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.

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

I have five copies of How To Be Famous by Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt 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.

From braving the wilds of Los Angeles to the Costa Rican jungle, Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt have learned a thing or two about reality...television, that is. But while dominating the airwaves and tabloid covers every week may look like all fun and mind games, Speidi is here to tell you: becoming wildly famous requires hard work and a no-fail blueprint for success. Now, for the first time ever, Heidi and Spencer invite you behind the scenes as they reveal the ten-step plan that took them from nobodies to notorious! You will:

* Learn how to say I hate you without opening your mouth--Heidi's exclusive tutorial
* Increase your capacity for evil with Spencer's "Villain-o-meter"
* Discovery why getting and talking about plastic surgery is a must
* Unlock the secrets of celebrity couple math (e.g. Speidi > Heidi + Spencer)
* Mesmerize the media with outrageous behavior
* Bow down to the power of the paparazzi

...and much, much more!

With Heidi and Spencer as your personal coaches, you, too, can transform yourself into a red-carpet-ready superstar!