2. Refuge


THE BOOK: Refuge


THE AUTHOR:  Melinda Viergever Inman

THE EDITOR: Joe Coccaro

THE PUBLISHER: Koehler Books, John Koehler owner and publisher

SUMMARY: Refuge is the story of Cain, Abel, Lilith—the sister Cain desires to marry, and what happens next. It deals with sibling conflict, a relationship we would consider to be incest, fratricide, immorality, cutting, attempted suicide, revenge, and redemption. It’s gritty. Back-cover Blurb: Intent on total destruction, Satan notices Cain’s obsessive lust for Lilith and the dark roots of jealousy growing deep in his soul toward his do-gooding brother Abel. Satan goads Cain to the point of madness, barraging his mind with thoughts of hatred, lust, and futility. In a blinding rage, Cain wrecks everything. Wracked with shame, he flees into the vast wilderness, unable to possess the one thing he truly desires – Lilith. His life is destroyed. Will he ever find his way back? He longs for refuge. Can he ever find God again?

THE BACK STORY: I drafted Fallen, the prequel to Refuge, first. At one point I had to lay aside Fallen to process all I was learning about myself. I needed distance. As I reflected, I dug more deeply into background information and let the manuscript sit.Simultaneously, the next story within this first family began to press on my heart – the story of Cain, Abel, and their sister. I knew that writing about the children of Adam and Eve would help me uncover more of their character for Fallen, so I let Fallen sit for a few years and went ahead with Refuge. I named Cain and Abel’s sister Lilith, the name of legend, since Cain’s wife’s name is not given in the bible. I spent several years writing, editing, and researching Lilith, Hebrew and Akkadian myth, Sumerian history and storytelling, and demonology – something I never thought I’d study.

For the framework of Refuge, I adhered very closely to the biblical record in Genesis. But Lilith’s name is from ancientSumerian and Akkadian campfire storytelling and Jewish legends. In Hebrew, in the book of Isaiah, the name is used for a desert demon—a screech owl type entity, not a woman at all. Around the campfire this name of an evil spirit somehow morphed into a woman. The name still fuels stories today. I attempted to craft a woman whose real-life actions could have sparked myth and legend. I believe at the root of myth, there are real events that have been enlarged, misconstrued, and turned into fable. In the bible a type of demon is given this name. In ancient times, strong and passionate women were often demonized. Maybe we still are. With Lilith’s character, I crafted a woman whose actions could have been retold by her enemies in an evil light. Researching Lilith and discovering the demonization of this ancient woman was another piece to my growth as a woman as I researched both of these first two novels.

WHY THIS TITLE?: Cain is the protagonist. At first he seeks refuge in Lilith, thinking she is all he needs. But then he wrecks everything and must leave her and the family. He wonders if he’ll ever have Lilith again or any refuge at all. He wanders homeless and alone, but this journey shows him something about refuge and shelter that he never understood before. When I researched the Hebrew understanding of this passage in Genesis, Refuge became the obvious title.

WHY SMelinda InmanOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT My stories deal have protagonists who are wounded or who suffer within the story. My lead characters make tragic mistakes. They have an ax to grind with God. Most of us can relate to this, and so the story feels deeply personal and restorative. Additionally, because these first two novels are about biblical narratives we’re all somewhat familiar with – Cain and Abel, The Garden of Eden, we’re always curious about the reality. Plays, novels, movies, short stories, and music still revisit these themes. We wonder: What don’t I know about this that might be uncovered? What would these people be like with skin on and real emotions? In bringing these people to life, we discover they’re not so very different from us.


Review #1: “Cover to cover a great read! Refuge is not only historically enlightening but a fascinating and poignant depiction of human nature. Real struggles with guilt, lust, anger, frustration, jealousy and insecurity are depicted with honest, raw and truly captivating candor. The characters are diverse, the setting is engrossing; the story feels very real.” by Erin Holcomb, Classical Educator

Review #2: “From the moment of his own fiery fall to earth, Satan has sought to thwart God’s plan. He enflames our desires to have what is not rightfully ours to lead us from God’s chosen path. David, driven by murderous passion, was willing give his entire kingdom to have Uriah’s wife. Surely God couldn’t use, let alone redeem, David after this. Or could He? Melinda Viergever Inman’s story of Cain and Lilith, Refuge, draws us in to a story of rage, pain, passion and despair where we, too, wonder how God could possibly take this mess and make it right, let alone beautiful. A magnificent story that restores hope for our brokenness and leaves God firmly enthroned and in control of His creation!” Author Bruce VanHorn

Review #3: “Melinda Viergever Inman takes Cain’s act of killing Abel after God’s rejection of his own sacrifice, and weaves it into a cosmic battle between God and Satan, reminiscent of Milton’s epic Paradise Lost. She creates a poignant love story between Cain and his sister Lilith and then turns Cain’s failure into a story of God’s love and redemption. Inman inhabits Adam’s and Cain’s world with believable characters and supplies delightful details along the way so that the reader can visualize that world. The book is a real page turner as Inman creates suspense motivating the reader to persist till the last page and then beyond into the reader’s guide.” by Jo Ann Pevoto, Professor Emeritus, College of the Mainland, Former Co-Editor Poetry Texas, The Sidewinder, and Hurakan.

Review #4: “Refuge plunges readers into the time of Adam and Eve, filling the white space between sentences in the story from Genesis we know so well with ingenuity. The fallen world in which Adam, Eve, and their children find themselves is one you and I can relate to, after all it is our own. Yet the landscape of Refuge manages to maintain the exotic ether of its former glory, the vapors of perfection having only just begun to dissipate. There is intrigue in this young earth where Cain, Abel and their siblings are beginning to experience the effects of their parent’s sin, and commit new sins of their own. In this place, visible angels stand guard at the entrance of Eden, an ever present reminder there’s no going back.” by Jen Sloniger, Writer

AUTHOR PROFILE: My roots were sunk in a storytelling Oklahoma family. During years of relocation, tragedy struck. Wounded and heartbroken, I forsook my roots and ran from myself and from God. A journey of trial and heartache brought me home again. A prodigal now returned to my secure foundation, I write with passion to illustrate God’s love for wounded people as he makes beauty from ashes. I serve and teach women in prison through a 12-step program. With my husband and family I’m involved with Mission India, rescuing orphans and providing theological and job training for impoverished students. More of my story can be found on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnAMzuJGPlE

AUTHOR COMMENTSThe year I wrote Refuge one of my sons was running from God. I’ve done that, too, and I wanted my son to know that God loves him so much that he’s willing to forgive any sin, no matter what it is. I know this firsthand. I wrote with the passionate intensity of a mother, seeking to portray a message of love from a merciful and compassionate God. This son of mine has now been restored. I have his permission to share this part of the story.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: This Amazon link contains a sample chapter: http://www.amazon.com/Refuge-Melinda-Inman/dp/1938467884/


Amazon: paperback $17.87; ebook $3.49 http://www.amazon.com/Refuge-Melinda-Inman/dp/1938467884/

Barnes  & Noble: paperback $17.87; ebook $3.49 http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/refuge-melinda-inman/1115527653?ean=9781938467882&itm=1&usri=9781938467882

Apple iBook: ebook $3.99 https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/refuge/id827040351?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

ChristianBook.com: paperback $17.96 http://www.christianbook.com/refuge-melinda-inman/9781938467882/pd/467882?item_code=WW&netp_id=1239876&event=ESRCG&view=details/

Website: http://melinainman.com 

Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Melinda-V-Inman/189731601076470?fref=ts

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/melindavinman/


Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MelindaViergeverInman/posts/p/pub


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 http://www.spiritualmemoir.com and http://www.elizabethjarrettandrew.com.

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.

1. 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!

SAMPLE CHAPTER: http://www.amazon.com/Mercedes-Wore-Black-Andrea-Brunais/dp/1940869102/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1434205330&sr=1-1&keywords=mercedes+wore+black.

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

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: bookeditor@gmx.com or send message through https://www.facebook.com/MercedesWoreBlack

2. Homecoming

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 amazon.com ( http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1940192218/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1424882652&sr=8-1&keywords=kate+hasbrouck&dpPl=1&dpID=51fD0hoakFL&ref=plSrch),
through Books-a-Million ( http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Homecoming/Kate-Hasbrouck/9781940192215?id=6248784645457)
and through Barnes and Noble ( http://m.barnesandnoble.com/w/homecoming-kate-hasbrouck/1117220008?ean=9781940192215


1. 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.”


WHERE TO BUY IT.http://amzn.to/1BWXsU9



2. 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. http://www.amazon.com/The-Solarbus-Legacy-Nicki-Brandon/dp/149287177X

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

PRICE:  Paperback 16.95; Kindle  2.99

CONTACT THE AUTHOR:  nickibrandon5@gmail.com

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, http://www.BMSimpson.com. 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.