Posted in Giveaway, nonfiction, teaser, Travel on June 15, 2017

THE SWIMMING HOLES OF TEXAS

by

Julie Wernersbach & Carolyn Tracy

  Genre: Travel / Outdoors / Swimming

Publisher: The University of Texas Press

Date of Publication: May 16, 2017

Number of Pages: 240, 100 color photos

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Nothing beats a natural swimming hole for cooling off on a scorching summer day in Texas. Cold, clear spring water, big old shade trees, and a quiet stretch of beach or lawn offer the perfect excuse to pack a cooler and head out with family and friends to the nearest natural oasis. Whether you’re looking for a quick getaway or an unforgettable summer vacation, let The Swimming Holes of Texas be your guide.

Julie Wernersbach and Carolyn Tracy highlight one hundred natural swimming spots across the entire state. The book is organized by geographic regions, so you can quickly find local places to swim—or plan a trip to a more distant spot you’d like to explore. Each swimming hole is illustrated with an inviting color photo and a description of what it’s like to swim there, as well as the site’s history, ecology, and conservation. The authors include all the pertinent info about admission fees and hours, parking, and on-site amenities such as showers and restrooms. They also offer tips for planning your trips and lists of the swimming holes that are most welcoming to families and pets.

So when the temperature tops 100 and there’s nothing but traffic in sight, take a detour down the backroads and swim, sunbathe, revel, and relax in the swimming holes of Texas.

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Hamilton Pool, Dripping Springs 

Come and Take It, Gonzales

Julie Wernersbach, Austin, is the literary director of the Texas Book Festival and a former marketing director at BookPeople, Austin’s largest independent bookstore. Carolyn Tracy, Austin, is a freelance photographer who works for an animal welfare nonprofit. They are the authors of Vegan Survival Guide to Austin.

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Posted in excerpt, memoir, nonfiction, Spotlight on June 14, 2017

Synopsis

At 46 years old, Mark Moore was in the prime of his life. He was a successful businessman, loving husband, involved father, and dedicated amateur athlete. His life was turned upside down after being hit in quick succession with two strokes that should have taken his life. After spending a month in a coma, Mark awoke to find his life forever changed, wondering if he’d ever be able to walk or speak again.

Mark’s inspiring new memoir, A Stroke of Faith: A Stroke Survivor’s Story of a Second Chance at Living a Life of Significance, follows his incredible journey from successful businessman to unexpected stroke victim and survivor. Now having made an almost-full recovery 10 years later, Mark has dedicated himself to his family, faith, extensive philanthropy within his community, and educating others about stroke awareness, prevention, and recovery.

Though his life will never return to his pre-stroke normality, through this crisis, he has gained a deeper understanding of the centrality of God’s role in his life and in all of our lives. A Stroke of Faith tells the story of moving from acceptance to surrender and from hope to faith and reveals God’s work in Mark’s life as He transformed him from thinking he had everything under control to knowing God has had control all along.

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * IndieBound * ChristianBook.com

Excerpt

Introduction

“Beyond My Control!”

WE ALL HAVE gifts of one kind or another, natural abilities that seem to flow out of the very core of who we are. For some, it’s music. They can look at a sheet of crotchet and quaver notations and hear the melody in their head as if a full symphony orchestra were playing right in front of them. Others have a knack for languages. A few lessons, and they sound like a native speaker.

I was always a numbers man. Math may not be as glamorous as melodies and words, but I never saw just a bunch of figures on a page. For me, they turned into a score or a story I could follow. A company spreadsheet could be like an x-ray, revealing all the inner problems of an ailing business. Or it might become a road map, pointing the way to prosperity. I could read columns of debits and credits like a book.

As with any innate ability, that aptitude could only take me so far. Raw sugar cane has to go through a process to release the sweetness. With application and determination, I was able to harness my gift for math in ways that transformed my life. It took me from a tough New York City borough to the leafy suburbs of Washington, DC. From a two-bedroom house into which ten of us were squeezed to a ten-thousand-square foot property with a pool.

During that climb up the ladder of success, I had raised two billion dollars in capital as I rode the financial wave of twenty-first century new technology. Overcoming some prejudice along the way, as one of a minority of successful African American entrepreneurs, I’d established a reputation as a fair but firm businessman.

Proud to be a self-made man who had a different, tailor-made suit to wear for every day of the month—a far cry from the hand-me-down wardrobe of my childhood―I had written more checks than I could remember, the largest single one for two-and-a-half million dollars.

And now I stared helplessly at the blank check that Lisa had placed in front of me. I could read the words: Pay to the Bearer, and all that. I could see the lines and the blank box where I was supposed to write the payee’s name and the amount.

But I didn’t know how to do it. Something was missing between what I knew in my brain and the pen I held in my right hand. It was like one of the bulbs had shorted out midway in a string of Christmas lights, breaking the connection and extinguishing them all. The chain was interrupted. I should have known without even thinking what needed to be done, but somehow I just could not bring to mind the steps necessary for completing the simple actions I had performed so many times previously. I froze, mentally paralyzed.

Here I was, the successful numbers man, and I could not even put two and two together.

I felt crushed, helpless. The head-down determination that had brought so many rewards was somewhere out of reach. No matter how much I gritted my teeth and concentrated, I just could not will myself to do something as basic as write a check.

To make matters worse, I could not even spring up and pace about in frustration. A lifelong athlete, I still pushed myself as hard on the basketball court in my two-hour weekly games as I did in my twelve-hour days at the office. A non-smoking non-drinker, I was in excellent shape for a man in his

mid-forties.

But now I could only sit in my wheelchair as I contemplated the chasm between what my life had been and what it was now—and might be for as long as I was alive.

That I was even breathing was something of a miracle itself. A month or so earlier I had been within minutes of dying, my life saved only by emergency surgery that opened up my skull and left me in a medically induced coma. I had, of course, been grateful to open my eyes again and see my beloved wife, Brenda, and our two children. But facing the rest of my life as a shadow of who I had been weighed heavily now.

Overwhelmed by not being able to manage such a rudimentary action, one I had performed so many times previously, I sighed.

“This is crazy,” I said. “Something so simple I’ve done it a million times, and yet it’s beyond my control!”

Sensing my discouragement, Lisa smiled brightly at me as we sat in her speech therapist’s office at Mount Vernon Hospital in Alexandria, Virginia. Dark curly-haired and petite, dressed in hospital scrubs and sneakers, she managed to sound professional and personable at the same time.

“The brain is really quite remarkable in the way it can recover from a traumatic injury like the one you have suffered, Mark,” she told me. “You are going to get better. Most of the progress in recovery usually occurs in the first year or two. And we are going to do all that we can to help.”

Though the gap between my former life and my present circumstances seemed vast, miles wide, I had been brought to its edge by something quite small: a ruptured blood vessel deep in my brain. Two strokes had pulled the curtain down firmly on the first act of my life. How the rest of my story would unfold was unclear and, for the first time I could remember, seemed beyond my control.

About the Author

Mark Moore is a philanthropist and successful businessman. Along with his wife Brenda, a former nurse, Mark has established the Mark and Brenda Moore and Family Foundation, through which he supports advances in healthcare, education, culture and the arts, and Christian evangelism. Prior to engaging full time in his philanthropic work, Mark was Chief Operating Officer and co-owner of Segovia, Inc., a leading provider of global internet protocol services to the US Defense Department. Mark is also the Mid-Atlantic Ambassador for the American Stroke Association and the author of the memoir A Stroke of Faith, which is now on sale. More about Mark and A Stroke of Faith can be found at and on Facebook and Twitter .

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Posted in Giveaway, Interview, nonfiction on June 7, 2017

THE REBIRTH OF HOPE

My Journey from Vietnam War Child to American Citizen

by

Sau Le Hudecek

  Genre: Memoir / Inspirational

Publisher: Texas Christian University Press

Date of Publication: June 15, 2017

Number of Pages: 160

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Born in a demilitarized zone during the Vietnam War to a Vietnamese mother and American soldier, Sau Le arrived in the United States as a young woman with only twenty dollars in her pocket. Though bullied and abused since childhood, she nevertheless came to her new homeland armed with courage and determined to build a decent life for herself, her infant son, and her traumatized mother. This is the story of how she overcame every conceivable hurdle—significant culture shock, a daunting language barrier, serious illness, heartbreak, and betrayal—to become a landlord, a successful business owner, a joyous wife and mom, and a woman blessed with generous, loyal friends. She describes an arduous journey, both physical and emotional, from a place of terror and utter despair to a life overflowing with love and prosperity. Ultimately, this is a story of hope, something Sau Le thought she’d lost long ago in the minefields of Vietnam. Her goal is both to uplift and to remind everyone born on American soil that anything in this land is possible for those willing to put dedication, faith, and passion to work.

TCU Press * IndieBound * Barnes & Noble * Amazon

Praise for The Rebirth of Hope:

“Sau Le has an innate abundance of beauty, wisdom, loyalty and dignity which led her to overcome unbelievable challenges and fully realize her dream in America. Thus proving once again that adversity builds character. I couldn’t put it down.” —Dan Jenkins, bestselling author of Semi-Tough

“Sau Le lifted her head and walked through years of hard work and determination, inspiring other women along the way! Every word of her personal journey was written to remind all of us!” —Robin Sanders, Sanders Travel Agency

“An inspiring story of a Vietnam refugee’s journey to achieve the ‘American Dream.’ This book is a lesson for everyone.”  —Martin C. Bowen, financial executive

“To have written this remarkable story is one more example of the focus and tenacity that Sau Le Hudecek has shown in achieving her previous goals. You will remember this gripping tale of resilience and courage.”  —Gail Williamson Rawl

“A truly inspirational story of a fearless person who overcame unbelievable odds to make a better life and obtain the ‘American dream.’”  —Janie Beggs

You mention throughout the book feeling flickers of hope. Can you tell us about a specific time or event that you remember feeling this most strongly?

The first time I remember having a sense of hope after my sister died was my experience in the running rain (flash flood) when I knew at least God loved me enough to save me from being swept away in the flood.

Another time was when my mom’s friend said that my father came back to look for us. Whether this was true or she was just trying to make me feel better it did help.

I also had a strong sense of hope when I earned my beautician’s license here in America. My hard work and sacrifice paid off, and I knew that I could make a better life for my family and that anything was possible.

In the book, you say you wanted a job that made you feel valuable and connected to something important. How does that translate to working in a salon?

Because I was different from everyone else in my village in several ways, growing up, people tried to make me feel defeated by calling me a freak and always trying to make me feel “less than.” I still remember that hollow feeling, thinking that I was a freak just as many people were telling me. I knew how you look can have an impact on how you feel about yourself. Although while in Vietnam I didn’t know that that there was much I could do to help myself. I felt that if I could at least help others feel beautiful about themselves that I would feel I was worth something.

Once in America, listening to my clients talk, I found that everyone feels self-conscious or unhappy with something about themselves. Remembering my hollow feeling makes it natural for me to empathize with my clients, and if I can help them get past this negative feeling and allow them to feel better about themselves, I believe that it will make their lives better and that this positive energy will naturally be passed onto others as well.

Each time I see someone light up about how they feel about themselves I think that it also heals me a little bit.

How have your family members in Vietnam and your mother reacted to your story?

I don’t think my mom really understands. I’ve told her a few times about writing this book, but I don’t get the feeling that it registered with her. My mom didn’t have the opportunity to get an education, and she never read a book for pleasure or otherwise. She tries to read a Bible in Vietnamese, but other than that I don’t think she has the concept of a book that isn’t for instruction.

I haven’t told my brother and sister or anyone else in Vietnam.

What do you miss from Vietnam?

Two people who are now gone: my sister and my grandmother. They took care of me growing up. Other than them, only the few friends and neighbors who were kind to me when the easy thing to do was to act as the others who yelled at me, called me names, and were always trying to put me down.

There are also a few things I reminisce about, such as chewing on a good stalk of sugar cane.

When did you first feel like you’d found a home in America?

Day one! I woke up on June 4, 1993, and I felt I was home. It was like breathing fresh air for the first time. I had no clue what I was going to do for a job or what I was going to do to even survive, but I did know that now it was up to me. I felt home.

How has it felt to write and share your story with the world? What advice would you give others who might also want to share their stories, but may be a bit apprehensive?

Writing the book and then reading it back during the editing process were the first times I truly cried about many of the things that happened to me as a child because it freed memories that I had buried deep down below my skin and away from my heart just to survive.

Growing up, many people tried to ruin me, and I was lucky to find ways to cope and survive and not break and kill myself from feeling less than and hopeless.

I had originally started this book just for my children, hoping to teach them various lessons that I had learned without them having to live through the pain I did in order to learn what I have, but I found out that writing this book was healing many old scars that I had forgotten I had.

If someone has a feeling to share their story, chances are that they do have an important story to tell. Maybe as a book, but at least as a story to share with others. Maybe it will be painful, but telling your story won’t kill you. Not speaking up will kill you because your untold story will eat you up from the inside.

Tell your story—all of it. And be true to yourself. Don’t leave anything out just because you think it is uncomfortable. Those uncomfortable things are probably the parts of your story that you need to tell for your own self, for something in you that needs healing. Maybe it’s related to your skin color, hair, shape, weight, religion, beliefs, intelligence, clumsiness, speech, your past. No matter what, don’t be afraid. Don’t feel alone.

If publishing this book helps someone beyond my children who feels “less than” for whatever reason, it would be a blessing.

What do you hope your children learn from your story?

I want my children, and others, to stand tall and honor themselves. To be true to themselves and accept where they are at so that they can get where they need and want to be. To understand the importance of being polite and kind to others and to understand the damage that can be caused if they aren’t. To honor their country and be good citizens.

Sau Le Hudecek owns a successful salon in Fort Worth, Texas, while still serving her own elite clientele.  In 1993, she arrived in the United States at the age of 22 and was sworn in as a citizen in 2001. She lives with her family in Granbury enjoying the sunsets from their home on the lake.

 

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, nonfiction, True Story on June 2, 2017


After the Miracle: The Cody Parmer Story

In the summer of 1999, doctors raced against the clock to save Cody Parmer’s life after a terrible car accident on a rural Idaho road. His parents, Brenda and Kreg Parmer, prayed that God would save him, and received their miracle. Months after his recovery a mysterious new discovery threatened to take Cody’s life once more, but this time the doctors couldn’t fix it. As Cody fought for his life, his mother searched for answers. Why would God let this happen? Would God save her son, just to let him die a short time later? Even if Cody lived, could the family handle his injuries and limitations? Even after receiving a miracle, the strength to accept God’s will would be the greatest blessing they could ever ask for.

Praise for the Book

“Such an amazing story! I read this book cover to cover all in one day. I could not put it down! It is very well-written, and you feel as if you are right there with the family experiencing every part of their incredible journey first hand. I cried through a lot of it but found parts that made me laugh too. When a book can make you do both of those things, you know you’ve found a good one.” Shannon Dooley, Amazon Review

“This is a book about amazing resiliency in the face of the kind of trauma every parent dreads. It’s told with incredible honesty and transparency. But, it’s also a story about struggling faith that grows into a deep belief in the goodness of God even in the face of adversity…” MarSue, Amazon Review

“This book was an inspiring read. Very well written, and a page turner. Cody’s family made it through some impossible odds. You really feel the struggles that they go through as they try everything to get the best results for their son.” Nora, Goodreads Review

 

 

Excerpt

I turned to Cody and he truly looked lost. The charts didn’t lie, Dr. Pike had done the tests again and again. It was done. Finished. Cody was gone and he wasn’t coming back. No amount of wishing or hoping or praying was going to fix it. And instead of him just dying naturally, we had to be the ones to flip the switch and cut off his air, his food, his medication. It was cruel. It was torture. It was too much.

Kreg was trying to be strong for me but I knew he felt it too. I could see it in his eyes. The pain, the struggle of the impossible choice, the burden of our whole family’s emotions on his back. It was too much for him to bear as well, though he had to maintain some sense of composure for all our sakes.

I gave up trying to make decisions and buried my head in my hands. Then, in the middle of our solemn and painful silence, came a knock on the door.

 

 

About the Authors

Brenda and Kreg Parmer met in high school in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and fell in love on the night of graduation. Brenda graduated from cosmetology school and Kreg went to work for a farm equipment company, and soon married. They had one son, Cody, and three beautiful daughters. Since the accident in 1999, a major part of Brenda and Kreg’s lives have been devoted to caring for Cody, who still suffers from major limitations. They love being with family, enjoying the beautiful Idaho scenery, and visiting their grandchildren. Along with their family, their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the most important thing in their lives.

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Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Posted in excerpt, Military, nonfiction on May 4, 2017

Synopsis

Compassionate Soldier illuminates some of the most fascinating and yet largely unknown stories of men and women whose humanity led them to perform courageous acts of mercy and compassion amid the chaos and carnage of war. Arranged by war from the American Revolution to the Iraq War and global in perspective, it features extraordinary stories of grace under fire from valiant soldiers and noncombatants who rose above the inhumanity of lethal conflict and chose compassion, even knowing their actions could put their lives and liberty at risk.

Included in this collection are the stories of Richard Kirkland, a Confederate soldier during the Civil War who disobeyed orders and brought blankets and water to the wounded from both North and South during the Battle of Fredericksburg; Patrick Ferguson, a British soldier during the American Revolution who had the chance to kill George Washington, but refused to shoot a man in the back; and Oswald Boelcke, a German WWI flying ace who was one of the most influential tacticians of early air combat, but was known for making sure the airmen he shot down made it to the ground alive.

These inspirational stories illustrate that even in the midst of unspeakable horrors of war, acts of kindness, mercy, compassion, and humanity can prevail and, in doing so, expand our conventional thinking of honor and battlefield glory.

Excerpt

Introduction

Imagine you are on the battlefield and in the throes of fighting a war. Your chance of survival is uncertain. Suddenly, you find yourself with a crucial decision to make – you have the opportunity to save someone’s life, but trying to do so may put you in harm’s way. Do you risk your life to help save another’s?

How often do we think about eh welfare of others before our own?  The dictionary defines compassion as “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.”

In war, compassion also requires courage.  That is why, in a situation where cruelty is the norm, compassion is so unexpected.  Soldiers are taught to disregard the humanity of the enemy so they can act against them.  When individuals act generously for someone who is in danger, even at the risk of their own life, such actions are noteworthy and inspiring.

The following remarkable true stories show that a real hero is a compassionate one.  We may never be a soldier on a battlefield, but every day we are offered choices: to be kind or unkind, to show love or ignore someone who needs our help,to forget ourselves or live selfishly.

Compassionate Soldier honors brave men and women who showed compassion when it was not expected or required. In most cases, this compassion created peril for the ones who offered it, but they proceeded in spite of the risk. In all these situation, it is humbling to witness their actions, even from a distance, because the question inevitably arise, “Would I have behaved as well as they did?” Perhaps that is the most important trait of real heroes – their ability to inspire the rest of us to do a little better.

About the Author

Jerry Borrowman is a best-selling author of fourteen published books, most military fiction and co-authored biography. He and Rudi Wobbe, co-authors of Three Against Hitler, are recipients of the prestigious George Washington National Medal of the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge,”for their contribution to the cause of freedom.”

Jerry is known for his meticulous attention to historical detail, including the technology that is unique to each story.

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Posted in Giveaway, Historical, nonfiction, Texas on April 28, 2017

A WITNESS TO HISTORY

George H. Mahon, West Texas Congressman

By Janet M. Neugebauer

Foreword by Kent Hance

  Genre: Texas History / Politics / Biography

Publisher: Texas Tech University Press

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Date of Publication: June 30 2017

Number of Pages: 576

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This is the story of George H. Mahon, a man who went to Congress in 1935, when the House Committee on Appropriations still allocated a small amount of money to buy military horses. Forty-four years later, when Mahon retired as Chairman of that same committee, the committee was debating funds to purchase a bomber capable of traveling at 2,000 miles an hour. With a career spanning nearly a half century—spanning almost the entire Cold War—Mahon grew from a West Texas country lawyer to one of the most powerful men in the US House of Representatives, serving twenty-two consecutive terms from 1935–1978.

During his time in Congress, Mahon worked easily with the giants of government, enjoying the friendship and confidence of seven of the eight presidents with whom he served. He worked just as comfortably with his constituents in the Nineteenth Congressional District of Texas. Mahon served on several Congressional committees, but it is through his service on the House Appropriations Committee and the Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations that he had the greatest national impact. He often bragged that under his leadership the Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations was the most non-partisan committee in Congress. Mahon led the subcommittee with a strong but gentle hand that earned him the respect of all who served with him.

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(available June 30, 2017)

Standing on the very spot at the mouth of Malinta tunnel where General Jonathan M. Wainwright surrendered to the Japanese. On Septemberr 2, 1945, the day after the photo was taken, General Wainwright joined General MacArthur on the USS Missouri to receive full surrender of Japan, 1945. Left to right: Rep. Albert J. Engel, Rep. Frances H. Case, Rep. George H. Mahon, William F. Norell, Rep. J. Buel Snyder, General George Richards, Rep. Harve Tibbott, Robert L. Lambert, Joseph H. Hendricks.

Courtesy of US Army, Georg Herman Mahon, Box 584

Janet M. Neugebauer is deputy director of the Southwest Collection at Texas Tech University. Her many works include Lambshead Legacy and Plains Farmer.

Kent Hance is a former Chancellor of the Texas Tech University System and a former member of the US House of Representatives.

 

 

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Posted in Children, nonfiction, Parenting, Spotlight on April 27, 2017

Raising teens and tweens to become healthy, loving, and independent individuals is a process filled with pitfalls and challenges — from bullying, drugs, sex, and peer pressures to unrelenting societal demands, endless technology challenges, and negative parental or school influences. Award-winning educator Douglas Haddad, who has helped thousands of middle school students transition from being kids into young adults, presents a forceful, insightful, and inspiring guide for parents, educators, and caretakers to use to help raise the newest generation in his latest book, The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens: Strategies for Unlocking Your Child’s Full Potential (Rowman & Littlefield, February 2017, ISBN: 978-1-4422-5695-8; 286 pages).

Doug identified 10 tools to nurturing smart, successful, and self-disciplined teens and tweens, including:

  • Be the boss by sharing power with your child
  • Use empathy and consequences
  • Kick your kid’s butt effectively – but not literally
  • Give your child the license to problem ownership
  • Get your kid iMotivated

He also outlines the warning signs and solutions to 10 critical challenges middle schoolers and high schoolers are exposed to, including:

  • How to take the “bull” out of bullying and address youth violence
  • How sex can change a child’s life forever
  • Bad habits: gambling, alcohol, drugs, smoking
  • Depression and suicidal tendencies
  • Eating disorders, physical inertia, and health issues

Doug has seen firsthand many of these challenges that kids experience. As an educator, he spends between seven and eight hours a day working with children from different backgrounds and possesses a wide perspective on the needs of “the whole child” and the challenges they are going through. Furthermore, as a child, he experienced relentless attacks from bullies, and because of that he’s been an outspoken advocate against youth violence.

His book provides a fresh, comprehensive guide for parents who desperately seek solutions, especially answers to these problems:

  • “How do I gain confidence as a parent to choose wisely and help my child succeed at all levels?”
  • “How can I react better when faced with temper tantrums or rebellious behavior?”
  • “How do I effectively talk about topics like sex, drugs, and bullying with my kid?”
  • “How do I listen better so I actually get to know who my child really is?”
  • “How can I communicate effectively and connect with my child so she knows I love her?”
  • “How do I get my child to be motivated at school and in organized activities without becoming detrimental to my child’s development or injuring our relationship?”

Doug provides parents with useful, time-proven, kid-tested methods to handle stressful or dangerous situations appropriately and effectively. By providing anecdotes, specific steps and tools, practical exercises, and encouraging ideas, Doug provides the strategies that parents will need to simplify parenting in a fast-paced, tech-driven, info-saturated and complex world – and gain a lasting connection with their child – while truly helping them prepare for adulthood.

Q & A with Doug Haddad

What are the 3-5 takeaways from your book?

In The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens, parents will:

  • Discover the secrets of effective communication with their children and learn the techniques to stop behavior problems right in their tracks when they happen.
  • Know the strategies to best motivate their children and unlock their potential.
  • Find out how to set appropriate limits and hold their children accountable for their actions.
  • Understand all of today’s “child-limiting challenges” and strategies for preventing and intervening to best handle them with their children.
  • Apply the 10 specific, proven “child unlimited” tools on a regular basis with teens and tweens to help them unlock their full potential to become smart, successful, and self-disciplined individuals and have a strong connection with their child for a lifetime.

You were named teacher-of-the-year in your school district. What does it take to motivate, teach, and grow middle school students?

Connections, care, and compassion are at the core of my practice as an educator and are the key ingredients to help motivate, teach, and grow middle school students. The old adage, “A kid doesn’t care how much you know until he/she knows how much you care” is so true. Finding a way to connect with all children in a genuine, meaningful way through care, compassion, humor, and storytelling or just being a lending ear for students when they need it, all while creating a safe classroom environment, can make the world of difference. By putting myself out there in a vulnerable state by acting, singing and dancing, my students come to know that I am not afraid to take chances, be real, show vulnerability and would do anything for them to succeed.

Why is adolescence an important state in a child’s development?

This is the period in life when children test boundaries, strive for independence, seek to be understood, become curious about the opposite sex, place greater importance on image and being accepted among their peers, engage in different risky behaviors, and develop lifestyle habits that will be carried with them throughout adulthood. In order for parents to have the best chance at raising a smart, successful, and self-disciplined child, they need to be aware of the challenges that their children face and possess strategies to help their children cope to best prevent them from making poor decisions along with techniques on how to intervene in a crisis. Additionally, making connections with children and being actively involved is paramount to them developing good fiber and lifelong habits of success.

You note there are many potential pitfalls for the new generation, from addiction, sex, and alcohol to gambling and violent video games. How does today’s parent navigate through this minefield?

Applying the “child unlimited tools” in this book, on a daily basis, will help all parents establish effective communication with their child and apply strategies to regularly and openly discuss the different challenges and pressures that their children face. In turn, this will facilitate a strong, lasting relationship that is rooted in trust. By applying these tools, parents can help their children become good problem-solvers, map out and set meaningful goals, develop resiliency skills to persevere through adversity, and learn and practice coping mechanisms that are non-destructive and emphasize self-responsibility. By spending quality time with a child and displaying a genuine care, interest, patience, and support over a child’s lifetime, a lasting positive impact can be made in a child’s life.

About the Author

Douglas Haddad is an award-winning middle school teacher, best-selling author, and parenting and education expert.

Douglas has been awarded “Teacher of the Year” in his Connecticut school district, and is the author of The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens (Rowman & Littlefield, February 2017). He has taught over 2,000 students in his 17 years as an educator, working with children from all different backgrounds and abilities.

He was recognized as the 2016-2017 Simsbury, Connecticut Teacher of the Year and has been named a 2017 Teacher- Ambassador for Public Education in the State of Connecticut. Douglas has worked as a coach, personal trainer, nutrition counselor, tai chi ch’uan and reiki master, one-on-one mentor, and tutor. He is certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a Performance Enhancement Specialist for elite athletes. Douglas has been featured in the NEA Today magazine and the CEA Advisor for educators for his unique contributions in curbing childhood obesity.

Douglas is also a blogger, contributing writer, and has been featured in many national print and online outlets. In addition to his work as an author, educator and wellness expert, Douglas Haddad is a modern-day Renaissance man who has also been on stage singing, playing piano, writing music, performing voiceovers for various companies and products, and acting in theatrical performances, film, television, and commercials over the years.

He has been featured as a regular guest expert on FOX, NBC, ABC, and ION television. He graduated magna cum laude from Central Connecticut State University with a bachelor’s degree in biology/secondary education and a master’s degree in biology. Furthermore, he graduated summa cum laude from the University of Bridgeport with a second master’s degree in human nutrition and was inducted into The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi as a lifetime member.

Douglas resides in Connecticut with his wife.

Website *  Twitter * Facebook

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Posted in excerpt, nonfiction, Spotlight on April 3, 2017

Synopsis

Do you ever ask yourself, ‘What is my purpose?’

Life’s Equation provides you with a formula to discover your true purpose through uniquely explaining and defining life’s energy and how that energy directly affects one’s actions, reactions and fundamental existence.

Written in the style of a memoir telling an introspective story of vulnerable, heartbreaking, humorous and very relevant experiences, Life’s Equation shares Frank’s unique experiences and relationships he has shared with people he’s met along the way that offered great influence in his life.

Come celebrate your experiences through logically discovering your own true purpose, all while helping make the world a better place in the process. Life’s Equation represents a proven equation toward discovering full potential, accomplishing goals and making true, raw sense of one’s own purpose.

Life’s Equation had me hooked from page one.  With vulnerability and humor, [Frank] shares stories of heartbreak, pain, and confusion, but also redemption, growth, and healing. It’s impossible to read this book and not connect it to your own life and experiences; consider the impacts of the energy you surround yourself with; and examine the untapped power you hold in finding understanding and meaning in your own life. This is a beautiful, digestible, and important read!”

Excerpt

One night after work I decided to take a long drive, something I hadn’t done in six months. After an hour of driving under a star-filled sky I arrived at the beach, got out and sat on a rock and listened to the ocean. I was hoping I would have a moment of clarity that would lead me to the next phase of my life. While I sat there I began to feel a calmness wash over me and I noticed that there was now an object in front of me that appeared to have washed up on shore. Then I realized it was slowly creeping up onto the sand. It was a sea turtle and it worked its way up alongside me as I sat motionless and watched. It began to dig a hole and then it moved over the hole and went into a trance. I was looking directly into one of its eyes and that’s when I realized it was laying eggs. I watched her for a few minutes until another turtle coming out of the water further up the shore distracted me. It was then I realized there were many more all around me all moving on instinct and somehow all acting together.

Many of the people I met flashed into my mind and I could see their faces and hear their words and I could feel them because they were now a part of me. They each had lived a life, experiencing it from a single perspective, and this was my life and I was doing the same. We are all the same. My mind began to flash between two realities, one where I got up tomorrow and continued as I had today and one where I got up and lived guided by my instincts. The flashing between these two thoughts drew them closer together and at the moment they became equally real I changed my perspective and I began to believe I could create my own reality and live my life the way I thought it should be.

The next morning I got out of bed, put all of my belongings on the front lawn of my apartment and had a garage sale. I sold everything I owned for either five dollars or forty dollars and when I was done I had $385, some clothes, a can of disinfectant spray, two blankets and a wrinkled tie. I put it all in my Jeep and decided to take a drive to Colorado to find a mountain of my own to climb before it was too late.

If we continue to do the same thing as we’ve always done, our lives will slowly change allowing us to predict our future. If we choose to implement change in our life we can alter our future making it less predictable while shifting our direction. The more dramatic the change the greater the risk we take. How we perceive change is based on our understanding of the past and we call that perspective. Perspective allows us to have greater understanding of an experience and guides our choices. Having very little and no place to call home may be a difficult experience to some, while to others it is the highlight of their life. Perspective allows us freedom of choice.

About the Author

Frank Daidone is a dynamic author, business leader and speaker.  His heartening talks to audiences of all backgrounds and interests provide invaluable insight on his own experience to help to inspire others. His greatest passion lies within creating a strong foundation for exploring our strengths and passions.

Life’s Equation is an extension of this mission.

Frank is best known for bringing large organizations together, as well as transforming the mundane into something substantive and meaningful. After eight years with Chipotle, Frank left his private sector post to accent an appointment from Denver’s Mayor Michael Hancock.  He served as Chief Information Officer for the City and county of Denver and during his governmental tenure, Frank transformed the culture of a public sector organization by running it like a cutting edge start up; empowering the people within to rise to their greatest potential.

Outside of his professional career, Frank devotes much of his time to nonprofit organizations. He has mentored a thirteen-year-old boy from the age of seven through Big Brother’s Big Sisters, supports the Tennyson Center for Children through their mission of supporting at-risk children, and serves as Chief Operations Officer for Nurse-Family Partnership to support the long-term success for first-time moms in poverty, their babies and society. He also is the Executive Chair of the education committee for Colorado Technology Association where he formed two mentorship program through Denver and Aurora Public Schools so that high school students may explore opportunities and interests as they begin their college and career search.

When Frank isn’t out sharing his perspective on the world, his biggest accomplishment is being a proud father two his two daughters. With them and his wife, Frank enjoys traveling and exploring, whether that’s around the world or right at home in Denver.

Visit FrankDaidone.net to purchase Life’s Equation. $1 from each sale benefits United Cerebral Palsy.

Author Website * Twitter  * LinkedIn * Facebook * Goodreads

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, nonfiction, Writing on March 24, 2017

Creating Stories
by Hank Quense

Published by Strange World Publishing

AVAILABLE April 1, 2017

$8.99, 9947 KB, 105 Pages

Genre: Fiction Writing

Synopsis

Do you have a story in you? Do you know how to write it or how to tell it? Well, CREATING STORIES has the answers. In addition, Hank is offering a tour-wide giveaway featuring of five (5) eBooks of CREATING STORIES and three (3) print copies of the author’s MOXIE’S PROBLEM (U.S. entries only). See how you can enter to win below. If you don’t want to wait to win a copy of CREATING STORIES, Hank is offering a special ‘half price’ sale that will only be available during his tour (March 20 through April 14).

Hank, the author of more than twenty books, tells you how to write your story. He believes that stories come from the melding of three elements: getting ideas, story design, and story-telling. Ideas have to come from the author. CREATING STORIES covers the last two.

The book concentrates on developing characters including such rarely discussed requirements such as a dominant reader emotion and the character’s biography.

Plots are also covered in depth and a number of graphics are included to illustrate complex points. Another topic discusses subplots and how to utilize them and how to nest them within the main plot.

A separate chapter discusses the relationship between the plot and the emotional arcs.

Other topics covered are character arcs, scene design, point-of-view, writing voice.

Excerpt

From Chapter 2 of Creating Stories

Setting can do much more than describe the backdrop for the story.  It should convey and define the time period and customs of the characters.  It can set up the reader’s expectations about the type of story he is about to read.  It can start the reader’s image-building process.

Consider your characters acting out the story on a stage.  Behind the characters, instead of the scenery typical with plays, there is nothing but white panels.  The people who paid money to see the play would be dismayed by the lack of scenery, so too your readers will not like it if your story doesn’t have the appropriate setting to back up the characters.

As with the plot and other story development elements, the setting must dovetail with the overall story design.  As an example, a Medieval setting won’t work if the bad guy uses an automatic pistol (unless the bad guy is also a time traveler).  Thus the setting places limits on what the author can do and can’t do, so it’s best if the author has the setting developed before the work gets too far along.

The setting used in your story has to be accurate.  Don’t try to set a story in Manhattan’s Central Park if you haven’t been there.  Likewise, the French Quarter in New Orleans is unique and shouldn’t be used by anyone who hasn’t walked the narrow streets.

Here is an example of what can happen.  I’ve lived and worked all my life around New York City.  The Hudson River is over a mile wide here and the East River is nearly a half-mile wide.  If you haven’t been to Dublin, you may assume the Liffey River, which runs through that city, would be of similar size.  It isn’t.  The Liffey is rather small compared to the rivers around Manhattan.  Making the Liffey a wide river will destroy your credibility with those readers who have seen the Liffey.

On the other hand, if you develop an imaginary location, you can make the city’s river as wide as you want.  Similarly, if you use a backdrop of a historical period in the distant past, none of your readers will have been there, but you’ll still have to do research to get the setting accurate. You can’t use St. Paul’s Cathedral with its great dome in London right after William the Conquerer became king of England.  St Paul’s wasn’t built yet.

The setting of the story should be conveyed early to the reader, the earlier the better.  Ideally, the opening paragraph in a short story or the first few pages in a longer work should give an indication of the type of story the reader is about to encounter.  Is it a mystery set in Victorian London?  Is it a story of survival set in war-torn Iraq?  Are those vicious aliens on their way to Earth?  The reader expects and has a right to know this stuff as early as possible.  Don’t disappoint the reader.  She may put the book down and never open it again.

An effect of establishing the setting is the placing of limitations on the author and the characters.  For the author, a space ship means he shouldn’t have the characters using swords and landline phones since these artifacts are from bygone eras.

Your characters are also limited.  A character in the Old West can’t have knowledge of computers or smart phones, unless he’s a time-traveler.

If you write a story that uses weapons from a different era or knowledge not available at that time, you’d better have a good reason why it makes sense.  You don’t have to convince yourself, you have to convince the reader.

~ ~ ~

If you have any questions or comments on this material, leave a note and I’ll respond.

About the Author

Hank Quense writes humorous and satiric sci-fi and fantasy stories.

He also writes and lectures about fiction writing and self-publishing. He has published 19 books and 50 short stories along with dozens of articles. He often lectures on fiction writing and publishing and has a series of guides covering the basics on each subject. He is currently working on a third Moxie novel that takes place in the Camelot era.

He and his wife, Pat, usually vacation in another galaxy or parallel universe. They also time travel occasionally when Hank is searching for new story ideas.

Amazon Author Page * Website * Twitter

You can check out the schedule and follow Hank’s tour by clicking HERE.

Giveaway

 

This tour-wide giveaway is for five (5) eBooks of CREATING STORIES and three (3) print copies of the author’s MOXIE’S PROBLEM (U.S. entries only). The prizes are courtesy of the publisher. The giveaway will end at 12 a.m. (EST) on Tuesday, April 18.
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Posted in Giveaway, Guest Post, nonfiction, Pets on March 22, 2017

Synopsis

Bringing a new dog into the household should be one of life’s happiest events. The process always starts with excitement and high expectations. Too often, though, it ends in disappointment. The new puppy wakes everyone three times a night, gnaws on furniture, piddles everywhere, knocks the children down. The new adolescent dog is too wild. The new adult dog growls at your neighbors. And where did all this dog hair come from?

Most people spend hours researching a new mattress, days researching a new car, and weeks researching a new home or job. Yet for a new dog, a companion for the next 10-15 years, the most they do is visit the nearest shelter or pet shop and buy whatever looks cute and appealing. It’s no wonder they end up disappointed.

Whether you are looking for a purebred puppy or a charming mixed-breed, the type of dog you bring into your home matters. A quiet owner will struggle to keep up with a high-energy labrador mix, for instance, while an active outdoor family will be impatient with a snoozy bulldog. And finding the right kind of dog means becoming the right kind of owner—a task that takes some forethought and planning.

How To Find Your Dream Dog is here to fix the disconnect of dog ownership. It walks you step-by-step through the process of choosing the right type of dog for you—not only exploring the canine qualities that can determine your perfect puppy, adolescent, or adult dog, but also assessing your lifestyle to make sure you’re a good match for the dog, too. The book also looks at good (and bad) sources for finding healthy and sound pet dogs, gives guidelines for evaluating individual puppies, and warns of some red flags to watch out for during your dog search. With this guidebook in hand, you can be confident that the next puppy or dog you bring home will be the right companion and friend for you for the rest of its days.

​Dixie Tenny is a Certified Training Partner with the Karen Pryor Academy of Animal Training and Behavior. During her 30+ years spent working with people and their pets, she has seen again and again how mismatches between dog and owner can create “behavior problems” that never would have happened if the right dog had been matched to the right owner in the first place. She wrote this book to help puppy buyers and dog adopters start out on the best possible foot with their new pet dogs, and stay on that path for years to come.

Guest Post

Two Great Ways to Keep Your Dog Busy Indoors
​by Dixie Tenny

When the weather outside is frightful, how do you keep your dog happy and entertained indoors?

Here are two ideas that will bring indoor fun to any dog, any type, any size, any age.

Find-it games
Every dog can learn to use its nose to find treats or toys, and the search can be as fun as the goodie at the end. Teach your pooch to play “find-it” like this:

First, while holding your pup in place, toss a treat so that it lands in plain sight. Say “find it!” and release your pup to run and eat the treat.

After a few repetitions, try tossing the treat so that it lands barely out of sight, behind furniture. Say “find it,” and release your pup. Most will seek out the goodie; if yours needs help, walk toward the treat yourself and be patient. She will get it after a few more repetitions.

Put your dog away and place a treat in plain sight. Bring your dog into the room, holding its collar, say “find it!” and release. Now the dog doesn’t have your throwing arm to watch, but by this time the cue “find it!” should let her know that there is a goodie in the room.

When she has mastered this, put a paper towel over the treat before bringing her out to “find it!” The paper towel is a new object in the room so she is very likely to go investigate it, smell the treat under it, and dig it out. This introduces the idea that the treat might actually be out of sight, so that she will start hunting for them with her nose. Next, put out two paper towels, one with a treat under it and one without.

Place a treat next to a piece of furniture for her to find. Then place it slightly under or behind the furniture…

Continue until she will hunt for a treat whenever you say “find it.” Eventually my Welsh terrier reached the point where he would hunt all over the house while I sat and read a book! The key is to progress in very slow, gradual steps, and always be willing to patiently repeat any step a few times until it’s clear that your dog is ready to move on.

Puzzle toys

Puzzle toys are one of the greatest inventions for dogs and their people ever. This is a wide range of toys that incorporate treats. With a simple puzzle toy, you just put treats, biscuit pieces, or other dog-friendly goodies into the toy and let your dog enjoy the process of working to get them out. The Kong is probably the most well-known simple puzzle toy. A Kong looks like an inverted triple-scoop ice cream with a hole in the bottom. Break up pieces of biscuits, use your dog’s own food, add a couple high-value treats like freeze-dried liver pieces; take a spoonful of cream cheese and mix it all together, then push the mixture into the hole in the Kong. You can give this to your dog as is, or freeze it for future use. Most dog trainers have several frozen Kongs in their freezers at all times!

You can also fill a Kong with canned dog food or any number of other fillings. Just be careful to avoid human foods that are dangerous to dogs such as chocolate, onion, raisins, and more.

If your dog doesn’t know what to do with this great-smelling but puzzling thing, start by filling it loosely enough that the goodies fall out when your dog rolls the toy around. Gradually make it harder for him to get the treats out as he becomes more experienced.

If your dog empties a Kong in record time, consider moving him up to the more challenging puzzle toys. There are dozens of these: my favorite include:
Toys that feed entire meals, such as the Kong Wobbler, the Tug-a-Jug, and the Tricky Treat Ball;
Toys that hold the treats inside so the dog must figure out how to remove them, such as the Busy Buddy Barnacle or Squirrel Dude, or the Bob-a-Lot Treat Dispenser.
For the maestro, try toys that require the dog to manipulate the puzzle by lifting latches, pushing little doors open, and more. These include the Dog Activity Flip Board, the Dog Twister, and the Mad Scientist Puzzle.

Consider trying some Find-it and picking up a few puzzle toys. Your dog will thank you for making her days indoors more interesting!

About the Author

Dixie Tenny has been helping people and their dogs find each other and form successful partnerships since the early 1980s. She founded two rescue organizations: Purebred Dog Rescue of Saint Louis in 1984, and Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue, Inc. in 1987. Dixie was the Director of Training for the Greater St. Louis Training Club, Inc., for five years, creating classes and overseeing the work of 40 head and assistant trainers. In 2003 she and another experienced trainer created Dogs Unleashed, LLC. They traveled to clients’ homes and worked with behavior and training issues.

Dixie’s professional credentials include trainer certifications from the prestigious Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training and Behavior, and the Association for Pet Dog Trainers. Dixie formed her own business, Human-Animal Learning Opportunities, LLC (HALO) in 2013. HALO hosts continuing education seminars for dog trainers.

Dixie has lived with a wide range of dogs over the years including mixed breeds, Australian Shepherds, Welsh and Cairn terriers, and more. While in Seattle, Dixie raised a labrador puppy for Canine Companions for Independence, Inc. (CCI). Currently Dixie lives with a Beauceron and an elderly Papillon, as well as four cats. When not doing things related to animals, she reads widely, enjoys the company of her three grown children, follows baseball and English Premier League football, and travels the world.

Giveaway

Prizes

Win one of 5 Dream Dog prize packages! Each package includes a copy of How to Find Your Dream Dog, a $15 Amazon Gift Card and Outward Hound Slow Feeder Dog Bowl) Open to USA & Canada
Ends April 8

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