Monday, April 27, 2009

What I Cannot Change - new book by LeAnn Rimes

Country singer LeAnne Rimes has a new book and single out titled What I Cannot Change which is so inspirational I just have to show you the new video they made for it:



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZhNQDab7Jg



















According to LeAnnFans.com, this is a new book by LeAnn Rimes and Darrell Brown which will be released on May 5, 2009 called What I Cannot Change and will include an introduction by LeAnn, lyrics to her song What I Cannot Change, photographs, and stories from people who have experienced amazing journeys inspired by LeAnn’s song. The book will also contain a CD of the song.

Amazing sounding book by an amazing singer, writer and fellow human being.

Friday, April 24, 2009

GUEST BLOGGER: Financial Expert Stephen Edds tells us why Wall Street is a gamble we can no longer afford to make

Have you lost your money and confidence in Wall Street?
Are you wondering where the safest place is to invest your money?
Would you like to know how to navigate safely through the financial crisis?

We have a special guest today. Stephen Edds, co-author of the bestselling book, The Losing Game: Why You Can't Beat Wall Street, is here to tell you why Wall Street is a gamble we can no longer afford to make. Visit their website at www.thelosinggame.com or click on the cover to take you to Amazon where you can pick up a copy for yourself!

Wall Street is a gamble we can no longer afford to make
by Stephen Edds

For millions of Americans, Wall Street is viewed as an odd curiosity, bordering on a cartoon. When we think of Wall Street, our minds conjure up images of “fat cats” with cigars, and movie characters, like Gordon Gekko from Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street,” uttering the classic line “Greed is good”. Unless you are involved in the financial services industry, your involvement in Wall Street is likely limited to browsing your 401 k statement or checking out the business headlines.

But it’s this perception of Wall Street which is costing us our financial future.
While we weren’t paying attention, Wall Street acted like a teenager with a case of beer and the car keys. Approximately 95 million Americans are trusting over $15 TRILLION to a system that continually betrays that trust, with the help of a complicit Congress, regulatory agencies and select media outlets.

Collapsing banks, bailouts to Wall Street firms; and scandals like those involving former NASDAQ Chairman Bernie Madoff, R. Allen Sanford are just the tip of the news iceberg. This recklessness is having a devastating effect on your 401 k and the economy, as companies downsize, millions are out of work, and our tax money is being spent to bail out firms with bad business practices and no accountability.

It is time we rethink our views of Wall Street.

The problem is that the perception we are being sold about Wall Street is vastly different than the reality. A system that was initially created to support growing businesses and manage risk has evolved into a complex, convoluted gambling scheme that takes as much money as possible from average Americans without producing anything tangible in return. Wall Street promotes the dream of turning a small amount of money into a large amount of money with little effort. But what you are doing is trying to predict an unpredictable, which is the very definition of gambling.

All of the books, seminars, or infomercials promoting ways to “beat the system” are a sham. The authors earn more money from the books and seminars than from following any market prediction system.

The truth is Wall Street is simply the worlds’ largest casino. The belief that you can take a little money and turn it into a lot of money quickly, without effort, is the same concept behind the lottery. But if your neighbor won the lottery, would you be more apt to spend all of your retirement money on lottery tickets?

One of the many striking similarities between casinos and Wall Street is that both need the money of the financial losers to support the winners. There is no money there to back the $15 trillion in stocks, so Wall Street needs new investors to pay those who are cashing out. Without an influx of new investors to pay off the old ones, the market would wither and die. That puts Wall Street’s business model suspiciously close to the definition of a ponzi scheme.

The reality of the market is that for one person to make money, one or more people have to lose money. This may be at the expense of a grandmother, a widow, or retiree trying to recoup their losses.

In most cases, you are simply buying a piece of paper from another person, and gambling on the hope that one day you can sell that paper for more than you paid for it. The paper itself has no actual value, and until you sell it, the value assigned to it is meaningless. At least in a casino, the chips retain their value.

If you are involved in the market, please understand one thing: Wall Street doesn’t care if you make money in the market, or if you lose money in the market, only that you keep your money in motion in the market. That motion creates fees and commissions for the brokers and exchanges. And your broker is not a trained economist, but a trained salesman. Their job is to get you to buy stocks, period.

And the regulatory agencies are largely incompetent. Bernard Madoff committed the greatest fraud in American history, not financial history, but American history. Madoff was investigated eight times in 16 years by the Securities and Exchange Commission, with no action taken. And, as Madoff himself said in a 2007 interview, “By and large, in today's regulatory environment, it's virtually impossible to violate rules. And this is something that the public really doesn't understand.” Madoff isn’t the only scam artist, just the largest one.

And yet, Congress has pledged over $700 billion of your tax money to bailout banks and financial firms. So what happened to the trillion dollars that was lost before the bailout? What happened to the $365 billion already spent by Congress? The answer to both questions, according to Congressional hearings, is “no one knows.”

In order to regain control of our financial future, we must re-evaluate our perceptions of Wall Street. Despite their brilliant marketing, Americans must recognize that Wall Street’s business model is a complex gambling operation at the very least, and a legalized ponzi scheme at the worst. We must demand accountability and transparency from those in charge of our money. We must pressure President Obama and Congress into enacting real reforms, instead of empty rhetoric surrounded by sweetheart bailout deals. We must reject the notion that we can create something out of nothing by telling ourselves we’re “investing” instead of gambling, and invest in ourselves and reinvest in our communities. And finally, we must ask ourselves if Wall Street is really worth bailing out? What if those billions per day funneled into Wall Street, which produces nothing in return, was instead spread more effectively in our own communities? I believe it would build a stronger economy in the long run.

Only then can we emerge a stronger country on the other side of this financial crisis.

--Stephen Edds, along with T.E. Scott are the authors of The Losing Game: Why You Can’t Beat Wall Street

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Interview with Relationship Expert Tim Kellis on Writing, Publishing and Promoting His New Book

Renowned Wall Street analyst Tim Kellis takes on what could be considered society’s biggest problem today: divorce. The journey that led to him tackling such a significant issue was both personal and professional. After a successful career that eventually landed him on Wall Street, Tim met what he thought was the girl of his dreams, only to see that relationship end with bitterness and anger. The journey included work with a marital therapist, and after he discovered the therapist wasn’t really helping decided to tackle the issue himself.

Ambition and a strong aptitude for math helped lead Kellis to discover how to make relationships work. His math skills led directly to an engineering degree, nine years in the telecommunications industry, an MBA in finance, and finally on to Wall Street, where he became the very first semiconductor analyst to focus on the communications market.

After publishing a 300-page initiation piece entitled Initiating Coverage of the Semiconductor Industry: Riding the Bandwidth Wave, Kellis became a leading semiconductor analyst at one of the biggest firms on Wall Street. The experience he gained as a Wall Street analyst provided an excellent backdrop for becoming an expert on relationships, and resulted in his relationship book entitled Equality: The Quest for the Happy Marriage.

You can visit his website at www.happyrelationships.com or his blog at www.happymarriages.com.

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Tim. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

Thank you. Well, I grew up relatively poor in St. Louis. My dad was a cab driver for 22 years and my mom a secretary. I put myself through engineering school, spent 9 years in the communications market, got my MBA in finance and worked on Wall Street as a semiconductor analyst for over 10 years. I left my Wall Street job in January 2008 to focus full time on promoting my book.

The funny thing about the question of how long I’ve been writing is I never imagined myself as a writer. In fact, I didn’t really even like to read as a kid. I didn’t fall in love with reading until I became an adult, and have been a voracious reader of all things non-fiction since then.

I kind of slipped into a writing career by becoming a Wall Street analyst. I fell in love with the stock market in 1986 when my first investment turned out successful, and I made around $30,000. My success led to a second career of investing in stocks where I spent my spare time researching their fundamentals, thus leading to my job as a semiconductor analyst after getting my MBA.

And one of the fundamental aspects of a Wall Street analyst is “publish or perish”, where you have to continually write up updates on the stocks you follow. You also begin by publishing what is known as an initial report on your companies. My initiation report on the communications semiconductor industry, a subsector of the semiconductor industry where I was the first on Wall Street to focus on, was 300 pages.

So I kind of stumbled into the business of being a writer. And then I met the girl I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with, and after that relationship fell apart decided to use my experience writing on Wall Street to write a book on relationships.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

The journey through “Equality: The Quest for the Happy Marriage” includes a trip through history, where the most significant lessons civilization has learned over the last few thousand years are used to demonstrate not only the way to set up a positive relationship, but the causes of that relationship turning negative.

Additionally, I dive into the science of psychology to answer the most basic question anyone asks who goes through the pain of divorce, “why didn’t we work out”?

The basic premise of the book is that we have a 50% divorce rate yet there doesn’t appear to be anything happening to help solve this problem. Just because divorce has become a significant part of our culture doesn’t mean we should simply sit back while countless families suffer through the agony of splitting up.

The toll to society tomorrow because of our culture of divorce today is impossible to determine but future generations will have to deal with this change to the culture that has occurred over the last two generations.

For the first time in history I elaborate on a psychological solution to our psychological problems so that couples can learn how to change the direction of their negative relationships. In essence, the psychological objective is to understand what happens mentally between two people who make one of the most important decisions of their lives, to get married.

The objective of this book is to provide real, logical help to couples so that they can learn how to stay out of the divorce trap. The bottom line is to learn how to set up your relationship so that you can maintain a happy, healthy, harmonious, loving, affectionate, intimate marriage.

And why did I write this book? After a successful career, and at the height of the market in 2000, I met the girl whom I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with. We fell in love, got engaged, fought and tried to get help from a marital therapist. When I realized the therapist wasn’t really helping I decided to tackle the issue myself.
What kind of research was involved in writing Equality: The Quest for the Happy Marriage?

The extensive research that went into writing this book included reading over 100 books over a 10 month period, at 2 ½ books a week. I then spent 9 months writing. This is probably one of the most researched books ever written.

The subject matter of the 100 books was sociology, religion, capitalism, philosophy, psychology, psychiatry, relationship books and spirituality. My joke is that all of the books read were non-fiction, with the lone exception of the relationship books. My first title concept was “Men Are From Earth, Women Are From Earth” to demonstrate just that point. And my job will not be finished until I get my message out to the public.

If you would like to read the result of all of this effort please visit the following link for a review of the book that was just posted last week:

http://www.bookreviewers.org/equality.htm

And the other element that went into the research was my own personal experience. I’ve often wondered why people think that marital therapists are experts at relationship because most of us now have experiences in relationships. The most important backdrop to my background, though, is the fact that my parents are still married. This is important because of my resolve that divorce is not an option to me. My parents taught me that you stick it out when you have difficulty in your marriage, and boy did they have a lot of problems in theirs. I’ve included an autobiographical section in the middle of the book to put a personal touch on it.

How much input did you have into the design of your book cover?

Actually, I didn’t have any say into the design of the book cover. I was introduced to a graphics designer by a PR firm I had hired last year. I met with her and discussed my book project. She actually sent over one book cover design concept, that of a silhouette of a couple walking on the beach with their two kids.

I immediately fell in love with the design. There is so much symbolism in that design. The obvious one is the simple love shown by the family walking on the beach. More importantly water is symbolic of spiritualism, and the ultimate objective of my book is to teach couples the importance of symbolism, that the connection we make that leads to marriage is much more important than the materialistic world of the here and now.

If couples were to only understand the timelessness of our spiritual connection with the one we love then they would hopefully have the motivation to stay married and resolve those marital conflicts, instead of letting them fester and then decide on divorce.

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

I think it is safe to say that this ride has been bumpier than I had ever expected. I figured if I wrote a book that solved the marriage problem then my readers would hear about my message, and because of the magnitude of the marriage problem, would find their way to my book.

Boy was I wrong!!!

I actually wrote my book in 2002-2003. I figured after it was written I would get a hold of an agent or publisher, tell them I finally solved the marriage problem, and that would basically be it. I spent over a year trying that route, and my only success was getting one agent to actually look at my manuscript. He read the first few pages, said there was too much information, that the average reader reads one book a year, and that he couldn’t get it published.

And then I needed to start making money. So I changed directions, began to look at getting back on Wall Street, and landed a job in Boca Raton, FL, again as a semiconductor analyst.

But my book project kept drawing me back, like some huge magnet trying to point me in the right direction. After about 3 years working again I decided it was time to get back to my book project. I left my Wall Street job in January of 2008, flush with enough funds to keep me going until book sales took off, to focus full time on promoting my book. The first thing I did was to self-publish my first batch of books.

And my challenges had only just begun. I have actually spent the last year focused full time, spending 12-15 hours a day, promoting my book. I believe I have figured out almost everything that doesn’t work but continue to trudge along hoping to find my formula for success.

Over the last year I have worked with 2 PR firms which landed me a total of 4 TV appearances and 2 public appearances, and that’s it. In fact, in my first public appearance I spoke for 2 hours and 15 minutes, going through all 166 PowerPoint slides that basically summed up the content of my book, to two people, yes two people. I was promised around 50, but only two showed up. Neither PR firm was able to get me in any print media or radio interviews.

On my own I was able to obtain my first national TV appearance, on Lifetime’s The Balancing Act, and 4 radio interviews. During that same time I had a 13 week radio show, radio ads, TV ads, newspaper ads, extensive Internet SEO work, a marketing partnership with numerous Internet websites, began building my social networks, worked with my first couple and had my first print appearance in The Palm Beach Post. I had even tried for about 6 months to get into the concert promotion business, hoping to use concerts as a medium for promoting my Happy Relationships brand.

Since January of this year I have picked up the pressure on myself by an order of magnitude to increase my focus. Today I spend most of my time working on the Internet. I have built my Facebook page up to almost 2,000 people, my LinkedIn page to over 1,600 people, not to mention the myriad of other social web sites I am on.

And I really picked up my focus on building up my blog, posting between 2-3 articles a week. I spend a lot of time promoting my blog, posting my blog comments on as many web sites as I can find. I am also in the middle of a 2 month blog tour on relationships, sponsored by Dorothy Thompson at Pump Up Your Book Promotion.

And I am in the process of revamping my main web site at HappyRelationships.com to organize it into a social site dedicated to those who want to figure out how to create the relationship they always imagined.

Most importantly I have realized the significance of getting in front of people. I am in the process of organizing a Happy Relationships Speaker Series with my friends at Conscious Living Partnership, an organization whose mission is to help others understand the need to comprehend their own lives. I am also going to organize mini workshops where I get to interact with small groups of people interested in figuring out their relationships. I even have my book in Rachael Ray’s hands through a friend of mine who knows her husband.

I have appeared 4 times, out of a total of 13 scheduled appearances, on a radio show in San Antonio, TX called Marriage 101, am talking to a friend about 3 appearances on her radio show, had initial discussions with a few other friends about other radio appearances, and have had initial discussion with a few folks about putting together a TV show.

Where I thought the path to success was imminent I now realize that no path to success is without the trials and tribulations, and focus, needed to get my message in front of people. I am learning more and more every day that I have to live by my dictum, “there is no such thing as a failure who keeps trying, coasting to the bottom is the only disgrace”.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

Actually my book is self published. As I said I figured after I wrote it that I would go the traditional route and get it published. But I am not a trained psychologists with years of work in the marital therapy field, so I wasn’t successful going that route.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

I was only able to get one agent to read my manuscript, and his conclusion was that the book was too complicated for the general public. Obviously getting an agent is the traditional route for getting a book published. If a writer is interested in getting a book published by an established publisher then yes I do think it is necessary to find an agent.

Do you plan subsequent books?

The funny thing about that question is the way my next book idea came about. I have had many advisors over the last year hound me on simplifying my message. My continuous response had always been that there are no “7 Steps to a Happy Marriage”, marriages are way too complex.

But as I mentioned the ultimate objective in my book is to teach couples the notion of spirituality, so I have developed the 10 steps to spirituality. As soon as I have the time I will write that book. And there are more right behind that one.
Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

My book was written in the morning. After I completed the 10 months of research that went into the book I sat down to write it. The first, and most important step, was putting together an outline that defined the flow of the content. After spending a couple of months organizing the outline I sat down for the next 9 months to write. I would basically start writing first thing in the morning and spend 4-6 hours behind the computer, before retiring the computer for another day.
If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

Again, I believe I have spent the last year figuring out what doesn’t work in promoting my book. What is important to understand is the basic concept of my book is a non-fiction self-help book. I realize that my book on relationships, because book readers are flooded with relationship books, will not sell itself. This has to be a package deal. I must get in front of audiences and present the depth and breadth of my message so they can understand that this is really the only book that presents a solution to the marriage problem by covering basically every concept imaginable that involves relationships, from the establishment of the positive relationship to the use of quantum physics to prove the notion of free will.

And to take the notion that if money was not object one step further, I would produce a TV show. Ultimately my show will become the next Dr. Phil show, by replacing his message of behavioral advice with a show that actually does solve problems couples face.

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

Well we all know that publishers do very little to promote the average book, so self promotion is a must for any upcoming writer who wants to be successful. As I mentioned, my offline promotional activities have included TV, radio and print, and my focus moving forward will be on public appearances. My online activity has included setting up my own home page, regular posts to my blog and other blogs, my current blog tour, and the many social networks I belong to. I currently have over 1,900 people in my Facebook network and 1,600 in my LinkedIn network.

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

Ultimately I believe the biggest single factor to success if focus. If you really want to be a published author then it takes the commitment to see the project through to its completion. My favorite quote is “there is no such thing as a failure who keeps trying, coasting to the bottom is the only disgrace”.
Thank you for coming, Tim Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

I am currently in the middle of a two month blog tour. In conjunction with this tour, I have my book priced at 20% off. You can pick up your copy today by visiting the following site:

https://www.HappyRelationships.com/buy.aspx

Please feel free to visit my home page at:

http://HappyRelationships.com/


And I have a blog where I post frequently at:

http://HappyMarriages.com/

Thank you all for your time.

Tim

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Do You Write for Pleasure or Riches?

As a writer, author and book promoter, and after putting in the time and getting my feet wet and the ego tattered one minute and ballooned the next, I have come to a conclusion. Despite all the triumphs, all the setbacks, all the myths and truths exposed, it all comes down to this. Writing books is about doing something that makes you feel great and hoping the world thinks so, too.

For some authors, there is another goal to this madness - making money off of something you poured your life and soul into. And then there's another breed of author who goes into this jungle filled with briars and natives who want to eat you alive who has much higher expectations of what an author is all about and that is to become rich.

It's nothing wrong with having your dreams, but make sure those dreams don't end up biting you in the rump when it's all said and done.

There's an interesting article up at Book Marketing Buzz today that addresses the question: Are you an author for pleasure or riches? Please stop by and give your two cents worth. After all, the more we try to explain how it really is, the less expectations these authors will have and will coerce them into living the life of the published author not with their hands outstretched, but with both feet planted on the ground.

10 Things People Don't Know about Relationship Expert Tim Kellis

We have a special guest today! Tim Kellis is the author of the relationship book, Equality: The Quest for the Happy Marriage, but wouldn't you like to know something about Tim that no one else knows? How about TEN things you never knew about relationship expert Tim Kellis? And, on top of that, we've got a great interview coming tomorrow and just so you know, Tim is available to answer questions today and tomorrow, so if you would like your relationship questions answered by an expert who has appeared on several television shows and radio, now's your chance!

And now, it is my pleasure to bring you Tim Kellis, author of Equality: The Quest for the Happy Marriage!

10 Things Most People Don't Know About Tim Kellis

1. I’ve played soccer since I was 5, including playing in college where we won the Big 8 championship 2 of the 4 years I was there.

2. As a child my mom wanted me to be a priest when I grew up…and then I discovered girls.

3. I’ve never scored less than an A in any math class I ever took.

4. Becoming a writer was one of the last things I ever expected to do.

5. Although I do have a very analytical mind, I am working very hard to find my emotional self.

6. I lived in Dallas for over 10 years.

7. My parents, who just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, my 2 brothers with 5 sons between them, and my sister who has 2 beautiful little girls, all still live in St. Louis, where I grew up.

8. As an adult I have been a voracious reader of non-fiction books.

9. In 1993 I started with an initial investment of $7,000 and grew that portfolio to $12.5 million at the height of the market in 2000, only to lose most of it when the bubble burst.

10. I lived in 8 cities in my 20 year professional career.

Stay tuned tomorrow for an exclusive interview!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Guest Blogger: Donna Lee Schillinger on The Quilldriver

A born and bred Texan, Donna Lee Schillinger has a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science and a master’s in cultural anthropology. She served in the Peace Corps in Quito, Ecuador, and continued to work in social services for 10 years, serving several years as executive director of a homeless shelter for single, young mothers.

In 2000, Donna “retired” from social work to take care of her elderly grandparents and homeschool her daughter. She soon began The Quilldriver, a custom publisher for nonprofit organizations and traditional publisher of inspirational nonfiction books.

So what exactly is The Quilldriver and why did Donna become involved in this?

She is here today to tell us all about it.

“In 1999, I visited my grandparents and took my grandpa out for an ice cream at Dairy Queen. I didn’t know he was diabetic! He and Grandma were getting to the point where they would have to make some changes. I asked him what his plan was. This calm, rational person who was giddy about getting away with eating ice cream all of the sudden turned irate with me. He said, “I’m staying in my house until I die and that’s that!”

Gees. Okay, Grandpa. I didn’t know I had hit the nerve so many others were probing for such a long time.

One year later, I sold my house, quit my job and moved half way across the country to live with my grandparents. The only way Grandpa could stay in his house was if someone was there with him. And this actually worked out for me because I wanted to homeschool my daughter and I had no idea of how I was going to be able to do that as a single mother. The grandparents took care of our living expenses in exchange for me caring for them.

That didn’t pay the rest of the bills though. I needed some income to cover clothes for my daughter, school supplies, car insurance and more. But what could I do? Leaving the grandparents for an eight-hour shift was not possible. One day when I was having my oil changed, I scanned the want ads and found an opening for feature writer for a local newspaper.

I got the job, and then another job for a monthly local publication. Then more freelance writing jobs were offered. So I set up shop as The Quilldriver. The bread and butter of my small business has been producing Hearing Health magazine for Deafness Research Foundation. I also produce two other smaller nonprofits publications, and I do some English/Spanish translation work. I used to interpret and get calls for that occasionally, but since I adopted a newborn in October 2007, I’ve let that aspect of my business go.

In 2006, a manuscript written by a friend of mine reached me and as I read it I thought, “I should publish this.” I had toyed with the idea of publishing books and with a simple decision (and two years of self-teaching) I became a book publisher! While working on publishing my company’s first title, Walking Man: A Modern Missions Experience in Latin America, I became inspired to write a book of my own.

As my book project evolved, I decided to develop a niche for The Quilldriver, inspirational/devotional multimedia publications for young Christian adults. I’m still doing all the nonprofit publications and some translation projects, but I do plan on phasing that out to exclusively concentrate on this niche.”


You can visit Donna’s website at www.OnMyOwnNow.com.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Interview with Donna Lee Schillinger, Author of On My Own Now

A born and bred Texan, Donna Lee Schillinger has a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science and a master’s in cultural anthropology. She served in the Peace Corps in Quito, Ecuador, and continued to work in social services for 10 years, serving several years as executive director of a homeless shelter for single, young mothers.

In 2000, Donna “retired” from social work to take care of her elderly grandparents and homeschool her daughter. She soon began The Quilldriver, a custom publisher for nonprofit organizations and traditional publisher of inspirational nonfiction books.

Award-winning editor and publisher, Donna makes her writing debut with On My Own Now: Straight Talk from the Proverbs for Young Christian Women who Want to Remain Pure, Debt-free and Regret-free.

She launched a nonprofit organization of the same name, with the mission to provide encouragement for young adults to maintain their Christian faith when they get out on their own. Visit her Web site at www.OnMyOwnNow.com. Donna lives in rural Arkansas with her husband John and children.

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Donna. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

I’m a wife and mother and I have a small business, The Quilldriver – Works with Words. I started writing in 2001 as a way to make money from home while I was homeschooling my daughter and taking care of my elderly grandparents. I started with feature writing for a local newspaper and moved to custom publishing for nonprofits, then I added book publishing in 2006. I also do English/Spanish translations.


Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

On My Own Now is about strengthening young women’s faith and preventing the screw-ups that can brand us for life. I draw on my eclectic past and use gender-reversed Proverbs with real-life applications to wave the red flag of caution for young women, warning against the pitfalls of a post-modern, sexually casual, consumer-is-king society that is indelibly scarring youth with cynicism, sexually transmitted diseases and bad credit.

I was 40 (just a few years ago) and I was reading Proverbs. When I was a teenager, I used to read Proverbs religiously (no pun intended). I latched on to some key verses, but to be honest, I didn’t really believe that most of the Proverbs applied to me and my life.

In retrospect, when I realized how much my errant youth could have benefited from some straight talk from the Proverbs, the first thing that occurred to me was that I needed to find a way to convey the importance of the Proverbs for a regret-free life to my own daughter, who at the time was 10. The idea grew from a sort of Proverbs scrapbook from mother to daughter in to On My Own Now, the book and the organization.


What kind of research was involved in writing On My Own Now?

This is actually a very interesting question for my book. I did have some light research, fact checking, finding sources for things I had remembered from my psychology classes in college, etc., but the most important source I used was divine. Before selecting Proverbs to be included in the book and then before beginning to write commentary on each one, I prayed a simple prayer that the Holy Spirit would take over and use me as a scribe of sorts to convey spiritual truths in spiritual words. I know this prayer was effective because I often would sit down and read the proverb and say, “Hmm. I’ve got nothing!” So in faith I would just put my fingers on the home keys and just listen. Then an hour later, I would sit back and say, “Wow! That’s good.” If I found myself laboring to write a commentary, it ended up being cut from the manuscript.


How much input did you have into the design of your book cover?

As publisher, I could have had a lot, but I know design is not one of my strong points, so I just hired a young designer and said, “Show me what you’ve got.” I did make the choices about the cover that usually belong to the publisher to make. And I wrote all the cover copy, of course, except for the endorsements!


Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

The waters have been smooth enough, but the problem is I have no sail. I’m like a row boat out on the water. I have to wait for the wind to blow me. The rest of my wordsmithing is pretty much a full-time pursuit, so I have to squeeze in time as I can find it to write and promote my book. It’s a familiar catch 22, I can’t make a living as a writer (yet) but it’s hard to find time to write because I’m busy making a living!

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

Well, I’m publishing it and to be honest, I didn’t contract with myself. That might be a mistake. I probably shouldn’t trust myself so much! You know what they say about doing business with family, surely it’s even more dangerous to do business with yourself.

From the time I finished writing until April Fool’s Day 2009 (my release date) has been approximately 18 months.


Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

Obviously, I don’t have an agent, and I don’t think an agent is necessary. I think there are plenty of small presses that might even prefer not to deal with agents. If your dream is being published with one of the big houses, an agent is essential.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes, my next project is editing an anthology called Purity’s Big Payoff/Premarital Sex is a Big Ripoff. The format will be a two-faced book (my new Quilldriver imprint!): on one side, the cover will read Purity’s Big Payoff. When turned over and flipped upside down, the cover will read Premarital Sex is s Big Rip-off. Think in terms of an instruction manual written in both English and Spanish, where one side is English and then the book flips upside down and other side is written in Spanish. Thus the last page of the purity book is immediately followed by the last page of the premarital sex book, but upside down, and vice versa.

Each half of the book will begin with an introduction by me. The intro to the purity book will include discussion of scriptural references to abstaining from sex outside of marriage, as well as the practical benefits of overcoming the strong cultural norm of premarital sex. Then up to 10 selected essays will follow, telling personal stories about how the essayists were victorious in this spiritual battle and have reaped practical benefits in their lives as a result. In the introduction of the premarital sex half of the book, I will tell my motivation for this project, and how important I believe it is for people who have suffered the results of secret sin to share their heartaches with young adults so that they can understand who is harmed in sex outside of marriage and what the very real ramifications of disobedience to God’s will in this area are. There will also be some discussion of the concept of recapturing one’s purity despite past sexual experience. Then up to 10 selected essays will follow, telling personal stories about how the essayists have experienced negative consequences from sex before marriage, and hopefully how God has restored the writer and even given them beauty for ashes.

I still need about three more essays on purity. Let me hear from you if the white of your wedding dress (or your bride’s dress) was symbolizing something.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

Morning. I’m a night owl, but for writing, I need the light of day.


If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

That’s an excellent question. When you say “money is no object” it puts me in mind of the expensive things I know are out of my budget, like full-page ads in magazines where my target readers might be, or hiring a publicist. But the fact of the matter is that other than being chosen as Oprah’s book of the month, there is no sure bet for becoming an overnight best-seller. And that’s the one thing (I would like to believe) money can’t buy.

I guess I would just do a media blitz with full-page ads and Internet video ads. They say this sort of mass marketing isn’t very effective anymore, but I’m yet to see what’s any better.

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

For most of us, self-promotion is very important. There are those lucky few, like the author of the Twilight series, who just get to sit at home like the hermit all of us writers at heart wish we could remain, but most of us have to be major self-promoters to gain any recognition. I think that’s the most bitter pill for a writer to swallow. I am not comfortable doing it and I hope I never become comfortable doing it, though it would be nice to not be uncomfortable! I’m shooting for that num feeling.

Offline, I really haven’t done very much promotion. I have a book tour scheduled for October, but I am yet to figure out how that’s going to work. I’ve done one local radio show. My heart isn’t in it!

Online, I’ve done a little better behind the shroud of the Internet. I set up a Web site – www.OnMyOwnNow.com. And here’s an interesting thing: the idea was I would promote the book through the Web site, but what has happened is that the promotional idea eclipsed the book. And now the book is in support of the larger umbrella, On My Own Now Ministries, which I’m in the process of incorporating as a nonprofit organization. I have a monthly free e-zine called Single! Young Christian Woman, and we have an annual self-improvement initiative called The Ground Hog Day experiment, and more big plans coming down the pipeline.

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

Part of my motivation for becoming a publisher is a belief that if someone has a strong enough desire to do the hard work of writing a book, that message deserves an audience. That doesn’t mean it won’t need to go through a dozen rounds of edits to make the message readily understandable, but the message deserves an audience nonetheless. Publishers have no right to deny an author that earned merit – they are not gatekeepers. They might be an obstacle, but they can’t keep you from entering into the hallowed ground you deserve to stand on if you have written a book.


Thank you for coming, Donna. Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

You can order On My Own Now: Straight Talk from the Proverbs for Young Christian Women who Want to Remain Pure, Debt-free and Regret-free through local bookstores and online booksellers (the biggies). The best deal – 25% off retail – is on my Web site at www.OnMyOwnNow.com.

Thank you for hosting me!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

10 Things People Don't Know about Internet Dating Expert Cherie Burbach

Cherie Burbach is back with us today! Cherie is the author of the Internet dating book, Internet Dating is Not Like Ordering a Pizza, but wouldn't you like to know something about her that no one else knows? How about TEN things you never knew about Internet dating expert Cherie Burbach? And, on top of that, how about if she answers your Internet dating questions all day long? Is that like the best thing you've ever heard of? Oh come on now, don't be shy! Now's your time to find out all there is about Internet dating (pssst...come closer...Cherie met her husband online and she's perfectly normal!)!

And now, it is my pleasure to bring you Cherie Burbach!

10 Things You Don't Know About Internet Dating Expert Cherie Burbach

1. I met my husband online.

I didn't sign up for Internet dating for the purpose of getting married, but it happily turned out that way. I decided to do Internet dating because I just wanted to get some control over my dating life. As soon as I logged, I saw that it was a great way to meet someone special.

2. I went on over 60 coffee dates in just six months.

I didn't just meet my husband, but I met 60 other guys as well. Each of these was what I would call a "coffee date," which means I met them for an hour out in a public place. Usually these dates were at a coffee shop, which in my opinion is the very best way to meet someone. I would meet my match for an hour, talk with him and get to know him a bit, and then decide from there if an actual first date was a good idea. In many cases, it was. For some others? Not so much!

3. When I was eight, my mother and I walked in on a robber ransacking our house.

We came home from a night at my grandparents house to find a robber going through all of our drawers and things. The house was a mess, and he had already stolen things like our stereo and TV. He even had my piggy bank in his hand! He ran out as soon as he saw us and they never caught him.

4. I feel protective of Internet daters.

It's true, one of my pet peeves is the way Internet daters get treated sometimes. Sometimes married people can become very smug about Internet dating, as if it's something that "losers" have to do. They look down their nose at the whole process.

Little do they know that Internet daters are simply folks who haven't (for whatever reason) met the right person yet. Many of them didn't want to just get married to someone because they were a certain age, but held out to meet the right person for them. In my opinion, Internet dating can introduce you to someone much more compatible than you'd find with set ups from friends or even out and about on your own.

5. I married my husband a year to the day we met.

If you'd have told me that I would have married someone within a year of meeting them, I would have told you that you were nuts! haha. But it's true. When you know it's right, things tend to move quickly.

6. I've written three books of poetry.

In addition to writing about dating and relationships, I also have written three poetry books. My latest book, Father's Eyes, is the recipient of the Editor's Choice for Poetry from All Reviews Books.

7. I am huge football fan.

I have always been a fan of football, even when I was a little girl. Perhaps that's because I live in a state with lots of fans (Wisconsin), but I think it's something about the combination of strategy and toughness of the game that really intrigue me. I'm lucky that I get to write about sports rumors for EveryJoe (http://www.everyjoe.com/articles/author/brrbach/) now, as well!

Every year for the last 15, I have put up a "Packer tree" with green and gold lights and ornaments that reflect my favorite NFL team. I put it up at the start of football season each year. Luckily my husband likes this tradition, and he's helped me add to our Packer ornament collection over the years.

8. I love crocheting.

My grandma taught me to crochet when I was just eight years old. It's something I still enjoy. Now, I should say that having a "geeky" hobby like crocheting was something I did mention (but not dwell on) when it came to writing my online profile. I think it's important to show your personality in your online profile, and your hobbies are a part of that.

9. I had one of my worst Valentine's Days ever while I was Internet dating.

Here's a secret: I have always hated Valentine's Day. I don't know why. I don't begrudge people that celebrate the day, I just don't get into it. Never did. When I was Internet dating, I made the mistake of setting up a first date on Valentine's Day! I had completely spaced when I made the date, and when the guy showed up with flowers I just thought he was being nice. Then he said, "Well it's Valentine's Day - I had to get you something."

The date started out okay, but as soon as we got to the restaurant, he pulled out a pile of coupons to use. Then proceeded to talk about how expensive everything was. Then complained about what I ordered. Then asked the waitress seventeen times if he could pay her tip with coupons. (She just shrugged.)

I couldn't wait for that date to be over! Luckily, it was only a month later that I met my husband.

10. I believe anyone can succeed with Internet dating.

Yes, Internet daters, I'm talking to you! I think with the right profile and the right approach, anyone can find someone special with Internet dating. It doesn't matter what you look like or what you weigh, or any of the superficial things that people can get caught up on. The Internet will help you find the exact right person for you. You just have to know how to go about it to be successful.

Cherie Burbach used her experience with meeting her husband online to pen At the Coffee Shop, a humorous look at the world of Internet dating. Cherie went on over 60 coffee dates in just six months. She met lots of great people and one of those turned out to be the guy she would marry just one year later. She is the Dating Feature Writer for Suite101, an online magazine with over 10 million views monthly, and also the author of three poetry books, including A New Dish and The Difference Now. Her latest, Father's Eyes, has received the 2008 Editor's Choice Award by Allbooks Review. Cherie blogs at Jennifer Lopez, Jessica and Ashlee Simpson, Career and Kids, Celebrity Apprentice, Gossip on Sports, and Diabetes Notes. For poets looking for a review of their book, check out Cherie's new site Bonjour Poetry Reviews. Readers have resonated with Cherie's honest and inspirational "This I Believe" essay, which is the second-most popular out of over 32,000 entries on the NPR website. For more information, please visit Cherie's website at www.thedifferencenow.com or www.datingdatingall-things-dating.blogspot.com.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Interview with Internet Dating Expert Cherie Burbach on Writing, Publishing and Promoting Her New Book

Cherie Burbach used her experience with meeting her husband online to pen At the Coffee Shop, a humorous look at the world of Internet dating. Cherie went on over 60 coffee dates in just six months. She met lots of great people and one of those turned out to be the guy she would marry just one year later.

She is the Dating Feature Writer for Suite101, an online magazine with over 10 million views monthly, and also the author of three poetry books, including A New Dish and The Difference Now. Her latest, Father's Eyes, has received the 2008 Editor's Choice Award by Allbooks Review. Cherie blogs at Jennifer Lopez, Jessica and Ashlee Simpson, Career and Kids, Celebrity Apprentice, Gossip on Sports, and Diabetes Notes.

For poets looking for a review of their book, check out Cherie's new site Bonjour Poetry Reviews.

Readers have resonated with Cherie's honest and inspirational "This I Believe" essay, which is the second-most popular out of over 32,000 entries on the NPR website. For more information, please visit Cherie's website at www.thedifferencenow.com or www.datingdatingall-things-dating.blogspot.com.

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Cherie. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

I've been writing most of my life, starting with poetry and short stories when I was a kid. Writing has always been a healthy outlet for me and the thing I turn to most when I'm happy, sad, or anything in between. (I'm one of those people who have a notebook with me at all times!)

I've been writing freelance articles here and there for about ten years. About five years ago I wrote my first poetry book, The Difference Now. Now, I spent my days writing full-time as an author and blogger.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

I wrote my book, Internet Dating is Not Like Ordering a Pizza, for all those people that have tried online dating and given up. The Internet is a great way to meet the right person for you, but there is a science to it. I wanted to show daters that with the right profile and approach they can have success with Internet dating.


What kind of research was involved in writing Internet Dating Is Not Like Ordering a Pizza?

A few years ago I did Internet dating myself. In six months online, I met over 60 guys for coffee and conversation, and one of them was the man I married. I learned a lot about how to manage Internet dating, how to write a profile that attracted the right kinds of attention, and to approach potential dates.

In the last few years I've also worked with online daters on questions they have about their profiles, ending dates, and other dating issues they may have. The questions I receive always help me determine what kind of information daters are looking for.

How much input did you have into the design of your book cover?

I designed the cover myself, so I had plenty of input!


Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

A few years ago I decided to start my own publishing company, and it has been a wonderful experience. The world of publishing has changed so much in the last few years, and now smaller publishers have access to the same distribution channels and printing methods as the larger organizations.


For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

I started writing the book two years ago. Once the book was finally finished it took about three months for editing, cover design, and release.


Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

I don't have an agent and don't feel having one is necessary to get published. However, it depends on what your goals are. As I get more books published and develop different writing goals, it may be something I consider down the road.


Do you plan subsequent books?

Definitely. I have a book on diabetes coming out this year and am already working on another dating-related book.


Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

I used to be a night writer, especially when I wrote poetry. I love to write later at night, and usually do it in a notebook. Now, I write throughout the day.


If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

A great marketing team to get the word out. Marketing is the thing many authors shy away from, but it's a necessary component of getting your book out there. That's true if you publish yourself or if you end up with a large publisher.


How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

Self-promotion is very important, and I'll admit it's something I have to work at. It doesn't come naturally, although I envy those folks that can do it with ease. As a creative person, it's hard to promote at times because it feels like "bragging."

However, "promotion" is simply getting the word out to the people who might be interested in your book. And that's a great thing!

I try and promote through outlets that seem like a natural fit for my audience. In the offline world, I have given lectures on online dating, which not only promotes my book but also helps those struggling with online dating. I have worked with online daters one on one on rewriting their profiles, and receive many questions each week from daters about relationships and dating.

I do a lot of online promotion through blogs, online writing, and websites. I believe bloggers have a very strong voice when it comes to products and it's important for authors to respectfully work with them when it comes to book promotion.


Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

Don't let the perceptions of others about a certain publishing method deter you. If you hear something negative about a large publishing company or about self-publishing, find out more before making a decision. Now more than ever, authors have a variety of options when it comes to getting published. The key is to write a book that people want to read.


Thank you for coming, Cherie! BTW, Cherie will be back tomorrow to answer whatever questions you may have about Internet dating. Leave your questions below and she'll answer them tomorrow or stop back by tomorrow and leave them. Thank you!


Sunday, April 12, 2009

MURDER BY 4 Selected by Writer's Digest as One of 101 Best Websites for Writers

I'm proud to announce MURDER BY 4 was honored recently with the prestigious award as being one of Writer's Digest Top 100 Websites for Writers for 2008!

Murder by 4
is run by a group of ladies I have come to know personally not only as hosts for our authors at Pump Up Your Book Promotion, but personally, too, so it gives me pleasure in introducing to you one of the writers, Marta Stephens, who is here today to tell us what it was like when she found out MB4 was granted one of Writer's Digest Top 101 Websites for Writers!

MURDER BY 4 Selected by Writer’s Digest as One of the 101 Best Websites For Writers

© Marta Stephens 2009 all rights reserved

I couldn’t believe it when I opened the e-mail two days ago from Writer’s Digest congratulating me on their selection of MURDER BY 4, as one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers by Writer's Digest for 2009! I’d received the magazine earlier in the week, looked through the listing of other selected sites, and missed mine completely. What a wonderful way to end the week!

For those not familiar with MURDER BY 4, this writers' blog was launched in February 2008 to give readers and writers and insider's look at the lives of four published authors; Marta Stephens, Aaron Paul Lazar, Kim Smith, and S. W. Vaughn as well as a host of guest writers. Thus to receive this honor, is nothing short of amazing. When we launched the blog in 2008, my co-writers and I had no idea it would become so popular. In just over a year, the blog has received over 13,600 visitors, we've featured more than 120 guest writers, and posted well over 300 articles, reviews, and/or interviews. You'll find our anniversary post here: http://murderby4.blogspot.com/2009/02/mb4-celebrates-1st-anniversary.html.

Among our featured guests this past year were, author Warren Adler, "The War of the Roses" http://murderby4.blogspot.com/2008/10/warren-adler-idea.html and James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief, Midwest Book Review http://murderby4.blogspot.com/2008/04/4-7-08-interview-with-jim-cox-editor-in.html as well as numerous debut authors. Whether your reading preference is for a throat-clenching thriller, a page turner crime/suspense, or a can't-put-it-down cozy, I hope you’ll take a moment to visit Murder by 4. There you’ll find interesting articles, author interviews, articles by guest bloggers, reviews, and an insider's look at the publishing world.

I know I speak for all of us at MB4 in expressing a deep appreciation to our readers, featured writers, and the virtual book tour companies who have helped us grow. Many thanks to those who have visited our site, offered comments, cross promoted with us and especially to those who voted for MURDER BY 4. For those who have the magazine, you’ll find us listed on page 59.

About the author:

Marta Stephens is the author of the Sam Harper Crime Mystery series published by BeWrite Books (UK)
THE DEVIL CAN WAIT – (2008) , Top Ten 2008 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery)
SILENCED CRY (2007), Honorable Mention, 2008 New York Book Festival, Top Ten, 2007 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery)

www.martastephens-author.com

http://samharpercrimescene.blogspot.com

http://mstephens-musings.blogspot.com

http://murderby4.blogspot.com

Friday, April 10, 2009

Interview with Alan Kennedy-Shaffer, Author of The Obama Revolution

Alan Kennedy-Shaffer served as a regional field director for Barack Obama and the Democratic Party in Virginia. Educated at Yale University and William & Mary Law School, Kennedy-Shaffer is the author of Denial and Deception: A Study of the Bush Administration’s Rhetorical Case for Invading Iraq. Kennedy-Shaffer’s writings have also appeared in The New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, the Washington Post, the Patriot-News, the Daily Press, and the Virginia Gazette. Alan lives in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. You can visit Alan on the web at www.alankennedy-shaffer.com.

Thank you so much for this interview, Alan! Why did you decide to write a book about life on the campaign trail with our now President Barack Obama?

President Barack Obama inspired millions of Americans to register to vote, talk to their neighbors, and volunteer for the first time. My own experiences as a regional field director in Virginia and an Obama Organizing Fellow in Pennsylvania became the foundation for The Obama Revolution.


How long did it take you to put together and how did you find out about Phoenix Books who published it?

After the election, I was unsure of what to do with myself now that the 18-hour days were finally over. I wrote The Obama Revolution between the election and Christmas, a break-neck pace that nearly killed me. But it was worth it--Phoenix Books jumped at the chance to publish the first book about the campaign by a former staffer.


How did you get interested in politics?

From a young age, I watched my parents and my grandparents engaged in community politics in an effort to unite Americans behind the ideals upon which this nation was founded. So I guess it runs in the family. That is why I volunteered for Governor Ed Rendell, Governor Howard Dean, and Senator Barack Obama--and was hired to serve as a regional field director in Virginia.
Your book is about life on the campaign trail. Can you tell us what your first impressions of a “skinny black kid from Illinois who was going to change the world” were?

I have shaken Barack Obama's hand on numerous occasions, including Washington, Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Harrisburg. But it was my first encounter with Obama, before his candidacy began, that is indelibly etched in my memory--and that is included in The Obama Revolution:

“I first met Obama on May 18, 2005, in the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. Meeting Obama convinced me that he truly believed what he was telling the nation. He made me promise that I would do everything in my power to bring about positive change.”

Did you get a chance to meet his family?

No. I would love to meet Michelle Obama some day.

Did you ever meet Hilary Clinton and Joe Biden? What were your impressions of them?

Hillary Clinton had a firmer hand shake than Barack Obama on the one occasion that I met her in person. But Obama gave a far more eloquent speech.

Joe Biden was a fine pick for Vice President, although I would have offered the job to Hillary Clinton. Biden, though, certainly is not afraid to say what he thinks.


Back to your book, The Obama Revolution, can you give us a brief synopsis of what subjects you covered?

The Obama Revolution touches on not only the campaign itself but also the political movement that allowed Barack Obama to turn red states like Virginia blue. The book also delves into the youth movement as a powerful force for change. Finally, the book provides insight into Obama's rhetoric and faith, topics that historians will be discussing for many years to come.


Do you plan on more political books?

After The Obama Revolution, a book about President Barack Obama's rise to the most powerful political position on the planet, and Denial and Deception: A Study of the Bush Administration's Rhetorical Case for Invading Iraq, an academic look at public opinion and President George W. Bush, I'm not what I will write next. But I have a few ideas...


Do you plan on entering politics yourself?

It would be an honor to follow in the footsteps of President Barack Obama.


Thank you so much for this interview, Alan. It has been an indeed pleasure! Would you like to give us your website address so others can find out more about you and your wonderful new book, The Obama Revolution?

Absolutely! The Obama Revolution is available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. More information about the book is available through Phoenix Books.


http://www.amazon.com/Obama-Revolution-Alan-Kennedy-Shaffer/dp/1597776386/

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Obama-Revolution/Alan-Kennedy-Shaffer/e/9781597776387/

http://www.phoenixbooksandaudio.com/books/bks_prodcuts/obamarevolution.htm

Thursday, April 09, 2009

A Glimpse Into a Writer's Soul featuring Richard Roach, author of Scattered Dreams

Getting glimpses into authors' souls might be wonderfully entertaining for readers; but for the authors themselves, it's sometimes a difficult road they have traveled and I'm not talking the publishing road. I'm talking the life road.

What many readers do not realize is that it's that life road that molds the author and becomes the backbone of the writer's soul which makes him or her the writer he is today.

Richard Roach is the author of a brilliant novel called Scattered Leaves in which he is traveling all over the cyber world talking about his book on various blogs during his third virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion.

While his publishing road has been a rough one like many new authors, his life road hasn't been exactly easy, either. For his virtual book tour stop at The Writer's Life, I asked Richard to open up his soul and tell us about something in his life that no one knows about. Richard didn't disappoint, but he certainly pulled on those heart strings.

I'm proud to present a piece written by Richard about his life as a child and the traumas that enveloped his life at such a young age.

The Dreadful Journey
by Richard Roach

Most of my memories start the winter of 1936-1937. I was five. My mother and father decided to get a divorce. In '37 my father turned fifty, and he was a helpless alcoholic. My mother turned thirty-nine that spring and she had decided to finish her education. The fact that she had three children did not alter the decision one whit. If you will insert Dick for Duke, you'll get my feelings of the divorce.

Duke's Grandfather said, “Get in the car, son. We’ve got to go to town.”

“Is daddy going to be there?” Duke asked.

“I don’t know. He should be.”

“Will mother be there?”

“Yes, Mora will definitely be there.”

“Where we going?” Duke asked his Grandfather Turner.

“To the courthouse.”

“What’s a courthouse, papa?” Like his mother, he called his grandfather, papa.

“Legal stuff’s done there.”

“What’s legal stuff, papa?”

“Hush, boy. You’ll see it soon enough.”

Duke Weaver’s mind flipped to the next scene, a big room with dark paneling, hardwood benches, wooden fences, empty chairs, and a man with a wooden hammer sitting behind a tall desk. His mother stood on Duke’s right with Grandfather Turner.

His father, William Weaver, dressed in a wrinkled, white shirt, blue tie, and jeans stood on Duke’s left. Duke could smell his father, and knew he had been drinking again. “It’s going to be all right, Duke. It’s going to be all right,” William said with a smile as he looked down at his son..

“Quiet! Quiet in the courtroom!” the judge ordered, banging the gavel. “Now… Anthony Paul Weaver, do you know what’s happening here?”

Duke looked up, but he couldn’t see the judge, and he certainly had no idea what was happening.

“Hold the boy up, so he can see me,” the judge roared.

Grandfather Turner picked up Duke. “Talk to the judge, boy. He wants to ask you some questions.”

“Do you understand that your mother is divorcing your father?” the judge asked.

The small boy nodded.

“You have to speak, Anthony. The court reporter has to have a verbal answer.”

Again Duke nodded.

“Speak out loud!”

“Okay.”

“Say yes, or no, Anthony. Whatever you prefer,” the judge said.

“Umm, yes,” Duke said

“That’s good, Anthony. Now we’re getting somewhere. It’s time to decide whether you live with your mother or father. Do you understand that?”

“Uh, yes.”

“That’s very good, Anthony. I know this is a difficult time in your life and I want to help you all I can. I want to take into consideration your desires. Would you rather live with your mother, or your father?”

“Uh, yes.”

“No, no, no! Anthony, work with me on this. You must choose between them.”

“Okay, no.”

“Do you prefer to live with your mother?” the judge asked.

“Yes.”

“Do you understand, your father will no longer be there with you?”

“My Daddy won’t be there,” Duke began to sob.

Mora took Duke from Grandfather Turner and hugged him. “Don’t cry, baby. Mother will see to it. You can see, Bill; he just won’t be living with us anymore,” she said patting Duke on the back.

“The boy’s too young to understand,” the judge said. “I’ll have to proceed . . . using my best judgment. As I understand it, Ms Weaver, you intend to live with your father for the foreseeable future.”

“Yes, your honor.”

“Mr. Turner, does that work a hardship on you and your wife?”

“No, your honor. Mora needs to get away from that damn drunk before he kills her. He’s already served ninety-days on the pea farm for beating her up! He done it—”

The judge banged his gavel and shouted, “Strike everything past, no, your honor. Try to maintain decorum, Mr. Turner.”

“Yes, your honor.”

“Are there any other children in the household?”

“No, your honor,” Turner said softly.

“Will the mother and child have a separate bedroom?”

“Yes, your honor.”

“What about transportation to and from school? Anthony will start school this fall.”

“Adams Elementary’s only a few blocks from where I live, your honor. One of us will walk with him,” Turner said.

“Very well. Keeping in mind my previous ruling, before the child was brought into the courtroom, there will be a probationary period of six months. After that, we’ll meet again and see how things are progressing. In the meantime, Mora Turner Weaver, you are temporarily awarded the custody of Anthony Paul Weaver. Do you have any questions?”

“No, your honor.”

“Mr. William A. Weaver, you may see your son each Saturday for a period of four-hours. This will be during daylight. No night visits. Do you have any questions?”

“No, your honor.”

Some minutes later, on the sidewalk alongside the Turner Chevrolet, Mora pulled the squalling child from William’s arms. “Wait, Daddy, wait a minute! Don’t leave me, Daddy. Don’t leave me, Daddy!” Duke cried.

“I’m not going to leave you, Duke. I’ll come to see you every Saturday. I’ll take you to the show and we can play catch, go swimming, and all that good stuff. You’ll see! I’ll write you letters and everything,” Weaver said as he stepped away from Duke.

Mora shoved the boy into the backseat and said, “Hush, Duke! You’re acting like a baby!”

“Git outta my sight, Weaver, before I take a tire-iron to you,” Turner said. “Shut the damned doors.” Turner slammed down on the gas and drove away. Duke stood on the backseat and waved, but his father watched the car fade from sight with his hands shoved deep into his pockets.

Yeah, I remember all that shit, Duke said to himself as he listened carefully for sounds on the porch. I never saw my dear, sweet Daddy Bill again . . . except for the time Papa Turner and I went to Liberty to get a sack of sweet potatoes. Let’s see, I was eleven. Daddy Bill was hitch-hiking down U. S. Highway 90. I know he saw me, but he didn’t wave.
He said he was gonna write me letters, but he lied about that, too. In all those years, let’s see . . . I was thirteen when he died—I got him back a little bit by not going to his funeral—the only letter I got had two, thin dimes in the envelope and a one sentence note . . . “Do you love your Daddy Bill?”

The End

From this you can see I didn't know doodly about what was going on. The next thing I found myself "on the road" with my Father and ten-year-old brother. Jim was a kind man who always wore a suit with a tie, white shirt, and kangaroo, black shoes. He never cursed me, yelled at me or hit me; he was a perfect father, but he was an alcoholic. After a few months of traveling Texas (hitchhiking, of course, can you imagine this?) daddy decided to park us in a room above the drug store in Alvin, Texas.

At this point father left. Where? I know nothing about where he went or what he did. My brother was a resourceful lad (he later, after the war, graduated first in the geology school at A & M, class of 1949) and built a shine box and started shining shoes on the streets of Alvin. My job was to watch. I took it all in, believe me, I was too frightened to say anything. Kids in war zones do not tend to talk and I was in a war of survival. I learned to keep my mouth shut! I understood that if the authorities happened to pick us up, my bother and I would be separated, this was my biggest fear.

After nine months of this fun, father returned and carried us (via the bus, this time) to our Grandparents in Livingston. It was here that I learned about telling the truth, honoring women, being kind to babies, working hard, and beating the hell out of any male person who crossed my trail. The tougher you act (and are), the less likely you're liable to get beat on. It is better to be the beater than the beatee.

I lived a wonderful life with my Grandparents until mother finished college, returned home and got a job teaching school. She meant well and wanted to take care of me, but what the hell, the first rattle of the box I'm gone again with my closet of fears. I was twelve. Son (my brother) was in Europe fightening the Germans and I was left, alone again, to fight the black nights with their horrors, monster horses as big as a tree that can crush a courthouse with one mighty hoof, trains that run over you when you go to sleep, but the worst dream of all was falling off the earth and tumbling endlessly through space.

I believe the worst fear of all is not knowing what you're afraid of. I've been afraid all my life, butterflys, and anxiety, that sort of thing. My palms don't sweat and I don't shake like a dog at the vet's and it isn't money. I thought money would cure my fear until I had a million in the bank and found that didn't help. Winning battles, physical and mental, may help but the terror stays with you. Death will come some day soon with its sweet kiss and that will sooth the jangled nerves, quiet the endless brain searching, and put to rest the ills of old age.

Richard Roach is the author of SCATTERED DREAMS. You can visit his website at www.richarderoach.com.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

GUEST BLOGGER: Ten Things You Didn't Know About J.W. Nicklaus, author of The Light, The Dark & Ember Between

J.W. Nicklaus resides in a place not entirely fit for human habitation about five months of the year. No pets to speak of, only the apparitions from which all romantics suffer.

An Arizona native, he’s been from one coast to the other, and a few places in between. College brought an AA in Journalism with a minor in Photography, and a Bachelor of Science in Telecommunications. His work experience has run the gamut from Creative Director for a small advertising firm in Tucson to a litigation support bureau in Phoenix (and assuredly some awkward stuff in the mix).

Snow has been featured prominently in his stories, perhaps because of the seasonless cli-mate he lives in. Nature was meant to be enjoyed and experienced, not hidden from the senses. So to that end, he hopes someday to live amongst those who are able to live through four true seasons, and not just blast furnace and warm.

He enjoys the occasional Arizona Diamondbacks game with his son, as well as watching him grow up. The experience of being a single dad has taught him far more about himself than he ever thought possible.

Within the expanse of every waking moment, he hopes his guardian angel keeps its arms open wide and heart ever watchful, for there but for one true Hope goes She.

For more about J.W. visit www.avomnia.com.


Ten Things You Didn't Know About J.W. Nicklaus
by J.W. Nicklaus, author of The Light, The Dark & Ember Between

We are a culture of lists, so I supposed that makes us 'culturalists'. Okay, that was pretty bad, but it has more than a grain of truth to it. We love to put things in heirarchical order, from best to worst, favorite to forgettable. I was asked to create a list of ten things, but I'm going to buck the trend (and my own ingrained sense of list protocol) and list them in no particular order, although they will be numbered because the rules say I need to.

1) I once rode my bicycle over my brothers head when we were kids.
Hang on! Before the hate mail begins you should know that he had a football helmet on. I don't recall how much convincing it took, but I'm sure I had to do quite the sales job to make it happen. It wasn't without karma, however.

2) I took a large, green, leaf-shaped ashtray to the noggin.
As family legend has it, I was sitting calmly doing whatever and my little brother, apparently very non-chalantly, toddled over and hefted this large glass ashtray (dad smoked a pipe once in a while back then) as high as he could and unceremoniously brought it down upon my skull. Mom says I screamed bloody murder, but apparently my brother was non-plussed, having taken care to place the ashtray back where it had originally sat. Clever little bastard, wasn't he.

For the record, we get along fine now, and have for quite some time.

3) I played Little League Baseball.
Two "seasons," as I recall, but dad would have to refresh my memory. I played left field, ostensibly because I could do much less damage during play out there. I had a golfers swing, too. Interestingly, I've never taken up golf, but my batting swing has improved with age.

4) I learned to type on an actual typewriter.
Gasp! How crudely nostaglic, huh? I know, beyond all doubt, that I'm not the only one. My parents had an old Olympia typewiter, I believe, and I still remember having to muscle the keystrokes, not to mention white-out, those little correcting strips, and carbon paper. I still have a fondness for the noise of those key tines hitting the platen and the ding as you reached the right margin.

5) I received 3 credit hours for taking a course on officiating volleyball in college.
I had played volleyball for a good number of years by that point, and needed something to flesh out my schedule, so it seemed a natural fit. I'm not so sure I could get away with this little gem today, though.

6) I did a stint as Creative Director for an advertising agency.
Wasn't a big agency, but I got to write print and radio ad copy. Come to think of it, that's the only job I've ever had where I had my own office. I'm not quite sure what that says about my work history, but I'm reticent to analyze it anymore, lest I come to some disturbing realization.

7) Everyone should, at least once, write a letter to their Op/Ed editor. I did!
Here's the deal . . .it was ages ago, seriously. At least twenty years ago. There was some piece in the Tucson newspaper about the controversy stewing between diaper camps (yes, I used the word stewing intentionally): Cloth versus Disposables. For some bizarre reason I can't possibly remember now, I wrote a letter to the editor about it, and it wound up being published in the Op/Ed section.

No, I can't remember what I wrote. Sorry! As a side tidbit, it was written on an electric typewriter. Note the technological progression ;^)

8) I once worked answering phones for the Jerry Lewis MDA telethon, and did some work with Casa De Los Ninos.
Both were done in Tucson. I remember being excited about doing the telethon because one of the local anchors would be there, and she was cute (I was in my teens, by the way). Nina Trasoff was here name. I believe she's now part of the Tucson City Council.

Casa De Los Ninos was a home set up for children who were temporarily removed from potentially harmful situations in their homes or families. I genuinely don't remember any specifics, but I do remember the children. One in particular, named Brian, absolutely clung to me on one visit I made. Almost from the moment I stepped in the door until he had to go to bed. That child's need has, to this day, rested gently in my heart.

9) I am awed by the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution.
The simple words of a 21st century man can't begin to do the slightest justice to either document. The forefathers of this country didn't come together by sheer happenstance. There was a clear plan, actions guided by the hand of Providence. Those men dared to throw off the shackles of tyranny and begin anew, their every ideal predicated upon the natural rights of man. The Declaration alone was a daunting act of treason, yet they forged ahead with what they knew was right.

How could anyone not be awed by that?

10) I am a devout hopeless romantic.
Those seeking proof won't find it in a simple answer here. Read through The Light, The Dark, and Ember Between. It can explain far better than I could here.



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The Light, The Dark & Ember Between by J.W. Nicklaus can be purchased by clicking here. Leave a comment for J.W. and you could win a free virtual book tour for yourself or a $50 Amazon gift certificate!

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