The Writer’s Reading Corner: John Vance #historicalfiction #comingofage #amreading

It’s been one busy week, but Friday is finally here!  If you’re a regular at this blog, you’ll remember I likened my January visit to Disney World to the Seventh Circle of Hell.  John Vance is here to share his review of Fools in the Magic Kingdom, a satirical take on Disney World (sounds like something I could get behind), and to tell us about his newest release, Tick Cooper.

Recently, I’ve been fortunate to read wonderful indie novels by Tracy Ball, Kristen Jackson, and John Hazen, all of whom I highly recommend.  Most recently, however, I finished a splendid indie satire, Fools in the Magic Kingdom by Michael Hartnett.  As a Disney aficionado I couldn’t resist grabbing this one—and I absolutely loved it.  First, Hartnett has a refreshing and impressive cleverness with language–shaping his phrases and dialogue with a particularly deft hand.  Sections are utterly hilarious as we follow his characters through the Magic Kingdom and the World Showcase in Epcot. But unlike the lines at Disney World, everything flows at a brisk pace through the novel’s pages. In addition, Hartnett’s characters are as whimsical as Peter Pan, disturbing as Maleficent, amusing as Smee, sassy as Sebastian, unstable as Tinker Bell, intelligent as Mulan, violent as Scar, and illusive as Jack Sparrow. Readers who enjoy off-kilter characters who shake us up and push us around will delight in this book.

But it would be wrong to judge this novel as only a vivacious satirical romp through the Magic Kingdom, for in the very best literary satire—from Juvenal through Swift to Vonnegut–important and compelling issues are at the heart of the frivolity and outlandishness.  Here we find ourselves asking important questions about intolerance, nostalgia, traditions, and control. What in life can we find “magical” and how necessary is it to experience that magic? Other significant matters and themes in the book are depravity, vanity, expectation, disappointment, disillusionment, and fear of change.  In brief, we need more satirists with the skill and imagination of Michael Hartnett.


As for me, I’ve wanted to write a young person’s book that would appeal to reader’s of all ages.  Tick Cooper is my attempt to do just that. Tick is a twelve year old Ohio boy who’s about to accompany his Uncle Ned down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans. It’s the autumn of 1860, right before the election that will send Abraham Lincoln to the White House. With his mother deceased and his father having deserted him for the chance of gold in California, Tick has been most fortunate to receive the care and love of his father’s older brother and his wife—Aunt Clara. Although she has recently passed away, she and Uncle Ned have educated the boy about living a good and proper life. But Tick hasn’t had much of a chance to put what he’s learned into practice—nor to face the moral challenges every young person will face as he or she grows up. But the river journey will provide plenty of those experiences and tests of character. Yet reaching New Orleans does not conclude Tick’s lessons and challenges, for there he witnesses a slave auction, and on the block is a thirteen-year-old freed black girl named Clarissa, whom Tick had briefly met in Ohio. Now Tick faces his most significant challenge. Can he help get Clarissa back to Ohio all the way from New Orleans?

Although set in the nineteenth century, the novel touches on a number of issues affecting young males and females today—and it does not repeat moments from Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, its obvious literary inspiration (in fact, the historical Sam Clemens makes an appearance in the book).  It’s a novel full of fun and adventure—and I’m very confident the reader will love Tick.  Finally, I found it both delightful and therapeutic writing from the perspective of a twelve year old boy.  (Available at

John Vance is a former professor of English at the University of Georgia.  Active in the theater—as an actor, director, producer, and playwright—he had thirty-five of his plays staged.  Now John has turned his creative energies toward fiction and has twelve indie novels published.


Facebook Author’s Page:

Twitter: @VictorianVance




The Writer’s Reading Corner: David Radman #amreading #childrensbooks #indieauthor

Where did this week go?  Not that I’m complaining, because it’s finally Friday!  Today’s author writes children’s books, and is here with his most recent release, When Grandpa Gets Going.  Welcome, David Radman!

So I am not as avid a reader as I probably should be.  I am very picky when it comes to devoting my time to reading.  I simply have too many things to do.  However, I am currently reading, “A New Ending”, by a very dear friend of mine, Alyssa Dean Copeland.  A well-defined story that combines romance with time travel in a very unique, yet brilliant way.  Copeland has the ability to capture all the emotions of a love story, and mix it with a history lesson in a way I’ve never seen done before.  If you are a fan of time travel or love stories, this one may just be the recipe you’ve been waiting for.

My second published children’s book, “When Grandpa Gets Going”, was just released this February.  It’s a story that celebrates the special relationship that exists between a grandpa and his grandchildren.  Experience the non-stop excitement of having to keep up with your grandpa while he’s in town visiting you on vacation.  It’s a fast-paced, high-energy story, written in rhyme, that questions who is really keeping up with whom?

“And we could not have guessed, there was no way of knowing, just what would all happen, when grandpa gets going”.

Author Bio

I am an award winning author who began writing children’s stories as a single father, when my two daughters were very young.  My love of being a dad inspired me to share my creativity through the magic of storytelling.  My first book, “Santa’s Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right Night Before Christmas”, won the gold medal Moonbeam Award in 2014, and was a finalist in the USA Best Books competition that same year.

I continue to write stories that I hope to be able to share in the future.  I live in Littleton, Colorado with my wife and stepson.

You can learn more about me, or follow me on my Facebook page at

“When Grandpa Gets Going” can be found at

“Santa’s Zany…” can be found at

Both are also available on Amazon.

The Writer’s Reading Corner: Nicole Harkin #memoir #amreading #IndieAuthor

Happy Friday!  You never know which books are going to stick with you – maybe it’s something your parents read to you as a child, perhaps a book that provided comfort during a difficult time in your life, or a novel that kept you up reading until the wee hours of the morning.  For today’s author, it was a book about two men in a middle-aged crisis embarking on a fishing trip.  Welcome Nicole Harkin!

Who would expect a book about men fishing would catch my interest? But Shark Drunk did just that. Set in Sweden, the book follows two middle-aged men as they seek to ward off a middle-aged crisis by fishing for a Greenland shark from a dingy. Almost Moby Dick, updated for a modern audience, the book flew by, as I learned about Greenland shark oil and Norse myths. I won’t give away the ending, which had me on the edge of my dingy until the end of the book. I am honestly recommending this book to every person I meet these days.

Another Swedish author’s book caught my eye recently: The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning. The author is obsessed with death in another form, hers rather than that of a shark. She delineates how to downsize before it is too late, reminding aging seniors, or the rest of us for that matter, to destroy our extra dildos and unfinished paintings. As I read this book, I thought about my grandmother who died last year. She engaged in death cleaning without calling it that. At the end of every visit to her in recent years, I came home with more of her stuff. At the time I didn’t see it as her preparing to die but looking back it is clear. She did not want to be a burden to us. She never was to me. This book will appeal to those interested in The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

Nicole’s Latest Release

Start with a family of four children and two parents, add in a sudden catastrophic illness, a secret girlfriend, financial ruin, and divorce; shake with cancer, teenage pregnancy, a bit of humor and resiliency: that’s the recipe for my childhood. Tilting, A Memoir is a story of how one set of parents lived and died—but more than that—it is an exploration of the secrets and lies of childhood and the stories we tell ourselves which mold us into the people we become. The book recently won a gold medal in The Wishing Shelf Book awards!

Author Bio

Nicole Harkin currently resides in Washington, DC with her husband and two small children. She works as a writer and family photographer. As a Fulbright Scholar during law school, Nicole lived in Berlin, Germany where she studied German environmentalism. Her work can be found in Thought Collection and you are here: The Journal of Creative Geography. She is currently working on mystery set in Berlin. Her photography can be seen at Her book, Tilting, A Memoir, won a gold award in The Wishing Shelf Book Awards.

Social Media

IG: @tiltingamemoir
Twitter: @harkinna

The Writer’s Reading Corner: Michael L. Wolff #scifi #fantasy #indieauthor

I love to read fantasy novels.  Today’s author shares how Terry Goodkind’s Wizard’s First Rule (a book that’s been in my TBR longer than I’d like to admit) changed his outlook on life.  Welcome, Michael!

I love Terry Goodkind’s Wizard’s First Rule. When you boil it down, it was the first fantasy novel that had a philosophical foundation. The Rule itself (People are stupid) really spoke to me because it stated that the concepts of good and bad are basically an illusion of perspective. Everyone is the hero of their own story; there is no bad guy. I started defining villains by their actions. You really expect me to believe that Emperor Palpatine, the great savior of the galaxy, had to resort to murder to get things done? He couldn’t think of any other solution? He’s not evil because he destroyed democracy. He’s evil because he relied on the easiest things a person could do to get it done. That book shaped my outlook on life.


My latest work is a bit of a tangle to describe. Chased By Flame and War were originally two acts in a much bigger book called Smoke & Mirrors. My publisher Reagan Rothe suggested to break the book down into smaller chunks and essentially make each individual act into its very own book. Hence Chased By Flame and Chased By War. There are four other acts left in the original book, and the plan is to treat each act as its own individual book (though I have been toying with the idea to fuse Flame and War together).

Chased By War starts off where its predecessor (Chased By Flame) left off: catapulting protagonist Mykel LeKym into the past. He really comes into his own here. He’s relied on others for most of his life, and his inexperience really shows, especially in the way he fights battles. In the first book he has panic attacks during fighting scenes, and I have him recite historical facts to calm himself down. There’s less and less of that here. He still has no idea what he’s doing, but he slowly learns how to handle himself.

Author Bio

I have cerebral palsy, a birth defect that means I have very little function in my left arm. I consider myself lucky because a lot of cerebral palsy cases have much more severe symptoms. I will always need help cutting my food, but it gives me a unique perspective that a lot of others don’t have. Mykel LeKym is the embodiment that someone can be a cripple and still be a hero.

Wrote the Wolff’s Den entertainment column in both my high school newspaper and for the Meriden Record-Journal newspaper chain.

Wrote and published a dozen articles for, a science fiction and fantasy blog. Articles were educational; describing new television shows, a codex of sci-fi/fantasy slang, and rare video games.

Wrote Smoke & Mirrors, a six-act fantasy in the vein of Robert Jordan’s Wheel Of Time series. Two of the Acts in Smoke & Mirrors have been published as separate novels (Chased By Flame and Chased By War).

Book blog address:

Personal blog: various essays I’ve written.


The Writer’s Reading Corner: Luisa Cloutier #biography #memoir #IndieAuthor

Who hasn’t wished they could contact a loved one on the other side?  To see how they’re doing…to say something you wish you’d told them before it was too late…to get closure.  There could be any number of reasons.  Today, Luisa Cloutier shares her tragic loss and subsequent journey to find peace and healing.  Welcome, Luisa!

I have read Love Never Dies by Dr. Jamie Turndorf,

I chose this book because I needed to know how to connect with my husband on the other side. Brandon had had a heart attack, he was a healthy and handsome man. I needed to reassure myself that he was with me, in another dimension, and that love never dies. I needed his spiritual guidance to make the right decisions for our business. I confirm that I had had signs that Brandon’s spirit was with me and that we were inseparable forever.

Dr. Jamie Turndorf’s book is therapeutic and gave me peace. I highly recommend reading this book to people who have lost their loved ones.


My memoir UNTIL FOREVER will be released on May 24, 2018.

When Luisa’s mother died, Luisa was left to take care of her family. Her dream of leaving Naples for a better life died too. Her life became hard work and sacrifice, leaving no time for dreaming or romance. Then one day she met a U.S Marine stationed in Italy. Though Brandon didn’t speak Italian, he understood what Luisa needed and made her feel like a princess. They fell in love, married and began to build a life together in the United States. For many years they struggled. Because of Brandon’s military service, Luisa spent long periods apart from him. Under the stress, their marriage slowly began to fracture, leading to infidelity and separation. During that time apart, both Luisa and Brandon learned what it took to make a marriage work and came to realize how much they truly meant to each other.  When they reconciled, their love grew even stronger. Until one day when everything changed and Luisa faced something she didn’t think she would ever recover from. Until Forever is the inspiring story of the power of love and the strength that lies within us when we think we have nothing left. 

“Luisa Cloutier’s tribute to her husband Brandon, is a beautifully written and engaging ‘coming of age’ journey, and the author’s distinct personality and perspective are evident throughout, creating a warm and moving memoir.” –Indie Reader

 “The storytelling is raw and honest.” –Nabila Fairuz, author of The Chronicles of Captain Shelly Manhar

Author Bio

Luisa Cloutier is a motivational and inspirational speaker and the owner of a successful personal training business. She has over 25 years of experience in the fitness and wellness industry and is a Nutrition Together Consultant and an ISSA Certified Specialist in Exercise Therapy.  Since 2005, she has been helping clients reach their personal goals and achieve happiness. With dual U.S./Italian citizenship, she divides her time between Massachusetts and the South of Italy.
Twitter:  @LuisaCloutier

The Writer’s Reading Corner: Georgia Rose #Romance #Suspense #CrimeFiction

May the fourth be with you!  Being the Star Wars nerd that I am, you know I couldn’t pass that up.  Occasionally, we come across books in which the characters feel so real it’s as if they’re sitting beside us while we read, and the writing evokes powerful emotions.  Georgia Rose was fortunate enough to come across a novel such as this, and it shaped the course of her own writing career.  Welcome, Georgia!

Thank you very much for inviting me onto your blog, Teri. I have thought long and hard about which book I should choose for my reading corner, after all there are so many fabulous ones out there, but it came down to this, which book I have been unable to get out of my head since I read it? Once that decision was made the choice was simple, A Shiny Coin for Carol Prentice by Mark Barry. I should perhaps say at this point that Mark is my editor, but I fell in love with his writing long before he became that. It is because of his writing that I asked him if he would be my editor in the first place.

I reviewed Shiny here, if anyone fancies taking a look. Barry’s writing makes you feel every emotion that runs through this unusual story. As you read you think you know what might be coming, you fear what you suspect might be the reason why Carol swore she would never go home and why she is going to such lengths to plan her revenge and yet you cannot look away. Barry’s writing is spare and yet full and rich, his characters some of the most colourful you will ever read and the story humorous and yet totally, totally serious. Even now, writing these few words about it makes me want to go and open it again.

It costs less to download than one shiny coin and I challenge all who venture this way to go and get it, you can thank me later.

The Blurb for my latest release, Parallel Lies

My name is Madeleine, Madeleine Ross. It is a name chosen with thought and because it is classy, and that is what is needed here…’

Madeleine Ross has life exactly as she planned it.
Cosy cottage, friendly village, satisfying job.
Company… when she wants it.

It’s an enviable existence for an independent young woman, and one she’s keen to protect.

Enter Daniel – strong, dependable and a danger to everything she’s built. He’s not something she was looking for, but hearts can’t be controlled and maybe, just maybe he might be worth letting into hers.

But, all is not what it seems. Because Madeleine is hiding a lifetime of secrets. Deep secrets.

And they never stay buried for ever.

Her darkest secret returns, like the proverbial bad penny. He is her first love, shadowy, dangerous, the baddest of bad boys. No matter how far she runs, or how well she hides, she can never escape him.

Or her past.

Here he is, on her doorstep, with a proposition she is powerless to resist but which could devastate the future she hoped to have.

Can Madeleine satisfy the old love while keeping the new?

You can’t always get what you want but, desperate to preserve the life she has worked so hard for, Madeleine is willing to risk everything to prove that she can.

Universal Link:

Author Bio

Georgia Rose is a writer and the author of the romantic and suspenseful Grayson Trilogy books: A Single Step, Before the Dawn and Thicker than Water. Following completion of the trilogy she has been asked for more and so has written a short story, The Joker, which is based on a favourite character from the series and is available to download for free from Amazon.

Her fourth novel, Parallel Lies, encompasses crime along with Georgia’s usual blending of genre.

Georgia’s background in countryside living, riding, instructing and working with horses has provided the knowledge needed for some of her storylines; the others are a product of her passion for people watching and her overactive imagination!

She has also recently started running workshops and providing one-to-one support for those wishing to learn how to self-publish and you can find her, under her real name, at

Following a long stint working in the law Georgia set up her own business providing administration services for other companies which she does to this day managing to entwine that work along with her writing.

Her busy life is set in a tranquil part of rural Cambridgeshire in the UK where she lives with her much neglected husband and dog. Their son, currently at university, comes and goes and their daughter, having delighted them all for long enough, has eventually moved out, married, and is discovering the joys of being all grown up and having a mortgage!




Facebook page

The Writer’s Reading Corner: Joseph Lewis #IndieAuthor #mystery #writingtips #thriller

If you’re a regular to this blog, being the horror fan that I am, you know I’m a Stephen King fan.  But did you also know King wrote a book on the craft of writing?  I’ve read it a few times and still refer back to it on a regular basis.  It may also be within easy reach of today’s author, Joseph Lewis.  Welcome to Books & Such, Joseph!

I’ve been reading, On Writing by Stephen King and I see myself rereading it for a long time. It’s broken into two parts. The first walks us through his life and how it influenced his writing. For instance, there were specific individuals who influenced Carrie; a confession of alcoholism and addiction that influenced The Shining. There were other anecdotes that I found myself laughing out loud, especially the story about poison ivy and the story about his brother and him causing a brief blackout. Because I am in education (teacher, coach, counselor and now administrator) for forty-one years, I understand the struggle for money and the struggle for time. I felt reassured that he, too, was rejected more than once. Instead of quitting, he stuck all the rejections on a nail above the desk where he wrote. When the rejections added up and bent the nail, he claims he used a spike. That story comforted me in that as successful as he is, he started out just like all writers.

The second part dealt with his rules and tips for writers. I liked the analogy of the toolbox for writers, the importance of grammar, and his caution against using adverbs in our writing (though I don’t necessarily totally abstain).

I think the most valuable piece of the book is the way he paints pictures with words. More than once I found myself with him in the basement, walking through the woods. I pictured him teaching his students, slaving away over a typewriter. I heard the encouragement from his wife and I found myself in disbelief, yet happy when he received the phone call about selling Carrie.

There’s only one other book on writing that has had this big an impact on me. It is the bible on dialogue, William Noble’s Shut Up, he explained! I’ve read that book so much that the pages are yellowed and threaten to fall out because the spine is cracked. Both books deserve and need to be in any writer’s arsenal.

Joseph’s Newest Release:

The bodies of high school and middle school kids are found dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. The drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors and the Milwaukee Metro area is controlled by MS-13, a violent gang originating from El Salvador. Ricardo Fuentes is sent from Chicago to Waukesha to find out who is cutting in on their business, shut it down and teach them a lesson.  But he has an ulterior motive: find and kill a fifteen-year-old boy, George Tokay, who had killed his cousin the previous summer.

Detectives Jamie Graff, Pat O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann race to find the source of the drugs, shut down the ring, and find Fuentes before he kills anyone else, especially George or members of his family. The three detectives come to realize that the ring has its roots in a high school among the students and staff.

Joseph Lewis has been in education for forty-one years and counting as a teacher, coach, counselor and now as an administrator. He uses his psychology and counseling background and his knowledge and fondness for kids in crafting his characters and dialogue. He has taken creative writing and screen writing courses at UCLA and USC.

Lewis has published four books, all available on Amazon and each to excellent reviews: Taking Lives (August 2014) the prequel to the Lives Trilogy; Stolen Lives (November 2014) Book One of the Lives Trilogy; Shattered Lives (March 2015) Book Two of the Trilogy; and Splintered Lives (November 2015) Book Three of the Trilogy. His fifth novel, Caught in a Web drops April 2018 from Black Rose Writing.

Born and raised in Wisconsin, Lewis has been happily married for twenty-five years to his wife, Kim. Together they have three wonderful children: Wil (deceased July 2014), Hannah and Emily and they now reside in Virginia.

Twitter: @jrlewisauthor,



Inspirational blog: Simple Thoughts From A Complicated Mind, Sort Of