Category Archives: Inspirational

Welcome Betsy A. Riley

Join me in welcoming Betsy Riley to Highlighted Author.

Author/artist Betsy Riley grew up in a small town in Kentucky.  She had early recognition for her poetry, essays, and artwork, but got enticed away from the arts by the siren call of computing.  That call led her to spend over 35 years working at the leading edge of science and computing in Oak Ridge Tennessee.  She still continues that work as a Program Manager for the federal government.

But the arts have their own siren call, so it hasn’t been all bits and bytes for Betsy.  Along the way, she’s been a ham radio operator, a trivia champ, competitive dancer, dress designer, and ballroom studio owner.  For relaxation, she paints in acrylics, and writes poetry.  Her first book, The Comet, combines these loves in an illustrated fable about relationships and loneliness.

Don’t count on future works being in the same genre.  Works in progress include:  Street People, a work of narrative poetry, two collection of short stories about very different serial killers, and two in a series of urban fantasy novels (zombies, and voodoo, and ghosts, oh my!).

Betsy’s life is full of quirky encounters with famous people.  As a Presidential Scholar, she has a medal from Richard M. Nixon.  She has danced a twist solo on stage with Chubby Checker, and shared a table (and fries) with Garth Brooks at a songwriters showcase.  Most recently, she was lucky enough to brush shoulders with surprise guest Terry Pratchett at a local SciFi convention.


What their saying:

“I was predisposed to like The Comet but I was not expecting to be so totally enthralled with it.  The writing and the illustration are wonderful, and are truly not prose, but poetry in the old kind of epic poem kind of way.  While I suspect that the writer meant to talk about relationships, this short book operates on many levels.  Anyone who has ever had his or her heart broken should read this book, which offers tremendous hope.” –Amy McVay Abbott, author

“This book is awesome!  It makes me cry every time I read it because it personally reflects the two marriages I experienced and the tragic end results of both.  And for now, I to be a comet, traveling alone, but not lonely anymore, thanks to Betsy’s sound advice about “flying solo”—it’s not a bad thing at all—in fact, it’s an exciting, yes scary at times, experience!  Ms Riley’s inspirational writing can help anyone who is or needs to fly like a comet.  It’s okay—you will be just fine!” –Debra Eloise, author


The Comet

The Comet is a parable of love, loss, and growth, punctuated with striking images.  Author/artist Betsy A. Riley takes the reader on a journey of self-discovery and healing, using the cosmos as a metaphor.


In her dreams, she was a comet…

The comet shone

in the dark skies of deep space,

sparkling, burning,

as she danced across

the heavens.

From a distance

made of fire,

she seemed to be

leaving a flaming  trail.

But she had been

formed of ice.

A blazing cold streak,

she was a brittle beauty

traveling the universe…alone.

And she was lonely.



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Welcome Tia Bach

Join me in welcoming Tia Bach to Highlighted Author.


Hi, Tia. Please tell us a little about yourself.

I treasure words, both as a writer and avid reader. My first novel, Depression Cookies, was released in October 2010 and co-authored with my mother, Angela Silverthorne. It is a coming of age tale written from two perspectives: teenage daughter and middle-aged mother. I wrote the teenager’s perspective while my mom wrote the mother’s.

I am blessed with three beautiful girls (11, 9 & 6), a wonderful husband, and supportive family.

What was it that made you decide to become a writer?

I’ve always loved to read and write, inspired by a mom who lived with a book in her hands and made up stories. I filled notebooks with stories as a kid. I found it therapeutic. When I headed to college, I was equally influenced by my practical father and creative mother. A business degree made sense, but I spent all my free time writing for the school newspaper and yearbook.

As soon as a company discovered I liked writing and editing, they incorporated these strengths into my job. I did everything from bank newsletters, marketing materials, and reviewing corporate communications to editing bank manuals. But the creative part of me always wanted a non-business writing outlet. I would sneak in employee interviews or spotlights for a little non-business flair, but I still wanted more.

When my first child was born in 2000, I called my mom with a crazy thought. I was excited to be a stay-at-home mom, but I knew I needed something for myself. I convinced her to write a coming of age story with me. Ten years and two more kids later, Depression Cookies was published.

Is there an author who stands out among the others that you feel influenced you?

First, Judy Blume. I devoured every book she wrote. I tell everyone Depression Cookies is Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret but with both the mother and daughter’s voices. I read so many books, but I find women’s tales stay with me best. I love Fannie Flagg and Billie Letts. My favorite book all-time is Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi, although I must admit The Help recently cracked my top five.

I love a story told from a woman about women and for women. Don’t get me wrong, I read male authors, too. I love She’s Come Undone and even more so I Know this Much is True by Wally Lamb. She’s Come Undone is a shining example of a male author capturing the female voice.

Tell us about your featured book:

Depression Cookies is a coming of age story woven around the heart of family triumph. It is told from two distinct vantage points, middle-aged mother, Abby, and her teenage daughter, Krista.

Abby is buckling under the weight of a husband who is climbing the corporate ladder, three daughters each with their own unique needs, a mother who is going off the deep end and family health issues. As she is meeting everyone else’s needs, her own keep surfacing.  She feels she is losing parts of herself daily and doesn’t know how to handle the stress and conflict. All she truly wants is a little magic in her life.

Krista is thirteen, battling acne and low self-esteem, when her father waltzes in and announces the family is moving again. Instead of letting fear and anxiety rule her life, she is determined to survive the trenches of teenage cruelty and family issues without completely losing herself in the process.

What neither expects to find is the true essence of magic in the strength, friendship, power and energy of the female spirit.

What was your inspiration for Depression Cookies?

Moving as often as we did, we saw many families and their struggles. Losing a friend to anorexia had a profound effect on me. Too often we get mired down in our own view of life and how things happened, and a mother and teenage daughter can lose each other along the way. We hoped this book would open up a dialogue, not just in the mother-daughter relationship, but for all women to talk about perspective and how life events shape them.

Who was your biggest supporter or influence while you wrote?

My mother. My husband endured my cranky teenage persona, I often channeled her a bit much while writing, and supported my desire to write and publish a novel. But my mother was there every step of the way. When I was overwhelmed with three small children and moving yet again, she provided encouragement and advice. I couldn’t have done it without her.

What was it like to co-author with your mother? How did you arrange your writing schedules?

We would discuss characters and plot points on the phone. I would write a chapter, send it to Mom, she would write a chapter in reaction, then I reacted to her chapter, and so on. We rarely got ahead of each other. When life handed us delays (new baby, health issues), we took a break and resumed when we were both ready. Sometimes I would outline future ideas, but overall we wrote chapter by chapter.

You appeared on The Balancing Act on Lifetime TV. Would you share the experience with us?

Amazing. I can’t say enough positive things about every step of the process. O2 Media produces the show. They contacted us and made sure we were comfortable through each phase. The host, Danielle Knox, was professional but also engaging and supportive. Neither Mom nor I had ever done a television interview before, but they had us so prepared we did it in two takes. We were thrilled with how the interview turned out, and we learned so much.

Do you have any other projects in the works? Or other published works you’d like to mention?

My mother and co-author, Angela Silverthorne, previously published a book of poetry, Promises Seeded Inside. We are currently working on a follow-up to Depression Cookies. The same concept of two voices, but Krista will be entering college. We wanted to explore ages where children, particularly daughters, pull away to define themselves but still need their families for support and comfort. We explored the early teenage years in the first novel, so we wanted to tackle the “leaving the nest” time of life in the second.

In addition, I’m working on a YA novel. I love the young adult voice; it’s a great time of exploration and discovery.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers?

Depression Cookies was named a Finalist in the Chick Lit category of the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and more recently as a Finalist in the Chick Lit and Fiction – Realistic categories of the 2011 Reader’s Favorite Book Awards.

Depression Cookies



Looking through the dingy school bus window, I felt the emptiness of losing another place. I wasn’t losing a home; my family knew better than to get attached to a location. It was worse than that. The persona I had created would stay behind; so in essence, I was dying. I never knew what I would have to become on the other side. The North Carolina girl was an illusion I had yet to create, and the real me was a reality I had yet to know.

Late at night, I would often think about the many characters I had created over the years. I could imagine how actors felt. They become each new role only to lose that part at each premiere. Now, through the cruelty of fate, I would lose another me. I was heading off to start a new movie, a new role.

“Krista, did you study for the math test?” Courtney asked.

I looked at her and felt the separation beginning. She was blurring, and I was starting to forget her. I blinked several times to combat the fuzziness. “I looked over the stuff last night. Not worried about it.”

“Well, I am. I wish I had your knack for numbers.”

“It’s the only thing you can trust,” I said to her. “Two plus two is always four.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. But what the heck is x?”

We laughed. Excelling at school was never a challenge. Existing at school was. As we filed out of the yellow bus, I remembered I had not cared when I showed up here, and no one would care when I left. While I was absorbed in questioning my existence, chattering females in the hallway buzzed in my ear as I made my way to my locker. I clicked it shut and was heading to the math test when Dean stopped me.

He put one hand on my shoulder and looked into my eyes and said, “So, you think I’m cute?”

A crowd had gathered, and I felt heat spreading from my neck through the rest of my body. God take me to the next place now. Why must I suffer one last humiliation before I am a memory? I wanted to run, to scream at him to please let me down easy; instead, I stared at him feeling like a simple bystander to the scene.

“I only date pretty girls. You know any?” he said and turned to high-five the second most popular guy in school and his best friend. Several girls snickered behind them while several more looked at me with pity.

I simply walked away. Not a word. Neither Mom nor Dad would have believed it. After all, I had a comeback for everything they said. But to defend myself to these kids, I had not one word. I melted into the scenery because I knew how to do that. This was the cherished popular crowd, and I had never gained access.

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