Forgiving Stephen Redmond: A Kurchenko & Gonzalves Mystery, Book 2 of a series
By A.J. Sidransky
Black Opal Books 2021
Stephen Redmond never understood his late father, Maximo Rothman, or the mysterious ‘other life’ he never spoke about. He considers that maybe, like the changing neighborhood, his dwindling religious community, and the old ways that are disappearing, he should let go of the past and move forward.
But when Detectives Kurchenko and Gonzalves arrive to discuss the dead body found sealed in the wall of a building his father co-owned, Stephen realizes that the past has a will of its own and an iron grip. Shaken by the news of such a gruesome discovery, and knocked off balance by a murky memory he often wondered whether it was real or imagined, Stephen drags himself back through the past forty years in search of the truth. But if and when he finds the truth, what will he do with it?
Sidranky’s first book in this series, Forgiving Maximo Rothman, (reviewed by this writer on December 22, 2020), introduced us to Stephen’s father Maximo: his harrowing escape out of Nazi Europe, life as a refugee in the Dominican Republic, the horrific event that forces him to flee to New York City, and his attempt at creating a better life for his son.
In this second novel, we find Maximo’s son coming to terms with his father’s secret life, and facing the buried ghosts of his own past actions, as he tries to heal the broken pieces of his heart in the hope of finding a peaceful and blessed life.
Forgiving Stephen Redmond is a moving and memorable mystery that touches on themes of the relationship between fathers and sons, confronting a past that won’t let go, guilt, love, learning how to forgive others, and above all, the importance of forgiving ourselves.
Forgiving Stephen Redmond will touch your heart!
I love this time of year. Christmas. All the scurrying about, sending out cards, decorating our houses, shopping, cooking, baking —you know what I’m talking about. But what I really love is watching television, specifically watching Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life. These are love stories told with a sprinkle of stardust, a sense that magical things can and do happen, all within the context of real life. After watching these movies, I am convinced there are happily-ever-after’s despite the everyday muck. There is nothing our heroes can’t overcome. You root for them through their trials and your heart bursts with their triumphs.
Which brings me to my new favorite Christmas story: Eternal Love by Louis Moore.
This book is really a long short story. The man who wrote it, Louis Moore, is ninety-eight years old. He is a Chinese-American gentleman who wanted to honor his late Japanese-American wife, Nellie, by writing their love story. I heard about this book in a round about way. It sounded very sweet, very nice, but I really didn’t have the time to read—I was working on my own book. But then I learned that what this book was about: Mr. Moore’s 74 years of marriage to a woman he adored. It just so happened I was celebrating my 44th year of marriage to a man I adore. So, instead of spending a couple of hours with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed in It’s a Wonderful Life, or working on my own book, I sat down with Eternal Love and read about a love story for the ages.
Lou and his wife faced prejudice on many fronts, rejection from his family. They built businesses and lost them, they moved more than once, they had professional set-backs, and Lou sometimes wondered if he had the ‘right stuff’ to succeed. Throughout the telling of this story, Mr. Moore shines a light on his wife with the wonder of a man truly, deeply in love. He writes about Nellie’s good humor, the kindness she showed to everyone who crossed her path, her intelligence, her beauty, and, the greatest gift of all, the love she had for him and the confidence she gave him.
What I am sure the author doesn’t know is that in the telling of Nellie’s story, Louis Moore revealed himself to be a man of manners, a hard worker, a man who got up even if he was pushed down. Above all, he was devoted to his wife and loved her beyond reason.
This book was shiny and bright because every word was chosen with care, every thought, observation, and aside moved the story ahead with purpose. Eternal Love was like opening a Christmas present I will use all year long. I will remember to write to my story, I’ll remember to write with verve, and I will remember—if I ever find myself peeved at my husband—to follow Louis Moore’s advice for a happy marriage. Be kind, be courageous, have eyes for no one else but your spouse because together you can accomplish anything.
Thank you, Mr. Moore, for a wonderful story of love written just in time for Christmas. Eternal Love is magical.
I’d like to give you a special Christmas present too. Check out my December newsletter for your FREE BOOK, the best recipe for Oreo pie and some other fun stuff. Wishing you all the best of the season.
I’m excited to share with you that I have a mini-season on my podcast all about editing in honor of all the first-drafting that went on in November for National Novel Writing Month. Five episodes of editors and agents talking about editing and giving you their best tips. Jennie Nash, my first guest, even gives you two handouts!
Check out the episodes every Thursday on WRITE NOW! Workshop Podcast. You can find it on your favorite podcast app or watch the episodes on YouTube. Be sure to subscribe, either way, so you don’t miss out! In 2021, I’ll be moving to seasons, which means there will be a couple weeks in between without an episode and I don’t want you to miss anything.
As we finish up a difficult year, I also wanted to share my Encouraging Words episode with you. I hope you find it uplifting and hopeful. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!
The day before publication day for The Resistance Girl, I jolted awoke at 7:30 a.m. to the acute smell of smoke.
Burning in my eyes, throat. My chest heavy.
Tree branches scrapping against my windowpane and strong winds blowing and howling like a wild banshee had escaped from the netherworld. I swear the creature was hell-bent on dragging the hot flames closer and closer on the hem of her petticoats.
A cold fear rattled my bones. A sense of ‘This can’t be happening‘ turned my blood to ice.
I had gone to bed two hours earlier since I was up all night tweeting and posting on social media about my Paris WW 2 historical, The Resistance Girl, set during the Occupation and scheduled to pub the next day. I was exhausted but…
The acrid smell was so powerful, it dragged me out of a deep sleep.
I ran to my window on the second floor overlooking the front lawn, my heart in my throat. What I saw shook me to the bone.
A bright, rusty-orange sky…
Fire… but where?
I soon discovered the fire was less than six miles away… zero percent contained with capricious winds powered by a powerful Santa Ana with flames popping up in random places. Who knew where the burning embers would land… then ignite?
A nightmare in the making.
I turned on the air purifier, closed all the windows, and flipped on the local TV news.
And drank a ton of hot mocha coffee.
Then boom! Just when I was starting to get a grip on the situation, the powerful winds blew down my backyard fence in a big huff and puff worthy of Mr Wolf himself. What next?
I kept telling myself my heroine Sylvie Martone, French cinema star, had survived horrific events during the war… grilling by the Gestapo, dangerous treks across France to save downed pilots, attacked by SS. Whatever happened, I could handle it.
Fueled by her courage, I kept working on promoting my book while tossing important stuff into a go-to bag just in case I had to leave (note to self: keep that bag up-to-date). The next two days were a mad blur of Emergency Alerts on my phone, texts, phone calls, stand-by evacuation orders… and checking on family and friends.
Dear friends of mine did have to evacuate, but their home was undamaged, thank God. And my beautiful and vivacious daughter-in-law Kelly got caught on the toll road with smoke rolling across the highway as the fire advanced — I insisted she come and stay with me rather than go back to her place. My son agreed and rushed over to help us.
Kelly ended up spending a few days with me and I was so grateful for her support… and happy I could help her. It was then I realized how Sylvie felt when she was working for the Resistance and had no one to confide in…. except a young woman who becomes very important in her life when Sylvie saves her from the hands of the Gestapo.
Which brings me to my Boldwood red roses…
My lovely editor, Nia Beynon, and Team Boldwood sent me a dozen red roses on pub day. The gorgeous scent of roses lifted my mood and filled my soul.
The moment was made more special because I waited to open the box of flowers until Kelly arrived after work so she could share it with me. We gushed over them like teenagers getting corsages for the prom. Even my usually quiet, surfer-dude son was impressed with the lovely roses — and grateful we were both okay.
Which brings me to an important theme in The Resistance Girl.
My story is a dual timeline with Sylvie’s granddaughter Juliana intent on solving the mystery of her grandmother’s mysterious and notorious past in present day.
While Sylvie risks her life to save those she loves in Paris during World War II — her family. France. And her home.
Over the next few days, the fires were slowly contained and evacuation orders lifted, but I’ll never forget the fear and trepidation they brought, the mad dash to pack, and the instinct to keep my loved ones close and safe. Like my heroine, Sylvie Martone, I believe there’s nothing more important than family.
Because in the end…
There’s no place like home.
Two women. One heartbreaking secret.
Sylvie Martone is the star of French cinema, and adored by fans. But as Nazi officers swarm the streets of Paris, she is spotted arm in arm with an SS Officer and her fellow Parisians begin to turn against her.
However Sylvie has a secret – one she must protect with her life.
Juliana Chastain doesn’t know anything about her family history. While her mother was alive she remained very secretive about her past.
So when Juliana discovers a photograph of a glamorous French actress from World War Two amongst her mother’s possessions, she is in shock to find herself looking at her grandmother – especially as she is arm in arm with a Nazi Officer…
Desperate for answers, Juliana is determined to trace the journey of her grandmother. Surely there is more to the photograph than meets the eye?
But as she delves into Sylvie’s past, nothing can prepare Juliana for the tales of secrets, betrayal and sacrifice which she will uncover.
Amazon Buy Links:
And read the story behind the story about how my love affair with Paris shaped The Resistance Girl. https://www.boldwoodbooks.com/the-resistance-girl-jina-bacarr/
Listen to ‘chapters’ read by my favorite narrator, Laurel Lefkow, and relive the story of cinema star Sylvie Martone out to defeat the Occupiers
I’ve been doing more book coaching this year, and what a blast it’s been to see people accomplish their writing goals — and generally exceed them. I have a small group program called Finish Your Book Intensive Coaching Program, and in the first group one woman finished a book she’d been working on for 22 years! Another man set a goal to write a chapter a month on his new nonfiction book, but during the 8-week program he wrote five chapters.
I was trying to think of how I could help more people, especially people who mostly need encouragement more than coaching, and I came up with Finish Your Book Membership Program. In this group, we have at least two writing sprints a week — three during NaNo — where we get on a Zoom call, write for 30 minutes, then share our word counts. We also encourage each other in our private Facebook group.
In addition to the eight writing sprints, we have a guest speaker join us each month to talk about their own experiences in starting and finishing books, and tips and tricks they’ve used to keep themselves on track. These authors are always multi-published with a lot of helpful information. We also have a monthly Ask Me Anything call with me so I can answer questions and help people stay on track toward their goals.
If this sounds like a great way to get more writing done, join us! It’s $105 for 3 months, $210 for 7 months, or $300 for a full year. During the time you’re a member, you’ll have access to the recordings of our prior guests as well. You can email me at email@example.com or find more information on my website at https://www.writenowworkshop.com/writingcoach/.
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