October 31, 2022

Idioms-It’s All About How We Say Something. Or Is It?

Sara M. Robinson

In previous columns, I have mentioned the use of clichés and how we should avoid them, at all costs. Or use them at our peril. The same thing could be said of “idioms.” And what are they exactly? Here is a standard definition, according to Webster: (1) the language or dialect of a people, region, class, etc. (2) the usual way in which the words of a language are joined together to express thought (3) An accepted phrase, construction, or expression contrary to the usual patterns of the language or having a meaning different from the literal.

Does that clear it up for us? Well, we need examples. And here are some: “don’t cry over spilled milk”; “that’s a wrap”; “break a leg”; “think outside the box.” I’m sure you can come up with others. Cliches start out as idioms and then become overused. Here’s a recent idiom that drives me nuts: “kick the can down the road.” Often idioms have been used to colorfully illustrate an ordinary action. An example: “Spill the beans,” to mean reveal a secret.

So, why am I talking about this in the context of writing poetry? It’s because I want to save you from using idioms! In your quest for unique poetic language, I want you to stay true to your creative use of words. Please do not use: “Barking up the wrong tree,” in a poetic line when you are describing your grandfather’s favorite coon hound calling out about the treed raccoon, and the furry thing is in another tree.

Try this instead: “My grandfather called and whistled for Sheldon his hound, going deeper into the woods / Sheldon, now fifteen, still had the heart for the chase/ But no longer had the sight or sound for the quarry. // Grandfather didn’t mind as Sheldon was still his favorite and would be until he died. / Which happened that same night and again at the base of the wrong tree.”

We don’t need idioms to help us write imaginative and impactive poetry. Why can’t we simply and with great talent say: My dreams are calling me to give in to sleep and come to the softness of a treasured quilt. Isn’t that much better than “hit the hay”?

Keep looking for new and better ways to express yourself. 

Until next time…

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).

October 28, 2022

DNA Test Unlocks a Family Mystery

Meet Liz Tolsma, a Christian, Historical Fiction writer.

Liz  has lived in Wisconsin most of her life, and she now resides next to a farm field with her husband, their son, and their two daughters. All of their children have been adopted internationally and one has special needs. Her novella, Under His Wings, appeared in the New York Times bestselling collection, A Log Cabin Christmas. Her debut novel, Snow on the Tulips, released in August of 2013. Daisies Are Forever released in May 2014. When not busy putting words to paper, she enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping with her family. 

When asked about her passion, Liz said, "I’m passionate about my writing, about my family, and about God. I started on this publication journey in 2011 and am so blessed that I get to work at my dream job every day. I love nothing better than settling into my comfy office chair at the big desk my husband built for me and letting my imagination go crazy.

"I also love editing, especially helping new authors hone their skills and start on their own publication journeys. I have a passion for seeing others succeed in this business. There is also room for more well-written books."

Tell us about your family and your life.

"I have the best family. I’m married to my high school sweetheart, and we have three children that came to us through international adoption. Our son, Brian, joined our family from Vietnam when he was five months old. Our oldest daughter, Alyssa, came home from South Korea when she was three months old. We brought the youngest of the bunch, Jonalyn, home from the Philippines when she was five years old. Brian and Alyssa are now grown, but Jonalyn, who has significant special needs, will be our “lifer”. We live in a semi-rural area of Wisconsin, and we love it here!

"I can’t remember a time when I’ve not known or loved the Lord. I’m blessed to have been brought up in a Christian home and to have been taught the things of God early in my life. My prayer for each and every one that I touch, whether through my writing or through my life, is that they would come to know the richness and bounty of His love and mercy. Everything I do is for His honor and glory alone."

Her newest book releases in January. What I Would Tell You

DNA Test Unlocks a Family Mystery

Sephardic Jew Mathilda Nissim watches in horror as the Germans invade her beloved city of Salonika, Greece. What angers her most is the lack of resistance her people put up to their captors. In secret and at great risk to her life, she continues to publish her newspaper, calling her people to action. She doesn’t trust God to help them. When she and her husband find out they are expecting a child, Mathilda may have to resort to desperate measures to ensure her daughter’s survival.

Three generations later, college student Riley Payson and her cousin take a popular DNA test only to discover they don’t share any common ancestors. In fact, the test shows Riley is a Sephardic Jew from Greece. This revelation shakes Riley’s tenuous faith and sends her on a journey to discover what happened to her great-grandmother and how all this relates to her faith and her life today.

Please visit her blog at and follow her on Facebook and Twitter (@LizTolsma). She is also a regular contributor to the Barn Door blog 

October 27, 2022

A Woman’s Journey Out Of Depression

Countney Maum


As seen on The Today Show!

A Good Morning America, Vanity Fair, TODAY, NYLON and PureWow Best Book of May and a Publishers Weekly and Best Book of Summer.

An Amazon Best Book of 2022 So Far (Biography & Memoir Category)

Sharp, heartfelt, and cathartic, The Year of the Horses captures a woman’s journey out of depression and the horses that guide her, physically and emotionally, on a new path forward.

At the age of thirty-seven, Courtney Maum finds herself in an indoor arena in Connecticut, moments away from stepping back into the saddle. For her, this is not just a riding lesson, but a last-ditch attempt to pull herself back from the brink even though riding is a relic from the past she walked away from. She hasn’t been on or near a horse in over thirty years.

Although Maum does know what depression looks like, she finds herself refusing to admit, at this point in her life, that it could look like her: a woman with a privileged past, a mortgage, a husband, a healthy child, and a published novel. That she feels sadness is undeniable, but she feels no right to claim it. And when both therapy and medication fail, Courtney returns to her childhood passion of horseback riding as a way to recover the joy and fearlessness she once had access to as a young girl. As she finds her way, once again, through the world of contemporary horseback riding—Courtney becomes reacquainted with herself not only as a rider but as a mother, wife, daughter, writer, and woman. Alternating timelines and braided with historical portraits of women and horses alongside history’s attempts to tame both parties, The Year of the Horses is an inspiring love letter to the power of animals—and humans—to heal the mind and the heart.

Courtney Maum is the author of the novels Costalegre (a GOOP book club pick and one of Glamour Magazine’s top books of the decade), I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You and Touch (a New York Times Editor’s Choice and NPR Best Book of the Year selection), the popular guidebook Before and After the Book Deal: A writer’s guide to finishing, publishing, promoting, and surviving your first book, and the forthcoming memoir, The Year of the Horses. Courtney’s writing has been widely published in such outlets as the New York Times, and O, the Oprah Magazine, and her short story This is Not Your Fault was turned into an Audible Original at Amazon. Courtney is the founder of the collaborative retreat program, The Cabins and she has a creativity advice newsletter "Get Published, Stay Published" that you can sign up for at

Twitter: cmaum

Newsletter: Maumalog

Instagram: cbmaum


October 26, 2022

Jacqueline Woodson Helps Us See Beyond Our Experiences

Jacqueline Woodson

Here is Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López's 
(Illustrator) highly anticipated companion to their #1 New York Times bestseller The Day You Begin illuminates the power in each of us to face challenges with confidence.

On a dreary, stuck-inside kind of day, a brother and sister heed their grandmother’s advice: “Use those beautiful and brilliant minds of yours. Lift your arms, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and believe in a thing. Somebody somewhere at some point was just as bored you are now.” And before they know it, their imaginations lift them up and out of their boredom. Then, on a day full of quarrels, it’s time for a trip outside their minds again, and they are able to leave their anger behind. This precious skill, their grandmother tells them, harkens back to the days long before they were born, when their ancestors showed the world the strength and resilience of their beautiful and brilliant minds. Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael Lopez’s dazzling art celebrate the extraordinary ability to lift ourselves up and imagine a better world.


The Day You Begin was featured in its own episode in the Netflix original show Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices!

National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson and two-time Pura Belpré Illustrator Award winner Rafael López have teamed up to create a poignant, yet heartening book about finding courage to connect, even when you feel scared and alone.

There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you.

There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it's how you look or talk, or where you're from; maybe it's what you eat, or something just as random. It's not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it.

Jacqueline Woodson's lyrical text and Rafael López's dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.

Jacqueline Woodson's memoir BROWN GIRL DREAMING won the 2014 National Book Award and was a NY Times Bestseller. Her novel, ANOTHER BROOKLYN, was a National Book Award finalist and an Indie Pick in 2016. Among her many awards, she is the recipient of the Kurt Vonnegut Award, four Newbery Honors, two Coretta Scott King Awards, and the Langston Hughes Medal. Jacqueline is the author of nearly thirty books for young people and adults including EACH KINDNESS, IF YOU COME SOFTLY, LOCOMOTION and I HADN'T MEANT TO TELL YOU THIS. She served as Young People's Poet Laureate from 2014-2016, was a fellow at The American Library in Paris, occasionally writes for the New York Times, is currently working on more books and like so many writers - lives with her family in Brooklyn, N
ew York.


October 25, 2022

New Christian Suspense Thriller by F. D. Adkins

F. D. Adkins

F. D. Adkins is the author of the new Christian Suspense Thriller novels, TRUTH IN THE NAME and TRUTH IN THE WORD. Woven with dystopian elements and mixed with plenty of action, twists, turns, love, and laughs, both of these novels are part of her TRUTH series that will soon be a trilogy.

F. D. Adkins is a Christian fiction author and freelance writer. Her hope is to pass along the comfort that comes from having a personal relationship with Jesus while offering her readers a brief escape from life's struggles through an action-packed stories.


What if someone erased your memory?

Would you still know God?

In 2049, President Denali has won the respect of the entire nation. At the same time, Ellie Hatcher is haunted by whispers of guilt. Two years ago, her sister vanished after she forgot to meet her for lunch. Since then, Ellie has dedicated her life to finding her. But when Ellie receives a letter from President Denali stating that he has chosen her to be a member of his special crime division, she has no idea that the raging waters in her life have only begun to pound the rocks. Soon after she arrives at the facility for training, she discovers that this special honor is not quite what it seems. As the truth is revealed, she enters a race against time to save the world and the man she loves from the president’s hunger for power. Ellie Hatcher may have been chosen as a pawn by the president, but her presence in the training facility just might be an assignment from God.


If the enemy came to lay his claim,

would you bear the seal of the Holiest name?

Ellie is finally living the life of her dreams. But, across the country, outbreaks of violence are claiming innocent lives, and it keeps getting worse. Authorities discover the perpetrators all have one thing in common. They were all victims in President Denali’s training facility. The new president issues an executive order forcing all who had been held in President Denali’s facility back to Cheyenne Mountain Complex for testing. Upon arrival, Ellie’s hopes of a quick return home are shattered. As the group is brought back together and they search for the truth in a mountain of lies and deception, they discover that the reunion of their little army could be another assignment from God.

Meet F. D. Adkins:

When did you start writing, and how did you come up with the idea for your first novel?

I have always dreamed of being an author. However, I worked in banking up until my husband and I had children. Then, I became a stay-at-home mother. Now, both of my children are teenagers who drive, work, go to school, and spend more time with friends than before.

As my children began to enter this new phase of their lives, I suddenly had more time on my hands, and I found myself asking the question, “Now what?” I felt God was leading me to do something, but I had no clue as to what. Then one morning, during my workout, the idea for my first novel popped into my head. The more I thought about the concept, the more the plot came together. I started writing little by little in my spare time, and a year later, I had completed TRUTH IN THE NAME. Honestly, I am still in awe of the path that led to the TRUTH series. From getting a book contract to the release of the first book, then the second, and now, I am working on book three.

Why did you choose to write Christian Suspense?

I love reading books filled with suspense and action that also have a message of faith, and I like knowing when I sit down with a novel, I won’t have to worry about it containing anything that would go against God’s Word.

In writing Christian Suspense, I hope to pass along the comfort that comes from having a personal relationship with Jesus while offering readers a brief escape from life’s struggles through an action-packed story. In other words, my passion is sharing my faith through fiction.

What message do you hope your readers get from your novels?

The first book is about having Jesus in your heart and is meant to convey to the reader that while things in this world can change and even disappear, no one or nothing can take Jesus from your heart. When we truly accept Him as our Lord and Savior, Jesus sets up permanent residence in our hearts until He calls us home to spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

The second book is about being sealed with the Holy Spirit. When we ask Jesus into our hearts, God marks us with his seal, the Holy Spirit, that identifies us as children of God. So, while the devil can still wreak his havoc, tempt us, and whisper his lies in our ears, he can’t have us. If we have accepted Christ and put our trust in Him, we have the Holy Spirit inside us that not only guides us but is a guarantee that we will spend eternity in Heaven.

Do you have any unusual writing habits?

I do most of my brainstorming during my morning workout. There is something about running on the treadmill that seems to get my mind stirring. When I write, I must either have a cup of dark roast coffee or a bag of trail mix.

So, ‘now what’? What’s next for you in your writing?

I have always been a planner, but recently, God has been teaching me that it isn’t about my plan. It’s about His plan. Right now, I am working on book three. As for what’s next, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Visit her at:


October 24, 2022

Meet Linda Lovely, Author of Home Owners Association Mysteries

Meet Linda Lovely, author of a Home Owners Association Mystery

Her new book, Neighbors to Die For, releases November 8. You will want to mark the date on your calendar.

Linda says, "My soon-to-be-released HOA Mystery, Neighbors To Die For, is set in Beaufort County, and the heroine lives aboard a boat at the Downtown Beaufort Marina.

Why a homeowner association mystery series?

More than 40 million U.S. households sit inside HOAs. That's more than half of owner-occupied homes. Just like English villages provided perfect settings for Agatha Christie, today’s HOAs provide ideal backdrops for intrigue and an abundance of suspects in modern mysteries. Community residents tend to know about each other—either through personal contact or gossip. The ability of HOA Boards to make and enforce rules that impact people’s daily lives and their most important financial asset can generate animosity. And power struggles are inevitable—as they are in any human organization.

Tell us a little about the book.

Neighbors To Die For is my second HOA Mystery set in the South Carolina Lowcountry, where I made my home for a dozen years. The series heroine is Kylee Kane, a 50-year-old retired Coast Guard investigator who’s been roped into consulting for a life-long friend who owns an HOA management company. This mystery opens with Kylee listening to HOA Board members quarrel over acceptable mulch color. Little does she suspect the coming Thanksgiving week will find her searching for kidnapped HOA presidents, investigating a SWAT incident, and trying to stop a killer whose hit list includes Kylee and everyone she loves.

This is how Jonathan Haupt, coeditor, Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy, describes the novel.

“Multiple mysteries converge as retired Coast Guard investigator Kylee Kane returns in this welcome second installment of Linda Lovely’s HOA Mystery Series. Lovely excels at balancing the life-and-death stakes of her well-paced narrative with the character developments of her robust and memorable cast, all against the backdrop of the deceptively benign world of HOA machinations. A delightful, page-turner of a mystery, not to be missed.”

How many novels so far?

This is my tenth published novel. Whether I’m writing cozy mysteries, historical suspense or contemporary thrillers, my novels share one common element—smart, independent heroines. Humor and romance also sneak into every manuscript. I’m secretary of the Southeast Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, and a former president of the Upstate SC Sisters in Crime chapter. I also belong to International Thriller Writers, and the South Carolina Writers Association. For many years, I helped organize the Writers’ Police Academy.

Don't miss this book. Follow Linda Lovely she loves to hear from her


"A journalism major, I got my first paid writing job with Plymouth Traveler Magazine the summer after my sophomore year at Northwestern University. My editors were a hoot, and I was hooked.

"In the decades since then (my gray hair hints at the number), I’ve written hundreds of magazine features for business and trade magazines, freelanced for advertising agencies, written speeches for corporate executives, produced marketing brochures and newsletters, planned PR events, scripted videos, and written Help for tech products.

"I enjoyed it all, but nothing compares to the joy of researching and writing mysteries and suspense novels.In 2022, I celebrated my tenth year as a traditionally published author!

"When I’m not writing (or reading), I enjoy tennis, swimming, gardening and long walks with my husband. We now live on a lake in Upstate South Carolina. Though we’ve also called Fripp Island, SC, Durham, NC, Atlanta, GA, and Rochester, NY, home.

"My hometown is Keokuk, Iowa. Though none of my contemporary heroines live there, most grew up in Keokuk. That explains why they share my affinity for some Midwest expressions and attitudes."


A Fun, Fast Page-Turner--Tami Hoag, #1 NYT Bestselling Author

“Linda Lovely delivers another twisty mystery with the perfect mix of wry humor and quirky characters. Anyone looking for a fun, fast page-turner, here it is!”

Captivating Suspense--
Katherine Ramsland, bestselling author of How to Catch a Killer

“HOA communities seem deceptively safe, but the mix of gossip and politics in rule-bound groups can be a fertile breeding ground for murder. For the gutsy Kylee Kane, a fact-finding gig in South Carolina’s Lowcountry turns increasingly complex and dangerous. With Neighbors Like These offers a distinctive setting, a tenacious female sleuth and captivating suspense.”

Crackling Dialogue--Richard Helms,
​Derringer & Thriller Awards winning author of Brittle Karma

"Low Country murder, intrigue, and even a little romance abound in With Neighbors Like These. Kylee Kane is a welcome addition to the genre, and author Linda Lovely knows how to stir the pot with crackling dialogue and a tidy little mystery. Highly recommended!"

October 21, 2022

Bestselling Author and Screenwriter Delia Ephron Now Writes Her Memoir

Delia Ephron

Bestselling author and screenwriter Delia Ephron's most recent novel is Siracusa. Her other novels include The Lion Is In and Hanging Up. She has written humor books for all ages, including How to Eat Like a Child and Do I Have to Say Hello?; and nonfiction, most recently Sister Mother Husband Dog (etc.). Her films include You’ve Got Mail, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Hanging Up (based on her novel), and Michael. Her journalism has appeared in The New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Vogue, and Vanity Fair. Her hit play Love, Loss, and What I Wore (co-written with Nora Ephron) ran for more than two years off-Broadway and has been performed all over the world. She lives in New York City.

Delia Ephron's new book, Left on Tenth: A Second Chance at Life: A Memoir was released April of 2022. The bestselling, beloved writer of romantic comedies like You've Got Mail tells her own late-in-life love story in her "resplendent memoir," complete with a tragic second act and joyous resolution (Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of The Good Left Undone).

Delia Ephron had struggled through several years of heartbreak. She’d lost her sister, Nora, and then her husband, Jerry, both to cancer. Several months after Jerry’s death, she decided to make one small change in her life—she shut down his landline, which crashed her internet. She ended up in Verizon hell.

She channeled her grief the best way she knew: by writing a New York Times op-ed. The piece caught the attention of Peter, a Bay Area psychiatrist, who emailed her to commiserate. Recently widowed himself, he reminded her that they had shared a few dates fifty-four years before, set up by Nora. Delia did not remember him, but after several weeks of exchanging emails and sixties folk songs, he flew east to see her. They were crazy, utterly, in love.

But this was not a rom-com: four months later she was diagnosed with AML, a fierce leukemia.

In Left on Tenth, Delia Ephron enchants as she seesaws us between tears and laughter, navigating the suicidal lows of enduring cutting-edge treatment and the giddy highs of a second chance at love. With Peter and her close girlfriends by her side, with startling clarity, warmth, and honesty about facing death, Ephron invites us to join her team of warriors and become believers ourselves.

Best Books of 2022 So Far. A Must Read Book!

October 20, 2022

The British Monarchy:A New History


Tracy Borman

Tracy is a historian and author from Scothern, Lincolnshire, England; most widely known as the author of Elizabeth's Women, a portrait-gallery of the powerful women who influenced Queen Elizabeth I.

In February 2022, her book
Crown & Sceptre: A New History of the British Monarchy, from William the Conqueror to Elizabeth II was released. It is Amazon's editors pick for Best Books of 2022 So Far.

“Crown & Sceptre brings us in short, vivid chapters from William the Conqueror to Elizabeth herself, much of it constituting a dark record of bumping off adversaries, rivals and spouses, confiscating vast estates and military invasions…. lucid, character-rich book.” —Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Since William the Conqueror, duke of Normandy, crossed the English Channel in 1066 to defeat King Harold II and unite England’s various kingdoms, forty-one kings and queens have sat on Britain’s throne. “Shining examples of royal power and majesty alongside a rogue’s gallery of weak, lazy, or evil monarchs,” as Tracy Borman describes them in her sparkling chronicle, Crown & Sceptre. Ironically, during very few of these 955 years has the throne’s occupant been unambiguously English—whether Norman French, the Welsh-born Tudors, the Scottish Stuarts, and the Hanoverians and their German successors to the present day.

Acknowledging the intrinsic fascination with British royalty, Borman lifts the veil to reveal the remarkable characters and personalities who have ruled and, since the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, more ceremonially reigned. It is a crucial distinction explaining the staying power of the monarchy as the royal family has evolved and adapted to the needs and opinions of its people, avoiding the storms of rebellion that brought many of Europe’s royals to an abrupt end. Richard II; Henry VIII; Elizabeth I; George III; Victoria; Elizabeth II: their names evoke eras and the dramatic events Borman recounts. She is equally attuned to the fabric of monarchy: royal palaces; the way monarchs have been portrayed in art, on coins, in the media; the ceremony and pageantry surrounding the crown.

Elizabeth II is already one of the longest reigning monarchs in history. Crown & Sceptre is a fitting tribute to her remarkable longevity and that of the magnificent institution she represents.

Borman was born in 1972 in Lincoln and brought up in the village of Scothern. She was educated at Scothern Primary School (now Ellison Boulters Academy), William Farr School, Welton, and Yarborough School (now Lincoln Castle Academy), Lincoln. She studied and taught history at the University of Hull, where she was awarded a PhD in 1997.

Elizabeth's Women was serialised and became a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week in September 2009. Borman appeared on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour, also in September 2009.

In 2013, she was appointed Joint Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces alongside Lucy Worsley.

She and her husband, whom she married at the Tower of London, live in New Malden, south-west London.

October 19, 2022

Can Bittersweet Bring Us Together?

Susan Cain, author of Quiet, brings us her newest book,
Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole.

Her book, Quiet, talks about The Power of Introverts ~In Quiet, Susan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. She charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture. She also introduces us to successful introverts—from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Passionately argued, impeccably researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet has the power to change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.

The new book, Bittersweet, has earned the editor's of Amazon's "Best Books of 2022
So Far". Bittersweetness is a tendency to states of longing, poignancy, and sorrow; an acute awareness of passing time; and a curiously piercing joy at the beauty of the world. It recognizes that light and dark, birth and death—bitter and sweet—are forever paired.

With Quiet, Susan Cain urged our society to cultivate space for the undervalued, indispensable introverts among us, thereby revealing an untapped power hidden in plain sight. Now she employs the same mix of research, storytelling, and memoir to explore why we experience sorrow and longing, and how embracing the bittersweetness at the heart of life is the true path to creativity, connection, and transcendence.
Cain shows how a bittersweet state of mind is the quiet force that helps us transcend our personal and collective pain, whether from a death or breakup, addiction or illness. If we don’t acknowledge our own heartache, she says, we can end up inflicting it on others via abuse, domination, or neglect. But if we realize that all humans know—or will know—loss and suffering, we can turn toward one another. 
At a time of profound discord and personal anxiety, 
Bittersweet brings us together in deep and unexpected ways.

SUSAN CAIN is the author of the bestsellers Quiet Journal, Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts, and Quiet: The Power of Introverts in A World That Can’t Stop Talking, which has been translated into 40 languages, is in its seventh year on the New York Times best seller list, and was named the #1 best book of the year by Fast Company magazine, which also named Cain one of its Most Creative People in Business.

LinkedIn named her the 6th Top Influencer in the world. Susan has partnered with Malcolm Gladwell, Adam Grant and Dan Pink to launch the Next Big Idea Book Club and they donate all their proceeds to children’s literacy programs.

Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. Her record-smashing TED talk has been viewed over 30 million times on and YouTube combined, and was named by Bill Gates one of his all-time favorite talks.

Cain has also spoken at Microsoft, Google, the U.S. Treasury, the S.E.C., Harvard, Yale, West Point and the US Naval Academy. She received Harvard Law School’s Celebration Award for Thought Leadership, the Toastmasters International Golden Gavel Award for Communication and Leadership, and was named one of the world’s top 50 Leadership and Management Experts by Inc. Magazine. She is an honors graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School. She lives in the Hudson River Valley with her husband and two sons.

Visit Cain and Quiet at

October 18, 2022

Olivia Grey Pritchard says, "I've Always Loved a Mutt!"

Olivia Grey Pritchard


I’ve always loved a mutt. They don’t get enough credit for being just as smart, just as cute, and just as loveable as a purebred dog. And they’re just as, if not more, devoted and loyal to their humans, and often less plagued by breed-specific health problems. 

But my favorite part about a mutt? They’re unexpected. These mutts are a genetic mystery (at least until the advent of dog DNA kits). They require you to accept them for what they are, with no expectations. And there’s something really beautiful about that kind of unconditional love. 

There has never been a significant length of time in my life that didn’t have a mixed breed rescue dog in my sphere. Our Border Collie mix named Spike helped me learn to walk when I was a baby. Our hound mix, named Chester, was my calm companion during my teenage angst years. My current St Bernard/German Shepherd mix, Jasper, is my soulmate dog. They were all the inspiration for my first book, MUTTS: A Celebration of Mystery Mixed Breeds. 

My sister actually suggested I make a portrait book of dogs, similar to the albums I create as a portrait photographer in my New Orleans studio for my clients. I did some research into existing coffee table books featuring dogs and discovered there actually isn’t one that is purely devoted to mutts. There are some beautiful breed/mix specific books, and some books of dog portraits that included a few mutts along with mostly purebred canines…but nothing featuring only mixed breeds. So, MUTTS was born! 

I’d never published a book and had no idea where to start. I met with a friend who had published some children’s books, and she put me in touch with her publisher, Susan Schadt Press. Luckily for me, Susan is local, and actually specializes in telling stories through the combination of storytelling and photography: my perfect match! She was so helpful in guiding me through the entire process. I thought the majority of the work for this book would be the photography of 100+ dogs in two months… but that was really maybe 40% of it. Expressing my minimalist vision for this book to the designers (the amazingly gifted Doug Turshen and Steve Turner), fact-checking the information I wrote about each dog, checking printer proofs, choosing and then working with a publicist (the fantastic Ellen at Books Forward PR), all took much more time than I had anticipated. 

We then had to deal with printer setbacks due to a supply chain paper shortage at the time of printing. It made me so very grateful that I have such an amazing publishing team curated by Susan. 

The most difficult part of writing and photographing this book was logistics. The logistics of selecting pups to be photographed, getting them scheduled to come into the studio, calling their humans when we needed more information about them, scheduling my dog handler for each session, double-checking and triple-checking that the correct writing was with the correct dog, buying treats and Clorox wipes in bulk, etc. 

The actual production of the book required the cooperation of literally hundreds of people AND their dogs, not to mention significant effort from local rescues. I am so proud of the work that each person did for every dog to appear in the book: not just me, but also my dog handler, my studio manager, the dog’s owners, and even some dogs’ foster families or rescue volunteers who brought in some pups that were still waiting for their forever families. 

The easiest part of the book was, by far, writing the pithy comments that go with each dog’s portrait. That wasn’t even originally part of the book concept – it evolved as I started sending in material to the book designer.

One or two of those first dogs’ owners told me something funny, or special, about them during their sessions. As the first “batch” of dogs came together, I realized I wanted to include some unique fact about each dog. The trick was not to mar my minimalist vision for the design – so I rewrote the information to be as succinct as possible while still providing a deeper connection to the dog pictured.

Now, aside from the photographs themselves, that’s everyone’s favorite part of the book. I want my readers to feel joy and connection when they read MUTTS. Most of all, I want people to see that mutts have just as many desirable qualities as purebred dogs do, and that you can find literally ANY kind of dog in a local shelter or rescue. Purebred dogs, mutts, small or big dogs, active or lazy dogs, gorgeous or funny-looking dogs… I guarantee there is a dog to fit your lifestyle who needs to be rescued. 

Over 500,000 (half a MILLION!) dogs are killed in the US every year because shelters are overwhelmed, and not enough people are adopting pets. Dogs are a study in letting go of the past and living in the moment. They help us feel joy more often and love more deeply. I promise there is no way someone gets through MUTTS without smiling.

Readers are posting videos of their kids looking through the book and laughing, and I love that it’s as appealing to a 5-year-old as it is to a 90-year-old. The best compliment I’ve gotten so far is from a friend of my mom’s, who ordered 3 copies. She initially said she was going to give them all as gifts because “she’s not a dog person” … but that she loved it so much she was keeping one.


After five years as a United Nations photographer working in combat zones, Olivia Pritchard moved to New Orleans in 2012 and began serving families with her unique perspective of the visual legacy we want to create for our children (with fur and without!). Through her work behind the camera and creating her archival-quality artwork that families cherish for generations, Olivia preserves both the milestone and the everyday memories.

Olivia has owned mutts her whole life—from a border collie mix named Spike that her mom found as a puppy trying to get milk out of a carton and a husky mix named Wylie who met the school bus every afternoon, to the most loyal hound / shepherd mix named Chester who loved to sun himself in a certain spot in the front yard. So it's no surprise that as an adult, she has a 120 pound St. Bernard / retriever / shepherd rescue named Jasper—the most patient, protective, devoted dog ever.

The subject is always the focus of her portraits, and Olivia seeks honesty and authenticity in her art. Find out more about Olivia on her website:

October 17, 2022

Truth In The Word Video~F. D. Adkins


F. D. Adkins releases Book Two

Book Two Video

Truth in the Word

Book One Video

Truth in the Name

For More information about F D. Adkins visit

F. D. Adkins is a Christian fiction author and freelance writer. Through her writing, she hopes to pass along the comfort that comes from having a personal relationship with Jesus while offering her readers a brief escape from the daily struggles of life.

Adkins Christian suspense novel was released in June. Her second in September. In addition, she has another article published in Focus on the Family magazine.

She has been married to the man of her dreams and her best friend for 23 years. She loves spending time with her family, reading, writing, and always enjoys a good cup of coffee. She also has a soft spot in her heart for all animals especially dogs.

She lives in South Carolina with her husband, Steve, their two teenage children, Landon and Layna, and their dog, Lucy.

October 14, 2022

The Woman Beyond the Attic: The V.C. Andrews Story

Andrew Neiderman

Andrew Neiderman reveals this celebration of the woman who took us to the heights of a secluded attic and the depths of our own dark psyches reveals an intimate portrait of the famously private V.C. Andrews—featuring family photos, personal letters, a partial manuscript for an unpublished novel, and more.
Best known for her internationally, multi-million-copy bestselling novel Flowers in the Attic, Cleo Virginia Andrews lived a fascinating life. Born to modest means, she came of age in the American South during the Great Depression and faced a series of increasingly challenging health issues. Yet, once she rose to international literary fame, she prided herself on her intense privacy.

Now, The Woman Beyond the Attic aims to connect her personal life with the public novels for which she was famous. Based on Virginia’s own letters, and interviews with her dearest family members, her long-term ghostwriter Andrew Neiderman tells Virginia’s full story for the first time.

The Woman Beyond the Attic is perfect for V.C. Andrews fans who pick up every new novel or for fans hoping to return to the favorite novelist of their adolescence. Eye-opening and intimate, The Woman Beyond the Attic is for anyone hoping to learn more about the enigmatic woman behind one of the most important novels of the 20th centu

Bio:Andrew Neiderman was born in Brooklyn. His family moved to the Catskills of New York when he was an infant. He is a graduate of State University of Albany where he received his Masters in English. He taught at Fallsburg High School for 23 years before leaving to pursue a career as a novelist and screenwriter. As a teacher, he served as department chairman, faculty president, county teachers association president, director of dramatics and wrestling coach. He has been married for forty-four years to the former Diane Wilson of Fallsburg and they have two children, Melissa, a teacher at the Palm Valley School in Rancho Mirage, California, and Erik, a private commercial jet pilot. The Neidermans have three grandchildren.

Currently Mr. Neiderman is working on the stage musical version of THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE with the Mclean-Williams Management agency in London.

October 13, 2022

Jacques Pépin ~ French Chef, Artist and More. ~ Delightful Recipes and Paintings


Jacques Pépin

Jacques Pépin is a French chef, author, culinary educator, television personality, and artist. Born in 1935 in Bourg-en-Bresse, France, near Lyon, Pépin always found the kitchen to be a place of both comfort and excitement. He helped in his parents' restaurant, Le Pélican, and, at age 13, began an apprenticeship at the Grand Hôtel de L’Europe.

He subsequently worked in Paris, ultimately serving as personal chef to three French heads of state, including Charles de Gaulle. After moving to the United States in 1959, Pépin first worked at Le Pavillon, an historic French restaurant in New York City.

Author of 29 books, he published his first cookbook, “The Other Half of the Egg” with Helen McCully in 1967. He is the recipient of honorary doctorate degrees from five American universities, was awarded France's highest civilian honor, La Légion d’Honneur, in 2004, as well as the Chevalier des Arts et Lettres in 1997 and the Mérite Agricole in 1992.

He has received 16 James Beard Foundation Awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.

In 2015, Pépin received the American Public Television's Lifetime Achievement Award in November and the inaugural Julia Child Award, which was presented to him at The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

A longtime close friend of Julia Child, he starred with her in a PBS series called “Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home,” which won both an Emmy Award and a James Beard Foundation Award in 2001.

For the past 30 years, Pépin has taught in the Culinary Arts Program at Boston University and, since 1989, he has served as dean of special programs at the International Culinary Center in New York City. He has lived in Connecticut since 1975.

Jacques Pépin Art of the Chicken: A Master Chef's Paintings, Stories, and Recipes of the Humble Bird.

From legendary chef Jacques Pepin, a book celebrating his lifelong love of chickens, featuring dozens of his celebrated paintings and more than 50 recipes, along with a treasure trove of poignant and often humorous stories.

Chicken may not be an extravagant ingredient, but for master chef Jacques Pépin, it is the one he turns to most frequently—to cook and to paint. In this beautifully illustrated book, Jacques reminisces on his life through the lens of the humble bird, from his childhood in rural France, where he chased chickens and watched as his maman turned them into her poulet à la crème, to his demanding apprenticeship and long, illustrious career—cooking Chicken Chasseur for Charles de Gaulle and his family, turning down a chance to work as JFK’s White House Chef for a job at Howard Johnson’s, and appearing on television alongside food-world luminaries like Julia Child. Throughout are Jacques’ favorite chicken and egg recipes, conveyed as if he were sharing them over a dinner table. Most significantly, the book displays dozens of Jacques’ stunning paintings of chickens. “If it clucks or scratches, it’s likely that Jacques has painted it.” This unique book is the next best thing to a visit to Jacques’ home, which would include a tour of his art studio, captivating conversation as he cooks, and a toast with a glass of wine over a simple meal of perfect roast chicken.

For more information visit :

October 11, 2022

Knight Owl An Amazon Editor's Pick~ A Children's Book

Christopher Denise

Christopher Denise is an award-winning children's book illustrator and visual development artist. His first book, a retelling of the Russian folktale The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship, was pronounced "a stunning debut" by Publishers Weekly. Since then, Chris has illustrated more than twenty books for children, including Alison McGhee's Firefly Hollow, Rosemary Wells' Following Grandfather, Phyllis Root's Oliver Finds His Way, his wife Anika Denise's Bella and Stella Come Home and some in Brian Jacques' acclaimed Redwall series. His books have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list and have been recognized by Bank Street College of Education, Parents' Choice Foundation, and the Society of Illustrators Annual Exhibition. Christopher Denise lives in Rhode Island with his family.

This book, Knight Owl is about a determined Owl builds strength and confidence in this medieval picture book about the real mettle of a hero: wits, humor, and heart.

Since the day he hatched, Owl dreamed of becoming a real knight. He may not be the biggest or the strongest, but his sharp nocturnal instincts can help protect the castle, especially since many knights have recently gone missing. While holding guard during Knight Night Watch, Owl is faced with the ultimate trial—a frightening intruder. It’s a daunting duel by any measure. But what Owl lacks in size, he makes up for in good ideas.

Full of wordplay and optimism, this surprising display of bravery proves that cleverness (and friendship) can rule over brawn.

Visit Christopher at:

or follow on Instagram!

An Amazon Editor's Favorite:

One of the editors, Seira Wilson Senior Editor at Amazon who specializes in Kid's Books and Lifestyle said, I fell head over heels for this picture book about a little owl who realizes his dream of becoming a knight. . .destined to become a childhood favorite."

October 10, 2022

Meet Ellie Holcomb and Her New Children's Book

Ellie Holcomb

Meet Ellie Holcomb. Not only is she a talented singer/songwriter but now  has added author to those talents. She is writing stories for children.  The book below, Who Sang the First Song? is a precious book to share with children. They hear so many things in the world they live in that is scary. Sharing good books with them takes them by the hand to experience a better place.

Award-winning singer/songwriter and author Ellie Holcomb began her musical career by touring the country with her husband in the Americana band Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors. Her honest voice and rich lyrics shined on her first solo album and deemed her the Best New Artist at the 2014 Dove Awards, followed by the hope-inducing Red Sea Road (2017) album and the critically acclaimed album Canyon (2021). 

In 2018, she created a new generation of little fans with her first children’s book and album: Who Sang the First Song? and Don't Forget to Remember, each with companion children's music. Ellie, her husband, Drew, and their three children live and make music in Nashville, TN

Was it the flowers? The waves or the moon? Dove Award-winning recording artist Ellie Holcomb answers with a lovely lyrical tale, one that reveals that God our Maker sang the first song, and He created us all with a song to sing.

Her newest children's book, is What does joy sound like?

Does it sound like falling snow, or a kiss on your cheek? Award-winning recording artist Ellie Holcomb explores this question through a delightful collection of Christmastime scenes, leading up to the discovery that joy sounds like the angels singing that Jesus had been born.

October 7, 2022

Anything But Plain





Suzanne Woods Fisher

We welcome Carol award winner, Suzanne Woods Fisher who writes stories that take you to places you’ve never visited—one with characters that seem like old friends. But most of all, her books give you something to think about long after you’ve finished reading it. With over 1.5 million copies of her books sold worldwide, Suzanne is the best-selling author of more than thirty books, ranging from non-fiction books, to children’s books, to novels. She lives with her very big family in northern California.

Her newest book is Anything But Plain.

When did you start writing?

I was living in Houston, Texas and was a brand new mom. I learned of a diaper delivery service that was looking for someone to write a monthly newsletter in exchange for diaper service. I grabbed it! I appreciated the free cotton diaper service, but I loved writing the newsletter.

Who were/are two of your favorite authors?

Catherine Marshall is my go-to author—but not for Christy (as good as that novel is). For her non-fiction books: The Helper, Beyond Ourselves, To Live Again.

In what way do you feel they influenced you and in what way?

Those books have been a spiritual guidepost for me, a glowing lantern. Catherine Marshall’s life of faith has both depth and intimacy, and we’re so fortunate that she had shared her inner life in her books. Whenever I sense myself drifting or doubting, I’ll pull out one of her books. The result has always been like stirring coals until the embers spark and flame again.

What point in your writing career do you feel you left the amateur level and went to pro?

Um…well, I still feel like an amateur! Like…every contract is my last one. But here’s something good that comes from that insecurity: I work hard to make each book better than the one before it. Every single book.

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

A good setting is more than a backdrop. It becomes one of the characters of the book. For Amish books, a rural farm setting helps the reader feel transported: It’s full of quiet, with wide open spaces and grazing animals. A horse’s whinny or a gurgling brook remind the reader that she’s in another world, at least until the last page.

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

First, a lot of digging on the internet. Second, reading non-fiction books to provide knowledge about a topic. Third, get on a plane. It makes such a difference to travel to a site, to soak it up, to pay attention to the smallest details that can bring a story to life. Here’s a small example: on one of my first trips to Amish country, I noticed how large women’s hands were. Strong hands. Working hands. While researching the Three Sisters Island series in Maine, I overheard a local woman say that she could “feel” the ferry approaching, like it was part of her. There’s just so many on-the-ground details an author can glean through original sourcing. In fact, other than a global pandemic, there’s just no excuse for an author to not make the effort to get to the setting of their book.

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

Anything but Plain is a story about a young Amish woman with ADHD—she’s a square peg in a round hole. She’s so frustrated with her life that she’s convinced leaving the Amish and her family is her only option—until someone steps in to help her.

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

Strategies to overcome distractions. Painlessly delivered through a wonderfully captivating story!

What's the best writing advice you've received so far?

Long ago, I read a newspaper article about a woman on her one hundredth birthday. The reporter asked why she thought she had lived so long. The woman said, “Because I want to see what happens next.”

That’s exactly what writing a book should be like! The reader should be eager to know what will happen in the next page, the next chapter, the next book in the series.

What's the worst?

To read your customer reviews. Don’t do it!

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

Character development comes naturally. Closing scenes takes a lot of effort, especially closing a chapter. Remember, you want the reader to think: “What happens next?”

What is your writing schedule?

Early in the morning. I have a wordcount each day that I hit, rain or shine.

What do you do if you get stumped?

I write through it. I’m not a believer in writer’s block. My daily wordcount might not always be sterling work, but it moves things forward. It keeps my head in the story.

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

Writing requires so much time alone. I have to say no to many other things—activities I’d like to participate in, even friendships I’d like to deepen—because that writing time needs to be protected.

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

Interesting question! I think it chose me. My grandfather was raised Plain. Lots of family history there.

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

Building up my newsletter subscribers. It’s quite robust. They’re dedicated and loyal, and have been so good to me. 

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

I work hard to take care of my subscribers—they’re the first to receive news and updates, plus they get early access to special giveaways or contests. As for gaining new contacts, I sign up regularly for Ryan Zee Booksweeps, and would recommend the contests for authors who are building their subscriber list and/or BookBub followers.

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

I post regularly, but not daily. Lately, I’ve been posting on Instagram and share it on FB/Twitter. The problem is I forget to check Facebook comments! I’m working on that.

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

Hangeth thou in there!