Since a young age Michael Brooks has been told he was best at making things up. If it wasn’t concocting a lie to get out of trouble, it was creating wild tales about aliens abducting cows from the barn, or stories of ghosts haunting the woods that surrounded their farmhouse in Missouri. Now he’s all grown up, earned a degree in creative writing, and has turned his passion for “making things up” into a profession.. 
He lives in Utah with his beautiful wife, their five amazing kiddos, four crazy chicken, too many fish to count, an impressive wand collection, and one or two invisible dragons. He also writes and illustrates stories for younger readers under the name Mikey Brooks. You can find more about him and his other books at

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In a distant  future, all criminals of violent crimes are sentenced to life in the  Arena where they must battle against both man and beast in a fight to  the death.

When sixteen-year-old Calvin Sawyer is wrongly  convicted of his father’s murder, his charmed life as the son of a  senator is changed forever. He’s stripped of his rights, his humanity,  even his name. Now as the property of the Arena, offender CS4521 must  learn to fight in the colosseum. It’s kill or be killed.  
See what people are saying about the book

“Murder, friendship, and forbidden romance in a tech-heavy futuristic world. Offender is everything we love about dystopian literature.”
—Rebecca Rode,  USA Today bestselling author of the Numbers Game Trilogy.
Offender gripped me on the first page and didn’t let go until the last line. Sharp and emotional writing combined with a hero you can’t help but cheer on. It will keep you turning pages with anticipation. Can’t wait for the next installment!”
— Ilima Todd, bestselling author of the Remake series


Her hand touches mine and lingers. I take in a breath, then go for it. Millimeters away from our lips touching, she turns her head, cutting me off. I’m not sure what to do now. My hand feels awkward holding hers. I must have screwed something up. Maybe I talked too much, or didn’t talk enough. I thought a date in the park would be romantic, but what did I know about romance?

“I’m sorry, Cal.” She speaks in a whisper, and I’m afraid of what she might say. I don’t want her to tell me that I’m not the guy for her when clearly we’re incredible together.
I’m not sure why I say it, but I do. “Mary, I like you.”

Waiting, I tense up slightly as if I just placed my heart on the ground for her to stomp on.

“I like you too, Cal. A lot.” She hesitates and I wait for her to give me the crushing blow. There’s something wrong with me, I’m sure. A girl like Mary can get any guy she wants. She lets go of my hand and begins fidgeting with the buttons on her sleeve. Before I know it, she yanks her sleeve up, revealing the blue brand stamped on her forearm.

Five arrows under the brand mark her as a fifth generation defector.

“I’m sorry. I should’ve told you before, but you asked me out, and I really wanted to be with you.” She pauses and the orange sky glints in her moist eyes. “I don’t want you to get into trouble.”

I take her hand and hold it tightly in mine. “You think I care about that? Screw the edict.”

“Cal, you could get in trouble. Your father—”

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JACK NANUQ currently makes his living as a Private Investigator; hence the nom de guere (and no profile photo). Prior this occupation he lived the nine lives of a cat. He has been a teacher, police officer, park ranger, equipment operator, freight handler and even a ranch hand.

He has lived and worked in Egypt, Alaska, Oregon and New York (the State, not the City). He has snorkeled in the Red Sea. Slept on the Nile River and under the Northern Lights (but not at the same time). Walked among grizzlies, ridden his bike under the midnight sun, climbed Mt St Helens, and even  jumped out of a perfectly good airplane.

He and his wife currently live on a small farm near Albany, NY. They share this property with three dogs, three cats, a handful of chickens and two peacocks. He enjoys, outdoor activities, writing, Tae Kwon Do and teaching self-defense.  

Amazon ~

How does a POW become a spy? And why? And what the hell is a GALCO? These are only a few of the questions Carson Nowak needs answers to.

Carson Nowak is a CIA contractor like none you’ve ever met before.  Shortly after George W Bush is elected president Carson is tasked with retrieving a trunk load of documents.  The order comes not from the Agency or even the President; but a higher authority, his Nana.  In addition to the documents the trunk contains a war relic that is tied to a mysterious death just before D-Day.  Tracing the provenance behind this relic triggers a chain of events that not only unlocks Carson’s family history but garners the interest of a South American hit squad. Carson must navigate the challenges of protecting his family, maintaining his business, ensuring the safety of a refugee developing a revolutionary weapons system, and deal with an infuriating curmudgeon.  Along the way he falls in love.  To navigate these challenges he must enlist the help of a pencil-thin code breaker, a claustrophobic corpsman and a Haitian nurse.    

Universal Amazon Link ~ 

Top Ten List:

1.      Like spending time in the woods, with a chainsaw
2.      Like spending time in the woods, without a chainsaw
3.      Love picking up random bits of trivia
4.      Like teaching self-defense, especially to women
5.      Have learned a lot about myself, through Tae Kwon Do.  I hold the rank of First Dan (First degree black belt)
6.      Enjoy sampling whiskeys.  I keep coming back to Jameson
7.     Cheesecake is my favorite vegetable 
8.     Love trying new foods, especially when made with Wild Game
9.      Will never forget the first time I put my feet OUTSIDE an airplane 

10. I will NEVER FORGET the rush I felt when my wife walked down the aisle.

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Raymond Hegsted was Born in Juneau, Alaska and raised by a truck driving Dad. Joined the Army on voluntary draft and served with 4th infantry Regimental Intelligence and Reconnaissance reaching the rank of corporal.

He spent time living and working in Italy where he also got the chance to travel to many other European countries. After returning to America he helped develop a computerized scheduling system for the Oklahoma Scheduling Department.

After ten years of marriage ended in divorce he was sent to Ohio to head up corporate scheduling. Here he married second wife, Dr. Glena Louise Hegstad (A Montessori teacher). He then took early retirement, started and managed 5 different Montessori Daycare Schools (three of them in Flagstaff, Arizona under the name of The GlenMar Corporation).

Raymond wrote his first book at the age of sixty-one.  His wife got her Doctorate in education and he wrote books. He love writing! One of the reasons he decided to write was “I got tired of seeing ever one else on TV; I was vicariously living their life and not my own. Everyone had a story…share yours.” He and his wife and have enjoyed many years with their four+one children…one child adopted them. They have been happily married for many years.

Amazon ~
Goodreads ~

Obsessed with finding a serial killer whom he has chased for years, Salem Grey has moved to a small town in Littleton, Washington. 

Operating as a police chief and from his compound home, he is finally closing in. With the help of his lady forensic M.E., A dangerous and shocking reality is being unveiled. 

Amazon Book 1 ~ 
Goodreads ~

 Dr. Riva Parker Grey, Md and Chief of Police Salem Grey go to Las Vegas where Riva is to be the Keynote Speaker at a forensic conference. They meet old friends, but quickly get drawn into a strange series of murders. 

As the bodies begin piling up the twists and turns fueled by lies, deceit and unruly children make the investigators feel as though they keep making unneeded or wrong turns in a giant maze.


When mass graves are discovered in a glacier and also in the south-west desert of California, Salem Grey is called in to track down the killer or killers.

One of the victims is a woman whom Salem had once dated. Back at home trouble ignite when jewel hunters arrive in Littleton, Washington. Salem’s half brother and his new bride become deeply involved. Faithful dogs, Otto, Fritz and Sarg stand ever ready to protect their friends.
Goodreads ~

Top Ten List (or 11 because it’s more fun):

1.     Being with my wife. I am not a jokster, but my humor is more like Hugh Grant int Notting Hill. I enjoy being with people who enjoy life in a clean and fun way.
2.     Good steaks
3.     Good music
4.     Reading feel good materials (Bible, Harry Potter)
5.     Family
6.     Learning
7.     Teaching
8.     Martial arts
9.     Dogs
10.Writing books and articles
11.Solving problems

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Niki Cluff lives in Northern Arizona with her husband, three children, and Great Dane who also doubles as a pony. For the last four years, she has worked as a literary intern sorting through queries while writing her own books. When she isn’t writing or watching BIGBANG and EXO videos, she’s sketching, playing video games (Legend of Zelda is her favorite), crocheting, and cooking. Copycat recipes are her specialty. She’s also a massive anime fan (Sailor Moon forever!) and hopes to visit Tokyo some day.

Twitter ~ Blog ~
Amazon ~

Allyson has been in a coma for the last nine months. What’s worse, she can hear everything the doctors say. She knows they’re keeping her in a coma and that she’s at the mercy of the hospital’s First-in-Human trial—a VR system implanted in her brain for a second chance at life.

Attached to the VR, Ally discovers worlds unlike home. She can do whatever she wants, but she misses her parents. With help from Harrison, a rabbit-eared boy, they work together to free themselves from Aishwarya, the mad queen of the world. 

But when Harrison wakes up and doesn’t come for Ally, she’ll split her soul to the brink of death to save herself.

Character Casting:

Ally: Dove Cameron
Harrison: Dylan Sprouse
Chester: Cameron Boyce
Aishwarya: Ananya Panday 
Aalim: Michael B Jordan
Midori: Lyrica Okano 

 Top Ten List:

10: Mother of three kids, and a Great Dane.
9: I love Sushi, particularly anything tempura battered.
8: Jurassic Park is one of my all-time favorite movies
7: I love to collect water bottles, purses, and watches.
6: I spend most of my time in the kitchen. I love to cook, especially copycat recipes.
5: Someday I want to visit Japan. I love the culture and anime!
4: Phantom of the Opera is my favorite musical/book
3: I love marching band. I was a drum major in high school and often miss it.
2: Bacon and black olive pizza is one of my major food groups.
1: I love video games. Legend of Zelda will always be my favorite series.

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Leah Moyes happily lives in the sunny state of Arizona…year-round. She is the biological mother of four but claims many more. After a career in the airlines and teaching high school sciences, she has pursued her life-long dream to become an Archaeologist and currently works under the guidance and direction of amazing Archaeologists at Arizona State University. Between writing and archaeological digs, the world has become her playground.

Berlin Butterfly is her first Historical Fiction Series.

~ Twitter ~ Goodreads ~

~ Amazon ~



Promises. Devotion. Deception. Betrayal.

It’s 1966 in East Berlin, Germany. The Wall is reinforced with cinder blocks, barbed wire, tank traps and second-generation guard towers to oversee what is known as the death strip. It’s function successfully claims a steady stream of victims longing for freedom and willing to risk everything to escape the destruction known as the Deutche Democratic Republic.

Ella Kühn now in her twenties, faithfully awaits the end of “spoiler alert”‘s ten-year military sentence, yearning for the moment they will finally be together.

A mysterious disappearance, startling news from the West and surprising betrayal wrench Ella’s dedicated resolve in shocking directions. Her stubborn curiosity and devotion to those she loves pushes her to pursue answers in the face of doubt, danger and even death.

In Deception, book 2 of the “Berlin Butterfly” Series, Ella’s search for light in an ever-growing darkness introduces her to new friends, perilous associations and deadly exploits. Will “spoiler alert”’s love and the belief that he will return be enough to keep Ella on the East side of the wall? Or does heartache and treachery push her to join the family and a life of freedom she longs for?

~ Universal Amazon Link ~



Top Ten List

  1. I am married to one amazing man, who influences many through teaching and coaching
  2. I am a mom of four, grandma to two, and Mama Moyes to many.
  3. I am studying to be an archaeologist, currently working with the top Mesoamerican professors at Arizona State University.
  4. I love to travel! This year I went to France, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, and Italy. Some for Archaeology and some for writing!
  5. I have a bucket list with over three hundred items on it. Half of which were written by friends.
  6. I love the outdoors, especially the mountains and beach (none of which are really in Arizona) but we have lakes and hills that come close.
  7. I love popcorn!
  8. I have driven a race car, bungee jumped, ziplined, cliff jumped and parasailed.
  9. I coached the boys high school varsity soccer team for five years.
  10. I will be climbing to Mt Everest Base Camp with my family next March!
  11. When I touched the Berlin Wall, I cried!



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My name is Robyn Echols. Zina Abbott is the pen I use for my historical novels. I’m a member of Women Writing the West and Western Writers of America. I currently live with my husband in California’s central valley near the “Gateway to Yosemite.”

I love to read, quilt, work with digital images on my photo editing program, and work on my own family history.

I am a blogger. In addition to my own blog, I blog for several group blogs including the Sweet Americana Sweethearts blog, which I started and administer.

~ Facebook ~ Website ~

~ Amazon ~ Blog ~

~ Pinterest ~ Goodreads ~

~ Google+ ~ Newsletter ~ Booklinker ~



A widow with two small children, Nissa Stillwell was forced out of the mining supervisor’s house after her husband died in the mine disaster in Wildcat Ridge, Utah. She quickly learns before his death, he went heavily into debt. She leaves what few possessions remain behind and contracts with the Ridge Hotel to do their laundry and live in the laundry shed and drying yard next to the hotel. She is able to make ends meet—barely.

Being left with only the furnishings and personal items that make up James Stillwell’s estate, Mortimer Crane goes after Nissa to pay the balance owed. She refuses, but he insists she work off the debt in his Gentlemen Only Salon.

Rancher Dallin Walsh has been too busy building up his spread in the isolated mountains of western Colorado to look for a wife. He comes to Wildcat Ridge for a big horse auction. Between Crane and three drifters, he comes to Nissa’s defense more than once. Desperate to leave Wildcat Ridge, Nissa asks him to hire her as a housekeeper. Does Dallin want a housekeeper—or does he have something else in mind?

Hal and Buck, two wranglers who work for Dallin, soon find most women in town are as eager to find husbands to move to Wildcat Ridge so they can keep their homes as they are to sell horses. A woman in difficulty captures Hal’s attention. Another woman finds Buck, but he definitely is not interested in a wife.

Who will go to Colorado, and who will stay in Wildcat Ridge?


~ Universal Amazon Link ~

~ Goodreads ~




A light nudge on the bottom of his boot jolted Buck out of a deep sleep. He scrambled to his feet in an instant. With one hand on the butt of his pistol, he tossed aside his bedroll. It was only when, through his bleary sleep-hazed eyes he recognized Hal, he let out a sigh of relief and settled to a sitting position on the straw. Leaning back against the short wall where the roof joined it just above his head, he raked his fingers through his sleep-mussed hair and scratched his head. “What did you go and do that for? Took about ten years off my life.”

Unrepentant, Hal leaned against the flat side of the livery building near the edge of the loft where the roofline was high enough he could stand at his full height. “You’re getting soft being in town. It’s daylight. Time to be up.”

Buck grumbled as he pulled one boot off and wiggled his toes. “Says the man who spent the night in a soft bed at the hotel. You got to sleep all night without a care in the world. Me, on the other hand, every time one of these horses started to snort or stomp, I got up and climbed down the ladder to take a look-see, make sure everything was all right.”

“Must you take those boots off, Buck? The stink of those socks is enough to stampede the horses right out of here.”


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Ever since magic caused his mother’s death, Ha-Neul, crown prince of Balhae, hates witches and the magic they wield. He has instituted harsh laws against all magic users.

Lisa is a young witch working undercover as a servant in his palace, hoping to gain freedom for her people. The last thing the two expect is to fall in love. But when Ha-Neul learns that Lisa is not only a witch, but the daughter of the Prince of Vires, land of witches, he banishes her. Distracted by heartbreak, he is caught off-guard by a military coup.

In hiding and on the run, Ha-Neul swallows his pride and travels with his siblings to Vires, planning to beg Lisa’s aid, only to learn that she has mysteriously vanished.

Now his only hope in reclaiming his kingdom and reuniting with Lisa lies in the remote Northern Mountains, a country no one has ever penetrated and rumored home of a powerful magic source. There, Ha-Neul learns that a being powerful beyond comprehension has been carefully guiding his destiny. But if Ha-Neul can’t let go of his hatred of all things magic, and accept the new path offered to him, it will mean the destruction of his entire world.


~ Universal Amazon Link ~




Adam Gowans is the youngest of five Air Force brats, out of which his siblings have voted him the weirdest. He loves anything that deals with stories, including movies, novels, television dramas, music, video games, manga/manhwa, and webtoons.

In his mid-twenties, he lived and taught English in South Korea for four years before returning to the States to live, like many LDS authors, in Utah.

His first novel is On Angelic Wings, which has a planned sequel, but the sequel will be released after two other novels that are calling for his attention.


~ Facebook ~ Website ~

~ Amazon ~




Q & A With The Author

We had a party with Author Adam Gowens and many people asked him some questions. We thought you would enjoy seeing this Q&A and learning a bit more about Adam.

1. When did you first begin writing? What made you decide to become an author?

a. I was in middle school, and one of our English assignments was to create our own descriptions of dragons (we were reading an Anne McCaffrey short story). When we read them in class, someone made the comment that it sounded like it could be a book, and the idea to try to write stuck.

2. What is your favorite live-action TV show and why?

a. I love the Korean dramas Coffee Prince, Secret Garden, and Faith (Great Doctor). My favorite American drama is Big Bang Theory.

3. What is your favorite movie?

a. Does the 5-hour Pride and Prejudice count? No? August Rush and Penelope.

4 What’s so weird about you?

a. Lots of things are weird about me, including my family, and I tend to be the odd one out of them most of the time. I’m not exactly sure how to describe how I am weird, but I know that I am and I embrace it.

5. What advice would you give to someone trying to get published?

a. Don’t give up, and don’t count out self-publishing. Keep writing, and one day, you will write something that you desperately want to share with the world. That’s why I went with self-publishing.

6. Do you listen to music when you write?

a. Sometimes. It used to be all the time, but sometimes the quiet helps me think.

7. What type of music?

a. I have a pretty eclectic taste in music. I listen to groups like Breaking Benjamin to K-pop and Mando-pop.

8. What inspires you to write fantasy?

a. Anything and everything. People I see or dreams. Sometimes it’s just random ideas that pop into my head.

9. What types of movies do you enjoy?

a. I like all genres. They all have something to offer. The only things I don’t like in movies is too much crudeness (for my tastes) and tons of gore (never watched Saw and don’t plan to, I prefer the suspense of scary movies, like in Wait Until Dark).

10. What inspires you to write fantasy?

a. I’ve loved fantasy for as long as I can remember. Dreaming up the unknown and making it “real” is as rewarding as it is difficult.



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Women share their stories

by Robin Greene


Robin Greene serves as Professor of English and Writing, and Director of the Writing Center at Methodist University in Fayetteville, NC. She is a past recipient of a cosponsored National Endowment of Arts and North Carolina Arts Council Fellowship in Writing, the Al Cleveland Award for Teaching, the Best Professor of the Year Award, and the McLean Endowed Chair of English

In addition to her university teaching, Greene teaches writing at an annual writing, yoga, and meditation retreat for women in Oaxaca, Mexico. Click on to learn more about this retreat

Greene has published four books —two volumes of poetry (Memories of Light and Lateral Drift), a novel (Augustus: Narrative of a Slave Woman) and two editions of Real Birth: Women Share Their Stories. She regularly publishes poems, fiction, and creative nonfiction in literary journals and has about ninety publications to her credit

The Shelf Life of Fire, Greene’s new novel, is scheduled for release from Light Messages in April 2019.

Greene received an MA in English Literature from Binghamton University and an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Art. With her husband, Greene co-founded Longleaf Press, Methodist University’s literary press

Available for readings, writing workshops for pregnant women and new mothers, and for workshops and presentations on creative writing, academic writing, and grammar, Greene can be reached at or through her website 


Website ~


Intimate and intensely personal, the forty-five first-person narratives contained in Real Birth: Women Share Their Stories offer readers a window into the complex and emotionally exciting experience of childbirth. Women from a full range of socioeconomic backgrounds and circumstances recount the childbirth choices they’ve made and the ways those choices have played themselves out in the real-life contexts of their everyday lives.

Readers meet women from all over the country who speak to us directly––no interviewer intrudes, no judgments intrude, and no single method of childbirth is advocated. Instead, these women offer us their candid experiences, presented clearly and unflinchingly. Medically reviewed by physicians Dr. Richard Randolph for the first edition and Dr. Deborah Morris for this second edition, Real Birth offers readers a plethora of correct information as well the kind of real scoop that other books and health care professionals are often reluctant to reveal. The result is a well-grounded book that reaches across the boundaries of childbirth literature.

Real Birth is introduced by Ariel Gore, journalist, editor, writer, and founding editor/publisher of Hip Mama, an Alternative Press Award-winning publication about the culture of motherhood. Also included are an extensive glossary of medical terms, a thoroughly researched selective bibliography, and a list of resources of interest to pregnant women and new moms

Universal Amazon Link ~ 
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Website ~




Second Baby-Born in the Water

We meet Eden in the childbirth pool, set up in the living room of her home as her midwife guides Eden toward birthing her daughter…

I was in the pool on my knees, hanging over the side. And I started moaning. I’d been quiet until that point. Then the contractions were like every minute. I just started doing this crazy tribal moan, and I was shaking my head from side to side. I remember feeling like a crazy person. So when I started making those noises, I remember Mary and her assistant sitting on the side, saying, “Those are different.” And my husband-I don’t know how he knew this-but he was like telling me, “It’s okay, just try to relax. You’re going to have a baby in your arms soon.” I was just like, “Shut up. You don’t know that. You don’t know if it’s going to be three days from now…” and he’s like, “No, honey. You’re going to have a baby very, very soon.”

Mary hadn’t checked me since that first time, and I remember looking over at her because I wanted her to do something-maybe pull the baby out or do something-after all, that’s what they did in the hospital…like they were all up in my vagina, all these people, and I was on the epidural, and I didn’t feel any of it. They told me what to do, and they moved me into position so I didn’t have any autonomy in that process. But in this process, I had it all. No one was helping me. Eventually, I kind of understood that. I kept looking at Mary, wanting her to do something until I realized, She’s not going to do anything for me; this is all on me this time. And that was a cool feeling.

And the contractions didn’t stop. They blended together and felt like one long five-minute contraction, and I actually felt my baby moving down and out. I wasn’t pushing at all. And I didn’t say I have to push because I didn’t. I mean the contractions just moved her down and out. I felt the baby coming down the birth canal, and I went from hanging over the side to just being on all fours in the pool. I remember swallowing water and looking at Mary, and I was like, “Mary, Mary…” calling her name. And she was like, “You’re okay; you’re okay.” The only thing she did was come over to the pool with the monitor to check my belly.

I remember Sofie’s head came out, and I was like “Mary, I need you!” And I was thinking, When is my midwife going to come over and do something? I thought that Sofie was going to fall out and that her head was going to hit the bottom of the pool. When I felt her head actually come out, I screamed at that point, and Mary, who was on the couch, only about three feet away, jumped over to me and reached down. I felt her push…it felt like on my butt… and she sort of pushed my butt back and said, “Reach down and pull your baby out.”

And so I did. I reached down, and I felt her shoulders when I pulled her out, and I fell back in the water, leaning against the side of the pool and held my baby. And it was just like that. All by myself.

And my son and my mother-in-law were there. Earlier, when I was shaking my head from side to side, I was like no, I don’t want Owen in here; he was walking around and making the pain worse because I was trying to be maternal for my unborn baby but also trying be aware of him, and that was too much. It made the pain worse. So they left the room. But when I screamed for Mary, she yelled for them, and Owen got to see me pull Sofie out of the water, which was pretty cool. Sofie was born in the water, and I pulled her out and down in between my legs, and then laid back and put her on my chest. That second, Sofie immediately started crying, and my mother-in-law was like, “Oh, my god! That’s the most perfectly pink baby I’ve ever seen!” She had these rosy checks and was healthy and beautiful right away. And it was amazing to see that it can happen naturally, without any help. I never knew until I experienced that how physiological birth is-like pooping or peeing.

My husband was right behind me when I was giving birth, and he was crying and saying, “Oh my gosh, you are amazing!” He just kept saying, “You are amazing! You are amazing!” My toddler didn’t cry or say anything. He was just staring at me with his jaw dropped. He was two and a half. I think that during the whole pregnancy he thought I was getting fat, even though I told him that there was a baby in there. At that moment though, he realized there really had been a baby.

We didn’t know the sex of the baby. It was amazing to have this baby on me and feeling so in love with this human-without even knowing if it was a girl or boy, and not even caring. But, Mary and her assistant were checking her, and then Mary was checking me and the cord-doing whatever midwives do-and my mother-in-law called out, “Do you mind checking the sex of the baby because we all really, really want to know.”

And I was like, “Oh yeah, I forgot. We don’t even know, and I checked and saw it was a girl. We had a boy already, and really, really wanted a girl. It was huge for us. I’d only had one dating ultrasound in the beginning of my pregnancy as I became pregnant without having my period because I was nursing, and we needed to know the stage of the pregnancy. I really knew nothing about this baby. I had dreams during my pregnancy that my baby was a squid and that I was nursing a squid. Also, I was not used to letting go of all that control and not checking on the baby and getting ultrasounds and finding out all this stuff. So for us to have waited and then find out then after the birth was huge. And awesome.

A couple of minutes after I discovered the baby’s sex, Mary said she saw blood in the pool and wanted me to deliver the placenta. She suggested that I move to the bed, which I did. I remember climbing out of the pool. Mary and her assistant told me to slow down, and said, “Let us help and support you.”

By this time, I felt perfectly normal. I didn’t feel like I’d just given birth. But they helped me to the bed, and I laid down with my baby. Mary checked the placenta and checked me. Then she asked if I’d like to nurse Sofie, and I was like, Sure. Because of my job and my passion, I wanted to nurse right away. So I put Sofie on my chest and was waiting for her to go through like the nine states that humans go through…blah, blah, blah…like everything I teach. And she bobs twice and lands on my nipple and starts feeding. I cried. I was like, Oh, my god! Babies can do this! Wow! What a different experience! And I thought, I’m not going to have to quit breast-feeding, and we’re not going to have to use the nipple shield. It was awesome.

Mary then said, “Okay, now that you’re nursing, I’m going need to give you a couple of quick pushes and get the placenta out,” and she put a little pressure on my belly, and out the placenta came. Everything went smoothly. Mary placed the placenta on the bed and showed it to me: “This was Sofie’s view, and this was where it was attached.” That was pretty cool because I had never seen my placenta before, and I had an appreciation for it this time.

So it was all pretty cool. One of my really good friends was supposed to be the doula, but I never called her. I apologized to her because we’re really good friends, but I never really needed her because Hector and I were just going through a good groove the whole time. And it went pretty fast. I mean the whole thing, from the first contractions at 10:30 p.m. to the time she was born at 5:17 a.m.-moved quickly, and it was only super painful from maybe 2:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.

Knowing what I know now, I would tell pregnant women to ask their mothers and friends and get good information from all sides before making their birthing decisions. Women have choices. I don’t think that any one way is right for any mother, but rather that all mothers should be able to make informed decisions. Women need to hear multiple stories. Looking back on my experiences, I’d tell women to get a lot of information and only then make decisions about what might be right, be best for them.

I had a lot of doubts and a real lack of confidence before my second labor started. I didn’t know that I could do a home birth without all those medical interventions. But as soon as labor began and I could tell that it was going to be so different from my first experience, I knew it was all going to be okay.

It’s interesting also that my husband has become a birth advocate-which is pretty funny. He likes to tell people about our experience and how happy it’s made us. Although he recognizes there’s a little bit of stigma out there about having a home birth, he tries to educate the women in his MBA program about the process, how it works. And he always surprises them because he doesn’t tell them that’s the way they should do it, but rather speaks about how great it worked for us and how disappointing it was in the hospital. So he’s an advocate now. I think it makes him happy to see me happy, especially after this second time around.



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by Susan Count



Instilled with the need to create, I love building projects and writing adventure stories. I’m a life-long equestrian and owned by a Rocky Mountain Horse. I adore grandchildren, horses, bunnies, mochas, and forest trails.

I’ve published three books in an equestrian series. I write at an antique secretary desk that occupies a glass room with a forest view. Fittingly, it once belonged to the same wise grandmother who introduced me to the love of reading via Walter Farley’s horse books. That desk has secret compartments which hold memories, mysteries, and story ideas.

As a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, American Christian Fiction Writers, and Texas Association of Authors, I take studying the craft of writing seriously. Revision is my super-power.

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Thirteen-year-old Selah’s life is about as perfect as it gets. She has horsy friends at school, and on weekends, she rides her black mare on Grandpa’s farm. Training the horse to do upper-level liberty work is what makes her heart beat.

But one word can ruin a perfect life—moving.

A move would separate her from her horse, so she plots to get her name on the farm mailbox instead. She’s sure she could persuade Grandpa—except he’s overly distracted by a sheep-loving neighbor.

Determined not to let Grandpa’s new sweetheart take her place in his heart, Selah puts her hope in a painted dream horse from Grandpa’s past. When she snugs up the girth and buckles on her spurs, Selah rides to win.

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Sweet Dream’s head flew up, and she spun sharply. Ears pricked forward, the mare snorted in alarm, shaking Selah in the saddle. Selah gripped both reins and made tight contact with the bit trying to steady the horse. She stared down the service road. It dawned on her something was brushing along the crowns of the trees and coming fast in their direction. A red-and-white plane lurched and wobbled toward them as it snapped the tops off the small pines.


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Evy Journey, writer, wannabe artist, and flâneuse (feminine of flâneur), wishes she lives in Paris where people have perfected the art of aimless roaming. Armed with a Ph.D., she used to research and help develop mental health programs.


She’s a writer because beautiful prose seduces her and existential angst continues to plague her despite such preoccupations having gone out of fashion. She takes occasional refuge by invoking the spirit of Jane Austen to spin tales of love, loss, and finding one’s way—stories into which she weaves mystery or intrigue.


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Gina’s grandfather was a French chef whose life was cut short by a robber’s bullet. The only lasting legacy he could leave his family was his passion and talent for cooking.


Growing up poor but with a mother who is a gifted cook, Gina learns cooking a great meal is an act of love. An art that sustains and enhances life.

A world of new challenges, new friends, and new loves opens up for her when she’s chosen to cook for a Michelin-starred restaurant.

But danger lurks where one never expects it.

Can her passion for cooking help Gina survive and thrive in this world of privilege, pleasure and menace?

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Top Ten List:

Ten of my favorite things

Why do I love Paris? It has or does at least ten of my favorite things. I have “lived” as a transient in Paris a few times. That means I stay 2 to 6 months. It is:

  • A vibrant city where la joie de vivre is often evident in so many ways and nearly every day; 
  • A shot in the arm, and an escape into a different kind of reality;
  • A communion with history we can still relate with, a history boasting some of the greatest thinkers and great architecture spared from bombs that levelled other European cities;
  • A veritable tableau where a gathering of people in a park reminds you of a Manet or Monet painting;
  • An ode to light and colors celebrated in artistic revolutions that gave birth to gothic churches and modern art, starting with Impressionism;
  • A lover of art and culture with world-class exhibits in its world-class museums as well as days or nights dedicated to celebrating the arts;
  • Rich with world-class parks with beds and large vases of flowers massed in harmonious colors. They invite you to linger on benches and plentiful green metal chairs under sprawling shady trees;
  • Where you needn’t go beyond your block (or two) to find a boulangerie where you can get a warm crusty baguette in late afternoon, great macarons or tasty tarts—fresh, every day. And cheap, compared to pastries you buy in fancy bakeries in the US;
  • In a country where cultivating food and wine and preparing them for consumption is considered part of the patrimoine—the French national heritage, and;
  • Where mayonnaise and many other dishes and sauces that help make eating a pleasure were “invented”.




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