Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Book Review: Forestry Flavours of the Month by Alastair Fraser







Publication Date: May 20, 2016
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Formats: Ebook
Pages: 228
Genre: Biography
Tour Dates: September 4 - 15

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Forestry touches on all aspects of human welfare in one way or another, which is why foresters need to play an active role in determining our collective agenda. Alastair Fraser, a lifelong forester and the co-founder of LTS International, a forestry consulting company, explains how forestry changes with political cycles and how foresters can promote healthy forests at all times.

He explores critical issues such as:
• forests and their connection to coal;
• forest's role in combatting floods and climate change;
• illegal logging in Indonesia, Laos, and elsewhere;
• tactics to promote sustainable forestry management;
• plantations as a solution to tropical deforestation.

From pulping in Sweden and Brazil, paper mills in Greece and India, agroforestry in the Philippines, "pink" disease in India and oil bearing trees of Vietnam, no topic is off limits. Based on the author's life as a forester in dozens of countries, this account shows the breadth of forestry and makes a convincing case that forestry management needs to focus on managing change and achieving sustainability. Whether you're preparing to become a forester, already in the field, or involved with conservation, the environment or government, you'll be driven to action with Forestry Flavours of the Month.


MY REVIEW:

Are you at all concerned about our natural resources and how they are diminishing? If so, this is an important book to read. Mr. Fraser addresses not only the issues we face in different regions of the world but what can be done to help save those resources and our planet as a whole.

I loved how he discussed the different problems that forestry management deals with - I really had no idea the depth that their experience and job reached. This is a very well written and informative book that I think everyone could benefit by reading. 

Alastair Fraser is a founder member of the archaeology group No Man s Land. He has worked as researcher and participant in a number of Great War documentaries. Steve Roberts is a retired police officer and an ex-regular soldier. He specialises in researching individuals who served during the war and is also a founder member of No Man s Land. Andrew Robertshaw frequently appears on television as a commentator on battlefield archaeology and the soldier in history, and he has coordinated the work of No Man s Land. His publications include Somme 1 July 1916: Tragedy and Triumph, Digging the Trenches (with David Kenyon) and The Platoon.


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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Book Blast: Ben Abdul-Malik Akran by Sotonye Sagbe Boyle





Title: Ben Abdul-Malik Akran
Author: Sotonye Sagbe Boyle
Publisher: AuthorHouse UK
Genre: Fiction
Format: Ebook
When Akran suddenly surfaces out of the blue to cart Ben away to London, like a puppy in a chain, he knows things will never be the same for him again. ‘I don’t like white people,’ Ben tells his father, whom he sees as an ingredient in their evil manipulation. His classroom teacher teaches him, ‘white people perpetrate all the crimes in the world,’ a philosophy which implants in him, and earns him many adversaries–an orgy of killings. Ben joins the deadly Al Qaeda Network to seek for justice when his rivals kill his friends–Amafor, Dandy and beautiful Omar. For him, ‘justice delayed, is justice denied.’ But for his association with the Al Qaeda Network, death means nothing to him anymore...


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BEN IS GIVING AWAY A $25 GIFT CARD!

  
Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins October 22 and ends on November 2.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on November 3.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone! 

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Monday, October 29, 2018

Blog Tour / Interview / Daniel Kenner, Co-Author of 'Room for Grace' @alwysroom4grace


Daniel Kenner rocked out to Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” while other infants sang “Mary Had A Little Lamb.” A proud member of Actor’s Equity, SAG-AFTRA, and National Players Tour 60, Daniel was a Presidential Arts Scholar at George Washington University and Scholarship recipient at The British American Drama Academy. Directed the Washington D.C. premier of Sarah Kane’s Crave. Author of the manuscript, Roux. Winner of the Rhode Island Playwriting Festival for his World War II letters home drama, Fields of Sacrifice. Adapted Les Misérables for high school stages.
Maureen Kenner’s heart was in the classroom. For thirty-five years she was a Special Education teacher in the Providence Public Schools. Born and raised in Dobbs Ferry, New York, Maureen graduated from Rhode Island College with a degree in education and later earned a Master’s Degree from Providence College. Maureen was a vital influence at the Vartan Gregorian Elementary School at Fox Point, working tirelessly as a mentor for the betterment of all children and their families. Honored with many accolades throughout her career, Maureen was awarded Providence Teacher of the Year in 2003. Living with cancer, as a model patient, Maureen exemplified integrity, courage, grace, and hope. For thirty-one years, through sickness and health, Maureen was the beloved soul mate to the late Jacob “Buddy” Kenner, her intense love recognized in 2016 as a Rhode Island Caregiver of the Year.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

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About the Book:

Title: ROOM FOR GRACE
Author: Daniel Kenner & Maureen Kenner
Publisher: Silver Boot Imprints
Pages: 200
Genre: Memoir & Biography

BOOK BLURB:

Stage 4 cancer for her and a debilitating disease for her husband: life crashed down in an instant. Maureen Kenner found resilience, however, in the lessons she learned from her Special Ed students in Providence, RI. Her students lived with their hearts opened despite struggles of the highest magnitude. Through these students, Maureen gains courage, humor, and the strength of spirit to face her devastating realities, head on. Maureen’s oral history was captured by her son Daniel who tenderly wrought this book out of their recorded conversations. Through anecdotes and hard-earned lessons, Maureen tackles challenge after challenge and reframes daily struggles with a positive outlook allowing her to transcend and conquer mortal fears with dignity and room for grace.

PRAISE:

"Maureen Kenner was one of those people who brightened every room she entered. Thanks to Room for Grace, that light is not extinguished. Although her story shares great sadness, Room for Grace is a book of hope and a celebration of life that sheds Maureen’s light on us all."

—Ann Hood, Author of The Obituary Writer and The Red Thread

“In these pages, you will find a story like no other. Maureen’s story is one of courage and love, a story that will move you to your core.”

—David Flink, Chief Empowerment Officer, Eye to Eye

“The piercing light of Maureen’s compassion, love and intelligence, will leave every reader wanting to reach out in the spirit of service and live life to the fullest.”

—Annie Lanzillotto, Author of Hard Candy: Caregiving, Mourning, and Stagelight

“Buddy Kenner was a big-hearted teacher, universally beloved by all, a warrior for the arts and their importance in the curriculum. Amazing and unique guy. Read this book.”

Tom Chandler, Rhode Island Poet Laureate Emeritus


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Thank you for this interview!  I’d like to know more about you as a person first.  What do you do when you’re not writing?

I see a lot of theater. I sit in the sun and squint. I eat cheese. And ice cream. I get depressed sometimes. Or lethargic. I take walks and listen to people and write down fascinating quotes or interact with strangers in parks and subways and busy New York Streets. Sometimes just to get a reaction. I like to take the Staten Island ferry. I play board games. I make fun of my friends. I edit and edit and edit all my sentences and overthink most things. I love to watch movies. Why aren’t there more heist films? I love buying vinyls and thumbing through the racks of old soul and funk records. Sometimes I combine these things and take the ferry when it’s sunny outside and I’m really sweating, eat an ice cream cone after I’ve just seen a movie and eaten spicy noodles and shopped for a record and just read a play while the ferry charges towards the Statue of Liberty.

When did you start writing?

My uncle recently reminded me that I wrote three “books” by the time I was I think eleven. My first book was a memoir. Which is hilarious. The second was about a girl who gets bullied in middle school because she’s adopted and the third, The 3 A.M Huddle, was about a boy who plays with his baseball cards after he’s supposed to be sleeping. My dad was convinced Bob Dylan was part of our family so I grew up listening to a lot of Bob while other kids were singing lullabies. But I started to seriously write in high school. My grandmother had Alzheimer’s and writing became an outlet. I wrote my second play, Fields Of Sacrifice, based on an Andrew Carroll book. Unfortunately, when I was on the cusp of further independence, taking my driver’s license permit test, I found out one of my best friends, Nick, was unaccounted for after the fire erupted at the Great White concert at The Station nightclub. Foam sound insulation caught fire after pyrotechnics were set off. I remember watching the news footage, almost paralyzed with fear, which showed that any escape was nearly impossible, and there near the front of the stage, was a boy who looked like Nick. Nick was the youngest of one hundred people who lost their lives in Warwick that night. My friends and I lost a gentle friend in the most horrifying way. For his funeral, his mother and father gave Nick a “Graduation” with the motto, “Do Not Fear To Hope,” a line Nick had written in They Walk Among Us, his play about three guardian angels passing on messages of love and hope. My mom liked to say every time she came into my room after that, I was writing volumes and volumes of stream of consciousness poems and songs. I guess I’ve always channeled my pain and put it on paper. I remember thinking all of a sudden I had to grow up with the absence of one of our best friends. So, I’d sit there after school, just writing and writing and writing. And then I’d come down for dinner when Dad’s meatballs and spaghetti was ready

As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?

Anytime I experience heartbreak I think I retreat to writing. Or when I was younger and I thought I was special, I wrote a lot. Now, it’s more of a preservation, I think. But the pivotal moment. Going away to college and finding my independence and some semblance of who I was supposed to be was pretty pivotal. Finding my voice and a new group of friends and my meaning in a theater department was monumental. But heartbreak. Yeah. I’ve had two serious breakups. And I’ve had two parents with life altering diseases. Sometimes I write to remember. Sometimes I just can’t quit writing. It’s in flashes and bursts.

Why was writing Room For Grace so important to you?

After dad was diagnosed with dementia and Mom with Stage 4 cancer, I didn’t know how I was going to help or how I was going to keep showing up. I was terrified. I needed this project to keep me close to them. Once I had the idea, I became fixated and never wavered. It was what I had to do. Not only for me. But it became a gift to my mom.

In writing Room For Grace, did you travel anywhere for research?

Room For Grace originated from an oral history I conducted with my mom in Bar Harbor. And the idea arose down in Sarasota, Florida maybe six months earlier. My dad’s communication and storytelling was blocked and being diminished by his dementia. And I wanted to capture the stories of my mom and dad’s lives so for their thirtieth wedding anniversary we went to Bar Harbor, Maine. I had this beautiful notebook that I filled with ideas and questions and conversation starters. And my mom was a talker so, that week went by pretty quickly. We recorded thirty hours. And then six months after they passed I left Brooklyn for two weeks and went out to New Mexico to work on much of the dialogue. It was a gut feeling. I had to go west, along the turquoise trail. Something about the dry heat and long roads and Mars-like feelings. I’m terrified of heights so the first thing I did when I got there was take a hot air balloon trip at sunrise something like 7500 ft above sea level. I needed to work through some fears. Then I went to the hotel, sat down and the voices came back and gave me the oomph to keep writing. To finish Room For Grace. To turn it into a complete project.

Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is?

I get my best ideas from deep, meaningful connections. I give all of myself, the good and the bad, and I think it encourages others to interact with me the same way. There are so many powerful stories and I love listening and asking questions. I love investigating the driving force behind people and being present. Like really present. And sometimes you stumble onto something beautiful, sometimes it’s an answer, sometimes it’s an exasperation. But to answer the question, I get ideas outside, definitely. Walking. With no headphones in. Or the moments of hopefully stunning silence as I walk away from the theater.

If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do?

Oh, nice. I’d definitely rent a moped and ride down by the water, maybe sing “Blessings Reprise” over and over again by Chance The Rapper and eat some spicy cumin hand pulled noodles. Park by a used book shop and go into the crevices of their play section or walk into a record shop, see if they have any early 90’s hip hop bootlegs, then take a drive along the Hudson with my lovebug.



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Thursday, October 25, 2018

Book Blast: Sara Hatun by Ayah Hamad






Title: Sara Hatun
Author: Ayah Hamad
Publisher: AuthorHouse UK
Genre: Young Adult
Format: Ebook


Sara Hatun comes from the Kayi Tribe and is the daughter of its Master Suleyman Shah. But what will save her from being caught by the temple guards, from being locked up in Aleppo’s king’s palace, or from losing one of the closest people to her heart? There is only one solution!


PURCHASE HERE


Ayah Hamad is a 13 year old (May 29, 2004) girl born in Sharjah, UAE. She spent her childhood in America before moving back to the UAE in 2013. Ayah enjoys Horse riding, editing videos, reading and writing. Sara Hatun is her first story and she is looking towards being an active writer in the future.




GIVEAWAY

AYAH IS GIVING AWAY A $25 GIFT CARD!

  
Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins October 22 and ends on November 2.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on November 3.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone! 

ENTER TO WIN!

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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

BLOG TOUR & BOOK EXCERPT: Winter at the Beach by Sheila Roberts @_sheila_roberts #blog tour #bookexcerpt



WINTER AT THE BEACH by Sheila Roberts, Women's Fiction, 384pp., $5.98 (paperback) $6.99 (kindle)


Title: WINTER AT THE BEACH
Author: Sheila Roberts
Publisher: Harlequin/Mira
Pages: 384
Genre: Women’s Fiction

Jenna Jones, manager of the Driftwood Inn, a vintage motel in the Washington beach town of Moonlight Harbor, is convinced that a winter festival would be a great way to draw visitors (and tourist business) to town during those off-season months. Everyone in the local chamber of commerce is on board with her Seaside with Santa festival idea except one naysayer, local sour lemon, Susan Frank, who owns a women’s clothing boutique in town. The beach gets hit with storms in the winter, no one will come, too close to Christmas. Blah, blah. What does Susan know?
It turns out that Susan knows a lot. A big storm hits during the weekend of the festival, wreaking havoc with the parade and producing power outages all over town. Including at the Driftwood Inn.
Jenna finds herself with a motel filled with people, all with no power. What to do? Enlist the help of friends, of course. Her friends take in many of the stranded visitors, and Jenna and her Aunt Edie take in the others, stuffing them into Aunt Edie’s house next door to the Driftwood.

All the guests come with their own unique stories. The last thing Taylor Marsh wanted was a getaway with her husband. His refusal to give up on his dying business is taking them down financially and killing their marriage. But her sister Sarah (she who has her financial act together and never lets her sister forget it) insists this will be fun for both their families. It will only be fun for Taylor if her husband gets eaten by a giant squid. Then there’s Darrel Wilson, who planned the perfect anniversary getaway for his wife, who’s been undergoing chemo. So much for the perfect anniversary. And the sisters, Lisa and Karen, who can’t seem to go on a sister outing without it turning into a Lucy and Ethel adventure. Unlikely roommates, all of them. But perhaps each one has a valuable lesson to share with the others. And perhaps, what looked like a disaster will prove to be the best holiday adventure of all.

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Amazon


Jenna Jones, who manages a vintage motel, the Driftwood Inn, is sure her idea for a holiday festival will bring business to her Washington coast beach town of Moonlight Harbor. Let’s see how her proposal goes over with the Moonlight Harbor Chamber of Commerce…
 “Okay, that takes care of old business,” Brody said. “Now, I think Jenna has some new business.”
Oh, boy. She could hardly wait to see what Susan would have to say about this.
She cleared her throat. “Actually, I have a suggestion for a way to bring down more visitors during our slow time.”
“We’re all for that,” said Patricia Whiteside.
Susan clamped her thin lips together and gave Jenna a look that dared her, the newbie, to come up with something.
Jenna’s nervous twitch put in an appearance. Don’t blink. She blinked one last time and cleared her throat again. “Well, I was just thinking about other towns I’ve visited in the past and one that came to mind was Icicle Falls.”
Susan rolled her eyes. “The cheesy German town.”
“A lot of people find it charming,” Jenna said. “It’s awfully pretty, and they’ve done a great job of making themselves as authentic as possible. They always have something going to get people up there. In fact, I did some research online. They have festivals all year long, including a chocolate festival. Their tree-lighting ceremonies on the weekends in December bring in thou- sands of people.”
“So, are you proposing we have a tree-lighting ceremony?” Susan mocked.
“No, but I am proposing we have a holiday festival.”
“We just had a festival in August in case you forgot,” Susan said snidely.
What was with this woman anyway? The town had done a good deed by putting on a festival to help Jenna raise money to restore the Driftwood after she experienced a financial setback. It had been such a success that the chamber had decided to make the Blue Moon Festival a tradition, with proceeds going to help other businesses in town in need of assistance. Jenna had benefited and other local businesses would as well, and Susan resented it? She was a crab in the pot. If she couldn’t succeed, she didn’t want anyone else to, either. And everyone knew her shop wasn’t doing that well, especially now that Courtney was selling her own designs over at the Oyster Inn.
Well, pooh on her. Jenna handed papers to both Tyrella and Brody to start passing around the table.
 “People love festivals. Remember how many came down for the Blue Moon one?”
“That was in the summer,” Susan reminded her.
“I know. But people also love holiday festivals. We’re looking for ways to get visitors down here in the winter. Why not put together a giant holiday party in Moonlight Harbor?”
Patricia Whiteside was reading Jenna’s handout. “Seaside with Santa, that’s cute. And I like all the suggestions you’ve made for activities. I really like the idea of making use of the pier.”
“The weekend before Christmas?” Susan objected, frowning at her handout. “Who’s going to want to come to something then? People will be getting ready to go see family, and they’ll be finishing up their shopping.”
“Why shouldn’t they finish it here?” Jenna argued. “We have all kinds of cute shops. We have great places for them to stay while they shop and plenty of restau- rants where they can eat. They may even want to stay here for the holidays. All we need is an event to lure them down. A festival could do it. And who doesn’t like a parade? Look how many people turn out for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.”
“Look at the floats they have in that parade,” Susan countered. “What sort of floats would we be able to put together down here?”
“Okay, maybe not the most impressive parade ever,” Jenna admitted, “but I bet we could come up with some- thing.”
“I could get some of my employees to dress up as mermaids,” said Kiki, “and stick ’em on a flatbed truck strung with fake seaweed.” She grinned, clearly taken with her idea.
“We need more for our Moonlight Harbor Queen and her princesses to do,” put in Nora. “They love riding in those old convertibles. You’ll let us use your vintage Caddy, right, Ellis?”
“Well...” Ellis hesitated. “If it rains...”
“Which it probably will,” said Susan. “Come on, people, be practical. You know what it’s like down here in the winter, all wind and rain.”
Patricia pooh-poohed that objection. “We’ve survived plenty of storms.”
“Well, I think it’s a bad idea,” Susan said, scowling across the table at Jenna.
Maybe it was. Jenna’s left eye began to twitch.
“I think it sounds great,” said Elizabeth MacDowell. She and her twin sister, K.J., were new members of the chamber. They’d opened their arts and crafts store, Crafty Just Cuz, in September, and it was already one of Jenna’s favorite places to hang out.
“We do need more business in the winter,” said Cindy Redmond. “There’s no getting around it. And doing something for the holidays could be fun. I say we give it a try,” she added, and Jenna’s eye stopped twitching.
“We’d have to get moving right away,” Nora said, pulling another sheet of paper from her yellow tablet. “Who can help?”
“I can,” said Ellis.
“Me, too,” Brody said, smiling at Jenna. “Jenna, it’s your idea. You’ll have to chair the committee.”
“Me?” she squeaked. Not that she couldn’t take charge. She was a firstborn, and Responsibility was her middle name. (Although her sister, Celeste, would probably argue that her middle name was Bossy.) She didn’t have a problem with rolling up her sleeves and getting to work, but she also didn’t want to offend old- timers like Susan Frank. “I’m sure someone else...” she began.
“Your idea, you have to do it,” Susan goaded.
Jenna raised her chin. “I can do it.” She’d survived rehabbing the Driftwood Inn. How much harder could it be to organize a festival?
In three months. Blink. Blink, blink, blink.
“Do I have a motion that we sponsor a Seaside with Santa Festival for the weekend before Christmas?” Brody asked.
“So moved,” said Ellis. “I’m with you, kid,” he told Jenna.
“I’ll second,” Nora said and reached across the back of Tyrella’s chair to give Jenna’s shoulder an encouraging pat.
“All in favor?” Brody asked.
“Aye,” chorused almost everyone.
“Opposed?”
“Nay,” Susan Frank said. “I’m telling you all, this is a bad idea. Make sure you put that in the minutes,” she told Cindy.
“Motion carries,” said Brody. He smiled down at Jenna. “Looks like we’re going to be putting on a holiday bash.”
“Holiday disaster,” Susan grumbled from her side of the table.
What did Susan know? Blink, blink, blink.














USA Today best-selling author Sheila Roberts has seen over fifty books, both fiction and non-fiction in print. Her novels have appeared in many different languages and been made into movies for both the Lifetime and Hallmark Channels. She writes about things near and dear to women’s hearts – love, friendship, family and chocolate.

Her latest book is the women’s fiction, Winter at the Beach.

Website Link: http://www.sheilasplace.com
Twitter Link: https://twitter.com/_Sheila_Roberts?lang=en
Facebook Link: https://www.facebook.com/funwithsheila/
http://www.pumpupyourbook.com



 


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Monday, October 22, 2018

Blog Tour / Interview: Laura Vosika, Author of The Water Is Wide



Laura Vosika is a writer, poet, and musician. Her time travel series, The Blue Bells Chronicles, set in modern and medieval Scotland, has garnered praise and comparisons to writers as diverse as Diana Gabaldon and Dostoevsky. Her poetry has been published in The Moccasin and The Martin Lake Journal 2017.

She has been featured in newspapers, on radio, and TV, has spoken for regional book events, and hosted the radio program Books and Brews. She currently teaches writing at Minneapolis Community and Technical College.
As a musician, Laura has performed as on trombone, flute, and harp, in orchestras, and big bands. She lives in Brooklyn park with 5 of her 9 children, 3 cats, and an Irish Wolfhound.
Her latest book is the time travel/historical fiction, The Water is Wide.

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Title: THE WATER IS WIDE
Author: Laura Vosika
Publisher: Gabriel’s Horn Press
Pages: 451
Genre: Time Travel/Historical Fiction

BOOK BLURB:
After his failure to escape back to his own time, Shawn is sent with Niall on the Bruce’s business. They criss-cross Scotland and northern England, working for the Bruce and James Douglas, as they seek ways to get Shawn home to Amy and his own time.
Returning from the Bruce’s business, to Glenmirril, Shawn finally meets the mysterious Christina. Despite his vow to finally be faithful to Amy, his feelings for Christina grow.
In modern Scotland, having already told Angus she’s pregnant, Amy must now tell him Shawn is alive and well—in medieval Scotland. Together, they seek a way to bring him back across time.
They are pursued by Simon Beaumont, esteemed knight in the service of King Edward, has also passed between times. Having learned that Amy’s son will kill him—he seeks to kill the infant James first.
The book concludes with MacDougall’s attack on Glenmirril, Amy and Angus’s race to be there and Shawn’s attempt to reach the mysterious tower through the battling armies.
Watch the Trailer:

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Thank you for this interview! I’d like to know more about you as a person first. What do you do when you’re not writing? 
Many things! My ‘day job’ is teaching private music lessons on piano, harp, and a variety of wind and string instruments. On Sundays, you’ll often find me playing saxophone or alto flute or reading poetry at an open mic in the Twin Cities. This past year, I’ve gotten back to some composition, focusing mostly these days on writing new music in the style of Irish jigs and reels.
In addition to my own writing, my publishing company, Gabriel’s Horn, is now accepting submissions for an anthology of classical formal poetry.
Outside of music and writing, I enjoy getting out for long walks with my dog, an Irish Wolfhound much like the Laird’s great hunting hounds in my novels, and spending time with my kids. I have nine, from ages 29 down to 13. Five of them currently live at home and the rest are around the country at colleges or out on their own. I also have a wonderful daughter-in-law and grandson, who is a delight!

When did you start writing? 
I’ve been writing since I was eight. I started a novel when I was ten, but quickly realized O. Henry had already written the same story in The Ransom of Red Chief!

As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life? 
Definitely joining my critique group, Night Writers, in September 2006! This is an amazing group of very talented writers, the original four of whom have been together more than thirty years now. They have had a great impact on my writing and on my life, as fellow authors and as friends.


If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why? 
I would go to the hostel on the northern end of the Isle of Iona with my laptop and no internet. Iona is often referred to as ‘a thin place.’ Although many tourists go there every day, the northern end is relatively isolated and quiet, yet the history of the abbey and church are all quite close and it’s a ten minute ferry ride to the isle of Mull if I wanted to take a break and see a bit more of Scotland.

It has been my dream to go back to Iona and spend two weeks in that hostel writing.

If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do? 
It depends on the particular day and what I didn’t get done. Today, I didn’t get my marketing work done. Lately, I haven’t composed any music or gotten out for walks with my dog, so I might give two and a half hours to putting together the music book I’ve been working on and an hour and a half to walking the trails in my neighborhood.

Where would you like to set a story that you haven’t done yet? 
It would be nice to set a story in a place I know well, such as the North Shore of Minnesota. I also think the beautiful old mansions of Duluth would make wonderful settings for books.

Back to your present book, The Water is Wide, how did you publish it? 
In 2007, Night Writers was joined by Jack Stanton, who really talked up the changing world of publishing, in which it can take years to find a publisher and authors are often being asked to do more and more of their own marketing, without increasing their royalties. Eventually, Jack and I created Gabriel’s Horn Press, under which our own books and some thirty or more others are published.

In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research? 
The internet is an amazing tool for research, but there’s still nothing like actually being in a place.
I’ve been to Scotland five times over the course of writing the entire Blue Bells Chronicles. As much as possible, I have visited the actual locations in the story—Urquhart Castle on the shore of Loch Ness, which is the model for Glenmirril; Inverness, including the backstage area of Eden Court Theater where the orchestra plays, the bridges Amy and Angus cross, and churches where Simon and Eamonn might meet; Mull which Amy and Angus drive across, the ferries the ride on, and Iona, which is known to and visited by several people through the whole story. 
I’ve hiked the hills as both Shawn and Amy do, been down to Carlisle and driven up in the Schiehallion Hills and visited Chesters Roman Fort—all of them place Shawn and Niall travel, albeit in the fourteenth century, not ours.

Why was writing The Water is Wide so important to you? 
It’s the third of a five book story, so that made it necessary, in order to continue the tale. So maybe the real question is why The Blue Bells Chronicles as a whole was important enough to spend twelve years writing. 
I’m not sure I have a good answer other than, the story was in my head. The people of the Blue Bells world were in my head. They seemed to need to live in print and need to tell their story. To not tell the story would have felt like keeping all of these people trapped, somehow.
I suspect many writers feel this way.

Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is? 
I’m not sure there’s any one place. Given I’ve spent the last twelve years on a single story, many events in those books are drawn from actual historical events—the Battle of Bannockburn, the laundress who gave birth as an enemy army surrounded Bruce’s men—from historical finds, such as the discovery of a conduit exiting Carlisle’s walls from under a monastery, from visiting Scotland myself. Shawn and Niall discover this conduit in The Water is Wide and it was a fun scene to write!
Outside of writing this book, news stories, song lyrics, people I meet, things that are said in passing, events of the day—all of it is full of ideas for stories.
Any final words?
If you love time travel, if you love Scotland, stop by my sites. At my Blue Bells Trilogy blog, you’ll find many articles on Scotland—its history, castles, food, music, and more, including a series there on Scottish and medieval music played in Scottish (and medieval!) locations.
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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Book Feature: Miss Management by Tracihighland #blogtour @tracihighland


MISS MANAGEMENT by Traci Highland, Romantic Comedy, 215 pp., $9.99 (paperback) $2.99 (Kindle)



Title: MISS MANAGEMENT
Author: Traci Highland
Publisher: Cheshire Lane Press
Pages: 215
Genre: Romantic Comedy


Mags has gotten herself in a ton of trouble: she’s lost her job, any hope for references, and she’s going to run out of money…. fast.

Yeah, sure, it may be her fault for punching her boss, but the jerk totally had it coming.
Nobody listens to her until she reaches her boiling point, and by then, well, she’ll admit that there’s no stopping Mr. Fist To The Face.

Now her years of hard work as a speech therapist are about to go down the drain unless she can find some way to salvage her career. So when her Aunt Elise calls to say that she has a job for her, it’s not like she can say no, even if the job is up in the wilds of Vermont.

Between stuffed moose, sloppy dogs and sexy men, Vermont proves to be a lot more interesting than she expected. But when she uncovers a scheme that would put her new employers’ livelihood in jeopardy, more than just hydrangea bushes are about to get squashed.

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Aunt Elise’s house, a tidy little Victorian painted white with blue shutters and a red door, looks like a gingerbread house about to collapse.  Sure, it’s clean or whatever.  But it’s old and sinking on one side.  She invited me for lunch after I got back from the bank yesterday, and after a night spent drinking beer and trolling through online job postings, and then spending the morning drinking coffee and trolling through more job listings, the invitation to drive on out into the Berkshires and have an excuse to see the sun is actually kind of nice.  The Berkshires is about as far as I can drive at any given time, given, well, anyway.  It’s nice to get out.
I knock and Elise opens the door. “What the hell is that in the driveway?  I didn’t recognize it.”
“It’s my Prius, Elise.  I’ve been driving it for four years now.”
“What happened to the pick-up truck?  I thought you liked to drive pick-ups.”
“I crashed that pick-up, Aunt Elise.”  She furrows her brow.  “It was on the news, remember?  I sort of accidentally ran over a mailbox.  And some hedges.  And an arbor.”
“Oh yes, the mistress’, right?  Now I remember.”
One of the mistresses.”  My husband of the time had many.  But I had been friends with Shawna. “I hit some black ice.”
She harrumphs.
The police also harrumphed when I told them about the black ice, as I recall.
“I always hoped you were a lesbian, you know.  With that truck.”
“Not all lesbians have trucks.”
“No, but the fun ones do.  Have you met Sharon and Hazel down the block?  Lovely couple.  Hazel drives a truck and—“
“Can I come in?  It’s starting to rain.”
She pulls the door back further and ushers me inside.  The house is a tea-party nightmare.  Shelves filled with teapots and chubby figurines pucker up at the flowered wallpaper in the hallway.  The rug of the adjacent living room is the color of cotton candy and I swear my stomach growls every time I see it.
I brush the plaques of inspirational sayings out of the way as I hang up my coat on the coat rack.
She stomps like a thin Godzilla back to the kitchen, causing the house to shudder and clink in alarm.  “You’re in luck, I just made some chicken salad.”
“Sounds great.”  I follow her into the kitchen and sit at the table with a sigh.
“I have a job for you.”
“Is that door still crooked?  I thought for sure that tightening the hinges would do the trick.”
“No, I mean a real job.”  Elise places a colorful bowl down in the middle of the table and glares.  Sealing her lips with some sort of judgmental superglue, she waits.
Oh, right.  The hands.  I go over to the sink and wash my hands.  She’s got this thing about germs.  Betty and I used to mess with her when we came over, going over to the sink and putting our hands together so that she would wash one of my hands and I would wash one of hers and then we’d wait to see if Elise would notice that we each still had one dirty hand.
She did. 
Always. 
As twins, Betty and I were convinced that we were supposed to be born with some kind of twin-specific super-power, but really the only thing we were consistently good at was making our baby sister Piper laugh so hard that milk would shoot out of her nose.
That was another trick that Aunt Elise didn’t find to be particularly endearing. 
After I dry my hands and grab the loaf of bread out of the breadbox, I say, “All right, so what kind of job are we talking about?  And please don’t mention the one in the woodchuck town.”
“What do you have against woodchucks?”
“Sweet Romany Halls! I don’t have anything against woodchucks, I don’t can’t work in a town that worships vermin, that’s all.”
“Fine. But please don’t take Romany’s name in vain.”
Romany Halls is a professional wrestler that Aunt Elise has a crush on.  One night when I was over doing some repair work for her I heard her swearing at the television set.  And I mean full-on swearing.  Aunt Elise never swears, at least not that I’ve ever heard.  As I walked into the guest bedroom to make sure she was okay, I realized that she not only was watching television in her guest bedroom, which was odd, but that the walls of the bedroom were covered in posters of one very muscled wrestler wearing not-so-many articles of clothing.  It was like an homage to all that was masculine and spandexy.
Whenever it’s just the two of us, I feel obligated to tease her about her crush and her shrine to the glory that is Romany Halls.  Me?  I don’t so much dig the guys with eye makeup thing.  But Elise, well, Elise seemed to like them big, oiled up, and wearing nothing more than colorful underwear.
“So this job?”  I grab a spoon and scoop out the chicken salad.
“It’s for a friend of mine, actually.  Very nice.  Her name is Eve and she needs help with Mansfield.”
“Mansfield?  That’s quite a name.  What happen, did he have a stroke?  Car accident?  Cancer?”
“I don’t know.  But she has put out several ads in the paper and everyone who shows up to check on Mansfield apparently refuses to treat him.”
“Refuses to treat him?  That’s horrible.  Why doesn’t she take him to a clinic?  If he’s rehabbing, a facility is probably better equipped than her house.”
“She says that he can’t travel to a clinic.  He must be in pretty bad shape.”
“Have you ever met him?”
“No, I know Eve from college.  She comes down sometimes, and I’ve met her grandson a few times.  Lovely boy.  But I haven’t met Mansfield.”
“Is she nearby?  Can I pop over there today and see what’s going on?”  I really need a job.
“She’s up in Vermont.  But last time I spoke with her on the phone she mentioned that she has a guest cottage you can stay in when you come.  I guess she has a lot of land.”
“Waityou already told her I would go?”
“Of course you’ll go.”
“You know that time you asked me to tell you when you were overstepping some boundaries? Consider them overstepped.”
She takes a bite of her sandwich, her eyes demanding from over the top of her bread.
I chew my bite of sandwich, taking my time in savoring the flavors of Aunt Elise’s chicken salad, just to make her sweat for a bit.  I close my eyes, exaggerating the chew.
When I open them again her eyes are no less stern as she wipes the side of her mouth with a hot pink napkin.
Damn.  She’s not sweating this at all, is she?  Not even a little bit. “Fine.  I’ll go.  This is a paid job, right?”
“Good.  And yes, of course, provided you don’t walk away like those others.”
“Speech pathologists don’t usually make house-calls.  I’d imagine that the other folks just tried to convince your friend to take Mansfield to a proper rehab facility.”
“Try not to be so judgmental before you even get there.”
“I’m not being judgmental.”  Maybe a little.  “He should be where he can get the best care, and that’s not always at home.”
“Eve and I went to Smith together, Mags.  I’ve known her for years and years. Trust me, if she’s determined that the best place for him to be is at home with her, then she’s right.  Period.”
“When did you tell Eve I’d be there?”
“Tomorrow. It’s going to be a great job for you.  You’ll see.”
Tomorrow.  Of course.


In some cases, bloggers ask us for first chapter reveals.  Please paste your first chapter here:
Nothing says Happy Friday like having Mr. Roth dribble crackers and sing La Cucaracha.  Nothing.
“Great job!  But let’s make sure to give those crackers an exaggerated swallow before the next stanza.  All right?”  I grab the paper cloth from the box and give his chin a wipe. 
He stares at me with rheumatic eyes, pushing his whole damn heart into his smile.
“Your smile always makes my day, Mr. Roth.”  I pick the last remnant of saltine out of his gray stubble and throw the paper towel into the garbage.  When Mr. Roth first came to see me, the stroke had paralyzed the left side of his face.  The paralysis had diminished somewhat and now he can do things like smile.  And sing.  Sort of.
At least we fixed the swallowing.  That’s a biggie.  He exhales a barely audible bar of his favorite song and I join him.  “Make it louder for me!  La cucaracha!  La cucaracha!  Ya no puede caminar…”
His smile widens and his voice rises, like a phoenix, dammit.  That asshat Dr. Robbins said he’d never speak again.  And here Mr. Roth is, six months later, singing. 
Days like this, I love my job.  Just as we’re about to finish up our session, Dolly pokes her head in the door. “I’m sorry, Mags, but Dr. Robbins says you’re going to have to keep it down.”
“Tell him to shut his damn door.”  That man exists to be the pain in my neck.  You know the pain, the one you wake up with every morning and no amount of Advil can kill?  That one.
“Was I too loud?”  Mr. Roth asks, worry crossing his cherubic, drooly face. 
“No, angel.  Not a bit.  You’re a rock star and I’m damn proud of you.” One day I am going to open my own clinic, so naysayers like Dr. Robbins can learn to shut the hell up.
Dr. Robbins, the asshat, runs the clinic. So naturally, he feels that everything in the office is his, too, like, you know, the pretty nurses and speech pathologists that he employs.
Grabbing Mr. Roth’s arm, I help him with his jacket.  Dolly clicks the pen in her hand like it’s a hand grenade.  On off, on off, on off.
“Stop it,” I hiss to her as I grab Mr. Roth’s gloves.  “Now keep practicing those scales we talked about and I’ll see you next week.”
He squeezes my hand and then says to Dolly, “She’s a saint, this one.  A regular saint.”
His r’s don’t come out quite right but hey, it’s a work in progress.
The second he’s out the door, I walk over to the nurses’ station and pull up the electronic records on my next patient. I haul on down to room number six, where Mr. Earle is waiting for me to re-adjust his tracheal tube.
I reach for the handle and I’m blindsided by Susie, the intern.  She’s the best kind of intern, hard-working and wicked smart, and rather pretty in a cute, slightly disheveled kind of way.  She’s shaking as she bumps into me, wiping tears from her eyes.
“What’s wrong?” There can be lots of things wrong when you’re twenty-one.  Hormones and boozing and all that, but this looks… different.
“Nothing, I’m fine. Tracheal tube, right?”  She straightens her Hello Kitty scrubs and adjusts the chunky black-rimmed glasses, making sure the floating strands of pinkish hair stay behind her ears.
I open my mouth but the words just sort of dry up.  Sometimes, it’s best just to leave it.  She knows I’m here—prodding would be rude, right?  Let her tell me when she’s ready, or not, her choice.  Besides, I’m running behind.
Susie and I wrestle Mr. Earle’s tube back where it belongs and the second we finish and leave the room, Susie’s face pales.
Dr. Robbins is standing in the hall, blocking the path between where we stand and the nurses’ station. 
He looks up at Susie and gives her a grin that turns my stomach into a rolling pool of bile and fire. His yellowish, crooked teeth and greasy hair make him look more like a Goodfellas reject than a doctor.  But hey, it could just be that I’m biased because he told me once that he hired me for my boobs.
Not my stellar resume.  Not my incredible grades that I worked by butt off to earn, but because he liked my boobs.
I wanted to quit right then and there.  To stand up and shout and sue and do all those noble things I would tell my sisters to do if they were in the same situation.
But yeah, I had just gotten divorced and needed the job.  Nothing like having to buy your cheating ex out of half of your own damn house.
So the words disappeared and I sort of just resorted to sending politely worded emails, like “Please remember to interact with the staff in a professional manner.” And “I believe we are due for the state-mandated sexual harassment prevention course.  Can I sign us up?”
Susie freezes beside me.  Her cheeks turn to scrambled eggs and she grabs my hand.  “Don’t let him touch me again.”  She whispers.
Again?  Touch her?  My vision blurs.  Like actually blurs as he walks towards us.  That creep. That stupid, sexist creep.  He touched her?  She’s just a child.  Mostly.  Practically.  Hell, it doesn’t matter how old she is!  He’s a monster.
Dr. Robbins sidles over and his snakelike tongue pokes in and out of his mouth as his eyes roam over Susie.  “Susan, do you know where the canned peaches are?  I need to use them for a videofluoroscopy this afternoon.”  He leans in closer to her and she clenches my hand as his chili taco breath assaults us. “Maybe you can show me in the supply closet?”
She shakes like a shake weight in those cheesy late-night infomercials.  “No.” Her voice is barely above a whisper, but I can hear her just fine.
He, however, moves closer.  “Stop,” I say.  As usual, my words do nothing. No one listens, dammit.  Again and again and again I’ve asked him to stop doing this. 
“Stop,” I say again, louder. 
He just moves on in closer, like I’m nothing more than a lamp.
That’s when I see it.  He reaches down and grabs her ass.  She jumps and he smiles.  “Get off.”  She hisses but he doesn’t listen, he never listens.  He cups her whole cheek now, grinning.
I punch him in the face.
His head slams back, blinking like, well, like I just punched him in the face.
Oh crap.
Did I really just punch my boss in the face? 
My fingertips chill and my hand aches.
I didn’ttell me I didn’t.
Susie gasps, her hands covering her mouth and a look of unadulterated panic in her eyes. My throat tightens.
Oh my God, I totally did.
“She asked you to stop.” It’s the only thing that leaves my mouth in a somewhat coherent fashion. 
He narrows his eyes, a large red bump creeping across his smarmy face. “You hit me!” 
Susie, her jaw now on the ground, looks at me. Her eyes are wide and frightened like a deer’s.  Her voice is flat when she says, “You punched him.”
I kind of hate deer.
“Yes!  Yes, I see that.  You’re fine, right, Dr. Robbins?  You should have stopped.  We all know you can’t go around grabbing asses like they’re doorknobs. But you just kept grabbing and squishing it around so I had to, had to—“
“You’re fired.”  He growls.
“You can’t!”
“Get out, Miss Anderson.  Get out now before I call the police.”
Well, damn.










Traci Highland writes funny books for sassy ladies.  She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and has a Master’s from Quinnipiac University.  She uses this education to write books, bake cakes, garden and make homemade jams.  Her children say she’s bossy, her husband says she’s high-maintenance, but the dog thinks she’s perfect.

Her latest book is the romantic comedy, Miss Management.

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