Friday, December 11, 2015

Weekly Roundup: December 11, 2015

Welcome again to the Oak Tree Press Weekly Roundup! For some, the smell of pine, twinkling lights, and a festive tree are what make the holidays special. Others may enjoy these but also prefer to immerse themselves in holiday music and a good story that includes the themes or setting of the season.

Oak Tree Press has several titles that may suit your holiday mood. Try A Rainbow for Christmas and Daddy's Christmas Angel by Mary Montague Sikes; The Year Without Christmas by John Wills; and Chanukah Guilt by Ilene Schneider.    

You'll find these and dozens more great books in our bookstore to buy for yourself or for the reader on your gift-giving list! Books make great gifts because they can be chosen with care according to a friend or family member's preferences or given with an enthusiastic recommendation. People seldom forget the thoughtfulness of the person who introduced them to the amazing world of a beloved book.

Thank you for stopping by our blog for the roundup this week. Here as always, for your reading pleasure, we have the week's news, book signings, events, reviews, blogs, and more from our authors to share with you. 


"Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand."

~George Orwell


A reminder from Jeana: All OTP books are on Manic Readers!

Need help choosing a great book to read?
Check out our sample chapters on

We have plenty to choose from. Just click on a title and you will be directed to a free read! These sample chapters will be updated frequently, and new releases will also be featured. 


Tom Coffey was a interviewed on C.E. Lawrence's blog on December 8. He answers questions about the idea for his most recently published novel, Bright Morning Star, which is a "historical novel with a mystery at its core" set during the time of the Philippine-American War.

Tom says, "I’ve wanted to write a novel with the Filipino war as its backdrop for many years. With our seemingly endless struggles in Iraq and Afghanistan, the topic seems particularly timely. (We keep fighting wars in Asia. We keep learning nothing.) A few years ago, I hit on the idea of framing the book as a love story."

He also talks about his writing process and his reasons for writing and gives an inside look at his upcoming novels.  

You can read the full interview here.

Bright Morning Star is set in a familiar but faraway country — the United States in the early 1900s. The novel’s protagonist, Emma Pierce, is the quintessential “new woman” of the times. Talented and sharp, she is the confidante and “right hand man” to her father, the head of the prestigious Seneca Institute. Here she writes speeches and letters for her father, and mingles with the great leaders and thinkers of the day, from Theodore Roosevelt to Mark Twain, and struggles to balance her father’s expectations with her growing sense of independence.

This balance is tested when she meets Caleb Johnson, the charismatic son of a revivalist preacher, whose views on religion are anathema to her father’s free-thinking sensibilities.  The test proves to be too much, and Emma finds herself estranged from her father, separated from Caleb, and embarking on an ambitious new career as a magazine writer in New York. It is there that her skills come to serve her best.

Emma is assigned to cover the case of a soldier returning to America from the war in the Philippines. He has been court-martialed for violent crimes against civilians and faces a 20-year prison sentence. But the case is personal -- the convicted soldier is Caleb Johnson, who is refusing to talk about the events that resulted in his conviction, and Emma, as determined as ever, vows to discover what led this honorable man to commit atrocities.


 Mary Montague Sikes will be signing copies of her books at the College of William and Mary Barnes & Noble at 345 Duke of Gloucester Street in historic colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, on Friday, December 11, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Mary also reports the recent discovery that the University of Mary Washington has made her books available at its bookstore in a special section for Alumni Authors.

Included in the collection of her books for sale is her most recent novel, Evening of the Dragonfly. In the novel, threatening telephone calls and strange cars with dark-tinted windows plague artist/teacher Farrah Ferand. Recovering from the tragic loss of her mother, Farrah is trying to adapt to the life of a small-town art teacher when she encounters Dirk Lawrence, a mysterious stranger. Her attraction to him is immediate and electric until Farrah discovers Dirk is part of the Lawrence and Pendesky investment firm that led to her mother's downfall a few years earlier.

Farrah's not-too-perfect dating relationship with Tom Douglas, the town favorite football coach, worsens. An unexpected encounter leads to dates with Dirk and his help with the construction of a dream art studio in her rented house. But trouble looms with Tom who believes he and Farrah are engaged, and the entire town appears to be drawn in. Haunting dreams and lost memories overwhelm Farrah as she creates paintings for a one-person art show. Will shadows of the past ruin all hope for Farrah and Dirk?



C. Ed Traylor will be selling and signing copies of his novel The Crossing on Saturday, December 12, at The Sly Fox independent bookstore in Virden, Illinois, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. He'll do the same on Saturday, December 19, at the Girard Township Library in Girard, Illinois, from 11 a.m. to noon, and at Cherry Tree Treasures and Gifts in Carlinville, Illinois, from 1 to 3 p.m. 

The Crossing tells the story of Racheed Ul-Bashar, a Pakistani whose grandfather and sister are killed in an American drone strike in Pakistan. Driven by revenge, Racheed develops a minutely detailed plot, a synchronized strike on three American cities on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks. He contacts Juan Rodrequs, a violent, ruthless drug cartel leader in Juarez, Mexico, who agrees -- for a price -- to help by moving terrorists and supplies across the border.

All goes well until Diego Garcia, a trusted ally and confidant of the cartel leader, is stopped in Illinois for a speeding violation while transporting 400 kilograms of cocaine. Facing significant prison time, Garcia becomes an informant for the FBI Terrorism Task Force to save himself. But unbeknownst to him, the other terrorists, or the task force, Racheed and his partner decide to enter the U.S. at a different location, forcing the FBI Task Force to scramble. Will they be able to eliminate the threat to some of America’s largest cities and most cherished attractions?

The Crossing was a second-place winner in the Public Safety Writers Association's 2015 Writing Competition. 


Richard Paolinelli will be appearing on author David Clarke's online radio show "Different Strokes For Different Folks" on Sunday, December 13 at 8 p.m. Eastern/5 p.m. Pacific. On the show, the host promises to help listeners find common ground and take it to the next level. The show encourages listeners "to keep an open mind and prepare to open the door to new understandings." 

Richard will be talking about his recently published mystery thriller Reservations. In the novel, which is set in a land deeply seeded in beliefs and legends, someone is eliminating the leaders of the Navajo Nation disguised as the trickster Coyote. Whoever it is has the Navajo President squarely in his sights, and everyone else “seeing things.”

As the body count rises, the FBI sends in their best man, Special Agent Jack Del Rio, to put an end to the killings -- a white man who is not trusted nor wanted. A decorated hero for thwarting a terrorist attack in London, Del Rio finds himself in a completely different world among the three Reservations -- Navajo, Hopi and Zuni -- located in the Four Corners of the American Southwest.

When the past and the present collide, only one leader shall remain.


J.L. Greger will be signing copies of her latest novel I Saw You in Beirut at Treasure House, in Old Town Albuquerque on Sunday, December 13, from noon to 3 p.m.

She'll have ribbon and gift wrap the book for buyers of two or more books.

In I Saw You in Beirut, a mysterious source of leaks on the Iranian nuclear industry identified only as "F" sends an email from Tabriz. “Help. Contact Almquist.” Intelligence sources determine the message refers to Sara Almquist, a former professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and draw her into the plan to identify and rescue F from Iran.

Sara is forced to dredge up long-forgotten memories to ascertain the identity of F, taking her on a journey that shifts from her student days through her career as a globe-trotting epidemiologist. Soon she is caught in crossfire during a shoot-out in the Midwest, then put on a transport plan to the Middle East, followed by journeys in small boats and overland in Lebanon with danger as her companion. Which of her past decisions put her in jeopardy? Or is her current friendship with Sanders, an urbane state department official, the real reason she’s being attacked? .


Helen Osterman (seated and pictured with author and fellow member of the Midwest Author Club Lydia Ponczak) participated in the Shepard Fall Holiday Bazaar at Alan B. Shepard High School in Palos Heights, Illinois. 

The event took place on December 5.


Dac Crossley had a booth at the Oconee County Arts Foundation’s Holiday Market on December 4-6.

The event took place in Watkinsville, Georgia.


Mary Montague Sikes recently presented her writing and painting at the Bay School Community Arts Center's Holiday Open House in Mathews, Virginia, on November 27 and 28. 

Her display, “Paintings by Farrah,” is an art show for the heroine of her novel Evening of the Dragonfly. There is symbolism in each painting that goes with the story in the book.


Additional details about these events will appear in future Roundups.

Larry K. and Lorna Collins will be the featured speakers at The Memory Keeper: A Literary Luncheon on January 18, 2016 at 11 a.m. They'll be talking about and selling copies of their book, The Memory Keeper to an expected crowd of approximately 200 guests.

The event will take place at the Costa Mesa Country Club in Costa Mesa, California, and is sponsored by the Santa Ana/Tustin and and Huntington Valley West committees of the Philharmonic Society of Orange County.


Amy Bennet will launch a blog tour on Monday, January 18 for At the Cross Road, the next book in her Black Horse Campground mystery series. She is actively seeking bloggers who are interested in hosting her on their blogs. 

Amy says she can either "send a blog with a topic of my choosing or post on a specific topic, either writing related or personal, but preferably something specific instead of a general 'tell me about yourself' post." She's seeking blog appearances of all types for the tour, even those that are not writing related ("you never know what kind of a spin I can make on my books!" she writes).

Interested bloggers can contact Amy with their ideas via e-mail:


Ilene Schneider was a guest blogger on Debra H. Goldstein's blog on December 7.

In the post, she talks about the techniques and challenges of writing a cozy mystery series and how they apply to the two books (so far) in her series, Chanukah Guilt and the award-winning Unleavened Dead.

She writes, "Even with two (plus a bit) books written, I’ve realized there are difficulties with a series. In writing a series, you need to be able to provide enough background information for those who haven’t read the previous book(s), while not making it boring for those who have. Earlier events can be referred to, but only vaguely, so as not to give away the plot."

How do you do this? Read to find out here.


Lorna Collins blogged this week about writing anthologies: why she likes them and the features to keep in mind as they are being assembled.

She writes, "I love anthologies. . . . I like the length since the novellas or stories are shorter reads than full-length novels. I read before going to sleep, and it’s possible to get through one in an evening or two. . . .

"Assembling an anthology requires some attention to how the stories are arranged. When I was putting them together, I considered some features of the individual works."

Find out what there features are in the rest of her post here.


OTP has another Goodreads Giveaways coming up! We'll be giving away five copies of Nancy LiPetri's The Wooded Path to lucky readers in a random drawing. This giveaway begins on December 15 and ends on December 24, so you can't enter it until this coming Tuesday.

In The Wooded Path, Laine McClelland wonders whether she's normal. When the mysterious disappearance of a Bunco friend, Paula, shakes her Lake Norman neighborhood, her seemingly perfect world is suddenly filled with dark thoughts, dangerous temptations, and surprising confessions.

What is normal once you realize life’s short, anyway? Was her marriage ever enough? She finds herself risking it all . . . and afraid of what really happened to Paula. 

It's easy to participate in this giveaway by following this link. You'll need to create a Goodreads account or log in (you're already on Goodreads as an OTP author or avid reader, right?). Then just enter your address to complete your entry. Winners will be notified at the end of the contest.


That wraps up the Roundup for this week! We hope you enjoyed our news.

We look forward to your emails! If you have a news item you'd like to submit to the Weekly Roundup, please send the details to Nancy at

Photos and your personal commentary about events, expectations, and outcomes are encouraged!

Big or small, old or new, your news helps us keep our blog updated and showcases the great books and talented authors we're so proud to have published. Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome too. Please do drop us a line!

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Billie Johnson, Publisher


Amy Bennett said...

OTP authors never seem to slow down, even at this busy time of year! I hope to receive a few offers from other authors to host me! Looking forward to hearing from some of you!

Carolyn Niethammer said...

Lovely cover for The Wooded Path. Also, brilliant idea, J.L. Gregor, to offer to gift wrap books this time of year. Good luck to all OTP authors on great sales this season.

Mary Montague Sikes said...

Goodness, that's extremely comprehensive! Thank you, Nancy!

Richard Paolinelli said...

Looks like we are all keeping Nancy busy by keeping ourselves busy.

Dac said...

Another nice blog, Nancy.

And best wisher for the Season to all those frenetic OTP authors.

Nancy LiPetri said...

Thanks, Nancy J., for another great round-up, and for sharing about my Goodreads Giveaway. Love the Orwell quote, too. Wishing all Happy Holidays!

John M. Wills said...

OTP talent is over the top.

Doug Seaver said...

I love the longer book blurbs that begin the WRU.

Nancy Jacoby said...

Thanks for reading, everyone, and for the kind words and encouragement!

Nancy J.

JL Greger said...

This is a great blog. Perhaps readers of the blog don't realize almost all of our books are available on Kindle and most sell for $2.99. What a great deal.
Jl Greger with a new released thriller - I SAW YOU IN BEIRUT

Helen Macie Osterman said...

All the OTP authors seem to be busy promoting their books. Great! I have found that word of mouth works the best.

Ed Traylor said...

Thank you for the nice article about my book The Crossing. I hope everyone enjoys it.
Ed Traylor