Thursday, May 30, 2019


~Post Includes:  Book Spotlight, Author
Bio, Excerpt, Unique Guest Post Shared
by the Author & Giveaway~

Welcome to the Blog Tour & Giveaway for Libby's Cuppa Joe by Rebecca Waters with JustRead Publicity Tours!


Title: Libby's Cuppa Joe  
Author: Rebecca Waters
Publisher: Ambassador International  
Release Date: March 8, 2018  
Genre: Women’s Fiction

Can grace and love be found amongst coffee grounds?

Sonja Parker is about to find out.

Excited to leave her stale life in the big city behind, Sonja takes the money her grandmother left her and purchases Libby's Cuppa Joe, a thriving coffee shop in a small community in Wisconsin's Door County. Sonja may have business sense, but is she ready to face the world on her own?

Sonja soon discovers owning a business requires more than offering a good cup of coffee. She must make major repairs to the building as well as major repairs to her heart. Do the former owners, Libby and Joe hold the answer? As Sonja seeks to make Libby's Cuppa Joe a viable business, can she also find herself and the God she has abandoned?

Libby's Cuppa Joe is a riveting tale of second chances, forgiveness, and not living on borrowed faith.


Sonja was shaking. She gave the young man his change. The timer for the oven sounded. Sonja plated the muffins and delivered them to the three early morning customers now sitting at a table near the bookshelves. She ran hastily back into the kitchen. She had not made it to the bank yesterday. There should have been over three hundred dollars in the box. Her mind was racing.

Maybe Damon put it somewhere safe. He often commented on how anyone could just walk in and take a cash box while they were busy. Sonja searched the kitchen. The money was nowhere to be found. Another couple came into the store. Sonja served them quickly then stole away to her apartment. She looked in the drawer in Damon’s bedside table. Nothing. Perhaps he put the money in one of the drawers where he kept his clothes. Nothing.

Nothing. Not even his clothes. Sonja’s stomach began to churn.



Rebecca Waters has been a writer most of her life. Her first published work was a story in the school newspaper she wrote in second grade. For many years Rebecca used her stories as illustrations in church settings and to entertain her own three daughters. Her professional writing included educational articles and research. Following her retirement as a professor of education from Cincinnati Christian University, Rebecca turned her pen to the world of fiction. She has also published several articles in Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Lookout Magazine, and Home Health Aide Digest. Her first novel, Breathing on Her Own, was released in 2014.  


~ Behind the Scenes of Libby’s Cuppa Joe ~

I’m often asked about where I get the idea for a story. The ideas for me are easy. I look around and imagine the story behind what makes a person think and act the way they do. But crafting a story? Crafting takes research. Come with me behind the scenes in the crafting of Libby’s Cuppa Joe.

The Setting: Libby’s Cuppa Joe takes place in a coffee shop in Door County, Wisconsin. I had visited Door County as a tourist. To assure accuracy, I researched the Wisconsin peninsula on-line. I gathered information about the calendar of events in the communities there and used a map to think through the places and roads my characters would travel.

The Coffee Shop: Running a coffee shop is a bit beyond the skills I acquired with my Mr. Coffee. While I enjoy drinking coffee and love the ambience of a quaint coffee shop when I’m traveling, I was clueless about what goes on in the commercial kitchen. I first contacted a friend who runs the coffee shop at the university where I taught. He gave me great technical advice. I found trade shows available for the industry online. Although I couldn’t afford such events, I gleaned great information and good questions from the websites and promotional materials. I took those questions to a sweet couple operating a coffee shop near where I lived in Florida during the writing of the book. 

The Cookies: I knew I wanted to serve sweets in Libby’s Cuppa Joe coffee shop. I started with what I knew. I baked coffee cakes and cinnamon rolls. I decided these foods, though delicious, weren’t cost effective for my main character, Sonja Parker, who is, like me, learning the business. I settled on a recipe my mother gave me for Breakfast Cookies. I baked them and tried adding ingredients to make them even more special. My husband loved this part of the research and encouraged me to continue my work!

Kringle: My daughter lives in Kenosha, Wisconsin. A pastry common to the area where she lives is called kringle. The traditional kringle is made with an almond paste though more contemporary versions are filled with fruit. This research proved to be messy. I had flour and sticky dough everywhere. My finished version of the flaky crust may not have looked pretty, but it was delicious. Since I had trouble making it, I knew Sonja would find it difficult. I brought help in by way of a young woman named Melissa. She helped Sonja in the coffee shop not only in creating the intricate kringle pastry, but to offer kindness and love to Sonja who most certainly needed it.

Character Names: Sometimes readers ask me about the names I choose for characters. One rule of thumb writers often use is to make sure main characters don’t have names that begin with the same letter. We don’t like to confuse our readers. I have two other little tricks up my sleeve. I determine the ages of my characters then decide what year they were born. On the internet I can find popular names for that year. I used that for several of my characters in Libby’s Cuppa Joe. I chose Sonja’s name for two reasons. I looked for a name that was both popular for her age but also indicative of the European heritage of many of the people who settled Wisconsin.

A Power Outage: It is important for characters to face stress form time to time. I read of a couple of power outages in Door County so I threw one Sonja’s way. I made it happen in winter and caused the freezing conditions to break pipes in her establishment. What a mess. I’m not a plumber and had to do quite a bit of digging to figure out what Sonja had done wrong when she closed her shop for the winter months and what she had to do to fix it.

The Kenosha Connection: I have Sonja visit with her parents in Kenosha, Wisconsin. She visits the library there, goes to the doctor and to church. I don’t need to use my imagination for this one. Here is the “behind the scenes” fact: My daughter lives in Kenosha. My visits there helped me in the crafting of Libby's Cuppa Joe.

How Libby Got Her Name: When I started writing the book I researched names as I said before. One of the names I found for the year the original proprietor of the coffee shop was born was Shirley. I have a cousin named Shirley so I thought it a good way to give a nod to her. I started the writing of Shirley’s Cuppa Joe. I wasn’t far into it when my youngest daughter said she would pass over a book with that title. She thought I needed a more contemporary name. I put the problem out to readers of my blog. There were several options offered. One was “Livvy.” I changed it slightly to become Libby and tested it with my readers. I’ll find a new way to nod to my cousin.

CONNECT WITH REBECCA: Website | Facebook | Twitter


(1) winner will receive a print copy of Libby's Cuppa Joe and (1) winner will receive an ebook copy.

Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Giveaway will begin at midnight May 28, 2019 and last through 11:59 pm June 4, 2019. US only. Winners will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

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My inspirational historical romance short story, 'Handmade Hearts', is free on Amazon June 2nd - June 6th! This story was inspired by a true story and is set in New Orleans during WWII. Click on over to Amazon to download your free copy . . . Enjoy!



Sunday, May 26, 2019


~ Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday
Retro Fiction Feature ~

  Original Cover on First Edition, 1963

Cover on Edition I Read for This Post, 2002
ABOUT THE BOOK {from Goodreads}:
A Civil War sword...A watermelon stabbing...
Missing roller skates...
A trapeze artist's inheritance...
And an eyewitness who's legally blind!

Theses are just some of the ten brain-twisting mysteries that Encyclopedia Brown must solve by using his famous computer-like brain. Try to crack the cases along with him--the answer to all the mysteries are found in the back!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR {from Goodreads}:
Donald J. Sobol was an award-winning writer best known for his children's books, especially the Encyclopedia Brown mystery series. Mr. Sobol passed away in July of 2012.

As I began working on my second book in my 'Tyler Stop' series, I realized I needed to do some research into what books my young protagonist, eleven-year-old Weston Gregg, would have been reading in the late 1960s.

I remembered that a number of the third grade boys I worked with as a teacher in the late 1980s loved the Nate the Great and the Encyclopedia Brown boy detective stories. Through my research I found that the Nate the Great series did not launch until 1972. Too late for my purposes for this project.

Through my research, I found that the first book in the Encylopedia Brown series, Boy Detective, was originally released in 1963--perfect timing for Weston's story. I requested the book from the library and read it the day after I checked it out of the library.

It was immediately apparent to me why Mr. Sobol's books were so appealing to youngsters. The book is actually made up of ten 'cases' which range in length from four to eight pages long and include illustrations by Leonard Shortall. 

Ten-year-old Leroy 'Encyclopedia' Brown solves these cases for his father who is the chief of police for their hometown of Idaville. The main character is only called Leroy by his parents and his teachers. Everyone else calls the ten-year-old 'Encylopedia' because his brain is filled with facts and information he had learned from reading books.

After his success at helping his father, Mrs. Brown suggests that maybe Leroy will be a detective when he grows up. Her comments inspire her son, and Encyclopedia decides to open his own detective agency so he can help people solve their problems. He christens his agency, Brown Detective Agency, and advertises his services around the neighborhood with handbills he prints himself on his toy printing press and a hand-lettered sign posted on the family's garage.

I loved the sign he made up {page 16--paraphrased} because it is quaint and straighforward:

No case too small 
25¢ per day
plus expenses 

Some of the characters in the various stories are the same core of neighborhood kids and school friends, but all of the cases involve different mysteries. The facts are presented for each case, and at the conclusion of the chapter Encyclopedia Brown announces, "I know who . . ." or "I know what . . . " In all caps a query is typed below the chapter asking readers how Encyclopedia had figured out the case. At the lower edge of the same page readers are guided to a page in the appendix of the book where they can go to read the solution for the case.

As I read through the cases in this book I had fun trying to figure out not only who had committed the misdeed but how Encyclopedia Brown had figured out the puzzle. To be completely transparent, I was not always correct in my hypothesis of what tipped off Encyclopedia to the solution. 

As I read through the ten cases in this book my admiration for the author's ability to be succinct, clever, engaging, and appealing to middle-grade readers grew exponentially. Mr. Sobol wrote twenty-eight Encyclopedia Brown books.

I read in his online obituary in the New York Times from July, 2012, that this Boy Detective book was rejected by two dozen publishers before being accepted for publication. In 1976 he won an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for this series. He wrote eighty books in total.

I will read as many of this little gems as I can get my hands on, not for the sole purpose of research for my own writing, but for the pure enjoyment I feel from reading about the adventures of such a fun character. 

Highly-recommended to fans of retro fiction, detective novels for kids, and historical fiction. I believe these books would be great classroom or library read-alouds because they can fill those few 'down-time' minutes each day when a teacher works to keep his/her students on-task and mentally active when perhaps there isn't time to read an entire chapter from a commonly-formatted novel.

I borrowed this book from the children's collection at the local public library.

Learn about more great middle-grade reads by visiting Greg Pattridge's 'Always in the Middle' blog to find the links to other blog posts celebrating Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday!

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Sunday, May 19, 2019


~Post Includes:  Book Spotlight, Excerpt,
Author Bio, Unique Author Guest
Post & Giveaway~

Welcome to the Blog Tour & Giveaway for Heart Changer by Jarm Del Boccio with JustRead Publicity Tours!


Title: The Heart Changer  
Author: Jarm Del Boccio  
Publisher: Ambassador International  
Release Date: April 26, 2019  
Genre: Middle-Grade Biblical Fiction

Can an Israelite captive, wrenched from all she loves, serve the very man who destroyed her village?

Miriam is asked to do the impossible: serve the wife of Naaman, commander of the Syrian army. Clinging to treasured memories of home and faith, Miriam faces captivity with worry and bitterness.

Little does she know the Heart Changer is wooing and preparing her for a greater mission far beyond what she could imagine.

This middle-grade historical novel reflects the heartache and angst of a young refugee in a foreign land where all hope seems lost.


“RUN! RUN, MY DAUGHTER! DON’T let them see you!” Miriam’s mother cried in alarm, shielding baby Zacchaeus in her long robes. She watched, helpless, as her precious child ran to escape the oncoming invasion.
Picking up her skirts, the young girl fled down the center of the Shunem town market, following the frantic path of others, terror- stricken by the billowing clouds of dust gathering in the distance. As the villagers ran for their lives, baskets of fruits and vegetables, nuts and spices were carelessly scattered on the parched ground. Carts of fish and goat’s cheese were upset, the sound of splintering and cracking adding to the mayhem as striped awnings ripped from their doorframes. Goats and sheep scattered, and those who could not be freed from their leads bleated in fear. Shouts of the Syrian army, and the sound of clomping horse’s hooves on the stone pavement signaled the enemy’s advance. Cries and screams escaped from the villagers as they dropped a trail of precious belongings in their flight. A keepsake and a fresh loaf of bread meant nothing. Only their lives mattered now.

Miriam eyed another overturned cart, its sweets scattered in the dust, and swiftly darted behind it to evade the soldiers’ haunting advances. She covered her face with the cloth from her head covering, tucking it in to hide her maturing face. Heart pounding, she took a deep breath, pressing her head against the rugged wood, praying no one had seen her. At twelve, who knew what the enemy would do if they caught her? Miriam shuddered as she heard the screams of women and children running past. She wiped her palms and forehead with the hem of her skirts, and shut her eyes tightly, trying to block out the horrifying scene.

Jarm Del Boccio (‘J’ pronounced as a ‘Y’) finds her inspiration in everyday life, but in particular, when she travels the globe, observing the quirky things that happen along the way. Focusing on lives of characters from the past, Jarm is devoted to breathing new life into the pages of history. 

Jarm has a background in elementary and high school education, and served for seven years as a school librarian. Grateful for the opportunity, she taught three missionary kids in an isolated area of Papua New Guinea. She is part of SCBWI and American Christian Fiction Writers, and has published articles in “The Old Schoolhouse” magazine. 

The Heart Changer, her debut MG historical/biblical fiction, released with Ambassador International April 26th, 2019. Jarm is content with the journey God has placed her on, and lives with her husband and adult son and daughter (when they are not away) in a tree-lined suburb of Chicago.

CONNECT WITH JARM: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Behind-the-Scene Facts About the Book by Jarm Del Boccio

Although I write historical fiction, I try to stay as accurate to the Biblical account as I can. Here are a few areas I needed to research before I finished The Heart Changer, a story based on an Old Testament account from the 9th century BC:

It’s mostly desert (light brown sand and not burnt orange) with tufts of dried grass, unless the town was near a water source, such as a lake or river — then, their would be a few more trees and flowers. Olive, cypress and pine trees would have been prominent. In Syria and a bit south, many flowers bloom in the desert during April - the month my book released! They include yellow broom, red poppies and purple thistle. I also mentioned the oleander tree in my story. Our family visited Israel and Jordan a few years back, so I have plenty of photos to rely on as well.

We think of the usual hummus, baklava and flatbreads, which they do indeed eat, but there is much more. Thankfully, I had a missionary family who lived in the area, who could vet my story and suggest alternative foods. In the first couple of chapters, I mentioned my MC having porridge in front of a fire, only to discover the Syrians ate hummus and flat bread for breakfast. Oops!

The Syrians would also enjoy olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, goat’s cheese and prepared dishes, such as stuffed zucchini (Kousa Mahshi) and rice with peas (Ruz ma Bezella) served on Mother’s Day, in present day Syria on March 21st. If your interested, here’s a great website where you can find authentic recipes to try:

One of my endorsers questioned whether my MC, who is Hebrew, would understand the Syrian language. When I delved further into the issue, I discovered (verified by two Biblical scholars) that Syrians spoke Aramaic (now Arabic) which was from the same branch of the language tree as Hebrew. Therefore, they could understand each other as a spanish-speaking person would understand Italian. Whew! What a find. It make things so much easier for me.

In Biblical times, leprosy was highly contagious, so those plagued by it were sequester outside the town in a leper colony. They could never live with their loved ones again. The photos I found online of the leprous sores are frightening, especially in the advanced stages which disfigured the extremities.  So, I described them vaguely so I wouldn’t alarm a middle-grader, although I don’t think Naaman had an advanced stag of the disease. The Levitical law had strict rules about how to treat those with unusual spots, to avoid contamination. There are also other kinds of leprosy which are no more than a rash. Nowadays, thankfully, it’s cured with antibiotics.

Could Miriam have walked all the way to Damascus after her capture from her hometown in Shumem? I checked the milage and yes, depending on how fast the walked, the captives could have trudged up north to the capital city in a couple of days. It’s approximately 200 K between the two cities, which according to Google is a two day hike.

Even though I am writing historical fiction, again, I want to stay as close to the scriptural truth as possible. I have Miriam interacting (or knowing) Elisha, and the boy I called Jonas, who Elisha raised from the dead. I was thrilled to discover they lived around the same time and in close proximity to one another, so it wasn’t so far fetched! And Elisha was a prophet and ‘hero’ figure, so everyone in Israel would at least have heard of him.

I also examined the Biblical character’s dialogue and description of each, and made sure my characterization of them was feasible and not out of line. For instance, I have Naaman as a proud, but sometimes aloof commander and husband, which I would imagine are traits of many men in charge.

I wanted Adara, Naaman’s wife, to have a pastime — something to keep her occupied, since everything
was done for her by servants. I realized in that culture and time, weaving would have been a possibility. Although I did not research the exact process or loom used, I let my readers fill in the appropriate gaps. My favorite scene in The Heart Changer takes place between Miriam and Adara while she is working at her weaving.

Herbal medicine:
Since the people of the Middle East had no modern medicine in the 9th century BC, the only other option would have been plant sources — herbs and spices they would cook and distill for use as remedies. Miriam remembers her mother using many herbal recipes to help those who were sick in her hometown. Hyssop, mint, cinnamon and myrrh would have been a few. Check out this website for more:

Jewish Religious Practices:
I was worried the prayers and references to God (Yahweh) would be inaccurate or offensive to a Jewish person, since in Bible times the Hebrews would pronounce God’s name without the vowels (YHWH) so I asked a friend of mine, who is married to a Messianic Jew, to vet my story. She said I could use the word Jehovah and not be offensive, especially to a contemporary non-orthodox Jew. She also approved Miriam’s prayers as well.

I’m sure there are many more cultural and geographical items I could have researched, but since they were not important to the story, I again let my readers fill in the gap. It’s a great way to stay in the Word as I write!
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(1) winner will receive 1 print (US only)

AND (1) winner will receive 1 ebook (open internationally except where prohibited by law)  

Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Giveaway will begin at midnight May 20, 2019 and last through 11:59 pm May 27, 2019. US only. Winners will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

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Head over to our 'On the Scene in '19' website to enter to win a prize package including two signed middle-grade novels -and- four signed picture books written by members of this collaborative group. {US residents only} 

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