Who Will Win The Casual Vacancy?

The Casual Vacancy
Author: J. K. Rowling
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Publication Date: July 23, 2013
Price: Kindle – $11.99; Hardcover – $9.99; Paperback – various amounts depends on the seller


This is J. K. Rowling’s first novel for adults. It is nothing like the Harry Potter series for children.

The book opens at the home of Barry Fairbrother.  It is his anniversary and his wife wants to go out to celebrate.  He is fixated on an article for the newspaper about one of his students on the rowing team, but not wanting to totally disappoint his wife, he agrees to go to the Country Club for a dinner.  Once outside the Country Club, he drops dead.

Being a member of the local council, Fairbrother’s death leaves a Casual Vacancy.

The book doesn’t have one main character unless you consider dead Barry Fairbrother to be the main character. Instead, the book has several characters whose lives are all intertwined.  At first, it is hard to see the connection, but as the story progresses the reader will see how each character touches the lives of the others.

Readers find out fast that the town is actually a division of two areas and is in the midst of war and not just political war for the vacant council position.  The war comes from the intertwined lives of each character.  Teenagers against parents, couples against each other, teachers against pupils, neighbor against neighbor, rich against poor, and certain individuals are fighting to fill the casual vacancy.  Who will prevail?

Rowling does an amazing job of creating distinct characteristic for each character. Readers will be able to sympathize and empathize with these characters as they could be your neighbors:  doctors, lawyers, school teachers, shop owners, students, wealthy families, poor families, drug addicts, social workers, hospital volunteers, hospital staff, etc. all trying to cope with the problems and issues of the real world.  A few characters you are introduced to is an abusive husband who is involved with crooked dealings and his wife who puts up with the abuse. You meet an educator who lives inside his head and is obsessed with his fear and paranoia of doing something unacceptable to his students. You meet a social worker who left her job in London and uprooted her daughter to follow her boyfriend-lawyer to learn that he really doesn’t want her. You meet Fairbrother’s widow and children. You meet Krystal and Robbie who are children of a drug addict. And so many more characters who lives are connected in one way or another.





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Will Charlene Taylor beat the clock?

Rock-A-Bye Baby
Author: Luke Murphy
Publisher: ANM Books
Publication Date: June 15, 2019

Price:  Kindle – $6.99; Paperback – $16.99; read for FREE on Kindle Unlimited

About the book:

An aunt’s worst nightmare…

In the city of Denver, a series of baby kidnappings has the town devastated.  With no ransom demands and no contact from the perpetrators, local law enforcement is at a dead end. No motive equals no answers.

A cop’s personal obsession…

Charlene Taylor’s niece becomes a victim, and the LAPD detective is thrown headfirst into a whirlwind case with similarities to one from seven years earlier. Out of her jurisdiction, and with no friends or leads, Charlene must walk-the-line between cop and sister.

Who can she trust?

Charlene has to decide who’s an ally, and when an unlikely partner steps forward, they must race against the clock: because that critical 48-hour window has come and gone.


Review Blurbs

“Rock a Bye Baby has everything—a haunted protagonist, heartfelt emotion, and a twisty, thrilling plot.  A scorcher of a follow-up in a promising series.”—David Ellis, NYT bestselling author of The Last Alibi

“Murphy has cleverly crafted a riveting crime thriller, with a hefty dose of white-knuckle suspense. Entertaining and enticing to the very last page.”—Cheryl Kaye Tardif, bestselling author of Submerged

“Rock a Bye Baby is an exquisitely told thriller, full of surprises and terrifying moments. Murphy is a gifted storyteller who keeps the tension crackling throughout. Charlene Taylor drives the story to a very satisfying and unexpected ending.”—Kristina Stanley, bestselling author of the Stone Mountain series.


Author Bio (2019)

Luke Murphy is the International bestselling author of two series. The Calvin Watters Mysteries: Dead Man’s Hand (2012) and Wild Card (2017). The Charlene Taylor Mysteries: Kiss & Tell (2015) and Rock-A-Bye Baby (2019).

Murphy played six years of professional hockey before retiring in 2006. His sports column, “Overtime” (Pontiac Equity), was nominated for the 2007 Best Sports Page in Quebec and won the award in 2009. He has also worked as a radio journalist (CHIPFM 101.7).

Murphy lives in Shawville, QC with his wife and three daughters. He is a teacher who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing, and a Bachelor of Education (Magna Cum Laude).

For more information on Luke and his books, visit: www.authorlukemurphy.com

‘Like’ his Facebook page www.facebook.com/AuthorLukeMurphy

Follow on Twitter www.twitter.com/AuthorLMurph

Amazon link: Author.to/Author

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Who is Anthony Ray Hinton?

This book The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life, Freedom, and Justice by Anthony Ray Hinton, is as Bryan Stevenson said, “reading his story is difficult, but necessary.”

If you don’t want to read this book, at least click on the link above and click on Audible Sample under the book cover and listen to Bryan Stevenson, founder and Director of Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama.

Anthony Ray Hinton spent thirty years on Death Row for a crime he did not commit.  He was at work in a secure warehouse (had to check-in and out with a security guard and the warehouse surrounded by a tall fence and several miles away) in Alabama when a horrible crime took place. There had been other murders committed in the area and on this particular night, the victim lived and mistakenly identified Anthony Ray Hinton as the person who tried to kill him.  After reading about the trial, a reader can deduce there was no way that Hinton could have left work to commit the crime, nor did his mother’s gun match the crime evidence, yet he was arrested, charged, put on trial, and sentenced to death.  He was found guilty because of racism and poverty.

Once on Death Row, Hinton’s cell was thirty feet from the electric chair/death chamber.  While in prison fifty-four inmates walked past his cell to the chamber.

Think about this: The correctional officers would bring prisoners their three meals, let them out for an hour or so, let them know when they had a telephone call, let them know when they had a visitor, and tried to strike up polite conversations with them, all the while practicing to march the prisoners to the death chamber.  What must that do to the minds of the correctional officers and prisoners?

For the thirty years, Hinton was on Death Row, his friend Lester never missed one visiting day.

Hinton writes about using his imagination, humor, faith, and forgiveness to survive thirty years on Death Row.  This book also shows just how broken the justice system is in the United States.


Some questions to think about:

Should it take thirty years for an innocent person to prove their innocence?

Do you have a friend that would visit on every visitation day, if you were on Death Row for thirty years?

Anthony Ray Hinton was never compensated for his time on Death Row.  Do you think the State of Alabama owes him anything?

Hinton started a book club while in prison, what books do think they read?



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Filed under Authors, Books, Genre, Non-Fiction

Library Week, Children’s Book Day & Other Fun Holidays in April

There are all kinds of things going on during the month of April that an author can piggyback on to promote your books!

April is National Poetry Month, National Humor Month, Lawn & Garden Month, Sexual Assualt Awareness Month and others.

The first week in April if Library Week and the second week is Garden Week.  Visit Holiday Insights to see what the other weeks are.


April 1 – April Fool’s Day

April 2 – Children’s Book Day

April 3 – World Party Day

April 4 – Tell a Lie Day

April 5 – Go for Broke Day

April 6 – Sorry Charlie Day – sounds like a broken romance is in there somewhere

April 7 – National Beer Day

April 8 – Zoo Lover’s Day

April 9 – Winston Churchill Day

April 10 – National Sibling’s Day

April 11 – National Submarine Day – is that sandwich or the boat?

April 12 – Walk on Your Wildside Day

April 13 – National Peach Cobbler Day

April 14 – Ex-Spouse Day

April 15 – That Suck’s Day

April16 – Save the Elephant Day

April 17 – National Cheeseball Day

April 18 – Newspaper Columnists Day

April 19 – National Garlic Day

April 20 – Look Alike Day

April 21 – Kindergarten Day

April 22 – Earth Day (U.S.A.)

April 23 – World Laboratory Day

April 24 – Pig in a Blanket Day

April 25 – East Meets West Day

April 26 – Richter Scale Day  – is your book about an earthquake or does one happen in your book?

April 27 – Tell a Story Day

April 28 – Great Poetry Reading Day

April 29 – National Shrimp Scampi Day

April 30 – National Honesty Day


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March is Irish American Month & Other Fun Holidays

There are many fun holidays during the month of March starting with the whole month has been designated as Irish American Month!

Here are some special and fun holidays during the month of March.  For more holidays visit Holiday Insights.

Hope you are able to use one of the fun holidays to promote your book.


March 1 – National Pig Day

March 2 – Old Stuff Day

March 3 – I Want You to Be Happy Day

March 4 – Hug a GI Day – does your book have a military or ex-military character?

March 5 – Multiple Personality Day – does your book discuss mental health issues?

March 6 – National Frozen Food Day – does your character cook using frozen foods?

March 7 – National Crown Roast of Pork Day

March 8 – International (Working) Women’s Day

March 9 – Panic Day

March 10 – Middle Name Pride Day

March 11 – Johnny Appleseed Day

March 12 – Plant a Flower Day

March 13 – Ear Muff Day

March 14 – National Pi Day

March 15 – Everything Thing You Think is Wrong Day

March 16 – Everything You Do is Right Day

March 17 – St. Patrick’s Day

March 18 – Goddess of Fertility Day

March 19 – Poultry Day

March 20 – Proposal Day

March 21 – Fragrance Day

March 22 – National Goof Off Day

March 23 – National Puppy Day

March 24 – National Chocolate Covered Raisin Day

March 25 – Waffle Day

March 26 – Make Up Your Own Holiday Day

March 27 – National “Joe” Day

March 28 – Something on a Stick Day

March 29 – Smoke and Mirrors Day —-oooooh a great day to promote a mystery!

March 30 – National Doctor’s Day

March 31 – World Backup Day



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Happy Groundhogs Day

Today is February 2nd, and like everyone else across the United States, I have been wondering if Punxsutawney Phil will see his shadow.

What is Groundhogs Day and how did it get started?

Like so many of the holidays, it appears to be a cross between Christian customs and local lore.  The date, February 2nd, falls midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Pagans called this day Imbolc and as Christianity spread, Christians called this day Candlemas.  If the day was sunny, Christians believed it meant there would be many more days of winter.

On February 2, 1887, a local newspaper editor named Clymer Freas in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania declared Phil, a groundhog that lived at Gobble’s Knob the one true forecasting animal in the country.  According to legend, the same groundhog is still alive and will turn 132 years old this year [2019].

In 1993, Bill Murray starred in the movie Groundhog Day and since then Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, gets many visitors each year to see if Phil will see his shadow or not.  If he sees his shadows, it means another six weeks of winter.  If he doesn’t see his shadow, it means an early spring.

What about the groundhog (Marmot monax)?  It is also called woodchuck, land-beaver, and whistle-pig. It gets the name whistle-pig because when it gets alarmed it will emit a high-pitched whistle to warn the rest of his or her colony.

The groundhogs live in underground burrows, usually buried five feet deep.  These burrows can be elaborate: up to twenty-four feet long with two side chambers.  One side chamber is used as the groundhog’s restroom area. The other side chamber is used as a nesting area.  There are usually two to five different entrances into the burrow that provide different routes of escape from predators.

So how correct is Punxsutawney Phil in his predictions?  According to his handler, Phil is one-hundred percent correct.  It is the president’s, of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, interpretation of Phil’s prediction that is not always accurate.







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Literature Fellowship – Non-matching $25,000 Grant

The National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships deadline is March 6, 2019.

If you write fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction, apply for a non-matching $25,000 grant.




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Filed under Authors, Awards, Fiction, Non-Fiction, poetry

February Fun Holidays – Promote your book around these days

Looking to add fun to your book promotions?

When you combine your characters, themes, etc. to a holiday, you never know what kind of engagement you are going to get from your audience!

February 1 – Bubble Gum Day – Example: Check out Julia Cook’s Bubble Gum Brain Activity and Idea Book or The Bubble Gum Girl by Jim O’Brien and Michele Phillips.  They could have a contest to giveaway, well, bubble gum!

February 2 – Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day

February 2 – Ground Hog Day

February 3 – Feed the Birds Day – any book about birds, have a bird in it or a type of bird mentioned in the title

February 3 – Superbowl Sunday – books about football or football players

February 4 – Stuffed Mushroom Day – think cookbooks and books with recipes.

February 5 – National Weatherman’s Day

February 6 – National Chopstick Day

February 7 – Send a Card to a Friend Day

February 8 – Kite Flying Day

February 9 – National Pizza Day

February 10 – Umbrella Day

February 11 – White T-Shirt Day

February 12 – National Lost Penny Day

February 13 – Get a Different Name Day

February 14 – Valentine’s Day

February 15 – Singles Awareness Day

February 16 – Do a Grouch a Favor Day

February 17 – Random Acts of Kindness Day

February 18 – National Drink Wine Day

February 19 – National Chocolate Mint Day

February 20 – Love Your Pet Day

February 21 – Card Reading Day

February 22 – Walking the Dog Day

February 23 – Tennis Day

February 24 – National Tortilla Chip Day

February 25 – Pistol Patent Day

February 26 – Carnival Day

February 27 – Polar Bear Day

February 28 – Floral Design Day

See all of February’s Holidays at Holiday Insights.


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3 Things I Learned Promoting Other Authors’ Books

Happy 2019!  January is almost over.  While I have not been writing blog posts, I have been writing, researching, and promoting other authors’ work.

Here are three things that I have learned while promoting other authors’ work/books.


If you agree to promote/market someone’s book, never, under any circumstance agree to accept a percentage of sales as payment!  Just don’t do it!

I recently saw on a social media post where an author was asking for proposals – what percentage of sales would you accept to promote their books. One hundred percent of zero is still zero! You could easily spend 40-100 or more hours per month promoting a book for someone and there may be no sales. Again one hundred percent of zero is still zero.  If you do this, you can see that you will spend lots of energy and get nothing in return.  Again, don’t do it!


Publicist charge for their work and give no guarantee that the book will sell.

Decide in advance what you are willing to do to promote the book.  Are you willing to write press releases?  Will you distribute the press releases?  Where will you distribute them?  Give the author this information upfront in a contract with a disclaimer that you make no guarantee their book will sell.  If this is the first time working with an individual ask for all the money up front, then provide that individual with a weekly report of the work you did- how many news releases did you write (they get a copy of these as they may know of other places to distribute them themselves), how many places did you distribute them to- online press release sites, newspaper book editors, libraries, bookstores, promote on your own social media site, contacted podcast hosts looking for authors to interview, etc.  (Note – if you decide to market and promote someone’s book, do lots more research on what you should and should not do.)


Before you decide to promote a book, read the book.

Those promoting and marketing books make contacts and those contacts trust you when you recommend a book to them.  Before sure the book is worthy of promotion.  I used to market and promote books for a local small publishing company.  I assumed (you know what they say about assuming – it makes an “ass” out of “u” and “me’) the person I was working with was actually reading the books they were publishing. WRONG!  They were not.  I promoted a book to a company with all the spit and shine I could muster.  They agreed to look at the book and I made arrangements for the publishing company to send them a free copy of the book to review.  A few days later I was contacted and asked how could I market such rubbish.  I didn’t understand until I read the book.  It was total rubbish.  The book was ridiculed with bad grammar and punctuation and the story plot was all over the place.  If I had bothered to read the book, I would have seen this beginning with chapter one.  I took the publishing company’s word that this was an excellent book.  Because I had not read the book before agreeing to market it, I not only lost sales for the publishing company, my reputation took a hard hit.  (NOTE – you probably won’t have this issue with a traditional publishing company, but be wary of the vanity presses).


(NOTE – well-known authors will probably not contact you to promote/market their books.  They usually have a traditional publishing company to do that for them.)



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Review of The President Is Missing

The President is Missing

By: Bill Clinton and James Patterson

Publisher: Little Brown and Company and Knopf

Publication Date: June 4, 2018


One of my summer reads was Bill Clinton’s and James Patterson’s book, The President is Missing.   I give this book 5 stars as it is definitely a page-turner.

President Duncan, recently widowed and with health issues, is the main character.  His daughter asks him about “Dark Ages,” a code word about cyber terrorism known only to his cabinet of eight.  With this new found knowledge, the President realizes he has a traitor within his cabinet, but who?  At the same time the Speaker of the House, Lester Rhodes, wants to impeach him for, supposedly, letting Suliman Cindoruk the leader of the Sons of Jihad and a cyber terrorist escape.

Nina, a cyber hacker contacts the president, but she doesn’t know who she can trusts.  So, she gives the president instructions to follow.  President Duncan follows Nina’s instructions and meets her partner, Augie who knows only how to locate the virus but does not have the password to delete or stop it.  When the President and Augie are close to meeting up with Nina, she is killed by an assassin named Bach.  But, who hired, Bach?  During the shootout, Augie is hustled into the vehicle with the president by the Secret Service.  Close to the White House, the President’s motorcade is attacked and the president decides to go into hiding at a cabin deep in the woods.  Here the president is surrounded by only a few trusted secret service agents and a team of cyber experts from the United States, Germany, and Russia, who are trying to find the virus that has been planted into the United States infrastructure software. If the virus isn’t stopped, the country could be thrown into total chaos.

Who is behind the cyber attack?  Suliman Cindoruk or someone else?  Who is the traitor in the White House and why?  Who is the assassin, Bach?  Who does Bach want to assassinate?  Who hired Bach?

I wanted to know the answers to these questions and other readers will want to know too.

In this day and age, there is a possibility of a cyber attack occurring somewhere in the world.  It gives me some comfort knowing that there are people who are working every day to prevent a cyber attack.




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