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Archive for the ‘Authors in the News’ Category

Grace Revealed: A Powerful, Haunting Memoir

Grace Revealed

by , author of FOR I HAVE SINNED A Cate Harlow Private Investigation    

Published in The Huffington Post, 1/13/15

Grace Revealed FrontCvr FINALThere is something in the human heart that has an unconscious yearning to know about the past, most specifically our own family’s past. Who hasn’t looked at old, faded pictures of relatives long gone and wondered about their lives? Who were these people? What were their lives like? What were the joys and sorrows of those lives? The need to know is palpable.

It is also a matter of curiosity. It is part of our heritage, and part of who we are.

We have all heard childhood stories about our parents and grandparents. Greg Archer was a child of 5 when he first heard stories of how his mother, her sisters, and three of her brothers had endured some type of “adventure” when they were children. But the adventures of our parents and grandparents seem so distant; hearing about them is similar to hearing fairy tales that begin, “Long, long ago….”

Even when we become adults, the fairy-tale guise of what happened to the past generation keeps us safe from reality. Archer so perfectly captures this feeling: He says that when he received a floppy disc from his mother’s brother detailing an account of the “adventure,” “it smacked of an ethereal fairy-tale filled with a mythic villain in dark corners of the universe. It had been comfortably out of reach, a safe distance away from me.”

Still, impressive and exotic-sounding words like “Siberia,” “Uzbekistan,” and “Tanganyika” piqued his interest and settled in his subconscious. The subconscious has a way of remembering for us and retrieves what we once heard or saw at some future given time.

In Grace Revealed: A Memoir, Archer first takes us on his own prolific journey of self-discovery as a journalist, an adventure that all writers seem to take at one time or another. From his Polish-American roots in Chicago to California to Hawaii and back, he experiences an interesting, eclectic mix of life and people. It is perhaps this journey of self that eventually leads him to another journey, a very human one to discover the reality of his family’s strength and endurance under harsh and extreme circumstances.

Archer, author and award-winning journalist, has brought to bear all his remarkable journalistic skills to tell the story of the haunting and heart-wrenching journey he undertook to discover his Polish family’s past during the terror-filled time of Stalin and the Russian ruler’s ruthless actions across Eastern Europe. Stalin was a monster whose actions were soul-destroying and dignity-shredding. Those who survived were forever scarred, emotionally and physically.

greg-archer 2Whatever journey we undertake usually begins with some small detail. The first step of Archer’s journey began with a broken picture frame that held pictures of his grandmother, his mother, and his aunts. Broken glass, possibly symbolic of freeing those held within the frame, the author muses. A spark has been lit, and the need to know more about these relatives and what they experienced grows. Is the broken frame a sign from the divine, gently pushing him to research his family? A sure sign from the universe? Possibly so. And so the story begins, and it is a memorable one.

Archer’s family in Poland lived through the horror of Joseph Stalin’s mass deportation of nearly 2 million Polish citizens to the Siberian gulags, and from there to the Middle East and Eastern Africa. Stalin’s reign of terror is an incredibly under-reported atrocity of the 1940s, a time when most of the world was preoccupied with World War II. As Archer’s Uncle John often told him, “Most of the world knows what Hitler did to the Jews, but hardly anybody knows what Stalin did to our people.”

The author admirably bridges the present and the past as he undertakes an overseas trek to the ancestral country hoping that he himself can become a saving grace to the past generation and hoping that, by telling their story, he might bring them some type of peace.

Greg Archer does bring a healing to his family and others like them by writing the story, because, like all stories of life, no matter how cruel and heartbreaking the adventure may be, there are always some parts of it that hold hope and even laughter. The author asks only that we not forget the truth of the past. He says:

“I think in this current era in which we live, especially in America, we all seem to be so busy and so wrapped up in social media and technology. I think it’s vital we continue to share stories of historical significance and nuance that illuminate the power of the human spirit and what it is capable of, that pure radiance within us that can overcome and face anything, no matter what.”

Out of the ashes of despair and heartache, the author creates a must-read story of the indomitable spirit of humanity that he finds in abundance in his own family.

Purchase Grace Revealed    Learn more about the book:    Learn more about the author:  

Copyright 2015 Kristen Houghton

Read Kristen’s award-winning new thriller For I Have Sinned (A Cate Harlow Private Investigation), available now.

The Last of the Living Blue

Living Blue Front Cover FINALNorLightsPress is proud to announce our newest book: The Last of the Living Blue: A Year of Living and Dying Among the Trees.

This book is an intimate, intense look at the effects of the changing climate in our big back yard: Colorado’s majestic mountains and the Weminuche Wilderness.  This is a story real and raw, told in a soft, yet powerful voice, taking readers along through one year of drought, fires, floods, and the healing of mountain and mind.

The exquisite prose of author Gin Getz is an inspiration to people who love nature, writers, fellow bloggers, and her many friends throughout the world.  Ashley Kent Carrithers says, “Gin steps TCOW-Author-Imageout of the pages at us,naked, as she does at 10,000 feet, baring her emotional soul courageously while challenging us to embrace her love of the wilds.”

I recommend that readers double their pleasure by purchasing The Last of the Living Blue AND Gin’s first book, The Color of the Wild.  I guarantee you’ll enjoy both books.  Also follow Gin’s wonderful blog at:      Purchase this new book on Amazon at:

For a review copy of either book, contact

The Color of the Wild

Branding Basics for Small Business: this week it’s yours for $0.99






If you’re a writer with aspirations to be published, then you need to brand yourself.

BB3_Front Cover.jpg FINAL

If you’re a business owner, you need a brand.

If you work for a business, your company needs a brand.

Branding Basics for Small Business: How to Create an Irresistible Brand on Any Budget will show you exactly how to do it.  This book is worth far more than the 0.99 cents we’re charging this week.  Here’s what Fabulous Female Network says about Maria Ross and her new book:

Branding Basics Book: Must Read for all Business Owners

Targeted to small business owners, entrepreneurs, non-profits and other time-starved and cash-strapped organizations, Maria walks readers through a ten step process to create a strong brand strategy.  Having a clear brand strategy enables your organization to do more with less, attract just the right audience with just the right messages and prevents them from wasting time and money on “random acts of marketing.” Her book includes real-life case studies from small business brands plus expert insights from author Mike Michalowicz, known as “The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur” and others.

Find the special price on, Kindle edition.  

MariaRoss_AuthorPhoto-21-240x300Who is Maria Ross?  I’ll let her tell you:  I’m a frequent guest writer for Microsoft Small Business UK, Sharp Skirts,, AMEX Open Forum, CRAVE and I’ve been featured on MSNBC, ABC News, NPR and in Entrepreneur,Seattle Business, and Columbus CEO. I’ve offered practical and punchy insight on talk radio shows and delighted live audiences at BlogHer, The New York Times Small Business Summit, Puget Sound Business Journal, Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Administration, Ladies Who Launch, CRAVE, and Savor the Success, just to name a few. I earned a B.S in Marketing and a minor in Spanish from Indiana University. And among other philanthropic efforts, I’m a brain injury awareness advocate and I let my dog-fanatic freak-flag fly, with pro bono branding support to the Seattle Animal Shelter Foundation.

Author Interview with Gin Getz

Indie House Books was delighted to interview Gin Getz. She’s the author of The Color of the Wild, a stunning and inspiring memoir, whose use of powerful poetry, prose, and stunning photography creates a unique, passionate, and creative voice. Stop, read, and learn a bit more about this great indie author.

What have you written before your latest project?memoir

I’m one of those who always had to write–poetry, journals, old fashioned letters, short stories. Most of them I burned; the rest hold little value to anyone but me.  Through these I solidified my commitment and attachment to writing.  It wasn’t until I started sharing my writing through blogging and magazine articles that my voice began to emerge.  By that I mean my style of writing, the way I write, the way I “talk” to my readers.  Writing became a conversation, if you will.  I live remotely yet believe strongly in reaching other people and in the responsibility we all have of doing what we can for others.  Sharing my world through my writing is the best way I can reach others.

The Color of the Wild is my first full length manuscript.  It took me many years of waking before my family and day job to complete.  Blogging helped.  Regular posting was my discipline, and the people I met – some just online, others who came here to meet me and have over time become dear friends – they were my motivation.

 Tell us about your journey in writing The Color of the Wild.  How did the mix between photography, prose, and poetry come about?

Good question.  I’m not sure how to answer this as it’s just my normal day. I’m out there working on the ranch with my camera close by hanging on a gate post “just in case,” or out hiking with a notebook and pencil ready for when the right words come to mind. I figure it’s all intertwined. The more we express ourselves in any creative means, the more we enliven the entire creative process.  Creativity is all related.

 What is the most important thing you’ve learned during your journey writing it? 

Re-writing. Editing.  And miraculously, with each time going over my writing, my work improved!  You’re always told the more you do something the better you’ll be at it. Well, I believe it’s true.

 Can you give us a description of the book?

The Color of the Wild is an intimate view of life in an untamed land, an unconventional memoir of person and place. It’s a personal account of one year, one woman, her family, and the wild mountain they call home told in a lyrical and lilting, powerful and passionate voice. 

What inspires you to write?

I’m inspired by the wild world around me.  And the wild places within us all. The magnificent beauty around me, and the deep, dark stuff inside. Writing allows me to share this and still be alone in the wild.  As for authors who have inspired me, I can stop to read Mary Oliver and Wendell Berry any day and every time hope someday someone will read my writing and feel the way their writing makes me feel.

Gin GetzWhat do you love most about writing, and what do you hate the most about it?

Writing centers, grounds, and balances me.  I like the inwardness, quietness, discipline, the reflection, and the creative process of striving to paint a picture of what I see (and feel) in words.  What do I hate?  Making the same spelling mistakes over and over again and overlooking my own typos.

 What benefits do you think indie publishing gives you? Do you feel the benefits outweigh any disadvantages?

The first great part of the growing world of indie publishing is the people you get to work with.  The people make a huge difference.  My publisher is like my family and friend. These things matter to me. I enjoy liking who I work with.  Further, I think it is absolutely amazing how many books there are available today thanks to the opportunity indie publishing presents.  Some fear this floods the market, but I don’t.  I think it shows great hope for how huge the market is, for how many readers are out there, and how many people still love books, reading and writing.

 What are your passions other than writing?

For better or for worse (I know this is debatable), I believe everything we do should be done with passion.  Writing, art, cooking, hiking, horseback riding… living.

 How did you get into photography?

The concept of learning to see, focusing, drew me in.  My first photography course was at NYU back in the 1980’s with a classic Nikon SLR, developing film and prints in the darkroom.

What are five things you’d absolutely have to have in your dream house?          

Funny you ask because we’re building it now–our new log cabin along the headwaters of the Rio Grande!  We drew up the plans ourselves based on many, many years of dreaming, moving, and dreaming some more.  Now, all those dreams get built into this one place.  Small, efficient, warm and cozy, lots of light, French doors, sky light over the bed, big bookshelves and a claw foot tub are some of those dreams we’re including.

 IHB: If there were only one thing you could tell your readers, what would it be?

Read!  Share the passion of reading and the written word!

 The Color of the Wild is available at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and through Gin Getz’s publisher NorLightsPress.

This interview was shared courtesy of Indie House Books: A Place for Readers and Writers to Call Home     Indie house books

 We highly recommend their website.

Dialogue for Writers UNLEASHED

I’m excited to announce the debut of my new book Dialogue for Writers : Create Powerful Dialogue in Fiction and Nonfiction. FRONT cover final

This book explores all the necessary elements of dialogue and is packed with ideas and examples to help writers improve their technique.  To make this book more comprehensive than others on the market, I added information about  writing dialogue for a variety of genres, including screenplays, graphic novels, and children’s books.  Then I looked at more unusual places for dialogue:

  • Family history
  • Journals
  • Memoirs
  • Journalism
  • Poetry
  • Self-help articles and books

Almost any nonfiction book is more attractive to readers if you add dialogue, quotes, or interviews.  The spoken word in compelling; extra white space looks good on the pages; and dialogue enhances your credibility.  You can’t go wrong by adding the human voice to your writing.

One of my favorite chapters in Dialogue for Writers is “Jump Start Your Story with Dialogue.”  In this chapter I show by example how to break through writer’s block by using dialogue to open a story, a new chapter, an article, a journal entry, or even a poem.  If you get your characters talking right away, you’ll find it much easier to fill in the rest of the story with action and details.  Try these three steps:

  1. Write a single line of dialogue—something you’ve overhead, words that pop into your mind, or a catchy statement you read on Twitter.  Anything will do!
  2. List several situations your dialogue might fit.
  3. Choose the most intriguing situation and write an answer to that first line of dialogue.

Now you’re writing! You’ll find the next seven steps on page 86 of Dialogue for Writers.

If you’d like to learn more about this new book for writers, visit the Amazon page at:

But why not get the book free?  For a limited time I will send free copies of Dialogue for Writers to people who’d like to write a review.  You may contact me at  FREE







Here’s what best-selling science fiction author Hugh Howey has to say about my book (I was one of Hugh’s first editors):  “Dialogue provides a window into our character’s souls, and Sammie Justesen’s Dialogue for Writers throws open the curtains. A wonderful resource on how to get our characters talking to one another in a believable manner, and how to make our stories better in the process.”  — Hugh Howey, author of The Silo Saga and SAND

Author, poet, and photographer Gin Getz says:  Dialogue for Writers is more than another how-to text on writing.  After reading this book, my brain is swimming with ideas Sammie Justesen shares from her years of experience in the publishing industry. Sammie shows (not tells) us all about dialogue and much more, writing with style, humor, and an easy, comfortable voice and using examples to bring her points to life. Sammie practices what she preaches in this handy compilation based on experience and insight.”   –Gin Getz, author of The Color of the Wild: An Intimate Look at Life in an Untamed Land



Are You Branded?

I’ve always liked the idea of branding—and I don’t mean the cattle we raised on the farm when I was a kid. Branding in our world refers to how you’re perceived by others.    apples

Every business has a brand, whether we like it or not. For example, a hospital in our town merged with another firm two years ago. Sadly, their brand in the community has become “rundown, second rate hospital with unhappy workers.” The hospital didn’t choose that negative brand; they earned it—and now they’re stuck with it.

I notice many businesses around town work hard to create a friendly, upbeat brand for themselves—often based on the business owner’s personality and strengths.

You may be thinking, “Sure, it’s easy to brand yourself when you can hire marketing experts and have lots of money to spend.”  That isn’t necessarily true. Even if you’re a one-person business, you WILL have a brand.  Your challenge is to mold that brand into something positive.  Maria Ross is a brand strategist, speaker, and author who specializes in helping small businesses grow and thrive.  She says,

BB3_Front Cover.jpg FINAL“Small organizations waste so much time and money on ‘random acts of marketing’ that get them nowhere, so more budget is not the answer.  It’s about creating a clear brand strategy to target the right people with the right message at the right time. “

If you’re interested in building a brand with ten easy steps , I highly recommend the new, updated edition of Maria’s classic book: Branding Basics for Small Business.  Midwest Book Review says, “This book is a wise and recommended read, not to be missed by any small business.”  Here’s a link to the Amazon page:

Personal Branding

People have brands.  Think about your favorite celebrities and how they branded themselves, with help from PR agencies and the media.  Think of all those politicians who work so hard to brand themselves.

Your brand is what comes to mind when people think about you.  Consider a few folks you know:  In your life there may be a “grandmother who bakes cookies and crochets pot holders for the church yard sale,” or “overweight guy who watches TV a lot.” You get the picture.  We humans love to categorize things, and that’s exactly what we do with other people.  Personal branding is a normal, instinctive part of human society.

Personal branding means identifying and communicating what makes you unique and compelling to the world.  If you want to sell yourself as a business owner, promote your artistic endeavors, or advance in the workplace as an employee, then think about your brand.

Perhaps the grandmother I mentioned above makes the world’s best cookies. Those pot holders become part of the brand when she opens a catering business.  As for the overweight guy who watches TV a lot, what if he decides to change his image and become a fitness trainer, complete with before-and-after videos? Remember Jared Fogle, the Subway guy who lost 94 pounds eating their food?  When the Subway brand needs a boost, Jared is still there after 15 years.

If your passion is embodied in a creative talent, such as writing, performing, or art, you definitely need a brand.  Are you the serious literary type, quirky and avant-garde, outdoorsy, or romantic and free spirited?  Lady Gaga or Bill O’Reilly?

These questions will help you focus:

  •  What makes you unique?  How are you different from the people around you?  What’s unusual about your work, experience, and personality?Personal-Branding-Brand
  • What do you have to offer the world?  This is not the time to be humble. You DO have a lot to offer.  I guarantee it.  Keep in mind that even your flaws can be a positive part of the brand.  Look at Governor Chris Christie with his outspoken attitude and overweight physique.  He incorporated those things into his brand.
  • What are your ultimate goals?  What do you want people to say about you?
  • You do have a target market, and this is the time to define it.  Who do you want to notice your talents?
  • How can you begin communicating your brand?  (Think about your personal appearance, your office, business cards, the look of your web page and blog, how you relate to people, and basically everything you do.)

Personal branding is not manipulative, in case that’s what you’re thinking.  Branding is an integral part of society and always has been, since the first men and women walked the earth.  Finding your personal brand will give you more control and power over your own life, your clients, your job, the projects you work on, and how you approach your art.

What do YOU think?



Why We Fish

WWF_FrontCvrAuthor Robert Montgomery just alerted me to a new review on for his book Why We Fish: Reel Wisdom from Real Fishermen.  It’s heartwarming when a book we published (and I edited) touches someone in a meaningful way.  That’s why I’m sharing this review.

5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable read that could change our world! March 2, 2014 by Blake Muhlenbruck

My eyes are a blur as I write this review, stinging from the countless hours of nonstop memories that flooded my brain at 4:00am. Why We Fish solidified why I fish, from the beginning of my outdoor life to where I am today. I could relate to each and every tidbit shared by the wonderful folks who contributed to Robert U. Montgomery’s masterpiece.

By 5:30 a.m. my wife asked me if the red of my eyes was purely from sleep deprivation or if I had been crying. I said, “Me cry? No way. . . it’s natures way of removing unwanted skirt glitter from a long day of skirt designing.”

Yes, Why We Fish made me cry, along with many other emotions. Sadness for the simple things lost over the years, simply being reaffirmed by so many of the observations I have gained and shared with others, and understanding that others will never step outside of the asphalt jungle in which so many live today. Nature is no longer a priority in our lives. We have given it up for technology; the latest and greatest games. You’d think that with all this information at our fingertips we would be smarter and have a better understanding of the world and the wonderful treasures it holds.

I was brought back to first fishing trips shared with family and friends. A curtain rod, string and a hook was how I got my start. Robert lets us, his readers, immerse ourselves self in personal moments that may seem trivial to some, but are priceless for others. By 6:00am I was overcome with emotion, the smell of the ink and paper whiffed through senses and my four squares of T.P. I used for a book mark collected the dampness from my eyes.

I am blessed to have Robert as a dear friend although we have never had the pleasure of fishing together. We have had many conversations over the last seven years about not just fishing, but everything under the sun. Pretty amazing that fishing can build friendships that last a lifetime by simply getting back to our natural ways and sharing with others our observations of how wonderful our world is.

Why We Fish could by far be the most useful tool to use to help us save ourselves from ourselves. Education is the key to not repeating history; we as humans manipulate our biology while all other species work by a natural biological rhythm. Observe and learn, and you will gain wisdom.

Who knows, Why We Fish could just be the one pebble that creates a ripple that could change all of our lives. After all, Why We Fish was put together by some of the most brilliant stewards of our time.

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