Books by Melissa Bowersock

Friday, December 23, 2016

After Christmas Sale!

How many of you are getting new tablets for Christmas? How many of you are anxious to fill up that new tablet (or the old one) with oodles of good books? I'm here to help! Just as a way to say thank you to all my fans and start the new year off right, I've put all of my books on sale for just 99 cents. You heard me correctly--ALL of my books. All seventeen of them. You like fantasy? Romance? Paranormal? Western? Action/Adventure? Satire? Biography? I've got something for everyone. Take a gander at the books below and see what 99 cents will get you. Where 99 cents will take you. Sale is good through January 1, 2017.

(Western Adventure)
When Ross Garvey's prized Appaloosa is stolen from his Colorado ranch, he fully intends to hunt down the thieves in their New Mexico hideout and regain his best broodmare. What he doesn't count on is bull-headed, fifteen year old Jaimie Callahan, whose horse was also stolen by the same thieves. And he certainly does not anticipate the beautiful Mexican girl who's dealing with the thieves, nor the fact that an entire company of Mexican troops is in on the deal!

TheBlue Crystal (Fantasy)
In the realm of Zor, the tyrant Mal-Zor is maniacal in his quest for the mythical Blue Crystal of power sends generations of innocents to their deaths in the crystal mines. Jared, a young farmer from a small isolated village, has paid scant attention to the distant troubles until his younger siblings are taken as slaves. Jared vows to free them and his quest soon becomes enmeshed in the most magical power struggle imaginable. Accompanied by a recalcitrant halfling, mounted on a huge black lion and supported by an aging wizard and his daughter, Jared prepares to challenge the king and claim his hidden destiny. 

(Paranormal Suspense/Romance)
When Jennifer and Robert Stinson buy a beautifully restored Victorian house, the last thing they expect is to share their home with a ghost―especially one with a penchant for setting fires. Unfortunately the ghostly arson only creates more tension in their already strained marriage. Jen launches her own investigation into the history of her house and discovers a surprising ally in a sympathetic fire captain. But can she unravel the mystery of the fires before they consume her home, her marriage … and her life?

Travis Merrill’s life isn’t going according to plan. He’s quit several career paths, his wife has left him, and his only solace is volunteering to portray a cavalry surgeon at historic Fort Verde in Arizona, a place where time seems to stand still. When a weird trick of time actually sends him back to the year 1877, he’s boxed into impersonating the post surgeon for real. Unfortunately, he finds his medical knowledge is no match for the primitive practices of the day, and he’s forced to make life or death decisions, not always successfully. He wonders if he will ever be able to return to his own time, or if he might find a life—and a love—140 years in the past.

Two years ago, a weird trick of time sent Travis Merrill spiraling from 2016 to the year 1877. Committed now to his life in frontier Arizona, Travis is married with a child on the way and is homesteading a ranch. His knowledge of the future, however, keeps him at odds with his neighbors, his friends… and his wife. He finds it more and more difficult to protect his home without alienating his family, yet he can’t ignore what he knows is – and will be – true.

(Paranormal Suspense/Romance)
Julia Martin, newly-divorced but still reeling from her husband’s infidelity, takes a much needed vacation to visit old college friends in Germany. While touring a little-known concentration camp and museum, she spontaneously experiences a violent past life memory of being murdered in this very camp during the Holocaust. Efforts to understand her memories only lead to more questions, the largest being: is her killer still alive? Supported by her friends and comforted in the arms of a handsome doctor, Julia strives to uncover the mysteries of her past life and find justice for the person she used to be.

GoddessRising (Spiritual Fantasy)
It is the future, and a global geologic holocaust has destroyed civilization, leaving only a tiny fraction of people to rebuild scattered colonies. Reduced to a primitive state, they live close to the earth and cultivate a Goddess worship, and chosen ones dream a prophecy that Greer, a female savior, will return them to greatness. An epic and magical story of one woman’s exceptional destiny during exceptional times, Goddess Rising follows Greer’s journey from simple obscurity to prophesied reign. Acknowledged as the face of the Goddess on earth, Greer discovers the rewards of power—and its price—as she struggles through her own labyrinth of fear and desire, sexuality and sacrifice, love and death.

LightningStrikes (Contemporary Romance)
Jessie Evans is a free-lance journalist, emphasis on the "free," with no plans to tie herself down. While researching a story in Flagstaff about Indian influences in Arizona, however, she encounters Lucas Shay, a smoldering paradox who is part Indian, part architect and all man. Whether igniting her temper with his arrogance or challenging her beliefs with his laser-like insight, Jessie can't deny that Lucas sets fire to her soul as well.

Love’sSavage Armpit by Amber Flame (Satire) (Originally published as The Pits of Passion)
Sealed to the man in an arranged marriage, Elizabeth rides the surging tide of shock and denial, lust and love, as she is swept from the manicured gardens of England to the savage shores of Africa and the wilds of the New World, never quite sure which Captain Elliott is the man she loves. Warning! This satiric romp is NOT your mother's romance novel!

Clay Bauer, at the age of 38, is a second-rate actor in Hollywood. He’s too mean-looking to get leading man roles in movies, so he’s resigned himself to playing only villains. While filming a low-budget Western in the red rocks of Sedona, Arizona, he hears about the vortices there — places of power where people claim to have strange experiences, even traveling to other dimensions. He doesn't believe any of it — until he accidentally passes through a vortex and is transported more than 100 years into the past. Suddenly he’s faced with playing the most important role of his life. Only this time, it’s for real.

Marcia L. Gates was an Army nurse and prisoner of war during WWII. As an “Angel of Bataan,” she spent three years in a Japanese internment camp in the Philippines. This is her award-winning story, told through her letters and the newspaper clippings, photos and letters collected by her mother. The book was awarded a medal for biography by both the Military Writers Society of America and Stars and and won honorable mentions at the Hollywood Book Festival and the Great Midwest Book Festival. It was featured in the documentary Our Wisconsin: The Military History of America's Dairyland produced by WKOW-TV in Madison.

Queen’s Gold(Action/Adventure)
Hal Thompson is a pretty ordinary guy. A widower who owns his own small business, he's doing his best to raise his two nearly adult children alone. When they convince him to undergo a hypnotic past-life regression, he is unimpressed that his "memories" reveal the hiding place of ancient Aztec gold. Other people, however, take it very seriously and when his family is threatened, he is forced to plunge into the jungles of Mexico, battling treacherous terrain, lethal wildlife and the haunting feeling of a love that spans centuries. Can he find the gold before it claims more lives? Or will he lose the love of his life ... again?  

The Rare Breed(Historical Romance)
The daughter of a white woman and an Indian brave, Catherine Boudry had spent the first thirteen years of her life among the Cheyenne. Restored at last to her mother’s wealthy parents, Cathy blossomed into womanhood surrounded by all the “civilized” comforts of the white man’s world. But at the age of twenty, the lure of her Indian heritage drew her back to the western plains. It was a journey that would awaken her to the joy and agony of passion in the arms of two very different men—Jory, the virile young trapper, and Barred Owl, the Cheyenne brave to whom she had been pledged in marriage long ago.

RememberMe (Contemporary Romance)
Elly Cole wakes up bruised and battered in a hospital-and has no idea who she is or how she got there. Her brooding giant of a husband informs her that she had been fleeing with her lover who was killed in the car accident that left her injured, that she is pregnant with that lover's child and that she has nowhere else to go but home-with him. Struggling against the threat of her husband's dangerous rage and jealousy, Elly strives to regain her memory and reconstruct the life she left behind, wondering how she could ever have loved this man who hates her.

(Contemporary Women’s Fiction)
Trish Munroe never planned to be a caregiver, but circumstances have conspired to make her responsible for her elderly Aunt Heidi. Trish does her best to balance the demands of her job, her love life and Heidi’s advancing Alzheimer’s, but the pressure is taking its toll. When Heidi passes away, there’s a bittersweet reprieve until Trish uncovers a family secret of forbidden love that takes her on a tragic yet triumphant journey of the heart.

Stone’sGhost (Paranormal)
Matthew Stone doesn't believe in ghosts … until he meets one. He owns a successful business in Lake Havasu, Arizona, home to the famed London Bridge that was brought over stone by stone and rebuilt over the Colorado River. He has a gorgeous girlfriend, a doting mother, and more money than he needs, but no time for stories about the ghosts who were transplanted from England with the famed bridge. When a chance encounter with a female ghost leads to unexpected friendship, Matt and the ghost are forced to rely on each other as they confront the pasts that haunt them.

SuperstitionGold (Historical Romance)
Married and widowed within a 24-hour period, beautiful Leigh Banning watches as her storybook New Orleans life crumbles away piece by piece. In a heartbroken attempt to start over, she travels to the wilds of frontier Arizona in an effort to understand the father she never knew and is rewarded with gold from the legendary Lost Dutchman gold mine in the Superstition Mountains. The gold comes with a price tag, however—the murder of innocent people. Leigh’s quest for justice leads her to a remote Apache camp in the company of a proud Pima Indian and a handsome cavalry officer. Torn between the fiery kisses of the Major and the respectful love of the Pima, Leigh joins forces with the Apaches to battle gold-hungry killers and in the process discovers her true self and her one true love.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Author Interview: Carol Paukstis and Illustrator Jean Polowski Reilly

I’m sitting down to have a chat with two cousins who have collaborated on a new children’s book called The Sun is Awake. Although I have not read the book, it’s obvious it’s a labor of love. The concept is endearing—quality time for a child with his grandmother—and the illustrations are charming.

Carol and Jean, rather than try to ask each of you separate questions, I’m going to leave this wide open. You can trade off, choose the best one to answer, or both give answers to the same question. It’s entirely your call.

MJB: First off, can you give us a brief overview of the book? What’s the thrust of the story? What age group is it written for?

Carol: This culturally diverse book is about treasured memories at grandmother’s house and the unconditional love that the grandmother has for her grandson.  The story, narrated by the grandson, tells us about his overnight stay and how he and his grandmother enjoyed many activities:  playing with trains, playing ball outside, eating his favorite foods, reading books and playing shadow puppet games.

The thrust of the story is to encourage all grandparents worldwide to spend time with their grandchildren, whenever possible, thus spreading sunshine in their lives.

The book is written for children ages 3 – 5.

MJB: I have a sneaking suspicion the book is autobiographical in some respect. What family memories are you drawing on for the story? Did you each contribute to the story line?

Carol:I remember living with my grandmother when I was two and after we moved, I always looked forward to visiting her and sleeping with her and enjoying helping her cook, organize her pantry, wash clothes with a wringer washer, pick cherries, pretend to sew on her pedal sewing machine, play the player piano, and ride my pretend horse using her fence.  My grandmother loved me unconditionally and we had a special relationship.  When I became a grandmother (a Grammy) I wanted to be a special part of my grandsons lives and play with them, read to them, take them places, teach them some life skills, make memories with them, share my talents with them and love them unconditionally.  I patterned this after my relationship with my grandmother. 

I wrote the story a few years ago and it just evolved from there with both Jean and I having it critiqued by various friends and colleagues.

Jean: I always held this notion for writing a children's book as I always loved and used children's book in my classroom (and I still buy and read them).  Also I've always enjoyed crafting. I travel extensively with my husband so drawing was very mobile form of art and required few tools. At the time, it satisfied my creative requirement, so I became interested in illustrating.

MJB: How did the idea for the story evolve? Who started the ball rolling between the two of you?

Carol: When my grandson was 3, he came to spend the night and the next morning he came into my bedroom, tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Grammy, Grammy, it’s time to get up, the sun is awake.” That planted the seed and I started to write about what we did when he visited.

 A few years ago, while visiting with my cousin, Jean, in Arizona, I shared my ideas about the book I was writing.  In the meantime, I mentioned I was looking for an illustrator. I remembered Jean sending me a drawing of my grandson that she had done using a photograph of him.  It was so good, so I knew if she was up to illustrating the book, I was willing to have her as the illustrator. And she agreed.

Jean: We have our own recollection about how we became involved, but just as The Sun is Awake is the grandson's recollection of his visit at Grammys. Grammy probably has her own recollections about her grandson's visit but that would be another story.   I remember taking my first online class on how to illustrate a children's book and needed a story to illustrate for the class assignment.  That's when I remembered Carol mentioning she had a children's story she was developing about her grandson's visits.  That is when I called her to ask her if I could use her story for the class assignment.  It was a huge learning curve but each class brought me closer to the product.  I did find children book creators to be kind and generous sharing their knowledge.  I learned so much about form, style, “the ultimate page turner” and now about self publishing.

Your very popular workshop on Self-Publishing with Amazon came at the perfect time as we were ready to open an account with CreateSpace and needed answers to all of our many questions which your workshop provided.

MJB: Well, that was good timing, wasn’t it? I’m glad my workshop answered your questions and allowed you to move forward in your process. Is there a moral to the story? 

Carol: The only moral that comes to my mind is the love that is between a grandmother and her grandchildren and the fun that they can share.

MJB: What would you expect to have most readers take away from the book?

Carol: I would hope it encourages a grandparent to think about their memories of their grandchildren and to perhaps want to spend more time with them.  The activities in the book are rather inexpensive, thus enabling most grandparents to be able to use the ideas with their grandchildren.  The whole thrust of the book is making memories. Jean: I hope the readers take away a warm feeling of recollections of their own children's bright and inventive sayings that only children can create.  One reader said, I really loved the title so much... My younger son, when he was 3...said that the moon has a house on wheels and it goes on a ride during the day. The title reminded me of that…

MJB: Very cute story, and I would guess many children have similar ideas. As a solitary author, I’m always fascinated by the idea of collaboration, mostly because I can’t imagine doing it. How did you two work together? What was your process? Did Carol do all and only the writing? Did Jean do all and only the illustration? Or was there some back-and-forth to it?

Carol: We had a great time.  Jean and I are first cousins and even though we were always separated by several states (AZ–Jean and MI–me) and countries, we have a special connection.  We saw each other whenever they came to Michigan and would “play” together.  Both of us became teachers, so we had that bond and then I started going to AZ to visit her family and I even spent 2 weeks with her and her husband when they lived in Alaska.  It’s like having a special friend that you don’t see that often, but when you do, you just pick up where you left of the last time you saw each other. So when we started to work on the book, Jean spent two weeks with me in the summer.  We did a lot of brainstorming and planning. From then on, we corresponded by e-mail and phone.  I still can’t believe how it came about and was finalized.  My dream came true.  I thank God for our deep cousin relationship and commitment to getting the job done that helped to bring the book to fruition. Jean was the sole illustrator and did such a good job.  She took many classes to help her. She always kept me informed of her progress.

Jean: Carol wrote the basic framework of the story but I think we both wrote it. We welcomed critiques by family, friends,  instructors, classmates,  plus some of the members of SCBWI (the Society of Children’s Book Writers andIllustrators) but ultimately it became our own as did the illustrations.

MJB: As collaborators, did you have any challenges working together? Any disagreements on the story or the direction it was going? And if so, how did you resolve them?

Carol:  There were some challenges in working together because of the physical distance between us.  Last winter I had the winter doldrums and had my doubts if the book would ever come together. But I made it through that and Jean helped to perk me up and got me back on track by taking an awesome book publishing class and she kept me informed via e mail.   So I got back on track and that’s when we really moved forward.

We only had one mild disagreement involving the very last page of the book, but we managed to discuss it and that page was changed.  I was able to communicate my feelings with Jean without any difficulties.  We had the gift of cousin collaboration.

Jean: I never thought it would take this long to develop and illustrate a children's book but there is a lot to learn and life changes take up space so the many years is what was required. Carol was very patent and supportive.

Also I think we realized that we must be open to help but also knowing, believing and having faith it would be completed.  I found an online class that outlined a 10 month-plan to complete a book with self-publishing.  I took every deadline seriously and here we are with a book on  It was an amazing journey, not a sprint but a marathon.

MJB: It sounds like it’s been quite a journey! But I’m glad you persevered and kept moving forward, and now you’ve got the book done and it’s on Amazon. Nothing cooler than that. I’m assuming this book has been grandchild-tested. How was it received? What’s the reaction you’ve gotten from the book so far?

Carol: The book was grandchild-tested.  I sat down with both of my grandsons and read it to them.  They became engaged with the book.  My daughter said that my older grandson really appreciated the book, and he was touched that his Grammy would write a book about him. The youngest one could relate to the activities, as I have done some of the same things with him.

So far, the book has been well received.  Everyone likes it and says it was written with love and the illustrations are so “real” and touching.   My former neighbor (age 91), cried as she was reading it.  The tears were joyful tears bringing back memories of her grandchildren’s visits.

MJB: That’s a great endorsement right there. (Now you need to get those folks to leave reviews on Amazon for the book.) So what’s next for the team of Paukstis and Reilly? Are there other books in the making? Perhaps going after a different age group or style of story?

Carol: What is next for Jean and I… perhaps a book about my other grandson or a compilation of activities to do with grandchildren inspired by ideas of surveying many grandmothers with grandchildren of all ages.

Jean:  Need to stay open... never know what may be next.

MJB: That’s definitely the truth. But if you’re anything like me, I think you’ll find that new ideas keep propagating from the earlier ones, and the projects take on a life of their own. If people want to know more about you two and the book, what’s the best way for them to find that?

Carol: Right now, I am busy marketing the book through Amazon books The Sun is Awake, I have completed an Amazon author page, I am on Twitter and LinkedIn; my plans are to develop a website and a blog by Christmas!  I plan on sharing the book with libraries, Senior Citizen Centers, independent book stores, and at local “meet the author” and book signings.  I am open to more suggestions.

Carol's Amazon Author page
Carol's LinkedIn page
Carol's Twitter page

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Perfection in Writing: No Excuses

A while back, Stephen Hise was featured on a blog talking about what it takes to be a successful indie writer. Or rather, what it takes to not be a successful indie writer. He points out all the places were a writer might fall short, either in expectation, attitude or in deed. One of the reasons an author might not do well is:
You are big on excuses.
Indie-land is a no-excuse zone. Don’t put out some typo-riddled book with a cheesy, amateurish cover and expect people to overlook its flaws just because you’re an indie. Help is out there. You can hire it or you can learn some new skills. You can even find folks who will help you get it right, or trade their services for something you do well.
This reminded me of something I read, oh, about 35 years ago in a photography magazine. I am a photographer in my spare time, sometimes professionally but mostly not. I had my own photography business ages ago—shot some weddings, shot some portraits, even won some awards. I used to read photo magazines religiously. I don’t now remember which magazine it was or who the author was, but I read this article about being a professional photographer. I will paraphrase what I read, or at least what I remember through the lens of all those years:
Don’t show anything that is not perfect. When people are looking at your photographs, they only care about the image in front of them. They don’t care that the light was absolutely breathtaking just five minutes before you shot that photo. They don’t care that the bull elk in the photo locked eyes with you just seconds before turning away as you took the shot. Your explanation for why that photo is not absolute perfection — your excuse — does not matter to them. If it’s not perfect, don’t even bother to show it.
Harsh as it is, that’s a piece of advice that stuck with me all these years and has served me in more ways than I can count. Any time I put anything in front of the public, be it a photo or a book or even just a blog post, I remember that. Whatever we produce, whatever we put out there, must stand on its own merits. The viewer/reader does not know — does not need to know — and does not care about any extenuating circumstances about why our production is not perfect. Forget all about explaining. Forget about rationalizing. If it’s not perfect, forget about putting it out there.
Now before you start warming up the tar and gathering feathers and start screaming at me about the unattainability of perfection even in traditionally-published books (see Stephen’s earlier post on that), I get it. Perfection is the golden ring that hangs just nanometers from our fingertips. It’s the impossible dream. It’s not realistic. It may be completely and always unattainable. But that doesn’t mean we don’t strive for it.
So how do we know when we’re close enough? How do we know when our work is good enough to put out there in front of the public? Remember that photography article. Remember what Stephen said.
No excuses.
If you’re pushing the “publish” button while thinking, I should go through this one more time but I already blogged and tweeted about the release date and I can’t be late, you’re not done yet.
If you’re pushing the “publish” button while thinking, What was that thing that one beta-reader said about some of my paragraphs not transitioning smoothly? Well, I can go back later and check on that, you’re not done yet.
If you’re pushing the “publish” button while thinking, I’d really like to develop that middle part a bit more but I’m just so sick of looking at this over and over, you’re not done yet.
If you’re pushing the “publish” button while thinking, Oh, no, I just remembered that I never added that part about the main character’s mother that explains why he’s afraid of commitment; I’ll have to do that later on and I’ll just upload a new version then, you’re not done yet.
Your readers don’t want your excuses. They don’t want your explanations. They only want a good book, a great book, a book worth their time.
If you’re pushing the “publish” button while exhaling a deep, satisfied breath, while sitting back in your chair with a goofy grin on your face and the emphatic, heartfelt thought, It’s done, in your mind, then, yes, you are done. Just don’t kid yourself. Remember: if it’s not YES! with an exclamation point, it’s no.
Originally published by Indies Unlimited on 9/30/2014.