Meeting Death by Howard Brown – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

I met death.

In fact, I met death twice. Against overwhelming odds both times, I lived to tell this story—which is why I won’t waste time telling you anything but the most essential truths in these pages. Meeting death shines a clarifying spotlight on one’s life. In actually confronting death, all the superfluous stuff that usually fills our days is burned away. What becomes clear as we grapple tooth and nail with death is a glimpse of the true purpose of the life we’ve been given in this world.

What is the purpose of a good life? First, a disclaimer: In answering this question, I am not pretending to be one of the world’s great sages. What I can do is the same thing you can do. I can tell you my story—with all of its laughter, warm embraces, crazy brainstorms, daring leaps of faith and cliffhangers. By the end, you will recognize how much our stories are connected. You may discover that all of us are part of a much bigger story—or, we might say, a much larger circle.

So, what is the purpose of a good life? What is the message you’ll find shining through all of the stories in this book? It’s a question I was forced to answer when I met death each time. Wrestling with death month after month was so bone-wearying that I had to answer this core question each morning just to climb out of bed: Against all odds, why should I go on living? Millions of cancer patients like me know this haunting question all too well. Some days, it feels easier to just lay back, surrender and give up.

When I faced that question the first time, I was surprised by my own answer. I realized how completely my confrontation with death was stripping away all of the inconsequential noise in my life. Why should I live? One easy answer to that question that I could have voiced is a cry of defiance mixed with regret: “Because there’s so much more I want to get!” But, no, I never said that. I never got lost in that trap, because that answer really is a first step toward letting cancer separate us from the people surrounding us—narrowing our focus to all that the disease may be taking away from us as individuals.

My honest answer always was: “Because there’s so much more I want to give.” On my worst day—and there were hundreds of worst days—that was always my answer.

Why should I live?

Because there is so much more I can give.

In Shining Brightly, Silicon Valley pioneer, cancer survivor and interfaith peacemaker Howard Brown shares keys to resilience for successful entrepreneurs, patient advocates and community leaders. He shows us how to reach out through our families, our communities and around the world to form truly supportive connections and friendships. From Howard’s career as a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, to his conquering metastatic stage IV cancer twice, to his compassionate outreach as a peacemaker, to his love of sports—this ultimately is not one man’s story. Shining Brightly is a story shared by countless men and women—and may wind up changing your life as well. With each true story he tells in the pages, Howard invites readers to picture how they might join him in shining more light in our world.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Sprinkled through all the adventures in this book—some of them ordinary, heartwarming family stories and some of them so remarkable you will be tempted to call them miraculous—there are truths like this one Bubby Bertha was trying to explain that morning on the sidewalk in Worcester, Massachusetts. There are more to come, but here are four of these truths as we set out on our journey together in these pages:

• Each of us has our own special light.

• We shine more brightly when we share our light with others.

• True resiliency—the kind that is strong enough to overcome trauma at seemingly impossible odds— rests on letting in the light of others.

• As our light circles the world, we illuminate and celebrate our diversity.

I’m sharing these truths right away so that perhaps you’ll turn down the corner of this page and flip back to it from time to time. This is your book as much as it is mine, after all, and I wrote it with the intention that you will mark it up and return to its pages occasionally for inspiration. Plus, as you read through these chapters, you’ll find lots of ideas for fun and inspiring things you can do to shine your light in the world.

About the Author:Howard Brown is an author, Silicon Valley entrepreneur, interfaith peacemaker, two-time stage IV cancer survivor and healthcare advocate. For more than three decades, Howard’s business innovations, leadership principles, mentoring and his resilience in beating cancer against long odds have made him a sought-after speaker and consultant for businesses, nonprofits, congregations, and community groups. In his business career, Howard was a pioneer in helping to launch a series of technology startups before he co-founded two social networks that were the first to connect religious communities around the world. He served his alma matter—Babson College, ranked by US News as the nation’s top college for entrepreneurship—as a trustee and president of Babson’s worldwide alumni network. His hard-earned wisdom about resilience after beating cancer twice has led him to become a nationally known patient advocate and “cancer whisperer” to many families. Visit Howard at to learn more about his ongoing work and contact him. Through that website, you also will find resources to help you shine brightly in your own corner of the world. Howard, his wife Lisa and daughter Emily currently reside in Michigan.


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18 Notes on Writing from a High School English Teacher Turned Award-winning Author by Jay Armstrong – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Jay Armstrong will be awarding a $10 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.

18 notes on writing from a high school English teacher turned award-winning author:

1. There are two types of writing: private and public. Private writing is for your eyes only like journals, diaries, and memos on your phone. Public writing is meant to be read by a reader. It includes blogs, emails, novels, or an angry letter to the Department of Motor Vehicles. The point of public writing is to connect to the reader. A public writer must be selfless. A public writer must attempt to identify, visualize, and connect to their private reader.

2. The first draft is always for the writer. Every other draft after is for the reader.

3. Good writing is vulnerable writing. Let your reader hear the things they’re reluctant to say out loud.

4. Young writers often think long sentences mark good writing. Silly. Short sentences show poise and control. They are easily digestible and appreciated by the reader.

5. However, long sentences are sometimes needed to vary the rhythm of a piece, convey a complicated feeling or to show action. The 142-word first sentence in Tim O’Brien’s “The Man I Killed” taught me more about writing than four years of college.

6. Get comfortable with contradictions. Humans are contradictory creatures. We value privacy yet we post our lives on the internet. We want to know other people’s secrets yet fear being exposed. We want to hold on but we yearn to let go. The point is, contradictions are the hub of human conflict. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, you want to develop characters who—like you and I—are struggling with their own contradictions.

7. Include natural imagery in your writing. As you or your characters live life, gravity pulls, the world turns. Juxtaposing human strife with the grand yet indifferent natural world will stir your reader’s imagination and offer them comfort. Because while they are reading your writing, nature is outside their window doing its thing.

8. Include sensory imagery in your writing. Readers want their senses tickled. Describing how something smells, tastes, feels, or sounds helps the reader further appreciate and experience your writing.

9. When you doubt yourself as a writer, take a deep breath, and repeat, “I am a writer” as many times as you need to drive self-doubt away. Also, know that self-doubt never goes away. You can only hope to exile self-doubt to the time-out corner for a brief period. A good rule is one minute of time-out for every year of the writer. For example, a forty-year-old writer should hope to keep self-doubt in time-out for forty minutes.

10. Young writers often measure their writing ability by scores or teacher evaluations. This is a trap, especially if you earn high marks. A good writer knows writing will never be completely mastered.

11.Do not capitalize, concern yourself with punctuation, grammar, or consider proper writing etiquette when writing a first draft. Save this tedium for the second and third drafts.

12. Have enough confidence to write a poor first draft and enough guts to write a second.

13. Write with humor. Remind your reader laughter is essential for survival.

14. The pursuit of perfection leads to procrastination. You or your writing won’t be perfect. Get used to it.

15. Start walking. This will help clear your mind and allow for writing breakthroughs you can’t achieve while sitting at a computer. Also, walking is a fine metaphor for writing. Go at your own pace, breathe, be patient, and take one step at a time.

16. When you’re ready—buy, read, and study the following four books on writing: Consider This by Chuck Palahniuk, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King and The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Once you finish reading, go write. Reading about writing is helpful, but only the act of writing will make you a better writer.

17. A story is only as interesting as its conflict.

18. 95% of writing is overcoming these four words, “I can’t do this.” Heck, 95% of life is overcoming those four words. You may wonder what the remaining 5 % is. I don’t know. I think it’s for us to figure out on our own.

Diagnosed with a progressive brain disease, a young father is determined to teach his children the importance of pursuing their dreams.

A cell phone’s ring interrupts the silence as Jay Armstrong sits in his high school classroom preparing for the year ahead. Something about the ring makes his stomach drop. It’s his doctor.

The words, “diffuse cerebellar atrophy, a rare, degenerative brain disease” float through the speaker. All of Jay’s youthful dreams of being a writer rush back, flooding the twenty years he has spent teaching students how to appreciate novels, memoirs, and poetry. The care he put into teaching them how to write with clarity, insight, and humor, and how to dance at the prom. The bedtime stories he never told his children spin in his imagination. It will all die when he dies.

Jay chooses to experience his condition as an inspiration here to teach him to appreciate the time he still has. He writes letters and stories to his three children about his failing voice, his impaired motor skills, and falling down on Christmas morning. Writing helps him cope with the illness and its symptoms. And so, he accepts the mission of writing more stories for them: the difference his father’s wink made at a critical moment of a baseball game, why they should take walks even in cruddy weather, and how he avoided having to explain what semen is for.

As his condition worsens, Jay’s faith in the power of storytelling deepens. His daily life is wildly different than he foresaw, and possibly shorter, but he can leave his children a legacy more valuable than any financial inheritance. He writes “Bedtime Stories for the Living”, an episodic memoir to show his children how to accept their limitations and find joy. The collection of tender, witty stories about fatherhood, persevering despite illness, and pursuing your dreams, demonstrates how love gives us the strength to face heartache with bravery and grace.

Enjoy an Excerpt

There is something you should know. In the history of my ordinary suburban life, I’ve never told any of my three children a bedtime story. Not telling your child a bedtime story seems like a major dad offense. Like forgetting them at Target or wearing a clown costume to “Back-to-School Night” or letting them swim twenty-six minutes after lunch.

Do I love my children?

On most days I do.

On most days, like you, they’re decent people. So why didn’t I tell them bedtime stories?

Selfishly, I don’t like the pressure. The nightlight. The slow swirl of the ceiling fan blades. Their big eyes staring up at me, expecting me to entertain them, to stir their imagination. Who do they think I am? Bruce Springsteen? No. I’m a dad who gets his sushi from a supermarket. I wear sneakers with khaki pants. I once taught high school English in New Jersey. I mean, to be creative and tell a story on demand is down-right stressful. Who needs that kind of stress after 9 pm?

My parents were better parents. When I was a kid, Mom and Dad would tuck me into bed and tell me stories about my grandfathers and grandmothers, about how Mom and Dad met, or about playing stickball in narrow Philadelphia streets. Bedtime stories were history. They brought my little universe into focus, shaped my identity, and instilled a love of storytelling.

As good suburban boys do, I fell in love, got married, and had three kids. Just when things were going as planned, in 2013, I was diagnosed with a progressive brain disease called diffuse cerebellar atrophy. The disease degenerates my motor skills, balance, coordination, eyesight, and speech. A fall can lead to a head injury and weakening esophageal muscles to choking and asphyxiation, and so on—a veritable smorgasbord of potentially fatal complications. Two years later, sarcoidosis, a complicated autoimmune disorder that attacks every major body organ, was added to my list of health issues.

It was only when the prospect of death became real that I began writing.

In 2015, I created Write On Fight On (, and for the next five years I wrote and posted bedtime stories I never told my kids. By writing these stories, I began to reexamine who I once was, who I am now, and the man and father I hoped to one day grow up to be. Writing made me realize, in the face of our inevitable death, our time to tell our story is painfully brief. And that we should make like Springsteen and do what we can to achieve our dreams.

As I wrote this book, time passed. The kids grew up. My diseases progressed. People I love died. And one spring morning, standing in the driveway with my hands in my pockets, time’s yellow chariot turned the corner. The air brakes exhaled, “Bye Dad” was said, and as the bus, my children, and a swirl of exhaust smoke disappeared down the street, I realized the irony of my effort. I was trying to preserve time while it was passing like a school bus in the morning. We can’t stop time. We can only slow time by doing what we love. Doing the things that make us feel alive. And I have never been more alive than when telling a story.

This is a book of bedtime stories for the living. Stories that, if I did my job well, slow time, and make you and me glad to be alive. These stories are real. Or as real as memory allows them to be. As I discovered, life is both a funny and a heartbreaking experience. These stories are the moments I want to share with you because I believe, deep in my dad heart, we all have stories worth sharing.

I came across an article about how, in the mid 1990’s, Dr. Marshall Duke and Dr. Robyn Fivush of Emory University developed and conducted a twenty question survey of children entitled, “Do You Know” which asked them about their families. The results showed that the more stories, both positive and negative, the children knew about their family’s history, the more resilient the children tended to be. As the study concluded, knowing family stories was “the single best predictor of children’s emotional health and happiness.” For better or worse, our family stories help us navigate our own troubles. Stories gift us courage when we’re afraid, offer direction when we’re lost, or comfort when we’re lonely.

Dear reader, please know that I’m humbled you are reading this book. Thank you. I hope my stories help you, give you permission to dream, and maybe give you the strength to tell your own stories. I hope you paid full price for this book because college for three ain’t free.

But if this book doesn’t offer my children financial prosperity, more than anything, this book is a gift for them. It’s a family history, an instruction manual, an honest reflection about a fleeting moment, a smile, a glance, and the goodnight kiss I often failed to give them.

Maybe one day, when they’re lost or confused or angry or sad or daydreaming about the prom queen, they will open this book and read a story or one of the letters I’ve written to them. Maybe my words will let them hear my voice again. Feel my lips pressed against their ears. And maybe they’ll know they’re not alone. That Dad is here. With them. Helping them through life forever.

Be well,

About the Author:In 2013, Jay Armstrong was diagnosed with diffuse cerebellar atrophy. A condition that causes dysfunctional motor skills, speech and vision impairments, and balance deficiencies. At the time of diagnosis, he was establishing himself as an endeared high school English teacher, a varsity soccer coach, and an above average dancer. However, the progressive disorder forced Jay to reevaluate his life.

Supported by his high school sweetheart turned wife (Cindy) and their three children (Haley, Chase, Dylan), Jay retired from teaching in 2021 to pursue his dream of becoming an author.

Jay believes in the power of storytelling. He also believes in dad jokes, laughter, and the unrelenting pursuit of dreams. Jay’s debut book, Bedtime Stories for the Living, is an episodic memoir in which Jay shows his children how to accept their limitations and find joy. The collection of tender, witty stories about fatherhood, persevering despite illness, and pursuing your dreams, demonstrates how love gives us the strength to face heartache with bravery, humor, and grace.

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Jay is passionate about Philly sports, soft pretzels, and Rocky Balboa.

Write On Fight On website | Author website | Facebook | Twitter

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How to prevent hair thinning by Rose Bonner – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Rose Bonner will be awarding a free copy of the book and a hair scarf, U.S Only, to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

How to prevent hair thinning

Thinning hair is a natural part of getting older. Hold on, wait a minute. Hair loss on the top of your head can begin with a very simple process. Most people begin their showers when shampooing their hair by putting shampoo directly on top of their heads. Placing shampoo around your head and working it towards the top and back reduces over-stressing the top of your hair and allows even distribution preventing more thinning or loss. When you put shampoo on top of your head it causes more wear and tears over time. Changing where you start can make a big difference. Correctly shampooing your hair can be the most important step in preventing hair loss.

This book takes the mystery out of chemically treating your hair. Your hair can be cared for as simply as your fingernails. When you have a hair colour that does not compliment your style. You can fix it with solutions in our book. A well done relaxer requires certain steps to not mix to avoid breaking hair. Using a perm at home can be done. Learn the salon tricks to correct or complete a relaxer, perm or color without the common mistakes that leaves hair dry, broken and damaged. Just remember to trim your hair like you file your nails to keep hair healthy and strong. Be sure to leave a comment after you read the book.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Buying the best perms can present challenge when you need a professional license to go into the best supply chains for hair products, we help empower you to access the best top quality products. Page 29

About the Author Years ago, Rose was a sought-after cosmetologist who could apply or correct color without damage. She has done surveys and research into what consumers need when it comes to their hair. Now, she wants to share her experience to help others who are facing similar struggles. You don’t have to go to a salon. You can, but with her insider secrets in her new book, you can achieve a gorgeous salon look at home.

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Cover Reveal – Improbable MD: From the Bayou to the Boardroom by Derek J. Robinson, MD

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotoins. The Literary Lobbyist will be awarding a $25 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

In Improbable MD, Dr. Derek J. Robinson traces his unlikely journey from fishing on the bayous of Louisiana, to an ER and helicopter flight physician in Chicago, to leadership in some of the US’ largest health care organizations.

The grandson of a sharecropper and son of a single mother, Derek grew up in a working-class neighborhood in Shreveport, LA. A graduate of the city’s public schools, he saw first-hand the difference that access to quality education and health care made within his own family. He shares how his dream of being a doctor became a reality, despite the odds, and why he believes mentoring and investing in young people is vital to the health of our nation.

Robinson takes the reader inside the ER, where he has treated victims of gun violence and shares how spilt-second clinical decisions and the trust of his patients, shaped his appreciation for being a doctor, But, even with many years of training, he exposes how it feels to reach the limits of what he can offer patients and even shares the pain and lessons he has learned from the illness and loss of family members. Beyond the walls of the ER, Dr. Robinson explains how we became a business leader in health care and influential voice in boardrooms.

Through sharing his inspirations and tribulations, Dr. Robinson inspires readers to push beyond both self-doubt and external obstacles to pursue their dreams. In telling his story, he shares the roles that faith, friendship, love, and fatherhood have played in his life, and he hopes to motivate readers to chart their own journeys to successful and fulfilling lives.

About the Author:

Derek J. Robinson is a board-certified physician in Emergency Medicine. He is vice president and chief medical officer at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, a division of Health Care Service Corporation – the nation’s largest non-investor owned health insurance company. In this role, he leads the care management operations division and serves as the company’s primary health care expert.

Dr. Robinson continues to provide clinical care to patients in the ER at the University of Illinois Chicago where he is a clinical associate professor of emergency medicine. His unique perspective on the complexities of healthcare, including his past service as a health care federal regulator, have enabled him to influence the transformation of health care for Americans. He has been featured on WTTW, WMAQ, WLS-TV, BNC, and other news outlets discussing important health care issues and social topics.

A native of Shreveport, LA. Dr. Robinson resides in Chicago, IL with his wife and two sons. When he is not working, he enjoys swimming, cycling, fishing, and spending time outdoors. For more on Derek Robinson and his memoir Improbable MD visit:

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What kind of writer am I? by Chetoca Barfield – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Chetoca Barfield will be awarding a $10 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.

What kind of writer am I?

Hmm, what kind of writer am I? I have no idea. I know that isn’t the politically correct answer, but it is the truth. If you would have told me 5 years ago that I was destined to write a book. I would have laughed and thought you were crazy. I mean sure I thought about writing a book, but I’ve also thought about being a physician-scientist. During the pandemic I too was trying to figure out what life meant at that time.

That time of reflection led me down a spiritual path that I wasn’t ready to travel. Yet, there I was. God wanted me to surrender to His will, yet I wanted a different path. After several years of having this on and off discussion with God; when the pandemic occurred, there was no escaping the conversation. As much as I tried to avoid it there were constant reminders plaguing me. One day I gave up. I was tired of ducking and dodging God.

That road traveled led me to becoming an author. When I think of an “author” I think this is a person who has a considerable amount of writing skills. Uh, that is definitely not me. I am a better speaker than writer. For whatever reason I have always found it challenging to write things down on paper. I must say that when I wrote my first book the words just came to me. I know. Very much contradictory to not being good at writing things down on paper.

You’ve often heard how some writers have “writer’s block?” Yea, that wasn’t me. Once I began writing I wrote until I completed the book. I don’t know if that is a good thing or a bad thing, but that was my process. So, if you are still wondering what kind of writer am I? My response is I’m still figuring it out.

Join in on the fun as Ms. Nelly teaches her Sunday school class how to interact with God. Each story in this collection is ideal for reading aloud in just five minutes – a perfect fit for bedtime, story time, or anytime!

Enjoy an Excerpt

Class: Everyone in the class raise their hands except for Cindy.

Ms. Nelly: Thank you, class; please put your hands down. Cindy, would you like for me to repeat the question?

Cindy: No, Ms. Nelly. I believe Jesus loves me…when he’s not sleeping.

Ms. Nelly: Oh really, why would you say that?

Cindy: God isn’t answering my prayers so, I believe he has fallen asleep.

Class: Laughs

Bhatti: God doesn’t sleep, Cindy.

Ms. Nelly: You are right, Bhatti. God does not sleep.

Cindy: Ok, if you say so.

Ms. Nelly: Yes, I do. Class, today we are working on our next Sunday school program. Our program is all about the blessings of God. Each of you will share your story on how God bless you or how you witness God blessing someone else. Would anyone like to share their story?

Theo: Yes, Ms. Nelly. God allowed my mom to give me chocolate chip cookies as a snack. This was a blessing from GOD. Mom never lets me eat anything sweet.

Ms. Nelly: Very good, Theo.

Victoria: God blessed my lunchbox. God allowed my mom to give me a lot of food for lunch. I shared half of my lunch with my friend, who left her lunch bag at home.

Ms. Nelly: Victoria, that was nice of you to share your lunch with someone in need.

Class: Yes, Yep, very nice.

Connor: God blessed me with the best adopted parents ever, Ms. Nelly. They cook for me, they spend time with me, and they kiss me at night and tell me how much they love me.

Ms. Nelly: That’s wonderful, Connor.

About the Author:My name is Chetoca Barfield. I was born and raised in a small town located in Eastern North Carolina with my parents and 2 siblings; and older brother and younger sister. Growing up I had dreams of becoming a lawyer. There wasn’t anything that sparked this interest, but I knew early on in grade school that I loved to research and explain how things came to be.
Graduating from high school I knew that I would pursue criminal justice studies at Elizabeth City State University (i.e., ECSU) with hopes of having a career as a criminal prosecutor.
My freshman year in college I laid eyes on my dream guy who has been my husband for the last 19 years. I knew the moment I saw him walk out of the café I was going to marry him.

I know that may sound weird, but it’s the truth. Michael (my husband) and I didn’t begin dating until one year later. It’s funny how things happen, but that is a story for another day. In 2000 I graduated from ECSU and began working in corporate America a customer service representative. At the same time, I was studying to taking the LSAT to enter law school.

In 2003 Michael and I wed. Marriage was fun, enjoyable, and I didn’t want anything to interrupt our marital bliss 😊 except for the mini dachshund I adopted; his name is Baxter. Baxter was a welcomed interruption, but I thought that was all the interruption we needed. I made the decision to no longer pursue law school.

To be honest studying has never been my strong suit. Law school demands a lot of time and at that point in my life I wasn’t ready to commit. I enjoyed working in corporate America but knew staying in a customer service role wasn’t my “forever” career choice as I wanted to pursue a leadership role.

In 2006 I received my MBA degree from Strayer University. During this time my corporate career was starting to take off. I moved into a supervisory role and lead an operations team for a few years within the financial industry. In 2011, I was offered a higher-level leadership opportunity with a different financial institution.

It was the best decision I could have made for my career goals as I have thrived promotionally ever since. Leading teams for the last 15 years led me down an unexpected path; mentoring. I’ve mentored many colleagues and peers from a career development perspective. I must say this was an un-disclose passion that I didn’t know I had until I was knee deep in it.

As time progressed, mentoring evolved into to helping individuals, groups, etc. navigate life challenges. Growing up in my household my parents had a rule for my siblings and me. If we didn’t attend church on Sunday’s, we couldn’t go anywhere for the rest of the day. Every Sunday we were in church.

While I didn’t appreciate going to the church as much as I did at that time, I’m thankful that I did. It was through my Sunday school teacher that I learned how to develop a relationship with God. As I’ve grown in my walk with Christ this vital lesson has helped me through many difficult moments.

When COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020 all our lives were altered. The daily routines that were once in place was replaced with social isolation, mental health challenges, social injustice, and doubting faith. The need of having a healthy support system was magnified and this need lead to the birth of Treasured Possession.

Treasured Possession is a mentoring community that I created to provide encouragement, support, and tools to equip the body of Christ to lead healthy lives in body, mind, and spirit. The name Treasured Possession comes from Deuteronomy 7:6 (ESV) “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.”

You & I are his most Treasured Possession.

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My book’s biggest inspiration by Jay Ibrahim – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Jay Ibrahim will be awarding a $15 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.

My book’s biggest inspiration

I have been sitting and dwelling on what to write and how to sound inspirational for my story. After concluding my studies in psychology and human behaviours, I have focused solely on finding the source of people’s happiness, the reason for depression, people’s need to better themselves and why most succumb to a lifestyle of comfortable mediocracy. Hence, I started working on a short eBook model whereby I write on how to revamp your life and reach excellence in 30 days. After a meeting with my mentor, he helped me understand the need for such a book and asked me one question, “why not write a book instead?” The rest was history. It started my 2-year journey of writing my greatest work, diving into 13 years of experience and knowledge in the field. While sharing stories from students, mentors and leaders in all areas of life. I could break it down into four pillars: health, wealth, relationship and spirituality.

Everything around us consists of four, from significant molecules in the air and our body (hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen and carbon), to four natural states of matter: Solids, liquids, gases and plasma. From four elements of nature (Fire, Water, Earth, and Air) to four foundations of a house (four walls). Everything became a concept of four, and when I studied human nature better and what consist of the good life, it all came down to four pillars: health, wealth, relationship and spirituality.

Health is derived from both physical and mental health why most of us see the traumatic experience as a debilitating experience when we can turn it around and let it be the fuel that motivates us. Wealth- which touches base on our hierarchy of needs (security) where it provides us with comfort, stability and freedom. Also, wealth is the abundance of health. Relationship in both romantic sense and lifestyle, including business. Find out how we are all connected in one way or another- our connections to others and our need for bonding and belonging aspire to greatness returns of investment, i.e., genuine joy. Finally, spirituality where is all connected circularly. We all come back to our spiritual essence, our form of leadership and legacy-making, and how we take accountability and acknowledge our purpose. How do we move with honesty and humility toward our true calling?

The world requires us to be our true self, but with one pillar unhinged, all our foundation comes crumbling down. That is why you remain unhappy even if you gain wealth. Or why we are unsatisfied in our relationships even though she/he was the love of our life. It is because we are disjointed, and our pillars could not withhold us from the struggles we must endure. The book became a reality after two years of working till the late hours of the night through the weekend. I missed birthdays and celebrations because I owed it to people to finish the book, so I stayed on course until the job was done. Now it is within your grasp; it will get you to ask questions, and with that, you will find the answers to your eternal mystery.

Raise the bar above the life mediocracy and reach excellence and proficiency in your daily life. Your first step starts with the first chapter- so what are you waiting for?

Raise the Bar is about leaving the world of normalcy and mediocrity and raising yourself above your standard. It is about living a life of excellence and mastery in all aspects of your life, including health, wealth, relationships and spirituality. Most of us are good, but when we are told how to live great, we say, “I’m good enough.” This mindset is damaging and limiting, hence we succumb to our thoughts, not our potential. This book will take you on a thirty-day journey to take your life to extraordinary levels and become whole. Raise the bar in everything that you do and become a legacy-maker.

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As we start this new journey and embark on something bigger, we must do
one thing.

We must determine where you want to be? Where do you want to be in 30 days?

What type of person do you NEED to become?

Thirty days might not sound like a long time but let me tell you, it only takes one day to change the rest of your life, so do not be fooled by the duration of the days. What really matters is what today looks like. Shape your day, and the world will mould itself to fit within your mind.

We will touch on thousands of books in psychology, social psychology, forensics, behavioural psychology, relationships, mindset, spirituality, health, divine living, growth, leadership, and trauma. The list goes on during this journey that we are taking. I have over a decade of experience working in this field, impacting, empowering, leading, and influencing people around me.

The goal is that you will see the best version of yourself with every step in the journey. Every day that you take toward your goal is a day closer to a lifestyle of freedom, living, and a positive mindset. Over the years, my work has been to capture misplaced innocence, which allowed many to break away from their shackles and eliminate the impression that we have limits.

But I am here to tell you and show you that in our 30-day journey together, you are only limited by the mindset you have allowed others to create for you.

Therefore, you will soon realise that no matter where you are placed on Earth, your process of living can begin when you decide that today is the day.

Whenever you are held back or think of stopping because you are not good enough or whatever other reason people place on you, tell yourself one thing:

Not Today. Just NOT today.

So, let us begin your 30-day challenge of transformation by defining what you need to be.

Think long and hard about who you want to become within the next 30 days. Not just anyone. Really think hard and ask yourself: If I cannot be this person, then is my life worth living? I know it sounds morbid, but we need to dive deep into what truly motivates you so you can commit for 30 days and know that if you hesitate and miss a day, you must start all over again. However, when you think deep down why you are committing yourself to these 30 days, it needs to be something so divine that it pushes and motivates you because your life depends on it.

I promise you this process works, and everything that we will be doing over the upcoming weeks will lead toward a lifestyle you never saw possible.

About the Author Jay Ibrahim is an entrepreneur who revolutionized the relationship world. His background in psychology, behavioural psych, Applied Behavior Analysis, psychotherapy and rehab counselling over the last eleven years puts him ahead of the race when it comes to relationships, conflict and resorting to your love life once again. His decades of experience and profound knowledge of modern ages and classic strategies of resorting to relationships and communication give all his clients the comfort to know they are in good hands, and that there is no problem he can’t handle. Jay has an online platform called Metanoia Academy. Ultimate Freedom Journey is one of his successful programs, helping thousands of people raise the bar in health, wealth, relationships, and spirituality and live a life of freedom mentality. He is a world-renowned love doctor mentoring clients on how to be the ultimate man.

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10 things readers might not know about me by Mariëlle S. Smith – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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

10 things readers might not know about me

1. I can play Tavli (Backgammon for the English speakers). I’m an absolute beginner since my partner, who’s a Cypriot, only recently started teaching me, but I do know how to play.

2. I’ve been a vegan for many years.

3. Before moving to Cyprus, I taught gender and postcolonial studies (and some media studies) at the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands.

4. I’ve recently adopted three kittens. I found them when they were five weeks old and was supposed to foster them until they were old enough to be adopted, but we fell head over heels with each other. It’s my first ever failed foster.

5. I’m an INFJ and score really high on the introvert scale. The last time I did the test, it was around 90%.

6. I co-host two writing podcasts: Diving into Writing with Lucinda Pebre, and Doing Diversity in Writing with Bethany A. Tucker.

7. I have a pretty large crystal collections (over 150 the last time I counted, which was when I was moving them to Cyprus). Before the pandemic, when I travelled a bit more often, I had the habit to find at least one crystal shop in the area I was visiting and buy whichever stone(s) spoke to me.

8. I volunteer at a local charity that does TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) on the sizable stray cat population (there are more cats in Cyprus than humans).

9. I have two half-siblings I’ve never met.

10. I quit my PhD to move to Cyprus and focus full-time on my writing, my editing, and my coaching of other writers. I left with just enough money for the first six months and it’s been three-and-a-half years now.

*** Now available in black-and-white AND full colour! ***

‘The more grateful I am, the more beauty I see.’ Mary Davis

Gratitude is not just about ATTITUDE.

Gratitude is about PRACTICE.

But how do you create a gratitude practice that sticks?

After the success of her first 365 Days of Gratitude Journal, writing coach Mariëlle S. Smith brings you Volume 2. Same journal but with an entirely different look!

After years of barely surviving her own emotional minefield, Mariëlle discovered the transformative power of practising gratitude. But, like no one else, she knows that cultivating an attitude of gratitude is easier said than done.

365 Days of Gratitude, Vol. 2 is an undated, guided journal. Complete with inspiring quotes, daily prompts, and recurring check-ins, it was designed to help you create a sustainable gratitude practice too.

Commit to the life-changing power of gratitude today and order your copy now!

Enjoy an Excerpt

I’m not here to sell you on gratitude. There are many articles and research papers I could be citing to convince you just how great practising gratitude is for you. I think you’re already aware of that, though. Perhaps you’ve read some of those articles and papers or maybe you just know it somewhere deep down—or not so deep down.

I’m not hooked on gratitude because it works wonders on my blood pressure and promises to help me sleep better. Although it probably does that, too.

I’m hooked on gratitude because it enables me to perceive everything in life as magical again. I’m hooked because I’m not the same person I was since I started practising it. And because I slip and return to being that anxious, burned out, overachieving workaholic as soon as I stray from the gratitude path—which happens far more often than I care to admit.

Gratitude is a commitment for life. I created this journal to help you commit and turn your gratitude practice into a sustainable one.

About the Author:Mariëlle S. Smith is a writer, writing coach, and editor. She lives in Cyprus, where she organises private writer’s retreats, is inspired 24/7, and feeds more stray cats than she can count.

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Walks by Big Alex’s Pond by Henry Van Berkel – Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Henry Van Berkel will be awarding a $15 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.

Ten years after Big Alex MacDonald leaves his home in Ashdale, Nova Scotia, in the 1880’s to find his fortune, he amasses fabulous wealth almost overnight in the Yukon and becomes known as “the King of the Klondike”. At his death a decade later, there is not enough money in his estate to cover expenses. What happened to his immense riches? A century after Alex’s departure from Nova Scotia, the author purchases “Big Alex’s” family land and finds his own El Dorado amongst the riches of friends, neighbours and family, and the endless fascinations of nature. On hikes along the roads of the historic property he muses about the drama of his own past, and the life journeys of his family members and those of his neighbours.

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First, I must tell you the story behind the name for the pond. Alexander “Big Alex” MacDonald was born on this property on October 15, 1854, and baptized fifteen kilometres away in St. Ninian’s Cathedral, Antigonish, a week later. Alex was the son of upright, hardy Scottish immigrants who had laboured mightily to clear the land and build a prosperous farm on top of these Ashdale highlands, located approximately two miles north of Lochaber

Lake, the very lake Joseph Howe had described in 1821 as “Sydney’s sylvan pride.” (Antigonish County was called Sydney County in his day.) Alex’s family were known locally as the “Black Bills.” I think this was because Alex’s father, William, had black hair. It was a way to distinguish this MacDonald family from numerous other members of the MacDonald clan who had settled in Antigonish County, having been forced out of the highlands of Scotland during the century following the 1746 disaster at Culloden.

William MacDonald was born in Strattglass, Scotland, in 1814, migrated to Nova Scotia with his buddy, William Chisholm in 1834, and bought the Ashdale property from Edward Hayes. To earn the money to buy the farm, he walked eight hundred kilometres to Miramichi, New Brunswick, to work in the woods. There he saved his hard-earned cash, and after accumulating sufficient funds to give him prospects, he returned to Antigonish the way he had come—by foot.

William then laboured one summer for Murdock MacRae in the neighbouring community of Beaver Meadow. His payment was a cow. With these carefully gathered assets, he entered marriage in 1844 with a Margaret Catherine Chisholm of Antigonish Harbour, and together they developed their farm and raised a family of ten children: sons William, Donald, Daniel, Alexander, John, and Colin and daughters Margaret, Ellen, Ann, and Elizabeth. Alex was their fifth child.

It is likely that Alex learned Gaelic at his mother’s knee. Whatever English he picked up during his childhood at home or at the local school did not give him ease and fluency of expression in his second language. His speech, in adulthood, was described as hesitant and awkward, so much so, that some thought he wasn’t too smart.

About the Author:Ten years after Big Alex MacDonald leaves his home in Ashdale, Nova Scotia, in the 1880’s to find his fortune, he amasses fabulous wealth almost overnight in the Yukon and becomes known as “the King of the Klondike”. At his death a decade later, there is not enough money in his estate to cover expenses. What happened to his immense riches? A century after Alex’s departure from Nova Scotia, the author purchases “Big Alex’s” family land and finds his own El Dorado amongst the riches of friends, neighbours and family, and the endless fascinations of nature. On hikes along the roads of the historic property he muses about the drama of his own past, and the life journeys of his family members and those of his neighbours.

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Bringing Up Mother by Beverley Johnson – Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organizee by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding a $15 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn host. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Beverley learns about God in Kindergarten and invites Him to come to Jamaica and give her her own Bible story. She goes home each day and waits at her gate for Him to show up. Will He show up, and will she be ready for her story if and when He does?

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Over the years, financially speaking, things had gone from bad to worse in my home. I got used to living with poverty and disappointment. Things had gotten so bad that I was forced to drop out of school before my fourteenth birthday. That was a very traumatic experience for me, because I loved school and did well in school. I wanted to be with kids in my age group at Denbeigh Junior Secondary School, doing what they were doing: learning, planning the future, and having fun being silly and carefree. To protect my mind, I told myself to stop expecting good things to happen and just take each day as it came.

The very day I dropped out of school was the day The Man dropped into my life. I had never seen Him, but after some time, I concluded that He was very intelligent, so He must be a spirit. I also sensed He was a man. In fact, the day I came to that conclusion, I shouted, “I know who you are!” I knew that I knew Him, but I just couldn’t put my finger on the name. After spending some time trying to figure out who He was, I gave up and yelled, “You are a man… and you are a spirit!” So much for knowing who He was. I prayed and begged for help getting back into school, and all I got was that presence. Well, that and the burnings that followed my every attempt to escape Him.

What I’d come to refer to as burnings felt more like being zapped by electricity or a laser. As soon as I sensed my environment become extraordinarily quiet, I knew The Man was present and I would try to run, but something like electricity would hit me and I would become paralyzed. My survival instincts would take over, and I’d fight, cuss, yell, or scream—but to no avail. No one ever heard me. I’d lose consciousness for about fifteen minutes, then reawaken to the intense burning sensations inside my body, especially my joints.

So that morning, when I felt Him looking at me from the foot of my bed, I thought He was there to “burn” me, again. I opened my eyes and stared at the spot where I sensed the strong presence. Under the blankets, I was cussing, among other things, saying, “Leave me alone! Leave me alone! Why won’t you leave me alone? What do you want from me? What do you want from me? Why are you bothering me?” I yelled in my mind, something I did every time I felt His presence.

Although He remained unseen, I always sensed Him. I even covered myself from head to toe with a blanket in a vain attempt to protect myself from Him as I slept, just in case He showed up while I was deep in sleep.

About the Author:

Beverley was born and raised in the rural parish of Clarendon, Jamaica, where she attended the Content United Brethren Church and its Basic (Kindergarten) school, better known as Sister Betty’s school. Growing up, she attended York Town Primary and Denbigh Junior Secondary school, now Denbigh High School. She migrated to Toronto, Canada, as a young adult. A graduate of the University of Toronto and OISE, she is an Elementary teacher by profession, and also a Sunday school teacher. She enjoys reading, writing, travelling and working with children.

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The Rise of the Last Beast Kingdom by One Who Loves GOD – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Loves GOD will be awarding a $75 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.

Enslaved by a system of its own creation, humankind desperately seeks to free itself from the Beast. Lacking the knowledge, having refused the truth, all hope is gone…or is it?

Examining our history from creation to the present, this book provides insight as to why we are where we are today. Using the Hebrew Scriptures as its guide, we are taken from the cause of our plight to the ultimate ending. Although the Hebrew Scriptures are used, this is not a book supporting any major religion. There are only a few people in the world today who actually follow and obey the WORD of God – YeHoVaH. Most of the world follows man made religious practices. This book explains how this came about and how the present day systems evolved. This book provides a means for hope for the world, something surely needed now and especially in the coming days.

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The archeological evidence which is currently being discovered support what we are told in the Bible. The site Tel Eridu currently known as Abu Shahrain has been identified as the ancient site of Eridu. The findings in chronological order are consistent with the biblical narrative – Founded by the strong leader of the period who introduced the worship of a new god, came to dominate the region, began the building of large temple-Tower of Babel-to a new deity which was abandoned, as was the area and surrounding areas were afterwards abandoned. Archeologists have noted these facts.

It has also been noted by the archeological studies that what is known as “the Uruk expansion” began at the time Eridu was abandoned – at the time YeHoVaH confused the Language and spread the peoples out of the areas they had settled before the confusion. Archeological findings indicate a period of rapid decay occurring after the Late Uruk expansion and the rise of the cities throughout the Mesopotamian region.

After the Confusion of Language, Eridu was abandoned for hundreds of years.

This coincided with the Uruk expansion. Archeologists have found the spread of the Uruk and its successor culture Jemdet Nasr spreading from lower Mesopotamia (Shinar) to areas throughout Mesopotamia and beyond.

The descendents of Noah continued to spread out across the globe after the Confusion of Language, spreading and developing various cultures as they went. As we are told in the Bible, the sons of Noah and their descendants each spread in different directions, although it must be understood that there was mixing of the various clans from the beginning. Erudu was later reestablished after the 750 years absence.

About the Author:

As a child in elementary school, only attending church on Easter, the author did not feel strange when getting down on their knees and praying to GOD. Entering high school, the pull to understand GOD became greater and greater. A study of various religious books began – the Bible, Islam, eastern religions and thoughts were all examined. After reading the Hebrew Bible and particularly Isaiah 56:7 – “I will bring them to my holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”

The author determined that the GOD of the Hebrew Bible was in fact GOD. The author then began following the Hebrew traditions.

After earning an undergraduate degree from an Ivy League University and a law degree, the author began a successful law practice, joining the ranks of the millionaire’s club while living in Brentwood, CA near Beverly Hills. Life continued with marriage by a Rabbi and a family – until disaster hit. Business fell apart and bankruptcy left the author with nothing except faith in GOD which continued. A period of moving back and forth across the USA, 6 times in 8 years, finally resulted in settlement in the eastern USA. Upon finally deciding to stay in the east, one last trip was needed to the west by the author. During this trip, GOD brought an understanding to the author which changed everything and led to the writing of this book.


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