THE BLOG TOUR – starring “SPOTLIGHT” Author Rebecca Reilly #RRBC #RaveReviewsBookClub

“SPOTLIGHT” Author Rebecca Reilly from the Rave Reviews Book Club

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Rebecca Reilly is a retired pastor, a massage therapist, and the author of Christian Sex and Marriage—It’s Complicated.

 

The Power of Casual Touch

Kaila’s Story – Married 28 years

We’ve been married a long time. I’m not attracted to him anymore. He’s hurt me too much. I don’t want to touch him, much less have sex with him.

Mia’s Story – Married 13 years

It’s not his fault. We’ve just grown apart. I don’t know what to do. I know I don’t want a divorce, but I don’t want him to touch me either.

Anne’s Story – Married 4 years

Everything he does drives me crazy. I don’t know why I married him.

Melina’s Story – Married 21 years

There’s too much resentment. Too much neglect. He’s a good man to other people, but he doesn’t pay attention to me. I don’t think of him fondly.


My heart breaks as I read and listen to stories of marriages on the brink of destruction. Sometimes, intense counseling is necessary to aid healing. Check with your church and with people you trust to find a counselor who understands and supports your faith and is trained to help you in your situation.


 

When affection for your spouse disappears, it does not need to be lost forever. You have a powerful God who fills you with powerful love. “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). You have the almighty God of the universe to fill you, sustain you, and love you as you are.

The focus here is on you. What can you do to rekindle your love and affection for your spouse? How committed are you to allow God to change your heart? Can you do the work needed without expectation that your partner will ever return your love? Because if you focus on changing your mate into something you want, nothing but frustration, anger, and pain awaits.

If you are willing to risk rejection, to give more than you thought possible, and to try day after day after day, casual touch is a powerful tool to spark a dying love.

Research studies across the board demonstrate that affectionate touching is essential for emotional development; it also eases physical pain, slows the heart rate, drops blood pressure, and speeds up recovery from illness. In other words, touch has the power to heal.

Affectionate touch heals physically. It heals emotionally. And it heals relationally. Casual touch says I love you, and you are important to me. Most importantly in this case, casual affectionate touch begins to build a love bridge that reaches from you to your spouse.

When you make the conscious and deliberate step to act out an emotion you once felt, your heart begins to feel again. Not the first time, not the second, and maybe not the third. But if you desire to love your spouse, and you demonstrate that love before you feel it, amazing things can happen. There is power in demonstrating love without feeling the emotional tie. By choosing to love, by using your mind to consciously decide to demonstrate affection, affection grows. Love grows.

If possible, ask your spouse to hold you every morning and every night—just a thirty-second hug. Asking brings your spouse onto the love bridge. It helps build the affection for him or her, too. If you cannot ask, you must step forward and do. Hug. Hold. Be physically close for thirty seconds.

Reach for his hand whenever you can. Put your arm around her as you walk or sit. Two, three, four times a day initiate affectionate touch. Come back and try again later if your partner pulls away. Let him or her know you need to touch and be touched. You will not give up on your relationship.

What do you have to lose? It does not compare to what you have to gain.

 

How Do I Touch You? Let Me Count the Ways

When it comes to casual touch, it is best to trust your instincts. If you think about touching your spouse, do it. Catch his or her eye and smile; just a second adds power to your message of love.

Hold hands whenever possible.

Hug each other. Hold on a few seconds too long.

Play footsies under your dinner table.

Put your head in his lap as you watch a movie or the news.

Pull her head to your lap and give her a scalp massage. Cup her head with both hands and slowly move your fingers in circles. Ask her how it feels. Does she want it softer or harder? You can also gently pull strands of hair. Move across her scalp as you pull.

Use your fingernails as you stroke up his forearm.

Give her a hand massage. Use lotion and your thumb to give steady pressure.

Use his electric razor to shave his face. Have him lie down in bed. Use gentle strokes to put him to sleep.

Massage her feet. Use lotion. Press your thumbs in circles across her arch. Run your fingertips along the base of her toes. Rub her heal across the palm of your hand. Just touch, smooth, and pamper her.

Giving your spouse a full body massage does a lot of wonderful things for your relationship. If you make this a regular part of your life, you might want to purchase a fairly cheap portable massage table. If not, the sofa or bed works, but can be hard on the body of the giver. Start with gentle pressure. You are giving and receiving touch, not trying to release knots. Smooth, long, confident strokes feel good. Use lotion, and try to avoid jerky movements. Women tend to carry tension in the muscles around their neck. Do not squeeze too tightly. Ask how the pressure feels and adjust. Men tend to carry their tension in their lower back. Use your thumbs and push up and down along the spine (one thumb on each side), then use the heel of your hand to press from the spine toward the hip in the lower back.

The buttocks hold large muscles. You can roll your fist across them, or use the palm of your hand to go deeper. Again, ask how your pressure feels and adjust.

When massaging the legs and arms, begin at the extremities (feet or hands) and move toward the heart. Long, firm, gentle strokes feel good and are comforting.

One of the most relaxing massages is one done on the face. Begin with your fingertips at the center of your spouse’s forehead. Bring your hands down to his or her temples, one hand on each side. Move your fingertips in circular motions over the temples. Repeat several times. Press one finger on each side of the bridge of the nose. Move your fingers, pressing over the sinus area. Use your fingertips to rub circles over the joint of the jaw, and then gently massage the outer part of the ears. Finish with a scalp massage.

 

On Your Own

Look in the mirror and remind yourself of these facts every day:

  • God knows my every fault, and He loves me deeply.
  • I am worthy to be loved.
  • I am a masterpiece created by the God who invented beauty.
  • God blessed me with talents, some of which I have not yet discovered.
  • God has forgiven me. I must forgive myself.
  • It is right to love myself. I see value in who I am.
  • I am a work in progress. I like where I am going.

Evaluate yourself:

  • In 2 Thessalonians 1:3, Paul says, “We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.” Do you believe your love for your spouse can increase? What can you do to help your love grow?
  • Affectionate love and sexual love go together in good marriages. Which type of love is strongest in you? Which type of love is strongest in your marriage? Do you see the value in working on each type of love? Why or why not? What strategies do you have for working on affectionate love? On sexual love?
  • What keeps you from casually touching your spouse more often? Can you change that?
  • Count how many times you casually touch your spouse in one day. Add to it the next day.

 

Sometime this week, say these things to your spouse:

  • You are worthy to be loved.
  • I am worthy to be loved.
  • I need to touch you. I need you to touch me.
  • Can I give you a massage?
  • I think about you when you are gone.
  • I’m glad we’re friends as well as lovers.
  • I need your affection.
  • You make me happy.
  • I love you. I’m glad I married you. I’d marry you again tomorrow.

Open Communication

Conversation Starters

  • What is the most sensitive part of your body to touch?
  • What do I do that that tells you I love you?
  • If we were in a room full of people and couldn’t have sex, what five things could I do to show you I want you, I need you, and I love you?
  • Did you see/feel a lot of affection when you were growing up?
  • How can we model affection for our children?

 

Just an Idea

  • Take a walk. Hold hands the entire time.
  • While watching television, exchange scalp and neck massages. One partner sits on the floor in front of the other. Switch half way through the show.
  • Do a mundane chore together (washing dishes, folding laundry, etc). Casually touch often throughout the time you work.
  • Bet a fifteen-minute back massage on the next sporting event you watch together.

 

 

 

Purchase Rebecca Reilly’s

Christian Sex and Marriage—It’s Complicated

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Amazon Paperback: http://bit.ly/SexMarriagePB

Barnes and Noble:  http://bit.ly/sexBN

iTunes– http://bit.ly/iTunessexandmarriage

 

Follow Rebecca Reilly:

Twitter: @RebeccaReillyL

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaLynnReilly/

Website (sign up for her newsletter): rebeccareilly.net

Email: Rebeccareilly.author@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

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THE BLOG TOUR – starring “SPOTLIGHT” Author Janelle Jalbert #RRBC #RaveReviewsBookClub

“SPOTLIGHT” Author Janelle Jalbert from the Rave Reviews Book Club

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Writing Therapy Meets Life Purpose

There have been two constants in my life. First, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I love books. I mean I really love them (but not in a disturbing kind of way). I tend to gobble them up like a chocoholic on Valentine’s Day. In fact, it was my love of reading that made me first shout “I wanna do that!” when it came to writing. I was addicted to a Y.A. series that I clamored for as each book was released. One day it dawned on me that my favorite character’s desire to be a writer was also what I wanted for myself.

During that angsty pre-teen/teen time, I was also dealing with some incredibly serious circumstances in life…the kind no one should have to contend with. The way I coped was through writing. First it was stories that helped me process events and the aftermath. Eventually the joy I got from writing and seeing others enjoy what I created led me to start writing serialized stories for my school friends. In that way, the second constant in my life emerged: writing is my therapy.

 

Then, life got in the way

My enthusiasm for writing hit a roadblock of sorts when I proclaimed my desire to write (to a family filled predominantly with teachers and blue collar workers). I was told that was “nice” but I really needed to focus on something practical since one day I would have bills to pay.

I caved and became a cliché. I became a teacher. I found ways to let my inner scribe out through the years. When I wasn’t teaching or grading seemingly endless stacks of essays, I made time to follow my other passions such as travel and started a few side businesses. All of that doubled back to writing. My first book was an educational guide, SUCCESS SKILLS FOR MIDDLE & HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS. Then I got a chance to contribute to business books thanks to my entrepreneurial streak.

In 2009 and on a whim, I was reporting on education when I pitched the idea of a motorsports post to my editor, who put me in contact with a sports editor. It may have seemed completely random, but I’ve always loved racing. The move paid off and within a week I was officially a motorsports reporter. Within a year, I was traveling the country, covering events in articles and photographs.

It was a busy and exciting time. I was juggling two online teaching positions, graduate studies, a fledging college admissions consulting business, and three reporting posts (one in education and two in sports). I even made the jump to move from California to North Carolina in 2010.

The day I moved into my apartment in Charlotte, I looked out over the woods and thought about my long ago dream of writing (as in fiction). I put it out there that I wanted that period in my life to resurrect that somehow and thought nothing more about it with all of my other activities.

When I returned to California a year later, I went through the most challenging years of my life. In the space of 4 years I had to leave my doctoral studies. My teaching career evaporated. I lost 5 loved ones, including my dad and my sister, and the list goes on.

 

Blessings and Lessons

The colossal life reboot taught me that life is full of blessings and lessons, and sometimes lessons and blessings come in the same package. I had all but given up on any form of writing except for an occasional addition to a would-be memoir about my time in Charlotte. It was more about therapy and processing things personally than it was about “writing a book.” Again, it was my love of writing and need for writing therapy that emerged.

In the fall of 2013, I was anxious and adrift. A month before the really big blows of from that dark night of the soul, I took the step to rededicate myself to writing when the idea for my first novel TRIANGULATING BLISS seemed to come as a gift from Heaven.

In the month that followed, I plowed through drafting. I was about 80% done when my dad was diagnosed with multiple advanced cancers. Dad was the one who gave me my passion for the written words, and ironically, he was the loudest voice from my youth about pursuing a more practical career. I jumped in headlong and began ghostwriting and copywriting in the months following his death as well. That momentum put me in the right spot at the right time to pitch a book concept for another one of my hobbies, wine, that led to WINE FOR BEGINNERS. The day that my wine book went to the publisher was the day that my sister died at the age of 38. Like I said…blessings and lessons.

While I do believe that you have to live life in order to write about life, it has to be balanced with understanding that life is short and you have to seize your dreams, your purpose. Ultimately, my quiet, almost fleeting request, on the day I moved to Charlotte – the one to reignite my writing – was what changed the course of my life forever. The experiences that I had during that time in North Carolina led to my current release, WINGDOG: SOUL PUP, and ultimately jump-started my writing career with numerous books published both as a ghostwriter and as a published, award-winning fiction and non-fiction author under my own name.


WINGDOG: Soul Pup: A Magical Mutt Memoir

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Excerpt from Wingdog Soul Pup

First Date

Yes, I slept with him on our first date. It felt so good to have his warm body against mine. He was gorgeous and sweet as slumber set in, and I couldn’t help but curl up closer. We were already doing our own version of spooning, just hours after meeting. Everything was once again right with the world thanks to his warmth by my side. It was a case of love at first sight that grew deeper in the darkness of the bedroom around us.

I couldn’t help but run my fingers through his fur as his brindled coat rose and fell with deep, sleep-filled breathing. His fur was the perfect texture, not too course but without fluff. The hairs behind his bouncy ears were already my favorite, so silky fine. He sighed as I continued rubbing up and down his side before once more scratching behind his ear. With the ear rubs, he pushed closer into me. His sixteen pound body firmly tucked at my hip.

Ah, I’m home.

I wasn’t sure if it was my thought because it could have easily come from the pup at my side. For the first time in weeks, I began to doze off, peaceful and content. The neighbor problems that plagued my previous weeks faded away with his comforting presence.

Sometimes it does all work out. Bad things can lead to great opportunities.

The stress of moving from California to North Carolina evaporated. The distress that plagued me eased. It was what I’d been craving: a chance to forget and to enjoy life again. It was what my soul needed. I sighed and let go. All was good, at last.

The day started like most of late when I got sidetracked by my inbox after clicking on the message. A small, brown puppy snuggled face-to-face with a tabby kitten appeared. The expression in the picture wasn’t curiosity. It was more like a big brother protecting a younger sibling. The other picture was of the same puppy looking up at the camera. His brown ears were as big as his head. The look in his eyes was that of questioning intelligence, and only the slightest hint of his blue left eye opposite the brown one showed. He seemed to know it was not simply a picture being taken.

It took less than thirty seconds. I was in love.

Immediately, I hit reply. He’s adorable. I’d love to meet him!

With that, a flurry of emails was exchanged. I rushed out into the silvery, fall day, filled with clouds. I stopped at the ATM before getting on the highway for the trip down to Rock Hill from Charlotte. It felt odd to pull money out to buy a dog. Granted, I rescued pups before, but this felt different. Then, it hit me. There’s something not all together right about exchanging money for a living creature’s spirit, and that thought caught me off guard.

“What’s that all about?” I muttered as I turned down the onramp to Highway 85, heading south. I shook off the feeling with the thought that it helped pay for his care rather than buying him per say.

As I made the transition to the 77 near uptown Charlotte, I started thinking of names for the pup. Angie named him ‘Ace of Spades’ or Ace for ease, but that wasn’t right. I knew that instantly. My dogs have always named themselves. He’ll let me know. I thought, but still names flitted through my mind.

What do I want from all this? That made me laugh. It’s a dog adoption, not a marriage. The truth was already apparent. This was going to be bigger than a simple custody transfer. The anxiety over recent events with neighbors at my apartment complex threatened to rear up again. I needed someone…something…to help watch my back. I wanted a right-hand man…a wingman…or, in this case, a ‘wingdog’.

That’s it! Goose. Like the wingman in Top Gun, he’d be my extra pair of eyes and ears. I loved it immediately and settled on it before remembering that the dog does the choosing.

“Okay, just keep it in mind,” I mumbled as I got off the highway and made a convoluted trip to the apartment. I texted Angie from the parking lot because I couldn’t make sense of the numbers in the complex, so she agreed to bring him down to meet me. I waited in the car for a few minutes, laughing at myself for having a bit of ‘first date’ jitters about meeting a puppy.

They seemed to appear out of nowhere and stopped at the end of the walkway.

I got out, and as soon as I cleared the bumper, he spotted me. It was magic – a connection in an instant – as he leapt towards me despite his leash. His eyes lit up like I’m sure mine did. With a big smile and open arms, I walked up to him at Angie’s side and said hello. He barely reached my kneecap, but his eyes were wide and bright. I dropped to my knee. Given my earlier thoughts about marriage, I chuckled and shook my head to clear the whole proposal analogy from my head. He nuzzled into me immediately and toppled me onto my rear.

Who are YOU? I haven’t seen you before. He did a once over with his nose. Yep, you smell nice. You’re a good one. How ya doin’?

I smiled ear to ear as I situated myself, sitting cross-legged so the little guy could sniff away at will. If that isn’t an enthusiastic yes, I don’t know what is. My heart swelled as his furry little body shivered with excitement. His wild tail matched the leaping in my chest. I looked into his wide, trusting eyes: one brown, the other blue. It was a match. You choose me too! I thought as I wrapped my arms around the brindled bundle showering me in warm wet pup kisses.

“We found him on the highway. He was in bad shape, but we nursed him back to health. He’s been dewormed too.”

He sat listening to the conversation like he would chime in at any time, sneaking glances at me as Angie debriefed me about his circumstances.

How could someone be so evil to such an adorable boy?

“Several people have come to look at him, but the brindle coloring gives the impression of a pit bull.” Angie sighed. “He’s incredibly friendly, but the people who’ve come to see him have scared him as well as my husband and me. It’s like he knows they’re not right. My husband and I figured they were looking for fighting dogs, or even bait dogs, when they start asking about his bloodlines.”

A chill traveled down my spine at the thought of people looking to sacrifice a loving creature for a blood sport.

Angie continued, “That’s why we’ve been saying that he’s a Jack Russell mix. We’re not sure though, and we can’t keep him anyway.” Angie went on to explain about their impending move as Goose scanned the yard of the apartment complex.

Hold on. His name isn’t Goose yet. I thought as my mind and heart made the leap. He gets a vote. Remember?

“He’s big into sticks,” Angie stated as she reached up into the branches of a small, almost bare tree near us and broke off a branch for Goose. He immediately plopped down to tackle his new toy. “I was going to name him Lucky, but that’s too common. So, I thought that the Ace of Spades is a lucky card. That’s how he got his name.”

I noticed that he wasn’t too fond of the name either, since he didn’t even twitch when he heard her say it. Good boy! You’re definitely a smart one. I thought. I could tell Angie was stalling a bit with her continued chatting.

“He’s still damp. I was cleaning the bird cage in the bathtub, and he jumped right in too. He loves water.”

“Perfect! I’m a surfer girl who needs to be around water all the time.” I said with a laugh and smile. “Yeah, I know Charlotte’s not near the ocean, but we’ll be at the lake a lot.” I felt like I was selling myself to win favor.

“He loves going for rides too. My husband has to take him every time he goes to the store or wherever.”

“That works out perfectly too. Though I am teaching online classes fulltime, I’m a bit of a road warrior right now with a side gig as a motorsports reporter. That’s what brought me to NC. We’ll be going to California in a couple of weeks for the Phoenix race, Thanksgiving, and Champ Week. He’ll get the ride of his puppy life.”

Angie’s shoulders slumped as we transferred his things to the car, and I handed Angie a hundred dollars for both the pup and all of her supplies. There wasn’t much: a used cat collar, a small leash, some food and a bowl, but it was a start. The supermarket dog food was going to be replaced immediately.

You’ll be eating way better than that. I vowed silently. I could tell that Angie was both happy and sad. I passed the test. He was going to a good home, but it meant that he was leaving her.

Whether it was Angie’s demeanor or plain puppy energy, he grew restless, starting to explore the yard as much as he could while still on a leash. After Angie ran out of things to chit-chat about, I opened the passenger’s side door and cradled him in my arms. His warmth traveled to my core as the soft bundle of brown, black and white fur rested close to my heart. A sigh escaped as I held him to my chest before placing him on the seat.

Shotgun! He perked up and sniffed the interior, which was already filling with the smell of kibble.

His investigation stopped abruptly and he stared at Angie and me. He knew something was different. This wasn’t a casual, meet-someone-on-a-walk encounter anymore. It was a strange new car. He looked at Angie. Thank you. I’m happy. She’s a good one.

Angie sighed. “Bye, Ace. You’re a good boy.”

He seemed to smile as he stretched, puffing out his puppy chest. Then he got distracted by the straw to my iced coffee. He was at ease, and inside of two hours, I became a pup mom. Life wasn’t going to be the same again.


 

Website: www.janellejalbert.com

Amazon Author Page: http://bit.ly/JanelleJalbertRRBC

Twitter handle: @JustJJWriting

Facebook: Facebook.com/janellejalbert.author

WINGDOG: Soul Pup has been released on Amazon, as of March 7, with full release across most major retailers in June 2016

THE BLOG TOUR – starring “SPOTLIGHT” Author, Jan Hawke #RRBC #RaveReviewsBookClub

Tall ships and stars…

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,

And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;

Sea-fever by John Masefield

 

There’s a lot to be said for being self-sufficient, especially if you’re a solitary ‘seafaring’ author. 2015 was a terrific year for me in all its meanings, including the negative. For the first time in my life, and after 39 years of relatively calm marital waters, I found myself living on my own after my husband, Pete, did not survive major cardiac surgery.

We only had about 10 days to come to terms with the gravity of his condition, but, as he’d come through several other serious medical procedures in the past 5 years with flying colours, were fairly hopeful. Our luck ran out basically. The day Pete was in surgery, I was driving home from another hospital appointment, when I heard on the radio that my great literary hero, Terry Pratchett, had also died peacefully at home that morning, after a very public struggle with early onset posterior cortical atrophy dementia.

I lost both my heroes within 24 hours. I like to think that the day after, Pete and Terry met up on the newcomers’ orientation tour of the ‘better place’ I know they both went to, and had a little chinwag at the bar. They both loved a pint of ale and a good brandy. This whimsy, thankfully, set me off on a more positive terrific track, after I emerged from the usual state of numb shock that comes when the hub of your world is taken away. My family and friends were wonderful in helping me cope with the ‘arrangements’ – I know that Pete would have loved his funeral, and his final resting place, out in the garden beside the pipe fountain that he never quite found the time to move from the garage, where it had been gathering cobwebs since we bought it over 10 years ago.

That was us really – mañana; pole, pole (slowly, slowly); smell the roses… So, facing life without Pete has been a terrific challenge. For the most part I’ve come through pretty well, but of course I’ve had to make some changes. Most have been towards getting practical matters in order so I don’t have to worry about them, which includes some major changes to the house. That hopefully will be finished this summer with the installation of a new extension that will incorporate my ‘dream’ study and library.

Which is why I’m facing 2016 with lots of positive terrific feelings, because I’m so proud and confident of doing more than just surviving the last 11 months. My health isn’t great, but I’m gradually making improvements, and some of the building work will help towards that as well. I’ve kept my mind busy too – RRBC was been at the forefront in that respect, with all the different new activities that have been introduced this year, not to mention my joining the governing board, having a MoW and a BoM slot and getting my act together on my blog (janhawke.me) and on the social networks. As an author, I’ve grown my platform, my audience and been getting great reviews; have a solo anthology-memoir to be published in the Spring, and generally ‘got myself out there’. The one thing I haven’t done is much original writing (the anthology’s a collation of previous work) – but this is about to change! Having been beavering away at all these facets of my life, I’ve finally got to the place where I can draw a deep breath, having cleared all the decks, and walk onto my terrific new vessel to set out on an awfully big adventure. The work in progress beckons mightily, and I couldn’t be happier as I slip my moorings and set out to sea, following a star of my own making!

You’ll find out more about that later in the week!

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Author Bio: I live near Launceston in Cornwall, UK with Toby and Benji the Springer Spaniels – it’s a tie between us all as to who’s maddest, but as I outrank them in being weird anyway it’s not open to debate really. I’m physically lazy with things that don’t hold much interest for me (so that’s mostly housework and, increasingly, cooking…), but I love where we live, mainly because I chose it for being so quiet and off the beaten track, very close to the moors and quite near to the sea. I also love books, both to write and to read, the latter of which can be very eclectic (I enjoy Julian Barnes, Kate Atkinson, Jeanette Winterson and will happily admit to Jilly Cooper too) but in the main I’m heavily into SF&F, particularly Tolkien, Terry Pratchett and Julian May, although I can pass on Zombie Apocalypses fairly easily… …how I’ve chosen to write about Africa for my first novel may be something of a surprise to my friends, but if you read it you may find that all of the above information manifests in there somehow!

 

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Book Blurb: Milele Safari back blurb – Milele Safari – An Eternal Journey …twines around a single day, in an unremarkable border village that snuffs out the lives of four people and shatters many others, only to draw the survivors back to a different time and, perhaps, a hope of atonement and peace. Step out on the journey and discover an Africa that could have been, is and might one day come to be.

Book linksAmazon (print & eBook) – http://www.amazon.com/dp/0992747201/

Barnes & Noble (print only) – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/milele-safari-an-eternal-journey-janette-mary-hawke/1117529970?ean=9780992747206

Milele Safari blog http://milelesafari.blogspot.co.uk/p/taster-1.html


Social Media links

Twitter – @JanHawke

Facebook Author page – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jan-Hawke/386239624841750

LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=254177051

Author blog – Jan Hawke INKorporated http://janhawke.me/

 

THE BLOG TOUR – starring “SPOTLIGHT” Author, Maureen K. Howard #RRBC #RaveReviewsBookClub

“World, Meet Maureen K. Howard”
~by Maureen Kovach

 

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“World, Meet Maureen K. Howard”
~by Maureen Kovach

The End. “Woo hoo! We did it. We wrote a book. It’s a good book. We know it. At least we think it is. Is it? Maybe it sucks. It definitely sucks.” Does this sound familiar? As any author knows, writing is like a roller coaster–the peaks are high and the valleys are low. Real low. And as any Indie Author knows, there’s no one standing by to boost your morale, kick you in the pants, or hold your hand and let you cry. You come to the realization that writing the book was the easy part.

After basking in the glow of personal accomplishment for five or six minutes, reality rears its ugly head. Who is going to read our masterpiece? How will anyone know how awesome our story, our setting, and our characters are if no one even knows the darn thing exists?

That was the million-dollar question, and I didn’t have a million dollars to discover the answer to it. So I did the next best thing. I opened up my dresser drawer, pulled out my big-girl panties, dressed for action, and got down to business. My daughter and I, under the pen name, Maureen K. Howard, had written a book, and it was a good book. Now it was my mission to make sure others would have the pleasure of discovering it.

To my credit, I did have the good sense before this point to read as much advice as I could get my hands on about how to write a good book, and make sure it was market-ready. I had identified my target audience, purchased the services of a professional editor and a cover designer, and signed up for Kindle Direct Publishing and a print-on-demand service.

But that only took me so far. After all of my family members and friends had downloaded their e-books or ordered their print copies, the party, such as it was, was over. It was time to move on to a new action plan. How did I connect with new people who would want to read our book?

I thought of a book I had finished recently by an author I had never even heard of before. I had discovered the book through one of the many services that offer e-books at free and discounted prices. I am an avid reader, so I figured there were probably other people like me out there, willing to give an unfamiliar book a try if the stakes weren’t too high. This author’s style was right up my ally. The mystery was fun and fast-paced, the characters were smart but quirky, and the writing itself was impeccable. So, I wondered, how did she do it? Not write the book, because I felt mine could hold its own. But how did she get it in front of me?

I did what any techno-savvy consumer would do. I googled her. Thus began my journey into the unknown world of self-promotion. I studied her web page and used it as a guideline to create one of my own. But wait. She had a Facebook Author Page. Okay. I could do that. I began discovering on-line groups dedicated to specific genres–some were geared toward writers, others toward readers, while others joined both sides for lively, eye-opening conversations and recommendations, which led to…sales! I never felt out of place or stupid among these members and have made some dear friends who I look forward to chatting with regularly.

And next there was Twitter. I was utterly clueless. I’m still not sure I comprehend that landscape. It must be that little bird. I’ve always hated birds. But I do it. Little by little, I’m discovering its advantages.

Blogs baffle me. I have one. I’m writing one. I even enjoy reading them. My resistance to them, I hate to admit, is most likely due to my age. I stubbornly refuse to enter into a friendly working relationship with something called a blog. What kind of a word is that?

I know I’ve just uncovered the tip of the iceberg. I stepped outside my comfort zone and fell off a cliff. What I have decided is that success is out there. I am part of things now that one year ago, I did not know existed. I have a mailing list. My book is available in public libraries. I even have a street team, advance readers, and dare I say it? fans.

If you’d like to stop by and meet us (Maureen Kovach and Brigette Howard, aka Maureen K. Howard), you can find us at @mhowardbooks, www.facebook.com/maureenhowardauthor, www.lakeeriemysteries.com, www.mhowardbooks.wix.com/lake-erie-mysteries.

Author Bio:
Maureen K. Howard is the pen name of mother/daughter writing partners, Maureen Kovach and Brigette Howard. They both live in Findlay, Ohio. Maureen recently retired from a long career as a high school English teacher and now focuses her time on spoiling her three granddaughters, spending long weekends at the lake with her husband and their golden doodle, and making friends with fellow mystery writers and readers across the globe via social media. Oh yeah, she also writes books. Brigette works full time managing multiple national restaurant franchises. She enjoys taking her charcoal lab on running adventures and spends her free time reading, gardening with her husband, cooking, and planning the perfect murder.

Maureen Online:
Twitter: @mhowardbooks
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maureenhowardauthor
Website http://mhowardbooks.wix.com/lake-erie-mysteries

Book Links:
AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/Sunny-Side-Lake-Erie-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B00Q79DB90/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1434554136&sr=1-2&keywords=sunny+side+up

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sunny-side-up-maureen-k-howard/1121262131?ean=9781634432887

CHAPTER ONE

The evening sky made me think of rainbow sherbet as I watched the sun set over picturesque Kelleys Island. The sound of waves lapping against the side of my small skiff as I steered toward the lakeshore had a cathartic effect—my breathing and heart rate were finally returning to normal. From a hundred yards off shore, it was a postcard perfect scene. Idling past the breakwall, past the pier and the beach, I envisioned the fingers of charcoal smoke curling their way through the pastel clouds, clutching and twisting, distorting the idyllic scene. I could almost smell it, faint at first, but increasing in intensity, a foul odor like hot summer asphalt mixed with the sweetly noxious smell of burnt cupcakes. It would make your eyes water and your nostrils burn.

Increasing my speed, I glanced over my shoulder then focused once more on the shoreline, imagining the result of my handiwork and the thrill that would course through me when my mission was complete and my trophy, the charred remains of my victim, was discovered.

 

THE BLOG TOUR – starring “SPOTLIGHT” Author, Elizabeth N. Love

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Call of the Goddess

I just want to say a quick thanks for having me along! It’s been a great week!

Everyone has a different method they use to get their writing job done. We all know that getting started is tricky, the writing is easy, but getting the project completed to our utmost satisfaction is the true trial. In order to get the most out of the job we do, we settle into our individual writing processes – and hope for the best when it’s all over.

My Writing Process

I have always found that the best way to write a rough draft with the greatest efficiency is to use the old-fashioned pen and paper. Writing on paper opens up my ability to ignore spelling mistakes, ignore grammar mistakes, and keep my goal focused on getting the idea down, whether it is a good one or a bad one. I try to write a little something every day, if time allows. My brain doesn’t stop working and fodder for stories comes from every direction.

For me, paper has the advantage of being light-weight, easily transportable, and doesn’t require batteries or a power cord to work. It won’t break if one of the kids drops it. I don’t have to turn it off on the airplane during takeoff or landing. However, there are the occasions when my pen disappears. I try to keep an entire pack on hand.

Ideas aren’t always going to be magnificent or awe inspiring – not the first time around. Sometimes, ideas are just clutter. Writing on paper allows me to de-clutter and defragment my brain’s file space. If it’s a terrible idea, I don’t want to expend the energy and time fussing with the details. I just want the idea gone so I don’t have it rattling around in my gray matter for another twenty-four hours. My writing and editing time is limited, and I want to use that time effectively. But even bad ideas are saved in the paper archives. They might seem better in the future.

I’ve tried to write my rough drafts directly on the screen. Unfortunately, I’m easily distracted by the little red and green squiggles popping up as I type. The perfectionist in me wants to fix it immediately. I backspace too much and re-read the previous paragraphs when I should be pushing forward. While I can type at a rate of over 80 words per minute, this rate doesn’t do me any good if I’m bogged down by my own neuroses.

Interestingly enough, writing by hand is 10x slower than typing your thoughts, and typing is 10x slower than thinking your thoughts, making writing those thoughts by hand 100x slower than thinking them. Oddly enough, I seem to overcome this paradox while writing stories. We won’t be discussing my legibility at this juncture.

Good ideas get typed into the word processor, thus beginning the refinement and revision process. I must first organize the bits and pieces, written in several blank books or on scraps of paper and not always in chronological order. I number the pages and mark them with sticky tabs.

As I speedily read back what I’ve written, I begin to focus on the various literary tools that add character to my writing style. I seek out moments where alliteration can be used to enhance the meaning of the passage, working out consonance and assonance to showcase my skills. I consult reference books and sites to add details. I begin to rearrange conversations to bring out the most relevant dialogue. I use my own face to act out the emotions and delve into describing the actions and reactions of the characters so that they become real. But even the second time around, I don’t spend too much time fussing over the final product. The second stage is getting the words down digitally and on a back-up for safe keeping.

After letting the story stew for a couple of weeks without so much as a peek (during these two weeks, I’m busy spilling out more ideas for other stories), I print a hard copy and begin at the beginning. I read with fresh eyes. Now I can begin to scratch out irrelevant paragraphs and scribble in better descriptive words. I can see what makes sense and rewrite troubling sentences. I weed out glaring typos. Taking this back to the screen, I enter the corrections, smoothing out the overall work. I get to sit back and think to myself, “This is going to be awesome.”

After a couple of rounds of printing, scribbling and rewriting, changing font and size to keep the reading fresh, I’m ready for the final edits. This time I start from the end. Writers all have a tendency to tweak the beginning of the book over and over again. We’re tired by the time we reach the end, missing obvious mistakes. To combat this, I take each paragraph on its own, reading carefully twice to catch remaining errors and move backward through the story. Of course, I know the story by heart. I know where it’s heading. Reading it backwards provides clarity that everything at the end comes from something at the beginning.

This process may seem slow to some and outdated to others, but it’s what works for me; and I know exactly the reasons why. I’ve tried various options, but this is where my comfort lies. I don’t have a specific spot where I do my writing. I enjoy the freedom of taking my writing with me anywhere I go.

Thanks for reading! See you again soon!

~Elizabeth N. Love

*~*~*~*

Call of the Goddess by Elizabeth N. Love

Amazon Link: http://goo.gl/8pPUmR

About the Book:

On the faraway planet of Bona Dea, in a society forged by ancient settlers, trouble is brewing. Young psychic Axandra, never comfortable with her gift, is being forced to use it for the benefit of her people as ruling matriarch of the entire world and host to a powerful entity known only as the Goddess. Struggling with her fate, used as a pawn between warring factions, life for Axandra is almost too much to bear. Even the ministrations of her beloved companion, Quinn, may not prove powerful enough to overcome the stress threatening to destroy Axandra’s fragile soul.

About the Author:

Elizabeth N. Love is a native Kansas who grew up on the prairie in rural small towns. From a very young age she enjoyed creating stories and poems and practices daily in the art of wordsmithing. She also enjoys other forms of art, such as drawing and making music. She is currently finishing Book Two in this series, as well as working on a paranormal romance, a non-fiction narrative, and a new sci-fi novel based on an alternate past. She lives near Kansas City with her family.

Connect with Elizabeth!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Elizabeth-N-Love-Author/586497788065264

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bee_writerbee

Amazon Author: www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-N.-Love/e/B00JRM567O

Blog: http://writerbeeblog.wordpress.com/

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/beelove

SPOTLIGHT ON – Jason Zandri at Book Viral – Another Sunset

Recently, Another Sunset was reviewed “In the Spotlight” over at Book Viral. As part of the introduction to my first work of fiction, Another Sunset, I will offer up the story synopsis and then the link to the write up (with the full text below):

David Stephenson is a kind drifter who comes to settle in the small Texas town of Westville. His sense, empathy, and awareness are well received by the residents of the failing town as they welcome and befriend him. During his stay he helps a small local girl try to realize her dream and while doing so excites and energizes the whole town to help out. Lives change as fate takes a critical turn. The local would-be reporter, tasked by David’s longtime friend, takes off on a mission to unravel the mystery of his travels, where he came from, and discovers why he is on his journey.

Presently, the full review can be found via http://bookviral.com/another-sunset/4587820708

The full text of the write up (beyond the synopsis) is:

A delightfully perceptive and compelling tale, Another Sunset is the debut novel from author Jason Zandri. A novel that weaves the significant and trivial into an enthralling narrative that is far from prescriptive. There’s no pretense to Zandri’s prose, with a time worn familiarity that makes his tale hard to put down, but it’s in the complexity that underpins his plot that the real story prevails. This is a tale where the past, present and future fuse together to create a beguiling mystery. A tale about perception that doesn’t conform to a linear script and it’s this element that Zandri has shrewdly captured. The drama is well pitched, the intrigue simmers throughout, but the foibles that resonate through an eclectic host of characters and Zandri’s fine ear for dialogue keeps it authentic and adds to the complexity that underpins his plot. More than anything else, it’s this that keeps the pages turning as the shards of mystery come together with Zandri delivering an inspired denouement.

An excellent debut and one that demands your attention Another Sunset certainly deserves a place on your ‘must read’ list and is strongly  recommended.

Another Sunset is available via my website for the book – http://www.zandri.net/anothersunset.htm

Jason Zandri on Twitter
Jason Zandri on Facebook
Jason Zandri website
Jason Zandri on Goggle

An introduction to you of myself

My name is Jason Zandri and you barely have to look past a search engine to find me. I’ve been online such a long time (I personally predate Windows 95) that my name is everywhere. If you can’t find me by name you can search out my online alias “GUNDERSTONE” – if you see that name somewhere, it’s highly likely that it’s me “behind the moniker.”

I have been writing creatively since I was fifteen (so that’s 30 plus years now – I’ll be 46 in May of 2015). Other than blogs about my hometown and two technical books from over a decade ago, I am relatively new to formal writing. My most recent work of fiction is “Another Sunset” which I will introduce in a future blog post.

I work in the Information Technology field since 1998 (you know, the pesky job that pays the mortgage and the other bills) and have worked for the likes of CSC and Microsoft. I am currently employed full time as a systems engineer in the R&D group at Bloomberg LP in New York City.

I am a lifelong resident of Wallingford, Connecticut where I own a home filled with my wife, my four kids (ages ten to five as I write this), our puppy Belle, as well as my mother in law and my brother in law (for this half of the year anyway).

I am looking forward to interacting with my readers and fans here as well as via Twitter (where I do most of my book follow up) but I am more than happy to have you engage me wherever.

Feel free to connect with me on Facebook via my author page at https://www.facebook.com/jzandri

You can FOLLOW me on Twitter via https://twitter.com/gunderstone

You also can ADD me to your circles on Google+ via https://plus.google.com/+JasonZandri/

Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to introduce myself. If you’re feeling so inclined feel free to introduce yourself to me in the comments section.