Monday, June 18, 2018

Amanda Grihm Shares Story of The Dark Skinned Sister...

Cindy shot out the car, ran up to--and jumped in Grandma Mindy's arms. "Hi Gamma Mindy, I missed you." Grandma Mindy laughed and blushed while Cindy kissed he all over her face. "You look so pretty, Gamma Mindy."
"Oh, oh, this child, I say, Georgie, this one is becoming more beautiful each year. She's still just as light as a feather and her light skin is so pretty," Grandma Mindy said through a grin so big that it looked like her face should have hurt. She put Cindy down, kissed her on her forehead and straightened her clothes. Joseph got out the car slowly, walked up to her and kissed her on her cheek. "Hi Grandma Mindy, I am happy to be here this summer."
Grandma Mindy smiled broadly and said, "I am glad you could come, too. Oh, honey, try to do your chores before the sun comes out. You look like you done been in the sun. That ain't good for you, 'cuz you git'n a little dark." Grandma looked at me and picked Cindy up again. I was half way up the walk almost at the steps when I noticed a look of disdain on Grandma Mindy's face. I walked onto the porch and leaned over to kiss her on the cheek but she quickly turned and took a step back...
"Hi Grandma Mindy."
"Hello Mindy."
She had hurt my feelings again but this time they weren't hurt as bad as the other times. I was becoming immune to her insults. I closed my eyes and took a long deep, breath. She ain't even human, she is just like a glass figurine--one push and she'll fall over and break. I opened my eyes but she was still standing there looking at me with an intense look of disapproval.
In my mind I sized her up and could see m'self placing my hand on her shoulder and tipping her perfectly erect body over. I laughed at the thought of her glassy icy facade shattering as it hit the ground. I know it was a mean thought but that's what went through my mind. Grandma Mindy was my height or maybe a fraction of an inch taller and I felt like I could take her if it came to that...

In the midst of my reading an anthology, How Dare We! Write:
A Multicultural Creative Writing Discourse, edited by Sherry Quan Lee, (look for my review) I received The Dark Skinned Sister, by Amanda Grihm. The premise of both books relates to those of different races who decide to write their stories... I stopped to read Amanda's book and found that considering both books at one time provided a greater depth, a growing sense of relationship--a kinship that could develop between and among women of all races that I, as a white woman, would also benefit...

Women hesitate to share their innermost stories... Such was the case with Mindy, who at 10 years, came to intimately know and learn about people who created barriers between who they were with little girls who happen to have dark skin... What was amazing, though, was that many times, the pain was inflicted by those within her own race...

And it especially hurts if it is from a family member. Mindy had been named after her grandmother. In fact, Mindy's grandmother was darker that she was... It was therefore especially hard to understand why her grandmother said such nasty things to Mindy...

Yes, Mindy had similar problems at school and as she grew older. She noticed that African Americans who had lighter skin were better accepted by other students. But her skin was the color it was...

Until, she tried to change it, first, by skin lightener...and then by using a cleanser to rub and rub her skin, hoping to lighten it. Instead, her skin was broken and her wounds began to bleed.

Mindy's grandfather had always been special for her and they would ride together and more... But he had a heart attack that summer and that happiness was taken away...

Depression soon arrived from having to deal with her pain--why was her dark skin causing so much turmoil in her life? What could she do about it?

Mindy was part of a single-parent family and her mother had to work hard to keep her two girls and son sheltered and fed. Soon her older brother was called on to help, but he soon realized that his own life was gone as he tried to fill the man's shoes for his family. As they grew older, it became worse before it got better...

This is an emotional, inspirational book about meeting adversity head on... I laughed and cried and certainly empathized with Mindy. I remember when I was about 10 also, I was at my grandmother's along with other family. An uncle looked at me and said "Hey Fatty..."  I ignored him and to my mother said, "Dale is talking to you." My response was that "No, he wasn't. That is not my name..." I walked off... 

Each of us must decide whether or not we will love ourself and others as God made us. I chose to accept the challenge, just like Mindy, when I was hurt and treated cruelly or unjustly. I urge those who have been treated this way, or that has children who are being bullied, to read this book. Highly recommended!


Amanda Grihm was born in Youngstown, Ohio and raised in Cleveland, Ohio from the age of nine. In 1987 she moved to Atlanta, GA, where seven year later she met and married the man of her dreams, J. Emil Grihm. Amanda is an author and playwright.

Amanda writes about stranger-than-fiction events and stories. She communicates at several different levels - verbally, visually, physically and psychologically. She is a nurturing spirit and an extraordinary communicator. She writes from her heart and her mind’s eye about love, friendship and spirituality. She sees everything that she writes in her mind before her pen touches the paper. Amanda enjoys writing on that almost indistinguishable line between truth and fiction and fantasy and reality.

Amanda’s main focus has been on the coming-of-age stories about African American and Indigenous Indian girls becoming strong, independent women. Amanda and many members of her family have had psychic experiences. Consequently, many of her stories delve into the supernatural. Amanda believes that God has availed Himself to her and freed her from the bonds of man’s interpretation of His Word and her capabilities. Consequently, some of her stories are about her personal power and the power of God in her life.

Amanda is also a businessperson and former business owner who has always had a genuine desire to improve situations and a unique ability to solve problems. Her ultimate aim is to improve the experiences of employees and customers. As a result of her keen attention to detail, after a few weeks of starting her first job, she was promoted to efficiency expert at a major insurance firm.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Spotlighting Frankie Laine Via Guy Graybill's BRAVO!

Answer me, my readers, do you remember Frankie Lane? Did you like him! I've chosen him to spotlight from the book Bravo: The Case for Italian Musical Mastery... I've spotlighted several others from this book, so, if interested, search by the name of the book or the author, Guy Graybill.

Here's two of my favorites!

Back then, I was a fan of Paladin and other movies of the time, so western-themes songs attracted my attention, LOL. But let's learn more about him...
The Big Voice Out of Little Italy
Frankie Laine
The parents of Francesco Paolo LoVecchio were Italian and he was born in Chicago's "Little Italy" section in 1913. For years, before he became Frankie Laine, he struggled with poverty and lack of recognition as a singer. He confessed to sneaking into hotel rooms or with trying to buy food with mere pennies in his pocket. One of his first singing jobs paid $5 per week! However, once established, his success carried him through more than a half century of singing and recording, until the number of records sold surpassed one-hundred million and his album sales exceeded the century mark! He also appeared in more than a half-dozen films and sang title songs for a similar number of movies. Part of Frankie Laine's appeal was his rugged, booming voice and part had to be the variety of styles he sang (mostly rhythm and blues, popular and country). Frankie Laine classic renditions include "Ghost Riders in the Sky," "Mule Train," "That's My Desire," 

"That Lucky Old Sun, "Jezebel," and the theme from the television western, "Rawhide." In February of 2007, one more of the great, original group

of Italian-American crooners was stricken from the list, when he died of heart failure. A memorial mass was celebrated a week later. The man, whom the U.S. Congress had recognized as a national treasure, was 93...

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Patricia Skalka's Latest Now Out - Death Rides The Ferry - A 2018 Personal Favorite!


Door County Peninsula juts out between the pristine waters of Green Bay and Lake Michigan in northern Wisconsin. With 300 miles of scenic shoreline, five wooded state parks and a collection of quaint, waterfront villages, the area is a mecca for artists, musicians, outdoor enthusiasts and tourists. Every year, some two million visitors come to Door County, the “Cape Cod of the Midwest.”


The Dave Cubiak Door County Mysteries pit a former troubled Chicago cop against a roster of clever killers on the Door County Peninsula in the heart of the Midwest. Set against a backdrop of stunning natural beauty, the series kicks off with Death Stalks Door County and continues with Death at Gills Rock and Death In Cold Water. (Click on each title to see reviews of series thus far...)

The Yellow Viol
...After meeting with the ladies, the sheriff drove to the festival. The next series of concerns started in ten minutes and the grounds were filled with people hurrying to reach their seats. As he pushed through the cheerful throngs, he pictured Jane Doe sitting on the ferry and wondered what went through her mind before she died. Had she been crying because of something that had happened at the festival? Or because she had taken the poison, as Pardy suggested, and then had a change of heart and realized too late that she wanted to live?
...The program listed nightly concerts in the hall, but the afternoons were given over to smaller performances by groups of three, four, and six musicians. The sheriff knew little about classical music beyond what his friend Evelyn Bathard had taught him about opera while they worked on the coroner's dilapidated wooden sailboat. From the bits and pieces that he overheard as he wandered the grounds, he knew the musicians were playing stringed instruments, but the music was different from anything he had ever heard. It seemed to have a simpler, cleaner sound than the more familiar music of Mozart and Beethoven. He wished he ould sit in on a performance, but he had little time for music that day.

Wow this gave me chills! "Joyful, Joyful"...Was Never So Joyful!

...Cubiak knocked. "Sorry to interrupt," he said.
The three looked up startled.
"I hope this is important, Sheriff. We have a busy schedule," Frost said after introductions were made. He was short and stout and patted his forehead with a white handkerchief as he spoke.
"I'm sure you do," There wasn't an empty chair, so Cubiak stood and told them about the woman who was found dead on the ferry...
"Sheriff, you have to realize that we can't have a dead woman associated with Dixan V. It would ruin everything. Not just this year's event, which so many people have worked for so hard, but"...Winslow gestured toward the ground outside the center..."everything."
"Why? Because four decades ago, a woman died after the first Dixan festival?"
The three stirred uneasily.
"It's more than that. You don't understand because you're not from here," Frost said, his tone harsh. "Sorry, no offense meant..."
"I don't mean to sound insensitive to the poor woman on the ferry, but it's just that we are trying to live down our own sorry history with the public and the Dixan sponsors. This years festival is our chance to salvage the island's reputation. If we don't succeed, as Veronica just said, then it's over for us. Finito. Poof." Frost blew a puff of air at his empty palm like a child would at the fuzzy head of a dandelion.

Winslow pushed a small brochure across the table. Her nails were neatly manicured, and it was clear from her posture and manner that she was the kind of person who took appearances seriously. "This is from the first--the only--Dixan Festival ever held on Washington Island before now."
Cubiak skimmed the headline. "I've heard a little about it. But that was forty years ago."
"That is correct."
"During which a rare violin disappeared."
Winslow sighed and exchanged frustrated looks with her colleagues.
Mitchell Stone stretched his elongated neck and spoke for the first time. "Not a violin, Sheriff. A viola da gamba." he said as he adjusted his striped tie. "Shall I assume you don't know the difference?"

Classical music is one of my favorite genres so I was pleasantly surprised to learn about an instrument that I had never heard of in Patricia Skalka's latest Cubiak mystery. Obviously the size and method of playing is similar to a cello, so I don't think I would have noticed during orchestra presentations whether one of these had been used...It looks like a guitar, doesn't it? Anyway...the musical component of a novel, which is an incentive for me, added a bonus that made this a personal favorite.

Cubiak, on the other hand, is one of my favorite male leads as sheriff and I had already decided I'd love to see Tom Selleck play the role similar to his Jesse Stone role in Robert B. Parker books. Cubiak gained our sympathy when his wife and child was killed...Now he has fallen in love again, but, she, too, faces danger in this story. Cubiak couldn't stop the deaths of his family, but, this time, he will die trying if necessary...

The book starts during the planning and actual musical festival known as the Dixan Festival--this is the fifth one and has not been back to Door County since the first which was held forty years ago. Getting the Festival back is really a second chance, because at the first festival, a famous instrument, a viola da gamba, was stolen! It had been loaned by a private family and the man who had brought it to the festival was not only publicly disgraced, but his wife, who was pregnant at the time, was delayed in getting to the hospital and died that night...

Everything was going fine at the festival until a woman was found dead on the ferry that carried local residents as well as those attending the festival back and forth... For some reason, Cubiak had noticed the woman while he had roamed the festival. However, when he started his investigation, nobody knew her and nobody else had even noticed her...

During his investigation, he did learn that the stolen viola da gamba taken during the first festival had never been discovered. This link would have to be at least explored before clarifying that there was no connection. And, in fact, it soon seemed that solving the theft may be the only way to discover who was now leaving dead bodies during the second festival!

Given the interplay between the murders and the theft, I'm not going to go any further into the storyline other than to say that my intuition was working, but I still wasn't sure who and how the crimes were done...Great mystery! Skalka has given the University of Wisconsin a winning and local series that is bound to continue to retain and continue fan appreciation for this fantastic series... Highly recommended.


Patricia Skalka is the author of the Dave Cubiak Door County Mysteries which premiered with "Death Stalks Door County" (2014) and quickly followed up with "Death At Gills Rock" (2015). "Death in Cold Water" (2016) received the Edna Ferber Fiction Award from the Council for Wisconsin Writers.
“A first-rate series” says Kirkus Reviews.
“The intricate plot and well-developed characters will appeal to fans of William Kent Krueger,” says Booklist.
A Chicago native, Skalka is a former Reader’s Digest Staff Writer and freelancer with human interest and medical articles in national print and online publications and nonfiction books published by Random House, St. Martin’s and Rodale. She is a member of The Authors Guild of America, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Society of Midland Authors and the Chicago Writers Association.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Poetry by Adolph Caso - I Call You God

You know, I met Adolfo well over ten years ago, when I was in Chicago for my first (and only) book show... He was handing out his own book and had run out before I got one. He promptly got my address and sent me a copy...which I promptly reviewed! 

One of my joys is reading his poetry, even though I am not trained in any way to interpret... You know, sometimes, I think there is meaning only to the poet, and we readers admire the words, but are not quite sure what was meant...

This poem, "I Call You God," was like that for me. It's from his book Water and Life: Photos and Poems... Now I did have a hint since he provided a photo of a stone statue of a woman... My thoughts were many and the complementary music reflects it. For instance, I wondered why he started with the fact that even rock starts to wear down... and then went back to an earlier time. Did he speak of a lost love, but then found another? And why did he used a capitalized God instead of a small letter? Did he mean to reflect on the thought of sometimes others, or even money or things sometimes take a place between each of us and God?

In any event, the chosen music reflects my opinion that his words referred to a woman in his life. My selections reflect my thoughts of how a couple might come to love each other...perhaps, so much, it...hurts... What do you think?


I've fixed you in a statue
and called you God--
your attributes
not those of stone
over which
I've worked
to capture
                                          a moment
of fleeting immortality.
Have I?

The hardest rock
crumbles with time.

I look at yesterday's flower,
at your face,
all resolving
into un-recallable moments
that live and follow us
through every step
every passion
and keenest desires--
always and forever changing.

I've fixed you in a statue 
and called you God.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Read Along With Me... Check out Lin Wilder's New Book!

When I'm asked to review a book, I do not want to read more than the book description before I start to read--no reviews from excerpt or beginning chapters...

But when I've heard about a book that will be soon published, before i buy, I want to know more--the only exception is if I already have read books by the author. I have read Wilder, but this book will be entirely different from the mystery series I have loved. So, when I learned about I, Claudia, I asked if I could share a sample of the book for readers here at Book Readers Heaven.

Knowledge has three degrees─ opinion, science, illumination. 
The means of instrument of the first is senses, the second, dialectic; of the third, intuition. --Plotinus 

The greatest blessings come by way of madness, indeed of madness that is heaven-sent. --Socrates on the Oracle at Delphi 

While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message, saying, "Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him." --Gospel of Matthew 

The Christian of the twenty-first century will be a mystic-one who has ‘experienced’ something or he will not be Christian. --Karl Rahner 

(I enjoy books which have quotes at the beginning. I read them and wonder how and why they have been used to support the upcoming words...The third one is obviously by Claudia to Pilate...while the first two engenders contemplation, don't you think... The last one is provocative to me, having never read anything like this, and yet, I find it quite interesting! What do you think it means?)


They were the faces of my dreams. Men, women and children, mouths open in joyous shouts made soundless by the din of hundreds of marching feet. The people lined the narrow streets, the wealthier watching from their palace rooftops, their children tossing brightly colored scarves upon the phalanxes of soldiers. The lead Centurion held the shield of Tiberius steadily aloft: S.P.Q.R. Senātus Populusque Rōmānus (The Roman Senate and People.) The Legionnaire moved it only when an errant puff of color landed on the scarlet standard, momentarily obscuring the golden eagle glittering in the bright sunlight. 
“He has had his arms raised for how many hours now? Shouldn’t there be a Joshua to help this Moses?” I suppressed a smile at my wittiness, knowing better than to voice the thought aloud. My ladies would be shocked by my allusion to the great Jewish prophet. 
Well aware of my reputation as an empty-headed nitwit among those who served my husband, such low expectations had served me well. Best to maintain the fiction. Soft pinks, yellows, reds, and blues of all shades drifted lazily down the still, hot currents of desert air. At first, they resembled butterflies until our carriage drew close enough to see the scarves. I looked out the window to see some of the soft cloths puddling on the dirt streets only to be trampled by the next column of tightly grouped soldiers. The morning sun turned the helmets and shields of the marching men to a radiance so bright it could not be withstood by the naked eye. 
I closed my eyes tightly against the glare and in vain hopes that these familiar faces of the onlookers were just another dream. Terrified that when I reopened them, I would see those same faces filled with hatred, mouths now joining in the monstrous roar of malevolence, commanding the death of the righteous one. 
“M’Lady, M’Lady, are you all right?” I could hear Antonia’s concern. She knew how I had dreaded this journey, how fervent had been my prayers for some miracle to forestall what I knew was destiny. His, mine and the worlds. Unlike the others, Antonia had known me almost since birth. 
“I’m fine, Antonia, fine. Please do not worry, I am just drained. We have been traveling now for over thirty days. The heat makes it almost impossible -to sleep at night--it never cools off here.” Only mid-morning and the temperature had to be over ninety. The fall weather in Rome had been glorious. So different from this unrelenting, insufferable heat. 
Antonia was unfooled by either my reply or my attempt at a smile. I did not blame her. I knew the motion of my lips was more rictus than smile...that we were heading toward a doom of the kind the world had never seen. 
I knew that there was nothing I could do or say to stop it. Upon opening my eyes, I felt no relief at the unchanged jubilance, the joyous expressions on the faces of the crowds. It would come, and soon. I am nearing the end of my life. Seventy-nine years lived as a shadow, a face behind a curtain, whispering the residues of a dream. Insubstantial, unheard. But my time of silence is done. It is time to write the truth for those with ears to hear it. 
I am Procula, wife of Lucias Pontius Pilate. My husband has been dead for several decades now. Like me, Lucius is the subject of vast ignorance, lies, and injustice. The very name of Pontius Pilate has become synonymous with cowardice and betrayal. Those who claim to know the substance of my dream believe it emanates from evil. Others insist that the words recited by Christians for the last thirty years, “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified and died,” had terrorized me in my dream, echoing as I know they will, as I have seen in my visions, through the centuries. To be memorialized in something that will be called the ‘Apostles Creed.’ 
These slanderous claims, and all the others like them, no longer break my heart; but are merely annoying. I often think of the writing of Socrates, a man I consider a good friend though he died before I was born. His wisdom and humility await those rare searchers of truth. 
“I know I am intelligent because I know I know nothing.” I was born in Delphi, the last of the Oracles of Pythia. It was a time of disorder, chaos, terror, and the death of nations. My mother broke her vow of virginity in lying with my father. She feared for both our lives, because what she had done was punishable by death. Hers and mine. The time of the Oracles was coming to an end. Men no longer listened to the whispers of the prophets, certainly not the women. Not even when we had the words of the gods on our lips. 
I survived, but my mother did not. I was taken to Athens, where I was raised by Demetrius and Sabina. Only they knew that I was the last Oracle. My true identity remained a secret to all others —although my husband speculated that to be the cause of my foreknowledge of so much. I ask that you permit a conceit. 
This book will be told in two voices. My own and that of my husband. Perhaps that seems presumptuous? Or worse, specious? 
Near the end of his life, almost daily, my husband told me that I knew him better than he knew himself. And he talked incessantly about how close he had come to refusing the thunderous command of the Jews. 
When Lucius gave me his diaries, including the letters exchanged with Seneca, this book designed itself. Could I have intervened? When the famed Stoic philosopher directed his every thought? Incited a hatred toward the Jews that cost him and the world no less than everything? You decide.


Claudia Procula. They say it is impossible. I was, after all, barely two when we left Greece. But I remember Delphi. The only place I knew as home echoes in my mind and heart still after almost eight decades of absence. The Delphian air is purer, the sky bluer and the mountains redolent with wisdom─scrambling through the tunnels beneath the Treasury of Athena kept me safer than a nanny’s arms and infused me with more knowledge than did my later classical tutors. It was there, crawling alone around and under those sacred stone structures, that the unreliability of the senses, the language of the Forms, the highest Good, transcendent and absolute, impressed themselves into my very being. That there was just one, not many, God, was a certainty I shared with the Hebrews. 
Too young. Absurd. Inconceivable. I know. I think that too as I write these many years later. But the truth is this. By the time my kind adopted parents had decided I was old enough at nine to study philosophy, mathematics, rhetoric, classical Latin, and Greek, Sabina hired tutors. The best in Athens. And could not understand why they lasted just days. 
“Claudia Procula! Alejandro has quit. He is the third tutor in three months. I had to pay him for a month’s wages even though he was here for only five days!” 
I looked up from the scroll of Plato’s Republic I was reading. Sabina stood looking down at me, her expression a mixture of puzzlement and something else. I wasn’t sure what. 
Without thinking, I retorted, “You and Uncle Adrian could have saved a substantial sum if you would have listened when I asked to spend my days in the Aristotle Library.” 
The color in her cheeks rising, Sabina worked visibly to control her anger. She must have been over forty because she had been Mother’s older sister by ten years but her beauty remained. Sabina had competed in the Heraean Games twice and won laurel crowns each time for her long-distance marathon races. Her shape had changed little since those days. Her stola was dark violet with a light lavender shawl tied at her narrow waist with gold braid. A gold armband served as Sabina’s only jewelry. Touching her long blonde braid, her expression and her voice softened. 
“Why do these men quit tutoring you Claudia? What happens to make them want to leave so suddenly? Alejandro could not leave this home fast enough. It was almost as if he thought you...” Abruptly, she covered her mouth momentarily then let the long slender fingers drop back down to her side then Sabina closed her eyes and murmured the prayer I had heard since childhood. 
“Clear-eyed Athena, unrivaled in wisdom, daughter of Zeus and Metis whose craft and wit excelled among the mighty Titans: Athena, I pray to you. Wise in all things you are, goddess; your cunning and guile are well known. In time of war you have no equal in tactics or in strategy; many armies have you guided to victory. In time of peace your blessings fall on those whose work is of the mind–friend of the philosopher, the scientist, the student. Advisor of kings, patron of clever heroes and bold-hearted adventurers, defender of the thinker, mistress of reason and understanding, goddess to whom a strong arm and a sharp sword are nothing without the sense to wield them well and the insight to know when words are worth more than weapons. 
Athena, grant me a sound mind and steady temper, bless me with good judgment, show me the long view.” The moment the words came out of my mouth, I wanted to reach into the still, warm, summer air, grab them and eat them. 
“The words are beautiful, even wise, Aunt Sabina, but Athena is just an illusion. Her mouth produces no words, her mind no thoughts and her heart does not beat. Your goddess is merely an instrument on which to hang human weakness.” 
My aunt swayed, ever so slightly, from side to side. Those turquoise eyes hardened into flint. 
“You have no right. Even with all of your mother’s gifts, never...ever... did she speak cruelly. Know this Claudia, utter one more viperous word, and you will be out of this house.” Impossibly, her eyes grew colder. “Someone as wise as you surely knows what would become of an abandoned female ten-year-old does she not?” 
I learned on that sultry afternoon just how massive a burden was the supernatural knowledge that I had done nothing to merit. I also learned that once loathsome, pitiless words were uttered, no power in this world or in another could cauterize the wounds they made. They bled into eternity. 


Lucias Pontius Pilate.  I was born to be a warrior. Until I donned the tunic, body armor and shoulder plates of the legionnaire, I had felt like a child. I knew upon grabbing the dagger, sword, javelin, and shield that this was my destiny. As a boy, I had been ungainly, all angles, awkward and fumbling. But as I placed the helmet on my head and joined my legion, I knew that time had passed. I would lead men. And soon. 
The march from Rome to the outskirts of Germanicus was dreadful. Our commander underestimated the effect of the northern winter and overestimated the strength and endurance of his legion. Over one hundred Roman soldiers had died from exposure and exhaustion before we met a single German. 
Stupidity. Incompetence. Inexcusable in a leader. My anger upon finally meeting our enemy whipped my speed, tactics, and deadliness into something manic, crazed, unstoppable. At the end of that first day, outnumbered by three to one, exhausted and improperly clothed, the Germans had fled. And the live Roman soldiers were cheering my name. “LUCIAS!” “PONTIUS!” “PILATE!” 
Our Tribune was dead. Overnight, I became Tribune at just twenty-eight years of age. Was it destiny too that caused Tiberius to ride into the blood-soaked German soil just as the men had hauled me on top of a human litter shouting my name?And was it fate that caused the next emperor of Rome to smile. Then reach behind him to grab a laurel wreath, remove my helmet from my head and replace it with the wreath? Wordlessly crowning me as Tribune, on my very first day of battle. All while the men were shouting my three names so loudly that the trees of that forest shook? 
Had I known Claudia then, and had she told me of my future, would I have turned away from the rapid rise in the best army in the world? Could I have become a lawyer like my brother? Or a physician like my uncle?

The most significant issue for me has been addressed in these first three parts of the book. Specifically, Wilder has taken me back to the time of Jesus and the Romans...but she has done sufficient and intelligent research which allows her to write this historical story in today's words...

We have learned that Claudia has supernatural power, given to her at birth, which is the beginning of the end of the age of gods and into God's world where He will soon bring forth His son... Claudia early believes in that One God...

Most who have some Bible reading in their past know of Pontius Pilate's role in the trial of Jesus... But did you know the important role Claudia played? I didn't--and certainly not that Claudia had been given gifts of the Spirit. In other words, my own knowledge about this major event in history gives me a desire to learn how Claudia played a part--what she did, both before and after her husband held the trial...

Thousands of years have past. But I believe there has been too much loss of the old, old stories... To me, when Lin started hearing Claudia talking in her head, as she shared to explain why she had moved from a successful mystery series to a historical novel, I call that a supernatural experience... that... just... might... be... very... important for today's world...

The book is not out...but I want to read it... It is also not available for pre-order I'll try to keep everybody posted on its availability...

In the meantime, do you spend time considering whether you will buy a book? How do you decide?  Would love to hear from you!


Monday, June 11, 2018

Guest Blogger Lin Wilder Shares "My Writer Friend on Why We Write..."

My writer friend on why we write

Despite the fact that it sometimes feels as if everyone has written, or plans to write, a book, I have just one writer friend. She also writes fiction. Had my friend Rachel not put Rebecca and me together, I doubt we’d ever have met. Even in our small valley each of us tends to stick with routines that limit the people we run into.

“You’ve both written novels- you need to get to know one another.” 
Thanks to Rachel, we did meet and did indeed enjoy getting to know one another. I was new to the world of fiction, agents, writing workshops and meetings. She wasn’t and chuckled when I told her that I was impressed that she had an agent. “Don’t be, I fired her.”
When she asked if I’d attended any of the writers workshops in our area, hesitantly, I said “No, I’ve tried to talk myself into attending but something told me they’d be a waste of time.” At that her laughter was hearty, almost raucous. “They are. Follow your instincts.”
A couple of years ago, Rebecca and I spoke at a local event for writers and artists. Her remarks to the audience about why we write were thoughtful, provocative and incisive. Rebecca’s face glowed as she grabbed the lectern and earnestly explained to her listeners about the thrill of writing fiction:
“Our stories force us to confront characters we may prefer not to know. The nuances of a personality that is both heroic and cowardly; brilliant and inept; noble and wretched.
Our research takes us to far-flung places as we grapple with the complexities of new stories and protagonists.”
It’s been a while since that event so I’m paraphrasing. A lot.
But her fervor and passion were tangible things, the audience was riveted on her explanation of why we write.
My smile is broad as I reflect on her words because that fervor of hers has ensnared me as Claudia and Lucius Pontius Pilate reveal themselves on the pages of I, Claudia. These two infamous historical figures forever trapped in the crucifixion of Christ.

During her brief talk, my writer friend was speaking just about writing fiction, not non-fiction. The two are similar but in at least one way, wholly dissimilar. The dissimilarity is  the intimacy between the characters and the writer that occurs in fiction.

For there is no other word than intimacy. It is a fact that there can be no boundary left unexplored between the author and character. The thrill--and it is indeed--a thrill of creating a person who compels our exploration in places we’ve never thought of going. Of watching the person take on muscles, sinews, presence…until he takes up residence in my heart and will sit on the couch beside my readers.

At the time I was listening to her words, I was struggling with a new character in the Lindsey McCall medical mystery series, Joe Cairns: I was grappling with that most fundamental question for all authors. How did he get here, a hired killer?
Now, I am asking and answering that same question about Lucius Pontius Pilate (and his wife Claudia.) Surely, his dream from the time he was a little boy was not to grow up to be the man who authorized the crucifixion of an innocent man--even, perhaps, one who was Something Greater?

For this new book, my technique is vastly different from the others for two reasons:
  • I don’t know these two. During the evolution of now four novels, I know Lindsey McCall and her husband Rich better than I know myself and my husband John.
  • Unlike Lindsey and Rich, Pilate and Claudia are historical
    figures. Consequently, there exists a daunting assortment of published opinions about who they were and why they did what they did--fictional and historical. But a lesson I learned well during my many years of writing nonfiction was how to decode that word history. How to break it down into just another story--his or her--story.
As always, thank you for reading.

I'm always thrilled to have Lin Visit! With her, you get multiple articles, so be sure to click where she has marked!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Prequel, Not Fair, by Steven Manchester, Entices Readers? Share Your Thoughts!

Out June 12th!

For me, Steven Manchester presented this reader with a perfect prequel. Most importantly, it was provided to potential readers before the book was published or soon available. The prequel provides readers an introduction to the main character, Mac, and his family as well as sharing the dysfunction that has begun among family members.

At this point, we do not know exactly what is causing Mac to have what appears to be panic attacks that places him in some sort of suspension and away from the present...he is aware only of what is happening inside, the panic, the overwhelming feelings of not being able to breathe, and more... But once the episode ends, he does not talk about what happens. In fact, he has begun to lie or use excuses to cover for his...reality...

This short story hit me hard, personally, since, during the period prior to my response to intense Job Burnout, and ultimately going into clinical depression where I was unable to stop crying, I had a major experience which scared me--I had blanked out in a meeting, knowing it, but unable to remember or continue to talk... I knew what was happening internally, like Mac did, but had no idea what was happening around me.

Whether it is called PTSD, Depression, Anxiety or something similar, many Americans find themselves in situations where they are no longer able to respond to daily life... Of course, I was immediately interested in Manchester's new book...

Like Mac, individuals who find themselves in similar situations begin to feel isolated. They are unable to grasp that they need help and act upon that knowledge. Yet at the same time, while family life continues, unaware of the issue for one, family members negatively react, not understanding why one family member has changed... Tension grew between Mac and Jen, as she was starting a new job, at the same time Mac was under deadlines for his job. 

Was it Jen going back to work that bothered Mac? We don't know, of course. But from the relationship interaction between the married couple, readers know that an underlying tension may be leading to real trouble for the two...

Sooo, consider that we, the readers, are placed right into this family dynamic. We have sympathy for all family members, while I had empathy for Mac as well... And the author leaves us with:

Mac leapt to his feet, his heart pounding hard enough to explode. As if he were sucking in air through a crimped straw, he struggled to breathe. The sudden lack of oxygen made him dizzy, while his extremities began to tingle. As he fought against the invisible enemy, a heavy coat of fear and despair draped over him. The intense rush—lasting several eternal minutes—carried him to a lack of control he’d never known before. And once done, he felt scarred in every aspect—physically, emotionally, even spiritually. It took some time for Mac to reclaim some semblance of normal breathing. Cautiously, he eased back into his chair. Maybe I should tell Jen that it’s getting worse, he thought, gripping the arms of the recliner like he was sitting in the electric chair. No, he decided, she has her own stuff to worry about.
Breathing erratically, Mac sat alone in the dark, terrified over the next attack he was sure would come. I don’t know how much longer I can live like this, he thought, losing his breath once again. Something has to give. ~ THE END

Perfect Ending for a Prequel! I was solidly hooked--I couldn't not reader the book to find out what happens to his family...all because the author had use his talent to excite us, to bring our emotions into play, knowing, hoping, that his fans would want to read more... Kudos to Steven Manchester!

For those who have not yet read this author, you might not understand my response to this Prequel. But, my having read many of his books, I've already been totally satisfied with anything he writes. I invite you to use this opportunity to get to know an author who excels in family dramas with messages in each book.


With Pleasure, I am including an excerpt from the book Three Shoeboxes.

Mac jumped up, panting like an obese dog suffering in a heat wave. His heart 
drummed out of his chest. Startled
from a sound sleep, he didn’t know what was wrong. He leapt out of bed and stumbled toward the bathroom. He
couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t think. There’s something wrong, he finally thought, I…I need help. He searched
frantically for an enemy. There was none. As he stared at the frightened man in the mirror, he considered calling out to his sleeping wife. She has enough to worry about with the kids, he thought, but was already hurrying toward her. “Jen,” he said in a strained whisper.
She stirred but didn’t open her eyes.

The constricted chest, sweaty face and shaking hands made Mac wonder whether he was standing at death’s door, cardiac arrest being his ticket in. I have to do something now, he thought, or I’m a goner. “Jen,” he said louder, shaking her shoulder.

One eye opened. She looked up at him.
“It’s happening again,” he said in a voice that could have belonged to a frightened little boy.
Jen shot up in bed. “What is it?”
“I…I can’t breathe. My heart keeps fluttering and I feel…”
“I’m calling an ambulance,” she said, fumbling for her cell phone.
“No,” he said instinctively, “it’ll scare the kids.”
She looked up at him like he was crazy.
“I’ll go to the emergency room right now!” Grabbing for a pair of pants, he started to slide into them.
Jen sprang out of the bed. “I’ll call my mom and have her come over to watch the kids. In the meantime, Jillian can…”
Mac shook his foggy head, halting her. “No, I’m okay to drive,” he said, trying to breathe normally.
“But babe,” she began to protest, fear glassing over her eyes.
“I’ll text you as soon as I get there,” he promised, “and then call you just as soon as they tell me what the hell’s going on.”
Jen’s eyes filled. “Oh Mac…”
He shot her a smile, at least he tried to, before rushing out of the house and hyperventilating all the way to the hospital.

I’m here, Mac texted Jen before shutting off the ringer on his phone.
The scowling intake nurse brought him right in at the mention of “chest pains.” Within minutes, the E.R. staff went to work like a well-choreographed NASCAR pit crew, simultaneously drawing blood while wiring his torso to a portable EKG machine.
As quickly as the team had responded, they filed out of the curtained room. A young nurse, yanking the sticky discs from Mac’s chest, feigned a smile. “Try to relax, Mr. Anderson. It may take a little bit before the doctor receives all of your test results.”
For what seemed like forever, Mac sat motionless on the hospital gurney, a white curtain drawn around him.
I hope it isn’t my heart, he thought, the kids are still so young and they need…
“Who do we have in number four?” a female voice asked just outside of Mac’s alcove.
Mac froze to listen in.
“Some guy who came in complaining of chest pains,” another voice answered at a strained whisper. “Test results show nothing. Just another anxiety attack.”
No way, Mac thought, not knowing whether he should feel insulted or relieved.
“Like we have time to deal with that crap,” the first voice said. “Can you imagine if men had to give birth?”
Both ladies laughed.
No friggin’ way, Mac thought before picturing his wife’s frightened face. She must be worried sick. But I can’t call her without talking to the doctor. She’d…
The curtain snapped open, revealing a young man in a white lab coat with a stethoscope hanging around his neck.
This kid can’t be a doctor, Mac thought, the world suddenly feeling like it had been turned upside down.
“Your heart is fine, Mr. Anderson,” the doctor quickly reported, his eyes on his clipboard. “I’m fairly certain you suffered a panic attack.” He looked up and grinned, but even his smile was rushed. “Sometimes the symptoms can mirror serious physical ailments.”
Mac was confused, almost disappointed. So, what I experienced wasn’t serious? he asked in his head.
The young man scribbled something onto a small square pad, tore off the top sheet and handed it to Mac.
“This’ll make you feel better,” he said, prescribing a sedative that promised to render Mac more useless than the alleged attack.
“Ummm…okay,” Mac said, his face burning red.
The doctor nodded. “Stress is the number one cause of these symptoms,” he concluded. “Do you have someone you can talk to?”
Mac returned the nod, thinking, I need to get the hell out of here. Although he appreciated the concern, he was mired in a state of disbelief. I’m a master of the corporate rat race, he thought, unable to accept the medicine man’s spiel. If anyone knows how to survive stress, it’s me.
“That’s great,” the doctor said, vanishing as quickly as he’d appeared.
My problem is physical, Mac confirmed in his head, it has to be. He finished tying his shoes.
Pulling back the curtain, he was met by the stare of several female nurses. He quickly applied his false mask of strength and smiled. A panic attack, he repeated to himself. When put into words, the possibility was chilling.
The nurses smiled back, each one of them wearing the same judgmental smirk.
With his jacket tucked under his arm, Mac started down the hallway. Sure, he thought, I have plenty of people I can talk to. He pulled open the door that led back into the crowded waiting room. That is, if I actually thought it was anxiety.

Mac sat in the parking lot for a few long minutes, attempting to process the strange events of the last several days. Although he felt physically tired, there weren’t any symptoms or residual effects of the awful episodes he’d experienced—not a trace of the paralyzing terror I felt. And they just came out of the blue. He shook his head.
How can it not be physical? He thought about the current state of his life. Work is work, it’s always going to come with a level of stress, but that’s nothing out of the ordinary.
He shook his head again. I just don’t get it. He grabbed his cell phone and called Jen. “Hi, it’s me.”
“Are you okay?” she asked, the worry in her voice making him feel worse.
“I’m fine, babe.”
“Fine?” she said, confused. “What did the doctor say?”
“He said it’s not my heart.”
“Oh, thank God.”
Her reaction—although completely understandable—struck him funny, making him feel like the boy who cried wolf.
“So what is it then?” she asked.
He hesitated, feeling oddly embarrassed to share the unbelievable diagnosis.
“The doctor thinks it was a...a panic attack.”
This time, she paused. “A panic attack?” she repeated, clearly searching for more words. Then, as a born problem solver, she initiated her usual barrage of questions. “Did they give you something for it? Is there any follow up?”
“Yes, and maybe.”
“What does that mean?”
“He gave me pills that I’d rather not take if I don’t need to. And he suggested I go talk to someone.”
“Talk to someone? You mean like a therapist?”
“I’m pretty sure that’s what he meant.”
“Oh,” she said, obviously taken aback. “Then that’s exactly what you should do.”
“I don’t know...”
“Is there something bothering you I don’t know about, Mac,” she asked, “because you can talk to me, too, you know.”
“I know, babe. But there’s nothing bothering me, honest.” He took a deep breath. “For what it’s worth, I don’t buy the anxiety attack diagnosis.”
“Well, whatever you were feeling this morning was real enough, right? I could see it in your face. It wouldn’t hurt anything for you to go talk to someone.” She still sounded scared and he hated it.
“Maybe not,” he replied, appeasing her. In the back of his head, though, he was already contemplating how much he should continue to share with her—or protect her from. “I need to get to work,” he said.
“Why don’t you just take the day off and relax?” she suggested.
Here we go, he thought. “I wish I could, babe,” he said, “but we have way too much going on at the office  right now.”
“And maybe that’s part of your problem,” she said.
“I’ll be fine, Jen,” he promised. “We’ll talk when I get home, okay?”
“Love you,” he said.
“And I love you,” she said in a tone intended for him to remember it.

Mac arrived at New Dimensions Advertising. As an executive
at the pinnacle of his impressive career, he was energetic, in control and one step away from the next big promotion. An early meeting had been scheduled with his creative team. He walked in late, a tray of hot coffees in one hand and a box of donuts in the other.
“I know. I know,” he began in his even-tempered demeanor,
“I expect everyone to be here on time, except for me, right?” He smiled at his handpicked crew. “Okay, now that we have that cleared up…” Except for several laughs over the donut box, there was no response.
He went on. “Oh yeah, and Brady wanted me to thank everyone again for their generous gifts.” He smirked.
“Well, everyone but Scott.”
Scott, an entry-level consultant, peered up from the box. White powder covered his half-open mouth. He was clearly confused by the comment.
“No, I’m sorry Scott,” Mac said, his smirk growing into a full smile, “I have that wrong. Brady loves the monster truck you gave him. It’s me who has the problem with it.”
Scott still couldn’t respond, his mouth stuffed with sugary dough.
Mac leaned in close to his young prodigy. “My friend, never ever buy a child a toy that can scream louder than the child’s father.” There was a comical pause, followed by Mac’s wink. “Trust me, when you have kids you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.”
Scott’s smile displayed his relief. The three women and two men seated at the conference table all laughed.
From the look in their eyes, they held a deep respect and
admiration for their affable boss.
As everyone dove back into the donut box, concepts at different levels of development began flying around the room. Mac controlled the flow, occasionally jotting down some of the ideas into his leather notebook.
Receiving a nod from Mac, Scott took the floor. “I’ve done the legwork on this one, boss. The way I see it, Woodpine Furniture is competing with three major retailers, each one located within a ten-mile radius of the other. With such a concentration, they can’t…”
“Competing?” Mac asked, jumping in. “I disagree. In fact, it’s been my experience that a rising tide carries all ships.”
Scott—along with the rest of the team—awaited an explanation.
Mac chuckled. “It means that when people are looking for furniture, they’ll shop around—especially if it’s only within a ten-mile radius. And we can use this knowledge to give our client the edge.” Mac’s eyes drifted off into a creative world that few people ever got the chance to witness. “That’s our ace, Scott. We’ll monitor the other stores’ advertising and find a way to capitalize by enhancing our own.”
“Love it,” Brandt blurted, while the rest of Mac’s team sat in awe.
Scott cleared his throat. “Ingenious,” he said, “then we can…”
Mac’s eyes glassed over and he suddenly realized his mind was floating away—and it wasn’t promising to be a pleasurable experience. His knee bounced from nervous energy. Although he tried to stop it, he couldn’t. Aware of the fact that he couldn’t stop fidgeting, a clammy sweat began to form on the back of his neck.
“Blah…blah…blah…” Scott said, his voice no more than an annoying hum now.
Mac pulled at his collar a few times before getting to his feet. I can’t friggin’ breathe again, he thought, his mind being thrown into a death spiral. He could feel everything inside of him turning dark, like he was being taken over by some evil force. I…I can’t breathe…
“Everything okay, boss?” Scott asked.
Mac shook his head. “If…if you’ll all excuse me…please.”
Scott halted his presentation, while Mac took the opportunity to hustle out of the room, shocking everyone.

Mac rushed to the management washroom. Before the door had completely closed behind him, he was bent at the waist, struggling to take in oxygen. Oh God, he thought, trying desperately to calm down and center himself. As he began to slow his breathing, he caught his own reflection in the mirror. This scared him more.
Instead of finding the confident man that normally grinned back at him, he was looking into the terrified face of a man he barely recognized—the poor guy’s wide eyes searching frantically for answers. “What the hell…”
Mac managed, his pitiful voice echoing off the subway tile walls. Am I really having panic attacks?


Well, this is the second day of Reading Along...

I'll start! I was upset with how the medical staff allowed themselves to be overheard and how Mac was made to feel... When I went to my doctor, and after I had been able to share what was happening, he told me "Well you have two choices--your job or your life..." Stress can ultimately kill...and it is not enough to hand somebody a prescription and send them home...

On the other hand, was it because Mac was a man that he could not easily accept the possibility that his concerns were mental rather than physical. Do many of us retain a reaction that does not allow or are embarrassed that our mind can become burned out or changed in some way?

At this point, knowing some of the statistics on stress in America, I believe this will be an important book for Manchester... What do you think? Were you interested--after the Prequel? Or After the beginning excerpt?  Why or Why not? Would really like to hear from you!!!