Thursday, August 10, 2017

THE HEALTHCARE CRISIS AFFECTS US ALL

I try not to wax political too often. I have strong opinions, but this doesn't seem to be the place to vent them, except maybe on this topic, because it's a universal concern.
The greatest budgetary unknown for most Americans right now is healthcare. No matter how responsibly we plan, most Americans are simply holding their breath to see what happens, whether it's concerns over the future of Medicare, how far personal healthcare dollars will go, or whether employers will offer healthcare, or if the ACA exchanges survive.
Maryland's failing Evergreen Health Insurance Group provides a sobering, but honest, current glimpse at what we're all up against. (I give this information to help people being held hostage by this problem. Not to foment hate and argument, so please see this as useful information and not as a springboard to rant about presidents past or present.) Here's my update:
I spoke to a former principle at the company who said Evergreen was healthy and well-situated with twice the reserves needed to fund claims four years ago. A few things happened.
1. Although Evergreen is a not-for-profit-company, it had these aforementioned reserves. Under the ACA, (Obamacare), private insurance companies with profits and reserves were forced to bailout companies who were bearing the public burden of the ACA, like Carefirst. That bailout cut too deep into Evergreen, forcing them, like all other insurance carriers, to raise prices.
2. As promised, Evergreen honored their 2015 prices going into 2016, with only a modest increase in prices, which raised too little additional revenue, and the death spiral began. In 2017, they raised the prices on their policies by about 30%, but it was too late.
3. The Maryland State Insurance Commission jumped in as as soon as they saw the tip of the scales. They tried to help Evergreen find Investors to help them ride out the storm, but the Investors, (other health co-ops), pulled out in May or June, sealing Evergreen's fate.
4. The Insurance Commission is still trying to find investors. It doesn't look good.
Evergreen patients have been assured they still have coverage, although they might have to drive longer distances to find a doctor who will still participate at the risk of never being paid. If you've met your deductible, you might want to hang in there. If you leave and find a new carrier, you will have to start over to meet new deductibles.
My eval on all this. Everyone loses in this ACA scenario.
The carriers who support the ACA exchange aren't solvent because the cost of care is not supported by premiums and company investments. Competent, healthy insurance carriers go under because their business model is upset when they are forced to bailout those who are protecting the ACA.Patients who counted on a certain plan with certain trusted physicians find that those doctors are leaving before reimbursement ceases. By law, physicians must keep their patients for 90 days despite their failing insurance, which means in some cases, that they are treating people with no reimbursement.
The system is badly strained. Maybe broken. Can it be fixed? I want to lock the entire Congress in the Capitol until they figure it out--the Dems who raced into a plan some knew was destined to eventually fail so they could "start the conversation about single-payer," and all the republicans who sat on their hands for seven years, blathering and about what they'd do, and then didn't.
Call your congressmen and senators.
Every day.
Tell them to get back and fix this.
Now.
Evergreen was a good company. It will not be the last to go under.
Call.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

THE MAJESTY OF AGE

I experienced true human majesty today. Mom completed her month-long rehab and was discharged this morning. In the past four weeks, she's lived in a quad set-up with four older women, each with differing ailments that require them to have full-time care. During the day, she went to the dayroom to paint or listen to music with other residents with whom she chatted and spent time.

She doesn't remember their names from day-to-day, or even hour-to-hour, but she responds to everyone with a smile and a kind word, and they became friends.

Today, as I walked down the hall to pack her things, one of her ailing friends asked me to give her their milk carton because they know she loves milk. Another grabbed her walker and shuffled to Mom's room, offering her a tearful hug goodbye. Her roommate was so upset about the impending loss of her friend that she wanted to leave with her.

Whether once women of means or paupers, life has equalized their stations. Each is now reduced to what can be stored in a few drawers, and a cupboard for clothes. Their wants are few, and what they treasure is love, given freely and soaked up like rain on dry ground, through heavy-armed hugs, a trembling smile, a carton of milk, or an offered cookie from a plate sent by a loved one.

I wiped my eyes more than once at the grandeur of spirits that could not be contained by frail bodies, but which reached across rooms and halls in cheery laughter and illuminated eyes. If time spent at a task makes one a professional, then these are professionals at loving, who stripped of the trappings of things, love soul to soul and heart to heart.

Perhaps we become more spirit than body, a thought that makes growing older seem glorious. At least I think so, because today I saw majesty, and nobility, and grace, and I remain awed.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Interview with Multi-genre author, MARLENE BATEMAN

Interview with Marlene Bateman,
Author of Searching for Irene


A reader once wrote in a review that knowing a little about the author made a book more personal to her. So here's the chance for readers to get to know a little about Marlene Bateman, the talented, multi-genre author behind twelve  wonderfully diverse books, from her non-fiction treasure "The Magnificent World of Spirits," to cozy mysteries and romantic novels like her newest release, "Searching for Irene."

I think readers like to know how we got started writing. So Marlene, did you always want to be a writer?
Always! Ever since I was in elementary school. As a child, I was a voracious reader and this created a desire to write my own stories. 

How did you learn the writing craft?
Learning how to write is an ongoing process. I started as a youngster, and continued taking classes, reading books on writing, and practicing, practicing and practicing through college and beyond. Even now, after having fourteen books published, I still attend writing conferences and take classes that teach me more about the craft of writing. I also still read books about the writing process. Also, when I read, I pay attention to the author’s writing and try to incorporate what I like into my own manuscripts.

I know the answer to this, but tell my readers what makes your novels stand out from the crowd? 
My books are ‘clean,’ which means no swearing, and no gratuitous sex or violence. Also, I like to focus on creating interesting characters. I like to write mysteries and while many current TV shows place use high-tech prowess to solve the crime, I delve into the killer’s psyche and show the psychological aspects that drive their behavior, and which leaves clues behind for the savvy investigator to uncover.

How long does it take to write a book?
My first novel; Light on Fire Island, took me three years. But as my children got older and more self-sufficient and as I improved my writing skills, I’ve been able to work a little faster. I can now write a novel in 8-11 months.

What is your daily writing routine?
I try to begin my writing day at 10:30 a.m. When I get up, I have breakfast, read my scriptures, then the newspaper, and do house and yard work. I write until 12:30, when I have lunch. Then, I try to take a 10-15 minute power-nap before getting back to work.  In the afternoon, I take my dogs for a walk, then continue writing until 7 p.m.

What is your writing space like?
I converted our formal dining room into a writing nook where I have an L-shaped desk. Years ago, my son talked me into getting two monitors and now, I couldn’t live without them. 
We have a gazebo in our backyard that I call my second “office.” I work there on my laptop when weather permits. I have a flower garden nearby and with the flowers, trees, and garden, it’s a little slice of heaven. I have two dogs; Brandi—an energetic Welsh Corgi—and Biscuit—a plump Westie, who keep me company. I also have four cats and usually one or more comes out to nap nearby as I write.

What else have you written?
My first novel, Light on Fire Island, is a romance/mystery. My next three novels were cozy murder mysteries; Motive for Murder, A Death in the Family, and Crooked House. It was fun writing them because the main character—Erica Coleman—is a quirky private eye with OCD.  My next novel was a romance, For Sale by Owner.
I also write non-fiction for the LDS (Mormon) market. One of the books I enjoyed writing the most was Gaze into Heaven; Near-death experiences in Early LDS Church History.  It was fascinating to read about the experiences of people who lived between 1830 and 1899 and who had near-death experiences and saw the Spirit World.  
What's one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Never. Give. Up.

People don’t fail because they can’t write, they fail because they stop trying. I have a yellowed newspaper clipping by my computer that says; “For most of us, it isn’t that we don’t have the ability to write, it’s that we don’t devote the time.  You have to put in the effort.”  Another way of saying it is that if you want to write and be published bad enough, you’ll work for it.  And if you work at it, your writing will improve, and you WILL be published. 

I think that's a perfect place to end. Thanks so much for fielding these questions, Marlene, and good luck with the launch of "Searching for Irene."

Monday, July 10, 2017

Author Marlene Bateman Serves Up Another Delicious Mystery With "SEARCHING FOR IRENE"

Marlene Bateman returns tomorrow with an up close and personal interview about "Searching For Irene," and her other beloved books. Today, we're delighted to kick off her blog tour for her newest release, Searching for Irene.

What happened to Irene?

When Anna Coughlin, a modern 1920’s woman, travels to the secluded hills of Virginia to work for wealthy Lawrence Richardson, she discovers that the previous secretary, Irene, mysteriously disappeared a few weeks before.  Upon arriving at the castle-like mansion to begin working, Anna finds that Lawrence’s handsome, but antagonistic son, Tyler, wants nothing more than to have her gone. And he isn’t the only one—

After Anna sets out to find the truth behind Irene’s disappearance, a series of frightening incidents ensnare her in a maze of intrigue. Anna is helped—and often hindered—by the temperamental Tyler Richardson, who—despite her best intentions—begins to steal her heart.

But even as Anna begins to uncover dark secrets in a troubled household, she must continue to hide a significant one of her own. When her life is threatened, Anna is left to wonder if she’ll be able to unravel the mystery before she disappears as mysteriously as the unfortunate Irene—

Links
Marlene’s website: www.marlenebateman.info



Excerpt; Searching for Irene

The tallest parts of the mansion—fanciful turrets and a circular tower—were visible only in glimpses Anna caught between lofty oaks and towering pines as her cab wound through the knolls and hills of eastern Virginia.

When the cab turned up the long driveway lined with dogwood trees in full bloom, Anna Coughlin reached for her handbag, gripping it with a tension that had knotted her muscles ever since getting on the train.
 The vast estate stood on a hilltop, like a castle—and she craned her neck to better view the starkly impressive gray-stone mansion of Ashton Hall—where she hoped to be hired. With its arched, leaded windows and slate roof with numerous chimneys, the house rivaled pictures she’d seen of castles in Europe.
 Instructing the driver to wait, she climbed out, patted her hat in case it was askew, then smoothed her gray suit with gloved hands in hopes of presenting a professional appearance. Anna had no confidence she was clever enough or bold enough to pull this off, but she had to try.
 Her eye was drawn by a tall man—more than six feet—who came from the side of the house. Since the man was striding toward her so purposefully, Anna stopped and waited. As he drew near, Anna noted his deep-set eyes were as black as his hair. His skin was tanned, his thin, long-fingered hands brown and strong.

 “Miss Coughlin?” He stretched out a hand and shook hers, but there was no warmth for her in his eyes. “I’m Tyler Richardson. Unfortunately, your services are not needed after all.” A touch of arrogance marked his manner, as though he was long accustomed to command those around him.
 “Your father called only last week to have someone come out,” Anna blurted in dismay. “May I ask what caused him to change his mind?”
 A fleeting glimpse of discomfiture crossed Mr. Richardson’s face. “I wasn’t consulted about his hiring another secretary to replace the one who left so suddenly. My father isn’t in good health, and the last thing we need is someone coming in and upsetting him by making a muddle of things.”
 His words kindled a fire that glinted in Anna’s eyes. How dare he make such an assumption? It was difficult to hang on to her temper, but there was too much at stake to let his boorishness sidetrack her. “Since I’m here, I’m sure you won’t mind if I keep my appointment. After all, your father is the one who requested my services. I’m sure he’s expecting me.”
 Her words hit home.It took a few bitter seconds, but he finally acquiesced. “Come in, then,” he muttered ungraciously before leading the way up the steps and opening the door.
 Following his rigid back down the narrow hall, Anna’s brows furrowed as doubts crept in. How wise had she been to come to this remote place? Especially when the previous secretary had disappeared so mysteriously? Even her employer thought it odd that no one in this mansion seemed to know where Irene had gone or where she was now. It was as if Irene had vanished into thin air.

Links
Marlene’s website: www.marlenebateman.info

Bio
Marlene Bateman Sullivan grew up in Utah, and graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelor's degree in English. She is married to Kelly R. Sullivan and they live in North Salt Lake, Utah with their two dogs and four cats. Marlene has been published extensively in magazines and newspapers and wrote the best-selling romance/suspense novel, Light on Fire Island. She has written three other cozy mysteries; Motive for MurderA Death in the Family, and Crooked House, as well as the romance, For Sale by Owner.

Marlene has also written a number of non-fiction, LDS books:  Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines, And There Were Angels Among Them, Visit’s from Beyond the Veil, By the Ministering of AngelsBrigham’s Boys, Heroes of FaithGaze into Heaven; Near-death Experiences in Early Church History, and The Magnificent World of Spirits; Eyewitness Accounts of Where We Go When We Die.
As an added bonus, we'd like to also share Marlene's "For Sale By Owner," a sweet romance.


Blurb for; For Sale by Owner  (Published Oct. 2016)

For Sale by Owner;  Stressed by a difficult year, McKenzie Forsberg quits her high-powered job to move back to her hometown. Desperate and determined to rebuild her life, Kenzie seeks to buy the home she grew up in. The only problem is that a handsome widower, Jared Rawlins, also wants the house. As a battle of wits ensue, sparks of attraction grow into something more. Then, Kenzie makes a stunning discovery about her past that changes everything. Will the power of love be enough to allow Jared and Kenzie to find their happily ever after?

\
(Return tomorrow for an interview with the author!)

Monday, July 3, 2017

SHARE A PATRIOTIC MEMORY AND GET A FREE BOOK!

From Memorial Day through Labor Day, my heart stirs at the flying of the red, white, and blue. Our small town flies a giant flag from a crane so all can see as they pass through.

As faithful readers know, I spent eight years researching and writing my award-winning Free Men and Dreamers series to commemorate the two hundredth anniversary of The War of 1812, the writing of The Star-Spangled Banner, and the preservation of the freedoms we enjoy. We're about to give the end of the series a facelift. I only own the last three volumes, so those books are getting new covers so we can reach a new batch of patriotic readers.

 I can't control the price on the first two books still held by my publisher, but I'm offering the e-books of volumes 3-5, "Dawn's Early Light," "Oh, Say Can You See?" and "In God Is Our Trust," for $0.99 each this month. Read THE great reviews of these books on my author page.


Here's a former post I wrote about Key from the research I conducted on the series. I hope it adds to your love of the Star-Spangled Banner and the anthem it inspired.

SHARE AND GET A FREE BOOK!

Share a patriotic memory or a personal story about your love of the flag below and I'll send you a free ecopy of "Dawn's Early Light."


GETTING INSIDE OF KEY'S HEAD

There's so many beautiful, stirring details forgotten or never learned that surround Key's story. Most of us know he was on board a ship in the harbor overlooking Fort McHenry during the bombardment when the inspiration hit him. Fewer people recall that he was on a mission to save his Scottish friend, Dr. William Beanes, who had been dragged from his bed in the middle of the night by the British on charges of treason and murder. But there's so much more to the story.

To fully understand the passion behind Key's story you must recall that three weeks prior to the bombardment, Key and his wife were secreting their children away from Georgetown, a suburb of Washington, to Key's parents' home in Frederick, Maryland. The British were expected to march on the Capital and the Key's were desperate to send them away to safety. Days later, while Polly remained near her husband in the home of friends, Key was horseback and on the battlefield with President Madison at Bladensburg, Maryland, when the American forces clashed with the British army. The fight became a humiliating rout sadly dubbed "The Bladensburg Races," a pitiful reference to the frightened American retreat that left the way open for the sacking of the President's House, the Capitol building, the government offices. As a result, very few mementos of our country's birth and infancy exist prior to 1814.

Key had also witnessed, firsthand, the brutality of the British military when crossed, and on September 13th, Baltimore was swollen with angry Americans poised to fight back. Worse yet, Key had family in the city. His brother-in-law, Judge Joseph Nicholson, was the second in command at Fort McHenry that day. And Nicholson's wife, sister to Key's wife Polly, was still in the city with their children. After all Key had done to protect his own family, his concerns for these loved ones pressed heavily on his mind.

During the negotiations with the British to secure Beanes release, Key and the Prison Exchange agent, John Skinner, were taken aboard the British admiral's flagship and treated as guests. But during the meals, the British officers discussed their plans to burn the city to the ground in front of their American "guests." Having been apprised of the British war plans, Key and Skinner became detainees of the British until after the battle's conclusion, unable to warn their people, and forced to watch the attack from afar, knowing the dire fate intended for Baltimore if the fort were to fall. Key's heart was deeply harrowed.

The twenty-five hour bombardment from September 13th into September 14th was unbearable, but Key had also seen thousands of British troops land fourteen miles south of Baltimore, poised to enter the city and subdue it once the fort fell. Knowing the atrocities committed in other cities that had opposed the British, he shuddered with fear. Days later, in a letter to a friend, John Randolph, Key expressed the anger and fear he felt while maintaining his hope that the prayers of the pious would be heard by God who would deliver the city.

The flag therefore, became more than a mere real estate marker, announcing the power that controlled the fort. It became the sign of life, that as long as she waved the fort had held and the British army and its destructive might had been held at bay.

He jotted his notes on the back of a letter during the final two days of his detainment, setting the entire poem, titled, "The Defense of Baltimore" on a sheet when he was back in the city in his room at the Indian Queen Hotel.

He took the poem to Judge Nicholson as a gift, and the judge was so moved he rushed it to a printers for duplication. Within hours, broadsheets of Key's poem could be found everywhere across the city. People were so starved for something positive and hopeful to cling to in these hours after the loss of their capital that soldiers in the fort wrote home about the poem, and copies began moving to other cities. It was first published in the Baltimore Patriot but soon it appeared in papers in Philadelphia and Boston and New York.

It was set to the tune of a popular melody of the day, "To Anacreon in Heaven," and performed as the finale in performances along the embattled coast where it received standing ovations.

After Washington, few symbols remained to proclaim that our nation and our government still existed. Britain had their king, their crown, their castles, their Parliament, but Britain had left us no home for our president, nor a house for our Congress. All America's citizenry had to hold on to were the ideals of their people, and a flag--a red, white and blue banner that stood defiantly between the enemy and them.

That's what Key saw that day. And this is what he knew--that buildings may burn, presidents may change, armies may march, and enemies may come, but as long as our people hold fast to the ideals upon which this nation was founded, and have access to a few scraps of fabric, the symbol of America cannot be extinguished.

Long may she wave. Proud may she wave!

Monday, June 26, 2017

ALZAUTHORS--Writing Stories THAT SUPPORT FAMILIES IMPACTED BY DEMENTIA

As many of you know, my family, like many of yours, was rocked when our mother received the diagnosis of dementia. I found support and understanding from a group of authors who were likewise affected by this disease. In some cases, it struck the authors' loved ones. In other cases, the author themselves were impacted.
My award-winning novel, "The Dragons of Alsace Farm," illustrates the impact dementia has on a 82-Y-O French WWII survivor named Agnes, and the people who love her. My mother inspired me to make Agnes a dementia sufferer so I could begin a dialogue about this disease. "Dragons" led me to find an extraordinary group of authors-- Alzauthors.
I'm now proud to be a member of this empathetic writers guild who write books about their journey with this disease. Some of the stories will make you laugh. Some will make you cry. All will touch you deeply and offer readers similarly affected a place to feel understood.
Alzauthors is hosting an book promo to make readers aware that such books even exist. I'm late in announcing this because I was on vacation, but I wanted to at least get this posted   Feel free to browse these books, or please share with someone you know who might find these books a comfort. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

BECAUSE DADS MATTER

Eighteen award-winning and/or bestselling authors decided it was time to do a book promo that honored fathers and father-figures in literature. 

From June 12-25, you can pick up eighteen wonderful family-themed novels about great dads or father-type role models during this "Because Dads Matter' promo. 

Each novel was personally selected by the bestselling and/or award-winning author behind the story.  While supporting great fathers, they also hope to introduce themselves and their work to new readers.

As an added incentive, eight $10 gift cards are also being given away! So fill that e-reader with stories of great dads, and find a new author that touches your heart.

"TAKE ME BACK" Historical Romance Promotion. Fill your e-reader and win gift cards!

TAKE ME BACK!

This offer runs from June 10-30.


Eighteen authors are each offering one their favorite historical romances for free in exchange for the opportunity to meet new readers and introduce their writing to a broader audience. 

We're covering all the historical time periods, from Joyce DiPastena's medieval "Loyalty's Web," to Liz Adair's 1890's western romance, "Hidden Spring," and everything in between.

I'm offering "Dawn's Early Light" from my "Free Men and Dreamers" collection, detailing the burning of Washington and five families whose lives were torn apart by this British assault on America.  "Dawn's Early Light" is volume  in the series, but each volume is a stand alone read.

So pick up some new books by bestselling and award-winning authors and also enter to win gift cards to fill that Kindle!


Sunday, June 11, 2017

GIVEAWAY! Escape to Europe with Lisa Swinton's "12 Days to Love," part of the DESTINED FOR LOVE SERIES

Another great romantic series--DESTINED FOR LOVE--  written by a team of bestselling authors, is launching this week. Today, I'm introducing you to "12 DAYS TO LOVE," by RONE AWARD-winning author Lisa Swinton.


12 days...10...ports...1 soul searing kiss that will change her life.


Lily is free. Free from home. Free from work and everything she built the last eight years. And she’s scared to death. With her half of the Etsy business sold, Lily is persuaded by Maddie to take advantage of her windfall and go on a cruise around Italy, explore new possibilities, and meet new people, especially the male kind. Feeling as unstable as the waves rolling beneath the ship, Lily is reluctant to agree to a romantic flirtation, even with a man as intriguing as Zander. 

The cruise is supposed to be a fresh start for Zander and an opportunity to expand his freelance photography business. It also marks the one year anniversary of his fiancĂ©e’s death. All he’s interested in gaining from the experience is a larger portfolio, but finds himself irresistibly drawn to Lily, who looks nearly as lost as he feels. 

A cruise ship romance couldn’t possibly last, and yet how can Lily and Zander resist falling in love in the most romantic country on earth?


Books in the Destined for Love: Europe Collection
— Desperately Seeking Mr. Right by Sally Johnson 
— Meet Me At Sunrise by Lucinda Whitney 
—12 Days to Love by Lisa Swinton 
— Kiss Me in the Moonlight by Lindzee Armstrong 
— Never Trust the Rain by Laura D. Bastian


About the Author:
Award Winning Author Lisa Swinton caught the romance bug early by way of fairy tales and hasn’t been able to cure it since. Instead, she feeds her addiction with romance novels and films. In between being a doctor’s wife and mother of two, she occasionally puts her B.A. in Musical Theater to good use via community theater and church choir. In her elusive spare time she enjoys researching her family tree and baking (especially with chocolate). She loves to travel, Jane Austen, and all things Italian. In her next life, she plans to be a professional organizer.


Amazon:

FB Page:

Friday, June 9, 2017

"THE DRAGONS of ALSACE FARM" IS A RONE FINALIST!!!!

The Dragons of Alsace Farm is touching the hearts of readers and reviewers. 

It has now garnered 67 Amazon reviews with an average of 4.75 out of 5, plus: 

*A Hungry Monster Book Award

* The New Apple Literary Award for Inspirational Fiction,  

* A Whitney Award General Fiction finalist status

And some more wonderful news arrived on Monday when InD'TaleMagazine posted their list of finalists and "The Dragons of Alsace Farm" made the list! 

Many thanks to all who've read, reviewed, and nominated "The Dragons of Alsace Farm" for an award. 

My heart is overflowing with gratitude for the way you have embraced this story. For those of you who may not know the inspiration behind the book, I invite you to visit this link


I've lowered the price to $0.99 until June 30th, when we plan to give the book a new cover and re-release it for summer. Paperback copies are also available. It would be my honor to autograph a copy for  you or for a loved one.

So Very Excited to Introduce You To Rone Award Winning-author DANYELLE FERGUSON'S Newest Release-- "ONCE UPON A WISH!"

Happy book birthday to Danyelle Ferguson and her new release, Once Upon a Wish. This book birthday is extra special, as it marks her 10th published book! #HappyDance And let me say that you are going to adore this story! Danyelle is a RONE Award-winning author, and this book feels like another contender!

A few years ago (Danyelle isn't divulging the exact number), she spent her senior year of high school as an exchange student in France. She lived on the coast, near the port of La Rochelle. The towers at the port marked her very favorite spot. She loved the cobblestone streets, the gorgeous architecture, and most of all, to look across the ocean, knowing that her family in Pennsylvania was just on the other side.

As a writer, one of her goals has been to write a book set in La Rochelle, France - and Once Upon a Wish made that dream come true. It's true that "Every dream fulfilled begins with a wish."

Be careful what you wish for . . .

Delphine Baudry wished to be a best-selling author, but now instead of celebrating and jumping into her next novel, she's frozen with fear. What if she turns out to be a one-hit-wonder? What if all her new fans hate the next book? To top it all off, she can't even discuss the situation with her favorite brainstorming partner, her mother, who is losing her memory to Alzheimer's. Taking a cue from some teens tossing Euros into a fountain, Delphine gives into some whimsy and wishes for her next book plot.

Jean-Paul Chassériau wished to start an online marketing company in La Rochelle. Now the real work begins. Feeling pressure to live up to his father's name in traditional marketing, Jean-Paul has a million ideas but no clients. When he finds a funky old Franc lodged between cobblestones near a fountain, there was only one thing to do. Make a wish.

When their coins collide, Delphine and Jean-Paul's wishes become intertwined, changing the course of their futures, and teaching them that wishes are sometimes fulfilled in unexpected ways.
Here's a teaser from the book:

NOVEL EXCERPT

Jean-Paul's fingers enveloped her tiny hand, but she returned the handshake with a firm grip. Small but confident. He liked that.

“My name is Delphine,” the woman from the fountain said. Her dog yipped from under the table, and she patted her knees. A scruffy ball of fur leapt up, then sat on her lap. Her dog was more black than the typical brown and white the Yorkie breed was known for, giving him a tough scrapper look despite his small size. “And this is Hugo, my ferocious guard dog. Say hello, Hugo.” The Yorkie tilted his head as if considering Jean-Paul, then lifted his paw to obey.

Jean-Paul took the tiny paw in his hand and shook it. “Very nice to meet you,” he said in a deep, serious voice. When he released Hugo’s paw, the dog’s tongue darted out and licked the side of Jean-Paul’s thumb.

“He likes you,” Delphine said, petting her dog.

He took her comment as a good thing and sat down in his chair.

“So, did I ruin your wish?” she asked.

Jean-Paul smiled. She liked to jump right to the point, no tiptoeing around. “No, not at all. I’ve never seen two coins collide like that.”

“Ah, but just because you haven’t seen it, doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. Statistically, anyway,” Delphine said, picking up the cup and saucer, then sipping some chocolat chaud.

“I’m willing to admit the probability is non-zero, but I can’t imagine it would be very high,” Jean-Paul shot back, interested to see her response to his geeky comment.

“Tell me,” Delphine said, leaning forward, intrigue glinting in her eyes. “How many coins have you seen thrown into that fountain?”

He folded his arms and brought up one finger to tap his chin, going for a deep-in-thought pose. “You’re right. Maybe we should perform an experiment. How about we meet here again on Thursday?”

Ready to jump into Once Upon a Wish? Buy it on Kindle for only $2.99.


About the Author


Danyelle Ferguson discovered her love for the written word in elementary school. Her first article was published when she was in 6th grade. Since then, she’s won several awards and has been published world-wide in newspapers, magazines and books. She’s grateful every day to work in her dream jobs – author, editor, and nurturing her readaholic tendencies.

She grew up surrounded by Pennsylvania’s beautiful Allegheny Mountains. Then lived for ten years among the majestic Wasatch Mountains. She is currently experiencing mountain-withdrawal while living in Kansas with her husband and four angels-in-training. She enjoys reading, writing, dancing and singing in the kitchen, and the occasional long bubble bath to relax from the everyday stress of being “Mommy.”

Cyber Stalk Danyelle via her newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon, or her website

Friday, June 2, 2017

UNDERSTANDING MOM

This post may help others better understand their loved ones struggling from behind the fog of dementia.

I've noticed that Mom has been announcing my arrival in a
strange new way recently. When I enter the room, she recognizes me, but she seems confusedly surprised when she looks at me, and she says, "You're my daughter Laurie," as if verifying her assumption.

I finally asked her, "Are you surprised to see me?"

She replied, "A little."

In the past, I assumed this was because she couldn't remember my visits once I left the room, but as we broke the ice with conversation, Mom seemed sad. When I asked why, she said her mother came into her room and was upset that she hadn't cleaned it. She still suffered over her mother's disappointment.


"How long ago did ago do you think this happened, Mom?" I asked.

"A few minutes ago." She was still very glum about the situation. I realized she was still living in another place, another time, and I wondered how seeing her grown daughter walk in when she was living in a moment of her own childhood would have affected her. I asked her, "How old do you think I should be, Mom?"

Her face twisted up. "About twelve," she answered more as a question than a statement. "Little."

"Does it seem weird to you to see your daughter all grown up?"

She shrank back into her covers and nodded. "Yes.

"And how old do you think you are?"

A moment earlier, she thought she was twelve too. She looks at me and begins processing memories of marrying, and having a family, including at least one grown daughter standing before her.

My brother and I have had to answer questions about Dad's passing dozens of times, as if she relives the first news of his death many times, but now I realize that she's living in a time warp daily, a strangle "wrinkle in time," a "Matrix" where one minute she's twelve, and a moment later she's grown and a mother, and an old woman a moment later, surrounded by photos and faces of people who were real to her a minute ago and then lost to her in an instant.

Some people listen to the ramblings of dementia patients and think they're crazy, but consider the mental gymnastics their mind is performing, the fight their engaged in to make any sense of all these simultaneous realities, and to come back to us in our time at all.

I hate this disease, but I now have a better understanding of the frightening, shifting world my mother lives in, and I can help her navigate better.

She wanted to be left in that bed and stare at me while we chatted. It took over an hour to get her to agree to sit and then stand, to shift worlds, so to speak, but once I pushed her mind to leave the comfort of the past, and reenter the present, we went outside and faced the glorious beauty yesterday offered. I don't know if it was the exercise pumping blood to her brain, or her sweet personality that couldn't bear to ignore my coaxing, but once she was outside she played bocci ball for two hours, she chatted with her friends, and she won the game!

I hope this helps you better understand your own loved one with dementia. I don't know how long I could retain my own sanity and clarity if I was flip flopping through time and realities this way. Don't discount how hard they are working to hold on to each moment in time. Start now formulating questions that help you gauge where their mind is, and find ways to gently nudge them back to the present.

Monday, May 29, 2017

THE BOYS OF IWO JIMA, HEROES, NONETHELESS, by Michael T. Powers

This story has been circulating around the Internet since it was written in 2000. It was written by Michael T. Powers, who is also an author with stories in 29 inspirational books including many in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and his own entitled: Heart Touchers "Life-Changing Stories of Faith, Love, and Laughter." To preview his book or to join the thousands of world wide readers on his inspirational e-mail list, visit: http://www.HeartTouchers.com.



THE BOYS OF IWO JIMA


Each year my video production company is hired to go to Washington, D.C. with the eighth grade class from Clinton, Wisconsin where I grew up, to videotape their trip. I greatly enjoy visiting our nation's capitol, and each year I take some special memories back with me. This fall's trip was especially memorable.

On the last night of our trip, we stopped at the Iwo Jima memorial. This memorial is the largest bronze statue in the world and depicts one of the most famous photographs in history -- that of the six brave men raising the American flag at the top of Mount Surabachi on the Island of Iwo Jima, Japan during WW II. Over one hundred students and chaperones piled off the buses and headed towards the memorial. I noticed a solitary figure at the base of the statue, and as I got closer he asked, "What's your name and where are you guys from?

I told him that my name was Michael Powers and that we were from Clinton, Wisconsin.

"Hey, I'm a Cheesehead, too! Come gather around Cheeseheads, and I will tell you a story."

James Bradley just happened to be in Washington, D.C. to speak at the memorial the following day. He was there that night to say good-night to his dad, who had previously passed away, but whose image is part of the statue. He was just about to leave when he saw the buses pull up. I videotaped him as he spoke to us, and received his permission to share what he said from my videotape. It is one thing to tour the incredible monuments filled with history in Washington, D.C. but it is quite another to get the kind of insight we received that night. When all had gathered around he reverently began to speak. Here are his words from that night:

"My name is James Bradley and I'm from Antigo, Wisconsin. My dad is on that statue, and I just wrote a book called Flags of Our Fathers which is #5 on the New York Times Best Seller list right now. It is the story of the six boys you see behind me. Six boys raised the flag. The first guy putting the pole in the ground is Harlon Block. Harlon was an all-state football player. He enlisted in the Marine Corps with all the senior members of his football team. They were off to play another type of game, a game called "War." But it didn't turn out to be a game. Harlon, at the age of twenty-one, died with his intestines in his hands. I don't say that to gross you out; I say that because there are generals who stand in front of this statue and talk about the glory of war. You guys need to know that most of the boys in Iwo Jima were seventeen, eighteen, and nineteen years old. (He pointed to the statue)

You see this next guy? That's Rene Gagnon from New Hampshire. If you took Rene's helmet off at the moment this photo was taken, and looked in the webbing of that helmet, you would find a photograph. A photograph of his girlfriend. Rene put that in there for protection, because he was scared. He was eighteen years old. Boys won the battle of Iwo Jima. Boys. Not old men.
The next guy here, the third guy in this tableau, was Sergeant Mike Strank. Mike is my hero. He was the hero of all these guys. They called him the "old man" because he was so old. He was already twenty-four. When Mike would motivate his boys in training camp, he didn't say, "Let's go kill the enemy" or "Let's die for our country." He knew he was talking to little boys. Instead he would say, "You do what I say, and I'll get you home to your mothers."

The last guy on this side of the statue is Ira Hayes, a Pima Indian from Arizona. Ira Hayes walked off Iwo Jima. He went into the White House with my dad. President Truman told him, "You're a hero." He told reporters, "How can I feel like a hero when 250 of my buddies hit the island with me and only twenty-seven of us walked off alive?"

So you take your class at school. 250 of you spending a year together having fun, doing everything together. Then all 250 of you hit the beach, but only twenty-seven of your classmates walk off alive. That was Ira Hayes. He had images of horror in his mind. Ira Hayes died dead drunk, face down at the age of thirty-two, ten years after this picture was taken.

The next guy, going around the statue, is Franklin Sousley from Hilltop, Kentucky, a fun-lovin' hillbilly boy. His best friend, who is now 70, told me, "Yeah, you know, we took two cows up on the porch of the Hilltop General Store. Then we strung wire across the stairs so the cows couldn't get down. Then we fed them Epson salts. Those cows crapped all night."

Yes, he was a fun-lovin' hillbilly boy. Franklin died on Iwo Jima at the age of nineteen. When the telegram came to tell his mother that he was dead, it went to the Hilltop General Store. A barefoot boy ran that telegram up to his mother's farm. The neighbors could hear her scream all night and into the morning. The neighbors lived a quarter of a mile away.

The next guy, as we continue to go around the statue, is my dad, John Bradley from Antigo, Wisconsin, where I was raised. My dad lived until 1994, but he would never give interviews. When Walter Cronkite's producers, or the New York Times would call, we were trained as little kids to say, "No, I'm sorry sir, my dad's not here. He is in Canada fishing. No, there is no phone there, sir. No, we don't know when he is coming back."

My dad never fished or even went to Canada. Usually he was sitting right there at the table eating his Campbell's soup, but we had to tell the press that he was out fishing. He didn't want to talk to the press. You see, my dad didn't see himself as a hero. Everyone thinks these guys are heroes, 'cause they are in a photo and a monument. My dad knew better. He was a medic. John Bradley from Wisconsin was a caregiver. In Iwo Jima he probably held over 200 boys as they died, and when boys died in Iwo Jima, they writhed and screamed in pain.

When I was a little boy, my third grade teacher told me that my dad was a hero. When I went home and told my dad that, he looked at me and said, "I want you always to remember that the heroes of Iwo Jima are the guys who did not come back. DID NOT come back."

So that's the story about six nice young boys. Three died on Iwo Jima, and three came back as national heroes. Overall, 7000 boys died on Iwo Jima in the worst battle in the history of the Marine Corps. My voice is giving out, so I will end here. Thank you for your time."

Suddenly the monument wasn't just a big old piece of metal with a flag sticking out of the top. It came to life before our eyes with the heartfelt words of a son who did indeed have a father who was a hero. Maybe not a hero in his own eyes, but a hero nonetheless.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

BOOK LAUNCH for RACHELLE CHRISTENSEN'S "CARVE ME A MELODY," Book Two in Her Music Box Series

It's always exciting to watch an author's eyes as they launch a new book. No matter how many they've previously published, each new book is indeed like introducing their newest baby to the world. It is a great delight to share in Rachelle J. Christensen's debut of book two in her  "Music Box" serie, which continues the beloved story she began with her award-winning "Soldier's Bride."

Read on and you'll find details on "Carve Me a Melody," as well as an exciting Rafflecopter giveaway! So without further adieu, I'll turn the reins over to Rachelle J. Christensen to introduce "Carve Me a Melody." Welcome, Rachelle!
* * *

Thanks, Laurie! And thank you to your readers for sharing this book launch with me!

Today is my book birthday and this is a very special day indeed! I am thrilled to introduce you to my 19th book baby, Carve Me a Melody.

I absolutely adore this cover capturing the essence of this novel. This book continues Leland's story from The Soldier's Bride. I had so many readers say that they wanted to know more about Leland and I'm so pleased to deliver this story!
Carve Me a Melody is available on all digital platforms, here's a universal link: https://books2read.com/u/bWKa07
It's also available in a special edition hardcover here.
I have a special launch giveaway too! You can enter to win one of three ebook copies of the first book in the series, The Soldier's Bride. Check out the rafflecopter giveaway below, but first, here's more about Carve Me a Melody.

From the award-winning author of the bestselling novel The Soldier’s Bride read the story of a carpenter who gave a music box to a young polio victim, but held the magic of the melody inside his heart.

He hesitated only half a second before lowering his head. There was something there, behind his eyes, in his soul. Something that seemed familiar to Sophie. She didn’t know Leland, but she recognized that haunted look in his eyes. He had lost someone. He had weathered the storm and still manned his ship, sailing forward through life.

Book blurb:

World War II has ended but the scars of the war have carved deep grooves in Sophie Wright’s heart. Now a widow with two young children, she returns home to Aspen Falls and meets Leland Halverson, a handsome carpenter who appears interested in her, but afraid of a relationship. 

Leland wishes he was worthy of the beautiful Sophie, and he adores her two children, but his past still haunts him. Sophie knows that Leland fell apart after his little girl died and his wife left him, but she doesn’t know the real reason why.

Meanwhile, David Alexander, a decorated bomber pilot has returned to Aspen Falls, and Sophie catches his eye. Confused by the two vastly different choices of men, Sophie searches for answers from a heart that has betrayed her before.

When Sophie discovers a message inside a music box that Leland once owned, the pieces start to fit together. The enchanting melody urges her to share the secrets of her heart so that she can understand his. Leland knows the tune from the music box well and if he can find the courage, he’ll carve a melody for Sophie from the solid wood surrounding his heart.



About the Author

Rachelle is a mother of five who writes mystery/suspense, nonfiction, and women’s fiction. She solves the case of the missing shoe on a daily basis. She enjoys raising chickens and laughing with her husband. She graduated cum laude from Utah State University with a degree in psychology and a minor in music.
Rachelle is the award-winning author of over a dozen books, including The Soldier’s Bride (a Kindle Scout Selection & Whitney Award Finalist), Diamond Rings Are Deadly Things, Veils and Vengeance, Proposals and Poison, Hawaiian Masquerade, What Every 6th Grader Needs to Know, and Christmas Kisses: An Echo Ridge Anthology. Her novella, “Silver Cascade Secrets,” was included in the Rone Award–winning Timeless Romance Anthology, Fall Collection.
Join Rachelle’s VIP mailing list to learn more about upcoming books & get your free book at www.rachellechristensen.com
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3327139.Rachelle_J_Christensen
Bookbub Page: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/rachelle-j-christensen
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/rachellewrites/

Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/101819706450209399973

Direct links to all of your favorite ebook stores that carry Carve Me a Melody

Enter to win one of three copies of the ebook, The Soldier's Bride, book #1 in the Music Box Romance series, Kindle Scout Winner & Whitney Award Finalist.
a Rafflecopter giveaway