Self-Published Saturday: Books on Sale!

Here are some great books from two indie authors that are on sale today!

First up are two books from award-winning historical novelist Gail Meath: Songbird, which is the first book in the Jax Diamond mystery series, Framed, which is the second book in the series, and Fire Blossom, a historical western. Click on the photos to buy these books on Amazon.

See all of Gail’s books on her Amazon page.

Next up is a wonderful book of Christian poetry with accompanying photographs from amazing Christian poet Louise Belanger.

See Louise’s books on her Amazon page.

Self-Published Spotlight: Listen by Claire Conroy

Self-published spotlight is my attempt to help bring attention to great self-published/indie books. Today, Claire Conroy is in the Spotlight! Read below about her poetry book, Listen.

ABOUT THE BOOK

“Claire Conroy is a spellbinding sorceress of words who can magically transport you mentally, emotionally and spiritually to the brief glimpses of time she captures and puts down on paper.” -Joia DaVida, Entertainment Journalist

A Sample of Claire’s Work

HOW TO PURCHASE

In order to purchase the book, message Claire on her Facebook page, Poetry by Claire Conroy. Claire also invites everyone to like and follow her Facebook page.

You can also order Listen by emailing Claire at Claire_Conroy73@yahoo.com.

Overdue Book Review #1: Elizabeth Gauffreau, Grief Songs

Reblogged this great review of Liz Gauffreau’s Grief Songs, which is also self-published and perfect for Self-Published Saturday.  Make sure and check out the original post from Merril D. Smith.

Yesterday and today: Merril's historical musings

Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance

Elizabeth Gauffeau’s Grief Songs is a short book that leaves a long, lingering presence. The book is a collection of personal photographs paired with mostly tanka poems. (A tanka is a 5-line poem typically written as syllabic lines of 5-7-5-7-7). This means that each poem is a sharp distillation of a moment, an event, or even the history of a relationship between parents, between her and her parents, or between her and her brother.

Because the poems are brief, the book can be read very quickly. However, a reader who lingers over words and photos will be rewarded. The poems and the feelings behind them grow with repeated readings. I must say that sometimes I was left wondering what happened. This is not a criticism of the poems, but rather, my own curiosity about people. “Youth Group Picnic,” for example, gives us a…

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#Football and #Poetry–A Sonnet

I have been a football fan since I was a kid, and right now I’m watching the College National Championship, thinking about risk, and writing a sonnet. I’ve always been a fan of the sonnet, although it doesn’t really seem to be in fashion these days. For those who don’t know, a sonnet generally has 14 lines, 10 syllables each line. There are three stanzas of four lines, and one of two lines. The stanzas of four lines have alternate rhyming and the last two lines also rhyme. The last two lines solve a problem or come to a conclusion. Below is my football sonnet, called Fourth and One.

FOURTH AND ONE–A FOOTBALL SONNET

The Bears and Rockets struggle on the field
Five minutes left, the star receiver’s out
The Rockets try to pass; the Bears won’t yield
It’s fourth and one; defenders range about

Should they punt or should they try to go?
The safest bet is punt and try again
To go for one’s a risk, as they all know
But safe won’t always win it in the end.

The Rockets walk determined to the line
Their jaws are set, their hands upon the ground
They lunge ahead; the measurement is fine
But in the end they garner four more downs.

The Rockets put six points up on the board
The greatest joy of risk is the reward.


Photo by Jean-Daniel Francoeur on Pexels.com

Mountain Pictures and a Story Poem #Poetry #SmokyMountains

Here is the mountain view from my future retirement house in Bryson City, NC. My grandfather bought this land in the 1930s and passed it to his children. I bought my Mom’s house in 2009 and will get to retire here in a couple years. I got to thinking about families who have been on their land for a long time and how you can just feel their presence. So that inspired the story poem below. At the bottom of the page are more shots of our property. All photos by Doug DeMoss.

Welcome Home, Rosalie

I was born here
In a rough cabin knocked together
Cold wind screeching through

But my mother kept me warm and safe
In these mountains all her days

My children ran through these hills
We sweated the fields and hunted the ridges.
We struggled but we thrived

When my end came they gathered round to say goodbye
And my soul rushed away, content.

I came back to visit often
Watching over them as they laughed and cried
Until they joined me, one by one
Now there are no tears.

The cabins are fancy now
The mules gave way to “cars”
The way of life changed as I watched
And before long my great-grandchildren met me.

Now another Rosalie has arrived
Named after me, my daughter, and many other kin
She walks through these hills, not exactly knowing
But feeling all of us as we walk beside her

She can sense but not see
Our hands on her shoulders as we welcome her home

Last Week of the Year! Hope You Had a Merry Christmas. #Poetry #Dogs

Merry Christmas from Harold, Holly, and Hermann! Here’s a little poem. I don’t know how to describe it, but maybe rhyming free verse? For my next few posts after this one, I’ll sharing books our readers have nominated as their favorites of the year.

After Christmas

The presents have been given
The food is put away
Time to sit back and celebrate the day

The week to come
Will end the year for all
A season over, a new year calls

Our hearts are open
And God will hear
Our precious prayers for the coming year


Thanks so much everyone, for reading my blog, and for your friendship and support. This year has been a blast.



Self-Published Saturday: What’s Wrong With A Pet Dinosaur #Poetry #KidsBooks

Self-Published Saturday is my effort to help Indie and Self-Published authors with one of the many tasks they are responsible for–marketing. If I can help in even a small way with the daunting task of marketing, I’m happy to do it. I missed putting the post up yesterday because of a very busy schedule, but as always, SP Saturday will still go up, even if it’s not Saturday anymore. Today we have a really cute kid’s book of rhymes/story poems accompanied by illustrations. Check out the review below.

BOOK REVIEW

This is a really cute collection of fun and whimsical poems that children and adults will love. They each tell a story that will have you laughing. The accompanying illustrations add to the joy of reading this book.

Each poem tells a story in delightful rhyme. The book reminds me a tiny bit of Dr. Seuss, with the author’s own unique touches, of course. My favorite poems are “Jeremy Myer is Such a Liar,” “Monster Under The Bed,” and “I Want The Very Best Birthday Party.” Parents and kids will have a great time reading these poems together.

I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley. I also downloaded it on Kindle Unlimited, where subscribers can read it for free. My review is voluntary.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tony Philips

When he is not doodling on donkeys or writing silly poems on bathroom walls, Tony Philips is trying to answer the pressing questions that confound experts the world over, like who left the toilet seat up? He grew up in a suburb in Pennsylvania near a turkey farm. Every so often, frantic turkeys, escaped from the farm, would show up in his back yard, and he and his siblings would try to hide them. Have you ever tried to usher a crazed turkey behind a bush? It’s not easy. He attended art classes at the Baum School of Art and got a degree in Creative Writing from Haverford College. He tried writing for television, but found nobody wanted to hear his stories about freaked out turkeys. Or about how an unhinged turkey once bit his younger brother on the toe. It’s true, really. Tony lives in Chicago with his wife and daughter. He can be found online at TonyPhilips.com.

LINKS TO BUY

AMAZON US

AMAZON UK

*If you read the book, please leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, as well as anywhere else you review books.  Some people feel very daunted by writing a review. Don’t worry. You do not have to write a masterpiece. Just a couple of lines about how the book made you feel will make the author’s day and help the book succeed. The more reviews a book has, the more Amazon will promote it.

*Please click on the “share” buttons below and share these books with your Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress followers. A little bit of help from all of us will help self-published authors go a long way!

Book Review and Q&A: Winter Solstice by Diana Howard. Don’t miss the bonus poem! #Poetry #Dementia #Alzheimer’s

Winter Solstice is a beautiful and heartbreaking poetic account of the end of life journey of the author’s mother, who was losing her memory. This made my heart ache because I went through this with my Dad as well, and watched him eventually forget us due to Dementia. It is a tough thing to experience, but Diana Howard writes about this sad journey with honesty, truth, and compassion.

Some of the poems in this collection compare this condition to nature and the winter season, and some are very matter-of-fact accounts of the effects of this disease. All of them will speak to somebody who has been affected by this in one way or another.

Anyone who has lost a loved one to Alzheimer’s or Dementia will identify with this heartfelt and very candid poetic account of a long and agonizing loss of a parent.

I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley. My review is voluntary.

Q&A WITH DIANA HOWARD (With a bonus poem from the author!)

Winter Solstice was of course inspired by your Mother’s battle with dementia.  I also lost a parent and grandparent to dementia and I want to express my deepest condolences.   Was it difficult to write about or did writing help you process it all?

I think what was difficult was watching and experiencing my mother’s decline yet having very little understanding (especially early on) of what was happening to her and what she could and could not comprehend. Of course, every day was different, but I felt desperately sad for her and powerless to help her. Writing about it was comforting for me and it helped me personalize it in a way that gave her as much dignity and peace as was possible.

In some of your poems in this book, such as Winter SolsticeTaking Refuge, and Losing Memory, you related your mother’s dementia to nature, specifically the winter season.  It is actually a perfect analogy.  How were you first inspired to relate your mother’s passing to nature in this way?

Growing up, nature was a large part of my experiences with my parents. Hunting for morel mushrooms every spring with my dad, and looking for bittersweet in the woods with my mom in the fall. We went camping every summer and played outdoors always. I grew to love the sound of birds and also the wisdom they presented  through a pair of binoculars. By the time I started writing seriously, in my late 30’s, nature seemed the perfect metaphor for so many things.

Were you writing these poems as everything was happening in real time or from memory later?

The answer to this question is both. “Departure” for example was written on a plane flying home from seeing my mom a year before she died. (I lived 10 hours away) “Taking Refuge” was written when I traveled to see my mom when she still lived in her own home but was hospitalized with abdominal issues. I could see while she was in the hospital and out of her normal familiar setting, that she was struggling more than I realized. It was still another year before we actually moved her into assisted care.

Let’s talk about the grief process.  For myself, I found I was already grieving my Dad when he began to forget me.  I realized after his death I was already very far along in the grief process. How has the process evolved for you?

Pretty much as you describe. I was the oldest daughter, the one designated to care for her. Even though I couldn’t do that physically because i was so far away, i definitely did it emotionally, until she could no longer comprehend, and then I still did it anyway. My two brothers and sister were also wonderful with her. I was lucky in that regard that they did what they could as well.

Many of the poems came out of the grief i was feeling and from the lonely powerless feeling that engulfed me so often. (Did I mention guilt??? I always left her. struggling to remind myself that  I am doing the best I can and also what was right for me.

I love that you spoke of the realities of having dementia in such a forthright way.  Those of us who have experienced this with loved ones will identify immediately with your words.  I also think that those who are about to go through this with their loved ones will be helped by your candid description of the realities of this harsh disease.  When you wrote Winter Solstice, did you realize the extent to which it could be of great help to others?

I didn’t realize it while I was going through it, but after she died I looked over volumes of pages of writing that I did and thought to myself, maybe I could help someone not feel so alone as they spend years saying goodbye to a loved one. Maybe I could help them with their sadness, their anger and frustration, their coping with the real challenges that occur.

What is the most important thing you want others to take away from your book?

I would hope that they would feel less alone knowing that others are going through the same thing. Even though everyone’s journey is a bit different, the key symptoms of the disease are the same. Here is a poem that is not in the book. I actually wrote it this past summer thinking that I might use it when giving a talk about my book – I’m sure it will resonate with you as it does with me.  

Facing Dementia

I want to tell you
what not to do
how not to respond
where not to go.

I learned the hard way.

I want to say it doesn’t get easier.
It will take vicious turns
be unforgiving 
break your heart.

I learned the hard way.

I want to explain how it
steals personality
taunts intellect
preys on a sinking lucidity,

that any thought
of rescue or reasoning
will fail miserably
punishing you in your dreams.

You will learn the hard way.

Diana Howard©️2021

In closing, I just wanted to say that your poem Losing Memory really spoke to me because it’s such a great analogy comparing the loss of memory to a blizzard, and I can sadly imagine my loved one wandering, trying to find those memories again, only to have them wiped away by bitter winds. It actually made me realize I still feel the sting of those bitter winds sometimes, almost three years after my Dad passed. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this terrible disease with the world.

Thanks so much, Bonnie!

COMMENT FROM BONNIE

*When I did the original QA questions, I didn’t know about the extra poem the author would be so gracious to send. I wanted to comment on it. It’s absolutely true. There is no way to reason with someone with dementia/Alzheimer’s, and no way to permanently rescue them. This condition and its effects will break your heart more than once .

Again, thank you Diana, for your wonderful answers and the new poem!

MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author/Poet Diana Howard

Diana Howard is a poet and children’s author living in southeastern South Dakota. She began writing for children ten years ago. Her love of nature and animals influences her storytelling as she gives both voice and character to her subject matter.

BUY WINTER SOLSTICE

AMAZON US

AMAZON UK

Happy Thanksgiving! #Poetry #ChristianPoetry #FreeVerse

Giving thanks for all of our blessings and resting before our work continues again.

Trying little free verse today.

Temporary Feast

We rest, we eat, we give thanks.
Then we move forward
To see what God has planned for us next

We know that rest is not permanent
In this life
Our work, toil, and hard times
Continue until the end

When we sit with Christ at the table
And eternity begins

Have a wonderful day today. Praying for you all, for we all have struggles, whatever they may be.

Fall Colors in the Smokies #Tanka

We’re so blessed to have this view from our future retirement home in Bryson City, NC. I always love when the fall colors come out and had to share it with you. Below is an Autumn Tanka I wrote this morning for you to enjoy along with the picture.

Autumn Rest

Harvest is over
Creatures have gathered their stores
Time for rest has come.

The trees put on their loungewear
Of glorious reds and golds

I hope you are all enjoying the Fall season! It’s my favorite time of year.