Week in Review

Joan Hall’s Week in Review post for this past Friday is one you should definitely check out. I was late getting there, but so glad I finally made it. Great photo (with story) and super links this week. Don’t forget to share, thanks, and thanks to Joan for putting it all together for us. 🙂

Joan Hall (Blog)

Hey, y’all. It’s Friday again. (Yeah!) That means it’s time for another weekly wrap up. I’m changing the format a little this week. Since I decided to add a Thursday Thoughts post, I’ll make Fridays simpler.

I’ve created a custom graphic for my Friday posts. But since I love to take photographs, especially of the beautiful outdoors, I’ll throw one in each week and include the story behind it.

Faulkner Park, August 2009

I pulled this photo from my archives. I took it with my first digital camera, a little 8 megapixel Sanyo back in 2009. This is a nearby park with a walking/jogging trail surrounding the lake.

Sound familiar? If you’ve read Unclear Purposes you know the opening scene of Chapter One is set in a similar location.

This is the place I envisioned when I wrote the first chapter. I’ve walked the lakeside trail many times and am…

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Friday Writing Question: Who?

Joan Hall asked an interesting question on Story Empire’s Friday Writing Question. Stop by and take a look. Check out the comments, too, and then pass it along for the others to enjoy. Thanks, and thanks for a great post, Joan! 🙂

Story Empire

Hey SE Readers. Joan with you today. It’s time for another writing question.

All of us have people who have impacted our lives. Most of the time, we think of people who have had a positive influence.

Yet other times, a person may have made negative remarks that we took to heart. Encouraging words can go a long way. Discouragement, if not overcome, lasts a lifetime.

For example, one of my best friends changed her college major because of negative remarks made by a professor. This “teacher” had the audacity to call my friend’s writing worthless in front of the entire class. “Ann” left that day with her tail tucked between her legs and changed to her major to math.

But the desire to write never left her. Years later, she began writing again.  She didn’t give up. Finally came the day came when a nationally published magazine accepted one…

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Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update #Reviews – Jeanine Lunsford, Marcia Meara, Judy Penz Sheluk

What a lovely surprise to find The Emissary 1 included in Sally Cronin’s latest Author Update & Reviews post on her Smorgasbord blog! Please stop by and take a look! It’s always great to be in such stellar company, and to have a chance to share the post with others. Thanks for checking it out, and thanks to Sally for including The Emissary! Lovely!

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the second of the update posts this week for authors in the Cafe and Bookstore.

The first author is Jeanine Lunsford for her book Remembering First Love (The Rivera Sisters Series Book One)

About the book

20-year-old Carina Rivera is a prodigal daughter on her way back to her childhood relationship with God when she falls into the seductive trap set for her by her handsome supervisor, Aaron Mendoza.

“Remembering First Love” the first in the Rivera Sisters Series, takes the reader into Carina Rivera’s struggle to clean up the reputation she has acquired during her teen years as the “Bad Rivera sister”. Carina’s hopes of turning a new leaf are shattered when her mother loses her job and Carina becomes the sole breadwinner for her family.

When Carina is introduced to Aaron Mendoza, her handsome supervisor at the garment factory, she is captivated by his amazing…

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Attention: An Official Notice for You

(Did that get your attention?) 😀

Just wanted to let you know that I have an 11:30 appointment that will take me away from the quiz for a couple of hours. If we’ve already gotten 5 winners by then, I’ll post the answer before I go. If not, you may continue to submit guesses until 12:00 pm, at which time the contest ends.  The first five to arrive in my Inbox BEFORE noon will win, as usual. I’ll just be a bit later letting you know the results and the answer. 

Now, as you were folks. Thinking caps in place! We’ve had two winners already, so three more of you still have a chance. Good Luck!

How to Get Universal

Been wanting to convert your book links to Universal Links? This post from Harmony Kent on Story Empire tells you how. (Be sure to check the comments, too, as there’s more than one site where you can do this.) Super happy to know how easy it is! Thanks, Harmony!

Story Empire

linked-152575_640Hello SErs, Harmony here 🙂 A while ago, I tried using universal links to take interested folks to my books’ sales pages … the links didn’t work. So, I gave it up as a bad job.

Recently, an author on Twitter told me off for not using universal links. Duly chastised, I took another look. It seems that this capability has progressed a lot since the bad old days, lol. And still, it worried me to try it. Before I did anything, I made sure to research the heck out of it.

Eventually, I came up with Booklinker.net (https://www.booklinker.net/).

Here’s a screenshot:

Screen Shot 2019-07-08 at 12.14.48.png

It couldn’t be simpler to use. I created a free account and now have a universal link for each of my books. The final URL looks something like this: mybook.to/FALLOUT.

They do offer a paid plan with lots of author resources, but I’ve found that the…

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#ShareAReviewDay Tuesday – The Gemini Connection by Teri Polen

Our second guest of the day is author Teri Polen, who is sharing a terrific review of her book, The Gemini Connection. This one ticks all the boxes for folks who love sci-fi adventure and action, combined with unbreakable bonds between brothers. I know you’ll want to share it all over social media. Thanks!


D. W. Peach

June 23, 2019
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

Oh, what a fun read. Sci-fi fans will have a blast with this thriller, but readers who love human stories will thoroughly enjoy this book too. Simon and Evan are twins with a unique connection even though they are strikingly different. Simon is cerebral, a scientist and gentle soul. Evan is a jock with a temper and a painful chip on his shoulder—he’s never been able to live up to his parents’ expectations.

Despite their differences, the brothers are fiercely loyal to each other, and when Simon goes missing, Evan makes it his mission to find out what happened and bring him home. He’s a successful bender, capable of entering the dreams of clients to unblock their memories or fight their nightmares. Their connection and his talent lead the way.

The world-building is excellent, and though “bending” is a bit of a scientific stretch, Polen does a credible job making it feel plausible throughout the story. The pace moves along at a speedy clip, and there are plenty of tight spots and danger.

The story is told in the first-person point of view of both brothers. You might have guessed that I just loved the characters, particularly Evan and Simon. Their relationship wasn’t without its bumps and bruises, but the steadfast loyalty they felt towards each other had me rooting for them from the start. Secondary characters were richly drawn and three-dimensional, as were peripheral players. A great read that I highly recommend. Continue reading

Friday Finds #writetips #fiction #qotd

Missed reblogging Staci’s Friday Finds on Friday (more on where I was in another post) but this week’s post is a great one, as usual. Do stop by 1) for the super inspirational weekly quote, and 2) for her terrific list of links to all sorts of good stuff! Please remember to share, thanks, and my personal thanks to Staci for including The Write Stuff in the humor section. LOVE these Friday Finds round-up posts, Staci! 🙂

Staci Troilo

Ciao, amici! How was your week? Mine was a mixed bag. I started rolling out some new features on my blog and hope to continue that next week. Every day, Monday through Friday, now has a theme, though I’m willing to preempt days (primarily Tuesdays) for promotions.

I’m taking weekends off. No posting, no reading posts, no social media, no writing or editing (unless I’m terribly behind). This seven-day-a-week schedule has finally broken me. I may (and I stress may) clean out my email just to make my Mondays easier, but I really need the break for my mental health.

Speaking of social media and emails, I’ve had discussions with several writing friends lately (you know who you are) who have been doubting themselves. This boggles my mind, as I’ve read their work (novels, novellas, short stories… even blog posts) and I find them all talented.

Then, I realized…

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#FirstLineFriday Submissions Are Now Closed – We Have Our Winners & the Answer to the Quiz!

Hope you enjoyed our fourth #FirstLineFriday Trivia Quiz! Remember, it isn’t ONLY about winning. It’s about sharing some great opening lines that make you want to come up with ideas for your own books. Some of these are so beautiful or intriguing, they almost demand a reader dig into the story. And that’s the kind of thing we should be looking at and learning from. So play the game, for sure, but also study these lines as ways to improve your own skills. There’s value in that as well. 🙂

Today, we have two winners: Darlene Foster and Bette Stevens, whose book club just happens to have chosen this very book for their monthly selection. What are the odds! Congratulations, Ladies, and I hope you enjoy your prizes.

And here’s the answer to today’s quiz:

“In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing.”

This is the brilliant and curiosity-arousing  opening line from  the 1976 novella  A River Runs Through It, by Norman Maclean. It was made into a very popular film roughly  20 years later, directed by Robert Redford, and starring Tom Skerritt. (Oh, and some guy named Brad Something-Or-Other. 😀 )


From its first magnificent sentence, “In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing,” to the last, “I am haunted by waters,” A River Runs Through It is an American classic.

Based on Norman Maclean’s childhood experiences, A River Runs Through It has established itself as one of the most moving stories of our time; it captivates readers with vivid descriptions of life along Montana’s Big Blackfoot River and its near magical blend of fly fishing with the troubling affections of the heart.

“A masterpiece. . . . This is more than stunning fiction: It is a lyric record of a time and a life, shining with Maclean’s special gift for calling the reader’s attention to arts of all kinds—the arts that work in nature, in personality, in social intercourse, in fly-fishing.”—Kenneth M. Pierce, Village Voice.

Buy A River Runs Through It HERE
(You owe it to yourself to read this one!)

And there you have it! I hope that if you’re unfamiliar with this story,  you’ll consider adding it to your TBR pile. It’s well worth a read! Thanks for playing and see you next week, 8:00 am sharp, with another #FirstLineFriday quiz.

#ThrowbackThursday ~ Wake-Robin Ridge by @MarciaMeara #Mystery set in the North Carolina Mountains

What a happy way to start my day! Cathy at Between the Lines has chosen Wake-Robin Ridge as her Throwback Thursday review post, and what a super review it is, too! Please stop by and see what Cathy thought about my first Wake-Robin Ridge book. (My first book, period, as a matter of fact.) I’m feeling extra inspired today after reading it, and am hard at work on Wake-Robin Ridge #4: The Light. Hope you’ll enjoy checking this out (be sure to say hi to Cathy while there), and please share all over the place, if you can. Both Cathy and I would appreciate that! Thanks, and my heartfelt thanks to Cathy for starting my day off on such a high note! 🙂 ❤

My Throwback Thursday choice is the first of the Wake-Robin Ridge trilogy, a dual time line story with flashbacks to fifty years previously. I’ve read all three books and loved them.


My thoughts

Two women, two stories, fifty years apart, their lives connecting in a terrifying way. Ruth and Frank met in the 1960s when Ruth escaped from an abusive husband and settled in a little cabin on Wake-Robin Ridge. Ruth thought she was safe and could at last find happiness when she met Frank, but it wasn’t that easy to remove Lloyd from her life. Her husband, Lloyd Carter, himself an abused child which shaped him into the man he was to become, had been imprisoned for multiple charges, including assault with the intent to kill. Ruth took her chance and made the break for freedom, taking Lloyd’s money and car. From prison, Lloyd employed his cousin to…

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#ShareAReviewDay Tuesday – No More Mulberries by Mary Smith

This morning, I’d like you guys to give Mary Smith a big, smiling welcome to The Write Stuff. Mary is here today to share a lovely review of her book, No More Mulberries, and I know you’ll be fascinated by it. Please help others find it by sharing all over your social media. Thanks!


James J. Cudney
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

No More Mulberries is an international contemporary drama written by Mary Smith and published in 2009. The story focuses on Miriam, a Scottish midwife, who has married two men from Afghanistan during her lifetime. The tale unfolds by jumping time frames across different chapters to share the reasons why Miriam’s life has become what it is today. At times, her days have been heartbreaking, and at others, they have been an admirable source of strength. I chose this book because I’d seen many positive reviews and it fit the parameters for my month of international and/or autobiographical reads. Let’s chat more about this complex and wonderful story…

Miriam had a wonderful husband and life, but he passed away. She had a young son to raise in Afghanistan during a difficult period in the country’s history, especially for a red-haired Scottish woman with strong beliefs about how things should be. Knowledgeable in medicine, she won over some of the village, yet she always knew she was viewed differently. Then, she remarried and had another child with the second husband. At first, they had a strong love. Although she’d converted to Muslim, her husband, Iqbal was careful to find a balance between his beliefs and her beliefs. While he could be strict, he was by no means radical or excessively controlling of his wife. As tension rises between them, Miriam revisits her past to understand why her first husband died. Through the process, her eyes are opened about her own blame in the new marriage as well as as what truly happened to her first beloved.

The story is rich with a supporting cast who provide laughter, love, fear, and pain. Smith eloquently shares a culture and a lifestyle with her audience, some who may know little about the Muslim faith or Afghani culture. While I’ve read a few other books focusing on this part of the world, they tended to stick to the religious aspects of the Middle East rather than the social aspects. I was glad to experience a different side of the life through this story and the author’s wonderful ability to showcase both the good and the bad.

Questions of parenting, forgiveness, pain, tolerance, and curiosity quickly enter a reader’s mind. What will become of someone who defies her husband? Who will stand by you when you have no one else to trust? How do you ensure the village listens to your advice on bearing a child when the culture dictates the complete opposite solution? This novel helped me understand a different mindset, and while it wasn’t necessarily one I agree with or support, I found a balance of alternative ideas and options to push me to think more critically. It’s a great experience, and one we should all have when reading a book about something different than our own knowledge.

A great find, and something that would be a benefit for all readers with an open mind, a curiosity about life outside their own culture, and a small glimpse into the world that many know from the outside but little know from the inside.

Scottish-born midwife, Miriam loves working at a health clinic in rural Afghanistan but she can no longer ignore the cracks appearing in her marriage. Her doctor husband has changed from the loving, easy-going man she married. When an old friend appears, urging her to visit the village where once she and her first husband had been so happy, Miriam finds herself travelling on a journey into her past, searching for answers to why her marriage is going so wrong.

Buy No More Mulberries Here:
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Smart Url   

Author Mary Smith

Author, poet and freelance journalist, Mary Smith lives in South West Scotland.  

She lived in Pakistan and Afghanistan for ten years, working for a leprosy control programme and establishing a mother and child care programme providing skills and knowledge to women health volunteers.  On her return to Scotland she obtained a liberal arts degree followed by a Masters in Creative Writing at Glasgow University.

Mary has worked as senior reporter on a local paper and as a feature writer for an award-winning lifestyle magazine before going freelance to focus on her own writing. Her poems have been widely published in poetry magazines and anthologies and a full length poetry collection, Thousands Pass Here Every Day, was published by Indigo Dreams.

Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni: Real Stories of Afghan Women is a memoir of her time in Afghanistan and the country also provides the setting for her novel No More Mulberries.

In collaboration with photographers Allan Devlin and Keith Kirk she has worked on three local history books for Amberley Publishing: Dumfries Through Time, Castle Douglas Through Time and Secret Dumfries. A fourth title, Dumfries A-Z will be published in 2019.   

Reach Mary on Social Media Here:


My Dad’s a Goldfish 

Email: mary@stewartry.co.uk