Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Persian Gulf Veterans Honored
Victoria Roder

TheHighground in Neillsville, Wisconsin is a veterans Memorial Park. It is a location for the public, veterans and their families to heal. It is a place to remember those who have fallen, and to honor all who have served. It is a sanctuary to seek peace. On Saturday June 23rd, the Pursian Gulf Wars, memorial "The Bootprint" was dedicated. Jersey and Texas Barriers, along with the honor stones form a symbolic shape of a military boot print in the sand. This memorial represents military personnel from Desert Shield to those presently serving in the Persian Gulf.
     I had the privilege of interviewing one of our local veterans being honored with a Honor Stone presented from his fellow troops and his family. I would like to introduce you to, Staff Sargent Rodney Kerksieck, USANG, (Ret.)

VR: Can you share with us, why you joined the service and how old you were?

RK: I joined the National Guard when I was 17 years old because I wanted to do something good for my country.

VR: You served in the Desert Storm War, can you share with us where you were located and how long you were deployed?

RK: During Desert Storm I was stationed in Northern Iraq for six months.

VR: How soon after arriving were you in combat?

RK: Within 72 hours after landing in Saudi Arabia, we (212th brigade Field Artillery from Ft. Sill Oklahoma) arrived in the combat zone.

VR: What was your job during Desert Storm?

RK: I was a Gunner on a eight inch Howitzer.

VR: What was the hardest part of receiving your deployment notice?

RK: Leaving my wife Billee, my new born son Eric and our oldest daughter Stephanie behind. I'm grateful I returned home so we were able to add my youngest daughter Cassy to the family.

VR: Without today's luxury of cell phones, how did you keep in contact with your loved ones?

RK: I was able to call them once a month. My family couldn't call me, but they sent letters.

VR: In total how long did you serve the United States of America?

RK: Ten years active duty and ten years National Guards Reserves.

VR: Knowing the personal sacrifices you made to serve your country, as a seventeen-year-old boy, would you sign on that dotted line again with the National Guard?

RK: I would be the first in line to do it again. I'm so proud to be able to call myself a soldier.

VR: Your last statement gave me goosebumps. I for one and I'm sure the rest of my fellow Americans thank you for your service.

     What those who serve in our military do, and the sacrifices they make, insures safety and freedoms for the rest of us. John 15:13 says it better than I can. “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” That is exactly what the men and women of our military pledge to do for each of us when they sign on that dotted line.

      Take the time to visit The Highground in Neillsville, Wisconsin, the memorials dedicated to our military is a sight to behold. It is a place of peace to reflect on the sacrifices others have made for us, a place of gratitude for our freedoms and a place to bestow well-deserved honor and respect to our service men and women. Thank you all who have, who do, and who will serve to protect us.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Meet Author Christopher Mannino

Christopher Mannino’s life is best described as an unending creative outlet. He teaches high school theater in Greenbelt, Maryland. In addition to his daily drama classes, he runs several after-school performance/production drama groups. He spends his summers writing and singing. Mannino holds a Master of Arts in Theater Education from Catholic University, and has studied mythology and literature both in America and at Oxford University. His work with young people helped inspire him to write young adult fantasy, although it was his love of reading that truly brought his writing to life.

VR: Christopher, please share with us something about yourself and your background.

CM: I am lucky enough to pursue my two greatest passions professionally: theater and writing. I teach high school theater outside Washington DC at a school with a large and active theater department, and work with young kids through a local theater during the summers. I started writing YA fiction to help inspire the kids I teach, although I plan to branch into other genres soon. I grew up in Massachusetts, and now live in Maryland with my wife, who is also an author.

VR: Tell us about your newest release, Sword of Deaths.


Susan Sarnio made a choice, and will spend the rest of her life as the only female Death. Last year she was bullied and ostracized. Now, to her complete bewilderment, four Deaths vie for her affection. Yet, something is terribly wrong at the College of Deaths. When a ship carrying scythe metal is attacked, many blame the newly-freed Elementals, but Susan knows the Elementals are innocent.

Shadows from the distant past come to light. Dragons circle the horizon, blood spills, and nothing is what it seems. Susan and her friends struggle to stop a war. They search for the fabled First Scythe, hoping to sway the balance, but who is the true enemy?

VR: Sounds fascinating, how did you get the idea for The Scythe Wielder's Secret Series?

CM: The idea for the series emerged while I was studying at Oxford. I became stranded at Tintagel, on the coast of Cornwall. I watched the dawn from a promontory the following morning, completely alone, on fifty foot sheer rocky cliffs, being buffeted by fierce winds from every direction. I imagined a character who was completely alone, yet who overcame her isolation to persevere.

VR: Share with us something you wanted to be when you grew up. I know, aging is inevitable but growing up is optional.

CM: I’ve wanted to be a novelist for a long time, since I was very young and grew up reading books by authors like Tolkien and Pratchett. For a long time I did not want to be a teacher, which was my parents’ profession. I wanted to be a pilot or an astronaut for many years, as I’ve always loved flying.

VR: Tell us about your current work in progress. 

I’m currently finishing The Scythe Wielder’s Secret, and immensely proud of the final novel Daughter of Deaths, which I feel is definitely the strongest novel I’ve written so far. Following this series, I’m going to write an adult science-fiction thriller, sort of Dan Brown meets Michael Chrichton.

VR: Thanks for stopping in for a visit. Be sure to check out author Christopher Mannino's website.

website (with purchase links) http://www.christophermannino.com/sword-of-deaths.html

Friday, October 3, 2014

Black Cats and Ballet Slippers

Please help me welcome author, Iva Valentino, a former middle school teacher with a background in science.

Please tell us about your newest release.

Iva: Black Cats and Ballet Slippers is a humorous middle grade chapter book. Gemma Mayfield, the main character, is a ballerina and middle school student. She is convinced her teacher is a witch. After her crush, Trevor, has a spell cast upon him, Gemma embarks on a mission to save Middleton Middle School from witchcraft!

Wow! Sounds like Gemma has her work cut out for her. Black Cats and Ballet Slippers sounds like an exciting read for middle grade students.

What do you like to read for fun?

Iva: I love a variety of genres of books. I really love books that are funny. I tend to choose books that are part of a series. I get hooked on the characters, and then I want to keep reading more about them! I read a lot of YA novels, and recently I have been getting into more science fiction/fantasy.

I've heard it said, if you want to be a writer you need to be a reader.

How long did it take you to write your book?

Iva: Black Cats was written in just one month! I wrote it in November, during NaNoWriMo. I wrote my little heart out every night. I gave myself daily goals for word counts, and did my best to reach them. It was quite challenging at times, especially since I was teaching school at the time and had very long work days. It was totally worth it!

Only one month, what an accomplishment!

How did you get the idea for your book?

Iva: The idea for Black Cats came about during my last year of teaching middle school. In the book, Gemma’s science teacher, Ms. Pruett, has a really creepy classroom. The classroom has a preproom with lots of “witchy” things, such as powdered unicorn horn and other ingredients for spells. In my classroom, I also had a big preproom. My classroom was actually very nice and not creepy at all, but over time my imagination took over. I started to envision this preproom as being Ms. Pruett’s. From there on, the rest of the storyline for Black Cats started to brew!

Tell us something about your current or next work in progress.

I’m currently working on a sequel to Black Cats and Ballet Slippers. The main characters from Black Cats will all play a part in it. I’m also excited to introduce some new characters!
That sounds very exciting and I can't wait to check out Black Cats and Ballet Slippers and then wait for the sequel. Thank you so much for visiting with us today and I wish you the best.

Author Bio:

Iva Valentino lives in Arizona with her husband and their dog, Lupo. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master’s degree in Education. She loves living year-round in the warm desert.

Iva spent many years as a middle school teacher, where she enjoyed doing fun science experiments with her students. She currently works as a science editor at an educational publishing company. She loves travel, yoga, and photography. There is nothing that brings her more happiness than a good dance class!

You can visit Iva at the following sites:

Website: www.ivavalentino.com
Blog: www.ivavalentino.com/blog
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ivaavalentino

Purchasing links for Black Cats and Ballet Slippers:

MuseItUp Publishing: https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/now-available-in-ebook/black-cats-and-ballet-slippers-detail

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Black-Cats-Ballet-Slippers-Valentino-ebook/dp/B00ISW6BAA/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1410125518&sr=1-1&keywords=Black+Cats+and+Ballet+Slippers

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Family Ties

Please welcome guest author, Sara Jayne Townsend.

By Sara Jayne Townsend

There’s an old adage that says, “you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family.” Family in the traditional sense are the people with whom you share genes. Some families are very close, with grown up children living nearby, having children of their own and still popping round for coffee a couple of times a week. Some families are distant, either emotionally or physically. In the 1980s, there was a TV show called “Family Ties” that featured Michael J Fox as the yuppie teenage son of a pair of ex-hippies. The show was basically about the fact that the children of these parents were very far removed from the ideals the parents had held dear in their youth. But despite their differences, the family all pulled together for each other when it counted.

My own family is far-flung. I live in London, my father is in Scotland, my mother and my sisters are in Canada, one of my cousins is in America and most of the rest of my extended family live in the North of England. When you live far away from all of your family members, you get used to living your life without them being a big part of it.

The concept of family is a primary theme in DEATH SCENE. When I created my amateur sleuth, I took my own experience of parents in different countries, but because I did not want the character to be too similar to me I changed her situation. Shara Summers has a Canadian father and a British mother who moved back to England after her divorce. Shara begins the book in Canada, but she receives a call from her mother asking her to come to England because her sister is suffering from a mysterious debilitating illness, and her mother thinks the family should all be together.

Shara is carrying around a lot of baggage about her situation. It’s something she realises she has to face, and although she clashes frequently with her mother and sister, she comes to realise that they will always be an important part of her life, no matter how often they argue.

DEATH SCENE is a murder mystery, but it’s also a lesson in family ties. The underlying theme is it doesn’t matter how far away you run, your family are still there for you. It’s a lesson that Shara eventually learns, and it’s something she’s going to need to take forward in future books. Shara’s family are important characters in the series. No matter how much they drive her crazy.


Poking around in family closets produces skeletons…

British-born, Toronto-based, actress Shara Summers turns amateur sleuth when her sister is stricken with a mysterious illness. Summoned back to England to be with her family during a time of crisis, Shara discovers doctors are at a loss as to what's causing Astrid’s debilitating sickness.

After her aunt is found dead at the bottom of the stairs the death is deemed an accident. Shara suspects otherwise. Her investigation unearths shocking family secrets and a chilling realization that could have far-reaching and tragic consequences that affect not only her own future, but Astrid’s as well.

DEATH SCENE is coming very soon from MuseItUp Publishing:

Ruth sat in her rocking chair watching the television–which was probably about ten years old, and appeared to be the most modern thing in the room. She was wearing a blue floral dress, with a patchwork blanket over her knees. I had seen that dress before. Her hairstyle hadn’t changed, either–her white hair was thinning, and she wore it short and curly, in the style of old ladies everywhere. When we came in she looked up, a toothless smile breaking out over her face. She had dentures that she never wore–something else she only saved for special occasions. As a child, Ruth had appeared very scary to me on the occasions she wore her dentures because we just weren’t used to seeing her with them.
My mother went up to Ruth and leaned in to give her a kiss on her soft wrinkled cheek. “How are you, Auntie Ruth?” she said loudly. Ruth’s hearing had been going even back then. She must be virtually deaf by now.
The house was freezing. The only source of heat was a three-bar electric fire on the floor by Ruth’s feet.
I’m doing all right, dear,” Ruth said. Her voice was husky, ravaged by age and lack of use. “Mustn’t complain.”
Summer, still in my mother’s arms, began to cry and squirm, no doubt intimidated by the presence of this ancient lady. “Who’s this?” Ruth said, stroking one of Summer’s chubby legs.
This is Summer,” Mum said. “This is my granddaughter. You’ve met Summer. Astrid’s daughter.”
Ruth frowned. “Astrid? Your little one?”
Not a little girl any more, Auntie Ruth. She’s all grown up now.” Mum pointed in my direction. “This is my other daughter, Shara. Do you remember? Shara lives in Canada.”
Ruth was staring at me, frowning. There was no indication that she recognised me. “It’s been a long time,” she said eventually.
Hello Auntie Ruth,” I said.
Have you taken your pills, Auntie Ruth?” my mother asked.
Ruth frowned in concentration. “Pills? Think so. Can’t remember, you know. My memory’s not what it was.”
My mother thrust the crying child into my arms. “Watch Summer for a moment, Shara. I’m going to make Auntie Ruth some lunch.” And off she went into the kitchen.
I sat down in the faded armchair and bounced Summer on my knee. She kept crying. Ruth stared fixedly at the television. There seemed to be an Australian soap opera on. I couldn’t tell which one. I wasn’t a fan, and they all looked the same to me. “So what are you watching, Auntie Ruth?”
Eh?” She swivelled round to stare at me.
I raised my voice. “The television. What are you watching?”
Oh, I don’t know, dear. I watch everything. Keeps me company, you know.” And she lapsed back into silence, staring at the television. A couple of minutes went by and then she said suddenly, “they’re stealing from me, you know.”
“They’re stealing from me.” Ruth continued to stare at the television. I wasn’t at all sure she was even aware of anyone else in the room. I stood up with Summer in my arms and hurriedly went to find my mother in the kitchen.


Sara-Jayne Townsend is a UK-based writer of crime and horror. She was born in Cheshire in 1969, but spent most of the 1980s living in Canada after her family emigrated there. She now lives in Surrey with two cats and her guitarist husband Chris. She co-founded the T Party Writers’ Group in 1994, and remains Chair Person.

The first two books in her amateur sleuth series about Canadian actress Shara Summers will be released by MuseItUp Publishing in 2014. DEATH SCENE, the first book (and a re-release) will be available in Summer, with the sequel, DEAD COOL, following in Autumn.

You can learn more about Sara and her writing at her website at http://sarajaynetownsend.weebly.com or her blog at http://sayssara.wordpress.com.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

16th "Dear Lucky Agent"

16th Free “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest Submission deadline is July 30th, 2014. Chuck Sambuchino's Guide to Literary Agents has announced the 16th free “Dear Lucky Agent” contest. Fellow authors, do you have a completed middle grade novel? If you do, this contest is for you and it's free to enter. You could win a critique of the first ten pages of your manuscript.

Check the details on Guide to Literary Agents

Middle grade fiction. The agent judge did not choose to exclude any subgenre, so everything is fair game.
  1. This contest will be live through the end of July 30, 2014, PST. Winners notified by e-mail within approximately three weeks of end of contest. Winners announced on the blog thereafter.
  2. To enter, submit the first 150-200 words of your book. Shorter or longer entries will not be considered. Keep it within word count range please.
  3. You can submit as many times as you wish. You can submit even if you submitted to other contests in the past, but please note that past winners cannot win again. All that said, you are urged to only submit your best work.
  4. The contest is open to everyone of all ages, save those employees, officers and directors of GLA’s publisher, F+W Media, Inc.
  5. By e-mailing your entry, you are submitting an entry for consideration in this contest and thereby agreeing to the terms written here as well as any terms possibly added by me in the “Comments” section of this blog post. (If you have questions or concerns, write me personally at chuck.sambuchino (at) fwmedia.com. The Gmail account above is for submissions, not questions.)
Top 3 winners all get: 1) A critique of the first 10 double-spaced pages of your work, by your agent judge. 2) A free one-year subscription to WritersMarket.com ($50 value)!

About the judge:
Peter Knapp joined the Park Literary Group in July 2011, where he represents authors of middle grade and young adult fiction. His recent sales include a contemporary YA to Scholastic, a contemporary MG to Penguin, and a YA fantasy series to Entangled. He does not represent picture books or nonfiction. Prior to joining Park Literary, he was the story editor at Floren Shieh Productions, where he consulted on book-to-film adaptations for Los Angeles-based film and TV entities. He graduated from New York University with a B.A. in art history.

Victoria Roder is the author of middle grade mystery The Curse of King Ramesses II, and action adventure Sled Dog Tales, Picture books An Important Job to Do: A Noah's Ark Tale and What if a Zebra Had Triangles. Teen puzzle book and devotional Directions For Life and three adult mystery novels.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Welcome Zanna Mackenzie

Herbal Help For Love

Herbs don’t just look pretty in the garden or taste good in cooking – stretching back many centuries herbs have also had many other uses from combating ailments and calming the mind to attracting love.

Three herbs with long standing associations when it comes to finding and keeping love are:

  • Rosemary
Rosemary is a common herb, popular in gardens and the kitchen but did you know rosemary used to feature strongly on wedding days? Traditionally the bride had sprigs of rosemary tucked into her bouquet and the groom wore a sprig of the herb as an early form of the modern day buttonhole flower. Rosemary was also given as a wedding favour to guests – small bunches of the herb, hand tied with gold ribbon, were handed out to bestow love and remembrance.

  • Thyme
Herbal folklore recommends wearing a sprig of thyme in your hair as it is supposed to make you irresistible to the opposite sex! Try this at your own peril though because bees are also attracted to thyme!

  • Marjoram
Another kitchen and garden staple, marjoram was linked to the goddess Aphrodite – better known as the Goddess of Love. It was said to have grown in her garden on Mount Olympus in Greece. Legend tells us marjoram was included in the garlands used to bless the happy couples on their weddings days. The herb is linked to long-term love and enduring relationships and its scent is claimed to bestow happiness.

Try A Love Spell…
According to tradition if a ‘maiden’ wants to see a vision in her dreams of her future husband then she should put a sprig of thyme in one of her shoes and a sprig of rosemary in the other. Then she should lightly sprinkle the shoes with water three times and place them by the side of her bed, say a prayer and fall asleep. Apparently it’s even better if you can time it right to do this love spell on a night with a full moon!

In my contemporary novel How Do You Spell Love? one of the characters called Summer uses herbs, crystals and essential oils to cast all variety of spells to help people, please read on for more details about the book and it’s special offer price….

Book: How Do You Spell Love?

Book blurb:
Make A Wish…
Kat can’t help wishing there was more to life than this. What happened to her dream job? What happened with Nathan?
Summer is wondering where her life is going too… battling the developers of a controversial housing estate and working out why boyfriend Rob is increasingly distant.
When the developers win the battle and move into town everyone’s life is turned upside down.
Kat meets building site project manager Alex. She enjoys his company far too much, even though he’s on the town’s most hated list.
Summer meets Tom who has plenty of relationship troubles of his own, so things could get really complicated.
Soon everyone is keeping secrets, lives change and hearts are broken. Is everything falling apart, or does life just work in mysterious ways…
Special Offer
How Do You Spell Love? is on sale between 20-27 June inclusive. Grab your ebook for just 99p/99c/99c +tax and discover what mayhem Summer’s love spell causes….

Amazon US:

Amazon UK:

Author bio:
Zanna Mackenzie lives in the UK with her husband, 4 dogs, a vegetable patch that’s home to far too many weeds and an ever expanding library of books waiting to be read.
Being a freelance writer and editor of business publications is her ‘day job’ but, at every opportunity, she can be found scribbling down notes on scenes for whatever novel she’s working on. She loves it when the characters in her novels take on minds of their own and start deviating from the original plot!
Formerly a travel agent and therapist (she has qualifications in clinical aromatherapy, crystal healing, naturopathic nutrition and herbalism) she loves walking the dogs and gardening – that’s when she’s not writing or reading!
Zanna has written two other novels, The Love Programme (Astraea Press) and If You Only Knew (Crooked Cat Publishing).
Find out more about Zanna at:
Twitter: @ZannaMacKenzie
Facebook: www.facebook.com/zanna.mackenzie
Goodreads - http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/10703273-zanna-mackenzie
Amazon Author Page - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Zanna-Mackenzie/e/B00BKY1A18/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
PInterest: http://www.pinterest.com/zannamac/