Weather Report, Feb. 15




Most of us who are writers have heard that nagging mantra hundreds of times. And, truth be told, there is some validity to it.

On the other hand, what about all those sci-fi and fantasy authors climbing the best seller lists? Or the myriad novels focused on vampires (does anyone really claim to know one)?

Moreover, the Internet has expanded the definition of “what we know” considerably. I’ve never been to the Amazon, but if I wanted to write a novel about exploring it, I could no doubt find enough information on-line to pull it off.

Still, the Internet can only give you what other people have seen and experienced. It’s not quite the same thing as being there yourself.

Our three books this week all involve writing about familiar and personal subjects. I’ll start with Tim Bridwell, author of “Sophronia L.”

“I like writing about people in foreign environments, far from home,” says Tim, who currently lives in Paris, “yet I’ve been goaded to explore places and characters familiar to me. The place I am ‘from’ is Martha’s Vineyard Island (see photo above). Raised year-round on the Vineyard, it never seemed like a place I would want to write about; there were always more interesting places for me, and they were all off-island.

“Some years away from the States, I began thinking of what makes the Vineyard unique. The first thing that stood out for me was the island’s 19th century deaf community, far larger than anywhere on the mainland. There seemed to be no stigma attached to the condition, with rates of intermarriage between deaf and hearing partners equal to the norm. Their homegrown sign language was widely used by all islanders. Martha’s Vineyard was also highly involved in the whaling industry, from Edgartown, its whaling port to the east, to Gay Head (Aquinnah) on the far western side, home to the Wampanoag tribe with their renowned harpoon skills.”

So Tim built that into a narrative that has a strong ring of authenticity, even though the setting is 150 years ago.

Meanwhile, memoir writing pretty much defines “writing about what you know.” For Joshua Mendel, author of “Hineni,” the subject was, for a long time, too close for comfort.

“Beginning in January 2013,” he recalls, “my internal Guide (aka The Voice) ‘said’ to me: ‘You need to write about your life!’ This was not a casual thought but an ongoing Call that would not leave me. I would hear this throughout my day and later, it would wake me up at night!

“I made up a host of reasons and excuses for not writing; for example: ‘I’m a nobody. Nobody wants to know the maudlin events of my pitiful life!’ ‘That would be a big job.’ This was a big dodge and a holdover from my childhood: ‘We don’t air our dirty linen in public!’ (sigh…)

“As noted in my book, it became excruciating for me not to listen. One day in March 2013, I remember myself opening my arms, looking up to the sky, and saying: ‘OK I give up; so what do I write about?'”

And finally, there is my first novel, “The Kudzu Kid.”

It took me nearly 10 months, but I always knew I wanted to include one of my books in this project — not as some sort of personal payback for having put it together, but because I’m hoping it might give me some insight into how Snowflakes in a Blizzard  is working  (or not working) on an individual basis.

Moreover, the book revolves around a subject that’s close to me. Although I spent nearly 40 years in the newspaper business, I never took a journalism course in college. Rather, my early education in that regard came from two years with the West Columbia-Cayce Journal, a now-defunct (not my fault) weekly newspaper across the river from Columbia, SC.

To me, weekly newspapers are journalism at its gut level, and incredibly important to the communities they serve. A lot of the news they print won’t appear anywhere else.

I remember once seeing a masthead atop a weekly that said it all: “The Only Newspaper That Gives a Hoot About Jackson County.”

Yet as my main character, Eddie Fogarty, finds out, when an unpleasant story has to be written, there is nowhere in a small town to hide. Everyone knows who you are, and where to find you.

The best part of this book was that I got to use dozens of great stories from my journalism career — some that happened to me, some I heard about from other reporters, all safely “fictionalized.” I moved the venue from South Carolina to Virginia, but Virginia is where I spent most of my time in the newspaper business.

It’s what I know.




Sophronia Lambert, a schoolteacher on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, lives a quiet life—that is until Nantucket whaling captain James Folger comes ashore. Realizing he is the man who killed her deaf brother, she decides to pursue vengeance—first at home, then at sea—sailing to the far side of the world as his bride.

As she grapples with madness and morality, Sophronia’s quest mirrors that of her island community: to find a way forward amidst the pressures of a brutal industry, a nation mired in Civil War, and a past darker than the ocean’s abyss.


Mismatched to the norms and demands of his family, home religion, peers, and society, the author was a depressed, immature, and fearful recluse for 26 years of his life. Contemplating suicide at age 21, he heard a Voice. Learning to listen and follow that Voice, the author set upon a four-decade journey of recovery and healing, employing a range of traditional (and untraditional) religious and spiritual thought systems. In a Vision, this nontheist, birthright Jew realized to his surprise that The Voice guiding him on his journey was Jesus.

Hineni: My Walk Into Beautiful Life is an intensely personal and frank autobiography; an ethical will of how the author became a whole, human being, and what he learned and is still learning on his journey.


After hotshot investigative reporter Eddie Fogarty overreaches on a story and is fired by his large metropolitan daily in New Jersey, the only bounce-back job he can find is editing a weekly newspaper in backwater Southside Virginia. In that unlikely and alien setting, he finds culture shock, redemption, romance, and the biggest story of his life.












Odd Beauty, Strange Fruit



THE BOOK: Odd Beauty, Strange Fruit: Poems

PUBLISHED IN: October 2015

THE AUTHOR: Susan Swartwout

THE EDITOR: Jennifer Geist

THE PUBLISHER: Brick Mantel Books

SUMMARY: A Southerner by birth, Susan Swartwout’s writing is steeped in the gothic elements of life in the Deep South, a celebration of difference and uncommoners—odd beauties who embellish our plain lives. These poems explore the lives of freaks—celebrities of Southern fairs’ sideshows—such as conjoined twins Chang and Eng Bunker’s married lives, the Fat Lady’s work schedule, Tom Thumb’s Barnum-warped ego, all parallel to the hidden desires and plots of the rest of us. Our exterior normality belies the internal twisted landscapes—how complicity and silence echo abuse, how depression infects entire families, how a five-year-old learns to use words as weapons, how human need dispels language’s boundaries. From circus oddities to real-life boogeymen, from Louisiana to a Central American village, earth has no dearth of the gothic’s strange fruit, illuminating the complexity of what it is to be human.

THE BACK STORY: I’ve always celebrated difference–of color, creativity, gender, style. My poetic interests are how those differences manifest themselves within quotidian life, molding “difference” into girders of similarity that bridge the false waters of “not one of us.” The freak shows of the mid 1900’s in the South were a starting place, but I found difference to celebrate in other countries, other ages, and from living much of my adult life in the Midwest, difference such as the willingness of people in a remote Central American village (but not so remote that the Coca Cola Company couldn’t appropriate them) to spend a week’s wages to buy a Coke for the “sideshow” of an American painting murals in their church.

WHY THIS TITLE?  My Mississippi grandmother had a description of a person who was different, who didn’t match the standard qualifications of attractiveness. She’d say, “She’s a odd beauty,” meaning that the individual was indeed beautiful, but in a unique way. That phrase stuck with me. The “strange fruit” in the title comes from a poem by Abel Meeropol that later reached fame as a song by Billie Holiday. It seems the Southern flip side of odd beauty, a dark phrase for unaccepted difference and death rather than celebration.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT:  Many people are unfamiliar with the sideshow and circus freaks (as they call themselves) such as Charles Stratton, the Bunkers, Celesta Geyer (respectively, Tom Thumb, the Siamese Twins, and Dolly Dimples) or with the carneys who move and market the shows. And I imagine that few people have lived in a Honduras village that is a two-hour mule ride away from any road that could support a jeep or ATV. The poems give readers a short vacation to places very different from the American quotidian and to the magnificent Others therein.


“These vivid poems celebrate the carnivalesque, as M. M. Bakhtin would have it, the sacred and profane blending an edgy verbal gumbo of ‘kindled envies.’ Desperate changelings, this cast of misfits and saints hankers always to be other than who they are and to be anywhere other than where fate plunked them down. Swartwout renders ‘paradise parodied in such odd / beauty,’ that locale where spirit covets the body’s blood riches. Her gift is the flesh and funk of us given wings.” -Kevin Stein, author of Wrestling Li Po for the Remote and Poetry’s Afterlife: Verse in the Digital Age

“In Odd Beauty, Strange Fruit, Susan Swartwout’s discerning eye and musical ear offer a cast of characters ranging from Tom Thumb and The Fat Lady to related oddities beneath the surface of ‘normal’ life. From these well-crafted poems comes her view of the human condition as a Chang-and-Eng bond between beauty and deformity, comedy and tragedy, good and evil, reality and illusion, love and loathing. Beneath all this, abides the closing poem’s death-lipping blue catfish, ‘whose pale / blue skin mimics high heaven rising / from the river darkness like a heavy soul / or salvation.'” –William Trowbridge, author of Put This On, Please and Ship of Fool

“Susan Swartwout’s riveting poems take us from the time we are ‘born into our language’ through to adulthood. With an unflinching eye and a lust for invention, she exposes the curious beasts that men and women can become in whatever forms they might unexpectedly take. Through her keen lens we see the often unseen, seasoned by the ‘sweet venom’ her poems deliver.” — Sally Van Doren, author of Possessive and Sex at Noon Taxes

AUTHOR PROFILE: Susan Swartwout is Professor of English at Southeast Missouri State University, founder and publisher of Southeast’s University Press, and editor of the semi-annual journals Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley and The Cape Rock: Poetry. She is the author of several books, editor of 6 anthologies—including the military-service literature series Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors—and has published over 100 poems and essays in anthologies, collections, and literary magazines. Her writing awards include the Stanley Hanks Award from the St. Louis Poetry Center, New York’s Rona Jaffe Foundation Award for Poetry, the Davenport Award for Fiction, a Ragdale Foundation Fellowship, and Seattle’s Hedgebrook Writers Fellowship.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Many people I’ve met are reluctant to write their stories. They aren’t sure how to begin. Just write every day. Writing is a practice that must be performed regularly. Find workshops in which your work is critiqued by people doing similar kinds of writing, and you in turn must critique the work of others, in a diplomatic, responsible manner. Workshops will inspire you and require you to consistently work on your writing and revising. Be serious about your writing, and not just in a big rush to get something/anything in print no matter how poorly it’s prepared, nor so self-critical that you give up. Never give up. Your writing is your history.


This poem won the St. Louis Poetry Center’s Hanks Award:

When our eyes have opened to shadows in mote-thick air of the circus tent,

when old men’s droning of what circus once was and mothers’ sibilant

scolding to restless children has slowed to a barely perceptible pulse,

the carney throws back the bedsheet curtain, strides to stage’s edge

where he pauses, above us. In the growled breath of a crank caller, he twangs

his whiskey-hard speil: what you are about to see … nothin’ ever like it

on earth … tenderest part of the body… beyond human understandin’ … Electra.

From behind the bedsheet shuffles a scrawny woman whose bones knuckle

creped skin, her face the lined mask of a thousand farm wives: she reveals

no opinion. The carney’s arms and yellowed grin refer to her widely: door

number three: his prize in the faded two-piece swimsuit, Marilyn of canvas

roadshows. She stands mute, like the woman in Anderson’s tale who feeds

and feeds the world until she dies in moonlight, reborn a romantic

instant in villagers’ eyes as a lovely girl—mistaken and taken for what

she never was. We sit silent, praying for transformation to save her from us.

The carney reveals a cattle prod and the timepiece that is our breathing halts.

He waves the rod like a flag: it sings, whines to be fed—she is hypnotized.

The tenderest part of the human body, says the carney. He slides the rod,

horizontal, in front of her, not touching. Our nerves become her. Before her

breasts, then level with pelvis, he pauses the rod the tenderest part and moves

upward as if he would stroke her—for us—as if he would enter her on stage.

Rod at her throat, her tongue takes its cue, appears automatically in a curve

as if taking a bow the tenderest and he lays it down: rod onto flesh. The fake

smoke of his hell and susurration of his pardon that keeps her tied to this place

rise over her head like a benediction, resigning all faith in the tenderest part.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Southeast Missouri State University Bookstore or contact the author

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Brick Mantel Books,, Barnes and Noble Online

PRICE: $14.95


Beneath Still Waters

THE BOOK: Beneath Still Waters


THE AUTHOR: Cynthia A. Graham

THE EDITOR: Kristina Blank Makansi and Donna Essner

THE PUBLISHER: Blank Slate Press, an imprint of Amphorae Publishing Group LLC

SUMMARY: Hick Blackburn, a reluctant sheriff with a troubled past, is called to the scene of a gruesome murder. With nothing to go on except the victim’s race and sex, the task of discovering who she is and how she died challenges all of Hick’s investigative skills. But Hick faces a deeper challenge. The vision of the victim has left him shattered, a reminder of a war crime has tried to lock away, a crime that has begun to eat away at the edges of his life, destroying him one relationship at a time.

Set in the wake of World War II, Beneath Still Waters is a lyrical and haunting tale about the loss of innocence, the resilience of love, and the lengths to which people will go to survive.

THE BACK STORY: Beneath Still Waters is the culmination of thought … thoughts about war and those sent to fight and also about the notion of deciding who is worthy of life and who is not. I think too often war is romanticized. Rather than John Wayne type heroes, I wanted to portray the effects of war on the young men called to serve – the disorientation of being thrust from small-town America into a war zone. I wanted to write something that clearly showed the personal, individual cost of war.

WHY THIS TITLE? The title refers to both the water where the victim is discovered, and Hick’s state of mind. The saying “still waters run deep” is indicative of the inner turmoil he tries to disguise.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: I often describe this book as an “accidental mystery.” At its heart, there is a crime to be solved and through this crime the reader will be able to examine issues of life and death in small town America. Although the protagonist has lived through some dark moments, at its heart, Beneath Still Waters is a story of love, compassion, and community and stands as a reminder that there is no one beyond redemption.


“When the headless body of a baby girl is found in the swamp near Cherokee Crossing, Arkansas, it is up to Hick Blackburn, the town’s reluctant sheriff, to uncover the truth about the infant’s death. But the body isn’t the only thing that the still, murky waters of the Arkansas slough dredge up. The body stirs up powerful emotions in Hick – from the horror he faced and committed during WWII, to his tenuous relationship with his former fiancée – and in the town itself, making everyone reassess the place they call home and the balance between good and evil inside them all.

“Beneath Still Waters is Southern lit at its finest and most poignant. On the one hand we have Hick Blackburn’s struggle with his role in his family – his broken-off marriage with Maggie, and his relationship with his sister and brother-in-law (also his deputy) – and, on the other hand, Hick’s doubts about his place in the community. He didn’t want to be sheriff, and now he isn’t sure he wants to chase down the killer of the baby, as it might just be a young girl in town and he wants to avoid scandal. Cynthia Graham’s writing is crisp and to the heart. Her characters are true, honest, and quickly become a part of you. This book is a page-turner that will keep you guessing about the identity of the killer until the very end. And, yes, there is a mule within the pages of the story, but it isn’t dead. Highly recommended.” – Historical Novel Society, Editor’s Choice

“From the moment you step into the world of Cherokee Crossing, Arkansas, you will find it unforgettable … First-time novelist Cynthia A. Graham has succeeded in creating a setting and characters that flow in perfect synch.” – Claire Applewhite, author of the ‘Nam Noir series

“When the badly decomposed and headless body of a baby is found in the swamp, Sheriff Blackburn is, at first, reluctant to investigate. He suspects the perpetrator was probably a frightened teen and no good will be served by finding them. Since returning from duty in WWII, Hick has been trying to leave his past behind including giving up the woman he loves. And this baby has brought back memories of those days, memories he has been trying very hard to forget. But it becomes clear that he must find justice for this baby and, as he digs deeper into the crime, he begins to realize that he must confront not only his own past but the secrets lurking just under the surface of this small southern town. Beneath Still Waters by author Cynthia A Graham is much more than a simple murder mystery. It a beautifully drawn portrait of a post-war southern town as well as the stress returning soldiers experienced as they tried to reintegrate into civilian life after the trauma of combat. The characters are well-drawn and complex and, for the most part, very sympathetic. Graham makes you care about them, to feel you know them or want to and you care about the outcome, not only of the murder but of many of the other people in this small town who have been touched by it if only peripherally. This is a story about secrets and deceits, yes, but also about love and healing and community and it keeps the reader engaged from the first sentence to the last.” – Maxine, Goodreads reviewer

AUTHOR PROFILE: As a child, Cynthia A. Graham spent every weekend and vacation in the cotton belt of Missouri where she grew to love the mystery and beauty of the stark, delta plain. Today, Cynthia lives in St. Louis where she graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Missouri – St. Louis with a B.A. in English. She has won several awards for her short stories and has been published in both university and national literary publications. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society, St. Louis Writer’s Guild, Missouri Writer’s Guild, and Sisters In Crime.

Beneath Still Waters is her first novel.


WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Blank Slate Press, Your local independent bookstore

PRICE: $14.95


Double Identity

THE BOOK: Double Identity.


THE AUTHOR:  Jaye C Blakemore

THE EDITOR: Judith Jordon

THE PUBLISHER:  Outskirts Press.

SUMMARY: Identical Twins and Secret Lives…with Deceit, Murder, and Revenge! A passionate romance between charismatic French vintner Cecile Cardin and elusive billionaire art collector Paul Allenwerth leads to the birth of beautiful twins Gillian and Julianne, who are separated at the age of three during a mysterious divorce, and raised in completely different environments: Julianne absorbs the life of a small French winery, and Gillian lives in lonely luxury in New York City. Cecile and Paul take their shocking secrets to their graves…but they also leave their daughters with great wealth, an empire to run, and a strongbox that reveals a legacy they could never have imagined. As Julianne and Gillian learn of their parents’ past, and a family history steeped in unimaginable courage and tragedy, they must come to terms with the gifts and challenges that their parents have bequeathed to them, while making their way as independent women in the changing world of the 1970s. Only one twin will have the perfect life…but both will skyrocket through incredible journeys. Double Identity is a richly characterized, inventive thrill ride with plenty of suspense and romance!

THE BACK STORY:  I was traveling and as I went to bed this story started to come to me.  I laid in bed and the more I thought of this story the more in depth it became. I finally had to get up and start writing everything down.

The more I wrote the more that just came. Three months and 97,000 words later I had completed my first novel.  I am asked so often: Isn’t that a big book?  I had to put so much detail into every part of the novel, I truly wanted the readers to be able to envision exactly what my mind was seeing. Now, at the same time I had only expected the readers to be myself and maybe my family.

I became so involved with the characters I started to feel like they were a real part of my life. I even talked of them to family and friends and would try to explain what they were up to.


WHY THIS TITLE? The title came to me at the same time the book/story idea did.  I knew from the day I first started writing it the name, I also did something I do not hear from fellow authors I am friends with, I had the book cover created early on and looked at the cover daily.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: This book earned Jaye Blakemore the “Best New Author” award from the Dionisio “Best Of” Awards. Wrote one of the judges: “Jaye C. Blakemore is exceptionally talented and from a man who does not typically finish most murder mysteries due to constrained, traditional plots this book was remarkable because both the romance and actual murder itself supplemented this great story telling rather than defined it which is a refreshing new realm of innovation for contemporary novels. Double Identity is magically entwined with twists and turns of an imaginative, creative writer as the story is told from two character’s (twin sisters) points of view. Authentic character development, mystery, romance, passion with an unexpected ending made it wonderfully entertaining”.


DOUBLE IDENTITY is a one-sitting book, or at least you’ll try to read it in one sitting (it is 318 pages long!). You won’t want to put this one down. From page one, I was captivated!  Two twin girls, Julianne and Gillian, are separated at age three and eventually inherit a family fortune, along with a host of family secrets. Though twins, they have grown up differently and thus apply themselves differently to the world, and to the fortunes, and misfortunes, which await each.

Jaye C. Blakemore captures the times brilliantly—the 1970s. Her verse pulled me into the page and kept me there. Characterization is tremendous. I’ve read a lot of books lately, and this plot is truly unique. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in recent years.”  — Frank Scozzara.

“Just awesome, I loved it. I don’t read story type books much, I normally read self help but being I know the author I wanted to read what she had written. Boy was I surprised, I stayed up all night reading it and just loved it. I felt like I knew each and every character well by about half way through. I am so looking forward to her next book which I know she has all ready written, hehe I was blessed to be able to design the cover for her so getting to know the book and the characters was very important. I really could not believe what an awesome writer she is. Kudos my friend you did a fantastic job on this wonderful book.” — Elsie Roach.

“Wow; in this day and age with so many pressures from all sides, there is NOTHING like curling up with a book to take you away from it all. As a writer, I tend to read everything with either a weary contempt or a burning envy…but every now and then, you read something with sheer exhilaration, because you’re just so happy a piece of art is out there in the world for everyone to enjoy. 🙂 The characters are complex as is the plot, which will keep you on your toes (one of those “Okay, it’s two AM and I’m just going to read ONE more chapter…k, it’s 2:45AM…” (you get the idea) until you get to the “WHOA DID NOT SEE THAT COMING” ending!!”

I know what I’m getting for stocking stuffers and/or Secret Santa gifts; I know what I’m recommending to people for the same. Thanks Jaye C. Blakemore for reminding us all reading is an adventure to be cherished!!

I don’t normally write reviews BUT felt the need for this one. I’m super picky on books and this one kept me intrigued. The pace was fast and kept me guessing. Turning the pages was easy because the words created such vivid images and I felt like I was watching a movie! MUST READ!

A good read! Without revealing too much: the author plays a nice game with misleading the reader in his expectation how the story will go on. After about a fifth of the book I thought I know what would come – but I failed. Parts of the story reminded me on Fifty Shades but the plot of the story is much different. As the ‘art of writing’ of the author is awesome to read and easy to follow, I surely can recommend this book.

AUTHOR PROFILEJaye C. Blakemore has always enjoyed her vivid imagination, which has enhanced her enjoyment of travel, allowing her to relate deeply to the places and sights she has encountered across the United States. She has visited every state capital and many Civil War battlefields, as well as Arlington National Cemetery. Jaye C began writing Double Identity in hotel rooms at night during her travels, and before she knew it, writing was her new passion and vocation. Jaye C also enjoys live theatre, stargazing, fishing, and outdoor adventures. She is currently working on two more books, and looks forward to connecting with her readers.

AUTHOR COMMENTS:  I have had more fun both writing and promoting Double Identity.  Most new authors that I have spoken with tell me promoting is a lot of work, I have however found it is an in creatable journey.  I have met some of the most wonderful people along the way, had I not written the book who knows if I would have met the people I have.


 LOCAL OUTLETS:  Book Garden 559-592-2538 keeps autographed copies in stock


Barnes and Noble

 PRICE: Paperback 21.95  hardback 29.95  e-book on Amazon 3.99.


Weather Report, Feb. 8





This week, we’re opening another door, featuring our first book of poetry.

And naturally, being us, it’s probably not what you’d expect.  Susan Swartwout’s Odd Beauty, Strange Fruit doesn’t conform to the common ideal of beauty with poems about flowers and rainbows, but challenges us to find it in unlikely places — like a carnival sideshow from the last century.

Says the Southeast Missouri University English professor: “I’ve always celebrated difference — of color, creativity, gender, style. My poetic interests are how those differences manifest themselves within quotidian life, molding ‘difference’ into girders of similarity that bridge the false waters of ‘not one of us.’

“The freak shows of the mid 1900’s in the South were a starting place …”

Poetry is going to be a regular part of our rotation in 2016.



Cynthia Graham’s novel, “Beneath Still Waters,” also uses darkness to shed light. It’s a tale of a small-town Arkansas sheriff trying to unravel the death of an infant whose body is found in a swamp.

Writes Cynthia: “I often describe this book as an ‘accidental mystery.’ At its heart, there is a crime to be solved, and through this crime the reader will be able to examine issues of life and death in small=town America. Although the protagonist has lived through some dark moments, at its heart, Beneath Still Waters is a story of love, compassion, and community and stands as a reminder that there is no one beyond redemption.”



But Sunday is Valentine’s Day, after all, so we have to include a book with some romance. Enter Jaye C. Blakemore’s “Double Identity.”

From the Amazon blurb: “A passionate star-crossed romance between charismatic French vintner Cecile Cardin and elusive billionaire art collector Paul Allenwerth leads to the birth of beautiful twins Gillian and Julianne, who are separated at the age of three during a mysterious divorce, and raised in completely different environments: Julianne absorbs the artsy bohemian life of a small French winery, and Gillian lives in lonely luxury in New York City. Cecile and Paul take their shocking secrets to their graves…but they also leave their daughters with great wealth, an empire to run, and a strongbox that reveals a legacy they could never have imagined.

As Julianne and Gillian learn of their parents’ past, and a family history steeped in unimaginable courage and tragedy, they must come to terms with the gifts and challenges that their parents have bequeathed to them, while making their way as independent women in the changing world of the 1970s. Only one twin will have the perfect life…but both will skyrocket through incredible journeys. Double Identity is a richly characterized, inventive thrill ride with plenty of suspense and romance!

Happy Valentine’s Day.
















In Her Mother’s Shoes



THE AUTHOR: Dawn Lajeunesse.

THE EDITOR: I’m a big believer in thorough editing. Writers are too close to their own work to be objective and to see the typos/grammatical issues. My first two books both were edited by Mark Spencer and Terri Valentine.

THE PUBLISHER: Dog Ear Publishing

SUMMARY: Author Meredith Fields’ formerly placid suburban existence is shattering, and she’s not entirely unhappy about it. She feels guilty over placing her mother, Katherine, in a nursing home. Her husband, Keith, wants a divorce. She’s emotionally estranged from her children. And her next book is overdue.

As she sorts through her mother’s house before selling, she finds clues to Katherine’s shadowy past. She begins to understand why her mother related so poorly to her children and is shaken by parallels in her relationships with her own children.

When Meredith finds a journal she kept in her twenties, she is reminded of the love she once felt for Keith, and the extent of her loss settles in. A series of crises forces them to confront their relationship, but will it be enough to put Meredith on the path to mending her shattered family and life?

THE BACK STORY: Like the main character, Meredith, I had an inconsistent relationship with my mother. I knew she’d had a troubled childhood, but I didn’t understand the impact on her until I was middle-aged. Also like Meredith, I had access to boxes of letters that my mother had exchanged with friends and my father during World War Two, and gained considerable insight through those letters and family stories. Once the research was done, the story flowed fairly quickly, given that I was working full time and commuting three hours/day—a little less than a year. Although the story is fiction, there were enough similarities to reality to provide me with both understanding and closure.

WHY THIS TITLE?: Meredith had to walk in her mother’s shoes to see that as her mother’s behavior toward her children was impacted by her own troubled parental relationships, so Meredith was repeating her mother’s behaviors with her own children. That understanding enabled her to heal both herself and her relationships with her son and daughter and opened her to more meaningful emotional connections.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? I think many people, particularly women, can relate to troubled mother-child relationships. The story points the way to understanding and healing.


“In Her Mother’s Shoes by Dawn Lajeunesse is a touching, deeply satisfying story about a critical part of a woman’s midlife journey, which includes a journey where she must also face her past…. The story is a snapshot of real life. Women everywhere will appreciate In Her Mother’s Shoes.”

…Writers’ Digest Self-Published Book Awards…Score: 5 out of a possible 5

AUTHOR PROFILE: After years in the health care field, I finally pursued my writing passion. I published my first novel, Autumn Colors, after my fiftieth birthday, followed a few years later by In Her Mother’s Shoes. I’m currently hard at work on my third novel, working title Gram and Me. I live north of Saratoga Springs, NY with my husband, Dennis and Border Terrier, Nala. We can be found frequently paddling our canoe on Adirondack lakes and rivers, biking the roads of northern NYS, cross country skiing, or climbing one of the beautiful mountains surrounding us.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “My novels come from real life experience—some my own, some from people close to me, and sometimes just from someone or something I’ve observed. The settings are places I know and love. I maintain an active presence on social media, blog periodically (when I have something worthwhile to say!), and keep my website ( fresh and current.”

LOCAL OUTLETS: In Her Mother’s Shoes can be ordered through any bookstore, or ordered through Amazon (, Barnes & Noble ( and is formatted for iPad reading.

PRICE: Paperback $12.99 ($10 at shows and signings); e-book $2.99.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Website: – go to Contact Me page;

LIKE and/or message me on Facebook:

FOLLOW me on Twitter: @mtnwriter77

CONNECT with me on LinkedIn: Dawn Lajeunesse, Author


Tuesday Replay, Feb. 2



A coming of age story of a high school senior whose family has fractured and he finds himself at a new school in the isolated mountains of North Carolina. He is a good athlete, so fitting in is not a major problem. He is recruited for the nationally-prominent square dance team (winner of three national championships) because mononucleosis has decimated the squad and he adjusts well, loving the sport.

The book concentrates on Eb McCourry’s adjustment and growth in light of a number of challenges. He faces violence, pedophilia, uncertainty about his future, his first love, the poverty of his past and finds inspiration in a crusty old coach who takes him under his wing.


It is a book with strong women characters (the square dance coach is based on the legendary Kay Wilkins) and pits country vs. city, wealth vs. poverty, heritage vs. ambition.


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?


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 gets 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: homebirth 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 deliver one woman from fear into a rich and risk-filled life.


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 a recent retiree. Married nearly 50 years, Sam is a former lawyer suffering from congestive heart failure. But he knows there’s nothing wrong with his wife’s heart. Sarah is an ex-English teacher and a resourceful farm wife who flinches at nothing in the service of those she loves. She’s also a “murderer.”

Sarah’s “victim” is a lifelong friend more full of mischief than life. He comes to spend his remaining days with Sam and Sarah when it’s clear those days are numbered by a painful degenerative bone disease. Determined to commit suicide while still physically capable of it, he bargains with Sarah to postpone his plan by extracting from her a promise to “help” him when the time comes. He argues that her assistance would constitute an act of mercy similar to that she performed for her cancer-riddled old dog; it would be “the last best thing” she could do for her friend.



Seeing Mt. Everest was Eric West’s dream. It wasn’t on his bucket list… it was his dream. In 2011, he arrived in Nepal armed with nothing more than a mindset he called Showing Up. Showing Up seemed to change his luck; the more he was present, the luckier he became. He would see Mt. Everest (and eventually go on to climb it), meet true love, and change his destiny forever, all within moments of each other. How could this possibly happen? Embedded in that question lies the simplicity and potency of Showing Up.

West’s adventures began as a college exchange student in London, England. He went on to become a school teacher in Tokyo, Japan. Later as a captain in the billion dollar mega-yacht industry, he visited exotic destinations via luxury yachts most landlubbers only saw on the cover of glossy travel magazines. But his dream was to one day visit Mt. Everest. Armed with no climbing experience, he showed up in Nepal. Within days he met a Dutch climbing guide he would later marry. Their high-altitude romance set in motion plans to climb the flanks of Everest together the following year.


After the death of her daughter in the first book of the series, Maxine “Mad Max” Davies’ new role in life, full-time grandparent raising two grandchildren, takes her into post-Katrina Mississippi, nature’s newest wasteland. While she gets used to raising children again, she also learns to live in a region where most of life’s conveniences vanished in the storm and tidal surge. She must protect her grandchildren as well as help others in this new environment. Along the way, she encounters racism, murder, modern-day slavery and child abuse.