A lofty place for authors, writers, and readers to connect
Vol. 6 Issue 7
Writers in the Sky Newsletter
Whether you are a published author or a
writer-wanna-be, this e-zine is for you. Here, you will find
articles, book reviews, announcements, poetry, and information
about the craft and business of writing, publishing, and book
marketing written by our readers. Our goal is to connect the
writing and publishing community through networking.
A word from WITS owner Yvonne Perry
The power of Networking
by Maxine Thompson
Author Platform: What Are You Waiting For?
The Savvy Book Marketer Column
by Dana Lynn Smith
Book With a View
Read this month's book reviews
Facing the Tough Stuff
by Jill Shure
Poems from our readers
by Yvonne Perry
It's hard to believe that half of 2010 is already over! But, I am excited about the success
of the projects I've been working on this year. I’ve had
a great response to
We Are One in Spirit Blog and
We Are One in Spirit Podcast.
Shows are booked (some have two guests per week) through the middle of
October. We’ve consistently received over 200 hits per week on this
“revived” blog (it had been dormant for nearly a year).
I encourage authors to find a partner to work with on book promotion.
My Facebook page
with Dr. Caron Goode, the author of Kids Who See Ghosts, Guide Them Through Their Fear, is a
public forum that assists people in working with children who exhibit supernatural gifts.
Our partnership ’s a perfect fit for cross-promoting her book and
mine: The Sid Series ~ A Collection of Holistic Stories for Children.
Together, we get our similar message out to a larger number of people in both our networks and build our own platform in the process. Win-win for all!
I met Mark Scrivner for coffee the week after he contacted me
online. He found me through a search for Nashville resume writers. We’ve become good friends and I truly believe in
Mark and the terrific video products he has to offer authors through his company, SnapShot Interactive. When WITS writes a resume for a Nashville client, we will send you to Mark, who will invite you come to his studio and record a video resume like the one he did for me:
http://snapshotinteractive.com/234Q. Our written resumes are $175 and includes two pages and a cover letter. A video resume that shows your style, voice, and personality to potential employers is $200. SnapShot Interactive Recruiting has partnered with Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services to offer resume clients the ability to have both a written and video resume for one low price of $350.
It started out that Mark was only going to do video resumes. That’s a great service to help put Nashville back to work, but after being in business for just a few short months, he decided to expand his video production to include author bios and book promotion. Rather than just having a written bio on your Web page or blog, you can shine your face, voice, and personality to let your visitors know who you are and what you have to offer.
There are a lot of companies doing movie trailer-type videos for books and many of them do those very well. But Mark’s idea is to involve and feature the author as he or she enthusiastically represents the book’s content and gives personal background on what brought the book to life. Here is Stephanie Huffman's book promo video:
This e-zine is proofread
by Sarah Moore or Barbara Milbourn. I appreciate your contributions and
thank Sarah and Barbara for their hard work.
“There is a power and unity and strength in networking. I think networking is always relevant. And I think it is particularly relevant for Blacks because of our feeling of isolation.” ~ Alvin Pouissant, M.D. (Success Runs in Our Race, 2004, p. 60 by George Fraser)
Years ago, women had their quilting bees and sewing circles in order to form communities of support. This was the old way we networked. Somewhere along the line, though, women lost those connections. All types of problems from alcoholism to substance abuse to broken lives replaced the old quilting bees. However, given the rise of the Internet, networking has taken on a renewed surge of energy.
Traditionally, networking has helped many people of color make business contacts, develop relationships and meet their professional goals. Now, networking is more important than ever. With our present economy, networking can help your business survive and thrive.
Can you join a group which supports your passion? Or even join a women’s or men's group or a book club?
One Sunday I went to a book signing at Milligan Books (www.milliganbooks.com) where I found out about the Red Hat Society, which is a national organization (http://www.redhatsociety.com) for women. This chapter, founded by Ruthie Hopkins (co-publisher of Pasadena Journal with her husband, Attorney Joe Hopkins) of
http://www.pasadenajournal.com, hails from Pasadena. The women sported red hats and purple outfits and they came in and modeled for those present at the book signing. As a group, they were on their way to a play.
The prerequisite to joining the group was that the women had to be over fifty. The reason they wear purple and red is because after fifty you don’t care what people think. They say that the younger women can join the group, but those that join wear lavender and pink.
Anyhow, the women looked so excited as they modeled their outfits. What I saw in each eye was a gleam of satisfaction, a look of triumph—a stride that said that they had arrived. Childbirth, child rearing and sometimes marriages were behind them. Now they could deal with life on their own terms. And most of all, they were networking.
Networking is very important to building a business or helping you reach your dreams.
Personally, as a writer, I’ve been in a writer’s group since 1992. I also participate in Black Writers on Tour, Recycling Black Dollars, and many online communities such as Black Planet.com. Now I'm a member in a multi-racial group, the Greater Los Angeles Writers' Society (GLAWS) as well.
As a race of people, we have always used networking. This is that special something which has helped get around the Old Boy System during Jim Crow, and even up to this day. Just look back at the Black church, the Masons, the fraternities, the sororities, the NAACP, and other groups and see how they broke down the doors of separatism.
Now with the Internet, we have the power of global social networking groups we can join such as Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Ning groups, Black Planet, and others. We are all stronger when we unite.
"I am because We are, and since We are, therefore, I am." ~ John Mbuti
Maxine Thompson is the author of Hostage of Lies, voted a Best Book of 2009
Listening to Writers in the Sky Podcast on a computer is
easy. Just click this link:
and go to my blog. On the right sidebar there is a list of
archived shows. Click on the interview you would like to
hear and it will open a post that has a link to open the
audio file. For information about being a guest on Writers
in the Sky Podcast, see
WITS owner Yvonne Perry interviews travel author Linda Ballou about writing her book,
Lost Angel Walkabout: One Traveler’s Tales.
Linda’s tales span years of traveling—sometimes alone, occasionally with her mother or life partner, and often with others in search of soft adventure. Brimming with action, intelligence, regional history, funny mishaps, or tight squeezes, each story is set against a backdrop of nature’s jaw-dropping beauty. Ballou aims to share her world view, and through her eco-alerts make the listener care more deeply about our vanishing resources and places of wild beauty.
Vonnie Faroqui interviews Garasamo Maccagnone about his published anthology
My Dog Tim and Other Stories.
A successful business man and one time politician, Maccagnone left politics to pursue his long time love of writing.
With several titles to his name Garasamo Maccagnone’s writing style for the My Dog Tim anthology is darkly humorous and geared for an adult audience.
The two will talk about the inspiration behind Maccagnone’s stories, his edgy writing style, the role of faith in his writing and how he develops
his characters as well as about difficulties he has faced promoting his most recent work.
Barbara Fifield makes a return to Writers in the Sky Podcast to discuss her two new books,
Passion’s Evidence and
Photographs and Memories with podcast host Sarah Moore.
In Passion’s Evidence, Fifield shares a collection of poetry that she has composed over the last twenty-five years, exploring topics such as family,
nature, and romantic relationships. Photographs and Memories is a novel that is based on experiences in Fifield’s own life, specifically concerning
the illness and death of both her parents and her spouse. Its themes will resonate with anyone who has dealt with the grieving process for a
family member or close friend. Barbara Fifield is a
veteran writer, having published her work widely in
newspapers and literary journals.
Davis Aujourd’hui returns to WITS Podcast and sits down with
host Sarah Moore. Davis was featured on our podcast last
year when he discussed the
release of his book,
The Misadventures of Sister Mary Olga Fortitude. He is back to talk about the next book in a series featuring Sister Mary,
Babes in Bucksnort. In this latest “misadventure,” the town of Bucksnort is all worked up over some visitors who come to town to dole out their
own sense of social justice and Sister Mary Olga Fortitude is right in the middle sharing her wisdom about tolerance and inclusion.
Mr. Aujourd’hui will be discussing how this new book extends on the themes of his first release and what we can expect next in the series.
Vonnie Faroqui interviews author Manuel Showalter about his book,
A Blueprint for Financial Success. Find out how Showalter worked his way from being a high school drop-out to attaining financial security and about his desire to help others as he shares his experiences concerning what it takes to be successful financially and a published author.
Author Platform: What Are You Waiting For?
by Joel Friedlander
A famous and often-repeated piece of advice to writers is: The time to start working on your author platform is three years before your book is published.
I've repeated this to several clients, and it usually leaves them staring blankly into space. And yet there is a great deal of wisdom in this statement, and a radical remaking of the work of an author.
Many writers have no interest in getting involved with selling their work, or doing promotion. This article isn't for them. That's because a lot of writers have realized that it's become their responsibility to market their books. Publishers are asking them to do it, authors are routinely submitting marketing plans along with their book proposals. I spoke to a book shepherd recently who told me they were hard at work on a 20-page marketing plan for an author-client.
And it doesn't really matter if you write fiction or nonfiction. The new reality is that you are in charge of finding, and cultivating, your own readership. Of course, if you are successful enough at it, you will acquire a big publisher complete with a marketing and advertising department to broadcast your efforts into a much larger space.
It's a Matter of Community
Where I live in northern California, I participate in several communities. There's the community of families at our son's school. There's the community in our neighborhood, where we plan street improvements and train for emergencies together. There's the community of self-publishers, independent publishers and soon-to-be-publishers of which I'm a member. In each case, within our geographic area, we form communities of interest. For writers, the internet and its various social media—taken broadly to mean any method for interacting with other people on an equal footing—are how we find our communities of interest.
Some of the tools we use are:
* Author blogs
* Writing forums
* Other people's blogs
* Facebook groups and pages
* LinkedIn discussion groups
* Twitter #discussions and lists
* Specialized social groups like Ning networks
A rational person understands that they cannot do all of these activities at once. What's needed is a plan or strategy because, faced with all the possibilities, the normal human reaction is to put it off, and do nothing. Unfortunately, this may not be the best solution.
The Time for Waiting is Over
In a recent blog post, Audience Development: Critical to Every Writer's Future, Jane Friedman of Writer's Digest said:
“Getting a book published does NOT equate to readership. You must cultivate a readership every day of your life, and you start TODAY. Your readers will not be interested in reading just one book; they will be interested in everything and anything you do—and that includes interacting with you online. Audience development doesn't happen overnight (or even in SIX months or a year) and it's a process that continues for as long as you want to have a readership. It shouldn't be delayed, postponed, or discounted for one minute.”
Taking one step, setting up a blog for instance, can start you on the road to finding the community whose common interest is you and your writing. Your audience is out there, but they don't know it yet. It's your job to find those readers who are just waiting for a writer like you to come along. They will like you a lot. Some will be insanely devoted. But you have to reach out.
Getting a domain name, signing up for a hosting account, and installing blogging software takes about ten minutes. And that's the hard way.
If we are really writers, if we are writers who want readers, the closing of the circle of our own creativity, then let's write, and find out who reads. That will be the beginning of our community, and it will grow from there. If we are going to be writers for a long time and I believe it's a chronic condition, why not start now?
Resources, Tools, Freebies are Everywhere
To get you started, here are a bunch of resources, links, free reports, strategies and information that can help get you going.
My suggestion: don't pay for any programs, tutorials, or anything else until you've gotten all you can from the free resources available.
There's a whole education out there just waiting for you.
Although I could go on and on, I think you get the point. The resources are vast. All they require is your participation, your intention to act now.
Writing and Community Building: The New Job Description
So, in this new world, writers who want to write and market their books will find their job is now two-fold: writing and building community around their writing. Find the social media that appeal to you, share your work, interact with your readers, reach out to the wider reading world in different formats, and start now building the community that will support and nurture you on your writing path.
Takeaway: Finding readers is a logical extension of the writing you've done, because you wrote for those readers. Social media allow us to build a community of interest in our work, and the time to start building is now.
Joel Friedlander is the proprietor of Marin Bookworks, a publishing services company in San Rafael, California that has launched many self-publishers. Joel is a book designer, a self-published author, and blogs about publishing, book design, and the indie publishing life at
Add your announcement or brag about your
writing accomplishment. Tell us about your book or business.
Share information and ideas or send articles or advertorial
for the next issue by contacting us on our Web site
www.writersinthesky.com/contact.php . Here are some
announcements from our readers this month:
Announcing Creative Writing Classes with author Roberta Allen
Multi-published author Roberta Allen has taught private workshops since 1991 and is offering creative writing classes designed to help writers overcome blocks, build confidence, feel safe taking risks, recognize what works and what doesn’t, and learn to trust their intuition.
These creative writing classes are conducted in a group setting to those who can meet in-person in the New York, NY area. For those outside New York, Roberta has a special introductory offer on one-on-one mentoring tele-classes by phone and email.
Roberta’s supportive, constructive critiques give specific suggestions for improvement as she teaches students to recognize their individual writing process and what can be done to improve it. Learn how to write micro fiction, micro memoirs, short stories, memoirs, novels, experimental forms. Instruction on point of view, structure, voice, style, language, character, conflict, plot, theme, dialogue, and rhythm.
Ms. Allen has been on the faculty of The New School for 18 years and has taught in the writing program at Columbia University. Check out the classes or sign up at
The Dream Quest One Poetry & Writing Contest is open to anyone who loves arranging words into the beautiful art of poetry or writing a story that is worth telling everyone! And to all who have the ability to dream... Write a poem, 30 lines or fewer on any subject or write a short story, 5 pages maximum on any theme for a chance to win up to $500.00 in cash prizes. All works must be original.
Poetry Prizes: $250, $125, $50.
Writing Prizes: $500, $250, $100.
Entry fees: $5 per poem, $10 per story.
More info: http://www.dreamquestone.com
Janet Riehl is both on the cover and between the covers of the anthology, The Spirit of a Woman: Stories to Empower & Inspire. Janet
also wrote a foreword for Margaret Norton's just-published book, When Ties Break: A Memoir about How to Thrive After Loss.
2010 Summer Writing Retreat
July 26-30, 2010
Sul Ross State University
Ever want to get away from it all and spend a week immersed in writing? Here's your chance with the 2010 Summer Writing Retreat at Sul Ross State University in scenic Alpine, deep in the heart of West Texas.
There’s something about the stunning landscape of mountainous West Texas—not to mention the refreshing afternoon showers and cool summer evenings—that inspire writers to simply write.
Intensive writing workshops will be taught by five of Texas’ premier authors. Whichever class you select, it will feature:
• Intimate classes (20 students maximum)
• Personalized instruction
• Time dedicated for writing
Close the week at the 2010 Way Out West Texas Book Festival in Alpine July 29–31. The Summer Writing Retreat instructors will join other authors for readings and book signings and a whole lot of literary fun.
Tuition is $299 for WLT members / $359 nonmembers plus room and board. To register online with credit card, PayPal or Google checkout, visit the
Summer Writing Retreat registration page.
Expert Corporate Writing
Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services now offers a way for businesses
to outsource their corporate writing. Contact
Martin Smith for
resumes, portfolios, press kits, executive summaries, and other white papers and
Write Press Newsletter, launched in December 2009, is a wonderful and exciting way for non-fiction authors to introduce their book to an entire community of online and offline readers. This newsletter, available in print form only, is designed to provide authors with an opportunity to share insightful information about the creation and inspiration of their book. The first issue of Write Press News, delivered direct to the front door of readers and distributed all of our live events, has been well received and the books we recommend are selling!
The upcoming issue of Write Press News will feature authors such as Joel Comm, Sarah Young and a personal interview with John Porter, Sr. The Write Press Newsletter is a valuable resource for readers and authors alike. Readers can subscribe and authors can learn more about how they can have their book featured in Write Press News by visiting our website at
Barbara Techel, proud mom of Frankie the Walk ‘N Roll Dog, as well as bestselling author of
Frankie the Walk ‘N Roll Dog book series is thrilled to announce that Frankie’s story will appear in the July 12th issue of one of the top-selling woman’s magazine, Woman’s World. For more information about Barbara and Frankie visit
Barbara’s passion is bringing a positive face and voice to all animals with disabilities! Invite Frankie to visit your classroom, library or book club via Skype an Author
Job Hunting in Nashville?
If you've been sending out resumes and haven't gotten the response from employers you've been hoping for, then maybe it's time to put your best face forward. Stand out in a crowded and competitive job market with an HD Video Resume. To learn more about how you could be just one minute away from your dream job. Go to
www.snapshotinteractive.com and check out our Video Resumes page. It's also a great resource from employers looking for the perfect person to fill an opening.
Nancy Kelly Allen's latest picture book, Trouble in Troublesome Creek [Red Rock Press, 2010], has been selected as the book to represent Kentucky at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC in September. One children's book from each state is selected for this event.
The San Francisco Book Festival awarded Janet Riehl's audio book, Sightlines: A Family Love Story in Poetry & Music
Want to learn how to get your book on the shelves at libraries? See
The Savvy Book
Marketer's Guide to Selling Your Book to Libraries.
Get a FREE 30-day trial
of Allison Maslan’s life coaching software for personal development and goal setting
Need help with using Twitter? Check out Dana Lynn Smith's
Twitter Guide for Authors.
Writers! Would you like to know how your manuscript reads (and not by a family member or best friend) before you consider it "final"?
Visit http://ow.ly/22oYK to see if this objective feedback reader
service fits your needs. You can also contact Joyce Shafer at email@example.com.
Need a Personal Writing Instructor?
is available for one-on-one or group sessions by phone,
email, and online conferences.
Your announcement could be here. Check out the
and send us your blurb.
The Savvy Book Marketer Column
Your Book Marketing Plan – How Much Should You Budget to Promote Your Book? by Dana Lynn Smith
While it's possible to promote your book on a shoestring budget, especially if you focus on online book marketing, you will still need a marketing budget.
The amount you should budget depends on your book marketing plan.
http://www.createyourbookmarketingplan.com Here are some expense categories to consider and some money-saving tips:
Blog/Web site: Web site design and hosting fees. If you build your website on a blogging platform like WordPress or TypePad, you'll minimize the costs for online book marketing. See this page for
blogging resources for authors.
Graphics: Design of web site header and graphics, design of printed materials, purchase of stock images for blog/web site, and a photo shoot for your author photo.
Printing: Business cards, bookmarks, postcards, flyers, and posters for personal appearances. In addition to local printers, check prices for online printers such as Printing for Less.
Copywriting and Editing: You may want to hire a professional copywriter to help you write effective sales copy for your sales flyer, website and other online book marketing materials. It's also a good idea to have an editor or proofreader review your website and other marketing materials.
Email Marketing: You will pay a monthly or per mailing fee to the company that manages your opt-in mailing list. Some services, like Mail Chimp, waive their fees until your list gets to a certain size.
Review Copies: Printing, packaging and postage for review copies sent through the mail.
Publicity: There are a number of free online press release services, such as PRLog and Free Press Release. To get wider distribution for your most important releases, you will need to use a paid service like PRWeb.
Learning: Lots of blogs and newsletters offer helpful book marketing information. But don't forget to budget funds for books, teleclasses and other opportunities to get a more in-depth education about publishing and book marketing, and for dues to writing and publishing organizations. You'll be more effective at promoting your book if you know how to do it properly.
Professional Services: You may need help in implementing your book marketing plan, especially if you have a day job. There are a number of virtual assistants who specialize in working with authors. You may also want to invest in consulting services from a book marketing coach to help you develop your book marketing strategy.
Other Expenses: Additional expenses may include travel, book fairs, book award entry fees, advertising, and administrative expenses such as postage.
The best way to develop a budget is to assign a projected cost to each element in your book marketing plan. Then you can break down your expenses by month, to arrive at a monthly budget.
Dana Lynn Smith is a book marketing coach and author of
The Savvy Book Marketer's Guide to Successful Social Marketing.
and several other book promotion guides. For book promotion tips, visit
The Savvy Book Marketer blog. Get a copy of the
Top Book Marketing Tips e-book when you register for her
free book marketing newsletter. For more book marketing tips, follow Dana on
Twitter or visit
Memoirs from the Asylum
Author: Kenneth Weene
Publisher: All Things that Matter Press, 2010
Reviewed by Vonnie Faroqui for WITS
Memoirs from the Asylum author Kenneth Weene has, with many twists and phobic turns, succeeded in writing a moving and fascinating exploration of the inner workings of the insane mind. Memoirs is set within the confines of a mental health institution and weaves its way through the lives and memories of the asylum’s patients, narrated from the internal perspective of two patients and their psychiatrist. The vision of life depicted within and around these 3 main characters makes a case for a larger societal madness as the author explores the bureaucracy surrounding and encapsulating the insane and their caregivers. As uncomfortable as some aspects of the book may be, these same passages hold illuminating power.
Well crafted, Memoirs from the Asylum has a developed plot line and believable story progression. The best aspect of the book is how the author has written from the perspective or inner thoughts of the characters. This is done with such realism, understanding and truth that it is easy to relate with the patient’s fears, frustrations, joys and triumphs. It is obvious that the author is writing from a deeper understanding of human motivation and psychosis. His treatment of his characters is compassionate and without judgment allowing the reader to formulate their own opinions and confront their own preconceptions and prejudices. Unlike so many other novels these days, Weene’s writing is not preachy or deliberately educational in tone, with well developed characters and originality that make for compelling reading.
At times the book is disturbing as it addresses and reveals many destructive societal attitudes and inhumanities. The author has skillfully lifted the veil of willful disinterest surrounding the mentally ill and shone a spot light on the role played by the greater culture in perpetuating and growing madness.
Full of memorable characters that are as tragic as they are comedic, this book proves itself in the great tradition of writing. Disturbingly honest and often graphic in nature
Memoirs from the Asylum is an entertaining and enlightening read for adults.
How Did She Get There?
Author: Ann Dowd
Publisher: White Ink Press 2010
Reviewed by Vonnie Faroqui for WITS
How Did She Get There? is what I almost want to call a modern day cautionary tale. The heroine however does not turn anyone into a golden statue out of greed;
or laze all day in the sun, thinking the world owes her a living while others labor. She is as human and self absorbed as we come, with all the classic confused notions
found in a folk tale character. The author, Ann Karen Dowd, has certainly written a story that leads her heroine and the reader through a maze of challenges; attitudes
to be overcome, confused perceptions about right and wrong, pitfalls of human nature, even exploring the motivational fears and desires which often hide beneath well-
The story’s thread takes its heroine, poet Caro Barrone, to the very edge of reason, when she becomes obsessed with Livia, a thirteen-year old poet prodigy.
How Did She Get There? looks at Caro’s inner turmoil as she struggles to rediscover a sense of identity and deal with the decaying pieces of her changing life; motherhood, the empty nest, fears of growing old, expectations, abandonment, and misdirected desires. She is not the typical heroine and this is not the typical feel-good tale. Instead the author has dug deeply into the places we fear to look, excavating aspects of a woman’s inner experience in ways and situations that are far too near our hearts for comfort. Ann does this with such compassion and understanding that she manages to guide us to the far side of the hedges healthier than we were before entering the labyrinth.
This is a deeply provocative read that will challenge as well as please the reader on many levels. The book offers a well-developed story line and believable characters that feel like people you know and care about. The poetry is exquisite. Ann has, with skill and grace, allowed the reader to travel the winding path of one woman’s second coming of age from beginning to end and turned Caro’s story into one of triumph.
Lost Angel Walkabout—One Traveler’s Tales
Author: Linda Ballou
Publisher: Winddancer, 2010
Reviewed by Yvonne Perry for WITS
With each story I read in Linda Ballou’s book,
Lost Angel Walkabout, I thought, “This is the best story in the book.” Then, I would turn the page and find that the next adventure was even more interesting.
I love the way the author weaves accurate and little-known native history into each story. This information isn’t what your typical tour guide might spout from a memorized script. This book and its information comes from roughing it in the wilderness in some remote sites where most of us would not go with a group much less alone, which is Linda’s favorite way to travel. The aloneness is
rejuvenating for her as she listens to nature and the spirits that dwell in each mesmerizing place speak to her.
As for aloneness, Linda says, “Much is said of the virtues of connecting with local cultures, but in aloneness you can connect with the forces that shaped them.” Profound wisdom!
Not all of the trips were taken alone, however. I was especially touched by the story titled “Water Dogs” because of the tender way Linda showed grace and understanding to her 75-year-old mother who was along on a snorkeling trip. Linda was so creative in bringing the fish to her mom since Mom couldn’t dive under and hold her breath long enough to see them near the cave entrance below the water. But this story is also a favorite because of the humorous way Ballou depicts the cast of characters.
In fact, her sense of humor in telling the story not only made me feel like I was on location with her, it gave me a sense of her lively personality.
What I didn’t expect, but found pleasantly refreshing was the spiritual aspect Linda brought into each tale. Her trips are inspired by her spirit guides, of whom she says, “Guides are simply that—guides. They try to direct you on an ever-changing path to soul-stirring moments, but the responsibility for the journey is ultimately yours.”
So, I guess that’s why Linda doesn’t blame her guides for forgetting to take her silk underwear with her on the trip to Dorothy Lake. She nearly froze to death when the zipper of her sleeping bag broke and exposed her backside to the elements. What’s an adventure without risk, right? And a little aroma from being wrapped in damp horse blankets to survive that night.
Tim Cahill’s interview was a very special treat and served as an interlude to gear the reader up for more action and adventure. Having taken the time to chat with one of her favorite travel writers shows that this author had credibility in both the writing and traveling world.
Another thing that makes this book intriguing and sets it apart from other travel/adventure books is the eco alert at the end of many chapters. It’s sad to know that many of the places Linda recounts in her stories are no longer the quaint, rural, peaceful spiritual nests they were at the time of her visit. They have been ruined by greedy deforestation, over-fishing, and toxic waste. This was an unexpected call to action in our effort to care for the beauty of our Mother Earth.
Throughout the book, the author’s storytelling style is a great blend of travel journalism and real life experiences and spiritual insight that entertain and inform.
Highly recommended reading.
Kids Who See Ghosts, Guide Them Through Their Fear
Dr. Caron Goode
Weiser Books, 2010
Reviewed by Yvonne Perry
Kids Who See Ghosts is a very enlightening read. I learned a lot—not only about kids who see ghosts, but about how and why it is possible to see spirits in another dimension. The electromagnetic spectrum of wavelengths of radiation is huge, but the narrow band (between 380 and 760 nanometers) that we call light and that most humans can see is a very small fraction of what actually exists. Typically, what we humans can’t see with our naked eye or what our brains can’t understand is thought to be nonexistent, but other species can see these wavelengths. For example, a rattlesnake can see the whole infrared spectrum and ultraviolet ranges. A microscope reveals a world within our world. A telescope shows us things in space that 100 years ago we would never thought existed. You can’t see radio waves, gamma rays, X-rays, or microwaves, but they are very real. Just because you can’t see something, does not mean it doesn’t exist. It is possible that the eyes of a child have the ability to see in more ranges and spectrums than an adult.
The fact that children see things adults don’t is also explained by brain development and whether or not the culture in which the child lives accepts seeing spirit walkers as the norm. Children have not been conditioned like adults have and therefore do not know that they are not “supposed” to see spirit walkers.
Through reading this book I also learned that many things can trigger a ghostly experience by activating the temporal lobe, the part of the brain associated with psychic activity. When in a meditative, altered, or dissociated state of awareness, it is possible to see into these “hidden” spectrums even if only momentarily. Any person under stress or trauma can phase in and out of the brain states that are open to seeing apparitions. Younger children’s brain waves tend to linger in the dreamy states. Psychiatrist Carl Jung believed that ghosts and hauntings were universal occurrences. I believe that as society begins to accept paranormal experiences as scientifically and physically possible and more people are free to talk about their psychic vision, these gifts will be used in a positive and productive manner.
Caron affirms that children (and adults) who see ghosts are not crazy. Children should be allowed to talk about seeing spirit walkers without fear of being judged or reprimanded. Therefore, traditional parenting and teaching styles do not work with intuitive kids who see ghosts. Regardless of whether they believe in ghosts, parents of these psychic kids can learn to integrate spirit communication as a matter-of-fact part of life. When a child speaks about seeing a ghost, casually remind the child that he or she can set boundaries and is in control. Since the intention of some ghosts is not the best or of the light, it is wise for a parent to be discerning about whether to allow a ghost to remain. Kids can exert their power over spirits in much the same way they would if a bully was bothering them. It is fine to tell a spirit to “Go to the light” or “Leave me alone.” Teach the child to call upon his or her guardian angels for protection.
My next paragraph is excerpted from the book because I feel it is important for readers to know that
they nor their children are not at the mercy of intruding ghosts. Children can defend themselves spiritually.
“Any child can insist on and demand to experience only that which is for his or her highest good and the highest good of all concerned. And learning how to tell the difference in the voices is very easy to do. Learning those differences puts you on the high road to work with, study from, and expose yourself to only those beings, voices, and energies that are truly for your highest good. You don’t have to put up with the other stuff.”
In Section 6, Dr. Goode gives useful tips for parents with various thinking styles to help children according to their individual temperaments cope with fear and incorporate an empowered approach to life—not just for managing their fear of ghosts, but for dealing with anything they may be afraid of. This chapter is worth the read even if your child doesn’t report seeing ghosts. Healthy interaction with the invisible worlds can give us the information, support, and caring we need to become healthy human beings.
The only thing I did not like about the book was the section in which Joe Nickell suggested telling children that ghosts do not exist except in our minds. This entire chapter seems to contradict and undo the comfort and encouragement provided by the other experts in the book.
As the author states, it’s much easier to give a child a pill than to educate yourself and adopt a new parenting method. It takes courage to teach or raise intuitive children. I’m thankful for Dr. Goode’s book because it gives parents the information they need to feel more confident in helping a child overcome fear and put any event into perspective. I think it is about time we begin to let go of our preconceived ideas about what is “normal” and begin to use the wisdom and principles in this book to help guide kids who see ghosts through their fear. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about this topic—especially those who work with children in any capacity.
Fade from Blue
Author: P. J. Thomas
Publisher: Publish America
Genre and Target Market: fiction; thriller; crime
Publication Date: 2007
Book Length in Pages: 210
Reviewer: Sarah Moore for
In my professional work as part of the publishing world, I usually have one encounter with an author’s work. While most books that I am asked to read are good and are obviously created with the genuine passion of the author, they quickly became another addition to my bookshelf and I move onto the next novel. In some instances, however, I am given the opportunity to really examine the breadth of an author’s work through multiple publications. In the case of P. J. Thomas, the pleasure I have had to read three of his novels have served to increase my respect for his work and make me a bigger fan of the stories he creates. Each book that Thomas writes offers unique characters, formatting, and even writing styles, as every work shares a story different from the others. One aspect of Thomas’ work that does not change, however, is the quality of the writing. His latest novel,
Fade from Blue, is a powerful thriller that will grip readers from beginning to end.
Fade from Blue tells the story of Frankie Rizzo, a police officer who must ask for help from some unsavory connections after he is accused in the murders of his wife and her lover. Frankie spends decades living under a false identity and building an entirely new life for himself in Mexico. In all of those years, however, he never stops thinking about the infant son he left behind. Frankie is eventually reunited with his now-grown child through a series of amazing circumstances and the climax which then unfolds is one not to be missed.
As he has so wonderfully done in his other novels, Thomas crafts a set of characters that are believable and honest in their portrayals. Whether the readers are following a high-ranking member of the mob, a corrupt police officer, a wisecracking older woman, or a scared girl with a history of abuse, they will find dialogue and emotion that fits perfectly and comes together to form a captivating storyline. I was particularly drawn to the women in Fade from Blue, each of whom showed both amazing strength and vulnerability. There were no one-dimensional stereotypes of women in the book, which I appreciated and which allowed me to become even more invested in the book’s outcome.
Thomas manages to avoid the predictable “gotcha” moments that are always found in lesser thrillers. He does not need to shock his readers with a ridiculous plot twist in order to grab your attention. (Don’t get me wrong . . . effectively executed plot twists are breathtaking, but I find that they are often forced into a book in an awkward or forced way.) Instead, Thomas slowly develops in
Fade from Blue a tightly constructed novel that unfolds naturally. There are surprises, to be sure, but they are presented in a way that shocks but also integrates into the other events of the novel seamlessly.
If you are looking for a quality novel that will keep you turning pages but yet not wanting to reach the back cover, I strongly recommend
Fade from Blue. And, once you become a fan of P. J. Thomas, I hope you will seek out his previous books and enjoy all that this author has offered to the literary world. I believe that, like me, you will enjoy the opportunity to explore Thomas’ work thoroughly and await the time you can hold the next work and begin what is certain to be another great reading experience.
My Dog Tim and Other Stories
Author: Garasamo Maccagnone
Publisher: Outskirts Press, Inc. (2010)
Reviewer: Vonnie Faroqui for WITS
In spite of its seemingly innocuous title,
My Dog Tim and Other Stories is a raw, gritty, poignantly honest, and often humorous collection of short stories that will appeal to an adult audience. Author Garasamo Maccagnone wastes no time in immediately engaging his audience with the longest story in the collection, “St. John of the Midfield.” The author continues, with each narrative taking the reader on a rollercoaster ride touching a variety of themes including: sports, family, relationships, crime, race, religion, faith, and the beloved childhood pet. As a storyteller, Garasamo’s writing talent exhibits a wide range and depth of perspective.
“Goalie Boy” is my favorite story among the nine. The image of an overzealous, underachieving parent, attempting to live life through their child, as seen from the kid’s perspective, makes for a very interesting read. Perhaps everyone will be able to identify with his sexual awkwardness as Goalie Boy comes of age, a comic highpoint. This story ends with an unexpected and disturbing turn as the reader lives through an entire childhood, experiencing both triumph and despair.
The tale of “White Fang” will remind readers of their childhood experiences, when revenge and vendettas among siblings were a source of limitless fun and often painful consequences that become priceless memories.
Regardless of one’s religion, “The Note Giver” illustrates that common figures, personalities, and failings can be found in any belief system. When confronted with uninvited truths, reactions are universal in nature.
From first to last, Garasamo Maccagnone demonstrates a flexibility of wit and realism that makes My Dog Tim and Other Stories a refreshing and captivating read. When one story ends, he leaves you eager for the next.
by Jill Shure
As a published author, I am no stranger to the many ups and downs of the career I am blessed (and sometimes cursed!) to have. When I begin to write, I have a pretty good idea of what’s ahead of me, both good and bad. As someone who has been through thick and thin, I would like to share with you my own thoughts on facing the tough stuff of being a writer. Disappointment, frustration, rejection–we all experience it. My hope is that my perspective will inspire you to keep writing, keep publishing, and keep fighting for your creative passion.
I am one of those strange people who enjoys surrounding herself with murderers, thieves, and the sexually permissive. I enjoy knives, guns, men who misuse women, and women who thrive on the worst guys in the universe. In short, I'm a writer. You'll find me sitting alone in coffee shops muttering dialogue to myself. Or chewing on a bite of sandwich while furiously typing on my computer, indifferent to the diners around me. And it's all worth it... most of the time.
Because there are other aspects to writing. The ever-broadening ass from too many hours of murder, lust, and heartache. And there is, alas, disappointment. Because no matter who you are as a writer, no matter how rich or famous, you still have to smile in the face of criticism. Because everyone's a critic with an impression of your book.
And a book today, well, a book today isn't what a book used to be. In the past, no one would dare go to the beach without at least one paperback. In a doctor's waiting room, at the airport, on a plane, a subway or a bus, the public delved into the wonderful world of books. To this day, I never travel without one. Not to Las Vegas, Hawaii or London. Electronic or paper, I'm a devoted reader as well as a writer.
But times have changed. Ask your hairdresser who won on American Idol, and she has the answer. Ask her about the latest book by her bed, and she may give you a vague look. Today, many Americans are texting, on the phone, staring into space, or passively watching TV.
So I entangle myself with the worst of humanity for my own pleasure. And I hope there are enough readers attracted to the cover of my book to take the plunge and start reading. And maybe they will be inspired to keep reading. And when they've finished my book, perhaps they'll go on to read another. And as both a writer and a reader, that is the hope I keep alive.
Jill Shure is the Benjamin Franklin Award-winning author of Night Jazz, Night Glitter, Night Caps, and the upcoming
A Clause for Murder. Learn more about Jill Shure and her books at
Go Get the Pliers
Is that blasted thing broken again?
It seems we just fixed it a short time ago.
Go get the pliers, the hammer and wrench.
Oh heck! Just bring the whole toolbox this time.
We’ll see what we missed on the last repair.
Tweak it and tune it up just like a pro.
Clean it and glean it 'til it shines like gold
With nary a hint or a speckle of grime.
Worst case scenario, we fall short,
Our futile efforts fail to convert.
Then we need look for an alternate means
For achieving the goal to which we aspire.
But you and I are a crafty lot,
Not afraid to go diving in dirt.
Fearless, undaunted we rake through the muck,
Knowing the prize that can rise from the mire.
We never know the tools we possess
Til challenge steps up and we call him a liar.
Web site: http://www.iwritesome.com
Lulu storefront: http://www.lulu.com/dsmartin
Ballad of Big Man
Big ole boy I used to love; he died.
His Mama called to tell me; we cried.
The last time I saw him was on TV
And he was as big as big could be.
He was on one of those strong man shows.
What made him do it, no one knows.
He was benching stacks of the iron bars.
The crowd was screaming; he was the star.
He was pressing a ton of weight.
The crowd was hungry; he was the bait.
They say he was taking lots of that shit.
The stuff the boys take to make them get big.
The stuff the girls take to make them run fast.
And they don’t care that the glory won’t last.
So they do what they do, find their place in the sun.
And their names are in lights, when the sun is done.
So they do what they do, and then they are gone.
And they leave us to mourn, and to try to move on.
Big ole boy I used to love; he died.
His mama called to tell me; we cried.
We cried for his beauty; we cried for his youth.
We cried for his searches for meaning and truth.
And the longer we live, the more we know.
It was never the arrival; it was always just the road.
Jan Bossing © 2010
My Online Best Friend
Today I found a friend,
Who knew everything I felt.
He knew my every weakness,
And the problems I've been dealt.
He understood my visions,
And listened to my dreams.
He listened to how I felt about life and love,
And knew what it all means.
Not once did He try to change me,
Or tell me I was wrong.
He understood what I was going through,
And promised he’d stay long
I reached out to this friend,
To show him that I care
To pull him close and let him know
How much I need him there
And now I realized that this perfect friend I found
was nothing but my mirror.
Jackie Paulson is a paralegal with a degree from Kaplan University in Chicago. Her 20 years in the hair care industry as a barber, manager, and entrepreneur taught her the importance of customer service.
Possessing an underlying intuitive, psychological and spiritual approach to life and relationships, Jackie helps clients manage their time, energy, money and environment.
by Paul Barnett
A pile of discarded dreams lies on the side of a sidewalk
Next to a busy street
An old birdhouse stands, worn and empty
Testimony to a former life from a time
When music swung and pictures were hung, dusted on the wall
The spark which had shown brightly
So many years ago
Faded ever so slightly as the leaves of time
Fell quietly, unnoticed
The bird having long since
It’s the Life
It's not the tear, it's the howl
It's not the pain, it's the wound
It's not the destiny, it's the road
What is first decreed and evident?
What wraps you first in its belt?
What stirs more and what is felt?
The sky is clear
Its strip untouched
The clouds are not the barrier…
...even their haze is long wrenched!
The rays are still beaming
Isn’t their task much bound?
Eyes are witness, captured is the soul
Intent is inclined, trust is the core
Clogged is not my Merry
Death is not for my love
It's not the color, it's the fauna
It's not the return, it's the life!
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