I don’t know if it’s my imagination, or if it’s because Christmas ads and decorations began showing up way before Thanksgiving, but whatever it is, people seem to be making a bigger fuss about Christmas this year. For me, that’s a good thing. As a Christian, I love Christmas and all it signifies. As an author, I’m also noticing a lot of Christmas-themed books, and while my Egypt series is not based on Christmas, books 1 and 2 carry some Christmas scenes that will give you a glimpse of how my characters, and people in Trinidad where the story is set, spend Christmas.

Here is an excerpt from In The Wilderness: Book 2 of the Egypt series:

At last it’s Christmas Eve. Miss Lucy and her daughter have gone home, and we sit in the living-room admiring the Christmas tree and the decorations and sipping egg nog. Below the tree is an assortment of boxes wrapped in shiny gift paper and tied with pretty bows. The television shows women in beautiful frilly skirts and blouses with flowers in their hair, singing and dancing. The songs are in Spanish and they call them parang.
I’m holding Junior on my lap. June sits on the rug at my feet, her head resting against my legs. Junior tugs at her hair.
“Ouch!” She holds her head, and he squeals.
Across from us, Chrissy, seated on her father, also squeals and drops her rattle.
“Did we do this in Egypt Village?” I ask.
June turns her head. “Do what?”
“Sit around the tree and drink egg nog and watch TV.”
“I don’t think we ever had a tree. And we didn’t have a TV.”
No tree? It’s such a beautiful thing. I can’t understand why everyone wouldn’t have one. And no TV either? “We couldn’t afford it?”
June shrugs. “I don’t know.”
That’s another thing I don’t understand. She never wants to talk about our childhood and Egypt Village.
Junior takes another tug at her hair and she sidles away. “Come here, you.” She lifts him off my lap.
I turn to Miss Stewart. “Did you always do this?”
She smiles. “Yes, we did.”
I look at Mr. Bowen.
He nods. “We did, too. And you know what else we did?”
Everyone looks at him. “We sang Christmas carols and told the story of the Savior’s birth.”
“I didn’t know that,” his wife says.
He gazes at her. “Remember I came from a Christian home. When we lived in New York, we went to church on Christmas Eve night.”
“Was it snowing?” June asks.
“Sometimes, but we kids loved it. We would all bundle up in our coats, hats and gloves and sing carols while Dad drove us to church. When we came here, it took us a while before we found a church, so Mom made egg nog and we sat around and did the Christmas thing.”
“The Christmas thing?” June asks.
“Yeah. We sat around the crèche and told the Christmas story.”
That touches me. We don’t have a crèche, but maybe we can do the Christmas thing too.
Feeling shy, I ask, “Can we do that now?”
“Why not?” Miss Stewart gets up and turns off the TV. “Where do we start?”
June bounces Junior on her leg. “Let’s start with ‘Once upon a time.’”
Mr. Bowen picks up Chrissy’s rattle. “Okay, here’s how we did it. One person says a few lines of the Christmas story, then we sing a verse of a carol. Then the next person picks up the story from where the last person left off, we sing another verse and so on.”
“Sounds great,” Miss Stewart says. “I’ll go first. Once upon a time there was a man named Joseph, and he had a wife named Mary who was pregnant.”
June puts her hand up. “Joseph and Mary journeyed to Bethlehem in order to be taxed, in keeping with a decree from the emperor Cesar Augustus.”
“You forgot the song,” I say.
June slaps her forehead. “I’m sorry.” She clears her throat. “Silent night …”
We all join in the singing. When we finish the first verse, she repeats the lines she’d said, then everyone looks at me. I smile as I continue the story. “While they were there, Mary realized that it was time for the baby to be born.”
We sing another verse then Mr. Bowen continues, “Joseph tries to find a room in an inn so Mary could give birth, but he found none.”
We continue like this until Mr. Bowen ends with the angels telling the shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace and goodwill toward men.”
I look down at Junior now asleep on June’s lap. I think of the Baby Jesus who came into this world as small and innocent as this baby even though He was God Himself. What a beautiful story!
June interrupts my thoughts. “Sister, I’m impressed that you remember the Christmas story so well.”
I turn to her. “Some things I’ll always remember, but the things I want to remember, I don’t.”

There you have it. Christmas with Marva, June and the Bowen’s. To read more about the Christmas celebrations with the Bowen’s, why not pick up a copy of the book on sale for only 99c. this weekend. And drop me a line and let me know how you spend Christmas at your house.

Have you ever wondered how an author comes up with pages and pages of content that keep you absorbed for hours or even days? How do they edit it so it’s error-free and worthy of being read? In this guest post, J. F. Pandolfi, author of Mr. Pizza, a mainstream novel, takes us behind the scenes and shows us what his writing and editing process is like. Enjoy!

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Mainstream Fiction
Date Published: August 3, 2018
Publisher: L&A Publications

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Most people make at least one really harebrained decision in their life. Just ask Tony Piza. Deciding he needs a “paid vacation” for a year after college, Tony lands a job teaching at a Catholic elementary school. Talk about the Moby Dick of miscalculations. His pathetic effort is making him look bad, crimping his love life, and leaving him feeling guilty. A new approach, fueled by his irreverent humor, makes him a hit with his students. But it riles the powers that be. A showdown seems inevitable. Whether he can survive it—well, that’s something else.

My Writing Process—Still a Work in Progress

by

J. F. Pandolfi

Writing fiction pretty much involves coming up with a beginning, a middle, and an end. But it’s how we choose to get from one phase to another that can be all over the map.

In writing “Mr. Pizza”, my first novel, I synopsized every scene before penning the first word of the first chapter. Some people are just more comfortable planning every step of the journey upfront. In my case, I think that resulted from having practiced law for many years, which has a tendency to induce chronic anal retentiveness. That said, during the course of writing there were times when the story decided it wanted—even needed—to veer off the pre-determined path. Those detours turned out to be the most exhilarating part of the experience for me.

So for my new book—a sequel that takes place twelve years after the first book ends—I decided to toss out the old game plan. I knew the general storyline I wanted to pursue, but that was it. I just started writing. I’m currently about a quarter of the way through my projected page count. Has it been unsettling? You bet. Like being adrift on a raft in open seas. Or how I felt when my parents took away my pacifier when I was eleven. (What, like you don’t have any issues?) Another thing that required getting used to was taking time after a chapter to figure out what comes next. Other than those occasional detours I mentioned, I didn’t have to deal with that in writing “Mr. Pizza”.

On the whole, I think the occasional angst, and the sometimes lengthy post-chapter interludes, have been a fair trade-off for the excitement of making new discoveries as each chapter comes into focus. But that may change as I get deeper into the book. I’ll have to see. If I find it’s turning out not to be the ideal route, I’ll tinker with some hybrid middle ground.

Another subject I wanted to touch on is: revising your work, i.e. self-editing. It’s something we all need to do, more than once, before having a professional editor take a look. There’s a theory that says you shouldn’t edit on-the-fly. Get through your first draft, then go back to the beginning and start editing. Supposedly, editing as you go disrupts your artistic flow.

But I need to do my first edit of a chapter as soon as the chapter is done. It has to feel right to me before I can move on. I don’t think it’s blocked up my creative aqueduct. (Although I’m not a psychologist, neurobiologist, or plumber.) I’ve also found there’s a practical benefit to how I work. If you change something substantive in a chapter, it could impact a subsequent chapter. By editing each chapter as I write, I can limit—to a degree—that potential domino effect. I may make additional changes when I re-edit, but they’re usually not as significant.

Writing doesn’t lend itself to one-size-fits-all. Explore the self-editing process until you find the method you’re most comfortable with.

Keep writing, and good luck!

About the Author

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J. F. Pandolfi went to Fordham University as an undergrad, then taught at a Catholic elementary school before attending Fordham Law School.
Practicing law certainly had its moments, but to call it “utter euphoria”—well, that was a stretch. Plus, the voices that had taken up residency in his head (rent-free, the deadbeats) kept insisting that he share his writing with the world. An award for his flash fiction piece, “Psychology for Dummies”, convinced him that the voices might be on to something. And so he called upon his fond memories as a teacher, which served as a backdrop to his debut novel, “Mr. Pizza”.
J. F. also briefly believed he had won the New York City Marathon. Alas, it turned out to be a dream, apparently brought on by an acute case of restless leg syndrome.
A staunch supporter of the fight to eradicate adult illiteracy, J. F. was accorded a Special Recognition in Literacy Award for his efforts.
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Here is an interview I did with Ndeye Labadens, author of How to Crush Social Media in Only 2 Minutes a Day and moderator of the Ndeye Labadens Book Club.

In this interview, I talk about how I came up with the title for the first book in the Egypt series, Coming Out of Egypt and other behind-the-scenes information of my debut novel. Some of it you may already know if you read my blog regularly, but regardless, I invite you to grab a cup of your favorite beverage, (tea, anyone?) pull up your chair and enjoy.

My name is Angela Joseph. I am the author of one non-fiction book Women For All Seasons and the Egypt series, three fiction books. I am also a blogger and freelance writer for health and wellness sites.

What’s the story behind the title?

The story behind the title goes back to the time when I was a teacher in Trinidad. Two sisters attended the school where I taught, although neither of them were my pupils, and it was rumored they were being abused by their father. They lived in a secluded home in a place called Egypt Village. Coming Out of Egypt deals with the journey of two sisters who lived in the same locale and were abused by their father. I have also used the Biblical story of the exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt as a metaphor for the turbulent journey of these two sisters out of an abusive childhood.

Why did you write this book?

Stories of sexual abuse are in the news every day. It is neither obsolete nor pertinent only to third world countries, yet victims of sexual abuse do not receive the help or attention they deserve. I wrote this book to inspire and encourage women, as well as men, who have been sexually abused and let them know that they have self worth. That they too can “come out of Egypt” and find love, understanding and forgiveness.

How do you keep the reader attention?

I keep the reader’s attention by pacing the plot points in such a way that the reader wants to know what happens next, but at the same time doesn’t skip over any part of the narrative. For example, a high-tension scene where Cicely’s father tells her fiancé that Cicely was a nightclub dancer in an attempt to break them up, is preceded by a tropical rainstorm in which she is almost marooned on the beach. The reader can feel the tension building. I also sprinkle cultural titbits throughout the novel that give them a glimpse of Trinidad culture and add depth to the story.

How did you come up with this book idea?

The idea came to me when I saw TV personalities like Oprah Winfrey and popular televangelist Joyce Meyer and others talking openly about their experience with sexual abuse. I thought if these women could “come out of Egypt” to become who God created them to be, then anyone, with God’s help, could do the same. So, I decided to rewrite the story of those two pupils I knew in Egypt Village.

What publishing elements do you most enjoy and most like to avoid, and why? (e.g., design, marketing, formatting, etc.)

Once the ink has dried, I wish I could wave a magic wand and make all the rest involved with publishing disappear, but unfortunately that is not case. So, while I don’t enjoy any of them, I get some satisfaction when I see even my limp marketing efforts bear some fruit. I strictly avoid design and formatting. I tackle editing with a vengeance because I know how important that is.

What’s next on your writing journey?

I am currently working on another women’s fiction set in Georgia. It deals with three friends and their secrets. I also have a fun, romantic novella that I started some time ago that I would like to complete. In addition, I will continue blogging and freelancing for health and wellness sites. I will also continue to promote Coming Out of Egypt and the other books in the series, In the Wilderness and In the Promised Land.

Where would my audience find your book?

Just click the image below.

Authors have a way of talking to their characters, did you know that? And sometimes they talk back! So, I asked Marva and June, the two main characters of my Egypt series, what they would like to have for this Thanksgiving and over the holidays. They said they would like to be introduced to more people. I took the hint and decided to have a Cyber Monday special on the entire series so these precious girls can have their wish.

Let’s start with a top-down offer:

For a limited time, In the Promised Land, book 3 in the series, is available FREE, along with other bestselling, inspirational and clean titles when you join the promotion shown above. These novels will make a great addition to your holiday reading list, so hurry and get them while there is still time. BTW, yesterday in church, a lady who had read the first book Coming Out of Egypt, told me how much she enjoyed it, but said the only thing that disappointed her was that Marva and Jason didn’t end up together. I told her she would have to read the whole series to see what happened to them. That means reading In the Promised Land, now free as part of this inspirational, sweet and clean promotion.

Get It Free Now

Second on the list is In the Wildernessbook 2 of the Egypt trilogy, at the discounted price of 99c.

Here’s what one reviewer said of In the wilderness:

This powerful tale takes the reader into the world of Marva and June as they struggle to overcome the effects of years of abuse by their father. Marva is plagued by guilt over the death of her father; driven to suicidal thoughts, she has to find her way back to her faith and her life. The writer knows her craft – the characters are intense and vividly drawn and the setting is authentic. – Neil Daniel

And last but not least is book 1, Coming Out of Egypt.

Readers’ Favorite gave this book a five-star rating and said this:
Coming Out Of Egypt is an emotional story that also deals with the morals of a world that is not black and white. The story flows beautifully and is truly written in a compelling way. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to read a well written story with fully fleshed out characters who feel very real. You will not regret a single moment of time you spend with Marva and June.

So, here you have the perfect opportunity to read this entire series at a fraction of the regular cost. When you pick up any of these titles, please leave an honest review on Amazon or Goodreads so that other readers can be guided in making their choices.

Happy reading and happy Cyber Monday.

This is not the first day of November, as you know, but I just reflected that November is one of the happiest months of the year. Why? Well, fall is here, temperatures are dropping -although not too noticeable in my neck of the woods yet – and for those of you who live in cooler climes, you are enjoying the beautiful fall colors. Thanksgiving will soon be here, and that means getting together with friends and loved ones, feasting and having fun, and then it will be Christmas, the happiest time of the year for me.

November for us authors also means NaNoWriMo, the time when some of us try – and succeed – in writing an entire novel in one month. I have never tried to do it but I do step up on my writing and manage to accomplish more than I usually would. So, it does serve a good purpose.

November is also the month when we begin to advertise our sales. Yes, just like other businesses, we try to entice our readers by dropping our prices for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Look out for specials on all my books. And since November is the time most of you begin your Christmas shopping, it’s not too early to remind you of the offer I made last year: get a print, autographed copy of Coming Out of Egypt, complete with swag, for just $15.00, postage paid.





November 1st was Read A Short Story Day. I participated in a special promo to mark the day with The Unwelcome Wedding Guest, the short story shown below. As an early Christmas gift to you, you can download the story free of cost. Read and enjoy!


Today, my spotlight falls on Chance For Rain, a gripping women's fiction by an amazing author, Tricia Downing. Enter now to win a copy of this book and a gift card.

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Fiction—Romance, Women’s Fiction
Date Published: August 2018
Publisher: Front Street Press
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Elite athlete Rainey Abbott is an intense competitor on the outside, but inside, she feels a daunting apprehension about her chances of finding true love. Her life as a downhill skier and race car driver keeps her on the edge, but her love life is stuck in neutral. A tragedy from her past has left her feeling insecure and unlovable.
Now that she’s in her thirties, Rainey’s best friend Natalie insists she take a leap and try online dating. Rainey connects with brian85 and becomes cautiously hopeful as a natural attraction grows between them. Fearful a face to face meeting could ruin the magic, Rainey enlists Natalie to scheme up an encounter between the two where Brian is unaware he is meeting his online mystery woman. Rainey is left feeling both guilty about the deception and disappointed by something Brian says.
When they finally meet in earnest, Rainey’s insecurities threaten to derail the blossoming romance. As she struggles with self-acceptance, she reveals the risks we all must take to have a chance for love.
About the Author

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Tricia Downing is recognized as a pioneer in the sport of women’s paratriathlon, as the first female paraplegic to finish an Iron distance triathlon. She has competed in that sport both nationally and internationally, in addition to competing in road racing and other endurance events. She has represented the United States in international competition in five different sport disciplines—cycling (as a tandem pilot prior to her 2000 accident), triathlon, duathlon, rowing and Olympic style shooting, in which she was a member of Team USA at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
She was featured in the Warren Miller documentary Superior Beings and on the lifestyle TV magazine show Life Moments. She has been featured in Muscle and Fitness Hers, Mile High Sports and Rocky Mountain Sports magazines.
Additionally, she is founder of The Cycle of Hope (www.thecycleofhope.org), a non-profit organization designed for female wheelchair users to promote health and healing on all levels—mind, body and spirit.
Tricia studied Journalism as an undergraduate at the University of Maryland and holds Masters degrees in both Sports Management (Eastern Illinois University) and Disability Studies (Regis University).
She lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband Steve and two cats, Jack and Charlie. Visit Tricia at triciadowning.com

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Posted by Perry Elisabeth Kirkpatrick on Sunday, October 7, 2018

Reading a short story is a good way to keep up with your reading without having to sacrifice hours or days of your time to finishing a book. Some short stories have as much literary merit as full-length books. In fact, many famous writers either began their writing career with short stories or continued to write short stories while working on their books. Some of these famous writers are: F Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, J D Salinger, V S Naipaul, Mark Twain, Joyce Carol Oates, William Faulkner, and many others.

I also began my writing career with short stories, and my first published work was in the Broward Community College magazine where I was a student. The title of that story is A Pair of Blue Skates. I will see if I can find it somewhere. If not, I will try to rewrite it and republish it for you to see.

So why am I telling you all this? Today is Read A Short Story Day, and for the occasion, Perry Kirkpatrick has organized a Short Story Day, which runs from Nov 1 – Nov 4, where you can download short stories by different authors in a variety of genres, all free of charge for your reading pleasure. The title of my story is The Unwelcome Wedding Guest. Go to Read A Short Story Daydownload your copy and sign up for my newsletter. After you have read it, please come back here and share your thoughts with us.

Coming from a music-loving culture like Trinidad & Tobago, music is as important to me as bake and shark – another Trini favorite. As I published in another post some time ago, the only musical invention of the twentieth century – the steelband – originated in Trinidad and Tobago and, like Carnival, has spread to other countries even as far away as Japan.

It’s only natural then that I should include music in my novels. Since the Egypt series is set in the 80s, the songs are those that were popular around that time period, as well as a few classical Christmas songs. So, here is my playlist from book 1, Coming Out of Egypt and a few lines about how it appears in the novel.

“Endless Love” by Lionel Ritchie and Diana Ross

David took the napkin from her, and wiped off the ring. Then he placed a cassette into his tape deck and “Endless Love” filled the car. While the song played, he slipped the ring on her finger. “This, my dear, is my clumsy way of asking you to marry me. I love you, Cicely Stewart. I want you to be my wife.”

Memories of last night returned, along with the words of the song, “You will always be, my endless love.”

His rendition of “Endless Love,” accompanied by the orchestra would have moved her to tears if she didn’t glance at Miss Stewart’s face from time to time.

“Carry Your Candle” by Chris Rice

When Rose got to the chorus, Cicely joined in, “Carry your candle, Run to the darkness—”

Applause broke out, then faded as the children came up the aisle, each carrying a lantern and singing, “Carry your candle, run to the darkness …”

“Help me make it through the night” by Lord Baron

From her perfectly-styled hair down to her high-heeled sandals and everything in-between, she was gorgeous. The words of the song, “Help me make it through the night,” beautifully sung by a local calypsonian, popped into his mind.

“Midnight Blue” by Wendy Alleyne

The words of “Midnight Blue” spilled out softly. Marva’s hand trembled as she followed Jason’s action and pushed the knife into the cake. As the song reached the high note, “And I think we can make it,” Jason’s lips met hers in a brief, tender kiss.

“O Holy Night”

While Sheila complimented Cicely on her new curtains and decorations, her father and Fred went to the stereo, and soon the strains of O Holy Night filled the air.

And here’s one of these videos for you to enjoy.

Today I am writing about something that is a little bit different from the stuff I usually post to this blog. However, in case you didn’t know it, I am a therapist and have worked in behavioral health for many years, therefore, mental or behavioral health is important to me. If you have read any of my books, you will see that. So, what am I getting at? In addition to encouraging you to read more, I would also like to introduce you to another form of relaxation – coloring. And what better way to do so than with mandalas?

Mandalas are said to have originated in India for religious purposes. Some religions still use mandalas for meditation and in their rituals. In recent times, coloring mandalas has become very popular as a therapeutic activity. It is believed that the repetitive movements of coloring the geometrical shapes cause the mind to focus on the activity and get rid of anxiety.

I have found this to be true when I did this with my patients, and while they colored, I frequently engaged myself in coloring as well. At the end of the session I felt relaxed, energized and refreshed, and my patients reported similar feelings. So, coloring is not for children or adults with mental illness, but for everyone. It’s a good stress buster, relaxer and helps bring out your creative side. So why not give your body and your brain a boost by coloring these mandalas?

Access your mandala book by clicking on the link below and enjoy hours of fun and relaxation.

mandala-book

The Clan of the Wolf, Book 2
Historical Romance, Native American Romance
Date Published: June 2018
Publisher: PK&J Publishing

Amazon: http://a.co/d/75gcUSO

He saved her life, then stole her heart….
To escape an arranged marriage, Mia Carlson, daughter of a U.S. senator, instead elopes with the man she loves. As they are escaping from her Virginia home, heading west, their wagon train is brutally attacked, leaving Mia alone and in grave danger. Rescue comes from a most unlikely source, a passing Lakota scouting party, led by the darkly handsome Indian, Brave Wolf.
Although Brave Wolf has consented to guide Mia to the nearest trading post, he holds himself apart from her, for his commitments lie elsewhere. But long days on the trail lead to a deep connection with the red-haired beauty. Yet, he can’t stop wondering why death and danger stalk this beautiful woman, forcing him to rescue her time and again. Who is doing this, and why?
One thing is clear, however: Amid the flurry of dodging assassin bullets, Brave Wolf and Mia come into possession of a powerful love. But is it all for naught? Will Brave Wolf’s obligations and Mia’s secret enemy from the past finally succeed in the sinister plot to destroy their love forever?

Warning: Sensuous romance and cameo appearances of Tahiska and Kristina from the book, Lakota Surrender, might cause a happily-ever-after to warm your heart.

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