New Release: KERI’S CHRISTMAS WISH by Pamela S. Thibodeaux

51dkshbbrwlKERI’S CHRISTMAS WISH by Pamela S. Thibodeaux

Inspiration Romance / Released Dec 3, 2016

For as long as she can remember, Keri Jackson has despised the hype and commercialism around Christmas so much she seldom enjoys the holiday. Will she get her wish and be free of the angst to truly enjoy Christmas this year?

A devout Christian at heart, Jeremy Hinton, a Psychotherapist, Life Coach, Spiritual Mentor and Energy Medicine Practitioner has studied all of the world’s religions and homeopathic healing modalities. But when a rare bacterial infection threatens the life of the woman he loves, will all of his faith and training be for naught?

Book Excerpt: OUT OF BOUNDS by Melissa Klein

51luv0etg3lOUT OF BOUNDS by Melissa Klein / Contemporary Romance / Released Dec 2, 2016 by The Wild Rose Press

He nodded as if they’d settled the matter. “Friends then?”

Avery looked at the rugged hand he offered, wondering what it would feel like against her skin. “Okay.” She extended her hand and found out. The warmth sent small tremors through her body, building pockets of desire in places she hadn’t felt physical need in years. Her breath caught.

Connor tugged on the hand he held in his, focusing her attention on him, then with his other he fingered one of her curls that had come loose from her ponytail. “How is it possible you’ve gotten more beautiful?”

Pulling out of a 5G dive was easier than pulling out of his grasp, especially with the urge to sink into his arms so strong. Avery dug deep and snatched her hand from his. “I don’t think this is a good idea,” she said, though at the moment she’d have trouble saying specifically what was wrong with letting him continue to brush his thumb across her cheek.

Connor shrugged. “Maybe not. But it doesn’t mean we won’t have fun doing it.”

Being with him would be like putting her plane in a dive—exhilarating as hell and just as dangerous. She should send him on his merry way with a couple well-placed sharp words.

His offer dangled tantalizingly in the air between them.

She wanted Connor. There was no sense in lying to herself about that. She also wanted a twenty-pound box of chocolate. In the long run, neither would be good for her.

The alarm on her phone sounded, saving her from making a huge mistake. “I’ve got an appointment I need to keep,” she said, snatching her things and practically sprinting to her hotel room.

 

Interview: Melissa Klein author of the Out of Uniform series

thumbnail_klein13024-12-8x101Tell us about your new release.

Out of Bounds is the first in the Out of Uniform series which centers on a group of naval aviators and the challenges they face after leaving the Navy. In Out of Bounds, Avery Madigan and Connor St. James are long-time competitors who reconnect at a retirement ceremony. Both have matured over the years and are ready to put their rivalry behind them. They even agree to a vacation fling. However, just as each considers something more, fate intervenes. Old wounds are reopened and trust is destroyed. In order to give their fledgling love a second chance, rule-follower Avery must learn to bend and Connor has to mend his maverick ways.

51luv0etg3lWhat led you to write this book?

I come from a military family, and the men and women of our armed forces are the ultimate heroes in my opinion. At one point in my life, I was friends with several naval aviators. I’ve never met a more arrogant group of people, but I’d be pretty cocky too if I could set a super-sonic aircraft on a spot the size of a postage stamp. I love their bravery and sacrifice as well as their confidence. Crafting characters inspired by those men and women has been my way of supporting their efforts.

Do you have a favorite fictional character by another author you’d like to meet?

I’d pay big bucks to meet any of the vampires in J. R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood world.

Do you have an interesting quirk about your personality that you’d like to share?

I like to be prepared for any possibility. You never know when disaster—or opportunity—might strike. Not only to I have a well thought out “bug out bag,” I never leave home without my passport and a pair of clean panties.

What is #1 on your bucket list?

I would love to be able to take my extended family on a vacation.

Have you ever written a scene that ‘creeped’ you out?

I wrote a murder scene for an upcoming book that gave me nightmares. It takes place in a hospital garden very similar to a meditation garden I’ve been in. It’s closed in on all sides by the different hospital wings and would be the perfect place for a villain to trap his victim. Now I can’t go into that garden anymore.

What social media do you participate in? I love Pinterest and Twitter, but I’m most active on Facebook. I can be found at www.facebook.com/Melissa.Klein.Romance/

What’s next for you? I’m finishing up Out of Time, Sebastian and Grace’s story. It should come out some time in 2017.

Interview with Sam Newsome

photo-3SAM NEWSOME Sam Newsome was raised on a farm in rural King, North Carolina. During his childhood on the farm, he learned to appreciate nature and family. He developed the work ethic that continues to benefit him. He received a bachelor of arts in American history with pre­medical courses from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1971. He received his Medical degree from Bowman Gray Medical School (now Wake Forest University Medical School) in 1975. The patience and perseverance learned from his parents during his youth on the farm were valuable contributions to Dr. Newsome’s educational success. He married his childhood sweetheart, Betty Jo, in 1971 and they have resided in King since 1978. They have two children. Carlton lives in Raleigh and shares a love of words, while Justin, an engineer at B/E Aerospace, resides in Winston­Salem.

joe-peas-jpegTell us about your new release.

My new novel, JOE PEAS, explores the relationship of an itinerant Italian house painter with Dr. James King, a family physician in the small town of King’s Mill, North Carolina. Joe has led a colorful life as a rugged individual, while Doc leads a life filled with conformity.

They initially meet in a doctor-patient relationship, but then develop a bond that deepens when Joe breaks his hip and rehabs in Doc’s long-term care facility.

While he is in rehabilitation, he shares in the lives and struggles of other residents and begins to understand the meaning of friends and family. He helps with their problems and has a unique plan to help Doc.

What led you to write this book?

jackie_coverMy first novel, JACKIE, was well received. Since then I’ve been listening more closely to my patients. They have led rich lives and have wonderful stories to tell. They were inspirational in developing the characters in my new story. The new story enabled me to put some color into life in long-term care. It also allowed me to provide some health education.

Did you have an interesting experience in the research of this book?

Research was largely getting up every morning and going to work. The bulk of the story occurs in the life and practice of a family doctor. Not much research is needed there. Parts of the book: World War II, the art world, legal affairs did require some time online and some friendly advice.

How important is the setting of your story?

I’ve spent my medical career in family medicine. I treat patients in my office, hospital, as well as in long-term care. I chose to highlight long-term care in this story because it is so misunderstood by most people. In long-term care, I see folks fighting severe illnesses who have led remarkable, vibrant lives.

Noted geriatrician, Dr. Kenneth Brummel Smith speaks of the past reputations nursing homes have had (some deservedly) of being ”snake pits.” The nursing home in my story mirrors my experience of a caring compassionate atmosphere.

Which is more important, character or setting?

My story is character driven. I wrote four character studies and introduced them into the story and to each other in the setting of a nursing home. Some have their story is revealed before a nursing home admission and others are revealed by their interactions with other residents and staff.

Are any of your characters loosely based on people you know in real life?

Yes! There are several aspects of my patients seen in the characters of Joe Peas. For some of these I had to elaborate a bit. For others I had to tone down their stories since a true account would be asking my readers to suspend believability.

Do you people watch for character inspiration?

My profession as a physician is people watching. Sure, I watch people in the supermarket or at a movie. But people talk to me in the office in a one-to-one basis.

Do you have a favorite fictional character by another author you’d like to share?

My favorite characters are usually in the book I’m currently reading. Right now I’m deeply involved in Gresham’s Sycamore Row, sharing life of attorney Jake Brigance of Clanton, Mississippi as he unravels the estate of Seth Hubbard while fending off new and previous obstacles. I’m actually listening to this as an audiobook and with all the deep-south accents I can actually smell the magnolias.

I spent many years sharing the life of Roland Deshane of middle earth and multiple alternate realities created by Stephen King in the Dark Tower series. The seven-book odyssey and his multiple other books with references to middle earth caught my attention for years on end. I’ve heard King say of himself that he writes by the pound rather than the word, and while that may be true, he certainly entertains and shows a broad span of literary inspiration from Sir Walter Scott to T.S. Elliot.

I feel a traitor to small presses everywhere to admit to such “popular” tastes, but how can you argue with success?

What do you hope readers take away from your work?

First, I want the reader to be entertained. That has to beevery author’s first goal. If they can’t slog through your book, they won’t get any of your other messages. I want my writing to deliver a celebration of the values of family, friendship faith and healing. I want to present my view that individualism has value while conformity is not always positive. My characters overcome obstacles and have positive outcomes. I have woven a significant amount of health education into Joe Peas. I think it actually helps the story.

Do you have an interesting quirk about your personality that you’d like to share?

Quirks! I have no quirks. Everything I do is logical and reasoned. Now everyone around me—WOW—they have quirks, but not me. OK, maybe I have one or two small oddities. Once an idea occurs to me I become obsessed. I can’t put it away in some dustbin the back of my mind till I’ve put it on a page.

What do you do when you are not writing?

First, I’m a doctor. I’ve worked years to gain the confidence and trust of my patients, and have been lucky enough to treat the same patients for forty years. I still do my office practice, hospital and nursing home rounds daily.

Which book impacted you as a teenager?

I remember early on reading the Hardy boy books. I love Jesse Stuart’s Hie to the Hunter. Then I became engrossed in James Finemore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales. I also began to read science fiction in the form of H. G. Well, Jules Verne, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur Clark.

Do you read the genre you write?

There are so many great new books and there are so many classics I never read when I had the chance. Yes, I read books in my genre. But I try not to limit it.

What is #1 on your bucket list?

At one time it was actually writing a book. Now it’s writing a book that will make a profit.

Have you ever written a scene that “creeped you out?”

Read my first novel, Jackie. That book was published in October 2013. There is a scene (you’ll know when you read it) that is so prophetic it’s scary.

Do you have a recurring theme to your books?

I think that to be a writer, you should have a message. I would love to write a great spy story with guns and explosions and all grades of violence, but that’s not where I live. I’m not a Clancy or a Ludlum or even a Cussler. I’m a family doc who has spent years listening to my patients. I hear their complaints and share their problems. The theme of my story is not dystopic, but present a positive outlook for human nature. Most of my characters change and evolve to positive outcomes. I also hear their stories.When those stories inspire a tale that benefits the reader, I have achieved my goal.

What’s next?

I’m thinking of writing a story based on the North Carolina outer banks involving a smattering of history and a lot of modern day discoveries of hidden treasures. I plan to focus on elementary school age as my audience. There’s nothing more than a few notes yet, just thoughts. As for questions I would like to be asked—Why do you write?

I think that’s a fair question. After all, with the advent of the small and independent press industry in addition to the traditional publishing venues, the printed word is more prolific than ever. Almost every day one of my patients will ask me about my books and say, “I’ve written one too.” With so much verbiage already out there, why write? I write to record positive stories inspired by my patients and encounters with a small amount of my own point of view. Hopefully, I present an uplifting message. I write because it gives me satisfaction to fashion a story similar to the way a carpenter builds a house. In short, I write because I must.

Book Excerpt: JOE PEAS by Sam Newsome

joe-peas-jpegJohn’s days were maddeningly routine. All the day’s activities were scheduled so staff could cram in every resident’s care in the allotted time. In the hours following 6:00 a.m. breakfast was served to the patients able to eat, then vital signs were taken, and baths were given. The TV was always turned to the same station, and invariably blasted the same stale routine of situation comedy reruns and the same diet of News Six talking heads delivering a rehash of yesterday’s news.

With the exception of weather reports, John had never been interested in TV before his illness. Now the antics of Andy Taylor, the Mayberry Sheriff, and Barney Fife, his deputy, were his daily fare. But pictures and sound couldn’t compare to the fresh air and sunshine he had lived in all his life. In John’s room at night, the hours dragged by like eternity. Even though John was awake, he had almost no ability to express himself to the outside world, but he could still think. And he thought a lot. In the stillness of the night, the pump of his feeding device hummed, and the clock on the wall measured the seconds with an audible “tick, tick, tick.”

The nightly routine of the Center was hushed and subdued. The staff was reduced to a fraction of the day shift. During these hours, the staff moved quietly about and spoke with hushed voices. Occasionally the quiet was broken by a laugh or some problem with another patient. John wished he knew what they had to laugh about. The hall lights were dimmed, and John’s room was only illuminated by a small night-light. The atmosphere gave John time to think as he never had thought before.

He thought about all the things he had loved in his life and now missed. He thought about his tractor. He had bought the old John Deere used and tended it with more care than he had ever given to his children. When he concentrated really hard, he could hear that first cylinder explode with compression as he turned the ignition. The pow-clunk-clunk would repeat itself as he prayed for the tractor to start one more time. Then he would hear the second cylinder fire with pow-pow-clunk as the third cylinder decided whether or not to join the party. Finally, the third cylinder would join the rhythm, and he would once again hear the familiar John Deere three-cylinder serenade that he so loved. He could hear that characteristic pow-pow-pow that he had taken for granted for so long but now cherished. In his mind, he would start his John Deere and hear its soothing cacophony of sound any time the room was quiet enough to think, which was most of the time.

Once John could hear the tractor running, he empowered his other senses. He could turn off the offensive smells around him and bring back those farm odors he remembered so fondly. The repulsive smell of antiseptics and excrement and even his own fear-triggered sweat could be abolished. He could replace the unpleasantness with musty barn odors, which were just as organic, but welcoming. His favorite aroma was that of a newly turned field. God, how he loved the feel of the powerful tractor as it pulled the plow, creating long straight furrows that released the essence of the new earth into his nostrils. Nature’s mixture of farm odors was the most potent perfume he could imagine. He could even feel the moist soil squishing between his bare toes.with musty barn odors, which were just as organic, but welcoming. His favorite aroma was that of a newly turned field. God, how he loved the feel of the powerful tractor as it pulled the plow, creating long straight furrows that released the essence of the new earth into his nostrils. Nature’s mixture of farm odors was the most potent perfume he could imagine. He could even feel the moist soil squishing between his bare toes.

He thought about his family. He didn’t blame his children for leaving, but his main regret was that they had not shared his love of the land. Did he love his family? Probably not. At least not the way the nursing staff seemed to love their families. Alma had stood by him even though he had treated her like slave labor. He couldn’t blame her for her new behaviors. She had done his bidding without complaint for many years and had suffered the hard life of a farmer’s wife through the many bad times and too few good ones. No, he really had never loved her as he loved the land and his farm. He didn’t have that in him, and now it was too late. Soon he would be a part of the land. He would return to the earth as all men inevitably return to the soil. He was ready, and as far as he was concerned, the sooner the better.

Review: THINGS I CAN’T EXPLAIN by Mitchell Kriegman

unknownTHINGS I CAN’T EXPLAIN by Mitchell Kriegman Thomas Dunne Books, November 2015 ~ 5 Stars

Blurb: A complete re-imagining of the 1990s television hit Clarissa Explains it All as 20-something Clarissa tries to navigate the unemployment line, mompreneurs and the collision of two people in love.

She was a smart, snappy, light-hearted girl who knew it all at fourteen and let television audiences everywhere know it. Now a woman in her late twenties, her searching blue eyes are more serious, but mostly amused by the people around her. The gap-toothed smile that made her seem younger than she really was is gone, but she still lightens up the room. Her unpredictable wardrobe rocks just like when she was a kid, but her fashion sense has evolved and it makes men and women turn their heads.

After leaving high school early, Clarissa interned at the Daily Post while attending night school. At the ripe old age of twenty- two she had it made – her own journalism beat (fashion, gender politics and crime), an affordable apartment in FiDi and a livable wage. She was so totally ahead of the game. Ah, those were the days! All three of them. Remember the Stock Market Crash of 08? Remember when people actually bought newspapers? All of Clarissa’s charming obsessions, charts, graphs, and superstitions have survived into adulthood, but they’ve evolved into an ever-greater need to claw the world back under control. Her mid-twenties crisis has left her with a whole set of things she can’t explain: an ex-boyfriend turned stalker, her parents’ divorce, a micro relationship with the cute coffee guy, java addiction, “To-Flue Glue,” and then there’s Sam. Where’s Sam anyway?

Things I Can’t Explain is about knowing it all in your teens and then feeling like you know nothing in your twenties. It is an entertaining and must-read sequel to all fans of Mitchell Kriegman’s Nickelodeon TV show, Clarissa Explains It All.

Review: Clarissa Darling, a character made famous in the television sitcom, Clarissa Explains It All, returns in this New Adult novel trying to deal with life as a ‘wanta-be’ grownup. It really isn’t working for her since her parents separated, her brilliant, younger brother disgraced himself ending up in prison after ripping off the Russian mob, her newspaper job died with the economy and her ex-boyfriend has become her stalker while her childhood BFF, Sam has vanished – perhaps to the wilds of the world’s oceans – it’s never quite clear. Clarissa definitely has issues. That’s even more obvious when her parents, yes together, arrive for a surprise visit. One would think it might last longer than a few hours since they’ve traveled from home to New York City, but it’s not. They want to meet her boyfriend, yes the stalker and that’s Cso not happening. Clarissa hastily introduces them to her favorite barista, a hot guy named Nick who happens to be filling in for the coffee stand’s owner, a friend on deployment in Afghanistan.

This makes Nick even more engaging as an appropriate love interest, especially when he jumps in and plays the part of Clarissa’s new “boy-toy” which includes going to dinner with her parents. Problems arise because he actually has a “real” girlfriend, a rough, tough “rocker girl” that Clarissa just knows is all wrong for him, but he apparently doesn’t understand that. Her friends encourage her to follow up with him and see if that relationship will last. She does. This doesn’t seem a very intelligent choice. How does she know the rocker won’t assault her?

As a character, Clarissa comes across as sweet, naïve and charming with zip in the way of self-preservation. It’s beyond time for her to grow up. At her age she should start judging situations for herself, make decisions and follow through. She’s able to do this with her ex, so why not with Nick? She also needs to stand up to her folks, not find herself locked into attending the wedding of her worst enemy from high school.

Of course, this does allow her to reconnect with Nick, her supposed boyfriend who agrees to attend that wedding with her. This creates even more problems and a reasonable person would cut the ties to Nick, but not Clarissa. Yes, he’s a decent person, but he’s also a wuss and it makes the reader wonder what Clarissa sees in such a spineless wonder. Yes, he’s hot – but, but, but, when will she be adult enough to stop judging by appearances?

A hero, whether male or female, ought to have some basic courage, integrity and honor either at the beginning of the story, but definitely by the end of the quest. Clarissa keeps making the same mistakes again and again until the reader wonders what it will take for her to learn the definition of insanity, i.e. making the same choices repeatedly and expecting different results. She’s the proverbial train-wreck of a character and it’s a sign of Mitchell Kriegman’s fabulous writing that the reader can’t look away or put down the book even when there are times that Clarissa could only benefit from a “Gibbs” slap to the back of the head to get her brain functioning.

How can she explain anything to anyone when she doesn’t understand it herself? Or is that meant to be the humor in these continuous, tumultuous times? In addition to being unable to judge people and situations to her own detriment, Clarissa seems determined to “hook up” with guys who are emotionally unavailable. Again, it’s beyond time for her to take steps and grow up, not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally.

She is such a well-drawn character that most readers will want to help her deal with life and adversity, to yell at her – “Come on, it doesn’t have to be that impossible. Cope, girl, cope!” With great characters, terrific dialogue and an extremely effective stream of consciousness, this story will engage and entertain readers. Despite her issues, we will want even more time with Clarissa whether she can explain it all – or not!

Review provided by Shannon Kennedy for her column Shannon’s Space in the Sept/Oct edition of The Book Breeze.

Review: FROM A HIGH TOWER by Mercedes Lackey

51j3i4j7jal-_sx328_bo1204203200_FROM A HIGH TOWER by Mercedes Lackey DAW, June 2016 ~ 4 Stars

Blurb: From a High Tower is the newest adventure in Mercedes Lackey’s Elemental Masters series, featuring a retelling of Rapunzel’s not-so-happily-ever-after ending.

Review: Book 11 in the Elemental Masters series showcases the “Rapunzel” fairytale detailing the adventures of Giselle, a born Air Master who is adopted as an infant by an Earth Master that some people label a witch. At 14, Giselle lives in a high tower, once part of an old abbey or convent. While she doesn’t have human companionship at times, she does have the sylphs – tiny winged women who offer conversation and friendship. This means Giselle doesn’t feel too lonely when her mother leaves to buy winter supplies in a distant town. It seems unlikely that before leaving, she didn’t warn Giselle there are more dangers than tramps and gypsies in the surrounding Black Forest and this becomes the first “bump” in the story.

The arrival of a charming young man, Johann Schmidt fascinates Giselle and she begins to realize how much she misses knowing her peers and having admirers. When he wants to visit her in the tower, the “Rapunzel” effect takes place although she doesn’t use her hair as a rope, but one that Johann provides. Again, she doesn’t question why he would bring a rope with him – it seems a contrivance – but he has an ulterior motive, one she is too innocent and naïve to suspect. Once he arrives in her room, he attempts to assault her and she comes into her own, calling up a powerful storm to defend herself until her mother arrives in time to help save her. This event launches Giselle’s training as an Air Master. At the age of 20, after the deathof her mother, Giselle is ready to support herself by winning shooting contests. Yes, she can control where the bullets go since she rules the Air and its elements.

It seems as if she can and does cope with any problems that arise during her adventures. Yet, another of the flaws in the story is the fact that she has a hidden enemy who is out of sight during the majority of the book. Instead of paying attention to this and the occasional feeling that someone stalks her, Giselle works at a traveling Wild West Show from America now touring Germany, honing her craft as a sharpshooter and an Air Master.

One of the elements from the “Rapunzel” fairytale is the fact that Giselle’s hair grows so quickly and she frequently cuts it, storing away the extra lengths. She isn’t sure if she actually believes what her mother said, that the rapid growth is a side-effect of her magick. It’s difficult to accept this since none of the Air Masters in the previous books in the series had similar characteristics and Giselle continues to deal with her “hair” issue as an adult.

The well-developed, ensemble cast includes Rosamund, an Earth Master from the previous book, Blood Red, a retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood.” At the end of that story, we left her going to work as a “Hunt Master” who patrols the nasty sections of the Black Forest and takes care of any threats such as evil vampires, witches, bad werewolves, trolls and shapeshifters. Rosamund is perfectly capable of dealing with a crew of actors who are magical amateurs putting on a Wild West Show and she opts to go along to get along, hopefully protecting them from things that go bump in the proverbial night.

Each character has a story and Ms. Lackey provides good descriptions to make them come alive for the reader. Despite the great setting, and excellent dialogue, there are still plot-holes and missing details that may baffle readers. One would think that Giselle’s mother would have taught her adopted daughter not to judge by appearances. These early mistakes from childhood create ongoing problems throughout the book and all of these loose ends aren’t resolved, leaving readers who follow the series to wonder what will happen next.

An extremely skilled writer, Ms. Lackey ensures that the story flows and the pace never dulls. Perhaps, she will answer the questions raised in this book in the next Elemental Masters novel, or pardon the pun, they may be left up in the air. Readers can only wait and see. Of course, we’ll also have to wait to see which classic fairytale will be co-opted and retold in Ms. Lackey’s distinctive style.