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    postheadericon Book Blast! Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things by Martina McAtee today!

    We’re thrilled to be hosting Martina McAtee’s CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS Book Blast today at Literarily Speaking!

    Title: Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things
    Author: Martina McAtee
    Publisher: Martina McAtee
    Pages: 450
    Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

    17 year old Ember Denning has made an art of isolating herself. She prefers the dead. She spends her days skipping school in old cemeteries and her nights hiding from her alcoholic father at the funeral home where she works. When her own father dies, Ember learns her whole life is a lie. Standing in the cemetery that’s been her sanctuary, she’s threatened by the most beautiful boy she’s ever seen and rescued by two people who claim to be her family. They say she’s special, that she has a supernatural gift like them…they just don’t know exactly what it is.

    They take her to a small Florida town, where Ember’s life takes a turn for the weird. She’s living with her reaper cousins, an orphaned werewolf pack, a faery and a human genius. Ember’s powers are growing stronger, morphing into something bigger than anything anybody anticipated. Ember has questions but nobody has answers. Nobody knows what she is. They only know her mysterious magical gift is trying to kill them and that beautiful dangerous boy from the cemetery may be the only thing standing between her and death.

    As Ember’s talents are revealed so are the secrets her father hid and those in power who would seek to destroy her. What’s worse, saving Ember has put her cousins in danger and turned her friend’s lives upside down. Ember must learn to embrace her magic or risk losing the family she’s pieced together.

    For More Information

    • Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things is available at Amazon.
    • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

    Book Excerpt:

    She went lightheaded as the enormity of her words hit her, “Oh, God. This is like the part in the movie where you try to kill me, right? You are going to try to kill me and I feel too crappy to even try to run.”

    She was talking more to herself now. She leaned back against the rusted mausoleum gates behind her, enjoying the cool metal against her skin. Her head was swimming, the stars above blurring in the sky. No, not now, she thought. It was happening again. Whatever had happened earlier in the cemetery was happening again. She could feel it rising up in her, that weird feeling like her insides were melting and liquefying while she could do nothing to stop it. Was this a panic attack? Could a panic attack cause what happened in the cemetery earlier? Maybe this was some kind of fight or flight adrenaline response.

    She felt caged, trapped by her own body. It was all in her head. The ground wasn’t vibrating at her feet. There was no way she was really burning up in forty-degree weather. Even in her haze she could see him watching her. Maybe if she just held still, he would be quick about it.

    Her head lulled on her shoulders. She was going to pass out. It would serve him right. Then he was just there, in her space, fingers cupping her face. She moaned at the feel of his cold hands against her overheated flesh. “And if it is, Luv? If this is the part where I try to kill you? What then? Are you going to pass out and take all the fun out of it? Or will you fight back?”

    There was no mistaking the threat of his words, but he was close enough to whisper them against her skin like a promise. She couldn’t think straight. Her head filled with a sound like angry bees. She pitched forward, dropping her forehead to his shoulder, eyes drifting closed.

    He was so cold; even through the layers of his clothes; his body seemed to emit this pleasant icy radiance that soothed her feverish skin. She wrapped herself around him, locking her arms. She buried her face against his throat, nose rubbing against his skin.

    She felt his body go rigid in her arms. She didn’t blame him, on some level she understood sane girls didn’t try to cuddle their killers. But nobody ever accused her of being sane. She was the girl who played in cemeteries and talked to the dead. She was the girl with three therapists before she was twelve. She was the girl in flames and he was ice water; if she was going to die, she was going to have this first.

    They stood there, bound together by her forced embrace. Those strange vibrations increased, building inside her like a living thing, a burning energy trying to melt her from the inside out. She could hear his ragged breath panting against her ear, could feel him writhing in her grasp, but she refused to let go. Could he feel it too?

    She clung to him, knowing if she let go this peculiar energy would overwhelm her. She breathed him in, letting him anchor her as it kept building and burning, growing until it thrust from her with the force of a sledgehammer. He groaned like he’d received the physical blow, he may have fallen had she not been holding him to her. Finally, the world seemed to right itself. Her blood ceased to boil and the vibrations stopped. When her mind quieted, she became very aware of what she was doing.

    She let go, shoving him back. Despite his size, he stumbled, blinking hard. They stared at each other, his confusion mirroring her own.

    “What are you?” she whispered. “What are you doing to me?”

    He rushed her, shoving her against the concrete hard enough to knock her teeth together, “What did I do to you? What game are you playing? What are you? What was that? What did you do?”

    She whimpered, feet scrambling for purchase as she realized he’d lifted her from the ground. Her heart thundered in her chest. He was fit but not big enough to haul her off her feet like that. She shoved at him uselessly. “Put me down.”

    Her descent was abrupt, her heart lodging in her throat. His eyes narrowed, his hands tangling in her messy hair, tilting her head to the side. “Come on, Luv, you can tell me. I’m sure it’s eating at you, keeping this secret.”

    He was insane. She opened her mouth to say so but her brain short-circuited as his nose traced along the column of her throat. “I promise, things will be so much easier if you just tell me,” he purred, his lips pressing the words into her skin. She moved closer to him. In her defense, she’d never been this close to a boy before; especially not one who looked like he did.

    “We can do this one of two ways,” He inhaled her scent, pressing his mouth to the shell of her ear as he said, “I promise one is infinitely more pleasurable than the other.”

    Ew. Oh, God. What was she doing? What was he doing? Seducing her for information? Threatening her? It really bothered her that she didn’t know the difference.

    She needed to get it together. Her breath hitched in her chest. This was not how she saw herself dying. She’d had a plan. She’d written it down obituary style for a morbid ninth grade English assignment. She was supposed to die of obscenely old age in her enormous but tastefully decorated plantation home surrounded by her beautiful and ungrateful grandchildren.

    He huffed out a laugh and she realized she’d said all that aloud. She was too scared to be embarrassed. Instead, she slapped at his hands ineffectively.

    He stepped away so abruptly she staggered, pacing before her, “You’re seriously not going to tell me? You’re only hurting yourself on this one.”

    “I don’t know what you are talking about,” she told him, “You’re crazy.”

    He sighed heavily, his tone shifting as if speaking to a rather stupid child, “I’ll figure it out eventually.” He told her, pointing at her, “You don’t smell like a witch. You certainly aren’t a shifter.” Then he was back before her, gripping her chin, turning her head side to side, like he was examining livestock, “But you most definitely aren’t human.” Tiny hairs rose along her skin at his touch, “You’re trying my patience. What the hell are you?”

    She pushed away from him, head throbbing with his words. “Stop with the grabby hands,”

    She needed to think. He was clearly unhinged. She had very few options. She could run but she doubted she could outrun him. Her gaze raked across broad shoulders and a flat stomach, he looked like he did a lot of cardio. She could scream but there wasn’t anybody to hear her. Instead, she did what she always did when she was nervous…she babbled.

    She’d watched a million documentaries on serial killers and the mentally ill. She could figure this out. Netflix was her friend. She wracked her brain, if he was a killer she had to make him see her as a person, tell him about her life, say her name a lot, make him believe people cared if she died, even if it was a lie.

    But what if he was schizophrenic? He thought she wasn’t human. What was she supposed to do?

    Orient him to reality? Play along with his fantasy? She should have paid more attention.

    “What’s your name?” she heard herself say, voice breathless.

    He arched his brow, tsking softly, expression bored. “I’m asking the questions here,”

    “Just tell me your name,” she demanded, panic creeping back in.

    “Mace,” the answer tumbled from his lips unbidden. He looked mystified, like his own mouth had betrayed him. He absently rubbed a spot on his chest.

    “Mace,” she repeated, with a nod. Okay, it was a start. “So um, here’s the thing, Mace. I’m only seventeen and I don’t want to die.”

    He gave her a look and a ‘fair enough’ shrug and gestured for her to continue, clearly amused by this turn of events.

    She frowned, but soldiered on, “You can’t be much older than me so let’s just think about this for a minute, okay?” She raked a hand through her damp hair, “I’m not really sure why you want to kill me but my life has pretty much sucked up until now. Like so much suckage. I can’t even explain the level of suck, but I feel like, statistically speaking, that’s gotta change. I’m not trying to sound like a motivational poster but it’s supposed to get better. I’d very much like to have a pulse when it does,”

    He narrowed his eyes at her, brow furrowed. He stepped forward.

    “Stop,” she held up her hand, palm out, “Just listen,”

    He stopped, looking at his feet then at her again.

    “I’m a nice girl,” she told him, before frowning, “but maybe you don’t care about that. I mean, if you’re, like, a murderous psychopath, you probably aren’t super interested in my feelings, but what about yourself?” She reasoned, gesturing spastically to all of his…self, “You seem like the kind of guy who thinks a lot of himself.”

    He cocked an eyebrow but said nothing. She was in turbo babble mode now, “If you kill me your life is over. You will definitely go to jail. I mean, look at me.” She gestured to her face, “I look like an ad for facial cleanser and girls who eat yogurt. Juries eat that stuff up. You’d probably get the chair.”

    He looked a little dazed. “You make a passionate yet confusing plea, Luv,”

    Her heart sank as he took a tentative step towards her, then another. He grinned as he advanced.

    “Come on. I’m sure you don’t want to go to prison.” She whined, “You are way too pretty for prison. You’d make a lot of the wrong kind of friends in prison.” Stop saying prison, Ember, she begged herself. “Do you want those kind of friends? Of course, you don’t. We could be friends?” she finished lamely, face flushing with shame. Maybe he should just kill her. It would be less embarrassing.

    He blinked at her, cheek twitching, “Aw, are you asking me to be your friend? One might question your judgment.”

    Her hands fell to her hips, swaying on her feet. “Wow, not to put too fine a point on it, but I’ve only seen you twice and both times you were here,” she gestured to their surroundings. “You hang out in cemeteries because you have so many friends? Is this were your book club meets?”

    “I can see why you have no friends,” he told her drolly.

    She squinted as something glinted in the air above his head.

    “I-” was all he managed before the object made contact with his head, sounding like a hammer hitting an overripe melon. He hit his knees with a groan, whatever he was going to say dying on his lips.

    She looked at his crumpled form, unreasonably disappointed.

    She’d really wanted to know what he was going to say.

    About the Author

    Martina McAtee lives in Jupiter, Florida with her teenage daughter, her best friend, two attack Chihuahua’s and two shady looking cats. By day she is a registered nurse but by night she writes young adult books about reapers, zombies, werewolves and other supernatural creatures. When she isn’t working, teaching or writing she’s reading or watching shows that involve reapers, zombies, werewolves and other supernatural creatures. Her debut novel Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things is set to release on August 31st, 2015. She is currently working on the second book in the series, Your Soul to Take, due to release in 2016.

    For More Information


    postheadericon Heartbound Book Blitz

    Heartbound Book Blitz Banner 2

    We’re happy to be hosting P.I. Alltraine and her HEARTBOUND Book Blitz today!

    About the Book:


    Title: Heartbound
    Author: P.I. Alltraine
    Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
    Pages: 177
    Genre: YA fantasy romance

    Petyr has never found it necessary to consider the humans as anything more than distant, inferior beings–until now. They are the cause of the fatal disease that has plagued his realm, taking the lives of too many of his kind. As a future leader of a realm in peril, Petyr must find a way to resist and cure the affliction. He must enter the unfamiliar realm, appear to be an ordinary eighteen-year-old human, observe, and learn.

    However, things don’t exactly go according to plan. Instead of embarking single-mindedly on his sober mission, Petyr meets an 18-year-old girl who does things to his emotions that he can’t quite fathom or control. Petyr is falling in love, and he almost forgets the gravity his choices have on his entire world. Despite the risk it poses to his life and hers, he wants to know her, and he wants her to know him–and his world.

    For More Information

    • Heartbound is available at Amazon.
    • Watch the trailer at YouTube.
    • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

    Book Excerpt:

    I defied my fate the moment I leapt out of my apartment’s third-story window. I landed on the pavement without a sound. In the same instant, my feet blended into the measured pace in which humans carried themselves.

    Gazing up at the sky, I tried to find something to remind me of my home, of my duty. The future leader of a realm in peril cannot be overcome by irrational desires, I thought.

    Thick smoke obscured the heavens so much even the brightest stars were dull and barely visible. A reminder I was trapped in this city, in this realm. Too far away from everything I knew, too restrained, too human.

    Through the chaos in my mind, I captured the image of the girl with brown and dark-auburn tones in her hair, the shine that bounced from her loose curls, the depth in her hazel eyes, and even the awkward half-smile when she caught me looking at her. But the memory wasn’t enough. I needed to see her again.

    I kept walking until I reached the riverbank in the heart of London. The water rippled with a disheveled mesh of gold and red, reflecting a large architectural structure. My gaze lingered on the clock tower adjacent to the building, gauging its height. A temptation to feel even a fraction of my true nature became a need in every fiber in my body. No longer able to rationalize, my muscles coiled, and I let go. Wind enveloped me with its familiar warmth as I sprang across the River Thames. I aimed to land on the lower portion of the tower, to indulge in the pleasure of my ascent. Though too fast for human eyes, each maneuver, each somersault, each back flip was slow enough for me to savor every moment of my liberation.

    On a part of the roof concealed from the passersby below, I was closer to the heavens than I’d been since arriving in the city. Still, I didn’t belong here. Hundreds of lights sparkled below me, each representing a life I didn’t comprehend. Allowing myself to break free from my human façade had made me a liability to the others. For a few moments of freedom, I let myself forget the importance of my purpose here—the lives that depended on it.

    Somehow, having the girl’s image in my mind brought calmness within me. One that felt permanent. One that extinguished the sense of entrapment, despite the thick layer of smoke that was still very visible to me. I held on to the calmness as I regained the confidence to face the others.

    Watch the Book Trailer!

    About the Author

    P.I. Alltraine

    P.I. Alltraine is an award winning poet and author. She has won several international poetry competitions, and her poems have been published in separate anthologies.

    She teaches English Language and Literature in London. She earned her degree in BA English from Queen Mary University of London, a Post Graduate Certificate in Education and Master’s in Teaching at the UCL Institute of Education, University of London.

    Before moving to London, she lived in the Philippines where she was ensconced in the rich culture encrusted with dark myths and enchanted tales. She draws inspiration from these in her writing. Although she has lived indifferent places and experienced different cultures, she always enjoyed the constancy of writing in her life. Her favourite authors include John Milton, Virginia Woolf and James Joyce.

    Her latest book is the YA fantasy romance, Heartbound.

    For More Information

    postheadericon Book Spotlight: Trail Mix by Paulita Kincer

    About The Book
    TitleTrail Mix
    Author: Paulita Kincer
    Publisher: Oblique Presse
    Publication Date: August 30, 2014
    Format: Paperback / eBook (.mobi format for Kindle)
    Pages: 220
    ISBN: 978-1312462502
    Genre: Women’s Fiction / Travel / Adventure
    Buy The Book:

    Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE

    Book Description:
    In the tradition of Wild by Cheryl Strayed, comes a novel of two suburban women who decide to hike the Appalachian Trail, escaping their lives as moms and wives in search of nature, adventure, and the ultimate diet plan.
    How does a woman know what she wants after spending 20 years thinking about her husband and children? Sometimes it takes a distraction from everyday life, time to examine the forest before the trees become clear. With no previous camping experience, Andi and Jess begin the 2100-mile odyssey from Georgia to Maine. The friends figure life on the trail can’t possibly be worse than dealing with disgruntled husbands, sullen teens home from college, and a general malaise that has crept up in their daily lives. At the very least, the women are bound to return home thin.
    Book Excerpt:
    trickled down
    Jess’ nose. Her
    sodden boots plodded along, squooshing the mud with each step.
    “Why did I do this?” She threw her head back,
    her face raised in lament to the sky. The hood of her rain poncho slipped off.
    The empty forest around her offered no answer, just a steady rain. Then, far
    above the treetops, she glimpsed a bolt of lightning streaking toward a nearby
    mountain and heard an answering boom of thunder. She cringed and scuttled
    faster down the trail.
    For nearly two hours, since the wind first
    whispered its urgency through the leaves, and the raindrops began to fall, Jess
    had been hiking through the thunderstorm with no place to stop and dry off. No
    place to get warm. No offer of coffee or a dryer where she could heat up her clingy
    socks. She walked alone on the Appalachian Trail.
    Like being in the middle of labor and deciding
    she didn’t want to give birth after all, Jess could not turn back. Well, she
    could turn back, but she would find only more of the same — woods and rain and
    an endless trail.
    This adventure
    was all Andi’s idea. As Jess trudged through the forest in the unrelenting
    rain, she blamed her best friend and hiking companion, Andi, who had pushed the
    hike as a great way to lose weight. And, when Jess’ teenagers took off for the
    summer leaving a big gap where the role of mother used to be, she thought a
    hike with Andi might fill that space. Andi, who, with her long legs, strode
    ahead, maybe miles away by now, claiming she had to hurry to the nearest
    shelter to keep the tent dry. Andi had tucked Jess’ poncho around her pack
    before presenting her back for Jess to return the favor.
    “See you at the shelter,” Andi had called.
    “Only about three miles farther.”
    In the city, a three-mile walk might take 45
    minutes, an hour if she stopped to window shop. Here, in the mountains, it
    could last days as she climbed up peaks and descended into valleys. Oh, who was
    she kidding? She would never walk three miles in the city. She would get in her
    car and drive.
    The thunder crashed louder, and Jess eyed the
    spiky greenery of a large fir tree. She could take cover under the tree, be a
    little bit sheltered. Even as she considered taking refuge, she stumbled past
    the tree, walking, walking.
    Tears joined the rain on her face. She felt
    trapped. No exit ramps in sight. She could only continue to walk.
    The wind ripped at her poncho as she climbed
    slippery stones that had been placed to form stairs. At the top, the wind gusts
    grew stronger and tried to push her back down. She hurried on along the ridge.
    Her walking poles dug into the mud that edged the rocks along the path.
    On this crest, she stood exposed to the wind
    and rain and lightning. Rhododendron bushes lined the trail below, but the only
    plant that dared to peek through the crevices on this crag was a lone sycamore
    tree. If Jess could escape this bare slope, the trees ahead would provide an
    arching umbrella across the trail. As she started to descend with the trail,
    her boot slid across a slick stone, and she toppled backward in slow motion.
    She wheeled her arms, trying to right herself, but could not stop the plunge
    until her backpack hit the ground, and she landed – thump – on top of it.
    was supposed to be a diet plan, not a death sentence
    , she thought, lying on her back like a turtle
    on its shell, her arms and legs sprawled helplessly at her side. I may drown. The downpour pummeled her
    full in the face, but she lacked the
    energy to sit up, free herself from the 30-pound pack, heft it onto her back,
    and start the hike again.
    As the rain doused her face, she slipped one
    arm from her pack and turned onto her side, away from the sky. For just a
    moment, she allowed herself to rest, curled into the fetal position beside her
    pack. A tingle began in her spine, and, in the moment she pondered why—everything
    went black.
     About The Author

    Paulita Kincer is the author of three novels, The Summer of FranceI See London I See Franceand Trail Mix. She has an M.A. in journalism from American University and has written for The Baltimore Sun, The St. Petersburg Times, The Tampa Tribune, and The Columbus Dispatch. She currently teaches college English and lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband and three children.


    Connect with Paulita:
    Author Website:
    Virtual Book Tour Event Page

    postheadericon First Chapter Reveal: Stop the Diet! I Want To Get Off! by Lisa Tillinger Johansen

    Stop the Diet 2Title: Stop the Diet, I Want To Get Off!
    Author: Lisa Tillinger Johansen
    Publisher: J. Murray Press
    Pages: 350
    Genre: Nonfiction/Nutrition/Health

    The Paleo. The Zone. The Gluten-free. Another day, another diet. We’re caught in a never-ending merry-go-round of weight loss plans, fueled by celebrity endorsers, TV doctors and companies angling for a piece of a $60 billion industry. But do these diets really work? And how healthy are they?

    Registered Dietitian Lisa Tillinger Johansen examines dozens of the most wildly popular diets based on medical facts, not hype. And along the way, she reveals tried-and-true weight loss strategies, relying on her years of hospital experience, weight-loss seminars and community outreach efforts. With insight and humor, Stop The Diet, I Want To Get Off shows that the best answer is often not a trendy celebrity-endorsed diet, but easy-to-follow guidelines that are best for our health and our waistlines.

    For More Information

    • Stop the Diet, I Want to Get Off! is available at Amazon.
    • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
    • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

    First Chapter:

    The idea for this book began at a wedding.

    Who doesn’t love a good wedding? The clothes, the flowers, the romance, the food…

    Ah, the food. As we moved into the banquet hall, the culinary feast was on everyone’s minds. It was all anyone seemed talk about. But for some reason, guests weren’t conversing about the dishes being served; they were swapping stories of diets they had heard about from friends, magazine articles, even celebrities on talk shows.

    I’m a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutritional science and years of clinical and health education experience. I’ve counseled thousands of patients and clients on all of these diets. But hearing the guests only momentarily distracted me from my horrible faux pas of wearing white (gasp!) to a friend’s wedding.

    “I’m on the Blood Type Diet,” said a woman with an impossibly high bouffant hairdo. “You’ve heard of that, haven’t you? It’s the one where you choose your foods based on your blood type. I’m an AB, so I’ll be having the fish.”

    “Really?” her friend replied. “I swear by the gluten-free diet. I’m on it, my daughter’s on it, and my granddaughter’s on it.”

    I happened to know her granddaughter was six and didn’t have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.

    Then there was the stocky guy who was trying to impress one of the bridesmaids. “I’m a paleo man myself,” he said, piling his plate high with beef kebabs. “It gives me more stamina, know what I mean? It puts me in touch with my inner caveman. There’s a restaurant near my apartment that’s paleo friendly. Maybe we can grab a bite there sometime, or…Hey wait, where are you going?”

    And there were three Weight Watchers sisters who typed furiously on their phones and argued over their meals’ point values. Apparently there was some discrepancy between their various apps, and the sisters’ discussion was becoming more heated by the moment.

    I’m past the point of being surprised by the wide range of weight-loss strategies—

    some worthless, some crazy, some quite reasonable—being tossed around. In the past few years, there has been a tidal wave of diets washing up on the shores of our nutritional consciousness. Celebrities prance across our screens, promoting a variety of weight-loss schemes on talk shows and infomercials. Medical doctors star in their own syndicated television programs, exposing millions to weight-loss techniques, often unsupported by medical research. Other diets get traction on the Internet, racing all over the globe in social media posts, YouTube videos, and annoying spam e-mails. It’s hard to walk past a shopping center vitamin store without being approached by salespeople trying to pitch the latest weight-loss supplements. It seems that everyone wants a piece of the pie; the American diet industry tops $60 billion annually.

    It’s classic information overload. You can’t blame people for being confused by all the diets out there, even as crazy as some of them may sound. I didn’t speak up to my fellow wedding guests that day, but it occurred to me they would benefit from some hard facts about the diets they so ardently follow.

    So during the toasts, I thought to myself, I should write a book.

    I counsel clients on these matters each week, giving them information they need to make the best choices for their health and waistlines. I find that all too often there’s nothing to the diets that are presented to me in my counseling sessions and classes. They just plain don’t work, particularly over the long term. And some of them are harmful, even potentially lethal. But it’s also unhealthy to carry extra weight on our frames. So how do we separate good diets from the bad?

    In the chapters to come, we’ll take a good, hard look at the various weight-loss plans out there. I’ll pull no punches in my professional evaluation of some of the most wildly popular diets, both bad and good, of the past few years. And along the way, I’ll explore tried-and-true strategies for losing weight, based on my years of hospital experience, weight-loss seminars, and community outreach efforts. More often than not, the best answer is not a trendy celebrity-endorsed diet, but instead a few easy-to-follow guidelines that I’ve seen work in literally thousands of cases.

    Enough is enough. It’s time for the madness—and the diets—to stop.


    Dieting…Who Hasn’t?

    “I feel like banging my head against the wall when I am asked what I think about the HCG Diet, Grapefruit Diet, or the Atkins Diet. Have we become so naïve as to believe that taking some homeopathic HCG drops will fix 20 years of poor eating? The sales say we have.”

    —Josh Hodnik, staff writer for VPX sports and Muscle Evolution

    Holy cow, I’m fat! I’ve turned into a completely out-of-shape blob. I’m standing here looking in the mirror, and some stranger is staring back at me. Surely that’s not me. Maybe if I put my glasses on…No, I’m still the same tub of lard. Bummer.

    I don’t know how this happened, or maybe I do a little bit. But it just doesn’t seem possible. I feel like just yesterday I was slim and trim, but now I can’t button my pants. Aha, now I know why I’ve become so fond of stretch pants, baggy shirts, and sweaters…and Spanx.

    This weight crept up on me, and now no matter what I do I can’t get rid of it. I don’t feel good about myself or like the way I look. And I think my health may be suffering because of it. I’m so depressed. I think I’m just going to go eat cake.

    Sound familiar? Could that be you talking? If it is, join the club. A club, by the way, with many members. It’s ever expanding. For some of us, this may be a scary first experience. You’ve been at a healthy weight all of your life…until now. Or you’ve had to watch what you eat, but still managed to maintain a comfortable weight. For others, this isn’t your first go-round with this type of self-talk. There are many of us who’ve been up and down this path more than once. You might be in that vicious circle we like to call “yo-yo” dieting (a dieter’s carousel, if you will)—repeated weight loss through dieting followed by a regain of the pounds lost. A 2012 study found the following:

    • 26 percent of dieters in the United States adhered to their diets for less than a month
    • 36 percent followed theirs for a period of one to six months
    • 11 percent stuck to their diets for seven months to a year
    • Only 27 percent stayed the course on their diet plans for over a year

    And it’s not a surprise that almost 40 percent of Americans make their New Year’s resolution about weight. And it’s not shocking that only 8 percent keep it.

    Weighty Matters

    Dieting. It’s almost easier to count those who haven’t been on a weight-loss regimen sometime in their life than those who have. Have you ever gone on a diet? How about two, three, four, five, or more? I know that more than a few of you are nodding your heads vigorously. Or perhaps you’re shaking your head in frustration. Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

    The word diet means more than just what we do to lose weight. It also refers to what we eat and drink every day. It includes a prescribed diet, such as what a doctor or dietitian recommends for someone with, for example, diabetes or hypertension. And, of course, diet also means changing and/or cutting back on our regular food and drink habits in order to lose weight. We’ll talk about all of these definitions in this book.

    Just because I’m a dietitian doesn’t mean I’m not human. I come from a family where many of us struggle to maintain a healthy weight. It definitely takes work for me to do so. And as I’ve aged, it has become harder. If I’m not diligent, I seem to expand almost overnight.

    So, I’m in the weight management game with all of you. I know how you feel and the questions, challenges, and concerns you face. And with a master’s degree in nutritional science and my licensure and experience as a registered dietitian, I know what works. I can help you.


                Recently I had quite the unpleasant shock. I have a doctor’s scale at home. The weights weren’t set correctly, and I thought I weighed seven pounds less than I actually did. Ouch! I knew my clothes were a bit snug, but I’d chalked it up to a combination of temporary bloating and shrinking clothes. If only…



    Weight-loss plans and diet products are a huge business in the United States. In 2012, Americans spent approximately $60 billion in their quest to lose pounds. Yes, you read it correctly. We spend a lot of dough in our effort to avoid being doughy. And over half of Americans (63 percent of females and 48 percent of males) would rather lose $1,000 of their own money than gain twenty pounds.

    The desire to lose pounds and maintain a healthy weight isn’t a bad idea. In fact, it’s a really good one. But we don’t always choose the best route to achieve this often elusive goal. Consequently, many of us are unsuccessful in our weight-loss attempts. Let’s look at some statistics:

    • Three in ten Americans (25 percent of males and 32 percent of females) are currently trying to lose weight. About 55 percent of males have attempted to lose weight an average of four times each, while 73 percent of females have tried to shed pounds on average around seven separate times.
    • A 2011 Gallup poll reported that about 52 percent of all US adults were successful at losing weight sometime in their life.
    • In Britain, the average forty-five-year-old has already been on sixty-one diets.
    • And while 62 percent of Canadians in one survey reported losing five or more pounds over a five-year period, most didn’t maintain it; 70 percent of those who were overweight or obese gained back all, or sometimes more, of the pounds they shed after their initial weight loss.

    So many of us go round and round on the diet wheel. Do you remember when you weren’t on a diet? Has it become a way of life for you? And how many different diets have you tried? Are you already looking for the next new thing? Perhaps you’re one of the 35 percent of “occasional dieters” who move on to what’s been termed “pathological dieting,” or disordered eating. If that’s you, aren’t you tired of it?

    There are certainly good reasons to lose weight. Carrying too much weight on our frames isn’t healthy, but that’s not stopping a lot of us from packing on the pounds. Obesity is also a negative trend we’re seeing around the globe. The highest rates are in Oceania and the Middle East. Oh, and in the United States two-thirds of us are overweight or obese. It’s a very dubious distinction. Here are the top-ten heaviest countries in the world, based on their 2013 overweight and obesity rates:


    #1 American Samoa (94 percent)

    #2 Kiribati, Central Pacific (82 percent)

    #3 French Polynesia (74 percent)

    #4 Saudi Arabia (73 percent)

    #5 Panama (67.4 percent)

    #6 United States (66.9 percent)

    #7 Germany (66.5 percent)

    #8 Egypt (66 percent)

    #9 Kuwait (64 percent)

    #10 Bosnia and Herzegovina (63 percent)

    Kudos to the eight countries in Asia that have the lowest worldwide obesity rates. They are Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia, China, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and Singapore.

    The obesity epidemic is a problem that must be dealt with. In 2013, the American Medical Association took a major step by labeling obesity as a disease. While this brought on some controversy, it should result in a change in how health care providers look at and treat obesity in individuals. That’s a good thing.

    Fad or Fallacy

    Carrying extra body weight can be quite bad for our health. It puts us at risk for a variety of diseases such as prediabetes, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, joint problems, heart disease, sleep apnea, certain cancers, and more. Who wants that?

    So what do so many of us do to combat our expanding girths? We go on a diet, often what would be termed a “fad” diet. And we’ve been doing this for a lot longer than you might think.

    Fad diets go back to at least 1087 when William the Conqueror came up with the alcohol-only diet. What was he thinking? Maybe he was too drunk to construct a more balanced one. Not surprisingly, this diet didn’t work out for William. He died a year later after actually gaining weight.

    The fad diet as we know it today arrived on the scene in the nineteenth century, when Sylvester Graham came up with the Graham diet. It focused on caffeine-free beverages and vegetarian meals. Not a bad idea, but it gets a bit weird. Part of the diet actually included eating graham crackers (go figure), as not only a way to assist in weight loss, but also to inhibit masturbation and the supposed blindness it caused. I’m not making this up.

    In 1876, Englishman William Banting introduced the low-carbohydrate diet. A lot of us are familiar with this one. He lost fifty pounds with his plan and wrote the Letter on Corpulence discussing it. His weight-loss plan became so popular that in Britain the word banting became synonymous for dieting. A later version of this, the Atkins diet, would become very popular and is still being followed today.

    Other early fad diets included Horace Fletcher’s Great Masticator diet, which in 1903 suggested people chew their food thirty-two times. After doing this, they weren’t to swallow it, but had to spit it out. That was certainly a low-calorie diet. And a lot of work for nothing.

    The year 1928 gave us the Inuit diet, where followers could choose between eating either meat or the fat from it. Not both. There was also the bananas-and-skim-milk diet. And as recently as the late 1960s, Herman Taller, MD, advanced the “Calories Don’t Count” diet. Before you embrace this concept, read on. It involved eating whatever you wanted and not worrying about quantity. The important aspect of this diet was that after you ate, you drank vegetable oil as a kind of chaser. Yuck. I’m sure that worked out well.

    There are a lot of diets out there. Some are good. Many aren’t. I’ll talk about a lot of them throughout this book. I’ll be your guide to choosing a healthy eating path and will give you the tools to navigate it. What I won’t do is steer you toward a fad diet. In fact, I recommend you turn your back on them.

    Fad diets are temporary and can be unhealthy. Very often they’re restrictive. And many times they are, let’s face it, a bit crazy.

    People are drawn to fad diets because of the allure of quick results, which they sometimes deliver. But typically the weight loss can’t be sustained long term. We’re then faced with the disappointment and adverse health effects of reverting back to our prior weights. Or perhaps we may carry a heavier burden…on our bodies.

    Close to 60 percent of adults in the United States want to shed at least twenty pounds.

    It would be fantastic if we’d go to sleep one night and wake up the next day twenty pounds lighter. That’s a good dream. But it’s not realistic. So many of us want it to be true, and we try a lot of weight-loss programs with the hope that we’ll be proven right. Optimism is high at the beginning. Some do have success that’s maintained in the long term. Most don’t.

    Fad diets can be very difficult to adhere to for life. Even following them for months can be hard. We can also suffer ill effects from them such as headaches, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, nutritional deficiencies, hair loss, weakness, dizziness, fatigue, bad breath, loss of muscle, and more. Not fun.

    Diets also affect the diseases we have. People with diabetes, kidney disease, and other conditions need to take care that these diets don’t aggravate their conditions. More about health risks will be discussed in chapters to come.

    Here’s a crucial question: What’s a fad diet? Some are easier than others to spot. Let’s review some of their characteristics:

    • They promise a quick result.
    • Statements are made about them that seem too good to be true or realistic.
    • Simple conclusions are taken from involved studies.
    • They take information from studies that haven’t been peer reviewed. (Peer review and duplication of results is an important aspect of drawing reliable conclusions.)
    • Statements of fact may be based on only one study. Again, results need to be tested and replicated to determine their quality.
    • They rely on studies that don’t have a large research group, or use those that look at only one segment of the population, such as African American males between the ages of thirty and forty-five or Caucasian women ages sixty-five to eighty.
    • Assertions are made that highly regarded medical- and science-based organizations refute.
    • Their statements or recommendations are used to try to sell us their products.
    • They promote “special elixir” type foods or specific food combinations.
    • They suggest that food can affect body chemistry.
    • Foods are identified as either “bad” or “good.”
    • They eliminate foods or food groups.

    Do any of these ring a bell? Have you researched or tried a diet with one or more of the above characteristics? Who’s nodding? Here are some of the fad diets you might’ve explored:


    3-Day diet

    Apple-cider-vinegar diet

    Atkins diet

    Beverly Hills diet

    Blood Type Diet

    Cabbage-soup diet


    Coconut-oil diet

    Dukan diet

    Grapefruit diet

    hCG diet

    Hollywood Diet

    Paleo Diet

    South Beach Diet

    Zone Diet


    My husband is on the brown diet. It’s a simple one. If it’s brown, he eats it. This isn’t healthy, as it’s filled with items like fried chicken, french fries, and pizza. He’s getting better, though. I got him to get rid of the fryer he had in his bachelor days. But he’s still a work in progress.

    The online pharmacy found that 71 percent of women had tried a fad diet. Here’s the breakdown of the diets they tried:

    Laxatives: 47 percent

    Fasting: 45 percent

    Cabbage soup diet: 39 percent

    Liquid diet: 35 percent

    Body wraps: 29 percent

    Cereal diet: 26 percent

    Baby food diet: 26 percent

    Raw food diet: 24 percent

    Small plates: 18 percent

    Eating foods known to make you sick: 14 percent

    I question more than a few of these diets. Do you? If not, you should.

    It’s Not a Clique, It’s a Group

    Restrictive, low-calorie, and other types of fad diets aren’t only challenging to follow, they can also be nutritionally unbalanced. For example, cutting out entire food groups or a significant portion of them may result in not getting adequate calories, vitamins, minerals, and more. Or we may get an overabundance of something. This can cause health issues for some, like potential kidney problems from excessive protein. Too little or too much of something isn’t a good thing. Our bodies like balance.

    Protein, fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and healthy fats should all have a place in our diets. Our bodies use all of these for a variety of things. Making the more nutritious choices out of these groups is, of course, important. And each of them does have healthy members. When we cut out a food group or a significant part of it, we’re short-changing ourselves. We’ll talk more about the food groups later on.

    Knowledge Is Power

    Another key component of weight loss and maintenance is gaining the tools we need to manage our eating for life. It requires knowledge and behavior change. The former isn’t likely difficult for most of us, although there are a lot of less credible sources out there. The latter can be a seemingly impossible task. This book will help you tackle both.

    We’re so lucky to live in a day and age in which books, magazines, journals, newspapers, websites, blogs, and more are so readily available and abundant. The Internet has expanded our horizons and our learning ability to such an amazing degree. Practically any information we want or need is just a keystroke away. But we must make sure that what we’re reading, even relying on, is quality and expert.

                When I first went to college back in the day, personal computers didn’t exist. I know, can you imagine? All research had to be done at the library. And we had to use card catalogues to find our material. It was slow going.

                I’ve thought about this often while writing my books. It’s certainly quick to tap into my own knowledge, which I do extensively. But when I want to look something up, I’m happy that it’s easy and convenient to find.

    When looking for nutrition information on the web, I recommend perusing the sites that you know are science-based. Medical and government websites such as and are reputable. So are sites like and You can also go to registered dietitian sites like mine at You have a question? I’ll answer it. For other online sources, please review appendix Afor more sites that I like and trust.

    Experts in the field can be great sources. Registered dietitians are a fantastic go-to for information about nutrition. But there are so many other people out there, including celebrities, who have their own diet plans or champion them. It’s important to note that these people often don’t have the training necessary to assess and recommend an appropriate diet plan. Tread lightly there. Designations like RD, RDN, RN, and MD signify experts in health care, including diet and nutrition.

                In Britain, 47 percent of people who are watching their weight will try a diet because a celebrity is on it.

    I counsel many people each year regarding a variety of health issues, including weight management, prediabetes, diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, heart disease, kidney disease, malnutrition, and more. Many of them are well-versed in self-care and have solid facts and plans to achieve and maintain good health. Others could use some help.

    Television shows, magazines, books, our families, friends, neighbors, coworkers, personal trainers, vitamin store personnel, and others often share advice. Many of us take that and run with it. Sometimes we shouldn’t.

    It’s essential that we use a filter and common sense when sorting through the barrage of information that comes our way. If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. The promise of five pounds of weight loss in several days or ten pounds in one week, for example, isn’t healthy or advisable. It’s tempting, I know. But in this case, slow and steady wins the race.

    So what do you need to get started on a healthy eating plan for you? A great beginning is to understand the pros and cons of all the major diet plans out there. Having reliable facts and figures, determining your desire and willingness to change, and setting some goals are important. Knowing recommended portion sizes and the balance of the food groups is essential. The contribution of physical activity and the effectiveness of using measuring and benchmark tools help round out a powerful weight-management arsenal. I can help you with all of these, and there’s no time like the present. It’s time to stop the diet and get on with a long-term eating plan for life.

    So let’s get off the dieting merry-go-round. Our healthy weight lies ahead.

    postheadericon Book Spotlight: All For Family by Olivia Hardin




    About The Book
    Title: All For Family (A Rawley Family Novel)
    Author: Olivia Hardin
    Publisher: Olivia Hardin
    Publication Date: August 24, 2015
    Format: Paperback / eBook / PDF
    Pages: 200
    ASIN: B0108UOUJ8
    Genre: Contemporary Romance
    Buy The Book:
    Discuss this book at our PUYB Virtual Book Club on Goodreads by clicking HERE
    Book Description:
    Wedding bells will soon be ringing in the Rawley family, but gearing up for Van and Kay’s nuptials revives old securities for Kay’s sister-in-law Meg. When she learns that her ex-husband is asking for her from his hospital bed, Meg must confront the painful memories of her past.
    Family is everything for Jeremy Rawley. Most important is the one he and Meg created together. But their beginning was tangled in memories he wishes he wife could forget for good. A call from her past brings them back to a place he thought they’d never have to be again.
    Forgiveness may be the key, but the first step is finding the locked heart that needs it.
    Book Excerpt:


    He watched her slide her feet back and forth against
    the carpet. “Whew … there’s a reason big girls shouldn’t wear heels.”
    Jeremy finished his own drink and sat back down
    beside her, this time reaching down and taking her feet to pull them up into
    her lap. She made a face as if she would protest, but when he began circling
    his thumbs into the arches of her feet, she leaned back against the arm of the
    couch and moaned. “Oh, that’s nice. Do they teach that at earl school?”
    As he massaged, she pointed her feet in a stretch,
    and her toes brushed a feather’s touch against his thighs. Damn, but the woman
    could get a reaction from him almost without warning. He continued rubbing,
    then slipped his fingers between her toes.
    “Oh, no, no, no,” she squealed, jerking to try to
    pull away from him. “Ticklish.”
    “I figured…” One corner of his mouth turned up in a
    grin. He tugged her feet back to his lap, and when he did, the skirt of her
    dress hitched up almost past her knees. She immediately took hold of the hem
    and tried to push it back down.
    He encircled both her ankles with his hands and then
    slid them upward along her calves, kneading the muscles of each leg as he went
    “Jeremy, you don’t have to …”
    “Shh …”
    Her eyes were open wide, so many emotions in their
    depths that it was hard to figure what she was feeling. Fear? Embarrassment?
    Excitement? He pushed one of her legs to the side until it slipped off the
    couch, then he scooted forward into the open space between her thighs. With one
    ankle still in his hand, he lifted it so that he could sweep his lips across
    the creamy smooth skin of her calf, working his way upward.
    She was still holding her dress, doing her best to
    cover up, but the hypnosis of his stare had her. She never once looked away from
    him as he made his way higher. When he nipped his teeth to the tender spot at
    the crook of her knee she flinched, then sucked her lip into her mouth.
    He was so desperate to kiss her that he almost rose
    up to smother her body with his and claim her mouth. But he didn’t. Instead he
    let go of her leg and then took her hands, loosening the tight hold she had on
    her hemline. The satiny material dropped, sliding down her thighs to bunch at
    her waist. Under she had on tight nude-colored shapewear, which she was clearly
    embarrassed about.
    Gazing up at her, he brought one of her hands to his
    cheek. Her fingers stretched long, tentatively touching his lips. When he
    sucked two of them into his mouth, she moaned and closed her eyes.
    “Jeremy, why are you doing this?” She snatched her
    hands away and to her lap where she once again tried to hide herself under
    folds of orange fabric.
    “I want there to be a day when you won’t ask that
    question. Maybe it won’t be with me, but one day, you won’t have to wonder why
    a man would worship you and your body.”
    About The Author
    When Olivia Hardin started having movie-like dreams in her teens, she had no choice but to begin putting them to paper. Before long, the writing bug had bitten her, and she knew she wanted to be a published author. Several rejections plus a little bit of life later, she was temporarily “cured” of the urge to write. That is, until she met a group of talented and fabulous writers who gave her the direction and encouragement she needed to get lost in the words again.
    Olivia has attended three different universities over the years and toyed with majors in Computer Technology, English, History and Geology. Then one day she heard the term “road scholar,” and she knew that was what she wanted to be. Now she “studies” anything and everything just for the joy of learning. She’s also an insatiable crafter who only completes about 1 out of 5 projects, a jogger who hates to run, and she’s sometimes accused of being artistic.
    A native Texas girl, Olivia lives in the beautiful Lone Star state with her husband, Danny and their puppy, Bonnie.
    Connect with Olivia:
    Virtual Book Tour Event Page


    postheadericon Book Spotlight: The Summer Of France by Paulita Kincer

    About The Book
    TitleThe Summer of France
    Author: Paulita Kincer
    Publisher: Oblique Presse
    Publication Date: July 1, 2013
    Format: Paperback / eBook / PDF
    Pages: 255
    ISBN: 978-1300257332
    Genre: Women’s Fiction / Travel / Adventure
    Buy The Book:


    Barnes & Noble:




    Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE

    Book Description:
    When Fia Jennings loses her job at the local newspaper, she thinks she’ll have the chance to bond with her teenage twins. As she realizes she may be too late to create the perfect family, she’s saved by a phone call from her great Uncle Martin who operates a bed and breakfast in Provence. Uncle Martin wants Fia to venture to France to run the B&B so he and his wife Lucie can travel. He doesn’t tell Fia about the secret he hid in the house when he married Lucie after fighting in World War II, and he doesn’t mention the people who are tapping his phone and following him, hoping to find the secret.
    Book Excerpt:
    The quiet of
    the house mocked me as I rummaged
    through the Sunday paper looking for the travel pages. I ignored the
    meticulously folded “Help Wanted” section of the newspaper and the yellow
    highlighter that my husband had placed on the counter to remind me that I’d
    been unemployed for two months and needed to find a job – soon. The ring of the
    kitchen phone saved me from isolation and from a job search as the thick accent
    of my aunt came across the crackly line inviting me to move to France.
    After a few sentences in the language that Aunt Lucie
    considered English, she handed the phone to my great uncle Martin, and I heard
    his booming voice.
    “Fia?” he called as if using a bullhorn rather than a
    telephone.  Uncle Martin, the baby of my
    grandfather’s family, ventured overseas as a teenager to fight in World War II,
    found a French wife, and stayed.
    I’d never traveled to France to visit him, but Uncle
    Martin always came home for the family reunion at the beginning of summer.
    Hearing his voice on the phone, I glanced at the wall
    calendar, assuring myself it was late June and Uncle Martin’s visit had ended
    nearly two weeks before.
    “Uncle Martin! What a surprise. How’s life in France?”
    I asked in a quiet voice meant to encourage him to lower his volume.
    Uncle Martin continued to bellow. “Look, Fia, let me
    get right to the point.” He hadn’t lost his American directness.  “Lucie and I are tired.
    need a break, maybe a permanent break.”
    “What?” I gasped my voice growing louder to match his.
    “You and Aunt Lucie are…but you can’t be…you can’t break up?”
    “No,” I heard his old man grunt across the phone
    lines. It sounded as if he said something like “Zut!”
    “Listen. Don’t jump to conclusions,” he chastised me.
    “We’re tired of working so hard. We’re old and it doesn’t look like any of
    Lucie’s relatives are gonna step forward and take over. That’s why I’m calling.
    Will you and Grayson come over and run this place?”
    “This place” is what Uncle Martin always called the
    eight-room bed and breakfast that he and Aunt Lucie ran in a small village in
    Provence. Lucie’s family had owned the home for generations, wringing olive oil
    from the trees and wine from the grape vines. But as big cities and ample
    education called, the younger branches of the family moved away. When Uncle Martin
    and Aunt Lucie found themselves the only ones living in the big, old house
    during the 1970s, they decided to capitalize on a tourism boom and turned the
    house into a bed and breakfast. They encouraged American and English tourists
    to stay, and, after A Year in Provence came
    out in 1990, their business exploded with people who wanted to see the land
    that Peter Mayle described.
    “We thought you could take over,” Uncle Martin blared,
    “obviously, since you’re not working.”
    Thanks, Uncle Martin, for reminding me again of my
    current jobless status.  When a huge
    conglomerate bought our local newspaper and combined resources with the paper
    in the next town, I became superfluous. So, after years of writing about home
    design, I sat staring at my own shoddy decorating. I tried to look on the
    bright side. Now I actually had time to try some of those design tips. To add
    depth to the alcove next to the fireplace, I painted it a darker color. Next I
    added crown molding around the opening from the living room to the dining room.
    So far, mostly, I spent my time trying to stay
    positive so an amazing job would find me,
    and I watched cable TV shows about happy families. Who knew The Waltons was on five times a day? Mix
    that with the Duggars, that family with 19 kids on TLC, and my days just flew
    past. I slowly realized that driving my kids to sporting events and
    extracurricular lessons did not count as quality time. Inspired by those TV
    families, I amplified my efforts to pull my 14-year-old twins closer. When they
    ambled home from school, I’d suggest some family activities. “Let’s draw a
    hopscotch on the driveway!” I’d say. Their eyes rolled wildly in their heads
    like horses about to bolt. “How about making homemade bread together? We can
    all take turns kneading? Or maybe an old fashioned whiffle ball game in the
    They suggested we go out for pizza or visit a sporting
    goods store for new soccer cleats or swim goggles. I declined, picturing the
    credit card bills I juggled now that I didn’t have an income.
    Bills. Ooh! I couldn’t see Uncle Martin’s invitation
    to France winning approval from my husband, Grayson, who had just been
    complaining about money.
    As a two-income family, we had paid bills on time and
    planned our next extravagant purchase. Of course, my pragmatic husband, the
    almost accountant, never used credit cards. But with my own income, I wasn’t
    that concerned about using credit cards. When I started to run a balance, I
    made the minimum payment every month. No need to inform Grayson who would’ve
    disapproved of my indulgences. Not that I bought things for myself. Nothing but
    the best for our kids with their private swim clubs, technologically engineered
    swimsuits, travel soccer teams, and state-of-the-art skateboards. I hadn’t
    bothered to save for an emergency but spent and charged as I went along until
    the bottom dropped out of journalism.
    “Uncle Martin, you know we’ve always dreamed of
    visiting you and Aunt Lucie, but without a job now, I just… I can’t see it
    working financially.”
    “I’m not talking about a visit,” his voice grew
    agitated. “I’m talking about you moving in here and running the bed and
    breakfast. I’d send the plane fare to get you here. You, Grayson and the
    I sat stunned for a moment, so Uncle Martin repeated
    “I’ll send you the tickets. I’ll just buy them online
    for you, Grayson and the twins. Both of them.”
    My kids were always “the twins,” as if sharing a womb
    14 years earlier made them one entity for the rest of their lives.
    “Whoa. That is heavy stuff,” I slid onto the swiveling
    bar stool. “We can’t just move. Leave our house, school, Grayson’s job.”
    Even as I said it, I felt hope rising in my chest.
    Yes! I waited for a job to come to me and it did. A spectacular opportunity. I
    pictured myself in a flowing skirt and low-heeled, leather sandals walking
    along a dusty road away from the market that would line the village streets.
    I’d carry a canvas bag with French bread jutting from the top as I headed home,
    the pungent fragrance of a cheese wafting from the bottom of the bag. Although
    I’d never been to France, I watched any sunny movie set in Europe. The women
    always wore skirts and had leisure time to linger along the roadside, smelling
    the lavender.
    I heard the front door slam and my husband’s heavy
    footfall in his casual Sunday topsiders as he came in from the office. Even on
    a Sunday, the work at Grayson’s accounting firm was plentiful.
    I turned my back on my approaching husband and said
    into the phone, “When are you thinking, Uncle Martin?”
    “I’m thinking… NOW. Last week,” Uncle Martin’s voice
    rose again. I cupped my hand over the phone to try to smother the sound of his
    bellowing. “I’m tired of dealing with these snippy tourists. I want to roam
    around the world and give other innkeepers a hard time.”
    “You make the job sound so enticing,” I tried to laugh
    lightly so Grayson, who was drawing nearer, wouldn’t realize the importance of
    this conversation. The idea began to form in the back of my mind: We could make
    this happen — with a little cooperation. I shot a hopeful glance toward
    Grayson as he walked in the room. I quickly raised my eyebrows twice, which I
    thought should give him an indication that good news was on the phone. He
    looked grim and tired – the horizontal line between his own eyebrows resembled
    a recently plowed furrow.
    “Look, I’ll have to call you back later,” I hissed
    into the phone and punched the button to hang up as Grayson threw his aluminum
    briefcase on the island. His look turned from grim to suspicious.
    “Uncle Martin,” I said with a blasé wave toward the
    phone. “He has a business proposal…”
    I tried to sound nonchalant, but I guess my eagerness
    showed because Grayson dropped his head on top of his briefcase for just a
    minute before he stepped toward the cabinet over the refrigerator. He opened
    the door and pulled down a bottle of Scotch.
    This conversation might prove more difficult than I’d

    About The Author

    Paulita Kincer is the author of three novels, The Summer of FranceI See London I See Franceand Trail Mix. She has an M.A. in journalism from American University and has written for The Baltimore Sun, The St. Petersburg Times, The Tampa Tribune, and The Columbus Dispatch. She currently teaches college English and lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband and three children.

    Connect with Paulita:
    Author Website:



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    postheadericon Book Spotlight: Vows To The Fallen by Larry Laswell

    Vows To The Fallen Banner
    About The Book


    Vows To The Fallen

    Title: Vows to the Fallen

    Author: Larry Laswell

    Publisher: Marshell Publishing

    Publication Date: August 14, 2015

    Format: Paperback – 277 pages / eBook  / PDF

    ISBN: 978-0986385322

    Genre: Historical Fiction / Military / Sea Story
    Buy The Book: 

    Book Description:

    Vows to the Fallen
    An Officer’s Journey Through Guilt and Grief
    Another techno-thriller from the author of The Marathon Watch
    August 9, 1942, 01:42 hours
    USS Green on patrol off Red Beach, Guadalcanal
    Bridge Officer: Lieutenant Patrick O’Toole
    Lieutenant O’Toole’s goal is simple: someday he wants to become an admiral. But in a few moments, his life will change . . . forever. Yesterday, the marines stormed the beaches of Guadalcanal. Today, the Japanese Navy will strike back. The sudden and horrific carnage scars O’Toole for life and throws him into the abyss of survivor’s guilt and posttraumatic stress.
    The Pacific War does not wait for O’Toole to heal. Duty calls, each new assignment brings more responsibility, and the roll call of the fallen grows. At the Battle of Mujatto Gulf, O’Toole faces a superior battle-hardened Japanese fleet and discovers the strength within him to climb from the abyss and find his true life’s mission. To the fallen, he vows never to abandon that mission no matter how high the cost.


    Book Excerpt:

    Chapter 1

    August 8, 1942, 2346 Hours

    USS Green; 45 nautical miles northwest of Red Beach, Guadalcanal

    Lieutenant Patrick O’Toole considered himself a career naval officer, and someday he hoped to be promoted to admiral. At Annapolis, his teachers had taught him the horrors of war, but he had never experienced combat. That was about to change and it would change him forever.

    The steel ladder rattled as he clambered to the wheelhouse deck to assume the midwatch. On the wheelhouse deck, the port fifty-caliber gunner slouched with his back to the sea and chatted with the lookout on the flying bridge one level above. The helmsman faced the starboard bridge wing and had but one hand on the wheel. Dim red lights above the chart table and the polished brass compass binnacle added little illumination to the wheelhouse, and the men, gray smudges in the dark, seemed unconcerned. O’Toole’s concern bordered on anger, but he remained silent.

    Find out what’s going on then fix it.

    A man on the flying bridge lit a cigarette. This was way out of bounds. “Snuff your butt. The enemy can see that for miles,” O’Toole said, hoping his voice had a bark to it.

    O’Toole had seen this before. Captain Levitte ran a relaxed ship, but this wasn’t peacetime. They were at war in enemy waters. O’Toole read the message dispatches, the captain’s night orders, and the chart. None of it good news, especially the report of a Japanese battlegroup headed south.

    He located Lieutenant Karl, the officer of the deck on the port bridge wing. Karl’s life jacket vest was open, revealing a sweat-soaked khaki shirt, and sweat beaded on his brow.

    Karl slouched on the bridge railing as O’Toole approached “What’s your status?” O’Toole asked.
    Karl rubbed his day-old stubble. “At Condition III. Fire in all four boilers. Superheat lit, and the plant is cross-connected. Starboard steering motor, port steering engine” Karl droned as he went through the standard litany of the watch change. “On course zero-seven-zero at ten knots. Straight line patrol between points Able and Baker on the chart as per the captain. You have about ten minutes before you turn around and head back to point Baker. Received a report of Japanese ships headed south five hours ago. Told the captain, and he said Intel couldn’t tell the difference between a cruiser and a sampan. Besides, nothing will happen before dawn. Aircraft overhead, told the captain, he says they’re from our carriers. That, and the captain said to cut the crew some slack; they’re tired. I just ordered the cooks to make a fresh batch of coffee; you’re gonna need it. That’s about it.”

    “Why aren’t we zigzagging?”

    “Captain’s orders. Straight line patrol between points Able and Baker is what he wanted.”

    “With an enemy force headed south we should be at Condition II at least.”

    “I don’t know about that, but the captain wants to give the crew some rest.”

    “Do we have star shells loaded or at the ready?”


    “Which gun mounts are manned?”

    “Mounts 51 and 55.”

    “Only two?”

    “Yes, and before you ask, one-third of the anti-aircraft batteries are manned, and I told those gun crews they could sleep at their stations.”

    “Are the crews in Mounts 51 and 55 asleep?”


    Out of professional courtesy, O’Toole didn’t challenge Karl, even though he would have been justified in refusing to relieve Karl of the watch until Karl corrected the battle readiness of the ship.

    O’Toole saluted Lieutenant Karl and said, “I relieve you, sir.”

    Karl nodded. “This is Mister Karl, Mister O’Toole has the deck and the conn,” Karl said to the bridge crew.

    “This is Mister O’Toole, I have the deck and the conn,” O’Toole replied.

    Karl handed O’Toole his life jacket, helmet, and gun belt and walked to the small chart table in the forward port section of the wheelhouse to complete his log entries. O’Toole brushed back his flaming red hair and put on the helmet, life jacket, and gun making sure all straps were cinched tight.

    “Boats, over here,” O’Toole said to the boatswain mate of the watch as he headed to the starboard bridge wing. It was a lazy night: clear sky, high overhead clouds, calm sea, a slight breeze, and the ship plodding forward at ten knots. A night like this could dull the senses of the best of men. He couldn’t let that happen.

    “Boats, square your watch away. We are in enemy waters, and there are reports of a column of Jap cruisers headed our way. I want everyone on their toes.”

    “Aye, aye, sir.”

    “Messenger, over here,” O’Toole said, beckoning the watch messenger.

    “Go below and wake up the chiefs and tell them there are enemy ships in the area. I want them to make sure their watches are alert and ready. Tell the gunnery chief I want him on the bridge.”

    “Yes, sir,” the messenger said and headed for the ladder.

    A few minutes later, the gunnery chief appeared barefooted and in a white T-shirt. “Yes, sir, you wanted to see me?”

    “Jap ships are headed our way. Check your gun crews; I want them alert with their eyes to the sea. Bring six star shells to the ready with one round in the mount. If we come under fire, I want Mount 51 to fire three star shells in a 180-degree spread without orders from the bridge.”

    “What’s up, sir?”

    “Not sure, chief, except we are in dangerous waters and the crew is asleep.”

    “Will do, sir. Should I stay with the gun crews?”

    “Wouldn’t be a bad idea, chief. Do what you think is best, but be aware things might get worse at dawn.”

    “Yes, sir.” The chief trotted to the ladder and disappeared.

    Lieutenant Karl finished his log entries and left the bridge. O’Toole stood next to the quartermaster at the chart table in the forward port section of the wheelhouse. He retrieved the sighting report. Five Japanese cruisers and four destroyers headed south at thirty knots. O’Toole plotted the ten-hour-old sighting location on the chart and walked the dividers across the chart to estimate the current location of Japanese forces. They would have passed the Green an hour ago and would now be on top of the northern defense line around Red Beach.

    The receding drone of an aircraft off the port bow caught his ear. They were too far from the Japanese airbase at Rabaul for them to have planes this far south at night. It didn’t make sense: he didn’t think the carrier aircraft could operate at night, but spotter planes from a cruiser could.

    Nothing had happened. Maybe the Japanese column had slowed or diverted. Naval doctrine taught officers to avoid night attacks since it complicated the battle, and everyone knew you couldn’t shoot at an enemy hiding in the darkness. Still, everything added up to a night counterattack against the Guadalcanal invasion force.

    “Get the captain up here on the double. I’ll be on the flying bridge,” O’Toole said the watch messenger.

    He felt better on the flying bridge where he had an unobstructed view of the sea and sky. He swept the horizon with his binoculars: nothing but a black night.

    The crew was exhausted from the invasion of Guadalcanal the prior morning. The shirtless bodies of a hundred sleeping men escaping the oppressive heat and humidity of their berthing spaces lay on the dark main deck. Not regular navy, O’Toole thought, but he couldn’t object because the crew needed the sleep.

    “What’s up, Pat?” Captain Levitte asked as soon as his head popped above the flying bridge deck level.

    “I think we have trouble, Captain. The Japanese column sighted in the intelligence report should be on top of the northern defense line right about now. We should be at general quarters or at least Condition II and be zigzagging. There could be subs in the area.”

    Levitte rubbed the back of his neck, then put his hands in his pockets, and walked in a tight circle with his eyes on the deck. “Look, the Japs aren’t that smart, and you should know not even the Japs are dumb enough to attack at night. Nothing will happen until the sun comes up. In the meantime, cut the crew some slack; they’re tired and need their sleep.”

    “I’m sorry, Captain, but that doesn’t make sense. The sighting said the Japs were at thirty knots. They wouldn’t do that and then slow down to wait for the sun to come up.”

    “No matter what happens we’ll kick their ass,” Levitte began. “We kicked their ass in the Coral Sea and Midway. Now we’re kicking their ass off Guadalcanal. The marines ran the Jap garrison into the jungle before lunch. They can’t stand up to us no matter what, so there’s no reason to get worked up about it.”

    “To be safe, let me take the ship to Condition II and zigzag. It won’t hurt anything.”

    “No, lieutenant. My night orders said to cut the crew some slack, and there is no need to waste fuel zigzagging. You read my night orders, didn’t you?”

    “Yes, sir.”

    “Good. Follow them, and let me get some sleep.”

    The shirtless lookout stiffened. “Sir, light flashes, port beam.”

    Both men turned. Staccato bursts of light above the southern horizon illuminated the sky.

    Another voice called out, “Flares off the port beam.”

    The night erupted. White-golden flashes close to port blinded O’Toole. Captain Levitte’s chest exploded into a mist of blood. Shells exploded against the mast, and men dove to the deck.

    On his stomach, O’Toole fought his life jacket as he rolled to the starboard edge of the deck. Crawling under the railing, he let himself over the side. He was about to let himself drop the last three feet when a jolt catapulted him to the deck below. His head hit the deck, and despite his cinched helmet, the blow stunned him to the precipice of unconsciousness. O’Toole fought to bring himself back to the present as he wobbled to a crouched position.

    Concussions from explosions aft the wheelhouse punched at his chest and abdomen. He had to go through the wheelhouse to the port side to see the enemy ship. In the wheelhouse, only the quartermaster was up, crouching in the corner by the chart table. Sparks and flashes of incoming fire covered the aft bulkhead and enveloped the wheelhouse in smoke, shrapnel, and debris. Broken, screaming bodies littered the deck.

    He fought his way through the wheelhouse across shattered glass that slid like ice across the blood-drenched deck. The Green’s guns hadn’t returned fire.

    He turned to find the phone talker. A flash memory of the phone talker’s body falling next to the captain made him stop. The phone talker was dead along with most of the bridge crew. He was alone; he had no bridge crew, and there was no one left to command. To anyone who could hear, he yelled, “Tell the gun crews to return fire.”

    On the port bridge wing, he peered over the railing. A thousand yards away, two searchlights blinded him, and a torrent of tracer fire arched toward the Green. Muzzle flashes from the enemy ship’s heavy guns ripped at the darkness, and spasmodic explosions on the Green followed each flash.

    On his stomach looking aft, he tried to understand the hell erupting around him. Black smoke spewed from golden fires, and smoke boiled across the fantail near the depth charge racks. Antiaircraft rounds raked the Green’s main deck, tearing men apart; the lucky ones leapt overboard.

    In the forward boiler room, the port bulkhead ruptured three feet below the waterline in a flash of light, wrenching the keel. Shrapnel pierced the two Babcock & Wilcox boilers, which exploded upward, shredding the main deck overhead. A half-second later, a second explosion severed the keel, and a third tore the shattered hull of the Green in two.

    Sheets of water vaulted into the air, and the explosions pushed the Green hard to starboard and lifted it upward in a death spasm.

    Torpedoes. The word lingered in O’Toole’s mind until he understood, then it vanished. He pulled himself to his feet. Ruptured boilers roared beneath clouds of steam.

    The Green hinged aft the deckhouse. The stern rose and began its slide beneath the surface. When the cool seawater reached the aft boilers they blew a ten-foot mound of white water to the surface. The mound collapsed into a steam haze low above the water. As the first wisps of steam dissipated, they dragged O’Toole from his stupor.

    The gunfire stopped. The searchlights were gone. Screams, moans, and the sound of rushing water welled up to fill the silence. He strained his eyes for an enemy invisible in the night. They had vanished. The battle was over.

    There was no time for thinking or words; the conclusions flashed through his mind fully formed.

    When the armed depth charges on the sinking fantail detonated, anyone in the water would suffer intestinal hemorrhaging and a slow, excruciating death.

    To the men below he yelled, “Stay with the ship! Don’t go in the water; depth charges! Get everyone in the water back aboard!”

    O’Toole took inventory. The forward part of the ship, though sinking, seemed stable. The wheelhouse was a confusing mass of shadows cut against golden fires, and the smell of blood and noxious nitrate gasses filled his head.

    He entered the wheelhouse and stumbled. His knee landed on something soft. He looked down at the chest of a headless body. O’Toole’s stomach wrenched.

    A figure appeared. “Sir, we took three torpedoes. No water pressure to fight the fires, no power, and we are flooding forward.”

    One by one the sinking depth charges designed to sink submarines began to detonate, sending tremors from each concussive blow through the ship. When the explosions stopped, O’Toole took a deep breath, and the acid-laced air burned his lungs. “Get below. Pass the word to abandon ship.”

    O’Toole turned his attention to the main deck, and released the one remaining life raft stored just below the bridge railing. Not waiting for orders, shirtless survivors leapt overboard. It seemed to take hours, but soon the decks were empty and the survivors were off the ship. With nothing left to do, he wondered if radio managed to send a message. He doubted it. He turned to the quartermaster and said, “Let’s go.”

    The quartermaster collected the ship’s logs and joined O’Toole.

    As he prepared to jump the last ten feet into the ocean, the quartermaster yelled, “Stop! Your helmet, sir.”

    O’Toole had forgotten he was wearing it. Going overboard with a cinched helmet would break your neck. He tore it off, and they jumped together.

    There was no past and no future, only the immediate need to survive. O’Toole swam from the sinking bow section, demanding his muscles move faster before her sinking hulk sucked him under. His muscles grew tired from the frenzied effort until a voice yelled, “She’s going down.”

    He stopped and turned to what remained of the Green. Out of breath, he bobbed in the one-foot swells and coughed to clear the salt water from his lungs. The Green’s prow swung skyward while the hulk of the remaining bow section backed into the depths. The sea extinguished the fires as she slid under.

    She died a silent death. After the tip of the bow disappeared, his eyes lost focus and he stared at the empty sea for several seconds, unable to grasp the meaning of this moment.

    He linked up with a small group of survivors, and they linked up with other groups. They located two floater nets, lashed them together, and placed the injured in them. They found several of the watertight powder canisters used to protect the five-inch brass powder casings while in the magazines. The crew used empty canisters to stow stable dry food and water with the floater nets. He ordered several men to attract scattered survivors by yelling into the night.

    At first, groups of four would swim toward them. Now an occasional lone survivor would show up. O’Toole gathered the surviving officers and chief petty officers. The group of seven rolled with the lazy sea, clutching the floater net to stay together. Three wore life jackets; the other four relied on the floater net.

    “Someone said there is another group with a floater net south of us.” Pointing to Ensigns Carter and Fitch, O’Toole said, “Swim to the south floater net, if there is one, take a count, and tell them to swim their way to us and lash-in. While you’re at it, round up volunteers to scavenge for debris we can use. The men should also collect all the powder canisters and bring them here.”

    Turning to Chief Brandon, he said, “Make sure the injured are wearing life jackets, and get those with serious wounds in the floater nets.” Brandon swam off.

    To Ensigns Parker and Adbury, he said, “You two make the rounds and get a head count of the healthy, injured, and critically wounded. After you report back, take charge of the injured. Collect the morphine ampules from the crew.” O’Toole reached into his trouser pocket and handed over two morphine ampules. “Bring the wounded together, especially those with bleeding wounds. Get them in the floater nets and get the bleeding stopped; the sharks will show up soon enough.”

    To Chief Zies, O’Toole said, “Chief, make the rounds, talk to everyone, and make sure their heads are on straight. Find anyone who might lose it and buddy them up with someone. We don’t want panic or men going nuts.”

    Chief Zies swam off, and O’Toole reached underwater to remove his shoes. He tied the laces together and draped them over his neck.

    Chief Zies made his rounds and returned to O’Toole’s position.

    “You get a head count yet?” O’Toole asked.

    “My count is fifty-seven, including you.”

    “Just fifty-seven?”

    “Lieutenant, the aft two-thirds of the ship sank like a rock. From the time the Japs attacked to the time the stern sank wasn’t more than a minute. I’m surprised we have this many left.”

    O’Toole’s chest went hollow, and his mind went blank. Visions of shattered bodies and blood-soaked decks, the sound of dying men flashed through his mind. His gut radiated the hollowness of failure.

    The dark corners of his mind whispered, “You’ll never be the same.”

    “Three-fourths of the crew is missing,” O’Toole said.

    “There has to be more out there,” Zies said.

    “Yeah, there has to more out there,” O’Toole said.

    As the deck officer, he was responsible for the safety of the ship and crew.

    He had scanned the horizon, and he had jacked up the lookouts and the bridge crew. It hadn’t been enough. Either way it was his responsibility. It takes three minutes to get a torpedo firing solution, and one zigzag might have destroyed their firing solution and saved the ship. He hadn’t seen his options; the wall had blocked him again. His grandfather’s words stabbed at him.

    You’re not adequate.

    It was the story of his life; he always fell short of adequacy. There was always one more thing he might have done, but he could never see it until it was too late. The wall was always there to stop him and hide the solution. His wall had damned him to failure again. The wall was always there blocking his way a single step short of success.

    Ensign Parker swam over to him. “Got the head count. Fifty-seven men. Twenty-one wounded. Six critical. That includes the south floater net we got lashed-in.”

    “We’ll wait till dawn to find the others,” Zies said. “What the heck happened, sir?”

    “Wish I knew,” O’Toole began. “A column of Jap ships were headed to Guadalcanal to counterattack. I suspect they left a destroyer behind to ambush us once the fight off Guadalcanal started.”

    “That means they spotted us, but how did that happen without us seeing them?” Zies asked.

    “That part is easy. We weren’t looking, but I still can’t figure out how we missed them once we did start looking. I should have zigzagged despite the captain’s orders.”

    Zies looked at O’Toole for a long minute. “You’re not blaming yourself for this, are you?”

    O’Toole didn’t answer.

    “Are you?”

    The question tore at O’Toole, but he had to look forward, and swore the wall would not stop him. “For now, we’re not losing any more men, Chief. Keep the men together. They’ll start looking for survivors tomorrow; they’ll find us.” O’Toole said.

    Voices shouted. Zies turned. A searchlight from an approaching ship probed the surrounding sea. When it reached the far end of the floater nets, gunfire erupted. Spikes of water shot up around the Green’s survivors.

    Both O’Toole and Zies screamed, “Everyone down!”

    O’Toole shed his life jacket, took a deep breath, and dove. He figured five feet would be enough. He pivoted his feet beneath him and tried to maintain his depth. When the burning in his lungs became unbearable, he kicked hard to reach the surface. When his head cleared the water, he sucked in a chest of air, preparing to dive again, but the gunfire stopped.

    The searchlight now centered itself on his small group, and a Japanese heavy cruiser loomed over them. With his hand, he blocked the searchlight so he could see the bridge. He studied the bridge and a man with a patch over his left eye. By his position on the bridge wing, his carriage, and the separation between him and the other officers, O’Toole guessed he was the captain.

    They locked eyes. Neither man flinched. After several seconds, the Japanese captain walked away. The cruiser picked up speed and disappeared into the night.

    Zies asked O’Toole, “What was going on between you and the guy with the eye patch?”

    “I wanted the bastard to know we weren’t defeated,” O’Toole began. “The Japs won this battle not with equipment but with smarter officers and sharper training. How they pulled it off was brilliant: at night, torpedoes first, guns second, no star shells. They mauled us with their guns, but knew that wouldn’t sink us. Once the Jap ship saw the torpedoes hit, there was no need to continue a gun battle and endanger their ship; they knew they had sunk us, so they vanished into the night.”

    O’Toole shook his head; he would have to figure out what happened later; he put it out of his mind.

    “Okay, Chief, have the men with life jackets chain up. Make sure they lash in each chain to a floater net. As you make the rounds, make sure everyone is secure for the night. By God, we’re not losing any more men.”

    “Aye, sir.” Zies swam away, yelling, “Everyone chain up and lash in!”

    Men formed spiral chains. One man would loop his arm through the hole below the high collar of the next man’s life jacket, burying the arm to the shoulder. The chains provided security, extra buoyancy, and a way to sleep without drifting away.


    About The Author





    Larry Laswell



    Larry Laswell served in the US Navy for eight years. In navy parlance, he was a mustang, someone who rose from the enlisted ranks to receive an officer’s commission. While enlisted, he was assigned to the USS John Marshall SSBN-611 (Gold Crew). After earning his commission, he served as main engines officer aboard the USS Intrepid CV-11. His last assignment was as a submarine warfare officer aboard the USS William M. Wood DD-715 while she was home ported in Elefsis, Greece.
    In addition to writing, Larry, a retired CEO fills his spare time with woodworking and furniture design. He continues to work on The Marathon Watch series, an upcoming science fiction series titled The Ethosians, and an anthology of over eighty humorous sea stories titled A Ship-load of Sea Stories & 1 Fairy Tale.
    You can visit Larry Laswell’s website at
    Connect with Larry Laswell:
    Author Blog:
    Poetry Contest

    Win a dinner for two, a night on the town, or whatever you want to do with $250!

    Enter Larry Laswell’s Vows to the Fallen Poetry Contest!

    Pre-release sales of Vows to the Fallen will begin on July 1, 2015 for release on August 14th. One of the characters in the book has a habit of reciting excerpts from classic poems. If you are the first to correctly name all of the poems you win! $150 for second place and $100 for third place.

    Here are the rules:

    1. Order Vows to the Fallen in Amazon’s Kindle store.

    2. At midnight (EST) download Vows to the Fallen and read it to find the poetry excerpts.

    3. Leave a review on Amazon (How you rate the book has no bearing on your eligibility to win.)

    3. Go to and click on “Contest.” In the form tell Larry under what name you left the review, and then list the poems by name and author. (Watch your spelling – it must be exact!)
    4. The first correct entrant who left a review wins a dinner for two, a night on the town, or whatever they want to do with $250!

    5. If Larry cannot identify the entrant’s review they will be disqualified (don’t use an anonymous name!)

    6. If Larry receives more than one entry at the same time stamp, Larry will hold a drawing to determine the winners.

    7. Any organization, or individual who received an advance review copy, their employees or family are ineligible.

    8. Larry is the contest judge, and his judgement is final.

    9. Larry is not responsible for delivery delays in the Amazon Kindle system.

    10. Larry will post the winners on his website at 8AM EST on September 1, 2015.

    Pre-order Vows to the Fallen today!


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    postheadericon Secret History by Martin Roberts Book Feature!

    Title: Secret History

    Author: Martin Roberts

    Publisher: AuthorHouse

    Pages: 300

    Genre: History

    Format: Kindle/Paperback

    This book is a fascinating account of a number of criminal cases in the United States and in the United Kingdom, some of which resulted in wrong convictions. The book is part narrative, part analysis. The analysis, in particular the demolition of the reputation of Whittaker Chambers,ex-spy and idol of many Americans (he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom) will arouse debate and rethinking of the real lessons of the cases. The British cases will shock the complacency of many British people. Both parts are relevant to the current debate on how to deal with Islamic terrorists, whose fanaticism recalls that of the IRA and supporters of Communism. The book includes an analysis of Communism and the way in which its supporters manipulate fact for their own ends.


    To Purchase Secret History


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    Martin Roberts is a British subject living in Belgium. He began to study contested verdicts in criminal cases when he started to study for a law degree, and this book is the result. He trained as an archivist and worked in that field for 26 years. This has given him a lot of patience and a bit of scepticism about what records tell us. He has sought to make his book user-friendly by quoting online sources and allowing the reader to find his way through the facts and arguments to reach his own conclusions.

    postheadericon The Toy Taker by Luke Delaney Book Feature!

        Title: The Toy Taker
    Author: Luke Delaney
    Publisher: Harper
    Genre: Thriller/Suspense
    Format: Kindle/Paperback

    Outside the house, it’s cold and dark.

    Inside, where it’s warm, children are sleeping.

    D.I. Sean Corrigan might have a tiny new office at Scotland Yard and a huge new beat—all of London—but the job is the same. His team has a knack for catching the sickest criminals on either side of the Thames, thanks in large part to Corrigan’s uncanny ability to place himself inside the mind of a predator.

    But he just can’t get a read on this new case. Four-year-old George Bridgeman went to sleep in his bedroom in a leafy London suburb . . . and wasn’t there in the morning. No tripped alarms. No broken windows. No sign of forced entry or struggle.

    As his investigation zeroes in on a suspect, Corrigan’s gut tells him it doesn’t add up. Then another child is taken. Now someone’s toying with Corrigan. And the game is about to turn deadly.


    The Toy Taker is available for order at  



    google play


    Luke Delaney joined the Metropolitan Police Service in the late 1980s and his first posting was to an inner city area of South East London notorious for high levels of crime and extreme violence. He later joined CID where he investigated murders ranging from those committed by fledgling serial killers to gangland assassinations…

    For More Information

    Visit Luke’s website.

    Connect with Luke



    postheadericon Book Spotlight: The Demons of Plainville by Daniel R. Mathews

    About The Book


    Title: The Demons of Plainville: A Survivor’s Story of Storms and Reconstruction

    Author: Daniel R. Mathews

    Publisher: Lost Legacy Press

    Publication Date: May 26, 2015

    Format: Paperback – 292 pages / eBook  / PDF

    ISBN: 978-0990710745

    Genre: Autobiography / Memoir / LGBT / Non Fiction
    Buy The Book:



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    Book Description:

    Some true stories read like fiction, but for those who have to personally live through the experiences, the nightmare is vividly real. Daniel R. Mathews digs into the darkness of his past with his haunting memoir, The Demons of Plainville.

    As a child, Daniel struggles to find his footing in an upside-down world. His mother is mentally ill and addicted to drugs; she performs black masses to summon demons, is physically abusive, and plays brutal mind games that make him doubt his sanity and despair of ever making sense of life or himself. Even his father beats Daniel after “rescuing” him from his mother. Thanks to a few unexpected friends, Daniel survives his devastating youth and emerges stronger for it.

    But Daniel’s battles aren’t over. Finally free of his abusive parents, he now must face himself and wrestle with his sexual identity in a community that sees nothing wrong with homophobia.

    Candid and compelling, this is a triumphant tale of a young man who walked through the darkness, bravely faced his demons, and against all odds carried the faint light of hope with him every step of the way.


    Book Excerpt:
    Chapter 1: Telling The Truth

    Accusations. This is how it always begins. S Screaming follows when my answers prove inadequate. Then come the threats, and finally the misery of surrender.

    I was about eight at the time, living in a small red brick apartment building

    in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Our apartment was on the basement floor, so

    there was not a good view outside, only a few small quarter windows allowing

    in some daylight. The building stood on a grassy hill that overlooked Myles

    Standish State Forest. Some days I would just curl up on the sun-warmed

    grass, staring down into the forest below me and imagining that I was a bird

    darting between the trees.

    My anger grew as we went through the same cycle day after day. I stood

    in our tiny living room facing the yellow sofa with my mother giving me that

    disdainful stare that made me feel ashamed. I’d look towards the light tan

    carpet, afraid to make eye contact with her. The details of the accusation did

    not matter, as I seldom had any idea what she was talking about. Whether

    there was a quarter missing from her bureau or the bathroom light being left

    on at night, there was no end to the possibilities of accusations. Each day the

    school bus dropped me off at the bottom of the hill, I paused at the bus-stop

    to gather whatever courage I could muster. I knew that a new accusation

    would be awaiting me, starting the cycle anew.

    “Stand up straight when I’m talking to you!” She barks at me. “And stop looking

    down at your feet. Where is it, what did you do with it?” she screams, finger

    pointed towards me.

    “I don’t know,” I say defensively, shrugging my shoulders.

    “You little fucking liar,” she says, standing up from the couch and slapping my

    face. “Now get in your room!”

    I would rush into my small room in our apartment, slamming the white door

    shut before ripping clumps of my own short blond hair out. I hid the hair

    under my giant stuffed bear, which stood up to my waist in height. The bear

    was a gift from my maternal grandparents, ever standing ready to accept my

    love. I clung to the bear; its soft white and gray fur brought me comfort during

    times of sadness or anger.

    My mother grew suspicious of the growing bald spot on the top of my

    head and one afternoon decided to tear the room apart. Eventually, she found

    the tangled lump of blond hair hidden under the bear and challenged me for

    answers, answers I did not have. I could not explain the anger inside me, at

    least not an explanation I dared speak in front of her. I had begun craving

    independence and the seeds of rebellion sprouted forth. She pushed me at

    every opportunity, accused and cursed me for anything ranging from theft to

    family misfortune. I just did not understand.

    My only outlet was to punish myself through self-inflicted pain, just to

    release the frustration. My mother took an attitude of open hostility against

    me, one that persisted throughout my childhood.

    “I’m going to send you to a mental institution!” she screamed at me, her long

    dirty blond hair swinging between her shoulder blades as she frantically shook

    her head. She wiped the sweat from her flushed brow then paused for a moment

    and looked down at me with great disgust waving the fist full of my hair

    she found at me. I clung to my stuffed bear, looking up at her.

    “If you do not learn to behave, I’m going to send you to a reform school

    for boys.” She had hesitated for just a moment longer before her voice shifted

    into a menacing tone. “They just love cute little white boys at the reform

    school. They will take care of you real good.” Turning her back on me, she

    stormed out of the room, leaving me weeping into my bear’s fur while I continued

    to hug it with all my strength.

    I’d heard of reform school before I was in second grade. However, I was

    left pondering the nature of how they would take care of me. Strange feelings

    overtook me. At first, heat surged through my body, then excitement.

    My heart began to beat faster, and for the first time that day I smiled. The

    words take care of you echoed in my mind over and over. Other boys at this reform

    school were going to take care of me. My mind reinterpreted her hidden

    threat; other boys were going to be touching me. I did not understand what

    this might mean, but I wanted desperately to find out. These strange longings

    would grow and expand in time. The seed long within me had sprouted. Yet,

    it did not grow for a while.

    We eventually moved from the basement apartment to my grandparents’

    house in the same town. The small ranch style house was nestled in small

    groves of pine and oak trees. There were numerous cranberry bogs in the

    area and a large waterfront district a few miles east of the house. Small single

    engine airplanes frequently flew overhead, taking off and landing at the local

    airport just to the north.

    The yard was ideal for play, with a large back yard that sloped down into

    a small grove of pines and blueberry bushes. The neighbors behind the house

    owned a pair of horses that I visited every day. The house had three small

    bedrooms. My room was adjacent to the living room, just wide enough to fit

    my bed and a small dresser. When in the house I spent most of my time looking

    out the large living room bay window watching the cars and trucks drive

    by. Otherwise, I sat on the back deck with my grandmother. We would try

    to identify the particular birds visiting the feeder using a small field guide to

    birds. I went down the stairs and tossed a ball around with my grandfather on

    the lawn or helped him weed his small garden.

    Because of the influence and presence of my grandparents (my mother’s

    parents), my problems decreased. More often than not, my mother would

    go off with her cousin Alice, leaving me behind. Alice’s arrival frequently

    corresponded with noticeable changes in my mother’s behavior. Alice was

    stern yet generally pleasant towards me. However, when they left together,

    they would return in a giggly or light-hearted mood, which would come

    crashing down a few hours later. I found the sudden mood shifts to be the

    most troubling occurrence because it added uncertainty and fear to my already

    besieged mind. One afternoon, though, while my grandparents were

    out for the day, my mother and her cousin called me into the small bedroom

    my mother was staying in at the end of the house.

    Mother closes the curtains and shades, leaving just a shaft of sunlight entering the

    room. She held a large red case, almost like a toolbox of some sort. She opened

    the case and took out some items, including candles, a bell, incense, goblet,

    matches, and a book. The book was entitled The Satanic Bible. She placed the

    black and red candles around in a pattern that she refers to as a pentagram

    with a circle around it. She ordered me into the imaginary circle and told me

    to remain silent and not leave the center of the circle for any reason,” or else.”

    She and Alice joined me in the circle while they lit a burner and then some

    incense. The snaking trail of smoke climbed towards the ceiling. The ritual

    was both exciting and frightening. She picked up the book and looked over at

    me, smiling. She told me that she would pray to Satan and summon demons,

    but the demons were not allowed to enter the circle. As long as I remained

    calm, I would be protected.

    She began the mass by ringing the bells; she used the book to speak words

    I’d never heard before. The ringing echoed faintly in the room, combining

    with the sweet smell of the incense. I felt almost dizzy, overcome by a giddy

    feeling of excitement.

    She proceeded to cut herself with a silver knife with an ornate looking

    pearl handle, just enough to draw a steady trickle of blood from her finger, allowing

    it to flow into a tarnished bronze colored chalice. Alice took the knife

    and sliced her own finger, allowing drops of blood to fall into the chalice. My

    mother held the chalice upwards as an offering and mumbled a few words.

    After placing it back on the ground, she took a long slender writing instrument

    and dipped it into the blood. The blood served as the ink, allowing her

    to write on a small blank piece of white paper. I couldn’t see the writing, but

    she told me it was an offering for our luck and fortune. She ripped the paper

    into small pieces and set it ablaze. The mass finished with a final ringing of

    the bells, driving away the demons.

    I couldn’t see these creatures, but the air was laden with smoke and darkness.

    I was sure the demons were there.

    That afternoon was my first introduction to the “Lucifer,” originally the chosen

    angel. The year was 1976 but on this otherwise bright summer afternoon,

    it might have been 1692. Witchcraft was alive and well in the suburbs of


    Mother and Alice repeated this scene several times during the summer,

    always when my grandparents were out of the house. Since these rituals were

    never performed in their presence, I always wondered what the ramifications

    would be if they found out. As strange as it sounds, these were the few times I

    felt emotionally close and accepted by my mother, so I was grateful for them.

    As October approached, we were on the road once again. My mother,

    Alice and I settled down one town over into a small cottage in the woods

    of Carver. The cottage was just a ten minutes’ drive from my grandparents’

    home, nestled amid lush green pines and small evergreen trees. Alice worked

    for the state in Boston and money my mother received from welfare covered

    the cottage’s rent. The commute from Carver to Boston was long, so Alice left

    early in the morning before I got the bus and did not return home until the

    sun had set. My mother spent a great deal of time sleeping during these times,

    taking various prescriptions that generally left her tired and moody.

    Loving the outdoors and the woods, I approved of our new home’s location.

    Surrounded by miles of forest and a large lake that reflected the sunlight

    in shimmering ripples of yellow, it was almost a boy’s dream come true. The

    dream didn’t last long though.

    I started the third grade at age nine that autumn. School became an issue

    for me almost immediately. The first day I climbed into the bus, the driver

    assumed I was a girl, as did the kids on the bus.

    “Who are you?” the bus driver inquired, searching his list.

    Before I could answer, he said, “Oh, there must be a mistake. Your name

    is Danielle, right?”

    I looked at him in surprise, “No, it’s Daniel!” I snapped back. The kids

    in the front seat immediately giggled and pointed at me. I looked down and

    began blushing.

    The bus driver cleared his throat. “Well, Danielle is French for Daniel. So

    climb on in, let’s go.”

    This led to the unavoidable teasing and taunting one would naturally

    expect from such a mistake. I could barely contain the tears of shame though

    I did a reasonable job of keeping some composure for the trip to school. My

    natural femininity provided a constant source of irritation throughout the

    first semester, though eventually the kids forgot about it. Perhaps subconsciously,

    I began to isolate myself.

    Yet school was only a passing nuisance because my mother’s attitude towards

    me changed quickly. She resented my growing desire for privacy and

    independence. Away from the influence of my grandparents, my mother’s disposition

    soured. The cycle of accusations and threats began to accelerate, taking

    on a more menacing tone.


    Book Trailer:


    Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE
        About The Author

    An avid reader of science fiction, horror, and fantasy, Daniel R. Mathews is a novelist and nonfiction writer whose books feature LGBT youth braving danger with honor and dignity, including his personal memoir, The Demons of Plainville, and debut horror novel, The Unseen Kingdom.

    For the past two decades, Mathews has worked as a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified ground instructor, meteorologist, and a member of the web development and Internet technical support community. He currently lives in Flagstaff, Arizona.
    Connect with Daniel R. Mathews:








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    postheadericon Book Spotlight: The White Knight, the Lost Kingdom, and the Sea Princess by Judy Carlson

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    About The Book


    The White Knight


    TitleThe White Knight, the Lost Kingdom, and the Sea Princess

    Author: Judy Carlson

    Publisher: Nordskog Publishing, Inc.

    Publication Date: July 1, 2015

    Format: eBook / PDF / Paperback

    Pages: 476

    ISBN: 978-0983195757

    Genre: Mythical Fantasy



    Buy The Book:





    Book Description:


    Just as the creator of the Chronicles of Narnia decided to try his writer’s hand and imagination, I decided to try something too.  And so, I have written a story of my own having been prompted by that same idea of creating a God presence in another place.  No, it is not Narnia but it is a new world similar yet different from our own.  Surely, as I write this, I was inspired by the man who has invited tens of thousands of readers and not a few writers to write, think and look beyond this ‘shadow land’ called earth.  I have named it The White Knight, the Lost Kingdom, and the Sea Princess’


    It is a story of intrigue and ever present danger in a world populated by creatures and mortals, whose destiny hangs by the threads of an Emperor’s vision,  a prince’s lost love,  mysterious foes, enchanting  forest maidens, unlikely heroes, and a mermaid-heroine. All of this is wrapped up in a champion so invincible, yet mysterious, that he challenges the Dark Sorcerer with supernatural forces of a fascinating nature, using even the humblest of defenders.  This profound love story will leave you with a taste for a country and a universe beyond your dreams and even imaginings.  A world that is A fairy tale come true, and one “you will never want to end”.





    Book Excerpt:


    Chapter 1:


    The Vanquished Kingdom


    Under the Laws of Providence We have duties which are perilous. –Austin Phelps


    Affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it. –John Donne

    A deathly pall hung over the palace and the city of Ajar as the threatening presence of the insidious Black Guard escalated. 


    “Hurry!” called the Queen to her maidservant, “Come quickly, Dianna!”


    “Yes, Your Majesty!” 


    “The trunk is in my wardrobe closet. Count Amas has ordered two of his trusted men to secure it for me. They will take it to the cottage of the nursemaid Elnora and secret it there. We only hope they can avoid discovery.” 


    “Yes, madam,” the girl answered in a trembling voice. 


    “Disguise it with this linen cloth, Dianna, and lay flowers upon it. If noticed at all, a covered table will arouse less suspicion than a royal trunk.” The Queen of the Eastern Islands paused and lowered her head for a moment. Then glancing up at the servant girl, she said, “If evil befalls both Lady Elnora and me, reveal the trunk’s whereabouts only to a trusted friend. Perhaps my son Loren still has breath somewhere in this dim world and will come thither to claim it one day.”


    “But, Your Majesty, surely the Lord Regent would not dare to hurt you!” The girl began weeping. Queen Maybella took her by the shoulders, fighting back her own tears. 


    “Forgive us, maiden, for we allowed evil to enter our beloved kingdom. Weep not for us. If we perish, we shall go to the White City. Weep for those who remain here in this place.” The lady’s voice became intense. “You must flee the palace if we are . . .removed. This wicked Usurper will come to his undoing some day. Yet as for you, without my protection, you will be. . . . Please, you must flee. Trust no strangers, Dianna. Aryel the White Knight will return. Be strong until then.” 


    (The increased power and control of the Lord Regent and his Black Guard had rendered the king and his advisors only figureheads. The royal family were little more than prisoners in their own palace. Fear of the attacks of a horrible dragon had spread like an epidemic over the citizens of the Eastern Island Kingdom of Ajar. In as much as it seemed only the Lord Regent had power over the fearsome beast, they had capitulated. Kneel or perish was his mantra. They were a free people no more. The few citizens who rebelled were killed, and so the underground resistance was born.) 


    The handmaiden of the queen did as her mistress bid her. When the soldiers came to take the trunk, it appeared to be a bench or table adorned for a summer tea. Several hours later, there came shouts and then screams from the royal family’s quarters. King Elmern’s voice was commanding, but to no avail. “Do not harm my sons! Take me only!” 


    A thunderous voice roared back, “Silence, you fool! If I would destroy you, why then would I leave an heir!” Following a tortuous silence, the Black Guards’ boots stomped through the halls. Then they paused behind the chapel door. The door shook from their pounding blows. The maidservant yet stayed by her mistress.



     About The Author

    Judy Carlson


    Judy Carlson is from St. Paul, MN. She and husband Tim have six children and 20 grandchildren and reside in Missouri. Judy has a BA in English from Trinity International University. Her lifetime passion for literature and writing and the works of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien has permeated this novel with their characteristic sense of wonder. She  wrote her first story at age nine, and has been the grand storyteller to her children and grandchildren.

    Connect with Judy:

    Publisher Website:


    Virtual Book Tour Event Page



    The White Knight Banner

    postheadericon Announcing Kim Boykin’s A Peach of a Pair Release Day Blitz!

    A Peach of a Pair Release Day Blitz banner

    We’re happy to be hosting Kim Boykin and her A PEACH OF A PAIR RELEASE DAY BLITZ today!

    About the Book:

    A Peach of a Pair 2

    Title: A Peach of a Pair
    Author: Kim Boykin
    Publisher: Penguin Random House/Berkley Books
    Genre:Southern Women’s Fiction

    Purchase at Amazon

    “Palmetto Moon” inspired “The Huffington Post” to rave, It is always nice to discover a new talented author and Kim Boykin is quite a find. Now, she delivers a novel of a woman picking up the pieces of her life with the help of two spirited, elderly sisters in South Carolina.
    April, 1953. Nettie Gilbert has cherished her time studying to be a music teacher at Columbia College in South Carolina, but as graduation approaches, she can t wait to return to her family and her childhood sweetheart, Brooks in Alabama. But just days before her senior recital, she gets a letter from her mama telling her that Brooks is getting married . . . to her own sister.
    Devastated, Nettie drops out of school and takes a job as live-in help for two old-maid sisters, Emily and Lurleen Eldridge. Emily is fiercely protective of the ailing Lurleen, but their sisterhood has weathered many storms. And as Nettie learns more about their lives on a trip to see a faith healer halfway across the country, she ll discover that love and forgiveness will one day lead her home.

    About the Author:

    Kim Boykin

    Kim Boykin was raised in her South Carolina home with two girly sisters and great parents. She had a happy, boring childhood, which sucks if you’re a writer because you have to create your own crazy. PLUS after you’re published and you’re being interviewed, it’s very appealing when the author actually lived in Crazy Town or somewhere in the general vicinity.

    Almost everything she learned about writing, she learned from her grandpa, an oral storyteller, who was a master teacher of pacing and sensory detail. He held court under an old mimosa tree on the family farm, and people used to come from all around to hear him tell stories about growing up in rural Georgia and share his unique take on the world.

    As a stay-at-home mom, Kim started writing, grabbing snip-its of time in the car rider line or on the bleachers at swim practice. After her kids left the nest, she started submitting her work, sold her first novel at 53, and has been writing like crazy ever since.

    Thanks to the lessons she learned under that mimosa tree, her books are well reviewed and, according to RT Book Reviews, feel like they’re being told across a kitchen table. She is the author of A Peach of a Pair, Palmetto Moon and The Wisdom of Hair from Berkley/NAL/Penguin; Flirting with Forever, She’s the One, Just in Time for Christmas, Steal Me, Cowboy and Sweet Home Carolina from Tule. While her heart is always in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, she lives in Charlotte and has a heart for hairstylist, librarians, and book junkies like herself.

    Her latest book is the southern women’s fiction, A Peach of a Pair.

    Visit her website at

    postheadericon Release Day Blitz: Stop the Diet, I Want to Get Off! by Lisa Tillinger Johansen

    Stop the Diet Release Day Banner

    We’re thrilled to be hosting Lisa Tillinger Johansen and her STOP THE DIET I WANT TO GET OFF RELEASE DAY BLITZ today!

    About the Book:

    Stop the Diet 2

    Title: Stop the Diet, I Want To Get Off!
    Author: Lisa Tillinger Johansen
    Publisher: J. Murray Press
    Pages: 275
    Genre: Nonfiction/Nutrition/Health

    Purchase at AMAZON

    The Paleo. The Zone. The Gluten-free. Another day, another diet. We’re caught in a never-ending merry-go-round of weight loss plans, fueled by celebrity endorsers, TV doctors and companies angling for a piece of a $60 billion industry. But do these diets really work? And how healthy are they?

    Registered Dietitian Lisa Tillinger Johansen examines dozens of the most wildly popular diets based on medical facts, not hype. And along the way, she reveals tried-and-true weight loss strategies, relying on her years of hospital experience, weight-loss seminars and community outreach efforts. With insight and humor, Stop The Diet, I Want To Get Off shows that the best answer is often not a trendy celebrity-endorsed diet, but easy-to-follow guidelines that are best for our health and our waistlines.

    Book Excerpt:

    The idea for this book began at a wedding.

    Who doesn’t love a good wedding? The clothes, the flowers, the romance, the food…

    Ah, the food. As we moved into the banquet hall, the culinary feast was on everyone’s minds. It was all anyone seemed talk about. But for some reason, guests weren’t conversing about the dishes being served; they were swapping stories of diets they had heard about from friends, magazine articles, even celebrities on talk shows.

    I’m a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutritional science and years of clinical and health education experience. I’ve counseled thousands of patients and clients on all of these diets. But hearing the guests only momentarily distracted me from my horrible faux pas of wearing white (gasp!) to a friend’s wedding.

    “I’m on the Blood Type Diet,” said a woman with an impossibly high bouffant hairdo. “You’ve heard of that, haven’t you? It’s the one where you choose your foods based on your blood type. I’m an AB, so I’ll be having the fish.”

    “Really?” her friend replied. “I swear by the gluten-free diet. I’m on it, my daughter’s on it, and my granddaughter’s on it.”

    I happened to know her granddaughter was six and didn’t have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.

    Then there was the stocky guy who was trying to impress one of the bridesmaids. “I’m a paleo man myself,” he said, piling his plate high with beef kebabs. “It gives me more stamina, know what I mean? It puts me in touch with my inner caveman. There’s a restaurant near my apartment that’s paleo friendly. Maybe we can grab a bite there sometime, or…Hey wait, where are you going?”

    And there were three Weight Watchers sisters who typed furiously on their phones and argued over their meals’ point values. Apparently there was some discrepancy between their various apps, and the sisters’ discussion was becoming more heated by the moment.

    I’m past the point of being surprised by the wide range of weight-loss strategies—

    some worthless, some crazy, some quite reasonable—being tossed around. In the past few years, there has been a tidal wave of diets washing up on the shores of our nutritional consciousness. Celebrities prance across our screens, promoting a variety of weight-loss schemes on talk shows and infomercials. Medical doctors star in their own syndicated television programs, exposing millions to weight-loss techniques, often unsupported by medical research. Other diets get traction on the Internet, racing all over the globe in social media posts, YouTube videos, and annoying spam e-mails. It’s hard to walk past a shopping center vitamin store without being approached by salespeople trying to pitch the latest weight-loss supplements. It seems that everyone wants a piece of the pie; the American diet industry tops $60 billion annually.

    It’s classic information overload. You can’t blame people for being confused by all the diets out there, even as crazy as some of them may sound. I didn’t speak up to my fellow wedding guests that day, but it occurred to me they would benefit from some hard facts about the diets they so ardently follow.

    So during the toasts, I thought to myself, I should write a book.

    I counsel clients on these matters each week, giving them information they need to make the best choices for their health and waistlines. I find that all too often there’s nothing to the diets that are presented to me in my counseling sessions and classes. They just plain don’t work, particularly over the long term. And some of them are harmful, even potentially lethal. But it’s also unhealthy to carry extra weight on our frames. So how do we separate good diets from the bad?

    In the chapters to come, we’ll take a good, hard look at the various weight-loss plans out there. I’ll pull no punches in my professional evaluation of some of the most wildly popular diets, both bad and good, of the past few years. And along the way, I’ll explore tried-and-true strategies for losing weight, based on my years of hospital experience, weight-loss seminars, and community outreach efforts. More often than not, the best answer is not a trendy celebrity-endorsed diet, but instead a few easy-to-follow guidelines that I’ve seen work in literally thousands of cases.

    Enough is enough. It’s time for the madness—and the diets—to stop.

    About the Author:

    Lisa Tillinger Johansen

    LISA TILLINGER JOHANSEN, MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian who counsels clients on a wide range of health issues. Her debut nutrition book, Fast Food Vindication, received the Discovery Award (sponsored by USA Today, Kirkus and The Huffington Post). She lives in Southern California.

    Her latest book is the nonfiction/nutrition/health book, Stop the Diet, I Want To Get Off!

    For More Information

    postheadericon When the Cure Makes Anxiety Worse by David Berndt, Ph.D.

    LS guestWhen the Cure Makes Anxiety Worse

    By David Berndt, Ph.D.

    When I was writing Overcoming Anxiety I noticed one glaring omission in most of the current literature, and that was any in depth discussion of whether, when combatting anxiety, to rely on one technique or another. Is medication always a good idea? Should you challenge a negative thought or maybe instead do some deep breathing, or would self-hypnosis be a better strategy? You see, even very useful and proven techniques are more useful in some situations than others.

    Escape Techniques: When to use them
    One consideration is that when you use a technique as a way of escaping the anxiety, you generally are getting a short term relief, if you chose an effective method, such as a distraction technique or a benzodiazepine medication. But for individuals with phobias, obsessions, and other anxiety-based fears in which running from the anxiety IS the problem, then a quick success at escaping by something outside of you may only serve to reinforce the fear and make the anxiety seem larger and scarier than before.

    When you are so anxious that the only thing you can think of is to take a pill, then when the pill works, and you become accustomed to relying on it, you have taught yourself that the anxiety is much more powerful than you are, and you need the medicine to deal with it. The same is true if you successfully use a distraction technique like the 54321 method I discussed in Overcoming Anxiety. If you are convinced that you need a powerful technique, chances are that the reliance on that technique this time, will necessitate that same reliance the next time that severe anxiety shows you the same face. You get away for now, but only to find that the anxiety monster has grown the next time.
    Escape techniques like medication, self-hypnosis, distraction and guided imagery are not your best choice in these situations. Consider, as a front line intervention one of the grounding techniques, like deep breathing, cognitive reframing, or an exposure technique, so that you can be mastering and deploying a tool rather than making yourself feel more helpless.
    When, then, are these escape techniques best applied? One clear example is when there is no immediate danger, and you are well aware of that fact, such as when you realize that you are having a flashback. A flashback occurs often in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) but more often than you might think in other anxiety disorders. A flashback is present when something incidental (a noise, a smell, a feeling) triggers a memory of a past situation where there was threat that was beyond your resources at that time. You may well need to eventually deal with a flashback, but often, in the here and now, relief is all that is needed. Effectively distracting yourself and/or medication can be very helpful at a time like this, as can guided imagery or self-hypnosis.
    Another time when escape techniques can be helpful is when the real threat is so overwhelming, or so compelling, that anything less than escape, even if short lived, is unthinkable, or at least unnecessarily painful. For example, when I am working with survivors of 911, then I typically do not see much point to mastering a fear of flying, unless job or circumstances make that mastery a necessity. However occasionally, for family or other purposes, a flight is nevertheless required, at those times reliance on same Dramamine, distraction techniques, or a benzodiazepine, are probably a sensible solution.

    Drugs vs Therapy

    The question of whether someone should use medication or psychotherapy can be a matter of personal prerogative, and the wishes of the person most effected should be a major factor. However, not every person is temperamentally suited to therapy, or perhaps access to a good therapist is limited by financial or geographic barriers. Furthermore, some clients are more or less sensitive to medication effects, or prone to addiction, and the benzodiazepines can be highly habit forming.
    Another consideration, however, is the question of what role anxiety medication can play. When anxiety medication is appropriate (and this decision needs to be made in consultation with your physician or psychiatrist) than it works best, in my experience, when it serves a role comparable to a brace when you have a leg injury. You can use a brace to stabilize your leg and help you walk, while you work on getting your leg in shape. Therapy, in this metaphor, is more like the exercise and physical therapy you do when you are trying to regain more or less normal functioning.

    About the Author

    David BerndtDavid J. Berndt, Ph.D. was an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Chicago where he published or presented over 80 papers and articles before establishing a private practice. Dr. Berndt currently lives in Charleston, S.C. where he also teaches in an adjunct capacity at the College of Charleston. He is best known for his psychological tests The Multiscore Depression Inventory, and the Multiscore Depression Inventory for Children, both from Western Psychological Services.

    His latest book is the nonfiction self-help, Overcoming Anxiety.

    For More Information

    About the Book:

    Overcoming Anxiety 2The good news is that anxiety can be overcome without relying on medication. Psychologist David Berndt, Ph.D., in Overcoming Anxiety outlines several self-help methods for management of anxiety and worry. In clear simple language and a conversational style, Dr. Berndt shares with the reader powerful step by step proven techniques for anxiety management.

    You will learn:

    • A Self-hypnosis grounding technique in the Ericksonian tradition.
    • Box Breathing, Seven Eleven and similar breathing techniques for anxiety relief.
    • How to stop or interrupt toxic thoughts that keep you locked in anxiety.
    • How to harness and utilize your worries, so they work for you.
    • Relief from anxiety through desensitization and exposure therapy.

    The book was designed to be used alone as self-help or in conjunction with professional treatment Dr. Berndt draws upon his experience as a clinician and academic researcher to give accessible help to the reader who wants to understand and manage their anxiety.

    For More Information

    • Overcoming Anxiety is available at Amazon.
    • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

    postheadericon Book Spotlight: Profit In Plain Sight by Anne C. Graham

    About The Book

    Title:  Profit In Plain Sight

    Author: Anne C. Graham

    Publisher:  Morgan James

    Publication Date: July 7, 2015


    Pages: 289

    Format: eBook / Hardcover / Paperback / PDF

    ISBN: 978-1-63047-293-1 

    Genre: Business

    Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE

    Buy The Book:


    Barnes & Noble:

    Book Description:

    1. 84% of business owners and CEOs surveyed score a C, D or F on the Return on People Benchmark – they can’t even give every employee a decent raise, let alone hire, invest in facilities, equipment or technology, or expand into new markets!
    2. 40% companies who increase their revenues in a given year will actually decrease their profits… and there’s a better way to increase both.
    3. 96% of companies will put their greater goals on hold this year with one simple phrase: We don’t have the budget for that.

    Imagine if leaders were able to break free of their profit constraints, stop being victims of exchange rates and oil prices, and be in control of earning all the profit they need to fund the growth they want.

    Savvy entrepreneurs would never start a new business without a Business Plan.  Experienced executives would never try to lead their business without a Strategic Plan.  But almost every manager confesses that they don’t have a Profit Plan beyond their P&L, and that means that profit becomes the leftovers between disappointing revenues and higher-than-expected costs.

    Profit in Plain Sight offers the Profit Plan that’s missing, with a step-by-step roadmap that enables these busy leaders to grasp the big picture, and to implement solutions in less time per week than they are spending on email per day.

    Unlike many  business books, Profit in Plain Sight gives readers access to the “hows”, not just the “shoulds”, with downloadable training resources and action plans  at the end of every chapter, plus regular opportunities for the reader to reflect on how their thinking is changing and growing.

    This book finally helps leaders who are passionate about their business have all the profit they need to fund the growth they want, with tough questions to start changing the conversations in everyday management meetings, with practical, actionable techniques that are quite different from conventional cost-cutting approaches or the all-too-dangerous “increase revenues at all costs” techniques.  Instead, Profit In Plain Sight offers take-it-to-the-bank results.




    Book Excerpt:
    Prepare to Transform Your Most Persistent Market
    Challenges into Profit, Passion, and Growth
    … with The Proven Leadership Path that Delivers
    • How much easier would igniting profit, passion, and growth be if everyone in your
      business embraced change and became part of it?
    • What would be possible
      if transforming your business felt more like play than like work?
    • How quickly could you
      turn good intentions into tangible results
      if you
      simply could take small steps that
      require less time than you are devoting
      to e-mail in a
      given day?
    IBM is a legendary company, not only because of its
    enduring success for over 100 years in the fast-changing world of technology,
    but because it leads its category
    by a factor of
    in terms of
    profitability and continues to transform itself to
    generate growth opportunities. Customers are incredibly loyal, the company has
    a stellar reputation for quality, and, as the holder of more patents than any
    other high-technology company, its strengths in innovation are readily
    apparent. It seems that IBM has found ways to conquer some stubborn challenges,
    doesn’t it?
    But it didn’t start that way. IBM’s roots go back
    to the 1880s and at one time its products consisted of employee time-keeping
    systems, weigh scales, automatic meat slicers, coffee grinders, and punched
    card equipment. Hardly the glamorous “Creating a Smarter
    Planet” organization we know today.
    IBM’s secrets to success came from an unlikely
    resource who was named President in 1915: Thomas J. Watson, the second in
    command at National Cash Register. With just a few practical
    tenets, Watson laid down the enduring foundation
    for IBM’s success — a focus on the customer and on customer service, a sales
    culture that built trust and respect, and an environment that instilled pride
    and loyalty into every worker. The result? Profit, passion, and growth, with
    integrity. In the 1990s, IBM had to reinvent itself or risk becoming irrelevant
    in the marketplace, which it did by reemphasizing its customer focus and
    creating clarity in its positioning.
    In the 2000s, it had to reinvent itself again as
    the competitive landscape shifted once more, which it did by emphasizing its
    role in providing integrated solutions, not merely products.
    This is not a book about IBM. But as subsequent
    legendary leaders have proven, those enduring, practical tenets can serve every
    business well.
    How Many of these Stubborn Market Challenges Are
    Grinding You Down?
    Each year a variety of organizations publish lists
    of the Top 10 CEO Challenges based on polling business owners and leaders. And
    inevitably, five stubborn market-related issues keep coming up again and again
    on these lists, although the order may shift from year to year:
    1. Earning
    Customer Loyalty and Retention
    2. Generating
    Sustained and Steady Top-Line Growth
    3. Ensuring
    Bottom-Line Growth in Profit
    4. Building a
    Corporate Reputation for Quality Products and Services
    5. Stimulating
    Innovation and Creativity and Enabling Entrepreneurship
    Why don’t we ever get traction and put those
    Challenges behind us? Because 70 years of thought leadership in the business
    press, from universities and in executive programs, has left us with more
    shoulds than hows and a lot of flavor-of-the-month distractions that
    sound promising but are hard to translate into bottom-line impact.
    Let’s change that.
    This Book Is for You When …
    … most of the books you’ve read are sitting
    on your shelf and have not had any impact on your business;
    … some of the books you’ve read have inspired
    you but you struggled when you tried to put them into practice because the
    author shared the
    shoulds but left you to figure out the hows; and
    … you’ve tried to implement ideas in the past
    as an army of one only to run out of steam, run out of time, or run out of
    focus when you find yourself spending more time trying to get people to change
    and get on board than actually implementing anything.
    Move Beyond the Myths
    Here’s your wake-up call and a bold promise.
    MYTH #1
    We’re Too Busy
    FACT: All of us are
    busy. None of us have spare time. Or do we? Over 90% of executives polled admit
    that they spend between 1 and 2 hours a day on e-mail … often more. So here’s
    your wake-up call: unless you work in the order entry department, e-mail does
    not move the needle
    in your business because it does
    not create cash flow, profit, or growth. In fact, it
    leaves you working everyone  else’s
    agenda when, as a leader, it is up to you to set the direction and lead by
    doing. E-mail is a nice, easy, reactive way to start the day and waste most of
    the morning. And it’s killing your company.
    MYTH #2
    We Have to Be “Always On”
    FACT: We’re tethered
    to responding instantaneously to our phones, our e-mail, and other
    interruptions, and there are times when that’s appropriate, but more often it’s
    simply busy work. I’m not saying that you have to abandon e-mail — it’s a part
    of our lives in the 21st century, just as the telephone and voice mail became a
    reality in the 20th. But what is currently in your in-box or on your priority
    list that is
    more important than securing the future of your business for your
    employees, your family, and your community? What’s more important than building
    a profitable, growing business
    that can weather any economic turmoil that global
    change can throw at it?
    MYTH #3
    There’s No Way Out
    FACT: The noise is
    getting louder now that texting and social media elements are also in the mix
    of e-mail, voice mail, and more. Yet one simple shift is all that’s required to
    completely transform
    noise into results, and I invite you to share
    Appendix 1 with your entire organization to help them make that shift. In the
    meantime, here’s my bold promise.
    If you have
    time for e-mail, you have time
    to once and for
    all overcome the stubborn
    challenges holding you back.
    When you follow the Solutions in Plain Sight
    outlined in this book and access the Rapid Results Resources that ensure you
    have to waste precious time reinventing the wheel, you will transform your
    business in less time than you’re currently spending on e-mail.
    Close the Gaps when you apply uncommon strategies
    and tactics that will shift your thinking forever
    Our biggest challenge as business leaders at all
    levels is simply to overcome the thinking that’s kept us stuck with those
    Challenges. Many of us were taught old-world thinking, long before today’s realities
    of the Internet, globalization, recurring corporate scandals, all-too-frequent
    recessions, and a rate of change that’s difficult to keep up with. It’s time to
    hold our beliefs, myths, and common practices up to a very harsh light of
    uncommon sense and retool for the future. It’s time to replace them with a road
    map that delivers results. This first section, Possibilities, is going to give
    you two powerful tools to do just that.
    Most businesses won’t succeed in making the shift.
    They’ll remain mired in the “we’ve always done it this way” paradigm, because
    they simply won’t invest the time and energy to be open
    to new approaches, and they won’t take the time to
    build a road map that takes them to their Possibilities, step by step. They’ll continue
    to default back to “business as usual,” because they think it’s easier, even
    though they know it’s not working, and they need a new approach. Unfortunately,
    they’re unknowingly making their lives and the lives of everyone in the
    organization more difficult, and more uncertain.
    Take a look at the shapes Figure 1. How many forms
    of transportation can you spot? Look carefully, as the shapes hold the key to
    your transformation. How many did you see? What were they? (Go to Appendix 2
    for the answer.)

    Rapid Results Resources: Put
    some energy into your regular meetings and start the process of
    Transformation with “The 101 Questions You MUST Ask Your Leadership
    Team.” Use a couple of the questions every week to get your team thinking about
    Profit, Passion, and Growth, and to get their creative juices flowing. Download
    your copy at
    Solutions in Plain Sight: Inform. Inspire.
    Motivate. Systematically Transform.
    By opening the cover of Profit
    in Plain Sight
    , you’ve already taken your
    first step to becoming more open, more focused, and more successful. You’ve
    taken your first step towards creating a process for sustainable levels of
    increased profits. And you’ve taken your first step that will differentiate
    your business from your competitors’ when you implement well. Just keep turning
    the pages to make it happen.
    Infuse Your Employees With Possibilities
    What does it mean to Infuse
    employees? It means embedding the desire to be part
    of something more, to be the best, to behave every
    day in
    ways that add value to your customers, and to earn profit with integrity that
    will help the entire company grow and succeed in the future.
    It means engaging them with the Drivers of
    Transformation that you’ll see in Part I, Possibilities, which will give them
    the powerful AHA! Moments of information, inspiration, and motivation.
    It means involving them in creating the road map
    forward, because information, inspiration, motivation, and good intentions need
    to be turned into action before you can transform stubborn challenges into
    Profit, Passion, and Growth (see Figure 2).
    People support what they create. When you Infuse your teams with the passion and talent to be part of the solution,
    you’ll divide and conquer the workload and transform your profit and growth
    more easily than you might imagine.
    Enthuse Your Customers
    What does it mean to Enthuse
    your customers? It means creating an environment
    where they love doing business with you and know that your success is part of
    their success, because you save them time, make or save them money, solve real
    problems for them, give them peace of mind, and make them feel good. It means
    being the path of least resistance and getting it right the first time. It
    means they’re happy to pay for the value you provide.
    It’s what happens in Part II, Practicalities, when
    you take action with the systematic approach of the Profit in Plain Sight
    Framework to solve the five stubborn challenges that are holding you back from leading
    your market by industriously activating your road map to success (see Figure
    Activate the
    power of
    Infused employees with the Two Drivers of Transformation.
    Trigger the
    factors that
    Enthuse customers as you systematically overcome five
    stubborn market-driven challenges with integrated solutions that build upon each
    Achieve Profit,
    Passion, and Growth … in less time than you’re spending on e-mail.
    Overcome Your Biggest Obstacles
    Right now you may be thinking you don’t have the
    time. Your people aren’t onside. You have other priorities that need your
    attention and focus. You’re uncertain of whether you can make a commitment to
    see this through. You don’t believe that significant profit increases are
    possible in your business or in your industry. Hogwash!
    Bringing the voices of your customers into your organization is a
    powerful, counterintuitive, yet proven, approach to see what’s possible from a
    tactical perspective and will powerfully move you past
    “we’ve always done it this way” thinking with each of five stubborn
    market-driven challenges. In this book, you’ll learn exactly how to do that for
    You’ll stop guessing at what it will take to keep your customers loyal
    for longer and know for certain how to become their preferred partner. You’ll
    stop guessing what they might value and know for certain how to deliver value
    to them that results in Top-Line Growth. You’ll stop applying bandaids to
    quality issues and get the sludge out of your system to stop the profit leaks
    and grow your Bottom Line. And you’ll know exactly how to avoid “me too”
    inventions that are passing for innovation and innovate in low-risk, low-cost ways
    that will set you apart from your competitors.
    The Only Person Who Likes Change Is a Baby with a
    Wet Diaper
    Even with technology, globalization, credit crunches,
    and economic turmoil, people still need to buy goods and services and people
    still do business with people. The need to
    your customers
    with the desire to do
    business with you and to
    infuse your
    with the passion and talent to deliver never
    What does need to change is how you tackle those
    five stubborn market-driven challenges, and therein lies the stumbling block.
    Your people can’t buy into the typical approach of
    an endless stream of unrelated tasks, so-called best practices (which
    don’t differentiate
    you from your competitors), flavor-of-the-month management and proverbial
    silver bullets. Over 90% of business owners, leaders, and key employees polled
    admit they get lost chasing bright shiny objects, and those are simply the equivalent
    of trying to change nice, dry, comfortable diapers to icky wet diapers
    that don’t make sense to your people. Uncertainty, seemingly wasted time,
    wasted effort, confusion, and the feeling of a lack of progress simply causes
    fear and resistance.
    Harvard Professor W. Earl Sasser was the first to refer to the plethora
    of stand-alone tactics as “Kidney Stone Management” (his lengthy list back in
    the 1990s has only expanded with time).
    We’ve trained our staff to expect that whatever new idea is out there,
    it’s a kidney stone
    — it will only cause them
    pain for a while, it will pass, and business as usual can return
    . No wonder our people are burned-out and skeptical when so many new
    initiatives are launched, so many seem important, and so many run out of steam.
    Explain Kidney Stone Management to your executive and management teams at all
    levels. You’re guaranteed a few rueful chuckles of recognition and an AHA!
    Moment that indicates that approach is no longer going to be part of your
    leadership practices.
    That’s the reason Profit in Plain Sight will make a difference when others haven’t — solving these Challenges
    for good comes down to realizing that you’re in wet diapers and wanting the dry
    ones you’ll get by shifting the way you do business. Dry diapers are the result
    of implementing the step-by-step road map of over 57 detailed, value-add Profit
    and Growth Accelerators for
    near term yet sustainable Profit, Passion, and Growth.
    When your people have a mental map of where they’re going, and how
    they’re going to get there (see Figure 3), Kidney Stone Manage-ment is no
    longer a problem and they will be informed,
    inspired, and motivated to get into the dry diapers. A systematic and integrated process rather
    than a series of disconnected events will consistently create successes and a
    sense of forward momentum and progress — the transformation you’re looking for.
    You Don’t Have to Go It Alone
    Unsuccessful businesspeople try to go it alone,
    reluctant to show their weakness by asking for help. Successful businesspeople
    ask for help all the time. They call it getting input and they know the value
    not reinventing the
    Profit in Plain Sight is the window to Rapid Results Resources that are not just shoulds but specific hows — proven step-by-step instructions plus additional
    proven strategies and tactics that are beyond the scope of this book.
    They deliver results more rapidly and easily than
    you might imagine. They deliver
    smart practices specifically implemented in the context
    of your unique company. All you have to do is commit to transforming
    passive reading into active learning
    for results.
    Every business leader who has succeeded in doubling
    their profitability or more — in less than one year, in less time than they and
    their team were spending on e-mail — has identified obstacles to success. And
    as they began the process, they found that each and every obstacle dissolved
    with the straightforward, practical approaches laid out in this book. At this
    point, all you need to do is finish reading the next two pages, and take the
    actions outlined. Then, turn the page and do it again. That’s it. Are you with
    We’ve all heard that you can lead a horse to water
    but you can’t make it drink. But I always say that you
    can make the horse
    thirsty or make the water sweeter. From the sheer fact that you’re reading P
    in Plain Sight
    , I know you’re thirsty.
    Make Your Horses Thirsty Too
    Embracing a process to transform challenges into
    opportunities doesn’t come from rigorous change management processes that
    try to force-fit people into a change that they haven’t bought into. That’s
    just leading the horse to water. Instead, it comes from naturally leading your
    team where you want them to go by building an
    infused culture that thirsts for excellence and that reflects their desire to
    find the easiest and most effective ways to achieve that end. When you share
    this book throughout your organization, you’ll help lead your teams’ thirst for
    where you want them to go.
    Make the Water Sweeter
    Sweeter water means helping you and your organization find ways to
    streamline complexity and stay focused on what really drives your business
    forward. That’s where the systematic Profit in Plain Sight Framework is
    extremely valuable — bite-sized modules are easy to implement, in less time
    than you’re currently spending on e-mail. Make the process painless and make
    the water sweet when you take an integrated approach rather than succumbing to
    Kidney Stone Management.
    I’ve spent time in the trenches “doing,” and even longer with the responsibilities
    of leading others. I’ve experienced the frustration of dealing with these
    Challenges over and over, just as you have.
    I’ve used every one of these Solutions in Plain Sight, as a leader in large
    and small companies and with my consulting clients. They’ve worked across a
    broad range of industries and they’ll work for you too.
    Simply. Accelerate Your Results
    There is really only one theme to this book — driving Profit, Passion, and Growth. We’re going to
    put many lenses on that theme, but never lose sight of that as our goal.
    There are only two outcomes you need to achieve in order to realize Profit, Passion, and
    Growth —
    enthusing your customers, and infusing your employees. I’ll show you what you need to do
    accomplish both.
    There are Two Drivers of Transformation that serve
    as wet diapers to motivate change and, in Part I, you’ll see Possibilities as you
    learn how to activate them to kick-start the process and help
    you measure success and progress.
    There are 15 practical, actionable Solutions in
    Plain Sight in this book and a total of 57 Profit and Growth Accelerators in
    the Profit in Plain Sight Framework. In Part II, Shift to Practicalities,
    you’ll see your Profit in Plain Sight road map
    unfold as we tackle each of the five stubborn market-driven challenges.
    Whether you take action on every Challenge or
    cherry-pick just those that are holding your business back the most, you will
    see impact on your Profit. You’ll impact the Passion your teams bring to the
    business. And you’ll sow the seeds for Growth.
    There are no quick fixes … but Rapid Results are
    within your reach.
    You can reach and exceed your goals. You can secure your
    business from the ups and downs of economic turmoil, and invest in everything
    you need to take your business to the next level and help drive our economy
    forward. You
    can finally feel confident in your plan for the future.
    If Not You, Who? If Not Now, When?
    Work is slogging it
    out in isolation;
    play is getting support to achieve breakthroughs and
    feeling a sense of progress. So go ahead and put some play back in your day and
    some bucks on your bottom line.
    This Works.
    You Can Do It. You Will Succeed.


    Take these Actions
    Download your copy of “The
    101 Questions You MUST Ask Your Leadership Teams” at
    to start changing the conversations at every level of your organization.
    This is an ideal tool for executives and mid-level managers to use to spice up your
    regular team meetings and begin to shift your culture to one of profit and
    See Appendix 1 for the
    secrets of achieving focus and transformation in less time than you’re
    currently spending on e-mail.
    Check out Appendix 2 for
    the solution to the “forms of transportation” brain teaser at the beginning of
    this Chapter.
    Small Steps.
    Big Impact!
    Five Minutes, Five Questions:
    Reflect for Deeper Learning
    Reflective questions at the end of every Chapter offer powerful deeper learning
    on how your thinking is changing, so that you can generate the AHA! Moments to
    break free of the conventional thinking that keeps you stuck when trying to
    solve five stubborn market-driven
    Reflection simply means taking the time to monitor what’s happening in
    your own mind, evaluate what you’re learning, and ponder what is shifting or
    changing in terms of your attitudes and behaviors, with the goal of eventually
    building a new mental framework of how things work. This will allow you to
    continually add relevant information and discard the irrelevant.
    Your first step is internal transformation, to identify what attitudes have already shifted and what
    behaviors will follow.
    But the reflective process only works if you use it.
    Ask yourself these questions right now:
    1. How can I use the reframing approach I saw in the brain teaser as a
    metaphor for opportunities hidden in our business?


    Which items on the list of five stubborn market-driven challenges are
    top of mind for me right now — and why?



    How effectively are we solving those challenges today?



    How often do our people see our efforts as Kidney Stones because we fail
    to give them the big picture with a road map for implementation?



    How committed am I to create an environment where my horses are thirsty
    and the water is sweet?

    Inspire. Motivate. Transform.
    Are you ready to get started with the Two Drivers
    of Transformation that deliver big wake-up calls and pave the way to transform your
    business more quickly and easily than you might imagine?
    If you prefer, you can go right to whichever
    Challenge is your greatest burning issue today, and then work backwards to put the
    foundational work in place that may be required to trigger the


    About The Author

    Anne C. Graham is on a mission to help 5 million business leaders and their teams double their profit per employee – or more in less than one year, in less time than they’re spending on email.  Drawing on over 25 years of deep profit and growth expertise from her “in the trenches” and executive experiences with Fortune 500 companies and smaller firms, she closes the all-too-frequent gap between the good intentions vs. year-end results.  The solution is the roadmap she wishes she’d had – a Profit Plan that transforms “we don’t have the budget for that!” into a “YES!” to funding every greater dream and goal for their business as they create prosperity for their company, their employees, their customers, and their communities.

    As a best-selling author, international speaker, and accelerator, Anne inspires thousands of business leaders each year to Profit… On Purpose by moving past conventional thinking to discover Profit In Plain Sight.  Audiences and clients love Anne’s fun and interactive approach based on value to the customer, NOT accounting, and her ability to create profound AHA! Moments so that participants leave with a new perspective of their possibilities plus practical actions they can implement for immediate impact.  Anne is the Managing Director of the Legendary Value Institute, a popular faculty member in an award-winning MBA program, and a passionate boater on west coast of British Columbia.

    You can visit Anne’s website at 
    Contact Anne at:


    Author Website:





    Linked In:




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    postheadericon Book Spotlight: Aeromancist by Charmaine Pauls

    About The Book



    Title:  Aeromancist

    Book 2: Seven Forbidden Arts Series

    Author: Charmaine Pauls

    Publisher:  Mélange Books

    Publication Date: July 6, 2015


    Pages: 284

    ASIN: B010766W5S

    Genre: Paranormal Erotic Romance

    Format: eBook / ePub / PDF
    Preorder Book Buy Links:  Publication Date: July 6, 2015


    Barnes & Noble:



    Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE


    Book Description:

    Passion always comes with a price.

    All he could offer was thirty days of passion.

    He condemned her to a terrible fate instead.

    Now he’ll do everything in his power to save her.

    He is known as the Weatherman. Lann Dréan is the last of his kind. A price on his head, chased for a power he should not possess, he can’t promise any woman forever. All he can offer Katherine White is thirty days of passion. But his uncontainable desire comes with an unforeseen price. Lann’s lust will cost Kat everything. Now he’ll do anything to save her from the fate he has brought upon her.

    * This book contains adult content with explicit language and frequent, consummated love scenes, including light bondage, sex toys and breath play. Reader discretion is advised.
    Book Excerpt:

    Short Excerpt
    From the expression on Lann’s face,
    Kat knew he hadn’t expected her. Alfonso hadn’t warned him of her visit. Lann
    sat behind his desk, very similar to the first time they had met, but this time
    he was in the library, and not in his office. He had probably been working on
    the restoration of his ancient books, because he wore his glasses. Removing
    them, he immediately got to his feet. The air felt lighter, as it always did in
    his presence. Wisps of her hair lifted as if to an invisible caress, but Lann
    didn’t acknowledge the subtle dance of molecules this time.
    always he looked impeccable in tailored pants and a white dress shirt. He stood
    immobile, exerting calm, waiting for her to make the first move. Kat had never
    been fooled about the latent danger that lurked under his quiet sophistication
    and intellectual air. There was a raw energy about Lann that hinted at his
    wildness, even as his exterior was polished civility.
    showed me in,” she said.
    His lips lifted in the corner, exposing his dimple.
    heart broke at his smile. It was the one he reserved for other people. Never
    for her. It was automatic, a practiced social stance, and she hated it.
    was faint in return. She glanced at the employees who were handling his books
    with protective gloves. “May we speak in private, please?”
    frowned. “Let’s go to my office.”
    led the way. At least he hadn’t thrown her out on sight. She was walking the
    familiar path she believed she’d never walk again. The air gathered around his
    ankles as he moved, lapping at her feet as she followed in his wake. She had
    never felt it stronger, and yet, it should have been the reverse. She was
    supposed to be cutting the tie, not strengthening it, dammit.
    his office he almost took a military stance, his shoulders straight, his arms
    behind his back, as if keeping them there would prevent him from touching her.
    But his eyes were filled with warmth and concern.
    I didn’t tell you I was back because I didn’t want to make it harder on you.”
    didn’t owe her an explanation. She agreed to his terms. With her eyes wide
    came back to take care of the money,” he continued. “When Alfonso told me you
    returned everything–”
    don’t want your money.”
    can live in comfort. Why struggle, if I have enough to share?”
    it wasn’t part of our agreement,” she snapped. She took a calming breath. “Because
    it’ll make me feel like a prostitute.”
    expression was incredulous as he considered the statement, but after a moment
    he inclined his head. “Of course. I respect your decision.”
    She chewed her lip, thinking of the best way to tell him. Hadn’t she practiced
    her line a million times? “I wouldn’t have broken our agreement if it wasn’t
    stared at her expectantly. There was no easy way to break the news.
    froze. The heat evaporated from his gaze. His upper arms flexed as he clasped
    his hands behind his back. She couldn’t tell if he was mad or disappointed.
    Either way, neither was the reaction she was hoping for.
    silence stretched between them. For a while he seemed incapable of speaking or
    moving. Only his eyes lowered and rested on her abdomen.
    impossible,” he finally said.
    opened her handbag, retrieved the blood test results and offered it to him
    shakily. Lann lifted one hand from behind his back and took the piece of paper.
    Kat watched him closely as he read it. His eyes widened and narrowed again. She
    presumed he was looking at the age of the child growing inside of her, doing
    the calculation in his mind. Emotions she couldn’t place played across his
    face. Was it sadness, envy, anger that made him press his lips so tightly
    together? Finally, he lifted his head. She didn’t like the way he looked at
    handed her back the report. “Congratulations.” His voice was impersonal. “Who’s
    the father?”
    words punched the air from Kat’s lungs with the same ferocity as when he had
    cut her airflow during lovemaking. Then it had given her an earth-shattering
    orgasm. Now it caused her pain, with the same intensity. She couldn’t believe
    he said that. Hurt and anger blurred her vision. She drew back her hand, and
    before she could stop herself, she slapped him. She took a step away from him,
    biting back the tears. The trace of her fingers lay red across his pale cheek.
    Lann accepted her abuse with a stoic expression, without uttering a word.
    bastard,” she whispered. “You needn’t feign your innocence by insulting me. Are
    you afraid I’ll ask you for child support? Do you think I expect you to play an
    unwilling role in this baby’s life? Maybe you think I’ll try to emotionally
    blackmail you into marrying me.” She clutched her bag to her chest like a
    shield. “I didn’t come here expecting anything from you. I want nothing. I only
    came because you had a right to know.” She took a ragged breath. “And to ask
    why you lied to me.”
    he still didn’t speak, she nodded slowly, the unwelcome tears threatening to
    find their way to her cheeks. He wasn’t going to offer any explanation, any
    solace, any excuse.
    see,” she said. “Then we have nothing more to say to each other.”
    turned for the door, but Lann’s voice halted her. “Please stay. You’re upset.
    I’ll take you home when you feel calmer.”
    her dismay, a small gasp escaped her. Did he honestly think she’d stay after
    what he just said? Not looking back, she ran downstairs, not caring that Lann
    was calling after her loud enough for the building to hear, or that his
    employees were staring at her from the library window.


    Long Excerpt
    “You made your bed, you sleep in
    it,” my mother always said.
    made this bed, with Lann Dréan in it. Only, he wasn’t anymore, not after thirty
    days of the best sex of my life. What remained were crumpled sheets and
    could I not be attracted to him? I had a thing for intellectual guys,
    especially damaged ones. And Lann was damaged, alright. His father abandoned
    him at birth, never forgiving him for his mother’s death. It took some time
    before Lann told me how he grew up in the streets of Moscow, stealing and
    cheating his way to survival. He never revealed what he did for a living, how
    he became a self-made millionaire. He had pulled himself from the gutter and
    built a life. From the guards surrounding us, I knew he was involved in
    something dangerous, maybe illegal, but I told myself it didn’t matter because
    ours wasn’t a permanent relationship. It was a thirty-day contract.
    I first met Lann it was in his privately owned library of ancient books. He had
    just bought the Santiago convent. The plan was to spend a month of holiday
    there before going home to New York. I had been rewarded a scholarship for an
    exchange program in Chile to conduct my thesis on daemon lovers. His
    handwritten books were invaluable to my research. He spotted me from his office
    balcony and when everyone else left, kept me behind.
    was reserved, to the point of being recluse. Few photos existed of him, even as
    the paparazzi hunted and stalked him. Nothing could have prepared me for the
    tall Russian. He was lean, well defined, minus the bulging muscles I hated. His
    long, blond hair was mostly braided down his back. I preferred it to when he
    wore it loose, because that way I could admire his ears. He had perfect
    ears–beautifully proportioned, slightly elongated–but I never said as much
    because he was sensitive about them. A silver ring was pierced through the top
    left one. His dark Prada glasses gave him an academic look in a sexy kind of
    way. His most unusual feature was his eyes. In the dark they seemed yellow. In
    daylight I could see they were a mix of amber and brown flecks. And when he
    opened his mouth and spoke to me in his thick Russian accent, telling me I moved
    the air for him, my knees went weak.
    when he asked me to give my body to him for thirty days, exclusively, I signed
    my name on the dotted line. Although I had given him carte blanche, he took his
    time to lure me, to teach me what he liked. It was never a seduction. Unless I
    gave him permission, he didn’t move on. But I wanted it. All of it. All of him.
    Lann woke a dark side in me, a part I didn’t know lurked in the shadows of my
    desire. Only when I was comfortable with him did he tie me up, blindfolded and
    gagged me, and he didn’t introduce me to breath play until I trusted him. In
    those naked moments I made myself vulnerable, gave him control of my body, and
    he rewarded me with pleasure that wracked my mind and left me craving more.
    day, he flew me in a water plane to a private lake for a picnic. It was the
    most perfect day of my life.
    were sitting on the shore.
    this is incredible,” I said.
    palm smoothed over my shoulder. “You’ve been studying too hard. Been cooped up
    in my convent for too long.”
    this is my reward?”
    I think your reward will come later.”
    a lucky girl I am.”
    luck is all mine, bella.”
    you hungry?”
    food?” he drawled.
    impossible.” I gave him stern look and brought a piece of cheese to his lips.
    obeyed. He took the cheese, and sucked my fingers into his mouth. I could feel
    the atmosphere shift in a second. Lann had a hundred different moods a day, and
    I took pleasure in the knowledge that I started to understand how to navigate
    them. He allowed me to feed him some more, and after I had eaten, he got to his
    feet and started removing his clothes.
    are you doing?” I said with a laugh, looking around, even if I knew we were
    swim with me.”
    water will be freezing.”
    you a pussy?”
    didn’t just call me that.”
    yes, I did.”
    jumped up and discarded my clothes faster than him. Before he was out of his
    pants, I was running to the water, stark naked. I gritted my teeth when I felt
    the iciness around my feet. Looking over my shoulder, I saw Lann making his way
    to the water, a huge grin on his face. I held my breath and charged. It was so
    cold it felt as if it would stop my heart. I let out a yelp, and heard Lann’s
    laugh echo behind me. I dove in and swam furiously for a few strokes to warm up
    my limbs. When I turned, Lann still stood on the beach.
    on!” I beckoned him with a curled finger. “Or are you a pussy?”
    made big eyes at me. “What did you just call me?”
    I could complete the sentence, he was storming me. I managed to splash him
    before he got wet, and heard his curse before he dove underwater to resurface
    in front of me. Laughing, I tried to swim away from him, but he grabbed me
    around the waist.
    so fast, bella.”
    turned me to face him and jerked me against him. His body was warm in the
    coldness of the water. I wrapped my arms and legs around him, pressing close.
    His erection strained against my pelvis. Lann wasn’t laughing any longer. He
    groaned, and his eyes turned a darker shade of gold. His hands went to my
    bottom, gripping me firmly. He lifted me slightly so that his hardness pressed
    against my folds. The water contracted my skin, and when he lifted me higher
    with one hand, spreading my opening with the other, an onslaught of cold water
    assaulted my swollen clit. Immediately the sensation was replaced with the
    warmth of his body as he lowered me onto his erection, sliding effortlessly
    into my lubricated depth. I arched my back, gasping as he claimed me with every
    inch he had.
    Katherine, I’m buried so deep inside of you,” he said against my neck.
    kissed me feverishly, sucking my skin into his mouth, making me scream as he
    bit down gently.
    drive me wild, krasota.” His tongue moved
    down my neck to the hollow of my throat, trailing a path to my breasts. He
    licked each upper curve, before he took a cold, hard nipple in his warm mouth.
    I moaned loudly. He started suckling me, moving me up and down on him.
    this good, bella?”
    whimpered. “Lann…”
    me, Katherine. Tell me what you want.”
    I want everything.”
    don’t know what you’re asking,” he said darkly.
    show me.”
    mouth claimed mine with hard approval, his tongue sweeping over my lips before
    he drank the very breath from me. I struggled to draw air through my nose while
    he claimed my mouth like that. He kissed and kissed me until I felt the urge to
    shove away from him to draw air, but when I pushed with my palms on his chest,
    he only sealed his lips tighter over mine, at the same time increasing the pace
    with which he was penetrating me. My clit rubbed against his pelvis. One hand
    closed around my throat, applying gentle pressure, while the other spread the
    cheeks of my ass. Sensations slammed into me. His fingers around my neck
    tightened, cutting off my oxygen. I felt a finger rubbing down my cleft, and
    then I felt it there. I jerked when
    Lann pushed on that forbidden entrance. It was hard to think with my body
    craving air, craving him, and craving release. Already my orgasm was a tightly
    coiled cord, a second away from snapping. Just when I thought I was going to
    black out from the lack of air, he released my throat, at the same time pushing
    his finger inside my rear. As oxygen reached my brain, my orgasm exploded in me
    with an intensity I had never felt before. I clung to him, filled by his cock
    and his finger, as the waves crushed over me and continued to ripple long after
    he had spurted all of his seed inside of me. My strength gone, all I could
    manage was to lean my head on his shoulder, and to trust him to take care of
    kissed my hair and my cheek. He said gentle things to me in Russian, while he
    slowly pulled his finger from my slightly burning backside. I moaned, and he
    kissed my forehead. I felt like fainting from the aftershocks of pleasure. I
    tried to lower my legs, but Lann prevented me with his hands on my ankles.
    on, krasavitsa,” he said against my
    ear. “Don’t try to walk.”
    gently cleaned me in the water, washing his semen from me, before carrying me
    to the shore. I had never felt more depleted in my entire life. It was worse
    than the time I had a few drinks too many at the student bar and my friend had
    to drive me home and put me to bed.
    started shivering as Lann lowered me onto our picnic blanket. He stretched out
    on top of me and folded the blanket around our bodies. He kissed my neck and
    shoulder until I felt his heat penetrating my skin, and my body once more
    relaxed. When the shivering stopped, he lifted himself to look down at me.
    sun will warm you. I’m going to get off you now. At first it’ll feel cold with
    the breeze, but you’ll dry in no time.”
    whimpered when he rolled off me, exposing my skin to the air. “No, don’t.”
    too heavy.” He rubbed my arms.
    was the first time I felt the air move around us. It shifted down from my
    shoulders to my feet, a blanket of clouds pulled over a naked body. This was
    the dance of air Lann had tried to describe to me, what he meant when he said I
    moved the air for him. At first the breeze made me feel colder, but then I
    gradually warmed as the sun dried my skin. I felt extremely lethargic.
    did you do to me?” I said, trying to focus on Lann’s face and not fall asleep.
    cut off your ability to breathe, just for a few seconds. The surge of oxygen
    that follows makes you come harder.”
    it did,” I said, closing my eyes.
    look at me.” I gazed back at him. His expression seemed concerned. “Did you
    enjoy it?”
    yes.” I tried to nod. “It was the best sex of my life.”
    slow smile curved his lips. “Good.” His eyes warmed. “Your trust means
    everything to me.”
    lay down next to me and pulled me into her arms. We stayed like that until I
    felt some of my energy return. When I tried to sit up, he shook his head.
    need a drink.” I reached for my glass of champagne.
    more alcohol,” he said. He sat up and reached inside the basket, taking out a
    bottle of water. He unscrewed the cap, lifted my head and brought the bottle to
    my mouth. After a few sips, I lay back again, studying him.
    so handsome,” I said.
    you’re so expressive. I can never get enough of your face when it’s contorted
    with pleasure, knowing it’s the pleasure I bring you.”
    bring me lots of pleasure,” I said, mumbling my agreement.
    I’m going to feed you strawberries.” His eyes went to my breasts. “And then I’m
    going to fuck you softly.”
    was the day I knew I had fallen in love with him.


    the time Day Thirty arrived, I was addicted. To him. But I had signed a
    contract to walk away, and never look back. And it wasn’t as if he gave me a
    choice when he left me behind. What I
    thought would be a harmless sexual adventure had burned a hole in my existence.
    I had fallen in love with Lann, when I promised I wouldn’t. But there was more
    at stake than my heart. I never would have guessed that accepting his contract
    was signing my death warrant. There was only one thing left to do. To sleep in
    the bed I had made. And it may just cost me … everything.


        About The Author

    Charmaine Pauls was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa. She obtained a degree in Communication at the University of Potchestroom, and followed a diverse career path in journalism, public relations, advertising, communications, photography, graphic design, and brand marketing. Her writing has always been an integral part of her professions.

    After relocating to France with her French husband, she fulfilled her passion to write creatively full-time. Charmaine has published six novels since 2011, as well as several short stories and articles.

    When she is not writing, she likes to travel, read, and rescue cats. Charmaine currently lives in Chile with her husband and children. Their household is a linguistic mélange of Afrikaans, English, French and Spanish.

    Read more about Charmaine’s romance novels and psychological short stories here on
    Contact Charmaine at:









    Contest Giveaway
    Enter To Win Throughout The Tour!
    The prizes include:
    a set of 5 antiqued silver bookmarks,
    a paperback copy of Aeromancist
    and eBooks of the preceding books in the series:
    Loving the Enemy, Pyromancist, and Aeromancist, The Beginning


    Virtual Book Tour Page



    postheadericon Interview with Kelley Grant, author of The Obsidian Temple

    Title: The Obsidian Temple

    Author: Kelley Grant

    Publisher: Harper Voyager Impulse

    Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy

    Format: Kindle 

    After a harrowing escape to the desert, Sulis Hasifel finds her calling is not yet fulfilled. Traveling to the Obsidian Temple—the site of an ancient divine battle—Sulis is tasked with mentoring Ava, a young girl with a troubled past. Together, they join a group of magically gifted warriors to re-make the very fabric of the universe. But the fate of the world hinges on whether Ava can harness her power, and some trials cannot be overcome.

    Returning to Illian, Sulis’s twin Kadar finds that his lover, Farrah, has abandoned their newborn daughter for the revolutionary cause. Not willing to give up his dream of a family, Kadar vows to stay by Farrah’s side. But when he finds that Farrah is willing to anger the gods to aid the Forsaken caste’s uprising, and as she steps farther down a violent and dark path, Kadar must decide if he will help her…or let the world spin out of control.

    In this mesmerizing sequel to Desert Rising, Kelley Grant brings us back to the cities of Illian and Shpeth, drawing her epic fantasy tale closer to the trilogy’s stunning conclusion.

    The Obsidian Temple is available for purchase at  


    Q: Thank you so much for this interview! Can you tell us where you are from?

    I grew up running wild in the hills of Ohio’s Amish country. I live more centrally in Ohio now, but on top of a hill with woods and creatures surrounding me.

    Q: How did you come up with your title?

    In the novel, the Obsidian Temple is a pivotal location with a dark secret deep in the center of the desert. Fates were determined in that Temple, and what it contains will begin a war.

    Q: They say you can judge a book by its cover. Can you tell us a little about your cover and who designed it?

    The creative team at Harper Voyager Impulse designed the cover. You can see the great feli Djinn in front of the Obsidian Temple, with his chosen Sulis, my heroine, in the background, about to discover the temple’s secrets.

    Q: Can you tell us something about your book that would make me run out and buy it?

    Not only are there cool great temple cats, or feli, again in this book – this time there are feli kittens!

    Q: Are there any messages in this book that you want the reader to know about?

    Who we become in the face of failure, in the face of pain and oppression can rule our fate and the fates of others around us. It also raises the question – do we have to become evil to fight evil?

    Q: What was your most favorite chapter to write and why?

    The chapter where we find out what is in the Obsidian Temple. I’d known there was a temple, deep in the desert. I’d known there was something big in it – but like Sulis, I did not know what it was. It was hidden from me. Then, as I was walking to clear my head one day, it hit me. I saw what was in there and was both fascinated and horrified. I actually had to sit down in the park to take it in and process what I’d found.

    Q: Why did you feel you had to write this book?

    This is the second book in the Desert Rising series. This book is driven by the needs and idealist depths that my characters showed me they contained in the first book. Their stories needed to be witnessed, so I wrote them down.

    Q: Now, some fun questions – What deep dark secret would you like to share with us?

                    I have caught my felines stealing my dinner – and still eaten it. Same with them drinking my tea. Because with five cats, it happens all the time. I’ve learned not to be very squeamish about germs.

    Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

                    I’d love to go to New Zealand and roam the land where Peter Jackson filmed his fabulous Lord of the Rings movies. To be for a day Éowyn, shieldmaiden of Rohan!

    Q: Are you a morning person or a night person?

                    I am NEVER a morning person. But I am a daytime person in the spring and summer, and shift to a true night owl in the fall and winter months.

    Q: Are there any members in your family who also like to write?

    No – both of my siblings are in the sciences, my dad was a coal truck driver and my mom was a cook’s assistant. I’m the odd woman out in my family. But everyone in my family loves to read, loves to become engrossed in fantastic tales.

    Q: As a child, were you a dreamer?

    I still am. Daydreams got me through elementary school, though long country bus rides and longer math classes. I used to dream about being the characters in the books I read. I loved playing with stuffed animals and dolls to create and act out new stories and tales.

    Q: Last but not least, the magic genie has granted you one wish. What would that be?

    The ability to find peace, equanimity and contentment in every situation.

    Q: Thank you so much for this interview! Do you have any final words?

    Thank you so much for having me here! Desert Rising, the first book of the series, is out now in digital and paperback. The Obsidian Temple releases July 21st in digital, in paperback sometime in August.

    Kelley Grant grew up in the hills of Ohio’s Amish country. Her best friends were the books she read, stories she created and the forest and fields that inspired her. She and her husband live on a wooded hilltop and are owned by five cats, a dog and numerous uninvited critters. Besides writing, Kelley teaches yoga and meditation, sings kirtan with her husband, and designs brochures and media.

    For More Information

    Visit Kelley at her website



    postheadericon There is always hope! Escaping abuse and domestic violence by Rebecca Marie


    Title: One Month Week Day Hour Minute Second

    Author: Rebecca Marie

    Publisher: iUniverse

    Pages: 113

    Genre: Self Help/Personal Growth

    Format: Ebook

    Purchase at AMAZON 

    Abuse knows no boundaries. It doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, old or young. It can enter your life at any time and stay as long as you let it. In One Month Week Day Hour Minute Second, author Rebecca Marie discusses that the key is to release the secrets, talk about the abuse, and take the power away from the abusers. In this memoir, she shares her personal journey surviving sexual and physical abuse, describing how abusive patterns started at a young age, how negative self-esteem continued to grow, and how it ended in her falling in love with a psychopath. One Month Week Day Hour Minute Second narrates how Marie was victimized and lived in daily fear and despair, but discusses how she chose not to remain a victim and took power over her own life. Hoping to break the cycle of domestic abuse one victim at a time, Marie tells her emotional story to call attention to the problem of domestic violence. Her story shows there is hope for others.




    There is always hope! Escaping abuse and domestic violence.
    Hoping to break the cycle of domestic abuse one victim at a time, I tell my emotional story to call attention to the problem of domestic violence.
    I am a person just like you, as a matter of fact this could very well be your story or someone you know. I have experienced every emotion in my life from extreme happiness to deep sadness. I have made mistakes and I have had success. I believe that as long as we learn from our life experiences and keep growing from them, that we
    become the people we are meant to be.
    There is a myth out there surrounding “Domestic Violence” that only certain social classes suffer from this epidemic. Abuse knows no boundaries. It doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, old or young. It can enter your life at any time and stay as long as you let it. In One Month Week Day Hour Minute Second, I discuss that the key is to release the secrets, talk about the abuse, and take the power away from the abusers. In this memoir, I
    share my personal journey of surviving sexual and physical abuse. I describe how abusive patterns started at a young age, how negative self-esteem continued to grow, and how it ended in me falling in love with a psychopath.
    One Month Week Day Hour Minute Second narrates how Rebecca was victimized and lived in daily fear and despair and discusses how I chose not to remain a victim and took power back over my own life.
    I had tried leaving my husband before, but each time I would return back to him. I felt like he was becoming much more violent, much more unpredictable, and to continue on like that, I couldn’t do it anymore. I had to face the reality that if I stayed in the situation, I was going to die.
    One weekend, my son and I went away to my mother’s house. I had no intention of leaving my husband at that time, but after he kept calling and arguing with me, accusing me of leaving him, I soon realized that he might be right. I got the courage to say, “You’re right, I’ve left you.” I reached out to a distress line, which in turn put me in contact with a shelter within my area. The turning point was realizing I could not do this alone, and I turned it over to those social workers and the people who deal with domestic violence on a regular basis. We can’t do this alone. That’s a really important message in this book. Anybody who’s survived abusive situations has a lot of strength. That’s what gets us through. There’s a time though when you have to let somebody else have that
    strength and you have to trust in the professionals. Anybody who believes no matter how small your children are, and no matter how well you think you’re sheltering them, every child knows what’s going on. The shelters are
    instrumental in helping the children. There’s counseling available for the children because it’s not just about you, it has an impact on everybody.
    Receiving that help from the staff at the shelter ironically was another reason I decided to write my book. Although the counselors were amazing and the available resources were helpful, I still needed assistance surrounding the sexual abuse within my marriage. The counsellor said to me, “That’s one point where we don’t have a lot of resources.” They suggested a rape crisis center. I went to the rape crisis center and the counselor that I spoke to said, “I am so sorry, all I have is a two page article,” and she recommended one book which wasn’t even specific to what I had gone through. The counselor explained that it’s hard to find assistance for someone who is or has experienced rape or sexual abuse within their marriage because nobody wants to talk about it and there are little to no statistics on it. It was during this time, of my recovery that I decided to write my book. I wanted there to be another resource. Finally about two years ago, I said to myself, “You know what, this is it. This is the time
    you’re going to write this book, you’re going to help others, and become an advocate.”
    Writing this book was very therapeutic, I was able to relive some of those unfortunate moments by writing about them. I’ve done a lot of therapy around it, and of course when you’re going to therapy one of the biggest things they tell you is write about it, journal it…when I was writing the book, it brought those feelings back again. There are some graphic details in the book, and I wanted to make sure I did it that way. Put it out there because I’m not the only one who has gone through this or is going to go through this. Again, it was hard to do, but what kept me going was it was important to be 100 percent upfront. The only way that this book would hold the power I truly wanted it to hold was to make sure I held nothing back, and I’m proud of that.
    What I want people to take away from my story is that there is hope and resources available. Stop feeling ashamed. The abuser wants you to be ashamed and to isolate you. The other thing I want to make clear is if you know of someone going through this, be there for them, don’t be judgmental.
    I want society to not turn a blind eye; if you witness abuse, or know of someone suffering, please reach out to get the victim help.
    Let me and my book be added to your list of resources. As a Life Coach I can speak to your organization as a way to educate your staff, volunteers, victims, as well as fundraising events and corporate sponsors. The issue of domestic violence is ongoing. We all need to be advocates to stop the cycle.
    Please contact me @  
    Review: From the first page to
    the last, readers are pulled into her story, and watch the cycle unfold.
    Rebecca masterfully walks readers through her story—their story—and serves as
    an inspiration to women around the world.
    on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapter’s/Indigo and iUniverse


    Rebecca Marie enjoys being a mentor and her goal in sharing her story is to help others see there is hope.

    postheadericon Interview with Katie Pierson, author of ’89 Walls

    Katie PiersonKatie Pierson freelances for local non-profits, using her background in public policy and grassroots organizing to overthrow the patriarchy one introverted step at a time. When she’s not writing fiction, she returns library books, makes soup, and tries to be cooler than she really is by hip-hopping at the YMCA. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in American History from the University of Pennsylvania (where she dabbled briefly in being a College Republican) and a Master’s in American History from the University of Minnesota. She grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, and now lives with her family in a suburb of Minneapolis. ’89 Walls is her first novel.

    For More Information

    About the Book:

    '89 WallsCollege is not in the cards for Seth. He spends his minimum wage on groceries and fakes happiness to distract his mom from the MS they both know will kill her. It’s agony to carry around a frayed love note for a girl who’s both out of his league and beneath his dignity.

    Quinn’s finishing high school on top. But that cynical, liberal guy in her social studies class makes her doubt her old assumptions. Challenging the rules now, though, would a) squander her last summer at home, b) antagonize her conservative dad, and c) make her a hypocrite.

    Seth and Quinn’s passionate new romance takes them both by surprise. They keep it a secret: it’s too early to make plans and too late not to care. But it’s 1989. As politics suddenly get personal, they find themselves fighting bare-fisted for their beliefs—and each other—in the clear light of day.

    For More Information

    Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Katie! Can you tell us where you are from?

    It’s a pleasure to be here. I live in a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota now but grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska.

    Q: How did you come up with your title?

    It was hard! I had three different working titles but none of them quite fit. Then a freelance editor suggested ’89 Walls. I love it because it captures the book’s layered themes: the walls we build around ourselves for safety, the walls that trap us, and the Berlin Wall that crumbled in 1989 at the end of the Cold War.

    Q: They say you can judge a book by its cover. Can you tell us a little about your cover and who designed it?

    I worked with a freelancer from Random House, Jessie Sayward Bright, who really listened to my ideas about my target audience and similar titles. It’s a total coincidence that the cover features all of my favorite colors.

    Q: Can you tell us something about your book that would make me run out and buy it?

    My critics hate ’89 Walls in an interestingly passionate sort of way. They say I have an agenda. This cracks me up. Of course I have an agenda. As does everyone I’ve ever met. One of my characters says, “If you think you’re neutral, you’re kidding yourself.” ’89 Walls is about the choices we make in love, sex, family loyalties, politics and friendship. It’s a fast-paced summer read for older teens and anyone who remembers the 1980s.

    Q: Are there any messages in this book that you want the reader to know about?

    I’d describe ’89 Walls as pro-political dialogue, pro-choice, and pro-young people.

    Q: What was your most favorite chapter to write and why?

    Early in their romance, Quinn and Seth sit on top of a sledding ramp at a park and have a funny, wide-ranging conversation about their families, fears and dark sides. The chapter practically wrote itself.

    Q: Why did you feel you had to write this book?

    Author Will Weaver says that Full Service was the book he had to write about the summer that changed everything. ’89 Walls is my Full Service—1989 was the summer that changed everything for me. That said, almost nothing in the novel actually happened. In 1989, I was a college junior home from the University of Pennsylvania and helping take care of my dying father. This book was a chance for me to imagine the adult conversations with him that would have helped me make sense of the huge shifts in the political landscape in the late Eighties.

    Q: Now, some fun questions – What deep dark secret would you like to share with us?

    As a liberal, feminist activist I feel I should admit that I campaigned for Dole in a former life and once wore a fuchsia debutante’s gown. I also love doing housework: it totally calms me.

    Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

    Costa Rica. I hear the jungle is breathtaking. Plus, I really need to practice my Spanish before I forget it altogether.

    Q: Are you a morning person or a night person?

    I’m way more productive in the mornings. That said, I’m pre-verbal until about 30 minutes into my cup of coffee. No one in my household would call me a morning person.

    Q: Are there any members in your family who also like to write?

    My 11-year-old just went to a Young Authors Conference in the Twin Cities. They had breakout sessions and everything. Both of my girls like to write but I don’t think they have any illusions about the “glamour” of the writing life.

    Q: As a child, were you a dreamer?

    Absolutely. I loved to write and create art and stare into space. I wanted to own a pet shop.

    Q: Last but not least, the magic genie has granted you one wish. What would that be?

    I’m richly blessed with family, friends, health and meaningful work. I can’t ask for more than that.

    Q: Thank you so much for this interview! Do you have any final words?

    I guess I do have one more wish and that is that readers visit my website at for more information about ’89 Walls. You can also reach me on Facebook at, and on Twitter @katiedoodles58. You can the book directly from Itasca Books Distribution or use this cool book store finder to buy it from a local, independently owned store near you. It’s also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

    Thank you so much for having me!


    postheadericon Interview with Dr. John Gamble, author of No Bull Information

    Dr. James GambleDr. John Gamble is Distinguished Professor of Political Science and International Law at Penn State’s Behrend College in Erie and Director of Honors Programs. He is the author of approximately 100 publications and recently won Penn State’s most prestigious award for teaching, the Milton S. Eisenhower Award for Distinguished Teaching.

    Dr. Gamble has stuttered all of his life. As a result, he believes words are precious and should not be taken for granted; this motivated him to write NO BULL INFORMATION. His dream for the book is that parents and grandparents will teach their children and grandchildren NBI techniques and demand clear, concise information from political leaders and service and product providers.

    For More Information

    About the Book:

    In his new book, NO BULL INFORMATION, Dr. John Gamble challenges readers to confrontthe Information Age by abandoning simplistic thinking and taking a measured approach that requires asking questions to analyze and understand complicated issues, to identify and avoid word traps, and to effectively dissect and comprehend numbers frequently used to confuse voters and consumers.

    No Bull InformationGamble uses humor and a wise cartoon character, Arnbi, to guide the reader through the maze of political doublespeak, expert-celebrity pitches of products, and healthcare options, among other issues.

    With a focus on helping Americans to become better prepared to deal with the massive amounts of information that they face on a daily basis, NO BULL INFORMATION (NBI) instructs readers in developing “a new type of literacy.” NBI seeks to create an educated citizenry that can sift through information, identify the facts, and determine the best way to manage those facts. Gamble asserts that the super citizens who accept the challenge of NBI will make better decisions, which will lead to a reduction in financial disasters and government inefficiency.

    Gamble’s cartoon sidekick, Arnbi, supports the NBI movement by offering targeted advice that summarizes many of the key principles outlined in NO BULL INFORMATION, including:

    • Too bad, but “simple” is a square peg that seldom fits into the round hole that is our modern world.
    • Facts are necessary but they must be put into context (PUTFiC).
    • Vested interests are everywhere—recognize them.

    Breaking down words and numbers is the foundation of NBI. In one section of the book, Gamble walks the reader through a basic lesson in understanding percentages and statistics. “You need to understand numbers enough not to be deceived.” In one intriguing illustration, Gamble compares the Pentagon’s budget of $700 billion to a two-liter bottle and a proposed $20 million in spending to one drop of water from an eyedropper placed in that bottle. “It is a helpful strategy for understanding large numbers that are thrown at us every day by politicians and salespeople.”

    Stressing the necessity of analytical thinking, Gamble explores the use of words in “bull-laden” information and the need to guard against what the author calls “landmine words and phrases”; for example, quite frankly, my good friend, clinical studies prove, award winning, and as seen on TV.

    Gamble uses guidance survey and focus cards to demonstrate how readers can practice NBI in their daily lives. The cards cover nine areas each (Survey cards: sampling, word warnings, vested interests, etc. Focus cards: infomercials, supermarkets, credit, etc.). The cards include questions that help the reader to analyze a particular situation (buying a new cell phone, for example) and offer guidance for making decisions.

    “I have been a college professor for more than thirty years. I am convinced that there are serious problems with the way information is presented and understood,” Gamble says. “This affects all Americans. I am writing for and to them.”

    The idea for NO BULL INFORMATION came to Gamble about ten years ago as he observed the difficulty his Penn State undergraduate students were having adjusting to the Information Age. “NBI was inspired by hundreds of students in scores of classes I have taught. It was an iterative process: a class inspired an idea for NBI that I took back to class to test before including it in the book.”

    Gamble believes that people who read NO BULL INFORMATION will “gain a sense of empowerment, like a life preserver when we feel we are drowning in a mass of information.”

    For More Information

    Q: Thank you so much for this interview, (John)! Can you tell us where you are from?

    I am a professor— “Distinguished Professor of Political Science and International Law”— at a 4,500 student college of PennState in Erie.

    Q: How did you come up with your title?

    No-Bull Information was the best way to catch people’s attention and fit with the intent of the book.

    Q: They say you can judge a book by its cover. Can you tell us a little about your cover and who designed it?

    In order to get the message of NBI across to more people— even kids— I created a character, Arnbi. The name comes from the book’s title plus “Ar” from Aristotle, the famous Greek philosopher who, 2500 years ago, was examining information critically. I know you’ll agree Arnbi is cute as hell, but he also has an important job: highlighting significant points about information in a brief, memorable way. Arnbi is featured on the cover on the cover. He is holding a large funnel that traps at lot of the information that is flowing into it. My publisher— Morgan•James— did the cover design work.

    Q: Can you tell us something about your book that would make me run out and buy it?

    Everyone feels frustrated as hell with the mass of inaccurate, incomplete, even fraudulent information bombarding us. NBI provides concrete steps each person can take to fight back.

    Q: Are there any messages in this book that you want the reader to know about?

    There are many— the most basic is that we can better understand the information mess in which we find ourselves and take steps to improve the situation.

    Q: What was your most favorite chapter to write and why?

    That’s tough, almost like picking your favorite child. I guess I’d select Chapter 7, “Thought-Revoking Words.” I point out many words and phrases that are so overused or mis-used we’re better off without them. Just one example—frankly. If someone says “frankly”, they are less likely to be “frank” than if say nothing. Crazy, isn’t it.

    Q: Why did you feel you had to write this book?

    NBI emerged gradually from teaching thousands of Penn State many less than 20 years old and taking their first college course. Students have changed in many ways. One troubles more than others. Today’s student wants things to be simple and brief. This stems from the information age where most communication is quick, brief and simple. Many of the concepts I must teach (if I am doing my job as a professor) cannot be make brief and simple. This book is my attempt to help people deal with this “everything can’t be made simple” aspect of the today’s world.

    Q: Now, some fun questions – What deep dark secret would you like to share with us?

    Anyone who reads NBI carefully will see that I am not a left wing kook.

    Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

    That’s tough. Since I teach college kids about international relations, I am interested in many countries and have visited perhaps 50. So it boils down to one that really interests me that I have not visited (except for the airport)—Japan.

    Q: Are you a morning person or a night person?

    Generally a morning person.

    Q: Are there any members in your family who also like to write?

    My mother, although her life path did not permit her to develop her talent

    Q: As a child, were you a dreamer?

    Yes, with a vivid imagination.

    Q: Last but not least, the magic genie has granted you one wish. What would that be?

    I’ll rule out the facile answers like “ten more wishes.” I wish I could keep my curiosity and imagination and be better focused and disciplined.

    Q: Thank you so much for this interview! Do you have any final words?

    No-Bull Information is a way of coping more effectively with the flood of information that defines our new, chaotic, information-dense environment. NBI can help each individual to understand what is best for her/him. Ultimately, the success of this book depends upon NBI’s effectiveness as a tool for handling the most serious abuses of phrase and fact.


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