Monday, November 19, 2012

"Buddy: How A Rooster Made Me A Family Man" by Brian McGrory

This Thanksgiving my bird will be a rooster, not a turkey!

No, I'm not eating the rooster, I am reading "Buddy: How a Rooster Made Me a Family Man" by Brian McGrory. I was lucky to receive a review copy from the marketing department at Crown Publishing.

I probably should wait to post on my blog until after I read this book, but I know I am going to love  it! Why keep this new release (November 2012) under wraps until I read it - you could buy your own copy before I finish mine.

This is more than a bird story, it is a memoir that goes to the heart of the author's life, his childhood, and his beloved dog. Be ready for some tears and laughs.

I am borowing a few words I found on two great book blogs, Feathered Quill Book Reviews and The Relentless Reader . You can click on the blog names and read their full reviews. I suggest you bookmark these sites too, as they are a great source for book information.

Here is what these reviewers had to say about the book:

Buddy is the story of Brian McGrory, who after finding himself divorced and then losing his best friend, Harry the Golden Retriever, finally came to the realization that Harry’s veterinarian, Dr. Pam Bendock, might just be his soul-mate. But dating, and later marrying Pam, will force many changes on Brain, a diehard city boy. Pam lives in the suburbs, has two young girls, a couple of dogs, rabbits, and yes, a rooster named Buddy. While the other animals easily accepted Brain, and Pam’s daughters slowly came to appreciate their step-father, Buddy insisted Brian was an intruder and the rooster needed to protect "his flock.” ..... there is a fair amount of storytelling revolving around other characters such as Harry, the author’s beloved dog who introduced him to his future bride Pam.  Feathered Quill Book Reviews

Brian McGrory's life changed drastically after the death of his beloved dog, Harry: he fell in love with Pam, Harry's veterinarian. Though Brian’s only responsibility used to be his adored Harry, Pam came with accessories that could not have been more exotic to the city-loving bachelor: a home in suburbia, two young daughters, two dogs, two cats, two rabbits, and a portly, snow white, red-crowned-and-wattled step-rooster named Buddy....Brian McGrory's love for his wise and faithful Golden Retriever Harry is beautiful to read about. Their bond is incredible. I read the passage of Harry's death with very watery eyes.The Relentless Reader 

Intrigued? I certainly am. I love memoirs, dogs, and now I'm probably gonna love a rooster.  Probably gonna want some chicks for my back yard. Zoning won't let me, but the thought will stay in my mind!

Brian McGrory is a longtime Boston Globe columnist and an award winning journalist.


I hope you have a grand Thanksgiving. Check out "Buddy" and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Karen Fisher-Alaniz "Breaking the Code: A Father's Secret, a Daughter's Journey, and the Question That Changed Everything"

Available on Amazon where you can check out their 'Look Inside' feature and on Barnes & Noble.

This review is part of the author's continuing blog tour with Women On Writing (WOW)

A perfect read over Veteran's Day Weekend. This review is part of the author's tour with Women on Writing (WOW). Read the author's interview on The Muffin and follow her blog tour. Visit the author's website and enter a raffle through Dec. 7th and a chance to win a double-signed copy of her book. Bookplates will be signed by both Karen and her 91 year old father. Visit Twitter at #breakingthecode to see more reviews and contest.

Author's father 1945

A truly heart endearing memoir of a daughter who sets out to unravel her fathers past when he was stationed in the Pacific during WWII. On his 81st birthday, her father placed two old notebooks on her lap, with more than 400 pages of letters he'd written home to his parents. What started out as a simple quest to transcribe these letters, became a healing process for both, as the author discovers her father was a Japanese code breaker,  a secret he has kept from his family over all the years. Father and daughter began a nine year journey of healing and reaffirming their relationship. The author watched as her father painfully tried to bring back memories, often in pieces, that she has put together. The chronology of the book does not necessarily reflect the chronology of how his memories came back, yet the story is whole on what transpired during the war and in later years.

"I always knew my father had been in war. But as a child it was of little importance to me. I had bicycles to ride, friends to play with, and trees to climb.

He would tell us stories about the war. He was in the Navy and stationed at Pearl Harbor a few years after it was bombed in 1941. He spent his days working in an office. On liberty he went to the movies  or exploring with friends. These were the stories he told, which were never terribly interesting."

The stories were boring to young children. They were safe stories that didn't hurt anyone and didn't require answering questions. The author and her sister were tired of hearing them. Only later would the discovery of her father's secret life, his heroism, and the stress that followed him all his years after his service time, come to light.

This book is not only a personal story for the author and her father, but a look at history during WWII, presented in a way that is easy to read and highly informative.

I loved the layout of the book, the old photographs, and naive illustrations, bring the flavor of the period to life. The author has a way with narration, and dialog, that keeps the reader involved.

Author Karen Fisher-Alaniz

Karen's Father Murray Fisher

Daughter and Father at a recent book signing.

( 3 photos from author's Amazon page)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Celebrate Chinese Culture with "Emma's American Chinese New Year" by Amy Meadows, And Win A Book!

Available On Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Enter to win a copy in our giveaway. See below.

Award Winner
Bronze Medal, 2012 Moonbeam Children's Book Awards, Holiday Category

Emma’s American Chinese New Year

by Amy Meadows
Experience the Joy of the Chinese New Year with Emma in America

About the book:

     Emma is a delightful little Chinese girl living in America with her adoptive parents. Her folks know how important it is to honor Emma’s American life and Chinese heritage, including Chinese New Year, one of the most important holidays in China.
     In "Emma’s American Chinese New Year", Emma takes us through the preparations for the Chinese New Year, which occurs annually in January or February. She and Mommy bake moon cakes, enjoy oranges with Daddy, and decorate the house with colorful Chinese lanterns cut from paper. Every year, Emma also receives a red envelope with money enclosed, signifying good luck.
     Emma and her parents join their extended family to celebrate at the cultural center, where Emma and other little girls wear traditional “qipao” dresses. And what would a party be without music and dancing, including a roving lion and a swooping dragon!
     The evening culminates with a trip to the family’s favorite Chinese restaurant for traditional food, including spring rolls, noodles and fortune cookies. Before parting, Emma and her parents wish their relatives “Gung Hay Fat Choy” or “best wishes and congratulations; have a prosperous and good new year!”
     Author Amy Meadows presents a fun and respectful look at Chinese New Year through the eyes of a young Chinese girl adopted by American parents. The text, written in rhyme, is perfect for ages three to eight. Chinese artist Soon Kwong Teo illustrates the color and gaiety of this significant Chinese holiday.

In Amy's words:

Amy Meadows

     As a freelance feature writer for more than a decade, I never intended – or expected – to write children’s literature. However, the idea for "Emma’s American Chinese New Year" came to me not long after my sister and brother-in-law brought my niece home from China. I had seen so many wonderful books about international adoption, many written specifically for children. But I did not see anything that depicted an adopted child celebrating a holiday from her culture with her American family. And that is what I truly admire about the families that have been created through international adoption. So often, parents spend a great deal of time helping their children understand and honor their birth cultures. It gives these children a real sense of who they are and where they came from while still allowing them to be active and amazing All-American kids.

     "Emma’s American Chinese New Year" was a way for me to celebrate all that my niece has brought into our lives and capture an experience that our entire family enjoys so much. It’s an experience that we share with so many other families throughout the country.

About the author:

    Amy Meadows enjoyed a decade as a freelance feature writer before venturing into children’s books. She has penned more than a thousand articles during the course of her career. These stories include health features, community spotlights, biographical profiles and how-to articles. She has also created marketing materials for corporations of all sizes. Additionally, Meadows has contributed to more than a dozen hardcover pictorial books about small and mid-sized cities throughout the country. Meadows holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication and a Master of Arts degree in Professional Writing from Kennesaw State University.

Facts behind the story:

     "Emma’s American Chinese New Year"  is a children’s picture book that assists American families with adopted children from China as they merge two unique cultures into their homes and observe a significant Chinese holiday. The first book to address the topic of adoptive parents celebrating their children’s distinctive international heritage annually, "Emma’s American Chinese New Year" takes a fresh look at the ongoing adoption experience.

     More than 66,000 children have been adopted from China in the last decade alone, and Meadows’ story will make it easy and entertaining for families to integrate this dual heritage into everyday life. The story of Emma is inspired by the adoption of the author’s niece from China in 2007. "Emma’s American Chinese New Year" is a medalist in the Holiday category of the 2012 Moonbeam Children's Book Awards.
     Meadows wrote Emma’s American Chinese New Year as a way to recognize those families that have been created through international adoption. She explained, “Having watched parents in the Chinese adoption community embrace their children’s heritage and help them participate in and understand the traditions of their birth country, I thought it was important to provide those children with a book that reflects them and what makes them so special.”

     Meadows has done that, not just for children of Chinese heritage, but also for children everywhere who will benefit from learning more about the diversity of the world, creating an engaging read for families and educators.

Additional Links:

 Leave a comment and be entered in our giveaway!
Enter our giveaway and win a copy of "Emma's American Chinese New Year". Send an e-mail comment to our Book Talk address (link here) or comment below. Be sure we can contact you if you are our winner! Drawing to be held on November 14.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Patrick Smithwick, "Flying Change", Author & Jockey, Booksigning Event at Peachtree Battle Antiques & Interiors in Atlanta Nov. 4th


 Don't Miss This Peachtree Battle Antiques & Interiors Event if you are in the Atlanta area!
Meet author & Jockey Patrick Smithwick on Sun. Nov.4th
Books are available for sale at this event!

 About the Book from Amazon:

          Patrick Smithwick has done it again. His new book Flying Change is every bit the sleek, well-bred and fast Thoroughbred as its predecessor,Racing My Father.
           In Flying Change, Smithwick is no longer racing his father. He is racing himself - while continuing with his duties as a father, a husband, a friend, a teacher and a writer.

          This memoir of dueling ambitions is the tale of a man who decides in mid-life to call off all restraints, silence all naysayers, put his mind and body and courage to the test, and do what in his case--he has been away from the world of racing for twenty-five years--is the impossible: within a nine-month period get a horse to ride in the most difficult steeplechase race in the world, and then, ride that horse as if his life depends on it, which, literally, it does.          
         Flying Change is an inspiration for anyone who thought he or she could never compete again.  If you'd like to know what it's like to be a member of the elite racing set, if you'd like to experience firsthand a foxhunt at its most exciting moments, if you'd like to vicariously ride in the Maryland Hunt Cup, then this is your book.
          The demands in time and energy required by Smithwick's return to racing pull him away from his family and his ambition to write, creating major conflicts. Yet, the fast-paced narrative shows Smithwick striving to carry on traditions from his upbringing and apply them to the raising of his own three children. These sections are positive, upbeat, father-affirming.  Fatherhood--the tensions, the responsibilities, the possibilities--is a topic sorely missing in the American canon. When tackled in American literature, books dealing with fatherhood are most often ones written by a son or daughter describing his or her mistreatment by father who is often either abusive, violent, alcoholic, inattentive, or worse. Smithwick fights against that formula in Racing My Father, a memoir of growing up as the son of A. P. "Paddy" Smithwick, the legendary steeplechase jockey.   
          In Flying Change, Smithwick goes against the grain again. He writes, as a father of three children, about his relationships with them. He addresses the question of what it means to be a father in 21 Century America. Tragedy on the racetrack in the form of death, paralysis, and suicide lurks in the background. This realistic recreation of the world of Thoroughbred racing gives the book a seriousness, and it also creates suspense.
         Flying Change is a must-read for the general audience as well as lovers of the horse and of horse racing. This is not only a racing memoir that catapults the reader through time and space at a breathtaking pace, it is a literary memoir that examines the big questions of how to live one's life.
        Patrick Smithwick has been working with horses all of his life. At a very young age he began working with his father, the legendary steeplechase jockey, A.P. Smithwick, who became a trainer after retiring from riding. Smithwick then worked his way through school and college by exercising Thoroughbreds at major East Coast racetracks and riding steeplechase races at such venues as Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course, and hunt meets such as the Maryland Hunt Club and the Grand National.
        Smithwick received a Bachelor or Arts from Johns Hopkins University in 1973 followed by a Master of Arts in creative writing from Hollins College in 1975. After working in the newspaper business for several years, Smithwick began teaching English, philosophy, photography, and journalism at both the high school and collegiate levels. In 1988, he received a master of liberal arts from Johns Hopkins University and in 2000 he received his degree in education for ministry from University of the South. During this time, Smithwick taught as well as held the position of director of publications and public relations at two different schools.
       He has now turned his two biggest passions into two business - writing and training. Thoroughbred steeplechase horse and riding. He also gives talks, teaches part-time, and does freelance writing.

      Visit the Book Website!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

"Sonia's Song" by Sonia Korn-Grimani

Available on Amazon

This book review is part of the author's blog tour with WOW-Women On Writing . Click here to visit Women On Writing for an interview with the author and a list of the different blogs that feature Sonia Korn-Grimani this month, along with many special features, including a sample of her music.

My Review:

     “Sonia's Song” is a memoir that will draw you in from the first sentence, I stand three feet six inches tall when I am declared an enemy of the German State, and keep you memorized until the last page. I was not convinced I would like this book when I signed on to do a review as part of the author's blog tour with Women On Writing (WOW) but I wanted to read it since I am a fan of memoir writing. I could not put the book down.
     The author's writing style makes the book easy to read with it's sharp dialog and tight descriptions. The subject is heart-wrenching, but beautifully and simply written. It is a small memoir, at 185 pages, with an additional four pages of photographs at the end. The book is also filled with photographs, which gives the reader a strong connection to the author and her family, as we see them as we read about them. I loved that about this book.
     My attention was focused on her years at the orphanage 'Le Joli Coin', where she and other children hide in plain sight as Catholic orphans. It is there her talent as a singer begins to emerge.
    “Singing daily in the choir offers me a sense of belonging that I need desperately. When I sing, I feel like I can reach God. This gives me a semblance of power – that I can beseech God in this way not t be ferocious toward the Jews. And, as the voices of our group harmonize, I don't feel so alone or scared.”
     Life at the orphanage is not easy, and Madame J., who inherited and runs 'Le Joli Coin', is a questionable character at best. The children went hungry, she was not a nurturing woman, but lives were saved. The author meets up with her again in 1961 and questions if she has mellowed after all these years.
    While robbed of a normal childhood, and faced with fear and horror, Sonia and her family survive to be reunited again. Their story does not end with the end of the War. Five years later the family still lives in limbo, and moves to Australia in the 1950s.
     Sonia's courtship with John, her future husband, lasts three years, until they finally decide to marry despite protests from parents. Her own children have the life she missed.
     The are four sections to the book, each a Verse, as in a song. Beautifully written and unforgettable, the author has shared her story of survival and hope, as well as a history of a period of time before, during, and after the Holocaust.

About the author:

     Sonia Korn-Grimani earned her doctorate in French literature and the teaching of foreign languages, and directed a multi-cultural language program at UNESCO. With her husband John, and their children Anthony and Renee, Sonia traveled and lived all over the world. She taught foreign languages at the university level, and performed frequently to the delight of audiences worldwide. In her album Cantos al Amor, Sonia sings in 16 languages.
     In 1989, Dr. Korn-Grimani was knighted Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes
Académiques, and in 1996 she was decorated Officier des Palmes Académiques.These decorations were awarded in recognition of her lifelong dedication to and promotion of French culture and language.

     Sonia continues to sing regularly at UNESCO events in France, and is
also frequently invited to share her Holocaust experiences as a guest speaker in high schools, universities, synagogues and churches.

About the book:

     In Troubled Times, a Song of Hope.
     At the age of seven, during Hitler's rise to power, Sonia Korn-Grimani was officially declared an enemy of the German State. After a perilous escape to the Belgian border, she witnessed the chaos and carnage of the Battle of Belgium. She lived with her family in the shadows, fleeing and hiding from persecution until being placed in an orphanage. There she lived with more than twenty other Jewish children, all disguised as a Catholic orphans, and all kept near starvation.       
     Sonia forged triumph out from these tragedies with unshakable tenacity and beguiling charm, a life chronicled in the new book Sonia's Song. She sang to the delight of audiences throughout the world, became an international sensation of radio and television, tutored French to a Queen, and was named a Chevalier by the French Government.      
    Sonia's Song follows this remarkable woman's transformation, starting from her childhood in Germany and Belgium in the 1930's and 40's, continuing post-war to Australia and Malaysia, and touching on her life in modern France and the Americas.

Visit the author's website.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"Steamduck Learns to Fly" Launches Today. Be Part Of The Flight! Order Now. Author Emilie P. Bush and Illustrator William Kevin Petty

Available on Amazon. Special Sale Today 10/10

About the book!
Steamduck is back with another adventure! Author Emilie P. Bush and illustrator William Kevin Petty bring this follow up to their bestselling children’s book Her Majesty’s Explorer: a Steampunk bedtime story. In Steamduck Learns to FLY! the plucky mechanical duck discovers that REAL birds do more than swim. He turns to his old friend and maker – the Otter – to learn a few things about flying. They try and fail with propeller contraptions, hot air balloons and more. Despite all the mishaps, the pair eventually defy gravity and take to the sky.
About the Author and Illustrator
Emilie P. Bush wears many hats when it comes to writing. She is a Steampunk novelist, a journalist, children's book author and a mentor to other writers as the Leader of the Gwinnett County Writer's Guild. Her first novel, Chenda and the Airship Brofman, was an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Semi-finalist in 2010 and her follow up tale, The Gospel According to Verdu, picks up where Chenda left off - high in the skies and wild with adventure. Emilie's children's book, Her Majesty's Explorer: a Steampunk bedtime story, is the world's first Steampunk picture book, and recently hit #1 on Amazon's Hot New Releases Bestseller List. Emilie P. Bush lives in Atlanta, where she is a speaker on publishing in the 21st Century, an editor with Steampunk Chronicle and maintains the website
William Kevin Petty has lived most of his life in central Louisiana with various military deployments. In his former life as an Army Officer, he would draw and sketch in his down time while deployed to Europe and the Middle East. In addition to the pencil works, Kevin enjoys painting, especially in acrylics on masonite and canvas. The bestselling picture book, Her Majesty's Explorer: a Steampunk bedtime story, is Kevin's first project with Emilie P. Bush, but more titles are in the works. In the mean time, he is an artist for hire. His portfolio is available at

Praise for Steamduck Learns to FLY!

"Charming illustrations and a whimsical story that should appeal to young steampunk readers quite a bit!"  ~ Jeff van der Meer

"I am not kidding when I say I could see this becoming a children's classic like The Velveteen Rabbit or The Little Prince. It's that good!"  ~ Rhetta Akamatsu 

"... a great addition to our 'Character Education' library." ~ Lori Newbury Steampunk Chronicle

"I watched as a steam powered duck learned to fly... I was riveted." ~ Literature for no one blog. 

"The illustrations by Petty are the perfect accompaniment to this story of courage and friendship."  ~ Sue Nespeca, Early Literacy & Children's Literature Specialist

"(The)writing has a wonderfully consistent tone of innocent Knowing, and the Images are worth a lot of looking." ~ Leonard Dufresne - artist/illustrator. 

"MAGICALNESS" ~ Smokey Joe Mayes, writer, blogger.

" If you have children in your life it is a 'must have' on many levels, from fun to education. If you enjoy whimsy and the spirit of adventure then it is a wonderful addition to any collection. I can imagine sitting around at a Steampunk gathering and brandy tasting, and reading this aloud to my friends, doing the voices and all... yes, that would do nicely." ~ Travis I. Sivart,  Author, Steampunk man about town.

"Steamduck Learns To Fly! is full of whimsical illustrations with beautiful details and soft colors. The story is a familiar one of longing to be more and finally realizing that you were 'more' all along. It's a story that is likely to spark the imagination of children and it was a joy to read...."  ~ Totus Mel's Wunderkammer blog

Friday, October 5, 2012

"The Dachshund Escapades" Book 1 and 2 by Mavis Duke Hinton

Happy Fall From Mavis Duke Hinton and the Doxies! Remember their mantra:


The Books:

The Dachshund Escapades: Book 1:  I Am Sarge

Available on Amazon where you can take a sneak peek! Photo from author's Amazon page.

     Sometimes a dachshund's "lowdown from the ground" perspective is just what human beings need. I was only eight weeks old when I was adopted into my new human family who knew immediately I was a super dog. They proudly gave me the name Sarge-after my Papa Duke, who was a sergeant in the Army. Quite a fitting name for a good-looking dachshund too, I might add. I just know someday I'll do great and mighty things, befitting a super dog. But in the meanwhile, I'll just steal your heart and make you laugh out loud with the antics of this "chow hound." And maybe, if you come over, Papa and I-two food lovers-might just share a snack or two with you, too.
     Fall in love with Sarge, the quintessential dachshund, and laugh along with his foibles and humorous escapades. Book 1 of The Dachshund Escapades series. Don't miss Book 2, I Am Dachshund.
     For all ages who love a fun adventure story and who love dogs, particularly dachshunds.

Book 2: I Am Dachshund

Buy the book on Amazon. Take a peek inside when you link to Amazon.

The series continues! The third, Dachshunds Forever, is awaiting publication. Mavis Duke Hinton is currently working on the fourth book in this series, A Dachshund's Tribute. Keep up with the latest on the author's Amazon page. Note that on Amazon there are an earlier version of these two books. The links here take you to the latest copies. Visit the author's web page and blog. Like Mavis Duke Hinton's Facebook Page and read more about the dogs.

About the author: Heartfelt Christian Fiction: Dachshund Books For Dog Lovers!
Mavis with granddog Shadow on left upon whom the Sarge book was based and her own dog Duke on the right.

Why do you write from the Dachshund's point of view? 
Oh, I've been asked that question countless times . . . and I always give the same answer, basically something like this: 
"It is a running joke in our family that we just know what a dachshund is thinking by its facial expression and body language.  My late father used to tell us what our dachshunds were thinking, and I believe I have inherited that 'gene' for doing so.  All of this is tongue in cheek, of course—and it makes for many a laugh around our house."
For example, I watch my dachshund Duke closely if I think he’s up to something.  If he’s looking at one of us imploringly, it can mean:  (1) he wants to go out; (2) he’s hungry; (3) he wants us to play with him.  So I interpret his wishes for my husband:  “Daddy, I wish you’d put down that newspaper and throw my ball for me.  Mama has been at the computer all day, ignoring me.  I need to have some fun around here, you know!”  Voila—Duke’s thoughts.  It’s not necessarily a talent (maybe even a bit silly to those who are not dog lovers), but we all get a good chuckle out of my interpretations.

A particularly endearing trait of dogs is their concern for someone who is sick or upset. If one of the grandchildren is crying, both Duke and Shadow want to comfort by giving doggie kisses and lying next to the child. I have incorporated that caring attitude into my books.

My other reasons (besides the 'gene' thing) for writing from the dog's viewpoint are:

1. I enjoy imagining how day-to-day happenings must appear to the family dog.
2. I can shift reality to share with readers what dogs think about life situations.
3. I have a zany sense of humor (my family can attest to that) and can use such humor when incorporating it into a dog's viewpoint.
4. I love and appreciate dogs as man's best friend. They show us unconditional love, like God has for us.

Tips For Writers:

Just get the words down and edit later. That was good advice I found on a well-known author's website. I had a tendency (I am an English teacher, after all) to just keep editing that particular paragraph until I thought it was perfect before moving on, and it takes too much time. It's better to just write, then edit at the end of the manuscript.
Waiting is a big part of publishing—waiting to hear back from a publisher, waiting for “your turn” in the queue of the publication process (I waited three years, from contract to release, for my second book).

Write what you know. Your life experiences can color and enrich your writing, so examine your experiences and incorporate anything you can, even a small incident that can be added to your story.


In her 22-year career as an English teacher, Mavis Duke Hinton now teaches English online to students across the USA and several foreign countries. She grew up in a military family and lived abroad in Europe during her childhood. She has also been an editor for Christian and secular organizations, including Liberty University, publications editor for the North Carolina State Budget, as well as a police officer. She has taught Bible studies to all ages, from preschool children to adult women, and has spoken in educational conferences as well as women’s groups from time to time.

Married for forty-one years with two married daughters and three grandchildren, she has written two Christian fiction novels in The Dachshund Escapades series.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Cliff Graubart Book Signing At The Carter Center

September 27, 2012 was a glorious night for book lovers in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Jimmy Carter  Presidential  Library and A Cappella Books presented An Evening with Pat Conroy and Cliff Graubart as they celebrated the release of The Curious Vision of Sammy Levitt and Other Stories by Cliff Graubart, published by Mercer University Press.

Introductions were given by Terry Kay.

Look for Cliff to be featured on book talk later this week!

Cliff Graubart, owner of The Old New York Book Shop, autographs his debut book of short stories.

Available on Amazon and at A Cappella Books

Monday, September 10, 2012

Laurie Bellesheim "Surviving Emily"

About the book:

Abigail Hooper and Stephen Sparks had never heard of Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy until one fatal morning in November when it crushed their hopes and dreams. Twelve years after the devastating loss of their dearest friend Emily, they find themselves still affected by the trauma. Abigail, married and newly pregnant, helps others through her work for the Department of Children and Families. When a new client with epilepsy unexpectedly forces her to re-examine the past, Abigail realizes she's the one who needs saving. Stephen has struggled emotionally, physically and spiritually after losing the love of his life, and the long-term effects of his grief have kept him from truly living and finding love again. As the two search for redemption and the power to heal, their paths cross once again. Emily's presence so long ago still has meaning in their own lives, teaching them the meaning of true friendship and what's really important. Drawing on her own experience with a close friend with epilepsy who died, author Laurie Bellesheim raises awareness about the disease in this compelling tale told partially through flashbacks.
"Full of heartbreak and loss but ultimately hope, Surviving Emily is a compelling story that explores the meaning of everlasting friendship and the healing power of love." - Written by Dog Ear Publishing in a 2011 Press Release for Surviving Emily.
"Surviving Emily by Laurie Bellesheim, is more than a heartwarming story--it is an event. I cried with the characters, feared along with them, applauded their milestones, identified with their setbacks, and learned from the book. " - Susan Anderson, reviewer on Amazon
About the author:

Laurie Bellesheim, a published poet, belongs to several writers' organizations including Writer's Digest, Authors Den and Bellesheim was inspired to write Surviving Emily because she lost a close friend to Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy when she was 18. Bellesheim also hopes to help raise awareness about this deadly condition. Before writing Surviving Emily, her first novel, Bellesheim was a social worker for six years, including working with the Department of Children and Families. She graduated from Southern Connecticut State University with a bachelor's degree in social work. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and three children.
In Laurie's own words:
I started writing in my elementary years. From as young as I can remember, I dreamt of being a great writer someday and 'making it" as an author. When other kids were asked what they wanted to be when they grew up, my answer was usually quite different. I wanted to be a 'mommy' and an 'author'. Back then, my awful grammar and childish stories about my pets did not give my family much faith in my future of writing, but that did not stop me from trying. I perfected those short stories year after year and in high school I covered every napkin and book cover I could find with my poems. I wrote on and off through-out most of my youth, but it took many more years to realize what writing really meant to me.

After the tragic loss of a close friend during my first year in college, I began to use writing as a tool for healing and expression. I used my words as a way to express my grief and what I couldn't communicate vocally, I spilled out onto paper. Writing became my outlet, a way to channel all my thoughts, dreams, and creativity. It was during that desperate time that I discovered what writing truly meant to me and it's been a bigger part of my life ever since. But it wasn't just my passion for writing that bloomed; it was something much more. I found that I had an important story to tell, one that would not only honor my friend who passed, but also help others, and help raise awareness about epilepsy and the condition of SUDEP (Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy).

I achieved what I had always dreamt of doing, when my first novel, Surviving Emily, was published in September, 2011. I also learned that I am someone who writes from the heart, and that I enjoy writing stories that have great meaning and purpose. For me, Surviving Emily is just the beginning, and I have have much more left inside me to write!

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Saturday, September 8, 2012

When will cryonics be cool? Author Marsha Cornelius Speaks Out.

Author Marsha Cornelius originally appeared on Book Talk on June 3, 2012, discussing her latest book The Ups And Downs of Being Dead. Read that post by clicking here.

Today she chats about Cryonics!

So, Larry King, the talk show host, has signed up to have his body frozen when he dies. He thinks he’s going to come back in the future. What a weirdo. Right?
But why? Why are people so quick to discount revolutionary ideas like cryonics?

Oliver Wendell Holmes was vilified by fellow physicians when he dared to suggest they wash their hands as they went from patient to patient. Henry Ford was mocked when he introduced his horseless carriage. Steve Wozniak worked for Hewlett Packard, but when he showed them the prototype for a desktop computer, they turned him down—five times!

Is it any wonder, then, that the few brave souls who are gambling with immortality are considered nutjobs?

The premise is simple enough. The data stored in the brain – all knowledge, memories, and opinions – could possibly be retrieved in the future, if the brain is properly preserved. When a ‘believer in cryonics’ - a cryonicist - dies, his or her brain will be preserved with a special anti-freeze that will prevent damage to the cells of the brain. Then theoretically, when technology figures out how to bring them back, they will live again.

Poppycock, you say?

Let’s face it, the ‘Doubting Thomas’ has been around since Jesus. There were an estimated 7 million people living in Spain in 1492. But only 90 men were willing to sail with Columbus. Most people thought the world was flat!
When John Glenn climbed on board Friendship 7, I imagine a lot of people watching the broadcast on TV were thinking, “He’s crazy. You’d never catch me in that thing.”

Why aren’t cryonicists considered visionaries? No less pioneers than the brave souls who rode west in covered wagons?

Maybe it’s just too soon. Technology hasn’t caught up with the dream yet. So what will it take to convince people that cryonics will work?

Scientists are experimenting with methods of regenerating damaged cells and tissue, and even stimulating the body to regenerate and replace tissue and organs itself.

Now I’m really on board with this idea. Imagine sending a message to the cells in my skin. ‘Tighten up!’ And maybe someday, instead of implanting bags of gel, a technician could merely send a message that would encourage more growth in the breasts, and less in the hips. Dare I dream that someday, tiny nano-robots could be sent to my belly to snatch up fat cells and carry them to my kidneys for disposal?

A company in California is cryo-preserving organs like hearts. Someday we will have organ banks with a full line of lungs and livers. There won’t be any more racing a cooler with a viable kidney into surgery before the organ deteriorates. And if a patient needs a new pancreas, a surgeon will be able to locate a good match at the organ bank, and then prep the patient for a couple weeks ahead of time to lessen the chance of rejection.

We’ve been freezing embryos and eggs since the 1970s. Cadaver skin that has been cryopreserved is now used for burn victims. Adult stem cells in bone marrow are treating patients with leukemia.

So instead of thinking that people who have themselves frozen are freaks, maybe we should be thinking: I believed in cryonics before cryonics was cool.

M. R. Cornelius is the author of The Ups and Downs of Being Dead, the story of a 57 year-old man who chooses cryonics over death. A more detailed synopsis, and the book, are available on Amazon.