Book Introduction: Boop and Eve’s Road Trip by Mary Helen Sheriff!

Boop and Eve's Road Trip: A Novel

Book Description:

Eve Prince is done—with college, with her mom, with guys, and with her dream of fashion design. But when her best friend goes MIA, Eve must gather together the broken threads of her life in order to search for her.

When Eve’s grandmother, Boop, a retiree dripping with Southern charm, finds out about the trip, she—desperate to see her sister, and also hoping to alleviate Eve’s growing depression—hijacks her granddaughter’s road trip. Boop knows from experience that healing Eve will require more than flirting lessons and a Garlic Festival makeover. Nevertheless, Boop is frustrated when her feeble efforts yield the same failure that her sulfur-laced sip from the Fountain of Youth wrought on her age. She knows that sharing the secret that’s haunted her for sixty years might be the one thing that will lessen Eve’s growing depression—but she also fears that if she reveals it, she’ll lose her family and her own hard-won happiness.

2020 American Fiction Awards Winner in Coming of Age
2021 Eric Hoffer Montaigne Medal Finalist
2021 Eric Hoffer Category Finalist
Buzzfeed’s 12 Most Anticipated Books of Fall
Popsugar’s “The 21 Most Exciting New Releases Hitting Bookshelves Throughout October”
Parade’s “Highly Anticipated Books of Fall”
Frolic’s “Ten Books Perfect for Your Book Club”

“A touching intergenerational romp through the coastal South.”
Kirkus Reviews

Endorsements:

Boop and Eve’s Road Trip will touch your heart. A beautiful and emotional story of sisterhood, family, and friendship. From the first page, Mary Helen Sheriff’s lush and lyrical writing draws you in. Fans of Patti Callahan Henry and Kristy Woodson Harvey will adore this debut.”

–Kerry Lonsdale, Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Last Summer

Boop and Eve’s Road Trip is warm, witty, and wise, with characters I loved and characters I loved to hate. Filled with twists and turns and many a bump in the road, this trip is a delight from beginning to end.”
–Han Nolan, National Book Award-winning author of Dancing on the Edge

Meet Mary Helen Sheriff

When I was a kid I wanted to be a model, an actress, a teacher, and a writer. Lack of height, smoking good looks, and talent lost the first two of those professions for me, but I’ve had the pleasure of exploring the latter two.

I’ve spent 14 years in classrooms teaching elementary school, middle school, college, and professionals. 

During this time, I’ve also had the pleasure of dabbling in writing for children, teenagers, and adults in a variety of forms including fiction, poetry, blogs, and nonfiction. I even spent several summers immersed in an MFA program in children’s literature at Hollins University (which I suppose isn’t exactly dabbling).

I’m taking a break from the classroom to concentrate on my writing. My debut southern women’s fiction, Boop and Eve’s Road Trip, was published on October 6, 2020

Great E-Book Deal!

Ebook on sale for the first time ever! Boop and Eve’s Road Trip was just nominated for a Zibby Award for best opening sentence: “Boop loved her daughter to the moon and back, but Justine had a way of sucking the joy out of a room faster than a vampire bat.”
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Mary Helen Sheriff on WordPress!
Pulpwood Queens and Timber Guys August Book Club Selection!
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Sensations Summer Reads

As it appears on Mary Helen Sheriff’s July, 19 Blog

by maryhelensheriff | Jul 19, 2021 | Book Lists

It won’t surprise you to learn that the author of Boop and Eve’s Road (that’s me for the uninitiated) loves herself a smashing southern story.  I’ve put together a refreshingly diverse list here–all southern, all sensational, but so very, very different.  Do yourself a favor and pick up one (or heck y’all, all three of these reads).

Purple Lotus by Veena Rao is the story of Tara who immigrates from India to Atlanta, Georgia to be with her husband Sanjay. Theirs is a horribly ill-suited arranged marriage. Tara finds herself lost in a new country with an abusive husband and an unfortunate lack of self confidence. Eventually, she makes friends in her new community giving her the courage to leave her husband and make her own life in her new country.  Some might argue that Purple Lotus is more of an immigrant story than a southern story, but I’d point out that Rao beautifully captures the experience of someone fresh to the South, that the south is more than its traditions, that the South with its world renown hospitality has room for all.  Tara’s story of empowerment will steal your heart.  Don’t miss it.

Sharp as a Serpent’s Tooths the best collection of short stories I have ever read.  The characters, like June Bug and Eva, are delightful, quirky, and engaging.  The plots are mesmerizing, unique, and page-turning. The southern country setting adds texture and delight with its Pentecostal Preachers, snakes, and speaking in tongues. Mandy Haynes has put together a beautiful collection with a southern voice that drawls off the page. 

Little Tea by Claire Fullerton explores some of the more traditional southern motifs, complete with plantation homes and racial tension. Three childhood friends come together at a lake in Arkansas where an old boyfriend forces them to face the past. Through the voice of the main character, Celia Wakefield, Fullerton explores the evolution of racial relations in Mississippi. White daughter of a wealthy old southern family, Celia befriends the daughter of the black couple who runs her family’s plantation.  Tucked away in the country in 1980s, their friendship flourishes. However, once the friends leave the plantation behind it becomes more difficult to navigate a mixed-race friendship in a world not quite ready for such things. 

If you are a fan of all things Southern, you might also enjoy these posts:

Book Clubs that Travel: Boop and Eve’s Road Trip

A Literary Care Package for Southern Mamas

Where to Eat on Your Road Trip Through the South

Join us via Facebook here:

WEDNESDAY, JULY 21, 2021 AT 4 PM PDT

Author Road Show “Southern Fiction: There’s No Place Like Home”

The aforementioned authors will talk about the South, and what makes Southern fiction!

Free  · Online Event

The Original Post by Mary Helen Sheriff

https://linktr.ee/cffullerton

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

The Maidens

Image of The Maidens

Book Review as it appears in the New York Journal of books

Author(s): Alex Michaelides Release Date: June 14, 2021 Publisher/Imprint: Celadon Books Reviewed by: Claire Fullerton

The Maidens is an intricately plotted, mystery-thriller for the discerning reader. It’s an atmospheric story set on Cambridge University’s campus merging cliff-hanging twists with artful suspense.”

Mariana Andros is a 36-year-old, grieving widow. She is 14 months past the accident that killed her husband, Sebastian, on a beach in Greece while on holiday. A practicing group therapist, she continues to live in the yellow house she shared with Sebastian on Primrose Hill in Northwest London. “But in many ways, Mariana was still there, still trapped on the beach in Naxos, and she would be forever.”

Having met as Cambridge University students, Mariana and Sebastian had a marriage of opposites. “In contrast to Mariana’s privileged upbringing, Sebastian was brought up with no money.” They met when they were both 19, and “In many ways, Mariana’s and Sebastian’s lives began when they found each other.” Mariana believed their love would go on forever, but “Looking back was there something sacrilegious in that assumption? A kind of hubris?”

Mariana came to England at age 18 to attend St. Christopher’s college in Cambridge. She grew up in Greece, on the outskirts of Athens with her sister Elisa, who died with her husband in a car crash, leaving the married Sebastian and Mariana as surrogate parents to Zoe, who is now a Cambridge student. Mariana fears she has lost touch with Zoe. “Their relationship had been imbalanced ever since Sebastian’s death, and from now on, Mariana was determined to correct that balance.”

When Mariana receives a phone call from Zoe and learns something is dreadfully wrong, she packs a bag and immediately leaves for Cambridge by train, where she meets a student named Fred, who is pursuing his PHD at Cambridge, and quickly pursues Mariana to the point of being a pest.

Mariana gets off the train and approaches the prime setting of The Maidens. “And now, as she grew closer and closer to St. Christopher’s, she found herself walking with increasing trepidation as the familiar streets made it hard to hold back the memories flooding into her mind—ghosts of Sebastian were waiting on every corner.” Mariana has her reasons for soldiering on. “She’d do it for Zoe. Zoe was all she had left.”

In The Maidens, Alex Michaelides excels in writing character as place: “Mariana had been afraid to see it again—the backdrop to her love story, but thankfully, the college’s beauty came to her rescue.” “As Mariana neared the college, her surroundings grew more and more beautiful with each step: there were spires and turrets above her head, and beech trees lining the streets shedding golden leaves that collected in piles along the pavement.”

An unidentified body is found in Cambridge, and Zoe suspects her good friend, Tara, is the victim. Within minutes of Mariana’s arrival to her Alma Mater, Zoe’s suspicions are confirmed.

Although planning to stay in Cambridge only long enough to console Zoe over the loss of her friend, Mariana becomes involved in the search for the murderer, when a chance encounter reunites her with Julian Ashcroft, her Cambridge classmate from 20 years before, now a celebrated forensic psychologist, who keeps Mariana apprised of the murder investigation’s findings.  

Zoe considers herself a college outcast, and Mariana worries about her now that her best friend Tara is dead. As Zoe’s predicament at Cambridge becomes clear to Mariana, she discovers the thorn in Zoe’s side involves an elite group of girls from privileged backgrounds who occupy a high strata of scholastic standing, and at the core of this special clique, known as The Maidens, is one Edward Fosca, a sinister Greek Classics professor come to Cambridge from America.

By all rumors, dubious activity surrounds The Maidens, and Zoe confesses they’re a secret society to which Tara belonged. Zoe further confesses that Tara had come to her in fear of Edward Fosca on the very night she was murdered. Alarmed and intrigued, Mariana can’t resist taking the murder investigation into her own hands.

Against a thematic background of Greek Tragedy serving as a template to two more Cambridge murders, the one thing the victims have in common is membership in The Maidens. When Edward Fosca invites Mariana to his rooms for an intimate dinner, Mariana is reluctant, but also convinced that Fosca is the murderer. In the interest of further investigation, she accepts his invitation and finds disturbing evidence in his rooms to support her convictions. Not knowing who to trust with her findings, Mariana calls Fred and the two put their minds together in unravelling the mystery.

Tangled threads and uncanny alliances are woven throughout this off-kilter story. Interspersed throughout are confessions from a troubled, unknown narrator, on whom the lens of possibility shifts from one character to the next.

The Maidens is an intricately plotted, mystery-thriller for the discerning reader. It’s an atmospheric story set on Cambridge University’s campus merging cliff-hanging twists with artful suspense.    

Claire Fullerton’s most recent novels are Little Tea and multiple award winner, Mourning Dove. Honors include the Independent Book Publishers Book Award Silver Medal for Regional Fiction, the Reader’s Favorite for Southern Fiction Bronze Medal and various other literary awards.

Book Introduction: Stones Corner Turmoil by Jane Buckley.

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08TMX13YZ
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Orla Kelly Publishing (January 25, 2021)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ January 25, 2021

Book Description:

Caitlin McLaughlin is just like any other teenage girl: during the week she works at the Rocola shirt factory in Stones Corner, Creggan where she has become secretary to her boss’s dishy nephew James.

At the weekend she likes music and trips into the city with her best friend, but this is Derry 1972. A simple trip to the shops can lead to life-changing injuries or death and staying at home can be just as dangerous when the British Troops raid house to house .

Robert Sallis is a private with the Royal Fusiliers recently posted to the city. He’s repelled by the way some of his fellow soldiers behave; wary too of civilian feelings running high against the occupying army. Accidentally separated from his patrol in Creggan, he’s discovered by Caitlin hiding in her family’s garden. He expects the worse but having seen enough violence too close to home, she doesn’t give him away. Instead she prefers to daydream about her charming boss who has made his feelings for her plain.

A Catholic girl from the Bogside and the Protestant heir to a big local employer….In her youthful innocence, Caitlin believes their love can overcome the triple obstacles of politics, class and faith. Meanwhile Robert, newly recruited to British undercover forces, is closing in on a terrorist strike in the heart of the city centre.

If you love a terrific thriller with individual stories that form a cataclysmic ending then this book is for you!

Meet Jane Buckley

Jane Buckley has been an avid reader all her life. She began writing her first novel in 2017, and used
the lockdown period to finish ‘Stones Corner: Turmoil.’

She lives just outside Derry, Northern Ireland an is married with two daughters: Cassie, who lives in Oxford, and Maggie who lives in Auckland NZ. She is delighted with her grandchildren, Charlie and Alba.

Debut author Jane Buckley grew up in Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of The Troubles. Stones Corner Turmoil is her unbiased account of people on both sides of the sectarian divide, struggling to live and love against a background of chaos and carnage.

From the Author: I was fortunate enough in my previous career to travel all over the world. Time after time and being brutally honest, I got a little frustrated when I’d be asked over and over again, “So tell me, what are the Troubles in Ireland all about?” I wrote the first in my Stones Corner Series to explain and importantly help them experience what it was REALLY like.

Click on Link Below for a Delightful Video of Jane Buckley live from Derry!

Available on Kindle at Amazon


To purchase paperback copies of Stones Corner please visit :


https://janebuckleywrites.com/shop/p/…

Jane Buckley | Stones Corner (@janebuckley_writes) • Instagram photos and videos

(7) Jane Buckley | Facebook

(20) Jane Buckley (@janebuckley_sc) / Twitter

5.0 out of 5 stars Must read, thrilling I couldn’t put it down

Reviewed in the United States on March 31, 2021

This is one of the best books I’ve read. It is a thrilling account that’s based on historical facts that occurred in Derry (Londonderry) during the height of The Troubles in Northern Ireland. It’s a raw emotional and very well written portrayal of the feelings, experiences and the day to day struggle of the lives of all involved during those times. This book is very important too, as a lover of history this story really puts the feelings behind the headlines and pictures that most only read about in newspaper headlines. If you are looking for an important view on this topic, or a thrilling story you can’t put down then pick up this book now!

Reading Nation Magazine for Book Lovers and Book Readers!

Readers and Book Lovers: Stay in the Know of book releases and author interviews with this online magazine!

An image posted by the author.

Editor Mandy Haynes of Reading Nation Magazine.

Welcome Readers, Book Lovers, and Authors

My name is Mandy Haynes, and I am the creator, designer, editor, and publisher of READING NATION MAGAZINE. I’m also the Executive Director of The International Pulpwood Queen and Timber Guy Book Club Reading Nation, and a Pulpwood Queen Author. Read about The Pulpwood Queens here: The International Pulpwood Queens and Timber Guys Book Club – Starring the Pulpwood Queens and Timber Guys

Every issue is packed with great books to add to your to be read list, interesting articles, recipes, art, and surprises. What makes this magazine unique is that every author you’ll find on the pages inside is a member of The International Pulpwood Queen and Timber Guy Book Club – the largest meeting and discussing book club in the nation.

Kathy L. Murphy started this book club over twenty years ago in her hair salon. Her salon soon became the only book store/beauty salon – Beauty and The Book. The rest, as they say, is history.

Y’all, her story is amazing. You’ll find out more about her, her art, her books, and her journey in every edition. – because she is THE Pulpwood Queen – and it’s all about the story!

The Pulpwood Queens: 800 International book club chapters !

Ginger Smith, of the Pulpwood Queens, Houston Book Club Chapter, author Johnnie Bernhard ( Sisters of the Undertow and others) ) Yours Truly, Kim Moon of the Pulpwood Queens Houston Chapter, and author Michell Cox at far right, author of the Henrietta and Inspector Howard Mystery Series! The 2020, Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend in Jefferson Texas!

Join the Club!

Get to know Kathy L Murphy, the Pulpwood Queen, and The International Pulpwood Queen and Timber Guy Book Club Reading Nation – the book club she started over 20 years ago – “where wearing tiaras is mandatory and reading our good books is the only rule.”

She is the author of “The Pulpwood Queens’ Tiara Wearing, Book Sharing Guide to Life” and “The Pulpwood Queens Celebrate 20 Years!”

The International Pulpwood Queen and Timber Guy Book Club Reading Nation is the biggest meeting and discussing book club in the world – with 800 chapters, including chapters in 20 foreign countries.

Membership information can be found here.

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Authors Reavis Wortham; Kathy Murphy the Pulpwood Queen! Reader and Writer Betty Hunt Koval; author Lisa Wingate ( Before We Were Yours and others) Author Julie Cantrell ( Perennials and others) Bren McClain ( One Good Mama Bone.)

The Pulpwood Queen, Kathy L. Murphy!

Pulpwood Queens – Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulpwood_Queens

The Pulpwood Queens is a meet-and-greet book club founded in early 2000 in Jefferson, Texas, by Kathy L. Patrick in a combined beauty salon and bookstore, Beauty and the Book. In a joint effort with Random House, the club spawned an Internet book club show that began in January 2011, Beauty and the Book: Where Reading is Always in Style.

Follow Reading Nation Magazine here:

https://readingnationmagazine.com/

https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/1165911-reading-nation-magazine

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Book Release: Fresh Scars by Donna Mumma

Fresh Scars by [Donna Mumma]

Time heals all wounds. . . or does it?

 Asia Butler and her sister, Ivy Butler Morelli, have not spoken in fifteen years. The two endured brutal emotional abuse from their mother, Veronica, and want only to forget the past . . . and each other.

But the past comes calling when they each receive a letter from Veronica’s attorney promising much needed cash if they will fulfill her dying wish and consent to cleaning out their childhood home. Asia and Ivy reluctantly return to their hometown of Emerson, Florida, only to discover the house is a hoarder’s nightmare filled with strange mementos and clues hinting that they were not the only victims of Veronica’s sadistic nature. Can this new pain be the path to their healing? Will they be able to choose forgiveness over resentment?


Editorial Reviews

Review

“A powerful story about the wounds we carry, and the courage it takes to let them go.” –Zena Dell Lowe, The Storytellers Mission

Donna Mumma’s debut novel, Fresh Scars, is a moving and poignant tale that shows just how strong the human spirit can be. “This one touches all the emotions, and readers may very well find the courage to face a few of their own difficulties after reading it! Don’t miss this well-crafted and redemptive story!”
–Jennifer Uhlarik
2020 Will Rogers Medallion Award Finalist, Sand Creek Serenade

Fresh Scars immerses readers in the skin of characters who battle the trauma of childhood abuse and discover the spiritual strength to overcome it. Author Donna Mumma crafts an authentic depiction of anxiety, sibling rivalry among survivors, and the triggers which draw each sister back to relive the past. The tangles of psychological realism weave themselves around a compelling mystery while the drama proves equally captivating. I felt entwined with the characters until reaching the perfect and satisfying ending. I couldn’t recommend Mumma’s novel more highly.”
–Tina Yeager, LMHC, Life Coach, Author, Speaker, and Host of the Flourish-Meant Podcast –This text refers to the paperback edition.

About the Author

Meet Donna

I am a native Floridian, farm kid and dreamer. I was blessed with two wonderful parents who taught me how stories enable us to learn, escape, connect and be inspired.

My writing inspiration also comes from the folks I knew in my growing up years. I came from a small town in Central Florida filled with some of the greatest storytellers. Tales of hunting trips gone awry, flipped airboats, eccentric relatives and beloved dogs seasoned my childhood.

From the stories of my parents and neighbors, I learned two important lessons. First, life comes with sunshine and hurricanes. Second, with God’s help, we can flourish in both.

My parents had a saying. It’s not important that you get knocked down but that you get back up. I write stories about people who fall, stand and press forward with God’s help.

I invite you to come with me on this writing journey. My hope is somewhere along the way we can discover all the Good Lord intended when He set us on this path.

Donna Mumma has been writing since age eight.  She has won awards for speculative and women’s fiction as well as devotions. An avid believer in education, she holds a BAE and M.Ed. in Elementary Education. She serves as a chapter mentor for Word Weavers International. Donna now lives on the West Coast of Florida with her husband. She is the mom of two college boys and one energetic collie named Duke. Her favorite things are faith, family, alligators, a warm cup of tea and sunflowers

Blog – Donna Mumma

https://www.instagram.com/dmumma748/

Donna Mumma (Author of Fresh Scars) | Goodreads

Congratulations to Donna Mumma on the release of her debut novel with Firefly Southern Fiction!

Dreaming in a Time of Dragons by G. Claire

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Congratulations to Author/Artist G. Claire on Dreaming in a Time of Dragons!

Book Description:

-When is a dragon not a dragon?-When is a prince not a prince?-When do you burn evidence of your royalty and run, disguised as a boy? Eva finds her royal birthright has come at a high price, one that could cost her life. In the middle of dark intrigue, she must decide what to do: Trust the words of a mysterious traveler; or stay in the castle, hoping to restore the ruined Kingdom of Dunmoor. She knows one day she must face a danger sprung to life from the most frightening tale she knows . . . or forever be looking over her shoulder. Her choice means everything. For her. For the Kingdom. This story is stitched between the lines of supernatural realism, with medieval fairytale underpinnings.

I Love This Photograph of G. Claire at work!

May be an illustration of text that says '"A fable for the Annie Mcdonnell ages...' World of the Write Review మ Voa 'Dreaming in a Time of Dragons' G. Claire'

Born and raised in Florida, I have loved writing and drawing since I held the first crayon and decorated our living room wall. My parents quickly realized I would need large paper and supervision – and lots of both.

I grew up, married, and moved to Atlanta. There, working as an artist/illustrator, my work was published and bought by private and corporate collectors.

Later, during my career as an art teacher for middle-grade and high school students, I felt the tug to write. After going to seminars and devouring books on the craft of writing, I took the plunge and joined a writers’ group. Creating new worlds and characters to inhabit them is now my place of bliss.

*   *   *

Claire currently lives in the metro Atlanta area with her husband, and is working on Dreaming in a Time of Dragons, an epic adventure.

May be an image of text that says 'DREAMING "DRAGONS ATIME G. CLAIRE'

Home – G. Claire (gclaire.com)

Reviews: I cannot remember my kids not I bring this enthralled in a book as much as we were this one. Ever. We struggled to stop reading every night and go to bed at a decent time, we couldn’t put it down. My daughter says she’s never envisioned anything in her imagination like she did while listening to me read this aloud. The author isn’t only an artist with images but also with words, invoking such beautiful imagery in the imagination. The good messages learned through this adventure are so beautifully and powerfully interwoven into the story. Learning to trust God, listen to intuition/the voice, bravery and forgiveness…there’s so much I could say but don’t want to spoil it. We are EAGERLY awaiting the next book and will probably reread this one while we wait. My daughter has been telling all her friends about it and how they HAVE to read it.

I loved this book! It was a great escape from all that’s going on in our world today. This book spans generations where pre-teen, teen, and adults alike will all enjoy this book! You can even read it to your children! It’s worth your time! Plus, I love the fact that the author also did the drawings and cover! She is multi-talented! Don’t hesitate to buy and read it!

I loved this book!! It was recommended to me, and now my niece is reading it. The chapters are short and story moves quickly. I liked the mystery and than the discovery of plot line. It was so clever. The drawings in it were also very well done.
I could easily see this been made into a movie…I really look forward to that!

Customer image
May be a closeup
Daydreaming while holding colored pencils.
Thinking this might be a real place. . . Somewhere.

Follow G. Claire on Facebook:

(1) Gaylen Brainard | Facebook

Dreaming in a Time of Dragons is Available Where Books are Sold!

An Irish Story

Every March, I look forward to St. Patrick’s Day because it triggers the memory of when I lived on the west coast of Ireland. As an American with 48% Irish DNA, I felt right at home in Inverin, which is a small village in Connemara, 2.7. miles up the road from the village of Spiddal, the next significant town being Clifden, fifty miles or so up the same road.

I lived in Ireland for more than a year and loved every minute of it.. Connemara is a land separated into geometric prisms by grey-stone walls leading down to the rock encrusted shores of the Atlantic on one side of the coast road and bog-land that stretches out forever on the other. Alongside the novelty of discovering Ireland was a curious sense of familiarity that gave way to a sense of belonging. Between the time I arrived in Ireland and the time I left, I managed to ingratiate myself into the rhythm of a land that has more soul and character than any place I’d ever imagined.

In an Inverin field.

Inverin really isn’t much more than a stretch of the coast road at the gateway to the Gaeltacht, which is an area on the west coast of Ireland where Irish is spoken as a first language. Inverin is moody, pastoral, a bit desolate, and those that reside there have deep generational ties. Inverin is 13 miles up the coast road from Galway City. Here are some photographs to give you an idea of Inverin’s atmosphere:

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I lived within a short walk of this graveyard. It’s down a gravel road not far from The Centra, which, for all intent and purposes, is the lone gas station/grocery store in Inverin. I have a thing about graveyards that’s hard to explain. They speak to me of the significance of human existence–of love and life and history, with indelible, reverential resonance indicative of a region’s culture. Ireland takes its cemeteries seriously, and walking through an Irish graveyard has always given me an anchored sense of place. They are lonely, haunting, and beautiful, and what I love about the graveyard pictured above is that the headstones all face the sea.

Inverin was my home base, and during the week, I took the bus from Inverin into Galway, where I worked on New Road at the Galway Music Centre. Galway is a college town, which makes it feel youthful and vibrant. Here are some photographs that illustrate my point:

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Shop Street.
Taaffes is a 150-year-old pub in a 400-year-old building on Galway’s Shop Street.
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St. Nicholas Cathedral, Galway.

The Claddagh, Galway, a port for anglers on Galway Bay.

As a writer by nature, I walk through life with a running commentary in my head, and keep a journal. I took the experience of living in Ireland and used it as a basis to write a novel about a single American female who leaves the record business in Los Angeles and relocates to rural Ireland, where she meets an Irish traditional musician who won’t come closer nor completely go away. The novel is titled “Dancing to an Irish Reel.” I went out of my way not to patronize anything about Ireland, particularly its people. I wanted to refrain from bringing an American frame of reference to the book because I felt it had been done before and somehow cheated what I wanted to be the point of the story, which concerns the ambiguity of a budding love relationship, with its attendant excitement, hope and doubt. On the one hand, this story could have happened anywhere (I know of very few people who haven’t been thrown into confusion as they navigate the minefield of new found attraction) but because this story takes place in Ireland, I had the opportunity to highlight a setting in possession of unfathomable beauty, with a history of cultural nuances worth the singing of deep praise. In writing “Dancing to an Irish Reel,” I did what all novelists do: tell about how they find the world through the vehicle of one painstakingly crafted case in point story.

In anticipation of St. Patrick’s Day, there is a Goodreads Giveaway running until March 20 of Dancing to an Irish Reel.

The Goodreads Give Away Link for Dancing to an Irish Reel is here: https://bit.ly/38aOEDm

There’s another link to the giveaway as well as my social media platforms, and I’d love to align with you there!

https://linktr.ee/cffullerton

And this will be fun, as well as unprecedented! On Sunday, March 14, I’ll have the immense pleasure of being a part of a Facebook, multiple book page St. Patrick’s Day Parade. I’ll be in conversation with Irish author, Billy O’Callaghan, at noon, Eastern Standard Time on the Facebook page, The Write Review. We plan to talk about Irish culture, the influence of Ireland on our writing, and whatever else comes to mind. I hope to see you there! You can find all the book pages involved in this celebration on the graphic below, so if you’re on Facebook, simply go to the book pages to join in the fun!

A Mariner’s Tale by Joe Palmer

My Book Review:

Sixty-four-year-old, tattooed, and ponytailed Jack Merkel is haunted by past tragedies, ten years gone. A retired career merchant seaman, he’s a seasoned mariner, with “a physical presence as sturdy as an oak” and “the hard-bitten look of an old salt.” Jack lives and works on Morgan’s Island in Ocean County Florida, with his Great Dane, Pogey. A third generation local, he owns a combined North Florida boatyard/marina, with a view of the Intracoastal Waterway. Used to salt air and capricious weather, his life is defined by the accoutrements that make up a mariner’s life. His is a simple life, and looking through his old, Jeep Wagoneer’s window, Jack is spellbound by “the spartina grass, the color of emeralds and worn like a monarch’s cloak in spring and summer, as well as the dull brown peasant’s rags that clad it in the winter.” Appreciative of, and in rhythm with his environment where the marsh’s fragrance is “a distillation that reminded him of the smell of fresh oysters,” and he hears “the maniacal laughter of marsh hens,” Jack can’t imagine living anywhere else.

When an indigent youth vandalizes the cherished sailboat Jack’s been building for the past ten years, Jack’s life takes a twist when he takes the high road. Rather than pressing charges, he reconsiders, when he “looked into the boy’s eyes and saw someone who’d never had a break.”  

Local Circuit Court Judge, J. Harlan Kicklighter is Jack’s good friend, and when Jack makes a plea to personally rehabilitate eighteen-year-old Doug Eleazer, who is charged with resisting arrest, criminal mischief, and petty theft for what he’s done to Jack’s boat, the judge agrees to implement a part-time, work-release program. Bringing Doug out of his shell is a process, but Jack is determined to bring out the good in him, for reasons having everything to do with the tragedy of his family’s past.

Margie Waller is a forty-something, recent divorcee with an athletic figure and audacious laugh. The mother of the two teenage boys on board, she owns and captains her forty-foot, custom-made sailboat named Starshine, which she docks with its damaged rudder at Jack’s marina shortly before Hurricane Brenda is expected to wreak havoc on the area.  

 Unreconciled with and haunted by the ghosts of his past, Jack Merkel is hesitant to let down his guard with Margie, but when Hurricane Brenda lands, the two are thrown together and, in conjunction with Doug and Margie’s two sons, the framework is laid for the possibilities of a blended family.

Author Joe Palmer’s clear knowledge of all things pertaining to mariner life shines throughout this seafaring story, as does his great gift for character development and distinct world-building. Hope lures the reader through this well-paced, humanistic story of characters trying to connect, while seeking triumph over the unlucky parts of their personal narratives. In a wonderfully descriptive setting so finely part and parcel to the story as to exemplify the idea of character as place, Joe Palmer’s A Mariner’s Tale will appeal to readers of Nicholas Sparks and Robert James Waller, in that the beautiful water-front story touches the heart in a way that resonates.  

Available where books are sold: Publisher : Koehler Books (October 25, 2020)

Photographs courtesy of Joe Palmer.

Praise for A Mariner’s Tale:

A Mariner’s Tale is a stunning debut: a seafaring novel rich with lush imagery and colorful characters from an exciting new voice in Southern fiction. With deft narrative skill, the author takes the protagonist, a cynical middle-aged mariner, and his protege, a troubled young man, on a voyage of self-discovery that begins on an island in Florida and ends in an Irish fishing village. You don’t want to miss this beautifully crafted page-turner!”

– Cassandra King, bestselling author of Tell Me a Story: My Life with Pat Conroy

“Hard-edged and gripping.  An intriguing mix of hope and fear.  Fans of Pat Conroy’s evocative novels are going to love this stirring debut.”

– Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author of The Warsaw Protocol

“A Mariner’s Tale is a richly rendered story scented with sea spray and filled with salty characters seeking grace, mercy and second chances. Palmer writes with heart and authenticity, bringing to life an unfortgettable crew worthy of the love and redemption we each hope to find in this life.” –

Nicole Seitz, author of The Cage-Maker

The Author!

Meet Joe Palmer

A native of Waycross, Georgia, Joe Palmer is an award winning former newspaper reporter and longtime columnist, whose folksy newspaper column, Cup of Joe, ran for ten years in the Fernandina Beach News-Leader with a large and enthusiastic following.

He’s written investigative reporting and feature stories for the Bradenton Herald, Macon Telegraph and News and the Florida Times-Union, where he wrote a long series of articles about a plague that was killing massive numbers of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins on the East coast in 1987.

A Navy veteran and medical corpsman, Joe went on to work as a surgeon’s assistant at a major medical center in Jacksonville, Florida, while attending college for his BA in English with an emphasis on literature. He parlayed his investigative reporting skills into a 20-year career as an investigator for the Federal Public Defender’s Office.

A sailor, he got the inspiration for his debut novel, A Mariner’s Tale, while doing sweat labor one scorching August afternoon on an antique sailboat he and his wife painstakingly restored.

Retired since 2012, he spends his days writing, sailing, beach bumming and traveling. He credits his love of writing to his high school English and Creative Writing teacher, Elaine Stephens nee Thomas, whom he says woke his muse. He lives in Fernandina Beach, Florida with his wife, Pam and a room-sized Great Dane named Harley.

Joe Palmer’s Website: Bookstores/Libraries – Joe Palmer (joepalmerauthor.com)

https://linktr.ee/cffullerton

Release Day: A Dance in Donegal by Jennifer Deibel!

A Dance in Donegal
Coming Febrauary 2, 2021 from Revell

All of her life, Irish-American Moira Doherty has relished her Irish mother’s descriptions of her homeland. When her mother dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1920, Moira accepts the challenge to fulfill her mother’s wish that she become the teacher in Ballymann, the homeland village in Donegal, Ireland.

After an arduous voyage, Moira arrives to a new home and a new job in an ancient country. Though a few locals offer a warm welcome, others are distanced by superstition and suspicion. Rumors about Moira’s mother are unspoken in her presence, but threaten to derail everything she’s journeyed to Ballymann to do. Moira must rely on the kindness of a handful of friends—and the strength of an unsettlingly handsome thatcher who keeps popping up unannounced. While Moira learns to trust Sean and his intentions, she struggles to navigate a life she’d never dreamed of . . . but perhaps was meant to live.

Dance in Donegal

About The Author:

I’m your typical American mom, working, raising kids, and loving my hubby…I’ve just been blessed to do some of it in Vienna, Austria and the west of Ireland. However, after a decade of life overseas, we have settled back in America–in sunny Arizona!

I currently teach middle school English, and when I’m not working on school things, I’m spending time with my incredible family–my husband Seth and our 3 awesome kids–and writing.

My debut novel, A Dance in Donegal, releases from Revell February 2, 2021. You can read more about that here.

I write stories that explore home through the lens of faith, family, and culture–with the beauty and depth of Ireland coloring much of it.

ADD A DANCE IN DONEGAL ON GOODREADS!

Reader Review:

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book: Reviewed in the United States on February 2, 2021

A Dance in Donegal by Jennifer Deibel is a great historical fiction that has a wonderful plot, romance, a stunning backdrop with a dash of mystery thrown in to create an enjoyable read.

The book starts off in Boston during the 1920s where we meet Moira whom has just graduated from school to become a teacher. She ends up on a quest to her mother’s hometown village of Ballymann in Donegal, Ireland. Here Moira encounters so many new things: a different culture, societal culture and customs, the local inhabitants (some more welcoming then others), mystery surrounding her mother’s past presence here that is shrouded in questions and whispers, and possibly even love.

I love the awakening of Moira throughout this novel. Learning her profession, making friends, finding a partner/romance, facing questions of where she came from, who that makes her, what is her purpose in life, where does she fit in, and where is her home. I really enjoyed her finding herself, her place, path, and solidifying her faith. I also loved how the author was able to draw the reader in with the MC on her journey to the end of the novel. I really wanted to see how it would all wrap up.

I enjoyed the complex and rich array of characters. They were well thought out and added perfectly to my favorite part of the novel:

The location: Ireland. It was wonderful to be able to read and visualize such a beautiful place. Taking a peak into this rich culture, the people, customs, religion, daily lives, the food (oh my the food!), and the stunning landscapes at times took my breath away. The inclusion of the wonderful Irish Gaelic really added to the story as well. It is such a beautiful language. The author has a real talent in being able to give the reader a fully immersive experience to make one feel as if they were actually there right along with her, experiencing it all for the first time together. I absolutely loved imagining life within the villages of this gorgeous country within the early part of the 20th century. I learned so much about this time period there just from reading this novel.

An excellent book that has me yearning to travel to Ireland myself to find out where my own Grandmother is from.

Order A Dance in Donegal here:

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