Spatzle Speaks: Whitney’s Vow Book Review

Mom has been busy getting the garden in and wouldn’t log me on so I could post a review of her very own book! As a dog it’s hard for me to type in the password to her laptop.

Mom told me that her author friend, Loree Lough had posted this photo (on the right here) on Facebook and stated that it looked like the cover of a romance novel. Mom thought Loree should write it but then opted to make the attempt herself.

Whitney’s Vow is the end result. A romantic suspense which is a newer genre for mom although most of her Gothic Regencies have those elements as well as some of her contemporary romances. Her publisher gave it a different cover which I think looks great.

Let me tell you a little about Whitney’s Vow. First of all Whitney was raised in a more affluent household but going to a public college cut her off from the purse strings of her parents and there she met Blake Anderson. They began their marriage on a beach along with four other friends from college.

Fast forward seven years and Whitney stays home at Rebel Falls Ranch in Montana, manages to make quilts, read books, garden and ride horses. Oh, and she’s a crack shot as well. Blake, however, is often gone for stretches of time doing some kind of undercover military operations with his team. Whitney is clueless about those operations, much less the actual day to day of running the ranch or their finances.

All of that comes to a head when she is informed that Blake is dead and that their beloved ranch is being forclosed on. The only way out is with an arranged marriage set up by her father. Whitney doesn’t want to remarry. She’s desolate…and vulnerable.

Blake is not dead and returns home just in time to stop the wedding and together they begin to unravel the lies and deception that brought them to that point. Whitney learns a lot about the ranch, and her husband’s military operations and undergoes a torturous journey to their happily ever after. Whitney becomes a part of the solution instead of a victim and I am happy to state she gets a dog too! (My favorite part!). Of course I’m biased and think you should read this book…but I will warn you, you might not be able to put it down! I give it five bones, because I’m a dog and that’s how I role!

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

Polarization Pollution

Black and white. North Pole vs South Pole. Both examples of polar opposites in our world. We can accept these as valid and real. Interesting how no one wants everything all black or all white – the lack of color is limiting. Grey however is a good neutral ground and acceptable, but even then, it is often, in clothing and decorating added to with pops of color. Grey days are usually gloomy, although some people love them while others prefer the sun. Sun all the time without the darkness of night can be wearying too.

No one lives comfortably at the North or South Poles, or even close to them—they are too cold. And living along the equator is too hot for others so people often live in between either, and even then weather patterns can make life challenging. There is no one “ideal” place to live since the Garden of Eden.

I was pondering all this because of how polarized our culture has become, especially in the United States. Cries of racism and a growing segregation of people of color vs those with less melanin in their skin. But what about those in the grey area? Those of mixed heritage and culture? We are all essentially one race and this is not a “race” issue but a cultural one. What else could we pick on? Are people with blue eyes perceived as superior to those with brown? Or are people with curly hair more frivolous than those with straight? Are people with a higher BMI less valuable than those with less? We can all make judgements based on visual cues that have nothing to do with the reality of our value as image bearers in God’s eyes. I can forget this too sometimes.

I’ve been guessed as Hispanic or Italian based on my appearance, but in reality, I’m in the grey area. My heritage genetically is from a variety of other places but those two aren’t in the mix. I’m a mutt as it were. But I’m also exactly who God created me to be.

Modern medicine has us polarized as well. It has also given us unrealistic expectations, and some have made it their hill to die on. Vaccine or Non-vaccine. That’s it. No colors in between, or are there? Individual choices are questioned and condemned without understanding the other side’s perspective. And it may not even be based on what you think. Cursing someone’s choice however closes the door to understanding.

Or have we made a different judgement? Who controls the power over life and death? Is it Dr.  Fauchi with his ever-changing flip-flopping on things? Or the World health Organization with its own political agenda? Or is it the Centers for Disease Control which also might have underlying precepts that some might disagree with? All led by fallible human beings with their own way of looking at things which, sadly enough, can skew data or the way it is shared to accomplish a particular goal. Trust the numbers, it’s science. Maybe so, but statistics can be flawed if one isn’t careful to see the bigger picture of how the numbers are arrived at. But what do I know? Maybe my professors misled me when they taught me about that kind of thing? They taught me to be critical and discerning…numbers can lie. There is a history of science being skewed…and even wrong.

There are a few other things that concern me…and even I struggle with these. Have we expected too much of modern medicine? Have we made it our idol? Some have made alternative medicine their idol as well. I live in the grey, seeing benefits of both. And neither one can save your life when the LORD of the Universe determines your expiration date.

But something worse happens than physical death in our American society at this present time. It is relational death. The division of people based on superficial constructs—skin color, medical position on vaccines, or political party. (gasp!)

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy. (James 3:17, HCSB)

Maybe right now some of you are perceiving me as that awful pillow or comforter a relative made for you, with clashing colors that make you wince. Maybe so. Muddy waters aren’t pretty either and I’ve stirred the pot a little more.

What I’m really urging is for us to relax. Take a deep breath. Try to understand the perspective of the other side even if you disagree with it. Politics and Covid aside, the reality is we are human beings created for community. Fight against evil! Always. But be careful what you determine as evil. Is it someone who disagrees with your well-researched opinion? Instead of throwing mud at the other person, perhaps sit down, face to face, to find out how the other person came to their perspective, without judgement, argument, or debate. Ask questions, and even if you don’t agree…love them right where they are at.

Kindness and love are better than black and white or even grey on any day.

Writer Wednesday: Richard S. Brown

I am excited to introduce you to another writing in my own family!

Richard S. Brown is my dad’s cousin, which makes him my second cousin. I thought it would be fun to interview him for my blog here. So enjoy meeting Richard!

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

Since I was a freshman in high school, I’ve enjoyed writing. I worked on school newspapers and had dreams of becoming a journalist, but my life took a different direction. I’ve always been interested in history and, over the years, often thought about writing a book, but my work took precedence. However, about twelve years ago, after retiring from a civilian career with the U.S. Army, I no longer had the excuse of too much work. I decided to write and self-publish a memoir that I could leave to my grandchildren. After publishing that memoir, the writing bug grabbed me, and I decided to try my hand at writing fiction. I’ve had two novels published since and am working on a third.

What’s your pet peeve?

 I live across the street from a walking trail, and I walk for exercise almost every day. My biggest peeve—and yes, it’s a pet peeve—is when dog walkers fail to pick up after their dogs. Most walkers are very conscientious about it, but there are those few who apparently never learned what it means to be considerate of others.

What was your most embarrassing moment as a writer?

 My most embarrassing, and potentially costly, moment was when I realized that the photo cover I’d approved for my first novel about the Korean War had been used on at least two other books. Before publication, my publisher invited me to provide ideas for a cover. I found two black and white photos on-line that I determined to be in the public domain, and I forwarded them to the publisher. He selected what I thought was the better photo and used it for the cover with some minor color tinting. I didn’t think the photo had been used before, but after the book came out, I discovered on Amazon two non-fiction books with the identical photo on their covers. I never heard from the authors, or anyone else, about the duplication, and since the photos were in the public domain, I don’t think there would have been any legal issues. Nevertheless, I felt personally embarrassed by a mistake that I will never make again.

What has been your biggest challenge as an author?

Like other authors who have commented on Susan’s blog, I don’t like the marketing aspect of publishing books. I don’t think I’m very good at it, and what makes the task more difficult for an unknown author is the high price the publisher sets for paperback books. E-Books are an easier sell, but there’s a cost involved for on-line advertising. I’m willing to spend some on that as a cost for a hobby that I like, but there’s a definite limit to what I’m willing to spend. Fortunately, I don’t have to depend on royalties for a living.

How do you process rejections and/or negative reviews?

When I started out sending queries to agents and publishers, the rejections were hurtful, because I thought I was a pretty good writer. Then I started taking some creative writing classes on-line, and I joined a writers critique group. I found that I wasn’t as good a writer as I thought. I’ve learned to accept criticism, understanding that my perceptions are limited, and I try to use those criticisms to better my writing. When my first novel was published I received a few negative reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, but I’ve learned to accept the fact that reading is a very subjective matter and that you’re not going to please everyone. There are many books I’ve read that are considered classics or great writing that I wouldn’t give two cents for.

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

Success for me was finding a publisher who would publish my book. If I were writing to make a living, I’d be in the poor house. Fortunately, for me, I’m simply writing for personal enjoyment and satisfaction that there may be a few people who also enjoy reading what I’ve written. I admire those who love to write and commit themselves to writing as a career, knowing that there are so many good writers who never get published or recognized. When I finally found a publisher, I felt, not only that my book was worthwhile, but I was very lucky. In my mind, I compare the search for a publisher like being one of a thousand fishermen dangling lines into a small pond where there are three or four fish. What’s the chance of one of those fish biting on your hook? Not much. I consider myself a decent writer now, but also a very lucky one.

What is your current work in progress?

 I’m working on an historical fiction novel about a family of settlers, the Weavers, who migrate from Ohio to Wisconsin in 1855. A major plot element revolves around the relationships between the native-born white settlers, the white European settlers, and the Native American Indians. It covers the period from 1855 to about 1880.

BIO:

Born in Elgin, Illinois, I moved to Wisconsin at age 8 when my father began working for the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad. After high school, I served in the U.S. Navy for three years, then attended Northern Illinois University where I majored in political science. After completing graduate school at the University of Hawaii, I began a thirty-year civilian career with the U.S. Army working in civilian personnel human resources.  I’m retired now, married with two grown children, and live in Overland Park, Kansas. My most recent publication is a novel set in Wisconsin during the 1950s titled Going off the Rails. It’s about a train engineer falsely convicted of manslaughter for causing a derailment resulting in multiple deaths.

Spatzle Speaks: A Second Chance for Grace (book review)

Romance novel, A Second Chance for Grace, by Karen Malley is a great follow up to her debut book Following the Sparrows. Both take place in the town of Pine Springs so you get a peek at previous characters. I especially liked the first book because there was a dog. This book doesn’t have a dog as a main part of the story. I’m a dog. I’ll survive.

Susan Montgomery is a handy woman, managing her apartment building. When her niece finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, Susan steps in to be a mom to the teenage girl. A mysterious briefcase is discovered in an empty apartment with a unique challenge for Susan to secretly carry out. To top it off, she meets two men who are interested in her. Mac seems just her type and understands her completely, and the other? Well, it’s a mystery as to how well he gets her, but there’s no chemistry

Christopher “Mac” MacAllister was kind of the bad guy in the first book but a near-death experience brought him to God. Now he’s in new territory trying to understand how to be a Christian. Meeting the enchanting Susan makes him doubly glad he chose his new path in life. Except she’s giving him mixed messages. His son is also facing challenges and somehow those interact with Susan as well. And what’s with this new guy?

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

This book is multi-layered and filled with new twists and turns that kept my mom reading. I highly recommend it because I prefer her reading nearby rather than going somewhere or working in her office. I give this book five bones, because I’m a dog, and that’s how I roll.

Spatzle Speaks: An Escape for Ellie (Book Review)

Susan Karsten has released her third and final installment in the Honor’s Point Regency series, An Escape for Ellie. If you’ve enjoyed her series to date, you’ll not want to miss the final installment!

Ellie has been seeking shelter at Honor’s point, avoiding an unwanted engagement, but it seems her location has been discovered so she runs away and right in the carriage of Lord Dare and his sweet aunt.

Without giving away her story, she engages to become a companion to this older woman. She reads stories to her by day and writes them at night because she’s a budding novelist.

Lord Dare, however, is not so sanquine about the new addition to his household. His own love betrayed he struggles to resist the winning and sweet Ellie.

With unspoken secrets on the part of all three, and a devious plot by her parents, adventure lies ahead. Will Ellie and Lord Dare find their way to true love in spite of the obstacles? And when the truth is revealed by everyone, can love prevail?

My mom really enjoyed this series and loved this final installment so you’ll want to get a copy! I give it five bones because I’m a dog, and I don’t have thumbs or do stars.

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

Spatzle Speaks: Love Stumbled In (Book Review)

Love Stumbled In by [Nancy Shew Bolton]

Nancy Shew Bolton has written Love Stumbled In, another amazing historical romance filled with twists and turns that will keep you reading.

Set post-World War 1, the 1920’s are fraught with injury and loss due to a flu epidemic. Carrie is orphaned and has to go live with relatives who are so distant she didn’t really know them. They took her in and soon more deaths followed that home leaving the five brothers (one an adult) to look after their distant cousin.

Carrie struggles with a limp and an unrequited love with one of the boys who ends up leaving. Taking a job in a wealthy home to care for a disabled young woman, she finds herself struggling with broken dreams and and just what she wants to do with her life.

This is a wonderful piece of fiction and takes you back to a time when things were simpler but not so much when it comes to the human condition. My mom had a hard time putting this book down so you’re going to want to read it too! I give it five bones!

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

Spatzle Speaks: Following the Sparrows (Book Review)

My mom met a new author, Karen Malley, last year and discovered she has a fabulous skill for story-telling. She was late posting this because we adopted another old dog (I’m not THAT old). Benji’s been keeping us busier than usual! So here is Following the Sparrows by Karen Malley!

Kathryn Baker has a secret. Not even her husband knows but it’s been a struggle for them both. When her husband is killed in a tragic accident she works even harder hoping to make up for the sins of her past. A handsome stranger challenges everything she thought was true.

Adam Harrison has his own past to overcome but he’s clinging to Jesus and waiting for Him to reveal Adam’s purpose. Maybe it’s to help Katheryn to know God? But what if he falls in love with her? When will she share her dark secret?

Adam and Kathryn grow closer. A puppy dog, an accident, and a crisis of faith all complicate things and makes this a book you’ll want to keep reading. The great news is it is the first in a series of three books!

You won’t want to miss this one! I give it five bones, because I’m a dog and that’s how I roll!

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

Spatzle Speaks: Patriot’s Courage (Book Review)

If you like historical novels Patriot’s Courage by Penelope Marzec might be one you would enjoy. Although there are no dogs in it, my mom seemed to like the story very much.

Ryan McGown has lost his brother in an Indian rampage and vows to kill every Indian can. His views are challenged by his belief in God and a beautiful, independent young woman who has lived with them.

Màxkchulëns was adopted by the Lenape at four years of age. She has adapted to life as an Indian in spite of her red hair and white skin. When here husband is killed in battle she is captured and brought to the fort where Ryan is commanded to teach her English. Raw grief and a longing for her home war with attraction to the young soldier.

Ryan is equally attracted but his faith is challenged when he discovers Màxkchulëns, also called Red Bird, is with child. A Lenape child.

Red Bird struggles to understand English and the faith of her parents from long ago as Ryan instructs her. What is grace? How can she understand this? Life gets confusing for her when once again her white heritage clashes with her Indian upbringing.

I don’t want to give any spoilers away but Penelope Marzec weaves tale full of twists and turns and you won’t want to miss any of it! I give this book five bones, becuase I’m a dog and I don’t have thumbs.

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

Writer Wednesday: LoRee Peery

Please welcome author LoRee Peery to Writer Wednesday!

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

Back in the mid-80s we were on I-80 in western Nebraska, driving back from vacation. I slapped a magazine on my lap and spouted, “I could write better than this.” My husband challenged, “Why don’t you?”

The Lord wouldn’t let me put that out of my head. I started with short magazine romances. So pitiful, I submitted them without rewrites. I tried different things, piled up rejections, and learned as much as I could. I didn’t get the call until going through three editors in 2009-2010. I have learned notebooks full and gathered more cyber friends than I could have ever imagined. And I can’t forget the blessings!

What’s your pet peeve?

I’m sure they’ve changed over the years. I was always good at English grammar and worked as a proofreader/editorial assistant for 20 years.

I remember someone using sense for since. The irksome it’s / its.

Transposed ending punctuation, as in quotation marks before the period.

There had to have been many, but I must have overcome the bothersomeness (made-up words are not a pet peeve).

Right now the words after, before, and when signal passive writing to me, indicating that the order is backwards. If any of my sentences start with those words, they’ve come from someone else.

What was your most embarrassing moment as a writer?

Oh, boy. I remember sending off for some kind of journal kits, those were the days before the Internet. I probably read something in a Writer’s Style Manual. Oh, it just came to me. They were called press kits. I later pictured whoever opened those requests roaring and/or shaking heads over my stupidity.

What has been your most difficult challenge as an author?

Voicing the mechanics of story. I’ve heard all the terms, and understand them. But if someone asks me to describe my character’s journey with plot pinches and turning points, I go “duh.” For a while there was psychology of character as in taking some kind of test for those made-up people and incorporating that into story. I’m sorry, but that stuff just goes over my head. I’m all for simple, though my characters meet tough real-life situations, and they somehow grow, overcome, and change. As in life, they can’t do those things without the Lord.

How do you process rejections and/or negative reviews?

It’s been a while since I received actual rejections. My White Rose Publishing editor has asked for rewrites. She didn’t care for the heroine of one of my upcoming releases, so I changed her backstory and motivation. A reader’s comment from my first Christmas story bothered me for a long time. This person didn’t like that I referenced God, yet one of the main characters worked in a bar. (She or he obviously doesn’t know that in small-town Nebraska, many restaurants are housed in the town tavern.)

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

How does a person measure success? It sure isn’t money for me, or a number of sales. I always think of the words from my publisher’s editor-in-chief. My calling as a writer is just as legitimate if I never make a dime. This call to write is a sacred invitation. A soul is a good return for my writing investment.”

I’ve had highlights. Finally, after decades of writing on the topic, I self-published the story that haunted me, based on my father’s unsolved homicide. I solved the crime in fiction. Once Touches of Time released, peace concerning the event filled my soul.

I petulantly mentioned to a writer friend that I felt left out that no other author had invited me to be part of a boxed set for release on Amazon. Within a few months, I received an invitation and couldn’t be more tickled to have been asked to take part again.

What is your current work-in-progress?

I’m waiting for a critique partner to return my Christmas Extravaganza story. I’ll edit it and submit by the end of April. Here’s what I call my 40 working words for “A Cup of Christmas Kindness”: Violet returns home. Her twelve days of kind Christmas deeds to help Heath through his grief instead churns bitterness. His daughter is intrigued by the Advent tributes, grows close to Violet, and seeks to draw the old lovers back together.

The title and setting are clear for my next story, but at this time, that’s all I know. Brainstorming will kick in soon.

Thank you, Susan, for letting me visit on Writer Wednesday.

Bio:

Nebraska country girl LoRee Peery writes fiction that hopefully appeals to adult readers who enjoy stories written from a Christian perspective, focusing on the romance. These include novels and novellas for women and men in the Contemporary, Rom

 

ance, Historical, Time Travel, and Mystery/Suspense categories. She writes of redeeming grace with a sense of place. Her Frivolities Series and the book based on her father’s unsolved homicide, Touches of Time, are available on Amazon. She is who she is by the grace of God: Christian, country girl, wife, mother, grandmother and great-, sister, friend, and author. Connect with LoRee through this Website: www.loreepeery.com

Twitter https://twitter.com/LoreePeery

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LoReePeery

Pelican Book Group http://tinyurl.com/kwz9enk

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/LoRee-Peery/e/B004UAGL2W/ref

Latest book release:

Repurposed     https://www.amazon.com/dp/B086J2QDQF?ref

Writer Wednesday: Barbara Britton

Please welcome author Barabar Britton to my blog. I’ve known Barbara for a few years as we attended a writing group together. She is also published by the Pelican Book Group, the publishing house I work for and publish my own work through. 

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

I had no idea that I would become an author later in life. When I was younger, no one mentioned being an author as a career choice. I enjoyed my creative writing class in high school, but the teacher never encouraged me to go further with my storytelling.

Many years later, I was teaching chapel to elementary students at my children’s school. Every week, I would create or mold curriculum to teach the Bible to my students. When I prayed for “creativity” to help me put all my lessons together, I received a prompting to write stories. Eight years later, my fourth story sold to a publisher and wouldn’t you know, it was a take-off of a Bible story.

What’s your pet peeve?

At home, my pet peeve is when people leave their dishes where they finished eating. The dishwasher might only be a step away. When I was pre-published, I avoided telling people that I was a writer because the first question that came out of their mouth was, “Are you published?” It is very difficult to be traditionally published and many readers do not understand the years of rejection it takes to receive a “Yes” from a publisher. Writers need all the encouragement they can get.

What was your most embarrassing moment as a writer?

 I don’t know if it’s embarrassing, but it sure is interesting to gauge people’s reaction when I say that I write Biblical Fiction. I’ve heard:

-my grandmother reads that.

-the sound of footsteps fleeing my table.

-isn’t that a tad redundant? (I didn’t think that was funny, but it was said by an atheist)

 What has been your most difficult challenge as an author?

Marketing consumes a lot of my author time. Authors have been delegated most of the marketing and discoverability aspects of their career. What once was done by a publisher is now done by the author. I am not a tech savvy person, so I have had a big learning curve since my first book debuted. Once you figure out a system, everything changes in the cyber world.

How do you process rejections and/or negative reviews?

Rejections are part of writing. They aren’t fun, but I amassed over 200 rejections before I sold my first manuscript. Negative reviews hurt my feelings—for an instant—and then you have to let them go. I bathe my writing in prayer and I have a Christian publisher, so I am comfortable with my stories. Not every story is for every reader. You never know what a reader is going through in their life. Sometimes a story can be too real for them to read, or it’s simply not their genre or story trope.

 What is your current work in progress?

I am working on another Bible story, but the daughters of Zelophehad have one more book to go before they claim their land. “Claiming Canaan: Milcah’s Journey” will release in April. I have a Historical debuting in June. If you liked “Me Before You” but disliked the ending, then you will like “Until June.”

Bio:

Barbara M. Britton lives in Southeast Wisconsin and loves the snow—when it accumulates under three inches. She is published in Biblical fiction and enjoys bringing little-known Bible characters to light in her stories. Barb is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Romance Writers of America and Wisconsin Romance Writers of America. Barb has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate.

Website: http://www.barbarambritton.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BarbaraMBritton

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Barbara-M-Britton-173432342754243/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard

Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Barbara-M.-Britton/e/B01C800ADG/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

 

Latest book release: “Heavenly Lights: Noah’s Journey.”

Book blurb:

Noah bat Zelophehad might have broken tradition by being able to inherit her father’s land, but her heart’s desire is to have the finest herds in all of Israel, something an orphaned and unmarried woman has never achieved.

Jeremiah ben Abishua cannot speak, nor hear. God has made his thoughts captive to his mind. But he can communicate with one shepherdess, a woman who sees his skill with animals and treats him like a man worthy of respect.

When their people disobey God and incur his wrath, Noah and Jeremiah must overcome tragedy in order to change perceptions in the tribes of Israel. Will their kinship desire to care for one another and the four-legged creatures God has placed in their care, be able to flourish in a land filled with enemies of the One True God?

God gave Noah bat Zelophehad four sisters, a way with four-legged creatures, and a strong spirit. She will need all three gifts to thrive in the Promised Land of God and find love with a special shepherd.