Self-published Saturday: Travels and Tribulations

Self-Published Saturday (SPS) is my effort to help self-published and indie authors with the heavy task of marketing their books. Self-published authors have to do it all, from cover design to marketing and more. This is my effort to take a bit of that load and help promote their books. This week, we’re taking a look at a book of short stories by Tyrel Nelson based on his life and travels. Check out the review below. This will be my only SPS post today as I’m off to watch the grandbabies.

BOOK REVIEW

Travels and Tribulations is a collection of short stories by Tyrel Nelson about his life and travels. The stories are very well done and he has a way of pulling the reader into the adventure or emotion with him. 

One of my favorites in the collection is “Coming Around to Carnival.” We learn about the traditions in Ecuador of throwing water balloons or using squirt guns or other means to pelt each other with water during Carnival. Tired of getting wet, Tyrel travels to Ambata, Ecuador with a friend. In Ambata, water bombs are banned, but they spray each other with colored foam. The author’s description of celebrating in the streets and engaging in friendly foam fights is so descriptive you feel as if you are there. 

There is a wonderful mix of funny and sad in this book. The Old Man and the GMC is a hilarious tale of several encounters with a very bad driver, and another one of my favorite stories in this book. Just when you think you are safe, here comes the old man in the GMC again. The author also gives many sad but heartfelt tributes to his late parents. February 14, Lake Reflections, and My Takeaway are beautiful tributes to the author’s father. A Comfortable Silence, Time on the Line, and Memories of Mom and Mexico are among the tributes to his mother. 

Each story is touching, fascinating, or amusing in its own way. The author either takes the reader on an adventure to an amazing place or stirs the emotions with heartfelt stories of his life and family.

Overall this is an extremely well written collection, and the author’s descriptive ability is amazing. The reader can see the places Ty has been and they can feel his deepest emotions in these stories.

I would recommend this to anyone interested in well-told travel, adventure, and family stories.

4.5 stars. Rounded up to 5 on sites with no half-star option.

I received a free copy of this book from the author. I also purchased one on Amazon because I love to celebrate great writing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tyrel Nelson

Tyrel Nelson grew up in the southern part of the Twin Cities. He studied in Venezuela and Spain as an undergrad at the University of Minnesota. After earning a B.A. in Journalism and Spanish Studies, he received his School for International Training TESOL Certificate from the Experiment in International Living in Quito, Ecuador. Over the past fifteen years, Nelson has led many volunteer trips to Latin America and written a few nonfiction books, including his latest collection of stories, Travels and Tribulations. He lives in Minneapolis with his lively wife, bright-eyed daughter, and troublesome turtle.

Tyrel Nelson’s Amazon Author Page

LINKS TO BUY

Amazon US

Amazon UK

*If you buy the book(s), 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: Finding Sisters

Rebecca Daniels was adopted by loving parents and had little interest in searching for her biological family until much later in life. When she did begin her search, she used DNA testing and some of the various genealogical sites such as Ancestry.com to make connections with distant relatives and begin her search for the truth.

I found this to be a very interesting story of a quest to find biological connections and most especially the stories behind them. While DNA is incredibly helpful in finding lost family, it does not always provide all the answers, and investigation has to be done. Daniels provides a thorough history of her investigation, what she learned, and the connections she made along the way.

The story is not as full of emotion as I personally may have wanted. It is more analytical and detailed in nature. The author explains the reason for that and her somewhat emotionally detached personality, and it is perfectly understandable. Since I am a very emotional person and thrive on emotional connections, it wasn’t quite as fulfilling for me as it might be for others. But for those who love a good puzzle and want to learn more about genealogical research, this will be an informative and enjoyable read.

I appreciated the section in the back of the book that provides information about available genealogical sites and the many options they offer.

I downloaded this book on Kindle Unlimited, where subscribers can read it for free.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rebecca Daniels

Rebecca Daniels (MFA, PhD) Rebecca Daniels taught performance, writing, and speaking in liberal arts universities for over 25 years, including St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY, from 1992-2015. She was the founding producing director of Artists Repertory Theatre in Portland, OR, and directed with many professional Portland theatre companies in the 1980s. She is the author of the groundbreaking Women Stage Directors Speak (McFarland, 1996) and has been published in multiple professional theatre journals. In 2015, she retired from teaching and moved to the Pioneer Valley in western Massachusetts where, in 2018, she completed the manuscript for Keeping the Lights on for Ike, a book based on her father’s letter home from Europe during WWII, which was published in 2019 by Sunbury Press. In 2019, she also served as literary manager and co-producer for Silverthorne Theater Company in Greenfield, MA. Lately, she has been working on two full-length plays and recently completed a memoir called Finding Sisters (published by Sunbury Press in 2021) that explores how DNA testing helped her find her genetic parents and other relatives in spite of being given up for a closed adoption at birth. 

BUY LINKS

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Self-Published Saturday/Grief Songs

Self-Published Saturday is my attempt to showcase works by self-published authors. Saturdays are dedicated solely to self-published/indie authors and their works. These authors have to do it all, from editing to cover design to marketing. Self-published Saturday (or SPS) is my effort to try and help with the marketing side of things as much as I can. I also need your help in the form of sharing this post with your social media followers to give these authors more exposure. Today I want to bring your attention to a wonderful book of poems by Elizabeth Gaffreau. Written in Tanka style, they are a tribute to her departed family members. Liz also agreed to answer some questions for us, so don’t miss the Q&A below!

BOOK REVIEW

Grief Songs is a beautiful collection of Tanka poems, accompanied by family photographs. Each poem pays tribute to a family member and often goes behind the scenes, telling us what is happening “beyond the frame.” It is a wonderful and unique look at a family, both good times and bad.

To anyone who is unfamiliar with tanka poems, here is a quick definition: Tanka poems are Japanese in origin. They are very specifically 31 syllables, 5 lines. The first line has five syllables, the second 7, the third 5, and the last two lines have 7. The first three lines are supposed to evoke an image, and the last two describe an action or emotion based on that image.

In Grief Songs, Gauffreau gives heartfelt tributes to her mother, father, and brother George. Some will make you laugh, and some will draw a tear. My absolute favorite is Angelic, which is aptly named. It is accompanied by the most adorable, and yes, angelic, portrait of two children I have ever seen. Liz and her brother George look like the most beautiful, well-behaved kids ever to sit for a portrait in the history of time. However, the the last two lines of the accompanying tanka read: “George had cried piteous tears/while I railed against my bangs.” This made me laugh out loud–maybe not so angelic! The bangs in question remind me of a lot of pictures in my own family album of home haircuts where the bangs ended up a little too short, usually right before a school picture. This is just one example of the way Gauffreau brings the photos to life with her poetry.

Gauffreau’s ability to weave poems, even poems with strict guidelines, into very descriptive stories is quite evident in this book. A Goodwill Love Story is a great example of that. She describes her parents’ meeting, courtship, and marriage in 5 lines, 31 syllables, and we see pictures in our minds that go far beyond the accompanying photo.

Grief Songs will inspire you to pull out your own family album, remember your lost loved ones, and think about the stories behind the photos. It is a beautifully constructed book of memories full of joy, admiration, and pain.

I received a pdf from the author and also purchased the ebook. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

Grief Songs will be released tomorrow, September 26, 2021.

BUY GRIEF SONGS

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble

BOOK TRAILER

Q&A WITH ELIZABETH GAUFFREAU

Thanks so much Liz, for answering my questions today.  I am so pleased to review your book, and I’ve become a big fan of your writing.

Thank you very much, Bonnie. I’m delighted to be here. I enjoy following your book review blog. You are a voracious reader!

Let’s go beyond the bio.  Could you tell us a little more about yourself?.  What are your hobbies and interests outside of writing? 

I lived in Virginia for a number of years when my husband was in the Navy. While living there, he and I developed a keen interest in exploring historic sites and historic homes. The Colonial Parkway and Jamestown Island outside of Williamsburg were our favorite spots to visit. 

We also enjoy being out in Nature and exploring the back roads of northern New Hampshire and Vermont. After being away for so long, I was very surprised to discover how many dirt roads still remain.

Grief Songs is a collection of Tanka poetry that delves into the grieving process.  What was your inspiration for this book, and why did you decide on Tanka poetry?

I had no intention of writing a book of tanka until two things in my life converged. The first was reading Colleen Chesebro’s syllabic poetry blog and trying my hand at writing a tanka just out of curiosity to see if I could do it. Up until that point, I had resisted syllabic poetry as being too restrictive. I tried one poem and was pleased with the result.

Then, two months later, my mother died, leaving me the only person in my immediate family still alive. As I was going through our family photograph albums, poems started coming to me, and I soon had enough for a book. Writing the poems was a way to stay with my family just a little longer.    

Tanka poems have a very specific set of rules.  Did that inhibit in any way the message you wanted to convey in your book?  

The confines of the tanka form were actually a saving grace because I had to focus at the line, word, and syllable level. I found those confines comforting, like an infant being swaddled. 

Tell us a little about one or two of the poems that are your favorites.  

One of my favorite poems in the collection is “In the Wilderness,” inspired by a photograph of my mother snowshoeing in a state park outside Presque Isle, Maine. When she initially mailed me the photo, my immediate thought was, “Kay in an Alien Universe,” because she looked so small. The other reason the poem is one of my favorites is that readers have told me it prompted fond memories of their own mothers.

I’ve been a fan of your work since I read your book “Telling Sonny.”  You’ve also had many short stories published.  Could you give the readers a description of “Telling Sonny” and your other work, including any current project you might be working on.  Is another novel on the horizon?  

Thank you, Bonnie! I’m so glad you enjoy my work. Telling Sonny began with an odd little note from my mother after she had asked me to write a biography of my dad for our extended family. The note, on a sheet of lined notebook paper, read, “Elliott I. committed suicide and had a sister Dorothy.” It seemed such an odd juxtaposition of facts, I had to write a poem about it: “My Father’s Side of the Family.” 

However, the poem wasn’t enough to get that line out of my head. It rolled around in there for months, until the inciting incident for a novel came to me: Sonny’s mother put in the position of informing him of his father’s death because he had become an afterthought to his father’s family. The novel tells the story of how Sonny’s parents met and parted, all in the setting of small-time vaudeville. 

Much of my short fiction is set in Enosburg Falls, Vermont, where I grew up. Right after I graduated from high school, I got it into my head that I could be the Sherwood Anderson of Enosburg because no other writer had given the village a voice. Then, many years later, I discovered writer Hildreth Wriston, who was born there. Well! She wrote children’s books, however, so I’m telling myself I can still be the Sherwood Anderson of Enosburg. Youthful illusions aside, I’m planning a short story collection titled Enosburg Stories.

In the meantime, I’ve begun work on a novel about the last poor house in Vermont, which wasn’t closed down until 1968. I expect it will take me awhile, as I need to do a fair chunk of research.

Your first book, “Telling Sonny,” was traditionally published.  “Grief Songs” is a self-published work.  Tell us a little bit about the differences you have experienced between the two.  Do you prefer one over the other?

I would have to say that the experience of being traditionally published and the experience of self-publishing have both been an education at the School of Hard Knocks. I went through my undergraduate creative writing program, as well as my graduate program, at a time when the focus was on the craft of writing. The business of writing and self-promotion was not addressed in the curriculum and barely mentioned in passing by my professors. 

As many other authors have noted, even when traditionally published, the lion’s share of marketing and promotion for the book falls on the author. That being the case, I prefer self-publishing because I am in control of each phase.  

What advice would you give to new authors who are just starting their journey?

I will pass on the writing advice that my first writing professor gave us: Master your craft before seeking publication. I found that advice incredibly liberating because I was able to focus on what I enjoyed most without being distracted by rejection slips. 

Thanks again, Liz!  I so much appreciate you following my blog, and I am so happy I was introduced to your writing. 

  1. If you buy the book(s), please leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, as well as anywhere else you review books. This is very important to self-published authors.
  2. 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!

Blog Tour and Book Review: When We Were Sisters

*Book Review at the bottom of the page

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Two sisters who haven’t spoken for twenty years. One summer to bring a family back together.

Jayne Winters hasn’t seen her sister Charlotte since that last childhood holiday at their grandmother’s North Carolina beach house. Separated after that summer by their parents in a bitter divorce, Charlotte has never forgiven Jayne for not fighting to stay together.

So when Jayne discovers that they have both inherited the beach house, and that their grandmother’s last wish was for them to renovate it together, it feels like a miracle: one last chance to win her sister back.

At first Charlotte will barely speak to her. But slowly the memories of swimming races and storytelling in their attic bedroom looking over the sea start to break down the wall between them. With the help of photographs and letters left by their grandmother for them to find, the two women begin to restore not just the creaking mahogany staircase and the faded antique wallpaper, but their own relationship.

But then Jayne discovers that Charlotte has kept a heart-stopping secret from their past from her. Can she find it in her heart to forgive her sister and keep their grandmother’s dream of reuniting them alive—or are some wounds too big to heal?

An emotional and uplifting read about sisters, secrets and the family bonds that hold us together no matter how complicated they are, from the bestselling author of The Lighthouse Keeper. Fans of Mary Ellen Taylor, Elin Hilderbrand and Mary Alice Monroe will love this.

BUY LINKS:

Amazon

Apple

Kobo

Google

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cynthia Ellingsen is an Amazon Charts bestselling author of contemporary women’s fiction. Her books feature heartwarming characters and strong family connections, often with a touch of mystery. The Starlight Cove series, her best-known work, is available on audio and has been translated into several languages.

Cynthia began her writing career as a screenwriter in Los Angeles and now lives in Kentucky with her family.

Contact Cynthia on Social Media: Website Facebook Instagram Twitter

BOOK REVIEW

Brought back together by their Grandmother’s will and last wishes, sisters Charlotte and Jayne, separated by divorcing parents when they were young, reunite to renovate her old beach house. As paint is chipped away and walls torn down, so are feelings and barriers, as they confront long-held secrets and memories. Their grandmother has hidden letters and remembrances throughout the house. Will her dying wish and carefully planned treasure hunt bring them back together?

This is a sweet summer read about sisters, secrets, and the importance of loved ones. The story flowed so well I read it in one sitting. It is a story of two sisters who have endured separation, rejection, and loss due to the actions of their parents. This novel emphasizes the importance of family, with all its complications and flaws. Full of heartbreak and secrets, but also love and hope, When We Were Sisters shows us how the strings that bind us with our loved ones are still present, even across time and distance.

Four and a half stars, rounded up to five on sites without a half-star option.

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

The Bird That Sang in Color

The Bird that Sang in Color is the saga of a family dealing with death, conflict, grief, alcoholism, and depression. Donna’s father is an alcoholic and she carries that into her married life to Frank, who has a problem with alcohol as well. Donna is devoted to her children and her brother Vince, a talented musician and artist. Donna has long encouraged Vince to get a “real” job, a house, and the other trappings of success, but Vince continues to go his own way. After Vince’s death, Donna finds a picture book in which Vince has drawn different scenes from his life. For Donna, this shows the truth about Vince’s life, and also about hers.

Though the beginning started out a little slowly for me, this is a fascinating story that asks tough questions. What is success really about? Who is really dead and who is really alive? What is real happiness? Do material things make you happy, and are they fitting substitutes for joy and passion? What makes you truly happy? Most importantly, this book asks the reader to look inside themselves to see their own life pictures, assess their lives, and decide what is important and what is not. And for that, it gets five stars.

I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via R&R Book Tours. My review is voluntary.

Link to Buy The Bird That Sang in Color:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Bookbub

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Grace Mattioli is the author of two novels–Olive Branches Don’t Grow On Trees and Discovery of an Eagle, and a book of short stories, The Brightness Index. Her forthcoming novel, The Bird that Sang in Color, will be released January 17, 2021.

Her fiction is filled with unforgettable characters, artful prose, humor, and insight about what it takes to be truly happy.  She strongly believes that if people were happier, the world would be a better place.

She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and her cats. She worked as a librarian for over twenty years and has had various other job titles, including jewelry designer, food cart owner, shopkeeper, book seller, substitute teacher, art school model, natural grocery store clerk, short order cook, food server, street vendor, barista, and a giant Twinkie! 

She has been writing creatively since she was a child and has participated in various writing workshops and classes. Her favorite book is Alice in Wonderland. Her favorite author is Flannery O’Connor. Her favorite line of literature comes from James Joyce’s novella, The Dead:  “Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.”

Grace Mattioli’s Website

Link to My Review on Goodreads