Monday, May 22, 2017

Musing Monday - May 22


Musing Monday is hosted by Ambrosia at The Purple Booker It is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

I’m currently reading…
Up next I think I’ll read…
I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
I can’t wait to get a copy of…
I wish I could read ___, but…
I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK'S RANDOM QUESTION: Not posted yet

Happy Monday! It was a nice weekend around here. The weather allowed me to work out in the yard and it was a productive working Sunday in real estate. Other than that I've been trying to get back into a blogging schedule. I truly miss it.

Here are a few book reviews I've posted lately

Organizing for Your Lifestyle
Food Junkies
The Joyful Business Planner
Creating a Life Worth Living, Volume 1


I will also be posting my review of Annie's Recipe by Lisa Jones Baker this week.






Three young Amish women, each gifted with a hand-carved hope chest, find that one by one, with patience and faith, their most blessed dreams for the future can come true...

Annie Mast and Levi Miller were best friends until his father was shunned by the church. Now, ten years later, Levi has returned to Arthur, Illinois, for a brief visit, and he and Annie discover their bond is as strong as ever. Spending as much time together as possible, Annie finds herself dreaming of a future with Levi. And Levi is soon dreaming of building a home on a beautiful local hillside--to live in with Annie. Yet their longings are unlikely to become reality...

Levi is part of the English world, and while Annie cannot see herself there, she knows she must reveal her heart's truth to him. And Levi, strongly reminded of his Amish roots, knows he must heal the bitterness of the past. And together, with love on their side, they just may find their way to an answered prayer...

I just started reading...






Somewhere in the Embers Lies the Truth

A fire blazes out of control in the San Luis Valley of Colorado, leaving an elderly Amish bachelor dead. Bishop Henry Lapp rushes to the scene, and he learns the fire was no accident. Someone intended to kill Vernon Frey. But who would want to kill Vernon? Well, practically everyone—Amish and Englisch alike.

When the police point the finger at a suspect Henry knows is innocent, the bishop must decide whether or not to use his mysterious, God-given gift—one he's tried desperately to ignore all these years—to try and set the record straight. His close friend and neighbor, Emma, encourages Henry to follow God's leading.

Could the clue to solving the case be locked somewhere deep in his memory? Will Henry find the courage to move forward in faith and put the right person behind bars? Is his friendship with Emma becoming something more?

What the Bishop Saw is a story of extraordinary talents, the bonds of love and friendship, and the unfailing grace of God.

As a light rain takes over the morning I wish you a wonderful week. Hope you'll share what you're reading.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Book Review: The Joyful Business Planner by Kate Martin

Where has this business planner been for the past three decades of my life? The Joyful Business Planner by Kate Martin is unlike anything you've probably seen before--which is why the author says she put it together.

Broken down into five sections--Business Overview, Marketing, Yearly Tracking, Calendars, and Wish Lists and Aspirations--this planner has the systems to get you organized and on track to meet your goals.

What I love about this book (everything really, but...):
  • It's less than 100 pages (perfect for busy small business owners like me);
  • It is short on narration and long on helpful templates to put the right systems in place;
  • There is one sheet that is a look at your current year at a glance that you can complete and hang in your office to stay focused;
  • One chapter focuses solely on social media marketing (including blogging);
I could go on and on about The Joyful Business Planner, but in the end all I need to say is this: if you are a small business owner, The Joyful Business Planner is an essential tool for success. 

Paperback: 92 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 13, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1539141810
ISBN-13: 978-1539141815

I received a digital copy of this book from the author through Pump Up Your Book. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Book Review: Food Junkies by Vera Tarman and Phil Werdell and Read by Lisa Bunting


This is one of the most fascinating books I've ever read. Food Junkies: The Truth about Food Addiction by Vera Tarman and Phil Werdell and Read by Lisa Bunting is an in-depth look into food addiction with accounts from struggling addicts, a look into the shame of the addiction, and offers practical advice for people struggling with problems of overeating, binge eating, anorexia, and bulimia.

As someone who has struggled to eat healthy, Food Junkies was an eye-opening read. Learning about a variety of addictions and also how our bodies interact with what we eat is certainly helpful. Even when you know the health concerns, it isn't always easy not to over-indulge. Imagine how much more difficult it must be to cope with a food addiction and the shame that can come with it. There are stories of addiction in this book that will be tough to read, but if they help someone it will be worth it.

Audible doesn't always work well with my device, so I purchased the Kindle version. I did, however, download the audio version on my PC and thought Bunting's tone and inflection good for this topic.

If you're dealing with food addiction or know someone who is, Food Junkies is definitely worth reading; though I think it's a fascinating read for anyone interested in food and your body.


Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 8 hours and 20 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press
Audible.com Release Date: July 7, 2016
Language: English

I received an audio version of this book from the authors through Goddess Fish Promotions. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Book Review: Creating A Life Worth Living Volume 1 by Debbie N. Goldberg

If you're looking to start on the journey of self-discovery, Creating A Life Worth Living Volume 1 by Debbie N. Goldberg can be a resource for you. As a therapist for close to two decades, Goldberg helps others along their spiritual journey. In this first volume, she shares her own awakening and then provides the framework for the reader to begin their own journey.

The author shares insights on the importance of reflection and discovering for yourself your purpose in life--not what someone else has told you it is; the importance of spending quiet time and pulling away from the chaos of life; and how we truly are self-sufficient. She has a soothing, conversational style that is perfect for this type of book.

If New Age spirituality is of interest to you, Creating A Life Worth Living Volume 1 should be added to your reading list.


Paperback: 156 pages
Publisher: BalboaPress (September 27, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1504358791
ISBN-13: 978-1504358798

I received a copy of this book from the author through Pump Up Your Book. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Book Spotlight: Creating Stories by Hank Quense

My recently published Creating Stories has everything I’ve leaned about writing stories over the last twenty years.  Below is an extract on setting.




BOOK EXCERPT

Setting can do much more than describe the backdrop for the story.  It should convey and define the time period and customs of the characters.  It can set up the reader's expectations about the type of story he is about to read.  It can start the reader's image-building process.
Consider your characters acting out the story on a stage.  Behind the characters, instead of the scenery typical with plays, there is nothing but white panels.  The people who paid money to see the play would be dismayed by the lack of scenery, so too your readers will not like it if your story doesn't have the appropriate setting to back up the characters.
As with the plot and other story development elements, the setting must dovetail with the overall story design.  As an example, a Medieval setting won't work if the bad guy uses an automatic pistol (unless the bad guy is also a time traveler).  Thus the setting places limits on what the author can do and can't do, so it's best if the author has the setting developed before the work gets too far along.
The setting used in your story has to be accurate.  Don't try to set a story in Manhattan's Central Park if you haven't been there.  Likewise, the French Quarter in New Orleans is unique and shouldn't be used by anyone who hasn't walked the narrow streets.
Here is an example of what can happen.  I've lived and worked all my life around New York City.  The Hudson River is over a mile wide here and the East River is nearly a half-mile wide.  If you haven't been to Dublin, you may assume the Liffey River, which runs through that city, would be of similar size.  It isn't.  The Liffey is rather small compared to the rivers around Manhattan.  Making the Liffey a wide river will destroy your credibility with those readers who have seen the Liffey. 
On the other hand, if you develop an imaginary location, you can make the city's river as wide as you want.  Similarly, if you use a backdrop of a historical period in the distant past, none of your readers will have been there, but you'll still have to do research to get the setting accurate. You can't use St. Paul's Cathedral with its great dome in London right after William the Conquerer became king of England.  St Paul's wasn't built yet.
The setting of the story should be conveyed early to the reader, the earlier the better.  Ideally, the opening paragraph in a short story or the first few pages in a longer work should give an indication of the type of story the reader is about to encounter.  Is it a mystery set in Victorian London?  Is it a story of survival set in war-torn Iraq?  Are those vicious aliens on their way to Earth?  The reader expects and has a right to know this stuff as early as possible.  Don't disappoint the reader.  She may put the book down and never open it again.
An effect of establishing the setting is the placing of limitations on the author and the characters.  For the author, a space ship means he shouldn't have the characters using swords and landline phones since these artifacts are from bygone eras.
Your characters are also limited.  A character in the Old West can't have knowledge of computers or smart phones, unless he's a time-traveler.
If you write a story that uses weapons from a different era or knowledge not available at that time, you’d better have a good reason why it makes sense.  You don't have to convince yourself, you have to convince the reader.
~ ~ ~


Praise for Creating Stories by Hank Quense

Mary Blowers: author and blogger
Hank Quense has penned a masterpiece in Creating Stories.
~ ~ ~
Joylene Butler: Author of Matowak Women Who Cries:
This book is a true treasure and needs to be in the library of every writer worldwide.
~ ~ ~
Mark Cain, best-selling satirist, author of the CIRCLES IN HELL series
Developing a method for writing a successful story -- a system that can be understood and utilized by another writer -- is an intimidating challenge, yet Hank Quense has managed it. There are other ways to approach story writing, but none likely are better or more understandable than Quense's methodology. Creating Stories is highly recommended as a how-to guide for the novice writer and as a reminder of best practices for the experienced author.
~ ~ ~
Mark Henderson: British author of Cruel and Unusual Punnishments
Hank doesn't purport to tell reader how to produce creative ideas, but offers guidance on how to turn those ideas into readable fiction.
I recommend Creating Stories unreservedly to fiction writers everywhere.
~ ~ ~
Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite: 5 stars
For the wannabe writer who doesn't know where to start, this is the book for you.
A good story must be told with care and this requires consideration and planning on the part of the author. The whole point of writing a story is to capture the attention of readers. Hank helps novice and experienced writers perfect their writing and tell a good story.





Hank Quense writes humorous and satiric scifi and fantasy stories. He also writes about fiction writing and self-publishing. He has published 18 books and 50 short stories along with a few dozen articles. He often lectures on fiction writing and publishing and has a series of guides covering the basics on each subject. He is currently working on a series of two humorous novels that take place in the Camelot era.

He and his wife, Pat, usually vacation in another galaxy or parallel universe. They also time travel occasionally when Hank is searching for new story ideas.

Social media links:

Hank's blog: http://hanquense.com/wp
Strange Worlds website: http://strangeworldspublishing.com/wp
Follow him on twitter: http://twitter.com/hanque99
Facebook fan pages: https://www.facebook.com/StrangeWorldsOnline

Monday, May 15, 2017

Interview with Daniel A. Blum, Author of The Feet Say Run


Daniel A. Blum grew up in New York, attended Brandeis University and currently lives outside of Boston with his family. His first novel Lisa33 was published by Viking in 2003. He has been featured in Poets and Writers magazine, Publisher’s Weekly and most recently, interviewed in Psychology Today.

Daniel writes a humor blog, The Rotting Post, that has developed a loyal following.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:


WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK


Where did you grow up?

I hail from the exotic hinterlands of Long Island, New York.

My father is a pscyhoanalyst and my mother is a psychologist. If that does not drive one to distraction, and a bit of reflection, I don’t know what would. I currently live outside Boston with my family.

When did you begin writing?

I tried writing in high school, but those efforts have thankfully been lost to the ravages of time.

My first passably decent piece of writing was actually letter I wrote to in college to a girl who I was interested in. It was a long, rambling, comic description of a train ride I was on, and it was something of an “aha” moment about how to inject life and wit into descriptions of the everyday world around you. Thinking back, it is not really surprising that my best early bit of prose was born of an effort to impress a girl. The good news is, the letter itself was definitely a success with its target audience. Unfortunately, the ensuing love affair was rather less successful. It lasted all of a month. Yet my love affair with the written word is still going strong.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

I have no particular pattern. I am neither nocturnal nor diurnal. I’m an omnivorous reader and a restless scavenger as a writer.

What is this book about?

The Feet Say Run is not an easy book to describe or classify. It’s really the story of the twentieth century told through a single, long, extraordinary life. The narrator, Hans, is an eighty-five year old castaway, reflecting on his past.

Hans grows up in Nazi Germany and falls in love with Jewish girl. He fights for the Germans on two continents, watches the Reich collapse spectacularly into occupation and starvation, and marries his former governess. After the war he goes on wildflower expeditions in the Alps, marries a Brazilian chambermaid in order to receive a kidney from her, and keeps reliving his war experiences. There are many, many interwoven stories.

I think of it as a literary novel that is also a page-turner - full of comedy and tragedy and suspense.

What inspired you to write it?


I wanted to the kind of novel I most like reading. I read mostly literary fiction, but I often find the stories way too slow, lacking in passion and humor and life. I wanted to write something that was gripping and hard to put down, that hit the reader on an emotional level, but also had beautiful prose.

As a Jewish writer I also became interested in the German experience of the Nazi era, and how little that story had been told. The more I read, the more universal I felt the story was. We used to learn that caricature of Nazi Germany peopled by killer robots, people entirely unlike us. It was a comforting sort of myth, but a myth nonetheless. So I wanted to tell it in a way that made it real and human and understandable.

Who is your biggest supporter?

I have a number of regular readers and supporters, and have been through a few different agents. My wife is both an avid supporter and an exacting critic – but that has driven me to be a better writer. But for this book my biggest supporter has been my publisher, Gabriel’s Horn Press, who really fell in love with it and pushed to see it in print.

Are you a member of a critique group? If no, who provides feedback on your work?

I am not. I have tried that experience and find giving and receiving criticism – the hidden competitiveness, the false-praise, even the the cliquish little subgroups within the group – to be extremely uncomfortable.

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?

It was more a roller-coaster ride than a road.

This is actually my second novel. My first novel was Lisa33, which was published by Viking over a decade ago. I actually went from a long string of rejections to having publishers suddenly in a bidding war for my novel. That was quite surreal. In the end, for reasons I still don’t fully understand, the book was not promoted at all by the publisher. They took a financial bath on it, and I soon returned to obscurity. Ironically, my agent, who had assured me I would be famous, later came out with his own memoir and found fame with it.

For years after that experience I ceased writing fiction entirely and even reading it. Yet one day I found myself working again, crafting this new story, and before I knew it I was in deep and – as they say in a military campaign – the only way out was forward. When The Feet Say Run was completed, I had few connections left in the publishing world. But I had posted a few poems to a public website, and my publisher had read an admired them there. She emailed me and asked what else I wrote, and I sent her the manuscript.

In a way I feel I am one of the few writer to be “discovered” twice.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Amazon and  Barnes and Noble. We may be getting it into bookstores but for now it is online.



Monday, May 8, 2017

Musing Monday - May 8


Musing Monday is hosted by Ambrosia at The Purple Booker It is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

I’m currently reading…
Up next I think I’ll read…
I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
I can’t wait to get a copy of…
I wish I could read ___, but…
I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK'S RANDOM QUESTION: Do you like to read when you are feeling under the weather?

Happy Monday! It seems like forever since I was able to participate in this meme. Without going into too much detail, we were traveling through a valley for a period of time and blogging was the last thing on my mind. Thankfully, God has seen us through and we appear to be on the uphill climb.

I've been trying to sneak a bit of reading in. My review of A Mother's Love by Charlotte Hubbard appeared here on April 28. I have a couple more reviews to post as well. I'm now reading Annie's Recipe by Lisa Jones Baker.



Annie Mast and Levi Miller were best friends until his father was shunned by the church. Now, ten years later, Levi has returned to Arthur, Illinois, for a brief visit, and he and Annie discover their bond is as strong as ever. Spending as much time together as possible, Annie finds herself dreaming of a future with Levi. And Levi is soon dreaming of building a home on a beautiful local hillside—to live in with Annie. Yet their longings are unlikely to become reality…

Levi is part of the English world, and while Annie cannot see herself there, she knows she must reveal her heart’s truth to him. And Levi, strongly reminded of his Amish roots, knows he must heal the bitterness of the past. And together, with love on their side, they just may find their way to an answered prayer…

As for this week's random question: I tend not to get sick too often, but when I do it's usually so awful sleeping is all I can accomplish. When I am on the mend, but still not top notch, I'll definitely squeeze some reading in.

How about you? Do you read when you're under the weather? Speaking of weather, over the next seven days at least five of them will have rain up here. Hope your weather will be a bit sunnier. Enjoy the rest of the week.