Tag Archives: favorite books

Stolen, by Vivian Gilbert Zabel

Doesn’t that cover just make you want to run right out an buy Vivian Gilbert Zabel’s new novel, Stolen? It does me. And in case you need an added inducement, here’s some more information for you:

Stolen starts with every wife’s nightmare, a call from another woman claiming to be married to Torri, the main character’s husband. Finally jolted out of her lethargy, she packs up herself and her kids and returns to the home of her grandparents. I don’t want to give the plot of this exciting novel away, so just trust me on this one: it’s a book you won’t want to miss. Oh, yes, and do plan to start reading early in the day. You won’t want to put this one down. I sure didn’t.

Zabel has won several awards with her writing, including first place with her mystery/suspense Midnight Hours. She taught English and writing for nearly 30 years and edited newspapers, yearbooks, and literary magazines sporadically for 45. She had poetry, short stories, and articles published over the years, but while raising her family and teaching, she didn’t have time to write longer works. After retirement, she produced a collection of short stories with Holly Jahangiri, Hidden Lies and Other Stories; a collection of poetry with seven other poets located in the United States and Canada, Walking the Earth: Life’s Perspectives in Poetry; three young adult books, The Base Stealers, Case of the Missing Coach, Prairie Dog Cowboy; and two novels including Stolen.

A wife for nearly 49 years, the mother of three living children, grandmother of ten grandchildren, and great-grandmother of five, Zabel believes family and faith are most important, and that belief finds its way in most of her writing. Her characters come from people she observes or reads about mixed with her imagination. Plots take a gain of an idea and combine with a massive dosage of “what if.”

The novel will be available through any bookstore, the 4RV Publishing website book store, plus other online book providers such as Amazon. Pre-sales are open on the publishing website now.

The ISBN for Stolen is 978-0-9825886-4-2

Also check out the Stolen website http://Stolen.yolasite.com

More about stolen children:
2002,“Children Abducted by Family Members: National Estimates
and Characteristics,” gives the following defi nitions concerning
family abduction:
• Taking: Child was taken by a family member in violation of a
custody order or decree or other legitimate custodial right.
• Keeping: Child was not returned or given over by a family member
in violation of a custody order or decree or other legitimate custodial
• Concealment: Family member attempted to conceal the taking or
whereabouts of the child with the intent to prevent return, contact, or
• Flight: Family member transported or had the intent to transport the
child from the State for the purpose of making recovery more diffi cult.
• Intent to deprive indefi nitely: Family member indicated an intent
to prevent contact with the child on an indefi nite basis or to affect
custodial privileges indefi nitely.
• Child: Person under 18 years of age. For a child 15 or older, there
needed to be evidence that the family member used some kind of force
Review version
or threat to take or to detain the child, unless the child was mentally
• Family member: A biological, adoptive, or foster family member;
someone acting on behalf of such a family member; or the romantic
partner of a family member.
According to the bulletin, and the survey taken in 1999, family
abduction is type of crime and child welfare problem with limited statistical
information is available. However, the survey showed fortyfour
percent of family abducted children were younger than age six.
Younger children appear more vulnerable.
One statistic which surprised me in a way is fi fty-three percent
of children taken by a family member were abducted by their biological
father, and only twenty-fi ve percent by their biological mother.
Only six percent of abducted children in the survey had not
yet returned by the time of the survey interview. Of course there is no
information about unreported kidnappings.
Children who are taken by a father or mother, when the kidnapping
parent wants to keep the child from the other parent or family
members, are imperiled. They are often told the other parent and
family members do not love or want them or harm them or will harm
them. The result is psychological harm to the stolen children, as well
as in some cases physical and sexual abuse.
Arlene Kardis states, “Of the children reported missing,
350,000 are taken by family members in violations of custody
In sixteen percent, the child experiences severe mental harm.
Eight percent suffer physical harm, while seven percent are sexually
abused. Four percent of stolen children are never found.
Abducting parents often take children to another state or
another country, making discovery and recovery more diffi cult.

U.S. Department of Justice, “Children Abducted by Family Members:
National Estimates and Characteristics” October 2002.
Arlene Karidis, August 19, 2009 Baltimore Crime Examiner , “Child
abduction statistics”
Lisa C. DeLuca, September 11, 2009 “Statistics on Child Abduction”
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, 2010, FAQ Missing

A Blooming Good Holiday Poetry Book

Blooming Red 
by Carolyn Howard-Johnson and Magdalena Ball 

Looking for a holiday stocking stuffer? Want something to read aloud at holiday dinners, something the whole family can enjoy? Then treat yourself to is delightful collection by poetic collaborators Carolyn Howard-Johnson and Magdalena Ball. This is a delightful little volume, 58 pages consisting of thirteen poems by each poet. I love reading poetry aloud, and this volume is full of delight. A couple of favorites: 

Christmas Magic Wrought by Google’s Keyword Elves 
by Carolyn Howard-Johnson. 

which begins with 

At the stroke of dawn on November first 
gremlins tired from their Halloween 

and ends with 

That’s when Google’s 
keyword elves gave me the gift of all 

Christmas gifts. It’s called 
the make-dinner-reservations 

system of revenge. 

.You’re sure to recognize yourself in this holiday tale of woe. The poor narrator is having a hard time at the holidays.. Ants attack her turkey, the oven thermometers are on the fritz and the Kitchen Aid has died just as its warranty runs out. And are more disasters to come. I laughed but, like the narrator, we, too, have contemplated just chucking the whole thing and going out to a restaurant. 

And another, this one by Magdalena Ball – fond memories, Six Million Years Ago, from six million years ago, when we were kids. 

Six million years ago 
when we were just kids 
upright in thin desert air 
bi-pedaling in anticipation 
of holiday seasons yet to come. 
Time was different then. 

and ends 

the first law of thermodynamics 
what cannot be created or destroyed 
your burning 

Do yourself a favor, and create some memories of your own by buying this book and then sharing it with the whole family over the holidays. 

Here’s where you can find it: Blooming Red

Interview with EJ Wesley, my chapter buddy

Tell us something about yourself

Let’s see, I play the guitar/sing. I love to paint/draw, and particularly love comic book art. My wife is a physician (blood/cancer), and we’ve been married for 8 years. She’s also in the United States Air Force. We have to dogs that I love (a beagle mix and a chihuahua mix … both are rescues). I’m the youngest of 4 children, and my oldest sibling will turn 50 soon. Most people think I’m younger than I really am, because I refuse to act my age. I have degrees in psychology, and a graduate degree in counseling. I spent several years as a grant writer. That’s about it!

You started the Weekly Chapter Challenge group on the Writers Digest Community site. What prompted you to start it?

It’s not uncommon for writers to feel a certain amount of career isolation, which is ironic, because it’s what draws many of us to the pursuit in the first place. I’m no different. I had completely finished the draft of my first full manuscript in relative obscurity. (Only my wife and a few friends really knew I was attempting to write anything.) At any rate, I was feeling completely alone with my accomplishment. Furthermore, I wanted to start working on a new project while editing. The problem was that I was finding it hard to make time to write “new stuff”. I’d signed up to WD a few weeks before, and thought that maybe I could find a couple of more folks who’d like to partner up in a work exchange program. I created the Chapter Challenge as a tool to help keep me motivated and hopefully aid a few other writers as well. Now we’ve got 60 plus members and growing!

How have you found the experience of exchanging chapters so far?

As far as drafting the new story goes, it has become absolutely essential to my creative process. I literally write with the idea that Peggy will be reading my work imbedded in my mind. It pushes me in ways I hadn’t even imagined. Even more important to me is the idea that I’ll be reading her story in return. It creates such a reciprocal energy. If I’m fortunate to ever be successful at this writing thing, I think I’ll owe much of that success to my partnership.

How can readers join the group?

The only real qualifications are that you be interested in growing as a writer, have some kind of tangible writing goal, and be willing to read and offer feedback on the work of someone else on a regular basis. Whether that be polishing an existing work chapter-by-chapter, or creating new to content to share with a partner each week is entirely up to you. If you’re interested, then head over to the WD forum and check out the description of the group, and get some tips on advertising for a partner.

Here’s the link: http://community.writersdigest.com/group/weeklychapterchallenge

You write  YA fantasy. What were some of you favorite books growing up, and how do you feel they influenced you as a writer?

I was heavily influenced by Stephen King, which sounds odd for a young person, but he was the first writer that really grabbed me in my adolescence. His writing is extremely vivid and character driven. People generally think of King as the guy that comes up with all of these creepy ideas and scary books, but fans really know that the meat of his stories are all about the normal people that live through these incredible journeys. I remember reading The Stand, and weeping over the death of a character for the first time. I really try/hope to bring characters to life in my own work the way he did for me.

The other ‘watershed’ reading moment for me was Harry Potter. I was working with teenagers as a mental health counselor at the time the books first became really popular. I recall seeing some of the other counselors using these crazy wizard boy books in their treatment plans, and watching these kids from some of the worst possible situations eating them up! I read them, and instantly understood why young people would relate. That’s the moment I decided that I wanted to write for young people and try to make stories that would mean something to them.

I was probably also influenced subconsciously by a number of comic book writers!

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever gotten? The

The best is from Stephen King’s book, On Writing. In it he says that he received the following advice from one of his early writing instructors: “When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story; when you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are NOT the story.”

I keep that taped above my writing desk. Maybe someday it’ll sink in!

The worst advice I’ve ever gotten was to give up.

You have a day job. How do you find the time to write? Any special place or time you do your writing?

I tutor middle-school students during the school year, which leaves me with some unusual writing hours. I’ll squeeze my writing time in where I can fit it. Also, I try to write new material earlier in the day (before noon) as that tends to be my most mentally aware time. I write at home quite often, but I’m most productive when I leave the house and head to a local coffee spot or library. I can really focus when I’m out in public, but find myself constantly answering phones and checking e-mail when I stay home.

What do you like to read?

I’ll read just about anything! However, I spend most of my reading energy on keeping up with current YA content. In general, I’m reading whatever I see students walking around reading.

If you could be any character in any book, who would you be?

Hmm, I think I might like to be Hermione from the Harry Potter books. She’s so smart and brave! Sadly, I’m probably more like Neville … I also wouldn’t mind being Gandolf from the Lord of the Rings books. He gets to carry a walking stick, ride the best horse ever, and knows pretty much everything.

Have you had anything published?

Other than several grants, no. I’m working on a short story collection that I’d like to publish electronically on Amazon in the near (?) future, and of course I’d love to sell my completed manuscript once I’m finished editing.

Tell us a bit about your current work in progress. Care to post an extract?

The project I’m working on for the Chapter Challenge is a first-person paranormal action/adventure story about a teenaged boy named Abraham. Abe discovers that he is actually Abaddon, the Biblical being who’s going to bring about Armageddon, destroying the earth and everyone on it. It’s my version of an ‘angel’ story, and hopefully one that boys will want to read. Here’s an excerpt from when Abe learns his true identity from his grandfather:

Grandpa stood and walked over to his ancient writing desk. It was probably the only uncluttered surface in the room. He stooped to one knee, and began searching the underside of the desk for some unseen artifact.
“There it is,” he muttered. When he stood, I could see that he was holding a small yellowed envelope in his hands. After collecting the tobacco tin off the top of the desk, he returned to his chair. He handed me the envelope and began filling his pipe.
I held the letter with the tips of my sweaty shaking fingers, thinking about all of the things that could be inside. I turned it over once, then twice, trying to divine some clue as to its contents. There were no words on the outside, and no address. It was old, judging by how the once white paper had yellowed in every place but the very center. The paper it was made out of felt like nothing I’d felt before; it was thick—like animal hide—and had an incredible buttery smoothness. It was also evidently a formal letter for it had been sealed by wax, which had been parted at some point. I looked up at grandpa, uncertain what he meant for me to do.
He took a couple of puffs from his pipe, smiled gently, and said, “Open it.”
I parted the lips of the envelope. Only a single sheet of folded paper lay inside, which I opened. There were two sentences ornately scrawled in golden ink:
Watch over this child until he is of age. His name is, Abaddon.
“That letter was left on my doorstep fifteen years ago, along with a newborn child,” Gramps said, his words echoing to my ears like haunted shouts from a dream.
“Me?” I asked dumbly. I was begging him not to answer in my mind.
“Yes,” Gramps replied, his eyes filled with a terrible sadness.

Where can readers find you on the web?

My blog, The Open Vein, is here: http://the-open-vein-ejwesley.blogspot.com/

Any advice for aspiring writers?

Seeing as how I’m an aspiring writer myself, I’m not sure what I could offer other than what I tell myself every morning: If you stop dreaming, you stop trying. If you stop trying, you stop living.

Any last words?

Thanks, Peggy, for letting me share with your readers, and for being such an awesome writing partner!

Books I hated in High School

Today’s topic is I hated … when I had to read it in high school, but when I read it on my own later, I loved it because….

This is a tough one because I try to forget about the books I hate — it’s hard enough remembering all the books I liked.

So I’m going to try here for books I didn’t absolutely love..

Wind in the Willows — so sue me. I found it boring. I reread it later and did like it better, but I still don’t love it. Still, in high school I abandoned it part way through and as an adult I did manage to finish it, which is something, anyway.

Susie Wong — I read this at age 12 or so, at a point where I thought ‘slept with’ meant you shared a bed for the night. I was just too darn young. I reread this later and loved it — the story had me hooked on the second go round. I was in my twenties.

My parents didn’t censor my reading as a kid — they just let me read what I liked. I guess they figured, rightly, that if it were unsuitable, it would just go right over my head. Too, too true.

Anna Karenina — it was required reading. Didn’t hate it, just couldn’t follow all the names. I reread it later, after I’d taken two years of Russian in college, and it made much more sense, because I could follow it.

I’d write my autobiography, but I don’t need to, because my story has already been told in…

what classic book?

Actually, I can’t think of one. This is, I fear, less a testament to the uniqueness of my life than to the weakness of my memory. Here are some I’ve disqualified:

The Secret Garden: Never was orphaned
Alice in Wonderland: Did plenty of daydreaming, but never fell down a rabbit hole
Peter Pan: Believed in Tinker Bell at one point, but never learned to fly
Farmer in the Sky: Never went to Ganymede. Heck, never left Earth at all.
Ballet Shoes: Never orphaned, never went to a stage school. I do have a sister, but just one. That’s enough IMO.
Theater Shoes: Never orphaned, never went to a stage school, never got a scholarship. Have a sister but no brother. I do have male cousins, though. Oh, yes, and I did discover previously unknown family at the age of eight or so.

Well, so far Theater Shoes is the closest, due to the family thing. My father, it turns out, was the youngest of six, but until we were six and eight we never knew. It turns out Dad had been seeing his siblings regularly — he just never bothered to tell the rest of us about them. It turns out I had five cousins on my father’s side I hadn’t previously known about, as well as three Aunts and two Uncles. Let’s hear it for family.

Tuesday: Favorite Childhood Books

If you read yesterday’s post, you already know some of my childhood favorites and the reasons I liked them. But here’s another: when I was in fourth grade, my absolute favorite book was the Landmark biography, “Life of Saint Patrick.” As my family is Jewish, this was something I knew nothing about, and I was fascinated. I read the book at least seven times over the course of that year. The history was just so interesting. Too bad I didn’t find my social studies courses in school nearly as compelling. As I told my kids, I was paying attention on Math and English, and some of the time in Science, but not in social studies, so if they had history questions on their homework, then needed to ask someone else.

National Great Books Week: Seven Book for a Desert Island

In honor of National Great Books Week, I’ll be posting about books this week, Monday through Friday. Today’s topic: If I were stranded on a desert island with only seven books to read over the next few years, what would they be?

1. Corny, perhaps, but true: The King James Version of the Bible, old and new testaments.
My oldest son has read the entire old testament at least twice that I know of, but while I’ve read parts of it, I’ve never read the entire old testament, and the only parts of the new testament I’ve read were the parts on Jesus’ birth, which I looked up when I was in college in order to write a Christmas story for a French class.

In case you’re wondering, my family of origin is Jewish.

2. Because it’s pretty much my all-time favorite book, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll.
When I was in college, I’d try to keep my mind on my studies, so I’d eschew trips to the local library. I’d end up having book withdrawal symptoms, and thus I would reread Alice every exam time.

I also taught myself to wiggle my ears, a talent I passed on to one of my sons (the bible reader) during middle school. His teachers were less than thrilled.

3. One of my favorite books as a kid, Peter Pan, by James M. Barrie.
A classic, and I can’t remember the number of times I reread this.

4. Another childhood favorite, Understood Betsey, by Dorothy Canfield Fisher.
I just reread this one, and it’s still a great read.

5. Theater Shoes, by Noes Streatfield.
I read all of Streatfield’s SHOES books, but this one is by far my favorite, perhaps because I read it first.

6. Farmer in the Sky, by Robert A. Heinlein.
This is the Heinlein I picked out as a present for my 10th birthday. It’s hard to pick just one of Heinlein’s books, as they are all compulsively readable, but this one remains one of my favorites.

7.The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
I just love this one, too. The flowering of the garden and the characters gets me every time.