#NewRelease – The Recluse Storyteller by Mark W. Sasse

Announcing the release of author Mark W. Sasse’s latest book – The Recluse Storyteller. It has been out for 2 weeks and  already has great reviews on Goodreads and Amazon!

Book Description

recluse storyteller cover xtra smallRed Hat hijacks a yoghurt truck and barrels into the Chester Walz Bank at full speed, desperate to open a safety deposit box.

The twins, beckoned by an ominous streak of light across the sky, climb Harper’s Hill to encounter an apparition of their missing father.

The reverend stands on a muddy ridge, the barrel of a rifle in his neck, looking down on a Vietnamese village, scarred by war and regret.

The stories come to Margaret at all times, but they are anything but random. A fractured view of Michael Cheevers’ red hat through a discreetly cracked door sends her off on adventure. A glimpse of the Johnson twins from apartment 2D takes her to the lonely hill on a Midwestern prairie in 1887. The regular letters from Reverend Davies, who has tried to look after Margaret since the death of her mother, brings her to the brink of exhaustion, staring intensely into the heart of war deep in the jungle of Vietnam.

Margaret is not insane, at least not in a clinical sense. She’s like a midnight raccoon, painfully aware of her surroundings, gleaming crumbs of information at every turn; eyes peering incessantly in the night, stealing glances of neighbors behind partially opened doors.

But the tales that she weaves were not meant to merely hold empty court to the receptive dead air of her apartment. Her stories were meant to embolden the lives of the inhabitants of that drab apartment block because her story is also their story—and everything would be different if they could only hear her stories.

The Recluse Storyteller weaves five stories into one as the loner Margaret not only searches for meaning from her reclusive life, but also gives meaning in the most unexpected ways to the troubled souls of her apartment complex. Part adventure, part tragedy, and part discovery, The Recluse Storyteller bridges genres, bringing hope, life, and redemption to the broken relationships of modern society.

About the Author 

Sasse Author photo smallMark W Sasse was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania, but he has lived in Asia (Vietnam & Malaysia) for most of the past twenty years. He has been an independent author for about a year, publishing his first novel, Beauty Rising, in December 2012. He is passionate about live theater and has written, directed, and produced nine full-length productions for the stage. His script, “‘No’ in Spite of Itself” won “Best Script” recently in Penang’s Short & Sweet Theatre Festival.  His third novel, The Reach of the Banyan Tree, is finished and is set to release mid-year 2014. He is also working on writing a full-length musical which will debut at the Penang Performing Arts Center in May 2014.

You can find out more about Mark on his blog or Facebook.

You can purchase The Recluse Storyteller on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Smashwords.


Dealing with elementary school homework

Many parents despise homework almost as much as their children do. Or at least I am not fond of it, and I know neither of my kids want to do homework – though they may actually have fun doing some of the assignments.


Jase began receiving homework in kindergarten. It was simple. It could be done in less than 15 minutes. They simply have to pick three squares to complete tic-tac-toe. It could be practicing your letters, playing on a particular website or drawing a picture. For Lexie (my current kindergartner), homework is sent out on Monday and due Thursday.

For Jase, first-grade homework took a little more time and now with second grade homework Jase spends about 45 minutes on it. He receives the assignments on Monday, and they are due by Friday. He has to complete three of the six homework assignment squares as well as study his wall words (spelling), learn his vocabulary words and read for 15 minutes each day.

Assignments range from math problems to writing and there are even learning games on the computer. Each homework square usually corresponds to a different topic they are studying in school. One square – often math or reading – is always a “must do.”

We typically do all the homework on Monday, except for the daily reading and review of his vocabulary words. I also give him a spelling test on his wall words on Thursday. Thanks to the Spell City website, the test is somewhat “fun.”

I like getting all the homework done at the beginning of the week, so we have less to worry about as the week goes on. Not to mention that Lexie has gymnastics on Tuesday and that pretty much takes up most of our after school time before dinner. After dinner, they would rather spend time with dad then do homework.

The first week that Lexie had homework, I tried having her and Jase do their homework at the same time. Big mistake. I couldn’t concentrate on helping either kid. Lexie at 5 years old obviously needs help but so does Jase. I am trying to give him less guidance, but he still needs some help. My solution has been to do Lexie’s 15 minutes of homework first and then start Jase’s. So far, that is working out.

I still dread Mondays most of the time. I know the kids are going to whine about doing their homework. It seems mostly like busy work, and they would rather be playing. I would rather they have that “down” time to play too but homework must be done. And unfortunately, they are just going to get more (and harder) homework assignments in the future.

Counting calories to lose weight – it works!

In the beginning of September, I wrote a blog post about counting calories to lose weight. In July, I had been to the doctor and weighed 134 pounds according to their scale. So I decided to start counting calories using the livestrongLivestong.com Calorie Tracker app as a way to lose weight.  My goal was to get back down to 120 pounds. Well, I am now just one pound away from my goal! This means I have lost 13 pounds in just 12 weeks!

Now I won’t say this has been totally easy. As I said in my last post, there were quite a few days I went over my target calorie intake which kept going down slightly as I shed the weight. And then there was my birthday where I refused to count calories and ate whatever I wanted all day long. But most days, I did well with keeping the calories close to their recommended amount. Never once did I feel like I was dieting. It was all about making better choices.

I had originally thought I would add in exercising in September when the kids went back to school but that hasn’t happened.

One of my other concerns when I first started counting calories was keeping up with it. I did awesome for the first 11 weeks. And then it happened. I didn’t enter my calories for the day. Oh well, I thought, I will enter them tomorrow. But nope that didn’t happen. In fact, I haven’t entered calories for the past week. But I have still been watching what and how much I eat. I was hesitant to weigh myself this morning, fearing by not counting calories that I had added a pound or so. I was surprised to find that I had still lost weight without diligently tracking each calorie.

So now that I am almost at my target weight and the holidays are approaching, I think I will change the setting to maintaining my weight. (Who am I kidding, I probably won’t even enter calories into the app anymore.) This adds 475 calories to my daily intake goal. Thanks to counting calories, I now have an idea what and how much I can eat and meet this new goal. And I know that going over one or two days is also not the end of the world. Losing weight doesn’t mean starving yourself. In my case it was teaching myself how many calories were in the foods I eat and changing my choices. It was about making lifestyle changes that I can live with.


Today’s Featured Author: Adrienne Thompson

Today I welcome author Adrienne Thompson to my blog. Her latest book, Your Love is King, will be released November 12th.

I am thrilled to be able to share an excerpt from my forthcoming novel, Your Love Is King, today. I truly hope it piques your interest and leaves you anticipating the novel’s release this November. Happy Reading!! – Adrienne 


Another twenty minutes passed and I could barely keep my eyes open as I fumbled through my purse for my phone, having decided to try and call Carla again. I’d finally fished my phone out of my purse when I was startled by a voice coming from the driveway in front of the ER.

“Well, if it isn’t Ms. Marli,” a man said. I raised my head to see that it was Chris King.

He was speaking to me from the driver’s side of a shiny, black Mercedes Benz, complete with some very expensive-looking chrome rims. Trumpet-playing must have been a lucrative career for him.

“Hi,” I said unenthusiastically.

“You work here?”

Well that was stating the obvious. I was sitting outside a hospital wearing scrubs.

“Uh, yeah. Just got off,” I said rather curtly.

“Oh, okay, well, have a good day.”  I’m sure he sensed that I wasn’t in the best of moods.

“Yeah, it’s been lovely so far,” I replied under my breath.

He drove away, and I dialed Carla’s number again. This time it went straight to voicemail. A voice inside told me that I should’ve asked Mr. Chris King for a ride, but I didn’t really know him. What if he was some kind of psycho?

After another ten minutes of waiting, I looked up and noticed a familiar black Mercedes pull back around the driveway.

“Do you just like hanging around hospitals or something, or are you a stalker?” I asked sarcastically as he pulled his car to a stop in front of me.

Chris smiled and shook his head. “No and no. I was here dropping off my sister for her shift. She’s a nurse, her name’s Ava King. You know her?”

I shook my head. “No, but I’m new here.”

“Oh, okay. Well, anyway, after I drove off earlier, I thought to myself that you looked like you needed a ride home. Do you?”

“I’m okay. I’m sure my friend will be here any minute,” I said and glanced at my watch. Now, of course I was lying, because at that point, I wasn’t sure if Carla was ever going to show up.

“You sure? How long you been out here waiting?”

I cleared my throat. “About an hour.”

“Man, that’s a long time, and you look tired. Come on, I’ll give you a ride.”

I frowned. “I don’t know, I—”

“Come on, Ms. Marli. Why you gotta be so mean? I’m trying to help you, here. You got something against riding in cars with white men, too?”

I sighed, grabbed my bag, and walked over to his car. At that point I was so tired, I couldn’t even argue anymore.

Chris jumped out of the car and opened the passenger’s door for me. He was wearing faded jeans and a colorful t-shirt. Around his neck hung a huge silver crucifix on a silver chain. His short, spiky hair was covered with a red baseball cap.

Once I climbed inside, he closed the door behind me and returned to the driver’s seat. His car was immaculate inside, and the scent from a vanilla-scented air freshener filled my nose. His radio was tuned to an R&B station, and an Alicia Keys song was pouring softly from the speakers. As we exited the lot, I looked over at him and smiled.

“Thanks,” I said drowsily.

He glanced at me with a grin. “No problem, Ms. Marli. Where to?”

I gave him my address and said, “Can I ask you a question?”

“Yeah, what’s up?”

“Why do you talk like that?”

He gave me a confused look. “Like what?”

“You know, like you’re black.”

His eyes widened. “Oh, well this is how I’ve always talked.”


“Yeah, really. Why?”

I shrugged. “I was just wondering.”

Chris shook his head. “Wow, you are prejudiced. Where are you from, anyway? Selma circa 1954?”

I rolled my eyes. “I’m not prejudiced. I was just curious. And I’m from Arkansas.”

“Oh damn, no wonder. They probably still got segregated schools and ‘whites only’ restaurants down there,” he said with an exaggerated Southern drawl.

I bugged my eyes. “No, they don’t!”

Book Description

your love is king

Marli Meadows was tired of the monotonous rhythm of her life, so she decided to leave it behind and embark on a search for change. Instead, she found a love.





About the Author

adrienneMarried at sixteen, a mother twice by seventeen, and thrice a mother and divorced by twenty-four, Adrienne Thompson is no stranger to adversity. Not your typical teenage mother, she went on to complete her college degree and to earn her nursing license. She attributes God’s faithfulness as the catalyst for her success in life. Now, having raised two children as a single mother, with a third fast-approaching adulthood, she is sharing a long hidden talent and passion with the world. Using the lessons that life has so expertly taught her as a guideline (betrayal, abusive relationships, self-esteem issues, witnessing the deteriorating effects of drug abuse), she has created stories that will both entertain and inspire the reader.

Adrienne currently resides in Arkansas with her daughter. Formerly an RN, she now writes and publishes her stories full time.

You can find out more about Adrienne on her website. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Your Love is King will be out November 12, 2013. You can purchase Adrienne’s books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and the Kobo Store.

#Amblyopia Resolved

After a year of patching, Lexie’s amblyopia has been resolved. We began patching her “lazy” eye at the end of August 2012. In the beginning, she wore a patch for four hours a day. Then we went down to two hours a day. And then finally it was down to just a half an hour a day.

At her September appointment, the doctor said her amblyopia had been resolved. He wanted us to go for six weeks without her wearing a patch to see if her vision stayed the same. If it didn’t, we would have to continue having her wear the patch.

We went to the follow up appointment on Wednesday. There was a bit of confusion with her exam. The tech did the exam using letters because Lexie sat down and started saying them. But since she is under 7, the doctor said they need to use symbols. He said the letters were unreliable at this young of an age. So after they re-did the test, he declared that her vision was fine. Or I should say much better. She still has glasses which only correct vision on her right eye. We go back in three months for another follow up.

Editor or proofreader – which do you need?

Many people confuse copy proofreading and copy editing. So what is the difference and which do you need to hire?


proofA proofreader is someone who looks over your manuscript for grammar, punctuation and spelling mistakes. A proofreader should see your manuscript AFTER all the editing, and beta readers have made their suggestions (and you have made all your changes). Basically, they should see your manuscript when it is ready for publication. Their job is NOT to make revisions but to make corrections.

In the world of publishing paper books, a proofreader was one of the last to review the book. They would be looking at the final copy as it would print. If there were too many end-of-line hyphens in a row or a blank section break at the top of a page, they would correct those and other esthetic issues in addition to checking grammar and spelling.

Nowadays, as software improves, the need for someone to proofread for spelling and grammar errors diminishes. In fact, I have mentioned before that I don’t hire a proofreader but use the software Whitesmoke for my proofing needs. This is a comprehensive grammar checker that will blow away what Microsoft Word does. Of course no software can completely replace having someone proof your work.

Many proofreaders charge by the hour while others charge by the word. And many copy editors also offer proofreading as part of their services.

Copy Editor

While proofreading is done at the end, an editor may work over long periods of time with a writer until the manuscript is perfected. It is a much more involved process that can take months. And while some may argue editing also refers to finding typos and grammar errors, editing involves one major factor that proofreading does not: content.

A copy editor reads your work and makes corrections so it follows the conventions of good writing. They can find flaws in your story or help you flesh out a sub-plot.  They refine word choices and make sure the manuscript’s syntax is smooth. The copy editor may suggest reorganizing, recommend changes to chapter titles and call out lapses in logic or sequential slip-ups. They will ensure continuity through chapters and ensure dialog is believable.

If employing both, use an editor first and then the proofreader afterwards.  Editors may charge by the hour, by the page or even by the word.