Category Archives: Fiction Books

Christian Fiction Feature and Author Interview: Forget Me by Chelsea Vanderbeek @Chel_Vander


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Young Adult Fiction, Christian Fiction


Cover - Forget Me, Chelsea Vanderbeek jpg

Sabine is a budding poet who was practically born with a pencil in her hand. Though her intelligence and maturity far surpasses that of those around her, she lacks the confidence and social graces to come out of her shell.

She’s been forced on numerous occasions in the past to slip inside the glass double doors of Hilltop Baptist Church. The youth group was her mom’s idea, really. A shot-in-the-dark way for Sabine to try and make some wholesome friends in a wholesome place. Not that it ever worked out… At least she was usually able to make it out with minimal negative attention as her plain-old invisible self.

This time was different. She always hoped it would be different, but not like this.

When Sabine decides she’s had enough of this life, she ends it and becomes more visible than she’s ever been before. Is it possible she wasn’t as forgettable as she once thought? The only way to find out is to watch the aftermath unfold, and no matter the outcome, she can’t do a thing about it. No one can…

…or can they?

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Excerpt:

Bridget’s trembling fingers remained mere inches from the gun. It was as if she was afraid to move, like I’d paralyzed her in fear. I didn’t feel like waiting for her anymore, though. I gave her a chance to leave. I put the muzzle back to my forehead and squeezed my eyes shut. The last thing I saw was her fighting back a sob, tears dribbling down her rosy cheeks, her saddened eyes staring into my soul. The image was burned into my brain, perhaps forever. I was about to slip my finger in front of the trigger again when I felt a clammy hand wrap around my wrist and pull me down. She was surprisingly strong, so strong that if I kept my eyes closed, I could easily imagine it being a man’s grip. I tried to push her away with all the strength I could muster, accidentally sending her head back against the wall. She clutched her head with both hands, no longer able to hold back her whimpering. She was mean, sure, but I never wanted to hurt anybody. A hard pang of guilt struck at my core.
“I didn’t mean to do that. I’m sorry.” I sobbed even as I spoke. I scampered as far as I could to the other side of the stall, bringing the gun back to my temple. The crinkled fabric of my dress slacks pressed into the skin of my knees. I saw my reflection in the stainless steel panel of the side of the stall. I didn’t want to be her anymore. I didn’t want to be anything.
I heard Bridget shifting on the floor behind me, right up until she was on her knees behind me. I felt her icy fingertips on my shoulder. “Please… Please, listen to me. Jesus loves you. He wouldn’t want you to do this.”
No, get away. Get back,” I breathed, pushing her hand away. My heart was thumping at an overwhelming pace and I couldn’t wait for it to stop. I slipped my finger in front of the trigger for a final time. I spoke without turning back what would be my last words. “How could He love a piece of shit like me?”
Sabine, you’re not—”
I let my last breath go, pulling the trigger and losing all the feeling in my limbs. It all disappeared in a haze of black.


About the Author:

Chelsea Vanderbeek, Author

Chelsea Vanderbeek has been writing fiction and poetry for over eight years. She has previously been featured in Ars Poetica, the small-press publication of Warren County Community College. She currently lives with her family in New Jersey. She would encourage you to visit her website, www.chelseavanderbeek.com, where you can find updates on her upcoming releases.

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Author Interview:

Thanks for doing an interview! Could you tell our readers a little bit about your writing journey? Well, thanks for having me! I’ve been writing for over eight years now, and I have to tell you that the passion has only grown. You start out writing crap. That’s just a given. The first novel I ever remember writing was about a girl who got intense migraines (and it turned out she had brain cancer–I KNOW IT SUCKS), and she also had weird experiences. For example, she crashed her car into her garage and destroyed it, and five seconds later it was back to normal–and THAT was because she had a guardian angel. Now, this is probably the stupidest story idea you’ve ever heard in your life, but hey. We all have to start somewhere. I started in Craptown, and I’m now (thankfully) miles and miles away. Unfortunately you can’t drive those miles… Metaphor. Yeah. I guess what I’m saying is there wasn’t a shortcut. It took a lot of backspacing crappy words and banging my head against the desk, but ta-da! I’ve published a book and here we are, chatting it up like a couple bros.

How many books do you currently have published? Oh, you caught me on my debut.

Are you currently working on a book? Will this be your next release? I’m frying up more books as we speak. I’ve got two in the editing phase (one about two girls on the same co-ed football team that often butt heads, and another about high schooler struggling with her sexuality). Not to mention I have lots of ideas I’m nurturing, some of which I could be starting first drafts on as early as November. So you’ll definitely be hearing more from my side of town in the future (but definitely not Craptown).

What do you enjoy most about writing? I honestly love creating and getting to know my characters. I always say that character development is 50% of my writing process. I actually think that one of the most important things for a story to have is believable and authentic characters (because when you know your characters well enough, the story actually starts to tell itself… or they tell it to you…). I find an image (using Pinterest or Google Images) of what I envision my character looks like, because visual aids go a long way with me. I fill out a bio (with stuff like birthdate, age, good/bad traits, likes/dislikes, family, the whole shebang) for each of my characters, even minor ones. I interview the hell out of my characters (mostly mains, but minor characters do find their way into the mix as well) to get an idea of their “voice.” All of this happens before I type word number one in my first draft. It really is one of my favorite parts of the process.

Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it? I actually wrote a college paper on writer’s block, believe it or not. The thing about writer’s block is that it can be more of a psychological problem than you’d think. A fear of rejection, thinking that your writing is gonna suck before you even put a single letter on the page, can clog the drain pretty quick. It could also be that you’re bored with your own story and you need to change things up. Knowing the cause has actually been a substantial help; I can think of at least one story I wouldn’t have written without this knowledge (and it was over 40K words). I give myself permission to suck in the first draft. No, really. I type it in the literal document. “This story has my complete permission to absolutely unmercifully suck and, in the interest of getting words down, I shall let it.” A first draft is like a toddler: he makes a mess and you clean it up, in that order.

Have you ever had one of your characters to take a twist you weren’t expecting and surprise you? Mmmkay, *SPOILER ALERT* In my debut Forget Me, I have this character named Bridget. Now, this girl took twists all over the place. In earlier drafts, she wasn’t nasty at all and stayed alive the whole story. But then, as I developed her? She out of nowhere decided to A. Call Sabine a retard, and B. Commit suicide herself. I mean, sure she did all this wild stuff I wasn’t expecting at all, but actually? I was pretty proud of myself. To have a secondary character (who was actually pretty damn minor in the first few drafts or so) come to life like that and demand and push her way into the story like that? Pretty cool.

What lessons have you learned since becoming a writer? Do you have any tips for new writers? There’s so much I could say, but I’ll try to give you some good ones. Hmm… write for yourself. Don’t write what you think other people want to read, because there’s a good chance they don’t even know you exist and won’t for a while even after you’re published. If you do it for you, then you get the enjoyment, happiness and fulfillment out of it and money and recognition become less important. Also, if you write something that makes you laugh/cry/squeal with delight/make you physically upset, you’ve probably got a winner. If your writing makes you feel something, there’s a good chance it’ll make your reader feel something too. But it’s all about being honest with yourself. And that’s another thing: if you want to be a writer, you can’t be afraid to take punches. You can’t be afraid to admit that the one plot twist you once thought would make Stephen King jealous is just damn stupid, or that you need to get rid of that one character and his intrusive afro because he and it serve no purpose, or that you need to toss the word “mite” in that sentence because it sounds dumb. If you can learn to take constructive, honest criticism you’ll be set. Showing your work to other people isn’t easy (and I’m sure a lot of you newbies out there wouldn’t DREAM of showing another living entity your work), but I really think that’s where I turned a corner. It takes guts, but it’s so worth it. Above all? Don’t rush this stuff. Some of the most beautiful things in this world take time to grow.

Do you have any extras you’d like to share, like a teaser about an upcoming new release, a summary of a deleted scene, or a teaser about a surprising plot twist or character? Okay, since you said “extras,” well, I created a playlist to go along with my story. I’ve assigned a song to every chapter, and you can get a look at it here: https://chelseavanderbeek.com/playlists/. I’ve been told by some that it’s diverse, and others that it’s really cool. Oh, and one more thing? If you heeded my spoiler alert before, just look out for Bridget. She does some pretty unexpected stuff.

Now it’s time to get to know you! What are some of your favorite books to read? I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of William Sleator, but he was one of my favorite authors in my childhood (and he still is). My favorites of his were Singularity and The Duplicate. The Maximum Ride Series by James Patterson is pretty cool too.

What about television shows? Movies? Yeah, I’m a sitcom junkie. Seinfeld, King of Queens, Reba… I dunno, relaxing stuff to laugh at and get my mind off life. I could watch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off a thousand times and still get a kick out of it. Jim Carrey’s great too. Liar Liar was cool.

If you had to sum up your life as a writer in ten words or under, what would you say? Err… “Notebook in hand at all times.” Yeah, I think that kinda sums it up. I never stop writing. I could tell you all the places I’ve written (even in my swimming pool, for example) but I think that’s another story for another day… I know I’m nuts.

Do you have anything else you’d like to share with readers? I’m giving out cherry-flavored lollipops for anyone who may want to leave a review on my Amazon or Goodreads page! But they’re imaginary. And they’re not cherry, they’re internet-flavored. But no really, thanks for taking the time to check out my story and this nice little interview here! Hit me up on social media if you like. Let’s be pals!


Fiction Feature and Author Interview: The Acorn Stories by Duane Simolke


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Fiction, Humor, Short Stories


the acorn stories

Acorn, Texas Book 1

From romantic comedy to razor-sharp satire to moments of quiet reflection, The Acorn Stories transform a fictional West Texas town into a tapestry of human experiences. “A lush tangle of small-town life branches out in this engrossing collection of short stories.” –Kirkus Reviews. “There are people that you like, some that you can’t wait to see if they get theirs.” –Joe Wright, StoneWall Society. “A well-crafted collection of short stories.” –L. L. Lee, author of Taxing Tallula.

The Sky Is Always Falling in This West Texas Town!

These tales explore the humor, drama, secrets, and scandals of a small town.

From romantic comedy to razor-sharp satire to moments of quiet reflection, Duane Simolke’s award-winning tales transform a fictional West Texas town into a tapestry of human experiences.

˃˃˃ The Individual Stories:

“Acorn”: When we arrive at the fictional West Texas town of Acorn, the narrative keeps shifting between Regina and Dirk, who both seek control over their relationship.

“Flip, Turn”: A different scene from the narrator’s amusing but unproductive life comes to him every time he turns to swim in the opposite direction.

“Keeping A Secret”: A little boy wants to shield his mother and his little brother from a dangerous situation.

“Survival”: A young high school teacher, deaf and gay, clashes with a popular football coach.

“Paying The Rent”: In this politically incorrect tale, an inarticulate young man hopes to marry a rich woman so he can pay the rent, but he finds her repulsive.

“Morgana Le Fay”: A widow finds her new romance disrupted by her Siamese cat’s strange behavior.

“Your Daughter”: Gretchen’s approach to raising a daughter and maintaining a marriage requires ignoring problems and carefully orchestrating conversations.

“Knock”: A father sees his daughter abandon her Mexican heritage, and he now fears other types of abandonment.

“Come With Me”: The conflicting influence of her overbearing sister and her supportive husband forces Becky to re-evaluate her ambitions.

“Dead Enough”: Farcical look at English departments, tabloid TV, the publishing industry, and America’s superstar culture.

“Mae”: Standing by her husband’s grave, an elderly woman looks back at the joys and challenges of marriage and motherhood.

“Timothy Fast”: In this satirical retelling of the Faustian myth, a Jewish businessman finds himself pulled into small-town politics.

“Mirrors: A Blackmail Letter”: The owner of an art gallery becomes the target of a “family values” witch-hunt, spear-headed by Acorn’s closeted (and supposedly “ex-gay”) mayor.

“Echoes”: A time of unexpected changes for Becky and her husband.

“Oak”: Julie Briggs can only talk to her mother by leaving messages on her answering machine, but she refuses to give up her voice.

“Acorn Pie”: An unusual weekend in the life of an unusual town.

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Excerpt:

I pulled myself up enough to see the alarm clock just across my room. 10:15! It had happened again: after dreaming during the night that my alarm clock was buzzing, I had gotten up and turned it off, realized I was dreaming, stayed in bed wondering whether I had also dreamed turning it off, then fallen asleep without turning it back on.

“Swimming,” I mumbled into my pillow. I was supposed to have met Jimmy Jacobs at Acorn College’s indoor pool around ten. Since I hadn’t gone swimming in weeks, I had no idea where my alumni I.D. was. I searched my disintegrating wallet, pulling out shreds of napkins, envelopes, and newspaper with scribbled numbers. Some of the numbers looked like combinations for P.O. boxes or lockers, while others looked like phone numbers, but none of them had words on them. My wallet housed numbers detached from their purpose. I thought I should keep them in case I needed them one day. But how would I know if I needed them, or which ones to use? Then I found a phone number with a familiar handwriting.

I could have called all the phone numbers to see if I recognized the voices of the people who answered. Then I could just hang up. Maybe that’s what people are doing—the people who call me then hang up. Maybe they sorted through old wallets and purses, found my number on a scrap of paper. After finding my I.D. in the dark recesses of my wallet, I stuffed all the numbers back in to recreate whatever equation they had formed, knowing I would probably not see them again until my wallet fell apart.

After pulling on swim trunks, T-shirt, and tennis shoes, I walked outside into Mom and Dad’s yard sale and suddenly remembered that I really need to get my own place.

Jimmy Jacobs wasn’t even at the pool when I got there. I decided not to mention it to my mother—never mind that I’m twenty-eight—because she would just say, “I’ve told you about that Jacobs boy.” From junior high ’till well past high school graduation, no teenagers within a forty-mile radius of Acorn could get drunk, stoned, beat up, arrested, or pregnant without their parents asking, “You’ve been hanging around with that Jacobs boy, haven’t you?” By the time I graduated from college—a lot of good that did me, the new assistant manager at Ice Cream Dream—he was a husband, a father, and the pastor of Zionosphere Baptist Church.


Youtube Book Trailer:


 


About the Author:

Duane Simolke wrote several books, including The Acorn Stories, Degranon, Holding Me Together, and Sons of Taldra. He edited and co-wrote The Acorn Gathering: Writers Uniting Against Cancer; that book is both a stand-alone spin-off of The Acorn Stories and a cancer fundraiser.

Three of his books received StoneWall Society Pride in the Arts Awards, and one received an AllBooks Reviewers Choice Award. His writing appeared in nightFire, Mesquite, Caprock Sun, Midwest Poetry Review, International Journal on World Peace, and many other publications.

Education: Belmont University (B.A., ’89, Nashville, TN), Hardin-Simmons University (M.A., ’91, Abilene, TX), and Texas Tech University (Ph.D., ’96, Lubbock, TX), all with a major in English.

DuaneSimolke.Com includes some of his writing, as well as a variety of links. He lives in Lubbock, Texas.

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Author Interview:

What has been your favorite book to write so far? Why?

It’s a tie.

I worked on Degranon: A Science Fiction Adventure off and on for much of my life. After its publication, I wrote two revised editions. Though it’s set in an alternate reality, it captures many of my thoughts and experiences. It reflects my writing journey and my life journey, which often intertwine. Besides, I made it something I would want to read: a scifi book with diversity and time travel.

The Acorn Stories also borrows from my life and experiences. It blurs short story conventions, captures my love for Texas, and pays tribute to a variety of places and authors. Of course, it isn’t science fiction, but I like it just as much as Degranon. Anyone new to my work should start with The Acorn Stories. It’s a fast, fun read with a lot of quirky characters.

Are you currently working on a book?

I’m writing a short story and hope to finish it soon. It will eventually appear in a new collection of my work.

What do you enjoy most about writing?

Revising, giving the work texture and solid word choice.

Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?

Yes. Sometimes I write anyway, even if it’s just rambling. Otherwise, I wait and try again later. The ideas often hit when I’m not writing, sometimes even entire scenes.

Have you ever had one of your characters to take a twist you weren’t expecting and surprise you?

It happens to me a lot, and I love it! If my characters surprise me, they might also surprise readers.

Which of your characters is your personal favorite? Why?

It’s a tie between two strong women. Taldra in Degranon and Sons of Taldra is an Iroquois scientist who challenges oppression. Becky in The Acorn Stories and The Acorn Gathering is an artist whose mental challenges and overbearing sister could keep her from her goals. They’re both inspirational and entertaining characters.

Do you have any extras you’d like to share, like a teaser about an upcoming new release, a summary of a deleted scene, or a teaser about a surprising plot twist or character?

The following excerpt is from the short story “Fat Diary,” which appears in the stand-alone spin-off The Acorn Gathering. Readers can also order “Fat Diary” alone as a free eBook from bn.com or Smashwords.Com. Like the story I shared from above, it uses a first-person narrator.

Dear Fat Diary,

My nutritionist told me to write in you every day, until I can come to terms about why I’m not happy with my weight, and why I want to change. I’m supposed to call you my “love diary,” but I’m not trying to get rid of love; I’m trying to get rid of fat. We’ll talk about love later.

No, on second thought, we’ll talk about love now. I don’t have love because I have fat. If I didn’t weigh 260 pounds, I might be writing a love diary, and teenage girls would read it and swoon, while listening to the latest boybands and dreaming of that guy who sits in the second row of their American history class. Wait, that’s what I did at the University of Texas in Austin.

My name is Pamela Mae Willard, named after my Aunt Mae and my father, Samuel Carsons (yes, as in “Carsons Furniture, Acorn’s best-kept secret”). He wanted a Samuel Carsons, Jr. He had to settle with a Pamuel, which became Pamela, due to the mercy of the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost, and my passive-aggressive mom. She kept “accidentally” referring to my father as “Samueluel,” and when that bothered him, she said she “didn’t give a damnuel,” and when he wanted supper, she said he could fry some “Spamuel,” and if he wanted someone to keep him warm, he could “buy a cocker spaniel.” Even though she never actually said how much she hated the name “Pamuel,” the message came through clearly enough, and he eventually asked if Pamela Mae would be all right.

Pamela Mae sounded sufficiently dignified and Southern for a member of Acorn’s beloved Carsons family, so she consented, and soon began cooking meals that weren’t primarily composed of meat byproducts. Harmony soon returned to our home, and my parents adopted an unwanted newborn baby just over a year later, naming him Samuel, of course, but calling him “Sam.” If they were going to go through all of that just to call someone “Sam,” they probably could have named me Samantha! Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite in a position to impart my keen sense of logic at the time.


Alternate Historic Fiction Spotlight: The Value of Equality by Cristie M. Locsin


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Alternate Historic Fiction/Lovestory


Value of Equality

Release Date: 6/12/2017

In 1969, the powerful hacenderos in the province of Azusa had been known to create political leaders. The hacenderos’ desires to keep their land and abolish the rebels groom Mayor Karlos Vasquez to enter the world of national politics. Daria Hernandez, Señor Enrique Hernandez’s daughter, paved the way for the ambitious and idealistic Mayor Vasquez. The mayor’s false beliefs and the people’s weariness ended democracy and tore the country apart, leading to a new form of government. The Value of Equality is the second book of a trilogy.

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Excerpt:

“Today we mark a new era in our beloved republic. We are no longer a nation of inequality. Today we establish a new government. I present to the world the People’s Republic of the Philippines.”


About the Author:

My interest in writing started at an early age as my father is an avid writer. I hold a degree in Journalism and was a reporter for various local ethnic newspaper. When I became a mom, I took a break and became and advocate for children with special needs. My passion for writing never left me and finally I wrote my first book The Value of Equality. The book depicts the story of hacienderos and political makers. This is the first book of a trilogy.

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Literary Fiction Spotlight: Tyson & Joey: Two Worlds Collide by Tom Watts


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Self-Help / Literary Fiction


tyson and joey 1

This is the story of two very different young men, from two very different worlds. Tyson is from the rough streets of Trentan, Joey from the affluent northern suburbs. The worlds of these two young men collide through a chance encounter, and as a result, they begin to question their life situations. This connection sparks a shared journey of self-development; one which brings about necessary changes for both men.

The story has a self-help thread throughout, which is inspired by the author’s personal experience of living with anxiety and depression. The text conveys the truths that enabled him to rise out of suffering, and to live a life of peace and fulfilment. The teachings are centred on the concept of “present moment awareness”, and how this can be applied to everyday life.

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Excerpt:

Clearing his throat, the man began to read.

“I wake to the sound of a screaming baby and kids running up and down the hallway. I live on the ninth floor of a social housing building, sharing the space with my mother and younger sister. My father left when I was twelve, so I’m the man of the house. It’s a role I take seriously. Certainly more than he ever did.

I rise out of bed and stare out of the window at the streets below. They’re beginning to show life. Rubbish trucks pass, people begin the commute to work, and shopkeepers lift the cages on their stores. The homeless who have found a night’s rest in the shop front are moved on without a second thought, or any risk of compassion.

Another day in paradise.

I’m born and raised in Trentan, an inner-city district known for its high crime rate and not much else. The community has been neglected. Everything here, from the roads to the services, is in a state of disrepair. Life is hard.

After working all night, I’ve only managed a few hours of sleep. I make my money selling drugs. It’s dangerous work, but I’m good at it. In Trentan, that’s reason enough to carry on.

I’m a product of my environment. Not by choice, but as a result of been raised in a broken home in a low-income area. My life of crime was set in motion long before I could make a conscious decision.

From a young age, I was exposed to things that no kid should see. There were good times for sure, but things could turn violent at any point. One minute you’re playing with your friends on the street. The next you’re witnessing a murder over drugs. And sometimes, what went on in the house was even worse.

These memories stick with you, and in many ways they harden you. Constantly seeing people die or taken away by the police makes you see life as temporary and unforgiving. Subconsciously, this makes you live for the moment. You never know when your time might be up.

With that mentality, you don’t think long term. You look for quick success. You can’t afford to take your time and establish a career; money is needed now. Selling drugs is the natural progression. Drugs are everywhere in Trentan, and there’s always a market for them.

I’m stuck in a cycle perpetuated by poverty and fear. I know if I stop selling, my family will end up homeless. I can’t let that happen. If I don’t support them, nobody will. Not my Dad. Not the government. Nobody. This keeps me doing what I’m doing. I don’t see any other option.


About the Author:

tom watts

Tom Watts was born and raised in New Zealand and has spent some time living in Australia. After growing restless down under, he moved to London, where he currently resides and works as an urban designer, a career that he has been pursuing since graduating university. Tyson & Joey has been a background project for Tom, developing organically over several years as a response to his mental health challenges. For more information on the author and his works, visit tomjwatts.com.


Inspirational Fiction Spotlight: The Soul’s Hope by Beverly Knauer @authorbevknauer


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Contemporary Fiction – Inspirational Fiction


the souls hope

A Love Story Of A Different Kind. . .

Aria and Jonathan Cohen live the good life. They have great jobs in the film industry, a lovely home in Beverly Hills, California, and an angelic five-year-old named Sammi. But something odd is definitely happening in the Cohen household. Sammi is experiencing the strangest nightmares, but she refuses to talk about them. Together, they embark on a mission to solve this mystery.

Olivia Buffet, age 32, owner of a yoga studio, has a harrowing secret she’s hesitant to share with anyone except her best friend, Jax. She thought she’d escaped from the life-and-death situation that hung over her like a black cloud, but now, strange incidents are happening. She wonders—is she still in danger?

Margo Phillips, turning 70 on her next birthday, is falling in love. She has lived alone since losing her family in a horrifying tragedy that changed the course of her life. Margo needs closure before she can commit to her new relationship, but she’s shocked at how the resolution manifests.

An otherworldly connection draws these individuals together for a very specific reason in a most unexpected way. They have no idea how their lives intersect until circumstances pull them all together for the most shocking and surprising revelation of their lives.

The Soul’s Hope is a magical story that explores the mystery and beauty behind the secrets of the universe. It’s fiction that feeds the soul.

Free on Kindle Unlimited:

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Excerpt:

Being normal is overrated. Aria Cohen repeated the phrase in her mind several times as she glanced out the kitchen window into the backyard of her Los Angeles home, watching her daughter, Sammi, at play. She only wished she believed it.
A singular bead of sweat traveled from her forehead, crossed her tear duct—causing a stinging sensation—and flowed down the side of her nose, finally resting on her upper lip. She wiped it with the back of her hand. It was an autumn day and, in spite of soaring Southern California temperatures in the high eighties, she’d decided to spend her first day off of work in three weeks baking and enjoying the company of her daughter. She stood, hands on hips, in their newly renovated kitchen, admiring the bamboo parquet kitchen counters, new copper-infused stainless steel side-by-side refrigerator (with HDTV built right into the door), and dark walnut hardwood floors. They’d even decided to splurge on a special feature—a built-in baking station—that she was trying out for the first time.
Aria inhaled a deep breath. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d smelled something as delicious and comforting as the sour cherry pies baking in the oven. The fragrance wafted through the air, filling her nostrils, enticing her to breathe in the marriage of nutmeg, butter, and sugar combined into a sensual scent. She’d discovered long ago that baking pies was her antianxiety therapy; almost magically, it instantly transported her back in time to pleasant memories of her own childhood, cooking with her mother and her nonna in Italy.
Drifting in the menagerie of past memories, she was jolted back to reality when she noticed how, just now, the television—playing softly in the background—seemed to turn itself off, followed by her cell phone turning itself on, playing a heavy metal tune. She grabbed her phone to silence it. This is the fourth time this has happened. What’s going on? She had no explanation for the strange occurrence. But every time something peculiar like that took place, she felt nervous. Interesting. It seems to happen whenever Sammi plays on the swing set. It made her feel queasy, and her stomach quivered like gelatin. Mysterious events seemed to be happening more and more frequently.


About the Author:

beverly knauer

I grew up with my mom, dad, brother, and two sisters, in Needham, Massachusetts, then Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Other than spending hours playing in the wooded forest behind our house, what I remember the most from my early years is my desire to write; I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was ten years old, when my mother bought me the book Sal Fisher at Girl Scout Camp. I promptly began my own novel, with lined paper and fountain pen in hand, and called it Beverly Knauer at Girl Scout Camp. Okay … not very original. My next book, written at age twelve, was called My Life with the Indians.

After I received my bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, I moved to sunny San Diego, California, where I served in the role of Chief of Rehabilitation Services for the County of San Diego, working with other occupational and physical therapists who provide therapy to children with special needs. I received my master’s degree from San Diego State University.

When not writing, I enjoy wine tasting in the quaint city of Temecula, going barefoot whenever I can, spending too many hours on Pinterest, and indulging in chips, guacamole, and margaritas (frozen, with salt on the rim) while catching up with friends. I like long walks with my pal, Jack—a black Lab—along the seashore, where the crashing waves of the pummeling surf absorb the sounds of the city, providing a means of restoration and introspection, while we scavenge among the seaweed for shells for my collection. My newest passion is crocheting dog sweaters for lonely, abandoned dogs at the animal shelter.

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