Friday, November 27, 2015

North Carolina Author Susan Rush

Welcome back to the Book Loft, Susan. Is there a story behind your book Renew-7 Days to a More Positive Outlook?

There certainly is. Many hospice patients have shaped my life, and I wanted to share their stories. Believe me, it’s not sad or depressing. Their stories are inspirational. They have taught me to live more freely and lightly while savoring the gift of life.

What distracts you from writing the easiest?

Pinterest!  And the dust bunnies calling my name from the corners of my house.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?

Historical Christian Romance. I’m a huge Angela Hunt fan. Her Keeper of the Ring series is my all-time favorite. I just finished Eve by William Paul Young and couldn’t put it down. It challenged my beliefs, but in a good, healthy way.

What do you like most about the area where you live and/or grew up?

 Oh my goodness, Charlotte, North Carolina is the most perfect place on earth. And I’m completely unbiased. The beach is three hours to the east. The mountains are two hours to the west, and the city itself is incredible. The foliage in the fall is beautiful. Only one to two snows in the winter, and they melt as fast as they come, and the summers? Hot and green—just the way I like them.

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?

Does dieting count? If so, then that’s most definitely it. Diets always start tomorrow.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about? 

I love writing about passing from this flawed life to our eternally perfect life. Once we understand the brevity of our days here and change our perspective to focus on eternity, the sting is taken out of dying and death. Well, maybe not completely. Of course, we ache to see our loved ones and saying good-bye can be gut wrenching, but we don’t grieve as those without hope. I just wish we could see what the dying see in their last minutes. I don’t think we would be begging them to fight to hang on. We would be cheering them on like a labor coach as their spirit is birthed into heaven.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

I don’t have a release date yet, but I’m working on Sunlit Shadows which is written from parallel perspectives of people dying in a hospice house and those who are on the other side cheering them on, visiting them from heaven and finally ushering them into their forever.

Thanks for sharing today!

Connect with Susan Rush at:

Susan Rush is giving away a copy of Renew. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice—once on each Spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Renew-7 Days to a More Positive Outlook by Susan Rush

Do you crave a gentle contentment that doesn’t shift with the changing tide of life hurt?  

Wouldn’t it be great to navigate this tangled journey with peace in spite of suffering? 

For over twenty years, Susan Rush has walked alongside the dying and grieving. In Renew, she shares stories of her most inspirational patients—heroes who embraced life until their final breath. Every chapter begins with a hospice story followed by a reflection. She includes a verse for meditation, thought-provoking questions and finally a prayer. Susan weaves a life lesson into each daily reading with compassion, humor and transparency—unashamed to reveal her own failures. You will laugh as much as you cry and end each chapter feeling challenged and encouraged. Whether you just need a little pick-me-up or a whole new perspective, Renew will inspire you to appreciate each day as you live with more purpose and passion.


Rain pelts down on this dreary Monday morning at hospice. I really don't like my job. Morbid. Depressing. I'm kind of over it, but I have to press on. I really do need a paycheck. I've recently lost a non-profit business, and I'm in debt up to my tear-filled eyeballs.
         Looking around the conference table, I see Joe whose son is back in rehab. There's Mary, who just found out she's not pregnant—again the fertility drugs failed. Beth, newly divorced, is recounting her weekend of on-call. “Pain issues. . . Mentally ill caregiver . . . Patient fell. . .” She drones on and on. I only hear snippets as I continue to survey the faces around the table—hurting people trying to help hurting people.
 I glance at my schedule. Overwhelmed. Yep, it's 8:15, and I'm already overwhelmed. Ten-year-old with leukemia, twenty-one-year-old with AIDS, fifty-three-year-old with breast cancer. I close my eyes, and I see an image of The Scream. It captures my feelings perfectly. Would the hospice team think I’m losing it if I hang a print of the famous art above my desk?
Well, there’s no escaping my day so I think I’ll make a quick visit to Pastor T. Hopefully he can provide at least a little encouragement before I trudge through this muck I call a career.
         As I walk in, I hear him on the phone, “She needs help to post her bond, and I don’t want her to be in jail another night.” He looks up and winks, motioning me to come in and sit. “Is someone going to the hospital to see Tom? I have a few other needs on my list, but I’ll have to call you back. My friend is here to visit.”
         Did he just call me a friend? I'm honored.
         The crinkles around his eyes deepen as his smile reveals aged, slightly crooked teeth. It’s the warmest face within a thousand miles. “It's so good to see you, Susan.” His outstretched arms welcome a much-needed hug. As I nestle against his chest, I enjoy his smell of Old Spice and peppermint. He pats my back in his paternal way and releases me. I want to latch on to my rock—stay in the comfort of his embrace—but I step away, and he sits in his worn chair. “My dear, tell me how I can help you today?”
         I feel like collapsing in a heap of blubbering madness. Instead, I command my back to stay straight as I sit on the stool in front of him. “I just came for a quick visit. Tell me how you've been.” Good. My voice is steady—no signs of a crazed woman here.
         A grin tugs at his withered lips. “It may be pouring outside, but it's right as rain in here.” He checks his pocket watch that looks even more ancient than he. “I have about twenty minutes before I need to start the Bible study.” He chuckles. “Thirty people are coming now.” His smile fades as his brow furrows. He cocks his head to one side, studying me. “You look a bit disheveled today. Tell me how you really are.”
         I look out the window at the weeping sky, and I clinch my teeth to keep my chin from quivering. My emotions always find their way to the surface, and I fear my face is betraying my inner wrestling. Great. Now the tears are building. Suck it up, Susan. “Fake it til you make it.” Isn’t that what Dr. Phil says?
         “I said tell me how you really are.” He clears his throat for emphasis.
         “I don’t think I can do this anymore.”  I can’t control the loud exhale that follows my confession. There. I did it. After months of stuffing it, I freed the captive words.
         “You don’t think you can?” His tone is slightly accusatory and this infuriates me. “What exactly can’t you do?” He temples his index fingers under his chin as he raises one brow.

         I’ve played this game with him before. He won’t speak again until I answer. “Being around dying and grieving people all day.” The words hang in the air—mean, insensitive words. Oh, how I wish I could take them back. If only I had a rewind button. I sound so selfish, so worthless.

About the Author

I wish I could say God whispered He wanted me to work with the dying, and I humbly and gratefully obeyed. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Mother Teresa, I am not. He led me to a career in hospice, but I ran in the opposite direction. Dying people scared me. And dead bodies? They terrified me. Plus, I'm a weeper. It's not a complete day if I haven't cried at least once--not a good fit for hospice care. 

Against all reason, God had his way. Imagine that. I followed the rocky path, but I went kicking and screaming the whole way with plenty of meltdowns along the way. You can read about some of them in Renew. Please don't judge me too harshly, I'm a work in progress. Surprisingly, twenty-plus years into it, I'm passionate about end-of-life care. I'm as comfortable talking with the dying as with my children. And that's nothing but a miracle! Dozens of heroes have taught me invaluable lessons, and they fill the pages of my books. My hospice heroes never cease so amaze me, and I am eternally grateful my path crossed with theirs.

Purchase Renew at: 

Susan Rush is giving away a copy of Renew. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice—once on each Spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

More Book Winners

Once again, we offer you a warm welcome to the Bookshelf of the Barn Door Book Loft.

And before we announce our winners we’d like to offer a special thanks to these Christian authors who offered a sample of their writing to our faithful readers:

Cherie Burbach who offered her Non-fiction, Relationships Book  100 Simple Ways to Have More Friends
Tina Pinson who offered her Historical Women’s Fiction  Betrayed
Carol Lozier who offered her Children’s Bible Study  Clothed In Armor: Spiritual Warfare for Kids
And Deanna Nowadnick who offered her Inspirational Memoir  Signs in Life: Finding Direction in Our Travels with God.
And now: We're pleased to announce this week’s winners:
Denise S. has won Cherie Burbach’s Non-fiction, Relationships Book  100 Simple Ways to Have More Friends
Sheila Hall has won Tina Pinson’s Historical Women’s Fiction  Betrayed
Connie PS has won Carol Lozier’s Children’s Bible Study  Clothed In Armor: Spiritual Warfare for Kids
And Kim Amundsen has won Deanna Nowadnick’s Inspirational Memoir  Signs in Life: Finding Direction in Our Travels with God.

Congratulations Winners! Remember, it's your responsibility to contact me  sharonalavy {at} gmail {dot} com) with your address so the author can send you a book. 

Be sure to check past winners posts. Subscribing by email will ensure you don't miss seeing the winners list.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Warm Welcome to Amy C. Blake

Welcome, fellow author! Good to have you here today! Your book sounds really interesting. Tell us, is there a story behind The Trojan Horse Traitor? 
I'm a homeschooling mother of four. Over the years, I've noticed a lack of novels about homeschoolers, which I found frustrating because homeschoolers, like other kids, are intriguing people with characters worth exploring and heroic traits worth discovering. So I decided to feature homeschooled main characters in my novels, in part so homeschooled kids could have protagonists they identify with, in part so other readers will see that homeschoolers are well-rounded, interesting people too.

What is unique about the setting? How does it enhance the story?
The Trojan Horse Traitor is set on Castle Island in the middle of Lake Superior, hours from any other land. It's also the location for Camp Classic, a summer camp for classically educated kids. While Lake Superior is beautiful with its vast blue-green water, it is also cold even in summer and can be dangerous, especially during storms. Terracaelum, my fantasy world suspended above the lake that connects at the castle to Castle Island's northernmost cliff, is home to mythical creatures whom its rulers must protect. Sometimes Terracaelum is visible as an extension of Castle Island; sometimes it disappears altogether. The isolation of Lake Superior allows Terracaelum to remain hidden from outsiders. It also provides some of the suspense factor for Levi, a thirteen-year-old homeschooled kid who has never been away from home beyond a week-long stay at his grandparents' house.

Intriguing! Who is the most fun character you ever created? Who is the most annoying character you ever created? 
I'd have to say the answer to both of these questions is Bertha Jean Toller, the obnoxious, 70s-obsessed office manager in my Christian suspense novel, Whitewashed. Bertha Jean wears clothes a woman her age (and size) shouldn't wear and douses herself in way too much perfume. She subjects her student workers to Barry Manilow and Carly Simon music, puce poufs and lava lamps, and burning incense. I must confess, while Bertha Jean was fun to create, I definitely wouldn't want to be around her in real life.

How do you find the time to write? 
As a homeschool mom, I get this question a lot. The answer is that I've taught my kids to do as much of their school work on their own as they can. Also, I take my laptop with me to their various lessons, activities, and practices, so I can work while I wait.

Do you type or write by hand? Computer? Typewriter? Legal pad? Any special reason for choosing to write this way? 
Computer mostly, though I jot notes in various places…in notebooks or on napkins, envelopes, and receipts. Usually, though, I can barely read my own handwriting. That's why I write on the computer.

Do you ever go back to an old idea long after you abandoned it? 
I do. In fact, earlier this year I dusted off an early writing attempt about a young seminary student and his fiancée whose Christmas of wedding planning with his folks is destroyed by his parents' untimely deaths in an accident. I'd labeled the book a Christian romance, but as I've worked on expanding the plot, fleshing out some rather flat characters, and fixing an embarrassing number of writing errors, the book is turning into a Women's Fiction tentatively titled Gabriel's Gift, a story of God's grace to his children in the midst of suffering. I hope to complete it in the next few months.

How many writing projects are you working on right now? 
Besides promoting The Trojan Horse Traitor, I just finished a draft of The Fey's Apprentice (the third book in the Levi Prince YA fantasy series). I've also done some work recently on my Women's Fiction, Gabriel's Gift. My top priority for the next few weeks is working on edits for my upcoming release, Colorblind (the second book in my On the Brink suspense series).

You are busy! What character that you’ve created most resembles you? 
Patience McDonough, the main character of my Christian suspense, Whitewashed, that released in February, 2015, is (for good and for ill) most like me. While Patience has plenty of good traits, like loyalty and compassion, she also tends to be impatient and quicker to jump to conclusions than she ought to be. Though I'm working on my flaws, I have some of the same tendencies.

Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write your first draft? 
Yes. I can't stand misspellings and grammatical errors, so a first draft takes longer than it probably needs to because of my pickiness.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
My next release is Colorblind, the second book in my On the Brink suspense series. It's due out with Mantle Rock Publishing on February 1, 2016. Here's the blurb about Colorblind:

Eighteen-year-old homeschooler Christy Kane has always been her daddy’s princess, and her dream has long been to use her musical talents as children’s music leader for his nationally known mega-church. Her first day on the job as music intern, the media shatter her world with news of her daddy’s affair with the church preschool director. Christy feels like God betrayed her as surely as her daddy did.
When her mom sends her to Buckeye Lake, Ohio, to help Aunt Jo, a relative Christy didn’t know existed, with her School of Music and Dance, Christy’s problems only increase. She’s expected to spend every day in the rebuilt Pier Ball Room, which sits on Buckeye Lake itself, and Christy is terrified of water. In addition, she and a handful of semi-talented volunteers who have underlying antagonisms she doesn’t understand are expected to prepare a professional-quality performance for the Grand Reopening of the Pier Ball Room on August 7th, with the added pressure of knowing Aunt Jo will lose the ball room if they fail.

Christy finds a diary written by Lillian, a girl who lived in Buckeye Lake ninety years earlier. Christy is intrigued by Lillian’s world in 1920s Buckeye Lake, when thousands came to play at the amusement parks and dance in the ball rooms. But soon Christy’s interest turns to concern as events from Lillian’s diary happen in Christy’s world, ninety years to the day after they occurred the first time.

Between her shattered family, her uncertain future, and her bizarre present, Christy doesn’t know where to turn. Will God rescue her?

Buy the book here:

About Amy:
Award-winning author Amy C. Blake is a pastor's wife and homeschooling mother of four. She has an M.A. in English from Mississippi College and has written articles, devotionals, and short stories for a number of publications. She'd love for you to visit her website at for tips on homeschooling, advice for the rookie pastor's wife, and helps for the Christian life. You can also find more information on her website about her novels--WhitewashedColorblind, and The Trojan Horse Traitor

Connect with Amy here:

AMY is giving away a copy of THE TROJAN HORSE. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Happy Reading!
Caroline Brown

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Trojan Horse by Amy C. Blake

Back Cover Blurb

Left on Castle Island to attend Camp Classic, thirteen-year-old, scrawny, redheaded, homeschooler Levi Prince finds himself at the center of an enchanted world of amazing abilities, cloudy motives, and wicked beings that will challenge his very spirit. He begins to form friendships, but life at camp becomes more confusing as questionable activities and uncertain agendas bring about conflict that tests his character in ways he never expected. Finally, faced with a friend's betrayal, Levi is forced to confront true evil. Will he find the courage to stand his ground, and to become the hero he was always meant to be?

Read an Excerpt:

Levi Prince reached the top of the sandstone steps and read the canvas sign thrashing in the wind like it desperately wanted to escape: WELCOME TO CAMP CLASSIC: YOUR SUMMER-LONG IMMERSION INTO THE CLASSICAL WORLD. Another gust of wind nearly ripped the jacket from his back. Two seagulls dive-bombed him, making Levi duck and cover.

Somehow not feeling all that welcome, Levi glanced back down the steps to the beach and the endless blue-green water stretching as far as he could see. As he watched, the waves churned higher, pummeling the red-and-white ferry he, his family, and a bunch of other campers and their families had exited not fifteen minutes earlier.

Castle Island, the tiny, castle-free (as far as he could tell) speck in the middle of vast Lake Superior, was a full three hours from the mainland. And it would be his home for the summer. His nerves prickled, half in dread of the unknown, half in anticipation of a summer spent miles and miles away from his younger sister and brothers.

Most of the time he liked homeschooling, especially when he finished his work early and got to do whatever he wanted all afternoon. Or when his friends at church told him about their hour-long bus rides to and from school and the horrors of their school uniforms. His uniform alternated between pajamas and sweats, depending on his mood.

Yeah, homeschooling was good. Except that it meant he never got a break from Abby, Zeke, and Jer.

And boy did he ever need a break. He tightened his grip on his Camp Classic invitation, the one that came in the mail back in March. His ticket to a sibling-free summer. It had taken him most of the next six weeks to convince his parents to let him go. He’d been offended they didn’t think he could handle himself for a couple of months without them.

Now, though, the isolation of this place made him wonder what he’d gotten himself into. It didn’t help that a purple-black mass seeped across the morning sky like a bruise, and the ferry bucked hard against its tie ropes. The whole setting made the hair rise on the back of his neck.

He adjusted the collar of his jacket, along with his outlook. So it was going to rain. No big deal. He wouldn’t bail now. He needed this summer on his own.

Levi turned away from the view and toward the path between live oaks and pines he’d seen the others take earlier. He’d taken his time trudging across the sand, hoping to separate himself from his siblings. Between Abby’s nonstop pouting because she couldn’t stay at Camp Classic with Levi, and Zeke and Jer running in circles like monkeys on Mountain Dew, well . . . he kind of hoped if he kept his distance, the other campers wouldn’t know they were related to him.

Levi had only gone a few feet along the path when he heard running footsteps from behind and somebody rammed a bony shoulder into his arm. He whirled around to face a kid who oozed disdain all the way from his perfect black hair to his brand new Nikes. Levi couldn’t help but run a hand over his own hair—so red it was almost orange, and kinked into a thousand ringlets despite the super-short cut he’d gotten only two days earlier.

“Watch where you’re going, runt,” the other kid said with a sneer.

“Excuse me?” Yeah, Levi was scrawny, but this guy wasn’t exactly the Hulk.

The kid snatched the invitation from Levi’s hand.

Buy the book here:

About Amy:
Award-winning author Amy C. Blake is a pastor's wife and homeschooling mother of four. She has an M.A. in English from Mississippi College and has written articles, devotionals, and short stories for a number of publications. She'd love for you to visit her website at for tips on homeschooling, advice for the rookie pastor's wife, and helps for the Christian life. You can also find more information on her website about her novels--Whitewashed, Colorblind, and The Trojan Horse Traitor

Connect with Amy here:

AMY is giving away a copy of THE TROJAN HORSE. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Happy Reading!
Caroline Brown

Sunday, November 22, 2015

New York Author Marianne Sciucco

Welcome to the Barn Door Book Loft, Marianne. I really enjoyed reading your book Blue Hydrangeas. What made you decide to write it? Is there a story behind your book Blue Hydrangeas?

One day at work as a hospital case manager, I met a fascinating couple who were in their 80’s. She was a lovely woman, so pretty, and had Alzheimer’s. I’d ask her a question and she’d try to answer, but then say, “Oh, I’m so mixed up,” and laugh, quite charming. Her husband was frail, an amiable sort of guy, and devoted to her. My job was to assist with the discharge plan, which was for her to go to a local nursing home for rehab (she’d broken her pelvis) the next day. I discussed the arrangements with her and her husband. Their son was also present, and he told me to make sure his parents didn’t leave the hospital without him; he planned to drive them to the nursing home and assist with the admissions process.
Later on, I couldn’t stop thinking about that couple, wondering what would happen if they left the hospital without their son. Where would they go? What would they do? Thus, the seeds of Blue Hydrangeas were sown, my wild writer’s imagination took off, and the story began to grow.

Question: Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote? Why?

I love Jack. He’s the man I think every woman wishes she’d married. Loyal, considerate, loving, a stalwart member of the Greatest Generation, selfless and devoted. A dying breed.

Question: What started you on your writing journey?

I've always written, and dreamed of becoming a professional writer as a child, when I would staple together pieces of notepaper and write stories. My goal in high school was to become a journalist, and in college (UMass Boston) I worked on the student newspaper, eventually becoming editor-in-chief. After graduation, my attempts to find work as a reporter failed, so I eventually went into nursing to avoid poverty. I put away my typewriter and stifled my wild mind, which constantly fed me ideas for stories and articles I had no time to write. Years later a manager at the hospital I worked for started a newsletter for the nursing department. I volunteered my services and soon took over the whole project. This got me started writing articles for publication and soon I embarked on my first novel. I guess I've come full circle.

Question: What distracts you from writing the easiest?

My repetitive strain injuries. Unfortunately, typing causes me great pain, has since 2006, and curtails a lot of my activities. I told this story here. If you’re a writer, take any pain in your hand, wrists, arms, shoulders and neck very seriously. (Here’s the link if needed:)

Question: What kind of books do you enjoy reading? 

Personal stories that are well done. I need to plug my #AlzAuthors friends here, all who have written excellent books on Alzheimer’s: Jean Lee, Alzheimer’s Daughter; Greg O’Brien, On Pluto – Inside the Mind of Alzheimer’s; Vicki Tapia, Somebody Stole My Iron – A Family Memoir of Dementia; and Shannon Wiersbitzky, What Flowers Remember. All of these books are great voices in the field of Alzheimer’s and dementia and shed light on what those living with it endure. You can learn about these books here. (Here’s the link if needed:)

Question: What is your favorite season of the year? 

Summer, and most of my stories take place during summer, or part of it. I love the sunshine, heat, even the humidity doesn’t bother me. I love to go to the beach and swim in the ocean. I love wearing shirts, sleeveless tops, and sandals. The storms are beautiful, and so is the lush and colorful beauty of the landscape. I wish summer lasted six months out of the year. I could do without winter.

Question: What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

In 1983, while in college, I went to a U2 concert at Brown University and jumped on stage to dance with The Edge, the guitarist. I stayed up there for a couple of songs, hidden by this huge amplifier, but he knew I was there and smiled at me. They are my number one band.
Question: What is a favorite memory from your childhood?
My dad, a cabinetmaker, was a book lover and filled our home with books. We had a beautiful bookcase in our living room, built right into the wall, and he stocked it with all kinds of books, most of which I was too young to read. He made up for it by bringing me to the library every week and letting me check out as many books as they’d allow. This inspired me at an early age to someday write my own book.

Question: Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?

Housework. It’s never done

Me too! giggle.
Question: Where is your favorite place to travel/vacation in?

The seashore.  I love to take my Jeep out on the beach and spend a lot of time on Cape Cod and Assateague Island National Shore. I’ve written of both of these places in my stories. I also love Florida, Bermuda and St. Thomas.

Question: When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

My current work-in-progress is Swim Season, the story of high school swim champion Aerin Keane, who is determined to leave her troubles behind as she starts twelfth grade in her third high school. Senior year is supposed to be fun, right? Friends. Parties. Boys. Ready to give up her dreams of a college swimming scholarship and a shot at the Olympics, Aerin decides she doesn't want to win anymore, she wants to swim for fun, it's her "therapy." But when her desire to be just one of the girls on the team collides with her desire to be the best this school has ever seen, will Aerin sacrifice her new friendships to challenge a long-standing school record attached to a $50,000 scholarship? Here’s a preview. I hope to publish in spring 2016. (Link to preview:)

Question: Are you working on any other exciting projects right now?

I’m so glad you asked! Throughout the month of November I’m collaborating with the four other authors of Alzheimer’s books mentioned above in #AlzAuthors – Ending the Isolation of Alzheimer’s. Our mission is to promote National Memory Screening Week (Nov. 1-7), National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, and National Caregivers Appreciation Month. We are sharing stories and information on all of these topics on our Facebook page and on Twitter, follow #AlzAuthors. We are also running a giveaway of a collection of all five books to one lucky winner. This would make a great Christmas gift or a perfect addition to a library (public, school, skilled nursing facility, home care agency, etc.)  Please take a moment to enter. It’s easy.

Thanks again for joining us Marianne, and please come back and visit us when your next book is released.

Readers, you may purchase the book at:
Or have your local library order it in for you!    

Marianne Sciucco is giving away a copy of Blue-Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer's love story. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.
To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on the past few posts)

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Marianne Suicco's Novel Blue Hydrangeas

Back Cover Blurb:

What if the person who knew you best and loved you most forgot your face, and couldn't remember your name? A care facility is everyone's solution for what to do about Sara, but her husband, Jack, can't bear to live without her. He is committed to saving his marriage, his wife, and their life together from the devastation of Alzheimer’s disease. He and Sara retired years ago to the house of their dreams, and operated it as a Cape Cod bed and breakfast named Blue Hydrangeas. Jack has made an impossible promise: He and Sara will stay together in their beautiful home no matter what the disease brings. However, after nine years of selfless caregiving, complicated by her progressing Alzheimer’s and his own failing heart, he finally admits he can no longer care for her at home. With reluctance, he arranges to admit her to an assisted living facility. But, on the day of admission, Sara is having one of her few good days, and he is unable to follow through. Instead, he takes them on an impulsive journey to confront their past and reclaim their future. In the end, he realizes that staying together at any cost is what truly matters.

Book Excerpt:

          A chilly draft greeted him as he entered the kitchen and saw the sliding door to the deck was unlatched. Is Sara outdoors in this wretched rain? he thought. Has she gone for a walk? She never takes her walk until after her first cup of coffee. He noted the automatic coffeepot, silent on the kitchen counter, too early to brew. He ignored the rising panic in his gut and dressed for the weather, grabbing his jacket and putting on shoes before heading out the back door.
          Jack circled the house, shouting her name. He didn’t find her in the cutting garden or in the back yard. He worked his way down the driveway, feeling foolish for panicking. She’d probably decided to take her walk before breakfast. Still, a troublesome thought in the back of his mind suggested this was not the case.
          Sara had several routes to walk throughout the development. She used the established walking paths, but also traveled along the main streets, admiring her neighbor’s homes and gardens and stopping to chat with anyone she passed.
          Jack took off along this route. He walked quickly and saw no one. With each step he tried to convince himself he worried for nothing, praying at any moment he’d turn a corner and see her coming toward him, a smile on her face, eager to tell him about a bird she’d observed or a new planting in someone’s yard. He didn’t see her.
          As he approached the path to Falmouthport Beach, he paused, ready to turn back because Sara avoided the beach, complaining it was too breezy, especially when it was raining. Walking on sand was a struggle and she feared losing her balance. She preferred to stay on the road where the ground was level.
          However, at the last moment something urged him to head for the shore. He quickly made his way there, the wind pushing against him. The tide was rolling in and the sound of crashing waves drowned out everything else. The beach was deserted. He shielded his eyes with his hands and searched the coastline.
          She stood at the edge of the surf, her thick, white hair loose and flowing in the wind, whipping about her face, her legs splayed, her arms held out for balance. The open ocean rolled and churned toward her, making her seem small and frail. He raced toward her, screaming her name. She turned at his voice and stumbled, falling into the water, landing on her hands and knees.
          He plunged into the water and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her to her feet. “My God, Sara, what are you doing out here?” he asked, breathless from his efforts. He rubbed her arms in a desperate attempt to make her warm.
          “I don’t know,” she cried. “I’m all mixed up.”
          The frigid water soaked through his shoes and socks. She shivered against him, her thin, flannel nightgown plastered against her body. He covered her with his jacket and led her away from the water. They labored across the beach to the path that led home.
          He draped an arm over her shoulders and they stumbled back to the house. It seemed to take forever. Sara shivered uncontrollably, short of breath, her chest heaving. Jack struggled with every step, winded by the exertion of holding her up and propelling her forward. The rain continued to pelt them, but it had subsided a bit and they were able to maneuver through it with little difficulty.
          They finally arrived home. He guided her through the front door and into the family room where he removed her wet nightgown, covered her with a blanket, and led her to the couch, easing her onto the soft cushions.
          She cried, making little gasping sounds and repeating, “I’m so mixed up,” in a pitiful voice that chilled him to his core.
          He made coffee, brought her a cup, and held it to her lips. She sipped carefully and flopped back against the couch, her blue eyes shiny with tears.

          “Oh, Jack,” she moaned. “What’s happening to me?”

Book Trailer:

Author Bio:

Marianne Sciucco is not a nurse who writes but a writer who happens to be a nurse. A lover of words and books, she dreamed of becoming an author when she grew up but became a nurse to avoid poverty. She later brought her two passions together and writes about the intricate lives of people struggling with health and family issues. Her debut novel "Blue Hydrangeas," an Alzheimer’s love story, is a Kindle bestseller, IndieReader Approved, a BookWorks featured book, a Library Journal Self-e Selection, a 5-star Readers Favorite, and winner of IndieReCon’s Best Indie Novel Award, 2014.  She also has two short stories available on Kindle, "Ino's Love" and "Collection."  Marianne is currently working on a YA novel, "Swim Season," about the new girl on the team who challenges a longstanding school record, to be released in 2015.  A dedicated Swim Mom for ten years, you can find her during swim season at one of many Skyline Conference swim meets cheering for her daughter and her team. A native Bostonian, Marianne lives in New York’s Hudson Valley, and when not writing works as a campus nurse at a community college. She loves books, the beach, and craft beer, and especially enjoys the three of them together.

Readers, you may purchase the book at:
Or have your local library order it in for you!    

Marianne Sciucco is giving away a copy of Blue-Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer's love story. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.
To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on the past few posts)


Friday, November 20, 2015

Starfish Street by June Bliss

     Most new college graduates are trying to figure out what they are going to do with their lives. That is just the case with Magnolia who goes by Maggie. She is a cynical, art graduate who has become bogged down with her life circumstances. She finds herself at home with her fragile, single mother when she receives a call from her great-aunt Lorraine.

     Lorraine offers Maggie a summer job watching over her cottages in Cannon Beach, Oregon. Maggie accepts and her experience at the beach changes her life entirely. Maggie’s particular affections for the magnificence of creation and the kind people at the beach lead her to a new life guided by faith.

Book Excerpt

The morning after graduating from art school Maggie sleeps for hours and hours until she cannot sleep anymore. After squirming around in bed for a while, she lets her head drop off the side of her four-poster bed so that she is surveying the landscape of her bedroom upside down. Her long, light brown wavy hair falls off the side of the bed, dangling piece by piece. She looks around at the mostly dark paintings and posters she has on her walls and then stares at her cap and gown crumpled up in a pile on the floor next to her black combat boots. She wonders what good an art degree will do and how she will make a living.
The piercing voice of Maggie’s mother interrupts her thoughts and breaks the silence. She yells, “Maggie!” Maggie is startled, jerks her head and ends up bumping it against the wooden frame of the bed. “Get out of bed already. It’s ten thirty and I’m up. You must be feeling better than I do. Get your lazy self out of bed!”
Maggie is still hanging upside down, grimaces, rubs her bumped head and sarcastically responds only in a low voice to herself, “Oh the joyous sound of my mom’s sweet, melodic voice in the morning.” Maggie stretches her arms out too far, loses her balance and falls out of bed. “Ugh…figures. What’s her problem on this first day of the rest of my life?”
Maggie walks down the dim hallway to report to duty, only to find her fragile mother Carol in the kitchen sifting through junk in a cabinet, looking for pills. Maggie leans up against the wall between the hallway and the kitchen. Carol’s morning greeting consists of, “Well it’s about time. Have you seen those pain killers I put in here?”
Maggie responds, “No. Why would I have anything to do with your stupid drugs?”
Carol is frazzled, which is her common state ever since she developed a dependency upon prescription medications. She takes her focus off of the cabinet and looks directly at Maggie.
“You’re not taking drugs are you?”
“No, Mom, you are.” Maggie grimaces back at her mother finding it unbelievable that she is being asked this question.
“Well, I don’t know what you are talking about. The doctor gives me medicine.”
Maggie turns away and only comments under her breath, “Yeah I know.”
Carol returns to digging through the cabinet and suddenly shoves all of the bottles making them topple over, bounce off the counter and fall to the ground in a loud ruckus. She leans over on the counter with her hands running through her dark hair and moaning. Maggie turns around abruptly at the crashing noise, but offers no consolation. She can only look upon her mother with disappointment. She rubs her eyes and starts to return to bed when Carol’s phone rings. Carol miraculously perks up and hurries to her phone to answer.
Much to Carol’s surprise a peppy Aunt Lorraine is calling and asking how she is. Carol responds, “Oh, better than some, worse than others.”
“I hope there are less worse ones. May I speak to Maggie?”
“Oh, okay, she’s right here. Maggie, it’s for you.”
Maggie takes the phone wondering who is calling her on her mom’s phone, but she quickly recognizes the voice. Her great-aunt Lorraine cheerfully offers congratulations, “Congratulations on your graduation!”
“Besides wishing you congratulations I just had one of my brilliant ideas, so I had to call you right away.”
“And what idea is that?”

“I want you to come to Cannon Beach and watch over the cottages for the month of June.”

About June

June Bliss had a song in her heart and a love for big productions from the very beginning. Since every song and every production needs a good story, writing became an obvious career choice for her. Bliss originally worked full time at Nickelodeon and then transitioned into freelance video production and writing. She is a graduate of Biola University and completed a program at The Los Angeles Film Studies Center. She hopes to continue telling stories in various mediums. Bliss resides in New Mexico with her husband, Ben, and her faithful writing companion, Sasha the chow chow.

To purchase June's book:

June is giving away a copy of Starfish Street. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.

To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice -- once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post.)

Off to read another great book!
Sandra M. Hart

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