September Newsletter – PennedCon Review, The Broken Girls and The Dating Debate

His lack of explanation only left her as puzzled as she had been at Christmas, wondering what he was hiding. Left alone, the entire mess was sure to drive her to madness. The question sat just behind her teeth like a caged animal snarling to be set free, but for once that’s where she left it.

~ From Across Oceans (Hope or High Water Book 1)

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71035914_2528878007344267_380046529148223488_nThis month’s main event was PennedCon, 190 authors and around 1,000 readers coming together to raise money for charity. Thank you to everyone who came out for the conference, whether you purchased my books or not. This year you helped raise $13,366 for Action for Autism. More incredible, on the final day of the conference, an anonymous donor matched that amount for a total of $26,732, bringing the conference’s six year total to over $89,000! That’s simply amazing! We’re helping change children’s lives all through love of reading.

I also enjoy these types of events because, while I primarily read historical fiction, I believe there is much to be learned from those who read and write all sorts of genres. At PennedCon, there are authors in every category from paranormal to sci-fi, romance to steampunk, and even children’s books. Talking about books is one of my favorite things to do, and it was so much fun connecting with each of you. I received great feedback over the three day conference, and I’m excited to implement some new ideas over the coming months. Stay tuned!

As a side note, if you attended PennedCon, you might have noticed the banner behind my table. Well, there’s a story behind those photographs. Yes, they indicate that my novels are historical fiction, but they also happen to be relatives of mine. The boy on the left is my great-grandfather, the couple in the middle are my grandparents, and the woman on the right is my other grandmother. Even though my ancestors may be gone, they’re still an important part of my ongoing life story and inspire me every day. I enjoy sprinkling tidbits from my family tree throughout my novels, and love that I can share some of their history with you.

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Recommended Reads

35533431._uy500_ss500_.jpgWith Halloween coming up next month, I decided to feature The Broken Girls by Simone St. James. Part murder mystery, part ghost story, this dual timeline novel follows journalist Fiona Sheridan in 2014 as she searches for answers to her sister’s murder over twenty years ago. Juxtaposed with her story is that of four friends in 1950 at Idlewild Hall, a boarding school for troubled girls and also the location of Fiona’s sister’s murder. Although the convicted killer sits in jail for the crime, Fiona can’t shake the feeling that there is more to the story. As she digs deeper into the mystery, she discovers long buried secrets within the school and learns that she may not be the only one seeking justice.

I don’t read many ghost stories as I’m not one for scary novels, but this was recommended to me for the historical aspects, and I’m glad I gave it a chance. Simone St. James creates a paranormal mystery that honestly is more intriguing than frightening, although there were a few chapters where I would have rather not been reading at night. While I liked Fiona’s side of the story, in particular her interesting relationship with the sheriff’s son, I really enjoyed the chapters around the girls at the boarding school. Each has her own troubled personal background which we find out in small pieces rather than explaining everything at the beginning. I felt like I was participating in my own investigation, digging through past and present, physical and ethereal, slowly putting the pieces together until the big reveal at the end.

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611gW6XVJxL._SY445_QL70_.jpgI also jumped into my PennedCon purchases this past week. Wanting something fun, I chose Chris Cannon’s The Dating Debate, the first in her Dating Dilemmas series. In short, it’s about Nina, a teenage girl who doesn’t believe in Valentine’s Day, loves books, and is searching for someone who is fluent in Harry-Potter-nerd-speak. And wouldn’t you know, the perfect guy just happens to live next door! Nina and West are cute and humorous together and have some equally entertaining sidekick friends (who are the leads in the next book). Although most of the novel is not mentally taxing, the author does address the issue of mental illness through West’s mother’s hoarding. The scenes where he discusses how her illness influences his life actually took me by surprise and were some of the most moving of the book.

Side note: Look for the included easter egg when Nina is shown reading a shape-shifting dragon novel. This is in direct reference to the author’s own Going Down in Flames fantasy series.

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Upcoming Events

Do you know of an organization, book club, fair, coffee shop, book store, etc. that would be interested in hosting an author talk, book signing, or needs an event speaker? I’m working on my schedule for the upcoming year and would love to meet some new faces! If so, send me a note via the contact page.

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Read it? Loved it? Tell others by writing a review!

Need a copy of either book in the Hope or High Water series? Click the photo below.

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