Wonderful Trip to Sicily!

Beautiful Sicily!


Buon Giorno! Buon Sera! Buona Notte!

Well, I am finally home and back to blogging, email, writing and all the rest of the stuff that I do daily. I enjoyed the time away and the welcome break to get recharged and energized. I was not, however, able to post a Father’s Day note during this time. For this, I apologize. I hope all fathers out there had a relaxing day.

I had been away on vacation from June 10th – June 19th traveling all over Sicily with Collette Tours.

Map of Sicily.jpg

We had an excellent Tour Manager, Cristina, who shared the beauty and culture of this wonderful island with us. Cristina was calm, competent, and helpful and she spoke in a melodious tone that made us feel right at home. Thank you, Cristina! She kept us all together and everything running smoothly. The group was a small one – only twelve. Once we got acclimated, we were feeling like a family after a few days. Here’s our group – a couple, Elizabeth and Robert from Australia, Mary from Massachusetts, Kimberly and Mary Ann from Pennsylvania, a couple, David & Kathy, and Margaret, all three from New York, Connie from Illinois, David from Colorado, and John and I from New Hampshire. I look forward to keeping in touch with everyone in the future!

Each place we visited a local guide would be there to take us on tour of the sites. Our first stop was in Palermo which is Sicily’s capital. We discovered the Arab-Norman influence in the historic architecture. This city is earthy and bustling with activity in the evening. These lovely people are warm, friendly and welcoming to tourists. Well, after all, we do like to spend money and eat!

Various churches we visited

I was amazed at all the young children out so late at night. Sicilians go out to dinner after 8:30. I am used to eating early – 6:00 or so. You know what happens when you eat late? You can’t lay down, never mind sleep! We ate plenty of spaghetti ala Norma (pasta with eggplant) and seafood everywhere we went. We captured many of our meals below before we devoured them! Alora!


              Cous Cous with seafood         Mozzarella & prosciutto sandwich

Spaghetti with whole shrimp (head included)

We stayed in a lovely hotel, Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa. We were fortunate to have only two hotels to stay in during our nine days. This made it more relaxing and comfortable coming home to one place for four nights before we had to move on to the next hotel. We traveled in an air-conditioned coach to our destinations each day driven by a competent and talented driver, Antonio. It takes a special skill to drive all over Sicily the way the Sicilians drive! It was quite an experience as we observed Antonio skirting around all kinds of traffic expertly. Thank you, Antonio!

Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa in Palermo

Here’s a photo of our lovely Tour Manager, Cristina, and handsome driver, Antonio.

Cristina and Antonio

Alora! On our first night in Palermo there was a little incident. Of course, after I tell you about it you can see how this episode could be blown up out of proportion all over the city, maybe even the island! Well, almost! Ha! I must tell you that this can happen in your own hometown or anywhere you may travel. Please do not let this frighten you from traveling.

We were walking back,  a short distance from our hotel, from our first dinner together. John and I had already gone up to our room and missed out on all the excitement. Mary from Massachusetts and Margaret from New York were heading into the entrance which had a revolving glass doorway when unexpectedly a man came hobbling along on crutches and got between Mary and the door. He reached out and tried to grab her necklace and pocketbook scratching her across her neck and bruising her shoulder.  Mary screamed in alarm and stepped back without falling but never let go of her necklace or her pocketbook. The man lost his balance but tried to strike out again. Margaret, seeing this, went into action kicking out at the man and hitting him in an area that incapacitated him and knocked him over. Now, I must mention that Margaret is 81 years old and under five feet tall. She single-handedly felled the man without the help of the hotel staff who came along afterward. The man ran away without his crutches and never looked back! Upon hearing about this heroic deed I gave Margaret the name, Mighty Margaret and Mary became Marvelous Mary. This story followed Margaret all over Palermo and beyond. Needless to say, we all felt safe from then on with Margaret around to cover our backs. We had many laughs over this and thank God Mary did not get seriously hurt except for a scratch on her neck and a bruise on her arm. Alora!


Scene of the incident – that’s me standing in front of the revolving door entrance

Now back to the itinerary: On Monday we toured Palermo and the historic squares of Quattro Canti, Piazza Pretoria and Piazza Bellini with their Moorish, Norman and Spanish Baroque styles. We went to visit the magnificent 12th century cathedral in Monreale. Pictures are above of churches visited.

One of my favorite parts of this trip was the tour of a medieval palace where a countessa welcomed us, shared her home and an aperitif and hors d’oeuvres in one of the palace chambers. Alora! The countess also entertained us with her beautiful soprano voice that gloriously filled the chamber.

We spent a day in the medieval town of Erice, founded by the Phoenicians at 2,400 feet above sea level. We strolled the cobblestone streets and captured photos of the gorgeous countryside all the way to the sea. Everywhere we went we tasted the food of the region, some unusual selections that will stay in my memory such as, pig mouth and veal spleen. I didn’t like either one but did sample them. Alora!

In the evening before we went to dinner we joined a local entrepreneur to discuss the notorious Sicilian Mafia and what the Sicilian population are doing to stand up to them. It was fascinating to hear how the people are fighting back by sticking together.

We visited Cefalu where we strolled the medieval streets, stopped in the magnificent cathedral and stores for a souvenir, two coffee mugs with I Love Sicilia and Cefalu. Afterward, we sat and had a delicious chocolate gelato and bottled water. I drank my share of these bottles of water all over Sicily. The weather was quite warm and we did many thousand steps each day. I’d like to say that I lost weight but alas, I did not. I gained a couple, luckily it wasn’t more! Alora!

Roberta, our local guide in Cefalu                      Cathedral there

Local workers in Cefalu

Another favorite part of this magnificent tour was the visit to a local farm. This farm had a beautiful building that contained a dining area, kitchen, bathrooms, and other rooms for the family. Cinzia, the farmer’s wife, welcomed us with open arms to her home. I was quite taken by her warmth, charming and fun personality along with her presentation of what it is like to live on a farm. It was an entertaining experience seeing the goats being milked, and all the tools that the farmer had to use at one time in order to work the land. Of course food was the highlight of this day! The chef prepared pasta Bolognese, veal, local dishes such as Arancini and a ricotta dessert. Cinzia set up a table for four of us to prepare Arancini, rice balls filled with cheese and meat and rolled in bread crumbs. Here is her recipe below. They were absolutely delicious. John and Dave formed the balls, Connie dipped them in the liquid and Mary rolled them in the bread crumbs. Here are a few photos of them in action. It was a fun and memorable experience for all! We drank local wine and tasted some sweet, fragrant and pungent Lemoncello. We had a marvelous time here and hated to leave. Cinzia and her wonderful family waved goodbye to us as we reluctantly drove away. What a lovely and gracious host she was! There are rooms on the farm for twelve guests and a swimming pool if you ever want to visit her! Alora! You will fall in love with her too!

                    Cinzia and her brother             John and fellow travelers making Arancini

                                   Milking sheep                   Cinzia and her husband & children


Views of the countryside as we traveled around Sicily.

Next, we went to Agrigento to walk around the Valley of the Temples on a guided tour and learn about the history of the temples of Juno, Concordia, Hercules and Jupiter. We traveled along the Ionian coast and captured more memories of its beauty.

We traveled to Catania, explored a stunning cathedral and other sites. We observed the daily bartering by Sicilians as they shop for fresh fish in the outdoor market. As we walked through this wet and fishy area voices were raised loudly as each seller competed for buyers’ attention. Alora! John snapped many photos of the incredible selection of seafood and the extensive produce and meat markets here.

Seafood Market

Produce Market and Meat Market

We took an optional tour of a crater of Mount Etna. It was thrilling to stand there and look out on many other craters all in a row. Our Tour Manager told us that there are 300 such craters in the area of the main one. We actually saw smoke coming out of two of the largest craters. Evidently Mount Etna erupts quite often and is said to be spectacular! People watch from theirs home in the valley below like we watch fireworks. I was a little relieved that it didn’t act up while we were there! Alora! Here are some rocks from the crater that I brought home to share with my grandkids.

Lava rocks from Mt. Etna

Views of Mt. Etna and craters

Further south we ventured to Siracusa for an excursion to historical sites with archaeological Greek treasures. We explored green and glorious gardens on a rural estate and their use of an ancient system of irrigation still in use today.

Irrigation system

Cacti and Palm trees and grapes and fruit trees reside side by side at this estate

Sicily is very dry as you can see by the many cacti on the island. We only had one day of rain in the nine days we were there. There were beautiful flowers everywhere though – jacaranda trees with gorgeous purple flowers, bougainvillea and oleander.

Two nights before we left, six of us ventured out to find a restaurant that Mighty Margaret’s daughter had told her about. Unfortunately we were told by a waitress at a café we passed by that it was now closed. This kind young lady suggested another seafood restaurant to us that she said was excellent. We thanked her and went on our way to find it. Once we arrived  we were the only patrons in the place. The staff welcomed us and set up a table immediately. While we looked over the menu we noticed the waiters rushing around with platters of appetizers, much to our surprise, that they began to place all over our table. There was so much to choose from that we couldn’t contain our surprise and delight and giggled with enthusiasm as we sampled all the delicious selections. There wasn’t much room for our second course of pasta but we did out best not to insult the staff. Evidently we gave our waiter quite a healthy tip because he stood by the door and kissed us all on both cheeks in appreciation! Alora! What a memorable night this was! We laughed about it all the way back to the hotel.

Food, fun, vino and new friends

Last stop on our tour was Taormina, the Jewel of Sicily, perched above the Ionian Sea. On a guided tour we were amazed by the Greek Theatre, the Duomo, and the gorgeous public gardens. The views from this theatre were spectacular. All around this area were dozens of shops of local artisans and their wares, sidewalk cafes and boutiques.

Greek Theatre, caverns and spring

Visit to a winery

We didn’t purchase many souvenirs, only these bowls and the two mugs! We will use them daily and treasure the memories. I looked in vain for a white lacy scarf but didn’t find what I wanted. Alora! Maybe another time I will find it!

Souvenir shops

Our last night was spent at a local restaurant outside setting with a musical trio, three men with a tambourine, accordion and a guitar, singing Italian favorites including We Marie, Deliah, O Sole Mio, Volare, and Lazy Mary. Here are some photos of the trio and my fellow travelers having a grand old time saying goodbye to Sicily.


These incredible memories that we take with us from this fabulous trip will forever be forged in our minds and in our photos. I would highly recommend Collette Tours for your next vacation. They even picked us up at our door and drove us to the airport and home on our return. Alora! What a fantastic service! Thank you, Collette, Cristina and Antonio for making our trip so special and unforgettable!

I don’t know if you noticed the word Alora was repeated throughout this post. Well, Alora means umm or a pause in thinking. I thought it would be interesting to add. Hope you don’t mind its overuse. Here are some more Italian words for you to try out! Italian is such a musical language. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing the extra vowels on the end of every word. I was using Alora, Grazie (thank you), Prego (welcome), Arrivederci/Ciao (goodbye), Buon giorno (good morning), Scusi (excuse me) daily. It was fun to use another language.

Italian words and phrasesA special ‘thank you’ to our travel agent extraordinaire, Faye Sell of Martinelli Travel in Londonderry, New Hampshire for coordinating this wonderful trip!

I love to travel and look forward to the next adventure but wherever we may travel, near or far, it is always good to get home safely! For, there is no place like home!

I hope you enjoyed this post and my photos. We took over 700 photos but alas, I could not share them all with you. Feel free to share the post.

Thank you for stopping by! I hope all my fellow travelers enjoy reliving our trip. Please drop me a line, my friends!

Blessings and hugs! Arrivederci!


Posted in blogging, Collette Tours, flowers, Sicily, Travels & vacationing, vacation, Writing, book reviews and publishing, poetry, children's books, YA and novels | Tagged , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Davey & Derek Book 5 is Now Here!

Davey & Derek Junior Detectives Series, Book 5, The Case of the Sad Mischievous Ghost is now here! It’s available on Createspace, Amazon, Kindle, and soon to Barnes & Noble.

This is the one your children have been waiting for – the fifth installment of this award-winning series. All Davey & Derek Junior Detectives’ books will make reading fun this summer. Find out what the twins are up to in this new mystery if you dare. There will be ghosts and scary dark places where they hide. Keep your light on at night when you read!


Twins Davey and Derek Donato are enlisted by two new characters, Abby and her cousin Holly, to assist them in finding and capturing the spooky beings that haunt their house.
When the boys visit Abby’s house they discover that this old Victorian holds many secrets and shocking revelations. This house appears to be haunted by multiple stubborn specters.
Davey and Derek soon find that they may need the assistance of their Great Aunt Gigi to handle these mischievous phantoms.

There are now five books in this series for your MG/PT/YA to read. Go to my Amazon Author page for all Jemsbooks. You will find something for all ages!

                          Book 1                    Book 2                    Book 3              Book 4

After publishing three books this year between March and June it’s time for my husband/illustrator and me to take a much-needed breather to get recharged. When we return, I will begin re-editing Hunting Mariah and writing its sequel. I have already begun a new mystery series for girls with the new characters from Book 5. It may not be published until the end of this year or beginning of next.

While we are gone, please look over all my books and check out previous posts. There’s more to read and enjoy until I return.

Don’t forget to visit Hugh Roberts’ marvelous blog where my book, An Angel Among Us, is featured for the month of June. While you are there check out all the fabulous posts he has to offer!

Thank you for stopping by. Happy reading!

Remember: Reading Gives You Wings to Fly!

Blessings & hugs!


Posted in action, adventure, Award-winning books, Davey & Derek Junior Detectives Series, Jemsbooks, middle-grade books, middle-grade series, Reading, summer reading for kids, Writing, book reviews and publishing, poetry, children's books, YA and novels, Young adult | Tagged , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Update – Karen Ingalls, Janice Spina and Fiona Tarr

A wonderful lineup on Sally Cronin’s fabulous blog that I am honored to be in. Please check it out and visit there awhile for plenty of books, authors and medical info by blogger, Author, Nutritionist, Sally Cronin! Thank you, Sally, for all that you do for others! ❤️ Xx

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Welcome to the update and we begin with an offer from Karen Ingalls whose book, Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir is FREEfrom 4th – 8th June. You can also obtain signed copies direct from Karen for only $2.99 on  kareningalls1941@gmail.com. Karen is celebrating nine years clear of cancer and all proceeds go to research into this life threatening and certainly life changing disease.

About the book

When Karen Ingalls was diagnosed with Stage IIC ovarian cancer, she realized how little she knew about what is called “the silent killer.” As Ingalls began to educate herself she felt overwhelmed by the prevalent negativity of cancer. Lost in the information about drugs, side effects, and statistics, she redirected her energy to focus on the equally overwhelming blessings of life, learning to rejoice in each day and find peace in spirituality.

In this memoir, Karen is a calming presence and…

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Posted in Writing, book reviews and publishing, poetry, children's books, YA and novels | 2 Comments

Book Of The Month – An Angel Among Us – by J. E. Spina @janice_spina

I am honored to be on Hugh Roberts’ fabulous blog in this fun interview and have my book featured for the month! I am excited to be there! Hope my readers will visit me there and check out Hugh’s many wonderful and informative posts! Happy reading everyone! Thank you for your support!

Hugh's Views & News

Welcome to this month’s Book Of The Month Feature. I’m delighted to welcome Janice Spina for the first time to my blog, although I did review one of her books last year. You can read the review by clicking here.

Over to you, Janice…

What’s the name of the book?

An Angel Among Us (A Short Story Collection)

#books #shortstories #authors #interviews The new short story collection from Janice Spina

What inspired you to write it?

I connected online with a friend I hadn’t seen since five years after high school. She had lost her husband and was dying from breast cancer. My heart went out to her, and I wanted to do something, so I dedicated the first story of this collection to my friend which is also the title of the book. I sent her the story I wrote for her, but unfortunately, my dear friend died before I could send…

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Posted in Writing, book reviews and publishing, poetry, children's books, YA and novels | 6 Comments

Goodreads Giveaway of Colby the Courageous Cat!

I am happy to announce I have a new Goodreads Giveaway beginning on May 31 through June 30, 2017 of my children’s book, Colby the Courageous Cat! It will be available to USA residents only. I will be offering three autographed books in this giveaway. 

This book was dedicated to the memory of my daughter’s cat, Colby, that she had for nine years. Colby really was adventurous. He would stay out all night and only stop in for a quick meal and a head rub and then off he would go again in search of little critters to chase. One day he chased a chipmunk up our chimney on the outside of the house. I was weeding in the front and along raced a chipmunk that tried to run up my leg to hide with Colby close behind. I screamed and the chipmunk ran up the chimney with Colby on his tail. They both got half way up when gravity took over. It was hilarious and worthy of a video which we didn’t take. Oh well, no $10,000 for me! LOL!

This book is written in rhyme and carries an important life lesson as do all Jemsbooks. Kids will love the adventures that Colby and his siblings get into.


Colby is one of a litter of four kittens. The kittens get into all kinds of trouble. Being the biggest and strongest, Colby’s mother expects him to watch over the smaller kittens and keep them safe. Read and find out what Colby does to meet his mother’s expectations.

Please sign up below for a chance to win one of three books.  Goodreads Giveaway begins May 31, 2017 and ends June 30, 2017! Good luck everyone!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Colby the Courageous Cat by Janice Spina

Colby the Courageous Cat

by Janice Spina

Giveaway ends June 30, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Please check out all Jemsbooks for some fun adventures in reading for both you and your kids – all ages! Reading to your kids is not only good for them but for you too! Spend some quality time with your children and you will be rewarded twofold. You will become closer as a family and strengthen the bond you have with them. Throw in some kisses and hugs and cuddles and you have the perfect mix.

Remember: Reading Gives You Wings to Fly! Soar this summer with Jemsbooks!

If you need ideas for more books to read, please check out this previous post in April 2017 on Summer Reading for All Ages!

Thank you for stopping by! Happy reading!

Blessings & hugs,


Posted in animal stories, Books for kids, books in rhyme, children's books, goodreads giveaway, Jemsbooks, Reading, summer reading for kids, Writing, book reviews and publishing, poetry, children's books, YA and novels | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Memorial Day – Remember Those Who Served!

Memorial Day is coming soon! Thank a soldier that you know or meet for their service by tapping your chest with your hand and nodding at them. They will know what you mean. Please say a prayer to keep them safe and bring them home soon.



This is a day to remember those who died.


They put everything else aside.


They fought for your country with pride.


They sacrificed their lives for others.


Unselfishly they did this for their mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers.


To all of us they have given their best.


May now in peace shall they rest.


Let us not forget what these brave men and women have done for us all!


May God Bless them and keep them safe!

My father served in World War II as a Marine. I remember how proud he was of his service. He received a Purple Heart after he was injured in combat.

Here’s my handsome dad in his Marine uniform proudly marching. I couldn’t edit this to resize it reason why it is so large! He was larger than life in my eyes!


What I did notice was how difficult it was for my father to talk about what he witnessed while he was in the service during WWII. He never really talked about the events until one day when I was a teenager.

I pushed him that day to talk about his experiences. All he could say was, “This war is something you can never forget. I lost many of my buddies. They were picked off and dropped down right next to me. I was lucky to survive with just a bullet wound.” My father passed away after a wonderful life in 2001. I miss him!

Thank you for stopping by!

Blessings & hugs to all! A special thanks to all you servicemen and woman for keeping us safe!


(Photos compliments of Wikimedia)

Posted in Memorial Day, remember those who served, servicemen and women | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

New Children’s Book from Jemsbooks Now Here!

Jeffrey the Jittery Giraffe

Here is a sneak peek of the cover done by my husband, John!

My newest children’s book is now here – Jeffrey the Jittery Giraffe, for ages PS-Grade 3. It is an easy reader for beginner readers and a fun read-aloud book in rhyme for younger children. It carries an important life lesson as do all Jemsbooks for children. Now available on CreatespaceAmazon paperback and Kindle, and Barnes & Noble.

This book was written at the request of a woman I met over a year and a half ago at a book signing in Derry, New Hampshire, USA. I hope she will see this and contact me for her grandson’s book.


Jeffrey is a nervous giraffe due to a terrible storm on the day of his birth. He remembers that day and is frightened of any kind of noise or unexpected things happening to him. His mother tells him that he is stronger than he thinks.

One day Jeffrey  meets another giraffe who needs his help. Read this story in rhyme and find out what important lesson Jeffrey learns when he thinks of others before himself.

It is on my Amazon Author Page and at my Barnes & Noble Page, also at other online stores.

Please check out all Jemsbooks to the right of this post for your children’s summer time reading. There is something for all ages, even for you parents!

Thank you for stopping by!

Remember to read to your children daily! It’s not only fun for them but fun for you too!

Reading Gives You Wings to Fly! Soar with Jemsbooks this summer!

Blessings & hugs,


Posted in animal stories, Books for kids, books in rhyme, children's books, children's stories, kindness to others, new book, Reading, summer reading for kids, Writing, Writing, book reviews and publishing, poetry, children's books, YA and novels | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Interview with Author Deanie Humphrys-Dunne!

Please welcome award-winning author Deanie Humphrys-Dunne. Deanie is a talented and inspiring person who did the impossible to reach her goal. I’ll let Deanie tell us about herself and her books.

Thank you, Deanie, for coming today to share your new book with my readers.

Please tell us something about yourself.

First of all, thank you so much for inviting me for an interview, Janice. It’s always fun to spend time with you.
I’m a children’s author with 5 books published; My Life at Sweetbrier; A Life Changed by Horses is a brand-new juvenile non-fiction book about my life on our family’s riding school and the decision my dad made to change my life. My goal is to inspire children to reach for their dreams because you can do most anything. The other fictional books are; Charlie the Horse, Charlene the Star, Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes, and Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog. These stories are told by the endearing animal characters. The books all share positive messages for children and my gifted sister, Holly Humphrys-Bajaj, illustrated them. These books have won a number of awards and recognitions.

When did you know that you wanted to be an author?
When I was a little girl I liked writing stories, but I never expected to become an author. My parents always said I should try it, but I thought it was a silly idea. I never had the confidence to try it until I completed two courses with the Institute of Children’s Literature. One day I had a strong intuition to. Once I tested it out, I loved it and haven’t stopped since. 😊

What process do you need in order to write?
Once I get an idea for a story, I start writing it. I never get things right the first time, but I keep improving the story until I think it’s ready to publish. It’s so easy to become anxious about publishing stories. I tend to want to hurry up, but I’m learning to revise and revise until the story seems ready. It’s infuriating to find a mistake or something that could be improved after I submit a book for publishing.

How do you come up with ideas for your stories?

There are different ways. Sometimes I get an idea and sometimes something happens to create the idea. For example, last spring we bought an older lawn tractor. It’s so cute with huge headlights, like cars have. I thought it would make an adorable picture book so Holly and I are working on it.

What projects are you currently working on?

Well, as I just mentioned, we’re working on a picture book and also a sequel to that one. I’m not sure what else we have coming up, but we are excited about the picture books, because they are the first for Holly and me.

What do you expect to accomplish in 2017?

I would love to have the first picture book published, but Holly may not have time to finish the illustrations until next year. Also, I hope my new book, My Life at Sweetbrier-A Life Changed by Horses, is a success. We’ll be working diligently to make that happen.

What hobbies do you have when you are not writing?

I love spending time with my family. But also, I enjoy watching equestrian events, figure skating competitions, and baseball games. As a former voice student, I love music and singing as well. Finally, I’d say I like to read and review children’s books for other authors.

What is your target audience for your book?

The target audience is eight to twelve-year-old readers. I think it’s best-suited for them, but that doesn’t mean readers of other ages would not enjoy it. We hope it is a book that will motivate many readers to follow their dreams. I have always felt it’s important to remind children it’s okay to struggle with something, but if you keep trying, you can overcome many things, regardless of what you are told by others.

Please share your books with us and a synopsis of each.

My Life at Sweetbrier-A Life Changed by Horses: Is a true story of a little girl whose single passion was to become a champion horseback rider. But the problem is, her parents were told she would never walk, let alone ride. What will happen next? What does her dad do that changes her life? Will a failed racehorse and a handicapped girl become a winning team? This is the author’s true story of her journey. Even if Deanie prevails, will she find exactly the right horse to help her win?

Charlie the Horse: Charlie is a young horse with big dreams. He wants to become a famous racehorse like his dad, Charles the Great. But will Charlie have the talent to succeed? What will happen when he doesn’t feel like racing? What if he has problems on the racetrack? Charlie’s amusing tale is sure to inspire and entertain young readers.

Charlene the Star: Charlene the Star is a beautiful red horse who comes from a family of famous racehorses. But what happens if Charlene doesn’t like racing? Will she become a model instead? Young readers will be delighted to read this story about a young horse who doesn’t fit in. They may be surprised about Charlene’s amazing talent.

Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes: Charlene the Star and her friends are looking for something exciting to do in their spare time. Hattie, Charlene, Wooliam, and their animal friends choose to start their own company to help their pals. They all work together and find creative ways to solve problems. Young readers will be amused by this story, which shares good advice on teamwork, friendship and helping others.

Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog: Charlene the Star makes new friends in this exciting adventure. She hopes to win a special award for jumpers. She must learn important things if she wants to reach her goal. Does she succeed? How does Hattie react when she sees the headline in “The Gazette?” Why is Cherish so afraid? Your child will be fascinated with the amusing adventures of Charlene and her friends. Children will be entertained and learn important life lessons.


Monday Creek Publishing
My Life at Sweetbrier-A Life Changed by Horse
Charlie the Horse
Create Space

Charlene the Star:

Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes

Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog

What advice would you give prospective authors?

I would encourage prospective authors to follow their dreams and passions. If writing is your passion, pursue it. Try not to dwell on the people who tell you you’ll never succeed, because they only offer an opinion. Learn all you can about writing. You might consider joining a critique group. I’m part of one and they’re very helpful.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I’d like to thank all of my readers and fellow authors like yourself, who continue to encourage me and support my efforts. Nothing would be the same without you. Thank you again for featuring me and my books.

It was a pleasure to have you, Deanie! I wish you all the best with your books.

Here is my review of Deanie’s book, My Life at Sweetbrier-A Life Changed by Horses:

This is a new edition of this book which has more chapters added and photos of the author’s life. A wonderful story of a life full of determination and perseverance.

If you are looking for an inspirational and unforgettable read this is the book for you. This book will bring you to tears as you read about this inspiring little girl who learns never to say no to her dreams. She was born with a handicap and her parents were told that she would never walk. With a surprisingly strong will and determination to do what her sisters could do, ride horses and win championships, Deanie learned to ride. She found it very difficult and had to adjust many times to falling off her horse and getting up again and again. She never gave up and finally she did succeed and became a championship jumper.

This is quite a feat for this little girl and through her trials and tribulations she teaches children and adults that perseverance pays off. If you want to live your dream then you must work hard even if you at first fail you must keep trying and never give up. By not giving up you will be rewarded with success and a wonderful feeling of accomplishment. Deanie is a remarkable woman who has inspired me by her example. She is a talented and creative author of five books and continues to pursue her dreams in being a very successful author. I think she is well on her way to success for nothing will keep her from obtaining her goal.

This is an excellent story for middle school and high school students to encourage them to pursue their dreams and, proving by Deanie’s example, that no obstacle is too great.

I was given a copy of this book and I chose to give an honest review.

Thank you, readers, for stopping by. Please check out all Deanie’s books to see how inspiring she truly is.

Blessings & hugs,


Posted in Author Interviews, middle-grade books, new book, Reading, Writing, book reviews and publishing, poetry, children's books, YA and novels | Tagged , , , , | 15 Comments

Why Being Nominated Is a Win – Guest Post by, Mike Martin…

Congrats to Mike Martin on his nomination to the short list for a Bony Blithe Award! Wishing you all the best, Mike! Love your books!

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Sometimes just being nominated is a win, at least it is for me. My book, A Long Ways from Home, just got shortlisted for the Bony Blithe Award.

The book was chosen from scores of entries to the Bony Blithe Awards which every year recognizes the best in Canadian light mysteries. The Bony Blithe Award (officially the Bloody Words Light Mystery Award) is an annual Canadian award that celebrates traditional, feel-good mysteries.

Now in its sixth year, the award is for a “mystery book that makes us smile” and includes everything from laugh-out-loud to gentle humour to good old-fashioned stories with little violence or gore – in short, books that are fun to read.

The award along with a cash prize of $1,000 will be presented at a conference and gala awards dinner on May 26, 2017 at the prestigious High Park Club in Toronto.

Wish me luck…

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Posted in Writing, book reviews and publishing, poetry, children's books, YA and novels | 1 Comment

Cover Reveal for Book 5 of Davey & Derek Series!

I am excited to reveal the cover for Book 5 of Davey & Derek Junior Detectives Series, The Case of the Sad Mischievous Ghost! I absolutely love this cover! Hope you like it too!! My husband, John, did an amazing job creating it!


Davey & Derek Junior Detectives Series, Book 5, The Case of the Sad Mischievous Ghost will be coming soon to an Amazon, Barnes & Noble or other online stores near you.  I promise to list links to all Amazon sites to make it easy to find this new book and all my books.

Blurb from Davey & Derek Junior Detectives Series, Book 5

Twins Davey and Derek Donato, junior detectives by their own design, are enlisted by two new characters, Abby Rizzo and her cousin Holly, sixth graders, to assist them in finding and capturing the spooky beings that haunt their house.

When the boys visit Abby’s house they discover that this old Victorian house holds many secrets and shocking revelations for all. This house appears to be haunted by multiple stubborn specters. When one of the apparitions appears to Abby and Holly and presents them with two books that reveal the identity of one of the specters, the girls feel compelled to help the ghosts find their way to the other side. Once the girls share this new information with the twins, Davey and Derek, find that they may need the assistance of their Great Aunt Gigi to handle these mischievous phantoms. 

Purchase links to all Jemsbooks:


Barnes & Noble

Amazon Link to Davey & Derek Book 1


Amazon Link to Davey & Derek Book 2


Amazon Link to Davey & Derek Book 3


Amazon Link to Davey & Derek Book 4

Link to Barnes & Noble for Children’s/YA/MG/PT books

Don’t forget to stock up for great summer reading for your kids and yourself. Here is the post for my Summer Reading List.

Thank you for stopping by. Please keep a look out for new books coming from Jemsbooks this year and next!! There is something for all the members of your family.


Blessings & Hugs,


Posted in action, adventure, Award-winning books, Books for all ages, Books for kids, Davey & Derek Junior Detectives Series, Jemsbooks, middle-grade books, middle-grade series, summer reading for kids, Writing, book reviews and publishing, poetry, children's books, YA and novels, Young adult | Tagged , , , , | 31 Comments