Friday, September 30, 2011

Book Review: Missing in Mexico by Stuart Gustafson

A ripped from the headlines type of mystery is what you'll discover in Missing in Mexico by Stuart Gustafson.

College students Sarah and Mary spend some time vacationing in Mexico. But when Sarah doesn't get on the plane for home, private investigator Stan Walkorski is hired by Sarah's parents to find out what happened to her.

Racing against the clock, Stan's investigation finds him jaunting between the States and Mexico to uncover clues about Sarah's disappearance. When he receives a mysterious letter claiming to have information, he hopes he's finally gotten a lucky break.

Mysteries have been one of my favorite genres since I was a kid, but I feel they are one of the most difficult genres to write. There are so many details; so much that has to be relayed and figured out; so many twists and turns that have to be inserted to provide the reader with the necessary suspense, and usually a way to keep the reader guessing until the very end who the true culprit is.

Gustasfson puts his years of travel experience to great use in creating a mystery that takes place between the States and Mexico. Once Sarah has disappeared, Stan is quickly called in to investigate. As a newcomer to Los Cabos, Mexico, the sights, sounds, and food of the area are just as enticing to Stan as the mystery he needs to solve. It is clear as the reader moves through the story, that the author has extensive knowledge of the area. In some ways this is an excellent thing. It gives the reader a strong sense of place as Stan works to find Sarah.

The challenge, however, is that Stan's discovering Mexico almost takes precedence over him finding Sarah. Instead of asking Mary where she and Sarah went while they were in Mexico, Stan and a lady friend he meets on the plane, spend time going business to business to learn if anyone has seen Sarah. Granted, he might want to do some of that anyway, but one would think he would have a game plan put together based upon information from Mary to help speed the process along. Because so much detail about the area is included, the book is overly long, slowing down the pace of what should be a suspense-filled page-turner.

I would also have liked a deeper point of view. The reader only gets to scratch the surface of Stan. I can't say I knew him much better by the end of the book than when I started. The mysteries I enjoy most have a strong male or female lead whose head I can get into. I want to experience everything with them and truly get to know them. Even the relationships Stan develops with women are shallow. The women come into his life, and then they're gone, without a good reason why.

Missing in Mexico's blurb is what encouraged me to review the book. The idea is intriguing. A good editor could have helped mold this promising mystery into an even stronger story. I would be interested in reading the next travel mystery Gustafson is writing to see how he approaches his second novel.

Book Details:

Publisher: AITE Publishing
Published: May 2011
Genre: Mystery Tourism

Missing in Mexico is available at: Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You can purchase the printed book on the author's website (shipping is free).

Stuart Gustafson began writing in earnest after taking early retirement from the corporate world in 2007. His professional life involved travel and so it was natural for him to want to continue traveling once he didn't have to travel as a job. Now when he travels, it's for fun; it's for pleasure; it's to see new places in the world. The way he has chosen to combine his love of travel and writing is to write mystery novels set in exciting locations around the world where he likes to go.

His debut mystery novel Missing in Mexico is set in San Jose del Cabo at the tip of Mexico's Baja California peninsula, a charming location where he has spent 2-6 weeks each year for the past eight years. This is how Stuart researches his books, by immersing himself into the culture of the area, and getting to know the people and their charm. The best compliment Stuart has received was at a local event in San Jose del Cabo and some of the residents told him that Missing in Mexico was indeed about their town and would he please consider writing another book about San Jose or at least about Cabo.

His second mystery novel, set in Sydney, NSW, Australia, is already underway, and Stuart took five trips to Sydney in 2010 to conduct research of the area to once again ensure that the book, even though it's a fictional mystery novel, would still contain authentic details. Publication date for that book is set for early 2012.

Stuart has been married for thirty-seven years to Darlene and they have one daughter and one son. Stuart and Darlene live in Boise, Idaho.

You can find Stuart online at:




Thursday, September 29, 2011

Book Review: The Queen's Gamble by Barbara Kyle

Immerse yourself in a thrilling, fabulous story set in Tudor era England.

In this latest installment of Barbara Kyle's Thornleigh series, after receiving ill news of her parents, Isabel Thornleigh returns to London with her husband, Carlos Valverde, and their son. What she finds surprises her, and she can't stand the secrets no one in her family will share. Yes, she and Carlos have built a successful life in the New World, but she remains the queen's loyal servant.

Isabel is recruited to smuggle money to the Scottish rebels, but Queen Elizabeth is unsure of her loyalty, and keeps Isabel's son, Nicolas, as a hostage until the mission is complete.  Isabel finds opposition from within when Carlos is engaged as a military advisor to the French.

How high of a price must Isabel pay to prove her loyalty to her queen and her family?

What a superb historical. Rich in historical details, eloquently written, The Queen's Gamble takes you into the intrigue, passion, and courage that defines this era. We meet a vulnerable Elizabeth who is struggling to restore England to power and wealth while surrounded by enemies. Into this world, the fictional Thornleighs have been born by Kyle's masterful hand. Honor and Richard Thornleigh are older and wiser than when they first appeared in the first book of this series, The Queen's Lady. Their loyalty to Elizabeth has been steadfast, and they have been handsomely rewarded. With Isabel, Kyle has created a strong heroine, deeply in love with her husband, but treated as an outsider by her family because of her life in Peru. Isabel is a woman with feet in two worlds, but seemingly belonging to neither. Though deep in her heart she remains loyal to England, she has trouble gaining the trust of those around her. While she willingly offers to help the queen, she is surprised that the lack of trust goes so far that the Elizabeth would hold her young son captive to make sure Isabel completes her mission.

Carlos is dealing with issues of his own. Forced into service in exchange for a recommendation for a high position in Peru that will pay off his debts, he is soon thrust into a commanding role that puts him on opposite sides of this war than his wife. It's possible their once strong marriage might not survive.

I love books that carry me away into another world and make me eager to pick them up the minute I lay a bookmark inside to secure my place. The Queen's Gamble is certainly one of those books. While a perfect stand-alone novel, I don't think anyone will be able to read this one and not want to go back and read the three previous books. I know I'm going to.

Title: The Queen's Gamble
Author: Barbara Kyle

Publisher: Kensington
ISBN-10: 0758238568
ISBN-13: 978-0758238566
SRP:  $15.00
Also available in electronic formats.

The author paid me to promote this book with a virtual book tour through Pump Up Your Book. That fee did not include a review. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I received no monetary compensation.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Book Spotlight: Just A Few Seconds by Nemo James

Derek dreamt of becoming a professional musician from the first time he picked up a guitar following a talent content disaster. Thought of by his friends as being the person most likely to make the big time he turned professional but was continually side tracked by the need to earn a living from music.

His journey takes him all over the world from private gigs for the rich and famous to the roughest pubs. Starting in the late sixties when heavy rock was born, through to the 1980’s and 90’s when discos and electronics decimated live music dance halls.

Just a Few Seconds is an amusing and heartrending story of perseverance showing how the road to success can lead us down the strangest of paths.

Read the reviews!

"I am not an avid reader of autobiographies but every now and again there is one that comes along and takes you by surprise, one that you don’t expect to be as good a read as it is. One such book is Just A Few Seconds. Thoroughly recommended and a pleasure to read."

Anthony Lund, Allbooks Review

"A riveting read. A tantalizing cocktail of pathos, drama, suspense, philosophy and humour."

Barrie Tracey – Received Lifetime Achievement Award for services to journalism from NAPA 2009

"He is an engaging story teller, and his writing skillfully blends humor and pathos. I Loved the book."

Joseph Yurt,

"I was entertained from the very first page up to the last sentence. I truly enjoyed this book."

Valentina, Carabosse’s Library

"I just finished reading your book and I must tell you how much I have enjoyed it to the point that I felt sorry I was done with it. I really love your sense of humor."

Guillermo Bettocchi PHD – United Nations High Commissioner

“His writing is intelligent, reflecting a deep desire to express his experiences. And his ability to bring to life the daily living of a struggling musician is utterly captivating.”

Norm Goldman –

"Captivating. Written with an ironic and witty sense of humor. highly recommend."

Douglas R. Cobb –

"Nemo James’ memoir will captivate and push you to see past the struggles in your own life, and find faith in the “creative lake,” inside you."

Blue Bell Books


Born and based in England, Nemo James worked as a professional musician and singer/songwriter for more than 30 years. He now lives in Croatia with his wife Federika and their cat Jutko who is becoming intolerable following his rise to fame on Youtube.

Visit Nemo James at his website: 
Views his videos at YouTube at

Book Review: ONCE WE WERE KINGS by Ian Alexander

Be drawn into an epic battle of good versus evil in a world of shape-shifting spirits, deception, and powerful forces in ONCE WE WERE KINGS by Ian Alexander.

Render is a mistreated orphan from the Kingdom of Valdshire Tor. He escapes his life of slavery to seek his true identity and stumbles upon conspiracies.

Ahndien is the sole survivor of a heinous raid on her village in the Eastern Kingdom of Tian Kuo. She sets off in search of her father, who has been captured by Torian troops.

Both discover abilities they never knew existed. Neither realizes their destinies are entwined.

They meet as enemies, but soon discover they have been called to unite their kingdoms against a powerful enemy that threatens to destroy both realms.

I'm not a huge fan of fantasy novels, but I saw this book reviewed at Life in Review in May, and I knew I had to have a copy. Render and his brother Kaine are orphans who live as slaves for different masters; so Render feels alone much of the time. He wants to know more about their parents, but Kaine isn't too keen on sharing. These boys are plucked out of slavery and brought to the Citadel, where Render finds more than he bargained for: like preternatural powers that allow him to wield the destructive forces of nature.

Ahndien, is a peasant girl living with her family--father, mother, and younger brother. While she is in the woods, her peaceful village is attacked, killing everyone. This pivotal moment will change Ahndein's life forever. With the help of Lao-Ying, she discovers she can manipulate fire. They make haste to the Sojourners Council, but are hurt and angry by what they find. When Render comes along with his group--his cat, Greifer and Branson, the bratty son of Lord of Argon, Ahndien is quick to assume the worst of those who live in the opposing village.

The influence of C.S. Lewis is clear throughout ONCE WE WERE KINGS. As I was reading, I couldn't help but think of Narnia. Not that the stories are so similar, but there were moments as the plot unfolded that reminded me of the feel of these classic novels. Valhandra is like Lewis's Aslan. As I got to know Branson, he reminded me of the Pevensies' annoying cousin Eustace. Readers of the Bible will find passages that feel familiar as Valhandra speaks to Render.

My only tiny pet peeve in an otherwise perfect young adult fantasy novel, is the use of a third person omniscient point of view. Now, I'll admit, this is my personal pet peeve, so it's nothing to do with the book itself. This is a fast-paced, action-filled adventure story that will draw in older teens and adults alike. Using this point of view, however, pulls me out of the story when the narrator tells the reader something a character doesn't see or know.

I could easily see ONCE WE WERE KINGS on the silver screen. It's outstanding! Lovers of this genre won't want to miss this one.

Author: Ian Alexander
Publisher: Dawn Treader Press
SRP:  $3.99

I received a mobi version of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinions. I received no monetary compensation of any kind to provide this review.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Interview with Michael Reilly, Author of Fresh Heir

Joining us today is Michael Reilly, author of Fresh Heir. Michael is a writer and an entrepreneur. Fresh Heir is is first novel and was released in May 2011. He is also founder and chief executive officer of FitDivs Inc, a company that promotes and rewards healthy living.

Welcome to The Book Connection, Michael. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I currently live in Charlottesville, Virginia, with my wife, Lara, and my four children. I have two boys and two girls, ages 5-13. I received a bachelor’s degree in history from Yale University and a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. I spent the first 15 years of my career working in a family media business, first as a journalist and then as an executive. For the past few years I have focused my energies on my “creative” dreams, which include writing and entrepreneurship.

Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in Port Washington, NY, which is on Long Island. My father was a stockbroker and my mother a homemaker. I am the youngest of three boys.

What is your fondest childhood memory?

Taking family vacations into the mountains of upstate New York and New England, mostly in the winter. It instilled in me a love of mountains and cold weather, which is an integral part of my personality today.

When did you begin writing?

I began writing novels about ten years ago, but I would say the foundation of my writing was established in childhood. As the youngest, I was quite a bit separated in age from my older brothers, and there weren’t many other kids in my neighborhood. So I often had to “invent” friends to play with, and I believe this has always been instrumental to my creative abilities.

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

I write on the go. When I am in the midst of a project, the creative process for me takes place whenever and wherever. By the time I actually sit at a computer, it’s really just a process of tidying up what I have already crafted someplace the grocery store, on the youth athletic fields, in the name it.

What is this book about?

Fresh Heir is a novel about the challenges of parenting in the modern world. It takes a satirical poke at the trend toward helicopter parenting and the penchant for parents to over-schedule their kids for fear they won’t be successful (the kids and the parents). So many non-fiction books have addressed this issue, but as we know, those types of books can be very dry and academic. My goal was to write a fictional story that would convey a substantive message within the scope of an entertaining narrative. I hope my readers will laugh along the way, but in the end, stop and give serious thought to the underlying issues.

What inspired you to write it?
 A topic I encounter every day as a parent. I think all parents today have witnessed obsessive parenting in one way or another. The “helicopter parent” is the pejorative term we have for it now, I suppose. Perhaps some of us are doing it and don’t even know it. Even for parents who are making conscious efforts not to get caught in the trap, it is very difficult to ignore the pressure.

When I was applying to college, it was considered outstanding to have straight A’s, participate in after school clubs, and play varsity sports. You could write your ticket anywhere. Now, that’s almost like a joke. If you haven’t started your own Internet company, played in the New York Symphony, or discovered a biomedical breakthrough, you’re considered a weak candidate for top colleges.

I didn’t set out to write a novel that I expected would change this trend. But I do hope it will spotlight the absurdity of our compulsion to push and push our kids without any respect for the proper balance that is so important to a peaceful childhood.

Who is your favorite author?

It’s nearly impossible to pick one. I could probably list 20 quite easily, but if I had to narrow it down, I would list these four, each from a different time period: Charles Dickens, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Updike, and Richard Russo. As a history buff I am also a huge fan of James Michener and David McCullough.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Right now, primarily on

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

Yes, my website is: There is a link to my blog from the site, or it can be reached directly at:

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

You can’t publish if you don’t write. This maxim holds true in so many facets of life. You can’t get in shape, for instance, if you don’t exercise. But I think the challenge for writing is that it becomes so hard to engage in the process if you don’t see the payoff...i.e., your name in print. The fact is you will never get your name in print until you start writing. So write furiously, even if the end result gets no further than your own hard drive. Just keep writing...and writing...writing. Publishing will surely follow.

What is up next for you?

I have several ideas in mind my for my next book. The themes are similar to the one in Fresh Heir. Right now, however, I am focusing my energies on another creative compulsion I have: starting companies. I am working on a start-up company that incentivizes and rewards good health.

Is there anything you would like to add?

I appreciate the opportunity to be interviewed and am grateful to anyone who takes the time to read my book.

Book Spotlight: Chase by Larion Wills

At eighteen, Chase was given a choice: keep his mouth shut about who gave him the beating or go to prison for rape.

Once learning there was one thing Tiffany hadn’t lied about, he returned to see his son.

Meaning only to watch from the distance, he received a startling invitation to stay—with disturbing results.

Tiffany disappeared years before, both her parents were killed, all three incidences under suspicious circumstances. The lone family survivor, Tiffany’s younger sister, inherited the family fortune and his son. Grateful to Sydney for the care she has given Ryan, fascinated by her, he couldn’t help but sense something lurking, just beneath the surface.

Read an excerpt!
Billmore gave a snort. “Getting involved with her is not a good idea, Lomen. She’s a worse mess than Tiffany ever was. Between the school, things like football, and church, we all keep a pretty tight monitor on that kid of yours. She takes good care of him for whatever her reasons.”

“Don’t tell me you’re buying into Reed’s theory.”

“If you knew her better, you wouldn’t think it’s so farfetched. She gets an idea in her head, and she never lets it go. As long as she stays on her meds and doesn’t feel threatened, she seems to be okay.” He hesitated, took a breath, and spoke with determination. “I could never prove a thing, but my advice to you is do not do anything to set her off and get out of here before she decides either you’re a threat to her in some way, or she isn’t going to get what she wants out of you.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I don’t want any more unexplained disappearances or deaths. I can’t prove she had anything to do with Tiffany’s disappearance or her parents’ accident, but my gut tells me she did.”

“Tiffany called the other night.”

Billmore scoffed. “Right. I played that game with her for awhile. Wasn’t anyone on the other end, right? Ask her sometime to show you how the phone program on her computer works and can be set to dial a number any time.”

He gave a good spit. “Nearest we could figure was she and Tiffany got into it over the baby. Sydney wanted it, and Tiffany wouldn’t let her have it. They were screaming bloody murder over it one night, and the next Tiffany disappeared.”

“You’re crazy.”

“No, but Sydney is: crazy, smart, and tricky. Her father kicked her out because he was afraid to have her in his house anymore. She had the kid so things went along pretty good until she went back, demanding money from him when she’d tapped out the trust fund from her grandmother. Cain was strapped and couldn’t come up with what she wanted. He called me after she left, scared out of his skull. She threatened to kill both of them, and guess what, two days later they were both dead. Tiffany disappeared years before, presumed dead by everyone around here, both parents end up dead, the order of their deaths a little too convenient, and who’s left to inherit it all?”

“What’s the order of dying got to do with anything?”

“He disinherited Sydney, Tiffany, and that kid of yours. With him dead first, his wife inherited, even if it was only for a few minutes, a tricky little fact Sydney was well aware of. The old lady had a will, just a formality to accommodate the terms of her trust fund. See, Sydney’s grandmother hated the old man and had a soft spot for Sydney. She set up the trust so that when she died the money went to Mrs. Gibson with the condition that if she died before it was all gone what remained went to Sydney. Mrs. Gibson wrote that in her will, but didn’t bother specifying that it only pertained to the trust. Complicated, I know, but since the old man died first, it all went to his wife, and with some legal maneuvering, Sydney ended up with everything.”

Storing all information away for a later analysis, Chase told him, “I heard her raze Reed over not investigating the accident that killed her parents.”

He gave a snort. “Smoke screen for your sake. I investigated that accident, inside out. Someone ran them off the road is the only explanation. There wasn’t any ice on a straight stretch of good road. The old man didn’t have a heart attack or stroke either. I made sure there was an autopsy. With all of them gone, there was no one left to oppose her with a couple of nice insurance policies thrown in.”

He scoffed and spit again. “Within days of their deaths, she started liquidating everything her father spent his whole life to build, even before the funeral she didn’t go to. God knows where she’s squirreling the money away. How did she get you to go to bed with her the first time? Knowing her, it was devious as hell. Or does she tease you and make you hopeful the way she has that poor sap Reed?”

Chase’s feature set, but he couldn’t help thinking of how that cat had been tied up in the middle of the night and how revealing her pajamas had been.

Billmore chuckled. “Don’t feel bad. You aren’t the first she’s suckered in with her vulnerable innocence look. She uses it on every man she meets. It makes them want to protect her. If you want my advice, you’ll run while you’ve got the chance. Put enough distance between you to be safe. If you want that kid, go after him through the courts.”

“What kind of evidence do you have?”

“Not enough to arrest her. The only thing I can prove is motive. I told you, she’s clever as hell.”

“All you’ve got is gossip?”

“I’ve got a damned sight more than gossip,” he growled as he shoved up straight. “I warned you. That’s all I can do.”

Larion Wills, a multi-genre author, also writes under the name of Larriane Wills. From contemporary romances to science fiction to historical, she holds up to her tag of ‘two names, one author, thousands of stories.’

Born in Oklahoma, but raised in Arizona, she feels a native to the state and has settled in the high desert country. In a quiet rural area with a family who tolerates her writer’s single-mindedness, she presents us with a collection of contemporary romances, many laced with paranormal settings, while still producing unique westerns and science fiction stories. All with strong characterizations and suspenseful plots, they are capable of dragging you into a story in a genre you thought before you didn’t care for. At her website, , you can keep abreast of releases under both pen names, keep up with new releases through various publishers, and she invites you to contact her at Visit the author's blog at and find her on Facebook at

Guest Blogger: 9 Ways High Achievers Can Realize Optimum Life Balance By Sheri Riley

Today we have a special guest blogger. Sheri Riley is the founder and Chief Partnership Strategist of GLUE, Inc. and creator of the Exponential Living program ( - a ground-breaking initiative that helps individuals create balance among life's key areas in ways that promote a higher standard of excellence.

Life’s true tragedy is that, when someone dies, the misfortune is not only the death itself but also the untapped potential and unrealized dreams that die with them. This “compounded loss” happens more often than not. Far too many of us spend 100% of our time on only 10% of who we are today, and can be tomorrow.

“According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many of us work eight hours per day, commute for at least one hour per day, spend at least two hours eating, watch TV for five hours each day and spend nearly two hours a day using a computer for leisure activity, such as online games, research or social media,” Riley notes. “That’s nearly 18 hours, which doesn’t even include the multiple hours needed for our evening slumber. Clearly, we spend more time on what we aren’t than we do on who and what we are…and want to be.”

For high achievers in particular, there isn’t a problem understanding HOW to get things done but rather there are challenges balancing it all. So many successful people spend the majority of their time on one area of their life where they excel, but perpetually feel unfulfilled.

With this in mind, Riley offers these 9 methods to help high achievers tap into the other 90% of “who they are,” beyond “what they do,” and realize greater life balance, joy and fulfillment in kind:

Method 1: Healthy Living is about More Than Diet!

There is more to life than the race to achieve more money or a fancy job title. And, there is more to living healthfully than what food you ingest or what physical exercises you do. Other lifestyle decisions, such as those related to marriage, parenting, and friendships, all factor into one’s healthy sense of self. Healthy living requires being true to yourself and being truly “present” when you’re with loved ones. Healthy living is also a frame of mind. If your thoughts are self-destructive, this negativity will manifest itself in your body through stress, anxiety and other adverse physical conditions, and can undermine your personal and professional relationships with others.

Method 2: Peace and a Positive Mind – Your Defender in the Face of Distractions

Cultivating and maintaining a peaceful life must be a goal of paramount importance. Distractions and life’s distresses both small and large will pull you away from this goal each and every time you allow it. Your thoughts are the training ground and spring board for your overall disposition and perspective on life. Many accomplished people never pause to revel in or acknowledge their success. They are constantly striving for what’s next. While not entirely a bad thing, when your desire to achieve becomes bigger than your desire to BE, your existence will be likened to a hamster running in an endless circle, never at peace and never at a point of rest.
Method 3: The Importance of Having a Giving Heart and Spirit

Most know that giving back to society and those in need is one of the most meaningful activities we can engage in. In fact, many very successful people believe that giving is directly tied to their continued success. Having a giving heart and spirit not only creates more opportunities for you to provide for others, but doing so allows more opportunities for your continued success to manifest in your life, and others: what impacts one impacts us all. Achievement and accomplishments come from the work of our hands and minds, but true success and fulfillment comes from giving of the heart. Not just donating your time through charitable work or financial donations, but also allocating precious time to family and friends. Being present and accessible to loved ones is the ultimate gift for others…and yourself.

Method 4: Live in Your P.O.W.E.R ™

High achievers should strive to tap into their personal P.O.W.E.R., which is Perspective, Ownership, Wisdom, Engagement, and Reward. Perspective cultivates recognition of what is draining your life and what is enriching your life. This leads to Ownership of your relationship with yourself and with others. It allows you to establish your personal boundaries and define what and where you are to give of yourself and your time. This understanding of your own truth is a major component of Wisdom, which is gained from how you implement your life experiences into your life and evolve your thinking and decisions through expanding your knowledge and good judgment. This enlightenment brings consistent Engagement in the quality of your life. Your desire, energy, and personal encouragement will motivate you to commit yourself to stop spending 100% of your time on 10% of who you are - this is your Reward.

Method 5: Stop Working So You Can Maximize your Opportunities

When you are constantly working, you seldom recognize your achievements. Without taking these moments to recognize your accomplishments, you are constantly stretching for what’s next and never appreciating and enjoying what you have completed. This cycle often leads to burn out, health issues, personal relationship issues, and low self esteem. And, many times, it does not have a clearly defined end of moment of victory. When you change your mindset from working to maximizing opportunities, you reposition your thought process and how you approach your life. You are able to separate and segment your work from other areas of your life because maximizing the opportunity has a beginning and an end. You are quicker to recognize when to end or remove your self because you understand what you are spending your time on is meant to be an opportunity not a burden you spend time on with out benefit or value.

Method 6: Happy is a Choice; Contentment and Joy are Lifestyles

One of the definitions of the word overwhelmed is “to give too much of a thing.” When you truly desire to live a life that is fulfilled in all areas, you are destined to have more to do than you have the time, energy, and ability or help to accomplish or complete. The feeling of being overwhelmed is when you have what you need and are overflowing with what you want. When you have so much success, opportunity, potential, clients, projects, options, prosperity that you can’t “handle” or manage everything, your reaction is that you are overwhelmed. So what about those times when you’re overwhelmed with challenges, struggles, health issues, and other life concerns? Know the plan for your life is perfect and the struggles are never to defeat you but to make you stronger and uncover your true power. Surrender and find peace living in the overflow, joy and abundance of being overwhelmed.

Method 7: Building Lasting Confidence

Believe it or not, whatever you want is available to you if you have the confidence and belief that you can have what you want and that you deserve it. This does not mean confidence in our degrees, our knowledge, job titles, position, social status, etc. Instead, it is about having a pure and honest confidence in the person you are. Many successful people have achieved career success through their fear of failure. And while such fear can be a powerful and effective motivator, it can also limit your sense of accomplishment and impede growth in other areas of your life. For many high achievers, confidence is built on external validations like applause, accolades, wins, or promotions. And their ensuring quest to feel this rush keeps them from being engaged in other areas of their lives. True confidence should come from a life well lived and enjoyed…not the proverbial feathers in your cap.

Method 8: The Courage to be Faithful

Stepping out of your fears and into your greatness requires great courage. Sometimes we are so busy with the work of life that we don’t sit still and take the time to listen to our heart. Being courageous means not allowing life to steal, kill, or destroy your dreams, hopes, aspirations, and plans but living in the now, the moment, the presence of your power to receive life, and the fullness of all life has to offer and even more abundantly. It takes courage to be honest with yourself, acknowledge your personal truth, and be present in your quest to live that truth. The easiest thing for high achievers to do is be successful. But living in the fullness of who they are - and want to be – while also maintaining their success takes true grit.

Method 9: – Exponential Living

Exponential Living is achieved through excellence in your Personal, Spiritual, and Emotional health, and balance in all aspects of your life – with yourself and others. It is achieved by building and maintaining spirituality; loving and caring for yourself (hobbies, exercise, “me” time); spending quality time with and appreciating yourself and your family; recognizing your success; and living in your own truth. When living exponentially you are comfortable with who you are, separate from what you do. It’s when you live in a state of true contentment, being present with yourself and others while also pursuing and maintaining excellence in all aspects of your life.

Often, high achievers are limited by their success because they are only living in the accomplishments in one area of their lives. They have achieved or have the drive to achieve high levels of professional success but are not truly fulfilled with their lives overall. Or, they have reached their career goals but now know there are other facets of life they want to pursue but don’t know what/how/why/when. Exponential Living gives such high achievers the power of being true to themselves and achieving a balance between work, family, friends, healthy living, and spiritual commitment to manifest a life that is genuinely complete and content.


Sheri Riley is the founder and Chief Partnership Strategist of GLUE, Inc. and creator of the Exponential Living program ( - a ground-breaking initiative that helps individuals create balance among life's key areas in ways that promote a higher standard of excellence.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Interview with John Podgursky, Author of The One Percenters

Joining us today is John Podgursky, author of The One Percenters.

John lives in Brooklyn. He’s spent the last 15 years traveling the U.S. of A., trying to make sense of it all. He’s still confused, but sleeps well at night knowing that nobody else knows any better, and in the end
we’re just going to die anyway.

Welcome to The Book Connection, John. Can you tell us where did you grow up?

I was raised on Long Island, but I have the travel bug. At one point, I lived in 8 states in 13 years.

When did you begin writing?

I won $5 in a writing contest in first grade. I wrote about a magical zebra. It was a very inspiring moment in my life!

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

I need my writing environment to be eerie. Nighttime by candlelight. I can't write in a cafe.

What is this book about?

Edward Caine survives his beloved wife, the seventh victim of a cunning serial killer. During the grieving process, he notes that modern medicine and distorted economics have skewed survival odds within society. Survival of the fittest has become defunct, with the weak and weak-minded allowed to pass on their genes, provided they are suitably funded. Edward is predestined to become a one-percenter, an agent of nature given the job of eliminating the weaker persons from society. He learns that his task requires the discipline to discern between the people he wishes would die and those who should. The One Percenters is reflective in nature, and challenges the social and religious differences among all of us.

What inspired you to write it?

I studied anthropology in college. I'm always considering what makes us tick, especially our base qualities, and what defines sanity and intelligence. I like to look at humans as primal creatures, and one day the story just popped.

Who is your favorite author?

I've read all of King's work, but Bill Watterson has also been a huge influence. In the writing of "Calvin & Hobbes," he injects profundity into a "simple" medium. He is, in my eyes, brilliant.

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

I have decided to get one for my next novel, now that I know a bit about the process.

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

I worked on it for two weeks a year for eight years-- whenever I felt renewed for the challenge.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

You can buy it in paperback at amazon or, or as an e-book at:

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

Unfortunately I am a Luddite, but I welcome e-mail at

What is up next for you?

I am constantly writing short stories, and now I'm toying with a new novel.

Is there anything you would like to add?

The next time you see someone in trouble, offer your help. It could be ME that's in trouble. And I'll do the same. You never know in what awful place you might find yourself tomorrow. Peace!

Thanks for spending time with us today, John. We wish you the best.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Interview with S. Prestley Blake, Author of A Friendly Life

Joining us today is S. Prestley Blake, co-founder of Friendly Ice Cream Corp. I recently reviewed his autobiography, A Friendly Life. You can read that review here.

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

You and your brother Curtis opened the first Friendly store in Springfield, MA during the height of the Great Depression. Did either of you have fears that your business would fail because of the economic climate?

Regarding whether we had any fears of the business failing: I would say, “No.” We had plenty of energy and determination and no fear of hard work, and not much to lose but our time. If it did fail we could chalk it up to experience and use the lessons learned for our next endeavor.

A second Friendly store opened in 1940. Why did you choose West Springfield?

I was looking for another location while Curt was in college and found the West Springfield location. It was in a good community, on a main road, near good housing, and it was available. Also, it had 200 feet of frontage, was properly zoned, and the price was reasonable.

When the United States entered WWII, you closed both stores and you and your brother joined the war effort. What was it like coming back to the business after the war? Were people happy to see you back? Did business pick up where it left off once you returned?

When the war was over everyone was happy, I was eager to get going on expanding the business. I believe Curt shared my enthusiasm, though possibly to a slightly lesser degree. Business was good as everyone was joyful and anxious to get back to normal.

Through the years, Friendly Ice Cream Corp has grown and prospered. What do you feel are the keys to Friendly’s success?

I feel our key to success was being very careful with money management and not overextending ourselves. Of course there are many other factors such as hiring good people to assure good quality and service, but on the fiscal side I was especially desirous of avoiding debt. I always felt that if we owned everything outright with no debt, no one could take it away no matter how bad things got!

The suit you brought against former Friendly Chairman and CEO Donald Smith in 2003 cost you a great deal of money and damaged your relationship with Curt. Do you have any regrets?

My suit against Smith cost a lot of money, which I did not expect to get back, because in a derivative suit any money awarded would go to the company, but toward the end, Smith and his entrenched board could avoid going to court by selling the company, and that’s what they did. At the same time they avoided the proxy battle, which would have thrown them out. I for one wanted to expose all our evidence in court, but I felt I should consider the other shareholders that I was fighting for instead of my own personal feelings. Of course, I have no regrets as far as the battle went because I got all my money back and then some. My only regret is that my brother did not see the whole story, and still does not understand the fine points of the suit or the Harvard study. If I had conceived of the trouble ahead when we sold the company I would have bought him out and continued to run the business with selected partners.

What is different about the modern day Friendly’s versus the stores you first opened? The menu comes to mind, but are there other things? Are you satisfied with how the company has evolved?

Today’s Friendly’s, in my opinion, has far too complicated a menu. As for the management style, I can’t comment, as I am not close enough to the management to understand their motivations.

According to the book, it sounds like you’re enjoying retirement right now. You’ve built a successful business from the ground up, traveled the world, and met many interesting people. Is there anything you haven’t done or would still like to do?

I have done many exciting things, but now I am happy to stay nearer to home. I have so much I love to do here, and I am out on the property most of the time---always busy.

At the end of A Friendly Life, you offer some advice in your Epilogue titled, “What I Tell Kids.” If you could only impart one piece of advice to the young men and women of America just starting out, what would it be?

My advice to anyone now is, “If you can’t pay for it now, don’t buy it.”

Is there anything you would like to add?

I am happy that I wrote the book. Many people have written to tell me it has inspired them. It makes me happy to think that I can be of some help to others.

Thank you for spending time with us today. I wish you the best.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pump Up Your Book Live! September 2011 Author Chat on September 30th!

Strike up the band and join the chorus…Pump Up Your Book will be hosting the September 2011 Authors on Tour at a chat/book giveaway party on Friday, September 30, 2011 starting at 8 p.m. eastern (7 p.m. Central, 6 p.m. Mountain and 5 p.m. Pacific) and ending at 10:30 p.m. (eastern time). Tell your book friends that not only will this give them an opportunity to chat with their favorite authors there will be a huge giveaway at the end of the chat!

* 8 p.m. eastern * 7 p.m. Central * 6 p.m. Mountain * 5 p.m. Pacific *

Here’s how it will work:

The party will kick off at our brand new chat room with an approximate 2 to 3 hour chat in which all authors touring with Pump Up Your Book in September 2011 will get a certain time slot to answer questions. All time slots are listed below so you’ll know when your favorite author is going to appear. When the party winds down, it’s time to dish out the goodies! All winners will be announced below after the chat is over so be sure to check this page to see if you’ve won a prize! If you are a winner, you have 48 hours to contact us in order to win your prize. We will be using to determine winners.

In order to get into the chat room, you will need to click on the link above and put in your real name. Only those with real names are eligible to win prizes. Ignore the part that says password, and hit Login. The chat room will magically appear before your eyes!

The doors will open at 7:45 to allow everyone to get in and the first author will start at 8:15. Because of the amount of authors participating, we have extended our usual end of the month chats to 3 hours. You do not have to stay the full 3 hours to win prizes. All you have to do is ask one of the authors a question to be eligible.

You have to be logged in under your real name as no prizes will be distributed under false names.

Once the chat starts and the first author is announced, all questions will then be directed to that particular author for the 10 minute timed segment. If you ask a question during the time limit and the it’s time for the next author, the author still can answer the question. OUT OF COURTESY TO THE AUTHOR, PLEASE NO CHIT CHAT WHEN THE AUTHOR IS TAKING QUESTIONS.

Because the authors only have 10 minutes to answer your questions, it would help to get acquainted with them before the chat and start writing down your questions to ask. To help you come up with questions (you must ask a question to be eligible to win prizes), here are the authors participating in the chat:

These prizes will be given away!

■Tamara Elizabeth will be giving away a paperback copy of Fabulously Fifty and Reflecting It!

■Richard Blunt will be giving away a paperback copy of Lucas Trent: Guardian in Magic!

■Greg Messel will be giving away a paperback copy of Illusion of Certainty!

■Bri Clark will be giving away a digital copy of Glazier!

■Mary Carter will be giving away a paperback copy of The Pub Across the Pond!

■Allan Leverone will be giving away a digital copy of The Lonely Mile!

■Vincent Zandri will be giving away paperback copies of The Remains and Moonlight Falls!

■T.M. Wallace will be giving away a paperback copy of Under a Fairy Moon!

■Christa Allan will be giving away a paperback copy of The Edge of Grace!

More prizes announced soon!

Schedule of Events (please again note these times are in Eastern Standard Time, please consult top of page to convert it to your time)

8:00 – 8:15 – This time is designated for everyone to get into the chat room, get comfortable.

8:15 – 8:25 – Tamara Elizabeth

8:25 – 8:35 – Richard Blunt

8:35 – 8:45 – Greg Messel

8:45 – 8:55 – Bri Clark

8:55 – 9:05 – Mary Carter

9:05 – 9:15 – Allan Leverone

9:15 – 9:25 – Vincent Zandri

9:25 – 9:35 – T.M. Wallace

9:35 – 9:45 – Christa Allan

9:45 – 9:55 – TBA

9:55 – 10:05 -TBA

10:05 – 10:15 – TBA

10:15 – 10:25 – TBA

For more details and to read information about participating authors, please visit the Pump Up Your Book ! website at

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Guest Blogger: Shobhan Bantwal, Author of The Full Moon Bride

Today's special guest is Shobhan Bantwal, author of The Full Moon Bride. Shobhan was supposed to be here on September 8th, but I messed up my calendar. Sorry for the delay in getting this posted.

What makes a marriage-love or compatibility? Passion or pragmatism? Shobhan Bantwal’s compelling new novel explores the fascinating subject of arranged marriage, as a young Indian-American woman navigates the gulf between desire and tradition…

To Soorya Giri, arranged marriages have always seemed absurd. But while her career as an environmental lawyer has flourished, Soorya is still a virgin, living with her parents in suburban New Jersey. She wants to be married. And she is finally ready to do the unthinkable…

Soorya’s first bridal viewings are as awkward as she anticipated. But then she’s introduced to Roger Vadepalli. Self-possessed, intelligent, and charming, Roger is clearly interested in marriage and seems eager to clinch the deal. Attracted to him in spite of her mistrust, Soorya is also drawn into a flirtation with Lou, a widowed colleague who is far from her family’s idea of an acceptable husband.

In choosing between two very different men, Soorya must reconcile her burgeoning independence and her conservative background. And she must decide what matters most to her-not just in a husband, but in a family, a culture, and a life…

Stories or Viewpoints?

By Shobhan Bantwal

I believe that all writers inevitably project in their writing their pet theories and biases, intentionally or otherwise. Even journalists, who are expected to remain objective, cannot help but infuse their articles and blogs with their own personal views. Television has spawned a new breed of journalists who air their political and social opinions without fear of possible repercussions.

Fiction has come a long way, too, since the Internet has turned into a world theater where anyone and everyone can air their opinions on pretty much any subject. As a result, writers have begun to put many of their personal obsessions and hang-ups in their novels. Genres are now blending in the most interesting patterns, with vampires and policemen working together to solve mysteries, women falling in love with men who can turn into wolves, panthers and specters instantly. I often wonder if these writers have a secret desire to live such unusual and mysterious lives themselves.

As for myself, the good thing about being a fiction writer in the 21st century is that I have all the freedom to write what I want—artistic license. As a story-teller I can pick and choose my topics and spin tales around them. The characters and scenes come purely from my imagination but they are often based in reality to some degree. I can write sad, humorous, mysterious, frightening, serious, or crazy stories, so long as they keep my readers reading and wanting more.

I put many of my own anxieties into my novels. For example, I am terrified of snakes. I have always had an obsessive fear of reptiles in general. At least two of my novels have references to snakes and how they scared the dickens out of one or more of my characters. I am also a hopeless romantic, and it shows in my stories. There is always a romance blossoming between my protagonist and her hero. My stories would be bland without that romantic angle, so I pepper them generously with romance.

Besides authoring five novels, Shobhan Bantwal is a freelance writer and award-winning fiction writer featured in publications such as The Writer, India Abroad, Little India, India Currents and New Woman India. She regularly donates a portion of her book earnings to women's charities. For information on her books, contests, events, recipes, photos, contact, and favorite charities, visit her website at or her facebook page at

Abundantly More by Veronica Janus Giveaway Winner

Our congratulations go out to Meredith. She won a copy of Abundantly More by Veronica Janus. I'll contact her now and she'll have 72 hours to respond with her mailing information. If I don't hear from her by then, I'll select a new winner.

Disappointed you didn't win? Pick up a copy at

Thanks to all who participated. Keep an eye on our sidebar for more giveaways coming soon!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Interview with Debra Brenegan, Author of Shame the Devil

Joining us today is Debra Brenegan, author of Shame the Devil .

Debra worked as a journalist and taught at Milwaukee Area Technical College. She currently teaches English and Women’s Studies at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri.

Welcome to The Book Connection, Debra. It's wonderful to have you with us. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I grew up in the Milwaukee area and graduated with a B.A. in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I worked as a journalist and taught at Milwaukee Area Technical College before beginning my graduate work. I received my M.A. and Ph.D. in English/Creative Writing from The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where I also taught. I now teach English and Women’s Studies at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. For my fiction, I have received a Ragdale residency and was a recent finalist for the John Gardner Memorial Fiction Prize, The Cincinnati Review’s Schiff Prose Prize, and the Crab Creek Review Fiction Prize. My work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Calyx, Tampa Review, Natural Bridge, The Laurel Review, RE:AL, The Southern Women’s Review, The Cimarron Review, Milwaukee Magazine, Phoebe, and other publications. My novel, Shame the Devil, is a historical account of nineteenth-century American writer Fanny Fern (SUNY Press, Excelsior Editions). When not teaching, writing, or spending time with family, I enjoy cooking, gardening, reading and traveling.

When did you begin writing?

Writing has always been a part of my life, but I didn’t always think of myself as a writer. For example, I loved reading and writing more than any other subjects in school, although I did well in all subjects. I kept a journal from the time I was about 9-years-old, and I wrote a short story when I was in sixth grade and gave it to everyone as a Christmas present. I started out as a science major in college and, one day, while walking in the rain, it dawned on me how much I missed my writing classes. Even though I did well in Chemistry, Biology, and Physiology classes, I didn’t feel the same passion toward them that I felt for the occasional literature course I allowed myself. I decided then and there, to change my major to journalism so I could try to make a living as a writer.

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

My favorite time to write is in the morning. The afternoon works fine, too, and I can force myself to produce in the evening, if I have to. I find that my sharpness fades as the day wears on – most things I write after 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. end up being deleted anyway, so I usually don’t even bother writing if it is that late.

What is this book about?

Shame the Devil is a novel based on the life and works of nineteenth-century American novelist, journalist and feminist, Fanny Fern. The book covers Fanny Fern’s life (1811-1872), but concentrates on the 1850s and 1860s when her literary career became established and her personal life was a rollercoaster of highs and lows. Fanny Fern was the most popular, highest paid, most published writer of her era. She outsold Harriet Beecher Stowe, won the respect of Nathaniel Hawthorne and served as literary mentor to Walt Whitman. She scrabbled in the depths of poverty before her meteoric rise to fame and fortune. She was widowed, escaped an abusive second marriage, penned one of the country’s first pre-nuptial agreements, married a third man eleven years her junior, and served as a 19th-century “Oprah” to her hundreds of thousands of fans. Fanny Fern’s weekly editorials in the pages of The New York Ledger over a period of about twenty years help to chronicle the myriad of controversial issues of her era while her novels, and the critical response to them, both in her day and through subsequent eras, make clear how America’s literary tradition began to and continues to define itself. This novel strives for historical accuracy, not only regarding Fanny Fern and the events of her life, but in regard to other historical figures of her time including Walt Whitman, Catharine Beecher, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harriet Jacobs, Charles Dickens, Nathaniel Hawthorne, N.P. Willis and James Parton.

What inspired you to write it?

In graduate school, I took a nineteenth-century American Literature class with a professor who told me, “I know a writer you’re just going to love.” This writer, Fanny Fern, wasn’t on our reading list that semester, so, he added her book, Ruth Hall, to the reading list of a course I took with him the next semester. And, he was right – I adored her! I became so interested in Fern and her amazing life that I started writing papers about her. I applied for and got a graduate school fellowship to visit Fern’s archives at Smith College in Massachusetts. As I learned more about Fanny Fern, I couldn’t stop telling people about her. And people were amazed with her rags-to-riches story. They couldn’t believe that they had never heard of her. When it came time to write my dissertation, I combined my interest in creative writing, literature and Women’s Studies to write a historical novel about this forgotten journalist, novelist and feminist. I wanted everyone who hadn’t heard of Fanny Fern to learn about her; I wanted to bring her back to life.

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

I have always tried to be a member of some sort of critique group. The group I’m in right now consists of two other creative writing professors and one retired creative writing professor. We’ve been together for over four years and try to meet about once a month. Not only do we give each other very thoughtful and supportive feedback on our projects du jour, we catch up about our families and teaching – in short, we’ve become friends. I am so grateful to my writing group members because they have unfailingly encouraged me and have helped me to become a better writer.

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

I’m looking for one!

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Shame the Devil is available through,,,,  and

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

Indeed! My website is  and my blog is

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

My video trailer can be found on youtube:

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

The only difference between an aspiring author and a published author is perseverance. Keep at it! If you want to publish your book, and you don’t give up, you will do just that.

What is up next for you?

I am currently working on another novel, set in Missouri, and on a short story collection.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Thank you very much for interviewing me!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Interview with Bri Clark, Author of Glazier

Joining us today is Bri Clark, author of Glazier.

Bri is a real example of redemption and renewal. Growing up penniless in the South, Bri learned street smarts while caring for her brother in a broken home. She watched her mother work several jobs to care for their small family. Once her brother could fend for himself, Bri moved on to a series of bad choices including leaving school and living on her own.

Rebelliousness was a strong understatement to describe those formative years. As a teenager, her wakeup call came from a fight with brass knuckles and a judge that gave her a choice of shaping up or spending time in jail. She took that opportunity and found a way to move up from the streets. She ended up co-owning an extremely successful construction business. She lived the high life until the real estate crash. She moved west and found herself living with her husband and 4 kids in a 900 square foot apartment.

She now fills her time, writing, blogging, leading a group of frugal shoppers and sharing her southern culture. Her unique background gives her writing a raw sensibility. She understands what it takes to overcome life’s obstacles. She often tells friends, “I can do poor. I’m good at poor. It’s prosperity that I’m not used to.” Bri and her husband Chris live in Boise. Bri is known as the Belle of Boise for her true southern accent, bold demeanor and hospitable nature.

Bri boasts several positions in the publishing industry. An author, professional reviewer, blogger, and author platform consultant she enjoys all aspects of her career from the creation of story to the branding and marketing needed to make her books successful.

Welcome to The Book Connection, Bri. I'm thrilled to have you here. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m a romance author specializing in the sub genres of suspense, paranormal and fantasy. In the industry I also contribute as an author platform consultant, social media marketer, blogger, acquisitions editor, and professional reviewer.

Where did you grow up?

The south…specifically North Carolina and Tennessee.

When did you begin writing?

High School. I specialized in poetry and was featured in several small publications.

What is this book about?

Glazier is the first in a series about supernatural spies that do what other spies can’t. Marie Kincaid has a total loss of memory and depends completely at first on her mentor and partner Henry Tenison. He is not only the only other known Glazier but a large, handsome British spy. Henry has lived his whole life as a selfish scoundrel…but now there is Marie and everything changes.

What inspired you to write it?

It began as an exercise in venting some frustrations with family and took on a life of its own.

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

No. But I do have a couple of key people that specialize in keeping me honest that act as my critique partners, editors and beta readers.

Who is your favorite author?

Currently Stephanie Laurens, Hannah Howell. But that will change in a month. I’m flighty like that.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Astraea Press:

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

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

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

Professional editing, formatting and cover.

What is up next for you?

I’m finishing up the first draft of Eternal Witch the sequel to Familial Witch. As well as Mafia Seduzione. It’s the sequel to Caffe Seduzione. Both are set to release this year.