Monthly Archives: March 2017

Promo & Giveaway: Almost a Minyan by Lori S. Kline

 

ALMOST A MINYAN
by
LORI S. KLINE
ARTWORK BY SUSAN SIMON
  Genre: Picture Book / Jewish Traditions
Date of Publication: April 5, 2017
Number of Pages: 40
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Will she be the one to take Grandfather’s place?
According to Jewish tradition, a quorum of ten adults is required for public worship. Almost a Minyan traces the story of a young girl whose father and grandfather are regular participants in the town’s minyan – until her beloved Zayde passes on.
Without him, it is even harder for her father to find enough people to make a minyan. Then one day, he brings Zayde’s tefillin to his eldest daughter. A striking new addition to the diverse books movement, Almost a Minyan shares important Hebrew terms and religious concepts through a compelling and beautifully illustrated story for children.

 

 

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PRAISE FOR ALMOST A MINYAN:

 

“A warmhearted introduction to coming-of-age in a worship community.”

 

Kirkus Reviews
“A story of inclusion, belonging and equality. I loved the modern, egalitarian, and traditional values shared in this meaningful story. This is a wonderful modern story for our children and grandchildren!”
Cantor Deborah Katchko-Gray
Congregation Shir Shalom, CT
Founder of the Women Cantors’ Network
“A delightful read for girls and boys alike, this poetic family tale brings a wonderful sentimentality to daily Jewish prayers. Moreover, the beauty of the illustrations contributes additional warmth to this snapshot of Jewish life. A nice addition for all libraries and all ages.”
Rabbi Jimmy Kessler, DHL, DD
Congregation B’nai Israel, Galveston

 

Lori Sales Kline heralds from Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh, PA, which hosts a wonderfully rich Jewish community that fueled her love for Jewish tradition, ritual and practice at home and at, “the shul.”  Following her undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Texas in Austin, Lori chose to make Austin her home, largely due to the spiritual connection she felt in the close-knit Austin Jewish community.  In her spare time, Lori enjoys camping, celebrating Judaism with her husband and son, and friends. She previously authored the children’s picture book,  Josiah’s Dreams.

 



——————————————–
GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
One Signed Copy of Almost A Minyan
March 24-April 7, 2017
(U.S. Only)
CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
3/24
Illustration Preview 1
3/25
Review
3/26
Author Interview 1
3/27
Review
3/28
Guest Post
3/29
Promo
3/30
Review
3/31
Illustration Preview 2
4/1
Review
4/2
Author Interview 2
4/3
Review
4/4
Excerpt
4/5
Illustration Preview 3
4/6
Review
4/7
Author Interview 3

 

 

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Review: The Big Inch by Kimberly Fish

THE BIG INCH
by
KIMBERLY FISH
  Genre: Historical Fiction, WWII
Date of Publication: January 19, 2017
Number of Pages: 344

 

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Kimberly Fish’s debut novel, The Big Inch, was released in February, 2017 and it reveals the lengths to which Texas oilmen, state, and federal governments would go to get Texas crude oil to the troops fighting their first mechanized war. With Nazi threats (and a steady stream of oil tankers sunk by German submarines) speed was necessary, as was OSS intelligence. The Office of Strategic Services was often staffed with female spies and Longview’s World War II efforts were critical for success. 
Lane Mercer, sent to Longview, Texas in July 1942, is part of a select group of women working undercover for the fledgling federal agency, the Office of Strategic Services. Assigned to protect the man carrying out President Roosevelt’s initiative to build the nation’s first overland pipeline to hurry East Texas crude to the troops, she discovers there’s more to Longview than the dossiers implied. There’s intrigue, mayhem, and danger. Shamed from a botched OSS mission in France, Lane struggles to fulfill her mission and keep from drowning in guilt. Getting involved in local life is out of the question. Between family, do-gooders, and Nazi threats, she’s knitted into a series of events that unravel all of her carefully constructed, plans, realizing that sometimes the life one has to save, is one’s own.

 

 ***

 

 

PRAISE FOR THE BIG INCH:
“With an eye for detail, Kimberly Fish weaves a compelling story of a war widow who finds herself in Longview, Texas in 1942. Reading Kimberly’s novel was a bit like going back to a cloak and dagger time, and I enjoyed the local references. Longview was an amazing place to be during WWII.”   — Van Craddock, Longview News Journal, Columnist
“Kimberly Fish’s unique writing style snatched me out of my easy chair and plunked me down into the middle of her character’s life where I was loathe to leave when my real life called me back. Her descriptive visual writing drew me in on the first page. Can’t wait to read more stories by Mrs. Fish.” — Vickie Phelps  Author of Moved, Left No Address

 

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300b2-review
From the get-go, Fish reels you in with vivid descriptions. I can feel Lane’s trepidation on this journey, although I haven’t gotten to know her enough yet. I am at the train station, too, overwhelmed by the chaos of activity and people. And as intrigued as I am by Lane’s snippets of life in Paris, I am even more in awe of her situational awareness. I instantly  become a fan when she outwits a pickpocket and, cool as a cucumber, is swept away by train to her new life.
I apologize if my gushing makes the novel sound melodramatic. Believe me, it is far from that. The people are very real and the situation even more so. The subject of oil is a touchy one, especially when there’s a war going on. No hunch is too small to investigate. And no person is insignificant it seems.
As an attractive, single (widowed) woman, Lane has to navigate small town life carefully. And that’s easier said than done when her boss is a handsome lady’s man. When she isn’t busy batting away blind date offers, Lane has to fend off a few tempting suitors as well. While some women would fall prey to men like that, Lane is truly a completely different breed of woman. Her dedication to her job and sense of honor allows her to brush off society’s misconceptions and the annoyances that result from them.
Lane has to tail her boss constantly to ensure his safety, earning her the nickname “Elmer”. As in the glue. Get it? Haha! Even the people working closely with her couldn’t help making assumptions. I was amazed that her honor wasn’t completely drowned in the gossip pool. Several times, her good deeds got her into a bit of trouble. Submerging her further into that pool. But Lane is an exceptional swimmer.
I might have made her out to be perfect, but Lane does manage to underestimate a handful of characters. Which leads to surprisingly good and unfortunately bad ends. I can’t get into all that without ruining the story. But let me just praise Fish a bit more on her ability to fashion such a compelling and believable protagonist. I really enjoyed learning a little bit about Lane each time she slipped up and let another character get to see who she really is.
And Ms. Fish, if you’re reading this, I would really like a novel about Sergeant Tesco.
Kimberly Fish started writing professionally with the birth of her second child and the purchase of a home computer. Having found this dubious outlet, she then entered and won a Texas manuscript contest which fed her on-going fascination with story crafting. She has since published in magazines, newspapers, and online formats, She lives with her family in East Texas.
  —————————————
GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY! 

One Winner wins a signed copy of The Big Inch

One Winner who purchases the book during the tour wins a bag of Johnny Cace’s Cheese Croutons
March 822, 2017
CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

3/8
Review
3/9
Author Interview
3/10
Excerpt
3/11
Review
3/12
Promo
3/13
Character Interview
3/14
Review
3/15
Guest Post
3/16
Author Interview
3/17
Review
3/18
Playlist
3/19
Promo
3/20
Review
3/21
Author Interview
3/22
Review

 

 

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Author Interview 2: Foy: On the Road to Lost by Gordon Atkinson

FOY:ON THE ROAD
TO LOST
by
GORDON ATKINSON
  Genre: Literary Fiction
Date of Publication: March 1, 2017
Number of Pages: 194

 

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Gordon Atkinson, of the popular blog RealLivePreacher, brings us Foy, a recently- divorced, recently-resigned pastor in the midst of redefining personal meaning. As Foy travels to New Orleans, hoping to find a new identity separate from the church, he keenly observes the everyday, rendering ordinary moments unexpectedly significant. Atkinson’s own background as a preacher and blogger inspires Foy’s confessional voice, the voice which characterizes this story about how our own experiences impact the universal search for meaning. 
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PRAISE FOR FOY: ON THE ROAD TO LOST:

“If the magnitude of difference between the stars and humankind is the purest of religions, reminding us of our insignificance (so thinks Foy), then that magnitude is collapsed in the hands of Atkinson, whose words elevate the most insignificant of objects, acts, and characters to startling heights. A key shifted on a desk, a communion cup offered to an old woman despite a philosophical mismatch, a baby’s bottle first ignored and then retrieved for a frazzled stranger on a bus. Each commands, each arrests, each persists. And we suddenly remember that what we create with mere words can be as lasting as the luminaries.”
— L.L. Barkat, author of Rumors of Water: Thoughts on Creativity & Writing, twice named a best book of 2011


“Few writers can match Gordon Atkinson’s ability to tell stories about the sacred in our everyday lives. Foy is a work of power, beauty, and clarity–I saw myself and the world more clearly after reading it. I think you will too.”

— Greg Garrett, author of The Prodigal and Entertaining Judgment

“I really, really like Gordon Atkinson’s Foy. I like the character Foy himself. He’s Everyman and he’s me and he’s Gordon, all at the same time. Nice trick. I like Gordon’s writing — straightforward, but with a simple elegance. But what I really like is the no-holds-barred honesty. This feels real because it is real. Foy at his worst, Foy at his best, Foy at his most wonderful/awful. It’s an on-going series, just like life. I look forward to the next chapter.”
— Robert F. Darden, author of Nothing but Love in God’s Water, Volume II: Black Sacred Music from Sit-Ins to Resurrection City

 

AuthorInterview

Gordon Atkinson Author Interview 2

Your writing contains beautiful messages. Does the story come first, or the underlying message/theme?

Story first or the beginning idea for an essay. Most of the time I don’t know where things are going to end up when I begin and am as surprised as anyone when I’m finished. This is especially true of fiction, where I consciously seek to avoid directing the writing in hopes of pulling from the unconscious, which is where all the best stories live.

Do you have any kind of ritual you engage in before you write or during the writing process?

The first task is to get every idea down on paper, even if you write it on a napkin. And save those. The next step is to start a piece and gush without thinking onto the paper. In step two one hopes to capture magic from the unconscious. The third thing is to organize and think through the structure of the piece. This is the one I enjoy the least. The last thing is polishing and it’s more like creating poetry. You don’t have to think about structure anymore. Just listen to the sounds of your words and play with them until they sound right.

How much of Foy is based on your own life? Did some of these stories actually happen to you?

I tore my life down into little blocks and used those blocks to build a new life for Foy. There are a few stories that are very close to something that happened to me. Others are based on events from my life but are skewed or lead the character in the opposite direction that I went. And a good bit of Foy is just made up. I’d say Foy resembles me if my life had turned out differently.

Foy has daughters. Will we meet them at some point?

Yes. There are currently two stories that feature his daughters. They just aren’t in volume one. And I have a story planned for Foy’s mother and father. So in the future we should learn a little more about his family.

Foy sure curses a lot for a minister. Is that realistic?

Most ministers know that the scriptures have nothing to say about coarse language, if that language isn’t being used to hurt people. But ministers also have a certain reputation to uphold. So most of them watch their language in public. But I promise you, many of them cut loose when they can do so safely.

What does “On the road to lost” mean?

It is a play on words based on something my wife said when we left the ministry. She said “I once was found but now I’m lost, could see but now I’m blind.” You might recognize that as a distortion of words from the song “Amazing Grace.” I liked what she said. It describes many people who grew up in insular religious communities. It’s as if never having been lost, their journeys inevitably lead them into the wilderness. That’s Foy. He was safe and secure inside the mythic religious world  of Fort Davis. He takes a journey into the larger world, where he feels lost indeed.

You mention a volume two at the end of the book. Have you started it?

I have, and I am well on the way. There are forty-one stories so far. There are only twenty-five in this volume.

How has Texas influenced your writing?

I don’t know. But it makes sense to me that I wouldn’t know. Your own culture is invisible to you. Its influence is always strong but rarely recognized. I’ve always lived in Texas. My family is from Livingston. I was born in Fort Worth. I spent my early years in El Paso and my adolescence in Houston. I graduated from Katy High School and went to college in Waco. When I was in seminary my wife and I lived in a mobile home in Burleson. And I’ve been in San Antonio for almost thirty years.

I assume, therefore, that the scent of Texas rises gently from out of every sentence I write.


 

Atkinson is the author of the books RealLivePreacher.com (Wm. B. Eerdmans), Turtles All the Way Down, and A Christmas Story You’ve Never Heard.  He was a contributor for the magazine Christian Century and founding editor for the High Calling website, which brought together hundreds of independent writers and featured their work. 
His writing career started on Salon where he was among the most read bloggers on the site.  One of his essays was chosen to be included in The Best Christian Writing 2004 (Jossey-Bass) and his book RealLivePreacher.com won the Independent Publisher Book Award in the creative non-fiction category.

  —————————————
GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY! 

 

Grand Prize: Signed Copies of Foy: On the Road to Lost, Turtles All the Way Down, and A Christmas Story You Never Heard
2nd Prize: Signed Copy of Foy: On the Road to Lost

3rd Prize: Signed Copy of RealLivePreacher.com
(US ONLY)
March 1 – 15, 2017

CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
 

3/1
Video Guest Post 1
3/2
Review
3/3
Excerpt 1
3/4
Video Guest Post 2
3/5
Review
3/6
Author Interview 1
3/7
Review
3/8
Video Guest Post 3
3/9
Excerpt 2
3/10
Review
3/11
Video Guest Post 4
3/12
Author Interview 2
3/13
Review
3/14
Video Guest Post 5
3/15
Review

 

 

 

 

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