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What Book Do You Want to Read, Ask Kirsten Mortensen @KirstenWriter #AmReading #Romance #Suspense

In the Mood: What Book Do You Want to Read Right Now?
By Kirsten Mortensen

Oh, how I envy people who know exactly what kind of book they like to read!

Because if you asked me what books I like, I’m not sure how I’d answer.

The problem is, my “taste” changes from day to day—even hour to hour—depending on all kinds of factors. The mood I’m in. What books I’ve been discussing lately with my friends. How my day went, even!

Because I’m a writer, I read some books out of curiosity. Although I enjoyed science fiction when I was in high school, for example, I didn’t touch it at all for many years. Now I’ve met some sci-fi fans and I’ve become curious about the genre. I’m reading a sci-fi book now by the novelist Sarah Hoyt, and I’ve picked up some classic sci-fi titles for my TBR pile. I love how it’s expanded my reading world!

Another type of book I enjoy is classic literature, but I have to be in just the right frame of mind to tackle it. So often, classics are denser and longer than genre or “poplit” books. I think of it like the difference between stopping at taco stand and booking a reservation at a 5-star restaurant. Both meals can be fun and satisfying, but one demands a bit more of a commitment. The next classic I plan to read: Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas.

Sometimes all I want is to escape. You know that feeling? I want to read something that just takes me away from day-to-day life—something that gives me a rest from the hassles of paying the bills, getting over a head cold, or whatever other little problems are bothering me at the time. For this, the prescription is a fast-paced, plot-driven book. When Elmore Leonard passed away, for example, I bought a couple of his novels, and wow, I enjoyed them. Fun, fast-paced, and often laugh-out-loud humorous. Perfect escapist books!

A related feeling I have, sometimes, is the desire to become aware of the reality of the non-physical or spiritual dimensions of life. I satisfy this by reading non-fiction books on spiritual topics or first-person accounts of spiritual experiences. I recently read a book by Mason Winfield on supernatural phenomenon in Upstate New York, and I loved how it made me slow down and think about the impressions the past leaves on the present.

I find reading non-fiction to be very settling, so I gravitate toward books about history as a way to feel calm.

So how about you? Do you look for different kinds of books depending on your mood?


A woman's worst nightmare

Drugged by something...that makes her think she's fallen in love.

All Haley Dubose has ever known is beaches and malls, clubs and cocktail dresses.

But now her father is dead.

And if she wants to inherit her father's fortune, she has to leave sunny Southern California
for a backwater little town near Syracuse, New York. She has to run RMB, the multimillion dollar
chemical company her father founded. And she has to run it well.

Keep RMB on track, and she'll be rich. Grow it, and she'll be even richer. But mess it up, and her inheritance will shrink away before she gets a chance to spend a dime.

Donavon Todde is her true love. But is it too late?

He's RMB's head of sales – and the more Donavon sees of Haley, the more he's smitten.
Sure, she comes across at first as naïve and superficial. But Donavon knew Haley's father. He can see the man's better qualities stirring to life in her eyes. And Donavon senses something else: Haley's father left her a legacy more important than money. He left her the chance to discover her true self.

Donavon has demons of his own.
He's reeling from a heartbreak that's taking far too long to heal. But he's captivated by this blond Californian, and not only because of her beauty. It's chemistry. They're right for each other. But has Donavon waited too long to woo this woman of his dreams? Because to his horror, his beautiful Haley falls under another spell. Gerad's spell.

A web of evil.

Gerad Picket was second-in-command at RMB when Haley's father was alive. And with Haley on the scene, he's in charge of her training. But there are things about RMB that Gerad doesn't want Haley to know.

And he must control her. Any way he can.

Romantic suspense for your Kindle

Will Haley realize that her feelings are not her TRUE feelings?
Does Donavon have the strength left to fight for the woman he loves?
Will the two of them uncover Gerad's plot to use RMB pheromones to enslave the world?
And even if they do – can they stop it?

Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre – Romantic suspense
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Kirsten Mortensen through Facebook Twitter

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THE BEAUTIFUL AMERICAN #Excerpt by Marilyn Holdsworth @M_Holdsworth #AmReading #Historical

THE BEAUTIFUL AMERICAN, by Marilyn Holdsworth

“Oh, no,” she wailed the moment the door opened revealing the two guards. “The guillotine,” she cried. “It is to be today. Dear God, dear God, have pity on my soul.”
“Oh my dear, my dear,” Elizabeth Monroe soothed, pushing past the two guards and rushing to Madame LaFayette’s side. She stooped down, took the trembling woman’s hands in hers, and knelt down beside her. “No, no; it is nothing like that. I am Elizabeth Monroe. My husband, James, is the United States minister to France and a longtime friend of your husband. They fought together in our revolution,” she explained. “I have come to visit you, assure you how very concerned for you my husband is. We are going to do all we can to help you.” She placed her arms around the sobbing, frightened woman’s shoulders, continuing her reassuring words in soft, flowing French.
I stood watching from the doorway as Mistress Monroe calmed and comforted Adrienne LaFayette. Disregarding the filthy surroundings, Mistress Monroe continued to crouch down before the distraught woman, holding her hands as she spoke. When at last she rose, she drew Madame LaFayette to her feet and embraced her.
“Merci beaucoup, thank you for coming,” Adrienne LaFayette whispered, wiping her eyes. “I was sure they had come to take me to the guillotine. I was so very frightened. My family is all gone. I thought for sure they had come for me too,” she said, fighting back the tears.
“Of course you did, my dear, but have courage. Be assured that James will do all he can for you,” Mistress Elizabeth promised, patting her gently on the shoulder before joining me at the door. “We must go now, Jasmine, get back to the Folie as soon as possible. We must tell James of this poor woman’s deplorable state.”
She glided gracefully back down the long dingy, hall, past the guards to the prison door, where Michael was waiting to escort us safely back to the carriage.
You can read more about The Beautiful American, by Marilyn Holdsworth at: http://marilynholdsworth.com/the-beautiful-american/

As a novelist, I draw on many real life experiences to provide background for my books. After completing studies in Literature and History at Occidental College, I became a staff writer on a travel magazine, and throughout my career I have traveled extensively all over the world. Because I love horses, I owned and trained them. I support horse rescue and wild mustang preservation. Based on my experience with horses and my research on abuse issues, I wrote Pegasus.

As a descendant of James Monroe, I did extensive research at the James Monroe Museum in Virginia about him and his wife Elizabeth Kortright Monroe. I also visited their home, Ashlawn/Highland in Albemarle County. This resulted in my novel, The Beautiful American. Making Wishes, was based partly on my experiences as creator, owner and operator of a greeting card company.

Making Wishes

Elloree Prince is an attractive, creative young woman who marries a wealthy businessman, Tom Randall. After courting his bride with unrelenting determination, Tom moves her into old-moneyed Oak View, where generations of Randalls have lived for years. Outwardly, Elloree appears to settle into raising their two sons within Oak View's stifling social structure, but inwardly, she yearns for her artistic work. 

An unexpected phone call from Mark Williams, her former employer, offers her the career opportunity of a lifetime, and she must make a choice. She is torn between her devotion to her sons and her love for her work. Her decision to return to Wishes, Inc. brings dramatic life changes to her and the people she loves.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Women's fiction
Rating – PG-13


"Abby Long is thrilled when she offers the winning bid for an antique desk at an auction. With its intricately inlaid woods and elegant style, the desk is perfect for Abby; it is the gift she promised herself to finally celebrate her thriving antique business. She has no idea that the antique desk holds a secret that will lead her on a fascinating, life-changing journey back in time.
When Abby discovers a hidden diary stuffed inside a secret compartment in the desk, she can hardly wait to read the spidery, faded script. As she carefully turns the tattered pages, she reads the captivating story of two remarkable women from opposite backgrounds who somehow manage to form an unforgettable bond against the backdrop of a fledgling America struggling to find its place in the world. Elizabeth Kortright Monroe, the wife of James Monroe, and Jasmine, a young slave girl, develop an extraordinary relationship as they are united by pivotal historic events, political intrigues, and personal tragedies.
 From a bucolic Virginia plantation to the bloodied, starving streets of post-revolutionary Paris, this powerful tale follows the lives of two courageous women from the past as they quietly influence—and inspire—a woman of today’s world."

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Historical fiction
Rating – G


Widowed at thirty, Hannah Bradley is a successful journalist focusing on animal abuse issues. An accidental meeting introduces her to lawyer, Winston Caughfield III. Drawn to Hannah’s gentle beauty and fierce commitment to her work, Win joins her in a fight to save wild mustangs from slaughter. Together they rescue a badly injured horse with a mysterious background. Hannah’s search to discover the animal’s true identity leads them into a web of black marketeering and international intrigue. 
Action packed with crisp colorful dialogue the story propels the reader to a race against time conclusion. Marilyn Holdsworth delivers a gripping tale of mystery, adventure and romance guaranteed to hold the interest and capture the heart. She brings true-life characters together with real-life issues to create a fast-paced irresistible story.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Contemporary fiction
Rating – PG
More details about the author
 Connect with Marilyn Holdsworth on Facebook & Twitter

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A LIFE LESS ORDINARY #Excerpt by Victoria Bernadine @VicBernadine #ChickLit #AmReading #BookClub

Craig preceded Manny into his office then stood behind his desk and watched as she closed the door and sat down at the table. He frowned at her.
“It’s not like you to not pay attention in a meeting,” he said.
Manny sighed and shrugged. “Sorry, Craig.”
“This isn’t about losing out on that promotion, is it?”
“Not intentionally, but now that you mention it–”
“I’ve already explained it to you. We had no concerns that you could have done the job.”
“That’s a relief, especially since I’ve been doing it.”
Craig gave her a warning look at her slightly sarcastic tone and continued, “We want to go in a new direction. We decided we needed somebody fresh, not burdened by the years of history and ‘how things used to be’. We needed somebody–”
Craig’s lips tightened. “New ideas, Manny. Somebody with new ideas, to take your area from the status quo to high achievement.”
“Our status quo is high achievement.”
“Higher, then.” Craig paused and stared hard at her. “Are you going to be able to work with Steph?”
“Of course. I’m nothing if not professional and dedicated to my job.”
Craig nodded, his eyes boring into hers. “And I appreciate that. I’d hate to think you’re not a team player.”
Manny flushed but held his gaze for several beats. Craig seemed satisfied by what he saw and nodded to indicate the conversation was over. Manny walked to the door, then paused and turned back to him.
“Craig? Do I have any chance at all of moving up in this company? I mean, I’ve been here for fifteen years–”
“There’s always a chance, Manny. You’ll just have to wait and see what comes up.” He gave her a thin smile, then sat and turned his attention to his computer.
Manny left thoughtfully; she knew a brush-off when she heard it.

For the last fifteen years, Rose “Manny” Mankowski has been a very good girl. She turned her back on her youthful fancies and focused on her career. But now, at the age of 45, she’s questioning her choices and feeling more and more disconnected from her own life. When she’s passed over for promotion and her much younger new boss implies Manny’s life will never change, something snaps. In the blink of an eye, she’s quit her job, sold her house and cashed in her pension, and she’s leaving town on a six month road trip.
After placing a personal ad for a travelling companion, she’s joined in her mid-life crisis by Zeke Powell, the cynical, satirical, most-read – and most controversial – blogger for the e-magazine, What Women Want. Zeke’s true goal is to expose Manny’s journey as a pitiful and desperate attempt to reclaim her lost youth – and increase his readership at the same time. Leaving it all behind for six months is just an added bonus.
Now, armed with a bagful of destinations, a fistful of maps, and an out-spoken imaginary friend named Harvey, Manny’s on a quest to rediscover herself – and taking Zeke along for the ride.
Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre – ChickLit, Contemporary Fiction
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
 Connect with Victoria Bernadine on Twitter

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Does Not Play Well With Others - CASKETS FROM COSTCO #Excerpt by Kelly Wilson @LiveCheap #Memoir

Does Not Play Well With Others

I’ve always had really good friends. Except one.

It wasn’t until the Christmas season of 2006, after I had been in counseling for a good five months, that I formally met my new friend: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I have attempted for years to make fun of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is a dangerous game. It’s similar to poking fun at the largest, scariest bully at your school and assuming you won’t get beat up.

For me, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is like a good friend – I refer to “PTSD” as a “she.” I’m not sexist; this is just how I see her in my mind’s eye. A necessary girlfriend, but with chronic PMS. A temperamental – and even volatile – friend who does not play well with others and whom I dearly love.

It’s a strange relationship.

I would like her to have a different name. The acronym “PTSD” is labor-intensive to say. People love their acronyms, especially in education – the RTI data for ELL is required for the IEP, which is then used during SST. When I taught elementary school, I used to collect acronyms and put them on Bingo Boards, one to a square, then mark off each one as it was said in a staff meeting. Five in a row was a BINGO, awarded with a cold, frosty beer (after work, of course).

A pastor at a church I once attended loved acronyms so much that one appeared in every sermon. Taking his lead, I proposed the new Young Marrieds Group be called “CULT” – Couples Under Leadership Training. Nobody went for it.

PTSD doesn’t do her justice in a descriptive way either, like when women say that their “Aunt Flo” has come to visit – if you’re female, you know exactly what this means. PTSD has been called a lot of names, like Battle Shock, Combat Exhaustion, Shell Shock, and Battle Fatigue. But these don’t quite describe the kind of friend I’m talking about – one who will tell you that in fact your butt does look fat in those jeans, or that the hair on your upper lip has grown in a little too thick.

Maybe a name based on actual symptoms would work. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder survivors experience a variety of the following:

the memory or memories of a traumatic event (seems obvious, I know)
this event involved intense fear and the feeling of helplessness
intrusive recollections of the event, or elements associated with the event
distressing dreams, flashbacks and hallucinations
triggers (sights, smells, sounds, calendar dates or seasons of the year) that bring on psychological and/or physical distress

But how does all this information translate into real life?

For me, it’s mostly about triggers. I can’t go into a maternity ward without severe stress since both of my children and I almost died while staying in one. Certain smells or tones of voice will send me over the edge, along with feeling out of control, and there are many others.

My triggers occur during the holiday season more than any other time of the year. In December 2006, my husband and I found ourselves on a rare date night, free of our two young boys, ages four and one at the time. We decided to spend it doing one of the activities we loved best – wandering.

We arrived at Fred Meyer and browsed the fake display trees covered with dazzling colored lights and ornaments for sale. We held up ones we thought were particularly funny or tacky, like the Santa doing the hula while wearing sun glasses.

“Ugh,” I said. “Santa.”

“Why don’t you like Santa?” Jeff asked.

I shrugged. We had this conversation every year. I had never been able to explain it, just like I could never explain getting sick every Christmas.

We wandered separately for awhile through the rows of shiny dishes and sparkling decorations. Jeff and I met up again, surrounded by fuzzy stockings and satiny tree skirts.

“Hey, look at this!” he said, turning around to face me.

Jeff’s face was covered by a mask of white felt beard, eyebrows, and a Santa hat. His eyes peered out anonymously.

“Oh,” I said. My stomach churned. I felt like I was falling, unable to breathe, reeling in murky water, drowning.

“What? What is it?”

“My dad,” I said.

“Your dad?” Jeff removed the mask. His expression was a combination of confusion and concern. After all, I had not seen my biological father in over ten years.

“He used to dress up as Santa for Christmas.”

“Oh.” Jeff frowned. He watched me for a moment. “Let’s go home.”

I wiped sweat from my forehead as we shuffled toward the car. I felt feverish, clammy, and panicked.

The next day, I explained what had happened to Hannah. She nodded with understanding. “That’s very familiar.”


"Oh, yeah. You had a trigger. You’re dealing with a condition called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.”

“Oh.” I felt relieved. My panic from the night before had a name. “Wait. What does that mean?”

"Well,” Hannah said, “it means that you had – and will continue to have - an intense emotional reaction about past trauma.”

“Oh. But past trauma is past, right?” “Not necessarily.”

“And that’s the best name they can give this terrible experience?” I asked.


So, yeah, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder needs a new name, one that adequately describes her. One of my suggestions is:

Previous Overwhelming Trauma, Smothering Memories Overpowering Knowledge, Emotional Rollercoaster = POTSMOKER

That’s better. Easy to remember and simple to say. But it does discriminate against actual pot smokers, because smoking pot doesn’t necessarily mean you suffer from PTSD. Back to the drawing board.

What about other forms of figurative language to help explain PTSD symptoms through comparison in the form of a simile or metaphor?

Scared Shitless Disorder (does this mean that when a trigger occurs, one actually poops one’s pants right then? Or does it refer to constipation as a result of the trigger?)

Panic Attack – I know this is an actual disorder, and I believe it’s very aptly named. The idea that the panic is attacking you – brilliant!

Deer in the Headlights Disorder – not a great acronym, but it’s pretty descriptive.

Maybe describing it in a song would help. As a mother of young children, I understand the importance of song lyrics when helping kids learn and process information. Why couldn’t there be a song that PTSD survivors could sing to help explain the disorder? Memory from the musical Cats seems like the most appropriate:

Terrifies in the moonlight
I can smile at the old days
I was non-triggered then
I remember the times of overwhelming fear
For me, the memories live again
I have many distressful dreams
Reliving the trauma
I awake in a sweat
In the flashbacks
I’m right back in the thick of the shit
Sometimes I just want to forget

That’s a good idea, but the song is a bit morose. Clear, but depressing.

I thought about inserting a couple of vowels in between the P, T, S and D – maybe PiTSaD – but it simply sounds like a melancholy armpit. That doesn’t really serve as an explanation of the disorder in any way.

Maybe there are events or conditions that won’t be mocked. Maybe they’re too serious, like the scariest bully in school. Plus, I think PTSD would prefer I suffer through saying each consonant over and over. And even as unrelenting as she can be, I’m grateful to her friendship.

Without her, I wouldn’t be able to heal.

About the Author: Kelly Wilson is a comedian and the author of Caskets From Costco, a funny book about grief that is now available in print and ebook formats from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes. Read more and connect with Kelly at www.wilsonwrites.com.

Caskets From Costco
For twenty years, Kelly Wilson thought that she had been marching through the stages of grief in a straight line. She had been following the formula, crossing each processed grief experience off her list.

Except that Kelly was totally deluded. And she didn’t discover that until Jim, her beloved father-in-law, died. She found herself drying off from her shower the morning after his death, really hoping that he couldn’t see her naked. Or, if he could, that he was averting his eyes.

From that moment, Kelly's path through grief resembled a roller coaster, spiraling and twisting and turning, circling back around. Echoes of past trauma, including childhood abuse and cheating death, would no longer be ignored. She somehow needed to get from the beginning to the end of this grief adventure, and she doesn't have a good sense of direction.

But what is always present during a journey through grief, regardless of the path chosen?


Caskets From Costco is a funny book about grief that demonstrates the certainty of hope and healing in an uncertain and painful world.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Memoir, Humor
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Kelly Wilson on Facebook & Twitter

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@MargaretWestlie on the Narrative of "Anna's Secret" Opening Like a Flower #HistFic #AmWriting #Mystery

I have been steeped in the stories about my ancestors since my birth. They may have even seeped into me through the walls of the womb. Anna’s Secret is a story I’ve heard many times from various people. The latest version was from my Uncle Harold. He said that one of our own people was suspected of the crime of murdering Anne Beaton with a turnip hoe. It was said that she was no better than she should be and was doing a little marital wandering with someone in the community. For a long time the smithy was suspected. He was in custody for a period but was finally exonerated and left Prince Edward Island for good. Ultimately the authorities decided that the crime was perpetrated by a woman and was in fact, a crime of passion. This last was pronounced with great relish. They never found the person responsible. It seems that Anne had greatly riled a wronged wife, and probably several.

The story caught my imagination and I began to wonder: what if she wasn’t who they thought she was? What if the reason for her murder was entirely different? What if the murderer was discovered? Who would it be? Her husband? The wronged woman? The man she was said to be involved with? There was a lot to play with here. In a technical sense, how close to reality could I be without offending descendents? Not too close, I decided. Anyway, it’s more fun to write what pops into my mind and see how it plays out.

As I wrote, the narrative opened like a flower as I examined the individuals who I decided were involved. Who were they? What relationship did they hold to Anna and to her family and to each other? How did Old Annie figure into it? After all she was a daft old woman who had to be transported to gatherings in a wheelbarrow because she couldn’t be left alone. Most of the time she didn’t know anyone and lived in her mind very far in the past with people she knew in her youth. What did she have to do with Anna’s murder? After all, she and Anna had been life-long friends.

And what did it do to the community? Their sense of safety was shattered and people took to locking their doors, some even in the daytime. This was in a community that never locked its doors even in my grandmother’s time. I remember this from my childhood. The only time the door was locked was if they were going to be away for an extended period because, what if someone needed something and they weren’t home to give it to them? I remember my own mother telling me a story about an old man who peddled goods and trinkets door-to-door. He was a little simple as they say here. They woke up one morning and discovered him asleep on the lounge with a blazing fire in the stove. After the murder, people were afraid to walk out alone at night.

As the story progressed it took awhile for me to realize who the real perpetrator was and the denouement was almost as much a surprise to me as it will be to you.

Anna Gillis, the midwife and neighbour in Mattie’s Story, has been found killed. The close-knit community is deeply shaken by this eruption of violence, and neighbours come together to help one another and to discover the perpetrator. But the answer lies Anna’s secret, long guarded by Old Annie, the last of the original Selkirk Settlers, and the protagonist of An Irregular Marriage. Join the community! Read Anna’s Secret and other novels by Margaret A. Westlie.
Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre – Fiction, mystery, historical
Rating – G
More details about the author
 Connect with Margaret Westlie on Facebook & Twitter

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