Friday, January 31, 2014

The Bullying Experience Video

This is a must see video. It shows one of the reasons bullying is such a problem. Thanks to the people of FOUSEYTUBE for conducting this experiment and sharing it with us.

In the News: Tossed Out Lunches

I know, I know, it's not Tuesday. But I saw this article and had to talk about it. The Associated Press has reported that parents stated approximately 50 elementary students in Salt Lake City, Utah had their lunches tossed in the trash because money was owed on their food accounts. Cafeteria servers are unable to see the debts owed until the child checks out with their lunch tray. For health reasons these lunches couldn't be served to other students, so they were taken away and thrown out, and the students with overdue bills were given fruit and milk.

Now, keeping in mind that the news isn't always accurate, if this report is even remotely true, it's disturbing. With the economy the way it is and the unemployment numbers what they are, overdue lunch accounts aren't surprising. Families are struggling. But to mortify any child and draw attention to his overdue account in such a public fashion not only goes against common decency, it sets up the child to be teased and bullied by his peers. Isn't that something schools are working to curb? And let's not forget, this isn't the child's fault, yet he is the one suffering for it.

What do you think about this?

The Friday 56 - Week 163

Welcome to Week 163!

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post to the Linky at Freda's Voice. Add the post url, not your blog url. It's that simple.

The first book I am going to share with you has more local appeal than anything. In order to assist with research for a middle grade novel I'm writing, I borrowed a copy of History of Mount Holyoke Seminary by Sarah D. (Locke) Stow. This is the higher education institution for women started by Mary Lyon in 1837 that is now called Mount Holyoke College. Stow graduated from Mount Holyoke in 1859.

Page 56 refers to the challenges of promoting this new institution for women in a pamphlet Lyon was designing for potential candidates:

She could not describe its literary standard by comparing it with that of established institutions of the kind everywhere known, as one could do in founding a new college for men. There was no other school to which she could point as an example in this respect when she added: "It is to take the literary standard of Ipswich Seminary, allowing for continual progress, just as that institution has been advancing from year to year. It is to adopt the same high standard of mental discipline and thorough investigation, and the same systematic course of solid studies." An outline of that course was followed by the remark, "That it may accomplish the most good, it is designed for an older class of young ladies, and it is desirable that they should advance in study as far as possible before entering."

I'm also still making my way through I Am Abraham by Jerome Charyn. This is from page 156:

I kept thinking of John Brown and Beecher in his floating pulpit. I could sniff the storm from my window. I watched the swirl of snow until it was time to leave for the Cooper Institute. 

What are you reading today?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

This Day in History - Speed Skater Dan Jansen Sets New World Record

With the winter Olympics coming up soon, it seemed fitting that this week's post would be related to sports. In addition, it's the perfect time to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Dan Jansen's Gold Medal performance at the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.

On January 30, 1994, American speed skater Dan Jansen set a new world record of 35.76 at the World Sprint Championships in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Favored to win in Calgary in 1988, the day of the race, Jansen's sister died of leukemia. After spills in the 500 meter final that day and then again in the 1000 meter a few days later, Jansen left Calgary without a medal. By the end of 1992, however, Jansen was breaking records and making his mark on the sport of speed skating.

"In December 1992, Jansen became the first man ever to skate 500 meters in less than 36 seconds, when he set a new world record mark of 35.92 seconds in Hamar, Norway. The January 30, 1993 finish marked the sixth time that Jansen had either tied or broke the world record in the 500 meters. He had come to dominate that event and the 1,000 meters in international competition, but an Olympic medal still eluded him.

The next Winter Olympics--Jansen’s fourth--were held in 1994, in Lillehammer, Norway. By that time, he had won an overall total of seven World Cup titles and set seven world records. After he slipped in the 500 meter skate, it looked like Jansen’s hopes for Olympic glory might be shattered. When he took to the ice for the 1,000 meter event four days later, however, Jansen turned things around, skating to a world record finish of 1:12.43 to finally win Olympic gold."

After the Lillehammer games, Jansen retired from competition. That same year, Jansen founded the Dan Jansen Foundation, whose "mission is to solicit financial support and distribute funds to charities with an emphasis on the fight against leukemia, which claimed the life of Dan's sister, Jane. The foundation supports youth sports programs, educational and scholarship awards."

You can read more about Dan Jansen's journey to the Gold at To learn more about the Dan Jansen Foundation, please visit

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Five, Six, Seven, Nate! Book Giveaway at YA and Kids Books Central

Three days left for residents of the US or Canada to enter for a chance to win one of two autographed copies of this book. Find details at

The sequel to Better Nate Than Ever: a New York Times Book Review Notable Book of 2013, Publishers Weekly Flying Start and Best Book of 2013, and Amazon Best Book of 2013.

In Five, Six, Seven, Nate!, Nate Foster's Broadway dreams are finally coming true. Armed with a one-way ticket to New York City, small-town theater geek Nate is off to start rehearsals for E.T.: The Broadway Musical. It's everything he ever practiced his autograph for! But as thrilling as Broadway is, rehearsals are nothing like Nate expects: full of intimidating child stars, cutthroat understudies, and a director who can't even remember Nate's name.

Now, as the countdown to opening night is starting to feel more like a time bomb, Nate is going to need more than his lucky rabbit's foot if he ever wants to see his name in lights. He may even need a showbiz miracle.

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

In the News - Interview Mistakes

It's rare I check MSN Careers for a daily chuckle, but while browsing through the news slides last Friday, I came across an article on interview mistakes. Since I feel I am so nervous when I interview that I don't put my best foot forward, I decided to check it out.

Some of these were standard: dressed inappropriately, talking negatively about current or former employers, or appearing uninformed about the company or role. The article also talked about how certain body language can send the wrong signals. But by far, the best--or at least the funniest--list was under the subheading, "Mistakes nobody should make." 

Apparently, some people interviewing for a job don't realize potential employers don't want you to act out a Star Trek role, take a phone call for an interview with a competitor, or pop out your dentures when discussing dental benefits.

You can find all the other things you might be tempted to do, but shouldn't at

Monday, January 27, 2014

Mailbox Monday - January 27

Mailbox Monday is a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists.

This isn't book related, but I have to ask: is anyone else out there getting magazines they didn't order? My daughter has had magazine fundraisers at school the last two years, so I ordered a couple of magazines. Suddenly, I'm getting regular issues of magazines I've never ordered, and they are increasing in number. First it was Shape. Next came ESPN The Magazine, which I have no use for. I have even less of a use for Maxim. Even my hubby isn't interested in them. What a waste of time and materials.

Okay, I'm officially off my soapbox now. Here's what arrived this week in the way of books. This first one is another used title I bought for research.

Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the Bancroft Prize, the Parkman Prize, the Avery O. Craven Prize, and the Trilling Prize, and finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award This "masterful treatment of one of the most complex periods of American history" (The New Republic) made history when it was originally published in 1988. It redefined how Reconstruction was viewed by historians and people everywhere in its chronicling of the way in which Americans -- black and white -- responded to the unprecedented changes unleashed by the war and the end of slavery. This "smart book of enormous strengths" (Boston Globe) has since gone on to become the classic work on the wrenching post -- Civil War period -- an era whose legacy still reverberates in the United States today.

The following books came unsolicited:

Everyone who lives around Duckling’s pool is in a tizzy: Beaver hasn’t put on his hat, and now the sun’s burning his head; Squirrel has lost her nuts, and now she’s hungry; and Bear has knocked over his jar of water, and now he’s thirsty. So it’s just as well that Duckling’s around, ready to help out the rest of the animals with his gifts!

It’s a Gift! is a tender tale about the solidarity and generosity that’s so necessary in modern life. This moving story will encourage the youngest members of the family to share without expecting anything in return.

The boy with the feather headdress told stories without saying a word. The boy whose legs formed the shape of a heart communicated with that special language that comes from within. With his hands, his face, his smile and his eyes, he could communicate everything his listeners needed to hear. Walking Eagle's tales awoke deep emotions, conveyed a sense of solidarity, and created bonds between hands and hearts of different tribes that lasted forever.

Walking Eagle: The Little Comanche Boy is a magical tale about nature and harmony between the different peoples of the world, reminding us of the power of stories to bring out our very best from within the deepest part of the human soul.

Andrea’s mom doesn’t understand how an old box full of holes can be of any use, but her daughter is just over the moon about her latest acquisition—and rightly so! When she takes off the lid, the little girl pulls out holes in all shapes and sizes that lead her to discover remarkable characters who fill her room with amazing stories.

The Box of Holes is a bewitching tale that shows us how our imaginations can fill in many gaps in our lives, bringing smiles to our faces that we should never, ever give up as lost.

The Sparkling Elves loved the Things in the Air, those things that nobody can see, but which are there all the same. With their brightly colored clothes and their bright, gleaming smiles, they’d spend the whole day fluttering around, looking for flying surprises. And when they found them, the elves held them tightly until the Things tickled them inside. But one day, the Snouty Witches appeared, gray and gloomy, to take the Things away!

The Things in the Air is a tale that will fill your air with surprises and fill your child’s face with a huge smile that no one will be able to wipe off — not even the Snouty Witches!

Kindle freebies this week are:

Could They Fulfill Their Dreams in this Untamed Land?

Driven by desperation, Grace Hawkins must forsake the affluent comfort of her upbringing to save herself from an arranged marriage. Disillusioned by her father's insistence, she forges a daring plan to escape the sinister hand of her intended.

Peter Colton sees the Alaskan gold rush as an opportunity to establish his family's fledgling shipping business. An unexpected partnership enables him to pursue those dreams and opens the door to an aquaintance with Grace, who has purchased passage north.

Drawn together by need and circumstance, Grace and Peter form a faltering friendship. But when her deserted fiance continues to manipulate her loved ones, can she find peace in the wake of his wrath?

Blogger's note: I've read the first chapter of Peterson's novel and it intrigued me. 

The Kingdom of Soron bustled with activity as preparations for the Fall Festival began. Lively merchants, hardworking farmers, and musicians eagerly awaited this event of harvest and joy. This year’s festival was even more important, as they celebrated Princess Madeline’s betrothal to her knight champion, Daniel
Celebration quickly turns to disaster as Prince Paulsen returns with curious demands, either Princess Madeline will be his, or no ones. Rejection turns to obsession and battle is declared.

In a tense struggle to decide her future, Princess Madeline must choose where to put her trust… in the king’s tried and true plan, the wizard’s cryptic messages and maps, or her own sense of bravery. Follow Princess Madeline on this adventure as she battles evil in an attempt to create a future of love and magic.

Blogger's note: I already have the other two books in this series. Now, I just need to make time to read them.

What is something that arrived in your mailbox this week?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Dick Wolf Book Giveaway at Freda's Voice

To celebrate the release of Dick Wolf's new Jeremy Fisk novel, The Execution, the publisher and Freda's Voice is running a giveaway where multiple prizes are available.

One winner will pick up hardcover copies of both books in Wolf's Jeremy Fisk series, The Intercept and The Execution. Three other lucky winners will receive a paperback copy of The Intercept. For full details of and rules for this giveaway visit

Lending a Paw by Laurie Cass Giveaway at Socrates' Book Reviews...

Yvonne over at Socrates' Book Reviews... is running a giveaway for a copy of Lending a Paw by Laurie Cass. After reading her review and a few sentences from the book for The Friday 56, I knew I wanted a copy.

With the help of her rescue cat, Eddie, librarian Minnie Hamilton is driving a bookmobile based in the resort town of Chilson, Michigan. But she’d better keep both hands on the wheel, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride…

Eddie followed Minnie home one day, and now she can’t seem to shake the furry little shadow. But in spite of her efforts to contain her new pal, the tabby sneaks out and trails her all the way to the bookmobile on its maiden voyage. Before she knows it, her slinky stowaway becomes her cat co-pilot!

Minnie and Eddie’s first day visiting readers around the county seems to pass without trouble—until Eddie darts outside at the last stop and leads her to the body of a local man who’s reached his final chapter.

Initially, Minnie is ready to let the police handle this case, but Eddie seems to smell a rat. Together, they’ll work to find the killer—because a good librarian always knows when justice is overdue.

Visit to see how you can enter for your chance to win.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Friday 56 - Week 162

Welcome to Week 162!

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post to the Linky at Freda's Voice. Add the post url, not your blog url. It's that simple.

I didn't expect a bunch of dwarfs to clap at me with their cymbals, and white horses to dance in the snow with silver ribbons on their legs. Still, I did expect some kind of a homecoming.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

This Day in History - Wham-O Toy Company Introduces the Frisbee

Ever wonder where the Frisbee came from? No, me neither, but it's interesting to note that the story began in Bridgeport, Connecticut, which isn't too far from here.

In 1871, William Frisbee opened the Frisbie Pie Company in Bridgeport. "Students from nearby universities would throw the empty pie tins to each other, yelling 'Frisbie!' as they let go. In 1948, Walter Frederick Morrison and his partner Warren Franscioni invented a plastic version of the disc called the "Flying Saucer" that could fly further and more accurately than the tin pie plates. After splitting with Franscioni, Morrison made an improved model in 1955 and sold it to the new toy company Wham-O as the "Pluto Platter"--an attempt to cash in on the public craze over space and Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs)."

So how did it go from being called a "Pluto Platter" to a Frisbee? Seems that the Wham-O company changed its name to Frisbee by misspelling the name of the pie company. When the design for the modern Frisbee was patented in 1967, a band of raised rings had been added to stabilize flight. Did you know they are officially called the "Rings?" I didn't.

The official Frisbee is owned by Mattel Toy Manufacturers, who bought the toy from Wham-O in 1994.

For more about the Frisbee and to learn a bit about Ultimate Frisbee, visit

Attention Bloggers: Upcoming Review Blitz for author Hank Quense

This following is a message from a former client of mine, Hank Quense. He has published a series of Self-publishing Guides that he is promoting this March. Read his message to find out how you can be entered to win one of the American Express Gift Cards that he is giving away.

I’ve written a series of four books to demystify the self-publishing and book marketing processes. I’ve spent a year on these Self-publishing Guides and now it’s time to get some book reviews for all four books. I have a plan to encourage folks to write and post positive reviews for my books. I’m calling it a Review Blitz and it will involve giveaways. I’ll be giving away American Express Gift Cards to be awarded via a random drawing.

Here’s the deal.

Step 1) Select one of these books to read and review:
Self-publishing a Book
Marketing Plans for Self-publishing Authors
Manage Your Self-publishing Project
Business Basics for Authors

You can find out more about these books on my Amazon page or on my Strange Worlds Online website. You can also download a brochure.

Step 2) Send me an email at telling me which book you chose and I’ll send a 100% discount coupon to download the book from Smashwords in the format you wish. (Note: this is a different email address than my usual email address)

Step 3) post your review during the week of 3/1 thru 3/7/14

Step 4) For extra credit (and rewards), write a blog and post it during the week of 3/1 thru 3/7/14.

Step 5) Send me an email at when the review is posted. If you wrote a blog post, send me a link to the site in addition to the review posting.

Here’s how the drawing will work.

  • If you write a review and post it on Amazon, you’ll get entered into a contest for a $50 gift card.
  • If you post the review on Amazon AND Goodreads, you’ll have two entires in the $50 gift card drawing.
  • If you post a review on Amazon AND write a blog post about the book, you’ll get an entry into a drawing for a $100 gift card.
  • If you post a review on Amazon AND Goodreads AND write a blog post, you’ll get two entires in the $100 drawing.

CAUTION: posting stuff outside the week of 3/1 thru 3/7/14 will be appreciated but will not qualify you for the drawings.


Hank Quense

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

In the News - Home Prices

Good news in the housing market. According to a December 30, 2013 article in The Wall Street Journal, home prices are "back to all-time highs in 10 of the nation's 50 largest metropolitan areas." Though these are the exceptions, it's still good to see some recovery in the market. We've seen a bit of recovery locally, too. I'm in the middle of studying for my real estate license, so I've been paying more attention to the market as whole.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Guest Blogger & Giveaway: Phillip L. Davidson, Author of Dreamer

Is the Dreamer good or evil? As war looms between Britain and Argentina over the barren Falkland Islands, Major David Elliott is having nightmares. Long ago, in a dark jungle near Cambodia, he failed to do his duty. That duty was to execute a member of his team. David’s weakness eventually led to his team’s capture. Tortured by the Viet Cong, they revealed the dark secrets of the CIA’s Phoenix program. Forced to leave the service in disgrace, his men now live in the ‘darkness’. What do the dreams mean for them? David’s wife, Sonia, sees them as harbingers of evil things to come. A revolutionary in Argentina before the war, she escaped to America and became a citizen.

Now, Captain Alvarez, head of the Argentine Secret Police, wants her back. He devises a plan that lures her into returning to Argentina where she is imprisoned on Los Estados Island. Meanwhile, a mystical creature has summoned David and his former team to gather once more to honor the ‘covenant,’ a pact they made with each other when they believed their lives were coming to an end. Together, with an errant priest, Father Perez, they reluctantly agree to assault Los Estados and free Sonia. As they travel across Mexico, Central and South America, they encounter the CIA, Contras in Nicaragua, the M-19 narco-terrorist group and the United States Navy; while all along being shadowed by the mystical entity. Is the entity God or Satan? Will submitting to the will of the entity allow David and his men to stand in the light of men once again? Is the Dreamer good or evil? You decide.

Dreamer is a tale of redemption, honor, courage, belief in God and betrayal! If you enjoy military fiction, this book is for you.

From Darkness to Light - A Solider’s Story
by Phillip L. Davidson

When I landed in Saigon in 1972,  I thought knew about the dangers that were ahead. After all, I knew it was a desperate place. Fighting and dying had been going on long before I arrived there. As an Infantry officer, a Captain, I had been well trained. I could set ambushes, call in air strikes and shoot my way out of a gun-fight with the best of them. I had also hardened myself against my subordinates, and intellectualized that taking casualties was for the most part unavoidable. I also accepted that I might be killed or wounded, though I had made my mind up that I would never be captured. That was what my hand gun was for. But what I had not foreseen nor planned for was the ‘darkness.’

I had just snuck into my hideout from a night ambush mission when I received a secure radio call from my Six from his lair near the Mekong to be ready to be extracted in two hours. Two hours. As the chopper lifted off leaving my little team waving to me I expected to be back after receiving another one of ‘those’ missions. Instead I was put on a plane and sent home. Arriving in America a couple of days later, I was a man from space. Seventy-two hours earlier I had been in a fire fight. Now, I was picking ghostly insects from my meal at home. Two weeks later I was a ski instructor for the Northern Warfare School in Alaska.

It was there during those cold clear nights that I began experiencing the ‘dreams.’ They came at night, like an ambush team, while I was weak and vulnerable, while my ego was resting. Images of the jungle, the people I knew, the things I had done. And after awhile, I began to have waking dreams. Yes, the ‘Thousand Yard Stare.’ While you were driving, while you were talking, while you were eating, while... I fought the dreams with things I don’t want to write about. I left the Army. But the dreams never left.

They accompanied me while I was driving in my patrol car after I had become a police officer. They took the place of script as I studied my law books. When I would walk down the street a car backfiring or some loud noise would invoke an embarrassing response from me wherever I was and with whomever I was with. I trusted no one, and everyone and everything was out to get me. I even joined the National Guard to be able to act out my subconscious desires. I was at a point that I was at the end of myself. I couldn’t form personal relationships and felt alienated from everyone and the society I was in. The darkness had taken me. I was alone. And suicidal. I had no family left to fall back on and the institutions I had made myself a part of were not set up for understanding the human condition of their employees.

As a small boy I had been a member of a church, a small group that meet in the basement of a larger house. One of the deacons was leaving; a plain man with a friendly smile and solid voice, he once gave the children, there were three of us, Bibles as parting gifts. That was when I was twelve. I still had the Bible. My grandmother had kept it for me and when I left home after joining the police force she handed it to me. She didn’t say anything but she knew. One night for some reason, to this day I cannot tell you why, I thumbed through it. My eye was caught by the story of David. I read it. And in my mind his story was similar to mine. Over the days I formed a bond with David. If God loved a man like David, a man that he said was of his own heart, then there was a chance for me. After awhile, when the darkness came, David drew his sword of light and cut it away. David had put himself to the task of being God’s servant. He didn’t run from evil, he faced it. I decided to find out what the darkness was. I read everything I could about what I was experiencing. And I found out it had a name--delayed stress syndrome.

I took a real hard look at myself in the light of day and I realized that I had been saved from death and disaster so many times by God. If God wanted me to survive, then my life was worth something. The darkness would not win the battle for my soul. Each time I felt myself losing control I remembered that I was not alone. Like David, I could use the armor of God to defeat what threatened me. That is a point of healing for anyone suffering from PTSD. Your life has value to God and he will help you to fight your darkness. God is a warrior and he knows how to win battles. He will help you to cope.

Once I focused my life away from my problems I began to see that many of my fellow police officers were showing symptoms of the darkness. I was now an instructor at the Police Academy and had recently received a Master’s Degree in clinical psychology. I began teaching officers how to cope with the darkness, now labeled, Post-traumatic stress disorder. Thus began my journey of teaching others to defeat this malady. In 1982, I was appointed to President Reagan’s Vietnam Veterans advisory committee, where I centered on PTSD. In the years to come I knew that I wanted to write about PTSD and what it had done to so many soldiers. But I also wanted to write about what had happened to me, not my experiences, but my being saved from the darkness by what I know was God’s grace. Some would call it redemption.

But how would I do this? I wrote Dreamer. Dreamer is novel about redemption. But not redemption in the classical sense that has been written about many times. How would God redeem warriors? Warriors who had been sentenced to live in the darkness for questionable conduct. God would come to them as a warrior. I knew that this concept might be foreign and perhaps offensive to many religious readers. But I felt it was a story that I had to tell.

My central character is a man named David. I patterned him from the Bible’s David. And like King David, Dreamer’s David was a failed human being. David and his team were called upon to carry out Phoenix missions in Vietnam, and all had the left the service in disgrace. Years later, God comes to them and brings them together to accomplish an impossible task that will redeem them and let them stand in the light of men once more.

I used as a background for the novel’s action, the Falklands War. I’m not sure if there has been any fiction written about the Falklands War. Dreamer is gritty. There is rough language, scenes of violence, but also tales of bravery and sacrifice. I wanted to take the Christian and other religious readers to a real world, a world where evil lives, and to show how it can be defeated. Christ never flinched from entering places of evil men and danger. I hoped the Christian reader would find Dreamer a little dangerous but worth saving. Because the main character's dreams were not a product of PTSD, but rather messages from God. Those messages brought him from darkness to light. God’s power will lead you into the light.

View the trailer at

Purchase information:

Phillip L. Davidson is an attorney who lives in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife, Karen. He is a former infantry Captain who commanded a group of Cambodian and Vietnamese Kit Carson Scouts on a night ambush team in the Mekong Delta. Phil’s life in the military has provided him with a wealth of war stories. He has used his creative insight to produce a military action adventure of epic proportions. Dreamer is a must read book. He is currently at work on a second novel.

Visit the author online at

Dreamer Virtual Book Tour Schedule

January 13th
January 14th
Book spotlight at I Hope You Dance
January 15th
January 16th
Interview at Blogcritics
Interview at Christian Today
January 17th
Book excerpt at Broken Teepee
January 20th
Book review at Lynn’s Corner
Guest post and giveaway at The Busy Mom’s Daily
January 21st
First chapter review at The Book Connection
January 22nd
Book spotlight and giveaway at Lori’s Reading Corner
January 23rd
Book review at Mary’s Cup of Tea
January 25th
Book spotlight at The Writer’s Life
Book spotlight at As the Pages Turn
Book spotlight at Between the Covers
Book spotlight at Literarily Speaking
Book spotlight at The Dark Phantom Review

Book trailer featured at If Books Could Talk

Win a digital copy of Dreamer by Phillip L. Davidson. Use the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to enter and win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Mailbox Monday - January 20

Mailbox Monday is a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists.

I'm working on a middle grade historical novel right now, so I purchased the following book for research on Reconstruction. It's a time period I like reading about, so I felt having this material on hand would be helpful for other projects. Since I bought it used, it didn't cost much.

The Eighth Edition has been thoroughly revised to include expanded material on Africa, the history of African Americans in the Caribbean and Latin America, the current situation of African Americans in the United States, popular culture, and much more. It has also been redesigned with new charts, maps, photographs, paintings, illustrations, and color inserts. Written by distinguished and award-winning authors, retaining the same features that have made it the most popular text on African American History ever, and with fresh and appealing new features, From Slavery to Freedom remains the leading text on the market.

Kindle freebies this week:

When the first book in The Ending Series came out, the authors paid me to promote the book via a virtual book tour. I saw that this 51-page prequel was free last week, so I picked up a copy. As I am typing this, the prequel is still listed as free, but I'm not sure how long that will last.

The first novella in the prequel serial to The Ending Series.

A virus changed everything. This is how it began.

High school. Dealing drugs. A secret girlfriend. Carlos thought his life was hard enough...but then the virus spread.

I believe this is the fourth book in the Sam Slater Mysteries Series. As I am typing this, it is still listed as free for Kindle. Not sure how long it will stay that way.

As 1958 nears an end San Francisco is being terrorized by a man who calls himself the “Fog City Strangler,” who preys on pretty young blonde women. The strangler announces each murder by sending a note and piece of the victim’s clothing to the local newspapers.

Angst mounts as the strangler continues to claim more victims. Private eye Sam Slater is worried that the Fog City Strangler may be eyeing his beautiful blonde wife, TWA stewardess Amelia Ryan. His anxiety is further fueled when TWA launches an advertising campaign with Amelia’s picture on a series of billboards plastered all over the city. Sam fears the billboards may attract too much attention--the wrong kind of attention.

Meanwhile, Sam and Amelia are hired to try to find the missing daughter of a wealthy dowager who fears she has lost her only child. The missing woman went for a walk with her dog on Stinson Beach, near San Francisco, and seemingly vanished into thin air. The woman’s husband arrived at their beach house and found the dog running loose but there was no trace of his wife. The police are stumped in their investigation.

As Sam and Amelia look into the disappearance of the woman on the beach they discover that nothing is as it seems at first glance. On a stormy night a shadowy figure sets fire to the beach house where the couple is staying--hoping to stop their investigation.

What books were you excited to see in your mailbox?

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Friday 56 - Week 161

Welcome to Week 161!

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post to the Linky at Freda's Voice. Add the post url, not your blog url. It's that simple.

Then, the oldest King boys made their way into the room, each carrying two pizzas...They put the pizzas on the table, after they moved some of the confetti out of the way. They gave each other a look that seemed to sarcastically say, "Girls are ridiculous." Maisy scowled at the two of them, though they didn't seem to notice.

Guest Blogger: Freddie Owens, Author of Then Like the Blind Man: Orbie's Story

A storm is brewing in the all-but-forgotten backcountry of Kentucky. And, for young Orbie Ray, the swirling heavens may just have the power to tear open his family’s darkest secrets. Then Like The Blind Man: Orbie’s Story is the enthralling debut novel by Freddie Owens, which tells the story of a spirited wunderkind in the segregated South of the 1950s and the forces he must overcome to restore order in his world. Rich in authentic vernacular and evocative of a time and place long past, this absorbing work of magical realism offered up with a Southern twist will engage readers who relish the Southern literary canon, or any tale well told.

Nine-year-old Orbie already has his cross to bear. After the sudden death of his father, his mother Ruby has off and married his father’s coworker and friend Victor, a slick-talking man with a snake tattoo. Since the marriage, Orbie, his sister Missy, and his mother haven’t had a peaceful moment with the heavy-drinking, fitful new man of the house. Orbie hates his stepfather more than he can stand; this fact lands him at his grandparents’ place in Harlan’s Crossroads, Kentucky, when Victor decides to move the family to Florida without including him. In his new surroundings, Orbie finds little to distract him from Granpaw’s ornery ways and constant teasing jokes about snakes.

As Orbie grudgingly adjusts to life with his doting Granny and carping Granpaw, who are a bit too keen on their black neighbors for Orbie’s taste, not to mention their Pentecostal congregation of snake handlers, he finds his world views changing, particularly when it comes to matters of race, religion, and the true cause of his father’s death. He befriends a boy named Willis, who shares his love of art, but not his skin color. And, when Orbie crosses paths with the black Choctaw preacher, Moses Mashbone, he learns of a power that could expose and defeat his enemies, but can’t be used for revenge. When a storm of unusual magnitude descends, he happens upon the solution to a paradox that is both magical and ordinary. The question is, will it be enough?

Equal parts Hamlet and Huckleberry Finn, it’s a tale that’s both rich in meaning, timely in its social relevance, and rollicking with boyhood adventure. The novel mines crucial contemporary issues, as well as the universality of the human experience while also casting a beguiling light on boyhood dreams and fears. It’s a well-spun, nuanced work of fiction that is certain to resonate with lovers of literary fiction, particularly in the grand Southern tradition of storytelling.

How A Hero Makes a Villain and A Villain, A Hero
(Writing From The Child's Point Of View)
by Freddie Owens

A funny thing happened on the way to the completion of my first novel, Then Like The Blind Man: Orbie's Story. On a daily basis I found myself entering or trying to enter the skin of a nine-year-old boy, trying to see the world of the novel entirely from his point of view. I suppose I should thank the 'Novel Muse' for giving me such an opportunity.

In the midst of writing the novel I became aware of how dependent the world is on one's point of view and how one's point of view is in turn dependent on the world. This to me was fascinating. I wrote the story (as suggested above) in first person and from the protagonist, Orbie Ray's point of view. In it Orbie comes to suspect Victor Denalsky, the novel's villain, of having murdered his father. The reader sees Victor but only through Orbie's eyes. Everything about Victor therefore is a function of how Orbie sees him, and Orbie's description of Victor is in turn heavily influenced by Victor's behavior. Victor tries to manipulate Orbie's point of view, cajoles and challenges it, at times violently, but in the end Orbie's view prevails, though profoundly transformed. This, of course, is as it should be since all of Victor's characteristics, including his motivations, are rendered either in Orbie's voice or by innuendo.

Now, Victor Denalsky is not your typical villain. He is extremely complex, confusedly so, yet he seems somewhat cardboard-like in the beginning, almost stereotypical (intentionally so). I think this is because Orbie's viewpoint is still rudimentary; he sees things in black and white nine-year-old terms, a parallel I suppose to the racist attitudes he displays early on. Victor is seen by Orbie to have some good qualities, he's a war hero, he's been in battles, he's very good looking and has what seems to be a very friendly relationship with Orbie's father, Jessie, and his mother, Ruby. An ominous quality enters all this however after Orbie's father is killed in an accident at the steel mill and Victor moves in on his family and vulnerable mother, bringing with him the smell of toilet shit and beer and dead cigars.

Victor becomes the bad guy; the hated stepfather in Orbie's eyes and everything enters hell from there on in until Orbie's sensibilities are awakened in Kentucky. He has certain experiences there with his maverick grandparents, with the black community of Pentecostal snake handlers and with the Choctaw shaman, Moses Mashbone. He finds he can’t maintain his prejudices in an environment of humor and vibrant fellow feeling. Even his tightly nursed hatred of Victor begins to unravel. As his world (in spite of everything) becomes sweeter, happier, it becomes also more and more perplexing, posing questions worthy perhaps only of the nine-year-old wunderkind, paradoxical questions like, "If you wanted to destroy something, why would you want to save it too?" As Victor becomes increasingly monstrous, increasingly alcoholic, increasingly violent, we see also that he becomes oddly repentant, has himself been spiritually wounded, becoming worthy of a deep though uninvited sympathy. This all takes place in Orbie's point of view, of course, which in turn is subject to the influence of the world of Kentucky and Harlan's Crossroads, which again is subject to Orbie's point of view. Like I said, fascinating.

Purchase your copy at AMAZON
Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE.

A poet and fiction writer, my work has been published in Poet Lore, Crystal Clear and Cloudy, and Flying Colors Anthology. I am a past attendee of Pikes Peak Writer’s Conferences and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, and a member of Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop in Denver, Colorado. In addition, I am/was a licensed professional counselor and psychotherapist, who for many years counseled perpetrators of domestic violence and sex offenders, and provided psychotherapy for individuals, groups and families. I hold a master’s degree in contemplative psychotherapy from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado.

I was born in Kentucky but soon after my parents moved to Detroit. Detroit was where I grew up. As a kid I visited relatives in Kentucky, once for a six-week period, which included a stay with my grandparents. In the novel’s acknowledgements I did assert the usual disclaimers having to do with the fact that Then Like The Blind Man was and is a work of fiction, i.e., a made up story whose characters and situations are fictional in nature (and used fictionally) no matter how reminiscent of characters and situations in real life. That’s a matter for legal departments, however, and has little to do with subterranean processes giving kaleidoscopic-like rise to hints and semblances from memory’s storehouse, some of which I selected and disguised for fiction. That is to say, yes, certain aspects of my history did manifest knowingly at times, at times spontaneously and distantly, as ghostly north-south structures, as composite personae, as moles and stains and tears and glistening rain and dark bottles of beer, rooms of cigarette smoke, hay lofts and pigs. Here’s a quote from the acknowledgements that may serve to illustrate this point.

“Two memories served as starting points for a short story I wrote that eventually became this novel. One was of my Kentucky grandmother as she emerged from a shed with a white chicken held upside down in one of her strong bony hands. I, a boy of nine and a “city slicker” from Detroit, looked on in wonderment and horror as she summarily wrung the poor creature’s neck. It ran about the yard frantically, yes incredibly, as if trying to locate something it had misplaced as if the known world could be set right again, recreated, if only that one thing was found. And then of course it died. The second memory was of lantern light reflected off stones that lay on either side of a path to a storm cellar me and my grandparents were headed for one stormy night beneath a tornado’s approaching din. There was wonderment there too, along with a vast and looming sense of impending doom.”

I read the usual assigned stuff growing up, short stories by Poe, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The Scarlet Letter, The Cherry Orchard, Hedda Gabler, a little of Hemingway, etc. I also read a lot of Super Hero comic books (also Archie and Dennis the Menace) and Mad Magazine was a favorite too. I was also in love with my beautiful third grade teacher and to impress her pretended to read Gulliver’s Travels for which I received many delicious hugs.

It wasn’t until much later that I read Huckleberry Finn. I did read To Kill A Mockingbird too. I read Bastard Out of Carolina and The Secret Life of Bees. I saw the stage play of Hamlet and read The Story of Edgar Sawtelle too. However, thematic similarities to these works occurred to me only after I was already well into the writing of Then Like The Blind Man. Cormac McCarthy, Pete Dexter, Carson McCullers, Raymond Carver, Flannery O’Conner and Joyce Carol Oates, to name but a few, are among my literary heroes and heroines. Tone and style of these writers have influenced me in ways I’d be hard pressed to name, though I think the discerning reader might feel such influences as I make one word follow another and attempt to “stab the heart with...force” (a la Isaac Babel) by placing my periods (hopefully, sometimes desperately) ‘... just at the right place’.

Visit the author's website at

Thursday, January 16, 2014

This Day in History - Death of Carole Lombard

On January 16, 1942, actress Carole Lombard (Made for Each Other, To Be or Not to Be) is killed in an airplane crash. Married to Clark Gable, she was 33 at the time of her death.

"In January 1942, shortly after America’s entrance into World War II, Howard Dietz, the publicity director of the MGM film studio, recruited Lombard for a tour to sell war bonds in her home state of Indiana. Gable, who had been asked to serve as the head of the actors’ branch of the wartime Hollywood Victory Committee, stayed in Los Angeles, where he was set to begin filming Somewhere I’ll Find You with Lana Turner. Dietz advised Lombard to avoid airplane travel, because he feared for its reliability and safety, and she did most of the trip by train, stopping at various locations on the way to Indianapolis and raising some $2 million for the war effort.

On the way home, however, Lombard didn’t want to wait for the train, and instead boarded the TWA DC-3 in Las Vegas with her mother, Elizabeth Peters, and a group that included the MGM publicity agent Otto Winkler and 15 young Army pilots. Shortly after takeoff, the plane veered off course. Warning beacons that might have helped guide the pilot had been blacked out because of fears about Japanese bombers, and the plane smashed into a cliff near the top of Potosi Mountain. Search parties were able to retrieve Lombard’s body, and she was buried next to her mother at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California, under a marker that read “Carole Lombard Gable.”

You can

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Diary of a Busy Mom: Life Lesson Alert

Today brought about one of those unexpected life lessons. The Lil' Diva--my strong-willed child, the one I complain about the most, the one I swear has none of my genes at all--received an award at school. Each month the school administration and teachers focus on teaching a different character value. Morning Meetings (see Responsive Classroom) and assemblies focus on topics surrounding this character value. The month of December was "Caring."

For December, the Lil' Diva was nominated by her teachers to receive an award for exemplifying "Caring." Her father and I attended the ceremony this morning, where we had a chance to hear from her Star Time (homeroom) teacher why she was selected for this award.

This was an eye-opening experience for me.

Her teacher described a young woman who is not always the person I see. He called her dedicated to and focused on her school work. He said she was respectful at all times and listens well. And the main reason she received this award is how much she thinks of others. Her teacher cited how every day she wishes all of her teachers a good day or a good weekend, and it brightens their days.

Those aren't behaviors I usually see displayed here, but that's really not the point. No parent can complain when an outsider praises her child. Obviously they see a side to the Lil' Diva that is different from the one I see. And it got me to thinking about how important it could be if I looked at her through the lens her teachers do. What if I saw her as the dedicated, focused, respectful, caring young woman that is part of their classroom five days a week?

My mother-in-law has often says that if I want change, I have to be the one to initiate it. She's right. Perhaps it's my opinion that needs to change in order to encourage my daughter to let those wonderful traits shine through here like they do at school.

I've been incorporating daily Bible reading and prayer in my life since the new year began. Looks like I need to focus on changing my heart and mind toward my daughter during this time.

In the News - Christie Bridge Scandal and Longer School Days

Unless you're living under a bridge, you've probably heard about Chris Christie and the George Washington Bridge scandal. Christie, the current governor of New Jersey and a GOP front-runner for the White House in 2016, has apologized for the closure of some lanes on the GWB last September after the release of internal emails and text messages implicated that the governor's aides engineered the plan possibly to punish a Democratic mayor who do not endorse Christie's reelection nomination. Christie not only apologized and accepted responsibility for the mischievous deeds of his underlings, he dismissed two top advisers. Christie also plans to address this most recent scandal during his State of the State address today.

In that same address, Christie plans to propose longer school days and lengthening the school calendar as a way to improve student outcomes and boost competitiveness. Honestly, I don't think that's the answer.

Until this year, I spent a fair amount of time in our schools (I still go in when I can) and I get to hear the regular goings on of school days from my children. I'm thinking shortening the school week would help them much more. I'm not a fan of Responsive Classroom and I'm not thrilled with the idea of Common Core Standards either. And if our financial situation were different, the husband I agree we would pull them out of public schools and place them in private schools immediately.

I don't believe the blame--if there is a need to assign blame--falls squarely on any group's shoulders. While too much emphasis is placed on morning meetings and character values, not enough emphasis is placed on academic excellence. One of my children has been bored with school since she started and the only enrichment they could offer her was more time in the Art classroom. The other, struggles with a slow processing speed, but was taken off her Individualized Education Plan because standardized testing showed her disability disappeared after three years--I didn't even know that was possible. And at the middle school level, one daughter complains that the core subjects are taught amongst such chaos and disruption that she can barely focus on her work; this is backed up by the fact that her homework grades remain excellent, but her classwork and test grades are much lower.

The above picture only addresses part of the issue. Teaching has morphed into something much more than it was when I was in school. Teachers are expected to be negotiators, nurses,and psychologists while maintaining order in a classroom of unruly students who lack self-control and respect for authority. On another side, we have parents who hold the teachers more accountable for their children's performance than the children themselves. And another piece of the pie is reserved for all those do-gooders who think more money, smaller class sizes, and teaching kids to respect and compliment each other will fix everything.

If our school district went to longer school days or lengthened the school calendar, I feel our family would have to bite the monetary bullet and send the girls to private school regardless of the other cutbacks that would become necessary. More public school time is not the answer.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Mailbox Monday - January 13

Mailbox Monday is a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists.

My mailman was kind to me last week and only sent catalogs. He knows I've got a lot of catching up to do. My Kindle Inbox, however, added a few new titles.

Eleanor Parkhurst is determined to get in the way of Nathaniel Naverly seducing her sweet cousin Rose. Nate has a history of treating girls badly and Ellie suspects his intentions are far from honorable. Getting Nate to switch his attention to her seemed like a good plan, but Ellie didn’t foresee that she might have to protect her own heart from his schemes as well. The game is proving a challenge. Midnight meetings, fighting or kissing, it’s all part of the fun of flirting. Set in an English boarding school, Ellie discovers that boys are more complicated than classes, and you have to play the game well or you might just get played!

Suitable Age Range: 12 - 18 yrs

After spending hundreds of years as a familiar to an abusive witch, Surla runs away to find freedom. But there's one catch! The Black Cats' Curse states she will have to switch bodies with the first lonesome soul to cross her path.

Painfully shy Cathy Phillips can't muster the courage to ask hot water polo player, Craig Nelson, on a date. Neither can she stand up to the three biggest snobs at Washington High. What's a girl to do? Could switching lives with a sassy, magical cat be the answer to her wishes?

The "curse" of being "BeSwitched" may just be the most purr-fect secret these new best friends could ever have!

Living on her own for her first time, Bible school student Jane cleans houses to make ends meet. But being independent brings big trials, like falling for a handsome professor, dealing with an obnoxious roommate, and then there's the dead bodies...

Who knew being housekeeper to wealthy owners of a Roly Burger franchise would mean sweeping up clues to their death, while ministering to the needs of their heirs?

This is one big mess that Jane is intent on cleaning up before things get even worse.

"I know it's a Bigfoot," Belle said. "It even smelled different. I hightailed it for Sam's when I saw shadows in the brush."

The 1918 holiday season brings mystery and adventure for orphaned eleven-year-old Belle and her Indian friend, Summer. Belle has adapted to her new home at Uncle Arden's fish camp at Lake Okeechobee, Florida. Known as the last wilderness territory in the United States, this water-filled landscape is populated with snakes, alligators, wild hogs, and now...a hairy outsider. At the Bone Field, she finds clues of a Bigfoot, but her uncle dismisses the signs. Belle and Summer set out to befriend the mysterious stranger with food gifts, but he has reason to stay hidden. Is he a real Bigfoot? How does Belle solve the mystery?


BAH, HUMBUG! (A Romantic Comedy Christmas Novella)

Lexi Anderson is an up-and-coming, Martha Stewart-type TV hostess whose two kids love the Jared Strong adventure novels, which happen to be written by their new neighbor, Kyle Miller.

For the first time in his writing career, Kyle has writer’s block--until he sees the snowman on his lawn and realizes it’s the perfect solution to his plot problem. He digs in and discovers two things: one, his villain’s weapon will fit inside a snowman's body, and two, this particular snowman was supposed to be the backdrop for Lexi’s next show.

From this improbable beginning comes friendship, but can there be a happy ending for a woman who is afraid to get close again and a man who has shadows from his childhood?

Families join together and hearts are healed as this couple goes walking in a winter wonderland.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Paws for Murder by Annie Knox Giveaway at Rose and Beps Blog

I've seen this book talked about in a few places and would love to read it. Rose & Beps Blog is running a giveaway for a paperback copy for residents of the U.S. only. Visit the Rose & Beps Blog at for details on how you can enter for a chance to win.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Friday 56 - Week 160

Welcome to Week 160!

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post to the Linky at Freda's Voice. Add the post url, not your blog url. It's that simple.

Next to winning the Civil War and abolishing slavery, building the first transcontinental railroad was the greatest achievement of the American people in the nineteenth century.