Challenges Writing Less Than Human by Allen Long — guest post and giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Cate will be awarding a $25 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.

Some of the challenges I faced while writing my memoir

Hello, Readers. My name is Allen Long, and I’m the author of the recently published book, Less than Human: A Memoir.

My single biggest challenge comes easily to mind. It was understanding my highly complex ex-wife to the fullest extent possible and making her a sympathetic, well-rounded character.

Our marriage had a strange shape. During our first three years as husband and wife, Linda cheated on me twice. I suspect a guy from a healthy home probably would have dumped her after her first infidelity and definitely after her second.

However, my brother David and I were physically abused by our parents from the time we were small children until we each turned twelve, so I had a very high tolerance for abuse and forgave her.

Surprisingly, we were then happily married for years, and we had three sons. Then, as our youngest son approached pre-school age, Linda became increasingly bossy and critical of me for no apparent reason and frequently screamed at me. On Thanksgiving 1991, Linda experienced a mental/emotional crisis that consisted of alternating fits of rage and suicidal depression.

She screamed at our sons and me every day for the next six months and proclaimed her love for a man she’d engaged to train her as a racing cyclist. I divorced her and gained full custody of the boys.

In the early drafts of my book, I depicted Linda as a one-dimensional harpy. Then I decided to remove as much anger and recrimination as possible from our story and try my best to explain why she behaved as she did.

One of the first things I did was to include a summary of the story of her life. The readers sees some of the hurts she experienced as a child, how she idolized her father and brother (making it nearly impossible for me or anyone else to live up to her high expectations for a husband), and early signs of mental/emotional instability.

The reader also learns that her initial career choice when she was in high school was to become a nurse, following in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother. But her mother knew Linda was strong-willed and advised her against a nursing career because she didn’t think Linda would like being bossed around by doctors. She suggested a career in horticulture instead, since Linda loved flowers and plants.

Linda then attended Virginia Tech as a horticulture major, planning to join the Peace Corps upon graduation. Then she met and married me halfway through college, and the Peace Corps rejected us because it had no interest in my journalism degree, a major disappointment to Linda.

Then during our fifteen-year marriage, Linda had only three satisfying years working in her field. Otherwise, she held two unremarkable horticulture-related positions and then became a stay-at-home mom and participating parent in our son’s alternative schools.

As soon as we divorced, Linda became a nurse, and I realized this career issue had been a time bomb ticking since her high school years.

Also, there were some facts I reported without explaining because I couldn’t, such as Linda’s need to leave the marriage for sexual adventures while still wanting to retain me as a safe anchor. I also didn’t try to explain her mental/emotional instability, which I still don’t understand, although her nurse mother and doctor brother have suggested she has a chemical imbalance in her brain.

In addition, I made a point of showing I wasn’t the perfect husband. When I was married to Linda, I had undiagnosed and untreated anxious depression, and I’m sure there were times when I was self-absorbed when Linda needed me to more present. Also, I have a clear memory of a time when I disappointed Linda and still feel at fault, and I included this scene in the book.

By the time I finished the sixth and final draft of the memoir, I was satisfied I’d eliminated or minimized bitter or recriminating remarks about Linda while showing her as a well-rounded person possessing a range of virtues and flaws similar to the rest of us.

After the book was released, my oldest son told me how much he’d enjoyed it, and he thanked me for the honest but sympathetic portrait I’d painted of his mother. This is the greatest compliment I’ve received regarding the memoir.

MediaKit_BookCover_LessThanHumanIn Less than Human, Allen Long tells the story of his often nightmarish childhood in the wealthy suburbs of D.C., the wonders and mysteries of teenage love, his ill-advised journeys into corporate America and a hellish marriage, and ultimate breakdown. And yet, his story is mostly one of triumph. He draws strength from the joys of fatherhood, he finds true love in his second marriage, and through working with psychotherapists and leading a life rich in self-examination, he overcomes both child abuse and the resulting PTSD, finally learning that instead of being less than, he is, indeed, human.

Less than Human follows an unconventional path, arranged as much by theme and association as by chronology. These stories take many forms, from driving narrative to lyrical reverie, at times evoking mythic overtones, and this variety, along with an unflinching confrontation with the conditions and consequences of childhood abuse, create its own form of suspense–in what direction will this book take us next?

Enjoy an excerpt:

“Swimming’s fine,” my mother said. “Hurry up and unpack your bathing suits, and don’t track any water or sand back into the house.”

“But what about the alligator?” I said.

“Stop whining and do as your mother says,” my father said.

“You can fish too if you like,” my grandfather said. “There’s some bamboo poles with lures in a bucket in the garage.”

Danny and I set up our fishing gear on an old warped pier and cast our spinners out into the murky water. After a couple of sweltering hours without any bites, I decided to swim. Danny refused to budge, his eyes scanning the russet surface for the alligator.

I stepped into the lake, thick mud oozing between my toes and spiky plants pin-pricking my soles. I waded into the pleasantly cool but swampy smelling water until it was up to my waist. Then I carefully surveyed the lake. The day was scorching and I wanted to plunge into the water and swim, but a deeper instinct reminded me that at any moment I could be prey. I froze. Part of me felt safe because our parents knew I was swimming, but I was also afraid I’d get snapped up into the jaws of the alligator.

Although I kept my eyes peeled for any creatures near me, a turtle suddenly popped its head out of the water a foot away, scaring the bejesus out of me.

MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_LessThanHumanAllen Long was born in New York City and grew up in Arlington, Virginia. He holds a B.A. in journalism from Virginia Tech, an M.A. in fiction writing from Hollins University, and an M.F.A. in fiction writing from the University of Arizona. He has been an assistant editor at Narrative Magazine since 2007, and his fiction and memoirs have appeared in a wide variety of literary magazines. He lives with his wife near San Francisco.

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How to Draw Cool Stuff by Catherine V. Holmes – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Catherine will be awarding a $50 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner, and another winner will receive a print copy of How to Draw Cool Stuff (international) both via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

MediaKit_BookCover_HowToDrawCoolStuffHow to Draw Cool Stuff: Holidays, Seasons and Events is a step-by-step drawing guide that illustrates popular celebrations, holidays and events for your drawing pleasure. From the Chinese New Year to April Fools’ Day, Father’s Day to Halloween, Christmas and New Year’s Eve – this book covers over 100 fun days, holidays, seasons and events, and offers simple lessons that will teach you how to draw like a pro and get you in the spirit of whichever season it may be!

Enjoy an excerpt:

This book evolved out of necessity. After exploring art catalogs and libraries and wading through the “how to draw” section of book stores, I found a few good resources but none that had all the qualities I was looking for in a drawing book. Some ideas were too basic and often insulting to my older, more artistic students. Other material seemed to serve as a showcase for beautiful artwork but lacked any concrete instruction.

As a “travelling” art teacher with a limited budget and limited preparation time, I need a single resource that is easy to transport and can be used to teach all levels of students from middle school to high school and beyond. This book was created to fill that need and I want to share it with teachers and artists in similar situations. These projects will allow you to bring interesting and informative lessons that offer clear objectives and foster achievement without the need for expensive/multi-dimensional supplies: a regular pencil and eraser is all that is needed (sometimes a ruler or fine pen). Fancy art pencils, costly paper or kneaded erasers are not required for success. All pages have been student tested and approved.

About the Author:MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_HowToDrawCoolStuffCatherine V. Holmes is an art/ELA teacher and visual artist from historical Plymouth, Massachusetts. She studied at Boston University and at Bridgewater State College where she earned her BFA and MA in ED. She is currently working towards her second Master’s from the University of Scranton. Catherine Holmes specializes in portraits, architecture and illustrations. Her art is inspired by her feelings, ideas, and experiences, whether they are found in nature, the media or in man-made structures. Catherine is also heavily influenced by the interests and suggestions of her students. “To see success through their eyes inspires me to be a better teacher and creator of art.”

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Buy the book at Amazon. Check out the books series, as well.

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2 Broads Broad: Moms Fly the Coop by Deborah Serra and Nancy Serra Greene – Q&A and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Deborah Serra and Nancy Serra Greene will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC 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, Nancy. If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?

Probably need to make a list. It might be my first crush. I was a freshman in high school and I fell so hard for this adorable boy in my English class. I had no idea how to approach these new overpowering emotions, and no clue he was way too immature to even notice the girl giving him loving looks. So, to get his attention, I sent him a long love poem…unfortunately, I wrote it – enough said.

If you could keep a mythical/ paranormal creature as a pet, what would you have?

I want Dobby the house-elf from Harry Potter because he’ll clean my home!

How do you keep your writing different from all the others that write in this particular genre?

My sister and I are both voracious readers. We read in all genres and so we’ve read a few memoirs in our day. What we found was that most memoirs are either entirely depressive or entirely comedic. We were committed to writing a more balanced piece, because while your kids leaving home is certainly a sad event, and those feelings are raw and real, it is not a tragedy. We wanted to achieve misty-eyed nostalgia and not pass-the-valium depression, along with many moments where our audience could laugh along with us and enjoy the journey. Our publisher Library Tales Publishing totally understood this line for us, and they said as soon as they laughed out loud they knew they had a winner.

What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you ever received?

The best piece of advice I ever received was to never get up for the day at the end of a chapter. Always leave in the middle of a scene, or in the midst of a dialogue exchange. It’s the primer you need for tomorrow.

The worst advice – don’t quit your day job.

Are the experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

2 BROADS ABROAD: Moms Fly the Coop is a non-fiction humorous travel memoir written about a road trip my sister and I took around Ireland. It is an irreverent, sometime poignant, always funny look motherhood and moving on.

If you could have one paranormal ability, what would it be?

Oh, so many good possibilities! But now I’m not sure I know the line between paranormal and magical. I would love to be able to teleport. If I could close my eyes, imagine being somewhere, and then be there that would be such a great gift. I could visit all of the majestic and awe inspiring place on Earth in the blink of an eye.

What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?

They might be surprised to learn that because of this 2 BROADS trip I’m feeling very differently about my empty nest. My direction in life and the plans for my tomorrow have genuinely changed. I really do see this time as an intermission in my life – a time full of selfish (if temporary) opportunities. The trip did that for me. If you read it you’ll understand why.

When writing descriptions of your hero/ine, what feature do you start with?

When we wrote descriptions of people we met along our Irish road trip we always began with the physical because this mirrors reality. What we see first in people is their appearance and right or wrong we make judgments, even if they’re only subconscious. What I like most in books I read is when the exterior of a character is in conflict with their true nature. Like Sydney Carton in A Tale of Two Cities: an attractive, cynical, and completely self-serving man, who inside is beset by regret and who finally makes the ultimate sacrifice for love. I think he is one of the most interesting characters in fiction.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

This book 2 Broads Abroad: Moms Fly the Coop is a travel memoir so the plot unfolded as we traveled around Ireland that would definitely make us a pantser. (Which is pretty much how we took this trip – impulsively by the seat of our pants.) We started in Dublin and then drove around the Emerald Island, on the wrong side of the road, at 100 KPH. It was quite the wild ride: a little scary, a little funny, and even a little dangerous a few times.

Did you learn anything from writing this book? If so, what?

I learned a great deal. It was my first book, while my co-author and sister, Deborah, has been a professional writer for decades. What I learned was the truth of that old expression “writing is editing”. I couldn’t believe how many times my sister wanted to redo the pages. I remember thinking one time if she sends me that same page again I’m going to strangle her. It was an education to see how a few sentences here or there can make a difference, and also how detailed Deborah needed to be to feel ready to let it go. It was a funny reversal for us. I’ve always been the organized detail person and Deborah has always been a bit wild and less controlled, but when it came to writing she was so focused. We learned a lot about each other, even after we were sure we knew everything.

When sisters, Deborah & Nancy, discovered that motherhood was a temp job they decided to run away from home. After packing up that last kid for college, and facing the sad stillness of their suddenly quiet homes, they decided to leave the country. 2 BROADS ABROAD: MOMS FLY THE COOP is a funny, irreverent, occasionally poignant travel tale of their impulsive road trip around Ireland.

In this witty warm-hearted adventure, they experienced some of Ireland’s quirkier history while sharing universally relatable stories of maniacal school coaches, neurotic neighbors, and tiger moms. Having kicked that empty nest into their rearview mirror, the sisters took off careening down the wrong side of the road, making questionable choices, getting trapped in a medieval tower, sneaking Chinese take-out into a famous cooking school, drinking way too much, and gaining a changed perspective on their lives ahead.

Enjoy an excerpt:

“Your youngest is leaving for college? Aw, empty nest?” Then, sappy eyes followed by a plaintive grin and, “What will you do?”

Before my sister and I decided to run away from home we were bothered by that question. There was something minimizing about it, minimizing and not completely untrue. Motherhood had been so deceptive, the greatest paradox in life: every single bleary-eyed day felt a month long, and the years went by in an instant. They flashed by like lightning and left a desiccated scorch mark wearing my clothes. It was disagreeable to imagine what life would be like childless: there would be the family tree, and there would be the mom who’s the center of the family tree, standing leafless, bare (and it has been a while since I looked good bare). There was some solace as I glanced around me to see my younger sister, Nancy, would be standing there bare as well. We were embarking on this progeny-shedding calamity simultaneously as both of our youngest daughters, Nicole and Olivia, were leaving for college the same week.

I knew that Nancy hadn’t really focused on it yet. And then, we met at Fashion Island in Newport Beach near her home to get a birthday gift for our mom. We ran into two of Nancy’s neighbors, Vicki and Susan.

“Nancy,” Vicki asked, “doesn’t Nicole graduate from Corona Del Mar High School this June?”

“Yes,” Nancy said. “She’s going to the University of Washington.”

“Oh,” Susan lifted her eyebrows, “you must be devastated.”

“What?” Nancy looked confused. “No, actually I was happy for her. She worked really hard. It was her first choice school.”

“But so far away!” Susan added in that annoying singsong tone.

Nancy shifted her feet, a move I knew well as her sister. It was something she always did when she was being told something she did not like to hear.

“It’s not that far.” Nancy said.

“It’s a plane ride. You need an airplane to see your daughter.” Susan said loudly.

“Yeah.” Nancy turned to me in an effort to change the subject. “You remember my sister, Deborah?”

“Of course.” Vicki smiled. And we exchanged hellos. Vicki seemed normal, but I had an inkling that I might have to slap Susan.

Susan continued on with her one thought. “With your son gone already, and soon Nicole, well, Nancy, I guess you’re all alone now.”

Nancy shifted her feet again. “I’m still married, Susan.”

“Sure. Sure. Right. So that’s better than nothing, huh?”

Nancy and I both froze. Did she just say that?

“You know,” Vicki tried to cut off Susan, “when Terrie’s youngest left she bought a Chihuahua puppy. Cutest thing you’ve ever seen. And the Walkers gave a room to an exchange student from Sweden,” she explained happily.

Nancy nodded. “That sounds like a good plan.”

Susan opened her mouth to speak again and I wasn’t sure whether I should just smack her now and be done with it, or let her continue. I made the wrong choice.

“Remember Pam Winthrop?” Susan leaned in. “When her son left she started eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s every day until she put on 60 pounds. Sad, really, tragic. Even her kneecaps were fat.” Then Susan turned to me, “So, Deborah, isn’t your youngest graduating, too?”

“I’m leaving the country,” I said.

Susan cocked her head. “What?”

“I’m leaving the country,” I repeated matter-of-factly.

“So am I,” Nancy said. I looked at her. I saw the decision in her eyes. “I’m going with Deborah. We’re taking a long trip together – a sisters trip.”

“You are?” Susan sounded a little thwarted, which Nancy found gratifying.

“Yup, in the planning stages.” Nancy smiled at Susan who was clearly disappointed that we were not miserable as anticipated. “Nice to see you though, Susan, Vicki. Got to go. In the middle of booking flights and stuff. So much to do!”

We turned away and strode with purpose toward the door.

I whispered, “Susan’s a real gem.”

“She did me a favor.”


“I’ve been so busy I just wasn’t thinking about it.”

“And I haven’t been able to think about anything else,” I said. “When I’m awake in the middle of the night it runs over and over in my mind.”

Nancy said, “When I heard that crap Susan was dealing, all of a sudden I realized, there’s no way am I plodding into that sunset with fat kneecaps carrying a Chihuahua.”

About the Authors:

Deborah Serra has been a sought-after screenwriter for twenty-five years having written for NBC, CBS, Sony, Lifetime, Fox, and others. She was a recipient of the 2012 Hawthornden Literary Fellowship. Her first novel was a semi-finalist for the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Award given by the Faulkner Society in New Orleans, LA.

Nancy is a graduate of San Diego State University. She worked in medical sales before stepping away to raise her two children, at which point she became: Team Mom, Snack Mom, PTA member, Assistance League Volunteer, and the list is never-ending. Nancy was the editor and publisher of the Buffalo Hills Echo newsletter with a circulation of 1400. She also designed and managed her community website.

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The Wynning Way by Maisha S. Wynn

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Maisha S. Wynn will be awarding a $15 American Express GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

To my family and friends, I am known as Maisha Wynn. However, the outside world knows me as “WYNN WIN.” For me, Wynn (my last name) and Win a homonym of my last name is no accident at all because I am truly a “wynner.” As a Chicago-based Lifestyle Specialist and soon-to-be International Best Selling Author, I want to share 5 winning ways that will transform your life from ordinary to extraordinary:

1). Be Intentional With Your Words: The words you utter can either be healthy, or harmful to your overall well-being. When you become intentional with your words, you are truly giving energy to not only what you say, but how you say it. Once you give life to it, you cannot take it back. With that in mind, be mindful of every single word that rolls off your tongue and floats into the atmosphere.

2). Mind Your Thoughts: Your most powerful thoughts influence your attitude, which ultimately control your altitude in life. On a daily basis, you must be cognizant of what you feed your universe, for what you put into your mind is what you’ll get out of it. Protecting your universe at all times is key to your personal “wynns.”

3). Treasure Your Temple: When you cherish your temple (body), you cherish your universe (mind)! Your temple responds to the way you think, feel and act. This is often called the “mind/body connection.” Your personal freedom comes from living a healthy lifestyle (from what you feed your temple to allowing your universe to rest peacefully at night).

4). Give Thanks Daily: Gratitude is truly the cornerstone to your greater self. How? To have the ability to see a new horizon is golden to your life span on this earth. Waking up with a big smile on your face is the first way to give thanks to the universe. Give it a try! You will thank me later.

5). Invest In Others: You have one life! What you do with it on a daily basis will have a major impact on your future. If you ask anyone who is a philanthropist, they will tell you that investing in others is one of the greatest feelings, whether you donate your time, talent and/or tithe. It should come from a personal space of not expecting any recognition. Your biggest reward is knowing that you’ve made a difference in the life of someone other than yourself.

The Wynning Way: A Guide To Creating Success Your Way shows you how to develop your own winning lifestyle through exercises that inspire self reflection and strategies for creating the mindset of a winner. Throughout the book, Wynn shares her personal journey from tragedy to triumph and offers inspirational nuggets on the power of prayer, the effect of positive thinking plus affirmations to help you live abundantly!

Get ready to transform your existence by digging deeper to unveil the power that truly lies within you! Your time for wynning is NOW!

Enjoy an excerpt:

Early in my youth, I knew that I wanted to attend Spelman College, the famed African American women’s institution in Atlanta. The women I’d read about there reminded me a lot of the woman I admired all my life, my mother. They had a powerful presence about them and were extremely intelligent. Though she was a single mother, my mother made sure I was able to attend this esteemed institution. She left her entire world in Chicago (including family and friends), to start a new life with me in Atlanta. I mean, my mother was my biggest cheerleader.

In order for me to live the best, she made weighty sacrifices—no matter how major they may have been—so much so that she depleted her entire retirement plan so that I could not only go to Spelman, but graduate. Losing her in recent years was like losing the air you breathe. My once vibrant world felt dark and depleted. For months, all I could do was cry my sadness away. It was too painful to realize she was no longer just a phone call away. My mother was truly my favorite girl and best friend. People who I didn’t even know, knew who I was and my story because she was that proud of me. The unconditional love she showered upon me daily is what keeps me going to this very moment.

About the Author:

Lifestyle specialist, Maisha Wynn, gives credence to the mantra “a changed mind is a made-up mind.” She heads up Live To Wynn, a Chicago-based lifestyle agency that provides aspirational and practical guidance for women and men who desire to live their lives more abundantly. As a former size 20 who now maintains a size 4 through exercise and healthy eating, Wynn knows firsthand how difficult and rewarding it can be to transform your life. She speaks around the nation and provides uplifting editorial content to various media outlets.

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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

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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

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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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