Category Archives: Ten Things


Jo-Kessel1-198x300Jo Kessel is a journalist in the UK, working for the BBC and reporting and presenting for ITV on holiday, consumer and current affairs programs. She writes for several national newspapers including the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the Guardian and the Express and was the anonymous author of the Independent’s hit column: Diary of a Primary School Mum.

When Jo was ten years old she wrote a short story about losing a loved one. Her mother and big sister were so moved by the tale that it made them cry. Having reduced them to tears she vowed that the next time she wrote a story it would make them smile instead. Happily she succeeded and with this success grew an addiction for wanting to reach out and touch people with words.

P.S Jo’s pretty certain one of her daughters has inherited this gene.

Other books by Jo Kessel include Lover in Law.

Her latest book is the new adult novel, Weak at the Knees.

Visit her website at


By Jo Kessel

  1. CHATEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE WINE – this is one of France’s finest red wines. It comes from the Rhone wine region of South Eastern France and is wonderfully deep-bodied and velvety. So much so that I named the book’s male love interest – Olivier du Pape – after the wine. Oh, and you can win a bottle of it as a prize if you enter my competition!
  2. NON, JE NE REGRETTE RIEN – Translated this means: ‘No, I have no regrets’. It’s an iconic French song by the singer Edith Piaf, one of France’s greatest ever international stars. She became famous after World War 2 and her voice is really distinctive. This song is one of my favorite’s of hers. It’s got so much emotion in it and the lyrics are very pertinent to Weak at the Knees’ plotline.
  3. PAIN AU RAISINS – French bakeries are sensational. No-one makes a pain au raisins (a cross between a Danish pastry and a croissant filled with gooey custard and raisins) like a French bakery. Nope, I have yet to find a pain au raisins outside of France which tastes anything like the real French deal. This is what heroine Danni has for breakfast nearly every day and whenever I go to France, I have to admit that this is what I like to start the day with too.
  4. PERNOD – this is a French liqueur which tastes (and smells) of liquorice. The French drink it diluted with water and it’s a very acquired taste. I have to admit that it’s never been something I’ve taken to. In Weak at the Knees, Danni’s roommate Gina cooks up a carrot dish with Pernod in it, because it’s allegedly an aphrodisiac.
  5. MA BICHE – This looks a little bit rude (and sounds a bit like the word ‘bitch’) but ‘Ma Biche’ is actually a lovely French term of endearment. It literally means ‘my deer’ (as in the cute furry animal) but the French often use this word instead of ‘darling’. Olivier calls Danni ‘ma biche’ the whole time.
  6. VIN CHAUD – this is mulled wine, and a delicious wintry drink served in bars in France, designed to warm you up from the inside out. In the French Alps, after a cold day’s skiing or hiking, nothing is nicer than to settle down with a hot glass of mulled wine (which has a fruity cinnamon aroma) by a warm log fire. Danni likes to do this in Weak at the Knees.
  7. FONDUE – this is a very traditional French mountain dish. Diners spear cubes of bread onto long-stemmed forks and twirl them into a communal pot of melted cheese which sits on a portable stove. It’s a very convivial meal, best enjoyed in a group, and the sauce is often laced with a sneaky amount of alcohol! It’s easy to get a little drunk when eating a Fondue! Danni and Olivier eat this one night, washed down with a bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Heavenly!
  8. ESPRESSO – it’s not just the Italians who like a small cup of supercharged coffee in the morning. No, the French consume just as much. This is how Olivier starts the day, with not one cup, but about five! Danni prefers freshly brewed filter coffee.
  9. FRENCH MEN MAKE GREAT LOVERS – I’m not sure whether proper research has ever been carried out in this department (!), but I have it on good authority that French men make very sensual lovers and are way more amorous than other nationalities. Anyone care to cast an opinion on this?!
  10. FRENCH MEN HAVE A TERRIBLE REPUTATION FOR HAVING MISTRESSES – this is true! Indeed, when French President Mitterand died in 1996 his long-standing mistress attended his funeral alongside his widow. I guess they do things differently in France! Anyway, in Weak at the Knees, Danni is worried about Olivier and the reputation of his fellow men. The question is, does she need to be worried?……………………….…

About the Book:

Weak-at-the-Knees-sm1-188x300We got so busy living life that we forgot to live our dreams.”

Danni Lewis has been playing it safe for twenty-six years, but her sheltered existence is making her feel old ahead of time. When a sudden death plunges her into a spiral of grief, she throws caution to the wind and runs away to France in search of a new beginning.

The moment ski instructor Olivier du Pape enters her shattered world she falls hard, in more ways than one.

Their mutual desire is as powerful and seductive as the mountains around them. His dark gypsy looks and piercing blue eyes are irresistible.

Only she must resist, because he has a wife – and she’d made a pact to never get involved with a married man.

But how do you choose between keeping your word and being true to your soul?

Weak at the Knees is Jo’s debut novel in the new adult, contemporary romance genre – a story of love and loss set between London and the heart of the French Alps.

Purchase your copy at AMAZON (US) or AMAZON (UK)

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Ten Things About Arnine Cumsky Weiss You May Not Know

Arnine Weiss 7Arnine Cumsky Weiss is a nationally certified sign language interpreter and a teacher of English as a second language. She has worked in the field of Deafness for over thirty years. She is the author of six books. BECOMING A BAR MITVAH: A TREASURY OF STORIES, BECOMING A BAT MITZVAH: A TREASURY OF STORIES (University of Scranton Press), THE JEWS OF SCRANTON (Arcadia Publishing), and THE UNDEFEATED (RID Press) and  THE CHOICE: CONVERTS TO JUDAISM SHARE THEIR STORIES (University of Scranton Press). Her second novel, SHE AIN’T HEAVY (Academy Chicago)was published in June, 2013. She is married to Dr. Jeffrey Weiss and is the mother of Matt, Allie, and Ben.

Visit Arnine’s website at

She Ain't Heavy 7Ten Things About Arnine Cumsky Weiss You May Not Know

1)     I wrote my first book Becoming a Bar Mitzvah: A Treasury of Stories, inspired by my oldest son surviving cancer.

2)     The Idea for my first novel, The Undefeated, was rolling around in my head for 20 years before I wrote it.

3)      The title for my newest novel She Ain’t Heavy is a take-off of both a slogan for Boy’s Town and a Hollie’s song.

4)      She Ain’t Heavy is dedicated to my mother because she wasn’t heavy.

5)      Teddy Warner, the protagonist of She Ain’t Heavy works in a Dunkin’ Donuts. I love DD coffee.

6)      I lived in northeastern PA for twenty-five years and both of my novels are partially set there. The mayor came to my launch party for The Undefeated.

7)      I’ve worked with deaf children as both a teacher and sign language interpreter for over thirty years.

8)      When I moved to NYC, I started to teach English as a second language and GED prep classes to better connect to the city.

9)      I saw someone reading She Ain’t Heavy on the subway. I feel like I have arrived.

10)  I’m a twin.

About the Book:

Just when counter clerk Teddy Warner is about to be evicted from her Scranton apartment, she bumps into beautiful, brilliant, blond Rachel – her estranged childhood friend whose mother forbid their friendship thinking Teddy was beneath them.

Teddy and Rachel reconnect over hot chocolate and under New Year’s Eve fireworks.  Their discussion leads to an invitation. Soon, Teddy’s on her way to Philadelphia, where Rachel is a student, to share an apartment and begin an exciting new life in the City.

Teddy views Rachel as perfect.  Rachel can’t bring herself to shatter the image by letting on that she is having an affair with a married man. Just when Teddy is starting to feel at home, Rachel insists on some privacy.  Acting out her anger at being asked to stay away, Teddy indulges in a one-night stand.

When Teddy returns to their apartment the next morning, Rachel is being carried out on a stretcher – the victim of carbon monoxide poisoning. This unforeseen tragedy leaves Teddy alone in a strange city, with no money, no friends, and no connections.

As Teddy struggles to find her way, she meets a mentor at the same university Rachel previously attended who takes an interest in her, but with strings attached. She also develops a unique bond with the firefighter who rescued Rachel.  And yet, Teddy remains committed to helping Rachel get back on her feet, at a time when no one else who supposedly loves her can accept her in this diminished way.  Along the way, Teddy discovers her own strength in the roles of caretaker, lover, and friend.

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Ten Things About I, Walter You May Not Know

Mike HartnerMike Hartner is a father, son, author, patriot, geek (ret), and husband. His love of all things genealogical led him to writing, and writing has now led him to fiction and a large epic saga.  He lives in Vancouver, BC with his wife and son. His latest book is the historical romance, I, Walter. Visit his website at

Ten Things About I, Walter You May Not Know

10. I, Walter was written and edited over a period of ten months.

9.  Gerald was the hardest character to write, since I’ve never encountered his kind in real life.  I know he exists, but I’ve never encountered him.

8.  A lot of the good humor in I, Walter  is aimed at the cook.

7. My favorite line was Walter’s comment about Cookie the boat’s chef:  “… we ate a meal of “surprise stew,” which was called that for two reasons. The first was because the meat was unidentifiable the way Cookie prepared it; the second because it was a genuine surprise that anyone would call a dish this watered down “stew.”

6. I, Walter is the first in a series of books that will eventually bring the reader to present day.

5. Bart’s full name is Bartholomew Stuart.  He is a paternal cousin to James Stuart – James VII of Scotland, James I of England.

6. One of the most surprising moments to me, was Carlos’ reaction to Melanie.

5. The landlord scene was originally written with a female landlord.

4. The original form called for a ‘sight’ of his mother’s spirit in the Indian Ocean, heralding her death, as well as his survival.

3. Walter has more like for his father than I did writing his story.

2. The Salted Dog was definitely an interesting place, and some of the other patrons were willing to share their stories with me as well.

1.  The Drenched Seaman was actually a play on the British weather patterns.

I, WalterAbout the Book:

This is the life story of Walter Crofter, an English commoner who ran from home at the age of 11.  After two years living on the street, he ended up on a Merchant Mariners boat in the service of the Crown.

On his first voyage, he rescued a girl from pirates.  A very important girl, who stole his heart before she was returned to her home.

This is the story of his life.  What adventures he had at sea; what took him off the waters, and what happened to him as he lived his life and stayed true to his character.

Purchase your copy at AMAZON.




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