1. Gap Year Girl

Gap Year Girl cover


BOOK: Gap Year Girl: A Baby Boomer Adventure Across 21 Countries


THE AUTHOR: Marianne C. Bohr

THE EDITOR: Annie Tucker

THE PUBLISHER: She Writes Press

SUMMARY: Baby Boomers married for more than 30 years dare more than the ordinary by walking away from their comfortable life to take a mid-life gap year abroad. Marianne and Joe Bohr jump off the proverbial cliff to follow a travel dream: they unload their house, sell the cars, quit their jobs and say goodbye to the US in search of adventure. They start and end their journey in France and travel through an additional 20 countries in-between.

THE BACK STORY: Gap Year Girl recounts details of their longing to get the trip underway during the year prior to departure and the experiences, epiphanies, highs, lows, struggles, surprises and lessons learned on their journey as independent travelers in an endearing, entertaining way. The memoir transcends the experience it recounts to tie into the universal human themes of escape, adventure, freedom, discovery and life reimagined.

WHY THIS TITLE: In addition to the standard travel destinations of European capitals, Gap Year Girl Goes to Europe includes visits to out of the way places such as Carcassonne, France; Andorra; Fez, Morocco; Agrigento, Sicily; Malta; the Greek islands of Rhodes and Kos; Split, Croatia; and Butrint, Albania. The reader cannot help but vicariously savor the food of southwestern France, sample the spices of Morocco, sip the wines of Italy and hike the Mont Blanc circuit from Chamonix, France through Courmayeur, Italy and Champex, Switzerland. But the book also gives a realistic look at the downside of extended independent travel in foreign lands by relating those periods when very real blues descend and loneliness and the longing for contact with family and friends weigh heavily.


WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: Millions harbor the fantasy but few follow it: kiss your jobs goodbye, pack your bags and take off on a quest for adventure. Gap Year Girl encourages those who have long yearned to follow their bliss for a year to do just that. Readers quickly find themselves immersed in a reality tale of leaving it all behind for medieval villages, the lights of European cities, unimaginable culinary pleasures, hikes in the Alps and along Mediterranean coasts and the wildly entertaining (and sometimes infuriating) characters they meet along the way as pleasures unfold on a peripatetic, past the-blush-of-youth journey.


“[In Gap Year Girl,] Bohr steps outside of her comfort zone and explores the world…and she vividly conveys her experiences, such as when she describes the chaotic streets of Morocco and the loneliness of the bucolic French village Saint-Cirq-Lapopie.”

— Publishers Weekly

“Bohr shines…provid[ing] glimpses of herself as a whole person, not simply a traveler. Gap Year Girl is an excellent choice…a travelogue filled with historic places, but its personal stories provide its highlights.”

—  Kirkus Reviews

Marianne Bohr has that rare knack of bringing the kaleidoscope of experience alive with a few well-crafted words; she seduces her reader away from black and white text into a reality where all the senses are teased.

–– Kev Reynolds, Bestselling author of The Tour of Mont Blanc, Cicerone Guides

AUTHOR PROFILE: Marianne Bohr, freelance writer and editor, married her high school sweetheart and travel partner. With their two grown children, she follows her own advice and travels at every opportunity. Marianne lives outside Washington, DC where after decades in publishing, followed her Francophile muse to teach middle school French. Her first book, Gap Year Girl: A Baby Boomer Adventure Across 21 Countries, was be published by She Writes Press in September 2015.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I so enjoyed writing Gap Year Girl and recounting the events and emotions that led to the leap of taking a year off from regular life. I think this excerpt captures how I felt:

The moniker Gap Year Girl made its appearance about six years prior to our departure. One hazy summer afternoon, while sitting behind my office desk, gazing out the window at the suburban parking lot below, my mind wandering beyond the budgets and strategic plan in front of me, I had an existential moment. I needed the prospect of an escape, and I needed to give it a name. In my mind’s eye, I was no longer senior vice president of a book distribution company; I was Gap Year Girl, an expat living in Europe—my new alter ego. This paradigm shift of how I viewed myself changed everything. From that point forward, I focused on making our gap year a reality. And I decided then and there to leave the world of business I’d inhabited for a quarter of a century. I saw my future as clear as day: I was going to make a midlife, post–gap year change and follow my bliss. By the end of the week, I’d registered for a master’s degree program in secondary education and was on my way to becoming a middle school French teacher.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Available at all independent bookstores, B&N, and Amazon

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Ingram Publishers Services

PRICE: $16.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: mariannecbohr@hotmail.com; 301-326-8336


Hibernation Time

It’s such a luxury to be awakened by the sun, not an alarm clock, knowing there’s absolutely nothing we must do. After thirty-three years of a baby’s cry, a child jumping in our bed, or a buzzer to start our mornings, we’ve finally gotten used to being reprobates with loose agendas. But we take our languid days to a new level in our relaxing apartment in Rome. We follow nature by hibernating in our warm refuge, where we take things slowly, resting up for exploits yet to come.

We spend many a day rising late; having a leisurely breakfast in our laid-back studio; listening at noon to what we’ve started calling Afternoon Edition on NPR; catching up on e-mails, blogging, and our journals; finishing the novels we resolved to read while abroad; and then sipping cups of hot afternoon tea. We also spend many hours of these days planning our itinerary and reserving trains and hotels for the peripatetic weeks in southern Italy that will follow Rome.

When we imagined our year away, we glossed over the winter months, knowing

we would be in Italy but not focusing on the reality of the cold. Now that we’re here under a reluctant sun and in the company of an unusual frigid snap, we decide simply to hunker down. Our most difficult daily decision is whether to eat in or go out. Interspersed with warm days inside are those when we don hats, scarves, and gloves to brave the chill and discover the nooks and crannies of sprawling Rome, those often overlooked by those with limited time. It’s a glorious insalata mista of a metropolis, since it’s been here for so long and offers sights from every century of the past three millennia.

Our apartment is conveniently located on Via Flavia, not far from the American embassy on Via Veneto and just inside the city’s walls. It’s a spacious studio on the top floor of a five-story building with a red-tiled terrace that provides plenty of natural light and a place to hang our laundry. In an unusual twist, we reach our apartment through the lobby of the Hotel Medici and take the elevator to the privately owned residences. Different, yes, but it’s nice to have twenty-four-hour security guarding the building and someone at the front desk to greet us with buon giorno and ciao as we pass by. Off the tourist track, our neighborhood is quiet and safe, since government buildings surround us. It’s also filled with family-run restaurants, and we diligently try every one. Part of why we’re so conscientious about marathon training is that we need to work off the hefty servings of pasta of all shapes and sizes we consume, some of which we’ve never had before: spaghettoni, bucatini, cavatappi, tagliatelle, pappardelle, and—my all-time favorite—strozzapreti. I’m certain just listing them broadens my hips. I satisfy any sweet cravings with an after-dinner digestif—not as luscious as the creamy tiramisu Joe enjoys, but with many fewer calories. Running in the classy Villa Borghese park nearby is a godsend for burning off all the extra carbs.

Our Roman pied-à-terre is indeed convenient and comfortable, and the Internet is rock solid, but what we actually love best about the place is Stefano, our amusingly charming landlord. Without him, the apartment would be just another worn-around-the-edges studio; with him it’s like inhabiting a season of I Love Lucy, Italian style.

Stefano is a fiftysomething composer of movie scores who spends most of his time with his girlfriend, who lives in the apartment above us. He’s tall and attractive in a rumpled kind of way, the lines of his face hiding a gentle handsomeness. He speaks quirky English with a lilting Italian accent and apologizes repeatedly for being a musician and not a very good businessman.

We got our first taste of what renting from Stefano would be like even before we checked in. He graciously agreed to store our large duffels while we traveled with our small bags to Norcia and Florence, but he needed to “request a piccolo favore.” He’d lost his wallet that morning and asked if we could pay the balance of our rent in cash when we dropped off our luggage. “No problem,” we agreed. “Happy to help.” (Little did we know that in the ensuing weeks, Stefano would lose not only his wallet but his phone, TV remote, computer power cord, and keys.)

When we arrived for our month’s stay, Stefano was contrite about the less-than-stellar condition of the television (it didn’t work), the clothes washer (it leaked), and the refrigerator (on its last legs and barely cool). He promised to replace them all within the week.

Now we make do with what’s provided, including kitchen drawers stuffed with faintly sticky cutlery. Ten days pass, and although we hear all about Stefano’s lost items (he borrows the portable phone from our apartment after losing his cell phone), he makes

no further mention of new appliances. When we finally break the news that the old fridge has collapsed, he apologizes profusely and comes right down to take measurements for its replacement.

We head out for a day of communing with ancient Romans among the ruins, and when we return, we find the freezer open and defrosting, along with a note that our food is in a fridge in a closet across the hall. Stefano hopes we don’t mind that he put a load of his clothes in the leaking washer and borrowed our laundry soap.

What can we do but laugh?

The next morning, Stefano stops by to pick up his laundry and informs us that he has ordered the new fridge. “I have chosen the quickest delivery—forty-eight hours,” he says, “but do not forget, this is Italy, so we really don’t know when it will arrive!”

Two more days pass, and each morning Stefano knocks on our door to express how embarrassed and discouraged he is about the appliance merchant he selected. When I tell him not to worry, he coos, “Marianne, you are so gentle; thank you for being so gentle with me” (the English false friend of the Italian gentile, meaning “kind”).

With each morning visit comes a new request. First, Stefano borrows one of our Mac power cords because, of course, he has lost his. The next morning, when we greet him, he asks to rifle through the bottom drawer of the apartment’s sideboard to find an extra TV remote; his girlfriend has misplaced hers (or perhaps it was he).

“You rented my apartment for your holiday in Rome, and all you see is my face,” he laments.

On the third morning, Stefano declares, “Definitely tomorrow—by then the new machines will definitely arrive.” But then it snows and all of Rome stops, including the delivery truck carrying our new appliances.

After yet a few more days, there’s a knock at our door late one afternoon. There stands an ebullient Stefano with a new fridge, TV, and washing machine in the hallway. We set aside our plan to eat in and leave Stefano and the long-awaited machinery by themselves while we set out to find dinner. When we return later that evening, the new television hangs on the wall and the refrigerator hums away, snugly in place. But the new washer is noisily dancing across the bathroom’s tile floor and, just as we arrive, bangs against the far wall as yet another load of Stefano’s laundry steadily spins in the machine.

Ah, Stefano, I think, thanks to you, Italy continues to be a funny place that always makes us laugh. What will your knock tomorrow bring?


2. Road Gang

Road Gang coverTHE BOOK: Road Gang.

PUBLISHED IN: November, 2014.

THE AUTHOR:  H.V. “Bo” Traywick, Jr.

THE PUBLISHER: Dimenti 1 Milestone Press.

SUMMARY: Some of the Americans sent to Vietnam during the late 1960s and early 1970s were plugged into the infantry. Others flew airplanes and helicopters. H.V. Traywick Jr., better known as Bo, built roads.

And in a sense, he and his fellow engineers in camouflage were fortunate. Much of what went on during the Vietnam War was an exercise in futility, a lot of wandering through jungles and rice paddies in search of an elusive enemy who rarely showed his face, keeping a wary eye out for booby traps and the occasional poisonous snake.

The 20th Engineer Brigade, by contrast, was at least building something.

“Some of the roads we did were in use long after the war ended,” Traywick said.

WHY THIS TITLE?: The sly double meaning gives an insight into Traywick’s wry sense of humor.

Bo Traywick

THE BACK STORY:  “”My Dad always had these great stories about World War II, and one night my Mom asked me, ‘How come you never talk about your experiences?’ I told her, ‘I guess I never really had much to say.'”

“That triggered some memories about my time as a combat engineer, though, and so I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll just write about it.”

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT?: There’s a little of Hawkeye Pierce in Bo Traywick, and hence some M*A*S*H in “Road Gang.” The human face that he puts on the Vietnam War is refreshing, and his mixed feelings about the conflict typical of American soldiers at the time.

Take this segment, for instance:

“My last night in Vietnam I was sitting at the bar in the club. Everyone else had turned in for the night. I was talking to the bartender and listening to the Byrds’ ‘Ballad of Easy Rider’ on the tape deck behind the bar. Just then there was a BOOM, and clods of something came raining down on the tin roof of the building.

“I was just too plain short to be worrying about it all that much anymore, so I bought the bartender and me another drink, and we went and sat under the bar. About that time our ‘Fighting Parson’ came charging into the club, in full battle array — helmet, flak jacket, M-16 — shouting ‘Incoming! Incoming!’

“I poked my head up behind the bar and said, ‘Chaplain, won’t you join us in a little libation?’ Before he could reply, Lieutenant Mike Kinh, the good old Daisy Delta construction platoon leader, came in and told us it was OK — somebody had just fragged the NCO’s latrine again. Nobody was in it at the time.”


By Kenneth Feador on January 22, 2015

Having been a two tour combat engineer from late 68 to mid 70s, I served with the 70th Engineer Battalion, Company B. We were with the 131st. Light equipment Company, National Guard from Vermont. We were at Camp Swampy, our compound and rock quarry. We kept up over 20 miles of QL 20 open with 5+ bridges and culverts. The story told by the author hit home and was so close to what we went thru for over a year. The equipment was much the same and I was proud of my D7E dozer. As in this story, our days were filled with the dust of the Central Highlands. We built bridges and rebuilt them several weeks later after having them blown up by the VC. A never ending battle. As with him, many of the Enlisted men and several Officers wrote of our own life in country. Both “Incoming” and “Incoming, Men of the 70th” tell of the same incidents. This book is a very good and fast read. Two thumbs up for telling the real story of the upper level problems faced by line companies.

By Bill K on July 7, 2015

I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Having served with the 45th Engineer Group, 18th Engineer Brigade out of Qui Nhon and DaNang from March 1967 to October 1968, and working as a civil engineer in civilian life, I find the authors description of the work done by the line units to read true. Only on rare occasions did I need to get out the salt shaker to take something with a grain of salt,

By Brian H.M. Bowen, Platoon Leader, 10th Engineer Batallion, World War II.

This account by a young officer from VMI assigned to an Army Engineer unit and plunged into the Vietnam War is disarmingly simple in its straightforward, to-the-point narrative, but with rich detail is chronicles a triple pressure: the constant threat of an attack by the Viet cong, overcoming the nearly impossible physical obstracles to building the road, and fighting the tension from faulty decisions from higher up. Throughout it all you can feel the strong bonds between Bo and his men.

AUTHOR PROFILE: The first thing you need to know about H.V. Traywick Jr., better known as Bo, is this: At one point in his life, he stopped being an engineer in favor of working as a tugboat captain. The latter, to him, was a better fit.

He was then, and always has been, his own man. For example, he has strong opinions about the Civil War, including the conviction that it was actually triggered by economic issues rather than slavery. And whether you believe that or not, he has enough facts and data and historical quotes to put up a spirited argument.

A graduate (barely) of Virginia Military Institute, Traywick followed a family tradition by joining the military. He now lives in Richmond, VA, when he isn’t filling in on a tugboat somewhere along the Atlantic.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “I remember Dad telling me before I left that it was a dirty political war, but to do my duty, keep my head down, and get my men back home. So in the end, I reckon, most of us determined that we were there for our brothers in arms.

“That was reason enough.”



PRICE: $16 paperback, $5.99 on Kindle.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: botraywick@phoenixnews.net.

1. Uncharted Territory

Uncharted Territory


BOOK: Uncharted Territory.


THE AUTHOR: Betsy Ashton http://www.betsy-ashton.com; http://www.facebook.com/madmaxpage www,twitter.com/betsyashton

THE PUBLISHER: Koehler Books, a growing small press in Virginia Beach, VA.

THE EDITOR: Joe Coccaro, Executive Editor, Koehler Books;  Dawn Dowdle, agent at Blue Ridge Literary Agency.

SUMMARY: 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. THE BACK STORY:

I started the first book, MAD MAX UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES about eight years ago. After I took it through 8+ drafts, I realized I had the wrong main character. Mad Max was always designed to be a minor character, until one night she woke me up at three in the morning fairly screaming me: “It’s my story, darn it. Tell it my way.” Well, yes, ma’am. I recast the book, pushed it through two sets of patient beta readers and finally submitted it to agents. I was fortunate when Dawn Dowdle at Blue Ridge Literary Agency took a chance. She sold it to Koehler Books as part of a three-book deal. UNCHARTED TERRITORY is the second in the series.

I wanted to write about a female protagonist who was in her fifties, still sexy, still headstrong, still snarky occasionally. As a reader I was tired of reading about younger protagonists. Besides, if I had one with some mileage on her, some real-life experiences, I could take her into different situations.

One area that was critical to the success of the Mad Max story line is what a grandparent goes through when she decides to help raise grandchildren full time. I was lucky enough to sit in on some self help groups of grandparents who were suddenly parents again. Their experiences made each of them my heroes.

Betsy Ashton

WHY THIS TITLE:  When my publisher and I talked about the title of the first book in the series, we wanted something that had dual meanings. Many of the events in that first book had unintended consequences for Max and her family.

By the time UNCHARTED TERRITORY was in final edits, we wanted to continue with the “un-“ naming convention. With Max both raising her grandkids full time and doing so in a wasteland, we had dual uncharted territories to deal with.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: Have you ever wondered what it would be like to return to being a parent after your children are grown and out of the house, UNCHARTED TERRITORY takes you into that world. The physical setting, post-Katrina Mississippi is representative of any area where social norms have been disrupted by war, natural disaster, or apathy. Max has to put down temporary roots in a community that basically doesn’t exist. Dean King wrote graphically about life in a wasteland in Skeletons of the Zaraha. He inspired many of the descriptions of a land scrubbed clean by a tidal surge.


“Mad Max is at it again–another “uppity woman” who can’t leave well enough alone. Just the way I like it. Uncharted Territory is a well-crafted mystery, with a nuanced plot, and plenty to chew on.”

–Mollie Cox Bryan, Agatha Award Finalist for A Cumberland Creek Mystery Series

“Auntie Mame and Miss Marple combine in heroine Mad Max as Ashton takes a genre bending look at the aftermath of Katrina when the storm surge wiped out a lifestyle and left evil behind.”

–Fiona Quinn, contributor to Virginia Is For Mysteries and Chaos Is Come Again

“Mad Max Davies sees how the other half lives as she and her family begin a new adventure that takes them far from home and into the darker side of society. A good read with some unexpected twists.”

–Kristen Houghton, author of For I Have Sinned: A Cate Harlow Private Investigation

The last place most people would leave home to heal from personal loss would be post-Katrina Mississippi, but this is plucky and determined Mad Max Davis in a genre-bending tale of murder, suspense, chaos, and personal healing. – Michael Murphy

AUTHOR PROFILE:  Betsy Ashton, born in Washington, DC, was raised in Southern California where she ran wild with coyotes in the hills above Malibu. She protested the war in Vietnam, burned her bra for feminism, and is a steadfast Independent. She is a writer, a thinker, the mother of three grown stepchildren, companion and friend. She mentors writers and writes and publishes fiction. Her first mystery, Mad Max Unintended Consequences, was published in February 2013. The second in the series, Uncharted Territory, A Mad Max Mystery, came out in April 2015. In her spare time, she is the president of the state-wide Virginia Writers Club. She loves riding behind her husband on his motorcycle. You’ll have to decide for yourself if and where she has a tattoo.

AUTHOR COMMENTS:  “I wanted to be able to take this mature protagonist into a variety of different physical locations and watch how she reacts. Her frame of mind changes with every twist in the plot. She grows closer to her two grandchildren in this book, particularly when they are in peril. Book three in the series will put Max, her grandson and her boyfriend in danger of death.”

SAMPLE CHAPTER: http://www.amazon.com/Uncharted-Territory-Betsy-Ashton-ebook/dp/B00PAIXNYM/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436473960&sr=1-1&keywords=uncharted+territory.

WHERE TO BUY IT: The book is out as an e-book only right now. Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Uncharted-Territory-Betsy-Ashton-ebook/dp/B00PAIXNYM/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436474023&sr=1-1&keywords=uncharted+territory

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/uncharted-territory-betsy-ashton/1121444288?ean=9781633930520 Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/uncharted-territory-4.

 PRICE: $3.99.

 CONTACT THE AUTHOR: betsy_ashton2005@yahoo.com

2. A Reaper Made

October 2014


THE EDITOR: Morgan Wall

THE PUBLISHER: (self published).

SUMMARY: Grace is a Reaper whose life unexpectedly ended three years ago. Her mentor Tully discovers that Reaper are being kidnapped, threatening the Natural Order. When demons threaten her sister’s soul, she decides to risk everything by using magic to become temporarily human. However, it’s not just the demons and lies Grace has to unravel – it’s also the human boy who makes her laugh. Can Grace save her sister and the endangered souls? Or will Tully be forced to reap her soul when she’s desperate to reclaim the life she could’ve had?

THE BACK STORY: This is a New Adult Paranormal Romance. Please see summary for more information on synopsis.

WHY THIS TITLE: This is a stand-alone novel, as well as a quick read that’s great for those looking for a fun summer book.

Liz Long

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: Those interested in a paranormal book that has a little bit of everything —  romance, mystery, action — will be interested in reading this title. With reapers, demons, angels, and one spunky witch, the supernatural world will appeal to fantasy lovers.


“Liz Long’s best book yet! I was sucked in from the first excerpt I read – the world she’s created is so compelling and the mystery to unravel kept me coming back!”

“Great book with fast-paced action and twists that kept you guessing. Loved the witty dialogue and completely original characters. Had me moving from giggles to tears and back again.”

A Reaper Made is a different twist on Death and Reapers. I love Grace with her spunk and honesty. She stands up for what’s right and doesn’t back down. Her unique friends Tully and Tessa are faithful and care for Grace. Rhys, oh Rhys, I can’t wait to see hopefully what will bring you around in the next story. Once again, Liz Long has created a new and different world that captures the imagination and delivers a unique and intriguing story. If you enjoy paranormal with some suspense this is a book I highly recommend.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Liz Long is a ridiculously proud graduate of Longwood University with a BA in English. Her inspiration comes from action and thriller genres and she spends entirely too much time watching superhero movies. Her fabulous day job as a Social Media & PR Strategist includes writing for LeisureMedia360 (Roanoker, bridebook, Blue Ridge Country magazines) in Roanoke, VA.

She currently has five books out. The Donovan Circus series has best been described as “X-Men meets the circus with a murder mystery thrown in.” Witch Hearts tells the story of a serial killer hunting witches for their powers. A Reaper Made, is a fantasy about a Reaper who must work a little magic to save her family’s souls from demons. All titles are available for paperback or ebook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks.

To learn more about Liz (including more information on her books, plus writing, marketing, and social media tips), visit her website:http://lizclong.com.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I really enjoyed writing this book. I was in the middle of writing my (Donovan Circus) series, and this idea popped up out of nowhere. Without warning, Grace strong-armed me into her story and it took twists and turns even I didn’t see coming.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: (Provide link). http://lizclong.com/books/a-reaper-made/

WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon.com


PRICE: $10/paperback, $2.99 on Amazon (though currently on sale for $0.99 through June)

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: lizclong@gmail.com

Weather Report, Aug. 10




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.

Explains Betsy: “I wanted to write about a female protagonist who was in her fifties, still sexy, still headstrong, still snarky occasionally. As a reader I was tired of reading about younger protagonists. Besides, if I had one with some mileage on her, some real-life experiences, I could take her into different situations.”

The second episode in a trilogy, this is thus far out only as an e-book. So hang onto your Kindle and let Betsy take you into uncharted territory.


As a change of pace (and that’s often what I shoot for in pairing books), Liz Long provides us with not only an intriguing fantasy, but a new take on that all-too-familiar villain, Death.

From the Amazon blurb: “Grace had finally gotten used to her new afterlife as a ‘Made’ – a Reaper who used to be human. When Made Reapers and souls begin disappearing, however, Grace and her mentor Tully suspect demons. Grace’s worst fears are confirmed when her living family is threatened. She’ll have to break every rule in the Reaper book to save them, including using a little magic to become temporarily human. “



For most of the fortunate and intrepid few who put the real world on hold after college in the 1960s and ‘70s, shouldered a backpack and set off for European or Asian adventures, there was no going back. Adult Responsibility, that familiar killjoy, was waiting at the airport for them when they returned, ensuring that any future travel would be more structured than free.

Except for Marianne Bohr and her husband Joe. Decades after their initial unfettered  wanderings, they decided to return to the same places as seasoned babyboomers. Even better, they wrote a book about it. So even if you are one of those who remain planted in that real world, you can at least relive your golden days vicariously through them.


H.V. Traywick Jr., better known as Bo, had a 1970s Asian adventure of another sort – Vietnam. Unlike Marianne, he hasn’t been back, but he has revisited his two years as the commander of an engineering crew and allowed the rest of us to experience it with him.

Traywick’s work in Southeast Asia was quite similar to that performed by the people who toil on American highways. Generally, though, no one shoots at them.

There is a little bit of Hawkeye Pierce in Bo, though, and his account is not only richly detailed but often wryly humorous. It takes us from his days as a less-than-decorated student at Virginia Military Institute to his “in-country” interactions with men higher up the military pecking order.

“My Dad always used to tell us tales from serving World War II,” Traywick recalls, “and one day my mother asked me, ‘Why don’t you ever tell any war stories from Vietnam?’ I said,. ‘I didn’t think anyone would be interested.’”

I think you’ll agree that he was wrong.


  1. OK, Snowflakes followers, listen up. Beginning in two weeks, we’re going to initiate our long-promised monthly drawing. Each month, someone at a writer-friendly bookstore will pull one of your names out of a hat – or, something – and the winner will have his or her choice of any two books from a list compiled from the Snowflakes collection. Someone else will get to pick one book. I’ll give you the list of available books in next week’s Weather Report, just to whet your appetite.

That’s another incentive to follow the blog, and I’d appreciate your spreading the word.

  1. And finally, this from Tom Bentley, whose “How to Think Like a Writer” was a Snowflake feature last month:

“I don’t know if this is Weather Report worthy, but I won a fellowship (minus the lodging fees) to the Catamaran Writing Conference, which is at beautiful Pebble Beach, CA, so even if I don’t get much writing done, I can at least stare at the sea. And I published a long (15,000 words) collaborative short story on Amazon.

Showing Up


THE BOOK: Showing Up


THE AUTHOR:  Eric West

THE EDITOR: Fred DuBose – Reader’s Digest

THE PUBLISHER: Publication Printers, Denver, CO

SUMMARY: 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.

Showing up book coverTHE BACK STORY: Writes West: “The book was written to serve as the centerpiece for speaking events: Keynotes, corporate events, motivation speeches. Penning the book was a chance to share the Showing Up message with a global audience; Your dreams are important. Your dreams deserve your time. Nothing takes the place of your presence. And Showing Up works. The initial research and layout ideas for the book came after an online and telephone interview with Dutch climbing star Eveline Wessels. This interview gave me insight to the inner workings and preparation that build and support a Mt. Everest expedition.”

WHY THIS TITLE?: Showing Up was chosen for the title because Just Do It was already taken.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: Showing Up takes the reader around the world, from ocean crossings on luxury yachts to the flanks of Mt. Everest and Denali, hitchhiking through Japan and an unforgettable night with the Grateful Dead. Plus a truly motivational message that anyone can accomplish anything. This book is a true non-fiction hybrid. Showing Up is one of a kind.


By Christina Thirkell on May 26, 2015

Showing Up was different than any book I’ve read to date. Loved the author’s writing style, and how he weaves his experiences together and how his “Showing Up” style determined his future. This is more than about climbing Mt. Everest… it’s about taking risks with simplicity. Anyone can apply the Showing Up philosophy. Great time to add to your summer beach reading list!

By Eric Kissel on May 19, 2015

Quick read of not just an Everest story, but a new spin on the motivational and self-help genre. West tells a collection of great stories from his lifetime and shows you how you can learn to “Show Up” and improve your life. Everyone can take something away and apply it to either their personal life, professional life, or educational life.

By David Hoffmanon March 4, 2015

Great read! the book is a series of short stories tied together in a neat package. I especially enjoyed learning about the mountain climbing and sailing aspects all the while enthralled by the story line. Eric hits a home run with his first book. I highly recommend it.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Eric West is an author, adventurer, and professional speaker. He lives in Denver, CO.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “I’ve never been one to follow rulebooks. After all, who knows more about my dreams and a path to their realization than me? I came to believe my presence was a foolproof plan for unimaginable success. I eventually gave my mindset a name… I called it Showing Up. But was I wrong to pin my hopes on an idea so simple? Or was I on to something big… Mt. Everest big? Now I speak to audiences of all ages and backgrounds about the answer to that question.”

SAMPLE CHAPTER: Chapters 7 and 8 are great sample chapters.

WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon (paperback and ebook).

PRICE: $16.99 paperback $9.99 ebook

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: ShowingUpAgain@gmail.com or learn more at ShowingUpAgain.com or shop.ShowingUpAgain.com

Call Eric West directly at 619-829-6942.

Showing Up book trailer


Tuesday Replay, August 4



This book had a lot to do with my starting “Snowflakes in a Blizzard.” I encountered Brian Simpson — a successful building contractor in St. Petersburg, FLA — on Linked-In, and we agreed to swap books. I can’t say I couldn’t put “Island Dogs” down, because I received it on my computer, but I hated turning it off. Rarely have I read anything so relentlessly entertaining.

Those of you who have followed this blog know that I occasionally break into rants about our current fixation with “genre.” “Island Dogs” doesn’t fit into any of those neat but confining cubbyholes that someone has handed down from on high. Rather, it revolves around an ensemble cast of mostly woeful but likable expatriates who meet and bond in a Caribbean beach bar. The reason we care about these characters is that the author does a wonderful job of presenting their back stories. The reason we don;’t get bored is that he weaves in a number of ongoing threads throughout the narrative. Moreover, Simpson spent time in the Caribbean himself (including, yes, a few beach bars), so his details are authentic.

And it occurred to me, after reading this, that if something this good can’t find a publisher (Brian eventually self-published), there must be a lot of gems hiding out there that readers ought to know about.

Interestingly, this first Snowflake was the only one so far that hadn’t been published at the time it was featured.


This book gives memoirs a good name, and also provides an excellent argument for waiting until the arrival of some perspective before writing one.

There have been hundreds — maybe even thousands — of books written about the Vietnam War. Until now, however, there has never been one about John Maberry’s Vietnam War. As with Brian Simpson and his gregarious barflies, Maberry provides a compelling back story — his own, revealing what  he brought to Southeast Asia and what he took away from it. He’s an excellent writer with a sly, self-deprecating sense of humor, and reading this is like sitting down for a long conversation with him. All you have to do is listen and nod.


I liked “Death of a Cabman” a lot, even though I probably would never have read it had it not been presented to me as a Snowflakes possibility.

Our first international writer (she lives in the UK), Nina has produced a soothing but still intriguing cocktail blending a murder mystery with a romance with some turn of the century (the 20th century) English history.

Even if you don’t care all that much about the identity of the murderer (as in the old Perry Mason books, the victim was rather despicable), chances are you’ll find her main characters endearing and her insights into the British suffragette movement intriguing.

This does have a genre — a “cozy mystery.” And it does that genre proud.


This memoir disguised as a novel is so deftly done that even the real-life inspiration for one of its central characters — an evangelist with some very human failings — provided its author with a positive blurb.

Katie Andraski was a long-time publicist whose specialty was working with Christian authors. The main voice in her book is a woman conflicted by her job, tormented by grief over the terminal illness of her mother and at odds with her brother. Although Andraski undoubtedly wrote the book partly as a personal catharsis, it never descends into “poor me.” Instead, it is an enthralling account of how a person trying desperately to do the right thing sometimes finds herself confronted by a fork in the road where “right” has no signpost.

JUNE 9: “WHAT TO DO ABBarbara_Trainin_Blank_book_cover_65kOUT MAMA?” BY BARBARA BLANK.

Our initial venture into non-fiction, and a useful one.

What makes this book unique is that it reflects a diversity of experiences, from heart-warming to sobering to blood-curdling. Caring for an elderly parent or spouse, especially when dementia enters the picture, is a classic example of “You had to be there.” And so the voices in “What to Do About Mama” come not from physicians or social scientists, but people who were, indeed, there — at a time when someone had to be.

Barbara Blank amd co-author Barbara Matthews are two of those voices of experience, and it’s clear that they regarded those in their care as people to be loved and understood rather than problems to be solved.