Category Archives: General Posts

Knock on the Door

Knock on the DoorRoberta K. Fernandez’s A Knock on the Door ramps up the mystery and the suspense. Three murders in three months. All employees of SpringWare, a software and gaming development company. What was it about the National Security Agency’s (NSA) software project that was getting so many of SpringWare’s employees killed? Who would be next?

Rita Johnson, personal assistant to SpringWare VP Mark Mason, and previously to Jack Crawford, was one of the first to smell a rat. Especially when she went to download files for a certain project from Crawford’s computer after his death. Jack’s death was labeled an accident, but was it really? Why were some encrypted? Why was Mason being so secretive about this project?

Needless to say, Rita’s curiosity got the best of her, and she made a copy of the files for herself. She uncovered a connected, unrelenting, deadly series of events. Whom could she trust?

Tension and suspense mount slowly and steadily as Rita uncovers what’s happening with help from Lori, widow of Jack, Jacob Browning, another SpringWare employee, Nathan Schilling, a reporter for a local paper, and eventually Matthew Abernathy, a local police officer. These amateur sleuths begin getting closer to the truth about SpringWare’s project for NSA and Mason’s relationship with Carl Baxter, the NSA director. Then even Rita is murdered in what was meant to look like a hit-and-run accident. Who would be next among the seekers-of-truth group?

Fernandez starts the suspense early and continues to ramp it up with this apparent first novel in a series. Her characters are well drawn, and the amateur sleuths become a tight-knit group as the action advances.

I received a free copy of A Knock on the Door via www.ireadbooktours.com in exchange for an honest review.

Recent Silence

Hey everyone,

Sorry about my recent silence over the past several weeks.

I had bilateral knee replacement surgery on August 9th from which I’m still recovering.

I hope to begin posting reviews again with the next few weeks.

Stay tuned!

Guest Post – Donna Roe Daniell

Guest Post – Donna Roe Daniell

Although I will not be reviewing Ms. Daniell’s new book, I still wanted to pass on the following information.

Midlife Voyage to Transformation by Donna Roe DaniellThree Pillars of Personal Transformation Await You: Are you Ready?
by Donna Roe Daniell

How do you know when it is time to make a change in your life, to change a behavior, to switch gears and move in a healthier direction, to let go of a relationship, to notice your pain? The first pillar of finding this discomfort in your being, in your behaviors is to slow down, to do less and actually take time to notice what is happening. This step of noticing is mindfulness —paying attention to what is going on in this present moment and examining it closely. Can you stop and pay attention and allow yourself to be curious instead of judgmental, critical or self-blaming?

This brings us to the second pillar of personal transformation: Self-Compassion. Finding a way to be kind to yourself and patient and loving when you are struggling with a difficult situation, feeling a lot of pain, moving really fast to get through something, facing a shadow part of yourself rearing its ugly head is self-compassion: bringing in care to yourself when you are struggling. This also takes being willing to stop and notice what is happening, taking that first pillar of mindfulness to the next step of being kind and caring to yourself when you totally need it — instead of hoping you’ll get kindness from someone else soon. You can give it to yourself and hold yourself gently as you let your feelings arise and fall.

When you create this kind of healing container for yourself with these first two pillars: Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, you are ready to utilize the third Pillar of Personal Transformation: IFS. Internal Family Systems Therapy is a healing roadmap and deep dive into yourself and all the parts of you that keep you moving through each and every day. It’s a total path to self-awareness and self-love and along the way you get to heal yourself too. It is a safe way to get an intimate connection with your feelings and your behaviors and to love yourself into a healthier place! You can learn about IFS from books and many resources, but the best way is to engage in working with an IFS Therapist or Coach who can empower you and hold you in Self-Energy and Self-Love until you can do it for yourself. You can also explore it in a safe container like my retreat.

And you can explore and develop all three of these three Pillars of Personal Transformation at my FALL RETREAT this October 28-31 and again October 26-30, 2022. Can you give yourself four days and three nights to just listen and allow these tools to manifest? Imagine what kind of shifts might bubble up and what layers might be lifted?

In addition, all three of these Pillars are also explained through the stories in my memoir: A Midlife Voyage to Transformation. When you read this book you will be able to understand more how to feel your feelings and experience them in your body. You will also be able to learn about the 5 Stages of the Midlife Voyage to Transformation. See what stage you are on in your midlife voyage right now—It will help you get so much more out of the retreat.
Are you ready? This is the moment to take action for yourself and start with purchasing my book on Amazon. Watch for my WORKBOOK/ BOOK GROUP GUIDE to A Midlife Voyage to Transformation coming out in 2022.

A Midlife Voyage to Transformation

 

 

Join us for this tour from July 25 to August 5, 2022!Book Details:

Book Title:  A Midlife Voyage to Transformation by Donna Roe Daniell
Category:  Adult Non-Fiction (18+),  233 pages
Genre: Memoir / Women’s / Personal Transformation Self-Help
Publisher:  Mindful Books
Release date:  June 2021
Content Rating:  G

Book Description:

Can You Step into Your Power and Birth a New You at Midlife?

YES! Midlife, and the major events that encompass the ages of 35-65, can be devastating or powerful for women. But we can choose to be awakened at this powerful time of life. This memoir is the story of Donna Daniell’s healing journey through the five stages of the midlife voyage-Lost at Sea; Finding a Mooring; Deep Diving; Rebirthing; and the New You-to find self-love, resilience, and feminine wisdom. It is also a roadmap for other women on the midlife journey, charting a course that transmutes challenges into inner rebirth and stepping into the power of the Wisewoman.

FIND YOUR OWN INNER STRENGTH – TAKE THE VOYAGE TO TRANSFORMATION!

BUY THE BOOK:
Amazon
add to goodreads

 

Meet the Author:Donna Roe Daniell is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of Colorado and has had a private
practice in the Boulder/Longmont area since 2005 called Balance Your Life Coaching & Psychotherapy. She has offered family therapy and individual trauma treatment using mind/body trauma tools such as mindfulness, yoga and IFS through her psychotherapy practice. Since 2015, she has focused her coaching practice for women in midlife on unique programs to specifically empower women going through major midlife challenges to grieve and rebirth themselves through the 5 stages of her Midlife Voyage to Transformation. Today, through her website, Donna offers on-line courses, Talks and live workshops, mp3 guided practices to support this book, and adventure and mindfulness retreats in nature for women wanting support to wake up, become unstuck, and find a transformative healing path through life’s challenges.

connect with the author: website ~ facebook ~ bookbub ~ goodreads


Tour Schedule:
July 25 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – book review / guest post / giveaway
July 26 – Locks Hooks and Books – book review / guest post / giveaway
July 27 – Splashes of Joy – book review / giveaway
July 28 – A Mama’s Corner of the World – book review / giveaway
July 29 – Olio by Marilyn – book spotlight / author interview
July 29 – Olio by Marilyn – book review / giveaway
Aug 1 –
Mostly Mystery Reviews – book review / guest post
Aug 3 – Books for Books – book review
Aug 4 – Paws.Read.Repeat – book review / author interview / giveaway
Aug 4 –
 Literary Flits – book review / giveaway
Aug 5 – Novels Alive – book review / giveaway
Aug 5 – Kam’s Place – book review / author interview
Aug 5 – Mel_literate – book review / guest post

Enter the Giveaway:

Midlife Voyage to Transformation Book Tour Giveaway

Gordon Jensen – Guest Post

The Way OutBeing a writer—as in a professional writer who has published some work—seems like a glamorous, elusive way of life to anyone who doesn’t understand that if you find that you express yourself best in written form, you are a writer. And you don’t have to be published, by a big publisher or on your own, to be able to call yourself that. I wrote for decades, even published other people’s books that had a lot of my writing in them, before I let myself say, “I am a writer.” It always felt audacious and risky to claim that. I guess maybe it was a bit of imposter syndrome. But the moment I allowed that, the moment I became brave enough to really see myself that way, was the moment my writing went to an entirely different level and my career began to flourish.

I believe being a writer means you think in words more than images. That’s not to say you don’t see images in your mind, but that you are more focused on what words can best describe what you see. How can you conjure that same image for another person by describing it when they can’t actually see it? The same is true with feelings, emotions, and sensations. What combination of words can accurately and most effectively convey what is intangible and inside of you? The beauty of language is that it has that power. A Polish independent bookstore created an ad campaign a number of years ago with the slogan, “Words Create Worlds.” No truer words have ever been strung together, in my opinion.

The Way Out – Interview

The Way OutEarlier this evening I posted a review about The Way Out by Gordon Jensen with Cara Highsmith and Gordon Thomas.

Following is an interview with the authors conducted by Lauren Carr, Senior Virtual Book Tour Coordinator and owner of iRead Book Tours.

How did you do research for your book?

Cara: With each book I began with an outline of the chapters so I had a sense of what I wanted to cover, and then I made a list of the possible subjects that would require research and worked my way through them using the internet to access websites created by scientific organizations, military, government, history, etc. On some topics, I consulted individuals I knew or had access to and asked them questions or gave them segments to review to offer critiques of how information was incorporated. For the pieces that were entirely speculative—where something doesn’t exist yet—I gathered as much existing information as possible and projected where it could lead, and then looked for research that suggests the projections are plausible.

Which was the hardest character to write?

Cara: In the case of The Way Out, the narrative voice was the hardest to decide. At the time of writing, we didn’t know whether Hunter would emerge as the hero of the series because there was such a full cast, so I didn’t want to use his voice for the narration. However, I also didn’t want to use an omniscient observer narrative approach because there were so many surprises and plot twists that I didn’t want a narrator who knew what was coming. It was important for the narrator to be learning about all of this right along with the reader as it unfolded. That is how we ended up with the interview style for that book.

What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?

Pursue a life in creative arts. There are no guarantees, except that you will be criticized. But, if you are willing to lean into it and take the risk anyway, the reward is an incredible feeling of fulfillment.

Do you have another profession besides writing?

Gordy: I’m retired, so now I have the time to write.

How long have you been writing?

Gordy: Only a few years. The Way Out was my first book, but I have thought about the story for years.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

Gordy: This is a fun question for me to answer as I am a history buff. I rarely read novels. I mostly read history books. My top 12 events in world history that I would like to experience/participate in and/or live through are (not in any particular order): events leading up to and after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ; Lewis, Clark, and Sacagawea’s journey across the US and back; the Titanic voyage; Alexander the Great’s campaign; Columbus’s trip to the New World; Genghis Kahn Conquests; Marco Polo’s trip; Ibn Battatah’s trip; Magellan’s trip around the world; Moses’ leading the Jews out of slavery in Egypt and into the Promised Land; Napoleon’s expedition from France to Moscow and back; To be in the thick of the group of the Founding Fathers of the US during the writing of America’s Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Bill of Rights.

The Beached Ones

The Beached OnesWhat would it be like if everyone thought you were dead? What if people walked by you and didn’t seem to notice you? A few people, like your ex-girlfriend, Jolene, and her new boyfriend, Brent, can see you. But Isabella, the medium, can’t. You seem solid enough to yourself. Normal functions work—you can eat, drink and wear clothes. You swear you are alive and well. But one moment you’re at the ocean helping beached whales and the next you’re lying by railroad tracks; then you’re in the Midwest. With no idea how you moved from place to place. Welcome to the dystopian world of Daniel Shepard in The Beached Ones by Colleen M. Story.

Story keeps the reader off balance by inserting flashbacks of Daniel’s earlier life in a single-parent, dysfunctional household. Daniel escapes that environment by becoming a motocross stunt rider. One of his current desires is to get to San Francisco to meet his younger brother, Tony. The other is to reclaim Jolene.

I never really became involved with the characters in this novel. They all seemed like chimeras. Daniel seemed the most solid, alive character even though he apparently died from an accident at a motocross show prior to the beginning of the novel. Ghostly as he is, Daniel is the anchor holding the lives of those within his sphere together. Daniel feels responsible for everyone who touches his world, no matter how tangentially. That includes Trisha, a teenager who he doesn’t know, who commits suicide in a parking lot while Daniel stands helplessly nearby.

Straightforward or Beached?

Are our lives as straightforward as we would like to believe? Do we absolutely know where we’re headed at any given point? Or are we pulled this way and that? Do we live a vertiginous life as Daniel does in both human and spirit form?

Are the beached whales that Daniel attempts to save at the beginning of the novel synonymous with, and representative of, those humans in his life whom he also tries to save? Hmm, read The Beached Ones and draw your own conclusions.

Colleen Story Interview

Colleen M. StoryEarlier this morning I posted a review of The Beached Ones by Colleen Story. I hope you enjoy this interview that takes us behind the scenes to look at a writer’s process and inspiration.

Colleen M. Story: The Beached Ones
Interviewed by Lauren Carr

What made you write a book about the bond between two brothers?
I grew up with three brothers—one older and two younger. I felt responsible for my younger brothers much of the time. I took care of them as we were growing up, which informed my portrayal of Daniel, who is the older brother in the story.

The bonds between siblings are unique and challenged by many factors including upbringing, parents, age, and personalities. Yet these are the longest-lasting relationships most of us will have in our lifetimes. When the character of Daniel came to me, it was always with his younger brother Tony. That relationship was there from the beginning and provided a great grounding point for the rest of the story.

Where do you get inspiration for your stories?
Inspiration comes to me from a variety of places, but often I can’t identify where when talking about a particular story. The main character will just show up in my mind first, and then over time, his or her story will start to develop in my mind.
In the case of The Beached Ones, though, I could go back and identify a couple of sources of inspiration. The first was the movie Sarah’s Key, which was based on the book of the same title by Tatiana de Rosnay. The second was an experience I had myself as a child. My adoptive father committed suicide. The experience was traumatic, but when you’re young, you don’t have the maturity to understand or deal with it.

Later in life, that event came up again. I started thinking about it more, and I had a few dreams about it. I didn’t purposely write about it, but I can see echoes of that experience showing up in some facets of The Beached Ones.

What advice would you give budding writers?
One of the most common pieces of advice I share with writers is to focus on the work. It’s very easy to get caught up in the trappings of the writing life—getting published, having readers/fans, and chasing that golden ticket to writing fame. We all have those dreams, but if you’re called to write, it’s likely for another reason. (Your soul doesn’t care if you become famous, in other words.)

No matter if you become the next bestseller or never publish a single story, if you focus on writing as a daily (or almost daily) practice, you will notice positive changes in your life. I guarantee it. Writing is magical that way.

If you could put yourself as a character in your book, who would you be?
If I could put myself as a character in the book, it would probably be Gus. He is a preacher at a cowboy church, and he just lives his life as he sees fit. He doesn’t worry about what anyone else thinks. He spends time in the beautiful mountains of Montana, and he likes to ride his four-wheeler around. Yet he’s kind and caring and offers a lot of support to Daniel (my main character) and his little brother Tony.

How long have you been writing?
I started writing seriously in the mid-1990s. I got my first official writing job in 1997. I went freelance in 2003, and have been a professional freelance writer ever since. Meanwhile, I continued to write fiction and penned several novels, many of which never saw the light of day. I received my first traditional novel publishing contract in 2013, I think! Since then I’ve published five more books and plan to keep going.

Anne Beall Interview

Cinderella Didn't Live Happily Ever AfterGuest Interview: Anne Beall, author of Cinderella Didn’t Live Happily Ever After

Why did you write a book about fairy tales?
I’ve always loved fairy tales and after a particularly bad day, I turned to them for comfort. As I read, I noticed some patterns, so I decided to analyze them systematically. I conducted statistical analyses and found that female characters were often weak, passive and terribly victimized, whereas males were brave, intelligent, and powerful. And powerful men were mostly good, whereas powerful women were often evil. Females married royalty largely because of their appearance whereas males married royalty when they showed tremendous feats of bravery or intelligence. I was surprised how many hidden messages about gender, power, agency and good versus evil.

Are you suggesting that children shouldn’t like Cinderella or other popular fairy tales?
No, not at all. These are good stories. I just caution people to think about what else they may communicate besides the basic plot. I don’t think we want to suggest to little girls that they should just wait for Prince Charming to save them from a difficult situation. That seems like a big message to give that could lead to a lot of disappointment.
I am definitely not against children reading fairy tales. In fact, I encourage people of all ages to read fairy tales because there are so many great ones. In some of them, the female character goes to battle, saves her handsome prince, and rescues family members. There are quite a few fabulous female heroines who are strong and inspirational.

Do you have another profession besides writing?
Yes! I’m a researcher and I own a research company that does market research for Fortune 500 companies. We do everything from surveys and focus-groups to complex statistical modeling. We do studies to help companies understand their customers better and to provide better products and services to them. It’s a wonderful profession and I work with very smart people.

Do you write anything other than non-fiction?
I’m writing a middle-grade fairy tale about a heroine who ends up battling an evil wizard. She is a lowly servant in a castle and believes she’s an orphan. A fairy comes to her and tells her she has a family, but they’ve been cursed. She must solve riddles and find enchanted items to lift this curse and be reunited with her family. Although she has some special gifts, she lacks confidence in her abilities and doesn’t think she can do it. And she only has 15 days, or the curse will be permanent!

What is your advice to anyone who thinks they have a book within them?

I believe everyone has an important story to tell. My best advice is to sit down and write it. You can get help in editing and crafting your story once you’ve written it. But for now, just sit down and get it out. I believe that there is a reason you want to write it and the world needs to read it. Don’t let a lack of confidence get in your way. Just write! That’s the best advice I have. If there is something that’s nagging at you, there is probably a reason.

Thank you so much.
-Anne Beall

Guest Post: Lauren Carr

Shadow of Murder by Lauren CarrEarlier today, I posted a review of Shadow of Murder. Now I’d like to present the author in her own words, outside of her novels. Presenting, Guest Post: Lauren Carr.

The Lasagna That Turned into a 900-lb Gorilla

by Lauren Carr, author of Shadow of Murder

I have learned that every author puts a little bit of themselves into their characters. No, I am not a murderer. Yes there is a killer in every one of my murder mysteries. After all, you can’t have a murder mystery without a killer in the cast of characters somewhere.

We’ll dive into that another time.

Today, I wanted to talk about Erica Hart, who I introduced in Shadow of Murder. Erica Hart is the Cold Case Diva, who works with Mac Faraday to solve a couple of murders in Deep Creek Lake.

One aspect of Erica Hart’s character is that she is a gourmet cook (like me!) and has a collection of family recipes going back multiple generations in a special cookbook that has been passed down throughout her family (also like me!).

Some of you may recall the famous saying, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” This is one of the many things that bring Erica and Dusty together as she charms him with her cooking talent. I confess, my husband swears it is my cooking that made him fall in love with me.

In one scene in Shadow of Murder, Erica passes on her secrets to a great lasagna to Dusty’s thirteen-year-old daughter. While writing that scene, I found myself recalling one of the multiple times that I wondered if being a great cook was blessing or a curse.

I think most of you are quite familiar with the tendency of adding just one more thing to your to-do-list —usually because you are a nice person. (You have my permission to reach around and pat yourself on the back for being a good person.) Or maybe because that little thing is something that you rather enjoy doing—like whipping up a delicious lasagna made from your own secret recipe.

The very thought of making a single lasagna seems quite minuscule while it is a thought inside your head. Then, it ceases being a thought and turns into a reality. Before you know it, that single lasagna grows until it is transformed into a 900-pound gorilla that has decided to sit down right smack in the middle of your kitchen.

One Sunday, my friend Gail requested food for a reception following a funeral. Instantly, my husband’s eyes lit up and he turned to me. “Lasagna,” he mouthed.

I thought, “Gee, I haven’t made a lasagna in quite a while. It only takes a couple of hours to prepare and assemble a lasagna.” So, I volunteered to make a lasagna for the funeral reception. At which point, Gail handed a huge pan—big enough for three lasagnas—to me.

Okay, my one lasagna is now three, plus one for my family.

Except, when I make a lasagna, I don’t just make a single lasagna. I make several lasagnas, cook one for dinner, and then pack up and freeze the rest. Then during the upcoming months, when I get busy and don’t feel like cooking, I’ll take one out of the freezer and pop it into the oven.

The day after I had volunteered to make the giant lasagna, my husband came home with six foil pans in anticipation of my culinary delight. In one day, my couple of lasagnas had multiplied up to ten. One enormous pasta dish for the church, six to be frozen, and one for dinner.

Just smile. It will only take a few hours, and everyone will be happy afterwards, I kept telling myself while trying to figure out where I was going to put all of these lasagna pans and hoping I had enough pots and pans to cook the noodles and sauces. I was seriously wondering if my kitchen was big enough to contain this giant gorilla (aka lasagnas).

As L-Day (Lasagna Day) approached, my husband kept requesting a grocery list of what he would need to purchase. Finally, on Saturday, I sat down to count up the lasagna pans and add up the amount of the ingredients. I came up with five boxes of noodles, five huge jars of sauce, a half a ton of Italian sausage, and a ton of various cheeses.

He came back from the store with five boxes of noodles, half a ton of Italian sausage, ground beef, and pork, a ton of various cheeses and one regular size jar of sauce.

“What happened to the sauce?” I asked.

“That’s plenty of sauce,” replied the man who has yet to figure out how to turn on the toaster. “Let’s not go crazy.”

“Dear, the time to suggest that we not go crazy has passed,” I said. “I’ve volunteered to make enough lasagna to feed an army, plus enough lasagna to feed us until the end of the next Ice Age, and you bring me one jar of sauce!”

He handed me the car keys and said that if I needed more sauce, I could go back to the store to get it.

So, I did exactly that. Grumbling the whole way, I drove to the store and bought four huge jars of sauce and a giant cheesecake.

You see, over the years, I’ve learned something about 900-pound gorillas. Best not to fight it. Embrace it, feed it plenty of cheesecake, and the two of you will get along just fine.