Tuesday, December 30, 2014

15 Important Things I Have Learned by Age 50




On January 1st, I will be fifty years old.

Yes, the "Big 5 - 0".

Life sure does fly by when you are having fun (or working too much or caring for farm animals or fill in the blank). But if life flies by and you have not learned much, then that is a travesty.

So, I could not think of a better time than now to note a few of the important things I have learned in these past fifty years. 



In no certain order or level of importance, here they are:


1.  For every mistake made in life, there is a lesson to be learned. Do not dwell on the mistake, focus on the lesson.

2.  Self esteem is not something you are born with, it takes years to develop. So parents, the best thing you can teach your kids is the importance of self worth and confidence at an early age.

3.  Do not be in a hurry to grow up.  Childhood only lasts a fraction of your lifetime, enjoy it and keep playing as a child would - well into your adult and senior years.

4.  Use your finest set of china (nice outfit, new shoes, fill in the blank) that your were saving for that special occasion. Today is that special occasion.

5.  Let go of anger, hatred, greed, jealousy, etc. Keeping any of it inside only hurts one person - yourself.

6.  Have a pet.  Does not matter what kind of pet, just have a pet.

7.  Do not try to control others, it never leads to anything good. You are only in control of yourself and your own emotions.

8.  Do not allow friends, family or anyone else to treat you badly. The first offense may be free, after that a huge penalty should be given - including removing yourself from the situation.

9.  There will be many love partners in your life. The trick is picking the right one that you want to spend the rest of your life with.

10. Always save room for dessert, especially if it has chocolate in it. In fact, sometimes having dessert before a meal is great. Even better, dessert as the meal many times is the perfect thing to have.

11. If you have not been able to fit into those "skinny jeans" for over a year, then toss them out or give them to charity. (Maybe because you saved room for dessert?)

12. Laugh more at yourself and do not take life so seriously.

13. Tell your loved ones that you love them - every day.  No one is guaranteed tomorrow.

14. Do not let fear or anxiety talk you out of the things that you really want to do in life.  Carpe Diem!

15. Lastly, just be real.  Be yourself, warts and all.  Because that is what you have to offer the world and no one else can be YOU!


Happy New Year - 2015 !


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Best Christmas Eve Ever 



As I wandered through the back pasture, checking the fences to make certain the storm that had just passed through did not down a tree on the barbed wire, I happened upon a turtle. This little guy was stuck in the lower part of the fence opening.  When the heavy rains had come earlier in the day, he apparently tried to swim through the hole, but became immobilized when his shell lodged in the narrow opening.

He had been there awhile, noting from the scrapes on his leathery shell.  He was exhausted and had all but given up on trying to escape the predicament that he was in. From his point of view, there was no way out except a slow agonizing death.  Until a pair of human hands intervened and unwedged his body from the jaws of the heartless cattle fence.

He looked back as he swam away from me, acknowledging with a couple splashes in the water that surely said, "Thank you, whoever you are, for saving my life."

Read the rest in "Chickens, Hawks and Grump Goats: Five Years on a Farm"







 Merry Christmas to You and Yours!

A Newbie Needs to Know - Is Indie Publishing Reaching Critical Mass?



When indie publishing was so new many years ago and Amazon Digital Services was in its infancy with Kindle Direct Publishing, seeing the results of self-published authors like Hugh Howey was very inspirational to the new kid on the block.

New trails were being blazed back then and so many want-to-be authors were more than willing to take the plunge to put themselves out there for their prospective readers.

Now, years later, the self-publishing market seems to be a bit top-heavy.

Many indie books out there boast that they are a "best seller" or a "#1 blockbuster".  The reviews for those same books are all over the charts, from "it was a horrible read" to "it was a spectacular novel".  To me, as a newly published author, it appears that there has been a turning of tides as of late.

The indie authors that started way back when are now at the top of their game.  Many of them are proud (rightfully so) to have reached such heights and to have achieved this level of success with a great book, hard work, a little luck and many hours of marketing.

Many new indie authors jump to the conclusion that self-publishing is virtually free, but that is very misleading. It’s still hard to get anything for nothing, although many of us will keep trying. No matter how good the book is, it still needs to be distributed and marketed to the correct demographic - usually through a combination of social and paid channels.

The main problem and the "elephant in the room" is that we’re not all suited to become successful indie authors. Very few of us can produce a book that many people want to read. While some may have the talent and resources to produce and distribute really great books, many of the indie books never see the light of day. 

As with any trend, people jump on the bandwagon with high expectations based on the hype and the past performance of the latest successful indie author. Thank you, Hugh Howey!

For the newbie indie author, there’s a period of initial excitement and euphoria. Then, six months or a year later, when the indie author does not see the great results that they had hoped for they get frustrated and quit.  There has been more than one instance where yours truly was about to give up on being a writer.

This is not to say that indie authors should give up if they are not successful in the short term. But, it does point out that past performance of similar books or authors does not guarantee the same results for everyone.

Like with anything else in life, self-publishing has risks and monetary implications if you choose to pursue the dream of becoming a published indie author.

As for me, I just like to write and will continue to do so ... Critical Mass or not.


Monday, December 22, 2014

Book Review Spotlight - Brooklyn and Bo Chronicles by Brenda Perlin



Shattered Reality by Brenda Perlin is a heart-felt story written as a fictional piece. However, it is based on actual events in the life of the author.

Through the eyes of Brooklyn, the story chronicles the childhood, teenage and adult years of her life. It continues through to the start and end of her marriage. Ultimately the story brings Brooklyn to the love of her life and soul mate, Bo. Together, the two battle many odds to be together.

Told with honesty and sincerity, the author pulls the reader through the good times and the bad times of Brooklyn's life - openly discussing adultery and being a home-wrecker. But, through it all, I genuinely liked Brooklyn and cheered for her when she became ill and cheered even more for her when her ex-husband and Bo's ex-wife gave her so much grief during the latter part of the book.

I do not want to give away too much of the story. So, you will just have to read it to see where Brooklyn and Bo end up.

Ms. Perlin is a very talented author and Shattered Reality is a wonderfully written novel that I would highly recommend to anyone who loves a good love story.


Burnt Promises by Brenda Perlin is the second book in the Brooklyn and Bo Chronicles and one that fills in the rest of Brooklyn's story after the ending of the first book, Shattered Reality.

The story of Brooklyn and Bo is complicated to say the least. They are finally together, but cannot seem to get away from the hatefulness of Bo's soon to be ex-wife, Ruth. Maneuvering through the legal system, Bo is faced with many obstacles in his pursuit of freedom from his crazy, over the top wife. How long will it take before the divorce is final? It could be years - from Brooklyn's perspective.

Brooklyn gets assaulted by Ruth at the gym where Bo and Brooklyn first meet. Ruth gets away before the police come. Brooklyn gets a restraining order on Ruth. Brooklyn must also endure Ruth's anti-semitic verbal attacks through out the course of the divorce proceedings.

In Burnt Promises, the reader is taken on a roller-coaster ride of emotion and I found myself wanting to scream at Ruth for her stubbornness, craziness and all out hatefulness. The woman was scorned, I get that, but sometimes you just need to cut your losses and move on.

I felt empathy and compassion for Bo and Brooklyn, they found their soul mate in each other and just want to live happily ever after. Hopefully they can do that when Ruth finally lets go of the marriage that has been broken for years and she allows Bo to move on.

Brenda Perlin has a wonderful way of weaving an emotional, thought-provoking tale. I thoroughly enjoyed this second installment of the Brooklyn and Bo Chronicles and have already read the next book, Fractured Vows, which gives a great perspective of the story from Bo's point of view.



Fractured Vows by Brenda Perlin is the third book in the Brooklyn and Bo Chronicles. It is written from Bo's point of view and fills in the blanks of the second book, Burnt Promises.

Bo's perspective of the aftermath of his decision to be with Brooklyn is one of heart-felt emotion and monumental frustration. He is consumed with the antics of his soon to be ex-wife, Ruth. She has been wronged and she will not let Bo off easy for his infidelity.

Bo is plagued by emails, texts and phone messages from Ruth during the course of the two-year battle with her to end their marriage. The communications start off reasonable enough, but quickly escalate into a crescendo of bitterness, spitefulness and all out nastiness. Bo's attorney cannot get Ruth to agree on a divorce settlement. And when she does agree, victory is snatched in an instant when Ruth changes her mind for the umpteenth time.

Ms. Perlin again strikes a home run in weaving another emotional, thought-provoking tale. Looking forward to the next book and eager to know what happens for the couple after this.

 
Brenda Perlin is an independent adult contemporary fiction author. Brenda evokes emotional responses in her readers by using a provocatively unique writing style. Her most recent work, the Brooklyn and Bo Chronicles is hitting the reading community full force with its third and final installment, Brooklyn and Bo Chronicles: Fractured Vows. Critics and readers alike are praising the story as an exciting and engaging read.

Earlier in 2014, Brenda expanded her writing ventures into a whole new writing world. Co-authoring Ty The Bull, Brenda supports one little boy in voicing his heartwarming story of overcoming his childhood bully.

In September of 2014, Brenda expanded her writing world once more with the illustrated book, Alex the Mutt. Published by Blossoming Press, Alex the Mutt explores the journey of love and loss of a beloved friend and family member, Alex, the family dog.

Brenda continues to write and has new literary works on the go that her fans eagerly await to get their hands on.

All of Brenda's works are accessible through Amazon and their subsidiaries.
"From life's tragedies came stories that I hope will inspire others," - Brenda Perlin



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

So tsū Me! - Updated 1/3/2015



There is a new kid on the social media block and her name is "tsū" (pronounced Sue).  But don't let the name fool you, she is anything but your run of the mill social media patform.  She is different. 

I know, I can hear the groans already, "another Facebook and Google+ wannabe".

Although tsū is very similar to Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, the big difference with tsū is that the content provider (you) is paid for the content that you post!


Now that I have your attention, let's look at the first few steps of using tsū:

  • You have to be invited by someone.  This may change in the future, but at launch time only invitees are allowed to sign up.  If you want to use my invite code, it is HERE.
  • You do not automatically get income when you sign up.  You need to use the platform just as you would use Facebook or any other social media.
  • When you post to tsū, you can link that post to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram where it will appear to your network on those platforms.  There is no Google+ link at the moment, but there is discussion of that coming at a later time.  

I am still working through the initial steps myself, but so far I like what I see.  Below is a little more information from the tsu website:


How is tsū different?

1. Ownership - We believe in real ownership, which only exists when users own the rights to their content and the economics that come with it. Users should be compensated for their likeness, image and content. It’s simple and it’s the right thing to do.

2. Access - We share social revenues with everyone, for any type of content, size of network or level of influence. Using tsū requires nothing more than what you already do on other social media platforms today.

3. Empowerment - Our model is global, scalable, and designed to empower the user. For the first time every user can be a content creator earning royalties in perpetuity.


How does tsū  work?

tsū shares social revenues that come from third party ads, sponsorships and partnerships. Once economics are created, tsū receives 10% to maintain the platform. Half of the remaining earned revenue is paid to the user who created the content. The other half of the remaining earned revenue is distributed to the user’s network Family Tree. Users on tsū monetize their content and network in perpetuity, which continues to grow alongside the community.

If you want to check out tsū, look me up at https://www.tsu.co/samolteni and follow or friend me.

** Updated 1/3/2015 **

I really did want to like tsū, but alas, I could not.  I deleted my account for the following reasons:

  • There were just too many "seedy" characters with names I could not pronounce that were "following" me. The more "friends" I received, the creepier it became. 
  • But aside from that, the functionality is not up to par with FB. There are no pages or groups over there, so all of your stuff is lumped together under one news-feed. 
  • There is no real security or privacy on the site from what I could see. 
  • There is no way to edit a post after it is posted, you must delete it and re-create it. 
  • As for the so-called revenue, (which was not my driving factor for trying it out) it totalled 6 cents for the two weeks I was on tsū.  So annualized, that would be whopping $1.56! Bear in mind, I just posted as I would on Facebook and Twitter and did not "work" the system like many people are doing.
  • Which leads me to the final reason for deleting my tsū account ...  It seemed to me that it was filled with spam and much mindless drivel along with very little original content.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Book Review Spotlight - The Nativity Set by DeEtte Beckstead

 


The Nativity Set by DeEtte Beckstead is a heart-warming, touching story that reminds us to slow down and live in the present, as you never know what tomorrow holds.

The story centers around Hannah, a young college girl whose parents have asked to visit with her grandfather while she is home for the holidays. Hannah wants to visit with her friends, but out of a sense of obligation goes to visit her grandfather. When she gets there, she realizes that he does not look as well as he had months ago when she saw him last. The stress of his wife's death and his current loneliness have taken its toll on the elderly man.

Hannah decides to stay for a few hours and her grandfather proceeds to tell her the story of the nativity set that has been in the family for decades. Although Hannah has heard most of the story before, she sits patiently and lets he grandfather detail the story behind each hand-carved wooden item in the set. By the end of the story, I was choking back tears.

The author's writing style is descriptive, clear and concise with a powerful message to the reader to slow down, live in the present and appreciate family. This is a perfect short story for the Christmas season and one I highly recommend to those who love short stories, especially holiday themed ones
.


Friday, December 5, 2014

Book Review Spotlight - Ben Brown's Flying Machine by Michael Thorp 

 

 

Ben Brown's Flying Machine by Michael Thorp is an exciting, well-detailed novella about space exploration for children of ages and adults as well.

The story begins right in the middle of the action.  The crew of the first manned spaceship to Mars has vanished, but the CEV module that they were in crashes into a pasture on Ben Brown's farm. The CEV is not without a passenger, however, it contains an old man who is dying.  Upon the old man's last breath, ancient words are spoken to Ben Brown that change his life forever.

After the crash, Ben is ridiculed by classmates after being accused of lying about the old man on the spaceship as there was no indication that a being was on the craft. Ben has to endure the backlash. But, when he takes his SAT exam shortly thereafter, he gets a perfect score on the test.  This changes the direction of his life as he is taken under the wing of Dr. Bradshaw and given a full scholarship to college.

As the story proceeds, Ben finds that he now has knowledge of things he did not know before his encounter with the spaceship and the old man.  Ben can now understand cuneiform and complex scientific theories.  With this new found knowledge, Ben is compelled to build a "flying machine" and enters the device into a science fair.  His contraption brings him fame and fortune, but Ben soon discovers that the machine is part of a bigger plan for him to fly to another planet -  the planet where the old man in the CEV came from - and to find out what really happened to the crew of the CEV.

For a short read, this was entertaining, exciting and definitely worth the price of admission.  I can ultimately see it as a movie and would love to see it on the big screen.

Well done, Mr. Thorp. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Christmas Gift from the Past - FREE for a Limited Time



Just in time for Christmas, "A Christmas Gift from the Past" is FREE Friday 12/5 - Tuesday 12/9 on Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QHARJAG

Synopsis:

When a long-time married women finds a mysterious package on her doorstep at Christmas time, her husband has a lot of explaining to do.
 
First few paragraphs:

A knock at the door beckoned me from the holiday festivities.  Over the swooning voice of Bing Crosby singing "White Christmas" and the clatter of dishes being hurriedly removed from the dinner table, I barely heard the knock at the door.

"Just a minute,"  I yelled as I made my way to the foyer through crumpled wrapping paper and boxes of newly acquired baubles to reach for the door handle.

Upon opening the door to the frigidly cold December afternoon air, the only presence on the front patio was a box wrapped in plain brown parcel paper. 

"Honey, who's at the door?"  my husband asked as I brought the package inside.

"Very strange, dear, the only thing out there was this package."

"Are you expecting anything?" he asked.








Thursday, November 27, 2014

Master Koda Select Publishing - Black Friday Event


Sometimes the holidays can be a depressing time. Kim Mutch Emerson and the gang at Master Koda Select Publishing have found a way to boost my spirits. Each year they host a big giveaway on Facebook to celebrate books and life. It starts on Friday after Thanksgiving and goes throughout the weekend. There’s plenty of chances to win all kinds of prizes (including a $100.00 gift card), but the best part is joining in the fun. Laughter lifts the heaviest heart and they excel in laughter. Meet me at the party and see what I mean.

https://www.facebook.com/events/735998423151432/




A Special Bull is FREE - 11/27 through 12/1



In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I have decided to give thanks to all of you and give away my latest e-book "A Special Bull" on Thursday 11/27 through Monday 12/1. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IK4U8SC


An excerpt from the book:

    It was hard to sleep in the quietness of the country, or rather the loudness of it.  The frogs and crickets serenaded one another during the entire night, only to quiet down when the hunting dogs started to howl near the light of dawn. Might as well get up, Alyssa thought.  No rest for the weary or the wicked.

    She made her way downstairs to the kitchen and was greeted with a hug along with a cup of her favorite Hawaiian Kona coffee.  She was impressed that Jeff remembered as it was such a small detail. The little things are what endeared her to him in the very beginning and she was thankful that he was still so conscientious.  


    Ever the perfect host, Jeff whipped up some organic, egg salad sandwiches for both of them.  Alyssa loved the care and thought that he seemed to put into everything – from raising the chickens, cows and pigs on what he viewed as his little piece of heaven to making everything he could possibly make from scratch, right down to the bread and mayonnaise.  


    “So how did you sleep?” Jeff asked.


    “The frogs were a bit loud, but I slept a little,” she replied.  


    “Ready to start the day?”  he asked.


    “Sure. Off to the feed the critters, right?” she responded.



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

So Much to be Grateful For - Happy Thanksgiving



Thanksgiving just brings out the sentimental fool in me.  I can't help it, I get this way every year around this same time. It is a time for reflection for me and a time for me to list everything I am grateful for over the past year. 

Here goes:

I am grateful that I was able to "retire" this year and follow my dreams. These dreams included writing, hobby farming and traveling across this wonderful country of ours.  

  • On the road this past summer, I saw a lot of very  cool things, did a lot of cool things in some very cool places and learned so much about the National Parks and National Monuments that we as a nation should be proud to call them our own. Some highlights can be seen HERE.
  • In writing, I published three e-books and garnered some new readership.  I have met a ton of fellow indie authors and have enjoyed the camaraderie that we have shared this year.
  • And on my hobby farm, I welcomed some new faces to our humble homestead and also said goodbye to a few.  You can see them HERE.

I am grateful for my family.  When I need a shoulder to cry on or words of encouragement or help to "pull myself up by my bootstraps", I know that I can always depend on my family to be there for me.  I love you all!

I am grateful for the disappointments that have come my way.  For without them, I would have "coasted" on some things that I really needed to work on.  It was the disappointments and things that did not go my way that gave me the energy and confidence to persevere through a few very personal issues.  I still have work to do, but I have seen progress.

I am grateful for social media.  I have met and become "virtual" friends with many people this past year.  Social media has helped me to be less reclusive and has allowed me to "put myself out there" a little more.

I am grateful for good health.  As I get older, aches and pains are more frequent visitors, but I know that many people my age have it far worse.  I can get up every morning and take care of my farm animals.  I can walk miles a day around the farm and not get (too) winded. My motto this year has definitely been "use it or lose it".

I am grateful for all of the readers of my work.  Thank you all for giving me a chance as a newbie writer and for leaving such wonderful reviews on my e-books.  It warms my heart and soul to have such a generous and supportive audience.  There are no words to fully thank you for your kindness.

And lastly, I am most grateful for just being alive. There have been a few instances in my life where I could have died - from choking on a quarter when I was a child to almost getting hit head-on by a drunk driver in high school to getting food poisoning so bad that I was in the hospital on IV antibiotics for a week. Yes!  This is the thing I am most grateful for  -  to have another day to live and to enjoy the beautiful things in this life.

What things are YOU grateful for this past year?


Happy Thanksgiving to All of YOU!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Power of FREE


When I began this journey to become an author over a year ago, I just wanted to write.  I did not give much thought to who would actually read what I wrote.

I mean, let's face it, getting people to read your writing is difficult at best.  There are so many "good" authors out there that it would take thousands of years to get to all of the books that are available.  Many readers do not want to give a new author a chance and summarily dismiss them and their prose.

Which led me to this thought.  If I want to get readership, why not offer my books for free?  With this thought, over the past year, I have only focused on marketing my e-books when I have a free promotion going on through KDP Select.  KDP Select allows the author up to 5 days each 90 days for a book enrolled in the program to be listed as free, but the book must only be marketed on Amazon, not anywhere else during the 90 days.

Since my main goal when I began this venture was to write and get eyes on my writing (not to make money from it - although that would be a nice bonus), I have gone one step further.  I pulled one of my e-books from KDP Select and listed it on Smashwords.  This in turn placed it on Barnes and Noble, iTunes and several other markets.

Once it was available in these other markets, I asked Amazon to match the free price.  Initially, I received much push back from them and after several email requests, I gave up on Amazon matching the price.

Then, I got a brilliant idea.  I asked some fellow indie authors to click on the "report a lower price" icon on the Amazon page for my e-book.  Within a day, I received an email from Amazon stating that my book was now permanently free on Amazon.

You are probably wondering why I put so much effort into getting the title listed for free everywhere, right? The reason is plain and simple - readership.

After my book listed as free on Amazon, it was downloaded over 200 times in the first day!  From that, I received one new review.  Each day, more and more readers have downloaded the book. My little e-book has been in the #1 and #2 spots for the past week in its category:

Fade to Gray

After this, something unexpected and amazing happened. 

My other titles that are not free started getting purchased. This may be a fluke or just plain good luck, but I have started to garner more readers from this one simple act of offering one of my books perma-free on Amazon.

Have any of you done this as well?  And what have your results been?




 




Thursday, November 6, 2014

Book Review Spotlight  - Rainbow by Scott Pixello



Rainbow by Scott Pixello is a sweet, heart-tugging tale of a unusual calf born minutes before her mother dies. This is not a story of loss, but one of love - love for a pet, love for family and love of the right things in life.

The story opens with Jess, an 11-year old girl and her father (a widower) working on their cattle farm during calving season. Two heifers go into labor at the same time and Jess must help deliver one of the calf's in the barn while her father works with the second heifer in the field. Once Jess helps with the birth and the mother cow dies, her father comes into the barn to discover that the calf that is born has two heads. Normally, two-headed cows do not live very long, but Rainbow defies the odds and flourishes.

Throughout the book, the depiction of farm life and the details of the harshness of that life are spot on. Jess and her father work sunrise to sunset taking care of their farm and their prized cows, only to be indebted to the bank, to friends and to family.

With unwavering love and devotion, Jess defends Rainbow and does whatever she can to stress to her father how important it is to her that they keep Rainbow with them on their farm. A series of events near the middle of the book show how cruel, conniving and ruthless some people can be when there is money to made from the exploitation of animals. But, through it all, Jess and her father keep their heads held high and the ruthless people get their just rewards.

Many parts of the book were hilarious and I could honestly see this story as a movie. The story was well written and the characters were perfectly developed. Overall, Rainbow was a very enjoyable read.

I would recommended Rainbow to young and old alike. It is good, clean fun and one of the better indie books I have read this year.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Book Review Spotlight - A Bright Power Rising by Noel Coughlan


A Bright Power Rising by Noel Coughlan is one of the more unique books I've read this year.

The novel begins right in the middle of the action. A mother has lost her son in the woods, then finds him, only to discover that he is under the power of the Gilt Spider.

The Gilt Spider persona is woven throughout the story as a fallen angel who ensnares children. Once lost to the Gilt Spider, the children are gone forever. Or are they?

In this novel, elves (Ors) and humans (Stretchers) struggle to survive in a harsh and brutal world. There are religious and political wars that are similar to those in Roman and Christian mythology as well as magic, fantasy, history and prophesy.

Near the end of the book, most questions are answered and things fall into place. The characters mature throughout the course of the story and by the end, I found myself cheering them on - even Garscap, the not-so-likable character.

The author has done a great job in the telling of this story. The plot was believable and the writing was very well done. The only thing that bothered me a bit was that the ending was a tad bit abrupt. But, this was the perfect place to end the first volume of a continuing saga.

Looking forward to more from this very talented author.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Book Review Spotlight - Risky Issues by Lorraine Reguly



Risky Issues by Lorraine Reguly touches on some very serious childhood issues in our society. 
I applaud her for writing these short stories and can see them as way to get the conversation started between parents and their children.

Although all of the stories touched me, I especially liked "The Secrets of the Study" which is about adoption and whether it should be a secret or not. Frankly, I think an adopted child should be told as soon as they are able to understand what the word means. But, in this story, the child (Marcie) finds out by accident. Thankfully, the story has a happy ending for Marcie.

It is difficult to write in the short story form and even harder for reviewers to critique the form if they are used to reading novella and novel length pieces, but Reguly has perfected the form written here and gives just enough detail in each to satisfy the reader.

I have read Ms. Reguly's blogs and several of her other flash fiction and short story offerings. I am pleased to say that this anthology does not disappoint. Well Done!

 

About the Author: 


Check out Lorraine's author page at Amazon as well as her website, Wording Well.

Monday, October 27, 2014

He Said/She Said - Fiction Challenge



Jane Martin is an awesome writer and a wonderful blogger friend.  She has put a challenge out there this week which I have decided to partake in.

The link to her post is HERE.

Below is my entry into the challenge:

As you read this story, think about what is left unsaid.

He said, “You know I love you.”
She said, “Yes, I know, I love you, too.”
He said, “But, we have issues.”
She said, “Every couple that has been together as long as we have has issues.”
He said, “But our problems seem to be worse than most."
She said, “That's because you only see the negative things.”
He said, “And you only see the positive things.”
She said, “No, I see things realistically  - in a positive light.”
He said, “Why do you always have to correct what I say?”
She said, “Because your perception is way off sometimes.”
He said, “Whatever.  Can we just agree to disagree?”
She said, “Yes, dear …  I agree with you.”
He said, "Can you pass me the shovel? 
She said, "Sure.  Do you think the neighbors know?"
He said, "How could they know?  No one saw your uncle in our house."
She said, "Yes, true, everyone thinks he went to live in Mexico."
He said, “Now, what were we talking about?”
She said, “I don't even remember.  Are you done?”
He said,  "Yes, just let me cover the body with a little more dirt ..."


Please go over to Jayne's blog and post your link in the InLinkz widget so that everyone will know where to go to see your blog with your own entry into this fiction challenge. Thanks. :-)
 
Please share your interpretation of this piece in the comments. Then go write a “He said/She said” story on your own blog, come back to Jayne's blog and link it up. Check back for new links to visit others. 

You have until midnight on Friday.  Join in the fun!





Thursday, October 16, 2014

Book Review Spotlight - Resuscitation by Jerrid Edgington

 

Resuscitation by Jerrid Edgington is the second book in the Racing the Reaper series and one that will keep you on the edge of your seat as you read through it.

The book begins shortly after the first one, Racing the Reaper, leaves off. Following after Bridge, the main character, Jacob, is in a new town and in a new job. Little does he know that his love interest, Bridge is already involved with a doctor at the hospital. Jacob discovers this when he happens to run into her and the doctor one day after Jacob delivers a patient via ambulance to the hospital.

The reader is taken on a journey through emotional highs and lows right along with Jacob. I cringed, cried and laughed out loud at some of the emergency calls that Jacob had to respond to, but in the end thought that all of it seemed very realistic in terms of what first responders go through on a daily basis.

Intertwined with the main plot is the struggle between Bridge and Jacob to work out a way to be together. All the while, Jacob must also deal with Bridge's ex-boyfriend who is a power hungry, control freak that gets his comeuppance later in the book.

Although this second book stands on its own, I would recommend reading the first book prior to this one to get the full back story of Jacob and his life before the new town and new job.

The author did a great job of tying up loose ends and delivering a complete, well-written sequel to Racing the Reaper (Book 1). Looking forward to the next book in the series.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Her Name was Half Calf - FREE on Amazon



It must be the crisp, coolness of the autumn air or it could be that there is a lunar eclipse today. 

Whatever the reason, I am feeling compelled to give away some free e-books.

Not only is "Fade to Gray"  perma-free on Smashwords, but for the next five days, "Her Name was Half Calf"  is FREE on Amazon!  (Promo runs from October 8 - October 12, 2014).








 

Fade to Gray - Permanently FREE on Smashwords



I am finally giving Smashwords a try and offering one of my e-book short stories as PERMANENTLY FREE.

The cover for "Fade to Gray" has been updated and minor edits have been made to the text.

Although the e-book is currently shown as .99 on Amazon, I have notified them of the free price on Smashwords.  This should trigger Amazon's price match guarantee and the price should change to free on Amazon as well in a few weeks.

Please feel free to download the e-book from Smashwords and leave a review on either Smashwords or Amazon - if you are so inclined.

Thanks for the continued support and readership!








Monday, October 6, 2014

Book Review Spotlight - Unelmoija: The Spiritshifter by Elle Boca (Weeia Book 3)


Unelmoija: The Spiritshifter by Elle Boca is another wonderfully written installment of the Weeia series.

It begins where the second book leaves off with Amy and her boyfriend, Duncan along with Amy's sister, Kat at a Weeia conference. Unfortunately, a death occurs while they are at the conference and the three young Weeia see the body before the Weeia Elders alter the scene. What looks to be a "natural death" of a fellow Weeia named Loi becomes a mystery worthy of being solved by Amy and her friends.

After being ushered out of the room, Amy dreamshifts back into the room where Loi's body is and tries to determine what the actual reason is for her friend's death.

From what Amy can find out, Loi was an "amplifier" and one who can assist other Weeia with strengthening their abilities. Amplifiers are rare and Amy soon discovers that she may be one as well. This puts her life in danger once more and she is determined to uncover the true story behind Loi's death. On this journey, she, Duncan and her sister, Kat discover much more than who killed Loi (and why).

As the story unfolds, Amy must stay under the radar of the Weeia Elders and what better way to do that than to be the lead singer in a band that will be playing at the Weeia Youth Conference? Right under the noses of the Elders, Amy hides in plain sight. This was an entertaining subplot in the book.

Although book three of the series is lighter than the first two, it still has many suspenseful and thrilling moments. The characters are maturing quite nicely and coming to terms with their multitude of abilities.

This latest book does stand on its own, but I would suggest that the reader read the first two (Unelmoija: The Dreamshifter and Unelmoija: The Mindshifter) before this one.

Please also read my reviews of the first two books in the series:




Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Summer 2014


As summer is winding down and a chill can be felt in the air at night, I find myself wondering where the time went.  Not really wondering, because I know where it went, but I am surprised that it went by so quickly.

This was the summer of reading and of traveling for me. I read so many books, I had a hard time keeping track of them all.  The better ones that I read I wrote reviews on and even wrote a few reviews on some not so stellar ones.

The travel part of my summer was spectacular!  There really are no words to describe the things and places I have seen over the past few months.

From Badlands National Park to Yellowstone and Arches National Parks plus many points in between, it ceases to amaze me just how beautiful this great country of ours truly is ...


Badlands




Yellowstone Falls from Artist Point



Arches




I hope you enjoyed the vacation photos and hope that your summer was spectacular as well.

Now, back to writing and editing my novel.




Friday, August 29, 2014

Labor Day Sale - FREE Download



Just in time for Labor Day, "A Special Bull"
is FREE from August 30th through September 3rd.

Enjoy!

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IK4U8SC

As always, thanks for your continued support.

Please feel free to share the link with anyone who may be interested in reading the ebook. Reviews are encouraged and appreciated.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Book Review Spotlight - Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice



Interview with the Vampire is Anne Rice's debut vampire novel which took the world by storm back in the mid 1970's.

At that time, a friend had loaned me the book to read. I was a huge Dark Shadows fan and this book was right up my alley - absolutely loved it!

Fast forward some 30 years later and I found myself with the desire to read a few of my favorite classics from my youth. Lo and behold, Interview with the Vampire was at the top of the list and I could not wait to purchase it for my Kindle and devour it once again.

The story is told from the point of view of the vampire, Louis de Pointe du Lac. He details his life (both mortal and immortal) to a young reporter, leaving no stone unturned in outlining the graphic scenes that unfolded during his lifetime as a human and as a vampire.

In the beginning, Louis was a wealthy land owner in Louisiana in the eighteenth century when the vampire, Lestat, selfishly and for monetary gain makes Louis into a vampire. Louis was in mourning for his deceased brother and had lost his will to live. The opportunistic, Lestat, being the egocentric being that he is also wanted a companion to keep the loneliness of being an immortal vampire at bay. Lestat took advantage of this human weakness and Louis was forever bound to Lestat.

Although Lestat knew the ways of vampires, he was not willing to share his intimate knowledge of this with Louis and left him to work through the emotions and physical changes for himself. This left Louis with a love/hate relationship for Lestat.

After a night of frenzied feeding, Louis brings home a child named Claudia, whom he cannot leave to die. Again in his selfishness, Lestat does the unthinkable and makes the child into a vampire to keep Louis anchored to Louisiana and to Lestat.

Claudia will always have the body of a child, yet her mind and vampire nature would grow by leaps and bounds until she is mature beyond her human years. She grows to hate Lestat more than Louis does and ultimately tries to kill Lestat with the help of Louis.

After Louis and Claudia supposedly kill Lestat, they move to Paris as father and daughter, free from the clutches of Lestat. This is where they meet Armand, a four-hundred year old vampire who is the de-facto leader of a band of vampires. Armand wants Louis for his companion and stops at nothing to make this happen - including killing Claudia and bringing Lestat back into the picture.

At the end of the book, the reader is left with so many questions and an overwhelming need to know more about what happens to Louis after all of this. Thankfully, Rice continues the story in the next book of the series (The Vampire Chronicles) and will be releasing Prince Lestat in October 2014.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Interview with the Vampire for the second time and look forward to reading the rest of the series (again) prior to the release of Prince Lestat.

This is definitely a classic and still one of my all time favorite novels.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Chicken Little in Therapy


   
     It really wasn't her fault that the other fowl were killed by Foxy Loxy on that dreadful day so many years ago.  But, that did not stop Chicken Little from blaming herself for their deaths.  She had a classic case of survivor’s guilt.

    If I had only not let my worry and anxiety get the better of me that day, my friends would still be here with me, she thought.  Preoccupied with her own regrets, Chicken Little did not see that the previous patient had left the office and that she was the only one remaining before office hours were over.

    “Ms. Little, the doctor will see you now,” the nurse announced.

    As Chicken Little walked into the office, she was amazed at all of the diplomas, certificates and other awards that the doctor had nicely framed on the wall above his desk  This guy must be a really good doctor  - with all of these wonderful awards, she thought.

    “Ms. Little, what brings you to see me today?”  Dr. Drake asked as he turned around in his black leather, executive desk chair to greet the flustered hen.

    “Mr. Drake, I have come to talk about this terrible guilt I have over the death of my friends,” she responded.

    “Please have a seat and let us begin,” Dr. Drake continued.

    As Chicken Little sat down on the couch, Dr. Drake began to ask questions about her life since the death of her friends and how she had coped up until this point with the stress of knowing that she was the sole survivor of the mass murder.  Chicken Little could only respond that life had been stressful since then and she was barely coping.

Read the rest in "Chickens, Hawks and Grump Goats: Five Years on a Farm"


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Book Review Spotlight - Four Mothers by RJ Crayton

 

"Four Mothers" by RJ Crayton is not your typical collection of short stories. It is truly a breath-taking view into the mind of mothers - their fears, their hopes and dreams for themselves and their children.

As a short story writer myself, I love to read works from other writers of this genre. It takes a special talent to be able to write a beginning, middle and ending to a story within a short amount of space and Ms. Crayton has successfully done this in "Four Mothers".

I especially liked the short story, "As Luck Would Have It", with the original ending. My least favorite was "Two-Day Break", only because it had a rather horrific ending to the story and I am a bit squeamish.

This is the first book I have read by this author and it is very evident that she is a very talented writer. I look forward to reading more from her.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Surviving the Winter





Winter is still in full swing and the coldness only makes our family more hungry. With too many mouths to feed and not enough nourishment, every day is a struggle to survive.
As the matriarch, I work in the morning to get the resources needed for the family to have at least one meal each day and I am not above killing the neighbors' chickens if I have to. Today, I have to. I am not not proud of this fact, but it keeps the family going, at least for a few more days.
With three hungry offspring and a partner that works the overnight shift, it is up to me to keep them all fed during the day. When you have triplets to care for, every day brings with it a new dilemma. On the edge of starvation and not one friend in the neighborhood to offer me any help.
Read the rest in "Chickens, Hawks and Grump Goats: Five Years on a Farm"







Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Summer Break - On Hiatus from Writing




In case no one noticed ... I have taken a hiatus from working on my writing. I have decided to enjoy the summer and read, read, read.  Well, and write reviews for the books that I have enjoyed reading this summer.

Aside from reading other indie books and writing reviews, I am also researching subject matter for my next book and several short stories.  This research includes travel to some very exciting places.

The first destination was to Washington, D.C. earlier this summer.  Needless to say, D.C. was a fountain of writing material just waiting to be written.

The other destinations we traveled to earlier this summer included Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland.  All of these states had great things to see and do while we were traveling in our RV. Yes, these locales have definitely given me more fodder for my upcoming writing efforts.

But, the summer has only started ... There will be many more books to read, more reviews to write and most importantly, more places to visit and enjoy before autumn and winter rush in.

Hope everyone has a wonderful summer!





Book Review Spotlight - Small Town Witch by Kristen S. Walker


"Small Town Witch" by Kristen S. Walker is a wonderfully unique story of small town witches in a world where magical powers and sorcery are commonplace.

The story is told through the eyes of Rosamunde, a teenage witch who lives in a small town in California. Although Rosamunde is human, she made a pact with a fae in order to have magical abilities like those of her mother. As with any teenager, Rosamunde is in a hurry to grow up and use the magic powers that her mother has taught her over the past few years. But, her mother believes she needs more training - much to Rosamunde's dismay.

The nice little town of Madrone is painted so vividly in the beginning of the story that I felt as though I were there along side Rosamunde. As the story progresses, there are hints and foreshadowing that everything is not as it seems and a more sinister plot comes to the surface.

The daily trials and tribulations of teenagers are sprinkled throughout the book, no matter that they are not normal teenagers - their lives still echo the thoughts and feelings of any normal young adult. When you add the layers of witchcraft, sorcery and magic to the mix, the outcome is an explosion of emotion and drama that keeps the reader interested and engaged in the story to the very end.

I found the characters to be believable and each one was fully developed to my satisfaction. The plot had many twists and turns that kept me guessing and made me eager to turn the page to see what would happened next. Although the ending was a slight cliffhanger, it only made me want to read the next book right away.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading "Small Town Witch" and look forward to reading the sequel.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Book Review Spotlight - Seeking Dr. Magic by Scott Spotson



"Seeking Dr. Magic" by Scott Spotson is an urban detective fantasy that delivers a well-developed story full of suspense and a good amount of "magic".

The story opens with Ninjas effortlessly performing stunts on a high-rise building in New York City, only to disappear in front of the large crowd of on-lookers. Former FBI agent, Tony Hetfield is now a detective who is tasked with solving the mystery of the Phantam Ninjas, only to be taken from his office in Chicago and dropped thirty stories off the Morgan Stanley building in New York within a matter of minutes. Hetfield is then caught inches from the ground by Dr. Magic - all is recorded and the media is in a frenzy about it.

Throughout the book, both Dr. Magic and Detective Hetfield reveal more and more "human" characteristics, not just the surface traits initially portrayed in the beginning of the book. Hetfield becomes more likable as a character as he develops a bond with Dr. Magic. Hetfield has a gut feeling that Dr. Magic is not evil, just misunderstood. Dr. Magic realizes that he is just a kid in need of a friend that he can trust.

The only thing that bothered me while reading this was that the ending felt a bit rushed, but not to the point of detracting too much from the story line.

If you are looking for a quick read this summer, "Seeking Dr. Magic" certainly fits the bill!


Saturday, June 21, 2014

New Release Spotlight - Blackout by Madeleine Henry



"Blackout" by Madeleine Henry is a superbly written dystopian novel, full of action, suspense, romance and adventure.

The story begins after the world is plunged into darkness and America is divided by a concrete wall (the Frontier). The northern part of the nation above the wall has electricity, the bottom part below the Frontier does not. The lives of those without electricity in the Dark Zone is harsh, dangerous and barely above existing for most of the inhabitants in the region. The lives of those with electricity is much easier (thus the term, "Easies" used to describe them).

The main character, Phoenix, and his girlfriend, Star are selected along with several other teenagers to be allowed into America. In exchange for this, their families are given electricity and Star hopes it will be the answer to her younger brother's chronic illness.

Once in America, Phoenix and Star are thrown into a contest given by the richest families in the country. At first glance, the intentions of the families appear to be genuinely altruistic and the teens quickly adapt to the lifestyle. However, during the course of the contest, secrets are revealed that shake Phoenix to his core and make him question the true reasons for the contest.

"Blackout" was an easy read and it kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire story. Ms. Henry has delivered a great story with a wonderfully thought out plot. I loved the ending and am looking forward to the sequel.

I would definitely recommend it to those who enjoy books such as The Hunger Games and other young adult dystopian, post-apocalyptic type novels.


About the Author

Madeleine Henry was born and raised in New York. This spring, she graduated from Yale University and began her adult life in New York City. Madeleine majored in psychology and wrote her senior essay on the extreme popularity of the Twilight book series. In college, she also ran a marathon and had a brief but enthusiastic stint as a stand-up comedienne.

BLACKOUT is Madeleine's first book. Parts of the story are drawn from two weeks she spent foraging for food and water in desert Utah while enrolled in a survival skills field course. She has since recovered.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Book Review Spotlight - Fleischerhaus by Melissa Bowersock


 

 

"Fleischerhaus" by Melissa Bowersock is another great read from this extremely talented author. I loved "Stone's Ghost" and was eager to read Ms. Bowersock's latest offering.

The story centers on Julia, who is recently divorced and decides to visit her friends (Denis and Maggie) in Germany for the summer. While there, she and Maggie visit a historical area which includes what was once a concentration camp. Julia is drawn to a cottage off the main area of the camp. Once she enters, she feels as though she is being strangled and runs out of the building in fear for her life.

After Maggie helps her regain her composure, they go to the medical office where Maggie and her husband, Denis are employed as physicians. This is where Julia meets Dr. Theo Seiler and is quickly attracted to the handsome, single doctor.

With encouragement from Theo and a reference to another doctor who performs hypnosis, Julia decides to delve further into her belief that she was murdered in a past life at the concentration camp. Under hypnosis, she finds out much more than she could have imagined of the life of the girl who was murdered in the camp.

"Fleischerhaus" is indeed a suspenseful, intriguing, well-crafted story of a past life experience and a summer romance. One that will surely keep you interested from the very beginning to the very end.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Book Review Spotlight - Written in Hell by Jason Helfold

Book Review Spotlight - Written in Hell by Jason Helfold


"Written in Hell" by Jason Helford is a well-crafted tale of the journey through Hell for a very "bad" author.

Nathaniel Blovey is a writer whose collection of books failed miserably to garner much readership while he was alive. He also was a pretty awful person in real life, just ask his girlfriend. Although his girlfriend was no prize either.

The story begins where Nate's life is cut short is a most horrific way and he is sent to Hell. Well, actually, he has been asked to write in Hell. Since his books have been a big hit there, the Devil decides to allow the hoards their request of more books from this famous (in Hell) author. But, Nate has a problem. He has writer's block. What is an author to do if writing a best-seller is the key to him NOT spending eternity in the worst level of Hell (the Hall of Mediocrity and in his own mediocre mind)?

The plot is unique, original and different with a touch of "Dante's Inferno", yet this version of Hell is masterfully created with a fresh newness about it. The book is strange, creepy and at times flinch-worthy, but not so much as to take away from the storyline.

I would recommend this to those who appreciate fantasy, however, be warned that there is a large peppering of profanity throughout the book.


Overall, a very good read and one that I will not soon forget.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Book Review Spotlight - The Mine by John A. Heldt



"The Mine" by John Heldt is a cross between a time travel, science fiction novel and a love story, blended quite nicely into one perfectly packaged piece.

In the beginning of the book, Joel is nearing graduation from college in the year 2000. He is on a road trip with his friend, Adam in Montana and they take a detour on their way home to Seattle. Adam is not very happy about the change of plans and the abandoned gold mine, but allows Joel a few minutes to go into the cavern.

While in the mine, Joel is swept into the past. The portal only opens during a certain alignment of the planets, which occurs about every 60 years. When he steps out of the mine, Joel ends up in the year 1941, just six months before the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor.

In 1941, Joel is a homeless person in Montana with no money in his pocket and just the clothes on his back. He is able to sell his watch at a pawn shop and get food and other items with the proceeds. He teams up with other homeless men, down on their luck and hops a train to Seattle. This is where he meets Tom.

Joel breaks up a fight where Tom is being beaten up by a couple of thugs over a debt. For his heroism, Tom takes Joel under his wing and to his home. Joel settles in quite nicely in 1941 and becomes a star salesmen in Tom's father's furniture store.

One thing leads to another and Joel falls in love with Grace. This is where the story gets really good and you can see Joel maturing from the cocky college student to a caring young man.

Grace is the perfect girlfriend for Joel, but she is engaged to another man who will soon be shipped off to war. Their budding romance blossoms as the weeks go by while her fiancée is in training in another state. Joel and Grace become inseparable. That is, until Joel makes the decision to go back to the year 2000.

I loved the setting for this book, Seattle is one of my favorite places. I could see and feel the sights and sounds of the Pacific Northwest with the descriptive voice that the author used. To be in Seattle in the 1940's would have been a great time to be there.

Heldt has wonderfully blended a time-travel story with a romance, not something that is very easy to do. The balance of both was right on the mark for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and did not want it to end. When it did end, the smile on my face was one of pure satisfaction.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Fade to Gray – Part II

 

 

If you are wondering what happened after my initial attempt to "Fade to Gray" (perma-FREE on Amazon US only), then this post is specifically for you. 

The last time I colored my hair was June 15, 2013.

For the first several weeks after I had missed a month of coloring, I used a temporary color to dab on the roots. This was just to tone down the bright silver of the ever-increasing stripe of gray that covered by crown.

At month three of no color touch up, I decided to fully embrace the gray and get my bangs cut short enough to where there was no color on the ends any longer. Although there was still a wide silvery gray streak at the roots of my hair, at least my bangs were all one solid salt and pepper gray tone.

During this same time-frame, I also began experimenting with pony tails, headbands, scarves and hats that would cover the ever increasing length of gray. The wide-band head bands seemed to work the best and made the harsh transition from gray to dark auburn a little less abrupt.

Nine months into this, I became accustomed to the soft salt/pepper gray that was fully framing my face. I had even had musings of getting my hair cut short just to see what the overall blend of gray would look like without any color at all on the ends.

Just a few days ago, I gathered the courage to get every bit of color completely cut off of my hair.  I now have a very short, salt/pepper gray hairstyle.   Jamie Lee Curtis can be rest assured that I will not be stealing the limelight from her anytime soon.

This journey has been rough at times, especially when dealing with negative comments. Some have been rude and some have been just plain stupid.

Like these:

“Your hair looks like crap.”  More aptly, “Jamie Lee Curtis’s hair looks like crap since she got it cut so short and it is gray and of course yours would look the same if you get it cut that short ...”

“You really do not want to stop coloring your hair, you will look too old.”

“Your hair looks beautiful, I love that you have the courage to let it go like that.”

“No, it does not make you look old at all. You hardly have any wrinkles, so it just looks like you are prematurely gray.”

“I hadn’t noticed the last time I saw you, but did you do something different with your hair?”


The thing I have noticed most about all of these opinions during this transition from colored hair to gray hair is that everyone has an opinion – either a strong opinion for gray hair or a strong opinion against gray hair. There does not appear to be any middle ground on the subject.

Seriously, folks, it is just hair!

I did not think it would be such a huge topic of discussion from friends, family and strangers alike when I started this transition. But, apparently it is and it speaks volume for the shallowness of many people these days.

Today, I looked in the mirror and saw a nicely maturing woman in her late forties, on the cusp of becoming a half of a century old.  I thought, I still look pretty good for my age.

Sometimes I feel older, sometimes I feel younger, but most days I feel the exact age that I am – almost fifty.

Every gray hair on my head has been earned through a lifetime of trials and tribulations, of jobs started and jobs ended, of relationships enjoyed and separated from. But, mostly they were born from plain old stress that takes its toll on each one of us on a daily basis.

The main lesson I have learned from this past year's transformation is this:

Once I stopped worrying about my looks and about getting older, I became freer to experience life and not give much credence to what others think.