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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Unique Mother Daughter Relationships - guest post by Sara Connell & Giveaway of Bringing in Finn

Join me as I welcome Sara Connell and her touching memoir, Bringing in Finn! First, let's hear from Sara about Unique Mother Daughter Relationships and then you'll find the giveaway for her memoir, Bringing in Finn ... and beneath that is a book summary and author biography.Thank you WOW! Women on Writing for today's book blog tour.


“Unique Mother Daughter Relationships”
Sara Connell

I read a book once that outlined a variety of different Mother archetypes: the nurturing mother, the supportive mother, the selfless mother, the narcissistic mother, the co-dependent mother, the jealous mother, the abandoning mother, the devouring mother.
My own mother was most like the “selfless mother”.  She put her children first, built forts, sponsored original plays and let us use (break, mess up) anything at all in the house in service of creative play. Still, we had a few areas—blind spots, I’ve heard them called—where we seemed to disconnect. In comparison to my sisters, particularly, I often felt rejected and less wanted. The problem seemed to be something to do with my own being—my personality. I was too sensitive; too something; too much. 
In reaction to this, I went through a phase where I constantly sought approval—and then (when that seemed to fail), I distanced myself when I moved abroad with my husband. During this time, I voraciously inhaled scores of mother-daughter books—memoir, fiction, essay, young adult. I was fascinated by the searing, complicated, portrayals of these relationships and the undeniable, magnetic love that underpinned them.
One month, near the end of my time abroad, I went to an author named Carolyn Myss speak about relationships. She stood behind a podium that dwarfed her small frame and spoke about “sacred contracts” between parents and children, mothers and daughters.  “Regardless of your wishes or desires,” she said, “imagine that your mother was perfect, that she played the exact role you BOTH agreed to together. Imagine that you made an agreement to be exactly the way you were and that the agreement was made for something good.
I sat in the audience with my pen frozen over the paper I’d brought to take notes.I knew with certainty that at the core of my mother and my relationship was love. But I did not know how to reconcile this with the sense of “otherness” and rejection I had often felt as a child and teen. I didn’t know what to think about the idea of a pre-incarnation powwow, and certainly didn’t know what I thought of the idea that rejection and hurt and hurt could be a gift in a relationship.
But the week after that talk, I called my mother—and suddenly the distance embargo I’d created out of my need to find my adult voice and  heal, was gone. In the four years that followed, my mother and I forged a new bond. Adult woman to adult woman, we visited frequently and shared with each other our dreams and our fears. We became vulnerable.
And then, when my mother watched me not get pregnant and lose twins and experience a miscarriage and not get pregnant again, an idea came into her heart. She’d heard of a post-menopausal woman becoming pregnant. Each of her pregnancies had been effortless for her—and, she realized, her greatest times of joy. She had been searching for something meaningful and fulfilling to do in her retirement. So, in a tremulous letter, not knowing if the idea would be received with openness or disgust, she offered to be the surrogate for our child. 
Two years later, my biological son, Finnean, was born, delivered by C-section at thirty-nine weeks by my then-sixty-year-old mother.
I don’t know if our years of misunderstanding served some good, or if they were simply a result of not knowing a better way to express the love we really felt for one another. My mother has said she was only able to make the offer of surrogacy because of the solidity of our relationship—because, after those foundational new years of adult connection, our connection had become tenacious and strong. 
It is hard to know if our relationship is better for having gone through a time of distance and reconnection, like a bone that is broken and heals, stronger than it was before. But I know that our relationship is richer and deeper because of the journey we took. And I know with certitude that it is sacred. If there is a gift in those years of misunderstanding, it is knowing in a visceral way, that change is possible, and to appreciate (in a way that perhaps I would not have without the contrast) the profoundness and sweetness of real, unconditional mother love- a love that now -from both my mother and myself, is our legacy for Finn.

Bringing in Finn is an incredibly moving story of surrogacy and how it created a bond like no other between a mother and daughter.

In February 2011, 61-year-old Kristine Casey delivered the greatest gift of all to her daughter, Sara Connell: Sara’s son, Finnean. At that moment, Kristine—the gestational carrier of Sara and her husband Bill’s child—became the oldest woman ever to give birth in Chicago. Bringing in Finn: An Extraordinary Surrogacy Story tells this modern family’s remarkable surrogacy story.

After trying to conceive naturally without success, Sara and her husband Bill dedicated years to a variety of fertility treatments—but after Sara lost a third pregnancy (including the loss of twins at twenty-two weeks), they started to give up their hope. When Kristine offered to be their surrogate, they were shocked; but Kristine was clear that helping Sara become a mother felt like a calling, something she felt inspired to do.

In this achingly honest memoir, Connell recounts the tragedy and heartbreak of losing pregnancies; the process of opening her heart and mind to the idea of her sixty-one-year-old mother carrying her child for her; and the profound bond that blossomed between mother and daughter as a result of their unique experience together.

Moving, inspiring, and ultimately triumphant, Bringing in Finnis an extraordinary tale of despair, hope, forgiveness, and redemption—and the discovery that when it comes to unconditional love, there are no limits to what can be achieved.

Paperback: 336 Pages
Publisher: Seal Press (October 8, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1580055419
ISBN-13: 978-1580055413
Twitter hashtag: #BIFinn

About the Author:

Sara Connell is an author, speaker, and life coach with a private practice in Chicago. She has appeared on Oprah, Good Morning America, NPR, The View, FOX News and Katie Couric. Sara's writing has been featured in: The New York TimesGood HousekeepingParenting,PsychobabbleEvolving Your Spirit, and Mindful Metropolismagazines. Her first book, Bringing in Finn: an Extraordinary Surrogacy Story (Sept 4, 2012 Seal Press), was nominated for Book of the Year 2012 by Elle magazine.

Sara’s Website:
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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Book Review: Skeleton's Key by Stacy Green

Book Review: Skeleton’s Key by Stacy Green

By Crystal J. Casavant-Otto
Earlier this year I stumbled across a book with a most beautiful cover. The cover of Stacy Green’s Tin God drew me to the book and her writing was absolutely captivating. Green has a talent for making characters come to life but also describes places and buildings with such depth and detail they come to life for the reader. I wanted to know more about Green and definitely wanted to read more of her books. I added myself to her mailing list and offered to become an early reader for future works. Green is now working toward the release of Skeleton’s Key and I am tickled pink to say that I was one of the first to read it. Because I had been so captivated with Tin God I knew I would either love or hate Skeleton’s Key. Green did not disappoint and I can honestly say I love Skeleton’s Key as much as I loved Tin God. You can read Skeleton’s Key as a standalone story or read Tin God first (both books are part of Green’s Delta Crossroads Series).

Skeleton’s Key takes place in the lovely Roselea, Mississippi. This thriller is rich with history and the way Green describes the area and the architecture the reader easily feels as if they have stood on the lovely marble floors of the historic Ironwood Plantation and gazed up the staircase. Green does not bore the reader with details simply to fill the page; the details and descriptions she offers bring the story to life and enhance the reading experience.

The handsome and chivalrous Cage Foster is introduced early on in Skeleton’s Key as he braves the stench and cobwebs of the plantation’s cellar. What he would find will shock you and keep you at the edge of your seat waiting to see what happens next. As with any thriller, there is just enough sexual attraction and tension to keep things interesting (after all, we all have a romantic side, right?).

Green is a master of the craft when it comes to writing suspense thrillers. The plots move quickly, the characters are unpredictable, and readers will find themselves laughing one moment and tense with anticipation the very next. Skeleton’s Key will be available October 28th 2013 and I recommend adding it to your TBR (to be read) pile – you won’t be disappointed!
Author Bio: Raised in southeastern Iowa, Stacy Green grew up watching crime shows with her parents, so her love of suspense and psychological thrillers is no surprise. She’s fascinated by the workings of the criminal mind and explores true crime on her popular Thriller Thursday posts at her blog, Turning the Page.

After earning her degree in journalism, Stacy worked in advertising before becoming a stay-at-home mom to her miracle child. She rediscovered her love of writing and wrote several articles for a city magazine before penning her first novel. She shelved the long drama and began working on a suspense book set in Las Vegas, featuring a heroine on the edge of disaster, a tormented villain, and the city’s infamous storm drains that house hundreds of homeless.

Into The Dark is suspense with a dash of romance, and Stacy is hard at work on her next book: a darker, grittier thriller set in the Deep South.

When she’s not writing, she spends all her time with her precocious daughter, supportive husband, and their three obnoxious but lovable canine children.

Book Excerpt: Cage couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Flashlight in her shaking hand, Dani shined the beam into the dark space. He peered over the top of her head and caught a glimpse of brass, dark wood, and an oblong table. She gave a little squeal and started to crawl inside.
“Stop.” He caught her by the arm. “You don’t know what’s in there. Let me go first.”
Her face fell, but she nodded her agreement. Cage took the flashlight. The panel was barely four feet tall. Crouching down, he stuck one leg and then the other inside the room. He shined the light on the ceiling. It was high enough for him to stand straight.
Cobwebs and stale air should have already assaulted them, but just like the master bedroom, the space smelled clean. “He cleaned up in here, too.”
“Let me in!” Dani shoved at him.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Book Review: Angelina’s Concertina By Gina Cialkoszewski - Kabat

Review by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto
Picture a rainy Wisconsin Saturday on a dairy farm in Northern Wisconsin. A six year old girl isn’t feeling well and is relaxing in the couch while her five year old brother sits close by watching cartoons. Mom is busy with their week in a half old brother while Dad is out in the barn caring for the cows. The oldest of the boys (the five year old) reminds Mom he needs to read ten minutes each day to color in his reading chart. A smile creeps across moms face and she gladly turns off the television and opens her Kindle. She had nearly forgotten the new book she had intended on reading with the children weeks prior. With the infant in one arm and the Kindle in the other, Mom calls the children to sit around her feet as she rocks in the rocking chair.
Mom announced the title: Angelina’s Concertina and the children gave her a sideways glance not quite knowing what a concertina was. Instead of explaining too much too soon, Mom assured the children they would figure it out if they listened carefully and she promised to show them each of the bright colorful pictures as the story was told.
It didn’t take long and one of the children asked “is a concertina like an accordion Mom?” and the other commented “Grandma has an accordion doesn’t she?”. The children listened attentively as the story progressed and even chimed in on the chorus/song about Angelina playing her concertina ooh la la! It was decided that the grandmother’s dress was lovely and the children were bullies. As the story finished, the conversation was even more excited (at least from Mom’s point of view) as the children talked about what they had learned:
·         It’s never too late to say you’re sorry
·         You shouldn’t make fun of how other people do things
·         Don’t be afraid to make music even if no one likes it

Mom closed the book with a smile knowing Angelina’s Concertina would be shared again and again. What a wonderful tale with exquisite illustrations and fabulous lessons. Hats off to Gina Cialkoszewski – Kabat for sharing this story and Courtney Matthies for her illustrations. This is a great book for children a variety of ages!

Book Purchase Link:
Book Summary: This is a work of imagination, inspiration and musical origination born from my own personal childhood growing up with parents who performed Polka music in their Authentic Polish style throughout Toledo, Ohio and the Midwest. As a child, I was introduced to ballrooms, bars, and festival backyards,listening, watching and absorbing their music. Bridging together what I saw, heard and felt in rounds of social interactions of people applauding the musicians, people criticizing the musicians, seeing my parents up on stage and knowing them behind the scenes. My parents musically paved a very rough road in the 70s and 80s leaving a trail for others to peruse with only the social media back then of word-of-mouth, live performances, 8-tracks, cassettes and album covers.
Perfect Bound Softcover
Print Type:

Author Bio: Gina Cialkoszewski-Kabat (pronounced Chalk-a zes-key, Cabot) always wanted to write a children�s book. She is an accomplished author, editor, photographer and video journalist in Northeast Wisconsin. This work is more than just another accomplishment; it is testament to believing in herself and rewriting her own personal history. She was raised in Toledo, Ohio and since the age of 17 has called Wisconsin home. She lives with her husband Jon and two young daughters in a house filled with music. Occasionally, they all go polka dancing together. Once in awhile she�ll even play her drums. About the illustrator: Courtney Matthies lives in Kiel, Wisconsin and attends school at Marian University. She is majoring in Education and English. She has been drawing cartoons since she was eight. She enjoys walking her neighbors' dogs, stand-up paddle surfing, and reading. Her computer's name is Alister.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Welcome Raine Thomas and the blog tour of Meant for Her

Welcome Raine Thomas and the blog tour of Meant for Her -
thank you for making a stop here at Bring on Lemons!

Readers - be sure to scroll down and enter in the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Book Description:

**Mature Content Warning** 

This is a New Adult novel recommended for ages 17+ due to language, sexual content, and mature subject matter. 

Photographer Sierra Stratton views the world through a lens all her own. She has an uncanny sense about people, something that often causes her trouble. When she meets the sexy and brooding Evan Dorsey, her intuition tells her he’s suffering, and she wants to be the one to help him. 

Evan isn’t open to help from anyone, however. His focus is on his Major League career and making himself as marketable as possible for his upcoming free agency. He plans to ride out the season in Atlanta and then sign with another team, away from the painful memories that haunt him. 

Someone’s eager to send him on his way, too. Between anonymous threats and equipment sabotage, it’s clear he’s earned himself an enemy along the way. To him, it’s one more sign that he’s right to move on. 

Excerpt from Meant for Her by Raine Thomas

She saw one of the building’s employees, Oliver Werner, sitting behind the counter and crossed the lobby to greet him. He got to his feet, towering over her by more than a foot.

“Hi, Oliver.”

“Hi there, Ms. Sierra. Nice to see you.”

She winked at him. “This is Evan Dorsey. He’s checking out 4-B.”

“Is that right?” Oliver held out his hand and Evan shook it. “Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Dorsey. Can’t find a better place to live in this city, I assure you. We’ll take real good care of you here.”

“I like what I see so far,” Evan said.

Sierra wondered if it was a coincidence that his dark blue eyes shifted to her after he said that. In either case, her pulse quickened.

What harm could there be in fantasizing about a compliment from a hot ballplayer? It was healthy, really.

“Thanks, Oliver. We’ll be down in a bit.”

They headed to the elevator. She punched a code into the keypad to the right of the doors. As they closed, she looked at Evan to explain what she’d done. He was staring at her. She expected him to look away when she caught him.

He didn’t.

“When you’ve signed the lease, you’ll get your own code,” she said.

When I sign it?”

She smiled. He might not have made up his mind about moving in just yet, but she already knew how this was going to end.

“There are four apartments each on floors two and three,” she continued as though she hadn’t heard him, “and two larger apartments on four. Only the tenants on each floor can access their floor.”

“Unless they give the code out to everyone they know.”

“Sure. We do change the codes regularly to try and prevent issues, and ask tenants to let us know if there’s any reason they need their personal codes changed. As with most secure buildings shared by multiple tenants, nothing is guaranteed.”

The elevator stopped and the doors opened up into a long hallway with hardwood floors and a vibrant carpet runner. Two large windows along the left side of the hall allowed sunlight to flood in. A few framed black and white photographs of some of the more interesting architectural elements of the complex hung along the right wall. The door to 4-B was straight ahead at the end of the hallway. Halfway there, they passed the door to 4-A on the left.

“Who lives in that apartment?” Evan asked.

She paused as she reached the door to 4-B. “Aunt Caroline didn’t tell you?”



She turned and unlocked the door to 4-B. They walked in, neither of them mentioning that she hadn’t answered his question. She started talking as she moved from room to room, figuring he was listening even if he wasn’t following her.

“As you can see, this apartment has lots of character and natural light. It’s over seventeen hundred square feet and has two large bedrooms, two full baths. Separate laundry. The kitchen has been completely updated with granite and stainless steel. Natural hardwood floors throughout. Neutral paint on the walls, but you’re welcome to change it once you move in. There are two real brick walls and exposed ductwork to enhance the loft feel. It’s a very open floorplan with—”

She turned and almost collided with Evan’s chest. Apparently, he had been following her.

“You’re in 4-A, aren’t you?” he asked.

She smiled.

“I’ll take it,” he said.

Author BioRaine Thomas is the award-winning author of a series of YA fantasy/romance novels about the Estilorian plane, including the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy and the Firstborn trilogy. She is also the author of the bestselling New Adult Contemporary Romance, For Everly, and the much-anticipated spin-off, Meant for Her. She is a proud member of Romance Writers of America and is a contributing blogger to The Writer's Voice. When she isn’t planning weddings, writing, or glued to social media, she can usually be found on one of Florida’s beautiful beaches with her husband and daughter or crossing the border to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.

Ways readers can connect with Raine
Twitter (http://twitter/Raine_Thomas)
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Book trailer link

Follow this link for the RAFFLECOPTER giveaway: GIVEAWAY LINK

Purchase links:

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iBooks: Coming Soon!

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