Laughter Lifts the Heart
Several years into it, and this blog still refuses to be categorized. It's eclectic and includes everything from writing posts to snippets from my ordinary life.
Welcome to this crazy place. You're bound to find something you like.
"Now, may the Lord of peace give you peace always, in every way."
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Give the Lady a Ride
The Final Ride
Ride to the Altar
Circle Bar Ranch Coloring Book
Coming Home: a Tiny House Collection
Skydiving to Love: a Novella
The Cat Lady’s Secret
Writing in Obedience
The newly published A Southern Season is the third novella collection I’ve participated in, the first that was traditionally published, and I can tell you—I love writing novellas and being in collections.
As I’ve mentioned before, I use these novellas to play in genres I don’t usually get to write in—in other words, I play outside my brand. Is that smart? Well, let’s consider that, among several other things about participating in collections.
The Pros and Cons of Participating in Collections
As with anything else in this business, there are good points and bad…
- Increased visibility and opportunity to expand your audience:
Most collections have an “anchor” author, a more established writer who is likely to bring in readers. People buy the collection based on that person’s name alone and will often (but not always, sad to say) read and appreciate any new-to-them names in the collection.
- The opportunity to establish yourself in your genre:
This goes hand in hand with the first point. Those who read and love your story in the collection will look for other things you’ve written. You’ll gain fans—and fans talk. Word-of- mouth is the best advertising there is.
- The opportunity to play in another genre (my reason for doing collections):
Long story short of my history as an author is that my first release branded me—not just as a romance writer, but a cowboy romance writer, leaving me genre-locked. Not entirely a bad thing, but I read all genres and would like to play in several of them.
If you’re a fairly new published author with a fear of being genre-locked, collections are the perfect place to get outside your brand and stretch your wings a little. Best result is that you could find a genre you enjoy and understand how to transition from what you currently do to what you want to do or learn how to market yourself in both genres. Or, like me, you can discover another genre that fits well enough with what you write that any kind of major crossover event won’t lose you readers.
- Source of income:
Okay, not a huge source of income, but still a source of income.
- Publishing cred:
This can be a big deal if you’re unpublished or not published in fiction or not published in the collection’s genre.
- The collection will be reviewed and rated as a whole:
The weak link can bring down the entire collection, so unless your novella gets singled out with positive reviews, you’ll suffer the fate assigned to the collection as a whole. Best thing is not to be the weak link yourself.
- Playing too far outside your brand won’t bring readers to your other novels:
Herein lies the rub for my novella in A Southern Season—it is so different from anything else I’ve ever written that those who love this more serious side of me may not care for my lighter romances. If you’re working on building a readership, try not to stray too far.
- Source of income is divided:
If it’s indie-pubbed, the royalties are divided among the authors. If you’re with a traditional publisher, a percentage of gross sales goes to the publisher, the editor, the marketing staff, and whoever else was involved in producing the book.
So it’s important to know why you want to be in a collection. If you want to become a rich, overnight sensation, you may want to look elsewhere. If you’re looking for visibility, creds, and just a chance to play, you’re in the right place.
What to Consider When Participating in a Collection
After you’ve decided whether joining a collection is for you, how do you know whether the one you’re asked to join (or starting) is the right one? Here are a few things to consider…
- Can you write “short”?
Generally, a novella is between 20,000 and 50,000 words, and must contain everything you’d find in a full-length novel. Characterization and setting description matter just as much. So do the plot and character arcs. The end of the story must be fulfilling. If you have trouble paring down your word count, this may not be for you.
- What are the genre and theme?
At least one of the reviewers judged Ice Melts in Spring, my novella for A Southern Season, as a Romance, which it’s not. In fact, only one of the novellas in the collection can be considered straight romance. A Southern Season is pitched as stories from the American South, which can be anything. Readers looking at the list of authors and assuming the genre could be disappointed.
So if you’re not clear on the genre, or if the collection offers a variety of genres—like Coming Home, a Tiny House Collection—be sure your fellow authors have an idea in mind how to present it. The common thread in the multi-genre Coming Home is the tiny house. The only thing that connects the different stories is roughly four-hundred square feet of “home.”
The benefit of Coming Home was being able to write what we wanted, as long as we included a tiny house, which is a similar benefit to writing for A Southern Season. All we needed to do was have the setting in the South. But how do you pitch a multi-genre book—and to whom? Fortunately there are ways, but it’s best to get an idea of how early in the process.
The collection I’m reading now, The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides, is strictly defined. The lighthouse is the common thread—and not just any lighthouse. Lighthouses of the Great Lakes region of America. The genre is Romance, but not just any Romance. Historical Romance. Check out the front cover blurb: “7 Historical Romances Are a Beacon of Hope to Weary Hearts.”
Despite the restrictions on what you write, the benefit of Lighthouse Brides is that it’s easier to market. The audience is defined, so you know who you’re writing to—women who enjoy Historical Romance. The only leeway allowed in this novella collection is the year in which your Historical Romance takes place.
If the genre is defined for you, be sure you can write in it. In a collection, a novice can be seen a mile away because those who most frequently write in that genre will be sitting side by side with someone who doesn’t. Comparison between the experienced and the novice is too easy. Don’t come across as the novice, whether you are or not. Learn the genre’s elements and structure before you start.
- What is the tone?
In A Southern Season, we have three serious novellas and one that has a lighter tone. So far, in what I’ve read in Lighthouse Brides, all of the novellas have the same fairly serious tone. The now unpublished The Bucket List Dare, for which I wrote Skydiving to Love, was a blend of tones, as was Coming Home.
This makes me wonder how the reader feels, after enjoying a lighthearted comedy romance, to have to transition to something heart-wrenching.
What tone are you comfortable writing in? If the entire collection is comedy, can you keep up?
- Who are the authors and how many, and who is the anchor?
You want at least one big-name author to up your visibility. And if the other authors are at least “out there,” you increase your chances of visibility and sales. Marketing is easier too. Each team member has their own followers to pitch to. Keep in mind, though, that the more authors on the byline, the smaller the percentage of royalties divvied out among them.
Additional considerations for indie-collections:
Once the team is assembled, everyone needs to be clear and in agreement about tasks and pre- and post-pub expenses.
You’ll want to discuss–
- who will edit?
- who will format?
- who will design the cover?
- where will the book be distributed?
- what is the marketing plan? (and will you be willing to pay as a group for ads and services?)
- who keeps the bank account?
- how and when will royalties be disbursed?
Considering how many of these I’ve done—and I’m in a new one that’ll release in August of 2019 called The Cowboys (a Historical Romance collection)—you can tell I’m a fan. But I believe I’ve given you enough to think about while you determine whether writing for a collection is right for you.
I love this collection. Well, I’ve loved all the collections I’ve been in, but this is definitely my favorite. It releases from Firefly Southern Fiction (an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas) tomorrow, but it’s still available for pre-order. As our editor Jennifer Uhlarik said, all these stories are golden. Mine is different, more serious, from anything I’ve ever written, which is one of the reasons I like doing collections–I can get away from my brand for a bit, if I choose, and explore other genres. Whether that’s smart or lands in the “do as I say, not as I do” line of instruction, I don’t know. We’ll see.
A Southern Season is being pitched as stories from a front porch swing or stories your grandmama would tell, but I spent many a summer in the South, and none of them match the tales the old folks I knew and loved would tell. I heard stories of Daddy getting in trouble for hitchin’ up the mule to the cart on a Sunday, when, in his Primitive Baptist family, he wasn’t supposed to be doing much of nothing on the Lord’s Sabbath. I remember being told of card games on the sly (again, because their small church didn’t allow for card playing, which could lead to gambling), and how great uncle whatever-his-name-was died at the sawmill (gruesome story) or how the other great uncle whoever got in a gun fight with his ex-fiancée’s new beau. Cousins would spin yarns about the old cemetery and trick me about which fruit was ripe–that was where I learned the pucker-power of green persimmons. And, if I was overly talkative on a quiet night, I’d be told to listen close, and I’d hear the corn grow (never did, though I tried and tried!).
No, the stories in A Southern Season aren’t reminiscent at all to the ones I was told as a young’un, but they are distinctly Southern in flavor and totally worth the read. My part of Texas would fit in the collection just fine with its red-clay roads, gentle hills, and lush forests, but my novella is actually set in a small beach town. Still fits, though. Five states have the Gulf of Mexico as their southern (or, in the case of Florida, western) border, including mine.
We’re already getting reviews on Goodreads from readers who got advanced copies–mostly 4- and 5-star ratings. I’m excited!
The collection officially releases tomorrow (11/1), and the price will go up! Pre-order your copy today, while the price is still low.
I was one of the ones who got to read Naomi’s newest release, Mist O’ver the Voyageur, and let me tell you–I was totally engrossed. Naomi knows how to tell a tale! But she also knows how to explain what goes on behind the scenes when getting a book ready for publication~~~
When the editor asks for rewrites
HOW HARD CAN IT BE?
It must have been thirty years ago when I first heard the century old quote by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, “Murder your darlings.” Nowadays we settle for killing them softly. We self-edit and rewrite until our works shine, and then we send them off prayerfully for publication. Ultimately, if the manuscript is accepted, we get our copy back from the editor with changes to make. How shocked we are when our editor has slashed our lovely lines or marked up an entire section of the book with the flippant request (or so our wounded hearts think) to “Rewrite (or cut) this section.” Sometimes it’s not a big deal. We see how their suggestion will make the book tighter, stronger. Other times, we wag our heads and whine to the cat, “What? What? Whyyyy?”
Changes are often negotiable, but frequently they are not. Occasionally they must be made in order to fit the publisher’s line as was the case with my new novel, Mist O’er the Voyageur. When the acquiring editor expressed her interest in my novel and willingness to present it to the publishing board, she said, “I’d really like to see the story end here,” meaning about a third of the way in from the original lengthy ending.
I swallowed hard. “You would?”
“Yes, because…” She went on to explain her reasoning.
I couldn’t argue. I could only consider. Was this something I was willing to do for the book to be published? Or, should I take my chances with a different publisher or different line? Thankfully, she gave me time to consider and pray. Pray I did, and even though I was still skeptical about the monstrous rewrites I was facing—because it wasn’t as simple as cutting the ending. It would take a total re-crafting along with other internal changes—I felt God prodding me to say yes, and I burrowed into the challenge of those rewrites. (He always seems to be that Dad who pushes me out of my comfort zone.)
I was glad I said yes, but it wasn’t over once I cut nearly 20,000 words and changed the ending. Then came the regular rounds of internal edits. I’ve worked with a number of editors over the years. Some were easy on me, some a tad more difficult, but all had the best intentions for my work. After all, their names would be attached to the end product too. And it was hard. It’s almost always been hard.
So why am I telling you this?
Perhaps because you might be that author who hasn’t published yet, but you live in that hope. You dream of it. Maybe for you I’m saying this so you don’t face any illusions over the arc of the task involved. Once you sign the contract, the real work begins.
Maybe you’re a reader only and happy with that. Forget the writing. It’s not for you. Maybe, though, you’ll appreciate your favorite books and authors even more, now that you know how they’ve sweated pure bloody angst to bring you their best. If you find a typo or some small error, perhaps you’ll cut them a tiny bit of slack, knowing that it was probably a minor oversight in much larger editing picture. Maybe you’ll even toss a prayer out for them.
If you’re an experienced author, maybe you’ll be encouraged to know you’re not alone in a boat occasionally floating on a sea of frustration or needing to paddle forward with determination. Maybe you’ll be pleased that God assigned you this challenge to grow you in your faith and craft.
And for the editor reading, maybe you’ll be reminded of ways to steer your author with precision—and occasionally delicacy—because we’re all in this hard effort together, to bring out the best a story can be. An honest author will thank you for it.
And now I’m back to self-edits. I have a book to turn in soon.
THIS IS THE LAST CHANCE to enter my Rafflecopter drawing for my Grand Prize Package Giveaway in two more days.
About the book:
After her aunt’s death, Métis woman Brigitte Marchal finds herself alone in Montreal. Uninterested in the convent and desperate to flee a loathsome suitor, she disguises herself as a young man to travel west by voyageurs’ brigade in search of her long-absent, fur-trader father. But her inexperience and disguise don’t hide her for long.
René Dufour yields to the unwelcome position of shielding Brigitte, but he cannot hide her identity forever. Keeping her safe while meeting his North West Company obligations and honoring his family promises may prove to be more disquieting to his heart than he imagined.
As Brigitte adjusts to the voyageur life on Lake Superior, she struggles to justify the faith she grew up in with the mysticism around her, but greater still is the conflict her heart must settle over who to trust in this rugged, unfamiliar country.
Naomi is an award-winning author who crafts her stories from the pristine north woods of Wisconsin, where she and her husband Jeff live as epically as God allows near the families of their five adult children. She enjoys roaming around on the farm, snacking out of the garden, relaxing in her vintage camper, and loving on her passel of grandchildren. Naomi is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Wisconsin Writers’ Association, and the Lake Superior Writers. Though she has written in a variety of venues, her great love is historical fiction. Her new novel, Mist O’er the Voyageur, just released from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas’ Smitten imprint.
Naomi would love to connect with you around the web.
Visit her at
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Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/naomimusch
Special guest and author June Chapko is announcing her debut novel, The Estate Sale, which will soon be up for preorder. Y’all be sure to watch for it! Meanwhile, here’s her story behind the story . . .
Writing The Estate Sale was an experience I’ll never forget. Not only was it my first work of fiction, but the further into it I went, the more I connected with my characters. Writing it changed me in several ways…for the better.
The first surprising thing I noticed, I was becoming more interested in the story of the characters lives more than the sale of things. I started visualizing each one with a sign on their forehead saying, “help me know myself.” I believe everyone has a story, but often we aren’t sure what our story (or purpose) is. It caused me to look at people around me with that same sign and has helped me become a better person.
Another way writing this story changed me is I am learning to let go of things more easily. Maybe I should say I have slacked off on buying things…except books and teacups. Seriously though, I’m more aware of the importance of investing in people’s lives by listening to their deeper need. It only happens by spending time with them. I’ve thought more about legacies and I’d like mine to reflect God’s love flowing through me to people…not about what things I have.
The most significant effect writing The Estate Sale had on me? Realizing how God changes people, even those who may be referred to as irredeemable. As I wrote the story, several characters went through significant drama. We all experience trials in life, but God uses those times to transform us. No one is irredeemable. Now when I face difficulty I’ll ask God how He wants to use this rather than question why it’s happening to me.
I’m already into Book Two of my Legacy Series (due out in spring 2019), and two characters have my attention. I think God had a purpose when He planted this series in my heart. In The Estate Sale, when I read different scenes to my critique group, A lump formed in my throat, tears came, and I had difficulty reading. I knew then God was doing something in me. I’m glad. My prayer is for it to affect readers in such a way they will be changed too.
June’s curiosity with estate sales prompted her to create this estate sale of the century, a fictitious sale which changed her during the writing. An avid journal keeper and lover of estate sales, June enjoys helping others discover treasures in both. Journals speak about the past and how a life was lived while estate sales attempt to pass on the legacy of those who went before us through the things they accumulated.
Though June has written several Bible studies, many devotionals, and has been published in Mature Living, Quilt World and other publications, The Estate Sale is her first novel.
She lives with her husband in San Antonio, Texas, and is a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and Christian Writers of Southeast San Antonio.
October 2018 New Releases
More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.
A Christmas to Remember by Julie Arduini, Valerie Comer, Janet W. Ferguson, Kimberly Rose Johnson, Deb Kastner, Elizabeth Maddrey, Lindi Peterson, and Ginger Solomon — Eight authors from the popular blog Inspy Romance each share a Christmas-themed novella to put you in the mood for the season. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
Their Family Legacy by Lorraine Beatty — Annie’s inheritance will provide a home for her twins and all she had to do is keep a man paying for his mistake forever. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
The Return by Marianne Evans — A prodigal who never wanted to return home must repair his family farm and rush back to the big city before an old love convinces him to stay. (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])
A Harvest of Blessings by June Foster — When Nadia accidentally sits on a stranger’s lap in the graveyard where her late husband is buried, she’s horrified to learn the good-looking guy with salt and pepper hair is her new boss. Jared is intrigued by this beautiful woman who puts God first in her life, but his daughter isn’t ready for him to move on after his wife’s death. As Nadia and Jared try to cultivate a relationship, will they reap a Harvest of Blessings, or a season of drought? (Contemporary Romance from Forget Me Not Romance [Winged Publication])
A Sparkle of Silver by Liz Johnson — Ninety years ago, Millie Sullivan’s great-grandmother was a guest at banker Howard Dawkins’ palatial estate on the shore of St. Simons Island, Georgia. Now, Millie plays a 1920s-era guest during tours of the same manor. But when her grandmother suggests that there is a lost diary containing the location of a hidden treasure on the estate, along with the true identity of Millie’s great-grandfather, Millie sets out to find the truth of her heritage–and the fortune that might be hers. When security guard Ben Thornton discovers her snooping in the estate’s private library, he threatens to have her fired. But her story seems almost too ludicrous to be fiction, and her offer to split the treasure is too tempting to pass up . . . (Contemporary Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)
Reason to Breathe by Deborah Raney — At twenty-nine, Phylicia Chandler put her life on hold to care for her dying mother with her sisters, Joanna and Britt. Now Mom is gone and their father has run off with a woman young enough to be their sister. Phylicia feels stuck–until her father’s protégé, Quinn Mitchell, presents her and her two sisters with an intriguing business opportunity to purchase a trio of cottages just outside of Langhorne, Missouri. But Phylicia is skeptical. Quinn soon finds himself falling hard for Phylicia. But how can he pursue this beautiful, talented woman twelve years his junior when she’s still reeling over her father’s hasty engagement to a younger woman? Quinn is determined to give Phylicia her happily-ever-after. But first, he must help her come to terms with her discovery of long-held family secrets and persuade her that true love can transcend their differences. (Contemporary Romance from Gilead Publishing)
An Amish Homecoming by Amy Clipston, Kathleen Fuller , Shelley Shepard Gray, and Beth Wiseman — A collection of four new Amish stories of coming home. (General from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)
Miles from Where We Started by Cynthia Ruchti — These no-longer-newlyweds want out of this road trip–and their marriage. Too bad they can’t find the off-ramp. (General Contemporary from Gilead Publishing)
When the Heart Sings by Liz Tolsma — In 1943 Poland, the Nazis have forced Natia and Teodor from their peaceful farm to the harsh confines of a labor camp. When the couple is separated, Natia risks everything to send him messages through song as she passes Teodor’s dormitory. The stakes get higher when Natia finds a Jewish orphan on the doorstep where she works. She is determined to protect the boy and raise him as the child she and her husband were unable to bear—but if her German captors discover how much she’s hiding, both she and Teodor may pay the ultimate price. (Historical from Gilead Publishing)
This Courageous Journey by Misty M. Beller — When Noelle Grant sets off to visit her brother in the Canadian Rockies, the prospect of making a name for herself as a news correspondent finally seems within reach. But when the dangers become more than she bargained for, she finds herself—and the mountain man she’s come to love—in a situation more hazardous than any story her imagination could conjure. (Historical Romance, Independently Published [ACFW QIP])
The Reluctant Warrior by Mary Connealy — Union army officer Cameron Scott is used to being obeyed, but nothing about this journey to Lake Tahoe has gone as expected. He’s come to Lake Tahoe to fetch his daughter and nephew, and seek revenge on the people who killed his brother. Instead he finds himself trapped by a blizzard with two children who are terrified of him and stubborn but beautiful Gwen Harkness, who he worries may be trying to keep the children. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)
Enchanting Nicholette by Dawn Crandall — As she acclimates to life in Back Bay again, Nicholette Everstone meets someone she can’t help but fall for. But when she learns of the danger and sacrifices Cal Hawthorne takes on for the safety of others, will her heart be strong enough to keep her fears of “what if” at bay? (Historical Romance from Whitaker House)
The Christmas Heirloom by Kristi Ann Hunter, Sarah Loudin Thomas, Becky Wade, and Karen Witemeyer — A family heirloom brings true love to its bearers through the generations as it is handed down from mother to daughter. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)
A Heart for Freedom by Janet Grunst — Life was better than she dreamed, now the conflict between the British and the colonists threatened the loss of everything dear, even her husband. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)
Romancing the Bride by Melissa Jagears — Marrying a stranger to save a ranch is one thing; losing the land on their wedding day is another. Desperate to keep the ranch where three of her children and a husband lie buried, Annie Gephart must marry or sell. Which of the few bachelors in town would consider a surprise proposal to wed a plain widow with a rebellious daughter, a spirited boy, and unpaid taxes—without laughing in her face? (Historical Romance, Independently Published [ACFW QIP])
The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear — Thomas Bledsoe and Kate Gruener are traveling the Wilderness Road when conflicts between natives and settlers reach a peak that will require each of them to tap into a well of courage. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
Mist O’er the Voyageur by Naomi Musch — Desperate to flee a cruel suitor, Metis woman Brigitte Marchal flees into the wilderness to find her long-lost, fur-trader father, but who will save her from the dangers of being a woman among a voyageurs’ brigade? (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)
Five Years In Yemen by Luana Ehrlich — When the President issues a memorandum to bring home a military scientist who went missing in Iraq, CIA operative Titus Ray has been given the assignment. However, when the mission takes an unexpected turn after his contact is murdered in Riyadh, Titus is forced to make changes in the mission’s protocols, changes that endanger his operational team and have lasting consequences for his future. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published [ACFW QIP])
Hidden Peril by Irene Hannon — A woman who owns a fair trade shop and a police detective find themselves plunged into international intrigue—and danger—when people connected with her shop begin dying. (Romantic Suspense from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)
Burden of Proof by DiAnn Mills — A hostage negotiator is thrust into danger and betrayal when a frazzled young woman shoves a crying baby into her arms, then disappears. (Romantic Suspense from Tyndale House)
Surrounded by Darkness by Rachel Dylan — When attorney Olivia Murray opens a legal clinic for victims of domestic violence in Windy Ridge, she knows she will face legal and spiritual opposition. The New Age presence has grown stronger as alliances form between groups hoping to spread their destructive way of life and gain a stronghold in the community. While the forces of evil target Olivia’s new clinic, her legal partner Grant Baxter, and her relationships, she refuses to let them stop her quest for justice. Will Olivia’s and Grant’s faith be strong enough—in God and each other—to prevail in the battle that threatens to bring darkness to the entire town? (Supernatural Thriller, Independently Published [ACFW QIP])
A Dance of Shadows by Erica Marie Hogan — Ten days have passed since Sundragon blood was shed for a sacrifice by Raphaela Kael. Ten days since Lathan and Maxx Jandry fled the city in search of Princess Damari Kael and their niece, Noelle. Brecken Jandry, Brae’s loyal husband, remains a tortured prisoner in the Kael dungeons and no one in Sunkai is safe from Roderick and Raphaela’s wrath. Damari Kael flees Sunkai with little Noelle Jandry, determined to deliver the child to the safety of the Shadow Lands, even as her own power emerges within her. The Eventide Sisters embark on a mission to join the Winter Queen. Across the land, Clea Jandry arrives in her birthplace of Molderëin where she is met with a savagery she thought long dead. Afra Malaki seeks the Creator’s will and the Queen of the Woodlands prepares for battle. In the peaceful city of Quintaria, the Winter Queen grieves. But the shadows are coming for her. They carry a message for Adlae Sundragon, and they will not rest until all is revealed. (Fantasy from Elk Lake Publishing, Inc.)
Body By Blood by Dr. Patrick Johnston — In the not-too-distant future, where cloned bodies are marketable commodities among the super-rich, leaving graveyards of trampled dehumanized classes in science’s wake, the richest man in the world who pioneered the breakthrough technologies learns the meaning of true love from a disabled granddaughter. (Speculative Action Adventure from Ambassador International)
Mercury Rising by Tim and Gail Sattler — Four ordinary people are thrown into an extraordinary situation when they are thrown into a diabolical plot hidden under the guise of global warming. (Contemporary Fantasy from Mantle Rock Publishing)