Saturday, October 7, 2017

Wisconsin Book Festivals Fall 2017

Wisconsin Fall Book Festival season is underway.

Central Wisconsin Book Festival 2017Wausau was home to an inaugural festival event, the Central Wisconsin Book Festival, held at UW-Marathon on September 29-30, sponsored in part by the two local bookstores and the UW extension's fine arts series. The website is a page hosted on the library's website, found here. We'll watch for the festival to come around again, but add it to the list.






The Driftless Writing Center in Viroqua has been reactivated after a four-year absence. The first gathering/reading was held at the Kickapoo Valley reserve on September 29, with a very good turnout. See the website for upcoming events and more information.

Wisconsin Writers Association annual fall conference is held October 6-7 this year at the Riverwalk Hotel in Neenah. Kathleen Ernst is the keynote speaker. Visit the website for the pdf schedule.


Fox Cities Book Festival Sticky LogoThe week-long Fox Cities Book Festival runs from October 9-15th this year in the Appleton area. Now in its tenth year, the list of authors/presenters continues to grow. Visit the website for the complete schedule, venues, parking, etc.

Company LogoSheboygan Children's Book Festival runs October 13-15. See the website for the schedule and more information.






Dueling book festivals continue to challenge the Reader and Writer for time with Madison Public Library's annual

Wisconsin Book Festival, November 2-5 in Madison, several venues. The website has information.








Southeast Wisconsin Festival of BooksThe Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books runs November 3-4 on the UW-Waukesha campus. See the website for the schedule. Nicholas Butler keynotes.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Rob Flanigan and his challenging new ideas


Buy on Amazon:
Sunrise Over Disney, by Bert (Rob Flanigan)
Hardcover $27.95
Paperback $16.95

About the Book:
A man's trip to Disney World sparks a revolution in his thinking that strangely alters his quest for a true education. Ultimately, he redesigns a popular Disney attraction and predicts the trajectory of human development, while settling the long-standing feud between science and religion.

About the Author:
In this world of credentialed experts, the author, L.N. Smith, is not one of them. In fact, his credentials are so unconvincing that he has chosen to publish under a humorous pen name instead of his real name. "L.N. Smith" is actually the abbreviation for a phrase that sets up a joke. (The clues to the full name are in Sunrise Over Disney.) Only time will tell if the joke is on him or on today's "credentialed experts." Bert is L.N. Smith's fictional character, who writes and publishes books written in the first person. He is a fun-loving jack-of-all-trades who traces his ancestry back to the chimney sweeps of London at the turn of the last century.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Lisa Hainline and children's lit


Polly’s Pink Piggy Parlor
Written and illustrated by Lisa Hainline
Children’s literature

Hardcover $18.99
Paper $14.99
Coloring book $8.99

Buy on Amazon 

About the Book:
Once upon a time, there was a piggy...with a comb.
Polly is a lovable pig who just wants to do what she loves to do, and would rather play with her dolls than play in the Mud. With the encouragement of friends, Polly ends up starting her very own beauty salon, to help her friends feel unique and beautiful in their own special way. Polly's Pink Piggy Parlor encourages young girls to not only look their best but to discover what their talents and giftings are and develop them…no matter what anybody thinks.

My review:
Polly is a most unusual pig. Instead of the usual mud play, Polly prefers to brush her dolly’s hair, and fix the coiffeurs of other farmyard and zoo animals. She helps her barnyard friend Sally who wants to be “hip” for her trip to town and encourages Polly to practice her talent. No creature was too difficult to beautify – from a fly to an elephant, Polly used her gifts, pampering the animals with their special requests, dyeing, plucking, curling, and even nail/claw treatments. She became so well known that she started her own beauty treatment parlor, the culmination of her hard work and dreams. The story encourages readers and listeners to follow their hearts and work to achieve their goals.

Charmingly illustrated in shaded pastels, Hainlines a/a, b/b, c/c, d/d rhyme scheme will be sure to have kids begging for another read. Accompanied by an outline coloring book, youngsters can color along while listening to their favorite reader. A unique addition to the story is “finders keepers,” a counting list of specialty items found in the illustrations to help Polly put her shop in order. Printable activity papers are available free to download from the author’s website, http://www.lisahainline.com/.



About the author

Lisa Hainline is an award-winning and gifted graphic designer, art director and illustrator, producing/directing for ad agencies, major corporations, radio stations, hospitals, banks, manufacturers, magazines and other small boutique businesses. 


With over 40 years in the advertising industry, for the past seven years, Lisa has turned her focus to helping other authors self-publish their works, designing some of the covers seen on Amazon. You can see her book cover design work at her studio www.lionsgatebookdesign.com, where she merges her design and marketing experience with her spiritual gifts to help Christian authors promote the message God laid on their hearts. 

Founder and author of http://www.thehealingsource.org, Lisa also ministers to the hurting through her blog, articles and praying with others in street ministry.

Born and raised in Wisconsin, Lisa now enjoys the continual sunshine in California near her daughter and son-in-law and plans to bring more of her own books to the surface. You can reach Lisa at Lisa@lisahainline.com and through her websites above and at http://www.lisahainline.com and http://www.lionsgatebookdesign.com

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Catherine Finger and Jo Oliver thrillers


Catherine Finger
Elk Lake Publishing
May 2017

Print ISBN 978-1946638113
$12.99

Buy on Amazon    Buy it on Barnes and Noble

About the Book
A Dead Body, A Cryptic Clue—Will Jo Oliver Solve the Riddle in Time? Police Chief Jo Oliver needed a little time to herself. But when her escape to Wisconsin turns deadly, she teams up with FBI agent Nick Vitarello, hoping to catch the Bow Tie Killer. Their romantic past and complicated present leads them into uncharted territory as they match wits with a psychopath bent on destroying everything they hold dear.

My Review
The third installment of the Jo Oliver mystery thrillers takes place in Wisconsin. In this story, Jo, or Josie to her friends, is ordered to take some vacation time after a harrowing run-in with a murderer and near death experience. Her vacation ends abruptly on the sixth hole of an early-morning solitary round of golf when she runs after a cap sailing in the wind and traces it back to its owner, buried upright at the edge of an Indian mound.

This is the first book of the series for me. I stop trying to figure out what I’d missed with all the graphic references and obvious romance, and just started to read the current mystery. Apparently Chief Jo has an active romantic life and is widowed, and is well-known to several branches and members of law enforcement. She grew up in Wisconsin and is taking some R&R on inherited property which abuts a golf course. She also has a cabin in the woods and close friends. After a reference to Michelle Obama, I wasn’t sure about racial identity, but that didn’t seem to be part of the story.

Jo had gotten involved in the past with the FBI, and one agent in particular, a gorgeous agent named Nick. She has mentors and friends and also sometime in the not-too-distant past became a Christian. Her golf course victim, she learns, is one of a bizarre series of crimes targeting specific profiles of people. With her friend the local sheriff who has a romantic and lengthy friendly interest in Jo, and the FBI love interest agent, Jo helps hunt down the killer, but not without nearly falling prey a couple of times.

Told in first person throughout, the character is a sassy, lovestruck gal with a reputation of being able to befriend and pray through danger-fraught situations. The romantic angles seem pronounced in this mystery, and those who prefer their Christian mysteries pure and chaste will need to put on blinders for some heavy duty but fairly clean kissing and lots of thinking about kissing, as well as alcohol use. Some of the characters seems like filler, like Jo’s Wisconsin neighbors, though I’m sure they were more important in the earlier books. When using real names and places, it’s always best to use real geography. If you happen to live in the area mentioned in the book, like I do, you may not appreciate unnecessary liberties taken with the setting.

Readers of spicy, dicey mysteries featuring lots of romantic angles and some procedural detective work will enjoy the Jo Oliver series. The first two books  are Shattered By Death and Cleansed By Death.

About the Author
Catherine Finger is recently retired from a wonderful career in public education. Follow her on Facebook, CatherineFingerAuthor, and Twitter, @BeJoOliver.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Anson Berberich and Eggshells in My Omelette

Introducing Anson Berberich of Waukesha and his children's picture book.

34759442

About the Book
In the rhyming comical influence of authors like Shel Silverstein, Mo Willems and Dr. Seuss, Anson Berberich brings you his first children's picture book. Eggshells In My Omelette is written and illustrated by Anson Berberich. It's a catchy comedy story that rhymes about a boy whose name is never mentioned. He is not very picky about his food unless his dish comes with one minor/major flaw, the chef lost an eggshell in his cooked eggs. The boys goes on to make publicly known all the disgusting things he will eat before he eats that.

Children’s Picture Book
$5.99 eBook
$14.95 Print
March 4, 2017
8.5 by 11 inches
ISBN-13: 978-0998794006
Buy on Amazon 

About the Author
Anson lives in Wisconsin with his wife, son and pet tortoise named Peanut. He and his wife love to play music apart and together. He likes to go on long runs and has done many marathons and 5K races. He loves to write books and short stories for his wife and friends to make them laugh. He also loves to make songs that make people smile. He plays guitar, drums, bass, and trumpet.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Contemporary romantic Fiction from Susan Baganz

Root Beer amp; Roadblocks

Root Beer and Roadblocks, book 4 of the Orchard Hill series
Susan M Baganz

Read an interview with the author here

February, Prism Book Group, an imprint of Pelican Ventures LLC
$4.99 eBook
$15.99 Print

Buy on Amazon

About the Book
When God strips away all your hopes and dreams can you trust Him to give you something better?

Johnny Marshall's cancer is back . . . and so is the girl who broke his heart seven years ago. As Johnny struggles to find the will to live and fights his second round with the disease, he finds that hope comes in small packages with an energetic little boy named David.

Having bought in to her parents' narrow view of finding a man worthy of her, years ago, Katie abandoned the one man she'd ever loved. In all the years since, no one has ever compared to Johnny. Now as a single mom of a young boy, she wonders if their reunion right on time or is it too late for a future together?

My review
The stories coming from Orchard Hill just keep getting better and better, if you can call dealing with a lot of illness in various fashion “better.” Lots of emotion and a whirl of events help a young couple reunite under the most difficult circumstances.

Secrets come out of the closet in Root Beer and Roadblocks. Return of cancer for a member of a popular praise band puts Johnny in a funk. Even with the return of the woman of his dreams, he has a hard time willing a desire to grab life. Katie is just discovering who she is…or isn’t, in her opinion. When she realizes she’s turned herself “off,” so to speak, just to deal with being alive and handling devastating circumstances within a classically dysfunctional family, revelations of the stuff of nightmares aren’t as much of a shock. Together Katie and Johnny know they can win any obstacle course, especially with the fruit of their first love, David, and love for another child who comes into their lives and needs them, Khloe.

There’s a lot of ups and downs, tears all around, hugs and passion in this story of forgiveness and grace, and future uncertainties. Told in multiple viewpoints, old friends from the past stories haunt the pages in a good way, and it truly come around to needing a village to make life a good one for each other and our children. Nicely done, occasionally tear-jerking. Recommended for readers of contemporary romantic stories and couples learning to deal with the realities after the “I do.”

Areas in the Milwaukee metroplex, Horicon, Fond du Lac, and a couple of hours in Chicago make up the setting


Friday, April 28, 2017

Sit Stay Heal listen on Chapter a Day May 1-9


Sit Stay Heal!
Mel Miskimen

Non-fiction
E-book $7.99
Print $15.99
Audible $20.95

Buy on Amazon

About the Book
Rowdy, reckless Seamus is the last dog you'd find in a training field. Instead of obediently retrieving, he stubbornly follows his heart, wherever it may lead.

Mel Miskimen's heart is heavy. Her mom, the family rock, the provider of apple pies and stubborn fan of Brett Favre, just died. Even more, her curmudgeon of a father isn't really coping. How can Mel reconnect with an old man more interested in field dog training than discussing his feelings?

Enter Seamus. The hapless black lab throws their grief into joyful disarray. Mel encourages her dad to mold Seamus into a champion retriever.. But as the seasons change, and memories follow, Mel realizes she must face her own fears, and that the road to Seamus's field trials might just heal them all.


At turns hilarious and heart breaking, Sit Stay Heal will touch the souls of dog lovers everything, and speak to anyone seeking a way to connect with those they've lost.

From the Author
My parents had known each other since they were 12, went to high school together, got engaged then married when they were just 21. They had known each other for close to 70 years, and when my mother unexpectedly died, my father was lost. He needed a project to help him wade through the muddy waters of grief. I needed something to keep me afloat. Enter my 7 year old underachieving labrador, Seamus.

Dad was a hunter. An expert when it came to training retrievers to fetch felled fowl. My dog, however was good at getting the newspaper, balancing a biscuit on his nose and keeping me warm on the sofa. Could my father help me train Seamus to be a ‘real’ dog? Over the year after my mother died, he and I (and dog) took to the muddy fields every Wednesday morning. I learned the finer points of being in command, something I wasn’t really keen on, and underneath my father’s gruff and rough outer layer, was a soft and chewy center.

We needed a goal. Something to aim for. I don’t hunt . . . so . . . what then? Vindication for an embarrassing appearance at a Fastest Retriever Contest Seamus and I entered when he was a yearling and I was . . . inept? Yes! I had brought shame upon the family when Seamus and I were kicked out of a competition. He went rogue. I went comic relief. The sting of that moment lingered. I wanted a do-over, no . . . I needed a do-over. With the help of my father (fluent in retriever) Seamus and I entered the contest. The outcome? Well, you have to read the book!

Writing it was difficult – all those feelings of sadness came bubbling back to the surface just when I thought I was done with grieving. I miss my mother. Not the frail, wasting-away version of her, but the funny, quirky her. We are getting used to the new normal – life without mother. Life with a better behaved dog. Life with a father who never called me on the phone just to chat and now calls me and talks for 12 minutes!            

About the reader:
We all grieve. There are parts of the process that are absurd and funny, so when I wrote about my experience, I had to include those parts, like . . . when the funeral director showed up to collect my mother’s body and he had 2 black eyes and an ‘x’ shaped bandage in the middle of his forehead. You’d have know my mother to understand why that was funny. She would always describe people like this: “You remember Alice? She has that hump?” or “Frank . . . he’s the one with the weird ear.” I could just hear her, “. . . and the funeral director had TWO BLACK EYES!”


Humor is a coping mechanism. It’s how I get through life. Read this book and laugh, and weep. It’s the human condition.

About Mel:
Mel Miskimen is an award winning Wisconsin writer whose works have appeared in the Huffington
Post and on public radio. She was a cast member of Listen To Your Mother in 2014 and 2017, her essay about her mother’s love of Brett Favre will be included in a scripted version of the same show.

Her book, Sit. Stay. Heal: How An Underachieving Labrador Won Our Hearts and Brought Us Together, (Sourcebooks 2016) is available at Boswell Books, select Target stores, Amazon.com and Barnes and Nobel.com. It was called a ‘must read,’ by Modern Dog magazine. The book will be featured on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Chapter a Day program in May of 2017.

She lives in Milwaukee with her husband Mark and dog Seamus in their 130 year old, drafty, empty nest they have been in the process of restoring for over 33 years. Of course, she’s writing a book about it. You can find her website: www.melmiskimen.com and follow her on Twitter: @mmiskimen.