Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Year in Review: WITS' Top 15 Book Picks for 2010

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Over the course of the year the team members of Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services [WITS] have been privileged to work with and review books from many talented and gifted authors. This year I asked the WITS team members to send me their favorite picks from the many books we have worked on or reviewed throughout the course of the year.  The selection votes have now been sorted and counted.
 It is my great pleasure to present to you . . .

Writers In The Sky Creative Writing Services' Top 15 Picks for 2010!
The books presented here represent client submissions made between Dec 1, 2009 and November 30, 2010 and have been listed in alpha order by author.

Book Title: Babes in Bucksnort: Sister Mary Olga Fortitude Book 2
Author: Davis Aujourd’hui
ISBN: 978-1432745004
Publisher: 2010

Aujourd’hui creates men, women, and children with unforgettable (and descriptive!) names and even more outrageous behavior. We appreciated the sharp humor that the author employed to this end and found great entertainment in discovering what these characters would do next. We also enjoyed the important messages of love and acceptance that Aujourd’hui emphasizes, particularly through the teachings of Sister Mary herself. Once in a while, we all need mirrors placed in front of us to help us examine and rethink how we treat one another, and Davis Aujourd’hui accomplishes this through his writing. Babes in Bucksnort is a book that will make you both think and laugh.

Book Title: How Did She Get There?
Author: Ann Karen Dowd
ISBN: 978-0615335308
Publisher: White Ink Press 2010

How Did She Get There? is a modern day cautionary tale. The heroine however does not turn anyone into a golden statue out of greed; or laze all day in the sun, thinking the world owes her a living while others labor. She is as human and self absorbed as we come, with all the classic confused notions found in a folk tale character. The author, Ann Karen Dowd, has written a story that leads her heroine and the reader through a maze of challenges; attitudes to be overcome, confused perceptions about right and wrong, pitfalls of human nature, even exploring the motivational fears and desires which often hide beneath well meaning intentions.

Book Title: Passion’s Evidence
Author: Barbara Fifield
ISBN Number: 978-1432753573
Publisher: 2010

From the pleasure in eating fresh strawberries straight from the vine to her belief in the connection that be found only in true love to the healing powers of quiet moments at the beach, Fifield has seemingly transferred her soul onto the pages and poems of Passion’s Evidence and offered herself as an emotional offering to her readers. She shares her highs and her lows, as well as the moments during which she cannot discern exactly how she should be feeling. For those who appreciate the power that a poem has to capture a moment in time, Passion’s Evidence is a recommended addition to your collection.

Book Title: My Dog Tim and Other Stories
Author: Garasamo Maccagnone
ISBN: 978-1432755621
Publisher: Outskirts Press, Inc. 2010

Garasamo is a master of character development. His writing style is right up there with the greats. From first to last, Garasamo Maccagnone demonstrates a flexibility of wit and realism that makes My Dog Tim and Other Stories deep reading. These stories are dark, gritty, and for mature audiences only. Garasamo has that gift of revealing through his writing the secret struggles of life that most often remain hidden but are most in need of light.

Book Title: The Drawing Lesson
Author: Mary E. Martin
ISBN: 978-1450229364
Publisher: iUniverse 2010

The Drawing Lesson is a deeply insightful book about life, choices, forgiveness, madness, self doubt, and creative inspiration. Martin has an understanding of humanity, its inner turmoil, needs, and the creative urge that is both honest and compassionate. This is a compelling and moving story to be savored on the palate like fine wine.

Book Title: 27 Things to Feng Shui Your Home
Author: Tisha Morris
ISBN: 978-1596525672
Publisher: Turner Publishing Company 2010

For those readers unfamiliar with feng shui practices the author explains just enough about the concepts to allow a lay practitioner to receive solid reward for their time investment when applying the techniques, without planting confusion about the ins and outs of feng shui itself. For readers who have already been exposed to the art and mystery of feng shui, the author assists by leaving out confusing or contradictory information and the superstitions which often impede implementation of an action plan and the needed changes. She writes with confidence that following the feng shui principles and applying these techniques will have a powerful healing impact and her confidence is transferred to the reader.

Book Title: Finding God: To Believe or Not to Believe
Author: Nicholas Oliva
ISBN: 098461432X
Publisher: Old Line Publishing

Nicholas Oliva writes a thought provoking and insightful book that challenges the ego attachments we have about the beliefs we hold. This book explores the world of science, religion, and atheism and integrates them into the aspects of Twentieth and Twenty-first Century physics. It ponders life and death experiences and includes the author's own near death experience. Posing many questions about the realm of our existence, it stresses the importance of promoting humanity without exclusionary elements of human prejudice. Hang on as your perfectly ordered world is shaken and stirred - if you have an open mind to believe what is real and allow for possibilities of the yet unknown.

Book Title: He Blew Her a Kiss: Communications from loved ones who have passed
Authored by: Angie Pechak Printup and Kelley Stewart Dollar
ISBN: 978-1432760922
Publisher: Outskirts Press 2010

He Blew Her a Kiss is a collection of inspirational stories relating experiences of communication from loved ones who have passed. The entire volume has been compiled, with sincere and gentle treatment by the authors, from email submissions by and personal conversations with ordinary people. This is a beautiful volume of collected stories that you will want to share with others. Not all of the stories are dramatic examples of after death communication, relating instead simple and poignant moments which have brought healing in times of grief. Some of the accounts are quite extraordinary and impossible to explain; all are uplifting and demonstrate humanity’s capacity to love beyond any obstacle, even death.

Book Title: The Protected
Author: Rowena Portch
ISBN: 978-1432758660
Publisher: Outskirts Press Inc. 2010

Portch has drawn from her own life and history to write Sky’s character and world, sharing in a way that only a skilled and talented writer can—the very personal experience of blindness. Not only has Portch succeeded to write a blind character in a sighted world, she has done so in such a way as to create a world paradigm, characters, and circumstances that elevate this book from the ranks of a good story to that of a great read.

Author Rowena Portch is getting an additional mention in our list for book two in the Spirian Series, The Union, ISBN-13: 978-1432764784, also published by Outskirts Press 2010. The author builds the dramatic tension in what is already an exciting series by introducing several unexpected elements and new characters. Book two, The Union, is a fast paced second offering sure to please readers already hooked by The Protected and the Spirian Series.

Book Title: Saying Goodbye: to the people, places, and things in our lives
Author: Julie Rember and Mike O'Mary, Editors. Contributors include Dianna Calareso, WITS writer/editor
ISBN: 978-0982579442
Publisher: Dream of Things 2010

This book is a beautiful anthology of stories about loss. At times the stories are funny, at times incredibly sad - but every story is deep, powerful, and gently pushes the reader to reflect on the power of loss in his/her own life.

Book Title: Awakened Wisdom: A Guide to Reclaiming Your Brilliance
Author: Patrick Ryan
ISBN: 978-0984236305
Publisher: Awakened Wisdom 2009

During the first few hours of its official Amazon Launch Awakened Wisdom became a bestseller in spirituality in both the US and Canada. Awakened Wisdom blends Buddhist, Native, and collected wisdoms into a beautifully crafted healing message for our modern culture. Patrick Ryan’s own life experiences greatly inform this work, and his message to his readers is simple and profound: we are at choice when it comes to how we want to live our lives during our brief time on this planet. In addition to sage teachings about ways of understanding our Selves, he also dedicates an entire half of the book to understanding and embodying the eight states of an awakened life. With exercises, daily practices, and plenty of anecdotes, Awakened Wisdom is sure to resonate with spiritual newcomers and advanced practitioners alike.

Book Title: Confessions of an Ex-Gun Dealer
Author: Ludwig Sawicki
ISBN: 978-1432758394
Publisher: Outskirts Press 2010

Southern gentlemen and the Irish aren't the only natural storytellers. Author Ludwig Sawicki can spin out a tale with the best of them. Confessions of an Ex-Gun Dealer is a humorous, intelligent, straight shooting, and honest memoir that reveals much about life. This is a great book for anyone who enjoys the hunting and the shooting sports but it is also a wonderful study in human resilience, determination, and character. The book is full of life experience and wisdom, business acumen, and best of all laughter. Sawicki is damn funny and an astute observer of human nature.

Book Title: Voices of Sedona: A Spiritual Path to Serenity and Contentment
Author: Lewis Tagliaferre
ISBN: 978-0595393671
Publisher: iUniverse 2010

Lewis Tagliaferre shares the five principles of Theofatalism®. The five lessons and the amazing details that accompany each principle inspire extended reflection and a desire to read certain segments time and again. Voices of Sedona is beautifully written in a style that is captivating in both its emotion and logic. If you are scared and confused about the uncertainties and suffering in life, you may find solace in Voices of Sedona. In addition to inspired dialogues with his spiritual teachers in Sedona, Arizona, author Lewis Tagliaferre blends elements of religion, psychology, philosophy, history, and current events into five incredible principles of universal awareness.

Book Title: Blood Betrayal
Author: Mike Thompson
ISBN: 978-1-4327-4802-9
Publisher: 2009

Set in the peculiar Anderson Valley town of Booneville, nestled against the foothills of Northern California's Coastal Range -- a mystery unfolds as a series of family tragedies is revealed when Wolf Magnussen's nephew is found slain in the midst of a family hunting trip. With Blood Betrayal, Mike Thompson has crafted a novel that will attract fans of suspense. The plot is unique and undoubtedly will have the readers guessing until the very last page, with a conclusion that warranted an audible gasp from WITS reviewer, Sarah Moore, as she sat alone in her living room.

Book Title: Memoirs from the Asylum
Author: Kenneth Weene
ISBN: 978-0984421954
Publisher: All Things that Matter Press, 2010

This tragi-comedic novel takes the reader inside the asylum, inside the worlds of three central characters: a narrator who has taken refuge from his fears of the world, a psychiatrist whose own life has been damaged by his father's depression, and a catatonic schizophrenic whose world is trapped inside a crack in the wall opposite her bed. The best aspect of the book is how the author has written from the perspective or inner thoughts of the characters. This is done with such realism, understanding and truth that it is easy to relate with the patient’s fears, frustrations, joys and triumphs. It is obvious that the author is writing from a deeper understanding of human motivation and psychosis. His treatment of his characters is compassionate and without judgment, allowing the reader to formulate their own opinions and confront their own preconceptions and prejudices. Well crafted, Memoirs from the Asylum proves itself in the great tradition of writing.

Thank you all and have a happy and safe holiday season.


  1. Ken Weene is a great writer! Thank you for choosing him in your top picks.

  2. Just on my way out, jogging through. I see from your profile we have a lot in common.

  3. Here for Blog Jog- what fun!

  4. Nice to meet you today. Looks like some great choices. Wish one of them were mine!

  5. This is a great site. My 2nd novel comes out next summer. I'll come back after the new year and check out your requirements. Meanwhile, don't forget to stop by and enter for an autographed copy of my suspense thriller Dead Witness. Happy joggin.

  6. Good to see you on the Blog Jog. Great site.

  7. It is an honor to be a part of this list from such a talented writing team! Thank you.

  8. Wow, I'm honored to have my books mentioned among so many fabulous artists of literature. Thank you for including my books in this list. I'm grateful for your support.

  9. Tisha & Rowena you are both welcome! Happy Blog Jog Day!

  10. Kenneth Weene is an extraordinary man and an incredible author. I couldn't agree more in selecting his book to be among the 15 best!

    Also, if you'd like to speak with Mr. Weene, he will be on an upcoming blogtalkradio show on December 2nd. The show is called Six Unsynchronized Souls and it should prove to be a very interesting show.

  11. I am honored to be a part of this list. Thank you so very much! -Nick