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Monday, February 3, 2020

WOW! Women on Writing Book Blog Tour - "Silver Spoons; One's Journey Through Addiction" by Sarah Dickinson - 4.5 star book review by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto

First and Foremost - thank you to WOW! Women on Writing for bringing this reading/reviewing opportunity to readers here at Bring on Lemons! We love you WOW!



Silver Spoons: One's Journey Through Addiction takes an intimate and raw look at the current face of addiction and recovery. Talking about the current opioid epidemic, we follow a young couple while one of them goes through the recovery process. Told through letters, we get an understanding of their relationship as it struggles through his addiction and resulting recovery. From detox, rehab, sober living and the 12 steps of AA, you get a raw and honest look at the effects of addiction and how they affect relationships.

AUTHOR NOTE: There is explicit and graphic content.

Print Length: 380 Pages
Genre: Women's Fiction
Publisher: Independently Published
ISBN-13: 978-1717868947
ISBN-10: 1717868940

Silver Spoons: One's Journey Through Addiction is now available to purchase at Amazon.com.

Book Giveaway Contest

To win a copy of the book Silver Spoons: One's Journey Through Addiction by Sarah Dickinson, please leave a comment on this post and on February 14th a winner will be chosen - Good Luck!

About the Author

Sarah Dickinson is a lifelong resident in beautiful upstate New York. Mother of two amazing daughters and three equally awesome rescue dogs, she is the author of Silver Spoons: One's Journey Through Addiction. She currently attends college and is in the midst of switching careers. When she isn't doing it all, she reads comic books, blogs, and takes weekend getaways.

You can find the author online at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Silver-Spoons-Ones-Journey-Through-Addiction-916257075228829/

Blog: https://sarahvdickinson.art.blog/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sarahdauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Peerpre36414692

Goodreads Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19325669.Sarah_Dickinson

---  Review by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto

Congratulations Sarah on publishing a book on this difficult topic - Silver Spoons is a unique book and I really enjoyed the new perspective I gained by reading this journey through addiction. When the description says this book takes a raw look into recovery - it's very accurate. I have no personal experience as an addict or having a loved one with addiction (thankfully) and this was an eye opener to say the least. Silver Spoons made me uncomfortable and some points were quite terrifying - reading this book opened up an unfamiliar world.

There's a few points I look for when reading and reviewing and here's how I came up with my 4.5 Star rating (1+1+.75+1+.75 = 4.5)

(1 of 1) Readability - Silver Spoons was a quick read and was written in letters and reminded me of reading someone's journal. It felt like a very personal look into the lives of strangers who became friends. I didn't want to put it down until I had devoured each word.

(1 of 1) Style - The style was a little different but I got into it. This book may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I found it to be enjoyable.

(.75 of 1) Interest - This topic was definitely interesting and the book kept my interest cover to cover.

(1 of 1) Editing - Silver Spoons is a well edited read - nice job to the author and editors!

(.75 of 1) Relationships - I felt like I got to know the character and feel his struggle; most of the time this meant getting out of my comfort zone, but the author did a good job of making the character feel real and personal.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about the struggles of addiction. Thank you again WOW! for the opportunity to enjoy another great book by a new author! 



--- Upcoming Blog Tour Dates

February 3rd @ Jill Sheets' Blog
Visit Jill's blog today and read Sarah Dickinson's guest post about 5 reasons to consider a change in your relationships.
http://jillsheets.blogspot.com/

February 4th @ Coffee with Lacey
Join Lacey over at her blog today and read her review of Sarah Dickinson's book Silver Spoons: One's Journey Through Addiction.
https://coffeewithlacey.com/

February 10th @ To Write or Not to Write
Visit Varsha's blog today and read her review of Sarah Dickinson's book Silver Spoons: One's Journey Through Addiction.
https://sreevarshasreejith.blogspot.com/

February 10th @ StoreyBook Reviews
Make sure to visit Leslie's blog today and check out an excerpt of the book Silver Spoons: One's Journey Through Addiction.
https://storeybookreviews.com/

February 12th @ The Faerie Review
Visit Lily's blog today and read her review of the powerful book Silver Spoons: One's Journey Through Addiction.
http://www.thefaeriereview.com/

February 13th @ Author Anthony Avina Blog
Visit Anthony's blog again where you can read a guest post by author Sarah Dickinson. Make sure you check out her easy self-care tips to add to your daily routine.
http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

February 14th @ Jessica Belmont's Blog
Visit Jessica's blog today and you can read her review of Sarah Dickinson's book Silver Spoons: One's Journey Through Addiction.
https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/

February 16th @ And So She Thinks
Make sure you visit Francesca's blog today and read her review of Sarah Dickinson's book Silver Spoons: One's Journey Through Addiction. You can also read an interview with the author!
https://andsoshethinks.wordpress.com/

February 18th @ Choices
Visit Madeline's blog and you can read Sarah Dickinson's guest post about how to be self-aware in your writing.
http://madelinesharples.com/

February 19th @ It's Alanna Jean
Make sure you visit Alanna's blog and read a guest post by Sarah Dickinson called, "5 Reasons to Consider a Change in Career."
http://ItsAlannaJean.wordpress.com

February 20th @ The Frugalista Mom
Visit Rozelyn's blog today and you can read her review of the book Silver Spoons: One's Journey Through Addiction by Sarah Dickinson. Also, win a copy for yourself too!
https://thefrugalistamom.com/

February 21st @ The  Frugalista Mom
Stop by Rozelyn's blog today and you can read Sarah Dickinson's guest post about how to raise a confident (but not arrogant) child.
https://thefrugalistamom.com/

February 23rd @ Author Anthony Avina Blog
Stop by Anthony's blog and you can read his review of Sarah Dickinson's book Silver Spoons: One's Journey Through Addiction. 
http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

February 24th @ Armed with a Book
Visit Kriti's blog today and read her review of Sarah Dickinson's book Silver Spoons: One's Journey Through Addiction.
https://www.armedwithabook.com/

February 25th @ Armed with a Book
Make sure you visit Kriti's blog again when she interviews the author Sarah Dickinson.
https://www.armedwithabook.com/







About Today's Reviewer:

Crystal is the office manager, council secretary, financial secretary, and musician at her church, birth mother, Auntie, babywearing mama, business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger, Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing, Press Corp teammate for the DairyGirl Network, Unicorn Mom Ambassador, as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and their five youngest children, two dogs, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, horses Darlin' and Joker, and over 250 Holsteins.

You can find Crystal milking cows, riding horses, and riding unicorns (not at the same time), taking the ordinary and giving it a little extra (making it extraordinary), blogging and reviewing books here, and at WOW! Women on Writing's Muffin Blog - Crystal is dedicated to turning life's lemons into lemonade and she has never (not once) been accused of being normal!





Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Carmen Otto Reviews "A Lily in the Light" by Kristin Fields; and says "I couldn't put it down"

A harrowing debut novel of a tragic disappearance and one sister’s journey through the trauma that has shaped her life.

For eleven-year-old Esme, ballet is everything—until her four-year-old sister, Lily, vanishes without a trace and nothing is certain anymore. People Esme has known her whole life suddenly become suspects, each new one hitting closer to home than the last.

Unable to cope, Esme escapes the nightmare that is her new reality when she receives an invitation to join an elite ballet academy in San Francisco. Desperate to leave behind her chaotic, broken family and the mystery surrounding Lily’s disappearance, Esme accepts.

Eight years later, Esme is up for her big break: her first principal role in Paris. But a call from her older sister shatters the protective world she has built for herself, forcing her to revisit the tragedy she’s run from for so long. Will her family finally have the answers they’ve been waiting for? And can Esme confront the pain that shaped her childhood, or will the darkness follow her into the spotlight?

Print Length: 280 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (April 1, 2019)
Publication Date: April 1, 2019
ASIN: B07F6CHPNX
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,940
#194 in Sisters Fiction
#274 in Contemporary Literary Fiction
#222 in Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Literary Fiction

A Lily in the Light is now available to purchase on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and IndieBound.



About the Author
Kristin Fields grew up in Queens, which she likes to think of as a small town next to a big city. Kristin studied writing at Hofstra University, where she was awarded the Eugene Schneider Award for Short Fiction. After college, Kristin found herself working on a historic farm, as a high school English teacher, designing museum education programs, and is currently leading an initiative to bring gardens to New York City public schools. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband.
Find Hugh Fritz online:

Twitter
https://twitter.com/writingkristin

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/kristin.fields.547

Author's Website: https://kristinfields.com/

***** 5 STAR REVIEW *****
Review by Carmen Jeanne Otto

My favorite part of A Lily in the Light was really more of the theme of the book than a particular moment in time - Esme kept going on with her life even after the tragedy of losing someone she loved. Her resilience was inspiring throughout the story and I felt she showed strength of character especially when she was afraid.

I would give A Lily in the Light a 5 Star rating because of how detailed the author made each scene in the story. Kristin Fields had me fully experiencing the ups and downs of Esme's life and experiences. I felt I was right there with her. The writing style makes me want to read more books by this author.

My least favorite part of the book was the family struggle. It was difficult as a reader to watch everything fall apart and not be able to do anything to fix the situation. I felt much as I assume Esme felt - completely helpless and frustrated. I became attached to the characters and couldn't put A Lily in the Light down. I cried when Lily's family cried and laughed when they laughed. I really would love a follow up book so I can follow their journey.

This is an exceptional book and has become one of my favorites - 5 Stars for Kristin Fields and A Lily in the Light !!


**If you go to school with Carmen, she will be donating her copy of A Lily in the Light to the school library so you can enjoy it as well. If you would like a copy in your library, please ask your librarian how to go about getting a copy!



About Today's Guest Reviewer, Carmen Otto:

Carmen is a 12 year old from a small Wisconsin town where she lives with her family. Carmen spends her days in school and evenings on her family's dairy farm where she milks cows alongside her father and grandfather. She enjoys swim team, reading books, and playing with her many siblings. When Carmen grows up, she plans to become a large animal veterinarian where she can help farmers with their cattle but also work with horses. Carmen's family recently added 2 horses to the many animals on their farm and she loves spending time caring for Joker and Darlin'!

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Book Review - "Bread Bags & Bullies; Surviving the 80's" by Steven Manchester

Bread Bags & Bullies: Surviving the '80s by Steven Manchester Banner

Bread Bags & Bullies:

Surviving the '80s

by Steven Manchester

on Tour November 1 - December 31, 2019

Synopsis:

It’s the winter of 1984. Twelve-year-old Herbie and his two brothers—Wally and Cockroach—are enjoying the mayhem of winter break when a late Nor’easter blows through New England, trapping their quirky family in the house. The power goes out and playing Space Invaders to AC DC’s Back in Black album is suddenly silenced—forcing them to use their twisted imaginations in beating back the boredom. At a time when the brothers must overcome one fear after the next, they learn that courage is the one character trait that guarantees all others.

This hysterical coming-of-age tale is jam-packed with enough nostalgia to satisfy anyone who grew up in the ‘80s or at least had the good fortune to travel through them.

Praise for Bread Bags & Bullies

“If you loved the ever popular A Christmas Story, be prepared for another classic. Bread Bags & Bullies is a must read! Funny, poignant, and heartwarming—Steven Manchester is a master storyteller.” – Jamie Farr, Actor, M.A.S.H.

Bread Bags & Bullies is a detailed eye-opening experience of the Big Hair decade. Enjoyable whether you were there or not—or just can’t quite remember it.” – Barry Williams, Actor, The Brady Bunch

“Steven Manchester’s Bread Bags & Bullies captures a simpler time, just before technology began dominating America’s time and attention. This nostalgic story is hilarious, told by a family of characters you won’t soon forget. A must read!” – Ed Asner, Actor, Lou Grant

“Steve Manchester’s Bread Bags & Bullies is a fantastic blast from the past, evoking all the fun and nostalgia of the ‘80s—even my big hair!” – Audrey Landers, Actress, Dallas

“An extraordinary recall of 1980s pop cultural, Bread Bags & Bullies will make you laugh out loud as you revisit the pains and pleasures of growing up. The book made me want to pick up the phone, call my brother in Nebraska and reminisce about our own snow day adventures.” – Douglas Barr, Actor, The Fall Guy

“In Bread Bags & Bullies, the writing is so vivid, the pace and rhythm so quick, that I truly felt I was watching it on screen.” – Joan van Ark, Actress, Knots Landing

“Steven Manchester’s latest book, Bread Bags & Bullies, made me recall the town I ‘grew up in’— mythical Mayfield. Instantly taking you back to 1984, the characters and situations are so believable that you’ll want to keep turning the pages.” – Tony Dow, Actor, Leave It to Beaver

“It’s always fun to be a part of history and pop culture. Reading the Waltons’ famous ‘Goodnight, John-boy’ referenced in Bread Bags & Bullies was a special treat—especially since the reply was ‘Night, Erin.’” – Mary McDonough, Actress, The Waltons

“A determined effort. Bread Bags & Bullies rocks!” – Billy Squier, ‘80s Rock Icon, Stroke Me

“You can like this book if you want to. You can leave your friends behind. Because if your friends don't like this book…well, they’re no friends of mine.” – Ivan Doroschuk, Lead Singer of Men Without Hats, Safety Dance

“In Bread Bags & Bullies, Steven Manchester captures the ‘80s to the smallest detail. With each page turned, memories flood back. Using the lightest of touch, he tells his story with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Bread Bags & Bullies is a delight!” – Nick van Eede, Lead Singer of Cutting Crew, Died In Your Arms

“Steve Manchester’s newest novel, Bread Bags & Bullies, is a well-written love letter to the ‘80s—bringing me home with every page turned.” – Bertie Higgins, ‘80s Recording Artist, Key Largo

Bread Bags & Bullies is so—like, totally—‘84, it makes me want to get out my leg warmers and glow sticks, backcomb my hair, and romp around the room to Footloose. And then I remember, I don’t have any hair.” – Thomas Dolby, ‘80s Recording Artist, She Blinded Me with Science

“Manchester’s book, Bread Bags & Bullies, brings to mind many of our techno ditties. ‘How you gonna keep ‘em down on Maggie’s Farm once they’ve seen Devo?’” – Gerald V. Casale of DEVO, Whip It


Book Details

Genre: Commercial Fiction
Published by: Luna Bella Press
Publication Date: November 19, 2019
Number of Pages: 288
ISBN: 978-0-9841842-7-9
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads



My 
Review:

I really enjoyed this book and it's my first read by this particular author. Hard to believe since Steven Manchester is a National Bestselling Author, right? Needless to say I will be reading more of his work as it is well composed.

I enjoyed my childhood and was brought back there by this magical time machine of a book. The characters were easy to relate to and the feeling I had while reading was similar to gathering with childhood friends. I found myself nodding my head as if chatting about my own experiences and feelings. I read portions of Bread Bags & Bullies out loud so my family could chuckle right along with me. Even my children who think the 80's is an ancient time enjoyed the dialogue between Herbie, Wally, and Cockroach.

This book is well written, well edited, and something any age reader will enjoy! Thank you Providence Book Promotions for the opportunity to participate in this book blog tour and thank you Steven Manchester for sharing your time and talent with all!


Read an excerpt:


FRIDAY

It was the afternoon of Friday 13th, the last day before February vacation. A whole week off from stupid middle school, I thought, excitedly.
From the moment I stepped onto the bus, the atmosphere felt electric, everyone happy for the much-needed winter break. Nena’s song, 99 Luftballoons, was playing on some concealed boom box in the back.
Many of the bus’s green fake leather bench seats were split and duct-taped. As I made my way down the narrow aisle in search of a seat, I heard the usual remarks offered to most eighth graders from the high school kids who’d already claimed their territory.
“You can’t sit here, dufus.”
“This seat’s taken.”
Even on such a joyous afternoon, I was quickly reminded that riding the bus was a hard kick in the teeth. It didn’t matter whether they were wearing black leather vests and chain wallets or Swatch watches and turned-up collars on their pastel IZOD Polo shirts, the high school kids were just plain mean.
As I made my way further down the line, the objections got even stronger.
“Oh, I don’t think so, dweeb.”
“If you even think about sitting, you dink, I’ll beat you to a pulp.”
Eat shit and die, I replied in my head, but never out loud.
I hated sitting with the nerds or the kids that smelled like spoiled lunchmeat, but after receiving enough rejections I began to wonder, Maybe the older kids see me the same way?
Although school had its social order, this mobile environment was even less forgiving. At a time in life when the mind is impressionable—constantly worrying about what others think of you, even about what you think of yourself—the bus’s sadistic hierarchy created scar tissue that would help to define many lives for years to come. It was a cruel testing ground for survival, where the tougher or more popular kids claimed the back of the bus. Those coveted seats were sacred territory that most of us spent years aspiring to. On the big, yellow school bus, physical threats were the least of our worries. This is psychological warfare, I realized early on.
Besides having to deal with the pecking order, there was incredible peer pressure to do things most of us would have never dreamed of doing—like distracting the elderly driver, Mr. Gifford. Given that the bus had no seat belts, this daily practice seemed pretty insane to me. I’d never actually seen Mr. Gifford’s eyes; the two narrow slits were usually squinting into the rear-view mirror. “Sit down!” he constantly yelled.
There was always the smell of smoke wafting from the back, though I was never really sure it was cigarette smoke. Usually, there were two kids making out—a boy and girl—and it wasn’t always the same couple. The bus had its own sub-culture, a microcosm of the twisted society we were growing up in.
It’s amazing Old Man Gifford can keep this giant bus on the road and not in one of the ditches we pass on our way home, I thought.
As I claimed my seat beside another outcast Junior High-Schooler, I spotted my brother, Wally, sitting toward the middle of the vessel. Wally had straight brown hair, serious brown eyes and the chunky Bloomfield nose. He looked like my father. Unfortunately, a terrible case of acne was in full bloom, taking away from his rugged handsome looks. Our eyes locked. I nodded toward him. Although he returned the gesture, he was much more subtle in his action. You’re such a butthead, I thought.
A cold breeze tapped me on the shoulder. It’s freezing in here, I realized, turning around to see that the windows were open in the back of the yellow torture chamber. As I turned, I caught a whiff of my bus mate. And thank God they’re open, I thought, trying to place the unusual smell. Fried Spam? I guessed, before noticing that the stinky kid was wearing a Smokey the Bear sweatshirt that read, Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires. I had to do a double-take. No way, I thought in disbelief, it looks like Beetlejuice, here, has a death wish…wearing a lame pullover like that. I’m surprised he doesn’t have a Just Say No campaign button pinned to the front of it. I chuckled aloud, drawing a look from my new best friend. I pity the fool, I thought, quoting Mr. T.—one of my favorite TV personalities—in my head.
I’d just popped my last Luden’s cherry cough drop into my mouth when I heard it. There was a commotion behind us, much louder than the usual raucous. What the hell? No sooner did I turn in my seat to investigate the ruckus when my heart plummeted past my stone-washed jeans straight into my worn Chuck Taylor high tops.
Owen Audet—the most feared enforcer on Bus 6—was standing toe-to-toe with Wally. He was more than a head taller than my poor brother. Oh no, I thought, Wally’s gotta be shittin’ bricks right now. I swallowed hard. I know I would be. Owen was big, dumb and mean—and heavy on the mean.
“I need to borrow another book,” the Missing Link barked, looming over my brother.
There were a few laughs from the bully’s brain-dead minions.
My mouth instantly went dry, while my heart began to race. Although my brother was on the “big-boned” side, built like a Sherman tank, he still looked so small next to Owen. That dude’s a Clydesdale, I thought, and Wally’s road pizza.
“Sor…sorry, but I can’t do it,” Wally refused, his voice three octaves higher than normal. Even though he sounded like a yipping dog, he somehow stood his ground.
Owen’s face turned beet red. He obviously didn’t appreciate being challenged in front of the crowd.
It’s Friday the 13th, I remembered, and Jason’s back.
Owen grabbed for Wally’s backpack, who pulled away violently.
“Ooooh,” the crowd groaned.
“You must be out of your damn mind, loser,” the aggressor hissed.
“I…I would be if…” Wally stuttered, looking like a terrified Kindergartner, “…if I let you take another book.”
I didn’t blame him. After the way Pop reacted the last time this same nightmare happened, I thought, Wally has no choice. My find quickly flashed back.

~~~

A month earlier, Owen had snatched one of Wally’s school books, opened the bus window and tossed it out—while everyone laughed nervously, hoping they weren’t next.
This could never happen to me, I realized, priding myself on the fact that I never took a book home. This wasn’t because I wasn’t supposed to, or didn’t need to. I’d simply decided early on that if the material couldn’t be learned in the classroom, there was no way I was going to “get it” at home.
When we got home, Wally explained that he’d been “bullied on the bus.”
Our father’s reaction was even worst than the crime Wally had reported. “Bullied?” Pop roared, addressing Wally, me and our little brother in the living room, “there’s no such thing as being bullied unless you allow it, right?” He didn’t wait for an answer. “Lions are not bullied by sheep,” he barked, “and I hope to God I’m not raising sheep!”
“Okay, Pop,” Wally mumbled at a little more than a whisper, “I get it.”
“There’s only one way to set a bully straight,” Pop added, staring my older brother in the eye.
Any one of us could have recited his next words by heart.
“Punch him square in the nose as hard as you can.”
“Walt!” my mother yelled from the kitchen, clearly opposed to the tough lesson.
Pop peered even harder into Wally’s eyes. “As hard as you can,” he repeated through gritted teeth.
Three heads nodded.
Message received, I thought, loud and clear. When teaching us, Pop never gently peeled back the onion. He always sliced it right down the middle, cutting straight to the bitter tears.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Wally had heard two earfuls over the missing book—not just from our father but from his teacher, as well. My brother had reported that his book was missing; that he’d lost it. It was better than the alternative. If he’d told the truth, it would have been so much worse. Owen would have been enraged and Wally’s classmates would have labeled him a stool pigeon. And Pop, well, Pop would have thought he was a coward—a fate worse than death itself.
Yup, it’s so much better to lie sometimes, I decided.

~~~

Back on the bus, the crowd grew louder. “Oooooh…” they sang in chorus; everyone was now up on their knees to witness the inevitable pummeling.
I’d always looked up to my brother. Now, I just felt bad for him.
As Owen’s jaw muscles flexed violently, his beady eyes darted back and forth—his baby brain clearly considering his options. He looked toward Mr. Gifford, whose squinted eyes were looking into the giant rear view mirror positioned directly above his head.
“You’re lucky, you little queer,” Owen spat at my brother.
Wally kept his ground. “Why don’t you pick on…on someone your own size?” he stammered.
I couldn’t believe my ears. It was like experiencing a scene from Karate Kid. Wally’s sticking up for himself, even though Magilla Gorilla’s threatening to bash his squash in. Although my brother had found the courage to stare the predator down, I knew he wasn’t crazy enough to accept the giant’s invitation to tussle.
Owen laughed, cynically. “Oh, you’re my bitch now,” he said, “and I’m gonna take care of you good when we get back from vacation. You got it, bitch?”
The crowd didn’t laugh this time; everyone feeling bad for Wally. It could be any one of us at any time, I thought. Owen was an equal opportunity bully who didn’t discriminate.
“I’m gonna beat you down,” Owen promised Wally, “and it’s gonna be like that for the rest of the year.” He chuckled. “And next year, too.” By now, his putrid breath was inches from my brother’s crimson face, spittle flying with every terrifying word he spouted.
I’d never felt so freaked out, and the scumbag wasn’t even talking to me. I don’t know how Wally’s staying on his feet, I thought, proud that my brother’s eyes never left Owen’s.
As the bus screeched to a stop in front of our house, Wally turned to leave. The brakes weren’t done squealing when Owen pushed him in the back, collapsing him to the filthy floor.
Eyes wide, Wally looked up from his prone position.
“Say one word,” Owen growled, “and I’ll kick your friggin’ teeth in right here.”
Wally scrambled to his feet and glared at him again before marching off the bus, hyperventilating from either fear or anger. Most likely both, I figured.
As the bus’s folding door closed and the air brakes belched out a sigh, I turned to Wally. “Do you think the Sleestak will actually…” I began to ask.
“Shut your damn mouth before I kick your teeth in!” he barked.
“Well, okay then,” I mumbled. My big brother was a master of wedgies and Indian sunburns, with years of experience under his belt. I hope you get yours after vacation, I thought.

As we entered the house, Ma was at the stove, making a vat of hot dog stew. “How was everyone’s day?” the short woman asked. She had the kindest eyes and most loving smile—except on those moody days when she’d eaten a bowl of spiders for breakfast.
“Just great,” Wally said, storming toward our bedroom.
“Better than his,” I said, pointing at my brother.
Wally stopped at our bedroom’s plastic accordion door, spinning on his heels to stare me into silence.
The menacing look worked. “I had a good day,” I told my mother, prepared to quell any questions she might have. “Mr. Timmons, my science teacher, nearly choked to death on an apple in class today,” I told her, laughing.
“And you think that’s funny, Herbie?” she asked, disgustedly.
I shrugged. “You would have too, Ma, if you’d been there,” I told her. “He was just starting to turn blue when he coughed it out.”
“Dear God,” she said, “that’s enough. I don’t want to hear another word about it.”
I smiled. Mission accomplished, I thought, knowing there was no way she’d remember my comment about Wally. “Oh, and we’re on vacation all next week,” I reminded her.
“I know, I know,” she said, her face incapable of concealing her disappointment. “When Alphonse gets home, I want the three of you to clean up that pig sty you call a bedroom.”
“Why would we clean it now, before vacation week?” I asked. “It doesn’t make sense, Ma. We’re only going to mess it up all week.”
“Because I said so, that’s why.” She stared at me for a moment. “If you want, I can have your father…”
“Fine,” I quickly surrendered, “we’ll get started when Cockroach gets home from school.”
My younger brother was still in elementary school and took a later bus. I have a half hour to play Atari, I thought, and that new Donkey Kong game is mint.

The Atari gaming system was the best Christmas gift my brothers and I had ever received. Although I’d begged for Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, Ma adamantly refused. “Not on your life,” she told me, “the last thing you guys need is more encouragement to fight.” Instead, we received a much better—and completely unexpected—Christmas present.
The Atari 2600 came with two joystick controllers with red buttons, a conjoined pair of paddle controllers, and black game cartridges that looked a lot like Pop’s 8-track tapes.

Wally stormed out of the room just as I was entering.
“Where are you heading?” I asked.
“To do my paper route.”
“Can I come with you?”
“No.”
“Come on, Wally,” I said. “I can help you and…”
“I said no,” he barked. “Besides, I need to hurry today and get it done quick.”
“Why?”
“None of your business.” He stepped through the kitchen, heading for the front door.
“Be back for supper,” my mother told him.
“I will, Ma,” he said, walking out of the house and slamming the door behind him.
“What’s wrong with Wally today?” my mother called out, just as I was starting to control the block-headed ape on the black-and-white TV screen.
Nice try, Ma, I thought, confident that I’d never make the same mistake twice. “He’s just wiggin’ to get his paper route done, so he can veg out tonight,” I told her. “The Dukes of Hazzard are on and he’s in love with Daisy.” I smiled, thinking, We all are.
“Well, there’ll be no Dukes of Hazzard, if you boys don’t get that room cleaned up.”
“We’ll get it done, Ma,” I yelled from the bedroom. “Me and Cockroach will tackle it when the space cadet gets home.”
I returned my attention to the TV screen, and began jumping barrels with my two-dimensional video ape.

Our bedroom door opened and closed like a cheap accordion, catching Cockroach’s fingers within its folds. “Ouch!” he yelled out.
I laughed. I couldn’t help it. In fact, each time my little brother screamed out in pain, Wally and I laughed like it was the first time he’d ever hurt himself. Cockroach’s injuries never get old, I thought.
As soon as he stopped his belly-aching, Cockroach and I went straight to work. “Either that,” I told him, “or Ma won’t let us watch Dukes of Hazzard.”
“She wouldn’t do that,” he said.
I shrugged. “You wanna risk it?”
“What about Wally?” he asked. “Isn’t he gonna help us?”
“He’s on his paper route.” I thought about it, surprised that I still felt bad for my older brother. “Let’s just get it done, you little cabbage patch kid.”
He flipped me the bird.
Our bedroom consisted of single bed and a set of bunkbeds that was also used as a fort, a spaceship, or anything our cross-wired brains could conjure up—with a bed sheet draped down from the top bunk. There were two bureaus, Cockroach’s padlocked toy box and a small black-and-white TV that sat on a rickety fake wooden stand, the Atari console and joysticks lying in front on the shag carpeted floor. Three beanbag chairs helped to complete the cluttered room.
Cleaning was not as simple as it sounded. Not long ago, Ma had insisted, “You guys are gross and, from now on, you’ll be doing your own laundry and making your own beds.” I had KISS bedding that once belonged to Wally. Although Cockroach liked to pretend he was sleeping on Star Wars bedding, he enjoyed my hand-me-down astronaut set. It wasn’t easy changing the bedding on a bunkbed, but we finally got it done.
For the next hour, while we put away clothes and moved things around—mostly kicking everything under the beds—Steven Tyler from Aerosmith wailed away on Cockroach’s massive silver boom box. Although we each owned a portable stereo system, Cockroach’s was in the best shape. He takes good care of his stuff, I thought, in case he ever wants to unload it to the highest bidder. It was in pristine condition, with no stickers or corroded battery compartment,. He barely used it, so this was a treat.
When we were done straightening up, I turned to Cockroach. “Looks schweet, huh?”
He nodded in agreement. Without a proper inspection, the place looked immaculate—or at least as clean as it had been in a very long time. “Schweet,” he repeated.
It was amazing to me how different my brothers were. Being stuck in the middle of them, I usually played the family diplomat. Cockroach’s real name was Alphonse, after our Pepere—but we always called him Cockroach. I wasn’t sure if it was because of the way he scurried about, or because no matter how badly Wally and I beat on him we couldn’t seem to kill him. I learned later on that he’d actually been nicknamed after a character on one of Pop’s favorite TV shows, Hogan’s Heroes.
Cockroach was more like a skeleton wrapped in olive skin, while I was built on the sturdy side like my older brother. Although we also shared the small potato-shaped nose, I had blue eyes with curly blonde hair, which made more than a few people confuse me for a girl when I was young. Cockroach had darker eyes and a nose as slender as his build, making him appear like the one piece that didn’t quite fit into the family portrait.
“What do you want to play?” he asked me once we’d finished cleaning. His deep dimples framed a grin that was sure to make most females crane their necks.
“We could play with your Stretch Armstrong doll,” I teased.
His handsome face went white.
I laughed, remembering that ridiculously violent day.

~~~

My brothers and I had enjoyed a few rare days of peace, until turning into our usual slugfest. During the melee, Wally grabbed Cockroach’s Stretch Armstrong doll, who ended up getting the worst of it.
Wearing blue bikini underwear, the bare-chested, blonde-haired rubber doll could take a real thrashing. We could stretch him and even tie him into a knot before he went back to his original bulky form. Whether catapulted high into the air or used as the rope in a heated tug of war match, the action figure was reputed to be indestructible.
Screaming for mercy, Cockroach watched on in horror, while Wally and I put that poor doll to the test. We pulled and pulled, both of us ending up on our backsides, digging in our heels to create more distance between us.
As the first break in the skin revealed itself, Cockroach cried out, “You’re hurting him!”
That’s when something came over me and Wally—who was also known as the Mangler. We pulled harder, mutilating Mr. Armstrong beyond recognition and dispelling the fact that he couldn’t be destroyed. As Wally and I finished ripping the arms off of old Stretch, a clear gel that looked a lot like Crazy Glue oozed out.
“No!” Cockroach wailed.
“That’s weird,” Wally commented, nonchalantly, “the jelly doesn’t have any smell.”
Inconsolable, Cockroach went down on all fours to mourn the death of his favorite playmate.

~~~

“You guys suck,” Cockroach said, back in the present.
I couldn’t argue with him. Our job as big brothers is to toughen you up, I thought, justifying the cruel act. I then realized that Wally the Mangler destroyed everything in his path. The new Merlin six-in-one hand-held electronic game I’d gotten for Christmas a couple of years ago, the table-top motorcycle game he unwrapped last year…everything.
“You want to play Operation?” Cockroach asked me.
“Nah.”
“Perfection?”
“Half the pieces are missing,” I reminded him.
“Battleship?”
I shook my head. “Can’t, the batteries are dead.” I smiled. “What about Twister?”
“No way,” he said, “it just turns into a pig pile with me on the bottom.”
I laughed. That’s right.
His eyes went wide with excitement. “What about G.I. Joe’s, Herbie?” he asked. “We haven’t played war in a long time.”
I was well beyond the cusp of being too old to play soldier, but making Cockroach happy was the perfect excuse for me to play. It’s the least I can do after helping to murder Stretch Armstrong, I thought. Besides, war is not an individual sport.

Wally and I had received the entire G.I. Joe Command Center a few years earlier when we’d both gotten our tonsils removed. “It’s for all three of you to share,” our mother had announced, referring to the large gift. In recent months, Cockroach claimed the cool play set as his own, and we were good with it.
It didn’t take long for my little brother to set up everything on the floor we’d just cleared. The grey G.I. Joe Headquarters Command Center was walled in the front and wide open in the back, allowing for the tank to drive in and out of its bay, and the Jeep to enter the Motor Pool. Multiple G.I. Joe action figures manned the communication tactical station with colorful stickers illustrating the security monitors. An armory, filled with weapons, was located directly beneath the Heli-Pad—home to the awesome Dragonfly Helicopter. A holding cell for captured enemies was normally empty—as Cockroach and I rarely took enemies—while machine guns and canons defended strategic positions on top of the spot-lit wall.
For the next hour or so, we fought—and defeated—battalions of imaginary enemies.
“Come in, Flying Squirrel,” I called into a damaged walkie-talkie, “this is Swamp Yankee. How copy, over?”
“I read you, Swamp Yankee,” Cockroach called back on his matching broken walkie-talkie. “The enemy has been neutralized.”
I laughed. Cockroach is too smart for his age, I thought. It must be from all the TV he watches. It didn’t really matter that our walkie talkies had been broken since we’d gotten them. We were kneeling side-by-side only a few feet apart.
“So you really like this girl, Donna Torres, huh?” Cockroach commented, parking the Jeep in front of our perimeter.
I wheeled the tank through the Headquarters compound. “Like totally,” I said, never looking up. Donna’s different, I thought, she’s beautiful. Most girls aren’t too hard to look at, but Donna’s in a class all her own.
“Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up,” Cockroach joked, mimicking the funny commercial of an elderly woman pushing a panic button on her necklace.
That’s clever, bro, I thought. After a few moments of tank patrol, I blurted, “I think she’s the one.”
Chuckling, my little brother took the plastic helicopter into the air. “Sure she is, Herbie. You said the same thing about Abby Gerwitz last summer.”
He’s right, I thought. For as long as I could remember, I had a huge crush on Abby Gerwitz. But who hasn’t? I thought. “She likes Richard Giles and everyone knows it,” I told him, and because of that my feelings for her had died a very cruel death. “Donna’s the one,” I repeated, hammering my point home.
Cockroach stopped playing. “Have you told her?” he asked, giving me his undivided attention.
“Sort of.”
“Sort of?”
For weeks, I couldn’t stop thinking about exchanging valentines with Donna; giving her those small chalk hearts that said everything I didn’t have the courage to tell her: Be Mine and I Love You. I decided that these colorful messages of affection were much safer to give than a greeting card or a box of chocolates. But what if she doesn’t like me? I kept thinking, torturing myself. I’ll be a laughing stock at school. I began getting heated, picturing Paul Roberts laughing at me, and then me punching his smug face over-and-over-and-over again. Even young, I sensed that love never went unpunished.
On Valentine’s Day, I got to homeroom early and left a box of the chalk hearts in Donna’s desk. I signed the gift, From Herbie. While my heart pounded out of my chest, I watched from the back of the room as she found the candy. She looked back at me and smiled. “Thank you,” she said, and I nodded—my face feeling like it was on fire.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that Donna had never gotten the real message I was trying to send.
“I gave her a Valentine’s,” I explained to Cockroach, “but I’m not sure if she thinks I gave it to her as a friend.”
“Oh…” He thought for a moment. “That’s pretty lame.”
“What do you know?” I snapped back. Cockroach was still too young to understand the risk and devastation associated with being rejected by a girl—especially a girl as perfect as Donna. It was like being picked for teams in gym class; no big deal unless you were picked last. And you only have so many shots in Middle School, I thought. If you’re rejected by more than one girl, then you’re destined to be stuck in Loserville for life.
“So what are you going to do?” he asked, bringing me back into the moment.
“I think I’m going to write her a letter.”
“Really?”
“No question.”
While we played, I began to daydream about my crush. I could picture Donna as plain as the bearded G.I. Joe doll I was holding.

Donna’s so choice, I thought. She had the prettiest chocolate-colored eyes and a smile that made me feel like I was the only eighth-grade boy walking the earth. Every day at school, she either wore Jordache or Sergio Valente jeans; these were skin-tight right down to a pair of jelly shoes or clogs. Unlike most of the other girls who wore big hair with bangs—mall hair, as we called it— or tied up in a scrunchy, Donna’s dirty blonde hair was parted in the middle and feathered back. Just like Farah Fawcett on Charlie’s Angels, I thought. She usually wore a shirt with shoulder pads and her jewelry was simple; gel bracelets and friendship beads. I’d only seen her in leg warmers and a colorful headband once, realizing she’d look good no matter what she wore.
Yup, I thought, I definitely have to write her a letter. It’s the only way she’ll ever know that I…

“Herbie!” I heard someone scream.
I looked up. Cockroach was gone and I was sitting on the floor alone. Wow, that’s weird, I thought.
“Herbie!” I heard again, struggling to register reality.
It’s Ma, I realized. “Sorry, Ma, I didn’t hear you.”
“How could you not hear me? I’ve been yelling for you for ten minutes.”
Now there’s an exaggeration, I thought. “Sorry, Ma,” I repeated.
“Your father’s home from work. Go get cleaned up for supper.”
“Okay.”
“Now,” she said.

When I pulled my chair out from the kitchen table, Pop was already sitting at the head of it—wearing his faded dungarees and graying crew-neck t-shirt. Thankfully, his same-colored handkerchief—used to blow his nose and then yank out our loose teeth, sometimes one right after the other—remained in his back pocket.
Wally was also there, his face ruddy from the cold.
“How was school today?” Pop asked, blowing on his hot bowl of stew.
“Fine,” Wally mumbled, his eyes on his steaming meal.
“Good,” I added, “we’re on vacation next week.”
The old man looked across the table at Ma. “Lucky Mom,” he said, grinning.
“And we cleaned our room,” Cockroach reported.
“Well, what do you know,” he said, “it’s a winter miracle.”
For the next half hour, besides the occasional grunt or groan, we ate in silence. “Lots of hot dogs tonight,” Pop commented, dunking a slice of buttered bread into his bowl. “Did we hit the lottery or something?”
Ma grinned. “They were on sale, Walt.”
As they discussed the expensive price of groceries, my mind drifted off again. I couldn’t help it. I don’t even care that Donna has a crush on Kevin Bacon, I thought, shrugging to myself. All those hearts on her Trapper Keeper, with his initials written inside each one—who cares. I inhaled deeply. I love it when she wears that Luvs Baby Soft perfume. I could actually smell the liquid baby powder when I closed my eyes. Ahhhh…
“I’m done,” Wally announced loudly, bringing me back to the table. After placing the plastic bowl into the sink, my brother grabbed his heavy winter jacket and put it on.
“Where are you going now?” Ma asked him.
“The cellar,” he said.
“Good,” she said, getting up. “Why don’t you throw a load of towels into the wash while you’re down there?”
Although Wally’s face contorted, he nodded in surrender. “Fine, Ma.”
Within seconds, she was back in the kitchen with an overflowing laundry basket of mismatched towels.
“Bo and Luke Duke are on tonight,” Cockroach reminded him.
“I’ll be back by then,” Wally said, wrestling the bulky basket out the front door.
My father was finishing his second bowl of soup when he asked, “What the hell’s he do down there, anyway?”
“Laundry,” Ma said, standing to fetch him another bowl of stew.

At eight o’clock, Wally, Cockroach and I watched our favorite show—the Dukes of Hazzard. While we sat entranced by Bo and Luke’s unrealistic car jumps in the General Lee—as well as Daisy’s really short cut-off jeans—Ma treated us to our favorite Friday treat: hand-cut French fries, salted and shaken in a brown paper bag. There’s no better snack on a Friday night, I thought. Hold the vinegar, please.
Once the show was done, the TV belonged to Ma—who watched Dallas at nine o’clock, immediately followed by Falcon Crest. For two full hours, she snubbed out one cigarette butt after the next into a giant ashtray that rested atop its decorative wrought iron stand right beside the couch. In no time, the living room was engulfed in smoke, a low-clinging fog that had quietly crept in. While Pop snored on and off in his worn recliner—a half-empty beer can in hand—my brothers and I decided to call it a night. We’d already second-hand smoked a full pack that day.

My brothers and I wrapped up the night with a lively game of Atari Pong.
Cockroach preferred the longer paddles, while I was a bit more skilled and liked the shorter rectangles. I loved it. With virtual reality, there was much less need for actual reality.

Once Cockroach turned out the light and we retired to our beds, I called out to Wally, “Goodnight, John-boy…”
My big brother normally responded like we were part of the Walton Family, but there was no reply tonight. There was no laughter—just silence.
It suddenly hit me. Wally’s still buggn’ out, I thought, realizing that my brother’s fear was so great that it was swallowing him whole. All because of that bullshit on the bus today. I shook my head. He just needs to take a chill pill. I mean, we’re off for an entire week.

---

Excerpt from Bread Bags & Bullies: Surviving the '80s by Steven Manchester. Copyright © 2019 by Steven Manchester. Reproduced with permission from Steven Manchester. All rights reserved.


Author Bio:

Steven ManchesterSteven Manchester is the author of the #1 bestsellers Twelve Months, The Rockin' Chair, Pressed Pennies and Gooseberry Island; the national bestsellers, Ashes, The Changing Season and Three Shoeboxes; and the multi-award winning novels, Goodnight Brian and The Thursday Night Club. His work has appeared on NBC's Today Show, CBS's The Early Show, CNN's American Morning and BET's Nightly News. Three of Steven's short stories were selected “101 Best” for Chicken Soup for the Soul series. He is a multi-produced playwright, as well as the winner of the 2017 Los Angeles Book Festival and the 2018 New York Book Festival. When not spending time with his beautiful wife, Paula, or their four children, this Massachusetts author is promoting his works or writing.

Find Steven Manchester Online:

StevenManchester.com | Goodreads | BookBub | Twitter | Facebook


Tour Host Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!




GIVEAWAY!!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for Steven Manchester. There will be 7 winners. Two (2) winners will each receive an Amazon GC and five (5) winners will each win one (1) copy of Bread Bags & Bullies: Surviving the '80s by Steven Manchester (eBook). The giveaway begins on November 1, 2019 and runs through January 2, 2020. Void where prohibited.
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Monday, December 2, 2019

Tara Forst Recommends Reading "Made to be Broken" by Hugh Fritz

Flarence knows that Genies are supposed to help their masters by granting wishes, but he’s never been comfortable taking orders. To him, pummeling bad guys with magically enhanced weaponry feels like a much better way to use his powers.

Darren is a gangster who wants to leave his reckless life behind so he can focus on providing for his family. Unfortunately, there are people in the neighborhood who won’t let him move on.

Soleil is a humble man who tries to lead a passive lifestyle. In times of peace or times of war, he can be found cleaning his cafe or singing along with rock-’n’-roll tunes while tending to his houseplants.

Darren, Soleil, and Flarence will have to work together and step outside their comfort zones when a rogue Genie and a hot-headed police officer threaten the lives of their loved ones. Flarence will be challenged to work with a criminal, Soleil will be forced to leave his sanctuary and act to help his friends, and Darren will face the possibility that being a gentle and caring family man may not be an option for him.

Print Length: 264  Pages
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Golden Word Books
ASIN: B07RGX8VR3
ISBN-10: 1948749432
ISBN-13: 978-1948749435

Made to be Broken is now available to purchase on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and IndieBound.



About the Author
Hugh Fritz is a fan of monsters, mad scientists, sorcerers, and anything that involves being with incredible powers beating each other senseless. After years of writing research papers, he decided it was time to give reality a rest and let his imagination run wild. This is his first book, and it has been an illuminating experience making the transition from reader to author.

He was born in Chicago where he spent most of his life until moving to the Southwest in 2015. He finds inspiration bouncing ideas off other novelists in a critique group, but hours of television and finding the right songs to put him in the writing mood play an important role as well. He has no plans to end the Genies' adventures here, so be on the lookout for more magical mischief in the next book of the Mystic Rampage series.

Find Hugh Fritz online:

Twitter
https://twitter.com/HughFritz1

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/Stories-by-Hugh-Fritz-397896477228957/

Author's Website: http://www.hughfritz.com/

***** 5 STAR REVIEW *****
Review by Tara Forst

I can say without a doubt that Made to be Broken is one of the best books I have read in the past few years. This book brought forth a whole new premise to genies and what has formerly been written about them. The stark contrast between the real life drama of living amongst and being a part of the local gang scene and the fantasy world of magic and magicians and genies was absolutely intriguing.

The characters were all unique and realistic (even the genies) each complete with their own strengths and weaknesses. I especially enjoyed the character nicknamed "razor punk." She was so edgy and cool, though she was a secondary character I loved reading about her journey along the way. Tyrell the main character was a wonderful example of a normal teen. Darren is a good father who happened to be a part of a gang which causes issues throughout the entire book. The genies Soeil and Flarence were brothers who are so different and take very different approaches to utilizing their magical powers, but still maintain their brotherly bond and help each other out when they can.

This book is definitely a "page turner." You could never predict what would happen next. One minute Darren is in jail for a crime he didn't commit, the next he is broken out by his sons genie and all evidence of the arrest erased, or his son is kidnapped and suddenly rescued by his genies brother. When Darren was dying from a gunshot wound and his sons genie then "enchants" him (Making Darren a genie) that really threw me for a loop.

All in all this is an exquisite cross between a sci-fi/fantasy/thriller that would be a great read for anyone.



December 4th @ Author Anthony Avina
Author Anthony Avina interviews Hugh Fritz about Made to be Broken - the first book of the Mystic Rampage series.
https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/




*****THANK YOU WOW! WOMEN ON WRITING*****

About today's reviewer:
Tara Forst lives in Wisconsin with her husband and their young son. Tara owns her own business: Worn Forever - dedicated to helping mamas with babywearing and attachment parenting.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Don't Wait...

I struggled for a long time about sharing this story, but I believe some good may come of it. Imagine yourself with a nursing baby in your arms. You are young, healthy, vibrant, and feel no different than you did in highschool. You spend your days raising babies, working, loving, and living! You schedule your yearly exam but this year it's with a new caregiver because yours has moved away. You have a babysitter come to take care of the children and you head off for what you expect to be a quick exam.

The same smiling faces greet you at the clinic, and the new caregiver is incredibly sweet and knowledgeable. A few moments into the meeting, she explains she has carefully reviewed your records and you are past due for a colonoscopy. Just the sound of that procedure sends you to a dark place. You recall too clearly being a tween and learning your father had colon cancer. You were always under the impression you had until 50 before you needed screening.

"Well, I can't force you to have it done, but you really should."

"Are you sure about that?"

"Why don't you schedule an appointment with Gastroenterology and they can better advise you?"

"I suppose - that can't hurt, but I don't really want to go down this road. I have no symptoms."

The rest of the appointment went as you'd expect. You get home and laugh about the ridiculous idea with your husband. You push off the Gastro appointment as long as possible because you are sure your new caregiver has mis-information and you are indeed too young for anything like a colonoscopy. In fact, someone recently commented how you look like you are only 20-something.

The Gastroenterology department agrees with the OB/GYN and next thing you know you are scheduling a colonoscopy. Your head is spinning. You are suddenly 12 years old listening to your parents explain chemo, radiation, DNR orders, and eventually funeral plans. You are in a VERY ugly place. You try to cancel the appointment but your husband won't let you. Your neighbor won't let you.

The day of the procedure you can't even think. Be real - you haven't been able to concentrate for weeks. God is good though - he gives you a nurse who is also a friend and fellow farmer. She puts your mind at ease and the last thing you remember before the procedure is her promise she will be with you the entire time.

The procedure wasn't the scary part. The results are what terrifies you and yet - there's a part of you who is convinced they will find nothing and you'll laugh because you were right, you're too young for this type of medical concern.

YOU
WERE
NOT
RIGHT

...

Had you canceled that test, had you refused that test, had you waited...the outcome would have been very different.

YOU
WERE
NOT
RIGHT

...

The nurses and physician kept commenting about how happy they were you came in when you did. You, with your symptom free youthful life had not one, but TWO polyps removed from your colon. The second one was over 1cm and had stalks growing off of it. Let that sink in...

YOU
WERE
NOT
RIGHT

They took them out and you went home to hug your children, milk your cows, and resume your lifestyle. Knowledge is power. Now you know - you have to go often and have more colonoscopies - but you caught it early, because a stranger cared enough to read your chart and educate you about the current recommendations based on your family history.

I'm sharing this story, not because I'm anything or anyone special - but because there are more people just like me out there - they are waiting, doubting, unaware this common type of cancer can be prevented by early detection. They don't want to talk about their colon. They heard the preparation for a colonoscopy is uncomfortable.

Well - let me tell you this:
Don't wait! Whatever your excuse is - don't wait! The preparation isn't fun by any means, but it's not as bad as the flu, and life is too precious - YOU are too precious to wait.

May your paths be filled with an abundance of lemons, sugar, sunshine, and moments that remind you how precious each breath is!

xoxox
Crystal

Special thank you to Holy Family Memorial in Manitowoc, Wisconsin - specifically Kay Vogel, Jennifer Weier, Jeremy Anclam, and Doreen Krause.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Tara Forst gives "Welcome to Maravilla" 5 Stars!

Thank you WOW! Women on Writing for including this blog and our young reviewer in this book blog tour.

Please contact WOW!  today to reserve your copy and participate in this tour. If you've never participated in a tour, feel free to inquire and you will receive a copy of this book to read and review for yourself! (crystal@wow-womenonwriting .   com )



***************************************************************************



The tiny hamlet of Maravilla, New Mexico is not immune to modern-day problems. But the citizens of Maravilla have their own special problems, as well:

A developer wants to build a Christian-themed amusement park next to Maravilla’s historic church.

The county line runs right through the town, splitting it in two.

And the government is threatening to close their post office!

Into this muddle steps Jake Epstein, a young writer from the big city. Jake is seeking peace and quiet to finish his current project: a science fiction story in which adventuress Tai-Keiko must deliver the secret formula for Zeton-9—with the evil Krossarians in hot pursuit.

But then reality and science fiction converge—and Tai-Keiko finds herself in present-day Maravilla, face to face with a gobsmacked Jake.

Join Jake on this comic run along the dusty roads of Maravilla, and find out who won the fight between Father Ignatius and the heathen pig farmer. How a basketball game changed the fate of the town. And was that white flash in the sky a UFO?

Print Length: 195 Pages
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Beeline Press (June 19, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1645400646
ISBN-13: 978-1645400646

Welcome to Maravilla is now available to purchase on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and IndieBound.

***** 5 STAR REVIEW  *****
by Tara Forst
I found Welcome to Maravilla to be a very fun and fast read. While I’m not usually a fan of science fiction, the blend between that and realism that R. Douglas Clark demonstrated in this book makes it for everyone!

I absolutely love the characters Clark has created. Each and every one was unique, quirky and lovable (in their own special way). I think this was the part of the story I loved the most. Sometimes for me characters are just blank faces with a name attached, but in this story I felt like I could actually picture Archie’s haggard appearance, I could see Tai-Keiko’s unique/alien traits transforming before my eyes. I could even smell Paloma’s perfume and hear flirtatious laugh as she spoke with Aurelio VI (I’m a sucker for romances).

While this book has many different events happening at the same time (Jake writing his book, the town trying to save the post office, the father trying to save the church, Tai-Keiko traveling through space (plus a ton of other things going on), I still found it very easy to keep up with all of the happenings and enjoyed each “separate” story until they all reached their apex near the end of the story. Truly, that pattern of jumping back and forth really kept me engrossed in the book so much so , that I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next.

Truly this book would be for anyone of any age and any genre preference. It has something for everyone, and I personally can’t wait to read Clark’s next book!



About Today's Guest Reviewer, Tara Forst:

Tara Forst lives in Wisconsin with her husband and their young son. Tara owns her own business: Worn Forever - dedicated to helping mamas with babywearing and attachment parenting.











About R. Douglas Clark
R. Douglas Clark was born in Vermont, grew up in Colorado, attended college in Chicago, and received a Master's degree in music from Brown University. Seeing no future for himself in academia, he spent a year in the Oregon woods, living in a primitive cabin, writing music reviews and cultural commentary for magazines and newspapers. Next stop, Eugene, Oregon where he spent 20 damp years as a bootstrap businessman, father and musician. On a vacation trip, he and his wife, Shelley, fell in love with sunny northern New Mexico and subsequently moved there. After four years running Boys and Girls Clubs in Chimayó and Abiquiú--and another four, running a U-pick raspberry farm--he retired to write fiction full time.

Find R. Douglas online: https://www.rdouglasclark.com/