Archive for May, 2012

Kimberly Dana’s latest book will bring hours of reading pleasure to teen girls, especially those with a particular interest in cheerleading.

Years ago, a murder was committed in a cheerleading camp: a beautiful teenager with beautiful red flowing hair was drowned in the lake. Rumors say the killer was her best friend.

Now, ten years later, our witty protagonist Tiki Tinklemeyer is put in the same camp by her parents, who want their daughter to become more social and outgoing. But Tiki couldn’t hate the situation more. She feels awkward and out of place, to say the least. She’s not into fashion, makeup and boys, like the other girls in the camp. Worst of all, she’s never done cheerleading in her life! How could her parents have been so cruel? How will she possibly fit in? Thank God, one of her roommates, Rubi, turns out to be rather nice.

Soon, Tiki finds out about the ten-year old murder and the rumors that the dead girl’s ghost still roams the camp. Tiki can handle rumors of ghosts. After all, she’s an intelligent girl with common sense. However, things take a turn for the worse when strange events begin to take place in the camp. Is it one of the girls playing a trick on her — or is it the ghost of the murdered girl?

This was a delightful read! Dana really has a talent for getting inside the head of teen girls. The voice is young and fresh and the pace moves quickly with lots of fun, quirky dialogue. So this is a soft horror story with a humorous twist. The story was intriguing enough to keep me reading throughout, and the ending was good, promising more to come in Book Two. The only thing I found a little annoying was how the author wrote the dialogue by some of the girls in capitals. At times it was too much, and I found it distracting. Because of this detail, I’m going to give this book 4.5 instead of 5. Recommended!

To learn more, please visit the author’s website at: http://kimberlydana.com/

Purchase from Amazon.

My review originally appeared in Blogcriticshttp://blogcritics.org/books/article/book-review-cheerage-fearage-by-kimberly/#ixzz1vzpeDjC9

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The Realms of Animar is an enjoyable read, one that will appeal to teens who are fans of fantasy and science fiction.

Set in a world where people have two forms, one human and one animal, this is the story of Thane, a teenage boy whose life is suddenly turned upside down when his animal form unexpectedly transforms into something never seen before. Filled with inmmense power, he now holds the key to the future of Animar and to saving his people from struggle and oppression. But Fatalis, the evil force who plans to rule Animar, learns about Thane and creates an army to destroy him and anybody who gets in the way of his plan. In order to fight Fatalis, Thane seeks the help of other beings, the Avians and Aquans. In a twist of fate, the hunters and the hunted must get together to save their world. 

Though the beginning was kind of slow, with a lot of information being presented by dialogue, I was intrigued with the story enough to keep reading. The author does a fairly good job in creating his medieval world — which, by the way, doesn’t have dragons, elves or sorcery like so many other books in this genre nowadays — and dividing it into five realms: Herbivore, Carnic, Avian, Aquan and Reptilian. I enjoyed the action, battle scenes, and watching Thane grow into a brave, fearless warrior and hero. Though it has some violence, the language and other aspects make this book appropriate for the lower young adult crowd and even for middle graders. Recommended for readers 11 & up.

Website: http://www.therealmsofanimar.com

Purchase from Amazon or B&N

Read more: http://blogcritics.org/books/article/book-review-the-realms-of-animar/#ixzz1vuXLnMbH

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ImageJuliana (Jill) Muehrcke is the award-winning author of many books and articles. Founder and editor of the international magazine Nonprofit World (snpo.org), she has studied at the University of Colorado and the University of Michigan and has a BA degree, specializing in English and psychology, from the University of Washington. Jill is listed in Who’s Who (MarquisWhoswho.com). In her spare time, she enjoys teaching yoga and eating ethnic food. For many years, in several cities, including Seattle, Honolulu, and Madison, she has written restaurant reviews.

Her latest book is Waking Up Happy: A Handbook of Change with Memoirs of Recovery and Hope.

You can visit her website at www.WakingUpHappyBook.com.

Listen to Jill on the Joy Cardin Show at http://wpr.org/search/ideas_program_search.cfm?StartYear=3&keyword=muehrcke&x=0&y=0.     


1. Why don’t you begin by telling us a little about yourself? 

My life has revolved around reading and writing for as long as I can remember. Editing is also a passion of mine. Some of my friends gave me the moniker “the goddess of editing” because I talked with such enthusiasm about how much I loved to edit. I’m the editor of the magazine NONPROFIT WORLD (www.snpo.org), which I founded 30 years ago, and that’s a labor of love. I’ve been a freelance writer and editor since about 1973. I’ve had dozens of books, articles, and monographs published over the years, mostly in the nonprofit and educational fields. My most recent book, WAKING UP HAPPY: A HANDBOOK OF CHANGE WITH MEMOIRS OF RECOVERY AND HOPE is a complete departure for me, and it’s also by far the most personal thing I’ve ever written. 

2. Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story. 

WAKING UP HAPPY is a combination of memoirs and self-enhancement exercises. Readers tell me the combination is very powerful and has helped them change their lives when nothing else has worked for them. They say that, first, they’re inspired by the true stories of others who have prevailed. And, then, the exercises and to-do lists spur them in the right direction toward transformative change. I wrote the book because it’s exactly what I was looking for when I decided to change my own life for the better. WAKING UP HAPPY includes my own memoir, as well as the memoirs of my daughter, granddaughter, and over 30 others who have made dramatic changes in their lives. When one of the storytellers learns a lesson in their life, I’ve added activities readers can do to put that same lesson to use.

 3. Did your book require a lot of research? 

Some of the research was already done, since I’ve been collecting exercises, tips, and tactics for change for many years in order to create a fulfilling life for myself. When I started writing WAKING UP HAPPY, I began interviewing other people who, like me, had experimented with many methods of change. So then it was a matter of telling their stories – not only what they did to transform their lives but how they did it – and adding exercises that would help readers make similar changes in their own lives. 

4. What was your goal when writing this book? 

ImageMy aim was to help as many people as possible learn the keys to waking up happy every day. One of the suggestions in the book is to ask someone to be your Waking Up Happy Buddy. That person can be a friend or family member – or just someone you think would enjoy the process of self-discovery as much as you. If you don’t know the person well, that’s OK. You’ll soon become extremely close as you both do the exercises, then get together on a regular basis to discuss your results and insights. I think that’s the best way to use WAKING UP HAPPY and the best way to create life-enhancing change. 

5. Who is your target audience? 

Anyone who is ready to change their life for the better! While the memoirists who tell their stories in WAKING UP HAPPY are all recovering from addictions, harmful habits, and intolerable situations, you don’t have to be in despair to benefit from making life changes. Growth is constant and lifelong if you’re doing it right. We all have our gaps that need work. Even those who are successful high-achievers, who consider themselves winners, often need to alter their lives. They may be working so hard that they risk destroying their relationships and letting stress ruin their health. Stress is a killer, so it’s life-saving to replace overwork with calming, self-sustaining habits. So, when I say the audience for WAKING UP HAPPY is anyone who wants or needs to make changes in their lives, I guess I’m saying that there’s no one who isn’t part of the target audience! 

6. What will the reader learn after reading your book? 

WAKING UP HAPPY is an encyclopedia of ways to make changes – both small and large –  in your life every day. In addition to the exercises that appear each time a memoirist learns a life lesson, every chapter ends with “Things to Do Today.” At the end of WAKING UP HAPPY are chapters called “What Works and What Doesn’t” and “365 Steps on Your Journey.” So, even after you finish reading the book, there’s a helpful exercise for every day of the next year to keep you on your path. The memoirs will have made it crystal-clear that revolutionary change is possible. The exercises will show you how to do it. There’s even an index so you can look up exercises on a particular part of your life you’d like to improve. Everything is at hand to make your spirit sing! And you will also learn this: You are not alone. Others have been where you are, and they have triumphed. You can, too, All the need do is take one small step today. Then take another one tomorrow. In time, these tiny steps will evolve into profound change. 

7. Do you have another book on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects? 

I’m putting together a workshop which may end up being an all-day or all-weekend event. Participants can do the exercises in WAKING UP HAPPY and then spend time in reflection and discussion. I’m also urging book clubs to choose WAKING UP HAPPY as their selection of the month so that I can come to their book discussion (either in person or virtually). Again, we can do some of the exercises together at that time and explore our discoveries. I think doing the exercises, writing down your results, pondering them, and then sharing them with others is the core secret to creating meaningful, lasting change. 

8. Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

Yes. Please come visit us at www.WakingUpHappyBook.com. I would love to have you share your own stories, ideas, and insights there and connect with other readers who are on the same journey with you. 

9 As an author, what is your greatest reward? 

My greatest reward is hearing from readers that they’ve forged fulfilling, joyous lives as a result of reading what I’ve written. It makes everything worth it! 

10. Anything else you’d like to say about yourself or your work? 

I’m donating half the proceeds from WAKING UP HAPPY to the Recovery Foundation (www.recoveryfoundation.net) – a wonderful group that provides scholarships for people who want counseling but can’t afford it. So when you buy a copy of WAKING UP HAPPY, you won’t just be transforming your own life! You’ll also be transforming the life of someone else! 

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ImageJohn H. Byk (pen name, Conrad Johnson) was born and raised on the gritty streets of Detroit, Michigan.  After surviving high school, he joined the Coast Guard and then went back to school to earn his Masters of Art in English.  Still aching to see more of the world, he worked as a Merchant Seaman and then taught English in Japan and Thailand before returning to Detroit to teach high school.  Having had enough, he retired early and now spends his time writing and interviewing contemporary authors on his podcast blog, 2012writersALIVE, from his home in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula.  When not chained to the computer, he spends his free time hunting, fishing, hiking, sailing and enjoying nature with his best friend Judy and his adoring canine, Sarah.

To promote his trilogy, the John Oxman Vogages, the author is offering the prequel, Detroit Daze free on Smashwords and Barnes and Noble.

About the book:

ImageDetroit Daze is a novel about guts, glory and gangs set in the Mad Motor City of Detroit, Michigan.  Not for the faint of heart. Not for the nostalgic minded reader.  Not for suckers but for survivors only.


What was your inspiration for Detroit Daze?

I wrote my first novel, Till the Moon Falls, in 2010.  When I finished it, a sequel came to mind so I went right to work on that. It’s called, Xe-Nophobia. After finding an old high school friend on Facebook, he suggested that I should write a novel about those wild and crazy days so I did, figuring that a trilogy was better than a duology.  The book is a prequel that completes The John Oxman Voyages series.

How long did it take you to complete Detroit Daze?

Once I finished my first novel I couldn’t stop writing.  I finished all three books in a year and then a fourth one and now I’m working on my fifth. I’ve also written non fiction, chapbooks along the way.  If there’s a day that goes by that I’m not writing, then I’m thinking about writing.

What do you find most challenging about writing crime fiction?

Avoiding sensationalism.  Blood and violence for its own sake does not a good story make.  There has to be a compelling narrative to justify it all.

 What is your favorite scene in the book?

To be honest, I hated the entire manuscript when I was done with it.  But then I shared it with Rebecca Forster, indie author of the best selling Witness Series and she nearly flipped out because she loved it so much.  She answers this question best when she posted a review on Amazon that says, “Every word, every plot turn, every scene was so graphically presented that the reader prays the main character will be able to escape his circumstances. You will never forget Heavy, Berwyn and the rich cast of characters portrayed in this novel.”

What do you love most about being an author?

The freedom to dream, explore, create, share and to have an excuse for eating fudge brownies for a sugar buzz while working.

What does an author need to do to be a guest on your radio show, 2012writersALIVE? 

First of all, they have to have a book that’s on the market and ready to be purchased with a click. Secondly, I prefer authors that have experience related to the work they are promoting and/or credentials more substantial than just being a blogger.  I screen potential guests carefully to keep my show classy and relevant (I hope!).  Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, they need a telephone or Skype connection, especially if they live outside of the USA.

What’s on the near horizon?

Warmer weather and lots of fishing trips.  Seriously. I can hardly believe how much I’ve written in the past two years and all the interviews that I’ve done.  I feel it’s time to slow down a bit, catch my breath and cast a few flies for trout as I still continue working on my next project and soliciting guests for my podcast blog at a much more relaxed pace than before.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell my readers?

If you’re a writer, write from your own social milieu. If you’re a reader (as all good writers should be), always have at least two books on your nightstand (or on your electronic device) that you’re working your way through.  Scan and sift through everything that you come across in print.  Also, watch a goofy comedy film every now and then.  Besides that, make sure you wear sunscreen on the beach.

Connect with John H. Byk:

Twitter: johnhbyk

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/john.h.byk

Link to excerpt: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/79687

Link to purchase page: http://johnbyk.blogspot.com

Link to book trailer: http://youtu.be/pPV9ID3QAHE

Don’t forget to download your free copy of Detroit Daze from Smashwords or Barnes and Noble:



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Book description: 

Alan Watt wrote the first draft of his novel Diamond Dogsin just under 90 days, and later sold the North American rights for $500,000 to Little, Brown in a bidding war. The book became a national bestseller, won a slew of awards and is soon to be a major motion picture.Get the first draft down quickly! The 90-Day Novelis a day-by-day guide through the process of getting the first draft of your novel onto the page. The 90-Day Novel was workshopped at LA Writers’ Lab over three years and has helped hundreds of writers complete their work. Some of his students have gone on to become bestselling authors and win major literary awards.The 90-Day Novelis structured into three parts.

Part One describes the process of getting your story from imagination to the page and prepares you, through a few simple, powerful writing exercises to access the story within. Part Two is The 90-Day Novel, a series of 90 daily letters that will guide you through the hero’s journey. Writers often tend to get stuck halfway through, mired somewhere in their “idea” of the story. The 90-Day Novel will show you how and why you got stuck, and how to get to the end of your first draft. Part Three is a compendium of stream-of-consciousness writing exercises designed to help you access the primal forces in your story, as well as the Structure Questions that will invite up images at key stages in your hero’s journey.

The 90-Day Novel teaches you how to distill your plot to its nature, and clarifies the mysterious process of assembling vague disparate images into a coherent narrative. Working in this way, story structure (which is often taught as a formula) becomes a springboard, setting you free to explore the far reaches of your imagination. “There are no rules,” Watt tells us. “Stay out of your left brain, and let your unconscious do the heavy lifting.” The 90-Day Novel clearly articulates the process of marrying the rigor of story structure to the wildness of the imagination, and in the process reminds us of something we so often forget…that writing is actually fun.

My thoughts:
From all the books on writing I’ve ever read–and they are in the dozens–I can honestly say this is by far the best. The best way to describe this book is: plotting for right brainers.
Why for right brainers? Because Watt teaches you how to plot in an organic, stream-of-consciousness manner. Think of it as Writing the Breakout Novel meets The Artist’s Way. What really struck me about this method is the idea that we can’t solve a problem at the same level of consciousness that created that problem. What this means is that often it is impossible to plot a strong, compelling ending of a novel unless we’ve gone through the journey with our characters, that we must allow our characters to play and trust our subconscious to do the work. Watt also advises to keep curious all throughout the writing process, so that new questions emerge while our world takes shape.
An important point Watt stresses is that ” it is character that suggests plot,” and that stories are about transformation and a “shift in perception.” According to the author, at the heart of every story is a dilemma, which isn’t meant to be confused with the problem.  Watt goes on to explain the difference between the two: “Problems are solved, while dilemmas are resolved through a shift in perception.”
The 90-Day Novel is an insightful, revealing, must-read for any serious novelist. This is a book I’ll continue to use every time I start a new novel. The exercises are spot-on for getting me in touch with my subconscious and creativity. Finally, in addition to being insightful and practical, the book is also highly inspiring. Every novelist has those moments of self doubt, and Watt tackles these too.

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Don’t Cry, Daddy’s Here: One Woman’s Journey to Recovery from Incest is a deeply disturbing memoir. At the same time it is an important book, one that offers a strong message of hope and renewal to victims of this terrible crime.

“My decision to write this book came from a deep desire to say, ‘You are not alone.’ I share some of my memories and some lessons I have learned to aid me in living a happier life,” writes Carey.

In her candid, honest voice and simple, straight-forward style, the author tells us what her childhood and teen years were like. It was hell, being abused by a manipulative father and raised by a mother who often beat her with a belt yet at the same time was–or seemed to be–completely oblivious and unaware of what was going on in her household.

While reading the book, I couldn’t decide whether I was more angry and disgusted at the father or at the mother. What makes me even more revolted is the fact that some of the relatives knew what was going on but never said or did anything to help. It’s so hard to accept that this kind of situation happens all the time. This is a brave, poignant account of a victim finally shouting out to the world the horrors of incest and its often inevitable consequences such as teen pregnancy and prostitution.

All I can say is that I take my hat off to this courageous author for having written this memoir. Don’t Cry, Daddy’s Here includes a lot of practical information and resources for victims. If you’re a victim of incest or you know someone who is, I recommend this book. If you suspect someone of being a victim, this is the right book for you as well. The author includes various checklists for signs, prevention and aftereffects.

To find out more about this book and the author, please visit Brinda Carey’s website.

Read more: http://blogcritics.org/books/article/book-review-dont-cry-daddys-here/#ixzz1uG1kbIQK

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Does what you read or where you read say anything about you?  I tend to read in bed before turning in for the night, but I also “read” or listen to audiobooks in the car.  What this says about me is that I tend to read when I’m somewhere quiet, and non-book  words (spoken or otherwise) are less likely to distract me.

One of the reasons I need this is because my ears seem to pick up everything around me.  This could be because of my classical music training, and playing in a symphony orchestra where one must listen to and be aware of dozens of other parts playing with one’s own.  And you must be able to fit in harmony and rhythm as well.  So you hear details, you are hyper aware.

When I’m in a crowded room, it’s difficult for me to tune out everyone else talking in the background, and truly focus on what one person—the one talking to me—is saying.  I’m hearing several conversations all at once.  That’s why if you meet me at a party and want to talk to me, I might pull you aside to somewhere less noisy.  I’m not trying to be exclusive, I just want to hear you better without all the other “noise.”

As a reader, even audible sounds and words will distract me from what I’m reading.  My wife is quite the opposite.  Her background is in education.  And when she was a teacher of middle schoolers, she had to develop the ability to tune out the noise and focus on what she needed to .  Sometimes she gets so good at tuning things out and focusing that she tunes me out.  It’s then I have to tap her shoulder with a smile, and she realizes she’s done it.

The one reading time I’m extremely protective of is my morning Bible reading.  During that hour, I shut the door, keep the computer off, and tune out everything/everyone else.  No internet, no phone calls, no emails, nothing.  I’ve gained the most out of those times to an immeasurable benefit.

ImageNow, if I’m ever going to finish Stephen King’s 11/22/63 before I’m a senior citizen, I’d better set aside some focused time like that.

What kind of reader are you?  Can you multi-thread and multi-task?  Can you read, and talk to someone on the phone at the same time?  Or are you like me, and get frustrated when you’re trying to read, and someone in the library is whispering, but having an intriguing conversation that you really don’t want to eavesdrop on, but can’t help hearing—and thus get distracted?

About Josh

Joshua Graham is the award winning author of the #1 Amazon and Barnes & Noble legal thriller BEYOND JUSTICE.  His latest book DARKROOM won a First Prize award in the Forward National Literature award and was an award-winner in the USA Book News “Bests Books 2011” awards.


Connect with Josh at the following:
Website: www.joshua-graham.com/blog
FACEBOOK: http://joshua-graham.com/fb
Twitter: @J0shuaGraham


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