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.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance, Spotlight on April 26, 2017

Synopsis

Undercover cop Clay Navarro left the Sultans biker gang a changed man. Its ringleaders may be awaiting trial, but he wears the memory of every brutal act he was forced to commit tattooed across his skin. He doesn’t have space in his messed-up life for anything gentle—not now, maybe not ever.

Dr. Georgette Hadley is drawn to the damaged stranger’s pain, intimidated but intrigued by the warmth that lies beneath Clay’s frightening exterior. But when the Sultans return looking for revenge, she finds herself drawn into the dirty underbelly of a life forged in violence…that not even her touch may be able to heal.

Excerpt

He’d fallen asleep. Either that or he’d gone to that place, wherever it was, that he seemed to go on her table. Only this time, George’s hands were on him. She felt heavy and warm, and his back was big and strong and supple, but so sweet, laid out for her, waiting, needing…

Dear God, what’s wrong with me?

He was numb by now. He had to be—as numb as the cream would make him, which wasn’t very. Another dip, another swipe, and his flesh rippled beneath her touch. Maybe not asleep?

She wanted to put her hand on his head again and push him down, but there was nowhere to go. She wanted to lean into him and over him and maybe just stretch herself across all that muscle and bone. Desire settled into her pelvis as she stroked his shoulders, ran a hand a little too far down an arm that had absolutely no need of numbing cream. None.

What the hell is wrong with me?

But still, she couldn’t quite convince her body to stop. Slowly, she kneaded her thumbs around those beautiful scapulas, felt him shudder slightly, and pulled away, hyperaware of how strange her actions were—how unethical and wrong, but maybe…maybe just…

“Don’t stop,” he mumbled, and honestly, that was all she needed.

His back—this solid, robust plane—was like the culmination of all of the backs she hadn’t had the pleasure of touching over the years, and goodness, she wanted it. She wanted his back.

Wanted his back?

Was this how it felt to go crazy?

George stepped away, embarrassed and more than a little worried for her sanity. Was she really, truly, going to cave in and do things she might very well—no, would definitely—regret over some stranger’s back?

He grunted—or maybe it was more of a groan—and twisted his neck so one shadowed eye peeked out at her.

“’S the best thing that’s happened to me in fu…frickin’ years.” His voice came out low, almost on a whisper.

“This is…” George couldn’t get the words out, she was breathing so fast. “This is weird. I can’t… I don’t—”

“No. Feels good. So damn good.”

“Just…me touching you?”

“Yeah.”

There was hardly any hesitation at all, and then the succubus wearing her skin stepped forward. Closer, until her belly was level with his hand. “Are you numb?”

She reached out and stroked him, right on that horribly defacing burn, wondering if he could feel her.

Wanting him to.

“No,” he said, even breathier now. “No, the opposite. Numb when I walked in. Now. Shit. Now, it’s all nerves.”

The weight in George’s belly turned liquid, spread out on a wave of shivery sensation that she hadn’t felt since she’d been just a kid, squished in the backseat of Dylan Dean’s bright-red Mustang with nothing between her legs but his hand, and nothing in her head but blind teenage lust.

“Here?” Her fingers caressed him where his skin had melted into unsightly whorls, tracing the jagged surface and wishing he’d let her do more. Although, even as she thought that, she wasn’t sure if she meant more as in treatment for the burn, or more right now, to his body.

To him.

“Yeah. There. Just…” He groaned, then begged, “Please.”

Possessed, she caressed him, up his side, almost to his armpit and its tuft of dark hair. It looked sexual, that hair, like something she wasn’t supposed to see. Then tracing along the top of his shoulder to the back of his neck and down, down, down his spine, the bumps adding texture along the way, the rocky road of his body the most enticing thing George had ever seen.

More sounds escaped him, little grunts that said he liked what she did, and those fueled her even more.

Lord, she wanted to flatten herself on top of the man, to cover him, and… What? Hump him? No. Not really.

Make him feel good? Touch every little bit of him? Heal him? Protect him from whatever hell he’d been through?

With a snap that surprised even her, she removed the glove that separated his skin from hers and lightly—oh so lightly—felt the reality of his flesh without the barrier of Nitrile in between. The noises were hers this time, and the contact was kinetic, burned the air, turned the heat up, ate out her brain.

His hand, right there on the edge of the table, somehow turned until his palm rested flat against her belly—not pushing, just…absorbing, fingers taking in her softness, exploring her the way she was him.

Before she knew it, she’d curled her palm around that hunk of a shoulder, leaned in until more than her lab coat pressed against the man, her breathing shaky and short. “I don’t know what I’m doing,” she whispered, in a dream. The bridge of her nose skimmed his hairline, and she took him in, smelled him, got a bigger dose of what she’d only guessed at until now. And it was good, elementally good, unexplainably, animalistically perfect. A smell she could dive into and live off of.

She pulled back. “Got to stop. I’ve got to stop.”

“Hang on.” His hand reached for hers, grasped it, skin to skin, and held on tight. “Don’t know what the hell you’re doing to me, but it’s making me crazy.”

“I don’t know; I don’t know. I’m not… This isn’t me,” George muttered, eyes clearing. She pulled hard at her hand, blinked hazily at the man laid out before her, and moved toward the door. “I’ll be…I’ll be right back.”

About the Author

Adriana Anders has acted and sung, slung cocktails and corrected copy. She’s worked for start-ups, multinationals and small nonprofits, but it wasn’t until she returned to her first love—writing romance—that she finally felt like she’d come home. Today, she resides with her tall French husband, two small children and fat French cat in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she writes the dark, gritty, steamy love stories of her heart.

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Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Spotlight on April 16, 2017

When the Grits Hit the Fan (A Country Store Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Kensington (March 28, 2017)
ISBN-13: 978-1617739293
E-Book ASIN: B01GBAIXGK

Synopsis

Despite the bitter winter in South Lick, Indiana, business is still hot at Robbie Jordan’s restaurant. But when another murder rattles the small town, can Robbie defrost the motives of a cold-blooded killer?

Before she started hosting dinners for Indiana University’s Sociology Department at Pans ‘N Pancakes, Robbie never imagined scholarly meetings could be so hostile. It’s all due to Professor Charles Stilton, who seems to thrive on heated exchanges with his peers and underlings, and tensions flare one night after he disrespects Robbie’s friend, graduate student Lou. So when Robbie and Lou go snowshoeing the next morning and find the contentious academic frozen under ice, police suspect Lou might have killed him after their public tiff. To prove her friend’s innocence, Robbie is absorbing local gossip about Professor Stilton’s past and developing her own thesis on the homicide—even if that means stirring up terrible danger for herself along the way . . .

Praise

Once again I was glad to escape to the rolling hills of southern Indiana, and the joys of running the Pans ‘N Pancakes country store and restaurant. I have loved this series from the start, but this book was especially great!  ~Classy Cheapskate

If you’re looking for a well thought out mystery with suspense and characters you can’t help but root for, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of When the Grits Hit the Fan by Maddie Day. I think it is one you’ll be sure to enjoy.  ~A Cozy Experience

WHEN THE GRITS HIT THE FAN was a mystery full of more twists and turns than a funnel cake.  ~ Lisa Ks Book Reviews

About the Author

edith maxwellAgatha-nominated and Amazon best-selling author Edith Maxwell writes the Quaker Midwife series, the Local Foods Mysteries, the Country Store Mysteries (as Maddie Day), and the Lauren Rousseau Mysteries (as Tace Baker), as well as award-winning short crime fiction. Maxwell lives north of Boston with her beau and three cats, and blogs with the other Wicked Cozy Authors.

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April 3 – Classy Cheapskate – REVIEW

April 3 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW

April 4 – A Cozy Experience – REVIEW

April 4 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST

April 4 – Cozy Up With Kathy – SPOTLIGHT

April 5 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW

April 5 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW

April 6 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – REVIEW

April 6 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

April 7 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW

April 7 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

April 8 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

April 9 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

April 9 – Author Annette Drake’s blog – INTERVIEW

April 10 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – REVIEW, GUEST POST

April 11 – Varietats – SPOTLIGHT

April 12 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 13 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW

April 13 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

April 14 – Rainy Day Reviews – REVIEW

April 14 – Queen of All She Reads – SPOTLIGHT

April 15 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 16 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

April 16 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, paranormal, Spotlight on April 9, 2017

Title: Between a Wolf and a Hard Place

Author: Terry Spear

Series: Silver Town Wolf, #7

ISBN: 9781492645115

Pubdate: April 4, 2017

Genre: Paranormal

Synopsis

In Silver Town, the secrets run deep…

Alpha werewolf Brett Silver has an ulterior motive when he donates a prized family heirloom to the Silver Town hotel. Ellie MacTire owns the place with her sisters, and he’s out to get her attention.

Ellie is even more special than Brett knows. She’s a wolf-shifter with a unique ability to commune with the dead. Ellie has been ostracized, so she protects herself and those she loves by revealing nothing—not even when strange and dangerous things begin to happen in Silver Town. And especially not to the devastatingly handsome and generous wolf who’s determined to win her over…

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A SIGN YOU MIGHT BE A SHIFTER

If you suddenly don’t need a light to see in the late evening or early morning, when others can’t see a thing in the dark.

Excerpt

When Brett and CJ arrived at the inn, they got out to help guide the piano movers. Laurel met CJ outside, giving him a big hug and kiss. Brett sighed. He’d love it if he and Ellie got to that point in their relationship—and soon. They’d both been busy lately, she with the inn and he with reporting about Victorian Day festivities. So he hadn’t seen her as much as he would have liked.

As soon as they went inside, he saw Ellie showing the movers where she thought the piano should go, while Meghan insisted it should be more to the right of the stairs.

Then Ellie caught his eye and smiled, and he felt his whole outlook brighten. She was the darkest-haired redhead of the bunch, her long, curly hair auburn in color, and to him, sexier and more mysterious. He wanted to ask her out tonight. He could cook, though he’d do better grilling outside.

She turned her attention to the piano again, frowning. And Meghan was frowning too.

Poor movers. Brett thought the two ladies would have the men relocate the piano all over the lobby before settling on the perfect place for it. Instead, Ellie suddenly looked pale and said it was fine where it was. Meghan quickly nodded, looking just as ashen.

CJ and Eric readjusted the burgundy, brocade-covered bench in front of the piano, which made Brett remember he needed to box up all the sheet music and books and bring them over. He’d taken them out of the bench when he had its seat cushion reupholstered last year, and they were still sitting in a box in the spare bedroom.

Brett paid the movers and they cleared out.

“Got to get back to work,” Eric said, giving Brett a knowing look. “Late shift working as a park ranger tonight.”

“Yeah, I’ve got to get back to the business of sheriffing.” CJ smiled at Ellie. “Can you drop me off at the station, Eric?”

“Sure thing,” their eldest brother said.

Sarandon was admiring the piano, arms folded across his chest, when he realized his brothers were leaving and snapped out of his thoughts. “Yeah, I’ve got to get back to work too.”

Brett knew Sarandon didn’t have a guide job in the park tonight, so he was glad Sarandon was vacating the premises pronto, taking his brothers’ cues. Now if only Ellie’s sisters would leave the two of them alone.

Laurel took Meghan’s arm and hauled her toward the back door. “Let’s go fix supper, why don’t we?”

“For two, three, or four of us?” Meghan asked with a smile in her voice as they disappeared outside.

Brett didn’t hesitate before he moved toward Ellie, placed his hands on her shoulders, and leaned her gently against the piano, blocking her from escape if she thought to put on the brakes again. “Would you be up for dinner for two? You don’t have any guests for the next week,  unless something has changed.” He rubbed his thumbs against her shoulders, loving the feel of her, the sweet, fresh fragrance of her. She looked beautiful in her soft teal sweater, rust-and-teal-plaid skirt, and high-heeled boots, her dark-red hair in silky curls around her shoulders.

She was soft in his arms and appeared receptive when he leaned down to kiss her. It seemed like the perfect time. No one was around. The piano had been the perfect gift. Now it was time to kiss her like he’d wanted to since they’d first started dating. As soon as their mouths touched, she responded by wrapping her arms around his back, but then Eric felt her jump a little and pulled his mouth away, wondering if he was going too fast. If he’d done something wrong.

She quickly moved against him, pushing him away from the piano, her heartbeat racing, her breathing unsteady, the color that had infused her cheeks instantly draining from her skin.

“What’s wrong?” he asked as Ellie moved him even farther from the piano. He thought maybe she had gotten static-electric shock from touching it.

“Let’s go have dinner,” she said, her Irish accent more pronounced as it was whenever she was overly worried. The sisters had been born in the United States, but their parents had been born in Ireland, and they’d picked up their parents’ accent. He loved it. “Any place is fine.”

Yet she was visibly upset, and he wasn’t sure what the difficulty was.

“Thanks for the piano. It’s beautiful.” Ellie glanced back at it, but not in an admiring way. She was looking off to the right of it, a frown marring her temple , which he thought was odd.

“Why don’t I take you to the Silver Town Tavern? If you like steak, they have great cuts there.  And we can catch up on what’s been going on.”

“I hear you’re working on some interesting  stories.”

“Yeah. My favorite? The last time the Silver Town Inn was part of the Victorian Days celebration. The idea seemed appropriate since this will be the first time the inn is open for business during the festivities since then.”

“I can’t wait to read it.” Ellie glanced back at the vicinity of the piano one last time before she shut and locked the front door to the inn.

“We can help you move the piano again if you don’t think it’s in the right place,” Brett offered, getting the car door for her.

“Uh, no, I think it’s fine.” But she didn’t sound like she thought so.

He was afraid he’d pushed her too fast on the kiss, yet she’d seemed so willing. He didn’t know what he had done wrong, but he had every intention of proving how much being with her meant to him, no matter what the difficulty might be.

***

Ellie couldn’t believe that not only had Chrissy shown up, looking interested in the piano, but so had some other woman. She was older, with white hair and dark eyes, and had appeared when Brett leaned Ellie against the piano and gave her the beginning of a spine-tingling kiss. It was so reminiscent of the start of the dreams she was having about him that Ellie could have screamed when seeing the ghost shook her up and ruined the in-the-flesh fantasy with Brett.

About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Terry Speer has written over 35 paranormal romances featuring werewolf and jaguar shapeshifters. In 2008, Heart of the Wolf was named a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year. A retired officer of the U.S. Army Reserves, Terry also creates award-winning teddy bears that have found homes all over the world. She lives in Spring, Texas.

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Posted in Giveaway, Inspirational, romance, Spotlight on April 4, 2017

Synopsis

When Amanda Jarvis prays that a special friend will move into the vacant house near her isolated mountain home, she isn’t upset when God sends a boy instead of a girl. But Amanda’s not the only one receiving unexpected answers to her prayers. After fleeing with his mother from an abusive father, Tyler Armstrong finds much-needed love and acceptance with Amanda’s family over the next ten years.

​As high school graduation nears, Tyler is shocked when one carefree afternoon with Amanda churns up an inner turmoil he would have never imagined; he’s crushing on his best friend. And for the first time in his life he’s hiding a secret from Amanda. Convinced the timing is all wrong, Tyler pushes his feelings aside as he and Amanda prepare for the future. He will soon begin training to pursue his dream of becoming a Navy Seal, while Amanda makes plans to spend the summer in Manhattan with her aunt and then return home to the community college.

​When Amanda’s summer job catapults her into a modeling career, she readily accepts the much-needed distraction. Tyler’s impending deployment is turning her world upside down. Along with the fact that she’s falling for her best friend. And, for the first time in her relationship with Tyler, she’s hiding a secret, too.

​Phoebe Garrison, Amanda’s controlling aunt, is thrilled when she is given the power to act on behalf of her underage niece. Bored with her Fortune 500 advertising agency, becoming Amanda’s manager is just what she’s been looking for to rekindle her aspirations. But as Tyler becomes aware of Phoebe’s obsession to push Amanda into supermodel status, tensions rise. As the three of them become entangled in a mass of concealed ambition and desire, each will make decisions that will send ripples of turbulence across their futures.

About the Author

I began writing as a hobby while raising my two children. In 2015, I dusted off my stories and my dreams to see if I could turn my hobby into a career. My first story, Season of Hope, was inspired by summer vacations which always included a trip to Franklin, North Carolina, to visit family and explore The Smoky Mountains. When I’m not writing, I enjoy spending time with family and most anything that involves being outdoors, especially camping and hiking. I currently live along the Emerald Coast of Florida and never complain about the hot, humid summers, because that’s exactly how I like them! ​

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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.

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Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Spotlight on March 29, 2017

Single Malt Murder: A Whisky Business Mystery

Ballantine Group; Alibi | On Sale: March 21st, 2017 | ISBN: 9780399179051| 300 Pages | Price: $4.99

Synopsis

When Abi inherits her uncle’s quaint and storied single malt distillery, she finds herself immersed in a competitive high-stakes business that elicits deep passions and prejudices. An award-winning photojournalist, Abi has no trouble capturing the perfect shot—but making the perfect shot is another matter. When she starts to receive disturbing, anonymous threats, it’s clear that someone wants her out of the picture. But Abi’s never been one to back down from a fight.

Arriving on the scene with her whisky-loving best friend, Patrick, and an oversized wheaten terrier named Liam, Abi seems to put everyone in the bucolic village on edge—especially her dour but disturbingly attractive head distiller. Acts of sabotage and increasingly personal threats against Abi make it clear that she is not welcome. When one of Abi’s new employees is found floating facedown in a vat of whisky, Abi is determined to use her skills as an investigative journalist to identify the cold-blooded killer and dispense a dram of justice before he strikes again. But distilling truth from lies is tricky, especially when everyone seems to have something to hide.

About the Author

Melinda Mullet was born in Dallas and attended school in Texas, Washington D.C., England, and Austria. She spent many years as a practicing attorney before pursuing a career as a writer. Author of the Whisky Business Mystery series, Mullet is a passionate supporter of childhood literacy. She works with numerous domestic and international charities striving to promote functional literacy for all children. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her family.

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March 20 – MysteriesEtc – REVIEW

March 20 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST

March 21 – Community Bookstop – SPOTLIGHT   Will review at a later date.

March 21 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

March 22 – Babs Book Bistro – REVIEW

March 23 – Rainy Day Reviews – REVIEW

March 23 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

March 24 – Shelley’s Book Case – SPOTLIGHT

March 24 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST

March 25 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

March 26 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW

March 27 – My Journey Back – REVIEW

March 27 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 28 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW

March 28 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW

March 29 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 29 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

March 30 – Dee-Scoveries – SPOTLIGHT

March 30 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 31 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW

April 1 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW, GUEST POST

April 1 – Sleuth Cafe – SPOTLIGHT

April 2 – Varietas – REVIEW

April 2 – Author Annette Drake’s blog – INTERVIEW

Posted in excerpt, fiction, Literary, Spotlight on March 28, 2017

Title: BEETHOVEN IN LOVE; OPUS 139
Author: Howard Jay Smith
Publisher: SYQ
Pages: 385
Genre: Literary Fiction/Biographical Fiction

At the moment of his death, Ludwig van Beethoven pleads with Providence to grant him a final wish—one day, just a single day of pure joy. But first he must confront the many failings in his life, so the great composer and exceedingly complex man begins an odyssey into the netherworld of his past life led by a spirit guide who certainly seems to be Napoleon, who died six years before. This ghost of the former emperor, whom the historical Beethoven both revered and despised, struggles to compel the composer to confront the ugliness as well as the beauty and accomplishments of his past.

As Beethoven ultimately faces the realities of his just-ended life, we encounter the women who loved and inspired him. In their own voices, we discover their Beethoven—a lover with whom they savor the profound beauty and passion of his creations. And it’s in the arms of his beloveds that he comes to terms with the meaning of his life and experiences the moment of true joy he has always sought.

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Excerpt

Prologue:

The Death of Beethoven

Vienna, 5:00 pm, March 26, 1827  

Outside Beethoven’s rooms at the Schwarzspanierhaus, a fresh measure of snow from a late season thunderstorm muffles the chimes of St. Stephens Cathedral as they ring out the hours for the old city.

Ein, Zwei, Drei, Vier… Funf  Uhr.  Five O’clock.

Beethoven, three months past his fifty-sixth birthday, lies in a coma, as he has now for two nights, his body bound by the betrayal of an illness whose only virtue was that it proved incurable and would, thankfully, be his last. Though his chest muscles and his lungs wrestle like giants against the approaching blackness, his breathing is so labored that the death rattle can be heard over the grumblings of the heavens throughout his apartment.

Muss es sein? Must it be? Ja, es muss sein. Beethoven is dying. From on high, the Gods vent their grief at his imminent passing and hurl a spear of lightening at Vienna.

Their jagged bolt of electricity explodes outside the frost covered windows of the Schwarzspanierhaus with a clap of thunder so violent it startles the composer to consciousness.

Beethoven’s eyes open, glassy, unfocused. He looks upward – only the Gods know what he sees, if anything. He raises his right hand, a hand that has graced a thousand sonatas, and clenches his fist for perhaps the last time. His arm trembles as if railing against the heavens. Tears flood his eyes.

His arm falls back to the bed… His eyelids close… And then he is gone …

About the Author

Howard Jay Smith is an award-winning writer from Santa Barbara, California. BEETHOVEN IN LOVE; OPUS 139 is his third book. A former Washington, D.C. Commission for the Arts Fellow, & Bread Loaf Writers Conference Scholar, he taught for many years in the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and has lectured nationally. His short stories, articles and photographs have appeared in the Washington Post, Horizon Magazine, the Journal of the Writers Guild of America, the Ojai Quarterly, and numerous literary and trade publications. While an executive at ABC Television, Embassy TV, and Academy Home Entertainment, he worked on numerous film, television, radio, and commercial projects. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Santa Barbara Symphony – “The Best Small City Symphony in America” –  and is a member of the American Beethoven Society.

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Posted in romance, Spotlight, women on March 25, 2017

We are so excited to announce the tour for Cards From Khloe’s Flower Shop by Isabella Louise Anderson!

 

“Cards From Khloe’s Flower Shop is perhaps one of the most memorable stories I have ever read. The characters are a huge plus, but the main star was the wisdom hidden within this profound story.”

Get your copy today!

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“Engaging, heart-warming, and full of romance, this one is bound to please readers.”

As the owner of a successful florist shop, Khloe Harper trusts her instincts. She has a strong bond with her family and friends, but after being betrayed by her last love, she’s kept herself at arms’ length from romance. When dashing entertainment attorney Derek Thomas walks into her store, Khloe’s interest is piqued. What at first seems like a business relationship quickly turns into romance, and Derek slowly plucks away the petals she’s been hiding behind. Just as Khloe lets down her guard, she discovers that Derek may not be worthy of her love after all.

Frumpy Connie Albright has a faux fascination with an imaginary man named Walt, thinking that by sending herself flowers from him she’ll feel less out-of-place with the “mean girls” she works with. When she comes face to face with her possible prince charming and thinking she might have a happy ending, when a truth is revealed, she wonders if she’ll ever have a Cinderella story.

A recently widowed senior, Gabby Lewis, isn’t ready to give up on love—which means releasing herself from survivor’s guilt and taking a chance on finding happiness and companionship again. After signing up for an online dating site for senior citizens, much to her surprise, she’s matched with Harry, an energetic and loving man, who quickly eases himself into her heart. Will Gabby take the leap of falling in love again, knowing it’s possible to have two loves of her life?

As each woman’s story develops through flowers and cards sent from Khloe’s shop during the Fall months, they begin to learn that love can only truly blossom when you trust your heart.

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“In Cards From Khloe’s Flower Shop, author Isabella Louise Anderson weaves a delightful tale that follows three women’s journey of self-discovery and finding an unexpected second chance at love.”

“Cards From Khloe’s Flower Shop is a wonderful novel about finding love and happiness that will leave a smile on your face.”

Isabella grew up with a book in her hand, and to this day nothing has changed. She focuses her time on featuring other writers on her blog, Chick Lit Goddess, along with organizing Goddess Book Tours, and is a member of the Romance Writers of America.

She lives in Dallas with her husband, enjoys spicy Mexican food, margaritas, gin on the rocks (with a splash of lime). She loves spending time with family and friends and cheering on the Texas Rangers. Not only is Isabella an author, she’s also a Scentsy consultant and hoarder.

Isabella is the author of The Right Design and Cards From Khloe’s Flower Shop. Her short story, “Meet Me Under the Mistletoe,” was featured in Simon & Fig’s Christmas anthology, Merry & Bright. She’s currently working on another book.

 

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Posted in excerpt, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Spotlight on March 18, 2017

Synopsis

900 years ago, Dogane fell at the hands of Ubinion and Ramas. That day, the people rejoiced to the heavens, which had finally removed its dark veil and given them the warmth they deserved for so long. Since then, nearly everyone had forgotten the power that almost tore Agrathias apart.

But Ubinion and Ramas had always warned of the corruption they were never able to completely rid the world of. A corruption that now allows one sorcerer the chance to rule Agrathias…forever…

Excerpt

Pivincy didn’t move.  He wasn’t going to.  This town had been his life, and this town was one he’d sworn to protect when he took the sacred oath linking his fate to Terrifor’s.  And he would fulfill the oath today.

He withdrew from his lap a heavy, black sphere.  He cupped it in his hands and pressed on it tightly.  Black and white fog swirled within, and a slight hissing sound was heard.

Give the people one last chance at a better position.

He thought of all the people he’d met in his life.  He held onto each of their smiles as he thrust the sphere down.  A shriek sliced the air, one that went high and low, and this noise would drive the Arcams even crazier than they already were.

It didn’t take long for the stream of black to flow through the town and pound up against the gates to the manor house.  Arcams used themselves as rams as flesh met iron, and Pivincy accepted a fact before it even happened: the gates wouldn’t hold out.

He stood up and placed his sword out in front of him.  He remembered the first time he held it in his hands: his first battle over two decades ago.  A tear and a chuckle came to him as he remembered in that battle Lynn’s wide eyes as she struck the Arcam Pivincy failed to see rushing at him.  He hoped she was still alive somewhere in this town, and if she wasn’t, that she’d been able to die with friends rather than alone like him.

As the gate buckled in and crashed to the side, Pivincy drew in his last, long breath.  He was going to miss Terrifor; he was going to miss this life.  But before he died, by everything on this Earth, he was going to show what defending a home really looked like.

About the Author

I’m a graduate of The University of Notre Dame with a BA in Chemical Engineering.  I just really like writing on the side.  This book was started in middle school, and it was interesting seeing how the writing style and plot changed as I got older (although I made sure to keep the general story the same since that’s what I wanted in the first place).  I’m currently writing my second book, but now I’m just trying to get this first book out for anyone to read.

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