Ann's Blog
Ann McCauley is a Pennsylvania women's literature author, who wrote the books Runaway Grandma and Mother Love, both available for sale at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
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March 2020
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03/24/20
March Blog
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 5:05 pm
What a difference a month can make! Before the Shelter-in-Place orders from the government, I drove in town nearly everyday. Tomorrow will only be day 5 of our quarantine, it feels longer. We are fortunate to have wonderful neighbors who did my banking and post office run this week. We had stocked up on most everything we could, but we will need more fresh bananas by the end of the week. Never before did buying bananas seem like an important task! 

Last Friday, we picked up our van from the repair shop, (see last month’s blog about our accident), and returned the rental SUV we’d been driving. The van looks brand new. (Woohoo!) We stopped at the grocery store, bought a few things and ordered Fish Fries to go. We were waiting for our order when I suddenly had to cough, I carefully coughed into the sleeve of my sweater. No one said. “Bless you”. But everyone took a step away from me and glared at me maliciously. I don’t blame them. It is a nuisance residual dry cough from a bad cold I had a few weeks ago.
Each day I tackle another neglected corner of our home, and even spent a couple days reorganizing files on my computer. If this Shelter-in-Place lasts long enough, I might have everything organized the way I only dreamed it would be someday! I am also making good progress on Willow Lane book 3, 
so far untitled. 
We’ve only seen one movie worth mentioning this month, from Netflicks, “A Million Little Pieces“. It is a very well done movie about addiction. We were quite impressed with it, we’d both worked with addicts before we retired from health care. Interestingly, it is based on the novel by James Frey, he’d wanted to fiction, (based loosely on his own life.) His publishers insisted it be listed as a memoir, and Oprah chose it for her book of the month. Then she famously trashed his book on national tv for not being a true memoir! It is a very good movie about addiction, not for children or the weak of heart. 
I’ve read a few interesting books this month: 
Songcatcher by Sharon McCrumb. Penquin, 2012. Historical Fiction. It is a fascinating story of the of the Scots settlers and their own special music passed down form one generation to generation in southern Appalachia, from 1700s through 2000s. There is suspense, great characters and surprise plot twists. I like historical fiction because its educational as well as entertaining. Ms. McCrumb holds the honor of telling the tales of these fiercely private mountain people in the many books she’s written over the last 20 plus years. I’ve read several and they never disappoint me.
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. Knopf. 2013. Fiction. This novel was chosen as one of the Best Books of the Year by NY Times, Washington Post, & Chicago Tribune. Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Its written with raw honesty, wit and heart-wrenching agony, deals with poverty, middle class  and wealth, reflecting the immigrant’s American experience, leaving Nigeria ’s middle class and returning twenty years later. The protagonist, Ifemelu’s and Obinze’s struggles, are universal. It is a powerful novel, well worth reading.    
The Last Letter From Your Lover, by Jo Jo Moyes. Penquin. 2010. Fiction.This novel begins in 1960, moves ahead to 2010, and back again. Jo Jo Moyes always has the year at the beginning of the chapter when the year changes. This  helps readers stay with the story when she move back and forth. It has plenty of the wit and realistic dialogue that Moyes fans expect. Characters are well-developed and the plot is full of surprises. I loved it!
The Girl You Left Behind, by JoJo Moyes. Penquin. 2012. Historical Fiction. Another Moyes book! I can’t help it, I love her books! When I bought it at B&N on vacation, I didn’t realize I’d read it when it first came out. There are so many twists and turns to this plot that I loved it even more the second reading. The research is spot-on and the characters are wonderful. It starts out in German occupied France during WW1. And ends in London in 2012. Two sisters survive under duress while their husbands are off in the French army. Stolen French art, wartime sacrifices, orphaned children, widowhood are weaved together with empathy and skill by this gifted writer.


Till next month, keep reading my friends and stay well. 
Later, 
Ann

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02/28/20
February Blog, 2020
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 3:15 pm
 What a month it has been! We spent two relaxing and fun weeks at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. I love that H.H. has a large and welcoming B&N.
My two sisters and their husbands joined us, as did two of our cousins. It was a such a good time. We also have dear friends who spend their winters at H.H. Together and singularly we had fun, and made more great memories. Sadly my youngest sister’s husband had a death in his family and they had to leave early. So, coming home we were driving north on I-95, (my least favorite highway in the USA!), when an accident brought both lanes to a sudden stop. I managed to avoid rear ending the car in front of me, swerved to the then empty right lane and we were hit by a car that was hit by the car behind it. Then a tractor trailer came barreling in between our van and the right lane! Screeching brakes and the smell of burning rubber filled the air. And wouldn’t you know, the man who hit us gave us fake info. Good grief. The next day we made it to my sister’s home near Baltimore to pay our respects in the passing of our brother-in-law’s sister.   We were not hurt, though there was $5000.00 in damage to our van, it was still drivable.
My sisters and cousin and I went for some wonderful long walks on HH. We did some unexpected exploring when we lost our way a couple times. But that only makes it more interesting! We read books, went to a few good movies and cooked very little. So many restaurants and so little time! Our friend who lives at Sea Pines gave my cousin and me a walking tour of Deer Island that is connected to Sea Pines by a one-lane bridge. There were thirty to forty round “tree” houses built on 10 or 12 foot stilts, maybe higher. There was a thick over-growth of tropical forest that kept each one somewhat secluded from their neighbor. I’ve heard our friend talk about Deer Island for several years and it was fascinating to finally see it.
One afternoon my husband and I went to see Knives Out movie, we got the last two seats in the theater, far left, front row! Not the best seats in the house, for sure. But what a fun and great movie! It had been along time since we went to  see a movie that the entire audience applauded as the credits rolled.We want to see it again on Netflix when it’s available.
Another day my cousin and I went to see Just Mercy. It was a wonderful thought provoking movie. I had read the book and the writer had actually been to our local university to speak a few years ago. I’d been unable to attend but had heard he was an exceptional speaker.   
My husband and his friend went to see 1917. He told me enough about it that I chose not to see it, too violent and too sad. They both said it was an excellent movie. 
We all went to see Ford vs Ferrari. I am not really into cars, other than what color is it? My brother-in-law cried twice during the movie, at times we all laughed and could hardly believe we’d been sitting for two hours when it was over, it was so good and so exciting! Even better because it was based on a true story. I’d really never heard of Shelby before. My brother called us the next morning and told me about the time he’d seen Shelby in his Las Vegas museum/store. It had been a momentous joy for him to be in the same room with that man. After seeing the movie, I understand why. (My brother is definitely a car guy!) I watched it a second time since coming home, it was just as good as it had been the first time!

I’ve read several books since my last blog, as usual I will mention only the ones I liked. (I bought two and disliked them so much, despite their publisher’s big pre-pub marketing that I returned them and told B&N why. Their campaigns hooked me into buying them BUT couldn’t make me keep them when they were so weak and poorly written.) One of the last things my Mother said to me was, “Life is too short for bad books.”   

 The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides. 2019. Debut novel. Set in north London. A powerful, thought-provoking with more plot twists than any novel I’ve ever read. A psychological thriller  about violence, obsession and the dark side of passion. David Baldacci said, “The pages will burn with the friction from your hands turning them.” Ironically, my husband read it after me, and was very impressed, found it amazing and had no idea what was going on throughout most of the novel, just like me. He’s a retired psychiatrist who trained in London in the 1960s; he completed his psychiatry residency in the Tootenbeck Hospital that’s part of this story. Small world.

By Invitation Only by Dorothea Benton Frank. 2018. Fiction. I loved her cast of
characters, especially her protagonist Lady Di. I always think her lead
characters must have a lot of her personality traits. Ms. Frank’s subtle wit
threads through this novel as it does all the others. The deep familial love
between siblings Diane and Floyd, and their parents is beautifully written.
Though they annoy each other at times they always have each other’s backs. (The
gentle teasing was a sweet reminder to me of growing up in a large farm family
that showed no mercy whenever there was a chance to tease one another.) Diane’s
son, Fred falls in love with a wealthy city girl. The contrast of his
Lowcountry peach farm and her million-dollar Chicago lifestyle couldn’t have
been farther apart. Ms. Frank weaves a touching story and ultimately all
characters become empathetic in the reader’s eyes. Nothing is as it seems to
be. The transformation of the characters is believable. It’s a hoot as well as a make-you-feel-good book.
  *I was sad to learn Dorothea Benton Frank died September
2019. Thank goodness she wrote
her novels for readers to enjoy for generations to come!
 
The Giver of Stars by JoJo
Moyes. 2019. Historical Fiction.
Every now and then, I read a book that is exceptionally
GREAT. The Giver of Stars is one of those. JoJo Moyes works her magic,
like a breath of fresh air to this page-turning suspenseful historical novel
with unforgettable characters and enough plot twists to keep the reader
guessing until the last page. Moyes’ trademark wit keeps the dark themes that
thread through the novel from becoming too melancholy.
The English protagonist, Alice Wright, has enough spunk and
determination to survive her loveless marriage to the only son of the wealthy mine
owner in the forlorn fictional coal mining town of Baileyville, Kentucky. Her
source of purpose and inspiration is volunteering to be part of Eleanor
Roosevelt’s new traveling library. These Packhorse Librarians venture through
the hollers and mountains, in all kinds of weather and get to know the secluded
mountain people. They teach those who do not know how to read the basics of
reading. This was a time when mountain folks did not have telephones, radios or
televisions. Reading was there one and only entertainment, connection and
source of information to life beyond their rugged mountain homes.
After her father-in-law savagely beats Alice on her first Christmas day in America, a battered bleeding Alice walks out into the cold, and never
returns. Margery offers her refuge and their friendship becomes a welcome
relief for both of them.
Margery, a notorious deceased bootlegger’s daughter, is the
lead librarian and becomes Alice’s best friend. Three other strong independent
women join them; though only Margery knew she was strong and self-sufficient
before they got started. These brave women refused to be intimidated by men or
the social norms of their times. They learn to depend on each other with a new
found sense of loyalty, justice and humanity, while the men they love are
supportive and often in awe of their women’s courage.
This is a well-researched novel about true events from
America’s past. The Giver of Stars will likely become a modern classic.
It is unmatched in its range and riveting larger-than-life storytelling, humor,
and heartaches.

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher, 2019. Novel - Suspense, Mystery. This novel is never what you think it is. The narrator is unreliable and every time you think you know what’s happening, the table turns upside down. It’s definitely a page turner that you won’t soon forget. 

The Kennedy Debutante by Kerri Maher. 2018. Historical fiction. It is the story Kathleen ‘Kick’ Kennedy, the brilliant beautiful second daughter of Rose and Joe Kennedy starting in 1939 while her father was the U.S. Ambassador to England until four years after WW2. The Kennedys are portrayed as hard working, passionate, intelligent, entitled hard Irish drinkers with a clannish loyalty to each other. It is a well researched book but not classified as biographical. If you have a even a slight interest in the Kennedy years, this might be a just the book for you. I learned a lot about the mysterious Kathleen who had close relationships with her older brothers, Joe and Jack. Knowing all the heartache that lay ahead for this family as I read the book made me feel sad for them, despite all their privilege and wealth.
The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan. 2017. Debut novel. Historical Fiction. WW2 England. It is was a sweet read, well researched with likable 
characters. The plot was not suspenseful. The book was cleverly written with multiple voices in the form of letters or journal entries. It reminded me a good bit of The Guernsey Isle Potato Peel Society. A very nice companion book for a cold winter nights.

I was fortunate to read an Advance Reader Copy of American
Dirt
by Jeanine Cummins last November. I immediately pre-ordered my own
copy. It is an amazing novel that knocked my socks off. The first page starts
off with a literal bang and every page thereafter is so full of tension that it
was almost a one-night book. 
Like many other readers, I was stunned with the protests of some Latino writers American Dirt was released on January 20. This was followed by retractions by some reviewers who had praised American Dirt before its release. The author even had to cancel her book tour due to death threats. Accusing Cummins of not suffering the real immigrant experience. Good
grief, do writers have to kill someone to write a murder story? That’s what
research is for. It seemed more like professional jealousy than protesting
authenticity.

Well that ’s all for this month. Till next time,  keep reading my friends. 


Later. Ann


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Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 3:14 pm

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01/18/20
Wishing all a Happy Valentine’s Day
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 4:03 pm
The snow looks so beautiful and peaceful, a real winter wonderland.Today’s winter storm reminds me of the snow days of my youth.Although I no longer bundle up to rush outside to build snow forts and sled down the hills. They are wonderful memories, it must have been cold but I don’t remember shivering from the chill, we were always so active. However, when we could barely feel our toes and our fingers were stiff, we’d return to the warm house. Mom would have a big pot of real hot chocolate ready for us, I’ll never forget how good it felt to put our hands around those mugs of the best hot chocolate in the world. I hope today’s children will have similar memories to carry with them.
Christmas is neatly packed away until next November and the busyness of the holidays is over for this season. This gives me and you more time to read. I cozy up with a good book by the fireplace and read my evenings away. I love it! 
Some of the good books Ihave read this month are: 
 This Is Happiness, by Niall Williams. Fiction. Irish Literature. If you are a descendant of Ireland, I don’t care how many generations back, this sweet thought-provoking book could be just what you need to read as you begin the new year. It is a book about coming…coming of age, coming of electricity, and mostly for all the characters in this wonderful novel, about change coming. It is set in Fa-Fa, a small Irish parish, unchanged in a thousand years. But the changes are apparent everywhere. Generations of children have grown and gone off faraway to make their lives. Till there are only a few young stragglers left behind with all the older folks. It is a tender portrait of community. The prose is so beautiful that it must be read aloud at times. I re-read many paragraphs-not because I couldn’t make sense of them but rather because they were simply so cleverly written. The author doesn’t just write pretty words, the characters are well developed and the plot has surprises and depth that stays with the reader long after reading the novel.
The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Robert Hillman. Australian historical fiction. It is an unforgettable story that moves between 1960s Australia and WW2 Europe. Fate brings two emotionally scarred people together. Every character steals the readers heart in this beautifully written novel.
The Guardians by John Grisham. Fiction.This is a real page-turner as all of his books are. It is about three attorneys whose life work is to free innocent convicts from prison. An inside look at dirty politics interfering with justice. The protagonist’s humor is refreshing as the tension builds…it started out a bit slow and had many characters to  keep straight BUT was well worth reading. It all came together.  A very exciting and thought provoking novel. Interestingly, in his life away from his writing desk, Grisham serves on The Board of Directors of the Innocence Project. 
  *”It’s fairly easy to convict an innocent man and virtually impossible to exonerate one.”
Lights Out by Ted Koppel. Nonfiction. A relevant book for today’s politically tumultuous times.What would you do if the lights went out for weeks or months and you had no electricity? Without a personal generator: no refrigeration, no heat, no water, no sewage, no phone. if you do not prepare for disaster in advance, your supplies of batteries and bottled water would soon be used up. Food and medical supplies would disappear fast. USA has only three power grids. A cyber-attack on our power gird would cripple much of our infrastructure. “It is not a question of if, it’s a question of when.”    *Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.
A Burrowing of Bones by Paula Munier. Fiction. Suspense. Crime. A former military police officer, Mercy Carr, and her former bomb sniffing dog, Elvis spend their days recovering from PTSD hiking in the Vermont wilderness. When Mercy finds an abandoned baby along the trail and Elvis alerts to nearby explosives, it is the only the tip of the iceberg of a web of lies, deceit and murder. A good read. 
We have enjoyed the reruns of Ken Burn’s  History of Country Music,Friday nights form 8 till 10 on PBS. Wonderful entertainment. 
The only movie we watched this month was the new version of Little Women. I believe they’ve made more than enough movies of Louisa M Alcott’s sweet novel! I like movies and books to be told chronologically. This version jumped form the  current days to the old days and days somewhere in between. I had seen several other presentations and read the book, yet I still struggled. A friend beside me was really lost since this was her first experience with Little Women!

Till next time, Please keep reading my friends! 
Ann


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12/31/19
Happy New Year - 2020!
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 11:42 am
Wow! 2020, it’s hard to believe that in a few hours the 20-teens will be history. I wonder in the whole scheme of things, how this last decade will be remembered. I suppose that will vary from person to person, and country to country … depending on the circumstances and experiences of each individual. I feel so fortunate to have been born and raised in the USA. Sure, it’s not perfect here but compared to the lives of those born in so many other places, it is heaven. If you are a citizen of the USA, you are a lucky soul.
I hope you all had a Christmas season with joy, laughter and time to reflect. Ours was bursting with joy, loud with laughter and then when everyone went home, lots of time for reflection and eating leftovers! We had 27 for our Christmas Eve dinner; we are nearly reaching capacity. Trust me it was a lively time at our home with 6 great-grands, ages 1, 2, 4 ,5, 6 and 8, running around with unsuppressed excitement! The oldest great-grand, age 12, hung out with the teenage grands. One daughter lives in Switzerland and couldn’t come home this year, three grandsons were not here, two by choice and one by distance BUT he will be returning to British soil from his post in Nigers, Africa in 20 more days. Woo hoo!
We hosted a Christmas dinner party for a few friends on December 18. We had 17 for dinner, our college granddaughter came over that day to visit and help me prepare. Turns out I would not have made it without her help! I still wasn’t ready when guests arrived. But not many noticed when I exited to do a quick change. We all had a great time. And our granddaughter stayed all night after helping with the clean-up.
We watched four movies during December, not including many Hallmark Christmas movies while I was putting the finishing stitches in my fleece blanket Christmas gifts.(Rather quickly, they all kind of run together for me.)
 Beyond the Blackboard was a wonderful movie about a young teacher and her first teaching position. It was so good that my husband shouted “Bravo” when it ended. I’ve never seen him do that for any movie before!
Beautiful Day in The Neighborhood, the story of Mr. Rogers and his impact on one young family was another wonderful movie. We both loved it. It truly was an unmatched children’s show. I remember watching it when my children were young. It was on just before nap time.( I’m still not sure needed their naps more, me or them!)
Best of Enemies, based on the true story of Durham, NC head of the KKK and a community organizer who reluctantly worked together for school integration. Another totally excellent movie.
Richard Jewell, the Clint Eastwood movie about the falsely accused security guard at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Disturbing to see how the press and the authorities can distort the law and draw false conclusions that can so adversely affect a person’s life. Whatever happened to ,,, “Innocent until proven guilty by a jury of  their peers.”??? Another excellent, thought provoking movie. 
I read only one  book, an early Christmas gift from my cousin: Kurt Vonnegut/ Pity The Reader On Writing With Style by Suzanne McConnell. It was not a fast or easy read but so worth the time. I even took notes! I was amazed that such a famous writer and great teacher was not even mentioned in my masters classes for my M.A  in Creative Writing. 
I  also read several short Christmas stories which helped keep my Christmas spirit alive.

My article, Why I Still Write is published in the Jan/Feb 2020 Working Writer Newsletter. This is a free bi-monthly newsletter and in my opinion one of the best available anywhere. You can subscribe at: 
Subscriptions by U.S. mail delivery are still available for $12.95 per year, $11.95 for seniors and students (you know who you are), $24.95 for 2 years.

Subscribe for hard-copy delivery (U.S. only) at PayPal.com .
For a free e-mail sample or subscription, send your request to: workingwriters@aol.com

Till next time, keep reading my friends!

Later, Ann
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11/30/19
It’s that time of the year…Merry Christmas!
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 1:13 pm
I am feeling somewhat pressured, I know why, it’s the season to be jolly — and so much is expected of all of us by everyone. Gosh, no wonder I wrote a book called Pressure Cooker Christmas! ~  We made it through Thanksgiving with flying colors. Twenty three family members around the table, it was truly a blessing. The six great-grands, ages: eight, six, five, four, two and one kept things very lively!! Though we did miss family who were too faraway to be with us this year. 
Soccer season ended up with defeat for my granddaughter’s team in the play-offs. It was a close game as were so many that they ended up winning. She was named her team’s MVP for the season. Now we are anticipating her Christmas concert in two weeks. Gosh, before we know it, her senior year will be over!
We are in the midst of decorating the inside of our home since then for Christmas, we finished the outside yesterday. Tonight we have some dear friends coming for dinner. Since the dining room table is piled high with all sorts of tree and house decorations, we will eat at the kitchen table.


My writing news this month: My most recent novel, Mother Love, Willow Lane, Book Two, is being honored as a
Notable 100 Book in the Shelf Unbound Best Indie Book Competition. (Shelf Media is a digital online magazine, awarded the Maggie Award for the Best Digital Magazine in 2015, 2016 and 2017). It would have been nice to have won first place but making the list is better than nothing! 


I read four good books this month: 
American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins. Fiction. WOW!! This was the most engrossing book I’ve read in the last few years. It is compared to the Grapes of Wrath, gut wrenchingly sad at times. Stephen King said, “An extraordinary piece of work. A perfect balancing act with terror on one side and love on the other. The prose is immaculate and the story never lets up….”  it will not be released until January 20, 2020. I  already preordered a copy. I was lucky to read an Advance Reader Copy
The Paris Seamstress by Natasha Lester. Historical fiction. Another unforgettable WW2 novel. About fashion design in 1940 and to present day that moves between three continents. Layers of intrigue, heartache and secrets.  Just when I thought I knew what was what, I didn’t. This novel keeps the reader guessing and turning the pages.
The Peacock Emporium by JoJo Moyes. Historical fiction set in the 1960’s. Moves between Australia and England. Not typical of her other novels but once I got past the slow start, I really enjoyed the story. The last half of the novel became a page turner. This was our Book Club choice for this month.
The Guardians by John Grisham. Fiction. A real page turner as all of his books are. It is about three attorneys whose life work is to free innocent convicts from prison. An inside look at dirty politics interfering with justice. The protagonist’s humor is refreshing as the tension builds…
The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Robert Hillman. Historical fiction. An unforgettable story that moves between 1960s Australia and WW2 Europe. Fate brings two emotionally scarred people together. Every character steals the readers heart in this beautifully written novel.
We watched three exceptionally good movies this month: 
Midway, a WW2 movie about Pearl Harbor attack and the battle for Midway, at the movie theater. Excellent movie.
Judy, the story of Judy Garland’s life, wonderfully performed. Sad and unforgettable. Renewed my disdain for Hollywood’s use of child performers. It seems criminal to rob children of their childhoods. 
American Wrestler, an excellent movie about the Iranian immigrant teenager, who barely escapes Iran with  nothing but his life during the Iraq/Iran War. An unforgettable movie on so many levels. Even if you have NO interest in wrestling, it is a great movie. We watched it through Netflicks.

Till next time, keep reading my friends.
Later,  Ann 
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10/31/19
October Blog
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 5:17 pm
It’s been pouring most of the day. A terribly rainy night for all the little trick or treaters. The weather forecasts we may get our first snow tomorrow. And that makes me glad I had my winter tires installed this week. It is that time of the year. The days seem to fly by faster each month. Some people suggest I have too much to do. I can’t quite agree with that. I only do what needs to be done, and then a few extra projects here and there! Family birthdays must be recognized, our youngest great grandchild recently celebrated her first birthday. Great grandchildren are wonderful reviews of child development courses! On family vacation early last summer, she was nine months old and clung to her parents, if they were in sight, the rest of us were nothing but dead meat! Four months later she’s a fearless little explorer who chases her much larger dog around relentlessly, giggling all the while. It is such fun to watch them grow, she has become great buddies with her two year old cousin. 
Another granddaughter was crowned Homecoming Queen of her High School, her sister had been Homecoming Queen just two years earlier. Such sweet memories for them and all of us! However…I can’t help remembering my dad’s opinion of high school queens, and their courts. (He was on the school board the whole time I was in school.) My sisters were both Prom Queens and I was on the Prom court. (We didn’t have homecoming at my school.) Dad refused to go to any of those coronation ceremonies because he felt it was a cruel ritual for all the girls who were never on the courts. That was my dad, always taking a stand for his beliefs. However, if you had seen me at my granddaughter’s homecoming ceremonies, you’d never believe I was his daughter. Sorry Dad, I couldn’t help being so happy and excited for the girls!
Please keep our Air Force grandson in your prayers. He’s serving in an outpost in Nigers, Africa. We can’t help but worry about him. He has three more months until his time there is up.

There is a great little bookstore in Wellsboro that I highly recommend everyone who likes to read should visit. From My Shelf Books and Gifts, this week it was named one of the top 25 indie book stores in the USA. They also sell all my books. To visit, copy and paste: https://wellsborobookstore.indielite.org/   (The owner, Kevin Coolidge, is also the author of a delightful series for elementary students: The Totally Ninja Raccoons. Very creative and exciting stories with beautifully illustrated characters. Also very reasonably priced, great Christmas gift idea for young readers.) We enjoyed a wonderful lunch at the Native Bagel and then drove ten miles to visit the PA Grand Canyon, it was seasonally colorful and beautiful. I’d never been there before, I am so glad we were able to see it. Then we visited our college sophomore granddaughter at Mansfield University. We took her out to dinner and had lots of fun. She is such a kind and happy sweet girl. 

I finished almost all of our outside pre-winter gardening, and was rewarded with two more bee stings…right through the fabric of a long sleeved denim shirt! Ouch, I could hardly believe it! 
The roses are still in blossom and thriving. I hope to get a nice photo of the roses while partially covered with snow. 

I’m also in the midst of sewing a large stack of fleece blankets for Christmas gifts. Last year I made forty-four, this year I’m making only about sixteen. 

I have been working for months to get my Amazon author’s page to the point I wanted to share it:   
https://www.amazon.com/Ann-McCauley/e/B003U0KQCO?ref_=dbs_p_ebk_r00_abau_000000
It amazes me how much patience and diligence are required to achieve these small goals. I still want to   edit my profile a bit but haven’t figured out how to do it yet. Meanwhile, I continue to work on my next novel.

Good books I’ve read this month
I finished reading, for the second time, The Bay Tanner Mystery series by Kathryn R. Wall. Fiction. Love the characters and the plots. Great fun reads.

The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks. Fiction. There were many surprising twists and turns to this plot. Strong, easy to like characters. I am glad I read this novel.

 The Forgotten Road by Richard Paul Evans. Fiction. Another book I am glad I read, though the plot was a bit less believable and the character not so likable. I won’t soon forgot the story though, it is the second novel in a trilogy about the protagonist. But it can easily be read as a stand alone novel. 

It’s My Turn by R. J. Marcott. Fiction. This is a fast paced novel with likable characters and a plot with many surprises. The author’s wit and wisdom shine through to create a unique story, the question at the top of the back page: Can Erika build a life of her own after her marriage to the cross-dressing-church-lady organist? (Erika is the protagonist.)

We’ve seen three movies:
Wonder, a heart warming family movie about a young boy with a badly scarred face learning to deal with his peers after years of protective home-schooling. This is a feel-good movie.

Luce, another family movie, well acted with layers of complex issues barely exposed. It is not a feel good movie, very complicated and sad.

The Commuter with Liam Neesen. Action/suspense movie, fast-paced with layers of deception and intrigue. A good movie.
 
Till next time. Keep reading my friends!

Later, Ann
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09/30/19
Hello Fall
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 2:02 pm
 I love this time of the year! I am so happy to see the leaves changing, the cooler temperatures and every thing about this season. There are high school football and soccer games, lots of cheering on the grandchildren in their various sports. Also as the days get shorter, somehow it just feels cozier. 
 
I have not read as many books as usual this month because I committed16 hours to watching the Ken Burn’s History of Country Music special on PBS. My husband’s background was loving classical music and he’s gently taught me to appreciate it too. I grew up listening and singing along to country music. He’s learned to like some of my country music. BUT after watching this Ken Burns special he became a bonafide country music fan! I ordered the sound track from the show from Amazon. He’s ordered several individual cds of the early country performers! (And he must not be the only one because Amazon put him on a wait list until they receive more cds.) I realized after watching all those segments that my life has been like a country song. Good grief.
 
We’ve also seen three good movies. At the theater: Fallen Angel, an action movie was quite good.
Downton Abbey, loved it! And we hope there will be at least one more. All the sub-plots were delicious.
From Netflix: Bombshell -The Heddy Lamar Story. Very good, much intrigue. The lady was much more than a pretty face, a math genius with a patent for airwave variance, etc. that could have left her and her family multi-billionaires but didn’t.  Interestingly, this was a documentary and used old recorded interviews, photographs and old movie clips to tell her compelling story. 

I have read a couple books won’t mention and one I will. Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry.  Fiction. I received it as birthday gift. I’ve never read anything like it, and it left me feeling happy to have read it. Written in 2000 by a prolific author. Though I’d neve read any of his books before. I recommend
Jayber Crow. The prose is almost poetic. The story is soft and almost sweet at times, but full of meat to think about for a long time after reading the last page.

The winners of the BookSweeps Giveaway were Esther in California and Diane in Rhode Island. They have already received their free Kindle copies of Mother Love, Willow Lane, Book 2. 

I now have 214 followers on BookBub, it’s a fantastic online site to follow your favorite authors and get some GREAT deals on good books, old and new. Please check it out at BookBub.com. More followers are always welcome! 

I also have more than a thousand subscribers from all around the world for my Willow Lane Newsletter. And yes, I’m working on my next novel.

Till next time, keep reading my friends!

Ann 
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08/31/19
Good-Bye Summer!
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 2:16 pm
The nights are cooler, and there is a briskness to the morning air. Lovely weather indeed! Autumn has long been my favorite season. I realize it is not officially fall until September 23, but Labor Day is when the season changes for me.  I’ve decorated our home for fall already, never did it quite so early but I am glad it is done!
This morning my step-daughter and I went to see my son’s daughter play a soccer game. It was fun and the weather was perfect. Her team lost but put up a good effort they were out-played by the other team. I wore sandals and a bee got stuck between my toes and couldn’t get out of my sandal. Ouch!! he stung me at least once, and boy did that hurt! A piece of ice inside a napkin, helped relieve the discomfort. 
During August we celebrated family birthdays with picnics and cake. Ninety-five of us celebrated our 50th annual McCauley Family Reunion on the farm in southern Clarion County where my mother and her six siblings were born. Of her generation, only her youngest brother survives. Everyone agreed it was truly a wonderful day of re-connecting with family, thanks to the gracious hospitality of our cousin Jerry and his wife Sherry who open their home to us a each year.  The hayride is always a welcome treat, especially with those who travel from cities and are not familiar with good old fashioned fun. And did I mention the food? Everyone brings a dish or two to share, allow me to say that it is NOT a good day to diet!  
We cooked for two days and hosted a dinner party on August 23rd, for several friends, it was such a fun evening for all of us. Though, I slept till11 A.M. the next day. Hate to admit that party preparation is not as easy as it used to be.
The BOOKSWEEPS Read and Reflect: Literary, Historical and Women’s Fiction Contest ended August 14th, Two winners, May in Iowa and Pam in Georgia will receive their free e-books of Mother Love, Willow Lane, Book Two this afternoon. Thank you to the hundreds of you who signed up, there will be another BOOKSWEEPS contest starting soon.  I will certainly let you know when you can sign up for another chance to win a free e-book.
I’ve read a few good books this month: 
The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates. Nonfiction. Reading this is a life-attitude changing experience. Melinda is NOT your typical rich man’s wife. It made me respect Bill Gates more than I ever did before simply because he married this incredible woman. She, like her husband has a solid middle-class background. Her empathy for fellow human beings, regardless of race, creed or culture is amazing. Instead of being overwhelmed with problems facing our planet today, she embraces this motto: “If you want to lift a society up, you need to stop keeping women down.” I highly recommend this book.
Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica. Fiction, suspense. An entirely different type of book from the aforementioned one. A definite page turner, well written with layer upon layer of plot surprises, well developed characters. I really liked this novel. It was our book club choice for August.
The Beneficiary by Janny Scott. Nonfiction. Memoir/autobiographic of the author’s family history. This is a story of one family tree of a Main Line, Philadelphia from late the1800s through early 2000s. It provides an incisive look at the weight of inheritance, the power of buried secrets, alcoholism, entitlement and self-absorption. A great contrast in values to the book by Melinda Gates. A worthwhile read.
 
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Fiction. We watched and enjoyed the movie, Rebel in the Rye, the movie was very informative and entertaining. We both loved it, and I decided to read the novel. It is a small novel and I read it quickly, with only one question on my mind. WHY? It was such a privileged whiney story. I couldn’t figure out why/how it had ever been such a huge success. There was no story arc, it just rambled on and on and then stopped with no resolutions.
As mentioned above we watched and enjoyed Rebel In The Rye, the story of J.D.Salinger and really liked it.
I am looking forward to some good movies. Racing In The Rain is playing this week and having read the book some time ago, can’t wait to see it!
We enjoyed The Mule, starring, directed and produced by Clint Eastwood. It was a sweet at times movie and we loved the closing song, “Don’t Let The Old Man In.” 
Till next time, keep reading my friends.
Later, Ann
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07/30/19
July Blog
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 3:46 pm
The hot muggy summer days continue to slip away. I enjoy being out in the sunshine and even appreciate rainy days. My morning rituals are watering plants, weeding the garden, and walking the dog. Mowing the lawn takes up at least one day of each week. This month we’ve lived under a cloud of grief due to a favorite cousin’s accidental death in a head-on horrific motor accident on July 3. It is assumed the other driver fell asleep and drifted across the road…regardless two drivers were killed on their way to work the morning of July 3. A terrible tragedy for two families. My cousin was the kind of guy who could take over a room just by walking in, always with a smirk, and slowly look around. Everyone would know he was there and the fun would soon begin!

My newest book is in a BOOKSWEEPS giveaway this week

https://booksweeps.com/book-giveaway/literary-historical-womens-fiction-july-2019/

Have you
read Ann McCauley’s Mother Love, Willow Lane, Book 2? For a limited
time, you can enter for a chance to win the e-book plus 30 fantastic Literary, Historical,
and Women’s Fiction e-books from an amazing collection of authors, AND a new e-Reader
- along with a collection of FREE reads just for entering!

Enter the
contest by clicking:
 http://www.bit.ly/LiteraryFiction-July2019

 *When you’re
done, please leave a comment to let me know you’ve entered!

 Good books I’ve read this month:

Lily Campbell’s SECRET by Jennifer Bryce. Historical Fiction. (WW1 era) Debut novel by this Australian author. I hope it won’t be her last! It was an enlightening, gripping story with well developed characters and shocking unexpected plot twists.

I read four Hank books by Henry Winkler. Fiction. (Winkler grew up with Dyslexia, and perhaps Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity.) Hank,the main character, manages with all three disorders and lots of humor. The books are targeted to elementary age children. I read them with our 8 year old great grandson, sort of tag team reading, we couldn’t stop before the end of a book because we always wanted to know what was going to happen next. When I grew tired of reading aloud, he took his turn. It was actually quite fun! There are 12 books in the series so far, very inexpensive and totally engaging for 8 year old boys.

Redemption by David Baldacci. Fiction. Thriller/Mystery. it started out a bit slow but once I got into it, I could hardly put it down. Page turning with a complicated plot. It was a follow-up to Memory Man that I read last month. 

My Name Is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira. Historical Fiction. (Civil War era) Debut novel, extremely well researched with authentic period details; deals with struggle for woman’s rights, medicine, politics, war, familial interpersonal conflicts and the heroine’s relentless quest to be a surgeon.

*I’ve read a couple other books but decline to mention books I don’t recommend. Each book I mention I also highly recommend!

We have watched three good movies

The Mountain Between Us from Netflix. A very powerful movie about two strangers who charter a small plane to get them ahead of a snow-storm to get a connection to their destinations, but end up crashing in the high Rockies. High drama. *Don’t watch it just before flying!

Yesterday in movie theater. A sweet movie, especially for Beatles music fans, I personally thought the young actor/singer who sang the Beatles songs sang them better than the original group did, certainly with more gusto and passion! And the lovely British actress Lily James was a co-star. Can’t go wrong when she is in a movie!

The Lion King at movie theater. Very much like the original movie, a new song or two, beautiful music. The talking animals freaked me out a little but it was a great story. Probably wouldn’t have gone if our great grandson was not here, though. 


Till next time, keep reading my friends.
Later, Ann
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06/30/19
Roll out those lazy hazy days of summer…
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 11:43 am
We arrived home from a week at Bethany Beach, Delaware last night. We rented a large house a couple miles from the beach and filled it with 20 family members, four under five! It was a wonderful time. We enjoyed perfect beach weather and they were all careful about sunscreen, no one got a bad sunburn. It took some cajoling to get our teens into the sunscreen habit, but after their first day at the beach, when they returned to the house pink and bit sore to touch, they decided we may be right! Closer home than the Carolina beaches and everyone appreciates the less drive time. 
I managed to read two good books last week. I read the seventh Bay Tanner Mystery, Sanctuary Hill by  Kathryn R. Wall. I am really going to miss Bay Tanner when I finish the next seven in the series! Publisher Weekly stated, “Wall once again delivers credible characters, a gripping plot and pitch-perfect local color.” The LowCountry Weekly stated” Curling up with a Bay Tanner book feels just as it should - like settling in for tea with an interesting old friend, always familiar, yet  always surprising.” I couldn’t agree more!
My second book was Educated, A Memoir by Tara Westover. It was shockingly raw at times but always a page-turner. I would loved to have been able to discuss it with other readers…maybe I’ll be able to talk my book club into it. She was denied an education and suffered what most would describe as an abusive childhood. The Newsday review stated,  “Westover is able to see the mix of  good and evil, of  pride and hurt, in all these people, including herself. Rather than demonize, she wishes to understand. A brilliant mind so long constricted proves elastic and inventive… Westover writes with uncommon intelligence and grace…”  I highly recommend this memoir.
I also read a few other books  earlier in the month. They were okay but not really worth mentioning and I am under tight time restraints today.
We watched one outstanding movie, Bohemian Rhapsody. It is a powerful movie with great music, from Netflicks.
On the evening of June 20th, I spoke about writing and my books, at the cozy Marionville Library to a group of book lovers from Marionville and Tionesta. It was a wonderful interactive group, and I think we all had a good time. If your group would be interested in having me visit, please contact me through my blog. 
Till next month, keep reading my friends. 
Ann
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05/19/19
My Amazon Giveaway
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 2:06 pm
We are having our first HOT day of summer in n/w Pennsylvania and we are loving it, especially after so many rainy- soggy-wet spring days! There have been so many celebrations in our family this month, hardly know where to start. 

First about my Amazon Giveaway. During the last two months, I tried to set up a promotion for my new book with BookBub, and then Goodreads… without luck. Finally one of my friends suggested I try an Amazon Giveaway. It works! Here is the link: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/512ade9f2a5e0c5c      I am giving away Mother Love, Willow Lane, Book Two, e-books to ten lucky winners. Amazon is taking care of the details. Hurrah for that. (I am still a major klutz with all things computers.) The contest closes on May 26th, so don’t delay.


We celebrated my husband’s 90th birthday for a week. We had family with us from England, Canada and Switzerland plus many from around the USA. On Saturday thirty five family members helped us celebrate with cake and the works. He was almost bowled over with surprise visits from the English great nephews. The next day fifteen of us attended the Southern Tier Symphony at UPB. After intermission, the orchestra serenaded him with Happy Birthday, and the entire audience sang to him. It brought him to tears! Two days later our good friends hosted a surprise birthday party for him at Penn Hills Country Club with his physician colleagues. He also received more than 150 beautiful birthday cards. A large box of his memoirs, The Man From Baghdad, arrived in time for him to give autographed copies to family and friends. It was grand fun, though a bit exhausting too. 

Grandson Ethan, serving in the Air Force is home on leave with his lovely wife, Ana, who is also serving in the Air Force. We’ve been spending as much time with him as possible since he will be heading to Nigers, Arica after his visit home.

This week my daughter will celebrate her 53rd birthday, and her God-daughter, (our granddaughter), Emma, will celebrate her 17th birthday. Then Emma’s mom celebrates her birthday next week a few days after thier oldest daughter, Hayley graduates form Stony Brook U. with a bachelors in Mechanical Engineering. Whew!

I’ve read another Bay Tanner mystery this month, Resurrection Road by Kathryn R. Wall. Loved it as I have all her others. 
I am also re-reading Where the Crawdad’s Sing by Delia Owens. The second reading is even more amazing than the first!! I have to be prepared to lead book discussion at book club next week. It’s especially interesting because these two books are set in about the same area of the Carolina coast, BUT oh such different stories!
We have watched a few movies this month: 
1. A Private War, starring Rosamond Pike. True story with very violent war scenes. Excellent movie. (From Netflicks.)
2. Hostiles, starring Christian Bales and Rosamond Pike. Historical fiction of the Indian/pioneer struggles.  Excellent movie, though much violence. (From Netflicks.)
3. What They Had, with Hillary Swank and Blythe Danner. A realistic story of one family’s struggle 
when dementia takes over their physically healthy mother in her 70s. An excellent movie. (Free from local video store.)
4. The Long Shot with Charlize Theron. Entertaining fiction but not nearly as good as reviews and movie trailer’s led us to expect. (At local movie theater.)
5. Marshall, an excellent movie! The story of the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court. He was so much more qualified than any of the recent appointees. He argued 32 cases before the Supreme Court before his appointment. Great movie! (From Netflicks.)

Till next month, keep reading my friends.
 Ann
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04/29/19
Another Rainy Night in Pennsylvania
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 8:04 pm
Everything has burst into green and the daffodils are blooming - what more could we want?  Maybe warmer weather and less rain! But everything comes in its own time, not ours. They say patience is a virtue, maybe that’s why so few people actually have it. I used to pray for patience but it seemed I only received more troubles. Then my minister told me our patience grows from our trials and tribulations. I immediately stopped praying for more patience!

We had a lovely Easter with lots of family, friends and plenty of good food. The great grands enjoyed the indoor Easter egg hunt. It seems like only a couple years ago we were hiding eggs for the grandchildren and now its their children. In retrospect, how time flies.  

I had a book signing, meet and greet at On the Side Books last Saturday afternoon for my new novel. It was fun and my loyal supporters came out in force. Bless them all.


My husband’s memoir was released last week. The Man From Baghdad, it turned out to be a wonderfully packaged book, reviews and early reader reports have been very enthusiastic. It’s available on Amazon. If you search for the title it comes right up. 
Back Cover Memoir Blurb: The Man From Baghdad offers readers a glimpse into his early life in Iraq. The Middle East is so often misrepresented in today’s media, people often forget that Babylon was the cradle of civilization. But these poignant, timely and historic recollections of an Iraqi American physician will stay with readers long after reading his memoir.
These stories were told to family and friends over the years, and with much urging, he documented  these tales to share with a wider audience — his vivid descriptions of Bedouin life, guffas, as well as tribal savagery, and family ties told through the eyes of one who experienced it firsthand, and much more. His stories will likely change your views of what you thought you knew about Iraq. 
Follow the author ’s journey from Baghdad to Bradford, with his initial immigrant experience and through the many detours and roundabouts, he compares his past in Iraq to his future in America.
I have read several books this month, three more of Kathryn R. Wall’s Bay Tanner mysteries. And not a Penny More, Perdition House, and Judas Island. Fiction. I love her characters, the plots are intriguing since I’m somewhat familiar with the area from our many short vacation trips to Hilton Head. I highly recommend these books to fans of murder mystery series.  

All the Tears in China by Sulari Gentill. Fiction. A popular and prolific Australian author. My friend in 
Melbourne sent the book to me. I really enjoyed it. It is part of her award winning Rowland Sinclair Mysteries series. The quirky characters are likable and the plot twisted in many unexpected ways. It is a refreshing and different story, enjoyable and engrossing.  

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Fiction. WOW! This was the most powerful novel I have read in many years. One I will never forget and want to read again. I absolutely loved it! The NY Times Book Review stated: “Painfully beautiful… At once a murder mystery, a coming of age narrative and a celebration of nature.” All true and yet there is so much more to this novel. I read one negative review online; it was obvious after reading the novel that the disgruntled reviewer had not even read the book!

We watched one exceptional movie from Netflicks: On the Basis of Sex, the Ruth Bader Ginsberg story. 
It was inspiring and well done. I highly recommend it. 

Busy getting ready for lots of guests from three different countries plus the USA to celebrate my husband’s 90th birthday…more about that next month. 
Till then, keep reading my friends.

Later, 
Ann
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03/30/19
Hello Spring!
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 5:26 pm
Wow, what a month, just when I thought we were about as busy as we could be, life became even more hectic. But it has been mostly good busy. I can’t help feeling light and free as we’ve watched the snow melt away and the grass, begin to turn green after another long winter.
We’ve had wonderful family visits, mostly short and sweet, but we take what we can get from our grandchildren who  seem to be growing up way too fast. They’re all healthy and involved with their own pursuits to obtain their individual educational and vocational goals. I am so glad we have the great grandchildren, they are all adorable, fun, and did I mention active?!
We binge-watched the first season of Jack Ryan. It wasn’t ‘24‘, but after the first couple episodes we were hooked. We are looking forward to watching the new season.  We are learning to stream our shows, (I know if any young folks are reading this, you are thinking, ‘what’s to learn?’ Trust me, for those of us who grew up without the internet and all this technology, there is!  We also watched Hope and Glory, from Netflicks. It was a good, older movie, nominated for academy awards in 1987. A WW2 movie, told through the eyes of a 9 year old British boy. A really sweet movie, despite the bombings and the devastation of war.
I have read even more than usual this month, but the list is not long: In For a Penny, by Kathryn Wall, Fiction/murder mystery. I read this novel several years ago and had forgotten much of it, I love her writing, plots and characters, always takes place in Beaufort/Hilton Head areas of SC. I have her next one already started for next month. Good books!
The 50 State Border Crisis, How the Mexican Border Fuels the Drug Epidemic Across America, by Howard G Buffett. (Yes, he’s a son of Warren Buffett), Nonfiction. It is an eye-opening, myth-busting new perspective on the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. Buffett takes readers to the rugged terrain of the Arizona and Texas border country, where the daily heartbreak of the drug smuggling and illegal migrant crossings sets in motion the impact of a complicated situation with no easy answers. I believe all Americans should read this book…including, or maybe most of all our politicians of every rank and party affiliation
 I have spent countless hours reading my husband’s impressive and wonderful memoir this week, The Man From Baghdad. I finally returned it to the editor this week, He selected the photos to be included, and we are on the home stretch now. I hope we can move through the last steps of the process and have it printed before the end of April. 
And earlier in the month I was deeply involved with multi-read throughs of my new novel: Mother Love, Willow Lane, Book Two. My editor did a wonderful job. I must say I’m a fan of the writer of this book, I’m very happy with the results of all my efforts! 
Brief Synopsis: 
By age 52, Barbara Malone had endured bad marriage, raised four children and then lost her husband to a sudden heart attack. She shocks her family, friends and neighbors on Willow Lane with her decision to join the Peace Corps. This sets in motion an intense story of family ties that are threatened by distance, doubt and antagonism. 
It is a parallel story of her family back home in Lewiston. Pa. and her new unpredictable one in Central America. Honduras proves to be a challenging adventure as she balances drug-running rebels, corrupt military officers and the peace-loving villagers caught in the middle. Her life in the mountain village, where phone service is sporadic and electricity a rare luxury, proves to be exciting though exhausting. Barbara grows to love her work with the Hondurans and a dash of romance helps her feel more alive than she has felt in years. But after a short visit stateside, she realizes Willow Lane no longer feels like home and she o wonders where she really belongs.
It is available at the other online sites:
  
https://play.playster.com/books/10009780999341520/mother-love-ann-mccauley

 https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1383955346

 https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mother-love-ann-mccauley/1102345740?ean=2940155609674

 https://www.amazon.com/Mother-Love-Willow-Lane-Book/dp/1797891359/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Mother+Love%2C+willow+Lane+%2Cbook+two+by+ann+mccauley

 https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/mother-love-8

 It has been a busy time indeed!
Till next time, keep reading my friends…
Later, Ann 
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03/07/19
And the rest of the February blog…
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 3:07 pm
Frustration! That’s the name of my game these days. A friend recently told me she admired my tenacity, that a normal person would have given up this writing business long ago. Not that there haven’t been days where thoughts of quitting have floated through my mind… But on the other hand, I am committed and truly enjoy the art of creating sentences and  paragraphs that build my stories. It’s the publishing and promoting part that wears me down!
We are still in a deep freeze mode in northwest Pennsylvania. Yesterday a delivery truck was stuck in our driveway, it always drifts badly with the wind, and we had snow flurries all day with lots of cold wind. That’s why I always use winter tires.
Some good books I have read recently are: 
Beach Music by Pat Conroy, Fiction, 1994. Excellent novel. He was a master storyteller. It was our book club’s choice for last month. (Great book discussion!) I read it more than twenty years ago; I got so much more out of it this time than I did my first reading.
My Exaggerated Life, Pat Conroy, by Katherine Clark. Biography, 2018. Mandatory reading for all Pat Conroy fans, his only authorized biography. It reads like a wonderful novel. You won’t be sorry to read this one, and you may be sorry if you don’t!   

The Tilted World by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly. Historical Fiction. 2013. The first collaboration from a very talented husband-wife writing team. It is our book club choice for March, also Bradford’s community read for this year. Author Beth will be at our  university in March to read from their novel. It started a bit slow, but soon became a page-turner with unforgettable characters and a chillingly suspenseful plot. Dealt with the greatest national disaster in the history of the USA, the 1927 floods of the Mississippi River. I highly recommend this one!
A Force of Nature by Jane Harper. Fiction. 2017. Another great suspenseful novel from Australia with well developed characters and a that plot keeps the reader guessing until the end. It is another mystery with Federal Agent Aaron Falk investigating the disappearance of a colleague. I also highly recommend this book.

Jordan Point and St John’s Folly by Kathryn R. Wall, the last two novels in the Bay Tanner series. Library Journal stated: “Sue Grafton, Sara Paretsky, and Marcia Muller come to mind as the quintessential writers of the modern female private eye novel. Wall, in her quiet and unassuming way, has produced a body of work of equal quality. Highly recommended.”  Kathryn Wall has stopped writing. I bought the entire set of her novels and proudly displayed them on my book case. I hope to meet her on a future trip to Hilton Head. BUT you don’t have to be familiar with Hilton Head to enjoy her books. She is a masterful story teller.

 Movies we enjoyed: 
Iron Jawed Angels staring Hilary Swank, 2014. My book club watched this movie after discussing Sisters, the Lives of America’s Suffragists by Jean H. Baker, (Nonficiton.), at the January meeting. We were in Hilton Head and I missed the  meeting, but watched the movie twice after we came home. It was an excellent supplement for Sisters.We’ve all heard of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. But there were so many others  who were equally committed to getting the votes for women, such as Lucy Stone, Frances Willard and Alice Paul. This movie followed the life and sacrifice of Alice Paul. Great book and great movie!

Florence Nightingale, starring Jacqueline Smith. A wonderful depiction of the sacrifice and suffering Miss Nightingale suffered in her commitment to bringing nursing care into the realm of respect and good medicine. Another great movie. 
That’s all for now. Till next time, keep reading my friends.
Ann
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02/28/19
My New Book is Finally Here!
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 10:34 pm
A short February Blog to let my readers know Willow Lane, Book Two is finally available in e-book. Paperback print will be available within the next two weeks. This is a revision of my first novel, Mother Love, same basic story, revised to fit in the Willow Lane series. IF you are anything like me, I get so much more out of a book the second time I read it. Please click below to see the new cover on Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Mother+Love%2C+Willow+Lane+%2C+Book+2+by+Ann+McCauley
I hope you are all well and warm enough, winter has been hanging on tight in N/W Pennsylvania. I will write a longer blog in a few days, I have been swamped lately and this is all I have time for a right now! 

 Till next time, keep reading my friends. 
 
Later,
 Ann
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01/31/19
10 Below and Still Smiling
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 8:33 pm
This kind of weather certainly puts me in a count my blessings state of mind! We have family, friends, food and we’re warm, safe and happy. I am thankful I was born in the USA, rather than south of the border. The Groundhog’s shadow will be announced Saturday morning and we Pennsylvanians expect another six weeks of winter, though likely no more of this record breaking cold after tomorrow. 
 
My husband is completely retired as of January 1, 2019. What change for both of us! I have to admit it’s great having home all the time, I think he’s enjoying it too. 
All the Christmas decorations have been packed away for another year, and I downsized by one less large box of decorations to save for next year. It is a start in our much needed downsizing goals for the coming year!
We returned January 27th from a ten day trip south to Hilton Head, S.C. We met my two sisters and their husbands at the condo we shared. We had a wonderful time and the days slipped through our hands like water. Wearing a guilted vest was all we needed most days. We had several invigorating walks on the beach, Seafood diners and one dine-in extravaganza when Sallie Ann Robinson, the Gullah Cooking Queen, came to the condo and prepared a feast for us. Our friends who winter in Hilton Head also came for dinner. Everyone had a roaring good time! We met Sallie Ann last year when we toured Daufuskie Island with Sallie Ann’s Tours. She still lives on the island and was one of Pat Conroy’s students when he taught school there. Sallie Ann is also an accomplished author and remained a close friend of Conroy’s throughout his life. (She wrote his tribute obituary for Life magazine the year he died.) She sang Gospel songs for us after dinner, we all clapped our hands to the rhythm and sang along. Such fun!!
We went to two good movies while there:
 The Upside, we loved it, one of the most fun movies we’ve seen in a long time. Also gave us plenty to think and talk about after the show. So good that the audience spontaneously started to applaud when it ended. Based on a true story.
Vice was not fun. Another true story. But it was an exceptionally well done movie, a bit more political than we prefer, I love Christian Bales acting, he amazes us the way he becomes the person he plays. I can’t help but wonder what that does to a person’s psychological well being…
Little Women from Netflix, the one with Susan Dey, Greer Carson, Dorothy Maguire, and young William Shatner. It was our book for Book Club and since I’d miss book club due to our vacation,  I watched the movie rather than reading the book again. I loved it!


We listened to three audio books during the drive to and from Hilton Head:
Texas Ranger by James Patterson. Fiction. Fabulous writing, I could understand why he’s so phenomenally successful. It was a great book to listen to on a long drive. I didn’t see the surprise ending coming! 
Innocent by David Baldacci. Fiction. An exciting  gripping story as all his books prove to be. Another great story by a master writer.
Jurer #3 by James Patterson with Nancy Allen. Fiction. The reader for this book was perfect and made a great story even better.
Loved it and my hats off to these writers - wow! Didn’t see that ending coming either.
I read: 
70 Things to Do When You Turn 70, and found it quite interesting. It is an anthology of 70 essays by a diverse group of people. Some were exceptional and some so-so. My favorite was by May Sarton. She begins: “If someone else had lived so long and could remember things sixty years ago with great clarity, she would seem very old to me. But I do not feel old at all…  I look forward with joy to the years ahead and especially to the surprises that each day may bring.” 
The Mercy Oak by Kathryn R. Wall. Fiction. Another in her Bay Tanner Mystery series. Loved it. I encourage anyone who hasn’t read her books to check them out. There are 14 books in the series.  Highly recommended!
My review of The Heir by Fran Hawthorne was posted on Story Circle.org:  http://www.storycirclebookreviews.org/reviews/heirs.shtml    It would be especially interesting to Jews of Polish ancestry. 
Till next month, keep reading my friends. 
Later, Ann
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12/31/18
Happy New Year.
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 7:53 pm
I know you are probably thinking, what a way to spend New Years Eve! I will keep it short and then relax in front of a roaring fireplace on this cold rainy December 31st.
We had a lovely Christmas season with family and friends. Christmas Eve we settled around the tree with our advent candles glowing, and the lights out, singing Christmas Carols, which somehow always includes Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer. It is lots of fun and even though we have a few grumblers, I think they all enjoy that tradition as much as I do. The we start the gift exchange. With great grandchildren ages three, four and five… it was an exciting time! It’s wonderful to see the generations interacting and enjoying their time together, making memories to last a lifetime. We had twenty-four for Christmas Eve dinner, from ages four months to eighty-nine. 

I read a few good books this month
My favorite was The Children’s Christmas Carol by Johanna Spyri. Fiction. It was a small, out of print book, written by the author of the classic, Heidi. It was an unforgettable WONDERFUL story. Also takes place in the Swiss Alps.
The Bird’s Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggins. A beautiful Christmas story. (*Bird was the family name; Carol was their daughter’s name.)
Year One by Nora Roberts. Fiction. End-times saga about a virus that changes the world as we know it in just a few weeks. A gripping haunting story.

An Unsuitable Match by Joanna Trollope. Fiction. A master story teller at her best. Great characters and many twists and turns. Received this novel from my best friend for Christmas and after taking a peek at the first two chapters, it stayed on the top of my stack of books to read.

Sisters, The Lives of America’s Suffragists by Jean H. Baker. Nonfiction, biography. It was not an easy read but such a thoroughly interesting and informative book. It was our book club read for December, the book discussion was intense  and detailed. Everyone agreed it was a worthwhile and important book to read.
 On Audible, we listened to Fallen by David Baldacci. Fiction. But it was almost like listening to the evening news, set in Northwest PA. and dealing with the opioid epidemic. Many twists and turns and quite different from his usual novels. Another worthwhile story given the state of affairs around the country. 
We watched a few fun Christmas movies, but probably nothing most of you haven’t seen several times yourselves.


I continue to work at my writing and have a detailed plan of action for the coming year. My first Willow Lane Newsletter was finally published in early December. You can subscribe to the Newsletter at
authorannmcccauley@gmail.com  So far I have over one thousand subscribers.  

I am also becoming more active on BookBub, if you want to buy current e-books by your favorite authors, check out this site, they have great bargains that change daily. My first BookBub book review was posted last week:
https://www.bookbub.com/profile/ann-mccauley?list=reviews  
Till next time, keep reading and stay warm!
Later,  
Ann
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11/30/18
Have a Merry little Christmas…
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 9:26 pm

About this time I trust you all are likely as tired of turkey as I am. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving, lots of laughter, food and family love abounded. There were twenty of us around the table this year.  November has flown by at sonic speed. I spent a weekend In Columbia, Md. with my sisters. We attended the annual Johns Hopkins Women’s Journey Conference. It was great as always and we enjoyed the sister/friend time of being together. I also earned nursing CEUs at the conference, a girl just never knows…

We’ve had winter weather for the past few weeks, looking out the windows to see the trees layered with fresh snow is lovely, especially the evergreens. It never fails to make me feel like Christmas! We put our tree up the day after Thanksgiving and slowly decorated our home, inside and out over the next few days. So far we are on point in our Christmas marathon. One of my best friends fell on black ice last week and has a badly broken ankle with screws and a plate, she was always a Mrs. Christmas like me. I can’t imagine how tough this December is going to be for her. I am taking her some good books to read next week, a person can only watch Hallmark Christmas movies so long!

I had two reviews posted on StoryCircle.org this month:

http://www.storycirclebookreviews.org/reviews/quietfear.shtml

A Quiet Fear by Thia Keen is a powerful novel based on her own experiences of child sexual abuse.  It is a story that stays with the reader long after the last page. Definitely a worthwhile read.

http://www.storycirclebookreviews.org/reviews/whippoorwill.shtml

The Last Whippoorwill by Mary Bryan Stafford is historical fiction about one family’s pioneer move to Texas with a Conestoga wagon that carried a heavy piano across rivers, through muddy trails and finally to their new homestead in Texas. It is another powerful well written story derived from the author’s imagination and family folklore. A great read!

I listened to The Reckoning, on audio, by John Grisham, fiction. This  man is a master of suspense and keeping the reader interested. His characters are likable and the plot kept me guessing. Though I was a bit disappointed with the ending.

Christmas in Evergreen by Nancy Naigle, fiction. It was a sweet but kept me guessing novel. I like to read one like this every holiday season. (I actually picked it up because it had an old red pickup on the cover.) And it’s already been made into a Hallmark movie, though I think they changed the title. I saw the previews and recognized the story, but the actors are all wrong for the characters in the book!

Every Breath by Nickolas Sparks, fiction. A sweet and powerful novel about a nurse in North Carolina and a safari guide form Zimbabwe. Characters are well developed and the plot throws surprising curves. It’s an emotional read, and the most romantic Sparks book I’ve read. It is interesting to compare the difference between his romance writing and that of the more prevalent female romance writers. 

November’s Book Club book was The Dry by Jane Harper. Everyone loved the book and the discussion was great,  always interesting to hear the variety of perceptions of other readers regarding the same events in the books we read. One member liked it so much that she’s already read Harper’s next novel! (I didn’t even know there was a next novel until she told us about it.)

We have seen several good movies this month:

A Star is Born with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. It was magnificent, we both loved it. The music was outstanding. Who knew Cooper could sing and Gaga could act!?

Breathe, starring Claire Foy and Andrew Garfield, with Andy Serkis making his directorial debut. Amazing true story about a young couple’s resilience after he is struck down with polio at age 28. The invention of the iron lung and the full life they lead despite his disability. Beautiful story and should be a serious Oscar contender. Available on Netflicks.

Book of Henry starring Naomi Watts. It is a sweet movie with surprising twists. I recommend it. Starts a bit slow but worthwhile. Available on Netflicks.

The Wife starring Glenn Close. Excellent movie about a marriage between two writers and so much more.

Searching with John Chu and Debra Messing. An excellent thriller that kept us on the edges of our seats! Didn’t see the end coming.

And, of course, we are still binging on 24. We finished Season 6 in November.

Till next time, keep reading my friends…and maybe watch a few good movies too. 

Later, Ann

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10/31/18
Happy Halloween
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 3:40 pm

I’ve always felt Halloween is the silliest of all holidays, though I celebrate to satisfy the child in me, as well as the child in our friends and the rest of the family. None of the great-grandchildren live close enough to come to our home trick or treating and the neighbor children have all grown up. So Halloween is not much fun anymore. After tonight, we can forget about it until next year. I have a big dish of candy waiting by the door just in case. If no one comes, then all the candy will go in the freezer and wait for my sons for their hunting camp adventures after Thanksgiving.

It’s another cold rainy day. But it’s been a productive day for me. My daughter stopped by this morning for a visit which is always extra nice for us. I’ve been making double fleece blankets for all the grandchildren for Christmas gifts, and for aunts and an uncle, a couple fund raiser auctions and friends. It seems every time I think I’ve almost finished, I think of two or three more I should make! Good grief.

We hosted a dinner party last Friday evening for several of my husband’s colleagues and their spouses, by now, all are our good friends. We’ve been using up the leftovers since then. A good bonus for all the work last week!.

Books I read this month:

I am currently reading Them by Senator Ben Sasse. Nonfiction. It is not a fast read, but well written, well researched, informative and NECCESARY reading for all thinking citizens of Planet Earth! I’m sure I will mention it again in November’s blog.

A Quiet Fear by Thia Keen, fiction based on the writer’s life. It is an excellent book, though difficult reading at times. It deals with child sexual, physical and emotional abuse.

The Rooster Bar by John Grisham. Fiction. Typical Grisham, he takes on the student loan fiasco that has so many young people under water before they ever get started with their lives.

Amy and Isabel by Elizabeth Strout. This is one of her early books. A coming of age mother/daughter story set in New England as most of her stories are. The writing is superior with her flair for literary details even then. It is definitely worth reading, I found it in our used book store.

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine by Scottish writer, Gail Honeyman’s debut novel. Fiction. It was a Reese Witherspoon book club selection. It had wonderful reviews. It was supposed to be hysterically funny, it was compared to A Man Called Ove, but was not even close. It is a well written novel, but more sadly pathetic than funny.

You can read my Story Circle review of the memoir, The Trail to Tincup by clicking this link: http://www.storycirclebookreviews.org/reviews/trailtotincup.shtml.    It was an  interesting story. 

We had an excellent Book Club discussion about the The Great Alone by Kristen Hannah. Everyone loved the novel and it was reported that it will be made into a movie. Good choice by Hollywood. I hope they don’t ruin it.

I hosted Book club this month, so I could introduce the books to consider for next month. The club chose the Australian ‘book of the year’, Jane Harper’s debut novel, The Dry. They are all in for a treat!

Movies:

We are still watching 24. We will begin Season 6 later this week, and we know that will mean more late night 24 marathons!  (Did I mention we are totally binging on this series and it is very addictive?)

We went to the theater to see  A Star is Born. It was wonderful! Bradley Cooper can sing, also direct, produce and act. AND then there is Lady Gaga. I’d never paid any attention to her, thought she was silly with all those crazy costumes. BUT what a talent. Together they were amazing.

Victoria and Abdul, we rented the DVD, it was a beautifully done. Judi Dench played Victoria. Another excellent movie. 

 Dr. Thorne, we rented this 4 part mini series - on one DVD,  set in the English country side in the 1800s, based on novel, Dr. Thorne, by Anthony Trollope with screenplay adaptation by Jullian Fellowes. Wonderful! if you liked Downton Abbey,  you will love Dr. Thorne! 

Still working on my upcoming book, and getting closer.


Till next time, keep reading my friends.

Later.

Ann


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