Review & First Chapter: Maggie’s Turn by Deanna Lynn Sletten

About the book, Maggie’s Turn

Maggie's Turn

Maggie Harrison is a devoted wife and mother, always putting the needs of her family ahead of her own. Then, one day, without planning to, she drives away, leaving behind an indifferent husband and two sulking teenagers. Maggie goes off on a quest of self-exploration, enjoying adventures, meeting new people, and rediscovering her passions. For the first time in years, she dreams about what she wants out of life, and she realizes that her deteriorating marriage can no longer continue as it is. Can she and Andrew repair their floundering relationship, or is their marriage over?

Andrew Harrison likes his life to be in perfect order. He enjoys his work and status in the community, leaving Maggie to take care of everything at home. He knows his marriage isn’t perfect, but after twenty-three years and two kids, whose marriage is? When Maggie leaves without a word, he is forced to start paying more attention to his home life and his almost grown children, and he begins to do a little self-exploration of his own. Slowly, he begins to understand what drove Maggie away, and how important she is in his life. Is it too late to resolve their differences and save their marriage? Or will Andrew lose Maggie forever

Buy a copy from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.


About the author, Deanna Lynn Sletten

Deanna Lynn Sletten

Deanna Lynn Sletten writes women’s fiction and romance novels that dig deeply into the lives of the characters, giving the reader an in-depth look into their hearts and souls. She has also written one middle-grade novel that takes you on the adventure of a lifetime.

Deanna’s romance novel, Memories, was a semifinalist in The Kindle Book Review’s Best Indie Books of 2012. Her novel, Sara’s Promise, was a semifinalist in The Kindle Book Review’s Best Indie Books of 2013 and a finalist in the 2013 National Indie Excellence Book Awards.

Deanna is married and has two grown children. When not writing, she enjoys walking the wooded trails around her northern Minnesota home with her beautiful Australian Shepherd or relaxing in the boat on the lake in the summer.

Her latest book is the contemporary women’s fiction, Maggie’s Turn.

Connect with Deanna

Website: Deanna Lynn Sletten, author
Facebook: Deanna Lynn Sletten
Twitter: @deannalsletten


My Thoughts

I jumped at the chance to read Deanna Lynn Sletten’s novel Maggie’s Turn because it’s so rare to find a story about an adult woman that doesn’t begin with her involvement with either a murder attempt or a torrid affair, and I’m glad I did, because in many ways, I feel this book was written just for me.

Okay, I don’t have Maggie’s two kids (mine all have four feet and fur), and my husband works from home, so when he says he has to work late, that just means I bring him a mug of soup, but I know all too well how it feels to find yourself in the middle of a marriage that’s happy on the surface, but leaves you somewhat diminished.

I also know what it’s like to want to run away from home. “Let’s blow off life and go traipsing around Europe,” I often wistfully tease my closest girlfriends. “Or teach improv in a progressive school in Colorado.” They know it’s mostly a joke, but there’s always the possibility. (As it is, I run off to Baja Sur, Mexico, a couple of times a year.)

Deanna Lynn Stetten makes it clear, however, that Maggie is not a victim of any kind. We see that her life, in the beginning of the novel, is the result of choices, both made and unmade, and opinions both spoken and not.

Likewise, we are privileged to see Maggie, not rescued by a man (although she does meet at least one very interesting man), but rescued by herself.

There’s an old adage, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t no one is.” I’ve learned through many of the people I’ve interviewed that being happy isn’t enough. You have to put yourself first, as a whole person. You have to acknowledge that ‘mother’ and ‘wife’ (and daughter, sister, friend, volunteer, writer, artist, whatever) are not your whole self, but that each role you play is one aspect of your life. Then you have to model this for others – you can’t teach fulfillment and self-esteem, but you can demonstrate them.

In Maggie’s Turn, we see what happens when Mama – Maggie – ain’t happy, even if the root of that unhappiness is somewhat indefinable, but we also get to see what happens when she is.

More to the point, we see this through richly drawn characters who feel as much like aspects of ourselves as they do real people. Maggie, especially, is so real, so vivid, but so is her husband, her children, and people like “Wild Bill” whom she meets on her journey.

As I said, I’m not a soccer mom with two kids, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t made choices that sometimes put family before fulfillment in my own life. Maggie’s Turn was a well-written, entertaining, novel, but it was also an object lesson in finding, if not happiness, then at least contentment.

Well done, Ms. Sletten. Well done.

Goes well with A latte laced with cinnamon and nutmeg, and a slice of freshly baked pumpkin bread.


Read the first chapter of Maggie’s Turn

It had not been a good morning at the Harrison household. At least not for Maggie. Her nineteen-year-old son, Kyle, had slept in late, which meant he was late showering and would be late to one of the four college courses he was intent upon failing. Because he was running behind, her fourteen-year-old daughter, Kaia, was late getting ready for school, which meant Maggie’s husband, Andrew, had to rush to shower for work. And, of course, Maggie had to rush too since she was always the last person to use the bathroom.

Kaia was pouting and stomping around, because she’d wanted to get to school early to “hang” with her friends. Kyle rolled his eyes as he went out the door to his rusted pickup truck, mumbling that it really didn’t matter if he made it to class or not. And Andrew ran through his schedule with Maggie as he rushed out the door to work.

“Remember, I have a seven o’clock meeting tonight, so make sure dinner is on time so I’m not late,” he instructed Maggie and was gone a second later.

All Maggie had time for was one long sigh as she slipped a light sweater over her head, pulled on khaki pants, and grabbed her short, red wool jacket and purse, then ran out the door, hoping Kaia wouldn’t be late for school.

Click to continue reading the first chapter of MAGGIE’S TURN

Spotlight On & First Chapter Of: What Remains by Bart Baker

About the Book, What Remains:

What Remains

When Conner Carter is banished from New York for cheating on his socialite wife, he flies across country to Sonoma, California to stay with his brother Cody, Cody’s ridiculously wealthy husband, Rhett, and their two adopted Cambodian children. Since childhood, Conner has been jealous of the gilded life Cody has led, but Conner learns that what glitters often tarnishes and shatters in shocking and dangerous ways. Having always taken life’s easiest route, Conner now finds that path closed when he is forced to step up for his brother when Cody’s personal life crumbles after Rhett goes missing in Colombia on a documentary film shoot. Conner’s world unravels when the woman he’s fallen in love with, their black Puerto Rican nanny, Zinzi, finds her violent past catching up with her. From the tattered and surprising pieces of these characters’ intense and complicated lives, these people will discover the strength in What Remains.

Buy a copy from Amazon


About the Author, Bart Baker:

Bart Baker

With two feature films, eleven movies for television, four television series credits, as well as eight theatrical plays produced around the world, What Remains is Bart’s second novel. Bart’s first novel, Honeymoon with HarryHONEYMOON WITH HARRY, was a critical and commercial success and the movie rights were bought by Warner Bros./New Line Cinema for a feature film. He’s recently sold a film project in conjunction with the hit song by Miranda Lambert, OVER YOU, to the Lifetime Network. Bart lives in Ellisville, Missouri with his family.

Connect with Bart:

Website: BartBaker.com
Goodreads: What Remains


Read the first chapter of What Remains, by Bart Baker:

CONNER

“Do I know you?” I asked, casually flirting as I shook the hand of the outstanding brunette in the Versace cocktail dress. It’s a skill I’ve perfected for these opaque charity fundraisers I get bullied into attending.
“We slept together two years ago,” she stated with a razor’s edge etched into her voice. “You never called.”
Not the best statement to make when I’m standing with my wife of three years.
Now before you cast stones, it’s not like I was the only one cheating throughout our marriage. She had her dalliances with men far more successful than I, men she gravitated towards once we were married as if to show me what she hoped I’d become while simultaneously reminding me that I never would. I possessed no natural status of my own.
Any cachet I owned, I married into.

Continue reading the first chapter of What Remains!

Book Excerpt: Upir and the Monster Gang by Sharron Thornton & Raymond Thornton

Upir & the Monster Gang

About the Series, Upir and the Monster Gang, by Sharron & Raymond Thornton:

Upir and the Monster Gang Cover

Coming from a long line of highly respected vampires, Upir knew that going to Neewollah, the Monster Mausoleum, would help him live up to his family’s reputation, but he never anticipated the terrifying turn his stay there would take. Upon entering, Upir befriends several strange creatures and their nights soon become treacherous when they have to dodge flying skulls whose hollow eye sockets shimmer with bright blue lights, avoid huge plants with tongue-like tentacles that devour young monsters, and run from a mad scientist who loves to use the monster students in his experiments. Most of all, they try to stay away from Muriel, an ill-tempered, nasty gorgon girl with slithering snakes for hair. She is the leader of three cantankerous monsters that follow her every command. Her group is bent on destroying Upir and his gang.

Without warning the young monsters find themselves entangled in a plot to destroy the Monster race. Will they escape the clutches of this horrifying villain and alert the Monster world, or will they become his loyal soldiers?


Read an Excerpt from Upir and the Monster Gang:

The Welcoming Committee

“Yeah, you kid!” A monster with an enormous bumpy head, bulbous nose and winged ears pointed at the vampire. A single tooth protruded from the troll’s lower lip as he gaped at Upir.

A wolf-boy, his grin revealing sharp pointy teeth, was with the group. His eyes had a hungry look to them.

Upir swallowed and tried to sound calm. “Yeah, what do you want?” he asked.

A green goblin boy, a skateboard under one arm, shoved his way between the other two and glared at Upir. “We’re the welcoming committee around here,” he said sarcastically.

Upir doubted that. “Okay,” he said slowly.

The goblin boy pointed up at the troll. “He’s Groks. I’m Gordon.” He tilted his head at the wolf boy. “And that’s Raff.”

Raff sneered, “What’s your name?”

Without thinking, Upir said his whole name. “Upir Amarande.”

“Yooper! Yooper!” Groks laughed, slobber spilling down his chin. “What kinda stupid name–”

“Move it!” A girl with dozens of slithering snakes for hair came forward as the other three monsters stepped aside. The gorgon stood before Upir, her breath smelled of swamp water; the snakes on her head hissed and stretched toward him. “What did you say your name was?”

Upir told her.

“Amarande, huh?” She looked Upir up and down and smiled, “Well look what we’ve got here boys, a little monster royalty in our midst.”

Upir started to shake his head, but before he could speak, the gorgon stuck out her hand. “Glad to have you aboard,” she said.

Upir shook her hand as he asked, “Aboard?”

Groks groaned. “Muriel, we don’t need a vamp–”

“Shut up, troll!” She turned back to Upir. “My gang,” she said as her head tilted toward the monsters behind her. “We plan on running this place, and I’m inviting you to join.”

Upir smiled. “Serious?” he asked. He didn’t like the fact that, once again, he’d been befriended because of his name. But to run with the in-crowd, he could deal with that. “Thanks,” he said.

“What’s going on!” a voice screamed behind them. The kids turned. The
hunchback lumbered toward them, his hump weighing him down to the floor. “What are you kids doing in the hall? It’s almost lights out. Get to your rooms!” Turning to his hump he mumbled, “Hugo always has to chase kids all over the place.”

Muriel lowered her gaze and innocently said, “We’re going now, Mr. Hugo.” Turning to her gang she growled, “Let’s go!” She slapped Upir on the arm as she brushed past him. “Welcome to my gang, Amarande. See ya around.”

“Yeah, see ya around,” Groks said hitting Upir on the back so hard that he stumbled into the wall.

Raff snickered and Gordon hooted. Muriel called out another “Shut up!” before they were out of sight.

Upir pushed open the creaky door and entered a dark, stone-like cave.

Jagged pieces of rock, some crooked as bad teeth, protruded from the ceiling and floor. Nestled in an alcove was a bunk bed made of heavily-polished dragon bones. On one wall rested a long narrow desk of stone and against the other wall sat a black coffin, just his size. The room smelled like the dust of ages past. And although there was no window, a strange light emanated across the ceiling. Looking around the room, Upir noticed a ghost hovering above the top bunk. The floating boy wore a long transparent shroud; a green woolen scarf was slung around his neck. A long chain, wrapped around his waist, clinked as it drifted lazily
in the air. Upir saw the rock wall through the boy’s glowing form.

The ghost boy smiled making his blue eyes look bluer and his plain face look mischievous. “Hi,” he said. “I’m Gusty,”

Upir smiled back. “I’m Upir,” he replied, glad he hadn’t offered his last name. He knew everyone would find out soon enough. But until then, maybe he’d have a chance to make friends on his own.

Gusty moved, seeping in and out of form like a genie near the mouth of its bottle. Upir blinked a few times, not sure the boy was really there.

“Yeah, he’s really there,” said another boy who emerged from a pile of blankets on the bottom bunk. He stood up, his rumpled flannel shirt and jeans hung limply from his stick frame. “Gusty likes to show off,” he said. The boy’s head was a carved hollow pumpkin. Light flowed through the triangular holes; the yellowish rays reflected across the room like searchlights. The grin on his face was cheerful. “I’m Payne,” he said to Upir. “Welcome to Neewollah.”


A Message from the Authors, Sharron Thornton & Raymond Thornton:

Upir and the Monster Gang

We’re on our way to be published! My name is Sharron Thornton and I wrote a children’s novel entitled Upir and the Monster Gang. The book has 60 full page, full colored illustrations which were done by my son, Raymond Thornton. We have chosen to use an online, crowdfunding site called Kickstarter to begin this amazing venture.
Beginning October 1st and running through November 16th we are doing a pre-launch, first edition sale of our book. Attached to this email is a link to our Kickstarter page. There you can watch our video and see some of the Upir and the Monster Gang products we have listed. One of the great things about Kickstarter is that it’s like a grassroots campaign that spreads and then builds momentum.

After the Kickstarter we have marketing and distribution lined up to take Upir and the Monster Gang to the next level, but we need your help getting it started. Please share our Kickstarter page with your family and friends on your email lists, social media and any other networks you may have and then ask them to share it also.
http://kck.st/19jvVMG.

Connect with Sharron and/or Raymond:

Web: UpirAndTheMonsterGang.com
Facebook: Upir and the Monster Gang
Twitter (Sharron): @SharronThornton
Twitter (Raymond): @RaymondThornton