Monday, May 22, 2017

Detailed and beautiful written



Detailed and beautiful written account of Catherine of Aragon, first wife of Henry the Eighth. Amy Licence has the skill bring historical figures to life. Her keen sensitivity speculates what might have happened on Catherine's first fateful wedding night. With an artist's eye, she recreated the bold pageantry of the Tudor court, so much so that it transports the reader, her attention to detail in unparalleled. Licence delves deeply into Catherine's world, describing the proud heritage that built her royal self-worth. The uncertain young bride, and then despairing widow, first beloved by Henry, then finally scorned and cast off wife. Her stubborn refusal to step aside. Licence covers her rise and fall, the ebb and flow of the people who surrounded her. This is a grand biography, that allows the reader to see Catherine the queen rather than Catherine the victim.

Happy Reading!
Carole P. Roman

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day Weekend!

In Turkey- Ephesus

I adored my mother.  She was the kindest person I had ever met.  If she didn't have something nice to say, she left it unsaid rather than hurt anyone's feelings.  To her, everybody's art project was beautiful, any meal cooked was delicious, even when she hated it.  She was not just a good sport, but a great sport and I miss her every day of my life.

She passed from lung cancer eight years ago in an aggressive fight against a vicious invader.  She was young, even at 74, and I couldn't wrap my mind around not having her here.  She was my best friend for as long as I can remember and I am sharing this story for that one reason.

My wedding 36 years ago- I thought she looked magnificent!


My Mom always bought me gifts.  Sometimes expensive, sometimes not, old, new, it didn't matter, she decorated my house with bits of her personality so I could rest my eyes anywhere and revisit a memory.

I bought her things as well, but I was always more creative and tried to put a personal spin on it, just to remind her of our special relationship.

She was depressed very often.  Life had been hard for her.  My parents struggled with finances, health issues, family problems.  While they kept the household and the children happy, I knew what she carried on her back.  She was one of those people who couldn't share her load.

The year I was going to be married, I knew was very hard for her.  I was the first chick to leave the nest.  She depended upon me for a lot.  I helped with the housework, chauffeured my brothers, entertained my grandmother who made her home with us.  She never complained, but I knew she was heart sick that I was moving out.



I found an inexpensive Asian jar.  I bought it because it seemed exotic.  Sitting at my typewriter, I wrote up hundreds of memories.  Asking my grandmother to help, we listed specific things that happened at my birth, family stories that made us laugh.  Things to remind the reader of a minute in our life when something special had happened. I took these captured moments and folded them into tiny paper twists and stuffed them in the jar.  Putting a paper band across the top, I wrote- "Do Not Read Unless Emergency"  


Well, she opened the jar and read every last one of my wisps of our fond and silly memories and that jar stayed beside her bed for the rest of her life.  She said it was the best present she had ever gotten. Ever. Period.

Now, as I wake in the morning, I will look at my own bedside and see her jar.  Who knows, in case I need it I may read up on a memory or two.  I guess that's a gift that keeps giving.



Wishing you all a very happy Mother's Day!

With Love And Gratitude,
Carole P. Roman

Happy Mother's Day!!!!

the two of us- I was eighteen
My grandmother made her home with us when I was growing up. Maybe it was really the other way around, we made our home with her. She was sort of the master of the house, ruling with a wooden spoon.

I was born in Coney Island and lived in her house until I was three. She made the move with us to Rosedale, Queens when my parent's purchased their first house, then finally to Long Island, when we moved to the suburbs. I bought my own first house in the same neighborhood, so I could see her everyday.  She was the heart of soul, the centerpiece of our family. 

My grandmother was old her entire life. She came to this country when she was twenty-four, she often told me Calvin Coolidge was President. Her father died of consumption when she was three, her brother two, and her sister still in my great-grandmother's womb. My great-grandmother divided her children into assorted homes so she could support them by being a cook in a university. She had a gothic childhood that used to send shivers down my spine. It made me grateful for the simplest things I had and the security of knowing I was loved.

My grandmother was fostered with a rich aunt who's idea of discipline involved hours of kneeling on hard, dry lentils and beans that dimpled her delicate skin.

She had happy memories though, like when her hair was curled with sugar water and her mother surprised her with a blue lace, dropped waist dress for graduation. I adored this story and made my mother hunt high and low for a similar dress for my junior high gradation. She found it, my grandmother curled my hair charmingly, and I felt I honored her that day. I still have the dress in my closet.

She was bright and pushed to become a teacher, unheard of in her day. Her mother feared for her, Europe was volatile and she sent her to another relative in America where she was seen as ungainly and unmarriageable at the ripe age of twenty-four.

her passport picture
She married my grandfather in an arranged marriage made by his dying wife and her aunt while they were in the same hospital ward becoming a mother overnight to his two children and soon had another on the way. She told me she was blessed with a mother-in-law who taught her how to take care of the children. She had no household skills, and my great-grandmother patiently treated this shy girl as if she were her own daughter.

My grandfather was an immigrant, a furrier who lost his job because he refused to knuckle under union demands. They lost everything. She had saved a bit. and bought stock in an up and coming company called Bell Telephone. 

My horrified grandfather made her sell it all. He told her it would never work.

Eventually, she managed to save enough to buy a small apartment house that got gobbled up in the Great Depression.

Undaunted, she opened a candy store, ending up running numbers for  the infamous gangster Dutch Schulz, who furnished my impoverished family with coal and necessities when she ended up being booked by the Newark police. I don't think she had much choice and did what she was told to keep her family safe. She nearly gave birth to my mother in the local jail. There is a mugshot of my very pregnant grandmother somewhere in the annals of Jersey criminal history.

When she was released, she went right back to work, cooking rose petals from her garden into a sweet syrup for ice-cream, and keeping credit for people who couldn't afford to buy the necessities that only a candy store in the thirties could bring.

She sent clothes and food home to Europe to her family, going without for herself, making sure her mother, sister, and brother had what they needed. 

She was a gentlewoman, never calling any of her friends by any other name than Mr. or Mrs. So and so. I never heard her curse, not ever. 

She worked her entire life at one job or another, taking in her dead sister-in-laws five or maybe it was six children when their father remarried. She cooked every meal as if she was feeding an army. There was always a seat and a full plate at her table.

We all deferred to her. She was our queen. When I was in kindergarten, my mother brought her to the mother's day recital. 

We were to dance and sing around the room and then present our mothers with hand-made posies of paper flowers. I can recall it like yesterday. My mother gave up her seat, standing behind her own mother and watching me with pride. I loved my mother. She was the finest person in the world. I remember dancing, biting my lips. What was I supposed to do? My mother was here, I made the bouquet for her. But my grandmother sat in the front row. She was important, we all deferred to her. I made a decision. I looked at my mother, we exchanged a meaningful glance. I must have had apology in mine. 
Me, my grandmother, and my mom

I walked to my grandmother, my eyes on my mom and handed her the posy. My grandmother's eyes watered with happiness and gratitude. My mom didn't wait. She grabbed me in a bear hug, kissing me while she whispered with fierce pride that I was the best daughter in the world. She was so proud of me and I absolutely did the right thing. 

I know I said I was sorry, but we had to honor Bobbie first. She told me, she wouldn't have it any other way.

My grandmother came to all my graduations, proud that I became a teacher, like her, she told me.

Later, when I entered the business world, she  said I was following her footsteps there as well.

She taught me to always look forward, and that I could change my mind and do two or even three things at once. I could be anything I wanted to be.

My grandmother died when she was eighty-six. She had seventeen grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. 

In her lifetime she was a teacher, businesswoman, bookie, seamstress, cook, saleswoman, all while she was a wife and mom. 

She could beat the daylights out of me with in both scrabble and canasta, all while touting she had only two week of night school where she learned to read and write English.

She read stories to my boys, showed me how to handle a wicked diaper rash, and cook a delicious chicken soup. She taught me how to talk to my parents when they were being unreasonable. She sat with me watching television when I felt lonely. Told a great story about life in another time.

She was a powerhouse of information. 

We read books together, she enjoyed romances that we passed around between my aunts, my mother and me, comparing our take on the story.

my grandmother, Laura Greenhout Ross 1898-1985
I miss my grandmother with the same intensity as I miss my mother.

I am proud to be her descendant and want to remind everyone we are the outcome of a combination of our environment, the product of many parts. 

Everything I am today is a reflection of her input as much as it was my parents. So, today, on Mother's Day, I want to honor her memory along side my mother. She was a survivor, reinventing herself bravely, setting a bar for her daughters and granddaughters,and great-granddaughters,  showing them that nothing should ever be in their way.  

It is the lesson I have embraced for her great-great granddaughters. Every day when I tell them the sky is the limit, it's because she taught me that years ago.

With Love To All,
Carole P. Roman

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Happy Mother's Day



One of my daughters-in-law bought me a pillow today.  Both my daughters in law have this sixth sense when they buy me presents. They always give me something that connects me to my mother. My room is filled with thoughtful little objects, so personal and mean so much to me. This pillow was for mother's day, an intensely sensitive day for me. Not that my sons notice, but my girls always do.


"I love you, a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck."
Even as I write the words, I can feel my eyes smart. I sing that song to all my grandchildren. They know the words and usually, I start the sentence and they finish it. I sang it to my own children when they were little. I can feel their tired arms heavy around my neck, our voices singing the words together as I carried them to bed.


A Bushel and a Peck 
was a song written by Frank Loesser and published in 1950. It was in the Broadway musical Guys and Dolls, but replaced by another song in the movie. Both Perry Como and Doris Day recorded it.


I don't think I ever heard it on the radio. I certainly never saw the stage show Guys and Dolls, yet the song has the capability to fill me with contentment, a feeling of being snug,  safe and cared for. 

It was my mom's song. She sang it at bedtime. She stretched out in bed and brushed our hair from our foreheads. She was completely tone deaf, but all I ever heard was the crystal clear tones of beautiful music coming from her mouth.


Songs bring back memories with a visceral connection. The next time you attend a function, take a look at couples as they take to the dance floor. Watch their faces when that singular song comes on, the shared remembrance uniting them in an intimacy only they can feel. You can't miss the exchange, the deep looks, and secret smiles.

I don't have songs for my father, for him it was sights and smells that bring him back to me. The crack of a ball on a bat, hearing something that would tickle him in a newscast, the smell of certain foods we both loved.


With my mom, though it's was always songs. She was constantly singing and had a tune for every part of the day



When we went to pick a place for my kid's wedding, I couldn't decide if it was the right venue. That was until the words of "I Love Paris in the Springtime," froze me mid-sentence. The unlikeliness of that song, right at that moment let me know she approved of the place. She would sing it replacing the city of Paris with my brother's and my names. We would wait to hear which one of us would turn up for one of the four seasons.
Needless to say,  I told them to book the joint, immediately.

"No, no, a thousand time no, I rather would die, than say yes," an Al Sherman, Al Lewis and Abe Silver tune made famous by none other than Betty Boop was employed when she refused to give in to some trifle we begged for. The more we implored, the louder she got and somehow rather than dissolve into tears, we ended up giggling.




My mom's reservoir of songs taught me to be ambitious and hopeful. Echoes of High Hopes drowning any insecurities trying to detour me. 

yours truly

"Just what makes that little old ant
Think he'll move that rubber tree plant
Anyone knows an ant, can't
Move a rubber tree plant
But he's got high hopes, he's got high hopes
He's got high apple pie, in the sky hopes."


Maybe the memory song buried deep in my brain gave me strength and courage to persevere in whatever I was attempting at the time.
I'm sure she never realized it, but music gave her the ability to store memories for her children when she wouldn't be here to comfort them. How else can you explain the clouds disappearing when "You are my Sunshine" comes on?
My mother loved music and even though she couldn't sing a note, I think music loved her right back.


With love and warmest wishes for a Happy Mother's Day,
Carole P. Roman

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

NABE Winter 2017 Pinnacle Book Achievement AWARD WINNERS





NABE Winter 2017

Pinnacle Book Achievement 
AWARD WINNERS 
Best Book in the
Category of CHILDREN'S ADVENTURE
If You Were Me and Lived on Mars
Best Book in the
Category of CHILDREN'S HISTORY
If You Were Me and Lived in Israel


See the entire list of winners HERE

Friday, April 14, 2017

Author Interview: Meet Nathan Bush

  1. Tell us a little bout your background.
Hello.  Thanks for having me over.  Well, let’s see.  I’ve been married to my wonderful wife, Tammy, since 2003.  Together we have 5 kids.  Only one is still at home.  I’ve lived all over the US, but have been in Alabama for 20 years now.  I’ve done work in fast food, a maintenance shop, flooring installation, carpet cleaning and water damage restoration and a stint in the US Army.

I’ve been writing off and on since middle and high school, where I worked on the school newspaper and literary magazine.

  1. What motivated you to write a book?
I got back into writing after reading a book by Randy Alcorn.  I don’t put myself on the same level as Mr. Alcorn, but I thought, as I finished his book, that I could write something like that.  And it snowballed from there.  I sat down one day, while on an injury-forced vacation, and started putting words into my laptop.  A month later I had 115,000 words put together.  I then spent the next year, off and on, editing and rewriting, until I had a “finished” product.

  1. Thank you for your service. What role has it played, if any, in your books?
It was my pleasure, honor, and duty to serve my country.  In Written in Blood, book one of my Christian crime series, The Foley Chronicles: Files from the 8th District, my main protagonist is a veteran, and I’m sure that he won’t be the only character to have a military background.  The Army had a huge impact on me and it will definitely continue to be reflected in my writing in one way or another.

  1. Religion is very important to you- How does your faith impact your books?
Yes, my faith is very important to me.  Coming to know Jesus is the most important event in my life.  I want that aspect of my life to show in my writing.  I don’t down other authors for their work, we all write what we want to write, but I wanted to write books that others could read without having to worry about profanity and explicit sexual situations.  I also want to use my books, not just to spread the Gospel, as a platform to turn certain situations into a teaching opportunity.  Kind of like how pastors and preachers use illustrations to hammer home a point.  I just do it the other way around.  I use situations my characters are going through to bring up what the Bible says about it.

  1. What do you want the readers to take away from your books?
Hmm.  I want them to be entertained, but I also want them to connect with my characters, whether they like them or hate them.  I also want them to see how the evil in the world will ultimately be overcome by the good.  And that nothing that we do will remain hidden; we will all be held accountable, eventually.

  1. What has been the biggest challenge in writing your books?
I think my biggest challenge is trying to edit and rewrite on one book while plotting and writing the next one.  And the marketing. AHHHHHHHH!!

  1. How did you come up with the plot?
It’s a twist on the Randy Alcorn book I was reading.  Not really the plot, just the idea of how I wanted the book to go.  I knew before I sat down to start writing how it would end, I just had to figure out how to get there.  Lucky for me, the characters wrote it themselves.

  1. What is your next project?
I’m already editing and rewriting book 2.  I have some new characters coming in, so I get to spend some time with introductions.  I hope to have it out by the end of April, but it’s looking pretty iffy at the moment.

  1. What are your favorite books?
I enjoy Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti, along with John Grisham, James Patterson, and Robert Ludlum.  My all-time favorite book is the Hobbit.  I’ve read it so many times that I lost count.  In fact, I still have the same copy I read when I was in the fifth grade.

  1. Where do you see yourself in five years?
I try not to think too far into the future, but I wouldn’t mind making a living with my writing by then.  I am getting older and my body won’t always be able to work like I do now.  Unlike the characters we create, we are finite!

Links:


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Trying a Different Genre by Rita Emmett

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself 
any direction you choose.
       ~~ Dr. Suess

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a writing project where you don’t know what you’re doing and you are not clear how to do the next step … but you know it is what you are supposed to do?
Last year, I found myself in the middle of that type of journey. It was fun but I simply didn’t know where the path would lead and didn’t have a clear map showing the way.

How did I get there? Eight years earlier, after writing a book for adults to help children who procrastinate, I researched if there were books to directly help children break the putting-off habit. I discovered books for every aged child except little ones.

Yet I kept receiving emails asking help for mini-procrastinators.

For years, I prayed someone would write a book for young children. Then ... Did you ever have a smack-yourself-in-the-head-moment where you knew this is the time and you are the person to do something?

I wrote a picture Book.

And quickly learned two things:
1. I’m not good at it.
2. It’s hard. In less than 800 words, you have to create a plot with conflict, resolution, interesting characters plus a beginning, middle and end.
In the past, I was lucky to work with a terrific agent (who, sadly, does not handle picture books.) So I sent to literary agents my picture book about Patty O’Put-Off, a little girl who procrastinates.
No agent picked it up.


I sent it out again … and panic struck. If no luck with agents, I’ll self-publish it but I’ve never self-published anything.
So I wrote a “practice picture book”. That way, if nobody accepts my Patty O’Put-Off, I will already have learned the process.
My “practice book” begins with a favorite quote attributed to Einstein: “Everyone is a genius. But if a fish is judged by how well it climbs a tree, it will live its entire life feeling stupid.”
I had never written anything but self-help for adults. My first practice draft was 2,000 words. Attended a seminar, heard about the 800 word limit and decided to trim it a bit.

Did “power-editing”. Then took a webinar and learned each page must be written to the illustration. Reviewed my text and realized the first 4 pages were the same two fish talking to each other.
Boring.
So I decided to give my character, Farkle Shark crazy goofy sayings. His big sister Sparkle would mock him and ask can you imagine if that were true. Then a cloud would be over their heads while she imagined whatever it was he said.

This seemed to be a brilliant solution, so I went to FIVERR.com, selected an illustrator (who turned out to live in Romania) and put in my first order.
Farkle begins the dialog with a goofy saying: “Holy Mackerel Manhole”. I envisioned a drawing of a mackerel popping out of a manhole in the middle of the street and by-standers looking astonished.
Brilliant, yes?

The day after sending the order, my 11-year-old neighbor who was one of my readers told me that all kids will think that a manhole is a man’s butt hole.

Oh.
After several awkwardly worded emails, that is exactly what the Romanian artist thought also. We revised it and if you ever read the book, and see the mackerel popping out of a mailbox, you will be one of the few people who know that “Holy Mackerel Mailbox” was not the original quote.
Jumping into a totally new genre meant that every day I discovered something new to learn, but the journey was great fun. I loved every minute of it (even the embarrassing awkward manhole moment of it)

The book is simple and funny.
Farkle Shark is cranky. His big sister Sparkle always criticizes his goofy sayings. But when Big Bully Boy called him stupid because he can’t climb trees, Sparkle jumps to her brother’s defense. Her advice, plus an adventure, changed his attitude … and his life.  
Moral of the story: if you ever feel driven to write something totally out of your comfort zone, but don’t know where to start … if you seriously want to achieve something but don’t know how to do it … first, make the decision that YES, you will do it.

Then do your homework. Learn as much as possible. Get started. Each time you can’t figure out the next step, keep learning. Google it. You might stumble across articles, webinars or Youtube explanations that move you along.
Ask for help, maybe find a mentor. Even if you are a super-capable person who takes pride in being knowledgeable and competent with everything you do, that doesn’t mean you can’t pause to seek help once in a while. You might be surprised at who or what appears to help move you along.

And if you find yourself feeling stupid because you can’t figure out the next step, allow me to recommend a newly-released book where a shark named Farkle will teach you that JUST because you don’t know how to do THIS thing, it doesn’t mean you are stupid.

You're off the Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Author Interview: Meet Becky Benishek



1- Tell us about yourself.

Hello! I'm Becky Benishek, always a writer, finally an author. I live in Wisconsin with my husband, Dave, and our guinea pig, Teddy. I attended Lawrence University for English and Environmental Science, and I've worked at the Crisis Prevention Institute for six years as their social media and community manager. I also have an extensive Lego collection, love doing jigsaw puzzles (Teddy helps), and I stick googly eyes on things. 


2- What prompted you to write these stories?

I actually wrote my second children's book first! I have a date on the manuscript that says 1999, though it could even have been earlier. I grew up with first white rats and then guinea pigs, and have stuck with guinea pigs since then. Oddly, Dr Guinea Pig George isn't based on any particular guinea pig I've known, but he was born fully-fledged in my mind with soft brown fur and determined personality nonetheless, and the story just rolled out. 

What's at the End of Your Nose? happened after I saw a series of photographs about snails that uncovered a whole new world from their perspective. And I thought, what if this were just one snail, and this was that one snail's day? That story just rolled out too, though I tweaked Sidney's final realization a little later. 

I hadn't actually thought about snails much before then, though I'd grown up with Cricket magazine and Trina Schart Hyman's delightful illustrations of the inhabitants. I apologize to all snails I've unwittingly neglected.


3- Has your day job impacted your characters or writing?

Only in the best way! My coworkers are amazingly supportive and excited about my books. 

I do my job has helped influence my story lines. Every day I'm in a whole world of people trying to provide the best care and safest outcomes for children and adults in their care, who often have special needs. This has helped me add subtle perspectives to both my current stories that hopefully speak to everyone.


4- What are the biggest challenges of being an indie author? Biggest rewards?

Having the gumption to stop talking about publishing so you'll start doing it instead! There's a lot of work because nobody is representing you but you. And we all have actual lives outside of making our dream come true. 

Somehow, though, you do make it work. There's a phrase I like to say: "We always make time to sit and watch TV." You can find the time, you just might have to rethink it a bit first. 

I expected to make mistakes along the way and I have not been disappointed in that, but by far the biggest reward is finding such a supportive group of both me and my books. It was a very lucky day when I found the Navigating IndieWorld group on Goodreads! 


5- Which is your favorite book?

Ooooh...you know, they're pretty much parallel, for there are enough differences to make it hard to compare. I cherish them both for different reasons.

Plus Sidney Snail & What's at the End of Your Nose? has the added distinction of being my debut book, which meant we went through all the ups and downs together of figuring out CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), formatting, pricing. . .I love it to bits, yet oof, that was hard work. When it was Dr. Guinea Pig George's turn, I had way more of a clue about the whole process. 


6- You often write from animal's perspective instead of a human's. Can you explain how you choose and develop your characters?

I anthropomorphize everything. Except for lettuce, because that's Teddy's favorite food, and that would just be too mean. But I've always loved animals, stuffed and otherwise, and grew up in a world peopled with all of these characters. What I hope I'm doing in sharing these characters outside of my own head is not making them too human, because they aren't; they have their own personalities, worries, interests. I'm just building a bridge. Interpreting, if you will!


7- Who are your favorite authors?

I will try to keep this short...

Wilkie Collins
Jane Austen
F. Marion Crawford
John Bellairs
Richard Scarry
Catherine Lowell
Anne McCaffrey
Cordwainer Smith
Mary Stolz
Madeline L'Engle
George MacDonald
Lois Lowry
Robert Peck
Dashiell Hammett
Raymond Chandler
Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
Marion Zimmer Bradley
Thorne Smith
Howard Pyle

. . .I am stopping here by sheer force of will.


8- What are you working on now?

I'm getting a third children’s story with a more mythical animal ready for a target of Sometime-In-Fall, 2017. I’ve got a fourth story, a true picture book, next in line. I also have a middle-grade story I recently decided to expand past its original scope.

When I get through all of those, I’ll focus on adult short stories, of which I'm slowly building a collection. That's the plan, anyway; I may find myself switching to adult-land sooner.


9- What would you advise a budding indie author?

Stop thinking about writing. Stop thinking about being an author. DO IT. You have to almost trick yourself into forgetting about yourself, about the bills you have to pay, the breakfast you have to make, the laundry you have do, about everything but doing authoring. That's probably a grievous grammatical error but it's still true. I just know that if I'm sitting around thinking about or talking about writing, I'm not actually writing.


10- Sum up your books in three words that tells the prospective reader everything.

For What's at the End of Your Nose?: Snail Finds Adventure
For Dr. Guinea Pig George: Guinea Pig Cures Everything (I used "guinea pig" as a single entity.)


Links!