Friday, June 27, 2008

Outer Banks Here We Come

The Book Connection will be taking a break as our family travels down to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to enjoy the sand, the beach, and fireworks over the water. We'll be back online on July 7th.

I hope all our readers have a happy, healthy, and safe Indepedence Day!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What Your Mother Never Told You by Richard Dudum--Book Review

This is a warning that the review you are about to read is not my typical review. Every once in a while you read a book that is so powerful and touches you in such a way that you must talk about it in that fashion.

Such is the case with What Your Mother Never Told You: A Survival Guide for Teenage Girls by Richard M. Dudum.

When I began reading this book I kept thinking, "Gee, all this advice sounds like common sense. Why would anyone want to buy it?" But I'm a month shy of 40 years old, of course it all seems like common sense to me; I've already lived through it.

As soon as I got to the section titled How to Handle Yourself, however, everything changed. Suddenly, I was no longer a wife and mother with all my wordly experiences. I was back in high school trying to fit in, struggling to figure out who I was while dealing with the loss of my mother who died of cancer my freshman year. I had no confidence, no idea what I should or shouldn't be doing, and no one to guide me into adulthood because my father and I rarely spoke.

What a difference this book would have made in my life had it only been available back then!

What Your Mother Never Told You teaches young women about the importance of self-respect, removing themselves from situations they have no business being in, and how to get out if they happen to find themselves in one of those sticky situations. It talks about sex, drugs, alcohol, boys, personal safety, Internet safety, and many other topics that young women must know about in order to survive and thrive in today's world.

Dudum should be applauded for his dead-on, practical advice that he shares in a direct manner that young people will appreciate. There's no hand holding going on here, just a straightforward approach that reaches right to the hearts and minds of young women everywhere.

Also included are five Appendices including links to specific drug details; steps to take if the reader or someone she knows has been assaulted; signs to watch for that will help the reader identify if one of her friends is participating in self-destructive behavior; how to help a friend in need; and the lyrics to a song written by the author's son that summarizes the messages Dudum is trying to impart to the reader.

What Your Mother Never Told You is a must read for every young woman and should be available in school libraries and at your high school's guidance office. I encourage parents and daughters to read it together. I'll be tucking my copy away so that I can share it with my daughters when they are old enough.

These final words come from Page 221 and 222 of What Your Mother Never Told You and sum up my exact thoughts on how I feel as a mother of two girls growing up in a world that is sometimes less than safe:

"I want you to have fun, go to parties, meet boys and girls, dance, laugh, sing, and have a great time. At the same time, I want you to always anticipate and avoid potentially harmful people, places, situations, and the type of fun that can blur your reputation. I want you to always be smart and safe...I want you to be confident, elegant, and hold yourself to the highest standard, a standard that is beyond compare. A standard that YOU can and will always be proud of...I want you to always respect yourself."

Title: What Your Mother Never Told You: A Survival Guide for Teenage Girls
Author: Richard M. Dudum
Publisher: Island Publishing
ISBN-10: 1-4196-7869-8
ISBN-13: 9781419678691
U.S. Price: $14.95

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Sky's Not Falling! by Holly Fretwell--Book Review

Wondering how you can help your kids make sense out of all the information flying around about global warming? The Sky's Not Falling!: Why It's OK to Chill about Global Warming is a good place to start.

The Sky's Not Falling! is a unique and interesting way for your child (age 8-12) to find out more about global warming; what we know, what we're not sure of, and what's important for the future. Filled with "Fun Facts", eye-catching photographs and illustrations, and a few graphs, the reader gets an apolitical journey through time that shares the warming and cooling trends that have occurred for hundreds of thousands of years.

The reader is encouraged to be optimistic about the future by becoming an enviroprenuer (an entrepreneur who works for the environment). The Sky's Not Falling! encourages critical thinking through a variety of exercises that show the impact of individual choices and how you must learn as much as you can and look at the big picture before making a decision.

Fretwell manages to do what is often so difficult: make learning fun! I would highly recommend this book to any parent who would like to provide their child with a greater understanding of global warming. The Sky's Not Falling! also makes a great read for parents.

Title: The Sky's Not Falling!: Why It's OK to Chill about Global Warming
Author: Holly Fretwell
Publisher: World Ahead Publishing
ISBN: 978-0976726944
U.S. Price: $17.95

You can read my interview with Holly Fretwell here.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Tips on Bouncing Back from Karen Salmanshon

No one is exempt from pain. Not even self-help book authors.

In one year, I went through a string of so many bad occurrences, I kept waiitng for a Candid Camera crew to appear from behind the planter in my living room. First, the real estate broker, real estate lawyer, and moving company I hired found sneaky ways to rip me off. Next, a longtime business buddy hired me to package new groovy chocolate bars, then never paid me. But those were nothing compared to the lowest point; a sexual assault by someone I knew as an acquaintance.

I'm sharing these pains with you in order for you to understand that I fully understand how painful and challenging life can be. Thankfully I also understand how with right psychological resiliency tools at your disposal, you can bounce back from a set back -- often even stronger, wiser, happier. Indeed the worst of times often paradoxically can double-duty as the best of times.

Below are three tips from my new book The Bounce Back Book that were most helpful to me in my time of need -- and will hopefully help you cope with whatever you're going through as well.

Tip # 11: If you ask depressing questions, you will 100% get depressing answers.

Are you asking yourself questions that further weigh you down?

"Why didn't I…?" "What if…?" "Why me?"

Would you accept some of the mean and nasty questions you ask yourself if they came from an outside source?

If not, then top and swap them immediately for these questions that bounce you upward:

"What can I do to move forward?" "How can I grow from this challenge?" "What's within my control to change?"

Tip # 15: Find your bounceable people.

According to Aristotle, we humans are biologically social animals and our "first nature" is to be around people. However, I personally discovered that after my trauma, being around people felt much more like my 2,841st nature. It's common to want to hide away, but studies show it's far more healthful to seek support. Surround yourself with understanding people who you can trust and confide in.

Tip # 35: Don't just write a "To Do" list. Write a "To Be" list.

What kind of person will you have to become to get through tough times and snag all you want in life? Make a list of adjectives that will get you where you want to be. Vow to become more of them.

My last word of advice (well, actually four words!) would be to remember what Joseph Campbell once said: "When you're falling, dive."

Enter my Bounce Back contest for a chance to win a free Fairmont Spa vacation! (Yes! A fabulous spa package for 3 days/2 nights for two people -- and 2 personalized spa treatments for each person at Willow Stream Spa in gorgeous Fairmont Newport Beach, California. You will be indulged like never before in one of seven decadent treatment rooms appointed with oversized spa beds!)

Simply buy THE BOUNCE BACK BOOK before July 1st and send me the proof of Amazon receipt to notsalmonstafff(at)notsalmon(dot)com. Then you have until August 1st to send me an uplifting story of glory over a tough time. Submissions should be between 400 and 1200 words and depict your personal tale of "woe" to "wow." Looking forward to hearing about your incredible come-back!!

For more information about The Bounce Back Book Virtual Book Tour, visit

The Bounce Back Book by Karen Salmanshon

In The Bounce Back Book the dynamic author whose quirky self-help books-including How to Make Your Man Behave . . . and How to Be Happy, Dammit-mixes from-the-gut wisdom, humor, feistiness, and sophistication to create a hip, inspiring resource that will brighten the darkest mood. The book is grounded in happiness research, psychological studies, Greek philosophy. And it delivers: Here are 70 easily digestible, potentially life-changing tips on how to bounce back from adversity, each on a spread that's as punchy in look as it is powerful in message.

"Shrink negativity into nuggetivity." "Think of yourself as the type of person the world says yes to." With its attitude, techniques, and advice on everything from exercise to staying connected, it is a full-on guide to moving forward with great positive energy.

Reviews for The Bounce Back Book by Karen Salmansohn

"The thing that Salmansohn does that so few authors do these days is synthesize the best of what the thought leaders are saying and thinking and putting it into succinct little chunks that are rewarding and enlightening to read. And then she adds her own thoughts and feelings into the mix to deliver a powerful, emotional yet entertaining ride into a better me or you. This is without a doubt her best book yet. The chapters are developed intelligently, each one is a breeze to read and the graphics really add to the user experience of this content. The cool red rubber cover is the bomb! Go ahead and buy one for yourself and some more for your friends because we all have something we're bouncing back from these days, right?"-Sherman Sall

"Karen Salmansohn's writing is always bold, playful, insightful - with powerful metaphors that provoke and inspire. Her kinetic graphics amplify her messages and bring her books to a new level of literary experience. She stands out."
--Deepak Chopra

About Karen Salmansohn

Karen Salmansohn is an ex Senior VP ad creative director (at age 26) who left her job to pursue her passion of writing - and is now a best selling author with over 1 million books sold.

Journalists call Salmansohn DEEPAK CHOPRA MEETS CARRIE BRADSHAW because of how she merges empowering psychology and philosophy tips with edgy humor and stylish graphics.

Basically, she creates self help books - for people who would never be caught dead reading self help books. Or self help books you can give as a gift - and not get slapped, because they look kinda cool.
For more information

Guide to Pirate Parenting by Tim Bete--Book Review

Tired of making excuses for your children's behavior? Raise them as pirates and you won't have to.

Cap'n Billy "The Butcher" MacDougall's Guide to Pirate Parenting: Why you should raise your kids as pirates and 101 tips on how to do it is the latest from funny man Tim Bete. Bete's award-winning parenting humor column has appeared in the Christian Science Monitor and more than a dozen parenting magazines.

I had high hopes for this book when I decided to review it and the illustrations alone make the book worth buying. My daughters got a huge kick out of them.

Bete talks of meeting Cap'n Billy and how that turned into this Guide to Pirate Parenting.

With tips and answers to many of the questions you'll have if you want to raise your children as pirates, this book will leave you wondering why you didn't think of this before. Amusing and entertaining, this clever guide will even help you convert your minivan into a pirate schooner. (Come on Dads, you know you want to.)

Cap'n Billy even provides you with the top ten reasons to raise your children as pirates. My favorite:

"When other parents hear you're raising your children as pirates, they'll stop asking you to volunteer at school."

Here are a few other chuckle moments from the book:

* Page 41: "Do you have any recipes for cute pirate birthday cakes with little ships on top?

No, you have this book confused with Martha Stewart Parenting."

* To prevent your children from being teased about carrying a blanket: "Tell your child to sleep with a sword underneath the blanket. Those who tease him will tease him only once." (Page 56)

* Page 109: "My teen pirate doesn't listen to me. What can I do?

...Before you speak to your pirate, make sure he is looking you in the eye. Then hit your pirate in the head with an oar. This won't help your pirate hear, but it will make you feel a lot better."

This book might not provide any practical parenting advice, but it certainly provides laughs and lighthearted ways to look at the difficult chore of parenting.

Cap'n Billy "The Butcher" MacDougall's Guide to Pirate Parenting: Why you should raise your kids as pirates and 101 tips on how to do it is a clever and funny book that makes a great gift for any parent or parent-to-be.

Title: Cap'n Billy "The Butcher" MacDougall's Guide to Pirate Parenting: Why you should raise your kids as pirates and 101 tips on how to do it
Author: Tim Bete
Publisher: Cold Tree Press
ISBN: 978-1-58385-127-2
U.S. Price: $10.95

This virtual book tour has been brought to you by:

Friday, June 20, 2008

Linda Merlino and Belly of the Whale

When I read the synopsis of Belly of the Whale, I couldn't help but be intrigued.

"Hudson Catalina has given up. Having lost both breasts to cancer, she is emotionally and physically exhausted, no longer willing to endure the nausea and crushing weakness that chemotherapy causes, until the wrecked-by-life young Buddy Baker arrives, bent on murder. A touching story of despair, abuse, murder and survival takes you on a journey through the darkest places of the human mind and spirit, and in the end leads you back out of “the belly of the whale” enriched by the experience."

This story idea touched me personally. My mother died of cancer when I was only 14, and I've often wondered if the two years she suffered after her mastectomy left her hoping it would soon end. My mind wandered to what kind of research Linda would have to do to portray Hudson's experiences as a woman battling cancer. This is what I've asked her to write about for you today.

My research for Belly of the Whale took place over the span of about a year. It was the first year of "writing" the story. That year I collected information more than I wrote. The idea was in my head and not so much on paper. I was concerned for authentic emotions and correct therapies. I did not want to write a book about cancer, but I had to be accurate nonetheless.

I resourced through magazine articles, newspapers, online articles and "talking" to doctors and breast cancer victims. I was focused on how a young woman with a family history of breast cancer would handle a diagnosis and subsequent treatment. I wanted to find out about caregivers and especially spouses. From all I garnered it was repeated over and over that the compassionate, supportive spouse was a key factor in recovery and in acceptance of what might happen.

Lastly I took myself into her head, after all, I created Hudson Catalina, I could get into her mind. The story is very emotional...that was deliberate. I was very careful of mis-speaking on a subject that I had not experienced; other than being a "driver" for friends to chemotherapy and my mother's surviving breast cancer, I had no brushes with the beast. I tried to use the emotional thread that is in all of us,which is that hope binds us to the planet, that hope connects us to life, hope is the lifeline; the umbilical cord.

You can find Linda on the web at and at MySpace.

Belly of the Whale is available at and from Kunati Book Publishers.

The BELLY OF THE WHALE VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on June 1, 2008 and continue all month long. If you would like to follow Linda's tour in progress, visit in June. Leave a comment at any of her blog stops and become eligible to win a free copy of her book! One lucky winner will be announced on her tour page at June 30!

This virtual book tour has been brought to you by:

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Interview at Blogcritics

To celebrate the release of her new book, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing, Mayra Calvani interviewed several book reviewers at Blogcritics.

I was honored that Mayra asked to interview me. You'll find our interview posted here.

You can find out more about Mayra Calvani and her books at And don't forget to check out her Slippery Book Review Blog.

Here is an interview I performed with Mayra for her horror novel, Dark Lullaby

I also reviewed Dark Lullaby and Mayra's children's book Crash!

Look for my review of The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing COMING SOON!!!

Maybe We Are Flamingos by Safari Sue Thurman--Book Review

If you are looking for a charming, delightful story for your youngster, then you'll find it in Maybe We Are Flamingos.

Flora and Fernando are concerned because they don't look like the rest of their flock. Maybe they really aren't pink flamingos after all. But some thoughtful words from Mum assure them they will turn pink in about a year and stay pink because of the food they eat--which leaves these young birds much relieved and happy enough to draw a few pictures of what they might look like if they ate pineapples and watermelons.

Thurman has created a wonderful and humorous story with Maybe We Are Flamingos. Kids will love reading how Flora and Fernando go from scared and unsure to happy and silly. Thurman's gift of imagination shines through brilliantly when Flora and Fernando draw pictures of what they might look like if their diets were a bit different.

Kudos go out to Kevin Scott Collier for bringing this charming story to life with his beautiful illustrations. I was already a fan of Collier's work prior to this book, and he doesn't disappoint the reader this time around either.

My daughters, ages 6 and 4, absolutely loved Maybe We Are Flamingos and have asked for it to be read over and over again. They've also had great fun making up their own stories to match the illustrations--a true sign that this book has touched their hearts.

Maybe We Are Flamingos is a must have for every young reader!

Title: Maybe We Are Flamingos
Author: Safari Sue Thurman
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-1-933090-98-6
U.S. Price: $10.95

Read my March 2008 interview with Sue Thurman here. For another book illustrated by Kevin Collier, go here.

Financial Security for Your Teen with The 3 Secret Pillars of Wealth by James Burns

My son graduated from high school three years ago, and I found that while we did a fair job of saving for his college education, he wasn't prepared to begin making sound financial decisions to secure his future. I'm not even sure where I would have begun to teach him what he needed to know. So, when I heard tax attorney and author, James Burns was on tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion, I knew this is the topic I wanted him to cover with our our readers.

Here's what James had to say when I asked him to draft a guest article on ways that high school students could (with parental assistance) begin implementing the strategies found within his book, The 3 Secret Pillars of Wealth, to allow them to be more financially secure by the age of 25:

All students in high school should get a thorough understanding of how leverage, arbitrage and cash flow works. Cash flow is essential from both a family perspective and running a business as we will see an amazing surge of entrepreneurism. I find so many people do not understand how a mortgage works which may be the biggest debt they take on in their lives and they have to understand all the choices and how they work. Debt management is essential because children will model their family and may pick up improper habits that will get them in financial trouble. Millions of people do not understand how interest on credit cards compound and they can literally pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars in interest charges when they use it. Credit cards were designed originally for travelling salesmen who had business expenses; it was not a passage to ownership on things that you could presently not afford.

At the end of the day, we can give them all those tools and without a formula for success that gets installed in them like a hard drive it may all go for naught. I make it perfectly clear in my book that accumulating wealth is as much a mental state as acting upon that state with any particular asset or strategy. If they practice the Super-5 each day and imbed it like a habit they can reach higher levels of success. The Super-5 starts with:

1. Visualize your wealth,
2. Meditate
3. Affirmations that you deserve and can receive
4. Join a mastermind group (like-minded people)
5. Accountability partner

First they visualize themselves with the wealth in a specific way and uproot negative associations to money. Then meditate on what abundance and gratitude looks like and that they deserve to receive giving up any guilt. They should then use affirmation to continue to plug this into the sub-conscious, join a mastermind group for support with people who are likeminded and then you need your accountability partner, and they can even use this person to form positive study habits. This starts by meeting weekly with the partner and then discussing with one another what you plan to commit to for the week and then get together the following week to check on each other and serve a feedback sandwich.

Here's more about The 3 Secret Pillars of Wealth:

The evidence is now clear that the old formula of go to school, get a job, buy a house and retire no longer works. Retirees need more reliance in a ruthless and unpredictable future with many new curves in the road to retirement. The US Department of Health and Human Services says that 36% percent of sixty-five year olds are still working, 54% are dependent (require family or government assistance), five percent are deceased, 4% are financially dependent (with at least $3,000 per month to live on) and one percent are wealthy.

In answer to the statistics of only 1% of retirees achieving wealth upon retirement, the book The 3 Secret Pillars of Wealth has come to the aid of concerned retirees. The author cautions readers that we are facing financial times unlike anything we've seen before and we cannot afford to make mistakes or be taken advantage of.

The 3 Secret Pillars of Wealth is a virtual survivor’s manual for the investor informing them of what they face in the future that is new and unpredictable and how much investing is costing them with traditional investment vehicles. Forward-thinking financial planners will avail themselves of the technical information outlined in The 3 Secret Pillars of Wealth, while the average investor will have a roadmap that guides them to financial success. One of many recent books to go against the grain and inform the public how much investing is costing them and how they are in a losing battle where executives of the big investment firms take $52 million dollar Christmas bonuses. The book is ultimately written for entrepreneurs and investors who are busy with life or lack financial education and are defenseless targets by opportunists abusing the financial planning system because of the compensation grids unique to the U.S.

Go to the 3 Pillars of Wealth website to find out more.

THE 3 SECRET PILLARS OF WEALTH VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on June 1, 2008 and continue all month long. If you would like to follow James's tour in progress, visit in June. Leave a comment at any of his blog stops and become eligible to win a free copy at the end of his tour! One lucky winner will be announced on his tour page on June 30!

This virtual book tour has been brought to you by:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Raising Up Mommy by Heidi Hess Saxton--Book Review

This review will be different than the others you'll find here because I reached for this book when I truly needed it. Heidi Hess Saxton toured with Pump Up Your Book Promotion in May. A review of her book, Behold Your Mother: Mary Stories and Reflections from a Catholic Convert appears here. Heidi sent me Raising Up Mommy: Virtues for Difficult Mothering Moments as a gift and I tucked it in my TBR pile--which is always threatening to topple over from the sheer number of books stacked on top of each other.

As parents, I believe we all suffer through moments of self-doubt. This past Sunday was Father's Day. After getting four hours of sleep, I crawled out of bed and began getting me and my girls ready for church. Services were followed by a trip to McDonald's for lunch and the rest of the time was spent trying to make it a relaxing day for my husband and entertaining the kids, while attempting to complete household chores. By 9:30 PM I was ready for some down time, but my daughter couldn't sleep. To say that I was less than sympathetic would be a major understatement. I still had several things to do--which included frosting cupcakes to bring into school the next morning--and I wanted the kids out of my hair so that I could get my work done and jump into bed before 2:00 AM.

I told my daughter that she had to stay in her bed and try to sleep. After she called me several more times and an exasperated and angry reply came her way, I told her she could read for a few minutes. Eventually she drifted off to sleep and I breathed a sigh of relief...until she woke for a second time, claiming she had a belly ache. Once again, my state of exhaustion and the late hour left me more concered with getting my work done than in coddling my child. After several terse moments, I agreed to rub her belly and again she drifted off to sleep. In the hours that followed, as I struggled in a distracted state to complete my work, I knew that I was an uncaring, insensitive mother who failed to put her child's needs ahead of her own.

Turning off the power on my laptop, I reached for Raising Up Mommy and shut the light off in my office. I brewed a cup of tea and slid into a bath of steamy water to ease the tension.

Heidi's words touched my heart as she shared what it was like to become an instant mommy to her foster children. It changed her life, and admittedly, Heidi wasn't always prepared for the demands her new role placed upon her. The "Mommy Monster" came out and she struggled with a way to tame it.

Raising Up Mommy--which is part of the Women of Grace Life Guide Series--puts you back in control by giving you "Action Steps" to move towards taming your "Mommy Monster". Heidi helps you find ways to relieve stress and to spot your "Mommy Monster" by exploring the seven "deadly sins". You'll find out more about womanly virtues and what they mean to your life as a mother.

Filled with Scripture, self-tests, and questions to reflect upon and discuss, Raising Up Mommy will help you identify where your "Mommy Monster" comes from and tame it with "Action Steps" that bring you to a better place; a place that will find you feeling better just knowing that you aren't the only mother who has struggled like this.

I highly recommend Raising Up Mommy: Virtues for Difficult Mothering Moments to every woman entrusted with caring for and nurturing children.

Title: Raising Up Mommy: Virtues for Difficult Mothering Moments
Author: Heidi Hess Saxton
Publisher: Simon Peter Press
ISBN-10: 0-9777430-2-0
ISBN-13: 978-0-9777430-2-5
U.S. Price: $8.99

Victoria Wells on Creating Sensuality in A Special Summer

Our guest blogger today is multicultural romance author, Victoria Wells. Her novel A Special Summer came out earlier this year.

About the Book:

In love with the man of her dreams, Summer Jackson is living her life in sheer bliss…so she thought. Devastation rocks her world when handsome Nick Stiles walks out on her, leaving her to pick up the shattered pieces.

As days, weeks, and months fade into the future, Summer is forced to push thoughts of loving Nick far from her heart and her mind. Thoughts that may possibly threaten to expose the secret she’s hiding.

Out of the blue Nick resurfaces with intentions of reclaiming Summer as his woman. That is…until he is confronted with a betrayal that is so insurmountable he finds himself in a blind rage, hell-bent on revenge.

Will Summer’s need to protect her secret destroy any hope she has of being in the arms of the only man she’s ever loved? Is Nick willing to forgive Summer for her acts of betrayal and deceit? Will this once passion filled love survive such treachery?

Victoria shares with us today how writers can create sensuality in their work. Here's what she has to say:

What is Sensuality? How is sensuality created? When one thinks of sensuality it may be assumed that it’s anything of sexual context. This definition however is contrary to what Webster has to say on the subject. For Webster defines it as being devoted to the pleasure of the senses.

Because sensuality is the hallmark of romance novels, I knew it was imperative for my characters Summer and Nick to possess this trait. In creating this atmosphere between the two, my desire was to have it be of an intimate nature and not one of lust.

Out of all the beautiful women in the room that night, Nick’s sense of sight gravitates him to one particular woman. It was Summer’s aura that had him captivated the entire night solely based on her physical attributes and demure demeanor. Whereas Summer’s senses of touch and smell were assaulted when she literally collides into Nick. Her equilibrium became off kilter when her body experienced foreign sensations as she inhaled Nick’s cologne while enveloped in his intimate embrace.

As an avid reader of romance for several years, I would like to think I’ve developed my own definition of sensuality. It’s that magnetic pull between the hero and heroine that sets them on a their romantic journey. After Nick and Summer’s initial meeting the sensual element of the story is enhanced by Nick’s pursuit of a shy, interested, yet unwilling Summer. The premise of the story is not a rushed romance where the couple has sex and fall in love in three weeks. The reader gets a sense that Summer is wooed and courted by Nick for months before the relationship is taken to that level of intimacy. Attributes of tenderness and patience are what draw the young beauty into his sensual web.

As an African American author writing about African American characters I felt it was my responsibility to portray that, which would appeal to anyone’s sensual nature. It was important to me that my characters demonstrated feelings and emotions that went beyond the physical. My yearning is that anyone who reads A Special Summer comes away with the notion that Summer and Nick feel in love with what they represented as their true selves. What can be more sensual than that?

A Special Summer is available at, Barnes and, and directly from the publisher.

About the author:

Victoria Wells is a Philadelphia native who has been an avid reader since childhood. Wells (Gaye Riddick-Burden) earned a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Nursing from La Salle University. Over her seventeen-year career as a nurse, Wells (Riddick-Burden) has written, lectured, and presented at national conferences extensively on sickle cell disease. Her dedication to caring for patients with this disease earned her the Regional and National 2005 Nursing Spectrum’s Nurse of the Year Nursing Excellence Award in Clinical Care.

Using writing as a tool to escape the hassles and worries of everyday life, Wells decided to pen a novel. In November 2006 she released her self-published debut romance novel, A Special Summer. After receiving positive feedback and believing her story portrayed strong, intelligent, self-sufficient African American characters dealing with and working through relationship issues, Wells decided to submit her manuscript for traditional publishing. In August 2007, Xpress Yourself Publishing made an offer to re-release A Special Summer, March 4, 2008.

Wells works as an adult nurse practitioner. She is married and the proud mom of three children.You can visit Victoria's website at or her blog at

A SPECIAL SUMMER VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on June 1, 2008 and continue all month long. If you would like to follow Victoria's tour in progress, visit in June. Leave a comment at any of her blog stops and become eligible to win a free copy of her book! One lucky winner will be announced at her tour page on June 30!

This virtual book tour has been brought to you by:

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mrs. Lieutenant and Phyllis Zimbler Miller

I am pleased to introduce Phyllis Zimbler Miller, author of Mrs. Lieutenant: A Sharon Gold Novel. Phyllis is a former Mrs. Lieutenant and lives with her husband in Los Angeles.

Welcome to The Book Connection, Phyllis. It’s an honor to have you with us.

Please tell us a bit about yourself. How long have you been writing? How many books have you authored and in which genres?

I’ve been writing ever since I was little. I’m the co-author of the Jewish holiday book SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION, which came out in 1992, and there’s now a second edition. I’m working on a teen success guide, and, of course, there’s MRS. LIEUTENANT. So I’m interested in both fiction and non-fiction.

Who is your biggest source of inspiration?

I don’t have a who as much as a what as a source of inspiration. I like to tell stories, to entertain, but in the background there’s always an element of teaching. In MRS. LIEUTENANT I wanted to preserve a specific time in women’s social history.

What is your writing schedule like? Do you write every day? Are you a morning or late night writer?

I write whenever I get the time. I prefer mornings, but that’s when I exercise if my business partner and exercise partner picks me up to go to the gym.

Tell us about Mrs. Lieutenant.

It’s a story told from the point of view of four women who meet at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, in the spring of 1970 when their officer husbands are training on tanks. These very different women are thrown together and must learn to get along with each other. Because it’s either be friends with these women who are so different or be really lonely.

So, this story is about your life and the lives of three other women you met solely because you were military wives during Vietnam?

Yes, the story is about our lives and the book’s characters are based on women I met, but each fictional character has pieces of different people.

Why did you decide to fictionalize this story instead of writing it as a memoir?

Even so many years after the events in 1970 I felt I had to protect the identities of the women I knew. And, of course, I had more leeway to make up events as well as change around events. For example, one subplot in the book in connection with Kim was really something I learned about when my husband and I were later stationed in Munich, Germany.

What were some of the challenges you faced during the time your husbands were fighting in Vietnam?

This first novel deals with the period before the women’s husbands are sent to Vietnam. So at this point they are only dealing with the fear of the future.

This is part of a series of books. Do you know how many books you are planning?

I’m planning on two more.

What can you tell us about the next novel in this series?

The next is MRS. LIEUTENANT IN EUROPE, which deals with living in Germany only 25 years after the end of World War II. The third, which I think of as MS. LIEUTENANT IN CIVILIAN LIFE, deals with the return of Sharon Gold to civilian life and the reverse adjustments that she experiences.

Where can readers purchase Mrs. Lieutenant: A Sharon Gold Novel?

On Amazon.

Do you have a website where readers can find out more?

Yes, has the first four chapters, book group discussion guidelines, original 1970 army documents, information on organizations that support military families today, and a link to my Mrs. Lieutenant blog.

Is there anything you would like to add?

I’m hoping that readers will be entertained by the book as well as either remember or learn about that particular period of time right after the ‘60s when the women’s movement was just starting to happen.

Thank you for joining us today, Phyllis. It has been wonderful speaking with you. Best of luck with your writing!

The MRS. LIEUTENANT VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on June 1, 2008 and continue all month long. If you would like to follow Phyllis' tour in progress, visit in June. Leave a comment at any of her blog stops and become eligible to win a free copy of her book! One lucky winner will be announced at her tour page on June 30!

This virtual book tour has been brought to you by:

Beneath a Buried House by Bob Avey--Book Review

If you enjoy unusual mysteries with multiple twists and turns, then check out Bob Avey's latest novel, Beneath a Buried House.

Tulsa Police Detective Kenny Elliot has a keen sense for the unusual. The death of a John Doe from an overdose seems like an easy case--to everyone except Elliot. He's sure there is more to it than meets the eye. His mission to discover the truth finds him deceived at every turn and makes him the target of an unknown danger.

In this second book of Avey's Detective Elliot series I found much to enjoy. The characters are well-developed and complex; the plot thickens as the list of potential suspects increases; and I never expected the ending.

I haven't read the first book in this series, Twisted Perception, but now I'm more curious than ever to see where Elliot got his start and how he solved his first case.

This book started off a bit slow because it is told from several points of view. The reader is introduced to eight characters who play a significant role in the book within the first six chapters and there is also a reference to a person from Elliot's past that plays a role in forming Elliot's relationship with women. But at a certain point the story picks up as the clues come together and Beneath a Buried House becomes a real page-turner. I couldn't put it down until I finished the last page.

My only disappointment is that Avey ignored an important event towards the end that intefered with how the rest of the story played out. No matter how I tried to get around it, I couldn't, and it spoiled what could have been a perfect ending.

Beneath a Buried House is a thrilling, suspenseful mystery that will have you waiting to see what case Elliot has to solve next.

Title: Beneath a Buried House
Author: Bob Avey
Publisher: Deadly Niche Press
ISBN: 978-0-937660-81-2
U.S. Price: $17.95

The Well-Fed Self-Publisher by Peter Bowerman--Book Review

The Well-Fed Self-Publisher: How to Turn One Book into a Full-Time Living by Peter Bowerman is a writer's best friend. Whether you're just getting ready to consider your publishing options or you've been published in the past, this book will provide you with helpful information, tips, and links to move your career forward.

Follow Bowerman's experience as he shares everything you need to know about self-publishing; the differences between self-publishing, POD, and traditional publishing; how to develop a "marketing mindset"; and how to parlay one book into multiple income streams.

This and so much more is awaiting you in The Well-Fed Self-Publisher: How to turn One Book into a Full-Time Living!

I could not believe the amount of information that Bowerman packed into this book. In less than 300 pages I feel I have what it takes to make a move towards publication. Not only has Bowerman put together a strong argument for choosing self-publishing over traditional publishing, he puts the reader in control by providing her with the options--including links to his recommended resources--that she needs to create a book that turns heads; ways to effectively market that book; and ideas on how to use the book as a springboard for other lucrative business ventures.

If you have a desire to succeed as a full-time writer, then you must read The Well-Fed Self-Publisher!

Title: The Well-Fed Self-Publisher: How to turn One Book into a Full-Time Living
Author: Peter Bowerman
Publisher: Fanove Publishing
ISBN-13: 978-0-9670598-6-0
ISBN-10: 0-9670598-6-0
U.S. Price: $19.95

This virtual book tour has bben brought to you by:

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Mariposa by Candis Coffee

I'm always curious when I come across a story told in first person. Why did the author choose to write the story from that point of view? What challenges did the author face using this point of view? And how did she overcome them?

Candis Coffee, author of Mariposa, answers these questions for us today:

A novel written in first person has an old-fashioned quality and a touch of formality. “I would like to tell you my story.” The reader is expected to be attentive, if for no other reason, at first, than to be polite. “Here you are, now please sit down and listen.” The book has been opened, and the author is speaking directly to the reader. If the first page is compelling, then the reader wishes to go on, to learn about this invisible narrator who is communicating with her.

Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, and John Fowles' The Magus, influenced my decision to use this point of view in my first novel. The narrator must be quite interesting immediately, or the first person point of view becomes flat, and the book will quickly be closed forever. Because my book is a historical novel, set in 1920s and 1930s West Texas, Los Angeles, and Mexico, this more old-fashioned POV suited it.

The challenge of using this POV lay in distancing myself from the main character. She had to have her own life. She wasn't me, but I did become Annarose. I saw the world through her eyes, and I felt her life as she lived it. I, as my main character, Annarose, told “my” story to the reader. To use this POV is to immerse oneself in the world of the narrator, and this can be as close to entering another universe as is possible without the use of drugs.

Here's more about Mariposa:

A spiritual, intellectual, brave young woman creates the life of her dreams, only to be deeply disappointed by its inability to sustain her.

As a child in West Texas, Annarose sees life and intelligence in everything. She finds herself in a relationship with an invisible “Presence,” which beckons to her spirit and with whom she feels most alive. A friendship with a Mexican boy and her love of the landscape also nurture this young girl who feels rejected by her Mother.

Annarose is deeply hurt when she is banished to Los Angeles at thirteen. She loses her connection to spirit, then begins to seek it again through intellectual pursuits. Here she finds herself in a waiting room between worlds, that of Texas and Mexico.

Her philosophical studies and supportive friendship with Estelle, a gifted musician, lead to an awakening for Annarose. She becomes a writer, and she travels to Mexico. She wants to feel life again. She meets Mexican muralist, Crisanto and chooses him as her lover. He is her connection to all that is beautiful, wild, free and happy because he is the “Other” and she feels that she can also find aspects of the maternal within him. She befriends the artist, Frida Kahlo. She embraces all that this man, his people and his country represent.

In the end, Annarose returns to West Texas alone, ready to give birth to their child. Over a period of three days, she spends time with her family, and she recalls her experiences. She finds peace, and she finally comprehends the true nature of joy.

Candis C. Coffee grew up in West Texas where her family has lived since 1848 when they immigrated from Ireland. The house in Mariposa is based on the 150-year-old home of her grandparents on the banks of the Concho River in San Angelo.

Candis spent nearly fifteen years in Santa Monica, California, where she was employed as a writer for various organizations. She later moved to New Orleans where she helped Chef Paul Prudhomme write the cookbook of his dreams and titled it Fork in the Road. Candis longed for the desert, however, which inspired a move to Santa Fe and graduate school at the University of New Mexico. She has since returned to her birthplace in West Texas where she currently resides.

After receiving a BA in Literature from the University of Texas, she pursued graduate studies in Creative Writing, Literature, and Spanish. She is presently at work on a children's book and is pursuing a doctoral degree in alternative health care and the healing arts.

You can visit her website at

Mariposa is available at, Barnes and, other online retailers and at your local bookstore. You may also purchase Mariposa directly from Behler Publications

The MARIPOSA VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on June 1, 2008 and continue all month long. If you would like to follow Candis' tour in progress, visit in June. Leave a comment at any of her blog stops and become eligible to win a free copy at the end of her tour! One lucky winner will be announced at her tour page on June 30!

This virtual book tour has been brought to you by:

Butterfly image from

Thursday, June 12, 2008

From Crayons to Condoms: The Ugly Truth about America's Public Schools by Steve Baldwin and Karen Holgate


The American public school system, once the envy of the world, is now a sinkhole of political correctness, ineptitude and violence, yet its administrators demand - and receive - far more funding per child than do higher performing private and religious schools.

In From Crayons to Condoms: The Ugly Truth about America's Public Schools, you'll experience today's public schools as never before, through the voices of parents, students and dedicated teachers left stranded in the system, the same voices that school administrators are determined to stifle.

Lavishly armed with your tax dollars, government at every level encourages mass social experimentation on our kids - success optional. In From Crayons to Condoms, you'll discover...

* The lesbian gym teacher who hands out a paper called "101 Ways To Do It Without Going All The Way" in every class.
* The "Inventive Spelling" curriculum which demands of parents that they "avoid giving in to our natural desire to correct the mistakes" because it's "harmful to the children"
* The required courses in "death education" that actually encourage teen depression and suicide.
* The math classes in which students are told to write down how they "feel" about math opposed to learning fractions, algebra and multiplication tables.

Today's public schools are not just rife with bizarre, inaccurate textbooks and failed teaching practices - they encourage classroom activities that produce dangerous, even deadly, results.

Can our schools be saved? Yes, say the authors, but only if parents are ready to fight for their children every step of the way. The stories in From Crayons to Condoms: The Ugly Truth about America's Public Schools are sure to horrify and energize anyone concerned about today's kids, and our nation's future.

As Chairman of the California State Assembly Education Committee, Steven Baldwin initiated a series of hearings that demonstrated how fads, failed methodologies and political correctness have devastated the California public school system, the nation's largest - and one of the worst.

The co-author of "The Real Secret War," Mr. Baldwin has appeared on numerous talk shows including Larry King Live, and has written articles published in the Regent University Law Review, Washington Times and Human Events. Mr. Baldwin is currently the Executive Director of the Council for National Policy (CNP).

Karen Holgate became an educational activist after joining the fight against hardcore pornography. During public speaking engagements, she began hearing from parents concerned about the sex education curricula being promoted in the public school system.

Mrs. Holgate's articles and policy reports have appeared in publications including the Congressional Quarterly, Investors Business Daily, the Washington Times, and Insight Magazine. She has been interviewed by local and national radio shows, and has appeared on CBS, NBC and Fox news shows.

What are some of the steps parents can take to stop the brainwashing going on in our school systems and what can be done immediately to counteract the effects of the brainwashing kids are getting in our public school systems? Here's what the authors have to say:

The parents need to organize a parents group which would have the ability to monitor what is going on at the school. No, I'm not referring to the PTA, a group which was co-opted by the education establishment decades ago. I'm referring to a real parents group that would meet regularly, get its members on school committees, attend all school board meetings, review textbooks and maintain an informational website that other parents can access. Such a group would go far toward getting rid of some of the more outrageous abuses we have found in the schools.

If a parent is not willing to do this, then they need to consider pulling their child out of the public school system. As for the brainwashing, well, the best thing to do is to speak to your child about the controversial issues and make sure they are not getting a version that is clearly one-sided. For example, I speak to my boys about the health hazards of the homosexual lifestyle and the long history of violence by Muslims, both subjects they will not likely hear in their public schools.

The FROM CRAYONS TO CONDOMS VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on June 1, 2008 and continue all month long. If you would like to follow Steven and Karen's tour in progress, visit in June. Leave a comment at any of their blog stops and become eligible to win a free copy at the end of their tour! One lucky winner will be announced on their tour page on June 30!

This virtual book tour has been brought to you by:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Valentine by Jaimeson Wolf

“According to legend, as early as the fourth century B.C., the Romans engaged in an annual young man’s rite to passage to the god Lupercus. The names of the teenage women were placed in a box and drawn at random by adolescent men; thus, a man was assigned a woman companion for the duration of the year, after which another lottery was staged.

After eight hundred years of this, the early church fathers sought to end this practice and promote monogamy. They found an answer in Valentine, a bishop who had been martyred some two hundred years earlier. According to church tradition, St. Valentine was a priest near Rome in about the year 270 A.D. At that time, the Roman Emperor, Claudius II, had issued an edict forbidding marriage. This was around when the heyday of Roman Empire had almost come to an end.

When Claudius became the emperor, he discerned that married men were more emotionally attached to their families, and thus, would not make good soldiers. So to assure quality soldiers, he banned marriage.

Valentine, a bishop who witnessed the trauma of young lovers, met them in a secret place and joined them in the sacrament of matrimony. Claudius learned of this “friend of lovers,” and had him arrested.”

Emperor Claudius II allowed us a rare audience, which we took full advantage of.

TBC: Emperor, how is it you came to be known as Claudius the Cruel?

CLAUDIUS: Is that what they call me? Claudius the Cruel? Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? I should think that the origion is obvious, however. In order to sieze power, you have to be merciless. So what if I started a few wars that resulted in immense bloodshed. Those wars put Rome ahead of the rest of the world.

TBC: Do you believe that the bloody campaigns you have waged are the reason men hesitate to join your military leagues?

CLAUDIUS: Not at all. I believe they hesitate because they are weak! They do not want to leave their families, their precious wives and children. It has nothing to do with my previous campaigns which, while bloody, were nothing short of glorious.

TBC: Can you tell us, Emperor, why you have banned marriage in Rome?

CLAUDIUS: Haven’t I just told you? Because men are weak! When they’re married or about to get married, they aren’t thinking clearly. The only way to get men to join my military campaigns was to ban all marriages and engagements in Rome. Then the men would not hesitate to join, would not hesitate to leave the person who was no longer their wife. Good idea don’t you think?

TBC: Do you truly feel that this will increase your ranks?

CLAUDIUS: Of course it will! Haven’t you been listening? Or have I been talking to myself? If they do not have wives, they will leave and come to me. It’s so simple, I wonder why I did not think of it before.

TBC: Who is this Valentine fellow? How long have you known him?

CLAUDIUS: He is a thorn in my side, nothing more. A cleric that has decided to meddle in affairs of state and risk his life. He marries people against my decrees! That is unforgivable.

TBC: You have charged him with treason, have you not? What has he done to warrant such a charge?

CLAUDIUS: Have you not been listening? He marries others against my wishes! You disobey me, it is treason. He defies me and continues to get away with marrying others! This is unacceptable!

TBC: At the time that Valentine was sentenced to die, did you know that he was carrying on an affair with your guard, Asterius?

CLAUDIUS: Yes. Yes, I did know this. This displeases me greatly. I had marked Asterius as mine. No matter, this does not change, even if his heart belongs to another. I will have him back, mark my words.

TBC: Does this not prove that dedication to one’s lover is not a barrier that prevents men from serving in your ranks? Has Asterius not served you well?

CLAUDIUS: Who are you to question me? Asterius has indeed served me very well, but that has nothing to do with my decree. They are afraid to fight because their hearts love too much. Without that bond to another, they will fight to the death. It is quite simple, really.

TBC: What did you do when you heard of Valentine’s escape?

CLAUDIUS: What did I do?! I killed twenty men to ease my rage. The fact that he got away angers me beyond anything I have ever felt before. He should have died by my hand, yet he walks? Unacceptable.

TBC: Will you pursue Valentine and his lover?

CLAUDIUS: Yes, I will. They think they are safe from me, but I will find them. Valentine is mine, you mark my words.

TBC: We thank you for this opportunity Emperor. Now, we shall take our leave.

CLAUDIUS: You are most welcome. And remember that my word is law and you will live. Good day to you.

Find Jaimeson Wolf on the web at

Understanding How Imago Relationship Therapy Works by Edythe Denkin

Mirroring is one of the major concepts of Imago Relationship Therapy, and is extremely helpful in developing a deeper, more understanding commuication between couples. Feeling heard and understood by your partner is a basic necessity for keeping your love new, refreshed, and constantly growing. It is definitely a major path towards deep understanding communication.

The other major concepts of Imago Relationship Therapy include summarizing, and empathizing. They can best be seen in the relationship between Princess Cinda and Prince James described in the book, "Relationship Magic". They are shared in detail while the story demonstrates how these concepts helped bring love, respect, and warmth back into the couple's relationship after it was on the brink of divorce.

Mirroring is exactly what the name implies, it is a way for you to let your partner know that you have listened to them and that you understand them. It opens the lines of communication by breaking down the barriers to communication, such as being defensive and/or taking things personally. Let me explain that in more detail.

Many times when our partner expresses their needs, wants or opinions to us we have the tendency to perceive their expression as an "attack", a criticism or a judgment. These are unconscious reactions that are related to our unresolved childhood wounds. We have been taught that expression of one's feelings is intended to harm us in some way. As you can imagine, when we are taught this, our reaction to expression is one of defensiveness in order to protect ourselves and our egos.

As adults, we have to teach ourselves that expression is not intended to harm but to help. It is designed to promote change, compromise and understanding. The first step in this process is to practice mirroring.

For example, if your partner says to you "When you talk to me in a demeaning tone, I feel like I am a child again getting scorned by my father". Rather than unconsciously reacting by getting defensive and saying "I don't talk to you in a demeaning tone" or "You talk to me like I am a child also", you can mirror your partner by saying "I listened to what you said and what I heard was that when I talk to you in a demeaning tone, you feel as though you are getting scorned by your father like you did when you were a child. Is that correct?" Your partner can then respond by affirming or by correcting you. If you have heard it wrong, you continue to mirror until your partner affirms that what you have said is correct. The dialogue can then continue without defensiveness and with an understanding of your role in the issue as well as your partner's role.

Can you see how mirroring can help you to truly understand what your partner is trying to express to you? Practice this in your mind and notice how you feel less defensive, notice how you feel more open and focused, more in the moment. You are dealing with the issue at hand, the current feelings and state of mind, not reliving the past or predicting the future.

Practice mirroring with your partner, your friends, your children and see the difference. Feel free to email me if you have any questions and I will do my best to help you. I can be reached through my website.

You can find out more about Imago Relationship Therapy in Edythe's new book, Relationship Magic that is available at

The RELATIONSHIP MAGIC VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on June 1, 2008 and continue all month long. If you would like to follow Edythe's tour in progress, visit in June. Leave a comment at any of her blog stops and become eligible to win a free copy of her book! One lucky winner will be announced at her tour page on June 30!

This virtual book tour has been brought to you by:

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Karen White and The Memory of Water

Synopsis: On the night their mother drowns trying to ride out a storm in a sailboat, sisters Marnie and Diana Maitland discover there is more than one kind of death. There is the death of innocence, of love, and of hope. Each sister harbors a secret about what really happened that night—secrets that will erode their lives as they grow into adulthood.

After ten years of silence between the sisters, Marnie is called back to the South Carolina Lowcountry by Diana’s ex-husband, Quinn. His son has returned from a sailing trip with his emotionally unstable mother, and he is deeply disturbed and refusing to speak. In order to help the traumatized boy, Marnie must reopen old wounds and bring the darkest memories of their past to the surface. While resisting her growing attraction to Quinn, she must also confront Diana, before they all go under.

When I went out to Karen's website I noticed that all her books are set in the south and that many of them are by the water. As someone who visits the Outer Banks of North Carolina every year, this aspect of her work fascinated me and I had to ask why she chose these settings and what type of research she performed. I also asked her to share with us her favorite spot on the east coast.

I call what I write ‘grit lit’—Southern Women’s Fiction. I write about the South and people my stories with characters who are uniquely Southern. The reason why I choose to write Southern fiction probably has a lot to do with the old adage of ‘write what you know.’ Both of my parents are from Mississippi (my father from the Gulf Coast and my mother from the Delta). My fondest memories of my childhood are from my visits to my grandmother’s house in Indianola, Mississippi. It was the only time I was ever allowed to go barefoot! I’d stay up late at night with my cousins as we listened to my grandmother, my mother and her four sisters talk about people they knew, and things they had lived through, and all the scandals and ill-fated romantic entanglements of people they knew or had once known. All of those stories stayed with me. Even now when I write, I hear the accents of my aunts and grandmother, telling stories around her kitchen table.

My attachment to the Atlantic coast started as a simple question of proximity. I’ve never lived west of the Mississippi and actually spent my middle and high school years in London, England. But after I was married and had children, we settled in Atlanta, Georgia, about a 5 to 6 hour drive to the Georgia and South Carolina coasts.

Our first trip to the Lowcountry was to Hilton Head, South Carolina. I remember seeing the marsh for the first time and having the oddest thought that I had somehow come home. I think from that moment on, I’ve been planning the house I will one day have overlooking the marsh. There is something ethereal and eternal about the Lowcountry; it can’t be named, only sensed through sight and smell. Although writing a book is never easy, when I’m setting a book in the Lowcountry, creating the setting comes very naturally to me.

One of the most enjoyable things about being a writer is visiting the setting of a book to get a real idea of what the book’s characters experience on a day-to-day basis. I don’t plan to set my books in ideal vacation spots, it just sort of works out that way! I do try to visit every location. Even my fictional locations are based on real spots, and I can’t imagine a better way of describing a setting than to actually be there.

For The Memory of Water, I did more than just visit McClellanville, South Carolina where the story is set. Since the main characters are avid sailors, I realized early on in the writing of the book that I needed to know more about sailboats and sailing—a tough thing since I’d never been within 50 feet of a sailboat before starting the book!

In addition to reading a lot on the subject, I ended up taking sailing lessons. I can honestly say that I could never be a sailor, but at least I learned more about what makes sailing such a passion for sailors, and for my characters.

Picking a favorite spot is a bit like asking me to pick a favorite child! It’s hard to pick just one but I’d say right now it would be Pawleys Island. Known to locals as ‘shabby chic’, this strip of land between the Atlantic and the marsh and dotted with million dollar shacks is packed with as much history as ambience. It also has its own ghost (the ‘Grey Man’) which is why I selected this location for my 2005 novel, The Color of Light.

But every year we try someplace new, so wait and see where I decide to set my next book to determine what my ‘new’ favorite place is!

THE MEMORY OF WATER VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on June 1, 2008 and continue all month long. If you would like to follow Karen's tour in progress, visit in June. Leave a comment at any of her blog stops and become eligible to win a free copy at the end of her tour! One lucky winner will be announced on her tour page on June 30!

This virtual book tour has been brought to you by:

Friday, June 6, 2008

Tips for Writing Romance by LaConnie Taylor-Jones

Aspiring authors and newly published authors, welcome to the wonderful world of romance!

Whether you’ve written one chapter or finished a completed manuscript, you’re to be commended on your efforts. The road to publication is long, hard, and bumpy. However, you’ll make it with a little talent and a ton of determination.

Hopefully, these tips will assist you on your journey to publication:


Writing is not for the faint at heart and the competition is fierce. Tenacity and perseverance will become your two best friends.


Writing is a craft. In order to master this craft, there are some fundamental techniques you’ll need to learn. There are a number of on-line writing courses that teach a wide range of topics and are fairly reasonable. So, sign up today!


For an aspiring author or newly published author, having a veteran author as a mentor can greatly benefit your career. Tremendous insights can be learned from this mentorship over a short period of time, which normally could take years to learn, otherwise.


Being connected with others who have the same interest and goals you have will not only keep you motivated to write, but will also keep you abreast of the latest industry trends.


Not only are various sessions on a variety of topics offered, it’s an excellent chance to network with industry professionals such as agents, editors, and published authors.

Good luck and no matter what, keep writing!!

LaConnie Taylor-Jones is the author of When I'm With You, which won the Romance Slam Jam 2008 Emma Award for debut novel and When A Man Loves A Woman.

The WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on June 1, 2008 and continue all month long. If you would like to follow LaConnie's tour in progress, visit in June. Leave a comment at any of her blog stops and become eligible to win a free copy of her book! One lucky winner will be announced at her tour page on June 30!

This virtual book tour has been brought to you by:

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

STAND--a Memoir by Debbie Williamson

Over the past month I've gotten the chance to learn a lot about Debbie Williamson, author of STAND. In STAND, one courageous woman shatters the chains of abuse that bound her family for generations and dares to brave the crippling memories of sexual abuse; shatter the illusions of denial; reveal her family's bitter legacy of violence; reach for healing and wholeness, and take her place on a path to forgiveness and peace. Replacing shame with hope, fear with truth, and shadows with light, Debbie Williamson shares her arduous journey to wellness.

I asked Debbie to share some of the challenges she faced in deciding to share her life with others. Here's what she had to say:

"When I started writing this book it was intended to be more of a journal to make sure my children understood the family history and who I was. I wanted them to know because I have always believed that the truth can heal you. Putting my life in print for the world to read came after three years of journaling my experiences into pages that were meant to be only for my children. When I made the decision to publish it I had reached the four year mark journaling. It was after relentless visions and one very special message from my grandmother during an illness that I made my decision to write a book and leave my mark on this world. I struggled with the question, why would anyone care about my life and my experiences? I also struggled with knowing on some level my family was not going to be thrilled for the world to have an insight into their personal life.

I had a belief and a message from the other side that my story might not only help my children, but maybe it could help other people lost in their own pain. I thought if I could get people to understand that you can heal from abuse instead of being a survivor, that it would change the fight against abuse. I have always known it starts with yourself, and healing you first is the only way you can protect it from spreading to your children. I stayed focused on this belief. It was something I knew I had to do.

I also was not overjoyed with walking through my past once again, to relive moments that will always be very painful, let alone try to put them on paper. The beautiful part about healing is that every time you walk through your past and the pain it gets easier and the healing grows.

One of the more difficult parts of sharing my personal life was that it was not just my life I was sharing. It was also my children’s lives and their father’s life as well. I had been through so much with my children that I often wondered if sharing my life and my feelings about their father would destroy the love they had for me. I could not bear to think about life without them so I stayed focused on the message and trusted that they would understand why I had to write my story. The message I had to bring was bigger than me and my fears.

The most difficult part of the journey was struggling with my mother’s fears of shame and disgrace. She had never come to terms with her life and was in no way ready to share it with the world. It took a lot of explaining to get her to understand that I had good reasons to write the book and that I had to make my mark on this world in the fight against abuse. She fought abuse in her way, and this was mine. My mother’s change of heart came when I told her grandma had come to see me. She said she had been waiting for her mother to send a message letting her know she was ok. She agreed to do the book with me and offered her journals for her family’s history and hers. When I was to the point of adding mom’s story to the book she passed away and all I had were her writings and things she had shared with me in counseling. It took me months to read through her journals and I almost gave up during the research process on my family’s history. It was not an easy task and the emotional part of it was almost overwhelming.

Mom’s passing was so very difficult for me. I had wanted her to heal her broken heart before she left this world, but it wasn’t meant to be. The last time I spoke with her she made me promise that I would not give up, that I would finish the book and share our story with the world. She said she had prayed about my reasons for wanting to write the book and the answers she received were the same as mine: just do it. Not having her there by my side made it even more challenging; I questioned my motives and everything that I believed from that moment on. I kept my focus close to my heart right along with the promise I made to my mother, and somehow I finished.

I have never felt such a strong presence from the other side as I did in the last five months of writing. I knew that my grandmother and my father were with me the entire time. I hired a ghostwriter to help me interview my aunt for the information on my grandfather. She told me several times during the interview process that my father’s presence was so powerful she was having a difficult time concentrating. I was taken aback for a moment when she described his looks to me. She had never seen a picture of my dad, but her description was right on. It was comforting to know that she was a witness to my miracle.

The first time I held an actual printed copy of my book was very emotional. I sat in my office for hours and cried. I felt like I did after the life training program I had gone through, only it was much more powerful. I knew that somehow I would leave a mark on my generation that would be felt generations after I am gone. I knew that my message would be heard. I had followed the burning desire in my heart to make a difference and change the future for my children with the hopes of changing the future of someone else’s children as well.

I am grateful that I stayed on course and kept my focus.

I believe with all my heart that my message will find its own path. Sharing my life was the only way I could use the wrong that had been done in a positive way. My life has been a series of miracles, it's how I chose to use these miracles that matters.

I was told when my journey to heal started that forgiveness would heal my life, and along with it, my family. I had never understood forgiveness until I found the courage in me to try it.

Forgiveness is not about your abuser. It is about you giving the pain that owns you back to the person who hurt you."

The STAND VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on June 1, 2008 and continue all month long. If you would like to follow Debbie's tour in progress, visit in June. Leave a comment at any of her blog stops and become eligible to win a free copy of her book! One lucky winner will be announced at her tour page on June 30!

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