
spotted the Gypsies they stopped
everything and stared. One of the little
boys stood up slowly and pressed his
back against the wall to give the Gypsies
very wide berth even though they were
passing at least four feet from the group.
As the Gypsies walked to the end of the
plaza, the children stared silently. Only
when they were out of sight did the
children begin talking animatedly
among themselves in the “Did you see
that? Did you see her dress?” mode.
Then one of the little girls got up and ran in the direction the Gypsies
had gone, presumably to watch them from afar.
Some months later I went to the neighboring village of Torres del
Obispo to conduct interviews. Benabarre’s veterinarian was a native son
of Torres and had introduced me to some of the leading figures there: the
doctor, the secretario and a lawyer-landholder. On this particular day I was
driving there to spend the morning with the lawyer. As I approached the
village, I passed a very large encampment of Gypsies, perhaps twenty or
more persons. They were traveling in two or three mule-drawn carriages
and had set up camp in a forested glen about two hundred meters from
the entrance to the community.
After spending two or three hours with the lawyer and his wife, I
departed sometime after noon and again passed the group of Gypsies,
then making preparations for the afternoon meal.
Looking down on the church
plaza from one of the
windows of my flat.
TALES FROM A SPANISH VILLAGE 53
I was scheduled to return to Torres del Obispo the following morning
to interview Señor Doz, the secretario of the village. My wife, Yuki, was
in Benabarre at the time, visiting me on one of her breaks from school
in Madrid. She decided to join me on the trip to Torres.
Doz was an interesting person. He was from a simple laboring
background and had no more than a high school education, yet he had
occupied the important post of secretario for over twenty years. He was
stolid, unassuming and deliberate in everything he did and recounted
events exactly as he saw them. These same qualities caused others to
underestimate him. A secretario in another village described Doz as “a
nice person, but not very bright.”
“Why do you say that?” I asked.
“Well, he’s such a payés (peasant) and so slow!”
I didn’t argue, but I disagreed. His farming background made him
accessible and easy for other villagers to deal with. He was perceptive,
informative, and entirely trustworthy. I judged an informant by a simple
standard: if I spent hours writing up notes after an interview, the informant
was worthwhile. If I found little to write, I had wasted my time. After a
conversation with Doz, I always wrote a great deal.
So when we drove back to Torres del Obispo the next day, I was
looking forward to a profitable session. I saw the same Gypsy carts come
into view as the day before. But as we passed the camp, we were astonished
to see three members of the Civil Guard standing with automatic weapons
at set intervals around the Gypsy camp. The Gypsies themselves were
seated on the ground in front of the guards in what appeared to me as
anxious and stony silence.
We drove into the central plaza, parked, and walked up the stairs of
the town hall. Señor Doz admitted us to his office and I saw right away
that he wished we didn’t have an appointment.
“Ricardo, there’s been an unfortunate incident with Gypsies here,
maybe it would be better if we talk some other time.”
“Of course,” I said. “If you’re busy we can wait until you’re done.
We’ll come back later.” I didn’t want to return to Benabarre without
accomplishing anything, so I told him we would remain in the village
until he was free.
“It’s not that I’m busy,” Doz said. “It’s just that this is a difficult matter.
The Civil Guard’s taking care of it, not me.”
54 RICHARD A. BARRETT
I wasn’t getting something. Señor Doz clearly did not want us there,
but it wasn’t because he couldn’t attend to us.
“What’s going on with the Gypsies?” I asked. “When we drove in we
saw guardias with weapons and all the Gypsies on the ground. It looked
menacing.”
“Two lambs and some chickens were found this morning with their necks
broken. The owners accused the Gypsies. They came and reported it to me
and I called the Civil Guard in Graus. They came right away and placed the
whole camp under arrest. That’s what you saw. They’re all under arrest.”
“How do you know the Gypsies did it? Did somebody see them?”
“No. Nobody saw it happen. But that doesn’t matter. Everybody
knows they did it. Something like this happens every time they come
here. Nothing like this happens in Torres for maybe a year or two. Then
come the Gypsies and right away there’s trouble. It never fails. If Gypsies
camp near the village, they cause trouble one way or another.”
“Were the Gypsies caught with the animals? Butchering them?” I asked.
“No, of course not! They’re too clever for that. They just left them
where they broke their necks.”
“But why would they do that? What good would that do them?”
“Because they hoped the animals would be thrown away. Spaniards
don’t eat dead meat, Gypsies do. So they would just be retrieving
something that was discarded anyway. Perfectly legal. But everybody sees
through that. They didn’t expect us to call the Civil Guard, but we did.”
As Señor Doz was talking I realized for the first time that there were
a number of men in the room next door. It soon became apparent that
Civil Guard officers were questioning, and threatening, at least two Gypsy
men in the adjoining room.
At that moment one of the officers, a captain I think, opened the
door and entered the office where we were sitting. He was surprised to
see Yuki and me and apologized for the interruption. He walked over to
retrieve a stick he had apparently left on Señor Doz’s desk. It was a thin
stick, about the size of a long pointer used in a classroom. He shut the
door behind him.
As voices were raised in the adjoining room it suddenly dawned on
me why Señor Doz had been hesitant to have us there. He wanted to spare
us from witnessing the disagreeable events that were about to unfold.
TALES FROM A SPANISH VILLAGE 55
From behind the door I heard the very loud and threatening voice of
one of the guardias; Listen you, this can break ribs, do you understand
me?!”
“No, no!”—a high-pitched wail from the Gypsy and then words I
couldn’t understand. The sounds were loud, anguished and frightening.
As we heard these cries I saw the blood drain from Doz’s face. In
five seconds he turned deathly pale. I had the sensation that the same
had happened to me. All of us were suddenly aware that we were about
to hear the sounds of a nasty beating. “I wanted to warn you,” Doz said,
“but there wasn’t time. I hope you’re ready.” I said nothing.
Oddly enough, I remember thinking that if the guardia was threatening
the man with the stick that he had taken from the office, it was far too
flimsy to break ribs. But I was alarmed, I did not want to be there, yet I
was frozen to my chair.
The voices reached a crescendo in the other room. I heard the Gypsy
yelling in a rushed and frightened voice and the guardia shouting even
louder. Then suddenly, everything stopped. There was no beating, or at
least none of the sounds of it that we could hear. The voices were lowered,
and we soon heard the muffled sounds of people leaving the room and
treading down stairs.
Señor Doz slumped in his chair, greatly relieved. I could see the color
returning to his face. He even managed a weak smile. I didn’t understand
how the matter had been resolved. “What happened?” I asked.
“One of them confessed. Well, he didn’t confess, but he accepted
responsibility. Said they would pay for the damage.”
“So threatening them was enough?”
“That did it. And I’m glad of that! Now let’s do the work you came
for. It’ll be a relief to think of something else!”
As we drove back to Benabarre that afternoon, I thought about the
intensity of the experience and about the many times I had seen the
same sort of thing in Hollywood films: a man beaten in a police station
or by the Mafia. Yet there was no comparison with this very real event.
When I heard the Gypsy pleading and saw Doz turn white in front of
me, my heart thumped like a drum. Yuki said she was just as frightened
as I was. A good lesson, I thought, in the difference between reality and
make-believe.
56 RICHARD A. BARRETT
The following day we learned that since there was no money in the
Gypsy camp, or not enough to pay for the damage, they were allowed to
telephone relatives in Barbastro. These drove up to Torres del Obispo the
same day and paid the indemnity. The amount was apparently arrived at
by asking the farmers to put a price on the lost animals. The camp was
kept under armed guard until the fine was paid. The guardias then forced
the entire group to break camp and leave the area.
In the next few days I discussed the episode with a number of my
friends in Benabarre. Everybody had heard of the incident though none
had seen it up close as I had. I found absolutely no sympathy for the
Gypsies. Even friends like Estéban who generally adopted an anti-Franco,
anti-government, anti-authority stance, had nothing but contempt for the
Gypsies and praise for the guardias. One of Estéban’s friends remarked,
“Fining them isn’t enough. They’ll just do it again. They should put all
those sons of bitches in jail!”
As always in such cases, I talked the matter over with Antonio. I told him
I still wondered why the Gypsies would commit such a transparent crime.
“But don’t you see? They did it in Torres because there’s no Civil
Guard there. They thought they could get away with it. They would
never try such a thing in Benabarre where there’s a cuartel (Civil Guard
barracks).”
“You mean that the peasants themselves couldn’t do anything?”
“Of course not. If they tried to argue with the Gypsies, they’d have the
whole camp against them. Gypsies carry knives. It would be dangerous.
But what the Gypsies didn’t count on was the telephone. Even isolated
people can call the police now. In the old days, the peasants would have
had to put up with it. Not anymore!”
The judgment against the Gypsies was not quite unanimous however.
When I recounted the episode to an intellectual friend in Huesca, she
sprang to the Gypsies’ defense. “How did the authorities exclude the
possibility that some disgruntled farmer in the village didn’t take revenge
on neighbors he didn’t like? He would know that the Gypsies would be
blamed as a matter of course. As you know, there are a lot of frictions in
those villages.”
TALES FROM A SPANISH VILLAGE 57
When I presented this scenario to friends in Benabarre, it was
dismissed out of hand. My most trusted elderly informant shook his
head resolutely. “Nobody in Torres would do such a thing! You might
not get along with all your neighbors and you might even hate some of
them. But nobody is going to kill healthy animals as a means of getting
revenge! Nobody!”
And that was that.

Not every anthropologist digs up fossils and bones or explores mysterious Roman ruins. Some, like Dr. Richard A. Barrett, achieve insight on cultures by immersing themselves completely in a region. That was the idea behind Tales from a Spanish Village ) the memoir of Dr. Barrett’s experience as a young doctoral student doing fieldwork in northern Spain.

Dr. Barrett was born in San Fernando, California. Throughout his childhood, he was interested in traveling and learning about other cultures. His childhood interest expanded to include his academic goals. Barrett graduated Summa Cum Laude in anthropology from the University of California in Los Angeles, where he was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa fraternity. Throughout his pursuit towards a higher education, Barrett was recognized for academic excellence. He was selected as recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship and as a fellow in the National Institute of Mental Health. He was awarded the Ford Foundation grant which funded his travels throughout Spain, and to further advance his studies in anthropology to an even greater degree.

After his time in Spain, Dr. Barrett taught cultural anthropology at Temple University and the University of New Mexico and wrote Benabarre: The Modernization of a Spanish Village, an analysis of the village he stayed in during his doctoral research. He also published Culture and Conduct: An Excursion in Anthropology.

In Tales from a Spanish Village, Barrett’s remarkable, true-life adventure begins when he receives a grant from his professor to finish research on his doctoral dissertation in Benabarre, Spain. The memoir details Barrett’s adjustments to student life in a small, peasant town and chronicles his encounters with various characters and customs. It also details a first-hand look at Spain ruled by the Franco dictatorship, when he witnessed those considered to be lower class treated harshly by the police.

Dr. Barrett currently resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Carpinteria, California with his wife, Dottie. He is retired and enjoys woodworking, fly fishing for trout and collecting twentieth century art. Barrett is also an active member of various art groups in Santa Fe, especially those that support contemporary art. For more information, please visit www.richardabarrett.com.

Author Interview: Hazel Statham, Author of The Portrait


Hazel Statham lives in England and has been writing on and off since she was fifteen. Initially she was influenced by Austen, the Brontës, and Sabatini but when she turned seventeen, Georgette Heyer opened up the romance and elegance of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. She immediately knew she had found her eras and wanted nothing more than to re-create them in her work.

Hazel lives with her husband, Terry, and a beautiful Labrador named Mollie. Apart from writing, her other ruling passion is animals, and until recently she acted as treasurer for an organization that raised money for animal charities.
To learn more about Hazel and her books visit her website: www.hazel-statham.co.uk

Today we sit down with Hazel to talk about her new release.

Welcome Hazel. It's wonderful to have you here.

Where did you grow up?

I have lived in Staffordshire all my life and most of my early years were spent in a town called Hanley.

What is your fondest childhood memory?

It has to be the days I spent at the stables, when summers were hot with few days of rain. I learned to ride at the age of eleven and so began a life-long love of horses.

When did you begin writing?

I wrote my first book, purely for my own amusement, in 1961, at the age of fifteen and have continued writing on an off ever since.


What is The Portrait about?

England 1812

Severely injured at the battle of Salamanca, Edward Thurston, the new Earl of Sinclair, returns home to his beloved Fly Hall. Determined not to present his prospective bride with the wreck he believes himself to have become, he decides to end his betrothal, unaware that Lady Jennifer, for vastly differing reasons, has reached the selfsame decision.

Throughout the campaigns, Edward was often seen relying greatly on a miniature he carried, and it is to this token he clings upon his return. Will he eventually find happiness with the girl in the portrait, or will he remain firm in his resolve not to wed? Reason dictates one course, his heart another.

What inspired you to write it?

The Portrait was inspired by a line from a song from the film Hawks. The singer says he wanted to be the man she thought he was and this brought about the theme of my book – a wounded hero returning from war, ending his betrothal because of his wounds.

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

I occasionally ask on-line writing friends to read over my work but, for me, writing is a solitary task as I work entirely alone.

Who is your favorite author?

Can I cheat and have more than one? Charlotte Bronte and Georgette Heyer are the authors that have influenced my writing the most but I have also enjoyed work by numerous others, far too many to commit to a list.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Barnes & Noble
http://search.barnesandnoble.com/books/product.aspx?r=1&afsrc=1&EAN=9780803477872

Amazon
http://www.amazon.com/Portrait-Hazel-Statham/dp/0803477872/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1284298668&sr=1-1

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

www.hazel-statham.co.uk

What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?
Promoting isn’t my forte therefore, taking an on-line virtual book tour has to be my best investment.
What is up next for you?

I have another Regency romance, Consequence, due to be released with Avalon Books sometime next year. In the meantime, I continue with my current work in progress, which has the temporary title of The Honorable Heart.

Is there anything you would like to add?

I hope my readers enjoy reading my work as much as I enjoy writing it.

Thanks for spending time with us today. We wish you much success.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Author Spotlight: DCS and Synarchy Book 2: The Ascension

A lifetime ago, Stefano Vasco Terenzio saw one way to maneuver his family into a game of betrayal against an unbeatable enemy; walking into a bullet.

A generation later, what started with one man’s ego will determine the fate of the whole word.

For centuries The Brotherhood and their Gods, the Anunnaki have hidden in plain sight among us. For centuries they have lied, sacrificed man by the thousands, and manipulated humanity into their service.

As the clock ticks closer to December 21st, 2012, they will stop at nothing to keep their control of planet Earth.
In the thrilling sequel to Synarchy Book 1: The Awakening, the end is only the beginning. Secrets emerge that will challenge the core of everything you think you believe.

All the while a team of scientists must make sense out of the fantastical, and the tenuous link holding together the one family that can save humankind, shatters.

Read an Excerpt from Synarchy Book 2: The Ascension!


“We’re villains, as much as we are capable of being heroes. When the moments come that we can we soften the blow of our sins, we’ve got to take them.”
-Stefano Vasco Terenzio

Prologue

December 20, 2012- 11:44 PM
Vacherie, Louisiana
Oak Alley Plantation

It came down in thick heavy sheets, bulleting from the sky, drenching the ground that could only absorb so much before it leaked up from the grass, and quickly became the swamp that was so common in the area. The glare of headlights cut through the rain, illuminating the porch of the antebellum mansion that was now empty.

Caesar climbed out of the car, whistling. He snapped open the trunk and stared with vicious glee down at Vasco, whose hands Caesar had taped behind his back. Caesar reached inside and hauled the other man out, half dragging him through the puddles of water, and shoved him in front of the stairs, facing the house. “I thought you‘d want to see it one more time before you died.”

Vasco’s eyes traveled slowly over the elegant, old fashioned structure. It had once been her home, before she—

His jaw hardened. A lifetime ago, he had made love to her against those columns, often after he’d shot a few people out among the centuries-old oaks. For a fleeting moment, his eyes softened at the phantom images.

“You know, she and I had some good times here after you got popped.” Caesar grinned at his own memories.

Vasco’s eyes narrowed, jealousy and fury coiling hotly in his gut. His fingers fisted around the piece of glass hidden in his palm, and sharp edges cut into the tape and his skin, the blood washing away with the force of the rain.

Caesar turned him around so they were facing each other. “I don’t get you, Vasco.” He took a step back, pulling the gun out from the waistband of his pants. “Why? Out of all of them, I never thought you would choose this.”

The hatred in the depths of Vasco’s eyes was unhidden as he regarded Caesar. It was their destiny to be enemies, their agreement for this lifetime. He was fully committed to honoring that agreement. “Choice, Caesar,” Vasco said over the noise of the storm. “I never made anyone do anything. They always had a choice. You—Them—you take the fun out of the game when you take that choice away. But the better, less noble reason is I just don’t like you. Or your masters. I never have.”

Caesar shook his head. “I’ll never understand you Terenzios. I won’t miss you, either.” The thunder growled, a flash of lighting exposing the malevolent gleam in Caesar‘s eyes as he pressed the muzzle of the gun against Vasco’s temple.

Read the Reviews!

"...absolutely wonderful character development with solid movement through the plot."
--A Moment with Mystee

"...I could not put it down."
--Poncho, guest reviewer at Reading, Reading & Life



DCS was born in Alexandria, Virginia. She graduated high school in Huntersville, NC and attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte intent on earning a degree in Political Science and becoming a lawyer.


She instead eventually turned to writing. DCS is currently attending the American Institute of Holistic Theology to earn her PhD in Metaphysical Spirituality.


You can also hear her live every Saturday evening on BlogTalkRadio’s In the Mind of DCS. Show starts at 7pm Central Standard Time.


Synarchy Book 2: The Ascension is her second novel, and four more are scheduled for release.


Synarchy Book 3: SVT and Synarchy Book 4: The Black Widow are the next in the series due out in 2011.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Author Spotlight: Marilyn Meredith and Invisible Path

While Tempe’s son, Blair is home from Christmas break, he and his roommate from college do a bit of snooping to find out about the para-military group who’ve been seen driving through town. When a young popular Indian is found dead near the recovery center on the reservation, Tempe is called in to help with the investigation. Another Native American but a newcomer to the rez, Jesus Running Bear, is the only suspect. A hidden pregnancy, a quest to find the Hairy Man, and a visit to the pseudo soldiers’ compound put Jesus and Tempe in jeopardy.

Read an Excerpt!


“Jesus, I need to talk to you.”

My grandma was the only one who could get away with pronouncing my name like Jesus in the Bible. My friends say it like “Hay-soos.” Grandma didn’t like it when she heard someone say my name like that. She usually corrected whoever it was by saying, “My grandson is not Mexican, he is Indian. His name is Jesus Running Bear.”

I don’t know what inspired my mother to give me such a name, and she wasn’t around to ask.

Grandma fixed her small dark eyes on me. When she smiled her eyes became crescent moons. She wasn’t smiling now. Whatever it was she wanted to say, it had to be important.

I put down the bowl I’d gotten out of the cupboard. Breakfast would have to wait.

“You’ve been thinking about something a lot. Something that’s going to give you problems.” Grandmother’s face was round, weathered, and brown as a nut. Her gray hair was pulled straight back and arranged in a bun. Wiry strands escaped and poked out around her ears and the nape of her neck. She wore a man’s red plaid shirt with the sleeves rolled up to her elbows, over a pair of faded blue jeans. Beneath the baggy clothes, she was slim and muscled. Her toes peeked out from a pair of worn leather sandals.

I loved my grandma; after all she was the one who raised me after my mother left me alone while she went on a three day drunk. My uncle found me and brought me to grandmother’s house where I’ve been ever since. No, I don’t miss my mother because I don’t even remember her. I only know what I’ve been told about her—not much of it good.

I wasn’t sure what kind of problem Grandma meant. Sure, I’d been going down to the beer joints with my cousin and friends even though I knew she didn’t want me drinking. Maybe that’s what this was about. I respected my grandmother, but I hadn’t obeyed her warning about never touching alcohol. She hated alcohol. Grandfather had died from drinking too much. Maybe my mother was dead too. No one had heard from her in years.

“Come. Sit down.” She motioned to the chair where I usually sat. In front of her was a cup of tea. “We’re going to find out exactly what is going on with you.”

I sat on the edge of the seat. She was going to do some weird Indian stuff. We were Miwok—though we didn’t live on or near a reservation. We lived in a small town in the foothills above Modesto which is in the Central Valley of California. Frankly, I didn’t know much about my heritage except what my grandma told me.

She was an amazing woman, and could do so many things. I was proud of most of what she did. She knew how to gather herbs that could cure most sicknesses. She wove beautiful baskets that she sold at Pow Wows and to tourists in gift shops in Yosemite and other places.

When I was a kid, she took me on camping trips into the back country. She could out hike me even today. But I wasn’t crazy about all the Indian stuff she did that I didn’t understand.

Grandma stared into the cup and began speaking in her native language. That’s what she always did when she was concentrating on something.

She lifted her head and fixed her eyes on me again. “You’re looking for a girlfriend. That’s it, isn’t it?”
Well, sure. What young guy isn’t trying to find a girl? But for once I was smart enough to keep my mouth shut.

Again, she peered into the cup. “I see all kinds of women. Be careful not to choose the wrong one. If you do, you’ll be miserable.”

She stared and her eyes looked funny, like she was seeing something far, far away.

I squirmed, wondering where this was leading. Maybe she already had someone picked out for me.

“I see a pretty girl with a nice figure. She has long straight hair, clear down to her waist. She’ll wiggle her plump bottom and you won’t be able to think. Women have power–especially young pretty ones. Don’t you so much as give her more than a passing glance. If you do, you’ll be miserable your whole life.” Grandma didn’t look up.

In my mind I could see the pretty girl walking down the street, her shiny black hair swinging back and forth like her hips.

After a few minutes my day dream ended when Grandma said, “There’s another one. Short and skinny like I was when I was young. But beware, she’s nothing like me. This one is sneaky. She’ll act like she cares for you when she has lots of other men.”

Interesting. This was more fun than I’d expected.

“I see another one, curly headed and laughing. She’ll welcome you to her bed.”

This was sounding better and better, and I risked a smile.

“Take my warning, grandson. Don’t marry her. She knows nothing about being a wife or taking care of children. She only knows how to have fun. She only wants to party, party, party. She’s not for you.”

I was beginning to wonder if there was anyone Grandma would see in that teacup who was good enough for me.

“Ah, there’s the one you must look for. She’s a sweet girl, with dark brown wavy hair and a dimple in one cheek. She knows and respects the old ways.”

“Where is she? Does she live around here?” I was ready to introduce myself to this wonderful woman.

“No, she lives far away. It may take a long, long while before you meet her.”

That wasn’t such good news. “How will I find her?”

“The path lies straight ahead. Sometimes it will be invisible, but it’s always there.”

Grandma’s discussion about my future seemed to be over.

She picked up the cup and dumped the dregs in the sink. Wiping her hands on a tea towel that had been draped through the handle of the old refrigerator, she asked, “Are you ready to eat?”
* * *

I almost forgot about Grandma’s predictions, because I started drinking more and more with my buddies. I became an embarrassment to her and my other relatives, and I didn’t care.


INVISIBLE PATH TOUR SCHEDULE
 
Monday, November 1


Guest blogging at Lori’s Reading Corner

Tuesday, November 2

Book spotlighted at Book Tours and More

Wednesday, November 3

Guest blogging at Kurt Kamm’s blog

Thursday, November 4

Guest blogging at Mystery World of Pat Brown

Friday, November 5

Guest blogging at Mysteryrat’s Closet

Tuesday, November 9

Book spotlighted at Noir World of GK Parker

Wednesday, November 10

Guest blogging at Authors & Appetizers

Thursday, November 11

Guest blogging at A Writer’s Jumble

Friday, November 12

Book reviewed at The Book Connection

Monday, November 15

Book Club Discussion at Literarily Speaking

Tuesday, November 16

Book Club Discussion at Literarily Speaking

Book reviewed at Musings of an All Purpose Monkey

Wednesday, November 17

Book Club Discussion at Literarily Speaking

Thursday, November 18

Video Trailer featured at Down Under Views

Friday, November 19

Guest blogging at Thoughts in Progress

Monday, November 22

Book reviewed at Nevets.QST

Tuesday, November 23

Book reviewed at Thoughts in Progress

Guest blogging at Writing Daze

Wednesday, November 24

Guest blogging at Review from Here

Book reviewed at Ohio Girl Talks

Friday, November 26

Book reviewed at My Favorite Things

Invisible Path VBT Contest: Leave a comment at Marilyn's blog stops. The person who comments at the most stops during her virtual book tour will have a character named after him or her in the next Deputy Tempe Crabtree book.

Marilyn Meredith is the author of nearly thirty published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest Invisible Path from Mundania Press. Under the name of F. M. Meredith she writes the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series, An Axe to Grind is the latest from Oak Tree Press.


She is a member of EPIC, Four chapters of Sisters in Crime, including the Internet chapter, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Visit her at http://fictionforyou.com and her blog at http://marilymeredith.blogspot.com .