The Burgundy Briefcase


THE BOOK: The Burgundy Briefcase.

Burgundy BriefcasePUBLISHED IN: 2015.

THE AUTHOR: Roberta Burton.

THE EDITOR: Adrian Fogelin, Heather Whitaker, and Gina Edwards.

THE PUBLISHER: Southern Yellow Pine Publishing has published a number of award winning books and helps its authors market their books.

SUMMARY:  After the death of her husband, Lee moves forward with her life—or, so she thinks. Instead, she finds herself repeating the same mistakes with Frank that she made in past relationships.

While working on her doctorate, she learns about those old patterns and begins to understand her relationship is a sham. Her progression through the doctoral program is threatened by double messages and false promises. She must respond by confronting her professor and Frank’s bizarre behavior. Are they connected? What does it all mean? Will she get what she wants or what she needs?

THE BACK STORY: While still in graduate school, my friends kept telling me I needed to write a self-help book. Since I don’t learn very well when someone tells me what’s wrong with me, I decided to write a novel and show the reader how life can change when we change our thoughts and our behavior. My doctoral program and the clients and patients I have seen over the years provided my research. I began writing bits and pieces in 2008 and completed the book in 2014. Because I needed to relearn how to write creatively instead of academically, I took advice from everyone with an opinion. I ended up rewriting the entire novel three times changing tenses and points of view with each rewrite.

WHY THIS TITLE?: There is a story behind this title. I was in a workshop where the presenter had us write a scene using a metaphor. I chose a briefcase to represent the place where Lee stores all the things she will think about or deal with later.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? The people who read and like The Burgundy Briefcase seem to be people who are looking for answers about the meanings of their lives. Since the novel is written with a 12-Step prospective, people, with addictions or who are or have been around someone with an addiction tend to like it. Anyone who is or has been in an abusive relationship finds meaning in the book.Roberta Burton


* By rokinrev: “The author, a therapist herself, has written a “grande drama” of a book that readers will connect with viscerally.”

* By DFM: “I loved this book. It was really a help to me in understanding some of the relationships I have had in the past. When I was asked what I like to read I used to laugh and say “sex and psychology.” This book has it all. Hated for it to end.”

* By: A Human Being: “This book could be of great value, perhaps even a life-saver, to people

AUTHOR PROFILE: Besides having a master’s in clinical psychology and a doctorate in marriage and family therapy, I hold also a private pilot’s license. I am an avid reader, even been known to read labels when nothing else was available. My other interests include alternative healing modalities, spirituality, quantum physics, and philosophy. I continue to take classes in these subjects. One of my long-held beliefs is that I am responsible for the choices I make. And, on a good day, I believe that everything is exactly as it should be at this moment in time.

Like Lee, my biggest strength is also my biggest weakness. Tenacity kept me writing for six years on one book and keeps me holding on to ideas, relationships, and anything else long after I need to let go. My biggest aha moment was the discovery that all my writing has been about my search for meaning.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: When I began thinking of this book, I wanted a story that would help others see how they can change their lives. By the end, my motivation proved to be my search for the meaning in my life. Yes, even fiction can bring out those hidden beliefs.



There comes a pivotal moment when one’s life will be forever changed. This was such a moment for Lee Lindsey.

Sylva, North Carolina, April 22, 1991

You ducked into the coma just in time, didn’t you, Alex? I crawl into bed with you. Then, the Lindseys descend. Your mother parks on the chair beside the bed, your father at the foot. I clutch your arm like my favorite childhood teddy bear while your mother brags about your brother’s exploits, and your father grunts agreement.

My heart cries as I remember your whisper at the door of your brother’s home. “You are about to meet my parents’ only child.”

From your coma, I know you hear your mother, and my heart cracks.

I feel your chest muscles tighten as she bows her head and lets it rest near your groin. I cringe. The odor of rubbing alcohol seeps under the door. “He doesn’t want your head there.”

She sits up. Your body relaxes. The mind-body-spirit workshop I took two weeks ago awakens my awareness of minute changes in your muscles. You already know that, don’t you?

The hospice nurse enters and takes your vital signs. Your dad reads a newspaper he found discarded in the waiting room. Your mother clicks on the bedside lamp, and afternoon settles into evening. She sits in silence, hands folded in her lap. Are you as grateful for her silence as I am?

Almost midnight. Suddenly, you sit straight up and look at your father. I recognize the

I take five slow, deep breaths. My jaw relaxes.

I eat the overly sweet crème-filled doughnut. Knowing how you hate crumbs in the bed, I’ll finish it before I sit with you. Ah, you’re taking another breath. I’ll wait until the social worker leaves before I go to you.

I stare at the sugary remnants on the cafeteria plate. During these final weeks, we have bared our souls and said everything we needed to say. I felt as if my skin peeled away and exposed my heart. Yet, you never turned away.

I watch and wait. You breathe in just the way you always do.

You’re in control and have everyone’s attention while I subsist on sugar. I won’t let myself feel. Not in front of other people.

What is the social worker saying to you? Her with her accusing looks in my direction.

You breathe out.

You don’t breathe in. Another pause?

No breath in.

You look so peaceful. No more pain. No more agony. I know you’re still here with me.

It’s as if everyone in the waiting room simultaneously understands that you are dead. Friends and family come in and make stiff or tearful goodbyes, then retreat.

Time to call your brother? No, your best friend will do it; he’s in the hallway. He promised to call friends and co-workers. Will your brother inform your daughters? He said he would. My love, you continue to make life easier for me, even in death. I have to call my family.

The nurse’s aide arrives to prepare your body. “I will do it,” as I place a protective hand on the sheet.

She snatches the sheet from my hand and off your body, leaving you naked. I grab the sheet. How disrespectful. You would hate this. I cover you. I begin to wash you. I wash your face and neck, moving from your arms to your torso. I stand so she can’t watch. I cover your top half. I uncover and wash your legs and feet. Together, we turn you over.

As we roll you onto your stomach, I see it. A decubitus ulcer. One I’d not noticed. Didn’t know about. Bright red. The color of raw hamburger. A cavern of bone and meat. Oozing yellow pus. You never mentioned it.

Had I walled myself off so effectively that my whole being said, I don’t know and I don’t want to know? Was this detachment?

Survival? No trips into the danger zone of the psyche for me. I simply hadn’t paid attention.

Guilt arrives, carrying its own bag.

LOCAL OUTLETS: My Favorite Books, Tallahasee; Books-A-Million, Black Dog Café @ Railroad Square

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT:,, Barnes &, Kindle, Nook, and currently being formatted for i-Books. PRICE: $14.95.

CURRENT EVENTS: Book signing at My Favorite books, Tallahasee,FLA, Sept. 12, 11 A.M.-1 p.m.


Facebook: Ask Dr Lee

Banana Sandwich

Banana Sandwich


THE AUTHOR: Steve Bargdill.

THE EDITOR: Steve Bargdill and sometimes Mary Bargdill (my wife) when I can cajole her into it.

THE PUBLISHER: Silver Road Press. This is really me in disguise and the brain child of my wife to make my indie books look more professional. The name comes from us moving across the country so many times. We know I-80 like the backs of our hands, always searching for that silver lining and actually finding it too. One day, the dream is to publish other authors under the name and actually become legitimate.

SUMMARY: Christmas Carol Madison lives in a van and is bipolar schizophrenic.  She’s in love with her coworker and decides maybe he’s worth getting her life together. She takes her medication. She visits regularly with her probation officer and therapist alike. Carol’s new path suggests normality and hope, a college degree, a career, a family. But when she decides to be better, it is the city that goes insane: her ex-boyfriend murders her roommate. To fight back, she must decide how she is to live her life.

“These nights are very dark. I hear all the sounds. My heart beat, the blood pulsing through my wrists. It is like the hollow echo broadcast from the rings of Saturn, empty and urging and crying out for someone to listen.”

Steve BargdillTHE BACK STORY: “Initially, I had my doubts about Banana Sandwich as a viable story. I wasn’t sure if I could pull Carol’s voice off through the length of an entire novel; never mind she talked incessantly inside my head.

“This novel was very different for me to write than anything else I had written before. I meticulous plan everything. Carol was complete seat of mky pants, waking up in the middle of the night to write down a phrase or two. Additionally, I have no first-hand experience with bipolarism, homelessness, schizophrenia, anorexia or domestic violence. I’ve known people that have had issues, though, and I really wanted to speak to those specific issues.

WHY THIS TITLE? “Delivering pizzas in Laramie, Wyoming, where the city is dark and no one puts on their house lights when they get deliveries for anything, and you are running up and down the street squinting at house numbers that are only half there.  It’s a welcome sight when a customer comes running out of her house waving her arms and shouting, “I’m over here!” I get out of the car, pizza in hand. And she says, ‘Man, your job must be banana sandwich.’ And I was like, ‘what?’

“I’d never heard that phrase before. I thought what a great title that would make for a book so I wrote it down, and there it sat for a couple of months. And then Christmas Carol Madison came along.”

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Banana Sandwich doesn’t offer solutions, neither does it preach. The writing of it was a way for me to understand the issues and disorders I’ve seen dear friends of mine struggle with; it was a way to wrap my brain around stiff I didn’t fully understand — still don’t fully understand. Hopefully, the book is doing some good, and the initial reviews have been affirmative in that direction.


“This story could very well be a real-life story.” — Martha E. Weatherell.

“Amazing, breathtaking and hopefully up-and-coming.” — Andrea J. Wildes.

“Most of the novel is … like Kafka’s Metamorphosis in Reverse.” — Ethan Cooper.

AUTHOR PROFILE:  “Originally, I’m from this little town: New Knoxville, Ohio. No one knows where it is.  Because, you know, I mean small. My graduating class was eighteen people, and one was an exchange student. The next biggest town was St. Marys, and that town you may have actually heard of because it made the NPR news two summer ago. Pollution problem with the lake. It’s killed dogs. Sent people, who thought it was okay to go swimming, to the hospital. I mean, back in the day, I’d start a fire in one of the shelter houses out by the lake, and sit there through the night listening to the water against the rocks, the crackle of the driftwood I had gathered for the fire—I mean, we’d all do that.

“And now, we went home this past summer to visit family, and we drove past the lake to look at it — or, rather, to smell it. Because … well, it’s bad.

“I have no idea why I became a writer.  I have always written stories. I can’t remember a time I didn’t write. My wife tells this story about me, about us in Nebraska. We were living in a really crappy apartment. It was always cold, we were so incredibly poor, had a baby that was just a few months old, and we had the computer in the basement, and my wife tells me she remembers me down there typing away wearing a coat and fingerless gloves. I don’t remember that.

“I mean, I remember splitting a McDonald’s Big Breakfast between the three of us, my wife selling blood for money, pawning our wedding rings almost on a weekly basis, freelancing for three newspapers, working all the time. There was a meatpacking place I worked at — I’d push the cow carcasses off the trucks and into a refrigerated warehouse for processing. That stuff I remember, like dragging my daughter to an interview for a piece I was doing for one of the newspapers, and I had to take her because my wife was at work and I couldn’t afford a babysitter.

“Writing is just something I’ve always done.”

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “As it says on the book description on Amazon, my five minute elevator pitch for Banana Sandwich has always been that it’s a book about a bipolar pizza delivery driver who lives in her van down by the river, and the line does indeed get laughs. I think giving that throw-away elevator pitch was a way for me to cope with the realities of what I was writing. Sure, the book is funny because you *can’t* order a pizza by banana phone, but you can’t just *choose* to be not affected by these—I don’t know what to call them. Disorders? That word seems so disabling, and there are some really high functioning bipolar people out there—Sherman Alexie, for example. But then, there’s that term: high functioning.”



You can’t order a pizza by banana phone. It can’t be done. Pick up any banana and put it to your ear and you get dial tone. Simple as that. Just doesn’t work. Now if you want to call Jupiter, a banana phone is your ticket. I knew a guy once who lined his hat with aluminum foil to stop the outer space transmissions from reaching his brain. Which is just crap. Everyone knows aluminum foil isn’t going to do the trick. You got to use something like Adamantium, which you can’t use anyway because it’s a made-up comic book metal bonded to Wolverine’s skeleton. Which brings me back to the banana phone, because Wolverine kind of looks like a banana if you think about it. I mean, his costume is yellow, right? And bananas are yellow, except for when they over-ripen. Then, they are black.  And the only thing aluminum foil is going to block are the government transmissions—and those are boring anyway. They tell you to do stuff like mow the lawn, wash dishes, buy more stuff, rinse your mouth with fluoride fortified mouthwash. It’s the outer space transmissions that are interesting. Once, I received instructions on how to build a warp drive for my van. And the line of work I’m in, that comes in real handy.

I used to work for this upscale pizza shop. They tried to be all fancy with artichoke and broccoli toppings. Those whole wheat and gluten free crusts. I quit because they always gave me crap about my piercings. Or maybe I was fired. Yeah, that’s how it really went down. I was fired. So I went to work for this other pizza shop, but we don’t do much except sit on the store steps smoking blunts and ordering delivery from Domino’s. Jordan brought in a bunch of bananas one night too. He picked one up and put it to his ear and tried to order Domino’s. But like I said, it can’t be done because all you get is dial tone. What is truly annoying is when you go to the Wal-Mart in the middle of the night, and you’re going through the produce section. Inevitably, there is that person wearing a bath towel as a dress and still in hair curlers, his butt crack hanging out like clothes on a line. They have that whole display stand of bananas. Normally, the bananas are still green. Those don’t work. The yellow ones work fine, and when five or six bunches of yellow bananas all start ringing at the same time, you don’t know which one to answer first. Sometimes, I put a banana to each ear and carry on a couple of conversations at one time, which is easier to do than you might think.

This is how it all started too. I was in the Wal-Mart examining cumquats because who the heck buys cumquats? Why does the Wal-Mart even have cumquats? It’s the Nineties, and I don’t know anyone who eats cumquats except total health nut freaks. I’m certainly not a health nut freak. Give me a good juicy medium rare steak any day. Baked potato with cheddar cheese, chives, and tons of sour cream: that is a meal. Not some deformed looking orange. I’m standing in the middle of the Wal-Mart produce section examining the cumquats, but in actual reality, I avoid as much eye contact with the guy wearing the towel. Then the bananas started ringing. I looked around searching for a hidden camera. I remember that show by Peter Funt in the Eighties, Candid Camera. I asked the towel-dress guy if he heard the bananas ringing. He didn’t say anything to me. I asked again and he said ‘No.’

I heard them. All of them. I didn’t know which one to pick up. I answered one, because what are you going to do, right? ‘Hello,’ I said, and they all stopped ringing.

Carol? This is Jupiter.’

I think maybe Jordan was teasing me when he tried to order Domino’s from a banana phone. I like Jordan like chocolate syrup on vanilla ice cream, but sometimes, he can be an ass.

LOCAL OUTLETS: You’re Local Amazon Retailer, of course.

PRICE: $2.99

I love to talk to people!

https// Bargdill.

@Steve Bargdill.

Goodreads when I’m doing heavy reading: https//www/ Seriously, you can send me an e-mail and I will answer it.


Weather Report, Sept. 7





Christmas Carol Madison lives in a van, delivers pizzas, and is bipolar schizophrenic.  She’s in love with her coworker and decides maybe he’s worth getting her life together. She takes her medication. She visits regularly with her probation officer and therapist alike. Carol’s new path suggests normality and hope, a college degree, a career, a family. But when she decides to be better, it is the city that goes insane: her ex-boyfriend murders her roommate. To fight back, she must decide how she is to live her life.

Writes Steve: “The novel was very different for me to write than anything else I had written before. I meticulously plan everything. Carol was complete seat of my pants, waking up in the middle of the night to write down a phrase or two. Additionally, I have no first-hand experience with bipolarism, homelessness, schizophrenia, anorexia, or domestic violence. I’ve known people that have had these issues though, and I really wanted to speak to those specific problems.”


After the death of her husband, Lee moves forward with her life—or, so she thinks. Instead, she finds herself repeating the same mistakes with Frank that she made in past relationships.

While working on her doctorate, she learns about those old patterns and begins to understand her relationship is a sham. Her progression through the doctoral program is threatened by double messages and false promises. She must respond by confronting her professor and Frank’s bizarre behavior. Are they connected? What does it all mean? Will she get what she wants or what she needs?

Writes Roberta: “While still in graduate school, my friends kept telling me I needed to write a self-help book. Since I don’t learn very well when someone tells me what’s wrong with me, I decided to write a novel and show the reader how life can change when we change our thoughts and our behavior. My doctoral program and the clients and patients I have seen over the years provided my research. I began writing bits and pieces in 2008 and completed the book in 2014.” 



Writes Ava: “Life in a strictly patriarchal culture can be suffocating but so is being misrepresented in the national and international media. Kurdish and Iranian women are more than just victims. I wanted to portray an in-depth and honest image.”

Kurdish women VThese haunting stories beautifully evoke the oppressive lives of modern women in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Anis, a computer programmer, is at the end of her rope, putting up with the bullying criticism of a no-good, unemployed lout of a husband; Azar is a young divorcee, and the only person she can talk to is Reza; but she can see him only late at night when “they” are not around; Sharmin has Down’s syndrome and hopelessly loves Azad; he loves Kazhal, beautiful and blessed; but Kazhal is married off and is divorced at twenty and now awaits a hopeless future . . . For these and other characters the weight of traditional attitudes, the harassment of the religious establishment make for a frustrating, confining, and sometimes unlivable existence.

Echoes from the Other Land was nominated for the 2011 Frank O’Connor International Award. The collection was also placed 6th in the top ten winners of the CBC Reader’s Choice Contest for Giller Prize.


Into Shadow looks at what the world could be like in another 200 years. There are high points (incredible advances in technology)… and low points (cities in ruins after years of world wars and climate change). It’s 2259 and the entire planet has been changed by the melting of the polar ice sheets. As the land was overrun by water, countries ran out of room for their populace. The need for more land eventually led to the 3rd World War – a global conflict that lasted thirty years and drastically changed the political landscape and the physical environment. Many countries banded together for protection and power, including the former countries of Canada, Mexico, and the United States of America, which are now collectively known as the North American Alliance.

The North American Alliance is led by President Walker: a war hero, a widower and a father. His nineteen-year-old daughter Poppy serves as First Lady until she finds herself caught in the middle of a government takeover and dodging assasins and robotic soldiers. Not just dystopian fiction, “Into Shadow” is also a coming of age story that examines social issues from a future perspective.


In case you read and enjoyed Joshua Samuel Brown’s “How Not to Avoid Jet Lag” (Snowflakes feature, June 19) and would like to get to know him better, he’ll be leading a cycling tour of Taiwan this fall , The 11-day tour will begin in Taipei with a high-speed train ride to the city of Kaohsiung at the southern end of the island.

The itineJoshua Brown bikerary features rides along the rugged eastern coastline, through pineapple fields and rice paddies and into the Taroko and Jinshan national parks. Pit stops include culturally significant sites, aboriginal villages and night markets.
See the most-read stories in Life & Style this hour >>

The tour is suitable for both beginning and experienced cyclists; the average distance is about 45 miles a day.

Dates: Oct. 24 and Nov. 7

Price: $4,850 per person, double occupancy. Includes accommodations, most meals and bicycle rental. International airfare not included.

Info: Bicycle Adventures, (800) 443-6060.

Andrea Brunais‘ novel “Mercedes Wore Black” (featured on Snowflakes on July 24) recently won a silver medal in the President’s Book Awards contest sponsored by the Florida Author’s and Publisher’s Association. Congrats!

Joe Broadmeadow, whose “Collision Course” was featured on Snowflakes July 14, has a new police procedural novel out, “Silenced Justice.”

Here’s the Amazon blurb: “Lieutenant Josh Williams is back in this latest thriller from Joe Broadmeadow, Silenced Justice. When his former boss, retired Lieutenant Chris Hamlin, asks him to reopen an old case, Josh uncovers the shocking truth behind an innocent man’s death in prison. In 1972, Darnell Grey, accused of a series of rapes and a homicide, is beaten to death in the prison while awaiting trial.

“As a black man accused of crimes against white women, a justice system intent on vengeance uses all its resources to secure his imprisonment.  Evidence of his innocence is ignored, witnesses manipulated, and the truth locked away, putting him into a racially volatile prison system. With his death, his memory and the case against him fades into the past.
“Determined to bring the matter to light, the deeper Josh looks into the case, the more dangerous it becomes for him and those he loves.  Discovering a darker, more sinister conspiracy in play, Josh risks everything to uncover the truth.
A truth that unveils hollowness and corruption at the very core of government and our Justice System.

1. Oklahoma Ghost Dance


Oklahoma Ghost Dance

THE BOOK: Oklahoma Ghost Dance.


THE AUTHOR: Jeff Wilson.

THE EDITOR: Becky Hawksley

THE PUBLISHER: Createspace

SUMMARY:  AJeff wilsonnthony Motavato’s life was shattered forever on the morning of April 19, 1995 when he lost his beautiful daughter. Unable to cope with his new reality, Anthony left town and has drifted on the lonely fringes of alcoholism in the years since the tragedy. Realizing his time is short, Anthony finally returns home to face the family he left behind. As he tries to regain his faith and make peace with the people that still love him, he is pulled into the tapestry of lies surrounding the deadliest act of domestic terrorism on United States soil. The only way he can find the forgiveness he seeks is by reliving it all over again. Oklahoma Ghost Dance takes you into the darkest places of imagination. From a plot born within the ashes of the Waco massacre, it slowly untangles historic events surrounding the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing. Jeff Wilson, author of the highly acclaimed novel, Queen Anne’s Revenge, weaves a haunting story of love, heartbreak and redemption.

THE BACK STORY: I watched the footage of the Oklahoma bombing minutes after it happened. I have family in Texas and have traveled through Oklahoma City many times over the years. I went down and saw the building before they hurried up and imploded it along with all the evidence. Over the years I have followed the story and began to realize the “Official” account did not add up. I have spent over fifteen years researching this novel to make it as historically accurate as possible.

WHY THIS TITLE?: I picked this title in reference to the sacred Ghost Dance-which is an important part of the novel.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT: I feel this is an important part of American history. The real truth has never been told. I think the victims and their families deserve to be remembered and the people responsible held accountable.


1. Oklahoma Ghost Dance is a heartbreaking love story based on a true historic event.

The book begins with a letter from Lonely Bear, a mystic healer and the main narrator of this amazing story. It gives an ominous warning that there will be a price to pay for learning the truth. This book holds nothing back! It starts in Waco, Texas where the bombing plot originated as the siege of the Branch Davidian compound comes to a fiery end. Each chapter brings strange players that helped plan and complete the tragedy of April 19, 1995 in Oklahoma City. The Author uses a fictitious character, Jericho Daniels, to piece the well-researched plot together. In the aftermath, the main character Anthony Motavato’s story comes into focus. Instead of treading on the victims privacy, a composite family is used to show the consequences of the bombing. It is a touching story of love and loss that is filled with more information then has ever been disclosed before. I believe it will resonate with a positive light to those that have experienced the loss of a loved one as I have. This novel takes many chances that pay off in good way for the reader. As the narrator changes, so seems the style of the book.

Not too many books can pull this off in suchan effective way. I was a young mother raising a family when the bombing happened. My memory was limited to a few brief news clips before the media began ignoring the entire terrorist act. I learned so much history reading this and was able to learn why it happened. It is a truly original story with unforgettable characters that keep you awake at night. It is sad that the real people responsible got away with the murder of so many innocent people including children.

This is only one of the topics the book exposes without knocking the readers over the head with useless facts concerning the cover up. The viewer is allowed to make up his or her own minds about what happened that day, without being preached to. I think it is incredible that the truth is finally out as to who was involved. The book answers every question from who John Doe #2 is. to why the bombing was covered up so quickly. Unfortunately, this book is not for everyone. If you are seeking a fluff-piece or time killer, it is best to pass on this one. I highly recommend this great work of fiction even though it is a very controversial. Oklahoma Ghost Dance exposes the “official narrative” for the fraud that it is. This is an important story that should be on everyone’s reading list that cares about truth and justice. Like the book states in the prologue, once you know the truth, there is no turning back. Some scars will never heal.

2. An important story told in a gripping manner.

Although it was two decades ago, I vividly recall the events at Waco, Ruby Ridge, and the horrific slaughter of the Oklahoma City bombing, so I was fascinated by the detailed account of this most deadly act of domestic terrorism. The anti-government, paramilitary movement was in full swing and the author takes you inside that strange, violent world to spend time with the people who reside there. The fringe people who populate those groups, their brittle personalities, their insecurities, the childhood abuse they suffered; born losers seeking a purpose in life and who end up in these quite pathetic, but extremely dangerous, “families.” It’s an important story, and appears very well-researched. I learned a lot of things I was previously unaware of, including possible cover ups by government agencies. But in the end, the sad and poignant journey Anthony Motavato and other family members of little Jaci Rae must take after her demise in the bombing truly grips the reader. I was left identifying with their sorrow and pain.

3. I really enjoyed this suspenseful novel.

I really enjoyed this suspenseful, thoughtful novel about the events before and after the Oklahoma City bombing, I found the research to be very thorough but in no way taking away from the depiction of both real people and fictional characters who represent some of people most affected by the bombing. The steady, suspenseful pace will keep you involved all the way through.

AUTHOR PROFILE: I am a life-long resident of independence, Missouri. I am the father to three amazing children. I have been writing for over thirty years and also enjoy poetry and photography. Oklahoma Ghost Dance is my second novel. Queen Anne’s Revenge a historic adventure is my first novel.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I spent twenty years following this story and researching the facts in the case. I feel it is an important story that needs to be told.


LOCAL OUTLETS: Novella’s Bistro

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Kindle, Barnes & noble, etc.


Whispers in the Attic

THE BOOK: Whispers in thCheryl Alsippie Attic


THE AUTHOR: Cheryl Alsippi

THE EDITOR: Olivia Swenson. Working with her was a delight. She was professional, prompt with returns and always accessible. Olivia guided this first-time author painlessly through what could have been a difficult process.

PUBLISHER: Word Association Publishers

SUMMARY: Life for Claire Swenson is good. She is a college girl with a wonderful boyfriend, a job, and a new roommate. It’s all a girl could want—until the moment she first sees the beautiful young woman with auburn hair and oddly out-of-date clothing standing outside of her apartment building.

Whispers in the Attic unfolds with the delicacy of soft, dense fog creeping in from the sea. Claire, though perplexed by the sight of the young woman—whom no one else seems to notice—has never given serious thought to the supernatural. Even growing up near Salem, Massachusetts, with its witch trial legacy failed to interest her in the paranormal in any serious way. But something has been unleashed and now forces are coming to bear upon Claire that she will not be able to resist.

A breathy voice very close to her ear whispered, “Help me, Claire.”

The decades old mystery brought forth from the spirit world through the young woman with the auburn hair will only be unraveled through the combined efforts of Claire and Mary, the spirit who is seeking her help.

Chilling dreams, visions and voices guide Claire to clues to help in her efforts to free Mary’s spirit from the evil that holds her.

THE BACK STORWhispers in the AtticY: After years of paranormal research and personal experiences as a paranormal investigator, I felt it was finally time to take what I had learned and do something creative with it. In 2010, I began a creative writing course which, after much self-doubt, stumbles, more self-doubt, and probably one thousand (slight exaggeration) rewrites, culminated in the published version of Whispers in the Attic. It is a fictional story but most of the ghostly activity and details I have experienced personally.

WHY THIS TITLE: My choice of title is maybe not the most inventive reasoning out there. A major scene—a pivotal point when Claire decides she can no longer avoid or deny that the persistent spirit activity is truly happening—takes place in her grandmother’s attic.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: Most people, whether they believe in ghosts or not, are curious about them. Whispers in the Attic poses the questions and offers the answers to anyone who has ever wondered what happens when the spirit world and the natural world collide.


“Cheryl creates a story that brings you just a little closer to the paranormal. Really makes you think about your  onnection with those who have gone before you. And I love the little dog.” — Olivia Earnshaw

“I finished Whispers in the Attic on New Year’s Eve. I loved it! It had suspense, interest, romance, mystery and excitement. You did a great job and I really enjoyed reading it.” — Carol L.

“I find your book very interesting. I can relate to so many things dealing with the paranormal aspect. Kind of creepy in a way! LOL! Good job!” — Al B. (ghost researcher/hunter)

AUTHOR PROFILE: Cheryl Alsippi enjoys life in Western Pennsylvania with her husband Joe and their family. She is a Ghost Researcher and Paranormal Investigator who draws from her personal experiences with the supernatural for details while writing. She teaches after death communication and ghost hunting classes.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “Ever since I was a child, I was interested in books about mysteries and ghosts—anything with a supernatural flair. That interest carried through into adulthood and prompted me to choose the paranormal and
supernatural fields as the genre for my writing.


WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Word Association Publishing

PRICE: $14.95 paperback; $9.99 ebooks

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First Tuesday Replay, Sept. 1


BAndrea RaineOOK NO 6: “Turnstiles,”by Andrea Raine. Friday, June 12.

From Andrea, our first Canadian author: “Turnstiles is a literary fiction novel that focuses on family drama and social issues. The book addresses how much our social environment and people in our lives shape us. I am very interested in human relationships and social dynamics, and how people can be influenced by other people and being in different places or social situations. I also love to travel and experience new places. I enjoy stories that are character-driven where the reader can witness an internal change happening, and then everything else changes. These characters are transient and, either by choice or by force, they each leave their comfort zone at some point in their journey.

“In the summer of 1998, I embarked on a two-month solo backpacking trip through Western Europe. While I was roaming around London, I went through a tunnel under the street at Hyde Park and saw a young man in a sleeping bag. I thought maybe he was another backpacker and not necessarily a homeless person. When I returned home from the trip, I decided to start writing about him. He became a springboard for other characters to jump on the pages and for the story to unfold. Nearly sixteen years later I was holding a paperback copy of Turnstiles in my hands. My research was based on my travel experiences, some personal experiences and insights, social observations, literary knowledge, and basically being on this earth for a number of years and paying attention. The rest sprung from my imagination.”

BOOK NO 7: “Betrayal,” by Sharon Brownlie. Tuesday, June 16.

Betrayal “Betrayal is a dark, gritty, thought provoking and hard hitting novel. It addresses problems of how sexual abuse can be neglected or shelved away. The main character, Helen, looks at herself as a survivor of abuse but a victim of others’ betrayal. Sexual abuse is always a difficult subject and rightly or wrongly, Helen addresses the issue. If you liked Stieg Larson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Betrayal might be a good choice.

Writes one reviewer: “In a dark and unrelentingly bleak portrait of violence, abuse, struggle and vengeance we are given a picture of a cycle that continues to feed the machinery of human trafficking. While authors such as Stieg Larson in his trilogy The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo gave us a painful, and in many ways over-the-top view of this, Sharon Brownlie puts us on a collision course with reality.”

BOOK NO. 8:  “How Not to Avoid Jet Lag,” by Joshua Brown. Friday, June 19.

ThJoshua Brownere is a little of Hunter S. Thompson in Joshua Samuel Brown’s writing, a pinch of P.J. O’Rourke, maybe even a dash of “Gulliver’s Travels.” For unlike many travel writers who draw back and write about exotic places from a safe and contemplative distance, Brown plunges right in, experiencing the good, the bad and the inedible. Ever wonder how you can tell the difference between good and not-so-good dog meat soup in Korea? Did you know that Beijing has a ghetto inhabited primarily by Muslims? Brown is counterculture savvy, technologically wired and, to some degree, able to converse in Mandarin. Yet through all 19 of these traveler’s tales, he never forgets who he is — a bewildered outsider.

None of us can, in the relatively short life span which we are allotted, go everywhere. So travel writers like Joshua do that for us — and in this case, visits some of the off-the-beaten-track and under-the-radar places we probably wouldn’t see even if we did go to that country. He eats dog meat stew so we won’t have to.

BOOK NO 9.  “Caught,” by Deirdre Thurston. Tuesday, June 23.

CAUGHT is a collection of short stories, literary sketches and vignettes, each capturing a moment in the life of someone a lot like each of us. Each story delves into human themes: expectation, desire, hope, loss, fear, joy, peace, suffering, redemption. The narrative is filled with subtle irony, humour and touching observations.  The overriding message in CAUGHT is: that any moment in every life can be viewed as worthy of treasuring. Whether that moment is filled with despair or joy; they provide entertaining relief and nourishing benefits. The stories are real and everyone will relate in some way.

BOOK NO. 10:  “Thirty Perfect Days” by Claudia Taller. Friday, June 26.

In her book 30 Perfect Days, Finding Abundance in Ordinary Life, a spiritual memoir, author Claudia Taller allows the reader to go into her personal world to find the perfect moments that ultimately define our lives. 30 Perfect Days, Finding Abun30 Perfect Daysdance in Ordinary Life is a quest to live in the moment, make connections, and pay attention to what life has to offer. Through daily reflection, Taller deals with life’s surface obstacles with honesty and authenticity to gain insight into the patterns behind the problems. By the end of her journey, Taller is more accepting and forgiving of herself and others and knows first-hand that a change of approach can lead any seeker to a more fulfilling and meaningful life. The reader comes to a deeper understanding that once we embrace our lives as they are and turn inward to seek guidance, stress, judgment, expectations, and disappointments become small obstacles along the way. In the end, Taller infers, it is up to us to nurture our souls.

Weather Report, August 31





The idea behind this monthly feature is to allow newer followers to the blog to check out previous books they might have missed. This month, we will revisit “Turnstiles,”by Andrea Raine;  “Betrayal,” by Sharon Brownlie; “How Not to Avoid Jet Lag,” by Joshua Brown;  “Caught,” by Deirdre Thurston and “Thirty Perfect Days” by Claudia Taller.

Time coverSEPTEMBER 4-7:


Anthony Motavato’s life was shattered forever on the morning of April 19, 1995 when he lost his beautiful daughter. Unable to cope with his new reality, Anthony left town and has drifted on the lonely fringes of alcoholism in the years since the tragedy. Realizing his time is short, Anthony finally returns home to face the family he left behind. As he tries to regain his faith and make peace with the people that still love him, he is pulled into the tapestry of lies surrounding the deadliest act of domestic terrorism on United States soil. The only way he can find the forgiveness he seeks is by reliving it all over again. Oklahoma Ghost Dance takes you into the darkest places of imagination. From a plot born within the ashes of the Waco massacre, it slowly untangles historic events surrounding the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing. Jeff Wilson, author of the highly acclaimed novel, Queen Anne’s Revenge, weaves a haunting story of love, heartbreak and redemption.


And who doesn’t love a good ghost story? Writes Cheryl, a writer from Pittsburgh: “Most people, whether they believe in ghosts or not, are curious about them. Whispers in the Attic poses the questions and offers the answers to anyone who has ever wondered what  happens when the spirit world and the natural world collide.”

A lifelong student of the paranormal, Cheryl put 15 years of research into this novel.


Last week, I decided to try an experiment. I contacted all the writers who have been – or will soon be – featured on the Snowflakes in a Blizzard blog and asked them the last three or four books they’ve read (almost everyone provided four).

I did this not because those of you out there are necessarily interested in our literary tastes, but more to make a point.

For what intrigued me was that the 22 writers who responded came up with 85 books, and only one duplication — Betsy Ashton’s “Mad Max: Unintended Consequences.” Both writers who read that have the same publisher as Betsy, Koehler Books.

As a further disclaimer, Kate Sebeny and I are reading each other’s novels.

Beyond those instances, the reading material was all over the map (and, in the case of Charlotte Harris Rees, all over map literature).

Except for a few other books done by Snowflakes writers that showed up on the list, I found only six authors with whom I was familiar and just five books I’d read. And I’m someone who has already been through 95 books this year (I keep track, which probably means I need a life).

Here’s the thing – I guarantee if you asked a similar group of people about the last four movies they’ve seen, TV shows they’ve watched or songs they’ve listened to, there would be a lot more duplication.

This further convinces me that most people buy books for the book itself, not the author. Sure, there are a handful of writers, the John Grishams and Danielle Steeles and Stephen Kings of the world – who have huge followings. Others develop their own niche.

Still, this poll tells me that the public taste in books is much more omnivorous than in any of the other creative areas. At Snowflakes in a Blizzard, that’s what we’re trying to get across – an author might be unknown and his or her book far down the Amazon sales rankings, but it can still be a great book.

Here were the responses:

Tom Bentley, author of “Think Like a Writer”: “Across a Hundred Mountains,” by Reyna Grande; “The Round House,” by Louise Erdrich; “Let’s Get Digital,” by David Gaughran and “Letters from Hawaii,” by Mark Twain.

Barbara Trainin Blank, author of “What To Do About Mama?”  “The English Girl,” by Daniel Silva; “In the Middle of Ally,” by Michael Oren; “The Anne Boleyn Collection,” by Claire Ridgway,” amd “Round Up the Usual Suspects: The Making of Casablanca,” by Aljean Harmatz.

Marianne Bohr, author of “Gap Year Girl”:  “The Nightingale,”  by Kristen Hannah; “Me Before You,”  by JoJo Moyes; 3. “This is Where I Leave Yopu,” by Jonathan Tropper, and “A Cup of Redemption,” by Carole Bumpus.

Nicki Brandon, author of “The Solarbus Legacy”: “The Big Picture,” by Douglas Kennedy; “The Girl on the Train,” by Paula Hawkins; “Island Dogs: A Caribbean Tale,” by BM Simpson and “Turnstiles,” by Andrea McKenzie Raine.

Joe Broadmeadow, author of “Collision Course.”: “Passport to the Cosmos,” by John E. Mack; “A Scourge of Vipers,” by Bruce DeSilva; “The Starlight Club: Goodfellas, Mob Guys and Hitmen,” by Joe Corso,” and “A Lion Among Men,” by Gregory Maguire.

Andrea Brunais, author of “Mercedes Wore Black”: “Moloka’i” by Alan Brennert;  “Blue Horses” by Mary Oliver; “The Island” by Victoria Hislop and “Thank You for Being Such a Pain” by Mark I. Rosen.

Susan Coryell, author of “Beneath the Stones”: “All the Light We Cannot See,” by Anthony Doerr; “Hannah’s Dream,” by Diane Hammond; “Loving Frank,” by Nancy Horan, and “This is the Story of a Happy Marriasge,” by Ann Patchett.

Diane Fanning, author of “Scandal in the Secret City”:  “Fear of Dying,” by Erica Jong; “Atomic Lobster,” by Tom Dorsey; “Gathering Prey,” by John Sanford and “Mother Tongue,” by Bill Bryson.

Holland Haiis, author of “Consciously Connecting” “The Devil in the White City,” by Erik Larson; “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter,” by Carson McCullers, and “The Four Agreements,” by Don Miguel Ruiz.

Melinda Inman, author of “Refuge”: “The Salvation of Jeffrey Lapin,” by Summer Kinard; 2. “The Day of Atonement,” by David DeSilva; 3. “Max Max: Unintended Consequences,” by Betsy Ashton.

Darrell Laurant, author of “The Kudzu Kid.” “Daring,” by Gail Sheehy, “The Black Ice,” by Michael Connelly,” “Sailor’s Delight,” by Malcom Torres and “the Last Best Thing,” by Kate Sebeny.

Liz Long, author of “A Reaper Made”: “Enchanted Heart,”by Mindy Ruiz; “The Demon Trapper’s Daughter,” by Jana Oliver, “Taste,” by Cambria Herbert and “Free to Fall,” by Lauren Miller.

John Maberry, author of “Waiting for Westmoreland”: “Blood Run, by Leah Ruth Robinson; “Pearseus Bundle (Pearseus 1-3)” by Nicholas C Rossis; “Waking the Buddha,” by Clark Strand and “Snow Falling on Cedars” by David Guterson

Diana Paul, author of “Things Unsaid“:  “Mr. Bridge” (Evan S. Connell), “Mrs. Bridge” (also E.S. Connell), “Everything I Never Told You” (Celeste Ng), and “Hysterical: Anna Freud’s Story.” (Rebecca Coffey).

Andrea McKenzie Raine, author of “Turnstiles.”  “The Girl on the Train,” by Paul Hawkins; “Amatore’s Restaurant,” by James Sillwood; “Poems,” by Emily Dickinson and “Whispers in the Attic,” by Cheryl Alsippi.

Charlotte Harris Rees, author of “Did Ancient Chinese Explore America?”: “Mapping the Chinese and Islamic Worlds,” by Hyunhee Park; “Mysteries of the Marco Polo Maps,” by Benjamin Olshin; “A History of the World in 12 Maps,” by Jerry Brotton and “A book of Old Maps,” by Fite and Freeman.

Karen Rivello, author of “The Other Side of Midnight“: “Plain Jane: Brunettes Beware,” by Cristyn West; “She’s Not There,” by Maria Madison; “Dead Wood,” by Dani Amore and Dan Ames and “Shunned no More,” by Christina McKnight.

Dean Robertson, author of “Looking for Lydia, Looking for God”: “Buried Giant,” by Kazuo Ishiquro; “Revelations: Visions, Prophecy and Politics in the book of Revelations,” by Elaine Pagels; “For the Time Being,” by Annie Dillard and “Max Max: Unintendent Consequences,” by Betsy Ashton.

Kate Sebeny, author of “The Last Best Thing”: “The Poor Man’s Guide to Suicide,” by Andrew Armacost; 2. “Knitting,” by Anne Bartlett; “A Flatland Fable,” by Joe Coomer and “The Kudzu Kid,” by Darrell Laurant.

Tara Shields, author of “Into Shadow”:Ethan’s Secret,” by Patrick Hodges; “Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper,” by J.L. Bryan; “Unseen,” by Stephanie Erickson and “Zodiac Lives,” by Rhode D’Ettore.

Brian Simpson, author of “Island Dogs”: “The Stone Cutter,” by Camilla Läckberg; “Killing Patton,” by Bill O’Reilly; “Dharma Bums,” by Jack Kerrouac, and “A Thousand Splendid Suns,” by Kahled Hosseini.

Ryan Jo Summers, author of “When Clouds Gather”: “One of the Few,” by Jason B. Ladd; “A Heart Mended,” by Jesse Salisbury; “Arms of an Angel,” by Patricia Bond and “Turkmen Captives,” by Susan Williamson.

Deirdre Thurston, author of “Caught”:  “The Turning,” by Tim Winton; “The Children Act,” by Ian McEwan; “The Snow Child,” by Eowyn LeMay, and “If One Speaks Not of Remarkable Things,” by Jon McGregor.

Looking for Lydia, Looking for God

Looking for Lydia


THE BOOK:  “Looking for Lydia; Looking for God: From 2014 to the Civil War, the Journey of Thirteen Women.”


THE AUTHOR: Dean robertson-,,,,,

THE PUBLISHER: Koehler Books, a small publisher in Virginia that is definitely on the move. They combine the professionalism of the large firms with a small press’s personal attention to their authors.

THE EDITOR: Joe Coccaro, Executive Editor, Koehler Books

SUMMARY: “This is the story of a miracle, although not one of those miracles where statues weep and holy faces appear in tacos” (Prologue).Dean Robertson

Looking for Lydia; Looking for God is a memoir. It is also a family saga and a cameo of life in a southern city after the Civil War. It is the mystery of a nineteenth-century woman, come from Philadelphia to Norfolk, Virginia, the year the War ended. It is a sometimes unconventional interpretation of some very familiar Bible stories.

It is, throughout, the story of the transformation of a group of women in their eighties and nineties who have come to live in an assisted living facility. They have not come there for a new lease on life, but that is exactly what they get.

As you read, you will fall in love with a small group of women as they discover the Bible, each other, and themselves. This is their story.

They show up one winter morning for a new “devotion” at their assisted living facility, and there I am, depressed, angry, bruised from a severe fall, hanging on by a thread, proposing to talk about women in the Old Testament, assuring them that Eve was a hero and Adam was a fool. This is my story.

In Chapter Two, I confess:

“I don’t think I could have told you the name of one member of that pioneer crew; now I see their faces when I close my eyes. I came to the Lydia Roper Home sick and I left well. I arrived with no hope; I left with a sense that I still had ‘promises to keep.’ The ladies with whom I spend my Wednesdays have pushed open their minds and hearts to an old text, to each other, and to new ideas; they don’t stop asking questions. We look

for answers together. The mystery of how all that happened is really what I’m after here.”

THE BACK STORY: At the end of 2013 I had a terrible fall. I spent eight very long months in an assisted living facility in Norfolk, Virginia. The name of that facility is The Lydia Roper Home. It is housed in a 1921 building that was commissioned by Union Army Captain John L. Roper. He named the building after his wife, Lydia.

I arrived at the Roper Home in bad shape. In addition to undiagnosed neurological problems, I was in the grip of a paralyzing depression, and I was definitely not cheered up by offers of bingo or arts and crafts. I don’t “do” activities. In an effort to preserve my last shreds of sanity, I asked permission to lead my own activity, a Bible Study. I had taught the Hebrew Bible as Literature for nearly thirty years so I knew I could do it.

Sometime in March of 2013 we started with Genesis. There were five of us, and those four women were my pioneers. Today, in February of 2015, one of our original number has died, another has moved to a nursing home. Two of those pioneers are still there.

I left the Lydia Roper Home on the last day of October 2013 and moved into a wonderful co-op, in a building erected in 1928, in the Ghent neighborhood of Norfolk. The ladies at the Roper Home asked me if I would come back to teach the New Testament. I said that of course I would.

At some moment early in 2014, as I worked on the New Testament and rode to the Lydia Roper Home every Wednesday morning to talk about it, Looking for Lydia; Looking for God simply began to happen to me. I woke up one morning and started writing. I am not a writer; I’m a teacher. I never aspired to be a writer; my passion has always been in the classroom. If I’ve ever been in what young people call “the zone,” it has happened among a roomful of students. During the writing of the first four chapters of the book, I was on another planet.

Doors opened; writer’s blocks cleared up in fewer than twenty-four hours; people appeared out of nowhere; my energy was unlimited. I wrote all day; I woke up at night and wrote. Friends worried. Family members called more often than usual. Nothing existed outside the book. I didn’t want to talk to anyone who didn’t want to talk about the book.

WHY THIS TITLE?: “When I first started writing, the Baptist preacher suggested that I call this story about a group of women studying the Bible, ‘Looking for Lydia.’ I thought he was joking. Now that seems the only possible title (159)”

“The preacher told me that, ‘Looking for Lydia is like looking for God, and you’re doing both. We are all looking for Lydia. We are all looking for that something we may or may not find, but the search for which defines our lives. In the course of that search we find frustration, disappointment, loss, and grief, but we also find much that we didn’t expect—work and love and relationships and joy’ (164).”

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT?: After the encouraging responses from several readers, all of whom have told me some version of “I just couldn’t stop reading! I wanted to know what happened; I wanted to know more about those women and the Bible and whether you found Lydia,” I’d say the first reason someone would want to read it is that it’s a darned good read. Even my cousin who is completely uninterested in “God stuff,” was hooked by the elderly women, the story of Lydia, the cameo of a southern city in the years following the Civil War, and the founding of a lumber empire by a genuine “carpetbagger” from Philadelphia.

Anyone at any point in the “getting older” spectrum, who is either aging, afraid of aging, or with parents who are aging, and is facing the possibility of no longer living independently, would want to read this very unusual and hopeful glimpse of life in an assisted living facility.

Anyone who is interested in the Bible, in genealogy, or in women’s history would definitely want to read it.

I think everyone would want to read it just because they’ll like it a lot!!


“As a writer, an elder care giver, and a seeker of family stories, sharing this quest with Dean has been a glorious multi-faceted adventure. Readers will find that, whether they seek a lost relative or answers to Life’s biggest questions, Looking for Lydia may lead them to find that exploring the questions can be as satisfying as finding the answers.”

—Molly Roper Jenkins, Great-granddaughter of Lydia Bowen Roper

“Part biography, part biblical criticism, and part spiritual confession, Looking for Lydia; Looking for God is both an intensely personal narrative and an invitation to re-examine our collective soul. Humorous yet insightful, in this book, Robertson raises important questions of faith and meaning with her characteristic warmth and integrity. Perhaps, most importantly of all, it is a good read.”

—Aaron Brittain, Rector, Talbot Park Baptist Church,

Norfolk, VA

“A group of old ladies living together on the poorer side of health and finances, a few of whom aren’t sure why it’s Wednesday; a Bible study that encourages all the questions you thought you weren’t allowed to ask, complete with compelling answers as dynamic as, well, Wednesday; and a grand old, southern house named for somebody called, of course, “Lydia.” Does this sound exciting, yet? Ah, but it is! Dean rubs these unlikely things together with heart and depth and art and brings us to glorious life.”

—The Rev. Gary Barker, Rector, Kingston Parish, Mathews, VA

AUTHOR PROFILE: Dean Robertson is retired from over thirty years as an English teacher in independent secondary schools and small colleges. She was born in Alabama, grew up on 200 acres of North Georgia woods, and has lived in California, Kentucky, and Michigan. In the woods, she dreamed of being Mowgli, watched foxes in their dens, and learned not to step on copperheads; in Kentucky, she kept bees; in Michigan, she shared her back yard with five llamas. At nearly 70, she is still the idealist she was in 1963 when she went away to college and waded into the Civil Rights Movement. At nearly 70, she is a first-time author and a first-time grandmother; her grandson was born on Shakespeare’s birthday 2015. From 1980-2014, her passion was in the classroom. One morning in March of 2014, she woke up and started keeping a journal. With a lot of support from her friends, that journal became Looking for Lydia; Looking for God. She is now “paying it forward” by editing manuscripts for two unpublished writers. She is blogging once a week on her website. She is looking for guest bloggers. And she is learning new skills every day in two areas that never interested her one bit: the computer and marketing. Finally, she would like to refer you to Betsy Ashton’s recently published novel, Mad Max: Uncharted Territory and, particularly, to Ms. Ashton’s Author Profile on her recent Snowflakes page. You will not need to guess whether or where Ms. Robertson has tattoos.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I had no plan for Looking for Lydia; Looking for God. A friend asked me recently when I got the idea to write a book; I said I didn’t. The book’s final chapter, “Thoughts After the Last Curtain,” tells a story-of course-and proposes a sequel to Lydia. I read once a line by the poet, Kenneth Patchen, that has stuck with me: “If you look at my hands, you will see that if I knew where to go, I could build a road that would take me there.” I am beginning to know where to go. I haven’t yet built the road or outlined the plan. But the next book is waiting to be written; I don’t expect it to wait for long. I know one thing today—I will always be writing.



PRICE: hardback=$26.95; paperback=$14.95; ebook=$7.99

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Please feel free to use this email address to contact me directly. It is the surest way to reach me and to get a response. And I will love hearing from you!

Tales From a Mad Man’s Wife

Mad Men 3THE BOOK:  “Tales From A  Mad  Man’s Wife”

THE AUTHOR: Marilyn Miller Skylar.

PUBLISHED: 2014, by DogEar.

Mad MenSUMMARY: This memoir is primarily about the advertising and publishing career of my husband David Skylar. It also depicts the exciting prosperous years of the 50’s and 60’s and later, when new ideas and projects were developed following World War 2.

THE BACK STORY: “I decided to write this book after I found a paragraph that my husband had written many years ago to give some biographical material to a group where he was to make a major talk. I realized then that he would probably write about his life at some point. Of course, this was not to be.A massive stroke got in the way of any creative renderings. Once I  began recreating his business career, I realized I stood beside him in many ways, and would therefore have to personalize his store more. It  took me a couple of years to complete.”

Marilyn Miller SkylarWHY THIS TITLE? The title was an off shoot of the popular TV show Mad Men. I wanted to show how the real  ad guys really lived in that era.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT.  I imagine the people who knew my husband would be most curious about reading the book. However, I have heard from many others that they never knew that certain events took place and they felt the book was historically interesting in many ways.  Also, young advertising types might want to know what was “cool” back in the olden days…or better yet, the Golden days of advertising.


“The author has written a book in modest terms about a man bigger than life. The thing I enjoyed about the book was its crisp, concise, fast paced style and ease read. If you have an hour, run the book up the flag pole. See if you don’t salute David Skylar, a gentleman, husband, father, community leader, ad-man, journalist, my Chief Executive Officer, professor, consultant and dear friend.
Tales from A Mad Man’s Wife is the life story and legacy of the man I consider my mentor. He opened eyes to life style, communichaos, and making people feel important. He shared with me three simple rules: Never be indiscreet. If ever indiscreet, be indiscreet, discreetly. Never having your picture taken with a cigarette and/or drink in your hand.
Never let anyone work your side of the street.” — Robert W. Chism.
“Reading Tales from A Mad Man’s Wife was like reliving the advertising and PR world of the 1960s and 1970s (the period I knew Dave Skylar). It’s a candid, funny and perceptive recounting of how business worked, or didn’t work, in those days. Marilyn has an encyclopedic memory, and tells stories with details I had forgotten even though I was a part of them. Dave took a big chance in 1960 and hired me — a neophyte straight out of the Marine Corps and looking for his first job in a town where he knew nobody. The portait Marilyn paints is not larger than life; Dave actually IS that formidable. I have never known a more self-confident man — and I don’t mean big ego. Oh, and did I mention demanding, fair, creative and often very funny? Having him as a mentor was the best thing that could have happened to my career. Even if you never met Dave, this book is worth a read.” — Robert F. Miller.

“Marilyn Skylar’s breezy tale of life during the heyday of big-time advertising is a real life “Mad Men, with her husband, David, in the role of Don Draper (minus the icky side). Tales of business highs and lows are intertwined with depictions of family life in the 50s and 60s. Anyone from that era who married an “up-and-comer” like David will readily identify with the critical, but often overlooked role a wife played in those pre-women’s lib days. Marilyn’s keen observations about business, career and family reveal the complexity of life for a so-called housewife back then. Besides the stories, the book is full of wonderful photos of David with many famous and influential people, and also with friends and family. Old-time Clevelanders will enjoy the trip down memory lane. Marilyn also included full texts of some of David’s most noted and quoted articles and speeches, which should be required reading for any marketing practitioner, for his insights into clients, politics, women and communities are as amazingly relevant today as they were when first written 40 or 50 years ago. Soon to celebrate their 65th anniversary, Marilyn could not have given David a better gift to celebrate the occasion, or commemorate their remarkable journey. Hat’s off to “MJ” for being able to bring this great story to life!” — Martin Gould.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “As the author of this epistle, I can only say that I am pleased that I accomplished this feat. Although I was trained as a reporter and writer, I was mostly happy to bask in the limelight of my husband. I was basically a golf and tennis bum who only created  newsletters and special poetic treatises for charitable organizations or friends. I once spent 5 months writing a musical play for  a local organization, only to have the whole project aborted after the president of the group had a heart attack. Someday I would like to update the piece, as the subject matter is still current today. I have also written a poetry book called “Love is a Hot Fudge Sundae” which I have not yet published.”

WHERE TO BUY IT: The book can be ordered from any bookstore, or on line at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It is also available on Kindle, Nook and Google Play. The paperback price changes all the time but the ebooks and Kindle price is 7.99 the last time I looked.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: I would love to hear from any readers on my Facebook page, Marilyn Miller Skylar, or through my email



Karen Swallow PriorTHE  BOOK: Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me.


THE AUTHOR: Karen Swallow Prior.

THE EDITOR: David K. Wheeler.

THE PUBLISHER: T.S. Poetry Press: an award-winning independent publisher of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction.

SUMMARY: A life of books. A life of soul. Booked poignantly and humorously weaves the two, until you can’t tell one life from the other. Booked draws on classics like Great Expectations, delights such as Charlotte’s Web, the poetry of Hopkins and Donne, and more. This thoughtful, straight-up memoir will be pure pleasure for book-lovers, teachers, and anyone who has struggled to find a way to articulate the inexpressible through a love of story. This is a book about how books shaped one person’s heart, mind, and soul.

THE BACK STORY: I have loved books since I first learned to read. Books were not merely an escape, but shaped my way of thinking and being. Once I became an English professor and tried to impart to my students this life-changing power of books, I realized it was something I wanted to write about.

WHY THIS BookedTITLE?: My working title was “How Literature Helped Save my Soul.” I think the publisher’s choice of a title is much more poetic and evocative. Much like the pear on the cover.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: When I was looking for a publisher for Booked, I had a hard time finding one because it didn’t fit into an existing category. Now there is a growing category of such books—the “shelfie.” In this increasingly digital age, one of short sound bites and even shorter attention spans, there is a growing recognition of how immersion in a book is formative in ways both personal and universal. I think that is the draw to this book for anyone who loves books. It’s also a kind of spiritual memoir, so I would encourage any fans of that genre to give Booked a try, too.


“Prior loves stories because she understands well their incarnational authority to teach us, to guide us into wisdom. She knows this power so well that she’s devoted her life to sharing her love of stories by teaching them to innumerable students. Booked is effective—moving—precisely because it is written by a teacher who is purposed with love for both her subject and the readers with whom she feels compelled to share it. Yet, Prior’s teacherly voice is also supplemented—sharpened—by a loving observance of the world around her, communicated in passages so literary that they are worthy of the literature that has formed her life and book.” —  Books and Culture

“Ever wished you’d had a teacher who made you want to read the classics? Your wish has come true in this beautifully-told book. Karen Swallow Prior movingly and honestly tells a compelling story of self-discovery and coming to faith through some of the greatest books ever written. Eric Metaxas, New York Times bestselling author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.

In a time when 140-character sound bytes rule the day, great works of literature often go undiscovered. We need to journey back through these works and mine their wisdom, and Karen Swallow Prior is the perfect tour guide. — Jonathan Merritt, columnist, Religion News Service

AUTHOR PROFILE: Karen Swallow Prior, Ph. D., is an award-winning Professor of English at Liberty University. She is the author of Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me (T. S. Poetry Press, 2012) and Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More—Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist (Thomas Nelson, 2014). Prior is a contributing writer for Christianity Today, Think Christian, and The Atlantic. She is a Research Fellow with the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, a Distinguished Senior Fellow with Liberty University’s Center for Apologetics and Cultural Engagement, and a member of the Faith Advisory Council of the Humane Society of the United States. She and her husband live in rural Virginia with sundry dogs, horses, and chickens.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “I wrote this book with different readers in mind. I wrote for those who already know and love the kinds of works I write about in Booked. But I also wrote for those who, perhaps, have never warmed up to classic literature or, perhaps, never had teachers to help cultivate their understanding and appreciation of these works. In other words, both novice and expert readers are welcomed in these pages!”


LOCAL OUTLETS: Barnes and Noble Campus Bookstore, Liberty University; Hearts and Minds Books, Dallastown, PA

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble PRICE: $15.00

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Twitter: @LoveLifeLitGod or Facebook: