Review of A Touch of the African Sun by P.H. Newall

This saga is led by that complex character von Tabis, a psychopath, whose monumental ego, and fantasies of power and grandeur, were given fortuitous reign by his unexpected transfer to tranquil Tanganyika (Tanzania) just before World War II. His South African co-conspirators who fell under the spell of von Tabis, illustrate how his charismatic and compelling personality stimulated their latent dreams and ambitions. A colourful diversity of characters adds atmosphere and mystery that is unique to Africa. Despite a remarkable degree of success towards his madcap schemes, von Tabis, blinded by reality, stumbles inexorably towards his ultimate destiny.

My Review

A Touch of the African Sun is a saga about a Nazi, von Tabis, a psychopath on a mission to advance himself in the party as well as make himself a wealthy man. He was crazy but charismatic, and those who conspired with him soon regretted it, but he was ruthless and once they were in, there was no going back. Even though his co-conspirators were unsavory, I had to feel sorry for them.

The novel is in three parts. The first part is about von Tabis and how he came to be in Africa and started his many enterprises, including building a small army and setting up restaurant/bar to gain information from the British clientele. What’s really crazy is the Nazi party funded his insane ideas.

The second part of the novel is about other characters who play an important part in eventually trying to take down von Tabis. And the third part is what transpires once everything comes together.

There are a lot of characters in this saga, but I had no trouble keeping up with them. Most of the Germans weren’t very likeable, but they were definitely interesting. I did like Heidi, the secretary that von Tabis “stole” from a co-worker. She had morals and was professional, and she didn’t deserve what happened to her. Some, but not all, of the British characters were more likeable.

I thought A Touch of the African Sun was amazing, and anyone who likes historical fiction will definitely enjoy it.

New Releases

A Touch of the African Sun

This saga is led by that complex character von Tabis, a psychopath, whose monumental ego, and fantasies of power and grandeur, were given fortuitous reign by his unexpected transfer to tranquil Tanganyika (Tanzania) just before World War II. His South African co-conspirators who fell under the spell of von Tabis, illustrate how his charismatic and compelling personality stimulated their latent dreams and ambitions. A colourful diversity of characters adds atmosphere and mystery that is unique to Africa. Despite a remarkable degree of success towards his madcap schemes, von Tabis, blinded by reality, stumbles inexorably towards his ultimate destiny.

Excerpt from the book:

“The gaunt, pasty sweating body lay quietly in the vast bed. Georgio was alarmed and took the weakening pulse. He realised that nothing short of a miracle could save Jeremy now. The sheets were sodden, but Jeremy’s lips were dry and cracked. Georgio tried lifting his head and helping him to some water, but his lips barely moved. Then suddenly he opened his eyes and gave Georgio a happy smile before again shutting them. He gave a heavy sigh and left this world to join his beloved Cynthia.

Karumba was stunned. He stood there silently, but huge tears coursed down his shiny black cheeks. Georgio lifted the sheet and pulled it over the dead man’s face.

“Where is Straker?” he demanded.

“I will fetch him, bwana,” said Karumba.

 He hurried from the room and across the yard to the manager’s house. He banged on the door, and Straker came bleary eyed to open it, his pyjamas hanging obscenely open in front as he fumbled with a threadbare dressing gown.

“What the bloody ‘ell are you doing waking me at this time of night, eh?”

“It’s Bwana Forbes,” said Karumba tearfully. “He is dead, bwana.”

“A Touch of the African Sun” by P. H. Newall is available in paperback from Amazon at:

This exceptional book is also available to download in e-book format from:

Press/Media Contact Details:

Darin Jewell (literary agent for P. H. Newall)
Tel. 0208 292 5163
E-mail: darin@theinspiragroup.com

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Memoirs of a British Bobby

PC155, Les Morris looks back over his time in the police force and how much things have changed over the years, not just in the force itself but in the wider world beyond.

Technology, communication, new laws and legislation have changed policing, almost beyond recognition, and this unique insight reveals much about how the force used to run and the changes that made it into the organisation we recognise today.

These memoirs are based on the personal experiences of a young man making his way through the ranks and those characters and challenges he meets along the way.

The author hopes the book will give anyone interested in joining the police force a real insight into the recent history of this organisation.

Two excerpts from the book:

“One of the first jobs I was given was to investigate the theft of eggs from a broody grouse. I had more success with the next incident, when I was sent to investigate the theft of a bayonet that had been taken from a school house at Wootton. I questioned a few boys and noticed that one of them kept avoiding me and refused to look me in the eye. He was 14 years old and a foster child under the care of one of the teachers. I took him aside to question on his own and he then admitted that he had taken the bayonet. I asked him to accompany me in the car so that he could show me where he had hidden it. We retrieved the bayonet and, after telling him how foolish he had been, I drove him home to his foster parents.  I was convinced that this was his first theft and told his foster parents of my decision not to take things further, but that I would be making a note of the event.  I then returned the bayonet to its rightful owner.” (pgs. 58 – 59)

“A call came through from a police sergeant at Oxford city to assist in the arrest of a murder suspect and I drove straight to Green Road in Kidlington. When the interim detective sergeant from Witney and our detective inspector arrived, I was already at the house. The inspector ordered a search of the premises and instructed the interim detective sergeant to arrest the man and take him to Woodstock Police Station. The necessary paperwork and charge sheet could be completed, as the suspect had admitted the offence. On questioning, the man, who was in his 60s, told us that he lived with his mother, who was in her 90s. She had taken to using her walking stick to lash out at him whenever he got anywhere near her. Finally, he had lost his temper and decided that he could take no more, so killed her by smothering her with a pillow.” (pg. 71)

“Memoirs of a British Bobby:  PC155 – Les Morris” is available in paperback from Amazon at:

www.amazon.co.uk/Memoirs-British-Bobby-PC155-Morris/dp/1786235994

Press/Media Contact Details:

Darin Jewell (literary agent for Les Morris)
Tel. 0208 292 5163
E-mail: darin@theinspiragroup.com

Book Review & Giveaway: The Christmas Eve Promise by Elyse Douglas

Christmas Eve Promise: Time Travel Novel (Christmas Eve Series, Book 4) by Elyse Douglas

Publisher:  Broadback (September, 2020)
Category: Time Travel, Historical Fiction, Romance, Christmas

ISBN:
Available in Print and ebook,  405 pages

Eve and baby Colleen are traveling to Ohio for the Christmas holidays to spend time with Eve’s parents.

After a few days in Ohio, they all plan to fly to Florida in Eve’s father’s private airplane.  Patrick will meet them there after he completes exams for his forensic psychology degree.

Nothing goes as planned.  The day Patrick is to leave for Florida, he receives a shocking telephone call from one of Eve’s cousins.  Sobbing, she tells him a terrible tragedy has occurred.  It stuns him and shakes him to his heart’s core.

His life shattered, Patrick knows he has but one chance:  he must use the time travel lantern to return to the past in order to prevent the current tragedy.

But once again, the time travel lantern has a mind of its own, and Patrick is hurled back to a time where he must confront a strange, unfamiliar world and learn why the lantern transported him there.

When Patrick comes face-to-face with a mysterious, beautiful woman who looks and acts like Eve, and whose name is Eve, Patrick is haunted.

He recalls the promise he and Eve had made to each other on Christmas Eve the previous year—no matter what happens; no matter if they’re separated; no matter what time or place they find themselves in; no matter what obstacles they must face, they will always find each other, help each other, and love each other for all time.

The Christmas Eve Promise is a journey about the enduring promise of hope and the infinite, unbreakable bonds of love.

Amazon

Guest Review by Sal

She raised her glass to his. “I want both of us to promise that no matter what happens to us; no matter if we’re separated; no matter what time or place we find ourselves in; no matter what obstacles we face, we will always find each other, help each other and love each other, for all time.”

‘The Christmas Eve Promise’ is the fourth book in the ‘Christmas Eve’ series by the husband and wife writing team known as Elyse Douglas and, in my opinion, the best one yet.
This series, about a married couple who meet via a lantern that allows the user to time travel, has everything I love in a book. Between the romance, the time travel aspect and the mystery, I always end up loving every page of the books in this series, and this one was no different.


This book begins with a promise. On Christmas Eve 2019, Eve asks Patrick to promise that they will always find each other and always love each other, no matter what time period their lantern brings them to. The following Christmas, Eve and their new baby daughter, Colleen go on a trip to visit Eve’s parents in Ohio and then on a flight on her father’s plane. Unfortunately, during the trip they are both killed in a plane crash, along with Eve’s parents. Devastated, Patrick decides to use the lantern to go back in time to rescue them, but, of course, the lantern seems to have a mind of it’s own and it sends him back to 1925 instead.

 In trying to decide what to do next, Patrick accidentally stumbles across a woman who looks and acts exactly like Eve and even has a similar name—Evelyn. Are Eve and Evelyn the same person? Will Patrick be able to save his wife and child? These are questions you’ll have to read the book to find out. And believe me, you won’t regret it. This one captivated me and left me unable to put it down. I hope there are lots more to come in this wonderful series!

Praise Christmas Eve Series by Elyse Douglas

“The Christmas Eve Letter is a beautiful, poignant story. It is well written and will have you turning the pages eagerly.
All of the characters are well thought out, and believably written, together with the well-constructed scenery, that has you feeling as if you yourself have just stepped into the past.
The story is unique and moving. It will hold you long after you turn the last page. A perfect Christmas tale of love and hope.”-Whispering Stories

“This book is the perfect vehicle for a movie, and I can only hope that there will be more in the series. This novel is truly as close to perfection as the reader could imagine! 5 Stars!”–My Devotional Thoughts Blog and Reviews

“I enjoyed the new characters, an update on characters from the first book, and the possibility for more books.  If you enjoy time travel-themed novels you will love these books!”–StoreyBook Reviews

“I am most impressed that this book did so well as a stand-alone novel. Kudos to the author! If you are looking for a good Christmas book with time travel, give this a go!”–Carole’s Bookshelves

“I love this whole story, and I especially love Patrick and Eve’s romance and all of the adventures that they go on together. Eve is exactly my kind of character.  I still can’t stop thinking about the feeling that it gave me and the arc that the characters went on. Everyone really developed a lot in this story and it was so rewarding as a long-time reader to watch that happen. It feels like every new book in this series just keeps getting better and better and I love these characters more and more. Every time a new one comes out I feel like a kid on Christmas morning.
The Christmas Eve Secret is my favorite in the series so far, but if you have not read the first two books I would recommend doing that as soon as possible! If you enjoy romance, time travel, mystery and great writing, I promise that you won’t regret dipping a toe into this series.”–Cuzinlogic

About the Authors

Elyse Douglas is the pen name for the married writing team Elyse Parmentier and Douglas Pennington. Elyse grew up near the sea, roaming the beaches, reading and writing stories and poetry, receiving a master’s degree in English Literature.  She has enjoyed careers as an English teacher, an actress and a speech-language pathologist.

Douglas has worked as a graphic designer, a corporate manager and an equities trader.  He attended the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music and played the piano professionally for many years.

Website: www.elysedouglas.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/douglaselyse
Facebook: www.facebook.com/elyse.authorsdouglas

Giveaway

This giveaway is for 1 copy for 3 winners. Print is is open to the U.S. and Canada only and ebook is open worldwide. This giveaway ends November 26, 2020,midnight pacific time.

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Book Review: Hamilton’s Choice by Jack Casey

Honor did NOT require Hamilton to accept Burr’s challenge to his fatal duel.

He’d come close to dueling seven times before—twice with Aaron Burr—but always talked his way out. So why, with his political future never more promising, a new home just built and a loving family of eight to support would Alexander Hamilton choose to face Burr’s pistol at ten paces?

In 1804 New England Federalists planned to secede from the union, and they supported Burr in his race for governor so he’d bring New York into their “Northern Confederacy.” Hamilton had retired from politics after his son Philip died in a duel two years before, but he feared this threat to split the union. Against the wishes of his wife, Hamilton worked covertly to defeat Burr, and Burr lost so badly he could never run for public office again. Burr wanted revenge, and believed a duel would restore his stature.

For 215 years historians theorized that Hamilton accepted Burr’s challenge to preserve his honor. But history provides a far deeper motive. Read Hamilton’s Choice to find out why the life of America’s most brilliant founding father ended so tragically.

My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free e-copy from the author. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

Historical fiction based on facts is one of my favorite genres. When I saw Hamilton’s Choice, it intrigued me, and I had to read it! I was not disappointed.

Everyone knows that Alexander Hamilton was killed by Aaron Burr in a duel, but there’s so much more to the story. Hamilton’s son, Philip, was killed in a duel just two years before that by a Burr supporter. The incident that caused Philip’s duel is where Hamilton’s Choice begins.

When I hear the word “duel,” I think of two men facing off and one possibly being killed. Jack Casey brings that to life, though, with the thoughts of both men during the duel, and then the heartbreaking aftermath. In fact, I had to stop reading several times after the duel between Hamilton and Burr because I was crying.

The sections between the two duels are about Hamilton’s family life, Burr’s antics and his many failures, and politics. Politics usually bore me but I was fascinated how different some things were, yet how similar politicians were to today. I didn’t know that only real estate owners could vote for New York governor.

I liked the descriptions in this book. They were done so that I could visualize, but they weren’t so long that I tired of them.

The characters are brought back to life in Hamilton’s Choice. They’re well-defined and their struggles are related well. Hamilton’s turmoil while waiting for the duel, trying to figure a way out of it while still keeping his honor, was recounted effectively. He and his son were both so stubborn!

I definitely recommend Hamilton’s Choice. I’m going to have to check out more of Jack Casey’s books.

About the Author

JACK CASEY has handled civil, criminal and constitutional cases in his solo law practice for the last thirty years. He also counseled New York State legislators, and watched as ambitious politicians rose and fell. Casey now brings his insider’s perspective to the rivalry between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. In “Hamilton’s Choice,” his fifth historical novel, Casey dramatizes the last three years of Hamilton’s life, and advances a new motive for Hamilton to accept Burr’s challenge and attend the fatal duel.

Casey graduated with honors from Yale University and Albany Law School, and has studied literature at Edinburgh and Cambridge Universities.

Audiobook Review: River of Light and Shadow by Allen Kent

After mob violence threatens their lives, they flee to the wilderness

During Missouri’s Mormon Wars of the mid-1800s, the Whitlock family seeks to escape mob violence on the state’s western frontier by hiding in the rugged north Missouri wilderness where the Hill Spring Trail crosses the Chariton River. Here, in constant fear of discovery, David Whitlock meets and falls in love with Suzanna Shattuck, the independent and spirited daughter of a nearby settler.

>>Drawn together by love, divided by different worlds

As David and Suzanna struggle with their growing passion for each other and with the differences that separate their families, two other figures move inescapably toward each other and the young couple. In Jefferson City, legislator Jacob Randall champions the cause of Missouri’s outcasts while Sheck Rogers, a self-appointed Mormon hunter, roams the state murdering and mutilating those he suspects of belonging to a church against which the Governor has issued an extermination order.

>>>In this entrancing historical novel of love, fear, courage and redemption, two young lovers seek to find themselves and each other in Missouri’s untamed wilderness.

Their families struggle to survive the politics and passions of one of the nation’s most tumultuous periods. River of Light and Shadow touches the deepest recesses of the heart while provoking, inspiring and teaching in ways that characterize the best historical fiction. 

My Review

I chose to listen to this book after receiving a free audio copy from the author. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

I’ve enjoyed historical fiction since I was a young teen and my dad suggested I read Blood Brother by Elliott Arnold. I’ve read quite a bit about early America, but this is the first book I’ve read about the Mormons and what they had to endure before they found their home in Utah.

This is the love story of David and Suzanna and the many obstacles they have to overcome. Luckily, Suzanna’s father is a sensible man, and he gives them his blessing even though he knows that David being a Mormon may cause difficulties.

The characters of David and Suzanna portray innocence and goodness. They make a life for themselves and even though they’re mostly happy where they are, I figured eventually David will feel the need to find a Mormon settlement.

The narrator did a good job. I was able to keep the different characters separate and the timing and pace were good.

I’m looking forward to listening to the second book in the series soon.

About the Author

Allen Kent is the author of the popular “Unit 1” thriller series, the Whitlock Trilogy in historical fiction, and a number of other mysteries and action novels. His books are published in electronic form by Kindle Press and in paperback by AllenPearce Publishers. He lives and writes in rural southwest Missouri.

Kent is a former Air Force pilot and educator who spent four years of his early life living in Iran and England. He has traveled and worked extensively in Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia – experiences that are often reflected in his writing.
Writing as Kent Farnsworth, Kent has also published two works of non-fiction: “Grassroots School Reform” and “Leadership as Service.”

He and his wife Holly are avid travelers, gardeners, and conservationists, and live in an eco-friendly home near the community of Neosho.

Website: http://www.allenkentbooks.com

Book Review & Giveaway: A Place Called Jubilee by Timothy J. Garrett

Place Called Jubilee by Timothy J. Garrett

Place Called Jubilee by Timothy J. Garrett

Publisher:  Rock Yard Books (February 26,  2019)
Category: Historical Fiction, Suspense
Tour dates: March, 2020
ISBN: 978-0578471235
Available in Print and ebook, 247 pages

Place Called Jubilee

Description

Deception, witchcraft, and the secrets of a long-dead former slave churn the life of ambitious young clergyman Coleman Hightower – even as fear, bombings, and riots rock the nation.

Historical novel A PLACE CALLED JUBILEE tells Coleman’s story as he leaves his mountain home and arrives in Washington D.C. in 1961 as the Civil Rights movement explodes across America. Coleman’s plans for a prestigious life are torn apart by his forbidden longing for beautiful and fiery activist Rosalee.

His search for meaning turns into a desperate journey that takes him and the woman of his dreams all the way to Jubilee, Alabama – a place where intrigue, betrayal, and murder combine to make Coleman wonder if he will win Rosalee’s love or even leave the tiny town alive.

Guest Review by Sol A.

An absolutely powerful story about protest, civil rights, religion, love, ancestry and being true to yourself above all else. This book took me on a journey that I was not expecting, but one that I was very happy to be taken on. When I started reading, I thought this would be a straightforward historical fiction about a time in history that I wasn’t very familiar with. Boy, was I wrong.

This book was magical for me, in more ways than one. I found myself unable to put it down throughout and ended up reading it through very quickly and feeling a sense of sadness when it was over.

Without spoiling too much, the gist of the story involves a white pastor-in-training, Father Coleman, who meets and falls in love with a black woman around the time of the Civil Rights movement in the U.S. Coleman is torn between his love for the woman, Rosalee, his calling as a pastor and his need to stay impartial in his personal politics. The scope of the story travels from Georgia and Washington D.C. all the way to Alabama as Coleman searches for meaning and seeks out how to follow his own personal truth.

The writing in this novel was breathtaking and so well-researched that I became fully immersed in the story with no need for respite. The fullness of Garrett’s writing was both intimate in its look at the human mind and global in its usage of the American south. At times I forgot that I was reading a book and actually thought that I was watching a movie because the atmosphere was so riveting. I recommend this one very highly to anyone who is interested in well-written historical fiction.

Praise for A Place Called Jubilee

Notable Indie #1 in the Shelf Unbound Magazine 2019 Best Indie Book Awards.

“A very dark time in our history.  Not my usual type of read but could not put it down when I got started. Felt like I was right there in the story. Great read.”-Janice, Goodreads

“Highly Recommend.  Loved this book. I feel I really got to know the characters. Waiting for a sequel.”-LM, Amazon

“I couldn’t put this book down.  I love historical fiction and suspense. This book gave me both. The characters were well developed, the vocabulary was challenging and the descriptive language drew me in.”-CH, Amazon

About the Author

Place Called Jubilee by Timothy J. Garrett

Award winning author, Timothy J. Garrett lives with his wife Cynthia in his native northeast Georgia where he spent 16 years working as an E.R. physician and is now a healthcare executive. History and historical fiction are his writing passions though his influences include Southern gothic luminaries like Cormac McCarthy, William Faulkner, and Flannery O’Connor.

While Tim has written extensively for the healthcare industry, the award-winning A PLACE CALLED JUBILEE is his first published novel.

Website: http://timothyjgarrett.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drtimjgarrett
Twitter: https://twitter.com/drtimjgarrett

Buy A Place Called Jubilee

Amazon
Barnes&Noble
IndieBound

Giveaway

This giveaway is for the winner’s choice of print or ebook however, print is open to Canada and the U.S. only and ebook is available worldwide. There will be 3 winners. This giveaway ends April 22, 2020,midnight pacific time.

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Follow the Tour

Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus Mar 3 Kickoff & Interview

Lorraine Amazon Mar 4 Review

Emily The Many thoughts of a reader Mar 5 Review

Lu Ann Rockin’ Book Reviews Mar 6 Review & Guest Post

O1Goodreads Mar 9 Review

Bookgirl Goodreads Mar 11 Review

Dawn Bound 4 Escape Mar 13 Guest Review

Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus Mar 16 Review

Dee Donadee’s Corner Mar 18 Review

Susan Amazon Mar 20 Review

Jas International Book Reviews Mar 24 Review & Interview

Kathleen Celticlady’s Reviews Mar 27 Review

Betty Toots Book Reviews Apr 3 Review & Excerpt

Gud Reader Goodreads Apr 8 Review

Mindy Room Without Books is Empty Apr 21 Review

Elizabeth Amazon Apr 22 Review

Place Called Jubilee by Timothy J. Garrett

Guest Post by Tagai Tarutin, author of Hellalyle and Hildebrand

On perusing a publication of Irish history, I came across a painting by the artist, Frederick William Burton, titled “The Meeting on the Turret Steps.” The image of the composition left such an indelible impression on me I kept visualising scenes based upon the mediaeval Danish Ballad from which the picture`s narrative derived. Very soon, I began to record my thoughts, greatly expanding the original story; titling it “Hellalyle and Hildebrand”. It took considerable time constructing the narrative because I wanted to create something not done before. I borrowed and intertwined phenomena latent to the Bible: principally, the Old Testament. As time passed, I was driven onwards by imagination to impart in the text, the involvement of some of the great artists of the Renaissance, along with renowned figures from Ancient Greece.

It became an adventure of the mediaeval period, centred on a kingdom of Eastern Europe, bordering on Kievan Russia. Endeavouring to bring into the story people from Europa, Asia, and a brief mention of geographical locations, such as the Altai, and Ural Mountains, and the Caspian Sea area. Most importantly for me, I have given the animal kingdom- the natural world, a presence in the tragic story as it unfolds; the timely saviours of the princess’s soul.       

 The book is primarily a love story between the knight Hildebrand and Princess Hellalyle with the dialogue kept to a minimum, for, I am sure, the spoken word of 800 years ago, the sentence construction, would have been radically different from that of today.

In a land near the Baltic and Kievan Rus dwelled an innocent young noblewoman, a gifted lady like no other, whose presence, a legend in her lifetime, set the standard of womanhood against which all others are judged. 

Her father the king, urgently required at the extreme edge of the kingdom, must leave behind his beloved daughter in a now inadequately defended castle. He decides to enlist twelve knights from across Europe to be her bodyguard, to protect her until his return.

The leader of these knights wins her heart – an attraction engineered by the spirits of Arcadia.

However, their love contradicts the chivalric order and displeases the king, setting in motion a tragedy for the soldier and the princess.

The heroic actions of a Teutonic knight carrying a terrible war wound, and the brave efforts of a diminutive, disabled servant girl, her affliction wrought at conception, strive to bring positive closure to this ancient saga.

About Tagai Tarutin

“Hellalyle and Hildebrand” is his first completed novel. There are two others of a completely different genre, that lie unfinished, awaiting inspiration.
He has worked most of his life in sales but has always had an interest in Arts and Humanities. Things that are beautiful and appealing play an essential part in his imagination.
Besides travelling in West Europe, he has journeyed to the far South Atlantic, and European Russia, anxious to see parts of the world that are for many mystical destinations on a historical map.

Website: https://www.hellalyleandhildebrand.com/

Guest Post: My Journey in Writing & Publishing by Andrew Joyce

My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. Dawn has been kind enough to allow me a little space on her blog to promote my new book, Mahoney. I thought it might be interesting to any new writers out there if I talked about my journey in general and the publishing business in particular.

I sold one of my first short stories and it was published in an anthology of short fiction entitled The Best of 2011. Since then I have written seven books. Several have become best-sellers on Amazon and two went on to win awards in their genres.

My first book, Yellow Hair, was a 164,000-word historical novel. And in the publishing world, anything over 80,000 words for a first-time author is heresy. Or so I was told time and time again when I approached an agent for representation. After two years of research and writing and a year of trying to secure the services of an agent, I got angry. To be told that my efforts were meaningless was somewhat demoralizing, to say the least. I mean, those rejections were coming from people who had never even read my book.

So you want an 80,000-word novel?” I said to no one in particular, unless you count my dog, because he was the only one around at the time. Consequently, I decided to show them City Slickers that I could write an 80,000-word novel!

I had just finished reading Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn for the third time, and I started thinking about what ever happened to those boys, Tom and Huck. They must have grown up, but then what? So I sat down at my computer and banged out Redemption: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer in two months. I had them as adults in the Old West. Then I sent out query letters to literary agents.

A few weeks later, the chairman of one of the biggest agencies in the country emailed me. He loved the story and suggested a few changes. They were good suggestions, and I incorporated some of them into the book. We signed a contract and it was off to the races, or so I thought. But then the real fun began: the serious editing. Seven months later, I gave birth to Huck and Tom as adults. The book went on to reach #1 status in its category on Amazon (twice) and won the Editor’s Choice Award for Best Western of 2013. And just for the record, the final word count was 79,914.

My readers really enjoyed the book. So I ended up writing two sequels, one of which reached #5 in its category on Amazon. Then I turned my attention to my first novel, the one I couldn’t sell to an agent. I whittled it down from 164,000 words to 132,000 and published it myself. It won Book of the Year from one outfit and Best Historical Fiction of 2016 from another.

Now that I’ve established my bona fides, I’ll tell you what I’ve learned along the way. It might help you with your writing career or it might not. I hope it does.

The first piece of advice I received from a fellow writer (while I was writing my first novel) was that the process of writing is what’s important. Not the dreams of becoming a best-selling author. Not the certainty that Hollywood would come a-knocking on my door, begging me to let them turn my book into a movie. No, what is important, according to my friend, is the act of creating.

Of course, I did not believe him. I was going to be the next Stephen King, and I was already (figuratively speaking) picking out a tuxedo to wear to the Academy Awards. I was not going to self-publish. I was going to get an agent and get published by one of the Big Five Publishing Houses.

I did everything I had to do. I spent ten hours a day, seven days a week sitting at my computer, writing. When the book was finished, I spent ten hours a day sending out query letters to agents. When the book was rejected because of word count, I wrote another, shorter novel. When it was accepted and published, I spent ten hours a day sending out emails (over 3,000) to book bloggers (each addressed to the blogger by name, and that takes a lot of work) requesting an opportunity to write a Guest Post for the purpose of marketing my book. Then writing the Guest Posts took up another serious chunk of time. To date, I’ve written well over three hundred Guest Posts. At first, the rate of return was not much. But once I worked with a blogger, they were more apt to respond positively when I came to them for help in marketing my next book.

Side note: Even Stephen King has to market his own books. He puts aside $200,000 of his own money to buy advertising for each book he writes.

Now, ten years later, I know that my friend was right, plain and simple.

My agent and I have since gone our separate ways. His client roster included some of the most famous authors in the world who, combined, sell millions of books a month. Understandably, he was more focused on them than me, so I set out on my own.

I love writing. I used to hate editing, but now I like it. And I really hate marketing. This kind of marketing is okay because I’m writing. Before I wrote my latest novel, I came to a decision. I was going to write Mahoney for myself. I had a story I wanted to tell and I wanted to tell it in my own way. I didn’t care if the book sold or not. It’s a long story (171,000 words). I was told time and time again that I should make it into a trilogy. But that’s not what I wanted. I ended up doing it my way and it worked out pretty well.

This post has gone on a little bit longer than expected. So, I better wrap it up. Here’s my advice for all you new or aspiring writers:

  • Sit down at your computer and write. Let the words flow. You have to have the fire in the belly. Turn off the TV. Better yet, throw it out the window.
  • Write for yourself. Enjoy the process.
  • If you want, try to get an agent. But do your homework. Learn how to write a killer query letter. And never approach an agent until your book is finished and 110% edited!!!
  • There’s a lot to be said for self-publishing. Here’s an article you should check out.
  • Read, read, and then read some more. Read everything you can get your hands on! Reading to a writer is as medical school is to a doctor, as physical training is to an athlete … as breathing is to life.
  • NEVER, EVER RESPOND TO A NEGATIVE REVIEW. Do so at your own risk.

That’s about it. Good luck in your endeavors.

Andrew Joyce
August, 2019
Gloucester, Massachusetts

In this compelling, richly researched novel, author Andrew Joyce tells a riveting story of adventure, endurance, and hope as the Mahoney clan fights to gain a foothold in America.

In the second year of an Gorta Mhór—the Great Famine—nineteen-year-old Devin Mahoney lies on the dirt floor of his small, dark cabin. He has not eaten in five days. His only hope of survival is to get to America, the land of milk and honey. After surviving disease and storms at sea that decimate crew and passengers alike, Devin’s ship limps into New York Harbor three days before Christmas, 1849. Thus starts an epic journey that will take him and his descendants through one hundred and fourteen years of American history, including the Civil War, the Wild West, and the Great Depression.

Available on Amazon.

August 24 & 25 only 99¢

About the Author

Andrew Joyce left home at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until years later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written seven books. His first novel, Redemption: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, was awarded the Editors’ Choice Award for Best Western of 2013. A subsequent novel, Yellow Hair, received the Book of the Year award from Just Reviews and Best Historical Fiction of 2016 from Colleen’s Book Reviews.

Website

Book Review: This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

For fans of Before We Were Yours and Where the Crawdads Sing, a magnificent novel about four orphans on a life-changing odyssey during the Great Depression, from the New York Times bestselling author of Ordinary Grace

1932, Minnesota—the Lincoln School is a pitiless place where hundreds of Native American children, forcibly separated from their parents, are sent to be educated. It is also home to an orphan named Odie O’Banion, a lively boy whose exploits earn him the superintendent’s wrath. Forced to flee, he and his brother Albert, their best friend Mose, and a brokenhearted little girl named Emmy steal away in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi and a place to call their own.

Over the course of one unforgettable summer, these four orphans will journey into the unknown and cross paths with others who are adrift, from struggling farmers and traveling faith healers to displaced families and lost souls of all kinds. With the feel of a modern classic, This Tender Land is an en­thralling, big-hearted epic that shows how the magnificent American landscape connects us all, haunts our dreams, and makes us whole.

Publication date Sept. 3: Pre-order on Amazon

My Review

I chose to review this book after requesting a free advanced reading copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

It’s been a while since I read historical fiction even though it’s one of my favorite genres. The description of This Tender Land caught my eye, and I had a feeling I’d like it. I didn’t just like it. I thought it was amazing.

The story takes places in the 1930s during the Great Depression. Odie and his brother are orphans and living in a school for Indians even though they obviously are not Indians. The school has a good reputation, but its conditions are deplorable. Eventually, they have to run away with Mose, another student, and Emmy, a young neighbor girl who has just been orphaned. The situation is getting worse for Odie but, more importantly, they feel they have to save Emmy from the superintendent whose nickname is appropriately the Black Witch.

The four children head from Minnesota to St. Louis by river. Although the story sounds a bit like Huck Finn, there’s a lot more to it. They have an adventure of a lifetime and they all grow and change and learn a lot about themselves. After the children went through so much, I was wondering if the ending would be gratifying. Absolutely!

Not only is This Tender Land a good tale, but the author’s descriptions are so good that I could picture everything the children encountered as they went down the river in the canoe: the revival tent, the people, the shanty towns, and so much more. I also appreciated the research that the author did about our history, not only in the 1930s but about the Sioux.

This is the first book that I’ve read by William Kent Krueger but it definitely won’t be the last.

About the Author

Raised in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon, William Kent Krueger briefly attended Stanford University—before being kicked out for radical activities. After that, he logged timber, worked construction, tried his hand at freelance journalism, and eventually ended up researching child development at the University of Minnesota. He currently makes his living as a full-time author. He’s been married for over 40 years to a marvelous woman who is an attorney. He makes his home in St. Paul, a city he dearly loves.

Krueger writes a mystery series set in the north woods of Minnesota. His protagonist is Cork O’Connor, the former sheriff of Tamarack County and a man of mixed heritage—part Irish and part Ojibwe. His work has received a number of awards, including the Minnesota Book Award, the Loft-McKnight Fiction Award, the Anthony Award, the Barry Award, the Dilys Award, and the Friends of American Writers Prize. His last five novels were all New York Times bestsellers.

Website: http://www.williamkentkrueger.com/
Twitter: WmKentKrueger

Guest Book Review & Giveaway: Mrs. Rossi’s Dream by Khanh Ha

Mrs. Rossi’s Dream by Khanh HaMrs. Rossi’s Dream by Khanh Ha

Publisher:  The Permanent Press (March 1, 2019)
Category: Historical Fiction, Vietnam, Literary Fiction, Multicultural
Tour dates: Mar-Apr, 2019
ISBN: 978-1579625689
Available in Print and ebook, 312 pages

Mrs. Rossi’s Dream

 

 

Description 

“I live in a coastal town in the deep south of the Mekong Delta. During the war this was IV Corps, which saw many savage fights. Although the battles might have long been forgotten, some places cannot forget.”

Thus begins the harrowing yet poignant story of a North Vietnamese communist defector who spends ten years in a far-flung reform prison after the war, and now, in 1987, a free man again, finds work as caretaker at a roadside inn in the U Minh region. One day new guests arrived at the inn: an elderly American woman and her daughter, an eighteen-year-old Vietnamese girl adopted at the age of five from an orphanage in the Mekong Delta before the war ended. Catherine Rossi has come to this region to find the remains of her son, a lieutenant who went missing-in-action during the war.

“Mrs. Rossi’s Dream” tells the stories of two men in time parallel: Giang, the 39-year-old war veteran; Nicola Rossi, a deceased lieutenant in the U.S. army, the voice of a spirit.

From the haunting ugliness of the Vietnam War, the stories of these two men shout, cry and whisper to us the voices of love and loneliness, barbarity and longing, lived and felt by a multitude of people from all walks of life: the tender adolescent vulnerability of a girl toward a man who, as a drifter and a war-hardened man, draws beautifully in his spare time; the test of love and faith endured by a mother whose dogged patience even baffles the local hired hand who thinks the poor old lady must have gone out of her mind; and whose determination drives her into the spooky forest, rain or shine, until one day she claims she has sensed an otherworldly presence in there with her. In the end she wishes to see, just once, a river the local Vietnamese call “The River of White Water Lilies,” the very river her son saw, now that all her hopes to find his remains die out.

Just then something happens. She finds out where he has lain buried for twenty years?and how he was killed.

 

 

Awards 

Parts of the book were previously published in literary magazines and became finalists for the following awards:

2016 Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction (Sarabande Books)

2016 Many Voices Project (New Rivers Press)

2016 Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction (Prairie Schooner)

2015 William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Award (Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society)

A short story adapted from the book won the 2013 Robert Watson Literary Prize in Fiction (The Greensboro Review)

 

 

Guest Review by Nora S.

Memories are a funny thing. Sometimes they can take you back to a different time and place so effectively that they feel like time travel. Such is the case for the characters in Khanh Ha’s book, “Mrs. Rossi’s Dream.” It is a book about a group of characters who are tortured and influenced by the past in many ways. 

Take for instance, the character of Giang Le. Despite not being the title character, he is the main character of the novel as the reader is most often given his perspective on things. Giang is a fairly peaceful and low-key Vietnamese man who works at a roadside inn. But through his recollections about his past, we find out that he was a prisoner of war during the conflict in his country and that he was imprisoned for ten years by his own government for defecting.
 
Giang is such a soft-spoken man in his everyday life that the flashbacks to his time as a youth and during the war serve almost as a window into his soul for the reader. Here is a man who has seen so much suffering and so many terrible things but you’d never know it from talking to him. 

Alternatively, Mrs. Rossi is a character who tends to speak her mind and be forthright at all times. She tells Giang very quickly after meeting him about her quest to find her soldier son’s remains in the jungle and stays determined throughout most of the novel that she will succeed in her objective. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the perspectives of both characters as well as the interspersed chapters where we got the perspective of Mrs. Rossi’s son, Nicola. 
I found this book to be a worthwhile and fascinating read and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a well written novel. I promise you’ll enjoy it. I don’t give out a 5 star review very often but this book deserves that plus so much more.

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