Book Showcase: PARABLE OF THE BROWN GIRL by Khristi Lauren Adams



Parable of the Brown Girl: The Sacred Lives of Girls of Color by Khristi Lauren Adams
ISBN: 9781506455686 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781506455693 (ebook)
ASIN: B07VHP8M6Z (Kindle edition)
Publisher:  Fortress Press
Release Date: February 4, 2020


The stories of girls of color are often overlooked, unseen, and ignored rather than valued and heard. In Parable of the Brown Girl, minister and youth advocate Khristi Lauren Adams introduces readers to the resilience, struggle, and hope held within these stories. Instead of relegating these young women of color to the margins, Adams bring their stories front and center where they belong. By sharing encounters she’s had with girls of color that revealed profound cultural and theological truths, Adams magnifies the struggles, dreams, wisdom, and dignity of these voices. Thought-provoking and inspirational, Parable of the Brown Girl is a powerful example of how God uses the narratives we most often ignore to teach us the most important lessons in life. It’s time to pay attention. 






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Read an Excerpt


Chapter 1
Parable of the WEAK BROWN GIRL



Why would God make me a warrior when I’m really just weak?

—Deborah, age nine

For a nine-year-old girl, Deborah had a very sharp and opinionated mind. She was curious and perceptive, yet also quite innocent. About a week prior to Deborah’s ninth birthday, her mother brought her to see me for counseling. She wanted Deborah to have someone to share her inquisitive thoughts with outside of her family and friends. In the time we’d been seeing one another, Deborah and I talked about many things. She often described school as her “happy place.” One could feel the warmth of her big, bright smile when she talked about her friends and her classes. At school she felt safe, contrary to what she described as feeling trapped at home. She lived in a small, one-bedroom apartment with her mother and her mother’s boy friend, who was recently released from jail after two years. Before he returned, Deborah slept in a room with her mother, which she loved because of how close she felt to her mother physically and emotionally.

Now she slept in the living room on their big, dusty, brown couch, which she described as old and worn. The middle dipped low when she lay on the couch and she often awoke with her back aching, but her mother thought Deborah was being dramatic when she complained about it. However, Deborah’s grievances indicated she felt distance between her and her mother and no longer had a sense of security and safety at home. Deborah’s mother was usually tired from working most of the day to support herself, her daughter, and her boyfriend. It had been six months since her mother’s boyfriend had moved in, and Deborah didn’t feel comfortable with him in her home. When she told her mother this, her words fell on deaf ears, just like all her other complaints did. Her mother thought Deborah was jealous but also believed Deborah would adjust to the situation eventually.

Deborah had a black-and white-marbled composition notebook she used as her journal. She didn’t structure her thoughts in a particular way, filling the notebook mostly with pencil-drawn pictures and poems. Knowing these were her private thoughts, I told Deborah she did not have to read them to me. Sometimes, she would bring the journal and have it idly on the desk. Other times, she wanted to read her thoughts from the past week. One day as she read, I glanced into the notebook and saw a picture she’d drawn, but I couldn’t quite make out who or what it was.

“What’s that?” I asked.

Embarrassed, she tried to hide it, but I promised I wouldn’t judge anything she drew or wrote. When she showed me the picture more closely, I was horrified. It was a picture of a girl with a gun to her head and the words “What’s the point? No one cares.” Something inside of me knew Deborah was the little girl. I asked her about the picture and she said it was an old drawing. Upon seeing the concerned look on my face, she tried to reassure me she’d just been having a bad day when she’d drawn it.

We sat in silence for a moment while I tried to gather words. Deborah seemed more concerned with my reaction than the actual drawing, and I sensed she didn’t want me to worry. When I finally found the words, I tried my hardest to impress to her that her life was important and that although things were difficult, people loved and cared for her. I also told her she had a life with purpose just like everyone else and God hadn’t made a mistake when creating her. She paused to think about my words and then desperately asked one of the most profound questions I’d ever heard.

“Why did God make me a warrior when I’m really just weak?”

I’d explained to Deborah that we would journey through life’s questions during our time together. I’d warned I wouldn’t always have the answers, but we would do our best to find them. This was a time I had no answer. As our session for that particular day ended, I promised wewould revisit her question the next time, which would be the following week. As the intervening days passed, I grappled with her question, unable to get it out of my head. I was also ashamed to admit I had been in that exact theological crisis more times than I could count. Why did God make me a warrior, when I, just like Deborah, was simply a weak human being? Numerous challenging moments in my life have led me to question my abilities. When I would outwardly struggle, people would quote, “He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability” (1 Corinthians 10:13). However, my abilities felt like failures. It was—and still is—hard to admit to feeling this weakness, even though I had been in leadership positions before where I had to portray strength. I realized a nine-year-old could articulate one of life’s important questions in a way that I never could.

Nevertheless, I knew I’d have to tell Deborah something more than typical, “You’re not weak—don’t say that. You’re brave and strong.” Why did we respond with this comforting platitude even though it was not the truth for most of us? Adults especially give these types of fabrications when communicating with children, believing to protect them from painful realities. Was it better to tell a child uncomfortable truths at a young age or to lie so they can maintain unchallenged happiness? In this case, I did not want to lie. I had to tell Deborah the truth, which meant I needed to figure out an appropriate response to her question.

A week later, I went to our next session with the intention to pick up where we left off. I waited for her nervously and quietly. Deborah walked into the sparsely decorated room and sat across from me at our usual table. I couldn’t tell if she looked tired because of a long day at school or because of her sleepless nights on her couch at home. I told her I had been thinking about her question all week and I finally had an answer. As I looked into the face of that troubled yet innocent nine-year-old little girl, I said, “Just because you are weak, doesn’t make you less than a warrior. Warriors can be weak.” She might not have grasped the totality of that statement, but nevertheless, she looked relieved to know she could still be considered a warrior. Her weakness did not negate her strength.

If our truest selves are not always strong, why do we place such emphasis and privilege on constantly embodying strength? This quandary is a theological and human in nature, and one many black women and girls especially have to face throughout their lives.

We are human; therefore, we are strong and weak. Many of us, particularly black women and girls, have not been taught how to graciously give ourselves space to live with weakness. Weakness makes us acknowledge our inabilities and surrender to forces outside of ourselves for help. All of this contradicts our understandings of success and strength. We have difficulty seeing power in weakness.

Deborah’s struggles as a young black girl wrestling with a perceived mantle of strength reminded me of similar struggles I’d had my entire life. While I marveled at Deborah’s courage to ask her question, I later realized I’d had to garner my own courage to respond, to admit warriors can be weak and that I can be weak. I, a strong, independent, black woman, can also be vulnerable and fragile.

Black women have not had permission to be both. We need to be seen for all of who we are. I am proud of the strength in my DNA as a black woman and warrior, yet I am also grateful for the grace that gives me space to be weak when I need to be.

Deborah made me confront my own weaknesses. I still don’t know why God created us to have both weakness and strength. However, as 1 Corinthians suggests, God uses the weak things of the world to shine a light of truth on the strong. God chose to become incarnate in the weakness of Christ in order to present a powerful gospel of truth to the world. Weakness was the chosen one. Therefore, do not discount weakness. God resides with us in both our strength and our weakness; neither limits God.



Excerpt from Parable of the Brown Girl by Khristi Lauren Adams. 
Copyright © 2020 by Khristi Lauren Adams. Published by Fortress Press. 
Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.






Meet the author

Khristi Adams is the Firestone Endowment Chaplain, instructor of religious studies and philosophy, and co-director of Diversity at the Hill School in Pottstown, PA. Previously, she worked as Interim Protestant Chaplain at Georgetown University Law Center & Georgetown University, Associate Campus Pastor for Preaching & Spiritual Programming at Azusa Pacific University, and former Director of Youth Ministries at First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, NJ. Khristi is also the Founder & Director of “The Becoming Conference” that began summer 2017, which is an annual conference designed to empower, educate & inspire girls ages of 13-18. Khristi is a graduate of Temple University with a degree in Advertising and a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary where she obtained a Master of Divinity. Khristi is also currently an Associate Pastor at First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens. Her ministry and youth advocacy have been featured on CNN and her work has appeared in Huffington Post, Off the Page, and the Junia Project. When not in residence at The Hill School, she lives in East Brunswick, New Jersey.



Connect with the author via Twitter, Facebook, her website, LinkedIn, and YouTube




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Book Spotlight: FLY, FLY AGAIN by Katie Jaffe & Jennifer Lawson

Fly, Fly Again by Katie Jaffe and Jennifer Lawson, illustrated by Tammie Lyon
ISBN: 9781626346345 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781626346352 (ebook)
ASIN: B082347ZYR  (Kindle ebook)
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press
Release Date: January 7, 2020


Fly, Fly Again is a clever and charming story about Jenny, a child who dreams of flying. After years of tinkering in makeshift laboratories and studying the mechanics of flight with her pet Hawk, Jenny builds a plane—only to crash into the yard of her skateboarding neighbor, Jude, and his pet cheetah. Working with Jude, Jenny successfully learns how to control and fly her plane. This unique story includes lessons about problem-solving, teamwork, and determination as well as family-friendly information about the basics of aeronautical engineering like lift, drift, and more!










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Meet the Authors

KATIE JAFFE is Creative Director and Design Consultant of Aviation for Spectre Air Capital, and has aided in the design of several high-profile aircraft. Currently, she is leading the marketing and design efforts of an overseas airline. She also has a passion for children’s causes, and has committed herself to helping several charities for children around the world. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and three children.



JENNIFER LAWSON is a lifelong educator and advocate of the Children’s Literacy Program, Jennifer seeks to bring knowledge to students through creative curriculum and technology on a global level. As Owner and President of Decision Tree Technologies, she is currently endeavoring to teach using technologically advanced solutions that excite today’s students. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her family. 







Connect with the authors via Facebook, Instagram, or their website




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Book Showcase: IF I HAD TWO LIVES by Abbigail Rosewood



If I Had Two Lives by Abbigail N. Rosewood
ISBN: 9781609455217 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781609455224 (ebook)
ASIN: B07JP1LFS3 (Kindle edition)
Publisher:  Europa Editions
Release Date: April 9, 2019


This luminous debut novel follows a young woman from her childhood in Vietnam to her life as an immigrant in the United States – and her necessary return to her homeland.

As a child, isolated from the world in a secretive military encampment with her distant mother, she turns for affection to a sympathetic soldier and to the only other girl in the camp, forming two friendships that will shape the rest of her life.

As a young adult in New York, cut off from her native country and haunted by the scars of her youth, she is still in search of a home. She falls in love with a married woman who is the image of her childhood friend, and follows strangers because they remind her of her soldier. When tragedy arises, she must return to Vietnam to confront the memories of her youth – and recover her identity.

An inspiring meditation on love, loss, and the presence of a past that never dies, the novel explores the ancient question: do we value the people in our lives because of who they are, or because of what we need them to be?







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Read An Excerpt

Chapter 9

We started to plan our escape. Exactly what prompted our decision, I wasn’t sure, only we didn’t like that the old black and blues on our bodies didn’t fade completely before new ones were pressed on top of them. We started to fear that if we stayed, our skin would eventually turn a dark purple, an ill-fitting shade for us both. Boyfriends would be nearly impossible then. The beatings, different in the way they were administered and in the reasons why, looked the same on our skin.

After having gone out with my soldier, I confirmed to the little girl that our camp wasn’t completely isolated. When we broke out of the camp, we would follow the river upstream to town. There was a market and a shack with a mean boy as a guard. I didn’t think he would let us stay there. We would have to beg or sell lottery tickets until we had enough for a bus pass to the city. Unlike in our usual games, we didn’t think about the what-ifs, the endless ways we could fail. Failure to make it out of the camp: get caught, get lost, or starve. I feared a great number of things, but voicing them was useless. The little girl was set on leaving.

I didn’t tell the little girl what my soldier had said about me moving away, even though it had been on my mind ever since. I had thought myself perfectly content until another option was presented to me. The United States seemed a contradictory place, where a girl my soldier once knew had gone, where he too wanted to go. It was a place that made one person’s dream and shattered another’s, my soldier had told me. Half of me believed in running away from the camp with the little girl, but the other half wanted to go to New York more than anything.

At the camp, time didn’t seem to move forward linearly, instead scattering itself all around us. Everything was horizontal. In the morning, I ate breakfast and studied at my desk. In the evening, I followed the little girl around. At night, I fell asleep next to Mother while she worked on her laptop. I’d forgotten how many birthdays I’d celebrated since I’d been here. I didn’t know my age.

All I knew was I didn’t want to be a girl forever. I wanted to know the adult loneliness my soldier talked about. There were occasions when he would treat me as an equal, a friend. Unlike Mother, he had never yelled at me or assumed my ignorance. A mutual understanding eclipsed our relationship. I knew he shared with me things he wouldn’t talk about to anyone else, even other adults. He valued my intuition. It was a gift, he had said. Though I didn’t know what he meant, I promised myself I would nourish and strengthen it.

In New York, I knew from my soldier that there were many tall buildings. One floor added on top of another and the buildings grew vertically until they reached the sky. There would be a sense of time passing.

Though I longed for something new, anything other than the camp, I continued to participate in the little girl’s plan. If anything, I was more enthusiastic than before. Usually, it was the little girl who could create anything with her mind. This time it was I who talked wildly about our journey as vagabonds. The knowledge that I didn’t have to carry out the plans freed me. It was then that I first became aware of her as an entity outside myself who could be deceived and manipulated.

We were standing in front of the brick wall, where the little girl had waved to me for the first time. We hadn’t played this game in a long time—pretend to build our own protected city. That night, we began to stack the bricks in the same way the little girl had shown me when we became friends. I told her the story of the silhouettes again and again, embellishing details and smudging facts. She was captivated. I even suggested that one of these women was her mother. 

She bit her lips as she worked. Then she stopped and frowned in a way that made her whole face crumble. When I saw that she was shaking her head, I quickly corrected myself. I didn’t want to take it too far. 

“Maybe it wasn’t her. Could be anyone,” I said. 

“No, it’s her.” She shook her head again as if to empty her thoughts. 

“What if it’s not?” I said. 

“I want to see her. I want to go there,” she said and sat down on the wall we’d made. 

“If that’s what you want.”

“Will you come with me?” she said, not looking at me.

“Anywhere.” I said.

It seemed like the sky could not get any darker, but it did, as if the light was drained out of it. The little girl asked if there were no sun ever again, would I miss it? I told her of course, I would. I would miss anything I couldn’t ever have again. We couldn’t see well in the sudden blackness so we looked up at the stars. I tried to make out the little girl’s face. The sky had wrapped her up in its millions of shimmering lights. I reached out my hand and touched her face. She was as cold as night. 

A few months after the shopping trip, Mother showed me a photo of her friend in a newspaper. One side of her face was dented. Where her eye was supposed to be was a smear of skin oozing pus and blood. Her good eye was wide-open, staring right at me. I dropped the newspaper to the ground and ran to the bathroom. I looked in the mirror and pulled on my cheeks. Everything was intact. When I came out, Mother was sitting on the floor, looking at the photo. She tilted her head left and right alternately. 

“She used to be my secretary. She was also a talented singer,” Mother said. She covered her face. “I hardly recognize her. Come here.” 

I lay down on the floor and put my head in her lap. 

“The article says she was found unconscious on the street. They knew the news would reach me. It’s not safe here anymore. I’m making arrangements for you to go to the United States. When it’s right, I’ll join you.” 

I started to cry. I was afraid of losing her again. She petted my temple, scratched my back. Her touch felt alien. 

“Is she dead?” I asked.

“No. That’s the punishment.” 

On the news, India conducted three atomic tests despite worldwide disapproval. Pakistan responded with five nuclear tests. In the US, Clinton ordered air strikes against Iraq. A gay student was beaten to death. Vietnam dealt with the occasional protests from dissatisfied peasants and non-Party intellectuals. Corruption plagued and inhibited the country’s socio-economic advancement. Mother had taught me how to be callused to the tragedies of the world, or at least act as if I was. Nothing seemed important compared to the picture of the young woman, which invaded all aspects of my imagination. Whenever I closed my eyes, everyone I’d ever known had a bloody face, smashed teeth, broken jaw bones that jutted out and then were bent backward by an invisible hand to puncture their throat. Yet danger in my mother’s mouth was more like a violent film than anything real. Danger was the idea of running away with the little girl. Danger was the pleasure and shame I felt when my soldier’s gaze was on my back the first time I tried on a bra. 

Life went on normally while Mother silently searched for ways to send me abroad. I developed an irrepressible rage around animals, who I used to love. I had the urge to grab the necks of stray dogs and squeeze them. I kicked my pet chicken when she tried to get near me so that I wouldn’t do worse things to hurt her. I hated anything that was helpless and weaker than myself. 

That appetite for physical harm was so strong that I went to the pond one day by myself. It was barely morning. The sun had just broken through the sky. I crept out of bed so that I wouldn’t wake Mother. In the foyer, yellow and orange dust pirouetted around in elaborate patterns. I opened the door and left. Overcome by fear and excitement, I’d forgotten to put on shoes. It was better that way. I didn’t want anybody to ask where I was going. The pond was north of the community’s kitchen and next to the dumpsters. Adults had warned me never to swim there. The water was extremely toxic from years of being the dumpsite for oil and a medley of liquid waste from the kitchen. It was incomprehensible how fish still survived there. Nobody would eat fish from that pond. 

I crunched up my pants to above my knees and inched toward the syrupy water. When the water was up to my thigh, I stopped walking. I could feel many fish around my ankles. They were not afraid of me. Maybe if they bit me, I would grow hideous scales on my legs. I reached down to catch them. They were fast, dispersing as soon as my hand shot down into the thick water. I couldn’t see anything so I waited until they came back. They always did, circling my legs rapidly. After a while, my whole body was soaked and itchy. Still I didn’t catch any fish, but I kept trying, growling to myself. I must have been making noises out loud. 

“Hey, kid,” someone said. 

I didn’t know how long he had been standing there by the kitchen’s back door. His apron was as ragged as the rest of his clothes. He was smoking a cigarette. 

“What are you doing, kid? You won’t catch any fish that way.” He came toward me and threw his cigarette in the pond. I’d been caught. I decided that not saying anything would be my best way out.

“I wouldn’t recommend eating them either. They’ll make you sick. Unless you fry them really well. I mean, you need to fry them down to the bones. Then you can eat them.” He bent down and rolled up the cuffs of his pants. “I’ve been that hungry before. I’ve been so hungry once I ate a cockroach. I guess these fish can’t be any worse.” 

“You ate cockroaches?” I couldn’t help myself. 

“Not cockroaches. A cockroach, kid. There’s a big difference. Hang on.” He scurried off toward the kitchen and came back a few a minutes later with a colander in his hand. 

I felt the water beat harder against my waist as he came toward me. 

“What did it taste like?” 

“Oh, not much really. A bit like licorice.” He submerged the metal colander into the water. “Now we wait.” 

When he pulled the colander out, two little fish were flopping inside. Their bones were visible through their skin. 

“What do you want with them?” he said. 

“To make them die.”

“Kill them you mean. And then cook them?” 

“No.” 

“Listen, I can’t take any part in that unless it’s for a good cause. If you’re not cooking the fish, maybe we can say it’s mercy killing, okay? Okay. And it is. God, what a shitty pond. What a shitty life. Let’s put them out of their misery.” 

We dragged ourselves out of the water. I scooped a fish up inside my palm. It didn’t struggle, its heart throbbing lightly against my finger. The man pulled a cigarette from his shirt pocket and lit it. My fingers pressed in slowly against its slippery flesh. I smeared the dead fish on the ground between us. It smelled the way the pond did, but not any different alive than dead. 

“Here.” He handed me the colander and looked away. I took the other fish and threw it back to the pond. 

“One. I only wanted to kill one,” I said. 

“You only wanted to rescue one,” he said. 



Excerpt from If I Had Two Lives by Abbigail Rosewood.  
Copyright © 2019 by Abbigail Rosewood. 
Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.



Meet the author


Abbigail N. Rosewood was born in Vietnam, where she lived until the age of twelve. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University. An excerpt from her first novel won first place in the Writers Workshop of Asheville Literary Fiction Contest. She lives in New York City.




Connect with the author via Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, Twitter, and her website.  




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Book Showcase: THE SEA OF JAPAN by Keita Nagano

The Sea of Japan by Keita Nagano
ISBN: 9781684630127 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781684630134  (ebook)
ASIN: B07L96R7HG (Kindle edition)
Publisher:  Spark Press
Release Date: September 3, 2019


After fleeing a disastrous teaching job (and a bad gambling habit) in Boston, Lindsey starts teaching English in Hime, a small fishing town in Japan. One morning, while trying to snap the perfect ocean sunrise photo for her mother, she slips off a rock at the edge of Toyama Bay, hits her head, and plunges into the sea—and in doing so, sets off an unexpected chain of events.

When Lindsey comes to in the hospital, she learns that she owes her life to a young man named Ichiro—a local fisherman who also happens to be the older brother of one of her students. She begins to spend time with her lifesaver, and in the ensuing months, she becomes increasingly enmeshed in her new life: when she is not busy teaching, she splits her time between an apprenticeship with the local master sushi chef and going out fishing with Ichiro. As she and Ichiro grow closer, however, she also learns that not all is well in Hime, and she is drawn into a war to stop the town next door from overfishing their shared bay. Soon, she, Ichiro, and her pastrami-obsessed best friend, Judy—the person who talked Lindsey into coming to Japan in the first place—are spending all their free time working together to rescue the town. But when their efforts backfire, Hime gets closer to falling apart—putting Lindsey’s friends, her budding relationship with Ichiro, and her career in jeopardy. To save Hime, Lindsey realizes, she’ll have to become a true American fisherwoman and fight for her new home with everything she has.






Purchase Links:  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Barnes and Noble  |  B&N Nook  |  BookDepository  |  Books-A-Million  |   !ndigo  |  Kobo eBook



Praise:

“Love, survival, conflict…Lindsey runs wild in The Sea of Japan. When her loved ones are attacked, her American spirit stands tall. When her friends are in danger, her Japanese fans get united. The Hollywood-like climax where Lindsey competes in a fishing duel will leave you hanging on the edge of your seat.” — Tetsu Fujimura, Executive producer of Ghost in the Shell (Starring Scarlett Johansson)


“Keita Nagano has created a fascinating tale blending the best of two literary worlds, the American and the Japanese. It is a story of friendship, transformation, and journey for the meaning of life. What’s really marvelous about this novel is the unique style with its apparent simplicity and deep meaning. A true Japanese delight.” — Elvira Baryakina, author of Russian Treasures series

“Win or lose. Sports are loved by Americans because they’re tough and challenging, just like this story. At the climax of the book, the readers are on Lindsey’s fishing competition boat with her, watching her struggle to save the people she loves and get justice for her adopted town. Imagine you are standing on the 10-meter high diving board. The tension is just that, on the beautiful Sea of Japan.” — Thomas Gompf, 1964 Tokyo Olympic Medalist & Former President of United States Aquatic Sports.




Read an excerpt:


#1

The mountains were also still covered with white-silver snow, reflecting on the Sea of Japan.

It was still half-dark and chilly. I brought whiskey to keep me warm while I waited for the sunrise. It worked perfectly. I gently played some smooth jazz from my iPhone and sipped whiskey.

Finally, the tip of the sun appeared on the horizon, illuminating the dark sky. The orange light even illuminated the white snow on top of the Tateyama Mountains beyond the dark ocean. It was the most beautiful sunrise I had ever seen.

This was going to be the best scenery picture for Mom. I stood up and got the camera ready. But the rock was slippery, and as I stood, I lost my footing. I fell off the rock, hitting my head hard. I was thrown into the sea.

The last thing I saw before I lost consciousness was the water rising over my head.


Excerpt from The Sea of Japan by Keita Nagano. Copyright © 2019 by Keita Nagano. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.




Meet the author

Keita Nagano is an award-winning Japanese author who has lived almost equally in Nevada and Tokyo—more than twenty years in each place—and reflects the difference of the two cultures in his novels. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Keio University in Japan, as well as an MBA in global business and Ph.D. in management from Walden University in Minnesota. 

The pursuit of the authentic American experience is his hobby: he has been to all fifty states, all thirty major league ballparks, and the top sixty big cities in America. He has published seventeen business nonfiction and eight fiction books in Japan. In 2013, he received a Nikkei (Japanese Wall Street Journal) Award for Contemporary Novel for his missing-child thriller, Kamikakushi. He is also an official weekly columnist for Forbes Japan

Nagano lives in Henderson, Nevada, with his wife and Welsh corgi, and their teenage daughter is currently studying in Tennessee. 



Connect with the author via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and his website



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Book Spotlight: CHILDREN OF A GOOD WAR by Jack Woodville London

French Letters: Children of a Good War by Jack Woodville London
ISBN: 9780990612186 (paperback)
ASIN: B07H9KF9Q5 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Vire Press
Release Date: November 8, 2018


Four decades after World War II, 1986 is a year of terrorist hijackings, of personal computers and CD players, of AIDS and Miami Vice. It also is a year in which a beloved doctor falls to his death, a Pan Am pilot is shot while trying to foil the takeover of Pan Am flight 73, and when four bitter French widows use their medicines as bets to play poker in their retirement home while a lonely nun observes her vows of silence in an Irish convent. And it is the year when a cache of faded letters is discovered in a cellar, causing Frank Hastings to realize that he is not who he believed he is, and to go in search of his mother. 



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Author Q & A

1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? Or what first inspired you to write? 

8th grade. I was enrolled in a ‘Ready Writing’ competition and won a prize of some kind for a story about someone very like me who somehow fixed up a wrecked sports car, then had lots of adventures in places whose names I misspelled. I was taken by the craft of writing when I read a number of books in which the word choices the authors made were extraordinary. Examples were the romance poem ‘The Eve of St. Agnes’ and ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ (“The hound? The hound did nothing.” “Exactly.”)


2.  Where/When do you best like to write?  

In my study. I write best in the mornings when I’m alone.  


3.  Do you have any interesting writing habits or superstitions?  

Probably not. I believe that when working on fiction, you should attempt 1000 words a day. I also believe that you should begin by reading what you wrote yesterday, edit and revise it, then move on to a fresh 1000  words. Repeat tomorrow.  


4.  When you are struggling to write/have writer’s block, what are some ways that help you find your creative muse again?  

I dig out one of several novels that just light my fires. Larry McMurtry teaches creative writing with every sentence. I read almost anything by Evelyn Waugh or Anthony Powell. John Lanchester and Hilary Mantel are creative and inspiring.      


5.  What do you think makes a good story?

A flawed protagonist, a conflict, a solution, then disaster. 



6. What inspired your story?  

a.  I thought that there should be a story that reflects three conditions of the cycle (cyclone?) of life: being taken for granted (and attempting revenge); being utterly alone in the world, no matter how many people are around you; and, learning that you really don’t know who you are, then setting out to find out.

b.  I found the meanness of the Biblical story of the brothers Jacob and Esau and the things they did to their father to also be timeless. I build a family saga around parents who were not always completely blameless, their friends, their enemies, and their children, creating a story in which there are individual bits that all of us will recognize from our family, friends, or, shudder, ourselves. And, as Jacob and Esau feuded and lied, so do brothers feud and lie today, with lasting consequences. Finally, one of the great narratives of sibling rivalries is the accusation that one of them is not really a sibling at all, but a foundling, a child dug up under a cabbage patch, or a bastard that someone brought home to raise.


7.  How does a new story idea come to you? Is it an event that sparks the plot or a character speaking to you?

Characters are wonderful devices. You can create them, then drop them into nearly any period or event and they will act as such characters would act at any time in history, whether it is ancient Greece, Tudor England, baby boomers in the 1980s, or Trump America. 


8.  Is there a message/theme in your novel that you want readers to grasp?  

I hope that the notion comes through that finding out who we are is something each of us must find out for himself or herself; while we may or may not know who our parents are, we almost never know who they were.  


9.  What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?  

How little we really know about our parents.  


10.  What was your greatest challenge in writing this book?  

When drawing complex characters with richly detailed individual lives, it takes a great deal of focus to keep their individual storylines arranged so that they become a part of the real story. There are clues buried in most of the characters’ roles that readers often breeze through as minor details of daily life, then realize some time downstream that they are important pieces of the story. 





Meet the Author


Jack Woodville London studied the craft of fiction at the Academy of Fiction, St. Céré, France and at Oxford University. He was the first Author of the Year of the Military Writers Society of America. His French Letters novels are widely praised for their portrayal of America in the 1940s, both at home and in the Second World War, and as Americans evolved from the experience of that war into the consumer society of the baby boom generation. Children of a Good War is the third book in that series. The first book, Virginia’s War, was a Finalist for Best Novel of the South and the Dear Author ‘Novel with a Romantic Element’ contest. The second volume, Engaged in War, won the silver medal for general fiction at the London Book Festival, among other awards. His craft book, A Novel Approach, a short and light-hearted work on the conventions of writing, is designed to help writers who are setting out on the path to write their first book. A Novel Approach won the E-Lit Gold Medal for non-fiction in 2015. Jack also is the author of several published articles on the craft of writing and on early 20th-century history. His work in progress is Shades of the Deep Blue Sea, a mystery-adventure novel about two sailors and a girl, set on a Pacific island World War II. Jack lives in Austin, Texas. 


Connect with the author via Facebook, his Website,  or YouTube.



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French Letters: Children of a Good War


2018 Book 262: I CAN HANDLE HIM by Debbie K. Lum

I Can Handle Him by Debbie K. Lum
ISBN: 9781944463120 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781944463137 (ebook)
ASIN: B079H9HTP3 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: DKLit
Release Date: April 7, 2018 (paperback & Kindle edition) | May 11, 2018 (ebook)


Quinn Corbin’s got nothing to lose – except her life.

She’s finally got the attention of the man she’s always loved, Nick Allen. But Nick has a reputation for trouble. And after a car explosion killed his last girlfriend, many people in San Antonio, Texas think Nick got away with murder.

But Quinn, a 24-year-old elementary school teacher and bubbly optimist, believes Nick is innocent. So does her best friend Tory, a law student and sarcastic realist. Soon Quinn and Nick find their relationship growing when suddenly their world upends. Now Nick is in major trouble again and Quinn may have made the biggest mistake of her life.

With incriminating evidence mounting against Nick, Tory works to prove his innocence. But Nick finds himself in a bigger battle when he must fight to protect, and win, his true love. 



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Quinn Corbin, Tory Taylor, and Nick Allen are reunited at the retirement party for Al Thomas, their former employer and owner of the bookstore/cafe the Indigo Exchange in San Antonio. All three have moved on with their lives, but have fond memories of Al and Indigo Exchange. Quinn has finished graduate school and has been hired to become an elementary school teacher, her dream job. Tory is following in her father’s footsteps and is in law school. Nick has decided to become an entrepreneur and take what he’s learned from Al and open his own cafe/bookstore but includes an in-house bakery. On the surface, it looks as if everything is great between these three and Al, but a recent car accident that resulted in the death of a girl has Al’s son’s best friend and his family out-of-sorts. This family wrongly blames Nick for Sienna’s death, especially since Nick wasn’t driving the car — Sienna was — and the investigators found that the car had a faulty gas tank that raptured after the accident. But trouble seems to follow Nick. His parents died in a car accident when he was only 18 years old (he wasn’t in the car and had nothing to do with the accident). He was then in an accident where he hit and killed a beloved family pet (he tried to make amends). Now the incident with Sienna. But Quinn and Tory both know that Nick has a kind heart and isn’t the bad guy everyone seems to make him out to be, so Quinn decides to befriend him once again. Her plan seems to work until she invites him over to her parents’ home for their annual fiesta and he’s disinvited because of rumors and bad feelings. But Quinn refuses to give up. When the opportunity presents itself to make amends for this slight she takes it. Little does she know that this opportunity may well be her last. Tory loves Quinn and is also a staunch advocate for Nick, so when a devastating accident occurs she does the only thing she knows how and that’s become his legal ally. Can Nick and Tory find out which enemy has it out for him before he ends up behind bars permanently?

I didn’t particularly enjoy the first portion of I Can Handle Him, as I found it to be a bit slow. However, the pace picked up after a few chapters and the story sucked me in. I was just as invested and Quinn, Tory, and Nick into finding out what had happened, why it had happened, and who was behind it. There’s a lot going on in this story, there’s the death of Sienna, the rivalry and antimony between Sienna’s brother and Nick, the business rivalry between Faze (Nick’s business) and Indigo Exchange (Al’s business), another prominent character’s death (no, I’m not telling you who but it is pivotal to the story), the investigation into that death and subsequent arrest of Nick for vehicular manslaughter, family drama (Nick gets reunited with his long-lost brother), and romance. My only wish for this story was to get to know the San Antonio area a bit more (I can say I’m craving tacos now, thank you Ms. Lum), but enjoyed reading the scenes set on the Riverwalk area. For those of you that are fans of New Adult stories, Romance, or Romantic-Suspense, I encourage you to grab a copy of I Can Handle Him to read while lounging on the beach, camping, glamping, flying to your vacation destination, or during your staycation.


Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of this book from the author/publisher via PR by the Book. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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Meet the author

Debbie K. Lum is an unlikely author, a non-reader who was inspired by a self-esteem ad campaign encouraging little girls to dream big. Her romantic suspense novels feature fun, flawed characters with steamy and complicated relationships (and plenty of surprises!) In 2018, Lum released I Can Handle Him, which was called “A fresh, enjoyable tale.” by BlueInk Reviews. Reviews for the book have been published in Booklist Magazine and Kirkus Review Magazine. Her 2017 novel, The Doctor, The Chef, or the Fireman, was called “A quick, satisfying romantic mystery.” by Kirkus Reviews. In 2016 she debuted Plebeian Revealed, Plebeian In Danger, and Plebeian Reborn, a series about a married woman who finds sudden fame with her ex-boyfriend.

Debbie splits her time between Florida and Texas and drinks more unsweetened iced-tea than she probably should.


Connect with the author

Website     |     Facebook     |     Twitter     |     Goodreads      |     Pinterest



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I Can Handle Him

I Can Handle Him 


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Book Spotlight: SAVING EACH OTHER by Stacy Mitchell

Saving Each Other (Saving Series, Book 1) by Stacy Mitchell 
ISBN: 9781974591718 (paperback)
ASIN: B07CLDKKQG (Kindle edition)
Publication Date: May 15, 2018 (re-release date)


Two hearts, two souls. Devastated by loss, united through destiny. 

The rules: Communicate only through text messages and never reveal our real names or other personal details.

My name is Ean Montgomery. After the drunk-driving accident that killed my wife, son, and unborn daughter, I was forced to see a grief counselor. In an unconventional move, she gave me a private cell phone and the first initial of the name of a woman who had been widowed by the same accident. I had no intention of ever texting her but with all hope and the will to live gone, I found myself quickly slipping down the rabbit hole. Desperate, lonely, and unbelievably sad, I reached out to her and she became my everything.

Everything is excruciating! Everything is broken!

My name is Dani Adams. I was married to my college sweetheart, the love of my life. Together we were raising our four-year-old daughter and running a successful business. Then the accident happened and life as I knew it ended in the blink of an eye. I didn’t want to answer his text but I was barely hanging on by a thread and he was in tremendous pain, so I replied. And once again, my world was forever changed.

I can’t lose you, I won’t survive…

Over the course of a year, through texting alone, we bond. Friendship blossoms into something deeper. We were never supposed to meet, but fate had other plans, and into this world of loss and despair, something amazing began to grow… But can the passion we’ve found sustain itself with the deep, soul-twisting pain that never seems to fade?   



AUTHOR FAQ


Where did you grow up/live now?  I was born and raised in Los Angeles,  moved to the South Bay when I met my husband, and then relocated to the  Conejo Valley when my oldest son, Jason, started middle school.  

Do you have kids and/or pets?  I have two sons. Jason graduated from Rutgers, and stayed there, while my youngest, Brian, is about to start design school. I’ve never owned a cat but may get one. I lost my Goldendoodle, Norman, last year, and my labradoodle, Maddie, is lonely. Look for my tribute to Norman in the back of my book.  


Who are some of your favorite authors?  My son Brian is gay and I wanted to be there for him, to guide him. So I turned to gay romance novels. I’m now completely addicted to them. People who live in the LGBTQ+ community have much higher hurdles they have to scale, so the love they share is much deeper than straight couples. Most of the time they’re better than mainstream books. NR  Walker is my favorite M/M author. I also love Riley Hart, Lucy Lennox, Alexa Land, and Pandora Pine to name a few. When I read “straight” romance novels, I tend to lean toward Contemporary and romantic comedy. My favorite M/F author is Sandi Lynn. Other one-click authors are Adrianna Locke, Corinne Michaels, BN Toler, and Kristen Callahan.  

What do you like to do when you are not writing? When I’m not writing, I’m reading. I  could spend the day writing, and still, want to read. My goal with  Goodreads is 200 books. And, when I’m not reading, I can be found being creative in other ways. Brian designs fashion, and I love sewing with him. I also love designing jewelry, scrapbooking, and making gift baskets. Look for some of the fun giveaways, coming in the near future, many of them will be handmade.  


What are some things unique to your books?  Aside from adding details that make it seem like you’re watching a movie, I love quotes, or as my husband calls them, Squotes. It’s something you’ll see throughout my book. You also don’t find many books on the market where the main characters share chapters. Originally, I had five, but, over time, I narrowed it down to two. In the scene where Ean quotes Dani, mimicking her slurring her words, I actually slurred into my phone and let autocorrect do its thing. Also, in my second book, Josh talks with his mouth full. I shoved a bunch of crackers in my mouth and repeated his words. It was both messy, and effective.  


Where/When do you best like to write?  I have a small deck off my bedroom. I bought an oversized chair from Costco, and spend my days writing with my laptop on a polka dot, pillowed LapDesk. I’m a night-owl and find I write the best when the moon’s miling in the night sky.


What do you think makes a good story?  I’m a very visual person, I was an interior decorator in my last life, so I love books with a ton of imagery. I also love books with real places in them. It’s so much fun to stumble across one when I’m reading, and I always Google and bookmark them. It’s also why I only include real places in my books.  


When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? Or what first inspired you to write?  Let’s start with the first question. Until three years ago,  I  never read a book that I wasn’t required to read. Eleven years ago, my son Brian went away to summer camp. My husband and I decided to take advantage of our time off, hopped in my car and took a road trip up the West coast, from California to Washington. We were in Oregon, nine hours away, when the call came in that  Brian had had a seizure. It was the hardest drive of my life. Thankfully, we got in touch with my mother, so I knew he wasn’t alone. When I got there, I was a  basket-case, and that’s where the double-edged sword of having my mother there came into play. She handed me a little blue pill, to calm me. She then gave me a  few more. She also gave me the name of a “dirty” doctor and told me what to say.  The little blue pill was Xanax. By the time I ended my addiction, which was eight years later, I was, not only taking twelve to fourteen milligrams a day, I was also hooked on over a dozen prescription drugs. In 2014, I traveled to Ireland and ran out of most of them. The withdrawal was so bad, I spent the entire time there in the hotel room. When I got home, I was in the doctor’s office bright and early the very next day. Six months later, I was back in the same boat. The only difference was, this time I was still in California. That was when I said, “Enough is enough,” and flushed every other pill I had. In hindsight, it was completely the wrong way to quit. Three years later, I still feel the effects, especially when I’m stressed. So this brings me to the second question. Dani and Ean inspired me to write. Six months after I stopped the pills, I was in bed in that space between consciousness and subconsciousness when Dani and Ean came to me. The best way I can describe it is…like watching a movie. I felt their pain with such intensity it took my breath away. I got up, opened notes on my iPhone, since I didn’t own a laptop, and my thumbs got to work.  


What are some of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?  Keep your ears open and your mouth closed. Ideas can come from anywhere. And it really does take a village. I originally published my book August of last year. When the reviews came in, I not only read them, I got in touch with the people who wrote them. Best. Move. Ever! I got great advice and made a ton of new friends. It’s because of them that I re-opened Saving Each Other and spent the last four months revising it. Look for their names on the acknowledgment page. And, don’t even get me started on the amazing women who helped me make my book what it is today, Stacey Blake, Judy Zweifel, Francine LaSala, and Sara Kocek.  


When you are struggling to write/have writer’s block, what are some ways that help you find your creative muse again?  Writer’s block isn’t an issue for me. Saving Each Other is the first in a series of five books. I wrote my second book, Saving Them, a month after my first, and I also wrote it in a month. The last three in the series, Saving Ourselves, Saving Christmas, and Saving  Maybe, are partially written and completely mapped out. Going back to “ideas can come from anywhere,” I was in San Francisco last year and met an amazing man,  who sadly was homeless. While talking to him, a sequel series, The Finding Series, played out in my mind. It’s all their kids. Even though I haven’t experienced “Writer’s Block,” I have times when I’m uninspired. My words come from my characters, their voices roll through me. So, for the times I can’t hear them, I found that stepping back usually does the trick. By the time I start writing again, the words are much easier to find. Brian helps too. He’s my official “name” man. Other than the main characters, he named everyone. Talking it out helps too. I bounce ideas off my best friend, Leslie, and after a half an hour, I’m good to go.  

What was your greatest challenge in writing this book?  You won’t see it,  because I’m surrounded by such amazing women, but I suck at grammar! Like legitimately suck!    


What is the one book no writer should be without?  One word…Thesaurus!



Meet the author



Stacy Mitchell was born and raised in Los Angeles and lived in the South Bay for 20 years before moving to the Conejo Valley. She lives with her husband of 29 years and is the mom of two grown sons. When she’s not writing, she spends her time reading, hiking in the Santa Monica mountains or enjoying a glass of cabernet.





Connect with Stacy
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/savingeachother/ 
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/sixmitchells/saving-each-other/ 



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Saving Each Other


Saving Each Other



Saving Each Other

Q&A with Jane Marlow, author of HOW DID I GET HERE?

How Did I Get Here? by Jane Marlow 
ISBN: 9781632991645 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781632991652 (ebook)
Publication Date: May 8, 2018
Publisher: River Grove Books


In the 1800s, two events altered the course of Russia’s future— the emancipation of the serfs and the Crimean War. Author Jane Marlow takes readers back to this significant time in Russian history, journeying  800 miles south of Moscow to the frontlines of the Crimean War, in her second novel, How Did I Get Here? 

Andrey Rozhdestvensky enters his final year of medical studies in 1854 with an empty belly, empty pockets, and secondhand clothes held together by wishful thinking. When Russia blunders into the misbegotten Crimean War,  Tsar Nicholas recruits medical students to the front. Andrey grabs at what he believes to be free passage out of his vapid life—a portal to a new identity.  

Volunteering as a surgeon for the Russian army, Andrey travels to the frontlines in Sevastopol and Simferopol on Russia’s Crimean Peninsula,  where he discovers the atrocities of war, and fights to keep death and disease—scurvy, typhoid, typhus, cholera, gangrene and frostbite— from decimating the troops. As the war progresses, Andrey fears his mind is becoming unhinged as he witnesses the most senseless disregard for human life imaginable.  

But even after the ink dries on the peace treaty, the madness of the war doesn’t end for Andrey. He scours city and countryside in search of a place where his soul can heal. Emotionally hamstrung, can he learn to trust the woman who longs to walk beside him on his journey?  


Author Q & A



What inspired you to write How Did I Get Here?

While I was conducting research for the first novel in the Petrovo series, Who Is to Blame, I kept bumping into this thing called the Crimean War. Eventually, I realized it simply had to be the backdrop of my next novel for two reasons. First, the Crimean War was the guinea pig for a myriad of innovations that forever changed the face of warfare. The second factor that grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let go was the War’s magnitude as a gruesomely ugly historical reality.  Not only was the carnage on the battlefield hideous, but an even greater number of fatalities were attributable to disease, malnutrition, winter exposure, and lack of competent leadership. Not until World War I would more people die as victims of war.  


What led to your fascination with Russia in the 1800s?

I trace my interest back to 6th grade when mother dragged me kicking and screaming to a professional stage performance of Fiddler on the Roof. But as my feet began tapping with the music, I experienced the proverbial smack-to-the-forehead. I was just at the right age to gain an inkling of understanding about prejudice, suppression, rural culture, and the deep-seated role of religion. 


You researched the book thoroughly. Did you know when you started how extensive your research would become?

Research turned out to be a little more problematic than I expected. Although I located a modest number of books and articles, the Crimean War doesn’t play a prominent role in US history, and I was left with many uncertainties. I attempted to locate a graduate student in the US who would proofread my manuscript for historical accuracy but found no takers. I ended up consulting with the Crimean War Research Society in the U.K. I’m particularly grateful for their expertise for the chapter that took place at the Malakov bastion.


What is one of your favorite stories or details about life in 19th century Russia?

While conducting research, I was taken aback by the fact that prostitution was a regulated business in Russia during the 1800s. For example, in order to control syphilis and other venereal diseases, prostitutes were required to be examined periodically. Their customers, however, had no such obligation. The policy seems akin to placing a dam half-way across the river, doesn’t it? My third book in the Petrovo series offers readers an insider’s view of a Russian brothel.


Where did you begin your research and where did it lead you? Any advice for other authors writing historical fiction?

My research began way back in the late 1980s. Because the Internet wasn’t an option in those days, I scoured the library for books and articles. Thank goodness for the Interlibrary Loan program! I also took a sightseeing trip to Russia which included spending time in the rural farmland that serves as the setting for my fictional village of Petrovo. Nowadays, I’d urge any historical fiction writer to befriend their local librarians. They know the ins and outs of the various online databases.



What was it like writing from the perspective of a male character? Any challenges?

Such a daunting undertaking for a senior-citizen woman to plunge herself into the mindset of a young, virile male! One tool I used was to read and reread Jonathan Tropper’s novels. His flawed, lustful protagonists crack me up!


What distinguishes How Did I Get Here? from other narratives about the Crimean War?

American authors have produced very little in the way of fiction set in the Crimean War; therefore, it’s a wide-open canvas. Second, my novel doesn’t end with the war. It shows a veteran’s struggle with the then unnamed consequence of war, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Third, as a veterinarian, I felt compelled to demonstrate the agony war inflicts on animals. My eyes tear up every time I read my own passage in which the protagonist has to kill a horse that was injured in battle.


As a writer, how do you weave fact and fiction into a novel?

Conceptually, it’s easy if your mind is prone to flights of fancy. However, meticulous research and double-checking is required if the characters are well-known persons or if the setting is a well-documented event.  

This particular book presented an additional challenge. During the 1800s, Russia used what is known as the Old Style calendar (O.S.), which is 12 days behind the Western New Style (N.S.) calendar. Hence, historical Russian events are often dated along the lines of “Oct 24 O.S. (Nov 5 N.S.).”

Imagine being an author (i.e., me) doing research on a war in which one of the military forces used Old Style while the opponents used New Style. Additionally, some authors mark their books, articles, and online resources with either N.S. or O.S., but other authors don’t deem it necessary to specify which calendar style they use. Then try to coordinate actual events (some N.S., some O.S.) into a fictional narrative in which timing was crucial to the story. My sanity underwent a notable decline in during this period of writing.


Were there any unexpected obstacles you encountered when you began writing How Did I Get Here?

The same aspect that I hope will attract readers—a story about a little known but ghastly war—was also a hurdle—finding detailed depictions from the Russians’ point of view.


What do you hope your readers will get out of the novel?

My desire is that readers find several take-home messages:

First, the old adage, “Beauty is only skin deep.”  

Second, malevolence and injustice can mold a child, but fortitude plus a helping hand can remake the man.  

Third, every person is obligated to give back to society. And not just according to what he received from it, but at a higher level. 

Fourth, a better understanding of the demons of war as manifested in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Who’s a character from the book you wish you could meet?

I relish 10-year-old Platon’s inquisitiveness, boundless energy, and joie de vivre. In fact, I’d adopt him if I could. But since I can’t, I’m entertaining the possibility of writing a book with him as the protagonist so I can watch him mature into a man.


What was your favorite novel growing up?

By the time I reached junior high, I was ready to put the Nancy Drew series behind me. Being a typical girlie-girl, I was forever enamored by the first adult, mainstream novel I read, Gone with the Wind


What authors/books do you draw inspiration from?

If only I could be as talented a writer as Pulitzer Prize-winner Richard Russo! During a seminar on writing fiction, the instructor told us that taking pen in hand and writing and re-writing good passages from favorite books would promote brain neuron connections that would improve our own writing. I must have copied the same passage from Nobody’s Fool at least 200 times!


Can we expect more books in the Petrovo series?

You bet! The third novel in the series will offer an insider’s view of the seamier side of 1870s Moscow.


Where can readers find your books and learn more about you?

Both novels are available in paper, Kindle, and Audible formats on Amazon. If your local bookstore doesn’t stock the book, request that it be ordered.


For more about me as an author, plus a few chuckles from Slavic Slapstick, as well as jaw-dropping tidbits about historic Russia, visit my blog at www.janemarlowbooks.com, and subscribe to my free, no sales gimmicks, no obligation e-newsletter with quarterly in-box delivery.



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Meet the author

Jane Marlow was 11 years old when her mother hauled her to a stage performance of Fiddler on the Roof—a night that began her lifelong fascination with the grayness and grandeur of 19th century Russia. After a 30-year career as a veterinarian, Jane began writing full-time. She spent years researching 1800s  Russia, the setting for her first two novels, Who Is to Blame? and How Did I Get  Here?, the first and second books in the Petrovo series. Jane holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health from Texas A&M University and her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Illinois. A longtime resident of the Austin, Texas area, she now lives in Bozeman, Montana.


Follow the author:  https://www.facebook.com/JaneMarlowBooks


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How Did I Get Here?


How Did I Get Here?

Book Showcase: COLORBLIND by Leah Harper Bowron

Colorblind by Leah Harper Bowron
ISBN: 9781943006083 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781943006090 (ebook)
ASIN: B071JNGJSD (Kindle edition)
Publisher: SparkPress
Publication Date: July 11, 2017


The time is 1968. The place is Montgomery, Alabama. The story is one of resilience in the face of discrimination and bullying. 

Using the racially charged word “Negro,” two Caucasian boys repeatedly bully Miss Annie Loomis–the first African-American teacher at the all-white Wyatt Elementary School. At the same time, using the hateful word “harelip,” the boys repeatedly bully Miss Loomis’s eleven-year-old Caucasian student, Lisa Parker, who was born with cleft palate and cleft lip. 

Who will best the bullies? Only Lisa’s mood ring knows for sure.



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Meet the author


Leah Harper Bowron is a lawyer and James Joyce scholar from Birmingham, Alabama. Her article “Coming of Age in Alabama: Ex parte Devine Abolishes the Tender Years Presumption” was published in the Alabama Law Review. She recently lectured on Joyce’s novel Ulysses at the University of London and the Universite de Reims. She lives in Texas and has a daughter named Sarah and a cat named Jamie. Her debut fiction book, Colorblind, was released in July 2017.




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Colorblind: A Novel

Colorblind: A Novel
  

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Colorblind

Author Q&A: Dean Economos and Alyssa Machinis – A NORTH SHORE STORY

A North Shore Story by Dean Economos and Alyssa Machinis
ISBN: 9780996978002 (ebook)
ASIN: B017N3U6UK (Kindle version)
Publication Date: January 19, 2016


For the teenagers of Chicago’s North Shore, everyone has something to hide.

In a daring attempt to impress the elusive Sophia, Michael makes the biggest decision of his life, stealing over a hundred thousand dollars from St. Theodore Community Church.

That same night, Nichole’s insecurities are finally forgotten with a drug she soon won’t be able to control.

When Michael makes his getaway, he sees his friend Joseph cheat on his girlfriend with the priest’s daughter and knock over a candle that sets the church ablaze.

As the consequences of that night unfold, Joseph is blamed for the fire and the missing money. Can the teenagers of the North Shore confess their vices to help their friend? Or will their greed, infidelity, and jealousy change all their lives forever?



   
Q&A with the authors:

Dean Economos

Give us some background, what did you do before writing this book?

I went to college at Loyola University Chicago and received my undergrad in Biology and a minor in Biostatistics. I then went on to receive my M.B.A. from Loyola’s Quinlan School of Business with a concentration in Entrepreneurship.


What were the events that inspired the book?

The book was inspired by different experiences growing up. Those key events and experiences were then intertwined with the more current events of our church’s media coverage.


Some parts of your book are things you actually experienced, they must have stuck with you for you to want to write about them years later. Did you always know you wanted to tell these stories?

I kind of had a premonition growing up that these events would be shared. My friends and I would always say we should’ve had a show like Laguna Beach or something of that nature. So, in a way, I did think these stories would be told in one way or another, I just didn’t think I’d be the one to tell them.


Like other stories of turmoil, we are drawn to A North Shore Story because we can relate to the characters. Can you elaborate on what is relatable about the internal struggles of the book’s characters?

What makes these characters extremely relatable to readers are the confidence and relationship problems each one of them goes through, whether it be friendship or romantic. Some characters go through other internal struggles such as underage drinking, drug use, and sexual peer pressure. I think that everyone at one time or another has been in one of these circumstances.


What was your favorite part of writing this book?

Since this was my first book, I didn’t know what to expect. I thought I was supposed to have a template or well-thought out plan before writing anything. Instead, I jumped into it head-first and developed the story as I wrote. I feel that doing it this way allowed myself to be more creative and not stick to a “script” per se. I was even surprised at what I was able to create.


What inspired you to write this story so many years later?

What originally got my gears turning was the media’s coverage of our former priest and his embezzlement of church funds. I then started to think about our time growing up at our church and the events that our friends and I experienced. After pinpointing key events, I began formulating the plotline which now makes up A North Shore Story.


You know some of these characters in your waking life. Who was the most exciting to write? How have they changed because of what happened?

The most exciting character to write about was definitely Kate. Kate, and the girl who she’s based off of, has a very exciting personality and a distinct attitude. When our friend read the story, she loved how she was portrayed in the storyline. I think that she, along with the rest of our friends, have changed in that we’ve learned how to tackle the problems that Kate and the rest of the group are dealing with right now.


Tell us more about your personal part in the stories. Are you in the book? How did you change your story for the fiction rendition?

I am in the book. With my character, and with all the characters, I left elements of real life in the story and in the personality, but overall the fundamental qualities of each character are unique from their real life counterparts.


What strengths did you and Alyssa bring to the table to help one another write the book?

I felt more connected to writing the actual story. I was able to figure out and connect the different subplots of the book, while Alyssa is very familiar with novels and creative writing. With those skills, she helped make the book come alive.


Do you anticipate a sequel?

I’ve thrown ideas around in my head and I’ve talked about it with Alyssa. We’re open to it but haven’t started writing anything yet.



Alyssa Machinis

Tell us about your background, what have you done since the events that occurred that inspired A North Shore Story?

Well, I went to college at the University of Illinois and graduated with a degree in Advertising and minors in both Business and Communications. Now I work at an advertising-technology company as a Digital Strategist.


Is your side of the story depicted in the book? If so, did you change the reality for the fiction version?

My side of the story is depicted in the book, but it’s pretty separated from reality. The biggest and only consistency between my character and I are our driven personalities.


What was the most difficult part about writing this book?

The most difficult part of writing the book was helping it come alive. The content was there, and the story was strong, but fostering the story from a passive standpoint into an active point of view was a challenge.

What do you think the most important lesson from the book is?

The most important lesson from the book is to be confident in who you are. Don’t worry about what other people think because the fear of judgment can turn you into a person you don’t want to be.


What part of this story do you think appeals to young adult readers most?

I think what appeals to young adults about A North Shore Story are the pop culture references mixed with struggles that I think a majority of teens have experienced or encountered at some point in their lives.


What clique or group you were in while in high school? Can you tell us an event that happened to you and your friends that almost made it into A North Shore Story but isn’t included?

I was definitely in the choir group throughout high school. There weren’t many events that didn’t make it into A North Shore Story, but we almost wrote in a choir sub-plot. However, we switched it to fashion as the story developed.


What were some of your favorite books in high school, when the story takes place?

I loved the Harry Potter series and the Myron Bolitar series by Harlan Coben. He writes excellent mystery novels, and J.K. Rowling is a genius.

Who is your favorite author? What were a few books that inspired your writing?

I don’t necessarily have a favorite author (I read a lot). However, I do think that J.K. Rowling’s writing style was very influential on my own. It’s also comforting to know that she had humble beginnings just like Dean and I have now.


Do you think you’ll write another book?

Like Dean mentioned, we’ve talked about it a little bit. However, as of now we have not made any strides toward writing another book.



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