Great Summer Read

Finding Colin Firth
Mia March
Threshold, Pocket Books

Finding Colin Firth was great fun. The story follows several women in a small town in Maine where they happen to be filming a Colin Firth movie. One way or another they all end up in each other’s lives: one who has given up a baby 22 years before and has returned to her hometown, her grown up daughter who only recently found out she was adopted, and an unemployed journalist trying to come to terms with impending motherhood.

I enjoyed the themes running throughout the story while it remained lighthearted and sweet. It would be a great read for the beach or anytime you wanted a break from real life. Kudos to the author… it was just what I needed at the time I picked it up. :)

(I got a copy of this to review from Netgalley.)

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Meet Ellie Flynn

Ellie Flynn is a dancer. Well, she’s studying dance as part of her performing arts training… you see, she wants to be on Broadway someday. Eight shows a week. It’s her big dream. She can already see herself up on the stage accepting her first Tony Award for a featured role in a musical. Aside from that, she’s like any other girl. She has friends, she enjoys going to the movies, she likes to hang out on Tumblr. Then one day, everything changed. Something happened. She may never dance again.

Was she in an accident? Was she attacked? Was she abducted? It was something even more insidious. It was something she couldn’t predict. Something she couldn’t guard against. Something that seemed so commonplace, so normal, even, that it didn’t even cross her mind that it could change her life for the worse. That it could alter her plans. Make her friends leave. Ruin her dreams.

Ellie got the flu.

Ellie’s story is currently being written… I hope you’ll enjoy it when it’s done. :)

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Hearing Loss Awareness Month

Today we have a guest post from my friend Tara Chevrestt. Her post is personal for me, as I know many people with hearing loss. Some choose to use sign language, and some choose to speak. I hope you’ll take a moment and enjoy her post. This is something we should all be aware of.

The month of May is Hearing Loss Awareness Month. I’d like everyone to take a moment…not just now, not just this week or even this month, but try to remember throughout the year, that millions of people throughout the United States have hearing loss.

Some tips for the hearing world:

-The next time you speak to someone in a public place and they don’t acknowledge you, don’t just automatically assume they’re being rude. Stop a minute and ask yourself, “Did they hear me?” Maybe they have hearing loss. Hearing loss isn’t a visible illness. You don’t SEE it. Hearing aids can be well hidden.

-Make it a habit of speaking clearly and enunciating your words. Don’t mumble; don’t stare at the ground; don’t talk too fast. Try to make sure people are looking at you when you speak to them. This was a rule taught in my household growing up, regardless of if someone had a hearing impairment or not. Back in those days, it was a sign of respect to look at someone when they speak to you and vice versa. We need to bring this back.

-Facial hair…is a nightmare for us hard of hearing lip-readers. If we can’t see your lips, we don’t understand you. Men, keep that hair trimmed.

-Do not assume that because we can’t hear, that we’re any different from you. I can get married (I am!), I can have children, I can drive, I can ride a bike. I can do everything you can do, except HEAR. This does not in any way or form hinder my mental capabilities or make me dumb. Let’s separate deaf and dumb. It’s past time.

-Do not speak to us as though we are slow. Speak normally. There’s a big difference in plain enunciation (speaking clearly) and spending one minute on each word you utter. Don’t draw it out and move your mouth in an exaggerated fashion. We learn to lip-read normal moving lips, not comical.

-Don’t yell at us. Many of us are deaf to certain sounds and it doesn’t matter how loud you say it, it won’t get through. Plain and simple: if you’re not speaking clearly, we won’t understand it. Your quiet blah blah blah maw wah just becomes a very loud BLAH BLAH BLAH MAW WAH.

-Don’t leave us out of things and talk over our heads. We feel ostracized. When everyone around us is laughing at a good joke, we want to laugh too! Include us. Make an effort. If you feel it’s too much work to talk to us, we’re going to decide it’s too much work to be your friend. And you could really miss out on a good friendship.

-Hearing helpers are just that: HELPERS. If you’re asked to be a hearing helper, don’t permit others to speak to you as though we aren’t there. Don’t answer for us. If someone says to you, “What does she want to eat?” do not tell them, “She wants pizza.” A hearing helper should turn to the deaf person and say, “He asked what you wanted to eat.” We can and will answer for ourselves. Be careful not to take over and remember to just help. We do value our independence.

-Don’t say something and then get mad when we ask you to repeat it for the second or third time. Count to ten if you have to, but try to avoid that callous “never mind”. If you said it once, I’m going to assume you wanted me to hear it. It must be important enough. It’s very frustrating when people do this.

-Cochlear implants and medical procedures of that ilk are personal matters. Do not try to fix us. Many of us are happy the way we are and have no desire to change. We don’t see ourselves as broken or in need of fixing, so don’t act like we are.

-Teach your kids that we’re no different from them, that deaf isn’t dumb, that hearing aids are nothing to be ashamed of. Talk to your children about bullying and its long-term effects.

Thank you for your time. In honor of Hearing Loss Awareness Month, I’d like to announce that two of my titles, one my memoir of growing up deaf and working in a hearing world (Hear Through My Ears) and one (Love Request) a contemporary novel featuring a hearing-”impaired” heroine, are on sale for 99 cents the rest of May.

Tara Chevrestt is a deaf woman, former aviation mechanic, dog mom, writer, and editor. You’ll never see her without her Kindle or a book within reach. As a child, she would often take a flashlight under the covers to finish the recent Nancy Drew novel when she was supposed to be sleeping.

Tara is addicted to Law & Order: SVU, has a crush on Cary Grant, laughs at her own jokes, and is constantly modifying recipes and experimenting in the kitchen. Her theme is Strong is Sexy. She writes about strong women facing obstacles—in the military, with their handicaps, or just learning to accept themselves. Her heroines can stand alone and take care of themselves, but they often find love in the process.

You can connect with her on Facebook or follow her blog.




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A Visit

Our final excerpt this week is when Lord Pirrie, Tom’s uncle, visits Alice after she testifies before the Senate inquiry. If you still haven’t gotten your FREE copy, today’s your last chance. Get it here.

Alice was in her hotel room when a knock came at her door. She opened it slightly, to see who it was. A very distinguished looking gentleman stood in the hall. He had white hair and a beard. He was rather short. A smile lit up his face.

“Miss Alice Clarke?” he asked.

“Yes,” she answered tentatively.

“I’m Lord William Pirrie, owner of the shipyard that built the Titanic. May I speak with you?”

She hesitated a moment, then opened the door. Whatever could such an important man want with her? After they’d taken seats, she waited for him to begin.

“I won’t waste your time, my dear, I know you’re not feeling well,” he began. “I was at the inquiry today, and I heard your testimony about my nephew.”

“Your nephew? Who is your nephew?”

“Oh, I apologize. Of course, you wouldn’t know our relationship. My nephew was Mr. Thomas Andrews.” A sadness crossed his face that tore at her heart.

“I see, Lord Pirrie. And what may I do for you?”

“I just wanted to speak with you, my dear. You are probably the last person who remembers seeing our Tommy alive. If you don’t mind indulging an old man’s fancy, I’d like to hear you speak of him again. I miss him dearly.” Lord Pirrie’s voice caught in his throat. He coughed slightly to clear it and took out his handkerchief, dabbing quickly at his eyes.

“I’m sorry, sir, for your loss. I’m sure it must be very difficult for you.” Alice poured him a cup of tea and handed it over. “I apologize if I’ve said anything to make it worse.”

“No, no, my dear. You’re fine.” He took a sip of tea. “I’m fine now, thank you. At the inquiry, you fainted after you spoke of my nephew. I would be obliged if you could tell me anything else you remember.”

Alice thought back to that last evening on the ship. Should she tell Tom’s uncle of their relationship? Could she even give voice to it? No, she couldn’t. Not even to this man hoping to hear of Tom’s last moments. “Well, I was carrying little Henry, and we were going up to the boat deck. We passed through the lounge on our way, and there was To—Mr. Andrews, sitting in front of the fireplace. He was looking at the painting hanging above it. He turned and looked at me. I stopped.” Alice’s eyes misted over as she remembered.

“I remember thinking how sad he looked.” She gazed into space, replaying the scene in her mind. Without thinking, she relayed what she remembered. “Then he got up and came towards me. He embraced me and asked for forgiveness. He pressed a pocket watch in my hand, and told me to take care of it.” She snapped out of her reverie. “I had forgotten that part. In all the excitement of the sinking, and everything since, I forgot all about that.”

Alice got up and crossed over to her meager belongings. She rummaged inside a bag for a moment, then drew out a gold pocket watch. She turned it over and over in her hands before holding it briefly to her heart, then went back to Lord Pirrie. She held it out to him. “It was his watch, sir. You should have it.”

Lord Pirrie took the watch and held it tightly for a moment, closing his eyes. Then he opened his hand and stared at the watch. He’d given it to Thomas. A tear welled in his eye and his lip trembled. “Thank you.” He looked at her kindly. “Do you remember anything else?”

“No, after that, I took Henry up on deck and we were placed in a boat. I’m sorry for your loss, sir.” Alice reached out and put her hand over Lord Pirrie’s hand in comfort.

He smiled at her. “You are a remarkable young woman, Miss Clarke. I can see why Tommy entrusted this watch to you.” He looked at her kindly. Perhaps he understood more than she had told him. “Perhaps you should keep it. He gave it to you.”

“Oh, I couldn’t, sir. It should be with his family.” She blushed.

“You know, young lady, I gave him this watch. He gave it to you. He must have had a compelling reason, or he would have kept it with him. You keep it. I insist.” He pressed the watch into her hand. The gesture felt so similar to when Tom had given it to her, she felt a bit lightheaded with the rush of memory.

She sat down carefully, holding the watch. “Thank you, sir. I promise to cherish it.”

“Well, I’ll be on my way. Thank you for making an old man happy, Miss Clarke. You gave me a little bit of my nephew’s last moments. I cannot repay that kindness.” Lord Pirrie stood up and headed to the door. He turned back for a moment. “If there is ever anything I can do for you, please let me know. I’ll leave my card.” He took a calling card out of his pocket and set it on the table. “Good day, Miss Clarke.”

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Alice Testifies

Today’s excerpt is when Alice testifies before the Senate committee investigating the Titanic disaster. Don’t forget to pick up your FREE copy here. :)

Alice sat quietly, waiting for her turn to be called to testify. It had been several weeks since the sinking. She kept her hands folded in her lap and she gazed at the floor. Her thoughts wandered back to the sinking, trying to remember all the details. It all seemed a blur.

“Miss Clarke, would you please come in now?” A tall gentleman held the door open for her. She rose and entered the room. The gentleman guided her to a seat in front of the committee.

“Will you please state your name and place of residence?” one of the senators asked.

“Alice Clarke; formerly of London, England. Right now I’m staying in New York, but I’m not sure where I’ll end up.” Her voice sounded tiny and strange to her ears.

“What was your purpose in boarding the Titanic?”

“I was in the employ of Mr. and Mrs. Fillbrook, of Montreal, Canada. I had been engaged to look after their infant son, Henry Fillbrook.”

“How long did you work for the Fillbrooks?”

“I had just been hired a week earlier, sir.” Alice dared to dart a glance at the men asking the questions. They seemed so serious and proper. The one in the center, a Senator Smith, seemed to be asking most of the questions.

“And did any of the Fillbrooks survive?”

“Only Henry, sir. I took him aboard a lifeboat.”

“None of the others survived?”

“No, sir.”

“How many of the Fillbrook family were on board?”

Alice paused a moment to steady herself. Tears were welling in her eyes. “There was Mr. and Mrs. Fillbrook, their daughter, Claire, who was two years old, and Henry, who was ten months.”

“Very well. Would you please tell us, Miss Clarke, what happened?” Senator Smith looked directly at her for the first time.

“Well, sir,” she began. Her hands twisted a handkerchief. “Sarah—that’s the other nurse—she and I watched the children. Mr. and Mrs. Fillbrook looked in on them from time to time. Sarah and I had gone to bed. The children were already asleep, you see. I felt something different with the ship, but I went back to sleep.” She dare not tell the truth of where she had been with Tom. “A knock sounded at the door, and I got up to open it. A steward was there. He told us to dress warmly and put on our lifebelts. Sarah and I talked about it for a couple of minutes, wondering what had happened. We got dressed and packed some things for the children, sir. Then we took the children to their parents’ room.”

“And then what happened, Miss Clarke?”

“We sat there for several minutes. The children were cranky because they had been awakened, which distressed Mrs. Fillbrook. Mr. Fillbrook was saying that there was nothing to worry about and we should all go back to bed.”

“Go back to bed? Even after the stewards told you to put on lifebelts?” The senator looked at her.

“Yes, sir. Another steward opened the door and advised us to go to the boat deck. Mr. Fillbrook told him to go away.”

“He told the steward to go away?” He wrote something down.

“Yes, sir.” Alice’s voice got quiet.

“Did he change his mind?”

“No, sir. I was getting frightened. I grabbed Henry and the bag I had packed and rushed out the door.”

“Against the wishes of your employer?”

“Yes, sir.” Alice dropped her eyes to the floor. “I was that scared. And I couldn’t leave little Henry there.”

“All right. Then what did you do?”

“I ended up in a right crowd of passengers. We were making our way through the first class smoking room, I know ladies don’t usually go there, but I was following the path the other passengers were taking. I had Henry in my arms. No one seemed to be in a big rush. They took their time, stopping to talk to others, blocking the way.”

“Did you see anyone you knew or recognized?”

“I saw Mr. Andrews, sir. He was sitting near the big white mantel in the middle of the room. He looked distracted. Distracted and worried, sir.”

“How did you know Mr. Andrews?”

Should she speak up? She didn’t want to lie under oath, but she didn’t want his indiscretion to shame his memory. A partial truth, that would probably be best. “I met him in the library, sir. He introduced himself and asked me to recommend him a book. I remembered him because I thought he was,” her voice dropped even lower, “rather handsome, sir. He remained in my mind.”

“I see. You say he seemed distracted?”

“Yes, sir. He looked right worried. And sad.”

“Sad, you say?” Senator Smith leaned forward. This was the first testimony he’d heard regarding the ship’s designer at this juncture of the disaster.

“Yes, sir.”

“Was he doing anything?”

“Just sitting, sir. He looked at me and my heart just broke.” Alice’s voice cracked. Her hand raised to cover her mouth as tears spilled. The air suddenly felt overly warm and the room began to swim.

“What lifeboat were you on?”

The words weren’t making sense any longer; she covered her face with her hands and closed her eyes for a moment.

“Some of the other witnesses have mentioned a mystery ship. Did you see a light while you were in the lifeboat?”

“A light. Yes, sir. It seemed to sit—” Heat quickly traveled up her body, and the room became very bright before going dark.

Alice woke up in an office. Someone had carried her to a sofa and lain her down until she recovered. It took a while for her to remember she had been at the inquiry.

“What happened?” she asked.

“You fainted while you were testifying. How do you feel?” A woman in a gray dress was sitting near her. She leaned forward so Alice could see her easily.

“Oh.” Alice tried to sit up, but she felt woozy.

“Just lie back. Let me bring the doctor.”

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