Lori Ryan

Rachel Thompson

Aicha Zoubair

Friday, October 31, 2014

WHERE HAVE I BEEN ALL MY LIFE? by Cheryl Rice @RiceonLife #AmReading #Memoir #Women

How could I not have noticed just how adorable he was? I must have been so focused on getting Alan to see my point during our couples’ counseling sessions that I’d hardly had time to glance at the referee. But those sessions had ended. And now here I was—sitting alone on the couch directly across from him, absorbing the gaze from his soulful blue eyes, and wondering what I had been missing.

His third-floor office, cocooned in a converted Victorian house—the house of my dreams—smelled cozy, like pinecones. My hands were sweating and my heart was pounding. He was just my type: dark hair, wire-rimmed glasses, a trim physique and boyish grin masking an impish and intelligent curiosity. He asked me about my relationship with my mom and if I was sharing my sorrow with Alan, while I was thinking about how nicely that tweed jacket fit him. He looked at me with what felt like an unprecedented intensity and listened to me with a rapt attention that threatened to unwrap the gooey, gory, and oh-so-tender places deep inside me.

So I began therapy with David, hoping for a psychic sanctuary. What I didn’t expect was to immediately find myself thinking obsessively about him between sessions, planning the outfits I’d wear to my appointments, and wondering if he preferred chocolate chip cookies with or without nuts.

Yes, I did want to heal. But, I also wanted to curl up in his lap and purr.

Where Have I Been All My Life

Where Have I Been All My Life? is a compelling memoir recounting one woman’s journey through grief and a profound feeling of unworthiness to wholeness and healing. It begins with the chillingly sudden death of Rice’s mother, and is followed by her foray into the center of mourning.

With wisdom, grace, and humor, Rice recounts the grief games she plays in an effort to resurrect her mother; her efforts to get her therapist, who she falls desperately in love with, to run away with her; and the transformation of her husband from fantasy man to ordinary guy to superhero. In the process, she experiences aching revelations about her family and her past—and realizes what she must leave behind, and what she can carry forward with her.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Memoir
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Cheryl Rice through Facebook & Twitter

HUSH #Excerpt by Kimberly Shursen @KimberlyShursen #AmReading #MustRead #Thriller

Minneapolis, Minnesota
August 21

Twenty-eight-year-old Ann Ferguson covered her ears to avoid the imminent, deafening roar.

“Pass the salt, pass the salt, pass the goddamn salt!” the crowd shouted, waving hands overhead as Buffet’s “Margaritaville” resounded through the speakers.

Just another typical Friday night in downtown Minneapolis—the lighting in Donita’s Pub dim, the air thick with pheromones while blenders zapped ice, lime, and tequila into margaritas.

“Feisty crowd tonight,” Jess said to Ann, pushing her long, naturally curly, strawberry-blonde hair behind one ear.

“Always is.” Ann took a sip of white wine.

Stiletto heels, form-fitting jeans, lips lacquered in hot pink or ruby red mingled with Brooks Brothers’ suits, dress shirts, and silk ties. Looking for soul mates or one-night stands—all the hoopla bored Ann.

“This thing tickles.” Ann lifted up the sticky-backed, fake hair and scratched under her nose.

Noted for their creative fundraisers, tonight the money collected at the door of the bar to purchase faux moustaches would go to prostate cancer research.

Ann leaned back against the paver brick wall of the renovated warehouse. Standing room only, members of generation X and younger were squashed shoulder-to-shoulder, rear end to rear end.

Ann pushed her bangs back off her forehead. It was only last week that she’d held her breath as her thick, dark, shoulder-length hair was cut into a pixie. Dark eyes raking the room, she wished she was home curled up on the couch, watching a movie.

Jess cocked her head to the side. “You need to get out more.”

“And you need to find another playmate.”

Ann and Jess had lived together for three years, and though polar opposites, they’d become best friends. Growing up in a small town in southern Minnesota, Ann offered the pragmatic side of the friendship while Jess added the excitement. At five feet two, Ann was small boned and petite. Jess, with her full hips and robust breasts, towered over Ann by a good six inches. Unlike Jess who enjoyed showcasing her breasts with low-cut, scooped necklines, Ann was comfortable in her faded jeans and tank tops.

“Picture, ladies?” A roaming photographer asked, decked out in a white shirt and red bowtie.

“Absolutely.” Jessica squished her cheek against Ann’s, a margarita glass clasped in her hand. 

“Photographer from Minneapolis-St.Paul Magazine,” Jess whispered.

“Great,” Ann said sarcastically, “my parents will be so proud to see their daughter in a bar.”

“Hey.” The deep voice startled her, and Ann turned around quickly. “I hope you don’t think I’m too forward, but you look familiar.”

Jess tapped Ann’s knee nonchalantly.

Ann stared at the handsome man blankly. “I don’t think we’ve met.” However, there was something familiar about him. Dark hair parted to the side, a few strands fell casually over his forehead. He grinned, giving way to a dimple in his right cheek.

“You come here often?” he asked.

“Second time.” Men had come up and struck up a conversation when Jess had dragged her to a bar before. But, just like the others, once this hunk found out Ann wasn’t into one-night stands, he’d move on. Ann took a sip of her wine, and the phony moustache toppled into her wine glass. “Oh no.” 

Feeling her cheeks grow warm with embarrassment, she quickly reached into the glass and pulled out the sopping wet hairpiece. She wrinkled her nose. “Disgusting.”

He grinned, his dark eyes settling into half moons. “Oh…so, that isn’t real?” he asked poker-faced.

She shook her hand until the small fluff let loose of her finger and fell to the floor. “I forgot I had it on.”

“Whoa! There’s my song,” Jess said excitedly and started to shoulder her way through the crowd to the strobe-lit dance floor.

Ann watched Jess disappear, knowing she’d purposely left her alone with this stranger. She wasn’t good at this and, again, wished she were home.

“Ben.” He offered Ann his free hand, the other wrapped around a Samuel Adams.

Ann pointed at her ear and shook her head, signaling she couldn’t hear.

He leaned into her. “Ben Grable,” he said over the noise.

“Ann,” She slipped her hand into his, eyeing him. Suit coat draped over an arm, his tie hung loose around the open collar of his light blue, dress shirt.

“You wanna dance or—” He got out before someone shoved him, spilling his beer down the front of his shirt, droplets falling to Ann’s sandals.

“Whoa”—she picked up her foot—“that’s cold.”

Ben took a few steps back, brushing the beer off his tie. “Sheesh, I’m sorry. You okay?”

Where had she seen him before? She waved a dismissing hand. “I’m fine, but this noise is a killer. I think I’m going to call it a night.”

“Wanna get a burger or something?” Ben blurted.

“If you’re asking if I will go with you in your car,” she said, raising an eyebrow, “the answer is no thanks.”

“If I am asking you to go two doors down to grab a burger,” Ben asked with a sheepish grin, “what would the answer be?”

“Sure.” Her eyes lit up. “If it’s quieter than here, I’m game.”

Ben followed her through the maze to the dance floor. After Ann found Jess and told her she was leaving, Ben put his hand in the small of her back, sending a tingle up her spine.

Groups of men and women passed them on the sidewalk—their inebriated laughter echoing through the brightly lit streets.

A foot taller, Ben looked down at Ann. “You must think I’m pretty cocky just walking up and introducing myself.”

“Actually, I’m glad you did. Definitely not my scene.”

“Well, you looked as uncomfortable as I was.”

Ben opened the door of the tavern for her. Tally’s was crowded but not nearly as loud. Peanut shells speckled the black-and-white tile floor, and men wearing denim shirts and cowboy boots waited for a turn at a video game. A trio of middle-aged women with painted on smiles huddled together on the barstools, their puffy eyes darting from man to man. The aroma of burgers and onion rings filtered through the long, narrow space, making Ann even hungrier.

“Not much ambiance here,” Ben apologized as the shells cracked beneath their feet.

“But a much tamer crowd.”

Ben stopped at an open booth. “This okay?”

“Perfect.” Ann slid in.

“Want a beer or something?” Ben asked, sitting down across from her.

Ann thought for a couple of seconds. “I’d rather have a Coke.”

“Me, too. Diet or real?”

“Diet?” Ann made a face. “Yuck.”

“I’m with you.”

“What can I get you two kids?” a waitress asked, her weathered face giving away her age.

“Two real Cokes”—Ben glanced at Ann—“and this young lady is starving.”

“I would love a cheeseburger, American cheese, medium-well,” Ann said. “And is that onion rings I smell?”

“Yes, ma’am.” The waitress smiled proudly. She folded her arms over her red-and-white checked shirt. “Best in Minneapolis.”

“Great,” Ann said. “Oh…and ranch dressing on the side.”

The waitress turned to Ben.

“Exact same thing for me,” Ben told her.

Ann leaned back in the high-backed booth. “Most guys take their burgers medium-rare.”

“Not into E-coli.”

“Smart man.”

“So,” he said, locking his hands together and placing them on the Formica tabletop, “what’s your story?”

Ann waited for the waitress to put the drinks in front of them. “Do I have to have one?”

“Everyone has a story.”

No one had ever asked what her story was. For some reason, Ann didn’t feel as uncomfortable as she usually did when she first met someone. She tilted her head back, her eyes focusing on a stain in the ceiling. “Pediatric nurse. Raised in Worthington—”

“Ah…the turkey capitol,” Ben said casually.

Ann’s eyes grew wide. “How’d you know that?”

“Big turkey fan,” Ben answered with a straight face.

“You are not.”

“Love their combs.”

Ann giggled. “You’re putting me on, right?”

“I was in Worthington for a conference once.”

“There was a conference in Worthington?” she asked as she tore the wrapper off the straw.

“On that one, I’m not fibbing. Had to take a class.”

She raised an eyebrow. “In…”


Ann wrapped her hand around the soda glass, not taking her eyes from him. “You’re a lawyer?”

“Hello?” Ben grabbed his tie and waved it a few times. “Don’t I look like one?”

“Do they all look alike?”

“According to all the lawyer jokes, we do,” Ben said.

The waitress served the burgers and onion rings with two sides of ranch dressing. “Anything else?” 

The older lady put a hand over her hip.

“Mustard,” Ben and Ann said at the same time.


Soon after Ann Ferguson and Ben Grable marry, and Ben unseals his adoption papers, their perfect life together is torn apart, sending the couple to opposite sides of the courtroom.

Representing Ann, lawyer Michael J. McConaughey (Mac) feels this is the case that could have far-reaching, judicial effects -- the one he's been waiting for.

Opposing counsel knows this high profile case happens just once in a lifetime.

And when the silent protest known as HUSH sweeps the nation, making international news, the CEO of one of the top ten pharmaceutical companies in the world plots to derail the trial that could cost his company billions.

Critically acclaimed literary thriller HUSH not only questions one of the most controversial laws that has divided the nation for over four decades, but captures a story of the far-reaching ties of family that surpasses time and distance.

*** Hush does not have political or religious content. The story is built around the emotions and thoughts of two people who differ in their beliefs.

EDITORIAL REVIEW: "Suspenseful and well-researched, this action-packed legal thriller will take readers on a journey through the trials and tribulations of one of the most controversial subjects in society today." - Katie French author of "The Breeders," "The Believer's," and "Eyes Ever To The Sky."

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Thriller
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Kimberly Shursen through Facebook and Twitter

@MargaretWestlie on Retirement, Writing and People Who Have Helped Her #AmWriting #Historical

Is your family supportive? Do your friends support you?
Now they do.  I get more encouragement from others outside the family than I do from family members.  That’s what the family I belong to is like.  I think it’s partly because they don’t really understand what it takes to conceive of and construct a novel.  Everyone thinks it’s easy when it is all consuming and demanding when I am in the creating phase.
Do you plan to publish more books?
I already have two others published and another one about to be published, then two more to go out this fall.  We are planning a local book launch, and a marketing campaign that is to begin this week (first week in May).  I have about eight others in manuscript form and two others that I am currently working on.
What else do you do to make money, other than write? It is rare today for writers to be full time…
We are retired and this is our second career.  I am very fortunate.  I never thought when I was working on novels that in retirement the writing would take off.  I never thought I’d be co-owner of a publishing company.  I never thought I’d have ten manuscripts ready for publication (three already published) and over 200 poems to my name.  For so long I was just a nurse doing the job that nurses do.  Mind you, I was doing it well and I enjoyed the patients but it was very tiring, and I was getting older and finding that I had less stamina, and a sore back from all the lifting.  When my husband said why don’t you retire, I can support the two of us, I took the chance and went on to study music, then got channelled into writing.
If you could study any subject at university what would you pick?
Probably clinical psychology, history or Womens’ literature.  When I passed my RN exams, one of the residents said that with grades like that I should have been a doctor.  If I had stayed in medicine I would have become a psychiatrist.  I think the human psyche is fascinating.    However that seems not to have been my path, and I went on to literature earning a Masters’ degree in English  with an emphasis on prose and poetry from UMKC.  I looked into going on  for a PhD, but their program was such that it required a double major and only some departments offered the kind of oversight in areas that would have been my choice.  It would have been more for interest’s sake than actually using the studies to further my career as a writer.  I already had all the tools I needed.
How do you write – lap top, pen, paper, in bed, at a desk?
I write prose at a desk on a laptop with a larger keyboard attached.  I write poetry in my blue chair with a pen on a leather clipboard that I have had since graduate days.  I love my clipboard.  It speaks to me of the wonderful world of imagination, imagery and juxtapositions of ideas, quirky and otherwise.
Where do you get support from? Do you have friends in the industry?
I get a tremendous amount of support from my husband.  He has always encouraged me and made it possible for me to go to graduate school.  My brother is also very good to cheer me on.  He keeps saying that Mattie’s Storyshould be turned into a play!  I also have friends who are very encouraging and a few writers who have become my friends over time.  One of my professors called three of us aside one evening after class and said:  “You three keep on writing.  You have what it takes.”  Wow!
Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge and thank for their support?
I keep my thank you list up to date with cards and notes and acknowledgements in my books.
There are too many people who have helped me on my way and given freely of their time and advice and wisdom.  A few who have been especially helpful are Nancy Beth Guptill of Sweet Spot Marketing, Gary Ramsey, reference librarian at the Confederation Centre Library in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Patti Larsen, writer, Marilyn Russell, English Professor (deceased), my husband, John, who does the computer work and proofing for me, Lori Cheverill at Bookmark, an independent bookstore in Charlottetown.  Also Francis Warner of St.Peter’s College, Oxford, has been very encouraging and helpful. So many others.  I have been very fortunate in my mentors.
Every writer has their own idea of what a successful career in writing is, what does success in writing look like to you?
A career in writing means putting a new book out every year at least.  I hope I don’t run out of ideas.  I am meticulous about producing a finished novel so it takes me a few months to get it all the way I want it after the story is put on paper.
It is vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing, tell us about your marketing campaign?
We have been working with Nancy Beth Guptill of Sweet Spot Marketing for almost a year now.  She has guided us and taught us a lot of the ins and outs of successful on-line marketing.  We have just this month begun tweeting, blogging specifically on writing topics, and Facebooking.  I have been playing with the blog since last summer just to get the feel of writing one every week.  It’s not always easy to come up with topics.  I took a month or so off this spring because the weather had been so bad and all we were able to do was stay indoors and work.  We had about 15 feet of snow but there is only so much you can say about the weather and the day to day work of writing and publishing.
Tell us about your new book? What’s it about and why did you write it?
Anna’s Secret is the story about a murder in Lyndale, Prince Edward Island, that took place in the mid-nineteenth century.   Her name was Anne and the hollow where the murder took place is called Anne Beaton’s Hollow to this day.  The real story is that an ancestor of my own was the one who did her in with a turnip hoe.  He was acquitted and subsequently left the Island.  My uncle who told me the story said they ultimately decided that it was a woman who did the deed, and that it was crime of passion.  Anne was, as they used to say, “no better than she should be” and was said to have been having an affair with the woman’s husband.  I took the fact of her murder and fictionalized it.  I examined Anna’s relationship with her own husband, son, neighbours and friends and the impact it had on the whole community.  The ending that I created is pretty much unexpected and for reasons that no one in the fictional community guessed.

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

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

@KentBurden Dishes on Writing Ideas & How He Decides What to Write #NonFiction #Health #Wellness

I often get the question “how do you decide what you’re going to write about?” it’s a pretty valid question, unlike someone who writes fiction I don’t have to come up with a story or a plot I just have to come up with a subject, but what subject? As a health and wellness expert my choices are endless, exercise, stress reduction, weight loss, nutrition and all the sub categories that go along with healthy living. But how do you decide what to spend your valuable time and energy writing when we all know that some books will sell and some won’t. How to chose a topic that people will want to buy and will be something I want to delve deeply into. I’ve written 7 books (and counting) and I’ve chosen subjects based on key word searches, surveys, market research and a coin flip. But sometimes a topic just chooses you.
 A few years ago while working at a high end California spa,  I was sitting at my desk in my office reading a popular men’s magazine (I was on my break– I swear) when I came across an article that said new research proved that sitting for extended periods of time increased your risk of getting diseases like diabetes, heart disease obesity and certain forms of cancer and that doing 30-60 minutes of exercise a day wasn’t enough to counteract the damage that sitting did. The article even claimed that as far as negative health effects were concerned, sitting was just as bad as smoking! To top it off it stated that people who sat more during the day were heavier than people who moved around and spent more time standing during the day regardless of how much they exercised.
I remember sitting there feeling like I had just been kicked in the crotch by Chuck Liddell. This is not what they had taught me in my six years of college. It’s not in the literature they give you for your personal trainer certification and no one was talking about this at fitness conferences. This had to be complete and utter bull s#!t. So I did some research myself and what I found shocked me, and the deeper I dug the more I began to think this new discovery might just have merit. 
The first thing I did was go back through my records. As a trainer you always have clients that trouble you. They work hard in their sessions, say their doing all the things you tell them to do on their own, insist they are sticking to their diet program, but never can get to the goal weight loss they set or they can’t seem to get their blood work numbers were they need to be. I always chalked it up to the “they think they are but there not syndrome”. Many people fool themselves into thinking they are doing things that they aren’t actually doing, you’ve seen it. The person who says they eat healthy but over the course of the day eats 20 mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups from the office candy dish and then scarf down half a quart of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey Ice Cream while watching Game Of Thrones just before bed. But maybe I was wrong, maybe they had been doing everything I had been telling them to do but what I was telling them to do just wasn’t enough. Low and behold when I checked all of my trouble clients had jobs like accountant, lawyer, software designer and author all jobs that had them sitting all day long.
I called a couple of the researchers that had been quoted in the article and came away with the distinct feeling that this was big. I mean the-sky-is-falling big. This was when I decided I HAD to write the book. I pulled together all the research I could find, I talked to all the major players in the field. I collected opinions on how best to counteract the deadly effects of prolonged sitting,  then created movements that could be done anywhere (even in the office) so people could discover new ways to be healthy. For me the hardest part was figuring out how to make all these facts and medical research interesting enough to actually read. The bottom line is I was on fire!  I needed to spread the word and get these simple, effective tools into people’s hands. That’s how my book, “Is Your Chair Killing You? A Healthier You in 8 Minutes a Day” was born. No market research, no key word searches and no coin flips. It also happens to be my bestselling book so far. Things that make you go hmmmmm.

Sitting for extended periods of time is as bad for your health as smoking cigarettes. And exercising for 30-60 minutes a day isn’t enough to undo the damage from extended periods of sitting. Is Your Chair Killing You reveals shocking new research showing that sitting for long periods greatly increases your risk of developing obesity, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer. Our bodies were designed to move constantly over the course of the day, but most of us sit for hours a day at work and at home! Fitness and wellness expert and award-winning author Kent Burden has created brief, simple movements you can incorporate into your daily life to combat the damaging effects of sitting. These simple movements, done standing for 1-5 minutes each hour will burn calories, energize and refresh you, and you won’t even break a sweat; you’ll even improve your back pain. This book is a how-to for weight loss and disease prevention. Read this book–you’ll be healthier in as little as 8 minutes a day.
Nominated for the Dan Poynter Global Ebook Awards and won honorable mention at the Los Angeles Book Festival
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Non-Fiction
Rating – G
More details about the author
Connect with Kent Burden on Facebook & Twitter

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

@MarcADiGiacomo on an Author's Mind, Real Life & Writing Fiction #GoodReads #Thriller #TBR

Beware! Enter at your own risk. Just kidding, really, come on, authors are just like everyone else, right? Maybe. Since I published my second book, people still look at me the same although, I am much more recognizable to my hometown crowd. I constantly get asked, “Is that part true?”

There is a concern as to how people view me since my books are so graphic in nature. There is a lot of violence, as police work can occasionally be. Mostly, I feel for my wife, especially when she gets asked about the sex scenes within the books. People assume that is part of your real life when in reality, these situations are complete fiction. An author can fantasize about anything and incorporate those thoughts into a working manuscript. It happens to me all the time. I’ll meet someone or hear something and boom, it’s in the book. Of course, I change it all up to protect identities but most people would kill to be portrayed within the pages of a novel. It’s a cool thing, like being an extra in a movie.

I don’t know exactly how I come up with the stuff I do, I guess I’m lucky in one way, I have good material. I just hope, the well doesn’t dry up anytime soon. Because if it does, I’ll have to take this job on the road.


The small town of Hutchville, New York is turned upside down. No longer is it the quaint, sleepy, suburb of New York City. Detective Matt Longo is back on the job and embroiled in his latest nightmare. Further complicating matters is the revelation of his partner’s corruption and organized crime ties; Donny Mello has left a bitter trail of lies and deceit. With his kid brother and newly promoted Detective Franny Longo by his side, will Matt be able to put his past behind him?

Special Agent Cynthia Shyler, (F.B.I.) has been reassigned due to her meeting with Matt Longo. Will this move complicate their relationship? Or will a new stranger in town spin a web that entangles the entire Hutchville Police Department, especially our most seasoned detective, Matt Longo?
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Thriller
Rating – R
More details about the author
Connect with Marc A. DiGiacomo on Facebook & Twitter