June 30, 2022

Have You Ever Wanted An Adventure? How About a Divine Adventure?

Rebecca Friedlander, in 2004, moved into a garage apartment, set up her potter's wheel in a little room below, and started to seek God and pursue art. Her motivation was simply to have a life completely offered to God, and capture whatever flowed from that space. Nearly two decades later, she's still a full time artist, finding joy in using a variety of artistic mediums to tell stories about God's love.

Whether booking a one-way ticket to Ireland to film about Celtic history, shooting makeovers with 50 women around the world to tell stories of transformation and hope, or interviewing Christian music pioneers about their life lessons, Rebecca is passionate about telling stories that bring identity and truth in Christ.

Her new book, The Divine Adventure, was just released this month. Here is the description:

Are you looking for God's best for your life? Do you have a plan for getting there? God created you for an amazing adventure of faith, and the twelve spiritual practices found in The Divine Adventure offer a practical road map for your journey. By learning to apply ancient spiritual disciplines, you'll discover a life of wonder, passion, and flourishing faith.

Intensely personal and deeply practical, The Divine Adventure unpacks powerful disciplines that will revolutionize your prayer life, deepen your intimacy with God, create balance between rest and work, cultivate meaningful community with others, and more. Drawing from Scripture, ancient writings, visits to holy sites, and her own life experiences of brokenness and breakthrough, Rebecca Friedlander shares the keys that any follower of Christ can use to unlock their own divine adventure. Whether you're a new believer or a seasoned disciple, you'll find that implementing these practices will both empower your passion for Jesus and open new opportunities to express God's heart to others. Are you ready?

Rebecca is a published author with Baker House Publishing. Her films have been shown on every major English speaking TV network in the world, including TBN, Day Star, GOD TV, Pure Flix, and more. Her recent project includes renovating a log home in Texas for spiritual retreats and workshops, and starting a non-profit called The Potter's House Creative Ministries where she speaks and ministers weekly at the cabin. ​She has a BA in Creative Christian Arts and a master's in Celtic Studies. 

Rebecca Friedlander has been in full-time ministry for 18 years, ministering both locally and internationally using creative arts and music. She is an ordained minister with The Missions Church International, has authored 10 books, and her films and TV series have aired around the world on multiple television platforms. She has a BA in Christian Creative Arts, a master's in Celtic Studies.

June 29, 2022

Moving Forward In Time


Candice Cox Wheeler

Moving twenty-three years forward in time from my 2021 debut novel, Cradle in the Oak, my sequel, Squall in the Gulf, takes place once again along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, this time in the Roaring Twenties. This was a fascinating time, when doughboys were still coping with shellshock from the Great War and the Eighteenth Amendment prohibited the manufacture, sale, and transport of liquor, leading to medical prescriptions for alcohol, rumrunning, bootlegging, speakeasies, and jazz.

My historical research led to some interesting connections between the Coast and the cities of Chicago and New Orleans, which inspired me to include all three in my storyline for Squall in the Gulf.

One intriguing connection was the celebrity gangster, Al Capone, whose Chicago empire was rumored to be worth over one hundred million dollars. One of his many homes was located on a bayou in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. From this bayou, Capone and his gang would board a fast powerboat and take off for Cat Island, located a few miles offshore, to supervise their rumrunners. I took this information and let my imagination run wild over the waves and through the frequent squalls in the Gulf of Mexico.

Located just ninety miles from the Coast, New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz and Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, was dubbed the Liquor Capital of America by revenue agents in the late twenties. At the age of twenty-one, Armstrong, already a budding musician, left New Orleans on a train to Chicago and joined Joe “King” Oliver where he made over sixty records in three years and became one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time.

Both Capone and Armstrong interact with my protagonist, an award-winning female war correspondent who returns from the Great War, having experienced emotional and physical trauma. With the aid of alcohol, she tries to live the rich socialite life her physician husband expects of her, while trying to find her purpose in life and rekindle her journalistic career. In this continuing family saga, you will find a suspenseful tale of blackmail, rumrunning, Coast Guard encounters, and deadly backwoods bootlegging, along with journeys to the magical Isle of Caprice, where you can test your luck at the roulette table, enjoy a romantic dinner for two, and dance the night away swinging to the sweet sound of jazz.

I’ve been asked, since Squall in the Gulf is indeed a sequel, if Carrie Burns and David Tauzin from Cradle in the Oak are returning. Yes, they are, and their presence is important to the story, but it’s the second generation that takes centerstage in Squall. It was both fun and challenging to put the offspring, who Cradle in the Oak readers knew as teens or young children, into situations as adults where they had to make difficult choices. And because so much wonderful Biloxi history was layered into the backdrop of Cradle, I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to blend the backdrop of Roaring Twenties-era Biloxi with the fast-paced suspense of Squall.

I can’t wait for you to read the new book. Order signed copies at, and on the site you’ll find my event schedule. Thanks so much for your interest!


A fourth-generation Biloxi, Mississippi, native, Candace Cox Wheeler is a partner in the law firm of Wheeler and Wheeler, PLLC, where she has worked alongside her husband, David, since 1981 and raised two sons. She is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and the University of Mississippi School of Law. Squall in the Gulf is her second novel and will be available at on August 1, 2022.

June 28, 2022


Joe Lee

My fictional town of Oakdale is nestled in northeast Mississippi, not far from real-life Tupelo. If you’re familiar with the area, think of towns the size of Ripley, New Albany, and Pontotoc: small, close-knit communities with populations of 2,500-5,000 and a town square with businesses often run by the children and grandchildren of the founders. It’s the kind of place where everyone typically knows everyone else’s business.

The first Oakdale novel, Judgment Day, was released in 2007. It’s the story of one of the town’s favorite sons, high school football coach Bud Crisler, and a young, unstable police officer named Gary Quinn who briefly played for Crisler—and holds a deep grudge against him. While the series doesn’t have a repeating protagonist like you find in novels by authors Michael Connelly, C.J. Box, and Lee Child, the common thread is the seemingly serene little town being quite the backdrop for rampant crime, corruption, and dysfunction.

The protagonist of my fifth Oakdale novel, Director’s Cut, was dashing film professor and serial killer Tripp Kelly. He was pursued by long-time Smart County Sheriff Billy Joe Stone, a law enforcement legend who was nearing retirement and really met his match in the esteemed professor, who seemed to think it was perfectly okay to eliminate his real-life problems the way he would if directing major motion pictures.

Resting Place is my seventh Oakdale novel and a book I chose to set in 1984 as a prequel to the series. Billy Joe Stone, then a youthful sheriff’s deputy, is put in an awkward spot when the sheriff of two decades, Robert Glass, confides in him about a web of corruption originating in Smart County and names several powerful people whose hands are dirty—there’s already an influential local man missing and presumed dead. When Glass himself disappears without a trace, Billy Joe doesn’t know what to do or who to trust. But he has the strong sense that if he doesn’t try to bring everything and everyone down, he could be the next target.

In my hometown of Starkville, Mississippi, Dolph Bryan served as Oktibbeha County sheriff more than three decades. Now in his late seventies, Dolph was exceedingly generous with his time as we discussed Billy Joe Stone’s options for moving against the crime empire. Both Dolph and my old friend Scott Newton, whose law enforcement background includes stretches with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, emphasized how primitive surveillance equipment was back then. One of my favorite scenes in Resting Place is when Billy Joe stops at the home of a man he’s ready to confront; as he walks toward the house, a small cassette recorder taped to the inside of his pant leg is already running to record whatever exchange takes place.

I also researched music, movies, automobiles, and a variety of household products to make sure they were current and/or available in 1984. Car parts could be purchased at Western Auto. VHS movies were rented at a video store, and meals were grabbed at local places like Big Larry’s Hamburger Stand and the Oakdale CafĂ©. Needless to say, there was no internet then.

I hope your appetite for suspense has been whetted. Visit to order signed copies of Resting Place and to find the tour schedule for this fall. Thanks for your time. I look forward to seeing you out on the road.


Originally from Jackson, Mississippi, Joe Lee has a background in radio, television, and journalism. He is the Owner and Editor-in-Chief of Dogwood Press, a small but traditional publishing company in Brandon, Mississippi, and has published fellow Mississippi authors John M. Floyd, Randy Pierce, Valerie Winn, Jim Ritchie, Mike Windham, Molly May, Barbie Bassett and Candace Cox Wheeler, as well as authors Susan Cushman and Janet Brown. Lee's critically-acclaimed Oakdale suspense series includes 40 Days (2018), Director’s Cut (2014), Last Chance Texaco (2012), The Long Road home (2011), The Magnolia Triangle (2009) and Judgment Day (2007). His first two books were stand-alone mystery novels: the legal thriller On The Record (2002), and the broadcast television whodunit Dead Air (2004). Resting Place, the prequel to the Oakdale series, will be available at on August 1, 2022.

June 27, 2022

Which Life Will She Choose? Which Would You?

Gabrielle Meyer lives in central Minnesota on the banks of the upper Mississippi River with her husband and four children. As an employee of the Minnesota Historical Society, she fell in love with the rich history of her state and enjoys writing fictional stories and contemporary novels inspired by real people, places, and events. The river is a constant source of inspiration for Gabrielle, and if you look closely, you will find a river in each of her stories.

When Gabrielle is not writing, you might find her homeschooling her children, cheering them on at sporting and theatrical events, or hosting a gathering at her home with family and friends.

Her Newest book, When the Day Comes, was released by Bethany House in May of this year. You will find the book intriguing and wondering which life she will choose. Which would you choose?.

Here is a description:

How will she choose, knowing all she must sacrifice?
Libby has been given a powerful gift: to live one life in 1774 Colonial Williamsburg and the other in 1914 Gilded Age New York City. When she falls asleep in one life, she wakes up in the other. While she's the same person at her core in both times, she's leading two vastly different lives.

In Colonial Williamsburg, Libby is a public printer for the House of Burgesses and the Royal Governor, trying to provide for her family and support the Patriot cause. The man she loves, Henry Montgomery, has his own secrets. As the revolution draws near, both their lives--and any hope of love--are put in jeopardy.

Libby's life in 1914 New York is filled with wealth, drawing room conversations, and bachelors. But the only work she cares about--women's suffrage--is discouraged, and her mother is intent on marrying her off to an English marquess. The growing talk of war in Europe only complicates matters.

But Libby knows she's not destined to live two lives forever. On her twenty-first birthday, she must choose one path and forfeit the other--but how can she choose when she has so much to lose in each life?

You can learn more about Gabrielle and her books at

Find Gabrielle on Facebook at, Pinterest at, Twitter at, Goodreads.


June 24, 2022

Cozy Mystery At It's Best ~Three in One!

Nancy Coco
Nancy J. Parra/Nell Hampton

USA Today Bestselling Author, Nancy J Parra AKA Nancy Coco AKA Nell Hampton is the author of over 30 published novels which include five mystery series: The Oregon Honey-comb Mystery Series (Kensington), The Candy-Coated Mysteries (Kensington), The Kensington Palace Mystery Series (Crooked Lane), The Wine Country Tours Mystery Series (Crooked Lane) The Gluten-free Baker’s Treat Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime), and The Perfect Proposal Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime). Her writing has been called witty and her protagonists plucky by reviewers around the world. Nancy is a member of Sisters in Crime, and loves to hear from readers.

Nell Hampton Writes Kensington Palace Mystery Series . . .

The review from Kirkus Reviews says, "A Charming debut foodie cozy with a gutsy heroine."

A Kale to the Queen: Suspects abound as an American chef adds a bit of spice to the traditional royal household in the first in Nell Hampton's charming and tasty Kensington Palace Chef Mystery series

Nancy J Parra writes good mystery. She is lucky enough to indulge her love of a good who dunnit by writing mystery series. . .

The NY Journal of Books Review says, "Parra provides the reader with many twists and turns, and a satisfying solution. This is a good book to curl up with on a cold winter night—and don’t forget a nice glass of Syrah!”

Sonoma tour guide Taylor O’Brian uncorks another intoxicating wine country mystery after discovering the body of an FDA inspector . . . in a tank of squashed grapes

Nancy Coco's newest book release. . .

After a summer celebration on Michigan’s Mackinac Island ends in murder, hotel and fudge shop owner Allie McMurphy puts on her sleuthing hat . .

Visit her website at: for more information, a list of her books and full reviews. 

June 23, 2022

Mary DeMuth Offers Wisdom and Hope for Parents ofGrown-Ups!


Mary DeMuth starts out on our website on the "About" page with . .."I want you to know this about me: I love Jesus. And really that’s the most important thing about me. It’s not writing or speaking or praying or mommying or any other -ing you can find. I flat out love Him. Why? Because He’s amazing. And He has utterly, truly, completely re-storied me."

I have three adult children, and I’ve been married to Patrick for 29 years now. I count those relationships as the most important people in my life.

In the mid 2000s, we helped plant a church in Southern France–a difficult, but amazing experience. There, we encountered a lot of heartache at the hands of fellow Christians.

In my spare (ha!) time, I love to cook, garden, decorate and design. I enjoy running, and have completed three sprint triathlons (and survived!) along with a half marathon. I’m passionate about the underdog, the oppressed, and those who don’t have a voice. I’m particularly upset about celebrity Christianity and ministries that spiritually abuse others.

I’ve been writing for 30 years–half of them in obscurity. I have mentored many writers during that time, and continue to do so through the Rockwall Christian Writers Group and some of my instructional books. Since then I’ve written over 40 books, translated into five languages. You can see a listing of all my books on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, CBD, Lifeway and Parable.


Mary DeMuth's new book, Love, Pray, Listen will release September, 2022. You will definitely want this book if you have adult children. It contains wisdom and hope for parents of grown-ups. As a parent, your role changes drastically after your kids grow up. You fear heartache and strained relationships when your children choose difficult--even seemingly wrong--paths. Love, Pray, Listen is the gracious, practical resource you need for navigating the rocky terrain of parenting grown-ups. In this book, mom and author Mary DeMuth answers questions like:

· What do I do when my kids make choices that don't align with my values?
· How do I keep communication lines open with my grown children?
· When do I speak, and when do I listen?
· Is it possible to hold on to my joy when parenting is so hard?
· How do I avoid the temptation of meddling in my kids' lives?

Love, Pray, Listen offers a robust theology for long-term parenting gleaned from the discipleship model Jesus exemplified, one that carefully and thoughtfully applies his way of expressing love.

This is your invitation for spiritual growth and a path toward fulfilling relationships with your adult children.As a parent, your role changes drastically after your kids grow up. You fear heartache and strained relationships when your children choose difficult--even seemingly wrong--paths.

I currently live in North Texas, serve in my local church alongside my husband, and I’ve had the privilege of speaking around the world in places like Johannesburg, Monaco, Geneva, Munich, Port-au-Prince, Nice and Florence. Although my past story is difficult, my current story le
aks adventure.

I’m a storyteller at heart, see. And you may not know this about me, but I write novels, too. You can get my first published novel free right now on Amazon. Just click the image to get it. Watching the Tree Limbs is the story of God’s redemptive hand in sexual abuse. It’s a page-turner, but it also helps you understand the heart and mind of a sexual abuse victim.

This site reflects my heart, my goals, my ambitions. Not only have I been re-stored and restoried, but I long to see the same for you. You no longer have to live haunted. I believe your new story starts today. Carl Bard wrote, “Though no one can go back and make a brand-new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand-new ending.”

June 22, 2022

What is poetry? Perhaps the Answer is What Poetry is Not.


Sara M. Robinson

Inspired by a recent essay asking this same question, I started thinking more about all that I have written about poetry, as well as the poems I have composed. After all, what is this genre we are writing? I guess we could ask the other long questions, too. Why? How? When, and Where might be a little obscure as to poetry, but back to the first question: What is poetry?

Is poetry prose, simply written differently? Some poetry critics say that poetry is simply prose broken up into short lines. Really? That’s an over simplification of the most amazing literary genre that the human brain has created. There is method to poetry and the first step is compaction: every word must serve a purpose. Even prose poetry (to further confuse matters) has specific tasks, such as creative visuals. Poetry also relies on a peculiar kind of rhythm to state its case for being poetry. The rhythm or cadence can seem musical, or it can match the rhythm of human speech. Poetry does not have to have rhyming lines, but the language must be true.

Writing of true, I emphasize that language must be true in that it represents a keen interest and application of words. This is not the same as truth. My mantra is: Poetry can always be fiction, but the words must reveal great truths. By means of example, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in his seminal Democracy in America, “…men in democracies, whose concerns are in general so paltry, call upon their poets for conceptions so vast and descriptions so unlimited.” These authors undertake such grand requests and respond with the gigantic to reach the multitudes. The risk is that poets get so lofty that they simply float away.

Poetry is the relevant genre of our times as well. We see in currently published works the anxieties, horror and redemptions that mankind faces. The world is brought closer to us, and our own local geography is put right in front of us. Poetry is a mirror. Its reflections are created by words that make us either think, cringe, laugh or cry. At its best, poetry is a call to action. How?

Remember Amanda Gorman and her poem, “The Hill We Climb”?

Poetry is the all-inclusive “WE” for this planet. Poetry is more than a tie that binds, it is the rope of salvation. A rescue ship whose constant search is for more of us to save.

What is poetry? Perhaps the answer is what poetry is not.

Keep writing…

Sara M. Robinson, founder of the Lonesome Mountain Pro(s)e Writers’ Workshop, and former Instructor of a course on Contemporary American Poets at UVA-OLLI, was poetry columnist for Southern Writers Magazine and inagural poetry editor for Virginia Literary Journal. She has served as guest lecturer at UVA’s College at Wise, Wise, VA. Her poetry has appeared in various anthologies, including We Grew Wings and Flew (2014), Scratching Against the Fabric (2015), Virginia Writer’s Club Centennial Anthology (2017), Blue Ridge Anthologies and Mizmor Anthology (2018). Journals include: Loch Raven Review, The Virginia Literary Journal, vox poetica, Jimson Weed, Whisky Advocate, and Poetica. She is poet and author of Love Always, Hobby and Jessie (2009), Two Little Girls in a Wading Pool (2012), A Cruise in Rare Waters (2013 Stones for Words (2014), Sometimes the Little Town (2016), a finalist for the Poetry Society of Virginia’s 2017 Book Award. In 2019, Needville, her poetry about effects of coal mining on SW Virginia was released and in 2020 debuted as play in Charlottesville. Her most recent publication is Simple River (2020, Cyberwit).

June 21, 2022

Long Way Home Shared By Lynn Austin

Lynn Austin

It often happens that in the process of researching one novel, I encounter interesting tidbits that give me ideas for a future novel. That’s how my newest book, Long Way Home, came to be. As I researched World War II for my two previous books, If I Were You and Chasing Shadows, I kept thinking about my dad, who enlisted in the Navy at age eighteen and served in the war in the Pacific. Dad never talked about his experiences, but we noticed that certain activities, such as driving across a long bridge, caused him anxiety. While researching, I came upon accounts from WWII veterans and their children that described anxiety-producing episodes like my dad’s. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) wasn’t recognized back in the 1940s, and psychiatry was still in its infancy. Returning soldiers were left to struggle on their own with what was called “battle fatigue” or cope with risky treatments such as electric shocks or insulin comas. Thus, the idea for Long Way Home was born, the story of returned veteran Jimmy Barnett, who suffers from PTSD, and his friend Peggy Serrano, who battles to find help for him.

While researching my earlier WWII novels, I also read about the SS St. Louis, which sailed from Hamburg, Germany, in 1939 with more than nine hundred Jewish passengers, desperate to escape Nazi persecution. I knew when I read their harrowing story that I wanted to use it in Long Way Home, so I decided to retell it from the point of view of Gisela Wolff, a sixteen-year-old Jewish passenger. Her story intertwines with Jimmy Barnett’s story, but readers will have to read the novel to discover how.

In writing my novels, I always begin with an idea, such as the ones I mentioned above. Then I dive into the research until my characters and their settings come to life in my mind. After that, I begin writing and make up the story as I go along, with no clear idea how the book will end. It becomes very much like a roller-coaster ride for me as I experience all of the ups and downs that my characters experience, facing challenges and obstacles along the way. I became very emotional, at times, as I relived World War II with Jimmy and Gisela. One of the themes that emerged is the destructive power of prejudice—whether it’s blatant anti-Semitism or children bullying someone on the playground—and the power of love and friendship to help rescue one another. Another theme asks, how do we hang on to our faith when faced with suffering and God seems very far away?

It was my own struggle with unanswered prayer nearly forty years ago that first inspired me to try writing. God had used a novel, The Chosen by Chaim Potok, to help me understand why a loving Father might sometimes allow His children to suffer. At the time, Christian publishing was in its infancy, but that book inspired me to try writing a book from a Christian worldview, showing God as a main character working behind the scenes as He does in our lives. My hope was to encourage one person the way that The Chosen had helped me.

So, I sat down to write one day when my children were napping and quickly discovered how much I loved it! I learned that all of my quirky personality traits and experiences made me well-suited to be a writer. I began reading books on writing and attending writing conferences in order to learn the craft, and happily, my first book was finally published eleven years later. Since then, writing has greatly enriched my life, taking me to new places for my research, teaching me new things, stretching my own faith as I journey to hard places with my characters. But my greatest joy comes when I hear from readers that God has used my book to enrich their faith journeys, just as a book once blessed me.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot while writing twenty-seven novels, two novellas, and two nonfiction works. There are many wonderful days when the writing flows and I lose all track of time. Of course, there are also days when things get tough and it’s hard to stay in the chair! I’ve learned that creativity must be nourished, and I’ve taught myself some strategies for dealing with writer’s block and discouragement. This was true, at times, while writing Long Way Home because the subject matter was so intense. But I think the end result was worth it and that readers will find it to be a refreshing and surprisingly uplifting story of God’s faithfulness in difficult times. My goal is always to tell a compelling story that will move and bless my readers. I hope Long Way Home will accomplish that.

Lynn Austin has sold more than one and a half million copies of her books worldwide. A former teacher who now writes and speaks full-time, she has won eight Christy Awards for her historical fiction and was one of the first inductees into the Christy Award Hall of Fame. One of her novels, Hidden Places, was made into a Hallmark Channel Original Movie. Lynn and her husband have three grown children and make their home in western Michigan.

June 20, 2022

The Gentlemen Adventurer

Davis Bunn

An American, DAVIS BUNN is Writer-in-Residence at Regent’s Park College, Oxford University. His books have sold in excess of eight million copies in over twenty languages and have been Main or Featured Selections with every major US book club. Lately he has appeared on the cover of Southern Writers, Retailing Magazine, and Publishers Weekly. His more recent titles have earned him Best Book and Top Pick awards from Library Journal, Romantic Times, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Kirkus. He lectures around the world on aspects of creative writing.

Born and raised in North Carolina, Davis left for Europe at age twenty. There he first completed graduate studies in economics and finance, then began a business career that took him to over forty countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.Davis came to faith at age 28, while living in Germany and running an international business advisory group. He started writing two weeks later. Since that moment, writing has remained both a passion and a calling.Davis wrote for nine years and completed seven books before his first was accepted for publication. During that time, he continued to work full-time in his business career, travelling to two and sometimes three countries every week. His first published book, The Presence, was released in 1990 and became a national bestseller.A sought-after speaker in the art of writing.

His newest book is The Emerald Tide. When asked what inspired the book he said,

Emerald Tide centers around one of the most famous art thefts in history. Eighty years after the painting was stolen, it remains at the top of Interpol’s list.
The opening scenes also take place in one of my all-time favorite museums, the Getty in Los Angeles. Three years ago, I was granted a behind-the-scene glimpse into the Getty’s secret world, by way of an art historian serving as one of the Getty in-house scholars. I have wanted to use these experiences in a story ever since.

What were your challenges writing this book? 

The biggest and most unique challenge I faced with Emerald Tide was the covid lockdowns. I currently live in England, and we have endured four lockdowns and two nearly-as-bad periods over these past two years. Which has meant living vicariously through the research and writing of this story.I spend a great deal of time on research. In this case, however, I was unable to do what I most wanted, which was revisit these places and talk face-to-face with my sources. Everything was done at arm’s length. Zoom has never played a more vital role in a story’s creation.


The story’s final passages all take place in Sicily. Three people in particular were immensely helpful in shaping these scenes, all Sicilian, all living in England, all very forgiving of this utter foreigner encroaching on their home island. I hope I have done them – and their homeland – justice.

June 17, 2022

The Quiet Strength and Revolutionary Spirit of Rosa Parks Shared By H. H. Leonards

Rosa Parks and H. H. Leonards


We are delighted to have H. H. Leonards with us today and so excited about her book that releases June 19, Rosa Parks Beyond the Bus: Life, Lessons, and Leadership.

This book is a collection of inspiring and instructive memories compiled from the decade that Mrs. Parks was a guest in author H.H. Leonard’s Washington, DC home. During those years, Mrs. Leonards was able to know the heart, mind, and spirit of the woman who refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama city bus on December 1, 1955. The author shares her remembrances, both delightful and somber, in a way that offers readers an intimate and personal glimpse into the personhood of Mrs. Parks.

What drew you to write about Rosa Parks?

The Library of Congress was doing a major exhibition: Mrs. Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words. During that time O Museum in The Mansion was being added as a historic civil rights site on the African American Heritage Trail because Mrs. Parks had spent nearly 10 years staying with us and conducting many of her important meetings at the Museum.

Luis Clavell, a Librarian Curator who was working on the LOC exhibit attended the unveiling at O Museum and suggested I write a book about my time with Mrs. Parks. I said “yes”, not understanding the enormity of what that meant. Once I began writing I realized how important it was to capture the lessons she taught me. I didn’t realize how daunting writing a book was — especially because I run four businesses — but I kept my promise to write it because keeping your commitments –– no matter how big or how small –– was one of the lessons Mrs. Parks instilled in me. If you say you will do something, you move mountains to do it!

What do you want your readers to learn about Rosa Parks they don’t already know?

That she had a very difficult life, but no matter what happened to her, she took time to heal physically and emotionally and then would roar back, stronger than ever. She spoke reality: “The struggle continues, the struggle continues.” But her call to action was always: “The laws can change, but if you don’t change people’s hearts, nothing will change. So speak your truth with love in your heart.” And she did – over and over again.

How do you feel Rosa Parks influenced you?

Observing Mother Parks in action affirms the amazing construct of the human will. Time after time, when bad things happened to her, the power of her positive actions allowed her to triumph against unbelievable odds.

She taught me that it’s not the once-in-a-lifetime, dramatic, visible, up-by-the-bootstraps effort that brings enduring success. Rather, it’s the day-to-day actions, putting first things first. During her life, Mother Parks encountered many who persecuted her, took advantage of her or disregarded who she was for reasons only known to themselves. Despite all that she endured (or perhaps because of it) Rosa Louise McCauley Parks was the perfect example of authenticity. And by being such an example of all that is good, she made you a better person.

She taught by example that you can be quiet, but in your quest you can move mountains.

What point in your writing career did you feel like you had gone from amateur to pro?

I am not a pro. I simply write from that gut place – that mystery that only appears when my fingers fly across the keys of my laptop (formerly my portable Smith-Corona typewriter.) I began keeping diaries when I was in fifth grade. They kept me sane and helped me discover who I wanted to become – not the shy, geeky, gangly athlete that I was.

Do you consider Rosa Parks a mentor to you?

She was more of a mother figure than my own mother. She didn’t judge, she didn’t manipulate, she didn’t lecture. You could hold her hand and see the way the world could be, not the way it was. I felt peace, hope and love when I was with her. Most importantly, she taught – through action – that anything was possible if you understood that giving is more important than receiving, love is all that matters and that forgiveness is a gift, not a burden. The future can be better if you understand those concepts.

In what way?

She taught me that when you go to bed at night, before you fall asleep, you have to forgive everyone and everything – and when you wake up in the morning, you have to forgive yourself.

What do you feel other women can learn from Rosa Parks?

Mrs. Parks understood society won’t change until you change people's hearts. She worked tirelessly toward this goal of changing hearts and minds. She would seize the moment at every opportunity to spread her messages of hope, understanding and love. Whether she was focused on civil rights, women’s rights, victim’s rights or human rights her message was always consistent and kind. Love is all that matters.

What steps if any are involved in research for your book?

I am not a historian. Mrs. Parks channeled through me – I simply recounted the stories she told me. I did not know who she was for approximately three years after she lived with me. I did not google anything about her until well after she passed.

What do you feel makes this book stand out from other books on Rosa Parks?

It is a personal recollection of her essence – her soul, who she really was – from the inside out. She was the real deal. There was no duplicity, no need to power over, no need to do anything but give love to those she met.

What were some special moments for you in writing this book?

Three-quarters of the way through writing this book, I lost the manuscript. It disappeared from my computer. The work wasn’t in “the cloud,” it wasn’t on my desktop, and it wasn’t backed up on our server. I even called a hacker I knew for help. Nothing worked. The only thing that I could think to do was pray—not to find the book, but rather to discover why this had happened. Not why it happened technically – but what lesson our Lord was trying to teach me. Oddly, I was not angry. Although I admit: I was upset and lost. I was joined in prayer by four life-changers giving me advice. They all said the same thing: Let Mrs. Parks write this book for you. This was exactly what I needed to allow me to write from my heart, her heart.

Another extraordinary experience in writing this book is that with each paragraph, I came to realize how she affected the person I became. Lead an exemplary life. Give to others, always.

There was never anything perplexing about Mrs. Parks. You never wondered where you stood or what she stood for. Nothing was gray in Mrs. Parks’ behavior, words, teachings and gestures. Because she was so sure about who she was, you would be assured in her presence of who you are.

 H.H. Leonards is the founder and chair of the O Street Museum Foundation, headquartered in Washington, D.C., and the Mansion on O Street, where Mrs. Rosa Parks called her home-away-from-home for the last decade of her life. Leonards is a wife, mother of three, and friend to celebrities and everyday people alike. The Perdue University alumna established The Mansion in 1980 to provide a unique and eclectic forum where clients learn from one another and foster the development of diversity, the creative process and the human spirit.




June 16, 2022

Your Next Beach Read!

Carley Fortune is the author of Every Summer After, the instant USA Today, Toronto Star, and Globe & Mail bestselling novel — and your next beach read. The book is a nostalgic story of childhood crushes, first loves, and the people and choices that mark us forever.

Carley is an award-winning journalist, who has served at some of Canada’s top publications. She was most recently the Executive Editor of Refinery29 Canada, a job that gave her a lot of pride, joy, and a few migraines. Previously, she was the deputy editor of Chatelaine magazine, where she oversaw the brand’s digital transformation. After being promoted to Editor in Chief, she produced one whole issue, then left to launch Refinery29 Canada, making her the shortest-serving EIC in Chatelaine’s 90+ year history, a fact you will not find on its Wikipedia page.

Carley’s sixteen-year tour around the Canadian media industry has included editorial positions at The Globe and Mail, Toronto Life magazine, and the much-beloved, now-defunct weekly paper, The Grid. Not surprisingly, she likes coming up with new ideas and prefers the beginning of things. Carley was born in Toronto, and spent her young life in the suburbs of Sydney, Australia, and in Barry’s Bay, a tiny lakeside town in rural Ontario.

Carley holds a Bachelor of Journalism from Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University). She lives in Toronto with her husband, whom she met in a magazine features writing class at j-skool and pursued doggedly after hearing about his nonna’s homemade lasagna. They have two sons.

Every Summer After is Carley’s first novel. She is currently writing her second.

When asked why she wrote a novel, Carley said, " As a kid, reading and writing were my first loves. But I had a pragmatic streak from a young age, and I didn’t think becoming an author was a realistic way to pay the bills. I ended up in journalism instead. (HA!) Still, I always dreamed of writing a novel — I just never thought I’d actually get around to it. In the summer of 2020, feeling deeply nostalgic and pushed to my personal limits, I suddenly decided to write the damn book. I guess I was reclaiming my creativity. I gave myself a deadline to finish the manuscript by the end of the year, set a daily word count goal, and chipped away at it in the early hours of the morning. I’m still shocked Every Summer After is a real book now. It was published May 2022.

June 15, 2022

The Gamble Paid Off

Here is Emily Giffin's story. If you have read her work you will agree with me, we're glad she took the gamble.

Emily Giffin, a Chicago native, graduated summa cum laude from Wake Forest University and the University of Virginia School of Law. After law school, she moved to Manhattan and practiced litigation at a large firm for several years while she paid back her school loans, wrote a novel in her very limited spare time, and dreamed of becoming a writer.

Despite the rejection of her first manuscript, Giffin persisted, retiring from the legal profession and moving to London to pursue her dreams full time. It was there that she began writing Something Borrowed (2004), a story of a young woman who, upon turning thirty, finally learned to take a risk and follow her heart. One year later, Giffin’s own gamble paid off, as she completed her manuscript, landed an agent and signed a two-book deal on both sides of the Atlantic. The following summer, Something Borrowed, hailed as a “heartbreakingly honest debut” with “dead-on dialogue, real-life complexity and genuine warmth,” became a surprise sensation, and Giffin vowed never to practice law again.

Dubbed a “modern day Jane Austen” (Vanity Fair) and a “dependably down-to-earth storyteller” (New York Times), Giffin has since penned nine more New York Times bestsellers, Something Blue (2005), Baby Proof (2006), Love the One You’re With (2008), Heart of the Matter (2010), Where We Belong (2012), The One & Only (2014), First Comes Love (2016), All We Ever Wanted (2018) and The Lies That Bind (2020). 

All of her novels, filled with endearingly flawed characters and emotional complexity, have resonated deeply with both critics and readers around the world, achieving bestseller status in a number of countries, including the United States (#1), Canada (#1), United Kingdom, France, Brazil and Poland (#1). The books have been translated into thirty-one languages, with over twelve million copies sold worldwide. In addition, five of her novels have been optioned for the big screen and are in various stages of development. The first, Something Borrowed, hit theaters in May 2011, starring Kate Hudson, Ginnifer Goodwin and John Krasinski.

Giffin now resides with her husband and three children in Atlanta. Her eleventh novel, Meant to Be, was published on May 31, 2022.

June 14, 2022

Loves Junior Mints!

Kasie West writes YA. Eats Junior Mints and sometimes goes crazy and does both at the same time.


Kasie's books are always fun, sweet and cute that's why they hit the spot for young teens as well as older YA readers. She seems to have found a perfect balance. Her books are great no matter what your age is.

She is a stay-at-home mom of four children- three of them girls, ranging in age from four to 12.

Her newest book, Places We've Never Been: A sweet and swoony contemporary Young Adult novel about a cross-country family road trip that puts one girl and her childhood best friend on an unexpected road to romance!

Norah hasn’t seen her childhood best friend, Skyler, in years. When he first moved away, they'd talk all the time, but lately their relationship has been reduced to liking each other’s Instagram posts. That’s why Norah can’t wait for the joint RV road trip their families have planned for the summer.

But when Skyler finally arrives, he he’d rather be anywhere else. Hurt and confused, Norah reacts in kind. Suddenly, her oldest friendship is on the rocks.

An unexpected summer spent driving across the country leads both Norah and Skyler down new roads and to new discoveries. Before long, they are, once again, seeing each other in a different light. Can their friendship-turned-rivalry turn into something more?

Visit Kasie West at

June 13, 2022

To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme, Is That a Question?

Sara M. Robinson


I’ve not talked about rhyme on its own in my earlier columns. As a free-verse poet, I don’t necessarily focus on rhymes. However, someone asked me recently if poetry had to rhyme.

This person wanted to write poetry but didn’t feel adequate enough to create rhyming lines.

And this got me to thinking about the idea of rhyme schemes. So, here we go. Let’s explore what it is about rhyming lines.

I’ve looked at two recent resources to help explain why or why not rhyming. One of the sources is Adam Gopnik’s “The Rules of Rhyme,” that appeared in the May 30 issue of The New Yorker magazine. I’ll refer to my second resource in a follow-up column. Gopnik states that rhyme is language turned into a ritual. He further explains that rituals are the cohesion (my word) among cultures, religions, and various sects. When we think of hymns, for instance, we know that literally every one of them in our language have rhyme schemes. Probably these hymns started out as poems then were set to music. Works of literature, such as those by Shakespeare used a great deal of rhyme. This was a great technique to appeal to the masses where formal education was not always present.

In our country today, we hear the poetry of hip-hop and rap as a major force in poetry of the YA group. Spoken-word poetry is also a forum for rhyming. So, does the popularity of modern spoken-word music (combines the two just mentioned) mean that rhyming is the only way to write? No, and maybe. All depends on what audience you write for or intend to write for.

To further add to your consideration of using rhymes, consider there are several types: half-rhymes, slant-rhymes, off-rhymes, odd-rhymes, near-rhymes, and assonance. I leave it to you to google these types as a homework assignment. If you decide that incorporating rhymes is an essential component of your style, then I implore you to expand your vocabulary. Read Milton, read Richard Wilbur, Robert Frost, and others who are formalists. Because once you begin to write in rhyme, you will need to consider how to make your lines work: iambic pentameter? trochee (stressed and unstressed syllables in a particular pattern)? These are only two examples.

Then lastly you will consider the end-rhyme word scheme itself: AABB, ABAB, ABBA, ABBCCA, ABA BCB, and so on.

What will you give your readers? Keep writing…

Sara M. Robinson, founder of the Lonesome Mountain Pro(s)e Writers’ Workshop, and former Instructor of a course on Contemporary American Poets at UVA-OLLI, was poetry columnist for Southern Writers Magazine and inagural poetry editor for Virginia Literary Journal. She has served as guest lecturer at UVA’s College at Wise, Wise, VA. Her poetry has appeared in various anthologies, including We Grew Wings and Flew (2014), Scratching Against the Fabric (2015), Virginia Writer’s Club Centennial Anthology (2017), Blue Ridge Anthologies and Mizmor Anthology (2018). Journals include: Loch Raven Review, The Virginia Literary Journal, vox poetica, Jimson Weed, Whisky Advocate, and Poetica. She is poet and author of Love Always, Hobby and Jessie (2009), Two Little Girls in a Wading Pool (2012), A Cruise in Rare Waters (2013 Stones for Words (2014), Sometimes the Little Town (2016), a finalist for the Poetry Society of Virginia’s 2017 Book Award. In 2019, Needville, her poetry about effects of coal mining on SW Virginia was released and in 2020 debuted as play in Charlottesville. Her most recent publication is Simple River (2020, Cyberwit).

June 10, 2022

Former Stealth Pilot~No Stranger to Secrets and Adventure

 We welcome James R. Hannibal to Suite T. 

James is a former stealth pilot and is no stranger to secrets and adventure. He has been shot at, locked up with surface to air missiles, and chased down a winding German road by an armed terrorist. He is a two-time Silver Falchion award-winner for his Section 13 mysteries, a Thriller Award nominee for his Nick Baron covert ops series, and a Selah Award finalist for his Clandestine Service series. James is a rare multi-sense synesthete, meaning all of his senses intersect. He sees and feels sounds and smells and hears flashes of light. If he tells you the chocolate cake you offered smells blue and sticky, take it as a compliment.

Let's talk about your writing James. When did you start writing?

I've always been a writer and storyteller. At age four I told my parents I wanted to write books, and I had my first short story read over the radio at age twelve after winning a writing contest. Becoming an author was never in question, but I needed to experience life first. At seventeen, I joined the Air Force through the Air Force Academy, and the military left little time for writing. But it built up my reserve of experiences. It built up my understanding of people, leadership, technology, and the good and evil in the world. All these things prepared me for the day I set out to write a book and find a publisher.

Who were/are two of your favorite authors and do you feel they influenced you? In what way?

To me, the works of C.S. Lewis have a vibrancy rarely found anywhere else. His writing taught me the potential for beauty within an adventure tale, whether fantasy or suspense. His works also taught me the value of communicating a message—a truth—through story, and that is what I hope to do through Peter and Lisa’s adventures in Elysium Tide. After starting with C.S. Lewis, I began reading Tom Clancy at the age of twelve. Through his stories, I discovered my love for technology and suspense. Tom's work also helped me understand the art of weaving multiple plot threads together into a single, seamless tapestry.

What point in your writing career did you feel like you had gone from amateur to pro?

My first thriller, Wraith, came out from a small publisher. It wasn’t a great experience, but through that process, I managed to get the attention of Clive Cussler and Publishers Weekly. With praise from them, I finally landed an agent and a “Big Five” publisher who continued that Nick Baron series. The day I signed my first contract with Penguin Random House is the day I felt like a pro.

What do you look for in choosing a setting for your book?

I’d say settings are secondary for me thus far. The story arrives by inspiration, usually during my travels. In the case of Elysium Tide, I was visiting Maui with family and learned of two things: the island had a serious auto theft problem and the resorts offered “boondoggle” certification retreats for doctors. Those two pieces of information spawned the story, and the place where inspiration struck gave me the setting. From there, I let a big resort on the island inspire the over-the-top Elysium Grand from the book.

What steps if any are involved in research for your book?

Research is an ongoing process, but there are definite steps. If you don’t have a process, you can get bogged down in research, which is something I’ve written about in the past. Make an overview pass of topics related to your story. I use mind mapping for this. From the mind map, I determine the most important topics and dig deeper, looking for those that generate new ideas to give breadth to my story. The internet is not all-knowing. Invest in good, well-documented books if the story demands it. Books are self-limiting, but when heading down an internet rabbit hole, I’ll set a timer to prevent myself from getting lost in the research bog.

In writing your new book, what do you feel makes it stand out?

Elysium Tide comes to life with a gorgeous resort setting contrasted with a crime underworld. It also doesn’t take itself too seriously. Even though we’re dealing with weighty topics like life, death, and salvation, the characters manage to find and express humor in a way that early reviewers have connected with.

In your new book, what would you like the reader to feel and walk away with?

My hope is the readers will walk away entertained, encouraged, and equipped. Even Christians struggle with the idea of eternity and the fear of death. I hope that examining these topics through the eyes of an atheist neurosurgeon while he and his detective friend uncover a dangerous conspiracy brings them to light in a new way while giving readers tools for bolstering their own faith and reaching out to others.

What is the best writing advice you have received so far?

“It’s not a book. It’s a career.” That’s a quote from author Tom Young, and it’s the best practical advice I’ve ever received from an author. And to be clear, I’ve had face to face conversations and sat through seminars with many of the greats—Lee Child, Clive Cussler, James Patterson, and so on. Tom’s simple phrase is the one that stuck with me, and the one my wife and I repeat to each other often. Finish the story, let the publisher send it out, then get to work on the next one. The other great advice I follow came from my pastor, Dr. Jeremy Evans. “I only have a short time in this life to do God’s work. I’m going to use that time as best I can.”

What is the worst?

I had an employee of a publisher once suggest that I should violate my non-disclosures with the US Air Force to garner publicity for a series. I know that several have made this move—some with great success and no consequences. I won’t do it.

Between plotting, character development, dialogue, and scenes which is easiest for you, and which takes a lot of effort?

I like action. Action scenes flow quickly, and for that reason some new writers make the mistake of letting them run for pages and pages. If you do that, your action will eventually become boring to the reader. The harder part is combining narrative and dialogue (and sometimes action) to convey important story information and message to the reader. I call this the hermeneutics of writing, and it takes effort and training.

What is your schedule for writing?

I write when I can. I hold down a day job as an airline pilot, and my schedule is often unpredictable. Thus, I fight for every writing moment I can get. If you don’t, it won’t happen.

What do you do if you get stumped?

I used to go for long walks. Turns out, walking twelve miles per chapter for fifteen years can have a detrimental effect on your feet. I spent four months in a wheelchair, walked with a cane for a bit, then experienced a miraculous healing of my ligaments. I’m not going to waste that by making the same mistakes, so now I walk a little and then swing in a porch swing to get the creative juices flowing.

Did you or do you make any sacrifices to be a writer?

Daily. Financial. Career. Physical. I do this for ministry. Ministry without sacrifice doesn’t live up to its name.

Did you choose your genre, or did it choose you?

Let’s be very honest. In the case of Elysium Tide, the publisher chose the genre. I gave them a range of options. They picked the proposal in the mystery genre, and that’s the one I wrote. In the case of my fantasy stories in the Lightraiders realm, that genre picked me. From the way I met the original owner of the 1980s game world to the incredible men and women who have come alongside me to carry its discipleship tools to a new generation, there is no other way to view it than “God is driving this boat.”

What is the best way you found to market your book?

Readers are the best marketing for a book. If you like a book, tell your friends, leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Apart from that, the best marketing for a book in my genre is a traditional paid ad on a major source (FB or IG ads). Previously it was major newspapers. The best day of sales in my career came from a quarter-page ad in USA Today. I’m trying to serve the near-forgotten Christian men’s fiction market. If you want to reach men, reach them with ads, not blogs.

Did you actively build a network of readers and if so, how?

My reader network has grown organically. Recently, publishers have asked me to build networks in other ways and it seems to be costly and counterproductive. I think proponents of these methods (like “street teams”) are getting perceived positive results that are influenced by other sources such as crossflow sales and word of mouth from the authors books with other publishers. The street team phenomenon may also be unique to the romance genre, which is not my area.

Are you on the Social Media Highway and if so, do you schedule times to post?

Scheduling posts is a best practice. My average engagement per post goes up when I do it and drops when I don’t. But I’ve been inconsistent. I’ve hired someone to help with this. I’ll let you know how it goes.

What advice would you like to give new authors that would help them?

I don’t think I can out-advise those who’ve given me the best advice I mentioned in the previous question on this topic. So, let me repeat what they told me.

“It’s not a book. It’s a career.” Tom Young

“I only have a short time in this life to do God’s work. I’m going to use that time as best I can.” Dr. Jeremy Evans.

Thank you James and congratulations on your new book, Elysium Tide

Visit James at .