Friday, March 9, 2018

debut inspirational fiction from Emily Conrad

Justice by Emily Conrad

Christian romance
Pelican Ventures
March 2018

Ebook $4.99

Buy on Amazon 

About the Book
Jake thought he was meant to marry Brooklyn, but now she's pregnant, and he had nothing to do with it. As Brooklyn wrestles with questions about what her pregnancy means and how it will affect her relationship with Jake, she can't bring herself to tell him the truth. To make matters worse, if the man who owns the bookstore across from Jake's coffee shop has anything to do with it, the baby will ruin them both. Can Jake and Brooklyn overcome the obstacles thrown in their path, and finally find the truth in God's love and in each other?

My review
At the core, this story’s title is the one-word bare truth of each character’s reality. Revenge, payback, responsibility, love, forgiveness, and loss all expose the depth of faith and steer the course toward Justice.

Friends from childhood, Jake and Brooklyn can’t seem to figure out what being in love with each other might look like. Their buddies and parents all expected them to marry long since, but Jake and Brooklyn explore relationships with others while they learn to navigate the scary world of responsible adulthood. When the time is finally right for them to move toward each other, crisis inflamed with outside jealousy steps between them. It takes ever-maturing belief to weather the storms, and a lot of help from their friends in an attempt to step back and find the bigger picture.

Jake is a driven young man, full of life and faith, overcoming the devastating death of his father and rising above to operate a popular business while making a difference, or trying to, in the lives of young people at church. Jake tries to follow in the footsteps of his bigger-than-life father, as well as fight the good fight of faith and hormones in the teenagers he wants to influence. He just can’t seem to work up the courage to show his longtime female buddy how he feels. Brooklyn is a na├»ve young woman who tortures herself by living in the shadow of her dysfunctional and cruel mother. She tries to convince herself that she’s not good enough for anyone, especially God, but has the sense to reach out to a wonderful group of women role models and finally, the person she’s leaned on for most of her life, Jake. When everything goes south, it’s grow up or shut up time. Jake falls back on his deep-seated anger while Brooklyn begins to understand the meaning and sacrifice of forgiveness. Watching their journeys crisscross and wander is a delight. Well-done.

Most of the side stories are woven beautifully into the thread of the story; the biggest one, that of the business competitor, feels a little like a shiny thread that is rough against the grain. While it’s more realistic to be on the side of the victim and not truly understand the hows of the vengeance-seeking little demagogue, I am left feeling a little puzzled. It’s like the scratchy tag on the inside of your shirt. Jake has some growing-up to do, and his business rival helps him learn, on a lesser scale, the lesson in forgiveness that Brooklyn is teaching him through her own faith expedition.

Told through multiple viewpoints, this debut novel is rich in Christian faith portrayal, and not shy about the depth and realities of sin. The characters have great dialog and emotional depth which spoke to me. Those who read deeply inspirational romantic fiction will find much to love about Justice.

About the Author
Emily Conrad writes Christian fiction. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two 60+ pound rescue dogs. Some of her favorite things (other than Jesus and writing, of course) are coffee, walks, and road trips to the mountains. She also blogs and offers free short stories at

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Path to Publication workshop in Waukesha May 19


SATURDAY - MAY 19, 2018
9:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Frame Park Rotary Building - 1150 Baxter Street
Waukesha, Wisconsin

You've done the work, now what?

Finally! A one-day event that answers all your questions about how to pursue publication in magazines, anthologies, and with book publishers.

Morning sessions will cover manuscript preparation and market research, showing the writer the best places to find those magazines and anthologies that are looking specifically for your work. Book markets will be covered as well, and the age-old question of whether or not you really need an agent will be examined and answered.

You'll learn about cover letters and query letters and how they're used differently. And you'll get rock-solid guidance on how to write the dreaded synopsis of your book. Then, after a lunch break and a chance to interact with other participants and event presenters, you will meet a full panel of experienced writers who have accomplished your goal: traditional publication of a novel, book-length memoir, or poetry collection, as well as individual pieces in magazines and anthologies. Panel participants include:

Jim Landwehr
Summer Hanford
Michael Giorgio
Carrie Newberry
Ilona Fridl
Alice Benson
Kerry Crowley
Lila Schwenk

Event will be led by Kathie Giorgio, director of AllWriters' Workplace & Workshop and critically acclaimed author of seven traditionally published books: four novels, two story collections, and one poetry chapbook. In the last four years, AllWriters' writers have had almost 100 books accepted for publication and an average of almost three acceptances per week in magazines and anthologies. Offering solid and proven marketing advice, Giorgio will guide event participants through all of the steps leading to publication.  
Early Bird Registration Fee just $89 (ends March 30, 2018)

After March 30
 Registration Fee $99

Lunch provided
Free Parking

Registration Open Now!

Register online or by callling 262-446-0284

Friday, February 23, 2018

Song Writers Workshop at All Writers March 10

“My goal is to help students discover the songs that are just lying there all around us, pick them up and shake them til they sing.” – Carter Hunnicutt
Sign Me Up!

MARCH 10th, 2018, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. 
If your heart beats and your lungs breathe, you already have cadence and phrasing.
If you can write a post-it note, you can put your thoughts into words. You are a song-writer! This workshop for all experience levels will get you started or move you forward in your own songwriting. We discuss what to do once you have a living, breathing song on your hands.
The class will be conducting dissections but you won’t need a lab apron. Songs will be dismantled to see how they work. We may sing, dance or bang on the table to ob-serve literary principals at work and learn just enough music theory to make us dan-gerous! You will hear songs in their native habitat and develop strategies to capture and train wild ideas (also known as verb husbandry). While many songwriters work alone, collaboration can offer new ideas, insights and support that may improve your work. Each student is requested to bring at least to share: an idea for a song, a title, a band or album name, a lyric, a melody, a poem, or a complete set of lyrics with or without music. You may wish to have a dozen copies. While you don’t need to have ever written a lyric or a note, you are encouraged to bring an instrument and your lyrics.
Extra Credit: Students who would like to have a set of lyrics, music or a song featured in the workshop should submit either lyrics, music, sheet music or recordings at least two weeks in advance. If you are willing to perform the song live, I will have a guitar and keyboard available. The work can be finished or in any stage of development. We will examine several of these as a group which will either convince you that your song is perfect or help find ways to make it more “perfecter.”
Legal disclaimer: Songwriting is invigorating, exhausting, infuriating and immensely rewarding. Rules will be broken.
Sign Me Up!
“To be human is to think
Writing is thinking
Putting words to music separates us from the whistling birds and growling beasts.
But not by much!” – Carter Hunnicutt
CARTER HUNNICUTT has been songwriting for four decades. His 2016 release Dangerous Worldshowcases his funky style of rock and roll infused with island accents. He currently performs solo and with the Dangerous Band. His music credits include: songwriter and keyboardist in One Way Records, recording artists Those XCleavers, lead singer and songwriter for The Flat Rabbits and writer and synthesist with The Xposed 4heads. Carter lives in Milwaukee where he writes, records and teaches music. Find Carter Hunnicutt on You Tube, Itunes and CD Baby.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

New Regency from Susan Baganz

Lord Phillip's Folly (Black Diamond)

Lord Phillip’s Folly
Susan M Baganz

Christian Regency
November 2017
Pelican Ventures

Buy on Amazon 

Ebook $5.99

About the Book:
No good deed goes unpunished. Lord Phillip Westcombe is a younger son and sufficiently independent. He has no need upset his tidy life with the messiness of love, but when he comes to the rescue of the lovely Lady Elizabeth Follett, and the two are found in a compromising position, his life takes an unexpected turn. Barely knowing each other, they are forced to wed. Embarking on a new life they must learn to trust God as they face an evil which threatens their lives and the security of the British Empire. Will the minions of the Black Diamond--the bounder who owns the soul of Elizabeth's father--succeed in their evil plans? Will Phillip and Elizabeth's new love and faith survive the test that awaits them? Or will they all fall to the Black Diamond?

My Review:
The undercurrents of Regency England are fraught with a plot to aid the enemy, and forces of evil influence the vulnerable. As the second son of an earl, Phillip’s older brother has the title and privileges thereof all wrapped up. Phillip will not inherit a title or much responsibility and earns a reputation as a reckless young buck in Regency England. When he does inherit a small country estate and turns his life around, his parents don’t believe he could change and set their hearts and minds to bear him from a distance. When he makes another reckless decision during his sister’s coming out ball and rescues a fair damsel in distress, he further inherits a boatload of trouble.

I thoroughly enjoyed this tale of plots with its twists of creepiness. A young lord who turns his life around takes responsibility for a young lady who’s been victimized for most of her life. As devastating as Elizabeth’s life has been, she is in possession of a fine spirit and courage to beg rescue from a handsome stranger. I would think a woman who’s been through the terror hinted at might be more leery of strange men and wifely duties, but this young couple’s growing faith and mutual love for each other was clearly portrayed.

Sir Phillip’s Folly is another fine addition to the wily Black Diamond series. Characters intertwine and add to each other’s stories, but each book stands as a story on its own. Recommended for those who enjoy inspirational Regency romances. Told in multiple viewpoints with flair and drama and good period accuracy.

About the Author:
Susan M. Baganz chases after three Hobbits and is a native of Wisconsin. She is an Acquisitions Editor with Pelican Ventures LLC specializing in bringing great romance novels and novellas to publication. Susan writes adventurous historical and contemporary romances with a biblical world-view. Website:

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Driftless Writing Center offerings

FEBRUARY 25, 2018

Please email with questions 
or for a registration form. 

Nickolas Butler Craft Talk
New York Times bestselling author Nickolas Butler will offer a talk on writing craft, followed by a Q&A and book signing. Butler is the author of two novels, The Hearts of Men (2017) and Shotgun Lovesongs (2014), and the short story collection, Beneath the Bonfire (2015). The event is targeted toward prose writers and others interested in the craft of writing. 

Speaker: Nickolas Butler

When: Sunday, February 25, 2018, from 10 a.m. until noon.

Where: Encore, 114 S. Main St., Viroqua

Cost: $15

Butler will continue his visit to the area with a public reading that afternoon in Westby, at the new Westby Fine Arts Center on West Street. 
This free public reading is hosted by the Bekkum Public Library and will begin at 2:00 pm.

- - - -

MARCH 10, 2018

Serving Up from Memory's Kitchen
Have you ever told a story about a great meal? Or perhaps a food disaster?
Food sears into our memories because it engages our senses.
Join in this three-hour workshop where we will playfully use food as writing inspiration, and cook up material for generating prose and poetry. Through writing exercises, prompts, and even recipes, we will craft delectable creations as we work together.

This workshop is intended as a spring jump start for all writers – those who have never written to those who write regularly and seek new ideas.

Instructor: DWC board member Catherine Young

When: Saturday, March 10, 2018, 9:00 a.m. to noon.

Where: Encore, 114 S. Main St., Viroqua

Maximum enrollment: 15 participants.

Cost: $35

- - - - 


Six-week Manuscript Critique Workshop
Have you taken your story, essay, or chapter as far as you can on your own? Let the Driftless Writing Center help you make it even more compelling. Learn how to identify strengths and weaknesses in your own and others’ work. Master strategies for bringing a story to life. Find out what publishers look for in fiction and nonfiction. Instructors will lead in-class critiques and offer comprehensive, individualized feedback.

Instructors: Author Tamara Dean and Editor David Hough

When: Tuesdays, March 6 through April 10, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Where: Viroqua location to be shared with those who register

Maximum enrollment: 10 participants

Cost: $220

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Absurd fun from Manley Peterson

Bloated Goat      Funny Spam Emails

Manley Peterson book reviews

Bloated Goat
c. 2010

114 pp
$2.99 eBook
$7.19 print

Buy on Amazon 

About the Book:
Get ready to enjoy a gut-busting adventure full of crazy forest animals and hijinks galore. You’ll meet Granny Hammy, Cocky Doodle, Bloated Goat, and a wide assortment of wacky characters as they romp around the forest in this ill-conceived (but humorous!) plot. Watch in horror as the author tries to tie everything together with an explosive ending that you'll probably see coming ten miles away.
Give Bloated Goat a try today. What's the worse that could happen?
(The author is not responsible for your decision to waste money and valuable time on this book and potentially lose that job promotion you worked so hard for. Or maybe miss your favorite TV show. I'm sure everyone will understand once you start to explain how you ignored the birth of your first child because you were too engrossed in the chapter about the skunk wedding.)

My review:
I confess I’m not really sure what to say after reading the adventures of Bloated Goat and his friends. The story of a main character who is busy being carried around and married while in a not-conscious state while other events and side stories take place probably has a deeper meaning than me and my bottle of New Glarus on the second try could fathom. But maybe not. On the other hand, I have a feeling a little neighborhood up nort probably knows exactly what (and who) Manley Peterson is writing about. Or at least have fun talking about it at one of those dark little bars with the way big stuffed fish and deer on the walls and everybody knows your name. Or your odor.

But once you get to the end and read the origin of the story, it will make a lot more sense.

Funny Spam E-mails

Buy on Amazon 
63 pp

About the Book:
Dear Sir or Madam,
It is me from the Internet. Here to give you something. It is a book. Of funny emails. I am the creator of all emails, some might say. Kindly confirm all your information so that we can proceed and you get your gift. Do not worry or make skeptical. This is 100% legit and free, once you pay the small activation fee.
Kind Regard,

My review:
Yep, I recognize a few of those awkward spam mails too. Some are creepy, some just sad and yes, some downright funny.

Author Manley Peterson shares some of the creepier spam emails that got through his filters and that he opened, but the funniest part is his off the cuff responses (Yes, I will help you bring that one dollar you found over to America!) (call the police, call the army…don’t let her take my money!) I think I’m glad I’m not the only one who gets those creepy send me nude pictures, I like your smile, and you’re my soulmate! Messages.

As Peterson says, this little book is a good laugh. Probably not for kids.

About the Author:
Manley Peterson lives in northern Wisconsin and writes books for all ages, including the ages that don't exist yet. When not hunting for dangerous snow kittens or spelunking for hidden treasure, he likes to run, play video games, and entertain the family with awful jokes and tomfoolery.

Twitter: @ManleyP23

Thursday, December 28, 2017

new YA adventure from Tim Fox

Kindle $3.05
Young adult adventure, geared for ages 10-18

About the book:
Abandoned by her troubled mother, twelve-year-old Tracy moves to her Great-aunt Lynette's farm in southwest Wisconsin. At first lonely and feeling distant from the stern old lady, things change with the appearance of a stray cat. With the help of her neighbor, Mallory, and a conservation warden named Jamie, love begins to grow between Tracy and her aunt, and a friendship blooms among the unlikely group. Kitty and Tracy then begin exploring their surroundings—the farm, and a nearby wooded canyon. The adventure that follows solidifies their bond, and forever changes their lives.
Inspired in part by true events, A PLACE FOR YOU is a story of growth in love, friendship, and courage.

My review:
Tim Fox’s second adventure story for young people set in Wisconsin, A Place For You, is a sweet story for the young girl reader who loves cats and mysteries. Loosely based around the story of a leopard raised in India and released into the wild who comes to her former handler for help during a flood, Fox’s story opens with a viewpoint reflection from a sick housecat looking for help. Tracy, a tween girl recently taken from a neglectful parent and placed with a great-aunt, answers the cat’s plea, and a lesson in responsibility, friendship, and love changes what could have been a long, lonely summer into one of adventurous fun.
Fox also introduces his readers to Big Girl, a cougar raised by humans and released to nature. Big Girl recognizes that Tracy and her kitty are no harm to them, and eventually recognizes Tracy as a kindred spirit and instinctive helper.
Self-published. My review copy had a few easily fixable minor errors. Recommended particularly for about fifth graders who love adventure stories, aren’t afraid of adding to their vocabulary and in particular, love cats.

About the Author:
I live in southwest Wisconsin, not far from the Baraboo Hills.
Hiking and exploring Wisconsin’s state parks and wilderness areas, and working out (especially lifting things!) make for good times.
I was a teacher for 17 years. I’m now a personal fitness trainer and an “Olympic-style” weightlifting coach who runs a gym in his garage.

I live with my wife, Tammy, our three kids–Brian, Ben, and Abby, a chubby old cat named Ringo, and ex-stray kittens named Kitten and Oscar. On the web: