Sunday, December 22, 2013

Hugs Inc. by Patricia David

We just don’t know, do we--whether cancer is related to genetics or environmental issues or both? What we do know is that cancer plays no favorites--it chooses youngsters, the elderly and every age in between.

When it strikes the older folks, we often say, “Well, he lived a good, long life.” When a child is diagnosed, we diligently pray for that good, long life to be a reality for him or her. We pray that treatment is merely a temporary necessity to make them better and healthy once again.

Do you ever wonder what these youngsters in cancer treatment are thinking? Being sick is never fun, but the hope is always for a happy outcome. In the interim, everyone involved is fearful--the children themselves, friends, parents and grandparents. It is a waiting game.

Patricia David, RN, MSW, wants to help children who are facing the paths that a cancer diagnosis causes them to travel. Her children’s book, Hugs Inc. uses four stuffed animals--Oliver the dragon, Jazzy the frog, Rosie the beagle, and Sparky the starfish to guide the children through scary times involving their treatment.

Hugs Inc. explains ports, side effects and the fact that cancer isn’t contagious. It sends a solid message that cancer strikes people of all nationalities and that hair loss and fatigue are often a result of treatment. Most importantly, it reminds them that they are not alone.

Hugs are known to offer healthy benefits such as healing feelings of loneliness, isolation and anger. A long hug can elevate serotonin levels, lifting moods and making people feel happier. It is even reported that hugs can strengthen the immune system.

Hugs that are punctuated with genuine love and concern are more than just an empty gesture. They reach in and bathe the soul in sunlight.

Patricia David tackled a topic that people generally don’t want to think about--much less address. She allowed Oliver, Jazzy, Rosie and Sparky to serve as caring, special friends to patients Zarah, Winnie, Caroline and Molly, giving them hope and companionship.

If only the children’s cancer treatment centers across the nation--hey even across the world--could see the value of utilizing this book with its adorable, vivid illustrations to make this path just a little bit easier for these young patients, what a blessing that would be.

If you know of a pediatric cancer patient who could benefit by owning this book, Hugs Inc. is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
The Amazon link is:

Give a gift of hope along with a big, therapeutic hug!

Book Description

Hugs Inc. is designed as an informational tool for anyone concerned about pediatric cancer most notably, children in classrooms, their teachers, newly diagnosed children seeking answers, and families trying to explain this disease to siblings, family members, neighbors, and the public in general but with an uplifting twist. The need for hope, understanding, guidance and support (HUGS) serve as key factors in the healing process. A Pediatric Oncologist provided technical support for this book while Patricia David created terminology for all to understand. This is her first in a series of children’s books about Pediatric Cancer. 

In the Author’s Words

Why did I write Hugs Inc?

Having worked with children diagnosed with cancer from the early 1960’s to the present day, one quality remains constant and that is valor. These children and their families are brave. They fight this war of pediatric cancer with such grace.

Writing Hugs Inc. is my way of saying thank you to all the families over these many years. Their grit and strength, their heroism is amazing.
I’ve been with families when they are confused by medical terminology shaking their heads in agreement, but not truly understanding the meaning of treatments and medical interventions. All they know is that their child has cancer. 

I wanted to present a book with understandable, age appropriate terminology. A book where each child can learn healthy outlets to express their emotions and a safe place where they can identify with the multiple changes experienced when going through cancer treatment.
Each toy character is matched with a child to fill a specific need. Let me give you a couple of examples: Winnie is a little girl diagnosed with Leukemia. Her anxiety takes the form of non-stop talking and high energy.  Jazzy a wise, jazz-singing frog from N’Awlins creates a space for her to calm herself and to balance. While Matty, a little boy from Central Mexico, now confined to a wheelchair, struggling with Rhabdomyosarcoma,  identifies with Al a Red Kneed Tarantula, from the same location in Mexico, who provides a place for this young boy to express his feelings in his own language.  Al also brings such joy and laughter to offset overwhelming emotions. 

Why did I write this book? The answer is clear. The angels gave me no choice.

Patricia (Pat) David

About the Author

Patricia (Pat) David is a retired Registered Nurse and Clinical Social Worker living in South Carolina.
Patricia David, RN, MSW
She and her husband, Gary and rescue dog, Betsy reside in the small community of Murrells Inlet, South Carolina. Pat has taken an interest in children throughout her professional career serving as a Pediatric Nurse, in addition to a School Nurse, as well as Clinical Social Worker/ School Mental Health Counselor for more than 25 years.  Pat is inspired by the courage and strength of children and their families as they weave their way through the many issues facing them with a cancer diagnosis.

She volunteers at a camp in North Carolina designed for children diagnosed with cancer. The children affectionately call her “Glamour Gertie,” or “Miss G.” as she provides complete
transformations/makeovers for all of the girls. Pat believes that, “These children possess amazing energy and cancer is an illness that doesn’t stop them from pursuing their dreams.”

Most recently, Pat volunteers at Jason’s House, a faith based, charitable organization located in Surfside Beach South Carolina which provides a full week, all expenses paid, vacation for children diagnosed with cancer, their siblings, parents and even grandparents. Miss G. is there with her feathered boas and makeup palate. It’s transformations and hugs for all.  

More thoughts by Mary Anne
I can tell you that I know Patricia David, and she is one of the most caring individuals walking the planet. In fact, she may just be one of those angels in disguise!

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to all. We'll see you again in January!

All the best,
Mary Anne Benedetto

Author of Eyelash, 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing: Build a Priceless Legacy One Story at a Time!, Never Say Perfect, From Italy with Love & Limoncello and Write Your Pet's Life Story in 7 Easy Steps!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

North of Channing Street by Gloria Spivey Flecker

Molly Peale has a dream, and love isn’t going to stand in the way of achieving her goal to be a star on stage. After a successful career on Broadway, she begins a new venture as a writer. Everything she sets out to do makes her abilities even more widely acclaimed, and her future is well beyond financially secure.

With all of her notoriety and fortune, one thing continues to be lacking--a satisfying love life. Despite her years of waiting for Mr. Right, work has come first. She finds herself lost in a world where lovers walk hand in hand, and she is in her thirties without experiencing any of the excitement that accompanies a love affair, marriage or having children.

She enjoys deep, loyal friendships, which seem to sustain her throughout the years. Nevertheless, there is a hole in her heart. Something is missing. Will she find love where and when she least expects it to flourish?

North of Channing Street takes us from Virginia to New York City, and on to Cape May, NJ (NYC and Cape May are two of my favorite places in the world). It is a tale that will keep the reader anxious to find out in what direction Molly’s world will be taking her.  The story is woven with some unexpected surprises, and traveling life’s paths with Molly Peale is an intriguing journey.

This book causes me ponder which is better? To marry young, have children while you are young and then blast off into a career or just the opposite? Back in the old days when I was in my teens, women often married very young, and my own path followed that trend. The problem is that I believe you don’t even know who you are until late twenties at best, and the person you might marry in late teens may not be the same person you would choose once you have grown and matured into adulthood and experienced some ups and downs of life.

Molly waited. And it was fascinating to live vicariously through her choices for just a little while!
 Book Description

It started in 1955 when Molly Peale, a 15 year old southern girl met Nick Graziano, a 17 year old Italian boy from New Jersey. Molly loved acting in high school land had dreams of studying drama and becoming an actress. When Nick asked her to run off and marry him, she was tempted to go, but with some coaxing from her best friend, she realized it would be a mistake.

At the age of 21, after her mother’s death, she leaves college and goes to New York to pursue her acting career. She is successful as an actress and later a known author. She finds love with her director friend, Jeff Wilde, but still holds Nick in her heart.

Molly and Nick meet again in 1995 when her father dies and Nick calls to pay his respects. Romantic interludes begin, and she must make a decision that could change their lives.
In the Author’s Words

“ I had this story in my mind for many years, but due to my full time career as a Human Services Specialist, I never really had the time to write it until after I retired.

I married very young and had children very young so was unable to realize my dreams of acting and writing. I created Molly Peale, an unforgettable girl/woman to live those dreams for me. She is my alter ego. I hope that young girls/women today will read the book and take from it the message that I am sending them. Should they fall in love at a tender age, wait until they mature enough to make a wise decision about their lives.

As a result of my early marriage, God has given me a wonderful family that I can be proud of, so I have no regrets. However, I would advise girls, in this day and age when so much is demanded of them, that they should wait. If a boy/man truly loves her, he will be there when she is ready.”

About the Author

Gloria Spivey was born in Tarboro, NC and attended grade school in Tarboro and Winton, NC. She moved with her family to Portsmouth, VA in 1949 and attended Craddock High School. She married and moved to NJ in 1956.

Gloria attended college in Atlantic County, NJ and Red Rocks, CO. She married Ben Ricciardi and raised three sons and three daughters. She lived most of her life in NJ, where she was employed for 23 years as a Human Services Specialist in Atlantic County. In 2002, she retired and moved to Myrtle Beach, SC, where she met and married Thomas Flecker. Gloria and Tom share a home in Murrells Inlet, SC.


Please note that the author has written a second book entitled The Wildes of Murrells Inlet, in which Jeff and Molly Wilde move from Cape May, NJ to Murrells Inlet, SC and find themselves entrenched in trying to solve a local mystery.

See for North of Channing Street and for The Wildes of Murrells Inlet

See you soon, and Merry Christmas to all!

All the best,
Mary Anne Benedetto


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Rizzo by Don Lewis

I confess that I am unable to resist a mystery that seizes me and holds me in its grasp. That is exactly how I felt about Rizzo.

One cannot help but sympathize with Nathan Rizzo. Here he is--a Pittsburgh Police Detective, retired after 32 years, a widower still mourning the loss of his wife, and he decides to accept a position as Police Chief in the small Pennsylvania town of Braden. With minimal crime in this new location, life will be quiet and peaceful, and he should have just enough to do to keep his mind occupied and give this 15 officer police department and rural population the benefit of his experience and leadership.

The apple pie doesn’t always bake to our satisfaction, however.  Sometimes the crust collapses, and that is precisely what seems to be happening to Rizzo. As he navigates the precarious politics present even in a small town setting, five months after his arrival the unthinkable is happening. A series of grizzly murders occurs, and Rizzo is left to untangle the web of secrecy and mystery surrounding them. The challenges that present themselves are magnified by deficient access to the sophisticated, big city resources and support to which Rizzo is accustomed.

This book has everything--the obvious anticipation inherent in digesting the details of multiple whodunits, danger, a hint of romance, organized crime connection, small town characters and cigars. Rizzo relishes his rooftop reflections with a favorite cigar in hand.

Upon reading the final chapter, I returned to the beginning to once again consume clues that I may have overlooked during the initial read. Don Lewis, with his legal background and expertise, excels at crafting an intense legal thriller.

I can’t imagine that anyone would be disappointed in this book. Be aware that there is a smattering of strong language and some graphic descriptions of murder scenes, though neither are as gross as they potentially might have been. For that, I was exceedingly grateful. Some language and visuals are merely typical of a particular setting, subject matter, occupation or lifestyle. And although I personally don’t care for foul language, I am well aware that thugs and criminals wouldn’t ordinarily converse in sugar-coated, angelic phrases. To his tremendous credit, Lewis minimizes its use.

To escape into the world of an intriguing saga, Rizzo is an ideal selection!

 Book Description

Nathan Rizzo, a retired Pittsburgh Homicide Detective, recently widowed, needs something to get his life started again. He finds it in an offer to become the chief of police in a small town in North Central Pennsylvania.

Expecting the job to be essentially stress-free, Rizzo and the small town of Braden are suddenly confronted with a number of brutal murders, all seemingly committed by the same person, yet without clues to connect the victims, and no evidence pointing to a suspect.

The investigation leads Rizzo to the ten year old unsolved murder of a police officer in Twin Falls, Idaho. The key to solving the murders in Braden may have to be found in Idaho.

A number of suspects begin to surface, none but one of whom would seem to have a sufficient motive for the extreme barbarism exercised in the Braden murders, and that person died in an auto accident years earlier.

As Rizzo winds his way through the maze that blocks the identity of the killer, outside entities, including organized crime figures, influence and hinder the investigation.

Working his way through a trail of blood, brutality, and old buried psychological scars, Rizzo’s experience and focus are severely tested, and leave him wondering if he should return to the calmer, less taxing job of a Pittsburgh Homicide Detective.

 Insight from Don Lewis

Detective Nathan Rizzo, retired homicide detective and recently widowed, finds himself and his life, lacking a purpose. Seeing this happening, his old friends and fellow detectives at the Pittsburgh Police Homicide Squad, set him up with a job as the chief of police in a small town in North Central Pennsylvania. Hoping and expecting that the slow pace and lack of serious crime would allow him to keep busy in a stress-free environment, he accepts the job.

As it turns out, the most stressful case he had ever handled, a series of brutal killings, lands in his lap in small town America. How he deals with this situation and brings his experience to bear in a situation where he is basically lacking the support network he had been used to, provides an insight into the life of Chief Rizzo.

As a career prosecutor and criminal trial attorney, I have known many police detectives and have seen them work. I also know several big city cops who took their act to the country and have watched them deal with this strange and totally different environment. Thinking it would make for an interesting story, I have followed the fictional Nathan Rizzo to such a town and have tried to see into how such a man would react in the story line I have created in Rizzo.
Don Lewis

About Author Don Lewis

As a trial lawyer in hundreds of criminal jury trials, including more than 60 murder cases, Mr. Lewis is uniquely qualified to author crime novels like Rizzo. During those years he has had exposure to all types of witnesses and evidence.

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Mr. Lewis, a former paratrooper and Vietnam Veteran, completed his undergraduate work at Waynesburg College in Pennsylvania, and in 1970 received his law degree from Duquesne University Law School in Pittsburgh.

In 2002 Mr. Lewis retired from the practice of law to devote more time to his writing. In addition to Rizzo, he has authored three other crime novels: Satan’s Boots Don’t Creak, Dark Covenant, and Kalup’s Crossroads.

You may learn more about the author and his books and read sample chapters of each at Mr. Lewis’ website:


Stop by again in two weeks for another post about a "must read."

Happy Thanksgiving 2013 to all,
Mary Anne Benedetto

Author of Eyelash, 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing: Build a Priceless Legacy One Story at a Time!, Never Say Perfect, From Italy with Love & Limoncello and Write Your Pet's Life Story in 7 Easy Steps!