Tuesday, July 17, 2018

#Book Tour - Juan Pablo and the Butterflies


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Young Adult
Date Published: June 2017
Publisher: Simon and Schuster

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Read Juan Pablo and the Butterflies Before It Comes Out On The Big Screen!!


Juan Pablo, a brilliant classical violinist, lives in El Rosario, Mexico’s Butterfly sanctuary. His grandmother Elena is the local medicine woman. The story opens with a bang: a group of narco-traffickers have posted banners signaling a takeover of their town. El Rosario is turned into a ghost town, but Juan Pablo must remain, as his grandmother has fallen gravely ill. His best friend Rocio and her grandfather (who owns the local cantina) stay as well, to help Juan Pablo care for the woman they all love. Just before Elena dies, she makes a startling announcement: she tells Juan Pablo it is time for him to follow the migration of the butterflies north--up through Baja into the United States and all the way to Pacific Grove, CA, another butterfly sanctuary, where, she promises, someone will be waiting for him.

Who this is becomes one of the mysteries fueling the novel.

After shooting up the town, the droguistas take over the cantina, demanding food and discovering Rocio hiding in the upstairs apartment. Juan Pablo must save his best friend and the love of his life. In desperation he uses one of his abuela’s poisons and inadvertently kills eight men. An epic chase begins, one that puts Juan Pablo and Rocio in constant danger on the ever so suspenseful and exciting journey north. Did I mention the story rips beginning to end?

A strong spiritual element is woven throughout the narrative, emerging as Elena’s unique, wise and sometimes comical understanding of the world guides our two heroes on the treacherous journey north. The spiritual element provides a strong counterpoint to the devastation, violence and ruined lives brought by the drug cartels operations on both sides of the border.



Praise for Juan Pablo and the Butterflies:

"The novel delves into a variety of hardships … the content is powerful. Flowers delivers a … touching contemporary novel that is … relevant in its treatment of drug-trafficking, immigration, and human rights issues.” (Kirkus Reviews)

In the otherwise quiet butterfly sanctuary of El Rosario, Mexico, Juan Pablo (JP), a thoughtful teen who loves playing his violin, recognizes the sound of drug traffickers that have taken over his town. His abuela, a doctor and naturalist, lies on her deathbed, from which she directs him to follow the butterflies’ migration to Pacific Grove, California. First, though, JP takes desperate measures to save his dearest friend, Rocio, from his town’s violent drug dealers. His actions yield a more dangerous result than anticipated, and JP must use his talent, wit, and abuela’s sage words to get himself and Rocio to safety. A thrilling series of events ensue that keep the reader wondering if the teens will make it to California alive. An abundance of heart-pounding action makes this a page-turner that adroitly deals with immigration, drug trafficking, and human rights issues. The story’s violence is offset by remembered conversations with abuela—both amusing and insightful—and the tender relationship between two young adults who have spent their lives together. (Booklist May 15, 2017)



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Excerpt



Machine gun fire!

Juan Pablo cracked open the door of his modest home, and peered down the darkened street. The bratatat sounded louder than the blaring music and a furious rev of engines. Like a hammer to glass, the onslaught of noise destroyed the quiet of the butterfly sanctuary. Headlights swept El Rosario’s plaza as several trucks and an SUV circled the cobble stone square. Armed men hung off the side of the trucks and the relentless barrage of their machine guns filled the star-filled night.

Narco-traffickers. Here in El Rosario, home to a billion Monarch Butterflies and the two dozen families who loved them.

Juan Pablo slammed the brightly painted front door with the rainbow colored “Welcome!” sign. For the first time in his life, he found the rusty old lock and bolted it. He rushed to switch off the lamp at his abuela’s bedside before collapsing to the floor. He finished his ninth desperate text to the Novedades de México, the major newspaper for Mexico City.

Help! Narco-traffickers are shooting up the plaza in El Rosario. No one is left but our neighbors Mario and Rocio Ruiz and my abuela, Dr. Elena Venesa. She is unconscious with a fever--we need a doctor. Please send help

After hitting send, he texted Rocio who was hiding in the Cantina:

Juan Pablo: They’re here.

Rocio: Outside.

Juan Pablo: Can u get here?           

Rocio: Too late. Under the bed. Scared. Praying. You? Elena?

Juan Pablo: Same. She is so still…

Rocio: Abuelo will request an ambulance for her.

Juan Pablo: Be safe Rocio. Don’t come out until they are gone. Promise me.

Rocio: I promise.

Juan Pablo stared with horror at his shaking hands. His violinist’s fingers, long, calloused, agile and strong, had never failed him before. He clasped them tight, and made his way to  to the door to listen.

Last week a large black, red and white banner, sporting a menacing el Diablo with sinister eyes and a leering grin stretched across the sole road into their sleepy town. This was how the drug cartel marked a territory and warned the people that the police could not protect them now.  The tourists had departed with most of the butterflies nearly a month before. Of the locals, everyone with relatives in Mexico City, Guadalajara or anywhere with a larger population and so somewhat safer, had packed up and left. Everyone promised to send help back to save the old lady they all loved, but no help ever came. No ambulance dared pass these murderous gangs.

Machine gun fire cracked like thunder and lightning into the sky.

          Would Rocio be safe under the bed? 

Born auspiciously one year, one month, one day apart from him, Rocio was his best friend in this life. (Even though she was bossy and they spent half the time arguing with each other, “like two puppies rough housing,” his abuela said more than once, “You Juan Pablo, such a know it all and Rocio always so bossy, this great cosmic dance between you two is hilarious already…) He closed his eyes, conjuring Rocio’s waist length dark hair and bright, teasing eyes, her skinny legs, and big feet.

Rocio’s uncle in La Peñita de Jaltemba, just north of Puerto Vallarta, begged them to leave before it was too late, but both Mario and Rocio had refused. They would not leave either him or his abuela. “Even if my abuelo could bear to lose the Cantina to the banditos, how could we possibly leave Elena and you, JP?”

Mario had agreed with his granddaughter. “Elena saved my beautiful wife’s life. She saw my daughter into this world and then Leonardo and Rocio. She taught Leonardo all she knows about the herbs and potions and helped him become a doctor too, bless her.” Rocio’s mother worked as a nurse in Arizona, helping to pay for Leonardo’s medical school in Puerto Rico and she was now very close to becoming a US citizen. “We owe everything to Elena, we all do,” Mario added. “Besides, Rocio would never forgive me if anything happened to you, Juan Pablo.”

You could sometimes reason with these modern day monsters, Mario had heard. Wasn’t it rumored that they sometimes paved a road or built a school or gave money to an orphanage? Mario planned to beg them to let an ambulance through for an old woman. “We will pay whatever they ask. Even the worse banditos would not let an abuela die for no good reason. And since no one is here but us and the butterflies, they will soon tire of El Rosario and be gone.”

Just keep Rocio safe. They wouldn’t hurt her, would they?

She was just a girl, only fourteen.

The relentless gunfire and booming music snatched the hope, replacing it with an escalating fear as he thought of the hundreds of stories of the narco-traffickers brutality and viciousness. “Like a deadly virus consuming my beloved country,” his abuela had shaken her head helplessly, knowing no medicine of magic with which to save Mexico from this terrible plague. Everyone had at least one relative, often more, who had lost their life’s savings, died, disappeared, or lived in fear of dying and disappearing. This army of the devil shot people for no reason anyone knew, and like demons from hell, they often tortured them first. They were known to disappear whole families, killing those police that they couldn’t bribe, and taking over whole towns before stealing everyone’s money. They recruited boys even younger than him, forcing them to rob, hide drugs, kill, or be killed. His abuela always imagined El Rosario, their tiny portion of paradise was at least safe, that the mountains and the butterflies themselves would always protect them. But this was not so anymore.

The gunfire and rev of engines abruptly ceased.

Unlatching the rusty lock, Juan Pablo cautiously cracked the door an inch in order to better hear. A man shouted orders, his loud demands rose above the noise of drunken laughter. Tajo, Rocio’s dog, barked frantically at the commotion. 

Gunfire sounded again, followed by Tajo’s surprised yelp.

 “No, no. Dios Mio.” Mario cried out, this barely audible. “Tajo. Tajo.”

Juan Pablo brows drew a sharp line above his green eyes.

Did they shoot Tajo? Why would they shot a little dog?

Sweet, friendly Tajo, their town’s mascot, Tajo whose wagging tail greeted the tourist buses, who followed them up to the meadow in the afternoons, Tajo who loved his violin’s music, Mario’s left over uchepos, and Rocio’s gentle hands. If they killed a small dog, what else could they do? Would they let an ambulance through to aid an old lady? Would they leave a young girl unharmed?

The answer ricocheted through his mind, but how could he stop them? He was just a teenager, tall maybe, but skinny too. He had no gun, power, and worse, no courage. He might love superheroes, but he was not one of them. All he knew was music and books; he was the exact opposite of an action hero.

He shut the door again, bolting it again.

His gaze found his abuela’s stilled form on the small cot.

How could the old woman fall ill now, when they needed her most?


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About the Author

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Most of JJ Flowers' published books are historical romance novels (Avon Books, Zebra Books,) many of which actually won awards and one of these awards was almost considered prestigious. She finally stopped being able to write these novels when she began having fantasies of killing off her heroines—in really dreadful ways. Her screenplays have been optioned at Warner Bros., Julian Krainin Productions, Bright Light Pictures among others; She suspects she holds the record for most amount of options! Two of her screenplays have received excellent coverage: The Good Fight, Clarence Darrow’s most compelling case where he successfully defended an African American physician who was falsely accused of murder and a two part miniseries Harriet Tubman: Let My People Go. As the world confronts the refugee and immigration crisis, Juan Pablo showed up to share his story, one that she thinks can offer hope for everyone.


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Thursday, July 12, 2018

#Book Tour - The Storyteller's Throne



New Adult Sci-Fi
Date Published: May 14, 2018

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A science Fiction novel tangled in the psychology of being human and the vulnerability of an unconventional Love story

Grace was born a storyteller with a beautifully brilliant mind. Trauma twisted her reality into its own tale of darkness. Now, at eighteen, Grace has found herself on the shores of a shadow world created to heal a generation. A world whose purpose is to release our emotions from the bonds of youth.
But she is not alone. It's a world inhabited by others, those working on their own hearts and one other like herself. An amazing and yet afflicted empath and musician by the name of Kai that Grace feels inexplicably drawn to.
Will she be able to handle the suppressed memories of her youth? Accept the vulnerability necessary to explore her own heart and that of another? Fulfill the true purpose it seems she is destined to serve?
Come along with Grace as she learns to uncover her past, harness her gift, open her heart to love and embrace her future.



Excerpt


It was just like Sen had said it would be.  All of a sudden, she just knew it was here.  It felt like time was catching up to itself so she could be hurled back into her own world.  Grace knew that there was no stopping it. She had just a few moments before all of the knowledge of this place would leave her, the Love, the Magic, the Pain, the Boy. 
Her heart, even though it had been Uncovered and glistened with the essence of pure emotion, began to break.  A small and life-altering crack edged along the perimeter.  It made a quiet rolling gesture along the surface of her heart and then as time found its trail of breadcrumbs back home, the crack made for the center.   It struck with the force of lightning.  All it left in its wake was a single Love letter.  A song he sang to her playing over and over again filling the void where her memory once was.
When she opened her eyes, she was alone in her bathroom again. The knife she held so long ago, was lying lifeless in the sink and all she could do was hum a strangely familiar tune, though she wasn’t sure where she had heard it before.                 


About the Author


Jocelyn Bates is a homeschooling mama to three and an arts therapist. She lives in NJ and writes in the elusive quiet that settles in the earliest of hours.








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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

#Book Tour - Arise from the Ashes


Write Now Literary is pleased to be organizing a virtual book tour for Arise From The Ashes: Stories of Hope, Anthology. The tour will run June 26, 2018.




About The Book
Arise from the Ashes, are stories of hope from seven women from all walks of life. These women who have gone through the fire, walked in places that others dare not tread, but women who are not ashamed of their scars and willing to bare it all. They share their journey of going from trials to triumph and pain to purpose. Arise from the Ashes is filled with inspiration, wisdom and life’s lessons from women who have endured personal pain and have come through empowered, encouraged and victorious. Genre: Non-Fiction, Inspiration








Meet Paulette
Visionary and Co-Author Chapter Title: Losing To Win Behind her smile is a woman who has learned the real meaning of endurance, faith and tenacity. Bestselling, award winning author, speaker and marketing specialist, Paulette Harper has authored several books, including her award winning novel Secret Places Revealed, and her award winning inspirational book Completely Whole. Her literary works have been spotlighted in a growing number of publications, including CBN, The Sacramento Observer and Real Life, Real Faith Magazine. As an inspirational speaker, Paulette’s presentations are inspiring, enriching and encouraging. Her ability to share and connect with her audience comes from her own life’s journey and experiences. She lives her life based on her motto: Intentionally Living Life on Purpose. Website




Meet Donna
Chapter Title: Unexpected Life’s Transitions Donna Moses passion is to pen works that will impact the hearts of readers, leading them to Christ. An avid reader, she founded Sistahs in Conversation & Sistahs in Harmony Christian Book Club. She is a retired nurse, graduate from Sacramento Theological Seminary And Bible College, and a member of Progressive Community Church. A Links Incorporated member, Donna is also a recipient of the Susan B. Anthony Award for her community involvement. Donna lives in Northern California with her husband, Raymond. They have four adult children and nine gifted grandchildren. Facebook





Meet Cassietta
Chapter Title: Not Forgotten: After the Storm Cassietta Jefferson is a contemporary Christian author, book reviewer, and blogger. She is the founder of Virtuous Ink Publishing where she seeks to provide her readers with the best in contemporary Christian literature. She earned her Bachelors of Applied Science in Healthcare Administration from Wayland Baptist University. Cassietta currently resides in Las Vegas Nevada where she lives with her husband of twenty years, retired United States Air Force Master Sergeant Ben Jefferson Jr. Facebook




                  Meet Angie Chapter Title: God Sees What We Cannot See Angie Jones is passionate about prayer and called to build prayer within the local church. Since the late 1980s, she has been involved with prayer ministries through intercessory prayer as a watchman on the wall, corporate prayer, prayer walks, prayer partners, and facilitating prayer meetings and conferences. She wrote a monthly publication “The Prayer Journal” which included articles on prayer, testimonies and prayer activities. As a co-leader of Community Prayer Conference Call connecting local churches in prayer, she leads a team of eighty-plus prayer team members and holds prayer trainings within the local church. An advocate for adoption, Angie lives in Fairfield, CA and is the mother of three adopted children. Facebook




                          Meet Michele
Chapter Title: Back Down Memory Lane Andrea Mills is a published author of several books writing under her pen name, Michele Mills. An inspirational speaker, visionary, and entrepreneur, she is the Founder and CEO of Love In Spite of Women’s Bible Fellowship, where Jesus Christ is Lord. Women’s ministry leader and Bible teacher, in 2014, Andrea launched the 1st Annual Prophetic Women’s Crusade, which was embraced by the mighty presence of the Holy Spirit, manifested through signs and wonders from God in Heaven. Andrea resides in Northern California. The mother of two children., Adrienne, her late daughter, and a son, Andrè. She also has three grandchildren: Charnell, Ronal III, and Chase Benjamin. Website





Meet Sydney 
Chapter Title: Hope Exists
Sydney Dela Torre is creative, passionate and funny. She has a heart for God that exudes in her writing. Her transparency and vulnerability are on display as she walks her audience through the fragments of her broken life so God may be glorified. Sydney has always been encouraged by others to “share her story.” From after school children’s programs to women and youth groups, her words open the window to her heart. Often witty, Sydney approaches some of life’s toughest challenges with candor, honesty and an understanding that no problem is too big for God. Personal discoveries, as well as spiritual growth, have proven to be a source of inspiration for her writings. Her works introduce real flawed characters who overcome obstacles through Jesus. Currently penning her first fiction novel, about God’s love and grace breaking down barriers and transforming hearts, she hopes to complete it soon. Sydney and her husband, William, reside in the breathtaking mountains of Arnold, California. Facebook





                     Meet Yolando 
Chapter Title: Unfailing Love Yolando Cooksey is a published devotional author in The Upper Room magazine and was recently published in an anthology, The Short and Sweet of It: When the Right Word is a Short Word. She enjoys writing as an expression of sharing her faith and her journey of developing an intimate, personal love relationship with Jesus Christ. Although raised in a Christian home, Yolando did not discover intimacy with God until after suffering several traumatic events in her life. The experiences God allowed Yolando to go through have been her motivation and passion to mentor teen girls and women to find the true meaning of real, authentic, and unfailing love. Yolando's foundation in Christ has been the guiding light in her writing and making a decision to return to school after retiring in 2015. Yolando is pursuing a master's degree in Social Work with a goal to counsel at-risk youth and children in the foster system. Yolando is a mother, grandmother, friend, and most importantly, a daughter of the Most High God. It is her dream that women truly learn who and whose they are! Facebook

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

#Book Tour: Daughter of Jerusalem & The You-Song


Write Now Literary Book Tours is pleased to be coordinating a book tour for author Joanne Otto. This is a two-month book tour for her books: The You-Song and Daughter of Jerusalem. This tour will run June- July, 2018.


                                                                     
Introducing Joanne
Joanne Otto is a lifelong student of the Bible who has taken four exciting tours of Bible lands and done extensive research, including numerous courses. She has taught foreign languages and English and more recently, as an academic language therapist, has helped dyslexic children strengthen their reading and writing skills. Also a music lover and amateur pianist, she especially enjoys accompanying singers. Website: http://joanneotto.com/



About the Book The You-Song celebrates, in a way young children can understand, the unique and vital place each of us occupies in God's world and encourages them to fill their place in it with joy. Written by a teacher who's helped many children overcome reading challenges, "The You-Song" is user-friendly, consisting of words that are either familiar or easy to decode. Lavishly illustrated with nearly 50 heart-warming photos, it's also fun to read aloud to pre-readers. Genre: Juvenile Nonfiction                                                                                           



About the Book
Daughter of Jerusalem" takes its 21st-century readers on a journey back to the first-century world of a young rabbi named Yeshua—better known to us as Jesus. Mara, the young heroine of this story, gets to mingle with the crowds who come to hear him teach during his visits to Jerusalem and, finally, to meet him face to face in a brief, life-changing encounter—one that comes at no small cost to herself. For middle-grade readers who want to use the book as a springboard for deeper study, there are Bible references and questions on each chapter, as well as a glossary. For others, the story itself will be the full journey. Genre: Christian

Fiction Purchase Link: http://amazon.com/author/joanneotto







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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

#WriterWednesday - BOUNCE BACK #BOOK TOUR


Write Now Literary is pleased to be coordinating a Blog Tour for Bounce Back: Tips for Overcoming Adversity, Life Challenges and Setbacks by Dr. Bridgette Jenkins. The tour will run June 4-29, 2018. Publication Date: May 19, 2018 Genre: Inspirational Non-Fiction
                                     

Bounce Back will encourage you to be intentional about facing adversity and challenges while staying positive about your situation. With practicality, wisdom and experience, Dr. Bridgette shares strategies and tips that can be used to help you Bounce Back from any negative life situation. After reading this book, and applying the practical Bounce Back tips, you will be able to withstand, recover from and overcome any challenge you might face in life.


Amazon eBook
Amazon Paperback


Introducing Dr. Bridgette Jenkins
Dr. Bridgette is a doctorly prepared registered nurse who specializes in education and community health. She has a heart for nursing students and those struggling to reach their education and career goals. She serves as mentor and coach to nurses and nursing students as they matriculate through the nursing profession. She is the owner of Health Education Institute where she teaches lifesaving courses to healthcare providers and the public. She also offers a variety of courses to healthcare providers to help them stay current on updates and changes within the healthcare arena. Dr. Bridgette also speaks at churches and community events on various health issues that are prevalent among vulnerable populations. She is the CEO/President of the Houston Chapter of Black Nurses Rock, a nonprofit organization committed to changing the lives of the citizens in the Houston area and surrounding communities through service and education. Bridgette resides in Houston Texas where she’s actively involved in her church and community. She is a mother to three adult children and a miniature schnauzer named Dallas. She is also MiMi to two adorable grandsons.


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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

#Book Release Blitz - Robert's Rules


Literary Fiction
North of the Tension Line, Book Three
Date Published:  May 23, 2018

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As the new Chairman of the Town Board, Fiona Campbell finds that life has become a series of petty squabbles, dull meetings, and papers everywhere, all complicated by her guardianship of the as yet unidentified screaming goat. In desperation, she hires an unknown newcomer, the compulsively orderly Oliver Robert, to run her office and keep her organized.

Roger’s fame as an idiosyncratic yoga practitioner continues to spread, and he and Elisabeth are looking for a new location to accommodate the growing crowds at their tiny coffee shop. Ferry Captain and poet Pali has an offer to leave the Island, and wonders whether it is time to introduce his son, Ben, to the larger world. Meanwhile, the Fire Chief is threatening to quit, and Fiona finds herself faced with an Island controversy and an unwanted set of new responsibilities.

As Pete Landry prepares to leave for one of his regular journeys, Fiona begins to suspect that his life may be more than it seems. His secrecy raises doubts in her mind about whether he can be trusted, and their breakup plunges her into grief.  The reliable Jim, always nearby, is all too ready to offer comfort.

Robert’s Rules is Book Three in the award-winning North of the Tension Line series, set on a remote island in the Great Lakes. Called a modern-day Jane Austen, author J.F. Riordan creates wry, engaging tales and vivid characters that celebrate the well-lived life of the ordinary man and woman.





Other Books in the North of the Tension Line Series:




North of the Tension Line
Published: May 2016

Fiona Campbell is a newcomer to tiny Ephraim, Wisconsin. Populated with artists and summer tourists, Ephraim has just enough going on to satisfy her city tastes. But she is fascinated and repelled by the furthest tip of Door County peninsula, Washington Island, utterly removed from the hubbub of modern life. Fiona's visits there leave her refreshed in spirit, but convinced that only lunatics and hermits could survive a winter in its frigid isolation.

In a moment of weakness, Fiona is goaded into accepting a dare that she cannot survive the winter on the island in a decrepit, old house. Armed with some very fine single malt scotch and a copy of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, Fiona sets out to win the dare, and discovers that small town life is not nearly as dull as she had foreseen. Abandoning the things she has always thought important, she encounters the vicious politics of small town life, a ruthless neighbor, persistent animals, a haunted ferry captain, and the peculiar spiritual renewal of life north of the tension line.






North of the Tension Line, Book Two
Release Date: May 23, 2018
Publisher: Beaufort Books



All is not well north of the tension line. A series of unsettling nighttime incidents have left the islanders uncertain whether to be nervous or annoyed. Are they victims of an elaborate teenage prank, or is there a malevolent stranger lurking on the island? Meanwhile, out-of-state owners of a new goat farm seem to consider themselves the self-proclaimed leaders of the island; Pali, the ferry captain, is troubled by his own unique version of writer’s block; and Ben, the captain’s ten year-old son, appears to be hiding something. But it is only when the imperturbable Lars Olafsen announces his retirement, and Stella declares her candidacy for office, that the islanders realize trouble is brewing. Fiona must decide whether it is time to leave the island for good, or to make another reckless gamble.

Book two in the award-winning North of the Tension Line series, The Audacity of Goats is the continuing tale of Fiona Campbell, and her reluctant adventures among the pleasures, mysteries, and exasperations of small town life







 Excerpt


Pete looked over at Fiona. “That stop sign…I’m sure it was only a suggestion.”

“Never mind,” said Fiona blithely. “There was no one around.”

“I’m here,” said Pete.

She glanced at him briefly and returned her eyes to the road.

Pete sighed pointedly, but continued the conversation.

“It’s never occurred to me that books should match,” he said.

“That’s because you read. Well, also probably because you’re male,” Fiona conceded. “But serious people. I mean, people who care about ideas, and about actually reading, don’t have matching books. If anything, their books are a haphazard reflection of the search for knowledge, reflecting the wanderings of a person’s curiosity. There’s nothing matching about that.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever been to a house with matching books.”

“How about a house with just one set of encyclopedias and not one other book? Have you been to one of those?

“Encyclopedias? Who has encyclopedias anymore?”

“Well, you know what I mean.”

“You have thought a great deal about this.”

Fiona looked sheepish. “Yes. Because it’s a form of pretention, and I detest pretention.” She pulled into a parking space that had been more or less invented between the cedar trees and pulled on the brake, continuing the conversation without turning off the engine.

“It’s showing off that you have books, even while it’s clear that the books are only props. And, also,” she confessed, “it bothers me because their houses are so beautiful, and mine is full of haphazardly unmatching books.”

“And stacked everywhere, by the way. We need to get you some more bookcases. But if it’s clear that the books are props,” he said, returning to the main point, “isn’t it also clear that the person doesn’t actually read them? In which case, I would argue that it’s not pretension, it’s actually the opposite: no pretense whatsoever, just, perhaps, shallowness. Now, if an unserious person were to have lots of unmatching books that he had never read and were trying to make people believe that he’s read them, that would be pretentious. So, you should shift the focus of your wrath to owners of never-read, unmatching books. Leave the poor matching people alone. They don’t know what they’re missing.”

Laughing, Fiona looked at him and shook her head. “Stop looking so pleased with yourself.”

“I am pleased, though. I have unmatching books, and I read them. Q.E.D. I feel smug.”

“If you were the kind of person who felt smug, I wouldn’t like you.”

Pete smiled. “I feel smug about that, too.”

Laughing and shaking her head, Fiona turned off the engine. They gathered their things from the trunk of the car and headed off toward the water and its rocky beach. “How would you even find the book you wanted if they were all wrapped in matching paper?” asked Pete, slinging the straps of the beach chair bags over his shoulder.

“Exactly,” said Fiona.



About the Author


J.F. Riordan was born in New Jersey and first moved to Michigan, then Wisconsin as a child. At the age of 14 she decided to become an opera singer, and was fortunate in the aftermath to have been able to sing. At 16, after two years of high school, she went to the University of New Mexico to study voice, continued her music studies in Chicago and Milwaukee, and ultimately became a professional singer. Homesick after years of travel, she came home to the Midwest, finished her college degree, and became certified to teach high school. She taught for three years in the inner city before taking a position as a program officer for a foundation. She lives in exile from Washington Island with her husband and two dogs. North of the Tension Line is her first novel.



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Friday, May 18, 2018

#Book Spotlight - Radio Underground





Historical Fiction
Date Published: November 15, 2018

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With swift, bold, and powerful writing, debut author Alison Littman captures the epic and devastating uprising against the Soviet regime in Cold War Hungary, illuminating a time in history when news, rock ‘n’ roll and underground journalism forever changed the lives of those living behind the Iron Curtain. Radio Underground tells the story of a family ripped apart by the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 as a mother and fanatical underground journalist relentlessly goes to battle against the communist government, putting the lives of her daughter and husband at risk when she commits a calamitous murder. She is banished to a secret, underground prison where she faces madness, torture, and a possible death sentence. Years later, her daughter must decide to save the mother who discarded her, or leave her life to fate. A beautiful, relevant novel that explores the lengths and limits of love, family and the power of expression.

“Radio Underground tells a thrilling story of family and loyalty in the face of oppression. Its richly evoked historical setting took me back to the Cold War era, while its warm-blooded characters stole my heart. A propulsive read and a timely reminder that maintaining our humanity requires courage as much as love.” -- Kim van Alkemade, New York Times bestselling author of Orphan #8 and Bachelor Girl

“Set during the Hungarian revolution of 1956 and its heartbreaking aftermath, this vivid and compelling novel is a story of courage, family and the importance of "breaking the silence." -- Susan Breen, author of The Fiction Class.


 Excerpt

A black Zis-110 idled ahead of me, the car’s curtains drawn on its passenger windows. I shivered at the sight of the secret police’s hallmark car, thinking of all the friends who had disappeared for no reason, taken away by henchmen in the middle of the night, never to return. It was no coincidence the Zis looked just like a hearse. I scurried onto a side street, dodging the car and the poor captives I assumed sat, trembling, inside of it.

I tiptoed past the Ministry of Interior, where red geraniums lined the building’s windows. In the secret prisons below, police tortured people with whips, limb crushers, nail presses, and scalding and freezing baths. Or else they just executed them. But the geraniums were always fresh.

I slid my fingers across the building’s dusty exteriors, imagining I could somehow transfer my nerves onto the cold, unfeeling brick. I had snuck through the streets after curfew for years, but tonight was different. I could feel the regime sensing our newfound courage, like a dog pushing its nose high into the air, catching the subtle perfume of a rabbit nearby.

After walking several blocks, I spied smoke unfurling in the path before me, like a languid snake expanding as it digests a fresh kill. Following it, I found Antal, his eyes closed, relishing in a cigarette.

“Antal, it’s me,” I said, coughing on the smoke now choking me.

Antal smiled and opened his eyes, his cataracts reflecting the glow of the street lamps. “Eszter, it’s good to see you.”

“It’s good to see you too.” I kissed Antal on both cheeks, feeling his dry skin against mine and wondering how long he’d been outside waiting for me in the cold.

“Tell me, what information do you have for me today?”

“It will happen tomorrow,” I said. “Today, technically.”

It was already past midnight.

“So it’s here, isn’t it?” Antal said.

“Yes,” I said. “I went to their meeting. The students decided they’re going to march. I heard them talking about gathering arms.”

“How many people are participating in this … this march?” Antal asked as he stamped his cigarette into the ground and lit another one.

“Hundreds, thousands, maybe. I can’t be certain.”

“It doesn’t take a genius to predict how Gerő will react.”

“Gerő will slaughter them,” I said, feeling dizzy as I said aloud what we both knew. Hungary’s leader, Erno Gerő, was a Soviet puppet with an arsenal at the ready. “Without enough people hearing about it and organizing, it will just be a bloodbath.”

Antal fell back against the brick wall, suddenly losing his breath. He was always so levelheaded, so much so it often drove me to even greater heights of anxiety as I tried to compensate for his indifference. His fingers, still clutching the cigarette, quivered as his eyes searched the space behind me.

“The state radio will probably ignore this and just keep spewing out its propaganda,” he said.

“Exactly. We’re going to print with this too. But Realitás won’t reach enough people in time. An announcement on Radio Free Europe is the students’ only hope.” I held on to Antal’s shoulders to steady him. “It has to happen first thing in the morning, so people will have time to plan.”

The closest Radio Free Europe outpost was in Vienna. If Antal left now, he would get there by four in the morning.

“I already have meetings scheduled in Vienna for today,” he said. “I’ll visit our Radio Free Europe contacts as soon as I get there and cancel my other meetings to get back in time for the march. Gerő will think I cut short a routine visit to be by his side.”

Our lives by day were lies—Antal’s more than most. He served as the regime’s Deputy Interior Minister. After being forced to coordinate the executions of his friends—communists who threatened the power structure when they became too popular—he resolved to undermine the regime in any way possible. He began relaying intelligence to the American-run Radio Free Europe. With the freedom to travel at will and deep knowledge of the government’s inner workings, he also became an asset to Realitás, the underground newspaper I ran.

“It’s already one in the morning,” I said. “What will you do when they ask you why you’re crossing the border so late?”

“This is normal for me. I go to Vienna at all times of the day and night, just to keep them guessing. Just in case I run into a situation like this.”

“Smart. Well, you better leave now before Gerő tries to get in touch.”

We both knew Antal’s phone could have been ringing right then. I wondered what it would cost him—or his children and grandchildren—if he wasn’t there to answer it.

“I’ll be back,” Antal said, coughing into his hands, still shaking from what I knew was the fear we all shared.

“Wait.” I pulled out a tattered piece of paper, wincing as the cuts in my hand protested the sudden movement. “Take this with you. A student gave it to me yesterday. It’s a coded list of meeting points and times for the march. You have to get this on air too.”

Antal nodded as I slid the paper into his coat pocket, making sure to secure the meticulously crafted plans of the brave, hopeful students. They probably didn’t even realize that at this moment, Soviet troops were almost certainly readying their tanks at a base nearby.



About the Author


Alison Littman lives in San Francisco where she is a writer by day and standup comedian by night. She has contributed to magazines on John F. Kennedy and The Beatles, writing feature stories on listening to rock ‘n’ roll behind the Iron Curtain and the Cuban Missile Crisis. She produces two comedy shows in San Francisco and performs at clubs, bars and alternative venues throughout the city. This is her first novel.

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