Author Archives: kaseysnana

Murder 101

Welcome back, everyone. Thanks for all the comments I rec’d last week about T.D. Jakes’s book, Not Easily Broken. This week I’m reviewing a totally different type of book, Murder 101, a mystery by first time author, Maggie Barbieri.

The heroine of this whodunnit, Alison Bergeron is a quiet, unassuming  English professor at a small college on the banks of the Hudson River. Recently divorced and without a car since hers was stolen, the last thing Alison expects is to become the prime suspect in a murder investigation.

Alison isn’t your typical hip, overly confident amateur sleuth like the ones who populate most mysteries. She cries a lot, eats often, drinks plenty, and throws up when she’s nervous, which happens on a regular basis. The story is told in first-person so the reader gets to know Alison well. She isn’t aware of her own charm or dry sense of humor, which makes her all the more endearing.

I’m giving this book four and a half stars. A few scenes in the book seemed to happen just for the sake of humor or filling space, but even so they didn’t slow down the pace of the story. If you’re looking for a different voice in your typical whodunnit, Ms. Barbieri delivers. With plenty of romance and mystery, this book will make good use of your next snowy afternoon.

Please post a comment and let me know what you think. Each comment enters you in the drawing for an ARC of my latest book, The Ultimate Guide to Darcy Carter.    

Happy reading,                                                                            Teresa Slack

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Not Easily Broken

Beginning this week, I will be posting a review here every Monday in January. Please read the review and post a comment. At the end of the month, I will choose the best comment and award the winner an autographed Advance Reading Copy of my latest book, The Ultimate Guide to Darcy Carter. You may post a comment on each book review, increasing your chances to win.

The first book I am reviewing is Not Easily BrokenOctober 2006, a fiction work by author and pastor, Bishop T.D. Jakes.

Enjoy the review. Let me know what you think. And don’t take my word for it. Read the book and decide for yourself. Remember, you must comment to enter the contest. Each person who enters will also have the opportunity to join my new readers’ club. More about that later.

Not Easily Broken–by T. D. Jakes

Clarice Johnson is beautiful, ambitious, and driven. Fiercely independent, she has no patience for an adoring husband who seemingly has no desire to become more than he is right now. Clarice’s husband Dave is a down to earth blue collar kind of guy who runs a successful janitorial service and coaches a little league team of underprivileged youth.

When the couple is involved in an automobile accident, Clarice becomes dependent on others for the first time in her life. She has been told by her mother since childhood that she must never put herself at the mercy of another–especially a man–because they will always let her down.

An attraction develops between Dave and Clarice’s physical therapist, Julie. As Clarice’s depression mounts, Dave turns to Julie, who reminds him what it’s like to be needed.

Dialog is not Bishop Jakes’s strong suit. There’s a lot of white space containing passages such as:
“Hi, how are you?”
“Fine, and you?”
“Good, good.” before finally getting down to business. Other conversations are cut off and stilted, which might’ve provided greater character insight. For instance during a counseling session, just as the conversation gets meaty, the author sums up the session and the characters schedule another.

The book sometimes reads like a carefully veiled sermon. Because of this and dialog that often bogs down the progression of the story, I am giving it 3 stars. I believe Not Easily Broken can and will minister to people who find themselves wondering if the grass is truly greener on the other side of the fence. Many marriages turn into a “What’s in this for me?” situation that leads to pain and frustration. I think all couples question their choices at one time or another and get too wrapped up in themselves to consider the needs of the other person in the relationship.

The author has obviously seen this too much in his years behind the pulpit and knows from where he’s writing. Fortunately he does not wrap up the couple’s problems in the end in a neat little package. Life seldom happens that way. My main complaint about the book is that I was too aware of the author during the course of the story. All in all, a good story that will stay with the reader for a long time.

Don’t forget to post a comment. If you’ve already read this title, let us know what you think. I will be choosing the best comment at the end of the month and awarding an ARC copy of my latest romance, The Ultimate Guide to Darcy Carter.

Go Bucks!!!
Teresa Slack

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Looking Ahead to ’07

Okay folks, December is nearly over. Time to finish up the last of the cookies and the fudge (In Ohio we eat Buckeyes this time of year–not the ones off the trees. Does everyone know what those are?) take down the tree, turn off the Bowl games, and get back to work.

We haven’t heard a peep from many of the Tsaba House authors this month. I know you’re all busy with your ‘real’ jobs and the thousands of chores that come with this glorious time of year, but it’s time to hear from you again. I’ll kick it off with that eternal question: What’s in the works for 2007?

No, I don’t mean those plans to stop charging breakfast at McDonalds, quit smoking, get more exercise, drop ten pounds, and spend more time out of the office surrounded by family and loved ones. I’m talking writing related. So what have you got? I want everyone to chime in on this one.

Am I not the hard nose this morning?

I’ll go first to get you inspired. I am just finishing up my work in progress today. Yes, today. I’ll print it off and give to a reader whose opinion I truly value and distance myself from the project for a few weeks. During January I plan to outline and brainstorm for Book 4 in my Jenna’s Creek Series…something that should have been done already, but you know how it is. The first half of 2007 will be dedicated to Book 4. Immediately upon finishing Book 4, I will get into Book 5, the final installment of the series. That should take care of 2007. Somewhere in there I need to write a short novel to be included in a book with Molly Noble Bull, with whom I am looking forward to working. It depends on the needs of my publisher and editor if the novella takes precedence over Book 5, but we’ll work that out when the time comes.

Evidence of Grace, Book 3 in the Jenna’s Creek series is due out in June, ’07. That will mean another marketing push–book tours, signings, lectures, and library events. Marketing has a nasty habit of throwing a wrench in a writer’s writing schedule, but it is a necessary part of the game. It gives me a chance to get out from behind the computer and meet the readers I’m writing for. I can’t wait.

I have a busy year ahead of me and I’m sure you do as well. Enjoy the last three days of 2006 and let’s get psyched about ’07. Here’s wishing all a safe and happy New Year.

Teresa

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Where is Christmas?

The weather has been unseasonably warm here in Ohio with temps in the low 60’s for the past two weeks. I’m not complaining…I love it. But it doesn’t seem like Christmas when it’s too warm to wear my festive sweaters to holiday parties. Besides the weather I am getting in the spirit of things. The cards are sent, the packages wrapped and under the tree. Christmas bonuses are received and spent and the table is set and ready for guests, figuratively speaking.

The sermon in church this morning was Where is Your Christmas. It was about giving rather than receiving. Most of us in this country are incredibly blessed, we just don’t realize it sometimes. Few–if any–of us went to bed hungry last night. Most of us will have at least one gift under our tree. If not, it is by choice. Somebody somewhere loves us enough to send a card or Christmas greeting. But it’s easy to look inward at all the things we don’t have and think we need and start feeling sorry for ourselves.

I won’t use this post to count my blessings or remind you of yours. This is a writing blog so I’ll try to focus on that. The thing most of us lack the most is time. We have so much to do this month, it’s hard to find time or inspiration to focus on something as illusive as writing. I’m not getting as much work done this month as I had hoped and I think the rest of you are in the same boat. I comfort myself in knowing I have invitations and engagements and requests for cookies and movies to see with my grandchildren. If the writing falls by the wayside for another month, I don’t suppose it will matter.

As long as I’m not blatantly lazy, I won’t feel bad that other obligations have kept me from the computer. Life is short. Not to worry, dear reader…the book I am working on is definitely worth the wait.

Wishing all a wonderful and blessed Christmas holiday.

Teresa Slack

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My Least Productive Month


Even though this picture has nothing to do with writing and it isn’t a good idea to post pictures of children on the Internet, I couldn’t resist sharing this one of my grandson enjoying his first birthday cake. To preserve his anonymity, I won’t tell you his name or where he’s from, but isn’t he gorgeous!?

Okay, enough proud Nana. Back to writer-mode and why December is my least productive month.

I think it’s safe to assume I’m not the only person in a creative field who finds it hard to focus on work during this busy time of year. Actually I begin to lose focus and concentration around Halloween. That’s when I start making shopping lists and thinking about menus for Thanksgiving, especially on those years when it’s my turn to hostess–this year’s a double whammy with hosting Thanksgiving and Christmas. Besides shopping and baking and cleaning and Christmas cards and newsletters and planning entertainment for my guests, I find myself caught up in the spirit of things. I enjoy the weather and carols and friends and all those added activities of the season. Writing and writing related activities fall to the bottom of my to do list.

I am determined this month will be different. But how to stay focused and actually accomplish something when all I want to do is go to parties, try new recipes, and watch old movies.

I am currently in the editing stages of my latest WIP. If I want to see this book published in the first half of 2008, I need to get it in the hands of my editor and my publisher in January. That’s the thing about writing that most non-writers don’t realize. The publishing schedule is usually at least a year ahead, even in the big New York houses. I have a reader who constantly asks me when she can expect my next book. She never likes my answers. In this case, the next book will be out June ’08. She told me she always thought a writer takes a few months to write a book, sends it in, and within a month or two, they have a book in their hands. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Consequently, my motivation for staying on course with this book throughout December is that I want to see it published in ’08. A goal that seems far reaching to those outside the publishing field, but realistic for those who understand how the system works.

Today is December 4th, 21 short days until Christmas Day. About eighteen days before I throw my hands in the air and forget about writing altogether and just relax and enjoy the holidays with my family. As of this moment, I am determined to work like a crazy woman until then. Who knows what tomorrow might bring…an invitation to another party, a Christmas card from someone I haven’t heard from in a long time who requires a long reply, trouble on my website that requires my immediate attention and takes me farther from my book.

Working for one’s self is a blessing in many ways, but it can equally be a curse. I make my own schedule which leaves plenty of room for fooling around and wasting a day without even realizing it. So back to work. We’ll see how things stand next week when I only have 14 days till Christmas and probably just as much work to do.

Peace and Love to All.
Teresa Slack

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Let’s Give Thanks


Yesterday, I finished the last leg of my 2006 touring schedule if you will. Not as impressive as it sounds, but I had a great time hearing how my books have touched hearts and meeting new readers. This makes my third Christmas season as a published author. I take advantage of the gift giving season to stand behind a table and sell books at every bazaar and craft fair I can afford. Each year earns me more attention and more books sold. Yesterday was a hometown event and I did very well. Lots of fun meeting readers who bought books last year and came back for more.

Writing is a lonely, often frustrating career choice, so getting out and meeting readers face to face does a world of good in reaffirming that you’re doing the right thing. Last week in Wilmington, Ohio I met an aspiring young writer. Speaking to young people like Kayla makes me realize how blessed I am to be a part of this business. If you’re like me, you often question your abilities and your decision to ever pursue writing in the first place. I think all writers do. Maybe everyone in any career. But this young lady was full of questions…and full of doubts. When I told her of my own frustrations when characters don’t cooperate and storylines don’t come together, her face lit up. She thought she was the only one. She’d never spoken to someone who actually understood her and the pain of putting one’s thoughts to paper.

Talking to Kayla and others like her make the times of sitting behind my computer fighting my own doubts worthwhile. On a regular basis I wonder if I’m doing the right thing. With so many books out there and so many people trying to break into the publishing world, will it matter if I never write another word? Will anyone miss me?

Even if the answer is no, I would miss writing. Even after all this time and knowing what I do about the business, I can’t make myself not write. I suppose that’s what I’m most thankful for this year. Besides all the family and friends and good health I enjoy and a thousand other things I too often take for granted, I am thankful for young people like Kayla and readers like Donna and all those who took the time yesterday to tell me how much they enjoyed the books and to buy the new ones, and bookstore owners like Patsy Maxwell in Sidney, Ohio who invited me into her lovely store to meet her customers.

I don’t know if it’s in God’s plan that I become as well known as some writers of Christian fiction. I don’t know which of my books will become a break-out bestseller or if any of them will. But I am grateful for the opportunities 2006 has brought. If the Lord tarries, I am looking forward to an exciting and productive 2007.

Blessings to all & best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving surrounded by family and loved ones.
Teresa

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Seems like everyone at Tsaba House is at different stages in writing. Some are birthing projects, some are still planning and considering and weighing the odds of taking this ‘baby’ from conception through college, some are fine tuning existing projects to make them the best they can possibly be. I am on the second–and most important draft–of my current WIP. I know the CEO of our little publishing family is chomping at the bit since I have not turned in a manuscript for all of 2006. But I am working. I finished one book this year but it is part of a new series so it won’t see daylight after my Jenna’s Creek series is finished. As far as the WIP, I hope it will be ready to send by the end of the year.

This time of year is generally dedicated to marketing for me, while the actual writing process is put on the back burner. I have three book events in the next 13 days, then I can take a breather and get ready for Thanksgiving which I will be hosting this year. I remember the early days of my writing career with fondness. Back then, I only had one book in my mind; one story to bring to the page. I wasn’t worried about marketing or creating elaborate newsletters or websites or book signings or carrying bookmarks with me every time I left the house in case I met someone who didn’t know I wrote a book. When I went to the grocery store, it was only to buy milk and bread. Now it’s a marketing opportunity. Is there something I can post on the bulletin board? Will I run into Sharon who always wants the newest book, and if I haven’t released one in awhile, she’ll give me grief about the wait between books? Do I need to pick up chocolates to put on the table at my next event?

I don’t go anywhere without making a concious effort to turn the trip into a marketing op. No matter what I’m doing or where I’m going, it’s always about the books. I eat and breathe marketing. And it is exhausting. But at the same time, it’s exciting and rewarding. Getting a book published has opened up so many opportunities for me. Even when an author event doesn’t live up to my hopes in terms of book sales, I always benefit for having gone.

First off, I’m doing what I love. I’ve always wanted to tell stories. I am fortunate that I don’t have to get up every morning and go to a job that eats up my precious time when I would rather be sitting in front of my computer. The best part by far is the people I have met in the past two years. It seems like every time I need a boost and my doubts in my abilities have crowded out everything else, God sends someone across my path who gives me an encouraging word or affirmation.

Just last night in church, after a particularly oppressive week, as I was coming off the pulpit after making an announcement, a gentleman said he felt the need to pray for me and my books right then. He and the pastor led the prayer as the congregation raised their hands toward me. God always knows when we need lifted up, and sometimes when we need to be set in our place.

Wishing everyone a prosperous week. Let us keep our eyes and ears open to the Lord’s leading, whether writing or whatever other job He’s given us. 2006 is winding down. Let’s make the most of it.

Teresa Slack

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