Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Gift a Book! (36 Books Worth Giving)

Okay the holidays are here and we are scrambling for those gifts which our loved ones will cherish.  The problem is, most of us have a limited budget and those we buy for already have most of what we can afford.  So think outside the box and start looking between the pages. 
Books are wonderful gifts that give far beyond the holidays. Though, choosing a good book can be tricky.  Most of the time we go along with the lists thrown at us by the bestselling charts, but we aren’t always be confident the recipient will enjoy it or doesn’t already have it. 
So in the spirit of helping you out, I have compiled a list of some of my favorite books (grown up, young adult and children).  Some are well known and some are not.  I have tried my best to give you a brief synopsis (some copied from their Amazon ads and some are my own take).   I have also provided a link to the Amazon page as well as pricing, to make things a little easier.  I used Amazon because I find they tend to have the best pricing, but most of these books are available with other retailers as well.
I wouldn’t be an author if I didn’t include a few of my own titles, but I did limit it to five.  J  I strongly encourage you to include your own suggestions in the comments, for others (myself included) to enjoy. 
Thank you all for being a part of my page this year and I hope many more.  I wish you all a very merry Christmas, happy holidays (however you celebrate them), and a wonderful new year!
Grown up Reads
The Shack by William Paul Young ($20.67 hardcover, $7.20 paperback, & $6.64 Kindle) If you can find someone who hasn’t read this book, then it is a must have.  Mackenzie Allen Phillips's youngest daughter has been abducted during a family vacation, and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later, in this midst of his great sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change his life forever. (Good for anyone who enjoys mystery, as well as emotional and spiritual tone reading.)
Unchanged by Christy Elkins ($12.56 paperback & $0.99 Kindle) A mutilating disease spreads rapidly across the world, changing most of mankind. Misti longs to find a solution, before it’s too late.  Will she be able to discover a truth which offers healing, or will she simply see that change is inevitable? There will always be those who resist . . . (Good for those who enjoy apocalyptic science fiction, action and mild romance.)
Lilac Hill by Christy Elkins ($8.96 paperback & $0.99 Kindle) Daniel Hardfield is tortured by his past and present. When a horrific murder occurs, he is forced to unravel the truth in a twisted tale of mystery, and deception. Each passing moment is the difference between staying alive and death. What happens when the one thing you fear, truly is fear itself? (Good for those who enjoy psychological thrillers.)
The Goddess Saga by Maria Hammarblad (Paperbacks are under $10 & Kindle under $5) The Goddess series by Maria Hammarblad are wonderfully creative.  A Goddess meets a mortal and falls in love.  They travel the vast realms of space and have wild, nail biting adventures. (Suited for anyone on your list who enjoys science-fiction, fantasy, mythology, or romance.)
Embarkment Series By Maria Hammarblad (Paperbacks are under $10 & Kindle under $5) The Emarkment series by Maria Hammarblad are wonderfully energetic.  An unlikely love between an android and a human; will take you on the edge of your seat adventure. (Suited for anyone on your list who enjoys science-fiction, fantasy, action, or romance.)   
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen ($13.12 paperback & $9.99 Kindle) In a garden surrounded by a tall fence, tucked away behind a small, quiet house in an even smaller town, is an apple tree that is rumored to bear a very special sort of fruit. In this luminous debut novel, Sarah Addison Allen tells the story of that enchanted tree, and the extraordinary people who tend it.… (Good for anyone who enjoys magical elements, fantasy, drama and mystery.) 
The Help by Kathryn Stockett ($10.79 paperback & $9.99 Kindle)   Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step to come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times; and sometimes lines are made to be crossed. (Beautifully written.  Good for those who enjoy stories which are moving, funny and just.)
Loves Music Loves to Dance by Mary Higgins Clark ($7.19 paperback & $6.39 Kindle) New York's trendy magazines are a source of peril when a killer enacts a bizarre dance of death, using the personal ads to lure his victims... (Good for anyone who enjoys mystery, thrillers & suspense.)
Silent Night by Mary Higgins Clark ($6.29 paperback & $5.98 Kindle) The "Queen of Suspense," has crafted a very special holiday story about a child's courage in the face of danger, and the power of love. Charged with menace and thrilling suspense, it is the #1 New York Times bestselling author's gift to readers for all seasons. (Suited for those who enjoy suspense, mystery and thrillers…could also be read by those 12 & up in my opinion.)
The Mound by Cullan Hudson & Marilyn A. Hudson ($13.50 paperback & $7.99 Kindle) When a group of strangers converge on an old hotel in a sleepy eastern Oklahoma town to investigate its haunted reputation, no one is prepared for the terror they are about to face. (For those who enjoy paranormal, haunting reads with psychic elements.)
The Hot Flash Club by Nancy Thayer ($12.50 paperback & $9.99 Kindle)  A wise, wonderful, and delightfully witty “coming of age” novel about four intrepid women who discover themselves as they were truly meant to be: passionate, alive, and ready to face the best years of their lives. (I read this book before I was even close to being in this club and still loved it. Good for women who enjoy laughing.)
Stick a Geranium in Your Hat and Be Happy by Barbara Johnson ($11.47 paperback & $7.99 Kindle) Boomerang blessings.  That's what Barbara Johnson calls the encouraging feedback she has received over the years from readers whose lives have been impacted by the message of this million-copy bestseller. If you need a fresh breath of joy in your life, this book is just the prescription for you. (Good for anyone who needs a laugh in the face of adversity.  This book is almost a self-help guide for showing you how to change your perspective when things aren’t their brightest.)

The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian ($13.52 Hardcover, $10.73 paperback & $9.99 Kindle) Bestselling author Stormie Omartian inspires women to develop a deeper relationship with their husbands by praying for them. This encouraging resource is packed with practical advice on praying for specific areas of a husband's life. (Good for married women of any age.)
Thinner by Stephen King ($7.19 paperback & $5.99 Kindle) When an old Gypsy man curses Billy Halleck for sideswiping his daughter, six weeks later he's 93 pounds lighter. Now Billy is terrified. And desperate enough for one last gamble...that will lead him to a nightmare showdown with the forces of evil melting his flesh away. (Good for those who enjoy horror and suspense.)
The Stand by Stephen King ($13.59 & $6.99 Kindle) Stephen King’s apocalyptic vision of a world blasted by plague and tangled in an elemental struggle between good and evil remains as riveting and eerily plausible as when it was first published. (Good for those who enjoy apocalyptic science fiction, suspense, and horror.)
Under the Beetle’s Cellar by Mary Willis Walker ($5.49 paperback & ebook not available) I have to admit this one took me a little bit to get into but once I did I really enjoyed it.  I thought it was going to be a conspiracy theory type situation and I was prepared to be bored but it was actually about an Austin school bus driver and eleven of his young charges being held underground by a religious cult for forty-six days.  It was both nail biting, and tear jerking.  You can’t help but silently root for the driver and kids in this suspenseful tale.  (Good for those who enjoy suspense.)
The Thief of Life Series:  The Chronicles of Daniela by Christi Anna (Paperbacks under $20 & ebooks under $10 most are $0.99) Obviously I am not much of a romance reader, going through my list I suppose I enjoy suspense most of all, but this is a nice romantic series.  It is a vampire themed adventure but not in the usual sense.  These vampires feed on your emotional energy rather than your blood.  The story and characters are easy to get “sucked” into, and I thoroughly enjoyed them.  (Good for those who enjoy paranormal romance.)
No Time for Goodbye by Linwood Barclay ($7.19 paperback & $5.99 Kindle) Fourteen-year-old Cynthia woke one morning to discover that her entire family–mother, father, brother–had vanished. No note, no trace, no return. Ever.  Now, twenty-five years later, she’ll learn the devastating truth.  (Suitable for those who enjoy suspense and mystery.)
Young Adult
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Books range from under $12 for hardcover, under $12 paperback, under $10 Kindle & Under $25 for box sets) Okay, so by now most people know about these books, but just in case you have a reader on your list who has missed one or all of these books, they are a wonderful action adventure to add to anyone’s collection.  (Ages 12 & up)
Bruiser by Neal Shusterman ($13.60 Hardcover, $8.99 paperback, & $8.00 Kindle) There's a reason why Brewster can't have friends—why he can’t care about too many people. Because when he cares about you, things start to happen. Impossible things that can’t be explained.  (Wonderful coming of age from a male perspective also has elements of mystery. Ages 12 & up)
Parallel by Christy Elkins ($9.95 paperback & $0.99 Kindle) Everything in Luha's world suddenly changes as she discovers that nothing is what she thought. In order to truly understand, she must let go of all prejudice, and come to terms with the deepest secrets in her own heart. What does the future really hold? Is there life after death? Luha asked herself these very same questions; but the answers she found exceeded any comprehendible reality.  (Coming of age story. Ages 14 & up)
Violet Rains Almost Got Struck by Lightening by Danette Haworth ($13.03 hardback, $6.29 paperback, & $4.61 Kindle) Violet’s world is turned upside down when Melissa moves to town from big city Detroit. All of a sudden Violet’s supposed to want to wear makeup, and watch soap operas, and play Truth or Dare! It’ll take the help of Violet’s friends, her Momma, a few run-ins with lightning, and maybe even Melissa, for Violet to realize that growing up doesn’t have to mean changing who you are. (Lovely coming of age story, Ages 8 & up.)
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold ($15.72 Hardcover, $11.26 paperback, & $6.64 Kindle) "My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973." Out of unspeakable tragedy and loss, THE LOVELY BONES succeeds, miraculously, in building a tale filled with hope, humor, suspense, even joy. (Coming of age.  Ages 14 & up)
Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen ($11.26 Hardcover, $8.09 paperback & $6.99 Kindle)  This is a classic romantic comedy reflecting a series of misunderstandings and missed opportunities. But underlying the humor are two teens in transition. They are each learning to look beyond the surface of people, both figuring out who they are, who they want to be, and who they want to be with. (Coming of age.  Ages 10 & up)
Noah’s Mark by Lisa Whitherspoon & Christy Elkins ($13.39 paperback & $4.99 Kindle) Noah's Mark is a refreshing children's book that promotes self-acceptance and confidence.  A portion of the proceeds received on the purchase of this book will be donated to Nevus Outreach, Inc.  (Wonderful children’s book that also gives to charity…two gifts in one.)
Aspen by Christy Elkins  ($14.40 paperback & ebook not available) Aspen is a flower who desperately wants to be a tree. Once she surrenders her own desire for the sake of another, she learns that a little faith can go a long way. (Children’s book.)
Farmyard Beat by Lindsey Craig ($12.64 hardcover, $6.29 boardbook, & $5.98 Kindle) As soon as the sun goes down, the animals are up! ("Sheep can't sleep. Sheep can't sleep. Sheep can't sleep 'cause they got that beat!") Before long, there's a giant farmyard dance party, complete with funny animal sounds. But what happens when all the racket wakes up Farmer Sue? (Perfect for toddler and preschooler read-alouds.)
Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park (These books range from $15 to $4 for both paper back and ebook and about $85 for a box set) There are several books in this series and I for one adore them.  There are mixed reactions among other mother’s I’ve known who’ve read them though.  I find them funny and charming, but some mom’s think Junie is simply naughty.  To me she has a colorful way of seeing the world and is honest in her reactions.  Super fun to read for both grown-ups and kids. (Children’s book 4 & up.)

Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday by Silver Burdett ($14.70 Hardcover, $7.75 paperback, & $6.99 Kindle) Last Sunday, Alexander's grandparents gave him a dollar -- and he was rich. There were so many things that he could do with all of that money! (Fun children’s book that is good for readers of all ages.)

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein ($15.63 hardcover w/ CD & $11.35 Kindle) "Once there was a tree . . . and she loved a little boy." So begins a story of unforgettable perception, beautifully written and illustrated by the gifted and versatile Shel Silverstein.  (A beautiful gift for any age.)

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein ($15.06 hardcover, & ebook not available) Shel Silverstein's masterful collection of poems and drawings is at once outrageously funny and profound. (Fun, creative children’s book of poetry, good for all ages.)

Falling Up by Shel Silverstein ($15.33 hardcover & ebook not available) Another humorous book of poetry;  cheeky, clever and often darkly subversive, the poems are vintage Silverstein, presented in a black-and-white format that duplicates his earlier books. Silverstein's cartoons and poems are humorously seditious, often giving voice to a child's desire to be empowered or to retaliate for perceived injustice. (Children’s book of poetry, good for all ages.)
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein ($15.25 hardcover & ebook not available) “A genius ... his is an enduring influence which resonates beyond words.  Rare to find an adult who can still think like a child.” ---The New York Times (Children’s book of poetry, good for all ages.)
Edna’s Tale by Lisze Bechtold ($24.00 hardcover & ebook not available) Edna has the longest, most fantastically fluffy tail in the neighborhood. It is a sight to behold. Proud of her tail — very proud of it — Edna heads out to the neighborhood party to show it off to the new cat, who is rumored to have a fantastic tale himself. (Fun children’s book.  Ages 5 to 8)
What Will Fat Cat Sit On by Jan Thomas ($11.03 Hardcover & $9.99 Kindle) What will Fat Cat sit on? The pig? (Oink!) The chicken? (Cluck!) How about the dog? (Grrrr.)  This book is fun to read and sure to make your little ones giggle.  (Children’s book Ages 8 and under)
Can You Make a Scary Face by Jan Thomas ($10.33 Hardcover & ebook not available) This exuberant, interactive picture book starring a bossy little ladybug and a GIANT hungry frog will have kids leaping up and down and out of their seats to dance and make silly scary faces of their own. (Children’s book Ages 8 and under.)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Girly Boy Book

I have always been very open about my faith.  I am first and foremost a Christian. What does that mean to me?  It means I believe with all my heart in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  I believe Jesus was born to a virgin, died on a cross and brought back to life, the son of God and savior of mankind.
However, I purposely remain vague on big issues.  I often get criticism, head shakes and frowning faces for not taking stances on issues like gay marriage, abortion, suicide, or whatever others may find morally incomprehensible. 
Today I am telling you very openly what my stance is:  I don’t have one.  Who am I to judge?  I am by no means perfect and life is full of color not just black, white and shades of grey (50 or otherwise).  My job here on earth is very clear to me.  God put me here to be an encourager.  How is that possible if I am busy pointing out the faults of another? 
I want to show you something:

I don’t see homosexuality, depression, confusion, or even murder listed.  Nor do I see a place for my name, stating it is my job to persecute anyone. 
Our society is big at finger pointing, and decision making.  We are all consumed by who is right and wrong.  Let me share something else to put this in perspective:
Innocent little story book, right?  Well, I thought so, but I guess by those ever oppressing eyes I was wrong.
Recently I worked a book fair at a grade school.  It was wonderful to see children of all ages excited about reading.  A little boy in kindergarten brought me this very book and asked how much it was.  I knew he didn’t have the money for it, but I got down on my knee and studied the book with him to find the price.  It wasn’t my job to ask him why he wanted it, or what about it made him so happy.  Nor was it my job to redirect him to a more “masculine” genre.  I do have to admit I giggled a little inside, only because his excitement was infectious.
Anyway,  I was getting ready to help him put it on his wish list, so he could tell his parents how much to send the next day, but before I was able the librarian walks by and snatches it out of his hand and says “You don’t want that book!”
I was more than shocked, yet he didn’t seemed phased, “Okay,” he replied and was off to find another book.  I’m sure my jaw was still agape when I looked to her in protest, “We were going to write it on his wish list.”  She just rolled her eyes, shook her head and walked away. 
First how did she know why he was excited?  Maybe he wanted it as a gift, maybe he is surrounded by sisters and recognized it, or maybe he just really LOVES Barbie.  I don’t know and furthermore I don’t care. He WAS EXCITED…about a BOOK!
Why would anyone find it in their heart to look at a kindergartener with such shrewdness?  Are we not here to inspire, reassure and nurture the children who own our future?  I wondered if she would have reacted the same way if a girl had a book on Hot Wheels.  I am not judging her, maybe her reaction was for a far less sinister reason and I imposed my own feelings on her; reading too much into her abrupt rude behavior, (I doubt it, but it is possible).
Like I said, it is not my place to judge, discourage, or ridicule another.  My journey consist of loving those around me, raising my children to be kind, hardworking individuals, to highlight the beauty I see in the world and to maybe write a book or two along the way.  But sometimes, I feel it is also my job to underline an injustice, to point out something which should be corrected for the sake of those it hurts.  My little enthusiastic reader was in no way harming anyone and should have been allowed to enjoy his book and view the world through the eyes God gave him, not those forced upon him.
I am no different from anyone else, there are days I am conflicted about what I perceive as right or wrong, but I am not conflicted about the innocence of children.   
FYI The little boy later returned to me with Enchanted Fairytales (another “feminine” book) and I quickly wrote it on his wish list before anyone could say anything.  I also offered to put the Barbie book on his list while I was at it, but he grinned and put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Nah, I already have that one.”
“Bring unto me the little children; do not hinder them from coming to me, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.”
~ Matthew 19:14

Monday, October 14, 2013

Garden Spells Book Review

Garden Spells  by Sarah Addison Allen is by far one of the best books I have read in a long time.  I
read it in only two days, and had my children not been home I would have finished it in one.    This book was unexpectedly given to me by my friend (Angel Elizabeth) who I will forever more call “My Evanelle”, after a character in the story who gives many things to others.  This for me was a gift of optimism, joy and inspiration.

The plot is very reminiscent of Practical Magic but is brimming with diversity and experience.  None of the magical elements feel absurd and you find yourself enveloped in all the happenings as if actually standing in the middle of them. 
The characters in the story are well developed and you quickly become attached and entangled in their lives and feelings.  Often when authors create a diverse cast I find myself bored with one or two of the storylines and anxious to get to my favorites, but I was excited for each and every one of these.   I found myself laughing, crying, and gasping with fear and shock.   
I love the author’s writing style and am extremely anxious to read The Sugar Queen, which was also given to me by My Evanelle.  Thank you Angel Elizabeth for introducing me to works by Sarah Addison Allen, I am a huge fan now and I hope many more will read and enjoy Garden Spells as I did.

*Special Note:  While researching all the added links, I found Ms. Allen is offering a FREE pre-order download to her upcoming book Waking Kate, which will be released January 7, 2014. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Flashback Review

It seems like forever since I have posted anything new.  I hoped life would slow down a bit once the kids started school, but if anything it seems things have sped up. 

I finally finished Flashback by Maria Hammarblad,  but don’t let the time it took me diminish the book in anyway.   As I said, life has been chaos since the move.    That being said, here is my review for Flashback and my strong encouragement to read anything and everything written by Hammarblad. 
Happy reading my friends!
Flashback by Maria Hammarblad is another exciting adventure.  I applaud Hammarblad’s effort at giving the reader an up close look at “Posttraumatic Stress Disorder” and how devastating it can be, not only for the victim, but also for anyone close to them.
The story of Steve and Anna begins as an accidental meeting which turns into an unlikely love affair.  The story plods on with drunken episodes and bad dreams, but just when you think the tale has met its calm, a thrilling adventure begins in a shocking twist.
I have to say this was not my favorite Hammarblad book, as I am extremely fond of her Goddess books and Embarkment series, and let’s just face it Hammarblad is Science-Fiction GOLD!  However, this story is certainly worth reading.   As an author, I find myself second guessing my own talent every time I read anything written by Maria Hammarblad.  Her ability to draw you into character emotion is paralleled by no other and her flawless style paints a scene so clearly you can feel it. 
I encourage you to check out Flashback or any of Maria Hammarblad’s publications.  If you love action, romance and excitement, you won’t be disappointed.  I can almost bet you will become a HUGE fan, just as I am. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Thoughts on Publishing & a New Cover!

The debate over self-publishing vs. traditional publishing wages on, leaving many comparison lists in its wake.  Pros and cons of each side giving hazy logic for why one is better than the other accumulate, littering the internet with even more minefields for self-doubt and confusion. 
The self-published author struggles to feel validated, respected and taken seriously; while the traditionally published author struggles with much of the same.  Each demands a thick skin against harsh criticism and low sales in a vast market. 
While you are being bombarded and slammed by the thoughtless comments about your “hobby” and inquiries about your “real job”, remember our profession, if done correctly, requires a tremendous amount of work and dedication, regardless of how it is distributed. 
I have publications in both traditional/mainstream publishing, as well as indie and I am completely satisfied.  Just like anything, there are draw backs, as well as rewards in both circulations you just have to stay vigilant.  Always do your homework before signing anything and never pay anyone to publish your work, (vanity press is something I will speak against).  So don’t let it get to you, just continue to breath and write.
Okay onto fun stuff.  I am getting ready to launch another children’s book (indie style).  So today I give you a cover reveal for Aspen!  Hope you have a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

More Chances to Win!

Goodreads is hosting a giveaway for a copy of my book Lilac Hill!  You can enter July 29th through August 29, 2013. 
I will also be hosting a giveaway on my Facebook Author page for anyone who shares the link to the Goodreads contest on their Facebook page.  
Two chances to win!   Good luck and happy reading! 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Quick Summer Read

This summer has been incredibly busy.  I haven’t had much time to write, read or do much of anything I want.  Don’t get me wrong, I am having a blast enjoying my children and family, but if you are a writer or reader, you will understand when I say, I miss books!
I was lucky enough to stumble onto a short story the other day, which I was highly excited about.  I thought it was manageable and I could get a quick fix if nothing else; and hey it only took my three or four days to find the time to look at it.  So last night I got my opportunity.  I’d met my publishing deadline, and though I still have other projects waiting, several books to dive into, and a pile of laundry, I thought, tonight is the night for “The Collector” by Terri Wallace.
I am so glad I did!  This was a fantastic and enjoyable read.  My only criticism is that it was too short.  I would love to have read this as a full length script, rather than a short story.  That being said, I was highly impressed with Wallace’s ability to draw you into the characters so rapidly.  Her use of language and tone swiftly stirred emotion; painting a sometimes disturbing world.
The personalities were easy to connect with, both good and bad, and you really got a taste for how the main character, Junie, absorbed the world around her.  There were several hair raising moments, which I personally love, as well as tearful winces.  The story line is thick with honesty, depth, and a mysterious rhythm you can’t help but crave.
Book Excerpt:
“It took me a while to learn the power of secrets.  Not havin’ secrets yourself, of course, but knowin’ someone else’s.  It’s like carvin’ out a piece of their soul and carryin’ it around with you.  You can either choose to keep it safe, or you can tear it to pieces and scatter it to the winds – your choice.”   ~Junie
“The Collector” by Terri Wallace, is available as an eBook, on Amazon for only $0.99.  It is well worth your time.  I positively recommend it, and highly encourage the author to write more! 

Amazon Book Blurb:
When ten year old Junie Rae Campbell wakes up in the parking lot of a seedy motel, and her mother is found dead inside, she has no choice but to go with the social worker who comes to collect her and take her to the tiny, sunbaked Oklahoma town of Crankston’s Landing to live with Granny Enid. But when lies and lechery threaten Junie and the people she has latched onto, secrets are exposed, untapped abilities reemerge…and a weapon for vengeance is born.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"Mama always had a way of explaining things so I could understand them."

Life is wonderful, but I was thinking how tuff it can be for young people.  I often wonder how we as parents can make life easier for our children.  Not ready made easy; more along the lines of preparedness.  That magnificent thing we all need, yet often lack the skill set for, without experience.
Some of you are thinking finance classes, self-defense training, etc., and yes those are all very important, but again not exactly what I had in mind.  We can give our children everything, teach them how to do anything, but what do we ingrain in them?  Do we force them into situations at an early age, which challenge their coping skills?  Is it cruel to send a teenager to a movie theater on their own, just once, so they learn to enjoy their own company and not see being alone as a social defect?  Do we ever honestly say, ‘no honey that wasn’t your best art work/tumble/singing’, just so they know every little thing they do isn’t perfection?
I’m certainly not suggesting we berate our children, or isolate them to the point of cruelty.  I’m just considering the extent of our coddling.  I want my children to be full of confidence, I think we all do, but I also want them to be self-sufficient.  I want them to know they are capable of working harder, being alone, and being different.   There is beauty in self-reliance, in comprehending that every “No” we get isn’t the end all of our hopes and dreams. 
People are excessively different from one another.   Diversity is another exquisite gift our world offers.  It is unrealistic to think everyone will “get it”.  We certainly don’t all agree.  So if my little Picasso finger paints a brown rainbow, I call it art, but their expectation shouldn’t be that everyone sees the value of their imagination.  If a critic came a long and called it less than appealing, my child should possess the grace and confidence to understand it as an opinion and nothing more. 
There shouldn’t be fear involved in putting ourselves out there, yet it is lurking in our minds every day.  When we should be impervious to ridicule, or comment, it often cripples us instead.  Why?  Because we weren’t equipped with “It’s okay.”  It’s okay to be on my own!  It’s okay if you don’t understand or appreciate what I do!  I don’t do it for you!
Moms and Dads are the first tool any child has.  Some kids come into the world without a fighting chance, but those who are lucky enough to have parents who care and take the time to worry about things like this, have all the tools they need to be a successful person.  It’s not bad parenting to walk away, sometimes, when they struggle…to let them figure things out on their own.
Forrest Gump: “What’s my destiny, Mama?”
Mrs. Gump: “You’re gonna have to figure that out for yourself.”

If we don’t prepare our kids for what life is really like, or teach them to think for themselves, we haven’t saved them from anything.  We’ve just made the inevitable unmanageable, more intense and filled their minds with doubt.  I want all our children to walk with dignity, assurance, faith, conviction and independence.
“That’s all I have to say about that.” ~Forrest Gump

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Joy in the Blink of an Eye

Joy in the Blink of an Eye
Okay there isn’t a short way to share this story, so I will just lay it out in all its glory.  For those of you who don’t know, children truly do fill your life with joy and light.
My six year old, soon to be seven (and yes to him it is important to distinguish this fact), developed a pretty serious eye blinking problem a year or two back.  He has had on going learning hurtles, which he is steadily leaping over, but at that time the “eye blinking” was cause for worry. 
It was ruled out as a vision problem, so the question was had he developed a troubling habit or was it far more serious and an uncontrollable tick?  The teachers were concerned which had me nervous.  So like any neurotic mother I took him to the doctor. 
The physician a young, newly promoted from Physician’s Assistant, anxious to cure any and all oddities, determined it was a sign of turrets.  My son was to immediately undergo psych evaluation, among other things, (remember he is around 5).  My heart felt at war with my brain.  My desire to rescue my son from labeling, battled my knowledge of early detection is best.  My husband became the diplomatic party, ruling we would adopt a “wait and see” policy.
So we did, and after our own observations we noted it appeared that he blinked most often when he was nervous or anxious about something.  So we were mostly right, no need to over react, help him manage his stress, etc.
Okay, let me fast forward to present day, my son now a month from being seven is happy and well adjusted; making personal strides every day.  We have been playing outside on a hot summer day and came in for a pop cycle.  “Mom do you see spots when you come in?”
“Yeah, sometimes that happens when you’ve been out in the sun.”
He smiles as he takes his first bight of the cherry red treat, “Yep.  I can make it happen when I close my eyes too.”
I’m not thinking much about anything right now, just watching and enjoying him, then he demonstrates his talent and an instant flash to the “troubling eye blinking” races through my mind.  “Do you do this often?” I ask.
“Uh-hu, when I’m bored.”
“So that’s why you blink like that a lot?”
“Yeah, it’s like fireworks in there!”  He runs back out to play and I am left with the freeing gift, that my son gets bored easily, especially during school, homework or when he is getting a lecture from his parents.  :D
I am not saying any parent should “wait and see” if they have serious concerns for their children, please don’t mistake my words.  My heart is just full of love, joy, laughter and gratitude, which I wanted to share. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Natural Beauty or Media Beautiful?

The Monday morning rush began earlier than I wanted.  Not the same rush as those who have to get out in the real world, but the rush of my daughter’s thirty questions before I’ve brushed my hair or teeth; then the hurry of starting the laundry and the rest of the house work while she is eating breakfast and playing her games. 
Somehow the television escaped my attention, left over residual from the morning’s weather check.  As I scurried from room to room I could hear early morning shows and commercials screaming out countless things which are wrong with me.  Each of my steps began to feel heavier and heavier as I learn that not only is my weight, skin and hair beyond hope, but so are my nails, neck, eyelids, knees, ankles, lips, teeth, style…you name it, it’s wrong and needs help.  I clicked the boob tube off, eager for reprieve and hoping my daughter has only been focusing on her own immediate entertainment, rather than hearing the same abusive onslaught I have.
I’m finally back on task, leaned over the abyss known as my tub, where my 3 youngest children decided to go for a swim; yes, equipped with swim wear they had a grand time the night before, and now I am scrubbing the bubble residue.  My rear-end jiggling to its own beat, my feet thrashing about struggling to maintain my balance, and though I am out of ear shot from the constant beating my self-esteem was taking from the melodic flow of “helpful” media, the battering of its lashing is still in my subconscious bouncing around its reminders.
I am filled with self-loathing and wishful thinking, almost to the point of doing whatever necessary to obtain the “ideal” me.  But then a small voice inside me wondered, whose idea is it anyway?  It certainly isn’t mine, or my husband’s.  I should and do want to be pretty, but maybe not in the same sense the world sees attractiveness.  I want my husband to be proud of me, but if I am the beautiful that God has planned for me, then he will be.    
The beauty that God has placed for us begins on the inside and shines outwardly.  It is rare, genuine, and that which other’s refer to as “natural beauty”.  It is unmistakable and something I want for my children as well as myself.  It is not hard to obtain and doesn’t cost a dime.  When you are generous, compassionate and full of joy, you possess true beauty. 
Some of the most stunning women I’ve ever met where not cover girl material, they weren’t a size five and their skin wasn’t flawless, but to me and many others they were and are the epitome of elegance, and exquisiteness. 
I hope to one day come to grips with my body’s shortcomings and embrace what is truly there.  I pray to seek God’s idea of beauty rather than the media’s, and in doing so I hope to pass this desire on to my children when they seek beauty for themselves.

Reverse the negatives into positives!  It only takes three to feel better about yourself.  Don’t let others convince you that you are making excuses, because you are simply accentuating the positives and revealing the truth.

1.       You don’t have a super small waist line.  “I don’t need one, I am Momtastic!”
2.       Your hair is going gray!  “I earned it by caring for my loved ones and sharing my time with those in need.”
3.       Your skin is blotchy.  “Yeah, that sometimes happens when you laugh really hard!” 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Flashback Coming Soon!!!

I am super excited to have my favorite science-fiction author here to share her upcoming book Flashback.  I have read many of her books and was privileged enough to get a small peak at this one, which is very different from anything she has written so far.   Please welcome, award winning author Maria Hammarblad!

You’re too sweet! Thank you for having me, Christy. I’m happy to be here.
The Lovely Maria Hammarblad

Maria, thank you so much for agreeing to speak with me again, it is always a joy to have you.  As I mentioned, I got a small peak into your new book Flashback and though it is not science fiction, your attention grabbing style has me very eager to read more.   Could you share with us what prompted this book’s creation?

That’s a good question. I’d like to say I woke up one day and wanted to write about a war veteran, but the urge must have come from somewhere. I probably saw something on TV my subconscious mangled. My husband has the telly on at all times, and even if I think I’m not watching it probably sticks anyway.

Many of your books have characters who are heavy drinkers, but this poor guy has some pretty horrific memories he is trying to drown.  Without revealing too much, can you share with us a little about him and where your inspiration for a situation like this came from?

I do write a lot of drunks and people with problems. This guy has a reason for wanting to blur out the world, though. He was a prisoner of war and suffered severe torture. He had his fingernails pulled out, his teeth, all sorts of gruesome stuff. He has been through so much and his mind keeps replaying it over and over. He can’t seem to re-adapt to everyday life, and he is in a bad situation.

When it comes to inspiration for his situation, I blame my mom… Not in a bad way, I should hurry to say. When I grew up she was fascinated with the concentration camps of Nazi Germany and the forced labor camps of the Soviet Union. She borrowed piles of books at the library and gruesome details could slip out at the most unexpected times. I remember one time when we listened to a song on the radio and she told me the story about the violinist. He was so talented, and the Nazis pulled his fingernails out to make sure he’d never play again. At the time it didn’t mean much to me. Now when I’m an adult I see the full horror of it.

I read an article in your blog where you talk about a very real condition your character is afflicted by.  I too have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), and really appreciate the delicate manner in which you discussed this affliction.  Can you share with us a little about this and how you felt when you realized what you were really achieving with this book?

At first I just wrote and didn’t think much about it. When I presented the manuscript to my publisher, she said something like, “Oh, I didn’t expect you to write about PTSD.” I thought, “I write about the what-and-the-what now?”

Up until that point I had researched other aspects of the book. When I realized I didn’t make my hero’s problems up, I needed to learn more about PTSD. My book is a work of fiction and my hero is a figment of my imagination, but PTSD is real and can affect anyone.

I’ve noticed you are very keen at interpreting and conveying human emotion in your writing; which is one of the reasons I love your work so much, your characters are very relatable and easy to sympathize with.  Do you have any special training in psychology or are you drawing from personal experience?

Thank you! That means a lot to me! =)

No special training, it’s just me… I do my best not to portray people in black and white – no one is purely good or evil in real life – but I don’t know if it comes across or if it’s just in my mind.

It certainly comes across to the reader.  How long have you been a published author, traditional or otherwise?

I self-published my first efforts in 2010. Looking back the books weren’t ready, but it was a good learning experience. My first novel with a publishing house was released last year. It’s called Kidnapped, and it is a science fiction story about a girl abducted by mistake. She’s in way over her head.

What is your favorite part about going from indie to traditional?

The support. Working with professional editors isn’t always fun because they point out flaws, but it’s priceless. I have learned so much from the editors and other writers at Desert Breeze Publishing. I also enjoy having professional graphical artists creating covers for me. A good looking cover just appears and I don’t have to lift a finger!

Do you have any advice for hopeful writers out there?

Keep writing. You won’t always feel like it, but write anyway. No matter what you set out to do in life, some people will tell you that you can’t do it. Ignore them. The more you write, the better you’ll get.

Could you tell us when Flashback will be released and where we can get a copy?

Flashback will be released on June 21, as an e-book to begin with. It will be available on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, wherever you can think of. I’m fairly sure it will make it to paperback, but I don’t know the date for that just yet.

Thank you again Maria, as always it was an enormous pleasure having you here.   Ladies and gentlemen this has been a tremendous honor interviewing award winning author Maria Hammarblad and her upcoming book Flashback.  I look forward to reading the book in its entirety and bringing you a review.   

Meanwhile, you can pick up many of Ms. Hammarblad’s work at Dessert Breeze Publishing, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  Don’t forget to check out her very cool website for more venues, news on new releases, her blog and much more. 

Such an exciting cover!!!  Love it!

Blurb:Steve Petersen is a Very Troubled Man. Sole survivor of a Taliban POW camp, he often thinks only parts of him returned; his sanity appears to have been left behind. He seeks solace in alcohol and drugs, but nothing helps block the images from his mind for more than minutes at a time, and he is trapped in horrifying flashbacks.

He is more than surprised when he wakes up in a bright and merry bedroom that turns out to belong to the widow Anna, a woman he has rudimentary memories of meeting. Knowing he should leave isn't the same as doing it, and before he knows what's happening, he finds himself pulled into a world with real life problems, such as folding laundry, and what's for dinner.

Whiskey is no longer his first priority, and not being alone in his waking nightmare is a relief. That is, until Anna disappears. Steve finds himself forced to return to Afghanistan, a place where he'll have to face both external enemies and himself.