Wednesday, December 31, 2008

It's Time to Say....

It's the last day of 2008. Here's to looking forward and never, ever looking back!

Happy New Year everyone!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Looking Forward to 2009

We're edging ever closer to the new year, so I thought I would let you know what I am looking forward to in 2009.

I have some interesting books to review in the first half of 2009:

Messiah Interviews by Jerry Pollock

My Father, My Don by Tony Napoli

The Clare series by Yvonne Prinz

The Devil's Darning Needle by Ben Furman

In addition, authors Tristi Pinkston, Kathi Macias, and Beverly Stowe McClure have books coming out in 2009 that I will most likely review.

On a more personal note, I submitted my first children's picture book manuscript to a publisher this month. I'm excited and nervous. With this first submission, I will be looking forward to focusing on more of my own writing in 2009. But fear not, there are still wonderful things planned for The Book Connection.

If you would be interested in becoming a reviewer for The Book Connection, please drop me a line. You can find my email address in my profile. I'll also continue to host authors through Pump Up Your Book Promotion and other virtual book tours companies, and my time management and organization articles will continue to appear at the Writer2Writer website.

Wishing everyone a happy, heathly, and prosperous New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Books I Wish I Never Read

As a book reviewer, I have the choice of my reading material. But in my younger years I was forced to read books I never would have willingly chosen, and there are times when I think back to those years and wonder how I ever developed such a love for reading after enduring such titles as these:

* Lord of the Flies by William Golding - This book tops my list of books I wish I never read. Forced to stomach this material as a freshman in high school, I honestly could never understand why people think this book is so great. Even though TIME Magazine declared in 2005 that this book was one of the 10 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present, I found Lord of the Flies to be the stuff that nightmares are made of and it's certainly a reader's nightmare.

* The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - Another title that is popular high school reading material, I spent most of the time totally confused as I tried to figure out what was really going on. Daisy grates on my nerves, people are happily sleeping with people who aren't their spouses, and the utter decadence portrayed in this novel would make me keep it away from my children until they turned 25. I must have been 14 or 15 when I read it and I am still pondering why I needed to.

* Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Raleigh - I wonder if the passing of time would make me enjoy this book any more. Honestly, when I attempted to read this, it was the worst time in my life: my mother had cancer and by this point we knew she was dying, so reading was not high on my list. My European History teacher could not quite understand my lack of desire, however, and I failed most of the tests for Ivanhoe. Though I might try reading this one again, it remains right now a book I could find absolutely no interest in.

* All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque was another title my European History teacher foisted upon us. Paul Baumer, is the narrator of this story about Paul and his classmates, who enlist in the German Army during World War I and experience all the insanities of war. This is another title that I might enjoy more as an adult than when I read it as a 14-year-old girl, but World War I has never been my favorite time period to read about, so I'm not sure my feelings would change. But this author is worthy of admiration since he is a veteran and his experiences must have influenced the writing of the book.

Feel free to share your comments on these books or any others you might have read that didn't live up to your expectations.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Rebel in Blue Jeans by Beverly Stowe McClure--Book Review

Rebel's life is in turmoil. Her mother ran off with a drummer, leaving her father distraught and distracted; her friend Will seems to be wanting more than just friendship, and an older guy has taken a sudden interest in her. What should she do?

Young adult readers, especially those who love animals will find many things to appreciate in Rebel in Blue Jeans by Beverly Stowe McClure.

When Rebel's mother decides to take off with Bo, a drummer in a rock band, she feels unwanted and alone. What is so exciting about city life anyway? Rebel trudges through the days on the ranch with the help of her best friends, Will and Sully, and spends a great deal of time talking with her animals to help relieve her frustrations. And while she's not sure exactly how she feels about Rick, she's caught off guard when Will seems to be wanting more than friendship from her.

When her mother calls and wants Rebel to come visit Bo and her for the summer, Rebel is determined to hate him and convince her mother to come back home. Can Rebel bring her family back together? And if she can ever believe in love again, is it Will or Rick who will capture her heart?

This is a quick and easy read, but it's certainly not short on conflict. McClure has woven together an interesting plot and a strong and complex heroine to create a story that will be enjoyed by young adults everywhere.

Tackling the difficult subjects of separation and divorce, the desire young people have to see their parents reunited, making decisions regarding boys, and finding your way in an uncertain world, Rebel in Blue Jeans provides readers with a heroine they will love for her spunk and get frustrated with over her stubbornness.

Rebel in Blue Jeans is an inspiring and entertaining read that would make a great gift for your teen reader...whether she's a rebel or not.

Title: Rebel in Blue Jeans
Author: Beverly Stowe McClure
Publisher: Twilight Times Books
ISBN: 1-9333353-49-X
Suggested Retail Price: $14.95

My Favorite Books from 2008!

This year at The Book Connection I read close to one hundred titles in a variety of genres. Here is a list of some of my favorites from this year:


* Shades of Gray: A Novel of the Civil War in Virginia by Jessica James**

* The House on Tradd Street by Karen White

* The Santa Letters by Stacy Gooch-Anderson

* Ten Thousand Charms by Allison Pittman

* The Devil Can Wait by Marta Stephens

* The Ultimate Passage by Jean Hackensmith and Kathe Birch

* Mistress of the Revolution by Catherine Delores

* The Lost Diary of Don Juan by Douglas Carlton Abrams

* Season of Sacrifice by Tristi Pinkston

* Up the Devil's Belly by Rhett DeVane


* Beyond Me: Living a You-First Life in a Me-First World by Kathi Macias

* Don't Know Much About Anything Else by Kenneth C. Davis

* CULLOTTA: The Life of a Chicago Criminal, Las Vegas Mobster and Government Witness by Dennis Griffin

* Born Liberal Raised Right by Reb Bradley

* The Fine Print of Self-Publishing, Third Edition by Mark Levine

* The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing by Mayra Calvani and Anne K. Edwards

* The Well-Fed Self-Publisher by Peter Bowerman

* The Dancer Returns by Susan Lee Titus

* The Dog Walked Down the Street by Sal Glynn

* The Sky's Not Falling: Why It's Ok to Chill About Global Warming by Professor Holly Fretwell (children's nonfiction)

Children's fiction

* The Rabbit and the Snowman by Sally O. Lee

* The State of Wilderness by Elysabeth Eldering

* Zooprise Party by Rebekah Delgado

* Rainbow Sheep by Kim Chatel

* Scarecrow Finds A Friend by Blume J. Rifken

* Sam's Quest Book 2: The Royal Trident by Ben Furman

* The Tutu Ballet by Sally O. Lee

* The Giant Leaf by Davy Liu

* You Think It's Easy Being the Tooth Fairy? by Sheri Bell-Rehwoldt

* The Truth (I'm a girl, I'm Smart and I Know Everything!) by Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein

These books are available at

** My favorite book across all genres for 2008!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Year in Review

We will soon be saying goodbye to 2008. This has been a great year at The Book Connection. Through Pump Up Your Book Promotion and other virtual book tours and review requests, we have already logged in 312 entries for 2008.

That's a lot of talk about books!

Tommorow I'll recap some of my favorite books that I read in 2008. And soon we'll look forward to what 2009 will bring for readers of The Book Connection.

Thank you for all your support this year. We greatly appreciate it!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Under My Christmas Tree

This reviewer must have been a very good girl this year because Santa left several wonderful books under the tree.

The Mitford Years Boxed Set, Volumes 4 - 6 by Jan Karon

Silenced Cry by Marta Stephens (I reviewed the second book in this series, The Devil Can Wait, here.

Murder on the Down Low by Pamela Samuels Young

Preaching to the Corpse: An Advice Column Mystery by Roberta Isleib

Looks like I'll be busy reading for a long time.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas from The Book Connection

The Book Connection wishes all our readers a Merry Christmas! Wishing you all a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Shades of Gray by Jessica James--Book Review

A powerful, engaging, and totally captivating novel of the War Between the States awaits you in Shades of Gray: A Novel of the Civil War in Virginia by Jessica James.

Andrew Sinclair is a Union spy and the dreaded foe of Confederate calvary officer Alexander Hunter. Both fighting a war based on honor and conviction--one fighting to keep the Union together, the other to preserve a way of life--they vow to fight to the death.

But there is something about Sinclair that Hunter does not know: he's a woman! And not only a woman, but a woman who is haunted by her past and motivated to fight without concern for her welfare to right past wrongs.

Neither could have imagined how their lives would become entwined. Neither could imagine giving up the fight. And neither could imagine life without the other!

Shades of Gray is without a doubt the finest historical fiction has to offer. Complex characters, an engaging plot, and historical accuracy, come together to make this novel a must read for any fan of historical and Civil War fiction.

It is a rare book that can pull the reader in so deeply that she is overcome with emotion. And yet, as I mentioned here yesterday, I could not contain myself as I read certain passages. A true page-turner, I digested over 400 pages in three days.

A reviewer can be alarmed when she receives a book the size of Shades of Gray (524 pages); what if it is like fingernails across a chalkboard that forces you to cover your ears until the painful screeching stops. This reader can attest that you will not find that in this novel. Every page moves the story forward, and so involved will you be with Andrea and Alex's story that you will be unable to break away from it. Not a page is wasted, not a word should be removed.

James has done her research and she has done it well. From the fashions, to the language, to the sense of honor and duty that fills its pages, Shades of Gray explores the War Between the States in a way that will touch you like no other work of fiction. If anyone seeks to know more about the reasons brother fought brother in a war that threatened the future of a nation, then she should read this book.

All this and more, makes me declare Shades of Gray by Jessica James, the best book I have read this year! Worth every penny, if you only read one book in 2009, make it this one.

Title: Shades of Gray: A Novel of the Civil War in Virginia
Author: Jessica James
Publisher: Patriot Press
ISBN: 978-0-9796000-0-5
Suggested Retail Price: $27.99 (US)

Looking forward to more Christmas Reading

While shopping for Christmas gifts at Christian Book Distributors, I stumbled upon some great book deals, so I picked up a couple of books:

Forever Christmas by Christine Lynxwiler and The Judge Who Stole Christmas by Randy Singer.

Synopsis for Forever Christmas(taken from Kristianna Harrington always dreamed of a Christmas wedding. But after two broken engagements, she's content to forget romance and run her Christmas shop in Jingle Bells, Arkansas. She thinks her biggest fear is making it down the aisle as maid of honor in her best friend's Christmas wedding, with at least one ex-fiance looking on. But when her beloved Jingle Bells is threatened, Kristianna struggles to sort through her jumbled feelings concerning the handsome lawyer hired to change the town name and her childhood sweetheart who has returned just in time to come to her aid. Will her heart discover the truth before both her town and her Christmas spirit is extinguished?

Back cover blurb for The Judge Who Stole Christmas: It starts innocently enough in the town square of Possum, Virginia. But it ends up as a spectacular national scandal: Can a federal judge outlaw Christmas?

Thomas Hammond and his wife play Joseph and Mary in the annual live nativity scene in their hometown. But a federal judge rules the display unconstitutional — and a Christmas showdown ensues. Thomas refuses to abide by the court order…and ends up in jail. From the courtrooms of Virginia to the talk shows of New York City, the battle escalates into a national media spectacle. Caught in the middle is law student Jasmine Woodfaulk — assigned to represent Thomas as part of her school’s legal aid clinic.

Both books are still available at Christian Book Distributors and Singer's book is also available at Lynxwiler's book is listed as out of stock at Amazon.

While I won't get a chance to read these before this Christmas, I hope to enjoy these stories soon.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Historical Fiction Author Jessica James Brings the Civil War in Virginia Alive with Shades of Gray

I don't often speak of a book I'm reading before posting my review, but I must do so in this case because I have been so captured by this book that I must share it with you.

I contacted author Jessica James when I heard about her novel, Shades of Gray: A Novel of the Civil War in Virgina. My fascination with the War between the States, the many fiction and non-fiction titles I've read set around and about the Civil War, and the courses and research I have performed about this time in America's history, led me to believe I would enjoy James's novel.

What I could not have known, was that this book would draw me in so fully that I want to spend every waking moment reading it. I will not share the details of the scene that prompted me to write this post, but as you can imagine, during a war where loyalties were decided that split apart families and friends, there is a tremendous amount of tragedy involved.

As I sat in the tub last night reading, as I always do, the pages became blurry and I was brought to tears over this particular scene. A tragedy of great proportions that has long-reaching effects, literally left me bawling, as if the incident occured to someone I knew.

While I do not know what direction James took Shades of Gray, or how it will end, I certainly hope that her writing remains powerful and touches me deeply.

Monday, December 22, 2008

David S. Grant Explores Life at its Most Jaded with Bleach/Blackout

David S. Grant is the author of the books Corporate Porn (Silverthought Press), Emotionless Souls (Brown Paper Publishing), and The Last Breakfast (Brown Paper Publishing).

Bleach|Blackout (Offense Mechanisms, an imprint of Silverthought Press), a double novel is his latest book. Below is an excerpt from his new book:

Sometimes the heat in Vegas has nothing to do with the temperature.

There are seven of us in all and Stoner is already baked when we meet at the Bellagio. "Dude, it's my party." Chip doesn't have an excuse, already wobbling as he reaches the bar. It's three in the afternoon.

We drink boilermakers and play poker at Bellagio, then play craps at Caesar's until the complimentary shots of Jim Beam are out, smoke crack behind TI, walk through MGM in two minutes, walk back over to TI and drink frozen mixers while smoking Kool cigarettes and commenting on the length of the waitresses' cocktail dresses, rent two Ferraris and drive to Crazy Horse Too, where we drop two grand on strippers (would have dropped four, but we get thrown out when Stoner's friend Jekyll bites Jasmine's nipple), total one of the Ferraris on the way to Olympic Gardens, leave the Ferrari, go into OG's and drop two more grand, eat sliders with mustard at a restaurant called Lucky Burger, and then smoke crack next to the lone Ferrari hidden behind the Lucky Burger dumpster.

After sliders, we hop on a helicopter, take a loop around the city, finally landing near the Stratosphere, where we go to the top and drink Bacardi straight up with a slice of chocolate cake. Leave the chopper and walk to Stardust, drink red wine and smoke cigars and sing karaoke songs. Half an hour before midnight, we go to Circus Circus and take the elevator to the roof, where Chip has arranged for a Cambodian stripper to perform for Stoner. I walk over to the open bar, order a shot of dry gin, and then lean over the side of the roof and watch the city lights as midnight, the New Year, approaches. At midnight, the fireworks begin and I look over at Stoner and see that the Cambodian girl is now performing oral sex on him. Chip walks over and explains that she's only a stripper and that this is normal in her country. I turn back to the lights of the Vegas Strip as they shoot to the sky.

"I know a place just off the Strip that has the best Thai." Chip puts his pipe back into his pocket.

"Cool," someone says and we pile into the Ferrari and within minutes pull up to a two-star hotel and walk up to the second floor, where the Thai prostitutes are waiting for us and then after twenty minutes meet out in the hallway, where we all smoke Kool cigarettes and drink from a warm case of Miller that was left in the hallway by someone. Two guys decide to stay at the hotel with the girls and finish the case of Miller. "Ahaahaa, dude, that was fucking awesome," laughs Stoner as we pile back into the Ferrari and speed back over to the Strip and stop at the Paradise Club, where the strippers are doing a shower scene on stage and Chip works out a deal to get Stoner up on the stage, but he looks too stoned to remember and spends the whole time laughing hysterically. After the shower, the girls take Stoner backstage, where more laughter is heard, and a bill for one thousand dollars is handed to Chip. When Stoner comes out, he goes over to Chip and whispers something into his ear. Chip gets up and goes backstage, Stoner walks over to me and I'm high and I ask him if his soon-to-be bride knows what's going on tonight and he tells me that it doesn't matter because he's only marrying her for her trust fund and that when she finds out the wedding may be worse than Kill Bill. Chip returns with a smile on his face and says, "You're right, it was worth a thousand." At Perfect 10, I get lap dances from girls named Saw and Ginger, but my second dance is cut short when Chip interrupts and says we have to go because they are playing Kanye West music, which is just the same to me because Ginger isn't really into the dance, snorting cocaine while she's grinding on me.

In Bikinis, three rounds of Manhattans are consumed and conversations about both grass skirts and whether or not Mariah Carey is still considered crazy are had. A girl named Anne begins talking with Stoner, but he can't stop laughing so she leaves. The grass skirt conversation carries over when we arrive at Coyote Ugly and begin drinking Old Fashions, even though we ordered gin, and Stoner dances on the bar until we are asked to leave. A joint is smoked inside the House of Blues while waiting for our Sidecars, which we slam in under a minute, and then at Rain, another joint is smoked instead of attempting to get drinks at the overcrowded bar.

Ten minutes later in a club with "Aces" in the name we throw down double shots of dry gin and eat pretzels and then out of our minds all do the funky chicken on the dance floor. In the club we lose two of Stoner's friends and now we're down to three. Chip and I head to the blackjack tables and lose three hundred each and then drink more dry gin and Chip talks two porn stars into doing a show for Stoner, so we all go up to a room and watch the girls perform oral on each other for twenty minutes or so and then go to the Imperial Palace, where the owner knows Chip and lets us openly smoke hash in his lounge. We meet Nicolas Cage and Chip pitches his new reality show idea to him and Nic sounds interested as he sips a Heineken. They embrace and exchange contact information.

Outside of the casino, Chip falls on his face and while Stoner and I are laughing two squatters help him up and then Chip starts talking to them and it turns out they were actors at one point so Chip gives them his card and asks them where's a good place for breakfast and the squatters both point across the street where we see the sign for Denny's.

At some point after plates of sausage and bacon we hook up with a guy named Earl who is driving the Ferrari with Stoner riding shotgun, a girl named Rose on his lap, and Chip passed out with sunglasses on in the back seat. I ask Earl what time it is and he tells me 4:30 a.m. then pulls out his crack pipe and that's the last thing I remember until I wake up the next morning in Los Angeles with a gun barrel stuck in my mouth.

You can find David online at

The BLEACH/BLACKOUT VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on December 1st and end on December 23rd. You can visit David's blog stops at in December to find out more about his latest book!

As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they become available. The winner will be announced by Pump up on December 23rd!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

December Special Feature: On Strike for Christmas by Sheila Robert

For those of you who like your seasonal tales to hold more than a few chuckles, check out On Strike for Christmas, the next book in our month-long spotlight of seasonal books.

A group of small town wives from a knitting club get tired of laboring over elaborate Christmas preparations that their husbands don't appreciate. Their clueless husbands can't have any idea how hard they work. One by one the women of the club decide to go on strike, watching in horror as their husbands try to make Christmas special for their families while the women fight against the urge to interfere.

This is one of the funniest holiday stories I have ever read, which is why it ends up in our favorite tales of the season line up.

You can find my full review of On Strike for Christmas by Sheila Roberts here.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

December Special Feature: A Little House Christmas Volume II

Our next featured book in December dips back into my Laura Ingalls Wilder collection. In 1997, HarperCollins came out with the second volume of A Little House Christmas.

While the first volume concentrated on Christmas time in Wisconsin, Kansas, and along Plum Creek, Volume II starts off by moving east to Malone, New York, where a young Almanzo Wilder is growing up on his father's farm. Farmer Boy, is the only book that Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about her husband's childhood, and it recently led to a new documentary by Dean Butler and Legacy Documentaries. Dean played Almanzo Wilder on the 1970's television show, Little House on the Prairie. For more information about this documentary, please visit my blog Laura's Little Houses or the website for the Wilder Homestead.

Also included in A Little House Christmas Volume II are the Christmas stories from By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, and These Happy Golden Years. The Long Winter has always been my favorite of the Little House books and in this one we get to see Almanzo and Cap Garland portrayed as hereos when they travel sixty miles to find seed wheat so that the town can survive until the trains begin running again in spring.

Once again, Garth Williams's illustrations have been colorized to bring the Little House stories to life in a wonderful way. Both covers for these books are beautiful--not that one would expect less from Garth Williams--but I love the picture of Ma bending down to put the little blue coat with the swan's-down collar and hood on Grace that comes from Laura's telling of Christmas Day and the Boasts' visit in By the Shores of Silver Lake.

A Little House Christmas Volume II will be treasured by any young girl who receives it...and even big girls like me who still love the timeless Little House books.

Friday, December 19, 2008

December Special Feature: A Little House Christmas

In 1995, HarperCollins compiled some of the Christmas stories from the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder into a beautiful large collector's hardcover titled, A Little House Christmas. This book is the next selection for our special featured books in December.

Christmas time in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, on the prairies of Kansas, and along Plum Creek come alive again in this special collection with colored Garth Williams illustrations. The introduction to this book starts off as follows:

"ONCE UPON A TIME, a little girl named Laura Ingalls lived in a little log cabin in the Big Woods of Wisconsin with her Pa, her Ma, her big sister Mary, and her baby sister Carrie. Laura had many adventures as she traveled west across the prairie with her family in their covered wagon..."

Every year new fans are drawn to the Little House books. New generations of children learn about the pioneers through the eyes of a young girl who experienced it. And it is Laura's romantic view of the world that attracts fans to the love and support of family that flows in abundance throughout the Little House books.

Also included in this first of two volumes, are the words and music to "Merry, Merry Christmas!" by Mrs. T. J. Cook.

A Little House Christmas would make an excellent gift for the Laura Ingalls Wilder fan in your life.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

J.L. Miles and Divorcing Dwayne

About Divorcing Dwayne:

Francine Harper’s in the Pickville Springs County Jail facing felony assault charges. Her offense? She shot at her husband, Dwayne, and his lover, Carla, after catching them together— in the very bed her daddy had carved and given to Francine and Dwayne on their wedding day. Even though she hit the bed and missed the lovers, she soon learns she’s committed a felony, and the deputy district attorney—who’s never been fond of her since she jilted his brother—is determined to prosecute her to the fullest extent of the law. On the other hand, Dwayne is a local celebrity, a talented fiddle player with his own bluegrass band, the Rocky Bottom River Boys. Things are looking up for the band, and they have been selected to record the soundtrack for director Frederick Ford Gumbello’s latest film, Oh Mother, Oh Father, Where Art Thou? When Gumbello comes to town to meet the boys, he becomes enamored with the locale and stays to film the movie since Pickville Springs is the perfect setting for the film.

When Francine makes bail, aided by her best friend, Ray Anne Pickles, she discovers that the checking account she shares with Dwayne contains thirty thousand dollars she can’t account for, and she starts worrying about him. Strange things have been going on, and she still loves him. But she fears that he may have gotten involved with the local mob. Soon Francine finds herself in the arms of rising movie star Clay Carson, which is the last straw for Dwayne, who assaults Clay and disappears. When Dwayne can’t be found anywhere, Francine is suspected of foul play and is arrested for his suspected murder. But Francine is determined to find Dwayne, save him from the mob, and solve the mystery—with Ray Anne’s help, of course. In the interim, she discovers inner strengths and regains her dignity. Now the situation with Dwayne—that’s another story.

Now available at!

About the author:

J.L. Miles (Jackie Lee), a resident of Georgia for over thirty years, hails from Wisconsin via South Dakota. She considers herself “a northern girl with a southern heart”. Her paternal grandfather was christened Grant Lee by her great-grandmother in honor of the many fallen soldiers on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Ms. Miles is a former D.I.A.L. Systems Engineer for Baker/Audio Telecom, one of the premier forerunners of voice mail. In addition to systems application, she provided voice tracks for several major companies, including Delta Airlines and Frito-Lay Corporation. A former Miss Racine, Wisconsin, Ms. Miles, made television, print and fashion appearances, and participated in various stage productions, including “Joan of Lorraine”, “The Dark at the Top of the Stairs” and “The Miracle Worker”.

She resides in a suburb of Atlanta with her husband Robert. Her debut novel, the critically acclaimed Roseflower Creek, was Cumberland House Publishing’s lead book when it debuted in hardcover. It is also available in Trade paperback. Earl Hamner, creator of The Waltons called it, “A powerful, extraordinary novel.”
N.Y. Times best-selling author William Diehl wrote: “The lyric prose will thrill you, the story is unforgettable, and the characters will stay with you forever.”

Cold Rock River, the journey of two young women born a century apart, debuted September 2006 in hardcover. N.Y. TIMES best-selling author DOROTHEA BENTON FRANK writes: “Cold Rock River by J. L. Miles is a powerful story of family, love and loss that will keep you up into the wee hours. Absolutely wonderful! Beautifully told and straight from the heart of an exquisitely talented writer.”

Miles latest project is the Dwayne Series, a three-book southern anthology featuring Francine Harper, who is under felony assault charges for shooting at her husband Dwayne and his stripper/lover Carla from the Peel ‘n Squeal. Francine finds her strengths and reclaims her dignity via a trial and many errors. Divorcing Dwayne debuted April, 2008. Dear Dwayne releases April 2009. Dating Dwayne to follow.

When not writing, Miles tours with The Dixie Darlin’s, four nationally published book-writing belles—with a passion for promotion—serving up helpings of down-home humor and warmth. Visit Jacquie Lee online at

The DIVORCING DWAYNE VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on December 1 and end on December 23. You can visit J.L.'s blog stops at in December to find out more about her latest book!

As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they become available. The winner will be announced by Pump Up on December 23rd!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Building Bridges of Communcation between China and the West

Today's guest blogger is Lloyd Lofthouse. Lloyd is the author of My Splendid Concubine. Full of humanity, passion, and moral honesty, My Splendid Concubine is the deeply intimate story of Robert Hart’s loyalty and love for his adopted land and the woman who captured his heart.

Building Bridges of Understanding One Word at a Time
by Lloyd Lofthouse

A friend I’ve known for fifty years complained about my defending China’s claim for Tibet. He said, “Lloyd, why are you defending Communist China. Communism is evil.”

If I’d known what J. William Fulbright had said about ignorance, I would have quoted him. Fulbright said, “I’m sure that President Johnson would never have pursued the war in Vietnam if he’d ever had a Fulbright to Japan, or say Bangkok, or had any feeling for what these people are like and why they acted the way they did. He was completely ignorant.

It is because of the ignorance that Fulbright talks about, that I ended up writing My Splendid Concubine.

Before meeting my wife the summer of 1999, I was as ignorant about China as President Johnson was about Vietnam. As we now know, ignorance comes with a huge price.

Since that first date with my wife, I haven’t stopped learning about China; its culture and people. You see, my wife was born in Shanghai. She grew up in China. She lived through Mao’s Cultural Revolution and spent three years in a labor camp. She wrote about it in her memoir, Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. After Mao died, she came to the United States. Today she is a United States citizen.

For our marriage to work, I had a desire to understand the culture she came from. After my wife introduced me to Robert Hart, I wanted to erase my ignorance. Nine years later, the product of that quest was my novel about the love between Robert Hart and Ayaou.

It seems fitting that the first review for My Splendid Concubine was written by Cool Han, a young Chinese college student in Beijing. I mailed her a copy of the novel soon after the book was published. She wrote for an Internet magazine called She said, “Vast are the oceans between China and the West, cognition and sensibility, history and reality, but author Lloyd Lofthouse is determined to cross them …”

My determination to write My Splendid Concubine was to build a bridge others might cross to learn about China so the same mistake Johnson made in Vietnam would not happen again. I wanted readers unfamiliar with the culture and people of China to see China for what it is and not through the lens of the stereotype the Western media created.

China is the most populous nation in the world with the largest standing army. It is ruled by a one party system called Communism, a name that most American’s grew up to fear and hate. What most in the West don’t know is that since Mao died, the government that rules China today is not the same that we once feared and hated. Today’s China is not ruled by those that caused the deaths of thirty-six million Chinese during the Great Leap Forward and The Cultural Revolution.

I’ve heard that many Americans have no idea what life is like outside of the borders of the United States and don’t care to learn. I don’t believe that. However, to learn about a foreign culture as different as China would require one to live there like Robert Hart did. I’ve been to China numerous times since 1999, and I still have a lot to learn.

What does it take to bridge that vast ocean Cool Han talks about in her review of My Splendid Concubine? Robert Hart answers that question after he falls in love with Ayaou, a Chinese concubine. Because of that love, Hart was motivated to learn about China just like I was after I married my wife. In the end, Robert fell in love with the culture of that alien land, but he never forgot where he came from.

The owner of Bay Books in San Ramon, California said this about My Splendid Concubine, “You do learn a lot about Chinese Culture. Fans of Snowflower and the Secret Fan, Memoirs of a Geisha, Distant Land of My Father, Wild Swans and Peony in Love will enjoy this splendid peek into the history and culture of China.”

Robert Hart, the main character, has been all but forgotten in the West and in China. However, during his time (1835-1911), he was knighted by Queen Victoria and honored by more than a dozen countries including the Vatican for what he accomplished during the fifty-four years he worked there.

Reading My Splendid Concubine goes a long way to explain how a young man that arrived in China from Northern Ireland in 1854, to become an interpreter for the British consulate in Ningpo, left China in 1908 as the Inspector General of Chinese Maritime Customs. When Hart left China, he worked for the Emperor of China. In 1913, that Emperor had a statue of Hart erected on the Bund in Shanghai to honor him.

It’s amazing what happens when one crosses a bridge and leaves ignorance behind. Instead of going to war, Robert Hart worked for peace because of his love for one woman. By the way, it was because of what I learned reading Robert Hart’s letters written in the nineteenth century, that I ended up defending China’s claims regarding Tibet being part of China.

The MY SPLENDID CONCUBINE VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on December 1 and end on January 30. You can visit Lloyd's blog stops at in December and January to find out where he is appearing!

As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they become available. The winner will be announced by Pump Up Your Book Promotion at the end of every month!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

December Special Feature: Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien

Here's a special treat for the holidays that my husband surprised me with a couple of years ago. J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, wrote a letter to his children every year for Christmas. These letters told stories of life at the North Pole and included colored drawings or sketches. Sometimes, the Polar Bear or Ilbereth the Elf would include a note, adding more life and humor to the stories.

Letters from Father Christmas (Houghton Mifflin Company) revised in 1999, includes new letters and pictures never before published. While this book contains only a few examples of Father Christmas's shaky handwriting, almost all of the pictures have been reproduced and the book also includes "the alphabet the Polar Bear devised from the Goblin drawings on the walls of the caves where he was lost."

It is impossible for me to describe the beauty and wonder included within this book's pages. Reproductions of the fronts of envelopes, detailed drawings and sketches, and the actual letters with printed text underneath, work together to create a stunning collector's item. Even if you're not a fan of Tolkien's other work, you'll certainly admire and enjoy Letters from Father Christmas if you are partial to coffee table books surrounding Christmas or are a lover of Christmas books that the entire family can share.

I'm not sure where my husband found this hardcover copy, but it is available online at and there is a paperback version also available. Personally, I think it's better to spend a little extra to get the hardcover because the cover art is beautiful and it makes the book easy to display on a shelf.

Letters from Father Christmas is one book that should be in the home of every person who loves the spirit and magic and Christmas!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Meet Clare--Just in Time for the Holidays!

Author Yvonne Prinz sat down to chat with Clare from her popular young adult novels: Still There, Clare, Not Fair, Clare, and Double-Dare Clare. Now you'll get a chance to meet Clare in time for the holidays.

I caught up with Clare at Starbucks. She was on her way home from a rehearsal for “The Taming Of The Shrew”. She’s playing the part of Katharina.

Yvonne: So you’re an actor now. What’s that like?

Clare: Well, I only discovered that I could act recently when I got the Lady Macbeth part in the school play and now I pretty much want to act all the time. The Katharina part is a challenge but it’s nothing I can’t handle. Before acting I was pretty quiet, I sort of felt like I didn’t know myself very well and now, because I play different people, I finally feel like I know who I really am. It’s invigorating to play other people. I love it.

Yvonne: You think you’ll be an actor as a career?

Clare: Yes, definitely.

Yvonne: It’s pretty unusual isn’t it, to know at thirteen what you’d like to do with the rest of your life?

Clare: What can I say? When you know, you know.

Yvonne: The last time we spoke you were thinking about taking up Tae Kwon Do. Did you do it?

Clare: Yeah, I joined my neighborhood dojang. It’s a pretty intense discipline for someone like me. I have two left feet. Joshua inspires me to stick with it though. My kicks are definitely improving.

Yvonne: Aaah, Joshua. How’s he doing? Is he still away at school?

Clare: Sadly, yes. He E-mailed me a photo of himself standing on a giant rock today. I kissed the screen. I can’t believe how much I love that guy. We’ll probably get married soon and have a swarm of geeky kids.

Yvonne: Really?

Clare: (Snorts) Yeah, right. I’m thirteen.

Yvonne: What about Aunt Rusty? You see much of her these days?

Clare: Sure. She was dead to me for a while back when she was dating my gym teacher, Mr. Bianchini, but then she dumped him so we’re all cool now.

Yvonne: Does she still paint Death and Dying?

Clare: Yup, and murder. Some Rock Star bought one of her paintings and then he told two rock stars and they told two rock stars and you know how that goes so now we can afford to get Indian Food and go to movies when we get together. Plus she can pay the rent.

Yvonne: Are you still babysitting Patience?

Clare: Sometimes, but I have to be pretty desperate for cash.

Yvonne: And your mom? Did she go back to being a lawyer?

Clare: Are you kidding? She’s re-invented the housewife. She bakes banana bread once a week and the rest of the time she goofs off with her friends.

Yvonne: So, tell me, who’s your BFF these days?

Clare: Allison, she’s the best.

Yvonne: What about Elsa?

Clare: Elsa is still in my life. She got me where I am now, she got me to try acting, I’ll always be grateful to her for that but even Elsa thinks we’re getting too old for this now. I mean, I’m almost fourteen. Who has an imaginary friend at fourteen?

Yvonne: Didn’t you say that when you were almost thirteen?

Clare: (laughs) I guess I did, didn’t I?

Yvonne: Do you have any advice for anyone who might be hanging onto an imaginary friend?

Clare: Yeah, don’t let go till you’re ready and you’ll know when that is.

Yvonne: How?

Clare: They’ll tell you.

You can visit Clare online at

Sunday, December 14, 2008

December Special Feature: For the Love of St. Nick

I reviewed For the Love of St. Nick in October. You'll find that review here.

This is the story of a family dealing with the loss of a wife and mother. The father is a Navy Commander, and his family is uprooted when the Commander is transferred to a base in northern Michigan.

Tiger is the oldest boy and also the narrator of the story. His youngest brother Johnny is always sick and going from living in California to northern Michigan during the winter certainly doesn't help matters any. When the Commander is forced to leave prior to Christmas to fulfill his secret mission for the United States Military, the boys pray to St. Nick for their father's safe return.

In addition to the magic of Christmas, I truly enjoyed how the author worked in the details of life in Michigan like the roads after a storm and the winter sports. Those details give the reader the feeling like they are right there in the story alongside Tiger and Johnny.

For the Love of St. Nick by Garasamo Maccagnone has received some excellent reviews--many of which you'll find at I found it be a truly magical, heartfelt tale of the season, and one that I will share with my family time and again to fill our house with the spirit of Christmas.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

December Special Feature: The Santa Letters

If you're looking for an inspiring and heartwarming tale of the season, then look no further than The Santa Letters by Stacy Gooch-Anderson. You'll find my review of this book here. This book touched my heart so much, that I knew it must be included in this month's special features.

The Santa Letters finds Emma Jensen struggling to find hope after the unexpected death of her husband William. She is truly in the depths of despair and can't even pull it together for her children.

But the lives of the Jensen family are forever changed once the Santa letters arrive. And maybe, just maybe, this will help put the entire family on the path to healing.

I have never before been so moved as I was when reading The Santa Letters. And while this book is about finding the true meaning of Christmas, it didn't preach to the reader. It shared lessons that are important, but it did so in a way that allowed the reader to accept those words of wisdom without resentment.

A truly remarkable Christmas story, it could also be read by church groups and would make an excellent book club selection. Tales of the season don't get any better than The Santa Letters!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Why America is seeing an increase in outrageous behavior in children, parents, and politicians by Reb Bradley

Today's guest blogger is Reb Bradley, author of Born Liberal Raised Right: How to Rescue America from Moral Decline--One Family at a Time. In this article, Reb discusses the increased instances of outrageous behavior in children, parents, and politicians.

Why America is seeing an increase in outrageous behavior in children, parents, and politicians--by Reb Bradley

America has a problem -- a HUGE problem.

Since 1960 violent crimes have increased more than 300%. Sexual assault is up 318%, aggravated assault is up 329%, and illegal drug use has increased 400%. In 1950 there were 5 known venereal diseases. An increase in deviant sexual practices has since given us over 50 distinct STD’s. A recent study revealed that 1 in 4 teenage girls has a sexually transmitted infection.

Every day we hear news reports of heinous crimes unheard of 50 years ago. Children murder their playmates, their teachers, and their parents. Teenage mothers abandon their newborn babies in trashcans, students commit carnage on their classmates, and sleaze talk shows turn it into entertainment and receive high ratings.

Our nation is in severe moral decline and our descent is not slowing.

I’d like to point out that I am not a political expert -- I am a parenting specialist. In 1998 I took note of the disintegrating moral fiber of our nation and decided to apply my diagnostic skills to find a cure for what ails our society. Just as I might sit down with a troubled family and trace out the root causes for their condition, I diagnosed our society’s condition and have prescribed a cure.

Some assume that our problems have been caused by underfunded education, by the entertainment industry, by poverty, or lax gun laws. They think our nation's problems can be cured by a government program. However, money, education, and restrictive laws will not solve the problem.

When societies are out-of-control, it is because the individuals in them lack self-control. You see, people steal, cheat, and murder, because they lack the ability to restrain their natural drives. The human heart has always lusted, coveted, and hated, but 50 years ago fewer people acted on their impulses. As individuals they had more self-control than we do. It is the self-control that is missing from the members of our society.

Where does self-control come from? The ability to master our passions does not come from a good education, from having money, or enjoying the freedom to do what one wants. Self-control is a character trait trained into children in the first few years of life. If America is to change, it is parents who must bring it about.

My new book Born Liberal Raised Right is my effort to counsel America.

I am convinced we can turn our nation around in one generation, but it will require that we own our responsibility and get a workable plan. Born Liberal Raised Right provides just that.

Reb Bradley, a retired pastor, has devoted his life to strengthening families. His classic bestseller Child Training Tips has sold thousands of copies to parents anxious to give their children the best start in life. Reb and his wife Beverly live in California, and have taught all six of their children at home.

Look for our review of Born Liberal Raised Right here.

The BORN LIBERAL RAISED RIGHT VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on December 1 and end on December 23. You can visit Reb's blog stops at in December to find out where he is appearing!

As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they become available. The winner will be announced by Pump Up Your Book Promotion at the end of the month!

Born Liberal Raised Right by Reb Bradley--Book Review

Are you tired of hearing of all the crime on our streets lately? Does it make you weary to watch the news or read it online? Are you concerned about the direction America is headed but not quite sure how it got so bad in the first place?

If you answered, yes, to any or all of these questions, then Born Liberal, Raised Right should be the next book you purchase.

In this engaging and informative book, author Reb Bradley discusses how the future of America is threatened by adults "stuck in their 'terrible twos'". Based upon Bradley's personal experience as a pastor and counselor, in addition to a wealth of research, the author provides a sound argument that America's moral decline is the result of overindulgent parents not providing their children with the self-control they need to become successful members of society. Bradley contends that parents who overindulge their children, fix all their problems, and refuse to allow their children to experience the consequences of their actions, foster young people who become adults who feel entitled to have everything they want and cannot accept life's disappointments.

The author states that we are born with certain tendancies: a desire for self-gratification, lack of self-control, and subordination to our emotions. And it is these traits that parents must consistently help their children rein in if they are ever going to escape feelings of entitlement and the desire to always play the victim and avoid blame. Bradley also goes on to state that "magical thinking", unchecked emotion, and an inability to deny yourself anything are traits that are "the very hallmark of liberalism". Misplaced liberal compassion creates problems in America; it doesn't fix them.

Well thought out, easy to read, and captivating, Bradley has penned an excellent book that could make a difference in the future of America. Liberals will probably hate it and conservatives will tout his wisdom, but in the end Bradley is truly believeable as a man who wants to preserve the American family and inspire parents to bring up inspriring and motivational leaders who will move the country to new heights of moral greatness.

Title: Born Liberal, Raised Right
Author: Reb Bradley
Publisher: WND Books
ISBN-10: 1935071009
ISBN-13: 9781935071006
U.S. Price: $25.95

Words to Write By Compiled by Robin Bayne--Book Review

An inspiring, motivational, faith-based read awaits novice and experienced writers in Words to Write By compiled by Robin Bayne.

Broken down into five chapters, Words to Write By provides writers with much needed advice along their writing journey. From words that encourage and motivate, to words that help you persist despite rejections, from advice on publishing and networking, to words on success and sustenance, the reader will find herself going back to this treasure trove of helpful reflections from a variety of well-known authors time and again. With a special final chapter all about writing for Him, Christian writers will surely want to have this book by their side as they stroll along the path of their writing ministry.

Well written, thought provoking, and inspirational, even the cover art begs you to open its pages and soak up its wisdom. While at times a bit preachy, Words to Write By is certainly a gift that many writers would enjoy and benefit from.

Title: Words to Write By
Compiled By: Robin Bayne
Publisher: Mountain View Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-932695-79-3
U.S. Price: $11.50

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Kelly Epperson and The Hairy, Scary French Doctor

Today's guest blogger is Kelly Epperson, author of When Life Stinks, It's Time to Wash the Gym Clothes. I reviewed this title here. Today Kelly will tell us a bit about her life in France.

The Hairy, Scary French Doctor

La Republique de Francais requires medical approval for Americans to live in France. The week of our arrival, we spent hours searching Toulouse for the tiny, back-alley Office des Migrations Internationales. We rang the buzzer to be let in, but it was no place I wanted to be.

A young, pierced gal greeted us (i.e., silently stared, snatched our paperwork, and walked away). A professional-looking woman (lab coat over her cleavage) took us to a desk at the end of a cramped hallway, and asked our names and ages in broken English.

“Healthy?” Yes. Check, check, check, check. “Any operations or problems?” No. Check, check, check, check. “Last medical appointment?” I lied and said last month. She squeezed around us to go ask the doctor if the children needed an x-ray or just the adults. Gulp. I’d read that in France the patient is completely naked for any procedure, be it an x-ray or an exam for a sore throat.

She escorted us into the doctor’s office that consisted of a desk, two chairs and a stark exam table. The doctor was large and greasy with long, dark, wiry curls exploding from his head and arms. He had yellowed teeth and needed a shave. He wore a tight, black shirt and several gold chains.

All four Eppersons visibly shuddered. “No way is this guy touching me,” was the shared thought.

The woman barked, “Anglais!” and left us. The doctor grunted, “Bonjour,” and proceeded to talk in French. The only anglais he spoke was to ask, “OK?” We nodded. He continued his conversation with himself, but stamped and signed our paperwork. “Voila.” (The only French word you’ll ever need to know.) That was it. No exam. No x-rays. The scary, hairy doctor did not see us naked.

A few weeks later, I learned my boys needed a French physical for school. Most French doctors do not take appointments. We located the office five minutes past the start of office hours. There were three doors with three names. We opened the door with Dr. Monique’s name and discovered a small waiting room. We were fifth in line. The people sitting muttered “bonjour” and went back to silence.

Dr. Monique’s office door opened and the next person jumped up and dashed in. After an hour and forty-five minutes, our turn came. Dr. Monique was friendly, attractive and not hairy. She had the requisite desk, two chairs, and exam table. She examined the boys (fully clothed) and explained they needed a tetanus booster and TB shot.

In the US, we test for TB. In France, they immunize against it. My kids will now show a positive result when TB tested in the states, but that’s another story. (Repeat after me: Everything in France is different. Everything in France takes longer.)

I received a prescription to buy the shots. Dr. Monique said to come back at 3:00 pm the next day and she would administer the immunizations. We were relieved to have a rendezvous, but bemused to have to find a pharmacy.

We did, and a young, pierced boy, certainly no chemist, filled my order. After twenty minutes of trying to tell me something, he rolled his eyes and grabbed his colleague. She instructed me, “Keep medicine in le frigo.”

The next day, we arrived at Dr. Monique’s slightly before 3 pm, the start of office hours for the afternoon. About 3:45, she breezed in, but did see us first. (Everything in France is different. Everything takes longer.)

A month later, I awoke with mal a la gorge (sore throat) and silently screamed, “No doctor!” I sucked enough cough drops to remove a layer of skin off my tongue, but my throat felt better. I didn’t go to the doctor, but did visit the pharmacy for more cough drops. The pharmacy is the only place to buy over-the-counter meds in France.

Repeat after me: Everything in France is different.

The WHEN LIFE STINKS VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on December 1 and end on December 23. You can visit Kelly's blog stops at in December to find out where she is appearing!

As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they become available. The winner will be announced by Pump Up Your Book Promotion at the end of the month!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Devil Can Wait by Marta Stephens--Book Review

A cursed papal ring, a Columbian drug smuggler, three dead bodies washed ashore in Massachusetts, and a demonic prophecy, mingle together to create a captivating, suspenseful and action-packed mystery in The Devil Can Wait by Marta Stephens.

When the third body of a teenage boy is uncovered by a man and his dog along Chandler Bay, Detective Sam Harper and his partner, Dave Mann are left with more questions than answers. With little to go on, they search to find the one thing that connects these murders and will lead them to the killer.

Jennifer Blake, an ambitious newspaper reporter looking for the story that will catapult her to the top, agrees to pick up a ring from a pawnshop for her former college professor. When both the pawnshop owner and the professor turn up dead, Blake is moved to the top of Harper's prime suspect list.

What makes the ring so valuable that someone would kill to get his/her hands on it? How are the deaths of the pawnshop owner and the professor connected to the boys pulled from Chandler Bay? And will Harper be able to uncover the truth before the murderer finds the ring and unleashes pure evil upon the earth?

This is the second book in the Sam Harper Crime Mystery series by Marta Stephens and the first book of hers that I have read. I'll definitely be spending the money to get Silenced Cry--the first book in the series.

The Devil Can Wait captivated me so deeply that I had to go back and look over some of the details in order to write this review. Stephens wove a complex plot into a set of engaging and creepy characters and came up with a huge winner for mystery fans. As the reader flows through each chapter, the mystery deepens; twists and turns drive the reader forward as she seeks to uncover the truth right along with Harper.

Sam Harper is a well-written character. Edgy and driven, but still vulnerable after the loss of his last partner, Harper still hasn't managed to clear his ex-girlfriend's clothes out of the closet. The unfolding romance between Harper and Jennie Blake is predictable, but doesn't take center stage. I liken it to an episode of the Rockford Files or Magnum P.I. where the romance exists only as an aside to uncovering the truth.

My only challenge with the novel is that there were so many characters introduced in the first few chapters, that when they were reintroduced using physical characteristics or by wearing certain clothes, I had to go back and figure out who they were. But this only happened a couple of times and once the pivotal characters were all in place, I never wanted to put the book down.

The Devil Can Wait will draw the reader in from the first word to the last, and leave her anxiously awaiting the next book in the Sam Harper Crime Mystery series!

Title: The Devil Can Wait
Author: Marta Stephens
Publisher: BeWrite Books
ISBN: 978-1-905202-86-7
U.S. Price: $15.99

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Robert Patterson and Five Steps to C.A.L.M.

Robert Patterson joins us today as our special guest blogger. Robert is the author of Five Steps to C.A.L.M.: Career and Life Management. Having spent many years in the corporate world and several at a management level, when I heard about Robert's book my mind instantly wandered to resumes. Now that I've been a stay-at-home mother for five years, I wondered what, if anything, had changed in creating resumes; so I asked Robert to discuss resumes and the top five mistakes job seekers make when drafting their resumes.

Readable Format Resumes

Have resumes changed in the last five years? No.

Are they better now? No.

Are they more creative? A little.

Is that good? No.

If you want to know how to create and use a resume that will do the job for you, you've already bought the right book. It's not the most expensive, but the information is the right stuff, and you'll not find it anywhere else--as far
as we know.

Here's where they go wrong:

Mistake #1. They use the wrong typeface-usually a sans serif one--so the resume becomes 75 percent less readable.

Mistake #2. They use the wrong layout; they write across the page,
instead of in a narrower column, so that the resume becomes less readable.

Mistake #3. They use even or straight margins on both the right and left sides (instead of a ragged or uneven; margin on the right side, which is much better). The result is that the computer gains control of your all-important spacing, and the resume becomes less readable.

Mistake #4. They crowd everything into, one or two pages because
someone told you that "no one will read it if it's; longer than one or two pages."


The corrected statement is this: "No one will read it-if it is
not readable."

A crowded resume is much less readable.

Mistake #5. They spend hundreds of dollars on hiring a professional to write the resume for them, instead of taking the time and the care to prepare 90 percent of their resumes themselves. If you prefer, when you have completed 90 percent of the work, you can go to the professional, for much less money, to have either her or him put a finishing touch on it, to make suggestion, or to print it.

You can visit Robert Patterson online at

The FIVE STEPS TO C.A.L.M. VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on December 1 and end on December 23. You can visit Steven's blog stops at in December to find out where he is appearing!

As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they become available. The winner will be announced by Pump Up Your Book Promotion at the end of the month!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Steve Verrier and Tough Love, Tender Heart

Today's guest blogger is Steve Verrier, author of Tough Love, Tender Heart. I found the cover of this novel fascinating and asked Steve what he could tell us about it. Here's what he had to say:

As far as the cover of TOUGH LOVE, TENDER HEART is concerned, my role was minimal. Lacking any sort of computer or design skills whatsoever, I simply told my publisher, Saga Books, which scene from the story I thought was particularly pivotal and ought to be depicted on the cover. Saga followed my suggestions to the letter. That’s as far as my involvement went, and, believe me, that’s a good thing.

TOUGH LOVE, TENDER HEART is the story of Don Fisher, a middle-aged misfit—just about everything has gone wrong in his life—who finally meets the sort of woman he’s given up on ever meeting. This happens while he’s on vacation in Venezuela. The woman, Ana, is Colombian, working as a waitress in Caracas, and while the two don’t exactly have a storybook romance, a child is conceived during Don’s vacation. He doesn’t learn this until he’s back in the States, but from that point on his energy is directed toward marrying Ana and bringing her to live in the US. Little does he realize the obstacles US Immigration is about to put in his path.

The scene I wanted on the cover pretty much epitomizes the couple’s troubles. Ana is coming to visit Don in the US, and immigration authorities at JFK International misread her intentions completely. She’s traveling on a tourist visa, and intends to abide by the conditions of her visa. Circumstantial evidence seems to pile up against her, though, and the senior immigration official on hand determines Ana’s intent is to stay permanently in the United States. As the official explains, current legislation is such that his determination is final. Don and Ana are convinced they have no recourse but to give in for now, to regroup, and Ana is escorted to catch a flight out of the country. The cover captures Don’s desperation and resignation, along with Ana’s disbelief and indignation. Equally important, I think, is the look on the face of the man assigned to accompany Ana to her flight out of the US. He may be helping to perpetrate a terrible injustice, but his expression seems to suggest he’s taking solace in the knowledge that he’s only doing his job.

TOUGH LOVE, TENDER HEART is available at,, and other sources. For more information about TOUGH LOVE, TENDER HEART or about Steven Verrier, visit, and drop the author a line telling him what you think about this book!

The TOUGH LOVE TENDER HEART VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on December 1 and end on December 23. You can visit Steven's blog stops at in December to find out where he is appearing!

As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they become available. The winner will be announced by Pump Up Your Book Promotion at the end of the month!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

December Special Feature: A Little House Christmas Treasury

As a child, I fell in love with the 1970's television show Little House on the Prairie. Based upon the children's classic Little House novels by Laura Ingalls Wilder, this widely popular show told the story of the Ingalls family, pioneers who settled into a little house on Plum Creek in Walnut Grove, Minnesota.

I know many Laura Ingalls Wilder fans who refuse to watch the show because it strayed so far from the books, but because I discovered the show long before I ever read the books, both the show and the books hold a special place in my heart. Special enough that I maintain a blog titled Laura's Little Houses, which celebrates the books and the shows based upon them.

My collection of books by and about Laura Ingalls Wilder is extensive, filling an entire shelf, two deep, in one of my bookcases. I have chosen a book from this collection as the next special feature for December.

Some of the most wonderful moments in the Little House books tell us about the Christmas holidays spent with family and friends. From the Christmas in the Big Woods when Pa made the decorative shelf for the China Shepherdess to Mr. Edwards bringing presents to the Ingalls girls so Santa wouldn't have to cross the creek, from the horses that Santa brought to the Ingalls Family on Plum Creek to the boughten cap and jack-knife Almanzo received as presents in Farmer Boy, from the Christmas barrel that arrived once the trains were finally able to get through in The Long Winter to Almanzo's surprise return in These Happy Golden Years, each of these stories will tug at your heart, fill you with the joys of the season, and remind you why Laura's books attract new fans year after year.

The cover on this book is simply gorgeous. The stunning gold that contrasts so nicely against the red background, is repeated on the bound edge and Garth Williams's illustrations have been brought to life in color to add a special touch to A Little House Christmas Treasury. My husband bought this for me last year as a surprise Christmas gift and it remains one of my favorite books of the season.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

December Special Feature: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The beloved Christmas classic, A Christmas Carol, is the first of many Christmas themed books we will feature during the month of December.

First published in December 1843, this is the story of an old and bitter miser named Ebenezer Scrooge who undergoes an amazing and profound transformation after being visited by three spirits.

A Christmas Carol deals with two themes commonly found in Dickens's work: social injustice and poverty. Bob Crachit, who works for Mr. Scrooge, is paid a meager salary working long hours to support his large family. His youngest boy, known as Tiny Tim, is crippled, and is sure to die without proper medical attention. Contrast the Crachits' life versus Scrooge's wealth, and one would be sure that Scrooge is better off. But the Crachit family is thankful for what they have and the love and support they offer each other puts them way ahead of Scrooge in the happiness and contentment category.

The appearance of Marley's ghost is perhaps the most disturbing scene--especially when it is captured on film. Jacob Marley was Scrooge's business partner who has just died when the book opens. He has come to help his friend change his ways, for now he knows the cost of sins against humanity. Marley's warning, and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come turn Scrooge into a new man, and the reader rejoices in his miraculous transformation.

A Christmas Carol has been brought to film many times with John Carradine, George C. Scott, and many other fine actors playing the role of Ebenezer Scrooge in various versions. The book has also been adapted for animated television using Mr. Magoo, The Muppets, and even The Flintstones, to name a few. And it looks like there might be a 2009 animated version staring Jim Carrey as the voice of Scrooge and all three Ghosts.

My favorite version remains the 1999 TNT production staring Patrick Stewart (Star Trek the Next Generation).

Please feel free to share your thoughts on this Christmas classic.

Friday, December 5, 2008

CJ Scarlet and The Kindness Cure

Today's guest blogger is CJ Scarlet. While her article might seem unusual for our site, she is a published author with a new book out--which you will find at her website After hearing the news of a WalMart employee being trampled to death by customers anxious to scoop up great Black Friday deals and the shooting incident at a Toys R Us on the same day, CJ's words will certainly be an inspiration for change.

When I was told that my heart was going to fail due to a life-threatening heart and lung condition, my world fell apart. Then a Tibetan lama told me to “stop feeling sorry for myself and start focusing on the happiness of others, and my life was transformed. The more I extended kindness to others, the happier I became and the better I felt, until just two short years later my condition went into remission. Kindness literally cured me! (Only after I got the idea for the campaign did I learn that performing or even hearing about others’ acts of kindness raises one’s serotonin and endorphin levels and decreases stress chemicals.)

The lama next commanded me to teach others the secret to happiness I had learned. The Kindness Cure Campaign is an attempt to do that by reminding people how very simple it is to be kind to others and to ourselves. Our goal is to get people to sign onto our social networking site — – and create a profile. By doing so, they are committing to performing at least one act of kindness each week for 52 weeks, for a total of one million acts of kindness in one year. An ambitious goal, but one I’m confident we can meet, because most people perform multiple small acts of kindness all day, every day. I personally will perform 365 acts of kindness during the year, all of which will be videotaped by viewing on our site.

Once people log onto our site, they can view our latest videos of my 365 acts of kindness, participate in a discussion group, chat with friends, read the very motivating kindness stories shared by others, and share some of their own. They can also invite their friends to join the campaign. I guarantee that if you come to the site, you’ll leave feeling deeply touched, inspired, motivated, and happy!

This is an important project. Things are really bad in the world right now and people feel discouraged. We need something to life us up and make us feel hopeful again. Promoting kindness and sharing our stories with others will make people feel better, and maybe even motivate them to be kinder to themselves and others. I believe with all my heart that kindness is the key not only to physical healing, but to healing our fractured planet as well. This much I know is true—it can only help!

I hope you all will join me by signing up on our website – – and committing to making a real difference. We look forward to seeing you there! CJ Scarlet

For More Information:
See What It’s All About - and this is CJ Scarlet’s website –