Summer at Hideaway Key by Barbara Davis

Breaking my I-don’t-post-reviews-here rule once again. Obviously, it’s a silly rule, meant to be broken when the urge comes upon me–as it did this morning when I finished reading Summer at Hideaway Key.



Barbara Davis has done it again. She told me I’d love Lily-Mae. What she didn’t tell me was that I’d become so emotionally entangled with this wonderful character that I’d want to climb into the story and shake some sense into her, then turn around and pull Lily-Mae into my arms to soothe her. I wanted to promise that it would all work out. Surely, it would all work out.

Thank you, Barbara, that it did. Not perhaps as I would have preferred, but the deeds had been done already and couldn’t be undone. And isn’t that the gift of great storytelling? That the author can draw the reader so deeply into the narrative that she totally suspends disbelief? I was there. I was rooting and crying and laughing right beside Lily and Lily-Mae, beside Dean and Roland. (And I wanted to throttle Caroline, who became the perfect example of choices gone bad.)

Barbara dealt with some hard topics here—abuse, jealousy, lies, and betrayal. She made us think about the meaning of love, the gift of forgiveness, and the choices we make to follow love or to follow anger, to risk our heart or to run and hide from the possibility of pain.

Oh, and let’s not forget the setting. Barbara may have shown the horrors of a poor farm, but she also gave us Hideaway Key, the Gulf coast, and a gorgeous white beach. She tossed in pink drinks and pink flip flops, a tightly knit community, and the comfort of friends. I wanted to sift through Lily-Mae’s jar of shells, to sit on the deck and count blessings as I watched the sunset with my beloved, waiting every night for the green flash and rooting for happy endings all around.

Buy on Amazon

And make sure you collect all three of Barbara’s books. I can’t wait for number four.

Introducting Sailing out of Darkness in My Words


My publicist, River Laker of Silver Seas PR, shot these on board Sea Venture at Liberty Landing Marina, where we’d docked while I played grandmother to my daughter’s newborn a ferry ride away in NYC. Obviously, (sans doute!) I had no script. Nor the benefit of a make-up and hair artist (big sigh).  Still, they give voice to some of my thoughts on the story.

Sailing out of Darkness

Tomorrow is Launch Party Day on Facebook. And here is our party schedule of appearances. Please stop by and win one of these lovely books!

9:00-10:10 Barbara Davis
10:10-11:20 Lynne Hinkey
11:20-12:40 Jessica Topper
12:40-1:50 Robin Patchen
1:50-3:00 Jessica Dotta
3:00-4:10 Barbara Claypole White
4:10-5:20 Laura Wharton
5:20-6:30 Anne Barnhill
6:30 -8:00 yours truly

Click here to join the party!



Schedule of Giveaways: Becalmed Facebook Launch Party

July 1 on Facebook: Have Fun/Win Books

Lots of Books!
Which to choose?

The party starts at 8 AM on Monday. I know that seems early, but Barbara Claypole White will be chatting with us from her home town in England.

One fortunate commenter who shows up between 8 AM and 10 AM will receive a signed copy of Barbara’s delightful book, The Unfinished Garden, as well as an e-book version of Becalmed. Barbara will be there to chat with you, so please stop by. I love that this story tackles OCD with humor, compassion, and (woo-hoo!) romance.

From 10 AM to 11 AM, Robin Patchen will be around to chat about her charming novella, One Christmas Eve. The winner of Robin’s e-book will also receive a singed paperback copy of Becalmed.

From 11 AM to 12 Noon, Roseanna White will have the helm. Roseanna has written one of the best biblical/historical novels I’ve read, called Jewel of Persia. At noon, we will choose the winner of this signed book, who will also receive an e-book copy of Becalmed. Roseanna is busy writing for several publishers and editing books for WhiteFire Publishing.

From Noon until 2 PM, we’ll visit with C Hope Clark, author of Lowcountry Bribe and Tidewater Murder. Hope is the founder of and is a great encourager. Her most recent release, Tidewater Murder, takes place in Beaufort, SC, and involves a trawler. Ah-ha. So, the winner here will be able to read about both Beauforts–North and South! We’ll give away a signed copy of Tidewater Murder and an e-book of Becalmed.

From 2 PM to 4 PM, we have Lorrie Thomson chatting with us about her new book Equilibrium, which releases from Kensington in September. The winner at 4 PM will receive a signed copy of an ARC of this soon-coming book. It sounds like a great read. I’ll also include another e-book of Becalmed.

From 4 PM to 6 PM, Kathryn Craft will be our hostess. She’ll sign an ARC of her January release from Sourcebooks, The Art of Falling, and I’ll include another e-book of Becalmed. Best-selling author Elizabeth Benedict says The Art of Falling “strikes universal chords in all of us who yearn, who love, who fall and fail, and struggle to find our way back home.”

 Lorrie and Kathryn are new friends of mine from the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, so I’m sure they’d be happy to chat with you about the group and the genre, if you have any questions. Kathryn is also a developmental editor at

That brings us to the final two hours. Folk who comment between 6 PM and 8 PM will have their name tossed in the hat to win a signed copy of Becalmed.  I’ll be around most of the day, announcing winners every few hours, so come play!

To Recap: One hold-in-your-hands book and one e-book per giveaway

8 AM to 10 AMBarbara Claypole White, The Unfinished Garden

10 AM to 11 AM: Robin Patchen, One Christmas Eve

11 AM to Noon:  Roseanna White, Jewel of Persia

Noon to 2 PM:    C Hope Clark, Tidewater Murder

2 PM to 4 PM:    Lorrie Thomson, Equilibrium

4 PM to 6 PM:    Kathryn Craft, The Art of Falling

6 PM to 8 PM:    Normandie Fischer, Becalmed



A book I wish I had published

Swept: Love with a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche

I found the link for this story on the Women Cruisers Yahoo Group, of which I am a huge fan because we’re all women who are, who have been, or who want to be out cruising the seas. The book sounded fun, and I’m a sucker for sailing stories, so I downloaded the Kindle version.

Torre DeRoche had me grinning and laughing and disrupting Michael’s peace with a, “Listen to this,” repeated more times than he liked.

The woman can write. Her sense of the ridiculous bridges the generations. I caught myself thinking, Oh, glory, but I’ve been there, even when Torre’s stories involved coping with terra firma.

Yes, this is a memoir of her struggle with the sea and a boat, but it’s also a love story with a twist of suspense, a story of finding courage when your gut clenches and all you want to do is go home.  It’s real and heartwarming and an absolute hoot to read.

Let me give you a few examples of her word-crafting:

“Amazing Grace spins a few nesting dog circles and Ivan releases our mud-covered anchor into a water bath.” Can’t you see it, this 32′ Valiant turning to find the perfect spot before settling in for the night?

This one sounds like Michael and me–except for the hair color: “They both have salt-and-pepper hair and eyes etched in happiness lines, yet their personalities are frozen somewhere around thirty. The ocean has preserved them.”

“Tall pinnacles, green with palms, buffer every breath of wind, leaving the water as smooth as an ironed silk sheet.” I, the grammar nazi, can ignore a (very) few glitches when soothed by sentences that slide under my guard and drag me into Torre’s world: “I can brood like no one’s business. Instead of appreciating my first look at an atoll, I roll around in the mud of my disappointment. I refuse to enjoy the papaya-colored sunset or its reflection off the water. I ignore the warm breeze that kisses apologetically at my crossed arms. I will not let a sky full of stars and galaxies, of moonlight illuminating the water’s surface, dislodge my mood.”

Ivan tells Torre she’s beautiful.  “I don’t feel beautiful. My hair is frizzy, the bridge of my nose is pink, my eyebrows have been sun bleached to non-existence, and I’m lethargic from our diet of long-life foods. This lifestyle looks far better on Ivan–the messy hair, the stubble, the worn clothes, and his serene expression. Rugged fits him so perfectly that I can no longer imagine him in a business suit.”

And after boat-made pizza: “My body, specifically my small intestine, isn’t so happy with the pizza. It’s clogged with wheat-based products that have stopped for a week-long nap between my mouth and my colon. After months without fresh food in my diet, I don’t just need fruit and vegetables–I need Drano.”

On watch for underwater dangers: “I’m the coral-head watch girl. Nobody should entrust me with this job. With a wayward imagination like mine, it’s like employing a dementia sufferer as an air traffic controller.”

I could go on and on. And these gems aren’t necessarily the best: they’re merely the ones I could find this morning as I Kindle-surfed for snippets to share. This is a book I’ll read again. I am also going to order the paperback for my mother, who at 83 still loves our sailing adventures. I can hear her tinkling laughter now….

Chila Bradshaw Woychik Writes




A legacy lurks within me

bound within each cell—

the longing I have to matter

and passion to do it well,

to tread while leaving footprints

and live while loving hard,

to fight the wakeful sleeping

and benefit from scars.


I’ll fall off the edge of the boat

if I must, and sink beneath the waves

to risk the walk on water

embracing what life gives;

I risk it all for what’s ahead

and what I’ll leave behind;

I’ve nothing more than each new breath

and nothing less than time.

(from On Being A Rat, by Chila Woychik)

Her name is Chila Woychik. Yes, she is publisher/editor at Port Yonder Books. Yes, that puts some writers in an awkward position, but not this one: she doesn’t publish works like mine. So, freedom here: I have absolutely no self-serving reason at all to write well of her or her writing…except that I must. (See, Chila? One worry discarded. Poof!)

I chided Chila when she said, “I don’t call myself a poet.”  Of course, she’s a poet. She’s a sparkling word-weaver. There’s a power in her metaphors and language-juggling that reminds me of being lost in Frost as a young girl. (Think “Blueberries” and “The Road Not Taken.”) Some poems have the jaunty aspect of TS Elliot. (Oh, J. Alfred, my friend of old.) Some are merely free association: I ponder and smile.

In her new memoir-esque book, On Being a Rat, Chila flows from poem to prose to poem with word-smithing that may be too obscure for many. Sometimes she rails at life…and then pulls back with whimsy, which may then meander into darkness. She takes risks here: tread warily as you read. A person who exposes the rhythmic thumpings of her self to us, her readers, places herself at our mercy. (For this reason, I write fiction. I don’t want you examining the deepest me. In novels, I can pretend none of the dark things happened to me and none of the thoughts espoused are mine. Well, most didn’t and don’t, so I’m not lying. Merely entering another’s skin…such fun. Peopling new worlds…such fun. The created following the Creator’s bent.) Chila, instead, says, “Here I am. Love me or not.” How, when given that choice, can we turn away? How can we, careful reader, caring reader, do anything but say, “Thank you. I will hold your words close and whisper back.”

“Time respects no one,” Chila writes. “Young and old, it preys upon the world en masse; even the rocks groan. If you have a story to tell, do it; tomorrow may elude you.” She seems to be trying to stop time – or at least to leave an ash or two for memories.

Listen to this on friendship:

… I tell you truer truth after having spent the afternoon with a friend.

My tongue boils cold—

it licked a star—

sheds layers

while I add two more.


I storm around this Abell place

with snowshoes and a set of poles

and plant a flag of ownership—

squatter’s rights in space.


Now I freely give it,

piece by hard-earned piece.


Some friends deserve

a slice of star.

A slice of star. Do you hear it? Quickly – what picture comes to mind? Do you wish, as I do, for such a gift, handed in friendship?

She speaks of communing with Emily Dickinson: “…two porcelain spirits, confident, challenging, with a union as fragile as a poem gone wrong.

I love this, Chila’s porcelain spirit revealed here. If you have a poet’s heart or even merely an ear for fine lines, please read this book written by an imperfect woman striving – as we’re each called to do – toward the best.


If It Weren’t For Us Christians

Bobby  Weaver has written the book we’ve all imagined — because we’ve all seen it in action:  the church goer who decides she’s the gatekeeper; the pew sitter who glares if you accidentally slip into his spot before he’s had a chance to plop there; the name callers and finger pointers and other pious souls who must make the Lord cringe. And because we’ve seen these things, and because at some moment in time we might even have added our name to one list or another, we need to laugh with Bobby and then remind ourselves just how important a role we play in the lives of those watching.
I was once one of the watchers, and the case did not look good for Christ…until He Himself showed up and showed off. Until He forced me to look past other fragile humans who make up the church so that I could see Him instead.
If you have felt the hurt of rejection from those who ought to know better or have watched and wondered what kind of God could willingly call the Church His, then I suggest you read Bobby Weaver’s book. And then look past the folk who hurt you and talk to the One in charge.


The first time I read one of Jane Lebak’s stories, I wanted to cheer. Jane makes me laugh and sometimes shed a tear or two. But most of all, she challenges me to imagine: What if?
When I first read The Guardian, a novel published in 1994 under the name Jane Hamilton, I confronted questions such as: What would it mean if a guardian angel were to break trust with God, even if the severing action initiated from a pure motive? What might be the limits of forgiveness and of faith?
Annihilation from Double-Edged Publishing delved even more deeply into the question of trusting God, and Jane did it with humor and insight that truly touched me. Good stories provoke a suspension of disbelief. Like the works of C.S. Lewis, JRR Tolkien, and Ursula le Guin, Jane’s fantasies reel me in: I believe in the worlds she creates.
I just finished reading Jane’s newest, published as an e-book by MuseItUp Publishing, entitled The Boys Upstairs. This time Jane has written about folk I might know, in a place I might have visited, dealing with issues I might recognize. When the crippled priest said, “Praise God for land mines,” I remembered how often I’ve complained about circumstances instead of praising God for the land mines in my life. Not one of them made me a cripple, but each one changed me and my attitude.
This is a feel-good Christmas story that challenges and inspires. As usual, Jane’s writing sparkles. Wouldn’t you like to smile a little this year? 

Her blog is also great reading at

Seven Archangels Annihilation audio file


The Famous One

Nicole Petrino-Salter is a friend of mine. I’ve never met her, but I believe I know her heart. She’s also a writer.

Her gift as a storyteller shines in her self-published work, The Famous One. Joey Parr struggles to fill his God-shaped hole with everything except God. We’re each of us born with a place of need that only faith can fill, though many of us go after everything else in our search for love and peace and joy. Joey is no needier than most of us, but he’s destined for fame as he runs from himself via drugs and alcohol and women.

I always envied those born into faith, who grew up in faith, and whose faith seldom waivered. I remember a group of women who met at my house for prayer. Each was past menopause, and you know what? Not a single one of them had ever suffered from hot flashes. How did they manage that? I’d rip off my sweater or grab an ice pack and wonder if their bliss had anything to do with their lifetime of faith. Perhaps they had an innocence that I lacked. They had each entered marriage in innocence and remained married to the same man throughout their lifetime, an amazing concept, and one I wish I could have emulated.

And then there are the Joey’s of this world, and those such as I, who met the Lord later in life after many relationship errors. No, I didn’t do drugs — even legal ones — nor did I ever drink in excess, but that hole gaped darkly in me, as it did in Joey, until I finally met my Lord. I’m grateful to Nicole for writing a truthful book that traces one man’s search and discovery. 

I like what Robert Lipardo, a multi-published author, said of this book: “An engaging plot; characters that are real and intriguing; true craftsmanship — what more can you ask? Nicole Petrino-Salter’s writing is certain to touch many people.”

I agree. I hope you’ll order a copy. And if you want to be challenged as a writer and a truth-speaker, visit Nicole’s blog: Into the Fire


Rhapsody in Red

The cover caught my attention: red, with an overturned, spike-heeled shoe, and the title Rhapsody in Red captured below. It was obviously a mystery, as a matter of fact, “A Preston Barclay Mystery.”
I bought the book, asked Donn Taylor to autograph it at the ACFW Conference, and turned the last page this morning.
I’m an eclectic reader, but only of well crafted works that provoke a smile—or sometimes tears. If the author can surprise a chortle, I’m thrilled. Poorly written work – or poorly edited work – will often end up in my trash can.
I don’t enjoy sweet romance or historical fiction – unless it’s the sort Georgette Heyer used to write: huge tomes that would make many readers shudder at their sheer bulk. But a good story, written with humor, perhaps a comedy of manners? Yes, sir.
Donn Taylor writes with wit and sophistication. Imagine his hero: a widowered history professor who hears music in his head and who must join with a wiccan professor of comparative religion to find a murderer. An interesting premise, yes, but it’s the music that caught my attention. Preston hears Samuel Barber as the story opens, Chopin later. The music speeds and slows, warns and soothes. With a gun pointed his way, Pres says, “…my cerebral musicians played the feathery violin passages Mendelssohn composed to represent Shakespeare’s fairies. They provided no consolation.”
Though my musical education can’t compare to Donn’s, I know enough to imagine the sounds evoked. And then there’s the use of language. The professor pokes fun and corrects bad grammar with an elegant ease that made me smile. Moody published the book. I can’t wait to read its sequel.
Good for you, Donn.