Friday, June 29, 2012

And We're Off

Heading down to the Outer Banks tonight. I'm bringing the laptop, but I won't be blogging every day during the week. I hope, however, to have a couple of first chapter reviews for you and I'll try to write up reviews as I read through the books I'm bringing with me.

Interview with Tony Rauch, Author of Eyeballs Growing All Over Me...Again

Tony Rauch has three books of short stories published. The first two are more adult related, though young adults may enjoy them depending on if they understand the themes - “I’m right here” (spout press) and “Laredo” (Eraserhead Press). The third story collection is geared to Young Adults - “Eyeballs growing all over me . . . again” (Eraserhead Press). An additional Young Adult title is forthcoming in the next few weeks – “As I floated in the jar.” Samples can be found at –

He has been interviewed by the Prague Post, the Oxford Univ student paper in England, and Rain Taxi, and has been reviewed by the MIT paper and the Savanna College of Art and Design paper, among many others.

These stories are imaginative, whimsical, dreamy, absurd, surreal, fantasy, sci fi, and fairy tale adventures. The underlying themes relate to fragility, uncertainty, impermanence, the mysteries hidden in everyday life, a sense of discovery, escape, concealment, ennui, regret, loneliness, technology run amok, eerie vibes, irresponsible behavior, confusion, absurd situations, surrealism, modern fairy tales, story starters, etc.

Where did you grow up?

In St. Cloud, Minnesota, which is in central Minnesota. The interesting thing is I grew up in a suburb, but right on the edge of town, so near rolling grass fields, creeks, a junk yard, sand dune, swamps, and groups of trees (not really forests, but some pretty thick). So a great landscape to explore and wonder about – What’s in those trees? Where does that creek lead to? So a great place to get your imagination going.

When did you begin writing?

I began writing in grade school. My friends and I wrote stories, skits, and drew drawings which were basically stories in pictographic form. It was more for art or writing classes, more about assignments, but we also did it as a social, fun thing too. That gave me a good start – that fun aspect and started building my conceptual, investigation, and curiosity skills.

In college I took courses in creative writing for elective credits and enjoyed them. I was published in the school literary journal several years in a row, then some friends started their own lit journal, which continued to publish my stories, then a few years later they contacted me about doing a collection of my work, which became my first book, I’m right here (Spout Press).

What is this book about?

"eyeballs growing all over me . . . again" is a 140 page short story collection of imaginative, whimsical, dreamy, absurd, surreal fantasy, sci fi, and fairy tale adventures. These fables will make great story starters for young adults and reluctant readers. Some of the pieces are absurdist or surreal adventures that hearken back to imaginative absurdism, sci-fi, and fantasy of the 1950s.

With themes of longing, discovery, secrets, escape, eeriness, surprises, and strange happenings in everyday life, readers will delight in these brief but wondrous adventures -

- a man comes home to discover a Bigfoot-like creature watching his TV.
- a giant robot pays a visit to a couple.
- the new kid at school has some unusual toys to share.
- an inventor creates an attractive robot in order to meet women.
- a girl becomes so ill she has her head replaced with a goat head.
- someone wakes to discover little eyes growing all over his body.
- small, hairy creatures come looking to retrieve an object they had misplaced.
- a boy finds an unusual pair of sunglasses in a field.

These short stories will give a reluctant reader a sense of accomplishment after reading.

What inspired you to write it?

In general, I really like short adventures. They create entire situations in such a brief flash. They can get your mind thinking about possibilities, inventions, and adventures. They have the power to take you anywhere. Growing up I really liked short sci-fi and absurdist stories, and Richard Brautigan’s “Revenge of the lawn”, Roald Dahl’s books, and “a man jumps out of an airplane” and “wearing dad’s head” by Barry Yourgrau. These books showed me that stories can be anything – a brief list or just a beginning. So they opened my mind. I just like creating and being imaginative, so writing was a good forum for that as paper and pens at school were free, whereas a musical instrument or sporting equipment were expensive and available only on a limited basis.

Also art and music inspires me to create. When walking my dog or at the supermarket something will just pop into my head, almost like a day dream, and my mind will start to knit it into a story with a resolution. Though I also like open ended “story starters” as they get you thinking. You have to provide your own conclusions, so the endings may be ambiguous, they are not always prescribed to you.

“Eyeballs” and “As I floated” were inspired by story starters and trying to get young adults away from video games and “reality” TV, and getting them to think, opening their minds to other possibilities.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Amazon would probably be the easiest place to get my last 2 books, and the new one coming in a few weeks.

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

Probably the same advice any other writer would give as it is tried and true – Just be yourself. Write what you want, what you like, what you want to see. Don’t copy what has already been done. Bring what you want to the story, what you’re looking for. Put your own ideas in there. The other points would be to write every day, read a lot, send your work out to journals, just have fun with your writing, and don’t follow the so-called rules too strictly as they may only narrow your possibilities.

What is up next for you?

A new short story collection will be coming out in a few weeks. It is similar to my last book “eyeballs growing all over me . . again.” Here is the description -

“as i floated in the jar “ is a short story collection of imaginative, whimsical, dreamy, absurd, surreal fantasy, sci fi, and fairy tale adventures. These fables will make great story starters for young adults and reluctant readers. Some of the pieces are absurdist or surreal adventures that hearken back to imaginative absurdism, sci-fi, and fantasy of the 1950s.

With themes of longing, discovery, secrets, escape, eeriness, surprises, and strange happenings in everyday life, readers will delight in these brief but wondrous adventures –

- a lonely girl finds a small spaceship in the woods.
- a stranger extracts a baby from a man waiting for the bus.
- a farmer invents gadgets to fight off infiltrators leaking in from another dimension.
- a jar falls from a passing wagon, spilling a strange liquid that turns a mud puddle into something else.
- a gang travels into the past to escape a regression plague that slowly turns people back into primates.
- strange creatures abduct a man and try to sell him to a different set of strange creatures.
- a man gets a verbally abusive amorphous blob as a roommate.

These and other adventures await the adventurous reader.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Book Review: Executive Actions by Gary Grossman

Lovers of political thrillers are certain to want to get their hands on Executive Actions by Gary Grossman.

In a sinister plot that is all too real, an assassin takes aim at presidential hopeful Teddy Lodge. Adored by the media, when the bullet meant for Lodge kills his wife, the outcome of the election is irrevocably changed. Special Secret Service Agent Scott Roarke is sent in to investigate. What he uncovers is a deadly plot hatched in the old days of the Soviet Union that could alter America's allegiances in the Middle East. Instigated by a power hungry Middle East heir to the throne, a sleeper is awakened to take a prominent role in American life.

While I don't read them as often as I would like, political thrillers are one of my favorite genres. In this superb offering from Emmy Award-winning television producer and print and television journalist Gary Grossman, readers find a story of a decades old plot that is thrust into action by a power hungry heir to the Libyian throne. Spies lurk everywhere and a dangerous assassin is working to tie up loose ends.

Grossman does a fine job in creating Scott Roarke and the numerous other characters filling the pages of Executive Actions. He digs deep and comes up with a winner. His sense of setting and pace create a thrilling tone for the book. It's a can't put down until you get to the last page kind of novel. There are a lot of characters to keep track of and several new characters are introduce in the later half of the book as cabinet members of the current administration and military personnel for a mission, but Grossman's style allows the reader to keep up and keep track of everything. I did, however, have one challenge with the book. Details are important, but when a reader is forced to work through extraneous details for fear of missing anything, it takes a tiny bit away from the experience. For example, does the reader need to know the details of how the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution were proposed and ratified? Now, there's a good reason Katie, an attorney and Scott's girlfriend, is reading the U.S. Constitution, but how the Bill of Rights was proposed and ratified isn't important to her discovery. And just like the lengthy, although tastefully handled, sex scenes, I want to move on and find the clue (the detail) that matters most in order for me to figure out the puzzle alongside Roarke.

Executive Actions is an intriguing, suspense-filled thriller. Grossman has created a plot that could play out in American today--and it's frightening to think about it. I look forward to reading the sequel, Executive Treason.

File Size: 897 KB
Print Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Diversion Books (January 11, 2012)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English
SRP: $2.99 for Kindle (Also available for Nook and directly from the publisher)

I received a free electronic version of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation for this review.

This is the 32nd book I've read for the following challenge:

It is the 9th book I've read for the following challenge:

It is the 19th book I've read for the following challenge:

It is the 7th book I've read for the following challenge:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Book Review: Nicholas by Cheryl Holt

A sizzling historical romance awaits readers in Nicholas by Cheryl Holt.

Now dedicated to the army, Nicholas Price vowed never to return to Stafford Manor. Since he has no interest in the estate, he hires Benedict Mason to oversee it. Mason's draconian policies lead Nicholas into the path of Emeline Wilson.

Emeline has lived her entire life at Stafford Manor. After her father’s death, she is the sole caregiver for her twin young sisters. When the citizens can no longer tolerate Mason’s dastardly behavior, they nominate the over-educated Emeline as their spokeswoman.

Tempers soon clash, but Emeline is certain a better man hides within the roguish Nicholas. Danger abounds from those determined to keep them apart. Will their love survive the wickedest of enemies?

If you’re looking for a hot romance, you don’t have to look any further than Nicholas. Memorable characters and a riveting plot have the reader turning pages quickly. It’s a book that is difficult to put down. While its formula is predictable, its appeal is in how the story unfolds. Holt is an engaging storyteller. With Nicholas and Emeline, she has created two people who for every reason under the sun shouldn’t be together: her innocence versus his experience; her pure reputation versus his scandalous behavior; her desire to find the good man inside him and his need to assure her that no such man exists. And yet, you know in the end, it will all work out. Getting there is half the fun.

What I truly liked about this book was Holt’s decision not to make it solely about Nicholas and Emeline’s romance. Her secondary characters are equally well-developed. Nicholas’s younger brother, Stephen, has his own story that is woven into the mix. In some ways his story is connected to Nicholas and Emeline, but in other ways it’s totally separate. The one thing that confused me is the first time we meet Stephen, he acts very different than the next time we meet him. And though his character sometimes slips into the angry man we meet in the opening chapter, I felt he experienced a sudden change that went unexplained. It might be the way in which we meet him in the beginning, but it bothered me throughout the book.

Nicholas is a superb read. I would read it all over again if I didn’t have so many books in my TBR pile. This is a great book to take to the beach or lounge with in front of the pool.

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Samhain Publishing (July 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609287053
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609287054
  • SRP: $16.00

The author provided me with a free ecopy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation of any kind for this review. 

This is the 31st book I've read for the following challenge:

It is the 8th book I've read for the following challenge:

It is the 18th book I've read for the following challenge:

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Vacation and Other Fun Stuff

Bodie Island Lighthouse,  North Carolina

Well, the first full week of summer vacation has been an adventure. The Lil Princess (8) had pink eye last week and now the Lil Diva (10) has it. I'm praying I don't get it or I might not be able to drive to North Carolina on Friday. Hard to drive when you can't see.

I'm excited about vacation this year. This is the first vacation in years where I'm not planning to work. Yes, I could write, but instead I plan to catch up on reading and enjoy the time away. I'm contemplating not bringing my laptop, but I'll probably bring it because I like my mine better than the hubby's and I like to check the news. I won't be posting here as often as usual, but there will still be posts up.

The main reason I won't be working this year--my last day at Pump Up Your Book is on Friday. I've enjoyed the last five years working in online book promotion, but now I feel God is leading me in a new direction. I'm still praying for guidance. I'm not certain of his plans. It's scary making a change. I've made many wonderful friends during my years with Pump Up Your Book. I got the chance to read a ton of great books. I'll still be hosting authors on virtual book tour for them, but the clients featured here will not be mine. I'll be updating my disclosure policy.

Thank you for your continued readership. The Book Connection has grown a lot this year. We have more subscribers and more daily hits then ever before. I am truly grateful that so many people are enjoying the site.  Here's hoping you have a fabulous summer!

Guest Blogger: Tina M. Games, Author of Journaling by the Moonlight

You're a mother, but who are you really? The moon brings great comfort to mothers during challenging periods in their lives, particularly during a time when they've felt a loss of personal identity. Motherhood brings much joy, but it can also bring anxiety, depression and confusion. Working with the phases of the moon as a source for personal transformation, mothers who are challenged by the loss of personal identity are gently guided on a path of self-discovery. Using a variety of creative methods, including journal writing and visual collage techniques, this book allows for personal reflection with many opportunities to answer the question, "I'm a mother, but who am I really?" Designed as a workbook with a journaling format, the author shares her personal story while weaving in stories from other mothers. She also introduces moon sign astrology and moon folklore to lay the foundation for a spiritual, moonlit journey toward an authentic life filled with purpose, passion and creative expression. Embark on an intimate adventure of self-exploration - and discover your full moon.

Mother's Guilt - who, what, when, how why?
by Tina M. Games

Thanks for the opportunity to join you on your blog today, Cheryl! And thank you for your interest in my book, Journaling by the Moonlight: A Mother's Path to Self-Discovery and its accompanying deck of 54 journaling prompt cards.

I believe that mothers are a significant part of the "ripple effect" - that will transform the world into a more loving, more nurturing place. Imagine for a moment a "pebble thrown into a pond." It creates a ripple that goes on and on and on.

When a mother is living life with complete authenticity, she's subconsciously giving permission for her kids to do the same. She's truly at her best - creating powerful change for her family, her community, and for the world at large. It's all part of "the ripple."

It's my belief that "a happy mother makes the best mother" - and our kids really do want to see their moms happy!

But what if something goes awry - and "the ripple" stems from a place of frustration, confusion, disconnect or unhappiness?

My work with the moon phases came out of my own experience of connecting with the moon during a really dark period in my life. Shortly after the birth of my first child, and after making some fairly significant life changes at the same time, I fell into depression - a place that felt so foreign to me, a place where I felt like I had fallen into a black hole with no way out. It was during this time, a period that spanned over two years, that I had disconnected from everything that made me happy. Because my son suffered from chronic illnesses related to serious colds and severe ear infections, I made a very difficult choice to give up a successful career in order to care for my son full-time. I hadn't realized until this experience how much of my identity was tied into my career. Without it, I felt very lost and very unhappy.

It was during this time that I fell back on a great passion of mine - journal writing. And as a mom of a baby who did not have a normal sleep schedule, I found myself exhausted and emotional much of the time. So night after night, after I'd get my son settled and after my husband went to bed, I'd grab my journal and retreat to my favorite chair - beside a big bay window where I caught a glimpse of the moon. It was the moon that taught me the meaning of transition. I'd watch this beautiful lunar goddess, night after night, move in and out of her various phases. And before long, I began to connect her phases with my own emotional tides.

I noticed that the moon always began in darkness and gradually, she'd move into full light - and cycle back around again. And I noticed the contrast between dark and light - the darkness of the night sky against the beautiful full moon light. I started connecting to this - as if I was being divinely guided through my own transitions of dark and light. I began to notice the ebbs and flows of my emotions. There were good days and bad days.

So when I came to the point of writing my book, I wanted mothers to realize that every human transition begins in darkness and gradually moves into light, where we get a glimpse of what is possible. And then we retreat, to ponder the many ways we can manifest these possibilities into reality. This requires deep work, where we step into our own truth and into our own power - and where we can emerge in the most authentic way possible. This is what I call the Blue Moon phase - when we finally realize that we are here on this Earth to be WHO we are, to put our personal thumbprint on the world in the most truthful, most authentic, most unique way possible. Each one of us are individuals being divinely guided on our own purposeful path.

I'm a big believer that each and every one of us are living OUR life story - in whatever way that story needs to play out. And for many of us, this story involves lessons.

In order to learn OUR lessons, we must journey through the challenges. This is where we grow - emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. And for mothers, these challenges often include guilt.

Guilt is a normal emotion for every mother. We're always feeling guilty about something we've done - or not done - for our children. As mothers, it's very natural to put our kids above ourselves. And while this may be necessary some of the time, it's not necessary all the time. As the airlines so smartly proclaim, "Always put the air mask on yourself before assisting a child or another adult passenger." In other words, "Take care of yourself, so that you can assist in the caretaking of someone else."

I often ask moms to describe what the guilt is about - and we work from there, trying to unravel its deeper meaning. What is the guilt trying to teach us about ourselves? What is it that we need to work through so that guilt doesn't rear its head time and time again? And how can releasing the guilt help us become better mothers?

I've devoted an entire chapter in my book and an entire moon phase in my self-discovery process, to mother's guilt. This is how big a role it plays in motherhood and it’s why a mother needs to face it head-on. See guilt for what it really is - an opportunity to learn more about ourselves and why it plays such a significant role in our life story. There's a lesson wrapped up, beautifully disguised as mother's guilt. What is that lesson - for you? Once you discover it, you can shift the grip it has on you.

Because moms are natural role models, our kids are observing all the time. There's a lot of truth in the saying, "Monkey see, monkey do." In other words, when a mom is modeling the value of following her heart, her kids "get it" - much more than they would if she was just saying it. Kids feel energy. They know when a person is happy and when they're not. So why not be happy - and let the ripple flow?

Wouldn't the world be a much better place if we were all following our hearts? If we could truly live life with passion and purpose, everything would have a richer and deeper meaning. It would create a ripple of positive and loving energy that could literally heal the world.

Self-empowerment is a beautiful thing!

* For more information about my book and the work that I do, please visit: and receive my 12 best tips for journal writing.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Interview with Jack Whitsel, Author of Shadow of Kings

Jack Whitsel is a native Californian, but has made Oregon his home since 1982. He holds a Bachelor's Degree of Finance from Portland State University, but studies medieval history in his spare time. His favorite genres are fantasy and historical fiction with a medieval emphasis. Shadows of Kings, the first novel of the Dragon Rising Series is the love child born of these two passions.

"I love the elements of fantasy when mixed with the gritty aspects of a medieval society. In the worlds I create, there are neither citadels of shimmering glass nor any utopian realms."

The final contributing catalyst to Jack's creative process comes from his two sons, Josiah and Noah. They remind him how important an active imagination can be, and are the first to hear his tales of diabolical wizards and valiant knights.

"Because of my boys, I still believe in Santa Claus, the Easter bunny, and the tooth fairy."

Official website:

When did you begin writing?

I was creative writing as soon as I could form coherent sentences. My initial stories involved the adventures of my toy micronauts. And after that...Boba Fett needed some extra attention. Could you blame me? After The Empire Strikes Back, that Bounty Hunter was the coolest character in the Lucas universe.

What is this book about?

Shadows of Kings is the first book in the Dragon Rising Series. During this period, a savage race called the Harhn have begun a major incursion into the Hugue - a collection of Human Principalities. The story evolves around Lord Baudouin and Lady Lucia, as they attempt to rally the armies of Humanity to confront the threat. But unfortunately, there are other forces at work, including the decadent Darkfey. And amidst the maelstrom, Lady Lucia, as a Dragon Maiden, must also come to terms with the agendas of her Order and assist Lord Baudouin against the Harhn Horde.

What inspired you to write it?

I have always been inspired by heroic knights fighting impossible battles - both historical and in fantasy. But in truth, Shadows of Kings is simply a mosaic of many things I've experienced. Everything from watching old black and white movies, playing legos with my sons, to going through a nasty divorce, all had a hand in my creative process.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

My books will be available in independent retailer stores, in select Barnes and Noble stores in the Pacific Northwest and Online - & Barnes&

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

Yes I do, as a matter of fact. It was done by COS Productions and can be found on YouTube,, Goodreads and a handful of other sites.

What is up next for you?

For starters - I'm looking forward to my book release party this weekend. I intend to drink profusely to honor the literary lushes that preceded me. Ernest Hemingway...Edgar Allen Poe - may they look down upon me as I piss myself. Wait...I'm not in college anymore, so that just won't do. I guess I'll just catch a good buzz and call it a night. Secondly - I will continue my work on the Dragon Rising Series, while trying to reach out to my fans as much as possible.

Is there anything you would like to add? Thanks so much for allowing me to visit your site, and a big hug to you, Cheryl, for taking the time to put this interview together. Writing is an incredible journey, and the fact this is my debut novel, I feel like a babe in the woods - consumed with fear and excitement. I appreciate all those who have taken the time to share this journey. And I need to pat myself on the back. Like Bill Maher, I have a potty mouth, but I kept it pretty tame during this interview. "See mom! I can be in public without embarrassing myself and others."

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Business of Writing: Writers as Virtual Book Tour Consumers

A friend forwarded a link to this blog post from June 20th about virtual book tours. Romance author Michele Gorman asked the question, "Are Blog Tour Coordinators Writer Advocates or Exploiters?" In the article, Gorman explains she sent a request to several historical fiction blogs looking for a review of one of her books. She received a response not from one of the bloggers she contacted, but from a virtual book tour (VBT) coordinator who also happens to review books for one of the blogs she emailed. This VBT coordinator then proceeded to outline her services. This led Gorman to wonder how many VBT coordinators use their book blogs as a front for their businesses.

Gorman has a valid point. She requested a review and the person not only didn't have time to review her book, but tried to sell her something. She didn't know the person she was contacting also coordinated virtual book tours. That said, are coordinators truly out to exploit authors?

Gorman's first concern is that many new writers may think they have to pay to get their books noticed. She feels because VBTs have become so popular and new coordinators are popping up all the time, inexperienced writers might assume paying for a VBT is the norm. I don't agree.

Type "coordinating a virtual book tour" into Google and the first four results are about coordinating your own VBT--three of them happen to be a workshop I gave at this year's PROMO DAY and two articles I wrote, but the information is there. Type in "coordinating your own virtual book tour" and you'll come up with a bunch of results too. There's really no reason any author should think they must pay someone to coordinate a virtual book tour.

Gorman also asks if your book is getting on the right blogs. My philosophy might be different from some others, but it's based upon years of experience blogging and promoting books. While I feel it's definitely important to be featured on blogs in your genre, there is something to be said for being featured at a book blog that covers multiple genres. Readers have their own tastes. I read primarily mysteries, Christian fiction, nonfiction, true crime, and poetry at this blog. You don't always know, however,  how a book will touch you until you've read it. I once read a narrative about a man who survived an airplane disaster. I don't like airplane disaster stories (I'm afraid of flying), but because this book was authored by the man's son, I felt it would have a more human element, than other stories in that genre. It's one of my favorite books. If the author had never queried me about it just because I didn't read much in his genre, he would have missed out on a five-star review and I wouldn't still be talking about his book years after I read it.

Yes, it's important to be featured on a blog that has a healthy following, but there is no indication that an author's direct email to a well-trafficked blog will be more successful than one from a VBT company. Most bloggers are dedicated to the VBT companies they work with. A relationship is already in place. The more time I spent coordinating virtual book tours, the larger my database of dedicated bloggers grew. That's an advantage over an author going it alone. Once an author has coordinated her own VBT, however, it should be easier to do the next time.

The last two questions Gorman posed perplexed me. "How do they handle bad reviews? Is there any promise, implied or overt, that a blogger will be favourably disposed toward your book?"

I'm hoping the answer to the last question is no, because if not, I wouldn't want to do business with that company. There is no way any form of marketing can guarantee a favorable review. To do so would be highly unethical.

As for the question about what a VBT company does about a bad review, I can only share how I've handled them. If a client's book received a less than favorable review, I would email her and ask if she wanted me to promote it using our regular methods. Sometimes the answer is yes and other times it is no. I'm not certain why VBT companies would be held responsible for a bad review. If you work with a publicist or even contact bloggers on your own, there is no control over bad reviews. Reading remains subjective and being able to accept all kinds of reviews is part of being an author. Even though I had many contacts by the time Little Shepherd came out, I still had to accept reviews that were less than 100% positive. Just because an author pays to promote her book doesn't mean she should expect more favorable reviews.

I've always seen VBT companies as similar to that of any contractor. My husband and I hired a lawn service last year. Could we buy the chemicals and spend some weekends tending to the lawn? Sure. We did it for years. We opted to pay a lawn care service so that we could spend that time relaxing and enjoying our kids. Some authors want to learn how to coordinate a virtual book tour. Others prefer to use that time in another way, so they hire VBT companies.

We must never forget that while writing is a creative business, it's still a business. Writers are consumers. They need to consider all their options and choose what works best for them. You don't stop calling a plumber when you need one just because of a bad experience. You find a new plumber. It's unfortunate that one bad experience tainted how this author sees all virtual book tour coordinators. Hopefully that will change. There are many wonderful people in the business who work hard for their clients and got into online book promotion because of their love of books.

What do you think about virtual book tours? If you are an author, have you coordinated one or hired a company to put one together for you? What was your experience like? If you're a reader and blogger, do you host authors on virtual book tour? What have you enjoyed most about hosting authors? What would you like to change about hosting authors?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Guest Blogger: Dr. T. William Hefferan, Author of JOBS: How the United States Can Reach Long-Term Full Employment

In JOBS, Dr. T. William Hefferan, DBA, MBA, CCIM, CPM provides a stunning approach to how we achieve long-term full employment in the United States. Learn how the essential shift in how we need to think about jobs and employment accelerates our timely transformation into a knowledge worker economy.

This profound shift invigorates our heritage and foundation of innovation and entrepreneurship – restoring our global leadership in education and learning – leading to a dawn of new discoveries, creating exciting new jobs and unique careers.

Learn how everyone benefits from this journey to a steady stream of rewarding jobs as Dr. Hefferan demystifies our journey to long-term full employment with his original entertaining presentation style.

In JOBS, the unemployed as well as employees wanting a better job learn how to secure their perfect job; employers learn how to attract and retain top-tier employees; and entrepreneurs feel personal growth as they discover new ways to put their ideas and initiatives to work.

Learn the value of ethics and authenticity in the workplace and why everyone in an organization can be a leader -- adding value to the company and the employee’s career growth.

Join Dr. Hefferan in this contemporary revolution to a brand new America that will always have meaningful and rewarding jobs.

We Need Women Leaders

May 7, 2012

Women have been making tremendous strides in the workplace not only in filling top jobs as integral assets to any organization but also in the movement toward equal pay for equal work. I am afraid that our presumptive Republican nominee for president has set that path to full equality in the workplace back several years.  

What is most disconcerting is that Mr. Romney could end up as the president of the United States and set women's struggle for equal pay for equal work back even further. He seems to imply he wants all women to stay at home. 

Mr. Romney needs to stop offending an entire voting blocs of women who take his so called “gaffs” to heart. Many women have the clear feeling that these comments are not just slight slips of the tongue. Romney’s recent gaffs in his public appearances appear as repetitions of the same theme. As a result, many voters feel these comments represent his deep feelings that women in the workforce may not be as relevant or important to the workforce as men.  

He defended his comments by saying that women working at home have a very difficult job. We all certainly agree that job is perhaps the most important job of all. However that is not the only place that women should be assigned. Sorry Mr. Romney, we need women in the workforce too. 

As I started thinking about Romney’s gaffs, I immediately thought of the person that rocketed my career beyond what I ever could have imagined.  Anne Frahm was not only the first great leader I worked with, she represents the quintessential leader and mentor everyone should have access to. 

Back when I was 19 or 20, I was a volunteer for the Republican Party in the 400 Club, as it was called back then. You had to donate at least $400.00 to get in. A tidy sum for me back then. Even though I was absolutely as low on the totem pole as one could possibly be in the Republican Party, Anne had a way of determining who was willing to work hard and could benefit from her leadership and mentoring.  

A transformational leader can portray dozens of styles of leadership, and Anne knew precisely how to invigorate me to greater heights. She and I quickly became fast friends with mutual respect for each other.  And, it was there that I learned what a true great leader was all about. 

Anne had the ability to make you feel as though you were the most important cog in the wheel and that your abilities were unique to the organization.  However, she would not hesitate to let you know when you made a mistake or needed improvements.  As a transformational leader, she knew when and to what degree to apply the right amount of pressure. Every employee in an organization benefits from great leadership. 

Anne had the unique ability to transform herself into an autocratic leader as needed, and control important meetings without appearing to be a “bitch” as might be the case if she were not as skilled.  She presented authenticity in her every word, particularly as she exhibited caring for those she mentored. With this type of leader, you are energized to excel in an organization. Your passion for the work grows even further driving any organization to greatness.  

Mitt, we need leaders like Anne. Please try not to discourage them.

About Dr William T Hefferan
With over 23 years of experience as President/CEO of a 100 employee company, Dr. Hefferan decided to put his corporate work experience together with his academic background and solve one of our most significant societal problems. His unique approach to explore ways to end the persistent ups and downs of unemployment includes a peer reviewed research study he designed specifically to discover ways to solve the problem.

Dr. Hefferan shares with readers his life-changing event that compelled him to dedicate over three years of his life to find these sound solutions, creating a blueprint for America to reach long-term full employment.

Jobs and unemployment concerns are definitely some of the biggest issues facing the United States at this time. If you would like more information about JOBS by Dr Hefferan or about his organization – Wisdom in the Streets, please visit his website

Political views expressed by our guests do not necessarily reflect those of the owners of this blog.

Book Spotlight: Rip-Off by Mar Preston

High-tech burglary and murder are bad for business in the upscale, tourist-destination beach city of Santa Monica with its leftist politics, rich homeowners, and huge homeless population. Bad for Detective Dave Mason of the Santa Monica Police Department. 

A deadbeat burglar has been found in the upscale Santa Monica beach condo of a playboy studio exec. The dead body must link up with a string of high-tech burglaries, and the Chechens Mason keeps meeting must link up with each other somehow, but how? 

The investigation leads him down mean streets into the dark world of embezzlement and an explosion that almost kills him. The stakes rise as the investigation send Mason to the Hollywood Russian community where he is warned off by the FBI and Homeland Security. A bungled take down results in two murders of key informants. Fingers are pointed. Mason is outranked and the Department blamed.

While Mason brings an international whodunit to an end, restoring his own and the Department’s reputation, he finds his relationship with his community activist girlfriend teetering on the edge.


I grew up in northern Ontario and love its lakes and forests. But I lived in Santa Monica for decades watching big money, land development, and politics clash. 

Getting a good murder mystery novel out of what goes on behind the scenes in grassroots politics, glitzy businesses, and developer skullduggery makes all those dreary Santa Monica city council meetings worthwhile. 

I live now in a village in the California mountains not that far from the edge of the Los Angeles sprawl. There's too much to do here: I'm writing crime fiction seriously, but I can't get away from the SPCA, local environmental politics, and the writing community.  

Life is good.

Author’s website:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

First Chapter Review: The One Percenters by John Podgursky

This is another first chapter that has been submitted to the blog directly from the author. It is listed as a psychological thriller novella and was released by Damnation Books.

BLURB: Natural selection has become unnatural. Having dealt with the vicious murder of his wife, Edward Caine takes his rightful place as a One-Percenter, eliminating those not fit for the human race. He must fight his instinct to use his role for revenge; he is after those who live on only because of money and medicine. The weak-gened are not fit to breed, and it's the job of Edward and his brethren to see that they don't. But can he finish the job before his own mind betrays him? He is an agent of the Earth. He is a One-Percenter.

COVER: Not my favorite, but definitely appropriate for the genre. The skull inside the capital O is a nice touch and speaks to the death aspect of the book. I would glance at the back cover blurb after seeing this book on the shelf to find out what it is about.

FIRST CHAPTER: Narrating this story is an unnamed male who has tied Samantha Jones to a tree in the forest. He tells the reader some details of how they came to be where they are. Carefully dropped clues provide information about him and Samantha's fate.

KEEP READING: I'm definitely intrigued. The style of this opening chapter is unique in that author John Podgursky has created a character who has a very calm, friendly manner. He reminds me of a serial killer or a person who massacres a bunch of people one day and the news reports from those who knew who claim he was such a nice, quiet guy. Though we don't know the male character's name in the first chapter, we can assume by the first person narrative that it is Edward Caine who is speaking. The reader also doesn't know his history yet, so Podgursky has quickly created a scenario where she is eager to discover why Edward has Samantha tied to a tree. Even though it is assumed no good can come out of this event, Edward admits he doesn't know what he is going to do with this young woman. His personality is one that doesn't create a sense of anger or hatred on the part of the reader, which is smart, because in psychological thrillers there is much to be gained in getting inside the main character's head and creating a sense of empathy for him.

I would continue reading The One Percenters for a bit to see how it evolves. The book blurb doesn't indicate a story I would generally be interested in, but the first chapter is well-written and has captured my attention. I might be pleasantly surprised by the rest of the book.

  • Paperback: 166 pages
  • Publisher: Damnation Books, LLC (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 161572012X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1615720125
  • SRP: $15.25
  • Also available in a Kindle edition. 

The author submitted the first chapter of this novella to me via email, so I can provide my honest opinions. I received no monetary compensation for this first chapter review.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

JOBS: How the United States Can Reach Long-Term Full Employment by Dr. T. William Hefferan,

I have to apologize. I went to create this guest post for today and discovered I have a dead laptop. Not quite sure what the problem is or how long it will take to fix, but I have no access to any of my files or email right now. Hopefully this will be solved easily, but today's guest post will need to be rescheduled. Here is information about JOBS: How the United States Can Reach Long-Term Full Employment.

In JOBS, Dr. T. William Hefferan, DBA, MBA, CCIM, CPM provides a stunning approach to achieving long-term full employment in the United States and ending the repeating cycles of high unemployment. Dr. Hefferan reveals the essential shift in how we need to think about jobs and employment as the U.S. accelerates its timely transformation into a knowledge worker economy.

This profound shift will invigorate our heritage and foundation of innovation and entrepreneurship – including restoration of our global leadership in education and learning – leading to a dawn of new discoveries that create exciting new and unique careers.

With over 23 years of experience as President/CEO of a 100 employee company, Dr. Hefferan decided to put his corporate work experience together with his academic background and solve one of our most significant societal problems. His unique approach to end the persistent ups and downs of unemployment includes a peer reviewed research study he designed specifically to discover ways to solve the problem.

Capitalizing on the focus of his doctorate – organizational psychology and social science research — in 2009 and 2010 Dr. Hefferan interviewed job seekers, employees, employers, HR professionals and CEOs across the United States using unique questionnaires he designed to uncover unique solutions to the problem.

Each group has their own thoughts as to the needs and wants of the other; however, Dr. Hefferan’s concept was to look at those viewpoints side-by-side to determine if there were gaps in the communications strategies and perceptions of each group that may affect optimal employment relationships. The results are surprising as they reveal the differences and misperceptions of each of the groups — employers and employees — Dr. Hefferan interviewed.

These differences lead to less than optimal hiring and often to poor employment relationships. Obviously the performance of the company is significantly affected and the employees are not only disengaged at work, but many dislike even showing up for another day at a job they don’t like.

These startling results and conclusions from his research study lead him to develop a series of easy to understand solutions called the 10 building blocks of EMBER. The EMBER employment relationship is one in which both the employer and the employee concentrate on making the work relationship a mutually beneficial and rewarding one that meets each other’s needs and wants for both the short and long-term. The path to reach EMBER is described in these 10 building blocks,

  • Passion for Work
  • Finding an EMBER Job
  • Connecting with EMBER Employees
  • Creating an EMBER Environment
  • Ethics and Authenticity
  • Personal Branding
  • Online Social Networking
  • Leadership
  • Education and Retraining
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship

JOBS draws the reader deep into visualizing the solutions through heartfelt real-life personal stories and experiences of the research participants regarding all aspects of employment. Readers clearly see how everyone can benefit from this journey to create a steady stream of beneficial and rewarding jobs. Job seekers and employees learn how to secure their perfect job, employers learn how to attract and retain top-tier employees, and entrepreneurs learn the value of putting their ideas and initiatives to work.

Readers learn the value of ethics and authenticity in the workplace as well as why everyone in an organization can be a leader, adding value to the company and the employee’s career growth. Education and retraining, innovation and entrepreneurship are shown in their increasingly critical role in putting every American to work in their dream job.

Just like the financial melt-down that caused the Great Recession, we will continue to face new and complex challenges, such as globalization and economic challenges that could again cause massive unemployment with little warning. Together with the findings of his study, germinal research, and the input from contemporary experts and authors in the area of employment, this groundbreaking book provides a blueprint for America to reach long-term full employment. Dr. Hefferan demystifies our journey to ending persistent ups and downs of unemployment with his original entertaining presentation style.

Readers are energized as they see how they can participate in this contemporary revolution to a new America that will always have meaningful and rewarding employment.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Dream Book Critic Reviews

Dream Book Critic Reviews aggregates critic reviews of books to help you discover new books. They are the Rotten Tomatoes of the publishing world. You can search by title or author, or view books by genre.

A score appears underneath each book cover, and they only recommend books with an aggregated score of over 70%.

You can also find giveaways at Dream Book Critic Reviews.

Sound like a site you would enjoy? It is currently under invite only. You can visit them at Use the access code: "discover_books" to browse through their books. You can also apply to become a book critic.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Book Review: John Locke: Philosopher of American Liberty by Mary-Elaine Swanson

In this compelling narrative, the late Mary-Elaine Swanson shares the story of John Locke, an English philosopher, physician, and theologian whose writings influenced three revolutions and garnered him admiration from Voltaire, Rousseau, and many American revolutionaries, especially Samuel Adams.

John Locke: Philosopher of American Liberty  provides an in-depth look into Locke's life and his influence. Well-researched and cited, Swanson's motivation for writing this book is to refute the claim that Locke's political philosophy was rooted in "a godless rationalism." In order to do this, the author went back to the writings of people who knew Locke and also reviewed his own words.

Broken down into five sections, this book discusses the life of John Locke and the times in which he lived. It then goes on to discuss Locke's influence on the Glorious Revolution, the American Revolution, and the French Revolution. Finally, Swanson discusses how American law schools began to reject the Law of Nature as fundamental to understanding the intentions of the drafters of the Constitution of the United States, and how the adopting of an evolving view of law that constantly changes according to the people's wants, has resulted in a change in constitutional law and the decisions handed down from the Supreme Court. The final chapter offers proposed solutions for how to return the judiciary to its purpose as intended by the framers of the Constitution: "to adjudicate specific cases, but not to set public policy."

John Locke: Philosopher of American Liberty is a timely book that is so important today because it shows clearly that Locke believed life, liberty, and property were inalienable rights from God and legitimate government has no authority to take them away. Government is actually bonded to protect and preserve liberty. Though Locke's views have been manipulated over time, Swanson proves through multiple cited examples that American liberty's roots are Biblically based. Swanson believed it is important for every American to know the ideas behind the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The late author has done a great service in correcting the modern notion that our Founding Fathers were deists. The proof is in the writings of the man who greatly influenced how these men framed our form of government, as much as it is in their own writings. But more than that, Swanson's book shows how far away the branches of our government have come from what was originally intended, and offers possible solutions on how to return to our roots.

•Paperback: 432 pages
•Publisher: Nordskog Publishing (May 1, 2012)
•Language: English •ISBN-10: 0983195730
•ISBN-13: 978-0983195733
•SRP: $19.95

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinions. I was paid a fee to promote this book with a virtual book tour through Pump Up Your Book. That fee did not include a review of any kind. I have received no monetary compensation of any kind for this review.

This is the thirtieth book I have read for the following challenge:

Thursday, June 14, 2012

My Journey to Publication - Part 6

Gee, did I drop the ball on this one. My last post was on June 29, 2010. Whoops!

To refresh your memories, it was 2006. I had participated in my first Muse Online Writers Conference and secured my first paid writing gig. There was all this talk about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) at the conference, and I figured it would be a great way to get my career moving in the right direction.

I performed whatever research I could, and geared up to get writing on November 1st. There are a lot of reasons I didn't win NaNoWriMo that year, but the main one is the same reason I don't plan to participate this year--I don't enjoy writing that way. If you ask me, NaNoWriMo is similar to blogging: either you love it or you don't. I love blogging. I don't love NaNoWriMo.

I truly needed more time to perform research for the novel I wanted to write. In addition, I just didn't write that fast. Thousands of words a day were not what I produced. Now that I've switched to the children's market, I find myself more productive.

In 2006, however, I still felt I would be writing for adults. And while I haven't given up on projects for people above the age of 16, I'm enjoying writing for kids. I was at my daughter's school a few weeks ago giving a writing workshop. Her teacher mentioned how I could easily have been a teacher. When I was younger that's actually one of the careers I wanted to work toward. Life changed and my goals changed with it.

So, I muddled along with NaNoWriMo. My online friends said they would be glad when it was over because my whole personality changed with the pressure of trying to write in a way that was unnatural to me. I managed close to 7,000 words before I said something like, "Forget it. This ain't for me." I was concerned, because at that point I felt if I couldn't manage NaNoWriMo, there was no way I would ever become a published author.

That was proved wrong, however. My first published book would be four years into the future, but not winning NaNoWriMo wasn't the reason it took so long.

Read Part 5 here!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

First Chapter Review: Dead Reckoning by Caitlin Rother

The author got me a copy of this book last year because I had heard so many wonderful things about it. True crime has always fascinated me. Perhaps because I am interested in what motivates people to act as they do. I had planned to read it right away, but then my life got more chaotic than a cat dropped into the middle of a dog show.

BLURB:  Happy and retired, Tom and Jackie Hawks lived a charmed life in sunny Southern California. They were delighted when former child star Skylar Deleon and his pregnant wife Jennifer offered cash to purchase their 55-ft yacht The Well Deserved. But a trial voyage turned into a nightmare. Out at sea, the Hawkses begged for their lives as they were forced to sign everything over to Skylar. In return, they were tied to the ship's anchor and thrown overboard - alive...Skylar and Jennifer's twisted story became even more shocking when Skylar's unusual sexual motivations were revealed in court. After killing a man while out of jail on work furlough, he hired hits from prison on four witnesses, including his father...For this former child actor, the answer to "where are they now?" is Death Row.

COVER:  Spot on. A ripped from the headlines story, this cover gives the appearance of a ripped newspaper. The suspects' faces behind blood red splashed across the front and the entire back cover is just what I would expect.

FIRST CHAPTER: Dead Reckoning opens with family and friends of the Hawkses believing something must be wrong. The happy retired couple who were selling their boat so they could spend more time with their family, had not been in touch. Phone calls went right to voice mail. Emails remained unanswered. By November 23rd, family and friends began investigating.

Elsewhere, Betty Jarvi ponders her son's murder. She had not heard about the disappearance of Tom and Jackie Hawks, but her family's lives were on a collision course with the Hawkses' that she could never have imagined.

KEEP READING:  Definitely. As I said in the beginning, I am fascinated by true crimes. Rother opens with a prologue that introduces some of the people the reader will learn about in the rest of the book. It breaks my one-page prologue rule, but I have to admit I couldn't stop reading it. By the time I got to Chapter One, I had a glimpse into what would unfold later.

Rother made a wise choice in starting the book out with the family and friends who are impacted by the deaths of the Hawkses and JP Jarvi. This makes the story very personal and encourages sympathy from the reader. You get a basic amount of information on other members of the Hawkses' family and friends. The reader is also privy to how JP Jarvi was killed--not all the details, but enough to get you invested in the story.

I hope I can make room for this one in my schedule soon. I have 20 printed books I have agreed to review, so I am going in order as to how they came in. In between those are 31 books on my Kindle that need to be read. I'm not taking on any more titles until I am under 10 books total. Wish me luck!

Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation; 1 edition (February 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0786022175
ISBN-13: 978-0786022175
SRP: $6.99
Also available for Kindle

The publisher sent me a free paperback copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. A full review will follow. I have received no monetary compensation for this review.