“NewRelease “Diary of a Prison Officer” by Josie Channer

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Why the prison system is failing women

Josie Channer, author of Diary of a Prison Officer, explains

“I hope that my new novel Diary of a Prison Officer informed by my time working as a prison officer will shine a light on a failing prison system that is in desperate need of reform. We have seen violence in prisons skyrocket and prisons like Birmingham are reported to be unfit for human habitation. Successive governments have tried everything: privatisation, bringing in the third sector, a drive to reduce short-term sentences. Yet re-offending is still stubbornly high and prisons are still failing. All these new initiatives cannot off set the cuts that the prison service has had to endure. In these uncertain times, given Brexit and the shock of the Covid-19 pandemic, are things about to get even worst?

I believe that the prison system has always failed women. My years in service exposed me to the many complex reasons why women end up in prison. There was an overwhelming theme that the women were victims themselves struggling to get the support they needed.

I wrote Diary of a Prison Officer, a novel set in a women’s prison, because I felt that the stories from the women of Holloway Prison needed to be told. From the prison governor, officers and prisoners, they all have a story to tell of love, heartbreak and triumph. The novel explores issues around discrimination, Black British identity and the failure of the prison system to rehabilitate women.

There are three areas that would make a significant difference to the outcome of women on the verge of getting sent to prison.

  1. Mental health

I remember my first day at Holloway prison like it was yesterday. That morning, a prisoner emerged from her cell with a full-to-the-brim bucket of excrement that she had hidden under her bed for two weeks.  The wing descended into chaos. The siren rang throughout the prison. She stood by the wing door waiting for the officers that would answer the call. The first officer through the door was met by a full bucket of excrement on her face. The prisoner had covered herself in her own mess and stood goading officers to dare take her down.

My first experience as a new prison officer is an example of how the prison service still responds to women with mental health problems. After weeks of displaying unusual behaviour the prisoner finally came to a crisis point and was then taken by force to the segregation unit. The prisoner was transferred to the healthcare unit however, I soon discovered that there was little support for staff and prisoners from the healthcare unit.

Mental health provision in our prisons needs to be completely overhauled. Ongoing training for prison officers on mental health is vital. Although prison staff workalongside mental health professionals, prison officers still do not receive any specialist training. Investment in community mental health to support women before they reach crisis point and commit an offence cannot be put off any longer.

  1. Drug rehabilitation

It was sad to see the many prisoners whose lives had been stolen by drugs. They tended to be in their mid-20s but looked like they were in their mid-70s with missing teeth and the skin hanging off their bones. The system had given up on them and they only cared for what drug substitution medication they would be given while they waited in line. It was a shock when I met an 18-year old girl in prison who had already been given up on because she was so addicted to drugs. She was constantly in and out of Holloway. six months here, three months there. That time it was for shoplifting. A year later I was holding her hand in the labour unit at the Whittington Hospital during the birth of her first child. Two years later I held her hand again. Both children were removed from her care by social services immediately.

No government seems to be willing to fix the broken link between prison, drug rehabilitation services and probation. This should be treated as a public health issue first and foremost. It is clear that something bold is needed to cut the link between repeat re-offending and drug abuse. For people with drug misuse problems prison needs to be cut out altogether and replaced with secure drug rehabilitation centres.

  1. Education, employment and skills

I have tried to think of an example that could illustrate how education, employment and skills training can transform the life of a person in prison. Unfortunately, I was not able to think of a single example – not because there are none but because such support is currently the exception not the rule. Employment and skills training are seen as the role of probation. It is as if women are expected to come out of prison and remain dependent, instead of being given the tools they need to find work.

Employment and skills training need to be just as important in women’s prisons as it is in male prisons. The focus on finding work is also not just for the probation service but the job hunt needs to start in prison. We need to consider the full cost of re-offending not just the cost of imprisonment but the cost to the community and to the victims. The state has a duty to do all it can to end the cycle of crime that many offenders feel trapped in by providing all the assistance they need to stand on their own two feet when they leave prison.”

 

Diary of a Prison Officer is available from all major book retailers and at Amazon paperback £5.65 and on Kindle £2,37from and on Audible  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0892J2XLZ

For more information go to www.josiechanner.co.uk

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#ReleaseBlitz “She Wears the Mask” by Shelly Stratton

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Women’s fiction, Historical Fiction

Date Published: August 11, 2020

 

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Gripping and moving, She Wears the Mask is a novel about two women from two
very different worlds, both burdened with secrets from their pasts, who form
an unexpected bond…

1950s Chicago: Angelique Bixby could be one of many fresh-faced sales girls
working along the Magnificent Mile, but she’s unique. She’s a
white woman married to a black man in 1950s Chicago, making her stand out
among the tenements on the South Side where she lives. Despite the
challenges the couple faces, they find comfort and strength in their love
for one another. Angelique is content, as long as she has her Daniel by her
side and their baby in her arms, until she loses them both—one to
death and the other to dire circumstances.

1990s Washington, D.C.: Angelique Crofton is a woman of privilege. A rich,
aging beauty and mother of a rising political star, she has learned to
forget her tragic past. But now that she is facing her own mortality, she is
finally ready to find the daughter she left behind, remember the young woman
she once was, and unearth the bittersweet memories she had long ago
buried.

Jasmine Stanley is an ambitious lawyer—the only black woman at her
firm. She is too busy climbing the corporate ladder to deal with her
troublesome family or their unresolved issues. Tasked with Angelique’s
case, Jasmine doesn’t know what to make of her new client—an old
debutante with seemingly too much time and money on her hands. Jasmine
eagerly accepts the challenge though, hoping if she finds Angelique’s
long-lost daughter, it will impress the firm’s partners. But she
doesn’t count on the search challenging her mentally and emotionally.
Nor does she expect to form a friendship with Angelique, who is much more
like her than she realizes—because Jasmine is harboring secrets,
too.

Purchase Link

Amazon

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About the Author

Shelly Stratton is the penname of an award-nominated women’s fiction author who has published more than a dozen novels in her career.

She is married and lives in Maryland with her husband and their daughter.


She loves to paint, read, and watch movies. Visit her at her web site
www.shellystrattonbooks.com.

  

Contact Links

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#BookBlitz “Beyond the Moon” by Velda Brotherton

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Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Oghma Creative Media
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Katie agrees to teach art techniques at the vet’s hospital to deal with the painful loss of her husband. She discovers her own buried strengths when Glen’s lost soul reaches out to her and they become close friends. Dealing with a damaged warrior is more difficult than she thought. But love makes no room for defeat, and their battles though hard won promise a life together if only they can persevere.

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About the Author

Velda Brotherton has written for 35 years and turned out that many novels plus 15 published short stories and six nonfiction books.

She lives in the Arkansas Ozarks where she continues to write every day while enjoying wildlife and the surrounding mountains.
She has three children, three grandchildren, and two great grandsons.
At 84 she has no plans to retire and is currently working on several books. When I quit,” she says, “it will be with my still fingers resting on the keyboard.”

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#NewRelease “The Borrowed Boy” by Deborah Klée

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A borrowed boy, a borrowed name and living on borrowed time.

What do you put on a bucket list when you haven’t done anything with your life? No interesting job, no lovers, no family, no friends. Believing she has only weeks left to live, Angie Winkle vows to make the most of every minute.

Going back to Jaywick Sands, is top of her bucket list. Experiencing life as a grandmother is not, but the universe has other plans and when four-year-old Danny is separated from his mum on the tube, Angie goes to his rescue. She tries to return him to his mum but things do not go exactly as planned and the two of them embark on a life-changing journey.

Set in Jaywick Sands, once an idyllic Essex holiday village in the 70s, but now a shantytown of displaced Londoners, this is a story about hidden communities and our need to belong.

 Purchase Links

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Other digital platforms:

https://books2read.com/TheBorrowedBoy

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Author BioDeborah Klee

Deborah has worked as an occupational therapist, a health service manager, a freelance journalist, and management consultant in health and social care.

Her protagonists are often people who exist on the edges of society. Despite the very real, but dark, subject matter her stories are uplifting, combining pathos with humour. They are about self-discovery and the power of friendships and community.

The Borrowed Boy, her debut, was shortlisted for the Deviant Minds Award 2019. Just Bea, her second novel will be published in 2021.

Deborah lives on the Essex coast. When she is not writing she combines her love of baking with trying to burn off the extra calories.

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#Featured “The Garden of Eden: A Romance Standalone” by Millie Belizaire

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Eden is an R&B superstar who has lost her passion for music. Andrew is a pastor who doesn’t believe in God. Although for different reasons, both of them move through life with an enormous amount of pressure on their backs.

On the night of her concert in New Orleans, Eden sneaks out of an afterparty and mistakes Andrew’s car for her ride home. Despite the fact that Eden claims she’s famous, Andrew’s never heard of her and he doesn’t care that she’s stranded.

Eden’s not used to people saying no to her. And that’s exactly what Andrew does, marking the beginning of a journey neither of them saw coming.

Andrew and Eden are unlike each other in many ways, but both are dealing with their own demons. Just as their issues threaten to crumble them both, they find each other.

This is a standalone.

  • This book is a contemporary slow burn romance.
  • Despite the summary and story elements, this is NOT Christian fiction. At least, not in the traditional sense.
  • Language and sexual content in this book may offend some.

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#Featured “Unthinkable Sins: Book 1” by Tiffani Quarles-Sanders

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A family’s darkest secrets are about to be revealed.

Jerome Durham is an up-and-coming black politician who faces a dilemma when his elderly mother starts showing signs of dementia.

Until now, the family and friends of elderly Hattie Durham have known her to be a God-fearing, law abiding Christian woman. But as her aging mind starts to unravel, Hattie begins confessing to a litany of sins she’s committed throughout her lifetime. During several conversations, she tells stories that describe emotional incidents she went through in her life, unconsciously giving the reasons for the terrible things she did in her later years.

Jerome does not know if his mother’s confessional is driven by guilt or revenge, or just an unfortunate random consequence of her illness, but he’s not sure he can wait to find out. His career is at stake if she tells anyone how his own past mistakes are entwined with hers. Neither he nor his wife is about to let that happen.

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#BookBlitz “It’s A Work Thing” by Michelle Karise

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IT’S A WORK THING

BY MICHELLE KARISE

Garrett

They call me the King of Dynex, architect of the company’s crown jewel: the world’s largest scientific website. Half the company loves me, the other can’t stand me—when you’ve got your sights set on bigger things, it comes with the territory. Bonus: My ice-cold reputation hides my broken heart.

If Dynex pulls off its upcoming public offering, my best friend and I will be swimming in corporate stock, free to launch our own company. Now more than ever, I need to be focused. I don’t need a distraction like Jasmine Carmichael, a gorgeous consultant with honey-almond skin and a killer smile.

Jasmine
Ever had any luck with dating apps? No? Girl, same. I don’t play games. One, my travel schedule as a consultant doesn’t allow it. And two, at the first hint I’m an old-fashioned girl in search of romance, I’m ghosted.

I shouldn’t be attracted to six-three of citrine-eyed, muscular, urban sophistication like Garrett Hamilton. He’s a client, and clients are definitely out of my dating pool. But something about him makes me want to ignore the rules and roll the dice.

I should have remembered corporate games never end well—especially when you gamble with your heart.

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EXCERPT

That’s when he did it. His left hand unbuttoned his right sleeve, and he carefully folded the cuff to his inner elbow. He then folded the bottom until it reached the top of his cuff, revealing the cords rippling through his muscular, tanned forearms.

My heart raced, and as much as I tried, I couldn’t look away. The small, effortless move was so sexy. A short exhalation left my chest as I stared.

Yeah. We’ll be getting a lot of work done.

Still standing, he smoothed the edges of the folds. He smirked in an annoyingly self-confident way that dampened my panties. Then he repeated the action on his right arm. This time, he met my gaze and took his time rolling the sleeve, flexing the muscles in his forearms when he did it.

He knew he was turning me on. And he enjoyed it!

I imagined that I appeared wide-eyed and breathless while I squirmed in my seat.

My god. Could this be more embarrassing?

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Enter to Win

Two winners will receive a signed copy of IT’S A WORK THING & exclusive swag!

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ABOUT MICHELLE KARISE

Michelle Karise is a St. Louis-native who lives with her temperamental Shih Tzu, Rooney. The sassy, Type-A personality is a member of several professional organizations, notably the Romance Writers of America.Travel, martinis, and wit are her jam and nuance is her butter. She constructs stories featuring intelligent female leads and the confident and strong men that love them. Sometimes the hero and heroine don’t behave as she would like, but she is always optimistic that love will prevail.

CONNECT WITH MICHELLE

AUTHOR SITE | FACEBOOKTWITTER | INSTAGRAMNEWSLETTER | PINTEREST | GOODREADS | BOOKBUB | AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

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#ReleaseBlitz “A Summer of Surprises” by Judith Keim

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Romance, Women’s Fiction

A Seashell Cottage Book

Release Date: June 23, 2020

Publisher: Wild Quail Publsihing

 

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Jill Conroy is tricked by her sister into becoming the housekeeper and cook
for the summer at Seashell Cottage where Greg Campbell and his nephew,
Brody, have been hired to do maintenance projects on the house. Annoyed at
first, Jill soon realizes how wonderful it is to be away from her home in
New York and the memories of her deceased, emotionally abusive
husband.

Soon the magic of the beach heals Jill enough for her to decide to move to
Florida permanently to make a new life for herself. Her part-time work at a
summer camp and the promise of a new job as a third-grade teacher in the
fall make it seem as if her future is set. But a visit from her sister,
followed by her mother, reveals secrets that surprise them all. Jill learns
to accept the idea of love not only from Brody but from his daughter, Kacy,
as the summer brings even more surprises.

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Other Books in the Seashell Cottage Series:

A Christmas Star

A Seashell Cottage Book

Publisher: Wild Quail Publsihing

Published: November 2018

 

Two years ago, Noelle North’s then-fiancé left her waiting at
the church on Christmas—her wedding day and birthday. Now, she knows
she cannot endure another holiday season at home in Boston. At the urging of
four women at the assisted-living community where she serves as health
director, Noelle decides to rent Seashell Cottage on the Gulf Coast of
Florida for the holidays. She meets Silas Bellingham, the cutest
seven-year-old boy she’s ever seen, and his great-grandmother, Althea.
Noelle discovers Althea’s caretaker has been abusing her and goes into
action, ending up with the temporary care of both Althea and Silas. Becoming
part of the Bellingham household has an entirely different series of
challenges when it comes to Althea’s grandsons, Jake and Brett, who
are having problems of their own with hotels to run and their parents
missing in a plane crash. But after sparring with her, Silas’ father,
Jake, realizes Noelle is just what he and his family need, and when she
finds the perfect Christmas star for Silas, they both know he’s
right.

 

 Purchase on Amazon

 

 

Change of Heart

A Seashell Cottage Book

Publisher: Wild Quail Publsihing

Published: June 2019

 

Emerson “Em” Jordan always wanted a Valentine’s Day
wedding. But after being dumped by her boyfriend, she spends the holiday at
Seashell Cottage on the Gulf Coast of Florida with Devin Gerard, a family
friend who has no interest in her or any other woman and is instead
concentrating on his pediatric medical practice and continuing medical
missions in Costa Rica.

Em, who’s always wanted a large family, doesn’t mind his
disinterest. At thirty-two, she’s decided she doesn’t need a
husband to have a child or to adopt one. First, she’s going to fulfill
her dream of setting up her own landscape design business in upstate New
York and has promised to continue to help run her grandmother’s flower
shop.

It isn’t until Em and Devin become friends that Em realizes she might
want more than friendship from him. But with his work in Miami and Costa
Rica and her busy life in New York, it’s out of the question until
something happens that changes everything, even a couple of hearts.

 

 Purchase from Amazon

 

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Excerpt

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

Jillian Conroy listened to her sister, Cristal’s, voice on her
cellphone and took a deep breath.  A call from her sister was always a
surprise.

“So, start all over again, Cristal, and tell me exactly what it is
you want me to do.”

“It’s easy, Jill. My friend, Hope Thomason, now owns the
Seashell Cottage on the Gulf Coast of Florida, and she just needs someone to
live at the cottage for the summer while we do our European tour, the one
we’ve been talking about for years.”

“That’s it?” It didn’t sound like something
difficult. In fact, it sounded like a great way to escape the memories of
the past, thought Jill. School would be out in another week, and she
didn’t have any exciting plans for her summer break from teaching.
Maybe some extended time on the Gulf Coast would do her good. But every time
she tried to do something for her sister, it cost her emotionally, and
often, financially. A requested lunch date would end up with Jill paying for
it. What was supposed to be a fun event of shopping turned into a nightmare
when Cristal pouted that the dress Jill bought was the one she wanted. Their
relationship had always bordered on the toxic.

“There’s one more thing. A friend of Hope’s family, Greg
Campbell, is an older man who’s agreed to do some work on the cottage.
He’s staying in one of the guest rooms for a few weeks until the work
is done.”

“An older man, you say?”

“Yes. He and Hope’s father are friends. They’re the same
age.”

Jill let out a sigh of relief. Too many friends had been pushing her to
start dating again. She had no interest in doing so. Not after Jay’s
death two years ago.

“Think about it. I’ll call you tonight for your answer.”
Cristal cut off the call before Jill could ask any more questions.

 Jill sat in a chair and stared out the window of the kitchen inside
the small bungalow she called home in Ellenton, a small town in upstate New
York. She should’ve sold it months ago. The memories she held of her
life in the house weren’t pleasant. She’d thought by clearing
Jay’s things out of the house following his automobile accident,
she’d be able to chase away the unhappiness she’d known with
him.  But now the space just seemed empty. And lonely.

Her thoughts settled on her sister. Three years older than she, Cristal was
the beauty of the family. Their mother had declared to anyone who would
listen that Cristal got her beautiful features, naturally blonde hair, and
bright blue eyes from a relative of hers, while Jillian looked like the
Davis side of the family. The comparison was painful. Without the highlights
she had to add every few months, Jillian’s hair was a dishwater tan.
Her hazel eyes held no trace of blue. Worst of all, Cristal’s tall,
willowy figure seemed to taunt Jill’s shorter, curvy shape. It was a
bad match-up all around. If it weren’t so much like a well-known
storybook scenario, it would be almost comical.

Restless, Jill got up and paced the kitchen. It wasn’t their
different looks that had made her relationship with Cristal so difficult. It
was Cristal’s tendency to manipulate others in order to get her own
way. Jill knew how foolish it was to keep old wounds stored inside, but
every once in a while, one poked through the shell she kept around herself.
How could she forget that Cristal stole her date in college, the one guy
she’d dreamed would be hers forever? It was just one of the ways
Cristal had hurt her through the years. A snort of disgust left Jill’s
mouth. She might not have even paid attention to Jay except Cristal thought
he was a hottie. How was that for stupid rivalry?

Before she could go any deeper with that thought, the phone rang. Jill knew
who it was before she even checked Caller ID. Her mother, Valerie Davis, had
a nose for trouble. No doubt Cristal had phoned her for support.

“Hello, Mom,” Jill said without enthusiasm.

“Hi, honey. Cristal called to tell me that she’s arranged for
you to have a very nice summer break. She’s so thoughtful that
way.”

“She asked me to do her a favor so she and her friend can travel to
Europe,” Jill said calmly, still uncertain as to whether she should go
ahead with the idea or even what it entailed. 

“Well, if you don’t do it, I’m sure they can find someone
else to stay at the cottage. It sounds lovely. You should be grateful to
Cristal for thinking of you,” chided her mother. “A whole summer
to relax.”

It would be useless to argue. “Maybe you’re right,” said
Jill. “I could use the break to get away.” The idea suddenly
appealed to her. This change in her normal routine might give her the
opportunity to think things through, make some major decisions about her
life, give her a fresh start. God knew she’d been in an emotional rut
even before Jay had been killed.

“Splendid,” her mother said with satisfaction. “I’m
glad you’ll help your sister out. It would mean so much to her. She
and Hope have been planning this summer tour for a long time, and poor
Cristal has been working very hard.”

“You mean as a hostess at the club in Miami?”

“Now, Jillian, she does the best she can, and with her looks, she
doesn’t need to spend her time teaching school.”

“Oh? Because I teach school …” Jill stopped herself. She
didn’t like the person she became when dealing with her family. Only
her father had accepted her for who she was, and he’d died several
years ago.

“I didn’t mean that the way it sounded, Jillian,” her
mother said with a note of apology.

“Look, I have to go,” Jill said. “I’ll let you know
what I decide.”

“Please do. I care about both of you and hope that someday you girls
will get along.”

Jill sighed. “Goodbye, Mom.” Though the day was ruined by the
familiar routine with her mother, the idea of escaping to a place far away
became tantalizing.

Later, while looking up information online about the Seashell Cottage, Jill
filled with excitement. The pictures of it were lovely. It was not simply a
cottage; it was a beautiful, three-bedroom, three-bath house that sat
overlooking a wide, sandy beach. The house even had a screened-in
pool.

Before she could change her mind or overwork the thought that something
must be wrong if her sister was involved, Jill punched in Cristal’s
cell number and, when prompted, left a message.

“Hi, Cristal. Jill here. I’ve decided to stay at Seashell
Cottage for the summer so you and Hope can travel. At the end of next week,
when school is out, I’ll drive down to Florida. I should be there by
June 8th and can stay until late August. Let me know if those dates work
with you and Hope.” Hating confrontation, she paused and took a deep
breath. “And, Cristal, thanks for thinking of me.”

That evening Cristal called. The noise of music and partying in the
background made it difficult to hear, but the message did get through that
Cristal was thrilled Jill would stay at the cottage. “You’ll
see. This summer is going to be good for you, Jilly. For both of us,
really.”

“I hope so,” said Jill honestly. She was more than ready for a
change.

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About the Author

Judith Keim enjoyed her childhood and young-adult years in Elmira, New
York, and now makes her home in Boise, Idaho, with her husband and their two
dachshunds, Winston and Wally, and other members of her family.

While growing up, she was drawn to the idea of writing stories from a young
age. Books were always present, being read, ready to go back to the library,
or about to be discovered. All in her family shared information from the
books in general conversation, giving them a wealth of knowledge and vivid
imaginations.

A hybrid author who both has a publisher and self-publishes, Ms. Keim
writes heart-warming novels about women who face unexpected challenges, meet
them with strength, and find love and happiness along the way. Her
best-selling books are based, in part, on many of the places she’s lived or
visited and on the interesting people she’s met, creating believable
characters and realistic settings her many loyal readers love. Ms. Keim
loves to hear from her readers and appreciates their enthusiasm for her
stories.

 

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