Friday, July 9, 2021

I am an author and avid reader of historical fiction, and I loved this entire series. I suggest readers read them in order. At the end of Books 1 and 2, I couldn't wait to read Book 3. This book is Book 1. One protagonist lives in the United States in the 1930's and begins writing to a boy in the Netherlands as a class pen pal project. The boy in the Netherlands dies, and his sister continues writing to the Chicago boy.  The continues through the occupation of the neutral Netherlands by the Nazis. It includes an important United States effort to relieve the starving of the countries, called "Operation Chowhound." There is very little written about the Netherlands during the war, so I was intrigued to learn about it. All three of the books are worth your time and will take you on a ride you won't forget!

Sunday, July 4, 2021


I am giving four stars to An American in Paris by Siobhan Curham. I write historical fiction and have become obsessed over books about WWII. The only reason I am giving the book 4 instead of 5 starts is because of the over-the-top portrayal of the people in Arkansas. The story is about a young American dancer from Arkansas who moves to pre-war Paris, Florence, and her encounter with Otto, an Austrian Jewish artist. They fall in love and eventually marry. Sage is a British woman in 2019 who doesn’t realize that she has a family in Arkansas. She earns money through social media. My favorite part of the book were Florence and Otto’s story and the heartbreaking portrayal of WWII Paris. The author rounds out her characters and portrays them in a way that made me quickly turn the pages to find out what happened next. I will definitely read this author again!


I am giving 5 stars for The Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah. Although the book began slowly, somewhere in the middle, I became wrapped up in the characters just like I do every book by Kristen Hannah. I admit to having had zero interest in the Russian front or the siege of Leningrad, but soon found myself wrapped up in the heartbreak of a young girl, Anya. The book travels back and forth in time and relates the story of Anya as a young mother who has since moved to the United States. She first appears unloving and cold toward her two daughters. Her husband and father of the girls dies in the beginning of the book. Meredith, 40, is obsessed with work and taking care of everyone but herself. The other daughter, Nina, is a photographer who travels the world and rarely comes home. They both are running from their feelings because of the cold attitude of Anya. What gripped me about a third of the way through the book was the beautiful, poetic writing of the author. She depicts her character so well, that I started to really care about them and had no choice to keep reading. I urge anyone who reads this book to give it a chance and once the story of the siege of Leningrad unfolds, read slowly so that can appreciate the author’s stunning depiction of Leningrad and the lives of Anya’s family and the heartbreaking times through which she lived. I became so immersed in the book that I cried through parts of it, just as I did in The Nightingale. Kristin Hannah is still my favorite author!

Saturday, January 23, 2021


All of us have been affected by the coronavirus. The publishing industry, like many others, has been one of its victims. When Black Opal Press accepted my manuscript, GLORY LOST, I was excited. Six months later, BOB had problems with staffing. Their headquarters is in Washington state, which was hit earlier than many states primarily because of the influx of ships. They also have been trying to organize since their corporation came under new owners. But two especially dedicated women there have been wonderful. Their dedication to their jobs under very fluid conditions is commendable. Susan and Gibby have worked hard to help keep everything afloat. I owe these two women a lot. I hope to be able to announce the release of GLORY LOST by next month, possibly a March release. If you are an author, please let us know where we can all purchase your books. To readers, thanks for your loyalty!

I am certain that we all have either had personal and/or professional hurdles to overcome after 2020. I pray that more of us will soon be vaccinated and that our world will be headed for a better 2021! Take care of yourselves, stay safe, and please get vaccinated! 

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The Brother Voice by William Delamar

The Brother Voice (Generations of American Voices Book 1)

The setting for this book is in Frederick, Maryland, during the Civil War. The main characters are twin brothers, Sel and Hol. Sel joins the Union because he hates slavery, and Hol joined the South because he said it felt like home. Cora Dee Soyer is the woman who loved both men. She says she couldn’t support either cause because it would feel as she were killing the other. Sel and Hol eventually are unable to speak telepathically as the battles became more brutal. It culminates in the Battle of Monocacy, which is close to Frederick. The author’s use of imagery is beautiful, without resorting to clich├ęs. In the prologue, he talks about the voices of the dead, “cries that formed a curtain of voices. They called out to wives and sweethearts and mothers, a roll call of those left behind.” Cora’s father is a kindly minister who says to her, in Chapter Seven, “Being angry is worse than being sad. Being sad has a beauty to it. People are sad for something with meaning. But anger means thinking as stopped and meaning doesn’t matter. No light shines in the hidden pathways.” This book was not only factually correct, but it was also a story very well-written. I loved it.


Telephone Road by [Ann Swann]
Telephone Road is the latest book written by Ann Swann. I was hooked immediately from the first page, enveloped by the genuine qualities of the characters and their lives in Texas. I was born and lived many years there and felt immediately at home. The book is imbued with the flavor of the area and the unaffected personalities of the characters. Her portrayal of the importance of family shone through.
The main character, Marlena, is a college student from West Texas who is enrolled in school in Austin. Although she considers herself a small-town girl at heart and has little experience in or desires to party like many of the other students, Preston quickly attempts to draw her into his world, which involves drinking and drugs. She resists, and it angers and challenges him, since he comes from a wealthy family and is accustomed to getting his own way. When he begins to stalk her, it scares her and makes her even more determined to break off all contact with him. She goes home over Thanksgiving to her small West Texas hometown, Window, and is reunited with a boy she knew in high school. They both realize how much they like each other, and she tells her girlfriend that Jimmy is “the one.” Marlena is even more determined to break off any relationship that Preston has imagined they have.
When Marlena agrees to meet Preston in order to tell him she doesn’t want to see him and that she has found someone new, he invents a scheme to get her alone and vulnerable on an almost deserted road outside of Austin, Telephone Road. He brutally attacks her, with the intention of killing her. He rapes her after stabbing and unmercifully beating her, leaving her unconscious and bleeding. He thinks he will never see her again, but she is stronger than he thinks and manages to get to a police station where she accuses him of attempted murder and rape. His parents pay a witness to vote against the conviction when it goes to trial, and there is a hung jury. He immediately begins his harassment of her, and she is convinced that his sister has also been abused by him.
Marlena grows stronger as a result of therapy and the support of her friends and family. She knows that she will never be free of him and will never have a normal life as long as he’s alive, so she hatches a plan to bait him into the open. She demonstrates her strength and resilience as the book unfolds.
The author uses her characters to reveal a discussion about the subjects of rape, assault, the importance of family and friends, and to show what constitutes a loving and healthy relationship. I highly recommend this book, because it approaches many issues in a way that is captivating and interesting. I intend to read it again, which is what I do when I discover a book I consider truly engaging. I give it five stars out of five!

Friday, August 9, 2019


The 2019 Permian Basin Writers Workshop will happen on October 13 -14, 2019 in Midland, Texas. We are excited to have many generous, talented, and exceptional speakers and agents. Although I live in Humble, Texas, I still belong to the Bookies and will schedule all of the agents with writers. Please check out our workshop at:


Sharon Belcastro is co-founder of Belcastro Agency. A full-service boutique literary agency, Belcastro Agency specializes in adult genre fiction (mystery, suspense, thriller, etc.) and is actively building their young adult list across all genres. Regardless of genre, Sharon is looking for novels that are unusual, dramatic and meaningful featuring realistic characters that are larger than life and settings that whisk her away.  Some of Sharon’s favorite YA authors include Lani Taylor, Nova Ren Suma, April Genevieve Tucholke, Mindy McGinnis, A.S. King, Robin Benway, Rainbow Rowell, Tomi Adeyemi and Jeff Zentner, to name a few.

Marlene Stringer founded The Stringer Literary Agency LLC in 2008, following almost eight years with Barbara Bova Literary agency. As a full-service agency based in Naples, Florida, Stringerlit represents a wide range of commercial fiction, from YA through adult, including thrillers, suspense, women’s fiction, romance, fantasy, and grounded science fiction. For details, visit stringerlit dot com. Mother of four and grandmother of two, Marlene lives in Naples with her husband. In her spare time she enjoys beach-walking, birdwatching, and reading non-fiction.

Marlo Berliner is an award-winning young adult author, freelance editor, and bookseller. She joined The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in March 2018 as an editorial intern after having completed a previous internship with The Bent Agency. Now, she is actively building her list as an associate agent. She is a member of SCBWI, RWA, NJ-RWA, and YA-RWA. Prior to her career in the publishing world, Marlo was an accounting manager for a Fortune 500 company. She holds B.S. degrees in Economics and Industrial Management from Carnegie Mellon University.