With Love from the Inside

With Love from the InsideWith Love from the Inside by Angela Pisel

Angela Pisel’s poignant debut explores the complex relationship between a mother and a daughter, and their quest to discover the truth and whether or not love can prevaileven from behind bars.

Grace Bradshaw knows the exact minute she will die. On death row for murdering her infant son, her last breath will be taken on February 15 at 12:01 a.m. Eleven years, five months, and twenty-seven days separate her from the last time she heard her precious daughter’s voice and the final moment she’d heard anyone call her Mom. Out of appeals, she can focus on only one thing—reconnecting with her daughter and making sure she knows the truth.
Secrets lurk behind Sophie Logan’s big house and even bigger bank account. Every day when she kisses her husband good-bye, she worries her fabricated life is about to come crumbling down. No one knows the unforgivable things her mother did to tear her family apart—not her husband, who is a prominent plastic surgeon, or her “synthetic” friends who live in her upscale neighborhood.
Grace’s looming execution date forces Sophie to revisit the traumatic events that haunted her childhood. When she returns to her hometown, she discovers new evidence about her baby brother William’s death seventeen years ago—proof that might set her mother free but shatter her marriage forever.
Sophie must quickly decide if her mother is the monster the prosecutor made her out to be or the loving mother she remembers—the one who painted her toenails glittery pink and plastered Post-it notes with inspiring quotes (“100 percent failure rate if you don’t try”) all over Sophie’s bathroom mirror—before their time runs out.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book emotionally wrecked me. Who doesn’t love that in a book? This is one of those books that you can’t wait to tell everyone about and you wait until your friend is on the last couple of pages awaiting their reaction, holding your breath.

Try as I might, I couldn’t quite decide what I thought might happen at the end. This story is about family, marriage, motherhood, forgiveness, hope and hopelessness all at the same time. From the beginning I was hooked on the lives of the two main characters and didn’t want to put this book down.

The author did such a good job creating believable characters that struck the heart, I found myself in tears by the end, which is something that rarely happens. If you are looking for a great any time of the year read, might I recommend this book.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgally. All opinions are my own.

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The Night Parade by Ronald Malfi

The Night ParadeThe Night Parade by Ronald Malfi

First the birds disappeared.
Then the insects took over.
Then the madness began . . .

They call it Wanderer’s Folly–a disease of delusions, of daydreams and nightmares. A plague threatening to wipe out the human race.

After two years of creeping decay, David Arlen woke up one morning thinking that the worst was over. By midnight, he’s bleeding and terrified, his wife is dead, and he’s on the run in a stolen car with his eight-year-old daughter, who may be the key to a cure.

Ellie is a special girl. Deep. Insightful. And she knows David is lying to her. Lying about her mother. Lying about what they’re running from. And lying about what he sees when he takes his eyes off the road . . .

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve never been much for the contagion type books that result in near total apocalypse, but this book may have changed my mind about all that. Ronald Malfi has quite the imagination and the ability to scare you out of setting down his books. Combined–that’s my kind of horror novel.

This book is really fantastic. The main characters are interesting and the author introduces the mysteries of what is happening to them and why slowly, so you have some guesswork to do before getting the answers you will undoubtedly crave.

The buildup of suspense and terror in this book was crafted beautifully. You aren’t ever sure if it is going to end the way you think it might or not, until the very last page. The bonds between father and daughter in this book create the emotional tie that it needs for it all to make sense, and for the main character’s every motion to be believable.

I found it impossible to put this book down and read it in a straight shot the day I started it, actually annoyed when I had to set it down for “real life” disturbances.

If you enjoy early Stephen King books, where nothing is quite as it seems, this is a book I feel good about recommending to you. It had a very similar feel and the terror was palpable, even early on in the book.

I loved it!

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

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Behind Closed Doors

Behind Closed DoorsBehind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think you will find if you read this book that you don’t blink, forget to breathe and keep screaming at the main character to “Run like your bum is coated in honey and you are being chased by a hungry bear!”

If you are like me and love characters that you can hate and want to see all the worst things in the world happen to them, then you will get that from Jack Angel. Don’t let the name fool you, there is nothing cherubic about this guy. He is one of the most finely drawn villains I’ve seen in a while. Sadistic, twisted, immoral, he’s got the full bag.

I liked this book for a lot of reasons. One of which, was the undying devotion of the main character to her sister, Millie. You can read this book and relate to the terror and the feelings of hopelessness, even if you have never been in a seriously abusive relationship, but on a deeper level, you can relate to the feelings of love the main character has for her sister. This is truly a very well thought out, chilling and yet somehow beautiful novel.

I wanted to be there during the final moments of the book, holding hands with Grace. This book made me feel a variety of different emotions, some of them tough to deal with. It is truly an unforgettable novel.

I would have rated this book five stars, had it not been for the ending. I thought it a bit abrupt and I desperately desired to know what happened next in Grace and Millie’s stories. Still, it is definitely worth the read and recommendation. One of the best books I have read this year.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

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The Matching Journey of the Hero & Author

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Thank you to Ionia for letting me announce that the first book of my fantasy series, Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero, will be marked down to free.  It’s been a long ride with this volume since I first published it in early 2013.  Prior to that, I started working on it in late 1998 and now I just feel old.  So, what do I want to talk about here?

Looking back, I can see how Luke Callindor and I have changed.  Neither of us had much of an idea of what we were doing.  He stumbled into the path of a demonic assassin and the Lich while I tripped into the world of self-publishing.  Our flaws were certainly different with him being the more confident of the two and me being a lot more cautious.  Odd how Luke and I don’t really know how we made it this far into our linear adventures.  The answers are in our heads, but neither of us can put a clear finger on the details.

Funny thing is how we also met fellow champions/authors who are working toward the same goal.  Not to mention a few villains and frustrating obstacles.  All of this makes me realize how an adventure isn’t always swords, spells, and satisfying action.  I needed another ‘S’ word and I say that works.  The point is that I’ve been noticing that my path as an author is mimicking Luke’s as a hero.  Unsure if his story is being influenced by me or the other way since the series was planned out a while ago.

The idea of an author and his main character sharing an adventure in some fashion isn’t entirely unique.  Many have stated that their heroes are based on parts of their personality or ideals that they want to be.  One of the more difficult aspects of this tactic is to put flaws into the characters because it involves a little self-reflection.  With Luke, I see my impatience and frustration, which I hope is countered by a sense of determination that I try to share.  To be fair, this tends to fail both of us at times of extreme stress.  Guess it does show that Luke and I have a bit too much in common.

So enough about me.  Have any other authors shared the adventures of their heroes?  What about readers seeing themselves in a protagonist?  Just how much of us goes into the books that we connect to since it requires us to imagine the worlds within the pages.


Legends of Windemere

Grab Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero for Free!

Also, Crossing Bedlam is celebrating a new cover by dropping to 99 cents!

Cover Art by Jon Hunsinger

Cover Art by Jon Hunsinger

Parenting with Wisdom and Compassion by Ilene Val-Essen

Parenting with Wisdom and Compassion: Bring Out the Best in Your FamilyParenting with Wisdom and Compassion: Bring Out the Best in Your Family by Ilene Val-Essen, Ph.D.

Imagine a new paradigm of parenting that dramatically changes the way we relate to our children. Doors open that were previously closed, freeing us to parent with a wiser and more compassionate heart. Dr. Val-Essen reveals a new vision of the parent-child relationship and provides a Six-Step Process to help us realize it. Powerful stories, proven skills, and practical exercises inspire and guide us to expand our minds and open our hearts. As we gain a deeper understanding of our children and ourselves, we’re able to parent with wisdom and compassion even when buttons are pushed and fear takes center stage. Children and parents flourish. Family life becomes deeply rewarding.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I agreed to take this book, it was for one reason. I liked the idea of a book about parenting with the word “compassion” in the title. In my opinion, as a non-expert on parenting and just a mum who loves her kids and wants what is best for them, I have thought many times about the lack of compassion in this world for the needs of our youth. We are always being bombarded on social media, in newsprint and on the television with all the things you can do to screw up your children, but rarely do we get any good advice for how to improve our skills as parents. That is where this book comes in.

Ilene Val-Essen takes a different approach with this book. Rather than slapping parents, educators or anyone else responsible for youth across the face with a message of “you are doing this wrong!” She takes the time to explain her gentle approach and really break down what she means in her title.

This book is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to understand more about why conflicts in families arise, and how they can be resolved. With the understanding that you don’t have to change who you are, what your values are or completely revamp your parenting style to appreciate this book and the advice given in it, you will find that the ideas presented here can work in nearly any situation, regardless of who you are.

There is far too much in this book to do an individual review on each section, or this review would never end, but there are some definite jewels worth mentioning. This book promotes the self awareness of the parent so they can identify with the child’s emotions, reactions and address any issues they might have that remain under the surface. There are tips here for recognising stress in the family and how to calm that stress. The author has included charts and easy steps to follow to defuse situations before they become major problems.

Honestly, I think this book has some very good specific and situational information, but it would work just as well if the principals set forth here were used in other, everyday situations. It is not just children that are affected by the way we view ourselves and how we treat others, and this book, in my opinion, is titled perfectly. We could all do with a dose of compassion, from others, for others.

I highly recommend this book to everyone. It is a brilliant read and an honest and open message from an author who has lived what she writes about. Five stars.

If Animals Were People

Here is the latest offering in our color book series. I had a lot of fun with this one. I’m trying a new approach here as well. Adult color books tend to have a lot of very small spaces, and not everyone loves that. So this is the first book in the “Wide Open Spaces” series. For those who want to have the fun of an adult coloring book, but don’t want to deal with all the tiny little details.

I proudly present: “If Animals Were People”

Also check out our other color books available on amazon.com and over at J and I Publishing


Ever wonder what the world would be like if animals were in control? If animals were people, what would they do for work? What would they do for fun? Follow these zany animals on their various adventures to work and beyond and color them in as you choose. This book is intended for an adult coloring audience, but was intentionally designed with wide open spaces to color for those who do not wish to color extremely small and complicated designs. Grab your favorite coloring tools and have a blast with these silly critters!

Get your copy HERE




She is crazy
He is sane
She is paisley
He’s solid black

She runs off without thinking
And he puts life back on track

Her head is full of ideas
Too big to be contained
He always takes time to listen
He never complains

She’s a pantser
He’s a planner
She never looks before she leaps

He is careful
Thinks things through
He prepares for the deep

She is angry
She is loud
She screams into the sea

He is calm
He is silent
He is what she wishes to be

He’s a poet
She’s an artist
She flies with fancy
He’s the smartest

She loves him
And he loves her
And somehow it works out
Because differences aside,
Love is what it’s all about.

I love you, Julian.
Happy random day anniversary, because you deserve to be appreciated just because.


Roadtrip! How I love thee

So last week, the gang and I decided that it would be a good idea if I could see some actual landscapes other than boring Nevada, since I am illustrating a landscape book.

One of those random, Jules and I are sitting at the park kind of moments when we decide we need a change of scenery, so we go home and toss everything into a pile in the back of the family wagon (or in this case, Dodge Journey–named appropriately) and just go. With no thought to what we actually should have brought or if this was a good idea. Welcome. To. Us.

We decided on Northern California and Southern Oregon as our destination. Love Highway 101 especially during the time of year when it floods, blows a million miles an hour, snows and the fog is thicker than Trump’s skull. So off we went.

I quite enjoyed the drive up. By the time I reached 299 and then cut over to HWY 101, there was no traffic to contend with. 2 in the morning is a pretty good time time to drive the coastal highway if you want to avoid stopping because of all the dips who pull out in front of you.


Really, the only thing I had to contend with were the multitude of skunks who made my eyes water and kept me rolling up the window for safety.


Helloooo, Mr. Stinky.

So the trip up was mostly uneventful. Most of the rest areas were open for once, so no one had any accidents. (I’m talking to you, Englishman.) The kids and Jules had all fallen asleep, so I was humming “Highway to Hell” to myself and quite pleased with my driving skills at such a late hour. I was taking up both sides of the road since nothing was coming.

Then out of nowhere, right beyond the sign that says “Elk Crossing” (apparently they don’t know how to use a cross walk…

This appears in front of the car.


If you think the picture is big, you should have seen the real thing. I slammed on the breaks and woke up everyone in the car, slid a bit on the wet road nearly into an embankment and ended up stopping, looking at the business end of a stop sign. Everyone is fine, thank you for asking.

What pissed me off, wasn’t the elk in the middle of the road. Elk were there before roads were, so okay he has right of way. What pissed me off, was the nonchalant way he continued to chew his grass..cud…whatever they chew. His elk tobacco. Whatever. Num. Num. Num. Seriously. He just stays in the middle of the road, not overly bothered by the idea of becoming a hood ornament, as I am white knuckling the steering wheel, panting in terror and re-swallowing my heart.

Num-fucking-num. At least his mates had the good sense to look afraid for him.


So what does he do? He moves over about a foot, directly into the middle of the road and continues to chew. He remained unimpressed.


Num. Num. Num.


I was here first. My berries. Asshole Nevadan.

Eventually we made it to our destination and for the next day, other than a flooding rainstorm that made us take refuge in the car instead of going on the nature hike we had intended, things settled down. The weather was beautiful the next morning, we went to a couple of beaches, had some good food and then went to the pool at the hotel. The kids had a great time splashing around and my oldest boy broke his fear of the deep end…thanks daddy for helping with that.

So all was well, as I decided I’d had enough pool water in my ears and left the kids and the hubby behind so I could take the poodle for a walk. Brookings, Oregon is a cute little town. The kind of place where a woman feels safe with her tiny dog, even after dark. The worst you are likely to encounter is possibly a stray dog, or maybe a racoon digging in a bin looking for something interesting to eat. Off we went in search of an adventure, or maybe a bush to pee on–for the dog, not me, I don’t have the balance for that.


Nearly ten o’clock at night and we are walking along in front of an auto parts shop, when Salem decided the bushes out front look like a good place to hike a leg. The bushes start rustling and I’m thinking it’s a bird. Then the bushes explode and I’m thinking it is a dog. A big dog. Maybe a rabid racoon out for blood on unsuspecting tourists. Oh hell…Maybe it’s this guy…


You know, they say he lives in the area and I almost could have understood that. Instead, the dog freaks out, pees on my shoe and tries to climb my leg before deciding if he can live with four boys he can take on anything and goes after the…


Wait? Monkey? The hell is a monkey doing attacking me and the poodle in a car park? Yep. Of all things in the world, a pissed off monkey in a small town in Oregon. Not what I would have expected. Didn’t think they grew those here.

I did what any fearless, strong woman would do. I cursed at the dog for pissing on my Sketchers and turned tails (mine and the poodle’s) and ran like the devil was chasing me. Because he was. Fucking Monkey.

Later, we learned that the monkey was an escaped convict. The thing was someone’s pet that had escaped and they had already had a warrant to seize the animal. Well guys, I found it. Want it? Go get it. This girl is done.

That was nearly the end of the drama, until we decided to stop and go to a lookout point, where we encountered this sign:


Everyone agrees that this guy appears to be having fun. And apparently my poodle can understand the meanings of these things, because he decided to slip right outside the guard fence and make a break for it, off the cliff edge. Thank goodness for dog leashes. We got him back, after what was nearly our second heart attack of the trip.

Still, overall, we had a good trip. I got some good images, we had some laughs and we made some new friends.


Oh, and I met someone famous.



Jonathan Livingston Seagull

That Seals it.


We must do this again.

Let’s have some fun

Drop a line in comments below and quote the most memorable line you can recall off the top of your head in a book or movie. Then you will be entered in to win a copy of “Crossing Bedlam” by Charles E. Yallowitz.

I will choose one lucky winner this weekend to receive their copy, I can only gift to US residents via Amazon, but everyone is welcome to play just for the fun of it. Help out an author and share this post if you have a chance. Book details below .


Available HERE

The United States of America has been crippled. Violently contained by a global military force and left without its leaders, the country has become shattered and chaotic. A decade has passed since the first strike and a new landscape has emerged where survival is more important than anything else. Who will uncover the truth behind the attack and revive this once great nation?

It certainly won’t be Cassidy and Lloyd since they couldn’t care less about that stuff. She is a young woman on a mission to honor her mother’s dying wish, which is to toss her ashes off the Golden Gate Bridge. He is an infamous serial killer she broke out of Rikers Island since hiring a bodyguard wasn’t working out. Not the perfect plan, but having an insane, oddly charming murder-junkie on your side is a plus in the Shattered States.

Bullets and swear words are going to fly as Cassidy and Lloyd travel coast to coast, facing one challenge after another . . . including Nebraska.

Occupational Hazard

My first post on J & I publishing. All about “the finger”

J and I Publishing

I’m not a lefty or a righty most of the time, I’m a bothy. When it comes to illustrations, however, I use my right hand exclusively, as it is the steadier of the two and just makes working with different mediums a lot easier.

The thing is, after a while, the finger (and yes, I mean The Finger) that the pens rest against begins to resemble mince. So what do I do about this? The most mature thing possible. I go and find bandages that will help protect the poor finger.

I refuse to walk around with an ugly-brown-plaster-finger because I, folks, am a lady and I must be fashionable at all times. Except on Sundays when I look as though I have fallen out of bed and into life, but that is another matter.

Either way, no plain band-aids for this kid. So here’s a current sampling of…

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