Spatzle Speaks: Christmas Extravaganza Novellas (Book Reviews)

My mom was out of commission with shoulder surgery for a few months and in spite of my name on this part of her blog, I still can’t type. I find it appropriate that I give you a few books in one post to celebrate Christmas.  These three novels seemed like a great place to start.

Christmas Passed by Anita Klumpers is the first novella, a bit of a Christmas mystery. Dinah is slated to do the promotional photos of a 1930’s home in Milwaukee decked out for Christmas. She runs into the boy-now-a-man, Mick comes back to annoy her and become her partner in figuring out why bad things keep happening… and why there are strange ornaments in the attic as well as other surprises. There is a dog in this story too which of course, I liked. Not sure how a dog can be that well-trained but I feel sorry for it. Ms. Klumpers assembles a colorful cast of characters and surprises for the reader in this fun Christmas story so I recommend it with five bones.

 

Meow Mistletoe by Lisa L. Lickel is another Christmas mystery that also serves as a prequel to a series of books due to release next year. Ivy is at the Christmas party for the Cat Association Titlist group when a cat goes missing and she attempts to help find the feline. I may be a dog but I love cats. They are fun to chase. I won’t tell you what all happens but there is a puzzle to be solved and it’s a fun journey with a smattering of romance sprinkled in. Definitely another five bones from me. 

 

The Doctor’s Daughter by Susan M. Baganz was written by my mom and she took a character from her Black Diamond Regency series, Dr. Bruce Miller and gave him a romance. Silvia’s father died and was the doctor who trained Bruce. She arrives at the home of SIr Michael & Katrina Tidley and hopes to rekindle a past romance with the good doctor. Obstacles and illness emerge to thwart them on their journey to love. This is another book I enjoyed even though she failed to include any animals beyond carriage horses in her story.  Another five bones.

All three of these novellas make a great holiday read, cozied up warm in your favorite chair. They are only available in e-book formats. I give them all five bones, because I’m a dog and I don’t have thumbs.

 

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

 

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Writer Wednesday: Linda Yezak

Welcome to my writer friend, Linda Yezak!

When did you decide that you would be an author? Was it something you fell into, felt called to…?

Like most authors, I’ve been writing since I gained dexterity with a crayon. When I was in college, one of my professors tried to talk me into pursuing it as a career, and considering how much the industry has changed just since I’ve joined in, I wish I had. But I didn’t take up writing seriously until I was in my fifties. Frankly, I don’t see how anyone younger would have the time, but apparently, they do. Anyway, after a long series of events that kept me from working outside the home, I needed something to do, and writing turned out to be it.

What’s your pet peeve?

Depends on what we’re talking about. As an author, my biggest peeve is robo-calls that draw me away from my work.

As a reader/editor, it’s characters who cry all the time, as if tears are the only way to react to emotion.

As a human being with a driver’s license, it’s the idiots on the road who don’t respect other drivers. The ones who wait until they can see your eye color before pulling out in front of you, or the ones who ride your bumper as if pushing you is gonna make the guy in front of you go faster.

Well, oops. I think we hit a nerve. Moving on . . .

What was your most embarrassing moment as a writer?

There are so many. So very many. But I think one of the worst was at an ACFW conference. I was sitting in a continuing ed class held by Susan May Warren and someone else—just me, the instructors, and 40 or 50 other people, and my new cell phone that I thought I’d muted.

This was the first year that we’d met in Indianapolis, and my husband and a friend’s husband were checking out the city.

Just as the class started, my phone rang. Loud. I fumbled with that stupid thing I wasn’t yet familiar with, trying to figure out how to answer it or turn it down or something. My face got so hot, the folks around me were slipping off their sweaters because of the radiated heat.

Eventually, I turned it off, or thought I did because it quit ringing, and the class resumed. An instant later, here we go again—and I still couldn’t figure out what to do. I was about to lower it to the floor and drive my heel through it when it finally stopped.

The third time, I gave up. I grabbed all my stuff and the stupid phone and left the classroom. I finally figured out how to answer the call. It was my sweet Billy (aka MSB) asking if I wanted to go to a Colts game.

He’s so cute.

What has been your most difficult challenge as an author?

At this point, marketing, promo, and sales. I have a social media presence, but I’m not organized enough to do all of it and do it well. I need a secretary.

How do you process rejections and/or negative reviews?

I do what everyone else does—I slam a few cabinets, then curl up in a fetal position with my blankie and suck my thumb. For a while. Then I look to see if the review or rejection explanation (when they bother to explain) has merit, learn from it and move on.

But negative reviews don’t really bother me. I don’t get that many. Most are from people who didn’t realize they were getting a Christian novel and felt obligated to bash me and/or my work. That’s fine. The ones that get me are written by those who do read Christian fiction. Some remarks were mean-spirited. I expect this from the world, but I’d hoped Christians would try harder not to be hurtful.

What do you feel is the best success so far in your writing career?

So far, gaining an honorable mention in Saturday Evening Post’s Great American Fiction contest in 2016. They published my “Slider” in their anthology that year.

What would be your top three pieces of advice to newer, up-and-coming authors?

Study the craft.

Treat this as a business.

Build your platform—even if you haven’t written your first word.

What is your current work in process?

Loving a Harvey Girl, a novella for Smitten’s Cowboys Collection to release inAugust  2019. The Harvey Girls worked in a hotel/restaurant chain started by Fred Harvey back in the late 19th century. These ladies were educated and refined and, thanks to their jobs at the Harvey House Restaurants all across the nation, were independent in an era when most women weren’t allowed to be. I’ve had a blast writing it. Can’t wait for the release!

 

Ride to the Altar, a Circle Bar Ranch novel (book 3)—Patricia Talbert and Talon Carlson must conquer their pasts individually before they can face their future together.

Linda is offering a giveaway prize to one lucky entrant! As pictured, the prize includes a signed print version of the series, a 16-ounce Christian cowboy mug, a horseshoe picture frame, a Ph. 4:13 stretch bracelet, a cute set of magnetic page markers, and a Texas Rubiks cube just for fun. All you have to do to enter is to leave a comment.

The more posts you comment on during my tour, the better the chance you have of winning the drawing! If you’d like to play along, the next blog to check is author Cathy Rueter’s Up in the Attic.

The winner will be announced Monday, August 6, on Linda’s blog, 777 Peppermint Place.

Bio:

Linda W. Yezak lives with her husband and their funky feline, PB, in a forest in deep East Texas, where tall tales abound and exaggeration is an art form. She has a deep and abiding love for her Lord, her family, and salted caramel. And coffee—with a caramel creamer. Author of award-winning books and short stories, she didn’t begin writing professionally until she turned fifty. Taking on a new career every half century is a good thing.

Website: http://lindawyezak.com

Newsletter: http://dld.bz/CoffeewithLinda

Facebook: Author Page

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lyezak/

Twitter: @LindaYezak

Amazon Page: http://dld.bz/LWYAmazonPage

Goodreads: Linda W Yezak

Latest book release:

 

 

Shake It, Baby!

I’m having surgery on my shoulder this week on August 2nd. The most often asked question I get is “how did you injure yourself?” So I finally decided to tell the story here. In reality, it is equal parts funny and sad.

It all started last year when I was on a worship team. I sang backup and played tambourine. I confess I was trying to avoid hitting my hand because I have arthritis in my thumb and didn’t want to make it worse. I didn’t want to hit my thigh because it inevitably ends with a bruise. So all the action for that tambourine was done with my elbow. The result was tendonitis in that joint. I had to wait a few months to get therapy for that due to insurance changes. By then scar tissue had developed. Ugh. But it was getting better.

Until a different physical therapist cared for me one day. He decided to test my rotator cuff.  Now, this is not a bad thing as a shoulder issue could have contributed to my injury. This guy was stronger than he realized, and when he jerked my arm up into the air, I had instant pain that was new. And it didn’t go away. A cortisone shot and 28 physical therapy appointments and almost a year later: no improvement. The good news is my tendonitis resolved. I had so wanted to avoid surgery but I returned to my doctor.

When I was on the table to have a needle stuck in for the contrast part of the X-rays and MRI – I told the radiologist my story. He said “Tambourines are dangerous. We get that a lot.” He was joking. “If you get this fixed then you can play tambourine again!” Hmmm. Not sure about that but it is fun to do.

An MRI showed a labrum tear and possible torn rotator cuff. The surgeon won’t know until he gets in there, but that is the only cure at this point. My clavicle needs some shortening too as it is impinging on a joint. Wow, such a mess.

So, surgery and an unknown recovery. I am allergic to most pain meds too. Maybe I’ll just have to study this video as Tim Kubart (aka Tambourine Man) seems to have a good grasp on how to play the instrument with panache. Are there lessons I can take on safely playing this instrument?

So I offer this all to you as a cautionary tale. Don’t be like Susan. Play the tambourine responsibly. 

That Bites!

On a beautiful Monday, May morning. 6:50 a.m., I took my dog, Spatzle, a Maltese mix, out to do his “business.” We headed down the driveway to the front yard when I heard excited yapping. A rat terrier was charging us from across the street. He had broken his tie-out leash. I picked Spatzle up because he was raring for a fight. I headed back up the driveway to the back deck. The Rat terrier bit me in the calf, and then followed me, yipping all the way.  I didn’t run but I was stunned by the audacity of this little animal. He didn’t come up the stairs to our back door. I might have had to kick him if he’d tried to follow us into the house.

I managed to get into the house. I checked my leg. Nasty bruise and four puncture wounds – even though I wore pants. I headed out the front door to try to find the dog and his owner.

I went to talk to her. She’d been in the house. The dog had been out alone. I showed her the bite and told her I was going to go to Urgent Care.

I went to the clinic. I was traveling to Colorado the next morning so I requested an antibiotic just to be safe because the doctor didn’t want to give me one. I prevailed. I got my tetanus shot because it was overdue. The police were called.

I joke that calling the police on your neighbors is the best way to get to know them. Seriously, this is the second time in seven years that the police were called on a neighbor and it provided an opportunity to interact in a favorable way!  We had a pleasant conversation.

A police report was filed. She had a hefty fine to pay. I warned my kids that as much as I adore our dog, if he bit someone unprovoked like that, I’d be putting him down. I cannot afford a dog like that. Her fine was over $400! My insurance will be going after her renter’s insurance for the payment of my medical bills. Her dog was given a 10-day quarantine.

I thought that was the end of it. Then I got a notice for a restitution hearing and had to go online to see what the statutes are regarding this kind of thing. Apparently, not only is she liable for my medical bills but because the dog has bitten before, she has to appear in court (and I’m invited). According to the law, if the dog has bitten before: “The owner of a dog shall forfeit not less than $200 nor more than $5,000 if the dog injures or causes injury to a person…” (Wisconsin State Statute 174.02). This is not about reimbursing medical expenses.

Yikes!

Oh, and the judge can determine if the dog is to be put down. Kind of implied that this is the way things will go since the dog has bitten twice.

I will have a permanent scar. Not a big deal. Thankfully it was my calf and not my hand. Thankfully my daughter wasn’t the one to take the dog out. She might not have been able to rescue our dog and her injuries could have been far worse (physically and psychologically).

So that’s my dog bite adventure. Never a dull moment in my world.

 

Dream Chaser

It has been some time since I’ve written here and I wish I could give you some grand excuses as to why. Life has been busy and to be honest, I don’t want to write something just to have a post unless I believe I have something of value to say. If I think long and hard I could probably come up with things, but as a single mom of three Hobbits (that’s what I call my teenagers), life gets crazy at times.

I often use my rare profundity in my real-life, face-to-face interactions with people, whether my friends, or those I meet at conferences when I go to speak, teach, and encourage. 

I admit that life is a challenge at times too.

Depression is an old friend who comes to visit when I least expect, uninvited and unwanted. 

I’m heading into shoulder surgery in a few weeks and that has me a bit scared. Not of the surgery itself, but of the recovery as I am unable to take most pain medications.

I will survive somehow. By God’s grace, I always do. 

I took this photograph in May when I traveled to Colorado. This is south of Pike’s Peak and it was a stunning sight to see I couldn’t help but try to take a picture.

Seeing this display of God’s glory was breathtaking. The mountains, the people I met, the chance to be in a new environment and watch what God would do, was inspiring. 

I realized something very striking.

I live my life too small.

My characters in my novels much more readily go above and beyond in their adventure in living. But not me. I sit behind a keyboard and fabricate stories that hopefully share God’s truths to the reader while entertaining them. Not a bad job by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a lot of hard work for little gain.

That sounds so negative, doesn’t it? Maybe I should clarify that is monetary gain.

God continues to provide for the needs of my family. And sometimes our wants. I get to travel periodically and meet amazing people on my journeys. That’s bigger than the life I used to live by far. And the future holds more promise of the same.

I’ve been challenged recently to dream. To think beyond my daily needs to greater things God might want to do in and through me. What’s surprising is I want to do what I’m doing. I get to write. What an honor to be able to do that. it’s not a smart career move financially but it’s a calling that God has honored. It is hard work. Not all of it is fun by any stretch of the imagination. And I ashamedly get so busy with writing and editing that I sometimes forget that I have a book to promote. Shameful, I know!

But I do want to do so much more than that and not surprisingly it’s not about making money.

It’s about having more opportunities to serve others, encourage them, and watch them dream wilder and bigger.

So I’m praying and have been challenged to dream bigger.

To stretch my imagination with “What if’s” and do things that might help me get there. It means stepping out of my comfort zone. Trying new things even if they scare me…like internet dating!

It means I might fail. I want to be responsible. I have three young people counting on me to be there for them. It might hurt (surgery).

It might mean letting go of some things to make room for better ones. 

So what are your dreams that you’ve been afraid to dream? Can you trust God with those and seek His guidance in reaching for them? If you struggle with depression it can be hard to dream of bigger and better things…but when I look at that photo of the mountains, I’m reminded we have a BIG GOD who can do amazingly, abundantly, more than we could ever think to ask. So I’m seeking Him as I lean into the future and I challenge you to do the same.

What are some of YOUR dreams?

Spatzle Speaks: Lord Harrow’s Heart (Book Review)

Spatzle here. Mom’s Maltese who she’s tricked into writing these reviews. I’ve been slacking off and not posting as much lately. Mom says it’s because I’m getting older. But not too old to enjoy her latest novel in the Black Diamond Gothic Regency series. Book #4, Lord Harrow’s Heart, releases today and I’m excited about that.

Lord Theodore Harrow has watched all his friends fall in love and marry. Kind of the papa bear of the group, he’s been a faithful friend through all their adventures. Now he wants a woman of his own but he longs for someone who wants him – not just his title or wealth. He’s not quite as dashing as his friends, but he’s one of those solid good guys. So when he runs over a young woman who is supervising a nasty child, he is instantly smitten by her.

Valeria is not so easily wooed. She is in service although Theodore can tell she’s not of the servant class. She’s also distinctly French in her heritage and language. And to top it off, she has a child. The last thing she wants is to be noticed by anyone as she is in hiding from her evil father-in-law. Being injured in a carriage accident and meeting Lord Harrow was not something she was prepared to deal with.

Theo is not so easily put off and Valeria finds herself surrounded by him and his friends as she encounters a mother’s worst nightmare. Someone has kidnapped her son. But to retrieve the boy could cost Theo and his friends much more than a few days travel as they encounter and meet face to face, the Black Diamond himself.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

If you’ve been reading the series and wondering who the Black Diamond is – this is the story where he is finally revealed. Come on, Mom. Why did you make us wait this long? Such a tease.

There is a kitten in the story. I like cats a lot so those parts were great for me. Mom won’t let me have a cat because she’s allergic to them. I guess having one in a book is a passable substitute.

Adventure, romance, intrigue, danger all set against the backdrop of the early 1800’s in Regency England. This story will not disappoint. I give it five bones, because I’m a dog and I don’t have thumbs.

 

 

Writer Wednesday: Peter Lundell

I met Peter Lundell at the Denver International Airport on a trip to Colorado a few years back. We had to find each other, having never met before, and then, in the midst of construction, somehow try to figure out which level we were to find our ride on. It could have been a scene from a sit-com and is a fond memory. We reconnected this past spring in Colorado without the airport adventure. I invited him to be on my blog because that’s what you do to great authors who have come into your life, and with whom you’ve shared an adventure and some laughs. So please meet my friend, Peter Lundell, a great guy, a fabulous author, and an inspiring preacher.

When did you decide that you would be an author? Was it something you fell into, felt called to… ?

When I was in junior high I grew enamored with Ernest Hemingway’s short stories and wanted to write like him.

What’s your pet peeve?

Lack of clarity. When people are vague in communication; when people circumvent a point at hand, whether out of evasiveness or dull-wittedness.

What was your most embarrassing moment as a writer?

My first attempt at ghostwriting with a mega-millionaire and my old crappy laptop would hardly work. I felt like a fool and an amateur. And I lost him.

What has been your most difficult challenge as an author?

Selling the books I write. A.K.A. building a platform and marketing effectively.

How do you process rejections and/or negative reviews?

I get momentarily depressed and go for a walk. I may do some work around my home or church property. Then I go back to writing.

What do you feel is the best success so far in your writing career?

My highest-selling book has been Prayer Power. Probably my most consistent success has been in ghostwriting, rewriting, coaching, and substantive editing. I help others communicate their story or message well to influence audiences I would otherwise not reach.

What would be your top three pieces of advice to newer, up-and-coming authors?

  1. Learn and work hard to write well. You’re not as good as you think you are. And if you are good, then work even harder to be the best. Do not neglect this. The world is awash with crappy writing by authors who refuse to acknowledge their crappiness.
  2. Learn and work hard to be professional. This includes the mechanics of your writing, your interaction with others in the publishing world, the way you present yourself and conduct yourself in all interactions.
  3. Read and always continue to grow. If you think you’ve arrived, you begin to stagnate.

As a Christian author, what would you like your legacy to be?

I want there to be thousands of people whose lives have been eternally changed because of something I’ve written or written for someone else with an important message.

What is your current work in process?

The Sailboat and the Sea, a conversation between a sailboat and the ocean. LittleBoat’s journey with BigSea is a representation of the reader’s own life as it relates to God and the big issues we all face.

Wind, a novel, the story of pursuing a dream, the conflict of dreams that collide, and the price a person is willing to pay.

Links to social media:

www.PeterLundell.com

www.Facebook.com/pnlundell

Latest book release:

Reprint of Prayer Power: 30 Days to a Stronger Connection with God