Monday, September 4, 2017

Gino Bardi - Remembering the Sixties

There’s an old joke, “If you remember the sixties, you probably weren’t there.” For those of you who were  - or weren’t, and wish you were - a new novel by Hudson writer Gino Bardi will take you on a magical mystery tour back to those turbulent times. “Those years were a highlight of my life,” he says.  “Get it? High light? Okay, never mind.”


Bardi began writing for local newspapers and magazines while still a high school student in West Islip (Long Island), New York. He attended Cornell University in the late sixties, a time of campus unrest, where he met and later married his college sweetheart. After graduating with a degree in English/Creative Writing in 1972, Bardi wrote copy for an advertising agency and film scripts for a training and development company in Washington, DC.  He and his wife eventually owned and operated a commercial printing business in upstate New York. They sold the business in 2008 and retired to Florida after deciding “winter was an unnecessary evil.” The move turned out to be a pleasant change in more ways than the weather.

“The best thing about Florida is that it’s filled with writers,” Bardi says. “I was amazed by how many writers there are, how good they are, and how nice they are to one another. In New York, they were much more competitive.”  After trying to fill his time with typical retiree activities like fishing, golf, and tennis (which he admits he “did badly,”) he joined a writers group.  “I’m a guy who likes to take the path of least resistance,” he admits. “Writing was the only thing I could do, so I decided to write something.” He began working on a short story about a young man finding love- and fun- in a demanding, stressful university, “Much of the story really happened to me,” he explains. “But when I got to the point where I needed an actual plot – that’s where the road parted.” He soon discovered that writing a novel was very different from completing an assignment for an ad or a magazine.

Fortunately, Bardi found “a very generous mentor” - author David Edmonds, the moderator of the Tarpon Springs Writer’s Group.  “When I got to the point where the character’s life grinds to a stop, and what had really happened wasn’t too interesting, I wasn’t sure where to go with it,” he says. “I moped around for a while, like the book’s main character, Tony.  David Edmonds encouraged me to keep going. I let the characters tell me how to finish the book. It turns out they couldn’t be pushed around. The story took on a life of its own. It was amazing!”  The result was Bardi’s first novel The Cow in the Doorway: Love and Loss in a Time of Pot and Protest. He describes the often humorous, sometimes poignant book as “a coming-of-age, new adult, historical romantic comedy - it’ll be the only book on that particular shelf!” The protagonist of the story is Tony Vitelli, a reluctant freshman focused more on babes than books. His search for romance in the midst of tremendous political and societal upheaval teaches him some hard lessons about life and love. “Tony learns that, at some point in life, you have to figure out what you want and what you have to do to get it,” Bardi notes. “The title is a metaphor for whatever stands in your way, whatever keeps you from getting what you want and need.” The Cow in the Doorway is a rare example of something that will make you laugh and break your heart on the same page. It received the Florida Writers Association’s prestigious Royal Palm Literary Award for both Best Unpublished (2015) and Best Published New Adult Novel (2016).

 Bardi has recently completed Three on a Match, a collection of eleven humorous and quirky short stories examining aspects of relationships from many angles. On schedule for early 2018 is a full-length novel, WKDZ, about a younger Tony Vitelli (from The Cow in the Doorway) who, along with a team of miscreant high school kids, builds a powerful radio station and gets into an incredible amount of trouble. Also in the works is a futuristic crime spoof, titled Freezer Burn, whose protagonist has been dead for forty years and emerges from a deep freeze to cause all kinds of problems for the world.

 In all Bardi’s books, the protagonist eventually gets the girl. “And that’s how you know it’s fiction,” he is quick to point out. Creating offbeat stories and characters that can make readers smile is part of the joy Bardi gets from his craft. “When it comes to writing, there’s very little I don’t like,” he says. “And I can always make myself laugh, which is a real treat.”  

For more information, visit Gino Bardi’s author page,  tinyurl.com/ginobardi-books. Both The Cow in the Doorway and Three on a Match are available on Amazon.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Wayne MacDowell - A Literary Tribute to the Greatest Generation

Of the 16 million Americans who served in WWII, less than million remain. According to the National WWII Museum, “Approximately every three minutes a memory of World War II – its sights and sounds, its terrors and triumphs – disappears…the men and women who fought and won the great conflict are now mostly in their 90s. They are dying quickly – at the rate of approximately 555 a day, according to US Veterans Administration figures.” So it is imperative to honor them before they disappear into the annals of history. This was the inspiration for Not Just Another War Story, St. Pete Beach writer Wayne MacDowell’s tribute to the young airmen who risked their lives in the skies over occupied Europe.


Having spent his career in Sales and Marketing for national tea and coffee companies, MacDowell traveled widely throughout the United States. It was during one such trip that he got the idea for a story about a college football player who finds romance during a summer job. “I started the story on hotel stationery, writing ‘A Short Story’ at the top,” he recalls. About 370 pages later, the story became a novel he titled Not Just Another Love Story. While MacDowell had no formal training as a writer, he had on-the-job experience writing marketing and sales plans, and he published Not Just Another Love Story in 2000.

MacDowell’s next book, Not Just Another War Story, would be nine years in the making. Because of a football injury sustained while he was a college student, MacDowell was unable to pass the physical to become an Air Force pilot. Instead, he channeled his energies into a 40-year involvement with the 305th Bomb Group Memorial Association as a tribute to his uncle and godfather, 1st Lt. Wright E. Gerke, a B-17 “Flying Fortress” pilot. “The idea of what could become a story came through my attendance at the 305th annual reunions where I spoke with those heroes of long ago and listened to their stories,” MacDowell says. “In the book, I wanted the story to be absolutely genuine – right down to the weather and each plane’s serial number.”

MacDowell describes Not Just Another War Story as “the story of the hopes, dreams and loves of a B-17 crew.” It is the tale of young Steve Carmichael, a University of Florida graduate who loves to fly.  Having learned to pilot a plane at the age of 12, Steve decides to join the Army Air Corps. He eventually realizes his dream of piloting a four-engine B-17 “Flying Fortress” bomber into battle. While stationed in Britain, Steve meets an attractive British nurse at a USO dance, and sparks fly. “The book doesn’t center on just the fighting war,” MacDowell points out. “It also shows the human interaction and feelings, plus a beautiful romance in a war-torn world.”  For MacDowell, the best part of writing the novel was “watching my characters come to life and become people.”

 While promoting Not Just Another War Story, MacDowell travelled to England's Isle of Wight where some of the book takes place. Sandown, a family resort town on the Isle of Wight is the St Pete Beach International Sister-City.  He then went on to London where he hosted a book-signing at Harrrod's Department Store. He also visited Margroten, Holland where the Netherlands-American Military Cemetery is located. “I did a book signing there, giving the proceeds to a local charity,” he says.  Not Just Another War Story is dedicated to 1st LT Wright E. Gerke, a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot who was killed on a mission to Gelsenkirchen, Germany. This visit was my 23rd to place flowers and visit with my Uncle-Godfather. I know the number only because there is a sign-in family book. Like all of the overseas military cemeteries it is well worth the visit to these hallowed grounds which are beautifully maintained. They are American soil. While there, take a stroll out past the reflecting pond, past the memorial tower/chapel and into the cemetery where 8301 American ‘kids’ are buried. Walk out toward the American flag pole and over on your right in Plot 0 Row 6 Grave 6, stop by for a moment to visit Lt Wright E. Gerke.” MacDowell plans on returning to England and The Netherlands in the fall of 2018.

 Another memorable experience for MacDowell was an invitation to do a book signing with the Experimental Aviation Association (EAA).  “They flew their B-17 Flying Fortress into the St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport in June for a couple of days as a flying exhibit,” he recalls. “We worked out that some of the proceeds would go the EA. We sold out, and they asked if I would come the following week to the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport for an additional signing. Again, we sold out and, at the end of the day, they invited me to fly as copilot on their 1928 Ford Tri-Motor former TWA plane. It certainly was fun! The old girl flew at just under 100 MPH and with the huge wings, was as steady as can be.”

MacDowell hopes readers will enjoy Not Just Another War Story and come away with a renewed appreciation for the sacrifices made by WWII veterans. “I hope the book will give the younger generation – those who had a father or grandfather who served – an understanding of what they went through during that time,” he says. “I try to bring out the toughness of that group of people who certainly had to grow up way too soon, and the joy of lifelong friendships made with individuals from all walks of life. To have the reader come along on the story-adventure and give them a front row seat was most important to me.”

For more information, visit the author’s website at www.waynemacdowell.com.





 


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Russell James - Tales from the Dark Side

Move over, Stephen King and Clive Barker - there’s a new thriller writer on the scene. Longwood author Russell James is spinning tales that are sure to keep readers up at night. This former Army helicopter pilot has penned paranormal novels, novellas and short story collections that will delight horror fans.

James, a native of Long Island, never planned to become a writer. He graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Business Management, earned his MBA from the University of Central Florida, and realized his lifelong dream of flying helicopters with the Army 101st Airborne.  But he discovered his more creative side during long road trips with his wife.  “While we were driving, I’d tell my wife stories, and she said I should write them down,” he recalls.  “I told her there was no way anyone would pay for something I wrote. I’ve been apologizing to her ever since.”  James’s wife took matters into her own hands when she gifted her husband with an online writing course for Christmas. This led to the publication of one of his short stories.  Then James enrolled in an advance writing class and began work on a book about a haunted house. At the suggestion of his instructor, James submitted the novel, Dark Inspiration, to Samhain Publishing, and the rest is history.

Dark Inspiration was followed by four more novels (Sacrifice, Black Magic, Dark Vengeance, Dreamwalker,) two novellas (Blood Red Roses and The Antikythera Answer,) and several short story collections. James describes his work as “character-driven paranormal thrillers based more on suspense than graphic violence.” His next novel, Q Island, is the nail-biting tale of a prehistoric virus that turns its victims into psychopathic killers. Publishers Weekly praised the book as “…a seriously creepy page turner that will keep readers up at night.”

 His latest novel is Cavern of the Damned, an homage to the kind of monster movies kids loved to watch in the 1970s. Out-of-work paleontologist Grant Coleman signs up to be part of a documentary film about exploring a long-sealed cave, but he finds out it is really just a reality show to be filled with some fake scares. Park Service Ranger McKinley Stinson catches the crew trespassing, but before she arrests them, the cave entrance collapses. All are trapped inside, and the only way out is at the cavern system’s far end. Along the way they are attacked by giant cave dwelling creatures, including giant scorpions. Greed, double crosses, and mayhem ensure. The Haunted Reading Room said “Author Russell James delivers heart-in-mouth unstoppable action and terror. If you love creature horror, paleontology, megafauna, and scares-a-minute, love this!” In keeping with the spirit of the story, it is family-friendly with no sex or profanity. “It’s just the broadcast network-safe scary of a good monster flick, “James says. “I can finally direct kids at book signings to a book without adding a warning for their parents.”

Scheduled for release later this year will be Return to Q Island, a second story set in the world of Q Island. While millions want to escape a viral quarantine on Long Island, where they are terrorized by the infected, one man wants to get back in to save his family. His only way in is posing as a guide for an illegal safari hunting the infected. But he ends up being a slave to the hunters, and the infected are worse than ever.

While the primary reason James spins his scary tales is “to give readers an escape from the real world for a while,” he also hopes his writing will leave them with something to ponder. “All my novels have a theme embedded in them,” he explains. “Maybe readers will pull out that theme and apply the values to their own lives.” 

For more information, visit the author’s website at www.russellrjames.com.
For more about Cavern of the Damned go to  www.amazon.com/Cavern-Damned-Russell-James-ebook/dp/B071LMZFHJ)

For readers who want to meet James in person, he will be making appearances at Megacon in Tampa (September 29-October 1st) and Spooky Empire in Orlando (October 27-29) He invites readers to stop by for signed copies of his books or to just chat about reading and writing.





Thursday, July 20, 2017

Ken Pelham - Pushing the Literary Envelope

Ken Pelham likes to push the envelope. This Maitland writer's stories test the limits of his readers' imaginations while taking them on unforgettable adventures that will keep them hooked to the last page. This is no small feat for a guy who spends his days as a landscape architect.

Born in Fort Myers, Pelham grew up in the small town of Immokalee. He was always an avid reader and started writing in middle school where he created comics for his friends. In high school, he moved on to short stories and a play. As much as he enjoyed writing, economic considerations led him to channel his creative talents in a different direction, so he pursued a degree in landscape architecture at the University of Florida. 

He started writing short stories and nonfiction articles after he graduated from college. Several of his stories were published in magazines, so he decided to try his hand at a novel. After two failed attempts, he set to work on a suspense/thriller titled Place of Fear. It introduced his signature character, Dr. Carson Grant, a protagonist Pelham describes as “prickly and mysterious, a little Indiana Jones, a little serious archaeologist.” Even though he was unable to place the book with a publisher, Pelham went on to write a sequel, Brigands Key, set on a quirky little island on Florida’s west coast. Writing Brigands Key was a multi-year process. Pelham wrote seven drafts before he finally submitted it to publishers.

The effort paid off. In 2012 Brigands Key was picked up by Five Star Publishing and won first place in the prestigious Royal Palm Literary Awards. Praised as “A perfect storm of menace…” by Florida Weekly, the story begins when Carson Grant discovers a body while diving near a subterranean freshwater stream in the Gulf. He is soon facing off against the local police, a mysterious plague, a Category 5 hurricane, and a crazed murderer. The success of Brigands Key led to the publication of Place of Fear, which earned Pelham his second Royal Palm award. Pelham’s affection for his fictional Brigands Key led him to use it as the setting for several short stories included in two collections: Treacherous Bastards: Stories of Suspense, Deceit, and Skullduggery and Tales of Old Brigands Key. Pelham has also penned a non-fiction book, Out of Sight, Out of Mind: A Writer’s Guide to Mastering Viewpoint, which won a Royal Palm Award for “Published Book of the Year.”

Pelham’s latest project, The Prometheus Saga, is a unique science fiction anthology reminiscent of the classic short story collections by Ray Bradbury, Rod Serling and Richard Matheson. “I was investigating how to use the new technology in publishing in an anthology,” he says. He conferred with friend and fellow writer Charles A. Cornell, and they came up with the idea of having a select group of writers create stories that shared a common premise. This was the birth of the Alvarium Experiment, a consortium of writers working “independently together” toward a single goal.  “Alvarium” (Latin for “beehive”) reflects the philosophy of writers working as a colony. “We decided to create a theme and a character that had no bounds but made sense,” he says. The stories are tied together by the enigmatic Prometheus, a humanoid alien probe sent to observe the human race throughout its history. Created by an alien intelligence, Prometheus sometimes interacts with mankind, but it is left up to the reader to decide if it is malevolent or benevolent.

The Alvarium Experiment followed up with a second anthology, Return to Earth, which explores scenarios in which the first visitors to our planet just happen to be us. Pelham's contribution to that project, "Under the Whelming Tide," is a semifinalist in the 2017 Royal Palm Literary Awards. And in July of this year a third anthology, The Masters Reimagined, will be released, in which classic works of literature will be visited with a slant towards speculative fiction.
Pelham's short story, "The Queen Beneath the Earth," appeared in Darkwater Syndicate's gripping horror anthology, Shadows and Teeth, Volume 2, in April, 2017.

Staying busy, Pelham's column appears monthly on the FWA website. He's also hard at work on a nonfiction book about the evolution of genre fiction, and on the third book in his Carson Grant series, Grand Ruin, which involves the mysterious death of a high school football star and the secret of an abandoned castle. He feels that what makes his novels unique is that they push the limits of believability. “I like keeping a lot of balls in the air at once and multiple characters with competing agendas,” he says. “I hope my books give readers an enjoyable few hours of reading and leave them with something to think about.”

For more about Ken Pelham, visit his website at www.kenpelham.com

Learn more about The Prometheus Saga on Facebook at



Monday, July 3, 2017

Cheryl Hollon - Mysterious Business

St. Petersburg writer Cheryl Hollon knows firsthand the stresses and rewards of running a business. “There have been lots of small businesses within my family,” she says. “My husband, George, has been part-owner of a printed-circuit board manufacturer and sole proprietor of a screen-printing shop. Our oldest son, Eric, has owned three marine science research companies, and our youngest son, Aaron, owns a patent research agency. I understand completely that being able to work your own hours translates to needing to work 24/7 just to stay afloat.” Hollon is using her experience to create a unique series of mystery novels set in our very own Grand Central District – the Webb’s Glass Shop Mysteries.

For Hollon, an Ohio native, becoming a writer was a circuitous journey. She attended Sinclair Community College and was later offered a position as an executive secretary at NCR.  There she read and typed reports, eventually learning so much about computer protocols that she was able to program keypunch machines and de-bug codes.  She was promoted to assistant programmer, earned her engineering degree, moved to Florida, and wound up designing and building military flight simulators. As fulfilling as she found her career, she developed a passion for glass art, and, along with her husband, began creating original artwork in a small glass studio behind their house. This was the impetus for her foray into writing.

Hollon, an avid reader, credits a “fabulous high school English teacher” with encouraging her love of the written word. “She was the kind of teacher you want your kids to have,” she recalls. Then, about ten years ago, Hollon read what she describes as “the worst mystery on the planet” and thought she could certainly do better. She began writing on long business flights, joined “Sisters in Crime” (a support group for mystery writers), and became part of a critique group. She soon learned that “it’s easy to write, but difficult to write well.” 

Ten years later, Hollon completed Pane and Suffering, her first novel.   “I know a lot about stained glass, and I know a lot of the people who own businesses in the Grand Central District,” Hollon says. “I thought combining my love of stained glass with writing would be a winning combination.” The book introduces Savannah Webb, a glass artist who returns to her family’s glass shop after her father’s unexpected death.  When her father’s assistant is also found dead, Savannah discovers a note from her father warning that she might be in danger, and she must decode his cryptic clues to find a murderer. “Savannah has all the attributes of an independent business owner,” Hollon explains. “She’s named after my favorite place. Savannah is a wonderful town with wonderful characters. It’s comforting, strong and proud of its heritage, all attributes shared by Savannah Webb.”

In Hollon’s second Webb’s Glass Shop Mystery, Shards of Murder (released on February 23, 2016,) Savannah judges an art festival in downtown St. Pete, and the winner is found dead in Tampa Bay. Savannah was the last person to see her alive.  Book three, Cracked to Death, was released on June 28, 2016. The story centers around a vintage glass bottle that may be connected to the treasure of the Gaspar pirates. The fourth book in the series, Etched in Tears, uses the Dali Museum as a backdrop to the death of Savannah’s high school sweetheart and prominent glass artist. It is scheduled for release on November 28, 2017.  

 “I’m trying to show readers what small business Florida is all about,” Hollon explains, “and what’s behind the beaches, t-shirts and shell shops – real people, families and a sense of community. It’s a tiny microcosm of civilization. Everyone works together so the community can succeed, and one bad apple can upset the whole thing. There’s a story in each of the stores.”

For more information, visit the author’s website at www.cherylhollon.com.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Miriam Auerbach - Socially Conscious Sleuth

What happens when you combine a degree in psychology, a career as a professor of social work and a lifetime love of mystery stories that feature tough female protagonists? In the case of West Palm Beach writer Miriam Auerbach, you get an award-winning series of satirical mystery novels starring a Boca Babe turned Biker Babe named Harriet Horowitz.

Auerbach (pen name for Miriam Potocky) was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia and immigrated to the United States when she was seven. She grew up in Colorado and relocated to Boca Raton 20 years ago to take a position on the faculty of Florida International University in Miami where she still works as a professor of social work.  Though she was always an avid mystery reader, she never considered writing until she had an unexpected encounter with Dirty Harry.

“One day, I was feeling depressed,” Auerbach recalls. “I took to bed with a box of chocolates and turned on the TV. A Dirty Harry marathon was playing, and I decided to watch. While I never really got the character, I began to see him as the strong, silent archetype of the male hero, and I thought that what the world needed was a female Dirty Harry.” In 2006, Auerbach’s debut novel, Dirty Harriet, hit bookstores, introducing readers to Harriet Horowitz, a character Auerbach describes as “a man in a woman’s body.” The story centers around Harriet’s investigation into the death of a migrant worker whose body was found in a tomato field. The plot also gave Auerbach a vehicle to explore the issues of human trafficking and migrant rights. Even though the novel was written as a mystery, it won the Best First Series Romance award from RT Book Reviews. 

Dirty Harriet was followed in 2007 by a sequel, Dirty Harriet Rides Again, which finds Harriet serving as “Best Human” at the wedding of two same-sex friends. When three clergymen become murder victims, Harriet goes on a search for the killer. The third book in the series, Dead in Boca, has Harriet investigating the death of a wealthy developer bulldozed at his construction site. In the latest installment in the Dirty Harriet’s saga, Boca Undercover, Harriet goes undercover to find out who is murdering patients at a posh rehab center. Auerbach got the idea for the story when she was doing consultant work in a residential substance abuse facility. “The facility wasn’t anything like the one in the book,” she admits, but the story allowed her to address the issue of addiction.

Auerbach describes her Dirty Harriet series as satirical mysteries which she hopes will make the reader laugh but will serve a serious purpose as well.  “My books give an over-the-top look at life in Boca that can easily translate to other wealthy areas in Florida,” she says. “But they also address some serious social issues and look at how they play out in affluent communities where there’s a dark side to the bright, beautiful fa├žade. I like to take topical issues and extrapolate them to their extremes. This often leads me to outlandish places.”

The fifth Dirty Harriet book, tentatively titled Boca Blast-Off, is in its plotting stage. The story will involve the death of a rocket scientist and the building of a private rocket port in the Everglades. Auerbach hopes readers will come away from her books feeling that “the world isn’t perfect, but there’s a little bit each of us can do to make it a more fair and just place.”

For more information, visit the author’s website at www.miriamauerbach.com.


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Laura Kennedy - Like Mother, Like Daughter

Most little girls want to grow up to be just like their mommies. They try on their mothers’ shoes, play dress-up in their clothes, use their make-up, or, in the case of Tarpon Springs writer Laura Kennedy, borrow their typewriters. “I like to say I learned writing in the womb,” she says. Born in Minneapolis, Kennedy knew as a small child that she was destined to become a writer. “My mom was a romance writer,” she says. “She wrote two stories a month for True Confessions magazine for 35 years to help support the family. As a child, I thought all moms wrote.”

 At age 22, now married and a mom herself, Kennedy borrowed her mother’s typewriter and wrote her first story. “I sent it to True Confessions and got $225 for it,” she recalls. “That was a lot of money at the time.” Over the next 10 years, she “had babies at a rapid rate” – three girls and a boy in four years – and wrote 30 stories, selling 24. Then Kennedy moved to Florida to be near her mother and thought she’d try her luck at writing a novel.

In 1980, with four teenagers at home, Kennedy wrote, and later self-published, a novel titled See Mommy Run, the story of a mother who runs away from her teenage daughter. “In the reviews, women either loved it or hated it,” she says.  In 2013, she found a publisher for Double Take, her young adult novel reminiscent of Sunset Boulevard. It tells the story of 16-year-old Brooke Bentley who befriends Laura de France, a reclusive aging actress.  As Brooke falls under Laura’s spell, she finds herself losing control of her life and being drawn into Laura’s fantasy. The inspiration for Double Take was Beyond the Twelve-Mile Reef, a 1953 movie filmed in Tarpon Springs. Laura de France was patterned after Sharon Randall, a 92-year-old actress and the sister of Kennedy’s friend. “She grew up in Hollywood, and her mom raised her to be in movies,” Kennedy explains. “She was signed by MGM when (Mickey) Rooney and (Judy) Garland worked there.” Kirkus Reviews praised Double Take for its  “…realistic conversations…” and “…multiple engaging plot twists…”. Fittingly, Kennedy dedicated the book “To my mother, Marguerite McClain, who taught me how to write and is now giving writing classes in heaven.”

Surf Shop Sisters, the prequel to Double Take, was released in 2016. The young adult novel follows Brooke in her junior year of high school. “I love little Brooke,” Kennedy says. “She’s so real to me, I talk about her as if she’s my granddaughter.” Surf Shop Sisters won a Royal Palm Literary Award for Young Adult fiction.

Kennedy’s adult romance, The Breeding of Lilacs, was released by Melange Publishing as a Satin Romance imprint in May 2016. The Breeding of Lilacs is an adult novel that introduces Brooke as a secondary character and centers around her mother’s affair with a Greek man.The story follows Barbie Bentley, a woman with great kids, a gorgeous home, loyal friends and a successful husband.  Yet she’s unhappy, longing for something to fill the emptiness in her heart. She returns to college where she meets a handsome Greek pre-med student, Nick Diamandis.  Friendship morphs into an affair, and Barbie unwittingly becomes mixed up in a crime scene where police suspect her of being involved. Kirkus Reviews praised the novel as "a fun romance with a serious core"

Unfortunately, sales have been on the sluggish side.  “There could be a lot of reasons,” Kennedy muses.“In retrospect, my editor Nancy Schumacher and I feel the culprit is the title.When I pull my novel up on Amazon it appears just above a guide on how to raise lilacs.” With this in mind Kennedy and Schumacher have decided on a new release.  It will be the same novel and same cover by prize-winning artist Caroline Andrus. However, Kennedy is on a search for a new and intriguing title.

That’s where you readers come in. “ Beginning this very moment, we are asking for your input,” Kennedy says. “Cast your vote for one of our tentative titles and/or create one yourself. For more about Barbie, you can look her up under the current title The Breeding of Lilacs on Amazon, Smashwords, Lulu or Barnes & Noble. The winners will receive an all paid trip to....  Just kidding.  Actually, first, second and third place winners will receive an autographed copy of the novel when released with the new title plus a T-shirt bearing an imprint of the new cover.  So fire up the old cerebellum or whatever wiring we have in our brains and think.”

Here are the selections:  Your input on proposed titles will count just as much as an original suggestion.  You may vote for one of our titles AND suggest a title of your own. 
  1. Affairs, Fibs and Felonies
  2. Affairs and Fibs
  3. Lies and Love Affairs                                       OR
  4. Your title
You may vote for one of the suggested titles, explaining why you like it, or suggest a title of your own. Please send your entry to:  laurakennedybell@tampabay.rr.com. The contest will begin on Thursday, June 1st and conclude at midnight on Sunday, June 4th