FLAT OUT AWESOME!!!

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AFTER THE DANCE by Lori Johnson is a flat-out awesome book. Lori wows you first with her style of first person—the hero and heroine tell the story and the chapters are either HIM or HER, depending on who’s talking. And then she hits you upside the head with a storyline that just vacuums into Memphis, Tennessee, where two lovers share what turns out to be much more than a dance.

Carl is a working stiff, trying to maintain with three children (one out of wedlock and adultery), an ex-wife, and child support payments. He’ll be the first to tell you that he’s made a lot of mistakes and you can see this when he opens up to Faye about all of his misgivings. Faye, now she was an onion for all of her layers. She’s hard on the outside, but surprisingly soft on the inside. She has her reasons. The relationship, or rollercoaster ride, takes off when Carl steals her steamy romance and Faye steals his soft porn video. From there, Lori takes the reader on an enjoyable stroll of what ifs and regrets. And at some points, you wonder whether or not Carl and Faye will make it.

I really wish I could give this story more than five stars. I couldn’t put the book down and tweeted about it all the way through the story. Some lines made me shake my head and say, “Wow! Ms. Johnson really gets it when it comes to relationships.” The writing is phenomenal; the story is powerful. And now, I am a huge fan of Lori Johnson forever. I can’t wait to read more of her work.

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SIMON’S SPLINTER (the novel) Coming 6/23/14

SIMON'S SPLINTER (the novel) Coming 6/23/14

On Friday nights, Aisha led a bible study class for vibrant elementary school-aged children. Their hearts were pure as gold and they asked the most interesting questions.
“Ms. Aisha, what’s shacking?” Ronnie, one of her students asked.
“Excuse me?”
“Shacking,” Little Ronnie repeated. “What does shacking mean?”
“I don’t know,” Aisha lied. “Why do you ask?”
“My momma says that you’re shacking. Does it mean the same thing as teaching? ‘Cause if it does, then I think you’re an excellent shacker.”
Aisha was speechless.

SIMON’S SPLINTER (The Novel) COMING SOON

http://jamesfantbooks.com

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BALANCE

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I haven’t posted anything on the blog in a while because I have been in the lab/cave/bunker/woodshed—all metaphors to illustrate that I have been working on WIPs nonstop. This, I’ve found, can be dangerous. I’ve been so enthralled in work that I may have—hopefully I haven’t—but I may have neglected family. I know that I’ve neglected the gym (shameface!). It’s so easy to do though. With work and running a business, we can get so caught up that we neglect the very things that we’re working so hard for. Basically, I’m churning out words per day but I’m not well-rounded. My prayer is to be well-rounded so that nothing is lacking in my life. So, as I write this post, I come back to the word BALANCE. There’s a time and a season for everything under the sun. Let me find that perfect BALANCE.

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Peace and Blessings

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The Top Ten Things I’m Not Worrying About In 2014

10. People not saying hello when I say hello to them.
They may not have heard me. Or better still, they may not want to say hello at that particular time. Either way, it’s really all good.

9. People standing and talking in walkways and on sidewalks.
Before I was like, “It’s called a sidewalk not a side stand and talk. Keep it moving!” But in 2014, I’m not going to mean mug them anymore until they move. It ain’t that serious. I’ll just step to the side. I might even say hello.

8. Whether the Cowboys win or lose.
I want them to go 17 – 0 next season; don’t get me wrong. I want them to win the Super Bowl next season as a matter of fact. It’s just that if they don’t for some reason or another, I’m not going to get all bent out of shape.

7. My weight.
I’m only going to eat until I get full. Sidebar: You know when FULL is and you know when you’ve surpassed FULL. I’m going to eat mostly healthy foods, drink a gallon of water a day, & exercise at least four days/ week. And that’s it! I’m not worrying about weight. I may not even weigh myself. Bump it!

6. Money.
I have never seen someone worry up a million dollars. People worry about money and end up having to spend more money for doctor bills for the detrimental health effects of worrying. It’s all about proper planning, execution, and trusting in the Lord with all of our hearts and not leaning to our own understanding. (I’ll be passing the offering plate after this good word, now. See! There’s some money right there. LOL!)

5. Communications break downs.
In my line of work (day job), I send and receive many email messages and I’m privy to many verbal communications. You would not believe the amount of trouble that arises from one misread word or misunderstood message. Even when you break it down for someone, Barney Style, and they still don’t get it…WOW! Anyway, from now on, I will just continue to break that thing down until it’s got.

4. Slow walkers, drivers etc.
Man, some people are doing the best that they can do.

3. Not having enough time to do things.
I am going to reevaluate my plate and the things on it that don’t promote the Kingdom of God, my family, or myself are being removed. Period! After that reevaluation, I am cutting my day up into the pie that it is. 24 hours. That’s all we get and all we can do is try to be as efficient as we can be with that 24. Leave everything else in the Master’s hand.

2. Pleasing others.
I’m not going to worry about pleasing others; I’m just going to do it. Sounds crazy, right? But look at the most successful businesses out there. They’re successful because they fulfill the needs of others. That’s actually Bible. “Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others.” 1 Corinthians 10:24 NLT. Does that mean that I’m going to let folks take advantage of my kindness? Not at all. I’m going to be genuinely interested in the well-being of others, selflessly.

1. Anything, really.
I’m not worrying about a thing. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” Turn to your neighbor and say “Neighbor!” “Neighbor!” “I ain’t worried ‘bout anything!” “I ain’t worried ‘bout anything’!” Now somebody give God a great big hand praise in this place!

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James Fant is an author of inspirational romance and suspense. He lives in South Carolina, where the mountains and the beaches have befriended him. His books include:

Fourteen Pages
An Ode for Orchids
Close the Door
The Secret Branch
The Mended Fence

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Itchy Business (My review of “SON OF A ITCH” by S.D. Skye)

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One week after J.J. McCall killed Jake, the double agent and love interest of her most dangerous adversary yet, she jumps right back into the fray on three fronts: threats on her life, a listening device in the worst possible place, and last but not least, a dangerous love triangle that could jeopardize her career.

Lana Michaels is still at large and that poses a serious problem for J.J. and the Bureau because she wants J.J. dead in the worst way. Then J.J.’s task-force makes a harrowing discovery that leads them on a trail of treachery within the White House. All the while, McCall must decide if she will pursue a relationship with her partner Tony Donato, or be dissuaded by her natural ability to detect the lie that he’s telling her. On the whole, J.J. McCall is in the midst of some risky business. Or should I say, itchy business.

I thoroughly enjoyed S.D. Skye’s “SON OF A ITCH.” In her first novel, she took you on a roller-coaster ride. In this novel, she threw you into a whirlwind. Her knowledge of counterintelligence is outstanding; however, she writes in such a way that the reader is never lost in the details. The pacing is incredible. And the twists? This is why I likened the novel to a whirlwind. Skye carefully installed a twist in the end that was so magnificent; I had to read the section again. The most interesting facet of the novel is J.J.’s itching when she hears a lie. The cool thing is the reader knows that a character is lying but doesn’t know initially what he or she is lying about. That aspect adds a level of tension to the story that keeps the reader probing for more. Skye had me with the first novel. She solidified that possession with the second. I’m really looking forward to the third. As a matter of fact, I can’t wait.

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“I Went In” (A review of the song “Give it All” by Doobie Powell)

I heard this first on YouTube. That first listen led me to buy the entire album “The Time Is Now”. I’ll deal with the album first. The title is so fitting even though it was released in 2009. This type of genius will be relevant hundreds of years from now if the Lord allows the Earth to continue. Doobie Powell’s treatment of chord structure, placement and movement is phenomenal in an era when most cats go for the cookie cutter sound. “Oh everybody’s into this. Let’s make music like this.” But how many times can the same song be recycled before it becomes downright trifling? The Time is Indeed Now. Doobie’s individuality and fingerprint is not only essential for the Body of Christ, but also for music and philosophy as well.

Now, I must deal with this song “Give it All.” WOW! I have listened to it over and over in the past 24 hours and it is so original and thought provoking that I haven’t grown tired of it. In fact, the song in itself has inspired me on a personal and professional level. “Give it to the Lord ’cause he cares for you.” How often do we toil with things that are way above our pay grade and ability to change? Too often. At some point, the test becomes a measurement of our trust in Him. Will we trust God enough to lay the issue at his feet. “In the midst of the storm, He will help you to carry on.” Then Doobie and the choir goes into this rousing vamp where all they’re singing is “Give it all…Oh! Give it all!” And they just repeat this over rhythmic drum rolls, passionate chord changes, and spirited bass guitar runs. Oh my goodness! As the tears flowed and I thought about how powerful the message was and how masterful the music is, I closed my eyes and I thanked God for Doobie Powell. I thanked God because he knows just what you need to hear and see at just the right time.

And so I went in as I heard this song. I went straight into worship mode and I framed my thoughts on the Master of the Universe and how wonderful He is that He would be mindful enough of humans to breath into them genius. I went in. I wanted to stoke my own individuality and spirituality. I went in deep and hard and found the strength to be the best me that I can be. I also reaffirmed the reality that the battle is not, was not, and never will be mine alone. The battle is the Lord’s. If that is what Doobie intended through this ministry, by golly, he accomplished that and then some.

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The Gangster, Joseph

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Dennis Lehane puts a pleasant spin on the gritty gangster in his novel “Live by Night.” Joe Coughlin plays the smart and guarded outlaw that doesn’t want anyone to call him “Joseph”. That right and privilege is reserved for his father, with whom he has a strained relationship burdened by the ghosts of things undone and conversations had too late. Nevertheless, acquaintances want to call him Joseph—the gangster, Maso, the Cuban goddess, Graciela—all want Joe to be Joseph. Perhaps they know on some spiritual level that he’s more than a one syllable diminutive. Rather, they realize that Joseph will do what his name means in the Hebrew—he will add. Throughout the novel, Joseph Coughlin added his quick wit and charm to a mixture of thievery and debauchery, slipping several times from the grips of danger and moving with great pomp to a position of power. Ultimately, Coughlin made his abode among hustlers and mob bosses and cemented his position in the town of Ybor, Florida. However, he soon learned that his struggle for success, his quest to be the perfect outlaw, led to several losses. Would he lose the most important thing in the end?

Dennis Lehane describes a character in a very interesting way. Pale eyes. Eyes so blue or gray or off colored that they exude some sort of power. Like the person who owns those eyes has a certain authority about them. Their gaze might as well be a weapon of warfare. Once caught in it, you lose yourself and nothing else seems to matter. Lehane also brings a certain authenticity to Graciela the heroin, with the threadbare dress that hugs her curves, her sweet dark skin, her beauty. Yet, her hands are hard from rolling cigars. So how do you tease apart that soft thing that can caress you and give you pleasure from the idealist with hands hardened by day labor? You don’t separate the two. You leave them be and realize that that toughness somehow make her more beautiful.

As I read the story, I found myself listening to the early 1900s jazz; I could smell the strength of Cuban cigars. And the pain that you know a good crime novel must contain comes out at you. Sometimes, it makes you turn away. I discovered that Joe was just an outlaw. Joseph, however, was a gangster. Reading the novel, you the sense the joy he felt on his ascent as well as the sadness from things sacrificed. You actually get lost in another place, in another time. You’re surrounded by the smell of citrus and cigars. You dip from surprising gunshots. From the safety of the page or the e-reader space you witness horrific deeds. And still, somehow, you laugh at times because Lehane is just that entertaining.

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James Fant is an author of inspirational romance and suspense. He lives in South Carolina, where the mountains and the beaches have befriended him. His books include:

Fourteen Pages
An Ode for Orchids
Close the Door
The Secret Branch
The Mended Fence

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