Friday, December 18, 2009

Author Interview-Kelly Gay

Kelly Gay, an author of urban fantasy books, has answered some questions about herself and her writing.

Why did you pick this genre to write in? Is it the genre you read most from? I don’t really think of genre before I start writing. I write whatever story is in my head at the time, though I naturally lean toward paranormal, fantasy, and strong heroines. Once I had the world and characters in my mind for THE BETTER PART OF DARKNESS, I knew immediately that the story would fit best in urban fantasy. I read a lot of UF, but not when I’m writing rough drafts in the same genre. I like to have a clear head when I write new material, so I’ll switch to paranormal or contemporary romance, straight fantasy, or young adult. I love historical fiction and anything with a paranormal vibe.

I noticed on your website that you have had a plethora of jobs that are in all different areas. Can you list some of those? Do you think any of those jobs gave you ideas or story lines for your writing? Yeah, I’ve had a few odd jobs for sure! I’ve done many different jobs in construction, working for my dad—framing houses, roofing, driving backhoes and dump trucks. I worked at bookstores, movie theaters, in retail, at restaurants… But none were as fun as working with horses. I managed barns, groomed for show riders, and watched over foals at a breeding farm. Oddly enough, none of them really gave me inspiration for stories, but a lot of the jobs allowed me to day dream and stew on story ideas so that I could write later when I got home.

What path did you take to becoming a writer? The long one. J It took over a decade of writing, first screenplays and plays, and then fiction to finally get published. I have piles of scripts and about six or seven novels stacked in my office. My rejection pile might even rival my manuscript pile. My path consisted of writing manuscripts, honing my craft, submitting to agents and editors, pitching at conferences, and entering contests. I had some successes and near-misses, but it wasn't until 2008 that I finally sold to Pocket.

What is your writing schedule like? Do you write full time now or hold a job in addition to your writing career? I have three books contracted (the sequel to THE BETTER PART OF DARKNESS, and then two young adults novels with Simon Pulse that I’m writing as Kelly Keaton), so I work full-time now on the writing. I usually work from 9 AM until 4 PM, writing new material in the mornings and editing in the afternoons, unless I’m under deadline for something, then I’ll focus on what’s needed. The biggest adjustment has been managing my time and being self disciplined.

What has been your experience in the publishing world? Positive/Negative? Definitely positive. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have teamed up with the folks at Pocket. They are talented, down to earth, fun people to work with.

What upcoming projects do you have? The sequel to THE BETTER PART OF DARKNESS is up next. It’s called THE DARKEST EDGE OF DAWN, and releases Aug. 31, 2010. Then, in Spring of 2011, my first young adult book, a dark post-apocalyptic urban fantasy set in New Orleans, will debut under my penname, Kelly Keaton.

If you could meet one author for dinner, who would it be? Herodotus. Ancient history geek, here. I’d be in heaven, sitting down and chatting with the author we call the Father of History.

Do you have fascinating hobbies or guilty pleasures? My guilty pleasure is online role playing games. Massive time sinks, but I love to veg out and go running through some fantastical landscape as a mythological being and battle things. It’s very therapeutic!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Reading Guide: The Magician's Book by Laura Miller

The Magician's Book by Laura Miller was given away here on the blog and was won by Jaime in Colorado. Congrats Jaime! I am currently reading the book and wanted to share the reading guide with you all. If you haven't picked up a copy of this book, I hope you will. I am thoroughly enjoying it.

1. Laura Miller was introduced to the Chronicles of Narnia by her teacher and was immediately swept into their magical world. Describe your own discovery and reaction to them.

2. When Miller writes about her most powerful reading experiences while growing up, she cites Island of the Blue Dolphins, Five Children and It, and the Little House on the Prairie series. Name some of the formative books of your childhood and discuss why they were important to you. What about them has stayed with you into adulthood?

3. In the excerpt that opens The Magician’s Book, Lucy encounters the best story she has ever read. Afterward, she is unable to remember what happened in the story or to reread it. Have you ever lost yourself in a story as Lucy did? What were you reading? How old were you? Discuss why you think you were able to forget yourself so completely. How do our daily lives affect the way we read? What does this say about the role readers play in the creation of a story’s meaning?

4. Neil Gaiman and Jonathan Franzen note the importance of C. S. Lewis’s books in their own lives and work. Discuss the similarities and differences between their books and the Chronicles of Narnia. Have you noticed Lewis’s influence on other writers? If so, which writers? And why does their work remind you of the Pevensie children’s adventures?

5. Does Miller’s description of C. S. Lewis’s life and personality alter your view of his novels? In what ways? Have your opinions of other books changed after discovering personal details about the author? Why does biographical information affect our interpretation?

6. Laura Miller writes that she will not address the religious symbolism in the Chronicles, focusing instead on the stories and their creator. Do you agree with her decision? Are there other aspects of the books you would have liked Miller to address?

7. When Miller discovered Narnia’s Christian messages, her feeling of betrayal drove her away. Eventually, she returned and reexamined the books as an adult. Why was she upset by her new understanding? Discuss the role that the passage from innocence to understanding played in her reaction. Is one experience more valid than another?

8. Part memoir, part biography, and part literary criticism, The Magician’s Book touches on the many factors that shaped the author’s relationship with the novels. Discuss the extent to which each reader’s knowledge informs and shapes his or her interpretations of stories.

9. At its core, The Magician’s Book is the story of Laura Miller’s attempt to regain her childhood enchantment with the Chronicles. Have you reread the Chronicles of Narnia as an adult? If so, how has your enjoyment or understanding of them changed? Do you think it is possible to regain the childhood experience of reading? Why?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Giveaway-When Will There Be Good News by Kate Atkinson

I have three copies of this book to giveaway. This contest is open to US and Canadian residents. Sorry but no PO Box addresses. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. If I can't contact you, another winner will be chosen. Winners will be selected on January 30. The Reading Guide will be posted for this book on January 30.

Book Summary:
On a hot summer day, Joanna Mason's family slowly wanders home along a country lane. A moment later, Joanna's life is changed forever...

On a dark night thirty years later, ex-detective Jackson Brodie finds himself on a train that is both crowded and late. Lost in his thoughts, he suddenly hears a shocking sound...

At the end of a long day, 16-year-old Reggie is looking forward to watching a little TV. Then a terrifying noise shatters her peaceful evening. Luckily, Reggie makes it a point to be prepared for an emergency...

These three lives come together in unexpected and deeply thrilling ways in the latest novel from Kate Atkinson, the critically acclaimed author who Harlan Coben calls "an absolute must-read."

Giveaway-Rules of Engagement by Chad Hennings

I have five copies of this book to giveaway. The contest is open to US and Canadian residents. Sorry, but no PO Box addresses. Please leave a comment with your email address to enter. If I can't contact you, another winner will be chosen. The winners will be selected on January 25.

Book Summary:
In all of the roles Chad Hennings has been privileged to play in life he has seen that the persistent "go-it-alone" myth in our society traps men from connecting in a meaningful way with other men. In fact, men in our society are emotionally disconnected from each other and from God.

In this book Chad wants to share the lessons he has learned that will make a difference in men's lives and tear down the walls that separate men from each other and their true selves.

This book will offer men a plan for a new approach to life that stresses:

Crafting character and vision for ones self
Healing the troubled past
Developing a work ethic
Commiting to self-care
Finding fulfillment
Living with spirituality
Making a strategic life plan
Serving the family
Male bonding
Developing an understanding of money
Community service
Redefining success

About the Author:
Although best known for his role with America's Team, Chad Hennings' successes began long before his professional football career. An accomplished lineman in high school, Hennings was offered full scholarships from universities across the nation. Instead, he chose to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he racked up numerous honors academically and on the gridiron. Named most valuable athlete at the academy, he earned defensive player of the year honors from the Western Athletic Conference and was named to the WAC's All-Decade Team.

In addition, he received the 1987 Outland Trophy, given to the country’s outstanding lineman, and the most valuable player designation at the 1988 Freedom Bowl. A two-time Academic All-American, Hennings was inducted into the GTE Academic All-American Hall of Fame. He was also inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

His exemplary achievements put him at the top of many draft lists and earned him a spot on the Dallas Cowboys’ roster, but Hennings postponed his entry into the National Football League to fulfill his commitment to the U.S. Air Force. He entered the Euro-NATO program, a training program for top pilots, and soon found himself at the controls of the A-10 Thunderbolt.

During his four-year stint with the Air Force, Hennings flew 45 missions in support of Operation Provide Comfort in northern Iraq, an effort that helped provide relief and humanitarian aid to Kurdish refugees. He received two aerial achievement medals, a humanitarian award and an outstanding unit award for his actions in the service.

After his discharge, Hennings joined the Dallas Cowboys, quickly earning a starting position as a defensive lineman. He spent his entire 9-year professional football career with the Cowboys, retiring in 2001 with three Super Bowl rings.

Chad lives in the Dallas/Fort Worth area where he is involved in commercial real estate. He frequently speaks on the topic of commitment. He is the founder of Wingmen Ministries and serves on the board of Happy Hill Farm Academy and the Advisory Board for Christian Community Action.

Chad is married to Tammy and has two children, Chase and Brenna.

Giveaway-The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker

I have one copy of this book to giveaway. The contest is open to US and Canadian residents. Sorry but no PO Box addresses. To enter, please leave a comment with your email. If I can't contact you, a new winner will be chosen. The winner will be selected on January 22. The reading guide for this selection will be posted on January 22.

Book Summary:
When Truly Plaice's mother was pregnant, the town of Aberdeen joined together in betting how recordbreakingly huge the baby boy would ultimately be. The girl who proved to be Truly paid the price of her enormity; her father blamed her for her mother's death in childbirth, and was totally ill equipped to raise either this giant child or her polar opposite sister Serena Jane, the epitome of femine perfection. When he, too, relinquished his increasingly tenuous grip on life, Truly and Serena Jane are separated--Serena Jane to live a life of privilege as the future May Queen and Truly to live on the outskirts of town on the farm of the town sadsack, the subject of constant abuse and humiliation at the hands of her peers.

Serena Jane's beauty proves to be her greatest blessing and her biggest curse, for it makes her the obsession of classmate Bob Bob Morgan, the youngest in a line of Robert Morgans who have been doctors in Aberdeen for generations. Though they have long been the pillars of the community, the earliest Robert Morgan married the town witch, Tabitha Dyerson, and the location of her fabled shadow book--containing mysterious secrets for healing and darker powers--has been the subject of town gossip ever since. Bob Bob Morgan, one of Truly's biggest tormentors, does the unthinkable to claim the prize of Serena Jane, and changes the destiny of all Aberdeen from there on.

When Serena Jane flees town and a loveless marriage to Bob Bob, it is Truly who must become the woman of a house that she did not choose and mother to her eight-year-old nephew Bobbie. Truly's brother-in-law is relentless and brutal; he criticizes her physique and the limitations of her health as a result, and degrades her more than any one human could bear. It is only when Truly finds her calling--the ability to heal illness with herbs and naturopathic techniques--hidden within the folds of Robert Morgan's family quilt, that she begins to regain control over her life and herself. Unearthed family secrets, however, will lead to the kind of betrayal that eventually break the Morgan family apart forever, but Truly's reckoning with her own demons allows for both an uprooting of Aberdeen County, and the possibility of love in unexpected places.

Giveaway-Who Owns The World: The Surprising Truth About Every Piece of Land by Kevin Cahill and Rob McMahon

I have five copies of this book to giveaway. This contest is open to US and Canadian residents. Sorry but no PO Box addresses. To enter, leave a comment with your email address. If I can't contact you, another winner will be chosen. Winners will be selected on January 15.

Book Summary:
You don't have to be a student of geography or cartography to have an interest in the world around you, especially with globalization making our planet seem smaller than ever. Now you can IM someone in Alaska, purchase coffee beans from Timor-Leste, and visit Dubai. But what do we really know about these lands?

WHO OWNS THE WORLD presents the results of the first-ever landownership survey of all 197 states and 66 territories of the world, and reveals facts both startling and eye-opening. You'll learn that:

--Only 15% of the world's population lays claim to landownership, and that landownership in too few hands is probably the single greatest cause of poverty.
--Queen Elizabeth II owns 1/6 of the entire land surface on earth (nearly 3 times the size of the U.S.).
--The Lichtenstein royal family is wealthier than the Grimaldis of Monaco.
--80% of the American population is crammed in urban areas.
--The least crowded state is Alaska, with 670 acres per person. The most crowded is New Jersey, with .7 acres per person. --60% of America's population are property owners. That's behind the UK (69% homeownership).
--And much, much more!

With its relevance to contemporary issues and culture, WHO OWNS THE WORLD makes for fascinating reading. Both entertaining and educational, it provides cocktail party conversation for years to come and is guaranteed to change the way you view the U.S. and the world.

Giveaway-Hearing From God Each Morning by Joyce Meyer

I have five copies of this book to giveaway. This contest is open to US and Canadian residents. Sorry but no PO Box addresses. To enter, leave a comment with your email address. If I can't contact you, a new winner will be chosen. The winners will be selected on January 11.

Book Summary:
In the hustle and bustle of today's busy world, sometimes it's hard enough to hear yourself think, much less take a minute to stop and listen for the voice of God. But learning to recognize God's voice and the many ways in which He speaks is vital for following His plan. This devotional; drawing from How to Hear From God, Knowing God Intimately, and The Power Of Simple Prayer shows the reader through a daily reminder, how God speaks through their own thoughts and feelings, their dreams, and the words of other people.

About the Author:
Joyce Meyer is one of the world's leading practical Bible teachers. A #1 New York Times bestselling author, she has written more than eighty inspirational books, including The Secret to True Happiness, 100 Ways to Simplify Your Life, the entire Battlefield of the Mind family of books, her first venture into fiction with The Penny, and many others. She has also released thousands of audio teachings, as well as a complete video library. Joyce’s Enjoying Everyday Life radio and television programs are broadcast around the world, and she travels extensively conducting conferences. Joyce and her husband, Dave, are the parents of four grown children and make their home in St. Louis, Missouri.

Book Giveaway-Career Comeback: Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want by Lisa Johnson Mandell

I have five copies of Career Comback to giveaway. This contest is open to US and Canadian residents. Sorry, but no PO Box addresses. To enter, please leave a comment about your dream job. Be sure to leave an email address, if I can't contact you, another winner will be chosen. The winners will be selected on January 8.

Book Summary:
Unfortunately, getting older can be a career killer. That's what entertainment journalist Lisa Johnson Mandell discovered when she sent out a resume that made her sound like an aged veteran. Her new career makeover guide-expanded from the Wall Street Journal article about revamping her "older" image to land her dream job-acknowledges that experience matters, but looking and acting up-to-date matter just as much. Mandell provides ten strategies for putting a youthful spin on resumes, Web pages, and personal presentation.

About the Author:
Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award-winning multi-media journalist and author. She has been featured in The Wall St. Journal and Forbes, as well as on Dr. Phil, Rachael Ray, Bravo, the CBS Early Show, NBC Today, Fox News and many other media outlets. She is a popular international speaker, and her blog,, is a helpful resource for all job seekers.

Lisa currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband James and their Golden Doodle, “KC.” When she is not helping people land jobs they love, she’s probably interviewing movie stars or preparing film reviews for Entercom radio stations and for

Book Giveaway-Points of Power by Yolanda Adams

I have five copies of Points of Power by Yolanda Adams to giveaway. This contest is open to US and Canadian residents, but no PO Box Addresses please. The winners will be chosen on January 4. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. If I can't contact you, another winner will be chosen.

Book Summary:
Over five million listeners tune in to hear Yolanda Adams's Points of Power, a segment in her daily radio show that inspires people by applying biblical truths to present-day realities. In her first book, Yolanda Adams transfers that winning segment into a reader's delight. In this highly accessible manual for daily living, she shares stories from her and others's personal experiences, showing readers how to access God's love and grace in their modern world and troubles. By revealing how Yolanda and other human beings have transcended the world's difficulties, POINTS OF POWER empowers readers to face trouble with confidence in the God who never fails.

About the author:
Yolanda Adams is listed among the artists who have achieved the greatest critical and commercial success in blending R&B styles with gospel music. She has released twelve albums, two of which were certified platinum, one gold, and has won over twenty awards for her music. She currently hosts The Yolanda Adams Morning Show and makes her home in Houston.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Book Review-Searching for Pemberley by Mary Lydon Simonsen

Searching for Pemberley by Mary Lydon Simonsen

I received a free copy of this to review for this blog.

Maggie Joyce finds herself working in London after World War II where she makes friends with a coworker. Little did Maggie know that she would stumble upon an adventure that would take her on a search for the identies of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. The couple made famous in Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice. What if the characters in Pride and Prejudice were based on real people but made to appear fictitious? What if descendants of these characters were still alive? What if Maggie could discover the real truth?

The book gives a character synopsis so that you can catch yourself up for the story if you are not familiar with the Pride and Prejudice characters. I think Jane Austen followers, as well as those that have never read a word of Jane Austen, will love this book. It delves into a world where every reader can get excited about the possibilities of what might have been. It allows the reader to go on the search with Maggie and figure out the mystery as if they were Maggie.

I highly recommend this book!!!

Book Review-My Unfair Lady by Kathryne Kennedy

My Unfair Lady by Kathryne Kennedy
Sourcebooks 2009

I received this book free to review from the publisher.

An American woman from the Wild West takes on Victorian London as she tries to learn how to impress her future mother in law. Summer Wine Lee decides to hire a Duke to teach her how to become refined and fit into the society she is soon to be a part of. As you can imagine, romance will bloom and those that seek change should maybe stay the way they are. My Unfair Lady has been described as a new take on My Fair Lady. I will let you decide if that is a correct comparison, yet, I urge you to delve into a wonderful world of romance and lose yourself in this world. I think this book is very well written and I lost myself in the pages as I imagined myself moving along with the characters as if I was one of them. I quickly found myself finished with this book and wishing it would continue.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Book Review-Ciao Italia by Mary Ann Esposito

Ciao Italia: Five Ingredient Favorites by Mary Ann Esposito
St. Martin's Press, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-312-37769-4

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher to do a review for the blog.

Mary Ann Esposito has written an Italian cookbook where all of the recipes use five ingredients. Ms. Esposito's philosophy is that five ingredients can create a delicious meal and be economical for a family. The book contains 75 recipes to include every course of a meal. The book starts off with the five ingredients every kitchen should have in the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer at all times. I think this was a good starting point for the book to prepare a cook's kitchen.

I particularly like how the recipes are laid out in the book. The ingredients are all listed as a side bar on the page to separate them from the actual recipe on the page. I think this gives easier access as I know many times when I have used cookbooks, the ingredients and recipe seem to run together and it isn't always easy to scan what you need without continually reading through all of it. Ms. Esposito also includes handy "Chefs Secrets" with recipes to give helpful hints on storage or small extras you can do to make the recipe work better for you.

At the end of the book, a five course seasonal menu is given for each season. I love this part of the book as it is an easy guide for giving dinner parties and knowing exactly what to serve for the time of year. I think it allows the average cook to become a gourmet chef for that special occassion.

There is such a good variety of dishes in this book that a family will never be bored eating Italian food. I know that I can't wait to try more recipes from this book and use it as a guide for entertaining.

Book Review-The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Vintage Books-A Division of Random House
ISBN: 978-0-307-45454-6

I purchased this book for my reading pleasure.

I had heard about this book numerous times but did not really know what it was about. I was perusing the aisles at Barnes and Noble recently and decided to give it a shot. I started reading this immediately and was less than impressed. However, at about the 50 page mark, this book took a turn from slow and I really don't like this to things are now moving and this is fantastic. The book starts out with Mikael Blomkvist going to trial and being convicted of libel for an article he wrote about a prominent business man. The journey will follow the next year of his life as he is enmeshed in a mystery with the Vanger family and the quest to tell their story. Although the story line starts out with Blomkvist, there are many characters and story lines that are separate, yet intertwined.

The book is very well written and keeps the reader guessing at the twists and turns that will happen next. This book is the first of three in a series and I can't wait to read the other two. Although, the author passed away shortly after the publication of this selection, the other two were already written and set to be published. The second book entitled The Girl Who Played With Fire was published in July 2009 and the third will follow shortly.

Book Giveaway-Denise's Daily Dozen by Denise Austin

I have five copies from Hachette Books of Denise's Daily Dozen by Denise Austin to giveaway. Please leave a comment and your email to enter. This contest is open to US and Canada residents, but no po boxes please. Winners will be selected on January 18.

Book Summary:
From Denise Austin comes the perfect health book for anyone who wants to live better but just can't seem to find the time. Much more than just another exercise book, Denise's Daily Dozen covers a whole range of health and diet related concepts yet manages it all in a no-stress, time-conscious program of 12's. At it's core, this book contains the minimum daily requirements to keep the reader flexible, strong and trim. Organized simply into seven chapters, which equal the seven days of the week, it covers a full week in daily allotments. Each day will have it's own focus from Monday being "fat burning day" to Sunday's "recharge and rejuvenate."

Denise has created a total body program, including a 7-day balanced meal plan that includes healthy recipes, and a workout that encompasses 12 exercises done in 12 minutes each day. Everyone can take just 12 minutes, at whatever time of the day works for them, and turn it over to these simple and fun exercises. Cardio, toning, yoga and breathing exercises...they're all here but in a way the maximizes effect while minimizing time.

Beyond a dozen exercises for each day of the week this book will include many other of Denise's dozens for each day.

Blog Tour Announcement-Denise's Daily Dozen by Denise Austin

The new year is almost here and it isn't too early to start thinking about the usual New Year's Resolution to get in shape. Hachette Books has a blog tour that will run from January 18-25 for fitness guru Denise Austin's new book. There will be book giveaways, reviews, and interviews at various blogs during this time. I have included a list of all the blogs that are participating so you can get all the goods on Denise and her new book and try to get a copy for yourself.

Participating Blogs: Review 1/18/2010 Review 1/18/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/18/2010 Giveaway 1/18/2010 Review and Giveaway 1/18/2010 Review 1/18/2010 Review 1/18/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/18/2010 Feature, Review, Giveaway 1/18/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/18/2010 Feature, Giveaway 1/18/2010 Review, Giveaway , Q&A 1/18/2010 Giveaway 1/19/2010 Giveaway 1/19/2010 Review 1/19/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/20/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/20/2010 Giveaway 1/20/2010 Giveaway 1/20/2010 Giveaway 1/20/2010 Giveaway 1/20/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/20/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/20/2010 Review 1/21/2010 Review 1/21/2010 Review, Giveaway , Q&A 1/21/2010 Feature, Review, Giveaway , Q&A 1/21/2010 Giveaway , Q&A 1/21/2010 Giveaway 1/22/2010 Q&A, review, and giveaway 1/22/2010 Feature, Review, Giveaway 1/22/2010 Giveaway 1/23/2010 Feature, Review, Giveaway 1/23/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/24/2010 Review 1/24/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/25/2010 Review 1/25/2010
http://therempels4.blogspot Review, Giveaway 1/25/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/25/2010

Book Giveaway-Prime Time Health by William Sears

Hachette has given me five copies of Prime Time Health by William Sears to giveaway. Please leave a comment with your email address to enter. This contest is open to US and Canada but no po box addresses please. The winners will be chosen on December 28.

Book Summary:
Twelve years ago, renowned physician and author Dr. William Sears was diagnosed with cancer. He, like so many people, wanted-and needed-to take control of his health. Dr. Sears created a comprehensive, science based, head-to-toe program for living a long, fit life-and it worked. Now at the peak of health, Dr. Sears shares his program in PRIME-TIME HEALTH. This engaging and deeply informative book will motivate readers to make crucial behavior and lifestyle changes. Dr. Sears explores how to keep each body system healthy and delay those usual age-related changes.

Book Giveaway-A Good Talk by Daniel Menaker

I have five copies of A Good Talk from Hachette books to giveaway. Please leave a comment with your email to enter. This contest is open for US and Canada residents but no po boxes please. The winners will be chosen on December 27.

Book Summary:
A GOOD TALK is an analysis of and guide to that most exclusively human of all activities-- conversation.

Drawing on over forty years of experience in American letters, Menaker pinpoints the factors that drive and enliven every good conversation: the vagaries (and joys) of subtext; the deeper structure and meaning of conversational flow; the subliminal signals that guide our disclosures and confessions; and the countless other hurdles we must clear along the way. Moving beyond self-help musings and "how to" advice, he has created a stylish, funny, and surprising book: a celebration of "the most excusively human of all activities."

In a time when conversation remains deeply important-- for building relationships, for relaxing, even for figuring out who we are-- and also increasingly imperiled (with Blackberries and texting increasingly in vogue), A GOOD TALK is a refreshing celebration of the subtle adventures of a good conversation.

Book Giveaway-Beyond Blue by Therese Borchard

I have five copies from Hachette Books of Beyond Blue to giveaway. Please leave a comment with your email address below to enter. The contest is open to US and Canada residents and no po boxes please. The winners will be chosen on December 26.

Book Summary:
Therese Borchard may be one of the frankest, funniest people on the planet. That, combined with her keen writing abilities has made her Beliefnet blog, Beyond Blue, one of the most trafficked blogs on the site.

BEYOND BLUE, the book, is part memoir/part self-help. It describes Borchard's experience of living with manic depression as well as providing cutting-edge research and information on dealing with mood disorders. By exposing her vulnerability, she endears herself immediately to the reader and then reduces even the most depressed to laughter as she provides a companion on the journey to recovery and the knowledge that the reader is not alone.

Comprised of four sections and twenty-one chapters, BEYOND BLUE covers a wide range of topics from codependency to addiction, poor body image to postpartum depression, from alternative medicine to psychopharmacology, managing anxiety to applying lessons from therapy. Because of her laser wit and Erma Bombeck sense of humor, every chapter is entertaining as well as serious.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Win A Fall Feast of Cookbooks

A blog that I follow is hosting a fall feast of cookbooks. You can enter until December 6 to win. You can go to the blog to enter at or you can click on the button that says Mom Saves Money right here on my blog. Good Luck and go enter!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Book Review-Beautiful Mess by Diamond Rio with Tom Roland

Beautiful Mess: The Story of Diamond Rio by Diamond Rio with Tom Roland
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 978-1-5955-5268-6
Price: 24.99

I received this book for free from the publisher for purposes of posting the review on my blog.

Beautiful Mess is the story of the country group called Diamond Rio. The group has been around for a little more than 20 years now and this book chronicles their journey in the music business. The book shares how the group was started and the ups and downs and hard work that it took to get them where they are today.

I enjoyed the book as it lays out a chapter for each member to give their own personal history. The reader is able to see each member from their birth and growth in music, their journey with Diamond Rio, and other outside interests they are involved in. As the book is written in part by the group and it gives a more personal touch to the book to hear their story in their own words. The book allows the reader an inside look to see that musicians are human and the journey to success is often not what most fans think it is. The book contains a plethora of pictures and an appendix listing the groups hits and accomplishments.

The book also offers what is known as Nelson Free, where you purchase the actual book and you have access to download the book for free as an audio book and an ebook.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Review-How To Be Famous by Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt

How To Be Famous by Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt
Hachette Book Group 2009
ISBN: 978-0-446-55591-3
Price: 19.99

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher to review for my blog.

Heidi+Spencer=Speidi I am sure there are very few people that haven't heard some combination of those names in the tabloids over the past few years. Heidi and Spencer got their start on the television show, The Hills, and now they are looking for any possible way to stay in the spotlight. I thought this book would be geared towards teenage girls, the fans of The Hills, or anyone that is known as a celebrity tabloid watcher. And in fact it was. However, I would be very surprised if even any of their loyal fans would be happy with this selection. I know that I am making a huge assumption here, yet, I can't imagine that anyone would really think the tips offered in the book would make them famous.

I had decided that once I had read and reviewed the book, it would be given to my 13 year old cousin, who is a fan of Speidi. Yet, after reading this book, she will not get it. I think this book is nothing more than a promotion of how to get what you want by using whatever means necessary, without any regard for anyone or anything. As Spencer says in one of his sections, "It's at this point that we feel the need to pause and remind you that having a conscience is for losers. Don't EVER feel bad." The book has several similar quotes scattered throughout the pages and lends to the reader of the character that both possess.

I am grateful to Hachette for providing me with review copies often, however, I am very disappointed by this selection. It essentially gives the tips on how to be a mean girl and the approval for treating people that way. I am sure this book will sell many copies because of their tabloid celebrity, however, I find that it promotes the wrong message to the teenage girls that will read it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Giveaway-Exit Music by Ian Rankin

I have a giveaway for one copy of Exit Music by Ian Rankin. Please leave a comment below to enter and be sure to leave an email address so I can contact you. The giveaway is open to US only and no PO Box addresses please. The winner will be chosen on December 15.

Book Summary:
It's late in the fall in Edinburgh and late in the career of Detective Inspector John Rebus. As he is simply trying to tie up some loose ends before his retirement, a new case lands on his desk: a dissident Russian poet has been murdered in what looks like a mugging gone wrong.

Rebus discovers that an elite delegation of Russian businessmen is in town, looking to expand its interests. And as Rebus's investigation gains ground, someone brutally assaults a local gangster with whom he has a long history.

Has Rebus overstepped his bounds for the last time? Only a few days shy of the end to his long, controversial career, will Rebus even make it that far?

Giveaway-The Magician's Book by Laura Miller

I have one copy of The Magician's Book by Laura Miller. Please leave a comment below to enter and be sure to leave an email so that I can contact you. The giveaway is open to US only and no PO Box addresses please. The winner will be chosen on December 1.

Book Summary:
THE MAGICIAN'S BOOK is the story of one reader's long, tumultuous relationship with C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia. As a child, Laura Miller read and re-read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and its sequels countless times, and wanted nothing more that to find her own way to Narnia. In her skeptical teens, a casual reference to the Chronicles's Christian themes left her feeling betrayed and alienated from the stories she had come to know and trust. Years later, convinced that "the first book we fall in love with shapes us every bit as much as the first person we fall in love with," Miller returns to Lewis's classic fantasies to see what mysteries Narnia still holds for adult eyes--and is captured in an entirely new way.

In her search to uncover the source of these small books' mysterious power, Miller looks to their creator, Clive Staples Lewis. What she discovers is not the familiar, idealized image of the author, but a man who stands in stark contrast to his whimsical creation-scarred by a tragic and troubled childhood, Oxford educated, a staunch Christian, and a social conservative, armed with deep prejudices.

THE MAGICIAN'S BOOK is an intellectual adventure story, in which Miller travels to Lewis's childhood home in Ireland, the possible inspiration for Narnia's landscape; unfolds his intense friendship with J.R.R.Tolkien, a bond that led the two of them to create the greatest myth-worlds of modern times; and explores Lewis's influence on writers like Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Franzen, and Philip Pullman. Finally reclaiming Narnia "for the rest of us," Miller casts the Chronicles as a profoundly literary creation, and the portal to a life-long adventure in books, art, and the imagination. Erudite, wide-ranging, and playful, THE MAGICIAN'S BOOK is for all who live in thrall to the magic of books.

Giveaway-Deep Kiss of Winter by Gena Showalter and Kresley Cole

I have one copy of Deep Kiss of Winter by Gena Showalter and Kresley Cole. Please leave a comment below to enter and be sure to leave an email so that I contact you. This giveaway is open to US only and no PO Box addresses please. The winner will be chosen on December 21.

Book Summary:

Under the cover of wintry dark shadows, passion's magic ignites a fire too hot to touch — and too wicked to die....


Two never-before-published paranormal stories to delight the senses and tantalize the imagination!



delivers a breathtaking tale of a brutal vampire soldier about to know love for the first time...and a Valkyrie aching to be touched.
Murdoch Wroth will stop at nothing to claim Daniela the Ice Maiden — the delicate Valkyrie who makes his heart beat for the first time in three hundred years. Yet the exquisite Danii is part ice fey, and her freezing skin can't be touched by anyone but her own kind without inflicting pain beyond measure. Soon desperate for closeness, in an agony of frustration, Murdoch and Danii will do anything to have each other. Together, can they find the key that will finally allow them to slake the overwhelming desire burning between them?



puts a daring spin on a tale of huntress and hunted...and concocts a sensual chemistry that is positively explosive.
Aleaha Love can be anyone — literally. With only skin-to-skin contact, she can change her appearance, assume any identity. Her newestidentity switch has made her an AIR (alien investigation and removal) agent and sends her on a mission to capture a group of otherworldly warriors. Only she becomes the captured. Breean, a golden-skinned commander known for his iron will who is at once dangerous and soul-shatteringly seductive, threatens her new life. Because for the first time, Aleaha only wants to be herself....

Giveaway-The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay

I have one copy of The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay to giveaway. Please leave a comment below to enter and be sure and leave an email address so that I can contact you. This giveaway is open to US only and no PO Box addresses please. The winner will be chosen on December 17.

Book Summary:
Atlanta: it's the promised city for the off-worlders, foreigners from the alternate dimensions of heaven-like Elysia and hell-like Charbydon. Some bring good works and miracles. And some bring unimaginable evil....

Charlie Madigan is a divorced mother of one, and a kick-ass cop trained to take down the toughest human and off-world criminals. She's recently returned from the dead after a brutal attack, an unexplained revival that has left her plagued by ruthless nightmares and random outbursts of strength that make doing her job for Atlanta P.D.'s Integration Task Force even harder. Since the Revelation, the criminal element in Underground Atlanta has grown, leaving Charlie and her partner Hank to keep the chaos to a dull roar. But now an insidious new danger is descending on her city with terrifying speed, threatening innocent lives: a deadly, off-world narcotic known as ash. Charlie is determined to uncover the source of ash before it targets another victim — but can she protect those she loves from a force more powerful than heaven and hell combined?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Author Interview: Susan Sizemore

Bio: Susan Sizemore is the author of many romance and fantasy novels and short stories. She writes the Vampire Primes paranormal romance series for Pocket Star books. Her current release is DARK STRANGER. She lives in the midwest, knits, loves dogs, spends too much time on

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What path did you follow to become a writer?

You mean what path did I follow to become a published writer? I've been writing all my life. You don't have to be paid/published to be a writer. I've written stories since I was six year's old and made them up in my head before I learned to print with crayons. I spent a decade writing Star Trek fanfic for fun, then got the itch to write original fiction. So I got involved in a critique group, joined the RWA, started sending out proposals and getting my share of rejections. I entered writing contests, won the RWA Golden Heart in 1991 and sold WINGS OF THE STORM three days later. I've been writing professionally since then.

Fave author? Fave book? How many books do you read a year?

I don't have one fave author. There's too many great authors to have just one. Let's say that there's a small group of authors I'm not willing to wait for the paperback to come out. I snatch up Terry Pratchett, John Scalzi, Laurie R. King and a few others as soon as their books hit the stores. There are some forever favorite authors that I return to over and over - Dorothy Dunnett, Dorothy Sayers, Tolkien, Mary Renault, Gene Stratton Porter, Mary Jo Putney among them. How many books a year -- not enough.

Do you have any hidden talents? Guilty pleasures?

Is being the world's worst guitarist a hidden talent? I have some guilty pleasure movies that I know are bad but love to watch.


Knitting. Travel. Reading. Bicycle riding.

Tips you would give an aspiring writer?

Finish the book. Starting is easy, but making your way to the end is the hard part. Then finish the next book, and the next.

How do you come up with story ideas?

Anything could spark a story idea. The best way to start is to ask, "What if...?" and take it from there. And listen to the characters. They're living the story and frequently will say, "Wait a minute, that's stupid. This is how I'd really do it."

Be sure and check out Susan's latest book entitled Dark Stranger.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Book Giveaway: Can God Be Trusted? by Thomas D. Williams

I have one copy of the book Can God Be Trusted? by Thomas D. Williams to giveaway. Please leave a comment below to enter. This contest is open to US only and no PO Box addresses. The winner will be chosen on November 29.

Book Summary:

Father Williams explores the most common obstacles that prevent people from trusting God, including personal betrayals, unfulfilled expectations, and seemingly unanswered prayers. He then explains what is reasonable to expect from God and offers practical tips for ways to grow in trust.

Williams is becoming a revered voice in the Christian community for his insightful writings on issues that really matter to Christians. In this new book, Father Williams will help readers understand, not only how to trust God in spite of doubts and confusion, but to truly know God can be trusted.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Book Review: The Weight Loss Plan for Beating Diabetes by Frederic Vagnini and Larence Chilnick

The Weight Loss Plan for Beating Diabetes by Frederic Vagnini, M.D. and Lawrence Chilnick
Fair Winds Press, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-59233-384-4
I received a free copy of this book for review from the publisher.

I was diagnosed as a Type II diabetic a few months ago and I have been on the look out for helpful information. Once I saw this book was available for review, I jumped for the chance to read a copy in hopes that it would be information to help me on my journey of fighting the diabetes.

The book is very detailed in the information that it gives. It is a 5 step program to include education, using medications to help weight loss roadblocks, nutritional roadblocks, exercise, and discovering a new lifestyle. I thought the book did a great job at education and laying out the possibilities that can happen to a person's body if they don't make a change and do what is needed to get their diabetes under control. So far, this is the most detailed book that I have read on diabetes and has made me motivated to make a change and follow the instructions it gives. The book contains a month of menus to help you get started on eating properly, exercise start up, and the overall importance of taking care of your body. I recommend this book for anyone wanting more information on diabetes information, prevention, and those actively battling the disease.

An article about the book and its authors.

Diabetic Weight Loss in Five Steps
By Frederic Vagnini, M.D., FACS, and Lawrence D. Chilnick,
Authors of The Weight Loss Plan for Beating Diabetes: The 5-Step Program That Removes Metabolic Roadblocks, Sheds Pounds Safely, and Reverses Prediabetes and Diabetes

Weight loss for a diabetic, especially those told repeatedly by physicians or nutritionists that their daily diet is the problem, often feel stymied by this challenge that's very hard to meet. Here's a step-by-step method that targets the underlying effects of diabetes that are really causing weight gain. This approach can work for almost every type-2 diabetic, and is not a roller coaster ride on the branded, pre-packaged diets that never work over the long run.

This Five Step Plan has been shown to be very successful when tied together and followed in this logical order:

Meeting the challenge of diabetic obesity and even keeping a desired weight in check requires defeating a set of roadblocks -- metabolic disorders -- that have to be treated properly. The Five Steps are successful because each focuses on eliminating the biological risks and reducing the effect of personal risk factors. In turn this helps maintain glycemic balance and fewer calories are consumed.

Step One: Education -- The More You Know The More You Can Lose
One key reason why so many people who are type-2 diabetics have lost control of their weight is that they do not understand their "risk factors" that were in play while they were pre-diabetic which led to full fledged type-2 diabetes. Learning all you can about the underlying roots and causes of your diabetic or pre-diabetic condition is a critical starting point to preventing over-eating and weight gain. A lengthy and in-depth medical history and work-up to determine the presence of both genetic diabetic and cardiovascular risk should be done by your physician before attempting any weight loss program. Knowledge gives you power, fortitude and greater ability to control your condition and to attack the metabolic roadblocks that diabetes has created.

Diabetics trying to lose weigh often face Metabolic Syndrome, a combination of lifestyle and "food-style" factors including:
Visceral Adiposity -- the belly fat, or roll of fat around the waist
High blood pressure
Low HDL ("good") cholesterol
High triglycerides
Elevated blood glucose levels causing organ damage.
Other weight loss roadblocks:
Inability to burn fat because of metabolic changes
Fluctuating insulin and glucose levels that provoke hunger cravings.
Musculoskeletal problems often are secondary to diabetes and obesity
Post-prandial hyperglycemia -- a rise in blood sugar after a meal
Gastroenterological side effects
Carbohydrate addiction
Food allergies
Fluid retention
Low testosterone and low libido
Cardio and peripheral vascular complications

Step Two: Medication -- Follow the Doctor's Orders
Diabetes medications are not a stand-alone solution for weight loss or glucose control, but they play an extremely important role in achieving your primary goal -- diabetes management leading to weight loss. One new approach is called the Triple Therapy Protocol to reduce elevated sugars, insulin resistance and beta cell preservation and regeneration using Metformin, TZD and Byetta. In general, all treatment decisions are geared to the spectrum of severity of the disease. Hormone treatments, testosterone, thyroid and adrenal function also should be discussed with your physician.

Step Three: Nutrition -- Eat Well and Lose Weight
Any diabetic weight loss program requires a sound nutritional program including targeted supplements and proper foods based on a modified Mediterranean diet. By seeking help from a specialist in diabetic diet you gain:
The benefits of a complete nutritional evaluation.
Development of a meal plan designed to stop weight gain and reduce it through a balance of proteins and carbohydrates
Control of glucose and insulin levels
Concentration on a wide range of proteins
Varied, moderate, low-carbohydrate meals
A correct level of carbohydrates/starches in each meal (grams per day)
The strong use of nutraceuticals (supplements and vitamins) to control appetite
Feeling satisfied/full without overeating or eating the wrong things
Enhanced thermogenesis (fat-burning effect)
Reduced beta-cell stress syndrome
Learning the value of high-fiber foods
Use of foods with high nutrient density
Identifying low-glycemic foods
Making a sound meal plan and stick to it

Step Four: Exercise -- Building Mind and Body
Exercise using the patient's own environment to improve both mind and body are essential to a stress reduction program aimed at ridding the patient of stressors at home and in the workplace. A structured program featuring low impact exercise, some weight work but also meditation, yoga and personal development activities (i.e. adult education) to improve lifestyle overall are essential.
There is definitive proof that if you are in a pre-diabetic state, exercise can keep you from becoming a diabetic -- even if all you do is some very moderate form of exercise on a regular basis. Other studies have indicated that even limited periods of exercise (e.g., two months) will have a positive effect on your A1C value and it can be significant. In one study A1C levels dropped from 8.31 to 7.65, despite the fact that there was no appreciable weight loss in the two groups of participants in the study.

Exercise, except in people who have injuries or severe health problems such as advanced heart disease, pulmonary conditions, or orthopedic restrictions, is always beneficial, no matter what level you can manage. For diabetic patients, exercise at least 30 minutes a day, 3-5 days a week. Exercise has one other great benefit -- it does wonders for mental health.

Step Five: Lifestyle -- Change Is Never Simple (But It Does Make a Difference)
For anyone who is at risk for type 2 diabetes or heart disease, making lifestyle changes is the final critical step in the five-step plan for diabetes control and weight loss. Lifestyle changes have been proven repeatedly to be one of the best ways to reduce the potential of pre-diabetes progressing to type 2 diabetes. Studies show that a better lifestyle can actually help you modify, reduce, and control the genetic roadblocks and risks you were born with.
Your own contribution to behavioral change may be the make-or-break factor. This doesn't mean you will be sent home from the doctor's office with an unbreakable list of do's and don'ts, rather a lifestyle plan you create together and that you implement, with a support system in place.

©2009 Frederic Vagnini, M.D., FACS, and Lawrence D. Chilnick, authors of The Weight Loss Plan for Beating Diabetes: The 5-Step Program That Removes Metabolic Roadblocks, Sheds Pounds Safely, and Reverses Prediabetes and Diabetes

Author Bios
Frederic J. Vagnini, M.D., FACS, coauthor of The Weight Loss Plan for Beating Diabetes: The 5-Step Program That Removes Metabolic Roadblocks, Sheds Pounds Safely, and Reverses Prediabetes and Diabetes, is a board-certified cardiovascular surgeon whose understanding of the ravages of cardiovascular diseases is grounded in twenty years as a cardiac surgeon. He hosts a popular call-in radio show and has published several books, including The Carbohydrate Addict's Healthy Heart Program, a New York Times bestseller.

Lawrence D. Chilnick, coauthor of The Weight Loss Plan for Beating Diabetes: The 5-Step Program That Removes Metabolic Roadblocks, Sheds Pounds Safely, and Reverses Prediabetes and Diabetes, is the authors and creator of the New York Times bestseller The Pill Book, which has sold 17 million copies and is still in print after more than two decades. He is a publishing executive, editor, teacher, journalist, broadcaster, and author of several popular health reference books, electronic products, audiotapes, and videos.

Book Review: Miscarriage of Justice by Kip Gayden

Miscarriage of Justice by Kip Gayden
Center Street books-A division of Hachette Book
ISBN: 978-1-59995-197-3
I received a free copy to review from the book publisher.

Miscarriage of Justice is an historical novel based on actual events that took place in 1913. It is the story of Dr. Walter and Anna Dotson and events that would change their lives forever. The Dotson's are a prominent family in a small Tennessee town and their actions would shock the community, like it had never been before. Mrs. Dotson has an affair and eventually her lover is murdered. The book chronicles the story of their lives, the court case, and the aftermath of the verdict.

I finished the book after a few hours of reading in a two day span because I couldn't stop reading. The writing is engaging and makes the reader keep guessing at what will happen next. It reads like a modern day tale that one would see in today's news. The back cover sums it up perfectly as it says, "Miscarriage of Justice is a perfect blend of suspense, intrigue, and powerful courtroom drama."

About the Author: Kip Gayden attended Vanderbilt University Law School and is currently a judge of the Frist Circuit Court in Nashville, Tennessee. Miscarriage of Justice is Judge Gayden's first historical novel. You can read further info at

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Author Interview-Jane Doiron

Jane Doiron, the author of my latest cookbook, has given an author interview for the blog about herself and her new book.

Tell me about work, family, hobbies, etc.
I have been teaching for 22 years. I currently teach 2nd grade, but I have taught 3rd grade and Pre-Kindergarten. My husband and I have been married for 22 years. I have a son in college and a son in high school. I guess my hobby is cooking! I've taken a few cooking classes over the years such as cake decorating and bread making.

What made you decide to write a cookbook?
I always wanted to have my own cookbook, but it wasn't possible until I discovered "self-publishing" on-line. If you want to publish a book with a self-publishing company, you don't need to worry about being turned down. With the rising cost of high school and college tuition, I thought the income from the book would also help us out.

How do you think this book is different from other cookbooks out there?
The recipes in my cookbook are family-friendly and give you the option of preparing in advance or freezing the meal. The whole idea is to help save you time when you're too tired or have very little time to prepare a complete meal.

What was the publishing process like? About how long did it take from the beginning of deciding to write to the finished product?
I started writing my manuscript in January of 2008. I submitted my manuscript to the publisher in April of 2009 and it was published in August of 2009. Editing the book was very time-consuming and stressful. I was responsible to catch any errors as the publisher would print what ever I approved.

Plans for other books? If so, will it be more cookbooks or another genre?
I would like to publish another cookbook. It would probably be a "Make-Ahead" type of cookbook as the response from busy moms has been great.

How did you choose the recipes for this book? Did you pick out your favorite things to eat/cook or did you choose them based on what you thought others would like?
I've tested out so many recipes over the years. The recipes in the book are family favorites. If my family approved the recipe, it went in the book!

Amazon Spike Day




On Friday, November 27, click on Color Me Jazzmyne’s Amazon page and buy a copy for yourself (and one for a friend). I have posted a link at the bottom of this posting. In order to be entered into the drawing to win a very special tote bag from the author, you must email a copy of your Amazon receipt to the folks at Author Exposure Book Blog (bookpromo at authorexposure dot com) within 24 hours of your purchase. Everyone who purchases a copy of Color Me Jazzmyne on November 27th from AND emails a receipt to will have a chance to win a nifty tote bag!!

Brief Synopsis:
Color Me Jazzmyne by Marian L. Thomas is a fictional story of a jazz singer named Naya Mona, who was raped by her father. In the tale, Naya recounts her life to her son whom she is meeting for the first time. How do you tell your son that your father is his?

Women will relate to the drama, romance, and struggles Naya Mona goes through as she takes on the stage name—Jazzmyne. Written She has a voice that commands your attention and takes you on a journey through the life of Naya Mona that is filled with the melodious tones that make Color Me Jazzmyne a true reading pleasure.

To read the first three chapters of Color Me Jazzmyne, visit the author’s website at

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Win A Kindle II

I have posted a link to the side where you can sign up to win a free Kindle II.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Book Giveaway: Finding Reason by Bryce Anderson

I have one copy of Finding Reason by Bryce Anderson to giveaway. Please leave a comment on the blog and be sure to leave your email address so I can contact you. This contest is open to US residents only and a winner will be chosen on November 20.

Author Interview: Bryce Anderson

Bryce Anderson is the author of Finding Reason. The book originally was self published under the title of Body of Knowledge, but has recently been picked up by Ridan Publishing and revamped for his debut. Bryce was gracious enough to answer some questions about himself and the book.

How did you come up with the idea for the story?

When I was in about 8th grade, I learned of a little known fact about a historical figure that absolutely blew me away. At the time, it was just mentioned to me casually, but the more I thought about it, the more it opened up endless possibilities to what it meant. I started toying with the concept of ‘What if…?’, and this story is basically a collection of my thoughts over the past 30 years on that concept. (Note, I completely understand if you are lost by what I’ve said here, but the fact of the matter is that this book is ‘A Different Kind of Mystery’, and it’s very hard to discuss without giving the ‘mystery’ away.)

What path did you take to become a writer?

I’ve always written short stories simply for the enjoyment of writing. I tell everyone it’s a hobby, and it really is. It would be very difficult for me to write for a living. As long as I had something to say that is worthwhile, entertaining, and uplifting, I’ll probably keep it as just a hobby. So, to answer the question, I took the slow path.

Why did you write the book using yourself as a main character? Do you think it makes the story more believable?

I write from the heart, and it is just much easier for me to write as if I am telling the story. Yes, I think it definitely makes the story more believable. In this case, the most common question I get asked about Finding Reason is: “Is it true?” – that means a lot to me, because I think it validates the fact that writing in the first person makes the story believable. I also might add here that about 90% of the information in the story did in fact happen to me at one time or another during my life, so from that standpoint, Finding Reason could almost be considered an autobiography.

Are there plans for a sequel?

Yes. I am working on one (in my head) now. I have actually inked 2 chapters, but this one is substantially more ‘sensitive’ material than the first, and I just want to make sure it comes out right, so I’m not rushing it. I can say that it will be equally as thought-provoking, if not more so, than Finding Reason.

Have you ever met someone that you based JP's character on?

Not one particular individual, but several people that together would make up one JP. I actually name about five names in the acknowledgements in the back of Finding Reason. I think this might be a good place for me to interject here that the original title of Finding Reason was Body of Knowledge. I tried to write JP as a genius, and I think I did a pretty good job, but, quite literally, pretty much everyone in my life that has had some sort of affect on me contributed to the character of JP. I tried to write him as the accumulation of all the intelligence / good things that have occurred to me over the past 30 years.

Fave author? Fave book? How many books do you read a year?

Michael Crichton, Shel Silversteen, Dan Brown, C.S. Lewis, and John Grisham are my mainstays. My favorite book is probably The Da Vinci Code, simply because I loved the concept of short chapters that were introduced in it, and it inspired me to write Finding Reason. As long as a book provides entertainment, enjoyment, and enlightenment, I will devour it. I read for pleasure, and generally very slowly. I probably average about 20 books a year or so.

Hobbies? Do you have any hidden talents?

I used to be pretty heavy into sports, but that came to a screeching halt in 2000 when I blew out my left knee while playing basketball. My life right now pretty much centers around my wife and kids. As I said previously, I love writing, but I have to want to write, so I would consider it my greatest hobby. I also have a knack for public speaking -- go figure…

How long did it take from starting the book to publishing? Was it a positive experience?

I finished writing Finding Reason in the Summer of 2002. I had no idea what to do with it at the time, so I had 30 copies printed up on 8.5 x 11 spiral bound paper, and gave out copies as presents for Christmas. The feedback was very positive, but I still didn’t have a clue what to do with it. I basically sat on it for about five years, and then heard about self publishing on the internet. It took very little work to get it into a professional looking paperback, and I bought about 40 copies or so to see if I could sell any. I heard about Goodreads, and, as they say, the rest in history.

Was it a positive experience? – man, good question. I would definitely say it was a growing / educational experience, but not necessarily a good one. I like the fact that many people have written to me and told me that something in Finding Reason changed their lives for the better. In that sense, yes, it was / is definitely a positive experience. I had no idea it would affect people in the manner it has.

Any tips for aspiring writers?

Stick with it. Believe in yourself and don’t sell yourself short. When I first finished Finding Reason, I thought, “I’m done.” -- NOT SO. In a very real way, writing the book was the easy part. If you want it to get read, that’s when the hard part kicks in. I have found that, as is the case with almost everything in life, it’s not what you know, so much as who you know. Writing is no different. It always helps to know someone in the business to get ‘an in’. If you have a good product, it should / will eventually sell itself.

Book Review: Finding Reason by Bryce Anderson

Did you know an ant has two stomachs? Bryce never knew that he had just met his new best friend when he heard those words. Yet, those opening words began a daily conversation between Bryce and J.P. Finding Reason is the story of two men that build a friendship that neither expected to happen. It is a story where both men discover as much about themselves, as they do about each other. Yet, the story grabs the reader and pulls them into believing they too are a character, sitting on the front porch, listening to the conversations that take place. The story is told in short chapters that engage you to keep reading to find out what happens next. It is a book that contains the comfortable niche a friendship fits into, yet it is full of the unexpected as two lives unfold. It is difficult to fully explain the story of the book without giving away too many details. However, if you choose to only read one book this year, this is the book you need to read.

Author Interview-Diana Francis

Diana Francis, the author of Bitter Night, has so graciously answered some questions about herself and her writing for my blog. After learning more about her, please go to the giveaways and enter to win her new book.

Short Bio:

I was raised on a cattle ranch in Northern California (outside a town called Lincoln which is now part of an enormous sprawl). I taught myself to ride a horse at the age of six, as no one had the time to teach me—they were all busy learning how to irrigate, how to cajole an angry bull into another field, how to pull a calf… Afraid of heights, and absolutely sure I was going to die, I managed to scramble up on the back of a very patient and lazy strawberry roan destrier, and plod off into the sunset.

Thereafter, I spent much of my early life on horseback, or so far buried into a book that the rest of the world ceased to exist (much to the annoyance of my family—it took several attempts to get my attention). We all had very specific jobs on the ranch and mine was horses and cattle—out rounding up at dawn. And since I rode bareback, my standing request was to wake me up 5 minutes before everyone else headed for the barn—time enough to dress and eat my Wheaties, and no sleep time wasted on saddling.

After high school, I attended college after college, racking up a BA and MA in creative writing and a Ph.D. in literature and theory. My very patient and supportive husband traipsed across the Midwest and back to Montana for me (though my husband insists that he’s been running and hiding and I just keep finding him), where I now teach at the University of Montana-Western. We also a son Q-ball, who in our humbly unbiased opinions, is the most wonderful son ever produced, and a daughter, Princess Caesar, who is the most wonderful daughter ever produced.

I have a fascination for the Victorians, weather, geology, horses, plants and mythology, I like spicy food, chocolate and cheesecake, and I have an odd sense of humor. (Or so I’ve been told. Often.) Incidentally, the Pharaoh is in fact my real name, and oddly enough, is of British origin.

Some of my current favorite sf/f writers are Ilona Andrews, Carol Berg, C.E. Murphy, Patty Briggs, Lynn Flewelling, Rachel Caine, David Coe, and Anne Bishop.

What path did you take to become a writer?

I was always a storyteller. I used to construct these elaborate stories for me and my friends—early role playing games. I grew up on a cattle ranch, so we had ample space for epic stories and we could use real horses.

I didn’t actually start writing until I was halfway through high school, and then it was poetry. Awful poetry, I might add. Really bad. But I had caught the writing bug. Still, it didn’t occur to me to write my stories. I read voraciously, but actually writing myself was too alien a concept to even enter my mind.

When I went to college, I decided on a lark to take a fiction writing course. It was a disaster. One of those where everyone is out to attack attack attack (I teach those courses now at a university and mine are much more positive if you ask me). Despite how awful it was, it taught me that I wanted to write. They hated my fantasy stories (not very literary), but I didn’t care. I wanted to write them.

So I wrote a lot. It was bad, too. Not as awful as the poetry, but very purple. Lots of adjectives and adverbs and grandiose language. But learning is in the practice and in reading, so I kept going. I wrote a trunk romance novel (I don’t know why romance at that point. I was reading a lot of it probably). And then I embarked on a fantasy epic.

I went to grad school and got an MA in creative writing and learned a lot of skills and I also learned I needed to write. I needed to just finish a novel and practice a whole lot more. So while I was working on my PhD., I wrote another novel and took literature classes. I wrote a few short stories, a few of which were published (check my website out under free stories for some of those).

Then I got a job in Montana, so we moved. I decided to take my nearly completed novel to Wiscon and participate in the writers workshop there (okay, only the first chapters). I got some encouragement there, and I also got a new idea for a book. So I came home and was thinking about submitting the novel when my friend called and said, do you want to do a book in a week? Um, what? It’s a strategy from the romance writers community and it’s very much like NanoWriMo, except you write in one week. The idea is that you can get time off from work and family for a week and pour all your energy into a book. By the end, if you don’t have an entire book done, you at least know if it is going to be worth pursuing, or if you want to work on something else. In the end, you’ve only invested a week, so it’s worth doing.

I started writing Path of Fate in that week and finished it about seven months later. I so desperately wanted to send it out to editors, but I knew that was a bad idea. It needed polishing. So I sent it to two beta readers who gave me feedback and then I revised. When I was done, I wanted to send it right out, but then I realized I had to master the art of the synopsis and coverletter. These are crucial. So I spent a couple of months perfecting them, and then started submitting to agents and editors. I was able to meet with one editor at World Fantasy Con and make a personal pitch, and a couple of weeks she made an offer on the trilogy.

Wow. Sorry about that. It got long.

Did you always want to be a writer?

Well, see the long-winded answer on that above.

How do you come up with story ideas?

Writers are magpies. We see bright shiny bits everywhere and we collect them. They might be historical facts, images, events—anything. We also are always wondering. Why did that happen? What would happen if? Why did he do that? What would make a person do that?

All the questions and shiny bits start to coalesce into stories and then we feel the need to write them down.

How do you balance teaching college courses, academic writing, and fiction writing?

It’s a mad juggle, quite honestly. I’ve learned to be fairly disciplined, though I wish I had better planning skills. I frequently panic and stay up later at night than I’d like. I have a family, too, and they get priority, so it means I’m frequently behind the eight ball.

Tips you have for aspiring writers?

Keep working at your craft. Read a lot and pay attentions to how writers do what they do. Study the industry. Know how to submit and to whom. There’s a lot of great info on the web. And last of all, persevere.


I don’t have a lot time for hobbies. I used to have some, but anymore, there’s just no time. Though whenever I can, I go geocaching with the family.

Do you have any hidden talents? Guilty pleasures?

My hidden talents involve being double jointed and being able to pick things up with me toes. Sad, huh? I can cook pretty well, though, and I make great foccaccia bread.

Fave author? Fave book? How many books do you read a year?

I don’t really have one favorite author or book, though if I had to pick one, I’d go with Jane Austen and either Pride and Prejudice or Persuasion. I read a fair bit, though not nearly as much as I’d like. I read a lot of my teaching, and then squeeze in all I can. My TBR pile is more like a mountain and I may never get to the bottom of it. Sigh. As they say, so many books, so little time.

Thanks for the wonderful questions and I appreciate you having me here today!

If you want to try out any of my books, you can read chapters and free short stories on my website:

You can follow me on twitter: dianapfrancis
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Friday, November 6, 2009

Review-Make Ahead Meals For Busy Moms by Jane Doiron

Make Ahead Meals For Busy Moms
Jane Doiron
Outskirts Press (2009)
ISBN: 978-1-4327-2086-5

Make Ahead Meals For Busy Moms has been classified as "The new approach to meal planning that will simplify your life," and I have to agree with that. Ms. Doiron's goal was to put forth a book that would help make meal times easier and quicker and she has done just that. The book is filled with tips and recipes that are based on the idea of preparing ingredients or the entire meal ahead of time and then being able to quickly pop it in the oven when you are ready to eat. The book contains 140 recipes that span every aspect of a meal to include appetizers, breakfast and brunch, main dishes, side dishes, soup, and desserts. The food ranges from traditional quick meals like sloppy joes to more elaborate recipes such as stuffed cornish hens and tiramisu.

The book is easy to read and the recipes are diverse to offer something for everyone. I particularly like the tips that Ms. Doiron has at the beginning of each recipe. These comments add a little special touch as she relays a personal note that helps add individuality to each recipe.

Although I do not have children, I have an hour commute to and from work each day and this cookbook is the perfect addition to my life. Over the past few weeks, I have used Ms. Doiron's method and recipes and have found that I do in fact have more time when I get home each night, I have stopped using the drive thru as often, and realized that I can have a large variety of delicious meals with very little effort throughout the work week.

I can't choose just one recipe that I have found to be my favorite as there are many that I love. However, the breakfast burritos have been the best addition to my daily routine. I can prepare these on the weekends and grab one out of the freezer each morning to quickly pop in the microwave and eat on the way to work.

I urge anyone looking for a new cookbook to check this one out, I can guarantee you won't be disappointed. You can also check out the website for the book at for additional information and a great newsletter.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Giveaway-Seven by Jacqueline Leo

I have five copies of Seven by Jacqueline Leo to giveaway. Please leave a comment to enter. The winners will be chosen on November 20. Sorry but US only and no PO Box addresses.

What is it about the number seven that has such a hold on us? Why are there seven deadly sins? Seven days of the week? Seven wonders of the world, seven colors of the spectrum, seven ages of man, and seven sister colleges? Why can we hold seven numbers or words in our working memory--but no more? Author Jackie Leo explores everything about this mystical, magical, useful, and fun number in her new book.


1. SEVEN is a tool to improve the quality of your life. It is a way to define time, synthesize ideas, and keep your mind performing at top speed in an era of distractions.

2. SEVEN is culturally significant. It pops up everywhere, structuring our world in ways so fundamental, we notice them only when we pause to look. Across the ages and across cultures, the number has acquired a huge scientific, psychological, and religious significance.

3. SEVEN is intriguing. Why, out of hundreds of recipes in a cookbook, do people return to the same seven, over and over? Why, when asked to choose a number between one and ten, does such a large majority of people choose seven? Why does it take seven rounds of shuffling to obtain a fully mixed deck of cards?

4. SEVEN is influential. You'll learn how the number seven shapes our thinking, our choices, and even our relationships.

5. SEVEN is practical. Throughout this book are Top Seven lists covering the best ways to get someone's attention, to build your personal brand, and to put yourself in the path of prosperity and good luck.

6. SEVEN is fun. You'll encounter surprising facts, intriguing puzzles, and hilarious anecdotes.

7. SEVEN is wise. You'll hear stories about the meaning of seven from Mehmet Oz, Sally Quinn, Liz Smith, Christina Ricci, and many others.
Artfully designed and full of enough insights to keep you engaged in conversation at the water cooler for years, SEVEN will provoke, enlighten, and amuse.