Whether you’re looking for mystery, adventure, light-hearted laughs, or even something on the scarier side, The Storyteller’s Diary has it all! Set in the fantasy world of J. Edwards Holt’s Little Men, Big Treasures trilogy, this collection of short stories includes over a dozen tales, featuring all kinds of fantastic mythical creatures like dragons, wizards, elves, and much, much more!
Born in North Carolina, United States, J. Edwards Holt always knew that he wanted to be a writer. After graduating high school, he attended college and pursued a degree in education, but later decided to change course and follow his dream to become a novelist and children’s author.
Now a full-time writer, editor, and blogger, Holt spends his free time dreaming up stories and reading. He is passionate about spreading Christian messages through his writing, watching science fiction and super hero movies, and collecting comic books.
I’ve loved to read for as long as I can remember, but I have been in love with the audiobook form since I was 13 years old – I was grounded for the week, but found an old Walkman cassette player and passed the time with some great books. While I have been narrating professionally for less than a year, I already have a number of titles of various genres under my belt. In addition to my work on ACX, I also have experience doing sports announcing for local teams. As a teacher of English for 8 years, I read to and with my students almost every day from a variety of genres. I submitted my first audiobook, Reecah’s Flight by Richard H. Stephens, in February of 2020, the culmination of years of dreams and work, and have been going strong since!
Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
It was a fairly easy process. Thanks to ACX, I was able to find Dean Ruple, who helped make the process easy, and in the end did a fantastic job narrating.
Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?
Definitely. Characters stories and the more interactive stories are much better to listen to in audio.
Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
Absolutely. With Audible and all the audiobook platforms out these days, it’s definitely something on every author’s mind.
How did you select your narrator?
Well in this instance Dean actually approached me first, and I was very impressed with his audition so I chose him as the narrator.
How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process?
We kept in touch — and still do from time to time. Personally, I think we make a great team!
Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
Yes, I do. Some of the characters’ names are difficult to pronounce, so I always send my narrators a list of pronunciations.
Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
Much of my writing is inspired by stories and verses from the Bible, as well as other books and movies.
How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
It isn’t always easy. I would say that when it comes to writing, there are writing days and non-writing days. Some days I can just write away and other days I just know I’m not going to be able to get anything on the paper. So, my advice is this: if it isn’t working today, try it another day.
Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
I do listen to audiobooks from time to time. I love the way you can just sit back and listen to the book, letting your imagination kick in and create visuals for you.
Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
Hard to say, but I think that Dean really brings the characters and stories to life!
What’s next for you?
I’m working on the first book of my next series.It’s a trilogy set in the same world as “The Storyteller’s Diary”.
She caught her blurred reflection in the antiquated steel doors of the basement elevator.
Black turtleneck. Black Jeans. Black boots. Jacket and gloves, also black.
If she were in a nightclub, she would be called hot.
But she wasn’t some voluptuous bad-ass fashionista making a statement or setting a trend. She wore black for one reason. It hid blood splatter.
“Give me your knife, Jess.”
She’d forgotten it was still gripped in her fisted hand, blood dripping from its blade to the tarp on which she stood.
They extended their gloved hands, and he took the knife, dipping it into a small container of clear solution.
The blood disappeared.
He tossed the knife onto the tarp with the body and began rolling it up.
Jess stepped off her end and bent to help.
“No. I got this. You look a little shaken up. Scour the area and make sure we leave nothing behind.”
Jess walked around the small area of the underground parking garage but glanced over her shoulder to see Ren complete his task with ease and no emotion.
Was she shaken up?
Jess took one last look into the unseeing eyes of Neil Garner AKA William McNaughton before he disappeared into the folds of the tarp. She couldn’t muster up one ounce of guilt or remorse. She’d sent him to hell and knew she’d join him one day.
Jess grabbed Ren’s ‘tool bag’ and tossed it into the back of the Mercedes. She heard a dull thud and turned to see Ren walking away from the abandoned dumpster.
They climbed into the vehicle and began their return trip.
Thoughts of her aunt, Carmella Gordon, flooded her mind.
Her amazing aunt who’d always been a major part of Jess’ life, was gone, dead from her own hand.
Because of Neil Garner.
Malice – noun; mal·ice | ˈma-ləs
1 : desire to cause pain, injury, or distress to another // 2 : intent to commit an unlawful act or cause harm without legal justification or excuse //ruined her reputation and did it with malice
Everyone is capable of malice and no one is immune to its outcome.
A Hint of Malice – When her last living relative commits suicide after having her identity and assets stolen, a grieving niece longs for justice.
Burned – When the masterminds behind a major drug operation get off with a slap on the wrists, a frustrated police detective warns them their wealth cannot shield them from everything.
The Marshall Sisters – After seeing her sister mistreated by far too many men, Leslie Marshall is proud of Paula for standing up for herself and accompanies her on a cold winter’s night to confront her boyfriend, but even Leslie isn’t ready for the new, assertive Paula.
The Watcher – Shamed into exile by his family because of his sexual fetish and hanging on to the shreds of his sanity, a man plots the ultimate date night with his new neighbor.
What’s done in the dark always comes to the light.
Eating the Forbidden Fruit is a gritty fiction novel loosely based on true events in author Roland Sato Page’s life. The newcomer author delivers a personal journey into his rise and demise as a St. Louis City Police Officer. He takes the readers on a roller coaster ride of good ole family memories to the nightmarish reality of being a police officer indicted on federal drug charges. During his trial, he wrote memoirs as a testimonial of redemption. Roland’s case stems from the conflict of his childhood affiliation and his oath to uphold the law. What is certain is one can’t run from sin for karma is much faster. The author actually wrote the novel years ago however after battling Lupus he lost his motivation to complete it.Promising his mother, Fumi Karasawa, who recently passed that he would finish what he started. Roland opened his computer to complete telling his story. He also would like to encourage others with determination they too can reestablish position as a productive citizen.Roland was a popular tattoo artist in the St. Louis area however once diagnosed with Lupus he lost his hand and eye coordination bringing the body art career to a halt. No other choice he had to reinvent himself transforming visual art into literary art. Writing is quite therapeutic for the newly ordained writer. The silver lining is his family support kept him going. “With tragedy comes blessings”.
Roland Sato Page was born in Brooklyn New York in a military household with a mother from Osaka Japan and a combat trainer father with three war tours under his belt. He grew up in a well-disciplined home with five other siblings. As he got older his family relocated to St. Louis where the author planted his roots and also pursued a military life in the Army Reserves.
Roland married his high school sweetheart and started a family of four. Roland joined the St. Louis police department where his career was cut short when he was convicted of federal crimes due to his childhood affiliation.
After enduring his career’s demise, he rebounded, becoming a famed a tattoo artist opening Pearl Gallery Tattoos in downtown St. Louis Mo. The company grew into a family business, yet another unfortunate incident tested his fate. He was diagnosed with Lupus which halted his body art career. However, with tragedy comes blessings. Roland’s sons took over the business and propelled the shop to a higher level. Roland consumed with depression began writing to occupy the time. With a newfound passion, he traded visual art for literary art.
A tiny town. A broken tavern. And one woman searching for a place to belong.
Logan Cole is used to getting her way and what she wants more than anything is for her father to get out of jail and restore her old life in New York. All she has to do is wait for his scandals to fade and the online rancor against her family to subside. Low on cash and out of options, she takes a bus north looking for anonymity and stops in the smallest town she can find: Ramsbolt, Maine.
When she stumbles into Helen’s Tavern, she finds a place in need of a make-over and a grandmotherly woman who could use some help. Soon, she finds herself growing fond of the bar, Helen, and the town. She’s even found a friend in Grey, the local plumber. The tiny town puts her at a crossroads: keep hiding her identity to preserve her new reputation or let down her guard and reveal her true self to the people she’s grown to love. But the choice is ripped from her hands when tragedy strikes the bar and saving it requires every tool at her disposal.
Can Logan find a true home among the people of Ramsbolt Maine?
The Collected Stories of Ramsbolt is a series by Jennifer M. Lane, award-winning author Of Metal and Earth and Stick Figures from Ramsbolt. Fresh and heart-warming, the series tells the stories of a small town looking for belonging.
Grey lowered his voice and leaned across the bar. “What’s with all the whiskey sours anyway?”
Logan leaned in, close enough to smell his cologne. “Remember when I said I like revenge served cold? This is it.” She pushed away and turned off a tap, letting the foam settle in a glass of beer. “And no, the revenge isn’t for you.”
“What did the rest of the drinks do to you? Or is it all of us? You hate us, don’t you?” He folded his arms in mock disgust.
Logan rolled her eyes. “Is there a drink you want, or are you just here to harass me about the ones you don’t?”
“I want a Sazerac. And one of those bull drinks. And something else that isn’t a whiskey sour.”
“Okay, but you can’t have three because the law says two, and it’s called a Boulevardier.”
“You break the law for Dan and give him a six pack every night.”
Logan placed her hands on her hips. “Dan’s Dan. What can I get you?”
“The Boulevard. I liked it.”
“Boulevardier. It has three and a half ounces of alcohol in it. You sure you can handle that?”
Grey cocked an eyebrow in feigned disgust. “Make it a double, and I’ll give you a nice tip.”
“Don’t tempt me.”
Tips were a sensitive topic. She needed them, she counted and recorded them with a level of detail that would make her dad’s accountants proud, but she hated her reliance on them, and she’d never accept them out of pity. She would earn it, not beg for it. She held her tongue, but shot him an icy look. It didn’t matter how good he smelled, she needed to draw a line somewhere. She turned to his drink, dropped ice into a mixing glass and added an ounce and a half of rye and a ounce of sweet vermouth, but there was no Campari on the shelf.
“Dammit. I must have run out and forgot to replace it.”
Logan left her bar spoon in the mixing glass and slipped into the back stockroom. Her least favorite space, it was the last frontier on her cleaning crusade. The shelves were overstocked with expired cans of fruit, old kitchen supplies from the bar’s days as a diner, and stacks of dusty table cloths. There was so much junk that the slivers of light that made it through the grimy window never reached the floor.
The light switch sparked when she flipped it. The bulbs barely had time to illuminate before she grabbed a bottle off a shelf and turned them off again.
At the bar, Logan twisted the cap off the Campari. She added an ounce to the mixing glass, stirred it until it was chilled, and strained it into a glass. From a jar she kept in the little fridge beneath the bar, she added a Luxardo cherry.
“Ooh, the good cherries.” Grey reached out a hand for the jar, and she swatted him away.
“These are for special occasions.”
He accepted the drink and set it on a bar napkin, another perk she’d been able to afford. “What did I do to deserve this?”
“I’m doing my part to keep the heating guy alive during our two hundredth consecutive day of snow.” She wanted him at a distance, but she still liked his company.
“Much appreciated. I’ve been meaning to tell you—”
Logan put up a hand. “Hold that thought.” She leaned in. “My arch nemesis is here.”
Arvil walked the length of the bar like an officer inspecting his troops, eyeing up glasses and bottles of beer. Unless an out-of-town customer who didn’t know better took a liking to the corner stool, it was empty in Arvil’s absence. Just as he expected it to be. He shuffled to the furthest seat from the door and shifted his weight until he was settled. He twisted in his seat and tugged his arms from his coat.
Logan placed a bar napkin in front of him, a welcome mat that kept his attention on the drink to come instead of whatever was missing.
“What’ll it be tonight, Arvil?”
“Thirteen. Thirteen days of whiskey sours. This whole thing is stupid. Egg whites in the winter. Nobody wants egg whites in the dead of winter.” He wrestled with his coat and fumbled it onto the back of the stool.
“You desperately wanted one a month ago when I didn’t have any egg whites. Remember? And people eat those little meringue cookies in the winter.”
“What’s that? I don’t know what that is.” He narrowed his eyes at her.
“Not your usual playful self today, huh? You know what meringues are. Those little poofs? Taste like peppermint or vanilla or whatever and… Never mind. Order anything you want. I’m not forcing you to drink egg whites.”
His lip curled in disgust. “Stupid frothy thing. Walk outside and your stomach turns to ice cream.”
“Sounds delicious to me. You want to sit there and complain, or you want to order something to drink? You’ve been here before. You know this is a bar, right?”
The trick to navigating Arvil’s mood was to offer a snappy comeback. If his cheeks burned red, she’d be in trouble. But his eyes widened and lit up, and she knew it would be a calm night.
“Beer. Michelob. Bottle.”
She pulled one from the tall refrigerator, popped the top off, and placed it on his napkin. “I’ll start you a tab.”
Funny thing about Arvil, the less she tried to make him happy, the easier he was to get along with.
As another day of relentless snow drew to a close, Arvil led the charge. One by one her customers paid their tabs and made their way into the frozen air. The few stragglers closed their tabs, so Logan seized the opportunity to close early. She wiped down the bar, restocked the coolers for the next day, and prepped fruit. Anything to get a head start. She crouched on the floor behind the bar, moving aside jars of cherries and syrups in the small fridge to make room for containers of fruit.
“Logan!” Panic elevated Grey’s voice an octave. “Get the cash from the drawer and run. Come on.”
Were they being robbed? “What are you talking about?” She stood, and the acrid, bitter, sour waft smoke from a fire hit her. It consumed wood paneling in the back room and licked around the doorway, teasing at the bar. Did they have a fire extinguisher? There had to be one in the back. Her coat was back there. Her bag with her snow boots. They were expensive. Irreplaceable. She’d saved for so long, and without them, she’d freeze. The smoke alarm went off, the shrill screech assaulting her ears.
She lunged for the back room, toward the thick smoke that streamed through the door and Grey grabbed her arm. “Where are you going? We’ve gotta run!”
“I need my coat.” She screamed over the alarm. People rushed past them, through the door and into the lobby. Cold air pushed in, throwing smoke across the room. It stung her eyes, and she covered them with her forearm. “The safe! My boots!”
“There’s no time. We have to run.” Grey grabbed the donation jar for Glen with one hand and Logan’s wrist with the other. Flames licked around the stockroom door, they rushed out into the ankle-deep snow and across the street, where they stood with bar patrons and a few close neighbors in the motel parking lot.
She pulled her phone from her pocket and dialed 911, but someone had already reported the fire. She was losing everything. Her coat and boots. Her job. The source of her self-worth. She took in a deep breath of cold air tinged with the sweet smell of smoke, but it did nothing to calm her or sooth the desperation. It only made her feel worse for Helen and Ramsbolt. Flames began to eat through the roof. At least she’d be warm soon.
“It was that wiring,” she said, mostly to herself. “That ancient wiring in the back.”
Grey stood behind her. “The light back there always sparked when you flipped the switch.”
“I know. Helen never fixed it. I have to call her.”
“I can do it—”
“No, it should be me.”
Logan dug her phone from her pocket and pulled up Helen’s number. “It’s Logan. I have bad news.”
“I already know.” Helen’s voice cracked, broken by the sharp edges of grief.
“How did you know?”
“The Garlands next door have a police scanner. She rushed over in her nightgown. They said everyone got out. Are you okay?”
Logan glanced behind her at Grey and counted the faces. The two women who’d been sitting closest to the door were there. The couple from out of town were huddled by their hotel door. Arvil leaned on a plastic chair, his face lit by the glow of the fire. He’d barely had time to make it out of the parking lot when it started. Now here he stood, his expressionless face tinted orange by the fire. Not even destruction could please the man. “Yeah. Everyone’s out. We’re across the street, in the motel parking lot. Grey grabbed Glen’s donation jar, but everything else…” Her mind was too busy, too scattered to count the toll. Like fireflies, the thoughts arrived and were gone, ungraspable. Her notebook. There were things at her apartment. The ledgers. A bar book. The rest of it gone.
“Should I come?”
“No. Definitely no.” Helen didn’t need to suffer the cold, and her spirit didn’t need to endure the vision of it. “The firemen are here and—”
“It’s all gone, isn’t it?”
“Yeah. I’m sorry. There wasn’t any time. It just came out of the back room and…Do you have insurance?” Would it cover lost wages? Logan couldn’t bear to ask.
“It’s not the best policy, but I’ll call them in the morning.” Helen sniffed through the phone. “You should go home and get out of the cold. Get a good night’s sleep.”
People came from town, lured by the flashing lights and sirens. They walked up the street in clumps and gathered to watch it burn, a landmark consumed by an insatiable inferno. The melting sign. The charred bricks. “Yeah. You’re right. I will in a bit. Talk to you tomorrow.”
Logan ended the call and tucked her phone back in her pocket. She wasn’t even cold. The warmth of the fire reached across the road.
“I lost my coat in there.” Logan spoke to no one, but Grey was still listening.
He stepped forward and stood at her side. “You can get another one.”
“I sacrificed a lot to get that coat. I’ve never been this poor in my life. I don’t know how I’ll replace it. I hated that thing. It was ugly, but at least it was warm. Snow boots don’t come cheap, either.” It was a stupid thing to focus on, the loss of her coat and boots, while watching her work burn to the ground. She was lucky and grateful to be safe. But complaining about her coat kept her mind off the loss and uncertainty, and it kept the tears from streaming down her cheeks. Another job might not be so easy to find, let alone another boss like Helen. Customers like Grey. People who didn’t want to eat her alive. She’d only just begun to put a life together behind that bar.
The fire raged across the street, loud and bright behind the flashing lights and idling engines of the fire trucks. Water rushed from hoses, but it wasn’t enough to save the place. It was more than enough, however, to fill Logan with gratitude for the people who fought to save her home. For making her realize she’d even felt that way at all.
“Insurance. They’ll wanna know what was lost. Make sure Helen tells them about your stuff.” Grey bumped her shoulder with his. It was a friendly gesture, meant to console her, and the only human contact she’d had since she hugged her mother and moved to Ramsbolt. Part of her wanted to crumple into him, to fall into a hug with anyone, any random stranger.
The flames did their best to battle the night sky, but they were no match for the dark. The firefighters doused the fire in what felt like no time at all. But when Logan checked her phone, three hours had passed by unnoticed. Unfelt. Nothing could penetrate the numbness. Around her, the people from town bounced on their heels, hands in their pockets. They sat in plastic Adirondack chairs scavenged from the hotel, blowing into their hands for warmth. Some dabbed at tears with sleeves and tissues. Others stared in disbelief. Murmurs and soft chatter washed right over her. They’d all lost a thing they loved, but Logan had lost the only thing she had. She was back where she started, with nothing to lose, a defiant girl with no skills and no promise.
Her old world had been full of easy fixes. Pick up a phone and call a lawyer, call a bank, make a request or a polite demand. Now, every solution seemed as distant as the stars, and the only thing on Logan’s side was the luck that went up in flames.
She shivered as the fire died out and the cold set in. Next to her, Grey cleared his throat. His words were soft, almost a whisper.
“That thing I was gonna tell you,” he said. “I signed you up for that bar competition. I feel kinda bad about it now.”
About the Author
A Maryland native and Pennsylvanian at heart, Jennifer M. Lane holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Barton College and a master’s in liberal arts with a focus on museum studies from the University of Delaware, where she wrote her thesis on the material culture of roadside memorials. She is the author of the award-winning novel Of Metal and Earth, of Stick Figures from Rockport, and the series of stand-alone novels from The Collected Stories of Ramsbolt, including Blood and Sand. Visit her website at https://www.jennifermlanewrites.com/.
They say that when you die in a dream, you die in real life. I can tell you that isn’t true—I died in my dream, and what happened to me was much stranger than that…
Willow Divine, a goal-driven medical student with midterms around the corner, has enough on her plate. When she begins having a recurring dream with a shadow-like entity haunting every corner of her mind, the lines between fantasy and reality start to blend. Axel, the lead singer of the college rock band, only complicates her situation. She believes his pursuit of her is more sinister than he lets on. She discovers she’s right a little too late. Now, Willow is trapped within a dream with no way out in sight. Can Willow discover the truth and escape her worst nightmare before she’s trapped forever?
JP takes you on a thrilling supernatural journey, filled with terror and twists at every turn inspired by some of her most horrifying nightmares.
“Willow?” a familiar voice whispered from above. I reluctantly craned my head up to greet bright brown eyes and a temptingly wicked smile framed by tousled black hair. The face of sin, the poster boy for all things, dark, brooding, and utterly dangerous. “Axel.” I went back to my research. I didn’t have time for distractions. I heard the chair next to me move, and Axel’s broad, muscular body appeared in my peripheral. He moved my chair closer to his, the fraction of his jeans sparked a warmth against my bare thigh. Smirking, he placed a brown paper bag in front of me. “I thought you might be hungry.” The smell of grease, cheese, and hamburger meat wafted into the musky air tangling with his cedarwood cologne—a potently tantalizing combination. My stomach clenched, a rumbling noise barreling through me. I couldn’t remember the last time I had eaten. Glancing down at my wristwatch, I shook the daze from my head, fully aware of my hunger. I haven’t eaten since breakfast. My momma would take a belt to my hide if she’d known I’d been surviving on coffee alone. Southerners didn’t play when it came to food. I didn’t grow up in the south, but my momma made sure her rich heritage was ingrained into every aspect of our lives. She brought the southern charm to wherever we were stationed. Our neighbors certainly appreciated her home-style cooking; it kept her busy when my daddy was overseas. Reminiscing about Southern eats had me biting my lip, anticipating the mouthwatering taste of the juicy, salty cheeseburger. “Thank you, Axel.” I reached for the bag, but he slapped my hand away. I turned toward him, pinning him with a glare. I should have known there was a catch attached to this meal. That’s how Axel always wanted somethin’ from me. “Not so fast.” That devilishly handsome grin I loved to loathe grew wider, consuming his face. “What do you want now, Axel?” I leaned back, folding my arms over my chest. His gaze bee-lined to my chest, but with a blink, they have linked with mine again. “Relax. I just want to have a meal with my girl.” I rolled my eyes, blowing out a breath. This guy was relentless. “I’m not your girl. We ain’t even datin’.” He leaned closer, his breath heating my ear. “We don’t have to be dating for you to be mine. Just make it easier for both of us and just accept it. Fry?” He dug into the bag and removed the carton of crisp and steaming waffle fries and waved it back and forth as if he were a hypnotist, and I was his powerless victim. Who in the hell did this guy think he was? My second attempt to snatch the fries away failed, and he pulled them toward his chest. “Just admit it, Willow, so we can eat.” “No. I rather starve.” I didn’t understand his pursuit of me. I was startin’ to think he had a bet going with his buddies because there was no way the lead singer of the college’s infamous rock band Devil’s Descent wanted me to be his one true love when he could have any girl on campus. His lips tugged into a frown. He set the fries down on the table and ran a hand through his shiny black hair. “I want to give you everything, but you just keep breaking my heart.” “It ain’t my fault you won’t take no for an answer. I’ve been quite clear with how I feel ‘bout you.” My glare remained fixed. My momma warned me about boys like him, and I was giving for nothin’. He met my glare with his. “Suit yourself.” He snatched up the fries and shoved them back into the bag, taking the entire thing with him but not before whispering, “Sweet dreams, princess.” His words froze me still, the chill frosting down my spine. Why on earth would he say that? It was still daylight. Maybe he was being his usually nosey self and noticed what I was reading. I watched Axel disappear into the dark corner of the library without turning back. After rolling my shoulders back to release the tension in my body, I continued my search, scanning the pages until a particular section caught my attention. My heart strummed against my chest, my skin suddenly hot. My eyes widened as I blinked, not wanting to believe what I was reading. Had I found my answer? The Dream Man: Over twenty years, there have been reports of young women between the ages of 18-28 who had died in their sleep. In recent years, more deaths have followed before tapering off. The women had mentioned to family members and friends that a shadowy figure was haunting their dreams, nights before their sudden demise… I snapped the book shut, sliding it across the table, unable to read anymore. My mind was infected with the horror within the pages. That can’t be true. Right? Things of that nature didn’t exist. Those were just myths and urban legends—ghost stories. I shook my head in denial. I’m just really stressed. The shadow…it means nothing.
Why is a fly circling the deli? What can you learn from your dog about aging? Is Mahjong the real game of champions?If you’re a fan of David Sedaris, Erma Bombeck, or Andy Rooney, you’ll love Brad Graber’s new release What’s that Growing in My Sour Cream? – a compilation of over 70 humorous essays on the joys, challenges, and absurdities of life in America. Drawn from Graber’s blog “There, I Said It!” Graber introduces listeners to his sharp observations on everyday subjects such as Facebook friends, the odd messages stuffed into fortune cookies, and awkward man hugs. A bold new voice, Graber’s humor and wit are on full display in What’s that Growing in My Sour Cream?.
Brad Graber writes novels because he grew up in a family where no one listened to him – so he made up stories about them. He’s the award-winning author of The Intersect and After the Fall, and writes a humor blog: There, I Said It! He currently resides in Phoenix with his husband, Jeff.
Derek Neumann is actor and voice professional in the recording arts and sciences who has studied at both the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and the British Academy’s Midsummer at Oxford’s Shakespeare program.
The musings and observations of Brad Graber’s What’s That Growing in My Sour Cream are not only humorous and entertaining but also relatable. From germs on planes to germs in the home (I think Brad’s a germaphobe! HA!), to food on cruises and holiday meals, to family dynamics and aging gracefully (or not), I found topics and situations I’ve often pondered and was encouraged to find I’m not the only person lamenting the extinction of authentic customer service.
Compiled of posts from Graber’s personal blog, this audiobook is perfect for a relaxing evening or drive. Derek Neumann’s smooth, unhurried narration felt as though I was listening to the observations of a good friend, and just as I was ready for more, the book ended.
Graber’s insight and wit remind us not only that it’s never too late, but also that we’re never truly alone.
I volunteered to review this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Brad Graber. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
Brad Graber’s top ten reasons you will love listening to What’s That Growing in My Sour Cream?
You see humor in everyday happenings
You enjoy Seinfeld, David Sedaris, Erma Bombeck, and the Chicken Soup Series
You think Mahjong is the true game of champions
You’re curious about what your dog can teach you about aging
You’re perplexed by the odd messages in fortune cookies
You keep walking into your spouse
You laugh at awkward man hugs
You’ve gone to the theatre and experienced the big head show
You’ve noticed that the medicine cabinet is now in the kitchen
Independent and capable Prudence Wedderburn, daughter of a vicar, is a
woman before her time. She not only manages the parish duties usually
performed by a vicar’s wife, she has learned the art of healing, and during
her father’s final illness, she also assumes some of his religious
duties—all actions welcomed by her village until her father’s death
abruptly ends her life as First Lady of Kenner’s Cove, Kent.
Well aware she must curb her independence—even learn to practice
subservience, a quality entirely unknown to her—Prudence accepts a
position as governess to a five-year-old girl in Cornwall. Where, alas,
rumors of her activities in Kent plunge her into difficulties with the
church, she clashes with her pupil’s father (an earl), finds herself
hip-deep in smugglers and Cornish legends, is befriended by a 500-year-old
cat, and discovers that someone—several someones?—want to kill
her. Finding a happy ending in a deluge of disasters will be the vicar’s
daughter’s greatest challenge.
About the Author
My mother was a highly successful author of children’s books, and for many
years it never occurred to me it was possible to have two authors in the
same family. I pursued a career in music, as teacher and performer, touring
in the first National Company of The Sound of Music. But only when my
children were off to college did I seriously consider trying my own hand at
writing. And discovered I loved it. To be able to create people, even whole
worlds from the imagination is a never-ending joy.
I was fortunate enough to win a number of writing awards, but after nine
print books, in 2011 I plunged into the world of e-books and never looked
back. It offers a level of creative freedom not to be found anywhere else.
As Blair Bancroft, I have become best known for books set in the Regency
period (early 19th c.)—Regency Gothics, Regency Historicals,
Traditional Regencies, and a series that reveals the darker side of the
Regency era (The Aphrodite Academy). I also write SciFi/Fantasy/Paranormal,
Romantic Suspense, and Mystery, with a Medieval Young Adult and a Steampunk
thrown in for good measure. (I do enjoy experimenting with new
I now have more than forty books available through online vendors,
including a non-fiction compilation of all the Writing and Editing tips
posted to my blog since 2011 (Making Magic with Words).
I am an outspoken advocate of “out of the mist” writing. One of
my favorite sayings: I can hardly wait to sit down to my computer each
morning and find out what my characters are going to do today.
From Amazon bestsellers list author Roger L. Liles comes the second volume of his Cold War trilogy—THE COLD WAR BEGINS. The setting is war-ravaged Berlin in late 1946. Spies from both sides begin to move with relative ease throughout a Germany occupied by British, French, American and Russian military forces. Kurt Altschuler, our hero, soon becomes one of them.
While working behind enemy lines as an OSS agent in France during World War II, Kurt learns that intelligence collection involves both exhilarating and dangerous encounters with the enemy. He relished every moment he spent as part of the vanguard confronting the Nazis.
That war has been over for 18 months when he is offered a job as a CIA deep-cover agent in the devastated and divided city of Berlin. He jumps at the opportunity, but is concerned that his guise as an Associated Press News Agency reporter will offer little action. He need not worry. Soon, he is working undercover, deep inside of Russian-controlled southeastern Germany. Eventually, KGB agents waylay him and tear his car and luggage apart. His chauffeur is beaten. He is threatened with prison, torture and death.
Enter Erica Hoffmann, a very attractive, aspiring East German archeology student. Any relationship between an undercover CIA agent and an East German woman is strictly forbidden; she might be a KGB or Stasi agent or operative. But he cannot help himself—he has fallen hard for her. Kurt strives assiduously to maintain their tempestuous, star-crossed relationship.
Eventually, Kurt works to counter the efforts of Russian and East German spies, especially a mole who is devastating Western Intelligence assets throughout Europe. He also must work to identify and expose enemy spies who have penetrated the very fabric of the West German government and society. He frequently observes to others that: “the spy business is like knife fighting in a dark closet; you know you’re going to be cut up, you just don’t know how bad.”
Almost one hundred years of relative world peace was shattered in 1914 and again in 1939 with two devastating world wars. Tens of millions of military personnel and civilians on both sides were killed. By 1945, most of the world’s population was exhausted by war and craved peace. Over 11 million displaced survivors roamed Europe in search of a meal and shelter.
Because Germany was viewed as being directly responsible for both conflicts, the Allies demanded it surrender unconditionally. In May 1945, the Four Powers—the French, British, Americans, and Russians—began to take over their agreed-to areas of occupation in that country.
Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union, decided to take advantage of the instability caused by the second war to further the communist goal of world domination. When hostilities ended, Soviet troops occupied most of central Europe. Using rigged elections, palace coups, outright force, and even murder, the Soviets began imposing communist regimes on Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and of course, East Germany.
In his Iron Curtain Speech, Winston Churchill noted that a new era had started less than a year after World War II hostilities ended. This new era would last for the next forty-three years. It is best characterized as a confrontation between two radically different political, social, and economic ideologies for control of the world—America and the Free World versus Russia and the Communist World. This conflict is known in history as THE COLD WAR.
It was given this name, because with few exceptions—Korea and Vietnam—this was not a shooting war. America and her allies sought to contain communist expansion using every means short of war. In addition to a massive arms buildup, this is the era of spy versus spy. Much like a chess match, one side would seek an advantage and the other would attempt to counter that move with one of its own.
Conversations between characters in this novel are in both English and German. In English, contractions are used for informal conversations and there are no familiar verb forms. In German, there are no contractions and the familiar form is used in everyday conversations with close business associates, friends, and relatives. The main characters in this novel speak both English and German fluently and switch from one to the other. Thus, if a conversation appears stiff and formal, it is in German. The presence of contractions in a sentence means that they are conversing in English.
Wednesday, November 13, 1946
Four hours after my propeller-driven, British Overseas Airlines DC-3 left Heathrow, it descended into Gatow Airport in the British Zone of Occupation. The cloud cover cleared as the aircraft passed over the familiar sights of the River Havel and the Wannsee.
The AP’s Berlin photographer, Ben Stevens, greeted me at the bottom of the metal stairs, “You must be Kurt Altschuler—Welcome to Berlin.”
“Thanks. I don’t know if they told you but I was born and raised here in Berlin. I’m anxious to see the city.”
“You’ll be disappointed. Central Berlin is still a mess. I’ve reserved a room for you in a pensione in Charlottenburg. Owners of those larger houses and mansions have been forced to take in boarders or divide them into small apartments. The furnished apartments I checked out for you were expensive and fairly shabby.”
After we retrieved my luggage, Ben hailed a taxi. Soon he and the driver were negotiating the fare. The driver said, “Elf zigaretten—Eleven cigarettes.”
They finally settled on eight as a fair price.
“I’ve read that the Reichsmarks are essentially worthless and everyone demands American cigarettes as a medium of exchange.”
“American-made Chesterfields, Lucky Strikes, and Camels are worth the most,” Ben replied. “British Players are a close second. The current going rate is seven Reichsmarks per cigarette. So, we’re giving the taxi driver the equivalent of 77 marks for the 20-mile ride into central Berlin. As you can tell, each mark isn’t worth much.”
“How did cigarettes become the medium of exchange?”
“A significant part of the German population smokes and they are only allowed to purchase forty cigarettes a month at the rationed price—so cigarettes are in significant demand on the black market.”
“How did the Reichsmark become so valueless?” I asked.
“At the Potsdam conference, the four victorious powers agreed to use the old Reichsmark as the medium of exchange in all of occupied Germany. In a gesture of goodwill, some American idiot gave the Russians a set of Reichsmark printing plates. They have been using the money they print to pay for everything—tens of billions are now in circulation and no government is guaranteeing its value—as a result, Marks are almost worthless.
Berliners in our zone are allowed to purchase 800 calories worth of near-starvation rations at low fixed prices, but they must barter for enough food to survive. So, they trade antiques, cameras, watches, jewelry, silver, and fine china for cigarettes, the de facto local currency.”
“And the cigarettes are straight from the American Post Exchange?”
“Yeah. One of our soldiers can buy a carton of 200 cigarettes for a dollar at the PX and sell it for around 1,000 marks. He can then take the marks and exchange them at the American Express Bank on their bases for $100, which he can ship back to the States in a good old American Postal Money Order. Every month, three times the monthly pay of all of the American military personnel in the occupation forces are being shipped back to the States.”
“So, the black market is where everything is bartered or traded for the lowly cigarette?”
“I don’t smoke and didn’t think about bringing any with me.”
“Don’t worry. I have a friend who’ll supply both of us,” Ben offered.
Our taxi sped into central Berlin on one of the autobahns Hitler had built ten years earlier for the 1936 Olympics. Occasionally, we would have to avoid debris from a destroyed overpass or slow for a hastily repaired section of the road, but otherwise, traffic was light and our trip into the city was quick.
I thought back over the events of the last month and how I’d ended up with a cover as an Associated Press (AP) reporter. My German language skills and a CIA generated resume recounting my exploits as a U.S. Army Information Officer on the front lines in Europe got me the job in Berlin. Only two people in the States knew I worked for the CIA. For my protection, I never went near CIA Headquarters in Washington.
On successive days, I had meetings in New York with a senior CIA agent in a Roosevelt Hotel room, and the AP’s European News Chief at their office in Rockefeller Plaza. They both gave me essentially the same instruction—”find out what is going on over there and report it back to us.” I had to find out what the Russian military, civilian authorities, and spies were doing, as well as cover the political and economic news in central Europe. Sources and documentation were paramount for both.
Ben interrupted my reverie by pointing out, “As you can see, the west side of Berlin suffered little damage; the bombing and shelling focused on the government and industrial facilities in the central and eastern parts of the city.”
Once we left the autobahn, I began to recognize streets and eventually asked the driver, “Please turn right at the next corner and drive slowly down this street.”
As we neared my old home, the neighborhood looked the same. Relieved, memories came flooding back—learning to ride a bicycle down the sidewalk along here and playing soccer with my buddy, Jacob, on his front lawn over there.
A minute later, I asked the driver to stop. It was almost surreal— except for the façade, my home was just a pile of burned-out rubble, while the houses on either side were fine.
For years, I’d yearned to return to the vibrant city I’d known in my youth. Now I sat in stunned silence while the taxi drove us to my nearby pensione. Thomas Wolfe’s rumination was correct; there is an end to all things, no matter how much we want to hold on to them, “You Can’t Go Home Again”.
About the Author
Roger L. Liles decided he had to earn a living after a BA and graduate studies in Modern European History. He went back to school and eventually earned an MS in Engineering from the University of Southern California in 1970.
In the 1960s, he served as an Air Force Signals Intelligence Officer in Turkey and Germany and eventually lived in Europe for a total of eight years. He worked in the military electronics field for forty years—his main function was to translate engineering jargon into understandable English and communicate it to senior decision-makers in the government.
Now retired after working for forty years as a senior engineering manager and consultant with a number of aerospace companies, he spends his days writing. His first novel, which was published in late 2018 was titled The Berlin Tunnel—A Cold War Thriller. His second novel The Cold War Begins was published in late 2020 and is the second volume in his planned The Cold War Trilogy. This trilogy is based on extensive research into Berlin during the spy-versus-spy era which followed World War II and his personal experience while living and working in Europe. He is in the process of writing its third volume of the trilogy which will be titled The Berlin Tunnel—Another Crisis and takes the story into 1962 and the era of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
A #1 Wall Street Journal, Amazon Charts, USA Today, and Washington Post bestseller.
#1 New York Times bestselling author Gregg Olsen’s shocking and empowering true-crime story of three sisters determined to survive their mother’s house of horrors.
After more than a decade, when sisters Nikki, Sami, and Tori Knotek hear the word mom, it claws like an eagle’s talons, triggering memories that have been their secret since childhood. Until now.
For years, behind the closed doors of their farmhouse in Raymond, Washington, their sadistic mother, Shelly, subjected her girls to unimaginable abuse, degradation, torture, and psychic terrors. Through it all, Nikki, Sami, and Tori developed a defiant bond that made them far less vulnerable than Shelly imagined. Even as others were drawn into their mother’s dark and perverse web, the sisters found the strength and courage to escape an escalating nightmare that culminated in multiple murders.
Harrowing and heartrending, If You Tell is a survivor’s story of absolute evil—and the freedom and justice that Nikki, Sami, and Tori risked their lives to fight for. Sisters forever, victims no more, they found a light in the darkness that made them the resilient women they are today—loving, loved, and moving on.
From legendary playwright August Wilson comes the powerful, stunning dramatic bestseller that won him critical acclaim, including the Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize.
Troy Maxson is a strong man, a hard man. He has had to be to survive. Troy Maxson has gone through life in an America where to be proud and black is to face pressures that could crush a man, body and soul. But the 1950s are yielding to the new spirit of liberation in the 1960s, a spirit that is changing the world Troy Maxson has learned to deal with the only way he can, a spirit that is making him a stranger, angry and afraid, in a world he never knew and to a wife and son he understands less and less. This is a modern classic, a book that deals with the impossibly difficult themes of race in America, set during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s.
Now an Academy Award-winning film directed by and starring Denzel Washington, along with Academy Award and Golden Globe winner Viola Davis.