Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Book Review: The Staying Organized Survival Guide

Learn To STAY ORGANIZED Without Even Thinking About It

Give me 15 minutes a day for 30 days and I'll show you how to STAY organized

Do you get home from work to be greeted by clutter central? Are you hiding an ugly mess behind closed doors and drawers? Are you frustrated when you can't find what you need when you need it? Are you embarrassed by the disorganization when an unexpected visitor drops by?

You may have tried to get organized. You may even have succeeded with a mad purge one weekend. But if it all unravels after a few days or weeks, you need to try something different. 

Your Excuses:

I don't know how to organize everything perfectly. 

So don't - I give you permission to organize imperfectly and to do anything rather than nothing.

I don't have the time to make a difference. 

Large chunks of time are not required, just 15 minutes a day.

I don't know where to start. 

Pick anywhere - it doesn't matter. Follow my 'hot spot' trail for a super fast approach to getting started.

I've got no money to get organized. 

You don't need any. Stop window-shopping for storage bins and organizers and take action instead.

I'm overwhelmed. I'll never get it all done. 

No, you won't, but getting organized is a journey, not a destination. With my 15 minutes a day system, you will make progress and that is what you should be aiming for.

The Solution:

Follow 'The Staying Organized Survival Guide: Organizing Your Home & Getting Rid Of Clutter In Just 15 Minutes A Day' to get the organizing habit!

It will stir you into action with plenty of 'kick start tasks' to set you on the path towards maintainable home organization.
  • Spend 15 minutes per day for just 30 days - that doesn't sound too bad does it?

  • Implement the simple, but crucial, techniques to establish organizing as a habit.

  • Start somewhere small with 'hot spots' that really bug you.

  • Be amazed at how your small successes motivate you to carry on.

  • Learn how to stay on track even if you hit a bump in the road.

After 30 days, you will have established the organizing habit which will make your life easier. Staying organized will have become like cleaning your teeth - automatic, with no willpower required.


THIS IS JUST A BOOK FOR ME! I've been wanting to learn how to organize things and this book definitely helped me organizing my time and especially the things happening around the house. I'm such a sucker for being organized and this is really something you guys should totally read. The approach is very simple and easy to learn. I never really knew I'd learn and enjoy on reading this book. It's a great book that you should not definitely miss!


Book Review: Silver: Archeron

Silver: Acheron
by Keira Michelle Telford

Genre – Science Fiction

Dishonorably discharged from the Hunter Division and banished for crimes she did not commit, Silver struggles to come to terms with her new prison-like surroundings: a segregated area of the city called the Fringe District, populated by murderers, thieves and rapists. Starving, and desperate for money, she reluctantly accepts the Police Division’s invitation to enroll in a covert Bounty Hunter program: an initiative devised to infiltrate the criminal underworld of the Fringers, and to force the very worst warrant dodging law-breakers to meet their fate—death.
Unfortunately, Silver doesn’t realize that the Police Division is about to up the ante. They need more than little snippets of information and arrests—they need someone to pull the trigger.They need an executioner

***Content advisory: Contains graphic language and violence.***


I have nothing better to say to this book but just WOW! I've never read much of SciFi but this book just stands out among the rest. It's told with a very distinct voice that you will definitely love and will forever remember. I've been reeling with the feeling for sometime now! If you have a chance to read this book I suggest that you read it immediately! It's a must read. If you love it don't tell me I didn't told you so!


Book Review: The Generosity of Strangers

The Generosity of Strangers
by Thomas E Antonaccio

Genre – Children’s NonFiction / History – Europe
The Generosity of Strangers: When War Came to Fornelli is written in first person, free verse, and consists of a series of vignettes chronicling the real life experiences of a young girl and her family in war-torn Italy in the 1940s. The story is set in the town of Fornelli–a tiny hilltop community in Italy’s mountainous heart.
For Lucia and her family, life in Fornelli is anything but boring. Life is difficult, yet tranquil. But soon the war comes, and life in Fornelli is tranquil no more.
The Generosity of Strangers: When War Came to Fornelli is a true accounting from the eyes of Lucia, about faith, hope, and courage in the midst of war and its aftermath. It poetically conveys how even in desperate times people can open their hearts and rise above adversity.


The Generosity of Strangers is a MUST READ! It's about a girl, Lucia -- a very innocent child. It's an instant page turner that everybody should read. I was touched with the characters on how believeable and charming they portray. I really enjoyed reading this book. It's just simple and easy to read. If you haven't read this book I recommend you to read this one soon!


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Interview with Michelle Hughes

If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future? Definitely into the past, I’ve never felt really comfortable in the present.  The 14th century and the Renaissance Era fascinate me.  In my mind I equate this time with all the beautiful art and see it as a time when creativeness had an overflowing of energy.
If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would you choose? Alexander Skarsgard, Barry Manilow, Anne Rice, Charlaine Harris, and JR Ward.  I doubt that I’d be able to speak during the dinner because these are my favorite celebrities.  I think I could enjoy just sitting down with them and soaking in all their knowledge.
If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you? A crate of books, writing tools, and a radio with lots of extra batteries.  I’m going to assume my island has tons of tropical fruits and fresh water and I could happily spend the rest of my life writing, reading, and listening to music.
What is one book everyone should read? You’re asking me to choose just one?  That’s a question I can’t answer, but I will say the one book that made the most significant change in my life was the Sleeping Beauty series by Anne Rice who wrote under a pen name for that series.  Being from a small rural town in Alabama, I never knew that people even considered this type of erotica, and it put me on a two year journey of research.
If you were a superhero what would your name be? That’s an easy question, Cara Faith Donovan.  I’ve dreamed I was her for over twenty years, and once she became immortal in my dreams to me no other superhero could compare.  She and Rafe were the reason I began writing, those dreams had a huge impact on my life obviously.
If you could have any superpower what would you choose? I would choose to be psychic.  I think if you have the ability to know what others are thinking, then any opportunity is open to you.  I’m sure that it has a downside as well, knowing what everyone is thinking would probably cause you to lose many fair-weather friends.  I also think with that power you could stop some of the horrible things that happen in this world.
What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Moose Tracks, and I wish that incredible flavor had never been created.  I can’t resist it, I walk down the grocery isle and try to avoid the frozen food delights because I know it’s just not a healthy choice, but I always fail.
If you could meet one person who has died who would you choose? I can’t say there are any famous people that have died that I mourn not meeting, but I would love to meet my far removed great grandfather and ask him what it was like living in Dublin, Ireland in the 1600′s.
What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Does coffee count as a food source?  I’m not a breakfast eater unless it’s a night.  I usually can’t make myself eat until after noon.  But we do a breakfast night once a week at my house and it’s usually bacon, egss, grits, and pancakes.
Night owl, or early bird? I was a Respiratory tech for seven years before staying home to write full time, and I worked the night shift.  It somewhat stuck with me.  I think and create better at night, but unfortunately with school aged children, I can’t give in to that desire.  My days start at five in the morning, so my night owl days are over until the summer.
One food you would never eat? Oysters!  The make me physically nauseated to look at and I have never understood why anyone would want to eat anything that resembled mucus.  I did however eat escargot once, and let me just say had I not been young and foolish that would not have happened either.
Pet Peeves? Rude people are my biggest pet peeve, and I go by the rule if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t speak.  Outside of that pet peeve, I have one other, and that’s authors who criticize other authors.  I think any author that does that is showing a lack of professional standards and should be drawn and quartered.  Okay not really that extreme, but they should respect the craft of others in their field.
Skittles or M&Ms? Definitely M&Ms, I’m a chocolate girl, and have never been big on fruity candies.  Of course Reese’s cups should have been added in there, because to me that is the ultimate candy choice.
Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. Because it may get me kicked out of the Bible Belt and I need all the resources I can muster up to prepare for my move!
Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?  My co-author, Karl Jones and myself, are working on the second book in the Forbidden Desires series.  We have five projects in the works for 2013 and it should be a very busy year.  I think we’ve got more ideas than we have time to write at the moment, but I’m excited about all of them.
What inspired you to want to become a writer? Dreams of Cara and Rafe are my soul inspiration for becoming a writer.  Rafe has been my muse since the age of fifteen, and he came into my life at a time when I was suffering great mental and physical anguish.  It was through his inspiration that I managed to survive those horrible years and I will always consider him my guardian because of it.
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published. My most rewarding experience came just recently when I actually had a bigger paycheck than my husband.  To understand that, you would have to know that my husband is very successful in money management, and it’s something I had never aspired to do.  He was just as pleased and now believes that there is more to writing that just a dreamers way of passing time.  We are very polar opposites, which I think gives our children a very balanced view of life.  He believes in only what he can see and I live in a fantasy world.
If you could jump in to a book, and live in that world.. which would it be? Outside of my Tears of Crimson books, that would be the world of Charlaine Harris.  I of course would be Sookie and Bill Compton would be a forgotten memory as I lived out the rest of my days with Eric Northman.  Sorry Bill, I think you’re great, but I love Eric.
What is your dream cast for your book? I actually did a Pinterest board for this and I would love to have Ian Somehalder, Alexander Skarsgard, and my cousin Candace LeRae.  I have no doubts that they could create a box office hit and it would be incredible to see this on the big screen.
What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen? I was reading Harlequin Romance novels at eight years old, and I can’t say there was just one favorite.  I loved all the happily-ever-after endings, and I think it might have given me a warped view about what relationships should be.  It took several years into my adult life to understand that you had to work to make any relationship last.
Is there a song you could list as the theme song for your book or any of your characters? I love the Way You Lie by Eminem and Rhianna.  It’s a very emotional, and disturbing song that speaks to the soul about the intensity of a relationship.  Leah and Rhett have this volatile passion and it just works with that song.  In the second book to this series, we are introduced to Alex, and he does balance things.
What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors? Pull on your big girl/boy pants and be prepared for hearing many things you don’t want to know about your work in the beginning.  The business of writing, especially as an indie author, is not an easy road and you should be prepared to work harder than you ever have in your life if you plan on succeeding.
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? New Orleans, because it’s the most incredible place on earth to me.  I was an air-force brat and I’ve travelled, but to me this place just calls to my soul.  The people, the excitement, the entertainment, it’s all one incredible package and I’ve never seen that anywhere else on earth.  When all of my children are grown, I hope to split my time between there and where I live now.  My husband refuses to leave Alabama or we’d be there already.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”? I wanted to be a country singer.  I started singing at three years old and pursued a music career in my early twenties.  I went on to perform at the Midnight Jamboree in Nashville and hosted a satellite talent show.  It wasn’t until I had my twins that I decided life on the road was not a place to raise a family.
If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play the lead role and why? First let me say that if they ever did that I hope I’ve already passed away.  There are things in my life that I would rather the entire world didn’t see.  But to answer your question, I guess Vanessa Hudgens would be the person I would choose.  I’m not sure why I find this young actress so fascinating, but she really impresses me.
How did you know you should become an author? I still question myself about that, and I have to say it’s because all these dreams in my mind needed an outlet.  Writing seems much better than spending an hour on a Shrinks couch every week.
What’s the craziest writing idea you’ve had? Last year I began having nightmares about the Illuminati and Blood Oaths and I came up with this crazy idea that I wanted to research all the celebrity deaths that had been hooked to Blood Oaths.  I gave the idea up when I started having nightmares about being killed for uncovering information the public wasn’t supposed to be aware of.  When I attempted to write anything on that story I became physically ill, so I took that as an indication to stop doing it.
What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you? Don’t give up and don’t let any negative person influence you to give up your dream.  That was actually the best advice I’ve ever been given because in the beginning there was a lot of negativity in my writing career.  In 2009 I honestly had no clue what I was doing and was having huge trouble with formatting and tenses.  Read enough bad reviews and you learn exactly what it is you’re doing wrong!  Those horrible reviews helped me even as I cried into my pillow about what a failure I was becoming.
I began researching my craft, and discovered how to fix the problems that were apparent in my writing.  Live and Learn!  Now I might still get the negative review, but at least (for the most part) it’s because they don’t agree with my characters.
Hidden talent? I’m not so sure it’s hidden, if you look hard enough.  But I’m a singer.  When I’m not writing, you can find me entertaining myself with karaoke in my free time.
Favorite Food? I have to be the strangest person for saying this, but I don’t have one favorite food.  It drove my mom crazy when I was younger because she fixed special dinners for us on birthdays.  I never cared what she made, as long as it didn’t contain onions, it was great.
Favorite Candy? Reeses Cups, and I force myself to only enjoy one a week.  After 40 you have to be a little more careful with the waist line.
What movie and/or book are you looking forward to this year? Breaking Dawn II, can’t wait to see the end of a great saga.  My teenager got me hooked on those books, and it’s something we enjoy doing together.  I think it’s going to be an incredible finale and I already have my tickets.
What was your favorite children’s book? Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss.  I still read this one to my youngest kids, and one of them is highly addicted to that book now as well.  I don’t know why I’ve always loved that book, but it makes me laugh.
Nickname? Growing up I had the nickname Boots, because I was really into western boots back in the day.  These days it’s Micci, which to be honest I really don’t like, but it’s kind of stuck.
How do you react to a bad review? I no longer cry my eyes out, so that’s a good thing.  I try not to read them these days.  One of the great things about having a co-author that reads reviews is I can spare myself the agony.
If you were a bird, which one would you be? I would be an Eagle.  Such a beautiful and strong creatures.  We have an Eagle’s nest close to our home and it’s so wonderful to watch them in flight.
If you were a super hero what would your kryptonite be? Negativity.  It destroys your soul and I try very hard to stay away from negative people.  Of course that isn’t always possible, but refusing to allow their thoughts to mix with mine is.
If you could have a signed copy of any novel what would it be and why? You have won one million dollars what is the first thing that you would buy? Property in New Orleans to turn into the Tears of Crimson Nightclub.  That has been my dream for many years, and I hope one day that it will become a reality.  New Orleans desperately needs a vampire bar.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Contemporary Romance
Rating – R
More details about the book
Connect with Michelle Hughes & Karl Jones on Facebook & Twitter

Monday, October 29, 2012

Book Feature: Treasure Me

Finalist, 2012 Next Generation Indie Awards
“Highly recommended” by The Midwest Book Review
Petty thief Birdie Kaminsky has arrived in Liberty, Ohio to steal a treasure hidden since the Civil War. She’s in possession of a charming clue passed down in her family for generations: Liberty safeguards the cherished heart.
The beautiful thief wants to go straight. She secretly admires the clue’s author, freedwoman Justice Postell, who rose above the horrors of slavery to build a new life in Ohio. According to family lore, Justice left South Carolina at the dawn of the Civil War. Heavy with child, she carried untold riches on her journey north. As Birdie searches for the treasure, she begins to believe a questionable part of the story: a tale of love between Justice and Lucas Postell, the French plantation owner who was Birdie’s ancestor.
If the stories are true, Justice bore a child with Lucas. Some of those black relatives might still live in town. Birdie can’t help but wonder if she’s found one—Liberty’s feisty matriarch, Theodora Hendricks, who packs a pistol and heartwarming stories about Justice. Birdie doesn’t know that an investigative reporter who has arrived in town will trip her up—as will her conscience when she begins to wonder if it’s possible to start a new life with stolen riches. Yet with each new clue she unearths, Birdie begins to discover a family history more precious than gems, a tradition of love richer than she could imagine.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Contemporary Fiction
Rating – PG13
More details about the author
Connect with Christine Nolfi on Facebook & Twitter

Interview with Christine Nolfi

If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future? The future. I adopted my children from the Philippines and am sweetly aware of how one good choice can alter lives. Besides, who wouldn’t want to glimpse their great- or great-great grandchildren?
If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would you choose? Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Oprah and Bill Gates. Bill probably wouldn’t attend unless Melinda was invited.
If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you? The complete works of Shakespeare, the Bible and enough protein drinks to last until a passing ship spotted a marooned writer.
What is one book everyone should read? The Bible for all the obvious reasons, if you’re so inclined. But also for an understanding of how theology—like mythology—influences literature.
If you were a superhero what would your name be? Honor. Feel free to draw your own conclusion.
If you could have any superpower what would you choose? The ability to raise human consciousness above the level of ignorance, avarice and hate.
What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Häagen-Dazs Rum Raisin. I hide it in the back of the freezer because I don’t like to share.
If you could meet one person who has died who would you choose? It would be a joy to meet Gandhi. But I’d take care not to tell him that relations between India and Pakistan are still troubling.
What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Cereal topped with fresh fruit. Pass the strawberries, please.
Night owl, or early bird? Early bird. On a perfect day, I begin writing by 5 A.M. and head to the gym by noon.
One food you would never eat? Only one? I’ll never eat snake or octopus. Add either to my sushi and I’m leaving the party.
Pet Peeves? People who rattle off problems but never suggest a solution. People who are rude to waiters or salespeople but have never hauled a platter of dishes or stood on a marble floor in heels while working the jewelry department. I’m a white gloves and party manners girl. I still try to reply to every reader kind enough to look me up on Twitter.
Skittles or M&Ms? M&Ms with peanuts.
What has most surprised you since beginning your publishing career? USA Today selected Treasure Me as one of the best of the Indies. I wouldn’t have known if a blogger hadn’t kindly sent mail. I was also pleasantly surprised when the book became a finalist in the 2012 Next Generation Indie Awards.
Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. Because you like books that make you laugh one moment and dab at your eyes the next.
Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?  Second Chance Grill, the next book in the Liberty series after Treasure Me, will be released in late October. I’m also midway through revisions of my fourth release, due out in early 2013.
What inspired you to become a writer? Honestly, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write. My late mother swore I began reading at age two. Having met toddlers, I find this hard to believe.
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published. Reading reviews by readers who’ve stumbled across my books. If that sort of validation doesn’t send you back to the computer to begin work on the next novel, nothing will.
If you could jump into a book, and live in that world … which world would it be?Harry Potter, first year at Hogwarts. I’m not sure I could stomach life at Hogwarts in later years when he-who-is-not-named began stirring the soup.
What is your dream cast for your book? Funny you should ask. Lately I’ve been deliciously tempted to send Treasure Me to Whoopi Goldberg and beg her to play Theodora in the movie. Not that I’ve sold the film rights, but still.
What was your favorite book when you were a child or teen? Peter Pan. I was utterly convinced I could fly. It’s a miracle I didn’t fall out of Bobby Cooper’s treehouse while trying to demonstrate my gifts to the neighbor kids. Interestingly, Bobby and I both reached adulthood soaring above the clouds—he flies F16s and I’m still floating through the imaginary world of stories.
What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors? Don’t damage your health by pulling all-nighters pounding out fiction while gorging on carbs. This isn’t a college exam. Producing your best work comes with time, reading often and well, and having the courage to put emotion on paper.
List five suggestions or writing tips for aspiring authors.
1) Read often, and across genres.
2) Polish each draft relentlessly.
3) Join a critique group.
4) Read books on craft, and strive to improve.
5) Make time for your art every day, if only for twenty minutes.
If you could choose only one time period and place to live, when and where would you live. Why? The Universe puts us exactly where we choose to ensure the greatest soul development. So I’d stay in the present.
If you could be one of the Greek Gods, which would it be and why? Zeus, of course. If you get the chance to be a god, why not go for broke and run the show?
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? Thanks—already done. Last year I moved to Charleston, South Carolina. The Postells in Treasure Me are actually my French ancestors who settled here in 1681. Maybe I’ve come home.
What is your favorite Quote? My late father had a saying: Do you want to be a follower or a leader? As he lay dying, I grabbed his hand and shouted the only words that came to mind. “Dad, don’t go! Do you want to be a follower or a leader?” Despite the pain he was enduring, he smiled at me and said, “Always a leader.” I try to live by the last words to leave his lips.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? I’ve always known I’d write. During childhood I’d drift through libraries running my fingers across the spines of books in a dreamy sort of rapture. As my fingers glided across the covers, I felt like I was touching other souls. I wanted to be a part of that.
What led to your decision to self-publish? I worked with two agents, each for about eighteen months. Random House was interested in Second Chance Grill. A division of Penguin considered releasing Treasure Me and the other Liberty books in hardcover. Then Wall Street melted down. The interest fizzled, and my critique partners convinced me to self-publish. By then I’d read enough success stories to realize London and New York no longer held a monopoly on the publishing industry.
Who are your favorite authors of all time? It’s impossible to choose a favorite. Sue Monk Kidd, Nora Roberts, Ann Patchett, J.K. Rowling, Toni Morrison, Sarah Gruen—the list of remarkable talent is varied and virtually endless. I’m not a genre reader. If a novel is good, it’s on my TBR list.
Where do you get ideas for your stories and characters? Usually I get the kernel of an idea, a conflict. The characters most apt to struggle with that particular issue begin to appear in bits and pieces. It’s rather like molding a sculpture from clay, with the final result hidden for many months.
Can you see yourself in any of your characters? Theodora is my inspiration of the best way to age—with fire and sass. Birdie? One morning she simply arose from my subconscious, dangling from a window ledge. Hugh’s hard edge came from years in public relations when there was always another deadline to meet. Ditzy Ethel Lynn and the skillet-wielding Finney … they’re probably the bits and pieces of women I’ve known and loved. Landon and his all-consuming depression came from my experiences helping friends struggling with mental health issues. And Meade reminds me of any woman who has experienced great loss but deftly hides her pain behind elegant gestures and immaculate clothes.
What character in literature do you consider the most memorable? The abuse suffered by Celie, the poor, uneducated black narrator of The Color Purple, will always haunt me. Three pages into Alice Walker’s masterpiece, and I was in tears. Later in the novel Celie’s triumph over hardship becomes one of the most moving passages in literature. A truly stellar work.
What’s the craziest writing idea you’ve had? It hasn’t occurred yet. I’ll keep you posted.
Hidden talent? I can make anything grow and can cook like nobody’s business. My house is a jungle of plants and my family hates when I’m deep in a novel and they have to fend for themselves.
Favorite Food? Lobster with drawn butter. Beluga caviar. Sushi. A steak seared to perfection, my homemade meatballs, a salad of baby greens with goat cheese sprinkled on top … I’m half Italian. This means I have a love affair with food and you shouldn’t make me choose.
Favorite Candy? Those chocolate covered macadamia nuts they sell at Costco. My husband and I will battle to the death for the last chocolate in the container.
How do you relax when you have free time? I was a single mother for many years. Even now, “free time” comes at a premium. I’ve learned to exercise daily and reserve time for my family. I love to cook, garden, visit museums, dance … and, of course, read. Everything from The Economist and Scientific American to the latest novel to catch my eye.
Nickname? During childhood my parents called me Chrissy-bird because I had a pet parakeet. I also believed I could fly, like Peter Pan.
How do you react to a bad review? I don’t. By definition art is interpretive. One man’s gold is another’s pile of manure. Of course, if I released a novel that didn’t garner predominately 4- and 5-star reviews, I’d pull the work from circulation for reassessment. I owned a public relations firm for many years and learned to emotionally detach from whatever I write.
In your opinion, what are the qualities of a good book? Depth of characterization. Flawless execution of plot. Succinct, creative prose and a relentless pursuit of editorial perfection. Great books are also character-driven.
What is your writing process? Describe your typical day. Creating a compelling novel requires mind-body balance. I start writing early in the morning then knock off around lunchtime to head to the gym. After I work out for an hour, I return home to edit the morning’s pages. And I eat well—lots of fruits and veggies. You can’t fully honor your creativity unless you honor yourself as well.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you started writing? I wish I’d known it’s possible to thrive as an independently published novelist. My books don’t easily fit a particular genre—they’re part mystery, part romance, with both poignant and comedic elements. New York editors enjoyed several of my books, but never knew where to place the works on the shelves. With the advent of electronic publishing, I can build a readership without worry about where my books should sit in a physical bookstore.
What is the biggest obstacle you have to overcome when you want to write? This may sound strange, but my biggest obstacle involves knowing when to stop and rest. I get utterly caught up in my character’s lives. During the first 100 pages I’m able to conduct a normal routine. By page 250, all bets are off. I wake in the middle of the night with half of a scene spilling from my subconscious and hurry to the computer. Midway through dinner I leap up to scramble for pen and paper because I’ve suddenly solved a story problem. It becomes rather silly, but my young adult children and husband are very understanding.
You have won one million dollars. What is the first thing that you would buy? I’d pay off my children’s college loans. I have three kids in college presently, and the baby is a high school senior. Ouch.
What do you do in your free time? My husband and I are still discovering so much in our new home of Charleston, South Carolina. We live ten minutes from the beach, and we love to walk the dog there. Recently we toured a mansion downtown that miraculously survived The Civil War. By the way, genteel Charlestonians call the war “The Great Unpleasantness.”
What was life like before writing? My twenties and thirties were a blur—working in public relations, living from deadline to deadline. Then my now ex-husband and I adopted a sibling group of four children from the Philippines. Moving from career woman to fulltime mother was a shock. It took many years of doctor visits to The Cleveland Clinic to heal my kids. Today they’re all healthy, happy adults.
What is one thing your readers would be surprised to know about you? The age thing is usually a surprise. I’m fifty-three years old. People usually think I’m much younger. And the composition of my family always surprises. It’s not every day you see a white woman with four Asian kids. I affectionately refer to my children as ‘The Asian Invasion.’ We stand out in any crowd.
When is your next book coming out? Can you tell us about it? Second Chance Grill will appear on Amazon in late October. A prequel of sorts to Treasure Me, the book depicts the story of Dr. Mary Chance, who’s just inherited The Second Chance Grill, and Anthony Perini, a single dad with a precocious daughter. Of course the feisty women of Liberty will be featured. You’ll learn more about the “bad blood” between Theodora and Ethel Lynn. Their battle was “fur and feathers” in Treasure Me. In Second Chance Grill, they’re even wilder.
Do you have any writing rituals? Working for many years in public relations gave a love of constancy. No writer can create compelling fiction, book after book, without committing to a serious work schedule. Most days I’m at my computer early. By noon I need a break and head to the gym. Then I spend the afternoon editing the morning’s pages. That’s the first edit, mind you. I’ve never written anything that wasn’t submitted to an endless series of revisions.
Your character’s names—Birdie, Blossom, Wish—seem to hint at a bit of whimsy. How do you choose your character’s names, or do they choose their names?There’s no set pattern for naming characters. Some, like Birdie, arrive fully formed. Others start with an archetype employed to aid in fleshing out the character’s traits. In Blossom’s case, I wanted a name that conveyed “life” despite the struggle she faces. Wish is another play on opposites. I think of her as a nefarious criminal who destroys the wishes held dear by others, a sort of death wish in human form.
What is your favorite part of the writing process? Nothing beats the experience of reaching the middle of a work-in-progress and becoming utterly immersed in the characters. They’re real by that point, flesh-and-blood people one might meet on the street. Yet I’m privy to their darkest fears and brightest hopes. It’s an exhilarating feeling.
What is your guilty pleasure? Taking a long, leisurely bath with lots of bubbles. Or scheduling a 90-minute massage. Give me both in the same day and I’m in heaven.
What TV show/movie/book do you watch/read that you’d be embarrassed to admit?Wall Street Journal. Every morning except Sunday. Does this make me dull?
What are some of the challenges you’ve experienced in the self-publishing market? The biggest challenge is the allocation of time. Those long, leisurely mornings of writing are now encroached upon by marketing demands, creating a buzz, talking to readers—without the help of a New York editor or a publishing house’s marketing department, I must wear many hats. On the up side I can directly connect with readers, which is marvelous.
Favorite places to travel? I’m hoping to earn enough from my books to travel to Istanbul next year. I’ve written about fifty pages of a literary novel set in the city. I’d sorely love a first-hand experience to deepen the work.
What’s your cure for writer’s block? I think writer’s block is a misnomer. Writers are often overworked—if the pages don’t arrive on schedule, perhaps you need a night out with friends. A walk in the park to reconnect with nature. Or more exercise, and a bit more sleep at night. Here’s some motherly advice: Eat more fresh fruits and veggies. Oftentimes the well-balanced life produces the finest art. If you feel blocked, asked yourself, “What should I do to bring myself back into balance?”
If you could choose to be something other than a writer, what would it be? Already chosen! Sixteen years ago I boarded a plane, traveled to an orphanage in the Philippines, and adopted my kids. Becoming their mother was—and still is—an absolute joy. Today I view parenting as a privilege, the finest blessing in my life.
Any advice for aspiring artists? If you burn with the need to paint, sculpt, write—whatever your passion—find time to cultivate your gifts. Ignore the parent who questions why you’re wasting that expensive education on frivolous pursuits. Explain to your significant other that your inner muse requires some of the precious hours of your life. The world is made all the more beautiful by a ballad of human experience sung in a chorus of voices.
About the Author
Some writers are gifted with an unusual life and I’m certainly one of those. I’ve lived in Ohio, Virginia, California, Utah and now South Carolina. In college I was featured on the front page of the Houston Post for a lark that erased all my debt. I met my four adopted children for the first time in the sweltering heat of the tropics. I helped build several companies and was lucky enough to earn a living doing what I love best—writing—in a PR firm I owned.
In 2004, I made the wisest and most irrational decision of my life—I began writing fiction full-time. All those years of hard work pay off daily in sweet notes and comments from readers. Please continue the mail and the tweets. I cherish your support and love chatting with readers.
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Genre – Contemporary Fiction
Rating – PG13
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The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge on Amazon

Book Feature: Angel

Since the loss of his lively, charming wife to cancer six years ago, minister Paul Tobit has been operating on autopilot, performing his religious duties by rote. Everything changes the day he enters the church lobby and encounters a radiant, luminous being lit from behind, breathtakingly beautiful and glowing with life. An angel. For a moment Paul is so moved by his vision that he is tempted to fall on his knees and pray.Even after he regains his focus and realizes he simply met a flesh-and-blood young man, Paul cannot shake his sense of awe and wonder. He feels an instant and overwhelming attraction for the young man, which puzzles him even as it fills his thoughts and fires his feelings. Paul has no doubt that God has spoken to him through this vision, and Paul must determine what God is calling him to do.Thus begins a journey that will inspire Paul’s ministry but put him at odds with his church as he is forced to examine his deeply held beliefs and assumptions about himself, his community, and the nature of love.
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Genre – Contemporary Fiction / LGBT
Rating – PG13
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Author Interview – Laura Lee

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Contemporary Fiction / LGBT
Rating – PG13
More details about the book
Connect with Laura Lee on GoodReads & Twitter

If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future? I would be interested to go back in time and see what the historical Jesus was actually like. I think that would be quite illuminating.  It would be useful if the machine also gave me a working knowledge of Aramaic and a quick course in cultural taboos so I wouldn’t find myself getting stoned by an angry mob.
Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. It is probably not what you expect when you hear its subject.  It is worth giving it a look to see what it is.
What inspired you to want to become a writer? My father was a writer and he was of the opinion that I was a born writer.  I did not share that point of view.  I wanted to be a rock star or an actress.  As it happens I have no talent for acting and I hate being in the spotlight. It was as though I had never met myself.  I read an article in a psychological magazine recently that says that a skill for writing is an inherited trait.  Little by little it became clear that this was something not everyone can do and that my still for writing was out of proportion to my skill for other things.  Like water running into a groove in the dirt.
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published. I was first published in 1999, so since my first book was published I’ve had many rewarding experiences.  Most of them do not have to do with writing.  Being on tour with a Russian ballet company was probably the most rewarding experience.  Also working as a volunteer at The Guthrie Center in Massachusetts and getting to know some great people.  Touring with my partner, a Russian ballet dancer, and meeting people all over the country is rewarding.  Writing in flow is always worthwhile, and stumbling on the spark of inspiration that made my novel click after ten years working on it was the most rewarding part of the process.  The writing was a better experience than the publishing process.  The best experience connected to my novel Angel being out in the world was having the opportunity to join in a book club discussion about it.  People assume that you get a lot of feedback as a writer, but you really don’t.  You put out a book and you never really know who reads it and how they react to it. You tend to long for interaction with readers, at least I do.  I love my characters, and they seem more alive when other people react to them.
If you could jump in to a book, and live in that world.. which would it be? The thing about great novels is that they are full of drama and conflict, so I’m not sure I would want to live in the worlds of any of my favorite novels.  I would prefer to live in a collection of poetry.
What is your dream cast for your book? I told an interviewer once that I would like Michael Emerson who played Ben on Lost to be the protagonist Paul.  I admire him as an actor, although he is a bit older than the character.  But he has that “everyman” quality with a certain emotional intensity.  I could see him doing a good job with it. Ian, the second main character, would be played by the British actor Lee Williams as he looked in the film The Wolves of Kromer.  He is older than the character now.  Whoever played Ian in a movie version would have to be physically beautiful.  I have a much clearer idea of his “look” than I have of Paul’s.
What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen? As a kid I loved “If I Ran the Circus” by Dr. Seuss.  I also loved Thidwick the Big Hearted Moose.
Is there a song you could list as the theme song for your book or any of your characters? I listened to Calling All Angels by Train over and over when I was writing Angel.
What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors? Don’t do it!  Run, quickly, the other way!  Get out now while you still can!  If you fail to heed my sensible advice, you will most likely find your own way through the crazy world that is publishing.  I started a long time ago, with agents and traditional publishers, and the landscape is so different now I am still trying to figure it all out myself.  If I had any idea of what works I would tell you.
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? I liked living in the Berkshires.  I miss it sometimes.  The most beautiful city in which I have lived was Edinburgh, Scotland.  I miss it sometimes too.  I like the culture and pace of life in the UK.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”? When I was about three, I told my parents I wanted to be “an astronaut or a babysitter.”I wanted to be an actress when I was a kid.  I even majored in theater in college.
If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play the lead role and why? Heidi Klum because then people would think I looked like a Barbie doll.  The movie of my life would involve a lot of sitting and staring at computer screens.  It would be interesting to have it done by some avante garde director who does crazy art films.
Who are your favorite authors of all time? William Shakespeare, Milan Kundera, G.K. Chesteron, Douglas Adams, Rumi, Alain de Botton
Can you see yourself in any of your characters? The protagonist of my novel, Paul, is an introvert who is in a job that requires a certain extroversion.  Being a writer has elements of that.  What you are most suited for is being alone in a room, reading and writing things down.  But there is also a promotional aspect to being a writer that kicks in.  As a minister, you may have great insight, but if you are not able to get up and connect in the pulpit, it doesn’t matter.  So the introverted aspects of Paul are more like me.  I tended to think of him as like me and Ian as different, because he is an extrovert but when I started to work on a sequel to Angel from Ian’s perspective I decided to do a Myers-Briggs type test answering as Ian.  It turns out that his personality letters with the exception of the I/E scale (introversion/extroversion) are exactly like mine.  Paul’s came out quite different.
What’s the craziest writing idea you’ve had? I wrote in my journal that I wanted to start a novel with the world “meanwhile.”
What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you? My father told me “Never, but never, underestimate publishers’ ability to delay payment.”
Hidden talent? I can juggle three balls.  I used to be able to make balloon animals, but I’ve forgotten how.  It is a hold over skill from my short career as a professional mime at Dorney Park in Allentown.
What movie and/or book are you looking forward to this year? When I got the advance for my forthcoming non-fiction book I ordered a copy of the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary on CD-ROM.  It’s not a read through in one sitting type of book, but I’m really excited to have that reference.  I’ve become a bit of an amateur Bible scholar since writing Angel.
How do you react to a bad review? I haven’t come across too many bad reviews of Angel that bothered me.  When I person gives two stars to it, it is just a measure of how she related to the book.  The negative reviews I’ve gotten have tended to fall into the category of people having different expectations.  They picked the book up because they were in the mood for a traditional romance novel and they found my book to be different than what they wanted.  Sometimes they get upset with me because they want the characters to do something different.  In those cases, I take it as a compliment because they are invested enough in the characters to get mad at me.
You have won one million dollars what is the first thing that you would buy? A new car.  Mine has 222,000 miles on it.
Which authors have influenced you most and how? The most direct literary influence I had was my father, Albert Lee.  I was not formally trained in writing.  I was apprenticed.
What do you do in your free time?  My vocation and my avocation are the same.  So I don’t differentiate between my free time and my work time.  I don’t have a lot of hobbies.  I get uncomfortable when I am not producing writing.
How did you celebrate the release of your first book? Actually, I threw a book release party and nobody showed up!  I haven’t tried that since.
What is your guilty pleasure? I am a fan of Project Runway.  I don’t know if I’m supposed to feel guilty about it though.  I tend to think you should like what you like.  I like those little pizza roll things too.
Finish the sentence- one book I wish I had written is…. The DaVinci Code or Harry Potter.  Then I would have the money to devote myself to writing the other things on my “to write” list.  Of course, I might end up with a very confused audience.
Favorite places to travel? I’m on tour half the year with my ballet project.  I like that lifestyle.  We have especially liked West Virginia, South Carolina, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Duluth, Minnesota.
In your wildest dreams, which author would you love to co-author a book with? Kundera seems like he’d be kind of grumpy and opinionated.  Douglas Adams is, alas, no longer with us.  I know!  How about Stephen Fry.  That would be cool.
What do you hope readers will take away from your most recent book, Angel? I am hoping that it is a book that is read quickly, but that stays with the reader.  I would like to hear a reader say, “You know, I kept thinking about this one thing in the book.”  I would love it if they close the book and feel little lonely because they know they are going to miss the characters.
 Did you find, as you were writing, that you drew upon any of your own life experiences or based any of the characters on people you know? There are some individual episodes in the book that come from experience.  For example, there is a moment early on when the character of Ian talks about growing up with a mother who had very strong, very conservative religious beliefs.  I don’t know if “conservative” is quite the right word.  She was a supernaturalist and believed literally in angels and devils fighting for men’s souls.  Ian tells a story about a neighbor giving them a couch and then later discovering that the neighbor had a Ouija board in her house and so they took the couch off to the dump in case the devil was in it.  I did have a friend growing up who told me a similar anecdote from life, and it stuck with me.  The idea of the devil taking up residence in the couch stuck with me.  So there were little things like that throughout.  Basically writing this book was like taking all of my life experience and putting it into a food processor and then seeing what came out.
Was there anything that you learned by writing from the perspective of a gay man? I talked about this on my blog recently.  I can’t say that I learned anything about what it is like to be a gay man.  But when the book was going to come out, people would ask me what it was about.  It is about a Christian minister falling in love with another man.  It never occurred to me not to write on this topic or to keep it under wraps.  Yet when people asked me the subject, there was a moment when I would size them up and try to decide if they were going to react badly to the idea.  If it was someone I worked with in my other career, would my answer potentially have any effect on that relationship?  As a straight person, I hadn’t really faced that before. Before I wrote the book, I had the luxury of holding but not voicing my opinion about gay rights when it was not convenient, of keeping quiet and letting people assume I agreed with whatever they believed.  Like most luxuries, it came at a high price: fear and inauthenticity.  So I am glad that I cannot hide in that particular closet any more.  It has spilled over into my life in other ways.  I’m less likely to worry about making everyone happy with what I think.  I have more confidence to just write what I’m called to write and hope that it resonates with at least some people.  I realized that people generally accept you as you are.  My conservative Christian friends have not said, “I can’t be your friend any more.”
Your central character is a Christian minister, what kind of research did you do to get the details of a minister’s vocation right? For the day-to-day reality of working in a church I didn’t need to do any research because I worked in a church for a number of years so I know a lot about the kinds of things that happen in the office.  The only real research I did was to look up some statements on sexual orientation from some mainstream denominations to be sure that I was depicting that correctly.  Since I wrote it, churches like the Presbyterians have changed their positions.  There is a great deal of social change happening in this area.  The language I ended up using was taken from the United Methodist Church although I didn’t want to identify Paul’s church as Methodist.  I didn’t want to get that specific, because it is not really a political statement about one religion or another.  Paul’s church is a mainstream protestant denomination.  Not Evangelical.  The kind of church that is trying to take a neutral position on the issue of gay rights.  Trying to welcome LGBT members while at the same time not allowing same sex marriage or the ordination of gay clergy. I also view his denomination as one that allows a pastor to stay as long as his church community still wants him to be there.  Some denominations assign pastors for a certain length of time.
Have you heard from any gay Christian readers and how have they reacted to the book? I have met some, yes.  The ones I have spoken to were positive on the book.  I have met people who have had the experience of being fired from positions with churches for their sexual orientation.  I’m sorry that art imitates life in that way.
The book is full of mountain imagery.  What is the meaning of the mountain and the nature imagery in Angel? For me, as a writer, it is helpful to have some kind of imagery and a central question to explore.  When I write fiction, I often start with some image.  I keep that in the back of my mind and when I get stuck, I do a couple of things.  The first is that I ask myself, “What am I missing here?”  And then I go away and let my subconscious work on that question.  The other is that I go back to my central image and I do a completely unrelated bit of writing.  How is this situation like the mountain?  I often find myself coming back to the characters and the drama at hand very quickly.  The stuff that I wrote about the mountain, or whatever image it is, tends to be cut out, but there are echoes of it in the end result.
How have Christian readers reacted to your book? I would love to hear from more Christian readers and see more reviews by people who identify as Christian.  The ones I have heard from had good things to say about the book.  For the most part they have been from the more liberal end of the Christian spectrum.  There are a lot of Christians out there who support gay rights because of their faith, not in spite of it.  Some of my friends are more middle of the road or conservative Christian and they have read the book because they know me.  They probably wouldn’t have picked it up otherwise, but some of them have said, “I didn’t know what I would think about this but I really liked it.”  I also know Christians who have a problem with the idea and would probably not like the book.  So Christians are not a monolith, in spite of what the pundits might have you think.