Friday, March 26, 2010

Spotlight - Author Sheila Roberts

Readers, please join me welcoming Sheila Roberts, author of Small Change, who's under the spotlight here today.

Sheila Roberts has had twenty-five books published, both in fiction and nonfiction under different names and in different languages. Her novels have been optioned for book clubs and film. Her book Angel Lane was an Amazon Top Ten Romance pick for 2009. When she’s not hanging out with her girlfriends or hitting the dance floor with her husband, she can be found writing about those things dear to women’s hearts: family, friends, and chocolate.

You can visit Sheila at her website. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

About Small Change -

Rachel, Jessica, and Tiffany all share a difficult secret: they’re all struggling with major financial problems. A sudden divorce has turned Rachel from a stay-at-home mom to a strapped-for-cash divorcee about to enter the workforce for the first time. Tiffany’s spending has been out of control for years, and her mounting credit card bills have put a major strain on her marriage. And Jessica just had the rug pulled out from under her. After struggling her entire life to make ends meet, she’s just gotten engaged to a man with a big bank account…and now he’s asked her to sign a pre-nup.

When the women share their problems at their weekly crafting group, they decide to band together to take control of their finances. As they struggle to bring balance back to their checkbooks and their lives, they learn that some things in life, like good friends, are truly priceless.

Check out an excerpt below :


There it sat, a Cloud Nine queen-sized luxury gold comforter with red ribbon applique and metallic embroidery. Forty percent off. It was the last one left. Tiffany Turner had seen it, and so had the other woman.

The woman caught Tiffany looking at it and her eyes narrowed. Tiffany narrowed hers right back. Her competitor was somewhere in her fifties, dressed for comfort in jeans and a sweater, her feet shod in tennis shoes for quick movement – obviously a sale veteran, but Tiffany wasn’t intimidated. She was younger. She had the drive, the determination.

It took only one second to start the race. The other woman strode toward the comforter with the confidence that comes with age, her hand stretched toward the prize.

Tiffany chose that moment to look over her competitor’s shoulder. Her eyes went wide and she gasped. “Oh, my gosh.” Her hands flew to her face in horror.

The other woman turned to see the calamity happening in back of her.

And that was her undoing. In a superhuman leap, Tiffany bagged the comforter
just as her competitor turned back. Score.

Boy, if looks could kill.

It would be rude to gloat. Tiffany gave an apologetic shrug and murmured, “Sorry.”

The woman paid her homage with a reluctant nod. “You’re good.”

Yes, I am. “Thanks,” Tiffany murmured, and left the field of battle for the customer service counter.

As she walked away, she heard the other woman mutter, “Little beast.”

Okay, now she’d gloat.

She was still gloating as she drove home from the mall an hour later. She’d not only scored on the comforter, she’d gotten two sets of towels (buy one, get one free), a great top for work, a cute little jacket, a new shirt for Brian, and a pair of patent metallic purple shoes with 3 1/2 inch heels that were so hot she’d burn the pavement when she walked. With the new dress she’d snagged at thirty percent off (plus another ten percent off for using her department store card), she’d be a walking inferno. Brian would melt when he saw her.

Her husband would also melt if he saw how much she’d spent today, so she had to beat him home. And since he would be back from the office in half an hour, she was now in another race, one that she didn’t dare lose. That was the downside of hitting the mall after work. She always had to hurry home to hide her treasures before Brian walked in the door. But she could do it.

Tiffany followed the Abracadabra shopping method: get the bargain and then make it disappear for a while so you could later insist that said bargain had been sitting around the house for ages. She’d learned that one from her mother. Two years before, she had successfully used the Guessing Game method: bring home the bargains and lull husband into acceptance by having him guess how incredible little you’d paid for each one.

She’d pull a catch of the day from its bag and say, “Guess how much I paid for this sweater.”

He’d say, “Twenty dollars.”

“Too high,” she’d reply with a smirk.

“Okay. Fifteen.”

“Too high.

“Ten.”

“Nope. Eight ninety-nine. I’m good.”

And she was. As far as Tiffany was concerned the three sexiest words in the English language were fifty percent off. She was a world-class bargain hunter (not surprising since she’d sat at the feet of an expert – her mom), and she could smell a sale a mile away.

Great as she was at ferreting out a bargain, she wasn’t good with credit cards. It hadn’t taken Tiffany long to snarl her finances to the point where she and Brian had to use their small, start-a-family savings and Brian’s car fund to bail her out.

She’d felt awful about that, not only because she suspected they’d never need that family fund anyway (that suspicion was what led to her first shopping binge), but because Brian had suffered from the fallout of her mismanagement. He’d had his eye on some rusty old beater on the other side of the lake and had been talking about buying and restoring it. The car wound up rusting at someone else’s house, thanks to her. Even the money they’d scraped together for her bailout wasn’t enough. She’d had to call in the big guns: Daddy. That had probably been harder on Brian than waving good-bye to their savings.

“Tiffy, baby, you should have told me,” he said the day the awful truth came out and they sat on the couch, her crying in his arms. She would have, except she kept thinking she could get control of her runaway credit card bills. It seemed like one minute she only had a couple and the next thing she knew they’d bred and taken over. “I thought I could handle it.”

It was a reasonable assumption since they both worked. There was just one problem: their income had never quite managed to keep up with the demands of life. It still didn’t.

She sighed. Brian so didn’t understand. All he did was pay the mortgage, utilities, and the car payments. He had no idea how much it really cost to live. First of all, they had to eat. Did he have any idea how much wine cost? Or meat? Even toilet paper wasn’t cheap. And they had to have clothes. She couldn’t show up at Salon H to do nails in sweats, for heaven’s sake. What woman wanted to go to a nail artist who looked like a slob? Food and clothes were the tip of the expense iceberg. Friends and family had birthdays; she couldn’t give them IOU’s. And she had to buy Christmas presents. And decorations. And hostess gifts. Now it was June and soon there would be picnics at the lake and neighborhood barbecues. A girl could hardly show up empty handed. Then there were the bridal showers to attend, and baby . . . No, no. She wasn’t going there.

After the great credit card clean-up the Guessing Game method lost its effectiveness and she’d had to retire it. Hiding her purchases worked better anyway . . . .
Note - This book was received for review/feature consideration. This is part of a virtual blog tour by Pump Up Your Book Promotion.
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Monday, March 22, 2010

Spotlight - Author Judi Moreo


Judi Moreo is the author of You Are More Than Enough: Every Woman’s Guide to Purpose, Passion, and Power, and it’s companion, Achievement Journal. She is also the co-author and compiler of Life Choices: Navigating Difficult Paths (Turning Point International).

Judi is an award-winning businesswoman and motivational speaker. Her superb talent for customizing programs to meet organizational needs has gained her a prestigious following around the world. Her passion for living an extraordinary life is mirrored in her zeal for helping others realize their potential and achieve their goals. With her dynamic personality and style, she is an unforgettable speaker, inspiring motivator, and an exceptional life coach.

Read an excerpt!

My life had fallen apart in front of my eyes. Our beautiful home with swimming pool and guest cottages was repossessed and I moved to a tumbledown house with rotting floorboards and broken windows with no money to fix it up. I had barely enough money to buy food, surviving on cheese and crackers. Things could not get any worse, or so I thought. I was wrong; it could definitely get worse…

Mary Monaghan
New Beginnings

If you have never been fired, you are missing out on one of life’s universal defining moments that has the potential to set great transformation and growth into motion. It can also be a devastating blow that serves up the dreaded crippling sucker-punch from your blind spot. Your attitude and how you respond to this defining moment will determine which paradigm becomes your reality…

Jesse Ferrell
Defining Moment: You Are Fired

I’m an intelligent person, with rights, and a caring mother ― and I don’t believe in “no choice.” I had read and learned all that I possibly could about leukemia, and my questions were on point, but the doctors had no answers, just the same protocol, no matter what effect or circumstances. Nor did the doctor look my child in the eye as he talked over him to a woman, who his tone indicated, would realize her place and unquestioningly follow his direction. He was incensed that I would question his judgment…

Nancy Todd
Playing the Hand You’re Dealt

This was my first encounter with ‘classes,’ the have’s and have not’s … and my brother and I were warned NOT to go beyond the barriers of Second Class. First Class was strictly forbidden!

Anne Dreyer
Class is A Choice

My purpose in this writing is not to tell you yet another story about how adversity ends in happiness. My purpose is to share with you the formula for creating your own successes. You are also a survivor. Everyone is a potential survivor. You may have a specific story (or stories) of survival, pain, loss, or love and heartbreak, or your story may be one of general survival ― the overall struggle associated with living in a troubled world, with loneliness, the search for the meaning and purpose of life, feeling overwhelmed and powerless, as though you don’t live your life, instead your life lives you!

Dr. Casey McNeal
The Circle of Influence

Walking across the hall to the family room, I sunk into the big sofa against the window. A feeling that everything was going to be alright came over me as I soaked up the warmth from the sun’s last rays, closed my eyes, and let my thoughts drift back to another time when a young woman made a decision that would change her life and mine forever…

Sandy Kastel
Detours

Great! Here I was by myself in this hospital room and I had no idea what to ask the neurologist. I felt like I needed to ask something intelligent at this point. Then I remembered watching Days of our Lives on television. Yep! I asked the only “intelligent” question I could think of … the one I had heard them ask on the show. “If it’s a tumor … is it operable?”

Karen Phillips
7 Keys 2 Success

During this time, I caught the manager and a couple of the other branch employees embezzling from the company. They were terminated and I became the manager. I proceeded to work all hours trying to figure out what was going on in the financial side of things and what we really did as a company. I started sleeping in the recliner in my father’s old office. This went on for about six months. Everything finally came to a head; was I going to run this part of the business or sell it and go to college?

Stephen Philpott
Life of Success on My Own Terms

Instead of achieving “normal,” I was learning to love my quirks and differences, and my life was becoming better and better. I was learning to embrace the feeling of being a stranger in the world. I was learning to be an observer experiencing life rather than being attached to it. I was learning to love where I came from and live life to its fullest, to understand we’re all one and on the same path to ultimate inner peace and happiness. I was learning forgiveness and understanding for myself and others. That released the chains of resentment and bitterness that were holding me and allowed me to have more love, compassion, and understanding of people. Even though I treasure my talent as a singer, I treasure these gifts of love, understanding, and compassion more…

Jennifer Joseph
Follow Your Heart

I am often asked the secret to our marriage. It’s no secret that good friends like to laugh, companions like to talk, and lovers like to love. It is helpful if you choose to smile, if you choose to listen, and if you choose to remember the good times, and not the hard times, when he reaches for you. Indeed, if you choose to remind yourself how lucky you are he still reaches…

Sandra Gore-Neilsen
A True Love Story

I was horrified. I gave a speech, a lecture on right and wrong, the rule of law, and the fairness of our situation. The audit was bogus, illegal, and strictly a grandstanding bureaucratic tactic. “We don’t need a politician,” I recall saying. “We need justice.”

To my everlasting regret, I refused to make that campaign contribution. It was the biggest mistake in my life…

Dan Roberts
George, Martha, and I

There were about twenty of us gathered beside the track. A luge coach standing up on the track wall asked anyone who wanted to try it to take a step forward. Immediately, eighteen people took a step back. There I stood, along with a lone fireman from Maryland. While we hadn’t taken a step back, we hadn’t actually stepped forward either. We slowly turned and looked at each other and said, “Why not?”

Anne Abernathy
Why Not?

I’ve always been involved in raising funds for breast cancer research. Both my aunt and younger cousin have lost their breasts to the disease, so I wanted to help in whatever way I could. Every fundraiser I saw for “the cause” I could be counted on to support. I knew there was a possibility that genetics might mean I needed to be careful, but I never really worried. I felt like I helped “the cause” so I was safe. I should have paid more attention to what the message was behind “the cause,” instead of just raising money for them.

“Yes, it’s cancer.” I heard those words come over the telephone on August 28, 2006…

Victoria Lane
Yes, It’s Cancer

I drove up the road and into the heart of downtown Seattle, wondering just how to find a shelter to go into. My daughter, seeing folks laughing on the street corner said, “People are laughing, Mom. I didn’t know people laughed in the city; I thought everybody just hurt each other.” My son’s observation about “life on the outside” was the number of signs telling people what to do and when to do it. “No Parking, No Stopping, No Walking.” A telling statement to the neurosis we had just abandoned. The lady at the “cheap” motel looked at us, our car full of stuff, and our eyes tired, and gave us an incredible deal on the room. I got out the phone book and started to make calls…

Susan Haller
Life Forced

Where was the beauty and the peace in me? Everything felt like war. Over the course of the next two years we had to let go of our home. Our life savings and retirement savings were gone. My time was spent in appointments with doctors, physical therapists and lawyers. I could not work and was in tremendous pain. My husband worked day and night taking care of me, Michael, handling the household chores and working to pay the bills. All the things we had built financially for twenty years together had disappeared. I felt quite lost and abandoned by many, and especially God…

Ginette Osier Bedsaul
An Enacted Miracle

I have been severely overweight my entire life. As an adult, doctors categorized me as morbidly obese, defined as being one hundred or more pounds overweight. Since early childhood, I have been on multiple diets. I tried everything, but was not successful in losing weight. Each year I grew heavier, I became more hopeless. Eventually my body began to break down from years of obesity, and I developed serious health problems, such as type II diabetes. I was hoping I would be able to lose this weight on my own…

Jennifer Tarlin
A New Life

I had to sleep on a pull-out couch with my two brothers. We hardly had anything to eat and life became even harder, because my mother had three more children. Moving there simply continued the nightmare I had already been living. I had no friends because we moved around so much, I was embarrassed because my clothing was so ragged, and I had a lot of health issues because of the lack of food.

One very clear memory was a time when I went to a new school, I was given a pencil. It was so special to me because it was one of the few gifts I ever received and it was brand new. I really treasured that pencil … it had an eraser that had never been used…

Sherial Bratcher
Creating My Dream Life

Everybody knew what was going on, but nobody spoke about it. Being female made me the center of attention for my father. Not in the loving, caring, protective sort of way little girls deserve to experience. My father was the one I needed protection from. When I was nine years old, I got up enough nerve to tell my mother what had been going on…

Andrea Chestnut
A Better Way to Live

Personal loss and tragedy creates an entirely different set of circumstances, completely changing the picture of your world. My mother’s death was such an event. Her death was the most devastating experience of my life. Of all the things I imagined about my life, I never thought she would not be here with me. I made the decision not to keep trying to kill myself after my mother died. I was not trying to slit my wrists, but I was participating in a series of events that had suicidal tendencies. I was developing a pattern of reckless behavior. I was making poor choices. I was so lost, I missed her so much, and I wanted to die…

Deborah Clark
There’s a Story for That

I had nowhere to go but back to my family who couldn’t provide for me before. Now I was coming back and bringing another mouth to feed as well. I can’t tell you how many times I was told I couldn’t make it. Most people around me told me to give my baby to my husband’s family. I refused as I knew no one could take better care of her than me. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I absolutely knew in my heart that I could…

Aimmee Kodachian
Finding My Purpose

When opportunity knocks, do you open the door ― or complain about the noise? Opportunity is often a matter of perception. Within our vision of the world is the image of ourselves. It may seem like some people have all the luck; they are randomly chosen. Yet, often luck is not random at all, but a time when preparation and opportunity come together…

Edie Raether
When Opportunity Knocks

No one would have thought such a minor incident would have had such a profound effect on a child. Some fifty-five years later, I can still see the sun reflecting off the new white paint. I can almost feel the breeze. In my darkest moments I can clearly hear the stern, commanding voice of the wrinkled old lady as she leaned into my face and said with a sneer, “You can’t go in. You’re much too small.”

Charlotte Foust
Invisible

We always have choices. Do we imprison ourselves, creating shackles around our heart, mind, or bodies? What we do with our choices can lead to freedom or imprisonments. Whether we are speaking of political freedoms, attitudinal freedoms, physical freedoms, or most importantly our spiritual freedoms, each time I give out a penny, or pay with any Lincoln money, I send a silent prayer and intention…

Rev. Cattel
The Mystical Hand of Freedom

There were warning signs all along my fall into darkness. Like most people, I looked the other way. One of the first signs was the fact that I always made sure I had alcohol in my house. It was as necessary as toothpaste, paper towels, or laundry detergent. And the best part was I, like most people, could purchase all of my “necessities” from the same store. This was a very convenient way to lose control without ever noticing. Yet, losing control was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. It expedited my demise and prevented me from dragging my self-destructive behavior into this decade…

Elle Swan
The Best of You

After what could have been no more than fifty feet, the tunnel narrowed dramatically until I could no longer swim. The tunnel had silted in and I had to crawl along the bottom. I moved slowly, searching ahead with the beam of my underwater light until the scuba tank on my back scraped the top of the tunnel and became tangled in rocks and sea plants…

Bob Walker
What Was I Thinking? Confessions of an Avid Adventurer

We were late arriving in Sun City and had missed most of the show. We made our way into the showroom in our traveling clothes, just in time to see Julio sing his last song. Marty was very upset. The tickets had cost her a lot of money and she had really wanted to see Julio’s show. Not knowing who he was, but being from Las Vegas, I said I was sure that we’d be able to go backstage and meet him. So we marched up to Stage Door 4 where a group of ladies were screaming and jumping up and down. I walked right to the front of the crowd with Marty in tow, presented my Las Vegas modeling agency business card to the security guard, and said, “Please tell Julio that I’m here.”

Judi Moreo
The Choice That Changed My Life Forever
If you would like to find out more about the woman behind Life Choices: Navigating Difficult Paths, visit www.judimoreo.com. If you would like to find out more about the book, visit http://www.lifechoicesbook.com/.
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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Author Guest Post - F.M. Meredith

Readers, please join me welcoming F.M. Meredith who's guest blogging here today. F. M. Meredith, who also writes under the name Marilyn Meredith, is the author of nearly thirty published novels including the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series, An Axe to Grind is the newest from Oak Tree Press.

About the book - Detective Doug Milligan and his partner question suspects in the murder of a stalker including the stalker's target, her boyfriend, father and brother, as well as the stalker’s step-father. The investigation leaves little time for Doug to see his fiancĂ©e and fellow officer, Stacey Wilbur. Stacey handles a molestation case which involves the son of a friend. She and her mother talk wedding plans, though all must wait until Doug's renter, Officer Gordon Butler finds another place to live. When Doug disappears while tailing a suspect, Stacey sets out to find him, hoping she can reach him time.

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Where Do You Get Your Ideas? 

That’s a common question authors are asked. Of course I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ll tell you where my ideas come from, staring with my latest book, An Axe to Grind.

I’m a member of the San Joaquin chapter of Sisters in Crime and go to meetings as often as possible. If the speaker is going to be a law enforcement officer or any other form of public safety personnel who comes in contact with criminals or crimes, I’m going to make an effort to be there.

At one meeting, the county coroner was the speaker. He brought grisly slides of murder victims to show. His portion of the meeting was right before we ate lunch and he took special delight in describing in great detail what he showed on the screen. Since most of the women present were middle-aged or older, I think he thought he’d make us sick. We disappointed him.

I always take a notebook when I attend any of these meetings. He showed a slide of a corpse with a missing head. He talked about what kind of crime he’d thought it was when he first arrived on the scene, the jokes the cops made, and where the head turned up. Though his meeting was several years ago, I kept my notes.

You can see how I used the information in the opening pages of An Axe to Grind.

We also had a professor of criminology speak to us about stalkers and I put the information I learned from him to good use in the same book. There are some other things that happen in this particular book that came directly from speakers at our meetings.

Taking notes about everything and anything that piques my interest may at one time or another be fodder for one of my books. For the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, I’m particularly interested in crimes that happen in small towns, and even better, those that happen in or near beach communities.

Whenever I’m on a trip, especially to the coast, I pay close attention to what the houses and small shops and stores look like. Since Rocky Bluff is a fictional community, I can insert some of the things that I see into the setting, especially if it’s going to help move the plot along.

I’ve always collected newspaper articles about intriguing crimes. Of course I’m not going to write about them exactly as they happened, but asking the great question, “What if?” I can go from there and come up with something interesting that will work for my mystery.

Sometimes people tell me about crimes that happen in their own families. Again, I’d never write it as it happened, but from what they’ve told me, I can jump ahead with a whole idea of my own.

To tell the truth, ideas come flooding in all the time from everywhere. It’s mainly a matter of keeping my eyes open and my ears tuned in. And I’m not above eavesdropping on conversations in restaurants either. And isn’t it amazing what people will say when talking on cell phones? You’d think they’d lower their voices when discussing intimate details or business transactions. It’s all fodder for the next mystery.

An Axe to Grind is just one example of ideas gathered from many places to weave into a plot for a crime novel.

Marilyn Meredith
http://fictionforyou.com
http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com
Great  tips there, Meredith. Thanks for sharing them with us! As always, feel free to ask the author questions or leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Note - This book was received for review/feature consideration. This is part of a virtual blog tour by Pump Up Your Book Promotion.
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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Author Guest Post - George Bishop

Readers, please join me welcoming George Bishop, author of Letter to My Daughter, who's guest blogging here today.

About the Book - A fight, ended by a slap, sends Elizabeth out the door of her Baton Rouge home on the eve of her fifteenth birthday. Her mother, Laura, is left to fret and worry—and remember. Wracked with guilt as she awaits Liz’s return, Laura begins a letter to her daughter, hoping to convey “everything I’ve always meant to tell you but never have.”

In her painfully candid confession, Laura shares memories of her own troubled adolescence in rural Louisiana, growing up in an intensely conservative household. She recounts her relationship with a boy she loved despite her parents’ disapproval, the fateful events that led to her being sent away to a strict Catholic boarding school, the personal tragedy brought upon her by the Vietnam War, and, finally,  the meaning of the enigmatic tattoo below her right hip.

Absorbing and affirming, George Bishop’s magnificent debut brilliantly captures a sense of time and place with a distinct and inviting voice. Letter to My Daughter is a heart-wrenching novel of mothers, daughters, and the lessons we all learn when we come of age.

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Writing from a Woman’s Point of View 

One question I’ve often been asked about my novel Letter to My Daughter is how I managed to write the story from a woman’s point of view. How did I get inside the narrator’s head and skin, both the adult Laura (who’s anxiously waiting for word from her runaway daughter) and the teenage Laura (falling in love with a boy for the very first time)?

I should mention first that what I’ve done isn’t that unusual in fiction. Look at any novel written in the standard omniscient third person (he said, she said, they said), and you’ll see that the author likely speaks through a whole world of characters who do not share his or her gender, let alone age, nationality, race, or profession. James Patterson does this. Dan Brown does this. J. K. Rowling does this. (Stephenie Meyer doesn’t.)

Still, I understand how readers might wonder how a writer can pull off this kind of ventriloquist act. For me, the challenge lies not so much in capturing the larger emotions, but in rendering the smaller idiosyncratic thoughts and gestures of a character. I’ll explain.

Think of universal feelings such as hope, fear, fury, jealousy, love. I’m convinced that people everywhere, no matter their gender, no matter their environment, experience these feelings the same way. The frustration felt by a billionaire Wall Street banker unable to close a deal is the same as the frustration felt by a Mumbai rickshaw driver who’s stuck in traffic and can’t get to his fare. In Letter to My Daughter, it wasn’t that difficult for me to wiggle into these broader feelings that Laura has—her anguish, her regret, her joy. I know those feelings. We all do.

The hard part, though, is in getting the particulars right. What features, for example, does a fifteen-year-old girl notice when she looks at a boy she admires? I’m pretty sure they’re not the same features that the boy notices when he looks at the girl. Or how does a teenage girl react when she’s being grounded by her parents—her actions, her thoughts, her arguments—as opposed to how I might have reacted in a similar situation when I was a teenager? This is where the real work of fiction writing comes in. For me, the only way to accomplish it is through deep and careful imagining. I try to put myself in that person’s skin and see, hear, and feel what they see, hear, and feel, from the inside out, as it were. The danger always, the lazy way to do it, is to write from the outside in—to just sketch a generalized picture of “a teenage girl having a fight with her parents,” for instance, by using what we’ve all seen before in books or movies or on TV.

Of course, writing from the inside out of a character is still no guarantee that I, or any writer, will get the details right. But when, by happy chance and deep imagining, this kind of writing succeeds, the result is that we as readers forget for a moment who we are, who the writer is, and even where we are, and for a few blissful pages we're able to disappear completely into a different body in a different world.

*********************

George Bishop holds an MFA from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, where he won the department’s Award of Excellence for a collection of stories. He has spent most of the past decade living and teaching overseas in Slovakia, Turkey, Indonesia, Azerbaijan, India, and Japan. He now lives in New Orleans.

Find out more about George and this book at Random House’s website.
Thank you for that insightful post, dear author. It answers questions I've often had while reading a book that's stuck as being particularly deep and thoughtful or like you said, writing intuitively from another gender or person's perspective. What do you think, readers? If you have any questions or thoughts for this author, share them in the comments. 

Note - This book was received for review/feature consideration. This is part of a virtual blog tour by Pump Up Your Book Promotion.
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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Author Guest Post - Susan Wilson

Photobucket Pictures, Images and PhotosReaders, please join me welcoming Susan Wilson, author of One Good Dog, who's guest blogging here today.

Susan Wilson is the author of Beauty - a modern retelling of Beauty And The Beast which was made into a CBS TV movie—as well as four other novels. One Good Dog is the story of a man who is down on his luck, and a dog who is all out of chances. Together they discover the true meaning of salvation, redemption, and unconditional love.

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Photobucket Pictures, Images and PhotosThank you so much for inviting me to guest blog on A BOOK BLOGGER'S DIARY. I love your site and hope that this is the start of a long association. As we learned from the election in 2008, grassroots are the strongest. We’re all brought up to believe that success is measured in the New York Times Review of Books, but the truth is, it’s here, among readers who love good books and love to talk about them.

My latest novel, ONE GOOD DOG, appeals on several levels: it’s a dog story, it’s a redemption story, and, ultimately, it’s a love story—but not in the traditional way. Adam March and the dog foisted upon him, Chance, have both led hard-scrabble, tough lives. Both have been successful in their careers: Adam as a corporate executive and Chance as a fighting pit bull. Now both are on the skids and need to learn to trust one another in order to rise from the ashes of their lives.

I didn’t set out to write a dog story, at least not one that allowed a dog to be a narrator. I expected that the dog would be a metaphor or a sounding board, at the very most a prop. But Chance had other ideas. He spoke and I listened, or rather, I wrote down everything he said. His story seemed to come from whole cloth. This is a testament to the strange way writing happens. You can plot and outline and synopsize for all you’re worth, but the true story, the real story, spins out of some place no MRI will ever view and lands on the page.

I hope that visitors to A BOOK BLOGGER'S DIARY take a peek behind that gorgeous cover and enter a world where man and beast are equals, where learning to let go of history can lead to a safe future.
Sounds like a truly wonderful book in the tradition of Marley and Me. It's on my to-read list once Spring break is over and I can get some free time, lol. In the meantime, if you've read this book or have some thought or comment for the author, share them with us in the comment section. Thanks for stopping by, Susan!

Note - This book was received for review/feature consideration.
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Monday, March 8, 2010

Jill Marie Landis talks about Self Promotion...

Heart of Stone: A Novel (Irish Angel Series)Readers, please join me welcoming Jill Marie Landis, author of Heart of Stone who's guest blogging here today.

Jill's twenty+ novels have earned distinguished awards and slots on such national bestseller lists as the USA TODAY Top 50 and the New York Times Best Sellers Plus. She is a seven-time finalist for Romance Writers of America's RITA Award in both Single Title and Contemporary Romance as well as a Golden Heart and RITA Award winner.

Her latest book, Heart of Stone is set in the 1870s and introduces readers to Laura Foster, a woman with dark secrets in her past --- stemming back from her childhood as the daughter of Irish immigrants. Having escaped a life she never chose, Laura is finally living her dream. But even after four years of posing as a respectable widow in Glory, Texas, Laura is always afraid someone from her past might reveal her true identity. When Reverend Brand McCormick comes calling, Laura does all she can to discourage him as a suitor. His reputation would be shattered if Laura’s former life is discovered. But it’s not only Laura’s past that threatens to bring him down --- it’s also his own.

And here is Jill herself to talk all about...
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Shameless Self-Promotion

My 22nd novel is hitting the stores in March and with it comes a more grueling task than actually writing the book—promoting it.

When published writers agree to appear at book signings, it’s for various reasons. Appearances are a great excuse to get out of the house, dress up, and converse with real and not imagined characters. Signings are a way to connect with readers, to hear about what they like to read and how they choose certain books and authors over others. Sometimes booksellers provide a tray of cookies or other yummy treats to entice readers to the autograph table. (Now we’re talking!)

When I was first published there were long lists of independent bookstores to visit. Stores owned by enthusiastic booklovers who hand-sold volumes of books to loyal readers. They rallied the troops for signings and each event had a fun party atmosphere. It was a joy to travel around the country visiting them.

Over the years those cozy little book nooks began to be replaced by the big box chain and mall stores. Thankfully many of those corporate stores did and still do employ enthusiastic booksellers who know books and authors and can make recommendations to readers. But nowadays many of those chain outlets have gone by the wayside, too.

Today a large percentage of promotion is done via the web. Sites like A Book Blogger’s Diary connect writers with more readers than they could possibly meet one-on-one in stores. Book give-aways put books in the hands of readers who might not pick one up on their own, but after “winning” a book, they discover a new favorite author.

Blog tours aren’t as intimate as talking to readers face to face, but booklovers are booklovers no matter where you find them. And for a writer like me, who would much prefer to stay at home with my hair in a scrunchie, wearing my ratty p.j. bottoms and rubber flip flops, a blog tour is the perfect venue for promotion. I can pen blogs full of wonderful scenarios describing my “fabulously glamorous writing life” and no one but my close friends and family will ever know whether they are truth or fiction.

The one thing I miss about real book signings—besides the cookies—is making new friends and hearing feedback. I miss not being able to personally pitch my latest, HEART OF STONE , a story set in a fictional town called Glory, Texas in the 1870’s, because it’s a book that I loved writing. It’s one of those rare books that seemed to write itself. It’s also the first book in The Irish Angels series. Not only are these page-turning western historical romances, but stand-alone stories of four sisters separated when they were very, very young and how they come to find each other.

HEART OF STONE features Laura Foster, a woman whose past is so dark and shameful that she’s changed her name and her life, hoping her secret will never be revealed. What Laura never counted on was falling in love with the wrong man; the one man whose life would be ruined if the truth ever surfaced. What she doesn’t know is that he is not without a secret himself.

HEART OF STONE is story of two people who can no longer outrun their pasts, a hero and heroine who must stand up for who they are and, through the love that brought them together, find the strength and courage to teach themselves and others to forgive.

Since I’ve just taken the time to talk about HEART OF STONE, I’ll spare you sitting through a story about my glamorous writing life. But could someone please send me a cookie?
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Just one? How about an entire pile of delicious Girl Scout cookies? Right, all yours then :) You deserve them for writing such yummy stories! 

I know it's the digital era and all that. But I'm glad you stopped by anyhoo, Jill. It was fun having you here and reading your refreshingly honest and fun guest post.

Readers, as always, your thoughts and comments are most welcome.

Note - This book was received for review/feature consideration.
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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Review and Giveaway - Beautiful Dead by Eden Maguire

Beautiful Dead: Jonas Bk.1 (v. 1)Author Eden Maguire’s lifelong admiration for Emily Bronte's timeless classic, Wuthering Heights, ties in with her fascination for the dark side of life and informs her portrayal of the restless, romantic souls in The Beautiful Dead. She spends her time between the US and the UK, where she has published a great deal. This is her American debut.

Beautiful Dead: Jonas Bk.1 (v. 1) (March 2010, 279 pgs) is a dark YA novel about a teenage girl, Darina, who loses the love of her life in a street brawl. Phoenix, her murdered boyfriend, is actually the fourth student at Ellerton High to die under odd circumstances.

Rumors of ghosts and strange happenings tear through the small community as it confronts these four seemingly unrelated tragedies. Darina initially thinks she’s finally gone insane. Only after she physically kisses Phoenix does she begin to realize that the dead from Ellerton High have returned—and they have unfinished business!

Darina is at the edge, looking over. She can’t escape her intense heartache or the impossible apparitions of those that are meant to be dead. Nor can she escape the sound of beating wings echoes inside her head…

My thoughts - I have to say this novel exceeded my expectations by leaps and bounds. The way it began, slowly and somewhat incoherently, with Darina acting out against her Mom/world and indulging in teenage drama as a mask for her inner grief, gave me the impression this would be a run of the mill kind of YA story. Thankfully, it isn't. Moreover, only the youth of the characters makes it feel like a YA novel, otherwise it'd have fit in well with other mainstream Paranormal/suspense books.

The story grows more intense with each subsequent page and develops into this sort of amateur whodunit with a paranormal bent and a Romeo-Juliet kind of doomed romance thrown in. This is the first in a series of four books by Eden Maguire and the main focus is solving the mystery of Jonas' death. That did disappoint me a bit as I was really rooting for Darina and Phoenix and would have loved to see that mystery solved first. My guess is the suspense will be eked out through the other books in this series, culminating in a grand finale which will be Phoenix's story. Naturally, I look forward to reading the other books and would recommend this one to even those who typically don't read YA novels.

Check out this website for lots of other information on this book and series - http://teenfire.ning.com/group/BeautifulDead

GIVEAWAY

To win a copy of this book, recommend me another YA paranormal book.

Rules :
- You can stop by once each day and leave a new recommendation.
- You can also tweet this giveaway once each day (RT @callmeabookworm) and leave a link to your tweet in the comments.
- Open to US only
- Ends Midnight CST of April 2, 2010
- Winner will be announced here on the blog. It's up to the participants to check back to see if they won.

Note - This book was received for review/feature consideration.
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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Wendy Wax talks about Dangerous Reading Habits

Magnolia WednesdaysReaders, please join me welcoming Wendy Wax, author of Magnolia Wednesdays (releasing today!) who's guest blogging here today. A former broadcaster, Wendy lives in the Atlanta suburbs with her husband and two teenage sons, who have turned her into the shortest member of their family. She is the author of seven novels including 7 Days and 7 Nights, Leave It to Cleavage, Hostile Makeover, Single in Suburbia and The Accidental Bestseller. Her latest book - Magnolia Wednesdays - is a wonderfully entertaining book about what to do when life comes at you full swing.

Synopsis : At forty-one, Vivian Armstrong Gray's life as an investigative journalist is crumbling. Humiliated after taking a bullet in her backside during an exposé, Vivi learns that she's pregnant, jobless, and very hormonal. This explains why she says 'yes' to a dreadful job covering suburban living back home in Georgia, a column she must write incognito.

Down South, it's her sister's ballroom dance studio that becomes her undercover spot where she learns about the local life-and where unexpected friendships develop. As she digs up her long buried roots, she starts to wonder if life inside the picket fence is really so bad after all....

For more information, visit Wendy's website at www.authorwendywax.com .

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A Dangerous Reading Habit

Reading is my favorite pastime and greatest escape. I’ve joked that if my family would just leave me alone long enough, I could read a book a day, no problem. Once in my early twenties after an especially bad break up, I did just that—one a day until I started to fee better. The nice thing about disappearing into a book is that there’s no hangover, no unwanted extra pounds, and no guilt. Unless, of course, your little reading habit keeps you from getting your work done or leaves your responsibilities unmet.

As a writer I’ve had a hard time controlling my reading habit. The truth is that as rewarding as writing can be, and as wonderful as it is to see the fruit of your labor on a bookstore shelf, writing a novel is hard work. Reading is not. In fact, on any given day no matter how in love I am with the book I’m writing, if I were given a choice, I’d be tempted to read someone else’s work rather than write my own. The problem is, once I start reading it’s way too hard to stop.

Since I have such a hard time controlling this on my end, I’ve composed a little letter that I’m thinking about sending to some of my favorite authors asking for a reprieve. Because if they were a little less prolific, I might be more so.

If you think you can use it, just fill in the blanks and send it to your own favorite authors!

Maybe they’ll write a little slower so that we can take care of our lives.

OK, here goes:


Dear _____________, (Fill in favorite author or authors here. I’m not naming names because there are far too many of them.)


Don’t take this the wrong way, but could you please stop writing for a while? Would a brief hiatus really hurt you?


Because the thing is, I have a ___________ due sooner than I like to admit. And every time I sit down to _______________my mind begins to wander to that book of yours I’m currently reading.


I really love your work. Unfortunately, reading pretty much anything you write is a lot easier and far more fun than _______________. (fill in your occupation here). But I’m tired because I sat up most of last night reading __________________ (fill in author’s latest work) and I could barely get up this morning. I snuck a chapter in at breakfast when I should have been _______________________ (name activity) and another at ____________ when I should have been ______________________.


If I don’t kick this habit, I could end up (unemployed/divorced/_______________) so why don’t you give me a break and go on vacation or something?


Or start writing in a genre like _______________that I don’t often read.


After all the money I’ve spent on your books, it’s the least you could do.


Sincerely,

___________________________________


(Your signature here!)

Note: Wendy Wax is the author of eight novels including The Accidental Bestseller and the just released, Magnolia Wednesdays. She thinks she might have written them more quickly if the above letter had already existed.
I've been a bit distracted myself these days with the flood of new Spring releases. They've held me captive and I have the dirty dishes to prove it! The result of a whole weekend's worth of washing sits waiting to be folded as I lose myself in the pages of one spectacular book after another (reviews forthcoming...). Sometimes I do feel like Wendy describes, just write a letter and say - hey, cut it out! I don't find a lot of time to re-read old and new favorites and that's a bit disappointing. Hurry, hurry, all the time.

What about you? Want to try sending Wendy's letter to your favorite author or publisher? Let me know and I may just join you :) Till then, happy reading....

Note - This book was received for review/feature consideration.
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