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  • Writer's pictureTammy Pasterick

"Freshly cut Christmas trees smelling of stars and snow and pine resin—inhale deeply and fill your soul with wintry night." —John J. Geddes

The days are getting shorter, the weather's turning colder, and the UPS truck is at my house almost every day. It must be December! It's the busiest and most stressful time of year for so many, especially for those of us with kids. But it's also a magical time when neighbors drop by with sweets and treats, homes are filled with the fresh scent of pine, and twinkling lights of red, green, and white illuminate the night sky. It's a time to gather with friends and family, a time to indulge in fine food and drink, and a time to show our loved ones how much we care. It's the season of giving, and everyone knows the very best gifts don't come wrapped with a red bow.

Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa—or just like to party on New Year's Eve—I wish you a joyful holiday season. And in the spirit of giving, I'm sharing some of my favorite Christmas and wintertime photos from my own family album. I added the quotes so that you might have a little peace to go with all that joy!

“Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing, but of reflection.” —Winston Churchill

"In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks." —John Muir

"To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake it is necessary to stand out in the cold." —Aristotle

"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better." —Albert Einstein

"No matter how hard the past, you can always begin again." —Buddha


A native of Western Pennsylvania, Tammy Pasterick grew up in a family of steelworkers, coal miners, and Eastern European immigrants. Her debut novel, Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash, was released by She Writes Press in September 2021. Visit to learn more.

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  • Writer's pictureTammy Pasterick

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”

—Robert Brault

The fall season is upon us, and Thanksgiving is just a day away. It's time to take stock of our blessings and all we are grateful for. It's been an exceptionally busy year for me, and I'm thankful to have absolutely nothing on my schedule for the next several days other than eating turkey and preparing for Christmas. My husband and I are having a quiet Thanksgiving at home this year with just the kids and the dog, and I am perfectly content with that plan. I will miss seeing my parents and extended family in Pittsburgh, but I can't remember the last time I had five consecutive days at home to rest and recharge. Although you can bet my thirteen-year-old will be bored by Friday and beg me to hit the mall for some Black Friday deals!

The past two years have been extremely challenging for all of us. Thanksgiving tables will look very different this year for the many families who have lost precious loved ones to Covid. Holidays are often the toughest time for those coping with grief. But they can also be incredibly healing. There's no greater comfort than gathering with friends and family to share laughter, tears, and hugs over a feast of turkey and stuffing. Many will reminisce and reflect on the happy times with those who were lost, while others will welcome a new daughter or son-in-law, baby, or puppy to the table. Although I suppose few people would let the puppy sit at the table, but to each his own! No matter what life has thrown our way in 2021, there is still much to be thankful for. We just need to slow down long enough to look around and take in all our blessings. I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! 🦃🍁


I can't possibly create a post to my website without saying something about books. The holiday shopping season is underway, and I know books are on the Christmas wish list of many. My own novel was published by an indie press called She Writes Press, and it has an impressive list of titles. Whether you're looking for fiction, memoir, or non-fiction, She Writes Press has something for you and all the readers in your life. I have featured four of my favorites at the bottom of this post. Click on the following link to see all the 2021 releases:

As for my own book, my blog tours and book signings were a major success this fall. I met so many wonderful people at the Student Book Store of Penn State and at Riverstone Books in Pittsburgh. I really enjoyed swapping stories with people who, like me, have Eastern European immigrants, steel workers, and coal miners in their own families. The ones who didn't were still excited to hear about my book because who doesn't enjoy a story set in their own backyard? We Pennsylvanians share so much in common, even if it's just our love of pierogies and the Steelers!

If you still haven't bought my book, you can now preview even more of it! There's a new page on my website called "Excerpt" that has the first three chapters of my book. You will also find links to retailers at the bottom of that page. Go to:

And now for a word about reviews. If you read my book and loved it, I would be very grateful if you would review it on Amazon and Goodreads. It’s the highest compliment you can pay an author, especially since reviews have become the most important factor in getting an author exposure in the highly competitive world of book publishing. And don’t worry … your review can be as short as one sentence. Or you can just leave a star rating. No book reports necessary!

As promised, four of my favorite She Writes Press books are featured below. I've included links to their listings on my publisher's website where you will also find links to retailers. Enjoy!

Northwest Washington State, 1985

For years, Harris Hayes has taught his daughter, Aggie, the ways of the northern woods. So when her mother falls ill, Harris shows the girl how to find and sketch the nests of wild birds as an antidote to sadness. Aggie is in a tree far overhead when her fragile mother spots her and forbids her to climb. Angry, the ten-year-old accidentally lights a tragic fire, then flees downriver. She lands her boat near untamed forest, where she hides among the trees and creatures she considers her only friends—determined to remain undiscovered.

A search party gathers by Aggie’s empty boat hours after Celia, fresh off the plane from Houston, arrives at her grandmother’s nearby farm. Hurting from her parents’ breakup, she also plans to run. But when she joins the hunt for Aggie, she meets two irresistible young men who compel her to stay. One is autistic; the other, dangerous.

Perfect for fans of Lisa Wingate, Sue Monk Kidd, and Kristin Hannah, Sugar Birds immerses readers in a layered, evocative coming-of-age story set in the breathtaking natural world where characters encounter the mending power of forgiveness—for themselves and for those who have failed them.

Seventy-year-old Goldie Sparrows faces declining finances, questionable health, and a late husband who torments her from the beyond. She seeks refuge in her butterfly garden, which is filled with voices and memories from long ago.

Jocelyn Anderson is a struggling writer who finds escape from her custody battle in the journal of her late mother-in-law. As she gets pulled through the pages of time, Jocelyn discovers her own husband has a hidden history she knows nothing about. Is this secret now Jocelyn’s to keep?

Krystal Axelrod is living a life she never dreamed she could have. And yet the demons of a dysfunctional childhood and mean girl culture from her cheerleading days cast their shadow over her ability to feel whole, capable, and worthy. Does Goldie hold the key to Krystal’s path to freedom?

A masterfully crafted tale of love, friendship, betrayal, and the risks we take in the pursuit of justice.

Butterfly Awakens depicts the story of the extraordinary transformation of a forty-something Italian American attorney as she moves through unimaginable grief and sadness watching her beloved mother lose her battle to breast cancer. This tumultuous life experience shifts her world, causing her to question her life choices and opening her up to her soul’s calling. Nocero brings readers along on her journey through a dark night of the soul as she deals with the grieving process, a toxic work environment, and intense stress that results in depression, anxiety, and an acquired somatic nervous disorder called tinnitus. Through it all, she never gives up, instead looking for the help she needs to start to heal and find her light. In the end, like the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly, this story is a beautiful love letter that honors Nocero’s mother’s legacy while detailing the awakening of her own.

There are many stories about breast cancer and grief, but none are quite like this one. Throughout her tale, Nocero pulls the reader deep into her story through the intensity of her emotions; and in the end, after resigning from her career as a federal prosecutor due to a toxic administration, she searches for the lighthouse she saw in a vision when her mother died. Embarking on a spiritual pilgrimage on El Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain to get to the lighthouse at Cap Finesterre, she sets out to wake up and live again; the butterfly connection and stark honesty of her writing offers readers important lessons learned from moving through grief so that each person can shine their light again.

Allison Hong is not your typical fifteen-year-old Taiwanese girl. Unwilling to bend to the conditioning of her Chinese culture, which demands that women submit to men’s will, she disobeys her father’s demand to stay in their faith tradition, Buddhism, and instead joins the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Then, six years later, she drops out of college to serve a mission—a decision for which her father disowns her.

After serving her mission in Taiwan, twenty-two-year-old Allison marries her Chinese-speaking American boyfriend, Cameron Chastain. But sixteen months later, Allison returns home to their Texas apartment and is shocked to discover that, in her two-hour absence, Cameron has taken all the money, moved out, and filed for divorce. Desperate for love and acceptance, Allison moves to Utah and enlists in an imaginary, unforgiving dating war against the bachelorettes at Brigham Young University, where the rules don’t make sense—and winning isn’t what she thought it would be.


A native of Western Pennsylvania, Tammy Pasterick grew up in a family of steelworkers, coal miners, and Eastern European immigrants. Her debut novel, Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash, was released by She Writes Press in September 2021. Visit to learn more.

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  • Writer's pictureTammy Pasterick

When I began writing Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash over seven years ago, I had very few expectations. I honestly had no idea whether I would finish my novel much less get it published. I was just an amateur genealogist and historical fiction fanatic who had a tiny seed for a story. I had no outline or master plan for how my plot would unfold. I simply let the characters show me the way and went with my instincts instead of overanalyzing every decision like I normally do in real life. Who knew that surrendering my obsessive tendencies would allow me to tap into a creative well I never knew existed? Granting myself the freedom to write a story in a way that felt right to me—not the way a novel writing textbook might recommend—resulted in a riveting and emotional tale that is leaving a lasting impression on readers.

Now that my novel is out in the world, I feel immensely grateful. It's so rewarding to read the Amazon and Goodreads reviews and hear how people have connected with my characters and their struggles. It's also been thrilling to see Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash featured on so many Instagram posts. The collage above is just a small sampling of the beautiful photos readers have posted along with their amazing reviews and recommendations. It's been an exciting three weeks, and there's still more to come. You'll find all the details below.

The Launch

My Facebook Live event with my best friend, Stacy Riggle-El Sabbagh, was held on Wednesday, September 22nd, and I am so relieved that it went off without a hitch. We discussed the inspiration behind my novel, the history of the Burgh, and my writing process. We took several questions from the audience, which was composed of long lost friends from high school, new author friends at She Writes Press, my family, and everyone in between. It was such a special night. I could feel the love and support coming through the computer screen. During the launch, I also revealed the shocking discovery I made about Stacy while conducting research on Click on the link below to watch a recording of the launch and find out why we look so happy.


I will be signing books at the Student Book Store in State College, Pennsylvania during Penn State's homecoming weekend, which is October 22nd-24th. The times are listed below.

I will be signing books at Riverstone Books in McCandless, Pennsylvania on Saturday, November 13th from 12-3pm.

I may have more events in the coming months. I'm hoping to do some signings closer to home in Maryland and Delaware.

blog tours & instagram tours

My Blog Tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club kicked off on September 21st and is running through November 23rd. Below is a list of all the blogs where my book is being featured. Some will have excerpts from my novel, while others will have interviews with me or guest posts written by me.

My publicists at BookSparks kicked off my Instagram Book Tour on September 21st. Below is a list of all the instagrammers featuring my book through October 21st.




Click on the link below to order a copy of my novel. You will be taken to my website's "Book" page where you will be given several choices for ordering. You can also ask your local bookstore to order a copy since my novel has traditional distribution through Ingram Publisher Services.


I would be so very grateful if you would review my book on Amazon and Goodreads. It’s the highest compliment you can pay an author, especially since reviews have become the most important factor in getting an author exposure in the highly competitive world of book publishing. And don’t worry … your review can be as short as one sentence. No book reports necessary!

final thoughts

I had an incredibly busy and chaotic summer preparing for my book's launch and often wondered if the family time I was sacrificing was worth it. Would people actually buy my book? Would the reviews be positive, or would they crush my soul and send me crawling into the nearest hole? It's only been three weeks since my publication date, and it's still too early to tell how successful my book will be. However, I have several reasons to be optimistic. The reviews on Amazon and Goodreads are even better than I imagined, the interest on social media is high, and books are moving out of the warehouse.

Things are looking good for this debut author, but even if my sales plummet, I will still walk away from this experience a winner. The support I’ve received over the past few months has been overwhelming, and I can honestly say I have never felt so much love from my family, friends, and perfect strangers. I came home to a house full of balloons and cards from my family the night before my launch. Old friends and new friends attended my Facebook Live event and contacted me to congratulate me and tell me how proud they are. And people I've never met sent me messages on social media to tell me how deeply they were moved by the story of the Kovac family and how my novel filled in some of the missing pieces of their own family histories.

This long, bumpy publishing journey has shown me that I have many reasons to be grateful. I am blessed to have so many wonderful, supportive people in my life. Having Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash out in the world is just icing on the cake!

I love seeing photos of Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash on Instagram! Take a picture of my book in your part of the world and tag me at @authortammypasterick.

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