Good Faith by Liz Crowe- Spotlight and Giveaway

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GRAND PRIZE: Kindle Fire pre-loaded with all Liz Tri-Desitny titles
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Strong personalities—volatile marriages—stressful careers—conflicting goals—difficult children.

Contemporary challenges facing close-knit families form the crucible that forges a new generation.

Brandis, Gabriel, Blair and Lillian emerge from the entanglement of their parents’ longstanding emotional connections, but one’s star will burn brighter – and hotter – than the others.

With a personality that consumes everyone and everything in its path, Brandis Gordon struggles to maintain control as he ricochets between wild success and miserable failure. His life proves how even the strongest relationships can be strangled by the ties that bind.

Brandis and Gabe Frietag are as close as any brothers, bound by both loyalty and fierce rivalry. The strength of their ultimate alliance is tested time and again by Brandis’ choices.

Companions from birth, Blair Frietag and Lillian Robinson share loner tendencies, but come to rely on each other through adolescence. As they mature, both are forced to confront their feelings for the men they knew as boys.

Somewhere between the tangle of good memories and bad, independence and addiction, optimism and despair, the intertwined destinies of the new generation finally collide, leaving some stronger, others broken, but none unscathed.

As a chronicle of three families navigating the minefields of teen years into the turbulence of young adulthood, Good Faith holds up a literary mirror to contemporary life with joys and temptations unflinchingly reflected. Its fresh, real-life voice portrays the sheer volatility of human nature, complete with the hopes, dreams, and unexpected setbacks of marriage, parenthood and “coming of age.”

Enjoy an excerpt:

That morning his father had roused him from a sound sleep. He’d blinked, confused, by the angle of the sunlight. He rarely slept much past eight since he usually had some sort of training or the other.

“Let’s go son. Time for lunch.”

Brandis had dragged himself up, his limbs feeling like they weighed a thousand pounds each. His brain buzzed with a strange sort of energy, his typical state, and not at all welcome considering it normally didn’t hit him until later in the day. The conversation his father began as soon as they were seated at their usual diner did not help.

“So, listen, Brandis. These girls…Katie’s friends from college….”

Brandis sipped his ice water, waiting for his father to finish the thought. His heart pounded, and his face flushed hot with embarrassment.

Jack sighed, as if exasperated that Brandis didn’t pick up the thread on his own, leaving him to carry on with the awkwardness about to ensue. Then he leveled his gaze, his face open, not angry or judgmental. “I think that you may be in for some…I mean, they’re…shit.”

“If you are gonna tell me where babies come from again,” Brandis said, after deciding to ease his father’s obvious distress. He cocked an eyebrow and half a smile. Jack seemed to relax somewhat as Brandis continued. “Don’t bother. I already know.”

He flashed his brightest smile up at the middle-aged woman who stood at their table, coffee pot in hand. She blinked rapidly at him, and at that precise moment, Brandis got his first flash of…something…about his power. Up until now he’d merely been “Brandis the trouble maker, the causer of strife.” Suddenly, he felt strong, amazingly so, stronger than even the man sitting across from him, a taller, older version of himself. His body tingled all over, as he tested the smile out again on the woman, making her slop some coffee out onto the table. His father frowned, but then chuckled as the woman walked away after they gave their orders.

“Son,” he said, leaning back and cradling the coffee mug to his chest. “Your adventure has only just begun.”

“Huh?” Brandis picked up his cup but didn’t drink any. He hated coffee, but had ordered it in a burst of need to be more like Jack. As he sipped the bitter stuff, he was transported back years before when he and his dad would spend every single Saturday morning together, eating breakfast at this very diner. He had adored the man, he remembered distinctly. His chest hurt at the simplicity of their relationship then. He looked away from Jack’s deep blue, knowing gaze.

The subject changed of its own accord, and Brandis let it. Although part of him wanted to ask for advice, a much bigger part would not allow the words past his lips.

They ate, discussing the upcoming football season and Brandis’ part in it. The recruiting company Jack had contracted last year to video his every move would start up with the first game. He’d made varsity again, technically as backup quarterback to a senior boy. Brandis didn’t see this as a setback and had every intention of starting under center by the second or third game.

Finally, when they pushed their empty plates back and sat looking at each other, Brandis felt more comfortable in his father’s presence than he had been in a long time. Jack said, “I am pretty sure at least one of those girls sleeping in the basement is determined to change the status of your virginity for you probably as soon as tonight.”

Brandis choked on the last sip of lukewarm coffee. His face burned, and his body tingled again. “I’m…it’s…uh….” He clutched the napkin in his lap unable to meet his father’s eyes.

“No need to say anything. Let’s just say your mother is an astute reader of female intent. While I was busy admiring your sister’s friend’s ass, she apparently read the girl’s mind or something.” Brandis’ face flushed even hotter.

He resisted the urge to protest, to proclaim his innocence of such things. Because he wanted it back—those mornings between them, father and son, man and boy, not this awkward, man and almost-man bullshit. Because while the thought of one of his sister’s college friends popping his cherry remained a pleasant fantasy, it also made him feel older than he wanted to be right then.

“So, I bought a box of condoms this morning,” Jack went on. “Put some downstairs in the side table drawer and the rest in your room. Use them please.” He sipped the last of his coffee, looked as if he were about to get up, then leaned forward, touching Brandis’ wrist. “Have fun. Don’t be an asshole to women. Let every experience teach you…something. Because you are nothing as a man if you don’t learn from every woman you…love.” Jack looked out the window onto the nearly empty parking lot. Then he turned back, tightened his grip on his son’s arm. “God, you are so…young.” His face fell a moment, then he perked up again, his eyes twinkling. “Okay, so, your mother told me to tell you not to let them corrupt you. But all I’m gonna say is this: always wear protection, no matter what, no matter how much you don’t want to. And don’t let your mom catch you in the act. I’ll handle her otherwise.”

Then he let go, stood and smiled, draping a friendly arm around Brandis’ shoulders as they exited the restaurant.

“You really didn’t tell me you were admiring Katie’s friend’s ass, did you, Dad?”

“No, son. I most certainly did not. You obviously misheard me.” Jack winked as he stood by the passenger’s side of his classic Corvette convertible and tossed the keys to Brandis. “Remember what I told you. Don’t ride my clutch.”

About the Author:

Amazon best-selling author, beer blogger and beer marketing expert, mom of three, and soccer fan, Liz Crowe lives Ann Arbor. She has decades of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as a three-continent, ex-pat trailing spouse.

Her early forays into the publishing world led to a groundbreaking fiction subgenre, “Romance for Real Life,” which has gained thousands of fans and followers interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”). More recently she is garnering even more fans across genres with her latest novels, which are more character-driven fiction, while remaining very much “real life.”

With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, in successful real estate offices and at times in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are unique and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, frustrate and linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.

Buy the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes

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One of Your Most Valuable Writing Tools by Sandra Hunter – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Sandra will be awarding a Losing Touch mini book necklace and mini book charm to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


The trick for the writer is to find a combination of good friend and clear-eyed critic.

Where I am now

Last Thanksgiving, a highlight was a thread of funny, warm, emails from my writing group. They included descriptions of a walk with friends, drinking mint mocha, a dry rub recipe for turkey. We discovered, awestruck, that one of us owns a porringer. One had a houseful of guests but stopped to send hugs. We congratulated one whose new daily writing habit had reached the 100-day mark. We were jubilant to find out that one had work accepted for publication.

Many different stories from many different places, but one thing remained constant: each of us sent love and gratitude that we knew one another and, as one put it, that we filled each other with generosity.

Where I was


Until 2011, I did my writing in a guilt-ridden, hidden rush. I’m a mother and part-time professor, so any writing time is shoved into the parking zone: between 10pm and 6am.

Of course, I’d read about writers’ groups and retreats. But I was skeptical about spending the money. How beneficial were they?

Enter: A Room of Her Own

New Year 2011: a friend casually mentioned the A Room of Her Own> women writers’ retreat. Initially, I was appalled. It was in New Mexico? In August? But I read the description on the AROHO website and looked at previous participants’ reviews. They seemed well, quite sane really.

Into the wilds of New Mexico

Night one of the retreat, melting in a room with no air-conditioning, I was scared that I’d made a huge mistake.

But in the morning, I listened to the conversations in the breakfast line: What are you reading? What are you writing? How’s your blog? I’ll link to you on mine. Oh X just published a memoir, you should talk to her. Y runs workshops for abused kids, too: I’ll introduce you.

And that’s when I knew it wasn’t a mistake: these were my people. Okay, some of them weren’t exactly my people, but from among them I found my current group of nine stunningly supportive and talented women writers.

Why we need support

Writing is a weird, solitary activity. That’s why we need other writers who understand what we do and why we do it.

Alone, you are one writer with some connections. Add yourself to a group and there are immediately more opportunities. The more writers you connect with the greater the arsenal for publishing, blogging, reviewing, teaching, work-shopping, oh — and reading. When any of my writing group suggests a book, I’ll look it up. I wouldn’t necessarily do that with other friends.

Online vs. In-flesh

Online groups are enormously successful, such as the excellent SheWrites that offers a broad spectrum of opportunities.

But, for me, nothing beats an actual group of writer friends who may take forever to agree on a meeting date, but bring wine and cookies, and then sit down and share work. There’s nothing like laughing so hard that you’re holding each other up in the kitchen, like being moved to tears by a piece that reaches into the place you’d forgotten was sore, like being transported by watching someone read their poem, like having people who really listen to your work.

What good writing friends do:

• love you into facing yet another blank page
• don’t take I didn’t have time for an answer
• make you sit down and rewrite even if you’re still smarting over numerous rejections
• encourage you to keep submitting

How do you create your own Circle of Love?

Check out the retreats listed at Poets & Writers. Some are juried (manuscript submission required), while others are open (just sign up). They range in genre and length.

For example, Clarion at UC San Diego runs a 6 week summer fantasy/sci-fi workshop. For memoir writers, Wild Mountain runs a weekend retreat in Washington State.


If you think of the retreat as a vacation, you may end up resenting what you spend.

This isn’t a “break”: it’s a deliberate choice to expand the quality and productivity of your writing life for years to come.

The short and the long of it

The weekend option may be a good start for those who are shyer or more socially resistant. You can spend just enough time with people to see if you want more.

However, for your money’s worth, take the plunge into the longer retreat. You’ll have the chance to make more sustainable connections. After two weeks of sharing meals, morning yoga, and participating in evening readings you’ll know, with absolute clarity, the names you want to add to your Circle of Love list. And, of course, the ones you don’t.

And finally

Do a little digging. Spend the money. It’s an invaluable long-term investment for your success as a writer. You take risks in your writing: take a risk on behalf of it. The dividends are endless.

MEDIA KIT losing final frontAfter Indian Independence Arjun brings his family to London, but hopes of a better life rapidly dissipate. His wife Sunila spends all day longing for a nice tea service, his son suddenly hates anything Indian, and his daughter, well, that’s a whole other problem. As he struggles to enforce the values he grew up with, his family eagerly embraces the new. But when Arjun’s right leg suddenly fails him, his sense of imbalance is more than external. Diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, he is forced to question his youthful impatience and careless cruelty to his family, until he learns, ultimately, to love them despite — or because of — their flaws. In a series of tender and touching glimpses into the shared life of a married couple, Sandra Hunter creates strikingly sympathetic characters — ones that remind us of our own shortfalls, successes, hypocrisies, and humanity.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Sometimes she goes to stand at the bottom of the garden, pretending to tidy up the compost heap, and allows the forbidden thought to come: divorce.

She can only whisper it. It’s a bad word. Bad people do it. But in the Woman’s Own magazine at the doctor’s office, she read that Elizabeth Taylor had done it. She’d done it so many times that it was just part of her normal routine. Get up, put on face cream, divorce Richard. How daring it sounds, so chic. Sunila practices. Get up, put on Johnson’s Baby Lotion, divorce Arjun. I’ll just divorce him and he can take his disapproving face and jump in the lake.

About the Author:MEDIA KIT hat shot3Sandra Hunter’s fiction has been published in a number of literary magazines and received awards including the 2014 H.E. Francis Fiction Award, 2012 Cobalt Fiction Prize, 2011 Arthur Edelstein Short Fiction Prize and three Pushcart Prize nominations. Her debut novel, Losing Touch, was released in July (OneWorld Publications). She lives in Simi Valley, CA, with her husband and daughter, and is always on the look out for the perfect gluten-free cupcake.

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

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Revenge has never been such fun by Sarah Rayner – Guest Blog

Revenge has never been such fun
Sarah Rayner
We authors get our inspiration in the strangest of ways. When my cat, Othello, jumped on my bed in the middle of the night a few years ago, he gave me the idea for Getting Even, my latest novel. But rather than simply rewrite Shakespeare’s tragedy (and let’s face it, the playwright did it rather well first time round) I thought I’d twist events and characters to my own end.

‘Write about what you know’ is advice often given to struggling novelists. It was then I had a Eureka moment. ‘Aha!’ I said to the cat. ‘Advertising is highly social, dynamic, political and often bitchy, it would be the perfect backdrop for a revenge story.’ Othello looked nonplussed, but it was a world I knew well – I joined my first agency many moons ago (a small, unglamorous wing of Saatchi and Saatchi), and just like Ivy, the wicked anti-heroine in my novel, for many years I worked as a copywriter, crafting ads for clients as diverse as Anchor Butter and Zurich Insurance.

It’s the convention for a copywriter to work hand-in-hand with an art director – not only do copywriters and art directors come up with concepts together, but the best teams often swap roles, so writers come up with visual ideas and art directors devise tag lines. They tend to be on a par with one another in terms of kudos and power, and even though advertising is cut-throat, teamwork is the key. It’s this relationship – at the start of the novel Ivy is paired happily with art director Orianna – that is at the heart of Getting Even. Thus having shifted the action from sixteenth century Italy to contemporary London, this is the second major edit I gave Shakespeare: I made his male protagonists (Othello and Iago) female.

Given the mutuality of the relationship, you can imagine that it’s not the ‘done thing’ for an art director to get one over on her copywriter, but that’s exactly what happens in Getting Even. Early on in the novel it’s revealed that Orianna has been having an affair with an influential colleague behind Ivy’s back, and then when Orianna is offered promotion, all hell breaks loose. I won’t reveal more of the plot, I’ll simply confess that writing Getting Even was probably the most fun I’ve had with my clothes on. Actors often say they enjoy playing villains, and now I understand why. Creating vengeful Ivy was a blast – because she could say and do all the things I’d like to say and do, but don’t. We all have to keep a lid on voicing our innermost thoughts much of the time, and to have a character who can just let rip was very cathartic.

I hope the finished novel gives readers a similar thrill. Meanwhile I’d like to thank my cat, and Shakespeare, for giving me the inspiration.

Getting Even was published by St Martin’s Griffin on 23 September.

To find out more about Sarah or get in touch, please visit her website at

10_3 sarah rayner GETTING EVEN_FC[1]Revenge has never been such fun. How would you feel if your best friend at work betrayed you? Was secretly having an affair with an influential colleague? Won a coveted promotion, then teamed you up with a mere junior, leaving you feeling completely demoted? What would you do? For Ivy there’s no choice. The only person she has ever trusted, Orianna, has blown it big time. So there’s only one way forward: revenge.

Ivy’s campaign is brilliant, if horribly destructive, and she’s determined to get even with the woman who has dared to cross her. But is Ivy really the innocent party? Or is she hiding secrets of her own?

About the Author: 10_3 Rayner Sarah_CREDIT Photographed by JOHNKNIGHT CO UKSARAH RAYNER, international bestselling author of One Moment, One Morning, was born in London and now lives in Brighton with her husband and stepson. She worked for many years as an advertising copywriter and now writes fiction full-time.

Find Sarah on the web!!/creativepumpkin

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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.

Jenny and Her Doll

As the novel opens, Linda has recently asked Sally, who lives across the hall from Kate, to take care of her daughter, Jenny. The “few days” that Linda originally requested have turned into weeks, and there is no definite end in sight. Sally is not the worst person in the world, but she has a temper and lacks the patience needed to take care of a kid like Jenny, whose mother has an alcohol and drug problem that resulted in Jenny living in various homes and shelters in New York City, many of them shared by addicts and assorted undesirables.

At this point, Jenny does not trust adults at all anymore and communicates by either talking to her doll or by having the doll talk for her. Jenny also puts up a fight every time she has to take a bath, and has a habit of trying to run away. One afternoon, Kate is sunbathing on the roof of her apartment building while Sally hangs some laundry up to dry, and Jenny is playing by herself on the building stairs, slamming the door to the roof again and again but not coming outside. Kate falls asleep and when she awakens she finds that Sally has left Jenny with Kate for the rest of the day and suggests in her note that there is peanut butter in the refrigerator for Jenny’s dinner.

Kate’s first thought is that she will simply drop Jenny off with Mrs. Morley, an elderly lady living in an apartment on the first floor who, in the past, has taken care of Jenny also. But while Kate is calling Mrs. Morley on the telephone, Jenny seems to be strangling her doll, Miranda, and Kate realizes that if she dumps Jenny off now the girl will believe she did something wrong that made Kate not want to be with her. Unwilling to be the cause of such negative thoughts in the child, Kate decides that one night of babysitting would not be such a bad thing.

They end up having a nice time together on a picnic in Central Park, which is marred by a drug dealer who inexplicably starts following Kate and Jenny until they are able to escape in a taxi. Jenny stays with Kate overnight because Sally does not return until the next morning. When the drug dealer appears at Kate’s apartment building and announces that he is Jenny’s father and is taking her away, Kate is horrified. The next day, on a whim, she stops by the decrepit apartment where the father lives. He is dying of an overdose, and she finds Jenny and Miranda huddled on the roof. Kate calls 911 anonymously and takes Jenny home. And so begins the process by which Kate forms a bond with Jenny, and both she and Jenny teach each other about commitment and what love means.

It was important for us to make clear that we never think that Linda does not love her daughter – she does. But she is in a state of mind in which her own selfish needs take precedence. Kate also is self-centered in her way, and taking care of Jenny forces her to see the choices that a person makes every day whether to be selfish or not. Essentially, Kate and the Kid is a novel of the transforming effect of love on the life of Jenny, on Kate, on Kate’s boyfriend, Roger, and even on Linda who has a revelation of her own as the book comes to a conclusion.

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:

She began to press all the buzzers on the panel in the building’s foyer, one after the other, hoping that some kind soul among her neighbors would let her in. The headache that had started in the cab settled in for the night, pounding just above her right eye. At that exquisite moment, Kate saw the kid — that ghostly, smudge-faced kid — sitting on the staircase inside. A one armed Barbie doll was on the step beside her.

“Hi, Sweetie!” Kate said through the wired glass, exaggerating the enunciation of the words to make her meaning clear. “Would you come and let me in, honey? You remember me, don’t you? I live on the third floor?!”

The girl did not budge, apparently still trying for the grand prize in a zombie look-alike contest. At first, Kate felt a twinge of concern for the girl. Why on earth was she out in the hallway so late in the evening? Kate leaned her forehead against the cool glass and closed her eyes. When she opened them again, Jenny took the doll into her lap, whispered something into her plastic ear, walloped her twice across the bottom, and started up the stairs.

“Hey! Hey, where are you going?!” Kate shouted. “Hey you better come back here you little… Hey! Hey, did you hear me?!”

And with the little darling thus doubly emblazoned on Kate’s mind, if not yet on her heart, their second encounter ended.

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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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.

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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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