How to Survive Editing – by Daphne Gray-Grant… — Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog

on Jane Friedman site: When I opened the just-edited manuscript of my first book, some 12 years ago, I gasped. My editor had covered it in so many red marks, it looked as though she might have accidentally stabbed herself with an X-Acto knife. Worse, I was totally unprepared. I’d spent my entire working life […]

How to Survive Editing – by Daphne Gray-Grant… — Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog

A Whole Lot of Everything #romcom

Book Link

From Amazon:

When a kidnapped social worker dressed as a nun seeks help from a bartender still on parole, a whole lot of everything’s about to commence.

A Whole Lot of Everything is just what it implies – so come have some fun with Molly and Jack, two semi-mature adults, as they try to outwit Molly’s kidnappers, have a naughty little romp, and discover each other’s strengths and weaknesses in an adventure that lasts a lifetime for the better.

My Review:

I was laughing from page one!! This is not a typical romance yet happily ever after does happen in the end, it’s all the parts between those two that had me with the laughs and all the feels. Five stars.

Queen of the Immortals

Book Link

From Amazon:

Swords and jeweled daggers.Surviving their last adventure by the skin of their teeth, Mel and Nora must face a new challenge. Evil Angels, bringers of destruction, have arrived on Earth to wreak havoc on its unsuspecting humans. They must be destroyed, and it’s up to the four to do so.But help is on the way. Michael’s children arrive. A scrappy thief joins the team, and a mysterious Angel shadows them. And there is someone else, too. An unseen force is watching the group, and none of them know why.Can these Immortals fulfill their deals with God? Or will God bring destruction on them all?

My Review:

Wow. Hamby certainly packs a gut punch throughout this novel. The Immortals, angels, and humans interact but treachery lies close at hand. No matter who, or what type of creature, you are, combining these elements and much more sets the reader devouring every single word as fast as you can.

A Rose for Sergei by K. Kidd

Kolleen Kidd

Book: A Rose for Sergei (Nonfiction / Memoir)

Please welcome Kolleen Kidd to my blog. Shall we grab a cup of coffee and chat?  

1. Please introduce yourself to those reading this blog post.

Thank you, Mary, for inviting me to talk about my book. Hello everyone, I’m Kolleen Kidd, author of the true story A Rose for Sergei. I am the daughter of a U.S. Air Force pilot and stay-at-home mother. One of six children, I grew up living in Okinawa and across the United States. I was seventeen when I started working for the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington, DC. After leaving Government service, I worked as an administrative assistant for Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia. Happily retired, I reside in Northern Virginia with my husband and family.

2. Has writing always been part of your life and when did you “know” that it was time to start writing your first book?

That’s a good question. I have a feeling my answer is different from other authors you’ve interviewed. Writing in general, or writing a book, was never on my agenda. Shortly after retiring though, something happened to change my mind. I came across a documentary film about Sergei Kourdakov, a name very familiar to me. Sergei was a Soviet KGB defector I encountered in 1972 while working for the Federal Government. In this case, “encountered” also includes “dated.” After discovering that the movie discredited Sergei’s autobiography, The Persecutor, and tarnished his reputation, I knew it was time to write the story I had kept secret for forty years. Controversy is a powerful motivator. My memoir, A Rose for Sergei, was published in 2014.

3. How difficult was it writing your first book?

With memoir writing the author already knows the story line, so in some ways that seems easy. However, I was not prepared for the difficult side…that I would be reliving parts of my life, the happy and the not so happy, in real time as my fingers tapped on the keyboard. The words flowed once I began to write about a part of my life, I had kept secret from everyone.

4. Have you ever wanted to give up and what stopped you?

I never wanted to give up writing this story, it was quite the opposite. I felt compelled to write about Sergei Kourdakov. I knew him personally; I saw a different side of Sergei that nobody else did. I did have one extra step in the writing process though. Because of where I worked, I was required to have my manuscript approved for open publication by the Department of Defense’s Office of Prepublication and Security Review.

5. Who is the most supportive of you and your dream to be a writer?

Writing was never on my radar. Therefore, I kept my book writing a secret because I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. My family and friends were quite surprised when I told them about Sergei and my book. Hands down, family members are my biggest supporters. My two sisters win the prize though, they tell everyone, strangers included, about my book!

6. Anything specific you want to tell your readers?

I would like readers to know: “You are much stronger than you think.”

7. What is the best advice given to you (book or otherwise), and by whom?

I think I’m not alone when I talk about rewriting sentences over and over to make them “perfect.” When that happened while writing my book, I found myself remembering advice from a former co-worker. Her viewpoint on projects: “It’s important to know when you need to be only 99% or even 98% perfect. Save 100% perfect for when it is necessary. Otherwise, trying to be perfect all the time can hold you back from moving on to projects you want to do. Or more simply, trying to be perfect can just hold you back!”

8. What is your target audience and what aspect of your writing do you feel targets that audience?

I think true stories appeal on a personal level to readers of all ages. My audience is young adults to over ninety. I was flattered when one reader mentioned that my writing style was conversational, that he felt he was in the same room talking with me.

9. Did the cover evolve the same way, or did you work with someone to make it come together for you?

I knew I wanted the simplicity of a single rose on the cover. One of my hobbies is playing around with graphic designs and layout. Thus, I was able to create the cover I wanted myself. When I updated my cover a few years ago I decided to add a small black and white picture of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow.

10. What are you working on now? Can we get a peek, an excerpt?

I have a short fiction story in the works, but nothing I can share now. I’m always marketing and looking for ways to share my story. I like working with local writing groups and assisting friends with graphic designs and editing. An unexpected result from writing my book is receiving emails from people all over the world. I truly enjoy responding to their inquiries.

11. Any last words before we wrap things up?

Mary, it has been my absolute pleasure to get to know you. Thanks again for having me as a guest on your blog. I look forward to reading your memoir, When Angels Fly.

Contact and Links:


Twitter:  @KKiddAuthor


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Amazon US:

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The Monster of Silver Creek

Book Link

From Amazon:


This small town in Prairie County, Montana has been rocked to its very core with the brutal murders of four women. A serial killer, whose calling card is as unusual as it is twisted, is on the loose – and troubled Police Chief Nathan Sommers is bent on stopping him at all costs.

As the body count continues to rise, an embittered Nathan must also battle his own demons as he struggles to come to terms with the death of his wife; he feels her dying was a direct result of his actions and is consumed with guilt. Complicating matters even more for him is an arrogant mayor, a wronged reporter out for revenge…and Katie Winstead, the pretty new owner of the bakery.

As Nathan closes in on the killer, everything in his life suddenly comes to a harrowing climax, forcing him to deal with his feelings for Katie, as well as confront his past in this gripping, psychological noir thriller.

My Review:

The author wrote the perfect murder mystery novel. This is the second book I’ve read by this author and I knew going in that the narrative would be exceptional. And it was…from the start. All the feels are felt, tears, love, sorrow, anger, guilt, and more wrapped in a mystery wound so well that I guessed wrong on the perpetrator. As the reader, you don’t see it coming until it’s in front of you! If you’re me, you take stock of your own life, how it is, where it’s going, where you want to be, and doing it all safely. When a deranged serial killer is on the lose, he’s hard to catch even with great detectives. If you like this genre, buy this book.

This entry was posted on March 20, 2023. 2 Comments

Book Excellence Awards

Dear Mary,

It is with great pleasure to announce that you have received Book Excellence Awards for the following

Book Title: Tommy Turtle
Category: Picture Book – Ages 4 to 8
Award Title: Finalist

Book Title: When Angels Fly
Category: Women’s Non-Fiction
Award Title: Finalist

This entry was posted on March 17, 2023. 3 Comments

Run with the Hare, Hunt with the Hound

Book Title: Run with the Hare, Hunt with the Hound

Author: Paul M. Duffy

Publication Date: 11th October 2022

Publisher: Cennan imprint of Cynren Press

Page Length: 342 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Twitter Handle: @PDufaigh @cathiedunn

Instagram Handle: @thecoffeepotbookclub

Hashtags: #HistoricalFiction #IrishFiction #BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub

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Book Title and Author Name:

Run with the Hare, Hunt with the Hound

Paul M. Duffy


On a remote Gaelic farmstead in medieval Ireland, word reaches Alberic of conquering Norman knights arriving from England. Oppressed by the social order that enslaved his Norman father, he yearns for the reckoning he believes the invaders will bring—but his world is about to burn. Captured by the Norman knight Hugo de Lacy and installed at Dublin Castle as a translator, Alberic’s confused loyalties are tested at every turn. When de Lacy marches inland, Alberic is set on a collision course with his former masters amidst rumours of a great Gaelic army rising in the west. Can Alberic navigate safely through revenge, lust and betrayal to find his place amidst the birth of a kingdom in a land of war?

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Excerpt 5


We moved before sunrise, silently and swiftly breaking camp. We pushed on beneath uncertain moonlight, the bóthar widening out to a more substantial roadway – becoming a slíghe. The lightly armed scouts they call kern padded the hills on each side calling down softly at times. I rode behind Donchad at the head and at some invisible sign or landmark, he held up his hand stopping the host and led us off the slíghe and into the tree line. I could not imagine what he could read in the darkened surroundings that prompted him to move with such confidence. I began to feel fear. What if he had missed his path. What if he had sold the party over to ambush for the grant of a ráth and a woman somewhere in these hills. The darkness began to take shape around us. Donchad’s broad back ahead of me. Shadows in my eyes. Shades coming across the greyness. We pushed through branches which trailed us like the fleshless fingers of crones. We came to a wide, untended ditch, and crossed over where the bank had collapsed into the bottom, green grown with bramble and nettle. Kern ranged out making sure none guarded the border of the tuath. Through the thinning trees, a blue grey sky appeared and as we approached the eaves of the wood, we saw a sloping meadow running down to a stream and beyond, emerging from the mist, the ráth of Áed Buidhe.

The Tiarna rode up and Donchad dismounted. Shielding themselves behind a large stump they spoke in low tones pointing down over the scene below, toward the outer stockade around the ráth. This was where the herd could be seen, shifting and lowing, brought in for the night against the depredations of wolves or raiders. My eyes strayed back to the stump to find the Tiarna and Donchad both looking towards me. The Tiarna called me over with a motion of his hand. I slid from the warm back of the horse, handing its tether to the man beside me, and approached. The Tiarna sat back into the bole of the tree where the heartwood had been eaten away by louse and fungus and he took both of my hands in his. He spoke softly, his voice full of assurance.

‘Now young kelt-bringer,’ he said smiling, ‘I have another thing to ask of you and this to one who has challenged the sídhe in their own house, will be a thing of no consequence.’

‘We need you to open the gate,’ Donchad said, bringing me around to the edge of the stump and pointing to the wooden doors set between thick posts with a watchhouse rising above – a dark square space beneath its awning of thatch, impenetrable in the pre-dawn. He pressed something into my hand and looking down I saw it was a long-bladed knife, the length of a forearm, the type they call the scian mór. ‘Go now, do not think on it. Move before the light strips the shadows from the valley. Run low and straight, and do not fear. If the alarm is raised, run to the river. We will be thick around you before the household can drag their fat bellies from their beds.’

He laid his large hands on my shoulders and guided me out into the open and, before I could protest, he pushed me gently forward. The hillside took me then, momentum dragging me forward until I was running, clear of the trees, through the meadow grass and onwards towards the tóchar. I ran faster, and faster still until I was running simply to keep upright, the stream approaching fast. The pounding of my feet, the pounding of my heart echoing like an army of tree fellers in a valley and I watched the blackness beneath the awning of the guard turret, watched for movement, for a shout, for an arm rising to strike a bell.

As the slope bottomed out, I missed a step and fell, tumbling violently. I lay still for a moment, amid the stalks of meadowgrass, brushed with their moisture, smelling their greenness and listening. A waking dove cooed in the trees, the imperative sound carrying far. No hint of movement in the treeline, though I knew they all watched, too tense to speak. I crawled forward, staying low, and reaching the stream, I slid down the side of the bank and moved upstream towards the tóchar, the water fast and lively beneath me, masking the sound of my passing. Beneath the tóchar, I climbed across the underside, grabbing the beam with my hands and hooking my ankles over. I dropped into the moss and leaf litter on the far side and pushed up the bank on my front, and peered through sparse branches of a blackthorn.

The palisade stood not fifty paces from me; its circuit built of roughly split beams set into the earth of a bank raised up over a ditch. I studied, in the waxing light, the set of each beam on the stretch closest to me. I looked for the uneven line of one against the other that might afford a handhold in their imperfect join. A cock crowed from within and this spurred me onwards. I stood out from the bush, hunched over, ready to run for the palisade. And to my left, not four paces away, a girl stood. A woman. Lithe, pale, beautiful beyond propriety. I had not seen her, shaded by the rail of the tóchar and at once, I realised that the dove cooing with strange insistence had been Donchad from the trees, warning me of the danger.

She did not move, standing tall with her garment hanging, brushing the ground. Her bare feet planted in the grass. Her hair, the blue-black of a raven in sunlight and a basket on her hip. She did not move, and I raised my hand slowly, as if to a skittish colt.

Ail a n-uír,’ she said with an unnerving clam – a stone from the earth. Her words unmasking me. Her curling lip and dark eyes stripping me. I shrank back into the thorn bush, feeling naked and exposed. The blackness beneath the awning of the guard tower glared from over her shoulder, sharing her distain.

‘Please,’ I said bringing my hand to my mouth, gesturing silence.

Her eyes scanned the valley then, probing the margins, looking for more like me. Considering whether to raise her voice. My life in the balance. And then she took a step forward, onto the board of the tóchar. And as she went, she spoke over her shoulder in a low voice, as if recounting something of little consequence.

‘The gate is unbarred. The spears sleeping.’ She walked on, and I watched her crossing the stream and turning to follow its margins looking through the growing shrubs, sorting their lolling heads as a kennel master sorts the hounds.

To trust her word and run to the gate? Into a javelin hurled at my breast? The cock crowing once again, the rooks in the trees beyond waking, the crake of their voices tearing the soft fabric of the moment. Lifting Lasair’s embroidered strip from its place beneath my belt, I put it to my lips, invoking her protection.

I looked back to the darkened treeline, beckoning Donchad forwards with my arms and ran on, hunched low, towards the gate and whatever might come. No shouts rose up, no javelins rained down and I pressed myself flat to the heavy oak doors, invisible from the tower above. I put my shoulder against one to find that the bar had indeed been raised. I eased the gate inwards, taking the scian from its sheath, slipping into the space between. The yard was open, a broad space with few buildings. A second gate beyond, it too with a watch tower, I slammed myself back into the palisade out of view. Hens scratched around in the dusty light and behind a rough stockade of lengths of roundwood, the herd jostled and steamed in the morning chill.

Author Bio:

Paul Duffy, author of Run with the Hare, Hunt with the Hound (2022), is one of Ireland’s leading field archaeologists and has directed numerous landmark excavations in Dublin as well as leading projects in Australia, France and the United Kingdom.

He has published and lectured widely on this work, and his books include From Carrickfergus to Carcassonne—the Epic Deeds of Hugh de Lacy during the Cathar Crusade (2018) and Ireland and the Crusades (2021). He has given many talks and interviews on national and international television and radio (RTÉ, BBC, NPR, EuroNews).

Paul has also published several works of short fiction (Irish Times, Causeway/Cathsair, Outburst, Birbeck Writer’s Hub) and in 2015 won the Over the Edge New Writer of the Year Award. He has been shortlisted for numerous Irish and international writing prizes and was awarded a writing bursary in 2017–2018 by Words Ireland.

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This entry was posted on March 17, 2023. 2 Comments

The ABCs of Cackleberry Creek #picturebook

Book Link

From Amazon:

What’s the buzz around your favorite kooky creek? The A-B-Cs, that’s what! Read along as the critters of Cackleberry Creek surf, shimmy, rock, and rhyme you through a colorful, alphabetic adventure! With each page, early readers (future bookworms) will delight in the vibrant scenes and characters while strengthening letter recognition, pronunciation, and memory. Perfect for preschoolers and emerging readers!

* Contains 34 eye-popping, full-page illustrations, critter-counting glossary, and A to Z rhyming experience!

* Fine-tune handwriting, drawing, and retention skills with bonus ABC and name tracing pages.

My Review:

Volchko has written a wonderful book on ABCs for children and she included striking imagery on each page. Brilliant colors children will absolutely love. Words used for each letter have mopre than one and the letters and pages rhyme. The verbiage is such that now and then there is a word that little won’t know. When I write that children will demand to know what the critters are talking about and they will expect answers. That’s how captivated I think children will be with this book is and five gold stars to Volchko.

Timeless Moments #timetravel #romance

Book Link

From Amazon:

What’s hidden in the dark will be brought to light . . .
When Jewel Wiltshire marries, she vows to love, honor, and obey. Little does she know that her husband’s secrets will push her faith far beyond anything she can imagine. For two years she remains a prisoner until a mysterious stranger appears offering friendship and hope.
Jack Vines has the Victorian home of his dreams–or so it seems until he discovers an intriguing beauty lurking in the shadows. Stunned, he finds they share the house but live a century apart. She is a prisoner of the past, shrouded in a world of dark mysteries. He holds the keys that will protect their future. When her letters suddenly stop, can he unravel the mystery that threatens to alter both their lives forever?
Timeless Moments is a spine-tingling suspense laced with faith and love that you won’t want to put down. This stirring novel seamlessly weaves together two characters in an intricate balance of emotion and hope that all things are possible.

My Review:

This was a great book to read. I was captivated by the strength and tenacity women have when caught between a rock and a hard place. The romance of more than one couple, the things that are impossible are in actuality real. Although hard to fathom, science can’t prove it doesn’t exist. Five shiny gold stars.