Weather Report, July 27




1. If you’re a writer somewhere in the southern Appalachians and haven’t heard of Dan Smith, you must not have been paying attention. Over the years, Dan has established himself as something of a brand name in western Virginia and North Carolina — first as an award-winning sportswriter for the Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times, later as a writer/columnist for the Roanoke Times & World News. His 2006 memoir “Burning the Furniture” is an upfront, no-holds-barred look at a tumultuous early life, and the annual Roanoke Valley Writers’ Conference at Hollins College that he started and still organizes invariably sells out. Also a founding editor of FRONT business magazine, Dan was inducted into the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame in 2010.

What’s left? How about a first novel? The Amazon blurb that goes with “Clog!” offers some hints of how Dan Smith — like most good fiction writers — has woven parts of his personal story into that of his main character, Eb McCourry: “Living in a children’s home in a tiny Appalachian town and struggling for an identity at his new school, Eb finds it with the football and square dance teams and with an English teacher who forces him to write better than he thought he could. As the book unfolds, Eb faces a gun, two pedophiles, a sociopathic teammate, growing pressure to win and a budding love affair with the lovely and brilliant Lizetta. His college football scholarship, and the doors it can open, are at stake and he must grow up quickly.”

2. This book profile represents a bit of a switch. Melinda Inman’s second novel, “Fallen,” was supposed to be featured on July 3, but we couldn’t quite get it together in time (although Melinda did manage to raise the funds for a hybrid publishing deal through Kickstarter, collecting nearly 20 percent of her needed $5,000 on the final day of the allotted month). So, as they say, first things first. This week, we’ll take a look at the opening book in the series, “Refuge,” a “novelized” version of the story of Cain, Abel and Lilith — literature’s first love triangle.

The beauty of it is, that story offers a lot of room for a writer to operate. Written primarily in a narrative style, the Bible — for all its eloquence — doesn’t spend a lot of time with character development or physical descriptions, both of which Inman supplies. If you are a Bible literalist, you will enjoy seeing these people come to life. If you see the Cain and Abel story as allegorical, you can enjoy it as a riveting novel.


1. Like Dan Smith, Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew is branching out. The author of “Swinging on the Garden Gate”, “Writing the Sacred Journey: The Art and Practice of Spiritual Memoir”, and “On the Threshold: Home, Hardwood, and Holiness,” she is now grafting her philosophical and spiritual insights onto an entertaining fictional story.

As Elizabeth explains her plot: “Late one night in a busy St. Paul hospital, a nurse-midwife drags Hannah Larson out from behind her reception desk to assist with a birth. When Hannah witnesses that baby tumble into the world, her secure, conventional life is upended by a fierce desire to deliver babies. So begins Hannah’s journey away from her comfort zone. In a midwifery apprenticeship in New Mexico, she befriends a male midwife, defends a teenage mom, and learns to trust women’s bodies, then moves back to Minnesota to start her own illicit birth practice. Hannah’s need to stay safe proves both an asset and a liability; home birth isn’t legal in Minnesota in the 1990’s. To deliver healthy babies, Hannah risks jail time, her community’s respect, and her career. The key to unlocking her fear rests in one birth—her own. “Hannah, Delivered” tells the story of how inexplicable passion, buried strength, and professional skill delivers one woman from fear into a rich and risk-filled life.”

Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew is a writing instructor and spiritual director and is a recipient of a Minnesota State Arts Board artists’ fellowship, the Loft Career Initiative Grant. Sne has also been a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award. Learn more about her work at and

2. Besides offering the first presidential primary of the election season, Iowa is also known for writing and writers, and Kate Sebeny is very much a part of that scene. She graduated from the University of iowa’s writing program — considered one of the top five in the nation — and has since edited a weekly newspaper and a national magazine. At one point, she lived in a renovated former county jail in in Winterset, IA, the setting for Robert James Waller’s best-selling “The Bridges of Madison County.” She has also taught writing at two Iowa colleges.

Kate calls her latest novel “a sort of geriatric big chill.”

“”What started out 50 years ago as an annual party evolved into a yearly reunion. Sam and Sarah are the elderly owners of a farm in central Iowa that turns into a private retirement community when it also becomes home to a disabled friend, a destitute neighbor and her daughter, and an expatriate artist. Together, this close-knit group confronts the hardships and disappointments of age and infirmity with courage, humanity and humor.

But beneath the surface, this rustic “home away from the old folks’ home” is not everything it seems. One of its inhabitants is a killer. Another is her victim.”

How far will these lifelong friends go to help each other when their way of life is threatened?


1. Yesterday marked the two-month anniversary of Snowflakes in a Blizzard. Just to refresh your memory, here are the books we’ve featured so far, in order of appearance.
“Island Dogs,” by Brian Simpson. Tuesday, May 26.
“Waiting for Westmoreland,” by John Maberry. Friday, May 29.
“Death of a Cabman,” by Nina Boyd. Tuesday, June 2.
“The River Caught Sunlight,” by Katie Andraski. Friday, June 5.
“What To Do About Mama?” by Barbara Trainin Blank. Tuesday, June 9.
“Turnstiles,”by Andrea Raine. Friday, June 12.
“Betrayal,” by Sharon Brownlie. Tuesday, June 16.
“How Not to Avoid Jet Lag,” by Joshua Brown. Friday, June 19.
“Caught,” by Deirdre Thurston. Tuesday, June 23.
“Thirty Perfect Days” by Claudia Taller. Friday, June 26.
“Downfall,” by Deborah Teller Scott and “Boiling Point,” by Karen Dionne, Tuesday, June 30.
“The Secret Corps,” by Peter Telep, Friday, July 3.
“When Clouds Gather,” by Ryan Jo Summers and “Did Ancient Chinese Discover America?”  by Charlotte Rees, Tuesday, July 7.
“Beneath the Stones,” by Susan Coryell and “Black Tide Rising,” by Kelvin Singleton,  Friday, July 10.
“Collision Course,” by Joe Broadmeadow and “Consciously Connecting,” by Holland Haiis, Tuesday, July 14.
 “Things Unsaid,” by Diana V. Paul and “Think Like a Writer,” by Tom Bentley, Friday, July 17.
“The Skeleton Crew,” by Deborah Halber and “The Solarbus Legacy,’ by Nicki Brandon, Tuesday, July 21.
“Mercedes Wore Black,” by Andrea Brunais and “Homecoming,” by Kate Hasbrouck, Friday, July 24.
2. Why is Dan Smith wearing a winter coat in July in our photo above? Maybe because he’s getting ready to go out into a blizzard. Note, also, the “Superman” cap.
3. On the Authors page, four of the names — Deborah Teller Scott,. Charlotte Rees, Karen Dionne and Kelvin Singleton — currently do not connect to the appropriate blog post. We’re working on fixing that.

Mercedes Wore Black

Mercedes Wore BlackPUBLISHED IN: 2014.

THE AUTHOR: Andrea Brunais.

THE EDITOR: Saundra Kelley (content editing).

THE PUBLISHER: Southern Yellow Pine Publishing, an independent publisher in North Florida.

SUMMARY: After a news reporter falls victim to her daily’s downsizing, Janis Pearl Hawk becomes a “backpack journalist” supported by an environmentally oriented foundation. Her mandate is to cover the “green” candidate running for Florida governor, but her path takes a twist when the murder of a campaign worker stymies law enforcement. Investigating the murder prompts threats to her well-being and possibly her life – or has she angered other powerful people with her reporting on the gaming industry, Big Pharma and a ship-channel dredging project at Port Manatee?

THE BACK STORY: As a reporter, columnist and editorial writer in Florida, I saw up close the unconscionable power of lobbyists and the often-subversive tactics of special interests. Meantime, Florida’s fragile environment continues to pay the price as money, power and politics are given more weight in the balance. Another motive for writing the book was to play out an idea of mine that a maverick candidate could win Florida’s governorship by stirring up a populist, rag-tag caravan of vehicles moving northward through the state to the capital, Tallahassee – a scene that could draw CNN news helicopters.

WAndrea BrunaisHY THIS TITLE? I love a teaser, and it tells something about a character while hinting at intrigue.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: Readers have told me that they love the page-turning quality, they learn a lot – and it gives them laughs as well!


“‘Mercedes Wore Black’ vividly depicts the underbelly of the newspaper industry and the all-too-real shenanigans of those who are ever willing to sacrifice Florida’s natural treasures.” – Joe Guidry, The Tampa Tribune.

“Brunais’s novel is light yet filled with substance, the action provided by a colorful and humorous cast. With an upcoming governor election, a lottery power-grab by JackPot, and an environmental cover-up at Port Manatee to pursue, Janis moves quickly, and the pace of the narrative matches her zeal. In the hands of a lesser writer, the sheer number of storylines might overwhelm the narrative. Yet Brunais deftly weaves them together, allowing each headliner due time for investigation. To those concerned about how voters are informed in today’s media, “Mercedes Wore Black” provides a multifaceted perspective of modern reporting: there is the good, the bad, and the downright frustrating. At its heart, though, “Mercedes Wore Black” is a mystery novel that keeps you wondering, as any good novel should.” – Stephanie Selander, Florida Book Review

“My favorite so far this summer has been Blacksburg’s Andrea Brunais’ “Mercedes Wore Black,” a mystery that involves ‘backpack journalism,'” politics and Florida, a great combo for a novel. – Dan Smith in his blog post “Gratitude: The state of books in this region”

“Whether a reader finds ‘Mercedes Wore Black’ a romantic political thriller or political thriller romance, it’s one of those books that does what the best examples of genre literature do – it teaches you a lot without your even knowing it. For that reason alone, it’s worth your time.” – Scholars & Rogues.

AUTHOR PROFILE: I am what’s laughingly termed a “recovering journalist,” currently working as a director of communications at a university and, ironically, employing all the tools of a backpack journalist. I’ve won many writing awards including from the Florida Press Club and Southern Newspaper Publishers Association and a Robert Kennedy Award for investigative journalism.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: With “Mercedes Wore Black,” I hoped to bring Florida journalism, politics and the environment to life in an entertaining way. Sadly, it came to pass that the dredging project in Port Manatee actually took place, and all damage environmentalists warned about actually occurred – and more. But it’s not a dreary book … there’s also a love interest, of course!


WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Southern Yellow Pine Publishing PRICE: $15.95 or, on Kindle, $4.99

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: or send message through


HomecomingAUTHOR: Kate Hasbrouck.

PUBLISHED: July, 2014.

PUBLISHER: Koehler books, Virginia Beach, VA. Writes Kate: “They took a chance on me as a new author and I couldn’t be more excited about the work they did! I love the cover design, everyone I worked with was really encouraging and patient with someone like me who was totally new to this whole publishing world!”

EDITOR: Joe Coccaro, Koehler Books.

ABOUT THE BOOK: Kerana is from a world without sin, and her people are a perfect people. Eli is a Fallen human who is trying to escape the darkness of his past. Her job is to protect the humans, and when he discovers her secret, nothing in Eden will ever be the same.

THE BACK STORY: “Writing has always been my greatest passion in life. I have written many stories growing up, and Homecoming was a response to my sister’s love of the supernatural stories. It also has a message about forgiveness, and I think that so many people struggle with things that have happened in their life or people who have wronged them, and among other things, this story was written to show people that you can find forgiveness, and that it will set you free.”

 Kate Hasbrouck

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: “I am 25 years old, happily married for 3 years this August to a wonderful man named David who is a pastor. We live in Florida and have two Ragdoll cats l, Rocky and Sophie, who entertain us more than TV does! I’m a big nerd at heart, absolutely love all things pasta (except with seafood), and am in the beginning stages of editing my second novel, the sequel to “Homecoming,” currently titled “Becoming”!

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: “Homecoming” is an interesting mix of the Christian and sci/fi genres that should appeal to both sets of readers.


By Emily Anne K on April 8, 2015

“In Homecoming, by Kate Hasbrouck, Kerana has finally entered adulthood, which means she has to spend a year in the human world. Going to college on Earth and trying to blend in with the humans is harder than she first anticipated. She draws the attention of nearly everyone around her, including Eli. Kerana’s encounters with Eli might just spill the secret of her home planet of Eden.

“Homecoming was different than I expected. I’m not quite sure what I expected, but it was certainly unlike any other book I have read. In a good way, of course. I confess, I could barely put the book down. The characters were sweet and had depth. Seeing Kerana experience earth and both the dangers and joys of it was entertaining. Both of the main characters grew in many ways.”

on April 16, 2015

“Homecoming,” by Kate Hasbrouck, is a unique fantasy/Christian allegory sort of novel. It almost reminded me of the few YA angel fiction stories I’ve read. Yet it was different.

Kerana is an Eldurian, sent to earth to protect and help the humans. Eli is a broken young man, just trying to get through day-to-day college life. Theirs is an unlikely story. Incredible things are bound to happen as the worlds of Earth and Eden collide.

I enjoyed the beginning and middle parts of this story well enough. The story concept was intriguing and I liked Kerana. Eli was a little bit harder to like, but as his story progressed, he grew dear as well. The end-ish of Homecoming was especially interesting and made me come to really like the story. I’m quite excited for the sequel now!! 🙂

The allegory/spiritual parts of this novel were incredible. Though I’m not sure how I felt about every little detail; overall, it was amazing. The Trinity. Meeting Adonai. Glimpsing His home. Feeling His love for Kerana and Eli. Seeing their child to Father relationships with Him. Some of it was simply mind-blowing. For the most part, I loved this allegory of God and His boundless love, and my soul has been truly touched.

Also, the theme of surrendering one’s destiny, relinquishing control of one’s life to your Creator… Simply powerful. I love a novel that teaches something, stirs your soul, reminds you, helps you in your walk with God. And Homecoming did that.

Oh…Kate Hasbrouck has a lovely imagination! 🙂 I really enjoyed some of the parts and things of Eden. Would love to elaborate, but I suppose you should read them for yourself! 🙂


I absolutely love love loved Homecoming!  The author has created a reality in fiction that is both intriguing and mesmerizing. I love supernatural inspirational fiction and this story is top notch! I love that the characters were opposites in a lot of ways and the story touches on some sensitive issues…such as brokenness and one character’s unwillingness to accept God’s plan for his life. I loved seeing the world through Kerana’s eyes and the chemistry with Eli. This story pulled me in on page one and did not let go. I’m thrilled that this is the beginning of what will be a series, because I need more….now!

WHERE TO BUY IT: “Homecoming” is available on (,
through Books-a-Million (
and through Barnes and Noble (


The Skeleton Crew

Skeleton Crew coverPUBLISHED IN: July 2014, paperback release date July 28, 2015.

THE AUTHOR: Deborah Halber

THE EDITOR: Sarah Knight

THE PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster.

ABOUT THE BOOK:  The Skeleton Crew provides an entree into the gritty and tumultuous world of Sherlock Holmes — wannabes who race to beat out law enforcement—and one another—at matching missing persons with unidentified remains. In America today, upwards of forty thousand people are dead and unaccounted for. These murder, suicide, and accident victims, separated from their names, are being adopted by the bizarre online world of amateur sleuths. It’s DYI/CSI. The web sleuths pore over facial reconstructions (a sort of Facebook for the dead) and other online clues as they vie to solve cold cases and tally up personal scorecards of dead bodies. The Skeleton Crew delves into the macabre underside of the Internet, the fleeting nature of identity, and how even the most ordinary citizen with a laptop and a knack for puzzles can reinvent herself as a web sleuth.

THE BACK STORY: ” I came across the story of a murder victim known only as the Lady of the Dunes. Since turning up with her hands cut off and her head bashed in on an idyllic Cape Cod beach in 1974, she had never been identified. I soon realized she was not alone: there are an estimated 40,000 Jane and John Does buried in potters fields and stowed in the back rooms of morgues across the US. And there is a dedicated contingent of web sleuths–volunteers who are trying to reunite them with their names.”

WHY THIS TITLE: I came up with around 30 possible titles, all playing on the notion of amateurs working cold cases in their spare time. My editor chose THE SKELETON CREW.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: The people, the cold cases, the unlikely success stories: I call it revenge of the nerd, rags to (relative) riches and triumph of the underdog all rolled into one.


“A lively study that’s part whodunit, part sociological study. . . . The result is eminently entertaining and will be devoured by armchair detectives.” (Publishers Weekly).

“Brilliant . . . Ms. Halber chronicles with lucidity and wit . . . the workings of this fascinating new subculture.” (The Wall Street Journal)

The Skeleton Crew is a carefully crafted account of an intriguing new opportunity for arm chair sleuths. Thanks to the Internet, anyone with a computer, curiosity, patience, and a passion for justice can enter the dark world of missing persons and unsolved homicides. It’s fascinating to learn how such matches are made and heartening to witness the growing cooperation between law enforcement and ordinary citizens whose persistence can sometimes crack the code in cold cases that have languished unresolved for years. I loved it.” (Sue Grafton)

Deborah HalberAUTHOR PROFILE: Deborah Halber started out as a daily newspaper reporter, then turned to the dark side to do public relations. She worked as a writer and editor for Tufts and as a science writer for MIT, where she chronicled everything from quantum weirdness (that’s the technical term) to snail slime. A freelance journalist since 2004, her writing has appeared in The Boston Globe, MIT Technology Review, the graphic news magazine Symbolia, and many university publications. A member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the National Association of Science Writers, she lives near Boston in a house with a lot of former pets buried out back.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “Researching THE SKELETON CREW was eye-opening. I had no idea that this world of lost identity existed on such a wide scale, and I never failed to be moved by the commitment of those within this world to bring closure to strangers.”




The Solarbus Legacy

Solarbus Legacy IIPUBLISHED IN:  2015 (Second Edition)

THE AUTHOR:  Nicki Brandon

THE EDITOR: Lorna Kiddoo, Russ at CreateSpace

THE PUBLISHER: Self-published with CreateSpace–Paperback and Kindle.

SUMMARY:  Farms had become dry and barren outside the city without power that had been deserted after the economic and social collapse brought about by the depletion of the world’s oil reserves.  In the wake of the catastrophe, just a relatively few fortunate survivors possessed a Solarbus.  They lived in a Cluster on the outskirts of the city.  A cruel futuristic society had formed, leaving the rest of the survivors wretched, scavenging wanderers, feared, but ignored by Solarbus Society citizens, who called them Terfs.

Jeff Parke and his wife, Eva, and their eighteen-year-old daughter, Clarissa, are privileged Solarbus inhabitants.  Because Jeff knows he has no right to be in Solarbus Society, he is seeking a promotion at his job with Computers, hoping it will give him status and security. A friend becomes a deadly rival for the same position, as he tries to expose Jeff’s situation.  Jeff’s wife, Eva, is unhappy as a confined Solarbus wife who wants evidence that Jeff loves her, suspecting that he may have another distraction.  Clarissa faces with dread her duty to marry and become a Solarbus wife when all she wants is freedom.  The penalty for not adhering to the rules of the governing Corporation is banishment.

One day, as they are going about their daily routine, a Terf kidnaps Clarissa.  Lured to the Terf’s mountain camp, Jeff and Eva follow the Solarbus that is carrying their daughter away.  At the camp, they uncover a sinister plot for revenge and justice.  And they discover lifelong harbored secrets, including, most tragically, the deeds their parents had committed a generation ago, during the terrible days of the Scramble, that forged a profound effect on their lives.

Nicki Brandon II

THE BACK STORY:  I was driving over to the gas station during the oil embargo of the 1970’s when I thought about what people would do without gasoline and oil to run their cars.  We wouldn’t be able to get to work, or to the grocery store.  The grocery stores would run out of supplies because there would be no deliveries, and on and on.  Americans must have their mobility.  If the world’s oil supplies became depleted, the economy would collapse.  Our homes would be useful for shelter only.  The entire infrastructure would disintegrate.  I thought—how about solar-powered cars?  Or, better yet, solar-powered motor-homes.  Then we’d have a place to live and mobility.  Then I saw that this could be a story.  So I went home and began a story about a family with a son and a daughter on the road in the solar-powered motor-home when a man steps into the road, and they stop for him.  As the story developed and changed, I knew it was a novel, not a short story.

WHY THIS TITLE:   The title was just “Solarbus” until I was ready to publish, at which time I thought “The Solarbus Legacy” would be better.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: This is not an environmental screed, but a well-told story. It’s one thing to predict a vaguely dark future, another to people that future with real people.


“I’m usually not into futuristic stories but I found this book to be very enjoyable. It presents a slice of what life could look like in the near future; bleak but with hope. A good read and a great start for this author. Probably a personal preference, as no one knows how language will be in the future, but I felt an overall stiffness and formality in the wording. If the setting was in the present time, I might make a suggestion to look at how people actually talk with each other with a more casual tone. Overall, liked it!”—Amazon Customer

“Seemed like a hopeless future until it opened up to many diverse characters making the plot bloom into a very enjoyable read. I liked the way the author brought in sudden changes in attitudes. The various personalities, descriptions and events coming up all through the book made it hard to put down. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to any age from young adult to senior”.—Carol Luke.

“Wish this author would do a sequel, it was that great!”—Jessica Crocker

AUTHOR PROFILE:  I was born in San Francisco and spent most of my life on the San Francisco Peninsula.  I loved living so close to the ocean, the Bay, and the city.  I had thought about writing during college but due to laziness I didn’t start until a few years later.  During those years, I married and was widowed young.  I had two children, so I remarried.  I wrote poetry published by small poetry magazines.  I published short stories and articles.  An Amazon short read called “For Time and Eternity,” that had been originally published in a quarterly published by Ken and Genie Lester, is now published on Amazon Kindle.  When I began writing the “The Solarbus Legacy, I did not think I could write a novel and finish it.  I was too undisciplined—always starting projects and not completing them.  And then I thought I would challenge myself and write the novel just as an exercise in self-discipline.  I ended up caught up in the world I had created, the characters were real, the adventure of their lives more interesting than my own.  Several people have told me that they want to know what happens after the end of the book.  So, I’m writing the second Solarbus Legacy novel, with a third planned.

AUTHOR COMMENTS:  I once had a friend ask me: when was I happiest?  Without thinking I said, “When I’m writing.”

SAMPLE CHAPTER:  See “Look Inside” on Amazon detail page.

WHERE TO BUY IT:  Barnes & Noble (on-line); CreateSpace bookstore.

PRICE:  Paperback 16.95; Kindle  2.99


Weather Report, July 20



Crime Scene


1. One thing that many readers of crime books, fiction and non-fiction, have in common is the innate conviction that they could have solved the crime — and more quickly — if only given the chance. This is the crux of “The Skeleton Crew,” a Deborah Halber’s fascinating look at a curious subculture.

The book provides an entree into the gritty and tumultuous world of Sherlock Holmes–wannabes who race to beat out law enforcement—and one another—at matching missing persons with unidentified remains. The web sleuths pore over facial reconstructions (a sort of Facebook for the dead) and other online clues as they vie to solve cold cases and tally up personal scorecards of dead bodies. The Skeleton Crew delves into the macabre underside of the Internet, the fleeting nature of identity, and how even the most ordinary citizen with a laptop and a knack for puzzles can reinvent herself as a web sleuth.

Deborah Halber started out as a daily newspaper reporter, then turned to the “dark side.” as journalists say, to do public relations. She worked as a writer and editor for Tufts and as a science writer for MIT, where she chronicled everything from quantum weirdness (that’s the technical term) to snail slime. A freelance journalist since 2004, her writing has appeared in The Boston Globe, MIT Technology Review, the graphic news magazine Symbolia, and many university publications. A member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the National Association of Science Writers, she lives near Boston in a house with a lot of former pets buried out back.

2. In “The Solarbus Legacy,” Nicki Brandon depicts a social and environmental crisis brought about by the depletion of the world’s oil reserves. In the wake of the catastrophe, just a relatively few fortunate survivors possessed a Solarbus. . Realizing how fiercely these vehicles were coveted by the rest of society in one city, the Solarbus owners clustered together in an isolated community, continually alert to efforts by those they called “terfs” to overturn the existing order. And when the daughter of two privileged Solarbus Society members is kidnapped, those two factions are forced to confront one another directly.

Nicki Brandon is a former legal assistant who threw herself into researching her dystopian tale after retirement. A resident of northern California, she has also had poetry and short stories published in various anthologies, webzines and print magazines. “The Solarbus Legacy” is her first novel.

Florida 1


1. In Florida, it is often said, politicians frequently get away with murder. This is generally meant in the colloquial sense, but Andrea Brunais’ entertaining novel “Mercedes Wore Black” takes the expression literally.

When Janis is fired from her job at the newspaper, she focuses on the causes that matter to her — the environment and the economy. When her good friend and co-worker Mercedes encounters danger and turns up dead, Janis’ efforts at investigating her murder lead her into a political maelstrom of big money, lottery, and interests with opposing goals. The book is set against the backdrop of the 2014 election.

Joe Guidry, opinion editor at The Tampa Tribune writes; “Fast-paced, exquisitely written, ‘Mercedes Wore Black’ vividly depicts the underbelly of the newspaper industry and the all-too-real shenanigans of those who are ever willing to sacrifice Florida’s natural treasures.”

Andrea Brunais is a journalist with more than 20 years in the field. After a career as a prizewinning reporter, editor, and opinion writer, she now works in higher-ed communications. She served on the editorial boards of The Tallahassee Democrat (then Knight-Ridder) and The Tampa Tribune (then Media General) and edited the Creative Loafing chain’s alternative weekly in Sarasota.As a journalist she won first-place awards from the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association, the Florida Press Club, Florida Academy of Trial Lawyers and the Florida Medical Association, as well as a Robert Kennedy Journalism Award for investigative reporting. She is the co-author of a book on media relations, “I See Your Name Everywhere!” Her first novel, “Night of the Litani,” set in Lebanon, received widespread critical acclaim.

2. Another Florida writer, Kate Hasbrouck, has produced an enchanting novel that might be called sci-fi/romance.

Kerana is being sent to Earth to begin her duty as an Eldurian. Hers are a perfect people, without flaw and without sin, never experiencing the fall of man. Created by God to shepherd His people on Earth, they remain in the shadows, unnoticed. Kerana looks human, speaks like them, and has been taught to act like them. Above all, her mission is to serve the humans.Arriving on Earth, Kerana meets Eli at school. He is an ordinary human, with a father suffering from alcoholism, and a past that threatens to ruin his life. A star scholarship lacrosse player, Eli has to forget his true passion and live in a shell that doesn’t let anyone in. Until he meets Kerana. They find themselves intertwined in a connection that neither can quite explain. When this connection puts the two of them in danger, they find comfort and protection from each other. When Eli discovers that there is more to Kerana than just her stunning looks and grace, the Eldurians and their home planet of Eden may not remain a secret for very long.

Kate Hasbrouck has been writing and creating stories for as long as she can remember. She had written several stories by the time she was a teen, but Homecoming was the first full manuscript she had ever written with the intention of sharing it with other people. She attended Houghton College, where she received her Bachelor’s degree with a dual-major in Writing and Psychology where she honed her skills. She lives in Florida with her husband, a youth pastor at a local church, where she spends time writing, ministering to teens, and enjoying the life God has given her. “Homecoming” is the first book in a trilogy.


1. Snowflakes in a Blizzard is approaching 2,500 page views, not bad for a blog that has only been functioning for a few months. We continue to seek followers (the sign-up key is on the left as you read the main page), but the page count indicates a groundswell of interest beyond that.

2. Brian Simpson, who writes as B.M. Simpson and whose wonderful novel “Island Dogs” was one of the main inspirations for this project, has a new Website, He — and I — invite you to check it out.

3. Another reason to read Andrea Brunais’ “Mercedes Wore Black” (above): The book is a finalist in the Florida Fiction category for the the Florida Authors and Publishers Association annual contest. The awards will be announced Aug. 8.

Things Unsaid

Things Unsaid cover

THE BOOK: Things Unsaid.

THE AUTHOR: Diana Y. Paul.

PUBLISHED IN: October 2015, but pre-publication copies are available.

THE PUBLISHER: “She Writes Press, a three-year old indie press located in Berkeley, California and founder of is dedicated to women authors and building a community of support for them. They publish approximately fifty books per year and have extensive professional experience from Seal Press. They are phenomenal!”

SUMMARY: A family saga of three generations fighting over money and familial obligation, Things Unsaid is a tale of survival, resilience, and recovery.

Jules, her sister Joanne, and her brother Andrew all grew up in the same household—but their varying views of and reactions to their experiences growing up have made them all very different people. Now, as adults with children of their own, they are all faced with the question of what to do to help their parents, who insist on maintaining the upscale lifestyle they’re accustomed to despite their mounting debts. A deft exploration of the ever-shifting covenants between parents and children, Things Unsaid is a ferocious tale of family love, dysfunction, and sense of duty over forty years.

Diana Y. PaulBACK STORY: When I was a professor at Stanford, teaching Buddhist philosophy and therole of women in Buddhism, I thought a lot about the differences between family obligation and karma as contrasted with western traditions. I always wanted to write a novel in which the main character struggles with both value systems. It evolved as my friends and I began to deal with tough choices: aging parents with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other health problems and one’s own family’s needs. Things Unsaid is the result of approximately three years of intensive writing.

WHY THIS TITLE?: The original title was Unhealed Wound, also the title of my blog. On my blog site, under the tab “Why Unhealed Wound”, I give the reasons for selecting that title and its meaning for the mythic hero: Harry Potter’s scar on his forehead, for example, or Frodo’s wound in Lord of the Rings, as well as its symbolism in Buddhism. She Writes Press changed the title to Things Unsaid, far less academic and more to the essence of the story. The new title suggests family secrets as well as the damage inflicted. I like that title much better, since Unhealed Wound may be a bit obscure for those who are not familiar with mythology.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT:  Choosing between parents and one’s own family is never easy, but now it is almost an epidemic since life expectancy is extending into never-before-seen advanced age. Things Unsaid deals with those issues that the sandwich generation—pressured between competing loyalties—has to confront. Most of my friends have had to deal with heartbreaking decisions. So did I. This is a fictional account with emotional truth. I placed it in the late fifties and sixties since that generation was a tumultuous one, the “Mad Men” times. I was a little girl during the sixties and grew up in the Midwest, the time and place for Things Unsaid, when our parents led separate lives and we had “shadow” dads. Think: “August: Osage County” meets Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant with an overlay of Buddhist karma.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Diana Y. Paul was born in Akron, Ohio with a Japanese American father and an Italian Catholic mother. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, with a degree in both psychology and philosophy, and of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, with a PhD in Buddhist studies. She is the author of three books on Buddhism, one of which has been translated into Japanese and German (Women in Buddhism, University of California Press). Her short stories have appeared in a number of literary journals and she is currently working on a second novel, A Perfect Match. She lives in Carmel, CA with her husband, Doug, and two cats, Neko and Mao, and various wild critters in the nearby canyon. Diana and Doug have two adult children: Maya Miller, who is in the wine industry and has two little girls and Keith Paul, who is an underwriter for an insurance company in the entertainment division. When she is not writing, she is creating mixed media art which has been exhibited in California, Hawaii, and Japan.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I have always been fascinated by the family in all of its permutations, both humorous and emotionally shattering. Hopefully, in Things Unsaid, I have combined a bit of both. Mostly, it is about how the best of intentions can still have unintended consequences. We all come from imperfect families and the dramas on television, in the movies, and in literature confirm that family saga and family peculiarities will always intrigue us and hook us in. I wrote Things Unsaid as another example of the surprises of a particular family in a specific time and place we can all understand.


Things Unsaid is a powerfully written story that explores the moral dilemma of love, duty and sacrifice for the family you are born into versus the family you create as an adult. Jules, the well-etched protagonist, seeks to find her way through the tangled tentacles of her mother’s narcissism, her father’s weakness, and her siblings’ secrets and selfishness. This tale of relationships grabs you on the first page and stays with you long after you’ve read the last words.” — Matilda Butler, award-winning author of Rosie’s Daughters.

“At first blush it appears to be a classic dysfunctional-family novel. Yet Things Unsaid is written by a scholar of Buddhism. And so, under its skin, it is a lively, accessible meditation on redemption, and on the transformative value of good intention and deed.” — Rebecca Coffey, science journalist and author of Hysterical: Anna Freud’s Story.

“A satisfying and provocative read, THINGS UNSAID is wisely contemplated, meticulously detailed, and powerfully and artfully rendered. A wonderful book, well worth your attention.”– Tom Parker, author of Small Business and Anna Ann Annie

“A bold and poignant story that brings deep insights into the messy and complicated world of family relationships, and shows how one woman is able to survive them with her sanity and spirit intact.” —Wendy Nelson Tokunaga, author of Love in Translation and His Wife and Daughters.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: Also see my author website for an excerpt:

LOCAL OUTLETS: In discussion with Bookworks (Pacific Grove), Pilgrim’s Way and River House Books (Carmel), and Bookshop Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz). Major distributors will provide to bookstores nationwide.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Things Unsaid –The publication date is October 13 with preorders now available on for $13.13 ($3.82 savings over the retail price of $16.95) and at Barnes & Noble for $12.86 ($4.09 savings). The e-book will be $6.95 but is not available as a pre-order.



Twitter: @DianaPaul10 Author website:


Think Like a Writer

Tom BentleyTHE BOOK: Think Like a Writer: How to Write the Stories You See


THE AUTHOR:  Tom Bentley

THE EDITOR: Tom Bentley


SUMMARY: The book’s core is how to see the world as a writer. It supplies tools to find and cultivate your writer’s voice, that unique combination of attributes—sensitivity to language, storytelling and audience—by which writers see and define the world. It discusses writing at a structural level: how words work in sentences and how sentences work in stories, moving to how to use those elements and that writer’s stance to write across genres.

It ends with how to deal with writing distractions, and offers a resources section with takes on practical matters of software, hardware and links to writing resources. And it’s written in a light, entertaining style.

THE BACK STORY: I wrote it because I’ve spent a lot of my time thinking about writing (well, that’s one way to not get anything written). I’m interested in the creative use of language, its power and its subtlety, and how it can affect us deeply. So I wrote about my own wrestlings with language and how it’s used to tell stories. And how to find and work with your writer’s voice.

WHY THIS TITLE?: The title came from the thought that there’s a way to apprehend the world as a writer, and how to fine-tune that apprehension. You realize that stories are everywhere, and you could write some!

WHY SOMEONE MIGHT WANT TO READ IT: Tom has been around the block more than a few times as a writer, and what he has to say comes not just from other books on writing, but experience.

REVIEWHow to Think Like a Writer COMMENTS:

1. “This book is the whole package: educational and instructional while applying all the techniques of authenticity and great storytelling in the process. Rich in vocabulary, many sentences are pieces of art by themselves, and great fun to read on top of it. The mix of biographical material to illustrate the points of each chapter and the actual sequences elaborating on said point’s relevance make you forget you are actually learning something very useful.” — Eniqma.

  1. T. Bentley not only provides a wealth of valuable information about the craft and business of writing (nonfiction and fiction); he shows you how it’s done by sparkling example. While nudging you to develop your own authentic storytelling voice, he shares his own, in all its irreverent, wise, funny, candid, word-drunk glory.But, a warning: If you read the book, you might, like me, suddenly run out of excuses for not writing. Also, you’ll probably never look at “fresh, steaming cat poop” in quite the same way. —  Annie Dennison
  1. Tom’s book encouraged me to see my way into new creativity. He helped me understand voice and how to create my own by playing with it. A fun read packed with good advice, easy to understand. A keeper and re-reader. — Jan

AUTHOR PROFILE: Tom Bentley is a fiction writer, an essayist, and a business writer and editor. (He does not play banjo, but he does likes to drink high-proof bourbon. .) He’s published hundreds of freelance pieces—ranging from first-person essays to travel pieces to more journalistic subjects—in newspapers, magazines, and online. He is the author of a coming of age novel and a short story collection. You can see examples of his services, his published writing, and his lurid website confessions at
AUTHOR COMMENTS: I hope people who read the book see how working with words is one of the most fulfilling pursuits there is. Despite the frustrations of writing, the rewards are limitless. Writing is a way of exploring your own thinking and your very self—and it can be jolly fun too.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: A couple of chapters are available here:


PRICE: $5.99

CONTACT THE; Twitter: @TomBentleyNow

Collision Course

Collision Course cover


BOOK: Collision Course (A Josh Williams Novel)


THE AUTHOR: Joe Broadmeadow.

THE PUBLISHER: JEBWizard Publishing through Createspace (Print) and KDP (Kindle format)

THE EDITOR: JEBWizard Publishing.

SUMMARY: Collision Course is a legal thriller incorporating elements of blind political ambition, the strained relationship between the Police and the minority community arising from racial prejudices embedded within police departments, a troubled war veteran, and the taking of a human life by a police officer in the line of duty.

The novel explores the human aspect of those thrust into a nightmare beyond their control. An ambitious US Attorney turns the rage of racial inequality into a platform for a run for the US Senate, perverting the Justice system and trampling over anyone in his way to succeed.

Joe BroadmeadowTHE BACK STORY: I spent 20 years as a police officer for the City of East Providence (RI). During that time, I saw many examples of inherent racism and prejudices within Law Enforcement agencies and the Criminal Justice system.

The only way to eliminate this pernicious infection within these insular worlds is to admit they exist, to expose them, and to work towards eliminating them.

The media often shows a skewed version of events, highlighting the dramatic at the expense of the truth. By writing these stories, I hope to show a more well-rounded perspective.

In the Josh Williams Series of novels, Collision Course and the upcoming sequel, Silenced Justice, I look to move that process forward.

WHY THIS TITLE: Collision Course implies the imminent violent contact between two entities. In this book, two men, from completely different backgrounds, collide because of circumstances beyond their control. Men that might have been friends if things had been different end up as pawns in a game of politics.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: The media is awash with stories of violent confrontations between the Police and members of the minority community. Much of the public discussions lack the basis to evaluate these situations rationally.

In this series of novels, Collision Course and Silenced Justice, I provide a view into the world from the perspective of an officer trying to do his job, having seconds to make life and death decisions, then facing the consequences of his actions compared to those over which he had no control.

These novels bring out the truth that racism is alive and well. Not just as part of Law Enforcement, but as a part of society as a whole, and requires our attention.

These novels also confront the reality of the politics of racism and the depths to which some will go to promote their own success.


By W. Prescott on January 2, 2015

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

5 Stars

Great story line with lots of unexpected twists and turns..and believable characters with whom you can identify. You will either love them or hate them. The author must have an extensive background with investigative police work because he deftly described the legal system, and medical terminology, as well as describing the camaraderie and banter between police officers. Being from New England, it was fun to have the story centered in familiar territory. You will enjoy this book. By gerald prendergast on December 10, 2014

Format: Paperback

5 Stars

This first book by Joe Broadmeadow was a great read. The interaction of the characters brings a real life feel to the novel. I think the men/women in a police uniform would enjoy this, maybe more than the average detective mystery reader, as it portrays the the life, the feelings, the interactions of the main characters in a real true to life fashion. A job well done. You come to admire the tight knit stick togetherness of the department against the actions of big government. It gives you a glimpse of the everyday interactions of our protectors on the street what they go through on a daily basis. I can’t wait for the next book, in the series. A well written portrayal of men and women who work on the street to protect us. By David Jarrett on May 8, 2015

Format: Paperback

4 Stars

I enjoyed this book. Its description does not accurately depict the story, however. It is more a legal thriller, about a veteran white police officer, prosecuted for a questionable civil rights violation after shooting and killing a black criminal who turned out to be unarmed at the time of the shooting. An ambitious United States Attorney sees the case as a way to advance his career in politics, while a maverick defense attorney and the officer’s friends rally around him in an attempt to clear him of the charges. The first sixty pages or so are backstory, somewhat more than necessary in my estimation, but some of this is necessary to set the stage for the courtroom drama that is to come. There is quite a bit of POV shifting, some of it somewhat jarring, but once the story really gets underway, it is hard to put down. The main characters in the story are fairly well developed — the secondary ones less so — there are so many that it was hard to do them all justice in a 360 pp. book. There is quite a bit of “cop speak” in the novel. Some of it gets a little tiring, but it is probably necessary for realism. The author has a writing style that I appreciate, blending drama and excitement with a dash of humor and a healthy dose of cynicism. All in all, I would recommend this book for anyone who enjoys legal thrillers.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Joe Broadmeadow retired with the Rank of Captain from the East Providence, Rhode Island Police Department after twenty years. Assigned to various divisions within the department including Commander of Investigative Services, he also worked in the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force and on special assignment to the FBI Drug Task Force. When he is not writing, he is hiking or fishing (and thinking about writing). Joe completed a 2,185 mile thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail in September, 2014. After completing the trail, Joe published a short story, Spirit of the Trail available on in Kindle format. Joe lives in Lincoln, RI with his wife Susan.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Collision Course began as an idea of giving readers an inside look into the world of a small city police department. Most crime novels, TV shows, and movies depict larger departments like NYPD and LA. The reality is most departments in the United States consist of 25 or fewer officers.

As the story progressed the long simmering issue of race and racism rose to the surface. The story told itself. Real life events echoed the realities of the level of racism still prevalent in our society.

Collision Course and the soon to be released sequel, Silenced Justice, try to expose this troubling aspect yet highlight the changes that have occurred and the painfully slow but steady progress made towards eliminating this from our society. SAMPLE CHAPTER:

LOCAL OUTLETS: Barrington Books, 184 County Road, Barrington, RI 02806 WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT:, Barnes& Noble

PRICE: Paperback $13.15 Kindle $3.99

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Joseph.Broadmeadow@gmail.comFacebook:

Twitter: @jbroadmeadow WordPress Blog: and

Consciously Connecting

PHolland HaiiasUBLISHED:  December, 2014

AUTHOR:  Holland Haiis

PUBLISHER:  Balboa Press; A Division of Hay House

SUMMARY:   Consciously Connecting is an exciting and easy step-by-step guide which will engage you with a weekly plan of action. It aids those who are too connected to technology with insight on “How to Reconnect” to themselves and others without the use of screens, keyboards or cell phones.

The book is divided into the twelve months of the year, each month has a theme, and within that month there are four weekly exercises. Each week’s exercise allows for a deeper connection to yourself, your life, and others, without having more things to do. This is about re-learning how to live connection, it’s not about having more things to do, it’s about BE-ing.

Learn how to disconnect from poisonous people, actively engage in the present moment, enthusiastically make time for play, and move in the direction of your goals. Consciously Connecting will reward you with a huge shift in your thinking and the way you connect to everyone and everything.

BACK STORY:  Consciously Connecting was written as I was experiencing my own disconnect and witnessing the disconnection of so many others. I was in the middle of Central Park, and more interested in my emails than my surroundings. Speeding taxi’s, joggers, and horse carriages can all be a recipe for disaster if you don’t look up!  It seemed timely to not only offer this gift to myself, but to others as well.

Consciously Connecting took one year to write and another six months to finalize putting all the pieces together.

WHY THIS TITLE?:  Working as a Wellness and Business Coach has allowed me to see the disconnect in my client’s personal lives and businesses. As mentioned, I was having trouble with my own work-life balance, and the word connection kept coming up in conversation.  When I work with a client it’s all about consciously connecting to what they desire, want, and need in their life or business, so the title seemed like a perfect fit.

WHY SOMEONE MIGHT WANT TO READ IT:  If you’re a fan of Super Soul Sunday, enjoy Deepak, Gretchen Rubin, or want to find balance and re-connection to the things you love, this will be a great tool for you. If you want to learn how to reconnect to spontaneity, creativity, connectivity, this will be an exciting and energizing way to go about that journey.

Consciously Connecting


Harvey Schachter of The Globe and Mail said “It may rejuvenate you in unexpected ways.”

TV Host Jason Galka states “Love this book, it is an easy and useful tool for anyone!”

Tony Award Nominated Actress Barbara Walsh “Consciously Connecting is a concise and clear guide on how to get focused and enrich your life’s path…..The empowerment felt as you strip away from to much technology to reconnect with your self and others is liberating.”

AUTHOR PROFILE:  Holland Haiis is a successful consultant, speaker and wellness and business coach that mentors and facilitates clients to reach their goals. She incorporates the principles of Consciously Connecting as she works with individuals and business to help them engage in a plan of action as they become awakened, get excited, and stay connected!

Holland coaches professionals, executives, small businesses, non-profits and individuals to facilitate transitions and assess new beginnings. She guides business owners on the path to become business leaders and transforms teams to bring their best to the work place. It is thrilling for Holland to have a front row seat to co-create and celebrate the success of others!

Holland also enthusiastically leads workshops and seminars as she engages participants to follow their unique and individual path to greatness.

AURTHOR COMMENTS:  “Thank you for taking the time to learn more about Consciously Connecting and Snowflakes in a Blizzard. My hope is that you will take this journey and connect to the celebration of your life and the people in it. Self awareness should be fun, and I believe you will experience that with Consciously Connecting.”


WHERE TO BUY IT:  The book is available in hardcover, softcover, and e-book.×648&kpid=9781452597850

Events:  Holland will be featured on Laura Sikorski’s Show, Sikorski’s Think Abouts produced by The Daily Blu, on July 20, 2015. She will be live on Fierte Haitienne FM Radio on July 11, 2015 and interviewed by Hay House Radio in August. If you would like to invite Holland to a book signing event please visit the link listed below.