Thursday, October 20, 2016


The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory
John Seabrook
W.W. Norton & Company
October 5, 2015

SUMMARY (from the publisher)
Over the last two decades a new type of song has emerged. Today’s hits bristle with “hooks,” musical burrs designed to snag your ear every seven seconds. Painstakingly crafted to tweak the brain’s delight in melody, rhythm, and repetition, these songs are industrial-strength products made for malls, casinos, the gym, and the Super Bowl halftime show. The tracks are so catchy, and so potent, that you can’t not listen to them.

Traveling from New York to Los Angeles, Stockholm to Korea, John Seabrook visits specialized teams composing songs in digital labs with novel techniques, and he traces the growth of these contagious hits from their origins in early ’90s Sweden to their ubiquity on today’s charts. Featuring the stories of artists like Katy Perry, Britney Spears, and Rihanna, as well as expert songsmiths like Max Martin, Ester Dean, and Dr. Luke, The Song Machine will change the way you listen to music.

I appreciate Martha Graham Company performances because I spent years in dance studios, and I
John Seabrook
know how hard it is to make grand jetes look effortless. I appreciate realism because I have tried and tried to draw realistic representations of common household objects, and I’ve never come remotely close to Jan van Eyck’s talents. And now, thanks to John Seabrook, I have a much better appreciation to the Top 40 hits I hear on the radio every day.

Top 40 pop music? It’s so omnipresent, so much a part of the air we breathe, that we rarely stop to think about what’s behind it, but The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory tells a fascinating story about how we got where we are today.

For instance: I had never heard of Max Martin before I read (listened to) this book. And yet, I heard Max Martin every single day (I have three teenagers). This unassuming Swede happens to be the genius behind Backstreet Boys’ “I Want it That Way,” Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream,” Taylor Swift’s entire 1989 album (what??), The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face,” Ellie Goulding’s “Love Me Like You Do,” Pink’s “Who Knew,” and on and on and on. You love Max Martin—I know you do—even if you’ve never heard his name.

How did this happen?

That, my friends, is the story John Seabrook tells in The Song Machine. You’ll get to start way back in those foggy electronic lights of 1970s European discos and you’ll meet all kinds of interesting people along the way: 13-year-old Britney Spears, Robin Rihanna Fenty, fresh from Barbados, and the pop hook savant Ester Dean. Some of these characters are very well known to the general public, and some of them have remained blessedly anonymous, enjoying the impressive fruits of their creative labors without having to take the lumps that come with fast-pace fame.

Max Martin
You’ll get to travel the world, too. Since American Top 40 is largely peopled with American singers, it’s easy to assume that it’s a mostly American industry—but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Seabrook will thoughtfully guide you from New York to Stockholm to Korea to Los Angeles, and you’ll see how industrialized, how packaged, how collaborative our music has become. All this is done without Seabrook’s judgment, and I’m glad of that. Without having to decide whether our current pop music trajectory is “good” or “bad,” I can appreciate its development for all its strangeness and wonder.

I listened to the audiobook version, which is narrated by Dion Graham. Graham does a fantastic job and has such a naturally genial voice. You’ll enjoy his narrative company.

Read it. And once you’ve finished it, turn on the radio. Instead of merely bopping your head to those catchy bass lines as you drive down the road, you’ll listen for the hooks and the bridges, you’ll wonder if the melody was written by a Swede. You might wonder if the artist’s vocals have been mashed with Ester Dean’s, and you might envision Dr. Luke or Max Martin, sitting at a laptop on the other side of your speakers, swapping in percussion sounds with the respectful, intent curiosity of a mad scientist in his laboratory. You, gentle reader, are the guinea pig. And you love it. So do I. 

Friday, October 14, 2016


Many thanks to Aidan McNally for joining us on the Book Pound today. Aidan is the author of Two Sons Too Many, a memoir.

What prompted you to write Two Sons Too Many? Do you look to any authors for inspiration? Did you have any favorite writing teachers?
My story is a memoir and so it has been life and life's lessons that prompted the writing of Two Sons Too Many. The excitement of life, the adventure that the world has offered me and the harsh realities that one must face. In the simplest of explanations, I needed to write it to read it back to myself to see or feel my own life happenings are actually real. This being said I never imagined to publish and invite the world to read, as how could anyone ever believe the story is real if I myself find it so hard to believe.

I draw inspiration from life, God or the world in general and have not thought to write to be anything other than life's personal challenge. When it must be written it must be written.

I have a very close friend who writes and is a teacher in the writing field who always has great words for me and the extra push to do it and "let it flow". Her passion for writing is something I have always admired and felt joy when hearing of her own published accomplishments.

What was the most surprising part of the writing/publishing process for you?
The most surprising, not an easy one.... I would have to say actually completing the book. Having it written, standing up from the desk and the sigh of, well not relief but accomplishment. To have the manuscript complete felt like the highest accomplishment ever achieved. All the blood the sweat and the tears finally in print brought about a huge high filled with energy. This has been an absolute new experience and has been quite surprising.

Has the publication of Two Sons Too Many changed anything in your life?
The changing in life has been to deal with and become normal with, anxiety. Why? This has been the strangest experience to know I have a dear friend or brother, my mother for instance to read the full complete life events on paper in a book. The nerves and anxiety all wrapped into one to await their response, to await a review or a comment. The changing of life has been awesome to feel such true and pure feelings of such. Has moulded me to learn of these feelings.

What's next for you as an author?
The bug is for sure a real thing, the infectiousness of writing is of course to do it all over again and continue with the fulfillment of writing more and more. Through responses to my first book, many a friend has said write more as they enjoyed book number 1. 

What advice would you give to people who are interest in writing memoir?
In my memoir there are many harsh truths that are hard to write, one fear was that I thought how can emotion really ring through on paper. How does one explain these deep feelings. I wrote and let it be in its natural and raw state. This is the TRUTH is what I kept telling myself and so it seems to have had an effect on those who have read my new book. I did not think to try and change anybody's life or affect them in anyway, although many have expressed their new view on life and their mind warp of change to their perspective on life.

My strongest advice, write True or truth for that matter and write for yourself first always. Readers are a secondary function of the writing process. Though highly important factor in the book world. The story is better for yourself as the number one audience. Truth will shock and grip your audience as no two people share the same experience. I have found that truth is the most shocking and gripping factor available to mankind.

Is there anything else you'd like to tell Book Pound readers?
As mentioned above without the readers there would be no further excitement in my book journey. I appreciate the living hell out of those who  enjoy a good read. So I say thank you to all. In relation to Two sons Too Many any I do of course recommend it as a "must read" for all as the memoir may just bring comfort or a whole new level to how anyone may just view the simplest things in life. A message may be keep on reading, every writer I am sure feels the same, you the reader are a valued treasure to those of us write. My gratitude to all who have taken interest in my book would be book number two itself as it goes deep and is quite vast.

Find Aidan McNally's book at CreateSpace, Amazon, and Goodreads. Connect with the author on Twitter.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Before Oliver Dahl had finished middle school, he'd already landed on the list of Idaho's Top 50 Authors (2011). He has written three novels, The Dreamers, The Nightmarers, and Lies, and he has recently started his own business, Avant-Card Contact Compiling. We're pleased to have Oliver Dahl with us at the Book Pound today!

How has your writing changed over the years? Do you write differently now than you did when you wrote The Dreamers?
Definitely! The Dreamers came out when I was 13, and pretty quickly had two books follow it up. In writing both of those books, (along with the seemingly overwhelming amount of research papers, essays, and short stories for school) I was able to simply practice writing even more. The more I write, and the more I read, the stronger my writing gets. Between The Dreamers and even just its sequel, you can really see the growth in  my writing ability. I have a hard time reading The Dreamers, actually, because I see so much I'd word differently and so on, but I hear most authors actually have that problem with their books, too.

I used to be very strict in terms of my writing process, too. I was very particular about writing everything in order one scene to the next. I was not strict about making myself write, so with the exception of NaNoWriMo, I only really wrote when inspiration/motivation hit me. With my current WIP, all of this went out the window. I started writing it linearly and got writer's block. Neither inspiration nor motivation struck me, and so it sat dormant for months. I decided to change what I do, and skipped ahead in the book to where I had better planned out. Then I made myself write every day. If all I can write is a sentence, I count it. That way, it's kind of become habitual, and is always getting a little closer to being done. It's been a good change!

NaNoWriMo is coming up again soon. Can you tell us about your involvement with NaNoWriMo in
the past? Are you going to do it again?
NaNoWriMo is very close to my heart! I've done it to some extent every year since 2010, the year I wrote my first book, The Dreamers. A few years later, I used NaNoWriMo to write the initial draft of my latest book, Lies. NaNo is just a fantastic way to motivate yourself to get a first draft started. That's often the hardest part. It makes you abandon any sense of perfectionism that would otherwise slow you down, gives you a huge boost in the writing process, and ends up being a lot of fun. This year, I probably won't do NaNo in the traditional sense. The first draft of my next book should be done before NaNo starts, but I will definitely spend the month of November working on the second draft, editing, and starting the publishing process.

What is your favorite part of the writing/publishing process?
I love coming up with ideas! Having some plotbunny, setting, or scene dawn on you is really cool. It's easy to get excited about those kinds of things, and it makes you want to go write it immediately! Any time you overcome writer's block is immensely satisfying. I think one of my (many) all time favorite things about the writing process is that moment when you read over something you've already written and are just really impressed.

And I actually love the self-publishing process as a whole! To me, it's so fun to prepare something I've worked hard on and am proud of to be read by others! I love working on the book cover, writing the summaries, and holding the culmination of it all in your hands at long last. That's a special moment.

What is your least favorite part?
In writing, I really hate when I've written something and I think it's great and then I realize none of it will work because of a better idea of where the story needs to go. So I copy and paste those parts of the book into a "deleted scenes" word document that's more of a graveyard of abandoned ideas. (All for the best, though!)

What's coming up next for you as an author?
Well, I've already alluded to my next book a little bit. My first two books are middle grade scifi/fantasy, my third is YA historical fiction, and this one is more contemporary YA literature--in the same vein as The Perks of Being A Wallflower and John Green's books. Those were all big inspirations for this next book of mine. It's current placeholder name is "Imperfect Road" but that title hasn't grown on me at all, so it's definitely going to be changed. I'm hoping for a late 2016/very early 2017 release but we'll see how things go!

Is there anything else you'd like to tell Book Pound readers?
A: Part of what's fun about writing is that I'm on a quest to write a book that I know I would enjoy reading. Seeing that you're reading a book blog, it seems that we already have a lot in common--so you might enjoy my books, too.

You can learn more about them at! And come say hi on my Instagram and/or Twitter @OliverWDahl! :)

Friday, July 1, 2016


Taksh Gupta and Akhil Ahuja have a new novel out, and we're pleased to have Taksh with us at the BookPound today. Find their new book, Hiraeth: First Love First Contact, at Amazon (you'll find a blurb at the end of his interview. Many thanks to Taksh for joining us at the BookPound.

What do you like about writing science fiction?
Hiraeth: First Love First Contact is actually my first science fiction. My previous novel, Love @ 365 Kmph was a romantic comedy. While writing Hiraeth, I loved the fact that even I was in suspense for most part of the 3 years that it took me to write the novel. With romantic comedy, it is basically always the same story told in a different way but with science fiction, you have the responsibility of creating a whole new world. This challenge is what made me fall in love with writing science fiction.

Who are some of your favorite science fiction books and authors?
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
I have a soft corner for Dan Brown and his work like Angels and Demons.

What is the most difficult part of writing and publishing for you? How do you overcome that challenge?
I have a co-author, with whom I have written this book. The most difficult part for us would have been coordinating with each other as both of us had extremely busy schedules. We somehow made it work through voice messages. He would send me one as soon as he got an idea and I would respond as I soon as I got time and vice-versa. As for publishing, finding a suitable publisher is always the biggest challenge. I don't think anybody can overcome that challenge. In the end it is a game of hope and patience.

What do you like most about being an author?
I adore the fact that my words bring happiness to people. Sometime back, I met a young girl on a train. She was barely 13. She came up to me and said, 'I know you. You are the author of Love @ 365 Kmph.' She told me that she always laughed uncontrollably whenever she read the book and that she always kept a copy with herself. It cheered her up. She proceeded to open her bag to take out the novel and asked me for my autograph. I still remember her smiling face and the feeling of content in my heart that I was the reason for that smile.

What projects do you have coming up in the future?
I have a third book in mind which would be a story of redemption, maybe revolving around the life of a criminal but nothing is concrete at this stage. The only next project I am sure that I am writing is the love letter my young cousin has asked me to write to cajole his love interest. Hahaha
Is there anything else you'd like to tell BookPound readers?

Yes, always venture to something new. Much like many of you, I too am an avid reader and am aware that all of us readers develop a taste of certain genre over time. Don't only stick to your taste. Remember, reading novels is like exploring worlds. You would be surprised to know that your to-be favorite novel could be of a genre you would have never even dreamed of reading.

Hope you enjoy reading Hiraeth: First Love First Contact. Keep reading BookPound!

Taksh Gupta & Akhil Ahuja

What supposedly troubles man the most is the fear of the unknown. However, what transcends that is a nightmare, where things are so incredibly frightening that you hope that it was just that – a nightmare – but there’s a part of you which knows that it is a part of your existence. Nikhil, a young guy loaded with responsibilities, and his girlfriend, Saesha, are trapped in this unenviable situation. Eerily, their worst nightmare is essentially the same: A cold-blooded, red-eyed freak chasing them, with a resolute obsession to slay their souls. The two try to pass this as coincidence, until the day things start falling apart. In a bizzare turn of events, Saesha gets abducted and returns with no memory of Nikhil.

Weighing the odds of Saesha teaming up with the aliens, Nikhil has to make a choice between his beliefs and the world’s, which is under siege. Biological weapons are unleashed, as a 623-year-old intergalactic rivalry is revived. Governments brainstorm together, there are UN meets and nuclear weapons are agregated. Eventually, war breaks.

The novel depicts Nikhil’s journey as he sets out to save his love, which may also be the key to saving the world.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


Glen Craney
Brigid's Fire Press

SUMMARY (from publisher)
As the 14th century dawns, Scotland's survival hangs by a spider's thread. While the Scot clans scrap over their empty throne, the brutal Edward Longshanks of England invades the weakened northern kingdom, scheming to annex it to his realm.But one frail, dark-skinned lad stands in the Plantagenet monarch's path. The beleaguered Scots cherish and lionize James Douglas as their "Good Sir James." Yet in England, his slashing and elusive raids deep into Yorkshire and Northumbria wreak such havoc and terror that he is branded the Black Douglas with a reward placed on his head for his capture.As a boy, James falls in love with the ravishing Isabelle MacDuff, whose clan for centuries has inaugurated Scottish monarchs on the hallowed Stone of Destiny. His world is upturned when he befriends Robert Bruce, a bitter enemy of the MacDuffs. Forced to choose between love and clan loyalty, James and Isabelle make fateful decisions that will draw the opposing armies to the bloody field of Bannockburn.Isabelle will crown a king. James will carry a king's heart. At last, both now take their rightful places with Robert Bruce, Rob Roy, and William Wallace in the pantheon of Scot heroes.Here is the story of Scotland's War of Independence and the remarkable events that followed the execution of Wallace, whose legend was portrayed in the movie Braveheart. This thrilling epic leads us to the miraculous Stone of Destiny, to the famous Spider in the Cave, to the excommunicated Knights Templar, to the suppressed Culdee Church, and to the unprecedented Declaration of Arbroath, the stirring oath document that inspired the American Declaration of Independence four hundred years later.The Spider and the Stone is the unforgettable saga of the star-crossed love, religious intrigue, and heroic sacrifice that saved Scotland during its time of greatest peril.

REVIEW by Sara E. Dykes
Love. Loss. Loyalty. The Spider and the Stone spins a non-stop, action-packed tale as intricate and significant to Scotland's history as its titled arachnid and her web.

James Douglas, known to England and history as “the Black Douglas”, fights under command of and alongside his lifelong friend and king, Robert the Bruce. They struggle for Scottish independence from England, its king “Longshanks,” and his Plantagenet progeny, fighting a war that started long ago, but stoked when they were lads by the famed William Wallace. Along the way, they escape grisly skirmishes and employ tactics previously unseen by their English counterparts.

Nevertheless, Robert the Bruce is not Douglas's only master. Love also rules James's heart. Belle became his heart's desire the first moment they met as children. Through political maneuvers of her family and the general upheaval of the time, they are separated. But the fire of their mutual passion cannot be drowned, even by distance. James's love for Belle endangers them both and forces him many times to make a choice: Scotland or his heart.

Mixing Scottish lore, opposing theories of Christian theology, political intrigue, battle strategy, and heartfelt angst, The Spider and the Stone by Glen Craney weaves a harrowing tale of courage and love. Love for one's king. Love for one's country. Love for one's true mate. I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in Scotland's heritage and history, well-written war novels, or historical fiction in general.

Sara E. Dykes enjoys reading, writing, classic film, and any combination thereof. She is a Georgia licensed attorney with an LL.M. concentration in gender and health law. Sara currently resides in Dallas, Texas, where she works in the discovery side of the legal field.

Monday, May 16, 2016


We're pleased today to bring you an interview with Channing Turner, author of Jonathan's Shield. Turner grew up in Arkansas and Louisiana before graduating from Louisiana State University in Psychology. He did graduate work in marine biology and became an estuarine biologist along the Texas Coast. He now lives in eastern Washington with his wife, Barb. 

After a degree in psychology and graduate work in marine biology, how did your attention turn to writing historical fiction? Have you always had an interest in writing about the past?
I've always had an interest in writing. I had a great English teacher in high school many years ago who encouraged me to be a writer. Because of her I actually majored in English for a couple of years at LSU. I didn't see a career path there so I switched to psychology. Not that I had any particular love for psych—I just needed to keep my 2-S student deferment and it seemed an easy enough field of study. If you're old enough to remember the draft during Viet Nam you know what I mean.

Historical fiction is my favorite genre. I believe I started off reading about Horatio Hornblower in junior high. I still love sea sagas. A lot of this genre involves war and rumors of war, and I naturally gravitated to those stories. One thing I have learned from history is that there is nothing new under the sun about people. Humanity has been either depraved or noble ever since we realized there was a difference.

What kind of research was involved in writing Jonathan’s Shield?
Well the basic storyline wasn't so hard. I just followed 1st Samuel in the Old Testament, starting around chapter thirteen. It's really a compelling tale that has always fascinated me. As far as research? Whew. I had no idea how many books and articles—even magazines--there are about those Biblical times until I started. I studied ancient warfare, daily living, wedding customs, and a little geography.The more I found, the more I wanted to know. Most of my research was with a hard copy in hand. I like the heft of a book. I've added a few of them to my library.

Who are some of your favorite authors? Which authors have had the most influence over you as a writer?
In no particular order: James Lee /Burke ( Reading one of his now. He is also a Louisiana boy who moved to Montana. I really like the way he makes the setting part of the story.) Both Michael and Jeff Shaara, C.J. Box, Bernard Cornwell, Patrick O'Brian, and Larry McMurty.
I don't know how much influence any of them have other than I wish I could write like Burke.

What advice would you give to people who are interested in writing fiction but haven’t yet taken the plunge?
I found out that writing a book is hard. Nothing "just writes itself." Join a book critique group or a group of like minded writers. It's good to have at least some of them with actual publishing experience. Get an editor.

Are you working on any other writing projects currently? What’s next for you?
I have just finished a sort of modern day western/thriller where the new west meets terrorism. It's going through critiquing with my book the moment. Then I'll submit it and see what happens. The very first novel I wrote was rejected by the publisher that's now handling Jonathan's Shield, but they at least gave it a fair reading first. They have asked if I'd rewrite it for them again knowing what I know now about book writing. It's been a couple of years, but I think I will.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell BookPound readers?
It takes a long time. First you write it. Have others besides your spouse and mother read it. It's good to have them read as you write it, say for instance chapter by chapter..Get folks who are writers themselves though and get a thick skin. Of course, you love your wording, your prose, the story, but If not everybody else gets it or likes it, It's not because they're dullards. It's because you didn't write it clearly enough.

Be prepared to market the book and yourself. That's a lesson I'm in the process of learning right now. In a way it's the hardest lesson of all. 

Learn more about Channing Turner and his books at his website and on Facebook.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

8 Great Reads Set in Springtime

If the weather in your town is anything like the weather in mine, we're in the throes of up-and-down springtime. Some days feel like paradise, and other days feel like winter is threatening to come back. On those days when the cold wind blows, I like to immerse myself in a good springtime story.

If you're craving spring, try one of these.

1. Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence

Victorians seemed to have a real penchant for springtime and all the symbolism that comes with new life, freshness, and romance. In this story, Lord Chatterley has been injured in the war, and his relationship with his wife has been strained. Lady Chatterley turns her attention to a lowly game-keeper--which was highly improper on several fronts: morality, social classes, etc.

2. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

It's not a story, but Leaves of Grass captures spring and summer deliciously. The poetry in this book reminds us that just as surely as the cold winds of winter blow, spring will always return again: "To frozen clods ever the spring's invisible law returns, / With grass and flowers and summer fruits of corn."

3. The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

The four women in this novel really know how to get over the winter blues. They rent a villa around Positano, Italy, and live a life of leisure for the month of April. While there, they find love, friendship, and renewal. After you read the book, find a copy of the movie.

4. Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

Here's another story set in Italy in the spring. Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon, has recently defeated his half-brother in a military operation. They reconcile and return to the capital as guests of the Governor, Leonato. A young nobleman in Don Pedro's army (Claudio) falls in love with Leonato's daughter Hero, but he's too shy to court her on his own. Don Pedro woos her for Claudio, and things get pretty sticky and confused for a while. The language is hilarious, and the characters are wonderful. The movie featuring Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branaugh captures the story perfectly.

5. Katherine by Anya Seton

First published in 1954, this substantial novel tells the story of Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. They're the ancestors of most of the British royal family. It's set in the 14th century: knights fight in battles, serfs struggle in poverty and oppression, and the magnificent Plantagenets rule despotically over a court rife with corruption and intrigue. John of Gaunt, the king's son falls in love with Katherine, who is already married. Uh oh.

6. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

What was it like to be young, poor, and endlessly creative in Paris in the 1920's? If you've ever wondered about this question, the answers are in this book. Hemingway arrived in Paris in 1921. At the time Picasso was experimenting with cubism, James Joyce was working on Ulysses, and Gertrude Stein was holding court at 27 Rue de Fleurus. This book contains reflective sketches of Hemingways's circle of artist and writer friends, some of whom achieved fame and glory.

7. The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens

Seinfeld has nothing on the Pickwick Papers. Dickens' comic masterpiece, written when he was 24 years old, catapulted him to fame. And no wonder: these characters--Snodgrass, Tupmon, Winkle, Pickwick, and Sam Weller--are hilarious and manage to get themselves into more scrapes than they can escape.

8. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Okay, so technically this book was written for children, but adults will find it no less mesmerizing. Orphaned Mary Lennox finds herself living at her uncle's large house on the Yorkshire Moors. At night she hears the sound of crying down one of the mansion's long corridors, but no one will tell her what's going on. The house's large gardens provide Mary's only escape from the strangeness and coldness of the house. One day, Mary discovers a secret garden surrounded by walls and locked with a missing key. If ever there were a book about springtime, renewal, and life, this is it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Energetic widow Mattie Bender Schwartz is working day and night to get Promise Lodge going. She’s also hoping the change will help her son Noah’s heart to heal after his broken engagement. But his former fiancĂ©e, Deborah, is looking for a fresh start too. Filled with regret, and cast out by her dat for a reason she can’t yet reveal, Deborah can only pray Noah will forgive her foolishness.

Deborah is the last person Noah expected to show up at Promise Lodge. But with her cruel words still ringing in his head, he’s reluctant to accept her apology—even if the Old Order ways demand he try. If only he could obey Christ’s most important commandment: love one another. But one thing is certain—his mother and aunts, and their beloved Preacher Amos, will do their best to help him get there.

Noah led the horse into the corral and topped off the water trough. The steady pounding coming from the barn told him that either his brother or Preacher Amos was inside. Until new families arrived, they were the only three men at Promise Lodge, and he felt more like talking with one of them than subjecting himself to the hens in the lodge—not to mention facing Deborah again so soon.

As Noah entered the shadowy structure, where cracks in the weathered lumber allowed some daylight through, his older brother Roman looked up from the stanchion he was constructing. When this property had been a church camp, riding horses, tack, and hay had been stored here, so he and Amos were renovating it into a dairy barn for Aunt Christine’s Holstein herd. After her husband died last fall, Roman had taken over the milking and the care of the cows.

“Problem?” Roman asked. “By the look on your face, your mouth was open when a bird flew over.”

Noah grimaced. “Deborah’s here. Begging for my forgiveness.”

His brother’s eyebrows shot up. “And you said—?”

He thrust the canister at Roman and then walked around, checking out the progress on the remodeling. “I told her I wanted no part of courting her again.”

“Gut answer! Amos brought five more letters from the post office this morning, from families wanting to come to Promise Lodge,” his brother said in a rising voice. “Three of those families have daughters. They’re looking for affordable land and fresh bloodlines to marry into. So here we are, brother. The answer to their prayers, right?” Roman pried off the canister lid, inhaled deeply, and then stuffed a brownie into his mouth.

Noah sighed, allowing the thrum of the agitator in the bulk milk tank to fill the silence. Before fall, they needed to construct a separate stable for their horses, and within the next week or two they’d have to build a roadside stand where the girls could sell their produce. So much work, so little time.

“Still can’t argue that Deborah’s brownies are the best, though,” Roman remarked. “Looks like you’ve eaten a few.”

“Jah, they were a peace offering. But once the sugar wears off, you’re only hungrier for something more substantial.”

Roman chortled. “That’s where these new girls might be just the ticket. But if Deborah has asked you to forgive her, you know Mamm and the aunts will side with her,” he pointed out. “And Preacher Amos’ll be reminding you about that seventy-times-seven thing, when it comes to letting go of old grudges. Even if you don’t want to marry her anymore, he’ll tell you to forgive and forget.”

It was true. Preacher Amos was an admirable man, even if he’d come to Promise Lodge mostly because he had his eye on Mamm. He was more laid back than Preacher Eli or Bishop Obadiah Chupp, but he insisted on following the rules Jesus had taught. There would be no wiggling out of forgiving Deborah, no crying foul just because she’d jilted him. Forgiveness was the cornerstone of the Old Order faith. They had both joined the church last year, so he couldn’t ignore Christ’s most important commandment: love one another.

But he couldn’t forgive Deborah. Couldn’t let go of the pain that gave him a reason to get up in the morning. If he was hurting this badly, he was still alive, right? It was proof he hadn’t curled up in a ball and rolled into a hole.

He intended to move on. To love again and marry someday.

But Deborah no longer figured into his plans.

Many moons ago—like, in 1983 while she was still a school librarian—Charlotte Hubbard sold her first story to True Story. This launched her into writing around seventy of those “true confessions” stories over the years, and she’s been a slave to her overactive imagination ever since. Over the course of her writing career, she has sold nearly 50 books—most recently, Amish romance series she’s written as Charlotte Hubbard or Naomi King.
Charlotte lived in Missouri for most of her life, so her Amish stories are set in imaginary Missouri towns. These days she lives in St. Paul, MN with her husband of 40 years and their Border collie, Ramona.

Promise Lodge, Book 1
Zebra (February 26, 2016)
ISBN-13: 9781420139419 •• ISBN-10: 142013941X

Click on these links to buy this book now!
Barnes & Noble
The Book Depository
Kensington Books


Google Play



Charlotte will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn host.