#BookBlitz “Leading The Lost Boys: The Untold Journey” by Paulino Mamiir Chol


The Untold Journey


Date Published: June 22, 2021

Publisher: Mamiir Chol Foundation


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As a member of the Lost Boys of South Sudan, author Paulino Mamiir Chol offers the gripping account of his transformation from a kidnapping survivor to a leader— Mr. Chol led over 700 boys across three African

Paulino Mamiir Chol was abducted from his family, in the Twic County of Warrap state. Over the course of seventeen harrowing years, he survived Ethiopian and Kenyan refugee camps, and eventually made it to Denver, Colorado, in the United States of America, where he now pursues a PhD.

In detailing the journeys of the Lost Boys, as well as the murderous actions of the Murahalin Militia before and after the Second Sudanese Civil War, Mr. Chol paints a vivid picture of one of modern history’s most horrific human rights abuses. In so doing, he also offers hope in the power of the human spirit to overcome trauma and tragedy—especially when we focus on serving others.

Leading The Lost Boys: The Untold Journey is part of Paulino Mamiir Chol’s effort to fight the inhuman darkness we are all capable of, and to empower and inspire the hearts of those suffering.

 All proceeds will go to the Mamiir Chol Foundation (MACH), which will provide funds to villagers in Twic County for clean drinking wells, clinics, schools, and community centers. Proceeds will also support organizations working for human rights, homeless children, widowed mothers, disabled people, and to protect women and girls from sexual abuse, exploitation and gender-based violence.


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#BookTour “The Ghost Marriage” by Kirsten Mickelwait

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Welcome to the book tour for The Ghost Marriage by Kirsten Mickelwait, now available on Audible!


The Ghost Marriage

Genre: Memoir/ Supernatural/ Addiction

Publication Date: April 12th, 2022 (Audio Edition)

At thirty-one, Kirsten has just returned to San Francisco from a bohemian year in Rome, ready to pursue a serious career as a writer and eventually, she hopes, marriage and family. When she meets Steve Beckwith, a handsome and successful attorney, she begins to see that future materialize more quickly than she’d dared to expect.

Twenty-two years later, Steve has become someone quite different from the man Kirsten first met. Unemployed and addicted to opioids, he uses money and their two children to emotionally blackmail her. The couple separates but, just after their divorce is finalized, Steve is diagnosed with colon cancer and dies within the year, leaving Kirsten with $1.5 million in debts from properties that are no longer hers. It’s only then that she finally understands: The man she married was a needy, addictive person wrapped in a shiny package.

As she fights toward recovery, Kirsten begins to receive communications from Steve in the afterlife—leading her on an unexpected path to forgiveness. The Ghost Marriage is her story of discovery: that life isn’t limited to the tangible reality we experience on this earth, and that our worst adversaries can become our greatest teachers. This is a book about life after divorce and life after death. It’s a story of how forgiveness is the best revenge.

Available on Amazon and on Audible


“A divorced woman’s perceptions of her controlling ex-husband shift radically when she establishes a new bond with him following his death in this debut memoir… A skillfully written, thought-provoking account that positively reconsiders an antagonist as an important teacher.” – Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

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Kirsten Mickelwait is a professional copywriter and editor by day and a writer of fiction and creative nonfiction by night. She’s an alumna of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, the Paris Writers’ Conference, and the San Francisco Writers’ Conference. Her short story, “Parting with Nina,” won first prize in The Ledge’s 2004 Fiction Awards competition. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she’s at work on a new novel. The Ghost Marriage is Kirsten’s first memoir. The book tells her story of spiritual connection and surviving divorce after 50.

Kirsten Mickelwait | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Book Tour Schedule

April 11th

R&R Book Tours (Kick-Off) http://rrbooktours.com

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

@theenchantedshelf (Review) https://www.instagram.com/theenchantedshelf/

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Review) https://lshadowlynauthor.com/

Timeless Romance (Spotlight) https://aubreywynne.com/

April 12th

@better_0ff_read (Spotlight) http://WWW.INSTAGRAM.COM/BETTER_0FF_READ/

@rosyreadz (Review) https://www.instagram.com/RosyReadz/

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

@fle_d (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/fle_d

April 13th

@inspired.j.reads (Review) https://www.instagram.com/inspired.j.reads/

@gryffindorbookishnerd (Review) https://www.instagram.com/gryffindorbookishnerd/

April 14th

@marvsbooks (Review) https://www.instagram.com/marvsbooks/

B is for Book Review (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

The Faerie Review (Spotlight) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

April 15th

@thrillersandcoffee (Review) https://www.instagram.com/thrillersandcoffee/

@rosiewoodrowwrites (Review) https://www.instagram.com/rosiewoodrowwrites/

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#BookTour “The Yellow Honeysuckle is the Sweetest” by Bill Fentress

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The Yellow Honeysuckle is the Sweetest

by Bill Fentress

March 14 – April 8, 2022 Virtual Book Tour



The Yellow Honeysuckle is the Sweetest by Bill Fentress

THE YELLOW HONEYSUCKLE IS THE SWEETEST is a salute by the author to a lifetime of outdoor experiences in eastern North Carolina and beyond. It encompasses 14 true short stories about family, friendships, and the emotions involved in hunting, fishing, and other outdoor-related topics. It is not a how-to book, nor just a compilation of hunting and fishing stories; it describes how simple family and personal interactions, with the outdoor sports and unmatched natural beauty as a backdrop, can result in treasured memories like perhaps no other pursuits.

If you hunt and fish, or grew up enjoying histories of family traditions and friendships revolving around the outdoors – whether it be in North Carolina, or elsewhere – THE YELLOW HONEYSUCKLE IS THE SWEETEST is for you.


Book Details

Genre: Sports, (as in Hunting and Fishing), Nature, Family, Memoir
Published by: Indie
Publication Date: February 3, 2022
Number of Pages: 257
ISBN: 979-8-9855598-1-1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads


Here’s a word from our author:

Read an excerpt:

There is something special about hunting, that sears in place our memories with others. Maybe it’s the vivid nature where our grand experiences take place or the team efforts we go through to make it all happen? Maybe it’s the getting up early, the black coffee, the smell of eggs and bacon in a cabin, the swoosh of ducks over decoys or the violent uprising of a big covey followed by the delirium of released bird dogs? Maybe it’s the sunrises, the sunsets, the gobbles at dawn, the split oak fires or the oysters? Maybe it’s the bonds we have over lifetimes? I’m not really sure. But I do know we’re blessed when these partners come into our lives.Like many boys, my first hunting partner was a dog, Pepper. I wish I could say Pepper was the granddaughter of King Rothschild’s Sire of Pepper Creek, but I cannot. Pepper was a fittingly, albeit not uniquely, named black and white pointer-mix stray who took up at Miss Jo’s house in Bayboro. Somehow, through either constant brow beating with her pathetic brown eyes or via her constant hanging around the back door looking for food, Pepper convinced Miss Jo to call me—not my mother, her friend—but me.

“Billy,” she commanded, “I have a beautiful dog you would just love!”

Of course, I immediately got off the phone and begged Mom to take me to Bayboro. “Miss Jo’s got a dog she says I need!” I always thought Miss Jo should have led many of the sales classes I attended in my banking career. Let me tell you, she talked directly to the buyer, and went right around the secretary. While I’m not sure how long it took for Mom to talk to her again, we came home with Pepper in the Chevy wagon and me with a smile as broad as the cuff on my dungarees. Pepper was one of the smartest dogs I ever owned. She followed me everywhere—from our store to Grandmamma’s house to the woods behind our house to the tractor shelter woods across the road, down Swan Point Road, and of course behind our neighbor’s house. Pepper was smart enough to look both ways before she crossed the road. Don’t smirk; I saw her do it a hundred times. She also knew how to be quiet as I planned a sneak-up strategy on the local robins and wrens. But her mind absolutely took the day off when it came to our neighbor’s chickens.

Excerpt from The Yellow Honeysuckle is the Sweetest by Bill Fentress. Copyright © 2021 by William C. Fentress. Reproduced with permission from Bill Fentress. All rights reserved.


Author Bio:

Bill Fentress

Bill Fentress is a retired banker and current Finance Officer in eastern North Carolina. A current resident of New Bern, NC, Bill grew up in Pamlico County, North Carolina, where many of his hunting and fishing experiences in The Yellow Honeysuckle is the Sweetest take place. He has enjoyed nature’s beauty and God’s gifts of family and the outdoors throughout his lifetime, in North Carolina and elsewhere.

Learn More About Bill Online:

Facebook – @billfentressauthor


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Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!


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#TeaserTuesday “Catch the White Tiger” by Tony Assali



Date Published: April 5, 2022

Publisher: Acorn Publishing

In 1970, at the age of 17 and with only twenty-eight dollars in his pocket, Tony Assali flew to America to escape war in his homeland, Beirut, Lebanon. With the intention of establishing a foothold so that he can bring the rest of his family to safety, Tony must find work quickly. Luckily, Tony possesses a special skill: the ability to perceive white tigers, rare and valuable opportunities other people either do not see or are too afraid to pursue. From humble beginnings working in a doughnut factory, to parlaying his charm into a position selling men’s suits by the thousands, Tony fulfills his promise to his family. Then Tony dares to dream bigger, creating a thriving business that makes him a millionaire. But even with these victories, Tony still hasn’t found the white tiger he’s really looking for—the right partner to make his life complete…until a woman he can’t stop thinking about walks into his life. Complications arise, but she might just be the one, and Tony is never the type of person to let an obstacle stop him.



I am dreaming of a white tiger when a car backfires. More explosions rock my neighborhood and I realize it’s not a car. I know these noises. Everyone in Beirut does. It’s gunfire. And it’s getting closer. I turn to my bedside clock. It’s only just after 6:00 a.m.

What’s going on?” my little brother, Joe, groans from his side of the room.

I throw back my covers, find my slippers, and dash downstairs. I run out into the street without my coat. The morning sun hovers above the eastern hills and the air is damp and cool. I hear shouts from the direction of St. Joseph Church, whose ancient spire rises over the rooftops. Emergency sirens echo off brick houses. A police car blasts by, nearly knocking me off my feet. I follow it.

St. Joseph is only two blocks away. It’s where my family celebrates Mass every Sunday morning, where we had planned to spend the previous night, Holy Thursday. When I arrive, the place is pandemonium. People shout and scream. Several women cry hysterically. Blood stains the men’s fine suits and the women’s fancy dresses. I halt when I see several people splayed out on the church steps. More blood. The acrid smell of cordite assaults my nose.

What happened?” I ask no one in particular.

Up there,” an older, gray-haired man points to the three-story building across the street. “A man with a gun started shooting. Militants.”

I look up, then down the church steps, in what would have been the gunman’s line of fire. Suddenly, everything spins. I feel like I’m in an elevator whose cable has just snapped, sending me plunging into a dark abyss. This is now the second time in the past two days I have experienced this sensation. The first was just twelve hours ago, when my family was preparing to leave for services. At the last second, I insisted we stay home. I had no specific reason for this demand, only the strange feeling that if we went, something awful would happen. At first, my family protested, but my pleading made them change their minds.

Now, here I am, staring at the carnage. I freeze as I recognize a victim: my best friend, Nabil Kessrousani. Sixteen years old, he was accompanying me to church when I suddenly demanded we stay home.

You’re crazy,” he had told me, going off on his own.

I move to help Nabil but am pushed back by uniformed personnel carrying stretchers and medical bags. Now, police are on the scene. They herd us all to the sidelines so the first responders can do their work. I want to help, but I know there is nothing I can do.

How did I know we should’ve stayed away from the church? Was it gut instinct? True, I knew Beirut was becoming more dangerous, but perhaps it was divine intervention. I cannot dismiss the fact that God was looking out for me. But why? What had I done to deserve such attention? In the years to come, I will experience many eerily similar incidents. And these same profound questions will continue to vex me. Can the practical and the mysterious coexist? My incredible life story will suggest an answer to this question.


About the Author

Tony Assali is the president of a well-established escrow company in California and new author of his autobiography, Catch the White Tiger, where he tells his story about growing up in Beirut, establishing life in America, and discovering the keys to success. The debut author has been married for 25 years. He has 4 children, 11 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. On his time off, he enjoys drinking wine, dirt bike riding, board games, and he is a coffee connoisseur. He is blessed to have the Lord in his life, and he thanks Him daily and pays it forward as a born again Christian.

Contact Link


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#BookTour “They Called Him Marvin” by Roger Stark


Creative nonfiction History, Historical romance, WW2, Family Saga, Memoir

Date Published: September 1, 2020

Publisher: Silver Star Publishing Llc


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Duty called.

He answered.

She, with child, was left behind.

He did not come home.


“They were the fathers we never knew, the uncles we never met, the
friends who never returned, the heroes we can never repay.” (B
Clinton.) Such a man was 1st Lt Dean Harold Sherman, B-29 Airplane Commander
one of the thousands of man-boys, not far from their mother’s apron
strings, that learned to fly a B-29 thousands of miles and bomb an

“They Called Him Marvin” is a history of Dean Sherman and his
teenage bride Connie’s love, World War 2 and their efforts to create a
family. A history of the collision of the raging politics of a global war,
young love, patriotism, sacred family commitments, duty and the horrors and
tragedies, the catastrophe that war is.

A reviewer explains: “I am a fan of historical fiction and this story
did not disappoint. It was sweet, tragic, personal, and moving. Gradually
and almost imperceptibly, the story of two wartime sweethearts begins
circling the drain of a tragedy you know is coming. The book begins with the
ending, but by the time you get there you have convinced yourself that it
can’t possibly be the case. I enjoyed every moment, even the ones that left
me in tears.

The letters between Connie and Dean provided a fascinating glimpse into
wartime life. Reading the experiences of people both at home and abroad was
very engaging. I found myself eagerly awaiting the next letter, right along
with the young couple!

Lastly, the book left me with an overwhelming acknowledgment of the
universal trauma and tragedy of war. The Sherman’s are not the only
family we meet in the book and the weaving together of several different
narratives added a depth to the story that’s hard to put into words.
 I definitely encourage anyone to read this book, especially if historical
novels are not something you typically read. This is a story about people
and you won’t want it to end.”




18 January 1941, The Story Begins

Stanley Carter started all this.

… I want to help you with your problem of not knowing any one in Salt Lake. Tomorrow I am going to my girlfriends house, come with me, she would love to meet you and then you will know two people here.” Dean answered, “I could be talked into that.”

“We are going to meet up at church and then go to her house.”

By the end of church the following day, Dean would actually know three people from Salt Lake City. This because Stan’s girlfriend, Carol Woffinden, happened to be the best friend of Constance Avilla Baldwin, who also just happened to attend the same Waterloo Ward of the Mormon Church, who also didn’t have a boy friend, and who was also more than happy to make a visitor feel welcome.

Dean innocently walked into all of this.

Mormons have a special interest in non Mormons, or Gentiles as they call them. You see, a Mormon is never far from, or without, his missionary zeal. If you’re not a Mormon and your going to hang out with a Mormon for very long, you’re going to get zealed. For Dean Harold Sherman, it was to be a life altering dose of zealing.


Dean and Connie exchanged 67 letters (50 written by Dean) the night (unbeknownst to him) that his son Marvin was born Dean wrote:

18 February 1945

Good Evening Peaches:

Hello sweet girl, I sure have been thinking of you lots these days and wishing so much that I could be around to take care of you, and be holding your nice soft hands and giving you lots of moral support, and see your pretty face and look in your eyes and without saying a word, tell you millions of wonderful things that you mean to me. You do too, Honey, mean so many wonderful things to me. All the wonderful things a beautiful girl can be and my best companion ever along with being the sweetest wife any guy ever could love. Those are just a few of the things, Darling, which make me love you more every day…

Goodnight Peach Blossom,


On the day Dean was shot down Connie Wrote:

14 May 1945

My most wonderful man,

I’m in a rather odd mood tonight Honey, and it is most all about you and Marvin and me. I have been trying to decide whether or not I would write to you tonight most all evening. I wanted to, but I didn’t know if I could express my feelings as I would want to, and, as I feel them. As you can see Honey, I have made up my mind to try. How well I succeed remains to be seen…

Then I was thinking of Marvin and wondering just what his talents are going to be. To have a Daddy such as you, Honey, he will be kind and good, even as you are, a wonderful man. Honey, I’m really just beginning to realize what a great responsibility we have in teaching and caring for Marvin. We just have to do it to the very best of our ability. I know you have lots of ability, Honey, and I hope I have…

I have a hard time, the past seems like such a thrilling dream of love and happiness. I wonder if it all really happened, but then I know it did. And Oh! Honey how I do love you now and forever and ever ever after with all my heart and soul. Honey I just can’t express how deep my love for you is. Its an impossibility. I love you always.

Good night my husband,




10 December 1944, The Same Damn Movie

… In Puerto Rico the crew was quite happy to watch the new release The Lady Takes a Chance starring John Wayne and Jean Arthur. Coincidently when they reached British Guiana the same movie was featured. Not to be deterred the crew again enjoyed the film. When they got to Brazil and it was again the featured picture show, some murmuring occurred. The Corporalies, were feeling cheated.

When they found the movie would be playing at their fourth stop also they complained to Dean.

“Sir, ain’t the Army got any other movies?”

“We know the lines better than the actors.”

“We know John Wayne is going to eat the lamb chops because Jean Arthur cooked them for him even tho he is a beef man.”

“Maybe there will be something new at our next stop,” was the consolation Dean offered. After crossing the Atlantic The Corporalies showed signs of giving up on the movies.

But in KhartoumThe Corporalies forced into the NCO Club by the searing heat and therefore ‘forced‘ to drink cold beer all day had a terrible yearning, near evening, for a movie.

“Howell, go see what’s playing at the movies tonight.” ordered his fellow Corporalies.

By virtue of being the youngest Howell was often the brunt of such requests especially after three or four beers. He had given up protesting that he was the same rank as them. In fact as the Central Gunner, he was in charge of the other gunners in combat, but as the youngest of four boys at home he felt a strange comfort in re-playing the role with his combat brothers.

“And damn it, don’t come back if it is The Lady Takes a Chance.”

Of course he discovered that The Lady was indeed tonight’s special feature. On the way back to the NCO Club with the sad news that John Wayne was again eating those lamb chops even here on the edge of the Nile Rivers, he met his Airplane Commander.

“Sir, they are playing that same damn movie here, oh sorry sir, that same John Wayne movie is playing here. We are sick of it, Sir, ain’t the Army got any other movies?”

“Evan, the reason that movie shows up everywhere we go, is that we have been tasked with delivering it to our final destination while allowing each layover airfield to use it.”

Howell stared at his Airplane Commander as his cognitive impaired brain tried to process. The light finally came on for him, a bit dim, but it came on. “Oh, Sir, I see Sir, I’ll tell the boys.”

And off he wandered, not in the direction of the boys, but in the direction of his bunk, taking his comrades threat to not return with bad news seriously.


Available Here and on Amazon!


About the Author


I am, by my own admission, a reluctant writer. But there are stories that demand to to be told. When we hear them, we must pick up our pen, lest we forget, and the stories be lost.

Six years ago, in a quiet conversation with my friend Marvin, I learned the tragic story his father, a WW2 B-29 Airplane Commander, shot down over Nagoya, Japan just months before the end of the war.

Bill Clinton has famously said: “They were the fathers we never knew, the uncles we never met, the friends who never returned, the heroes we can never repay. They gave us our world. And those simple sounds of freedom we hear today are their voices speaking to us across the years.”

Such a man was Marv’s father. A father he never knew. The telling of the story that evening by this half orphan was so moving and full of emotion, it compelled me to ask if I could write the story. The result being “They Called Him Marvin.”

My life has been profoundly touched in so many ways by being part of documenting this sacred story. I pray that we never forget, as a people, the depth of sacrifice that was made by ordinary people like Marvin and his father and mother on our behalf.

My career as an addiction counsellor (CDP) led me to write “The Waterfall Concept; A Blueprint for Addiction Recovery,” and co-author “Reclaiming Your Addicted Brain.”

After my counselling retirement, I decided I wanted to learn more about the craft of writing and started attending classes at Portland Oregon’s Attic Institute. What I learned is that there are an amazing number of great writers in my area, and they were willing to help others improve their skills. I am grateful to many of them.

My next project is already underway, a memoir of growing in SW Washington called “Life on a Sorta Farm.” My wife of 49 years, Susan and I still live in that area.

We raised seven children and have eleven grandchildren. We love to travel and see the sites and cultures of the world. I still get on my bicycle whenever I can.

They Called Him Marvin


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#BookTour “Black, White and Gray All Over: A Black Man’s Odyssey in Life and Law Enforcement” by Frederick Douglass Reynolds




Date Published: August 18, 2021

From shootouts and robberies to riding in cars with pimps and prostitutes, Frederick Reynolds’ early manhood experiences in Detroit, Michigan in the 1960s foretold a future on the wrong side of the prison bars. Frederick grew up a creative and sensitive child but found himself lured down the same path as many Black youth in that era. No one would have guessed he would have a future as a cop in one of the most dangerous cities in America in the 1980s—Compton, California. From recruit to detective, Frederick experienced a successful career marked by commendations and awards. The traumatic and highly demanding nature of the work, however, took its toll on both his family and personal life—something Frederick was able to conquer but only after years of distress and regret.




About the Author

Frederick Douglass Reynolds is a former Compton police officer and a retired LA County Sheriff’s Homicide Sergeant with a combined 32 years of experience working some of the worst areas of Los Angeles County. He retired in 2017 with over seventy-five commendations including a Chief’s Citation, five Chief’s commendations, one Exemplary Service Award, two Distinguished Service Awards, two Distinguished Service Medals, one city of Carson Certificate of Commendation, three City of Compton Certificate of Recognition, one city of Compton Public Service Hero award, one California State Assembly Certificate of Recognition, two State Senate Certificates of Recognition, a County of Los Angeles Certificate of Commendation, one Meritorious Service Award, two City of Compton Employee of the Year Awards, and two California Officer of the Year awards. He lives in Southern California with his wife, Carolyn, and their daughter Lauren and their young son, Desmond. They have six other adult children and nine grandchildren.

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#BookTour “Playing Doctor; PART TWO: RESIDENCY: (Blundering along with imposter syndrome)” by John Lawrence

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About the Book

Title: PLAYING DOCTOR; PART TWO: RESIDENCY: (Blundering along with imposter syndrome)

Author: John Lawrence

Ready to learn how (not) to be a doctor?

Well, neither was John.

John’s adventures in medical training continue with this insightful, often hilarious, self-deprecating medical memoir of bumbling into residency with a severe case of imposter syndrome. This second part in the series brings John’s unique, irreverent and candid med-school storytelling to the world of residency training.

Initially, John penned email blasts while being held captive on-call nights. His descriptions of the escapades, mishaps, disorder, and terror that surrounded his training, led several friends to enquire if he has broken into the hospital pharmacy. Eventually, someone asked to publish the stories, so John replied that he’d write down the whole adventure of becoming a doctor from medical school through residency.

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My very first patient on my very first day in the ER was a young woman with a severe headache. When I entered the room, she was moaning on the exam table with the lights turned off because lights exacerbated her headache. I spoke calmly and quietly to not make her head feel any worse, “Hi Nancy, my name’s John, I’m one of the doctors here today. I understand you have a headache?”

She attempted a brief, small smile for my compassionate efforts, “I’m having the worst headache of my life…feels just like a migraine…,” her smile replaced by a grimace of obvious pain.

That phrase however, worst headache of my life, is a catchphrase that medical students have been trained to respond to like Pavlovian dogs, drooling with excitement (and in my case, fear), because they were the words patients typically used to describe the pain associated with a hemorrhage in their brain.

I did a rapid battery of physical exam tests, and quickly went to discuss this potentially fatal headache with the attending physician.

My attending for the day was a fantastic doctor and great guy: always very relaxed and instructive, who appeared more likely to be crafting micro-brew in the ER office, while lecturing about existential philosophy in between poetry jams, than saving lives. I was very concerned about the patient and just blurted out, “I’d like to order a stat head CT to rule out a subarachnoid hemorrhage for this patient.”

“Stat” sounded kind of cool to say in this, my virgin, and quite emergent, ER case.

The attending appeared nonplussed, awaiting further explanation without any reaction to my urgent use of the word “stat.”

So, I blundered on, “This patient, Nancy Beckstead, twenty-seven-year-old woman, here with a chief complaint of a headache that she describes as… (drum-roll please) the worst headache of her life (dramatic pause… but still no reaction from the attending). Uh…the headache woke her early this morning…”

“Did you say Nancy Bankstead?”

“No. Beckstead.”

“Nancy’s a frequent flier here. Every Saturday. Just don’t give her any narcotic drugs.” And then he went back to casually reading his newspaper.

What? I was shocked. My patient was probably going to die; I wasn’t worried about pain meds—although, I did need a plan to treat her pain because, well, doctors are supposed to help relieve their patient’s pain. But I still needed to figure out what to do.

“So, don’t order that stat CT?” I asked.

The attending shook his head at either my silly re-use of the word stat, or more likely, my inability to grasp that Nancy was a big fat liar.

“No. Tell her to follow up with her doctor this week.”

I sulked out of the office, while the carefree attending turned back to his bagel and morning newspaper, calmly calling out to the nurses’ station, “Barbara, can you pull a recent

DOPL on Miss. Bankstead?”

I returned to Nancy, tiptoeing back inside the dark, quiet room, and politely asked her what medicines she had used for headaches in the past that had helped. Amazingly, all of them happened to be narcotics—the exact same medications I had just been instructed not to give to her.

I suggested a non-narcotic pain medicine.

She was allergic to it.

I suggested a different non-narcotic pain reliever.

Remarkably, she turned out to be allergic to every single non-narcotic pain reliever ever available in the world. I told her about a brand-new pain medicine that did not have the opioid effect of narcotics—but she was allergic to that one too.


Turned out she was a complete medical anomaly, and allergic to every class of pain medication except narcotics. Now what was I going to do? She was in pain, and the only medicines that helped were narcotics.

We were in a serious conundrum. Fortunately, Nancy was quite helpful and forthcoming about telling me that she didn’t even like taking pills, but in the past, when she absolutely needed something for pain, a medicine that she thought sounded something like, “Perk-o-sot?” had worked really well.

And regarding following up with her doctor, unfortunately, he was out of town all week, so her care, her well-being, her only chance of breaking the horrific migraine pain cycle, was left in my caring hands.

I returned to the attending’s office to inform him of Nancy’s allergies, and her doctor being out of town all week. My medical career was now reduced to playing messenger boy and patient envoy.

The attending tossed his newspaper aside, strode back to Nancy’s room, flipped on the lights, and loudly announced, “Hi Nancy, we’re not giving you any narcotics today. Anything else?”

She left the ER two minutes later walking upright, and not appearing to be in any pain.

I was shocked. She had barely been able to lift her head ten minutes before. She had lied right to my face!


Author Bio

John LawrenceJohn Lawrence was born in New York, grew up England, and attended Georgetown University where he told his career advisor that the only thing he did not want to be was a doctor. He subsequently survived medical school and residency training in Utah.

John was not the typical medical student, sneaking out of the hospital whilst on-call to audition for television shows; writing film scripts (also available on Amazon!) and overcoming imposter syndrome. He went on to work as a doctor for 20 years in both traditional western medicine and functional medicine.

John’s varied non-medical resume includes river rafting guide, ski race coach, bagel baker, screenwriter, film director, and expedition doctor climbing Kilimanjaro with Olympic Hall of Fame athlete Chris Waddell.


Visit the author’s website: https://johnlawrencewriter.com/


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#Excerpt “Blessed to Have Been Abandoned: The Story of The Baby Box Lady” by Monica Kelsey


The Story of The Baby Box Lady

Date Published: April 9, 2021

Publisher: MindStir Media

She went from being ABANDONED, to saving abandoned babies.

Poignant, brutally honest and triumphant; Blessed to Have Been Abandoned is the true story of Monica Kelsey, the founder of Safe Haven Baby Boxes. Follow Monica’s story as she discovers the secrets of her painful beginnings, the painful journey of her birth mother, wrestling with being abandoned as an infant, yet being given the gift of an amazing forever family. Watch as Monica’s personal struggle births the vision for a national organization that is saving the lives of abandoned infants across the United States.

A heart wrenching yet ultimately victorious story, Blessed to Have Been Abandoned will take you through the pain, struggle, valleys and mountain tops of Monica’s life, all of these pointing to the amazing hand of God. A testimony to God’s faithfulness and His plan and purpose, this book will encourage your own heart and help you find purpose through pain and we trust it will bring Glory to God, the Author of each one of our complicated, messy and inspiring journeys.


“Monica Kelsey’s Blessed to Have Been Abandoned: The Story of the Baby Box Lady is an uplifting inspirational story of how one woman answered God’s call on her life, transforming her difficult beginning into a mission to protect the most vulnerable among us in her home state and beyond. It’s exactly the kind of story we need. Highly recommended!” -J.J. Hebert, #1 bestselling author




Love your story and share your testimony, with confidence, because God, Himself, wrote it, and though there are areas and seasons that we wish we could avoid or re-do, the scriptures declare that all things are working together for the good of those who love God (Romans 8:28).

The following pages are my story. The pain, struggle, valleys and mountain tops, all of these pointing to the amazing hand of God. My story, similar to your own, is riddled with questions: “Why”? “Why me”? “Why now”, or perhaps “Why not now”? Questioning the providence of God is a part of being human. Asking the tough questions about where He was in the midst of pain and struggle and why He allowed the difficult seasons of our life is common to most of our lives.

If I have learned anything in this amazing adventure called living, it is that God is bigger than my questions, fears and suffering! He can handle your real emotions, and He is ALWAYS there… present, with you. He will never leave you or forsake you. He will never abandon you.

My hope is that by sharing my journey, by inviting you to walk alongside me, that you will be encouraged to see the hand of God in your own journey.

If you are just starting out, be encouraged to never give up! If you are in the middle of a valley or a season of suffering, be strong and courageous! If you are approaching the winter of your journey, look back with clear eyes and give thanks for the One who wrote your story and traveled with you the entire way.

You see, it boils down to perspective. If we focus on our circumstances, it will be devastating. But if we keep our focus on JESUS, we can walk through whatever life brings. Allow Him to use the darkness for good. He will. Do that and not only will you experience God in ways you would never have otherwise, but you will see Him move and use your journey for His glory. And friends, there is nothing more satisfying than doing what we were created for – bringing glory to Him. Joy, peace, comfort, and rest are found there. So whatever mountain you’re facing, keep your eyes on Christ and rest in His grace and grip. There’s no safer place to be.


About the Author

Monica Kelsey is the founder and Executive Director of Safe Haven Baby Boxes, a 501c3 non profit whose mission is to prevent infant abandonment and give mother’s in crisis a safe, legal and completely anonymous option of surrendering their unharmed newborn. Monica’s personal story of being abandoned at birth by a teen mom who had been raped and hidden away for her entire pregnancy propelled her to speak on behalf of babies like herself as well as her birth mother who desperately needed a safe option. Monica is also a firefighter/paramedic and knows first hand how important first responders are to state Safe Haven laws.


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#Excerpt “When I Was Her Daughter” by Leslie Ferguson

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Date Published: November 12, 2021

Publisher: Acorn Publishing

Seven-year-old Leslie has a serious problem: someone is trying to kill her.

She must fight to save herself and her little brother from the stark realities of living with their mother’s raging psychosis. To evade the evil Russian spies her mother believes are after them, they forgo sleep, speak in whispers, and live on the run. Her mother searches for hidden listening devices, writes rambling manifestos about the impending Communist takeover, and attempts to kill herself and her children to protect them from rape, torture, and murder at the hands of the government. Controlling the chaos seems impossible—Leslie rebels, which only angers her mother, but when she obeys, terrible consequences follow.

Eventually, the police place Leslie and her brother in foster care. Freedom from her mother’s paranoia and violent tendencies offers the young girl a glimmer of hope, but she plummets into despair under the oppressive weight of abusive, alienating homes. All seems lost until a teacher intervenes, risking everything to bring Leslie to safety, to show her the redemptive power of trust and patience, and to prove unconditional love is possible, even without the bond of blood.

When I Was Her Daughter is a raw, honest account of one girl’s terrifying childhood journey through madness, loss, and a broken foster care system, where only the lucky and most resilient survive.





Summer 1980

Age 6

My earliest memory is of drowning.

Mom squints and smiles at me. Holding my hand, she guides me into the ocean. I’m on my tiptoes and intoxicated with excitement. I want her to take me out so I can float like a buoy. The cool water lifts me up, makes me weightless under the blasting summer sun. Mom tells me, “Not too deep,” but I pull her toward the horizon, where all I can see is water and sky.

I’m six years old, wearing my pink and white floral two-piece with the ruffles over the chest and across the hips. The water’s surface rises under my chin like a blanket, and a lukewarm chill trickles along the back of my neck.

Auntie Philys and William wade at the shoreline behind me where the water rushes in and tugs at the land. Auntie’s polyester pant cuffs are rolled up, so I know she’s expecting to get wet even though she can’t swim. William is only five, and he can’t swim either. The sun makes the top of his blond head shine.

My aunt’s ragged voice rings out. “Help! I can’t swim!”

When I look back to the shoreline, I see the surf has knocked her down, and the water and sand take her, as if with fingers, into the sea. Like an overturned beetle, Auntie kicks at the air. Then, William falls, and the whitewash yanks him into the surf, too. I’m thinking I should go back and save them, but when I turn toward Mom to tell her, water gushes into my mouth and floods my ears with its whoosh, glomp, whoosh, and then I’m like a bundle of clothes in a washing machine. I don’t understand the thick scent that fills my nose—mushed strawberries mixed with salt. My eyeballs sting like a burn, but I keep them open. I need them to find the light because that’s where the surface is.

Mom lets me go. I inhale ocean and flail around for her—a hand, a body, something to anchor me. I’m slammed into the sea floor. It’s a scratchy, sickening drag along the bottom before I’m tossed again and tumbling. I strain toward the surface, teaching myself how to survive already. Something scrapes my thigh. Mom’s fingernails? No, her ring. The yellow topaz one with the prongs that stick up like needles. I reach for her but come up empty.


I open my eyes after drowning to see Jesus looking down at me. He holds me in his arms, carries me to my towel. Seawater drips like honey from his long, brown hair and beard. The sun behind him creates a halo around his head.

William lies on a towel on his belly, whimpering. I rest my hand on his trembling back.

Jesus leaves but returns soon, carrying Mom. He leaves again, and when he returns, he has Auntie Philys in his arms. He lays her gently on a towel.

“You’re an angel,” Mom says, her breath heavy like sadness. “You saved us. An angel sent straight from heaven. What’s your name?”

“It’s Jesus, Mom,” William says.

Jesus laughs. “I’m Dan. Just glad I was here.”

“Where did you come from?” Mom says. “The beach is practically empty except for those two fucking lazy excuses.” She points to a man and woman sitting as still as mannequins in low chairs about fifty yards away.

“I was just out on my board,” Jesus says. “The undertow took you.”

Mom’s mascara streaks her cheeks, and her short auburn hair sticks to her temples and forehead. “Damn Communists.” She shakes her head. “They’re everywhere.”

Auntie squints. “Roberta, knock it off.” She coughs into her hand, then gropes around the towel for her purse. “I need my glasses. And a cigarette.”

I sink into my warm towel, floating on being alive. I look up, but Jesus is gone.

“Lazy bastards!” Mom shouts and shuffles through the hot sand toward the lounging couple. “Kids are drowning, and you just sit there?”

They ignore her, staring straight ahead in their sunglasses. Maybe they are mannequins. Or Communists, whatever that is. Auntie puts her hand on Mom’s arm, but Mom kicks sand at their legs before giving up.

Towels over shoulders, we drag ourselves to the car. Boiled hotdog and coconut suntan lotion smells replace the scent of drowning. Soaring seagulls let squawks fall from their beaks. A cloud-gray bird lands at the edge of the sidewalk to peck at breadcrumbs.

We drive home in Auntie’s Ford Mustang with the fuzzy white dice hanging from the rearview. Lungs small and tight, I fall asleep and dream about how staying close to the surface keeps me safe.

On the sidewalk in front of our Paramount apartment, I turn the crotch of my swimsuit inside out to release clumps of sand. I should have died, but instead, I feel how soft the sand and I are, and how hard, too. I’m mad at the ocean for tricking me, for being so inviting when all it wanted to do was swallow me.


About the Author

Leslie Ferguson is an accomplished educator, editor, and writing coach. As a youth in foster care, she dreamed about becoming a teacher. She earned her credential at the University of Redlands and returned to her alma mater to teach advanced English before obtaining a master’s degree in English literature and an MFA in creative writing from Chapman University. Her work has been published in numerous literary magazines and anthologies. A member of the San Diego Memoir Writers Association and the San Diego Writers and Editors Guild, Leslie is a repeat performer at So Say We All’s VAMP! and Poets Underground. She lives in the greater San Diego area with her husband, where she binge-watches coming-of-age character dramas and reminisces about her glory days as an All-American basketball player and collegiate Hall-of-Fame athlete. When I Was Her Daughter is her first book.

Visit the author online at LeslieFergusonAuthor.com.

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#BookTour “Clipped” by Adrienne Alitowski

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Date Published: November 4th 2021

Publisher: Acorn Publishing

Clipped is a quirky memoir about a new mother whose desperation to get her baby to sleep catapulted her into becoming an inventor and a small business owner—just before the world fell apart in 2008.

As a full-time mother and entrepreneur, Adrienne Alitowski rolled out her invention, blankyclip®, to retailers across the country, including over thirty stores in the Buy Buy Baby national chain. LA Parent Expecting and Kids Today both made blankyclip a “Top Pick.” The United States Patent and Trademark Office awarded her three utility patents and a trademark. All that fabulous glory aside, Adrienne also learned what it’s like to fly halfway around the world to a Chinese factory and to be pregnant, throwing up on the street just before an investor meeting. These experiences led her down a path to write this memoir about sticking to your vision and being open to finding gold in the muck.



Having a baby at my age—or any age—ends your life as you know it. But Gary and I had been married for seven years, together for eleven, and we wanted children.

It was 2003, and I was thirty-seven. Since my body wasn’t going to be endlessly fertile, it was now or never. I couldn’t imagine it being never. So I became a mother, and my life did change in every way possible. Thirty-seven years of making myself the priority. Of planning my days around what I needed. Of sleeping. And suddenly I was spending many hours of all my days pushing my baby around neighborhood streets in his stroller.

Eli was a baby who needed to be moving, or he wouldn’t sleep. Getting those crucial naps in meant staying in motion and keeping him in a safe little cocoon that I made by hanging a blanket over the stroller.

Which brought me to the next oh-so-fun dilemma: How did I keep him in this safe little cocoon when his blanket kept falling off the stroller? Or if I managed to pile enough stuff on top of the stroller to secure one end of the blanket, then the other end would fly in and hit his face. And wake him. An extra annoyance came when the blanket fell and hit the street and ended up under the wheels, getting streaked with dirt.

Clearly, what I needed was a clip that would “hold a blanket fast to any model stroller, car seat or carrier but won’t pinch little fingers! True security at last,” as L.A. Parent magazine would say some years later. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Before nausea and prenatal vitamins entered my life, I worked as an actress mostly. If you were paying attention, you might have seen me on Beverly Hills 90210, Just Shoot Me, Everybody Loves Raymond, and 18 Wheels of Justice. Although the odds of succeeding in the entertainment industry are infinitesimal, there was nothing I wouldn’t try. I performed a one-woman show; I produced a show, GlenMary, GlenRose: Women Do Men, with celebrity actresses as a fundraiser for breast cancer research; and I directed a short film that played in festivals from Sarasota to Santa Cruz. I thought that if I just held on to that pant leg of life with all my might, my tenacity and fearlessness would land me a juicy role on a must-see sitcom, and my problems would be over. I devoured trade magazines like Variety and the Hollywood Reporter. I went to seminars and networking breakfasts to learn tidbits that might help me get that next job. I auditioned for anything and everything. I said I played the cello, which I hadn’t done since high school, and that landed me a job “playing” in a Don Henley music video (the music was prerecorded, thank goodness). My point is, I was determined, and I loved pursuing an acting career.

But when I went on my first nauseous, pregnant audition and pretended I wasn’t pregnant, I could smell—like a poopy diaper under a brand-new onesie—the writing on the wall. And when I dropped off my newborn at a friend’s house and ran to audition for a commercial (which I actually booked), it felt wrong to desert him and his needs and be focused back on mine. Without my permission, my priorities had shifted. I was now in the “I’m a mom and it’s not about me anymore” phase of life.


About the Author

Adrienne Alitowski invented, patented, and manufactured blankyclip®, a stroller accessory. She sold blankyclips nationally in Buy Buy Baby as well as in many boutiques across the country and around the world. As an actress, she performed on Broadway and toured with the National Theatre of the Deaf. Her television credits include Will & Grace, Just Shoot Me!, Everybody Loves Raymond, and Beverly Hills, 90210, among others. She produced and co-wrote her one-woman show, Just Tell Them You’re From Scarsdale, which she performed in New York and Los Angeles. She created, produced, and performed in the celebrity benefit Glen Mary Glen Rose: Women Do Men, in Los Angeles, which raised funds for breast cancer research as well as awareness about the lack of diverse roles for women. She is the mother of two and lives in Los Angeles with her family. Clipped is her first book.

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