Like reading funny pop star romances? Want to read and review the Cecily Taylor Series? The Cecily Taylor Series is now listed on NetGalley for reviews for a limited time. You can go here to request one or both of the books for review:
Can Dreams Come True:
In Over Her Head: Lights, Camera, Anxiety:
Meet author Shannon Davis! I'm excited to share her debut novel with you.
Tell us about your new book.
Worth the Risk ~ A Southern Fairy Tale is a friends-to-lovers, second chance romance. It takes the reader on an emotional journey through the lives of two best friends, Rebecca and Jackson, who met at the tender age of eight. As their friendship grows stronger, childhood infatuation culminates into a mutual desire for romance. But a horrific accident shatters their dreams and leaves both heartbroken and alone. Desperate to put the hurt behind them, they close the door to their past and move forward with their lives. Then a ten-year class reunion brings the two back together and they learn that falling in love is beyond their control. But secrets threaten to destroy their dreams again. In order to give their love another chance, they must risk another heartbreak—and ultimately, their own lives. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the book… “When you’re talking about love, there’s always a risk. But that’s part of what makes it so amazing.”
What inspired you to write it?
Worth the Risk was a story on my heart for many years. But life has a way of keeping us busy, doesn’t it? With my husband no longer deploying and our three children no longer little babies (although they’ll always be my babies), I found I had more time to expand on the story in my head. It’s funny how different stages in your life, exposure to certain events, spark inspiration. Quirky as it may sound, I was reading a book—two books, actually—and felt as though it was a sign for me to start writing my story…because in both books, the heroine decided to put it all on the line and chase her dreams of becoming an author. So, that’s what I decided to do too. I started putting down words in my spare time, and before I knew it, I had a few chapters written. And that inspired me to keep writing. The story itself drove me to finish. My characters became real to me, and they needed me to finish the story so they could have their happily ever after.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
So, so many… I’ll name a few.
The Queen Bee, Dorothea Benton Frank, is at the top of my list. I have every book she ever wrote, and they are all personally signed. Yes, I’m a fangirl. I had the great opportunity to meet her last April at her 2019 Fan Fest at her home in South Carolina. She was every bit of the sweet, sassy, southern soul that comes out in her books. Her tart humor and amazing talent of story-telling was what drew me to her as a reader, so when I heard about her Fan Fest, I simply had to attend. Unfortunately, she passed away less than five months later. My heart will forever be broken, but I am eternally grateful I had the opportunity to meet one of the authors who inspired me and gave me the nudge I needed to write.
Richard Paul Evans, Nora Roberts, Susan Mallery, Nicholas Sparks, and Sandra Brown are also a few of my favorites. I have so many!
What are some of your favorite books?
Some? Oh boy… This is a tough one too. I’ll give you a short list…
Sullivan’s Island and Isle of Palms (Dorothea Benton Frank)
The Witness and Whiskey Beach (Nora Roberts)
The Choice, The Wedding, The Notebook, See Me (Nicholas Sparks)
The Mistletoe Inn, The Noel Stranger (Richard Paul Evans)
Here’s a question I love to ask writers: what book (that’s already published) do wish you could have written?
Oh my goodness, these questions! How in the world can I come up with only one answer! I suppose it would be The Choice by Nicholas Sparks.
Share with us a little about yourself!
I grew up in Northwest Florida and attended a small rural K-12 school. After college, I followed my love of mathematics and became a high school math teacher. Nearly three decades later, I finally decided to step away from the classroom for a season and pursue my lifelong dream of writing.
When I’m not reading and writing, I enjoy baking and making crafts. I’m a huge Hallmark fan, so every holiday I’m eager to watch all the new romance movies. I’m a sucker for love stories with happy endings.
My family is my greatest gift. I am a military wife and mother of three college-aged children. With everyone going in different directions these days, our family time is even more precious. We enjoy the outdoors and love going on vacations together.
I write about fame, celebrities, singers, and models as well as writing about values. Who are some of the celebrities who you admire? Any celebrity crushes from your childhood/teen years?
I admire the celebrities who remain grounded, who truly love people, and who step up and give back when they can. To me, it’s simple acts of kindness, compassion, and selflessness that make celebrities super stars.
As for my childhood crushes, who didn’t have eyes for Rob Lowe? I had posters taped all over my bedroom wall of him and Bruce Springsteen.
I write a lot about funny (and cringe worthy) middle school and high school moments. What’s a moment from either middle school or high school that you wish you could go back in time and do over?
I think I’d like to go back to my senior year and relive some of those moments. That year seemed to pass so quickly for me. I’d love to go on my senior trip again and take more pictures!
What are you working on next?
I am working on another novel, the second in the Southern Fairy Tale series. The name of it is Worth the Wait, and I can’t “wait” to get it finished!
Worth The Risk by Shannon Davis
Not all fairy tales are as simple as meeting your handsome prince and living happily ever after. Nobody knows this better than Rebecca Sharp. She thought she met her prince at the tender age of eight. As their friendship grew stronger, childhood infatuation culminated into a desire for romance. But untimely circumstances shattered Rebecca’s dreams of true love and left her broken and alone. A fresh start was the only way she could close the door to her painful past. Now, harboring a dark secret, Rebecca has returned home to attend her ten-year class reunion, mostly to prove she isn’t afraid to see Jackson again. Jackson Strickland had his own secrets, but his love for Rebecca wasn’t one of them. Tormented by the memories of the only girl he ever loved, his life spiraled out of control. When Rebecca unexpectedly returns, his life is shaken even more. No longer the young girl he remembered, she was a strong and beautiful woman. Despite his bitterness, he can’t resist her or the fire in his heart that’s been smoldering for the past ten years. But secrets from his past still haunt him and danger looms as a killer lurks.
Will they be able to overcome their past and risk everything for love?
Author Bio: Shannon Davis grew up in Northwest Florida where she developed a love of writing as a young girl, keeping countless diaries and notebooks filled with short stories. After college, she followed her love of mathematics and became a high school math teacher. She retired from the classroom after nearly three decades to pursue her lifelong dream of writing. A military wife and mother of three college-aged children, she and her husband reside in Georgia with their three dogs and four cats. When she is not writing, Shannon enjoys traveling, baking, and outdoor activities. An avid reader of women’s fiction and love stories, she is a sucker for happy endings. Her love of the south coupled with romance is evident in her debut novel, Worth the Risk.
Purchase on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2MvjTO7
Author website: http://www.shannondavisauthor.com/
I always love having author A.K. Morgen on the blog and today she's back with her new Upper YA/New Adult paranormal romance as well as giving us the playlist for Songs of Destruction: FALL's Playlist!
FALL - The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two
Genre: Upper YA/New Adult Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing
How do you save someone who doesn't want to be saved?
Those called to stand guard against the end are broken, and Sköll and Hati run free. Now Arionna Jacobs and Dace Matthews face a threat unlike any before. Ragnarök is coming and they aren't strong enough to stop it.
Arionna thought she understood sacrifice, but she never counted on her destiny tearing Dace apart. Ever since she nearly died, he has been consumed with guilt. Now it threatens to turn him into the monster he always feared.
It's up to Arionna to stop him before it's too late, but the path to hell is paved with good intentions, and Dace is hurtling toward self-destruction. This time, Arionna isn't sure she can save him from himself.
Can she convince him to let the past go, or is her true destiny to sacrifice her heart in exchange for the lives of the people she loves?
Amazon Worldwide | Smashwords | Apple | Kobo |BN | Universal Book Link
Dace nuzzled his cold face into my neck, planting little kisses everywhere he could reach.
I love seeing you like this, I said.
Happy. I tilted my head to the side to allow him better access to my neck. I loved when he kissed me like this. Like he couldn't be this close to me without having his hands and lips on me.
I am happy. You make me happy.
Gage leaned down to whisper something to Chelle. She looked out over the field, frowned, and then whispered something back to him, too low for me to hear. Gage responded, causing her to shake her head. Her frown deepened.
I followed her gaze with mine and had to bite back the urge to groan.
Ronan stood across the quad, his long hair blowing in the brisk wind.
Why is he here?
I asked him to come, Dace said.
"Why?" I demanded aloud.
Some of the girls around us turned in my direction.
"Shit," I cursed under my breath. I would remind everyone I was within gawking distance. I arched a brow in a pointed, unspoken request.
They hurriedly averted their gazes, opting instead to cast furtive glances over their shoulders at us.
Behave, please. Dace continued nuzzling my neck, trying to distract me.
I closed my eyes and leaned back into him again, doing my best to ignore the renewed interest of my former classmates. They weren't only curious about me. They were just as curious about Dace, the gorgeous TA who had never dated a student before me. Didn't help, though. I didn't like the attention.
Why's Ronan here? I asked.
To help keep an eye on things.
Dace sucked at lying. Or maybe I'd gotten better at picking up on the things he didn't say. Whatever the case, he wasn't being honest with me. I heard it in the half-second pause before he answered. Felt it in the way his body tensed for a moment before he relaxed again.
I'm not lying.
You're not telling the whole truth, either.
Geri? I pushed my thoughts out toward the wolf. If he knew what Dace was plotting, he'd fill me in. Wolves didn't keep secrets.
Dammit, Arionna. Dace nipped gently at my skin with his teeth, a little punishment for defying him, and a little reward for defying him. The boy was nothing if not complicated.
"Tell me," I said, turning my face into his.
He's here to see if he can root out Sköll or Hati.
I froze, my heart jumping.
We don't know if they're here, Dace said, trying to ease my mind.
It didn't work.
He didn't know for sure, but he suspected the demon wolves were here. And why wouldn't he? Whoever they were, they knew where he worked, where I went to school. They knew exactly where to find us the day they attacked, right down to our schedules. Of course, they were here somewhere. What I didn't understand was why Dace was here.
If he expected Sköll and Hati to show up, why did he willingly let me, Chelle, and Beth come here?
Because you're safe here.
So he hoped.
I won't let anything happen to you again.
I sighed, things beginning to fall into place in my mind.
Dace wouldn't let any of us leave the house without a guard, but he had no such qualms about putting Ronan in danger. Sköll and Hati had to know Dace would be too busy keeping an eye on me, Chelle, and Beth to spare any attention for anyone else today. No one would be watching Ronan's back, making him an easy target. All the twin wolves had to do was separate him from the crowd, and no one would ever know.
That's why we were really here today. Not because we needed a break or because Dace was actually trying, but for this. So Ronan could do what Dace wouldn't let me do and act as bait.
We couldn't even get away from the apocalypse for a single afternoon.
The damn thing followed us everywhere went.
About the Author:
A.K. Morgen is the Amazon Bestselling author of the Ragnarök Prophesies series. She lives in the heart of Arkansas with her childhood sweetheart/husband of sixteen years and their furry minions. When not writing, she spends her time hiking, reading, volunteering, causing mischief, and building a Spork army.
She graduated summa cum laude with her Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and Forensic Psychology in 2009 before going on to complete her graduate degree in CJ and Law.
She puts her education to use as a 911 Dispatch Supervisor, where she's responsible for leading a team of dispatchers as they watch over police, EMS, and firefighters for her county.
Ayden also writes steamy romantic suspense under the penname Ayden K. Morgen. You can visit her online at http://akmorgen.com or at the links below.
Tirgearr Publishing: http://www.tirpub.com/akmorgen
Songs of Destruction: FALL's Playlist by A.K. Morgen
Music is such a big source of inspiration for me. I wrote FALL (The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two) over the course of a year way back in 2012-2013. When prepping it to republish this year, I considered coming up with a whole new playlist as I worked my way through edits. But I quickly found that the original playlist I created way back then was already exactly what I needed for this story.
In FALL, we see this struggle unfolding between Arionna Jacobs and Dace Matthews (our apocalypse stopping heroine and hero) where they both have their own ideas on what's best for everyone. They end up clashing over those differences of opinion and reacting to this added element of angst in their relationship in some pretty intense ways at times. As a result, this created a sort of dark, melancholy tone for FALL in places.
I'm not exactly a dark and melancholy kind of person, so it was critical that I found music that captured that feeling while writing or it simply wouldn't have worked. Luckily, there was an endless supply of music out there that really captures the more angsty parts of FALL, so I had a lot of good choices.
Revisiting them again while editing was, surprisingly, a lot of fun. I hadn't heard some of these in a few years, so it was really nice to queue them up and remember why it fit so well.
Here are some of my favorite angst-ridden songs from FALL's playlists.
• Letters From The Sky - The Civil Wars - This song so perfectly captures Ari and Dace's relationship, and the whole hopeful yet melancholy apocalypse theme of the series, I added it to the list the first time I heard it.
• Closer - Burn Season - This song reminds me so much of Dace at times. He's so screwed up, and yet so amazingly good at the same time, I always feel a little sad for him.
• Maybe Tomorrow – Stereophonics – I can't think of any other song that says so much with so little. It's sad, it's hopeful, and just all around powerful.
• All Falls Down – Adelita's Way - This song was an early favorite. I love it for Ronan, who we see a lot more of in FALL, and really start getting to know. It also perfectly captures some of the darkest points of the entire Ragnarök series.
• Radioactive - Imagination Dragons – This song has such a great feel to it. There's that apocalyptic vibe, and then that self-loathing vibe, and then underneath all of that is the story of an awakening or desire to change. We see a little of each in FALL.
• Always – Saliva – This is one of my all-time favorite pissed off songs. It's so spot on when it comes to that "breaking point" of relationship angst. I rocked it a time or five.
• One More Night - Maroon 5 – This is another great dysfunctional relationship song. Plus, I don't know anyone who can make dysfunction sound as hot as Adam Levine does.
• Hold it Against Me – Sam Tsui – Speaking of hot, I love, love, love Sam Tsui's cover of this song. It's so raw and lovely at the same time. There's a specific scene in FALL where this song fit perfectly.
• Tears of an Angel – Ryandan – If I had to pick a single song to listen to while writing the entire Ragnarök Prophesies series, this song would be it. It's haunting, beautiful, sad, hopeful, and just all around amazing.
Competing with the Star is free for a limited time! Pick it up on Amazon now.
Hadley Daniels’s life seems perfect…
Before the beginning of sophomore year of high school, Hadley and her family move to a beautiful beach town, where she makes amazing new friends and lands the boyfriend of her dreams—Nick Jenkins. He’s the kind of guy every girl swoons over, and it isn’t long until Hadley discovers some are still swooning.
A famous ex-girlfriend makes matters more complicated…
After some time dating, Hadley and Nick form a deep bond. But insecurity sets in when Hadley discovers her boyfriend once had a huge crush on her friend—who just happens to be the beautiful former teen TV star, Simone Hendrickson.
The past is the past—or so they say…
Hadley confronts Nick, who confesses about his history with Simone. Though he claims to only have eyes for Hadley now, it’s hard to believe—especially when she’s blindsided with the news that Nick and Simone kissed after school.
Now Hadley must determine who is telling the truth. Love, betrayal, friendship…who needs soap opera drama when you’re busy competing with a star?
Pick it up for free here:
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01CQ47Z2S
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01CQ47Z2S
Amazon Germany: https://www.amazon.de/gp/product/B01CQ47Z2S
Amazon India: https://www.amazon.in/Competing-Star-Book-2-ebook/dp/B01CQ47Z2S
Competing with the Star has a subplot where Nick's grandfather has Lewy Body Parkinson's with dementia. Right now Alz Authors is offering books on caregiving, dementia, and other Alz related resources and topics for sale. There's also a giveaway. You can find more information here:
:June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, a time to increase understanding of what dementia is and how it impacts the lives of those it touches. It's also a great time to work to decrease the stigma and silence that too often accompanies an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
Each June AlzAuthors hosts a book sale and giveaway to help caregivers and those concerned about dementia find knowledge, guidance, and support offered through shared wisdom and experience. AlzAuthors is the global community of authors writing about Alzheimer’s and dementia from personal experience. I’m proud to be a part of this growing non-profit organization, and I’m excited my book (insert book title) is a part of this sale.
Starting June 15th through June 22nd you can take advantage of this biannual opportunity to purchase excellent resources on the dementia diseases for free or at reduced prices. We offer a variety of genres, including fiction, memoir, non-fiction, and children’s and teen literature. Most are available in Kindle and ebook, and many are available in paperback and audio. We encourage you to build a library of carefully vetted books to help guide and inspire you every day.
Our books are written from a deep place of solidarity, vulnerability, and love. May you find one – or two, or more! – to help guide you on your own dementia journey. Enter the sale here: https://alzauthors.com/2020/06/15/alzheimers-and-brain-awareness-month-book-sale-giveaway/
This is a cause that is near to my heart and I try to do what I can to raise awareness for dementia and Lewy Body Parkinson's. Right now, I have my YA romance, Competiting with the Star, available for free for a limited time for the sale.
You can pick up Competing with the Star free here:
Today I'm over on a friend's blog talking with syndicated humor columnist Dorothy Rosby about everything from books to embarrassing moments from my teen years to Cabbage Patch Kid baby daddies!
Find the interview here: dorothyrosby.com/blog/2020/6/9/in-over-her-head
A couple of outtakes here!
So excited to have author Toni Shiloh on to talk about her Faith and Fortune series. You are going to love this one! Check out the blurb, my interview with her, and an excerpt from the book!
The Trouble With Love Back cover Blurb –
I, Holiday Brown, have it all. A platinum record. Multi-million dollar home in Manhattan that I share with my two best friends. Life is looking fantastic until my roommate’s brother decides to bunk in our guestroom while his house gets renovated.
W. Emmett Bell has always been the bane of my existence. He’s annoying, stubborn, a know it all, and just might be the most gorgeous man I’ve ever laid eyes on. But I refuse to fall for him. Then his sister’s threatened by a stalker and dynamics change. His unwavering faith isn’t quite as self-righteous as I’d always thought, and maybe he has a good side I’ve overlooked all these years.
Or maybe it’s all too much trouble.
The Trouble With Love is the first book in the Christian Chick Lit series: Faith & Fortune.
Tell us a little about yourself!
I’m a huge reader and I’ll read just about any genre as long as it has romance in it. Whether it’s ya, contemporary, historical, suspense, speculative, etc, it doesn’t matter as long as a happily ever after is guaranteed. When I’m not reading, I’m playing video games with my sons, watching law enforcement shows with my husband, or chatting with friends. I’m an introvert that loves community and thankfully I get that from writer friends and Bible study friends.
Share with us the idea behind your Faith & Fortune Series. What inspired you to write the series?
I actually came across the stock photos when working on another book’s cover of mine. When I saw them I knew I wanted to use them. I just had to brainstorm a story that fit.
What is your latest book in the series about?
Faith & Fortune series is about three heiresses (and best friends) who live in New York City. We get a glimpse into the lives of the rich and famous and see their struggles in love and faith.
Where do your ideas come from?
It all depends. Sometimes a character will walk into my head and start talking to me. Sometimes I’ve brainstormed an idea until slowly a character surfaces and their backstory begins to take shape. Sometimes it’s a song, commercial, etc.
What authors do you enjoy reading?
So many! I’ve read all of the books of Sarah Monzon, Ronie Kendig, Becky Wade, Lynn Blackburn, and more.
What are some of your favorite books?
Becky Wade’s My Stubborn Heart will always be at the top of my list. I’d also add Francine River’s The Atonement Child, Kim Cash Tate’s Hidden Blessing, and Kasie West’s Love, Life, and the List.
Here’s a question I love asking: what book (that’s already published) do wish you could have written?
Oh, that’s a great question! I’ll pick Becky Wade’s My Stubborn Heart. There is such emotion in that book and it hits me in the feels every time.
We both write about fame, celebrities, singers, and models as well as writing about values. Who are some of the celebrities who you admire?
That’s a question I’ve never been asked before. 😊 Thinking about it, it would probably be an author who has reached famed status. Someone who was a trailblazer but also full of wisdom. Ladies like Toni Morrison or Maya Angelou.
If you weren’t a writer, what would your dream job be?
Being a writer is pretty much living the dream, but if I had to pick another one, maybe bookstore owner.
I write a lot about funny (and cringe worthy) middle school and high school moments. What’s a moment from either middle school or high school that you wish you could go back in time and do over?
I played band from 5th grade to 11th. I decided my senior to relax my schedule a little bit so I dropped band. If I could go back, I would add it back and pick something else to drop. I loved playing and I missed it more than I thought I would my senior year.
What are you working on next?
I’m currently writing a Christmas novella that will be in a boxset later this year. It’s taking me between New Orleans and Denver. 😊
Thank you so much for having me!
I strolled down the path through Central Park and exhaled. My tour was over and I was now free to be me, Holiday Brown, lover of all things Manhattan and self-proclaimed foodie. Not that I necessarily placed labels on myself. I spent the majority of my life trying to shed the ones the world affixed to me. Rick Brown’s daughter. Platinum-selling pop singer. Heiress to the Brown fortune.
But here on the streets of Manhattan, I was just another dot from a bird’s eye view. One of the throng, heading to a destination only I knew.
As if I actually had a clue. I was living one day at a time, filling it with music and friendship. Life was more than I expected but lacking in ways I couldn’t seem to pinpoint.
My best friends and roommates would say I was burned out. They’d be right. My music career had already gone on longer than most artists dared hope for. My fuse had lit at an early age thanks to my dad’s ambition. He swears up and down I came out of the womb singing. No nonsense babbling for Rick Brown’s child. He’d groomed me, hiring a vocal coach before I’d even entered formal education. He also taught me how to play the guitar and piano, delegating lessons to professionals whenever he left to tour the world for his own career.
At seventeen, I landed my first record deal—without my father’s help, despite what the press believed. Honestly, my last name probably did help in that arena, but I worked my tail off to prove I was more than just Rick Brown’s daughter.
Still, every time my name was printed in the press, Dad’s was always attached. I couldn’t shake him or the expectations that came with his legacy, and I was so very tired of it all.
I shook my head, tilting my chin and letting my hair fall away from my face. Now wasn’t the time to sink into the exhaustion that threatened to drown me. A stroll through Central Park would clear my head and hopefully, by the time I made it back to my Upper East Side townhouse, give some direction.
The summer humidity cast a sheen of perspiration across my brown skin, making my arms glow beneath my tank top. The urge to stop in the middle of the walkway, fling my arms out wide, and swing around in a circle tempted me for a startling moment. Of course, I’d totally look like a tourist or the opening credits for a rom com set in New York. I snorted and continued walking.
As much as I wanted to find happiness again, that elusive feeling wouldn’t be discovered twirling in Central Park. I needed to get back to songwriting. I hadn’t penned a single word in six months.
♥♥♥♥Author bio –
Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and multi-published Christian contemporary romance author. She writes to bring God glory and to learn more about His goodness. Her novel, Grace Restored, was a 2019 Holt Medallion finalist and Risking Love is a 2020 Selah Award finalist.
A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and of the Virginia Chapter, Toni seeks to help readers find authors. She loves connecting with readers and authors alike via social media. You can learn more about her writing at http://tonishiloh.com.
“In her iconic soulful fashion, ToniShiloh has penned another heartfelt page-turner...this time with a dash ofsuspense thrown in!"- SarahMonzon, award-winning author of Finders Keepers
“Swoony, sweet and a little sassy, The Trouble with Love is Toni Shiloh's best novel yet! A beautiful story of friendship, romance, and brokenness meeting grace.” – Carrie Schmidt, Reading is my Superpower
“In The Trouble With Love, Toni Shiloh offers a fresh take on modern romance that will twirl you about the New York City high life, yet still manages to keep the characters completely relatable with their fears, longings, and faith struggles. The romance between Holiday and Emmett is flirty, fun, and completely squeal-inducing. Enjoy this escape from everyday life and dive into Shiloh’s world of faith and fortune!” – Janine Rosche, author of This Wandering Heart
Buy links –
Social media links –
My BookCave: https://mybookcave.com/profile/toni-shiloh/
Blogs I’m part of:
www.inspyromance.com ; http://diversitybetweenthepages.wordpress.com
NEW RELEASE: REMEMBER THE STARS by Marisa Oldham and Carraine Oldham
In 1941, Estherly Krauss, a seventeen-year-old Jewish girl, documents her struggles during the Holocaust. With Hitler’s reign coming down on Estherly and her family, her days of being a typical teen are over. While fighting for a forbidden love, the atrocities and horrors Estherly endures force her to grow up in an uncertain and dangerous time.
Estherly’s voice echoes through time when Ferrin Frazier discovers her diaries. Without realizing the effect these small books will have, a door opens for Ferrin to explore her own life and love. Consumed by Estherly’s story of survival, the secrets she kept, and the desire to know what became of her, Ferrin embarks on an adventure of discovery. Will she find the answers she’s looking for? Or will it end up leading her down a path she never predicted?
Here’s an excerpt from Remember the Stars
Chapter 2 - Estherly
2 October 1941
“Estherly?” Mae asks, as she shakes me.
I finally look up from daydreaming and watching two young boys run across the schoolyard to see what she wants. Mae and I have been friends since we were eight years old. She’s dear to me. I’ve never met someone as kind-hearted and genuine as her. Since we started school, Mae and I have eaten lunch together each day on the lawn. Sometimes my ten-year-old sister, Anika, joins us, but today she’s home ill.
“What is it?” I ask.
“He’s staring at you again. He can’t keep his eyes off you. Nazi pig!” she says under her breath, barely loud enough for me to hear.
I roll my eyes and let out a groan.
“No, he’s not… he’s watching everyone. That’s his job. Finish your lunch before we have to get back to class.”
Satisfied with my lack of interest in the soldier, she flips her long brown hair to one side and continues eating.
I pop a piece of cold boiled potato into my mouth. I run my hand over the soft, cool grass as the fall sunshine kisses my face and soaks into my skin. For one moment, in the warmth of the striking sun, my life is normal.
Catching my breath, I think of simpler times. I long for the days of my childhood, running barefoot during summertime, playing with my sisters, and being teased by my brother. I can still smell the sweet fragrance of wildflowers floating in the warm breeze that speckled the grounds around our two-story farmhouse on the outskirts of Berlin. We enjoyed being outside together until it was time for dinner.
I remember nights when my mother would call us to the table; the aroma of what she prepared filled the air. I would inhale, taking in the scent, as the six of us sat down to enjoy the meal that greeted us.
Gathered together for dinner, we told stories of our days, shared dreams for our future, and reminisced about times gone by. Sometimes, after dinner, my father would get out his guitar and sing to us. His perfect pitch soothed me.
I close my eyes and think about what he sang to me. The memory warms my heart.
As he would strum, my brother Gavi would chime in with his harmonica, creating an ambient melody. Sometimes the music would stir in my soul, causing me to take to my feet and flutter around the room, my family in awe of the dance I performed. At times my sisters and I sang along, searching for the right harmony, taking turns singing the lead. My mother, not the best singer, clapped along with impeccable rhythm, the love she had for each of us shining in her eyes. Our house was filled with joy. Our house was filled with hope.
Often at night, my sisters and I would go out and lay on the grass. The night was always alive with chirping crickets, an owl in the distance and even the occasional bark from the neighbor’s dog. The sky was lit with thousands of stars, twinkling as if competing with the brilliance of the moon.
“Look right there. It’s a heart,” I said on one of those nights, pointing towards the sky.
“Uhh, Estherly, you always see hearts!” my older sister, Oma, said, laughing.
“It sort of looks like a heart, if you squint and look at it sideways.” Anika giggled.
“It’s as plain as day! Right there over the tree, a big, beautiful heart! I can’t believe you don’t see it!” I said, standing up and pointing again.
Laughing, they grabbed my arms and pulled me back down to the soft, dewy grass. Hand in hand, we would spend hours lying under the night sky, sharing our hearts as only sisters can. Our bond, our loyalty, and our love was solidified under those stars shared with the whispering winds.
A gun fires, jolting me from my memories. Grabbing my hand, Mae looks at me with wide, petrified eyes. Searching for Henry, our eyes meet, and I’m reminded how much I’m in love. Even during this horrible time, his subtle smile lets me know that, for now, we are not in imminent danger. On cue, soldiers rush our way and usher me, Mae, and our schoolmates back to class, breaking the stare between Henry and me.
“Gather your things. Get back inside. Move it!” demands one of the men.
Making our way back to the brick schoolhouse, more shots ring out. Panic sets in once again as the sound moves in closer. I stare up at what used to be a beautiful, historic building, the schoolhouse I’ve always been fortunate to call my home away from home. The broken windows almost look as though they weep for the grand presence the building once was. The two-story schoolhouse used to have twenty classrooms. Now, with most of the students and their families either deported or murdered, they cram what is left of us into one room on the bottom floor.
Purchase on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B084X51TT7
Add to Your Goodreads TBR List: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53440783-remember-the-stars
About the Authors:
Marisa Oldham is an Amazon bestselling author of the popular The Falling Series - The Falling of Love, The Falling of Grace, and The Falling of Hope. A passionate writer with immense depth, Marisa published a highly emotional spinoff of the series, Learning to Breathe, that connected her readers with her by sharing her personal experiences in a fictional manner. In a short story collection, After We Fell, that follows Learning to Breathe, Marisa continued to dive into the trials and tribulations of her characters’ lives with Falling in Paris, Falling Apart, and Falling Forever. Marisa has also contributed to anthologies and has many works in progress.
Marisa lives in a small town in Tennessee with her sister Carraine and her adorable Yorkshire Terrier mix, Winnie. Outside of writing, Marisa enjoys photography, travel, reality TV, horror movies, and crafting. One of Marisa’s favorite aspects of being a writer is connecting with her readers. You may reach Marisa via social media or email.
Carraine Oldham is a first-time author who discovered her talent and joy for writing as a teenager. While she kept her writing to herself, over the years she penned short stories in a journal that she only shared with Marisa. Carraine embarked on writing her first novel after pitching the idea for Remember the Stars to her sister and published author, Marisa Oldham. After thirteen-years of research, life-altering changes, and surviving tragedy, Carraine's poetic writing has captured the hearts of her readers.
Carraine lives in a small Tennessee town with her sister Marisa and the love of her life, a six-pound Yorkshire Terrier mix, Winnie. When she's not writing, Carraine enjoys travel, singing, crafting, and relaxing on the couch with Winnie and her favorite TV shows.
Visit Them Around the Web:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/thefallingseriesofnovels
Facebook Reader’s Group - https://www.facebook.com/groups/mogroupies
Amazon - https://Author.to/MarisaOldham
BookBub - https://www.bookbub.com/profile/marisa-oldham
Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7053742.Marisa_Oldham
Twitter – https://twitter.com/AuthorMarisa
Instagram – https://Instagram.com /authormarisao
Happy to have syndicated humor columnist Dorothy Rosby on today to answer some fun questions.
I first got to know Dorothy when I lived in South Dakota and we were members of the Black Hills Writers Group. I'm excited to share her new book with you today.
Tell us about your new book!
I call Alexa’s a Spy and Other Things to Be Ticked off About part comical call to arms and part tongue-in cheek tirade. The tirade part is my ranting about all sorts of things that annoy us in our modern world--intrusive technology and noise, spammers and scammers, litter and clutter and so on. No mention of toilet paper shortages, Zoom meeting hackers and some of the other hassles we’re dealing with now because somehow I didn’t see those coming when I wrote the book.
The call to arms part is that, in some cases, I offer my opinion on what I think we should do about these “hassles of our time.”
What inspired you to write this book?
When things strike me a certain way, I always feel compelled to jot down a few notes about them. I think it’s that way with most writers. This book is about all sorts of things I’ve been annoyed by, ranted and raved about, written a lot of notes about and probably given way too much thought to. I’ve written humor columns or done humorous talks about all of them too. And finally about three years ago, I started expanding those into full length essays and putting the book together.
Where do your column/book ideas come from?
Everywhere--every conversation, every experience, bad and good, everything that gets under my skin or makes me smile. Unfortunately, the things that get under my skin make the funniest stories. I’ve written about speeding tickets a few times. They’re not funny at all when I get them. I’ve written about appliances dying, foot surgery and my difficulties with math, and now I’ve written at least three columns or blog posts about COVID-19. Definitely not funny. But in the retelling, those kinds of things can be very funny, in part because as a humor writer, I write about my own foolish or overly dramatic reactions and other people can relate to that—hopefully anyway.
You talk about clutter in your book and on your blog, so I have to ask…did you get any organizing done during this time? Did you tackle those closets? In all fairness I will say I’ve been locked down since March 12th here and if good intentions cleaned closets then I’d have the sparkly-est closets on earth. However, they don’t.
I’ve done a little, but not as much as I’d like. It took a global pandemic to make me realize that it wasn’t my busy social life that was keeping me from cleaning my closets after all.
So what have you been doing during your quarantine time? (Note: hope Dorothy doesn’t ask me the same question because there’s no good way to make watching old Murder She Wrote episodes sound productive.)
Having my book come out in the middle of this mess has provided me with a ton of marketing and business tasks to do—as well as a good excuse for why I haven’t gotten my closets clean. So I’ve used my time pretty well—mostly.
Having said that, I have to admit to watching a few episodes of Murder She Wrote myself. Also Monk, Castle, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and Midsomer Murders. I’m not just a mystery fan; I’m a mystery fanatic. If I were stuck in bed recovering from illness, I’d spend my days reading mysteries. And when I got tired of reading, I’d watch the Hallmark mystery channel, and during commercials, I’d mute the TV, stare out my window and imagine suspicious activity in my neighborhood.
We ran into each other at an Erma Bombeck event, so who are some of your favorite humor writers.
So many. I follow the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop Facebook page and I’m a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnist which also has a Facebook page. Both of those are great places to take a “humor” break anytime and read the latest column or blog post from a variety of humor writers from all over the country. It’s my way of avoiding actual work when I’m at my computer.
What other authors do you enjoy?
Naturally, a lot of mystery authors. I’m slowly making my way through Elizabeth George’s Inspector Lynley series and Anne Perry’s William Monk series. I LOVE them both.
I love to write humor and I love to read humor. But my favorite books to read are mysteries (surprise!) and those with a spiritual theme. I just finished reading Thomas Keating’s Open Mind, Open Heart and loved it.
Here’s a question I love asking: what book (that’s already published) do wish you could have written?
Well in keeping with my theme, I wish I’d written not just a book, but a whole series: Sue Grafton’s Alphabet Series. I love her main character, private detective, Kinsey Millhone. I want to be like her.
I write a series about a girl getting to date her music crush. Do you have a music crush now or from your teen years?
It’s a toss-up between Justin Hayward, formerly of the Moody Blues and Steve Perry from Journey. I still love their music and I love their voices and I’d be terribly tongue-tied if I ever met them in person.
If you weren’t a writer, what would your dream job be?
I’m blessed in that I actually had my other dream job. For 31 years, I did the public relations for a wonderful nonprofit that supports people with disabilities. It’s always been important to me to work for a purpose, to feel like I was using my talents, such as they are, to make the world better in some small way. I worked for a company with a big, beautiful mission—the kind of place that changes you for the better. For 24 of those years, I was also writing my humor column for publications in the West and Midwest. And much of that time, I was raising my son and caring for my mother who was 80 years older than my son. I was busy and tired. And it was my dream to eventually just focus on my humor writing. A little over a year ago, I was finally able to resign from the other job. I’m not sure it’s the best omen that I started my life as a fulltime writer on April Fool’s Day.
I lived in South Dakota for a while and I actually enjoyed snow days inside! What is your favorite snowed in activity?
I love a snow day. If I didn’t get tired of shoveling, I wouldn’t mind a lot more of them. I can do some of my favorite things on snow days: write, read mysteries, watch mysteries, make soup and eat soup.
I write a lot about funny (and cringe worthy) middle school and high school moments. What’s a moment from either middle school or high school that you wish you could go back and do over?
Here’s one that still makes me cringe. I used to do a little sewing when I was in middle and high school. And I once sewed what I thought was a pretty stylish skirt. It was fairly short, but not so much that my mother wouldn’t let me wear it. It was made from a heavy white denim fabric and it flared nicely, like a cheerleader skirt. What can I say? It was cool then. But the fabric was a bit stiff. One day my skirt was apparently folded under me as I sat and when I stood up, it stayed folded. I heard refrains of “I see London; I see France” up and down the hallway for months after that.
Did you always want to be a writer when you were growing up? Was there another career you considered?
I wanted to be a writer since I was a little girl and I journaled and wrote bad poetry and worse short stories as long as I can remember. But I spent too many years being too practical about my writing. I got a major journalism and minors in communication and English. And I did short stints at a small town newspaper and in radio news. I also did a lot of writing in my public relations career, everything from commercials and video scripts to newsletters and press releases. It was fine and it was good practice, but the kind of writing I do now is the kind I really love—the kind I was meant to do.
Find Dorothy's website here: www.dorothyrosby.com
Buy the book here:
Alexa’s a Spy and Other Things to Be Ticked off About:
Humorous Essays on the Hassles of Our Time
This time we read chapters 28-31 and finished book one in the series! We will start book two in the series, Best Friends…Forever? next.
Landry mentions at the start of chapter 28 that she once shared a short story she was working on with Tori, but Tori’s response stopped her from ever sharing her work again. What did you think of how Tori reacted to reading the story?
This chapter has Landry dealing with up and down emotions with Devon. Once again Landry has a friend who she’s walking on eggshells around and worried she’ll upset her in some way. In the end, Landry winds up apologizing to Devon to calm things down. What do you think about Landry’s apology to Devon? Write about what you think about Ashanti and Peyton’s response to this.
In chapter 29, Landry and Peyton go to the movies and then the mall together. How is this outing with Peyton different from when she hangs out with Tori or Devon and India? Why do you think this is different?
In chapter 30, Landry and some of the girls exchange gifts before school is out for the holidays. At the start of the book, Landry was desperate to find new people to hang out with after her two best friends (Tori and Ericka) freeze her out. How have things changed in this scene with the Christmas cards and Christmas/Hanukah gifts that are exchanged?
In chapter 31 we see a lot of things have changed for Landry. She has different friends, a side career she’s embarking on, some slowly emerging confidence, and she’s beginning to speak up for herself. Think back on what has changed to cause her to do this. How did stepping out of her comfort zone work for her?
Now that we’re at the end of the book we’ve seen a lot of different aspects of friendship and traits in friends. Make a list of the Landry’s friends (or use the one from a previous session if you have it) and write down some of the traits you see in them. Here’s some to think about: loyal, generous, supportive, caring, jealous, sympathetic, helpful, compassionate, understanding, self-centered, greedy, and protective.
Some of the characters have both good and not so good aspects. We all have our moments where we aren’t so proud of how we act, but people can often redeem themselves. Sometimes it’s important to look at why they’re acting the way they do. Why do you think Landry’s friends act the way they do? Why does Devon often change on Landry? Why did Tori turn on Landry? Why does Ericka act the way she does toward Landry? What about how Kyle and some of the others act toward Thalia?
Behind the scenes: I used a lot of situations I either witnessed or lived firsthand to write this series. I’ve learned a lot about both making and being a friend since then. I’ve had a mix of friends like these in my life and used some situations to create what they call, “character composites.” That means the characters are all made up (fictional), but I used experiences and attributes of people and situations I’ve run into before. It’s easier for me to create my own characters than trying to recreate someone I knew years ago into a book!
Even though a lot of time has passed since I went through some similar things as Landry, I admit sometimes rereading these things can still sting! Did you see yourself or any of your friends or people in your classes in these characters? Take some time to write about that. Maybe you saw yourself as getting pushed around or not feeling like you could speak up for yourself. Or maybe you even realized you might be a little bossier than you realized in your friendships.
I had a parent tell me that she gave copies of True Colors to her daughter’s group of friends because she and her daughter both thought her friends were treating her like Ericka and Tori treated Landry. The mom told me all the girls read the book together and then sat down to discuss it. She was thinking (and hoping) that the girls would see how they had been acting and change their ways. Here’s the thing—they saw themselves as being more like Landry and shared with how their other friends had been making them feel like they couldn’t speak up and didn’t have control. In the end, it turned out to be a valuable experience because they got some things off their mind that had been bothering them and they wound up being more open to hearing how their actions had hurt their friend. People often don’t see themselves the way we do. And remember what I said about how hurting people hurt people.
I hope these sessions in True Colors have helped you to see your own friendships in a new light and will help you make good choices, strengthen good relationships, rework some not so great ones, and be strong enough to walk away from the ones that might be hurting you.
I can’t wait to start the next book with you! I’ll post session one for Best Friends…Forever? next week. Read chapter 1-4.
The previous sessions can be found here:
Author of funny, charming, and irresistible dramas.