Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What Drives You To Write

Sitting at the kitchen table a few mornings ago, I realized something - writing is addictive.

Not what you imaged I realized? Sitting there jotting down notes of paper, penwhat reviews I needed to do, I realized that sometimes I can’t help but write. More over, I want and need to write. It doesn’t matter if it’s a review, a blog post, a note or just my ‘to-do’ list - I have to write. I have to put pen to paper, if only to scribble. Maybe that’s why I tend to collect pens and mechanical pencils. Smile

I’m sure it probably has something to do with 30-plus years of writing newspaper articles. It just becomes a part of you.

Then I wondered how is it if you are an author?

Are you consumed by writing? Does the desire come in phases where you find yourself jotting down thoughts on anything you can find? Does the need to write strike you at odd times, odd places? Do the voices inside your head ever sleep? When they sleep, does it worry you that they might not wake up? Do you feel compelled to take your laptop with you everywhere you go?

If you’re an author, have you ever been so immersed in the words you need to write that you lost all sense of time and place? If so, was the work some of the best you’ve done or did it have to be rewritten at a slower pace with more thought?

As you can tell, the need to write also leads me to question after question. Often it seems I question everything. However, when it comes time to pose a question, I sometimes draw a blank. I think I do this because I focus too much on a specific topic and forget to get lost in the subject and let it lead me to the next question and the next.

During my years as a reporter, I always tried to take detailed notes about everything. I didn’t always use all the information I gathered, but I had it just in case. I found that as I wrote my article, it lead to other questions and I wanted to have the answers.

I also tried to see the article from the readers point of view. I knew all the background information, but they didn’t. What other questions would they want answers to that I could give them? When I finished an article I always tried to read over it to see if it caused me to ask additional questions or want more information.

One of the things I miss about the newspaper business is covering trials, especially murder cases. I enjoyed taking all the information from the trial and condensing into an article. It was hard at times when I was on a short deadline, but it was interesting. I always had questions that were never answered during the trial.

Another aspect of writing I miss is letter writing. My best friend (who lives in Texas) and I use to write letters just about every week. They were usually several pages long and covered every topic imaginable. We do good now to send each other an occasional card and we email once or twice a month. There is something special about letter writing. It can be fun between friends or romantic between lovers. Just think about all the letters from World War I and II that couples wrote. Nowadays I image soldiers and their families do more emailing. Do you write letters? Is it a lost art you wish you did more of? Do you have any old love letters tied with ribbon and stored away?

Back to blog writing. In asking questions of the authors who visit here, I try to tailor the questions to their writing and their current release. Sometimes I wonder if I should ask questions unrelated to this. But then, the purpose of their visit is to let readers know about their new book. What are your thoughts on this? As a reader, do you want to know other things about a writer than about their current work? As an author, do you want to talk about other things or focus on your writing and the new book? Or maybe a combination of both would work?

When the desire to write comes over you, you begin to write and then have to stop - is it easy to get back into that grove of writing when you can return or do you have to wait until the mood strikes again? Crazy question - is there a trigger that helps you write? Is there a certain song or smell or setting that helps your creative juices flow?

100_1521I appreciate you taking time today to read my ramblings about writing and nutty questions. So, are you driven to write? If so, what are you driven to write - notes, reviews, blog posts, to-do-list, novels or something else?

BTW, the flower photo is my way of sharing a bit of spring with everyone as we deal with this crazy, unpredictable weather we’re having. These bloomed out yesterday just in time for the severe weather alert today.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Author Art Maines: Lessons Learned While Writing Scammed

Daily we are bombarded with scams, especially through emails, and unfortunately the elderly are a prime target with one in five in the U.S. becoming a victim. With that in mind, I’m delighted to be a part of author Art Maines’ Premier Virtual Book Tour for his current release, SCAMMED, and welcome him here to talk about his experience.

Here’s a brief description of his book:
     When author Art Maines' beloved stepfather Bill was cheated out of thousands of dollars, Art went on a mission to ensure no other family experiences this tragic crime.
     In SCAMMED, Art provides a three step scam prevention and recovery program, based on his training as a social worker, therapist, and his extensive research. Suitable for seniors or children of elderly parents, SCAMMED will help you.
     * Understand the most common types of scams.
     * Learn the psychological ploys used by scammers so that you can spot a scammer immediately.
     * Create a scam prevention plan.
     * Recover from a scam with your dignity intact.
     * Use the resources in your community if you suspect a scam.

Art shares with us the lessons he learned while writing SCAMMED.

After my stepfather Bill was the victim of multiple scams, I was shocked and angry. I wondered how anyone could take advantage of a senior citizen who had no opportunity to replace the moneys lost in multiple frauds. In my quest to help him get justice and try to recover, financially and emotionally, I spoke with many attorneys, law enforcement officials, and representatives of financial institutions. The process of scam recovery too longer than I ever anticipated and was extremely time consuming. I wished there was an expert who could tell me what to do to help Bill.

After the crisis in our family abated a bit, I started to consult with other mental health professionals and geriatric experts to determine the severity of this problem. I was surprised to learn how prevalent elder fraud has become. As I dug deeper into the psychology of scammers and some of the characteristics of seniors which make them especially susceptible to scams, I realized this information needed to be available to the general public so I decided to write my book Scammed: 3 Steps to Help Your Elder Parents and Yourself.

I’d written professional articles and reports before but this was my first book. One of the first things I had to do was talk to Bill and ensure that it would be alright with him if I shared his story. I did not want to embarrass him. He already had enough shame and guilt about falling for the scammers. Thankfully, Bill realized that he had an opportunity to prevent other elders from being taken advantage of with this book so he gave me his blessing to tell his story with full details.

Next, I did extensive research. My graduate school experience was helpful as I was able to access professional journals and scholarly research to understand the science behind scams and how to best help seniors recover from such a traumatic event. I had my own ideas based on my experience but I wanted to make sure that research backed up my conclusions. I also was fortunate enough to interview some outstanding law enforcement professionals, attorneys, and geriatric financial planners who gave me additional information to make my book more useful.

Writing the book took longer than expected. I’m sure that’s true for every first time author. Between my private practice and familycover obligations, I keep very busy so it was a challenge to find time to work on the book. I found that my best writing time was on the weekends. I worked with a developmental editor who helped me with the structure of the book and kept me on track when I wanted to give up. That support was extremely helpful as was the support of my family and friends.

While I was writing I started doing presentations on Elder Fraud in a variety of settings. These presentations were extremely helpful. They helped me see how eager people were to have a resource like Scammed and showed me where I needed to add additional information based on the questions I was getting during the presentations. I would suggest that every author begin to speak on his or her topic during the writing process.  

Once the book was written, I worked with a boutique publishing house who could publish the book for me quickly. I did not want to make the public wait for the information while I got an agent and sought a traditional publishing contract. The editing, design, and production of my book took about six months.

It was a thrilling day when my first case of books arrived!  

Now I am busy marketing my book via speaking engagements, blog tours, a new website, and publicity. Again, it is a challenge to fit all these activities into my busy schedule. However, the initial feedback regarding Scammed has been so positive that it gives me energy to devote as much time as possible to making sure no other senior has to suffer like Bill did.

Art, thanks so much for joining us today and sharing how your book came about. It is a shame that so many elderly are victims of scams each day. Your book is a good resource for those dealing with this tragic situation. 

Art Maines, LCSW, is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice, speaker, and expert in elderly fraud recovery and prevention.  He earned his Master's Degree in social work from Washington University in St. Louis, MO.  Art and his stepfather Bill live in St. Louis. 

Here’s what others are saying about SCAMMED:
     "Just finished reading this book. this would be a great resource for people finding themselves in the unenviable position of being scammed or finding that they have a parent who has been scammed. It is packed full of practical, clear advice on what steps to take when you don't know where to turn or how to get started on recovering from being scammed. This book also gives valuable direction on how to be proactive and to get started on protecting yourself or your parent from becoming a scam victim."  -- Peggy I. Montgomery, Reviewer 

     "An excellent guide to helping your parent avoid predators." -- N. Kortner Nygard, Ph.D., Geriatric Psychologist 
     "A wealth of advice to help heal the emotional and physical aftermath of scams." -- Jennifer L. Abel, Ph.D., author of Active Relaxation 
     "A simple breakdown of scams that target the elderly with a battle plan to protect and prevent" -- Detective Joe Roubicek, Author of Financial Abuse of the Elderly; A Detective's Case Files of Exploitation Crimes
     "This is an important book for anyone with elderly parents." -- Gregory W. Lester, Ph.D.

Thanks for stopping by today. Do you know someone who has been touched by a scam? Do you have any tips to avoid scams?
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Monday, January 28, 2013

Cozy Mysteries And Giveaways

When it comes to cozy murder mysteries, Berkley Prime Crime and Obsidian always have a vast array of new books out each month featuring just about any theme you can image.

This month a favorite series of mine dealing with a White House Chef returns with the sixth installment and three new fun series I’ve discovered are returning with second installments dealing with bargain hunting, a magical bakery, and a souvenir shop. To make the mysteries even more enjoyable, thanks to the charming Kayleigh at Berkley I have a copy of each of the books below to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for the guidelines. Now for the reviews.


White House Executive Chef Olivia Paras has always believed her9780425251812 father was an honorable man. He died was she was young and is buried in Arlington Cemetery. When a trip to visit her mother reveals unsettling information about her father, Ollie is determined to find out the truth.

As she searches, Ollie learns her father was brutally murdered and accused of selling corporate secrets. With the help of her boyfriend, Special Agent Leonard ‘Gav’ Gavin, Ollie soon finds her father may have been more of a hero than she ever imaged. However, the new found information could cost Ollie her life and threaten national security.

Author Julie Hyzy continues to create intriguing plots blended with the zany characters fans of the series have come to love. While FONDUING FATHERS doesn’t focus as much on Ollie’s duties as White House Chef, it gives readers a closer look at Ollie the person. Hyzy has created a protagonist who has been undaunting in her previous quest for justice and now it’s her turn for answers. Readers are given a glimpse at a side of Ollie not seen in the previous installments.

The story moves at a fast pace with twists and turns holding you spellbound until the end. Hyzy weaves in a mix of intrigue, humor and romance for a well-balanced read. A number of delicious recipes fit a presidential meal are included as an added bonus.

FONDUING FATHERS is the sixth installment in the White House Chef Mystery series. Others books in the series include: State of the Onion (January 2008), Hail to the Chef (December 2008), Eggescutive Orders (January 2010), Buffalo West Wing (January 2011) and Affairs of Steak (January 2012). While each book is a stand alone read, I would recommend reading the series in order to have more background on the various characters and how they have evolved with each new story.

Author Julie Hyzy’s website is

Fonduing Fathers by Julie Hyzy, A White House Chef Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2013, ISBN: 978-0425251812, Paperback, 304 Pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
A DEAL TO DIE FOR by Josie Belle

In today’s hard economical times, the Good Buy Girls are always on9780425251850 the lookout for bargains. Wealthy widow Vera Madison is selling her vintage clothes at the St. Stanley flea market and they are ready to shop.

My Sister’s Closet owner Maggie Gerber knows the widow’s wardrobe will give her shop the upper-hand over Summer Phillips, who’s opened her own second-hand shop just across the street.

It seems the widow collected more than vintage clothes, when she’s found dead and the list of enemies is long. Instead of bargain hunting, Maggie and the Good Buy Girls have to sort through the skeletons in Vera’s closet to find the killer.

Author Josie Belle has created well-developed characters that are quirky and lovable. A DEAL TO DIE FOR moves at a fast pace and keeps you guessing right up until the end. Belle blends murder, romance, humor and everyday life into a delightful mystery. As an added bonus, bargain hunting tips are included.

A DEAL TO DIE FOR is the second installment in the Good Buy Girls Mystery series. The first installment is 50% OFF MURDER (April 2012).

Author Josie Belle is the pseudonym for Jenn McKinlay. Her website is

A Deal to Die For by Josie Belle, A Good Buy Girls Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2013, ISBN: 978-0425251850, Paperback, 272 Pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

9780451238986Katie Lightfoot is a new witch still trying to master her magical powers and operate Savannah’s most enchanting bakery. She does, however, take time off to enjoy a picnic with firefighter Declan McCarthy only to stumble upon a corpse.    

It turns out the dead man was a member of a secret society and an object that is very important to the group is now missing. It seems the killer was after more than just the man’s life. Katie is are hot on the trail of the killer, but has to be careful she doesn’t get burned.

Author Bailey Cates has blended magical elements with mystery and mayhem for a delightful story. The characters are well-balanced, the plot moves smoothly and the intrigue keeps you guessing. Cates even weaves in a bit of romance with not one, but two sexy guys.

BEWITCHED, BOTHERED, AND BISCOTTI is the second installment in the Magical Bakery Mystery series. The first installment is BROWNIES AND BROOMSTICKS (May 2012).

Author Bailey Cates also writes the Home Crafting Mysteries as Cricket McRae. Her website is

Bewitched, Bothered, and Biscotti by Bailey Cates, A Magical Bakery Mystery, Obsidian, @2013, ISBN: 978-0451238986, Paperback, 336 Pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review


When Glory Martine inherited her great-uncle Louis’ bayside souvenir9780425251843 shop, Southern Treasures, she thought life would be easy. But she didn’t take Bluebeard, a possessed parrot, into account.

However, Glory’s best friend Karen has even more problems since her ex still has a hold on her heart and his brother is about to be arrested. When a diver is found with a gaff hook in his chest, Karen’s brother-in-law is the prime suspect. She turns to Glory for help in clearing him. Searching for the real killer, Glory and Bluebeard discover Keyhole Bay holds deep, dark secrets.

Author Christy Fifield has done it again. This charming murder mystery features a protagonist with spirit and an entertaining parrot. The story flows smoothly and at a steady pace. The characters are zany and the mystery will having you guessing until the end.

After reading MURDER HOOKS A MERMAID, it might just change how you browse souvenir shops or your thoughts of parrots at the very least. 

MURDER HOOKS A MERMAID is the second installment in the Haunted Souvenir Mystery series. The first installment is MURDER BUYS A T-SHIRT (March 2012).

Author Christy Fifield is the pseudonym for Christy Evans, which is a mystery pseudonym used by northwest writer Christina F. York. Her website is

Murder Hooks A Mermaid by Christy Fifield, A Haunted Souvenir Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2013, ISBN: 978-0425251843, Paperback, 304 Pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
Now for the giveaway guidelines. To enter this giveaway, send me an e-mail ( with the subject line, “Win Berkley Mysteries.” Your message should include your name, mailing address, and which book you’d like to win. If you’d like to win any of them, just say ‘enter me for all the books’. The contest is open to residents of the U.S. only and no post office box addresses can be accepted. And, just so you know, I don’t share this information with anyone other than the publisher nor use it for any other purpose. The deadline to enter this giveaway for a chance to win one of these four tantalizing mysteries is 8 p.m. (EST) on Tuesday, Feb. 5.

Thanks so stopping by and good luck to those entering the giveaway. Do you have a favorite theme you enjoy reading about?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Seeing The World Through Firmoo

Reading glasses have become a ‘must’ for me during the past several years. I find that words and numbers are being printed much smaller than they were in my youth. Smilelogo

I recently had the opportunity to try a pair of free reading glasses from, a Global Online Optical Store. They offer a vast array of quality, fashionable and very affordable reading and prescription glasses, as well as sunglasses.

The hard part for me was deciding on which glasses I wanted to try, so many choices. They have a Virtual Try-on widget where you can see how the glasses look on a number of models. The fun part is you can even upload your own photo to try the glasses on. 

I normally wear glasses with small, oval lens. I decided to be different so I selected a large, round pair of glasses with a burgundy and pink frame. I then selected the strength of gsetlasses I needed and that was that.

The process, after I made my decision, was quick and simple. The glasses arrived in less than a week. I was even provided a tracking code so I could follow the glasses on their journey to me. 

I was surprised when the glasses arrived as they came wrapped in a cleaning cloth inside a sturdy, hard plastic case inside a drawstring carrying bag. A small screwdriver and screws for repairing the glasses was also included.

When I put the glasses on, they fit perfectly and the glasses closeupvision was great. It was a better fit than I’ve had with other glasses that I tried on in the store. The frames are a sturdy plastic and work great for me.

Why am I sharing all of this with you? Well, Firmoo has a First Pair Free Program I thought you might like to know about and possible try. You get a free pair of glasses simply by paying the shipping. For additional questions about ordering, shipping, tracking or other issues, you can find the answers at I’ve been well pleased with my glasses and I hope you will be too. can be found on Facebook (where they have 550,000+ fans), on Twitter, and Pinterest.

Brisco & GlassesI wanted to share how the glasses looked, but ya’ll know I’m a bit shy so I talked our English Shepherd, Brisco, into wearing them for me. He always gets excited when he seesBrisco in glasses the camera so we had fun with the experiment. 

FTC Full Disclosure - I was contacted about the glasses by I selected the glasses and they were sent to me free of charge by in hopes I would review them. However, receiving the complimentary pair of glasses did not influence my review. 

Hope everyone is having a great Sunday and the weather isn’t too bad wherever you are. Thanks so much for stopping by. Be sure to stop back by tomorrow. I plan to have a couple of reviews and giveaways to share with you. Has anyone ever tried Firmoo before? Have you ever purchased eyeglasses online before?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Tiger’s Eye by Barbra Annino

Being the ‘Seeker of Justice’ can be a demanding job, but Stacy Justicecover is up to the task with the help of her loyal Great Dane Thor, a host of friends and family, and a bit of magic.

TIGER’S EYE is the third installment in the Stacy Justice Mystery series and the first time I’ve listened to an audio version. Narrator Amy Rubinate does an terrific job bring the characters to life. She portrays Stacy as I had imaged her as I read. Rubinate also gives distinct voices to all the other characters. Her cadence draws you in and holds you captive as the story unfolds.

The summer was suppose to be quiet and relaxing, but a cryptic phone call sent Stacy’s world on a roller coaster ride. The caller said Stacy’s father’s accident years earlier was no accident, he had been murdered. Stacy had long believed it was her fault causing her to shy away from her magical powers.

Determined to find the person responsible for her father’s murder, Stacy strikes out on a mission of justice and possible revenge. As she searches, she also has to deal with a variety of other events in her life. She has her job at the newspaper, a beautiful white tiger making appearances, her boyfriend Chance, preparing for a meeting that could save her mother from a lifetime of imprisonment, and now she can hear and talk to dead people. 

Stacy puts her life in danger to get the answers she needs and finds surprises along the way that will change her life forever.

Author Barbra Annino has created characters that are well-developed, but continues to enhance them with each new installment in the series. The characters are lovable, zany, and unforgettable.

Annino makes the paranormal world of witches, spells, and talking dead seem normal. She combines a small town setting with loyal friends and family to create a place readers/listeners will long to return to time and time again. The action is fast pace with twists, turns and red herrings along the way. Annino has also blended in humor and romance to enrich the well-rounded adventure.

One of the things I was enjoy about Annino’s writing is the way she ends her books. You find closure for the events of the story, but she concludes with tantalizing tidbits of what is yet to come. This leaves you eagerly awaiting the next installment to see what new adventure Stacy will be faced with.

TIGER’S EYE is a stand alone read, but I would recommend reading (or listening to) the series in order for a better reading experience. This is a fun, action-packed story you don’t want to miss.

Author Barbra Annino’s website is 
Tiger’s Eye by Barbra Annino, A Stacy Justice Mystery, Performed by Amy Rubinate, Brilliance Audio, @2012, ISBN: 978-1469237411, Unabridged, 5 Discs, Listening Time: 6 Hours 5 Minutes

FTC Full Disclosure - This audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
Thanks so much for stopping by today. When reading a series, do you like books to leave you with a hint of what is to come next?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Abel’s Field (& A Giveaway)

Always on the lookout for good movies, I was delighted to be able to participate in Propeller’s movie review promotion for ABEL’S FIELD.

coverAn added bonus of the promotion is that, thanks to Hope and the great folks at Propeller, I have a copy of the DVD to giveaway to a lucky visitor. Please see the end of the post for the guidelines.

ABEL’S FIELD moves at a slow, but steady pace as it deals with redemption, compassion, and second chances. The story draws you in and you can’t look away until the final outcome.

Samuel Davis portrays 17-year-old Seth McArdie who is dealing with way more than a teenager should have to. He cares for his young twin sisters, works three jobs, and attends high school. His mother is deceased and his father has abandoned the family.

At school Seth is faced with a bully of a football quarterback. The coach, obsessed with winning and football, has blinders on when it comes to his team thus making life even harder for Seth. For defending himself, Seth is punished by being assigned to help the new groundskeeper Abel (Kevin Sorbo) install a new sprinkler system for the football field.

Abel is quiet and keeps to himself. Gradually a bond develops between the two. When Seth’s world starts falling apart, he turns to Abel only to feel let down again. But when Seth turns to desperate measures, Abel is the only one who can set him on the right path.

This is a heart-wrenching story that brought me to tears. Samuel Davis does an excellent job in his portrayal of Seth and his hardships. He makes you feel his pain and desperation. Kevin Sorbo brings his excellent skills into play as he portrays a brooding man haunted by his past and his actions as he searches for redemption.

ABEL’S FIELD shows the plight that unfortunately strikes families as they struggle to survive in difficult economic times without stable family support. I felt a range of emotions for Seth and his journey (sadness, hope and joy), as well as for Abel (hope and understanding). 

The movie is rated PG and can (and should) be viewed by the entire family. It deals with family, friendship, coping, and finding the right path when all is lost. A heartfelt featurette about making the movie is also included. It gives in-depth understanding of the story, the setting and the actors.

ABEL’S FIELD is an inspiring story that will tug at your heartstrings.

Abel's Field, Starring Kevin Sorbo and Samuel Davis, AFFIRM Films/Provident Films, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, @2012, ASIN: B009XJVKKS, 1 Disc, Run Time: 104 Minutes

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Now for the giveaway guidelines. To enter, send me an e-mail ( with the subject line, “Win Abel‘s Field.” Your message should include your name and mailing address. The contest is open international, but no post office box addresses can be accepted. And, just so you know, I don’t share this information with anyone other than the publisher nor use it for any other purpose. The deadline to enter this giveaway for a chance to win a DVD copy of ABEL’S FIELD is 8 p.m. (EST) on Saturday, Feb. 2.

To learn more about the movie, visit the website, and find it on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks so much for stopping by. Do you enjoy inspiring movies such as this? Do you have a favorite you’d like to share with us?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cheaper, Better, Faster by Mary Hunt (& A Giveaway)

CHEAPER, BETTER, FASTER is the book to have when looking for9780800721442 practical and economical solutions to problems around the house.

This handy book contains 2,000-plus tips and tricks to solve everyday problems without costing big bucks. Most of the solutions involve ingredients that are readily available and you probably already have on hand.

The book is divided into helpful chapters making it easy to locate a solution to your problem quickly. The areas covered include: automobiles, cleaning, clothing and accessories, food and cooking, gifts, health and beauty, holidays and special occasions, home, kids and babies, laundry, money and finances, outdoors and garden, pets, repairs and maintenance, shopping, and travel and entertainment.

Author Mary Hunt, a syndicated personal finance columnist, has compiled these tips and tricks from readers of her daily newspaper column. Saving time and money is the focus of these tips in an effort to make life a bit easier in our stress-filled days.

The tips are short, practical, and easy to accomplish. They cover a vast array of problems such as gift basket ideas for every occasion, a mixture to kill cockroaches, how to remove perspiration stains, how to soften harden paint brushes, and why packing clear tape when you travel comes in handy to list just a few. There are tips and tricks for almost every problem you encounter in your day-to-day life.

CHEAPER, BETTER, FASTER is designed efficiently and would make a great resource to have handy for those persistent problems that spring up daily.

Cheaper, Better, Faster: Over 2,000 Tips And Tricks To Save You Time And Money Every Day by Mary Hunt, Revell, @2013, ISBN: 978-0800721442, Paperback, 400 Pages

FTC Full Disclosure - I requested this book as part of the author’s blog tour promotion. This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
Available January 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.


I don’t normally include another post announcement with a blog tour review, but this giveaway is time-sensitive and just became available to me yesterday. The giveaway also only open for 24 hours.

TTB_blogtour-updatedDebuted author Jessica Lemmon is on a blog tour through Jan. 29th with her novel, TEMPTING THE BILLIONAIRE. Thanks to Jessica and Jihan at Grand Central Publishing, I have 2 eBook copies of TEMPTING THE BILLIONAIRE to giveaway to 2 lucky visitors.

To enter the giveaway, just send me an e-mail ( with the subject line, “Win TEMPTING THE BILLIONAIRE.” Your message should include your name and the email address you’d like the eBook sent to. Winners will also need to have a NetGalley account to obtain the eBook. The deadline to enter this giveaway for a copy of TEMPTING THE BILLIONAIRE will be 12:10 a.m. (EST) on Friday, Jan. 25th.

Jessica will be joining us Feb. 12th to talk about her writing and her book. To learn more about TEMPTING THE BILLIONAIRE, visit Jessica’s website.

Thanks everyone for stopping by today. Do you keep a list of practical tips that you’ve found helpful? Do you have a helpful tip you'd like to share with us?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Summer Called Angel On Tour

The birth of a child is always a miraculous event. Of course, some turn out to be more miraculous than other...such as when a baby that fits in the palm of your hand survives and thrives.

The words above caught my attention and I had to know more. That’s why I’m delighted to welcome author Sola Olu to Thoughts today as she makes a stop on her WOW-Women on Writing Blog Tour for her inspiring memoir, THE SUMMER CALLED ANGEL

The story begins just days before the birth of Sola’s first child and follows the incredible journey she and her husband took with their tiny daughter. This is a touching story that tells the triumphs and challenges of one family and will serve to inspire others.

     Sola Olu was expecting: expecting to receive a graduate degree from DePaul University and expecting her first child. Instead she went for a routine doctor's visit and found herself delivering her daughter Angel at a perilously premature time. Sola and her husband Chris were thrust into an unimaginable odyssey spanning seven months, several surgeries, and a painful separation with their newborn.
     THE SUMMER CALLED ANGEL provides intimate, hands-on details of the medical complexity as well as the emotional toll taken on parents who must witness their tiny baby struggle for life. THE SUMMER CALLED ANGEL also touches on Sola's second premature birth.
     This memoir serves as a powerful tribute to maternal love in the face of unexpected challenges. It is certain to offer strength to readers experiencing prematurity and offer a celebration of devotion that will resonate with parents everywhere.

When faced with family or friends that have a premature baby, we are sometimes at a loss for words. Sola joins us today to explain what friends and family should (and shouldn’t) say to parents of a premature baby.

Dealing with a premature birth could be a difficult time depending on different circumstances - the health of the mother, the circumstances of the birth, and how early the baby is. Most parents are able to prepare their minds if they have had advance warning (point in case multiple births). But generally it is overwhelming as mothers especially feel guilty at not being able to bring their babies into the world in a safe and healthy manner. If the baby is fine and there are no health issues, the situation is a little less stressful than if there are complications leading to a lengthy stay.

What to say or do:
* Let them know they're in your thoughts and prayers. Most parents will appreciate that alone.
* Ask is there's anything you can do - errands to run, books to pick up from the library.
* Offer to help them with grocery or cooking and if you can please
Sola Book Cover go ahead and just pick up some and leave by the door.
* If there are complications, encourage them to seek second opinions if they haven't.
* Please call, and leave voice mails if they don't pick up. That way they know you're thinking about them.
* If you're confused about what to say, it's OK admit upfront that you don't know what to say, but would like to just check up on them. It can sometimes be a difficult situation for friends and families too especially if the birth was unexpected as it is with most preemie births.
* Send encouraging cards especially if they're not answering the phone. A simple "I'm thinking of you" will suffice.
* Do offer stories of hope about preemie babies who've made it - or do some internet research and buy them books about that.
* Give suggestions of using social media to keep people updated, and if able, help to set up a simple blog that the family can maintain.
* Ask if it's OK to send gifts for the baby.
* Ask if it's OK to visit. If not say that you understand and ask if there are other things you could do.

Things not to say:
* Don't say "You'll have other babies" (particularly if the baby is gravely ill). That's not what they're thinking right then, they're thinking about their preemie baby now.
* Don't talk about preemies who did not make it or have multiple medical issues (in most cases, preemies do very well, and if not, let the medical experts be the ones to break the news to them).
* Don't tell them to "get over it" or "move on" if they're having a difficult time. (When they "move on" will depend on how the baby is doing.)
* Don't tell them it's part of life as people have premature babies everyday. (Again, this depends on how the baby is doing.)

Generally, be sensitive and take your cues from the parents. If they're fine, the baby is fine and all is well, they may need less support than parents whose babies are sick.

Sola, thanks for joining us and sharing these helpful tips. It is difficult to know the right things to say when faced with a condition such as a premature baby if one has never experienced it before. Sometimes in our ‘well-meaning’ ways we do tend to say the worst thing possible.

Sola was born and raised in Nigeria. As a child, she loved making up stories and as soon as she could write she started putting them down on paper. She holds degrees in English and Information Systems. 

Sola works in the retail industry and volunteers as a counselor to mothers of premature babies. Her writings include essays, poetry and children's stories. She loves to cook, travel and attend the theater. She lives in Illinois with her husband and two children.

For more on Sola and her writing, visit her website at and check out THE SUMMER CALLED ANGEL Facebook Page at

Thank you so much everyone for stopping by today. Hope your week is going well so far. Have you had or ever known anyone who has had a premature baby?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Unspeakable Book Blast

I’m delighted to welcome you here today as I participate in author Tessa Stockton’s The Unspeakable Book Blast through Pump Up Your Book Tour.

A veteran of the performing arts and worldwide missions, Tessa also contributed as a writer/editor for ministry publications, ghostwriter for political content, and headed a column on the topic of forgiveness. Today she writes novels in a variety of genres, often laced with romance and intrigue. 

In addition to her Christian suspense/thriller, THE UNSPEAKABLE, she’s the author of the political intrigue/romance, THE UNFORGIVABLE; a fable, LOVE AND LULL; and the upcoming inspirational fantasy romance, WIND’S ARIA, with more in the works.

For more about Tessa and her writing, visit her website, and find her on Twitter and Facebook

Here’s a brief look at THE UNSPEAKABLE:
     Who said forgiveness was easy?
     When a furtive conflict is pitted between violent leftist guerrillascover and a right-wing paramilitary group in Colombia, a North American woman mistakenly gets caught in the middle.
     “I spent four months, one week and two days in a clandestine prison referred to as The Water Cave. Every day I stared hell in the face, and each day I wanted to die. I don’t want to share too much too quickly. To understand fully, you must join hands with me, fasten your heart to mine, and course through my book. Stumble over the incomprehensible human rights journey with me. I’ve pondered it to the brink of questionable sanity, and it is the only way. It’s the only way to explain. I suppose I should consider myself lucky I survived at all—for many did not—yet, perplexingly so, that’s not the premise of this narrative.
     He altered my life, marked me forever.
     But it’s not how you might imagine.
     This is a story involving Horacio Botello, my torturer known as Puma.”

THE UNSPEAKABLE can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Wing Press.

As part of this book blast Tessa and Pump Up Your Book will be giving 645away a $25 Amazon gift card PayPal Cash, one autographed copy of her book, THE UNSPEAKABLE, and one autographed copy of her other book, THE UNFORGIVABLE!  To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck to all who enter. The winner will be  chosen randomly by Rafflecopter, contacted by email and announced on February 16. This giveaway is only open to those over the age of 18 and can accept an Amazon gift card or PayPal Cash. In addition, you must be a resident of the U.S. to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I appreciate each and everyone who stops by. Thanks so much. Have you participated in a book blast before?
The Unspeakable banner

Monday, January 21, 2013

Author C.J. West: Is Love Stronger Than Addiction?

Author C.J. West is touring blogdom this month with his latest release, DINNER AT DEADMAN’S, and I’m delighted to welcome him here as he makes a stop on his Partners In Crime Tour.

DINNER AT DEADMAN’S is a mystery published by 22 West Books. Here’s a brief synopsis of it:
     Lorado Martin has loved junk since his grandparents took him bottle digging in the backwoods of New England when he was a boy. The search for antiques and collectibles led him to a unique hobby: digging through the estates of the newly deceased, arranging the sale of goods for the heirs, and keeping the leftovers for himself.
     To make a living he builds and maintains housing for recovering addicts and along the way he’s employed a number of his clients. The men wrestle with the siren call of drugs and teach Lorado about the difficult struggle to stay clean one day at a time.
     When these two worlds come together, Lorado learns that not every elderly person dies of natural causes and that some estates are sold to benefit a killer. His latest project hits close to home. A woman he’s known since childhood haunts him from a fresh grave. Her grandson, an affable addict who has fallen off the wagon, stands to inherit a considerable sum whether he deserves it or not.

C.J. is here to discuss ‘Is Love Stronger Than Addiction?’

During my research for DINNER AT DEADMAN’S I learned a great deal about the power of addiction and the ways people get hooked on powerful narcotics. Every Internet chat room discussion and interview reminded me how addictive heroin is, and how destructive a drug habit is to families and neighbors. In all the sadness, pain, and loss, one story reminded me of the power of love and the strength of our human will.

To truly understand the power of love in this story, we need to start with the monster that is addiction.
The first surprise in my research was that many people who end up hooked on heroin don’t start by experimenting with drugs. It is easy to see intravenous drug users as beneath us and unworthy of our love and support, but many addictions spring from injuries that require prescription pain killers. For many, the end of a prescription leaves them with a psychological if not physiological addiction and they seek relief through alternate means. 

They buy unused pills from someone else’s prescription then progress to buying pills stolen from homes and pharmacies. Soon, pills aren’t enough to “get off E” (stop feeling sick). Addicts need more and more of the drug to get through the day without feeling ill. Many addicts rarely get high after using for a long time. They simply need the drug to function. As the need for the drug increases, users progress from pills like Oxycodone to shooting heroin intravenously.

dad150At this point, the physical need is so strong that users will do anything for the drug. The desperation is hard to fathom. Imagine something so powerful you’d kill for. So powerful you’d get on your knees and beg for. Something you need so badly you’d give your body to anyone who asked if they promised you money to buy it.

One of the most difficult aspects of writing this book for me was creating realistic scenarios with my drug culture characters. After sitting across the table with family members and hearing the desperate and dangerous things addicts will do for the drug, writing these scenes sometimes made me feel physically ill because I knew they were playing out every day across the world. 

When I was nearly finished with the book, and really struggling to come to terms with this problem, I remembered the story of a woman I’d met years ago. She married and had two kids with a man who later became addicted to heroin. We worked together and over the years I heard story after story of the problems he caused her.

He stopped working and continually stole from family members. He sold their electronics even after she’d thrown him out of the house. He broke into the houses of relatives, stole their cash, sold their electronics. He drove the children around town while he was high. 

This story played out in real time for me. If she’d asked my advice it would have been to divorce him and keep him away from the children. But year after year she struggled to provide for the family on her own. She raised her children by herself and encouraged her husband to get help. Years later when he’d recovered and moved back in, I was in awe of her love, strength, and commitment, to see her marriage through such a tumultuous time. 

You will see a glimpse of this woman in my character Cynthia during DINNER AT DEADMAN’S. She shows surprising compassion in one key scene given the circumstances. I hope you’ll give the book a try and see drugs and addiction in a new light.

C.J., thanks for joining us today and giving us a different perspective on love and addition. It is unbelievable to what extremes addicts will go to get what they need. 

C.J. is the author of seven suspense novels including THE END OF MARKING TIME and SIN AND VENGEANCE, which was optioned into development for film by Beantown Productions, LLC (screenplay by Marla Cukor).

C.J. blogs at You can also find him at or at

Thanks so much everyone for stopping by today. Do you think love is stronger than addiction?