The Santa Claus Man by Alex Palmer – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Alex will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

palmer3.inddBefore the charismatic John Duval Gluck, Jr. came along, letters from New York City children to Santa Claus were destroyed, unopened, by the U.S. Post Office. Gluck saw an opportunity, and created the Santa Claus Association. The effort delighted the public, and for 15 years money and gifts flowed to the only group authorized to answer Santa’s mail. Gluck became a Jazz Age celebrity, rubbing shoulders with the era’s movie stars and politicians, and even planned to erect a vast Santa Claus monument in the center of Manhattan — until Gotham’s crusading charity commissioner discovered some dark secrets in Santa’s workshop.

The rise and fall of the Santa Claus Association is a caper both heartwarming and hardboiled, involving stolen art, phony Boy Scouts, a kidnapping, pursuit by the FBI, a Coney Island bullfight, and above all, the thrills and dangers of a wild imagination. It’s also the larger story of how Christmas became the extravagant holiday we celebrate today, from Santa’s early beginnings in New York to the country’s first citywide Christmas tree and Macy’s first grand holiday parade. The Santa Claus Man is a holiday tale with a dark underbelly, and an essential read for lovers of Christmas stories, true crime, and New York City history.

Enjoy an excerpt:

It’s impossible to say who wrote the first Santa letter, but it was almost certainly from the mythical saint, not to him.

From the earliest conception of Santa Claus in the United States, parents used the voice of St. Nicholas as a means of providing advice and encouraging good behavior in their children. The earliest reference to a Santa letter in America that I could find came from Theodore Ledyard Cuyler, recalling his childhood in 1820s Western New York when he “once received an autograph letter from Santa Claus, full of good counsels.”

Fanny Longfellow (wife of poet Henry Wadsworth) regularly wrote her children Santa letters, commenting on their behavior over the preceding year. “I am sorry I sometimes hear you are not so kind to your little brother as I wish you were,” she wrote to her son Charley on Christmas Eve 1851.

Soon enough, children started writing back, generally placing their letters on the fireplace, where they believed smoke would transport the message to St. Nick.

By the 1870s, scattered reports appeared of the receipt of Santa letters by local post offices. But with no actual fur-coated toymaker to receive his mail, each January, the department destroyed them.

It was a depressing business. But, officials asked, if mailmen began delivering Santa’s letters, to which other fictional characters would mail be shuttled?

In the face of negative publicity, however, New York City’s postmaster finally relented. Every year, for the entire month of December, any approved organization could answer Santa’s mail. No one volunteered. Then, in 1913, just as the Post Office was about to give up, a man named John Duval Gluck stepped forward. He’d be Santa Claus.

He was also a con artist.

About the Author:MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_TheSantaClausManAlex Palmer is the author of The Santa Claus Man: The Rise and Fall of a Jazz Age Con Man and the Invention of Christmas in New York, called “required reading” by the New York Post and “highly readable” by Publishers Weekly.

It tells the history of Christmas in America through the true-crime tale of a Jazz Age hustler who founded an organization to answer children’s Santa letters — and fuel his own dark dreams. Palmer curated an exhibit about this Santa Claus Association for Brooklyn’s City Reliquary Museum, earning attention from the Village Voice, Time Out New York, and inspiring a memorable segment on WNYC.

The son of two teachers, Palmer’s love of learning and sharing surprising stories behind familiar subjects has led him to become a secret-history sleuth. In addition to The Santa Claus Man, he is the author of Weird-o-pedia: The Ultimate Collection of Surprising, Strange, and Incredibly Bizarre Facts About (Supposedly) Ordinary Things, published in 2012 by Skyhorse Publishing. it offers up a wealth of unexpected facts of familiar things. His first book, Literary Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Literature, takes a look at some of the more colorful aspects of great writers and their works, and was published in 2010 by Skyhorse.

He is a full-time freelance journalist whose work has appeared in Slate, Rhapsody, Smithsonian, Vulture, the New York Daily News, Publishers Weekly, and The Rumpus, among others.

See more at and follow him @theAlexPalmer.

Buy the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or IndieBound.

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Who Am I? by Megan Cyrulewski – Q&A and giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Megan will be awarding a $50 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Welcome to Long and Short Reviews, Megan, and thanks for agreeing to answer our questions. What day were you born?

September 7, 1978 at 1:56 AM. For 20 years, my Dad thought I was born in the morning because my mom didn’t call him from the hospital when I was born. He was at home taking care of my brother and my mom didn’t want to bother him. The secret came out on my 20th birthday at Big Boy’s during breakfast.

Do you have a nickname?

Most of my friends call me Meg. Only my Dad is allowed to call me Meggie. He’s been calling me that since I was born.

If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?

Definitely the past! I’m obsessed with Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War Era.

If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would you choose?

Abraham Lincoln, Princess Diana, Kate Middleton, Grace Kelly and Derek Jeter. A very eclectic group!

If you could have any superpower what would you choose?

To fly because Detroit traffic during rush hour is horrible!

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Baskin Robins Peanut Butter and Chocolate

One food you would never eat?

Mushrooms. Yuck.

Pet Peeves?

Traffic, huge egos, being woken up either from a nap or in the morning.

Skittles or M&Ms?

Depends on my mood because I love them both.

Red or white wine?

White Zinfandel

Do you prefer print books or ebooks?

I love the smell of books and I love holding a book. I don’t even have an e-reader device.

What was your first date like?

A middle school dance where we looked like this:

Me_________Date – that much room between us on the dance floor. I remember looking at my friends and we giggled.

Roller Coasters or Water Rides?

It used to be roller coasters but because I’m old, I can barely swing on a swing without feeling motion sickness. I love water rides. My ex and I went to The Atlantis in the Bahamas and all we did was sit by the pools for 4 days. Heaven!

Swimming in the ocean or a pool?

I love the beach but I don’t like salt water. I live in Michigan so we have lakes. I still prefer a pool to both anyway.

Do you drive a manual or automatic vehicle?

I have no idea how to drive a stick shift and it’s too late to learn.

Where can your followers find you?

You can find all my links at my website:

Thank you for the interview!

Thank you so much for taking time to chat with us today, Megan. It’s been a pleasure having you and we wish you much success in the future.

Megan Cyrulewski is an ordinary person who has faced extraordinary challenges and now wants to inspire people and show them that hope gives them the power to survive anything. Who Am I? is about her journey into postpartum depression, anxiety disorder, panic attacks, visits to the psych ward, divorce, domestic violence, law school and her courageous struggle to survive with her sanity intact – and how a beautiful little girl emerged from all this chaos.

Enjoy an excerpt:

On January 18, 2012, we all convened in the courthouse for the Motion for Parenting Time hearing. My dad and I arrived with my attorney, but Tyler loved an audience so he brought his dad, step-mom, and his new on-again off-again girlfriend, Heather. Tyler walked in with his posse in tow, cocky as hell. It took all of two minutes for the judge to knock him off his feet.

The Judge addressed our respective attorneys. “Why are we here?”

“Your honor,” Tyler’s attorney began, “my client has clearly been denied his parenti—”

The Judge didn’t even let him finish. “How?” She turned to my attorney. “Don?”

“Your honor, as you can see in the divorce decree, there was supposed to be a review when the minor child turned twelve-months-old. The Defendant has ignored that review.”

“I—if I may, your honor,” Tyler’s attorney sputtered.

“I see the review in the decree. It’s here in black and white,” she told Tyler’s attorney. “What is the problem? Why didn’t you understand the review? Your client signed the divorce decree.”

Tyler’s attorney tried again. “But your honor—”

The judge cut him off. “There is to be a review conducted by the Friend of the Court referee assigned to the parties. Until then, the Defendant will continue his parenting time schedule as agreed upon in the divorce decree. Dismissed.”

And that was it. After eight police reports and numerous harassing text messages, phone calls, and e-mails, we won. As Don and Tyler’s attorney went to speak with the clerk to file the necessary paperwork, Don told us to wait for him outside the courtroom.

As we exited the courtroom, the hallway was so packed with people that my dad and I were only able to find enough space to lean against the wall. We were talking about the court proceedings when we looked up at saw Tyler and his new girlfriend standing right across from us.

“Why do you lie about everything?” Tyler screamed.

Heather walked up to me and stood about an inch from my face. “As a mother myself, you should be happy that Tyler is the father of your child.”

My jaw dropped. “I’m sorry but I don’t know you.”

She smirked. “Well you’re going to get to know me, bitch.”

Tyler made a big show of pulling her from me like I was going to punch her or something. By this time, everyone in the hallway was watching us. We were pure entertainment.

Heather continued her rant. “Two times in the psych ward, Megan? What a great mother you are.”

“Where is your mom, the real mother of our child?” Tyler screamed. “She’s the one who takes care of Madelyne.”

My dad and I tried to move away from Tyler and Heather but they followed us.

“Awww…” Heather mocked. “Do you have to take a Xanax because of your anxiety?”

“Go take your Xanax and sleeping pills, you drug addict,” Tyler shouted.

Finally, Don emerged from the courtroom and pulled us into a quiet corridor. He explained that I needed to call our referee to set-up a meeting to discuss a visitation schedule. I told Don about the verbal assault by Tyler and Heather. Don said he would call Tyler’s attorney to let him know that Heather would not be allowed in my house.

Upon leaving the courthouse, Heather screamed, “See you on Sunday, Megan.”

I turned toward her and said calmly, “I don’t know you, but you are not welcome in my home.”

That night, Tyler sent me multiple texts attacking my mothering skills, my supposed drug addictions, how he was going to fight for joint custody of Madelyne, how Heather would be accompanying him for his visitations, and a barrage of other insults:

“Get a life already”

“Don’t you have something better to do than wasting your parents’ money?”

“Go take your pills and relax, oh yeah, then your parents would have to watch our daughter. Oh yeah, they already do.”

“Go talk to your friends. Oh yeah, you don’t have any because of how crazy you are.”

“Interesting to know you’ve been to the hospital a couple of times. You really need to get it together.”

“Better go call your lawyer and make up some more stuff about me.”

“Don’t be mad at your sorry life.”

“I am sure living with Mom and Dad the rest of your life will be fun.”

“When you get a job, then you can pay me child support. Fun.”

I finally had to turn my phone off at midnight.

About the Author:

Megan Cyrulewski has been writing short stories ever since she was ten-years-old. Eventually she settled into a career in the non-profit sector and then went back to school to get her law degree. While she was in school, she documented her divorce and child custody battle in her memoir, Who Am I?, which was published in 2014. Megan lives in Michigan with her 3-year-old daughter who loves to dance, run, read, and snuggle time with Mommy. Megan also enjoys her volunteer work with Troy Youth Assistance as the Fundraising Chair on the Board of Directors.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Goodreads

Buy the book at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

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Background of The Ambivalent Memoirist by Sandra Hurtes – Guest Blog and Giveaway

11_21 NBTM The Ambivalent Memoirist Tour Banner copy

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Sandra will be awarding a copy of her book in the winner’s choice of either print (US only) or digital to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Background of The Ambivalent Memoirist

I looked out the window of my studio apartment which faced north on East 42nd Street in Manhattan. I breathed deep. It was June 2004, and I had recently moved to a wondrous building in the center of the world, after a lifetime of living in Brooklyn. I was 53, had walked over the Brooklyn Bridge two thousand times (a modest calculation), but moving, crossing and not looking back, that was momentous, surreal.

Out the window, the Queensboro Bridge loomed; its midnight lights flickered in the early morning dawn. To the left was Second Avenue and close behind, Grand Central Terminal. My mother’s face, so warm and glowing, seemed to peer down at me, nod approval that I went off—finally—in search of a life. A life of my choosing would have freed my mother from a burden —her inability to forgive herself for raising me inside the circle of her pain, a pain which had kept me close, like a shadow.

When I was a young girl, my mother, an Auschwitz survivor, told me the stories of her life. She held me on her lap in our Brooklyn apartment and wove a tapestry of memories. She told me of her impoverished childhood in Czechoslovakia, her enormous grief for her mother who died when my mother was fifteen, and of the traumas of the camps.

I had only von dress. I vore it every day and vashed it at night. My mother vent hungry, so her children could eat. In Auschwitz, the SS trew us in the showers. The vater vas like needles on my head. But I vas strong! They put me to verk; that’s how I survived.

Then my mother put her head in my lap, and I tapped her shoulder. Tiny touches. Rat-a-tat-tat. When she wrapped me close and said, my little Goldilocks’, don’t ever leave me, I vowed that I never would.

For most of my adult life, I had wanted to live in Manhattan. Two years after my mother died of heart disease, I left Brooklyn for the possibilities that littered Manhattan’s streets. I was single, had no children, and was still trying to figure out where my place in life was.

While newcomers to the city escaped for the hipness of Brooklyn—while the borough became the hottest place in the country—I pointed my compass in the opposite direction. But one thing I would never, could never, leave behind was my Brooklyn childhood; it had shaped me into a woman afraid to move freely about the world. My mother’s stories had weighed me down. But they became my means for lifting me up, for I became a storyteller. The place that had given my parents—survivors both—shelter and safety after the war, held a treasure chest of material, each word a priceless gem.

In The Ambivalent Memoirist I circle around and ponder the contents of that chest. Gems, yes, certainly for a writer. But did they all glitter? That depended on which corner of the chest I dug my hand into. My past was a kaleidoscope. There was my mother, fussing over me, her young daughter born from war. There was my father, praying each morning before the windows, his shoulders hunched with fatigue and sorrow.

Through the lenses of teaching, writing, yoga and my family history, I search for clues as to where and how to live my life.

Enjoy an excerpt:


I have no classes today; still, I’m out at 6:00 a.m., emptying my palate of the lingering taste of dreams. Outdoors, half a block from my apartment building, I walk up a long concrete staircase leading to the Tudor City parks. I run into a neighbor who is also an early riser. She tells me she’s moving home to Sri Lanka, where she has a house, large enough to contain ten Tudor City studios. But it is not the comfort of that largesse that lures her; she can’t find work, here, in Manhattan.

She puts her hands out on either side of her body, like scales. “Move to Queens?” she says, lowering her left. “Sri Lanka?” Her right hand rises. “I lived in Jackson Heights for three years,” she says, “and was lonely and depressed. But I can’t afford to live in Manhattan.”

I nod, thinking, I can’t either. But Manhattan is good to single people.

Last night at dinner with my friend Stephanie, I listened with a mixture of envy and pleasure as she described her Sunday mornings. By 6:00 I’m on my deck, with a mug of Earl Grey. I pictured her in her Secaucus condo, surrounded by trees, leaves dotted with morning dew, her palm warm and steamy.

Today I want to live in the country. Inhale the scent of grass and late night rain. I want to walk barefoot in the damp grass. I want to hang my laundry outside on a line to dry, have wooden clothespins in a basket.

Then the city announces itself. Buses, taxis, people on their way to work. I plan my day: shop for cute tops for yoga, hit Starbucks afterwards with a heap of student papers and a café au lait, extra hot and foamy.

I take out the Windex and paper towels, remove the three potted coleus from the sills, clean my windows.

SHcoverV6“. . .[an] honest memoir full of compassion and wit that infuses ordinary events with intimacy and intensity. . .Teaching college English courses and preparing her first essay collection, she must address her own pain. . .as well as her parents’ experiences during the Holocaust. . . Writing as art and psychological salvation is at the heart of this book, taking “readers deep below the surface” of words toward personal vindication.”

~~Publishers Weekly

11_21 Author Pic The Ambivalent MemoiristAbout the Author: 11_21 Author Pic The Ambivalent Memoirist
Sandra Hurtes is the author of The Ambivalent Memoirist and the essay collection On My Way to Someplace Else. She is the daughter of Holocaust survivors and this legacy is examined in her work. She is an adjunct assistant professor in the English Department at John Jay College and teaches creative nonfiction in private workshops. ~

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Lessons I Learned from Allen Iverson by Jesse LeBeau – Guest Blog and Giveaway

VBT Among the Giants Tour Banner copy

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. One randomly drawn commenter will received a signed Deuce Brand watch. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Lessons I learned from Allen Iverson

They were about to call my name. I was backstage, about to be introduced to thousands of fired-up streetball fans in Indonesia. The music was blaring, the MC was yelling into the mic, and everything was pitch black except for the spiraling spot light that was about to shine down on me. You could feel the pulse in the crowd growing with each word the announcer said, and I took one last deep breath to gather myself. That’s when it hit me: I was about to take the court with one of the greatest basketball players of all time – Allen Iverson. I couldn’t believe I was living this moment. Before I could really take that thought in, the speakers rumbled: “Jesse…Spin Cycle….LeBeau!” It was my time to take the court.

On reflecting on this experience, here are a few of the lessons I took away from Allen Iverson (AI).


One story that AI shared with me was his first time playing against Michael Jordan. He himself admits that he is a big Jordan fan, and he said that during warm-ups he kept looking down to the other end of the court because he’d never seen him in person before. But he told us that once the tip-off was thrown up, all his nerves went away, and it was just time to play basketball. I will never forget what he said next: “At the start of the game, everyone know who Michael Jordan was. I was going to make sure they by the end of the game, they never forgot who #3 was.”

I about lost my mind when he said that! I love that mindset. Here he was, going up against the greatest player to ever play the game, and he had the attitude “I respect you, but today is my day to be the greatest.” That is the winner’s approach that is key to success in anything in life. You can’t just hope for it’ you have to claim it as fact. I’ve experienced radical changes in my performance on the court by merely adjusting my confidence level. I can dominate a game one day when I’m thinking that I am the best player on the court and no one can touch me. Then, the next game, I second-guess myself and play hesitantly, even timidly, and suck! I have the exact same amount of talent as I did in the previous game, but my mentality is weaker, and that changed the outcome of my performance. Take on the Michael Jordans in your life fearlessly, and I promise you will see results.


Going along with the last point is knowing how to control your mentality and attitude. One thing that separates a lot of streetball players and NBA players is not their talent level, rather what is going on in their heads! There is a good number of streetball players who are much more talented than NBA players, but because they have quick tempers, refuse to buy into a system, and make bad decisions in their personal lives, they will never play in the NBA.

You’re going to be ups and downs in your career and life, no matter what you choose to do. AI battled all kinds of adversity, from chronic injuries to jealous teammates to disloyal friends, but he chose to persevere through it all. He possesses a true winner’s attitude, and although he is amazingly talented physically, it is his tenacity a competitive fire that separates him as one of the greatest. There are many other players that can dribble just as well as he does, run as fast, and jump as high and even higher. But nobody wanted it more. No one was going to exhaust every ounce of energy in their body and put it on the line like AI. His attitude and mentality made all the difference. The great part about that is we get to choose what our attitude / mentality will be every day. We can’t control what happens to us, but we can control our response. Choose to be great, and choose to have a winner’s attitude like AI!

MEDIA KIT book coverThe sound of the basketball slapping the floor echoed hollowly in the gym, as I began working it playfully with my hands. Planning my next move, I locked eyes with my opponent. I noticed small beads of sweat beginning to form in the furrow between his eyebrows. My heart was pounding, and my nerves tightened in response . . . but slowly a smile formed on my lips. Here I was, 5’8” Jesse LeBeau, going one on one with basketball superstar Kevin Durant . . . and I was making him sweat! As I started to make my move on him, I briefly wondered, “How did a skinny kid from a small town in Alaska ever get the chance to do this?” Here I was, involved in the filming of the 2012 Warner Brother’s basketball movie Thunderstruck, playing against the NBA scoring champion! It shouldn’t have happened. I didn’t fit the profile and anyone would have told you that. But I did make it, despite the odds. And here is my story . . .

Growing up as an undersized white basketball player on a remote island in Alaska, Jesse had nearly every chip stacked against him. Yet despite his size and circumstances, he managed to rise above it all and make it to the big screen in Hollywood. With only the love of the game of basketball and the tenacity to follow a dream driving him, Jesse’s persistence has led him to star in national commercials and movies with some of the most recognizable celebrities and professional athletes in the world. More importantly, he found a way to tweak the system and alter his dream and get paid to do what he loves to . . . every day! Be inspired by his story and learn the keys to successfully creating a life that is uniquely yours.

Enjoy an excerpt:

The majority of you don’t know my name, although you’ve probably seen my face on television. at the age of twenty-four, i began starring in national commercials for Kobe Bryant and other nBa players. i’ve been featured by sports magazines and played in basketball games that were televised to a global audience. i’ve done interviews for radio, television, and websites. i’ve met and spent time with famous, wealthy, and influential people from all over the world, and i have relationships some of the most re- spected and intelligent business men and women in the country.

do i think i’m special because of this? no. i know my efforts have been blessed. i also know that if there is anything special about me, it isn’t necessarily my talent. it would more likely be my dogged tenacity to pursue a dream and my drive to put every ounce of my energy into making that dream happen. i was an underdog my whole life, but i refused to become a victim or a “less- than” in any endeavor i attempted. i always believed in myself, even when the odds were stacked against me. and they usually were.

even with the success i’ve had so far, i still feel like i have room to grow before reaching my fullest potential. But i believe i am on the right track. The fact that all of this happened for me in such a short time is a true testament to the principles i have learned and applied to my life. i want to share my story and these “life lessons” with you . . . and i want this book to inspire you to find your passion and chase your dreams, so you can wake up every day and do whatever it is you love.

About the Author:MEDIA KIT Author PhotoOver the course of the last couple years, Jesse has propelled himself from a small, Alaskan fishing town to the Hollywood big screen, being seen by millions all over the world. By leveraging his love of the game of basketball and making the most of every opportunity, he has successful created a life all his own. At 5’8”, he may not be an NBA player, but by tweaking his dream, he has been able to use his passion (basketball) to star in national commercials and movies, work with pro athletes and celebrities, and even give back on a regular basis as a motivational speaker for youth. His underdog story, outlined in his book, Among the Giants, serves as an inspiration to anyone who has ever been told they can’t make their dream a reality.

Jesse was born and raised on Pennock island, Alaska, where his mother worked as a school teacher and his father was involved in the logging industry. Jesse played basketball growing up, but no one wanted to take him seriously, and coaches told him he was too small and would never make it. Despite his critics, he believed not only in himself but also in the plan God had for him. Jesse has experienced big wins and frustrating losses, but both triumph and defeat helped him grow as a leader and a person, and helped deepen his faith.

Today, he uses his message to motivate and inspire young people around the world as a speaker and author. Combining his love of basketball, speaking, and entertaining, Jesse founded the Fab4 Takeover, which brings celebrities into schools to teach and impact students. He also released an instructional dribbling DVD titled Dribble Like a Star. For a free download from the DVD visit or text the word “DVD” to the number 58885. You can find more information, read news in the press, watch highlight video footage, and follow Jesse on a more personal level at the following websites:

Purchase Among The Giants on Amazon, get a free download from his DVD, or get a free download from his eBook “What Allen Iverson Taught Me About Life”.

The Book Blogger Platform by Barb Drozdowich – Spotlight & Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Barb will be awarding a $20.00 Amazon/B&N gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Book Blogging – One of the Best Hobbies in the World!

Join thousands of book bloggers in expressing their joy of reading!

Are you a book blogger or do you want to be one? Are you having trouble handling the technical details of blogging? The Book Blogger Platform can be a “user manual” for your blog! A book written by a book blogger for book bloggers and that answers all your questions!

The Book Blogger Platform covers topics such as:

1. What a book blogger blog needs to contain
2. A step by step guide to manipulating images and videos
3. A description of all the common features hosted by book bloggers
4. A description of the social media aspect to a book blogger platform
5. Being Social – the social aspect of book blogging

If you are tired of always asking other bloggers questions

Let The Book Blogger Platform guide you painlessly. Over 80 color graphics lead you step by step through some of the more difficult technical issues that bloggers face.

Pick up a copy today and approach blogging with confidence!

Enjoy an excerpt:

Just as all book bloggers are different, their approach to book blogging is also different. Some book bloggers consider themselves primarily book reviewers. Some book bloggers consider themselves primarily promoters of books. Some book bloggers will only post about a book they have read. Some book bloggers will post about any book that belongs to a genre that fits the profile of their blog.

Book bloggers who consider themselves primarily book reviewers make their reviews the main focus of their blog. They often take their self-imposed “job” of reviewing books very seriously. They put hours of work into reading a book and then creating the right combination of words to best describe their thoughts and impressions. It’s a labor of love.

Many book bloggers, such as myself, consider themselves primarily promoters of books. I began my blog posting reviews of books I’d read, and I worked hard to grow my blog’s audience. I am very proud of my blog and the work that goes into it. However, I have a full-time job and a family. I don’t have enough reading hours to review one book a day, so I fill my blog’s days with a mixture of reviews and promotions. I don’t post more than once a day, but I use the platform I have built to promote as many books and authors as I can that fit within my reading taste.

As I mentioned above, some book bloggers will only post about books they have read. They feel that posting about a book is a recommendation of that book and they don’t want to recommend a book they haven’t read.

Have I read all the books that are promoted on my blog? No. I fit into the other camp of book bloggers. I see promoting books, whether through blog tours, reviews, or other promotions, as simply sharing information. I leave it up to my readers to decide whether to read the book or not.

Another area in which people hold strong feelings centers on whether or not to post negative reviews. One camp feels that all book bloggers who review books need to post negative reviews. They feel that having an assortment of positive and negative reviews creates balance. It allows readers to read about what the blogger likes and doesn’t like and why. It is often said that reviewers who only post positive reviews risk having their honesty questioned.

I am of the camp that doesn’t bother to finish a book if I am not enjoying it. I feel no need to talk about a book I didn’t like. I have boxes and boxes of books to be read. My Nook (e-reader) is full of little gems waiting for my attention. Maybe it’s my age, but I don’t soldier on, I move on. I do, however, make it clear in my review policy that I only talk about books that I enjoyed reading.

This topic will come up again later; you do need to give some thought to your philosophy on book blogging. Are you going to only post reviews? Are you only going to promote books you have read? This isn’t necessarily something that will be decided on at the beginning and that you can never change. Many book bloggers change their views as time progresses.

Accompanying your philosophy of blogging is your view of how much of a platform you are going to have. I started my blog to express my thoughts about the books I’d read. It never really occurred to me that other people would read what I had read, let alone comment on it or share it with friends!

There is absolutely nothing wrong with creating a book blog to share your thoughts with friends—old friends as well as new. If, however, you actively seek out blog tour posts and post promotions of author’s books, you should also be actively growing your book blogger platform. If someone is paying to post on your blog via a blog tour, you should be able to share this information with as many people as possible.

Everyone starts out as a baby blogger. Everyone has a different view of what they want their blog to be. There is no right or wrong answer. Every blog should be a reflection of its owner and its owner’s tastes.

I hope to use this book to describe the Book Blogger Platform in its entirety. I hope to give you a lot to think about. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, and my blogs every day. My contact links will be listed at the end of this book. I love answering questions and chatting about books!

About the Author:

Social Media and WordPress Consultant Barb Drozdowich has taught at Universities and Colleges, trained technical personnel in the banking industry and, most recently, used her expertise to help dozens of authors develop the social media platform needed to succeed in today’s fast evolving publishing world. She owns Bakerview Consulting and manages the popular blog, Sugarbeat’s Books.

Bakerview Consulting (Business Site) ~ Author Site ~ Sugarbeat’s Books ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Google+

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When All Balls Drop by Heidi Siefkas – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Heidi will be awarding an autographed copy of When All Balls Drop to five randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour (US ONLY). A Grand Prize of a $50 Amazon/BN GC will be awarded to one randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The true story of a survivor

who through losing everything,

redefined having it all

Heidi Siefkas was a happily married, globetrotting professional who seemingly “had it all”—until a tree limb in New York’s Hudson River Valley struck her down, breaking her neck and leaving her unconscious. Suddenly, life as she knew it stopped. She lost her independence. She lost her career. She watched her marriage disintegrate as she confronted a trail of devastating lies about her husband’s double life.

She had lost all that mattered, but she was a survivor. She fought to restore her health, repair her broken heart, and rebuild herself. Along the way, she gained clarity about her core values, ultimately coming to a deeper understanding of what it means to have it all.

Through down-to-earth, short vignettes, When All Balls Drop shows us how it’s possible to “look up” in spite of pain, deceit, and loss. Heidi’s memoir–rich with hope and humor, inspires anyone who’s had to confront tragedy and reassess their life in the wake of life-altering events.

Enjoy an excerpt:

My First Visitors

While transitioning from morphine to pain pills, I became acquainted with the nurses on the fifth floor. Every four hours one of them would come, which meant more pain pills and a little company to break up my counting the holes in the ceiling tiles. Granted, some nurses were better than others; I noted a dramatic difference between the demeanors of the daytime nurses versus the graveyard shifters. Maybe the daytime shift conversations were all an act—“Honey, darling, sweetie, I know”—because I had visitors, witnesses to their behaviors. However, the night crew came in like ghosts: pop in, give meds, check vitals, and pop out to go back to texting or watching the TV until passing the patient baton to the relieving nurse.

Regardless of shift, not one of them exuded the compassion I expected from a nurse. Between the equipment provider with his in-your-face butt crack and the revolving door of nurses and specialists who failed to respond promptly to my call button due to gossiping or texting, I began to believe the term health care professional was an oxymoron.
About the Author:

Heidi Siefkas is an author and adventurer. Originally from small-town Wisconsin, she lives in Kauai and also calls the Midwest and South Florida home. Heidi is currently crafting a sequel to this memoir, embracing both her wanderlust and love of writing by documenting her many travels. You can connect with Heidi at, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

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Background of my book: Relationship: Notes on Love, Mutual Respect, Boundaries, Marriage, and Divorce by A. William Benitez – Guest Blog and Giveaway

VBT Relationship Tour Banner copy

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding a $50 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Background of my book: Relationship: Notes on Love, Mutual Respect, Boundaries, Marriage, and Divorce

I first got the idea for this book about fifteen years ago when my wife Barbara and I were invited to speak about our relationship at the meditation group of which we were members. We had been in the group for some time and some of the members were interested in how we managed to get on so well. The presentation was well received and the response was the seed for this book.

When I told Barbara my idea and she was surprised and cautioned me by saying that she wouldn’t dare write such a book because it was such a varied topic with so many nuances. Since she is obviously a better writer, that caused me to hesitate for a while but then I jumped in.

Over the past fifteen years I made a few attempts to get this book written but was never satisfied with the results and put it aside each time. Early this year, for some unknown reason, I felt ready to tackle this huge topic and jumped in again. When I finished the first draft Barbara edited it and liked it except for the organization and I spent another month working on that.

During that time it became clear that I had to focus only on the areas of relationship I considered critical to a happy and healthy relationship. That’s when the title came to me because it was notes on those aspects of relationship. At that point I felt good about the book and I sent the final draft to several people whose opinion I value. The response was positive and their comments appear at the front of the book. I don’t see myself as an expert on relationship but I definitely have a lot to share that may be helpful to others.

Relationship: Notes on Love, Mutual Respect, Boundaries, Marriage, and Divorce contains ten chapters including What is Love, What is A Good Relationship, Fostering and Nurturing Relationships, Harming Relationships, Mutual Respect, Boundaries, Marriage, Breakups and Divorce, Helpful Tips, Final Thoughts, plus a Preface and an Introduction.

The first chapter, What is Love, was the most difficult because I felt from the beginning that establishing a definition for love was important to the book and that seemed like an impossible task for a while. I could easily state what love isn’t but not what it is. I finally came up with a definition that I was comfortable to use as part of the book.

This book definitely doesn’t have all the answers for how to have a happy and healthy relationship and I certainly don’t see myself as an expert on the topic but I do have a lot to share that may be helpful to others. I hope readers find it of real value.

MEDIA KIT FrontCoverFullWhen I decided to write this book on relationship, my wife Barbara was surprised and cautioned me by saying that she would not dare write such a book because it was such a varied topic with so many nuances. That scared me because she is certainly more qualified to write about relationship than I am. I hesitated for a while but then I jumped in.

I have written about relationship before but was not satisfied with the results but now, for some unknown reason, I felt ready to tackle this huge topic and feel good about this book. I don’t see myself as an expert on relationship but I definitely have a lot to share that may be helpful to others.

The book contains ten chapters including What is Love, What is A Good Relationship, Fostering and Nurturing Relationships, Harming Relationships, Mutual Respect, Boundaries, Marriage, Breakups and Divorce, Helpful Tips, Final Thoughts, plus a Preface and an Introduction.

About the AuthorI spent most of my adult life self-employed after being born into the construction business. I worked with my father and then spent more than ten years as a general contractor, building homes and commercial buildings in Tampa, Florida.

For more than twelve years, I worked as a government official running housing related programs for the City of Tampa and then operated a publishing and consulting business on housing rehabilitation. During this time, I testified on this subject before the Housing Sub Committee of the U.S. Congress.

For several years, I operated an active woodworking business in Tampa, Florida and then in Austin, Texas. My cabinets, furniture, and carvings can be found in private homes, businesses, churches, and public buildings in both cities.

In 1996, I began working for the Hyatt Regency in Austin, Texas and am now the IT Manager.

In 2007 I established a new writing and publishing business called Positive Imaging, LLC and now write and publish how to books.

My first marriage ended after 17 years and I remained single for 14 years before marrying Barbara. We have been married over twenty-three years and share a happy and healthy relationship. We now live in Austin, Texas.

I learned a great deal from my first marriage and other relationships. However, my years with Barbara have been my most valuable learning and growing experience and definitely the happiest years of my life.

All the information in this book is based on my first-hand experiences, a small amount of research, and discussions with other couples. I sincerely hope that you will find it of real value in your own relationships. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me at:

Buy the book at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or the author’s website.


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Anger: How to Control It So It Won’t Control You by Dr. Tiffany Brown – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Dr. Brown will be awarding an ebook copy of Anger: How to Control It So It Won’t Control You to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Everyone has experienced it at least once in their life. Some have experienced it at least every day.

I have traveled all over the world and have seen it in every place. I have struggled with it as well. It’s a family problem for generations. It can be your greatest motivator or worst enemy.

Anger. Anger is defined by the Webster Dictionary as a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrong; wrath; ire.

I will show you not only how to control your anger from a Christian perspective but also have manage it until it motivates you; not hinders you. Get Ready. Anger is nothing more than manifestation of fear. Once you eliminate fear, the anger will be gone. Become Fearless.

Read an excerpt:

Section 2 – What is Fear and its connection to anger?

Fear is defined as a perceived threat of some type. It can be emotional or physical. When you
feel that you’re in some form of danger. This activates your fight or flight response. Most animals respond to threat by either fighting or fleeing. However, we don’t always have the option to fight what threatens us. Instead, we have anger. Words are the civilized way that we get to fight threat.

Some of my biggest blowups often involved a fear of being alone. When I have depended on
people to reciprocate support for me on various levels, (new venue, in a relationship, or just life) they have disappointed me. I have never felt more rage in my life. It wasn’t the disappointment that I was feeling or the feeling of being used. It was the thought that all my hard work wasn’t good enough. I was unworthy, not loved, and alone.

Anger is just a manifestation of fear. For some people, when you are fearful of something, the first response that comes up is usually anger. Anger is a mask of fear.

I have learned that despite it all, I must be able to rely on myself and God. People, situations, and organization will fail you time and time again. When God is with you, nothing is against you.

You can do all in Christ that strengthens us (which is my current Church’s motto).

Through my personal evolution of how to handle my anger, I have become fearless. I think before I move, I think instead of becoming angry. I am also slow to anger. I have now begun to think about the motivations behind people’s actions. Sometimes, the only answer is indifference. Never fight anger with anger. It causes long reaching effects in ways you cannot even possibly imagine.

Fear is nothing more than an illusion of a possible threat. If you can control your response to your fears, then the anger will melt away.

About the Author:

Dr. Tiffany Brown is a native of Atlanta has taken great pride in her education and strives to continue broadening her knowledge. Graduating with a degree in Political Science from the prestigious Spelman College in 2001, a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Clark Atlanta in 2004 and also a Doctorate in Public Policy from Walden University in 2009, she earned these achievements through determination and the desire to achieve her goals. She has held positions with the United States Government Accountability Office, Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, Georgia Law Center for the Homeless, Georgia Conservation Voters, Supreme Court of Georgia, Equifax, Coca-Cola Enterprises, and Atlanta Bar Association. Upon Graduation from Walden University, she has truly impacted change as an academic and practitioner. She is former 2009 Write-in Atlanta Mayoral Candidate and owner of 3 companies: Tribute Contracting LLC, a minority owned government consulting firm TB LLC; Tiffany Brown Design House; Tiffany Brown Holdings Inc. – Consulting firm that has five divisions: entertainment, vending, radio, food, nonprofit management and book publishing. She is an author of several books: Daily Reflections of Life: A Book of Affirmations for the Ambitious and Prayers of a Faithful Woman. In 2010, She is honored as a Influencer by BOSS Network. The BOSS Network is a women’s empowerment alliance dedicated to highlighting women and creating opportunities for growth through networking beyond events. BOSS was named among the top 100 websites and one of the top 10 career sites for women in 2010 by

Goodreads ~ Facebook ~ Website ~ Blog ~ Twitter

Buy the book at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

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My Life Interpreted by Wanda Octave – Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Wanda will be awarding a $25 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

If you’ve ever pondered how you’ve ended up where you are in life, why things happen the way they do and what your life’s purpose is, then you’ll love My Life Interpreted. It is an uplifting book of ninety-nine inspiring reflections that seeks to demystify the questions of everyday life. Through real-life examples, Wanda Octave demonstrates how you can use your own life to decipher spiritual principles begging for attention.

The answers to life’s burning questions are often right in front of you and Octave shows in a practical and down to earth manner how to access those answers and live more fully.

What started out for Octave as snippets of her own life sent weekly to her list of newsletter subscribers has now been collected into one volume of inspiration. My Life Interpreted is a delightful daily companion or the perfect gift book for anyone seeking encouragement.

Enjoy your exclusive excerpt:

What Hat?

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Don’t hang your hat higher than you can reach.” Or you may be familiar with the popular nineties track “Waterfalls” by TLC (“Don’t go chasing waterfalls, please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to…”).

Some time ago I told someone that I wanted to retire within the next two years. She rolled her eyes with disgust, and then suddenly the daggers came from nowhere. “You’re in your thirties, your home isn’t finished, your daughter is under ten, you don’t have enough money saved, the world is in recession—how could you possibly retire in two years? Why don’t you want to work hard like everybody else? I don’t know what is wrong with this new generation, always trying to hang their hat higher than they can reach!”

OK. I took a breath, paused, and shook off the negativity. Yes, she had just pissed all over my dreams. Another breath. Did she really believe that that little speech would stop me? Another breath. “You will prosper in the famine,” I said to myself. I looked her dead in the eye and said confidently, “You’ll see.”

I went away from the conversation sad—sad that so many people impose their beliefs on our dreams. Aren’t we supposed to dream? Aren’t we supposed to have goals and ambitions higher than that of our parents’ generation? How on earth would anyone have achieved greatness if we didn’t? I have to hang my hat higher than I can reach or else I will never reach higher. Why should I just keep stretching up to where I think I can get to? Stars are born when ordinary people push beyond their limits. Breakthroughs are made when we conquer the seemingly impossible.

I will not stick to the rivers and the lakes that I am used to. I will chase the waterfall. I believe I can reach it. And if I don’t, I still would have traveled a bit further, stretched a bit higher, and came one step closer. I would have achieved something greater than what was expected of me. I would have built on the legacy of my parents. I would have set a precedent for my children so that they too can now hang their hat a little bit or quite a bit higher than I did. I would have assisted in the progress of humanity.

So I say, “What hat?” or “What waterfall?” There are no limits. If you want something, go after it. Believe that you will receive it. Trust that everything in the universe is working for you to have it. And if you don’t achieve it, appreciate the journey anyway. It has brought you one step closer to your goal. Perhaps not in the way that you hoped, but closer.

Life is short…chase those waterfalls baby!


After I sent out the “What Hat?” meditation to my e-mail list, I received a phone call from a close friend who was clearly upset with the “tone” of my writing.

“Did you read it?” I asked.

“Yes, I read ‘pissed’!” she said.


“‘She pissed on my dreams’?” (I could picture her, rolling her eyes.)

“Oh,” I said, “yeah, she did piss on my dreams.” I laughed.

“Yes, Wanda, but you shouldn’t say ‘pissed.’ You could have found a better, less offensive way of saying it. You are in a position of influence. You have to watch your language. You don’t find TD Jakes or Oprah speaking like that!”

“Perhaps not but I know others who would,” I said, defending myself.

“In any event, if you want to aspire to anywhere greater, to release a book and have people respect you, you need to watch the tone of your writing. People will lose respect for you if you use that kind of language.”

“What? So I can’t say ‘pissed’?” By then I was beginning to get irritated and just wanted to hang up the phone.

“Look,” I said, “it’s not about putting on a show for anyone, and trying to be respectable. I am being myself. I’m sorry that a stupid little word like ‘pissed’ offended you so much. I hope you got the message anyway.”

I left that conversation really pissed! Funny how someone can use one word to completely derail you. I am not trying to be Mother Theresa. “Pissed” is a verb (and an adjective). Yes, I could have said, “She spat on my dreams,” and that would have had the same effect. But I did not feel spat on. I felt pissed on. So I expressed that. This is a platform to express my feelings. I don’t want to feel confined to acting like a nun. I do understand that I have a responsibility to my readers but I’d also like to believe that they’ve come to know me and have grown with me. They value my honesty and know that I’m not perfect. Even though I try to be impeccable with my word, (in every sense of the word) my choice of language will not always be perfect. I am human.

I felt uneasy having to defend myself to my friend, although I understood that she represented the concerns of other readers who may be ‘turned off’ by such language. She may have understood the intended message of my meditation, but because she felt so strongly about the use of one word, her image of who she thought I should be, overshadowed the message itself.

It stung. I wished sometimes we would just lighten up a bit. Yes there is a place for quoting scripture but there are times when we need to recognize that what is taking place in the present moment is more important than being spiritually correct.

I remember Sarah Ban Breathnach telling Oprah that people had built up an image of the person who wrote Simple Abundance. They had so many expectations of that image. She was supposed to speak a certain way and dress a certain way, and she definitely should not have gotten divorced!

I keep shaking my head. There is no mold. We need to get to that place where we can appreciate the bigger picture. I think it is more important to look beyond the labels, social definitions, character, and language, and appreciate the lesson, the message…the journey.

Pissed, spat, killed, crushed—it’s all language.

Life is short…express yourself!

About the Author:

Wanda Octave lives with constant fascination and intrigue for life. Her amazing ability to extract spiritual messages out of everyday experiences, has kept readers captivated for years and is finally revealed in her new book My Life Interpreted. A former Marketing professional, Octave worked in the fields of banking, real estate and tourism before becoming a writer.

Hailing from the small Caribbean Island which produced two Nobel Laureates – Honorable Derek Walcott and Sir Arthur Lewis, Octave has set her sights on becoming an international best-selling author, hoping to again position Saint Lucia as a force of to be reckoned with.

Learn more at or follow My Life Interpreted on Facebook.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Authors I Own The Most Books From


Today, our reviewer, Thornapple, has offered up her “Ten Authors I Own The Most Books From”. Welcome, Thornapple!

Thanks for having me! When I signed on to do this post, I thought I had a pretty good idea of who would make my top ten list. One thing I should explain is that I collect vintage paperbacks. So, I have some large collections of some of my all time favorite authors. I couldn’t decide if I should leave those out or include them. I decided to add a few of the collections but mostly these are authors I have on my kindle or have saved my favorite books by them. Some the authors that made the list was surprising to me. I had no idea I had that many books by some of these authors.

So, without further ado: Starting at number ten…

10) Martha Grimes. I have the entire Richard Jury Series!

09) Barbara Michaels. ( aka Elizabeth Peters) I have a huge Gothic collection and Barbara was one of the best, I also have a large collection of her Amelia Peabody novels written under the Elizabeth Peters name

08) Dick Francis. One of my favorite British Mystery Series. I don’t have all of his work, but I have most of them.

07) Christina Dodd. Now this was a surprise. Christiana has written quite a few historical romances, as well as paranormal and romantic suspense. I have saved quite a few of her historical novels. I do not have the infamous 3 armed cover–check that out-it’s legendary.

06) Stephen King. Okay, no surprises there except that I guess I haven’t actually saved many of his books.

05) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This is a collection and I’m still working on it, but I have quite a number of Sherlock Holmes books, some are in a very nice collectors volume my son got me for Christmas one year.

04) Julia Quinn. Another head scratcher. I didn’t know I had kept so many of these. Julia is, along with Eloisa James one of my favorite regency period authors.

03) Sherrilyn Kenyon. If you have not read Sherrilyn Kenyon you might not get it. But, trust me when I say this is one popular author. If you manage to keep all the books she has written and try really hard to keep them in mint condition, you might have a small fortune on your hands. One of the best in Paranormal Romance.

02) Rex Stout. Sort of a surprise to me. I have collected Nero Wolfe novels for awhile, but I has no idea my collection was so large. I am really pleased to see I had so many because unless you want to pay a fortune for them on Ebay, they are really hard to find.

And the winner is…Drumroll please… A tie!! I know, what a rip off. However I have to be honest and this may be a little anti climatic, and no surprise to most…

01) Nora Roberts/ J.D. Robb. I have nearly all of the Eve Dallas “In Death” series and many, many, many Nora Roberts novels. I have collected the older Nora Roberts and still have quite a few of her paperbacks but I mostly have these in digital because I love her stories but simply do not have room for a collection of her books. Nora is the queen of romance–she can write anything: contemporary, romantic suspense, paranormal, and even science fiction.

So, there you have it folks- the strangest top ten list in history!! What’s on your bookshelf?