READING NATION MAGAZINE July 2022

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The Baseball Widow by Suzanne Kamata When Christine, an idealistic young American teacher, meets and marries Hideki Yamada, an aspiring Japanese high school baseball coach, she believes that their love with be enough to sustain them as they deal with cultural differences. However, Hideki's duties, and the team of fit, obedient boys whom he begins to think of as a surrogate family, take up more and more of his time, just as Christine is struggling to manage the needs of their multiplydisabled daughter and their sensitive son. Things come to a head when their son is the victim of bullies. Christine begins to think that she and her children would be safer - and happier - in her native country. On a trip back to the States, she reconnects with a dangerously attractive friend from high school who, after serving and becoming wounded in Afghanistan, seems to understand her like no one else. Meanwhile, Daisuke Uchida, a slugger with pro potential who has returned to Japan after living abroad, may be able to help propel Hideki's team to the national baseball tournament at Koshien. Not only would this be a dream come true for Hideki, but also it would secure the futures of his players, some of whom come from precarious homes. While Daisuke looks to Hideki for guidance, he is also distracted by Nana, a talented but troubled girl, whom he is trying to rescue from a life as a bar hostess (or worse). Hideki must ultimately choose between his team and his family.


The Baseball Widow explores issues of duty, disability, discrimination, violence, and forgiveness through a cross-cultural lens. Although flawed, these characters strive to advocate for fairness, goodness, and safety, while considering how their decisions have been shaped by their backgrounds. Official 2022 Pick of the International Pulpwood Queens and Timber Guys Book Club Shelf Unbound 2021 Top Notable Book Shortlisted for the 2021 CIBA Somerset Book Award William Faulkner--William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition -- Finalist Suzanne Kamata was born and raised in Grand Haven, Michigan. She is most recently from Lexington, South Carolina, and now lives in Tokushima Prefecture, Japan with her husband and two cats. Her short stories, essays, articles and book reviews have appeared in over 100 publications including Real Simple, Brain, Child, Cicada, and The Japan Times. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize five times, and received a Special Mention in 2006. She is also a two-time winner of the All Nippon Airways/Wingspan Fiction Contest, winner of the Paris Book Festival, and winner of a SCBWI Magazine Merit Award, an SCBWI Crystal Kite Award, an APALA YA Honor Award, and many others.


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Ninety-Nine Fire Hoops: READING A Memoir NATION MAGAZINE Allison Hong Merrill Allison Hong is not your typical fifteen-year-old Taiwanese girl. Unwilling to bend to the conditioning of her Chinese culture, which demands that women submit to men's will, she disobeys her father's demand to stay in their faith tradition, Buddhism, and instead joins the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Then, six years later, she drops out of college to serve a mission--a decision for which her father disowns her. After serving her mission in Taiwan, twenty-two-year-old Allison marries her Chinese-speaking American boyfriend, Cameron Chastain. But sixteen months later, Allison returns home to their Texas apartment and is shocked to discover that, in her two-hour absence, Cameron has taken all the money, moved out, and filed for divorce. Desperate for love and acceptance, Allison moves to Utah and enlists in an imaginary, unforgiving dating war against the bachelorettes at Brigham Young University, where the rules don't make sense--and winning isn't what she thought it would be. Allison writes in both Chinese and English, both fiction and creative nonfiction, which means she spends a lot of time looking up words on Dictionary.com. She’s a Pushcart Prize nominee and her work has won both national and international awards, including National Championship in the 2010 Life Story Writing Competition in Taipei, Taiwan and the Grand Prize in the 2019 MAST People of Earth writing contest. She’s the inaugural winner of Sandra Carpenter Prize for Creative Nonfiction, firstplace winner of the 2019 Segullah Journal writing contest, and first-place winner of 2020 Opossum flash contest, and many more. Her memoir, Ninety-Nine Fire Hoops, was released in September 2021 and continues to receive literary ISSUE NO 16 5 awards.


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Hello Readers! Welcome to READING NATION MAGAZINE, THE magazine for readers and booklovers everywhere. This month’s issue is filled with more great books to add to your TBR list, new authors to follow, an essay from Jeannée Sacken, and Laura Whitfield interviews Kathleen Rodgers. Go Off The Page with River Jordan, read a note from Cousin Betty Koval, enter a special summer giveaway from Michelle Cox, and see how Carolyn Haines has turned her gift of writing into a gift that keeps on giving. Enjoy! As of 6/30 Reading Nation Magazine has received 112,467 views! PQ & TG Authors - standard pages to advertise your books or only $50. If you’d like to advertise here email readingnationmagazine@gmail.com.

Mandy Haynes

Pulpwood Queen Author Editor in Chief of READING NATION MAGAZINE, Owner of three dogs write press

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OFFICIAL PQ BOOK CLUB JULY PICKS

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WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A PULPWOOD QUEEN

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WATCH THIS

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BOOKS TO ADD TO YOUR TBR LIST

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A SPECIAL SUMMER GIVEAWAY

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MARK YOUR CALENDARS

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THROUGH THE LENS WITH JEANNEE SACKEN

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TOO GOOD NOT TO SHARE

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AUTHORS INTERVIEWING AUTHORS CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

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TIARA WEARING BOOK SHARING GUIDE TO LIFE

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READER RECOGNITION FRIDAYS

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CALENDAR OF EVENTS

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NETWORKING

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FYI

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OFF THE PAGE WITH RIVER JORDAN

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Ruby Falls Deborah Goodrich Royce On a brilliantly sunny July day, sixyear-old Ruby is abandoned by her father in the suffocating dark of a Tennessee cave. Twenty years later, transformed into soap opera star Eleanor Russell, she is fired under dubious circumstances. Fleeing to Europe, she marries a glamorous stranger named Orlando Montague and keeps her past closely hidden. Together, Eleanor and Orlando start afresh in LA. Setting up house in a storybook cottage in the Hollywood Hills, Eleanor is cast in a dream role--the lead in a remake of Rebecca. As she immerses herself in that eerie gothic tale, Orlando's personality changes, ghosts of her past re-emerge, and Eleanor fears she is not the only person in her marriage with a secret. In this thrilling and twisty homage to Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, the story ricochets through the streets of Los Angeles, a dangerous marriage to an exotic stranger, and the mind of a young woman whose past may not release her. 10

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The Baseball Widow Suzanne Kamata “Suzanne Kamata's The Baseball Widow embeds her readers in the thorny lives of Japanese high school baseball coaches and bicultural families with evenhanded compassion and insight. Kamata is a dazzling, deeply empathetic writer.” – Kevin Chong, author of The Plague "Through a diverse group of characters brought together by Japan's passion for baseball, Kamata explores identity, the loss of idealism, and the ragged beauties to be found in that loss." – Annabel Lyon, author of the Women's Prize longlisted novel Consent "Suzanne Kamata has penned yet another compelling pageturner about life and love in Japan, telling it like it is, with details and background I can vouch for as a fellow ex-pat." – Wendy Jones Nakanishi, a.k.a. Lea O'Harra, author of Lady First (An Inspector Inoue Mystery) ISSUE NO 16

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The Eves Grace Sammon The Eves is a multi-generational novel portraying lives lived well and lives in transition. Filled with poignancy and humor, The Eves captures the conversations we wish we had had with our parents, if we had taken the opportunity, and the lessons we would want to impart to our children, if they were ready to listen. Told through the voice of the psychologically complex Jessica Barnet, this is her story. As the primary witness in a messy trial she has been torn from the foundation of her existence-her connection to her children. With a partially finished doctoral degree, and incomplete renovations on her Washington, DC row house, she has let go of her ambitions and her appearance, but not her vodka or her sense of loss and guilt. When Jessica meets five diverse, determined, and sometimes ditzy old women living in a sustainable community everything and everybody changes. Through plot twists and turns that cover three continents, we learn the truth of Jessica's life and lies just as we fall in love with the vividly drawn characters and the vibrantly described settings. 12

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Wayward Girls Penny Koepsel and Claire Matturro When late-night phone calls summon Jude Coleridge and Camille Prescott back to the Talbot Hall School for Girls, painful memories bombard them. Though estranged for years, both bear the physical and emotional scars from their youth. At the boarding school, they were branded "the crazy girls, the ones who lie" and became unlikely best friends. They soon formed a trio with a new student, Wanda Ann, who pulled them into her bewildering relationship with the school psychologist, Dr. Hedstrom. But Wanda Ann's wild stories masked a truth that threatened to engulf them all. As teens, the girls could only rely on each other as they moved toward an unfathomable, fiery danger. Now, in the crumbling halls of Talbot, hours before the building's demolition, they must grant forgiveness, to themselves and others, if they are to move forward. ISSUE NO 16

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Two of our confirmed Keynote Speakers for 2023 Girlfriend Weekend Book Club Convention are Adriana Trigiani and Ann Hood! Adriana Trigiani is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty books of fiction and nonfiction, including the instant New York Times best seller, The Good Left Undone. Her books have been published in thirty-eight languages around the world. She is an award-winning playwright, television writer/producer, and filmmaker. Among her screen credits, Adriana wrote and directed the major motion picture adaptation of her debut novel, Big Stone Gap. She wrote the teleplay of Very Valentine for Lifetime TV and directed Then Came You (2020) on location and in Scotland for Vertical Entertainment. Adriana grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, where she co-founded the Origin Project, an in school writing program that serves over 2500 students in the state of Virginia. Trigiani is proud to serve on the New York State Council on the Arts. She lives in New York City with her family. 18

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Ann Hood is a New York Times best selling author of fourteen novels, four memoirs, a short story collection, a ten book series for middle readers and one young adult novel.. She’s been published in The New York Times, The Paris Review, O, Bon Appetit, Tin House, The Atlantic Monthly, Real Simple, and is the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes, two Best American Food Writing Awards, Best American Spiritual Writing and Travel Writing Awards, and a Boston Public Library Literary Light Award. “When I was in seventh grade, I read a book called How To Become An Airline Stewardess that fueled my desire to see the world. And that's just what I did when I graduated from URI--I went to work for TWA as a flight attendant. Back then, I thought you needed adventures in order to be a writer. Of course, I know now that all you need, as Eudora Welty said, is to sit on your own front porch,” Ann Hood

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Published by Brother Mockingbird and edited by Pulpwood Queen Author, Susan Cushman, this collection of essays by authors, book club members, and supporters of the Pulpwood Queens is a love letter to the founder and CEO, Kathy L. Murphy. An ode to the written word and the place that literature and reading play in all of our lives.

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Thank you Brother Mockingbird Publishing for letting us share some stories!

Stories Make Us More of Who We Can Be Judy Christie

Stepping into the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium is a sort of mystical experience. The flamboyant 1920s art deco building reels you in, your eyes riveted to the stage where the ghosts of famous musicians surely keep watch, performers such as Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, and a fellow you may have heard of, Elvis Presley. In this very room, Elvis got his start. And in this very room, I met Kathy L. Murphy. I regret that I don’t recall what Kathy was wearing, because she does not merely dress, she gets into costume, but I remember what she said as she spoke from the spot that has hosted so many creative heroes in decades past: Stories are powerful. They enrich our lives. They make us more. More than we were before. More of who we are. ISSUE NO 16

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More of who we can be. As readers thronged around Kathy on this summer day in 2009, I drew a deep breath and watched from across that famous floor. I wasn’t stalking her. Really. I was trying to talk myself into approaching her about my debut novel. But, gulp. In these parts, her Beauty and the Book shop and her tribe of Pulpwood Queens had mythical power. As for me, I was a woman who had just written her first novel at age fifty and had never worn a tiara in my life. Kathy was on her way out of the building by the time I sum moned the nerve to introduce myself. I practically ran over to in tercept her. Talking at 78 rpm, I told her about my first novel, Gone to Green, a southern story, similar to some she had talked about that day. Might she … possibly… maybe… take a peek at an advance reader copy? She graciously took it, not hinting that she received scores of books every year from authors eager to see what she thought. Because Kathy has a superpower—spotting great books. Nothing against Elvis, but Kathy became one of my cre ative heroes that day. While I didn’t realize it, by accepting that ARC, she was taking me by the hand on a journey of 26

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friendship and stories that would last well into the future, that would bring me into a family of readers and writers at the annual Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend, see me dressing up as a fried green tomato and posing with author Fannie Flagg, serving tables with the legendary Pat Conroy, signing books for Pulpwood Queens who drove sixty miles for one of my book launches, and sprawling in a Baton Rouge hotel room telling stories with Kathy and her feisty sidekick Tiajuana Neel, whose hairdos live on in one of my novels and whose spirit lives on in my heart…. Get yourself a copy of The Pulpwood Queens Celebrate 20 Years to find out the rest of Judy’s story.

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HIT PLAY

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Bellini’s Mimosa - (Colors of Happiness Book 1) by Annette G. Anders Sometimes leaving is the only road home. Mimi Albizia is at the end of an energizing six-month interlude in Verona, Italy. Before returning to Boston to face the cause of her unjust, forced break, she spends a final weekend in Venice, soaking up the mystery and romance suffusing its labyrinth of narrow streets and canals. But after an intriguing encounter with a sexy-as-hell stranger, she takes home more than just a lovely memory— namely, a yearning she can’t satisfy. Jake Bellini is in no rush to accept his predestined position at his family’s resort hotel on Martha’s Vineyard—or to collect dust in a stuffy law office. At thirty-three, he prefers life at his uncle’s Tuscan vineyard, where he pursues his love for winemaking and keeps his relationships casual… 30

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…until meeting Mimi creates new longings, and he realizes life is about much more than grapes and breathtaking sunsets. How can Jake and Mimi overcome the distance between the weathered coast of New England and the rolling hills of Tuscany? BELLINI’S MIMOSA is a story about family values, taking risks and following your heart. Annette G. Anders is the author of the award-winning FULL CIRCLE series and the new COLORS OF HAPPINESS series. In her novels, Annette explores questions about relationships and lifelong dreams, but also about deeprooted insecurities. Not content with being limited to one genre, Annette interweaves contemporary romance with strong elements of women’s fiction and a hefty dose of travelogue, which many readers call her “signature style.” ISSUE NO 16

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A Quiver in the Purlieu by Amit Verma A Quiver in the Purlieu is a work of magical realism, a coming of age story in the context of the ever expanding universe. A book flies away as soon as it's completed, defining a pivotal point in the life-arch of the protagonist. This life-arch also features a banyan tree growing in Canada, a bar in semi-rural U.S.A., a sliver of time in an idyllic, isolated village in India, a bored billionaire playing the stock market, a comic book princess, and an interstellar spaceship journey. And all this takes place in a universe that's ever-expanding. A long-time proud supporter of Cheetah Conservation Fund – CCF, I will be working with them to raise funds and awareness through my book, A Quiver in the Purlieu. From now till June 30, all royalties from the global sales of this book will go to CCF.

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Maplewood Barker

by Amy

Q.

Maplewood. A sleepy street in a sleepy town—a town where everyone knows your name, your business— oh, and the tragic, shattering loss that nearly destroyed you. Amanda Morgan returns to Maplewood in this story of grit and determination, love and loss, hope and renewal. After the sudden death of her husband and stepson at a bombing at the one hundredth running of the Indianapolis 500, Amanda takes a leap of faith and moves six hundred miles away, back into her childhood home in New York. Plodding up the slow, methodical ladder of grief and recovery, she realizes not all of her demons will be left behind in Indiana. Jonathan Galway is a man on an island. Resolvedly single after a divorce three years ago, he has slipped right into the contented bachelor life, working at a job he loves, surrounded by friends and family. When his new fishing field guide comes out, he is astonished to see a familiar face in the crowd. Is that his high school sweetheart, Amanda, in the flesh, twenty years later, causing him to stumble on his words? And maybe causing him to stumble off his island? Is he willing to tackle his own demons for a chance at love? ISSUE NO 16

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photograph by Kelly Stokes of Memory Lane, Alabama

Grandmother stood and dropped the scissors in her apron pocket. “The chickens don’t remember their wings were clipped.” Her voice lowered, “They just can’t fly anymore, and they don’t remember why or even that they once could.” Ginny stood still with corn in both hands. If she ever flew, she was sure she would always remember it. How could they forget?

The Memory of Flight, a novel by Debra Bowling from

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They drove up and inside the huge metal cage that wrapped around concrete with big, strong arms. She wondered if the arms made the bridge safer, or if it was only to make people think it was. The holes in the cage were still big enough to fall through. Or jump through. A shiver began but stopped as she looked at her husband, quietly sneaking sips of whiskey, the bottle still covered with a brown paper bag. He turned to her then, his eyes pleading for her, full of sadness and regret. His sadness always filled her, and she trusted it, took it in even with the drunken outbursts. This used to be all it took to get her back. She used to think she could make his sadness go away. Another excerpt from The Memory of Flight, a novel ISSUE NO 16

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Summer of the Redeemers by Carolyn Haines In the summer of 1963, KaliOka Road is Bekka Rich's world. Trusted by her parents, she has the freedom to roam and explore in the safety of rural Mississippi—as long as she remains on the red dirt road. Kali Oka dead-ends at an abandoned church and crosses the notorious Cry Baby Creek, where locals say a young infant, deliberately drowned, can be heard crying for mercy late at night. As the summer rolls out, three events change Bekka forever. Nadine, with her stable of show horses, moves onto the road. Then, a reclusive religious group—the Redeemers—rumored to practice strange rituals, takes over the old church. Shortly after that, her best friend's infant sister Maebelle goes missing. Horse crazy Bekka falls under the sway of Nadine, but it is the desperate need to find Maebelle that motivates her to take dangerous actions. No one on KaliOka Road is who or what they seem. Bekka must face the truth of a grownup world and learn that trust and 36

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judgment come at a cost. “I stepped right into the shoes of the 13 year old character in this book. A mysterious, sinister tale, grabbing my interest at the start and never letting go.” FIVE STAR READER REVIEW “Horses, a dog named Picket, ghosts, a religious cult...what could be a better combination for a book by the author of the Sarah Booth Delaney mysteries? I couldn't put it down once I got started on it. I have to admit that it scared the crap out of me many times while I was reading it...especially late last night. I would love to see it made into a movie of the week sometime. As a "stand alone" book by a great author, this is one of her best.” FIVE STAR READER REVIEW “If you are in need of resurrecting a summer in your childhood,this is the one. You will smell the sweet warm aroma of Kudzu,see dust devil dancing at your feet, and take a dip in the swimming hole. If you enjoy the chill of suspense, while wrapped in the warm security of a family and good old southern cooking - just settle in and enjoy a deliciously described story of suspense and mystery. Ms. Haines shows us once again, how blackened the human heart can become and how high it can ascend. Carolyn Haines demonstrates her talent, in a mesmerizing style reminiscent of the Southern notables: Faulkner, O'Connor, and Conroy.” FIVE STAR READER REVIEW ISSUE NO 16

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100% of proceeds from the sales of these books are dona (c)(3) animal rescue organization dedicated to placing urges everyone to please neuter their companion pets to


ated to the Good Fortune Farm Refuge, a nonprofit 501 rescued animals in permanent homes. Carolyn Haines o help cut down on the suffering of unwanted animals.


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Coming Soon! What can possibly go wrong when Jesse asks the universe to get her out of the rut her life has become? MEET ME IN MUMBAI chronicles the unexpected journey of a sophisticated American woman who longs to escape small-town life. She falls in love with an Englishman who loves wild camping, and he dares her to meet him in Mumbai. Knit yourself a seatbelt for the misadventures of the couple who travel on a shoestring through India and SE Asia like twentyyear-olds on a gap year. Set in India, Cornwall and SE Asia over three years, the novel recounts the ways in which Jesse’s experiences change her worldview. Visit my website www.lovelacecook.com and sign up for my email newsletter! In July 2022, I’ll send you a sneak preview of MEET ME IN MUMBAI – Chapter 1. Tune in to my FREE podcast Bollywood and Books on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Audible or your favorite podcast player. Please leave a rating and review!

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And Silent Left the Place by Elizabeth Bruce A silent old man climbs into his secret hole, burdened by his Great War bargain--his voice for life with his beloved. On this night in April 1963, the burden of silence passes from old to young. The debut novel of Texas native Elizabeth Bruce is a lyric tale of violence, redemption, and love reclaimed through the cruel dry land of Texas. "Bruce's characters leap off the page at you; they have vividness and substance, and the result, reading her work, is that one feels the life there...a deeply gifted writer." Richard Bausch, PEN/Malamud and Rea Awards for the Short Story “Elizabeth Bruce has a great literary voice, interwoven with wonderful, authentic characters plopped down into their own real world of Patsy Cline, barbecue, Herbert Tarryton, Jack Daniels, Bob Wills, boots, sweat, and longing. The Saturday night dance has already begun; don’t be late.” Mike Flanagan, author The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Old West and It’s About Time ISSUE NO 16

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Crazy to Leave You by Marilyn Simon Rothstein The worst day in Lauren Leo's life may be the best thing that ever happened to her... “Reading a book by Marilyn Simon Rothstein is like sitting at the fun table at a wedding, listening to all an insider’s funny stories about the blessed event’s guests, and those she unsparingly tells on herself. Marilyn Simon Rothstein makes me laugh—and reminds me that even in a comic novel, the emotional dynamics in a nosy, tight-knit Jewish family with three competitive daughters can be as twisted as they are laughable. In Rothstein’s third hilarious novel, we follow the victim of a brutal hit-and-runaway groom, a bride with a ticking biological clock and a brilliant Manhattan advertising career. Despite her bona fides, this abandoned singleton has no way to spin the mortifying situation she finds herself in—dumped at the altar by a weakling who announces his plan by texting her sister. Will she ever love again? Will she ever stop eating to fill the hole he left? You’ll find out, and if you’re like me, you’ll be waiting for this author’s next book.” —Thelma Adams, author of The Last Woman Standing and Bittersweet Brooklyn 42

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Hayley and the Hot Flashes by Jayne Jaudon Ferrer When five middle-aged girlfriends trade in carpools and casseroles for microphones and music halls, look out! Hayley Swift, a country music diva who has slipped out of the limelight, is invited to perform at her 35th high school reunion. When a bus accident puts her back-up singers out of commision, Hayley begs her longgone-domestic quartet from high school to join her onstage for the gig. They’re such a hit that she invites them to fill in on a low-budget tour while her singers recover. Thrilled at the chance to flee routine for a dream deferred for decades, the women readily accept. Nefarious flirtations, indiscriminate mood-swings, equipment malfunctions, and a few nasty cat-fights combine to wreak havoc on the Retro Rodeo tour, but it’s a crazed stalker, an overzealous fan, and some unexpected complications that ultimately derail the road trip. In the midst of the mayhem, relationships are restored and redefined as the friends discover new strengths and aspirations. ISSUE NO 16

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The Disharmony of Silence by Linda Rosen In 1915, jealous, bitter Rebecca Roth cuts all ties with her life-long friends, the Pearls. Eight years later, Rebecca’s son and young Lena Pearl begin keeping company in secret. Rebecca agrees to a truce when the couple marries. But the truce is fragile. Rebecca’s resentments run deep. In 2010, Carolyn Lee, fitness instructor and amateur photographer, must come to grips with the fact that her mother’s imminent death will leave her alone in the world. While preparing her childhood home for sale, she realizes for the first time that her mother’s antique brooch is identical to the one pinned to the lady’s dress in the painting hanging above the fireplace. Coincidence or connection? Carolyn is determined to find out. What she discovers has the potential to tear lives apart or to bring her the closeness and comfort she longs for. It all depends on how she handles her newfound knowledge. 44

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The Cicada Tree by Robert Gwaltney

"Gwaltney's Southern Gothic, THE CICADA TREE mesmerizes and seduces, the language redolent and deadly, the characters steeped in secrets and madness, and the whole of it an enthralling and perfect read. Easily my favorite book of the year."-Kim Taylor Blakemore, bestselling author of After Alice Fell

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Winner of the Madville Publishing 2021 Blue Moon Novel Award, Prov enance is a story of hope in ruin. With subtle poignancy and humor, it offers fresh takes on con temporary conflicts, exploring pivotal moments of sorrow, longing, and renewal in the lives of three deeply textured and indelible characters.

d, erine Smith’s finely tune n visio I have long admired Kath ipline as a writer. Her lush work and her disc and deepen in this third continues to expand Persecution, war, and its . collection, Secret City e in various forms. But com race haunting aftermath work, the prayer of emb redemption is nigh in this by red sumac, willow, ered and belonging answ The speakers are indeed born y. and camellia, chestnut pon , author of Candescent again… —Linda Parsons th Ear ky Sha This



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The Art of Traveling Strangers by Zoe Disigny “Easily digestible and intelligent…brimming with artistic insights.” — Kirkus It’s the 1980s, and art historian Claire Markham reels from a series of heartbreaking losses. Desperate to escape her shattered reality, she becomes an art guide in Europe for quirky stranger Viv Chancey and embarks on a life-changing journey through the art-filled cities of Milan, Venice, Ravenna, Florence, Siena, Rome, and Paris. Once abroad, Claire tries to hide her woes by focusing on Viv’s art education, but Viv—who is not who she seems— has a different learning experience in mind. Frustrated and wanting to reimagine her life, Claire embraces the idea of reality as illusion and finds herself slipping into the tales of art and history. When threatened with one more crushing loss, Claire must learn from the spirit of her eccentric companion and the lessons from the art they encounter to take charge of her life 48

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or lose the most precious thing in it. The Art of Traveling Strangers is a journey of self-discovery and personal empowerment inspired by the great art masterpieces of Italy and France. It’s a tale of female bonding and the amazing powers of perception. After all, reality, like art, is just an illusion. “If you love art, you love love, you love travel, this is definitely the read for you. I didn’t know what to expect from the title but it was beautifully written and just wonderful.” — twilight_reader “Joining Claire on her travels across Italy and on to Paris was nothing short of a joy—and as an art historian, I greatly appreciated her love and admiration of our world’s visual treasures. I highly recommend taking a trip with Zoe Disigny’s heroine!” —JENNIFER DASAL, author of ArtCurious Zoe Disigny holds a master’s degree in art history and has taught at the college level throughout her career. She has led numerous art tours in Europe and established a business in Paris offering art history adventures for American tourists. ISSUE NO 16

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Nice Girl by Julia Carol Folsom It's 1965. Fifteen-year-old Callie Ingram is a naive, lonely girl in a small southern town. Home is a battleground, and money's hard to come by. When she takes a part-time waitress job, Callie meets Nick Gamble, a prominent, married businessman twice her age. Nick's casual flirtations lure Callie into a devastating love affair, with secrets that must be kept at any cost. When Callie gets pregnant, Nick makes clear there is only one choice. And it's illegal and dangerous. Desperate not to shame her dad and torn with guilt, Callie is equally determined to hold onto the lover who has become her obsession. But the real Nick is not the man Callie thinks he is. And when his own comfy world explodes, Callie faces the most excruciating decision of her life.

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Murder Under A British Moon by Abigail Keam Mona Moon travels to Merry Old England to visit Brynelleth, Robert Farley’s ancestral home, for the first time. Hoping to make a good impression, Mona finds she is rebuffed at every turn by Robert’s friends and even his servants. Events turn more sour as the staff quits after seeing ghosts, and a phantom keeps sabotaging repairs made to the manor. Despondent, Mona wants to return to the United States, but her trip is delayed when an American agent is discovered murdered at Brynelleth. She can’t leave Robert in such a lurch and begs her good friend, Lady Alice Nithercott, to help her find the culprit, who seems to be out for blood—Mona’s blood!

A 1930s Mona Moon Historical Cozy Mystery!

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often ration is r a n ’s pression hitfield “. . . W irited ex ing. A p s s it n g in for mea engagin search te ming-oflu o o c s l of a re ationa ir p s in and ws s Revie candid —Kirku .” y r to age s

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When You Leave Me: A Friday Harbor Novel by Susan Wingate On the surface, a small, remote island in the Pacific Northwest looks quaint and placid. However, trouble brews deep below the water when the island is rocked by an unexpected, brief and violent earthquake, and Jamie Michael’s husband, Larry, who has dementia, goes missing. Det. Sgt. Rob Rimmler along with Search & Rescue deploy forces. They scour the grounds and neighborhood only to find a widening gorge on Jamie’s property—a heavily wooded, five-acre rural country plot. After giving up the search for Larry, three months later, Rimmler begins to track Jamie’s every movement— appearing wherever she ends up whether in town or while 54

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alone at home. One night, he admits he suspects her. Now, she must prove her innocence or end up indicted on murder charges. Sometimes when you think all seems lost, it usually is.

Praise for WHEN YOU LEAVE ME: “A twisty mystery about love, betrayal, and obsession. In a small town, everyone’s a murder suspect. The ending packs a punch and remains in the reader's mind long after turning the final page. Thriller aficionados will devour this story.” —Robert Dugoni, New York Times bestselling author of the Tracy Crosswhite series “A cup of hot coffee at my side, I dove into Susan Wingate’s When You Leave Me. The coffee was cold when I reached for a sip, so enthralled I was by the storyline. Artfully constructed, melodic, and insightful, When You Leave Me is not just a complex, captivating mystery—it’s a poignant reminder to never take love for granted.” —Christopher Rosow, author of the bestselling False Assurances and the Ben Porter thriller series ISSUE NO 16

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“Susan Wingate grabs you from the very first sentence of When You Leave Me and never lets you go. This thriller is a roller coaster ride of tension and suspense, delivered in punchy, elegant prose and with dialogue that provides a window into the personalities of the author’s characters. You’re going to love this one.” —Joseph Badal, awardwinning author of The Carnevale Conspiracy “What Susan Wingate does best in When You Leave Me, as in her previous novels, is to make human pain palpable to the reader. In this newest offering, threads of pain run through every page. On San Juan Island off the coast of Washington, a husband with dementia goes missing. Then a foot in a sneaker washes ashore amidst a rash of such grotesque discoveries. Thus begins, for Jamie Michaels, the missing man’s wife, a tormented journey as she claws her way through a sea turgid with grief, guilt, and fear. Is Jamie responsible for her husband’s fate? The police seem to think so, and so does she. But that, in the end, isn’t the question. The real questions, as every person knows who has ever cared for a loved one with dementia, are how long must this punishment last? And how can I possibly survive it?” – Randall Silvis, author of the critically acclaimed Ryan 56

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DeMarco mystery series WINNER OF EIGHT BOOKS AWARDS for "How the Deer Moon Hungers" WINNER OF THE THRILLER CATEGORY in the 2019 Book Excellence Award for "Storm Season" Susan Wingate writes about big trouble in small towns and lives with her husband on teeny-weeny island off the coast of Washington State where, against State laws, she feeds the wildlife because she wants them to follow her around their property. Her ukulele playing, as her Sitto used to say, "Is coming along." Susan is a #1 Amazon bestselling and award-winning author. Wingate’s books can be found in libraries across the country, at brickand-mortar bookstores like Griffin Bay Bookstore, and major online bookstores like Amazon. Check out her podcast, Dialogue: Between the Lines: www.blogtalkradio.com/dialogue ISSUE NO 16

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"Mandy Haynes takes me on a memory journey to the last great childhood of the South, a time when bicycles were a magic carpet that could take a child wherever she wanted to go. The joy of this novella is how easily I slip between the pages and live the adventures with Oliver and Olivia. Sibling love. Kindness. Good intentions gone awry and good deeds fraught with danger. This story echos with my past, and the past of many now homeless Southerners. Once you start reading, you won't be able to put it down." Carolyn Haines, USA Today bestseller, is the author of over 80 books in multiple genres

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Progeny (Inspector Inoue Thrillers Book 2) by Lea O'Harra ‘An accomplished crime series which gives an insight into Japanese culture... The Inspector Inoue thrillers grip and inform.’ Thomas Waugh Japan 2016. One cold winter evening three-yearold Makiko Kohara goes missing from a shopping mall in Fujikawa. When Chief Inspector Inoue gets the news, he is playing with his own three-year-old son. Inoue is worried - but determined to find the child with the aid of his two lieutenants, Ando and Kubo. CCTV footage reveals a hooded figure entered the deserted women’s toilets at the mall after the child. As a father and a policeman, Inoue is shocked by the brutal nature of Makiko’s abduction. He prays the child is still alive. During the investigation, Fujikawa is experiencing a crime wave. When little Makiko’s body is found, all of Japan is watching and waiting. There is pressure on Inoue to find her killer. Inoue’s son is then taken. He must now find Makiko’s killer to save his own child. 60

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Relative Consequences by Jody Herpin RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES tells the story of a retired teacher who is on a mission to find the truth about her past no matter what the cost. Jessy Tate buries her husband on a chilly day in October 2005. That's when the nightmares begin again; but this time, the scenery is clear, and the fear is real. However, the puzzle pieces in her head don't make sense. These vivid flashbacks reflect what her mind has forgotten—a drama starring a childhood friend and a giant banyan tree. The dreams take her back to when streets were safe at night, when nearby beaches remained pristine, and when most folks ate their breakfast at the local diner. It was a time in history when little towns kept big secrets. “I enjoyed this book from start to finish. I can remember some of the times MS. Herpin describes in her book. I’m reminded of a saying I’ve heard, “we may choose our own direction in life but we can’t choose our consequences” . Looking forward to her next book.” FIVE STAR READER REVIEW ISSUE NO 16

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"River Jordan is a holy truth-teller who can make even the bad things in life seem as sweet as sugar. The stories in Sugar Baby and Other Stories are as real as life itself, but the language River uses to coat the pain is something from another world. Writer, storyteller, heart healer. River Jordan is simply the best." Wiley Cash, author, The Last Ballad

Sugar Baby and Other Stories River Jordan ISSUE NO 16

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READING NATION MAGAZINE A SPECIAL SUMMER GIVEAWAY

It's that time of year again Summer at Highbury! To celebrate, Michelle Cox is giving away a luxury vintage picnic basket stocked with two bottles of wine, a Fire HD 8 Plus Tablet, and an autographed set of the Henrietta and Inspector Howard series!! To enter, simply sign-up for her newsletter HERE and follow her on Instagram HERE . Winner will be announced in her July Newsletter, which will be sent to your inbox on July 22nd, so make sure you open it to find out who won! Good luck readers!

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THROUGH THE LENS with Jeannée Sacken

Why did you set Behind the Lens and Double Exposure in Afghanistan? This is the first question people usually ask me. The answer is fairly straightforward. My main character, Annie Hawkins Green, is a conflict zone photographer, so I needed a war. I also wanted a U.S. military presence. That narrowed things down quite a bit. Plus, over the years, I’ve come to 68

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love Afghan literature and culture as well as the Afghan people who are known for their warmth and hospitality. Afghanistan it was. The second question isn’t nearly as simple to answer: How autobiographical are your novels? Authors often put something of themselves and their experiences into their fiction, but in this case many people suspect Annie is me. We both have red hair. We’re both photojournalists, and we both travel the world. But there are differences. Annie has a teenage daughter; I don’t have children. Annie takes photographs in war zones; I do my best to avoid wars. Nevertheless, I have, indeed, used some of my favorite images and photographic experiences to create my main character and many of the events in each novel in the series. Photographers are often identified with one single image. In my case, it’s probably “Mayan Girl with Corn Dolls.” Years ago, I was in a village high in the Honduran mountains to photograph a young mother. After many hours, however, I was getting nothing usable. No telltale tingling in my fingers (yes, Annie’s fingers also let her know when she’s captured the image). We took a break, and turning toward the door, I caught sight of ten-year-old Suyapa standing in the shadows, cradling the corn dolls she’d made. ISSUE NO 16

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That’s when I learned that although education is free in Honduras, the family must buy school uniforms and books, which are changed each year, preventing any hand-medowns. Sometimes the best a poor family can do is to educate the first-born son. Suyapa spent her days dying cornhusks (see her stained fingers) and making dolls to sell to tourists in the market so her brother could attend school. She was literally and metaphorically in the shadows. This image—a one-off—launched my career in photography and reinforced my commitment to educating girls in third-world countries.

Annie is known for her Pulitzer Prizewinning photograph of Malalai, a feisty ten-year-old girl living in an Afghan village—unknown 70

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to her, it was a Taliban village. The taking of this picture is the inciting incident of Behind the Lens and, to an extent, for Double Exposure as well. It also compels Annie’s commitment to educating girls in a country where the Taliban forbid them learning to read and write. Know your subject. A photographer’s mantra, it allows me to anticipate what’s going to happen next. Before the Golden Eagle Festival in far-western Mongolia, I prepped like crazy, finding out as much as I could about the festival and how hunters train their eagles. All of which informed my shot when this Kazakh hunter suddenly raised his eagle above his head and she unfurled her wings.

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Although Annie doesn’t encounter eagles or any wildlife, she well knows that if she lowers her camera just a bit, her subject will assume she’s gotten her shot and relax, letting the inner self show. Being able to anticipate her subject’s automatic reaction allows her to capture the shot. Patience, patience, patience. Sometimes the best thing a photographer can do is wait and become invisible. That’s exactly what happened in this Guatemalan market place where I photographed a weaver setting up her backstrap loom. She spent hours untangling the threads until finally all were straight. During this time, she literally forgot about me. Annie shows her patience in Double Exposure when photographing the workers constructing the new Wad Qol Secondary School for Girls. Preparing to pour a new concrete floor, the workers are so used to Annie’s presence with her camera that they forget she’s there. That’s when she captures compelling images. Respect. Whenever I go on a photo shoot, I learn as much as I can about the culture. And this was definitely the case for the remote Hmong villages I visited in the mountains of Laos. I wanted to know as much as I could about the people, 72

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their religion, their way of life, their language—all of which informed the way I framed my shots, as I did with this woman in her traditional bridal finery.

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dons, and asking permission before she takes a shot. Live to tell the story. No matter how prepared and careful I am, I sometimes end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s when things go sideways fast, as happened when I was lining up this shot at a camel race in Mongolia. I clearly drew the animals’ attention, causing them to veer off the race track and head straight for me. The riders lost all control, and I ran faster than I thought I could. A scary moment with a lot of adrenalin flowing— something I tapped into for Annie’s character when she’s 74

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trapped in a Taliban village, when she’s grabbed in the Bazarak market, and again when she’s abducted from Wad

Qol. I’ve had my share of adventures while on photo shoots, moments fraught with emotion that I’ve been able to recast in the Annie Hawkins series. Having my lodge burn down around me late one night in Namibia. Being airlifted out of ISSUE NO 16

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the Kalahari Desert. Stepping off a narrow foothold into thin air while climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. Driving off-road through a blizzard in Mongolia. Hiding from armed marauders in the back of a car under a pile of horsehair blankets in Honduras. Not for the feint of heart, but these experiences have been a gold mine when writing suspenseful women’s fiction.

Find out more about Jeannée Sacken, her adventures, and her work here.

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I found something on Carolyn Haines’s website that I had to share. I took the liberty to copy and paste some of the content here, but please take a second and read more about how Carolyn has turned her gift of writing into a gift that keeps on giving …

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Good Fortune Farm Refuge Located in Semmes, Alabama, Good Fortune Farm Refuge is a non-profit ranch where we rehabilitate abused and abandoned animals and attempt to find homes for them. We work with all rescue groups through a number of tools such as Facebook and neighborhood email lists, to help find missing pets, find homes for rescued pets, and raise money for spay/neuter initiatives or basic vet care. GFFR is a non-profit 501 (c) 3 animal rescue organization dedicated to placing rescued animals in permanent homes. As funds are available, we assist with veterinary care for low income families, senior citizens, and pets in emergency situations. We also work to educate people on the vital importance of ISSUE NO 16

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spay/neuter for all pets. We encourage people to adopt rather than buy any pets, and we promote this message through a number of means. Please check out the Zinnia Shop Proceeds from each autographed book sold will go to Good Fortune Farm Refuge, a 501-C that I started to help my fourlegged friends. GFFR is a small rescue/refuge and while my dream for it is very big, we are limited now. If I ever become wealthy, I’d like to fund spay/neuter clinics in many rural areas. For now, I do what I can. If you order a book from this website, the money goes as a donation to GFFR. This includes shipping. Because we are a 501-C charity, your donation is tax deductible within the limits of the law. I thank you–and the critters that receive help from GFFR thank you too.

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Or the shop from The Good Fortune Farm page if you’d like to help the animals that have the good fortune to end up at Good Fortune Farm :).

When you donate to Good Fortune Farm Refuge, 100% of the contribution goes directly to the care of our animals. Food, medicine, flea treatment, litter. All donations are tax deductible as allowed by law as we are a registered Non Profit charity we were granted our 501-C 3 status from the I.R.S.in 2008. We also appreciate donations of food, wet or dry, or other animal supplies. A portion of our budget may be used to assist a limited number of low income families with the care and maintenance of their cats. This service is provided in an effort to keep people from surrendering their pets to the shelter. ISSUE NO 16

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If you’d love to help, but don’t have the funds y’all look at this - You can help by selecting www.smile.amazon.com and setting up Good Fortune Farm Refuge as your favorite charity! How easy is that?

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Carolyn Haines is the USA Today bestselling author of over 70 books. In 2020, she was inducted into the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame. She was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Alabama Library Association, the Harper Lee Award for Distinguished Writing, the Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence, as well as the "Best Amateur Sleuth" award by Romantic Times. Born and raised in Mississippi, she now lives in Alabama on a farm with more dogs, cats, and horses than she can possibly keep track of.

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A READER WRITES ABOUT SUPPORTING AUTHORS Betty Koval

I am hardly qualified, as are my many author “COUSINS” of the Pulpwood Queen family, to put adequate words on paper. Nor can I eloquently voice what I have to share other than to just speak from my heart. So here goes ----SUPPORT YOUR AUTHORS! Buy the books they write, attend their book signings EVERY chance you get and invite them to your homes via ZOOM or as I have done, in person! Share these lovely creative and talented people with your friends. We are one big family of readers. I try to and often take as many friends as I can fit in my SUV with me to a book signing. I have a rule – they must buy at least one 84

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book – any of the author’s books will do but preferably the latest. If someone goes with me and does NOT support my author “Cousin” well quite frankly, that is grounds for no future invitation. These authors take months and sometimes years of their lives of research, developing accurate timelines of historical events, making the story interesting and worthy of our time. They develop an idea into plain enjoyable reading for us to enjoy. This is no easy task; I have tried, and I just cannot pull it all together. Therefore, I applaud and support those who have such a talent. It is work! It may look like it is easy. I have been told those who do something well make it look easy. I now know many such talented authors. I love and appreciate them. I do my best to show them by leaving a review in as many places as I can. I often gift their books to friends. THANK YOU, my AUTHOR COUSINS, for birthing your books! My life is much richer for having read and to have met many of the authors I now read. I cannot even begin to quantify the value - it is too astronomical. These ladies and gentlemen I feel as close if not closer than some of my family members. Not all people enjoy reading as I do, and several are family members. It’s amazing to me to begin ISSUE NO 16

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talking about a book and the other person has this look like they have no idea of what I am speaking. As a child, teen, and adult I often dreamed of meeting the person who authored the books I enjoyed. Now, with technology available, we are so lucky to be able to connect and find out that story behind the story! I always wanted to know why and how a story came to be. I have been called “The Question Queen” on occasion. Yes, I have always been inquisitive to the point my mom used to say, “curiosity killed the cat” and I told her I was not a cat. I just wanted to know things – many and all sorts of things! And I still do! A book to me, is a good friend I can go to when I need respite from this crazy thing, we call life. I can steal away to places, times, and events I would and will never be able to go to in my lifetime. Just think about it, I can revisit the horrible concentration camps and not have to endure the horrible conditions. Yet, it has made me much more compassionate for those who survived and lived to tell their stories. I can read another woman’s story and learn from her experiences. I have always learned from every book I have read. It may be a little fact about eider down used for warmth in jackets or quilts, but it was something I did not know before. I may learn how to make a lean-to for survival 86

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if I found myself caught in the elements. That could be useful – who knows? When a person reads you learn whether you mean to or not. The authors are why we learn these tidbits and facts. Just think of how much they learn to only put part of their knowledge into a storyline? AMAZING!!! We have at least nine bookshelves in our home – every room - with the exception of the bath. These shelves are crammed full of books! No room is complete without a book – or two or three or four or more! I want to be able to lay my hand on a book anywhere in my home. I do not have a TBR stack. I have a TBR bookshelf, well, there are two now. I may never get to finish them all, but they are there when I want to pick one out and read it. Thank goodness my husband Bill feels the same way I do. He too, is an avid reader and supporter of the Pulpwood Queens. He has enjoyed meeting so many of my author “cousins’ and has me take photos on his phone of him and all the ladies which he shows to lots of people. He tells people about the Girlfriend Weekend and tells them they should go at least once. When we travel, we make it a point to stop in a local bookstore. I felt the need to write this to let all you authors know how ISSUE NO 16

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much you are appreciated, and I will always try my hardest to be your CHAMPION. I am in AWE of each of you. It is just overwhelming to me because I have no talent to develop an idea into a story with plot lines and historical facts – just keeping it all straight blows my feeble mind. I LOVE YOU and I will support you all I can if I have a breath to speak or the ability to put the adequate words in cyber space to tout your works. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU sincerely. Now everyone, keep buying those books and inviting these authors to speak to your groups and please most of all GO TO THE BOOK SIGNINGS and take your friends! Love, “COUSIN” Betty Koval

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This is just a sample of the books Cousin Betty has in her home… :) ISSUE NO 16

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Laura Whitfield Interviews Kathleen Rodgers

L: All of your books have elements of the military in them, especially the Air Force. Can you tell us about that? K: Thank you for asking, Laura! Except for my fifth novel, which I’ve recently completed, my other novels include military families who are dealing with many of the same issues we all struggle with in the civilian world. I’m an old military spouse turned military mama, and I decided decades ago that I wanted to “elevate” military families into the mainstream by including them in my work as a magazine writer and later as a novelist. The late great Pat Conroy served as one of my “mentors” although I never got 90

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to meet him in person, only through his writing. His novel, The Great Santini, taught me that a writer could pen a novel about a dysfunctional family with a fighter pilot as head of the household, and set it against the backdrop of racism in the deep south. I’ve read the novel at least four times, along with many of his other books. My husband flew fighter jets in the Air Force before he retired and became a commercial airline pilot. Those early years as the wife of a pilot informed so much of my work as a frequent contributor to Military Times and other publications. One of those cover stories for Military Times helped me get my foot in the door at Family Circle Magazine, where my work was read by millions of readers over a ten-year period. When my youngest son graduated college and became a young Army officer who served in combat, I wrote straight into the fear with my second and third novels. My fifth novel does not contain any aspect of the military. As a writer, I never want to be pigeonholed so it was time to spread my wings. Stay tuned… L: Asking an author if they have a favorite character is ISSUE NO 16

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like asking a mother if they have a favorite child. Is there a character (or characters) that has stayed with you? K: At the moment, my favorite characters are the ones I’ve spent time with in my fifth novel. Part coming of age, coming to terms, my latest is a multigenerational tale grounded in reality and swimming with magical realism. The novel celebrates authors and books, indie bookstores, and public libraries, while illuminating the art of storytelling through the oral tradition and the written word. I can’t wait for my readers to meet Letty Hubbard and her three daughters, Clover, Marigold, and Tansy, and their two best friends, Melody, and Ruthie. L: How do you nurture your creativity? K: I look for magic in ordinary things. I get excited about embracing those small moments that might get overlooked. I give myself space and permission to daydream. It’s not always easy, especially when I see so much sorrow and struggle in the world. L: Do you have a writing space? Could you describe it? 92

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K: When my two sons were young, I couldn’t wait to have a “room of my own” to call my writing studio or sanctuary. Today I have a beautiful home office with custom shelves and a corner desk. But guess what, half the time I come into the office, pick up my laptop, and plop down at the kitchen table to work. I love being in the kitchen, the center of my home, where I’m surrounded by two rescue dogs, good energy, and memories of my life as a young mother. I’ve been known to write anywhere and on anything. I started out writing by hand and on a manual typewriter. Some days the best ideas come when I’m standing at the kitchen sink or running an errand. I still love mechanical pencils, index cards, and sticky notes. L: Do you have a process for writing a book? Or does it vary depending on what you’re writing? K: It’s messy. For me, it’s like making meatloaf. I don’t outline, but I always have bits of dialogue, or an idea scribbled down, and I take it from there. I usually have some idea about the ending. So, I write toward that scene in my head. Sometimes it changes, but then I change and grow with each novel I’ve written. I’ve become a braver person ISSUE NO 16

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because of my writing. L: Where are you most happy? K: When I feel safe, but especially when I know my loved ones are safe. L: You’ve written four award-winning novels. Any advice for those who are thinking about writing fiction? K: You must want it more than you want to be known as a novelist. In other words, you must sacrifice something in order to write fiction. Me, I don’t watch daytime television unless something major has happened and I turn on the news. L: What is one of your favorite memories of being a Pulpwood Queen? K: Meeting so many wonderful writers and readers these past few years. That’s where I met you. L: Many writers have said they knew at age ten that they 94

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were born to write. Did you have a defining moment like that and when did it happen to you? K: I declared myself a writer at the age of fifteen when I started writing for my high school newspaper in Clovis, New Mexico. Looking back, I don’t recall that I ever wrote anything school related. Mr. Bill Kopf, my sophomore English teacher and the sponsor of the high school newspaper, let me write about UFOs, Bigfoot, home remedies, and things of that nature. L: Did you have a mentor(s) when you started your writing journey? If so, how did they influence you? K: Mr. Kopf, who I mentioned above, encouraged me my senior year to enter a statewide writing contest for high school students sponsored by New Mexico Press Women. I ended up winning first place for feature writing. That state award, along with Mr. Kopf’s encouragement, gave me the confidence to pursue a writing career that’s spanned decades. Another early mentor was my aunt, Kay Lamb. She gave me my first subscription to Writer’s Digest when I was still in high school and read some of my first attempts at ISSUE NO 16

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creative writing. Bless her! Mike Slinker was my boss at ENMU’s Information Services where I worked as a student writer my freshman year in college. Mike believed in me even when I had so much selfdoubt. He’d read about my first-place award in state and hired me at the ripe old age of seventeen. Bill Southard, former managing editor of the Clovis News Journal, hired me to write headlines, first birthday writeups, and obits when I was only nineteen and taking college night classes. Within a week of working in the newsroom, Bill let me start writing feature stories, take photographs, and develop my pictures in the darkroom. Besides herding a newsroom full of smalltown journalists, Bill was writing western novels for Bantam Books under the pen name, W.W. Southard. He’d get up at the crack of dawn, write for a couple of hours, then head to his day job as a newspaper man. Bill modeled what it meant to be a working writer. He taught me that a kid from a small town could grow up to become an author. ☺

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READING NATION MAGAZINE CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS FOR OUR FIRST PULPWOOD QUEEN COOKBOOK! But this is NOT just a cookbook – it’s a book of recipes from our favorite childhood memories, along with a 650-1000 word story, and photo of the person who made the dish for you, taught you how to make it, or brings back good memories. I’m accepting submissions from reader AND author members. I plan to have it finished and published by the holidays – I think it will make great hostess gifts and special Christmas presents. (All contributors will receive a free copy). If you’d like to submit your story for consideration, please send your Recipe, 650-1000 word Story, photo, and your bio by September 1st to mandy.pulpwoodqueen@gmailcom So far I have some great submissions, including Mamoo’s Biscuits, Sitto Evelyn's Tabooli, and Grandma Joan’s Chestnut Stuffing (the secret ingredient is curry…). Don’t wait to send yours in - I’m dying to see them all!

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THE PULPWOOD QUEENS' TIARA WEARING, BOOK SHARING, GUIDE TO LIFE celebrates female friendship, sisterhood, and the transformative power of reading. It includes life principles and motivational anecdotes, hilarious and heart-warming stories of friendships among the Queens, and stories from Kathy L. Murphy about the books that have inspired her throughout her life, complete with personalized suggested book lists.

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Enjoy a short excerpt from Chapter One of Kathy’s book below.

CHAPTER 1 If Life Hands You a Lemon, Make Margaritas

…Being a publisher’s rep was my dream come true, and I would have happily done that job for the rest of my days. You know the expression Every cloud has a silver lining? A friend of mine once reversed it. She said, “Every silver lining has a cloud.” And I’m here to tell you that, backwards, it’s every bit as true. As luck would have it, back in the 1990s, independent bookstores had begun facing serious competition from the big chains. The mega-chains could offer customers lower prices than the independents around the corner, and soon these giants were just siphoning off customers. By the end of the decade, many independents had been forced to close ISSUE NO 16

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their doors. You can’t blame folks for wanting lower prices, but it sure was sad to see those independent bookstores go. Still is today. These stores, like mirrors, reflected their customers’ tastes. They were community centers and the lifeline of their readership. I’ve never walked into an independent bookstore whose staff couldn’t tell me about the books they shelved in their stores. Talk about passion! I’ve spent many hours deep in conversation with booksellers, like the famous Marv Gay Shipley of That Bookstore in Blytheville, Arkansas, or Jean and Jerry Brace of Brace Books and More in Ponca City, Oklahoma, or Frances Comegys and Ginny Hill at Tower Book Shop in Shreveport, Louisiana, and J. Michael Kenney of the Book Merchant in Natchitoches, Louisiana. These book people are all literacy leaders in their communities. To me, these die-hard booksellers are national treasures, and they’re my heroes for tirelessly crusading for literacy and overcoming all the adversity in bookselling today. With each independent bookstore closing, I mourned that death as surely as a death in my own family. Faced with a shrinking account base, I doubled efforts in my remaining accounts, kept up mv sales, and didn’t worry. Heck, as long 102

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as I had any one to sell books to, I was a happy camper. Then, one fateful day in October, I was sitting at my desk, stuffing order forms into the spring 2000 catalogs, getting ready to hit the road for the accounts I would visit that week, when the phone rang. “Good morning,” I said brightly. My boss, Jack Richards, was on the line. I sat up a little straighter in my chair. “Kathy,” he began earnestly. I knew that tone. Jack called only when something was really, really wrong, or really, really right. I smiled to myself thinking, Maybe another bonus. “As you know, Kathy, sales are down in your region as a result of all the store closings,” he paused, as if expecting me to say something. If he was hoping I would get where he was headed, he was wrong. I didn’t have a clue. “We’ve been forced to take a hard look at our operations . . . and . . . well, Kathy, it’s the opinion of the partners that it is no longer cost effective to have a full-time rep covering your territory,” he cleared his throat. “We’ve got no choice, Kathy. We’ve decided to eliminate your position.” “You’re firing me?” I asked, incredulous. “As of today, that’s right.” ISSUE NO 16

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There was nothing but stunned silence on my end. For once in my life, I couldn’t speak. “Kathy? Kathy? Are you still there?” Want to know the rest of the story? Purchase your copy of THE PULPWOOD QUEENS' TIARA WEARING, BOOK SHARING, GUIDE TO LIFE and find out :).

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if you’d like to see what she’s been up to, check out Kathy’s latest art projects here . ISSUE NO 16

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CALL TO ACTION! FRIDAYS ARE ALL ABOUT OUR READERS! PLEASE JOIN OUR FACEBOOK GROUP - THE OFFICIAL INTERNATIONAL PULPWOOD QUEEN AND TIMBER GUY BOOK CLUB. LOOK FOR THIS GRAPHIC IN THE FEED.

LEAVE A COMMENT IN THE FEED UNDER THE GRAPHIC. 106

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READING NATION MAGAZINE READER RECOGNITION FRIDAYS

READERS INTRODUCE YOURSELF - WE WANT TO GET TO KNOW YOU! TELL US WHO YOU’RE READING AND IF YOU MENTION ONE OF OUR PULPWOOD QUEEN AND TIMBER GUY AUTHORS YOU’LL BE PUT IN A DRAWING FOR SOME BOOKISH SWAG FROM THE PULPWOOD QUEEN HERSELF, KATHY L. MURPHY. AUTHORS MIGHT POP IN WITH SOME SURPRISE GIVEAWAYS! HAVE FUN!

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Upcoming Events For Our Members *Taken from our Calendar of Events All events will be posted on The International Pulpwood Queen and Timber Guy Reading Nation Facebook page and on Kathy L. Murphy's YouTube Channel. We encourage everyone to join us live in 2021. Each event is an opportunity to show support, share stories, and make connections! Join Kathy L. Murphy and special guests every Saturday at 6:30pm CST for The Pulpwood Queen Book to Film Club. Go to the PQ website to see which movie will be discussed. Links to join are posted on our Official PQ Facebook group under Events. Guest Host schedule for The Pulpwood Queen Presents Her Picks: July 4th – 10th Deborah Goodrich Royce, Ruby Falls: A Novel July 11th – 17th Suzanne Kamata, The Baseball Widow July 18th – 24th Grace Sammon, The Eves July 25th – 31st Claire Matturo and Penny Koespel, Wayward Girls 108

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READING NATION MAGAZINE CALENDAR OF EVENTS

Featured Author Schedule for Tuesday Night Online Book Club Links to join are posted on our Official PQ Facebook group under Events and on the PQ website. July 5th July 12th July 19th July 26th

Deborah Goodrich Royce Suzanne Kamata Grace Sammon Claire Matturo and Penny Koespel

Writing Workshop (2nd Saturday of each month at 10am CST) Links to join are posted on our Official PQ Facebook group under Events and on the PQ website. JULY 9th: Alice Early author of “The Moon Always Rising” Details: Without understanding openings, point of view, and voice, writers have scant chance of enthralling agents, publishers, booksellers, or readers. Language–the words we choose, the sentences we create that together make that elusive “voice” – is key to the whole work, but never more than in the opening words when we first ask readers for their attention. Please join Alice to discuss language, point of view, and beginnings. (More information on the PQ website) ISSUE NO 16

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Pat Conroy Literary Center 601 Bladen Street Beaufort, SC 29902 Thursday through Sunday noon-4:00 p.m. Other times available by appointment

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If you’re a member of the International Pulpwood Queen or Timber Guy Book Club and have a story you’d like to share in the READING NATION MAGAZINE, I’d love to hear it. Book Club Reader Members that includes you! 116

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READING NATION MAGAZINE FYI

We love our readers and you will always have a place in the magazine to share your news. I’m looking for pets to feature on our If Our Pets Could Talk page, Authors’ and Their Art, stories about your local bookstores and libraries. As of

6/30 Reading Nation Magazine has received a total of 112,467 views! PQ & TG authors - the standard FULL PAGE ads to promote your books are only $50. That includes customized graphics that are shared with thousands of readers over several social media sites. This is a great way for new authors to introduce yourselves to the community and get your books in front of readers! If you’d like to submit your stories, send an email to readingnationmagazine@gmail.com.

If you’d like to place an order or read more about the advertising options go here

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WHEN YOU PURCHASE YOUR FAVORITE PULPWOOD QUEEN OR TIMBER GUY AUTHORS BOOKS HERE, EMAIL KATHY AT THEPULPWOODQUEEN@GMAIL.COM SHE MAY HAVE SOME SWAG FROM THE AUTHOR FOR YOU!

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Looking for some fun gifts for yourself or a book-lover in your life? Visit the New Swag Shop

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OFF THE PAGE River Jordan To hoard or not to hoard – that is the question. This word hoarder didn’t seem to be in my popular vocabulary until the show went on the air highlighting how incredibly hoardy some people can be. I have tried to tell my sons for years I am not such as these. I do not have ten thousand whatchacallits that I ordered late one night from the shopping network because they were such a deal. I do not have six of anything alike (to my knowledge). But I have other things – like antibiotics for my dog who died five years ago still in my fridge. Even though I have a new fridge they just got transferred because everyone knows that in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse those outdated antibiotics might keep somebody alive. You might laugh now but we’ll see whose laughing in the end. For anyone who has read, The Road, by Cormac McCarthy you know finding old 122

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antibiotics is better than finding solid gold. But, I digress. Here’s the thing that trips me up. Memory. Story. Things attached to the people I loved and love still even though they are gone to the over and beyond. This past week I had to finally go through the remaining fifty years of my mother’s ‘things’. Yes, I said fifty years. When she moved to Tennessee she brought fifty years of memories and all that went with it with her. Oh, and also maybe a hundred and forty years of memories from my Daddy’s old homeplace on Holmes Creek. Now, I must tell you our family inheritance of things we can’t part with are an old sign that says Boat Fishing 2.00/ Bank Fishing 1.00/No Swimming. (How far do you think that no swimming thing went?) But we have the sign and we have the money box that is up on a pole so a man can just pull up happy as you please and whistling the way fishermen whistle when they hear the fish are bitin’ – and drop his money in the money box slot. Children from three different generations were sent out there with the key that opened the box where they would gather damp dollars and the loose coins and come take part in the mighty counting of that twenty dollars. (My great-granddaddy always knew when someone slowed down and pretended to put a dollar in but did not.) We also have a door that was in ISSUE NO 16

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the house I grew up in and is about 100 years old. Now the door goes with us everywhere we go. And, I have a biscuit bowl, a huge wooden affair that belonged to my greatgrandmother on my momma’s side. And that about accounts for all the things we can’t part with in this world. Four things that would mean nothing to nobody else in this world. But we have our MEMORIES. And here is where I fall down because I have a very, good, long memory where these things are concerned so that I have spent hours trying to figure out where to give Momma’s crystal candle holders to. Never mind that I think they are glass and were made in Japan. (Yes, Japan. They are just that old.) But what gets me is I remember momma humming Christmas music and putting red candles in them and setting them on the table with all of her Christmas dishes and placemats. Every room in our house growing up had Christmas in it like it was Cracker Barrel gift shop on crack. But again – I digress. What I have trouble with is letting go of things other people loved. Things that remind me of them. Someone just asked me – What is that you are carrying? Why, that is my Daddy’s old cane pole he fished with at the creek. 124

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Are you going fishing? I will never fish again unless there is a Zombie Apocolypse in which I will be a champion worm slinger and a fish slayer. Then why do you have that pole? ‘Cause it was my Daddy’s silly. Who gets rid of their daddy’s fishing pole? Where’s the love? I have sixteen pocket knives that belonged to various people in my life. Growing up I never knew a man in my family that didn’t carry a pocket knife or a woman that didn’t carry a pocket knife in her purse. And you’d be amazed at how many times I’ve thought – If I only had a pocket knife but just because I own sixteen now doesn’t mean I have the presence of mind to carry one except that time I got busted for carrying one through airport security and they took it away from me. The problem is – these people are no longer alive and I think a part of me can’t let their things go because it would be like letting them go all over again. Momma’s hats, her jewelry, her favorite things. My grandmother’s statue of a blue jay. I’ve tried to get rid of for years. I can’t. It’s something she had on her dresser that she looked at that made her happy and she had so few things. And I have little pottery things my kids made in ISSUE NO 16

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Kindergarten for Mother’s Day and brought home. They vaguely resemble the thing they were supposed to be and they mean nothing to no one but me. What I seem to be trying to do in my hoarding of sentimental things is to keep people alive. To keep the preciousness of my son’s early years with me. To pull a piece of my Grandmother back to earth. To hear my Daddy whistling up a happy, fish-bitin’ storm. To see my mother happy like she never was at any time of the year except Christmas. The truth is – I don’t need any of it. And gently, ever so gently, I am letting some of these things go. So – anyone out there collect tiny little tea sets? Because my Momma did and I’ve got about twenty. Speak up now or forever hold your peace. I’m sure one would look beautiful up on that shelf where you have all the other things you don’t need and can’t use. Sending you peace, love, and light. River

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River Jordan is an author, speaker, teacher and radio host. As a southerner with a global perspective she is a passionate advocate for the power of story. River's writing career began as a playwright and she spent over ten years writing and directing. She is the best-selling author of four novels and a three spiritual memoirs. As a critically-acclaimed author her work has been most frequently cast in the company of such writers as Flannery O'Conner, William Faulkner, and Harper Lee. ISSUE NO 16

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Ruby Falls by Deborah Goodrich Royce

Named one of the most riveting books of Spring 2021 by Veranda Magazine! Named one of 30 books to read in May 2021 by Zibby Owens for Good Morning America! Named one of the best books for Mother's Day by Zibby Owens for The Washington Post! Like the chilling psychological thriller The Silent Patient, Deborah Goodrich Royce's Ruby Falls is a nail-biting tale of a fragile young actress, the new husband she barely knows, and her growing suspicion that the secrets he harbors may eclipse her own. When a little girl is abandoned by her father in a cave, can she grow up to be healthy and whole? Eleanor Russell is an actress at the top of her game when scars from a childhood wound begin to unravel the threads of her life. Fired from her show, she bolts to Europe and marries Orlando Montague, a man she has only just met. Back in Los Angeles, desperate to create the perfect life—new husband, new house, and a starring role in a Hitchcock movie remake—Eleanor believes it is all coming together. But her stability is threatened when Orlando reveals a sinister side, secrets from the past are unearthed, and the specter of the cave becomes unavoidable. Deborah Goodrich Royce's literary thrillers examine puzzles of identity. Finding Mrs. Ford and Ruby Falls will be joined by Reef Road in January 2023. Deborah began her career as an actress, starring as Silver Kane, sister of the legendary Erica Kane (played by Susan Lucci) on the ABC soap, All My Children. She went on to star in feature films such as April Fool’s Day and Just One of the Guys, JULY 2022 128 TV movies such as Return to Peyton Place and The Deliberate


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Stranger, and series such as Beverly Hills 90210 and 21 Jump Street. After the birth of her daughters, she moved with her family to Paris and worked as a reader for le Studio Canal Plus. In the 1990's, Deborah was the story editor at Miramax Films in New York. There, she oversaw readers, manuscript acquisitions, and script development, editing such notable screenplays as Emma by Doug McGrath, and early versions of Chicago and A Wrinkle in Time. With writing partner, Mitch Giannunzio, Deborah won a grant from the Massachusetts Arts Council in 2002 to develop and workshop their original screenplay, Susan Taft Has Run Amok. With her husband, noted small-cap investor, Chuck Royce, Deborah restored the 1939 Avon Theatre in Stamford, CT. Under her leadership, the Avon hosts an ongoing series of film luminaries, most recently, Mira Nair, Richard Gere and Chloe Sevigny. The late Gene Wilder, a longstanding advisory board member of the Avon, was an early advocate for Deborah’s writing. Deborah and Chuck have restored several hotels (Ocean House, Deer Mountain Inn, Weekapaug Inn, and The Margin Street Inn), a bookstore (The Savoy in Westerly, RI), and numerous other Main Street buildings in Westerly, RI and Tannersville, NY. Deborah serves on the governing boards of the New York Botanical Garden, the Greenwich Historical Society, and the PRASAD Project and the advisory boards of the American Film Institute, the Greenwich International Film Festival, the Preservation Society of Newport County, and the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach. She is a former trustee of the YWCA of Greenwich and the Garden Conservancy. ISSUE NO 16

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