Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Book Spotlight: Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444 Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace by Andra Watkins

Title: Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444 Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace
Author: Andra Watkins
Publisher: Word Hermit Press
Pages: 240
Genre: Memoir
Format: Paperback/Kindle
Purchase at AMAZON

Can an epic adventure succeed without a hero?

Andra Watkins needed a wingman to help her become the first living person to walk the historic 444-mile Natchez Trace as the pioneers did. She planned to walk fifteen miles a day. For thirty-four days.
After striking out with everyone in her life, she was left with her disinterested eighty-year-old father. And his gas. The sleep apnea machine and self-scratching. Sharing a bathroom with a man whose gut obliterated his aim.

As Watkins trudged America’s forgotten highway, she lost herself in despair and pain. Nothing happened according to plan, and her tenuous connection to her father started to unravel. Through arguments and laughter, tears and fried chicken, they fought to rebuild their relationship before it was too late. In Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace, Watkins invites readers to join her dysfunctional family adventure in a humorous and heartbreaking memoir that asks if one can really turn I wish I had into I’m glad I did.

Book Excerpt:


Talking Heads

The journey is a long slog with an unpredictable number of mileposts.

One can make the trip alone, but why not share it?

As I traversed familiar mile markers and pulled up in front of my fa- ther’s house, I could predict where I’d find him.

In his recliner, his belly a shelf for a vat of popcorn. At eighty, he whiled away days feeding his face and shouting at the television. Whenever his throne was vacant, I eschewed all temptation to occupy it.

Because I imagined how many times he farted into the velvet uphol- stery.
Sometimes while naked.

I could hear the television when I stepped from the car. “Why am I do- ing this again?” I whispered as I slipped through the back door.

“Andra!” There he was, sprawled in his recliner. A jagged scar played peek-a-boo through his open pajama top. “What’re you doing here?”

I opened my mouth and clamped it shut. Once I uttered my request, I couldn’t take it back.
I needed a wingman while I walked the 444-mile Natchez Trace from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee. I planned to launch my debut novel and be- come the first living person to walk the 10,000-year-old road as our ancestors did. Nobody could convince me that an unathletic woman and her mid-life paunch were incapable of walk- ing more than a half-marathon every day for a month.

Even though my aversion to exercise was as spectacular as my father’s. I wanted my walk to redeem my novel’s hero, American explorer Meri- wether Lewis, one-half of the Lewis and Clark duo. He died of two gun-shot wounds on the Natchez Trace, seventy miles south of Nashville.
He was only thirty-five.

Was it suicide? Or murder? His death is one of America’s great un- solved mysteries.

To walk a forgotten highway for five weeks, I needed a wingman who could shuttle me to my first daily milepost and pick me up fifteen miles later. Someone who wasn’t busy. Someone available. Maybe this person even craved an adventure.

I scrolled through a list of prospects. My husband Michael couldn’t be absent from work for five weeks, especially since his job paid for my predilection to write. My friends all had children. Husbands. Gainful em- ployment. I discarded people for an hour, my list a scribbled mess that highlighted one harrowing name.


My father wasn’t doing anything. He was available to go on a five-week jaunt through Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee.

His stomach pooled over his thighs and his triple-chin jiggled as he leaned into his response. “Go on a five-week trip? Just you and me? I don’t want to do that, Andra.”

“Why not?” I shouted even louder to penetrate his VA-issued, cir- ca-1980 hearing aids.

“Well.” He chewed a handful of popcorn. “Because…….I got furni- ture to refinish.”

“It’ll be here when you get back.”

Dad dug his fingernails into the arms of his chair. “I cain’t be away from my Sunday school class for that long.”

“God won’t care if you miss church to spend time with your only daughter, Dad.”

“Well, uh…….I……..Linda might need me here.”

Mom preened into the room with his bowl of ice cream. I never understood why she didn’t just hand him the carton. She placed the spoon between his fingers and smiled. “I don’t need you here, Roy.” Her flawless makeup matched her leotard. “I’m going to the gym. Be home in four hours.”
She flounced out the door, leaving me with my jiggly arms and red hair I forgot to brush.

I sighed and turned back to Dad. “Why don’t you want to do this, Dad? I mean, you haven’t been anywhere since your appendix ruptured two years ago. You’re just sitting here in this recliner, waiting to die.”

Dad picked at his ice cream and avoided my gaze. “Spending five weeks with you don’t sound like much fun, Andra.”

Dad and I shouted down my teens, harangued through my twenties and seethed away my thirties. For most of my life, our every interaction disintegrated into hurtful words and pregnant silences. Yet, I was willing to cast our history aside and endure his company for more than a month, while he rejected me?

Wrong answer, Old Man.

I gnawed my tongue to regroup. Dad was my last hope to take readers into my book’s world. To help my scribblings make me somebody. In a uni- verse of words with little meaning and even less point, I believed I created something valuable, a story that could make a difference, a tale that would leave readers fundamentally altered and pining for the next installment.

All writers are convinced whatever they write qualifies, be it dreck or brilliance. Our words are sperm and egg on the page. Merge them together, and one can hold a physical chunk of the writer. It’s a shame a book can’t arrive covered in blood and filth from the birth canal, screaming and howling to breathe.

But to get anyone to care about a story, the writer must make it about the reader.

My breathing even, I flashed my most fetching smile.

“All right, Dad. Look at it this way. We’ll be riding near hundreds of tiny towns with lots of strangers who’ve never heard your stories. Think of all the junk shops and dive diners where you can enchant people. Don’t they deserve to meet you before you’re gone?”

Dad’s eyes took on a dreamy tinge. His yarns were Southern gothic legends, tales he rolled out for every stranger he encountered. I imagined myself spending the entire trip with a view of his broad back, regaling ev- eryone but me. He must’ve conjured the same scene. “I’ll do it, Andra. If the Lord lets me live ’til March, I’ll go with you.”

Dad would be my wingman on the Natchez Trace. Visions of literary stardom floated in front of my faraway eyes. Because my secret dream was The New York Times headline:
- Debut Novelist Walks Her Way to Blockbuster Best Seller! -

I basked in the mirage of that proclamation, in the glory of staggering to my Nashville finish line with crowds of people. News crews. Fans wav- ing my book and clamoring for an autograph.

My swelling imagination burst when Dad heaved himself from the chair, scratched his crotch and farted. “Yeah, Andra. This is gonna be real fun.”

What had I done? Besides self-scratching and legendary gas, his sleep apnea machine didn’t stifle his explosive snoring.

And the bathroom. I would have to share a bathroom with my father, whose hulking belly obscured all ability to aim. A sodden fact that seeped into my legs when I locked myself in Dad’s bathroom and plopped down on the toilet.

I didn’t want to spend five weeks with my father.

As I winced through a sink bath, I studied my face in the mirror. The beginnings of forehead wrinkles and crows feet. A hint of Dad’s bulldog jowl. I stuck my tongue out at my green-eyed self. “Welcome to Hell, you idiot.”

Andra Watkins lives in Charleston, South Carolina. A non-practicing CPA, she has a degree in accounting from Francis Marion University. She’s still mad at her mother for refusing to let her major in musical theater, because her mom was convinced she’d end up starring in porn films. In addition to her writing talent, Andra is an accomplished public speaker. Her acclaimed debut novel To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis was published by Word Hermit Press in 2014.

Her latest book is the memoir, Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444 Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace.

For More Information

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Little R&R

Taking a few days to rest and relax after surgery. I'll be back on Wednesday with a feature on Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444 Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace by Andra Watkins.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Interview and Giveaway with D.L. Anderson, Author of Unlocking the Mystery of You: The Pinnacle of Purpose

D. L. Anderson is a speaker and life trainer whose goals are centered on helping others live a life of purpose, excellence, and balance. Drawing on 15+ years of experience in various fields including information technology, consulting, and business management, D. L. Anderson is very excited to be able to effectively teach others the same principles which have made his life both fulfilling and successful.

His latest book is the self-help book, Unlocking the Mystery of You: The Pinnacle of Purpose.
For More Information

Can you tell us a bit about yourself? 

My name is D. L. Anderson. I am an IT consultant, career/life coach, and a professional writer. I’ve been writing for over half my life because it is my favorite thing to do. However, I didn’t consider myself a professional writer until 2005 when I was first published. Since that time I have published various books, articles, poems, and other writings.

I’ve also been working in the field of information technology since 2001 upon receiving my bachelor’s degree in computer science/management information systems. I have spent the majority of my time in IT as a project management professional, but also have program management experience and have also served as an IT director. These roles have given me numerous opportunities to mentor and coach others, which led me to begin career/life coaching in 2010. Since that time I’ve been doing a combination of the 3 (IT consulting, career/life coaching, and writing) and am thoroughly enjoying my life as I am able to live out my purpose and do those things which provide me with increasing measures of fulfillment and success.

Where did you grow up?

I spent time growing up in both Texas and Indiana; presently residing in Indiana.

What is your fondest childhood memory?

Christmas time. It was my favorite holiday and the only time of the year where I got to see my extended family.

When did you begin writing?

I’ve actually been writing ever since I was 10 years old and submitted various writings for contests throughout middle school and high school. I was first published as a young adult and have published various poems, books, articles, and other writings over the years. 

I am currently writing a book series dedicated to the topics of purpose, excellence, and balance, and hope to publish on average 1-2 books every year over the next 3-5 years.

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

I write whenever I can. However, I do have a routine where I write in the morning because I have found that it is the time where I am the most alert and creative. Notwithstanding, inspiration can hit me at any time, and so I often find myself writing at all hours of the day; even if it’s just a few notes or paragraphs which capture a thought which I will explore at a later time when I have more time.

What is this book about?

Unlocking the Mystery of You is a book which encourages individuals to live their lives with purpose by first understanding what their purpose in life is – and second, dedicating themselves to the path which will allow them to make an effective transition from their current station to the place where they really want to be. That is the place where they find the greatest measures of peace, contentment, and fulfillment by doing those things which they were uniquely designed to do.

In my opinion, this depiction represents our purpose in life while the consummate value of our “life experience” is contingent to how successfully we are at fulfilling it (i.e. our purpose).

The truth is that I have found many individuals (men and women alike) who feel the same way. That’s why I believe this book will be so successful. It’s because it speaks to a spirit of personal independence and entrepreneurism which is presently inspiring so many people around the world to dedicate themselves to living their purpose while placing a higher value on their fulfillment and happiness than the physical benefits and rewards which others may put first in their lives.

I know because once upon a time that individual was me. I admittedly was more focused on tangible rewards and what I found to be incomplete measures of success. That’s when I realized how unfulfilling the experience was. Sure I had an extremely successful career by societal standards; but the honest truth is that I was yet unhappy, for there were “pieces of me” which were not being fulfilled simply because I was living outside of my true purpose.

Then decision time came. Either I was going to continue on the unfulfilling road of incomplete success, or I was going to dedicate my life to my purpose and my fulfillment, and position myself to experience life to its fullest by persistently focusing on those things which matter most.

Obviously I chose the latter and detailed my transition from a visibly (yet partially) successful life, to a purpose-driven fulfilling life in this book; from the challenges I faced, to the detailed path I took. So if you’re somebody who is admittedly living outside your true purpose, and are interested in finding out how you can make the transition to doing so, this is a book you must read; for in it I will show you a clear path which you can take to make it happen.

What inspired you to write it?   

I wrote this book because I once was leading a very unfulfilled and unexceptional life. That was in spite of my socioeconomic status. That’s when I began to search for a path to turn my life around so that I could experience continued fulfillment while understanding the true meaning of success – and I did. I discovered such a path and have verified its effectiveness and value in my own life.

From now I want to share the lessons I have learned with others who, like me, are tired of the persisting states of unhappiness and discontentment, and will stop at nothing to find the fulfillment they are seeking.

Who is your biggest supporter?

My wife is my biggest supporter. She knows me better than anyone in the world and has more confidence in me than I have in myself at times. For that reason she encouraged me at critical moments in the development of my Life Pinnacles program (the avenue by which I offer my professional speaking, consulting, and career/life coaching services) and is the primary reason why I stayed the course at times when I was discouraged and tempted to abandon my dreams.

She is also in charge of all my marketing and has led the effort of getting my material and my message in front of my target audience. For these causes and more, I can honestly say she is as responsible for all I have done through my Life Pinnacles Program as I am.

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

No; I am not a member of a critique group although I would like to be and will likely be as I continue to advance my professional writing career. Presently I do not receive any feedback on my writings until after I have published. I do, however, spend countless hours reviewing and refining my work prior to publishing.

Who is your favorite author?

Mark Twain; when I think about his writing abilities, the only word which comes to mind is brilliant.

Do you have an agent or are you looking for one?

I do not have an agent, but would begin looking for one if and when my writing career takes off.

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

This is actually my 3rd book I’ve published. It’s never quite smooth sailing, but I wouldn’t call it a bumpy ride either. I’d say it was somewhere in between, but closer to smooth sailing. The fact that I’ve gone with the same publishing company each time made this experience more efficient than the last 2.

If you knew then, what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?

Yes; I would put more time (e.g. weeks) between my personal reviews prior to sending to the publisher. For some reason I find myself still making corrections after I’ve already reviewed my manuscript 5-7 times – and I believe it’s because my personal reviews happen too close together. Therefore, I will be placing more time between my personal reviews in an effort to decrease the time involved in publishing the book by submitting less corrections to the submitted manuscript.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

From my website at

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

A: Yes my website is and my blog is at

Do you have a video trailer to promote your book?  If yes, where can readers find it?

I don’t have one yet; but I will be incorporating one in the near future. It will be on my website:

What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?

Thus far it has been the Pump Up Your Book campaign.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

If you are truly passionate about your message and are convinced it can help improves the lives of others in some way, you have to get it out there. Don’t sit on it. Don’t push it to the back of your to-do-list. Take some time out in your day to write it.

You may not know it, but you have an audience. It could be thousands or even millions. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that they are looking to hear and read the words you have been inspired to write. So write them, and you’ll see just how powerful your pen is and how many lives you can potentially change for the better.

What is up next for you?

Unlocking the Mystery of You is the foundational message of my Pinnacles of Life book series. I am currently in the process of launching a membership site entitled “Purpose Seekers Unite” where I will offer online, group, and private coaching for individuals who are living outside their purpose and need assistance as they transition from their current station to adopting a purpose-driven life.

Purpose Seekers Unite will officially launched January 1, 2015. I have gotten a great deal of positive feedback from many people who have either pledged their support or are ready to join. If you are interested, visit us at to learn more about what we are doing and how you can get started if you are interested in joining us.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Yes; I would like to thank you for this opportunity to share information about my book and my program with others. I am convinced that the book will have an amazing impact on everyone who reads it, and the program will certainly provide each member with the guidance they need to begin leading a purpose-driven and fulfilling life. 

D.L. Anderson is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter.
  • This giveaway begins January 5 and ends March 27.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on Monday, March 30.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Interview with Patrick Andendall, Author of Stupidparty Math V. Myth: Unmasking the Destructive Forces Eroding American Democrac.

Patrick Andendall has always had an interest in politics and, being multicultural, he views issues from a more international perspective. In 2004, five days before the election, he flew to Cleveland and pitched in to help with the political process. What he discovered was the dissolution of the American Dream, which he writes about in his book, Stupidparty.

Educated at English boarding schools from the age of seven, Andendall went on to graduate from Lancing College. He started by sometimes working three jobs at once, trainee Underwriter/claim broker at Lloyd's of London, his own one man cleaning Company (cleaning the very offices of a Reinsurance Company he would transact business at) plus doing seasonal work on various farms.

Having made some windfall profits by borrowing money in order to be a "Stag" to take advantage of opportunities created by Margaret Thatcher's de nationalization policies of the mid 1980's, Andendall evolved into an entrepreneur with a core specialty in Reinsurance in London and New York where he looks for patterns in numbers. Self-employed in a field not normally conducive to self-employment, he is able remain in control, juggle different jobs, travel and pursue his various interests.

Ending up in New York via romance in the African bush, Andendall now lives on Long Island with his wife, two children and two dogs.
For More Information

Can you tell us a bit about yourself? 

I grew up in England and work in reinsurance. I live on Long Island with my family and my dogs.

What is your fondest childhood memory?

It’s probably visiting Piccadilly Circus with my mom and watching all the people. It’s a beehive of activity there—the noise, the smell, the constant motion.

When did you begin writing?

I started tweeting and engaging on social media a few years before I started writing the actual book. This provided the fodder that eventually became the book. In other words, writing the book itself had two different startpoints. I started writing the actual book about two years ago but the process of writing what would become the book started before that. I tweeted in 2008 and 2012 about politics in an effort to get the word out about the myths that were being perpetrated by FOX news and other online forums. This formed the basis for what would eventually become StupidParty Myth vs. Math. I realized that my tweeting only bounced around in the online echo chamber of people who agreed with me so I started writing the book to serve as a resource to prevent an erosion of democracy. I want to get the book out as a collection of material already publicly available to educate voters.

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

Writing is an exercise that helps me with my insomnia so I typically write at night. At this stage I’m focusing on writing blog posts and manage about four of those per month.

What is this book about?

The book is about contemporary political discourse and policy. I try to explain why it seems governance is so frustratingly difficult among our two parties. The answer can be boiled down to the Republican electorate not being educated about the issues their party seems to care most about. I use publicly available facts to eviscerate certain notions disseminated by popular Republican figures on television. The Republicans have a mythological version of everything, ranging from global warming, to economic policy, to religion.

What inspired you to write it?   

My experience volunteering on the John Kerry campaign in 2004 as well as living in the American democracy inspired the content for the book. I believe that the most important thing to a healthy electorate is voter education. The people who send the Stupidparty to office time-after-time vote regularly. The people who suffer at the expense of StupidParty policies don’t vote as consistently. I believe this book can be a voter education resource for people across the political spectrum. It might instill urgency to vote among left leaning voters, and it might make people think more critically on the right about the candidates they nominate for office.

Who is your biggest supporter?

My family are my biggest supporters, but I also get a great amount of moral support from my dogs.

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

I am not part of a critique group, unless I can put that label on my family’s help (all constructive of course). For this book I invested in an accomplished editor who provided overarching and specific feedback to help shape the content.

Who is your favorite author?

Patrick O’Brian – but I have no delusions about trying to emulate any great author.

Do you have an agent or are you looking for one?

I do not have an agent. I’m not looking for one at the moment.

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

Bumpy. The publication process was more time consuming and complex than I could have possibly imagined. The interactive structure of this hybrid print/ebook put unique pressures regarding formatting and.

It’s also been challenging to ensure print book buyers get access to the ebook for free. Most retailers make this difficult. As an ebook this only really works on a color device, and for the same reasons I have refused to allow a black and white print version. The production cost of the printed color edition causes marketing issues. Originally, I thought that the printing costs would make a color print book a pipe dream, but it was more reasonable than I thought. The extensive use of hyperlinks, color pictures and graphs also made for a massive electronic file and this causes issues. The scale of the project required numerous drafts as each step in the process was likely to cause new unforeseen errors.

If you knew then, what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?

This being my first rodeo, I don’t have the perspective to do it differently. I reached the point I needed to reach and I have a book to promote and a mission to promote. I have an ebook version that empowers readers to access way more material than your average print edition. I am happy with how things turned out.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

The website links to my social media accounts where I highlight current happenings in StupidParty affairs.

Do you have a video trailer to promote your book?  If yes, where can readers find it?

Unfortunately, I do not. But you can turn on FOX news or political talk radio to get a sense of what will be addressed in the book.

What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?

Investing time has been the best thing I can do to promote my book. I am independently published because I found it to be the best avenue to publish both the e-book and printed copy with materials in color and with multimedia. Getting it formatted to accommodate all of these unique additions to the book took a lot of time. Now promoting the book on social media requires consistency, so creating content about what’s happening today requires additional work.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

Hire a great editor, who asks the right questions, without changing your voice and makes you look smarter than you are.

What is up next for you?

I am continuing my day job and promoting the book as much as possible.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Book Spotlight: The Kingdom of the Rings by Duane R. Lindberg

The KINGDOM OF THE RINGS is our American story-the story of our people-of the 55 million who emigrated from Europe to North America in 19th and 20th centuries. This story focuses on the victories and defeats, joys and sorrows, of those who broke the sod of the prairie plains, built the farms and ranches, towns and cities, schools and churches. This is the story of the Faith in and the Vision of God's promised fulfillment which strengthened and sustain them as they face the trials and tribulations, the challenges and opportunities of life in the New Land. As symbolic of all immigrant groups-from the British Isles, the German states, the Latin lands, the Slavic nations and the Scandinavian countries, I have focused on the nearly 1 million immigrants from Norway-their Christian Faith which inspired them, their commitment to hard work, honesty, individual initiative, and respect for law which drove them, and the tensions which they experienced, created by their desire to adjust to their new homeland without losing their identity......This is Your Story and My Story
— Dr. Duane R. Lindberg

"Combining the best of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Rolvaag's Giants in the Earth, and Moberg's The Emigrants, Lindberg's saga spans nearly a millennium beginning with the last of the Crusades to nineteenth-century Norse immigrants to America's cultural acclimatization including the struggle to maintain their faith in an increasingly hostile climate...A connecting thread throughout the saga...three interlocking golden Rings." (from the Forward by John Eidsmoe)

"The Kingdom of The Rings is a brilliant story, tracing back to the Middle East and linked to Norway before ending in America. The Norway part of this fascinating story is from the time of the late Middle Ages, and very much related to Ringsaker area in Hedmark County, east of Lake Mjøsa and Ringerike County, west of Lake Mjøsa. The author, Duane R. Lindberg, PhD reveals a very good knowledge and insight regarding society and church of the time, and how faith and life traditions in Norway came to expression in everyday life and dreams.
(Ole Amund Gillebo Pastor, Ringsaker, Norway)

Purchase at:

Nordskog Publishing

In addition to his 50 years of pastoral ministry, Rev. Lindberg has served as the Presiding Pastor (Bishop) of the American Association of Lutheran Churches from 1987 until his retirement in 1999. As Presiding Pastor, he was instrumental in founding the American Lutheran Theological Seminary and served as adjunct professor in areas of church history and systematics. He also taught medieval history at Upper Iowa University.

Duane and his wife Mardell reside in Waterloo, Iowa. They are blessed with five children and eleven grandchildren. In their retirement, the Lindbergs are active in their church and the American Association of Lutheran Churches (AALC). They volunteer in their community through the Sons of Norway, Rotary, and Valley Lutheran School. They are encouraging their grandchildren in their commitment to their faith and in many activities, including academics, sports, music, and the study of the Norwegian language and culture.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Book Related Problems I Have

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of the bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

Ten Book Related Problems I Have

  1. Trying to read more than one book at a time. This never goes well. It is easier for me to pull off if I am reading a non-fiction and fiction title at the same time, but I still don't feel like I give either book any justice.
  2. Managing my TBR pile. A long, long time ago, I had whittled my review pile down to a dozen books. Those days are forever gone. I could sit here and read one book a day and have enough material to keep me busy for over three years.
  3. Keeping my bookmarks in good condition. Everyone else in my family uses stray pieces of paper, but I want a bookmark to hold my place. I certainly get enough free ones included in books I receive for review. Problem is I read in the tub. Those paper bookmarks are always getting wet. 
  4. Protecting my Kindle from the bath water. I love reading on my Kindle and Kindle Fire, but lately I am very tired. I have almost dropped my Kindle or Kindle Fire in the tub at least half a dozen times over the past month. That would be so not good.
  5. Deciding what books to donate. I can't help it, I love books. Part of the reason for buying a Kindle was because when I kept books they wouldn't take up space. At least once a year, I go through the books in my office and donate them. I just find it really hard to decide which ones to part with.
  6. Making space for unread books. If you could see my office floor, you would wonder how I accomplish anything in here. I don't have room for another bookcase, so on the floor they go.
  7. Balancing kid books and adult books. I have numerous blogs, including one just for kids and teens. Books for younger audiences read faster, but I don't accept as many review requests for that blog, so I don't tend to have as many of them outstanding. Most of them come unsolicited from publishers. On the flip side, I want to read more books for younger kids because I write picture books, chapter books, and middle grade novels. Can someone stop the world for a year so I can catch up on my reading?
  8. Keeping up with books in a series. After reading Love You More by Lisa Gardner, I bought the previous books in her Detective D.D. Warren Series. I haven't had time to read them and three new books have been released since then. Same problem with my Deputy Tempe Crabtree books by Marilyn Meredith. I am keeping up with new releases, but though I own the previous books in the series that came before Judgment Fire, I haven't gotten a chance to read them.
  9. Sharing my books. I don't think this will ever change. I lent out a book from one of my favorite authors (an autographed one no less) to a friend and it never came back. I don't lend my books out anymore, even if it makes my friends angry.
  10. Coming into a series in the middle. This makes me so cranky. When I find out that I unknowingly started a series in the middle, I want to scream. I like that Amazon puts the title of the series (and sometimes the book number) in their listings now, so I can check out series book before buying.

What book related problems do you have?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Musing Mondays - Feb 16

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme sponsored by MizB of Should Be Reading that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…
THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: (will post it once it's up)

Let's talk about cozy mysteries for a minute. Brian A. Klems, the online editor of Writer’s Digest, defined cozy mysteries this way:

The cozy mystery (sometimes simply called a cozy) is a subgenre of crime fiction that gives readers a chance to delight in vicariously solving a murder—without graphic violence or sex. Protagonists are typically amateur (and usually female) sleuths solving small-town crimes with old-fashioned detective work rather than forensics. These unlikely heroes are often small-business owners who find themselves drawn into detection by crimes impacting their work; sometimes their investigative efforts are aided by a significant other with police connections.

As Klems mentioned in his July 2014 article, cozies are making a come back. If you're looking for somewhere to check out the latest cozies, you can pop in over at The Cozy Mystery List Blog. This blogger also talks about cozies on television.

Speaking of television, Netflix has been a great way for me to re-watch Murder, She Wrote; one of my favorite mystery series, which ran from 1984 - 1996. It featured Angela Lansbury as Jessica Fletcher, a former high school English teacher and famed mystery writer who has a knack for solving mysteries in her coastal home of Cabot Cove.

I've read some neat cozy mysteries in my time. Agatha Christie brought us Miss Marple. Stuart Palmer gave us Hildegarde Withers. Miss Maud Silver came to us by way of author Patricia Wentworth. In 2008, I read The Poetry of Murder by Bernadette Steele. I have never seen another book by this author, but I would love it if she came out with something new. Back in 2009, I read the first in a new Christian cozy mystery series, The Case of the Bouncing Grandma by A.K. Arenz. I have the second book, but haven't had a chance to read it yet. I hope 2015 allows me the time to at least crack the cover.

Do you read cozy mysteries? Who are some of your favorite cozy mystery authors?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Reading Now: Love on the Menu by Eileen March

Jago Tanner is a loner. He works up a good hunger at his outdoors pursuits centre in Wales and looks upon each female conquest as just another meal. When he’s sated, he doesn’t go back for dessert. Until Riley shows up. A Londoner hired through an agency to assist him with activities, she isn’t at all what he asked for. For starters, with the name Riley, he expected a man. But Riley is all woman—the sexiest woman Jago has ever laid eyes on. Unfortunately she dresses like a trollop and curses like a sailor. Though ignorant about most outdoors pursuits, she’s a skilled horsewoman, able to calm even his nerviest stallion. And her lively and generous nature enchants his housekeeper Emily and his ancient friend, Tom. In short, Jago’s new employee is a bundle of contradictions. Which is why, when Jago falls for her, he doesn’t trust his feelings. Riley seems unusually accident prone, and when her brother’s shady friends menace her, she plays the innocent. But how can anyone so self-sufficient and mouthy also be so trusting and naïve? And can a man with Jago’s volatile nature endure the jealousy a woman like Riley provokes just by strolling down the street?

Paperback: 244 pages
Publisher: Fanny Press (February 14, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603815686
ISBN-13: 978-1603815680

Find this book on Goodreads!

Purchase at Amazon!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Interview with Eve Picquette, Author of Open Your Heart for Happy Relationships

Eve Picquette has been looking for love, joy and fun all her life. Along the way she has had lots of experiences - some with more fun than others! A licensed attorney, she served as director of risk and quality management at hospital corporations in California and Arizona for thirty years. She is also a certified NLP life coach, matrix, EFT and Angel Therapy practitioner. Eve Picquette received her MSN in community mental health at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, and her Juris Doctor from the University of California, Davis.

Author of Open Your Heart for Happy Relationships: 10 Shift Keys -What Your Angels Have Been Trying to Tell You for Centuries and companion Mini Meditation MP3's, she lives in Arizona, and her present happy work is teaching and advising clients regarding having more love and joy in personal and business relationships.

For More Information

Can you tell us a bit about yourself? 

I am a voracious reader and book lover.  I am probably one of’s best customers!  I am interested in many things – but most of all having a light and happy heart and enjoying my life.  I believe we spend far too long trying to do things, required by others, that do not increase our happiness.  I am working on making sure I don’t make those mistakes again!

Where did you grow up?

I was born in North Carolina, but grew up in Central California.

When did you begin writing?

As an attorney, I have always done a lot of writing.  However, I didn’t start out to write a book.  I wrote some short guides about relationship issues that I was planning on giving away on my website.  Those sheets became the basis for my book and just developed from there.  Once I had the pictures of the angels painted, the book took on a life of it’s own.

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

I wrote most of my chapters in one sitting.  I have words just wanting to jump on the page.  Then I revise, add quotes and experiences every time I re-read the chapter.  It is hard to ever be done writing.

What is this book about?

I believe that angels have inspired the ideas that work for us, down through the ages.  The book contains some of those ideas that work.  I wanted to live the Prayer of St. Francis – “…let me sow love… where there is darkness, light….” I wanted to feel happy and have happy relationships – but I was not.  As an attorney, I always feel like there is an answer. These are the 10 practical Shift Keys that opened my heart and made a real difference in my life and relationships.

What inspired you to write it?

The thought that so many of us want to be loving, but mistake being a martyr and over-giver with having an open loving heart.  I also wanted to share some simple shifts that can be made to exponentially increase happiness and peace in anyone’s life.    

Who is your biggest supporter?

I have an amazing daughter, all grown up now.   She always encourages me, as I hope I have encouraged her!  She is one of my greatest inspirations to live with an open heart.

Who is your favorite author? 

I love the emotional depth of the fiction written by Mary Balogh and Carla Kelly.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

You are invited to visit my author page -, Facebook at AdvisorIsIn and my website at where I offer advice and techniques to help you open your heart for the happiest relationships and life, as well as Free Angel Readings and other gifts – click on Angel Messages! 

Do you have a video trailer to promote your book?  If yes, where can readers find it?

Yes, it will be on my author page above, and on my website home page.

What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?

I am working with Dorothy Thompson, of Pump Up Your Book; it has been a great experience!

What is up next for you?

I am working on my next book, which is about some “dark night of the soul” traps that others and I have experienced.  It details how to climb out of those experiences, whole and lighthearted.

Is there anything you would like to add?

I appreciate all your wonderful readers – have a great day!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Things I Like/Dislike When It Comes To Romances In Books

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of the bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

Top Ten Things I Like/Dislike When It Comes To Romances In Books

We have an option this week: all likes, all dislikes, or a mixture of both. I am going with a mix, and I will start with my likes because positive first makes the negative a bit easier to swallow...just ask Mary Poppins. 


  1. Flawed heroes and heroines. No one is perfect. In my opinion, perfect is boring. I want my characters to be flawed. It's okay for the main characters in a romance novel not to like every single thing about each other too.
  2. Characters with history. One of the best romantic suspense novels I ever read was Beyond the Code of Conduct by K. M. Daughters. The main characters are Homicide Detective Joe Sullivan and FBI Special Agent Bobbie Leighton. An incident in their past tore them apart, but when Joe's brother is murdered, they are forced to pose as a married couple to catch the culprit. Sparks were definitely flying.
  3. Cowboys. I can't help. I love me a good cowboy romance. Ranches, horses, muscles bulging underneath flannel shirts...they get me every time. 
  4. Historical settings. Since I read a lot of historical fiction, this is probably a no-brainer. I'm partial to the mid- to late 1800s.
  5. Sarcastic heroines. They really should crown me the Queen of Sarcasm. I love it. I use it. Sarcastic female characters are my friends.
  1. Love at first sight. My teenage daughter is so into this right now. I'm guessing it might exist somewhere, but I believe true love takes time to develop. It's okay when characters are instantly attracted to each other, but even then, it can't go overboard.
  2. Raunchy sex scenes. Overly graphic sex scenes with tons of raunchy dialogue do nothing for me; except maybe make me want to close the book.
  3. Love triangles. I know they are popular, but I feel there can be enough conflict and tension between two main characters without a third person involved. 
  4. Needy characters. Whether it is the hero or the heroine, if a character is too needy I feel like slapping them offside the head. 
  5. Romance as the entire plot. I'm sure I am more drawn to romantic suspense than traditional romances simply because there is an engaging side story to balance out all that drippy love stuff. 
What are your likes and dislikes when it comes to romance in books?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Musing Mondays - February 9

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme sponsored by MizB of Should Be Reading that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…
THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Do you have people in your life (face-to-face) that are readers like you? Or, do you find that you have to reach out to those online in order to find like-minded folk?

I'm feeling pretty good about blogging right now. Though I am struggling to juggle it all, last week I managed to participate in two blog memes, post a book review and two book spotlights, and start off this week with another review so that all the books I have read since December are now reviewed on my blogs. 

Here are links to those posts:

Musing Monday - February 2 

Top Ten Books I Can't Believe I Haven't Read From the Young Adult Genre

Review of Death of a Clown by Heather Haven

Book spotlight of Budapest Romance by Roza Gaston

Book spotlight of The Mysterious Doll by Linda Weaver Clarke

Review of Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer's Life by Pamela Smith Hill

What was your blogging week like?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Book Review: Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer's Life by Pamela Smith Hill

As a lover of all things Laura Ingalls Wilder, I scooped up a copy of Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer's Life by Pamela Smith Hill not long after it came out. I had a chance to read it on my own before re-reading it to take an online class about Wilder given by the author.

While I did learn a few new things in this biography of my favorite children's author, Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer's Life is an academic look at Wilder's life and work, making it a bit dry, like Donald Zochert's Laura. The author does a fine job of showing how Wilder developed her writing and business savvy through the years.

Critical in her opinions of Rose Wilder Lane (Laura and Almanzo's only child who lived to adulthood), Hill accuses Lane of blurring the values of truth, honesty, and moral courage in her quest for publication and success and of trying to diminish her mother's reputation as a writer. At least she doesn't shy away from the complex relationship the two women carved out while they lived and worked together.

The author discusses controversies surrounding Wilder's famous children's books: such as her depiction of Native Americans and the role Lane played in the writing of her mother's books. These controversies don't come as any surprise to Laura fans. They have been addressed by others.

There is a section of historical photos between the end of Chapter 10 and the beginning of Chapter 11. I've seen these before, but they mean more to me now that I visited some of the Laura Ingalls Wilder sites last summer.

South Dakota is protective of Wilder's legacy considering the Ingalls family finally settled in De Smet, South Dakota and it is where Almanzo and Laura made their home during the early years of their marriage. The area is rich in prairie and Wilder history. A book such as Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer's Life should be huge hit for the South Dakota State Historical Society Press. Thoroughly researched, Wilder fans should consider adding this to their collection. Hill's insights might not be for everyone, but if you're like me, you want to own all the books about Wilder that you can.

Series: South Dakota Biography
Paperback: 254 pages
Publisher: South Dakota State Historical Society (September 1, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 097779556X
ISBN-13: 978-0977795567

I purchased a copy of this book from Amazon. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Book Spotlight: The Mysterious Doll by Linda Weaver Clarke

Amelia Moore, the founder of the Moore Detective Agency, specializes in missing persons. Her cases have taken her to some very interesting places and put her in some dangerous situations, but she always solves the case. With the help of her partner, Rick Bonito, the business is flourishing.

Pauline Jones is confused why her boyfriend took off without telling a soul where he was going. But that isn’t all. Sam Whitaker is accused of stealing a valuable porcelain doll from the museum. His disappearance makes him look guilty, but Pauline is convinced he is innocent. When Amelia finds Sam, she realizes they need to prove his innocence. Where is the antique doll and who has taken it?

Series: Amelia Moore Detective Series
Paperback: 212 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (December 3, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1502929147
ISBN-13: 978-1502929143

Purchase for only $2.99 at:


Barnes and Noble


Linda Weaver Clarke travels throughout the United States, teaching people to write their family history and autobiography. She has traveled to seventeen states and given over 450 workshops. Clarke is the author of six historical sweet romances, four mystery adventure novels, a children’s book, and a new cozy mystery series. She is also the author of an award-winning sweet romance, Melinda and the Wild West, for the “Reviewers Choice Award.” All her books are family friendly.

Facebook: Facebook profile

Friday, February 6, 2015

Book Spotlight: Budapest Romance by Roza Gaston

When Kati Dunai travels to Budapest to settle her father’s estate, the last thing on her mind is the pursuit of pleasure. She’s a busy international conference planner, her life rooted in Manhattan.

But from the moment she sets foot in the city of her father’s youth, it’s pleasure that pursues her. At the thermal bath spa hotel where she’s staying, she meets a Dutchman who reminds her of Béla Dunai, her Hungarian refugee father, who fled his homeland shortly after its 1956 revolution.

Jan Klassen is in Budapest to mend from a motorcycle accident. His scars have healed on the outside, but inside, he cannot forgive himself for the consequences his son now lives with forever.
Jan has never met a woman like Kati before. Her blend of New England restraint with gypsy spirit captivates him. While Jan introduces Kati to Budapest’s leisurely pace of life, Kati introduces Jan to her own leisurely pace of sensual exploration as their attraction to each other grows over six magical days.

When Kati returns to New York, their relationship continues. But it’s not just an ocean that separates them. Kati’s corporate job with frequent travel is the antithesis of the slow-paced pleasures she enjoyed in her father’s favorite city, one of Europe’s crown jewels.

Which will Kati put first—her new career or her new love; a man who reminds her of the father she never fully understood? And is it the Hungarian pleasure-loving side of herself that she really needs to understand before she can offer her heart to the man who has awakened her to who she truly is?

  • Budapest Romance is available at Amazon.
  • Audio edition available at with actress Romy Nordlinger of All My Children, One Life to Live narrating.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Rozsa Gaston writes playful books on serious matters. Women getting what they want out of life is one of them. She studied European intellectual history at Yale, and then received her master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia. In between, she worked as a singer/pianist all over the world. She lives in Bronxville, NY with her family.

Her books include Budapest Romance, The Ava Series: Paris Adieu, Part I and Black is Not a Color, Part II, Running from Love, Dog Sitters and Lyric. Her upcoming novel is Sense of Touch, a fictionalized story of Anne of Brittany and Queen of France.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Book Review: Death of A Clown by Heather Haven

Death of A Clown is an intriguing historical noir mystery from the award-winning pen of Heather Haven.

When up and coming Jeri Deane finds a young clown strangled inside a lion's cage, the local sheriff threatens to shut the Big Top down. Jeri isn't about to let that happen. Her investigation uncovers deceit, treachery, and long-held secrets. Can Jeri find the killer before the lights go out on the big show permanently?

I was already a fan of Haven's work prior to reading Death of A Clown. This book not only drew me in from the first sentence, by the end it showed me that Haven can write historical novels as well as contemporary ones.

Haven is the daughter of a Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus trapeze artist/performer and elephant trainer. It is not hard to imagine how much influence this had on the writing of this novel. She created such vivid pictures, I felt like I was living inside the book as it unfolded.

A fascinating storyline, well-drawn characters, and a shocking ending make this a superb murder mystery. It's no wonder this novel won the 2014 Silver IPPY for Best Mystery/Thriller. Highly recommended.

Paperback: 296 pages
Publisher: The Wives of Bath Press (February 13, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0988408635
ISBN-13: 978-0988408630

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

I read this book for the following challenges: