Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Mollys War

Adventure, Scifi/Fantasy
Novella, second in a series
Molly's War
Johnny Augustine

$9.99 eBook
$13.94 paperback
buy on Amazon

This is a fast-paced heart-racing story with loads of action from start to finish. Jake O’Nell’s sixteen-year-old cousin, Molly, along with her family, find themselves in a mess of trouble far from their Wisconsin Dairy farm while on a visit to their grandfather’s ranch on an island nation off the coast of Australia that turns their lives upside down and inside out, with plenty of tears of both joy and sorrow along the way. So travel along with Molly Haze as she finds herself in the middle of Molly’s War.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Romance Writers of Wisconsin conference

Coming up in April, 4-7, 2019
Annual Romance Writers Conference
The Write Touch Conference: Daring & Decadent Storytelling

Mark your calendars for the 2019 Write Touch Conference April 5-7, 2019 at the Milwaukee Hyatt in beautiful downtown Milwaukee. The conference will feature Maya Rodale as keynote speaker, and Lisa Cron as one of the headliners. 

Registration is now open. Click the Conference tab above for more information.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Larry Ehrhorn Four Months in Brighton Park

Four Months in Brighton Park: Growing-up in the Sixties Paperback

Four Months in Brighton Park
Larry Ehrhorn

released September 2017
Madijean Press, Madison, WI
coming of age fiction

Paperback, 252 pp $12.99
Buy on Amazon
Buy on Barnes and Noble
Kindle edition $2.99

About the Book
Set in a working class neighborhood on Chicago's southwest side in 1965, Four Months in Brighton Park focuses on Kelly Elliott, the kid with two first names. Kelly is a cross between Holden Caulfield and Walter Mitty, rarely facing reality until one day when he is forced to confront the consequences of his actions, when he impulsively makes an obscene gesture at Joe Swedarsky, the school jock and bully. That initial conflict starts a cascade of humorous and affecting dominoes that change his life. Being raised by his single, hard-working mother, Kelly stumbles through misadventures -- dealing with his mother's tyrannical pilot boyfriend, peer pressure, male curiosities, teachers, and friendships. Besides Ma, his guides through this journey include Little Joey, the legless owner of a local deli; best friend Jerry Hogan, Mary Harker, a troubled, mature woman; and Linda Martinsen, the quiet girl who found something likable in Kelly. The four month journey taken by Kelly provides insight, change, humor and empathy, elements of which all people are familiar.

My review
Told in vignettes during Kelly’s final high school semester, Four Months in Brighton Park shows how one boy made a difference to others in his sphere of influence.

Facing life after high school is often a frightening experience if one is unprepared. Kelly, an unfortunately acne-scarred young man with a big personality formed through the influence of his devoted single mom and various males who both taught and threatened him, proves his preparedness through his determination to experience life in full color before he leaves the relative safety of home.

Told in mostly generous internal monologue as noted in the summary, Kelly learns to stick up for himself even though it often pains him—literally. The era was vastly different from today, which may invoke giggles or shock. While I recommend the story for those who get a kick out of teenaged boy coming-of-age stories with all the puberty-driven humor and testosterone-driven shenanigans and language, readers who go between the lines will find a lesson in growth of character.

About the Author
Larry EhrhornLarry Ehrhorn was born in Chicago and raised in the city and its suburbs. After his own graduation (not nearly as traumatic as Kelly's), he attended Northern Illinois University, working summers and vacation holidays at various factories. After college graduation (a whole other story), Ehrhorn began a 33-year career as a high school English teacher (not Mr. Bates from the novel) in various schools ranging from a Chicago large suburban school to several small rural schools in Wisconsin. It was this during this somewhat lengthy career when he realized that times and places change, but students do not. Much of Four Months in Brighton Park reflects not only the author but the more than 3,000 students he taught.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

YA Fantasy from Madison author R Chris Reeder

The Changeling's Daughter

The Changeling’s Daughter
R. Chris Reeder
Young Adult Fantasy
Coming of Age/Quest
December 13, 2018

Black Rose Writing
Paperback $20.95
Buy on Amazon 

About the book
Fourteen-year-old Brynn McAwber discovers a terrible truth about herself and her family and must undergo a perilous quest to another world, to save a friend and redeem her soul.

Unusual things have been happening to Brynn McAwber. A strange little man keeps showing up at her door. She's being watched by a mysterious woman with a sword strapped to her back. And her body keeps...disappearing.

When Brynn discovers the terrible truth about herself and her family, she embarks on a perilous quest, which takes her far from Indiana, far from the world she knows, into the Land of Annwfyn, home of brownies and bwbachods, xanas and zephyrs, goblins and gods.

This is the story of a girl who finds out she's supposed to be the villain, but decides to be the hero anyway.

My review
A most unusual and amazing anti-hero questing fantasy not just for young people has arrived.

Up front caution: although I could watch this story unfolding in epic technicolor and would recommend it to teens with an advanced reading level, I caution parents who care that a fair amount of profanity when a couple of shock value uses would have been enough, some gore, and a generous vocabulary boost this story into a tween/early teen caution level. Some parents may want to check it out first.

For the rest of us, Reeder’s maiden fantasy is a delight. I admit I intended to read enough for a good review, but didn’t look up except for touchdowns during the Packers-Bears football game until I was finished. Using an anti-hero, in this case a typically-misunderstood creature of folklore hiding in plain sight, as a champion certainly isn’t new, but the author’s ability to recombine fantasy elements into a true hero’s journey makes for a fresh, entertaining read.

Brynn’s family secret stems not simply from their traditionally accepted roles but also how they are perceived by others. When Brynn’s best friend Makayla suddenly turns against her, Brynn’s loyalty and character are tested in ways that help her understand and grow into the kind of person she’s meant to become. Makayla’s defection is not the only weird thing happening to Brynn these days. When faced with disaster, Brynn’s options are to do the right thing by her friend no matter the odds, or be the expected generic typecast of her kind. Knowing Makayla would never willingly abandon her gives Brynn the strength to fight not just for physical rescue, but for the decision to live a meaningful, positive family lifestyle.

Told through the eyes of Brynn, the fourteen-year-old main character, The Changeling’s Daughter is a lovely adventure for readers who enjoy a good old-fashioned questing tale with surprising heroes unafraid to challenge even themselves.

About the author
R. Chris Reeder grew up in the Pacific Northwest, attended college in Walla Walla, Washington, and has lived and worked across the country and around the world. 

He has had careers as a Shakespearean actor, an international courier, and a singing activist, but is now perfectly content in his current vocation of stay-at-home father. 

He currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin, with his wife, two children, and a cat named Monster Jack.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Tanya Schmid and her Collection of Zen Stories

Tanya’s Collection of Zen Stories
Tanya Schmid
Illustrated by Janina Uppgard from Finland
October 2018

$9.99 Kindle
$12.99 Print
Buy on US Amazon
Buy on Germany Amazon

About the Book
What is Zen?  The “do” or “Dao,” the way to so-called enlightenment? It is everyday wisdom is mirrored in these 28 philosophical, motivational, often humorous tales of Zen masters, along with Tanya Schmid’s personal anecdotes from thirty years of Zen practice.

These classic tales, told in a language for a modern world, display life’s natural simplicity and magic, their truth flashing like lightening in a midnight sky, their warmth like coming home to a hearth we know so well.  These stories display the paradoxes of Zen – the sage-like beginner’s mind; the target inside, not outside; the way of softness prevailing over hardness; taking Action with the attitude of no place to go and nothing to do; to treat one’s self with discipline and others with kindness – all in the search for inner peace. Tanya Schmid condenses decades of Zen and martial arts training into entertaining parables that make Asian wisdom comprehendible to Western Society.

The book is currently being translated into German and Spanish. All funds from book sales go to their environmental project,
Tanya Schmid 
About the author
Tanya Elizabeth Egeness was born in northern Wisconsin and grew up in Delafield. She is married to Hansjakob Schmid and they live in G├╝ndlischwand, Switzerland, where they run a small permaculture farm in the Bernese Alps.

After years of studying traditional Asian medicine, martial arts, weaponry, healing, and meditation, Tanya and her husband started Schmids' Permaculture Farm in 2014 to create an exemplary, single family, subsistence farm according to permaculture ideals within 15 years (2014 to 2029). They want to preserve traditional animals, plants and ways of living that protect and support the environment as well as provide for their needs.

They produce all their own electricity with photovoltaic and heat and cook with wood. The Schmids live a simple life. The house is small, but it has a guest room upstairs in the attic where, from March through October, a Workawayer stays. Workawayers, or W.O.O.F.ers are Workers On Organic Farms who come to help with farm work in exchange for room and board.

Tanya and Hans have an herb garden, various extensive vegetable gardens, and many fruit and nut trees. In the summer and fall Hans mows the fields by hand with a scythe. In the winter, he chops and stockpiles wood for the stoves. Tanya makes lots of jams and jellies and stores the vegetable harvest in their root cellar. The Schmids have a cat named Pete, a border collie named Kay, three pot-bellied pigs (Zoe, Heidi and Urs), nine chickens and a rooster. For more details about Tanya's studies in the martial-arts, her previous Chinese medicine practice or Schmids' current permaculture farm, please see: 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Ojibwe Coloring Books release

New Release from Wisconsin Historical Society Press

Coloring Book Series Shares American Indian Culture, Traditions

This winter, the Wisconsin Historical Society Press published its first children's coloring book series, Ojibwe Traditions. The four books in the series contain pictures to color, stories, vocabulary, and often also include activities like word scrambles and mazes, to help kids learn more about Wisconsin's American Indian -- and specifically Ojibwe -- culture and traditions. Each book focuses on a different aspect of Ojibwe life and traditions, including: The Powwow, Storytelling, The Sugarbush, and Wild Ricing.

The Northland College Indigenous Cultures Center team, in Ashland, Wis., developed the content and produced the drawings for the series in order to engage and teach the traditions of the Ojibwe people. The idea for the series was sparked by a comment from a college trustee who recognized the resurgence of interest in detailed coloring books for kids/adults, and the way they can be used for outreach education. As a recent graduate of Northland College and a member of the Keweenaw Bay Ojibwe Community in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, writer and illustrator Cassie Brown produced these informative books for the cultures center project.
The series is compliant with Wisconsin Act 31, which directs public schools to teach students about the history and culture of Wisconsin's American Indian nations.

The books will be featured in March at Northland College as part of the Indigenous Cultures Awareness Month. Author events are being planned for 2019 in the Bayfield Penninsula, Madison, Wis., and more -- in partnership with Northland College and the Apostle Island Booksellers in Bayfield, Wis. Check for event updates in the new year.

Cassie Brown, writer and illustrator, is a proud member of the Keweenaw Bay Ojibwe Community in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. She is a graduate of Northland College with a B.S. double major in Outdoor Education and Native American Studies.

The Indigenous Cultures Center at Northland College was created in 2011 to create and foster community relations, particularly with the four neighboring Ojibwe communities in northern Wisconsin, but also across other Indigenous partnerships.

The Ojibwe Traditions books retail for $5.99 each and include:
The Powwow Coloring and Activity Book: (ISBN: 978-0-87020-893-5, 36 pages)
The Storytelling Coloring Book: (ISBN: 978-0-87020-894-2, 40 pages)
The Sugarbush Coloring Book: (ISBN: 978-0-87020-895-9, 32 pages)
The Wild Ricing Coloring and Activity Book: (ISBN: 978-0-87020-893-5, 25 pages)

Find them through your favorite bookseller or by visiting
For retail and wholesale orders, contact: Chicago Distribution Center, Phone: (800) 621-2736 or Email:

Wisconsin Historical Society Press
816 State Street
Madison, WI 53706
Collecting, Preserving and Sharing Stories Since 1846

Friday, November 23, 2018

Gift Wisconsin History this year

Give the Gift of Wisconsin this year.

LOGO: Wisconsin Historical Society

Membership is a great gift option too.

The store is open, full of great things from the annual ornament, a badger, to t-shirts, toys, mugs, and of course books!

The Making of Pioneer Wisconsin: Voices of Early SettlersA couple of the new books from Wisconsin Historical Press that I've reviewed this year include

And a new one from Michael Stevens, The Making of Pioneer Wisconsin, is also just out. The book features a dreamy image from the original mural of the centennial celebration of Wisconsin's statehood for a cover. Pioneer Wisconsin is the story of Wisconsin settlers in three sections told through letters, biographical material and a few photographs and other art. Stevens includes a prologue analyzing cultures in conflict as the European settlers encroached upon traditionally native tribal people's lands in the territory.

The main text is divided into three sections, Journeying West, Being in Wisconsin, and the aftereffects of immigration, or "I prefer America." Stevens chose letters from settlers representing the four main quadrants of Wisconsin; people who came by all means possible in the first half of the nineteenth century. Photographs, woodcuts and other artwork from the society's collection help to illustrate the text and letters which are retyped, not reproduced.

One early informative missive is from the first attorney to practice in Waukesha who removed his family from Vermont in 1838. His letters are almost as a diary of the journey to their new home, partly by steamship along the Great Lakes.

Many of the letters are lengthy, full of angst, triumph, despair and instructions. Descriptions often compare the climate in Wisconsin to the home country, whether it's the eastern US or overseas.

Brief biographies of the letter writers are included. For example, the Reverend Jeremiah Porter was a missionary evangelist, eventually landing in Green Bay in the mid-nineteenth century with a goal of promoting the temperance movement. His letter to a colleague which includes some of his reasons for his passionate attempt to ban alcohol sales is poignant. 
The Making of Pioneer Wisconsin: Voices of Early Settlers is a nice addition to other pioneer collections in local histories. Reading about life from the people in their own words is a moving experience. Recommended for those who like immigration and settlement stories. It is not a long book at 162 pages and nicely laid out. End notes which contains references and an index included.

Other books I've viewed and reviewed this year include:

Somos Latinos: Voices of Wisconsin Latina Activists

Wisconsin State Parks Natural Geology