I am still in a state of euphoria following the royal wedding on Saturday, which is why I’m so late writing this post today. I’ve been viewing all the stunning photos splashed all over the internet and reading the comments—some of which are downright, Pulitzer-prize worthy—and berating myself for not doing some work.

So, here goes. This post is intended for my fellow authors, but readers are welcome to peep over their shoulders to see the reason for some terrible reviews you see on Amazon. When agents and editors reject our work, they usually say that the fault is not with our writing. The story is just not the right fit for them. Yeah, right. And I’m the Duchess of Sussex.

Sometimes, the writing is bad, very bad. Typos, grammatical errors, misspellings, you name it, it’s there. Recently, I gave a bad review to a book that was given me in exchange for an honest review, and, truth be told, it contained none of those flaws mentioned above. In fact, the prose was beautiful. Descriptive passages to die for. But that’s where it ended for me. Even though the book belonged to a genre I don’t read, I was prepared to give it a shot, but try as I did, I couldn’t connect with the protagonist, couldn’t understand her motive, and most of the time I couldn’t understand what was taking place. It was a very difficult read.

I felt badly about giving such a poor rating, but I had to write my honest impression. I was happy to see that some other reviewers gave the book four stars, but it just didn’t work for me. So, the next time you get a poor rating, take it with a pinch of salt, as we say. Maybe it wasn’t the right choice for the reviewer, or she was distracted by a wedding—hers or someone else’s.

You can still pick up a copy of Coming Out of Egypt, book 1 of the Egypt series for just 99c. and In the Wilderness for $2.99. If you haven’t joined this newsletter, you are missing out on special offers. So, please sign up on the form below. And look out for In the Promised Land, the third and final book in the series, soon to be on preorder.

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Historical Romance (Scottish)
Date Published: May 16th, 2018
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Lady Honor can heal everything but a broken heart . . .
Lady Honor does not believe in marriage. Her father’s death broke her mother’s spirit and took her from her daughters emotionally well before her own death. When Honor is attacked in the forest, she keeps the event to herself, lest her lairds search for the man and strike him down. As a healer, she’ll do anything it takes not to cause harm. Rumors of attacks in the Highlands forces the lairds to increase guards and security measures. When Bryce Calder is assigned to protect Lady Honor, she fights the burgeoning attraction for the man, knowing she’ll never risk her heart to love.
Warrior Bryce Calder trusts no woman. Women only strive to better themselves through cunning, as his father warned throughout his childhood. When he is asked to escort Lady Honor while she gathers healing herbs, he is vexed. Training the men and protecting the clan are his duties, not following the sharped-tongued lass about the wood. With each passing day, Bryce becomes enchanted by Lady Honor, despite his father’s words, but his unworthiness halts any proclamation of his desire.
An unlikely partnership develops during the frequent trips to the forest and work in the apothecary. The walls each has erected to protect their hearts and their future crumbles. Until a stranger arrives at the keep. Lady Honor’s secret is threatened to be revealed putting in jeopardy the growing romance between the ardent healer and the reluctant warrior-suitor.
About the Author

Madelyn Hill has always loved the written word. From the time she could read and all through her school years, she'd sneak books into her textbooks during school. And she devoured books daily. At the age of 10 she proclaimed she wanted to be a writer. After being a "closet" writer for several years, she sent her manuscripts out there and is now published with Soul Mate Publishing. And she couldn't be happier!
A resident of Western New York, she moved from one Rochester to another Rochester to be with the love of her life. They are busy with their 3 children and a puppy named Cannoli! They love to cook, go to the movies, and hang out with friends.
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It’s been a long time coming, but here it is at last – the brand new cover for In the Promised Land, the third and final book in the Egypt trilogy. What do you think?

While this cover features the same silhouette image as the others, she is now enveloped in a golden glow, which, I think, gives an insight into what this story is about. The sun has risen on the lives of these two young girls who had experienced so much turbulence in their journey out of Egypt.

Here’s the tagline and blurb to whet your appetite even more.

Finding love in the midst of tragedy

As a young nun at the Corpus Christi Home for Girls, Marva Garcia has always leaned on the Everlasting Arms for wisdom and strength to meet the day-to-day challenges of mentoring delinquent girls. But then the challenges multiply, and Marva sees her orderly world crumbling around her. As she tries to make sense of all this, Marva is increasingly drawn to another pair of arms that had been there for her all along. Can she love a man and still love God?
Fans of the perennial favorite The Sound of Music will love this Caribbean story of a nun’s struggle to balance her passion for God with her growing love for her childhood sweetheart.

There you have it. In the Promised Land will soon be on preorder. More details to follow.

Meanwhile, if you still haven’t got your copy of the first book Coming Out of Egypt or it’s sequel In the Wilderness, just click on the links and they will take you straight to them. You want to be sure and read them before reading In the Promised Land.

Still don’t know what the series is about? It’s the story of two sisters struggling to put their lives back together after Marva, the older, kills their father as a result of sexual abuse. Their former teacher, Cicely, steps in, points the girls to Christ and helps them turn their lives around. But she has her own ghosts to deal with as she tries to hide the fact from her fiancé that she too was sexually abused.
These books have received four and five-star ratings and I am sure you will enjoy them tremendously.

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Are you still thinking of a Mother’s Day gift for your mother or that special woman in your life? Why not give her a gift that never fades, goes out of style or loses his sparkle? Give her the gift of a book that is guaranteed to bless her heart and remind her of the power of God’s love. Give her a printed copy of Coming Out of Egypt, complete with swag – tote bag, bookmark, bandana and pen. She will love you even more.

Coming Out of Egypt

For most of the past year, I have been telling you about my first novel Coming Out of Egypt, book 1 of the Egypt series. If you have read my posts, you may know something about the book by now and some of you may have even purchased a copy (thank you so much!) Now, with Mother’s Day right around the corner, I want to make you an irresistible offer. You can now get a copy of Coming Out of Egypt to present to that special woman in your life on Mother's Day.

This book will bring tears of joy and sorrow to every woman's eyes as she reads about two young sisters left without a mother, struggling to put their lives back together after Marva, the older sister, commits a horrible crime. She will fall in love with the handsome detective who has it in his power to arrest Marva for her crime but is forced to recuse himself from the case when he realizes that his lady love has been a victim just like the two sisters, and that sexual abuse is ugly in all its forms. She will sigh and shake her head at the impetuousness and folly of youth and remember her days when she made similar mistakes.

Set in the exotic island of Trinidad, Coming Out of Egypt is a timely book with a universal message. And now you can get it in paperback, complete with swag - tote bag, bandana, bookmark and pen - but don't wait, this offer will not last very long.






Creative Non-Ficion / Memoir / Travel
Date Published: Paperback out this March / eBook November 2014
Publisher: University of Missouri Press
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Nancy McCabe, who grew up in Kansas just a few hours from the Ingalls family’s home in Little House on the Prairie, always felt a deep connection with Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House series. McCabe read Little House on the Prairie during her childhood and visited Wilder sites around the Midwest with her aunt when she was thirteen. But then she didn’t read the series again until she decided to revisit in adulthood the books that had so influenced her childhood. It was this decision that ultimately sparked her desire to visit the places that inspired many of her childhood favorites, taking her on a journey that included stops in the Missouri of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the Minnesota of Maud Hart Lovelace, the Massachusetts of Louisa May Alcott, and even the Canada of Lucy Maud Montgomery.
From Little Houses to Little Women reveals McCabe’s powerful connection to the characters and authors who inspired many generations of readers. Traveling with McCabe as she rediscovers the books that shaped her and ultimately helped her to forge her own path, readers will enjoy revisiting their own childhood favorites as well.


About the Author


Nancy McCabe is the author of four memoirs about travel, books, parenting, and adoption as well as the novel Following Disasters. Her work has appeared in Newsweek, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Prairie Schooner, Fourth Genre, and many other magazines and anthologies, including In Fact Books’ Oh Baby! True Stories about Conception, Adoption, Surrogacy, Pregnancy, Labor, and Love and McPherson and Company’s Every Father’s Daughter: Twenty-Four Women Writers Remember their Fathers. Her work has received a Pushcart and been recognized on Notable lists in Best American anthologies six times.


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My Review
A journey into nostalgia

If you could put your hands on copies of books you enjoyed as a child, would you reread them? Better still, if you could visit some of the settings for those books, would you? This is exactly what Nancy McCabe did when in 2007 she took her nine-year-old daughter with her on a trip that to those places. Since I love books as well as travel, I grabbed the chance to read and review Nancy McCabe’s From Little Houses to Little Women. I was not disappointed.

In this beautifully-written memoir, McCabe seamlessly compares her impressions of the Little House books and others she read as a child with her impressions of them as an adult while taking us on a journey of hundred-degree days, bugs, ticks and endless acres of prairie grass to retrace the footsteps of the books she grew up with. In doing so, McCabe debunks a lot of the myths that the average reader may have accepted as fact — that the Osage Indians simply left the land for the white settlers, and that Ma insisted that Laura wore sunbonnets, not as a fashion statement, but to prevent her from becoming “brown as Indians.”

McCabe also gives the reader glimpses into her childhood and how the books she read shaped her life and resulted in her becoming a writer. But she doesn’t stop there. Drawing upon references to passages in the books, McCabe gives her candid views on religion, politics, friendship and family relationships.

Although I found the very detailed accounts of the journey tedious at times, I kept on reading because in the midst of it would often spring up some piece of information that I found startling or relevant. I recommend this book to book lovers everywhere, especially those familiar with the books McCabe writes about and to those who would like to satisfy their nostalgic longing again and again. I have given this book four stars.

Today we commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. He was a civil rights activist who was not afraid to fight for what he believed in. He inspired us with his eloquence and challenged us with his vision. His “I Have A Dream” speech, which he delivered to over 250,000 people from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D. C., was voted the top American speech of the twentieth century in a 1999 poll.

That speech has proven to be not just an oratorical masterpiece, but a prophesy of what was to come. Even though racial inequality still exists in our society, we are seeing the dream become a reality as races join together across the country to bring awareness to the need for gun reform, an end to police killings of black people and to issues that affect women.

Fifty years later the dreamer has departed, but the dream lives on.

What about your dream as a writer? Do you have one?  MLK shouted his dream to the masses every chance he got. Have you told anyone about yours? Writers are known to be shy, introverted types, but don’t keep your dream to yourself. Tell others about it. Some may support you, others may laugh, but don’t give up on your dream. Write it, speak it, share it, and one day it will become a reality. Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie was published between 1932 and 1943, and is still being read today. Maybe fifty years from now people will be talking about you.

Tweet: Some may support you, others may laugh, but don't give up on your dream. Write it, speak it, share it, and one day it will become a reality. #MartinLutherKing
Think about it.

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For those of you who may not know it, Easter is a very important date in the Christian calendar – maybe the most important date, even more important Christmas – although we seem to make more of a deal over Christmas. However, while Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ – the time He came to this earth – Easter commemorates His resurrection from the dead and the fulfillment of the reason for His coming. As a Christian, I enjoy celebrating both.

A few years ago, I entered a Writer’s Digest competition and won an honorable mention in the inspirational category for my short story For God So Loved. I was really blown away for two reasons 1) Writer’s Digest is a secular platform and 2) my entry was a religious story, but it did win a prize. So, with Easter right around the corner I would like to share this story with you free of cost.

For God So Loved is my creative interpretation of what the atmosphere must have been like that first Good Friday – when Jesus was crucified – and that first Easter Sunday – when He rose from the dead.

Here’s a short excerpt:

In the courts of heaven, the atmosphere is tense.

             The angel Gabriel and his musicians have laid aside their instruments, the elders that praise God around the throne are now seated, heads bowed on their knees.  Occasionally, a moan or a sigh escapes from some corner of the vast room. On the throne itself God sits in majestic silence, nothing in His demeanor betraying the depth of His thoughts. On the far side of the room, Moses and Elijah appear in deep conversation, seemingly oblivious to the uncomfortable silence.

Suddenly, from outside the walls sounds a great eruption. The elders jump to their feet and all eyes turn toward the entrance. The angels draw their swords and stand ready. Only God remains unmoved. In a blaze of smoke, a creature dressed in shining black garments, followed by smaller imps also clad in black, makes his way into the room. With a movement of His hand, God signals to the elders to clear the way for Satan to approach the throne.

Satan approaches and God looks down at him. Immediately, he falls flat on his back. His imps rush to his side and help him up. When he is once more vertical, God thunders from the throne, “What are you up to, Satan?”

“I am here to conclude our negotiations.”

God fixes him with a stare which he cannot return. “Do you want more riches?”

“I already have all the kingdoms of the world. I do not need any more riches.”

“Do you want more wisdom?”

“I have all the wisdom I need.”

“Do you want more power?”

“I have all the power I need.”

“Then what do you want?”

An evil grin sneaks across his face. “Your only begotten Son.”

A loud gasp emanates from every corner of the hall, followed by shouts and cries. The angels, swords thrusting forward, spring toward the intruder. God raises his hand and everyone falls backward. There is silence once more and God speaks, “You shall have Him.”


For God So Loved is part of a My Book Cave giveaway taking place right now until Easter. To get your free copy, all you have to do is click here  and it will take you to the page where you’ll see it and other Christian-themed books, all free of cost. But that’s not all. When you enter this giveaway, you stand a chance to win a $25 gift card. So take advantage of this wonderful opportunity and tell your friends about it as well. And remember, if you haven’t signed up for my newsletter, you can do so now to learn about other exciting offers.

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My Black History spotlight this week is on Terry McMillan, one of the most successful writers of our time. She is the  author of several magazine articles, and six bestselling books, two of which, Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back, became blockbuster movies.

Terry began her writing career in 1987 with the publication of her first novel, Mama, which started out as a short story. Terry followed the advice of members of the Harlem Writers’ Guild who told her that Mama ought to be a novel. After six weeks, she’d expanded her short story into a novel of over 400 pages. Terry sent her collection of short stories to Houghton Mifflin, expecting to get some free editorial advice. It turned out that Houghton Mifflin was more interested in Mama, which she’d mentioned briefly in her letter. Terry sent them some pages from the book and they loved it.

Here’s the opening line of Mama: “Mildred hid the ax beneath the mattress of the cot in the dining room.” Who wouldn’t want to continue reading after that?

For me, this is where the story of Terry’s rise to fame really got my attention. The writer of the article in encyclopedia.com says that typically first novels don’t get a lot of publicity. I can relate. But, the article continues, Terry was not about to let her hard work go to waste. When the publishers told her they couldn’t do more for her, Terry struck out on her own. She wrote over 3000 letters to bookstores, universities and colleges, and by the end of the summer of 1987 she was scheduled for several readings. Instead of waiting on her publicist to arrange her publicity tour, Terry did it herself. By the time Waiting to Exhale was published in 1992, Terry McMillan had become a sensation. The movie grossed $66 million.

So, what lessons can we as writers learn from Terry McMillan?

1. Read. Terry discovered the beauty of reading from working in the library. Prior to that, she had not been exposed to books by black writers. In an interview, Terry says she felt embarrassed when she came across a book by James Baldwin with his picture on the cover. After reading the autobiography of Malcolm X, Terry  realized that black literature was nothing to be ashamed of.

2. Study. Terry attended Los Angeles City College, where she immersed herself in African American classics. She then went on to the University of California at Berkeley and pursued a Master’s degree in Film at Columbia University. She also attended McDowell and Yaddo artist colonies.

3. Take advice. Had Terry not listened to the advice of the Harlem Writers Guild, she may not have published Mama, which launched her writing career.

4. Take charge. (This is my favorite) Don’t sit back and wait on others to do everything for you. Had Terry waited on her publishers to handle all her marketing for her, Mama may have fallen flat and her career may have never got off the ground.

In reading about this great, contemporary African American author, I feel proud to be a writer even though I have not begun to scratch the surface of what she has done. Still, she has motivated me, and I daresay other writers, to strive to be the best we can be. For that, we owe her a debt of gratitude.

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Langston Hughes photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1936.

As you all know, February is Black History month, the time when we celebrate the achievements of black folk here in America. As I researched on Google for an author to feature this week, I came across Langston Hughes, famous playwright, novelist, poet and social activist. Of course, I’d read many of his poems (who hasn’t?) but never knew that  I shared the same birth date – Feb. 1 – as this illustrious scribe.

Born of mixed heritage – his paternal great-grandfathers were of European descent, while his maternal great-grandmothers were African American – Hughes took pride in his African-American identity and stressed this in his work.

While in high school in Cleveland, Ohio, Hughes wrote for the school newspaper, edited the yearbook and began to write short stories, poetry and dramatic plays. He wrote his first piece of jazz poetry — a literary art form in which the poet responds and writes about jazz — “When Sue Wears Red” while still in high school.

Hughes’ first book of poetry “The Weary Blues” (1926) features the poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” which became a signature poem. In 1930, he won the Harmon Gold Medal for Literature for his first novel, Not Without Laughter. Hughes went on to write many short stories, novels, essays, works for children, autobiographies, plays, and later formed a theater troupe in Los Angeles.

Although a major influence during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, Hughes was highly critical of other Renaissance men such as W.E.B Du Bois and others who, he felt, were too accommodating of eurocentric values and culture. In addition to his literary prowess, Hughes racial consciousness inspired and united black writers not only in America but around the globe.  He had a major influence on writers  such as Jacques Roumain, Nicolás Guillén, Léopold Sédar Senghor, and Aimé Césaire.  Hughes was greatly admired by young black writers whom he discovered and helped by introducing them to the publishing world. One such example is Alice Walker author of The Color Purple.

Reading and writing about this great man is like searching through an encyclopedia, trying to extract the most significant facts about his life and not knowing where to begin. The task is the same when it comes to his poems. However, I selected a few lines from The Negro Mother which is very touching to me and which, I believe, is so pertinent to these times.

 

Sometimes, the road was hot with the sun,
But I had to keep on till my work was done:
I had to keep on! No stopping for me –
I was the seed of the coming Free.
I nourished the dream that nothing could smother
Deep in my breast – the Negro mother.

You can read more of Langston Hughes’s work on PoemHunter.com

 

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(The Italian Saga, 5)
Women’s lit, NA, memoir
Date Published: February 6, 2018
Publisher: Kuki Publishing

 

 
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Italy, 1998.
What does it take for a woman to be happy? Not a man, like twenty-year-old Leda Balni was raised to believe.
Weary of gender culture, Leda enrolls in Genetic Engineering. Surrounded by new friends, science, and even a sexy genius, she forgets her troubles until her restlessness resurfaces…
In a whirlwind of Vespa adventures, college exams, Italian culture, rock, philosophy, and chemistry—both the inorganic and the sizzling kind—Leda deconstructs happiness and establishes her own rules to the game of life, but is there room for love?
The question becomes urgent when an old acquaintance from her past resurfaces in all his brooding magnetism, but he is bad news, and smart, rational Leda should know better than succumbing to attraction…
If you love strong female characters and heartfelt advice, don’t miss this witty, introspective, feminist novel, part romance, part self-help, but always realistic and inspirational.
 
** “Finding Leda” is self-standing and directed at an adult audience,though suitable for teens, but it is the fifth book in “The ItalianSaga” and there are references to Leda’s previous adventures.  **
** The books are a fictional memoir based on the life of author GB Amman, a novelist and molecular biologist born and raised in Italy.**
 
About the Author

Gaia B. Amman was born and raised in Italy. She moved to the United States in her twenties to pursue her Ph.D. in molecular biology. She’s currently a professor of biology at D’Youville College in Buffalo, New York, where she was voted “the professor of the month” by her students. Her research and commentaries have been published in prestigious, international, peer-reviewed journals, including Nature.
A bookworm from birth, she wrote throughout her childhood and won two short story competitions in Italy in her teens. Gaia is an avid traveler, and many of her adventures are an inspiration for her fiction. Mostly she is passionate about people and the struggles they face to embrace life. Her highest hope is to reach and help as many as she can through her writing and her teaching. She authored the Indie Author Guide, the LGBTQ sci-fi fantasy Linked—Will Empathy Save the United Terrestrial Democracy?, The Italian Saga, a series of four novels that follows Leda’s adventures from childhood through the end of high school, and the Sonder Series, of which you just read volume one. The books, light-hearted and funny at first sight, deal with issues like sexuality, divorce, friendship, abuse, first love, and self discovery.
Among Amman’s favorite authors are J.K. Rowling, Jandy Nelson, Neil Gaiman, Chuck Palahniuk, Kurt Vonnegut, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Antoine de Saint Exupèry.
 
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My review:

Finding Leda is the story of a young college student trying to navigate the maze of college life and at the same time find her true self. She has made a lot of mistakes, (which young person doesn’t?) getting pregnant at fourteen, hooking up with the wrong guy, and now seems anxious not to repeat those mistakes.

I can’t say the novel has much of a plot. It’s the typical self-discovery-coming-of-age type of story, but I like the way Amman juxtaposes the successes Leda has discovering science with the progress she makes experimenting on her true self. Most of the novel reads like journal entries, and I think this style does well to give us a clear picture of what is going on in Leda’s head. The references to Italian culture help to add authenticity and depth to the story.

I recommend this novel to readers of YA and NA novels and have given it four stars.

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