Spatzle Speaks: Evidence Not Seen (Book Review)

This fabulous tell of mystery and family secrets by Carlene Havel is a great addition to the “Love is . . .” series by Prism Book Group. Evidence Not Seen beautifully illustrates “love keeps no record of wrongs.”

Jeff Galloway grew up with his father in prison and his mom single-handedly raising him. A grown man and a successful attorney he comes to a crossroads when his girlfriend dumps him for greater fortunes in another town. A chance encounter brings Melanie Clark into his path and the soft-hearted social worker stretches his faith in fresh ways while helping come to grips with the past as his father is released from prison.

Did his father commit the crime? if he is as innocent his mother claims, why would he go to prison for it? Where was the proof? As he investigates he is forced to learn to let go of the past as he realizes the truth of all that happened 27 years ago and start afresh to learn the integrity of the father he’d long disdained.

This story looks at our own perceptions and beliefs and the associated emotions that can knock us off stride and away from truth–and love. Melanie becomes a force to help him realize the truth and let go of the past, and forgive. This beautifully told story deserves five bones. I’m a dog. I don’t do stars.

5 bones for blog

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

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

Spatzle Speaks: Through Raging Waters (Book Review)

RagingWaters copyRenee Blare has done it again with a fast paced romantic suspense that will be hard to put down. The last we left the Snowy Range Chronicles, in To Soar on Eagle Wings, Steve Mitchell had married Rachel Fitzgerald. Now a new adventure hits the area featuring Rachel’s best friend as her brother who his also Steve’s best friend. And life is going to get rough in Through Raging Waters.

Mother nature is doing her best to wash out the town of  Timber Springs and Ranger Steve Mitchell is going to do everything he  can to prevent that. Obstacles continue to rise and when his father-in-law suffers a heart attack in the middle of he storm he calls on his best friend, and son of the pastor, Paul Fitzgerald to assist. Unfortunately Paul is going to be need for even more than saving his dad’s life.

As the flood continues to escalate wiping out everything in its path and the storms keep coming, Steve calls on Paul and others to a rescue mission in the mountains. Paul hasn’t done any of that since a disaster traumatized him in his past but he steps up and his controlled life is slowly eroded in the process. He’s only just started to open his heart to love again with Melissa but is forced to set that aside to do the head into danger. Getting injured and relying on his annoying brother wasn’t part of his plan, but maybe that’s just what God needed to use to get through to his heart and faith locked away deep inside.

Melissa Hampton has been battling on several fronts: her mysterious beginnings being discovered in her mother’s keepsakes, her budding affection for the enigmatic pharmacist, brother to her best friend, Paul and the challenges of working for BJ Parker. When BJ is in danger she tries to find him only to realize the one who is really in trouble is Paul. She realizes she has more courage than she expected when forced into challenging circumstances to save the man she loves.

The best part of the story is that Paul has a dog. Yup. A great dog. They call it a therapy dog but hey, aren’t all dogs therapeutic? I think that’s what I am to my mom. So because it’s a non-stop action-packed novel filled with faith and love, I’ll give it five bones. I’m a dog. I don’t do stars.

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

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

 

 

5 bones for blog

 

Writer Wednesday: Linda Yezak

Linda 2010Linda Yezak has become a friend made through social media who has been gracious in helping me with my own book promotions. It is with delight that I interview her for my blog and she’s offering to do a drawing for a copy of her latest novel, The Final Ride as well! Someday I’m going to enjoy meeting the resident of 777 Peppermint Place in person and it will be so much fun. Enjoy getting to know Linda and her journey as an author.

When did you decide that you would be an author? Was it something you fell into, felt called to… ?
I’ve always enjoyed writing, but when my husband and I moved from our hometown, I took it up again. I didn’t get serious about it until I actually typed “the end” on my first (awful) novel. I got so excited–and knew absolutely nothing about the business–that I sent the manuscript to a publisher without letting anyone who knows anything about writing read it. By the time I got their inevitable rejection letter, I was hooked on writing, and decided to take it far more seriously.

What’s your pet peeve?
Drivers who see me coming at them on the highway at 75 mph and pull out in front of me anyway. There’s gotta be a special kind of punishment for them.

What was your most embarrassing moment as a writer?
When I discovered Google Alert the hard way. Not once, but twice. The first time is a two-parter, when I critiqued William Brohaugh’s Write Tight. I included a comment that sometimes we have to rely on the reader’s common sense. The reader can probably figure things out without us having to be so particular about how we write them. He responded. Who knew he’d even find my measly post on a blog that is just one kazoo in a zillion-piece orchestra?

Then I responded to him, not expecting to hear from him again, and he responded to that.

But that was a good experience. The second was a huge faux pas on my part, and I still kick myself for it.
I’d landed an agent. I was so excited, I was cartwheeling. We just needed to make the deal official with a contract, but I was finally an agented author.

Problem was, at the time, I didn’t know much about hiring an agent. Mike Hyatt had a post about predator agents and he wrote a list of questions to ask. I wrote a post on my own blog, telling about my experience with getting this new agent and how I felt uncertain of myself because of what Mike had written. I said something along the lines of “I don’t even know this woman.”

Well, “this woman” found the post and got offended, not that I blame her. Bye-bye agent.
Since then, I’ve been far more careful.

What has been your most difficult challenge as an author?
Learning the business end of the business–promotions, marketing, the algorithms that make the system crank my books higher in visibility. I spent so much time polishing my craft, that I neglected all this. I hate discovering how many things I’ve done wrong. Sigh.

GiveTheLadyARide_2016 KindleHow do you process rejections and/or negative reviews?
I blow them off. People have their opinions. One lady wrote that she didn’t like the way my character in Give the Lady a Ride took the knee and bowed to God after his bull rides. She said it was too Tim Tebow-ish. Problem is, cowboys have been doing that since long before Tebow was known. Probably before he was born. Another wrote that my story bored her. She’s pretty much alone in the reviews on that one. Another couple of reviews on different books were spot-on, so I can’t complain about them.

More often than not, however, I get really good reviews, so the bad ones I get don’t bother me.

What do you feel is the best success so far in your writing career?
Winning an honorable mention in the Saturday Evening Posts “Great Fiction” contest. I didn’t get anything for it other than to be published in their 2016 digital anthology of the 2015 winners. Still, it definitely lands in the plus column.

What would be your top three pieces of advice to newer, up and coming authors?
Take a moment to sit down and evaluate what all this business requires–aside from writing great books–and set goals. Then determine a game plan to meet those goals. This applies whether you want to go indie or the traditional route. Even though others may take care of some of the business details in traditional publishing, you should still have enough knowledge and savvy to know whether you’re getting treated fairly. Of course, if you’re indie, it’s all on your shoulders. The more you know, the more successful you’ll be.

Network with as many people as you can in this industry. I’ve been so fortunate in my years to be able to swap favors and reviews with book cover designers, editors, promo specialists, critique partners, beta readers.

Study the craft. Study and learn from other authors and write, write, write.

As a Christian author, what would you like your legacy to be?
I want my readers to understand that no matter how far they stray from their God, he is faithful and just to forgive. I see my audience not just as women of a certain age who like romantic comedy and such, but also a subset of those women who need to know it’s okay to come home, back to the fold. God isn’t a grudge-holder.

What is your current work in process?
My current WIP is Skydiving to Love, a novella I’m writing to add to a set of romance novellas some friends and I are doing together. We had a wonderful idea: Four friends, facing their thirtieth birthdays, dare each other to do the wildest thing on their bucket list. Each story is about what the author’s character chose from her list and how she goes about fulfilling it. It’s going to be fun. We just got our fourth writer recently, so we’re hoping for a fall publication.

cover proof

Leave a comment below and sign up for her newsletter, and she’ll draw a winner for a free copy of The Final Ride from those who sign up.

Links to social media:
Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/GivetheLadyaRide
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lyezak/
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/LindaYezak
Goodreads: http://dld.bz/dSPmg
777 Peppermint Place: http://lindayezak.com
Newsletter: http://dld.bz/CoffeewithLinda
Amazon: http://dld.bz/LindaWYezakAmazon

Back cover copy for The Final Ride:
With her duties for her best friend’s wedding finally behind her, Patricia Talbert looks forward to discovering what “normal” will look like at her new home in Texas. She owns a ranch, is in love with its foreman, and is ready to assume her duties. Discovering what those duties entail isn’t an easy feat for a displaced socialite from Manhattan. But when her aunt Adele arrives on a mission to bring her back to New York, Patricia’s primary duty is to deflect the bumbling and bullish attempts–until one of Adele’s tricks takes her by surprise.

All of Talon Carlson’s dreams for the Circle Bar Ranch are coming true, along with another dream he never expected to be fulfilled–a chance to love again. Patricia is everything he ever wanted and more, but he made a promise to her not to ride bulls again, a promise he may have to break. His desire for a better end to his riding career is intensified by vicious rumors about why he quit. If he rides again, he will provide the ammunition Adele needs to make Patricia leave. If he doesn’t, he’ll prove the gossips right.

Patricia or Talon. Which one will take The Final Ride?

Spatzle Speaks: The Final Ride (Book Review)

cover proofLinda Yezak has finally released the follow-up to Give the Lady a Ride and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Mom was given an advanced copy to read and could not put The Final Ride down. After all, we all love cowboy stories, don’t we? My only complaint is there was no dog on that ranch. What’s up with that?

Patricia’s friend Marie is away on her honeymoon. Talon longs to marry Patricia but she’s hesitant because of the betrayal of her previous husband. He’d lied to her. She believes Talon would never do that but if he did, it could be a deal breaker for their relationship. Her aunt arrives to try to tempt her back to New York and life on the ranch gets chaotic. Romance and time alone with her beau become scarce.

Talon is faced with a dilemma. He’s a bull-rider but his last ride left him injured and recovery was hard. In the meantime he’s fallen in love with Patricia, the owner of the ranch he works for. Patricia is an “Uptown Girl” who’s finally adapted to ranch life. She loves him but has asked him to promise not to ride a bull again.

But if he does ride would he lose Patricia and his livelihood as well? Would he be sacrificing everything? And what if that’s exactly what God is calling him to do?

When the season gears up and the desire to ride is great, coupled with the taunting from a fellow rider, Talon sees red and struggles with the challenge to keep his word and ride again so that when he hangs up his bull-riding hat he’s done so at the top of his game. Not afraid like some would say he was.

The Final Ride is a sweet romance filled with conflict, fun secondary characters and a realistic struggle to negotiate love and the calling and gifts one is given. Mom couldn’t stop smiling when she had finished the book and said she wants a cowboy of her own. She’ll have to settle for me though since she’s allergic to horses!

I’m giving this book five bones even though it didn’t have a dog in it. Mom really liked it a lot. And I don’t do stars–I’m a dog.

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

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

5 bones for blog

The “God Answered my Prayer” Conundrum

Lots of things stew in my crazy brain. Much of it I’m sure you’d not want to read about. Complexities and backstory would bog down the fact that emotionally turmoil is festering underneath what many perceive to be a cheerful exterior.

One recent thing though has been cooking. I have a friend who has a book doing extremely well. She’s breaking all the “rules” for promotion and marketing. I love her to bits and I’m thrilled at her success.

No. Really. I am. She’s a dear sweet friend.

I asked her what she thinks is the secret to her success. Her response: “We’ve been praying.” She does. She prays. She has people who have prayed as she’s worked on her novel for over 10 years. Yes. You heard me. Ten years.

Here’s where the conundrum comes in. I pray too. I’ve had people pray for me as I write and struggle with life. My books haven’t sold as well although they get great reviews and I’ve done so many things to promote them. I’ve had people who I respect as authors, promise to read and promote my books who have failed to do so. I’ve done so for their great novels. Grrr. Frustrating to say the least. But God can take care of them.

God is doing 10000 thingsWhich leads to a variety of thoughts.

  • Does God not love me or my book as much as He loves my friend’s?
  • Success isn’t really about how many books I sell.
  • But I could really use the money sales could net for me due to challenging life circumstances (duh, like we all don’t face those?)

And then I scold myself.

  • It should be enough that I worked hard and my books are well-received and people have found their faith encouraged or challenged by reading them.
  • It should be enough that God has brought people into my life to minister to and encourage because I have written and published my novels.
  • It should be enough that God knows my heart and my needs. All of them. He’s got my future in the palm of His hands.

So why isn’t it enough? Why do I struggle?

The issue isn’t God.

It’s me.

I’m a fallible human who struggles with insecurities on so many levels.

I struggle with depression and anxiety.

I lack support from people who should be there for me but who had sought to sabotage me every step on my journey.

They failed.

Because: God.

God has gotten me to where I am. He has brought me through so many struggles and pain beyond what I could ever dare to share here.

And my writing isn’t a job. It’s a calling. I need to own that and realize that a calling doesn’t come with a windfall. It comes with a cost.

And a blessing.

But sometimes I fail to see that amidst the pain and struggle that sometimes visits my life.

So I’m grateful for my friend, her faith and our beautiful relationship. She is also called and God’s blessing on her work has no bearing on the way He is at work in my life.

Because we are all unique and God’s work in and through us is also unique.

How often I forget that when the “should’s” come knocking on my door.

How about you? Where have you struggled with the “should’s” in your own life?

Spatzle Speaks: Dumpster Dicing

Julie Cosgrove has written some compelling romantic suspense novels about human trafficking (Hush in the Storm, Legitimate Lies, Freed to Forgive) as well as some delightful novellas (Greener Grass, Navy Blues), but she breaks new ground in her writing with a new series called Bunco Biddies Mysteries.

bunco biddies

 

The core of the group consists of Betsy Ann who used to be a news reporter. Janie is the widow of a police detective and her daughter is married to the current detective of their fair town. Ethyl adores cozy mysteries and catalogues all the who-dunnits she has read and how the murders were committed.

dumpster dicingThe first in this series is Dumpster Dicing and it is a delightful cozy mystery. SO much so my mom snuggled up to me while she read it.

While on their morning walk they spy a dead body parts dropping out of a dumpster being picked up by the garbage truck. Apparently it was a new grouchy neighbor to their community, Edwin Newman. Now they are determined to uncover the truth about just who murdered the poor man and why.  Although he was mean to a dog so that’s reason enough for me to have done it, but I’m a dog and am not capable of that kind of harm. Along the way they get into all kinds of trouble with someone trying to stop them, along with Janie’s son-in-law who, while appreciative of the help, really does care for his mother-in-law and wants her safe.

Dumpster Dicing is filled with colorful characters, sweet moments and a dash of humor as a group of older women in a retirement community seek to help out Janie’s son-in-law who is overworked and she beleives needs to spend more time with his family. I give this five bones. I don’t do stars. I’m a dog.

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

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

 

5 bones for blog

Spatzle Speaks: Navy Blues (Book Review)

loveis_navyblues-copy-2Navy Blues by Julie Cosgrove is book #7 in the “Love is . . .” series by Prism Book Group and explores “love is not self-seeking.”

As a Maltese, I’m really not that fond of the Navy. Gotta tell you water is not my favorite unless it’s to drink or in the form of snow for me to shove my nose into. My mom likes to watch JAG which is about some military lawyers . . . she’s just weird that way. But that has little to do with this story.

Emma West had traveled a long way to see her fiancée, Trey, only to find him in bed with another woman. Running away she ends up seated on an airplane next to Dr. Ryan MacKenzie. a lieutenant in the Navy who is returning soon to civilian life. Through a series of misadventures she begins to find her heart falling for the handsome doctor and his ability to help her out in any crisis.

Discovering their final destination is in the same town knits their journey together further as they seek to return there in good time. Trials and heartache are shared as they navigate the journey. Upon returning home though Ryan gives Emma wide berth because he believes she needs time to be without a man, to recover, before starting a relationship with him. His return into her life though comes in a timely manner as Trey arrives to try to convince Emma he needs her.

Emma realizes all he really needed as her father’s wealth and connections. But cutting ties isn’t always easy and Ryan steps in to help.

This story is filled with adventure and romance. Ryan is as faithful and protective as a dog (although mom says probably better looking than one although she think’s I’m pretty cute), so I’ll give it five bones. I’m a dog. I don’t do stars.

5 bones for blog

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

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