Oct 09

Reading in Public – “Winter’s Tale” by Mark Helprin

I’ve mentioned before that Mark Helprin’s “Winter’s Tale” is my favorite novel of all time (and also the best novel I’ve ever read).  Every year, once the weather starts getting cold and the days shorter, I reread it, and it’s about that time.

This year, I want to share my love/obsession with the world (or at least the regular visitors of this blog).  I’m going to read two chapters a week, and post my thoughts and feelings about them.  And I’m encouraging any and all of my visitors to join me, both in reading the book, and in discussing it.

I’ll kick things off right here, talking about the very brief prologue.  Even before that, Helprin starts us off with a quote that sets the tone for all that’s to follow:

“I have been to another world, and come back.  Listen to me.”

That sentiment could apply to many of the characters in the story about to unfold, and it prepares us to jump across both worlds and eras (and different times ARE other worlds; as the famous quote has it, “the past is another country.”).

The prologue showcases Helprin’s gift of prose; it’s gorgeous from the very first word.  As he opens things:

A great city is nothing more than a portrait of itself, and yet when all is said and done, its arsenals of scenes and images are part of a deeply moving plan.

He goes on to talk about New York City specifically, where our story is set, and, really, the book is one long love letter to the greatest city in the world.  We’re told about the mass of white clouds that surround the city, about which we’ll learn much more as the novel progresses.  We  also get our first reference to the the city as one great machine, about which, again, much more later.

And then we are told:

…our swift unobserved descent will bring us to life that is blooming in the quiet of another time.

This is important, as we’ll see very shortly in chapter one.  The prologue ends with an invitation:

As we float down in utter silence, into a frame again unfreezing we are confronted by a tableau of winter colors.  These are very strong, and they call us in.

Colors, both wintry and otherwise, play a large role not only symbolically, but very literally in the story, as we’ll discover early on.

So the stage is set.  We’re about to embark on a journey that will span worlds and centuries.  I hope you’ll come along with me; our first steps will be onto the snow-covered streets of pre-World War I Manhattan, which is where chapter one begins…


Chapter Index

I’ll keep an updated list of links to the individual chapter discussions here, so it’ll all be easy to find…

Part 1, Chapter 1 (“A White Horse Escapes”)

Part 1, Chapter 2 (“The Ferry Burns in Morning Cold”)

Part 1, Chapter 3 (“Pearly Soames”)

Part 1, Chapter 4 (“Peter Lake Hangs From A Star”)

Part 1, Chapter 5 (“Beverly”)

Part 1, Chapter 6 (“A Goddess in the Bath”)

Part 1, Chapter 7 (“On the Marsh”)


Mar 18

Buy the Books!

Here’s the one-page resource for everything you need to know about me and my books…especially how to buy them!

Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 31

Today’s the Day!

So this is it, Launch Day!

DREAM VACATION, book #8 of the Dream Series, is officially out!  You can find it at:

Amazon (Kindle or paperback) – http://getBook.at/DreamVacation

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/487680

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dream-vacation-jj-dibenedetto/1120585547?ean=9781502792839

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/dream-vacation-dream-series-book-8

All Romance Ebooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-dreamvacationdreamseriesbook8-1656447-140.html



Oct 31

Book Launch – K.C. Sprayberry and “The Curse of Grungy Gulley”

That day is
upon us. The Curse of Grungy Gulley releases today, October 31, 2014 ~
Halloween! What does a demon do to stop a group of families slated to fight him
for eternity when they don’t pay attention to him? Keep trying, of course!
with the loss of his immortality, Bewitcher Random A. Ransom has to defeat Mary
Barron’s young assistants: Tuck Barrons, Earl Lee Farley, and Sue Anne Edwards.
Confidant he can beat three kids, Random has no idea that the Johnson triplets
have invaded the ranks of his brethren. These brothers have pledged their souls
to Archangel Michael to rid the world of evil. What the Bewitcher thought would
be easy isn’t so easy after all.
One demon,
three teens, spread over a period of 144 years. Can Random A. Ransom defeat Sue
Anne Edwards, Earl Lee Farley, and Tuck Barrons?
About the Author:
Born and
raised in Southern California’s Los Angeles basin, K.C. Sprayberry spent years
traveling the United States and Europe while in the Air Force before settling
in Northwest Georgia. A new empty nester with her husband of more than twenty
years, she spends her days figuring out new ways to torment her characters and
coming up with innovative tales from the South and beyond.
She’s a
multi-genre author who comes up with ideas from the strangest sources. Some of
her short stories have appeared in anthologies, others in magazines. Three of
her books (Softly Say Goodbye, Who Am I?, and Mama’s Advice) are Amazon best
sellers. Her other books are: Take Chances, Where U @, The Wrong One, Pony
Dreams, Evil Eyes, Inits, Canoples Investigations Tackles Space Pirates, The
Call Chronicles 1: The Griswold Gang, The Curse of Grungy Gulley, and
Starlight. Additionally, she has shorts available on Amazon: Grace, Secret From
the Flames, Family Curse … Times Two, Right Wrong Nothing In Between, and The
Ghost Catcher.


A Chance To Win An Autographed Print
Edition of The Curse of Grungy Gulley!
Pick up a copy
of Right Wrong Nothing In Between by clicking on the link and answer these
questions. Post your answers on K.C. Sprayberry’s Facebook fan page before
November 5, 2014 and you might get your own autographed print edition of The
Curse of Grungy Gulley!

What three
children does Random A. Ransom want?


What is the
name of the being who comes to Mary, to reassure her that she has made the
right choice?


Oct 30

Two Freebies for You!

I’ve got a pair of brand new audio free treats for you.  The mini box set DREAM SEQUENCE (containing the first three books of the series) is being put onto audiobook, so you’ll be able to purchase and listen to all three books in one convenient package.  There are also a couple of bonus chapters in that audiobook, which fit between DREAM STUDENT and DREAM DOCTOR; and then between DREAM DOCTOR and DREAM CHILD.  But you don’t need to wait until the audiobook is released!  You can hear both of those bonus chapters, narrated by the fantastic Heather Jane hogan, right now!


Just click on them below to listen and download…

First is “Girls on Film”, which takes place right after Sara’s final Spring Break of college…click below to listen to it

Girls on Film (click the link to download the mp3 file for yourself)


And second is “Doctor Moo”, which takes place right before Sara’s graduation from medical school.  Click below to listen…

Dr Moo (click the link to download the mp3 file).



Oct 30

Reading in Public – “Winter’s Tale” (part 1, chapter 7 – “On the Marsh”)

When we last left our story, Peter and Beverly had just met, and fallen instantly in love (or, as I think happened, discovered a love that they’d had all along).  We open this new chapter with a brief discussion of the now-frozen Hudson River, and we join Peter, who’s riding the white horse on that river to the Bayonne Marsh.

The horse has no fear of falling through the ice, and Peter uses the ever-present (and roaring) Cloud Wall to keep himself oriented until he reaches the Marsh, where he’s met by the Baymen (who pop up silently, armed with spears, to greet him.

The Bayman who originally found Peter, Humpstone John, has some words for Peter, about the horse.  He explains that the horse’s name is Athansor, and that Athansor is the subject of one of the traditional songs of the Baymen, ten songs that are taught, one per decade, to each Bayman.  The first song, taught at age thirteen:

has to do with the just shape of the world.  It is nature’s song, and is about water, air, fire and things like that..

The second song, John explains, is the song of women.  The third one, is the song of Athansor.  It’s no surprise that all the Baymen are amazed at the horse’s presence, although they refuse to tell Peter anything.  He’s left to ponder matters, and he’s not sure he believes in the sort of transcendent justice that the Baymen seem to be expecting:

He doubted that he would have a hint of any greater purpose, and did not ever expect to see the one instant of unambiguous justice that legend said would make the cloud wall gold.

He continues to lose himself in thought and memory, eventually coming back to Beverly.  He recalls what happened after their initial meeting (he can remember everything except the color of Beverly’s eyes), and he carries on a conversation with his image of Mootfowl:

How could he explain this to Mootfowl, who was always present, in the air, as if Peter Lake lived in a painting and Mootfowl were a figure in a painting within the painting.

I think this is probably a lot more literal than figurative; I think that in a very real sense, Mootfowl is present for Peter, and he’s a very generous judge:

Mootfowl seemed amused, which surprised Peter Lake, who had thought he was guilty of a great transgression.  But the laughter and color in the bright window at the periphery of his vision suggested that this was not so.

It’s definitely not so, and we’ll see that play out especially int he next chapter.  Perhaps a sign of that is the way he finally, and overwhelmingly, remembers the color of her eyes:

And then he was suddenly overwhelmed.  It was as if a thousand bolts of lightning had converged to lift him.  All he could see was blue, electric blue, wet shining warm blue, blue with no end, everywhere, blue that glowed and made him cry out blue, blue, her eyes were blue.

I note especially the “wet, shining blue’ because that’s almost precisely the way Helprin describes the color of Peter Lake’s father’s eyes.  I doubt very much if that’s a coincidence.

Now that we know Peter’s state of mind, we’re all set for him to meet Beverly’s family, when we move on to the next chapter…


Oct 30

Happy Howl-o-Ween!

tribal man

I’m thrilled to be participating in the Howloween blog hop, with a whole bunch of other AMAZING authors (just click here: www.hopswithheart.blogspot.com) to see all of them!

My books mostly don’t have a huge anount to do with Halloween (they tend to take place around Christmas, more often than not), but my newest book (out tomorrow, but you can preorder it right now on Amazon – http://getBook.at/DreamSequence) opens up on Halloween:

My mother had a perfectly good suggestion for matching costumes for Brian and me.  I should just have gone along with it.    About a month ago, we decided to host a Halloween party, and – stupid me – I mentioned that I thought it would be cute if Brian and I coordinated our costumes.  Mom, being Mom, had an idea right away.  We could go as characters from Dad’s favorite new TV show: “Navy Cops,” or whatever it’s actually called.

Mom was very excited.  She said that Brian could dress up as Mark Harmon and I could be the peppy, goth-looking forensic scientist.  I had to take her word for all that – I’ve never actually sat down and watched an entire episode.  But apparently it’s very popular.  Dad certainly loves it, and clearly it’s grown on Mom.  Or, maybe, it’s just Mark Harmon that’s grown on Mom, but I’m not saying that out loud.

Anyway, it seemed as good an idea as any, and Brian didn’t really have an opinion one way or the other.  I would have done it, but then I had second thoughts when we sat down to try and figure out where to go to actually get the costumes.  I started to feel weird about being a cop, even for just a few hours.  Unpleasant memories began to push their way to the front of my brain, and – well, that was that.

A couple of days later, I was at the hospital, chatting with a patient, and she had the TV on in her room.  She was watching an old rerun of “I Dream of Jeannie” and I had my brainstorm.  Brian could dress up as Major Nelson, and I could be Jeannie.

It sounded like fun, at the time.  And Brian was fine with it.  But, now, looking at myself in the bedroom mirror, I realize just how terrible an idea it was.

I look ridiculous with this awful blonde wig   And Barbara Eden might have been around my age when she played Jeannie, but our measurements don’t exactly match – I have too much belly and not nearly enough chest to properly wear this outfit!  And, to top it off, I don’t have the faintest idea how they managed to keep her navel covered.  Unless I tape these horrible harem pants to myself, I’m going to be showing my belly button to half the town – not to mention most of my coworkers and all my children’s friends.

I don’t know how long I’ve been standing in front of the mirror, growing steadily more depressed, when Brian enters the bedroom.  I don’t turn; I just watch his reflection.  He – oh, God! – in that uniform, all pressed and neat, fitting him so perfectly, I’m just speechless.  He’s so – so – I’d say sexy, but that doesn’t even begin to cover it.  The sight of him makes me completely forget how inadequate I feel in this outfit.

I’m thrilled with the book, and I think you will be, too – just CLICK HERE to check it out for yourself.  And be sure to click over to the main page of the Hop to visit all the other FANTASTIC authors who are participating!  And also, be sure to enter the rafflecopter giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

In addition, I’m also giving away a copy of the five book Kindle Box Set of the first five Dream Series books – all you have to do is comment on this post to enter for that giveaway!



Oct 30

Another Sale!

The first three books of the Dream Series are collected together in a Kindle Box Set called DREAM SEQUENCE.  And it’s on sale through this weekend for only $2.99!

Find it at:

Amazon – http://getbook.at/DreamSequence

Apple iBookstore – https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/dream-sequence-dream-series/id930688821?mt=11

Barnes & Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dream-sequence-jj-dibenedetto/1120604136?ean=2940046349740

Kobo – http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/dream-sequence-dream-series-books-1-3

All Romance Ebooks – https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-dreamsequence-1656442-344.html


Oct 27

Reading in Public – “Winter’s Tale” (part 1, chapter 6 – “A Goddess in the Bath”)

We’re about to get to the first meeting between Peter Lake and Beverly Penn.  So let’s dive right in…

We open with Beverly seeing off the rest of her family, who are headed to their country house at the Lake of the Coheeries.  They’re going on ahead to open the house and to prepare the special sleeping arrangements Beverly will need, so she’s got a couple of nights on her own.  She’s

convinced that something special was about to happen – that she would, perhaps, get well, or run a great and sudden fever that would finally kill her.

That something, of course, will be Peter Lake.  We turn back to him, as he prepares to carry out his plan: stealing enough money to be able to set himself up somewhere else, somewhere safer.  Before that, though, he visits a cathedral – the Maratime Cathedral, endowed by Isaac Penn, as it turns out.  He then turns his attention back to burglary, and finds himself across the street from the Penn house.  He and the white horse watch as the Penns depart, and after them, Jayga, the last remaining servant.  He plans to return to the house in the early hours of the morning, do the job, and get out.

He happens to miss the flash of light as the door to the roof opens, so he doesn’t know that there’s still someone in the house; he just goes on his way, to an oyster house, to have a big meal in preparation for the task to come.  Helprin lovingly describes the place (he lovingly describes nearly everything in this book!), and then Peter gets down to business: four dozen oysters and a quart of hard cider.  And, a conversation with a barrister who’s gorging himself similarly.  Their conversation is brief, but it’s one of my favorite passages in the book.  Peter opens by telling his companion:

“I like to relax myself before a burglary.”

The barrister agrees, and he’s got a theory why this is a good thing:

“Wildness of that kind clears my mind and makes of it a tabula rasa, so to speak, able indeed to accept the imprint of pytacorian energy.”

(what exactly is pytacorian energy?  No idea, and the internet isn’t much help.  This link is the best answer I could find)

Peter Lake isn’t sure what it means, either.  But he likes it all the same:

“You must be a good lawyer, talking like that.  Mootfowl said that a lawyer’s job was to hypnotize people with intricate words, and then walk off with their property.”

A lawyer is no different than a burglar, in Peter Lake’s mind.  Not that he’d consider that an insult!

After a bath and a rest, Peter’s ready to go to work.  At four o’clock in the morning, he makes his way back to the Penn house, and now we get a back-and-forth, with Peter’s and Beverly’s actions alternating from paragraph to paragraph.  This is a fantastic sequence, wonderfully handled.  Beverly descends through the house to the bath, while Peter seeks a way in.  He notes that:

all the nonacrobatic entry points were heavily barred.

I love “nonacrobatic.”  It’s such an appropriate word for a burglar.  And its also not an impediment.  The alarms on the bars of the windows, however, are a bit more challenging.  As are the further alarms installed on all the windows.  And the ridiculously thick roof that he finds himself unable to cut through:

Isaac Penn was afraid of meteorites, and because of that the attic of his house was, more or less, a solid block of wood.

Beverly dives into the bath (ten feet long, eight wide; more swimming pool than bath, really), and Peter discovers the door from her rooftop perch into the house. He’s not sure if it’s a trap but decides to risk it anyway.  He enters the house and makes his way to Isaac Penn’s study.  He ignores a Gutenberg Bible in a glass case, because, after all:

it could not have been very old, having come from Guttenberg, a town in New Jersey.

But he does focus on the safe in the wall, which, it turns out, isn’t a safe at all but a giant plug of steel set into the wall for the sole purpose of keeping burglars occupied.  It does so while Beverly emerges from the bath.  She had been feeling free of her fever, but now, after chancing a swim, she’s not sure if it’s returned.  She had hesitated before going into the bath, but plunged ahead anyway, following Isaac Penn’s advice:

He had told her always to have courage, and sometimes to step into the breach – though he need not have told her, for it seemed to have been her temperament from the very start.

This echoes Peter Lake’s personality, and also a character we’ll meet in part 2 of the book.  For now, she continues to forge ahead.  As she tells herself:

Fight the fever.  Fight it, and, if necessary, go down fighting.  The courage would not go unrewarded, would it?  That is to be seen, she thought.

I think we already know the answer to that question.

As Beverly makes her way to the kitchen, and thence to the piano, Peter continues his fight with the safe; each of them misses multiple opportunities to see the other as Beverly passes by the study.  Finally, Peter gives up, and Beverly starts to play.  The music immediately draws him, and he likens it to the lights of the great bridges.  He watches, silently, as Beverly wrestles with the piano, falling in love with her more deeply by the second:

He had unspeakable admiration for the way she had risen from obvious weakness to court with such passion the elusive and demanding notes that he had heard.  She had done what Mootfowl had always argued.  She had risen above herself, right before his eyes.She had risen, and then fallen back, weakened, vulnerable, alone.  He wanted to follow her in this.

He wants to approach her but cannot imagine how, and then opts to simply withdraw, but he is betrayed.  A loose floorboard squeaks under hi weight, announcing his presence (this is one of the very few scenes that the film version uses more-or-less intact from the book).

Beverly takes in the sight, seemingly takes in everything about Peter in just a few moments.  She laughs, and then cries, and then looks at him and says:

“If you’re what I’ve got, then you’re what I’ll take.”

Peter is not offended; to the contrary, he agrees with her evaluation of him:

For the first time in his life, he felt exactly what he was, and he was not impressed.

He’s frozen in place, unable to approach her, or to leave.  Until she turns to him and stretches out her arms:

And he went to her as if he had been born for it.

Arguably, that’s exactly what he was born for, and she as well.  I don’t think that they fell in love in those brief moments in the conservatory after Peter stepped on the floorboard; they were, are and always will be in love; this is just the moment when they realize it (this is connected with the nature of both justice and time itself, as we’ll see later on in the book).


Oct 27


In celebration of the launch of DREAM VACATION this Friday, I’ve got a sale on the five-book Kindle Box Set “A Box of Dreams”.

It’s only $2.99, today through Wednesday – check it out!

Oct 27

Book Launch – “Instinctual” by Amanda Mackey

Title: Instinctual


Author: Amanda Mackey
Blog Tour: October 27th-October 31st
Hosted By: Author Sandra Love
Do you ever
get the feeling you are being watched?
How much do you trust your gut instincts? 


Kate Fitzpatrick’s intuitive gift warns her that her ex-lover Jake Alexander
has arrived in her idyllic hometown of Vernazza, Italy, but she tries to shrug
it off as being overworked and tired.


When Jake appears in front of her in a lonely, dark alley looking sexier than
ever, Kate’s worst fears are confirmed.


She fights the magnetic pull between them, feeling guilty that her new
boyfriend is out of town on business.


But after a serious fall that leaves Kate between life and death, she soon
discovers that Jake’s arrival, and their intense connection, may be the only
thing that can save her…
Genre – Romance, Drama, Suspense
Recommended for ages 17+ due to sexual situations and
Teaser: Her wall was crumbling fast as choked sobs escaped.  Her teeth clenched as she willed her body to
be strong and behave.
An apology just didn’t cut it.
What a nerve thinking he could just waltz back into Vernazza and expect
her to be anything other than angry with him?
What did he hope her reaction to be?
“You’ve been stalking me!” She turned her head slightly to project her
“No!  I haven’t!  I had to find you.  There is so much I need to tell you, only I
didn’t expect…”
“What?  What didn’t you expect?
Spit it out Jake and hurry up!” 
“Something has happened to you!
I tried to tell you earlier.
You’re in danger!”
“Danger?  The only danger I’m in
is from you.  I don’t want you here.  Why can’t you understand that?”  Did he not understand English?  She’d practically spelt it out for him in
every way possible. 
And he thinks
I’m the stubborn one! Okay, you’re doing good Kate. Stay strong.
“I’m here to help you.  You need
to hear me out.  I promise, if you listen
to what I have to say and you still want me to go, I will.  I’ll go and I’ll never bother you again.”
Silence.  Jesus!  Why was she even considering this?  It was absurd.
“How do I know you’re not lying to try to get me to forgive you?”
“I wouldn’t lie about something like this. About you.  This is a life or death situation.  I’ve never been more serious about
anything.  Except for my feelings for
you.  They will never
change.  You have to
hear me out and then I’ll leave. You have my word.”
Purchase Links:
Amanda Mackey was born in New Zealand and moved to
Australia when she was 12 years old with her family, where she has lived ever
since. She has loved books since an early age and is an avid reader. This has
helped lay the foundation for her writing. She’s published 2 non-fiction books
and has her fiction novels titled, Instinctual and Instinctual 2 out now.
Amanda hopes to make writing her full time career.

Links to social media sites: Twitter – https://twitter.com/AmandaMacey43
Random Trivia About the Author:
Trivia I’d like to share:
I spend my free time avidly reading, next to spending time
with family of course! I have an addiction to all things books!
My favourite part of writing is when I get an idea in my
head for a book and actually start. It’s an amazing feeling to begin creating
something from an idea in your head. Instinctual came to me while driving my
kids to school!!
My interest in writing came about from a young age when I
dabbled in writing poetry. It was a feeling inside me that beckoned to come
out. I was in my early 20’s when the desire to write a full novel hit.
Advice for other writers is to continually hone your craft
by learning all you can about the art of writing. I’m continually trying to
improve mine! Also if you believe in yourself and your work it’s only a matter
of time before others will too.
Some more needless trivia about me:
1 My favourite colour is not one but two colours. Blue and
Green are equally my favourites.
2. My favourite holiday was a 6 week trip to the US when I
was just 18. I travelled alone from Australia and ventured on a 3 week camping
tour and then I stayed with a pen-pal whom I met for the first time for the
other three weeks.
3. My most embarrassing moment was when I worked at
Seaworld and a friend of mine who is a voice-over expert pretended to call me
up at work, claiming she was a well-recognized television personality and I
believed her!!
4. My dream vacation would be visiting the setting of
Instinctual which is in Vernazza, Italy.
5. Something unique about me is that I have an extra bone
near my shoulder clavicle.
6. One food I will never touch is fish eggs or roe.
7. Favourite book is a hard one because I have read so many
but I would have to say the Hush Hush series – Becca Fitzpatrick.
8. Writing snack of choice is cashew nuts and coffee.
9. Top hobby I do when not writing is read, read, read.
10. My
favourite animal would have to be the tiger. Would love to work with them

Oct 24

Cover Reveal – “Romancing Christmas”

Romancing Christmas: 10 Love Stories to Spice up the Holidays

Multi-author boxed set
Release Date: November 3, 2014
Genre: Holiday Romance

Cover Artist: http://www.bellamediamanagement.com/


Do you like your Christmas nice…or a little naughty? Bring the season into your heart with love stories to match your mood. This boxed set from 10 of today’s hottest romance authors will warm your heart even on the coldest night.

Just 99 Cents for a limited time!



Join the ROMANCING CHRISTMAS authors for their LAUNCH DAY PARTY! The authors and a slew of their sassy friends will be celebrating the release, November 3rd, 4th, and 5th, 10:30 AM to 10:30 PM (EASTERN TIME).

Prizes Galore, Q&A, Authors, Readers, Books, and FUN! So what are you waiting for? Come join us and have a blast!

~~Novellas included in set~~
USA Today Bestselling Author Dale Mayer ~ Broken Protocols 3.5 
Award-winning author H.D. Thomson ~ Shades of Holly
Chantel Rhondeau ~ Season For Love
Award-winning author Leslie Lynch ~ Christmas Hope
Award-winning author Sandy Loyd A Christmas Miracle
Website: www.sandyloyd.com

Barbara Lohr ~ The Salty Carmel Christmas 

Website: www.BarbaraLohrAuthor.com

Marcia JamesHeating Up the Holidays
Carolyn Hughey ~ Insanity Claus  
Website: www.carolynhughey.com

Tallulah Grace ~ A Family for Christmas 

Website: http://www.tallulahgrace.com

Rachelle Ayala A Father for Christmas

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