Accidents of Marriage by Randy Susan Meyers – Spotlight

Welcome to Randy Susan Meyers, who has stopped by to celebrate the release of her newest book, Accidents of Marriage.

 Can you tell us a bit about the book and the relationship between the characters?

Accidents of Marriage asks what is the toll of emotional abuse on a family.It’s an account of life inside a marriage that seems fine to the outside world, an account of emotional abuse, traumatic injury, and how a seeming accident is really the culmination of years of ignored trouble. It’s the story of an unexpected gift of clarity making the difference between living in hell and salvation.

For Madeline Illica, the love of her husband Ben is her greatest blessing and biggest curse. Brilliant, handsome and charming, Ben could turn into a raging bull when crossed—and despite her training as a social worker Maddy was never sure what would cross him. She kept a fragile peace by vacillating between tiptoeing around him and asserting herself for the sake of their three children, until a rainy drive to work when Ben’s temper gets the best of him, and the consequences leave Maddy in the hospital, fighting for her life.

Accidents of Marriage, alternating among the perspectives of Maddy, Ben, and their fourteen-year-old daughter, Emma, takes us up close into the relationships between all family members. The children, lost in the shuffle, grasp for sources of comfort, including the (to them) mysterious traditions of their Jewish and Catholic grandparents. Emma and her grandparents provide the only stability for the younger children when their mother is in the hospital. Ben alternates between guilt and glimmers of his need to change, and Maddy is simply trying to live. Accidents of Marriage reveals the challenges of family, faith, and forgiveness.

 How many different titles did you experiment with before deciding on Accidents of Marriage?

My first working title was A Thousand Suppers (which comes from a line in the book, but ultimately made no sense out of context.) The title I used when I presented it to my editor was simply Maddy & Ben. After many long sessions with poetry books, anagrams of words, and other methods that I use, I came up with Accidents of Marriage.

 How has working with batterers and victims of domestic violence influenced your writings?

Working with batterers taught me far more than I can put in a paragraph, but here is my version of the most important take-away: Never underestimate the hatred some men have of women. Never think that people (other than the truly damaged) ‘snap’. If they chose to find it, people can access at least a sliver of decision-making. We have agency. We do not choose to hit and scream at our bosses. We choose to hit and scream at people in our homes. The hierarchy of power always comes into play.

Women (and men) do not choose abusive people as their loves—they pick the charming folks they meet in the beginning of a relationship. There might be signs to look out for, but abusers keep those traits in check until the relationship has solidified, when breaking up is more difficult.

There is not a black and white line between being abusive and not being abusive. There is a continuum of behavior, and most of us fall on the wrong side of the best behavior at some point—whether is be yelling, silent treatment, or some other hurtful conduct. Learning that this can be controlled is a job for everyone.

Batterers can change; we can all change our behaviors, but most often we choose not to do the difficult work that change requires. This is something I hope I bring to my writing.

 Can you discuss the role of Maddy and Ben’s daughter in the book?

Emma is an average teenager who is thrown into very un-average circumstances. She becomes the stand-in mother, a role she takes on without credit or even being noticed. She is also the keeper of secrets, an impossible position for her to take on. In every stage of her family’s trauma, she is the silent absorber, who ultimately will break or find strength.

 How did you portray someone with a traumatic brain injury so well?

I did an enormous amount of study. Luckily I find medical research fascinating. My shelves are crammed with memoirs of those with TBI and caretakers of those with TBI, workbooks for those with TBI, and medical texts—as well as spending time on line reading medical information for those in the field and information for those affected by brain injury. I had someone in the field read the novel and am also lucky enough to have a doctor in my writer’s group.

 Did you have any say in choosing the cover for the book?

Yes! The final cover was the fourth one presented. It was tough finding the right ‘mood’ for the cover, but I was very pleased with the final version. Of course, most authors (including me) would love to actually design the cover, but my guess is our final products would not be the graphic success we imagine.

 What made you choose a car crash as the tragic turning point between Ben and Maddy?

Abusive and bullying behavior very often plays out in driving. Road rage is a real problem on our motorways and seemed the logical vehicle for demonstrating how Ben’s bad choices result in devastating consequences.

 Parts of this story make the reader begin to empathize with Ben. Why did you choose to do this?

I don’t believe books that present characters as all good or all bad can adequately capture life’s totality or experiences. It’s important for me to tap into how we are all the stars of our own show and how we often convince ourselves why it is ‘okay’ to act in awful ways. Ben is not all bad, despite doing awful and bad things. The question I explore about Ben (among others) is can he change? Is he, are we, capable of change, and if so, how does will and can that change manifest?

 Is Maddy modeled after anyone that you know?

Maddy is modeled after about a thousand people I know—including myself and my friends and family. Most of us have some Maddy in us, at least at some point. We close our eyes to the worst, or we use drugs or alcohol or food or something else to tamp down our feelings. We live in a maelstrom of problems and pretend it’s all okay. We deny and lie to ourselves. Until we can’t anymore.

 What do you hope readers will take away from reading Accidents of Marriage?

Abusive behavior is wrong, whether it is physical, emotional, verbal or any other type of hurtful behavior. It overwhelms a family. Raising children with verbal and emotional violence is harmful and the ramifications last forever.

Most important, we can control our behavior.

But, most of all, I hope readers take a page-turning story from my book. I don’t write to lecture; I write to tell the stories that mesmerize me, and thus, I hope, fascinate others.


9_5 Randy susan ACCIDENTS OF MARRIAGE REVISED USE COVERThe latest page turner from Randy Susan Meyers, ACCIDENTS OF MARRIAGE (Atria Books; September 2, 2014) never lets go of the reader from the first page to the last. For Madeline Illica, the love of her husband Ben was her greatest blessing and biggest curse. Brilliant, handsome and charming Ben could turn into a raging bull when crossed—and despite her training as a social worker Maddy was never sure what would cross him. When Ben was in a conciliatory mood they worked on techniques for communication and anger management but on the day of the accident, nothing seemed to help. He was furious at having to drive Maddy to work, the road was wet, and that SUV was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Ben never meant for them to go off the road or for Maddy to go flying through the windshield.

Now she’s on a ventilator in intensive care and no one knows if she’ll reawaken from her coma and, if she does, whether she’ll ever be her old self. Maddy’s family blames Ben. Maddy’s friends blame Ben. The children blame Ben. Ben blames Ben—and he is sick to the pit of his soul over the fear of losing his one true love. Fourteen-year-old Emma sees things a little differently. She desperately misses her mother but misses being a teenager more as she’s forced to pick up the slack from Ben and parent her younger siblings Gracie and Caleb. On the cusp of coming of age, she needs Maddy so she can discuss the hard decisions she’s being forced to make. And her confrontations with her volatile father are growing more heated by the day.

Exploring emotional abuse and traumatic brain injury with unblinking honesty, ACCIDENTS OF MARRIAGE is a blindingly clear and immediately engaging account of life inside of a marriage and the choices that can make the difference between living in hell and salvation.

About the Author:RANDY SUSAN MEYERS is the author of The Comfort of Lies and The Murderer’s Daughters and a finalist for the Massachusetts Book Award. Her writing is informed by her work with batterers and victims of domestic violence, as well her experience with youth impacted by street violence. She lives with her husband in Boston, where she teaches writing seminars at the Grub Street Writers’ Center. She is also a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post.

Free Book: A Guitar With Too Many Strings by John Mellor – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. John Mellor be awarding a autographed copy of the original paperback version of the A Guitar With Too Many Strings to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

“Madness dances with brilliance” – a wild rock singer, a lonely white dolphin and other unworldly misfits emerge from their strange stories to challenge a young boy as to why. A gaunt tree leans wearily over them, like a guitar with too many strings. And the Angel leans on her gate, watching. – “Never seen anything quite like this”; “A unique & wonderful manuscript”.

– see for 57 reviews and ratings

“This is not a normal book with a normal story…”

It is the story of a rock singer and the unearthly harmonies plucked from a strange 13-string guitar; and of a bumptious honeybee encountering a strange little man on a planet that isn’t there; and a tired, cynical old philosopher conducting a strange debate with a stone in the woods.

It is the story of a shipwrecked sailor, whose pet egg hatches into a strange seagull; and a worn-out, unworldly old lady dying in a strange land where no-one dreams; and a sad, downtrodden gardener tending a Wise Woman’s strange, disquieting weed.

It is the story of a lonely white dolphin, and a tree – curiously shaped like a guitar with too many strings.

And of a young boy who discovers – with a little help from an Angel – The Seven Gifts – that came to Earth

“A most unusual and beautiful story”

“This is a book to make you think”

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Author Interview: Virginia McCullough

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Virginia McCullough, whose latest release Greta’s Grace was recently released.

Last year, Virginia celebrated her 40th publishing anniversary and, in many ways, writing is all she knows. She began writing when she was very young and at home raising her preschool-age daughter and son in the ’70s.

“Unlike so many of my women friends, I hadn’t prepared for any particular career. My mother was a librarian, however, and later worked in a text book publishing house, and we were a household of readers, and ideas kept popping into my head,” she explained. “Then my family moved to an island on the coast of Maine, where we had some friends who were ‘back to the landers,’ sort of. We didn’t know the first thing about growing so much as a row of lettuce, but we were young and yearned for an adventure. I began to write family living articles for secondary markets—denominational magazines, even though we didn’t practice any of those denominations. If the subject matter fit, the editors didn’t care! I worked in a small town library and wrote articles about children’s literature, too.

The next adventure took us to the sea, literally, and while still in Maine we moved aboard a sailboat and for the next 7 years I wrote articles about living aboard and sailing an old, classic wooden sailboat. We ended up in Annapolis for a couple of school years and then we lived in St. Thomas in the U.S.V.I. for a couple of years. Only later, in the 1980s, when my life changed drastically again, did I begin to make my living ghostwriting and editing nonfiction books and I coauthored a few, too. My time to write fiction came in fits and starts and it wasn’t until I moved to Wisconsin in 2001, that I began carving out enough hours here and there to seriously try to teach myself to write fiction.”

She started considering herself a writer after a magazine bought her first article, about a year after she started writing.

“That article sold on its 13th trip out, by the way,” she said. “But I was wrong to wait. I should have considered myself a writer when I first starting writing with the intention of making writing my career. Now I believe writers write, and publishing and how and where work appears are other issues, part of the profession, of course, but they don’t define us.”

Growing up, though, Virginia wanted to be a dancer, and she studied classical ballet with a Russian-trained teacher who was very strict and structured.

“She also wanted her students to be prepared to be dancers in operas or musicals, for example, so she taught ‘character’ dancing and tap, too. I learned to play the castanets and still find myself drumming my fingers to the pattern and repeating the words to a movement, ‘roll, roll, roll, right, left,’ and ‘both, left, roll, both, left roll.’ This teacher also required her students to study music and I took some piano lessons, but didn’t practice much since we didn’t have a piano—so I took up the violin for a while and studied with a very old man with tufts of white hair and incredibly thick glasses—and he lived on Mozart Street, not far from our apartment. That’s probably one of the reasons I’ve never forgotten him or the experience of playing the violin—badly!” she remembered. “For various reasons I didn’t pursue dance as a career, one being that I didn’t grow much over five feet tall, but the discipline developed while studying dance absolutely carried over to writing. And I still want to learn to play a musical instrument before I leave the planet.”

Virginia is from the mid-north side of Chicago.

“It was probably one of the best possible places to grow up in the ‘50s and ‘60s—certainly for a young girl who wanted to be a ballet dancer and needed a serious teacher,” Virginia told me. “My sister and I—and our friends—had such freedom, too. At very young ages (shockingly young to people today) my sister and I rode the bus and the elevated trains downtown and to distant movie theaters. I can trace my entire life in Chicago to stops on the old Ravenswood line.

“The best part about my childhood in the city was coming of age in the midst of all the great social movements of the day. My parents were activists and my husband and I were, too, and I’ve always felt that my life in the city gave me an immediate sense of my time, my era. Like living the history, in a way. Of course, there are many ways to do that, but being in the thick of it was one of the great privileges of my life.

“I always loved Lake Michigan, my primary landmark. After my time of living and cruising on a boat came to an end (along with my marriage), my kids and I left the Caribbean and moved back to Chicago. For several years I walked along the lake nearly every day, even when the lake was frozen and snow piled up on the rocks and in the parks. I used to walk the miles of lakefront and through the Lincoln Park Zoo and on downtown to appointments with clients. I later moved to Asheville, North Carolina and now I live in Wisconsin, but I still visit family in Chicago.”

“What is your most embarrassing moment?” I wondered.

“When I was about 14, I dressed up in a hand-me-down two piece dress that my sister had just outgrown. I put on white pumps to feel extra sophisticated and headed downtown on the subway to the Drake Hotel, on Walnut Street off Michigan Ave, and near the old Water Tower in Chicago. All this finery, by the way, was for an appointment with our dentist, whose office was in the hotel. But I felt very important strutting around in my grown up clothes. After the appointment, I planned to get a chocolate milkshake at my favorite soda fountain, and I headed down Michigan Avenue, walking amidst all the
‘beautiful people’ going about their business. But then I tripped, bad enough, but my feet had tangled in my own skirt. The hook and eye closure had come undone and the skirt fell down, exposing me in my slip! Nothing to do, but pull it up and keep on going. I’ll never forget feeling my face heating up and catching glimpses of people trying not to laugh at a hapless teenager pulling up her skirt. But I lifted my chin and walked on—and enjoyed the milkshake, too.”

Virginia’s newest release, Greta’s Grace is about a professional speaker, Lindsey Foster.

“That part of the book was fun to develop, especially exploring the concept of a speaker’s ‘signature story,’ which in Lindsey’s case is about the death of a friend. I’ve worked with so many speakers as an editor/ghostwriter and I belonged to the National Speakers Association for about 17 years and went to many chapter meetings and national conferences,” she said. “I’m fascinated by what these individuals do. Much like being a writer, being a speaker is a way of life. Those who are successful stay fresh and up on trends and they market themselves to bureaus and meeting planners—the equivalent of writers marketing to agents and editors.

“Lindsey’s life becomes especially complicated when she develops a fear of flying and tries to hide it. That means driving to speaking engagements when she would normally fly. Eventually, of course, her secret comes out and the reasons for it begin to piece together.”

She’s currently working on Island Secrets, book 2 in the St. Anne’s Island series, bringing Virginia back to her Georgia island setting, involving the Hadley family, another prominent St. Anne’s family (the Saint family was the focus of Island Healing. The search for a biological father drives the story and it deals with uncovering secrets. She’s also working on another book set in the same town where Greta’s Grace takes place, Simon’s Point, Wisconsin. It deals with fertility-infertility issues and a woman finding her artistic voice. She’s also putting finishing touches on a lighter book, The Jacks of Her Heart, a second chance romance, which includes a nostalgia café and other ‘60s and ‘70s elements.

“It still surprises me how real the characters become, and how much I care about them,” Virginia told me. “The characters become like my friends even before I start the actual writing. It also surprises me how much I enjoy writing fiction. I’ve always considered myself fortunate because I like to write and when I was first building my nonfiction business decades ago, I’d tell people how lucky I was because my work was my play. This is how I now feel writing fiction—I still need to make my living with editing/ghosting and coaching, but I spend more time with fiction than in the past. And I feel like a kid with a bunch of crayons or paints when I start working on my stories. The only thing that interferes are ‘voices’ telling me it isn’t very good or otherwise attempting to discourage me. But overall, I can’t believe how much I love the writing process itself.”

“Tell us one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you,” I challenged.

“For some reason almost everyone I meet, clients/readers/new friends, are surprised to learn that I was once a very heavy smoker. I think it’s because I’m generally known as a ‘sensible’ sort of person. So, surely I wouldn’t have taken up such a habit. Ah, but I did, and my secret that’s not really a secret is that I liked it so much.

“I quit many years ago, but smoking was a kind of theme in my life. I was raised in a family of smokers and it was something my mother started as a young woman to show her independence—family lore has it that she taught my father to inhale. But I also ‘blame’ authors like Grace Metalious, Carson McCullers, and Lillian Hellman who posed for their cover pictures holding cigarettes—so, yes, in my eyes, cool women smoked. Independent trailblazing women puffed away on cigarettes. Intellectually, I know that’s not true, and that image is part of a bygone era, but the association is still very strong.

“Like millions of other people I realized I had to quit. But it wasn’t because I wanted to or because I was sick of it. I joke that yeah, smoking is a filthy habit, blah, blah, blah, but I loved every minute of it. I had a terrible fear that I wouldn’t be able to write without smoking, and I still wonder how I would have managed without the nicotine patch—I put it right up there with the Salk vaccine as one of the great advances in recent times. The patch allowed me to break the psychological addiction to the rhythm of smoking and writing. And I’m really grateful. But politically correct or not, I still enjoy seeing people smoke in movies and in books.”

Finally, I asked, “What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?”

“With rare exception, most of us need to accept that we don’t know how to write articles, essays, novels, short stories, and so forth. We have to learn how to craft a lead for an article, for example, and we soon figure out that description, dialogue, and pacing aren’t always so easy and for most of us, require practice.

“I was never praised for my writing in school—in fact, I was stilted and afraid to express myself for fear of misplacing commas and whatnot. Unlike so many colleagues and clients, I was never burdened by messages from other people about being a talented writer, which made it easy to understand that I had to teach myself to write. And I read and read and read good writing and learned from it.

“Many years ago, at the end of a workshop I was presenting, someone asked me to sum up what I’d learned about writing that I could pass on. My answer popped out of my mouth: ‘Discipline really is all it’s cracked up to be.’

I know I couldn’t have made my living as a writer without that ‘lunch bucket’ kind of attitude. It’s my business, my job, so I show up. Some days are better than others, for sure, and days get away from me, too—I end up bemoaning that I’ve spent all day putting out client fires or dealing with email and whatever. But that’s the writer’s life, too. I love the independence that working for myself has allowed, but showing up is the price of admission. And I don’t think I’m unique in any way. Talented or not, we still have to learn and do the work and go through as many drafts as it takes.”

9_2 GretaGrace FRONT FINAL-5-13-14Professional speaker, Lindsey Foster, inspires her audiences with her presentations about the healing power of women’s stories, but her heart aches over her inability to heal her emotionally distant relationship with her daughter, Greta. But now, Greta is ill, and desperate to be closer to her, Lindsey heads to Greta’s new hometown, Simon’s Point, Wisconsin, on the shores of Lake Michigan.

During the many months of Greta’s treatment, Lindsey finds herself drawn to her blustery ex-husband, Brian. But Sam, Greta’s father-in-law, a quiet, reflective man, soon becomes her refuge in this time of crisis.

Willing to do anything to make her daughter happy, Lindsey makes questionable decisions and keeps secrets from Greta, causing more heartbreak. Feeling exiled once again, Lindsey is soon forced to decide between what she believes will make Greta happy and following where her own heart leads.

About the Author:9_2 Publicity PhotoVirginia McCullough’s award-winning titles include her recent release, Greta’s Grace, an Amazon bestseller; and Island Healing, Book 1 of her St. Anne’s Island Series; The Chapels on the Hill; and Amber Light. Her stories speak to hope, healing, and plenty of second chances.

Virginia broke into publishing in the 1970s with articles on family living, sailing-cruising and children’s literature. In the 1980s, she began writing books with healthcare experts, professional speakers, therapists, and others. Her most recent medical book, The Oxygen Revolution, was coauthored with Paul Harch, M.D., a pioneer in hyperbaric medicine. Virginia has served as a ghostwriter for well over 100 books, including 12 titles written for neurologist Alan R. Hirsch, M.D., the creator of the weight loss program, Sensa.

An experienced speaker and workshop presenter, Virginia and her colleague, Lynda McDaniel, cofounded The Book Catalysts, a book writing coaching service. They coauthored Write Your Book Now: An A to Z guide to unleashing your creativity, starting your book, and finishing strong and other titles. Visit Virginia on LinkedIn and Facebook. Website:

LASR Anniversary: Larry Farmer – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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I graduated from Texas A&M in the spring of 1977 with a Business degree. Except for finally having a college degree and feeling competent and skilled, I could have cared less. I didn’t go on even one interview for a job. Instead I bought an old panel truck to live in and headed out to Gallup, New Mexico looking for something different. Gallup was different.

larry monumentvalley (2)Gallup was called the Indian capital of America. There was a huge Navajo reservation nearby and a large proportion of the population of the Gallup area was Navajo. The West appealed to me anyway. But this was desert. Exotic somehow, but desert. And poor. Meaning challenge. I needed challenge.

The corporate world had its challenges, but I had been there done that. I grew up on a cotton farm down in the lower tip of Texas, by South Padre Island and Mexico. It was the poorest area in the country per capita. It was home. Houston was not home.

Houston is where I worked after I got home from the Marines trying to go to Vietnam. I was already disgruntled how the world, including my generation in America, treated people like me. I wasn’t just a hick from the rural South, I was a baby killer too. My generation was burning the flag over what I considered a good cause. Stopping Communist aggression in Southeast Asia.

But stage two of my life in all these changes going on around me was living in Houston in the high tech world. I hated it. I felt caged. I hated my desk job and I still hated the mindset of my generation. Drug sex and rock and roll. Houston was growing and booming. One big party. I hated the party mindset.

This panel truck and Gallup sounded like the best idea I ever had by that summer in 1977. I got a job as a construction laborer for minimum wage. I was building fences and digging ditches with Navajo and illegal aliens from Mexico. I spent a lot of my life growing up working with illegals on our cotton farm and I was part Cherokee. So. A perfect fit somehow. Not really. But it let me breathe and think and dry out my soul. I was looking to find my head, as hippies would have said in the Sixties. Sounded good to me in the Seventies even though I didn’t like hippies.

My best friend ended up being an ex-Bullfighter from Durango. He was so competent and charismatic and just wanted to find a way to feed his family. I knew such stories from my friends on our farm growing up, but Jose was special and we bonded. Chemistry.

I also met an Hispanic girl. Even more chemistry. She was a divorcee and also looking for something in her life. It almost looked like fate, two ships passing in the night sort of thing, the way we needed each other. The way we needed something inside and looked for such together.

So, all these years later I wrote a story about it. I called it The Kerr Construction Company. It got picked up by The Wild Rose Press. I hope you find what I found by reading it.

perf5.000x8.000.inddDalhart McIlhenny is restless after finishing college. With old school values from his rural upbringing in Texas and a chip on his shoulder from being a Marine during the Age of Aquarius, he sets off on a quest. He wants something different in his life. Something others of his generation wouldn’t understand.

The Indian Capital of America. That’s what they call Gallup, New Mexico, and that’s where he’ll search for whatever it is he wants. But first he must find a job. One no one else wants. One as a laborer for minimum wage for the Kerr Construction Company, working with the local Navajo and with illegal aliens. Far away from the fast cars and parties he doesn’t care about like others do. He becomes best friends with an ex-bullfighter from Durango and finds allure in just trying to survive in a world that doesn’t care. Then he meets Carmen.

About the Author: A native of Harlingen, Texas, Larry Lee Farmer grew up on a cotton farm. He attended Texas A&M but dropped out to enlist in the United States Marine Corps, where he attained the rank of sergeant before being honorably discharged after three years. He worked as a computer programmer in Houston and as a civil servant for a US Air Force Base in Frankfurt, Germany, and traveled and worked in Europe for two years, which included flying to Israel in October 1973 to aid the Jewish State in the Yom Kippur War. He was also in Greece in the summer of 1974, when the war between Greece and Turkey erupted over Cyprus, and he was stuck on the Greek island of Ios for part of that war until he managed to catch a boat to Athens just in time to watch the Greek military dictatorship fold.

Back at Texas A&M, he finished his Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and then returned to
Europe and also Israel, where he lived for almost a year. Later he taught English and was a model in Taiwan, after which, while still in the Far East, he acted as a stand in and stuntman in the Hollywood movie Inchon, starring Sir Laurence Olivier. He then returned home to get a master’s degree in agricultural economics at Texas A&M. With that in hand, he joined the US Peace Corps and served for three years in the Philippines. He also worked for several years as a computer programmer for the Swiss government. While in Switzerland, Larry was a country singer as well as a coach for the national
championship American football team Bern Grizzlies. Since then he has been working in the IT department of Texas A&M. He has three children.

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

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Welcome to Uncial Press!

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Uncial Press offers a variety of fiction genres, including Regency, historical and contemporary romance, mysteries, thrillers, and unusual fantasy, both romantic and epic. Occasionally we add a poetry collection or an interesting (and usually humorous) nonfiction work. We’ve been around since 2006 and plan on offering extraordinary ebooks far into the future. Find us at, or look for our titles at most ebooksellers.

Now enjoy a taste of their summer themed story, Summer Heat.

SummerHeatElectra Hamilton is expecting to welcome a lover. What she gets is his annoying, nerdy brother. The man has always made her uncomfortable, always disapproved of her and, frankly, drives her stark-staring crazy. Yet all her friends seem to think he is perfect husband material.

Drew Bolinger knows that courting the woman he has secretly loved for years will be his toughest challenge yet. She thinks he’s an interfering know-it-all. She also happens to be his brother’s best friend. But when the sleepy town of Little Creek becomes a hotbed of intrigue and murder, Drew not only has to fight hard to keep a skeptical Electra safe, but convince her, at the same time, that he is her true hero.

Buy Summer Heat from Uncial Press.

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LASR Anniversary: Velda Brotherton – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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Leave a comment on THIS POST for a chance to win an additional prize – An Ebook copy of Once There Were Sad Songs.

One year we camped for a week at Lake Ouachita State Park in the Ouachita Mountains of Southern Arkansas. The lake is like most waters in Arkansas, crystal clear and a bit cold. Its shores stretch for miles throughout the deep valleys of the jade green mountain peaks. In the shadowy inlets, fishermen sit in boats, casting glistening lines into the still hiding places where fish feed.

Near our tent was a nice sandy beach and one afternoon after a shivery swim, I stretched out on a blanket in the hot sun. From a nearby campsite I heard music straight out of the Sixties and raised on my elbow to check it out. Three men in chopped off jeans lounged around an umbrella tent, singing along. An occasional outburst of laughter floated in the summer air.

The water was as still as a sheet of ice, the sun a shining reflection creating odd ripples in the still warm air. I was young then, and a bit of a romantic, already hearing voices that clamored for their stories to be told. So it wasn’t surprising when I began to write scenes for those men and a woman lying alone on the beach.

It would be years later before I wrote that book, and many more before it was published. But I often think back in wonder at how stories are born. And how many books I have written from some random experience that grew to fruition in my mind.

Creativity forms in a special place in the mind. Artists paint an imagined or dreamed of scene on canvas, musicians write heart breaking songs from ethereal notes that come to them on stormy or sunny days, and a young writer forms the framework for a novel while lying on a sunny beach on a summer’s day.

Once There Were Sad Songs came from that long ago day. Steven, Lefty and Shadow grew into complicated characters fighting to build a life after a debilitating war, and Mary Elizabeth joined them in her efforts to leave an unhappy existence and find a bright, shiny new world.

Velda Brotherton cover 4 (2)In the summer of 1985, Mary Elizabeth flees a fanatic husband and a cult-like life to search for a meaningful existence. Camped in Ouachita State Park she falls in with three scruffy motorcycle bums after one of them rescues her from some young hoodlums. That one, despite all his nightmare memories, teaches her the true meaning of love and changes her life forever.

Steven, a Vietnam vet and war hero set on the path to destruction with his buddies, never expected to find a woman whose love could help him see how to atone for his misspent life and find happiness again. But once he’s found her and realized the way he must go, it’s impossible to keep her in his life. Or is it?

About the Author:In the 28 years Velda has been writing she has experienced unusual, sad, happy and exquisite times. Many of those have become books. With 19 published in both fiction and nonfiction, she just signed a four-book contract that will see her into next year with books in three genres. She continues to write in her first love, western historical romance, and the latest, Rowena’s Hellion will be out this year.

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Curve My Song by Sarah Gai – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Sarah will be awarding $25 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

8_5 curve Cover_CurveMySongFollow the amazing plus size trio, The Curvies, as they find love, drama, tears, laughs and a song to match every situation. Bree Carson loves her life, friends and little town, but something is missing. Taylor Cole returns home after ten years and old flames reignite. Can he break through Bree’s walls? This book is the first in a three novella set following the lives of three curvy best friends: Bree, Elise and Skyla. The first book follows Bree and her life as she fumbles her way through letting down walls and letting love in. This novella has a lot of laughs and a little drama and introduces the readers to the rest of the characters leading into the second book, which builds up suspense for the third and final installment. These novellas will appeal to plus size or curvy women everywhere, especially those who enjoy books in the BBW (big, beautiful women), chicklit and women’s fiction genres. It’s just one of those reads that busy women of today can enjoy while they relate to the curvy ladies who aren’t super models but representative of your average everyday beauty.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Forty-five minutes later, I rush through the front door of the shop. Tables and sofa seats are filled with customers, and people are lining up at the counter to place or pay for their orders.

I see Skyla running around, trying her best to keep pace, and looking flustered. Throwing my things under the counter top, I make my way to the cash register and begin working.

When Skyla sees that I have finally arrived, a look of anger and frustration floods her face. After staring me down for what felt like hours (okay, like ten seconds), the ‘I’m-so-mad-at-you’ face is suddenly transformed into a look of relief as she drops her shoulders and breathes a sigh”

Excerpt From: Sarah Gai. “Curve My Song.” iBooks.

About the Author: 8_5 curve AuthorPicSarah Gai is the author of The Curvies series. Living in Victoria Australia. As a devoted wife and mother of three, when Sarah is not writing she will be found reading in a quiet corner somewhere or out for coffee with her own real life Curvies. Being a busy mum she was always trying to find a quick and fun read to squeeze in and that is when the idea for the three novella set sparked into her mind. Wanting to write for all the women out there who want a good short read about strong friendships, romance and body positive, love the skin you’re in kind of fiction.

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Too Christian or Not Christian Enough? by Ginger Marcinkowski – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Ginger will be awarding a $10 Starbucks Card + eBook copy of The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Too Christian or Not Christian Enough?
A couple of years ago I found myself in quite the dilemma. I had completed my first novel and was beginning the search for a publisher. Not yet understanding the ins and outs of the publishing world, I began making pitches to publishers suggested to me by others. I thought I had done a decent job on my query letters and on the pitches I made to a few agents and publishers at the pitch sessions held during my M.F.A. program.

Those who read my work were complimentary about the quality of my writing, but suggested I take out the references to God I had made. That seemed a bit odd to me, as my main character, Emily Evans, had lived with the pain of her father’s abuse her whole life. In the story, Run, River Currents, I spoke of that abuse somewhat graphically in two particular scenes. In the rest of the book, I alluded to the godly influence her grandfather had on her, but mentioned little about the impact of her grandfather until the final two chapters. Close to the ending, I showed a scene where Emily finally gave in to the calling of God’s voice. It was a shadowed reference that had to do with her almost drowning in the Tobique River. No hallelujahs, no lightening strikes, just a realization that she could no longer fight the pain of her abuse and anger alone. In the final scene, she gathers with her family and shows a softer side of herself. Her family immediately understands her transformation.

One publisher said it seemed a little “too preachy” for her liking. One particular agent went so far as to say that “her” readers disliked when authors tried to “push” their beliefs on them. Her words stung, as I didn’t feel as though my novel had done that. The bottom line was that I didn’t care. I wrote a lot of truth into that novel and as a Christian, wasn’t about to apologize for doing so, so long as the work was well written.

Shortly thereafter I discovered the American Christian Fiction Writer’s (ACFW) Genesis Award Contest. The contest was for author’s that had not yet been published. Convinced I had written a decent book, I excitedly submitted the work for consideration. I joined ACFW and sent in my registration for the fall Conference. Even if nothing came of the contest, at least I knew I might have found a group of agents and publishers that would surely understand my novel.

In the meantime, I continued to submit my manuscript to various publishers hoping it would land in the place God meant it to be. It did thanks to a dear friend who loved my work and recommended it to her publisher, Booktrope.

Just before I was to leave for the ACFW Conference, I received the news that Booktrope had an editor who was excited about the manuscript. Shortly after, I was signed as an author and my publishing journey began.

Even though Run, River Currents had been picked up, I was curious to see if another publisher might be interested in another work I had, as I had not pitched to a Christian group before. I remember being a bit nervous as I approached the first of four agents or publishers I’d be pitching to at the conference. She was lovely, young, with a bright smile. I had ten minutes for my pitch and had learned long before to give a great hook and then let the agent ask questions. She did, grilling me like a bloody steak. She asked to read the first couple of pages and did so while I looked on.

I watched a coy smile cross her face.

“You know, in Christian fiction, the writer cannot say ‘vodka.’ It should be alluded to,” she said. “And you can’t mention any character having sex of any kind. Christian readers don’t like that.” I was stunned. I had sex. I like sex and I’m a Christian. I even enjoy a glass of wine now and then. Besides, I didn’t talk about the sex; I just made an innuendo about a married couple enjoying each other. She took that as sex.

Table after table, appointment after appointment, the cutting words continued. Each of these people were lovely and very kind to me, but I was actually amazed that none of them believed that Christians do not read about issues that plague the world or their past lives.

I stumbled through the rest of the conference disenchanted with what I had learned; yet there, among all of the Amish romances, and cozy mysteries was my dark novel, now listed as a semi-finalist in the Genesis Awards! How could that be? Learning that it would not move up to finalist or winner because my new publisher, Booktrope, was not an “approved” Christian publisher, I became disillusioned with the Christian market.

Not long after the conference was over and Run, River Currents was published, reviews began pouring in. I was featured in blog after blog, both secular and Christian alike. Most reviews were very complimentary, but one was quite hurtful. It was from a young Christian woman who failed to review the work itself, but instead called my Christianity into question. She felt that “if” I were a Christian, I would not write such things, claiming that what I did write was not edifying to the body of Christ. I let it go and thanked her for taking the time to write a review. I was not too foolish to think everyone would like this dark story, but I also could not apologize for the truth I had written.

In the end, God worked His way. Run, River Currents went on to become a finalist in the 2013 Kindle Book Awards. It opened the door to renewed relationships in my family and with the people of the town where I grew up. I received many emails from women who, for the first time in their lives, were able to share their own dark stories. I was able to encourage them, give them hope, and I sold books.

I guess the lesson here is to write truth, no matter what the truth is. I fictionalized my story adding details only I knew were real or not. Booktrope liked my work so well they created a Christian imprint named, Vox Dei, under which my works are published. It is now an “approved” publisher for ACFW. That imprint is now giving other Christian authors an outlet for works that are not labeled by the prejudices of others. God had a plan. I’m just glad I was a part of it!

8_1 Cover_The Button Legacy Emily’s InheritanceBased on the true story of one family’s spiritual saga revealed through buttons that have been secreted away in an antique box, and that ultimately hold the key to each generation’s salvation.

Ginger Marcinkowski’s first novel, Run, River Currents featured Emily Evans, who as a girl shared a special understanding with her grandfather, John Polk. Despite the scars of her father’s abuse John taught her to look to the future in faith, promising Emily God’s grace can be seen even in the simplest thing—a button.

Years after her grandfather John’s death, the unexpected delivery of a decorated tin, still brimming with odd-colored buttons is delivered to Emily. The reappearance of the family buttons unlocks joyous memories and guides Emily to realize a secret her grandfather promised lay within the stories of that worn button box; the healing power of prayer. In The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance each button connects one generation to the next as their interrelated stories unfold across the timeless landscape of their spiritual journey.

Enjoy an excerpt:

“Grampy!” The girl’s thin figure stood in the living room doorway, her hands placed firmly on her hips. Her face was stern, crinkled, as though she were about to give the old man a scolding. “Look!” she said, uncapping her hand to reveal a white button that looked like it came from the blouse she was wearing. “Someone nailed my windows shut! I tore the button off my blouse trying to open them. Look!”

She walked toward John, hand open. He plucked the small, pink, pearl-like button from her palm, rose from the chair, and moved toward the oak hutch. Retrieving the button box, he opened the tin container and dropped the button inside.

“Then I guess we won’t have to worry about you going to the Legion anymore, will we?” John watched his granddaughter’s face as it soured. But in seconds, her eyes began to smile and her head tilted back. A laugh unlike any he had heard come from her in years warmed the air around him. The wrinkles in his face turned upward, and he, too, began to laugh.

“That will be a good story someday, Grampy!” Emily said between her giggles. He opened his arms and enveloped her, closing his eyes tightly. He praised God in a whisper for moments like these. He had held his own daughter this way many years before she’d left home and married. He often prayed that Maureen would finally humble herself and give the remainder of her days to the Lord. He knew he might never see that day arrive, but holding his granddaughter, he prayed that she might someday remember this moment and realize that God had been there with her all along.

About the Author:8_1 Author PicGinger Marcinkowski was born as one of eight siblings in northern Maine along the Canadian border, a setting that plays a prominent role in her novels, Run, River Currents and The Button Legacy-Emily’s Inheritance.

Her debut novel, Run, River Currents, was published in August 2012, was a 2012 semi-finalist in the ACFW Genesis Awards and a 2013 Kindle Book Award Finalist. The Button Legacy-Emily’s Inheritance, will be released in July 2014. An interesting fact about Ginger is that she is a million-mile flier with United Airlines and had been a multi-million dollar travel agent in the past. Her travel experience will be the catalyst for a new series of mysteries whose main characters are travel agents.

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Author Interview: Martha Woodroof

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Martha Woodroof as she promotes her debut novel Small Blessings which is being released August 12. Leave a comment or ask the author a question for a chance to win a print copy of the book (US only).

Like many authors, Martha can’t remember not writing. She started her first novel when she was in her early teens.

“It was called Benjamin J. Beenbracker, Bigamist, and the first line when something like ‘May Ellen was thirty, but looked forty trying to look twenty,’ which I still think is a pretty good first line,” she told me.

She started with bad poetry (although she did get a personal rejection letter from the Atlantic Monthly poetry editor when she was twelve that she wishes she’d hung onto), wrote some short stories and progressed to writing a lot of personal essays and a short book about her personal experiences with the Twelve Steps (she’s a long-term recovering alcoholic and pill-popper).

“I started writing novels maybe twenty-five years ago, and learned to write a good (hopefully) novel mostly through working with Arts Desk editors at NPR,” she explained. “Boy, howdy, do those people get story. I could do character, setting, dialogue pretty well on my own, but the art of driving a story eluded me until I worked with Jeffrey Freymann-Weyr, Laura Bertran, and my great friend Loretta Williams — who actively helped me whip the plot of Small Blessings into shape, mostly by asking me such hard questions as: What, exactly, is going on in this scene?”

“What inspired you to write?”

“I think it was the sound of my mother’s voice when she read aloud to my sister and me. She was an English professor, and loved words almost as much as she loved me. I would lie on the floor, listening to her, and turn the words she read aloud into vivid, other worlds. Dickens, Shakespeare, the myths of many countries, The Tales of Robin Hood — those and many other imaginary ‘word worlds’ still dance in my head. I suppose I started writing to turn my own imaginary worlds into words, hoping others will take as much delight in them as I do.”

She grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina, in the fifties and early sixties, at which point she left for boarding school.

“My hometown was part of the Civil Rights struggle, and, as a young teen, I was a proud (albeit brief) participant in the Woolworth sit-in. My great fiend Allen Troxler’s mother, Eunice Troxler, ran a tutoring program for African American children struggling to keep up in integrated schools after generations of ‘separate but equal’ education. I was a volunteer with this program, and I’m proud to say a planning session held in the country, merited a KKK cross-burning. Wow, did those guys look silly in their sheets! Growing up in Greensboro taught me not to be afraid of having beliefs and standing up for them!”

Martha’s novels always start with a first line.

“As for the characters and plot, the characters come first. I am most definitely a people person. The characters and plot just show up in my head and start doing things together,” she said. “That’s usually it for the first draft. At that point I show my work to someone whom I trust as a savvy plot doctor (my friend, Loretta Williams; and my agent for the last couple of years, Kate Garrick) and then I go to work installing some pace and discipline into the doings of my new imaginary friends.”

“Tell us about your writing space,” I said.

“The aforementioned mother was also a rigid neatnik, so I am a rebellious mess-nik. I write in a room with a view of Little North Mountain in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, that is piled high with books and stuff that’s connects me to the people I love, places I’ve been, and the adventures I’ve had.”

Martha writes for three hours every morning, before her brain gets wired with the day’s busy-ness, and her husband keeps her coffee cup full. After that, she usually goes into her office at WMRA public radio.

“How do you do research for your books?” I wondered.

“I’ve lived a long, adventurous, rule-busting life that has sometimes worked beautifully and sometimes been a train wreck. It’s brought me into contact with many different kinds of folks, which has pretty much taught me that people are people and we’re all trying to do the best we can with what we’ve got to work with. I write kind of the same way Miss Marple sleuths; take bits and pieces of people I’ve crossed paths with and stir them up into fictional characters.”

Finally, I asked, “If you were to write a series of novels, what would it be about?”

“This is a risky thing to say as a first-time published novelist, but I am writing a series — a la Maeve Binchy or Alexander McCall Smith. The novel I’m working on now has some of the same characters as Small Blessings, and I’m planning a third novel with some overlap as well. The main characters and setting will be mostly new, however.”

8_1 woodroof small blessings jacketTom Putnam, an English professor at a Virginia women’s college, has resigned himself to a quiet and half-fulfilled life. For more than ten years, his wife Marjory has been a shut-in, a fragile and frigid woman whose neuroses have left her fully dependent on Tom and his formidable mother-in-law, Agnes Tattle. Tom considers his unhappy state self-inflicted, since Marjory’s condition was exacerbated by her discovery of Tom’s brief and misguided affair with a visiting poetess. But when Tom and Marjory meet Rose Callahan, the campus bookstore’s charming new hire, and Marjory invites Rose to dinner, her first social interaction in a decade, Tom wonders if it’s a sign that change is on the horizon. And when Tom returns home that evening to a letter from the poetess telling him that he’d fathered her son, Henry, and that Henry, now ten, will arrive by train in a few days, it’s clear change is coming whether Tom’s ready or not.

About the Author:8_1 Martha Woodroof November 18 2012 017MARTHA WOODROOF was a regular contributor to NPR news programs, and now writes for She has also written for Martketplace and Weekend America, and for the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Radio Feature Bureau. Her print essays have appeared in such newspapers as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The San Francisco Chronicle. She lives with her husband in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Their closest neighbors are cows.

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Us by Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Anne and Kenneth will be awarding a $40 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. click on the tour banner to see the rest of the stops on the tour.

Ten Things You Might Not Know about Us
1. We love to travel. Recently, we have visited ancient sites in Turkey (Ephesus and Troy) and Egypt (the pyramids at Giza and the Valley of the Kings at Luxor). We are planning a trip to Rome and Venice in the fall, then a cruise to more ancient places along the Adriatic and the North Coast of Africa. You may be seeing a pattern here.

2. Our family is very important to us. We have three children whom we adore and of whom we are very proud. Our eldest son is an actor who also conducts tours in Manhattan and Brooklyn. His younger brother is a teacher of high school English and drama in the New York City public schools, and also writes and directs plays. Their even younger sister is a tutor for many high-end tutoring companies and is an actress and singer. Did we mention how proud we are of them?

3. Ken has been a lawyer for almost forty years in New York City. Anne was an editor and since then a full-time mom. Both Anne and Ken never stopped writing. Ken would do his in fits and snatches on weekend mornings, and Anne found time here and there and anywhere during the week. The experiences both have gained from being parents, as well as while working in publishing (she), and in law (he), have found their way into the novels.

4. We have lived in New York City for over forty years. We have enjoyed the museums, theatre, opera, orchestras, movies and restaurants, and all the rest that New York has to offer. It is a fascinating place where we can walk around the same neighborhood again and again and always count on seeing something different. Kate and the Kid is set in New York City, and much of the action occurs in Central Park and the various playgrounds nearby in which we spent a lot of time with our own children. New York plays a big part in three of our other books, including Mind Me, Milady (a mystery/suspense novel), Things Are Not What They Seem (a ‘tween suspense/fantasy story), and Praise Her, Praise Diana (a suspense novel). An intimate knowledge of this complex place helps us to ground the plot incidents.

5. Cape Cod is a favorite spot of ours. For several years we went to Wellfleet, which is one of the prettiest towns anywhere. During the last few years we have moved north on the Cape to Truro and rented a house in the dunes that is wonderfully peaceful and beautiful and that allows us to hear the surf every night before we drift off to sleep. We have read our books for children at the Truro and Eastham libraries and also displayed photographs of local picture stones there.

6. Even though there are loads of restaurants of all kinds in New York, we enjoy cooking and have tried with varying degrees of success to imitate the variety of styles that we enjoy – Indian, Chinese, Thai, Italian, North African and Middle Eastern.

7. We go to the gym three mornings a week together, usually arriving at 6:00 a.m.. Anne supplements the gym time with yoga and aerobics classes. Ken likes to play tennis whenever he can. We also enjoy many long walks through the City’s various neighborhoods and take in all the arts that we can. Never a dull moment!

8. Photography is a major interest of ours. While on the beaches of Cape Cod we looked closely at stones and saw that many had beautiful miniature pictures on them, which we photographed and put together in a book that is available on the iBookstore. We also have published a book containing images of hearts that we have photographed on the streets and sidewalks of New York City and which is similarly available on the iBook store. Examples of these and other photographs can be seen on our Pinterest page.

9. We have used photography and the wonders of Photoshop to illustrate a book for children called Stone Faces, which is about a young girl, Alice, whose parents are getting a divorce. Alice is feeling lonely and depressed until she finds a stone on the beach at Cape Cod that begins to talk to her and becomes her friend. Through a series of adventures she starts to come to terms with the divorce.

We have also planned a picture book called Country Mouse, which has images from the sidewalks of New York City and another book called Splotch!, which will rely more on text with some pictures appearing as necessary throughout.

10. We are also interested in the history of New York City, and in our novel Mind Me, Milady, one of the main characters, Susan, seems to be remembering an earlier life when she was an indentured servant at the time of the Battle of Manhattan during the Revolutionary War. McGown’s Pass, in the northern section of Central Park, is the site of a culminating scene in this book.

MEDIA KIT Cover Kid 6 x 9KATE AND THE KID is about a young woman (Kate) who has just lost her job and had a major fight with her boyfriend (also arising from the trauma of being fired). At this very low point in her life, Kate is tricked into taking care of a sweet but emotionally damaged six-year-old girl (Jenny) who only communicates with adults through a doll she calls “Miranda.” As a result of an eventful night of babysitting, Kate begins to bond with Jenny, which causes a whole new set of complications with the people in Kate’s and Jenny’s lives. This book tells the story of how Kate and Jenny help each other to heal, grow, and navigate the difficult and sometimes dangerous world of New York City.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Like any kid sleeping in an unfamiliar place, Jenny was up at first light. She crept into the living room and sat cross-legged within a few inches of Kate’s sleeping form. When Kate stirred, Miranda’s plastic face was pressed gently against her cheek.


“Hi, Katy!” Miranda said in her high-pitched voice.

“Hi, Miranda!” Kate replied in the deepest basso tones she could manage without harming her vocal chords.

Jenny giggled. Miranda danced with delight on the mattress.

“Say it again!”

Kate sat up, swinging her legs over the side of the bed.

“Hi, Miranda! Wasamatta?”

Jenny giggled harder than before, but Kate noticed that Jenny had changed her clothes again. Her pink shirt had a bright yellow flower on it, which matched smaller yellow flowers on her pink shorts. Miranda wore a new matching outfit also, yellow with a touch of pink.

“Girls,” Kate said very seriously now. “You didn’t go out on the fire escape again, did you?” The answer was obvious, both from the downcast look on Jenny’s face and from the fact that Miranda also turned away in apparent shame. “Please, no more walking on the fire escape? Okay? Please? Will you promise me that?”

“Yes, Katy,” Miranda said sweetly. “And Jenny promises too.”

About the Author: MEDIA KIT Melange pic 2Anne Rothman-Hicks was born in New York City and, except for a brief exile to the suburbs imposed by her parents, she has lived there all of her life, the latter part of which she has shared with her co-author, Kenneth Hicks, and their three children.

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